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Tannhäuser was a German Minnesänger and poet. Historically, his biography is obscure beyond the poetry, which dates between 1245 and 1265. Socially, he presumed familial lineage with the old nobles, the Lords of Thannhausen, residents in their castle at Tannhausen, near Ellwangen and Dinkelsbühl; moreover, the historical Tannhausen castle, is at Neumarkt in der Oberpfalz. Tannhäuser was an active courtier at the court of Frederick II of Austria, and the Codex Manesse depicts him clad in the Teutonic Order habit, suggesting he might have fought the Fifth Crusade. As literature, Tannhäuser’s poems parody the traditional genre, because he was a proponent of the leich style of poetry; however, the Bußlied is unusual, given the eroticism of the remaining Codex Manesse.
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a knight of medieval legend, who wins the affection of a lady, but leaves her to worship in the cave-palace of Venus, on learning which the lady plunges a dagger into her heart and dies; smitten with remorse he visits her grave, weeps over it, and hastens to Rome to confess his sin to Pope Urban; the Pope refuses absolution, and protests it is no more possible for him to receive pardon than for the dry wand in his hand to bud again and blossom; in his despair he flees from Rome, but is met by Venus, who lures him back to her cave, there to remain till the day of judgment; meanwhile the wand he left at Rome begins to put forth green leaves, and Urban, alarmed, sends off messengers in quest of the unhappy knight, but they fail to find him.
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