Neidhart von Reuental

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Neidhart portrayed in the Codex Manesse

Neidhart von Reuental (possibly born c. 1190 – died after 1236 or 1237)[1] (Middle High German: Nîthart von Riuwental; also Her Nîthart) was one of the most famous German minnesingers. He was probably active in Bavaria and then is known to have been a singer at the court of Friedrich II in Vienna. As a minnesinger he was most active from 1210 to at least 1236.

Neidhart is very well known for being rather sarcastic and comical. More melodies survive by him than from any other minnesinger.

His name is most likely a pseudonym, for its meaning is more or less Grim-Heart of Lament-Valley. The second part of his name, however, was "reconstructed" by philologists of the 19th century, who took literally the role of the "speaker," who calls himself "von Reuental" in his poems, and thus combined it with the author's name, which was simply "Nîthart". All manuscript sources until the 15th century refer to him only as "Nithart". His songs often stand in harsh contrast to the normal minnesinger topic, courtly or romantic love. This style has been referred to as Höfische Dorfpoesie (courtly village-poetry) by philologist Karl Lachmann and was often imitated by composers called pseudo-Neidharts.

Probably his best-known song is "Meienzît" ("May Time") in which Neidhart starts by describing a peaceful spring scenario but quickly comes to insulting his foes (and several friends and allies who betrayed him).


In about 1407, Viennese cloth merchant Michel Menschein commissioned a series of four murals for his private dance-hall based on songs by Neidhart. Each fresco depicts scenes from one of the four seasons of the year. The frescoes are remarkable as one of the few surviving works of the kind on a secular subject from so early a date. They were discovered during redevelopment in 1979 and are exhibited in situ by the City of Vienna Museum, which undertook an extensive restoration.[2]


  1. ^ Dates given in New Grove
  2. ^ Neidhart Fresken [1], Wien Museum


  • Michael Shields, "Neidhart [Nîthart] 'von Reuental' ['der von Riuwental']" in New Grove Music Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2001