Minnesang (Mid.H.Ger. “love song”) refers to a rich tradition of poetry and music in the Middle High German dialects most prevalent in what is now the area of Bavaria between the XII and XIV Centuries; its practitioners, most of whom were members of the feudal aristocracy, are known as Minnesänger.
Minnesang grew out of the already robust tradition of German epic poetry under the influence of the troubadours of Provence. Thus early Minnesang often deals primarily with epic/narrative and religious themes, and even mature Minnesang often presents themes of love and courtship in the presence of an epic or religious context. The German medieval epics (not to be confused with very early Germanic language epics such as Beowulf) sometimes deal with homoeroticism and same-sex romances, but such material is conspicuously absent from Minnesang. By the mid XII C. some Minnesänger were producing clear contrefacts, that is, German-language renditions of Provençal songs. From this basis, the courtly tunesmiths began develping their own lyrics in a similar vein.