A troubador (or troubadour) was a composer and performer of songs in particular styles during the Middle Ages in Europe. The word troubadour cames from the Occitan verb trobar which means find. It is used to designate artists using occitan in opposition to the trouvères whish used the langues d'oïl of the north of France. The custom began in France during the 11th century; William, IX Duke of Aquitaine is often credited with being the first troubador. Many troubadors travelled for great distances, aiding in the transmission of news and culture from one region to another.
Troubadors mainly dealt with themes of chivalry and courtly love, although their songs might deal with all sorts of other themes as well. Perhaps most famous were the songs addressed by the singer to a married lover. Perhaps due to the prevalence of arranged marriages at the time, this theme of true love outside the bonds of marriage (usually chaste love, at least in formal works) apparently hit a strong chord with the listeners. The aubade formed one popular genre.
Similar roles were filled in different times and regions by persons known as minstrels and jongleurs. The German Minnesingers are closely related to, and inspired by, troubadors, but they have distinctive features of their own.