Tannhäuser tän´hoizər [key], 13th cent., German minnesinger, whose adventurous wanderings became the subject of legend. Sixteen of his own lyrics are extant, including Buszlied (Song of Repentance). They indicate that he served several noble patrons and probably was a Crusader. In a 16th-century ballad, Tannhäuser escapes the snares of Venus with the help of Our Lady, but is refused papal absolution until the budding of his staff indicates divine grace. This story and that of his participation in a singing contest at the Wartburg are the materials for Wagner's opera Tannhäuser (1843–44). The story also figures in Swinburne's poem Laus Veneris.

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