One of several formes fixes in French lyric poetry and song, cultivated particularly in the 14th–15th centuries. It consists of three main stanzas having the same rhyme scheme plus a shortened final dedicatory stanza; all four stanzas have identical final refrain lines. The texts were often solemn and formal, containing elaborate symbolism and classical references. Though present in the poetry of many ages and regions, the ballade in its purest form was found only in France and England. Its precursors can be found in the songs of the troubadours and trouvères.