The Title of "Bard" is most associated with the immortal Elizabethan Writer, William Shakespeare. In reality, a Bard was a Title conveyed upon any Professional Writer of everything from Song, to Poetry and Plays. The exact origins of the Title and how it developed is greatly debated .
They appear in 7th Century Celtic Culture as "Fili", or Storytellers. Responsible for maintaining "Oral Historical" traditions, they were very well regarded in their Society. Self-formed "Guilds" placed Fili at the top. Bards were considered a "Lower" or Apprenticed form. By the 12th Century, the Fili had faded with Bards becoming the dominate form of the Profession. These men wrote Poetry, Songs and related verse. In performance, a Bard did not sing, but recited his "verse". As time progressed, The Bard became a Literary talent, recruited from University and School by Nobility, for their "personal" prestige. The most well known or best regarded Bards were highly sought for "Court Duties".
More professional Guilds were formed by the 15th Century in England and France. Those not fortunate enough to go to a proper School, often performed with roving Minstrel Troupes. By the 16th Century, some Bards began to concentrate their talents on writing Plays. Theater became the dominate form if Medieval entertainment at thus point, with names such as Bacon and Shakespeare becoming the dominate producers of the Art Form. By the 18th Century, The term Bard had all but faded from general use. It became reserved for Masters of popular Writing - which was linked to the undisputed "King of Bards" - William Shakespeare.