01 Mar 2005
Royal Holloway-British Library Lectures in Musicology
MUSIC AND COURTLINESS The elite civilisation of Europe in the central and later Middle ages is often spoken of as a ‘courtly’ one, where the ‘courts’ at issue include the households of secular magnates, bishops and abbots. Men and women of exalted station had always possessed courts in the West, since Roman imperial times, but after approximately 1050 writings from Western Europe refer with increasing frequency to a quality of ‘courtliness’, or curialitas. A music theorist of c1100, whom we know only by the name ‘Johannes’, is the first European writer to identify certain kinds of music as inherently ‘courtly’ (curialis) and therefore appropriate to courtliness. Since his treatise is a technical one, we can trace this courtliness in terms of actual musical procedures. We can also place him, with some confidence, exactly where other sources lead us to expect him, in the episcopal and indeed imperial milieux of ‘Germany’.