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Tower Seminar Series – A Medieval Song by a Prisoner of War: Aesthetics and Politics in Thirteenth-Century France
October 27, 2021 at 4:00 pm - 5:30 pmFree
Presenter: Dr. Joseph Mason, University of Oxford
Chair: Dr Eleanor Giraud
Historians and scholars of thirteenth-century literature have described music and poetry as a ‘civilising’ force in the later Middle Ages. There is a tacit belief that music and poetry, as aesthetic and entertaining activities, had little to do with the brutal violence in which the aristocracy engaged in and for which they trained. However, a small number of songs have come down to us in the surviving songbooks of the period that demonstrate the occasionally close connections between songs and moments of conflict. This paper discusses one of the oldest surviving songs by a prisoner of war that is accompanied by music notation, a song by Thibaut II, count of Bar. It will be shown that aesthetic aspects of the song (form, structure and poetics) served clearly political purposes. The paper will be accompanied by live performance.
Admission is free and all are welcome.