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Title: Sound, Violence, and the Period Ear in Thirteenth-Century France
Authors: Phillips, Jenna Rebecca
Advisors: Jordan, William C
Contributors: History Department
Keywords: France
Robert of Artois
Subjects: Medieval history
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This project seeks to recapture a distant sound-world at a time when written record began to compete with human memory as a means of preserving information, when the proliferation of documents in the vernacular began to reveal the private lives of thirteenth-century warriors and their communities. Knights, counts and crusaders used music and poetry to broadcast their political identities; in so doing they elevated the cadences of regional languages to new levels of prestige. The evolving “recording technology” of the four-line musical staff (and its swift adoption beyond the monastery, by noble and bourgeois patrons alike), meant that for the first time in Western history, the songs and oral traditions that were on people’s lips and playing in their heads—the background music of human history—were being written down. This thesis restores these records to their historical contexts—specifically within waves of military conquest in northern Europe and the Mediterranean. Archival documents from France’s Départements du Pas-de-Calais and du Nord are employed alongside poetic, musical records found in chansonniers, chronicles, and a rare, portable performer’s roll, to study the social world of one of Europe’s most prolific centers for secular musical composition, the French appanage of Artois during the lifetime of count Robert II (1248-1302). Investigating the historical conditions of vernacular media production, I provide a database of several hundred knights and trouvères. This research indicates that demand for vernacular records was driven by the bellicose, literate circles of northern French aristocracy and that singers were often veterans of repeat campaigns. Meanwhile, records of the competitive/combative musical genre of the jeu parti reveal that performance could transcend divisions of class and gender. Their vivid documentation allows me to begin reconstructing what, in my thesis, I call “the period ear.” Chapters address in succession: the thirteenth-century social and political conditions of northern France and its Flemish border; the agonistic, musical culture of the tournament, focusing on records from Le Hem and Chauvency; performance and transmission of jeux partis in Artois and beyond; and finally, the French nobility as perceived by its opponents during the conquest of Sicily.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:History

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