Medieval Matters


Political and Social Matters

Religious Matters

Notable Events and Concepts

Aspects of Life in the Period

The Three Estates


Serfs and Free Men

The Peasant’s Revolt of 1381

The Church

The Papal Schism


The Inquisition

Religious Observance

The Black Death

The Flat Earth


Seasonal Activities

The Economy


Medieval Diseases

Language (Example of Middle-English)
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One thought on “Medieval Matters

  1. In the past few years I’ve been studying medieval music notation. This has two benefits for me, one tangible and one psychological. The first benefit is that I can read and learn pieces of medieval music that don’t happen to have drawn the attention of a modern editor (there are probably hundreds or thousands of such pieces surviving from the 14th and 15th centuries). Second, in order to correctly interpret this notation, one has to “get into a medieval musician’s head,” thinking about music differently from the way a modern-trained musician does.

    For example, a musician c. 1400 wouldn’t have recognized the terms “sharp” and “flat”, but would rather have thought in terms of “mi” (which has a half-step above it) and “fa” (which has a half-step below it). Obviously, the note E is “mi”, while F is “fa” — but B-natural and F-sharp are also “mi”, while B-flat and E-flat are “fa”. And sharps and flats were often not written down, but understood as a matter of musical taste and convention, a practice called “musica ficta”.

    Likewise, music c. 1400 was written without bar lines: there was generally a consistent beat roughly equivalent to a modern “measure”, but notes could easily bleed over from the end of one “measure” into the beginning of the next. The modern way of writing that, with ties, makes it seem like an exception, more of a big deal than it would be to a medieval musician. Seeing notes grouped in a way driven by their melodic purpose, rather than broken up to fit into arbitrary, fixed-size measures, allows one to play them more smoothly and naturally.

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