Chapter 6 Lessons

6A: Materials online for studying the Normans and the Crusades

Resources abound for studying the Normans, as is the case of many topics in medieval English history.  Because the only thing separating the USA from the UK is a common language, the materials are especially useful for teachers and students this side of the pond.

The Bayeux Tapestry (see MIMW 6) is well served with digital images and even with animations.  This one translates the Latin sub-titles into English too:

This one, in documentary style, describes the Battle of Hastings by a narrator standing on the site:

There are great numbers of history series on Youtube, which include maps, photos, and footage of historic places. Here an excerpt from one well-made series:

For understanding the conquering Normans, maps can be especially useful, both for teaching and learning.  Wiki commons hosts a series of maps on the Normans in various regions of Europe and the Mid-East:

The First Crusade is perhaps the most studied of them all, with a plentiful online presence, and uneven quality, as might be expected.   For a quick overview of all twelfth and thirteenth-century crusades, this timeline is pretty good, but as we know from MIMW, chapter 6, there is no surviving music to plug in to events of the first crusade:

6B: An Online Source for the Study of Music in the region of St. Martial

We have two of the pieces featured in MIMW, Chapter 6, because of the monastic cantor Bernard Itier  (d.1225) and his desires to collect and preserve old liturgical books.  A short discussion of Itier’s life and work can be found in my Gothic Song (1993 and 2011), pp. 110- 121; a new edition and translation of his historical work has just appeared by Andrew Lewis: The Chronicle and Historical Notes of Bernard Itier (Oxford, 2013).  For those who want online sources, what remains of his book collection, preserved in the French National Library, offers a field day.  The two polyphonic works studied in Chapter 6 from the region of St. Martial are both online, and offer wonderful opportunities both to study changes in notation in the twelfth century, and to witness first hand the challenges the notation has presented to transcribers and performers.

Let’s find the book that contains “Annus Novus” online.   Go to Gallica: Pull down “manuscripts.”  And type in 1139.  You will get several hits, and scroll down to the manuscript and click OK:

What a thrill to have the very book before us:  although we can’t smell it or feel the parchment, we can see it, manipulate it, be in touch with its materiality!  When you open it, you can see some of Itier’s hand on folio 1r.   He wrote all over the place…sometimes in the margins of the chant manuscripts.

The first piece of music is on folio 2r, a sequence for St. Francis, the text set to the late eleventh century melody for the Christmas sequence “Letabundus.”  So, the first piece we meet is an intertext….In order to figure out how exactly the manuscript was made, we would need to have it present virtually (or have the work of a scholar who had been and described its features).  The study of the physical make up of a book is a science called codicology.  We can’t do much of that digitally, but we can do paleographic study, investigation of handwriting, with a digital source, and, because we can blow up details, sometimes it is an advantage to have the work digitally.

You know from your previous study that the sequence for St. Francis on folio 2r is in square notation, on staff, and that this helps us date it, for we know that this style of notation was evolving in the second half of the thirteenth century.  There are lots of features of the script we could discuss too, to help date it.  On folio 2v, there is a second sequence for Francis, and the rubric says “Another prose (sequence) that Gregory IX wrote for St. Francis.”   So the mention of historic figures from the thirteenth century also places this piece later than the twelfth century (Francis is discussed in Chapter 8 of MIMW). You could have a class debate about the hands of these two pieces for St. Francis…did the same person write them down?  On folio 3v is another sequence, this for St. Martial.  Look at the melody.  Have you seen it recently?

Where would you look up these sequences?  That’s right, in Analecta Hymnica, the Register.  They would most likely be in Vol. 55, so you could start there.  In Gothic Song, I made a little table of the sequence collections in this manuscript, and a summary of this perfunctory work follows, so you can look at the different hands and types of notation found in these various fasicles (I did not provide codicological study of these):

Fols. 1-8: small catch-all in various hands
Fol. 9 Inventory by Bernard Itier
Fols. 9v-31:  Proser of William la Concha (early 13th century, a sacristan, officer in charge of liturgical objects and preparations for services)
Fols. 80-118: liturgically ordered collection of 16 sequences, followed by various editions
Fols. 149-199: 34 sequences, liturgically ordered at the beginning
Fols. 209v-228 Early 13th century supplement of sequences

You can see that one major section of the manuscript is not tallied above, and it is there that we will find “Annus Novus.”   This section begins on fol. 32, so let’s go there; immediately you can sense that you are in a different world from that of the various sequence collections.  What is different about the notation here from the opening Francis sequence?  The script? The notation?  Turn to fol. 36v, where you will find “Annus Novus” and look at the piece as transcribed by Sarah Fuller in the Anthology.  Fuller is one of the great authorities in the world on Aquitanian notation, so to have her work as a guide is a boon.

Right away it can be seen that the modern notation expresses the piece, but it hides the nature of medieval practice, as is so often the case when one deals with transcriptions alone.  To understand, you always have to look at the manuscript.  The large capital in red cues your eye to where the piece begins, and you can follow the rise and fall of these Aquitanian neumes, very different from what you might find in the Liber Usualis.  They are heighted, but without a staff, and the neumes stacked neatly one on top of the other read from the top down.   You can see that the opening is the first of many monophonic verses.  The next line, “ad hec sollempnia,” etc. is the first line of the polyphonic refrain.  But where is the other voice?  After the sole voice of the two voice refrain, we get another verse.  And then comes the text of the refrain, “ad hec sollempnia,” etc., but the music is different.  Why?  This is the other voice!  What the transcriber or performer must do is fit the two together, fortunately with the syllables of this accentual poetry as a guide.

You can now turn to the next piece in the Anthology, “Stirps Jesse Florigeram,” and compare its notation as found in 1139 (60v-70r) to as found in a somewhat later source, Paris, BN lat. 3549, beginning on fol. 166v.  Why did Fuller choose to transcribe the piece from Lat. 3549?