©Photo. R.M.N. / R.-G. OjŽda

MALMECC will systematically explore late medieval (c. 1280-1450) court cultures and their music synoptically across Europe.

Project Structure

Music And Late Medieval European Court Cultures (MALMECC) is a five-year research project (2016-2020) funded by an Advanced Grant from the European Research Council. MALMECC is based in the Faculty of Music at the University of Oxford. The project is headed by Principal Investigator Karl Kügle and comprises a trans-disciplinary team of dedicated scholars in medieval studies, musicology, art history, and literature, including three full-time post-doctoral research fellows and an administrator. A large number of visiting scholars and an advisory board made up of a diverse range of distinguished international experts round out the inter-disciplinary MALMECC research team.  You can find out more about the sub-projects which comprise MALMECC by visiting our RESEARCH AREAS page. Illuminated sheet music


‘New Medievalist’ Studies

Late medieval European court cultures have traditionally been studied from a mono-disciplinary and national(ist) perspective. This focus has obscured much of the interplay of cultural performances that informed “courtly life”. Recent research has begun to reverse this, focusing on issues such as the tensions between orality, writing, and performance; the sociocultural dimensions of making and owning manuscripts (musical and otherwise); the interstices between musical, literary and visual texts and political, social and religious rituals; and the impact of gender, kinship, and social status on the genesis and transmission of culture and music.  These “new medievalist” studies have significantly enhanced our understanding of the cultural meanings of singing, listening, and sound in late medieval times.

Picture of a king playing bells

Harley 2899 – British Library

Towards a new approach

 MALMECC will systematically explore late medieval (c. 1280-1450) court cultures and their music synoptically across Europe. England, the Low Countries, Avignon, Bohemia, south-eastern Germany/Salzburg, Savoy, and Cyprus have been selected for study as each was a vibrant site of cultural production but has been relatively neglected due to prevailing discursive formations favouring “centres” like Paris and Florence. Linking these courts in a large-scale comparative study focused on the role of music in courtly life but embedded within a multidisciplinary framework encompassing all the arts as well as politics and religion will reveal the complex ecology of late medieval performances of noblesse in unheard-of depth while at the same time throwing the unique qualities of each court into distinct relief. The project will apply an innovative research paradigm that develops a trans-disciplinary and post-  national(ist), “relational” approach to the study of music in late-medieval court cultures. In doing so it will integrate all late medieval arts and re-constitute the fullness of their potential meanings.

capturejoustMALMECC is an attempt to rewrite the history of music in late medieval Europe. Throughout its five-year programme, the project will host two major public events; a  workshop in Spring 2017, and a large-scale international conference during the fourth year (2019). In addition, we look forward to regular scholarly exchanges within the research team as well as between the research team and visiting scholars, members of the advisory board, and research postgraduates throughout the grant period. The results of our work will be accessible through university presses and on this website (see Outputs and Publications).


Please do browse the site to find out more about the project and team.