MALMECC is made up of a number of sub-projects, which together aim to cover many different aspects of medieval music making and its culture.

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Gender, Lineage and Patterns of Patronage in Late-Medieval France, England, the Low Countries, and beyond


What exactly was the impact of gender and lineage on artistic patronage and courtly life? To what extent and how precisely was artistic patronage used to project or deflect gendered and/or dynastic power, and what specifically was the impact of gender and lineage on the performative arts? The intense political and dynastic connections within the region and the presence of several prominent females in positions of great power (Mahaut of Artois, Philippa of Hainaut, Isabeau of Bavaria) invite research into the courts of northwestern Europe, with a focus on France, England, and the Low Countries, to conduct a study of the effects of gender, gender perceptions, and lineage on arts patronage. This will be aided by a plethora of well-researched documentary and artistic source materials that survive in the national libraries and archives of, among others, London, Paris, Brussels, and The Hague. These will be re-read from a gender-specific perspective.

       ©Photo. R.M.N. / R.-G. OjŽda

The interstitial role of women at court has received incommensurately little attention heretofore in musicology, art history, and general history (although see, e.g., Adams 2012); the body of scholarship around Christine de Pizan constitutes a notable exception in literary history. However, women often played crucial roles in courtly life, shaping tastes as patrons, dedicatees and indirect or direct objects of artists’ attention. Their aesthetic preferences and choices not infrequently affected their husbands’ decisions, were they cultural or political. Many maintained quasi-separate (sub-)courts built around the entourage that surrounded them in their positions as queens, duchesses or countesses (Hirschbiegel and Paravicini 2000).

A contrasting example on the male side is set by royal intimates such as Piers Gaveston (1284-1312), the younger Despenser (1286-1326), or Charles de la Cerda (1327-1354) and – in a slightly different context – the brothers d’Aunay (c.1290-1314) and the prototypical “evil councillor”, Enguerran de Marigny (c.1260-1315). These men – often noblemen of comparatively low birth or, in the case of de la Cerda, of suitably high birth but impoverished – attracted magnates’ and courtiers’ jealousy and envy, among other things, through their patronage of the arts, or the possession of artefacts that were perceived as excessive and contributed to their downfall. Conversely, the career and self-fashioning of poet-musician, Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377), as evident through his oeuvre, offers an example how a person of relatively low birth could successfully navigate the treacherous currents of courtly life.

This project will chart the possibilities open to women and lower-born men in the political and cultural arena of late medieval courtly life in France and beyond. It will explore both the handicaps, but also the possibilities of being a noblewoman and/or a male upstart in a society where power and status are by definition asymmetrical, taking into account the obligations and consequences of both gender and lineage.


Adams, Tracy. “Between History and Fiction: Revisiting the Affaire de la Tour de Nesle.” Viator 43 (2012): 165-92.

Hirschbiegel, Jan and Werner Paravicini. Der Fall des Günstlings: Hofparteien in Europe vom 13. Bis 17. Jahrhundert. Ostfildern: Thorbecke, 2004.

Hirschbiegel, Jan and Werner Paravicini. Das Frauenzimmer: die Frau bei Hofe in Spätmittelalter und früher Neuzeit. Stuttgart: Thorbecke, 2000.


Bishops, Cardinals, Popes: Ecclesiastic Courts as Cultural Hubs


The merger of sacred and secular power in princes of the Church and their all-male inner courts (“familia”) is a particularly interesting phenomenon that has received far too little attention among court studies. It lends itself to research both from historically informed gender studies and anthropology. Ecclesiastic princes were confronted with many contradictions: They were unable to establish a dynastic succession for themselves (at least a legitimate one) but as sons of noble families were deeply embedded in the contemporaneous dynastic system. They needed to negotiate the ritual archaisms and limitations that typically accompany high Church office while at the same projecting prestige and power in the world of politics commensurate to their birth and current status.

       © Jean Marc Rosier

The classical focal point for the study of ecclesiastic courts in the late-medieval period is the papal court at Avignon. The latest study dedicated to music in fourteenth-century papal Avignon dates from the 1980s (Tomasello 1983). More recent musicological research in the courts of the early fifteenth-century popes of the late Schismatic and the Conciliar Periods (c. 1400-1450) in Italy has yielded rich results, especially highlighting the role of cardinals and other high prelates in the production of music-related and intellectual culture (for an example, see Bent 2008:3-4 on the Venetian patrician, bishop and early Humanist Pietro Emiliani). This directs the spotlight away from the papal households towards the group surrounding the Pontiff, which emerges as potentially of similar or even greater importance than the (much more visible) ruler himself. Typically sons of noblemen (although there are exceptions to prove the rule), the institutional careers of princes of the Church – some of them Popes at the end of their lives – will be charted, including their childhood, education, early and mid-career stages. Tracing their impact on art, music, and politics, we shall be able to build on recent work by the Munich-based research group on medieval cardinals (e.g., Lützelschwab 2007, Dendorfer and Lützelschwab 2012 and 2013, including extensive listings of sources ranging from archival records to sermons to testaments). Of particular interest here is Pierre Roger (Pope Clement VI, r. 1342-52), who combined a multifaceted career in French royal service with a papacy distinguished, among other things, by an expansive building programme in Avignon, but also various pioneering cultural initiatives (Wathey 1993). Cardinals Gui de Boulogne and Robert of Geneva (later Antipope Clement VII) have not yet received adequate attention either, although they both belonged to important noble families from northern France and Savoy, and both were the subjects or commissioners of musical settings. Their careers will be examined from an institutional and artistic perspective, and for the first time contextualized with the most recent research conducted on the cultural policies of Avignon, the ruling families of Europe, and the competing schismatic obediences during the early fifteenth century.


Dendorfer, Jürgen and Ralf Lützelschwab (ed.). Die Kardinäle des Mittelalters und der frühen Renaissance. Florence: Sismel, 2013.

Dendorfer, Jürgen and Ralf Lützelschwab (ed.). Geschichte des Kardinalats im Mittelalter. Stuttgart: Hiersemann, 2012.

Lützelschwab, Ralf. Flectat cardinales ad velle suum? Clemens VI. und sein Kardinalskolleg: Ein Beitrag zur kurialen Politik in der Mitte des 14. Jahrhunderts. Munich: Oldenbourg, 2007.

Tomasello, Andrew. Music and Ritual at Papal Avignon, 1309-1403. Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Research Press, 1983.


The “Monk” and the Prince: Court Culture and Song in Late-Medieval Salzburg


The court of Pilgrim II of Puchheim (c.1330-1396), prince-bishop of Salzburg, has never been systematically studied for the full extent of its patronage of the arts, although it has long been associated with the enigmatic “Monk of Salzburg”, a prominent representative of Upper German song with recently discovered links to France (März 1999). What was the full extent of courtly patronage during Pilgrim’s reign? How does it compare with his predecessors’ and successors’? Does Pilgrim’s activity shed any light on his contemporaries? Pilgrim came from an aristocratic background. He also was an able politician who managed considerably to enlarge his influence by skillfully maneuvering between the greater powers that surrounded him
manuscript of monk of salzburg(in particular, Bavaria and Austria, but also the Luxembourg Emperors and the Avignon papacy). Being a prince of the Church, Pilgrim’s court offers excellent comparative material with sub-project 2, not only because he offers a case study broadening 12 the base of sub-project 2, but also because his studies as a young man and later the beginning of the Schism (1378) brought him in close contact with Avignon, including (anti- )Pope Clement VII (Robert of Geneva). A comprehensive study integrating the historical record of Pilgrim’s rule and cultural politics at larger with the evidence provided by the songs of the Monk of Salzburg will fill an important gap in scholarship. It will profit from a rich body of existing scholarship (recently, e.g., Schneider 2008 from the literary side) concerning the Monk’s works, their Vienna and Munich source manuscripts, archival materials on Salzburg general history, and the remains of his architectural sponsorship, for example the chapel he built and endowed at Salzburg cathedral.


März, Christoph (ed.). Die weltlichen Lieder des Mönchs von Salzburg. Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1999.

Schneider, Christian. Hovezuht: Literarische Hofkultur und höfisches Lebensideal um Herzog Albrecht III. von Österreich und Erzbischof Pilgrim II. von Salzburg (1365 – 1396). Heidelberg: Winter, 2008.


The Singer and the Emperor: Charles IV and Heinrich von Mügeln in Prague


The Luxembourg dynasty is among the most prominent but also least understood of late medieval Europe, at least from a musicological perspective. Its domain included the county of Luxembourg, straddling modern-day Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and France, and, more importantly, the crown of Bohemia (since 1310). The court of Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV (r. 1346-1378) has long been acknowledged as a cultural beacon. Charles founded Prague University (1348); his prodigious building programme in and outside Prague was the catalyst for the “Bohemian” Gothic style. Having been brought up – like his father, John, famous for being Guillaume de Machaut’s first known patron – in French-acculturated circles and a frequent visitor to western Europe, there can be no doubt that he was familiar with the complex musical styles cultivated in France, England, Italy, and the Low Countries at the time. However, there is so far no evidence of them at his court. Rather, Charles was a patron of the late Minnesinger, Heinrich von Mügeln (d. after 1371). It is difficult not to see a political programme behind Charles’s musical and other cultural choices; it will be the purpose of this project to chart the reasons behind these decisions, and to reveal the discourse of power that underpins them. The project will be able to rely on a rich body of ongoing scholarship from History and Art History, and to a lesser extent from Germanic Studies (the latest monographs dedicated to Heinrich of Mügeln are Haustein 2002 and Volfing 1997). Promising leads from a musicological perspective are the neglected sources of sophisticated French-style polyphony from Silesia (Brewer 1984, Gancarczyk and Hlávklová 2013), supplemented by recent work on the liturgical reforms implemented by Charles IV (Eben 1992). In addition, we have the voluminous literary output of Mügeln, and the literary works of the Emperor himself, supported by archival materials in Prague. This and the preceding project will for the first time put Salzburg and Prague into a comparative perspective both within the German and Slavic-speaking world of the time, and in relation to eastern, western and southern Europe.


Brewer, Charles. “The Introduction of the Ars Nova into East Central Europe: A Study of Late Medieval Polish sources” (diss. City University of New York, 1984).

Eben, David. “Die Bedeutung des Arnestus von Pardubitz in der Entwicklung des Prager Offiziums”, in Cantus Planus (Papers read at the 4th Meeting, Pécs 1990). Budapest: MTA, 1992, 571-577.

Gancarczyk, Paweł and Lenka Hlávková (ed.). The Musical Culture of Silesia before 1742: New Contexts – New Perspectives. Frankfurt: Lang, 2013.

Haustein, Jens (ed.). Studien zu Frauenlob und Heinrich von Mügeln. Festschrift für Karl Stackmann zum 80. Geburtstag. Freiburg, Schweiz: Universitätsverlag, 2002.

Volfing, Annette. Heinrich von Mügeln, “Der meide Kranz”: A Commentary. Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1997.



Savoy, Cyprus, Italy: Court Cultures in the Early Quattrocento


The lifetime of Amadeus VIII (b. 1383, d. 1451) is without doubt one of the high points of Savoyard cultural history. During his reign, Savoy was raised from county to duchy by Emperor Sigismund (1416). The wedding of Amadeus’s son Louis to Anne, princess of Cyprus and Jerusalem, in 1434, became an instant legend in its time, and united the most brilliant courtiers of Europe and their artistic retinue in Chambéry. Guillaume Du Fay, one of the most important musicians of the fifteenth century, was associated with Savoy from 1434 well into the 1450s (Planchart 2009). When Duchess Anne purchased the shroud of Turin (1453), an important Mass may have been composed by Du Fay for the liturgy associated with the shroud (Robertson 2010). Amadeus’s own career took two unusual turns when he withdrew from government (1434) to live in spiritual retirement on the shores of Lake Geneva and later accepted the papal see offered him by the Council of Basle (1439-49). He ended his life as a cardinal (1449-51). To this mix must be added the presence of cardinal Hugues de Lusignan, the uncle of princess Anne of Lusignan and one of the leaders of ecclesiastical politics, first at the papal court of Eugenius IV and later at the Council of Basle. The last piece of musicological research dedicated specifically to the court of Savoy dates from the early 1990s (Bradley 1992). In the meantime, work related to the biography of Du Fay (e.g., Planchart 2009, Robertson 2010) and to the ars subtilior manuscript Turin J.II.9 (Kügle 2012) has significantly added to the picture. But many gaps remain to be filled. The PI’s research will expand on the very rich materials uncovered during the ongoing research by Margaret Bent on music and Humanism in late Trecento and early Quattrocento Italy (e.g., Bent 2008), as well as in his own recent work on codex Turin J.II.9 and its repertoire (Kügle 2012). Like a spider in the web, Savoy sat at the hub of an intricate political, dynastic, and cultural network linking France, the Church, Italy, and Outremer (Cyprus). To what extent did local and dynastic identities shape the conscious application of different forms of cultural patronage in Savoy, notably music and book collecting? To what extent do they differ from patterns found in the cities (Venice, Padua, Brescia) of northern Italy and at the great rival court of Savoy, Burgundy, in the north?


By Olivier – Flickr: Visite au musée IV.


Bent, Margaret. Bologna Q15: The Making and Remaking of a Musical Manuscript. Introductory Study and Facsimile Edition. Lucca: Libreria Musicale Italiana, 2008.

Bradley, Robert John. “Musical Life and Culture at Savoy, 1420–1450.” PhD diss., City University of New York, 1992.

Kügle, Karl. “Glorious Sounds for a Holy Warrior: New Light on Codex Turin J.II.9.” Journal of the American Musicological Society 65 (2012): 637-90.

Planchart, Alejandro Enrique. “Connecting the Dots: Guillaume Du Fay and Savoy During the Schism.” Plainsong and Medieval Music History 18 (2009): 11–32.

Robertson, Anne W. “The Man with the Pale Face, the Shroud, and Du Fay’s Missa Se la face ay pale.” Journal of Musicology 27 (2010): 377–434.