Friday, November 26, 2010

Medieval Music

Medieval life had many facets and medieval castle life in particular conjurs up many vivid pictures in our imagination. Here is one such picture .... a medieval knight in his castle hosting medieval banquets on special occasions throughout the year with medieval jesters and medieval music for entertainment. What a colourful scene!

First of all, there's the food to consider. Vegetables and medieval herbs (such as rosemary and sage) grown in the castle's own medieval garden; meat from locally farmed cattle, sheep, pigs and chickens and fish from the local rivers running through the castle estate.

Secondly, the entertainment. A medieval jester was an all-rounder with a variety of skills - he had to be to survive!

Thirdly, the music. Nothing like what we know as musical entertainment today, medieval music was reliant upon the skills of the singer/player and in a musical troupe there would often be a fiddle and/or a horn player. Here are photographs of modern-day copies of what these 2 medieval instruments looked like.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

12th Century Medieval Abbey

Medieval religion is an intrinsic part of our history and heritage and the architecture that resulted - from churches to abbeys, priories and cathedrals - still inspires us today, even if in ruins.

The ruins of what was once a wonderful, medieval Cistercian Abbey .... this photograph was taken on the Ile de Ré, a beautiful island off the coast of La Rochelle, France.

The "Abbaye de Notre-Dame-de-Ré Les Chateliers" was founded in 1156. It was built on what at the time was a very strategic location, close to the largest docking point on the island. Described as a 'large gothic church', the Abbey flourished into the 13th and 14th centuries until devastation from the Hundred Years War took its toll. This led to structural changes and improvements in the 15th century. The ruins we see today are therefore a mixture of 12th, 13th and 15th century French medieval architecture.

It makes for fascinating study when compared to medieval abbeys in England such as Hexham Abbey (refounded as an Augustinian priory in the early 12th century).

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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Medieval France - Castles, Churches & Abbeys

This Medieval Castle Blog focuses, for the most part, on British medieval history - from haunted castles in England such as Carlisle Castle for example through to British medieval kings and queens and more.

British medieval history, however, would not be so fascinating if it were not for the Norman Conquest of 1066 and the ensuing centuries of links with France. Medieval France is, therefore, a very relevant subject to study if we are to understand British medieval history in depth.

In recent blog posts, we have started to cover medieval France - eg. the medieval garden at Bazoges-en-Pareds and the haunted Tiffauges castle - and we intend to do so even more. We some stunning photographs and video from a recent trip to France where we visited numerous medieval castles, churches, abbeys, priories and cathedrals.

Here is a photograph we took of a 13th century medieval priory in St Prouant (Vendee). Known as the Prieure de Grammont it was founded by none other than Richard The Lionheart (great uncle to King Edward I) and is today one of the best preserved medieval monasteries in all France.

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