Music and Poetry

Music and poetry were among the most beloved forms of art and entertainment in the Middle Ages, and represent one of the most lasting testimonials to that now-distant period of time. Evolving from simple, purely religious monophonic chants and folk music in the Early Middle Ages, the art of music and poetry evolved over the centuries until reaching a zenith during the Renaissance, from which Baroque music by great composers like J.S. Bach would evolve.

The manuscripts containing these historic lyrical works are often adorned with some of the finest of what medieval illumination has to offer, and in the case of secular music revolving around courtly love, give some of the most useful insights into daily life that are available to us today. Therefore, medieval manuscripts containing collections of music and poetry are among the most precious today because they not only represent a great synthesis of the arts but important historical artifacts as well.  

Demonstration of a Sample Page

Squarcialupi Codex

 Vincenzo da Rimini

Aside from being an important composer in mid-14th century Italy, little is known about Vincenzo da Rimini. Depicted here as a Benedictine monk, it is believed that he was at the monastery in Regola between 1362 and 1364. Aside from likely originating from Rimini, a city near Bologna, his lyrics indicate he was employed by prominent Florentine families.

This is a superbly designed page in every respect: the naturalistic portrait, uniform script, neat musical notation, and incredibly artful, creative marginalia are all of the highest quality. Aside from the various human and animal heads interspersed in the tendril frame, we see an angel at the top and human-bird hybrid creatures flanking a medallion miniature of a young couple in love at the bottom.