Drawing upon hundreds of newly uncovered archival records, Gretchen Peters reconstructs the music of everyday life in over twenty cities in late medieval France. Through the comparative study of these cities' political and musical histories, the book establishes that the degree to which a city achieved civic authority and independence determined the nature and use of music within the urban setting. The world of urban minstrels beyond civic patronage is explored through the use of diverse records; their livelihood depended upon seeking out and securing a variety of engagements from confraternities to bathhouses. Minstrels engaged in complex professional relationships on a broad level, as with guilds and minstrel schools, and on an individual level, as with partnerships and apprenticeships. The study investigates how minstrels fared economically and socially, recognizing the diversity within this body of musicians in the Middle Ages from itinerant outcasts to wealthy and respected town musicians.
Gretchen Peters is an Associate Professor of Music at the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire where she teaches in the Music and Theatre Arts Department, as well as in the American Indian Studies Program. She has published numerous articles on urban musical culture in late medieval France and her research activities have included the traditional music of both the Hmong and Ojibwe cultures in Wisconsin, for which she has received multiple awards for her collaborative work with students.
Introduction; 1. Playing before the council: civic patronage in southern France; 2. In honor of nobility: civic patronage in central France; 3. For the honor and pleasure of the city: civic patronage in northern France; 4. From confraternal processions to weddings to bathhouses: freelancing in the urban environment; 5. Playing En Couble: professional relationships among minstrels; 6. 'A minister of Satan' and 'An honor to the city': conflicting images of the medieval minstrel; Appendix: musical instruments in the archival records of the study; Bibliography.