HIST3405 - Power, ritual, and music: the role of the arts in political communication 800-1600.


Examination arrangement

Examination arrangement: Written examination
Grade: Letters

Evaluation form Weighting Duration Examination aids Grade deviation
Written examination 100/100 4 hours

Course content

Rituals were of primary importance in the process of public communication during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Among these rituals, music plays a central role. Instrumental and vocal music are not only performed to emphazise style and identity of the nobility during peace and war, but they are also used as a means of formulating the ideas of ecclesiastical authorities regarding ideal rulership, and justified political and military power. Professional music-making during the period 800-1500 is based not only on the economic potential of ecclesiastical/secular elites, but it may also mirror the identity of other social groups during the evolution of medieval cities: more and more guilds take over the traditional mecenatic functions of the nobility by financing precious musical manuscripts whose illuminations show the city and formulate its identity, thereby functioning similarly to the chants recorded there also. The course presents these and other examples in a selection of case studies from Nordic countries and continental Europe, beginning with the Carolingian involvement in ecclesiastical music up to the role of the nobility in the musical culture of Northern Italian courts during the Renaissance.

Learning outcome

A candidate who has passed the exams is expected to have the following outcome of his/her studies (in relation to the description of the course, defined as knowledge and skills):
Knowledge: The candidate is informed about rituals and their socio-political functions in European communities from 800–1600. He/she has knowledge about non-verbal political and religious communication during the Middle Ages and the role of the arts (especially music and literature) in rituals. He/she has a broad overview about historical, liturgical, poetic, art-historical (architecture, visual arts) and musical traditions during the period. He/she is informed about selected musical pieces, original texts, ecclesiastical and secular rituals and their cultural-historical contexts. He/she has knowledge about selected historical, liturgical, art-historical (especially poetic and musicological) methods and sources. He/she is informed about the relevance of artistic (musical, poetic) articulation in ritual contexts as part of political communication during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

The candidate is able to analyse selected historical, liturgical, poetic, juridical, art-historical and musicological data and to draw conclusions from a interdisciplinary perspective. The candidate is able to identify roots of today’s socio-political rituals, based on historical insight.

Learning methods and activities

During the seminar participants are to deliver a short presentation based on an article of their choice selected from a list of relevant literature.

Compulsory assignments

  • Essay

Specific conditions

Exam registration requires that class registration is approved in the same semester. Compulsory activities from previous semester may be approved by the department.

Required previous knowledge

BA in history or equivalent.

Course materials

Excerpts of relevant publications will be used during the seminar. All material will be accessible in a syllabus ("kompendium"), and/or on Blackboard.


Detailed timetable


Examination arrangement: Written examination

Term Statuskode Evaluation form Weighting Examination aids Date Time Room *
Autumn ORD Written examination 100/100 2018-11-29 09:00
Spring ORD Written examination 100/100
  • * The location (room) for a written examination is published 3 days before examination date.
If more than one room is listed, you will find your room at Studentweb.