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


Examination arrangement

Examination arrangement: School exam
Grade: Letter grades

Evaluation Weighting Duration Grade deviation Examination aids
School exam 100/100 4 hours E

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 learning outcome according to the course curriculum, defined as knowledge and skills:


The candidate

  • has advance insights about rituals and their socio-political functions in European communities from 800-1600
  • has thorough knowledge about non-verbal political and religious communication during the Middle Ages and the role of the arts (especially music and literature) in rituals
  • has detailed understanding of the methods which are used in order to understand rituals, as well as about original sources and the analytical processes which are employed in order to interpret them

Knowledge on the following fields results in a contextualisation of the candidate's master-study:

The candidate

  • has a solid overview about historical, liturgical, poetic, art-historical (architecture, visual arts) and musical traditions during the period.
  • 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.
  • 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 critically selected historical, liturgical, poetic, juridical, art-historical and musicological data and to draw conclusions from a interdisciplinary perspective
  • is able to identify roots of today's socio-political rituals, based on historical insight. During preparation of the oral presentation the candidate acquires the ability to draw up a historically focused transdisciplinary research project and it's written/oral presentation in the context of a seminary.

Ethically based use of primary and secondary sources is trained. In the final exam the candidate shows a critical approach and reflexion about the course's diverse contents.

Learning methods and activities

During the seminar participants are expected to deliver an oral presentation based on literature they can select from a list. The presentation will be prepared in dialogue with the professor.

Compulsory assignments

  • Essay

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.

More on the course



Version: 1
Credits:  7.5 SP
Study level: Second degree level


Term no.: 1
Teaching semester:  SPRING 2024

Language of instruction: English, Norwegian

Location: Trondheim

Subject area(s)
  • Music History
  • Music Theory
  • Cultural History
  • History of the Middle Ages
  • History
  • The History of Art
  • Latin
  • Comparative Literature
  • Musicology
  • Music Pedagogy Subjects
  • Music Performance Studies
  • Comparative Religion
  • Theatre Studies
Contact information
Course coordinator: Lecturer(s):

Department with academic responsibility
Department of Historical and Classical Studies


Examination arrangement: School exam

Term Status code Evaluation Weighting Examination aids Date Time Examination system Room *
Autumn ORD School exam 100/100 E 2023-12-19 09:00 PAPIR
Room Building Number of candidates
Spring ORD School exam 100/100 E 2024-06-03 09:00 INSPERA
Room Building Number of candidates
SL410 Sluppenvegen 14 9
  • * 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.

For more information regarding registration for examination and examination procedures, see "Innsida - Exams"

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