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Castles as European Phenomena

Towards an international approach to medieval castles in Europe. Contributions to an international and interdisciplinary workshop in Kiel, February 2016


Edited By Stefan Magnussen and Daniel Kossack

Castle research witnessed a revival in recent years, and new theoretical and methodological approaches have massively changed our perception of medieval castles. But despite the fact that this renaissance is observable all over Europe, research is still mostly subject to regional perspectives. In 2016, a workshop was hosted at Kiel University, Germany, in order to address these recent developments and stimulate international scientific discourse. It was especially designed to provide a platform for young scholars. With its 11 contributions, the volume provides a vivid picture of current castle research in different areas of Europe, from Italy to Latvia and the Levant to Denmark.

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Games and Sounds in Medieval Castles – A Few Words on Musical Entertainment and Entertainers


Anna G. Piotrowska

Abstract: Who were the people providing entertainment in the medieval castles? This question was of interest to many scholars already in the 19th century. This chapter examines the role of the castle and its influence on the status quo of these entertainers. The main focus is on their diversity and social stratification as well as on the strategies they adapted to please castle dwellers. The paper also discusses the castle-related motifs appearing in the repertoire of these entertainers, highlighting such acclaimed topics as praising knights and courtly love, but also showing the importance of the motif of the castle tower.

Castles lay at the heart of medieval society: built along major trading routes and important roads, near other strategically located places, they were symbols of power as visibly standing out and magnificently looking proofs of wealth and high position of their owners. In times of peace, life in a castle was filled with numerous activities from frenzied domestic tasks in the kitchen or stables to preparations for religious celebrations in the castle chapels. These daily tasks regulated the rhythm of the day in the castle. Obviously, life on a castle was also marked by several other social occasions, along them, entertainment and amusement.

In the Middle Ages, castles served a multitude of functions, mostly military (defensive), but also administrative and economic, religious as well as residential, finally recreational. Prosperous lords could accommodate at their courts the less privileged, if not impoverished...

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