XIV century

“Dancing mania was a social phenomenon that occurred primarily in mainland Europe between the 14th and 17th centuries. It involved groups of people, sometimes thousands at a time. The mania affected men, women, and children, who danced until they collapsed from exhaustion. (…)

It is certain that many participants of dancing mania were psychologically disturbed, but it is also likely that some took part out of fear,  or simply wished to copy everyone else. Sources agree that dancing mania was one of the earliest-recorded forms of mass hysteria, and describe it as a “psychic epidemic”, with numerous explanations that might account for the behavior of the dancers.”

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Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dancing_mania

The Bust of Charlemagne is a reliquary in the form of the bust of Charlemagne made around 1350, which contains the king’s skullcap. The reliquary is part of the Late Medieval treasure kept in the Aachen Cathedral Treasury. It is one of the most significant examples of Gothic goldwork and the best-known example of a reliquary bust anywhere. The reliquary is an idealised image, not an actual portrait of Charlemagne.

(Click on the image. It’s breathtaking.)

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On this day in history, September 1st, in 1715, the reign of the infamous Sun King came to an end.

Louis XIV, who had been King of France for 72 years and 110 days, died of gangrene at the Palace of Versailles, four days before he would have turned 77. He left as his heir his five year old great grandson, who would reign as Louis XV.

Louis XIV’s reign still stands as the longest of any monarch of a major country in European history.

Friday the 13th - medieval roots

Some believe that the arrest of Jacques de Molay, Grand Master of the Knights Templar, and 60 of his senior knights on Friday, October 13, 1307 by King Philip IV of France is the origin of this superstition. That day thousands of Templars were arrested and subsequently tortured. They then ‘confessed’ and were executed. From that day on, Friday the 13th was considered by followers of the Templars as an evil and unlucky day.

Image: Jacques de Molay sentenced to the stake in 1314, from the Chronicle of France or of St Denis (fourteenth century). Note the shape of the island, representing the Île de la Cité (Island of the City) in the Seine where the executions took place.

Not only is this stunning citole the only surviving piece of it’s kind from the XIV century, it was also played by Robert Dudley to Elizabeth I.

A citole is the medieval equivalent of a guitar. This example is both a unique survival of its type and an outstanding example of medieval secular art. It was highly prized in its day and highly regarded throughout its history.

Alterations have been made, including attempts to convert it to a violin. Among the changes is the insertion of a silver plate above the peg box, engraved with the arms of Elizabeth I, Queen of England (1558-1603) and her favourite and lover, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. One of the most likely uses for the citole in medieval times would be as accompaniment to love ballads. The amorous associations clearly persisted into the Elizabethan age.

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