Ascensión Mazuela Anguita 26/05/2016
The forth and last of this year’s workshops on cultural history consisted of a cross-disciplinary approach to the arts and the representation of power. After an introduction of Tess Knighton as the chair of the session, in which the influential Art and Power: Renaissance Festivals 1450-1650 (Woodbridge, 1984) by Roy Strong served to contextualise the subject, the keynote talk was given by musicologist Jordi Ballester (UAB). Through written and iconographic source material from Catalonia and Valencia in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, he analysed the imaginarium related to medieval instrumentalists, in particular trumpet players and other heraldic musicians, from the perspective of the medieval receptor. He showed how heraldic musicians were considered to symbolise the voice of the powerful and how, as a consequence, they might have evoked repression.
The second part of the workshop included three shorter talks by medieval historian Esther Tello and musicologists Mauricio Molina and Ferran Escrivà. Esther Tello presented an insightful description of the representation of power in the processional itineraries of fifteenth-century Saragossa. She focused on liturgical events such as Corpus Christi, festivities of saints such as the Guardian Angel and Saint Engracia, and the visit of Pope Benedict XIII to Saragossa in 1410. Through the representation of power in these processions, power and devotion were clearly inextricably linked, and the boundaries between political and religious institutions were far from clear.
Mauricio Molina’s talk focussed on medieval song and the use of language as a way of displaying identity, power and social status, and thus expanded our understanding of medieval song as a vehicle for the discourse of power. The last paper, by Ferran Escrivà, provided an analysis of the representation of power in urban events using as a case study a procession celebrated in Lisbon in 1588. This work-in-progress drew on material from a printed relación containing insights on the uses of music at the event. Through this procession, Lisbon was represented as an economical and political centre, Juan de Borja was enhanced as a potential candidate for viceroy, and the Company of Jesus showed its privileged position in relation to other Portuguese religious communities.
The four contributions of the workshop led to debate of particular issues relating to musical iconography and the representation of power in urban events. This year’s four workshops have been packed full of methodological meeting points and interdisciplinary debate between scholars in the humanities.