Saints Colloquia Series: Public lecture by Roman Hankeln

May 20, 2014 - 17:30 - 19:15
Nador u. 9, Faculty Tower
Event type: 
Event audience: 
Open to the Public
Saints Colloquia Series: Public lecture by Roman Hankeln

The Department of Medieval Studies of CEU and OTKA Saints Project cordially invite you to the public lecture of the Saints Colloquia Series by



(Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim)


Blood, Sweat and Chants: Articulating violence in the music of medieval saints’ offices


Changing attitudes towards violence and war are important markers of medieval European cultural development and, as such, have been the focus of numerous historical studies. The monophonic chant cycles which were performed during the Divine Office on the feasts of saints (short “saints’ offices”, or “historiae”) have not, however, been analysed along these lines. This is an unjustified neglect given the central place of saints’ offices in the daily cultural life of ecclesiastical institutions, not to mention the large range of related scholarly topics they represent. Offered here is an overview of war- and violence-related topics in these chant-cycles, beginning with an examination of offices with roots in Merovingian and Carolingian times, and proceeding to later offices originating in the crucial time of the first crusades and beyond.

In its second part the lecture focuses on three of the European office cycles in honour of St Mauritius and the Theban legion (11th–14th centuries). Main theme of these cycles is the heroic passive resistance of the legion against the tyrannic orders of the Roman emperor Maximian – and its subsequent extinction. In these chants, the theme of contrasting balance between secular and religious values is reflected extensively. It will be demonstrated which musical tools are employed in this context in order to provide arguments for the thesis that medieval ecclesiastical music is indeed capable of communicating political significance.


Roman Hankeln is professor of the history of music at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology at Trondheim and leader of the subproject “Chants that bind and break societies …”, the Norwegian branch of the ESF CULTSYMBOLS collaborative project, which studies the socio-political relevance of medieval saints’ offices. From 2009 to 2013, he was the chairman of the study group Cantus Planus of the International Musicological Society.



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