Disposition of Romulus AugustulusIn 476, the extraordinarily young ruler of the Roman Empire, Romulus Augustulus, was dethroned and exiled. Romulus Augustulus' overthrowing was a monumentous event. It marked three significant points in history. First, it marked the end of the Western Empire and the fall of Ancient Rome. However, this point is what most scholars refer to as the beginning of the Middle Ages.
Period: 476 to Dec 31, 1424
Middle AgesOften called the "Dark Ages," the Middle Ages were a difficult time to be alive. Plagued with disease, people struggled for survival. The Feudal system governed society, establishing a heirarchy of royalty. The primary function of music was its use in the church, but also served as courtly entertainment.
Jan 1, 700
Benedictine Conversion of EnglandDuring the year 700, missionaries from the Order of Saint Benedict completed their conversion of England. The goal of the order was to spread Catholicism, and the year 700 marked widespread Catholicism in England. The nation being predominantly Catholic influenced the music and art produced. Music's main function was its place in the Catholic mass.
Jan 1, 1135
Henry I's Death (Anarchy)Henry I was the king of England from 1100 until his death in 1135. There is no specific day known for Henry's death. After his death, there was a struggle for the throne, causing absolute chaos and anarchy in England for nearly two years. During this period of intense civil war, every life was in danger, whether nobility or average man. As a result, not much art was produced during this time (much like the rest of the Dark Ages).
Dec 29, 1170
St. Thomas Becket KilledSt. Thomas Becket (of London) was constantly in a dispute with King Henry II regarding the privileges of the church. In 1118, the followers of Henry II murdered Thomas Becket in the Canterbury Cathedral. His death for the well-being of the church was an inspiration for both music and art. A primary example is "Clerk of Oxford," a song written for St. Thomas Becket. Although the plainchant melody's composer is unknown, Richard Greene wrote the text.
Mar 1, 1348
Black Death Reaches Italy and EnglandSpreading rapidly, the Bubonic Plague (Black Death) reached the borders of Italy and England during the Spring of 1348. This widespread disease killed 30-60% of Europe's total population. As the plague ravaged Europe, many great artists and writers felt inspired (or compelled) to create resulting works, describing the horror that encompassed them. On the other hand, of course, the plague killed many composers and thus prevented many compositions from existing.
Period: Jan 1, 1425 to
RenaissanceAfter the loss of knowledge in the Middle Ages, the Renaissance marked the beginning of its re-establishment and the rise of Humanism. Humanism was the shifting of focus from God to oneself, propelling the forward movement of art and music.
Oct 31, 1517
Martin Luther's Reformation BeginsMartin Luther, a Catholic monk, disagreed with many of the values and procedures of the church. On this day, he nailed his "95 Theses" to the door of the All Saints' Church in Wittenberg (modern day Germany). They marked the beginning of the Protestant reformation, where several faiths find their roots. In these theses, he stated his disagreements with the church and proposed changes. One of the most significant was the suggestion that the entire congregation be welcome to sing during mass.