Photo: Alex Pearson (flickr)
At this time, descendants of the Normans controlled England, along with parts of Wales and Ireland following William the Conqueror’s 1066 conquest. But in Ireland, the year 1333 would be a tipping point, due in no small part to a tale of rivalry, murder and revenge. In prior years, the powerful Anglo-Norman, William “Donn” de Burgh, or the so-called Brown Earl, in a bitter quarrel, had captured his cousin Walter, who was subsequently starved to death while imprisoned. Walter’s widow wanted revenge and persuaded Walter’s brother-in-law to assassinate the Brown Earl! The 1333 murder of the Brown Earl sent the various factions of the de Burgh family warring for supremacy. The eventual outcome of the infighting was the Anglo-Norman loss of almost all the de Burgh lands in Ulster, returning them, at least for the moment, to Gaelic-Irish control.
In Florence in 1333, the Arno River flooded. The floods’ path of destruction was detailed by the Florentine chronicler Giovanni Villani in his Nuova Cronica (New Chronicles). He reported that by nightfall of November 4, 1333, various bridges along with the eastern wall of the city had washed away, and the city streets flooded to a depth of 10 feet. In more recent memory, flood waters rose again in 1966 damaging and destroying massive collections of art and rare books.
Murder, war, and floods…but 1333 wasn’t all disaster…
The Kiedricher Chorbuben—or the choir of men and boys at the Kiedrich Parish—was first documented in 1333 as “a schola of men assisting the priests on all Sundays, singing the Gregorian chant.” The choir has continued to aid celebrations of High Mass for hundreds of years since. This choir also preserves a special Gothic German choral dialect of plainchant, which differs from the Roman variety chiefly in its interval structure. It is notated in Hufnagelschrift, or horseshoe nail script, which is a style of notation most common in late medieval German chant manuscripts. The Kiedrich legacy continues to be cultivated even today: starting at the age of 7, German countertenor Andreas Scholl, began his early musical training at the parish, and his sister Elisabeth Scholl was the first girl to be accepted.
Music heard in this time capsule: