Photo: Mattes (Wikipedia Commons)
On August 16th, 1445, Margaret Stewart, Dauphine of France, died in a feverish fit. Margaret’s marriage to Charles VII of France’s son Louis, a mere vehicle for royal diplomacy, ushered in years of domestic displeasure. At court, Margaret suffered slander for suspected infidelity and received little affection from her young husband. Such sentiment (Never mind an inflammation of the lungs!) may have driven the dauphine to her demise. At the time of her death, Margaret turned from those urging her to regain strength and survive. She cried, rather, “Fie on life! Speak no more of it to me.”
The year 1445 also ushered in one popular preacher and two prominent renaissance composers.
Johann Geiler von Kaisersberg was one of the most popular preachers of the 15th century. He was closely allied with the humanists of Strasbourg and spoke against ecclesiastical abuses, though not on the side of Luther. His sermons were widely known, thanks to the same technological advances that had forwarded the Reformation – namely, the printing press.
Alexander Agricola, a Franco-Flemish composer revered for his musical puzzles, is thought to have been born in Ghent in 1445. He pursued musical education and took up positions amid many of the most vibrant musical centers of his day, including Cambrai – joining the ranks of such renowned composers as Johannes Ockeghem and Jacob Obrecht, who had sung at the Cambrai cathedral in years past and helped continue the legacy of Guillaume Dufay through approach and departure.
Also at Cambrai—and, earlier, Milan—was Loyset Compère. Like Agricola, Compère participated in the cathedral choir of Duke Galeazzo Maria Sforza. During the 1470s, this Milanese choir peaked in prestige and size, rivalling all others across continental Europe. Compère composed many sacred works, and many more secular works. These were later disseminated and popularized at the innovative hand of Ottaviano Petrucci.
Music heard in this time capsule: