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Harmonia Time Capsule: 1331

Let’s take a quick look back in time . . . Crusades, explorers, sultans and composers...1331, a year of news, a year to remember.

Poland, 1331:  The Battle of Plowce, a struggle between Polish soldiers and knights of the Teutonic Order, raged.  When Dietrich von Altenburg and the army of the Teutonic Order tried to take the town of Brzesc Kujawski, in central Poland, they were 7,000 strong.  Though the Polish army had only 5,000 soldiers, they met their invaders in full force.  The battle continued past nightfall, with heavy causalities on both sides.  Ultimately, the Polish army was victorious; although the Teutonic Order was not completely destroyed.  The Battle of P?owace was but one event in the Teutonic Order’s decades-long crusade to convert Eastern Europe to Christianity.

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In Italy in January of 1331, Odoric of Pordenone died.  The medieval traveller provided important eye-witness reports of his journey to China, including accounts of cannibalism and foot binding.  Numerous copies of Odoric’s narrative were made and disseminated throughout Europe.  As a result, today some consider him a greater explorer than Marco Polo.

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The year 1331 also marks the death of Abu’l-Fida, an Arabic historian, geographer, warrior and statesman who rose to become the sultan of Hama (located in present-day Syria).  In 1320, after receiving the rank of sultan, Abu’l-Fida dedicated over twenty years of peaceful governance to the city of Hama.  During this time, his generous patronage attracted many writers to his court.

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In this same year, medieval composer Philippe de Vitry was in London with Duke Louis de Bourbon.  De Vitry is known best for his motets included in the Roman de Fauvel, a lengthy poem by Gervais de Bus whose satirical animal and human characters symbolically criticize some of the political and religious corruption of the time. Some think that the inspiration for some of de Vitry’s musical criticisms came from his interaction with the rulers of France and England through his work with the Duke of Bourbon.

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Music heard in this time capsule:

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Harmonia Early Music

Harmonia Early Music is a nationally syndicated weekly early music radio program, podcast and blog produced by WFIU Public Radio.

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