A lute-player entertains a member of the household of wealthy merchant and mayor of York, William Snawsell, in the family sitting room (Great Chamber) of his house, 1468. The lute was one of the cultural imports brought back from the Arab world by crusaders in the thirteenth century, although its period of greatest popularity was post-medieval.
Re-enactment in Barley Hall, York. Photo © S. Alsford


One reflection of the importance of music in medieval society is the fact that many of angels, cherubs, etc. portrayed in the carvings in ecclesiastical architecture or in the decorative surround to manuscript illustrations show them playing harp, trumpet, fiddle (as here) or some other instrument.
Roof boss from the warming house vault of St. Mary's Abbey, York (now displayed in the Yorkshire Museum).
Photo © S. Alsford

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