Home - Main MenuHistorical Events & Music

Historical Events - The Middle Ages

In a small town called Canossa, the Pope Gregory VII lets the German emperor Henry the IV wait three days on his bare feet, in the freezing snow, before he agrees to accept him and pardon him for refusing to recognise the rule of the Pope as God's messenger on earth. This event followed the king's relentless quest to accept papal supremacy, and after the head of the Roman Catholic church liberated the king's subjects from their debts to the king. This resulted in their rebelling and defiance against all authority. Canossa became a symbol and a warning to all rulers of Europe, emphasising the power of the church, a power that will only increase towards the founding of the holy inquisition and persecution of Jews, Protestants and other heretics in Rome's view, throughout the late Middle Ages.
Music during those years was promoted by the Catholic Church and in fact was one of the most important arts to the church - an instrument of strengthening faith and executing prayer services.

Find web info about the crusades1095
Pope Urban II declares a crusade to free Jerusalem from the Moslems.
Religious wars between Christians and Moslems will cause conquests, and also Arab artistic influence on European culture, an influence that will include the adoption, by Western music, of musical instruments such as the Oud (transformed into the western lute, and later to the guitar we know).
Genghis Khan begins his conquests, building the Mongolian Empire, which controlled the biggest joined territory in history.
Find information about the Magna Carta

King John I of England recognises individual rights, by signing the "Magna Carta"; it is the first time these rights are recognised by the state.
The plague of the "black death", later identified as smallpox, spreads around Europe, annihilating a quarter of its population.

Find web info about Joan of Arc1431
In France, in the course of the 100 Years War, the English burn a 19 year old peasant girl who led many French to war against them, on the stake, under conviction of witchcraft. Ever since her burning, Jean of Arc has been considered a saint, bringing about a French liberation campaign, that soon enough freed France from English occupation.
The Turks conquer Constantinopole, the last relic of the Byzantine Empire, and their own Ottoman Empire starts its 400 years journey of rein in most of the ancient world, and has vast influence on the civilisation of Europe and the Arab world.
King Fernando of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castillia, rulers of Spain, expel all Jews from Spain, ending the Golden Age of Sepharadic Jewry.
Their culture will follow them to the countries to where they fled; Ladino singing is the musical culture of the Jews of Spain, among the assets of Jewish music.

The Renaissance - Historical Events
Find web info about slaves and Jazz history
The beginning of the era of African slavery in the New World.
This shameful time had one positive consequence - Jazz music. Those formerly pagan slaves will embrace the Christian faith that they encounter in America, and start composing songs of devotion (the spirituals) and sadness (blues). Mixing elements of African music and the influences absorbed in America, will eventually evolve into the styles of jazz we know today.

Find web info about King Henry VIII
When Henry VII died of tuberculosis, his 17 years old son became King Henry VIII of England. He broke free of the Catholic Church and established the Church of England; The reason - he wanted to cancel his first marriage and to marry a second wife. But they never lived happily after - he is remembered today for his 6 (!!!) wives.
King Henry VIII is also known for his music talent - since the age of 10, he played many instruments, including the flute, viola, harp and drums, and grew up to be an accomplished musician. He was a keen musician, composer'Pastime with a good company' by King Henry VIII and singer.

Martin Luther fights, in Germany, against the "indulgences" (buying the pardoning of God for money) offered by catholic clergy to believers, and clears the way for a new Christian church, The Protestant church - a competitor for the Church in Rome. And so, as a result of Luther's "economizing", the wealthiest and most successful religious group in the history of mankind was born...
Protestantism's influence on music is prominent most, in the shift from singing the service (the mass) in Latin to the vernacular language.

The glorious Spanish fleet, the most powerful one in the world, is defeated by the English fleet, and this marks the beginning of an Empire that will grow in a hundred years - the British Empire.
This important occurrence in the political arena links to a great blossom in British art, and the central place Britain will seize in music. The musical blooming England experienced in the 16th century, will indeed be more evident in the field of religious music, with the creation of the "anthem" - a religious musical hymn - but also in the secular English madrigal of John Dowland and his colleagues.

The Classic Period - Historical Events
Find web info about the Boston tea party

The Declaration of Independence by the United States of America led by George Washington (13 colonies of the union), later marked by three years of war started with "the Boston Tea-Party" - the rebellion against English tea taxes.

Find web info about the French Revolution

The French Revolution is led by the middle class, who rebelled against the reign of Louis XVI and the privilege's policy, which was challenged by French philosophers. They called for a rule of law and good sense, and the masses stormed the Bastille to overthrow the king.

Romanticism - Historical Events
Find web info about Napoleon Bonaparte
Napoleon Bonaparte, the meritorious French General, declares himself Emperor of France. In the following years, he goes on a conquest around the whole of Europe, until the defeat in Leipzig, after which he surrendered his throne, and went into exile on the island of Elba. He soon came back, and tried to lead the French army, during the famous "100 days", but was defeated in the final battle of Waterloo, and exiled once again, this time to Saint-Helena.
His crowning as Emperor of France deeply irritated the composer Beethoven, who supposedly dedicated his 3rd Symphony, the "Eroica" to him. Beethoven, who was very disappointed with what he perceived as Napoleon's betrayal to the democratic ideal, erased the original dedication from the piece's score. Another composer, Tchaikowsky, dedicated his "1812" overture to the battle of Bordino, a piece in which he described the hard battle, when Napoleon started being defeated and started his fall.

Simon Bolivar liberates Venezuela from the Spaniards and will do the same for many countries in Latin America.

A group of American women, led by Elizabeth Stanton, begins a long, difficult, and just campaign for women's equality. This struggle gained some success, such as the voting rights in the United States and other countries, and the law of equal opportunity in the job market, but it remains unconcluded to this very day, and will last for years to come.
The music world is one of the sad examples of women's discrimination, and it is one of the consistent and systematic areas in its bias, although it is not institutionalised. In spite of the improvement accomplished in the last 100 years, woman composers will have to fight for the right to stand in the center of musical practice.
The end of the civil war in the United States, with the triumph of the North and the emancipation of millions of slaves from bondage, as promised by President Lincoln in the "Declaration of Emancipation" which he had given during the war.
The liberated slaves will start looking for jobs and better living opportunities. Some succeeded to find ones, as players and members of orchestras - and they founded the basis for American Jazz music.

The 20th Century - Historical Events
The assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, the Austro-Hungarian heir, causes World War I to break out, a war in which 10 million soldiers will die, and that will ultimately destroy the Austro-Hungarian Empire and make the United States of America the most significant power on earth.
This war will be the end of the happy, self-satisfied Europe of the 19th century, and open the door to the 20th century. The First World War will be the opening for a century that will include two world wars, nuclear weapons and genocide, combining with a total break and turn in the arts and music towards new directions, innovative and fascinating, yet of such a nature that the audience would find it difficulty to enjoy and to identify with.
Find web info about Hitler and the third reich1933
Adolph Hitler takes power in Germany, and the Nazi Party becomes the biggest threat to Europe as a whole, and to the Jews in particular. Nazi racial theory, conceived by him, will be implemented in a particularly cruel manner and will cause World War II.
Thousands of Jewish conductors and musicians will lose their jobs, because of Nazi racial laws, and emmigration of artist to other countries would grow bigger and bigger.
Mao Tse-Tung marches the forces of the communist party on their famous 6000 miles journey, preparing the Chinese people for the revolution that would come 15 years later. This revolution will make the biggest nation in the world communist.
Find web info about World War II1939
The Second World War breaks out, after the German Army invades Poland. The invasion is merely the last in a series of rude violations of international accords Germany signed, and only after this move, is the enlightened world convinced that Hitler is interested in taking over the whole of Europe, and possibly the world.
Among the victims in this war, were tens of thousands of artists and musicians of many nations. Many were killed in the concentration camps the nazis built, and others participated in the war as soldiers; the global map of music will change, as the center will finally move to the United States.

Find web info about the Atomic bomb1945
The first atomic bomb in history is dropped on the Japanese city Hiroshima, killing 80,000 people within a few seconds. This bomb, and the subsequent one on Nagasaki, bring Japan to surrender and ends World War II, with the triumph of the Allies, but also initiates the nuclear age; the Cold War between the new superpowers - the United States and the Soviet Union

MusixCool© By Nadav Dafni