Katherine Emery (KCL) - 2015-16 Students

Music, Politics and Sanctity in the Cult of Thomas Becket: 1170-1538

My thesis is a musicological examination of the liturgy of the cult of Thomas Becket, particularly the offices for the feasts of the Passion and Translation, with a focus on their dissemination to other ecclesiastical institutions which preceded devotional performance. It has a broad chronological framework from 1170 to circa 1538 to allow an examination of Becket’s cult up to its destruction during the Reformation. The study is interested in an experiential history of the cult, and a deeper look at institutional and personal connections which facilitated patterns of aural performance in localised contexts. This approach illuminates the dichotomy of Canterbury’s central regulating liturgical role in the establishment of the devotional machinery at the heart of the cult, which was then disseminated, versus localised veneration which was often structural, ritually or linguistically diverse. It draws from inter-disciplinary studies to situate the creation of the feasts of the Passion and Translation at Canterbury Cathedral itself, before addressing it’s performance in other localised contexts including at Salisbury Cathedral (and Salisbury’s role in standardising practice through the Use of Sarum), before looking at its movement into other paraliturgical polyphonic genres, including the motet, conductus and carol. It establishes the definitions of liturgy and para-liturgical music to facilitate a study of surviving English songs based on the liturgy. It concludes with an examination of the cult’s political potency in the wake of its destruction during the Reformation.

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