The return of the Florentine republic (1527–30) ushered in a tense period of political upheaval. As the city faced an imperial siege and bouts of famine and plague, the government promoted a vibrant spiritual program to combat dangers to its independence. The motet flourished within this environment, but the connections between this repertory and civic life in early sixteenth-century Florence have yet to be fully explored. Since the mid-twentieth century, music historians have examined Florentine manuscript sources of the motet (the Newberry Partbooks and Vallicelliana Partbooks) and have articulated various arguments for the political significance of these collections and the individual pieces they contain. Viewed as a whole, however, the repertory does not typically express partisan support for the Medici or the republic. One underlying thread tying many of these motets together is their function within ritual celebrations, particularly in uniting the community in prayer for collective relief. Philippe Verdelot’s wartime Congregati sunt inimici nostri exemplifies the multiple performance uses of motets in Florentine ritual contexts. Its compositional design and content reveal how Florentines turned to the motet to demonstrate communal solidarity and to seek divine aid in times of crisis.
“Our Enemies Are Gathered Together”: The Politics of Motets During the Second Florentine Republic, 1527–1530
Mary Ellen (Molly) Ryan received her Ph.D. in musicology from Indiana University in 2016. Her research focuses on the role of music and spirituality in healing from political disasters in Renaissance Italy. She has presented her work at numerous conferences, including annual meetings of the American Musicological Society and the Renaissance Society of America, the Medieval-Renaissance Music Conference, and Durham University’s “Trauma Studies in the Medical Humanities.” She is an adjunct faculty member at Bowling Green State University and Terra State Community College (Fremont, Ohio).
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Mary Ellen Ryan; “Our Enemies Are Gathered Together”: The Politics of Motets During the Second Florentine Republic, 1527–1530. Journal of Musicology 1 July 2019; 36 (3): 295–330. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/jm.2019.36.3.295
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