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La voix au Moyen Âge


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1Océane Acquier
The Voice of the Preacher in a Few Painted Sermons from the Quattrocento in the South of the Alpine Arc

2The mural paintings from the Southern Alps from the end of the Middle Ages contain a large number of inscriptions that render visible the voices that once sounded in these places. A number of these murals clearly echo the words of the preachers and reflect, coming after and going beyond the speech-act itself, the words spoken by the preachers to the faithful. These painted sermons which are there to be seen can also be envisaged as the source of a new return to the spoken word if read aloud. We will attempt, through our study of a series of paintings of Hell from Liguria and Piedmont dating from the 1480s, to study the visual echoes of the preaching of Vincent Ferrier who crisscrossed the Alpine valleys and Northern Italy a few decades earlier. In this our aim is to show that painting can become a tool of visual communication that can perpetuate the act of speech.

3Alexandra Bill
Control of the Voice and Related Issues in the Mosques of Al Andalus in the in Two Hisbah Treaties (first half of the 10th Century and beginning of the 12th)

4The hisbah treaties of the jurists, Ibn ‘Abd al-Ra’ūf (beginning of the 10th century) and Ibn ‘Abdūn (beginning of the 12th century) contain prescriptions for the controlling of the volume and use of the voice within the space of the mosque. Our analysis of this data in comparison with texts of case law and treaties against innovation clarifies the issues raised by the jurists dealing with the control of the voice. Firstly, we will examine the question of the impact of the voice of the muezzin when calling the faithful to prayer and the question of prayer. The effect was to saturate the urban space with sound. Then we will look at how they restricted the nature and the volume of the words chanted in the mosque. In this way they ensured that the mosque retained the character of a sacred space.

5Nicolas Carrier
When the Community Speaks with One Voice: Public Speaking in the Peasant Assemblies at the End of the Middle Ages. (North Western Alps and the Jura 13th-15th Centuries)

6We will look at the act of public speaking as it occurred in the plaids généraux in the North Western Alps and the Jura at the end of the Middle Ages. The function of these peasant assemblies was to maintain or restore concord within the respective communities as well as between these communities and their lords. They did this with reference to the local customs, stressing the seigneurial rights, by the laws they promulgated and by passing sentence. Though we have little record of the proceedings, the final decisions would be announced publicly in order to show that a consensus had been reached, even sometimes after much debate. Only the voice of the official spokesman would be allowed to be heard. This voice, however was understood to be speaking for everyone. At this point the community’s silence would signify assent.

7Joël Chandelier
Physiology and Function of the Voice in Medieval Science

8The human voice is a function of the body that can alter. It is also indispensable for man’s life in society. It was these two aspects of the human voice that were of great interest to medieval doctors and scientists. The intent of this article is to present an initial synthesis of their reflections in the general context of the science of the time. Medieval science’s origins were Greek. There was also some Arab influence. Thus, we find descriptions of different types of voice from an anatomical point of view but we also find others taking into consideration the human body as a whole. We also find an interest in speech defects and slips of the tongue as well as in healing techniques such as vocal exercises. Finally, the voice is integrated into a physiognomic analysis of man from which they derive a moral and intellectual hierarchy of humanity according to his vocal characteristics.

9Martine Clouzot
Embodied Voices: Vocal and Sounding Bodies in the Illuminated Psalters in Northern France and England. (13th and 14th Centuries)

10If images have a body, they also have a voice. The images that decorate the psalters of the 13th and 14th centuries, provide us with typologies of voice full of contrasts from “Hybrid Howlers” to “Cantors at the Lectern” together with “Singing Birds”, dialectician clerics and “Renart the choirmaster”. With regard to the historical context, they can be considered as illuminating the anthropological and religious issues associated with the human voice in medieval society. They put into play the representations and the knowledge of the social categories trained to be familiar with books and images as well as the use of speech to impose authority: clerics preachers and nobles. Approached from an anthropological point of view, their imagery can bring to mindk contemporary views on the somewhat blurred distinction between the human and the monstrous as well as those concerning the sinner and his hope of salvation.

11Franck Collard
In Search for King’s Voice in French Medieval Monarchy

12Although it seems to be a matter widely ignored by scholars, king’s voice, that is vocal dimension of kingship and not king’s words, is nevertheless an important subject. This paper aims to think about the relationship between power and voice in medieval French monarchy. From sources like mirrors for princes and chronicles, it will be shown that even though the royal voice is often expressed and heard in the kingdom, it doesn’t take the same importance as in Mediterranean monarchies for several reasons which will be examined.

13Philippe Depreux
From the Written to the Spoken: Public Readings of Legal Acts in the Early Middle Ages

14This article deals with the role played by the spoken word in the production and use of written legal acts by the people of the Early Middle Ages. Thus, we see that the reading aloud of a charter was an important stage in its genesis. In certain cases, it was mentioned that the document had been “seen and heard” by witnesses: an original act from Saint Gall has indications on the back about how it should be read. But in most cases, as we would expect, there is no mention how the document should be enunciated. Thus, we need to turn to historiographical sources, such as the account of the Pohlad Synod of 1001, to find more detailed descriptions of how documents were actually read aloud at the time. We only find details when there is reference to a conflict or when we have a text in which the author can make use of a reference to the spoken word for his own ends. In short, the reading aloud of acts engages not only the ear but also the other senses.

15Nicolas Drocourt
Φωνή, γλῶττα, φϑέγμα
… Between Speech and Eloquence: The voices of the Baseleis in the Chronographia of Michel Psellos

16The sources we have make it difficult to envisage what the voices of the Byzantine emperors were like at the time. Michel Psellos’s Chronographia probably provides an exception to this rule. This is the case because it covers a relatively long period (976-1078) and also because most of the basileis it describes were his contemporaries. It contains multiple references to the sovereigns’ voices. These voices are seen as the voices of authority; they also enter into a more general description of the bodies of the emperors. These descriptions often employ topoi inspired by physiognomic interpretations. Nevertheless, his account of the vocal modulations and inflexions of their voices brings us closer to what the voices of the baseleis were really like. This view differs from the stereotypical and also from the silence required by protocol. It invites us to reconsider the act of the handing over of power. During these moments the play of the voice could often reveal important underlying political issues.

17Cédric Giraud
Silentium claustrale non sit mutam, nec loquax: Material and Spiritual Silence in the Regular Clergy in the West. (11th-12thCenturies).

18The examination of some biblical verses will enable us to show how the medieval monks conceived of silence in a rich and ambivalent manner. If the rule of silence was simple for practical purposes, the silence of the biblical tradition was complex. It presented different layers of meaning which could be summed up by the term “hermeneutical leap”. This refers to the gap between the literal and the figurative and the movement from the one to the other. The dichotomy silence/ voice which we can apply to monastic authors is in actual fact fourfold – we need to distinguish between material and spiritual silence as well as between material and spiritual speech. This silence is not the simple material silence of orthopraxis which demands to be put into practice: rather it calls for an active reader, someone capable of judging the level of meaning contained in the text.

19Alexis Grélois
Humble Incantations and Rebellious Chants: A few Observations on the Singing of the Nuns in the West from the Beginning of the 12th Century to the Middle of the 14th.

20It seems to go without saying thar nuns would sing, despite Saint Paul’s proscription that enjoins silence upon women in church. Nevertheless, an examination of the register of Eudes Rigaud, archbishop of Rouen, shows that certain nuns he visited had not fulfilled their liturgical obligations. Furthermore, the customs of mixed communities like Sempringham compelled the nuns to chant sotto voce as a sign of humility but also to avoid leading the clerics into temptation. We get a different picture, however, from accounts of disciplinary measures especially from those concerning the Cistercian Order. Here we learn of certain practices that went against the rule, such as mixed choirs and the introduction of antiphonic liturgies where male and female choirs would alternate as well as full-throated singing by nuns as a way of contesting male authority.

21Joëlle Haemers et Élodie Lecuppre-Desjardin
The Voices of the Voiceless: Reflexions on the Speeches of the Leaders of Popular Revolts at the End of the Middle Ages.

22The connection between cry and revolt has been the object of numerous international studies. However, without sound recording it is not easy for the medieval historian to study in a credible manner these voices which cry out and voice the people’s demands. It is, however, precisely this challenge that this article aims to take up. Our method will be based on a close reading of the sources and on contemporary research in political sociology. Starting with a repertoire of urban conflicts scattered throughout North-Eastern Europe between the 13th and the 15th centuries, the authors highlight the theatricality of the voices of the leaders of the revolts and show how these speeches were described by the authors of chronicles. These writers made use of their writings to influence the opinions of their readers, warning them not to trust these voices whose effect was derived not from sound argument but from seductive power.

23Johannes Helmarath
The Voice of the Orator in the Pre-Modern Assemblies of the 15th Century: the Example of Councils and Imperial Diets

24This article examines the voice, in particular the spoken word. Working from the example of the first sound recordings of the human voice from the 19th century, we will briefly explain the genesis of the historian’s recent fascination with the human voice and “soundscapes” in recent research, with particular emphasis on the work of the German scholars. With reference to the concept of Oratorik or oratory, we then analyse the use of the voice by orators especially those who spoke during the lay and ecclesiastical assemblies of the end of the Middle Ages. (Imperial diets and councils). Finally we discuss five examples of source material which show how various situations involving the spoken word were perceived: from an individual losing his voice (John of Segovia, Johann Hinderbach) to the humanists and their oratorical prowess (Gerardo Landriani, Pius II) without forgetting the cacophony that broke out during a session of the Basel Council of 1438.

25Nikolaux Henkel
Vox caelestis. The voice of bell and its “language” and effect in the Middle Ages

26Bells have pride of place among the “voices” associated with the European Middle Ages. Through liturgical consecration, they, like the chalice of the Eucharist, are part of the vasa sacra of the Church. The Pontificale Romanum gives instructions on how to ring the bells to announce the Angelus, mass and the canonical hours as well as to commemorate the Passion of Christ and to warn of storms and impending dangers. A number of memotechniques in the form of verse sum up their functions. The inscriptions on the bells are of particular importance. They show that the bells can be said to “speak” (voco, plango, etc.). In a triangular act of communication, the bells address a message to the faithful (horizontal communication) while at the same time acting as mediator between the faithful on the one hand, and God, Mary and the saints on the other (vertical communication).

27Manon Louviot
“She mooed like a heifer”. Functions of the Singing Voice in the Diepenveen Monastery in the 15th Century

28This study explores aspects of the singing voice with reference to the nuns of the Diepenveen Convent (Diocese of Utrecht). This establishment was founded in the 15th century and was part of the important congregation of Windesheim. The books of the nuns of Diepenveen make use of exemplary figures to serve as an exhortation to the members of the community to cultivate the virtues. They also contain rare and precious examples of vocal passages taken from the daily life of the canonesses. Through an analysis of the function of the singing voice, this study examines the reasons for introducing a discourse on a method of singing into a book of spiritual edification.

29Cécile de Morrée
Sung rhythms: The Voice, Singing and Silence in and around the Urban Convents in the Netherlands at the End of the Middle Ages

30Research on the songs of the Netherlands centres on about ten collections of manuscripts of religious chants in Middle Dutch (circa 1470-1550). These song books do not usually contain musical notation. Nevertheless, they provide us with a very pertinent springboard to launch our analysis of the presence and the function of the voice. This article analyses the voice within the soundscape of the convents where these manuscripts were kept, it considers the voice in these convents and discusses the silence that is the outward manifestation of internalized chanting. It shows that the rule governing speech and song made itself manifest in the daily regulated rhythm of monastic life. Given the major role played here by the human voice, it would certainly be apt to speak of “vocal rhythms”.

31Joseph Morseil
The Voice, the Body and the Letter: Or how the Social Order can also be a Vocal Order (Empire 13th Century)

32Basing itself on certain theological texts and on a corpus of preambles from the Germanic Central Europe of the 13th century, this article aims to make a contribution to the study of the semantic field of the vox in the Middle Ages. Our study shows that vox is perceived as irredeemably carnal and rooted in the short life span of the body – as a consequence of Original Sin it must submit to death. This is why human associations based on the vox alone were fragile. With this in mind, we can see that within the Christian system of representation, recourse to writing cannot be reduced to a simple memory technology (a memotechnique) as in “words fly away, writing remains”. In fact, writing was conceived of as a means of spiritualization whereby people and things could escape their normal destiny which was to be forgotten by mankind because of the Fall and their mortal nature.

33Klaus Oschema
Does the Voice Prevail? Reflections on the Voices of the Princes at the End of the Middle Ages (Burgundy and Empire)

34Concentrating on Burgundy and the Empire in the 15th century this article analyses the role played by the voices of the princes, used as an “instrument” to exercise power in the Middle Ages. If the subject seems important with a view to an analysis of the “performances” of the princes, we are soon confronted by methodological difficulties as well as a relative paucity of sources. For the most part, the princes; often appear as orators (mostly on informal occasions) in the historiographical texts of the end of the Middle Ages. Unfortunately, these texts are often poor in detail when it comes to descriptions of the voices of their protagonists. At the same time their authors are aware of the importance of the fact that the prince is speaking on his own behalf. Furthermore, these authors also betray a certain level of “logocentrism”.

35Anne-Zoé Rillon-Marne
Writing the Voice: An Approach to Vocality with reference to Manuscripts of Latin Lyrics from the 13th Century

36What clues can we find to the nature of vocality in the medieval musical sources? Their notes enable us to reproduce the melodies but they can give us no idea of how the voices sounded, we do not know their timbre or their register. Our research deals with manuscripts devoted to the repertoire of conducti. (End of 12th- 13th century). These Latin pieces come in a variety of forms: some are melodies put down in careful notation, others are part of anthologies of rhythmic poems recorded without any apparent musical intention. In our view it is possible to formulate the hypothesis that these differences in treatment reflect different styles of vocalization that varied according to the context. Our hypothesis is based on our knowledge of the work of the copyists and of the various strategies employed to give form to the manuscripts’ poetic and/or musical content.

37Jean-Claude Schmitt
When Sounds were Voices

38Both in medieval culture and in the modern world there is the distinction between voice (vox), sound (sonus) and word (verbum, sermo, loquela). But these three terms lie on a continuum – underpinned by the idea that every sound – and not only the human voice – is endowed with meaning. Take for example bird-song, a thunderclap, the rumblings of the stomach, the sound of the fall of a stone etc. All these “voices” can warn, foretell death, reveal the presence of a bad or a good spirit and constitute the normal language of demons. Thus, an equivalence is established between sound and voice through the lens of an analogue ontology which, unlike ours since the 17th and the 18th centuries, is non-naturalist and goes against our restrictive definition of the human voice. As evidence for this we provide a close reading of the Liber Revelationum (Book of Revelation) by the Cistercian abbot, Richalmus (died 1219).

39Pierre Vermander
Voices of the Text: Markers and Signs of the Oral

40In my contribution as a linguist addressing a congress of historians, my work tries to show how an area of study (the diachronic approach to language) set about to describe an apparently paradoxical phenomenon: the question of how written medieval texts actually sounded when read aloud. After a brief survey of the major linguistic tendencies, of their epistemologies and of the remarks that can be made about them, my article attempts to provide a new definition of the spoken and the written word, looking at them from a semiotic and also from a technical point of view. The forms and the properties of these systems of signs have to be taken into account in order to build a healthy basis for a study that endeavours to be not so much a reconstruction as an exercise in “critical imagination”. By comparing our research with several different approaches, we will attempt to show what it owes to History.

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