The British Museum Citole: New Perspectives


The Science behind the Art
Susan La Niece and Caroline Cartwright
        The British Museum’s citole was scientifically examined prior to and during the conservation work which was carried out to prepare it for display in the new Medieval Europe gallery. Radiography was used to reveal features of the original  construction and later alterations. The metal elements were identified by X-ray fluorescence analysis and microscopical analysis enabled the identification of the wooden components.  The results of these examinations are presented with the aim of establishing the factual evidence on which interpretations of the history of this musical instrument can be based.
Preparing the Citole for Display in the New Medieval Gallery
Philip Kevin
        The recent refurbishment of the medieval galleries at the museum allowed an ideal opportunity to re-evaluate past treatments and investigate alterations and modifications to better enable us to understand the different stages of the citoles history.
        The citole underwent its first major alteration when it was gifted to Elisabeth by Robert Dudley. It is believed that it was at this point altered from the citole (possibly outdated) into the more favourable and fashionable instrument of the day, the violin. The modification meant the instrument lost its original soundboard which would have been flat or perhaps even slightly curved with a large fretwork round rose and without f holes. Throughout its history the instrument, as is expected with all musical instruments being working and playing objects, has undergone continual repair which have included the replacement of soundboards, strings and perhaps even tuning pegs. The presence of a bass bar and absence of a sound post was also confirmed. Close inspection of components during conservation has revealed detail of previously suspected alterations to pegbox and fingerboard as well as new revelations of modifications to the tailpiece and trefoil.
        Understanding past restorations and modifications allowed curator and conservators to make more informed decisions about conservation treatments. These treatments were to involve the removal of older repairs many of which could be seen as both crudely executed and therefore poor repairs, but also incorrect in style for the period of either an early violin or indeed earlier citole. In some cases these repairs were deemed damaging and/or potentially damaging to preservation of the instrument for future study, interpretation and aesthetic appreciation.
Head to Tail: three discoveries about the age, history and function of the citole
Chris Egerton
        Among the significant discoveries made during recent conservation work, three observations reinforce our ideas about the age, history and use of the BM citole. The magnificent dragon headpiece was identified by its correct mythological species the Wyvern, predating English dragons of popular renown. The tree-of-life ‘trefoil’, which has been modified and later restored, suggests how the instrument was held and played after its early metamorphic conversion and the (now-modified) tailpiece is possibly the earliest example of its type in existence.

The British Museum citole: Iconography and the horror vacui
Ann Marie Glasscock
        The horror vacui, total visual impact or literally fear of the void, is a widespread artistic conviction. Commonly used to describe illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages, the term can also easily be applied to the complex carving on the British Museum citole. No other extant medieval musical instrument exhibits the horror vacui like that of the citole. This carving exemplifies the piece past the point of being purely a musical instrument and brings it into the realm of the decorative arts. The elaborate relief work rendered on the side panels, headstock, and pegbox is a visual explosion of scenery. Images ranging from the common Labours of the Months, the naturalistic exploration of the foliage, and the medieval artisans imaginative depictions of wyverns and hybrid creatures fill the senses. It is precisely this decoration, and its royal associations, that have led the citole to survive up to the present day.
        However, the context of the instrument has changed dramatically since the fourteenth century. In its contemporary setting it would have been admired for both its beauty and sound by select members of society and fellow musicians. Now, treasured visually for its fine craftsmanship, the position of the citole within the museum has introduced it and other medieval decorative arts to a new strata and a vast audience. Seen by the common visitor but also examined specifically by scientists, conservators, instrumentalists, and art historians, the difference is considerable.
        In conclusion, the British Museum citole will be examined from an art historical standpoint with focus on the intricacy of the decorative elements. Other objects will be discussed for stylistic purposes and comparisons shall include illuminated manuscripts, architecture, boxwood carvings, and preserved instruments of the period that also fit into the realm of the objet d’art. Reference to other instruments that express the horror vacui will be noted to further integrate and emphasize their importance not only within the field of musicology but also in the art historical world.
The Citole in English Medieval Art
Mary Remnant
        The medieval guitar-type instruments were for many years known to English-speaking organologists by the name gittern. The word citole was applied to an instrument of a more rounded shape, and, like the gittern, it normally had a flat or almost flat back, in contrast to the deep bellies of the lute family which included the smaller and more pear-shaped mandora.
        However, in 1977 Dr. Laurence Wright’s article ‘Gittern and Citole: A Case of Mistaken Identity’ said that what had been called gittern should now be a citole and what had been mandora should now be gittern.  For convenience I shall now use the expression medieval guitar, bearing in mind that there were so many different types.
        Plucked instruments with a neck and approximately flat back were known on the Continent much earlier than in England, prominent examples including those in the Carolingian Stuttgart Psalter.
        This paper traces their history in English art from the early 13th century to c.1400, allowing for artistic error, the assumed destruction of numerous examples during the Reformation and later inaccurate repairs.
        There were two main types.  One was shaped like a holly leaf and the other, although having corners at the upper end of the body, was rounded at the bottom.  Some of them, particularly the latter kind,  had a deep neck containing a hole through which the thumb could support the instrument.  Frets on the neck were not always shown.  The strings, which were about four in number, could be attached in different ways at the bottom and often ended in a carved animal head at the top.  They were plucked by a plectrum of wood, quill or possibly ivory.  Bearing in mind that Jerome of Moravia gave three different tunings for the viella, it would seem natural that the mediaeval guitar could also be tuned according to the needs of the minstrel.  Soundholes were normally, but not always, round.
        The arrival of the guitar in early 13th-century England coincided with the appearance in churches of prominent angel musicians, several of which played that new instrument.  These include details from the north transept of Westminster Abbey (c.1250), the Angel Choir at Lincoln Cathedral (c.1280) and the mid 14th-century examples from the Minstrel’s Gallery at Exeter Cathedral, besides roof bosses from Gloucester Cathedral and Tewkesbury Abbey from the same period.  Opus Anglicanum vestments include the Bologna Cops of c.1300, where twelve angel musicians appear in spandrels between scenes from the life of Christ.  At the end of the period a row of twelve minute angel musicians appears in the Sherborne Missal (c.1400), which contains one of the very last English representations of the guitar before it finally gave way to the lute family.
        Large groups, however, symbolize the praising of God and are not evidence of normal performance practice (although here should be mentioned the Feast of Westminster in 1306 when over 100 minstrels were present but unfortunately we do not know how or what they performed).  Smaller items such as misericords and cloister roof bosses as at Norwich Cathedral shown more realistic signs of human music-making.
        Such scenes are found more often in illuminated manuscripts, particularly those of the East Anglian School.  They can tell us not only about the instruments themselves but which ones were played together, such as the guitar and fiddle.  This appears so often, particularly for dancing, that it must not be dismissed as worthless if the performers are angels.  In such a duet it would be reasonable for the strings of the two instruments to be tuned the same way to allow for the ubiquitous medieval drones.
Alioquin Deficeret Hic Instrumentum Illud Multum Vulgare’:
A brief overview of citoles in art and literature c.1200-1400
Alice Margerum
        This survey of the citole in literature and art will offer some basic background information about the instrument type across Europe. Contemporaneous texts and images indicate where and when citoles were popular and help to offer context for the British Museum’s fine, although much altered, exemplar. Due to the large number of available sources this will necessarily be a brief overview.
        More than five dozen literary works, in a variety of languages, mention the citole in manuscripts dating from before 1400. Vernacular texts include citole-related nomenclature in a wide range of literary forms, both courtly (epics, romances, and chansons de geste) and popular (patriotic epics, hagiographies, fabliaux, fable, didactic, and rhetorical), as well as in translations of Latin biblical and classical works. The discussion of literary sources here will categorize them by the function which the term ‘citole’ serves in the text, not by genre.
        The images of instruments preserved in medieval sculpture, painting, stained glass, textile and manuscript illumination are even more numerous. It has been commented that depictions of non-human musicians can be unreliable. It will be demonstrated that the form of the citole in imagery remains relatively consistent regardless of the species of the player, although in fantastic situations the instrumental groupings might be contrary to contemporaneous performance practice. The discussion of iconography will focus on the morphology of the citoles depicted, and the regional variations shown, as well the sorts of  situations in which the instrument type appears.
        Maps will be used to demonstrate which regions were the most strongly associated with the citole.  Sculptures in situ will be shown as discreet points on the map; manuscript production will be charted by region. Since a single word in a manuscript can be easily altered, the literary references included will be classified by the date and region of surviving manuscripts known to contain the citole references. Separate maps will be used to record manuscripts which use citole-related terms and those which contain depictions of plucked instruments with non-oval body outlines.
Strings and theories of stringing in the times of the citole and early cittern
John Koster
        The several aspects of stringing, including materials, their tensile strength and elasticity, and the relationship of dimensions to pitch, are important factors in the design and use of musical instruments. Although Renaissance citterns were strung with iron and brass wire, as attested by Johannes Tinctoris already in the 1480s, there is no definitive evidence about the their presumed predecessor, the citole. (Jehan de Brie’s listing of the cythole among instruments with sheep-gut strings in his 1379 treatise on ovine husbandry was perhaps merely promotional.) Conjecture about citole stringing should be based on a broad consideration of string-making technologies, the stringing of other instruments, and early acoustical theory. Various materials, including gut, other organic materials, and several metals, were available in the period of the British Museum citole. Metal strings were first attested in a treatise attributed to Adelbold (died 1026), and there is considerable documentary and archaeological evidence of wire-drawing throughout northern Europe, including Britain. Metal strings were commonly used for Irish/Scottish harps, psalteries, and perhaps for lyres. While gold and silver wire might have been used for instruments as precious as the British Museum citole, copper alloys and iron were probably more frequent. Analysis of the scaling of the earliest existing wire-strung harps and keyboard instruments (fifteenth-sixteenth century) suggests that instruments like citoles could be strung in plain wire if their open strings were no more than an octave apart in pitch. The Pythagorean theory that the cross-sectional areas of strings (correctly, its diameter) are, in effect,  inversely proportional to frequency, led (as also attested in Islamic and Chinese sources as well as by the strings of Finnish bowed lyres collected in the nineteenth century) to the use of strings sounding, e.g., a fourth apart, composed of strands of silk, gut, or hair in the ratio 4:3 (not the 16:9 ratio giving equal tension). Similar results could be attained by weighing metal strings. The development of the clavichord by the mid-fourteenth century suggests the origins of specialized music-wire production before documentation of the trade around the end of the fourteenth century, perhaps even as early as the period of the British Museum citole. Michael Praetorius’s 1619 description of the stringing of the English Zitterlein includes the earliest known reference to standard wire-gauge numbers, which might have facilitated calculations for equal-tension stringing. Such gauge numbers, arising from the wire-drawing process, might have been in use since the establishment of the trade.
The Cithara of Mercury: A well-tuned cetula
Crawford Young
        My paper discusses three aspects of the history of the citole, (1) Italian citoles? a re-consideration of sources including Tinctoris (2) a re-examination of historical plucked-family terminology and geographical distribution and (3) a closer look at so-called “second bridge” citoles.
        To understand the question of the citole in Italy and Tinctoris’ cetula tuning, the arliest apparent re-entrant tuning for a plucked instrument in historical sources, it is necessary to examine similar instruments in Italian iconography and to consider thirteenth-century Parisian music theory. Does Tinctoris go back to Boethius, and to his discussion of the so-called “Cithara of Mercury”? The fourteenth-century Parisian Berkeley Manuscript provides an important clue to the music-theoretical transmission of Boethius in terms of contemporary medieval instruments. Equally, Tinctoris’ De inventione et usu musicae must be re-examined to fine-tune our understanding of the musical function of the cetula.
        The Berkeley manuscript, together with a number of other fourteenth- and fifteenth century sources (such as a passage in Eschecs amoureuse) also provide hitherto unnoticed information concerning the name-types guitarra latina -guitarra moresca. A careful study of these sources allows an emendation of Laurence Wright’s influential 1977 study The Medieval Gittern and Citole: ACase of Mistaken Identity, to identify more closely the medieval logic behind names for the gittern and citole.
        The last section of the paper deals with a common type of citole which thus far seems to have eluded acknowledgement in print - the “choral citole”, that is, a kind of string-drum or chorus which apparently functioned in ritual music as an essential aural - and to some extent, visual - attribute of ceremony and ceremonial-liturgical music. These instruments may be recognized by the presence of a second bridge at approximately half the string length. An attempt will be made to identify types within this subcategory, including citoles which were not used to play melodies (a somewhat provocative idea for modern musicians!).
        The discussion of the points listed above will hopefully allow a formulation or provisional list of remaining “unanswered questions” about citole types, terminology, evolution and musical usage, as a stimulus to future research efforts.
Li autres la citole mainne:
Towards a reconstruction of the citole’s performance practice
Mauricio Molina
        Romanesque and gothic art and literature reveal that the citole was widely played in Western Europe during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The sources divulge that the instrument was performed by jongleurs, Parisian university students, and probably clerics, and that it was often paired with the vielle in the performance of dance music. Although scholars have done intense research on the citole’s structural developments, origins, and denominatives, little has been done to reconstruct its performance practice mainly because of the lack of any precise information on the subject. The reconstruction of elements of this practice, nonetheless, can be attempted by studying: a) some of the instrument’s structural elements; b) adjectives used to qualify the citole in the literature; c) the social context and performance space in which the instrument was played; d) the type of music performed with it; and e) the citole’s function in its pairing with the vielle using models such as the bagpipe-pipe and tabor pair. This type of study can provide information on subjects such as the citole’s technical needs for sound production and projection, and its melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic role in ensemble playing. Furthermore, this investigation will also help to inform us about the possible impact that a fretted instrument might have had in the music of the period.
Techniques for the unaccompanied performance of medieval estampies
on a reproduction of the British Museum citole:  a lecture-demonstration

Mark Rimple
        Upon first playing Kate McWilliams-Buehler’s reconstruction of the British Museum Citole, I was immediately curious about how a jongleur or minstrel might have used the instrument in a virtuosic manner.  Many of its peculiar aspects – a pinched, high register, a seemingly less-than ergonomic carrying position and restricted left hand mobility, the initial difficulty of achieving sustain, and a stiff resistance to the plectrum – at first seemed to work against the demands of rapid execution and phrasing.  In particular, the high bridge, similar to that of a vielle, presents a tension most unlike that of a lute or harp, both of which require little force and offer much sustain.
        Soon, however, I was able to prepare two estampies quite ably on the instrument, informed by the very features that seemed at first to hinder musical execution. The citole offers several distinct advantages, including an effective use of drones and a penetrating, percussive timbre.  These and other features create an unexpected acoustic profile that might easily rise above the ambient noise of a variety of public spaces and social situations.
        In my presentation, I will be using one of Ms. McWilliams’ more recent reconstructions to explore the technical and musical possibilities available for a solo performance of selected thirteenth-century French estampies from the Chansonnier du Roi (BN fonds française 844c).  I will address the use of the instrument in this repertoire based on iconography and performance practice, focusing on the application of this learning to a specific, modern instrument.
Musical historic instruments from Poland: 15th century Gittern from Elbląg
Dorota Popławska
        In 1986 during archaeological excavation on the territory of The Republic of Poland there was discovered a gittern. This chordophone was found in The Old Town area in Elbląg (northern Poland). The discovered gittern was dated to the middle of 15th century.. We know the name of the owner of premises from this time. It was Gerke Schonehoff.  Historically in XIII century The Teutonic Knights built a defense castle on the bank of the Elblag River. In XIV century Elblag belonged to the Hanseatic League. In those days city was an important Baltic port town and a centre of commerce particularly inhabited by Germans, Dutchmen, Englishmen and Scotchmen. However, since 1466 Elblag has been part the Kingdom of Poland.
        Excellent conditions of this excavated item enabled searchers to conduct detailed investigations and to describe this artifact.
        All gittern’s elements were skilfully constructed. The total length of the instrument was 548 mm. The body with the neck finished by pegbox of eight pegs was carved from the same block of wood (probably lime-tree). A soundboard with an oval-shaped sound hole was polished from two-pieces of spruce.   The pegbox was covered by very basic sculpture presenting a bust of woman in a lace cap. At the same location archaeologists also found the bridge of this instrument with some grooves  for strings. Number of hollows is bigger than the number of stakes what tell us now, that musicians tried to find  the best placing for strings on the instrument. The number of strings could not be always identical and it varied from 4 to 6 (8?).
        During many tests in tuning and way of playing performed on the Elblag’s gittern researchers revealed a couple of methods in tuning, fixing strings and playing techniques.
        Bourgeois house – place where the exhibit was found, shows that the instrument was used by the ordinary people during their day-to-day activities.
        Gitterns were known from Polish iconography sources dated from 13th to 15th century. The gitterns were mentioned more often in Western Europe iconography. On that base we can presume that the gittern from Elblag shows distinguishing features of English and French instruments.
        According to the author’s best knowledge the gittern from Elbląg is the unique one in the whole Europe which was found during archaeological excavation works. However there is another gittern built by Hans Ott in 1450, belonging to Wartburg Collection in Eisenach, Germany.
Citolers in late medieval English households
Richard Rastall
        This paper considers those minstrels known to be citolers in the English royal households of the 14th and 15th centuries, together with visiting citolers. Their work-conditions are examined, and conclusions drawn about the conditions in which they performed.
        The principal sources of information are the Wardrobe books and Chamber accounts of the royal households, which record wages, gifts and special payments to royal servants and visitors to court; additional information is given by household ordinances. Although the players of particular bas instruments tend to be subsumed under a general heading of ‘minstrels’, it is possible both to follow the broad outlines of the careers of some citolers and to reach tentative conclusions about the incidence of royal citolers over these two centuries.
Heroes and Villains: The medieval “Guitarist” in the Middle Ages
and modern parallels
Carey Fleiner
        Along with their wandering entertainer brethren, string-players and their instruments were scorned from Antiquity to the Late Middle Ages as the lowliest members of the society; they are depicted frequently as men of vulgar disposition who are prone to criminal behavior, perpetrators of immoral and scandalous actions, and in communion with the Devil – stealing the virtue of maidens (and quite possibly the silverware) before vanishing down the drainpipe to begin anew in the next village. Such a naughty, yet alluring, reputation made the instrument and its performers all the more dangerous as their audience were in peril of falling under the musicians’ spell, leading to the corruption of their own reputations, if not their immortal souls. In this paper, I will discuss this reputation of stringed instruments and their masters primarily as seen in the High Middle Ages (12th to 14th centuries) and how this reputation persists into the twenty-first century, as modern guitarists, notably performers of the blues, folk, and rock and roll, remain both idolised and suspected simultaneously as heroes and villains. Among the topics considered include what the ‘bad-boy’ image of the citole/string player was, its origins, and possible real-life counterparts; why an itinerant musician was viewed with distrust and suspicion even as they were readily and repeatedly hired to perform at secular and church functions; why intellectuals viewed certain types of music – namely, polyphony -- as  dangerous to the souls of the common man; and finally, why there be dragons – our citole and others like it in several manuscripts have dragon headstocks – what connotations could such a creature have had, an icon that survives in modern times among rock and roll enthusiasts. Overall I hope to showcase the seedier side of the citole player’s art, to try to determine whence comes this characterisation of the cheeky, oversexed rogue which has persisted in Western popular culture from Chaucer to The Rolling Stones, a source of vulgar behaviour and of warnings from the pulpit, beloved by groupies, hated by (church) fathers, and enduringly popular with the masses.
Citole i ot”: The courtly associations of the fourteenth-century citole
Andrew Taylor
            The British Museum citole poses a major conundrum. Here is a sumptuous instrument whose early provenance seems to be entirely unknown. The suggested date of 1300-1330 seems reasonably well established, but efforts to narrow down the provenance have so far not moved beyond Kathryn Buehler-McWilliams’s tentative suggestion that the work may be East Anglian. Such splendid carving on an instrument is very rare and the citole must have been expensive, but that in itself does not necessarily make it a royal or even an aristocratic commission. The one thing we do seem to know is that the instrument was made to be played. As Buehler-McWilliams notes in her article in JAMIS, the great care taken in its construction to produce thin and uniform walls and ribs, combining strength and lightness, suggest that “it was created to be a performing instrument, or at least that it was built by a craftsman who was a master citole builder as well as a master carver” (34).
            In an effort to recapture something of the world in which the instrument sounded, I would like to consider the case for two general categories of possible patrons, minstrels and courtly amateurs. The first possibility, suggested to me as a speculative conjecture by Alice Margerum, is that the citole might have been intended for one of Edward II’s citolers, a kingly instrument for a king’s minstrel. As Richard Rastall has shown, minstrels could become symbolic representatives of their lord and Edward II did employ at least two citolers for a long period. But Edward II’s harpers seem to have been of higher dignity. William de Morley, for example, became Roy de North, one of the king of minstrels or heralds (the terms being used synonymously), whose chief duty was the regulation of coats of arms.
            An amateur who wished to accompany himself or herself while singing love songs seems a more likely possibility. The literary references collected by Alice Margerum (“La geste Blancheflour e de Florence,” Confessio Amantis, Sir Degrevant) suggest that the citole was regarded as particularly well suited for gentle folk, both men and women, who wished to demonstrate their cultural sophistication. In attempting to recapture the status of the citole in this courtly culture, the similarity between the decorative carving on the British Museum citole and the bas-de-page grotesques in contemporary Psalters may also be suggestive. The widespread image of David as God’s jongleur, his cithara represented by a gittern or citole, makes an initial link between the citole and the Psalter. While the carvings in the British Museum citole, with their stress on the labours of the months, are emphatically not erotic, the Psalter often was, playing a crucial role in courtly flirtation as it does in the thirteenth-century romance Flamenca.
Sixteenth-century additions to the British Museum citole: their extent and their importance
Benjamin Hebbert
        The conversion of the BM citole in order to be used as a violin in – and around – 1578 is, in some respects a tragedy in terms of the loss of essential information about the original nature of the instrument. However, the ‘new’ parts of the instrument are of exceptional historical importance in their own right. The objective of this paper is to report on the re-examination and contextualising of the belly and the fittings, to demonstrate that (with the exception of the bridge and tuning pegs), they all date to the 1578 period and have demonstrable concordances with other works made in London around the same time. The work is important because these are some of the earliest dated relics of stringed instrument making in England, but also because they demonstrate the communication and influences from Northern Italy that formed an important part of Early English instrument making.

‘Sometime singing like an angel, sometime playing like Orpheus’:
Queen Elizabeth I and the politics of musical performance
Katherine Butler
        This paper examines the wider use of intimate music-making in the fashioning of political relationships within which Dudley’s gift of the modified citole to Queen Elizabeth I can be understood. Examining the evidence of ambassadors’ reports, personal memoirs and courtiers’ letters, I analyse both performances by Elizabeth to foreign ambassadors or visitors and intimate songs performed or commissioned by courtiers for the queen to consider their political functions.
        Queen Elizabeth I’s musical talents are widely acknowledged and in this regard she was unexceptional among royal women. Royal and noble women of the sixteenth century were commonly educated in music to become the eloquent, attractive centrepieces of Renaissance courts with a duty to charm and entertain foreign ambassadors, and to attract a suitable husband. However, when Elizabeth became queen her musical performances took on a new significance, which is still little understood. She used the intimacy of musical performance throughout her reign to manipulate diplomatic relations, marriage negotiations, her royal image of eternal youth and her rapport with favourite courtiers. Comparison with other royal women including Mary Queen of Scots (her cousin), and Mary I (her sister) demonstrates that while it was not unusual for royal women to perform for men, the political significance of Elizabeth’s performances was greater than for other queens.
        Courtiers too understood how music could enhance their influence at court through enabling them to establish an intimate relationship with the queen. I examine instances in which Sir Walter Ralegh, Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex, and Robert Cecil presented songs as gifts to Elizabeth. These performances, with their appearance of spontaneity and playful character, enabled a favoured courtier to manage his rapport with the queen: making his company pleasing, flattering her with constant assurances of love and loyalty, competing with rivals for her attentions or restoring himself to favour if he had caused offence.
        For both Elizabeth and her courtiers, music became a tool for political manoeuvring. Music’s multiple connotations of eloquence, love, marriage, youth and favour made it flexible and often usefully ambiguous in meaning, while the intimacy of music enabled the fashioning and manipulation of close courtly and diplomatic relationships.
An intimate view of Queen Elizabeth I as a musician: sources in context
Annett Richter
        The uncovering of strategies Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) used to display a cult of female monarchy reveals how Renaissance women in positions of power had to construct carefully images of self-representation. In an age when women were regarded as the inferior sex, Elizabeth I shrewdly exploited the functions of music in public and in private to protect her sole rulership over England. Through her own performances on the lute, Queen Elizabeth I politicized music to challenge prescribed rules of social conduct.
        As research by Andrew Ashbee suggests, Elizabeth I was a multi-faceted musician. Over the course of her reign, she received nineteen songbooks, one collection of virginal music, four lutes, two virginals, two cornets, one cittern, one orpharion (reputedly made for her), one viol, one sackbut – most of them as New Year’s gifts from her court musicians and instrument makers. The number of lutes and boxes of lute strings Elizabeth received on various New Year’s Days and that she acquired through purchase imply that she was a practicing lutenist from at least 1551, several years before she became Queen, until at least 1598, if not until her the end of her life in 1603. A miniature portrait of Elizabeth I, located at Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire, England, and painted around 1580 by Nicholas Hilliard, shows the Queen playing a lute. In 1559 and 1565, she reportedly performed on this instrument for Caspar von Breuner and Adam von Zwetkovich, two Austrian ambassadors at the English court. Critical readings of this painting and of the correspondence by these foreign diplomats reveal that Elizabeth I presented her skills on the lute as part of her political agenda during her marriage negotiations with Archduke Charles from Austria. Revisiting Linda Austern’s discussion of music and femininity in Renaissance thought, this paper offers a new understanding of the manipulative tactics Elizabeth I employed when playing the lute in front of men.
        In conclusion, Queen Elizabeth I deliberately exploited the rules of aristocratic conduct in order to place herself on an intellectual level of men. Not only did she use lute music to expose her listeners to pleasing sounds that reflected spiritual harmony, but the lute also served for her a practical purpose. Performing music in front of members of the opposite sex and in situations typically closed to women allowed Elizabeth I to exhibit androgynous strengths and to exploit the doubly enchanting effects of music. These strategies in turn enabled the Queen to underscore her authority in a male-dominated realm and to pursue goals in a patriarchal society.
Dudley’s Penance:  The gift of a musical instrument at Elizabeth’s court
Kate Buehler-McWilliams
           This paper will contextualize the British Museum citole at the court of Elizabeth I.  As one of the few extant musical instruments of the Middle Ages, the British Museum citole offers valuable insights into the social customs of the Tudor court. It bears decorative silverwork which is dated 1578 and embossed with the coats of arms of Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley, her court favourite.
        In 1578 Dudley chose to secretly marry Lettice Knollys, thus jeopardizing his position as Queen’s favourite.  There is no convincing contemporary account of how Elizabeth discovered and reacted to this breach of faith, but the view generally accepted by modern scholars, suggested by Derek Wilson in Sweet Robin, is that Dudley told her in a private meeting mentioned by the Spanish ambassador.  It is my theory that the citole, with modifications dated to 1578, was another actor in this private exchange.  As a gift from Dudley to Elizabeth, it demonstrated his humility and devotion to her.  A modernized antique, it symbolized the value of their long-standing relationship, while at the same time reassuring that Dudley’s devotion would continue despite the new relationship in his life.
        This paper will review aspects of the relationship between Elizabeth and Dudley in 1578 and other important times of their lives.  It will also consider the role that the citole, as an exquisite piece of medieval craftsmanship modernized into a violin, would play in Elizabeth’s court.  It will examine other the social custom of gift-giving, and show how the citole would be an appropriate penitential gift to Elizabeth from Dudley.  Finally, it will also consider issues of provenance, tracing how the citole could have gotten to Dudley, and where it went after Elizabeth’s death.