The Knight and the Lion

What sort of music might have been played for King Arthur?

Click to hear music clip!

In the Middle Ages, people played instruments that we no longer have today, though some are the ancestors of our modern instruments.

This man is playing an instrument called an aulos

Edward II (1284-1327) playing an organ

An instrument called a gittern, carved in wood, from about 1300

A group playing different instruments. The lady on the left plays a rebec, a sort early violin

A group of 15th Century musicians. The man on the left is playing the sackbut, which became the modern trombone

Music could be heard on all sorts of occasions. On holy days and fair days, people would stop work and take part in or watch processions and dances. They could hear minstrels singing their tales or listen to a visiting band (the 'waits'). They might see a Mystery Play, a bible story acted out on a cart in the square. This too would have songs.

In the castle or manor house, the lord and his wife, as well as their guests, liked to be entertained by minstrels, telling long tales of adventure accompanied by a harp, a rebec or other stringed instrument.

A musician entertains the court at Aquitaine in France

A minstrel entertaining a lady in bed. Nobles liked to hear music while feasting, but at other times too.

Back to Main Text