Early Modern Circle Seminar
“The Emotional Resonances of Bells in Early Modern Northern Europe”, Matthew Champion (St Catharine’s College, Cambridge)
Date: Monday 15 August, 2016
Venue: Room 506, Level 5, Babel Building, The University of Melbourne, Parkville
Registrations: Not required
In 1499 fire reduced the church of the Premonstratensian Abbey at Averbode, including its clock and bells, to ruins. The monastery’s reform-minded Abbot, Gerard van der Scaeft, employed bell-founders from ’s-Hertogenbosch to comb the ashes for salvage metal, and clockmakers from Leuven and Turnhout carried out an ambitious programme of renewal. On the hour, the new clock played the Pentecost sequence Sancti spiritus adsit nobis gratia, and on the half hour, the Marian sequence Virginis Mariae laudes. The clock at Averbode is just one example of a number of musical bells that were installed across northern Europe from the fourteenth century. This paper will consider the resonances of these musical bells, charting a course through an emotional history of sound, time, materiality and devotion – from their first appearance in Rouen in 1321, to Averbode and texts composed about its bells by the famous humanist Desiderius Erasmus.
Matthew Champion is currently the Jeremy Haworth Research Fellow in History at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge. In September 2016, he will take up a lectureship in Medieval History at Birkbeck, University of London. His current research centres on European temporalities from the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries.