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Medieval Musicologists Visit the History Centre

Recently Michael Hinman, a longstanding Archivist at the Herbert History Centre, brought out some beautiful music sheets from the 15th century to share with some visiting music students. The sheets were hymns entitled Missa Caput.

Mr Hinman talked about the fact that it has been long debated who wrote the pieces, and pointed out what the notes meant, as the music sheet looks quite different than those that are produced today. In particular, the notes in red are colour coded to indicate several notes to be sung at once.

The music would have been sung in Catholic masses before England’s transformation to the Anglican Church, and hence during the Reformation, the sheets were seen as scrap and used as binding for 16th century books. One of the sheets was used in the Leet book, a record of meeting minutes used by the council from 1422-1555 (which would have been bound after it had been collated). The other sheet came from an account book kept by the Corpus Christi Guild. This book indicates that royalty passed through Coventry in 1429, as it discusses expenses paid to entertain the royal guests as they enjoyed their tour of Coventry.

The Coventry History Centre is situated within the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, and is a vital resource for anyone who is undertaking research about any element of Coventry's history.

The Coventry History Centre's archives contain countless books, documents and records pertaining to every aspect of Coventry - whether you are researching your family history, need historical plans relating to your home, or are interested in finding out more about any subject to do with Coventry, the History Centre can help.

Find out more about Coventry History Centre.