Question of the Month: What’s the difference between ‘medieval’ and ‘middle ages’?

Could you clarify the difference between the “medieval” and “middle ages”? Are they related or do they represent two different time periods? I am writing a paper and I am not sure what to use. I was under the impression that medieval is earlier than middle ages, the year 1000 maybe, and middle ages is closer to the Renaissance.

Thanks for the question. There is no difference in meaning or in the time period covered between the terms “medieval” or “middle ages.” Here are two definitions of the period:

From the World Book Encyclopedia, 2009 edition, vol. 13: “Middle Ages is a term that describes the period in European history from about the 400s through the 1400s. The Middle Ages are also called the medieval period from the Latin words medium(middle) and aevum (age).” Continue reading “Question of the Month: What’s the difference between ‘medieval’ and ‘middle ages’?”

Seeing Ourselves in Chaucer’s Mirror.

Can we really relate to people from 700 years ago? Thanks to Peter Ackroyd, it’s easier than ever. In our iPod, iPad, texting and tweeting world, you’d think there is not too much in common with the lives of 14th century pilgrims on their way to Canterbury, but, in fact, there is.

Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales has been held up for centuries as the mirror of medieval society. Ackroyd highlights the tales in this 2009 version as the mirror of universal human society, and thus, us, in his daring and exciting free translation of this classic.

He notes that Chaucer himself, when he translated The Roman de la Rose, took great liberties to translate the feel and concept of that work rather than the exact language.  Ackroyd takes enormous liberties as well to convey the thoughts and the sense of the story rather than the poetic mannerisms so beloved by Middle English majors. As a result, the work is more alive, in this prose edition, than it has been in ages. By the way, Ackroyd uses pungently foul language with the earthier characters, be warned. Previous major prose editions of Chaucer, such as Nevill Coghill’s 1952 version, were very careful to stick to the script and not offend the traditional norm or literary decorum.   Continue reading “Seeing Ourselves in Chaucer’s Mirror.”

Seattle’s vibrant early music scene

In recent years, Seattle has become a mecca for early music, the world of music created from its earliest beginnings to about the year 1750. World-class performers such as Stephen Stubbs have moved here to join long-time Seattleites Margriet Tindemans and Nancy Zylstra. It means that there are some thrilling opportunities for exploration of the world of music before Mozart, right in our own backyard!

An upcoming concert that is a must-hear (and, in the spectacular surroundings of Seattle’s St. James Cathedral, is a must-see as well) will be presented on Sunday, July 27, at 8 p.m. by the internationally renowned Tallis Scholars, in Seattle for their summer school, performing with members of the local group The Tudor Choir.  They’ll be singing English church music with a small

group of voices, transporting you in to the world of soaring Gothic cathedrals. Musically, these works range from somber to virtuosic, with every shade of emotion in between, and include some conventions that sound marvelously strange to our modern ears. If you can’t hear them live, try this recording of the Tallis Scholars singing Robert White’s Tudor Church Music, which is a great introduction to this sound. Pair Continue reading “Seattle’s vibrant early music scene”