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Chapel Royal
As the title Music at Court denotes, this article discusses the history and evolution of music in England’s royal households. In the early centuries, a group of selected chaplains had always formed a part of the royal household. However, these chaplains generally served as advisers and their roles were primarily political than musical. Nevertheless, these priests also assisted at the ceremonial occasions by some three or four clerici who possessed good singing voices and were drafted into the chapel for such occasions. As time went on, the occasional recruitment of these musical clerics ceased to satisfy the needs of the sovereign and a more permanent, concrete set of musical retainers were selected; a self-contained department of the household called the capella regis, which included chaplains, clerks and choristers.
Beginning during the reigns of Edward I and Edward II (1272-1327), a specialized body of liturgical musicians called the “Chapel Royal” began to take shape. The Chapel Royal were a special group of musically inclined personnel maintained by sovereigns of England within the royal household, to perform divine service in the monarch’s presence. The Chapel Royal were in constant attendance to the sovereign and travelled with the royal household and discharged its duties in the chapel of whatever place the king then happened to reside. From these modest beginnings, the chapel eventually developed into one of the foremost secular liturgical choirs in Europe with kings maintaining 40-50 voices in the choir to project the king’s image and conspicuous display of his wealth, resources and creative talent. From this talented tool of musicians came some of the pre-reformation composers of England. From 1558 on, the Chapel Royal went through several periods of ups and downs depending upon the interests of the then current sovereign. For…...

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