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April 29, 1972

A day-long festival celebrated all things medieval, from miracles and visions to pasties and alchemists. The 12th-century French mystery play, Le Jeu d’Adam, was presented in the Chapel at 10:30 AM, and from noon until 5 PM minstrels and alchemists wandered the center of the campus amid pasties and other medieval tasties. Also in the afternoon, John Plummer, senior reseach fellow at the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York, delivered a Matthew Vassar lecture, “Vision and Visions in Some Early Gothic Manuscripts,” in Taylor Hall. Plummer was responsible for reuniting, in 1964, the long-separated halves of the 15th-century Hours of Catherine de Cleves. At 4 PM in the Aula, medieval scholar Madeleine Cosman, founder of the Institute for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at the City University of New York (CUNY), lectured and gave a concert on the lute, and at 6 PM, costumes were required for the banquet in the Main Dining Room that featured a medieval menu, complete with wine and mead.

Esther Friesner ’72 included the merriment in “Le Chateau de Main,” in her account of the day’s events in The Miscellany News: “The solemnities commenced after the saying of Grace (in Latin, of course) by the venerable Lord of the Manor, Sir Simpson. Between the courses a selection of refined and delicate entertainment was offered, including medieval songs, madrigals, further dancing and scenes from the classic manuscript of Sir Gawain the the Green Knight…. The spirits of the dance troupe (your humble servant this time taking part) were understandably high as they danced their final number, the ‘Farandole,’ which is a simple skipping dance whose only complexity lieth in the patterns made by the interweaving dancers. Of a sudden, the dancers chose to draw into their merry-making certain noble guests at the board, and ere long more joined the festivities of their own accord. In very truth, there were few who did not participate in the rollicking dance….”

The day ended at 9:30 PM in the Chapel with a performance of the 14th-century Messe de Nostre Dame of Guillaume de Machaut, “and from thence did the feasters and gentlefolk return each to his honeyste abode to partake of much-deserved rest.”

The Years