The Rosary Cantoral is a rare and beautifully decorated manuscript of Latin plainchant for the Catholic Mass compiled in Toledo, Spain, around the year 1500. In an engaging and richly interdisciplinary essay, Lorenzo Candelaria approaches the Rosary Cantoral as a cultural artifact, unlocking the secrets behind its images and music to reveal the social history and rituals of an elite brotherhood dedicated to the rosary and aspects of the religious community it served: the Dominicans of San Pedro Martir de Toledo.
The Rosary Cantoral: Ritual and Social Design in a Chantbook from Early Renaissance Toledo presents a model for realizing the fuller significance of illuminated music manuscripts as cultural artifacts and offers unprecedented insights into the social and devotional life of Toledo, Spain, around the turn of the sixteenth century. After solving the mystery of the Rosary Cantoral's origins, subsequent essays probe the meaning and cultural significance of the manuscript's iconography (including a border decoration after Albrecht Durer), its rare Spanish chants for the Mass, and two striking musical works for multiple voices (one by Josquin Desprez and another on "L'homme arme"). Ultimately, this book focuses on the extraordinary circumstances that engendered the compilation of the Rosary Cantoral around 1500: a system of patronage between a brotherhood of suspected heretics and a religious house that was a key supporter of the Inquisition in Toledo.
Lorenzo Candelaria (University of Texas at Austin) is co-author of American Music: A Panorama.