Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Glenn Stanley, Alain Frogley

Field of Study



Master of Arts

Open Access

Open Access


The drama Tragedia de Santa Agnetis (Rome, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Chigi C.V. 151) is a tantalizing medieval manuscript. It is a para-liturgical drama focused on the martyrdom of Saint Agnes, written in Provençal and Latin, and contains a total of sixteen musical melodies, all of which are contrafacta. Among these is the only extant melodic fragment of Pos de chantar, by Guillaume IX, Duke of Aquitaine. The drama has been the subject of few studies, none of which has appeared recently. It is dated to the mid-fourteenth century, a fact that seems never to have been questioned. However, paleographic considerations, namely of the script used and of the notation employed, seem to point to the mid-thirteenth century as a more probable date. The context for the production of this play has also not been addressed, and the majority of the scholarship consists of editions, some of which do not include the musical pieces. Furthermore, a comparison between this account and the earliest account of Saint Agnes’s martyrdom show that Tragedia de Santa Agnetis presents alterations to the original story that suggest an emphasis on conversion. The means by which the capital punishment was inflicted on Agnes was also changed from jugulation to burning at the stake, aspects that suggest an interpretation of a context of enforced conversion. The medieval inquisition, established at the aftermath of the Albigensian crusade, certainly spared no efforts to eliminate heresy and, surprisingly, prohibited bloodshed. The intertextuality of the traceable contrafacta seems to corroborate the interpretation of Tragedia de Santa Agnetis as an allegoric statement of the Medieval Inquisition.

Major Advisor

Eric Rice