Capella de Ministrers publishes the album ‘Regina’, a tribute to 18 medieval monarchs of the Crown of Aragon.

Capella de Ministrers has released the album Regina, 18 monarcas medievales de la Corona de Aragón, a work in which the group conducted by Carles Magraner pays tribute to these influential women who were queens from the beginning of the 13th century to the beginning of the 16th century, coinciding with the commemoration of Women’s Day. This is the 67th album by this musical group with more than 35 years of artistic career as a national and international reference in historical music.

The musicologist Maricarmen Gómez Muntané states in the booklet that “in the many histories that circulate about Western music, women are largely absent, because of the minimal attention paid to women composers and because it is forgotten that without their presence, as listeners or performers, the course of music would have been very different”.

When talking about troubadours, “the fact that they were in the service of this or that member of the male nobility is emphasised, even though their compositions were especially addressed to their wives”; and if we are talking about minstrels and minstrels, they would not have been able to perform “without the collaboration of women with crystalline voices, virtuoso harp players or agile dancers. The examples could be multiplied,” says the musicologist. 

The Crown of Aragon, as a group of political territories ruled by Aragonese monarchs, existed for more than five and a half centuries, between 1164 and 1716, but it never had a titular queen, they were all consorts, says historian Vicent Baydal in the booklet, who notes its “enormous influence, power and a capital role in the evolution of society, politics and culture for centuries”.

The repertoire has been selected on the basis of its circulation in the environment of the protagonists in the different stages of their lives, giving “priority to works from Aragonese sources, when possible”, says Gómez Muntané. The recording includes 18 works by authors such as Adam de la Halle, Walther von der Vogelweide, Guillaume de Machaut, Jacopo da Bologna, Pere Oriola, Juan del Encina and Lluís del Milà, as well as various anonymous pieces from the 13th to the 15th century.

For the CD, which is distributed in more than 28 countries and on various platforms around the world, Magraner (viella and viola da arco) has worked with the singers Èlia Casanova and Beatriz Lafont (voice), the performers Fernando Marín (viola da arco), Robert Cases (hand and feather viola, lute, guitar and harp), Silke Gwendolyn Schulze (flutes, xyrenimia and dulcimer), Eduard Navarro (lute, zither, cornamuse and xyrenimia), Pau Ballester (percussions), and the collaboration of Maria Jonas (voice) and David Antich (flutes).

Reinas de la Corona de Aragón

There were a total of 33 queens in the Crown of Aragon, 18 of whom are discussed on this disc: Violante of Hungary (1235-1251), Constanza of Sicily (1276-1285), Blanca of Anjou (1295-1310), Elisenda of Moncada (1322-1327), Eleanor of Castile (1329-1336), Maria of Navarre (1338-1347), Eleanor of Portugal (1347-1348), Eleanor of Sicily (1349-1375), Sibila de Fortiá (1377-1387), Violante de Bar (1387-1396), María de Luna (1396-1406), Margarita de Prades (1409-1410), Leonor de Alburquerque (1412-1416), María de Castilla (1416-1458), Juana Enríquez (1458-1468), Isabel I of Castile (1479-1504), and Germana de Foix (1506-1516).

The origins of the monarchs are diverse: five Castilian women, who dominated the 15th century, when the Castilian dynasty of the Trastámara came to the throne in 1412; three Catalan, three French, two Sicilian and one Aragonese, one Navarrese, one Portuguese, one Cypriot and one Hungarian, outside the predominant Iberian and Mediterranean geographical area.

Violante of Hungary is one of the best known queens, says Baydal, “because of the extremely important role that her husband, James I, gave her in his chronicle (Llibre dels fets) in the process of conquering Valencian lands”, that of councillor “was one of the roles that gave great power to the queens”, as well as their “geostrategic value on the international diplomatic chessboard”, as transmitters of hereditary rights. This “enormous power” allowed for the promotion and development of cultural activities, “among which were music, dance and song”.

Presentation of the record

Last night Capella de Ministrers presented the album and the video clip of Regina at the Octubre Centro de Cultura Contemporánea de Valencia, in an event in which Carles Magraner, Vicent Monsonís, director of the video of the production company Tierra a la Vista, and the historian Vicent Baydal took part. The audience applauded the interventions and gave a warm welcome to the audiovisual proposal that provides epic images to this project and to the work on the CD Una sañosa porfía by the composer Juan del Encina.

Capella de Ministrers has been working since its beginnings on the recovery and dissemination of the musical heritage that it has rescued and disseminated in more than 1,600 concerts and collected in meticulous discographic works and in several participations, compilations and promotional CDs. His research work goes back to the Middle Ages, in which he has tackled different cultures. 

In more than seven years of career he has performed in prestigious national and international auditoriums and published works on the music of the Crown of Castile and Aragon, Arab-Andalusian, Sephardic, Christian, Viceroyal Spain, the New World, the Silk Route, the Misteri d’Elx, the Borgia, medieval, Renaissance, the Golden Age, Baroque, the Mediterranean, zarzuela…