The Trecento (/treɪˈtʃɛntoʊ/,[1][2][3] also US: /trɛˈ-/,[4] Italian: [treˈtʃɛnto]; short for milletrecento, "1300") refers to the 14th century in Italian cultural history.[5]



Commonly the Trecento is considered to be the beginning of the Renaissance in art history. Painters of the Trecento included Giotto di Bondone, as well as painters of the Sienese School, which became the most important in Italy during the century, including Duccio di Buoninsegna, Simone Martini, Lippo Memmi, Ambrogio Lorenzetti and his brother Pietro. Important sculptors included two pupils of Giovanni Pisano: Arnolfo di Cambio and Tino di Camaino, and Bonino da Campione.

Vernacular writing

The Trecento was also famous as a time of heightened literary activity, with writers working in the vernacular instead of Latin. Dante, Petrarch and Boccaccio were the leading writers of the age. Dante produced his famous La divina commedia (The Divine Comedy), a summation of the medieval worldview, and Petrarch wrote verse in a lyrical style influenced by the Provençal poetry of the troubadours.

Secular music

In music, the Trecento was a time of vigorous activity in Italy, as it was in France, with which there was a frequent interchange of musicians and influences. Distinguishing the period from the preceding century was an emphasis on secular song, especially love lyrics; much of the surviving music is polyphonic, but the influence of the troubadours who came to Italy, fleeing the Albigensian Crusade in the early 13th century, is evident. In contrast to the artistic and literary achievements of the century, Trecento music (at least in written form) flourished in the second half of the century, and the period is often extended (especially in English-language scholarship) into the first decades of the 15th century, as a so-called "Long Trecento." Musicians and composers of the Trecento included the renowned Francesco Landini, as well as Maestro Piero, Gherardello da Firenze, Jacopo da Bologna, Giovanni da Cascia, Paolo "Tenorista" da Firenze, Niccolò da Perugia, Bartolino da Padova, Antonio Zachara da Teramo, Matteo da Perugia, and Johannes Ciconia.

See also


  1. ^ "trecento". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (5th ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2014. Retrieved 1 June 2019.
  2. ^ "trecento" (US) and "trecento". Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 1 June 2019.
  3. ^ "Trecento". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 1 June 2019.
  4. ^ "Trecento". Collins English Dictionary. HarperCollins. Retrieved 1 June 2019.
  5. ^ Il Trecento (in Italian)

Further reading

  • Long, Michael (1990). "Trecento Italy". In McKinnon, James (ed.). Antiquity and the Middle Ages: From Ancient Greece to the 15th Century. Music and Society Series. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. pp. 241–268. ISBN 0130361615.

External links

Media related to 14th-century in Italy at Wikimedia Commons

Agnolo Gaddi

Agnolo Gaddi (c.1350–1396) was an Italian painter. He was born and died in Florence, and was the son of the painter Taddeo Gaddi.

Taddeo Gaddi was himself the major pupil of the Florentine master Giotto. Agnolo was an influential and prolific artist who was the last major Florentine painter stylistically descended from Giotto. Among his pupils was the author of an art treatise, Cennino Cennini.

Andrea da Firenze

Andrea da Firenze (also known as Andreas da Florentia, Andrea de' Servi, Andrea degli Organi, Andrea di Giovanni, and Horghanista de Florentia; died 1415) was a Florentine composer and organist of the late medieval era. Along with Francesco Landini and Paolo da Firenze, he was a leading representative of the Italian ars nova style of the Trecento, and was a prolific composer of secular songs, principally ballate.

Bartolino da Padova

Bartolino da Padova (also "Magister Frater Bartolinus de Padua") (fl. c. 1365 – c. 1405) was an Italian composer of the late 14th century. He is a representative of the stylistic period known as the Trecento, sometimes known as the "Italian ars nova", the transitional period between medieval and Renaissance music in Italy.

Bernardo Daddi

Bernardo Daddi (c. 1280 – 1348) was an early Italian Renaissance painter and the leading painter of Florence of his generation. He was one of the artists who contributed to the revolutionary art of the Renaissance, which broke away from the conventions of the preceding generation of Gothic artists, by creating compositions which aimed to achieve a more realistic representation of reality. He was particularly successful with his small-scale works and contributed to the development of the portable altarpiece, a format that subsequently gained great popularity.

Donato da Cascia

Donato da Cascia (also da Firenze or da Florentia) (fl. c. 1350 – 1370) was an Italian composer of the Trecento. All of his surviving music is secular, and the largest single source is the Squarcialupi Codex. He was probably also a priest, and the picture that survives of him in the Squarcialupi Codex shows him in the robes of the Benedictine order.

Nothing at all is known about his life except what can be inferred from his picture, his name, and the geographic distribution of his surviving music. He was probably from Cascia, near Florence, and all of his music, with one exception (the virelai), is found in sources in Tuscany.

Seventeen compositions by Donato survive, including: fourteen madrigals, one caccia, one virelai, and one ballata. Except for one piece, his music is all for two voices, typical of mid-century practice in that regard, but unusually virtuosic; according to Nino Pirrotta, it "represents the peak of virtuoso singing in the Italian madrigal, and therefore in the Italian Ars nova as a whole." [1]Donato's madrigals usually feature an upper voice part which is more elaborate than the lower, and often use imitation between the two voices, though usually the imitative passages are short. In addition he uses repeated words and phrases, often with a humorous intent; the influence of the caccia is evident in this device. Jacopo da Bologna was probably an influence on his work, as can be seen in the single-voiced transitional passages between different verses of the madrigals, typical of Jacopo.


Duccio di Buoninsegna (Italian: [ˈduttʃo di ˌbwɔninˈseɲɲa]; c. 1255–1260 – c. 1318–1319) was an Italian painter active in Siena, Tuscany, in the late 13th and early 14th century. He was hired throughout his life to complete many important works in government and religious buildings around Italy. Duccio is credited with creating the painting styles of Trecento and the Sienese school, and also contributed significantly to the Sienese Gothic style.

Eran trecento

Eran trecento (a.k.a. They Were 300) is a 1952 Italian historical drama film directed by Gian Paolo Callegari.

Francesco Landini

Francesco degli Organi, Francesco il Cieco, or Francesco da Firenze, called by later generations Francesco Landini or Landino (c. 1325 or 1335 – September 2, 1397) was an Italian composer, organist, singer, poet and instrument maker. He was one of the most famous and revered composers of the second half of the 14th century, and by far the most famous composer in Italy.

Gherardello da Firenze

Gherardello da Firenze (also Niccolò di Francesco or Ghirardellus de Florentia) (c. 1320–1325 – 1362 or 1363) was an Italian composer of the Trecento. He was one of the first composers of the period sometimes known as the Italian ars nova.

Jacopo da Bologna

Jacopo da Bologna (fl. 1340 – c. 1386) was an Italian composer of the Trecento, the period sometimes known as the Italian ars nova. He was one of the first composers of this group, making him a contemporary of Gherardello da Firenze and Giovanni da Firenze. He concentrated mainly on madrigals, including both canonic (caccia-madrigal) and non-canonic types, but also composed a single example each of a caccia, lauda-ballata, and motet (Marrocco 1954, 14–16, 27–28; Fischer and d'Agostino 2001).

His setting of Non al suo amante, written about 1350, is the only known contemporaneous setting of Petrarch's poetry (Petrobelli 1975; Fischer and d'Agostino 2001).

Jacopo's ideal was "suave dolce melodia" (sweet, gentle melody) (Fischer and d'Agostino 2001). His style is marked by fully texted voice parts that never cross. The untexted passages which connect the textual lines in many of his madrigals are also noteworthy (Cuthbert 2006, 192).

He is well represented in the Squarcialupi Codex, the large collection of 14th century music long owned by the Medici family; twenty-nine compositions of his are found in that source, the principal source for music of the Italian ars nova, alongside music by Francesco Landini and others (Marrocco 1954, 6). A portrait of Jacopo is found in this manuscript, and another possible portrait is found in a north-Italian manuscript, Fulda, Landesbibliothek, Hs. D23, fol. 302 (Fischer 1973; Fischer and d'Agostino 2001). However, the identification of Jacopo as the subject of the painting in the latter source was made by a hand later than the manuscript copyist's, throwing some doubt on its reliability (Fischer 1973, 62).

In addition to his compositions, Jacopo also wrote a short theoretical treatise, Questa è l'arte del biscanto misurato (Jacopo da Bologna 1933; Marrocco 1954, 146–55), which is influenced by French notational theory (Fischer and d'Agostino 2001). He may also have been active as a poet, to judge from the autobiographical texts of the madrigals Io me sun un che, Oselleto salvazo, and Vestìse la cornachia (Fischer and d'Agostino 2001).

Johannes Ciconia

Johannes Ciconia (c. 1370 – between 10 June and 13 July 1412) was an important Flemish composer and music theorist of the late Middle Ages. He was born in Liège, but worked most of his adult life in Italy, particularly in the service of the papal chapel(s) in Rome and later and most importantly at Padua cathedral.

Lorenzo da Firenze

Lorenzo Masi, known as Lorenzo da Firenze (Magister Laurentius de Florentia) (d. December 1372 or January 1373), was an Italian composer and music teacher of the Trecento. He was closely associated with Francesco Landini in Florence, and was one of the composers of the period known as the Italian ars nova.

Little is known about his life, but some details can be inferred from the music. He was active as a teacher in Florence, probably as a teacher of Landini himself. He became a canon at the church of San Lorenzo in 1348, a post which he retained for the rest of his life.

Lorenzo is represented in the Squarcialupi Codex, the illuminated manuscript which is the most comprehensive source of Italian music of the 14th century, with 16 pieces of music, 10 madrigals, 6 ballate and one caccia. In addition to his contribution to that collection, he wrote two mass movements which have survived (one of which is of doubtful attribution) and a pedagogical piece (the Antefana), the text of which shows that he was a teacher.

His style is progressive, sometimes experimental, but curiously conservative in other ways. While he used imitation, a relatively new musical technique, and heterophonic texture, one of the rarest textures in European music, he also still used parallel perfect intervals. Voice crossings are common, when he wrote for more than one voice (most of his music is monophonic). In addition he used chromaticism to a degree rare in the 14th century, at least prior to the activity of the composers of the ars subtilior.

French influence is evident in some of his music, for example isorhythmic passages (characteristic of Machaut, but rare in Italian music). Some of the notational quirks in his work also suggest a connection with France.

Madrigal (Trecento)

For the musical form of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, see Madrigal.The Trecento Madrigal is an Italian musical form of the 14th century. It is quite distinct from the madrigal of the Renaissance and early Baroque, with which it shares only the name. The madrigal of the Trecento flourished ca. 1300–1370 with a short revival near 1400. It was a composition for two (or rarely three) voices, sometimes on a pastoral subject. In its earliest development it was simple construction: Francesco da Barberino in 1300 called it a "raw and chaotic singalong".

The text of the madrigal is divided into three sections: two strophes called terzetti set to the same music and a concluding section called the ritornello usually in a different meter.

Maestro Piero

Maestro Piero (Magister Piero or Piero) (b. before 1300, d. shortly after 1350) was an Italian composer of the late medieval era. He was one of the first composers of the Trecento who is known by name, and probably one of the oldest. He is mainly known for his madrigals.

Matteo da Perugia

Matteo da Perugia (fl. 1400–1416) was a Medieval Italian composer, presumably from Perugia. From 1402 to 1407 he was the first magister cappellae of the Milan Cathedral; his duties included being cantor and teaching three boys selected by the Cathedral deputies.

Little is known about his life apart from this. Willi Apel asserted that he was the principal composer of his generation, but this claim was challenged by Heinrich Besseler, and Matteo's historical position remains an open question. Neither has there yet been a thorough stylistic study of his compositions. He wrote many contra-tenors to existing works, which resulted in many of these being wrongly ascribed to him. Matteo wrote in many forms, including the virelai, the ballade, and the rondeau. One of his patrons was Antipope Alexander V.

Music of the Trecento

The Trecento was a period of vigorous activity in Italy in the arts, including painting, architecture, literature, and music. The music of the Trecento paralleled the achievements in the other arts in many ways, for example, in pioneering new forms of expression, especially in secular song in the vernacular language, Italian. In these regards, the music of the Trecento may seem more to be a Renaissance phenomenon; however, the predominant musical language was more closely related to that of the late Middle Ages, and musicologists generally classify the Trecento as the end of the medieval era. Trecento means "three hundred" in Italian but is usually used to refer to the 1300s. However, the greatest flowering of music in the Trecento happened late in the century, and the period is usually extended to include music up to around 1420.

Niccolò da Perugia

Niccolò da Perugia (Niccolò del Proposto also spelled as Nicolò. Latin, Magister Sere Nicholaus Prepositi de Perugia) (fl. second half of the 14th century) was an Italian composer of the Trecento, the musical period also known as the "Italian ars nova". He was a contemporary of Francesco Landini, and apparently was most active in Florence.

Little is known for certain about his life; only a few biographical details are verifiable from extramusical sources. He was probably from Perugia, and may have been the son of the provost ("proposto") there. In 1362 he was listed as a visitor to the monastery of Santa Trinita along with Gherardello da Firenze. From the evidence of his music, he was probably a friend of the Florentine poet Franco Sacchetti, and must have done the bulk of his composing between 1360 and 1375, since those are the outside dates known for the poems he set. He may be the same as the Ser Niccolò recorded as a notable singer of laude in 1393. One of his compositions, La fiera testa, was likely written against the Visconti family when Florence was at war with Milan between 1397 and 1400; Niccolò may have been in Perugia then.

A total of 41 compositions of Niccolò have survived with reliable attribution, the majority of them in the Squarcialupi Codex, and all the others from sources in Tuscany. All are secular, all are vocal, and they include 16 madrigals, 21 ballate, and 4 cacce. The madrigals are all for two voices, except for one which uses three, and all are in a relatively conservative style, uninfluenced by contemporary French practice (thereby differing from the similar works of Landini). Sacchetti's records of his poetry that was set to music includes the titles of several other pieces by Niccolò that do not survive.

One peculiarity of Niccolò was the genre of the tiny ballata, the 'ballatae minimae'. These pieces are very short, consisting of a single moralizing line of text, much different from the amorous love poetry set by other contemporary composers such as Landini.


Andrea di Cione di Arcangelo (c. 1308 – August 25, 1368), better known as Orcagna, was an Italian painter, sculptor, and architect active in Florence. He worked as a consultant at the Florence Cathedral and supervised the construction of the facade at the Orvieto Cathedral.

Paolo da Firenze

Paolo da Firenze (Paolo Tenorista, "Magister Dominus Paulas Abbas de Florentia") (c. 1355 – after September 20, 1436) was an Italian composer and music theorist of the late 14th and early 15th centuries, the transition from the musical Medieval era to the Renaissance. More surviving music of the Italian ars nova is attributable to Paolo than to any other composer except for Francesco Landini.


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