History at the Margins - Bagpipers in Medieval Manuscripts

David Stephens discerns an undercurrent of social protest and complaint beneath the usual exuberance of the bagpiper in medieval art.

Most people associate the bagpipe with Scotland and with good reason. But this is only a part of the 'ale, for the instrument has a long history and a wide distribution. Even today there are over forty varieties of bagpipe played in such diverse cultures as those of Sweden and the Sudan. The western European bagpipe has been in use for over 800 years and for much of this time it was enjoyed by kings and peasants alike. Life is short and people have always liked to dance.

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