Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

3 m. N.E. of its station on the railway between Chiusi and Orvieto. Pop. (1901) 8381. Etruscan tombs have been found in the neighbourhood, but it is not certain that the present town stands on an ancient site. It was the birthplace of the painter Pietro Vannucci (Perugino), and possesses several of his works, but none of the first rank.

CITTÀ DI CASTELLO, a town and episcopal see of Umbria, Italy, in the province of Perugia, 38 m. E. of Arezzo by rail (18 m. direct), situated on the left bank of the Tiber, 945 ft. above sea-level. Pop. (1901) of town, 6096; of commune, 26,885. It occupies, as inscriptions show, the site of the ancient Tifernum Tiberinum, near which Pliny had a villa (Epist. v. 6; cf. H. Winnefeld in Jahrbuch des deutschen archäologischen Instituts, vi. Berlin, 1891, 203), but no remains exist above ground. The town was devastated by Totila, but seems to have recovered. We find it under the name of Castrum Felicitatis at the end of the 8th century. The bishopric dates from the 7th century. The town went through various political vicissitudes in the middle ages, being subject now to the emperor, now to the Church, until in 1468 it came under the Vitelli: but when they died out it returned to the allegiance of the Church. It is built in the form of a rectangle and surrounded by walls of 1518. It contains fine buildings of the Renaissance, especially the palaces of the Vitelli, and the cathedral, originally Romanesque. The 12th-century altar front of the latter in silver is fine. The Palazzo Comunale is of the 14th century. Some of Raphael’s earliest works were painted for churches in this town, but none of them remains there. There is, however, a small collection of pictures.

See Magherini Graziani, L’Arte a Città di Castello (1897).

CITTÀ VECCHIA, or Città Notabile, a fortified city of Malta, 7 m. W. of Valletta, with which it is connected by railway. Pop. (1901) 7515. It lies on high, sharply rising ground which affords a view of a large part of the island. It is the seat of a bishop, and contains an ornate cathedral, overthrown by an earthquake in 1693, but rebuilt, which is said by an acceptable tradition to occupy the site of the house of the governor Publius, who welcomed the apostle Paul. It contains some rich stalls of the 15th century and other objects of interest. In the rock beneath the city there are some remarkable catacombs in part of pre-Christian origin, but containing evidence of early Christian burial; and a grotto, reputed to have given shelter to the apostle, is pointed out below the church of San Paolo. Remains of Roman buildings have been excavated in the town. About 2 m. E. of the town is the residence of the English governor, known as the palace of S. Antonio; and at a like distance to the south is the ancient palace of the grand masters of the order of St John, with an extensive public garden called Il Boschetto. Città Vecchia was called Civitas Melita by the Romans and oldest writers, Medina (i.e. the city) by the Saracens, Notabile (locale notabile, et insigne coronae regiae, as it is called in a charter by Alphonso, 1428) under the Sicilian rule, and Città Vecchia (old city) by the knights. It was the capital of the island till its supersession by Valletta in 1570. (See also Malta.)

CITTERN (also Cithern, Cithron, Cythren, Citharen, &c.; Fr. citre, cistre, cithre, guitare allemande or anglaise; Ger. Cither, Zither (mit Hals, with neck); Ital. cetera, cetra), a medieval stringed instrument with a neck terminating in a grotesque and twanged by fingers or plectrum. The popularity of the cittern was at its height in England and Germany during the 16th and 17th centuries. The cittern consisted of a pear-shaped body similar to that of the lute but with a flat back and sound-board joined by ribs. The neck was provided with a fretted fingerboard; the head was curved and surmounted by a grotesque head of a woman or of an animal.[1] The strings were of wire in pairs of unisons, known as courses, usually four in number in England. A peculiarity of the cittern lay in the tuning of the courses, the third course known as bass being lower than the fourth styled tenor.

Britannica Cittern English tuning.jpg


According to Vincentio Galilei (the father of the great astronomer) England was the birthplace of the cittern.[2] Several lesson books for this popular instrument were published during the 17th century in England. A very rare book (of which the British Museum does not possess a copy), The Cittharn Schoole, written by Anthony Holborne in 1597, is mentioned in Sir P. Leycester's manuscript commonplace book[3] dated 1656, “For the little Instrument called a Psittyrne Anthony Holborne and Tho. Robinson were most famous of any before them and have both of them set out a booke of Lessons for this Instrument. Holborne has composed a Basse-parte for the Viole to play unto the Psittyrne with those Lessons set out in his booke. These lived about Anno Domini 1600.” Thomas Robinson’s New Citharen Lessons with perfect tunings for the same from Foure course of strings to Fourteene course, &c. (printed London, 1609, by William Barley), contains illustrations of both kinds of instruments. The fourteen-course cittern was also known in England as Bijuga; the seven courses in pairs were stretched over the finger-board, and the seven single strings, fastened to the grotesque head, were stretched as in the lyre à vide alongside the neck; all the strings rested on the one flat bridge near the tail-piece. Robinson gives instructions for learning to play the cittern and for reading the tablature. John Playford’s Musick’s Delight on the Cithren (London, 1666) also contains illustrations of the instrument as well as of the viol da Gamba and Pochette; he claims to have revived the instrument and restored it to what it was in the reign of Queen Mary.

Britannica Cittern Four-course Cittern.jpg

From Thomas Robinson's New Citharen Lessons, 1609.

Four-course Cittern.

The cittern probably owed its popularity at this time to the ease with which it might be mastered and used to accompany the voice; it was one of four instruments generally found in barbers' shops, the others being the gittern, the lute and the virginals. The customers while waiting took down the instrument from its peg and played a merry tune to pass the time.[4] We read that when Konstantijn Huygens came over to England and was received by James I. at Bagshot, he played to the king on the cittern (cithara), and that his performance was duly appreciated and applauded. He tells us that, although he learnt to play the barbiton in a few weeks with skill, he had lessons from a master for two years on the cittern.[5] On the occasion of a third visit he witnessed the performance of some fine musicians and was astonished to hear a lady, mother of twelve, singing in divine fashion, accompanying herself on the cittern; one of these artists he calls Lanivius, the British Orpheus, whose performance was really enchanting.

Michael Praetorius[6] gives various tunings for the cittern as

  1. See Shakespeare, Love's Labour's Lost, act v. sc. 2, where Boyet compares the countenance of Holofernes to a cittern head; John Forde, Lovers' Melancholy (1629), act ii. sc. I, “Barbers shall wear thee on their citterns.”
  2. Dialogo della musica (Florence, 1581), p. 147.
  3. The musical extracts from the commonplace book were prepared by Dr Rimbault for the Early English Text Society. Holborne's work is mentioned in his Bibliotheca Madrigaliana. The descriptive list of the musical instruments in use in England during Leycester's lifetime (about 1656) has been extracted and published by Dr F. J. Furnivall, in Captain Cox, his Ballads and Books, or Robert Laneham's Letter (1575), (London, 1871), pp. 65-68.
  4. See Knight's London, i. 142.
  5. See De Vita propria sermonum inter liberos libri duo (Haarlem, 1817) and E. van der Straeten, La Musique aux Pays-Bas, ii. 348-350.
  6. Syntagma Musicum (1618). See also M. Mersenne, Harmonie universelle (Paris, 1636), livre ii. prop. xv., who gives different accordances.