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Le Voir Dit: a reconstruction and a guide for musicians1

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 September 2008


Guillaume de Machaut's autobiographical poem, Le Voir Dit, has been known to musicians mainly by reputation. In 1928 Friedrich Ludwig printed extracts from passages on music in the introduction to his edition of Machaut's complete musical works, in 1969 Sarah Jane Williams examined Machaut's remarks about manuscript production, and in a more general article, for the 1977 Machaut anniversary, she introduced Le Voir Dit to non-specialists. On the whole, however, musicians have been content to leave study of the complete text to scholars of Middle French. Their priorities are, of course, very different; much of the most influential writing on Le Voir Dit from the last twenty years has been concerned to show how the text might be read in a structuralist or post-structuralist manner, and has placed relatively little emphasis on more positivistic questions such as how the text was compiled or its relationship to the historical persons and events it mentions. Yet to anyone interested in the origins and function of this extraordinary document such issues seem fundamental; indeed, the historically minded reader might wonder how the text can be understood at all until such matters have been addressed.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1993

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1 This article is a companion to Daniel Leech-Wilkinson, ‘Le Voir Dit and La Messe de Nostre Dame: Aspects of Genre and Style in Late Works of Machaut’, published in this journal, 2/1 (1993), 43–73. I am especially grateful to Ardis Butterfield, Christopher Page, Barton Palmer and John Stevens for discussions of earlier versions.

2 Guillaume de Machaut: Musikalische Werke, ed. Ludwig, Friedrich (Leipzig, 1928), II, pp. 53*–8*.Google Scholar

3 Sarah Jane Williams, ‘An Author's Role in Fourteenth-Century Book Production: Guillaume de Machaut's “Livre ou je met toutes mes choses”’, Romania, 90 (1969), 433–54Google Scholar; ‘The Lady, the Lyrics and the Letters’, Early Music, 5 (1977), 462–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

4 Le Livre du Voir-Dit de Guillaume de Machaut, ed. Paris, Paulin (Paris, 1875Google Scholar; repr. Geneva, 1969; henceforth Paris).Google Scholar

5 Cerquiglini, Jacqueline, ≪Un Engin si Soutil≫: Guillaume de Machaut et l'Ecriture au XIVe Siècle (Paris, 1985)Google Scholar

6 Guillaume de Machaut: Le Voir Dit, ed. Leech-Wilkinson, Daniel and Palmer, R. Barton (Garland Library of Medieval Literature, forthcoming).Google Scholar

7 Hanf, Georg, ‘Ueber Guillaume de Machauts Voir Dit’, Zeitschrift fur romamsche Philologie, 20 (1898), 145–96.Google Scholar His conclusion that Le Voir Dit is a free invention can no longer be sustained on the basis of the evidence he offered. In the notes to the outline below I have avoided tediously identifying every point of disagreement with him, but have acknowledged those observations which still seem valuable.

8 Calin, William, A Poet at the Fountain: Essays on the Narrative Verse of Guillaume de Machaut (Lexington, 1974), pp. 169–71.Google Scholar

9 This was already clearly implied in Walter Eichelberg's 1935 dissertation, Dichtung und Wahrheit in Machauts “Voir Dit” (Düren, 1935), much footnoted by later authors but little heeded. Although Eichelberg did not attempt to set out a chronology or to explore the potentially historical references in the text, he did successfully establish a logical order for letters II-VII and XL-XLI, the same order as set out (independently, as it happens) below.

10 That Le Voir Dit was compiled from bundles of letters, poems and songs, and not written as a through-composed whole, is strongly suggested by the misorderings, displacements and mis-datings which such a compilation process explains most economically. (See, for example, notes 21, 25, 28, 30, 34, 37, 62, 83, and especially 92 and 104.)

11 The contents are outlined in greater detail for letters II–VII than thereafter, since the authors′ replies provide evidence for the original order of events. Page, letter and line numbers refer to the Paris edition (in the absence of any other); but the full text was considered from MSS A, E, F and Morg.

12 Although it would appear that Machaut began serious work on Le Voir Dit in late July of the following year (see notes 63 and 77 below), he had made a start by early June (letter XVII). Line 1928, which dates Machaut's first knowledge of Peronne ten months earlier, belongs to early May. This seems to fix the previous July for the events described here.

13 The year was established by Paris (especially pp. xxix, 387 and 401), referring events in the poem back to the Chronique de Nangis, was supported by Machabey, (Guillaume de Machault, 130?–1377: la vie et l'æuvre musical (Paris, 1955), I, pp. 5662Google Scholar), and is confirmed here (see especially notes 26, 56, 67, 75, 94 and 106).

14 Letter XXVI implies that this was the Henri mentioned several times later in the story (Paris, p. 195). In line 58 Machaut remarks that he had not seen him for a full twelve months.

15 Since late 1361 or early 1362? In letter VI [March? 1363] Machaut tells Peronne he has been ill for a year.

16 The distance is only approximately confirmed by Machaut's thanks to the friend-messenger for having ridden for nearly a week (lines 256–60). Paris (p. 386) wonders if this might include the return journey. Later events (especially in May-June 1363) suggest that Peronne is mainly resident in Paris.

17 Machaut's responding request not to call him ‘Seigneur’ (letter IV(e)) is likely to result from different readings of the same abbreviation.

18 Number-letter keys indicate points from previous letters answered here. These are the principal evidence for the order in which the letters were sent and received. For a more detailed presentation see Eichelberg, , Dichtung und Wahrheit, pp. 3545.Google Scholar

19 Because of its subject and the placing of its text immediately after that of Pleures, dames this balade must be Amours, ma dame et fortune et mi oeil (Paris, p. 26). On its displacement in relation to this letter see note 21.

20 It becomes clear from lines 1124 and 1185–6 that this is either Foix or somewhere en route from Foix. For the possibility that Peronne's stay in the south was connected with Jean II's visit to the pope at Avignon at the same time see note 26.

21 But see IV(d). That Pleures, dames had been written earlier, during Machaut's original illness, and enclosed with letter IV, seems to be confirmed by the placing with it (at line 595) of Amours ma dame, also referred to in letter IV. They were presumably written on a separate sheet which was displaced by the new story of the origins of Pleures, dames (lines 543–70). The non-specific text, addressed to all ladies rather than Peronne, suggests an earlier date of composition, though the music may well have been added at this time, towards the end of 1362.

22 This is almost certainly an old virelai of Machaut's, since none of those outside MS C (and thus likely to have been written after c. 1350) has a suitable text.

23 My source for all such dates is Cappelli, A., Cronologia, Cronografia e Calendario Perpetuo (Milan, 3rd edn, 1969).Google Scholar

24 Supports proposal of note 21: Peronne understands B32 to refer to his original illness and not to his current relapse.

25 Eichelberg, (Dichtung und Wahrheit, pp. 66–7Google Scholar) points out that, on account of its text, this must be Des que premiers oy retraire which Machaut presents later as part of their exchange of poems during his novena (Paris, p. 78). In the MSS, however, Machaut places the rondeau Celle qui nuit et jour (lines 625–36) as if it were the virelai mentioned here. In view of II(f) (see below) it may be that both, or early versions of both, were sent at around this time.

26 In attempting to identify Peronne's brother we should bear in mind that the new pope, Urban V, was consecrated in Avignon on 6 November 1362, and that King Jean II visited him there from 20 November until 9 May 1363 (Delachenal, Roland, Histoire de Charles V, II (Paris, 1909), pp. 323 and 345Google Scholar; Luce, , (Chroniques de Froissart, vol. 6: 13601366, ed. Luce, Siméon (Paris, 1876))Google Scholar states that Jean arrived in Avignon in early November (p. XXXVIII n. 1) but first met the pope on 22nd (p. XXXIX n. 1). He took leave of the pope on 9 May, leaving Avignon between the 15th and 17th (p. XLII n. 2)). It is possible that her brother's trip to Avignon (and perhaps Machaut's letter to him) was connected with these events, particularly since we find him visiting the king in Reims later in Le Voir Dit (letter XXIX). For his return from the present trip see letter VI. He seems to have stayed frequently in Reims during the next year (see letters V(i), VI(b), XXVI-XXIX, XXXI, and possibly XXXVI).

27 See note 22. It is clear that more messages passed between Machaut and Peronne than are included in Le Voir Dit. Machaut admits (lines 1669–78) that during his novena, while he was staying not far from Peronne, and leading up to their first meeting, notes passed daily between them, notes he omits for reasons of space. Cerquiglini, (≪Un Engin si Soutil≫, pp. 43–4)Google Scholar reads this to imply that, as a matter of course, he included throughout the story only the long formally constructed epistres which the lovers exchanged. Unfortunately the omission of the less ‘literary’ messages considerably obscures the original sequence of events.

28 The letter-pair II-III was probably misplaced after VI-VII because Machaut or an assistant assumed on a superficial glance that the ‘doubts’ of III (which actually refer to those of II) referred to those of the period eventually described in narrative lines 1228–91. The latter must in fact refer to the melancholy (presumably expressed in a message perhaps sent with Quant ma dame (see also notes 31 and 38)) of lines 1157–212, to which Peronne responded in VII(f).

29 See note 25.

30 Of the rondeaux after MS C but before R17, Dix et sept (sent later), only R13 has a suitable text. Its placing and introduction at lines 1213 ff. are both anomalous (though the present remark is hardly contextualized). It seems possible that by the time he came to assemble (and probably touch up) the letters and write the surrounding narrative Machaut could no longer remember when it originated. And if it was composed earlier (as I have suggested in ‘Le Voir Dit and La Messe’) both these placings may be untrue.

31 In the MSS lines 1228–91 precede letter III. However the complainte which they introduce was received by Machaut only after letter VII (see lines 1292 ff.). It seems likely that had Machaut been working around the correctly ordered letters a similar narrative would have been included here to record a similar phase of doubt followed by reassurance. The misordering of letters here occurred precisely because the situations were so similar. See also notes 28 and 38.

32 It is possible that this phrase (‘et le plus grant desir que iay cest de vous veoir’ (A f. 233v)) provides the origin of the refrain for B33 (‘le grant desir que iay de vous veoir’). The text of B33 was written sometime before letter VI (see VI(k)) at Peronne's request – a request presumably made in a note, excluded by Machaut, exchanged between letters III and VI (see also note 36). Cerquiglini, (≪Un Engin si Soutil≫, p. 38)Google Scholar notes the borrowing of a balade refrain from a phrase used in immediately preceding letters in the story (letters XXVII and XXVIII, and ‘Peronne's’ balade Puis que tant a languir hai (Paris, pp. 208–9)).

33 Rather than continuing from lines 637–820 these lines seem correctly sited before letter VI (where they occur in the MSS), especially since Peronne does not receive these lyrics until just before letter VII (see VII(b)).

34 It was probably this relapse and the VI(c) revival which caused Machaut or an assistant to assume on a superficial glance that this letter belonged early in the correspondence, after the narrative lines 637–820 with its reference to Peronne's twice reviving Machaut; but all references from here to other letters are to letter III (seventh in the manuscripts). ‘T’ is probably Peronne's brother (‘Th’ in letter XXVII (MS F only) and XXXI (MSS A and F)), referred to often later in the story as a go-between. It seems likely that this ‘return’ ties in with V(h). (See also note 26.)

35 Morpheus (La fonteinne amoureuse) was Machaut's most recent narrative poem, and it is thus to be expected that he should choose it for somebody who knows nothing (III(h)) of his work.

36 This is a further suggestion of more letters than are included in Le Voir Dit, since Machaut's apology for not having written sooner (in response to III) can hardly apply to the letter received today. There must have been at least three letters between III and VI, one including the text of Le grant desir (B33), a response from Peronne requesting music for it, and (since the music is unlikely to have been written since receiving her letter ‘today’) a third from Peronne – that received ‘today’. This may well respond to a fourth, from Machaut. Since the first part of VI nevertheless responds directly to points made in III, either these missing letters are only brief notes (in support of which possibility see note 27 above), or letter VI is a composite of two or more originals (in support of which see Eichelberg, , Dichtung und Wahrheit, pp. 63–6).Google Scholar

37 Presumably another letter omitted. In constructing narrative around the misordered letters Machaut would have assumed that the letter referred to here was the next (the seventh) in his bundle of letters, i.e. Paris's letter III. In fact both the references to spring weather and the messenger from Foix (whose mission to Lorraine takes only a week – line 1126) suggest that this narrative must refer to events after letters III and VI. That fact (if such it is) that Machaut only conceived Le Voir Dit later (probably in late May – see note 51) might explain why several of the earlier letters are not included – they presumably had not been kept.

38 These lines, and lines 1228–91, offer good examples of the consequences of Machaut's misordering of letters. In writing the narrative sections to contextualize them Machaut orders events both by the order in which (as he recalls) they occurred, and according to what seems to belong around each letter as he comes to it. These criteria conflict where the order of letters is wrong. Thus lines 1157–212 were written to introduce letter II (sixth in the MSS) but also reflect the relapse into melancholy recorded here and in the (missing) message sent via the servant from Gascony to which VII responds. Likewise lines 1228–91 record Peronne's response to that message, but were written to precede letter III. See also notes 28 and 31. For the lyric following this section, Dame se vous n'avez aperceu, see letter II(g) and note 30 above.

39 That of line 1228, sent via the servant returning to Gascony. See also note 38.

40 From here to letter XXXIX events proceed as in Machaut's ordering of narrative and letters.

41 This became the most common fourteenth-century term for the bands of freebooters who pillaged France from the treaty of Brétigny (1 May 1360) onwards (Philippe Contamine, ‘Les compagnies d'aventure en France pendant la guerre de cent ans’, Melanges de l'Ecole Française de Rome (1975), 365–96).

42 The following dates are established by counting back from the next precise date, 12 June (line 3370), via the Sunday mentioned in letter XI, the number of days chronicled by Machaut from here to line 3370.

43 Nine successive days′ devotion.

44 Since Machaut completes his novena only after meeting Peronne (letter XI) this first novena cannot have been completed (see Paris, p. 391). Peronne persuades him (lines 1641–8) to leave it in order to come to her. The ‘nearly a fortnight’ therefore seems likely to include the second novena plus what he achieved of the first (three or four days?). Letter XIII confirms that the Duke of Normandy requires Machaut once his novena is complete. Presumably this is what is referred to in the cryptic lines 1526–36. Paris notes (p. 389) that the reference to Jean II in lines 1531–2 implies that these lines were written between 5 January and 8 April 1364, although it is far from unambiguous. Letter XLII implies that he was indeed at work on the poem before Easter. See note 51, however. The Ordonnances des Roys de France de la Troisième Race, III (1355–1364) (Paris, 1732), pp. 628–33 and 635–8Google Scholar, confirm that Charles of Normandy was in Paris at this time.

45 Machaut De mon vrai cuer, Peronne Cils a bien fole pensee, M Belle, vostre douce ymage, P Amis pour ce l'envoiai-ge, M Se mes cuers art, P L'amour de vous qui en mon cuer remaint.

46 M Vos pensees me sont commandement, P Amis, venes vers moy seurement, M Douce, plaisant et debonnaire, P Des que premiers oy retraire (on which see note 25).

47 Apparently not true, since it is in MS C, copied (according to Avril) between 1350 and 1356 (Avril, François, ‘Un chef-d'œuvre de l'enluminure sous le règne de Jean le Bon: La Bible Moralisée manuscrit français 167 de la Bibliothèque nationale’, Fondation Eugène Piot. Monuments et Mémoires publiées par l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, 58 (Paris, 1972), pp. 112–14).Google Scholar Also in C, within the Louange des dames section, are the balades Amis si parfaitement* (Paris, p. 205), Gent corps (p. 152), Hui ha.i. mois (pp. 204–5 – see also letter XXVII and note 63 below), II n'est doleur* (p. 187), Le bien de vous (p. 93), Li plus grans biens (p. 100), and the virelai Cils a bien* (p. 72). Not only does Machaut lie in claiming that these poems were written as described in the narrative (always assuming that the dating of C is correct) but also in ascribing three of them (starred above) to Peronne. We cannot assume, then, that any of the lyrics ascribed to her are the work of anyone but Machaut. This may not apply to ‘her’ letters, however, since Musso's statistical study finds significant differences in their style (Noël Musso, ‘Comparaison statistique des lettres de Guillaume de Machaut et de Peronne d'Armentière dans le Voir-Dit’, Guillaume de Machaut: Poète et Compositeur, in Actes et Colloques 23 (Paris, 1982), 175–93).

48 M Long sont mi jour; P Amis bien voy; M Belle quant vous m′ares mort; P Amis se Dieus me confort. Lines 2794–5 could imply that Machaut sent all these to Peronne and therefore that he composed ‘hers’ as well as his. It seems quite possible that he agreed with Peronne that he would compose ‘her’ lyrics wherever this would contribute to the literary quality of their story.

49 Letter XXVI, the relative proximity of Crécy [probably -la-Chapelle, Brie] and St Denis revealed in lines 3152 and 3353, the facts that Peronne left where she was on account of the plague (letter XXVIII) and that Machaut's present from Paris is lost due to plague there (letters XXXV and XLI) and their passing the Lendit fair on the way to St Denis on their first day's pilgrimage (line 3382) all suggest that Peronne was in or near Paris.

50 Delachenal, Histoire de Charles V, records that throughout this period Charles ‘avait résidé in Paris ou dans les environs de Paris’ (II, p. 345). Further research is needed to establish whether this stretches to Crécy. Paris, p. 389, notes (unidentified) work by the Marquis d'Aubaïs as confirming that Jean II was in Crécy-en-Brie in June. This is impossible, however. The itinerary established by Luce, (Chroniques de Froissart, 1876, p. XLII)Google Scholar for the leisurely return of Jean from Avignon to Paris has him in Lyon on 28 May, Châlon on 7 June, Talent-sur-Dijon on 27 June, Troyes and Provins in early July, reaching Paris only during the first fortnight of July.

51 This is the first of many references to the compilation of Le Voir Dit which, taken together, allow us to reconstruct a chronology for the writing of the narrative. Machaut, according to his testimony, began work before letter XVII (hence this reference), possibly during the preceding fortnight spent with the Duke of Normandy at Crécy which followed his first meeting with Peronne, that is between c. 30 May and 12 June 1363. He returned to it in late July (see letter XXV, ‘me suis remis a vostre livre’) and systematic work seems to have begun then (see note 63). By 8 August Machaut was working at a rate of 100 lines per day (letter XXVII). Continuing progress can be followed through letters XXV, XXVI, XXVII, XXIX, XXX, XXXI (reporting a hiatus in mid-September), XXXIII, XXXIV, lines 5975–8, XXXV, until he sends Peronne the book, complete up to early October (XXXV and note 93) on 17 October. Machaut would then have completed roughly 6000 lines (including lyrics, though some already existed and others may be by Peronne) at an average rate of no more than 70 lines per day – reasonable in view of the regular references to its progress and assuming that the 100 lines per day boasted in letter XXX was a good speed.

Peronne kept the book until at least the start of their estrangement at the end of November (letters XXXVII, XXXVIII, XXXIX), and possibly until May 1364 (XLIII and note 118). Machaut continued work, however, until about Easter 1364 (XLII), probably bringing the narrative up-to-date (note 108). He thus added roughly a further 1000 lines (including lyrics) between mid-October 1363 and March 1364 – understandably, in view of the saddened circumstances, a slower rate than before.

Peronne asked to see again the first section (i.e. the 6000 or so lines sent to her on 17 October 1363) on 10 October 1364 (XLIII), and so had clearly returned it sometime before; and she repeated her request on 8 March 1365. Machaut completed the book (presumably bar the last letter and concluding narrative) at the end of April 1365 (XLV). Peronne had it sometime after ‘1 May’ (the date is suspicious on account of its symbolism); and he presumably finished it by adding XLVI and the final narrative section sometime after then.

It should also be noted that sometime during 1364 Machaut may have reworked earlier passages (see notes 44 and 126), though not systematically (see note 108).

52 Charles issued an order in Paris on 13 June (printed in Delachenal, , Histoire de Charles V, II, pp. 445–6)Google Scholar; but it is not impossible that he released Machaut on 11 June because of his own imminent departure. See also note 50.

53 Held at St Denis every June. (Ordonnances, p. 187, note (n).)

54 Identified by Paris, p. 394, with La Chapelle Saint-Denis.

55 Hanf (‘Ueber Guillaume de Machauts Voir Dit’, pp. 176–7) calculates that since Machaut writes at lunchtime on the 20th, having ridden all morning, the messenger cannot have got letter XIX to Peronne before the evening, and that letter XX must therefore have been written that evening or the next day. See also Eichelberg, Dichtung und Wahrheit, p. 33.

56 The most detailed study of Arnaud de Cervoles, known as L'Archiprêtre, periodically leader of a compagnie of Bretons, is Chérest, Aimé, L'Archiprêtre: Episodes de la guerre de cent ans au XIV e siècle (Paris, 1879)Google Scholar. From spring 1363 Arnaud was campaigning with Henry de Joinville against the dukes of Lorraine and Bar (which might contribute to Machaut's nervousness – he acts as host to the Duke of Bar in October (letter XXXIII)) around Metz, moving south-west towards Bar (Chérest, , pp. 221–5;Google Scholar The Chronicle of Jean de Venette, ed. Newhall, Richard A., trans. Birdsall, Jean (New York, 1953), pp. 113–14).Google Scholar The Chroniques ou Annales du doyen de Saint-Thibaut de Metz, however, implies that ‘the Bretons’ moved from Metz towards St Quentin (Chérest, p. 224, n. 2), in which direction Machaut, returning from Paris to Reims, would have been more likely to encounter them. Lines 5190 ff. contain a complaint at the pillaging of the archpriest and the Bretons, and the Grand Compagnie who have returned and go as far as Germany. For other (potential) references to the companies and the resulting dangers of travel see letters X, XXI, XXIX, XXXVII, XXXIX, lines 6932–40, XLIII, XLVI. For a view of the geographical and chronological extent of the freebooters’ activities see Henri Denifle, La Désolation des Eglises, Monastères et Hopitaux en France pendant la Guerre de Cent Ans, Tome II: La Guerre de Cent Ans, tome I: Jusqu'a la Mort de Charles V (1380) (Paris, 1899, repr. Brussels, 1965). Other useful studies are E. de Fréville, ‘Des Grandes Compagnies au quatorzième siècle’, Bibliothèque de l'Ecole des Chartes, III (1841–2), 258–81 and V (1843–4), 232–53; and Luce, Siméon, Histone de Bertrand du Guesclin et de son Epoque, tome I: La Jeunesse de Bertrand 1320–1364 (Pans, 1876).Google Scholar

57 The dates suggested between here and letter XXVII (dated 8 August) guess an average delivery and response time of a week. The shorter the time, the longer Machaut would have had to compose Lai 13 – unless it existed already.

58 See note 47.

59 Indeed, only half as many lyrics (twenty-one as opposed to forty-one) are sent to Peronne in the two years after Machaut begins the book (at about the time of letter XVII) as were sent during the year before.

60 Henri; see letter XXXVI. Paris, pp. 383–6, reads the following sentence (‘et par dieu nous le devons amer. car cest cils par quoy nos amours furent premiers commencies’ (here from A f. 264r)) as identifying the ‘special friend’ who brings Machaut Peronne's first message (p. 3) with Henri.

61 Paris (p. 195, n. 4) suggests that this is simply an affectionate way of referring to a single brother, Machaut's, which would account for the singular ‘li’ and ‘il’ in the second phrase. See also the similar phraseology at the end of letter XXVIII. It is clear, though, that Peronne's brother was in Reims, where Machaut's brother Jean was a canon, at this time (see note 64).

62 This probably refers to the trouble Machaut evidently had in ordering the early letters, now almost a year old. The mistaken ordering of letters II and III relative to VI and VII, demonstrated above, is easier to understand in this light.

63 This lyric was already written before the compilation of MS C, i.e. ten years or more earlier (see note 47). But that does not necessarily devalue Machaut's claim that he began Le Voir Dit at the end of the month when he left her. He left Peronne first in early May, next on or about 20 May, and most recently on 20 June. Although only since the latter did a month elapse without a meeting, the first reference to the compilation of Le Voir Dit comes in letter XVII, probably written around the beginning of June; so Machaut is presumably using the poem to remind Peronne of their first meeting. Regular accounts of his progress on Le Voir Dit begin only with letter XXV, written probably in late July; and it seems likely that systematic work on the narrative began only then. A remark in letter XXX (see below) seems to confirm this. See also line 29 of the poem and note 12 above. For a fuller chronology of the composition of Le Voir Dit see note 51.

64 This confirms the possible implication of letter XXVI that Peronne's brother, ‘Th’ (F f. 170v; A f. 276r and Morg f. 155r have ‘t’, E f. 192r ‘T’), stayed for long periods (was living?) at Reims. Cf. note 26.

65 See note 47.

66 Actually ‘the Sunday before the middle of August’, which in 1363 could only mean Sunday 13th.

67 As Paris noted (p. xxix, citing the graphic description of Jean de Venette (Chronicle, ed. Newhall, , pp. 111–12))Google Scholar, the plague seems to have recurred with particular severity in Paris during the summer of 1363. For confirmation see Glénisson, Jean, ‘La seconde peste: l'épidémie de 1360–1362 en France et en Europe’, Annuaire-bulletin de la Société de l'Histoire de France 19681969 (pub. 1971), p. 32.Google Scholar

68 See note 61.

69 In view of the date of letter XXIX (17 September) it looks as if Machaut exaggerated by a month, possibly for the sake of a rhyme (… entiers/ … en tiers). Hanf (‘Ueber Guillaume de Machauts Voir Dit’, p. 189) observes the close similarity of these lines to a passage near the beginning of the story (lines 525 ff.), suggesting that Machaut's phraseology here was influenced by his memory of the earlier lines.

70 See note 56 above.

71 As Hanf pointed out (‘Ueber Guillaume de Machauts Voir Dit’, p. 169), Machaut claims in letter XXXI that this dream took place around the vigil of the Holy Cross (14 September), at the same time as Peronne's. Here he says that he received letter XXIX the following day, in letter XXXI that he received it on the vigil of St Michael (28 September). But it is quite likely that the coincidence of their dreams was (characteristic) wishful thinking on Machaut's part.

72 Presumably where the messenger bringing letter XXVIII told Machaut she would be.

73 F gives ‘x’ for ‘xx’, i.e. 10 August, but in view of the date of XXVIII this must be wrong. Equally, ‘xx’ cannot be strictly accurate either, since she expected (in letter XXVIII) to arrive there on 14 August, and the number of days covered by the following itinerary can only bring this letter's writing to 17 September if they are counted from 14 August. It may be that a figure after the first ‘x’ was unclear in the source MS, being read as crossed through by F, as a second ‘x’ by A, the intended figure being ‘iv’. (Despite Hanf (‘Ueber Guillaume de Machauts Voir Dit’, pp. 189–90), all sources (except the abbreviated Morg which omits this passage) agree in dating this letter to the 17th.)

74 Despite Paris's note on p. 399.

75 Jean II was in Reims from at least the end of September, staying until at least 23 October (Delachenal, Historie de Charles V, II, pp. 348 and 349, n. 2). Clearly the lords who lodged in Machaut's house for the next few weeks, causing him so much disturbance and getting first sight of R17 (see letters XXXIII and XXXV), were there as part of the king's entourage. On Peronne's brother in this context see note 26.

76 It seems probable that this was ‘Biau Chastel’. In letter XLIII (10 October 1364) Peronne reminds Machaut that she was there a year ago this month. On 5 October this year (1363 – letter XXXII) she gives Machaut new postal instructions, implying that she has arrived somewhere new; and on 5 November (letter XXXVIII) she expects to arrive at her next destination in eight days, which sets a rough limit to her stay there. See also note 88. Machaut adds to letter XXIX, without explanation, the balade Nuit et jour (lines 5494–507), ostensibly from Peronne.

77 Ties in precisely with note 63.

78 Cf. lines 5508–9 with the first point from this letter.

79 If Peronne's letter was sent on 17 September, this indicates an eleven-day ‘postal time’, surprising in view of her remark in XXIX that the messenger went for no other purpose than to deliver it to Machaut. Subsequent letters are exchanged very much more quickly.

80 ‘Th’ in A (f. 273v) and F (f. 176r); ‘t’ in E (f. 195v). (This passage is omitted from Morg.)

81 A mildly surprising remark, as Machaut is not usually so specific as to time. In view of Anne Robertson's conclusion that Machaut's endowment of a Saturday Mary Mass was sufficient to support a weekly polyphonic performance, could it be the Messe de Nostre Dame that Peronne's brother had just heard? (Robertson, Anne Walters, ‘The Mass of Guillaume de Machaut in the Cathedral of Reims’, in Plainsong and Polyphony in the later Middle Ages and Renaissance, ed. Kelly, Thomas F. (Cambridge, 1991), pp. 100–39.)Google Scholar

82 In view of the last point from this letter Machaut clearly has some reason for holding on to the R17 music a little longer. It is revealed in letter XXXIII, first point.

83 This folder would presumably have contained his earlier letters and poems to her. Letter XXXII reveals that Machaut has accidentally included within it a letter to him from a third person.

84 The arguments for this identification are set out in Leech-Wilkinson, ‘Le Voir Dit and La Messe’.

85 Very probably composed by Machaut – see Hanf, ‘Ueber Guillaume de Machauts Voir Dit’, pp. 169–70.

86 This letter shows no sign of being from the next year or out of order. A copying error must be assumed. 5 October fits well with subsequent dates. Hanf (ibid, p. 190) ingeniously suggests that ‘viije’ (October numbered according to the old-style calendar) might have been misread as ‘may’.

87 Peronne was presumably interested only in the cantus line, having no use for the newly composed tenor and contratenor.

88 Paris, p. 399, suggests that the place is therefore either Troyes or Chalons-sur-Marne. Peronne herself remarks in letter XLIII (10.x.64) that a year ago this month she was at Biau Chastel, which may eventually help with the identification. Machaut places the balade Ne solez en nul semay (lines 5741–61), ostensibly by Peronne, after this letter.

89 A, F and Morg have ‘decembre’ for ‘d'octobre’, a surprisingly easy misreading in A's script. Paris (p. 259, n. 3), incorrectly believing that Jean II was in Reims only from 18 October, proposes 19 October as the correct date; but that would anyway conflict with letter XXXV (17 October).

90 Paris is mistaken in stating (p. xxxi) that the Duke of Bar received that title only in 1364. It was, in fact, 1354 (Germain, Léon, L'Erection du Duché de Bar (Nancy, 1885), p. 7).Google Scholar

91 That Machaut genuinely planned to set it, and the other two virelais originally sent with it (lines 821–34, letter VII(c) and (g)), is implied by their inclusion in the music sections of Machaut manuscripts A, G and Vg, even though they have no musical settings there.

92 In response to Machaut's request in letter XXXV (see below), letter XXXIII was returned to him by Peronne enclosed with her letter XXXVI. Upon receipt Machaut would be likely, assuming that the letters were in a separate bundle and that there was as yet no narrative within which to fit them, to place the answering XXXTV after the returned XXXIII and thus in a bundle with XXXVI. It would thus be easy for a copyist to copy out XXXIV with XXXVI's date. A similar mistake was made with letters XL and XLI – see note 104.

93 Probably referring to her departure imminent in letter XXIX.

94 The duke was at Rouen from early August until he moved on to Amiens at the beginning of December (Delachenal, , Historie de Charles V, II, p. 346)Google Scholar. Hence Machaut's eventual inability to go to him (letter XXXVII and note 100).

95 Presumably (since he says ‘le balade’ rather than ‘un’ ) the balade sent to Machaut which Peronne found unopened in her folder (letter XXXII).

96 Ludwig proposes that Paien be identified with a teacher of law at the Sorbonne in the third quarter of the century (Guillaume de Machaut: Musikalische Werke, II, p. 69*). Since it is a relatively unusual name he may also be the Thomas Paien referred to in an order of Pope Urban V, dated 24 February 1364. That Paien enjoyed benefices from the Benedictine monastery of St Stephen at Fontenailles, north of Bayeux, and died on 30 December 1363. (Lettre Communes des Papes du XIVe siècle: Urbain V (1362–1370), lettres communes, ed. Avril, François et al. , III/l (Rome, 1974), p. 98.)Google Scholar

97 Hanf (‘Ueber Guillaume de Machauts Voir Dit’, pp. 154 and 156) wondered if this Thomas was Peronne's brother ‘Th’; but Peronne is surely referring to Machaut's remarks about Paien. Since Eichelberg has corrected Paris's reading of Machaut's concluding anagram (Eichelberg, Dichtung und Wahrheit, pp. 28–30) we no longer know Peronne's surname. Although the wording of this sentence and the two preceding (… my brother … him … Thomas) are not entirely unambiguous, it seems highly improbable that Thomas [Paien] is Peronne's ‘Th’.

98 Paris's edition counts his line 6104 as 6704 and is 600 lines out thereafter. For ease of reference my numbering continues to follow his.

99 See note 101.

100 Beauvais is on the direct route to Rouen (cf. note 94 above) from both St Quentin and Reims. Ennemis was a common synonym for the compagnies (Contamine, ‘Les compagnies d'aventure’, p. 370).

101 Despite lines 6734–6 Machaut does not specifically mention, in this letter, sending the music and Peronne makes no mention of it in her reply. This becomes important in interpreting letter XLVI; and it may be in the light of letter XLVI that we should interpret his curious statement above (lines 6750–1) that the texts were made a long time ago. See note 126 below.

102 Letter XLVI contains a further warning of changes required by Peronne.

103 Machaut, however, continues to work on it during the coming estrangement.

104 In view of its contents this letter can only belong here (see also Eichelberg, , Dichtung und Wahrheit, pp. 45–7).Google Scholar The following narrative was constructed around the misplaced letters XL-XLII. The mistaken dating of XL and XLI (13 November) probably arose (as perhaps with XXXTV and XXXVI – see note 92 above) from their being kept by Machaut in a package with XXXIX. XLI must date from before St Andrew's day (30 November), XL from some time after Candlemas (2 February 1364).

105 Jean de Venette, without a date but between references to 30 November and 21 December, records that ‘The land and people of France meantime remained a prey to the oppression of robbers and to the dangers [of freebooters] described above’ (Chronicle, ed. Newhall, , p. 115)Google Scholar. Luce cites other contemporary documentation for the Parisians' fear of the Companies at this time (Luce, , Histoire de Bertrand du Guesdin, pp. 410–11).Google Scholar

106 According to the chroniclers this was an exceptionally severe winter, the worst in living memory. (Chronicle, ed. Newhall, , pp. 116 and 285, n. 48;Google Scholar see also p. 282 n. 28 for a similar description from the Chronique rouennais; Chronique des Quatre Premiers Valois, ed. Luce, Simeon (Paris, 1862), pp. 136–7;Google Scholar Delachenal, Histoire de Charles V, II, p. 356, n. 5.)

107 Paris suggests that this implies the Duke of Normandy (p. 307). Both Charles of Normandy and his father, Jean II, were in Paris at this time (Luce, Chroniques de Froissart, p. 98; Ordonnances, pp. 665–8).

108 Line 7616, ‘Ce fu droit en mois de novembre …’, refers back to the beginning of Machaut's unhappy confinement, and not to his return home from this lord. Although the biblical ‘40’ days of line 7570 need not be taken literally, the ‘3 weeks’ of line 7580 rings truer and, however approximate, can hardly refer to his trip in November. Hanf (‘Ueber Gudlaume de Machauts Voir Dit’, p. 170) makes the interesting point that Machaut must have been composing Le Voir Dit without referring back to what he had already written, since he says in line 7632 that Peronne's picture (at the time of writing) remains and will always stay in the chest where (at this point in the story – early 1364) he had hidden it. Yet later (lines 8192–4 – describing events of summer 1364) he takes it out again. Since on 16 June he writes that he's made nothing in her book since Easter it would appear that he managed to bring the narrative up to date during the first quarter of 1364. With letter XLII (16 June) he sent what he had written thus far to Peronne. Either because he had sent his only copy or because of the long break in work, he is likely simply to have forgotten what he had previously written.

109 Wrongly dated 13 November. See note 104.

110 Again, there were clearly letters and messages which Machaut did not include in Le Voir Dit (possibly at Peronne's request).

111 Because this narrative was written to precede letter XLI, rather than XLII which was his original response to XL, it misrepresents Machaut's actions, presenting them (deliberately or accidentally?) in a better light.

112 Written to follow letter XLI. The misordering works very much to Machaut's advantage here.

113 Although Machaut says nothing here of the coronation of Charles V in Reims Cathedral on 19 May 1364, the huge entourage of nobles and prelates who were in Reims for the ceremony must surely have again imposed on his hospitality. Possibly this rich man was one of them. There is a list of the chief guests in Delachenal, R., Chronique des Règnes de Jean II el de Charles V, II (Paris, 1916), pp. 25.Google Scholar

114 For possible confirmation of this claim see note 108 above.

115 This would have been since the last lull in the activities of the companies, in the summer of 1361 (Froissart, , Chronicles, ed. Luce, (1876), pp. 74–5).Google Scholar

116 In fairness to Machaut, it is possible that his message was the uncomplaining one advertised in lines 7689–96, and that his mistaken placing of letter XLI there reflects a vague memory that some such message was sent at that time.

117 Where B36 was placed (lines 7640–) there was no suggestion that Machaut sent it to Peronne. Her choice of words here (‘car iay veu une balade’ (A, f. 300r)) seems to confirm that she heard about it from another source.

118 Since she had Machaut's copy just before their estrangement (letter XXXIX) it is probable that some of the omitted messages implied earlier in this letter and in letter XL concerned the return to Machaut of ‘her book’.

119 10 October – the date of letter XLIII – was a Thursday in 1364, and Machaut probably received it early in the following week. If this visit really followed directly letter XLIII, the Monday ‘not a fortnighf’ from then would be the 28th. See note 120, however.

120 Unless letter XLIII took almost five months to arrive, there is an impossible discrepancy in dates here. Letter XLIV cannot date from the previous year, however, since the response to it, letter XLV, is dated 10 April and refers to Easter in the future. The only possible years are thus 1362, 1365 and 1367. Although we have seen errors in the dating of other letters, it seems more likely that letters are missing between letter XLIII and line 8540. This would help to explain the lack of continuity between letters XLIII and XLIV. See also note 121.

121 As is clear from letter XLV, Machaut's particular discomfort comes from her having sent to him that she had given his secretary some of the ‘jewels of her rich treasury’. No earlier letter from Peronne mentions this, confirming the suspicion that correspondence is missing before the start of this exchange (at line 8540).

122 Brownlee, Kevin (Poetic Identity in Guillaume de Machaut (Madison, 1984), p. 153)Google Scholar is surely right to suppose that the date is to be understood symbolically, and may therefore be inaccurate.

123 The activities of the freebooters around l'lle de France increased once again during 1365 Favier, Jean, La Guerre de Cent Ans (Paris, 1980), p. 304).Google Scholar

124 Letter XLV. Letter XLVI therefore responds to a more recent letter from Machaut, not included in Le Voir Dit. This may help to explain the gap between the 10 April date of letter XLV and the messenger's departure on 1 May (assuming that that date is not purely symbolic). He presumably took with him a second letter from Machaut on that occasion.

125 Peronne is very possibly responsible for some of the omissions noted above.

126 When Machaut sent the ‘2 balades’ Quant Theseus/Ne quier veoir with letter XXXVII he did not specifically mention sending the music (cf. note 101 above). His phraseology was not unlike that with which he held back the music of R17 (letter XXXIII, TEXTS 24 and 27). It is possible, then, that Peronne never saw it because, due to their estrangement, he had sent her nothing since. This seems more likely than that we are dealing with two new balades of which there is no other mention. Related to this may be the curious six lines preceding the texts (lines 6747–52), which could have been added in self-justification after Machaut received letter XLVI [TEXT 29].

Ne horns vivans tant fust mes amis / Nes avoit quant ie li tramis / Car pour elle estoit ia li fais / De ces. ij. dis lonc temps a fais / Or ay fait le chant ci present / Pour ce humblement li present.

No man living, however much my friend, / had it when I sent it her; / for the composition of these two texts was / already made for her a long time back. / Now I have made the music present here, / for which reason I humbly present it her.

Certainly ‘lone temps a’ is in direct contradiction of the preceding narrative.

127 The remarkable passage just before the end of the poem, in which Machaut plays with the sound of ‘cord’, was typically cut by Paris who includes only the first two lines (lines 9012–13). Brownlee (p. 155) transcribes the next sixteen from MS A; and the final couplet (hard to decipher in A,) with its apparently slighting reference to Peronne's dancing, may be found in Cerquiglini, ≪Un Engin si Soutil≫, p. 86.

128 On the anagram see Eichelberg, Dichtung und Wahrheit, pp. 28–30 and Cerquiglini, ibid., pp. 233–9. For a more general (and provocative) discussion see Laurence de Looze, ‘“Mon nom trouveras”: a New Look at the Anagrams of Guillaume de Machaut – the Enigmas, Responses, and Solutions’, Romanic Review, 79 (1988), 537–57.

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