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date: 22 January 2020

Guillaume de Machautlocked

(b ?Reims, c. 1300; d ?April 13, 1377).
  • Rowan Watson

Extract

(b ?Reims, c. 1300; d ?April 13, 1377).

French composer and poet. He was the most prolific and inventive poet and composer of his day. His texts and manuscripts characterize the taste of the royal court in mid-14th-century France. From c. 1323 to 1346 he was in the service of John of Luxembourg, King of Bohemia, after which he served members of the French royal family, among them Jean, Duc de Berry. Despite a peripatetic career, Machaut’s chief home was in Reims, where he finally became a canon in 1337, and where the Dauphin, the future Charles V, had him sought from his house during a visit to the city in 1361.

Machaut’s autobiographical poem Voir-dit (1362–5) shows his working methods. In his mature years at least, he dictated work to a secretary and could call on the services of copyists. Mention of Machaut’s Livre où je met toutes mes choses in the poem appears to refer to a personal copy of his works, possibly partly in his own hand, that was unbound to facilitate copying, re-ordering, and further additions. Miniatures showing the poet writing upon a roll refer to another means by which he transmitted texts, particularly suited for performance or reading aloud....

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