Back to index
Upton, Elizabeth Randell

The Chantilly Codex (F-Ch 564): The Manuscript, Its Music, Its Scholarly Reception

Ph.D. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2001

This study explores the creation and subsequent history of the manuscript Chantilly, Musée Condé 564 (the "Chantilly Codex," hereinafter Ch), the central source for modern musicological understanding of late fourteenth-century music. Armed with new codicological information and informed by a thorough re-examination of scholarship on this source, I then discuss the musical style and cultural significance of a group of ballades transmitted by this source.

Chapter One narrates the discovery of this manuscript in the nineteenth century, and, based on archival documents from the Musée Condé, demonstrates how the historical and personal interests of its last private owner shaped and colored all later perception of its music.

Chapter Two investigates Ch as a physical object, providing a full codicological description and, in particular, distinguishing between temporal layers of activity. My reconstruction of the original copying sequence as well as that of later additions to the manuscript allows for greater accuracy in determining the significance of codicological evidence.

Chapter Three discusses musicological scholarship on this source in the twentieth century, focusing particularly on scholarly attempts to determine the origin of the manuscript and its music, to understand the nature of its musical style, and to place that style in the larger story of medieval music. Scholarship on this manuscript has been marred by misinformation and colored by a set of preconceptions dating back to the nineteenth century; I attempt to sort out what is useful from what is not.

Chapter Four discusses a group of eighteen ballades, most of which were written to honor identifiable historical figures from the fourteenth century. Long valued for the historical information they provide, these ballades are shown to provide insight into the aesthetics and cultural uses of music in later fourteenth-century courtly circles. Reinterpretation of the editing of these songs provides a radically new picture of musical style in this period, allowing for new understanding of the relationship between words and music in the later fourteenth century.

There are two appendices: the first provides transcriptions of the archival documents discussed in Chapter One; the second presents an updated inventory of the contents of Ch.