Machaut (Prelims) lecture 1

This page hosts the audio for the first of six Machaut ‘podlectures’ for Prelims (1st year exams) at Oxford, delivered in this form because of ongoing restrictions caused by the current pandemic. It also gives links to some further reading and things mentioned in the audio.

NB: These podlectures form only part of the Machaut special topic at Oxford, which is supplemented there by tutorials that demand extensive reading, essays, and presentations.

Lecture 1: Introducing Machaut

NB: links to the reading for Oxford students can be found via ORLO

See the discursive and documentary summary of Machaut’s life in:
• Earp, Lawrence. Guillaume de Machaut: A Guide to Research. New York: Garland, 1995, CHAPTER 1 ‘Biography of Guillaume de Machaut’.
For a more narrative account, see:
• Leach, Elizabeth Eva. Guillaume de Machaut: Secretary, Poet, Musician. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2011, CHAPTER 1, ‘Life: Guillaume de Machaut’s Living’.

On Machaut’s relationship with the city of Reims, see the different views of:

• Bowers, Roger. “Guillaume de Machaut and His Canonry of Reims, 1338-1377.” Early Music History 23 (2004): 1-48.


• Robertson, Anne Walters. Guillaume de Machaut and Reims: Context and Meaning in His Musical Works. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002, especially pp.33-34.


Machaut’s works are detailed in Earp 1995, CHAPTERS 5 (the narrative dits), 6 (the lyrics), and 7 (the music).

Use editions of any of the narrative dits with facing-page translations by Palmer, the Chichmaref edition of the lyrics, and the music as edited by Ludwig (or Schrade if you don’t like C-clefs). Full references are in the bibliography of Earp 1995. New editions of everything are in progress.


To fully understand the lecture, check you know what the following mean:

1. Ecclesiastical benefice
2. Prebend
3. Canonry (‘canonicate’, US)
4. expectative
5. Bull (as in, ‘papal bull’, not as in the male cow or the shorthand for B.S.!)
6. almoner
7. clerk
8. proxy
9. secretary (the closest to a description of a medieval secretary is that in the Wikipedia article about the French Chancery: see here)
10. familiar


Check you know who/what the following are:
1. Hundred years’ war
2. Philippe de Vitry (use Wiki page if you don’t have Oxford Music Online access)
3. John of Luxembourg (Jean de Luxembourg, King of Bohemia)
4. Charles II de Navarre (Charles, King of Navarre = ‘Charles the bad’)
5. John II of France (king)
6. Bonne of Luxembourg
7. John, duke of Berry (Jean de Berry)
8. Battle of Crécy 1346
9. Charles V of France (king)
10. The Great Mortality (aka the Black Death)

LINK TO LECTURE 2Machaut (Prelims) Lecture 2