Citation and Allusion in the Lays of Guillaume de Machaut

Publication Type:



School of Music, University of Washington, Volume PhD, Seattle, Washington, p.332 (2009)


Chaucer, citation, English reception, Froissart, Machaut


Since the fifteenth century, Guillaume de Machaut’s lays have been described as the finest examples of this most complicated musical and poetic form. This dissertation examines the role that poetic and musical borrowing and allusion plays within the lays as a subset of Machaut’s broader citational activity. Relationships with lyric and narrative poems by earlier authors are considered, as are cases of patterns of citation within Machaut’s own works.
Quotation, citation, allusion, and modeling provided the author methods of referring to pre-existing texts with varying degrees of specificity and attention to semantic content.
Chapter 1 considers Machaut’s use of the interpolated lays in one of the copies of the Roman de Fauvel as poetic and musical models that link him directly to compositional practices of the previous generation of French poets.
Chapter 2 considers the use of an allusion to the formulaic language of legal and scholastic debate in the context of Machaut’s narrative judgment poems.
In Chapter 3, Machaut’s use of material from earlier lays in the construction of the lyric lay inserted into his narrative poem, the Remede de Fortune, is examined.
In a period when lyric poetry frequently employed conventional vocabulary, Machaut’s re-use of common phrases occasionally suggests specific compositional patterns. This practice is considered in a series of case studies in Chapter 4.
Chapter 5 discusses the ways in which a single Machaut lay provided a source for quotation and allusion in Geoffrey Chaucer and Jean Froissart.