Bayeux and Its Later Possessors
Manuscrit de Bayeux and ParisBNF 12744 are the only two extant French monophonic secular sources from around 1500. Beyond their exceptional nature, the two manuscripts share about one-third of the repertory they transmit, though more often than not with substantially divergent variants. And of course, one should not fail to mention that a bit less than a half of their chansons are also transmitted polyphonically, both in earlier and in later polyphonic manuscripts and prints. Whereas ParisBNF 12744 has recently earned itself the honor of an extensive monograph by Isabel Kraft —who incidentally also devotes a short chapter to our manuscript—Théodore Gérold’s dissertation on Bayeux, which also contains a transcription of the songs, goes back to 1921 and, though still very useful, is dated in many other respects. Bayeux measures 31 x 22 x 2 cm (without cover) or 3 cm (with cover) and apparently comprises 14 fascicles. It has a red morocco leather-bound cover—today protected by a folded light grey cardboard—with engraved golden filigree borders on both front and back; the inside covers are also engraved with symmetrical floral and leafy motifs, also identical for front and back. Figure 1: Bayeux, front cover, by courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France Bayeux, inside cover, by courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France
The cover was evidently added later, probably at the time of the codex’s acquisition by Antoine Moriau (1699–1759), procurator of King Louis XV at the Hôtel de Ville in Paris, when it formed part of his large library. The effected acquisition is shown by a seal with the Moriau coat of arms and the inscription EX BIBL•ANT•MORIAU PROC•ET ADV•REGIS ET URBIS on fols.
2r and 106v. Figure 3: Bayeux, fol. 2r, detail, by courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France
The fact that the Moriaus, a family of high officials for at least three generations at the time of Antoine, had a conspicuous interest in music, is revealed by the inventory compiled after the death of the latter’s father, Nicolas Guillaume (1664–1725), on May 28, 1725, which lists “a two-manual harpsichord resting on its blackwood stand, two bass viols, two violins” (“un clavecin à deux claviers posé sur son pied de bois noircy, deux basses de violle, deux viollons”), valued at 400
livres; on the other hand, the inventory of his daughter and Antoine’s sister Marie Catherine (1703–n/a), the wife of the maître des comptes (account manager) Luthier de Saint-Martin (n/a–1749), lists music books, among which are to be found “a trio by Corelli, six books for viol, and a harpsichord” (“Trio de Corelly, six livres de viole et clavecin”). Music books are also mentioned in the inventory after the death of Anne Thérèse (1714–58), another of Antoine’s sisters: item 147 of her library mentions “several music books worth one hundred and twenty pounds altogether” (“plusieurs livres de Musique prisés ensemble cent vingt livres”) without, unfortunately, giving any further details.
In his testament, Moriau bequeathed his library to the City of Paris, with the proviso that it be accessible to the public. In fact, this was to become the nucleus of Paris’s first municipal library.
In order to house his very substantial collection, in 1751 he had rented the prominent Hôtel de Lamoignon in the Marais, where he also moved, thus basically going to live with his books. In 1797 the municipal library with Moriau’s collection was moved to the Institut de France, located since 1805 in the former Collège Mazarin. The Institut de France preserves a catalog of Moriau’s library in twelve volumes compiled in 1763 (MSS 1388–99). The catalog is ordered by subject and lists about 14,000 prints (MSS 1388–97) and 2,000 manuscripts (MSS 1398–99). And in fact, MS 1399 contains the following entry on fol. 151r:
287. Songs and arias with music. A collection of songs with notated arias, written in gothic on vellum; with illuminated borders in fol. bound in calfskin.
What suggests that this is indeed our
chansonnier is the modern handwritten addition of ParisBNF 9346 in blue pencil on the right, the same hand and the same pencil which, probably in the 1950s or 1960s, also inscribed the shelf number on the first recto of the volume. This indirectly confirms that Bayeux was for some time part of the municipal library, before being alienated (likely during the French Revolution) and becoming, in 1820 or earlier, as Armand Gasté informs us, part of the personal collection of Édouard Lambert (1794–1870), librarian of Bayeux. Unfortunately, Gasté does not reveal the source of his knowledge, but on perusing Lambert’s scholarly essays, mostly devoted to local history, I recently stumbled upon a very interesting piece of information. In a footnote to an article on the Battle of Formigny published in 1824, Lambert indirectly states that he owns
a fifteenth-century manuscript … of small format, in fo., written on beautiful vellum, consisting of 105 leaves, containing one hundred and one unpublished songs, most of them about Normandy,
the first stanza of each of which is notated and surrounded by arabesques, turnings , and other ornamentations painted in gold and silver and decorated with the richest colors.
Lambert’s description is suggestive enough (see below for a detailed examination of the illumination), and the song he subsequently quotes in full (
Le Roy angloys se faisoit appeller) dispels any lingering doubts that he was really talking about Bayeux. Indeed, this chanson is to be found on fols. 89v–90r (no. 86) of our manuscript and refers to an episode of the battle between the French and the English that the scholar was discussing.
 In 1855, Lambert sold the manuscript to a private collector, but before too long it had changed hands again, since in 1861 it is apparently listed as item no. 3213 of the catalog for the auction of Félix Solar’s (1811–70) recently dispersed library. This library, including our manuscript, was subsequently partly bought by the Bibliothèque impériale.
The notice added after the entry, beyond describing the general features of the manuscript, giving an estimated dating to circa 1510, and suggesting its first owner (see below), also adds that “Dibdin speaks several times about this beautiful book, which he had coveted for Lord Spencer, during his trip to Normandy.” Unfortunately, the catalog’s annotator fails to provide any bibliographical backing of his statement, but “Dibdin” must have been the English bibliographer Thomas Frognall Dibdin (1776–1847), librarian to George John, 2nd Earl Spencer (1758–1834), who in 1818 undertook a tour of France and Germany in order to inspect and obtain bibliographical rarities for his employer, an avid book collector. In 1821, Dibdin published a rather anecdotal description of his expedition in three volumes, and this must be the source to which the annotator indirectly refers. Now, the only passages he might have thought of are those in which Dibdin, during his visit to Bayeux, mentions “an illuminated … MS. of the poetry of … OLIVIER BASSELIN,” which elsewhere is alluded to as “the desirable MS. of the vulgar poetry of OLIVIER BASSELIN.” This he had seen in the house of the “apothecary” and book collector “M. Pluquet,” to whom he paid a visit in the course of his book hunt. But Pluquet was probably not the original owner of the manuscript, since Dibdin’s interlocutor says that “it belonged to a common friend of us both.” If it is true that Bayeux does contain poems attributed to or centered on the figure of Olivier Basselin or Vasselin (1403–70), with one even mentioning his presumed death at the hands of the English (no. 40, fols. 40v–41r), it would be very strange if the fastidious Dibdin, who had the opportunity to see the manuscript for himself, had failed to mention that the “illuminated … MS.” was notated. However, Dibdin’s account was severely criticized shortly after its publication for its numerous errors and inaccuracies. In fact, already in 1825 there appeared a corrected and annotated French translation by Théodore Licquet (1787–1832), which in many places quite overtly attacked the original. But even Licquet does not mention any notation in the illuminated “Basselin” manuscript, though in a footnote he does note that the manuscript belongs to Lambert, which by 1824 must have surely been the case, as I noted above. In the case that Dibdin really did have the Manuscrit de Bayeux under his eyes, this would imply not only that the chansonnier was already in Bayeux in 1818 but that Lambert had probably received it, maybe as a gift, from M. Pluquet, who must be the erudite Frédéric Pluquet (1781–1831), a friend of Lambert. Bayeux’s Decoration
Like the other, partly related monophonic
chansonnier (ParisBNF 12744), Bayeux’s leaves are made of parchment. Some folios present the lower right-hand corner considerably more abraded, which might point to a more frequent page turn. But it is impossible to say whether these slight abrasions stem from the first or the successive owner of the manuscript.
The border decoration can only be found on each verso, that is, on the notated folio sides. The illumination is generally very uniform in style (strawberries, grapes, acanthus leaves, different kinds of flowers) though never exactly the same, and a winged stag girded around the neck with the motto ESPÉRANCE and sometimes placed on a rounded field of grass nearly always forms part of it, either squatting or standing, in the latter case with the right paw often lifted up.
Figure 4: Bayeux, fol. 1v, by courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France Figure 5: Bayeux, fol. 25v, by courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France
The belt with the motto ESPÉRANCE has been associated with the House of Bourbon since at least Louis II (1337–1410),
although the winged stag with said belt does not appear in the insignia of the Bourbons until Pierre II (1439–1503). The uniformity of the decoration is only interrupted on fol. 2v. Figure 6: Bayeux, fol. 2v, by courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France
The motifs here are similar, though executed in a completely different, much more refined style. The acanthus leaves are completely missing, and several finely drawn birds populate the flowers and leaves miniature, in addition to a butterfly or a moth at the upper edge and what seems to be a hare at the bottom. Even the stag—presented in its standing posture, although for lack of space only the extremity of the lifted right paw is visible—is drawn much more elegantly and slenderly, while the color hues give it a very effective three-dimensional feeling. Moreover, the border here is considerably thinner, especially its vertical frame, which measures about 3.4 cm, as opposed to the 4.7 cm of the rest of the manuscript. A consequence of this is that the decoration on fol. 2v leaves considerably more free space on the left, about 1.5 cm, in contrast to the few millimeters of the other versos. But since, as seems probable, text and music were entered, as in all other folios, before the illumination, it is unlikely that this page originated separately from the rest of the manuscript.
The stag was in all cases added after the floral decoration. This is shown by the fact that its figure fills, as gracefully as it can, the little space left unoccupied by the floral and geometrical patterns, being sometimes slightly drawn over them. Where the decoration leaves very little space, such as on fol.
94v, the stag is considerably smaller, whereas in three folios where no space has been allocated (fols. 61v, 77v, and 101v), it is completely absent. However, the similarity of its colors to those of the surrounding illumination, apart from the mostly darker hue of its fur, and a general style affinity, suggest that it did form part of the original design and was not inserted in the context of a repurposing of the manuscript. Figure 7: Bayeux, fol. 9v, detail, by courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France
 Françoise Ferrand tentatively attributes the decoration to the workshop of Jean Bourdichon (1457–1521), the royal manuscript illuminator from Tours, without, however, further clarifying her assumption.
But the few manuscripts with illuminated border decorations securely ascribed to him or his workshop, such as the extraordinary Grandes Heures (1503–1508) for Anne de Bretagne (1477–1514) Figure 8: Grandes Heures of Anne de Bretagne, fol. 20r, by courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France
or the fragments from the
Hours of Louis XII Figure 9: Hours of Louis XII, fol. 38r , . © British Library Board
are in a completely different style and depict plants and insects in a very realistic and sumptuous fashion.
More likely is rather the influence of the so-called School of Rouen, as proposed by Kraft: compare, for instance, the striking resemblance of the border decorations between fol. 14v of Bayeux and fol. 8r of OxfBB e.3, a book of hours from Rouen, in Normandy, from around 1500, particularly concerning the roughly rendered shading of the grapes, Figure 10: Bayeux, fol. 14v, by courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France; and OxfBB e.3, fol. 8r, by courtesy of Bodleian Library
or, perhaps, the even more striking similarity to another Norman book of hours (ParisA 1191), with nearly identical colors and shapes of the acanthus leaves, not to mention the geometric figures (fleur-de-lys, diamonds, chevrons, circles filled with flowers, oblique bands) occurring on many folios,
Figure 11: Bayeux, fol. 10v, by courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France Figure 12: ParisA 1191, fol. 24v, by courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France
the main difference being the much more luxurious execution of ParisA 1191, as evidenced, for instance, not only by the full-page miniatures but also by the use of gold for the geometric shapes. To be noted is also the presence of a fantastic creature (figure 12), which rests, as the stag in
Bayeux often does, on an oval-shaped field of grass placed in the middle of the floral decoration. This book of hours belonged to Louis de Roncherolles (n/a–1538), Baron of Heugueville and of Pont-Saint-Pierre, and must have been produced after his marriage to Françoise de Halluin or Halewijn in 1504, as shown by the initials of both enclosed in the border decoration of some folios: this dating brings it chronologically even closer to Bayeux, as we shall soon see. But there is another illuminated manuscript whose border decorations are even more reminiscent of Bayeux: this is ParisBNF 708-11, one of the several codices transmitting Vasque de Lucène’s (1435–1512) French translation of the Historia Alexandri Magni by Quintus Curtius Rufus, a Roman author of the first century. Figure 13: ParisBNF 708-11, fol. 1r, by courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France
According to Chrystèle Blondeau, the manuscript, which was split up into four parts after being acquired by Philippe de Béthune (1565–1649) for his library in the early seventeenth century, was probably commissioned by Jeanne de Bourbon-Vendôme (1465–1511), descendant of a cadet branch of the House of Bourbon.
The possible identification of the first owner of the manuscript is suggested by the presence of casually scattered red “I’s” and a genet within some of the border decorations (figure 13). These emblems indeed appear in Jeanne’s token ( jeton de compte) and her seal, respectively. The token, however, must have been produced after her marriage to Jean III de la Tour d’Auvergne (1467–1501) in 1495, since there the I’s appear in interlaced pairs. But in ParisBNF 708-11 this emblem only occurs in isolation, so it is possible that the manuscript was compiled either before her marriage to Jean or after the latter’s death in 1501. What might be adduced in favor of the later dating is the fact that the illustration bears stylistic resemblances to miniatures from the circle of Jean Pichore, a book illustrator documented in Paris between 1502 and 1520, or more precisely to the workshop of the so-called Master of Petrarch’s Triumphs. On the other hand, the similarity of the border decoration to Bayeux and therefore to the School of Rouen can be explained by the fact that the Master of Petrarch’s Triumphs participated in the decoration of several manuscripts executed at least partially in the Norman capital for the city’s archbishop Georges d’Amboise (1460–1510). To be sure, this kind of border decoration is not unique to Norman manuscripts and can sometimes also be witnessed in codices demonstrably prepared in Parisian workshops (such as LyonsBM 5154, ParisBNG 55, or ParisBNF 1847 ), but at least in the first two cases the execution has an entirely different, much more luxurious and sophisticated quality. It should also be considered that border decoration was sometimes carried out elsewhere than pictorial illumination and that it is precisely an artist from Rouen (known as the Maître de l’Échevinage de Rouen) who seems to have introduced this kind of “foliage scrolls” ornament resembling acanthus leaves at the end of the 1460s, a decoration typology characterizing Norman and Rouennais manuscripts up until the early sixteenth century. What is certainly striking is that at least three of the manuscripts mentioned above (ParisBNF 708-11, ParisBNG 55, and ParisBNF 1847) had belonged to or had been commissioned by different members of the Bourbon ducal family. Bayeux and the Grand Connétable
 The initials of the first sixteen songs of
Bayeux, forming the name CHARLES DE BOVRBON, point to Charles de Bourbon-Montpensier (1490–1527), the last Grand Constable of France. Admittedly, the constable’s first ownership of the chansonnier had been surmised well before the discovery of the acrostic, the conjecture being based on the partly incorrect identification of the winged stag as Charles’s personal insignia. Charles, of the cadet branch of the Montpensier, was born in 1490 and only became Duke of Bourbon in 1505, after his marriage to his cousin Suzanne (1491–1521), the daughter of his uncle Pierre (1438–1503) by Anne de France (or Anne de Beaujeu, 1461–1522), sister to King Charles VIII (1470–98). Consequently, it could only have been after 1505 that he could have styled himself “de Bourbon” and, probably, also had the means to commission a relatively luxurious chansonnier like Bayeux, given the rich inheritance of Suzanne. This incidentally rules out the theoretical possibility that Bayeux was a gift to Charles from his uncle Pierre, the first of the Bourbons to have used the winged stag as a personal emblem, as we have seen. This is because at the time Pierre died in 1503, Charles was still “only” Count of Montpensier, and Suzanne was still betrothed to Charles de Valois (1489–1525), Duke of Alençon, so Pierre could never have foreseen, let alone wished, that Charles de Montpensier would become his heir as Charles de Bourbon-Montpensier.
Vincent J. Pitts claims that the duke “would have marched under his great standard of yellow, white and tawny, adorned with the winged stag of the Bourbons and the motto
espérance inscribed in its corners” already in 1507, when, summoned by Louis XII (1462–1515) to participate in a campaign to suppress a revolt that had broken out in Genoa against the French rule, he raised a troop at his own expenses and joined the king in Lyons. Pitts’s source is the Vie du Connétable de Bourbon, written by Charles’s secretary and tutor Guillaume de Marillac (1460–1529) around 1521–22, but nowhere does Marillac describe the banners carried by the duke, and the scholar’s statement is thus only a conjecture. The Genoa campaign is related by Jehan Marot (1450–1526) in his Voyage de Gênes, with several full-page illuminations by Jean Bourdichon. In one of these (fol. 15v), the royal army is shown ready to depart from Alessandria, and the young duke can be recognized on the left edge thanks to the presence of the ESPÉRANCE belt on the harness of his horse and on his cuirass, but without the winged stag. While this absence may be due to a license on the part of the illuminator, or maybe just neglect, it should be observed that he takes extreme care to reproduce as realistically as he can all banners and coats of arms, so an omission just in the case of our duke would be very odd indeed. The first time that the winged stag is effectively documented in connection with Duke Charles is during a triumphal entry into Lyons in preparation for the Italian campaign of Francis I (1494–1547) held on July 12, 1515. The winged stag, surrounded by the ESPÉRANCE belt and mounted by an actor representing the duke, led a ship with other characters portraying the newly elected king and his family in a naval display on the river Saône. Notice, moreover, that the actor holds in his left hand a flaming sword, which, as we have seen before, was an emblem used by Charles II de Bourbon, the constable’s uncle and Archbishop of Lyons (see above). The image, in full color, may be seen in a manuscript now held at the Herzog-August-Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel (WolfExtr. 86.4) chronicling the solemnities for the entrée of Francis I. Figure 14: WolfExtr. 86.4, fol. 7v, by courtesy of Herzog-August-Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel
A green belt—the color of hope—around the neck of the animal is indeed visible but is partially covered by the arms of the Bourbons, which also presumably hide the ESPÉRANCE motto. That the motto was present is, however, implied by the description a few folios back, where it is said that “the flying deer with the hope motto of said constable represented his boldness and noble courage” (fol.
In consideration of all this, Kraft’s attractive suggestion of the manuscript’s connection with Charles’s months of hostage (between autumn 1502 and Easter 1503) in the company of three other young noblemen in Valenciennes—then Habsburg territory—as a pawn for Philip the Fair (1482–1506) and his wife Joan of Castile (1479–1555) during their passage through France in the same period becomes untenable.
This hypothesis becomes even more problematic if we consider that neither the inventory of the Bourbons’ library in Aigueperse compiled for Charles’s wife Suzanne in 1507 nor the one prepared for the library in Moulins in 1523 by the king’s procurators following the confiscation of the Bourbons’ properties seems to make any mention of our manuscript, although both inventories do list books of poetry. The 1507 inventory has “the book of the hundred ballades, handwritten, on paper, covered in parchment” (“le livre des cent ballades , escript à la main, en pappier , couvert en parchemyn,” item 66), “the book of ballades and complaintes, handwritten, on paper, covered in parchment” (“le livre des ballades et complainctes , à la main, en pappier , couvert de parchemyn,” item 76), and “another book of ballades, on paper, written in shape [?] and covered in red leather” (“ ung autre livre de ballades en pappier , escript en fourme , et couvertz de cuyr rouge,” item 147), whereas the 1523 inventory lists “a volume having one hundred ballades, several lais and virelais, rondeaux, jeux à vendre, the Espitre au dieu d’Amours, the Débat des deux amans, the Troys jugemens, the Dit de Poissy, the letters on the Roman de la Rose, in parchment, handwritten” (“ Ung volume où a cent ballades, pluseurs laiz et virelaiz, rondeaux, Jeux à vendre, l’Espitre au dieu d’Amours, le Débat des deux amans, Les Troys jugemens, Le Dit de Poissy, les Espitres sur le rommant de la Roze , en parchemin , à la main,” item 310). While item 310 of the 1523 inventory might be a more detailed description of item 66 of the previous inventory, it is evident that none of these books corresponds to our chansonnier. That Bayeux had not been overlooked is indirectly confirmed by its absence from a catalog of the manuscripts owned by Louis II de Bourbon-Condé (1621–86; known as the “Grand Condé”) that the prince had ordered to be made for him after the manuscripts not confiscated by Francis I in 1523, and having thus remained in the castle at Moulins, had been integrated into the Grand Condé’s personal library at Chantilly.
 In the face of this evidence, one might surmise that
Bayeux was copied after 1507 and disappeared before 1523, as the Duke made preparations for his flight later that year. The “Field of the Cloth of Gold” near Calais, where, between June 7 and 24, 1520, Henry VIII (1491–1547) and Francis I officially met to improve the strained relationships between England and France, should, however, be considered a terminus post quem non for the copying of the chansonnier. The unprecedented pageantry displayed at this event might well have provided the opportunity to perform some of the chansons transmitted in Bayeux, all the more so because Charles, as Constable of France, “played the ceremonial role expected” of him, and that most magnificently. Be that as it may, one need not surmise so late a compilation for the manuscript. Yet if Charles really was its sponsor, he could only have commissioned it in a period of his short life long enough as to not be involved in some military campaign. After 1507 and before 1523, this could have been between the end of the campaign to recapture Genoa (1507) and the Battle of Agnadello against Venice (1509), between the end of Louis XII’s second Italian campaign (1510) and Bourbon’s appointment as co-commander in the defense of Guyenne from the threatening joint Spanish and English forces (1512), or between 1516 and 1521, that is, after Francis I’s puzzling recall of Charles from the defense of his newly acquired Milanese domains and the beginning of the royal lawsuit—instigated by the king’s mother, Louise de Savoie (1476–1531)—against the duke following the death of Suzanne in 1521.
Paule Chaillon noted, more than half a century ago, the seeming resemblance of some of the initials in
Bayeux to those in LonBLH 5242, the so-called Chansonnier of Françoise de Foix, Figure 15: Bayeux, fol. 103v, detail, by courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France; and Harley ( LonBLH) 5242 fol. 20r , detail, . © British Library Board
not to mention, of course, the repertorial overlapping between the two sources.
According to her, LonBLH 5242 must have been compiled between 1509, when Françoise (1495–1537) was given in marriage by her cousin Queen Anne de Bretagne to Jean de Laval-Montmorency (1486–1543), Lord of Châteaubriant, and 1514, when Anne, to whom at least two songs seem to refer, died. Moreover, she lent credence to a rumor that Françoise had been Bourbon’s mistress, even advancing the hypothesis that LonBLH 5242 may have been his gift to her. This chronology was, however, implicitly questioned a few years ago by the late Frank Dobbins. One of his main arguments was his belief that the text of the chanson referring to Anne’s motto, the rondeau “Non mudera ma constance et firmesse” —which is twice set to music in the manuscript—had been written upon or after the death of the queen (1514). In fact, at the corresponding entry in his table of concordances, Dobbins specifies Rondeau de F. Robertet sur la devise de la feu Royne. As this tag does not appear either in the LonBLH 5242 transmission of the song or, obviously, in its contrafactum, contained in RISM 1542 8, it is unclear where Dobbins took it from. It is, however, likely that he referred to the article by Paule Chaillon cited above, where the scholar indicated that the rondeau was transmitted in the text anthology ParisBNF 1717 together with two other similar poems attributed to François Robertet (n/a–1524/30) and preceded by the heading Ensuivent trois rondeaulx faictz sur la devise de la feue Royne Anne de Bretaigne (fols. 12v–13r). This, however, should be taken not necessarily to imply that the poem was composed after or even upon Anne’s death but merely to indicate that the queen was dead at the time the rondeau was inscribed into this largely retrospective sixteenth-century anthology. It should also be added that François Robertet had held several administrative offices within the Bourbon household since at least 1492, in 1516 even becoming “auditor of the Duchess of Bourbon’s accounts,” which may be significant for postulating some sort of link between the “chansonnier de Françoise” and Bayeux.
But the story cited above of an affair between the Duke of Bourbon and Françoise de Foix (1495–1537) must be considered, in the absence of irrefutable documentary evidence, to be little more than court gossip, and it is impossible to say where Lebey took it from. Moreover, Françoise left the court of her sponsor, Queen Anne de Bretagne, soon after her betrothal to Jean de Laval in 1506, apparently going to live, at just 11 years of age, with her future husband in the castle of Châteaubriant, so it is difficult to imagine how Charles de Bourbon could have possibly met her. In fact, it is far more likely that LonBLH 5242 was a gift of Queen Anne to her
protégée, maybe even on the occasion of her marriage in 1509: apart from the internal references considered above, one should note the repertorial “concordances” with CambriP 1760, a mixed manuscript which, though probably put together for Mary Tudor (1496–1533) shortly before her marriage to Louis XII in late 1514, contains repertory which had been current in the French court under Louis and Anne.
 Dobbins’s other contention was his conviction that LonBLH 5242 and several of its texts might be linked to the liaison of Françoise de Foix with the new King Francis I, which would of course automatically shift its compilation to after 1515. However, there is nothing in the texts or in the decoration to point to a specific liaison on the part of the dedicatee, and the suggested “dangerous affair between a young knight and a lady married to a jealous man” (“liaison dangereuse entre un jeune chevalier et une dame mariée à un homme jaloux”)
is in fact quite generic. At most, it is only the second verse of En despit des faulx mesdisans, which, having the unique “La françoyse sera m’amye” instead of “J’avois aquis une amye,” might suggest that Françoise de Foix was the recipient of an amorous message, but even this is not proof enough that King Francis was the originator of this change. Rather, the fact that the only ascription in the manuscript is to Antoine de Févin (1470–1511/12; Je le lairray , puisqu’il me bat, fols. 5v–6r), a composer who died in 1512 and was particularly linked to the court of Louis XII and Anne de Bretagne, but also the kind of repertory on the whole would serve rather to weaken than to strengthen a connection with the following king. All in all, then, Chaillon’s chronology for LonBLH 5242 still seems more likely, if not conclusive. On the other hand, the similarity she noted between its initials and some of those in Bayeux seems rather vague and may have been suggested to her by the common “floral” and “leafy” motif, though the execution is rather dissimilar. Moreover, it is clear that the scribes of both words and music are not the same. This is particularly noticeable in the concordances and is shown not only by the writing “style” but also, among other things, by some verse variants: see, for instance, the curious spelling “saincte Gemme” in LonBLH 5242 for the rather more plausible “sainct Jame” in Bayeux in the second stanza of Celle qui m’a d emandé; Vray dieu , qui me confortera, common to both ParisBNF 12744 and LonBLH 5242 or even BrusBR 11239, as opposed to Hé dieu , qui me confortera in Bayeux; or the third verse of Je le lesray , puis qu’il my bat, which has the unique “Lordoux vieillart, mal engrongné” in place of “Et l’ort villain, mal engroingné,” to quote just a few.
Of the three chronological windows surmised above, either the one between 1510 and 1512 or that between 1516 and 1521 is therefore the most probable for the commission of
Bayeux. If the former is nearly coeval with the dating proposed by Chaillon for LonBLH 5242, a compilation around or after 1516 seems, on the other hand, to be supported by events in the biography of the duke himself. As I noted above, its border decoration bears a remarkable similarity to illuminated manuscripts of the so-called School of Rouen. If it is true that Rouen and Normandy hardly played a role at all in the life of the Grand Connétable, one should note that in 1516 Bourbon accompanied Francis I to Normandy on a visit “to the Norman estates of Louis de Brézé, a mutual friend and grand seneschal of Normandy.” In this respect, the chanson Très doulx penser dieu te pourvoye on fols. 58v–59r mentions in its second and last stanza a Noble sénéchal de Norm e ndie:
Très doulx pencer dieu te pourvoye,
Car celle à mon désir j’avoye,
Car je suis si d’amours actaintz,
Prochain du cuer, des yeulx loingtainctz,
Plain de Regretz, vuide de joye.
Noble sénéchal de Normendie,
Dieu vous doinct honneur et bonne vie!
Nous vous aymons dormant, veillant
Comme nostre loyal amant.
Chantons trèstous à Joye Ravye!
This supplementary stanza has nothing whatsoever to do with the rather conventional love topic of the first stanza, is unique to
Bayeux, and seems to have been added on purpose, though no later than the compilation of the source, as shown by the identical script and ink color. Louis de Brézé was indirectly related to the duke by way of his wife, the later mistress of Henri II “Diane de Poitiers, daughter of Bourbon’s friend and cousin Jean de Poitiers, lord of St. Vallier, … the Brézés [having] been married at the hotel de Bourbon in Paris in the spring of 1515.” It is thus likely that the additional stanza paid a “jocose” homage to Charles’s host in Normandy, indirectly pointing to a very precise dating for the compilation of the source, 1516 being, moreover, very close to Charles’s first recorded public display of the winged stag, as noted above.
In July 1517, the duke was again in Normandy, in order to accompany the king during his official entry in Rouen, spending several days in the Norman capital feasting and making merry:
a perfect occasion indeed to hear some of the “Norman” songs to be found in “his” chansonnier. In fact, he only took leave of the king because he was notified that his wife was in travail, so he hurried back to his domains in the Bourbonnais. And the birth of his firstborn son, whose godfather was to be the king himself, provided another occasion for nearly two weeks of feasting and jousting. Hence it is clear that even after the king’s sudden recall of Bourbon from Italy in 1516 and the latter’s subsequent marginalization from active politics, the duke still regularly visited king and court and took part in many ceremonial events until at least 1521, when Louise de Savoie filed the royal lawsuit which initiated the process eventually leading to his fall and disgrace.
 Given the patent absence of
Bayeux from both inventories of the Bourbons’ library at Moulins, and especially from the one ordered by Francis after its confiscation in 1523 (see above), it is also possible that the chansonnier never made it to its probable patron. However, it also never became part of the Bibliothèque royale, as shown by the absence of any royal seal. Moreover, if Bayeux had ever become at some point the property of the king, he would no doubt have changed or erased the winged stag as an act of damnatio memoriae of Charles and his family. It is true that on some folios it does appear slightly smudged (see, for instance, fols. 103v or 104v), Figure 16: Bayeux, fol. 103v, by courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France
but this hardly looks like a systematic attempt at erasing the emblem, as Isabel Kraft surmises,
all the more so as it happens almost at the very end of the manuscript, when one would rather expect that if any such act had been undertaken at all then perhaps starting at the beginning. So, if the chansonnier reached neither its supposed patron nor the king, one has to wonder what its destiny was before its acquisition by Antoine Moriau in the early eighteenth century. Could it have become the property of Louis de Brézé (1463–1531), to whom, as we have seen, one of the songs might refer? In this case it would have passed to his young widow Diane de Poitiers after his death in 1531, whose library at the Castle of Anet comprised 171 parchment manuscripts. In 1724, one year after the death of Anne de Bavière, Princesse de Condé (1648–1723), who had inherited the castle from her daughter, Marie-Anne de Bourbon-Condé, Duchesse de Vendôme (1678–1718) after the latter’s death, the library was going to be auctioned off. To this effect a catalog was prepared by the bookseller Pierre Gandouin, who had been charged with the sale. Unfortunately though, the precious collection failed to attract any buyer, so in the end it was simply dispersed. Though probably not complete, the catalog does not mention any illuminated musical manuscripts. Yet it should be mentioned that, according to François Avril, former curator of the département des manuscrits of the Bibliothèque nationale de France, none of the manuscripts dispersed in 1724 had ever belonged to Diane. Avril in fact is convinced that Diane’s manuscripts left the castle probably before the property was inherited by the Vendôme in the early seventeenth century. This of course makes it impossible to establish whether Bayeux ever formed part of the Castle of Anet’s library. But if the chansonnier really originated in Normandy, then it might seem at the very least curious that it ended up there again around 1820 or earlier, after being in Paris for a century or more. Some Final Considerations
An origin around 1516 makes
Bayeux in most cases later than or, at most, contemporary with its concordant polyphonic chansonniers, thus raising at least the possibility that in some cases the polyphonic versions of the songs transmitted were the sources from which the main melody-carrying parts were extracted or, more likely, that polyphonic and monophonic versions of the songs circulated independently of each other. Incidentally, one cannot fail to notice the closeness of the song variants transmitted in Bayeux to the two French polyphonic chansonniers LonBLH 5242 and CambriP 1760, a relatedness which in some cases is even more pronounced than that between the latter and ParisBNF 12744. Also, in this case one need not think of a direct filiation from one source or sources to the other, in this case from LonBLH 5242 and CambriP 1760, especially if Bayeux, as it seems, was copied in Normandy. Indeed, this melodic proximity may simply be due to the songs’ circulation within the royal orbit or, in some cases, to their sheer popularity, a popularity additionally substantiated by the citation of some of these songs in theatrical farces performed in the very first decades of the sixteenth century. Additionally, one should also consider the likelihood that “monophonic songs were probably transmitted in most cases orally rather than in written form.” This should not be surprising, considering the liveliness of orality and memorial culture in late medieval Europe.
Touching on orality, one may note that many though not all of the songs transmitted by both monophonic
chansonniers are of a “popular” or “popularizing” nature. This has less to do with the supposed social provenance of the authors of these anonymous compositions than with the relatively “light” and narrative character of many of the poems, together with the rarity within them of the formes fixes of courtly tradition. Of these only the virelai occurs with some frequency, and even when it does it often presents some irregularities in its form, like supernumerary verses and a lack of metrical and/or musical differentiation between refrain and couplets. Contemporary literary theorists such as Jean Molinet would have called this kind of secular composition chanson rurale. But the monophonic chansonniers also transmit numerous courtly songs, at least judging from the character of their texts, so it would be wrong to equate monophony too strictly with “popular song” or chanson rurale. Even the fact that quite a few of these songs are cited in contemporary farcical plays of the Paris area may have less to do with their “popular” or “bourgeois” origin than with their widespread diffusion, especially in northern France. And in any case their very presence in such luxurious and carefully copied manuscripts betrays a reception well beyond the realm of the menu peuple, testifying to a certain vogue for this kind of composition within the upper echelons of late medieval society.
 One should also consider that a
chansonnier is much more than just a repository of songs reflecting the tastes of the person or persons who may have commissioned it. In fact, it should also be regarded as a kind of snapshot capturing the circulation of a given secular musical repertory in the context of a specific cultural milieu. Particularly revealing in this respect are variants of songs common to Bayeux and ParisBNF 12744. These involve not just distinctly different melodic profiles but also the use of idiosyncratic end-of-verse melismas, which in Bayeux recur over and over again in many different songs and which in these forms are almost totally absent in ParisBNF 12744. However, these melismas and other notational peculiarities also occur in polyphonic arrangements of the songs in the near contemporary or, probably, slightly earlier Parisian chansonniers LonBLH 5242 and CambriP 1760. This suggests a line of transmission going well beyond specific geographic localities and involving instead a common cultural background. Moreover, melismas and other formulas may even record lines of performing tradition. On the other hand, while it would be wrong to deem these variants and melismatic formulas specifically “Norman” or even specifically “Parisian,” their systematic recurrence in many songs of our chansonnier does invite us to regard this source not just as a loose collection of monophonic songs but as an “organically” conceived and carefully planned music and poetry book. Indeed, the high degree of codification and internal cogency of Bayeux, highlighting a definite aspiration to preserve a distinct, in some cases even outdated repertory arranged according to a specific practice, merits a much closer investigation of this manuscript, not just because of its polyphonic concordances but also for its own intrinsic value.
With regard to both monophonic
chansonniers—ParisBNF 12744 and Bayeux—it is symptomatic that until very recently they attracted scholarly attention largely on account of the contemporary, earlier, or later polyphonic transmission of many of their songs rather than on their own terms. This led to the disregard of the many songs—about half—without a known polyphonic variant or “counterpart.” Indeed, it is even possible that the very existence of such a substantial corpus of monophonic songs transmitted in two relatively luxurious manuscripts around 1500 caused considerable discomfort in some scholars: after all, this was “the age of polyphony” par excellence! That being said, we can learn a great deal if we view monophonic song composition as a constituent part of the intricate web of polyphonic song transmission. This may even help us to understand whether anything substantial sets monophonic songs with a documented polyphonic transmission apart from those without one. But in all cases, it is apparent that we should see the forms that a song takes on—its variants, be they monophonic or polyphonic—as intertextual transformations of a musico-poetical entity across different, sometimes even contrasting cultural and historical circumstances, whose nature may be revealed most conspicuously by their carriers, the single sources themselves. And it is nowadays no longer open to debate that the meaning of each source is largely dependent on the “social, cultural, and intellectual world in which” it was drawn up. Appendix: Sources and Sigla Manuscripts Bayeux: Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des manuscrits, Français 9346. BrusBR 11239: Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale Albert 1 er / Koninklijke Bibliotheek Albert I, MS. 11239. CambriP 1760: Cambridge, Magdalene College, MS. 1760. CopKB 1848: Copenhagen, Det Kongelige Bibliotek, MS. Ny kongelige Samling 1848, 2°. Grandes Heures: Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des manuscrits, Latin 9474. Hours of Louis XII: London, British Library, Royal D XL.
LonBLH 5242: London, British Library, Harley 5242.
LonBLL 380: London, British Library, Lansdowne 380.
LyonsBM 5154: Lyons, Bibliothèque municipale, MS. 5154. OxfBB e.3: Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS. Buchanan e. 3. ParisA 1191: Paris, Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, 1191. ParisBNF 708-11: Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des manuscrits, Français 708-11. ParisBNF 1717: Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des manuscrits, Français 1717. ParisBNF 1847: Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des manuscrits, Français 1847. ParisBNF 12744: Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des manuscrits, Français 12744. ParisBNF 24461: Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des manuscrits, Français 24461. ParisBNG 55: Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des manuscrits, Grec 55. Voyage de Gênes: Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des manuscrits, Français 5091. WolfExtr. 86.4: Wolfenbüttel, Herzog-August-Bibliothek, Cod. Extr. 86.4. Prints RISM 1542: Tricinia: tum veterum tum recentiorum in arte musica symphonistarum latina, germanica, brabantica & gallica ante hac typis nuncquam excusa observato in disponendo tonorum ordine quo utentibus sint accomodatiora (Wittenberg: Georg Rhau, 1542). 8