handout: Guillaume de Machaut Noelle Chamorro, September 19, 2000 Guillaume de Machaut (1300-1377) Born to commoners, Machaut came from humble origins in the Champagne -Ardenne region of Northern France. He was educated in theology and letters with a master of arts degree. He became almoner (secretary) to Jean of Luxembourg, King of Bohemia, in 1323. Machaut married Jean of Luxembourg s daughter, Bonne. His duties as almoner included accompanying the king on his crusades. This experience gave Machaut valuable traveling opportunities.
Machaut was famous for his musical compositions and his poetry. Poetry and Courtly Love Machaut was recognized for his poems on courtly love. He analyzed the social morals, philosophy, and psychology of the concept of fin a mors, otherwise known as love for love s sake. One of his early works was Le Judgement dou Roy de Behaingne (The Judgment of the King of Bohemia. This poem established him as an important and influential poet. It became known as one of the Judgment poems, one of three of Machaut s poems that have symmetrical styles and plots.
Machaut s influence on Geoeffry Chaucer Chaucer was greatly inspired by Machaut s works. Chaucer s The Book of the Duchess has many similarities to Machaut s works, especially The Judgment of the King of Bohemia. Despite differences in the introduction s, Chaucer s The Book of the Duchess is similar to Machaut s work in mode, form, and detail. The similarities are evident because of the authors common interest in courtly love and their portrayals of this concept in their poetry.
According to James I. Wimsatt in his book Chaucer and His French Contemporaries, Machaut was a great artist: without conceit he himself knew it, his French colleagues and patrons knew it, and Chaucer knew it. The preservation of his verse an music in magnificent manuscripts, the dissemination of his work throughout Europe, and his decisive influence on subsequent generations of writers and composers testifies to his greatness (Wimsatt 77). Guillaume de Machaut s greatest importance probably results from his influence on Chaucer s works. Sources The Encyclopedia Brittania. 12 th ed.
Guillaume de Machaut. Wimsatt, James. Chaucer and the French Love Poets. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1968. Wimsatt, James. Chaucer and His French Contemporaries.
Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991.