1st Edition

The Malmariée in the Thirteenth-Century Motet

By Dolores Pesce Copyright 2023
    180 Pages 13 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    180 Pages 13 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This monograph offers a comprehensive study of the topos of the malmariée or the unhappily married woman within the thirteenth-century motet repertory, a vocal genre characterized by several different texts sounding simultaneously over a foundational Latin chant. Part I examines the malmariée motets from three vantage points: (1) in light of contemporaneous canonist views on marriage; (2) to what degree the French malmariée texts in the upper voices treat the messages inherent in the underlying Latin chant through parody and/or allegory; and (3) interactions among upper-voice texts that invite additional interpretations focused on gender issues.

    Part II investigates the transmission profile of the motets, as well as of their refrains, revealing not only intertextual refrain usage between the motets and other genres, but also a significant number of shared refrains between malmariée motets and other motets. Part II furthermore offers insights on the chronology of composition within a given intertextual refrain nexus, and examines how a refrain’s meaning can change in a new context. Finally, based on the transmission profile, Part II argues for a lively interest in the topos in the 1270s and 1280s, both through composition of new motets and compilation of earlier ones, with Paris and Arras playing a prominent role.

    List of Music Examples

    List of Manuscripts

    List of Abbreviations


    Other Abbreviations


    Marriage: Mutual Consent and Marital Debt

    Portrayals of Marriage in Literature and Song

    Part I. Malmariée Motets in Relationship to Their Tenors

    1 Paschal Season Liturgy

    2 Assumption Liturgy

    3 Other Liturgical Tenors

    4 French Tenors and French Text Only

    Part II. Malmariée Motet Refrains within an Intertextual Nexus

    5 Motet Refrains Shared with Other Genres

    With a Song and a Romance or Narrative Poem

    With One or More Songs

    With a Narrative Poem

    Concluding Remarks

    6 Motet Refrains Shared with Other Motets

    Mo 6, 233 

    Mo 5, 148

    Mo 2, 23 and Mo 5, 142

    Mo 2, 30



    Transmission and Intertextuality

    Appendix A: Tables 1–7

    Appendix B: Texts and Translations of Motets 60, 62, and 67 from MS N(mo)


    Index of Compositions

    General Index


    Dolores Pesce is Avis Blewett Professor of Music at Washington University in St. Louis, specializing in music of the Middle Ages and the late nineteenth century. Her books include The Affinities and Medieval Transposition; Hearing the Motet: Essays on the Motet of the Middle Ages and Renaissance; Guido d’Arezzo’s Regule rithmice, Prologus in antiphonarium, and Epistola ad Michahelem: A Critical Text and Translation; and Liszt’s Final Decade.