Marian Devotion in Thirteenth-Century French Lyric

By Daniel E. O'Sullivan
Categories: Medieval Studies
Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division
Paperback : 9781487526238, 270 pages, August 2020

Table of contents


Introduction: Secular and Religious in Medieval Culture

Chapter 1: Gautier de Coinci's Marian Poetics of Familiar Strangeness

  • The Human and Divine in Harmony
  • 'Amours, qui bien set enchanter' (I Ch 3/RS 851)
  • 'Roÿne celestre' (I Ch 5/RS 956, 1903)
  • 'D'une amour quoie et serie' (II Ch 5/RS 1212)

Chapter 2: Thibaut de Champagne, Genre, and the Medieval Taste for Hybrids

  • Thibaut in the Line of Gautier
  • Thibaut's Hybridized Marian Songs
  • 'Commencerai a fere un lai': Genre and Aesthetic Play

Chapter 3: Voicing Marian Devotion in Women's Devotional Song

  • Songs in the Voice of Everywoman
  • Religious Women Voicing Marian Devotion
  • Mary's Voice: 'Lasse, que devendrai gié'

Chapter 4: Jacques de Cambrai, Distinctive Traditionalism, and Kaleidoscopic Contrafacta

  • Choices of Motif, Theme, and Model: The Case for Distinctive Traditionalism
  • Towards a Generative Model of Kaleidoscopic Contrafacture
  • Traditionalism, Innovation, and ';Retrowange novelle'
  • The Future of Old French Marian Song

Chapter 5: Rutebeuf: Beyond the World of Marian Song

  • Rutebeuf's Polemical Marian Poetry
  • Marian Devotion Dramatized
  • When Mary Intercedes: 'Un dist de Nostre Dame'

Conclusion: Contrafacture and Cultural Exchange

Appendix of textual and musical editions of songs and poems





Texts centred on the mother of Jesus abound in religious traditions the world over, but thirteenth-century Old French lyric stands apart, both because of the enormous size of the Marian cult in thirteenth-century France and the lack of critical attention the genre has garnered from scholars.

As hybrid texts, Old French Marian songs combine motifs from several genres and registers to articulate a devotional message. In this comprehensive and illuminating study, Daniel E. O’Sullivan examines the movement between secular and religious traditions in medieval culture that Old French religious song embodies. He demonstrates that Marian lyric was far more than a simple, mindless imitation of secular love song. On the contrary, Marian lyric participated in a dynamic interplay with the secular tradition that different composers shaped and reshaped in light of particular doctrinal and aesthetic concerns. It is a corpus that reveals itself to be far more malleable and supple than past readers have admitted.

With an extensive index of musical and textual editions of dozens of songs, Marian Devotion in Thirteenth-Century French Lyric brings a heretofore neglected genre to light.