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Vitry, Philippe de [Vitriaco, Vittriaco]free

  • Margaret Bent
  •  and Andrew Wathey

(b ?Champagne, 31 Oct 1291; d 9 June 1361). French composer, theorist, and bishop.

1. Life, position, reputation; literary works.

The early career of Philippe de Vitry remains obscure: he is often styled ‘magister’, but there is no direct evidence either that he studied at the University of Paris (though some contact with its members seems likely) or that he held the degree of magister artium (he is called ‘master of music’ in F-Pn lat.7378A). Vitry is first documented in 1321, when he was presented to a canonry with the expectation of a prebend at Cambrai; in the event no vacancy occurred and Vitry dropped his claim to this position between 1327 and 1332. He may, however, already have been a canon of the collegiate church of Notre Dame in Clermont-en-Beauvais, the family church of the counts of Clermont; he certainly held this position by August 1322, probably acquiring it through the patronage of Louis de Bourbon, Count of Clermont, with whom he was closely linked, as clerk, administrator, and diplomat, over the next 20 years. A connection with Louis de Bourbon may originate before 1320, providing perhaps the context for any role that Vitry may have taken in the compilation of the interpolated roman de Fauvel (Watney, 1995; Fauvel Studies, 1998).

Vitry served as Louis’s representative at the papal curia in Avignon in 1327, as a witness to several of his charters, and as the principal clerical executor of his will in 1342 (Watney, 1995). After Louis was created Duke of Bourbon in 1327, Vitry also acted as his representative in the French royal chancery, holding the title of royal notaire by 1328. Until shortly before the duke’s death in 1342, however, Vitry was not especially active in royal service and despite receiving a fee from the French king, Philippe VI, he was concerned almost exclusively with the duke’s own business (though it is likely that he worked mainly in Paris and enjoyed good access to the royal court). From 1340, however, he held senior positions in the royal administration, as maître in the Requêtes du Palais (a specialized jurisdiction within the Parlement of Paris), and from 1344 in the Requêtes de l’Hôtel (which tried legal cases within the royal household). Vitry was present with the army led by Philippe VI’s eldest son, Jean, Duke of Normandy, at the siege of Aiguillon from April to August 1346 and, shortly after Jean was crowned king in 1350, acted as his representative at Avignon. With royal backing, Vitry was appointed Bishop of Meaux on 3 January 1351, holding this post until his death. This was the last of numerous ecclesiastical preferments that Vitry received, of which several were apparently the result of Bourbon patronage. In addition to his first canonry at Clermont, which he held at least until he became Bishop of Meaux, his most important appointments were to cathedral canonries at Verdun (by 1327) and Soissons (by 1332), and to the archdeaconry of Brie in the diocese of Soissons (1333). He also held canonries in the cathedrals of Beauvais and Paris, and in collegiate churches at Saint Omer, Saint Quentin, Amiens, Vertus (St Jean), and Paris (St Merry); in addition, he was nominated, apparently without result, to expectative benefices at Aire, Cambrai (St Géry), and Châlons-sur-Marne.

The vigorous role in French politics played by Louis de Clermont made its mark on Vitry’s own career and on his literary and musical output. Louis’s presence in the royal and princely circles in which the interpolated Roman de Fauvel (F-Pn fr.146) was created may provide a route whereby motets by Vitry were included in this collection. Similarly, the lifelong interest taken by Louis in the French kings’ crusading plans provides a context for Vitry’s motet O canenda/Rex quem/Rex regum, praising the crusade leader Robert, King of Sicily and Jerusalem (d 1343). It more directly underlies Vitry’s most substantial literary work, the 1148-line verse allegory Le chapel des trois fleurs de lis, written in 1335 and incorporating passages translated from Vegetius’s De re militari, in support of the crusade in general, and more particularly of a cancelled expedition to Anatolia and the Holy Land under the leadership of Louis, Duke of Bourbon. A 32-line verse pastoral by Vitry, Le dit du franc Gontier, was widely circulated in the 15th century and provoked responses from Pierre d’Ailly (1351–1420) and an elaborate parody in François Villon’s Contredit (1461). A satirical ballade without music, De terre en grec Gaulle appellee (?1337–8), and Vitry’s part (the sentencia judiciis) of a jeu-parti, Ulixea fulgens facundia, written with Jean de Savoie (d 1353) and Jean de le Mote, survive in an important 15th-century literary collection (F-Pn lat.3343) that also includes the triplum text of Vitry’s motet for Pope Clement VI (see below).

Vitry’s involvements in Anglo-French relations are similarly reflected in his works, and were probably also the product of Bourbon and royal patronage. He possibly accompanied the duke to London in March 1331, and in the following month he was present at Pont-Sainte-Maxence when Edward III did homage to Philippe VI for Gascony and Ponthieu. Comment on England in his poetic output, however, almost certainly dates from after the outbreak of hostilities with England in 1337. The triplum of Phi millies/O Creator/Iacet granum/Quam sufflabit, for which no music survives, calls for an end to English perfidy (‘et cessabit horum perfidis, nec plus erit hoc nomen: Anglia’) and the salvation of the French nation. The ballade De terre en grec Gaulle appellee styles England ‘de Dieu maudite’. Vitry may also be the author of an episode describing the treachery of Edward I in 1301 that he copied into his copy of Guillaume de Nangis’s Chronicon; in the same manuscript Vitry commented on the danger posed to Paris by the English in 1346 (Watney, 1992, 1998).

It was perhaps through Louis that Vitry first forged his contacts with the papal curia. Vitry was in Avignon in 1327, ?1334, 1342, 1344, and 1349–50, and enjoyed the particular support of Pierre Roger, Archbishop of Rouen, elected Pope Clement VI in 1342, and of Cardinal Guy de Boulogne. His motet Petre clemens/Lugentium siccentur/Non est inventus, written at Christmas 1342 for the visit early in 1343 of the Roman ambassadors to Avignon, supports Clement VI in his dispute with the Holy Roman Emperor over the proper seat of the papacy (Avignon versus Rome) (Watney, 1993). Alongside Paris, the papal court at Avignon emerges as a major focal point in Vitry’s network of political and intellectual contacts. It was probably there, perhaps in the 1320s, that Vitry first encountered Petrarch. He may have been at Avignon during the conference on calendar reform to which Johannes de Muris and Firmin de Beauval were summoned by Clement in 1344. Annotations by Vitry in one of his own books reveal some astronomical knowledge (specifically of Abu Ma‘shar’s De conjunctionibus); it is likely that he contributed to the series of prognostications made for the curia later that year by three of his associates (the above-named Muris and Beauval, and Gersonides) on the great conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter due to occur in 1345 (Watney, 1997).

Vitry was a leading intellectual figure and from about 1340 onwards he attracted the praise of several contemporaries. Two letters from Petrarch to Vitry survive, from 1350 and 1351; Petrarch called him ‘litteratissimus homo’ and ‘the only true poet among the French’, and also made Vitry (personified as ‘Gallus’) his co-respondent in a debate between music and poetry in the fourth eclogue of the Bucolicum carmen (?1344). On the strength of this relationship, Vitry acquired some fame among early Italian humanists, and his posthumous reputation among such scholars may be one factor in the literary circulation of his motet poetry (see below): writing in 1394, Francesco Piendibeni da Montepulciano, chancellor of Perugia, called Vitry a ‘most famous musician and philosopher, well known to Petrarch’, and for Donato degli Albanzani he was ‘in musica summus artifex’. Petrarch recorded Vitry’s death, along with very few other personal losses, on the front flyleaf of his own copy of Virgil, now in Milan.

No other 14th-century musician appears to have been praised so frequently or from so many quarters. Vitry received tributes from astronomers and mathematicians as well as from literary figures. Such regard by notable authors is unprecedented for a musician, and evidently testifies to verbal and intellectual as well as musical gifts. Although no philosophical, historical, or mathematical writings have been identified as his, recent work on his library (Wathey, 1997) and its relations to his motet texts does perhaps provide some of the necessary interface. The Benedictine theologian Pierre Bersuire called him (c. 1340) ‘a man of excellent intellect, an exceptionally ardent lover of moral philosophy, history, and antiquity, and learned in all the mathematical sciences’ (Samaran, 1962). Nicholas Oresme, the celebrated mathematician, theologian, and philosopher, dedicated his Algorismus proportionum (after 1351) to Vitry, there likening him to Pythagoras and requesting his approval for its contents. Vitry was the dedicatee of two other works. Johannes de Muris, who also lent Vitry several books, dedicated his Opus quadripartitum numerorum (1343) to him as ‘the one person in the world who is worthiest of this work’; Gersonides claimed to have written his De numeris harmonicis (1343) in response to a direct request from Vitry, whom he dubbed ‘a leading expert in the science of music’. Nevertheless, individual tributes to his musical and poetic abilities appear to predominate and the testimony of Jean de Fillou de Venette, Prior Provincial of the Carmelite order in France (L’histoire des trois Maries, before 1357, F-Pn fr.12468, ff.142v–143), makes plain Vitry’s fusion of mastery in these two spheres:

Maistre Philippe de Vitry,

Qui en son chant est bien mery

Et pour ses diz qui sont moult beaux,

Car il est evesque de Meaux,

Bien a chanté, bien ditté;

Qui sires est de tel citté

Par ma foy bien l’a deservi,

Car de chanter a mieux servi

Et de ditter trestout ensemble

Que nul autre, si com moy semble.

The work of Vitry and his brothers (see below) was praised alongside that of Guillaume de Machaut and Jean de le Mote in the Meditations (c. 1350) of Gilles li Muisis, Prior of St Martin Tournai. In turn, Jean de le Mote, perhaps writing at the same time, placed Vitry among the ‘mondains dieux d’armonie’, and in a related text (1350) Jehan de Savoie, a notaire in the French Parlement, called him the ‘eminent prince of musicians, outstanding peer to Orpheus, whose name should live for ever’. The anonymous author of the Quatuor principalia (see John of Tewkesbury), who perhaps had first-hand knowledge of the composer and is the authority for two motet attributions, described Vitry as ‘flower of all musicians in the world’. The royal chaplain Gace de la Buigne, in his Roman de deduis (1359–77), wrote that Vitry ‘mieux sceut motetz que nul homme’, while the anonymous author of the Règles de la seconde rhéthorique (between 1411 and 1432) credited Vitry, under the general rubric of poetry as a second rhetoric, with discovering ‘la manière des motès, et des ballades, et des lais et des simples rondeaux’, although little of the extensive poetic and musical production there implied has survived; as regards music, he is credited with inventing ‘les iiij prolacions, les notes rouges et la nouveleté des proportions’. Both Vitry and Machaut are mentioned in texts of two motets along with other contemporary musicians: Apollinis eclipsatur/Zodiacum signis and Musicalis sciencia/Sciencie laudabilis.

A strong case can be made for regarding Vitry as the author of his own Latin motet texts, confirming the judgment of Jean de Fillou (cited above). These texts were copied not only with music, but also enjoyed an independent literary circulation that probably originated in Vitry’s relationship with Petrarch and early Petrarchan scholarship. By the 15th century, Vitry’s motet poetry was widely copied in humanist anthologies (alongside dictaminal treatises, letters, and classical works), acquiring special popularity with German students at Italian universities and subsequently in Germany (Watney, 1993). Among the non-liturgical texts set in 14th-century motets, only Vitry’s (however weakly attributed elsewhere) appear to have been circulated in this way. Although the independent grounds for attribution are sometimes not strong, inclusion in this tightly circumscribed group of works may itself offer support for Vitry’s authorship. This largely Petrarchan tradition also preserves the texts of extra voice-parts no longer found in musical sources, pairings of texts that differ from those found in the motets, and, in the case of the motet Petre clemens, a date and occasion for its composition. The dissemination of Vitry’s literary reputation and motet poetry may well have been responsible, particularly in Italy, for the attribution to him of other works, including several writings on music, as well as a commentary on Aristotle’s Libri naturales (I-Rvat Ottob.1521).

Vitry’s activities as a scholar, some of which were pursued in close proximity to (if not within) the University of Paris, have left a small but important literary deposit. He borrowed several books from Johannes de Muris (probably during the 1330s), including Muris’s own Commentum super musicam, Boethius’s De musica, and the Didascalion of Hugh of St Cher. He also provided the theologian Pierre de Bersuire with a French commentary on Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and, in addition to Abu-Ma‘shar, there is evidence that he read the Historia hiersolymitana of Albert of Aachen. Three books once possessed by Vitry have survived, containing the Elementarium of Papias Grammaticus (F-RS 1092), a commentary on Aristotle’s Libri naturales (I-Rvat Ottob.1521), and Guillaume de Nangis’s Chronicon (I-Rvat The last of these provides valuable evidence for Vitry’s scholarship and intellectual perspectives, since he annotated most of its 744 pages, recording the date of his own birth against the year 1291 and writing out (as a moralizing aside to a passage in the Chronicon) a hexameter couplet that he used in the motet Tribum que non abhoruit/Quoniam secta latronum/Merito hec patimur (see Wathey, Musica e storia, 1998). Marginal annotations by Vitry, reflecting a deep concern with legal questions and dating from his period as bishop, are also found in one of the cartularies of the cathedral chapter at Meaux (MS 63).

2. Music theory.

Vitry’s earliest reputation in modern scholarship was as a theorist, the author of the treatise Ars nova. Sanders (Grove6; after CSM, vol.8, 1964) reported that only the last ten of the 24 chapters are original, on the grounds that the first 14 come from a different work or section of the work, and that they in any case represent Vitry’s teaching as formulated by his disciples. Of these ten, the last five chapters occur only in full in I-Rvat Barberini 307, and in much abbreviated form in F-Pn lat.14741; the whole is greatly condensed in Pn lat.7378A (both I-Rvat 307 and F-Pn 7378A bear ascriptions to Vitry in their explicits; see Fuller). Sarah Fuller took this further with arguments that have won general acceptance: while its teaching may be associated with Vitry and with the innovations of his compositions, its connection with him is so tenuous that he can no longer be regarded as the ‘author’ of a stably transmitted text. The body of theory survives in several different related versions, often with different citations of named music examples. Some earlier arguments for Vitry’s authorship treated such citations of motet titles in ‘Vitry’s’ Ars nova as grounds for their attribution to him; however, many of the cited motets do not survive. The treatise has been dated about 1320 (Roesner, 31; or up to five years before or after, and to other dates in the early 1320s by Fuller and Michels), on grounds of the state of development of its notational theory and in relation to other datable treatises from the 1320s, notably that of Jacobus of Liège. It reflects a notational stage comparable to that found in the interpolated Fauvel manuscript, namely, that values shorter than the breve are assumed to be adequately notated as stemless semibreves to be decoded in conformity with standard groupings, though their values are clarified in the treatise by stems. None of the motets in Fauvel uses arrangements other than these that would have required stems, nor do they use minim rests or indeed distinguish minim and semibreve rests. Two of the motets assigned to Vitry by Leech-Wilkinson, however, and dated by him 1316/1317 (Per grama and Flos/Celsa) go beyond Fauvel and Ars nova in both these respects, as do their passages of nearly complete isorhythm in upper parts.

Part of the treatise ‘Ars nova’, based on the teachings of ‘Philippe de Vitry’ (I-Rvat Barberini 307, f.19r, 2nd column, and f.20r), showing the end of chapter XIV and most of chapter XV (f.19r), and the end of chapter XVII and chapters XVIII and XIX (f.20r)

View large

Surviving motets mentioned in the various versions of the text have invited attribution to Vitry on grounds of his supposed authorship of Ars nova, some because they are mentioned in one or more versions of the treatise: Orbis orbatus/Vos pastores, Firmissime/Adesto, Colla/Bona condit, Douce playsance/Garison (in chap.XVII, on modus and tempus changes); Douce/Garison (in chap.XVIII, on modus and tempus signs); and Douce/Garison; Garrit/In nova; Tuba/In arboris (chap.XIX, on red notes, where many other motets are named in the various versions of the treatise, only three of which are clearly identifiable with surviving compositions). All the last three have at some time been assigned to Vitry (Garrit/In nova is in Fauvel), and constitute the earliest known motets using coloration in the tenor to effect changes of tempus and modus. Vos quid/Gratissima, attributed to Vitry in the Quatuor principalia, is cited in F-Pn lat.14741, which uniquely supplies examples for the section of Ars nova (‘Chapters 20–24’) dealing with tempus and prolation. The attributions of some of these motets to Vitry are somewhat weakened by the loosening of Vitry’s connection with the various versions of the treatise, but there is in any case no significant tradition of self-citation in treatises before Tinctoris.

The chief notational innovations associated with Vitry are all present to some degree in Ars nova: values shorter than the semibreve and the use of red notes. The author of Les règles de la seconde rhéthorique attributed to Vitry the ‘quatre prolacions’ and the invention of red notes; the Quatuor principalia states that the minim was invented ‘in Navarina’ and was approved and used by Vitry. The setting out of the combinations of modus and tempus and the assignment of standard values to notes below the semibreve seems to qualify as the prolations, but the hierarchy is less completely systematized in the Ars nova writings than in fully developed Ars nova theory. The various treatises that make up the complex of Ars nova give several different meanings for red notes and are the first to do so; one could say that the grounds for assigning this body of theory to Vitry on the testimony of the seconde rhéthorique are no worse than the grounds for other assignations to him.

Of the wide range of meanings given for red notes, many are not documented in any surviving composition, or are apparently different from surviving practical uses; some of them are cited as occurring in works that do not survive. According to Ars nova, red notes can change combinations of modus and tempus from perfect to imperfect or vice versa. In Tuba/In arboris red notes effect modus change only, and effect parallel variation of tempus and modus in Douce/Garison. They can also be agents of syncopation (though no known uses are so early). A corrupt sentence seems to refer to the distinguishing of notes deviating from the chant by red notation, but the meaning may not be as clear as Sanders suggested (Grove6). Red can signal imperfection of a long before another, or non-alteration of a second breve (Garrit/In nova); or perfection of a preceding long or breve (Tuba/In arboris). Red notes can also cause upward octave transposition of a cantus firmus; two motets are cited for this usage but, as in some other examples, neither survives, nor is any example known.

3. Musical works.

(i) Motets.

Apart from the special case of Machaut, most 14th-century music survives anonymously. Only two works are attributed in any musical source to Vitry. One of these (Impudenter circuivi/Virtutibus) was in F-Sm 222 (burned in 1871), the other (O canenda/Rex quem) is in a fragment (CH-Fcu Z 260) whose authority may be somewhat undermined in that its other piece is misattributed to Machaut. In Vitry we encounter a well-known public figure of formidable learning and authority whose general culture and musical composition are attested in a wide range of extra-musical sources, encouraging the enterprise of identifying his music among anonymously transmitted pieces. Vitry’s stature not only as a theorist but as a composer was first revived by Besseler, the first to attribute (eight) anonymous motets to him. Schrade extended this list to the 14 (plus one without music) in his edition.

The evidence on which modern scholars have proposed such identifications includes internal evidence from the poetic texts, such as the authorial ‘hec concino Philippus’ of Cum statua/Hugo, and the possibly self-referential ‘concinat Gallus’ in Tribum/Quoniam. The vituperative style that seems to be characteristic of Vitry may be reflected in vocabulary. Citations in treatises and literary sources are also taken as evidence for his authorship: motet titles are cited in three chapters of Ars nova, one on variations between perfect and imperfect modus and tempus, one on the use of red notes. Now that this treatise’s connection to Vitry has been loosened, an earlier notion, itself questionable, that such self-citation guaranteed his authorship of a group of works including some of the Fauvel motets, fades further, while not disqualifying their attribution on other grounds. Douce/Garison is mentioned by Gaces de la Bugne as a work of Vitry’s, naming him also as Bishop of Meaux (thus dating the mention after 1351); Kügle interpreted this reference as indicating an early work. Cum statua/Hugo and Vos/Gratissima are attributed to Vitry in the Quatuor principalia. The manuscript F-Pn lat.3343 contains the ballade De terre en grec Gaulle appellee, and also presents the texts of Phi millies Deus pulcherrime/O Creator, for which no music survives, and the triplum text of Petre clemens/Lugentium with the ascription ‘hunc motetum fecit Philippus de Vitriaco pro papa Clemente’, an ascription now corroborated by Wathey (1993) with a precise dating. Transmission of motet texts without music but with attribution to Vitry has also been taken as evidence of his authorship of these motets. The implication that he wrote his own texts is corroborated by parallel passages in motets, and in books from his library with those passages marked or annotated by him. Tribum/Quoniam has now been more firmly linked with Vitry in this way (Wathey, 1998). It must now be asked whether such separate survival is sufficiently strong evidence for the attribution of other motet texts preserved in this way, since the same group also includes some motets ascribed to him on independent grounds (notably Flos/Celsa but also the still questionable Quid scire/Dantur); some of these are mentioned in treatises. Attributions are also based on style and construction as well as on links between pieces (see especially Leech-Wilkinson, Kügle, Coplestone-Crow).

Sanders (1975) challenged some of Schrade’s attributions and promoted others. His list of 12 removes Dantur/Quid scire entirely, adds Floret/Florens, retains the text-only Phi millies/O Creator, and relegates two of Schrade’s to doubtful status. Roesner’s judgment is the most severe: he found no secure basis for assigning any of the Fauvel motets to Vitry, or indeed for Vitry’s involvement as Chaillou’s music editor for that enterprise, confining the Vitry corpus to five, perhaps seven, reliably ascribed motets all contained in I-IV 115 (Roesner, 38–42). Sanders proposed that Vitry was Chaillou’s editor, one of four men presumed to have been involved in Fauvel who were all at the same time in the royal chancery. Whatever Chaillou’s role, and whoever the compilers of Fauvel in F-Pn fr.146, they must have had the services of an extraordinarily learned and skilful musician (or musicians), over a wide chronological span, familiar with repertory reaching back to Notre Dame and the Ars Antiqua, as well as the monophonic courtly lyric. The use of plainchant, some of it quite obscure, suggests a deep familiarity such as to permit the use of chant snippets (sometimes satirically and subversively) ‘reflecting the latest developments of the emerging Ars Nova’. He (or they) must have had ‘considerable formal education, well-read in the artes, no ordinary musician – and [been] something of a polymath as well’ (Roesner, 38).

Six Fauvel motets have been ascribed to Vitry at various times: Orbis orbatus/Vos pastores, Aman novi/Heu fortuna, Tribum/Quoniam, Firmissime/Adesto, Garrit gallus/In nova fert, and Floret/Florens (the latter is not in Fauvel but an adapted form of its triplum appears as the monophonic Carnalitas, luxuria). Leech-Wilkinson (1982–3) added five more Ivrea motets on grounds of their similarity of facture to motets more firmly attributed to Vitry. Leech-Wilkinson (1995; further discussed in Coplestone-Crow) also proposed an anonymous ‘Master of the Royal Motets’ who he believes wrote four other Fauvel motets, including Orbis orbatus/Vos pastores, previously ascribed to Vitry, while reassigning to Vitry three motets in F-Pn fr.146 which Roesner had eliminated (Garrit/In nova, Tribum/Quoniam, Firmissime/Adesto). Leech-Wilkinson also added two non-Fauvel motets not previously attributed to Vitry: the incomplete Per grama for Pope John XXII (he dated it around the time of his election, 7 August 1316, but a later dating was suggested by Bent, 1998), and Flos/Celsa for St Louis of Toulouse (canonized 7 April 1317; Leech-Wilkinson dated it before his first feast-day, 19 August; Kügle agrees). Bent, however, argues that given the advanced notation and isorhythmic structures of these works, either a later date must be considered for them, or the view that Fauvel was at the cutting edge of new developments would need revision, especially if the ‘Marigny’ motets (those that describe the downfall of the royal chamberlain Enguerran de Marigny: Aman/Heu, Tribum/Quoniam, and Garrit/In nova) date from about 1317 rather than earlier (see below). Kügle accepted Flos/Celsa and In virtute/Decens carmen as works of Vitry, and indeed dated their group 1315–20; he linked a further group of motets to these: Almifonis/Rosa, Nazarea que decora/Zolomina, and Amer/Durement, but stopped short of attributing them. Leech-Wilkinson (1995) assigned three motets to followers of Vitry: Floret/Florens, Aman/Heu (both supported in Coplestone-Crow), and Nulla/Plange. Floret/Florens is indeed a less well crafted piece, with uncharacteristic strings of repeated notes, but it cannot be ruled out entirely, because of its close connection to the Marigny complex; Bent (1998) has defended Aman/Heu as a work of Vitry because of its intimate connection to and contemporary genesis with Garrit/In nova and Tribum/Quoniam. Leech-Wilkinson, Kügle, and Coplestone-Crow have argued for links between groups of pieces based on musical techniques, but with differing emphases with respect to attribution.

Many earlier writers have taken the Fauvel historical motets as documentary and applied dates accordingly. Bent (1998) has argued that the three ‘Marigny’ motets were designed as an interrelated group, and probably by one composer, specifically for the Fauvel project, with clear and double intent for both the Fauvel narrative and the Marigny parable (see, however, above for different views on attributions). She challenged Sanders’s basis for an ‘orderly’ chronology (Sanders, 1975, p.36), restoring Schrade’s attribution to Vitry, on grounds that progress towards periodicity and isorhythm is not the only measure of order; that his de-attribution of Aman/Heu and indeed of Orbis/Vos rests on limited criteria; and that the self-proclaimed tenses that seem to establish the order of composition of the Marigny trio might be seen as narrative fiction, overriding Sanders’s basic argument of literal documentary chronological order. If at least some of these motets served a double narrative purpose, they need not all be so early (because of its present tense, Garrit/In nova has been dated during the lifetime of Philippe IV ‘the Fair’, who died on 29 November 1314).

Criteria that may guide chronology include the extent and nature of isorhythmic organization, and the stage of notational development required by the rhythms of the upper parts. Isorhythm may not be a useful criterion, as advanced techniques are present in motets that are dated early; this is also true for modus variation using coloration. As seen in the works-list, the presumably earlier motets attributed to Vitry are preserved mostly in F-Pn 146, and the presumably later ones, with no overlap, in I-IV. It is nonetheless difficult to propose datings for the post-Fauvel motets, apart from Petre/Lugentium. Partly on grounds of their citation in the Ars nova complex, and partly on style considerations relating them to Fauvel, Kügle suggested early dates for most of those preserved only in Ivrea, even those requiring more advanced notation for short notes than the Fauvel motets.

In the unquestionably early motets that might be by Vitry, the composer contrived great variety in manipulating modus relationships, alternating groups of twos and threes, sometimes achieved by coloration. Among the motets that juxtapose binary and ternary modus, both within and between voices, are Garrit gallus/In nova, Firmissime/Adesto, and Tuba/In arboris. Some (e.g. the later Colla iugo/Bona condit; O canenda/Rex) have a second or third colour repeat in diminution (but never more than one level of reduction); some (Firmissime/Adesto, Vos quid admiramini/Gratissima, and Douce/Garison) have ‘pseudo-diminution’ – a second colour that gives the impression of diminution but is in fact independently rhythmicized. Others have no diminution, or use a wide range of other repetition strategies, often setting up rich webs of musical and textual reference both within and between motets quite independently of any periodic or isorhythmic repetition.

Impudenter/Virtutibus and Vos quid admiramini/Gratissima both have essential contratenors and a ‘solus tenor’ conflation of tenor and contratenor. The motet surviving without music, O Creator/Phi millies/Iacet granum/Quam sufflabit, must have been in four voices. Other four-voice motets listed are Apta/Flos, with two different contratenors, both inessential (therefore this is not a candidate for solus tenor treatment) and In virtute/Decens carmen with an essential contratenor. Vitry is the first composer associated with the solus tenor apart from an isolated earlier English case in GB-Onc 362, no.2, also (perhaps significantly) on Jacet granum.

The upper parts of these motets, all with different texts, are much more closely integrated musically and textually than in 13th-century motets; neither can be omitted. Some have an introitus before the tenor entry: this applies to both ‘more certain’ Vitry motets (e.g. Impudenter/Virtutibus; Tribum/Quoniam) and less certain works (e.g. O Philippe/O bone dux; Apta/Flos). Sanders has shown Vitry’s skill at setting up periodic phrase structures bounded by rests in the upper parts, overlapping with each other and also overlapping with the structural tenor joins, and sometimes sharing a numerical significance with the motet as a whole. Upper-part isorhythm is most strongly cultivated in diminution or pseudo-diminution sections, or in mid-talea around points of modus change (e.g. in Tuba/In arboris).

All the Fauvel motets (and Cum statua/Hugo) arrange their short notes in normative ways that do not require overriding by stems, even if stems appear in some sources; they also do not use rests shorter than the breve, which would also require notation with stems. This would normally suggest an earlier date than compositions requiring more advanced notation. Douce/Garison, not in Fauvel but mentioned in early treatises, uses semibreve rests, but only to mark the word ‘soupir’. Vos quid admiramini/Gratissima uses minim rests in its hocket section, as does Tuba/In arboris; minim rests are also found in the textless hocket sections of Impudenter/Virtutibus and O canenda/Rex. Conventional rhythms are usually adhered to, but occasional exceptions are made, sometimes to emphasize particular words (for instance in Vos/Gratissima and Colla iugo/Bona condit). Petre/Lugentium uses semibreve and minim rests; its 9/8 rhythms depart considerably from standard trochaic patterns, requiring stems.

The novelty of the advanced motets in Fauvel that may be by Vitry is their integration of a wide range of note values, from maxima down to minim, into a single composition, under tight numerical control. Tenor organization at the modus level accommodates organization of the upper parts also by tempus and prolation. As Sanders concluded (Grove6), ‘Each composition is an integral entity with a specific structural and poetic individuality, retained throughout all its manuscript sources … The variety of uniquely conceived forms in Vitry’s works is as fascinating as the clarity and pregnancy of melodic style of many of his motets are attractive.’

(ii) Songs.

Vitry is credited in the Règles de la seconde rhéthorique with the invention of ballades; but although one text exists, no composed ballades are known to survive, nor have any been attributed to him. There has been a presumption that in order to be new, such works are likely to have been polyphonic, that the resources of the Ars Nova were brought to bear on these forms as antecedents to Machaut’s polyphonic songs. All the ballades in Fauvel are monophonic. However, the most advanced of the large-scale Fauvel ballades and some other monophonic forme-fixe songs are notated in the same way as the Fauvel motets, in stemless semibreves set off where necessary by dots. They can be read in exactly the same formulaic way and produce the same rhythmic language as the motets and as shown in Ars nova and related treatises, with a much wider range of note values than was possible previously. Thus interpreted, they are far different from all their precedents; this is masked by their free transcriptions in Rosenberg and Tischler’s edition. Could these be, or be like, the lost repertory of ballades and other song forms by Vitry? Earp (1983, p.357; 1987) and Page (1998, p.384) have affirmed the distinction between the long, unmeasured grant chant courtois and the measured rhythms of dance-song to which, around 1300, rhythmic innovations earlier applied to the motet were now applied. Page demonstrated both the antecedents of the Fauvel ballades in a series of ballade texts transmitted in GB-Ob Douce 308 and their rhythmic potential, but stopped short of claiming the Fauvel ones for Vitry. Although the loosening of Vitry’s association with the treatise formerly ascribed to him may seem to weaken his association with such notational reforms, there is enough to link him with Ars Nova practices. Given the growing evidence of Vitry’s connection with F-Pn 146, these should be considered serious candidates for his authorship. While not, in this form, polyphonic, they are ‘new’ rhythmically and in extent, and if we accept that Vitry may well have been Chaillou’s music editor, and remove the modern presumption that Vitry’s innovation in this area was necessarily polyphonic, the case for seeing these pieces as candidates – it can be put no higher than that – for the lost ballades of Vitry gains some weight.



The Works of Philippe de Vitry, ed. L. Schrade, PMFC, vol.1 (1956) [S]

Motets of French Provenance, ed. F.Ll. Harrison, PMFC, vol.5 (1968) [H]

Theory edition:

Philippi de Vitriaco Ars nova, ed. G. Reaney, A. Gilles, and J. Maillard, CSM, vol.8 (1964) [A]

Securely or plausibly attributable works

Attributable through contemporary testimony or attribution, or internal evidence
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Sources (with music unless otherwise stated)

Theoretical citations

Attributions, Remarks

Cum statua/Hugo/Magister invidie

S 82

F-CA 1328; I-IV 115; F-Pn (index)

Text only: D-Ju Buder 4o 105

Quatuor principalia

triplum text: ‘hec concino Philippus publice’; Quatuor principalia: ‘in moteto qui vocatur Hugo quem edidit Philippus de Vitriaco’ (CoussemakerS, vol.4, 268); allusion in Jean de le Mote; literary transmission supports attribution

Douce playsence/Garison/Neuma quinti toni

S 72

F-Pn (index); I-IV 115

A, cap.XVII (P1, P2, V); A, cap.XIX (P1, V); Quatuor principalia; anon. treatise in V, ff.21–7, attrib. ‘Theodoricus de Campo’

attrib. in Gaces de la Bugne: Le roman de deduis, ed. Å. Blomqvist (Karlshamn, 1951), 315ff; cited in Ars nova

Petre clemens/Lugentium/Tenor [Non est inventus]

S 97

F-Pn (index); I-IV 115

Text only: A-Wn 4195; F-Pn lat.3343

A-Wn 4195: ‘Magister Philipus de Vitrejo in laudem Pape Clementis vjt i anno suo primo circa natalem domini’; F-Pn lat.3343: ‘Hunc motetum [sic] fecit Philippus de Vitriaco pro papa Clemente’; literary transmission supports attribution

Tribum/Quoniam secta/Merito hec patimur

S 54

B-Br 19606; D-Mbs Clm 29775/10; D-ROu 100 (2vv); F-Pn fr.146; GB-Lbl Add.28550 (kbd arr.)

Text only: Lübeck University 152 (lost)

Wolf anon. 1908, ed. in KJb, vol.21 (1908), 33–8; Tractatus figurarum

Hexameter (citing Joseph of Exeter) at end of triplum also used by Vitry in annotations to I-Rvat (Wathey, Musica e storia, 1998); linked by poetic subject matter to Garrit and Floret; literary transmission supports attribution

Vos quid admiramini/ Gratissima/ Contratenor/Gaude gloriosa

S 76 (second ‘solus tenor’ should be disregarded; correct reading is ‘vacat [not ‘vivat’] iste’)

B-Ba 758; F-CA 1328; F-Pn (index); GB-DRc 20; I-IV 115; E-E O.II.10, f.224v (tenor only)

A, cap.XX–XXIV (P2 only); Quatuor principalia

Quatuor principalia: ‘in tenore de Gratissima quem idem Philippus edidit’ (cf Cum statua). Tenor copied in Johannes de Muris’s notebook on same page as the record of a book loan to Vitry

Phi millies/O creator/Iacet granum/Quam sufflabit

ed. in Schrade, Commentary, 119; Pognon (1939), 50–52

Music lost

Text only: F-Pn lat.3343; F-TOm 520

F-Pn lat.3343: ‘Meldensis episcopus Philippus de Vittriaco’; literary transmission supports attribution

De terre en grec Gaulle appellee (ballade)

ed. in Diekstra

no music

Text: F-Pn lat.3343; US-PHu French 15

Maistre Philippe de Vitry

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Attributable through relationship with known works and/or biography, textual content
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Aman novi/Heu Fortuna/Heu me, tristis est anima mea

S 48

F-Pn fr.146

Included by Schrade (MQ, 1956) and Besseler (1958); doubtful work in Grove6; rejected by Leech-Wilkinson (1995) and Coplestone-Crow as the work of one of Vitry's followers; Bent (1998) reattributes it to Vitry


ed. in Sanders (1975), 37

F-CA 1328; F-Pn fr.146; B-Br 19606

J. Boen: Musica

Linked by poetic subject matter to Garrit gallus and Tribum. Accepted by Schrade (MQ, 1956) and Sanders (1975), but assigned on stylistic grounds by Leech-Wilkinson (1995) and Coplestone-Crow to ‘a follower of Vitry’

Garrit gallus/In nova fert/Neuma

S 68

F-Pn Picardie 67; F-Pn fr.146

A, cap.XIX (P1, P2, V); Quatuor principalia; anon. treatise in V, ff.21–7, attrib. ‘Theodoricus de Campo’

Linked by poetic subject matter to Tribum and Floret. Accepted by Schrade (MQ, 1956), Sanders (1975), Leech-Wilkinson (1995), Coplestone-Crow; questioned by Roesner; cited in Ars nova

Impudenter circuivi/Virtutibus/Contratenor/Tenor [Alma redemptoris mater]

S 91

B-Ba 758; B-Br 19606; CH-BEsu 421; F-APT 16bis; NL-Lu 342A; F-Sm 222; I-Fsl 2211

Text only: A-Wn 883; D-Lu 15

Boen: Ars

F-Sm 222: ‘Philippus de Vitriaco’. Rejected by Besseler (1968) but supported by Sanders (Grove6) and Roesner; literary transmission supports attribution

O canenda/Rex quem/Contratenor/Rex regum

S 106

CH-Fcu 260; F-Pn (index); F-Pn lat.2444; GB-DRc 20; I-IV 115

Boen: Ars; Musica

Crusade-related text, probably connected with Vitry’s work for Louis de Bourbon in the 1330s (Wathey, Musica e storia, 1998), CH-Fcu: ‘Philippus de Vitriaco’; the motet is related in style, technique, and material to Vos/Gratissima

Tuba sacre fidei/In arboris/Virgo sum

S 88

F-Pn (index); I-IV 115

A, cap.XVII (P1, P2, V); Wolf anon. 1908, ed. in KJb, vol.21 (1908), 33–8; anon. treatise in V, ff.21–7, attrib. ‘Theodoricus de Campo’; Boen: Ars; Wolf anon. 1918–19, ed. in AMw, vol.1 (1918–19), 329–45

Citations often in a pair with Vitry’s Garison. Accepted by Schrade (MQ, 1956), Sanders (Grove6), Leech-Wilkinson (1982–3); regarded as plausible by Roesner; cited in Ars nova

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Works attributed to Vitry on stylistic grounds, weakly supported by citation in ‘Ars nova’ or by literary transmission

Attribution widely accepted
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Colla iugo/Bona condit/Libera me Domine [/Egregius labor]

S 85

E-Tc 1; E-Tc 2; F-APT 16bis; F-AS 983; F-CA 1328; F-Pn; F-Sm 222; I-IV 115; PL-WRu 1955k, 1 or 2vv Text only: A-KR 149; A-Wn 3219; A-Wn 3244 (twice); D-B lat.2o 49; D-B 991 (B.8); D-Ju Buder 4o 105; D-TRs 804; D-W Helmst.525; D-W Helmst.608; D-W 973 Novi; Signa quindecim horribilia (Cologne, after 1500)

A, cap.XVII (P1, P2, V); Boen: Musica

Accepted by Schrade (MQ, 1956), Sanders (Grove6), Leech-Wilkinson (1995); regarded as plausible by Roesner; literary transmission supports attribution; cited in Ars nova

Firmissime/Adesto/Alleluya, Benedictus

S 60

B-Br 19606; F-Pn fr.146; GB-Lbl Add.28550 (kbd arr.)

Text only: D-DS 521

A, cap.XVII (P1, P2, V); Wolf anon. 1908, ed. in KJb, vol.21 (1908), 33–8

Structurally similar to Tribum (Leech-Wilkinson, 1995). Accepted by Schrade (MQ, 1956), Sanders (Grove6); literary transmission supports attribution; cited in Ars nova

Flos ortus/Celsa cedrus/Tenor

H 42

D-W I.10/12a; F-CA 1328; F-Pn (index); F-Pn lat.2444; I-Fsl 2211; I-IV 115

Text only: D-DS 521

Proposed by Leech-Wilkinson (1983), accepted by Kügle; since then strengthened by literary transmission. Dated 1317 by Leech-Wilkinson (1995); Bent (1993) prefers date of 1330s on grounds of advanced notation

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Attribution less widely accepted
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Orbis orbatus/Vos pastores/Fur non venit

S 22

F-Pn fr.146

A, cap.XIX (V only)

Accepted by Schrade (MQ, 1956) and Besseler (1968); doubtful in Grove6, rejected in Roesner; attrib. ‘master of the royal motets’, Leech-Wilkinson (1995); cited in Ars nova

Quid scire proderit/Dantur officia/[…]

S 104

F-APT 16bis; F-Sm 222; I-IV 115

Text only: B-BRs 258; M. Flacius: Carmina vetusta (Wittenberg, 1548)

Included by Schrade (MQ, 1956) but rejected by Besseler (1968) and Sanders (Grove6); literary transmission is only weakly in favour

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Works attributed on stylistic grounds

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H 46

I-IV 115; F-Pn; Archivo Storico del Comune fragment

Tentatively proposed by Leech-Wilkinson (1982–3); see Kügle

Amer/Durement/Dolor meus

H 100

F-Pn (index); F-Pn collection de Picardie 67; GB-DRc 20; I-IV 115

Tentatively proposed by Leech-Wilkinson (1982–3); see Kügle

Apta caro/Flos/Alma redemptorisa mater

H 17

F-CA 1328; F-CH 564 (different contratenor); F-Pn (index); GB-DRc 20; I-IVc 115; I-Fsl 2211; I-MOe α.M.5.24

Boen: Ars; US-BEm 744

Tentatively proposed by Leech-Wilkinson (1982–3) as a late work

In virtute/Decens carmen/Clamor meus/Contratenor

H 95

F-Pn (index); F-Pn 2444; I-IV 115

Proposed by Leech-Wilkinson (1982–3); accepted by Kügle

O Philippe/O bone

H 1

I-IV 115

Tentatively proposed by Leech-Wilkinson (1982–3)

Per grama protho paret

ed. in Leech-Wilkinson (1995)

GB-Lbl Add.41667

Attrib. Vitry by Leech-Wilkinson (1995) and dated 1316; Bent prefers date of 1330s on grounds of advanced notation


S 8

F-Pn fr.146; F-Pn (index)

Proposed by Leech-Wilkinson (1995) as an ‘early’ work written in 1313 (on grounds of date of the event described in text); Bent and Wathey (1998) prefer later dating; Coplestone-Crow assigns it to a ‘master of the royal motets’

Se cuers/Rex

S 26

B-Br 19606; F-Pn fr.146; GB-Lbl Add.41667

Schrade (MQ, 1956), supported by Leech-Wilkinson (1982–3); withdrawn (1995) in favour of a ‘master of the royal motets’; Coplestone-Crow supports the latter

Se paour/Diex/Concupisco

H 84

F-Pn (index); F-CA 1328; GB-Ob e Musaeo 7 (different texts); I-IV 115

Proposed by Leech-Wilkinson (1982–3)

Servant regem/O Philippe/Rex regum

S 33

F-Pn fr.146; F-Pn fr.571 (with duplum incipit ‘Ludowice’); F-Pn (index)

Schrade (MQ, 1956), supported by Leech-Wilkinson (1982–3); withdrawn (1995) in favour of a ‘master of the royal motets’; reassigned to Vitry by Coplestone-Crow

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Works cited in the Ars nova tradition and thus possibly by Vitry

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music lost

A, cap.XIX (V only)

Deus iudex fortis

music lost

A, cap.XVII (P1, P2, V)

Gratia miseri (? Dei gratia ministri)

music lost

A, cap.XIX (P1, P2, V); Wolf anon. 1908, ed. in KJb, vol.21 (1908), 33–5

Imperatrix anglie

music lost

A, cap.XX–XXIV (P2 only)

Lampadis os manuum

music lost

A, cap.XIX (P2 only)

[?Marie] preconio/Misera per liconia

music lost

A, cap.XVII (P1 and V only)

Mon chant/Qui doloreus/Tenor

H 80

F-Pn (index); GB-DRc 20; I-IV 115

A, cap.XX–XXIV (P2 only); Wolf anon. 1908, ed. in KJb, vol.21 (1908), 33–8

Attributed to a ‘follower of Vitry’ by Leech-Wilkinson (1982–3)

Nazarea que decora/Zolomina/Tenor

H 62

E-Bc 853; I-IV 115; F-Pn (index); F-Pn lat.2444 (lost, catchword only)

A, cap.XX–XXIV (P2 only)

Attributed to a ‘follower of Vitry’ by Leech-Wilkinson (1982–3); see Kügle

O Maria affectu

music lost

A, cap.XX–XXIV (P2 only)

Plures errores

music lost

A, cap.XIX (V only)

Quant amors

music lost

A, cap.XIX (P1, P2, V)

Thoma tibi obsequia

music lost; F-Pn (index)

A, cap.XIX (P2 and V only)

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P1 – F-Pn lat.7378AP2 – F-Pn lat.14741V – I-Rvat Barberini 307


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  • A. Wathey: ‘The Motet Texts of Philippe de Vitry in German Humanist Manuscripts of the Fifteenth Century’, Music in the German Renaissance: Sources, Styles, and Contexts, ed. J. Kmetz (Cambridge, 1994), 195–201
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