Chantilly Codex

Chantilly Codex – Brepols Publishers – Ms. 564 – Bibliothèque du Château (Chantilly, France)

Southern France or Italy — End of the 14th or beginning of the 15th century

Unfinished and yet one of the most important testimonies to the ars subtilior: 112 polyphonic songs by the most famous courtly composers of the 14th century, compiled for a wealthy music lover

  1. The manuscript contains 70 ballads, 17 roundels, 12 virelais, and 13 isorhythmic motets

  2. It is one of three main sources of ars subtilior, famous for its extremely complicated notation

  3. The splendid but unfinished illumination points to a wealthy but still undetermined patron

Chantilly Codex

  1. Description
  2. Facsimile Editions (1)
Chantilly Codex

The Chantilly Codex is a musical manuscript containing compositions from ca. 1350–1400 in the style known as the Ars subtilior, which is characterized by rhythmic and notational complexity and was prevalent in Paris, Avignon, and northern Spain in the late 14th century. It contains 112 polyphonic songs, mostly in French, including many of the most popular courtly dance styles of its time, such as ballades, roundels, virelais, and isorhythmic motets. Some of these motets are so rhythmically complex that they are written in intricately exact musical notation instead of simple neumes. The Chantilly Codex contains music from composers such as Johannes Symonis, Jehan Suzay, P. des Molins, Goscalch, Solage, Baude Cordier, Grimace, Guillaume de Machaut, Jehan Vaillant, F. Andrieu, Magister Franciscus, Johannes Cuvelier, Rodericus, Trebor, and Jacob Senleches.

Chantilly Codex

The so-called Chantilly Codex is one of the three main sources of ars subtilior, which is famous for its extremely complicated notation and the fine decoration that is found on some of the pages. Unlike most musical manuscripts from the period, most of the works are attributed to composers with only 34 anonymous pieces found in the manuscript. The 112 polyphonic songs in the manuscript consists of 70 ballads, 17 roundels, 12 virelais, and 13 isorhythmic motets. The 34 authors cited are: Baude Cordier, Johannes Haucourt, Matheus de Sancto Johanne, Petrus Fabri, Jacob Senleches, Jehan Vaillant, Solage, Guillaume de Machaut, Grimace, Magister Franciscus, Trebor, Magister Egidius Augustinus, Guido, Johannes Susay, Johannes Olivier, Philippus de Caserte, Johannes Galiot, Jehan Simon Hasprois, Garinus, Johannes Cunelier, Goscalch, Taillandier, Hymbert de Salinis, Johannes Cesaris, Rodericus, Johannes de Meruco, F. Andrieu, Pierre des Molins, Borlet, Pykini, Gacian Reyneau, Egidius de Pusiex, Philippe Royllart, J. Alanus.

An Italian Copy of a French Original

The large number of errors in the French text as well as in copying the scores indicates that this manuscript was copied from a French original by an Italian copyist who did not understand what he was copying. The texts were written down before the music, which creates a lag between the two. The decoration of the manuscript is left incomplete and blank spaces can be found where most of the initials should have been completed by an illuminator. Why the work was never completed remains unknown.

A Precious Discovery

An inscription on the title page from 1461 states the book was owned by the family of Francesco d'Altobianco Alberti, who had been banished from Florence in 1401 and lived for a long time in France. Exactly 400 years later, it was discovered in 1861 at the home of M. Bigazzi, secretary of the Accademia della Crusca, in Florence by Henry de Triqueti (1803–74) a French sculptor and enlightened amateur. Triqueti purchased the manuscript and adorned it with a frontispiece before donating it to the Bibliothèque du Château, Chantilly, after which it is named.


Alternative Titles
Codex Chantilly
Size / Format
211 pages / 40.0 × 29.0 cm
End of the 14th or beginning of the 15th century
112 music pieces
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Henri d'Orléans, Duke of Aumale (1822–1897)

Available facsimile editions:
Chantilly Codex – Brepols Publishers – Ms. 564 – Bibliothèque du Château (Chantilly, France)
Brepols Publishers – Turnhout, 2008
Facsimile Editions

#1 Codex Chantilly

Brepols Publishers – Turnhout, 2008

Publisher: Brepols Publishers – Turnhout, 2008
Commentary: 1 volume by Yolanda Plumley and Anne Stone
Languages: French, English
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €
(under 1,000€)
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