Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Saltzstein, Jennifer. “Rape and Repentance in Two Medieval Motets.” Journal of the American Musicological Society 70 (Winter 2017): 583-616.

Many medieval pastourelle songs contain vivid depictions of rape, and there is virtually no medieval criticism of this practice. One pastourelle motet, Hé, Marotele/En la praerie/Aptatur, and its sacred Marian contrafact, Hé, mere Diu/La virge Marie/Aptatur, offer a rare example of musical commentary on and criticism of casual representations of rape in pastourelle songs. In the pastourelle genre, a knight tries to seduce a shepherdess (Marion/Marot) who remains loyal to her shepherd sweetheart Robin. In many songs, the knight then resorts to force, raping Marion. In Hé, Marotele, however, it is Robin, not the knight, who rapes Marot, an extremely unusual twist of genre conventions. This scene is recounted from Robin’s perspective in the triplum and from Marot’s in the motetus. The Marian motet Hé, mere Diu/La virge Marie/Aptatur has a musical setting nearly identical to Hé, Marotele/En la praerie/Aptatur and retains a textual refrain, suggesting that the sacred motet is a contrafact of the secular pastourelle. Thus, the reader is invited to conflate the penitent speaker in Hé, mere Diu with Robin, adding a moral and spiritual dimension to the pastourelle. Robin’s act of rape is cast as sinful and requiring repentance. Adding to this interpretation, the two motets are presented side by side in manuscript Mo, suggesting a narrative of confession: the penitence in the Marian motet is followed by the revelation of the sin in the pastourelle. Contrasting with the apparent indifference toward rape in medieval songs, this contrafact gives one example of unequivocal condemnation.

Works: Anonymous: Hé, mere Diu/La virge Marie/Aptatur (597-606)

Sources: Anonymous: Hé, Marotele/En la praerie/Aptatur (597-606)

Index Classifications: Polyphony to 1300

Contributed by: Matthew Van Vleet

Except where otherwise noted, this website is subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
Creative Commons Attribution License