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In the manuscript collection of the Royal Library in Copenhagen, the ‘Copenhagen Chansonnier’ is present. The description reads: “This Chansonnier which has been characterized as the perhaps most interesting and valuable medieval manuscript of music in the Royal Library, occupies a place apart among the relatively few manuscripts which hand down the French-Burgundian repertory of chansons from the late 15th century. The manuscript contains texts and notes of 33 three-voiced songs. One song – “Iactens secours” – has been added in the 16th century. The manuscript ends with essays of modulation.” [1] A list of song titles and corresponding composers is given here [2]; a more in-depth treatment of the Chansonnier is presented by Woetmann Christoffersen [3].

In the Chansonnier a large number of malacological motifs occur, several of which are ‘malacomorph hybrids’ (i.e. a hybrid partly based on a snail or a snail-like figure). All snails are stylised and figured with two tentacles only.

Folio 0v has a song “Comment suige de vostre cueur” with the initial ‘C’ formed by a malacomorph hybrid, showing a nude mermaid holding a large heart and a two-headed snail sprouting from its neck. The shell is dextral with barely two whorls; the snails have their mouth open.

DKB_Thott 291 8_0v_*DKB_Thott 291 8_0v_detail

Folio 2r presents part of the song “Pour changier l’air ne pour fouir les lieux”. The upper initial ‘T[enor]’ shows a malacomorph hybrid, the head with two feathered tentacles, an eye-spot and a large tongue. The dextral shell is nearly three whorls, and is segmented or strongly ribbed.
The second initial ‘C[ontratenor]’ is formed by a curved snail, with an eye-spot. The dextral shell has two whorls and a weak indication of ribs or segments.

DKB_Thott 291 8_2r_*DKB_Thott 291 8_2r_d*DKB_Thott 291 8_2r_d2*

Folio 4r shows the second half of the song “Ma plus, ma mignonne, m’amye”. Here too the second initial (‘C’) is partly formed by a snail with two eye-spots; the segmented / ribbed shell has slightly over two whorls.

DKB_Thott 291 8_4r_*DKB_Thott 291 8_4r_d*

Folio 5r has the second part of the song “De tous biens plaine est ma maistresse”, attributed to the composer Hayne van Ghizeghem. The initial ‘T’ is a malacomorph hybrid with an ape on the dextral, segmented or ribbed shell.

DKB_Thott 291 8_5r_*DKB_Thott 291 8_5r_d*

The song “Se mieulx ne vient, d’amours peu me contente” is partly on folio 7r. The initial has a snail on top with a dextral, somewhat ribbed /segmented shell and an animal with an eye-spot.

DKB_Thott 291 8_7r_*DKB_Thott 291 8_7r_d*

Folio 7v shows the beginning of the song “Tart ara mon cueur sa plaisance”. The lower initial is a malacomorph hybrid; the body of the butterfly on top can also be seen as a snail. The shell is dextral, and as the previous ones, segmented or ribbed.

DKB_Thott 291 8_7v_*DKB_Thott 291 8_7v_d*

Folio 10v gives the start of the Residium from the song “Nul ne l’a tele, sa maistresse”. The initial ‘A’ has a snail in the middle, with a sinistral shell.

DKB_Thott 291 8_10v_*DKB_Thott 291 8_10v_d*

Folio 11r has the final part of this Residium. The initial ‘T’ has a snail on top of a hybrid, the animal with an eye-spot, the dextral shell has over two whorls.

DKB_Thott 291 8_11r_*DKB_Thott 291 8_11r_d*

On folio 13r, the final part of the Residium from “M’a vostre cueur mis en oubli” is  shown. The upper initial (‘T’) is made up by a malacomorph hybrid, the sinistral shell as a cap.

DKB_Thott 291 8_13r_*DKB_Thott 291 8_13r_d*

Folio 14r, belonging to the final part of “Riant regard, acompli en doulceur”, is showing a side view from the left of a snail on top of a tree trunk. The shell is sinistral.

DKB_Thott 291 8_14r_*DKB_Thott 291 8_14r_d*

Folio 14v is the start of the song “Seulement une fois le jour” and the initial ‘S’ has a snail on top, the animal with a mouth, the dextral shell has two segmented/ribbed whorls.

DKB_Thott 291 8_14v_*DKB_Thott 291 8_14v_d*

Folio 15r is the last part of the same song. The initial ‘C’ is made up by two snails, the lower one with an eye-spot and mouth. Both shells are dextral.

DKB_Thott 291 8_15r_*DKB_Thott 291 8_15r_d*

On folio 16r the second part of “Ma plus qu’assez et tant bruiante” can be found. The initial ‘T’ shows a malacomorph hybrid emerging from a shell-like figure, while his head is also covered with a shell. The last shell is sinistral, the other dextral.

DKB_Thott 291 8_16r_*DKB_Thott 291 8_16r_d*

Folio 16v continues with the Residium of the same song. The initial has a snail standing upright, with an eye-spot; the segmented /ribbed shell is dextral.

DKB_Thott 291 8_16v_*DKB_Thott 291 8_16v_d*

Folio 18v is the starting page of the Residium from “Garison scray / Je suis mire”. In the initial a snail with a sinistral shell in left side view may be seen.

DKB_Thott 291 8_18v_*DKB_Thott 291 8_18v_d*

Folio 20r is the second part of “Je ne requier que vostre bien veuillance”, and starts with a initial ‘T’ made up by a hybrid emerging from a dextral, segmented/ribbed shell.

DKB_Thott 291 8_20r_*DKB_Thott 291 8_20r_d*

On folio 22r the song “Le joly tetin de ma dame” is continued from the preceding page. The initial ‘T’ is formed by a crippled man, holding grapes, with two snail on a branch on top of his hat. Both snails have an eye-spot and dextral shells.

DKB_Thott 291 8_22r_*DKB_Thott 291 8_22r_d*

Folio 23r has the last of the Residium for the song just mentioned. The initial ‘T’ is made up by a tower with three apes and four snails. Two of the snails have dextral shells, two sinistral. Some of the snails have an eye-spot and a mouth.

DKB_Thott 291 8_23r_*DKB_Thott 291 8_23r_d*

Folio 24r gives the second part of “Mon cueur et moi d’une alliance”, with the first initial (‘T’) consisting of a tree trunk, an ape and a snail seen in left side view, a humanised face and a sinistral shell.

DKB_Thott 291 8_24r_*DKB_Thott 291 8_24r_d*

Folio 24v is the song “Tant est mignone ma pensee” and it apt illustrated with an initial ‘T’ showing a malacomorph hybrid of a woman holding a yoke with two buckets; the snail from which she emerges has pointed tentacles and a humanised eye; its shell is dextral.

DKB_Thott 291 8_24v_*DKB_Thott 291 8_24v_d*

Folio 26r is part of the song “Ostrez la moy de mon oreille”, and has on this folio two malacological motifs. The upper initial (‘T’) has a snail in right side view with a humanised face; its shell is dextral. The second intial (‘C’) has a similar snail, with only an eye-spot.

DKB_Thott 291 8_26r_*DKB_Thott 291 8_26r_d1*DKB_Thott 291 8_26r_d2*

Folio 26v gives the last part of the same song. Here the initial is made up by a malacomorph hybrid.

DKB_Thott 291 8_26v_*DKB_Thott 291 8_26v_d*

Folio 27r is used for the song “La plus [mignonne de mon cueur]”. Here too a malacomorph hybrid can be seen, with the upper part of a pig swallowing the head of a snail, of which the sinistral shell still is visible. The second initial shows either a snail without a shell or the body of a butterfly (cf. f. 7v).

DKB_Thott 291 8_27r_*DKB_Thott 291 8_27r_d1*DKB_Thott 291 8_27r_d2*

Folio 29r is the last part of the Residium for “Soudainement mon cueur a pris”. The initial is made up by a malacomorph hybrid with a dextral shell.

DKB_Thott 291 8_29r_*DKB_Thott 291 8_29r_d*

On folio 30r the second part of the song “Quant vous me ferez plus de bien” is shown. The first initial (‘T’) is here made up by a snail in a dextral shell, with a humanised eye and pointed ears. The second, (‘C’), shows a large pig head with two tusks and a small snail, its shell dextral.

DKB_Thott 291 8_30r_*DKB_Thott 291 8_30r_d1*DKB_Thott 291 8_30r_d2*

Folio 31r is the song “S’il advient [que mon deul me tue]”. The initial shows a man with a flute (?) with a winged, sinistral shell; on his back the man carries a basket with a two headed- (and -coloured) snail, with a sinistral shell too.

DKB_Thott 291 8_31r_*DKB_Thott 291 8_31r_d*

Folio 32r is the last part of “Mon tout, mon souvenir, m’amye”. On the head of the man in the upper initial, a left side view of a snail with a sinistral shell is seen.

DKB_Thott 291 8_32r_*DKB_Thott 291 8_32r_d*

Folio 34r is the second part of “La plus bruiant, celle qui toutes passe”. The T[enor] initial has a.o. a snail with a dextral shell. The C[ontratenor] initial shows a snail with a sinistral shell as the tongue of a grotesque.

DKB_Thott 291 8_34r_*DKB_Thott 291 8_34r_d1*DKB_Thott 291 8_34r_d2*

Folio 36r, pertaining to the second part of “Sur mon ame, m’amye”, the upper initial shows a nude with an ape of its neck and a winged snail on a leash; the shell is sinistral.

DKB_Thott 291 8_36r_*DKB_Thott 291 8_36r_d*

Folio 38v is part of “Ja que lui ne s’i actende”; its initial ‘A’ has a small-sized snail with a sinistral shell.

DKB_Thott 291 8_38v_*DKB_Thott 291 8_38v_d*

Folio 39r is the last part of the same song and the upper initial is made up by a nude malacomorph hybrid with a snail-head. Both shells are dextral.

DKB_Thott 291 8_39r_*DKB_Thott 291 8_39r_d*

In total – on the 79 folio sides – 35 malacological motifs, of which 11 hybrids. The largest number I’ve seen so far…

The Chansonnier is dated at the 1470s and supposed to be decorated in Bourges   [3, see Dating and location of the sources].

[1] DKC, Ms. Thott 291 8º, 47 ff. http://www.kb.dk/permalink/2006/manus/702/eng/
[2] http://www.undoulxregard.org/copenhague/copenhague.html 927.i.2014).
[3] Woetmann Christoffersen, P. (2013). The Copenhagen Chansonnier and the ‘Loire Valley’ chansonniers. An open access project. Available at http://chansonniers.pwch.dk/index.html (27.i.2014).