chapter  3
Authorship, musicianship and value in medieval English history
Pages 20

Traditional historical writing is typically structured around key figures, events in which they participated and the texts that they produced. The prevailing anonymity of English music before 1400 – even after which attribution remains patchy – makes the task of writing its history more than a little difficult. This chapter seeks to understand the effect of a lack of known authors on the writing of English musical history, especially the history of polyphonic music. I explore what happens when pieces of music are attributed, taking the case of ‘St’ Richard Scrope and St Edburga, whose musicianship was discussed by medieval chroniclers. An examination of notions of musicianship in the biographies of Scrope and St Edburga will be used to revisit what authorship meant at that time, inviting us to reconsider early and more recent perceptions of individuality and value.