chapter  6
Contenance angloise: A reappraisal
Pages 16

The phrase contenance angloise appears just once in the literature of the Middle Ages, yet it holds a prominent place in musicological discourse. The source of the phrase is Martin Le Franc’s Le Champion des Dames, a poem from 1440-2 in which, in a relatively fleeting moment within the 24,000 verses about the end of the world, he appears to describe the influence of the English on the innovative works of continental composers Dufay and Binchois.1 Le Franc’s comments chime with the words of Tinctoris, who named John Dunstaple as leading English composers responsible for a new art in his Proportionale Musices (1472-5). In a further treatise by Tinctoris, the Liber de arte contrapuncti (1477), Dunstaple, Binchois and Dufay (all by this point deceased) were hailed as teachers (praeceptores) of the next generation. Tinctoris claimed the influence of their works (opera) on the generation of composers that included Ockeghem, Regis, Busnois, Caron and Faugues.2 Originating from the pens of two authors writing from distinctly different perspectives, these texts have been used to identify the 1430s as a period of significant change, one that announced the flowering of the renaissance.