chapter  1
24 Pages

Boethian Counsel: Guillaume de Machaut’s Confort d’ami

Guillaume de Machaut’s Confort d’ami bears eloquent witness to the political resonance of The Consolation of Philosophy in fourteenth-century culture, establishing a parallel between the experience of Boethius and that of the latemedieval statesman, as it locates Boethius’s book within the tradition of advice to princes literature. Framed as an address to Machaut’s imprisoned patron, Charles II of Navarre, the Confort is not simply a response to Charles’s captivity at the hands of his father-in-law, Jean II, lasting from 5 April 1356 to 8 November 1357. Machaut’s poem is informed by the knowledge that Charles’s allies were working for his release, interweaving the comfort befitting the situation of a prisoner with advice on government appropriate to the position of a prince.2