TextmanuscriptTextmanuscripts - Les Enluminures

les Enluminures

Statutes of the Order of the Golden Fleece

In French, manuscript on parchment
[Low Countries, c.1531, before 1545]

TM 128
sold

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
46 ff. preceded and ending with 2 paper flyleaves, on parchment, complete, mostly in regular quires of 8 (collation: [I] + i8, ii8, iii8, iv8, v8, vi4, vii8 + [II]), written in brown ink in a Burgundian lettre bâtarde (at least two hands, change of hands perceptible from f. 18v on), on up to 23 long lines (justification: 100 x 145 mm), quire signatures, some catchwords (ff. 25v, 33v), ruled in red, some capitals touched in red, rubrics and paragraph marks in bright red, painted initials in alternating red and blue, former shelfmarks on verso of second flyleaf: “D 5544” and “A. l. 19.” Bound in a well-preserved and beautiful sixteenth-century semé binding with Arma Christi symbols, golden brown morocco over pasteboard, gold-tooled, boards with triple gold fillet frame, cornerpieces with gilt foliate motifs surrounding Arma Christi tools, central motif of gilt oval laurel wreath on a semé of gilt fleur-de-lys, smooth spine with gilt semé of fleur-de-lys, edges gilt [see section below for comparisons] (Some waterstains, never affecting legibility). Dimensions: 215 x 160 mm.

Probably one of the fifty manuscripts of the Statutes of the Order of the Golden Fleece ordered in 1531 and incorporating the 11 changes and additions voted at that date. Only 10 of these manuscripts have survived, apparently none in North American collections. Made for an unknown knight of the Order, the present example is bound in a beautiful sixteenth-century Parisian binding, close to works by Nicolas and Clovis Eve, which was perhaps ordered by a member of the Rohan family.

Provenance

1.The manuscript contains the short version of the Statutes of the Order of the Golden Fleece, revised in 1446. After the 66 chapters of the Statuts, followed by the Ordonnances, there is an account of a modification of a privilege by Emperor Charles V, thus providing for this manuscript a useful terminus a quo, that of the date of the last chapter held in 1531, quoted f. 44: “Le dessusnommé Charles roy de Castille…ou chapitre general d’icellui ordre celebré en sa cité de Tournay ou mois de decembre de l’an .XVc. XXXI....“ This refers to the 20th chapter held “en la ville de Tournay dans l’Eglise Nostre Dame en 1531“ (see La Toison d’or…, Paris, 1689, p. 288). The only name quoted twice is that of Jehan Manuel or Emanuel (ff. 42v and 44): this knight was victim of unjust imprisonment in the town of Vilvorde in 1513, causing Charles V to modify a statute in 1516 at the chapter held in Brussels: “Ledit Seigneur ou meismes chapitre l’esclaircissement desditz statuz au fait des corrections, et pour pourveoir que les chevaliers et officiers de l’ordre en l’avenir ne soient oultragiez par prinse de leur personnes comme le seigneur don Jehan Emanuel chevalier dudit ordre en l’an .XV. et .XIII. durant la minorité de lui souverain et a son desceu avoit esté prins et par longue espace de tamps detenu prisonnier ou chastel de Vilvorde...”(f. 42v). A Spaniard, Messire Don Jean Manuel is recorded in the Mausolée de la Toison d’Or…(p. 98, Amsterdam, 1689). He died in 1535 and is buried in the chapel of St.-Paulo de Peñafiel (Spain, near Valladolid).

2.Inscription in bottom margin of second folio, in brown ink in a sixteenth-century hand [written over in later black ink, rendering inscription quasi illegible]: Jac. Rohani ( ?) & amicor[um] [perhaps Jacqueline de Rohan, daughter of Charles de Rohan, who dies in 1586. (See Anselme, P., Histoire généalogique et chronologique de la maison royale de France…, Paris, Compagnie des libraires, 1728, vol. IV, p. 70)]. Léonore de Rohan was a noteworthy book collector.

3.Late sixteenth-century penned name and paraph on f. 10v: “Aupois.” The same hand copied a line from the Statutes in the lower margin in black ink.

4.Nineteenth-century annotation on front pastedown: “Souv[enir] des cheval[iers] du Tois[on] d’or.”

Text

f. 1, title page: “L’ordres de la Toison d’or et de ses statuts”;

f. 1v, blank;

ff. 2-6v, Table of contents listing 66 chapters; rubric, Le nombre des chevaliers et condicions d’iceulx; [i] “Comment que nul estant en aultre ordre ne peut recepvoir icelluy ordre sans le delaissier exceptés empereurs roys et ducz”; [ii] “Comment les chevaliers de l’ordre doivent porter ung collier d’or dessus leurs robes”[…] [lxvi] “Comment chescun chevalier de l’ordre se doibt submectre de son bon gré a la volunté des freres et chevaliers de l’ordre”; rubric with Roman numerals announcing [lxvii], but no text following;

ff. 7-7v, Institution de l’Ordre de la Thoison d’or; incipit,“Philippe par la grace de Dieu, duc de Bourgoingne de Lothrie, de Brabant et de Lembourg, conte de Flandres, d’Arthois…[…]… prenons ung ordre et fra[n]t[er]nité de chevalerie ou amiable compai[n]gnie de certain nombre de chevaliers que voulons estre appellee l’ordre de la thoison d’or soubz la forme conditions statutz manieres et articles qui s’ensuivent”;

ff. 7v-35v, Statuts de l’Ordre de la Thoison d’or [short version: 66 articles that describe the rights and obligations of the Knights]; incipit,[chapter] [i] “Premierement ordonnons que en l’ordre devant dicte aura trente et ung chevaliers… ”; explicit [chapter] [lxvi] “…attendu la voluntaire et franche submission juree solempnellement comme dit est”;

ff. 36-37v, Ordonnances de l’Ordre de la Thoison d’or: “Tous lesquelz poins conditions articles et choses dessusdittes…[…] Donné en nostre ville de Lille le .xxviie jour de novembre l’an de grace mil quattre cens trente ung [1431]. Finis”;

ff. 38-43v, Additions (11 added changes and additions) to Statutes during chapters held under Philip the Good (The Hague, 1456), Charles the Bold (in Valenciennes, 1473), Charles V (Brussels, 1516), concerning especially dress code; rubric, Chy apres s’ensieult le changement; incipit,“Que puis l’institution de l’ordre du Thoison d’or jusques ores a esté fait es statuz et ordonnances d’icellui par les chiefs et souverains… ”; explicit, “[…] ilz estoient selon le .lxiii. des status dudit ordre tenuz de delivrer ès mains du tresorier. Finis” (On the chapters of the Golden Fleece and its ceremonial, see F. de Gruben, 1997);

ff. 43v-45, Ordonnance by Charles V following the incident of Don Jean Manuel, unjustly imprisonned in 1513, rubric and brown ink: “Le dessusnommé Charles roy de Castille, empereur de Romme Veme de ce nom, duc de Bourgoigne, chief et souverain du tresnoble ordre du Thoison d’or ou chapitre general d’icellui ordre celebré en sa cité de Tournay ou mois de decembre de l’an XV. C. XXXI. [1531, chapter no. 20] a l’esclarlissement [sic] des statuz et articles cy dessus…Et affin que lesdits chevaliers et officiers ne aulcuns d’eulx ne soient oultraigiez par prinse, arrest ou detention de leurs personnes a tort comme le seigneur don Jehan Manuel chevalier et confrere d’icellui ordre en l’an .XVc. et .XIII [1513] sans ordonnance… ”; explicit, “[…] tout ce que ou chapitre de l’ordre tenu a Bruxelles en l’an XVe et seize [1516, 18th chapter] et en tous autres chapitres precedens auroit et pourroit avoir esté fait ordonné ou statué au contraire et co[n]sequa[m]ment expresseme[n]t ordon[n]e que ladicte contrarieté s’aucune en y a soit effacié et trachié des registres ou elle se trouveroit”;

ff. 45v-46v, blank.

The most renowned of all chivalric orders, the Order of the Golden Fleece was founded in 1430 by Phillip the Good, duke of Burgundy, and was considered the highest order of knighthood. It was instituted as a Burgundian alternative to the influential Order of the Garter, founded in 1348 by Edward III. The Order of the Golden Fleece admitted 30 knights (51 as of 1516) and 4 officers (Treasurer, King of Arms, Chancellor and Greffier). Upon being inducted as a member, each knight received, in addition to the famous collar from which a gold enameled pendant of the Golden Fleece was suspended, a copy of the Statutes--also referred to as a “quayer de l’ordre”--, most often in manuscript form and copied on vellum. Following the death of a given knight, it was agreed that the copy of the Statutes should return to the Archives of the Order. However this rule was not rigorously respected and certain copies of the Statutes remained in circulation.

The present manuscript presents no heraldic evidence (emblems such as the famous hanging Golden Fleece or arms of a particular member) or other traces of ownership attributable to a recorded member of the Order of the Golden Fleece. It is quite possible that any elements of previous ownership were lost when the manuscript was rebound, less that fifty years after the last date quoted, that of the chapter held in Tournai in 1531. It is rare to find manuscripts of the Statutes without any illustrations or heraldry. In his study of the various known copies of the Statutes, J. Lemaire records only two unillustrated and undecorated copies (Brussels, BR, MS II 6288 and a Dutch version The Hague, KB 133 M 100) (see Lemaire in Cockshaw et alia, 1996, p. 35).

This manuscript is a copy of the Statutes, realized in 1531 after the chapter held in Tournai, and contains the eleven added articles quoted in Korteweg’s study. The manuscript was copied certainly before 1545, the year of the chapter held in Utrecht where a new draft of the Statutes was voted with 68 articles rather than the traditional 66. During the chapter of 1531, complaints were voiced concerning the numerous copies of the Statutes in circulation whose content was both erroneous and incomplete. Hence the greffier Laurent de Blioul was ordered by Charles V to have 50 new exemplars copied, some in French, others in Latin, complete with the eleven added articles, to be distributed to all knights. Only sixteen were actually completed, and of these only 10 survive. The present manuscript is probably one of these “revised” copies (Korteweg, in Cockshaw et alia, p. 43). Subsequent editions of the Statutes were printed not written by hand. (see De Bloul and Gerstinger for a modern edition).

BINDING
This manuscript was bound in Paris some fifty years after its confection, testifying to its appreciation by subsequent owners. The binding can be dated c. 1580-1590 and, although not yet securely identified, it certainly warrants further study. Noteworthy are the small and rare Arma Christi stamp found in the four cornerpieces. The following preliminary comparisons can be made.

The foliate motifs and laurel wreath, as well as the tight semé decoration, can be compared to the prestigious binding attributed to the Eve bindery (Nicolas and Clovis Eve). Nicolas Eve was the royal binder during the reign of Henry III, while his son, Clovis Eve, was the royal binder during the greater portion of the reigns of Henry IV and Louis XIII (See A. Hobson, Italian and French 16th-century Bookbindings, no. 62: “Reliure parisienne au semé, avec décor de feuillage, c. 1581 ”; P. Needham, Twelve Centuries…, no. 94, pp. 290-293: Binding by the Eve shop for Henri III, Paris, c. 1583-1585, on the Second livre des armoyries des cardinaulx, prelats…receuz en l’ordre du Sainct Esprit [illuminated manuscript on vellum, Paris, circa 1583-1585, now Pierpont Morgan Library, M. 927]). Our binding presents a very similar spine and semé motifs on boards as that of the latter manuscript. Needham notes that records show that the Eves bound on several occasions the official books of the Order of the Saint-Esprit, and from the identification of these volumes and the tools they used other bindings can be attributed the their shop. Nicolas Eve died before 1582. Between 1582 and 1584, his widow ran his workshop, which was taken over in 1584 by his son Clovis (pp. 290 and 293). Many other comparisons can be cited (e.g., Devauchelle, La reliure en France, vol. I, pl. LX, “décor aux branchages” associated with Nicolas Eve; Devaux, Dix siècles de reliure, p. 107 [on a book printed in Paris in 1586]; Weale, Bookbindings and Rubbings…, vol. I, p. CIII; Kyriss, E., “Pariser Einbände der 2 Hälfte des 16 Jahrhunderts,” in Archiv für Geschichte des Buchwesens, X (1969-1970), pp. 850 and 859: central laurel foliate wreath close to L2, on printed editions dated respectively 1580-1585).

The rare and interesting Arma Christi tool in the cornerpieces is close to that found on a binding that might have been owned by the Rohan family (Needham, P., Twelve Centuries…, no. 93, pp. 287-290: Semé binding with Crucifixion symbols, possible made for the Rohan family, Paris, 1580-1590 [Pierpont Morgan Library, M. 292]. Such a comparison reinforces the hypothesis regarding the sixteenth-century provenance of the present manuscript.

Literature

Cockshaw, P. and Christiane Van den Bergen-Pantens. L'ordre de la Toison d'or de Philippe le Bon à Philippe le Beau, 1430-1505: idéal ou reflet d'une société ?, Bibliothèque royale de Belgique, [Turnhout], Brepols; Bruxelles, Bibliothèque royale de Belgique, 1996; see in particular: Lemaire, J. “Considérations codicologiques sur les manuscrits des Statuts de l’ordre de la Toison d’or,” pp. 31-38; Korteweg, A. “Le manuscrit KB 76 E 14 de La Haye, le contenu et la décoration des livres des Statuts aux XVe et XVIe siècles,” pp. 39-46.

De Bloul, L. Statuts de l’ordre de la Toison d’or, cérémonial, liste de chevaliers, Paris, Champion, 1922.

De Gruben, Françoise. Les chapitres de la Toison d'or à l'époque bourguignonne (1430-1477), Leuven, Leuven University Press, 1997.

Dogaer, G. “Des anciens livres des statuts manuscrits de l’ordre de la Toison d’or,” in Publications du centre européen d’études burgundo-médianes, no. 5 (1963), pp. 65-70.

[Exhibition, Bruges, 1907]. Exposition de la Toison d'or à Bruges, juin-octobre 1907, Bruxelles, Librairie nationale d'art et d'histoire, 1907

[Exhibition, Bruges, 1962]. La Toison d'or: cinq siècles d'art et d'histoire. Exposition organisée par le Ministère de l'Education nationale et de la culture et la Ville de Bruges au Musée communal des beaux-arts, Musée Groeninge..., 14 juillet-30 septembre 1962, Bruges, 1962.

Gestinger, H. Le livre des ordonnances de l’ordre de la Toison d’Or, Vienna, 1934.

Le Mausolée de la Toison d’Or, ou les tombeaux des chefs et chevaliers du noble ordre de la Toison d’Or…, A Amsterdam, chez Henri Desbordes, et se vendent à Bruxelles, chez Gille Serstevens, 1689.

La Toison d'or ou Recueil des statuts et ordonnances du noble de la toison d'or, leurs confirmations, changemens, additions, cérémonies, immunitez, exemptions, prééminences, honneurs et Bulles papales depuis l'institution jusques à présent. Avec les remarques sur le contenu desdits statuts et ordonnances, Cologne, Pierre Sweitzer, 1689.

Online resources

Society of the Golden Fleece (with many links, including a listing of members)
http://www.antiquesatoz.com/sgfleece/

Chivalric Orders
http://www.chivalricorders.org/orders/other/goldflee.htm

headerDeco