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JEAN DE HAYNIN, Description de l’ensevelissement de Philippe le Bon and Complainte des neuf pays du Duc de Bourgogne [Accounts of Funeral Processions and Obsequies of Princes of the Burgundian and Habsburg Netherlands]; Florilegium of Classical Authors on Funerary Rites, Burials, and the Afterlife

In French and Latin, illustrated manuscript on paper
Eastern Flanders, c. 1470 with additions 1500-1600

TM 738

104 leaves on paper, three watermarks present in the paper stock: [i] in the first quire only, a bull’s head with eyes and snout, lacking nostrils, above which a shaft ascends and terminates with a star, an identical match for Piccard-Online 80068 (attested 1469-70); [ii] and [iii], a pair of Gothic letters P, one with a short bar across the lower shaft and the other with the remnant of such a bar, the first near-identical to Piccard-Online 108175 (attested 1510), its pair unidentified, but closely comparable in shape and measurements to Piccard, P, II 599 (attested 1525), foliation in pencil, added at the time of the present description top, right-hand corner recto, complete (collation i-xiii8), in quarto, written in at least five hands: [i] ff. 2-7v, a fine cursiva libraria (lettre bâtarde) with neatly-executed calligraphic initials, typical of northern French scripts in the second half of the fifteenth century in brown ink on 16-18 unruled lines (justification c. 140 x c. 90 mm.); [ii] ff. 8v-10v, 36v-38, 39v-41v, and 43-53v, a sixteenth-century cursive script in light brown ink; [iii] ff. 12v, 95-100, and 103-104v, a sixteenth-century humanist cursive exclusively on f. 12v and for headings on ff. 95-100 and 103-104v, with a small, neat, standard cursive used by the same hand for the main text on those leaves in black ink; [iv] ff. 13-32v and 35-36, a sixteenth-century cursive script, more hastily executed than [ii], in dark brown and black inks; [v] ff. 33r-v, a sixteenth-century humanist cursive in very light brown ink; hands [ii] – [v] all on wholly irregular numbers of unruled lines, illumination, all rather crudely executed, ff. 5v-7v, 22v-23, and 35v, a total of twenty-six small heraldic devices, mostly penwork with some colours added, f. 12v, a half-page illustration in painted penwork of the personal arms of Philibert de Châlon, Prince of Orange, and the arms of his territories, f. 1v, FULL-PAGE ILLUMINATION of the arms of Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, the painted shield surrounded by the collar and pendant of the Order of the Golden Fleece, and surmounted by a crown, added in penwork, f. 7v, the printed and coloured Heurne ex-libris, 73 x 56 mm., glued in; ff. 11-12, 34r-v, 38v, 42r-v, 54-94v and 100v-102v are blank. The quires are sewn onto two small leather blocks, the first and last with parchment reinforcements, these blocks then sewn straight onto a parchment wrapper to form a “Kopert” (limp-vellum) binding, the ‘envelope’ now tucked under the last leaf and too brittle to wrap around the book block and so be used as intended. The book-block is intact, but now detached from the parchment cover, which is worn and damaged at the top; the book-block is very dirty and bumped at the top, and has absorbed a spillage of blue ink. Dimensions (parchment cover) 205 x 150 mm.; (book block) 205 x 147 mm.

With extensive heraldic illustration, this manuscript is an excellent example of a collection of accounts of princely funerals, or “obsequies”, that became an established genre by the early sixteenth century. It testifies to the continuity in courtly ceremonial and late chivalric culture in the Low Countries from Burgundian to Habsburg rule. A very early copy of the account of the funeral of Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, as well as the poetic reflection on his death by the Burgundian chronicler Jean de Haynin (both known in very few manuscripts), are included with related accounts of the funeral processions and obsequies of the princes and rulers of the formerly Burgundian Netherlands added forty or fifty years later.  


1. This manuscript consists of two production units, the first of which (the first quire only) can be dated on its watermarks to c. 1470, and is thus about 40-50 years older than the second (quires 2-13). The original provenance of the first quire is unknown. The high standard of execution of the script, and the generous layout with wide margins – evidence of aggressive trimming on the upper margin suggests that this quire was originally somewhat taller and wider, and was later cut down when bound to the second production unit – indicate a product of high quality. Taken together with the content of this quire, Jean de Haynin’s account of the funeral procession of Philip the Good in 1467 with his poetic reflection on his death, we might well think in terms of a quire produced for a nobleman or a wealthy urban patrician with aspirations to noble mores. The full-page illumination of the arms of Philip the Good on f. 1v is almost certainly a later addition. Its execution is too crude to be compatible with the elegant script, and it is likely the work of the later illuminator responsible for the heraldry in the second production unit.

2. Adolf van Heurne, and subsequently (his son?) Jan van Heurne: their names, entered successively on f. 1r; the inscription on the back cover, now only fully visible under ultra-violet light, and partially torn away, “Pomp[es et Ob]seques [funer---] | de p[l--] princes et prin[cesses] | A heurne”; the bookplate affixed to f. 7v, bearing the printed inscription “INVICTA VERITAS | HEURNE.” It is presumably Adolf van Heurne who was responsible for the construction of the book as it now exists, given the inscription of his name onto the back cover. The name Horne/Heurne occurs with some frequency in Flanders and the southern Low Countries, both as a toponym and a personal name. Adolf was not a member of the aristocratic Huis Horne/Heurne, as their coat of arms, with its distinctive posthorns, is not that depicted on the bookplate. The final identification of this coat of arms will ultimately provide the clinching evidence. These arms must derive from an association with the municipality of Heurne in East Flanders, just north of Oudenaarde: the arms of this Heurne confirmed in 1841, argent an English shield sable below three birds (martlets?) close sable, is found in the first and fourth quarters of the arms on this bookplate. A prominent local family with the name van Heurne, derived from the toponym of this Heurne near Oudenaarde, is documented from the mid-fourteenth century (Castelain, 2001). An Adolf van Heurne (d. 7 June 1523), a descendant of one branch of this family in Oudenaarde, married Jeanne le Poyvre (d. 15 July 1517) and had a son named Jan van Heurne (d. 25 August 1566) (Online Resources below), and these could well be the two successive owners of this manuscript. A similar manuscript with obsequies, some for the same individuals as in this manuscript, was given in 1597 by Isabelle de Lalaing, viscountess of Oudenaarde, to her son Philippe le Poyvre (now Brussels, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, MS 7386-94): her husband, and Philippe’s father, was Louis le Poyvre (d. 1592), son of Jean le Poyvre (d. 1547) and Agnes van Heurne (d. 1538). She, in turn, was cousin to the Jan van Heurne named above: for this manuscript see Vale, 1996, pp. 922-23.

3. The subsequent provenance is unknown.


[f. 1v, FULL-PAGE ILLUMINATION of the arms of Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy]; ff. 2-7v, incipit, “Mon tiesredoubte signeur monsigneur le duc philippe de bourgogne trespassa /  de ce siecle lan mil iiijc .lxvij. le lundj .xv.e jour de Juing entre .ix. et .x. heures dela nuit / on xlvij.e an de son Rengne /. le corpz mort fu laissiet sur son lit aiant…”, heading (f. 5), Complainte des pays, incipit (f. 5v), “Bourgongne. Plorer me fault Je ne me puis tenir | Pour tant qui Jai lecorpz decapite | Plaisant solas me soloit maintenir | Pensant tel estre a tous jours respite…”, explicit (f. 7v), “Sainte es sains cieux sans vire et sans virgongne | Suplie adieu la comte de bourgongne | Amen;”

Jean de Haynin (d. 1485), Description de l’ensevelissement de Philippe le Bon and Complainte des neuf pays du Duc de Bourgogne. We are surprisingly well-informed about the death and burial of the Burgundian Duke Philip the Good in 1467. Aside from the normative accounts of the chroniclers Georges Chastelain and Jacques du Clercq, we have an eyewitness account of Philip’s death from the royal apothecary Poly Bulland (edited by Lemaire, 1910); an anonymous account of the funeral itself (edited by Lory, 1865-69), and a full statement of the costs incurred in assisting the ailing Duke and then in staging his funeral from Charles the Bold’s treasurer Barthélémy Trotin (edited by Gaude-Ferragu, 2005, pp. 355-64).

This account, written by the Burgundian chronicler Jean de Haynin, is followed by his Complainte des neuf pays: a poem in nine verses of eight lines, which reflects on the death of Duke Philip. It is structured as a kind of acrostic. The first letter in each line of a verse is always the same, so that the verses together spell PHILIPPUS (with i/j and u/v interchangeable). The Complainte des neuf pays was edited by Leroux de Lincy in 1841 (pp. 363-67, no. 30); the Description de l’ensevelissement and the Complainte des neuf pays are transmitted together in four manuscripts, with the Complainte transmitted on its own in a further four (see the JONAS database in Online Resources below for details). This was not the only piece of political poetry composed in response to Philip’s death: another poem on the same theme was edited by De Baecker in 1855 (pp. 207-10, with the Complainte des neuf pays noted at p. 348). In the case of de Haynin’s Complainte des neuf pays, the nine constituent lands of the Burgundian realm lament the passing of their lost “head”, the use of personified polities in this way intended to suggest – and potentially create – a unity potentially fragile upon the death of the ruler (see Wodsak, 1985, pp. 56-57).

The funeral of Philip the Good was a symbolically important affair, with rituals stage-managed to present the transfer of rule to his son, Charles the Bold. It was a significantly grander funeral of larger scale than those of the late medieval Kings of France. For the first time, it appropriated elements of royal practice: notably the canopy displaying the fleur-de-lys held above the body of the Duke in the funeral cortege, and the transfer from the dead father to the living son of the chapeau ducal, which now resembled a royal crown rather than a traditional ducal hat or circlet. The ceremony has to be seen in the context of Charles the Bold’s ambitions to royalty: his refusal to do homage to the French king, his establishment of an independent Burgundian parliament, and his negotiations with the Holy Roman Empire for the revival of the ancient royal title of Burgundy. For Philip’s death, see Baveye 2011, with a useful discussion of sources; for his funeral and its wider significance, see Giesey, 1960, pp. 136-37, and especially Gaude-Ferragu, 2005, 229-36.

ff. 8-10v, incipit (f. 8), “Sensieult l’ordre qui fut tenue a lobseque de feu Messieur Jacques de Luxembourg Seigneur de Fiennes qui morut aux Chartreux aupres de Gand le xij de juillet 1517 | Premier | Jeudi xxiij dudit mois fut amene le corps dudit deffunct…” [ff. 11-12, blank];

f. 12v, heading, D. O. M. Et Christipare Virgini a Laureto ex voto sacrum Illustrissimi Philiberti Principis Elogium, incipit, “Burgundus Gallus Princeps Horengius alta | Caballione potens, Heu Philibertus eram | Partenope rex i Prorex: Victrica Quintus | Carolus…”;

ff. 13-32v, incipit (f. 13), “Obseques et pompes funeralles du feu Tresnoble et reverandes (?) memoirs Treshault Tresillustre et victorieux prince Messieur Philibert de Chalon Prince Dorenge Chevalier de Lordre de la Toyson dor Vice Roy de naplis…”;

ff. 33r-v, incipit, “Iam breuis vi[t]a capit que non capiebat amictu | nec poterant illum Regna satis ampla tenere | Cui subacta manus. supplex florentia tendit | Impia mors premit que nulli parrere nouit | Si queras Lector quid tegat hic tumulus? | Integritas, Iustitia, fides, …” [f. 34rv, blank];

ff. 35-36, incipit (f. 35), “Sensieult l’ordre de la procession de doel (?) aulx obseques de feu Monseigneur de Beures Adolf de Bourgogne. Admiral de la Mer etc. Pour la procession les emfans descole…”;

ff. 36v-38, incipit (f. 36v), “L’ordre tenu a Lobseque et pompe funeralle de Monseigneur Philippe de Claues seigneur Rauestain et Winendale celebre a Bruxelles Au conuent des freres prescheurs ou le corps est inhume en sa chappelle…” [f. 38v, blank];

ff. 39-41v, incipit (f. 39), “Copie dunge exclamation faicte sur la mort de feu Monseigneur de Bourbon qui morut a Lassault de Rome le vj jour de may 1528 [sic]…” [f. 42rv, blank];

ff. 43-53v, incipit (f. 43), “Lordre qui fut tenue au Funerauls obseques du feu Roy Catholicque Ferdinand et vidant hors la maison du [feu Roy: crossed out] Prinche de castille en sa ville de Bruxelles Le xiije jour de march jour (?) xv deuant pasques….” [ff. 54-94v, blank];

Descriptions of the funeral processions and obsequies for Jacques de Luxembourg, Lord of Fiennes, and knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece, d. 1517 (ff. 8-10v); Philibert de Châlon, Prince of Orange, and knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece, d. 1530 (ff. 13-32v), preceded by a Latin epitaph (f. 12v) and followed by a Latin memorial inscription (ff. 33r-v); Adolf of Burgundy, Lord of Veere, Admiral of the Netherlands, and knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece, d. 1540 (ff. 35-36); Philip of Cleves, Lord of Ravenstein and Wijnendale, d. 1528 (ff. 36v-38); Charles III, Duke of Bourbon, d. 1527 (ff. 39-41v), and King Ferdinand II of Aragon and V of Castile, d. 1516 (ff. 43-53v).

From the later fourteenth century onwards, starting with Louis II de Male, Count of Flanders (d. 1384), we witness the emergence of semi-official reports on the funerals of princes, now composed independently of the chronicles in which such information was hitherto to be found. These brief reports became more elaborate accounts in the course of the fifteenth century, and developed into a literary genre in their own right. At the start of the sixteenth century, we begin to find manuscripts in which these accounts were collected together. They are all, as this present example, products of the Low Countries, mostly Flemish: see Vale, 1996, pp. 922-24, and Gaude-Ferragu, 2005, pp. 27-28 and 370-72 (with a helpful list of selected manuscripts and printed sources).

The particular collection in this manuscript includes some accounts (such as that for Jacques de Luxembourg, Lord of Fiennes) that are quite brief, and consist of not much more than an annotated list of those who formed the procession at his funeral, alongside other, rather more detailed accounts. These give valuable insight into the chivalric culture at the very end of the Middle Ages, with their detail of clothing, heraldry, and ritual. Later hands have interpolated occasional texts of Latin epitaphs for individuals whose funerals are described here. The texts are anonymous, but the authors may well have been heralds. Accounts of funerals and obsequies are also found in heralds’ compendia, and they are closely related in terms of content to the normative ceremonial texts that most certainly have heralds as their authors (for which see Gaude-Ferragu, 2005, pp. 28-29, and Hiltmann, 2011, pp. 292-300 and 447-48). A similar manuscript to this one (Lille, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 320) was even copied by Guillaume Rugher, herald-at-arms of the county of Hainaut. It shares with this manuscript the accounts of the funerals of Jacques de Luxembourg, Philip of Cleves, and Philibert de Châlon, although its total contents are considerably more extensive.

This literary genre of “obsequies”, accounts of princely funerals, developed and entrenched a nascent Burgundian courtly tradition in the period of Habsburg rule of the Low Countries that followed the death of Charles the Bold in 1477, the last Valois Duke of Burgundy in the male line. This continuity in both ceremonial and literary representation stands in tension with the political breach (for which point see the case-study presented by Vale, 1996, pp. 924-38). This manuscript is a physical manifestation of that continuity: a quire produced at the apogee of Burgundian power is here augmented, probably in the second decade of the sixteenth century (certainly prior to the death of Adolf van Heurne in 1523), with new quires intended to be filled with the modern-day accounts of princely obsequies, Flanders now firmly under Habsburg rule.

ff. 95-100, heading, In Exequiis veterum quid fieri solebat, incipit, “Suetonis in uita Cęsaris dictatoris. Intraque lectus eburneus, auro et purpura stratus, et ad caput trophaeum cum veste, in qua fuerat occisus. Preferentibus munera (quia suffecturus dies non videbatur) preceptum est, vt omisso ordine…” [f. 100v-102v, blank];

Excerpts from the classics, selected for their descriptions of funerary rites and burials. The collection contains a total of 28 excerpts, starting with a quotation from Suetonius’ Life of Julius Caesar, c. 84, with the description of Caesar’s lying in state after his murder. This is followed by quotations of varying length from Tacitus’ Germania (5); Virgil’s Aeneid (4); three of the six fictive authors of the Augustan History (Trebellius Pollio, Aelius Spartianus, and Iulius Capitolinus; one each); Appian of Alexandria’s Roman History (one); Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars (one); Livy’s History of Rome (3); Cicero’s De legibus and Oratio pro Flacco (one each); Homer’s Iliad, in the translations that circulated under the names of Pindarus Thebanus (2) and Niccolo Valla (2), and Herodian’s Roman History (one), together with three more quotations from Suetonius’ Lives of the Caesars.

ff. 103-104v, heading, Que Antiquitas credidit de immortalitate [anime] et operum retributione, incipit, “Maro Eneidos de campis elyseis. Devenere locos lętus et amena vireta | Fortunatorum nemorum, sedesque beatas | Largior hic campos ether et lumine vestit | Purpureo, solemque suum sua sidera norunt….”

A second collection of quotations from the classics, this time on the subject of the afterlife. The collection begins with the description of the Elysian fields from Virgil’s Aeneid, c. 6, ll. 638-47 and 673-74, followed by quotations from Tibullus’ Elegies (2), Cicero’s De legibus and Philippics (one each), Nonius Marcellus’ De compendiosa doctrina (one), and the De excidio Troiae attributed to Dares Phrygius (one); a blank space is left on f. 103v for a second quotation from the Aeneid, for which the heading was supplied, but the text never entered.


Baveye, Laurie. “La mort de Philippe le Bon, duc de Bourgogne (15 juin 1467) d’après une lettre de son apothicaire Poly Bulland et les comptes des funérailles de ce prince”, Cour de France.fr (2011), http://cour-de-france-fr./article2123.html

de Baecker, Louis, ed. Chants historiques de la Flandre, 400-1650, Lille, 1855.

Castelain, Rik. “De familie van Heurne, oudst bekende eigenaars van het Torregoed in Heurne”, Handelingen van de Geschied- en Oudheidkundige Kring van Oudenaarde 38 (2001), pp. 323-26.

Gaude-Ferragu, Murielle. D’Or et de cendres. La mort et les funérailles des princes dans le royaume de France au bas Moyen Âge, Villeneuve-d’Ascq, 2005.

Giesey, Ralph E. The Royal Funeral Ceremony in Renaissance France, Travaux d’Humanisme et Renaissance 37, Geneva, 1960.

Hiltmann, Torsten. Spätmittelalterliche Heroldskompendien. Referenzen adeliger Wissenskultur in Zeiten gesellschaftlichen Wandels (Frankreich und Burgund, 15. Jahrhundert), Pariser Historische Studien 92, Munich, 2011.

Lemaire, L. “La Mort de Philippe le Bon, duc de Bourgogne (15 juin 1467)”, Revue du Nord 1 (1910), pp. 321-26.

Leroux de Lincy, [Antoine]. Recueil de chants historiques français depuis le XIIe jusqu’au XVIIIe siècle, Paris, 1841.

Lory, Ernest-Léon. “Les Obsèques de Philippe-le-Bon, duc de Bourgogne, mort a Bruges en 1467”, Mémoires de la Commission des Antiquités du Département de la Côte-d’Or 7 (1865-69), pp. 215-46.

Piccard, Gerhard. Wasserzeichen Buchstabe P, Veröffentlichungen der staatlichen Archivverwaltung Baden-Württemberg. Sonderreihe. Die Wasserzeichenkartei Piccard im Hauptstaatsarchiv Stuttgart. Findbuch 4, 3 vols, Stuttgart, 1977.

Vale, Malcolm. “A Burgundian Funeral Ceremony: Olivier de la Marche and the Obsequies of Adolf of Cleves, Lord of Ravenstein”,English Historical Review 111 (1996), pp. 920-38.

Wodsak, Monika. Die Complainte. Zur Geschichte einer französischen Populärgattung, Studia Romanica 60, Heidelberg, 1985.

Online resources

Arms of Heurne (Oudenaarde)

Epitaph of Philibert de Chalon in Lons-le-Saunier

Genealogy of Adolf van Heurne

JONAS database: manuscripts of Jean de Haynin, Description de l’ensevelissement de Philippe le Bon, duc de Bourgogne

JONAS database: manuscripts of Jean de Haynin, Complainte des neuf pays du Duc de Bourgogne

Suetonius, Vita divi Iulii (Latin text)

Stuttgart, Hauptstaatsarchiv, Bestand J 340: Wasserzeichensammlung Piccard

Virgil, Aeneid (Latin text)