TextmanuscriptTextmanuscripts - Les Enluminures

les Enluminures


In French, illuminated manuscript scroll on parchment
France, Paris, c. 1461

TM 309

Two sheets of a scroll, on parchment, lacking at top and bottom, dorse blank, the second sheet numbered “14” in modern pencil in the right margin and “15” in pencil by a slightly earlier hand, also in the right margin, written in brown ink in a bâtarde script by a single scribe, text copied in four or five columns (85 mm. wide), approximately 100 lines per sheet, ruled in light brown plummet (justification 423 mm), genealogical medallions throughout in red ink (35 mm diameter, drawn with a compass) connected by red lines, three-line-high initials throughout in gold leaf on a blue background filled with dark salmon (or vice versa) with white geometric tracery, one-line paragraph markers throughout in same scheme, three medallion miniatures with cusped borders (73 mm diameter), sheets attached by paste with 20 mm overlap, no spindles. Some water stains and tearing at edges, but otherwise in excellent condition. Dimensions 1245 x 560 mm. (originally approximately 18 meters long).

Two sheets of the Chronique Anonyme Universelle, a popular but unpublished anonymous universal chronicle originally compiled around the year 1415 and preserved in twenty-nine known fifteenth-century copies. This copy is beautifully illuminated with three miniatures by the Parisian workshop that produced five other copies of the text around the year 1461.


1. Written and illuminated in Paris around the year 1461 in the same workshop that produced copies of the Chronique currently preserved in Leeds, London, Paris, and Princeton, New Jersey (see ILLUMINATIONS, below). Because two of these, Leeds and BnF, MS nouv. acq. fr. 1493, represent the same recension as the present copy and can be dated to around 1461 based on the explicit of their genealogies, this copy was likely produced at the same time. Possibly part of the same scroll as the sheet preserved at the Centre Jean d’Arc in Orléans (MS 35)--the writing space, artist, and script are identical, along with other codicological features, and both preserve a pencil number in the right margin indicating the original sheet number. The second sheet of the present scroll is labeled no. 14 by a modern hand, and no. 15 by a slightly earlier hand, indicating that by the time of the later hand the first sheet of what had been the extant portion of the scroll was already lost. The CJA sheet is labeled no. 18 by the later hand, and was one of the last few sheets of the scroll. The amount of missing text would have perfectly filled the intervening three sheets. Based on the amount of missing text above the present sheets, it can be calculated that there were originally about 24 sheets preceding these two, and at least five following (the leaf in Orléans, the three intervening sheets, and at least one more following Orléans). With an average sheet length of 622.5 mm, the total scroll of 31 sheets would have measured about 18 meters, nearly exactly the same length as Leeds and BnF, MS nouv. acq. fr. 1493. There is unfortunately no way to ascertain the original chronological extent of the scroll, so this calculation is approximate.

2. Private Collection, France.


Col. 1, Chronicle of Popes, begins imperfectly, “…du saint esperit et mourut a pyse et la fut mis en sepulture etc./Iullius de la nascion de romme fut pape ii ans ii moy vi iours…/…Explicit./ Cy ne parle plus des papes pour la division qui a este puis en saincte eglise que diet veulle admender etc.”;

The Popes from the middle of the reign of Innocent III (1198-1216) to the reign, but not the death, of Urban VI (1378-1389), agreeing with all other known copies by inserting Pope Julius I in the wrong place (after Innocent III) and skipping Pope Adrian V. The genealogical diagram in the left margin corresponds with the text;

Col. 2, Chronicle of Holy Roman Emperors, “Apres ces choses les romains qui par devant sestoyent parties par signe damour et de obedience de constantin…/…pour cause de ses ennemis qui lempescherent a puis mourut lan de grace ixciiii ans etc.”;

The Holy Roman Emperors from Charlemagne (800-814) to Louis III (901-905), skipping Louis II, Guy III, Lambert II, and Arnulf (as in other copies of this recension). The genealogical diagram between the first and second columns corresponds with the text. Emperor Louis III is followed by a blank medallion inserted by mistake. The line then leading off the page would have eventually led to a miniature of Emperor Berengario I;

Col. 3, Chronicle of French Kings, “Apres le roy Robert regna henry son fils et commenca lan mil xxxi et ot a femme anne la fille george lesclavon…/…et charles le conte de vallois et laultre femme fut marie qui fut fille au duc…[ends imperfectly];

The Kings of France from Henry I (r. 1031-1060) to Philip le Hardi (i.e. Philip III, r. 1270-1285), skipping Philip I as in most copies (although Philip is always present in the genealogical diagram). Because this is a francophilic manuscript throughout, the genealogical diagram for the French royal line is given in great detail; in these sheets, it proceeds as far as Charles IV (r. 1322-1328). The line of France here begins with Louis le Gros (i.e. Louis VI), his sister Constance, and his wife Alips (i.e. Adelaide), and continues down to St. Louis, who is depicted in miniature surrounded by six brothers and sisters. He is shown to have had nine children, one of whom became the next king, Philip le Hardi (i.e. Philip III). Philip had two wives, Isabel and Marie. Here, Marie is correctly shown to have been the mother of three children; Margaret (later queen of England), Marie (later Duchess of Austria), and Louis (the Count d’Evreux). In nearly every copy of the Chronique, the position of these wives is reversed and Isabel is shown as mother to these three, although the text is always accurate. The present copy is one of only four copies (including Leeds) to represent correctly these two women. At this point, the genealogy is somewhat corrupt, although it does correspond with other copies of the Chronique. The wife at the right, whether said to be Isabel or Marie, is shown to have had three children as well. Her son Louis is mistakenly said to have been king for one year (in fact, he was never king and died at age ten), and is then succeeded by his completely fictional son John, who is said to have been king for a day and a half (these two are almost certainly mistaken representations of the later king Louis X, who reigned for just under two years, and his infant son John, who lived for only five days). The other two sons are accurate - Charles Count of Valois and Philip (later King Philip le Bel, i.e. Philip IV). A long line leads from Charles off the bottom of the page, and would have eventually led to a miniature of Philip VI, the first king of the Valois line. Philip le Bel is shown with his three sons (Charles IV, Philip V, and Louis X) and daughter Isabel (later queen of England as the wife of Edward II – a line leading from her medallion off the page would have led to Edward’s medallion in the English column at the right). A combination of wives and daughters of Charles, Philip, and Louis are shown below, although not always correctly. The lack of surviving sons of these three kings led to the downfall of the Capetians and the coronation of Philip of Valois;

Col. 4, Chronicle of the Crusades, begins imperfectly, “niques et la prindrent par force et apres ce tancret conquest la terre de tarce solice mais le frere godefroy de billon luy tollit…/…apres a tressi il cheut de dessus son cheval et se tua si… “[ends imperfectly];

The Kings of Jerusalem from Godfrey de Bouillon’s siege of Nicaea in 1097 through the conquest of Jerusalem and his coronation in 1099 and the reign of kings Baldwin I and Baldwin II. The scroll then expands to five columns, continuing the saga of the kings of Jerusalem with the reign of King Fulk (r. 1131-1143) in the narrow fourth column. The genealogical tree between the third and fourth columns begins with crusaders Baldwin de Bouillon and Bohemond Prince of Antioch and his wife Constance (herself a daughter of the French king Philip I--she is shown a second time at the left as the sister of Louis le Gros), and shows the succession of the kings of Jerusalem from Godfrey through Baldwin IV (r. 1174-1185);

Col. 5, Chronicle of the Kings of England, “Cy parle du roy Richard dangleterre que le duc dosteriche tint en prinson par moult longtemps etc./Apres hanry regna Richard fort home…/…il se mist au retour mais le duc… “[ends imperfectly];

King Richard I of England (r. 1189-1199). The long line in the right margin would have descended from the English King John I (with whom the genealogy leaves off when the Crusades section intervenes) and here continues the line of English kings with Henry III and his son Edmond, with another long line leading off the page which would have eventually led to a miniature of Edward I. The medallion for King Richard, brother to John I and his predecessor on the throne, would have been found further up in the scroll, before the Crusades section, although the corresponding text is actually found later in the scroll, after the present sheets;

In its original complete form, this Chronique would have told the history of the world from Creation to the fifteenth century, including the stories of the Bible, the Trojans, King Lear, and King Arthur, among many others. All known copies conclude with Pope Urban VI (as here), the coronation of Emperor Louis IV in 1328, and the coronation of the English King Henry IV in 1399. The French section is expanded to reach the scribe’s present day, in this case probably extending at least as far as the death of King Charles VII in 1461.


Three medallion miniatures by the artist of copies preserved at the University of Leeds (MS Brotherton 100), the Princeton University Art Museum (MS 5), the British Library (MS Add. 27539) and the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris (BnF, MS nouv. acq. fr. 1493 and 1495), distinguished by perspective interiors with arched doorways at the sides and arched leaded windows at the back, green tiled floors, gilt drapery, and gold-scroll backgrounds. Facial features are somewhat hurried and indistinct, although careful attention is paid to architectural and sartorial detail. Marigold Norbye states that they are in a style reminiscent of that of the Maître François, active in Paris c. 1460-80, and F. Avril has confirmed this attribution (Norbye, 2004, p. 121). In each case, the heading of the following paragraph also functions as a caption for the miniature.

1. Charlemagne enthroned as Holy Roman Emperor. In a perspective interior, Charlemagne sits in a gold-scroll canopied throne holding orb and scepter. The caption is cut off above, but would have read “Cy commence la division et translacion des grecs a ceux de france de quoy charlemaigne le noble roy de france fut esleu le premier empereur de romme de ceux de france” [roughly, “Here begins the division and transfer [of power] from the Greeks to the French by whom Charlemagne the noble king of France was elected the first French Emperor of Rome”].

2. Godfrey de Bouillon enthroned as King of Jerusalem. Nearly identical to the previous miniature, but the king holds a scepter only. The caption reads “Comment godefroy de billon conquest ierusalem et en fut fait roy etc” [“How Godfrey de Bouillon conquered Jerusalem and was made king”].

3.St. Louis onboard ship. St. Louis and his be-speared army onboard a large wooden ship with sails unfurled, en route to attack England. The caption reads “Comment monseigneur saint louis conquist et desconfist le roi dangleterre” [“How My Lord St. Louis conquered and defeated the king of England”]. This is a unique subject for this point in the scroll – in all other copies except Leeds, the image is of St. Louis standing or enthroned. In Leeds, the English and French armies are shown at war.

National genealogies were very popular in the fifteenth century, and served to validate the ruling houses of one country while simultaneously disproving the royal claims of another. The scroll format was ideal for presenting such genealogies as it allowed for “scrolling” through a family tree easily and clearly.

The Chronique anonyme universelle (a supplied title) was originally compiled around the year 1415--the earliest copy is preserved at the National Library of Russia in St. Petersburg (MS fr. folio v I.9 and MS fr. folio v IV.14) and can be dated between 1409 and 1415 based on the explicit of its genealogical tree. Later copies extend the French section to include the reigns of Charles VI and Charles VII, with some extending as far as Louis XI. The manuscript is laid out as a chronicle in four columns, from left to right the Bible and Popes, Emperors of Rome and the Holy Roman Empire, the history of France, and the history of England, with a discursion into the Crusades (preserved in these sheets) briefly displacing the British matter at the far right. Richly illustrated and accompanied by detailed genealogical diagrams, the Chronique was almost certainly intended for a noble audience, designed to emphasize the nobility of the French royal family by tracing its decent from the Trojans and Charlemagne.

Several copies are known to have a noble provenance. The copy currently preserved at the Bibliothèque Royale in Brussels is known to have belonged in the fifteenth century to Artus de Montauban, Archbishop of Bordeaux (1468-1478), connected to the royal family through his mother Beatrice d’Armagnac, whose brother Bernard VII Count d’Armagnac was a strong supporter of Charles Duke d’Orléans against the Burgundians and the Valois. His cousin Bonne was Charles’s first wife; in spite of this familial loyalty, it was King Louis XI, the son of Charles’ rival Charles VII, who appointed Artus as Archbishop. The copy preserved at the Houghton Library of Harvard University bears the fifteenth-century arms of the Gavre family of Liedekerke, a Flemish region also known for its opposition to the Burgundians in the fifteenth century. The Hauck copy is said to have been part of the French royal library, looted during the Revolution in 1792.

Sources for the sections preserved here include a French translation of a rare Papal chronicle written by a Roman monk known only as Gilbert (although the section that is a translation of Gilbert’s chronicle ends quickly here, with the out-of-sequence Julius I), the French national history known as A Tous Nobles, the anonymous French translation of William of Tyre’s Historia rerum in partibus transmarinis gestarum, and the French Prose Brut. The genealogical diagrams in the first half of the scroll (not preserved here) are based on the work of Peter of Poitiers in his Compendium Historiae in Genealogia Christi.

The last complete copy of the Chronique to come on the market was the Hauck scroll sold at Christie’s in June 2006 (lot 111), now in a private collection in Connecticut. The present copy is closely related to the Leeds scroll, perhaps copied from it, and may be the exemplar for the copy at the Boston Public Library, with which it shares several unique readings.

A list of the other copies appears below:
Arras, Bibliothèque Municipale, MS 146 Berlin, SMB-PK Kupferstichkabinett, MS 78 F 2
Boston, Massachusetts, Boston Public Library, MS Pb. Med. 32
Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale, MS IV 1003
Cambridge, England, Fitzwilliam Museum, MS 176
Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University, Houghton Library, MS Typ. 41
Connecticut, Private Collection (the Hauck scroll, sold Christie’s New York, 28 June 2006, lot 111; and Hamburg, Antiquariat Dr. Jörn Günther, 2006)
Krakau, Czartoryski Museum, MS Czart. 2851
Leeds, University Library, Brotherton MS 100
London, Borough of Croydon Archives, no number
London, British Library, Add. MS 27539
Manchester, John Rylands University Library, MS fr. 99
New York City, J. Pierpont Morgan Library, MS M.1157 (formerly on deposit, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University, Houghton Library, *97M-56)
New York City, New York Public Library, MS 124
Orléans, Bibliothèque Municipale, MS 470
Orléans, Centre Jeanne d’Arc, MS 35 [single sheet]
Paris, BnF, MS fr. 15373
Paris, BnF, MS fr. 15374
Paris, BnF, MS nouv. acq. fr. 1493
Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, MS nouv. acq. fr. 1494
Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, MS nouv. acq. fr.. 1495
Paris, Bibliothèque St.-Geneviève, MS 522
Paris, Bibliothèque St.-Geneviève, MS 523
Princeton, NewJersey, Princeton University Art Museum, MS 5
Bernard Quaritch, Cat. 1348 (2007), nr. 42
Rouen, Bibliothèque Municipale, MS 1137
St. Petersburg, National Library of Russia, MS fr folio v I.9 and MS fr. folio v IV.14
Tours, Bibliothèque Municipale, MS 975
Untraced, sold in Venice by Semenzato, May 2003, lot 148


[Beugnot, Arthur and Auguste Le Provost, eds.] Historia rerum in partibus transmarinis gestarum/ L’estoire de Eracles Empereur (Recueil des Historiens des Croisades. Historiens Occidentaux, Vol. 1), Paris, Imprimerie Royale, 1844.

Davis, Lisa Fagin. La Chronique Anonyme Universelle jusque’à la mort de Charles VII Brussels, Brepols, 2010. (forthcoming).

Davis, Lisa Fagin. “[La Chronique Anonyme Universelle jusque’à la mort de Charles VII],” Encyclopedia of the Medieval Chronicle, Leiden, Brill, 2009. (forthcoming).

Davis, Lisa Fagin. “Scrolling through History: La Chronique Universelle, Boston Public Library Ms. Pb. Med. 32” in Nancy Netzer, ed. Secular Sacred: 11th through 16th-Century Works from the Boston Public Library and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Chicago, University of Chicago, 2006.

Fossier, F. “Chroniques universelles en forme de rouleau à la fin du Moyen Age,” Bulletin de la Société nationale des antiquaries de France, 1980-81, pp. 163-183.

Holder-Egger, O. (ed.). “Gilberti chronicon pontificum et imperatorum Romanorum,” Monumenta Germaniae Historiae, Scriptores 24, 1879, pp. 117-136.

Hurel, Nathalie. “La Chronique universelle d’Orléans: un manuscript d’histoire enluminé,” Histoire de l’art XXIX (1992): 29-40.

Hurel, Nathalie. “Les Chroniques Universelles en Rouleau (1457-1521): Une Source pour l’Iconographie Religieuse,” Revue d’Histoire de l’Église de France (fol. 80, 1994), pp. 303-314.

Marvin, Julia. The Oldest Anglo-Norman Prose Brut Chronicle, Woodbridge, Boydell Press, 2006.

Norbye, Marigold Anne. “Genealogies and dynastic awareness in the Hundred Years War. The evidence of A tous nobles qui aiment beaux faits et bonnes histories,Journal of Medieval History, 33 (2007), pp. 297-319. (at press)

Norbye, Marigold Anne. The king’s blood: royal genealogies, dynastic rivalries and historical culture in the Hundred Years War. A case study of A tous nobles qui aiment beaux faits et bonnes histoires, PhD degree, University College London, January 2004.

Norbye, Marigold Anne. “A popular example of ‘national literature’ in the Hundred Years War: A tous nobles qui aiment beaux faits et bonnes histories,” Nottingham Medieval Studies, 51 (2007), pp. 121-42. (at press)

Norbye, Marigold Anne. “A tous nobles qui aiment beaux faits et bonnes histoires’ – the multiple transformations of a fifteenth-century French genealogical chronicle,” E. Kooper (ed.), The Medieval Chronicle V, 2008, pp. 175-96. (at press)

Online resources

Boston, Massachusetts, Boston Public Library, Ms. Pb. Med. 32

Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University, Houghton Library, Ms Typ. 41

Connecticut, Private Collection (the Hauck Scroll)

New York City, New York Public Library, MS 124

On Leeds, Brotherton MS 100

Lisa Fagin Davis