Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, fonds français 786

[part 2]

» Full parent manuscript detail

General information

Folio notes:The language of the Chevalier au Cygne seems more 'Northern' than that of the copy of the 'Alexandre' (but in this text: see the captions of the miniatures)
LanguageLanguage object (44)
Approx. date?1275 to 1300
Date notesBusby 2002. 304 'second half of the thirteenth century'; Harf-Lancner 2011, 'fourth quarter of the thirteenth century'.
Place(s) of productionTournai
Busby 2002, 304 'was probably made in Tournai'; Harf-Lancner 2011 'Picard'; Mandragore 'Artois ou Hainaut'.
First words of second recto folio[f. 5ra] D  es estoiles del ciel
First words of last recto folio[f. 273ra] M  arfu q(ua)nt il neuot damesdeu aourer
Incipit[f. 4ra] Chi coume(n)ce li roumans del roi alixandre ki fu / Sires de tout le monde  QI viers derice estore viut / entendre et oir / p(or) prendre bon exemple / de p(ro)ecce aqueillir / de (con)noistre raison da / mer (et) de hair / de ses amis garder / (et) cierement tenir / S  es anemis greuer cu(n)s ne(n)puist avancir / L  es laidures vengier (et) les b(ie)n fais merir /
Explicit[f. 273ra] (Et)  sur tabarie vture auoient mes / (Et)  si (com)me lite(n)ples fu des barons puples / (Et)  lospitaus asis u ih(es)us fu sacres / A  l temple p(or) seruir fu harpi(n)s adounes . 


Material:Material object (4)
Condition:Medium quality vellum with relatively many irregularities (f. 17, f. 23), holes (f. 13, f. 26, f. 32, f. 37, f. 80, f. 89, etc.) and stitches (f. 12, f. 14, f. 21, f. 23, f. 30, f. 31, f. 46, f. 56, f. 65, f. 79, etc. ). The edge of the skin is visible in the borders of a number of folios (e.g. f. 31, f. 32, f. 79,etc.).The final folio is badly damaged. Preceding folios are worn. The manuscript is in fair condition, in spite of some stains (f. 28) and tears (f. 71, f. 81, f. 205). The bottom of f. 138, f. 174 has been cut.



1-48 56 6-98 1012 116 12-338 348

Quire structure:The manuscript is probably not bound in its original order. The final quire (f. 259 to f. 267) has quiremark XXII (f. 267v). The first quire of the Roman d'Alexandre (f. 4 to f. 11) has quiremark XXIII. The other quires of the 'Alexandre' are not marked. The 'Chevalier au Cygne' starts at f. 92, in a new quire. This quire (f. 92 to f. 99) has quiremark 1. The fact that the texts of the Crusade Cycle end in the middle of column a of the recto of a folio may suggest that the copies of these texts were not originally intended to be bound together. They were however produced in the same atelier by the same scribe and artists. This may also explain why only the first quire of the Alexander romance has a quire mark. That the miniatures at the end of the 'Vengeance' and at the beginning of the 'Chevalier au Cygne' are terribly worn may be due to their original positions in the manuscript, respectively at the end and the beginning. Quire 10 (f. 74 to f. 85) possibly consists of two sexternions.The catchwords may have been cut.
Quire marks:MSQuiremarkDisposition object (10)
Catchword disposition:MSCatchwordDisposition object (10)

Physical description

General description:transcription sample f. 54ra
General illustration:The text opens with a rubric, followed by a large one-column miniature (height: 22 lines) in two registers. The image is framed in a goldleaf border and represents Alexander's birth (at the top) and the young prince's encounter with Bucephalus (in the lower register. Characters are tall and slender, with white faces, long dress and curled hair. Folds in the garments are accentuated with black ink. Backgrounds are in colour (blue, red) and were probably decorated with goldleaf. Much of the colouring has crumbled. The miniature is attached to a blue decorated initial (height: 8 lines), the eye of which is ornamented with a floral pattern, The initial is painted on a red field in a gilt frame and extends into a L-shape border made up of red and blue branches decorated with goldleaf and inhabited by droleries. The text is further structured by historiated initials (height: c. 16 lines), painted on a coloured background and extending into branches of blue, red with white flourishings and illuminated with gold, dragon's heads and droleries (e.g. f. 10r: a man with a hat). These initials are preceded by rubricated captions. Historiated initials on f. 10r, f. 13v, f. 17v, f. 22r, f. 25 v., f. 30v, f. 33v, f. 37v, f. 40r, f. 42r, f. 46v, f. 52v, f. 56r, f. 56v, f. 60v, f. 65v, f. 67v, f. 71r (beginning of the 'Prise de Defur' after III, 450, III, 451 is not present, last lines of IV, 450 altered. The section is mistakenly indicated as the beginning of the 'Fuerre de Gadres'. The 'Roman d'Alexandre resumes at f. 77rb with III, 452), f. 74v, f. 78r, f. 81r. Other miniatures in the manuscript occur in the 'Vengeance', f. 91r (height: 18 lines) depicting the torture and execution of Alexander's murderers. The 'Chevalier au Cygne' opens with a frontispiece similar to that of the 'Roman d'Alexandre' (f. 92r) but introduced by a large historiated initial (height: 18 lines) rather than a miniature. The text is further subdivided with historiated initials similar to those in the Roman d'Alexandre , also preceded by rubricated captions.
General decoration:Each laisse begins with a pen-flourished initial, alternatingly blue or red (height: 2 lines) with flourishings in the contrastomh colour. The 'Vengeance' of Guy de Cambrai (f.84va) opens with a pen-decorated puzzle-initial (height: 6 lines). The 'Roman d'Alexandre ends at IV, 74 and there is no transitional adaptation to the 'Vengeance'. The latter text concludes with an explicit 'EXPLICIT dalixandre'. Other puzzle-initials on f. 151vb; f. 175vb, .
Evidence of readership:f. 4r: old shelfmarks '194' and '7190'; modern hand 'Cy co(m)mence le Rommant dalexandre / qui fut sire de tout le monde' f. 25v: in the inner margin: annotation 'li messages sen va' f. 134r: annotation in the upper margin. 'J?um?aye' (15th c.) f. 142r: annotation in the lower margin indicates that the story of Geoffrey in England and his treason is not in other manuscripts (modern) f. 160vb: 'fin de la chanson de Renaus' f. 162r: annotation (modern) f. 166r: annotation indicates a section which is not in most of the manuscripts (modern) f. 252r: annotation in the upper margin: M dub3 m m dubus g J J ?G/b? f. 273r: annotations (15th c.) ?A?mon, '[...] est honor' Cursive: 'Lois liacart / Ray(m)mont de ?B/v?ien / nycholas ?crecyn? / johan ?corcis? / ?.?lies le sot cod?m/ui/er? f. 273v: annotations 13th c. '[...]amours ke argent dure / [...] faict amours est sure ' other hand? '[...]nnours ke argens dure e quant argens faict amours est dure' other annotations illegible.
Foliations description:Foliation in arabic numerals in the upper right corner of the recto. On f. 23 another foliation (20) has been crossed also on f. 41 (38). This foliation does not take into account three folios, arguably the ones in the calendar at the front of the manuscript, which also have been described as added at a later stage (and in this event a very late stage) of the composition of the manuscript.

Mise en page

Description 1Intricate ruling pattern with a separate column for the majuscule letters at the beginning of the line. Double horizontal throughlines at the top, middle and bottom of the justification. One set of horizontal throughlines in the lower margin at about 25 mm from the bottom of the justification.
Page sampledf. 89r
Page dimensions335x230 (mm)
Justification255x185 (mm)
16mm between columns
Column ruling present in Colours object (4) (RulingMaterials object (3) )
Line ruling present in Colours object (4) (RulingMaterials object (3) )
RubricationRubric is used for the captions accompanying illustrations and the decoration of initials.
Writing above top line?False
Sample page layout:


Level of Execution:Execution object (4)
ScriptScript object (4)
Folio rangeFrom f. 1ra to f. 271ra
Datec. 1275 to 1300
Scribe description:Northern textualis rotundus with the double-compartment 'a' the upper lobe of which is open. Straight 's' in final position, although a round or capital form is found at the end of the verseline. A capital form of 'r' is found in the same position. The letter 'e' has a pronounced tongue at the end of the verseline. Abbreviations include nasal bar as a general abbreviation mark, apostrophe, superscript letter, 'p' with crossed descender, 'p' the lobe of which curves to cross the descender, con- and -us abbreviation, crossed tironian note.