Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, fonds français 749

[Part 1]

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General information

LanguageLanguage object (44)
Approx. datec. 1300
Date notesStones
Place(s) of productionNorthern France
Stones: 'Therouanne or Ghent'
First words of second recto folio[f. 2ra] tout ice est el liuret : (et) si ia encore plus
First words of last recto folio[f. 338ra] la feme mout g(ra)nt ioie . Si lama tant
Incipit[f. 1ra] Chil qui se tient(et) iuge au / plus petit (et) au plus pe / cheour du monde mande / salus au co(m)menchement / de ceste hystoire . (et) a tous / chaus qui leur cuers ont (et) leur crean / che en la sainte trinite [...] /
Explicit[f. 338rb] soffrir . Il fu ba(n)ins ses filleus en q(ui) / il se fia mout (et) il auoit droit Car / m(ou)lt estoit bons ch(eualie)rs (et) loiaus (et) il ot / .i. senescal q(ui)l ot norri desenfance a / qui il ot toute sa t(er)re (com)mandee ap(re)s / le mort g(ra)cijien (et) ce fu cil qui le trai / (et) p(ar) qui il p(er)di le castel de trebes si (com) li / (con)tes le vous devisera cha auant Explicit iste liber


Material:Material object (4)
Condition:Fair quality vellum with holes (f. 86, f, 133, f. 159, f. 263, f. 265, f. 292, f. 298, f. 303, f. 320, f. 327, f. 331, f. 337), stitches (f. 61, f. 71, f. 101, f. 134, f. 175, f. 219, f. 228, f. 248, f. 249, f. 255, f. 288, f. 289, f. 301,f. 320,f. 324, f.332, f. 335, f. 336, f. 338) irregularities (f. 133, f. 215) and torn corners (f. 103, f. 220, f. 221, f. 224, f. 238, f. 241, f. 270), but generally not in the writing space. In good condition.




Quire structure:Most of the catchwords have been cut and also the bifolium signatures have been preserved irregularly. However, the evidence of extant catchwords and bifolium signatures (letter+ number i to iiii) suggests that the quires in the manuscript were mostly quaternions.
Quire marks:MSQuiremarkDisposition object (12)
Catchword disposition:MSCatchwordDisposition object (9)

Physical description

No. of illustrations:126
General illustration:The manuscript opens with a frontispiece composed of a page-wide miniature (height: 12 lines), framed in gothic architecture and depicting the Holy Trinity, a monk reading a book and Jesus visiting the same monk in a dream, against gilt and diaper backgrounds, a historiated initial (height: 5 lines), blue decorated with white flourishings on a red field, depicting a scribe or author at work and a full-page border of red and blue bars, decorared with goldleaf, white flourishings and vine and inhabited by a dragon with a queen's head, a man and woman playing a ballgame and another mail figure watching from the top. Another frontispiece marks the opening of the 'Roman de Merlin' 9f. 123). It again features a page-wide miniature framed in Gothic architecture, gilt and diaper backgrounds depicting five time-frames from the beginning of the romance. The miniature is preceded by a title in red ink ('Chi commence lestoire de merlin que mesire robers de borron translata') and below the final lines of the page, five columns of rubricated text explain the depictions. The miniature is followed by a historiated initial (height: 3 lines), red with white flourishings on a blue field, which extends in a full-page frame of red and blue bars decorated with goldleaf and white flourishings, inhabited by rabbits, deers, hounds and humans depicting a hunting scene. The frame is additionally decorated with a dragon and vines in red and blue with gilt balls. One-column miniatures (height: c. 10 lines), framed in goldleaf, usually, but not always (e.g. f. 139) occur at the beginning of a larger subdivison, marked with a decorated initial (height: 4 lines), goldleaf on a field or red and blue, decorated with white flourishings. The backgrounds of the miniatures are red, blue and green decorated with white dots. The figures are generally slender and long, with expressive faces, dress is long, folds indicated with shadowing and ink. Use of architecture in the composition. Otherwise little use of decor. Instruction to the artist visible in the lower margin of f. 98, f. 186, f. 208
General decoration:Larger subdivisions are indicated with decorated initials, preceded by a miniature. Further subdivisions are indicated by pen-decorated initials (height: 2 lines), alternatingly blue and red and with flourishings in the contrasting colour.
Evidence of readership:Old shelfmarks in the upper margin of f. 1r. '522', '7171' and 'sept cens trente trois'. On f. 1r in the lower margin, the arms of Louis of Bruges have been overpainted with the royal arms of France. Blind markings and crosses in the margin occur throughout the manuscript. f. 16r: maniculum f. 51r: drawing of a flower in the lower margin f. 177rb: another hand has filled in a blank or scraped spot b<+rans>goires; in the margin, contemporary to the copy 'bransgoires' f. 303rb: writing in the margin: On the verso side of f. 338, is the ex-libris of Louis of Bruges ' plus est en vo(us)' and below, in mirror-script 'gruthuse'. Above is an annotation (14th c.) in English 'Cronekelys of yngland begynny??th? at Joseff(us) / so forth of arthour (and) hys knyghtys called pe(r)sey?...? ?Gayew?.' At the bottom of the page is an annotation in Latin (England, 14th/15th c.). Excerpt from Alain of Lille 'Liber parobolarum', cap. iii, 5.
Foliations description:Modern foliation in roman numerals in the upper right corner of the recto of the folio. Second foliation as from f. 331 (=30)

Mise en page

Description 1Line holes visible in the outer margin.
Page sampledf. 8r
Page dimensions350x245 (mm)
Justification250x165 (mm)
16mm between columns
Column ruling present in Colours object (5) (RulingMaterials object (3) )
Line ruling present in Colours object (5) (RulingMaterials object (3) )
RubricationRed ink is mainly used for pen-flourished initials and occassionally for titles and to highlight letters in frontispieces (f. 1r, f. 123r.)
Writing above top line?False
Sample page layout:


Level of Execution:Execution object (4)
ScriptScript object (4)
Folio rangeFrom f. 1ra to f. 338rb
Datec. 1300
Scribe description:Possibly multiple hands. Use of two-compartment 'a' with open upper compartment up to f. 86rb. In this part of the copy also use of double-lobed 'a' (with closed upper compartment). As from f. 86rb mainly two-compartment 'a' with closed upper compartment in a box-like form. In this part of the copy, 'e' is more pronouncedly 'tongued', particularly at the end of the line and 'd' has a marked short ascender. Round 's' is used in final position. Use of 'v' in initial position. Abbreviations include com-abbreviation, -us abbreviation, superscript vowels, nasal bar, apostrophe, 'p' with crossed descender and crossed tironian 'et'.


DescriptionMany of Gruuthuse's manuscripts came into the possession of Louis XII of France, who had his owner's marks overpainted with the arms of France.
Datec. 1500
PlacePlace object (3)
OwnershipPerson object (19)
DescriptionThe annotations on the verso side of the final leaf of the manuscript show that the manuscript was in England in the fourteenth and/or fifteenth century.
Date?1300 to 1500
PlacePlace object (124)
DescriptionIn the fifteenth century, the manuscript was owned by Louis of Gruuthuse. Together with Bnf. fr. 121-123, this makes a complete cycle of the Grail. Interestingly BnF fr. 123 was manufactured in England.
Datec. 1470
PlacePlace object (145)
OwnershipPerson object (18)