London, British Library, Additional 15268

Li liures des ansienes estoires (title from initial rubric)

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General information

Folio notes:The front and endpapers are clearly part of the modern binding.
LanguageLanguage object (49)
Approx. date?1270 to 1291
Date notesOltrogge (1989, 261) and Jung (1996, 342) both date this MS to the last quarter of the 13th c., but since it was made in Acre it must predate 1291. Folda (2005, 423-4) and others have suggested a more precise dating of 1286 if the MS is a dedication copy produced to mark the accession of Henry of Lusignan to the throne of Jerusalem.
Place(s) of production
The style of this MS is clearly that of an Acre atelier.
First words of second recto folio[2r] Ce est li liures des ansiences estoires/ (et) dit dou comensement dou mon/de. (et) coment n(ost)re sires fist adam
First words of last recto folio[314r] contree. sorz (et) noirs (et) baussans/ (et) dautres faitures
Incipit[2r] Ce est li liures des ansiences estoires/ (et) dit dou comensement dou mon/de. (et) coment n(ost)re sires fist adam
Explicit[314r] se ne fucent les forest granz e ramees

Related MS

See Folda (2005, 419-20) for further on the relations between this MS and Dijon Bibliothèque Municipale 562 and Brussels Bibliothèque Royale 10175.
RelationshipType object (7), RelationshipType object (12), RelationshipType object (13)Manuscript object (272)
Manuscript object (27)


Material:Material object (4)
Condition:The MS is by and large in excellent condition.



1-1718-2310 24-258 2610 27-318 3210 3334-3512 36373

Quire structure:The MS is predominantly made up of quaternions, but with some quires of 10 and 12 folios, before a final irregular quire. There are two stubs after ff. 165, 203, and 221, but there are no textual lacunae and the numbering of the folios is continuous.
Quire marks:MSQuiremarkDisposition object (21)
Catchwords:The catch words have almost all been trimmed. They are only fully visible on f. 291v and partially visible on f. 271v.
Catchword disposition:MSCatchwordDisposition object (4)

Physical description

General description:A high-quality and lavishly illustrated MS that is typical of a certain type of MS production in Acre in the second half of the 13th c.. It has been studied in detail by a number of scholars, most recently Folda (2005, 419-24).
No. of illustrations:43
General illustration:The 43 illustrations are of exceptionally high artistic quality. Folda (2005, 423-4) argues that as many as 8 or 9 artists worked on the illustrations, often collaboratively with specific areas of specialisation. There are 3 full-page illustrations (1r, the opening panel); 7v (Noah and the ark); 107v (the opening of the Troy story). Otherwise, the illustrations are between just under half a page in size to almost 3/4 page, they extend over two columns, and are generally at the top of the page, but some are at the bottom and some also mid-page with text before and after. The illustrations often use rich reds and blues, frequently also gold leaf. In the Genesis section in particular they show marked Byzantine influence. Although the MS is illustrated throughout, it is more densely illustrated up to the beginning of the history of Rome, with particular clusters of illustrations around the story of Joseph, then Theban and Trojan history. Oltrogge (1989, 262-5) gives a complete list of the illustrations and larger decorated initials.
General decoration:Chapters begin with decorated initials (height: 2 lines). These extend into simply decorated borders that generally then extend further to around half of the left or centre margin. The initials alternate between red and blue, with the border decoration in the other colour. Longer letters extend down or up the margin further than 2 lines, but the main part of the letter is invariably 2 lines in depth. In the first of our two segments, there are larger decorated initials at the following points: ff. 1r (height: 6 lines); 8r (height: 5 lines, the flood; this is opposite a full-page illustration of Noah building the ark and the animals entering it); 9r (height: 5 lines, Noah planting the vine); 11r (height: 5 lines, the building of the Tower of Babel); 16v (height: 4 lines, King Ninus); 18r (height: 5 lines, the beginning of the story of Abraham); 26v (height: 7 lines, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah); 30v (height: 4 lines, the sacrifice of Isaac); 34v (height: 5 lines, Isaac and Rebecca); 35r (height: 5 lines, Jacob and Esau); 48r (height: 4 lines, the start of the story of Joseph); 70v (height: 4 lines, Ninus); 71r (height: 4 lines, Ninus). This indicates clearly that larger initials are used to provide visual cues as to narrative units within the text, particularly when they are combined with sometimes dense sequences of illustrations; this is a technique used through the MS. Whereas the beginning of some of our segments are marked by lavish half- or full-page illustrations, as well as larger decorated initials, this is not the case with Orient 1, which begins on f. 70v with no indication that this is an important section break. Neither is it the case with the beginning of the stories of Thebes or Eneas, where only a rubric indicates a change in narrative direction. However, the start of the story of Troy has a full-page illustration on f. 105v before Troy starts on f. 106r. Our segment Orient II on f. 173v has a decorated initial (height: 6 lines), but no illustration. This is also true of the Alexander section, only here the initial is 5 rather than 6 lines in height. Rome II also begins with a decorated initial 5 lines high.
Evidence of readership:
Foliations description:The foliation is modern.

Mise en page

Description 1The first recto folio is blank. A modern hand has written in pencil here 'circa Ann. 1250'.
Page sampled7r
LayoutMSLayout object (3)
Page dimensions370x250 (mm)
Justification264x164 (mm)
17mm between columns
Column ruling present in Colours object (4) (RulingMaterials object (3) )
Line ruling present in Colours object (4) (RulingMaterials object (3) )
RubricationChapters are rubricated throughout and occasionally the text and rubric interlock over several lines.
Writing above top line?False
Sample page layout:


Level of Execution:Execution object (3)
ScriptScript object (6)
Folio rangeFrom 1 to 314
Date?1275 to 1291
Scribe description:An exceptionally clear hand, with quite distinct 'n', 'u', 'i', 'm'; also 'f' and 's', 't' and 'c'. Short 's' in final position; marked backward stroke on 'd'. Relatively few abbreviations, mainly on nasal vowels. Characteristic of the hand throughout is the use of two vertical bars in capital 'C', 'D', 'E', 'O', and 'P', etc.


DescriptionThe lavishness of this MS, it has been suggested, indicates that it is a royal dedication copy. It has therefore been argued that its production marked the accession of Henry of Lusignan to the throne of Jerusalem. See Folda (2005, 423-4).
PlacePlace object (150)
OwnershipPerson object (84)