Tours, Bibliothèque municipale, 951

[Part 1]

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General information

LanguageLanguage object (3)
Approx. datec. 1290
Date notesDate suggested by the Lancelot-Graal project, confirmed by Jonas. Arthurian Fiction gives 1280 to 1300. Illustration by the Hospitaller Master or his entourage (Jonas). The writing supports a date at the end of the 13th c.
Place(s) of productionMediterranean
The localisation of the MS is problematic. If one accepts the attribution to the Hospitaller Master and the suggested date (c. 1290), the MS may have been illustrated in either Paris or Acre. The second artist is probably Mediterranean. It seems that the artists collaborated (as is also suggested by the Lancelot-Graal project, see also: illustration) rather than that a second artist filled in the blanks of a MS that for some reason had been left unfinished. Even in its present state, the illustration/decoration has been left incomplete. Jonas suggests Acre, Cyprus or Naples. The Lancelot-Graal project gives Acre, Cyprus or Italy. Arthurian Fiction lists combinations of Outremer and Paris, Acre or Naples. Based on the style of the second artist, it seems fair to suggest a general Mediterranean provenance.
First words of second recto folio[f. 2ra] car jemeismes lescris demamain /
First words of last recto folio[f. 441r] li estoient en lenqueste si en ot m(o)lt g(ra)nt /
Incipit[f. 1ra] Cil qui se tie(n)t / au juge (et) / au plus pe / tit (et) au / plus peche / our de touz . / mande  / saluz au / commencement de ceste estoire / atouz ceus qui lor cuers ont (et) lor / creances en la sainte trenite . Cest / el saint esperit el pere par qui tou / tes choses sont establies (et) recoi / uent coumancement de vie El fin / par toutes choses sont deliurees / despaines denfer (et) amenees ala / joie qui durra sanz fin . El saint / esperit par  qui toutes choses so(n)t / isues hors desmains aumaligne / esperit . (et) raemplies de toutes / joie par len lumiriement delui / qui est uraiz illuminierres (et) ue / raiz confort . li nons de cestui qui / ceste estoire mist en escrit Nest / pas noumez aucommencement ne / escla[+i]riez . Mes par les parolles / qui sont ci apres dit pourez g(ra)nt / masse aperceuoir dunon de celui / (et) le pais dont il fu nez (et) une p(ar)tie / deson lignage mes en cest coumen / [f. 1rb] cement ne se ueut pas descouu(ri)r /
Explicit[f. 441vb] le trai (et) par qui il perdi le chastel / de trebe . issi come li contes le de / uisera ca auant . En la marche / de Gaule (et) de la petite b(re)tainie //


Material:Material object (4)
Condition:Fair to lower quality parchment, worn and moulded at the front and especially back of the MS. Irregularities in the parchment e.g. f. 8. Stains and smudges (ff. 20v-f21r). With stitches (ff. 40, 53, f. 112, 205, 290), tears (ff. 43) and holes (f. 140). Instances in which the edge of the folios coincides with the edge of the skin (ff. 61, 73, 210, 211, 343). Text faded on some folios, e.g. ff. 49v-50r, 291v-292r. Damaged by damp e.g. ff. 7-9. Part of the outer colum of f. 239 torn. ff. 426-427 damaged in the lower corner. From f. 430 onwards, increasingly moulded in the corners. Lower margin of f. 441 cut.



1-78 (ff. 1-58) 810 (ff. 59-66) 9-198 (ff. 67-154) 204 (ff. 155-158) 21-288 (ff. 159-222) 291 (f. 223) 30-388 (ff. 224-295) 3910 (ff. 296-305) 406 (ff. 306-311) 41-458 (ff. 312-351) 464 (ff. 352-355) 47-508 (ff. 356-387) 516 (ff. 388-393) 52-568 (ff. 394-433) 576 (ff. 434-439) 582 (ff. 440-441).

Quire structure:Fifty-eight gatherings, most of which are quaternions. That quire 20 is a binion and quire 29 is a singleton, allows the 'Joseph' (f. 159r) and 'Suite du Merlin' (f. 224r) to begin in a new gathering. Quires 8 and 39 are quinions. Quires 40, 51 and 57 are ternions. Quire 46 is a binion. One bifolium at the end of the MS.
Quire marks:MSQuiremarkDisposition object (10)
Catchwords:e.g verso of ff. 214, 222, 223, 239, 247, 255, 271, 279, 287, 303, 311.
Catchword disposition:MSCatchwordDisposition object (16)

Physical description

No. of illustrations:133
General illustration:The 'Estoire' opens with a single-column miniature (height: 12 lines), portraying Christ giving the book to the hermit, who is lying down in his bed. The image is worn, painted against a gilt background with architectural elements (arches) on a blue field with a double frame of broad red bars and thinner blue lines. The miniature is followed by a large champlike initial (height: 8 lines), gilt on a scarlet field. At the beginning of the 'Joseph d'Arimathie en prose' (f. 159r), a miniature shows the crucifixion. The image is painted against a gilt background, in a frame of blue and red bars, decorated with white flourishings. The following champ initial is goldleaf, painted against a blue field, the eye scarlet with white flourishings. The 'Suites du Merlin' (f. 224r) starts with a larger historiated initial (height: 11 lines). Further illustration consists of historiated initials in two distinct styles. A first, clearly Northern-influenced artist has painted one, sometimes two historiated initials in each quire. The letters are blue or red, decorated with white flourishings against fields of the other colour, frame and background gilt, with partial borders of spiky blue and red bars. His hand does not appear in quires 17, 21, 29, 45, in which no space was left for decoration, in quires 40, 44, 46 which only have gaps intended for illumination and in quires 43, 49-51, 56-58, in which only a second, Mediterranean hand appears. In first instance, this second artist paints foliate initials (see: decoration), but as from quire 19, and increasingly in the second half of the MS (especially quires 31, 33, 36, 50) this hand also adds historiated initials (green, decorated with white flourishings and painted against coloured, blue and scarlet backgrounds, or any other combination of these colours), which appear to be imitating the style of the first artist. It is probably also this painter who has added the Mediterranean-style bas-de-page images (hybrids) in the second quire (ff. 9r, 12v, 13r, 16v). In most gatherings, both artists are encountered together. On f. 264v in quire 35, in which we find both artists, there is a preparatory drawing by the second painter, which has not been coloured in. Given that most blank spaces occur in quires illustrated by the first painter but without the second hand (e.g. quires 7, 8, 37, 39, 41), it seems fair to assume that these gatherings for some reason never reached the second artist. In quires 40, 44 and 46 none of the blanks for illustration have been filled in. All evidence considered, it appears that this is a collaborative project between a Northern-inspired and a Mediterranean artist, rather than an incomplete project that was forwarded to a second painter, who in turn, left parts unfinished in the middle of the MS. For some reason, the project was abandoned with the lower levels of decoration left incomplete.
General decoration:Colourful, mediterranean-style foliate initials (height: 8-9 lines), some with inhabited borders throughout the MS. These are the work of the second artist. The majority of the smaller decorated initials (height: 2 lines) have not been executed, the exceptions being in quires 6, 11,18, 47, 48 and 49. Plain initials in red ink in quire 24.
Evidence of readership:On f. 1r: 'Ex libris majoris monasterii'. On f. 40r: annotation, framed: 'riuiere f/sougaces'. A maniculum highlights a prophecy of merlin on f. 277v.
Foliations description:Two modern foliations in arabic numerals (pencil and pen) in the top right corner of the recto. One has skipped f. 273bis.

Mise en page

Description 1Double horizontal throughlines at the top and bottom. Additional vertical throughlines in the outer margin (28 mm from the justification).
Page sampledf. 6r
LayoutMSLayout object (3)
Page dimensions325x230 (mm)
Justification242x160 (mm)
20mm between columns
Column ruling present in Colours object (4) (RulingMaterials object (3) )
Line ruling present in Colours object (4) (RulingMaterials object (3) )
RubricationNo tituli in red ink.
Writing above top line?False
Sample page layout:


Level of Execution:Execution object (4)
ScriptScript object (4)
Folio rangeFrom f. 1ra to f. 441vb
Datec. 1275 to 1300
Scribe description:Textualis with box 'a', straight and round 's' in final position. At least two scribes. Changes at ff. 85r, 158r, 210, 232v. The scribe who takes over at f. 85, mostly writes straight 's' in final position. After f. 232v, two-compartment 'a' with open upper compartment. Northern, crossed form of tironian 'et' throughout the MS.