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Contrasts and Continuities

If Oresme's translation of the Ethics stems from the moral side of the Mirror of Princes literature, those of the Politics and Economics speak to their primary readers as guides to the theory and practice of political and domestic life. In his brief prologue to the Politics , Oresme stresses that of all forms of worldly knowledge, the science of politics is the most fundamental for princes:

Et donques, de toutes les sciences mundaines ce est la tres principal et la plus digne et la plus profitable, et est proprement appartenante as princes. Et pour ce, elle est dite architectonique , ce est a dire princesse sus toutes.

(And thus, of all the sciences of the world, this is the most basic, the most noble, the most useful, and properly concerns princes. And for this reason, it is called architectonic , that is to say, reigning over all the others.)[1]

The translator emphasizes that the Politics is the most perfect of Aristotle's works and, since the time of its composition, the most authoritative and universally regarded guide to the subject. For these reasons, Oresme continues, the Politics has achieved almost the status of a book of natural law in its explanation of how all other legal systems—universal, local, or temporal—are ordained, instituted, interpreted, corrected, or changed. He explains further that because the text of the Politics is so valuable, and difficult matters are more easily and agreeably understood in their native language, by command of Charles V, he (Oresme) undertook the translation of the text.[2]

Continuities between the Politiques and the Ethiques

Continuities are deliberate between King Charles V's first two illustrated copies of the Politiques (including the short pseudo-Aristotelian Yconomique ) with those of the Ethiques . As sister texts, conceived as a unity, the counterpart of A (the Brussels Ethics ) is B , a manuscript in a French private collection, completed be-


tween 1374 and 1376. They share a common physical format in size, page layout, and graphic design. B , like A , is an official, library copy, lavish in all aspects of its writing and decoration. In both A and B the text is separated from the glosses, which are written on both sides and in the lower margin.[3] A companion to C , King Charles's smaller copy of the Ethiques , is D , a manuscript of the Politiques and the Yconomique , now in Brussels. Like C, D was written by Raoulet d'Orléans, completed by 1376, and also shows the intermingling of text and gloss. D lacks certain important textual features present in B , such as the prologue and the two instructions to the reader.[4]

The two sets of manuscripts also share the same ateliers of miniaturists patronized by Charles V. For B , major shares went to the Master of Jean de Sy, whose shop was responsible for all the miniatures in A , and the Master of the Coronation of Charles VI, later assigned the cycle in C . The last two miniatures of B were entrusted to the Master of the Coronation Book of Charles V, whose shop executed the cycle in D . Familiar from work on other Charles V manuscripts is the hand identified with Perrin Remiet, who executed the two small preliminary miniatures of B .

Textual Differences from the Ethiques Manuscripts

Beyond these and related similarities to Charles V's Ethiques manuscripts, those of the Politiques show important differences regarding both texts and images. First, the fact that the Politics was the favored text had various implications. Documents reveal that Oresme received generous payments from Charles V for this translation and that the king intervened with the canons of Rouen cathedral to excuse Oresme's absence from his post as dean there. Oresme worked on the translation from 1370 to 1374 and made three redactions of the text, compared to only one of the Ethics .[5] Delisle was the first to recognize the original copy of Oresme's text in MS 223 of the Bibliothèque Municipale in Avranches.[6] This manuscript contains all three redactions, the fragments of a fourth one, the author's corrections and modifications, and the ex libris of Henri Oresme, Nicole's nephew, who inherited the volume.[7] The Avranches manuscript must have been accessible to the scribes who copied the text during its various stages of corrections and emendations.

Oresme worked from the translation of the Politics from Greek into Latin made by William of Moerbeke in 1269. Unlike the Ethics , the Politics was not known in earlier medieval translations.[8] Oresme drew heavily on the influential commentaries that had been produced in the century since Moerbeke's Latin text appeared. The first of these commentaries was by Albert the Great and was the one most frequently cited by Oresme. Although he sometimes disagreed with his predecessor, Oresme shared his adventurous attempts to provide etymologies and identification of historical personalities and places.[9] In his efforts to apply the Politics to medieval institutions, Oresme appreciated Albert's attempt to do the same, as well as his more colorful style. While undoubtedly well acquainted with the commentaries of Thomas Aquinas, completed by Peter of Auvergne, Oresme used them


sparingly.[10] Oresme's attempt to present the Politics to a lay audience in a vernacular language led him to prefer the gloss/ commentary form rather than the paraphrases or analyses of Aristotle's arguments. He was thus able to provide step-by-step guidance for his readers. It is worth mentioning again Babbitt's classifications of the types of glosses Oresme used. These include references to, and locations in, the text, "identifications and definitions," "etymologies," "explanatory examples," and his own judgments or "critical observations." In addition, Oresme provided extensive commentaries, some several folios in length, that Babbitt terms "small treatises or essays." Such expositions frequently reveal Oresme's opinions on crucial contemporary social or religious issues, such as reform of the church or voluntary poverty of the clergy. Other subjects deal with political institutions, such as forms of kingship and universal monarchy.[11] As is noted in Chapter 3 above, the translator also expanded the number of terms included in the glossary of difficult words to almost three times the number in the analogous feature of the Ethiques . To facilitate the reader's understanding of key terms, Oresme added a new verbal aid to the vernacular version of the Politiques : an index of noteworthy subjects organized in alphabetical order and placed at the end of the volume. So concerned was Oresme about the intelligibility of the neologisms and other unfamiliar terminology that in the first redaction he included a separate glossary and index of subjects after several books of the Politiques .

Oresme gives precise directions to the reader in the first instruction that follows the prologue. He begins by stating that the contents of the work are clear from the chapter titles and the index of noteworthy subjects at the end of the book. Next he mentions the glossary of difficult words as a source for learning the meaning of unfamiliar terms. He then names four specific terms that are essential for understanding the treatise.[12] He ends the instruction by explaining the different methods of citing a chapter in an individual book in which a reference is made, as well as in other books of the text. In short, Oresme employs the techniques of academic translation and commentary to make intelligible to his lay audience the difficult Latin version of William of Moerbeke. As noted above in Chapter 3, Oresme thus appropriates for the vernacular the prestige of the Latin translation and commentaries.

As Babbitt points out, Oresme's efforts to apply this version of Aristotle's text to contemporary problems and institutions give his translation its particular value and interest. Oresme uses Aristotle's text in one area vital to his primary readers: confirmation of the public sovereignty of the territorial nation-state, viewed as an instrument of the common good. In discrediting universal monarchy, linked with the Holy Roman Empire, Oresme exploits Aristotle's arguments for a geographically and linguistically surveyable territory. Like other medieval commentators, Oresme elevates kingship to the apex of the hierarchy of political communities. But he also emphasizes the special claims of the French monarchy by virtue of its quasi-religious character, its distinguished ancestry, and its distinctive national symbol, the fleur-de-lis. Oresme's treatment of the church as a political community not only leads him to define its rights but also allows him to treat it as a subject open to criticism and reform. The Aristotelian concept of the mean permits him


to urge the church to avoid the extremes of too great wealth or absolute poverty. Oresme also takes a middle position in affirming the temporal independence of the king from the church while recognizing the political and judicial rights of the church over the clergy.[13]

Differences in the Programs of Illustrations

In various ways the programs of illustrations of B and D also reflect the greater attention devoted to the text of the Politics . To be sure, the density of illustration—one miniature at the beginning of each of the eight books of the Politiques and the two of the Yconomique —is the same as that of the Ethiques . Yet in terms of scale, the illustrations of B are larger than those of A , its sister manuscript. In B the miniatures occupy about half the height and the entire width of the folio. Furthermore, B and D have bifolio frontispieces and another miniature of full-page dimensions. The rest of the illustrations of B and D are no longer confined to a column format, as are nine of the eleven miniatures in A . The limiting quadrilobe frame appears only in four text illustrations in B and three in D . Also more complex in B and D than in A and C are the visual structures of the miniatures. Only one miniature of the Ethiques cycle in C (Fig. 41) includes the three-register format adopted in two illustrations of the Politiques . Also, A and C offer only two instances of the two-register type (Figs. 7, 10, 24, and 29), in which the relationships between the upper and lower zones are less complex than the three examples in B and D . The latter also offer two unusual examples of single-register scenes that occupy the width of the text block and produce the effect of panel paintings (Figs. 70, 71, 80, and 81).

Oresme's Role as Designer

Oresme's greater involvement with the program of B may have resulted from his or his patron's dissatisfaction with the cycle of A . As mentioned above, Oresme's second instruction to the reader in B affords proof of his design of the Politiques ' programs.[14] Two other aspects of his involvement also deserve comment. First, he created visual links to the Ethiques cycles in two of the Politiques miniatures, where the illustrations of Books III and IV contain references to the concepts of the mean and proportionality established in Books II and V of the Ethiques . Second, unlike the marked revisions between the programs of A and C , those of B and D show relatively minor differences that result mainly from the smaller size and the more regular, simpler format of the second manuscript (D ).

Evidence of Oresme's increased personal and textual authority emerges from several features of the Politiques translation. Already noted is the expansion of his explanatory glosses to include his individual opinions and critical observations, either separately or in relation to disagreement with previous commentaries. Like Oresme's commentaries, the illustrations of the Politiques also had the important


function of making Aristotle's text intelligible in terms of the political life of his own day. Essential to this process is imagery that updates and concretizes Aristotelian concepts.[15] Also relevant as a sign of the translator's authorial identity is the feature in D (as in C ) of the scribe's designation of Oresme's glosses and commentaries by abbreviated (O or Or ) or full references to his name instead of the more customary use of the impersonal G for "Gloss."

Confirmation of Oresme's increased self-confidence is found in the first sentence of his prologue, in which he refers to his official ecclesiastic positions and his relationship to the patron:

A tres souverain et tres excellent prince Charles, quint de ce nom, par la grace de Dieu roy de France: Nicole Oresme, doyen de vostre eglise de Rouen, vostre humble chapellain: Honeur, obedience et subjection.

(To the very sovereign and very excellent prince, Charles, fifth of this name, by the grace of God king of France: Nicole Oresme, dean of your church of Rouen, your humble chaplain—honor, obedience, and subjection.)[16]

An analogue to Oresme's increased visibility is the first of two portraits that accompany the introductory matter in B . Although Figure 44 is a conventional likeness of the translator, Oresme is pictured alone, in his function as a writer; his visual identity does not depend on his relationship to the king. In this respect, the portrait follows a medieval iconographic tradition in which the translator of a text, and not its original author, is the subject of the portrait. The appropriation of language seems to create a visual analogue in the transfer of authorial identity to the translator.

Also by Perrin Remiet, Figure 45 is an intimate dedication portrait like that of A (Fig. 6), on which it is modeled. The occurrence of Figure 45 in the text after the prologue, the two instructions to the reader, the bifolio frontispiece, the table of contents, and the chapter headings for Book I reinforces the translator's didactic position as master of the text. The dedication portrait also may allude to the longstanding mentor relationship between Oresme and Charles V. In this connection, a passage in Oresme's prologue mentions another work by Aristotle (Liber de regno ), written for his pupil Alexander the Great, that has the specific function of teaching the latter how to rule.[17]

Oresme's greater involvement with the illustrative program for the Politiques may also have resulted from the difficulties of finding both a suitable representational mode and an existing iconographic tradition. The context of the Politics focuses on collective social and political relationships and institutions of ancient Greece. There were no readily available, comprehensible visual and verbal equivalents for these in contemporary France. The translator had to develop concrete and updated imagery related to the contemporary historical experience of his readers. Unlike the moral and spiritual imagery of the Ethiques , for which the rich iconography of virtues and vices provided an accessible typology, existing models


Figure 44
Nicole Oresme Writing. Les politiques d'Aristote,  MS  B.

Figure 45
Nicole Oresme Presents the Book to Charles V. Le s
politiques d'Aristote, MS  B.

for the Politics in the Mirror of Princes literature and relevant examples from legal iconography were less abundant. Although simplified in content, a precedent for the representation of certain political themes exists, however, in the Morgan Avis au roys .

Moreover, the didactic purpose of the Politics translation called for a more diagrammatic and lexically oriented program of illustrations. As indicated in the first instruction, Oresme was concerned with the reader's understanding of generic and specific terminology. It is not surprising, then, that the inscriptions, which mark the intersection of the verbal and visual languages of the translation, play a prominent role in Oresme's strategies for re-presenting Aristotle's text. The glossary of difficult words contains explanations of essential terms of Aristotelian logic, such as difference, diffinition , and gerre (genus).[18] This emphasis on definition, a primary task of the translator, carries over into the programs of illustrations. Oresme's frequent citation of Aristotle's Rhetoric in his translation of the Politics shows his awareness of the various strategies that writers employ in enlightening and per-


suading their audiences. As the probable oral commentator on the text, Oresme would have known how to convey his interpretation by means common to verbal and visual exposition. Certain rhetorical devices such as parallelism, contrast, juxtaposition, paradox, and irony are combined with visual definitions of both generic and specific terms in the cycles of the Politiques and Yconomique .[19] Always concerned with inventing effective mnemonic structures, Oresme provides special architectural enframements that set apart the most important illustrations. In several cases, he also carries over from the Ethiques programs the triadic scheme of organization connected with Aristotle's theory of the mean. More broadly, Oresme seems conscious of how sequence and order within images play important roles in the reader's association and recollection of complex verbal and visual concepts.

In contrast to the more allusive representational modes of personification and allegory chosen for the Ethiques cycles, Oresme adopts a paradigmatic type for the Politiques . The term paradigm or example is defined by Aristotle in the Rhetoric (I.2 1356b) as one of two main types of persuasion or argument. As a rhetorical figure, a paradigm has a double sense of serving as both model and illustration.[20] Compared to the cycle of C , in which scenes drawn from everyday life serve as examples of individual virtues and vices, in the Politiques cycles Oresme uses a paradigmatic mode in both ways. Like the operation of language, the paradigmatic mode is appropriate for transferring meaning between verbal and visual language. Oresme's application of paradigms was essential in providing both contemporary models and specific examples of the various bodies politic so carefully defined in Aristotle's text. Indeed, the persistent and powerful metaphor of the state as a physical body was certainly well known to Oresme's politically aware readers.

Another challenge in presenting a coherent overall program of illustrations is the confusing order of the books and the overlapping subject matter of all versions of the Politics text. Where, how, and in what order to present and visually highlight key concepts was as demanding a task as constructing verbal aids for the readers. On the plus side, the varied subject matter gives the program great diversity and range. Using the various verbal and visual strategies mentioned above, Oresme needed to apply Aristotle's text to the historical experience of his readers. Sometimes the relationships are overt; on other occasions, potentially dangerous references are disguised. Of course, the translator was again dependent on the imaginative and expressive resources of the illuminators entrusted with carrying out his verbal instructions. Oresme also had the considerable help of Raoulet d'Orléans, whose intervention in clarifying the textual and visual program of D reveals his crucial role in supervising the production of the manuscript.

Although the differences between the programs of B and D are not as great as they are between A and C , the method of discussing the illustrations of the former group, established in Part II of this study, remains the same. Comparing the cycles of B and D will again offer further insights into the dynamics of contemporary Paris book production. The revisions, editing, and reformating of King Charles's manuscripts of the translations of Aristotle's Politics and Economics illuminate the different functions and uses of text and image by their primary readers.


The Six-Forms-of-Government Frontispieces (Book I)

Composition and Arrangement

The frontispieces of Charles V's first and second copies of the Politiques (Figs. 46–47 and 48–49) provide evidence of the translator's authority as master of the text. Oresme's verbal exposition of the importance of these illustrations shows also his control of the visual images he chose as keys to understanding the content of the entire volume. These representations boldly apply Aristotle's classic typologies of political communities to medieval institutions. Within their carefully ordered structures Oresme includes generic visual definitions of key Aristotelian concepts such as the types of perfect political communities, their identification with the common welfare, the rule of law, and the consent of the governed.[1] This visual summa conceals within a deceptively simple format a subtle and concise exposition of a complex system of thought designed to instruct and persuade its primary audience: the politically attuned king and his counsellors.

The close relationship between the frontispieces of B and D shows that the program of the second depends on that of the first. Yet the changes between them demonstrate that in the interest of uniformity and consistency a deliberate re-editing of B took place to produce D . As was the case with A and C , simplification of the layout and overall design of the volume was a goal in transforming the elaborate library copy of B to the compact, portable format of D .

Despite the position of the two miniatures on two folios opposite one another in B , they do not match up in all respects. Figure 46 is larger than Figure 47. The latter, despite its smaller size, includes the running title above and twelve lines of text below the miniature introducing the summary paragraph and chapter headings of Book I. Examination of B discloses that Figure 46 has been added to the first gathering, while Figure 47 belongs to the second.[2] Disparities between the border decoration and exterior architectural enframement of the top register and the interior arcades of Figures 46 and 47 offer further evidence that the two miniatures were not perfectly coordinated. Although executed by the same master, a last-minute change of program or layout may have prevented the integrated planning of Figures 46 and 47.

In D , however, the two halves of the frontispiece (Figs. 48–49 and Pls. 7–8) constitute a perfectly matched bifolio layout.[3] The facing illustrations on folios IV and 2 correspond in terms of dimensions, divisions of the picture field, en-


framement, and decoration. One factor contributing to this uniformity is the elimination of all prefatory text matter, except for the chapter titles and the scribe's colophon on the recto of the first folio. The search for consistency characteristic of the program of C probably motivated Oresme and Raoulet d'Orléans to produce similar effects in the frontispiece of D .

One reason for such an aesthetic uniformity is the integrated mnemonic structure created by the architectural enframements and interior settings. If the three registers suggest ordered sequences of corresponding spaces or rooms within which the various regimes are situated, these locations invite the reader's association of a particular place with the appropriate term.

Textual Sources

The lavish layouts of the frontispieces relate directly to the importance of their content: representations of the six basic forms of government analyzed by Aristotle in the Politics and translated and reinterpreted by Oresme for medieval readers. As usual, the inscriptions furnish the internal verbal links to the text. The terms chosen for Figures 46 and 48 are Tyrannie, Olygarchie , and Democracie , the three forms of bad government. For the three good forms of government in Figures 47 and 49, the inscriptions read Royaume, Aristocracie , and Tymocracie . In B Oresme's first instruction to the reader that follows his short prologue explains the importance of these terms to the reader's understandings of Aristotle's concepts: "Item, par especial cest livre ne peut bien estre entendu en pluseurs lieus sans savoir la signification de ces .iiii. mos: aristocracie, commune policie, democracie, olygarchie . Et ces mos sunt apropriés a ceste science" (Item, this book in particular cannot be understood in several places without knowing the meaning of these four words: aristocracy, polity, democracy, oligarchy . These words are appropriate to this field of learning).[4]

Oresme's insistence on the definition of the four generic terms indicates that in an Aristotelian context they were unfamiliar to his audience. Indeed, the words tymocracie (a synonym for commune policie ), aristocracie, democracie , and olygarchie are neologisms introduced into French in Oresme's translation. The inscriptions thus correspond to Oresme's verbal explications in the text and their reinforcement in his glosses, commentaries, glossary of difficult words, and index of noteworthy subjects. Their visual representations function as analogues to the verbal definitions of these important concepts.

Also included in B , Oresme's unique second instruction to the reader spells out his reasons for featuring the six forms of government in the bifolio frontispiece:

Et donques ces .vi. policies sont principals, et sont aussi comme les elemenz et les principes de toutes autres. Et pour ce sont yci au commencement du livre pourtraittes et figurées. Et sont trois bonnes, c'est à savoir royaume, aristocracie et tymocracie. Et trois autres qui sont transgressions ou corruptions des bonnes, c'est à savoir tyrannie, olygarchie et democracie.[5]


Figure 46
From top : Tyrannie, Olygarchie Democracie. Les politiques d'Aristote,  MS  B.


Figure 47
From topR oyaume, Aristocracie, Tymocracie. Les politiques d'Aristote,  MS  B.


Figure 48
From top:  Tyrannie, Olygarchie, Democracie. Les politiques d'Aristote,  MS  D.


Figure 49
From top : Royaume, Aristocracie, Tymocracie. Les politiques d'Aristote,  MS  D.


Oresme further informs the reader that the definitions of these six terms are located in the glossaries of difficult words placed at the end of both the Ethiques and the Politiques . Oresme may have thought that such reminders were necessary, since the frontispiece occurs at the beginning of Book I of the Politiques , whereas the six forms are not systematically discussed until Book III. This separation, which contradicts the normal procedure of closely connecting the illustration with the text of the book it introduces, again shows the importance that Oresme attached to his readers' understanding of Aristotle's generic terminology.

How does Oresme define these terms in the glossary? Among the good forms, Royaume does not appear as a separate entry but is included in the definition of Monarchie: "Monarchie est la policie ou le princey que tient un seul. Et sunt .ii. especes generales de monarchie; une est royalme et l'autre est tyrannie" (Monarchy is the form of government in which one person holds power. There are two general types of monarchy: one is kingship and the other is tyranny).[6] Aristocracie is, however, accorded a separate entry: "Aristocracie est une espece de policie selon laquele ou en laquele un petit nombre de personnes bons et vaillans tiennent le princey et ont domination sus la communité et entendent a gouverner au profit commun" (Aristocracy is a type of government according to which, or in which, a small number of good and excellent people hold power and rule over the community and intend to govern for the common good).[7] The third of the good regimes, Tymocracie , is found under its synonym, Commune policie: "Commune policie est la ou une grande multitude tient le princey au profit publique; aussi comme en aristocracie un petit nombre tient le princey, et en royalme un seul le tient et tout au profit publique" (Timocracy is that [form] in which a large number holds power for the public good; as in aristocracy, a small number holds the power, and in kingship, only one holds it, all for the public good).[8]

As for the bad regimes, Tyrannie is defined succinctly as "princey ou policie ou domination ou fait de tyrant" (power, form of government, rule, or act of a tyrant).[9] A more elaborate characterization occurs under the word Tyrant : "Premierement, ce est un seul qui tient le princey et la monarchie a son propre profit et contre le bien publique" (First, it is one person who holds the power and monarchy for his benefit and contrary to the public good).[10]Olygarchie , the second bad form, is described as follows: "Olygarchie est une des .vi. especes generales de policie mises en le .viii.e et ou .ix.e chapitre du tiers livre. Et est la ou gens riches et puissans, qui sunt en petit nombre, tiennent le princey et gouvernement a leur propre profit et contre le profit publique" (Oligarchy is one of the six generic types of government located in the eighth and ninth chapters of the third book. And it is a regime in which a small number of powerful and rich people hold the power and government for their benefit and contrary to the public welfare).[11] The last of the corrupt regimes is Democratie: "Democratie est une espece de policie en laquele la multitude populaire tient le princey a leur profit. Et ne est pas bonne policie" (Democracy is a kind of government in which the popular multitude holds the power [of offices] for their own benefit. And it is not a good system).[12]

A diagram that appears in Chapter 10 of Book II of the Politiques (Fig. 50) reinforces Oresme's verbal distinctions among the three good and three bad forms


Figure 50
Diagram of  The Three Good and the Three Bad Systems of Government. Les politiques
d'Aristote, MS  D.

in the glossary and second instruction. Following the procedure of similar figures in his scientific translations such as the Traitié de l'espere , this diagram clarifies the distinction between forms in terms of the numbers of people who rule and their ethical and moral goals. Thus, the inscriptions and the second and first instructions lead the reader to generic definitions and classifications of basic terms and concepts. Oresme's verbal directions compress and summarize ideas that occur in parts of the text physically separated from the frontispieces.

Visual Structures

The visual adherence of the frontispieces to the definitions and diagram emphasizes the paradigmatic character and function of these prominent illustrations. The use of an alternating and contrasting red and blue color scheme for the geometric backgrounds of the three registers of each miniature reinforces and sets off such parallelism. While the illustration for Book VII in D shares a three-register, full-page format (Fig. 75), Figures 46–47 and 48–49 are the only instances of a bifolio arrangement that draws together visual definitions summarizing basic concepts and terms of the entire text.

The representation of Bad Government (Fig. 46) is an outstanding achievement of the Master of Jean de Sy, who was entrusted with the most important miniatures of the cycle. The soft draperies, expressive gestures, and convincing movements of the figures depicted in the overall red, blue, gold, and gray color scheme enliven the diagrammatic character of the scene. The smaller Good Government


miniature by the same master on the opposite folio (Fig. 47) shares the lavish use of gold with its counterpart and extends the architectural motif of arcades to the two lower registers. Yet the illustration lacks the liveliness of Figure 46. Despite the Jean de Sy Master's attempt to introduce variety in the poses and gestures of the seated figures on all three levels, the composition remains more static. As in representations of heaven and hell, the prevailing peace and harmony of the morally excellent is less arresting than the disorder and tortures of the morally corrupt. Emphasis on the grotesque and terrible as an aid to distinguishing and remembering the ethically negative perhaps accounts for the exceptional attention given to the various tortures. Furthermore, the artist may well have taken particular pleasure in their depiction.

The miniaturist who executed the bifolio frontispiece of D (Figs. 48 and 49) is the Master of the Coronation Book of Charles V. As in the miniatures of C , the figures are executed in grisaille enhanced with color washes. Nevertheless, the abundant use of gold and the brilliant tones of the geometric backgrounds contribute an effect of richness. With some minor changes, the miniaturist follows the compositions of B . For example, the tortures on the first and second registers of Figure 48 are varied from those of Figure 46: the scenes of flaying and burning a victim with hot pincers are shifted from the punishments inflicted on the hapless subjects of Tyranny to those of Oligarchy. In the respective scenes of Good Government (Figs. 47 and 49) the attendant figures in Aristocracy and Timocracy are reduced from three to two. Although the nude forms of the tortured prisoners are lively and expressive, in general, the dry style of the Master of the Coronation Book tends to emphasize the schematic, diagrammatic aspect of the program.

Principles of parallelism and contrast order the paradigms. For one thing, the placement of the bad forms on the left of the bifolio conforms to medieval practice in assigning position on the left of the picture field to negative values or associations; placement on the right, therefore, connotes positive ones.[13] Juxtaposition of the two folios promotes the reader's understanding of the paradigms represented. First, the design encourages the reading of each miniature vertically from top to bottom. Two organizing principles correspond to Oresme's definitions and diagram. The first is the number of people who hold political power in both the good and the bad forms of government. In contrast, the horizontal comparison of the two types of regimes reinforces the analogies on each level among the three categories according to ethical values and goals. On the right in both sets of illustrations (Figs. 47 and 49), kingship (Royaume ) occupies the top register. Among the three good forms, Royaume represents political power held by one person; in the middle zone, Aristocracy (Aristocracie ), power held by a few; and in the lowest, Timocracy or Polity (Tymocracie or Policie commune ), power held by many.

Reading from the top down also corresponds to a descending hierarchy of value. Kingship is the best of the good forms; Aristocracy, the next; and Timocracy, or Polity, the least good. In a reverse but related sequence among the three bad forms, tyranny (Tyrannie ) on top is the worst form; oligarchy (Oligarchie ) in the middle, less bad; and Democracy (Democracie ), the least bad. One index of this order is the types of tortures inflicted on the subjects of the three bad regimes.


While disfiguration and death are the fates of the victims of Tyranny and Oligarchy, the pillorying, beating, and expulsion of the victims in Democracy are not so dire.

This system of relationships conveys the notion that among the three good forms debate and deliberation encourage peaceful communication among the rulers and the ruled. Instead of such communication, the images of the three bad forms show orders issued by the central authorities without consulting their subjects. In these regimes gestures of command authorize tortures and other punishments.

Costume and other accessories are key signifiers distinguishing between good and bad regimes. For example, the money bags of the tyrant and the oligarch demonstrate that personal gain motivates their rule. In contrast to the civilian dress of the three ranks of the good governors, the armor and weapons of the bad rulers indicate that they hold power by force. The verbal equivalent of these notions is the phrase "par puissance" (by force) in Oresme's diagram (Fig. 50), which explains both the ethical goals and methods by which the corrupt systems maintain power.

Another visual accent emphasizes that the apex or culmination of the three good forms of government is kingship. Highlighted by the enframing central tower, a gold cloth spread behind the monarch in B and a red one in D (Figs. 47 and 49 and Pl. 8) accentuate the position of honor at the top of the hierarchy. The monarch's blue-and-gold fleur-de-lis mantle in Figure 47 promotes the association of the French monarchy with the best form of government.[14] Oresme's judgment follows one strand of the medieval interpretation of Aristotle's model of the communitas perfecta , the Greek city-state, as the culmination of the hierarchy of social communities formed to assure the good life.[15] Although not always consistent, Oresme tries to extend and associate Aristotle's ideal community with the royal rule of the emerging nation-state. Such a position is supported by his statement that "the royal form of government is the best possible one and is also the rule and measure of the other."[16] Although the king in Figure 49 does not wear a fleur-de-lis mantle, the frontispieces clearly evaluate Royaume with the best form of government.

The architectural settings of the frontispieces not only have mnemonic and paradigmatic functions but also promote associations with deliberative and judicial chambers in which the rulers exercise their sovereignty. As noted above, the consultative character of the good regimes is characterized by communication among the rulers and the ruled. In all three registers of the bifolio frontispieces of B and D (Figs. 47 and 49) the latter sit on stone benches placed on a level lower than those of the former. The seating arrangement and composition of the figures on all three levels convey the ideas that ongoing discussion typifies the good regime as an association of citizens based on friendship and the goal of working together for the common good. The idea of the common good developed in the Politics was as eagerly taken up by medieval interpreters as the hierarchy of communities.[17] Implied also from the exchanges among the ruled in Figures 47 and 49 is the notion that decisions are made with the consent of the governed.[18] The grouping


Figure 51
A King and His Counsellors. Avis au roys.

of the figures and their communication by turns of the head and gestures associated with speech are two visual means that transmit these concepts. In D (Fig. 49), even more than in B (Fig. 47), the figures communicate vigorously. The king turns his body toward his officers, whose close seating promotes their animated interaction.

The composition also reflects Aristotle's view of a constitution "as the arrangement of magistracies in a state, and especially of the highest offices. The nature of the constitution depends on the seat of authority."[19] Thus, in Figure 49 the higher benches of the rulers of the three forms indicate their political sovereignty. But the position of the ruled on either side of the sovereign power demonstrates that as citizens they participate actively in the life of the state. On each register at least one member of a group communicates with the central authority.[20]

Costumes and attributes also suggest that different social classes participate in deliberations as officeholders. For example, in the upper two registers of Figures 47 and 49 men holding falcons are associated with the aristocracy; those with tonsures, the clergy; and those wearing long cloaks with fur lappets, lawyers. It is difficult to decide if a contemporary institution is specified, particularly in the cases of Aristocracie or Tymocracie, where the numbers of rulers and costumes are not differentiated. The case of Royaume, however, may allude to the king's council.[21] The miniature representing a king communicating with his counsellors in the Morgan Avis au roys offers an iconographic precedent of the treatment of the theme in the two frontispieces (Fig. 51). The compositions, architectural set-


tings, and accessories of Figures 47 and 49 allude to the function of the state to secure justice by the rule of law. Such an association accords with Aristotle's conviction that the good forms of government will seek justice in distributing "the offices of the state among its members on a plan or principles."[22] An even broader association identifies the three good constitutions with the rule of law. Oresme follows Aristotle in stating that the laws of the state must serve the public good.[23] Both the rulers and the ruled participate in the judicial process. One confirmation of this association lies in the evidence to be found in miniatures of French manuscripts of Gratian's Decretals dating from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries that depict judges of both civil and ecclesiastical courts seated on benches.[24]

A comparison with the opposite scene of the three bad forms (Figs. 46 and 48) reinforces these visual paradigms. For example, the ruled do not participate in the processes of government. Instead of communication and deliberation, unilateral orders issue from those who hold authority. Indeed, all decisions made for the profit of the rulers result in horrible injustices to, and punishment of, their subjects.

Historical Associations

Among the contemporary historical associations that the readers of Oresme's translations of the Politics might have made, one deserves particular emphasis. As noted above, the money bag in Figures 46 and 48 highlights the argument that, unlike the king whose concern for the welfare of his subjects motivates his reign, personal financial gain drives the tyrant. This distinction had long been a leitmotif of Oresme's writings. In his influential treatise De moneta , written by 1356, he discusses the debasement of the coinage as a method of the tyrant.[25] This subject of contemporary debate became urgent during the monetary crisis of the 1350s and was particularly acute because of the ransom demanded for the captured King John the Good. In chapters 25 and 26 of the De moneta , Oresme quotes the Politics in warning against debasement of the coinage, since "whenever kingship approaches tyranny it is near to its end, for by this it becomes ripe for division." Oresme further warns that "neither can a kingdom survive whose prince draws to himself riches in excess as is done by altering the coinage." To make his points more clearly, Oresme explains that "the prince should not enlarge his dominion over his subjects, should not overtax them or seize their goods, should allow or grant them liberties and should not interfere with them or use his plenary powers but only a power regulated by law and custom."[26]

In the conclusion to the De moneta , Oresme mentions the specific dangers to the French monarchy, if by debasing the coinage, it becomes a tyranny. At the time Oresme was pleading for monetary reform in the context of the political crisis of the 1350s and meetings of the Estates General during which opposition to the monarchy was evident:

Whoever, therefore, should in any way induce the lords of France to such tyrannical government, would expose the realm to great danger and pave the way to its


end. For neither has the noble offspring of the French kings learned to be tyrannous, nor the people of Gaul to be servile; therefore if the royal house decline from its ancient virtue, it will certainly lose the kingdom.[27]

Charles V was certainly familiar with the distinction between tyranny and kingship drawn by Oresme in the De moneta and its French translation, the Traité des monnoies . Thus the Aristotelian framework of these treatises could have formed the link with the Philosopher's theoretical classifications of the regimes. Such associations would have recalled the crises threatening the French monarchy that inspired Oresme's treatises and enframed them as references to a dangerous past, a paradigmatic present, and admonitions for the future. In this respect, the allusion to the French monarchy (particularly in Fig. 47) as the incarnation of the best type of the good regimes that seeks the commun proffit shares a common theme of political writing during Charles V's reign: his devotion to the chose publique .[28]

The communication among members of Royaume and Aristocracie in Figures 47 and 49 might also have recalled particular political events associated with the production and reading of the Politiques . Scholars have suggested that the election by Charles V's council in 1371 and 1372 of a royal chancellor, previously appointed by the king, was an innovation influenced by Aristotle's advocacy of public participation in the selection of high officers of the state.[29]

Iconographic Sources

Oresme's second instruction to the reader in the first illustrated Politics provides in all major respects the textual key to the visual structures of the bifolio arrangement of the frontispieces. Yet in addition to the Morgan Avis au roys , a few general iconographic precedents for the overall layout come to mind. One finds in book illustration a type of bifolio arrangement in which good and bad moral qualities figure opposite one another. For example, a manuscript from Ratisbon dating from 1165 depicts in three registers the virtues on the right and the vices on the left, respectively juxtaposed with human exempla.[30]

Similarly, an English manuscript of the City of God dated 1120 (possibly from the abbey of St. Augustine, Canterbury) has a three-register frontispiece, which on the second and third levels represents Bad Government and Good Government (Fig. 52).[31] Bad Government depicts a scene of warriors killing one another, while in Good Government two plowmen work peacefully in the fields. These two scenes correspond to the effects of good and bad government rather than to a classification of the six regimes. A more recent instance of this theme is, of course, Ambrogio Lorenzetti's famous fresco cycle of 1337 to 1340 in the Sala dei Nove of the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena (Figs. 53 and 54). As discussed in Chapter 9 above, personifications of Good and Bad Government are depicted in spaces separate from the effects of their rule. Although a general similarity of subject matter, possibly derived from Aristotelian sources, exists between the themes of these


Figure 52
Good and Bad Government.  St. Augustine , De civitate Dei.

frescoes and the Politiques frontispieces, in my opinion no direct dependence is evident.[32] The illustrations designed by Oresme are far more narrowly related to the text of the Politics than to the Lorenzetti frescoes.

Indeed, the frontispieces of the illustrated Politiques executed for Charles V are unique among their cycles in their scale, format, and explicit relationship to language. Moreover, among the later fourteenth-century illustrated manuscripts of Oresme's translation of Aristotle's text, no other miniatures for Book I offer a comparable program. The paradigmatic character of the frontispieces, emphasized by the architectural enframement, sets the tone for the entire program. Taken together, texts and images could function as aids to memory and talking points for Oresme's oral explication of these themes to his primary audience, the king and his counsellors.


Figure 53
Ambrogio Lorenzetti , Good Government.

Figure 54
Ambrogio Lorenzetti , Bad Government.


Classical Authorities on Political Theory (Book II)

Representations of Classical Theorists

Inasmuch as they relate directly to the content of the specific book before which they appear, the illustrations for Book II in B and D (Figs. 55, 56, and 57) are more typical of the rest of the Politiques cycles than the frontispieces. Yet the programs of Book II reveal a change of strategy in the relationship of image to text. Such a divergence says something about Oresme's limited choices in providing a viable program of illustrations for the text, as well as his judgment about the relevance of its contents for his primary readers.

In Book II of the Politics Aristotle discusses the theories of four ancient writers on the ideal state: Socrates, Plato, Phaleas of Chalcedon, and Hippodamus of Miletus. Following a medieval tradition discussed further below, in Figures 55 and 57 Socrates and Plato are represented together as master and pupil respectively. Although the four thinkers are identified in internal inscriptions, the miniatures offer few clues to their theories. The limited allusions to their writings are handled within the chosen representational mode: portraits of the philosophers. Unlike the frontispieces, in which the lexical functions of the illustrations dominate, these images have an indexical purpose, since they offer a guide to the sequence of authors whose ideas are presented in Book II.

Why did Oresme choose to focus on the thinkers rather than on their thoughts? One reason may be the abstract character of the theories put forward by the four sages. Oresme may have judged that the subjects were too radical or too remote to have any direct, practical application to contemporary problems faced by his readers. Furthermore, it is difficult to conceive of intelligible visual translations of such topics as Plato's "community of wives and children," Phaleas's "proposal for the equalization of property in land," or Hippodamus's plans for developing states according to triads of classes, territory, and laws.[1] Thus, recourse to the ancient iconographic type of the author portrait may have offered the only possible alternative for a visual program.

The Designs of the Miniatures

In B the cryptic and conservative representational mode of the illustration contrasts with the lavish layout of the two folios on which the three portraits are


Figure 55
From left : Socrates Dictates to Plato Phaleas. Les politiques d'Aristote, MS  B.


Figure 56
Hippodamus. Les politiques d'Aristote,  MS  B.


Figure 57
Top, from left : Socrates Dictates to Plato, Hippodamus;  bottom : Phaleas. Les politiques
d'Aristote, MS  D.


placed (Figs. 55 and 56). Executed by the artist known as the Master of the Coronation of Charles VI, folios 32v and 33 are the most lavish in this deluxe manuscript. For the first time the arms of Charles V (azure shields bearing three fleur-de-lis) appear twice on the lower margin of folio 32v and once on folio 33. Fleur-de-lis also appear as the overall geometric motif in the backgrounds of the miniatures of folio 32v. The decoration of this folio is exceptionally enhanced by the appearance of a rabbit and three birds among the ivy-leaf sprays of the upper and side borders.

All three miniatures are isolated by gold outer and tricolor interior quadrilobe frames. A continuous relationship between the two folios is assured not only by repetition of the shield but also by the alignment and color symmetry of the third miniature on folio 33. A blue-red-blue color scheme unites the layout. Placed after the chapter headings and above the introductory paragraph of Book II, Figures 55 and 56 are distinguished by their large size. The grisaille modeling of the figures, associated in the B cycle with this illuminator, increases their monumentality. The mannered elegance of the master's style, evident in the figures' drapery, hands, and feet, is echoed by the elongated proportions of the quadrilobes. Yet intensity of gesture and expression coexists with the somewhat archaic style. Compatible with the overall design of the folios, both figures and frames contribute to an antinaturalistic effect characteristic of the three miniatures in B executed by this master.

In contrast to the lavish layout of Figures 55 and 56, the illustration for Book II in D (Fig. 57) is more modest. Consistent with the re-editing of this manuscript, the three miniatures have been compressed into a two-register format on a single folio. The first and third exceed the width of the first column of text with which they are aligned. Each miniature is about half the size of its counterpart in B . A member of the workshop of the Master of the Coronation Book of Charles V followed the design of the miniatures of B in the interior quadrilobe frames and the color scheme of the background. The grisaille modeling of the figures in D is a feature characteristic of the entire cycle. As is usually the case in these two manuscripts, the miniatures appear below the running title identifying the book and above the chapter headings and summary paragraph. This order helps the reader to connect the image and its inscriptions with specific information about the contents of the individual book. For example, the general relationship of the images to text occurs in the introductory paragraph: "Cy commence le secont livre de politiques ou quel il traite les opinions anciennes de communication politique et contient .xxii. chapitres" (Here begins the second book of the Politics in which he discusses the ancient theories of political organizations; [it] contains twenty-two chapters).[2] Figures 55 and 56 also provide a linkage between the chapter heading and inscription of each miniature. Thus, Socrates' name occurs in the titles for Chapters 1 to 5 and 7 to 9; Phaleas's in Chapters 11 to 12; and Hippodamus's in Chapters 13 to 14. The normal order of reading the miniatures from upper left to upper right is, however, not observed in Figure 57. Here, the process of consolidating the miniatures on one folio has resulted in an irregular presentation of sequence in the text, where Phaleas is the second, not the last, of the three


thinkers discussed. It is possible, though, that the unusual feature of reading each element of the two-register format as an isolated entity allows a vertical ordering of the miniatures.

Iconography and Invention

As noted above, the well-established tradition of the author portrait serves as the basic iconographic source for two of the three representations of the ancient sages. It is particularly appropriate that this type, which originated in antiquity, should provide the ultimate models for the illustrations.[3] Yet the costumes and furnishings of these classical authorities in Figures 55–57 identify them as medieval teachers and writers. This practice exemplifies Panofsky's principle of disjunction between a classical theme and its medieval pictorial representation.[4]

The images of Socrates and Plato afford an apt example of such medieval interpretations of the conventions of the antique author portrait. One such strain is represented by the type of the Evangelist dictating to a scribe. Socrates sits in a high-backed, canopied chair dictating to the figure of Plato, who kneels at his feet. Each man wears academic dress that identifies him with his status as a "Regent Master of Theology."[5] Among the key elements of the costume is the plain supertunica , with its fur-trimmed hood. Plato's costume also includes two furred lappets on the chest, while Socrates wears a skullcap with an apex. Plato's tonsured head indicates that he is a cleric. Age differentiates the two thinkers: Socrates is depicted as a mature man with a long beard; Plato, as youthful and clean-shaven. The updating of the portrait types by these costumes and accessories places these thinkers within a recognized institutionalized structure for disseminating late medieval thought: the University of Paris. The use of French for the inscriptions identifying Phaleas and Hippodamus and for recording Socrates' ideas affords additional evidence for the authority invested in the vernacular and in French culture particularly.

Plato turns his upraised head, seen in profile, toward Socrates, whose pointing finger conveys the fact that he is speaking (Fig. 55). While listening to Socrates, Plato has written on his scroll the words dictated to him: "soit tout commun" (let everything be [held in] common). The iconography thus conveys the medieval tradition of interpreting Plato as the transmitter of Socrates' ideas rather than as a great thinker in his own right. The miniature also presents the oral communication of knowledge within a teaching situation: the magister cum discipulo relationship.[6] The Socrates-Plato image thus relates to another variation of the medieval author portrait: the writer as teacher, lecturer, or preacher.[7] The rise of universities and the mendicant orders contributed to making such themes popular. In particular, the assimilation of Aristotle's thought into the university curriculum made the depiction of the Philosopher as a teacher a popular theme in historiated initials placed at the beginning of the many Latin translations of his works.[8] A contemporary variation on the theme of the scholar as lecturer occurs in the lower left quadrilobe of Figure 7, the dedication frontispiece of A .


The Socrates-Plato image thus combines two types of the medieval author portrait. But in Figure 55 the inscription on Plato's scroll highlights a particular subject in Book II. The featured text "soit tout commun," highlights the origin in Socrates' teaching of Plato's theory that property and wives should be held in common. Since the text of the Republic was not known in the Middle Ages, it is not surprising that Oresme, referring to a commonality of wives and property, cites the second part of Plato's Timaeus and Apuleius's De dogmate Platonis .[9] The prominence given the words soit tout commun accords with the lengthy discussion of this concept in the text and glosses of the first nine chapters of Book II. The remaining seven chapters of Book II on ancient constitutions are not represented in the program of the miniature. The "soit tout commun" inscription may also highlight what Oresme considered a politically explosive or subversive theme. In the re-edition of D , however, Plato's scroll no longer carries an inscription (Fig. 57). Despite the addition of a curtain to suggest an interior setting, Figure 57 lacks the intensity of expression characteristic of the figures in Figure 55.

In both Figures 55 and 57 Phaleas's (Felleas ) attributes, not words, characterize the theories of this writer. Since his ideas relate to the redistribution of land and property, he is depicted with symbols of measurement. In his left hand he holds a T square on which is draped a length of string weighted on one end. A vertical rod and an unidentified instrument wrapped in string are also depicted. Facing and striding to the right, Phaleas gestures with upraised hand toward these implements. Standing in the middle of the picture field, he appears as an aged figure with a short beard. His plain bonnet and simple mantle, which lacks the fur-trimmed hood that indicates the academic status of Socrates and Plato, suggest a lesser, secular rank. The elongated proportions of his figure, visible especially in his thin feet shod in pointed poulains , are typical of the style of the Master of the Coronation of Charles VI. Although the iconography may derive from the representation of a standing author holding his writings, the figure of Phaleas also recalls the depiction of a sacred person identified by his attributes. Precedents for the appropriation of this scheme occur in the Ethiques illustrations of Justice in A of Book V (Fig. 24) and of Art in Book VI of C (Fig. 34). Phaleas's vertical posture may have been chosen to balance and vary the seated figures on his right and left. Yet the lack of any kind of setting to which Phaleas might relate results in a discordant effect. The addition of a building in D (Fig. 57) may have been an attempt to remedy the lack of a concrete object appropriate for Phaleas's instruments of measure.

Hippodamus of Miletus (Hypodamus ) is the last theorist represented (Figs. 56 and 57). He wears a skullcap similar to that of Socrates. The lack of a fur-trimmed hood on his plain mantle appears to disassociate him from university status. His white hair and long beard suggest advanced age. Facing right, he is seated on a low-backed chair equipped with a stool to which a writing stand is attached (Fig. 57). Next to it lie two upended books. Hippodamus is engaged in writing with pen and scraper on a ruled sheet. Although in Figure 56 it is possible to read individual letters and several words (le and les ), the writer's hands conceal the ensemble. Thus, unlike the images of Socrates and Plato or Phaleas, those of Hip-


Figure 58
The Dream of the Author. Le songe du vergier.


podamus do not reveal any clue about his ideas. Yet in all three portraits authoritative doctrine and wisdom are embodied in mature, masculine figures characterized by their white hair and beards.

In another sense, however, the attention given to the ancient writers of secular works may signify a shift in attitude toward establishing the notion of individual authorial identity.[10] By means of an inscription or attributes the portraits of Socrates and Plato and Phaleas characterize their works as distinct entities. Placement of the portraits within separate frames further concentrates attention on each one as an individual unit. The inscription of the name within the picture field helps the reader associate the thinker's appearance with the sequential presentation of his theories in Book II. The relationships governing the thinker's name, figure, and activities have indexical and memory functions.

These variations on a theme may well have served Oresme as convenient talking points in an oral explication of Book II. In particular, the Socrates-and-Plato miniature could have easily led to a discussion of the "soit tout commun" subject. Although seemingly remote from contemporary experience, Plato's theories about the commonality of property and wives may have struck a chord with Oresme's primary readers because of the dynastic disputes concerning inheritance of the French throne via the female line. In a similar vein, Phaleas's ideas about redistribution of land had a practical application in view of the protracted struggle with the English about claims to territories in France. Oresme's ability to relate the ideas of the ancient sages to contemporary events is revealed in his long commentary on the issue of voluntary poverty of the clergy, inserted in a refutation of Socrates' views on common ownership of property.[11]

Oresme's long-standing mentor relationship with Charles V and the oral transmission of knowledge exemplified in the Socrates-Plato miniature seem to present appropriate analogues for discussions suggested by the writings of the ancient sages. In visual terms the prominence accorded these secular writers reflects the growth of individual authorial identity. Other contemporary portraits in which the author forms part of a narrative or addresses an audience seem far more adventurous than Figures 55–57 in asserting the writer's identity. The unknown writer of the Songe du vergier , a manuscript commissioned by Charles V in the 1370s, appears in the frontispiece by the Jean de Sy Master as a sleeping figure whose dream unfolds in the discussions of the figures deployed above him (Fig. 58).[12] Also executed by the Jean de Sy Master and also dating from the 1370s is a highly individualized portrait of Guillaume de Machaut in one of two frontispieces of his collected poetic works that shows him introduced to important characters in his writings (Fig. 59).[13] By comparison, the exactly contemporaneous illustrations of the ancient sages in Book II of the Politiques seem almost deliberately archaizing: perhaps the retardataire style of the illuminator of Figures 55 and 56 was an attempt to assert their antiquity.

Oresme's historical interest in classical theories and theorists is consistent with his search for understanding of ancient culture. At the same time, presenting the


Figure 59
Nature Introduces Her Children to the Poet Guillaume de Machaut. Collected
Works of Guillaume de Machaut.

ideas of the ancient sages in the vernacular claims for French culture the means of inheriting, transmitting, and interpreting these authoritative sources. While Figures 55–57 are among the most conservative of the Politiques cycles, their iconographic tradition bestows on the author portraits a new cultural importance.


Threats to the Body Politic (Book III)

Metaphorical and Formal Relationships

The illustrations of Book III are the first in a series of three that deal with the metaphor of the body politic. While Oresme may have chosen the subject of the miniatures for Book III because of practical considerations, his selection of the theme is highly significant for several reasons. Most obviously, Oresme thought that Aristotle's discussion of threats to, or maintenance of, the health of the body politic was a subject of the greatest interest to his primary readers. Second, in interpreting Aristotle's ideas both textually and visually, Oresme had the means to put forth his own counsel on these subjects. Of course, as translator he was bound to present these ideas in representational modes grounded in the text. Indeed, the variety of modes evident in the series reflects both the illustrations' overt lexical and other more allusive, deceptively nonverbal metaphorical functions.

In format and layout the illustrations for Book III of the Politiques in B and D (Figs. 60 and 61) are very similar. Occupying two thirds of the text block, both miniatures adopt two-register formats and appear at the head of the text above the summary paragraph and the beginning of the chapter headings for the book.[1] The decoration of Figure 60 is, however, more elaborate than that of Figure 61. The bas-de-page of the first repeats the bird and arms of Charles V familiar from Book II in B (Figs. 55 and 56). In addition, a graceful crane occupies the outermost ivy-leaf spray on the lower right margin. The elegant, mannered style of the Master of the Coronation of Charles VI is again recognizable in Figure 60, while the drier, blockier forms of a member of the workshop of the Master of the Coronation Book of Charles V are evident in Figure 61 (Pl. 9).

Yet in two respects the illustrations for Book III of Charles V's copies of the Politiques are highly unusual. First of all, the two-register format is organized in a distinctive manner. Although set within individual quadrilobe frames, the upper two panels are designed to be read as a single unit. Second, for the only time within the cycle, the illustrations carry no inscriptions of any kind. Indeed, in B even the running title for the book is lacking. Although this error was corrected in D , and various changes were made within the individual scenes, inscriptions are not included. Since the illustrations of Books VI and VII in D (Figs. 71 and 75) add inscriptions lacking in B , it is fair to assume that the elimination of this feature in Figures 60 and 61 was deliberate. Oresme's motives in adopting such a strategy require some discussion.


Figure 60
Above : A King Banishes a Subject;  below, from left : A Peasant Cuts off the Tallest Ears
of Grain, A Painter Erases an Error. Les politiques d'Aristote,  MS  B.


Figure 61
Above : A King Banishes a Subject;  below, from left : A King Cuts off the Tallest Ears of
Grain in the Presence of a Messenger A Painter Erases an Error. Les politiques
d'Aristote, MS  D.


The Relationship between Text and Image

One problem that faced Oresme in designing the program of illustration for Book III is that the first two main topics discussed in Chapters 1 through 12 are citizenship and the six forms of government. The organization of the overlapping subject matter of the Politics may have prompted Oresme to choose the crucial subjects discussed in the first part of Book III as the three-register frontispiece of Book I. Citizenship is the topic of the illustrations of Book VII (Figs. 74 and 75). Therefore, Oresme had to select a topic that appears in the last third of Book III. Without clues to sequence and a linking inscription, Oresme's readers would have found it difficult to decipher the relation of the image to the text.

The first indication of a connection between the meaning of the miniature and a text passage occurs in the heading for Chapter 18: "Ou .xviii.e chapitre il monstre comme l'en met hors des cités ceulz qui ont superhabundance de puissance oultre les autres" (In the eighteenth chapter he shows how they turn out of cities those whose power too greatly exceeds that of others).[2] The title for the following chapter continues the discussion: "Ou .xix.e chapitre il monstre comment ceulz qui excedent ou superhabundent en puissance politique sunt mis hors des cités justement ou injustement" (In the nineteenth chapter he shows how those who have an excess or superabundance of political power are turned out of cities justly or unjustly).[3] To narrow the search for a key word that can link text and image, the reader searches further in Chapter 18. There, the noun relégation provides a vital lexical clue to the identification of the theme of the miniature. Not surprisingly, the translator provides a verbal definition of the term: "Et relégation, ce est assavoir bouter hors les gens excellens et les chacier de la cité ou du païs, a ceste meisme puissance ou cest effect" (Banishment is, to wit, to kick out people who excel and to drive them out of the city or country, with the same power or with this effect).[4] A synonym for ostracism or political exile, relégation figures in briefer form in Oresme's glossary of difficult words: "Relégation est prins en cest livre largement pour toutes manieres de exil ou de bannissement" (Relégation is taken in this book in a broad sense [to mean] all manners of exile or banishment).[5] In Chapter 19 Oresme uses the word extensively to discuss the efficacy and dangers of such a policy.[6]

Thus, the first challenge to Oresme's readers is to supply a key element of his method as a translator: the essential definition of a generic term. For a modern reader, even so distinguished a one as Léopold Delisle, the word-image relationship proved too difficult.[7] In Figure 60, not only the lack of an inscription but also the mannered figure style of the miniaturist may have hindered Delisle's train of association. Indeed, the first identification of the illustration of Book III with the concept of ostracism occurs in an article on a manuscript of the Politiques executed in 1396–97 for Charles V's son, Louis of Orléans (Fig. 62).[8] Here the isolation of the leftmost figure of the upper right quadrilobe may have offered the vital clue to association with ostracism or exile.


Figure 62
Above : A King Banishes a Subject;  below, from left : A King Cuts off the Tallest
Ears of Grain in the Presence of a Messenger, The Confrontation of a Nude and a
Clothed Figure. Les politiques d'Aristote,  Paris, Bibl. Nat.

Perhaps at this point a description of the upper two quadrilobes of Figures 60 and 61 is in order. A king, accompanied by a richly clad, gesticulating figure, extends a baton or rod bridging the gap between the upper left and right quadrilobes. In Figure 60 the baton just touches the right hip of the fashionably dressed figure standing with crossed legs at the left of the second scene.[9] The quadrilobes interrupt the length of the baton and make the gesture more difficult to read. A small, but significant, void, emphasized by the tree-like pattern in the background,


separates him from the other three men standing together to form a group. As a sign of wealth or status, the elegant feather in the hat of this figure distinguishes him from his companions. Although this telling detail is omitted from Figure 61, the comparable person in this miniature stands next to the left frame of the quadrilobe, where the king's baton touches his chest more decisively.

In the lower register, more significant changes between Figures 60 and 61 take place. On the lower left of Figure 60 a single male figure, who wears a peasant's short jacket and hose, fingers the tall ears of a stalk of grain. In the same place in Figure 61, a king accompanied by a figure carrying a spear performs the same action. This scene depicts Aristotle's account of the advice given by the tyrant Periander of Corinth to another tyrant, Thrasybulus, on how to deal with the threat to his rule posed by citizens who had become too prominent and powerful. Since Oresme's version of the story is broken up by glosses, the comparable passage from Barker's translation of the Politics is easier to follow:

Thrasybulus, according to the tale that is told, sent an envoy to ask for advice. Periander gave no verbal answer; he simply switched off the outstanding ears, in the corn-field where he was standing, until he had levelled the surface. The envoy did not understand the meaning of his action, and merely reported the incident; but Thrasybulus guessed that he had been advised to cut off the outstanding men in the state.[10]

This passage makes possible an interpretation of the actions that take place in Figures 60 and 61. On the top register a king (possibly Thrasybulus) singles out a leading citizen for banishment or exile. Whereas Aristotle states that the offending personages will be killed, Oresme's gloss states that the passage must be interpreted in the sense of banishment.[11] On the lower left, the ears of grain are being pulled off. Instead of the solitary peasant of Figure 60, in Figure 61 a king, accompanied by the envoy, performs the action. This substitution incorporates the notion of the uncomprehending envoy as witness and reporter of the silent advice enacted by Periander.

The lower right quadrilobe also shows significant changes between Figures 60 and 61. Common to both, however, is the representation on the left of a man washing off with a sponge and bowl the arm of the figure on the right. But in Figure 61 the latter is nude and stands out against a large, dark panel set behind him. These alterations make it easier to decipher the possible meaning of the scene, which is derived from a passage in Chapter 19. Following the discussion of how regimes deal with citizens who have amassed too much power, Aristotle declares that in order to assure the well-being of the state the relationship between classes or groups must stand in right proportion to one another.[12] Aristotle here draws the analogy to a painter, who, in creating a form, cannot represent one part, such as a limb, as too large without destroying the harmony of all the parts. In other words, the lower right quadrilobe depicts a painter or an artist correcting his mistake of making the right arm of the accompanying figure too long. This


notion is clearer in Figure 61 than in Figure 60. The substitution of a nude for a clothed form more readily promotes the association with a work of art rather than with a living human being in contemporary costume. Such a relationship is encouraged further in Figure 61 by the contrasting dark panel behind the nude. Together, nude and panel suggest that the painter is erasing or washing his error off a painted form. Although the nonnaturalistic features of the scene's style and setting somewhat obscure this interpretation, an English translation of the text supports such a reading: "This rule of proportion may also be observed in the arts and sciences generally. A painter would not permit a foot which exceeded the bounds of symmetry, however beautiful it might be, to appear in a figure on his canvas."[13] Oresme's version makes the same point, although instead of a man he uses the example of an animal:

T. Et la raison appert par ce que l'en fait es autres ars et sciences; car un peinteur ne lesse pas ou ne seuffre pas quant il fait en peinture une beste que elle eust un pié qui excedast et passast la commensuration et proportion qu'il doit avoir en quantité ne aussi ne seuffre il pas que en beauté il soit trop different des autres membres. (T. And the reason is evident from what is done in the other arts and sciences; for a painter, when he paints an animal, does not allow or permit one paw to exceed and surpass the measurement and proportion that it should have in size, nor does he permit it to be too different in beauty from the other members.)

G. Car se il passoit mesure ne en quantité ne en beauté, tout l'ymage en seroit plus lait. (G. For if it were disproportionately large in size or in beauty, the whole picture would be uglier as a result.)[14]

In the fourth chapter of Book V Oresme returns to the theme that no one party or group in the state should acquire too much power. Here the context relates to the undermining and changes of regimes caused by undue concentration of power: a reflection of a lack of proportion among the parts of the body politic:

T. Item, transmutations de policies sunt faites pour excrescence, qui est pour proportion. (T. Item, transmutations of forms of government come about through abnormal growth for the sake of achieving proportion.)

G. Ce est a dire pource que aucune partie de la policie est creue et faite grande oultre proportion deue. (G. That is to say, because any part of the government has been increased and enlarged beyond due proportion.)

T. Car aussi comme un corps est composé de ses parties et convient qu'elles cressent et soient faites grandes proportionelment afin que la commensuration et la mesure des unes parties ou resgards des autres demeure et soit gardee. (T. For just as a body is composed of its parts and it is proper that they grow and increase proportionally so that the size and proportion of the parts in regard to one another are fixed and may be preserved.)

G. Et ceste proportion doivent savoir ceulz qui funt les ymages. (G. And those who make pictures must know [this system of] proportion.)[15]


This passage thus reinforces the general interpretation of the fourth panel of the quadrilobe as an artist's correction of an error in making the arm of a figure disproportionately long. More specifically, the analogy in the text emphasizes the obligations of image makers to construct the parts of the body according to a consistent canon of proportion.

The Analogy of the Body Politic

This aesthetic canon rests on a basic metaphor of Western political thought: the analogy of the body politic. First developed by Plato in the Republic and the Laws , it is restated by Aristotle at the beginning of the Politics : "The polis is prior in the order of nature to the family and the individual. The reason for this is that the whole is necessarily prior [in nature] to the part. If the whole body be destroyed, there will not be a foot or a hand."[16] Substantially expanded by John of Salisbury in the Policraticus to create specific equivalents among parts of the body and parts of the state, the analogy of the body politic figures in Oresme's glosses and commentaries on Chapter 9 of Book II, Chapter 4 of Book V, and Chapter 10 of Book VII of the Politiques .[17] Oresme also includes a reference to the analogy in the index of noteworthy subjects of the Politiques under the heading Moiens en richeces : "Item, encor appert par une bele consideration qui compare la policie et ses parties a un corps et a ses membres" (Item, it again appears [through] a beautiful metaphor that compares the form of government and its parts to a body and its members).[18]

A rare visualization of the body-politic metaphor occurs in the Morgan Avis au roys (Fig. 63). Adapted from the iconography of the zodiacal man, a nude, well-proportioned, crowned, and bearded male figure represents the physical embodiment of the political body. Inscriptions identify parts of the human body with functions and offices of certain social classes and institutions of government. The resulting hierarchy of political and social values corresponds to the traditional evaluations of the organs of the human body in ancient and medieval anatomical and philosophical texts. For example, occupying the representational and metaphorical top of the hierarchy of the body politic is the king who is its head. As the most distinctive part of the human anatomy, in which the soul, reason, intelligence, and sensations reside, the head is the ruling principle to which all other parts of the human body and the body politic are subject. Next, associated with the vital human faculties of vision and hearing, the seneschals, bailiffs, and provosts and other judges are compared to the eyes and ears of the body politic. The counsellors and wise men are linked to the essential function of the heart. As defenders of the commonwealth, the knights are identified with the hands. Because of their constant voyages around the world, the merchants are associated with the legs. Finally, laborers, who work close to the earth and support the body, are its feet.

Oresme's interpretation of the analogy emphasizes the economic context of undue concentration of power in a few hands as a threat to the welfare of the


Figure 63
 The Body Politic. Avis au roys.

body politic. As noted earlier, Oresme had sounded this theme in his influential treatise of about 1356, De moneta .[19] Because of his reference to the Politics , Oresme's treatment of the analogy is worth citing:

The state or kingdom, then, is like a human body and so Aristotle will have it in Book V of the Politics . As, therefore, the body is disordered when the humours flow too freely into one member of it, so that member is often thus inflamed and overgrown while the others are withered and shrunken and the body's due proportions are destroyed and its life shortened; so also is a commonwealth or a kingdom when riches are unduly attracted by it.[20]

Interwoven with the body-politic analogy is Aristotle's concern with proportional relationships in aesthetics, ethics, and politics. Oresme's translations of the Ethics and the Politics reflect these important concepts. In addition, from a mathematical point of view, about 1350 he wrote a treatise on proportion, the De proportionibus proportionum .[21] A visual reference to Oresme's numerical use of proportional relationships occurs in the illustration of Justice distributive in Book V of A (Fig. 24). The program of the illustrations for Book IV of the Politiques will explore further the connections between political stability, the undue concentration of wealth in the hands of a few, and the analogy of the body politic.


The Periander/Tarquin Tale

While the lower right quadrilobe of Figures 60 and 61 ties together diverse strands of Oresme's writings, the question remains whether without inscriptions the references in the first three quadrilobes to Periander's advice were intelligible to contemporary readers. Appearing in Herodotus, as well as in Aristotle, the story was certainly well known in antiquity.[22] Periander was one of the Seven Sages, whose wise sayings or deeds were collected in both Greek and Latin sources.[23] The Greek form of the tale is also included in a classical source of the third century A.D.: Diogenes Laertius's Lives of Eminent Philosophers .[24] A Latin version of the story contained in the first book of Livy's History of Rome concerns the advice Tarquinius Superbus gave to his son Sextus in regard to the Gabii. While striking the heads of poppies (instead of the ears of grain) in the presence of messengers, Tarquinius's advice was understood by his son to mean "that he rid himself of the chief men of the state."[25] Livy's account of the Periander/Tarquin tale exists also in the Factorum et dictorum memorabilium of Valerius Maximus.[26]

In the Middle Ages the Latin version of the Periander/Tarquin tale survived through various channels. For instance, the writings of Valerius Maximus provide ample material for exempla used in popular forms of medieval literature such as sermons, commentaries on the Bible, and other sacred texts. Indeed, as Beryl Smalley points out, the original text of the Factorum et dictorum memorabilium itself was a collection of exempla "avant la lettre."[27] Moreover, it was a common practice to introduce quotations from diverse classical sources, including Livy's History of Rome , into Psalter commentaries and other types of exegetical and didactic literature.[28] Also used in sermons and other books of moral instruction were citations from Aristotle's Ethics, Politics , and Economics . It is, therefore, likely that the Periander/Tarquin story was well known from popular medieval literature.

The king and his counsellors also had at hand vernacular versions of the accounts by Livy and Valerius Maximus. As discussed in Chapters 1 and 3 above, Pierre Bersuire's French translation of the first, third, and fourth Decades of Livy executed for John the Good between 1354 and 1356 survives in a lavishly decorated manuscript commissioned by Charles V.[29] Since the Tarquinius story occurs in Book I of Livy, it was included in Bersuire's translation. Furthermore, the original copy of Simon de Hesdin's translation of the first four books of Valerius Maximus commissioned by Charles V still survives.[30] In short, Oresme could have assumed his reader's familiarity with the Periander/Tarquin tale through popular, classical, or vernacular sources.

The Visual Structures

Investigation of both the internal and textual sources of Figures 60 and 61 shows that Oresme's initial challenge to the reader of identifying the precise content of the upper register may not have been too difficult. A second exercise, supplying a


definition of the missing word, relégation , might possibly have presented a greater obstacle. Yet recognition of the ostracism/exile theme might also have sparked comprehension of the climactic message of the lower left quadrilobe, to cut down men of the state who had become too powerful. More problematic is the reader's understanding of the meaning of the lower right quadrilobe both in itself and in relation to the preceding scenes.

Does the visual structure of the illustrations help the reader to interpret the ensemble? The four-scene format certainly requires that the tale be compressed. The treatment of the upper register as a single unit, tied together by the king's baton, combines the request for advice with the action of ostracizing a powerful person. In verbal terms the act parallels a definition of the word relégation . Justifying the action taken, the lower left quadrilobe is the equivalent of a maxim or proverb summarizing a message such as "Off with their heads." The scene on the lower right constitutes a concluding moralizing judgment or warning about the preceding episodes. A possible moral might be: "Rectify disproportionate power relationships in the body politic." In structuring the illustration Oresme could have applied certain techniques used in his translations: definition, compression, comparison, and exemplification.[31] In Chapter 18, Oresme refers to the Periander/Tarquin tale as "en parabole." Oresme's apparent use of the term to mean a proverb would explain the pithiness of the visual structure of Figures 60 and 61. Yet another strategem may have guided Oresme in proposing the program. In all versions of the Periander/Tarquin tale a constant characteristic is "silent communication." This theme is embodied in Periander's action (or that of the peasant in Figure 60) of pulling up the tallest plants, identified in the various versions of the tale as corn, wheat, or poppies. The corollary of silent communication is the understanding of the message by the person requesting advice via the report given by the uncomprehending envoy. Søren Kierkegaard alludes to the Periander/Tarquin tale in the epigraph to his famous work Fear and Trembling : "What Tarquinius Superbus said in the garden by means of the poppies, the son understood but the messenger did not."[32] Oresme's elimination of inscriptions may well have carried out in the illustration the important theme of silent communication. As the illustration of Book IX in C shows (Fig. 41), Oresme enjoyed providing riddles for his readers to solve. What greater compliment to their acuity could he offer than the silent communication of the Periander/Tarquin tale?

The Periander/Tarquin Tale and Contemporary Historical Experience

Another facet of the silent-communication theme is that the action recommended by Periander was too dangerous to be written down or transmitted orally by the messenger. The effectiveness of the stratagem depends on confidentiality, secrecy, and surprise. For, if the intended victims somehow learned about their intended fate, they might have exercised their own power to rid themselves of the person who sought the advice.


Charles V and his counsellors may well have recalled the unstable situation facing the Valois dynasty in 1356 following the crushing defeat of French forces by the English at Poitiers. The monarchy was threatened by the dynastic claims of Charles the Bad of Navarre, as well as the rural revolt of the Jacquerie and the opposition in Paris led by the provost of the wool guild, Etienne Marcel, who was murdered in 1358.[33] The Aristotelian concept of preserving a proportional system of relationships among groups holding political power in a state may have seemed a useful theoretical legitimization of a policy calling for the exile or banishment of current or future opponents of the monarchy.

Furthermore, the readers of the Politiques could well have recalled a recent example of official policy. In the context of negotiations with Charles the Bad for the exchange of certain territory, Charles V's ordinance of 8 March 1372 pronounced that the right of banishment in a criminal case was an exclusive royal prerogative.[34] Perhaps Oresme's design of the miniature was intended as references to Charles the Bad and potential opponents of the regime that were more prudent to veil by means of the Periander/Tarquin tale and the device of silent communication.

Thus, the miniatures in Charles V's copies of Book III of the Politiques (Figs. 60 and 61) represent a departure from Oresme's usual strategies in devising the programs of illustrations. The first feature entails a special challenge to the reader to identify the subject matter, locate the content within the text, and supply the missing key word of the verbal definition. Oresme may have relied on some of his basic rhetorical techniques as translator in setting forth such an unconventional program and in calling for his readers to supply the missing definition, maxim, and metaphors. It is entirely possible that he did not underestimate the abilities of his politically sensitive and acute audience. Their historical experience, knowledge of royal prerogatives in the matter of exile, and possible targets for such a policy could have simplified their task in deciphering the illustrations and increased their appreciation of their subtle construction. Any oral explication by Oresme might well have taken account of the receptivity of his audience to the theme of silent communication, especially in view of his seemingly paradoxical violation of its rules.


Foundations of Political Stability (Book IV)

A Diagrammatic and Prescriptive Paradigm

In an important sense the illustrations for Book IV in B and D (Figs. 64 and 65) continue the theme of stabilizing or neutralizing threats to the body politic inaugurated in the program of Book III, even though they contrast sharply with those of Figures 60 and 61. The allusive and cryptic representational mode chosen for the illustrations of Book III gives way in Book IV to a diagrammatic and prescriptive paradigm that serves as both model and example.

In the opinion of some scholars, Books IV to VI of the Politics provide a practical and unified treatment of the types and subtypes of the six forms of government. Whereas Aristotle examines Kingship and Aristocracy in Book III, in Book IV he analyzes the remaining four: Polity, Tyranny, Oligarchy, and Democracy.[1] Aristotle's discussion is based on his profound knowledge of the historical development and contemporary practice of forms of governments in ancient Greece. Once again Oresme had to translate the verbal concepts and historical context of the Politics into terms and institutions intelligible to his readers. Essential to his task are his selection, definition, and clarification of key terms both verbally and visually.

Styles, Decoration, and Layout of the Illustrations

Figure 64 (also Pl. 10) introduces a sequence of four illustrations executed by the Master of Jean de Sy and his workshop. In comparison to the retardataire elegance of the illustrations of the previous two books executed by the Master of the Coronation of Charles VI, the more naturalistic style of the Jean de Sy Master stands out strongly. His ability to give expressive vitality to the poses and gestures of the figures is clearly apparent in the diagrammatic illustration of Book IV. Fluid modeling and subtle alternation of the customary red-blue-green color chord and geometric backgrounds of the three compartments of the upper and lower register both unify and contrast them. A more naturalistic presentation results from eliminating the restrictive quadrilobe enframement of the two preceding illustrations. Instead, the entire miniature and the six individual compartments of Figure 64 are divided by slender gold exterior frames and pink, blue, and white painted interior ones.[2] The figures stand on narrow ground planes beneath rounded gold arches


Figure 64
 Above, from left : Povres gens, Bonne policie—Moiens, Riches gens;  below, from left : Povres
gens, Mauvaise policie—Moiens Riches gens. Les politiques d'Aristote  MS  B.


Figure 65
 Above, from left:  Povres gens, Bonne policie—Moiens, Riches gens;  below, from left :
Povres gens, Mauvaise policie—Moiens Riches gens. Les politiques d'Aristote,  MS  D.


decorated with corner lozenges and ending in bosses. Together with the frames, this abbreviated architectural element suggests a unified stagelike space in which the six compartments are separate but spatially united in a common structure.

In D the comparable illustration of Book IV (Fig. 65) closely follows the format and layout of Figure 64. The dimensions show a proportional similarity, as each miniature occupies about two-thirds of the folio. In the interests of economy, two major changes have been introduced. The gold arcades of Figure 64 are lacking and the figures are modeled in grisaille. Alternating red and blue geometric backgrounds, green washes, and other touches of color are, however, used for the ground plane and accessories held by the figures. The miniaturist is a member of the workshop of the Master of the Coronation Book of Charles V. Reduction of the modeling of the figures and accentuation of their linear contours emphasize the diagrammatic nature of the program. With their large heads, rigid stances, and exaggerated gestures, the individual forms seem like puppets. The central compartment of the lower register is somewhat marred by the carelessly written inscription that exceeds the allotted space.

The Missing Definition

A last feature missing in Figure 65 is the empty rectangular band in the center space above the frame of Figure 64, where the intended inscription was not inserted. While it is possible that the omission was an oversight, it may also be the case that Oresme may have intended that readers should "fill in the blank" with the word policie .[3] A key term in Aristotle's text derived from the Latin politia, policie is a neologism in French defined by the translator in the glossary of difficult words as a political system, form of government, or constitutional government:

Policie est l'ordenance du gouvernement de toute la communité ou multitude civile. Et policie est l'ordre des princeys ou offices publiques. Et est dit de polis en grec, qu'est multitude ou cité.

(Polity is the arrangement of the government of the whole community or city population. And polity is the arrangement of authority or public offices. And it comes from polis in Greek, which is population or city.)[4]

In addition to this general usage of the term, Oresme employs policie as a synonym for Timocracy, the third of the good forms of government after Kingship and Aristocracy. As Oresme notes in a gloss, Timocracy is used in Book VIII of the Ethics to connote the particular form of constitution in which the multitude rules for the common good.[5] In English, this third form of government is sometimes called a Republic or, more frequently, Polity. Here it seems preferable to use the latter term as a synonym for the more archaic Timocracy.


Oresme's program for Figures 64 and 65 includes both meanings of policie . This double form of visual definition corresponds to the Aristotelian concept of definition as genus and species.[6] In Chapters 12 and 13 of Book IV Aristotle discusses Polity in a specific sense as the third of the good forms. Polity is a mixed constitution: a blend of Oligarchy and Democracy that avoids the extremes of these perverted forms.[7] Furthermore, Aristotle distinguishes between the social class that holds power according to wealth in the bad regimes: the poor rule in Democracy, and the rich in Oligarchy. But the economic group that holds sovereign power in Polity is the middle class. Thus, if the reader supplies the missing word for the inscription in Figure 64 as policie , examination of the headings for Chapters 12 and 13 would lead to definitions of that term. The first title reads: "Ou .xii.e chapitre il determine de une espece de policie appellee par le commun nom policie" (In the twelfth chapter he discusses one kind of government called by the common name of Polity).[8] The next heading states: "Ou .xiii.e chapitre il monstre comme ceste policie doit estre instituee" (In the thirteenth chapter he shows how this Polity must be instituted).[9]

Figures 64 and 65 also refer to the more general use of policie as a system of government. The index of noteworthy subjects offers references to the context of Oresme's terminology under the entry for policie : "La principal condition qui fait toute policie estre bonne en son espece et forte et durable—IV, 15, 16. Et de ce soubz cest mot moiens en richeces " (The basic condition that makes every polity in its individual way good, strong, and lasting—IV, 15, 16. And more about this under the heading moiens en richeches [the mean in wealth]).[10] This cross-reference leads to the entry under that heading:

La principal chose qui fait policie estre tres bonne en son espece et seure et durable est que les citoiens soient moiens sans ce que les uns excedent trop les autres en richeces, mes en proportion moienne. Et tant sunt plus loing de cest moien de tant est la policie moins bonne—IV, 16, 17.

(The principal thing that makes a polity very good of its kind and sure and lasting is that the citizens should be of average means, without some exceeding the others too much in wealth, but proportional to the mean. And the further they are from this mean, the less good is the polity—IV, 16, 17.)[11]

In this context, Oresme refers to Polity not as a specific constitution but as a generic system of government.

Inscriptions and the Index of Noteworthy Subjects

Inscriptions above the central compartments of Figures 64 and 65 lead the reader to further entries in the index of noteworthy subjects relating to the roles of the


classes depicted respectively in the upper and lower registers: bonne policie—moiens (good polity—the middle class) and mauvaise policie—moiens (bad polity—the middle class). Under povres gens (poor people) in the index, two references to Book IV reinforce the message that the poor are less desirable governors than the middle class. Within the same heading a second entry explains: "Comment selon une consideration vraie, ce est inconvenient que aucune partie de la communité ou aucun estat soit simplement de povre gens—IV, 16" (How, according to a valid argument, it is not good that any part of the community or any estate be composed only of poor people).[12]

The linking function of the inscriptions to further explanations in the text continues in the right-hand compartments of the upper and lower registers of Figures 64 and 65. There the word riches leads to four references in the index of noteworthy subjects under the heading of riches gens (rich people). All four entries cite Chapters 12, 16, and 17 of Book IV. The first of two relevant references states that the moderately rich are better than the poor: "Que les riches sunt melleurs que ne sunt les povres, et est a entendre des richeces moiennement—IV, 12."[13] The second says that regimes are more likely to be destroyed by the rich than by the poor: "Que les policies sunt plus destruictes par gens tres riches que par autres—IV, 17."[14] Guided by these intriguing entries, the reader could turn directly to Chapters 16 and 17 of Oresme's translation to follow Aristotle's argument regarding the crucial role of the middle class. One such passage reads:

Et donques appert que la communion ou communication politique qui est par gens moiens est tres bonne, et que les cités politizent bien et ont bonne policie qui sunt teles qu'en elles la plus grande partie ou la plus vaillante ou plus puissante est de gens qui sunt ou moien.

(And thus it appears that the community or political association which is [formed] by the middle class is very good, and that states which work well politically and have a good form of government are those in which the most active or most powerful part is of the middle class.)[15]

The presence of a sizable middle class, then, ensures the political stability of a constitution.

The Visual Structure of the Illustrations

To combine the lexical and indexical functions of the illustrations in a coherent, comprehensible system was no easy task. Although the design of the format reveals complex political, social, and economic relationships, the scheme adopted seems simple and clear. The two-register format conforms to a contrast between good and bad entities on the top and bottom respectively. This type of contrast between opposites is found in Aristotle's writings and "was common in classical, medieval,


and Renaissance logic."[16] The subdivision of each register into three compartments provides further horizontal and vertical comparisons of individual units to each other and to the register as a whole. Position on the left, right, and center also communicates ethical and social oppositions.

Allied to the visual and lexical structure as a means of communicating social contrasts is costume. The clothes worn by the figures in the six compartments signal and reinforce the differences among the social classes in a polity. The long mantles or short pourpoints and tight hose of the middle class in the central compartment are distinguished from the lavish, fur-trimmed robes and high-domed hats of the rich on the right and the short tunics, torn hose, and bare feet of the laboring poor on the left. The poor are also characterized as to occupation and status by their tools.

The number of figures in the various compartments explains key concepts. The most obvious example relates to the contrast between the middle class in Bonne policie above and Mauvaise policie below. In the Good Polity the middle class is represented by a crowd, while in the Bad Polity this group has suffered a severe reduction to two members. The tightly packed central group in Bonne policie engrossed in speech gives the impression of a closely knit body united in a common goal. The circular group of Figure 64 conveys the idea of animated, cooperative communication. By way of contrast, the two figures in the central compartment of the lower register of Figure 65 face each other across a central void that emphasizes their isolation. The treelike form of the background pattern intensifies the effect. In Figure 64 the rich in Mauvaise policie have increased by one third over the two imposing figures of the Bonne policie.[17] The most subtle device of the visual structure of Figures 64 and 65 is the use of the central compartment to signify the mean in relation to physical position, socioeconomic status, and political/ethical orientation. Standing in the center of the composition, the middle class occupies the mean position between the extremes of poverty and wealth.

The clarity of Oresme's program for Book IV contrasts with an illustration in the Morgan Avis au roys that also deals with the middle class as a stabilizing force in the body politic (Fig. 66). A blank for an inscription, like that of Figure 64, occurs in the center of the composition. On the left, a king points with his right hand to the seated figure in the center, representative of the middle class, who counts out the money in his purse. Also pointing to the central figure is the person standing on the right, who may represent a member of the wealthy class. The contrast between the classes, characteristic of the costumes, visual structures, and inscriptions of Figures 64 and 65, remains undeveloped in the Morgan miniature.

The Middle Class and the Aristotelian Concept of the Mean

The placement of the middle class between two extremes in Figures 64 and 65 could remind readers of similar concepts and illustrations in the Ethiques . Of paramount importance is the essential Aristotelian concept of Virtue as a mean be-


Figure 66
Social and Economic Classes of the Kingdom. Avis au roys.

tween too much or too little of a moral quality. Oresme gives stunning visual form to the generic concept in the personification allegories of Book II (Figs. 11 and 12); specific examples occur in the miniatures of Books III and IV of C (Figs. 16 and 21). Oresme makes an interesting analogy between ethical and political character. In a gloss on Chapter 13 of Book IV of the Politiques , the translator explains that Polity (in the sense of a good regime) mixes elements of Oligarchy and Democracy in the same way that Liberality is "composee et moienne de prodigalité et de illiberalité" (composed [of] and [is the] mean [between] Prodigality and Illiberality). Oresme goes on to make the same point about Fortitude: "Et ainsi diroit l'en que la vertu de fortitude est moienne et composée de hardiece et de couardie" (And thus one could say that the virtue of Fortitude is the mean and [is] composed of Courage and Cowardice).[18]

Oresme's association of the middle class with the group that holds the ideal mean position in terms of wealth and political power relates to other key Aristotelian concepts previously explored in the Politiques and other writings. For example, Oresme's commentary on ostracism in Chapter 19 of Book III of the Politiques declares that banishment is an extreme remedy for the concentration of wealth and possessions in the hands of any one group. A wise ruler or regime would avoid such an obvious threat to political stability.[19] Warnings against correct proportional relationships among the members of the body politic is a main theme also of De


moneta .[20] Thus, the illustrations for Book IV continue Oresme's and Aristotle's concern for correct proportional relationships in society and politics. Although ethical considerations play a part in the textual and visual foundations of the predilection for the middle class, in this analysis pragmatic considerations of political utility exercise a preponderant role.

The adjective moiens on the central inscription ties together the complex power relationships among the three groups. Most significant is the mediating political role of the middle class. In Chapter 15 of Oresme's translation the discussion focuses on which form of government is most suitable for the majority of states. The text explains why both the rich and the poor dislike princes. The poor feel oppressed by the central authority of the prince and will carry out machinations against him, while the rich are anxious to obtain power for themselves.[21] But, Oresme states in a gloss, the middle class is free of envy and lives without fear. Furthermore, the gens moiens will not take part in "les seditions et commotions et rebellions" (seditions and disturbances and rebellions) in which the poor and rich participate.[22] Avoiding the extremes of oligarchy when the rich rule or the disorder of the worst types of democracy, the middle class serves as a moderating force in political life. Chapter 16 continues the explanation of how the middle class contributes to political stability. At this point Oresme inserts a lengthy commentary that deals with the unsatisfactory methods of the contemporary church in distributing wealth.[23]

The Ideals of Bonne Policie and Contemporary Historical Experience

The programs of Figures 64 and 65 present Aristotle's generic and specific definitions of polity. Even though costumes differentiate the social classes and their relationships that promote or destroy effective political systems in contemporary terms, the illustrations suggest only a few explicit historical references. For example, representation of the agricultural poor in Bonne policie might have recalled the revolt in 1358 of the Jacquerie. On the other hand, Oresme considers agricultural workers the least politically active and dangerous group.[24] The poor depicted in Mauvaise policie appear to belong to the group of workers who have more leisure for subversive political activity. Their tools identify them as artisans connected with the building trades.[25] In the insurrections of 1358 craftsmen actively opposed the Dauphin. Charles V's mistrust of this group led in 1372 to his regulation of their economic life in Paris by a royal official, the provost of the city.[26]

The presence of the rich might also recall the pressure for a more equitable fiscal system brought about by the financial reforms of 1360, as well as the earlier opposition to the future Charles V of the wealthy merchants and the Parisian haute bourgeoisie led by Etienne Marcel.[27] Yet other contemporary issues addressed in Oresme's commentaries on Book IV, such as the proper distribution of wealth among the classes making up the political community of the church, are not represented in the illustrations.[28] All in all, rather than a subversive plea for establishing Policie as a specific form of government, it seems more appropriate to interpret


the programs of Book IV as general prescriptions for securing effective political rule and avoiding the type of class warfare that leads to political instability. Such a function of the program for the illustrations of Book IV is consistent with its position as the second of a series devoted to the theme of the dangers to, and the means of, preserving political stability within a state. In Figure 64 the abbreviated architectural settings constitute a unified environment suggestive of a spatially related community and memory structure.

Although Figures 64 and 65 fulfill apparently straightforward lexical and indexical functions, their visual structures are in fact quite sophisticated and rare examples in secular iconography of the presentation of such complex concepts of social and political theory. Furthermore, the lucidity of the visual structure reflects and translates Aristotelian methods of argument. Among the most unusual of these devices is the identification of the central area of the pictorial field with the Aristotelian concept of the mean to embrace the ethical, political, and social realms. The allied preference for a triadic ordering scheme promotes understanding and recollection of the central positive and off-center negative opposite qualities. If in oral exposition Oresme was called upon to elaborate on the propositions selected for the illustrations of Book IV, the program he devised would have provided substantive talking points from which his discussion could embark.


Undermining the Body Politic (Book V)

Pathology of the Body Politic

The illustrations for Book V of the Politiques (Figs. 67 and 68) are the third of a series concerned with means of preserving or undermining political systems. The underlying theme is the metaphor of the health or disease of the body politic. Unlike the illustrations of Book IV, the set of miniatures for Book V relies on visual definitions, which serve as invented exempla of the paradigmatic representational mode. Although Oresme's program continues the two-register format of the illustrations for Books III and IV, here he employs the visual structure for narrative and dramatic ends.

The text of Book V provides the basis for such a dramatic treatment. The subject is what Ross calls the "pathology of the state," since Aristotle plays the role of a physician in "diagnosing the causes and in prescribing the cure for the diseases of the body politic." Book V discusses the causes of revolution and the means of preventing it in both good and corrupt regimes.[1] Enhanced by a wealth of examples drawn from Greek history, Aristotle's practical treatment of the means of preserving even the most corrupt regimes from revolution has led scholars to consider Book V as an ancestor or model of Machiavelli's The Prince .[2] Within the context of the causes of sedition, Oresme's commentary on the fourth chapter of Book V discusses the tradition of the concept of the body politic.[3]

Formal Aspects of Figures 67 and 68

To realize Oresme's program for the updated and concrete presentation of the dramatic subject of revolution, the illuminators had to enlarge their visual vocabulary. In one of his most accomplished miniatures (Fig. 67), the Master of Jean de Sy constructs for the first time in the cycle elaborate internal architectural settings and an abbreviated landscape background. The challenge of representing verbal and emotional interplay among different social groups suits his fluent figure style. Animated gestures, varied postures, and individualized facial expressions enliven the scenes. The miniature occupies two-thirds of the folio.

The same mise-en-page is followed in Figure 68. Executed by a member of the workshop of the Master of the Coronation Book of Charles V, in dimensions


Figure 67
Above : Sedition ou Conspiracion occulte; below : Le Demagogue qui presche au peuple contre
le prince, Sedition apperte. Les politiques d'Aristote,  MS  B.


Figure 68
Above:  Conspiracion occulte; below : Demagogue preschant contre le prince, Sedition
apperte. Les politiques d'Aristote, MS  D.


and layout this miniature replicates the proportional relationship of image to text of Figure 67. Yet within this consistent pattern several elements mark an elaboration of the miniature. Although the figures are modeled in the usual grisaille technique, color differentiates parts of the architectural setting, such as the green gate, red roof, and blue turrets. Gold is also visible in the table furnishings, crowns, and musical instruments. White and black take on important roles in delineating key areas such as the tablecloth or the armor, belts, and shoes of military uniforms. One exceptional feature that appears for the first time in this cycle is the bold exterior frame that surrounds the miniature and divides the two registers. Several elements of the enframement are fashioned in gold: the thin outer band and the six diamond-shaped lozenges embossed with trefoils. The most conspicuous feature is the wider inner band decorated with zigzags and alternating vertical and horizontal geometric motifs painted in pink and white on the upper register and in black and white on the lower one. Altogether the effect enhances the existence of each scene as a separate entity and emphasizes its three-dimensional aspect. Despite these enrichments of Figure 68, certain reductions are evident in comparison to similar elements in Figure 67. For one thing, landscape features are entirely eliminated. Architectural elements, numbers and groups of figures, and certain accessories, such as the tableware, are simplified and reduced in size. Despite these changes and the dryness of the illuminator's style, the expressive character of the miniature remains intact.

The Verbal Definitions

The summary paragraph directly below Figures 67 and 68 immediately alerts the astute reader to the dramatic content of Book V: "Ci commence le quint livre ouquel il determine des transmutations et salvations et corruptions des policies. Et contient .xxxiiii. chapitres" (Here begins the fifth book in which he ascertains the changes and corruptions and salvations of governments; it contains thirty-four chapters).[4] Oresme emphasizes two important themes: the transformation of the forms of government and their corruption. To understand Aristotle's discussion of the processes by which such changes take place, Oresme offers the reader a detailed series of verbal aids. The first clue is the inscription found just below the top of the upper register. Figure 67 gives a double definition, "Sedition ou conspiracion occulte" (sedition or hidden conspiracy), while Figure 68 uses the second phrase only. The neologism sedition appears immediately below the miniatures in the headings for Chapters 2, 3, and 4. In a gloss on the first chapter of Book V Oresme defines the term by a series of synonyms: "Sedition, si comme il me semble, est conspiration ou conjuration ou commotion ou division ou dissention ou rebellion occulte ou manifeste d'un membre ou partie de la cité ou de la communité politique contre une autre partie" (Sedition, as it appears to me, is a conspiracy or plot or disturbance or division or dissension or rebellion—hidden or open—by a member or part of the city or political community against another part).[5] Oresme includes definitions of sedition in both the index of noteworthy


subjects and the glossary of difficult words.[6] Indeed, the latter uses the exact words such as conspiration occulte and sedition aperte (open sedition) that appear in the inscriptions of the upper and lower registers respectively.

The inscription on the lower right of Figure 67 reads: "Le demagogue qui presche au peuple contre le prince" (The demagogue who rails against the prince). In Figure 68 the phrase is shorter: "Demagogue preschant contre le prince." The neologism demagogue does not appear in the chapter headings, but it does figure in the index of noteworthy subjects and the glossary. Oresme defines it in the latter place: "Demagogue est qui par adulation ou flaterie demeine le menu peuple a sa volenté et qui les esmeut a rebellion contre les princes ou le prince" (A demagogue is one who by false praise or flattery excites the populace to rebellion against princes or the prince).[7]

Visual Definitions and Visual Structure

The programs of Figures 67 and 68 clearly function as updated and concrete visual definitions of key terms such as sedition, conspiracion , and demagogue . The visual structure offers a close fit with the paradigmatic representational mode, the definitions, and their textual amplification. To begin with, the two-register format permits division of the picture field into two separate units that organize the action sequentially and chronologically. Within each unit, lateral subdivision into interior and exterior areas represents simultaneous action. The initiators or agents are depicted in the right half of the scene; the objects of the actions, in the left.

On the upper left, a royal meal takes place within the cutaway walls of a palace banqueting hall. Flanked by a male companion and a queen, a king in the center is drinking from a goblet. (The queen is the only female figure represented in the eight miniatures of the Politiques cycle.) Three musicians play while two kneeling servants offer food. The sumptuous gold curtain behind the table accentuates the luxurious character of the repast. The expressions of the royal couple and the gesture of their companion who points to the right reveal an awareness of the conspiracion occulte . In Figure 67 an open portal leads to the outside where a hill is crowned by a clump of trees and where three groups of figures in civilian dress converse. All three men on the left point toward the palace door, toward which two are walking. Locked in a circle defined by the arms of the man in the middle, the three face-to-face figures of the closely knit central group engage in earnest conversation. The fragmentary group on the right is also united in an embrace. In Figure 68, the same arrangement of figures appears within a more simplified palace interior. Here, however, only two groups of figures converse on the right, and the specific landscape setting is eliminated. Both figures represent an enactment of sedition and secret conspiracy against a royal regime. In fact, the action of the figures on the right carries out another part of Oresme's definition of these terms: "Et avient communelment que murmure precede sedition" (And whispering generally occurs before sedition breaks out).[8]


The lower register of Figures 67 and 68 represents a second phase of the conspiracy, sedition apperte . The left half of the register indicates a transmutacion of regime. In another room within the castle seen from above, the bust-length figure of the king of the upper register is visible through a small rectangular pictorial opening of a solid wall. The door of the castle is now shut. The two helmeted soldiers on the left and the gesturing figure on the right suggest that the king is now a prisoner. In Figure 68 the imprisonment of the king is even more clearly represented than in Figure 67. The former scene shows the king in a frontal position; his crossed hands suggest resignation or acceptance of his new situation.[9] The discussion that takes place in Figure 67 between him and his military and civilian guards gives way in Figure 68 to wary surveillance. The transfer of the closed portal and gateway from the right to the left emphasizes the isolation of the imprisoned ruler from the military force outside the castle walls.

On the right of Figures 67 and 68 the apparent agent of the change of regime is the "demagogue qui presche au peuple contre le prince." The groups of civilian conspirators of the upper register yield to one armed leader. Accompanied by an aide who holds his helmet, he stands on a rostrum addressing his audience. The full-length figure and profile head of the demagogue in Figure 67 display a confidence conveyed by his sword and the gesture of his outstretched arm. His audience is dramatically grouped within the rocky landscape setting. Also standing (mostly) in profile, their expressions and gestures indicate their rapt attention to his address. The profile view of speaker and audience is part of a gestural code that associates it with low social status and irresponsibility or treachery.[10] The armor, helmets, and shields that the demagogue and his listeners wear indicate that a military coup d'état is under way or about to take place.

As in the illustrations of Books III and IV, the visual structure of Figures 67 and 68 again employs parallelism and contrast of the upper and lower registers. The program for Book V, however, contains novel narrative elements derived partly from the definitions. The extensive architectural settings and the landscape in Figure 67 reinforce associations with the respective political antagonists. The castle is a visual metaphor of the monarchic regime in which power is located. More specifically, Oresme's program suggests the rhetorical figure of synecdoche, in which the part stands for the whole of a conceptual relationship.[11] The exterior setting in which the sedition takes place presents a similar figure for those who stand outside, or divided from, the political regime.

The two-register format also indicates a temporal sequence, as the hidden conspiracy of the upper register gives way to the open rebellion and transfer of power to the conspirators in the lower. Several references to time derive from the forms of the definitions: hidden and open conspiracy or sedition; whispering preceding sedition; and the demagogue preaching against the prince. Parallel settings establish an ironic contrast in terms of the "ins" and "outs" who hold political power. In the left half of the upper register, those inside the banquet hall exercise sovereignty. Directly below this scene the castle becomes a prison for the prince, who is now "out." Conversely, the "outsiders" on the upper right become the "insiders" of the lower right with respect to holding political power. In addition, the


lateral division of each register also permits a cause-and-effect relationship between the actions and actors of the left and right halves of the miniatures. Costumes and gestures reinforce the contrasts and parallelism of the visual structures. Oresme's program fashions a fictive exemplum of the paradigm enunciated in the generic verbal definitions.

The Appeal to Historical Experience

The programs of Figures 67 and 68 could certainly recall to their primary audience the formative historical experiences of the present regime. Oresme's selection of the themes of sedition and demagoguery as they affect kingdoms, and not the other systems of government, reflects a conscious attempt to raise associations with contemporary political events. To be sure, the miniatures do not permit specific identification of the ruler as either king or tyrant. Indeed, Oresme may have intended that the distinction remain ambiguous in view of Aristotle's discussion in the Politics (Book V, Chs. 21 and 22) on the corruption of monarchy and its transformation to tyranny.[12] The banquet scenes emphasize the dangers to rulers of secret plots or conspiracies. Oresme may be alluding to Aristotle's statement that rulers tend to be corrupted by excessive wealth.[13] Accumulations of riches and honors invite the envy of subjects and are the source of sedition. Aristotle further points out that in hereditary monarchies kings may indulge themselves in bodily pleasures at the expense of their responsibilities to their people:

T. Mes es royalmes qui sunt selon lignage, ovec les choses qui sunt dictes il convient mettre une autre cause de corruption. Et est ceste: que pluseurs telz roys sunt faiz de legier contemptibles et despitablez. (T. But in hereditary kingdoms, in addition to things already mentioned, it is necessary to set out another cause of corruption. And it is this: that several such kings readily merit contempt and scorn.) G. Pource que il vivent trop delicieusement et sunt negligens si comme il fut dit ou .xxii.e chapitre. (G. That is because they live too much for pleasure and are negligent, as was stated in the twenty-second chapter.)[14]

Perhaps certain features of the upper left scene of Figures 67 and 68 allude to the types of excessive expenditure that corrupt and endanger hereditary kingdoms. In Figure 67 particularly, the elaborate feast, gold curtain, and musicians indicate such dangers. Figure 68, however, may depict another type of threat to hereditary kingdoms. There the companion of the royal couple wears a mantle whose distinctive fur strips indicate a member of the royal family.[15] In a gloss at the beginning of Chapter 24, Oresme mentions sedition provoked by a person already taking part in government: "Si comme quant aucuns du lignage du roy ou autres grans seigneurs de son royalme funt conspirations contre lui" (As when some persons of the king's lineage or other great lords of his kingdom conspire against him).[16]


Figure 69
A Royal Banquet. Avis au roys.

Charles V and his counsellors were personally aware of the dangers of sedition fomented by a close relative. During the political crisis of 1358–60, Charles's brother-in-law, Charles of Navarre, known as the Bad, contested the regent's claim to the throne.[17] In 1356 the alliance of Etienne Marcel with Charles the Bad almost cost the regent his future throne and his life.[18] Furthermore, in the context of Sedition apperte the scene of a demagogue addressing his troops might well recall to Charles V the plots of Etienne Marcel and Charles the Bad. As a way of updating the definition of a demagogue in the glossary, Oresme cites as an example the earlier fourteenth-century bourgeois leader, Jacques d'Artevelde.[19]

The immediacy of historical recollection offered in Figures 67 and 68 to its primary audience may have formed part of Oresme's strategy in designing the program of Book V. While the total visual structure of the illustrations contains novel elements, individual sections rely on standard iconographic types. For example, the banquet scene of the upper left is familiar from a wide variety of medieval secular and religious visual and textual sources, including a miniature from the Morgan Avis au roys (Fig. 69). The scene of the demagogue addressing the troops adopts the Roman iconographic theme of adlocutio .[20]

In addition to the dimension of historical experience, Oresme's program for the illustrations of Book V incorporates another didactic level. Oresme refers in several glosses to Aristotle's discussion in the Rhetoric of anger and hate as motives for the overthrow of kingdoms and tyrannies.[21] Oresme thus may have intended


Figures 67 and 68 as a warning to his readers to avoid such patterns of dangerous conduct and expenditure. He may also have expected that these themes of threats to political stability would lead his politically aware readers to connect the most relevant message of Book V to those advanced in the previous two books of the Politiques . Oresme's predilection for visual emphasis of the dangers to the health of the body politic conforms to the warnings in Aristotle's text. Yet the unified but varied treatment of the theme in three successive illustrations reveals also the translator's personal preoccupation with these subjects, evident in early writings such as the De moneta . In terms of the metaphor of the pathology of the body politic, the overthrow of a regime corresponds to its death. Charles V and his counsellors could not have remained indifferent to such a dramatic outcome as the one examined in Book V. If some implications of these textual and visual interweavings may have escaped his readers, Oresme's oral explications could have knit together the threads.


Good Democracy:
A Pastoral Vision? (Book VI)

The Layout and Format of the Program

In several respects the illustrations for Book VI of the Politiques (Figs. 70 and 71) are unusual. For the first time in the cycle the picture field of a large-scale frontispiece remains undivided and permits the depiction of a continuous landscape. The naturalistic style of these illustrations is a landmark in the development of this genre in late medieval art. In fact, the aesthetic and formal aspects of these images are so engaging that they obscure the textual basis of Oresme's program. Nevertheless, as in previous frontispieces, a close relationship exists among the representational mode, the text, and Oresme's interpretation of its content.

The surprising format and formal qualities of Figures 70 and 71 are related to Aristotle's move from the two previous books, where he treats the typology, destruction, and preservation of actual states, to problems of constructing constitutions in ways that will enable states to survive securely.[1] In Book VI Aristotle discusses the types and suitable structures for oligarchy and democracy, two of the six paradigmatic regimes that he had classified as the vitiated forms of rule by the few and the many. At the beginning of Book VI, however, Aristotle considers combinations of forms of regime, a possibility not previously considered.

While the unbroken picture field in Figures 70 and 71 lends the illustrations a feeling of monumentality, the miniatures are of normal dimensions. Both occupy about two-thirds of the text block. The extraordinary format and formal qualities of these images eclipse the splendid mise-en-page and decorative layout. Free of inscriptions, the undivided rectangular space of the illustrations gives them the appearance of small panel paintings. Except for the foliate, scroll-like pattern of the geometric background at the top, human figures and animals are freely set within a continuous landscape sloping gently upward in a series of three diagonally sectioned planes. Strategically placed trees, animals, and implements lead the eye from the foreground eating and plowing scenes to the grazing horses and shepherd guarding his flock in the middle distance. The third plane contains a group of figures in the upper left, and in the center and upper right planes, thatched buildings nestle among trees.

In Figure 70 (also Pl. 11) the Master of Jean de Sy creates a persuasive naturalistic space. Although figures and objects do not diminish consistently in size as they recede into the distance, the illuminator creates the effect of a harmonious


relationship between figure and natural setting. The unbroken perspective also has the effect of empowering the reader to gain visual control over the subjects portrayed. The men eating in the lower left are set within an ample pocket of space marked off on the top, bottom, and side by plants and a tree; on the right, by a vigilant dog. To the right of this scene, and also on the front plane, the Master of Jean de Sy creates another pocket of space occupied by a steeply raked plot of ground being harrowed by a farmer and his horse. Also convincingly placed in the middle ground are two grazing horses and a flock of sheep, a gamboling goat, and a shepherd. The diminished scale of figures and animals in the middle distance is skillfully executed. Less successful are the spatial relations of the farthest plane, in which the figure groups, trees, and houses seem too large.

The illuminator's judicious use of color also creates the effect of spatial unity. An overall gray-green tone encompasses the entire landscape, with the only exception being the beige and black area of the plowed furrows. On closer inspection this dominant tonality is shaded by stony outcrops painted in a lighter gray. The dark green of the distinctive tree clumps punctuates and marks off planar subdivisions of the picture space, as do the lightly brushed-in, brown forms of vegetation. The same dark green sets off a planted area in front of the three buildings set at sharp angles to one another. Except for the brown of the foremost grazing horse, a contrasting white tonality defines all the animals. White is also used for the walls of the buildings, whereas brown is used for the thatched roofs. A more neutral grayish rose depicts the costumes of all but three of the human figures. The man eating bread, the farmer harrowing the field, and the central figure of the group seated under the tree furnish bright red accents picked up by the background motif and the foliate initial and rubrics below. The Master of Jean de Sy both enlivens and unifies the picture space with this subtle use of color. Although his range is more limited, in Figure 71 the Master of the Coronation Book of Charles V employs similar means. Here a deeper greenish blue delineates the fields and trees of the landscape. Only the gray-brown diagonal swath of the plowed area in the foreground and two gray-blue areas occupied by the grazing horses and the figure groups of the middle and farthest zone relieve the dominant color chord. The grisaille of the figures offers the other major color tonality. Muted tones prevail elsewhere: implements and buildings, yellow-brown for the roofs, whitish brown for the horses, and bluish white for the sheep.

The simplification of color in Figure 71 is echoed in the abbreviated elements of the overall composition. Except for one tree in the middle distance, landscape features are reserved for the farthest zone. Missing also from Figure 71 are several groups of sheep, the gamboling goat, the dismantled cart, and the figure stepping on his spade in the middle distance of Figure 70. Another facet of the reductive character of Figure 71 is the flattening of the spatial recession. The clear definition of the three planes accentuates the sharp, rapid tilt upward. Furthermore, the larger size of the figures and animals decreases the harmonious relationship of men and nature that is a hallmark of Figure 70. Yet in Figure 71 the Coronation Book Master makes positive changes in the composition. For example, the extension of the plowed strip adds coherency to the foreground plane. The same holds true of


Figure 70
Bonne democracie. Les politiques d'Aristote,  MS  B.


Figure 71
Bonne democracie. Les politiques d'Aristote,  MS  D.


the relationship among the grazing horses and the cart or plow in the middle ground and the harrowing taking place in the foreground. Two charming touches added by the Coronation Book Master are the upraised head of the dog and the pipe played by the strolling shepherd. Altogether, Figure 71 maintains the convincing representation of figures and animals within a unified landscape setting.

Both images communicate the miniaturists' sympathy for these scenes of rural pursuits. The labors of the peasants and shepherd are portrayed in a positive way. The Master of Jean de Sy seems particularly aware of the plight of agricultural workers, the poor, and politically marginal, as the illustrations for Books IV and VII (Figs. 64 and 74) show. The intensity of expression and the freedom of movement of the men eating and plowing are but two examples of this type of sympathy. Even more marked is the naturalistic observation and representation of animals. Both illuminators effectively convey their different movements and expression. Particularly noteworthy are the absorption of the grazing horses, the patience and suffering of the horses attached to the harrow, the vigilance of the dog, and the sprightliness of the goat. By way of contrast, the men on the upper left of both miniatures seem stiff in pose and gesture. The observations of Schapiro and Panofsky that the lower classes of society and animals are more naturalistically represented than sacred, royal, or aristocratic figures seem to hold true in the context of the Politiques cycles.[2] Panofsky's further observation that the upper classes enjoy the genre rustique as an ironic and parodic commentary on their own pursuits seems appropriate in view of the primary readers of the Politiques .[3] Recent scholarship has raised additional questions about the extent to which this representation of the peasantry expresses the ideology of the ruling classes. These points will be discussed in the concluding section of this chapter.[4]

Visual Definitions and Textual Linkage

Thus far analysis of Figures 70 and 71 has focused on their formal qualities as related to the single-register format. As noted above, the change from an overtly didactic and diagrammatic representational mode closely tied to verbal descriptors to one free of such ties may appear to mark a striking departure from the previous illustrations of the Politiques cycle. Yet these appearances are deceptive, since Oresme follows the same procedure of linking text and image noted in previous programs. Since Figure 70 lacks any inscription, the reader must turn to the introductory paragraph below the miniature to identify the essential concepts discussed in Book VI. Oresme offers the following summary: "Ci commence le sixte livre ouquel il determine de l'institution des especes de democracie et de olygarchie. Et met les princeys ou offices des policies. Et est aussi comme perfection et acomplissement du quart livre. Et contient .xiii. chapitres" (Here begins the sixth book in which he defines the requirements of the [different] types of democracy and oligarchy. And he sets forth the ruling powers or functions of these forms of government. And it [Book VI] is in a sense like the completion and fulfillment of Book IV. And it contains thirteen chapters).[5]


Since democracie and olygarchie , the two principal terms, are neologisms, the reader could turn to the glossary of difficult words to recall their meaning:

Democratie est une espece de policie en laquele la multitude populaire tient le princey a leur profit. Et ne est pas bonne policie. Et olygarchie, ou les riches qui sunt en petit nombre le tiennent, est pire, et tyrannie tres malvese. Et de democracie est determiné ou .iv.e livre ou quart chapitre et ou tiers livre ou .xi.e chapitre. Et est dit de demos en grec, qui est peuple; et de archos , prince ou princey.

(Democracy is a kind of regime in which the people [at large] rule for their own benefit. And it is not a good regime. And oligarchy, in which the rich who are few in number rule, is worse, and tyranny is very bad. And democracy is defined in the fourth chapter of the fourth book and in the eleventh chapter of the third book. And it [the term] is derived from demos in Greek, which is people; and from archos , ruler or rule.)[6]

Because the definitions of both terms link them with Aristotle's corrupt constitutions, the reader might have been puzzled by an apparent contradiction between the positive qualities conveyed in Figures 70 and 71 and the negative connotations of these terms. To avoid such confusion, an inscription was added above Figure 71: Bonne democracie . The unusual placement of the inscription between the ivyleaf sprays of the upper border and the enframement indicates its likely addition after the completion of the miniature. The irregular shape of the rectangular band and the faint color of the ink also point to an unplanned intervention by the scribe, Raoulet d'Orléans. Perhaps he and Oresme responded to a suggestion—possibly from Charles V—that the reader needed verbal guidance to understand the scope of the miniature.

The term Bonne democracie is helpful to the reader in several ways. First, the adjective bonne indicates that it is a species or subdivision of the generic term that has positive qualities. The reader could then recall that Democracy is the least bad of the three corrupt regimes and not so far removed form the good from of Polity, visually defined in the illustrations of Book IV. Furthermore, the means of connecting the phrase "Bonne democracie" with a positive connotation occurs directly below the miniature in the heading for Chapter 4 of Book VI: "Ou quart chapitre il determine de queles gens et de quele maniere est la melleur espece de democracie" (In the fourth chapter he defines what kind of people and what manner of organization yield the best type of democracy).[7] When the reader turns to Chapter 4, the first sentence contains the phrase "Bonne democracie": "Comme les especes de democracie soient .iiii., celle est tres bonne qui est la premiere en ordre, si comme il fu dit devant" (As democracy is of four types, the one [that] is best is the first in rank, as was said before).[8] The next passage further clarifies the social classes of the population of Bonne democracie: "Et je di celle estre premiere si comme se aucun distinguoit ou divisoit les peuples, cellui qui est tres bon et le melleur, ce est le peuple qui est cultiveur de terre" (And I declare


that one superior, as if someone were distinguishing among the various peoples, to be the one that is very good and the best, that is, the people who cultivate the earth). According to Aristotle's classification, the second-best type is pastoral democracy. Thus, the second group that figures in Bonne democracie appears in the next section of text: "Et pour ce avient il que democracie est legierement faicte la ou la multitude vit de labeur de terre ou de pasturage" (And for this reason it happens that democracy is easily instituted when the multitude makes a living from tilling the soil or from raising herds).[9] In turn, these passages lead to further references to these social classes and their characteristics in the index of noteworthy subjects under the headings Cultiveurs de terres, Multitude , and Pasteurs .[10] In short, the beginning of Chapter 4 identifies the best type of democracy with the conditions of an agricultural and pastoral economy in which the inhabitants are farmers and shepherds.

The Visual Structure of Bonne Democracie

Beyond the function of a visual definition of a specific type of democracy, what other insights about the character of Bonne democracie does the structure of Figures 70 and 71 afford the reader? The undivided, single-register format frames and bounds a united political community, Bonne democracie. Quotations from Chapter 4 of Book VI cited above provide the clues. The sequence of text passages sets up a parallelism between the order of discussion of the four subtypes of democracy and their quality: the first one (Bonne democracie) is also the best. The composition of the illustration follows the same system of sequence and parallelism: the inhabitants of the best type of democracy are the cultiveurs de terres . Oresme's program literally "foregrounds" their activities in the front plane of the miniature. As in previous illustrations, the program adopts the same strategy of updating the activities of the social classes discussed by Aristotle. The outdoor setting, dress, farm implements, and animals define the nature of the work. Even the vignette of the peasants' repast reveals their life-style. Seated directly on the ground next to the plowed field, they eat simply with crude implements.

The second group of inhabitants mentioned in the text occupies the middle ground. As the text suggests, the activities of the pasteurs literally overlap those of the cultiveurs de terres . The index of noteworthy subjects indicates: "Que les melleurs populaires apres ceulz qui cultivent les terres sunt ceulz qui vivent de pasturage—VI, 5" (That the best people after those who cultivate the earth are those who raise herds.—VI, 5).[11] In Chapter 5 a text passage reads:

Et le peuple qui est tres bon apres la multitude qui cultive la terre, ce est la ou il sunt pasteurs et vivent de bestail. Car tele vie a en soi mout de choses sembiables a la cultiveure des terres et as actions ou operations de elle.


(And those who are very good after the people who cultivate the earth are those who are shepherds and make their living off their herds. For such a life has many things in common with the cultivation of the earth and shares actions or operations with it.)[12]

It is, therefore, appropriate that the second type of inhabitants of Bonne democracie in Figures 70 and 71 follows the text sequence and appears on the second plane, or middle ground, of the illustrations. Their walking posture conveys the nomadic and solitary character of their labors. Unlike the collaborative enterprise of the agricultural workers, the shepherds commune only with their flocks. The pasteur of Figure 70 seems particularly solitary, as he bends his head in the direction of his sheep. The gesture of his crossed hands further expresses weariness and resignation. In contrast, the forward stride and piping of the shepherd of Figure 71 give a jauntier tone to his demeanor.

To the modern reader the shepherd's pipe and the peaceful setting suggest an early form of arcadian imagery. Indeed, Oresme's second gloss in Chapter 4 of Book VI regarding cultiveurs de terres seems to confirm such an association:

La vie et l'estat de teles gens descript et recommande Virgille ou secunt livre de Georgiques , et dit: O fortunatos nimium sua, si bona norunt agricolas, etc. Et estoient jadis teles gens en la terre de Archade mesmement.

(The life and calling of these people Virgil describes and commends in the second book of the Georgics , and says, "Oh happy husbandmen! too happy, should they come to know their blessings!" And in former times these people were in the very land of Arcadia.)[13]

Likewise, Oresme's gloss on Chapter 5 that explains the virtues of shepherds cites Virgil's Bucolica and biblical examples of "pluseurs bonnes gens" (many good people) who "anciennement vivoient de pasture et de bestail; si comme Laban, Jacob et ses filz, et Job et pluseurs autres. Et a teles gens annuncia le angel la nativité Nostre Seigneur" (in ancient times made their living from raising sheep and livestock; such as Laban, Jacob and his sons, and Job, and various others. And to people like that the angel announced the birth of Our Lord).[14]

Although Oresme shows an awareness of the arcadian and bucolic tradition, both the text and glosses of Book VI reveal another aspect of this attitude related to the personages of the third zone of Figures 70 and 71. Oresme explains in his third gloss on Chapter 4 how the best form of democracy depends on the moral and political character of cultiveurs de terres and pasteurs : "Apres il met les causes pourquoi cest peuple est habile a ceste policie; et sunt .iiii., car il ne est pas machinatif ne conveteux ne ambicieux, et est obedient" (Afterwards he sets out the reasons why this people is predisposed toward this form of government; and there


are four: because they are not manipulative, covetous, or ambitious, and they are obedient).[15] The next gloss explains further:

Car il convient que il entendent a leur labeur pour avoir leur vie. Et ne ont cure de assambler souvent. Et es assemblees sunt faictes les machinations ou l'en peut parler et soi alier ensemble. Et ainsi tel peuple ne fait pas machinations ne conspirations contre les riches ne contre les princes.

(First, it is necessary that they attend to their work in order to live. And they are not interested in meeting together often. And it is in assemblies where people can speak and form alliances that plots are made. And thus such people do not plot or conspire against the rich or against rulers.)[16]

Thus, the obedient, contented character and busy lives of this population prevent them from taking part in political activity. The text states that these classes prefer labor to political activity of any kind and are patient and tolerant under oligarchies and tyrannies.[17] Farmers and shepherds prefer working to participating in politics and earning money to receiving the honors of office. In some forms of democracy, Aristotle states, instead of serving themselves, they are content to elect officers, such as magistrates. In the city-state of Mantinea, Aristotle continues, the populace was content merely to deliberate with the magistrates, who were "selected from the body of the people on a system of rotation."[18]

The two groups on the upper left of Figures 70 and 71 refer to the practice in agricultural democracies of the majority's election of, or consultation with, judicial or deliberative bodies. By their implements and costume the standing figures on the left in Figure 70 are identified as agricultural workers. On the other hand, although one man holds a spade, the three seated figures clad in hooded, full-length mantles seem to belong to a somewhat higher social class. The two groups are apparently debating a controversy. The miniature may refer to the example in Mantinea of agricultural workers deliberating along with magistrates or, more generally, of electing counsellors of higher social status than themselves rather than insisting on participating directly in these activities. In the first of two glosses on Chapter 4 of Book VI that refer to Mantinea, Oresme explains:

En aucunes democracies les cultiveurs des terres et autres populaires eslisent les officiers comme dit est, et ne sunt pas esleus, mez les riches. Et en aucunes il ne esli sent pas, et sunt esleus selon partie; car tous ceulz d'une office ne sunt pas de tels genz, mes aucuns.

(In some democracies the tillers of the soil and other men of the people elect the officeholders, as is stated, and they [themselves] are not elected, but [only] the rich. And in some [democracies] they do not elect [officeholders] and [such men] are chosen according to qualification, for not all those would be of this class, but only some.)[19]


In the second gloss Oresme elucidates the following text passage: "T. Et en mont de democracies il souffist a telz gens ce que il sunt seigneurs de conseiller ou du conseil" (And in many democracies, it is sufficient for such people that they are magistrates or counsellors). "G. Car il sunt appellés as conseulz des grandes choses" (For they are called into consultation on important matters).[20] Or the debate in Figures 70 and 71 might refer to a procedure discussed in Chapter 3 of Book VI called sortition : "a means of settling disputes."[21] Thus, the scene on the upper left alludes to a council, court, or assembly in which agricultural workers have an elective or consultative voice.[22]

Iconographic Sources

The political participation of the cultiveurs de terres and pasteurs of Bonne democracie adds a distinctive character to the landscape setting of Figures 70 and 71. The insertion of the two groups on the upper left prevents the scene from being interpreted simply as an illustration of peaceful agricultural pursuits. Rather, the hybrid character of the miniatures poses a challenge in discovering their iconographic sources. Yet the derivation of the scene in terms of its associated political content and representation of the landscape, agricultural labor, and peasant life are worth exploring as guides to interpreting the meanings and reception of the images.

Scholars base the association of political content with representations of peaceful work in the fields on the depiction of Good Government from the twelfth-century English City of God manuscript discussed in Chapter 16 above (Fig. 52). Recently, Michael Camille and Robert Calkins have grounded the image in the concept of the secure social order founded on the three-class system of medieval society: the oratores (clergy), the bellatores (knightly class), and the laboratores (working class).[23] The next image that fosters the associations of work in the fields with good government is the fourteenth-century fresco of the Effects of Good Government in the Country by Ambrogio Lorenzetti in the Palazzo Pubblico, Siena (Fig. 72). As in Chapters 9 and 16, my opinion remains that there is only a thematic but no direct connection between the Oresme programs of illustrations in the Ethiques and Politiques and the Italian paintings.

As for the morphology of the landscape, recent studies support its derivation from calendar illustrations, occupations of the months, and seasons of the year not only in liturgical manuscripts, such as books of hours, but also cathedral sculpture.[24] In France, and in northern Europe generally, the third quarter of the fourteenth century witnessed an accelerated naturalism in the depiction of landscape that reached its height in the first two decades of the fifteenth century. François Avril has sketched these developments during the reign of Charles V. He finds the delight and pleasure of the miniaturists in representing the natural world not only in books of hours but also in other religious texts, such as Gauthier de Coincy's


Figure 72
Ambrogio Lorenzetti , The Effects of Good Government in the Country.

Figure 73
The Enchanted Garden.  Guillaume de Machaut , Le dit de lion.


Miracles de Notre Dame , and secular works illustrating the poems of Guillaume de Machaut, like the miniature of the Enchanted Garden from Le dit de lion (Fig. 73), which is among the earliest landscapes without figures.[25] The Jean de Sy Master himself executed scenes from Machaut's work (Fig. 59) in which the landscape settings have many features in common with the Politiques illustration of Figure 70.[26] The Jean de Sy Master also executed the charming, but more stylized, landscape setting of Le songe du vergier (Fig. 58).[27]

Studies by Michael Camille and Jonathan Alexander discuss the social and political context of the representations of agricultural labor and peasant life.[28] These scholars raise many new questions regarding the hidden assumptions about issues such as the value of work, the role of agriculture and technology in medieval culture, and the effect of class bias in representing peasant life. Such considerations are applicable to the interpretation of Figures 70 and 71, in which the relationships between text and image and patron and translator provide further guidelines. As a whole, the insights of Camille and Alexander contribute to understanding the representation of agricultural laborers in both positive and negative terms by their royal patron and aristocratic readers. The spatial organization of the miniatures emphasizes the social distance from, and control of, these viewers over the subjects represented.

Paradoxical Relationships

The illustrations for Book VI of the Politiques present several paradoxes. As unusual as the absence of inscriptions within the picture field are the unified subject matter and the naturalistic representation of landscape. The lyrical tone of Figures 70 and 71 encourages a formalistic and positive reading of them as glorifications of the virtues of rural and pastoral pursuits. Consistent with such an attitude is the association of earlier images of the peace and harmony of agricultural life with a secure social order.

At the same time, negative aspects of the representations arise from the context of the Politiques in general and of Book VI in particular. The inscription "Bonne democracie" alerts the reader to a specific definition of a regime that Aristotle considers generically corrupt. Initially the inscription seems to be a contradiction in terms. But "Bonne democracie" can refer to Aristotle's definition of the best of the four types of democracy that he classifies. Furthermore, in the text and glosses of the Politiques Oresme maintains Aristotle's practical considerations for favoring the type of democracy in which agricultural and pastoral workers are the characteristic social classes. In short, the political malleability or lack of interest in politics on the part of its population is what makes this kind of democracy good.

Nicole Oresme may have had other reasons for selecting the workings of Bonne democracie as the subject of the illustrations of Book VI. On a personal level, Oresme may have had firsthand experience of rural pursuits. Although little is known of his early life, scholars generally agree that he came from a Norman family of humble origins.[29] He could have observed and appreciated the character


and virtues of the ways of life followed by peasants and shepherds. In a gloss he notes their desire and ability to rise to a more honorable estate.[30] By contrast, Oresme stresses the political docility of this group. In a gloss on Chapter 4 he updates Aristotle's text about the patience of the peasants in tolerating the injustices of tyranny and oligarchy: "Il seuffrent et prennent en gré les oppressions des tirans et des princes olygarchiques, comme sunt tailles et exactions et teles choses ne mes que l'en lesse labourer et que l'en ne les pille" (They suffer and accept willingly the oppression of tyrants and oligarchical rulers, such as the taille, exactions, and such things, if only they are allowed to work and are not robbed).[31]

If Oresme's views on Bonne democracie remain enigmatic, it is even harder to understand how the primary audience of the manuscripts may have read and reacted to the images. Charles V and his counsellors could have understood the message of the programs in several ways. One possibility is the contribution made by farmers and shepherds to the stability of a political regime, including a kingdom. In this respect, the political inactivity of these groups is a great asset. Another is an indirect exhortation for favorable legal treatment of this productive socioeconomic group. At the same time, the concept of Bonne democracie might have appeared ironic and paradoxical given the inferior social position of agricultural and pastoral laborers in medieval culture. Here the proximity of men and animals or the rude repast of the peasants in Figures 70 and 71 may well have appeared puzzling, if not grossly comic. The notion that in the past these classes held political power under a democratic regime may also have provoked an ironic reaction. Charles V's experience during the 1350s with rural unrest may have also inspired a dubious attitude toward viewing any version of Bonne democracie as a stable political regime. Such a response is later supported in the text and images of Book VII by the exclusion of the cultiveurs de terres from citizenship in the political community.

Thus, Figures 70 and 71 present several potentially contradictory interpretations. To modern eyes, the images may seem to offer a picture of a medieval communitas perfecta . Yet Oresme's text and glosses suggest a more negative context for understanding the character of this political and social community. In an oral explication Oresme may have clarified the various meanings of Bonne democracie in ways that permitted him to illuminate what may have appeared to his audience a puzzling juxtaposition of terms. Indeed, Oresme may have adopted the rhetorical strategy of posing a paradox as a means of explicating a politically acceptable position on the notion of Bonne democracie.


Citizens and Noncitizens (Book VII)

The Choice of the Program

By virtue of their size, format, and architectural enframement the illustrations for Book VII (Figs. 74 and 75) rank with the frontispieces (Figs. 46–49) as the most important in the cycle. The program itself again shows Oresme's efforts to present visually arresting and contemporary paradigms of central Aristotelian concepts. In Book VII of the Politics Aristotle returns to the definition of the ideal state and its citizens, discussed previously in Book III. According to Ernest Barker, a correct ordering of the Politics would place Book VII immediately after Book III.[1] Such an arrangement would continue the discussion of citizenship within the context of the classification of the six forms of government. As noted above, in Books IV, V, and VI Aristotle is concerned with the morphology, pathology, and organization of actual states. Books VII and VIII then return to "the theme of political ideals" and outline "an ideal state."[2] Again the problem of the overlapping and discontinuous subject matter of the Politics presents problems to the person responsible for choosing from each book a suitable and visually representable theme.[3] Among the topics discussed by Aristotle in Book VII, the important questions of the size, population, and planning of the ideal state may have appeared too difficult to depict visually. The representation of another theme, the system of educating future citizens of the polis, is reserved for Book VIII. The remaining subjects of Book VII, pictured in Figures 74 and 75, are the definition and discussion in Chapters 15 to 20 of the groups who are and who are not citizens of the ideal state.

Oresme had an even more difficult task than usual in translating into contemporary terms Aristotle's concept of citizenship founded on the experience of the polis, the Greek city-state. In his redefinition of the term as cité , Oresme had to adapt it to the very different form of the emerging nation-state and its institutions. He also had to consider the church as another form of cité both in itself and in relationship to secular forms of government. Not surprisingly, Book VII contains some of Oresme's longest commentaries on crucial issues.[4] Although Figures 74 and 75 can communicate only a small part of Oresme's views, the format and verbal underpinnings of the illustrations signal to the reader the importance of the contents of Book VII.


Figure 74
Above, from left : Genz d'armes, Genz de conseil, Gent sacerdotal;  below, from left:  Cultiveurs
de terres, Genz de mestier, Marcheans. Les politiques d'Aristote,  MS  B.


Figure 75
Top, from left : Genz d'armes, Genz de conseil;  center, from left : Gent sacerdotal, Cultiveurs
de terres; bottom, from left : Genz de mestier, Marcheans. Les politiques d'Aristote,  MS  D.


The Formats of the Illustrations

The model for Figure 74 is the illustration of Book IV (Fig. 64). A similar two-register structure divided laterally into three compartments is a common feature, as is the use of an architectural enframement composed of gold arches that end in bosses and are decorated with corner lozenges. The increased dimensions of Figure 74 reduce the normal size of the initial of the introductory paragraph, which is not rubricated. A new feature of Figure 74, the rubricated inscriptions above the upper frame and in the lower margin, will be discussed shortly.

A rubricated inscription also appears above the enframement of Figure 75. The reformatting and re-editing of D bring about a change in the structure of this illustration, which now occupies the entire folio. The model for Figure 75, executed by the Master of the Coronation Book of Charles V, probably after consultation with Oresme and Raoulet d'Orléans, is the format of the full-page bifolio frontispiece of the Politiques in MS D (Figs. 48 and 49). The same type of architectural enframement and border decoration is repeated in Figure 75. Even more significant, instead of the two zones of Figure 74, Figure 75 adopts the three-register format of Figures 48 and 49. Most unusually, the summary paragraph appears before Figure 75; it is the only verbal component of the second column of folio 262v, the folio preceding Figure 75.

What motives may have influenced the choice of models for Figures 74 and 75? First, a reasonable inference is the availability to each miniaturist of an actual model book. Then, the miniatures' reference to the similar layout and format of an earlier illustration may have been intended to promote the reader's association of the contents of Book VII with the earlier ones. Thus in the case of Figure 74, Book VII relates to Book IV; Figure 75, to Book I. Since the bifolio frontispiece of D (Figs. 48 and 49) contains the only other full-page and three-register illustrations of the cycle, it appears that Figure 75 gains in status and importance over Figure 74. Yet the change in format brings about certain problems in the reading of Figure 75 apparently unforeseen by the translator and scribe.

External and Internal Inscriptions

The rubricated sentences of the upper and lower margins of Figure 74 indicate that the scribe had to insert unplanned explanations as supplements to the internal inscriptions after the miniature was completed. The uneven spacing of the rubricated portions in the upper border is due to the prior placement of the ivy-leaf rinceaux . These verbal reinforcements represent a new level of graphic intervention and authority in the structure of text-image relationships within the manuscript. Oresme may have responded to his own judgment, or to a wider criticism, that the usual system of graphic and visual interface did not communicate essential points. Furthermore, the introductory paragraph, an important link between text and image, does not mention the specific subject of the illustration: "Ci com-


mence le .vii.e de politiques ouquel est determiné comment la policie qui est tres bonne simplement doit estre instituee et contient .xxxix. chapitres" (Here begins the seventh book of the Politics in which [it] is determined how the form of government that is simply very good must be instituted; [the book] contains thirtynine chapters).[5]

To make clear the significance of the groups represented in the upper register of Figure 74, the following phrase appears on the same folio: ".iii. estaz qui sont partie de cité ou citoiens" (three estates who are part of the city, or citizens). The counterpart to this explanation is placed in the bas-de-page: ".iii. manieres de gens qui ne sont pas citoiens ne partie de cité" (three types of people who are not citizens or part of the city). Unlike the location of these rubrics directly above the top register, the second insertion is separated from the lower register by seven lines of text comprising the introductory paragraph and the headings of the first three chapters. This distance, which obscures the relationship of the rubricated phrase to the part of the image specified, again reveals the unplanned nature of the graphic intervention.

Another indication of problems concerning the verbal explanations of the concepts represented in Figure 74 appears in the disparities between the inscriptions of the upper and lower register. Since no space was reserved in the upper zone for identifying inscriptions, the words are written in large black letters over the gold arcades. Their size and irregular placement constitute a second graphic intrusion that contrasts with the neat rectangular areas set aside above the arches at the top of the lower register. The brown ink and symmetrical placement of the lower three inscriptions show that the illustration was planned to incorporate them.

The external inscriptions of Figure 75 are even more dramatic than those of Figure 74. For one thing, the full-page format of the former totally divorces it from the text, so that only internal inscriptions identify the six groups. Furthermore, instead of the two-part organization of Figure 74 in which three groups are placed on each level, in Figure 75 the division of the illustration into three registers with two groups of figures on each level alters the basic relationships among them. As the rubrics explain, in Figure 74 citizens appear on top, noncitizens below; yet this simple order no longer exists in Figure 75. The meaning of these terms will be discussed shortly.

In Figure 75, following Oresme's instructions, the scribe Raoulet d'Orléans comes to the rescue. In a two-line rubricated message placed above the architectural setting, he explains:

.vi. manieres de gens dont les .iii. sont parties de cité ou citoiens et les autres .iii. ne sont pas citoiens ne partie de cité. Et pour cognoistre eulz qui ne sont pas citoiens ne partie de cité je les ay escripz de vermeillon.

(Six types of people of which three are parts of the city, or citizens, and the other three are not citizens nor part of the city. And to recognize those who are not citizens or part of the city, I have written them in red.)[6]


Indeed, the internal inscriptions that identify the second group of three divided between the second and third registers are written in red: cultiveurs de terres (farmers), genz de mestier (craftsmen), and marcheans (merchants).

Raoulet d'Orléans and Oresme collaborated on another extratextual device to explain the subject matter of the revised frontispiece. For the only time in the cycle, an introductory paragraph is inserted before, rather than after, the illustration. In the second column of folio 262v, which is left blank after the completion of Book VI, the following revised paragraph appears:

Ci apres commence le viie –viiie de politiques dont cy est l'ystoire en laquelle a .vi. manieres d'estaz de genz, dont les .iii. sont partie de cité ou citoiens, c'est assavoir genz d'armes, genz de conseil et gent sacerdotal; et les autres .iii. manieres de genz ne sont pas citoiens ne partie de cité, c'est assavoir cultiveurs de terres, gens de mestier et marcheanz. Et determine Aristote en ceste .vii.e livre comment la policie qui est tres bonne simplement doit estree instituee. Et contient .xxxix. chapitres.

(Hereafter begins the seventh to eighth [book] of the Politics , of which this is the illustration [story], in which there are six conditions or estates of people, of which three are part of the city or citizens, to wit, men-at-arms, counsellors, and clerics. And the other three types of people are neither citizens nor part of the city. That is to say, farmers, craftsmen, and merchants. And Aristotle determines in this seventh book how the form of government that is simply very good should be instituted. And [it] contains thirty-nine chapters.)[7]

As the first element of the introductory paragraph, a very important feature of this summary is the exceptional reference to the ystoire . The detailed explanation of the contents apparently compensates both for the separation of the illustration from the text and for the conflation in the second register of citizens and noncitizens. Oresme must have considered it more important to discuss the illustration before the text, which, as in B , is summarized briefly after the description of the ystoire . Another extraordinary element of this summary paragraph is that to catch the reader's attention Raoulet underlines every word in red. Although Oresme composed the paragraph, Raoulet may well have suggested its placement and underlining. In short, the rubricated information on top of Figure 75 and the summary paragraph that precedes it constitute the improvised extratextual information necessary to explain the confusing format of the altered three-register illustration.

Definitions of Terms

What, then, are the key terms highlighted in the rubricated phrases? As mentioned above, in terms of contemporary political structures and institutions, the words cité and citoiens need both careful generic and specific definition. Oresme defines


the different meanings of cité in a lengthy commentary in Chapter 3 of Book III. Among the different meanings of the term acknowledged by Oresme as legitimate is the following:

Item, cité est dicte plus proprement des hommes, et pour ce, il fu dit ou premier chapitre que cité est une multitude de citoiens par soy souffisante. Et tele cité est dicte une, non pas pour le lieu ne pour les gens, mes pour limite de la policie, sicomme il appert en ce chapitre.

(Item, "city" is applied more properly to people, and for this reason: it was said in the first chapter that a city is a multitude of citizens sufficient unto itself. And a given city is said to be one, not according to the place, nor of the people, but according to its jurisdictional limits, as is stated in this chapter.)[8]

In the same commentary, Oresme goes on to a further definition of cité :

Apres je di que selon la propre significacion dessus mise, cité peut estre dicte d'une multitude de citoiens habitans en un lieu et en une cité, a prendre cité selon la pre miere significacion. Et selon ce dit l'en que Paris est une cité, Rouen est une autre cité, etc.

(Afterwards I say according to the proper meaning set out above, "city" can be used of a multitude of citizens living in one place and in one city, taking "city" according to the first meaning. And accordingly, one speaks of Paris as a city, Rouen another city, etc.)[9]

From this point Oresme gets to a vital expansion of the term:

Item, chescune multitude de citoiens qui se gouverne par une policie et par uns princes ou par un prince peut estre appellee cité; car policie est la forme de la cité et qui la fait une, comme dit est. Et en ceste maniere, tout un royalme ou un pais est une grande cité, qui contient pluseurs cités partiales.

(Item, each multitude of citizens that is administered as a unit by one or more rul ers can be called a city, for the form of government is the form of the city and what makes it a unit, as it is stated. And in this manner, a whole kingdom or a country is one large city, comprising several individual cities.)[10]

As an example of cité Oresme thus includes the emerging nation-state, of which the kingdom of France is an example. In transferring the concept of the polis to the nation-state, in Book I Oresme states that the "natural and mutual affinity of


the French makes them seem like members of one lineage." Oresme mentions in glosses on Book VII as a distinctive French tradition the legend of the fleur-de-lis, as well as the unifying factor of a common language.[11] In the spirit of the translatio studii Oresme also speaks in Book VII of France as the inheritor of the extensive powers and heritage of the Persian, Greek, and Roman empires: "Item, aucune foiz tele majesté fu en Perse et puis en Grece et puis a Rome et apres en France" (Item, at one time such majesty was in Persia, and then in Greece, and then in Rome, and later in France).[12] Oresme refers to specific French royal political and administrative institutions, including, in Book VII, "the assizes and exchequer."[13]

Thus, while Oresme adheres faithfully to the Latin translations of the Politics in the text, his glosses and commentaries on Books III and VII extend the definitions of Aristotle's city-state to include larger, unified political entities: ancient imperial Rome, its medieval descendant, the Holy Roman Empire, and the institutional church. In his long commentary on the proper size of a cité in Chapter 10 of Book VII, Oresme discusses further the criteria for assessing the types of regimes that possess the qualities that make them governable.[14] In this context, Oresme again invokes the analogy of the body politic to limit the size of a kingdom. The reader can also conveniently locate Oresme's ideas on cité in the index of noteworthy subjects, where nineteen separate entries bring together crucial aspects of the term. Nine of these references derive from Book VII.[15] Oresme also voices his views about competing medieval institutions. The translator's 150 references to the church in his glosses show that he accepts the inclusion by earlier commentators on the Politics of the institutionalized church as a form of Aristotle's city-state.[16] In Book VII particularly Oresme explicates several issues of special interest to Charles V. Among these he deals at length with the question of the power and jurisdiction of the papacy vis-à-vis royal sovereignty.[17] All in all, as a champion of moderate Gallicanism, Oresme limits papal initiative, advocates church councils as an instrument of reform, and promotes the independence of the French kings in temporal matters.[18]

Like cité , the word citoien is not a neologism but has a technical meaning in the Politiques different from medieval usage of the term as a resident or inhabitant of a town.[19] Oresme supplies a definition of citoien in both the glossary of difficult words and the index of noteworthy subjects. In the former he states:

Citoien est celui qui a puissance de communiquer en aucun temps en princey consil iatif ou judicatif; ce est a dire qui peut aucune foiz avoir vois et aucune auctorité es conseulz ou es jugemens de la cité ou de partie de elle.

(A citizen is he who has power to share at some time in deliberative [consiliatif ] or judicial government; that is, one who can sometimes have a voice and some authority in the councils or courts of the "city" [state], or component thereof.)[20]


The last reference to citoien in the index leads directly to the rubricated phrase on the upper margin of Figure 74: "Eu ou .xix.e chapitre appert quelz sunt citoiens et quelz non, et que en policie tres bonne .iii. estas sunt citoiens, ce est assavoir gens d'armes et gens de conseil et gent sacerdotal" (And the nineteenth chapter relates who are and who are not citizens, and that in a very good form of government three estates are citizens, to wit, men-at-arms, counsellors, and clerics).[21] In left-to-right order the reader could then make the connection with the three groups of the upper register, where the superimposed inscriptions confirm their identity. Of these the first and third find a place in the index, while Oresme extensively defines the adjective sacerdotal in the glossary.[22] From these references Chapter 16 of Book VII emerges as a source that immediately explains the context for the citizenship of these three groups. Aristotle states that to ensure the work of an ideal state, six types of services have to be provided. These consist of agriculture, arts and crafts, defense, land ownership, public worship, and political deliberation and civil jurisdiction.[23] Although certain functions necessary to the life of a state are fulfilled by all six groups, only three of these are entitled to citizenship. In this scheme, the citizens are those groups entrusted with defense, political deliberation, and public worship. The gens d'armes or warriors fight for the state; the gens de conseil perform judicial or deliberative functions; and the gent sacerdotal take care of religious worship.[24] These groups contribute to attaining the best way of life for the state; the requisites for such a contribution are knowledge, education, and leisure for living the good life according to the practice of moral virtue.

The other three estas are also necessary to promote the life of the ideal state but are not entitled to citizenship. Aristotle insists that those engaged in the other three essential services—agriculture, arts and crafts, and trade—do not have the leisure or knowledge to contribute to "the best way of life." These three groups, cultiveurs de terres, genz de mestier , and marcheans are pictured in the lower register of Figure 74 and in the right half of the second and in the lowest zone of Figure 75. Eight out of fourteen references to cultiveurs de terres in the index of noteworthy subjects cite locations in Chapters 17 to 22 of Book VII. In all but one entry Oresme gives reasons why, despite the vital need this group fulfills in providing food for the state, it is excluded from citizenship.[25] In Chapter 17 the reader could find a familiar argument that this group does not have the time necessary to participate in political activities.[26]

The same holds true of the other two noncitizen groups. Of the five references to gent de mestier in the index of noteworthy subjects, three derive from Chapters 17 and 19 of Book VII. In a gloss on Chapter 17 Oresme explains that craftsmen and artisans lack both the leisure to participate in political activity and the necessary moral virtue.[27] Moreover, the gent de mestier are also excluded from service as judges and from holding priestly office.[28] The third group of noncitizens, the marcheans , are mentioned neither in the glossary nor in the index of noteworthy subjects. The reasons for their exclusion from citizenship are similar to those offered for the cultiveurs de terres and gent de mestier .[29] In short, Figures 74 and 75 provide ample textual links for defining the generic terms cité and citoien as well as their specific parts, functions, and opposites.


Visual Structures

While the formats of Figures 74 and 75 have already been discussed, other features of their visual structures deserve comment. As a whole, the illustrations offer paradigms or models of the body politic arranged in a hierarchical sequence. Following established conventions, the top zone of Figure 74 corresponds to high or positive values; the lower register, to contrasting negative spiritual, social, and political ones. When, as in Figure 75, a middle zone is added, the basic antithesis embedded in the two-register structure threatens the paradigmatic definition of the body politic.

The settings of both Figures 74 and 75 offer simplified memory structures in which the reader could place in an ordered sequence concepts emphasized in the text. As noted above, however, extratextual inscriptions reinforce or correct textual sequence and order. In both miniatures architectural elements repeated and combined within an internal enframement imply containment within the embracing and limited physical space signifying the cité . The repeated gold arcades of the six compartments of Figure 74 emphasize the common space inhabited by the six groups.[30] But the internal frames that divide each compartment create an impression of a separate existence for each group. Like the poor, middle class, and rich in the illustrations of Book IV (Figs. 64 and 65), the six groups of Figure 74 are defined in terms of social and economic status. But the setting repeated from the Book IV programs is not entirely appropriate for that of Book VII. The earlier pairs foster a parallelism among groups placed in the same left-to-right order in the upper and lower registers that is not applicable to those in Figures 74 and 75. Moreover, the miniatures of Book IV confer an honorific value to the central compartment as an embodiment of the mean that in Figures 74 and 75 is not appropriate for the occupants of this location. Finally, the simplified setting of Figure 74 does not in itself communicate the notion of the ideal state. In contrast, the expanded architectural features of Figure 75 that recall a similar element of the frontispieces (Figs. 46–49) convey the model aspect of the visual paradigm. Most prominent are the gold pinnacles of the upper frame capping the arcades repeated in each register.

Unlike the groups in Figure 74, those in Figure 75 are no longer separated by internal frames. The effect of this change is to emphasize the unity, rather than the division, among groups. To tie these groups together the Master of the Coronation Book inserts a linking element in the center of each register. In the top zone a sword bridges the gap between the gent d'armes and the gent de conseil ; in the middle one a crozier fulfills a similar function; and in the bottom register, the liripipe , or dangling hood, of a merchant and a stony ridge tie that group to the gent de mestier . A further linking device is the glance that at least one member of the group on the left casts toward the right-hand group.

In Figure 74 the Master of Jean de Sy varies the positions of each of his six groups. All occupy a narrow, stagelike ground plane against which they are silhouetted in contrasting red and blue tones that alternate with rose, gray, and green


ones. The scale of the figures is kept proportionate to the height of the compartment. Especially in the lower register they gain individuality because of the space left between them and the way they interact. In the upper register two frontal groups on left and right flank the central gent de conseil , subdivided into three standing and three sitting figures who face each other. Below, the scheme is inverted: the central group of the gent de mestier stands in frontal positions, while the groups on either side turn toward each other. By these devices, as well as varied hand gestures that convey communication among group members, the Master of Jean de Sy avoids a strictly diagrammatic lineup.

As in Figure 74, the three groups of citizens in Figure 75 tend to be greater in number than the noncitizens. In fact, the greater dimensions of the full-page illustration permit the inclusion of more figures per group. On all three levels the proportion of figures to space make them dominate the picture field. The heavy modeling of their sharply outlined grisaille figures accentuates their corporeality. Placed on a narrow green ground plane, they stand out against the alternating red-blue-red backgrounds. Accents of gold pick out identifying attributes of the citizen groups. The composition of Figure 75 also clearly contrasts the tightly knit groups of the three citizen classes and the more loosely strung out noncitizens. The former cluster together to perform their essential political functions. Although the latter also communicate with one another, only their work defines their function. Despite his dry style, the Master of the Coronation Book conveys the notion of the six classes as united groups rather than as separate individuals.

Costumes and Attributes

As in previous illustrations, costumes and attributes differentiate one class from another and relate the institutions discussed by Aristotle to those of contemporary society. A precedent for such a representation occurs in a miniature of the Morgan Avis au roys (Fig. 76) illustrating four classes necessary for the support of a kingdom. From left to right are depicted an agricultural worker, a craftsman roofing a house, and the learned professions represented by two men conversing and a man-at-arms. No distinction is made, however, about their respective political status.

In Figures 74 and 75 clear articulation of the citizen groups is particularly important for both generic and specific visual definitions. In this process certain important revisions occur between Figures 74 and 75. For example, the gent d'armes in Figure 74 wear civilian, knee-length, belted jackets and carry swords and spears. Their weapons, upright postures, and hand gestures identify their function as potential defenders of the cité : in modern terms, reservists rather than professional soldiers. In Figure 75, however, the gent d'armes make up an organized fighting force. Their armor, helmets, and weapons (including a crossbow) emphasize that they are a professional army. The gent de conseil of Figure 74 also differ from the equivalent group in Figure 75. The former comprises three standing figures, who may be exercising a deliberative function. The one on the right wears the distinctive domed hat associated with the rich class in the illustrations of Book


Figure 76
The Classes Necessary to the Realm. Avis au roys.

IV (Figs. 64 and 65). The other three figures are seated on a bench in earnest discussion. Previous illustrations, particularly the frontispieces (Figs. 46–49), suggest that the bench signifies a judicial or legal function. Figure 75 makes these roles more explicit. Two figures at the left stand next to a larger group seated on a bench. The two ermine strips on the mantle of the first standing figure identify him as a member of the royal family.[31] His deliberation with the figure facing him abuts the legal or judicial activities of the larger group. The connection between the two groups reveals the dual function of this class. The gent sacerdotal also undergo a change in identity. In Figure 74, the tonsures and brown robes of the figures at the extreme left and right indicate members of monastic orders. Only the cleric wearing the black rectangular headdress is distinguished in rank from the rest. In contrast, high ecclesiastical rank is emphasized in Figure 75, where two full-length bishops predominate and a third is partially visible among the background figures.

Fewer changes between Figures 74 and 75 take place among the noncitizen groups. Two of them are identical to the poor class of Book IV (Figs. 64 and 65). With the addition of one figure and a slight variation of implements, the povres of Bonne policie reappear as the cultiveurs de terres of Book VII in the upper register of Figure 74 and the central zone of Figure 75. Similarly, the three povres of Mau-


vaise policie in Figures 64 and 65 materialize as the genz de mestier in Figures 74 and 75. The former adds one figure; the latter, two. Except for the blacksmith, in both series this class is associated with the building trades. Particularly striking is the change in the appearance of the genz de mestier . Whereas the three figures in Figure 74 project an innocent appearance as they casually display the tools of their trade, their rigidly lined-up counterparts in Figure 75 seem to wield their firmly gripped implements as weapons. Rather than the rich in the Book IV illustrations, the marcheans of Book VII bear some resemblance to the pair represented in Book VIII of the Ethiques (Fig. 38). In both Figures 74 and 75, however, two pairs of merchants are depicted in separate exchanges. The man on the right of the first pair pays for a garment he purchases, while the pair in Figure 74 shake hands on a transaction involving two pigs. Their counterparts in Figure 75, however, add a third member, and the animals involved in the exchange are two sheep. The alterations made in Figure 75 pointedly refer to transactions in the wool trade.

The Appeal to Historical Experience

The updated costumes and attributes of the figures in the illustrations of Book VII raise the question of how closely Oresme wished to tie Aristotle's definitions of cité and citoien to the political life and institutions of contemporary France. As Susan Babbitt convincingly explains, in Book VII Oresme equates Aristotle's identification of the polis and the good life with the kingdom of France and the city of Paris.[32] As noted above, Oresme states that France has a distinctive heritage, language, and institutions that make it an extended form of the polis.

How then do Figures 74 and 75 reflect Oresme's views on certain of these issues as explained in his glosses? The first question to ask is whether the cité and citoiens pictured in them contain deliberate references to contemporary France. The architectural setting certainly defines an ideal political order, a communitas perfecta . Furthermore, all six classes are represented in the population and social organization of Oresme's time. Yet the identification is complicated by readers' associating the illustrations of Book VII with the medieval theory of organizing the perfect society into three orders or estates. Georges Duby cites a classic formulation of this organization:

Triple then is the house of God which is thought to be one: on Earth, some pray [orant ], others fight [pugnant ], still others work [laborant ]; which three are joined together and may not be torn asunder; so than on the function [officium ] of each the works [opera ] of the others rest, each in turn assisting all.[33]

Several elements in Figures 74 and 75 suggest a conflation of Aristotle's six classes with the three-orders scheme. First, the external inscriptions use the word estas , or estates, to describe the citizen and noncitizen classes. Second, the three-register


format of Figure 75 suggests adherence to the tripartite scheme of the orders. Then, the hierarchic character of the three estates finds resonance in the Aristotelian system in which the noncitizen classes are subordinate to the politically and socially empowered citizens. Both the two-register and three-register formats encode an analogous hierarchical system, in which the politically powerful inhabit the upper sphere; the powerless, the lower zone. Furthermore, the six Aristotelian classes can be assimilated to the three-estate orders. The warrior class, which had the obligation of offering military aid, can be identified with the gent d'armes ; the clergy, or oratores , with the gent sacerdotal ; and the cultiveurs de terres with the laborers who support the efforts of the other two classes. Furthermore, the other estas in Figures 74 and 75 can be accommodated in later versions of the three-orders system, such as the Policraticus of John of Salisbury.[34] In this influential treatise, the category of agricultural workers expands to include various ways of earning one's living, such as the arts and crafts.

Despite the similarities between the three-estates system and the representation of Aristotle's six classes in Figures 74 and 75, there are some important differences. Where in the former system do the genz de conseil belong? Furthermore, the order in which Aristotle's six categories is presented in the illustrations does not conform to that of the three estates of the medieval system. In this scheme the clergy comes first and the nobility second. Also, a considerable distance separates the broad, theoretical associations of the three estates and specific royal and political institutions of fourteenth-century France. For example, in terms of French contemporary political practice, the third estate, which included merchants, was entitled to send representatives to the meetings of the Estates General. In short, readers may have associated the three-orders theory in general with the Aristotelian classifications in Figures 74 and 75, but the specifics of the latter remain distinct.

What other clues does Oresme provide in associating the representation of Aristotle's six classes in the ideal cité of Figures 74 and 75 with contemporary France? Such a detail as the royal member of the genz de conseil in Figure 75 aids the reader in associating this group with institutions of the French kingdom. Oresme speaks glowingly in a long commentary on Chapter 32 of Book VI of the advantages to a prince of choosing and listening to virtuous counsellors. As Jean Dunbabin points out, in certain glosses in the Politiques Oresme encouraged widened participation in the legislative process.[35] Oresme may have been thinking of his own role as counsellor, while the king may have recollected his dependence on the royal council during the crises of 1356 to 1358, as well as the election of the chancellor by this body as a response to the recommendations in his translation.[36] Likewise, the redefinition of the gent sacerdotal in Figure 75 could encourage an association of the bishops and other high-ranking officials represented (and the absence of the pontiff himself) with Oresme's pleading for a church council as a means of both reform and limiting papal power.

The primary readers of the Politiques could also make negative associations between the groups represented and the threats to royal authority during the political crises of the 1350s. The meetings of the Estates General during this decade presented a potentially very dangerous attack on many areas of royal authority and


prerogative. Particularly in Figure 75, the weighty groups of the noncitizens may have recalled to Charles V and his counsellors the many meetings of the Estates General from 1356 to 1358, the years of greatest crisis. During this time the three noncitizen groups could also evoke thoughts of overt civil rebellion that confronted Charles as regent. For instance, the cultiveurs de terres could recall the peasant revolt of the Jacquerie. The gent de mestier and the marcheans could suggest the resistance of Paris to Charles's rule between 1356 and 1358 under the leadership of the powerful Etienne Marcel, provost of the merchants. Marcel was actively engaged in the wool trade, depicted in Figure 75 as the activity of the marcheans . The menacing representation of the gent de mestier may have recalled their attack on the Dauphin's palace during his near-assassination in February 1358. Again, the presence of the building trades recalls Oresme's mention in a gloss on Chapter 5 of Book VII that masons were among the groups of day laborers who were covetous, malicious, and unjust. As noted in Chapter 19 above, a possible confirmation of these negative associations are Charles V's letters patent of 25 September 1372, in which regulation of the bodies of Parisian craftsmen was vested in a royal official, the provost of the city.[37]

In short, the visual definitions of cité and citoien in Figures 74 and 75 invite reference to the institutions and class structure of contemporary France. The format of the illustrations (particularly that of Fig. 75) emphasizes the ideal or paradigmatic character of the two concepts. Yet the updating and concretization of the definitions invite both translation of and comparison to contemporary institutions. Despite certain fundamental differences, the six classes represented also suggest an analogy to and assimilation of the hierarchic three-estates organization of medieval society. Oresme may have left to the reader the process of reconciling his definitions of these concepts with their own historical, political, and social experience. Or the occasion of oral explication of Book VII may have afforded an opportunity for him to reconcile the Aristotelian definitions with the very different institutions of his own day.

Collaborative Practice and Its Interpretation

The illustrations for Book VII reveal valuable information about the roles and cooperation of the translator and scribe in the production of Charles V's copies of the Politiques . The choice of the illustration of Book IV from MS B as a conceptual and pictorial model for Figure 74 and a shift to the frontispieces of MS D for Figure 75 probably represent such a collaboration. A similar working together results in the insertion of a revised introductory paragraph and external inscriptions for Figure 75. The credit that Raoulet d'Orléans bestows on himself for his graphic solutions to problems caused by an altered visual structure reveals the important role of the scribe in correcting and supervising the execution of the manuscript. Raoulet's status is amplified by the prominence he gives himself in the colophon at the beginning of D and his recording of his adjustment of Oresme's additional gloss to Book III. This evidence of Raoulet's importance ac-


cords with our knowledge from other manuscripts of his self-confidence and independent literary activity.[38] The revised introductory paragraph in D sheds further light on Oresme's role as inventor of the program of illustrations. His motives for these explications may have been prompted by the importance of the concepts defined in these illustrations, as well as by the changes in their formats.

Perhaps the difficulty Oresme experienced in translating Aristotle's generic terms for polis and citizenship made the visual structures of either Figure 74 or Figure 75 inadequate in themselves to construct parallel social and political equivalents signified by the French words cité and citoien . The need for the reinforcements of the internal and external inscriptions suggests a disjunction between the complex verbal arguments of Aristotle's text and Oresme's lengthy commentaries and the inherently limited visual means available for the translation of such concepts.

The question of how the primary audience understood the illustrations of Book VII is also difficult to answer. Part of the problem is how they perceived the six classes in social and political terms. Except for the larger inscriptions of the upper register in Figure 74, the miniaturist's treatment of the citizens and noncitizens is evenhanded. The changes in the depiction of the six groups in Figure 75, however, emphasize the power of the citizen groups and the social inferiority of the noncitizens. A certain menacing quality in the representation of the politically powerless groups emerges from a modern reading of the illustration. As always, it is impossible to evaluate such an interpretation as an instruction from Oresme to the Master of the Coronation Book, an intentional or accidental consequence of the miniaturist's style, or a subjective reaction. Since for the most part Oresme's glosses do not contradict Aristotle's negative comments about the noncitizens, it is reasonable to assume that the illustrations convey a continued justification for the hierarchical organization of society and the exclusion of these three groups from political life.


Education of the Young (Book VIII)

A Limited Program

The illustrations of Book VIII (Figs. 77 and 78), the last book of the Politics , relate to the education of the young, a subject already discussed by Aristotle in the previous book. The formats and settings of Figures 77 and 78 do not indicate, as they did in Book VII (Figs. 74 and 75), that Aristotle is addressing education in the ideal state. A comparison of the size and visual structures of Figures 77 and 78 to those of Book VII reveals a less inventive approach in the Book VIII series. Rather than the fully articulated models of complex concepts pictured in the miniatures of Book VII, the paradigmatic mode of representation affords selective and simplified examples. Indeed, a reading of both Aristotle's text and Oresme's translation suggests a disjunction between the profundity of the ideas expounded and the superficial character of the illustrations. An approach similar to that of the program of Book II (Figs. 55–57) of the Politiques diminishes the rich content of the text to a reductive subject-guide function.

A miniature from the Morgan Avis au roys (Fig. 79) represents a wider range of pursuits appropriate to the upbringing and education of a prince during the different stages of childhood. These phases begin on the upper left, where two attendants bathe a royal baby. The second scene, on the upper right, shows the young prince receiving instruction. In the lower register four youths play ball, an example of appropriate physical exercise. In contrast, Oresme selects for illustration two of Aristotle's main types of instruction necessary for future citizens of the ideal state at different stages of their development: physical education and music. Oresme omits letters (encompassing reading and writing) and drawing, the other two fields of training established by Aristotle.

Formats and Decoration

Figures 77 and 78 adopt a two-register format. The former presents an irregular example inasmuch as the lower register contains one, instead of two, units. The resulting imbalance creates an awkward gap between the left and right halves of the miniature. Although the lower right space is filled with chapter headings, following from where they begin below the lower left miniature, the verbal space


Figure 77
Above, from left:  Trop dure discipline, Bonne discipline pour les armes; Bonne discipline
pour bonnes meurs. Les politiques d'Aristote,  MS  B.


Figure 78
Above : Excercitations corporeles;  below, from left:  A gecte le dart, En musique.
Les politiques d'Aristote, MS  D.


Figure 79
The Stages of Childhood. Avis au roys.

filler protrudes beyond the right margin of the first column and disturbs the symmetrical organization of the folio. With their sharp angles and central points, the elongated interior quadrilobe frames accentuate a discordance between the visual and calligraphic elements of the folio.

Figure 77 is the third folio in B to bear the king's arms, interior quadrilobe frames, and the naturalistically delineated birds and other animals. Like Figures 55 and 56, the author portraits of Book II, these illustrations are the work of the Master of the Coronation of Charles VI; the archaistic character of the style and the reductive program are similar. In Figure 77 the miniaturist introduces accents of colors contrasting with the alternating red and blue organization of the calligraphic and border decoration, such as the green of the ground plane and trees or the pale brown of the psaltery and shields. Most unusually, red and brown tones depict an interior brick wall of a cutaway structure in the lower left compartment. Moreover, the small scale of these figures—perhaps an effort to represent children—seems at odds with the large size of the inscriptions. In short, the delicacy and mannered quality of the grisaille figures contrast with the strong calligraphic and decorative structure of the folio.

In all respects, Figure 78, executed by a member of the workshop of the Coronation Book of Charles V, is far more robust and unified. To regularize the awkwardness of the three-unit configuration in Figure 77, the addition of a fourth


panel in Figure 78 evens out the layout of the folio. Occupying about two-thirds of the text block, Figure 78 thus represents a revision of the arrangement in the Book II illustration in D , where a three-unit, two-register format (Fig. 57) results in an imbalance similar to that of Figure 77. Also rejected in Figure 78 are the interior quadrilobe enframements. The removal of the quadrilobes and the substitution of the heavy interior frames result in small, independent panels that allow an uninterrupted presentation of the figural compositions.

In contrast to the small scale of the figures in Figure 77, those of Figure 78 dominate the space and, as usual, are modeled in grisaille. These forms stand out against the alternating blue and red geometric backgrounds. These features are greatly diminished in the upper left and lower right panels in favor of extended landscape and architectural settings. The miniaturist uses green abundantly to define naturalistic features such as the trees and the grassy, expanded ground plane of the three exterior scenes. A red tone picks out a roof that covers the gray building in the lower right. Despite the flaccid, clumsy style of Figure 78, the illustration shows a greater interest in naturalistic representation than does the archaizing mannerism of Figure 77.

Inscriptions and Texts

Although the inscriptions of Figures 77 and 78 differ, in both miniatures the introductory paragraph forges the general link between text and image: "Ci commence le .viii.e livre de Politiques ouquel il determine de la discipline des joennes gens apres l'eage de .vii. ans. Et contient .xiiii. chapitres" (Here begins the eighth book of the Politics in which he discusses the education of young men after the age of seven. It contains fourteen chapters).[1] The inscriptions of Figure 77 quite effectively relate to this summary by repeating the key word discipline , used in the sense of education or training. In the upper left compartment the words read, "Trop dure discipline," or too difficult training. This phrase describes the activity of three youths. In a landscape setting suggested by three stylized trees, two youthful males are engaged in wrestling, while a third lifts a heavy stone. Opposite this scene, on the upper right, the inscription reads, "Bonne discipline pour les armes," or good training to bear arms. Again, three youths embody the activities named in the inscription. The two on the left are practicing with shields and sticks, while a third prepares to throw a long spear, perhaps a javelin. Below on the left, the inscription indicates "Bonne discipline pour bonnes meurs," or good training for good morals. Within a cutaway doll's-house interior, three standing figures make music. The person on the left plays a psaltery, while two others, guided by a scroll and book respectively, sing together.

In the headings for the first, second, and fourth chapters, further links among the inscriptions of Figure 77 and the text occur in the repetition of the word discipline . Although no reference to this term is found in the index of noteworthy subjects, several appropriate entries occur under enfans , a word that appears in


the headings of the second, fourth, and fifth chapters. Particularly relevant is this reference: "Comment pour disposer les enfans as armes il ne les convient pas nourrir durement ne les faire excerciter en fors labeurs—VIII, 5" (How, in order to prepare children for military pursuits, it is not appropriate to feed them roughly or train them in heavy work—VIII, 5).[2]

In turn this entry relates to a text passage and gloss by Oresme that refer specifically to the verbal and visual message in the upper left unit of Figure 77:

T. Maintenant aucunes des cités qui semblent avoir mesmement cure et sollicitude des enfans, il leur impriment et funt avoir habit athletique, ce est a dire excercitations trop dures et trop fortes. (T. Now some cities which seem to be especially solicitous and concerned about children force them into a training more appropriate to athletes, that is to say, strong exercises which are excessively harsh and exacting.) G. Si comme luicter et porter pierres et vestir armeures pesantes ou faire teles choses. (G. Such as wrestling and carrying rocks and wearing heavy armor or other such occupations.)[3]

Oresme has selected for illustration in a left-to-right sequence, following the order of his gloss, the two examples cited: luicter , or wrestling, and porter pierres , or lifting heavy stones. The somewhat uncouth appearance of these youths in their short tunics and bare feet may allude to both the physical and mental effects of such harsh training. Oresme translates the relevant passage this way:

T. Et ceulz qui renvoient ou mettent les enfans tres grandement ou tres longuement a ces excercitations corporeles, et ceulz qui ce funt et les y mettent sans pedagoge ou maistre qui leur monstre les choses necessaires, il funt les enfans bannauses, ce est a dire rudes de corps et de engin.

(And those who send or put the children excessively or for too long a time to these bodily exercises, and those who do so and put them to it without an instructor or a master to show them what they need to know, make the children vulgar, that is to say, rude in body and mind.)[4]

The definition of the term bannause in the glossary of difficult words further explains the ill effects of such training. Oresme first uses the word to designate a man who engages in "oevres serviles ou deshonestes et viles ou ordes et a fin servile et pour guaing" (servile, dishonest, vile, or filthy work for a low end and for gain). The next sentence describes a physical or physiognomic disposition to such a state:

Et aucuns sunt ad ce enclins de nature ou selon les corps qu'il ont gros et rudes et mal formés ou selon les ames sensitives pour aucune malvese disposition des sens de dedens. Et telz l'en seult appeller vilains natifs .


(And some are inclined to this by nature or according to the gross, uncouth, and deformed bodies or by the sensitive part of the soul to some bad disposition of the external senses. And such people one should call natural villeins.)[5]

In short, the text warns against the physical and mental dangers associated with too-severe training. Such pursuits not only endanger the proper growth of youthful bodies but also prevent the formation of habits for achieving the moral virtue of courage necessary for an adult to fight in battle.

The more desirable forms of physical training represented in the upper right compartment are associated in Oresme's text with lighter forms of exercise, legieres excercitemens .[6] A further entry under enfans in the index of noteworthy subjects clarifies this point: "Comment le nourrissement et l'excercitation des enfans pour les disposer as armes doivent estre ordenés et moderés—VIII, 5" (How the diet and training of children for military pursuits must be organized and moderate).[7] The two forms of physical training seem also to be associated with differences in body types and social classes. The larger heads and stockier forms of the youths on the left contrast with the more refined proportions of their opposite numbers who wear elegant, belted pourpoints or jacques and pointed shoes or poulains . The change in the inscriptions of Figure 78 may result from the reformatting of the miniature, specifically the addition of a fourth compartment. But the shift may also originate in Oresme's dissatisfaction with the generic word discipline as the essential term of the visual definition. Instead, he substitutes three specific descriptors. In the upper register he uses the words excercitations corporeles , or physical exercise. The noun appears in the upper left compartment; the adjective, in the upper right. The phrase thus seems to join the two panels.[8] In contrast, the inscriptions on the lower register lack grammatical coherence either as separate units or as an ensemble. The verb phrase a gecter le dart , to throw an arrow or javelin, may refer to the excercitations corporeles above, but its grammatical connection is somewhat tenuous.

Even more cryptic is the juxtaposition of the lower left inscription with the one opposite, en musique , applied to the seated music-making trio. While music is the subject of the lower left compartment of Figure 77 and is a concrete example of bonne discipline pour bonnes meurs , the word itself is not used. The naming of music as the specific subject of the fourth compartment of Figure 78 reveals Oresme's interest in a field to which, as later discussion will show, he made important contributions. His index of noteworthy subjects devotes over twenty text locations to describing Aristotle's discussion of musique . The second entry is a notable exception to Oresme's system of specific citations in informing the reader that "tout ce qui s'ensuit de musique est en le VIIIe livre" (All that follows about music is in the eighth book).[9]

Subsequent references cite Chapters 7 to 14 as sources of important information about the subject. Such elaborate documentation is consistent with Aristotle's formulation that education in music is an important part of the training of the future citizen. As proper training in gymnastics prepares the bodies of young males in


promoting the virtue of courage, so study of and engagement in music cultivates the mind and serves as a means of moral training. Oresme points out this truth in the index of noteworthy subjects: "Comment soi delecter en musique deuement vault et profite a bonnes meurs—8" (To delight in music properly is valuable and benefits good morals—8).[10] Later entries under musique observe: "Comment bonnes melodies purgent de toutes excessives passions ceulz qui sunt de bonne nature—12" (How good melodies purge excessive passions from those who are of good character—12) and "Comment bonnes melodies meuvent a contemplation et a devotion—12" (How good melodies prompt contemplation and devotion—12).[11] In a reference that recalls the contrast with the harsh training associated with the lower orders, Oresme excludes certain types of music that appeal to inferior social classes: "Comment rudes villains se delectent en autre musique que ne funt ceulz qui sunt de franche nature" (How crude villeins delight in a [type of] music other than that which people of free status make).[12] Oresme also identifies Chapter 10 as the location of information about "Comment ce est expedient que les enfans apprennent musique, et de voiz et de instrumens" (How it is advisable that children learn music, both vocal and instrumental). He then specifies: "Quele musique les enfans doivent apprendre et quele non, et jusques a quele terme" (What music children should and should not learn, and to what point).[13] The lack of any inscription relating to music in Figure 77 and the elliptical reference in Figure 78 afford an example of a disjunction between Oresme's elucidation of profound Aristotelian concepts and their extreme condensation in the verbal and visual summary of the illustrations.

Visual Structures

The somewhat puzzling change from the tightly knit contrasts of the inscriptions in Figure 77 to the series of more fragmentary verbal references in Figure 78 suggests again that revision of the illustrations' formats affected their visual structures. As was previously noted, the most obvious change is the addition of a fourth unit in Figure 78 to the three of Figure 77. The extrapolation of the javelin thrower from the upper right unit of Figure 77 to form the lower left compartment of Figure 78 brings unity to the folio at the expense of certain basic visual relationships. For example, the two upper scenes of Figure 78 are grouped under the single heading of excercitations corporeles . Although the basic disposition of the two scenes preserves the visual contrast between the too harsh and the good types of training, the inscription shared by the two units also indicates parallelism and equivalence. It is possible that Oresme, or the miniaturist responding to instructions conveyed by Raoulet d'Orléans, here does not distinguish between the training with shields and sticks and wrestling and lifting heavy weights as opposite types of physical training. If this interpretation is correct, then the entire upper register of excercitations corporeles offers a united, if somewhat negative, contrast to the lower one.


It is more likely, however, that the additional unit on the lower right of Figure 78 affects the original contrast of good and bad pursuits set up in Figure 77. In the latter, the lower left scene of Bonne discipline pour bonnes meurs offers a clear-cut opposition to the Trop dure discipline in the scene directly above it. Of course, in one sense, the javelin thrower of Figure 78 provides an obvious contrast to the wrestling and stone-lifting figures above him. Unlike these stocky youths in their simple shirts, his clothing, hairstyle, and svelte figure identify him as a member of a higher social class. Since the shield wielders of the upper right also share these characteristics, a common class association seems to unite the two units.

While ambiguous relationships remain among the two scenes of the upper register and the lower left unit of Figure 78, another interpretation of the lower register is possible. By balancing a representation of a proper form of physical exercise with one that stresses cultivation of the soul, Oresme may prefer to suggest a distinction between the two types of training. In a gloss on Chapter 5 the translator amplifies Aristotle's point that

les excercitations qui profitent a faire le corps plus fort et plus agile ne sunt pas profitables a l'entendement pour l'estude. Et au contraire la solicitude de l'estude ne profite pas a la disposition du corps desus dicte. Et ne peut l'en bien faire ces .ii. choses ensemble.

(The physical exercise that improves the agility of the body does not benefit the disposition to study. And in a contrary sense the disposition to study does not benefit the body as stated above. And one cannot do these two things well together.)[14]

The significance of the lower right compartment remains intact. With certain changes in Figure 78, the choice of music as a field of training that develops the moral powers of the soul continues. Unlike the blank wall in the comparable scene of Figure 77, the setting of Figure 78 suggests an interior space with windows. This kind of location may allude to one of Oresme's glosses on Chapter 4 that refers to a persuasive interpretation by an unidentified commentator on a passage from Homer. The explanation concerns a remark by Ulysses on the enjoyment of music "quant les gens sunt joieus et assemblés sus les tecs des maisons" (when people are joyful and assembled on the rooftops of houses). Oresme elaborates:

Mes de ce que il dit quant les gens sunt sus les tects des maisons, ce est pource que en pluseurs lieus les gens s'assemblent sus les terraces des maisons pour disner ou pour eulz esbatre ou pour autre chose, jouxte ce que dit Nostre Seigneur: Quod in aure audistis predicate super tecta.

(But he speaks of this when people gather on the rooftops of houses, that is because in some places people assemble on the terraces of houses to dine, to take their pleasure, or for other reasons, [and to this] Our Lord says: "What you hear whispered you must shout from the housetops.")[15]


Figure 78 also differs from Figure 77 in that the music makers are now seated, with the psaltery player in the center rather than on the left. The three figures exchange attentive glances that indicate the communication and coordination required in making music. Singing to the accompaniment of the psaltery again absorbs the people on the left and right, who respectively hold an open book and a scroll with notes. The emphasis on singing as the musical activity most suited to educating the young derives from the power of melody and rhyme to inspire the soul to virtuous activity.[16] Young people need instruction so that they can play and sing and, without becoming too involved in technical and mechanical matters, judge what distinguishes good music from bad. The group in Figure 78 look like mature individuals rather than youths. Since musical training in Aristotle's scheme belongs to youths between fourteen and twenty-one, in medieval terms this age group could well signify their status as young adults. The dress of the players, particularly the buttoned cloak of the figure on the left, suggests an upper-class context for this pursuit.

If the visual structure of Figure 78 presents certain problems of consistency, the lower register in itself provides contrasts that offer general equivalents of Aristotle's ideas. Proper education of the body that takes place outdoors parallels training of the soul in an interior setting. The meaning of the entire ensemble is, however, less clear than in Figure 77, where the moral consequences of the different types of training are more clearly differentiated in both the inscriptions and the visual structure of the miniature.

Historical and Musical Experience

On the surface, the programs of Figures 77 and 78 do not seem directly to address the historical experience of the Politiques ' primary readers. Yet it is possible that the emphasis on the ill effects of too-harsh physical training may have recalled to Charles, who was a sickly youth, disagreeable experiences of his own knightly training. More inclined to study, he had a reputation as a music lover. In her biography, Christine de Pizan mentions that after meals the king enjoyed listening to music of string instruments to raise his spirits.[17] Following Aristotle's advice in the Politics , Charles would have studied music as part of his education. The French translation of Giles of Rome's De regimine principum, Li livres du gouvernement des rois , prescribes musical training as an aid to the moral development of princes and noble youths.[18] In fact, by the fourteenth century music assumed an important part in religious and secular court ceremonials as emblematic of the rank and authority of the prince.[19] Furthermore, Paris had long enjoyed great prominence in the development of musical theory and practice.[20] The rapid growth during the fourteenth century of the ars nova —with its complex rhythms, separate national styles, and the rise of secular music—had strong ties in France not only to the University of Paris but also to the French court.[21] For example, evidence exists of close ties between the royal family—including Charles V—and the leading poet-


composer of the period, Guillaume de Machaut (1300–1377).[22] As François Avril has clearly shown, manuscripts of Machaut's works, illustrated by miniaturists who worked on books commissioned by John the Good and Charles V, reveal strong links between royal and aristocratic patronage of such works.[23] Especially interesting is Avril's finding that two hands who worked on the illustrations of Machaut's writings are the illuminators of Charles V's first Ethiques and his two Politiques manuscripts: the Master of Jean de Sy and the Master of the Coronation Book of Charles V. A common thread in the pattern of royal patronage is the preference for the vernacular as an instrument of national identity and cultural superiority.

Oresme had his own strong connection with the ars nova and its theorists. In a long gloss on Chapter 7 of Book VIII Oresme cites two of his own writings when he speaks of theories of harmonic proportions and the music of the spheres and their relationship to mathematical theory.[24] During his long association with the University of Paris, Oresme undoubtedly became acquainted with leading theorists of the ars nova . He dedicated his treatise on mathematical ratios, the Algorismus proportionum , to Philippe de Vitry, who in his treatise of 1320, Ars nova , named the new musical movement in which his ideas played a prominent part. As Menut points out, Oresme's dedication was appropriate inasmuch as Philippe's "interest in music was still primarily mathematical, deeply involved with harmonic ratios, isometric rhythms and strictly patterned tonal arrangements."[25] Oresme's contribution to music theory is rooted in his mathematical and scientific interests. V. Zoubov discusses Oresme's contributions in such works as the De configurationibus qualitatitum et motuum , the De commensurabilitate vel incommensurabilitate motuum celi , and the commentary in his translation of On the Heavens . Zoubov also mentions Oresme's still-unknown treatise on the division of the monochord.[26] Oresme's glosses on Book VIII of the Politiques confirm his genuine appreciation and knowledge of the theoretical, aesthetic, and intellectual traditions of music.

The involvement of Charles V and Oresme in contemporary musical life seems especially to contradict the rather terse illustrations of Figures 77 and 78. Aristotle's theories on the education of future citizens of the ideal state find updated and concretized visual summaries. As examples of a paradigm, the illustrations serve simple indexical rather than lexical functions. Perhaps the familiarity of Oresme's primary readers with the subject accounts for the perfunctory character of the scenes. As in the illustrations of Books II (Figs. 55–57), the simplified content of Figure 77 coincides with an archaistic style and elegant decorative presentation favored by the workshop of the Master of the Coronation of Charles VI.


Family and Household (Book I, Yconomique )

An Influential Text

Oresme's translation of the eight books of the Politics in B and D is followed by his French version of a short treatise called the Economics . Considered as the third of Aristotle's moral works after the Ethics and the Politics , the Economics centers on the economic management of the household and family relationships. Aristotle addresses these subjects in Book VIII of the Ethics in the context of friendship and in Book I of the Politics as the fundamental unit of the city-state. Modern scholarship now considers that the Economics was assembled after Aristotle's death from diverse sources, including several parts of Xenophon's Oeconomicus . The Economics was, however, mistakenly introduced into the Aristotelian corpus in the twelfth century, when Averroes composed a paraphrase of the work that figures in a Latin translation dating from about 1260.[1]

Indeed, the history of the Latin translations of the text is extremely complex, as Menut's summary in his edition of Oresme's vernacular version indicates. Menut points out that two Arabico-Latin versions preceded William of Moerbeke's Latin translation of 1267 from the Greek of Books I and III of the Economics . Book II is not included in William's work, and the third book is numbered as Book II.[2] Oresme's French version, Le livre de yconomique d'Aristote , comprises two books. The first is based on Book I of the Greek and Latin originals; the second, on Book II of William of Moerbeke's version and an anonymous Latin translation of Book III.

The Economics belongs to a genre of didactic literature relatively rare during the earlier Middle Ages. Few texts on household economy and management were written until the thirteenth century. Menut points to classical prototypes such as Hesiod's Works and Days , the previously mentioned Oeconomicus of Xenophon, Virgil's Georgics , and other works on agriculture by Roman writers, including passages from Pliny's Natural History .[3] The growth of large feudal properties provided the impetus for treatises on their management. One such work was Peter of Crescenzi's Duodecim libri ruralium commodorum of about 1300, translated into French for Charles V in 1370. The vernacular version has two titles, Le livre des prouffits champestres et ruraulx and Le livre appellé Rustican du champ de labeur .[4] Other treatises on rural economy date from the same period, including the popular vernacular version of Peter of Crescenzi's text, the first original French work on the subject by


Jean de Brie, Le bon berger of about 1375, and Jean Boutillier's La somme rurale of 1380.

The allied subject of familial relationships discussed in both books of the Yconomique is the theme of two other contemporary treatises. Le livre du chevalier de la Tour-Landry pour l'enseignement de ses filles dates from 1371 and the anonymous Le ménagier de Paris , from 1393. In a separate but notable variation addressed to women, Christine de Pizan composed in 1404 Le livre du trésor de la cité des dames (known also as Le livre des trois vertus ). In this book for women of all social classes, Christine offers practical advice on household management and personal conduct.[5] Oresme's translation of the Economics led to its incorporation in printed versions of Renaissance conduct literature. Vérard's 1489 Paris edition of Oresme's versions of the Politiques and Yconomique may have inspired the new French translation from the Latin version of Leonardo Bruni composed by Sibert Lowenborch and printed in Paris by Christien Wechel in 1532.[6] During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, various humanist treatises on the family were written, of which Alberti's Della famiglia of 1445 is the best known. Based in part on the Economics , Alberti's treatise circulated in French translations.[7] In short, the Yconomique is part of a long, multi-dimensional textual development.

Oresme's Compilation of the Text and Its Graphic Treatment

The Yconomique is the shortest of the three Aristotelian moral treatises translated by Oresme for Charles V. In B , the oldest illustrated copy of the Politics and Economics , 23 folios (373–396) make up the Yconomique , compared to 372 folios for the Politiques . A similar relationship occurs in D , where the Yconomique takes up 24 folios (363v–387) to 363 for the Politiques . Oresme notes that in logical terms the Yconomique should follow the Ethiques according to the number of people and social groups discussed in each.[8] Oresme also observes that Aristotle had discussed the household in Book I of the Politics , but to expound on the subject more fully, the Economics follows. In his translation Oresme adheres to his usual practice of dividing the text of the two books into short chapters and furnishing titles and summary paragraphs for them. Book I has seven chapters; Book II, eight. His glosses, which comprise two-thirds of the full text, are of the same types found in the Ethiques and the Politiques .[9] Oresme uses the glosses of earlier commentators such as Jean Buridan, William of Ockham, Ferrandus de Hispania, Barthélemy de Bruges, Albert the Great, and Durandus de Hispania.[10] He adds, however, original contributions in the form of cross-references to his translations of the Ethics and the Politics , other Aristotelian and classic works, as well as biblical sources. As later discussion will show, Oresme's updating and concretizing of the text contains significant observations on topics such as marriage. There are, however, only six glosses long enough to be called commentaries.[11] Furthermore, Oresme does not furnish an index of noteworthy subjects or a glossary of difficult words. At the conclusion of the Yconomique , he explains these omissions:


Cy fine le Livre de Yconomique . Et ne est pas mestier de faire table des notables de si petit livre et souffist signer les en marge. Et aussi tous les moz estranges de cest livre sunt exposés en la glose de cest livre ou il sunt exposés en la table des fors moz de Politiques .

(Here ends the Book of Economics . It is unnecessary to draw up a list of notable passages in such a small book and it is sufficient to point them out in the margins. Also, all the unusual words in this book are explained in the glosses or in the alphabetical table of difficult words in the Book of Politics .)[12]

Despite the more cursory textual treatment of the Yconomique , the layout and decoration of the introductory folios of B and D adhere to the standards observed in the Politiques . In B (Fig. 80) the running title Yconomique is composed of capital letters executed in blue and rose pen flourishes. A drollery on the upper left margin depicts a hybrid woman-monster spinning: a programmatic and satiric comment on the miniature.[13] Although the summary paragraph is not rubricated, a foliate initial of normal dimensions (six lines in length) introduces the text. A smaller foliate initial L ending in two ivy leaves calls attention to the beginning of the first chapter of the text. The alternating rose and blue two-line, pen-flourished initials of the chapter titles are also characteristic of the decoration, as are the enframement and borders. In D (Fig. 81) the title of the text appears on the previous folio, although the running title for Book I occurs above the ivy-leaf upper border. Accompanied by a foliate initial C of normal dimensions, the introductory paragraph is rubricated. While the usual type of initials for the chapter titles follows, an unusual feature is the eight-line flourished initial Y introducing the first word of Chapter 1 of the text without any line separation or space following the titles. The Y in Figure 81 may compensate for the fact that the sentence in Figure 80 that announces the completion of the chapter titles of Book I and the beginning of the text was dropped in the later version.

Formal Qualities of the Illustrations and Text-Image Relationships

Figures 80 and 81 provide a unique opportunity in these cycles to compare works from the atelier of the Master of the Coronation Book of Charles V. Although this workshop is responsible for all the miniatures in D , Figure 80 marks its first appearance in the cycle of B . While an overall resemblance of figure types and composition is striking, a more searching stylistic comparison reveals that Figure 80 is the work of a more refined and subtle artist who can be associated with the best illustrations in his most famous work, the Coronation Book of Charles V .[14] Figure 81 is close to, if not identical with, a member of the workshop who executed Figure 71, the illustration of Book VI in D . Indeed, Figure 71 seems to be the model for Figures 80 and 81. The most striking resemblance lies in the motif of


the diagonal path created by the figure plowing. The reversal of direction from Figure 71 to Figure 81 suggests that a traced drawing or a model book was available to members of the workshop. A common feature of all three scenes is the farmer standing beside the horse and plowing with the help of a servant. Also repeated are the parallel rows of furrows, the thatched building framed by trees, and the stylized plant forms.

The compositions in both Figures 80 and 81 are, however, more simplified than that of Figure 71. The rectangular shape of the two Yconomique illustrations leads to a horizontally oriented composition, essentially limited to two flat surfaces. The composition of Figure 80 accentuates this horizontality, while Figure 81 constructs a diagonal suggestive of a hilly rather than a flat terrain. Figure 80 also continues the parallel emphasis by the placement and framing of the building on the right connected with the plowing action on the left. In Figure 81, however, the house and its occupants are placed at a distance from and behind the farming operation. Figures 80 and 81 also differ in color. The former adheres to the red and blue tones adopted in the rest of the cycle but adds brown, beige, and green hues for definition of naturalistic elements. Figure 81 retains the practice in D of modeling the figures in grisaille while using browns, grays, and greens. A further point of contrast is the vivid red and gold background of Figure 80 with its rigid diamond pattern that occupies more than half the rear plane and accentuates the horizontality of the composition. In Figure 81, however, the blue and gold foliate pattern of the background plays a far smaller role and is subordinate to the representation of the landscape.

While the decorative features and layout of Figures 80 and 81 do not reveal any changes from those of the Politiques , in two respects these illustrations of Book I are different. First, the dimensions of Figures 80 and 81 are noticeably reduced. Second, neither image has internal or external inscriptions. Only the illustrations for Book III of the Politiques (Figs. 60 and 61) share this characteristic. Previous discussion of the Periander tale in Book III indicates, however, that omission of an inscription may have been a deliberate strategy. Yet Figures 80 and 81 can draw on two other textual features to serve both lexical and indexical functions. In Figure 80 the prominent title serves as a verbal signal of the beginning of the book. The large initial C draws attention to the opening paragraph, which summarizes the contents of the Yconomique :

Cy commence le livre appellé Yconomique , lequel composa Aristote et ouquel il determine de gouvernement de maison. Et contient .ii. petis livres parcialz. Ou premier il determine generalment de toutes les parties de maison et de toutes les communications qui sunt en maison. Et contient .vii. chapitres.

(Here begins the book called Economics , which Aristotle wrote and in which he sets forth the rules for household management. And it contains two short, separate books. In the first, he examines broadly all the parts of the household and all the interrelated divisions of a household. And it contains seven chapters.)[15]


Figure 80
Household and Family. Le yconomique d'Aristote,  MS  B.


Figure 81
Household and Family. Le yconomique d'Aristote,  MS  D.


If further guidance is necessary to determine the meaning of the neologism yconomique , the reader can find the word defined in the glossary of the Politiques under Yconome , as "celui qui ordene et dispense les choses appartenantes a un hostel ou a une maison" (he who arranges and dispenses matters pertaining to a household or a family), and yconomie or yconomique , as "art ou industrie de teles choses bien ordenees et bien disposees" (the art or industry of such matters well arranged and ordered).[16] A further source of information about the contents of the Yconomique can be found in the chapter headings below the illustrations. Of particular interest is the title for Chapter 2: "Ou secont chapitre il met en general les parties materieles de maison et traicte en especial de la partie appellee possession" (In the second chapter he explains in general the material elements of the household and discusses particularly that part called possessions).[17] In other words, if the lack of an inscription signals the lesser importance of the Yconomique , such an omission does not deprive the reader of substantial links to the text.

Visual Structures

The undivided rectangular structure of Figures 80 and 81 is the second example of this feature in the two cycles. As was previously noted, the illustrations for Book VI of the Politiques (Figs. 70 and 71) provide the models for the setting and the overall structure of the Yconomique frontispieces. Also similar in all four miniatures is the absence of an internal inscription, which again leads in Figures 80 and 81 to an initial reading of these miniatures as simple depictions of rural life. Yet, as in Book VI of the Politiques , the illustrations contain generic visual definitions of basic concepts in Oresme's translation, as well as a paradigmatic representation interpreted as a universal model. The first source defines the essential components of the household. In the Yconomique (Book I, Chapter 2) Oresme refers to Hesiod's definition:

Et de ce disoit un appellé Esyodus qu'en maison convient que le seigneur soit premierement et la femme et le beuf qui are la terre. Et ceste chose, ce est assavoir le beuf, est premierement pour grace et affin d'avoir nourrissement et l'autre chose, ce est la femme, est pour grace des enfans.

(And on this subject, a man by the name of Hesiod stated that a household requires first of all a master and then the wife and the ox to plow the land. And the last item, that is, the ox is primarily for the purpose of producing food and the wife is
to provide children.)[18]

Oresme's gloss on this passage is worth citing:

Pour les concevoir et nourrir. Et si comme il appert ou premier chapitre de Politiques , le beuf qui are est es povres gens en lieu de ministre ou de serf. Et donques


ces .iii. parties sunt neccessaires a meson quelconque, tant soit petite ou povre, ce est assavoir le seigneur et sa femme et qui les serve. Car la femme ne doit pas estre serve, si comme il appert ou premier chapitre de Politiques . Et se aucune de ces .iii. choses defailloit en un hostel ce ne seroit pas maison complectement et proprement selon la premiere institution naturele, mes seroit maison imparfecte ou diminute et comme chose mutilee et tronchie. Item, pluseurs autres choses et parties sunt neccessaires ou convenables a meson, mes cestes sunt les premieres et les plus principales.

(To give birth to them and to feed them. And as it is pointed out in Politics , I, 1 [1252b 11, quoting Hesiod, Works and Days , 405] in a poor household, the ox that does the ploughing takes the place of a worker or serf. And thus these three items are essential to any household whatsoever, regardless of its size or wealth—that is, the master, the wife, and someone to help them. For the wife must not be a servant, as is shown in Politics I, 1 [1252b 1]. And if any one of these three things is lacking, the household would not be complete and perfect according to natural law, but would be imperfect and a miniature, as it were, a mutilated and truncated household. Several other items, are required or desirable in a household; but these are the primary and principal elements.)[19]

Thus, it is quite clear that the illustrations represent the basic elements of the household: the farmer, the servant, the wife, and the child. The economic unit is thus synonymous with the family. The farmer is also the father of the family, and the wife, the mother.

The casting of this basic economic and domestic element in terms of agriculture goes back to Hesiod. But the Economics emphasizes that cultivation of the land is the most natural way of acquiring property and riches. Oresme's text then refers to other ancient authorities, familiar from previous discussion of agriculture in Book VI of the Politiques . He invokes Virgil's Georgics to reinforce the point that cultivation of the land is the "primary occupation, because it is honest and just."[20] Moreover, gaining wealth from agricultural work is justified, inasmuch as it is natural: "car a toutes choses leur nourrissement est et vient naturelement de leur mere. Et pour ce donques vient nourrisement a homme de la terre" (for the sustenance of all things is naturally derived from their mother. And therefore man receives his sustenance from the earth).[21] In his gloss following this passage, Oresme cites Virgil, Ovid, and Ecclesiasticus to explain the equation of the earth with the mother who provides nourishment for her children: "Et donques, aussi comme l'enfant est nourri du lait de sa mere, nature humaine est nourrie des fruis de la terre et est chose naturele" (Therefore, just as the child is nourished on its mother's milk, so mankind is nourished by the earth and this is a natural thing).[22]

The Yconomique then proceeds to enumerate the moral benefits of cultivating the land. As in the discussions of Book VI of the Politiques , outdoor life is seen to be healthful, promoting fortitude and the ability to withstand one's enemies. Oresme's glosses on these passages present a positive view of rural pursuits in


which he discusses the proper types of nutrition and exercise. Although Oresme refers to the arguments in Book VI that cultivators of the land are "moins machinatifs, moins convoiteus, moins ambitieus et plus obeissans que quelconque autre multitude populaire" (less scheming, less ambitious, less envious, and more obedient than any other segment of the populace), he stresses (again referring to Virgil) a highly positive view of this way of life: "Et donques raisonnablement ceste cure ou acquisition est la premiere; car elle est juste, elle est naturele, elle dispose a bien" (Thus this occupation or means of acquiring wealth stands first, for it is honorable, natural, and it disposes men toward the good).[23]

The presentation of the relationship between the units of the household in Figures 80 and 81 also conforms to Aristotle's exposition of their economic and familial roles. The gendered division of labor within the household is a major point. In the context of the marriage relationship discussed in Chapter 3, Oresme's text states:

Et afin que l'en quere et prepare les choses qui sunt dehors le hostel, ce est le mari; et que l'autre salve et garde celles qui sunt dedens. Et convient que l'un, ce est le mari, soit puissant, fort et robuste a operation; et l'autre est fieble as negoces dehors. Et le homme est piere ou moins disposé a repos et melleur ou miex disposé a mouvemens ou a plus fors labours.

(And in order that the husband may prepare and look after the outdoor work of the homestead while the wife attends to and watches over the indoor work. And the husband must be strong, capable and robust for physical work while the wife is less able to perform outdoor tasks. And the husband is less given to repose and is more disposed to action or to the heavier occupations.)[24]

This division of labor is clearly marked in the miniature between the scene of the plowing undertaken by the male farmer and servant outdoors and the wife spinning within the cottage. Taking place simultaneously, the woman's second occupation, suckling a child, alludes to another aspect of the economic/familial relationship: the procreative function of marriage. Oresme's text says: "Et des filz la generation est propre et le utilité est commune" (The production of children is the proper task of husband and wife and the benefits are common to both the parents and the offspring alike).[25] Oresme stresses that children exist "for the sake of unity or profit."[26]

Figures 80 and 81 also express another important element of the economic/familial relationship. Oresme takes up the point that the individual units of the household work together in a cooperative manner to assure its common welfare: "Item, en communication de masle et de femelle generalement apparoissent plus les aides que il funt l'un a l'autre et les cooperations que il funt et oevrent ensemble" (When man and woman live together one observes how frequently they assist each other and cooperate and work together).[27] The collaborative nature of


the labor and marriage relationship is more clearly evident in Figure 80. Here the outdoor and indoor units are placed on the same plane and are connected by the figure of the servant that overlaps the two divisions. The door that leads inward to the cottage links it to the larger opening in which the figures of the mother and child are represented. In Figure 81, however, the outdoor labor dominates the front plane of the scene. The focus shifts to the action of plowing and the servant's importance as an essential and independently defined agent. In contrast, the cottage takes a secondary role in respect to scale and separation from the main action.

A related feature is the change in Figure 81 of the representation of the mother and child. In Figure 80 the carefully delineated movement of the mother's extended right arm and the precise representation of her distaff and spindle emphasize her labor. The direction of her gaze suggests her absorption in her work. The blue of her robe picks up the same tonality in the short jacket of her husband, on the left, and links them across the intervening field. Supported on her lap, her child is depicted as a separate, three-dimensional form naturalistically represented and emphasized by its vivid red robe. The use of red relates him to the father, who wears a cape of this color. Facing the mother, the child's sturdy body is clearly visible, as he or she reaches toward her with outstretched hands. The miniaturist thus picks out and unites the principal members of the household. In Figure 81, however, consistent with the compression of the cottage scene, common grisaille modeling does not differentiate between mother and child, with a consequent loss of their separate identities. In its swaddling clothes the child takes on a gnomelike appearance. While the mother still wields a spindle, her economic activity is subordinate to her maternal function, as she grasps the child with her left hand and looks anxiously in the direction of her husband.

The motives for these revisions are not clear. In all but one example, the illustration of Book II, the revised program of D expands the format—if not the content—of the comparable illustration in B . The effect here reduces the importance of the female unit of the household and expands the male's. No other compositional unit can share the front plane with the diagonal path. It is possible, however, that dissatisfaction arose over the programmatic equality of each unit of the household, and this may have occasioned the switch to the diagonal model.

Oresme's Interpretation of the Marriage Relationship

The treatment of the differentiated female and male roles in Figure 80 may have some connection with Oresme's innovative glosses in Book I on marriage and familial relations. Although the chillingly patriarchal tone of the Economics remains intact in Oresme's text, some scholars consider that in the glosses he makes a contribution to the companionate concept of marriage. The theme of the third chapter of Book I of the Yconomique is "the relationship of husband and wife."[28] The chapter begins with the statement that the first responsibility of every husband is to his wife. Oresme's gloss gives the reason for this argument:


Car apres le seigneur, la femme est la premiere comme compaigne. Secundement sunt les enfans et tiercement les serfs et les possessions. Apres il declaire que ceste cure doit estre premiere pour .vi. conditions qui sunt en communication nupcial de homme a femme plus que en autre communication domestique; car elle est naturele, raisonnable, amiable, profectable, divine et convenable.

(Because next to the master, the wife as his companion holds first place. The children come second and the slaves and possessions third. He next points out that this concern should be primary because of six conditions which exist in the relationship of husband to wife more than in any other domestic relationship: (1) because it is natural, (2) rational, (3) amiable, (4) profitable, (5) divine, and (6) in keeping with social conventions.)[29]

Oresme's text and gloss argue that the marriage relationship is natural because living together is necessary for sexual reproduction. But such a union is "also the fruit of reason and deliberation, and therefore it is even more natural (plus naturele ) than among the beasts."[30] Oresme goes on in the gloss to speak of love between young people as a matter of choice and joy:

Mes il avient souvent que .ii. jennes gens, homme et femme, aiment l'un l'autre en especial par election et plaisance de cuer et de amour qui est oveques usage de raison, combien que aucune fois elle ne soit pas selon droite raison.

(But it often happens that two young people, man and woman, love each other by special choice from a feeling of joy in their hearts, with a love that is accompanied by reason, even though it may sometimes happen to be without correct reason.)[31]

Oresme says that even if this love is "chaste and prepares for marriage or exists in marriage and if there is sin in it, it is a human sin."[32] In the context of the previously cited passage that man and woman live together in mutual assistance, Oresme praises the marriage relationship in terms of Aristotle's discussion in the Ethiques (Book VIII, Chapter 17). Oresme's gloss characterizes this relationship as follows: "Car elle a en soi bien utile et bien delectable et bien de vertu et double delectation; ce est assavoir, charnele et vertueuse ou sensitive et intellective" (For this friendship comprises at once the good of usefulness, the good of pleasure, and the good of virtue and double enjoyment—that is, both the carnal and the virtuous or the sensual and the intellectual pleasures).[33] The gloss says further that the sexual relationship among human beings was designed to bring about closer bonds between husband and wife. Oresme extensively quotes scriptural sources ending with Genesis to reach the conclusion that man and wife are "two persons in a single skin."[34]

In Chapter 4 Oresme's text follows Aristotle's in prescribing the rules the husband must lay down for his wife to follow. Again, although the context of the


discussion is consistently patriarchal, Oresme makes a genuine contribution to humane concepts of the marriage relationship. Not only does he speak of the husband's consideration of the wife in their sexual relationship, but he also states that he should fulfill her sexual desires. Oresme also elaborates on an ancient theme drawn from Hesiod that the husband should be older than the wife so that he can better mold her habits and preferences.[35]

Although it is impossible to draw exact parallels between Oresme's commentaries and Figures 80 and 81, certain resemblances exist. First, as mentioned earlier, the miniatures suggest the cooperative notion of marriage in the complementary labors conducted for the common good of the household. The visual structures of the illustrations also encourage the idea of the wife as companion and partner. Figure 80 may also refer to the desired age difference between husband and wife, as the former is depicted as a bald, bearded man whose appearance contrasts with that of the noticeably younger servant. It is, however, not so easy to guess the age of the wife, as she wears the concealing wimple headdress familiar from the Ethiques cycle. In short, the visual structure of the illustrations brings out in a general way Oresme's innovative comments on the marriage relationship in Book I of the Yconomique . Moreover, the sympathetic character of Oresme's remarks on marriage may have appealed to Charles V, whose relationship with Jeanne de Bourbon is known to have been an exceptionally happy one.[36] Oral explication of the companionate aspects of friendship in marriage could well have received a sympathetic hearing during the dinnertime readings mentioned by Christine de Pizan.

Social and Political Implications of the Family Unit

The similarity of Figures 80 and 81 to the miniatures of Book VI of the Politiques (Figs. 70 and 71) may have caused the text's primary readers to relate them visually and conceptually. Several themes tie them together. The first is the favorable portrayal of agricultural life. Although Oresme does not neglect to mention in a gloss the political malleability of the cultiveurs de terres , in the Yconomique this theme is less prominent than in Book VI of the Politiques . Yet common to both Figures 80 and 81 and the Bonne democracie miniatures is the impression of the social stability of the rural class.

Oresme's choice of the rural agricultural economic and family unit for visual representation derives from the text quoted above. Yet the choice of this class as an image of the household is by no means inevitable. For example, an illuminated manuscript of Oresme's translation of the Yconomique dating from 1380 to 1390 (Fig. 82) chooses a bourgeois, or nonrural, household. It seems likely, therefore, as in the Bonne democracie miniatures, that Oresme's selection of a rural family unit in some way expresses his personal and political predilection for this class.

The gendered division of labor in Figures 80 and 81 deserves further comment. As the text's citation of Hesiod indicates, the patriarchal economic and familial unit is an ancient tradition. Because of the respective labors of Adam and Eve, the


Figure 82
Household and Family. Le yconomique d'Aristote,  Paris, Bibl. Nat.

clear differentiation between the masculine and feminine spheres is also sanctioned in Christian texts. Also traditional is the assignment to the male and dominant authority of an expansive exterior space, and the confinement of the female's labor to the interior. Whereas the text does not specifically mention spinning as a prescribed activity of the wife, it is an ancient stereotypical metaphor of women's labor and character, in both negative and positive senses.[37] Thus, the wife spinning in Figures 80 and 81 stands for her industrious and virtuous character, while the drollery of Figure 80 seems to comment on the insidious, devious character of women as weavers of tissues of deception. Noteworthy, too, is the conflation of labor with the traditional figure of woman as synonymous with the earth, nature, and nurture. Although the female role in the household is confined and limited to the private sphere in Figures 80 and 81, she presides over it as her unchallenged domain.[38] In short, the visual definitions reinforce the textual claim that the basic unit of the agricultural and familial unit conforms to a natural order. Harmonious relationships generically defined by class and gender assure the paradigms and models of a seemingly unchanging social and political stability.


The Marriage Ceremony (Book II, Yconomique )

Formal and Decorative Relationships

The illustrations for Book II of the Yconomique (Figs. 83 and 84) conclude the cycles of B and D . Compared to the miniatures of Book I of this text (Figs. 80 and 81), the program appears quite summary and routine. Even though the modern reader may find that the text of the Yconomique offers fascinating insights into both Aristotle's and Oresme's views on the institution of marriage, Oresme himself may have thought that the contents of Book II did not address the vital political interests of his primary readers. If Oresme felt this way, it could explain why the depiction of a wedding ceremony in Figures 83 and 84 provides such an extremely reductive version of the ideas expressed in the text. Indeed, the paradigmatic mode is that of neither a general model nor an example but that of a symbolic abbreviation. In this respect, the illustrations of Book II of the Yconomique recall those of Books II and, to a lesser extent, those of Book VIII of the Politiques (Figs. 55–57, 77, and 78). The common feature is a disjunction between complex textual development and radically simplified visual translations.

Figures 83 and 84 were again executed by the workshop of the Master of the Coronation Book of Charles V. Unlike Figure 80 in Book I, however, the hand of the master is not visible in these illustrations. Their composition depends on the scene of Charles V entering Reims cathedral from his Coronation Book (Fig. 85).[1] The most striking similarity is the representation of the church. Although far more simplified in Figure 83, the depiction in Figure 84 of the three bays and flying buttresses is quite close to those in the model. The motif of the priest standing at the main portal of the church derives from the reception of the king by the archbishop of Reims. It appears that a drawing in a model book was available for the use of members of the atelier, as is true of the miniatures of Book I.[2] It is obvious that Figure 83 is far smaller than Figure 84. This miniature is restricted to the width of the second column of the text, at the top of which it stands. Figure 83 is the first illustration in the Politiques and Yconomique program of B to share the column format and small dimensions after the prefatory miniatures of Oresme writing his translation (Fig. 44) and the dedication portrait (Fig. 45). These latter two examples precede the text proper of the Politiques . It is, therefore, correct to assume that Figure 83 occupies the lowest place in the hierarchy of importance among the text illustrations of this manuscript.


Figure 83
A  Marriage Ceremony. Le yconomique d'Aristote,  MS  B.

The decorative structure of the folio of which Figure 83 is a part also reflects the lesser importance of the illustration. The ivy-leaf motif is confined to the miniature: the foliate borders in the margins of other illustrations from this manuscript are lacking. Also missing are rubrics to announce the introductory paragraph above which Figure 83 stands. The four-line foliate initial C of the opening word of this paragraph is also smaller than usual.

Figure 84, however, achieves greater prominence. As previous analysis has shown, the reformatting of D called for a regularity in the shapes of the illustrations. Thus, Figure 84 is a rectangle that occupies the width of the entire text block and achieves frontispiece status. This image—like the preceding illustration for Book I of the Yconomique —is somewhat smaller than the miniatures of the Politiques in the same manuscript. The decorative character of folio 375, where Figure 84 stands, is far more elaborate than that of Figure 83. Furthermore, the painted frame of Figure 84 establishes the miniature as a separate design element. In short, the revised format of D cedes to Figure 84 an importance that was lacking in Figure 83.


Figure 84
A Marriage Ceremony. Le yconomique d'Aristote,  MS  D.


Figure 85
The Reception of Charles V at the West Portal of Reims Cathedral.
Coronation Book of Charles V.

Figures 83 and 84 retain the distinctive uses of color noted in the previous miniatures of the two manuscripts. The bride in the center, who wears a rose robe, is flanked by a male figure (possibly her father) and the groom, both of whom wear light blue mantles. A partially seen figure on the left repeats the rose of the bride's dress, which contrasts with a red hood. The priest in the center stands out in his white robes and gold stole from these brightly colored figures on the left and the monochrome gray tones of the church on the right. In Figure 84, the color of the roof and body of the church echo those of Figure 83. A larger company than the five people in Figure 83, the group in Figure 84 is delineated in grisaille with rose washes. In both cases the application of gold picks out the decorations of the bride's dress and the jeweled circlets in the couples' hair. The spiraling foliate motif of the blue-and-gold background of Figure 83 presents a more active, if more limited, contrast to the figures than the more extensive rust-and-gold geometric background of Figure 84.


Text-image Relationships

The lack of inscriptions in Figures 83 and 84 repeats the example set by the illustrations of Book I of the Yconomique . The consequent abandonment of the miniature's lexical function probably reflects Oresme's assumption of the readers' familiarity with the subject of marriage. The indexical, summary character of the illustration supports this suggestion. On another level, the choice of a wedding ceremony as standing for the whole of the marriage relationship may also reflect the common rhetorical figure of synecdoche. The summary paragraph below the illustration echoes the cursory nature of the miniature: "Cy commence le secunt livre de Yconomique , ouquel il determine en especial et plus complectement de communication nuptial ou de mariage. Et contient .viii. chapitles" (Here begins the second book of Economics , in which he considers particularly and more fully married life or marriage. And it contains eight chapters).[3]

One reason that Oresme may have chosen the wedding ceremony to introduce the subject of marriage is that Aristotle discussed it in both the Ethics and the Politics , as well as in the previous book of the Economics . Thus, there is a preexistent textual link that might bring the reader to associate previous knowledge of the subject in these works with the forthcoming expansion of the theme in Book II of the Yconomique . In his commentaries on Book I of this text, Oresme refers to relevant passages in Books I and VII of the Politiques and Book VIII of the Ethiques .[4] Indeed, marriage as one of Aristotle's three types of relationships among people of unequal rank is depicted by the bride and groom in Figure 38, the illustration of Book VIII in C .[5] Oresme may have intended or hoped that the repetition of the motif of the bride and groom would constitute a visual and textual association with Aristotle's previous discussion of marriage in the Ethics .

By choosing a wedding ceremony Oresme may also have wanted to signal an aspect of the institution of marriage apart from its ethical, political, and economic implications. As a means of updating Aristotle's exploration of the theme, Oresme introduces the Christian view of marriage as an institution ordained by God. In the context of how the wife should conduct herself (Book II, Chapter 2), the text speaks of the procreative function of marriage as something that could not "be greater or more holy."[6] Oresme's gloss on the passage elaborates this point: "car societé de mariage, qui est pour procreation d'enfans et pour mutuel aide, est chose saincte et divine" (For the marriage relationship, which is for the procreation of children and for mutual help, is a holy and divine thing).[7]

Even more clearly than in Book I of the Yconomique Oresme glosses the idea of marriage as a "divine partnership."[8] The translator's assimilation of Aristotelian and Christian notions of marriage is quite clear:

Et meismement en nature humaine, de laquelle Dieu a especial solicitude et cure. Et donques selon le Philosophe, mariage est de divine ordenance et se acorde a ce que dit Nostre Salveur, que Dieu fist ceste conjunction: Quod ergo Deus conjunxit, etc. Et aussi il fu né en mariage et fu present as noces la ou il fist le commence-


ment de ses signes par un gracieus et joyeus miracle en muant l'eaue en bon vin. Et par ce il approva mariage comme chose saincte, laquele Dieu beneÿ des la premiere creation: Masculum et feminam creavit eos et benedixit illis. Et est mariage un sacrement et donques est ce chose divine. Apres il met comment ce est convenable chose.

(And this accords with human nature, for which God has a special solicitude and attention. Thus according to Aristotle, marriage is divinely ordained and he agrees with the statement of our Saviour that God made this union: 'What therefore God hath joined together, etc.' [Matt. 19:6]. And our Saviour also was born from wedlock, and He was present at the wedding ceremony where He first demonstrated his powers by a gracious and joyous miracle, changing water into wine. In this manner He gave approval to marriage as a holy thing, which God blessed from the beginning of creation: 'Male and female created He them and He blessed them' [Gen. 1:27]. And marriage is a sacrament and is therefore a divine rite. He next indicates how this is a felicitous thing.)[9]

Oresme may have chosen the scene of the wedding in front of the church to emphasize marriage as a sacrament. He may have done this not so much from theological conviction but as a means of updating and concretizing the wedding ceremony as an intelligible shorthand or synecdoche for marriage.

Visual Structures

Although both miniatures belong to the single register type, the visual structures of Figures 83 and 84 are related to two distinct types of illustrations in the cycles. As was noted above, Figure 83 belongs to the single-column quadrilobe type represented by the portrait of Oresme writing (Fig. 44) and the dedication portrait of Oresme presenting the book to Charles V (Fig. 45). This is not to say that the use of quadrilobes was limited in the programs of both B and D to text-column illustrations. The quadrilobes were favored by the Master of the Coronation of Charles VI for the programs of Books II, III, and VIII of the Politiques (Figs. 55–56, 60, and 77). For this text, the workshop of the Master of the Coronation Book of Charles V repeated the same type of enframement as was used for the miniatures of Books II and III (Figs. 57 and 61). In all these illustrations, however, the quadrilobes are divorced from the column as individual units of an ensemble. Despite variations among them, the design of the quadrilobe units seems to focus on a single event or person in a series related to sequence in the text. As an index of its lesser textual value, Figure 83 stands apart from this practice and instead belongs to the prefatory quadrilobes devoted to portraits of the translator and patron.

By contrast, the visual structure of Figure 84 relates more clearly to the illustrations of Book VI of the Politiques (Figs. 70 and 71) and of Book I of the Yconomique


(Figs. 80 and 81). Although the rectangular shape and larger size of the former distinguish it from the Yconomique miniatures, both types share the representation of agricultural work carried out by farmers and peasants in an exterior landscape setting. Furthermore, the other two scenes also share another characteristic: several activities take place at the same time. Thus, Figure 84 is anomalous in respect to the social class represented, the type of setting, and the focus on a single event. These changes probably occurred because of the reformatting of the manuscript. Yet it is also significant that as a result of these physical revisions, the ritualistic character of the scene achieves greater prominence.

The Representation of the Wedding Ceremony

The ceremony in front of a church marked the second step in the medieval marriage ceremony. The first was "a betrothal in which one made a marriage promise for the future (sponsalia de futuro ) and the actual wedding itself (sponsalia de praesenti )."[10] The betrothal, which guaranteed arrangements for the transfer of property, was legally binding, as it was based on the mutual consent of the couple. At the church door, the bride and groom expressed their desire to wed and administered the sacrament to one another. The priest's role was that of a witness. Following the ceremony at the church door, the couple entered the building to participate in a nuptial mass.[11]

The ceremony depicted in Figures 83 and 84 obviously corresponds to the second step, the marriage ceremony in facie ecclesiae . In both scenes the groom stands next to the priest and closer to the church door; the leafy spiral of the background in Figure 83 makes clear the separation of bride and groom. The groom places his right hand on his heart in a gesture that may signify a pledge of devotion to the bride, who is not so independent as her intended mate. In both scenes the figure at her left, probably her father, places his hand on her arm, perhaps an allusion to the fact that she leaves the paternal house and protection for that of her husband. The bride in Figure 83 seems to shrink backward in a modest way, as though she is somewhat fearful of the fateful step she undertakes. Her counterpart in Figure 84 appears, however, more forthcoming and removed from her father's protection. This bride is accompanied by a more numerous retinue than that attending her counterpart in Figure 83. Clad in white in both miniatures, the priest holds in his left hand an open book. The book may refer to the appropriate blessings contained in a pontifical or missal or to pledges made by the couple.[12] The lighted taper that the priest holds in his right hand in Figure 83 gives way in Figure 84 to the instrument for asperging the couple with holy water.

Several details of the costume of the bridal couple are worth noting. Following the fashion of the period, the bride wears a low-cut dress decorated with three jewels.[13] In Figure 83 she wears the aumonière , a purse suspended from a belt. This accessory may allude to the marriage custom of offering arrhes , a symbolic gift of coins or jewels relating to the bride's dowry.[14] Both bride and groom wear gold circlets on their heads, possibly suggesting wedding crowns.[15] Several fourteenth-


Figure 86
A Husband Instructs His Wife. Le yconomique d'Aristote,  Paris,
Bibl. Nat

century illustrated manuscripts of Gratian's Decretals depict the bride and groom wearing either crowns or circlets in scenes of the wedding banquet following the nuptial mass.[16] Although such circlets were associated with grand attire worn by the aristocracy, such items may have been worn by other classes and were customary for such a festive occasion.[17] In short, the design and details of Figures 83 and 84 may accord with Oresme's intention of encouraging his readers' association of a contemporary wedding ceremony with the discussion of the social and religious institution of marriage in the Yconomique .

Although the text of Book II of the Yconomique continues the patriarchal attitude of Book I, Figures 83 and 84 do not reveal this perspective. As in the illustration of Book VIII of the Ethiques (Fig. 38), the bride and groom are represented


as equals. It is significant that a different passage from Book II was chosen as the subject of the illustration for a slightly later illustrated manuscript of the Yconomique (Fig. 86). Chapter 1 lists six rules by which the wife runs the household under her husband's guidance, while later chapters lay out her obligations to behave properly.[18] Figure 86 represents a husband instructing the wife with a commanding gesture of his right hand. The scene takes place in an arcaded porch or interior of a house. His standing figure occupies one bay; those of his wife and child, the second. She is seated grasping a chubby child, whose expression and clinging gesture indicate alarm about paternal admonitions. The husband's domination is clear from his commanding gesture and standing posture. The wife's submission is equally evident from her seated position and the inclination of her head. Her modest dress also accords with the desired deportment of the chaste and virtuous wife set forth in the text. Also significant is that, as in the illustration of Book I of the Yconomique from this manuscript discussed above (Fig. 82), the husband's costume and the domestic setting indicate the depiction of a middle- or upper-class household. Thus Figures 82 and 86 prefigure the future popularity of the Economics in both vernacular and Latin forms as an authoritative conduct book for regulating family life.[19]

While Oresme's text maintains the patriarchal point of view of the Latin medieval translations, certain of his glosses, such as those in Chapters 4 and 5 of Book II, emphasize the humane character of the husband's treatment of his wife.[20] Although Figures 83 and 84 do not refer to such text passages, they represent a moment of equality in the relationship symbolized by the wedding ceremony. In this way Oresme may have chosen to insert unobtrusively his own progressive views on the companionate nature of marriage. As noted in the previous chapter, in any oral explication of the text by Oresme such ideas could have appealed to and alluded to Charles V and Jeanne de Bourbon as exemplars of the partners in a harmonious marital relationship.


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