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Chapter Two— Manuscripts Produced during the Reigns of the Last Direct Capetians
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Chapter Two—
Manuscripts Produced during the Reigns of the Last Direct Capetians

Manuscripts of the Grandes Chroniques produced during the reigns of the last Capetians are simpler in conception than is Philip III's book. Few have the precise didactic frame, the combination of prefatory prologue and poetic colophon, that Philip III's book has, and those that share Philip III's textual frame do not share its complex program of decoration.[1] Controlled, self-conscious versions of the chronicle such as Philip III's were in the minority in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. Pictures in most manuscripts from this era share only the simplest aspects of Philip III's program of decoration.

Parisian libraires working for members of the nobility supervised the production of the majority of surviving copies of the Grandes Chroniques from this period.[2] Perhaps as a result, cycles of decoration in these manuscripts do not seem to focus on exempla in the same way that the illustrations in the manuscript of Philip III do. Indeed, it is difficult to determine whether the pictures in many of these books were intended to shape a reading of the text. It is unclear whether the events highlighted by pictures were important to a specific patron, whether they were selected for him, or whether they were prepackaged by the editor before a patron arrived. Yet there are ways of coming to grips with the cycles in these manuscripts. Once the late Capetian manuscripts have been examined carefully, certain books reveal affinities with courtly and royal programs from the reign of Philip IV.

Genealogical Manuscripts

Libraires producing many of the Grandes Chroniques for the court adapted their illustrations to portray one of the many themes that shaped Philip III's manuscript: dynastic continuity. Taking their lead from the passage in the prologue that describes the "long succession" of French kings, they represent a royal genealogy that concentrates on succession to office rather than heredity.[3]

Two chronicles from the early fourteenth century (Cambrai, B.M. 682; B.N. fr. 2615) reveal the shape that such genealogical programs took. Although the provenance of these manuscripts is uncertain, textual and pictorial evidence links


Figure 16
Clovis. Grandes Chroniques de France . Cambrai, Bibliothèque
Municipale, Ms. 682, fol. 19.
Photograph: Bibliothèque Municipale de Cambrai.

them to a courtly milieu. The chronicle in Cambrai includes the French and Latin dedication poems that appear in Philip III's Grandes Chroniques and in three later manuscripts, one of which belonged to Charles V. These textual features may indicate a royal recension of the text and suggest at the very least that the book was made for a person close to the king.[4] Artistic evidence places the second manuscript (B.N. fr. 2615) in a Parisian milieu.[5] Pictures in this chronicle relate stylistically to those by a group of artists who decorated books for the king and members of the nobility. On the basis of style, Avril dates the Grandes Chroniques in Paris to 1315–20, an attribution that is supported by a textual interpolation that provides a terminus post quem of 1315.[6]

In planning illustrations for these manuscripts, the libraires took their cue from the portion of the prologue that describes the genealogy of the French kings. The pictures repeat basic patterns, emphasizing enthroned rulers in the chronicle in Cambrai and coronations in the manuscript in Paris. The cycle from the Cambrai manuscript is the simpler. Its historiated initials, which mark normal divisions in the text, contain enthroned kings holding either swords or scepters, as for instance in the picture of Clovis (Fig. 16). The only deviation from the pattern occurs at the beginning of the third book of the life of Charlemagne (Fig. 17), where an emperor holds an orb and a scepter to commemorate Charlemagne's imperial coronation.

The cycle decorating the Paris manuscript is structured on the same principle but executed with greater sophistication. Coronations of almost every ruler of


France illustrate this book.[7] Their placement breaks down the customary structure of the text, which is normally divided into books subdivided into chapters. In this manuscript reigns of kings form textual units, and as a result the density of illustration varies radically. For instance, illustrations of the coronations of Louis III, Odo Capet, and Charles the Simple (fols. 140–141) break what normally constitutes the seventh chapter of the life of Louis the Stammerer into three segments. In other parts of the manuscript many folios separate miniatures. Thus the sequential miniatures illustrating the coronation of Louis the Pious as co-emperor by Charlemagne (fol. 90v) and the coronation of Louis the Pious as emperor (fol. 115) are 25 folios apart.

The iconography of the Paris book's cycle of illustration was carefully coordinated before the gatherings were given out to at least nine different artists.[8] Each scene incorporates details drawn from its text. Thus when the Grandes Chroniques lists three of the king's brothers attending his coronation, the miniature includes them.[9] The designer of the manuscript even elaborated the text on occasion by using elements drawn from conventions of representation to identify characters. For instance, the attributes used to distinguish Charles Martel (a large gold hat) and Pepin the Short (a lion under his feet) in the illustration of Charles Martel dividing his realm between Pepin and Carloman (Fig. 18) also appear in subsequent miniatures.[10] In the next folio Pepin is easily identified by his lion in the illustration of the coronation by Pope Stephen (Fig. 19).

These extratextual iconographic details occasionally promote the theme of dynastic continuity. Thus Pepin's and Charles Martel's costumes are used for their

Figure 17
Charlemagne.  Grandes Chroniques de France .
Cambrai, Bibliothèque Municipale, Ms. 682, fol.
Photograph: Bibliothèque Municipale de Cambrai.


Figure 18
Charles Martel divides the realm between Pepin and Carloman.
Grandes Chroniques de France . Bibliothèque Nationale, Ms. fr.
2615, fol. 72. Photograph: Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.

Figure 19
Coronation of Pepin by Pope Stephen II.  Grandes Chroniques de
. Bibliothèque Nationale, Ms. fr. 2615, fol. 72v.
Photograph: Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.


descendants. When Charlemagne supervises the pope's coronation of his two sons, Pepin and Louis (Fig. 20), Charlemagne and Pepin dress like their namesakes. Charlemagne wears the gold hat of Charles Martel, and Pepin has a lion like Pepin the Short's at his feet.

Although scenes from the Paris Grandes Chroniques incorporate specific details drawn from the text, they are essentially nonnarrative, like the miniatures in the Cambrai manuscript. Both cycles are fundamentally different from that in Philip III's Grandes Chroniques . The repetition of enthroned kings or of ceremonies of coronation in these manuscripts focuses attention on the line of kings who governed France rather than on the exploits of certain rulers who were special models for kingship.

Such genealogical programs have parallels in secular and Dionysian commissions from the reigns of Philip the Bold, Philip the Fair, and his sons. These, like B.N. fr. 2615 and Cambrai, B.M. 682, also reject the reditus as a structuring principle for representations of dynastic kingship. The series of montjoies , or markers, erected on the road between Paris and Saint-Denis was an early and public example of such a dynastic program.[11] In place from the late thirteenth century, these monuments were identical in type: each was topped by a cross and decorated by fleurs-de-lis, and each contained three niches filled with generalized representations of French kings who varied in pose from one monument to the other. The cumulative effect of these monuments emphasized the length and strength of the French line. On a trip from Paris to Saint-Denis a traveler would have seen 21 to 27 kings.[12]

Figure 20
Charlemagne supervises coronation of Pepin and Louis.  Grandes
Chroniques de France
. Bibliothèque Nationale, Ms. fr. 2615, fol. 79v.
Photograph: Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.


Royal commissions for Philip the Fair placed equal emphasis on his descent. The most notable courtly commission of this sort was the decoration of the Grande Salle of the Palais de la Cité under Philip IV. There a series of labeled polychromed statues portrayed French kings from Pharamond to Philip himself.[13] Contemporary descriptions make clear that these were perceived as commemorations of the office of king. In the 1320s Jean de Jandun described the statues in terms of succession to office: "For the honor of their glorious memory, the statues of all the kings of France who occupied the throne up to the present are gathered in this place. Their likeness is so expressive that at first glimpse one would believe they were alive."[14]

Philip IV's commissions at Saint-Denis also concentrated on royal succession rather than the sequence of dynasties or the reditus . In 1306 Philip IV ordered the tombs at Saint-Denis rearranged to move his and his parents' tombs to the Carolingian side of the choir. This change merged the division of ruling houses that had been so carefully established in the 1260s.[15] Although some scholars interpret the rearrangement as an attempt to place Philip III's and Philip IV's tombs close to that of their holy ancestor, Louis IX, it also blended the lines so that the overwhelming impression on a visitor to the abbey would be comparable to that of Jean de Jandun when he faced the sculpture of the Grande Salle of the Palais de la Cité.

Royal taste for the emphasis on the long line of kings eventually affected Dionysian commissions. During the reigns of Philip IV and his sons even the monks of Saint-Denis abandoned the reditus as a means of structuring royal succession. A telling example is the third portion of Ivo of Saint-Denis's Vita et Passio (B.N. lat. 13836), part of a manuscript commissioned by Philip IV but presented to Philip V c. 1319.[16] This book merged the histories of France and Saint-Denis by appending at the end of Saint Denis's vita a historical compilation decorated by pictures of enthroned kings woven into a genealogical framework that is much more explicit than that of any contemporary copy of the Grandes Chroniques .

Marginal notes in a 1330s version of the Vita et Passio preserved at the abbey of Saint-Denis (B.N. lat. 5286) contribute to a reconstitution of the pictorial program in the manuscript presented to the king.[17] Several of these notes refer to images in the king's book that present special models of kingship in Charlemagne and Saint Louis or stress the importance of the French house.[18] One image in particular could have been included in the king's book only for dynastic reasons. At the end of the folio on which Hugh Capet's life is described in the later copy (B.N. lat. 5286) preserved at Saint-Denis, a cursive note describes a chart that diagrams Hugh Capet's descent from the Carolingians.[19] Although references to the chart occur in the monastery's copy, it was included only in the king's version (Fig. 21).[20] There it reinforces the Latin and French rubrics to the chapter, thus confirming Hugh Capet's legitimacy as a Carolingian.[21] The inclusion of this chart in the illustrations of the kings of France that decorate the royal book presents the reader with a pictorial genealogy of the kings of France that, like those of the Grande Salle's sculptures and contemporary genealogical Grandes Chroniques , runs unbroken from Troy to Philip V, but presents continuity of blood as well as of succession.


Figure 21
Genealogical tree for Hugh Capet. Ivo of Saint-Denis,  Vita et Passio Sancti
. Bibliothèque Nationale, Ms. lat. 13836, fol. 78.
Photograph: Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.


Independent Traditions:
A Parisian Bookseller's Chronicle

One manuscript of the Grandes Chroniques (B.N. fr. 10132), probably finished in the 1320s and continued again in the mid-fourteenth century, illustrates the extent to which available models affected the form of cycles. This book was commissioned from Thomas of Maubeuge, a noted Parisian libraire , by Pierre Honnorez of Neufchâtel in Normandy.[22] Apparently Thomas based his manuscript on a copy of the Grandes Chroniques to 1223, which copies an exemplaire that seems to have circulated among Parisian booksellers until the early fifteenth century, and supplemented that text with Guillaume de Nangis's amplified chronicle for the lives of Louis VIII through Louis X.[23] To organize the text Thomas turned not to royal or courtly models of the Grandes Chroniques but to contemporary vernacular histories, specifically to the Abrégé de l'histoire de France by the Ménestrel of Alphonse of Poitiers, one of the texts whose prologue was adapted for the Grandes Chroniques .[24]

This copy of the Grandes Chroniques is the only one whose text follows the tripartite division outlined in the section of the prologue taken from the Ménestrel's chronicle and used to structure manuscripts of that text. Thomas of Maubeuge did as the derivative section of the Grandes Chroniques 's prologue mandates: he divided the history into three principal books that deal with the "generations" of Meroveus, Pepin, and Hugh Capet. To clarify the organization of the text further, Thomas provided a genealogically structured table of contents in the first gathering, which was added after the manuscript was completed through the life of Louis X. Besides listing certain important passages and noting the folios on which they appear, the chapter list explains how to use the text when it is divided into three: "And to know how to find the generation by the number, you will find in the first generation on each page the number .i., in the second .ii., and in the third .iii. And thus you will find the things which are there."[25] Within each of the subdivisions of the text proper the pagination begins anew.

The earliest manuscripts of the Abrégé de l'histoire de France , dating from the thirteenth century, append genealogical trees that function like Thomas's genealogically ordered chapter list.[26] These diagrams distinguish the Merovingians, Carolingians, and Capetians from one another so clearly that few other illustrations are needed.[27] As a result, the Abrégé provided few pictorial models for Thomas. The textual relationship between these books therefore makes the independence of Thomas's illustrations even more noteworthy. Indeed, they differ distinctly from the few illustrated manuscripts of the Abrégé and from the copies of the Grandes Chroniques produced under courtly or Dionysian patronage. In selecting his pictures, Thomas seems to have forged an independent cycle—one that may provide insights into nonroyal uses of history in the early fourteenth century.

Directions to the rubricator and illuminator preserved in B.N. fr. 10132[28] suggest that the genesis of this pictorial cycle was similar to that described for contemporary romances. In romances verbal guides written as directions to the illuminator often indicated the subjects for illuminations and explanatory captions in the form of rubrics often summarized the chapters and explained their miniatures.[29]


In B.N. fr. 10132 this practice was limited to material derived from the first of the two textual models used for the portion of this Grandes Chroniques finished in the 1320s.[30] Apparently Thomas used a fully rubricated copy of Guillaume de Nangis's amplified chronicle for the second portion of the manuscript describing events from 1223 to 1316, because that part has rubrics for every chapter and contains no marginal guides to the illuminator or rubricator. In contrast the Grandes Chroniques to 1223 that Thomas used as a source for the first portion of the book seems not to have been fully rubricated. Because original rubrics and notes to the illuminator survive in that part of the manuscript, the creative process involved in emphasizing selected texts and images is most evident there.

With the exception of the fourth book of the lives of the Merovingians, which has rubrics for each chapter, rubrication is scattered in the portion of Thomas's text based on the Grandes Chroniques . Not all illustrated chapters have rubrics, and not all rubricated chapters have illustrations. Nonetheless, selected cases in which a rare combination of directions to the illuminator and rubricator survives demonstrate how the libraire constructed the pictorial cycle.[31]

These marginal directions were first published by Berger and Durrieu, who described the positions of the notes to the rubricator in the lower or side margins and the notes to the illuminator in the lower margins.[32] They suggested that the notes were written by two separate hands: the first, the scribe of the text and rubric, wrote notes for the rubricator, and the second wrote notes for the illuminator in a more cursive hand. Berger and Durrieu concluded that Thomas of Maubeuge's Grandes Chroniques was created through the successive intervention of three people: the copyist, who was also the rubricator; the director of the illumination; and the illuminator.

Gilbert Ouy's suggestion that the two sets of directions were written by the same hand employing different styles of script presents a different vision of the creation of the book in which at any given time one person was responsible for copying the text, writing the notes dictating the content of rubrics and subjects for illumination, and rubricating the manuscript.[33] Certain inaccuracies in the pictorial cycle support his observation. For example, on folio 256 (Figs. 22 and 23) the directions to the illuminator follow the notes to the rubricator in the lower margin. First is the note for the rubric that celebrates King Robert's descent from Hugh Capet and his scholarly bent, and second is the note for the illumination that describes how, with plenty of soldiers, he besieges a city.[34] It seems likely that someone wrote the note to the illuminator after completing the note to the rubricator; for that person the "he" of the illuminator's note was clearly King Robert, who had just been mentioned by name in the rubricator's note. Robert's identity was not so clear to the artist, who apparently read only the notes written in the script used for directions about pictorial content. He painted a generic scene of knights approaching a castle, rather than a king leading a siege.[35] When directions to the rubricator and the illuminator were not juxtaposed on the same folio, the scribe knew that the artist would not have seen the note to the rubricator and was careful to specify in the direction to the artist the presence of "the king" or "the emperor." The artists followed these directions, thereby producing more accurate representations of the events described in the chapter than those produced on folios where directions to the illuminator immediately


Figure 22
Knights approach a castle.  Grandes Chroniques de France . Bibliothèque
Nationale, Ms. fr. 10132, fol. 256. Photograph: Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.


Figure 23
Notes to the illuminator and rubricator.  Grandes Chroniques de France . Bibliothèque Nationale,
Ms. fr. 10132, fol. 256. Photograph: Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.

Figure 24
Battle of Charles of Anjou and Manfred.
Grandes Chroniques de France .
Bibliothèque Nationale, Ms. fr. 10132, fol.
Photograph: Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.


followed directions to the rubricator. This occurs whether the directions to the rubricator and illuminator are on facing pages (fols. 219v–20 and 240v–41) or on the recto and verso of one folio (fols. 252–52v and 255–55v).

Most miniatures in Thomas's manuscript are essentially schematic compositions. The treatment of pictures showing battles exemplifies the way in which the artist who followed the marginal notes tailored these stock scenes to fit various situations. The battle of Manfred and Charles of Anjou (Fig. 24) represents the basic composition—a confrontation between a king and a knight on ground defined by hillocks made of black and white swirls. Artists could add details to this basic image. Extra knights and portions of dismembered bodies appear in the battle of Charles of Anjou against Conradin and Henry of Spain (Fig. 25); in a miniature painted by this artist in a later copy of the Grandes Chroniques (Castres, B.M.) trees fill in the representation of a preliminary skirmish before the battle of Bouvines (Fig. 26), and a complement of knights aid Philip Augustus in that battle (Fig. 27). Although none of the instructions for these specific pictures survive, it is quite likely that the directions given the artist for each of these miniatures specified the representation of a battle and that he adapted a stock scene to fill the need.[36]

The relation between the content of the illuminations and the rubrics that act as explanatory captions is revealing as well. When directions to the illuminator are present, pictures never depend exclusively on the rubric; in fact, in 17 of the 19 cases where directions to the illuminator survive, the rubric is very

Figure 25
Battle of Charles of Anjou against Conradin and Henry of Spain.
Grandes Chroniques de France . Bibliothèque Nationale, Ms. fr.
10132, fol. 372. Photograph: Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.


Figure 26
Battle of Bouvines.  Grandes Chroniques de France .
Castres, Bibliothèque Municipale, fol. 282v.
Photograph: Bibliothèque Municipale, Castres.

Figure 27
Capture of Ferrand.  Grandes Chroniques de
. Castres, Bibliothèque Municipale, fol. 285.
Photograph: Bibliothèque Municipale, Castres.


simple, introducing a book dedicated to the life of a king.[37] In the two cases where the rubrics are more elaborate, the pictures still follow the directions to the illuminator. However, when directions to the illuminator are absent, pictures often illustrate more elaborate rubrics that function as captions. The most obvious examples of this occur in a sequence of four rubrics in Books I–III, which provide such detailed descriptions that they could function as directions to the illuminator, although only three are illustrated in B.N. fr. 10132. These captions differ from those given in the chapter list and in such earlier copies of the chronicle as Ste.-Gen. 782. They seem to have been part of a text that circulated among Parisian libraires , because they resurfaced in a number of late fourteenth- and early fifteenth-century manuscripts of the Grandes Chroniques .[38]

Although most images in this Grandes Chroniques are composites assembled by the artist from stock compositions to illustrate written directions for "a battle," the cycle itself was carefully constructed. Indeed, the structure of this cycle of illustration differs distinctly from those that I have termed "royal" or "genealogical." The first two pictures in particular reinforce the preoccupation with dynasties exhibited in the tripartite division of text in this Grandes Chroniques . The first miniature depicts the destruction of and flight from Troy (Fig. 28). Its placement at the beginning of the prologue is rare, because the Trojan story forms part of the first chapter of Book I. A unique image derived from the iconography of the tree of Jesse (Fig. 29) displaced the Trojan image as an illustration for the first book of the chronicle. It shows a recumbent king from whom grows a tree bearing fruits that are crowned and uncrowned male heads.

The rubrics for these two pictures establish a relationship between them. A rubric under the illustration of the destruction of Troy is better suited to explain the tree: "Here begins a genealogy of the dukes who reigned before there was any king in France, and then, of the kings who reigned after them."[39] The image of the tree of descent shows the uncrowned heads (dukes) and crowned heads (kings) forming part of the same tree. Its rubric alludes to the destruction: "Here begins a genealogy of the kings of France and how they descended first from those who fled Troy."[40] The displacement of the Trojan scene to include the tree of descent at the beginning of Book I emphasizes the importance to this book of the length of the French line. This unique combination of text and image reflects the special concern with genealogy and succession outlined in the prologue of the Grandes Chroniques , a preoccupation reinforced by the introductory materials (fols. 1–6v) added to this manuscript to clarify its division into three parts.

The treatment of the reditus provides one of the most telling examples of how the perspective of Thomas of Maubeuge and Pierre of Neufchâtel, his patron, on the reading and picturing of history differed from that represented in the first version of the Grandes Chroniques .[41] In Philip III's Grandes Chroniques the reditus provides the underlying structural principle for the whole cycle. Pictures of Charlemagne and of Philip Augustus are of large scale, and textual references connect the two in a complex interrelationship. The expression of the reditus and the implications for French legitimacy of the return of government to descendants of Charlemagne were important to both the abbey of Saint-Denis and to Philip III.


Figure 28
Destruction of Troy.  Grandes Chroniques de France . Bibliothèque Nationale, Ms. fr.
10132, fol. 19. Photograph: Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.


Figure 29
Tree of descent.  Grandes Chroniques de France .
Bibliothèque Nationale, Ms. fr. 10132, fol. 20v.
Photograph: Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.

The reditus is not an important concept in the Grandes Chroniques directed by Thomas of Maubeuge. In this manuscript the life of Hugh Capet, in which the reditus is first mentioned, is illustrated by a rare scene of the marriage of Philip Augustus and Elizabeth of Hainaut (Fig. 30), the deed by which the reditus was accomplished. Because this image is unusual, a reader might interpret it as a deliberate visualization of a political prophecy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, this seemingly innovative picture was the easiest way to illustrate the text that follows it. As the first event described in the chapter to lend itself to visual formulation, the marriage of Philip and Elizabeth found its way into the list of directions to the illuminator, where it is described, "How the king marries a woman and several knights and many clergy are there."[42]

The text and image for the life of Louis VIII in the manuscript commissioned from Thomas of Maubeuge support this interpretation of the reditus miniature. The official life of Louis VIII preserved in contemporary manuscripts of the


Figure 30
Marriage of Philip Augustus and Elizabeth of
Hainaut. Grandes Chroniques de France .
Bibliothèque Nationale, Ms. fr. 10132, fol. 255v.
Photograph: Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.

Grandes Chroniques includes an extended celebration of the reditus .[43] The continuation employed by Thomas of Maubeuge in this Grandes Chroniques plays down the prophecy, and the illustration of the chapter ignores it, representing Louis VIII receiving a messenger.[44]

A consideration of pictures that depart from the traditional layout followed in this manuscript (in which a miniature begins each book of the chronicle) makes clear what themes attracted either Thomas of Maubeuge or Pierre of Neufchâtel. Nine pictures subdivide books in this copy of the Grandes Chroniques .[45] These reveal interest in such heroes of French history as Clovis, Dagobert, and Pepin and demonstrate a desire to document Charlemagne's acquisition of relics that, at the time of this manuscript's execution, were thought to be kept at Saint-Denis.

In summary, what is most important about Pierre of Neufchâtel's Grandes Chroniques is the insight it provides into popular cycles of the chronicle. Both the pictorial cycle and the textual organization of this manuscript are very different from contemporary Dionysian, royal, and courtly programs. Thomas of Maubeuge was the only editor to be faithful to the division of the texts outlined in the prologue of the Grandes Chroniques and to attempt in the first few illustrations of the program to reinforce the prologue's dynastic message. Both the organization of the text and the paired introductory miniatures in this copy of the chronicle concentrate on the succession of the three races of French kings. Although the


rest of the cycle is less innovative, it is nonetheless an important source for examining aspects of the history that interested the broader audience who bought manuscripts from libraires . This chronicle manifests less concern with questions of dynastic succession than preoccupation with traditional French heroes. Unlike many royal and courtly manuscripts of the Grandes Chroniques , which were tied closely to royal self-perception and to the changing political situation in France, such apolitical manuscripts as that commissioned from Thomas of Maubeuge retained their popularity through the reigns of the early Valois.[46]


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