Illuminating the Roman d'Alexandre: Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Bodley 264

October 2011
16 colour, 29 black and white illustrations
252 pages
24.4x17.2 cm
ISBN: 9781843842804
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
BISAC LIT004150, LIT011000, ART015070

Illuminating the Roman d'Alexandre: Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Bodley 264

The Manuscript as Monument

Mark Cruse

Survey of one of the most important surviving medieval manuscripts reveals much of its contemporary cultural, literary and social milieu.
Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Bodley 264 is one of the most famous and most sumptuous illuminated manuscripts of the entire Middle Ages. Completed in 1344 in Tournai, in what is now Belgium, the manuscript preserves the fullest version of the interpolated Old French Roman d'Alexandre (Romance of Alexander the Great), and some of the most vivid illustrations of any medieval romance, ranking amongst the greatest achievements of the illuminator's art, its borders in particular offering a panorama of medieval society and imagination. A celebration of courtliness, a commemoration of urban chivalry, a mirror for the prince instructing in the arts of rule, and a meditation on crusade, it manifests the extraordinary richness and creativity of late medieval manuscript culture.
This study examines the manuscript as a monumental expression of the beliefs and social practices of its day, placing it in its historical and artistic context; it also analyzes its later reception in England, where the addition of a Middle English Alexander poem and of Marco Polo's Voyages reflects changing concepts of language, historiography, and geography.

Mark Cruse is Assistant Professor of French, School of International Letters and Cultures, Arizona State University.

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Table of Contents

A Monument to Cortoisie
Urban Conquest and Spectacle
"Apraigne d'Alixandre": Illuminating Exemplarity in Bodley 264
Alexander, Crusade, and the East in Bodley 264
The Production, Patronage, and Later Reception of Bodley 264
Conclusion: Mirror in Pixels


Medievalists from all fields will find much to reflect upon in Cruse's explorations, and, as a whole, the book is grippingly engaging. MEDIUM AEVUM

This interesting work delivers an interdisciplinary approach of the motivation behind the Roman d'Alexandre's production, by offering a refreshing overview of its different purposes. By drawing upon a wide range of disciplines such as literature, art history, history and book history, Cruse achieves to appeal to a wide academic audience. It is beautifully illustrated by high quality reproductions of the manuscript's most fascinating pages, which adds to its appeal. CILIP - RARE BOOKS NEWSLETTER

[A] carefully researched and elegantly written book... [Cruse's] methods and balanced approach provide a model that could profitably be applied to the study of other illuminated manuscripts containing vernacular narratives. FRENCH STUDIES

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