Cerimonies et ordonnances

Cerimonies et ordonnances Facsimile Edition

France — 1460–1465

Rules for proud knights to make amends for their offenses: captivating scenes of duels and tournaments in magnificent 15th century floral frames

  1. Laws concerning dueling were written during the reign of King Philip IV of France (1268-1314)

  2. This manuscript was commissioned ca. 1460-65 by Duke Francis II of Brittany (1433-88)

  3. Twelve gorgeous miniatures illustrate scenes of two knights seeking redress in their quarrel

Cerimonies et ordonnances

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Cerimonies et ordonnances

This wonderfully illuminated manuscript from ca. 1460-65 contains a text from the late 12th or early 13th centuries concerning the laws of combat, dueling in particular, attributable to King Philip IV of France (1268-1314). A series of tournament scenes are presented in gorgeous frames of floral tendrils populated with birds, animals, people, and grotesques. The splendid manuscript was commissioned by Francis II (1433-88), the rich and powerful Duke of Brittany who was a major player in the politics of the mid- to late-15th century.

Cerimonies et ordonnances

Few images of the Middle Ages are as iconic as two noble knights settling a quarrel with the strength of their arms. However, strict rules applied to dueling and were even specified by law. This splendid manuscript, commissioned by Duke Francis II of Brittany (1433-88) contains the “Ceremonies and Ordinances” regarding the resolution of quarrels by battle as specified in the constitutions of the King of France, Philip IV (1268-1314). Twelve gorgeous miniatures illustrate the manuscript from ca. 1460-65, many resembling tournament scenes.

The Powerful Duke of Brittany

Ruling as Duke of Brittany, Francis II was one of the most influential political figures of the mid-15th century. Aside from his own conflicts with the King of France in his struggle to maintain Breton autonomy from the rest of the Kingdom of France, he also played a critical role in the Wars of the Roses by harboring Henry Tudor and other supporters of the Lancastrian cause. It was at Rennes Cathedral on Christmas Day in 1483 that that Henry swore he would heal the Kingdom of England and unite the warring houses of York and Lancaster by marrying the daughter of King Edward IV, Elizabeth of York (1466-1503), which he did after his victory at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485.

Dueling with Rules

The “Ceremonies and Ordinances” regard the laws of combat and the settling of quarrels by duel according to the constitutions created by King Philip IV of France. Following a splendid depiction of the royal coat of arms and dedication miniature of King Philip, another ten miniatures, all surrounded the dense floral borders with birds and drolleries, show the settlement of a quarrel. Scenes include the knights presenting their arguments and engaging in prayer before finally settling things on the “field of honor”. The lovely late-Gothic imagery presents these scenes as though they were in a tournament and present wonderful details concerning clothing, arms, and armor during the period.


Alternative Titles
Libro de los torneos – Ceremonias y ordenanzas
Les Cerimonies et ordonnances qui se appartiennent à gaige de bataille fait par querelle, selon les constitutions faictes par le bon roy Phelippe de France
Size / Format
96 pages / 23.5 × 16.0 cm
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Philippe de Béthune
Royal Library

Available facsimile editions:
Libro de los torneos. Ceremonias y ordenanzas Facsimile Edition
Club Bibliófilo Versol – Madrid, 2019
Limited Edition: 350 copies
Detail Picture

Cerimonies et ordonnances

The Appeal

Two knights involved in a dispute that cannot otherwise be resolved are presented before King Philip and the rest of the royal court including two cardinals or bishops and numerous courtiers. The appellant, kneeling on the left, raises his sword to indicate his willingness to fight and die to prove he is in the right. It is a wonderfully designed scene with a masterful use of depth and space, which is presented in an architectural frame that makes it seem as though the beholder was standing there.

Libro de los torneos. Ceremonias y ordenanzas
Single Page

Cerimonies et ordonnances

The Duel is Resolved

Spectators watch from an elegantly decorated grandstand and gather around the lists as the duel comes to a bloody conclusion. The victor stands confidently clutching his sword with both hands and looks down as his fallen foe, whose gauntlets and helmet have been stripped from him to reveal his face. He is unconscious and blood seeps from under his armor.

The artist has once again used diagonal lines to create a quasi-three-dimensional scene, especially with regard to the lists and grandstand. The scene is surrounded by a gorgeous frame full of flowering tendrils, strawberries, raspberries, a songbird, and a hybrid creature resembling a centaur with a human torso and head protruding from the body of a lion and holding his own tail in his hands.

Libro de los torneos. Ceremonias y ordenanzas
Facsimile Editions

#1 Libro de los torneos. Ceremonias y ordenanzas

Club Bibliófilo Versol – Madrid, 2019
Libro de los torneos. Ceremonias y ordenanzas Facsimile Edition
Libro de los torneos. Ceremonias y ordenanzas Facsimile Edition Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Publisher: Club Bibliófilo Versol – Madrid, 2019
Limited Edition: 350 copies
Commentary: 1 volume
Language: Spanish
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: €€ (1,000€ - 3,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!
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