Gold and silver musical notation for Emperor Maximilian's wife: one of only seven surviving medieval manuscripts from the Middle Ages made entirely of black parchment

Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria

Flanders — Around 1470

Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria

Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria

Flanders — Around 1470

  1. This "black manuscript" is an especially rare and beautiful example of a late medieval dancing book

  2. It once belonged to Mary of Burgundy, the wife of Emperor Maximilian I (1459-1519), after whom it is named

  3. The musical notation is written entirely in gold and silver ink to further highlight its unusual aesthetic

Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria

Alternative Titles:
  • Les basses danses de Marguerite d'Autriche
  • Tanzbüchlein der Margarete von Österreich
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

As restrictions on music and dancing were relaxed by the Catholic Church in the course of the Middle Ages, dancing became more common and the dances more complex. Dancing became an essential part of court life, knowing the right dances was an indicator that one came from the right strata of society, that one belonged. Therefore, instructive books became popular as learning aids and reference works, especially for young nobles learning to be ladies and gentlemen. The Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria is an especially rare and beautiful example thereof from the 15th century. This is because it is one of the few so-called "black manuscripts" to survive to the present and is decorated with gold and silver to further highlight its unusual aesthetic.

Da Costa Hours

The Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria was conceived ca. 1470 as an aid for dancers doing the “Basses Danses” so popular in Europe. It is among the few illuminated manuscripts to be made using vellum that has been dyed black, thus making possible a wholly unusual color palette.

Music in Silver and Gold

After an impressive page showing several coats of arms, the Dancing Book commences with a brief theoretical section complete with 59 different dances. Each page bears a golden lineation on which the titles of the dances, together with texts, musical notes and step designations, are written in both gold and silver. Almost all the pages of the manuscript are ornamented with initials. Their vigorous interlace leads us to the assumption that the manuscript constitutes a masterpiece of courtly art. It is rightly assumed that this book once belonged to Mary of Burgundy, the wife of Emperor Maximilian I who left it to her daughter Margaret, the future governor general of the Low Countries. The book later passed into the hands of King Philip II of Spain and remained in the Burgundian library of the Habsburg dynasty until it was transferred to the Bibliothèque Royale.

An Extremely Rare Manuscript on Black Vellum

The “Basses Danses” owes its singularity not only to its musical contents and significance for the history of European culture, but also to its masterly execution of calligraphy in gold and silver and last but not least to its unusual writing material. The Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria is one of only seven surviving manuscripts written on black-dyed parchment. This jewel unique in the history of book production impressively displays the luxury of the Burgundian court.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Les basses danses de Marguerite d'Autriche
Tanzbüchlein der Margarete von Österreich
Size / Format
56 pages / 12.8 x 21.0 cm
Origin
Flanders
Date
Around 1470
Genre
Language
Illustrations
Notes in silver, texts in gold and ornaments
Previous Owners

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria“

Tanzbüchlein der Margarete von Österreich
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Ms. 9085 – Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
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Tanzbüchlein der Margarete von Österreich

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Graz, 1987
Limited Edition
500 copies
Binding
Wooden covers and half leather. Facsimile and commentary volume in book case.
Commentary
1 volume (76 pages) by C. Thiry, V. Gavenda and C. Lemaire
Language: German

C. Thiry, Liège, V. Gavenda, Berkeley and C. Lemaire, Bruxelles. 76 pp.
More Information
All folios are cut according to the original.
Price Category: €
Edition available
Price: Login here!
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