Libre dels Feyts

Libre dels Feyts

Monastery of Poblet (Spain) — 14th century

Of James I the Conqueror, King of Valencia: the first biography of a medieval king in first person form

  1. This 14th century manuscript is the first biography of a king to be composed in the Middle Ages

  2. The Catalan text relates the important events in the life of King Jaime I (1208–76), the first King of Valencia

  3. The stories were vividly depicted by splendid Gothic illumination in vivid colors with rich gold adornment

Libre dels Feyts

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Libre dels Feyts

The so-called Book of Facts is the first biography of a king to be composed in the Middle Ages. The work originated in the 14th century from the Spanish Royal Abbey of Santa Maria de Poblet and concerns the life of King Jaime I, the first King of Valencia. The book relates the important events in the life of the great monarch in a vernacular tone. The accompanying stories were vividly depicted by splendid Gothic illumination in vivid colors with rich gold adornment.

Libre dels Feyts

A truly unique historical manuscript originated from the Royal Abbey of Santa Maria de Poblet near Valencia. It is the so-called Book of Facts. The astounding manuscript can be regarded as the first autobiography of a medieval king worldwide. The events reflected in the work were entirely told from the first person perspective of King Jaime I of Valencia, all things considered it has been proven that the King himself was not the author of this life story. The biography was produced by gifted monks of the Spanish Poblet Abbey and is furnished with fantastic miniatures, playful historiated initials, and plant tendrils with animals in rich colors with gold adornment.

A Man of the People

The Book of Facts is dedicated completely to the first King of Valencia, Jaime I, who earned the epithet “the Conqueror”. Jaime was simultaneously the King of Aragon and Mallorca, Count of Barcelona and Montpellier. Consequently, he was one of the most powerful men of medieval Spain. The most important events of the King’s reign are assembled in the book and represented in chronological order. Catalan is the language of the work and it is recorded in a very vernacular and informal tone. The spoken language of the people was reproduced here in a very direct style. In this way, the closeness of the beloved King to his people is expressed.

Jaime the Conqueror

According to sources, King Philip II is reported to have said at the grave of Jaime I: “He was one of the greatest kings and captains that the world ever had…”. This quote comes from a time when Jaime had already been dead for more than 300 years. Nonetheless, his exceptional reign has remained unforgotten to this day. With the help of successful military campaigns and good, thoughtful government, the great King released two realms – namely Mallorca and Valencia – from Muslim rule and incorporated them into his own kingdom. The Book of Facts not only relates his own political feats, but also tells of memories from his childhood, his everyday life, and his death. The enchantingly colorful and gold-decorated miniatures of the work illustrate the entertaining stories in a thrilling way.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
The Book of the Facts
Buch der Fakten
Size / Format
418 pages / 29.3 × 20.5 cm
Origin
Spain
Date
14th century
Style
Illustrations
Illumination with capital letters painted in gold, rims with animal and plant decoration
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
Libre dels Feyts – Ms 1 – Biblioteca de la Universidad de Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain)
Vicent Garcia Editores – Valencia, 1988
Limited Edition: 3000 copies
Detail Picture

Libre dels Feyts

“R” Initial: King Jaime I at Prayer

Here we see the prologue of this work, the first biography of a medieval king. What makes it all the more significant is that it was written in the vernacular of the people, adding a truly national character to it. The historiated initial introduces the Catalan phrase Retrau mon senyor Sant Jaume que Fe sense Obres morta es or “Rebuke my lord St. James that faith without works is dead.” It contains a scene of a crowned King Jaime I kneeling in prayer, hands folded in front of him.

Llibre dels Feyts
Single Page

Libre dels Feyts

Planning the Invasion of Mallorca

One of the greatest accomplishments in the reign of King James I of Aragon was his conquest of the island of Mallorca. The King met with his lords and captains in Tarragona to plan the invasion and they sealed their pact on August 28th, 1229 at a supper, which is depicted here. A wonderful floral border filled with birds, including a peacock, surrounds this splendid scene.

The King is seated on the right, his table on a dais with a red checkered curtain hanging behind him, and is holding a large golden goblet. One of James’ vassals kneels before him and extends his own goblet, perhaps to toast the prospect of ending 300+ years of Muslim rule on Mallorca, while the rest are seated at a long table with various plates, bowls, and pitchers.

Llibre dels Feyts
Facsimile Editions

#1 Llibre dels Feyts

Vicent Garcia Editores – Valencia, 1988
Libre dels Feyts – Ms 1 – Biblioteca de la Universidad de Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain)
Libre dels Feyts – Ms 1 – Biblioteca de la Universidad de Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain) Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Publisher: Vicent Garcia Editores – Valencia, 1988
Limited Edition: 3000 copies
Binding: Parchment on wooden board with metallic shield. Dust jacket containing the facsimile volume and 2 commentary volumes
Commentary: 2 volumes (326/400 pages)
Languages: Spanish, Valencian
3 volumes: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) The first autobiography of a medieval king. Specially made paper with the same characteristics as the original. Limited edition numbered and signed by notary.
Price Category: €€ (1,000€ - 3,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!
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