From Louis the Saint to the Persian Shah to New York City: one of the most richly illuminated and famous manuscripts of the Middle Ages

Morgan Crusader’s Bible

Paris (France) — Around 1250

Morgan Crusader’s Bible

Morgan Crusader’s Bible

Paris (France) — Around 1250

  1. A primary work of the French High Gothic and one of the most magnificent and famous manuscripts of the Middle Ages

  2. The pure picture book illustrated the events of the Old Testament in 283 gorgeous and gilded miniatures

  3. Commissioned in 1604 by King Louis the Saint (1214-70) as a gift to Shah Abbas and stored today in the Morgan Library in New York

Biblia de los Cruzados (Parchment Facsimile)

Morgan Crusader’s Bible

Ehud, a Clever Leader

As punishment for their sinfulness, the Israelites are made subject to King Eglon of the Moabites for 18 years. After they repent, the Lord sends them a deliverer – a clever left-handed man named Ehud. He successfully assassinates Eglon and rallies the Israelites to attack. “And at that time they killed about ten thousand men of Moab, all stout men of valor; not a man escaped. So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land had rest for eighty years.” (Judges 3:29-30)

Morgan Crusader’s Bible

Alternative Titles:
  • Crusader Bible
  • Shah Abbas Bible
  • Bible of Louis IX
  • Maciejowsky Bible
  • Biblia de los Cruzados
  • Kreuzritterbibel Ludwigs des Heiligen
  • Kreuzritter Bibel
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

The Morgan Crusader Bible is probably the most extraordinary work from the book collection of King Louis IX. The pure picture book illustrated the events of the Old Testament in 283 high-quality miniatures. The codex is famous the world over and had a few important owners who allowed explanatory commentaries to append the pictures in various languages.

Morgan Crusader Bible

The Crusader Bible, also known as the Picture Bible of King Louis IX, known as Saint Louis, arose ca. 1250 in a Parisian art studio. It is a purely illustrated book that depicts the story of the Old Testament in a total of 283 monumentally and elaborately designed miniatures. The work begins with the Creation Story and goes up to the reign of King David. A particular focus is paid to the military events of the Testament, e.g. the doctrine of just war. The luminously colored pictures were lent a special gloss in almost every miniature by subtly applied gold. The Crusader Bible is a highpoint of the great manuscript collection of Saint Louis.

At the Behest of the King

King Louis IX, the Saint, was probably the most Christian king of France. He was a passionate crusader and set himself to the task of calling up his dependents to go to war for the conquest of the Holy Land. With his Crusader Bible, his crusading ideal was illustrated in richly detailed and intense pictures and was offered to his contemporaries as an incentive. The sequence of images was not to be disrupted by unimportant text. Only later were explanatory passages added in several languages.

An Exciting Story

Today the Crusader Bible can look back on an adventurous journey throughout the whole world. The work remained in the hands of its commissioner for 50 years after its genesis, and was brought to Louis’ relative in Naples, Charles of Anjou, ca. 1300. He allowed the picture bible to be furnished with Latin texts, which explained the biblical scenes in summary. After that all traces of the codex were lost until 300 years later when the codex resurfaced in the possession of the Bishop of Krakow, Bernhard Maciejowski. He consigned the work to a papal delegation, which was supposed to win over the Persian Shah Abbas for an alliance in the fight against the Turks. The bible was meant to be presented to him as a persuasive gift. The Shah had Persian comments added to the images and had three pages removed, which showed the resistance of Absalom against his father. The Shah probably wanted to keep these anti-royal readings a secret from his own son. From here on the history of the work is once again obscure. The Persian commentary was translated into Hebrew probably during the 17th century. In the 19th century, the valuable manuscript found itself in the possession of a Greek named Joannes Athanasiou. Sir Thomas Philipps bought it at auction and left it to his heir, who sold it in 1916 to the present owner John Pierpont Morgan.

Extraordinary Illumination

The picture book of monumental magnitude contains 283 miniatures, which are less reminiscent of book painting in their quality than they are of the stained glass and mural paintings of the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris. Therefore the masters, among which six can be distinguished, can also be supposed to be among the designers of the chapel. This was consecrated two years before the completion of the Crusader Bible. The large format miniatures show the important wars, battles, and famous people and events of the Old Testament. Details such as clothing, armor, and weapons were contemporarily depicted in the tradition of the 13th century. It was supposed to be suggestive to the beholder that Louis IX himself was to be recognized in courageous battle. Particularly artful was the employment of gold in the most diverse variations. Luminous gold leaf alternates with subdued, matte brushed gold. Thus every page of the splendid codex becomes an individual masterpiece.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Crusader Bible
Shah Abbas Bible
Bible of Louis IX
Maciejowsky Bible
Biblia de los Cruzados
Kreuzritterbibel Ludwigs des Heiligen
Kreuzritter Bibel
Size / Format
92 pages / 39.0 x 29.5 cm
Date
Around 1250
Style
Gothic
Illustrations
283 miniatures in total: 43 leaves illustrated on recto and verso with full-page miniatures
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Biblia de los Cruzados (Parchment Facsimile)

Morgan Crusader’s Bible

Saul Victorious, A Proven Leader

This is a gruesome masterpiece of the Gothic style and possibly the most famous image of medieval illumination. In 1 Samuel, an army of Ammonites under the command of King Nahash is besieging the Israelite city of Jabesh-Gilead. This scene depicts the moment when a relieving army commanded by Saul crashes into the rear of the Ammonites.

Wearing a crowned great helm and an orange tunic, Saul strikes the fleeing Nahash, cleaving his crown, and slaughter ensues as the Israelites inside the city pour out of the gates and hit the Ammonites from both sides. An archer in the tower aims at the only unharmed Ammonite and a trebuchet sends a boulder crashing into their ranks. Below, Saul is crowned and anointed by Samuel, who then celebrates the victory with sacrifices.

3 available facsimile edition(s) of „Morgan Crusader’s Bible“

Biblia de los Cruzados (Parchment Facsimile)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Morgan Crusader’s Bible – MS M.638|Ms Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294, fols 2, 3|Ludwig I 6 - 83.MA.55 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) / Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France) / Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
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Biblia de los Cruzados (Parchment Facsimile)

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Scriptorium – Valencia, 2013
Limited Edition
390 copies
Binding
Leather over wooden boards
Commentary
1 volume by William M. Voelkle, Francisco Javier Docampo Capilla, Matilde Miquel Juan, Olga Pérez Monzón, Manuel Febrer Romaguera, Saeid Hooshangi and Thamar E. Gindin
Languages: English, Spanish
from 2,690 €
Edition available
Price: Login here!
Kreuzritterbibel
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Kreuzritterbibel

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Faksimile Verlag – Luzern, 1998
Limited Edition
980 copies
Binding
The Bodleian Library in Oxford still possesses a manuscript which the King commissioned around the same time as the Crusader's Bible and which still is in its original Gothic de luxe leather binding. This binding was used as a model for our fine art facsimile edition.
Commentary
1 volume by Daniel Weiss and William Voelkle
Languages: English, French, German
Regular price without login (like new)2,690 €
Login for a Better Price!
Bibbia dei Crociati
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Bibbia dei Crociati

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Salerno Editrice – Rome, 1998
Limited Edition
250 copies (Co-edition with Faksimile Verlag Luzern)
Binding
The Bodleian Library in Oxford still possesses a manuscript which the King commissioned around the same time as the Crusader's Bible and which still is in its original Gothic de luxe leather binding. This binding was used as a model for our fine art facsimile edition.
Commentary
1 volume (150 pages) by Daniel Weiss, William Volkle and Andrea Cuna
Language: Italian
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