Morgan Crusader's Bible

Morgan Crusader's Bible Facsimile Edition

Paris (France) — Ca. 1250

From King Louis the Saint into the possession of J. P. Morgan in New York via the Shah of Persia: one of the most beautifully illuminated and famous manuscripts of the Middle Ages

  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

Morgan Crusader's Bible

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (3)
Description
Morgan Crusader's Bible

The Morgan Crusader Bible is probably the most extraordinary work from the book collection of King Louis IX. It is a pure picture book illustrating the events of the Old Testament in 283 high-quality miniatures. This codex is famous the world over and has had several important owners who had explanatory commentaries append the pictures in Latin, Persian, Arabic, Judeo-Persian, and Hebrew. Its miniatures resemble the stained glass and mural paintings of the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, which was also commissioned by Louis IX, and dress the events in the clothing, armor, and weapons of the 13th century, making it a valuable source about contemporary life and warfare. The artfulness and masterful execution of the miniatures often contrasts with the brutal, gruesomely detailed scenes of medieval combat that they depict.

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 × 29.5 cm
Origin
France
Date
Ca. 1250
Style
Script
Gothic Textura Rotunda (littera bononiensis)
Illustrations
283 miniatures in total including 92 full-page miniatures and 181 golden initials
Content
Portions of Genesis, Exodus, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, and Samuel
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Alfonso X, the Wise (1221–1284), King of Castile, León and Galicia
Charles of Anjou (1226–1285)
Cardinal Bernhard Maciejowski, Bishop of Cracow (1548–1608)
Abbas, Shah of Persia (1604)
Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792–1872)

Available facsimile editions:
Morgan Crusader 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) Facsimile Edition
Scriptorium – Valencia, 2013
Limited Edition: 390 copies

Morgan Crusader 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) Facsimile Edition
Faksimile Verlag – Lucerne, 1998
Limited Edition: 980 copies

Morgan Crusader 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) Facsimile Edition
Salerno Editrice – Rome, 1998
Limited Edition: 250 copies (Co-edition with Faksimile Verlag Luzern)
Detail Picture

Morgan Crusader 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)

Biblia de los Cruzados (Parchment Facsimile)
Single Page

Morgan Crusader 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.

Biblia de los Cruzados (Parchment Facsimile)
Facsimile Editions

#1 Biblia de los Cruzados (Parchment Facsimile)

Scriptorium – Valencia, 2013

Publisher: Scriptorium – Valencia, 2013
Limited Edition: 390 copies
Binding: Leather over wooden boards with real parchment pages
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
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.
Regular price without login (like new)13,900 
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#2 Kreuzritterbibel

Faksimile Verlag – Lucerne, 1998

Publisher: Faksimile Verlag – Lucerne, 1998
Limited Edition: 980 copies
Binding: Richly embossed leather binding. Original binding has been lost over the centuries. However, the Bodleian Library in Oxford is in possession of a manuscript that was created by royal decree at about the same time as the Crusader Bible and which still has the magnificent original Gothic binding; this served as the model for the facsimile binding. The facsimile edition is supplied in an acrylic slipcase for protection.
Commentary: 1 volume (543 pages) by Daniel H. Weiss and William M. Voelkle
Languages: English, French, German
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: €€€ (3,000€ - 7,000€)
Edition available
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#3 Bibbia dei Crociati

Salerno Editrice – Rome, 1998

Publisher: Salerno Editrice – Rome, 1998
Limited Edition: 250 copies (Co-edition with Faksimile Verlag Luzern)
Binding: The original binding has been lost over the centuries. However, the Bodleian Library in Oxford is in possession of a manuscript that was created by royal decree at about the same time as the Crusader Bible and which still has the magnificent original Gothic binding; this served as the model for the facsimile binding.
Commentary: 1 volume (150 pages) by Daniel H. Weiss, William M. Volkle, and Andrea Cuna
Language: Italian
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: €€€ (3,000€ - 7,000€)
Edition available
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