In the possession of Henry VIII: the most magnificent version of a medieval biography of Alexander the Great

Paris Alexander Romance

Paris (France) — Around 1420

Paris Alexander Romance

Paris Alexander Romance

Paris (France) — Around 1420

  1. Perhaps the greatest transcript of a beloved medieval biography of Alexander the Great (356-323 BC)

  2. Nearly all of its 97 pages are adorned with Gothic pictures and decorative elements

  3. The coveted manuscript was the possession of King Henry VIII (1491-1547) and bears his monogram

Pariser Alexanderroman

Paris Alexander Romance

Candace Gives Alexander a Crown

The medieval legend concerning Alexander the Great is full of campaigns in lands that his Macedonian phalanxes never visited, and one such episode has him marching into Nubia. Candace of Meroë is listed as an opponent of Alexander’s who rode on the back of a war elephant in some versions, while others depict her as a romantic conquest instead. Dressed as 15th century French nobles, they are shown holding hands and walking into her bedchamber where she presents Alexander with a crown.

Paris Alexander Romance

Alternative Titles:
  • Historia de proelis in a French translation
  • Le livre et la vraye hystoire du bon roy Alixandre
  • Romance of Alexander
  • Pariser Alexanderroman
Paris Alexander Romance – MS Royal 20 B XX – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Paris Alexander Romance – MS Royal 20 B XX – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Paris Alexander Romance – MS Royal 20 B XX – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Paris Alexander Romance – MS Royal 20 B XX – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Paris Alexander Romance – MS Royal 20 B XX – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Paris Alexander Romance – MS Royal 20 B XX – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Paris Alexander Romance – MS Royal 20 B XX – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Paris Alexander Romance – MS Royal 20 B XX – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Paris Alexander Romance – MS Royal 20 B XX – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Imageof
Price Category: €€€
Edition available
Price: Login here!
  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

The Paris Alexander Romance is the most magnificent version of a medieval biography of Alexander the Great. The work originates from around 1420 and is illustrated with numerous magnificently colored and gold-decorated miniatures, as well as multi-lined initials. In thrilling pictures, the journeys and adventures of the ancient hero are told by the “Alexander Master”, so-called after his masterwork.

Paris Alexander Romance

Between 1420 and 1425, a richly appointed manuscript about the life of Alexander the Great arose in Paris. The document is undoubtedly one of the most magnificent codices of the Middle Ages, which is concerned with the life of the famous ancient hero. Nearly all of its 97 pages are adorned with gothic pictures and decorative elements. In total there are 86 colorful miniatures framed with golden thorny tendrils and over 100 multi-lined gold initials.

Alexander the Great, a Figurehead of the Middle Ages

It is not known today who commissioned this magnificent work. The book painter, who is responsible for the text, was named after his masterwork simply as the “Alexander Master”. It can also not be determined for certain, whether the work was intended for a specific recipient. Nevertheless, the heroic sagas and stories of Alexander the Great were greatly identified with the court culture of the Middle Ages and his deeds and virtues were held to be exemplary by many knights. The example of Alexander was used as a positive example in the education of young princes. Therefore it is possible that the Parisian example was intended for a young reader from a courtly background.

Fanciful and Original Miniatures

The Paris Alexander Romance concerns itself with the countless popular stories about Alexander, that were transmitted in many translations and adaptations up to the Middle Ages. His journey from Europe to Asia in 334 B.C., his education with Aristotle, his struggle against the Persian Emperor Darius, all of it made the ancient hero an example to medieval knights and rulers. The wondrous events of his life are depicted by the Alexander Master in his work with unmistakable colorfulness and attention to detail. He illustrated natural landscapes, knights in battle as well as daily life at court, medieval cities, garments and armor, as well as animals and mythical creatures in inexhaustible narrative pleasure. The travelling pictures were animated through people with individual facial features and expressive body language.

A Famous Owner

The history of the Paris Alexander Romance has long laid in darkness. Nevertheless, on the inside of the front cover is a handwritten entry which indicated a very famous owner. Namely, it is the logo “HR”, which stands for Henricus Rex and was the monogram of the English King Henry VIII. The inscription originates from the 16th century. Later, the work was donated to the British Museum along with the private library of King George II. Originating from this museum is the modern British Library, where the masterwork remains to this day.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Historia de proelis in a French translation
Le livre et la vraye hystoire du bon roy Alixandre
Romance of Alexander
Pariser Alexanderroman
Size / Format
194 pages / 28.4 x 19.5 cm
Date
Around 1420
Style
Gothic
Language
Illustrations
86 two or one-column miniatures in colours and gold, with partial borders. Foliate initials in colours and gold with extensions. Small initials in gold on blue and rose grounds with penwork decoration
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Pariser Alexanderroman

Paris Alexander Romance

Triumphant Entry of Alexander into Babylon

In 331 BC, the army of Alexander the Great met and defeated a larger Persian force under Darius III at the Battle of Gaugamela in what was the decisive engagement of his campaign in Assyria and Babylonia. Darius ignominiously fled from the battle and as such Alexander’s army was free to enter the namesake capital city of Babylon, completing his conquest.

Surrounded by a frame of colorful, gilded filigree tendrils, Alexander’s army is equipped with 15th century arms and armor: longbows and various kinds of polearms, steel greaves, cowters, vambraces, and helmets with bassinets. Mounted on a white horse and marked by his escutcheon of three gold crowns on a field of red, Alexander rides at the head of the cavalry cradling his sword.

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „Paris Alexander Romance“

Pariser Alexanderroman
Paris Alexander Romance – MS Royal 20 B XX – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Paris Alexander Romance – MS Royal 20 B XX – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Paris Alexander Romance – MS Royal 20 B XX – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Paris Alexander Romance – MS Royal 20 B XX – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Paris Alexander Romance – MS Royal 20 B XX – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Paris Alexander Romance – MS Royal 20 B XX – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Paris Alexander Romance – MS Royal 20 B XX – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Paris Alexander Romance – MS Royal 20 B XX – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Paris Alexander Romance – MS Royal 20 B XX – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Imageof

Pariser Alexanderroman

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Quaternio Verlag Luzern – Luzern, 2014
Limited Edition
680 copies
Binding
Like the original, the facsimile is also bound in brown leather with three delicate lines tooled in gold framing the cover.
Commentary
1 volume by Maud Pérez-Simon, Joanna Fronska and Siegbert Himmelsbach
Languages: English, German
Price Category: €€€
Edition available
Price: Login here!
  1. Matching Works
  2. Matching Background Articles

Matching Works

Book of the Knights of the Brotherhood of Santiago

Book of the Knights of the Brotherhood of Santiago

The image of the knight over the centuries: 300 detailed representations of the noble warriors of the Brotherhood of Santiago from the 14th to the 17th centuries

Experience More
Chronicles of Lucca by Giovanni Sercambi

Chronicles of Lucca by Giovanni Sercambi

Pictures from Tuscany in the Middle Ages: 651 detailed miniatures on the eventful history of Lucca

Experience More

Matching Background Articles

Publisher