Quest for the Holy Grail

Quest for the Holy Grail

France — Ca. 1450–1460

Parzival and the Knights of Camelot in search for the Holy Grail: the fifth and last Arthurian novel by Chrétien de Troyes

  1. An incredible 15th century manuscript of the fifth and last Arthurian romance by Chrétien de Troyes (ca. 1140–90)

  2. He tells the story of the young knight Perceval who seeks the Holy Grail with other knights from Camelot

  3. After Chrétien de Troyes' death, the work was completed by several authors ca. 1220

Quest for the Holy Grail

  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Quest for the Holy Grail

One of the most beautiful transcripts of the French tale in verse Li Contes del Graal by the author Chrétien de Troyes (ca. 1140–ca. 1190) originated ca. 1500. His fifth and final Arthurian romance tells the story of the young knight Perceval, who eventually becomes an Arthurian knight and Grail-seeker. Over 50 enchanting miniatures illustrate the adventurous journey with its unbelievable danger. Additionally, grandiose initials and fantastic bordures with glimmering details play around the text consisting of 32,000 verses.

Quest for the Holy Grail

The literary cycle with the mythical Holy Grail induced one of the most beautiful prose texts of all time. It is a French tale in verse by Chrétien de Troyes (ca. 1140 – ca. 1190). Unfortunately, the founder of the courtly romance was not able to personally finish the story of a youth who grew up in the solitude of the forest named Perceval, who became an Arthurian knight and Grail-seeker. Ca. 1220, it is presumed that several authors extended the already 9,000-verse work to an impressive 32,000 verses. The text consists of three parts, which are adorned by 50+ painting-like miniatures, rich initials, and a wealth of inviting bordures. Thanks to this opulent illumination, the 15th century manuscript is considered to be one of the most beautiful of the cycle.

The Adventures of Lancelot

In the three sections, de Troyes tells the story of the young knight Perceval, who began his journey in Camelot with other companions. On their way, they experienced unbelievable adventures and confronted great dangers. Thanks to the guidance of the Holy Grail, which lends them the necessary inner strength, they manage to bring an end to the fascinating journey. As a subplot, the French author tells the tale of the knight Gawain, who was the nephew of King Arthur.

A Courtly Romance with Christian Elements

De Troyes’ fifth and last Arthurian Romance can be considered an attempt to impregnate the genre of courtly romance with Christian elements and the legend of the Holy Grail. Thus, the otherwise chivalric and courtly virtues are Christianized and the knight is now God’s cavalier.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Die Suche nach dem Heiligen Gral
Roman de la quête du Graal
Búsqueda del Santo Grial
Roman de Tristan en prose
Queste del Saint Graal
Size / Format
163 folios / 41.7 × 32.0 cm
Origin
France
Date
Ca. 1450–1460
Language
Illustrations
40 miniatures, numerous initals
Previous Owners
Nicolas Moreau, Treasurer of France (1544–1619)
Jean-Baptiste François Jehannin de Chamblanc (1722–1797)

Available facsimile editions:
Quest for the Holy Grail – Ms. 527 – Bibliothèque Municipal de Dijon (Dijon, France)
Ediciones Grial – Valencia, 1997
Limited Edition: 870 copies
Detail Picture

Quest for the Holy Grail

Sir Galahad Attacked by Assanon and Forty Knights

Arthurian legends were used to both instruct the medieval nobility on the Christian principles of chivalry as well as serving as a mirror for contemporary life. This miniature has been inserted into the relevant text and shows Sir Galahad fighting valiantly against overwhelming odds. Sir Galahad was renowned for being the purest and most gallant of all knights, so much so that Monty Python famously lured him into a castle full of 150 naughty, lusty virgins in need of a good spanking.

Roman de la Quête du Graal
Single Page

Quest for the Holy Grail

Scenes from Camelot

This codex begins fours scenes from King Arthur’s court at Camelot. It is a wonderful specimen of French illumination ca. 1500 as it transitioned between the Gothic and Renaissance styles. These interior scenes were created with a remarkable sense of perspective and utilize a wonderful palette of primary colors.

The upper scenes depict King Arthur and Queen Guinevere at a courtly feast attended by twelve kings and queens. In the lower-left scene, nuns present Galahad to be knighted by Lancelot, who is pictured to the right resting a sword upon the shoulder of the kneeling Galahad. The figures are all depicted in the fashion of late–15th century France: short tunics and tights for men, flowing dresses with long trains for women.

Roman de la Quête du Graal
Facsimile Editions

#1 Roman de la Quête du Graal

Ediciones Grial – Valencia, 1997
Quest for the Holy Grail – Ms. 527 – Bibliothèque Municipal de Dijon (Dijon, France)
Quest for the Holy Grail – Ms. 527 – Bibliothèque Municipal de Dijon (Dijon, France) Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Publisher: Ediciones Grial – Valencia, 1997
Limited Edition: 870 copies
Commentary: 1 volume
Language: 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.
You might also be interested in:
Divine Comedy Dante Estense
Divine Comedy Dante Estense
Modena (Italy) – 1380–1390

In the later possession of the Sun King: the first complete transcript of Dante's Divine Comedy

Experience More
Petrarca: Trionfi - Spain Codex
Petrarca: Trionfi - Spain Codex
15th century

From the painter of the Medici and Federico da Montefeltro: Petrarch's masterpiece, beautifully illuminated

Experience More
Blog articles worth reading
Filter selection
Publisher