Romance of the Knight Zifar

Romance of the Knight Zifar

Spain — Last quarter of the 15th century

Owned by Margaret of Austria, Napoleon Bonaparte, and more: the first Spanish-language novel

  1. The first novel written in the Spanish language arose in a splendid late-15th century manuscript

  2. The text, recorded in painstaking calligraphy, is accompanied by 242 miniatures by Pedro and Juan Carrion

  3. The book was owned by famous personalities like Henry IV of Castile, Margarete of Austria, and Napoleon

Romance of the Knight Zifar

  1. Description
  2. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Romance of the Knight Zifar

The Romance of the Knight Zifar is the first book written in the Spanish language. It arose in the last quarter of the 15th century and today is one of Spain’s most beautifully designed illuminated manuscripts. The book found itself at the courts of numerous aristocratic personalities, including Henry IV of Castile, Margarete of Austria, and Napoleon.

Romance of the Knight Zifar

The Romance of the Knight Zifar is the first book that was written in the Spanish language. It tells the tale of the knight Zifar and his family who flee their home after a series of misfortunes, embarking on a journey in the hope of a better future. The adventurous tale of the destiny of the protagonists and the obstacles that they encounter is counted among the most beautiful literary works of medieval Spain. The text, recorded in painstaking calligraphy, is accompanied by 242 high quality miniatures. The pictures, richly embellished in gold and silver are true showpieces of Castilian Gothic painting.

A Codex for Emperors and Kings

In the Middle Ages, the adventure story was found solely in courtly environs. It served as a guidebook for the rearing of princes and expectant kings. The work was copied at the court of Henry IV of Castile and was used for the education of the king. The exciting manuscript thereby served the king not only for the learning of language but should have also conferred moral and historical lessons onto him. Later owners of the books were Queen Isabella of Spain, Margarete of Austria, and Mary of Hungary, the sister of Charles V. In the 16th century, the treasure found itself at the court of the Dukes of Burgundy, whence it was sent to Paris in 1796. Napoleon I, an additional admirer of the thrilling work, brought it into the possession of the eventual French National Library, where it remains to this day.

Magnificent Miniatures

An especially impressive characteristic of the codex is the astonishing miniatures, which illustrated the events portrayed in the text. 242 flawless pictures in vivid colors, splendidly embellished with gold and silver, are scattered among the pages of text. Miniatures of various sizes are included. The splendid illustration cycle of the book is probably the most beautiful example of Gothic Spanish book art in the Middle Ages. The Illuminators, Pedro and Juan Carrion, created the book adornment in a perfect collaboration. Alongside the exciting pictures, the text of the manuscript is adorned through the use of colored and golden ink as well as numerous colorful and florally embellished initials.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Libro del Caballero Zifar
Buch des Ritters Zifar
Libro del Cavaliere Zifar
Roman de Zifar
O Livro do Cavaleiro Zifar
Size / Format
396 pages / 40.0 × 26.0 cm
Origin
Spain
Date
Last quarter of the 15th century
Language
Illustrations
242 miniatures embellished with gold and silver
Content
The first novel written in the Spanish language
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Queen Isabella I of Castile (1451–1504)
Charles de Croy (1506–64)
Margaret of Austria (1480–1530)
Mary of Hungary (1505–58)
Dukes of Burgundy
Napoleon I (1769–1821)

Available facsimile editions:
Romance of the Knight Zifar – Ms. Espagnol 36 – Bibliothèque nationale de France (Paris, France)
M. Moleiro Editor – Barcelona, 1996
Limited Edition: 987 copies
Facsimile Editions

#1 Libro del Caballero Zifar

M. Moleiro Editor – Barcelona, 1996

Publisher: M. Moleiro Editor – Barcelona, 1996
Limited Edition: 987 copies
Binding: Brown leather with red spine. In leather slipcase.
Commentary: 1 volume (332 pages) by Francisco Rico, Rafael Ramos, Juan Manuel Cacho Blecua, José Manuel Lucía Megías, Josefina Planas Badenas, and Carmen Bernis
Language: Spanish, English
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
Price: Login here!
You might also be interested in:
Dante Alighieri - Divine Comedy from the Biblioteca Angelica in Rome
Dante Alighieri - Divine Comedy from the Biblioteca Angelica in Rome
Italy – 2nd half of the 14th century

Unfinished, but of great historical importance: Dante's masterpiece as an example of the Trecento in illumination

Experience More
King René's Book of Love
King René's Book of Love
France – 1460–1467

Inspired by a tragic loss, illuminated with the most beautiful twilight scenes of illumination: an allegorical chivalric romance written by Duke René d´Anjou and illustrated by Barthélemy d'Eyck

Experience More
Blog articles worth reading
Filter selection
Publisher