The tender rose as a symbol for the woman: 93 golden miniatures illuminate what is perhaps the most famous allegorical romance novel of the Middle Ages

Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy

Paris (France) — Around 1280

Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy

Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy

Paris (France) — Around 1280

  1. A famous love story was begun by Guillaume de Lorris ca. 1235 and was finished by Jean de Meung ca. 1280

  2. Completely new narrative techniques were used in the first French story written in the first person

  3. Calligraphy and 93 golden miniatures by Berthaud d'Achy, this manuscript is the most beautiful of the famous allegorical romance

Rosenroman des Berthaud d’Achy (Leather Edition)

Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy

A Licentious Cleric

This popular and controversial story is not merely dedicated to the art of romantic love but is highly critical of society in the High Middle Ages. One of the biggest targets of this social commentary was the clergy, who are criticized for their tremendous hypocrisy. While this is normally expressed by depicting the great wealth of clerics in comparison with their supposed humility, here a monk is shown having been caught groping a woman, who has grabbed the offending hand.

Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy

Alternative Titles:
  • Rosenroman des Berthaud d’Achy
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

The Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy was composed in Paris ca. 1280. The Gothic manuscript contains the famous Romance of the Rose, which was begun by Guillaume de Lorris ca. 1235 and was finished by Jean de Meung ca. 1280. D’Achy’s magnificent manuscript is adorned with 93 gold covered miniatures and a plethora of colorful initials.

Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy

The Romance of the Rose is a 13th century love story composed in verse. It is considered to be the most successful and influential work of medieval French literature. The allegorical story portrays the experience of a long dream. The protagonist gives an account as though he is in a dream and loves a rose, which he can win after overcoming various difficulties. Thereby the rose symbolizes a woman. The story consists of two parts, which completely altered the literature of the Middle Ages. The manuscript of Berthaud d’Achy is probably the most beautiful edition of the story. It contains 93 golden miniatures and numerous colored initials in the Gothic style.

Medieval World Literature

The Romance of the Rose is a stylistic masterpiece, which influences literature up to our contemporary era. Completely new narrative techniques were used and combined with one another here. Never before was there a French story that was composed in the first-person perspective. Also, the employment of allegorical figure as acting fictional characters and the depiction of an entire plot of the story as a dream are groundbreaking. The acting figures are namely, aside from the main character, not actual conceivable persons. They are treated as allegories, e.g. Prudence or mythological figures such as Cupid. The Romance of the Rose revolutionized the literature of the Middle Ages.

Two Different Authors

The story was begun by Guillaume de Lorris ca 1235. Guillaume’s text terminates as a fragment at verse 4068. The author probably died before he could complete the text. Nevertheless, somewhere in the middle of the tale of the affectionate protagonist he indicates that he will explain the deeper meaning of the work later. Above all it is implied that he will win the rose at the end of a long battle. Evidently the writer Jean de Meung used this comment as a starting point for the idea of a continuation. This was written between 1275 and 1280. Both parts of the tale are starkly different from one another. The first part, coming from the quill of the nobleman de Lorris, stands in the tradition of courtly poetry of the time – his image of love correlates to the ideal of courtly love. By contrast, de Meung was a city-dweller and stood at an ironic distance from the courtly mindset of his predecessor. He advocates on the whole rational and skeptical, almost materialistic ideas.

Expensive Book Decoration

The verse manuscript is embellished with countless colorful and golden decorations. The plot is illustrated by a total of 93 miniatures. The images shine in luminous colors and are appointed with precious gold leaf. The shimmering scenes transplant the beholder in the amorous dream of the protagonist. The work contains, along with the charming miniatures, countless additional decorative elements. The text is adorned with a total of 624 colorful and laboriously decorated Gothic initials. Additionally, a few historicized borders enliven the manuscript. The Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy is a true firework of medieval book art.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Rosenroman des Berthaud d’Achy
Size / Format
260 pages / 23.5 x 24.0 cm
Date
Around 1280
Style
Gothic
Language
Illustrations
93 golden miniatures and 624 colored initials
Artist / School
Rosenroman des Berthaud d’Achy (Leather Edition)

Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy

Entering the Walled Garden

The narrator, a 25-year-old-man, relates a dream of his that begins with his journey to a walled garden full of rosebushes and allegorical figures, pictured here in the miniature on the left. When he goes to pluck his own special blossom, the young lover is shot with an arrow by the God of Love, leaving him perpetually enamored with this one particular rose (representing a woman), which he pursues throughout the story.

These two miniatures are presented in artfully varied frames and embedded in the French text, which is neatly written in two columns, and are accompanied by elaborate decorative initials of red, blue, and gold. Berthaud d'Achy created elegant figures in the Gothic style with expressive hand gestures and long flowing robes.

2 available facsimile edition(s) of „Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy“

Rosenroman des Berthaud d’Achy (Leather Edition)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy – Urb. lat. 376 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
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Rosenroman des Berthaud d’Achy (Leather Edition)

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Belser Verlag – Zurich, 1987
Limited Edition
600 copies
Binding
Leather with blind embossing and leather clasps
Commentary
1 volume (196 pages) by Eberhard König
Language: German
Rosenroman des Berthaud d’Achy (Linen Edition)
Imageof

Rosenroman des Berthaud d’Achy (Linen Edition)

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Belser Verlag – Zurich, 1987
Limited Edition
600 copies
Binding
Linen
Commentary
1 volume (196 pages) by Eberhard König
Language: German
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