Petrus Comestor, Bible Historiale Complétée

Bible historiale

There are ancient manuscripts about which we know very little and others about which we are well-informed. This manuscript – a French translation of the Historia scholastica by Petrus Comestor – is one of the latter.

The text was translated from Latin by Guyars des Moulins, copied by Raoulet d’Orléans and illuminated in part by Jean Bondol. The first owner was the French king Charles V and we can track its provenance through a long series of owners and borrowers, with occasional lacunae, until it was sold in the auction of the library of the famous French bibliophile Louis-Jean Gaignat. The buyer was Gerard Meerman, who left it to his son Johan Meerman. Not long after the latter’s death in 1815, the work passed, by an undocumented process, into the hands of his cousin Baron van Westreenen.

However, this manuscript is not famous first and foremost on account of its impressive provenance. The manuscript was written and illuminated by order of the chamberlain Jean de Vaudetar, who presented it to his monarch Charles V on 28 March 1372. The opening miniature shows Jean de Vaudetar presenting the work to Charles V. The bibliophile monarch is dressed in a scholar’s gown – not only as a token of his serious scholarly interest, but also as evidence of the informal way in which he wished to treat his high-ranking servants. Without any doubt, this magnificent presentation miniature is the most famous miniature in the collection of Huis van het boek.