Nectanebus as a dragon at Philip’s table (London, British Library, Royal MS 15 E VI, f. 6v)

Illuminated Manuscript. Alexander the Great. British Library. Royal MS 15 E VI. Talbot Shrewsbury Book. Le Roman d’Alexandre en prose. Prose Alexander-Romance

“Comment Nectanebz se transfigura en fourme de dragon et baisa la royne Olimbias devant le roy Philippe, son baron, en la table ou elle mengoit.”


The Prose Alexander results from a long and rich literary tradition. It is the French translation of the Historia de Preliis, which was translated from Greek to Latin in the 10th century. The Prose Alexander has two known redaction. The first is dated between 1206 and 1252. It is recognizable from its short Christian prologue and long prologue, centered on Alexander’s heirs. The second redaction on the opposite has a long prologue about the history of Macedonia. It is generally dated between 1252 and 1290 because it mentions the Speculum Historiale at the end of its prologue.


Manuscript description from the British Library:

A collection of fifteen romances, chivalric treatises, instructional texts, chronicles and statutes compiled as a gift to Margaret of Anjou, on her betrothal to Henry VI, from the 1st Earl of Shrewsbury, who escorted her to England for the marriage in 1444. The contents are as follows: 1. Dedicatory verses (f. 2v); Genealogical table of descendants of Saint Louis (f. 3r); 2. Roman d”Alexandre en prose, a French translation of the Historia de proelis (ff. 5r-24v);3. Three Chansons de Geste, epic poems about Charlemagne: Simon de Pouille, Aspremont, and Fierabras (ff. 25r-85v);4. Chanson d’Ogier (ff. 86r-154v);5. Les Quatre fils Aymon or Regnault (Renaud) de Montauban (ff. 155r-206r); 6. Pontus and Sidoine (ff. 207r-226v);7. Guy de Warrewik et Heraud d”Ardenne, (ff. 227r-266r, 266v-272r);8. Chanson du Chevalier au Cygne (ff. 273r-292r);9. L”arbre de batailes (ff. 293r-325v);10. Gilles de Rome, translated into French by Henri de Gauchi, Livres du gouvernement des rois (De regimine principium) (ff. 327r-361r); 11. Chroniques de Normandie (ff. 363r-401r);12. Alain Chartier, Breviaire des nobles (ff. 403r-404v);13. Christine de Pisan, Les fais d”armes et de chevalerie (ff. 405r-438r);14. Statutes of the Order of the Garter (ff. 439r-440v).Decoration: 2 full-page miniatures in colours and gold (ff. 3, 4v), and 13 two-column miniatures in colours and gold (ff. 2v, 5, 25, 40, 70, 155, 207, 227, 273, 363, 403, 405. 439) with full borders, and 4 one-column miniatures in colours and gold with full or partial borders (ff. 86r, 273, 293, 327), at the beginning of each text. 126 smaller miniatures in colours and gold within text columns, with marginal ivy extensions forming partial borders; some with instructions to illuminators (e.g., ff. 222r, 22v, 223v, 225v). Contour of a banner covered by the border (ff. 86r, 363r). Foliate initials in colours and gold. Initials in gold on rose and blue grounds with penwork decoration in white. Line-fillers in blue, rose and gold with penwork decoration in white. Cadels.Illuminated by the Talbot Master and his workshop, an artist active in Rouen, named after this manuscript (and Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum, 40.1950, the ”John Talbot Book of Hours”) and by three other illuminators, the Master of the Lord Hoo”s Book of Hours (bifolium ff. 21-24), an artist working in the Bedford Master”s style (bifolium ff. 4v, 22-23), and an unnamed illuminator of ff. 266v and 293 (see Reynolds 1993).

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