Alexander battles with white lions (London, British Library, Royal MS 20 B XX, f. 50v)

Illuminated Manuscript. Alexander the Great. British Library. Royal MS 20 B XX. Le Roman d’Alexandre en prose.

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:

The Vraye histoire du bon roy Alexandre, incipit (rubric):’Comment nostre seigneur donna congnoissance a Alixandre de trier le bien du mal’; (text): ‘Puis que le premier pere duman lignage’; with a table of contents (ff. 1r-2v). The French text of the Vraye histoire is based on the Latin Historia Alexandri Magni de preliis, written in the 10th century by the Neapolitan archpriest Leo.Decoration: 86 two or one-column miniatures in colours and gold, with partial borders, at the beginning of each chapter, some with traces of preliminary sketches for illuminators (e.g., ff. 83, 86, 92). Foliate initials in colours and gold with extensions. Small initials in gold on blue and rose grounds with penwork decoration in white, and line-fillers in blue, rose and gold with penwork decoration in white in the list of contents section (ff. 1-2v).Illuminated by the Master of the Royal Alexander (formerly identified with the Harvard Hannibal Master, see Backhouse 2004), active in Paris and Normandy (Rouen?); other manuscripts illuminated by him include a Book of Hours of Rouen use (Baltimore, Walter Art Gallery W. 259), and a Book of Hours of Sarum use (Sloane MS 2468) perhaps made in Rouen for the English market (see Reynolds 1994).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.