A jewel of a book

This is a guest post by Dr. Stella Panayotova, Keeper of Manuscripts and Printed Books at the Fitzwilliam Museum.

fol. 285r from the facsimile

In 2015 Cambridge University Library acquired a rare modern book about a unique medieval manuscript (F201.b.4.1). One of only 999 copies printed in 2015, it is a facsimile of a Book of Hours made in Angers c.1450. While the original manuscript is among the treasures of the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris (MS NAL 3244), the facsimile supports research and teaching in Cambridge. Faithfully recreating the richly illuminated and highly personalised prayer book, precious and tiny (10 x 7.8 cm) like a jewel, the facsimile invites the modern-day reader-viewer to relive the experience of the manuscript’s early owners.

The Book of Hours belonged to Jeanne de France (1438-1482), daughter of Charles VII. She may have received it as a wedding gift upon her marriage in 1452 to Jean, Count of Clermont, who would become Duke of Bourbon in 1456. The coats of arms sprinkled throughout the Book of Hours reveal Jeanne de France’s ownership as well as the fact that after her death the Duke of Bourbon re-gifted the manuscript to his next wife, Catherine d’Armagnac. Continue reading