JEAN WAUQUELIN (fl.1428-1452). Chroniques de Hainaut, as abbreviated by JEAN MANSEL (1400/1-1473/4) for his Fleur des Histoires, in French, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[Flanders, probably Bruges, c.1475]
372 x 275mm. 144 leaves: apparently originally 1-138, 149(?ix a singleton), 15-178, 187(of 8, lacking viii) and lacking two further gatherings at end, original foliation in red, two columns of 31 lines written in brown ink in a lettre bâtarde between four verticals and 32 horizontals ruled in pink, justification: 246 x 76-12-76mm, rubrics in red, text capitals touched yellow, paraphs alternately burnished gold flourished black and blue flourished red, three- to five-line initials of burnished gold against grounds and infills of blue and dark pink decorated with white penwork and many with sprays of blue and pink flowers on hairline tendrils into the margin, line-endings of pink and blue and sometimes gold, EIGHT LARGE ARCH-TOPPED MINIATURES the first accompanied by a full-page border of sprays of fruit, flowers and blue and gold acanthus interspersed with gold dots on hairline tendrils, NINE COLUMN-WIDE MINIATURES (spots or stains in margins of a few folios, the darkest in the lower margins of 85v and 86, some wear and smudging to border of opening folio, rubbing to the legs of two soldiers on f.71v and the initial on f.48). Gold-tooled green morocco, sides panelled with the Botfield arms at the centre, wide turn-ins with elaborate border, vellum doublures, gilt edges, by C. Smith, stamped on front flyleaf (some scuffing of lower edge of upper cover).
THE ONLY INDEPENDENT COPY OF THE CHRONIQUES KNOWN IN PRIVATE OWNERSHIP: EXCEPTIONALLY COMBINING THE ABBREVIATED VERSION OF THE TEXT WITH A RICH CYCLE OF ILLUSTRATION
1. The style of the illumination suggests that the book was made in Bruges, where there was a thriving market in luxuriously illustrated secular texts.
2. Neat marginal annotations in various 15th- and 16th-century hands show that the book remained in the southern Netherlands for some time.
3. Beriah Botfield: his coat of arms on the binding.
Jean Wauquelin (fl.1428-1452), Chroniques de Hainaut, as abbreviated by Jean Mansel (1400/1-1473/4) for his Fleur des Histoires, opening Cy commencent les croniques en brief de hainau quon nomina jadis le royaume de belges. Et premierement le prologue: Pour aucunem[en]t avoir cognoissa[n]ce des histoires et daucuns autres pays et citez prochains et voisins....: Volume I, Books 1-7 ff.1-120v; Volume II, Chapters 1-9, lacking final seven chapters ff.121-144.
Jean Wauquelin of Mons began his three-volume translation of the Latin Annales Hannoniae by Jacques de Guise (d.1399) in 1446. In 1447 Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, personally approved the text of the first volume, and the final volume was delivered to him by Wauquelin's widow in 1453. Volume I of this dedication copy (Brussels, KBR, Mss 9242-9244) opens with one of the most famous miniatures of the 15th century, attributed to Rogier van der Weyden, showing the presentation of the book to Philip: see C. Van den Bergen-Pantens ed., Les Chroniques de Hainaut ou les Ambitions d'un Prince Bourguignon, Turnhout, 2000, for this and other manuscripts of the text. Philip's seizure of the counties of Hainault, Holland and Zeeland from his cousin, Jacqueline of Bavaria, had been finalised in 1433 so that he was directly concerned with the long traditions of Hainault, especially when Wauquelin's prologue cast him as the legitimate heir of the Trojan founders.
Jean Mansel at Hesdin produced the first version of his popular universal history, the Fleur des Histoires, in 1446-1451. Two copies of this include an abbreviation of Wauquelin's Chroniques de Hainaut: one owned by Philip the Good (KBR ms 9231, vol. I) and one made for Antoine de Crèvecoeur (vol. III sold Sotheby's, 17 June 1977, lot 59). Otherwise, the Hainault chronicle is only found in the longer second version of the Fleur des Histoires, compiled by Mansel in the 1460s (see G. Poerck, Introduction à la Fleur des Histoires de Jean Mansel, Ghent, 1936).
It has long been known that Mansel's version of Livy's Roman history achieved an independent circulation, but the independent copies of his Chroniques de Hainaut have previously passed unrecognised. The Botfield copy seems to follow the Crèvecoeur text very faithfully, as does one in Paris, Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal, ms 4026. In his second version of the Fleur des Histoires Mansel included a much fuller adaptation of Wauquelin's prologue. This text is found in two other independent manuscripts of Mansel's Chroniques de Hainaut (Paris, Institut de France, ms 312, and Mons, Bibliothèque publique, UMH 167/155). Mansel's version doubtless appealed because it omitted much that did not bear directly on Hainault reducing Wauquelin's lengthy original to a compact, manageable text.
Mansel kept the seven books of Wauquelin's Volume I in 48 chapters and then greatly compressed Volumes II and III into a second volume of 16 chapters, not divided into books. By analogy with the Crèvecoeur Fleur and the Arsenal manuscript, the Botfield copy has probably lost two gatherings with the final seven chapters and a list of the Counts of Hainault, compiled in 1450. The contemporary foliation suggests that the book originally opened with a list of contents, as found in the Arsenal manuscript. It is unlikely that the missing sections included any miniatures.
This unpublished manuscript of the Chroniques is the only independent copy known to be in private ownership.
The illuminations are by the Master of the Vienna Chronicles of England, named from a copy of Jean de Wavrin's Chroniques d'Angleterre (Vienna, ÖNB cod.2534). The Master was active in Bruges in the 1470s and 1480s and his work attracted some of the greatest bibliophiles in the Netherlands: a second set of the Chroniques d'Angleterre was owned by Louis of Gruuthuse, whose famous library passed to Louis XII of France (Paris, BnF mss fr.74-85 and 87), and Engelbert of Nassau owned a History of Alexander (Oxford, Bodleian Library Laud. misc. 751). His style is based on that of Loyset Liédet, Charles the Bold's favoured illuminator for secular manuscripts, who was responsible for the miniatures in the third volume of the ducal copy of Wauquelin's Chroniques de Hainaut (KBR ms 9244).
In the miniatures of the present manuscript, as in the Vienna Chroniques d'Angleterre, the Master uses rich colours enhanced by liquid gold and elongated figures, where exaggeratedly angular male postures are contrasted with smoothly elegant females. The marriage scenes in the two manuscripts are particularly close, compare f.121 here with f.303 in the Chroniques d'Angleterre (see O. Pächt and D. Thoss, Die illuminierten Handschriften und Inkunabeln der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek. Flämische Schule II, Vienna, 1990, pp.39-45, figs 51-68). This manuscript seems slightly later in date from the costume and from the greater balance between figures and spacious landscapes or townscapes with plunging perspectives.
The opening miniature to Volume I is a variant of the upper portion of the corresponding miniature in the Crèvecoeur Fleur des Histoires, f.625, attributed to the Mansel Master, and similar in content to that in Philip the Good's copy (KBR ms 9231, f.307) attributed to Simon Marmion. Both of these were probably produced under Mansel's supervision, but it does not seem that Mansel envisaged the extensive illustrative programme found here. The Crèvecoeur copy has one other miniature, encapsulating the events of Volume II; the Arsenal copy of the independent Mansel Chroniques de Hainaut has only one miniature, also by the Master of the Vienna Chronicles of England. The Botfield manuscript uniquely approaches the wealth of illustration in the original copy of the Chroniques made for Philip the Good.
After Charles the Bold's death in January 1477, Louis XI's invading armies gave a new urgency to interest in Hainault's history, since the French had no legal rights in a county which was part of the Holy Roman Empire. This richly illustrated copy of a text much in vogue at the Burgundian court may date from that time.
The subjects of the miniatures are as follows:
f.1 Priam and the Trojans land from their ships at the left and follow a white wolf leading them to the land promised to Bavo by Jupiter; towards the background, beyond a temple containing the golden idol, image of Trevera founder of Trier, the new city of Belges is being constructed (large miniature for Book I).
f.7v King Brunehault overseeing the breaking of stones for making roads leading from Belges to the boundaries of the kingdom (I, ch.5).
f.17 After defeating King Andengier in battle Lisebrand, accompanied by his counsellors, watches as a swordsman lops off the defeated and stripped monarch's arm (I, ch.7).
f.21 The siege of the city of Morienne in France by King Ursus (large miniature for Book II).
f.31v Battle between two armies of mounted knights, the engagement between King Leopardus and the soldiers of Servius Tullius (II, ch.4)
f.37v Battle between the Belgians and the forces of Tarquin, son of Tarquin the Proud, a foreground battling pair of foot soldiers, mounted troops behind (II, ch.7)
f. 42 Kings Brenius and Belinus give the exiled Duke Messine a fleet with which he will sail to found a new town of Belges (large miniature for Book III)
f.48 Taurus and his army fight to subdue the Carbonnière forest for the maiden Lirope (III, ch.4)
f.51v A battle, probably between Ansigorix of Saxony and the citizens of Belges and Tongres (III, ch.6)
f.57v King Taynard of Belges watches the slaughter of the High Priest (III, ch.8)
f.61 Troops firing walled towns, so that they will have no possibility of abandoning their rebellion against Rome and returning home (large miniature for Book IV)
f.71 Julius Caesar and his army defeat the troops of King Ursaire, who is killed before Belges (IV, ch.5)
f.87v King Ambiorix gives battle to the Romans (IV, ch.11)
f.95v The towns destroyed by Julius Caesar are rebuilt with Octavian's permission (large miniature for Book V).
f.104v The Saxons have rebelled and hang any Romans they find from gibbets and trees (large miniature for Book VI)
f.114v Numerianus, sent by Commodus to repress the revolt, is killed before Mainz (large miniature for Book VII).
f.121v King Octavie of Britain watches his daughter and heiress marry Maximian of Rome (large miniature for Volume II, ch.1)