Ghent, Universiteitsbibliotheek, 6

La grant histoire de Tristran (title in rubric, p. 2)

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General information

Folio notes:The folios are paginated rather than foliated. The pagination runs from 1 (f. 1ra) to 593 (the first and second guardleaves at the back have also been paginated). For sake of reference, I will refer to the folios using their modern pagination.
LanguageFrench - Unspecified localisation or influence
Approx. date?1470 to 1480
Date notesBased on the frontispiece which has been attributed to Loyset Liédet or one of his followers. (Wijsman 2010, 354).
Place(s) of productionBruges
Based on the frontispiece.
First words of second recto folio[p. 5] or prendez garde que vous en ferez . Qua(n)t le roy vit /
First words of last recto folio[p. 589] v(ost)re couroux ne vous y vault pensez de vous resconforter /
Incipit[p. 2] Cy commence la grant histoire de Tristran quon ap / pelle le bret La quelle histoire messire luces de gant et / messire hellys de borron translaterent de latin en francois / Et appellerent entre eulx deux co(m)munement cestuy liure . / Le liure du bret pour ce que bret est autretant a dire co(m)me / maistre Et dirent que ce liure est maisyre sur tous les / autres liures qui ont este extraiz du roy artus et de tous / les compaignons de la table reonde dont ce liure traitte or / donneement de lung aprez lautre Et dis premierement / messire luces tant co(m)me il vesqui sy briefment comme / vous orez Et commenca en telle maniere . [p. 3] Apres la passion de Jhesucrist joseph darimathie vint / en la grande bretaigne par le commandement de / nostreseigneur (et) crestienna moult grant partie des habitans . Joseph auoit vn serourge nomme Bron / lequel auoit vn filz . Un jour vint a joseph et luy / dist . Sire iay vn filz bien voudroie q(ue) deulx sceussiez quele chose / ilz voudront faire . Joseph tantost leur demanda et ilz respondi / rent que marier se voloient . excepte le xiie quil dist q(ue) voloit demou / rer vierge et seruir au sainct graal . [...] /
Explicit[p. 589] L A roine yseut qui scauoit tous les parleme(n)s / quj estoie(n)t entre le roy et andret . veult a a(n)dret / sy tresgra(n)t mal que selle lauoit mis a mort / a ses mains Il ne luy est pas aduis quelle fust bien / de luy vengie . Et qua(n)t elle voit et cognoit quelle ne / se peut vengier dandret . Elle prie a dieu ta(n)t co(mm)e elle / peut que T(ristram) reuiengne quj bien en scaura prendre / vengeance qua(n)t temz sera / Et ata(n)t laisse le conte a parler du roy / marcq et dela royne yseut et dandret / et rourne a T(ristram) pour co(n)ter p(ar)tie de ses / auentures en alla(n)t p(ar) le royame de logres / Cest lafin de la p(re)miere partoe des histoires / de tristram qui se diro(n)t en quattre .


Material:mixed vellum and paper
Watermark:Coat of arms, crowned, with three fleurs de lys above letter 't'. Height: 85 mm; width: 37 mm; distance between chainlines: 41 mm. Similar watermarks in paper from Cologne, Dorpat, Arnhem, Nijmegen, Freiburg, Baden Baden, dated between 1466 and 1492. The watermark in the first flyleaf at the back of the manuscript is probably near-contemporary, The motif, a letter 'P' with forked descender (height: 54 mm, width: 24 mm, distance between chainlines: 36 mm) was extremely popular and widely used during the 1470s and 1480s with some examples coming from Ghent.
Condition:The manuscript is made up of paper quires. Between pages two and four one vellum folio with painted frontispiece has been inserted. The paper is generally in good condition, except for some pages (e.g. p. 49, p. 72, p. 131, p. 133, p. 265, p. 287, p. 288, p. 289, p. 311, p. 409) of which the edges are ratty. These damaged folios often occur at the beginning or end of the quire. Page 431-432 was damaged because a small part of the page (a few letters of two lines) was stuck to the next page. This part was torn and still sticks onto p. 433. Some folios have become detached from the quires. The binding is in bad condition and the front plate risks to become detached from the spine.



1-2412 256

Quire structure:The manuscript is made up of regular sexternions, except for the final quire which is a quire of six folios. The frontispiece (p. 3-4) has been inserted into the first quire between p. 2 and p. 5. The page numbering skips p. 557-558.
Quire marks:none
Catchword disposition:verso of the final leaf of the quire, lower right-hand corner, framed

Physical description

General description:The parchment folio with the frontispiece has been inserted between the first paper folio (p. 1-2) with the rubricated titulus (in the same hand as the rest of the manuscript) and the third folio (p. 3-4). It has been copied by a different scribe, strongly suggesting that it was produced seperately from the rest of the manuscript. This might justify treatment as a different manuscript part were it not that it is impossible to ascertain that this procedure was not intentional and part of the original workflow. In any event, the insertion of the beautifully illustrated and decorated vellum folio, considerably upgraded the appearance of what otherwise would have been a plain, be it skillfully written copy.
No. of illustrations:1
General illustration:The manuscript opens with a frontispiece (p. 3) which consist of a large painted miniature followed by a decorated initial and a painted full border. The miniature, which has been attributed to Loys Liédet or one of his followers represents stages from the lives of Sadoc and Chelinde (cf. Van Hoecke 1987, 250). Foregrounded is Sadoc's meeting with Chelinde, in the background, to the right Sadoc is represented chasing the wild boar and to the left the young man is thrown overboard after being judged the reason of a terrible storm. Elements of dress, such as the short doublet and even more specifically the pointed hennin point suggest dating in the final quarter of the fifteenth century. The image is framed in a double border, the inner part of which is scarlet, the outer part is guilt. Both borders are traced with black ink. The border is decorated with buttercups, pansies, strawberries, blackberries and acanthus and inhabited by two male figures, a dog and a peacock. Centered in the lower margin is a coat of arms, with a black chevron pointing upwards on a field of gules in the upper left corner a smaller coat quartered with the arms of Flanders in the upper left and lower right corner and yellow and red diamonds in the other quarters. This coat has been identified as the coat of arms of Jacob II of Gistel, Lord of Dudzele and Straten (Van Acker, 1973). The text opens with a decorated initial, black with gold flourishings on a field of blue with white flourishings, the eye painted scarlet and decorated with white flourishings (height: 5 lines).
General decoration:Major subdivisions of the narrative (usually connected to 'En ceste partie' or 'Or dist li conte') are indicated by large puzzle initials (height: 6 lines) with flourishings in red and blue ink. Two large pen-decorated initials (height: 5 lines) alternatingly blue and red with flourishings in the contrasting colour in the middle of the manuscript perform the same function (p. 255, p. 268). As from p. 320 the system returns to the normal puzzle initials. However, at the end of the manuscript (p. 495, p. 516, p. 546, p. 547, p. 558, p. 566) only pen-decorated initials are found. Smaller subdivisions are indicated by smaller pen-flourished initials (height: 3 lines) also alternating between blue and red with flourishings in the other colour. In the text, the start of clauses, also names (especially the .T. abbreviation for Tristan) and numbers are highlighted with yellow ink. Paragraph signs, alternatingly blue and red, are used as overflow marks. Line filling devices include a series of tildes in brown ink. The verse interlude (p. 289 to p. 292) opens with a large blue initial 'I' decorated with red pen-flourisings. The initial letter of each quatrain is highlighted with yellow ink. The verse sequence in p. 376 to p. 379 opens with a two-line initial. Otherwise the treatment is the same as the previous section in verse. The short verse section on p. 531-532 opens with a two-line initial but in this instance the initial letter of each line is highlighted. This is also the case in the verse sequence on p. 535-536. In the verse section on p. 540-545, all initial letters are highlighted but the quatrain structure is visualised by the use of lines which have been left blank after each quatrain.
Evidence of readership:Some annotations on the recto side of f. 1. folio (15th c.) 'Je nen puis hors en / breonz' and 'Jacques ?h?.?l/f?.?s?'. On the verso side of the first flyleaf at the end of the manuscript a 15th-century hand has written a four-line poem (cf. endpapers).
Foliations description:A modern hand has paginated the manuscript in arabic numerals (only uneven numbers) in the top right corner of the recto side of the folio.

Mise en page

Description 1
Page sampledp. 13
Page dimensions383x280 (mm)
Justification245x165 (mm)
0mm between columns
Column ruling present in brown (Ink )
Line ruling present in brown (Ink )
RubricationRed ink is only used for decorated initials. A rubricated titulus introduces the manuscript (p. 2).
Writing above top line?False
Sample page layout:


Level of Execution:Libraria
ScriptCursiva (Bastarda)
Folio rangeFrom p. 1 to p. 2
Datec. 1475
Scribe description:The hand on the vellum folio is not the same as that of the rest of the manuscript. This becomes clear in the form of the letter 'a' which is markedly less angular than that in the rest of the manuscript, and the different use of hairlines. The fusion of round 'd' and 'a' and the use of a tironian note as abbreviation for 'et' are both absent from the rest of the copy. In this hand 'l', 'h' and 'b' generally have looped ascenders, which would justify a classification as cursiva rather than hybrida.

Level of Execution:Libraria
Folio rangeFrom p. 5 to p. 589
Datec. 1475
Scribe description:In this hand, looped 'l' occurs frequently next to an unlooped variant, which suggests semihybrida rather than cursiva.


DescriptionProbably commissioned by Jacob II of Gistel, Lord of Dudzele (near Bruges) and Straten. Executed by the city of Bruges on 8 March 1488.
Datec. 1475
PlaceBruges (City in Belgium)
Ownershipof Gistel, Jacob, Jacob II of Gistel, Lord of Dudzele
DescriptionConvent of Saint Bavo, Ghent?
PlaceGhent (City in Belgium)
Ownershipof Saint-Bavo, Convent, Convent of Saint-Bavo (Sint-Baafsabdij)