Pierre Sala’s Little Book of Love

Summer has come and if you are feeling romantic I have just the manuscript for you! It is Pierre Sala’s Little Book of Love, a jewel of Renaissance.

What better way to celebrate romanticism than with a book about love!

Who was Pierre Sala?

Here’s a little about him.

Pierre Sala was born in 1457 in Lyon, son of an old wealthy family of the Lyon bourgeoisie. Starting from the 1480 he was at the service of the French royal family, with his first “employer” being Charles VII, King of France. In this line of work Sala had the chance to travel a lot, undertaking a number of journeys that led him as far as the Ottoman Empire. Under Louis XII and Francis I he was first valet de chambre and later shield bearer.

In 1514 he finally settled down in Lyon, his hometown, where, in 1522, he was paid a personal visit by the king himself – an honor he would be proud of until his death in 1529.

Double page opening of Pierre Sala's Little Book of Love
Double page opening of Pierre Sala’s Little Book of Love

The Little Book of Love

Pierre Sala’s Le Petit Livre d’Amour is justly considered an interesting manuscript. This is because, although the book seems to have been presented to Pierre’s loved one Marguerite while he was still courting and although it begins with a dedication describing the relationship between the author and the woman of his heart, the work features some passages that, with their slightly hinted irony and underlying resignation, betray a rather pessimistic view of the world and of society.

At the same time, however, this book represents a respectful love which even though not fulfilled, achieves happiness, while still hoping for a response, thus giving a message of hope. There is an alternating perspective, which, if you think about it, represents the human nature at its core, love and hate, light and darkness, yin and yang, etc.

Double-page opening of Le Petite Livre d'Amour
Double-page opening of Le Petite Livre d’Amour

The core of the work is composed of twelve iconologues thus forming an entity of picture and text. All miniature pages are laid out in a uniform rectangle frame and they go back to the Master of the Chronique scandaleuse who worked in Paris from 1493 to 1510.

You can now watch a high definition video of the facsimile edition of the Little Book of Love in our Take a Break from the Present video series! Make sure to check out our YouTube channel!