Paris, Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal, Ms 5070

Boccaccio's Decameron Facsimile Edition

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The Paris manuscript of Boccaccio's Decameron was so much more than just another example of the "collections of tales" genre that had preceded it both in Europe as in the Eastern tradition that, however many models we may compare it with, this still fails to explain the impressive fresh moderm feel of the manuscript and the great pleasure produced by contemplating its extraordinary miniatures. The work is beyond a shadow of a doubt a genuine Renaissance treasure. In the 18th century it belonged to the library of Marquis de Paulmy, founder of the Arsenal de Paris, the library where it is kept today. The Marquis de Paulmy received this as a form of legacy from his uncle the Count d´Argenson, who was Louis XV's minister of war and a keen bibliophile. In 1748, during the war of the Austrian succession, he visited the Bourgogne Library in Brussels and brought to Paris a certain number of prestigious manuscripts, one of which was this extraordinary Decameron, which he had bound in olive coloured leadther with the coat of arms, the binding still kept today Ms 5070 of the library of the Arsenal of Paris, is doubtlessly the most important manuscript Boccaccio´s Decameron of all the ones kept. It does not contain the Italian version of the text, but its first translation in French, written around 1414 by the great French humanist Laurent de Premierfait. The manuscript is properly documented, it was copied around 1445-1450 by copiyst Guillebert de Mets, in Gramont, eastern Flanders for Duke of Bourgogne Philippe Le Bon, a great collector and book lover. We know that the first of the two artits who illustrated the manuscript was of Flemish origin,working in Touani and in Lille during the decade from 1430 to 1440, specialising in books of its fine style with Italianisms. The second artists whose named Jean Mansel, remarkable for the delicacy of his colours, and could seemingly have worked in Amiens. The black plague, the Great Western Schism, the rivalries between feudal lords,the crusades, the incipient urban burqueoisie, all form a lively tapestry in which moralistic sermons and more easygoing customs all combine. This context whith saw the emergence of wath is, according to Vittore Branca, the most important work in the universal Literature and the one with greatest influence on today's times: Boccacio's Decameron.

Binding description

Original binding in olive coloured leadther with the coat of arms.

We have 1 facsimile edition of the manuscript "Boccaccio's Decameron": El Decamerón de Boccaccio facsimile edition, published by Scriptorium, 2009

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Manuscript book description compiled by the publisher.

El Decamerón de Boccaccio

Valencia: Scriptorium, 2009

  • Commentary (English abstract, Spanish) by Muzerelle, Danielle; Tesnière, Marie-Hélène
  • Limited Edition: 390
  • Full-size color reproduction of the entire original document, Boccaccio's Decameron: the facsimile attempts to replicate the look-and-feel and physical features of the original document; pages are trimmed according to the original format; the binding might not be consistent with the current document binding.

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