The elaboration of this codex took place in the Benedictine Abbey of Saint Bertin, a center of culture and knowledge of the France of the 13th Century.
In the year 1200 they developed their own miniature, with an independent and original style and great quality, thus creating new rules for the Prayer Books, both private and public.
Even though the author of the illustrations is not known, the beautiful miniatures which depict him are part of a style known as the 1200 French Style: characterized by golden backgrounds of Byzantine influence, bright colors and plane figures, though maintaining some Romanic features.
Some experts state that the 45 illuminated pages which decorate this codex were meant to illustrate the preamble of a psalter.
A clear influence of the English psalters is evident, even though the reason for which it was not completed is unknown.
Each illuminated page is divided into four scenes, describing the history of the Old and New Testament, and the life and martyrdoms of the Saints. 172 colored scenes upon golden and silver backgrounds represent the cycle of Salvation, from Adam and Eve in the Eden, to the Final Judgement. In the folio 1v there is a beautiful map of Jerusalem, seeming to be introduced after the work was finished.
The text was included after the realization of the miniatures. Around the 13th Century texts in Latin and French were added. This led some experts to doubt the title of the codex, proposing “Jewish and Christian Chronicles” as the most correct.
This, and the originality of its miniatures, makes this codex a unique specimen.
A beautiful binding in green velvet, dated XVIII Century, with clasps carved with a Greek Cross, protects the pages of the manuscript.
The clear Byzantine influence of the illuminations, as well as the reproaches and complaints agains the court of Rome regarding the Second Crusade, which appear both in the first and the last pages, led some experts and the last owner, Joseph Désirè Lupus, to think that this codex was made for the Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Komnenos “The Great”, famous for his charismatic character and his passion for the West. He gave permission for the two armies of the Second Crusade to pass through his lands. Even though the Byzantine troops tried to control the behavior of the Crusaders, many violent acts were committed between the French and the Greeks. It escalated to the verge of an open conflict with the Emperor Manuel I and the Crusaders.
This manuscript was part of the private collection of Joseph Désirè Lupus (1766-1822) until 1819, date in which king William I bought it. In 1823 it became part of the funds of the National Library of the Netherlands, where it currently remains.