Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Urb. lat. 376

Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy Facsimile Edition

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The Roman de la Rose (Romance of the Rose) is a thirteenth-century allegorical poem in Old French about the art of love. Written in octosyllabic couplets, the Roman was begun by Guillaume de Lorris around 1230 but broke off after around 4,000 verses, apparently because the poet died prematurely.

A veritable Manual of Courtly Love

The poem is narrated in the first person. The Lover recounts a dream he had about entering a walled garden and falling in love with a rose that grew there. In the garden, he meets many allegorical characters who represent feelings, virtues and vices: some try to help him attain his desire, others to stop him.

Eventually, with the help of the God of Love and Venus, he prevails over the rose's guardians and kisses the flower, only to see it imprisoned by Jealousy in a tower.

The Subsequent Work of Jean de Meun

This story has inspired many generations of lovers, poets and artists. In 1280, Jean de Meun, or Meung (1250-1305) completed the poem by adding another 18,000 lines. The style is quite different from Lorris's.

The story of the quest for the rose is continuously interrupted by digressions in which Reason (personified by a lady) discourses with the Lover about nature, marriage, wealth, freedom, and other matters discussed in those days.

In this veritable encyclopedia of medieval knowledge, de Meun does not hesitate to take issue with the negative aspects of life and love. He lambastes women, mocks men, questions power, clergymen, and monks, and praises nature, which for him prevails over any convention. It's very clear that he enjoys bawdiness and double entendres.

Shortly after 1400, a fierce debate about the Roman broke out in the literary world. This was the first great literary dispute in the western world about what was the most famous erotic book of the time.

We have 1 facsimile edition of the manuscript "Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy": Der Rosenroman des Berthaud d’Achy facsimile edition, published by Belser Verlag, 1987

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Manuscript book description compiled by Facsimile Finder Staff.
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Der Rosenroman des Berthaud d’Achy

Zurich: Belser Verlag, 1987

  • Commentary (German) by König, Eberhard
  • Limited Edition: 600 copies
  • Full-size color reproduction of the entire original document, Romance of the Rose of Berthaud d'Achy: 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.

Facsimile and commentary volume issued in a box.

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