King René's Tournament Book

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Watercolour, probably by Barthélemy d'Eyck, from King René's Tournament Book

Le Livre des tournois ("tournament book"; Traicte de la Forme de Devis d'un Tournoi) by René d'Anjou of ca. 1460 describes rules of a tournament.

The most famous, and earliest, of the many manuscript copies is kept in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris (MS Fr 2695). This is, unusually for a de luxe manuscript, on paper, and painted in watercolour. It may represent drawings by Barthélemy d'Eyck, intended as preparatory only, which were later illuminated by him or another artist. Barthélemy worked for René. There are twenty-six full and double page miniatures.

The description given in the book is different from that of the pas d'armes held at Razilly and Saumur; conspicuously absent are the allegorical and chivalresque ornamentations that were in vogue at the time. René instead emphasizes he is reporting on ancient tournament customs of France, Germany and the Low Countries, combining them in a new suggestion on how to hold a tournament.

The tournament described is a melee fought by two sides. Individual jousts are only briefly mentioned.

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References[edit]

  • Noël Coulet, Alice Planche, and Françoise Robin, Le roi René: le prince, le mécène, l'écrivain, le mythe, Aix-en-Provence, Édisud, 1982
  • Susan Wharton, Le livre du cuer d'amours espris, Paris: Union Générale d'Éditions, 1980.

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