Fifteen Leaves from History of Charles Martel
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Pol Fruit, illuminator; Loyset Liédet, illuminator
Flemish, Brussels and Bruges, 1463 - 1465 and 1467 - 1472
Tempera colors, gold leaf, gold paint, and ink on parchment


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Over a period of three years, court scribe David Aubert wrote a four-volume work in French titled Histoire de Charles Martel. It totals four thousand pages and tells the story of Charles Martel (r. 719 to 741), Charlemagne's grandfather. Late medieval knights undoubtedly enjoyed reading the adventures of such earlier heroes, and they would have drawn inspiration from Charles's exploits. Philip the Good, duke of Burgundy, commissioned this enormous manuscript for his already sumptuously endowed library of more than seven hundred volumes, one of the great libraries of the 1400s.

Several years after Philip's death, the illumination of this extravagant undertaking had barely begun. In 1468 ducal accounts show payments to Pol Fruit of Bruges for painting the initials in the third volume. A year or so later, Philip's son and heir Duke Charles the Bold hired Loyset Liédet to paint the book's 123 miniatures. Court accounts record that Liédet received his final payment in 1472, showing that the entire manuscript took almost a decade to complete.

The four volumes of the book, with 101 of the original miniatures, belong to the Royal Library in Brussels, which acquired the core of Philip the Good's library. Fifteen leaves with half-page miniatures, removed in the 1700s, are part of the Getty Museum's collection.

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