The Visions of the Knight Tondal tells the story of a wealthy and errant Irish knight, whose soul goes on a journey through Hell and Paradise with an angel for a guide. As a result of his experience, Tondal is spiritually transformed and vows to lead a more pious life.
Before Dante's Divine Comedy , the story of Tondal was one of the most popular in a long tradition of visionary and moralizing literature. Originally written in Latin in the 1100s by Marcus, an Irish monk in Regensburg, the story was later translated into fifteen vernacular languages.
The Getty Museum's manuscript of Tondal, written by David Aubert, was written in French ( Les Visions du chevalier Tondal ). It was commissioned by Margaret of York, duchess of Burgundy and wife of Charles the Bold. She was one of the most famous patrons of manuscript illuminators in a region that outshone even its rival, the kingdom of France, in its prolific patronage. The illumination is attributed to the French artist Simon Marmion. The Museum's manuscript is the only surviving illuminated copy of the text. In its twenty miniatures Marmion represented an extraordinary world of Paradise and Hell in vivid, often terrifying, but always naturalistic, detail.