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Title:Imagined crusaders: the "Livre d'Eracles" in fifteenth century Burgundian collections
Author(s):Donovan, Erin
Director of Research:Hedeman, Anne D.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Hedeman, Anne D.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Morrison, Elizabeth; Marina, Areli; Fresco, Karen L.
Department / Program:Art & Design
Discipline:Art History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):"Livre d’Eracles"
Jean V of Créquy
Wolfert VI of Borssele
Louis of Gruuthuse
King Edward IV of England
Order of the Golden Fleece
William of Tyre
Historia rerum in partibus transmarinis gestarum
Amiens, Bibiliothèque municipale, Ms. 483 F
Geneva, Bibliothèque de Genève, Ms. fr. 85
Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Ms. fr. 68
London, British Libary, Royal Ms. 15 E i
First Crusade
Second Crusade
Third Crusade
Fourth Crusade
Créquy Master
Simon Marmion
Loyset Liédet
Master of the Getty Froissart
Master of the Flemish Boethius
Master of Edward IV
Abstract:The following study analyzes the conception and reception of the illuminated volumes of the crusade history the "Livre d’Eracles" (hereafter "Eracles") as it was conceived and collected in the fifteenth-century court of Burgundy, centered in the Burgundian Netherlands. It considers four individuals, Jean V of Créquy, Wolfert VI of Borssele, Louis of Gruuthuse, and King Edward IV of England, all of whom moved in the orbit of the fifteenth-century Burgundian dukes, and analyzes how their political activities and art collecting responded to Burgundian crusade ideology and court culture in distinct ways. These knights of Philip the Good’s chivalric Order of the Golden Fleece each owned the same crusade chronicle, the "Eracles", a French translation and continuation of William of Tyre’s twelfth-century crusade chronicle, "Historia rerum in partibus transmarinis gestarum", revived and retranslated into Middle French in the Burgundian Netherlands after over a century of neglect. The "Eracles" and its individualized cycles of images innovatively re-envisioned the crusading past in the guise of the fifteenth-century present for a group of men who responded to the fifteenth-century renewed crusade fervor caused by the contemporary Ottoman invasions with varying levels of commitment. Refining the conception of Burgundian crusading culture, this study reveals it as a creation of interactions among diverse players with independent political agendas, instead of a monolithic ideology imposed by the Duke of Burgundy. My analysis of the "Eracles" within the context of noble and royal collections reveals the complexity of the Burgundian crusade culture in the mid-fifteenth century. Each chapter examines the construction of one of four "Eracles" manuscripts, analyzing their distinctive visual cycles and textual recensions, the context of the libraries in which they resided and considers the historical evidence regarding the lives and practices of their patrons to determine to what extent the "Eracles" echoes their interests in and engagement with the idea of chivalry in general or of the Burgundian crusade in particular. This study demonstrates that each of the four manuscript cycles expresses its patron’s level of engagement with the fifteenth-century crusade in independent and nuanced ways. Jean V of Créquy held a sincere interest in the crusades, choosing the longest and more historical form for his "Eracles text" (Amiens, Bibiliothèque municipale, Ms. 483 F), the Acre continuation, and commissioning an illumination cycle that demonstrates a close reading of the text to create a sophisticated visualization of the chronicle before he personally voyaged to the Holy Land. Despite Wolfert VI of Borssele’s lack of participation in any battles abroad, his densely illuminated and luxurious "Eracles" (Geneva, Bibliothèque de Genève, Ms. fr. 85) visualizes the events surrounding the reclamation of Jerusalem in a way that brings to the fore the contemporary problem of rendering Constantinople into Christian control. Louis of Gruuthuse’s "Eracles" (Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Ms. fr. 68) contains a smaller, rapidly produced illumination cycle; this manuscript functioned like an object d’art, concentrating on chivalric crusading heroes. Edward IV’s royal "Eracles" (London, British Libary, Royal Ms. 15 E i) is a departure from the copies made for Burgundian nobility because the artists who planned its illuminations expressly highlighted English crusading valor and portrayed propagandistically ideal visions of kingship.
Issue Date:2014-01-16
Rights Information:Copyright 2013 Erin Kathleen Donovan
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-01-16
Date Deposited:2013-12

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