ALTERNATIVE TITLES – Bibbia dei Crociati – Bibbia di Luigi IX – Salterio Maciejowski – Crusader Bible – Morgan Crusader’s Bible – Bible of Louis IX – Shah Abbas Bible – Book of Kings – Bible de Maciejowski – Bible Morgan de Louis IX – Livre des Rois – Bible des Croisades – Biblia de los Cruzados – Biblia del Sah Abás – Bíblia de Luís IX – Kreuzritterbibel Ludwigs des Heiligen – Kreuzritter Bibel – Maciejowski-Bibel – Kreuzfahrerbibel – Buch der Könige – Livro dos Reis – Библия Мациевского.
FEATURES – Codex on parchment, 390 x 295 mm, 92 pp.
BINDING – The manuscript doesn’t maintain its original binding: indeed it was bound several times starting from the 13th century.
ORIGIN – France: Paris.
CHRONOLOGY – 13th century: 1250 ca.
PATRONAGE – The Crusader Bible has long been associated with Louis IX (1214-1270), King of France from 1226 to the year of his death. He is commonly known as Saint Louis or Louis the Saint. Indeed he was canonized in 1297 by Pope Boniface VIII, and it is because of his reputation as a devout king that many French sovereigns after him will be called Louis. Despite its luxury suggests an high patronage, there is no documentary evidence that the Bible was actually commissioned by Louis IX. This doesn’t exclude the fact that he owned the manuscript, and that it passed to his brother Charles of Anjou (1226–1285).
SUBSEQUENT OWNERS – This unrivaled Gothic masterpiece can claim a captivating and intricate provenance. In the 16th century it became part of the private collection of Bernard Maciejowski (1548-1608), Polish nobleman and Catholic Church leader. He is the first documented owner, because for many centuries we have no records of the Bible. Maciejowski’s property of the manuscript is stated by an inscription in Latin language on f. 1r: «Potentissimo Persarum Regi Bernardus Macieuskius […] veram felicitatem exoptans offert […]» (Bernard Maciejowski with sincere wishes offers this gift to the supreme King of the Persians). Indeed in 1604 Maciejowski gave the manuscript as a gift to Abbas I (1571-1629), the 5th Safavid Shah of Persia, commonly known as Abbas the Great. Abbas had the Persian inscriptions added in the margins of the manuscript. Over the following centuries, the manuscript belonged to many collectors and merchants: Giovanni d’Athanasi (Greek collector and merchant of Egyptian antiquities), Sydney Cockerell (British art collector), Peter Ludwig (founder of the Museum Ludwig in Cologne), Payne & Foss (two antiquarian booksellers from London), Sir Thomas Phillips (English antique dealer and collector), Thomas Fitzroy Fenwick (nephew of Sir Thomas Phillips), John Pierpont Morgan Jr. (American banker, heir of the J.P. Morgan & Co).
CURRENT LOCATION – The manuscript is owned by The Morgan Library & Museum (New York), but some folios are kept elsewhere: the Biblothèque Nationale de France (Paris) owns two folios, and The Getty Museum (Los Angeles) owns one folio.
GENRE – Christianity; Bibles / Gospels.
CONTENT – The Crusader Bible illustrates about 346 biblical episodes (from: Genesis, Exodus, Joshua, Judges, Ruth and Samuel), focusing on some significant figures in the history of Israel (Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Samson, Samuel, Saul, Jonathan and David. The purpose is to present models of sovereigns to avoid or to follow. The setting of the miniatures is that of 13th century France.
LANGUAGE – Originally the Bible had no inscriptions. The Latin inscriptions were added in the 14th century, when the codex went to Italy. Shah ʿAbbās I the Great had the Persian inscriptions added in the 17th century. The inscriptions in Hebrew-Persian date back to the 18th century.
DECORATION – The corpus of miniatures is impressive: 340 episodes allocated on 92 pages.
ARTISTS – Seven artists worked on the manuscript, but no works by them are known other than the Bible. We can distinguish a master artist: he made the most part of the miniatures and above all he coordinated the whole design, lending an overall stylistic unity.
STYLE – Gothic.
EXTERNAL LINKS – The Morgan Library & Museum (digitized manuscript) – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (ff. 43-44) – Getty Museum Collection (f. 45).
Data sheet: Illuminated Facsimiles
Full-size colour reproduction of all the fragments of the original document which once formed a single document. The facsimile reproduces as close as possible the codicological characteristics of the original document. The binding might not correspond to that of the original document as it appears at the present moment.
Publisher – Salerno Editrice (Rome, 1998). Co-edition with: Faksimile Verlag (Lucerne/Munich, 1998); Editorial Casariego (Madrid).
Series – Codices Mirabiles.
Limited edition – 980 copies.
Binding – Bound in veal leather by the Burkhardt bookbinders (Mönchaltore/Zürich).
Commentary (Italian) – Weiss, Daniel H.; Voelkle, William M.; Cockerell, Sydney C.; Lupu, Eran; Babaie, Sussan; Basch Moreen, Vera; Cuna, Andrea.
Slipcase – Issued in a plexiglas splipcase.
ISBN – 88-8402-258-4 (facsimile); 88-8402-285-1 (commentary).
Copyright photos: Illuminated Facsimiles