Treatise on the Game of Chess

Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional de España, MS Vit. 25-6


+39 333 9860 410

Illuminated Facsimiles

Treatise on the Game of Chess

Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional de España, MS Vit. 25-6

ALTERNATIVE TITLES – Tractatus de Ludo Scacorum – Trattato sul Gioco degli Scacchi – Traité sur le Jeu d’Échecs – Tratado sobre el Juego del Ajedrez – Abhandlung über das Schachspiel.
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION – Codex on parchment, dimensions 175 x 115 mm, 100 pp.
BINDING – Leather cover with impressed decorations and lettering on the boards and spine.
ORIGIN – Czech Republic (Prague).
DATING – First quarter of the 15th century.
PROVENANCE AND PRESENT REPOSITORY – In the 18th century, the manuscript belonged to the Spanish cardinal Francisco Javier de Zelada (b. 1717, d. 1801), Vatican librarian from 1779 until his death. In 1798, Zelada – who was a passionate book collector – donated his rich collection to the Biblioteca Capitular in Toledo. During the First Spanish Republic, the patrimony of the Biblioteca Capitular was confiscated and passed to the provincial library of Toledo. At the beginning of the Restoration, part of the collection was returned to the Biblioteca Capitular, but the Tractatus de Ludo Scacorum – together with other manuscripts – was transferred to the Biblioteca Nacional de España in Madrid, where it can still be found today under the shelfmark MS Vit. 25-6. The name «F. Innocent Roman» on f. 47r indicates a probable owner, predating Cardinal Zelada.
GENRE – Treatises / Secular books, Games.
CONTENT – In the 14th century, the Dominican friar Jacopo da Cessole (b. ?, d. post 1322) wrote the «Liber de moribus hominum et officiis nobilium sive super ludum scaccorum», a moral treatise based on the game of chess. Some scholars believe that MS Vit. 25-6 in the Biblioteca Nacional de España contains an abbreviated version of this treatise. The manuscript does indeed contain a treatise on the game of chess with a moralising tone. However – despite the link to Jacopo da Cessole’s work – other scholars believe the source to be different.
SCRIPT – Gothic.
DECORATION – The rich illustrative apparatus of the codex consists of 15 illuminated folios, some full-page, with one or more scenes.
EXTERNAL LINKS – Biblioteca Nacional De España (descriptive sheet), Biblioteca Digital Hispánica (digitised manuscript).

Data sheet: Illuminated Facsimiles

del, Schachbuch


Full-size color reproduction of the entire original document – The facsimile reproduces as close as possible the physical characteristics of the original document, with the aim to substitute it in the scientific research and in the libraries of the bibliophile collectors. Trimming and composition of the leaves reproduce the profile and structure of the original document. The binding might not correspond to that of the original document as it appears at the present moment.
Publisher and distribution – Siloé, arte y bibliofilia (Burgos, 2008). In Italy, the facsimile was distributed by ArtCodex.
Limited edition – 898 copies.
Certificate of authenticity – Certificate with the copy number attached to the colophon of the facsimile.
Writing support material – Special aged like-parchment paper.
Binding – Binding corresponding to that of the original document, with the addition of a metal clasp.
Commentary – Commentary volume in Spanish, size 22.50 x 15 cm, 375 pages. Texts by Miguel Hermoso Cuesta and Joaqín Pérez de Arriaga.
Slipcase – Wooden slipcase with glass top shelf.

Copyright photos: ArtCodex

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Siloé arte y bibliofilia