TROIS PRÉCIEUX ROMANS DE CHEVALERIE. Pierre de Provence et Maguelonne. Cleomadès et Cleremonde. Les nobles prouesses des douze pers de France.

Price : 56.000,00 

Volume of the highest interest gathering at that time several chivalry novels illustrated post-incunables in 16th century’s binding including Pierre de Provence et Maguelonne and Cleomadès et la belle Clairemonde.

This edition of 1502 of Pierre de Provence, unknown to all bibliographers and institutions, is therefore listed to this day in a single copy: this one.

1 in stock

SKU: LCS-18271 Categories: ,

I – Pierre de Provence et MaguelonneN.p.n.d. (probably Lyon, Martin Havard, circa 1502).

Cy commence histoire du vaillant chevalier Pierre de Provence et de la belle Maguelonne fille du roy de Naples.

Colophon, p. h4 : Cy fine l’histoire de la belle Maguelonne fille du roi de Naples et de Pierre fils du conte de Provèce.

4to, of 64 pages signed a4-g4, French gothic printing with 31 long lines, title with a large ornemental initial on 5 lines et 1 large engraved woodcut (75 x 58 mm) : Maguelonne meeting Pierre de Provence armed for war, 17 other engraved woodcuts to quarter of page (58 x 45 mm).


Precious illustrated post-incunable edition of this famous chivalry novel discovered and known from this unique copy and thus to this day unknown to all bibliographers and institutions.

[Bound with : ]

II- Adenet le Roi – Cleomadès et Cleremonde.

Lyon, Didier Thomas, 1502.

Le livre de Cleomadès fils du roy despaigne et de la belle Cleremonde fille du roy Cornuant.

Colophon, f.4r : Cy fine l’histoire du noble Cleomadès et de la belle Cleremonde.

Lion’s printed by maistre Didier Thomas L’an mill ccccc deux, le troisiesme jour de may (May, 3rd 1502).

4to of 48 pages signed a4-f4, French gothic post-incunable printing with 30 long lines, title with a large ornemental initial on 6 lines et large engraved woodcut (120 x 90 mm) : Cleomadès and Cleremonde sharing the same horse, repeated at leaf f2 verso.


Only one other copy known to this day, the one of ‘James de Rothschild’. The present copy is therefore the only one in private hands and the only one not washed in an antic binding.

[Bound with:]

III- Les nobles prouesses des douze pers de France.

At the end, leaf 114 recto: Imprimé à Lyon par Martin Havard, lan de grace 1502 le VIIe jour de juillet (7 juillet 1502).

4to of 113 leaves out of 114, bound without title. French gothic printing with 32 long lines, 42 engraved half-page woodcuts, some of them repeated, (100 x 90 mm), large printer mark with his initials interlaced with a love cordat leaf p6r.

Precious Lyonnaise post-incunable edition of one of the most renowned of the chivalry novels discovered by this unique copy printed on July 7th 1502, unknown to this day to all bibliographers and national and international institutions.

Together three precious illustrated post-incunable chivalry novels bound in 1 volume 4to, full brown morocco, covers decorated with branch-like blind-stamped design framing a central decoration of stylized branches/palms, jansenist ribbed spine, former usual restorations at the lower and upper spine’s panels and joints, blue edges. 16th century binding.

188 x 130 mm.

Read more

Description of the three chivalry novels:

I- Pierre de Provence et la belle Maguelonne.

(N.p.n.d., probably Lyon, Martin Havard, circa 1502).

First of all, we must abandon, as a fable invented in the 17th century, the attribution to Bernard de Tréviers, undoubtedly a simple 12th century sculptor, of an original version of Pierre de Provence.

The same applies to the reworking that Petrarch is said to have made during his stay in Montpellier. However, the novel, as preserved in the 15th century, is set in the geopolitical context of the 12th century. Pierre de Provence is, indeed, the son of the Count of Provence and Maguelonne the daughter of the King of Naples. But, in the 15th century, the Count of Provence and the King of Naples were one and the same person: King René, head of the house of Anjou.

Pierre has gone to Naples to study, where he falls in love with Maguelonne. They got engaged, but Pierre wants to see his parents again and Maguelonne leaves with him in secret. On the way, they rest. Maguelonne falls asleep while Pierre contemplates her and then pulls from her friend’s bodice the three rings he had given her, which she had wrapped in a red silk cloth. Attracted by the colour, a bird of prey seizes the bag. In an attempt to take it back, Pierre sails away in a boat and is captured by the Saracens. Maguelonne wakes up abandoned. After many adventures, she founded a hospital for pilgrims in the « Port Sarrasin ». One day, a fish is caught and the three rings are found in its belly. The novel ends after the reunion of the lovers and their marriage.

The base of this anonymous French prose novel may be a legend which justifies the name of the former city of Maguelone, located near Montpellier, or which recalls a pious foundation in this city (the role played in the 11th century by Pierre de Melgueil and his wife Almodis in the history of the island and of the church of Maguelone). The text was very successful, at least under one of its forms, as two versions are known. The first, which dates from the first half of the

15th, is preserved in four manuscripts and was only printed once in Lyon for Barthélemy Buyer, around 1480. The second, shorter edition is found in a single copy, where it is dated 1453. This manuscript (Coburg, Bibi. ducale S IV 2) is the work of a German and presents a double particularity: a juxtaposed Latin translation and marginal German glosses. In fact, « Pierre de Provence » was very popular in Germany, from the 15th century to Romanticism.

This second version was translated into German by Veit Warbeeck for the wedding of Elector John of Saxony and Sibyl of Cleves in 1527. Even in France this edition was printed from about 1485 and was published in no less than twenty different editions until the end of the 16th century. Then, in 1620, the text entered in the famous Blue Library remained there until the end of the 19th century. Pierre de Provence also provided material for a mystery printed around 1529 in Paris by Jean Saint-Denis; for translations into Spanish (Cervantes quotes him twice in « Don Quichotte”), Dutch, Danish, Polish, Greek…

The story of Pierre et Maguelonne reappeared as a recurrent folk theme in the field of popular astronomy in Provence in the 19th century. Mistral’s Memori, Les Lettres de mon moulin written by Alphonse Daudet echoed it: after a crazy race, the beautiful Venus-Maguelonne – the shepherd’s star – meets Saturn-Pierre every seven years for a conjunction, symbolising their union.

Extremely rare illustrated post-incunable edition because discovered by this single copy and remaining unknown to this day by all bibliographers and institutions.

This superb edition of Pierre de Provence et la Belle Maguelonne, illustrated with 18 woodcuts, seems to be a printing from Martin Havard’s workshop, master-printer established in Lyon in 1493, rue Raisin, near Nostre-Dame. The alphabet is to be compared with the one of Fierabras and with the one given by Claudin, copied in part from the one of Pierre le Caron, printer in Paris and private individual to Havard.

[Bound with :]

II- Adenet Le Roi – Cleomadès et Clarmondine.

Lyon, Didier Thomas, 1502.

Le livre de Cleomadès fils du roy despaigne et de la belle Clarmondine fille du roy Cornuant.

« Le texte commence ainsi, au verso même du titre : « En Espaigne avoit une damoiselle, laquelle print, hors du royaulme, a mary le filz du roy de Sardaigne, et fut appellée ycelle damoiselle royne d’Espaigne, et eut nom Doctive, et le roy eut nom Marchaditas… ».

The novel of Cleomades was composed in the last quarter of the 13th century by Adenet le Roi, who borrowed the subject from Byzantine legends. The prose version is, according to Du Verdier (III, 199), the work of Philippe CAMUS, whose Olivier de Castille we have already cited (vol. II, no. 1491) and who is perhaps also the author of Pierre de Provence (vol. II, no. 1497).

The original poem by Adenet le Roi was published by M. van Hasselt (Brussels, 1866, 2 vols. 8vo). (Cat. James de Rothschild describing the only other known copy of this remarkable post-incunabula edition).

Adenet le Roi, Adenet or Adam le Ménestrel, later Le Roi Adam or Le Roi Adenet. We first meet him in the service of the Duke of Brabant and troubadour to Henry III, who made the young man a minstrel: Menestreus au bon duc Henri fui, cil m’aleva et norri Et me fist mon mestier aprendre. But the death of his protector (February, 28, 1261) led the young musician to seek another master, despite the sympathy of Jean and Godefroid, sons of Henry III.

Adam went to Flanders: the first document in the Ghent archives that mentions his name dates back to Christmas 1270. In 1270-1271, he accompanied Gui de Dampierre on the Tunis crusade. During this expedition, which took him across Sicily and the whole of Italy, he received the same salary as Jakemon le panetier or Pieron le tailleur.

Back in Flanders, Adam remained in the service of Count Gui for another thirty years, a friend of parties and minstrels, and a lover of music, literature and fine books. The count travelled often, especially to France, and his minstrel learnt to know and love France and Paris with him.

« Adenet finally undertook, on the advice of Queen Marie and Princess Blanche, widow of an infant of Castile, to tell the story, diverse et merveilleuse, du cheval de fust, the ebony horse, built by Crompart, king of Bougie, and which will carry Cleomadès throughout Europe. The princess had probably collected this story in Spain, where the Arabs must have brought it (see Les Mille et une nuits).

Battles and duels, first contrary loves of Cléomadès and Clarmondine, always reborn adventures, wonderful and ingenious mechanics: here we are in full courtly novel (18 688 flat-rhymed octosyllables, with some lyrical compositions). Using this classic versage in an alert way, Adenet joyfully delivers the long surprise of adventures and fortune shots, without worrying about too much rigor. But in this tale of pure fantasy, which will still charm Jean Froissart, he has nevertheless put a part of his experience, notably memories of his trip to Italy.

A rather original personality, perhaps lacking in strength, but not in relief, Adenet was a man of taste, of delicate sensitivity. He remains, in a sense, a provincial, but he was so with talent. G. Paris said, not without reason, that he was « The last of the great finders of the true Middle Ages».A.H.

A magnificent post-incunable edition of 1502 of an outstanding rarity unknown to Brunet and Deschamps. Brunet describes a Troyes edition « printed before 1502, « very rare and of a great price ». Guy Bechtel mentions the Rothschild copy, the only one known to this day.

A. Claudin analyses this extremely rare volume, which he mentions as being «known in only one copy»: « Didier Thomas, printer, living « in the street from Ambronay to Puys Peloux », is listed under this designation from 1493 in the archive rolls of the city of Lyon. However, we cannot cite any work signed by him before may, 3rd 1502, the time when he published the roman de Clamades, a small 4to, of which the only known copy is in Baron James de Rothschld’s library ; it is mentioned in the marvellous catalogue drawn up by Emile Picot (see vol. III, pp. 433-435). The completion of printing bears the date of May, 3rd 1502.

The title shows Clamadès riding with the beautiful Claremonde. This plate already appeared at the end of the edition printed in Lyon by Jean de La Fontaine in 1488 (see Histoire de l’Imprimerie, vol. III, facsimile, p. 532). It seems likely that Didier Thomas succeeded Jean de La Fontaine, and that he printed books that he did not sign or that we do not know »

This illustrated post-incunable edition of May 3rd, 1502 is now known in two copies, one of which only is in a 16th century binding and in private hand, this one.

[Bound with :]

III – Les nobles prouesses des douze pers de France.

Lyon, Martin Havard, 1502.

A. Claudin (Histoire de l’Imprimerie en France au XVe et XVIe siècle, tome iv, p. 213 and seq) writes the following about the reprint given by Martin Havard in 1505 (Remember that the present Martin Havard edition of July, 7th 1502 was unknown until now) :

“Here is one, however, which escaped his research (Brunet), although it is dated 1505 and exceeds the extreme limit of the 15th century, we thought we should mention it here because of the interest it may have for the history of our printer’s work.

« Here is one, however, which escaped his research (Brunet), although it is dated 1505 and exceeds the extreme limit of the 15th century, we thought we should mention it here because of the interest it may have for the history of our printer’s work.

The volume in question is a 4to of the novel under this other title : La conqueste que fist le grant roy Charlemaigne ès Espaignes, avec les nobles prouesses des douze Pers de France, et aussi celles de Fierabras.

This volume of 1505 is an extremely rare book; it is not mentioned by Brunet, and the only copy we know of is in the Library of Arsenal, Paris.

This edition also has an advantage over those printed before the end of the 15th century: it contains an account of the Italian expedition under Charles VIII, the conquest of Naples and the battle of Fornua, as stated in the title: Oultre plus est comprins aulcun recueil fait a lonneur du trescrestien roy de France, Charles huytiesme dernièrement décédé, touchant la conqueste de Naples et la journée de Fornou.

The figure of the valiant man brandishing his sword is the same as that of Barnabé Chaussart’s Mandeville. The illustrations of the text, of which we give some specimens below, come from the dispersed material of Guillaume Le Roy, who had passed successively to Jacques Maillet, then to Maréchal and Chaussart, and whose woodcuts had been used in the editions published in turn in 1489, in 1496, and lastly in 1501, by these last printers. »

“The volume is composed with different typefaces from those usually used by Martin Havard in the books attributed to him. These are exactly the same types found, from 1492 (n. st.) onwards, in certain printings in the name of Jacques Maillet, for example: in the Baudouin de Flandres, dated 26 November 1491, and the Somme rurale, dated 9 November 1494. (See alphabet, p. 105, and facsimiles, pp. 102, 104 and 110).

Is there no reason to suppose that Martin Havard worked for Jacques Maillet, who, in our opinion, was a merchant bookseller and publisher rather than a printer by trade? Havard, following the example of Ortuin, may well have printed the books composed with this special type and bearing Maillet’s name on behalf of his former client.

The edition issued from the presses Martin Havard is dated from April, 18th 1505. » (A. Claudin).

The edition issued from the presses Martin Havard is dated from July, 7th 1502.

« The first French-language novel in the history of printing ». Harry F. Williams. (Dictionnaire des Lettres Françaises. Le Moyen Age).

All these first editions are known in only 1 or 2 copies, the present edition was unknown until the present copy was discovered.

The volume contains the prose version of the novel. The author tells us in his foreword that he took up the pen at the request of a canon of Lausanne, Henry Bolomier, and that he completed the novel with various chapters taken from the Miroir historial of Vincent de Beauvais and the Grandes Chroniques de France. We also know from various manuscripts that this author was a native of the Vaud region. His name was Jehan Bagnyon, as can be seen in the Lyon edition of 1489 (Cat. Didot, 1878, n° 553). Henry Bolomier who was probably a relative of the vice-chancellor of Savoy Guillaume Bolomier, condemned to death in 1446, is mentioned in an act of the chapter of Lausanne dated May 17th 1453 (F. de Gingins-Le-Serra et F. Fovel, Recueil de chartes, statuts et documents concernant l’ancien évêché de Lausanne, 1846, p. 545). As for Jehan Bagnyon, he had a bachelor’s degree in law and was a notary; on July 6th 1481, he is described as « authoritate imperiali notarius publicus, curieque officialatus Lausannensis juratus ». He was still exercising his office on September, 28th 1482. Voy. F. of Gingins-La-Serra and François Fovel, loc. cit., pp. 617, 649, 659.

His work, published in Geneva in 1478 under the title of Fierabras and reprinted at least seven times under the same title until 1497 (see Brunet, II, col. 1249-1251), was reproduced in the 16th century and even in the 17th in editions which all bear the title given above. ». (Cat. James de Rothschild, which only had the 1552 new edition bound by Trautz-Bauzonnet).

The volume is illustrated with 42 « remarkable woodcuts executed in the early Lyonnais style », probably by several artists.

The hero of the poem is a Saracen knight who became a Christian after a battle with Olivier. He has a sister, Floripar, who falls in love with a Christian knight, Gui de Bourgogne; she in turn converts to the religion of Christ and marries Gui, after Charlemagne has killed the Saracen who held him captive. Spain was then divided between Fierabras and Gui de Bourgogne, and Charlemagne took the relics of the Passion, which had been conquered by Fierabras and of which Floripar was the custodian, to Saint-Denis and Compiègne.

This novel had an extraordinary diffusion in the Middle Ages and Cervantes tells us that Don Quijote made it one of his favorite readings.

Two poetic versions have survived of this work, one in French, the other in the oc language, both dating from the beginning of the 13th century. The Occitan version was the first printing of all our epic texts by d’I. Bekker in Berlin.

The French version was put in prose by Jean Bagnyon ; it is the first novel to have had the honours of edition.

It appears in David Aubert’s compilation, the Croniques et Conquestes de Charlemagne. It has also been translated or imitated in Castilian, Portuguese, Italian, English, Flemish, German (by John II, Duke of Palatinate-Simmern), Latin and Provençal.

This chivalry novel generated immense popular enthusiasm.

Jean Bagnyon’s account is in fact broader than just the story of the giant Fierabras. It is divided into three books; the first contains a summary of the history of the kings of France up to Clovis, an eulogy of Charlemagne and a summary of his reign, his journey to Jerusalem according to the Iter lerosolymitanum; the second, the history of Fierabras; the third, the account of the Spanish War according to Turpin. For the rest of this work, Jean Bagnyon seems to have had as his only source the Speculum historiale of Vincent de Beauvais, and to have known Turpin only through the Speculum. Jean Bagnyon’s novel inspired Juan José Lopez’s Carlo Magno.

A precious volume of great value forming the rarest collection of three famous illustrated post-incunable chivalry novels in the French bibliophilia and allowing the discovery of two precious post-incunable editions unknown until now and a post-incunable edition known until then by the only copy « James de Rothschild “, and becoming by this very fact the only one in private hand : « Cleomadès et Clarmondine », and the only one in antique binding.

Exceptional volume, unwashed, preserved in its original 16th century binding in decorated brown morocco from the « Rolando Della Valle » library (16th – Livourne et Casale Monferrato) : « Rolandus a valle possidet hunc librum » and a handwritten note in another hand on the final endleaf: « Dans se presant livre de grand et belles choses ».

See less information

Additional information




Lyon, Martin Havard, circa 1502