Completed circa 1474, Sébastien Mamerot's lavishly illustrated manuscript is the only contemporary document to capture several centuries of French crusades, when successive kings tried to capture the Holy Land. Jean Colombe, the medieval illuminator best known for his work on the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, is the principal artist of its 66 exquisite miniatures.
Mamerot's manuscript was dedicated to his patron Louis de Laval, governor of Champagne, whose inspiration was the Christian equivalent of extremist jihad—a xenophobic holy war with its origins in a Papal appeal by Urban II. Les Passages d'Outremer (The Expeditions to Outremer) comprises 277 parchment folios, illustrated by Colombe and the finest caligraphers of the medieval era, and now resides in the French national library.
This manuscript is the source of TASCHEN's facsimile reprint, which is accurate down to the color of the medieval gold heightening. This two-volume hardcover edition in a slipcase – comprising a facsimile volume and a commentary volume with the complete translation of the manuscript text and explanations of Jean Colombe’s miniatures – is a particular testimony to that long, glorious and bloody historical epoch. The battles, burials, religious ceremonies, coronations and royal processions depicted in the 66 colourful miniatures come to life before our eyes and create a forceful image of those centuries-long wars.
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Hidden Likeness: Photographer Emmet Gowin at the Morgan