Although the Crusader Bible has long been associated with Louis IX and the decade of his Seventh Crusade (1244–1254), there is no documentary evidence that it was actually commissioned by him. The Crusader Bible was probably made in Paris and can be seen in the context of his other commissions and crusading activities. Circumstantial evidence may point to his patronage. Stylistic and iconographic parallels occur in the Sainte-Chapelle, which was built to house relics of Christ’s Passion, notably the Crown of Thorns, and was consecrated on April 26, 1248. .Louis was compared to Solomon, the Sainte-Chapelle to Solomon’s Temple, and the Grande Châsse containing the relics became the Ark of the New Covenant. Paris was regarded as the New Jerusalem, and the French as the chosen people. In 1239 Pope Gregory IX’s crusader propaganda already compared the people of Judah to Louis’s Christian Kingdom. Before that Capetian rulers saw themselves as Christian successors to the God-chosen kings of Judah, claiming divine sanction for their “sacred” kingship. In the manuscript, those biblical kings wear crusader armor and have fleur-de-lis crowns and scepters, reinforcing the associations and royal patronage. The size and luxury of the book also suggest high patronage, as do the considerable intellectual, artistic, and financial resources needed to plan and execute this unrivaled Gothic masterpiece. The manuscript did not originally have captions, but Louis knew the Old Testament stories very well because Blanche of Castile, his mother, had a profusely illustrated Moralized Bible made for his instruction.
The Morgan Library & Museum remains open. Plan your visit. Due to the poor air quality in New York City, the Morgan Garden will be closed this weekend.