Chroniques martiniennes.

Collection History

The New York Public Library possesses one of the largest and finest collections of medieval and Renaissance illuminated manuscripts in North America, yet its manuscript holdings are scarcely known to scholars, much less to a wide public audience. Medieval and Renaissance illuminated manuscripts are vehicles of the collective memory of western European culture, and provide a material connection between the scribes, illuminators, and patrons who produced these works and the audiences who view them today.

The works represent diverse genres, from Bibles and missals to romance literature and science texts. Dating from the turn of the 10th century until well into the period of the Renaissance, these works give vivid testimony to the creative impulses of the often nameless craftsmen who continually discovered new ways of animating the contents of hand-produced books through inventive and sometimes exuberant manipulations of all the elements of the book: form and format, layout, script, decoration, illustration, and binding.

Drawn from the Library's Spencer Collection and the Manuscripts and Archives Division, these works focus on the 9th through the 16th centuries -- seven hundred years of profound political, ecclesiastical, social, and intellectual change in Western Europe and the world. Among these rare items are a 10th-century Ottonian manuscript, with its imitation of Byzantine textile with gold decoration; the Towneley Lectionary, illuminated by Giulio Clovio (once praised as the "Michelangelo of small works"), which originated in Rome and probably belonged to Cardinal Alessandro Farnese; and a late 15th-century Book of Hours, which represents the leading style of illumination from Besançon, one of the French Regional Schools.


"The Digital Scriptorium" originated in the mid-1990s as an image database, intended to unite scattered resources from many institutions into an international tool for teaching and scholarly research. NYPL curators have augmented the Digital Scriptorium's primary documentation of NYPL's contribution of 259 manuscript parts with images of the works' most significant illuminations. Some works in this digital presentation also appeared in the exhibition, "The Splendor of the Word: Medieval and Renaissance Illuminated Manuscripts at The New York Public Library," held October 21, 2005 - February 12, 2006 in the Library's D. Samuel and Jeane H. Gottesman Exhibition Hall.

- Collection History and Background text excerpted from the press release and exhibition catalog descriptions for "The Splendor of the Word: Medieval and Renaissance Illuminated Manuscripts at The New York Public Library."

Related Resources

Alexander, Jonathan J. G., James H. Marrow, and Lucy Freeman Sandler. The Splendor of the Word: Medieval and Renaissance Illuminated Manuscripts at The New York Public Library. (2005)

NYPL. "The Splendor of the Word: Medieval and Renaissance Illuminated Manuscripts at The New York Public Library." (2005-2006) <>

University of California, Berkeley. "The Digital Scriptorium." (c1996-2004) <>

Collection Data

Martinus, Polonus (d. 1279) (Author)
Dates / Origin
Date Created: 1475 (Approximate)
Place: France
Library locations
Spencer Collection
Shelf locator: Spencer Collection Ms. 18
Miniatures (Illuminations)
Ownership: Louis de Laval. Jacques d'Armagnac. Marie de Cleves? Pierre de Beaujeau? Charles de Bourbon. Anthoine de Thelis. Claude d'Ogerolles de Thelis. J.B. Du Tilliot. J.B. Lantin. Marquis de Migieu. Th. Belin. Count Axel von Kalckreuth. K.W. Hiersemann.
Content: De Ricci, 1339. Hiersemann piece. Library dossier. Chart by Dr. G.B. Guest.
Content: Red/green silk tabs on pages with miniatures.
Content: This manuscript is foliated in Roman numerals, but the foliation is incorrect in several places and extends to 240. It is also paginated in Arabic numerals, with only the last two folios missing pagination. To avoid confusion, page numbers are used here.
Content: 42 long lines per page, ruled in faint black ink. Prickings and some catchwords visible.
Content: Parchment
Content: Twenty-four miniatures. Some border designs contain animal figures.
Content: Gold initials on red and blue fields. Blue and red initials on gold fields. Rubrics. Border designs.
Content: Touraine, in the style of this school
Content: De Ricci dates this to 1458, the year it was translated for Louis de Laval. Notes in dossier give the date as ca. 1461, when Jacques d'Armagnac received the duchy of Nemours and the county of the Marche, titles he holds in an inscription on p. 470.
Content: ff. v-xii contain a table of contents written in a modern hand. The main text finishes on f. 235, but notes and inscriptions appear on ff. 236 and 237.
Physical Description
Extent: Ff. xii + 237 + ii
Type of Resource
Still image
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 4ef86080-c621-012f-8e67-58d385a7bc34
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