A Woodville Goes Book Shopping: The Romance of Alexander

I’ve been busy this week working on my nonfiction book about the Woodville family (perhaps you might have noticed a Woodville tinge to my posts here and on Facebook lately?). Anyway, I thought you’d enjoy seeing some images (available on Wikicommons) from the Romance of Alexander, Bodleian Library MS. Bodl. 264.

The book is a life of Alexander the Great in French verse. According to the Bodleian Library (where the entire manuscript can be viewed online), it was made by the Flemish illuminator Jehan de Grise and his workshop in 1338-44, with two sections added in England around 1400.

The Woodville connection of this lovely manuscript is that it was purchased by Elizabeth Woodville’s father, Richard Woodville, Lord Rivers. Near the back of the manuscript, Lord Rivers wrote, “This book belongs to Lord Richard de Wydeville, Lord Rivers, one of the companions of the very noble order of the Garter, and this Lord bought this book in the year of grace of 1466, the first day of the year, in London, and the fifth year of the coronation of the very victorious King Edward, the fourth of this name, and the second of the coronation of the very virtuous Queen Elizabeth, the day after Saint Maure’s Day.” Interestingly, the inscription, which appears on folio 274, is in French; the translation here is from Arlene Okerlund’s biography of Elizabeth Woodville, Elizabeth: England’s Slandered Queen.

With images like those below, Lord Rivers’ book must have afforded him hours of pleasure.


Folio 59r
Folio 81v
More smirking, armed hares


Folio 101v

4 thoughts on “A Woodville Goes Book Shopping: The Romance of Alexander”

  1. My goodness, is the original in Duke Humphreys and if so I am going to look. The illustrations are superb. I want to look at Breton manuscripts. Any suggestions?

  2. I like the “smirking, armed hares” … are they a symbol of some kind? I wish that the book could be part of a “US tour”. As it can’t, I’ll have to make do with the link … thank you for posting it.

  3. I love that it can all be seen online — will have to do more in-depth looking tomorrow when I have time. Apologies if I’m being dim, but what on earth is the woman staring somberly at the heart doing? I don’t know enough about Alexander to guess. I’m not even going to try to guess at the misdoings of the smirking hare.

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