Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 4944
  • Author(s)/Creator(s):
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  • Title: Fables for the Court: Illustrations of Marie de France's "Fables" in Paris BN, MS Arsenal 3142 [the manuscript was dedicated to Marie of Brabant, wife of King Philippe of France, and reflects the roles of reading and manuscripts at the French Court].
  • Source: Women and the Book: Assessing the Visual Evidence.  Edited by Lesley Smith and Jane H.M. Taylor.  British Library and University of Toronto Press, 1997.  Pages 190 - 203.
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Essay
  • Subject (See Also): Courts- Literary Activity Illumination of Manuscripts Literature- Verse Manuscripts Marie de France, Poet- Fables Marie of Brabant , Queen-Consort of Philippe III, King of France Patronage, Literary Queens Readers Women in Art
  • Geographic Area: British Isles;France
  • Century: 12-13
  • Related Resources: "The image of women and books is also perceptively approached by Susan Ward in "Fables for the Court: Illustrations of Marie de France's Fables in Paris BN MS Arsenal 3142". Ward writes of the unusual miniatures of Marie de France found at the beginning and end of the text for Fables. The image at the beginning shows Marie writing in a codex, while the final miniature shows her holding a completed book, inscribed with text (195). The appearance of the two miniatures of Marie, first writing, then holding the apparently completed book, are unique to the Arsenal manuscript. This combination of two miniatures suggests the passage of time, indicating that while the reader has been reading, the book itself is being written, and the illuminations have implicated the author and the reader together in the action of reading and writing (196)." From the review written by Laura Dufresne of "Women and the Book: Assessing the Visual Evidence," "Medieval Review" (TMR ID: 96.12.11). [Reproduced by permission of the "Medieval Review."].
  • Primary Evidence: Manuscript; Paris, Bibliotque nationale, MS Arsenal 3142. Probably made around 1300 in Paris for Marie of Brabant.
  • Illustrations:
  • Table: Six figures, five of which come from the Arsenal manuscript. Figure Eighty-Five, from the Metz Pontifical, illustrates a marginal scene of animals that is much more active than those in the Arsenal manuscript. Figures Eighty-Six and Eighty-Seven are portraits of Marie de France, one in which she is writing and the other in which she is reading. Figure Eighty-Eight is a portrait of Marie of Brabant with her sister-in-law and her brother. At the foot of Marie's bed is the court poet Adenet le Roi.
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  • Year of Publication: 1997.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: 0802042163
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