The Romance of the Rose

Manuscripts and incunabula

About 300 manuscripts are extant,[2] one of the highest figures for a secular work. Many of these are illustrated, most with fewer than ten remaining illustrations, but there are a number with twenty or more illustrations,[3] and the exceptional Burgundian British Library Harley MS 4425 has 92 large and high quality miniatures, despite a date around 1500; the text was copied by hand from a printed edition. These are by the artist known as the Master of the Prayer Books of around 1500, commissioned by Count Engelbert II of Nassau[4] The peak period of production was the 14th century, but manuscript versions continued to be produced until the advent of printing, and indeed afterwards - there are at least seven manuscripts dated after 1500.[5] There are also seven incunabula printed editions before 1500, the first from Geneva in about 1481, followed by two from Lyons in the 1480s and four from Paris in the 1490s.[6] An edition from Lyons in 1503 is illustrated with 140 woodcuts.[7] Digital images of more than 140 of these manuscripts are available for study in the Roman de la Rose Digital Library.


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