I would like to begin by expressing my gratitude to the TVOF team, since it was their invitation to take part in a workshop about the Histoire ancienne jusqu’à César (hereafter HAC) last March that gave me the chance to go back to my work on the illustrated copies of this historical compilation, which was widely disseminated from its native Flanders to the Holy Land and Italy. The feature that contributed most decisively to the enduring allure of this textual tradition was the inclusion—from very early on and in more than half of the preserved copies of the text—of lengthy pictorial cycles supplementing the narrative. As such, the place of the HAC in the consolidation of a lay readership and of the illustrated history book in the Middle Ages cannot go understated, as argued already by Hugo Buchthal in his study on the beginnings of ‘secular illustration’. The equally important role of the HAC in the development of new layouts and pictorial systems in Northern France and Outremer has been highlighted in recent decades as well. And yet, as I contended in the aforementioned workshop, a sustained inquiry into the illuminated copies produced in Italy in the late Ducento and the Trecento may shed new light on the reception of the HAC outside the Franco-Flemish area and, most crucially, on the dynamics governing late medieval historiographical writing and illustration as a whole.

Periode17. dec. 2018