The Overseas Expeditions by the French against the Turks and Other Saracens and Moors Overseas


Les Passages faiz oultre mer par les François contre les Turcqs et autres Sarrazins et Mores oultre marins (The overseas expeditions by the French against the Turks and other Saracens and Moors overseas), commonly known as Passages d'outremer (The expeditions to outremer), is an illuminated manuscript made in France around 1472−75. It includes 66 miniatures, most likely painted by Jean Colombe (active 1463−98), an illuminator from Bourges. After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, Pope Pius II pleaded for the liberation of the Christian holy places in the Middle East. The pope’s project never came to fruition, but it revived a certain interest in the Crusades undertaken centuries earlier by the Europeans. In 1472, Louis de Laval, governor of Champagne and advisor to King Louis XI, asked his chaplain and secretary, Sébastien Mamerot, to write a chronicle of the Crusades. The work is a compilation of various stories from the legendary conquest of Jerusalem by Charlemagne to the battle of Nicopolis in 1396 and the siege of Constantinople in 1394−1402. One piece of text was added at a later date to the beginning of the manuscript: the French translation of a letter written by Sultan Bajazed II (circa 1447−1512) to King Charles VIII (1470−98), sent from Constantinople on July 4, 1488 (folio 3 verso), followed by a copy in Latin and Italian (folio 4 recto). The manuscript was owned successively by Diane de Poitiers (1499−1566), Charles-Henri de Clermont-Tonnerre (1571−1640), and, according to the bookplates found in the manuscript, by Cardinal Mazarin (1602−61) before it became a part of the royal library in 1668.

Last updated: January 4, 2016