The Twelve Ladies of Rhetoric


The manuscript entitled Les douze dames de rhétorique (The twelve ladies of rhetoric) contains the literary correspondence between Jean Robertet, secretary of the Bourbon duke Jean II; George Chastelain, historiographer of Philippe le Bon of Burgundy; and Jean de Montferrant, adviser and chamberlain at the Burgundian court. Written around 1464–65, the 19 letters in French and Latin are concerned with poetry. The letters are accompanied by a series of descriptions in verse of the twelve companions of Lady Rhetoric. Only five copies of the text, crafted immediately after the composition of the original, have been preserved, three of which were supplied with illuminations in Bruges. This manuscript, decorated with 15 half-page miniatures, was in the possession of Philip of Cleves, who probably had received it as a gift from his father. Some time before 1777, Prince-Elector Karl Theodor of the Palatinate-Sulzbach acquired the manuscript and provided it with a new binding. In 1803–4, a part of the library of the electors of the Palatinate, the Bibliotheca Palatina in Mannheim, including this precious manuscript, was transferred to Munich. The manuscript is now preserved in the Bavarian State Library.

Last updated: August 28, 2015