Presentation of the work to Charles, Duke of Burgundy

Stunning miniature shows the patron presenting his book to Charles, Duke of Burgundy

Court scene with king at center on throne surrounded by courtiers. One courtier on his knee presents the book to the king in his outstretched arms.

This miniature shows Jacques Donche, an advisor to Charles the Bold of Burgundy (1433-1477), presenting Charles with the book that he had translated for him.  The book is Caesar’s Commentary on the Gallic War, which was translated at Donche’s expense by Jean Duchesne. The Beinecke copy (Beinecke MS 226) was made by Hellin de Burchgrave in 1476 according to the colophon and the decoration indicates that it was made in Bruges (according to James Morrow). The story of Caesar’s conquest of Gaul would have been an appropriate gift for the powerful Burgundian ruler who sought to be crowned king by making his territory into an independent state.  Unfortunately, his premature death at the battle of Nancy lead to his territories being divided by his rivals, the Kingdom of France and the Hapsburg Empire.  

James Morrow identifies another book that belonged to Donche in Claremont Colleges (California), Denison Library, MS Kirby 1. Beinecke MS 226 was among the many manuscripts owned by Sir Thomas Phillipps in the late eighteenth century, who amassed the largest collection of medieval manuscripts in private hands during his lifetime.  

G. Keach, “Two Flemish Manuscripts of Caesar’s Commentaries,” M.A.
     Thesis, Yale University, 1969.

G. Doutrepont, La litterature francaise a la cour des ducs de
(Paris, 1909) 180.

R. Bossuat, “Traductions francaises des
     Commentaires de Cesar a la fin du XVe siecle,” Bibliotheque
     d’humanisme et Renaissance
, v. 3 (Paris, 1943) pp. 253-373. 

R. H. Lucas, “Medieval French Translations of the Latin Classics to 1500,”
     Speculum p. 45 (1970) p. 235.