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A Medieval Library at the Dawn of the Renaissance

During the middle ages, books were precious because texts were rare and copies were few. They were riches for their contents, whether it was the divine word in monastic books or knowledge in university manuscripts. During the 14th and 15th centuries, when more and more lay people collected books for their instruction or pleasure and printing was invented, the emerging practice of patronage gave rise to richly decorated texts that were precious as objects. It is through the prism of a library that has been exceptionally well conserved that an approach to this evolution is provided.

The Musée Condé owns 44 of the 52 books known to have belonged to the library of Antoine de Chourses († 1485), captain of Louis XI’s francs-archers and Catherine de Coëtivy (c. 1460-1528),
Louis XI’s niece. Between 1475 and 1525, this noble couple assembled a collection that illustrates the increasingly important place of the book in the spheres of power and the flourishing of
bibliophilic practices in courtly milieus.

The duke of Aumale, who inherited these books, noticed their quality and the importance of Catherine de Coëtivy in choosing them. In 1854, he informed the members of the Philobiblon Society of the existence of this collection in a lively and erudite text: “Let us place it in front of us on our table; it will fit there easily, because it is more select than numerous…”
The Musée Condé is in turn presenting the collection in the light of recent scholarly research and is going back to the origins of noble libraries.


exposition cabinet des livres domaine de chantilly

Le Livre du chevalier de La Tour Landry pour l’enseignement de ses filles, début du xve siècle.
Manuscrit 293


Curators :

Roseline Claerr, Ingénieur de recherche at the Centre Roland-Mousnier (Université de Paris IV-Sorbonne_UMR 8596 du CNRS)
Marie-Pierre Dion, Conservateur général of the libraries, Musée Condé


Useful information :

Place : Cabinet of the Books of the castle

Exhibition included in the Domain ticket without supplement.