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Roman de la Rose

Roman de la Rose was one of the most widely read works in France for three centuries, and possibly the most read book in Europe in the 14th and 15th centuries. The work started around 1220, possibly by Guillaume de Lorris, and continued later by Jean de Meun: between 1269 and 1278. This particular manuscript was copied from a printed edition published at Lyon, probably around 1487.
"Romance of the Rose" was both popular and controversial provoking attacks of many writers and moralists of the 14th and 15th centuries. The medieval French poem styled as an allegorical dream vision with a purpose to entertain and to teach others about the Art of Love. The "Rose" of the title is seen as the name of the lady and as a symbol of female sexuality in general. The other characters' names also serve as abstractions of the various factors that are involved in a love affair.
Its emphasis on sensual language. Historian Johan Huizinga writes: "It is astonishing that the Church, which so rigorously repressed the slightest deviations from dogma of a speculative character, suffered the teaching of this breviary of the aristocracy (for the Roman de la Rose was nothing else) to be disseminated with impunity."
About 320 manuscripts of the text survive, nearly 200 of these are illustrated.
Pygmalion kneeling before the statue from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 138v
152 Media in collectionpage 1 of 2

Lovers from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 4

Detail of a miniature of 4 figures including men, a monk, and a cleric, all pierced by arrows holding scrolls with verses. Image taken from f. 4 of Roman de la Rose. Written in French.

Honte and Peor rousing Dangier from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 29

Detail of a miniature of Honte (Shame, Modesty) and Peor (Fear, Timidity) rousing Dangier (Danger). Image taken from f. 29 of Roman de la Rose. Written in French.

Venus setting fire to the castle from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 141v

Miniature of Venus setting fire to the castle. Image taken from f. 141v of Roman de la Rose. Written in French.

Vilenie from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 6

Detail of a miniature of Vilenie (Villainy, Abuse, Baseness) offering the Lover (L'Amans) a potion. Image taken from f. 6 of Roman de la Rose. Written in French.

Narcissus at the fountain from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 14v

Miniature of Narcissus at the fountain, with an instruction to illuminator reading 'Narcisus qui se / mire en la font/aine'. Image taken from f. 14v of Roman de la Rose. Written in French.

Franchise and Dangier from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 103

Detail of a miniature of Franchise, with a spear and shield, speaking to Dangier, with a club and shield. Image taken from f. 103 of Roman de la Rose. Written in French.

Bel Acueil in prison from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 31v

Miniature of Bel Acueil in prison, being guarded by Vielle (old woman). Image taken from f. 31v of Roman de la Rose. Written in French.

Lover talking to Amis from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 51v

Miniature of the Lover (L'Amans) talking to Amis (Friend). Image taken from f. 51v of Roman de la Rose. Written in French.

Hayne looking askance at the Dreamer from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 5v

Detail of a miniature of Hayne (Hatred) looking askance at the Dreamer. Image taken from f. 5v of Roman de la Rose. Written in French.

Povrete from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 8

Detail of a miniature of Povrete (Poverty), in rags, with a nun and a friar looking at her. Image taken from f. 8 of Roman de la Rose. Written in French.

Amors shooting the Lover from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 16

Detail of a miniature of the God of Love (Diex d'Amors) shooting the Lover (L'Amans). Image taken from f. 16 of Roman de la Rose. Written in French.

Pygmalion kneeling before the statue from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 138v

Detail of a miniature of Pygmalion kneeling before the statue. Image taken from f. 138v of Roman de la Rose. Written in French.

Vilenie and Convoitise from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 6

Miniature of Vilenie (Villainy, Abuse, Baseness) offering the Lover (L'Amans) a potion; miniature of Convoitise (Covetousness or Greed) standing outside a closed gate. Image taken from f. 6 of Roman de la Rose.... more

Papelardie and Povrete from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 8

Miniature of Papelardie (Pope-Holiness, or Religious Hypocrisy), with an open psalm book, kneeling at an altar; miniature of Povrete (Poverty), in rags, with a nun and a friar looking at her. Image taken from f... more

Venus setting fire to the castle from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 141v

Detail of a miniature of Venus setting fire to the castle. Image taken from f. 141v of Roman de la Rose. Written in French.

Bel Acueil in prison from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 31v

Detail of a miniature of Bel Acueil in prison, being guarded by Vielle (old woman). Image taken from f. 31v of Roman de la Rose. Written in French.

Lover talking to Amis from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 51v

Detail of a miniature of the Lover (L'Amans) talking to Amis (Friend). Image taken from f. 51v of Roman de la Rose. Written in French.

Deduiz from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 10v

Detail of a miniature of Deduiz and four companions dancing. Image taken from f. 10v of Roman de la Rose. Written in French.

Hayne looking askance at the Dreamer from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 5v

Miniature of Hayne (Hatred) looking askance at the Dreamer. Image taken from f. 5v of Roman de la Rose. Written in French.

Dream of the Lover from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 5

Miniature of the Lover (L'Amans) in bed, with a man holding a club (Dangier?) and the bush of rose, with a full border containing animals and hybrids and a foliate initial 'M'(aintes), at the beginning of the t... more

Tristece from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 7

Detail of a miniature of Tristece (Sorrow or Misery), tearing her hair and clothes. Image taken from f. 7 of Roman de la Rose. Written in French.

Dream of the Lover from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 5

Detail of a miniature of the Lover (L'Amans) in bed, with a man holding a club (Dangier?), at the beginning of the text. Image taken from f. 5 of Roman de la Rose. Written in French.

Pygmalion kneeling before the statue from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 138v

Miniature of Pygmalion kneeling before the statue. Image taken from f. 138v of Roman de la Rose. Written in French.

Tristece from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 7

Miniature of Tristece (Sorrow or Misery), tearing her hair and clothes. Image taken from f. 7 of Roman de la Rose. Written in French.

Lover and God of Love from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 3v

Two miniatures in two compartments: the Lover (L'Amans), being pierced by an arrow, kneeling before the God of Love (Diex d'Amour) and holding a scroll reading 'Sa mon gre e sauourousaite', and 4 figures includ... more

Lover and God of Love from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 3v

Detail of a miniature of the Lover (L'Amans) pierced by an arrow kneeling before the God of Love (Diex d'Amour) and holding a scroll reading 'Sa mon gre e sauourousaite.' Image taken from f. 3v of Roman de la R... more

Avarice and Envy from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 6v

Miniature of Avarice, with a chestful of treasures and raiment hanging above; miniature of Envie (Envy) looking askance at a pair of lovers. Image taken from f. 6v of Roman de la Rose. Written in French.

Vielesce from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 7v

Detail of a miniature of Vielesce (Old Age or Senility), with a crutch, crouching over a fire. Image taken from f. 7v of Roman de la Rose. Written in French.

Deduiz from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 10v

Miniature of Deduiz and four companions dancing. Image taken from f. 10v of Roman de la Rose. Written in French.

Amors shooting the Lover from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 16

Miniature of the God of Love (Diex d'Amors) shooting the Lover (L'Amans). Image taken from f. 16 of Roman de la Rose. Written in French.

Convoitise from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 6

Detail of a miniature of Convoitise (Covetousness or Greed) standing outside a closed gate. Image taken from f. 6 of Roman de la Rose. Written in French.

Faussemblant, Contrainte Atenance, and another speaking to Male Bouche from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 83

Miniature of Faussemblant (False Seeming or Fraud), Contrainte Atenance (Abstinence, or Forced Abstinence), and another speaking to Male Bouche (literally, Foul mouth, or Scandal). Image taken from f. 83 of Rom... more

Envy from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 6v

Detail of a miniature of Envie (Envy) looking at a pair of lovers. Image taken from f. 6v of Roman de la Rose. Written in French.

Vielesce from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 7v

Miniature of Vielesce (Old Age or Senility), with a crutch, crouching over a fire. Image taken from f. 7v of Roman de la Rose. Written in French.

Honte and Peor rousing Dangier from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 29

Miniature of Honte (Shame, Modesty) and Peor (Fear, Timidity) rousing Dangier (Danger). Image taken from f. 29 of Roman de la Rose. Written in French.

Oiseuse admitting the Lover from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 9

Miniature of Oiseuse admitting the Lover (L'Amans) through the gate. Oiseuse is the gatekeeper to the garden, and her name means Idleness, Ease, or Leisure. Image taken from f. 9 of Roman de la Rose. Written in French.

Lovers from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 4

Detail of a miniature of four figures including women, a monk and nun, all but one pierced by arrows holding scrolls with verses. Image taken from f. 4 of Roman de la Rose. Written in French.

Lovers from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 4

Two miniatures in two compartments: 8 figures including men, women, monks and a nun, all pierced by arrows holding scrolls with verses, 'Lonc temps vivre ne pouray', 'Ay ay nus ne doit amer', 'Dame merci si for... more

Oiseuse admitting the Lover from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 9

Detail of a miniature of Oiseuse admitting the Lover (L'Amans) through the gate. Oiseuse is the gatekeeper to the garden, and her name means Idleness, Ease, or Leisure. Image taken from f. 9 of Roman de la Ro... more

Franchise and Dangier from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 103

Miniature of Franchise and Dangier with an instruction to an illuminator reading, 'Franchise qui parle a danger'. Image taken from f. 103 of Roman de la Rose. Written in French.

Marginalia from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 5

Detail of marginalia from the lower border, including a grotesque with a bow, hounds, dragons, and a monkey. Image taken from f. 5 of Roman de la Rose. Written in French.

Papelardie from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 8

Detail of a miniature of Papelardie (Pope-Holiness, or Religious Hypocrisy), with an open psalm book, kneeling at an altar. Image taken from f. 8 of Roman de la Rose. Written in French.

Faussemblant, Contrainte Atenance, and another speaking to Male Bouche from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 83

Detail of a miniature of Faussemblant (False Seeming or Fraud), Contrainte Atenance (Abstinence, or Forced Abstinence), and another speaking to Male Bouche (literally, Foul mouth, or Scandal). Image taken from ... more

Narcissus at the fountain from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 14v

Detail of a miniature of Narcissus at the fountain. Image taken from f. 14v of Roman de la Rose. Written in French.

Garden of Pleasure from BL Harley 4425, f. 12v

Miniature of a scene in the Garden of Pleasure with the Lover and Dame Oiseuse (Idleness) outside; text and trompe l'oeil borders of flowers and birds. Image taken from f. 12v of Roman de la Rose (index Romance... more

Mirth and Gladness from BL YT 21, f. 8v

Detail of a miniature of the dance of Mirth and Gladness. Image taken from f. 8v of Roman de la Rose. Written in French.

Commune from BL Harley 4425, f. 76v

Detail of a miniature of the people of ancient times living together in a sylvan commune. Image taken from f. 76v of Roman de la Rose (index Romance of the Rose). Written in French.

Nero and Seneca from BL Harley 4425, f. 59v

Detail of a miniature of Seneca sitting in a bathtub while a man is slitting his veins, obeying Nero's orders. Image taken from f. 59v of Roman de la Rose (index Romance of the Rose). Written in French.

Deucalion and Pyrrah from BL Harley 4425, f. 153

Detail of a miniature of Deucalion and Pyrrah repopulating the world after the Flood (humans spring forth from the stones that they cast behind them). Image taken from f. 153 of Roman de la Rose (index Romance ... more

Garden of Pleasure from BL Harley 4425, f. 12v

Detail of a miniature of a scene in the Garden of Pleasure with the Lover and Dame Oiseuse (Idleness) outside; text and trompe l'oeil borders of flowers and birds. Image taken from f. 12v of Roman de la Rose (i... more

Amour and the Lover from BL Harley 4425, f. 18v

Detail of a miniature of Amour (Love), with bow and arrows, awaiting the right moment to strike the Lover. Image taken from f. 18v of Roman de la Rose (index Romance of the Rose). Written in French.

Narcissus from BL Harley 4425, f. 20

Detail of a miniature of Narcissus admiring his own reflection. Image taken from f. 20 of Roman de la Rose (index Romance of the Rose). Written in French.

Amour and the Lover from BL Harley 4425, f. 42

Detail of a miniature of Amour (Love) and the Lover. Image taken from f. 42 of Roman de la Rose (index Romance of the Rose). Written in French.

Amour and the Lover from BL Harley 4425, f. 42

Miniature of Amour (Love) and the Lover. Image taken from f. 42 of Roman de la Rose (index Romance of the Rose). Written in French.

The beginning of the dream from BL Harley 4425, f. 7

Miniature of the Lover asleep; dressed; and approaching the Garden of Love, with in the lower border, the coat of arms of Engelbert II, count of Nassau and Vianden (d.1504). Image taken from f. 7 of Roman de la... more

Nature forging a baby from BL Harley 4425, f. 140

Detail of a miniature depicting Nature forging a baby. Image taken from f. 140 of Roman de la Rose (index Romance of the Rose). Written in French.

Pygmalion and the statue from BL Harley 4425, f. 178v

Detail of a miniature of Pygmalion on his knees, asking forgiveness from the statue. Image taken from f. 178v of Roman de la Rose (index Romance of the Rose). Written in French.

Vulcan, Venus and Mars from BL Harley 4425, f. 122v

Detail of a miniature of Vulcan finding his wife in bed with Mars; he ties their feet together. Image taken from f. 122v of Roman de la Rose (index Romance of the Rose). Written in French.

Pygmalion and the statue from BL Harley 4425, f. 177v

Detail of a miniature of Pygmalion and the statue. Image taken from f. 177v of Roman de la Rose (index Romance of the Rose). Written in French.

Friendship from BL Harley 4425, f. 47v

Detail of a miniature of a sufferer being given money by his true friend. Image taken from f. 47v of Roman de la Rose (index Romance of the Rose). Written in French.

Assault on the castle from BL Harley 4425, f. 139

Detail of a miniature depicting an assault on the castle. Image taken from f. 139 of Roman de la Rose (index Romance of the Rose). Written in French.

Nature from BL Harley 4425, f. 166

Detail of a miniature in the left-hand column of Nature dispatching Gennie to the God of Love. Image taken from f. 166 of Roman de la Rose (index Romance of the Rose). Written in French.

Nature from BL Harley 4425, f. 166

Miniature of Nature dispatching Gennie to the God of Love. Image taken from f. 166 of Roman de la Rose (index Romance of the Rose). Written in French.

Amour kissing the Lover from BL Harley 4425, f. 24

Detail of a miniature of Amour (Love) kissing the Lover. Image taken from f. 24 of Roman de la Rose (index Romance of the Rose). Written in French.

Author from BL Harley 4425, f. 133

Detail of a miniature of the author writing his book. Image taken from f. 133 of Roman de la Rose (index Romance of the Rose). Written in French.

Castle of Jalousie from BL Harley 4425, f. 39

Detail of a miniature of the Lover outside the Castle of Jalousie (Jealousy), where Bel Accueil (Fair Welcome) is imprisoned; Danger guards its gate. Image taken from f. 39 of Roman de la Rose (index Romance of... more

Garden of Pleasure from BL Harley 4425, f. 12v

Detail of a miniature of a scene in the Garden of Pleasure with the Lover and Dame Oiseuse (Idleness) outside; text and trompe l'oeil borders of flowers and birds; detail showing a lutenist and singers. Image t... more

Castle of Jalousie from BL Harley 4425, f. 39

Detail of a miniature of the Lover outside the Castle of Jalousie (Jealousy), where Bel Accueil (Fair Welcome) is imprisoned; Danger guards its gate. Image taken from f. 39 of Roman de la Rose (index Romance of... more

Venus in her chariot from BL Harley 4425, f. 138v

Detail of a miniature of Venus coming to the rescue in a chariot drawn by six white doves. Image taken from f. 138v of Roman de la Rose (index Romance of the Rose). Written in French.

Jealous husband from BL Harley 4425, f. 85

Detail of a miniature of a jealous husband beating his wife until her hair and clothes fly about, while spectators watch from the doorway. Image taken from f. 85 of Roman de la Rose (index Romance of the Rose).... more

Jealous man and his wife from BL Harley 4425, f. 78

Detail of a miniature of a jealous man and his wife, seated. Image taken from f. 78 of Roman de la Rose (index Romance of the Rose). Written in French.

Jealous man and his wife from BL Harley 4425, f. 77

Detail of a miniature of a jealous man reproaching his wife. Image taken from f. 77 of Roman de la Rose (index Romance of the Rose). Written in French.

Amour and the Lover from BL Harley 4425, f. 25v

Detail of a miniature of Amour (Love) instructing the Lover. Image taken from f. 25v of Roman de la Rose (index Romance of the Rose). Written in French.

Raison and the Lover from BL Harley 4425, f. 43v

Detail of a miniature of Raison (Reason) advising the Lover. Image taken from f. 43v of Roman de la Rose (index Romance of the Rose). Written in French.

The Lover and the rose from BL Harley 4425, f. 184v

Detail of a miniature of the Lover tending the rose. Image taken from f. 184v of Roman de la Rose (index Romance of the Rose). Written in French.

Bel Accueil and Jalousie from BL Harley 4425, f. 37v

Detail of a miniature of Jalousie (Jealousy) speaking to Bel Accueil (Fair Welcome). Image taken from f. 37v of Roman de la Rose (index Romance of the Rose). Written in French.

L'Ami and the Lover from BL Harley 4425, f. 33v

Detail of a miniature depicting l'Ami (the Friend) comforting the Lover. Image taken from f. 33v of Roman de la Rose (index Romance of the Rose). Written in French.

Bel Accueil and the Lover from BL Harley 4425, f. 36

Detail of a miniature of Bel Accueil (Fair Welcome) leading the Lover to the rose. Image taken from f. 36 of Roman de la Rose (index Romance of the Rose). Written in French.

Dancing from BL Harley 4425, f. 14v

Miniature of the Carolle (round dance with music) in the garden of Sir Mirth, watched by the narrator of the Roman de la rose, dressed in blue, at the left. Image taken from f. 14v of Roman de la Rose (index Ro... more

Jason and the Golden Fleece from BL Harley 4425, f. 86

Detail of a miniature of Jason and the Golden fleece, with his ship and spectators in the foreground. Image taken from f. 86 of Roman de la Rose (index Romance of the Rose). Written in French.

Diex d'Amors taking hold of the Lover from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 17v

Miniature of Diex d'Amors (the God of Love) taking hold of the Lover (L'Amans). Image taken from f. 17v of Roman de la Rose. Written in French.

Diex d'Amors taking hold of the Lover from BL Royal 19 B XIII, f. 17v

Detail of a miniature of Diex d'Amors (the God of Love) taking hold of the Lover (L'Amans). Image taken from f. 17v of Roman de la Rose. Written in French.

The Lover and Raison from BL Harley 4425, f. 32v

Detail of a miniature of Raison (Reason) advising the Lover. Image taken from f. 32v of Roman de la Rose (index Romance of the Rose). Written in French.

Bel Accueil and the Lover from BL Harley 4425, f. 30v

Detail of a miniature of the Lover and Bel Accueil (Fair Welcome) in the garden; Danger and other allegorical figures are hiding in the bushes. Image taken from f. 30v of Roman de la Rose (index Romance of the ... more

The Lover and the rose from BL Harley 4425, f. 184v

Detail of a miniature of the Lover tending the rose. Image taken from f. 184v of Roman de la Rose (index Romance of the Rose). Written in French.

Garden of Pleasure from BL Harley 4425, f. 12v

Detail of a miniature of the Garden of Pleasure, with lords and ladies beside a fountain, some reading, some singing, one playing the lute. Image taken from f. 12v of Roman de la Rose (index Romance of the Rose... more

Castle on fire from BL Harley 4425, f. 181

Detail of a miniature of Danger and other allegorical figures escaping from the castle in flames. Image taken from f. 181 of Roman de la Rose (index Romance of the Rose). Written in French.

Venus in her chariot from BL Harley 4425, f. 138v

Detail of a miniature of Venus coming to the rescue in a chariot drawn by six white doves. Image taken from f. 138v of Roman de la Rose (index Romance of the Rose). Written in French.

Author from BL Harley 4425, f. 133

Detail of a miniature of the author writing his book. Image taken from f. 133 of Roman de la Rose (index Romance of the Rose). Written in French.

Champ initials from BL Harley 4425, f. 18

Text page with champ initials. Image taken from f. 18 of Roman de la Rose (index Romance of the Rose). Written in French.

Text page from BL Harley 4425, f. 16

Text page. Image taken from f. 16 of Roman de la Rose (index Romance of the Rose). Written in French.

The Lover from BL Harley 4425, f. 7

Detail of a miniature of the Lover in bed, and then dressed and taking out a pen from its case. Image taken from f. 7 of Roman de la Rose (index Romance of the Rose). Written in French.

The Lover from BL Harley 4425, f. 7

Detail of a miniature of the Lover in bed, and then dressed and taking out a pen from its case. Image taken from f. 7 of Roman de la Rose (index Romance of the Rose). Written in French.

Dream from BL YT 21, f. 3

Detail of a miniature of the dream of the Lover. Image taken from f. 3 of Roman de la Rose. Written in French.

Dancing from BL Harley 4425, f. 14v

Detail of a miniature of the Carolle (round dance with music) in the garden of Sir Mirth, watched by the narrator of the Roman de la rose, dressed in blue, at the left. Image taken from f. 14v of Roman de la Ro... more

Oyseuse from BL YT 21, f. 6v

Detail of a miniature showing Oyseuse admitting the Lover through the gates into the Garden of Pleasure. Image taken from f. 6v of Roman de la Rose. Written in French.

Pygmalion and sculpture from BL YT 21, f. 138v

Detail of a miniature of Pygmalion kneeling before his sculpture-turned-woman. Image taken from f. 138v of Roman de la Rose. Written in French.

Pygmalion from BL YT 21, f. 136

Detail of a miniature showing Pygmalion working on his sculpture. Image taken from f. 136 of Roman de la Rose. Written in French.

Bel Accueil and Jalousie from BL Harley 4425, f. 37v

Detail of a miniature of Jalousie (Jealousy) speaking to Bel Accueil (Fair Welcome). Image taken from f. 37v of Roman de la Rose (index Romance of the Rose). Written in French.

Amour and the Lover from BL Harley 4425, f. 25v

Detail of a miniature of Amour (Love) instructing the Lover. Image taken from f. 25v of Roman de la Rose (index Romance of the Rose). Written in French.