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The Poem of Praise for King Robert of Anjou – Leather Edition
Monolithic miniatures in gold and silver
Vienna, Austrian National Library, Cod. Ser. n. 2639, Southern Italy, around 1340

CODICES SELECTI, Vol. CXIII

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Further Pictures

 

The Poem of Praise for Robert of Anjou, King of Nepal (1278 -1343) is in safe keeping in the Austrian National Library and is one of the most important documentations of the power of the king in the Middle Ages and at the same time also one of the most outstanding examples of book art from the 14th century.

A layout worthy of a king

Altogether 43 large formatted miniatures on 72 pages, richly endowed with engraved gold and silver illustrate this extraordinary codex.  The partially full-page miniatures make an impression with their monumental format of handwriting (48.5 x 34.4 cm); 29 Florentine initials and 8 opaque coloured initials on a gold background complement this fantastic layout.
 A kaleidoscope of almost the entire medieval early-modern educational canon is covered. Thus the handwriting is a testimony in itself to the extravagant intellectual and artistic cost which was expended by the powers of the Kingdom of Robert of Anjou. Some of the handwriting also indicates that Robert himself arranged for the production of the handwriting.


The Content – Manifesto and Legacy

The praise poem for Robert of Anjou portrays the king as the ideal ruler, who is alone able to place 
Italy under rule. Italy is torn apart: Robert shall, as the future ruler bring the affairs of Italy in order. The author laments that Italy does not have a king contrary to other states; likewise he denounces the absence of the Popes of Rome during their „Babylonian“ exile in Avignon (1309 -1376).

A Splendiferous Kaleidoscope of the 14th Century

The Codex contains two richly illustrated Parts. The more extensive first section covers the Poem of Praise (regia carmina) for King Robert of Anjou, which is a praise of the ruler and in usual fashion it represents an effusive poem, which celebrates the addressee as the rescuer of the church and the ideal king of all Italy.


43 Glinting Miniatures

The miniatures represent the „ideal“ government state of Robert:  Italy‚s allegory and Italian cities as well as virtues, which praise the king as an ideal ruler. The Italia (the female personification of Italy) or mythological characters from antiquity come before the throne of Robert  praying for their country. The king sees himself as the chosen one by God to fulfill the task of uniting all of Italy. Accordingly in several splendid miniatures, the holy government court of God is compared to his own.

   
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