11 manuscripts from the Bibliothèque nationale have just been added to the digital library. A Rose in the University of Manchester’s John Rylands University Library and one at the University of Pennsylvania are now up as well. We are in the process of cropping images and adding scholarly content. There are new codicological descriptions of two manuscripts, Penn 906 and Walters 143, and more to come. We are also improving the French language site by offering new translations of pages, and would appreciate feedback on these or on any aspect of the project.

This gives us a total of 26 manuscripts and 2 early printed books digitized so far. Check back as we continue to add manuscripts through 2009!

Extant manuscripts

Currently, no one can say with certainty exactly how many Rose manuscripts exist or where they are located, and thus we are working to create such a list. A number of factors make this a difficult task: manuscripts change names and hands over time; manuscripts are lost, destroyed, or stolen; manuscripts sometimes appear briefly on the market and are sold to anonymous owners; fragments exist in libraries around the world, and some of these have never been mentioned in publications; sometimes it is hard to know what to count as a Rose manuscript (there are, e.g., early translations into other languages, manuscripts containing only excerpts from the Rose, and copies of a prose version of the Rose). 
With the help of users of the digital library our list of manuscripts is being corrected and expanded. We would particularly like to thank Heidrun Ost for sending us changes. If you know of a Rose manuscript or fragment not given here, e-mail Prof. Timothy Stinson at, and it will be added to the list.

Site update

  • Display table with basic information above codicological description.
  • New “Extant manuscripts” page uses an embedded google spreadsheet to display a corpus of Rose manuscripts being produced by Prof. Timothy Stinson.
  • BnF fr. 12595 has a codicological description.

Site update

The site now includes a Rose manuscript from the 14th century known as Bodmer 79. These digital images of Bodmer 79 were taken from color slides. Also, along with other small updates, users are now able to read the illustration title and a brief description of each illustration to the right of images in the page turner. These searchable descriptions name the characters depicted, costumes and objects in the scene, and elements of landscape and architecture. To view them choose “illustration description” in the drop down menu above the image. This menu also gives you the option of seeing the images alone (“show”), images with a transcription when there is one (“transcription”), and images with a transcription giving line numbers from Félix Lecoy’s edition of the Rose (“transcription [Lecoy]”).

Reuniting UC 1380 with UC 392

In 1907, the French translation of a 13th-century Latin text, Le Jeu des échecs moralisé (The Moralized Game of Chess), which accompanied a 14th-century Parisian copy of the Roman de la Rose, was separated from the poem and bound into a second volume. The Roman de la Rose text (including Le Testament and Codicille of the author Jean de Meun), was also given a new binding of red leather at this time. The volume of Le Jeu des échecs moralisé, with 39 folios and 13 miniatures, was purchased by the University of Chicago in 1931 and is now University of Chicago Library MS 392. In 2007, the University of Chicago Library was able to reunite the two works with their purchase of the Roman de la Rose volume, which has 171 folios and 42 miniatures and is now University of Chicago Library MS 1380 (or UC 1380). Both texts appear to have been written by the same hand, and the miniatures of Le Jeu des échecs moralisé and the Roman de la Rose seem to be the work of a single illuminator. (This artist has been called the Master of Saint Voult and linked to illuminators working for Charles V.) Images of the copy of Le Jeu des échecs moralisé can be viewed at the University of Chicago Library’s Rose & Chess
site, while the Roman de la Rose is part of this Digital Library. With these digital surrogates, we can see how a 14th-century artist illuminated two different secular texts, and compare the illustrations of courtly love in UC 1380 to those of an ideal society in UC 392.

Roman de la Rose Donations

We have launched a Roman de la Rose donations page available at As this page indicates, the generous support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has allowed us to build the Roman de la Rose Digital Library, but we will need your contributions to help sustain and further develop this resource. We realize that economic conditions are difficult, so your donations will be especially appreciated.

Popup bug with IE fixed

Popping up the flash image viewing application was not working with Internet Explorer. The bug has been fixed.

The problem involved different ways in which browsers treat arguments to the Javascript method

Page turner bug

We recently found a bug with the page turner. If a user selects a folio by using the text box and then goes to the next page using the slider button or corner/edge dragging, the book will flip forward one page and then immediately back one page.

The source of the problem appears to be the flash application, but its not entirely clear. For the time being we have removed the slider and disabled corner/edge dragging. Pages can still be turned by clicking on the larger buttons pointing right and left.

Alternatively we could keep the slider and dragging behaviour by having the text box reload the entire page turner when a folio is entered. Let us know if you would prefer this option.

The viewing tools

With the high resolution images on the site, and using such viewing tools as the “zoom in” button, the “drag image” button, and the “popup window” button, the user interested in illustrations of the Roman de la Rose is now able to examine and compare these in greater detail than ever before. This is perhaps especially helpful in identifying artists and their different methods of work in the various manuscripts. For instance, the artist Jeanne de Montbaston, who lived and worked in Paris in the second quarter of the fourteenth century, is thought responsible for all 42 illuminations of Walters 143. This includes the border and frontispiece with four scenes on folio 1r and the 41 framed panel illustrations that follow.

We are better able to understand Jeanne’s use of thin brown lines to represent facial features and drapery by zooming in on the illumination on folio 69v of Walters 143, for example, and to see that the face of the character of Faux Semblant (False Seeming), who is tonsured and dressed in the black and white robes of a Dominican, was rubbed away and then redrawn by a hand different from Jeanne’s. If we use the “drag image” button to move a little to the right, we find the letters “b” and “a” have been written beside the scene. These are possibly directions for Jeanne made by the scribe. What the letters might have indicated to her remains unknown. Perhaps someone has an idea they would like to suggest or can find other directions to Jeanne in Walters 143 using the different viewing tools.

Known technical issues

Below is a list of the technical issues we know about. Some of them may be fixed as time goes on. More bug reports are welcome!

Missing search result thumbnails

When search results are displayed, the Erez image server is asked to generate a thumbnail for each result. But for various reasons some images are missing. The browser displays a broken link for the missing image. Because information about the images making up a book is only loaded when the book is selected, the website cannot know which search results correspond to missing images.

This will be fixed when we add a “missing image” image.

Fragile bookmarks

FSI notepad bookmarks are stored in cookies in the client browser and depend on the order of images in a book being fixed. But addressing foliation errors requires that we change the order. The change will make bookmarks inaccurate. This is a limitation of FSI.

Page turner / Image browser bookmark separation

FSI notepad bookmarks for the page turner and image browser are separated. Bookmarks made in one cannot show up in another. This is a limitation of FSI.

Webkit layout bug

Webkit, used by Safari and Google Chrome among others, has a problem with our CSS. It causes the header to be slightly offset. I’ve been unable to figure out what is going on. Help is welcome!

Minor page turner inconsistency

As pages are flipped in the page turner, two image names are shown. When one image is picked, only the name of that image is shown. If the user then goes back to the two page display, only the last selected image name is displayed until the page is flipped. This is caused by odd choices in the design of FSI callbacks.