René of Anjou: Le Livre du Coeur d’Amour Épris

Our new translation of René of Anjou's Le Livre du Coeur d’Amour Épris (The Book of the Heart Seized by Love) is now available on the website here. In this edition the text is complemented by many contemporary illustrations, including the famous series by Barthélemy d'Eyck from the Vienna codex. Printed book and Kindle editions etc. are in preparation. 

René of Anjou(1409–1480) was Duke of Anjou and Count of Provence from 1434 to 1480, and also reigned as King of Naples from 1435 to 1442. He spent his last years in Aix-en-Provence, and was known there as the Good King René. He was a great-grandson of John II of France, and his sister Marie married Charles VII of France. He was also for several years Duke of Bar and Duke of Lorraine. His younger daughter Margaret married Henry VI of England.

Twice wed, Rene took a lesser part in military and political affairs after his second marriage, devoting himself to the arts and domestic pursuits. An amateur painter himself, he sponsored a number of works in the Early Netherlandish style, employing Barthélemy d’Eyck as his court artist, developing, as patron, a school of fine arts in sculpture, painting, goldsmith’s work and tapestry. He also revived a lapsed order of chivalry, the Order of the Crescent.

He exchanged verses with his kinsman, the poet Charles d’Orléans, was influenced by the works of Alain Chartier, and amongst other creative efforts, was the author of two allegorical works: a devotional dialogue, Le Mortifiement de vaine plaisance (The Mortification of Vain Pleasure, 1455), and the love quest translated here, Le Livre du Coeur d’Amour Épris (The Book of the Heart Seized by Love, 1457). This latter employs the conventions of Arthurian romance to create a detailed allegory of love with affinities to Guillaume de Lorris’ original Romance of the Rose, developing and enriching the efforts of previous writers, and encapsulating the Medieval period to the benefit of the imminent Renaissance. Both of the aforesaid works by René were finely illustrated by Barthélémy d’Eyck. René also sponsored a fresh translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses (1467). Two of the finest extant illuminated manuscripts of Le Livre du Coeur d’Amour Épris are Codex 2597 in the Austrian National Library (Vienna), and fr. 24399 in the Bibliothèque Nationale (Paris).

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