Alexander Romance. The Travels of Marco Polo.

Bodley 264 - Bodleian Library (Oxford, United Kingdom)

Alternate Titles:

Roman d’Alexandre, Alexander and Dindimus, Livres du graunt Caam

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Alternate Titles

Roman d’Alexandre
Alexander and Dindimus
Livres du graunt Caam

Extent / Format

548 pages / 41.5 x 29.0 cm


175 illustrations and 9 full-page miniatures

Short description

This codex from the Bodleian Library in Oxford counts among the most significant and beautiful manuscripts of the entire Middle Ages. It contains a unique compendium of three famous literary works: the Roman d’Alexandre in French verse, the Middle English text of “Alexander and Dindimus”, and a French edition of Marco Polo’s travelogue “Il Milione”. A gorgeous miniature program – by the Flemish miniaturist Jehan de Grise inter alia – decorates the manuscript. A lively and diverse image of the Middle Ages manifests itself in these paintings and texts!

Facsimile editions available


Alexander Romance. The Travels of Marco Polo.

Codex Bodley 264 of the Bodleian Library in Oxford is actually a compendium consisting of pieces originating from France and England in the years 1338 to 1410. The 548 pages altogether contain a unique anthology of three famous literary works of the Middle Ages: the best-preserved copy of the “Roman d’Alexandre” in French verse, the short text of “Alexander and Dindimus” in English and the French edition of the travelogue “Il Milione” by Marco Polo with the title “Livres de Graunt Caam”. Hidden behind this compendium is one of the most famous and significant manuscripts of the entire Middle Ages!

The Adventures of Alexander the Great

The manuscript is not only of great literary significance, it is also and especially impressive to modern beholders because of its outstanding miniature program. The Alexander Romance is illustrated with wonderful paintings by the Flemish miniaturist Jehan de Grise and his workshop. The legends wrapping themselves around Alexander the Great were illustrated here. It opens up an exciting world with numerous exotic animals, which Alexander presumably encountered during his travels and campaigns. In contrast, numerous scenes of everyday life typical for that time are depicted in the grandiose marginal miniatures. This part presumably originated in Tournai between 1338 and 1344 and was expanded into two sections in England ca. 1400.

A Unique Compendium

The following text concerning Alexander and Dindimus in Middle-English verse is similarly furnished with a few miniatures. Having said this, these distinguish themselves through their less-subtle execution from the first Flemish paintings. The exciting travelogue by Marco Polo in French prose is also illustrated with the miniatures of Jehan de Grise. Aside from the full-page miniatures, numerous smaller miniatures can be found in the text, numbering 175 altogether. Additionally, all sides of the manuscript are adorned with splendid ornamentation, gold leaf, and a grandiose color palette. The paintings present themselves with outstanding quality and impressive ingenuity and, along with the two-column text, convey a vivid portrayal of the Middle Ages!

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