Book of the Hunt

Ms. 10218 - Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)

Alternate Titles:

Jagdbuch des Königs Modus

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Alternate Titles

Jagdbuch des Königs Modus

Extent / Format

214 pages / 29.9 x 20.5 cm


Philip the Good (1396 - 1467), duke of Burgundy


56 miniatures, some marginal miniatures and continuously with gold initials

Short description

In the Late Middle Ages, Flanders and the Netherlands emerged as the site of arguably the most refined manuscripts of the epoch. The Flemish stlye flourished under the patronage of the Dukes of Burgundy, whose power surpassed the actual kings of their day and whose court was the most refined in all of Europe. Although the Burgundian state did not endure as an independent political entity, it has left behind a fabulous artistic legacy including fantastic illuminated manuscripts. The Book of the Hunt of King Modus is a classically styled 14th century text in the form of a diaglogue between a student and a teacher, the allegorical King Modus, on the topic of hunting. The 15th century manuscript features 56 magnificent miniatures that not only illustrate the text but also display the sumptuous lifestyle of the Burgundian nobility.

Facsimile editions available


Radiant Flemish Miniatures of the Hunt

The Book of the Hunt of King Modus – this is the title of a work conceived in 1370 by Henri de Ferrières, a knowledgeable expert of the art and practice of hunting. The Norman nobleman, who exchanged the pen against the sword as an old man, wrote the first treatise on hunting in the French language, which has since been copied several times. It is assumed that this manuscript was made for Philip the Good, the third of the great dukes of Burgundy who assembled a kingdom more wealthy and powerful than any other in Europe.

Who was King Modus?

The author wished to underline the authority of his text while also capturing the readers’ attention. He therefore patterned this work after the manner of the Greek philosophers, as a dialogue between a student and his teacher conversing on the hunting profession. The teacher in this case is embodied in the allegorical figure of King Modus.

56 Lively Miniatures

The miniatures of our manuscript, which was produced in 1455 in Burgundy, deserve special mention. Their rich golden decoration is not only intended to illustrate the instructions of the text but also to glorify the sumptuous lifestyle of the nobility. They intrigue us with a certain liveliness, the expert representation of animals and the authenticity of the luxurious vestments. The close association with nature was intended by the illuminators who attached great importance to authenticity in their depictions. The book thus displays the pinnacle of Flemish art in a work made for a prince of the high nobility.

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