Category:MS. LUDWIG XIII 5 (Getty museum) - Mirror of history

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Unknown Flemish, Ghent, about 1475 Tempera colors, gold leaf, and gold paint on parchment bound between wood boards covered with brown morocco


The Speculum maius is considered the masterwork of Vincent de Beauvais, a thirteenth-century monk. With almost ten thousand chapters and over three million words, this ambitious text attempts to give a universal summary of the world in three parts: nature, history, and the arts and sciences. The section concerning history, called the Mirror of History, for example, endeavors to provide a comprehensive history of the world from Creation until 1254.

Although Beauvais tried to compile a carefully organized and factually accurate summary of human knowledge, his history of mankind actually blends together biblical, mythical, and historical events. Nonetheless, the Speculum maius was a stunning achievement, and the text's popularity and influence in the Middle Ages is evident in its survival in a number of luxurious illuminated manuscripts. The Miroir historial ( Mirror of History ) is Jean de Vignay's French translation of the 1300s from the original Latin.

The Getty's copy of the Miroir historial dates to the 1400s and contains 132 miniatures by a number of different Flemish artists, but does not cover the entire period of history from Creation to 1254. Instead, the two-volume set ends with the death of the Virgin and an anthology of miracles she performed after her death.

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