The Boccaccio`s Decameron


Biblioteca del Arsenal de París (Ms. 5070).

The Paris manuscript of Boccaccio,s Decameron was so much more than just another example of the "collections of tales" genre that had preceded it both in Europe as in the Eastern tradition that, however many models we may compare it with, this still fails to explain the impressive fresh moderm feel of the manuscript and the great pleasure produced by contemplating its extraordinary miniatures. The work is beyond a shadow of a doubt a genuine Renaissance treasure.

In the 18th century it belonged to the library of Marquis de Paulmy, founder of the Arsenal de Paris, the library where it is kept today.
The Marquis de Paulmy received this is the form of a legacy from his uncle the Count d´Argenson, who was Loui XV`s minister of war and a keen bibliophile. In 1748, during the war of the Austrian succession, he visited the Bourgogne Library in Brussels and brought to Paris a certain number of prestigious manuscripts, one of which was this extraordinary Decameron, which he had bound in olive coloured leadther with the coat of arms, the binding still kept today
Ms 5070 of the library of the Arsenal of Paris, is doubtlssly the most important manuscript Boccaccio´s Decameron of all the ones kept.

It does not contain the Italian version of the text, but its frist translation int French, written around 1414 by the great French humanist Laurent de Premierfait.

The manuscript is properly documented, It was copied around 1445-1450 by copiyst Guillebert de Mets, in Gramont, eastern Flanders for Duke of Bourgogne Philippe le Bon, a great collector and book lover. We know that the frist of the two artits who illustrated the manusscript was of Flemish origin,working in Touani and in Lille during the decade from 1430 to 1440, specialising in books of hours. Hits fine style witn Italianisms. The second artists whose named Jean Mansel, remarkable for the delicacy of his colours, and could seemingly have worked in Amiens.

The black plague, the Great Western Schism, the rivalries between feudal lords,the crusades, the incipient urban burqueoisie, all form a lively tapestry in which moralistic sermons and more easygoing customs all combine . . .This context whith saw teh emergence of waht is, according to Vittorre Branca, the most important work in the universal Literature and the one with greatest influence on today`s times: Boccacio`s Decameron.

Thecnical Information: The edition consist of a facsimile volume reproducing the original work, which is kept in Paris at the Arsenal Library measuring 28,50x40 cm. on four hundred sheets, plus a study volume containing a history of the manuscript, codicological study, study of the miniature, introduction to the text, translation to Spanish and English

Autors:Danielle Muzerelle, manuscript curator
Marie-Hélène Tesniére, specialist in the Decameron miniature, who has written contless works on the manusscript

El manuscrito parisino Decamerón de Boccaccio, logró superar hasta tal punto el género de las "colecciones de cuentos" que le habían precedido, tanto en Europa como en la tradición oriental, que por muchos modelos que comparemos nada explica suficientemente la impresionante modernidad y frescura que el manuscrito aporta y el enorme placer que produce contemplar sus extraordinarias miniaturas.

Sin lugar a dudas se trata de un auténtico tesoro renacentista.


La edición se compone de un volumen reproducción en facsímil del manuscrito original que se conserva en París, en la Biblioteca del Arsenal, medidas 28x50x40 cm. y cuatrocientos folios con más de cien miniaturas.

Volumen de estudio conteniendo: la historia del manuscrito, estudio codicológico, estudio de la miniatura, introducción en el texto, traducción al castellano e inglés.


Danielle Muzerelle, conservadora del manuscrito.

Marie-Hélène Tesniére, especialista en la miniatura del Decamerón, habiendo realizado innumerables trabajos sobre el manuscrito.

María Hernández Esteban, profesora de filología italiana de la U.C.M.