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    The rules of chivalry.
    Order of the Holy Spirit of the Right Will.
    Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, ms. Français 4274

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    Treccani presents the facsimile reproduction of the manuscript Fr. 4274, which is kept at the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris, containing the Statutes of the Ordre du Saint-Esprit au Droit Désir: a parchment codex, made up of three parchment endpapers and a single quinternion, produced in Naples, which dates back to the 1560s. This work of great artistic and historical value is strongly influenced by Giotto, especially when it comes to the sumptuous illuminations by Cristoforo Orimina – a leading Neapolitan illuminator and a prominent figure in 14th century Italy – who, through his “ars illuminandi”, gives anyone who leafs through the manuscript, and therefore the facsimile, a taste of the fascinating world of chivalry. The Ordre du Saint-Esprit au Droit Désir, also known as the Order of the Knot (‘since a knot was the symbol chosen for its members, representing the solidarity among “compaignons” and, especially, towards the king’, as Alessandro Barbero explains in the commentary contained in the facsimile), was established in 1352 by Louis I, also known as Louis of Taranto, King of Jerusalem and Sicily, with the aim of making the knights of the kingdom subordinate to the monarch. The fact that a collection of Statutes was written in French, which proves that there was a close link between the Order of the Knot and the confraternity established by John II of France in 1350, was meant as a response to this particular need, i.e. to define the hierarchical structure within the Order, the precepts to be observed, and the rewards granted by the sovereign to the knights for their services and acts of devotion.
    While we may assume that all the statutes of the knightly orders established in those days were transcribed in sumptuous illuminated codices, this is the only one that has been perfectly preserved to this day, with wonderful illuminations by Cristoforo Orimina. The decorative painting style of the artist, who played a major role in celebrating the Angevin family, is reminiscent of the frescoes painted by Giotto in the 14th-century Palatine Chapel of the Maschio Angioino, a medieval castle in Naples; Orimina reinterprets Giotto in the style of Pietro Cavallini, thus creating a magnificent and elegant form of expression. The knights, ladies, musicians and the many animals featured in this work demonstrate that the artist had great appreciation for monumental painting and the plasticity of the figures, which can be seen in all his illuminated maps. It is therefore a major contribution to a work of art that not only captures the allure of a vital period in European and Mediterranean cultural tradition, but also provides a unique and well-preserved example of medieval illuminated manuscript art.
    The intriguing references to chivalry in the text take us all the way back to the architectural wonders of Naples during the Angevin period. In fact, the seat of the Order was Castel dell’Ovo, the city’s oldest and most majestic castle, which in the statutes is called Chastel de l’Euf enchanté du merveilleux peril (enchanted castle of the wonderful peril), which is a reference to a well-known legend, according to which a magical egg was hidden by the poet Virgil in the castle’s dungeons, and breaking it would cause the destruction of the city of Naples. In order to fully grasp its meaning and beauty of this manuscript, a commentary of more than 150 pages is provided for the reader, with essays by Alessandro Barbero, Marco Cursi, Giovanni Palumbo and Alessandra Perriccioli Saggese and 24 out-of-text colour plates. 

    The facsimile is printed in four colours plus flexographic gold, gold paste, gold foil and silver on Luxor parchment paper by Cartiere Fedrigoni. It has a 17th-century style hand sewn binding and the spine has five ribs. The front and back covers are made of red morocco leather; the back covers, the recto of the front endpaper and the verso of the back endpaper are covered with marbled paper in the colours light blue, red, green and orange. The cover plates are decorated with a gilded double-threaded frame surmounted by palmettes, a gold embossed frieze with phytomorphic, zoomorphic and floral motifs; the spine, which has six ribs, features phytomorphic gilded decorations. It is contained in a wooden slipcase, covered in setalux on the outside and velvet on the inside, with engravings on the cover and spine. Print run of 299 hand-numbered copies plus 13 unnumbered copies.