Maciejowski Bible

Pictures from the Maciejowski Bible
S.C. Cockerell, Old Testament Miniatures, Phaidon Press Ltd - London

The Maciejowski Bible illustrates the first part of the Old Testament, from Genesis to David. The pictures were probably made around AD 1250 by Parisian artists. A facsimile was published in 1927. I used the reprinted version from either 1969 or 1975 (in the book itself there is no date to be found).
The 92 folios offer a wealth of information about the 13th century. The selection here is very personal. It contains complete pictures and details, mainly chosen for their relevance to living history. Thus, I have chosen scenes that include clothing, utensils, furniture, armour, etc. Sometimes I have enlarged a detail that I found particularly interesting. Several pictures look pretty bizarre, that is because the original story (the Bible) contains some gruesome episodes. The artists have done their best to picture those episodes as vividly as they could.

Click on the numbers below to view the scans. Most scans are between 100 and 200 Kb (5 Mb in total).

This website was created in 2001, when storage was expensive and Internet connections were slow. The size of the scans (not more than 231 Kb) was in line with those circumstances.
Nowadays there is a website offering scans of the complete Maciejowski Bible in a much better quality: The Crudader Bible of The Morgan Library & Museum.
My old website will remain available, for the time being, because some people may find in handy to search for a specific topic using the list with keywords, and then switch to the quality pics at The Morgan Library.




Folio 3 Recto - top The tower of Babel mason, working men's dress
Folio 3 Recto - bottom The capture of Lot, Abraham's nephew chainmail, tent
Folio 3 Verso - top The rescue of Lot tent, chainmail, weapons
Folio 4 Recto - bottom Esau's offering of meat (detail) archer, dog, chair
Folio 8 Recto The water turned to blood / The plague of lice and mice (details) chair
Folio 8 Verso - bottom The passover and the slaying of the firstborn (detail) cloak
Folio 9 Recto - bottom The children of Israel sing praises for their deliverance
The bitter water of Marah
tent, music
Folio 10 Recto - top
The Israelites are repulsed from Hai horse, weapon, helmet, shield, chainmail, gambeson, crossbow
Folio 10 Verso - top The city of Hai is captured and its King is hanged horse, weapon, helmet, shield, chainmail, gambeson, crossbow
Folio 10 Verso - bottom The Gibeonites make peace by craft tent, helmet, poor men's dress
Folio 11 Recto - top
Joshua rescues Gibeon from the five kings horse, weapon, helmet, shield, chainmail
Folio 12 Recto - bottom Barak attacks Sisera (detail) horse & wagon
Folio 12 Verso - bottom The calling of Gideon and the kindling of his sacrifice (detail) underwear, coif
Folio 13 Recto - bottom The Midianites are overthrown lamps, trumpets, horses
Folio 14 Verso - bottom Samson slays the Philistines with the jawbone of an ass weapon, helmet
Folio 15 Recto - bottom Delilah shears his locks from Samson scissors
Folio 16 Recto - top
A Levite and his wife are generously entertained
The Levite is constrained to yield his wife to the wantons of Gibeah
table, dishes & bowls, knife, weapon, tunic, head dress
Folio 16 Verso - top The Levite takes his dead wife home
The Levite hews the corpse in pieces
Folio 17 Recto - top The Benjamites win them wives from the daughters of Shiloh music, mi-parti, ladies dress
Folio 17 Various scenes - details head dress
Folio 18 Recto - bottom The sleeping Boaz is compromised by Ruth while his corn is being threshed (detail) underwear, coif, straw hat
Folio 20 Recto - bottom The priests's servant taking an offering for his master (detail) cauldron, fork
Folio 20 Verso - top God calls Samual and reveals the coming destruction of Eli and his house bed, curtain, sleeping dress
Folio 21 Verso - top The Ark comes to Beth-Shemesh cows & wagon, straw hat, coif
Folio 23 Recto - top Saul summons Israel to fight the Ammonites cattle, table
Folio 23 Verso - top Saul destroys Nahash and the Ammonites trebuchet, horse, weapon, helmet, archer, longbow
Folio 24 Verso - bottom Saul destroys the Amelakites, but he spares their king Agag and the best of their cattle helmet, weapon, shield, mace, horse, cattle
Folio 25 Recto - bottom Agag is brought to Samuel chainmail, underwear, cloak
Folio 25 Verso - top The elders of Bethlehem would know Samuel's errand (detail) tunic, gloves
Folio 25 Verso - bottom David playing a pipe music, sheep
Folio 26 Verso - top David comes to Saul with Jesse's offerings (detail) hood
Folio 27 Recto - top Goliath, a giant of the Philistines helmet, sword, shield, scabbard, lance, schynbalds
Folio 28 Recto - bottom David rejects the unaccustomed armour chainmail
Folio 29 Recto - top David is met by the women of Israel after slaying Goliath music, mi-parti, ladies dress
Folio 33 Recto - bottom David shears off a piece of Saul's mantle in the cave at Engedi underwear, cloak
Folio 34 Recto - top David takes the cup and spear from Saul sleaping in his tent and displays them to Saul from a hilltop tent, chainmail
Folio 35 Verso - top
They hang Saul's body from the wall of Beth-San
The valiant men of Jabesh-Gilead remove the body
underwear, helmet
Folio 38 Verso - top
The assassins of Ishbosheth bring his head to David and are themselves slain underwear, chair
Folio 41 Recto - bottom David attacks the Syrians and slays Shobach their captain horse, helmets, weapons, chainmail
Folio 41 Verso - bottom David commits adultery with Bathseba bed, curtain, candle, sex
Folio 42 Recto - top Uriah will not go to his house but abides at David's door tent, table, dishes, house
Folio 42 Verso - bottom A son is born to David and Bathseba bed, curtain, cradle

For other illuminated manuscripts from about AD 1300, have a look at these pages:

Tempora Nostra - the full contents of The Codex Manesse (also known as Manesseschen Liederhandschrift or Großen Heidelberger Liederhandschrift); site in German.
Heidelberg University - another German site presenting the complete Codex Manesse.
Koninklijke Bibliotheek (Royal Library) - high quality digital versions of Dutch medieval manuscripts; in English, with search engine.
Web Gallery of Art - miniatures from the 12th to 16th centuries.
The Huntingfield Psalter - Oxford, circa 1220.
Netserf Manuscript Illumination Page - an index to many interesting webpages.

Many thanks to Joram van Essen for lending me his copy of the Maciejowski Bible.

Maciejowski Bible
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