Book Series Manuscripta Illuminata, vol. 2

The Bar Books: Manuscripts Illuminated for Renaud de Bar, Bishop of Metz (1303-1316)

Kay Davenport

  • Pages: 728 p.
  • Size:216 x 280 mm
  • Illustrations:254 b/w, 45 col.
  • Language(s):English, French
  • Publication Year:2018

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-57467-7
  • Hardback
  • Available

This study gives an overview of the man and his books, paying special attention to the heraldry, the calendars, and the marginalia in three appendices.


"The author deserves congratulations for a study full of new and provocative insights that will be of use to scholars across a broad spectrum of medieval studies.”(Richard A. Leson, in Manuscript Studies, 4/1, 2019, p. 172)

“Overall, this is a meticulous study, particularly of the division of artists’ hands and of the superabundant heraldry. It sheds light on a fascinating patron and his group of liturgical manuscripts, and it will certainly be the starting point for all future studies of these codices.” (Anna Russakoff, in Speculum, 95/3, 2020, p. 817)

« La grande clarté du propos, la qualité de l’apparat graphique, les nombreuses tables généalogiques, les mille détails enfin que mettent en lumière la reproduction simplifiée et scrupuleuse à la fois des blasons, marginalia et jusqu’aux plus infimes éléments du décor secondaire nous convainquent une fois encore, s’il en était besoin, de la haute valeur symbolique attachée au livre par les puissants du Moyen Âge et de la manière dont ils surent en user dans leur stratégie de pouvoir. » (Marianne Besseyre, in Francia Recensio, 1, 2021)




Kay Davenport was born in Dallas, Texas and received a BA from the College of William and Mary. She did a postgraduate degree at Oxford and taught at the University of Auckland. After completing a Ph.D at the Courtauld, she re-trained as a solicitor and practiced in a City firm in London. She now lives in West Cork, Ireland.


Renaud de Bar (d. 1316) was the sixty-ninth bishop of Metz, and the fourth son of the powerful count of Bar. The house of Bar had a distinguished lineage intertwined with most of the important European houses, and Renaud’s eldest brother married the eldest daughter of the king of England. In the last century, as manuscripts were identified and attributed, realisation has gradually dawned that he commissioned six de luxe manuscripts for his particular use in the course of his rapid rise to the episcopacy. The heraldry of his Breviary in two volumes is unique, astonishing in a church book, as it contains about 180 non-Bar shields of arms in two-line initials, in addition to about 225 shields of Bar and Toucy, belonging to his immediate family, and his own personal shield which in the course of the book is scrupulously modified to reflect his elevation to the chair at Metz. This detailed study gives a novel overview of the man and his books, paying special attention to the heraldry, the calendars, and the marginalia in three appendices.



Chapter I: Renaud de Bar

Chapter II: The Books

VBI (Verdun Breviary, winter volume, BL. Yates Thompson MS 8)

VBII (Verdun Breviary, summer volume, Verdun B.m. MS 107)

M. (Verdun Missal revised for Metz, Verdun B.m. MS 98)

R (Metz Ritual, Metz B.m. MS 43, destroyed)

PI (Metz Pontifical, first volume, Fitzwilliam MS 298)

PII (Metz Pontifical, second volume, Prague MS XXIII.c.120)

Chapter III: The Artists

Artists I and II

Heraldic Borders

Artist III

Artist IV and the Unfinished Quire 8

Artists V and VI

Chapter IV: The Heraldry of the Breviary



Appendix I: Heraldric Shield Initials

Appendix II: Bar Book Calendars, Metz/Verdun Calendars

Appendix III: Marginal Figures