Book Series Texte, Codex & Contexte , vol. 23

The Cent Nouvelles nouvelles (Burgundy-Luxembourg-France, 1458 - c. 1550)

Text and Paratext, Codex and Context

Graeme Small (ed)

  • Pages: 300 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Illustrations:21 b/w, 17 col., 4 tables b/w., 1 maps b/w
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2023

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-58599-4
  • Hardback
  • Forthcoming (Mar/23)


New insights through interdisciplinary research into the social context and reception of the Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles, fifteenth-century Burgundy’s answer to the Decameron.


Graeme Small is an historian of France and the Burgundian Low Countries in the late medieval and early modern periods.


A collaborative investigation of one of the best-known works of late medieval European literature, the Franco-Burgundian collection of short stories known as the Cent Nouvelles nouvelles. Modelled loosely on Boccaccio’s Decameron and incorporating elements from Old French fabliaux as well as Poggio Bracciolini’s Liber Facetiarum, the anonymous collection attributes its morally challenging and frequently humorous tales to named narrators including Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy and Louis of Luxembourg, Count of Saint Pol.

The contribution of this new volume of essays is threefold: - empirical, in that it brings entirely new interdisciplinary insights into the study of the genesis and reception of the work; - methodological, in that it integrates study of the text within a 360-degree evaluation of the work’s manuscript and early printed context; and - conceptual, in that it seeks to understand the social dimensions of textual production and consumption.

These approaches unite ten principal contributions by specialists in the fields of art history, book history, court history and linguistics from France, the Netherlands, the USA and the UK.


Graeme Small (Durham University), ‘Between France and Burgundy, from manuscript to print: the Cent nouvelles nouvelles as a situated use of language’.

I. Text and image in the manuscript setting

Alexandra Velissariou (Université du littoral Côte d’Opale), Narratological readings of the Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles

Using the theoretical frameworks of the narratologists Tomachevski and Todorov, this contribution explores how the close combination of text and image enables the reader to discern the underlying structure of each narrative. These findings complement recent text-image comparisons which identify thematic relations between the tales and the miniatures, such as the work of Dominique Lagorgette on images of violence and nudity.

Maud Pérez-Simon (Université Sorbonne-Nouvelle, Paris 3), Storytelling through architecture. The miniatures of the Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles

This paper explores the dialogical relationship between textual narrative and iconography. The essential coherence of MS Hunter 252 is demonstrated through an examination of the close reading of the texts by the illuminator, and in particular by identifying a methodical iconographic experimentation on the illuminator’s part which establishes a visual structure through the use of architecture, offerting parallels with textual features identified by leading CNN scholar, Madeleine Jeay.

II. Language use in time and space

Geoffrey Roger (University of London Institute in Paris), Localising a Late Middle French manuscript on Graphematic Evidence: The Case of MS Glasgow Hunter 252 ‘Les Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles’

Using well-established methodologies in the field of Middle French scriptology and exploiting the empirical potential of more recent online resources, this study challenges Christine Marchello-Nizia’s contention that the text was produced in the scripta of the Île-de-France. The evidence discussed here clearly demonstrates that the manuscript is instead dominated by forms associated with a quite distinct cultural world, the Somme region and northern and eastern Picardy.

Peter V. Davies (emeritus, University of Glasgow), Stylistic Implications of Linguistic Archaism and Contemporaneity in Glasgow Hunter MS 252

Complementing Roger’s diatopical approach, this contribution examines the language of MS Hunter 252 from a diachronic perspective.It demonstrates how the work bears the imprint of its origins as a cross-generational artefact to which multiple actors contributed and which was eventually brought together by a single author, rather than simply the creation of a single author as some (following Roger Dubuis) persist in believing.

III. The Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles in social context

Edgar De Blieck (independent scholar), The story-tellers of the Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles (c. 1458-69)

Based on the first new archival research since Pierre Champion (1928), this study demonstrates that the text was generated in 1458-59, during a time of crisis between France and Burgundy. The tales reflect the experiences and cultural horizons of specific court figures within these networks, and capture the importance of moral debates as a form of court entertainment and as part of the experience of government.

Hanno Wijsman (Institut de Recherche et d’Histoire des Textes, Paris), ‘MS Hunter 252 and interest in the Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles at the Burgundian court’

Because this intervention compellingly situates the iconographic programme of the manuscript in Paris in the period 1482-83, a discussion of the enduring popularity of the genre of the Nouvelles in the Franco-Burgundian world becomes possible. The manuscript emerged directly from one of the original networks that was responsible for the launch of the literary project of the Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles in the first place, namely the household of the count of Saint Pol, located between France and Burgundy.

IV. From manuscript to print

Mary-Beth Winn (State University of New York), Printing the Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles: Anthoine Vérard’s 1486 edition and its sixteenth-century successors

Antoine Vérard’s first printed edition spawned no fewer than twelve subsequent editions by sixteenth-century publishers, of which this article constitutes the first survey. Vérard’s intent to minimise the ostensibly Burgundian element within the original manuscripts by resoundingly honouring King Louis XI as one of the raconteurs is clearly demonstrated.

Graeme Small (Durham University), Conclusions


Richard Gameson, Andrew Beeby (Durham University) and Catherine Nicholson (Northumbria University), ‘The Material Fabric of Glasgow University Library, Hunter 252’.
A comprehensive, contextualised account of the codicology and palaeography of Glasgow UL, Hunter 252 (the most recent published account of which dates from 1908). using Raman spectroscopy, diffuse reflectance spectroscopy and multispectral imaging.



An up-to-date bibliography of the Cent nouvelles nouvelles did not appear in the 2016 Champion volume. Although ARLIMA provides most recent scholarship, we will add items not covered there.