Isabeau de Roubaix was the last of a noble, northern French family whose fortune had been established by her grandfather, Jean de Roubaix, counsellor to Philip the Good. Isabeau was the châtelaine* of Roubaix and was married to Jacques de Luxembourg in 1464.
In the late 1480s, Isabeau founded the Hospital of Saint Elizabeth for the Black Sisters of the Order of St Augustine (it was part-hospital, part-convent). The illuminated manuscript seen above (as well as at least one other decorated manuscript) was bequeathed to the Order when Isabeau died (sometime between 1494 and 1502).
'Le Livre de l'Heures d'Isabeau de Roubaix' (the Book of Hours of Isabella of Roubaix*) is a vellum manuscript consisting of one hundred and ninety one sheets. The liturigical text was composed or arranged locally, but the manuscript itself was produced - specifically for Isabeau - by two scribes in a Flemish workshop in about 1460. There are seventeen pages with miniatures surrounded by exquisite arabesques highlighted with gold. Historiated and decorated initials are found on every page. Roubaix coats of arms can be seen among the border decoration in many of the above images
the fifth image from the top and third image from the bottom.
The manuscript was lost for about forty years from the time of the French Revolution and the St Augustine nun who rediscovered it passed it over the Mayor's office from where it found its way to the Roubaix Library.
- 'MS_006: Heures d'Isabeau de Roubaix' is the featured treasure among the Manuscrits Anciens et Modernes de la Médiathèque de Roubaix. [via]
- There is an html slideshow displaying details from the manuscript accompanied by brief commentary in French that I was able to follow until the link appeared to die halfway through the twenty eight slides; but this might be due to my own - continuing - connection problems. (?)
- The announcement post from 2006 on Le Blog de la Médiathèque de Roubaix [trans.]
- There is little else around worth linking that relates directly to the manuscript (or even Isabeau): the notes above were distilled from brief mentions in a variety of secondary commentaries and books. But the 'Leaves of Gold' website, from the collaborative efforts of a number of Philadelphia cultural institutions, is always a worthwhile overview accompaniment to illuminated works. [The Wikipedia page has links to a number of Books of Hours]
- To all those people who have commented or sent emails to which I've not replied because I was too busy or too lazy or forgot, and to the rest of the faceless silent hordes who traipse through this rest-stop and who, like me, find some measure of beauty or solace or interesting weirdness in this crazy world among the illustrated cultural history we are privileged to have access to online, I wish a peaceful and happy new year.