THE RARE BOOK AND
MANUSCRIPT LIBRARY
OF COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

Treasures


8 Walter Map ca. 1140-1210
La Mort du Roi Artus
French manuscript on vellum and paper, 94 leaves, northern France, fourteenth century (Western 24)
The tales of King Arthur's court were among the most popular literary subjects of the Middle Ages. This manuscript, recounting the final destruction of the fellowship of the Round Table, is the last section of a cycle of chivalric stories known as the prose Lancelot, which brings together what came to be regarded as the most famous legends of knightly adventure. Walter Map, Anglo-Norman ecclesiastic and archdeacon of Oxford during the reign of Henry II (1154-1189), was traditionally believed to be the author, but present scholarship dates its composition after Map's death. Lancelot was a widely influential work: Chaucer and Dante both refer to it, and Malory's Le Mort d'Arthur is heavily in its debt. More than one hundred manuscripts, containing the cycle in whole or in part, are known; this is one of two recorded manuscripts of La Mort du Roi Artus in the United States.
Bequest of Roger Sherman Loomis

Collections and Treasures