There are seventeen manuscripts in the collection of Agnes of Burgundy, duchess of Bourbon from 1434 to 1456, and at least four were given to her by her brother Philip III of Burgundy, also known as Philip the Good. He probably gave them to her between 1462 and 1466, while she was staying with him after he had suffered a serious illness. These manuscripts are BnF lat. 1183, a book of hours; BnF fr. 92, Les Trois fils de rois ou La Cronique de Naples (The Three Kings’ Sons, or the Chronicle of Naples); Chantilly MS 129, containing Pourquoi Dieu s’est fait homme and Soliloque sur le gage de l’ame, which are Pierre Crapillet d’Annoire’s French translations of Saint Anselm’s Why God Became Man and Hugh of Saint Victor’s Soliloquy on the Earnest Money of the Soul; and Chantilly MS 737, Jean Miélot’s translation of the Passion saint Adrien (Passion of Saint Adrian). None of these manuscripts stands out as unusual in Agnes’s collection, which comprises romances as well as an encyclopedia; a variety of religious texts including sermons, a Passion, and poems by Gautier de Coinci; and allegorical works by Christine de Pizan. In other words, Philip gave his sister books that he believed she would read. While this might seem to be a perfectly understandable expression of familial affection, it does beg the question of whether such gifts were typical of aristocrats in fifteenth-century French-speaking Europe, and what significance they had in gifting culture as a whole. This study provides a brief overview of aristocratic gifting culture and the book’s role in it before returning to examine the contents of Philip’s gifts to Agnes, with a focus on the notable impact that women’s literary preferences may have had on the contents of books they received as gifts and therefore on the shaping of collections associated with these women.


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pp. 290-309
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