Chartres Bible (first of two volumes)


The 12th century saw the production of large-format ‘giant’ Bibles. In part, their popularity was due to the needs of newly established abbeys and the Gregorian reform movement, following changes introduced by Pope Gregory VII (r. 1073–85). The Pope promoted a strict adherence to the Benedictine Rule, which required regular biblical readings throughout the liturgical year.

This Bible is characteristically huge (530 x 365 mm), and lavish in its decoration. Named after its probable place of origin, it is divided in two volumes, the second now BnF Latin 116. The beginning of each biblical book is marked by a painted initial, some being historiated with scenes relating to the text. The first volume opens with Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament, and ends with the text of the Book of Job.

This manuscript was digitised with the support of The Polonsky Foundation.

Full title:
The Chartres Bible
Mid-12th century, Chartres
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
Bibliothèque nationale de France
Latin 55

Full catalogue details

Related articles

French manuscript illumination

Article by:
Charlotte Denoël
Art and illumination, Making manuscripts, Christian religion and belief

Drawings and painted decoration in manuscripts ornamented the text as well as illustrated or commented on it. Charlotte Denoël outlines the history of manuscript art in early medieval France.

The origins of the Bibliothèque nationale de France’s collections of manuscripts

Article by:
Charlotte Denoël
Medieval manuscript collections today

Charlotte Denoël provides insight into the historic collections of illuminated manuscripts now in the national library of France.

Related collection items