Louis de Gruuthuse is a book lover. More precisely: a manuscript lover. You'll find out all about that in this room. The art of book printing emerges during his lifetime, but Louis only purchases handwritten books, in other words: manuscripts. Existing as well as custom-made ones. Many of these sumptuous manuscripts contain magnificent miniatures. It is the last great heyday of this art form.
Louis' library is the second largest in the Low Countries after that of the Dukes of Burgundy. Apart from being a hobby, it is also a status symbol, something to show off. Just like other prominent citizens of Bruges do, following the example set by the dukes. The ducal library had around 900 manuscripts, while Louis possessed around 150.
One of Louis' suppliers is Colard Mansion. He is one of Bruges’ most important printers during this pioneering age of book printing. That's right: Mansion is a printer, but Louis orders manuscripts from him. Mansion continues to produce manuscripts throughout his career, for the dukes, among others.
Many of the manuscripts from Louis' library have been preserved, but not here: the King of France acquires most of them shortly after Louis' death, probably via Louis son Jean, who is in the service of the French court. France’s Bibliothèque Nationale keeps them in Paris to this very day.
What does Louis read? More specifically: which manuscripts does he own? What texts do they contain? Some are religious works. But there are also books with translations of ancient Roman stories, and voluminous historical chronicles. Almost all of them are in French. Louis' contemporaries have an interest in Humanism and they also read Latin texts. One of them is Abbot Jan Crabbe of the famous Ten Duinen Abbey in Koksijde.
The manuscripts commissioned by Louis de Gruuthuse were truly luxurious products. They took an extremely long time to create. Here you can see and feel how a page is constructed. Note the many references to Louis, which made it clear that the expensive manuscript belonged to him.