Music for the Eyes: Manuscripts from the Frank Cooper Facsimile Collection
Music for the Eyes: Facsimiles: Cancioniero de Juana la Loca

Cancioniero de Juana la Loca

Juana la Loca

One of the smallest facsimiles in our collection (at only 11 by 9 cm. when closed),this little songbook is actually one of a set of four partbooks. This book contains the superius, or highest voice part for the twenty-two songs included within. One of the other partbooks is lost, while the remaining two are incomplete. Nevertheless, information in these other books helps to date the set to around 1511. An unusual mix of French, Latin, and Flemish works indicates that this set originated in the Flemish region of Belgium. The illuminated miniatures and format of the book are similar to those of books of hours (devotional books) of Queen Joanna I of Castile (1479-1555, nicknamed “Juana la Loca” or “Joanna the Mad”). Thus scholars have concluded that this book was commissioned by the queen.

This facsimile of the songbook was created by Patrimonio Ediciones. The miniatures are faithfully recreated in full color and highlighted with gold and silver, and the green, tooled leather binding recreates the original binding. One of a limited edition of 999 copies, this beautiful facsimile is a treasured addition to the library’s collection.

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Elaborate Initials

This example shows the elaborate initials found throughout the cancioniero. Most are in black ink, like the one on the left. Some, however, are in red, as is the one on the right. The miniature scene at the bottom right margin is one of the few in the codex that does not stretch the entire length of the margin.

Boating Party

The detailed miniature of a boating party accompanies the chanson “En lombre dung buissonet tout a loing dune riviere” (“In the shade of a grove along a river”). The text presents a dialogue between a young man and a shepherdess, and the image reflects the idyllic, pastoral scene of that exchange.

Weeping Eyes

This slightly surreal image of disembodied eyes weeping into a golden well represents the sentiment of the chanson “Le grand doiel” (“The great grief”). One of only four works unique to this manuscript, this song describes the “great grief” of a lovelorn young man.

Faces in Initial

While elaborately detailed initials are common to manuscripts of the time, the initial in this example is notable for the type of detail it contains: delicately drawn faces look out to the left and right. The miniature on this page shows a young man lying on a bed, gazing into the distance with a mournful expression on his face. The chanson, appropriately, is a courtly love lament that includes the text “I am sorry that I am not dead.”

Heart pictogram

The last song in the codex is the Flemish song “Myn hert heeft altijt verlanghen” (“My heart has always longed”). Because the codex is missing a folio, a portion of this song is missing as well. However, we are still treated to lovely images of flowers, and a caterpillar and butterfly also adorn this final page. In addition, this example shows the use of the pictogram to replace the word “heart” in the text of the song.