Press release

A fine romance...

The finest surviving copy of the 15th century romance Gillion de Trazegnies, has had a temporary export bar placed on it to provide a last chance to raise the £3,849,250 needed to keep the manuscript in the UK.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government



Culture Minister Ed Vaizey took the decision to defer granting an export licence for the manuscript following a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA), on the grounds of the manuscript’s aesthetic importance and it’s outstanding significance for the study of illuminated manuscripts and of 15th century Netherlandish secular art.

The text tells the story of a crusading knight, based on Gilles I (1134-61), Lord of Trazegnies, and his relative Gilles le Brun (1199 -1276), who was a champion of the first Crusade of St Louis. Whilst the author is unknown, the book was commissioned by the renowned bibliophile Louis of Gruuthuse, and of the more than two hundred manuscripts remaining from his impressive library, this manuscript is arguably the finest artistically.

Lavishly illustrated, the manuscript includes eight half-page miniatures with painted borders and forty-four historiated initials, all by Lieven Van Lathem (fl. 1454-93), one of the most successful painters in the Low Countries during this period. The manuscript is extremely rare and there are no other copies of the text in the UK.

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said:

This stunning manuscript is an exquisite example of Flemish illumination and it would be wonderful if the extra time granted by the export allows a buyer to come forward and ensure it remains in a UK collection.

The decision on the export licence application for the manuscript will be deferred for a period ending on 3 July 2013 inclusive. This period may be extended until 3 November 2013 inclusive if a serious intention to raise funds to purchase the manuscript at the recommended price of £3,849,250.

Offers from public bodies for less than the recommended price through the private treaty sale arrangements, where appropriate, may also be considered by Mr Vaizey. Such purchases frequently offer substantial financial benefit to a public institution wishing to acquire the item.

For media information contact: Sam Gough, Media Relations Officer, Arts Council England Tel: 020 7973 5189 or 07872 416 679 Email:

Notes to Editors

  1. An image of the manuscript is available on the DCMS flickr account.

  2. Organisations or individuals interested in purchasing the manuscript should contact RCEWA on 0845 300 6200.

  3. The Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest is an independent body, serviced by Arts Council England, which advises the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on whether a cultural object, intended for export, is of national importance under specified criteria.

  4. Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. Between 2011 and 2015, it will invest £1.4 billion of public money from government and an estimated £1 billion from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.

Press Enquiries: 020 7211 6145 Public Enquiries: 020 7211 6000

Published 4 April 2013