Alexander incunable

The KB acquired Die hystorie vanden grooten Coninck Alexander on 14 March 2009, with the generous support of the Mondriaan Foundation and the Friends of the KB. The book is about Alexander the Great, the legendary commander who was very popular in the Middle Ages. In 1477 the text was printed for the first time in Gouda by the enterprising businessman-printer Gheraert Leeu.

This edition is special because it is the earliest secular prose story in the Dutch language that ever has been printed. At that time most printed books were in Latin and in rhyme, and treated religious subjects. This copy is the fourth edition, published in 1491 by an acquaintance of Leeu, the Delft printer Christiaen Snellaert.


G. Cary, The medieval Alexander. Cambridge 1956
W.P. Gerritsen, ‘Gheraert Leeu’s Historie van Alexander en Handschrift Utrecht UB 1006’. In: H.F. Hofman e.a. (red.), Uit bibliotheektuin en informatieveld. [Deventer]/ Utrecht, 1978, p. 139-163
S.S. Hoogstra, Prozabewerkingen van het Leven van Alexander den Groote. Den Haag 1898.
D.J.A. Ross, Illustrated Medieval Alexander-Books in Germany and the Netherlands. Cambridge 1971