Manuscript illuminator from Bruges and author of the oldest known representations of a castelet (see Puppet Stages). These drawings by Jehan de Grise are found in an illuminated manuscript called Li romans du boin roi Alixandre (The Romance of the Good King Alexander), created in his workshop from 1338 to 1344 and preserved at Oxford (Bodleian Library, Ms 264, 274 fol.). The principal text (208 folios) is the Roman d’Alexandre (Story of Alexander) by Lambert le Tort and Alexandre de Bernay, written in French verse around 1170-1180. The manuscript, which was brought fairly early on to England, was bound around 1400 with an English verse poem, Alexander and Dindimus and with a Marco Polo in French from the end of the 14th century (Livres du grannt Caam).
The volume owes its fame not to the miniatures illustrating the Roman, but to the coloured drawings which, at the bottom of the pages and bearing no apparent relation to the text, represent in a very life-like style the types of jobs, games and entertainments of the 14th century. The two illuminations that are of interest to puppetry historians are found in the folios 54v and 76r. The first folio corresponds to verses 1111-1178 of the branch III of the Roman, in which Alexander sees his knights devoured by hippopotamuses. The drawing shows three women or young women in front of what was much later called, in French, a castelet, constituting of a structure evoking a “small castle”, with an arched stage area, a turret on each side and a small crenellated playboard, under which a curtain hides the puppeteer. Two (apparently) glove puppets are on stage: a male character holding a club and a female character. The second folio corresponds to verses 4241-4305 of the same branch which tell the story of how ancient Indian King Porus was killed in single combat (cut “in two halves”), thus giving up India to his adversary Alexander. The drawing shows four young people commenting on a scene being played in a castelet similar to the first, but in which are four puppets: two in the middle who are crossing clubs or swords, and two in the side front areas resembling the turrets in the first castelet. These four puppets seem to imply the presence of at least two puppeteers.