This is another imposing manuscript that originated in the context of the Burgundian court. The author of the text, Martin le Franc (1410-c. 1461) was canon and provost of the Chapter of Lausanne Cathedral but wrote L'Estrif de Fortune et de Vertu at the request of Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy (1393-1467). The work relates a verbal joust between Lady Fortune and Lady Virtue arguing over 'the government of this world', while their referee is Lady Reason. The discussion has as main theme the whims of Fortune and soon turns to the advantage of Virtue. The text concludes that man should make his own destiny, as his success depends on personal conduct and eagerness to enjoy spiritual above worldly goods.
On the final folio of the codex, the copyist mentions that he finished writing in 1482 ('cy fine' and 'fu escript'). However, the painted initials and the three opulent miniatures were added much later. Possibly, the revolt of the Flemish towns among which Bruges and Ghent (1482-1488) against Maximilian as regent of the young Duke Philip the Handsome, caused a halt to the completion of the book - as it did to many others.
The first of the large miniatures shows the author presenting his book to a nobleman wearing the necklace of the Order of the Golden Fleece. He is a prince in a purple robe with ermine fur lapels and lining. The man - who has Habsburg features - is seated on a throne and accepts the book in the presence of two more men. The first man behind the author seems to be a high-ranking courtier – perhaps the tutor of the young man looking on behind him? The movement of his hand suggests he is a partner in the gift, maybe as the commissioner of the codex? The scene is situated in a gallery with an open view into a large courtyard of a palace. The shoes and costume refer to fashion datable to the first decades of the 16th century.
The style of this illuminator's work with elegantly moving figures refers to the circle of the Master of Antoine Rolin, illuminators active in Hainaut and indebted to Simon Marmion (d. 1489), who had been working in Valenciennes for many years. However, the artist of the present book added warmer pigments to his palette.
The M. de Lalaing who bought the manuscript in 1519 as is scribbled inside the front board, was probably Charles I, seigneur de Lalaing (1466-1525), counselor-chamberlain in the service of Maximilian I, Philip the Handsome and Charles V. Most likely Charles de Lalaing commissioned the illumination as he purchased the book. It was passed on in the family by descent and has never seen the market since the acquisition in 1519.