About the Roll & Its Historical Contexts

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About Ms. Roll 1066

Likely produced in London in the third quarter of the fifteenth century, the Genealogical Chronicle of the Kings of England, to Edward IV, known as UPenn Ms. Roll 1066, is a compilational tour de force of the greatest hits of medieval historians, assimilating the work of Geoffrey of Monmouth, William of Malmesbury, and Ranulf Higden, among others. The roll is an imposing physical presence: a staggering thirty-seven feet and thirteen membranes long, it chronicles the lineage of Yorkist king Edward IV beginning with Adam and Eve and ending with Edward IV (1461). This Chronicle also has a complex illustrative schema containing 174 bust-length portraits in color, five mandorlas with tinted full-length portraits, and eighty roundels containing crowns as well as several classic chronicle type-scenes including the Temptation of Adam, Noah after the Flood, and the city of Jerusalem. The Latin text is written in a standard late-medieval anglicana hand.

The date of the roll's production may be ascertained with some certainty. Although the latest events in the text chronicle the marriage of Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou in 1445 and the appointment of Edward's father, Richard, duke of York, as regent in France, an illustration of a young crowned Edward IV suggests that the roll was produced no earlier than 1461. Furthermore, while many similar rolls from the early years of Edward's reign depict his wife, Elizabeth Woodville, by his side, Penn's does not, allowing us to further pinpoint the date of production to the years between 1461 and Edward's marriage in 1464. In terms of provenance, little is known about the roll's life before it came to the University of Pennsylvania Rare Book & Manuscript Library in 2007. The manuscript was previously sold by Philip Duchnes in New York and came into the hands of collector Cornelius J. Hauck. Hauck gave his collection to the Cincinnati Historical Society in 1966, and the roll was subsequently sold at auction at Christie's, New York, as part of the Hauck Collection in 2006. One year later, the University of Pennsylvania Rare Book & Manuscript Library purchased the roll from Sam Fogg.

Penn's Chronicle can be added to the so-called Temporum group of fifteenth-century genealogical chronicles, named for their distinctive opening phrase, "Temporum summam lineamque descendentem" (taken from Roger of Wendover's Flores Historiarum, another frequent source). The previously identified members of the group are held by the Huntington Library (HM 264), Harvard University (bMS Typ 40), and Trinity College, Cambridge (MS R.4.52) respectively. Of these four, only the Penn and Harvard rolls share something approaching an identical text. The Huntington roll covers the same historical material but is either missing text in the middle or has severely compressed the history recorded in Ms. Roll 1066, and the Trinity version is greatly foreshortened, ending in the middle of British history.

Penn's roll is special in that it is really two genealogies in one: on the verso (back) of the manuscript, and ending on membrane 5 is a copy of the Compendium Historiae in Genealogia Christi attributed to Peter of Poitiers—a twelfth-century universal history told through the life of Christ. It is illustrated with several drawings and followed by a diagram of Roman emperors, popes, and several genealogies of Frankish kings. There is some evidence that the two texts were intended to be read together; the scribe (likely the same for both the recto and verso texts) deliberately matched up the Adam and Eve images on both sides of the roll, and the Chronicle's Christ medallion lines up perfectly with the Nativity image on the verso.

Historical Contexts

Late fifteenth-century English politics was marked by the so-called Wars of the Roses (c. 1455-1485), a series of dynastic battles fought for control of the throne between the two rival houses of Lancaster and York. UPenn Ms. Roll 1066 is a cultural artifact of this struggle: the fifteenth century sees a revival of genealogical literature (once popular in the twelfth and early thirteenth centuries) as pedigree and lineage were increasingly relied upon by the royal houses to stake their claims to the crown. When the house of Lancaster was replaced by that of York in 1461, the production of genealogical chronicles kicked into overdrive, the Yorkists churning out documents that present Edward IV as the rightful king, despite contemporaneous Lancastrian histories positioning him as usurper. Such propaganda was crucial at a time of such political uncertainty: Henry VI, Edward IV, and their heirs would play a game of musical thrones for more than a decade before a relative unknown named Henry Tudor arrived on the scene to claim the crown from Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field (22 August 1485), effectively ending the Wars of the Roses and the Plantagenet Dynasty.

In contrast to twelfth-century Latin chronicles, thirteenth-century encyclopedias, and fourteenth-century universal histories, fifteenth-century genealogical chronicles are often seen as derivative, crude, and aesthetically impoverished. The factionalism of late fifteenth-century Britain leads scholars to be interested in these kinds of chronicles mainly for their perceived propagandistic value, the ways in which they bolster claims to the throne or to ancient lineage. During the War of the Roses—which was as much a propaganda war between the Yorkist and Lancastrian factions as it was a series of bloody battles—it was nearly impossible for a historian to maintain the fiction of neutrality. Penn's roll presents a challenge to some of these modern scholarly assumptions.

While certainly pro-Edward IV, Ms. Roll 1066 often fails to draw the rigid claims to power we expect from the Yorkist propaganda machine. For example, though the scribe and artist clearly outline Edward IV's claim to the throne—it shows, parallel to the central line of royal descent, a Yorkist genealogy descending from Lionel of Antwerp, 3rd son of Edward III—it also lays out the competing claim of the Lancastrian line, descending from Edward III's 4th son, John of Gaunt. In other words, we see how a single document may argue for right rule at the same time that it accommodates different versions of history.

- Dr Marie Turner, PhD, University of Pennsylvania

 

Further Reading

Manuscripts

MS Roll 1066 is one of a cluster of four genealogical chronicle rolls known as the Temporum group, after their distinctive opening phrase, Temporum summam lineamque descendentem. The other members of the group are:

Cambridge, US, Houghton Library, MS Typ 40

San Marino, US, Huntington Library, MS 264

Cambridge, GB, Trinity College, R 4.52

 

Other 15th-century genealogical chronicle rolls to Edward IV or Henry VI include:

Cambridge, GB, Emmanuel College, MS 231

Cambridge, GB, Parker Library, Corpus Christi College, MS 116

Cambridge, GB, Parker Library, Corpus Christi College, MS 98

Cambridge, GB, Parker Library, Corpus Christi College, MS 98A

Cambridge, GB, Trinity College, R 4.3

 

Chicago, US, Newberry Library, Case MS 166

 

Christchurch, NZ, Macmillan Brown Library, University of Canterbury, MS 1

 

København, DK, Kongelige Bibliotek, Ny. Kgl. 1858 fol

 

London, GB, British Library, Add. MS 18268 A

London, GB, British Library, Add. MS 21058

London, GB, British Library, Add. MS 24026

London, GB, British Library, Add. MS 24342

London, GB, British Library, add MS 31950

London, GB, British Library, MS Harley 7353

London, GB, British Library, Harley Roll C.9

London, GB, British Library, Harley Roll T.12

London, GB, British Library, MS Landsdowne 456

London, GB, British Library, Lansdowne Charter 2

London, GB, British Library, MS Royal 14 B VIII

London, GB, British Library, Stowe MS 72

London, GB, British Library, Stowe MS 73

London, GB, College of Arms, MS 20/06

London, GB, College of Arms, MS 20/20

London, GB, College of Arms, MS Arundel 23

London, GB, Lambeth Palace, MS 1170

London, GB, Society of Antiquaries of London, MS 501

London, GB, University College, MS Angl. 3

 

Manchester, GB, John Rylands University Library, Latin MS 113

Manchester, GB, John Rylands University Library, MS 146

 

New Haven, US, Beinecke Library, Yale University, Marston MS 242

 

New York, US, Pierpont Morgan Library, MS B.30

 

Oxford, GB, All Souls College Library, MS 40

Oxford, GB, Bodleian Library, MS e Mus 42

Oxford, GB, Bodleian Library, Lyell 33

Oxford, GB, Bodleian Library, MS Ash. Rolls 21

Oxford, GB, Bodleian Library, MS Ash. Rolls 26

Oxford, GB, Bodleian Library, MS Bodl. Rolls 5

Oxford, GB, Bodleian Library, MS Bodl. Rolls 7

Oxford, GB, Brasenose College, MS 17

Oxford, GB, Corpus Christi College, MS 207

Oxford, GB, Magdalen College Library, Lat 248

Oxford, GB, Magdalen College Library, Peyps 244

 

Paris, FR, Bibliothèque nationale de France, lat. 6055

 

Philadelphia, US, Free Library of Philadelphia, MS Lewis E201

 

Secondary Sources

On Yorkist and Lancastrian Rolls as Propaganda

Allan, Alison. “Royal Propaganda and the Proclamations of Edward IV.” Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, vol. 59, no. 140, 1 Nov. 1986, pp. 146–154.

---, “Yorkist Propaganda: Pedigree, Prophecy and the ‘British History” in the Reign of Edward IV.” Patronage, Pedigree and Power in Later Medieval England, edited by C. Ross, Gloucester, A. Sutton, 1979, pp. 171-192.

Anglo, Sydney. "The British History in Early Tudor Propaganda." Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, 44, 1961, pp. 17–48.

Griffiths, Ralph A. "The Sense of Dynasty in the Reign of Henry VI." Patronage, Pedigree and Power in Later Medieval England, edited by Charles D. Ross, Gloucester, A. Sutton, 1979, pp. 13–36.

Radulescu, Raluca. “Yorkist Propaganda and the Chronicle from Rollo to Edward IV.” Studies in Philology, vol. 100, no. 4, 2003, pp. 401–424.

On Chronicles and Rolls in General

Coote, Lesley. "Prophecy, Genealogy, and History in Medieval English Political Discourse." Broken Lines: Genealogical Literature in Late-Medieval Britain and France, edited by Raluca Radulescu and Edward D. Kennedy, Turnhout, Brepols, 2008, pp. 27–44.

Fisher, Matthew. "Genealogy Rewritten: Inheriting the Legendary in Insular Historiography." Broken Lines, Genealogical Literature in Medieval England and France, edited by Raluca L. Radulescu and Edward Donald Kennedy, Turnhout, Brepols, 2008, pp. 123–141.

Genet, Jean-Phillipe, “Catulaires, registres et histoire: l’exemple anglais.” Le Métier d’Historien au Moyen Âge: études sur l’historiograhie médiévale, edited by B. Guenée, Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, série “Études” 13, 1977, pp. 95-138.

Given-Wilson, Chris, Chronicles: The Writing of History in Medieval England. London, Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.

Holford, M.J., “Family, Lineage and Society: Medieval Pedigrees of the Percy Family,” Nottingham Medieval Studies, 52, 2008, pp. 165-90.

Holz, Stefan G, et al. The Roll in England and France in the Late Middle Ages : Form and Content. Berlin, De Gruyter, 2019.

Kennedy, E.D., A Manual of the Writings in Middle English, vol. 8: Chronicles and Other Historical Writing. New Haven, Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1989.

Laborderie, Olivier de. "A New Pattern for English History: The First Genealogical Rolls of the Kings of England." Broken Lines, Genealogical Literature in Medieval Britain and France, edited by Raluca L. Radulescu and Edward Donald Kennedy, Turnhout, Brepols, 2008, pp. 45–61.

---. Histoire, memoire et pouvoir. Les genealogies en rouleau des rois d'Angleterre (1250–1422). Paris, Classiques Garnier, 2013.

Lamont, Meg, “‘Genealogical’ History and the English Roll.” Medieval Manuscripts, Their Makers and Users: A Special Issue of Viator in Honor of Richard and Mary Rouse, Turnhout, 2001, pp. 245-261.

Spence, John. "Genealogies of Noble Families in Anglo Norman." Broken Lines: Genealogical Literature in Medieval Britain and France, edited by Raluca L. Radulescu and Edward Donald Kennedy, Turnhout, Brepols, 2008, pp. 63–77.

On Genealogy and Nobility in a Medieval Context

Crouch, David, The Birth of Nobility: Constructing Aristocracy in England and France, 900-1300, New York, Routledge, 2005.

---, “The Historian, Lineage, and Heraldry 1050-1250.” Heraldry, Pageantry and Social Display in Medieval England, edited by Peter Coss and Maurice Keen, Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2002, pp. 17-38.

Duby, Georges, “The structure of kinship and nobility.” The Chivalrous Society, translated by Cynthia Postan, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1977, pp. 134-48.

Génicot, Léopold, Les genealogies, Typologie des sources du Moyen Âge occidental, 15. Turnhout, Brepols, 1975.

Tscherpel, Gudrun, “The Political Function of History: The Past and Future of Noble Families.” Family and Dynasty in Late Medieval England, edited by Richard Eales and Shaun Tyas, Donington, Shaun Tyas, 2003, pp. 87-104.