Medieval manuscripts in Dutch Collections
Medieval manuscripts in Dutch Collections

Genealogy of the Kings of England

Genealogy of the Kings of England and other texts. Anglo-Norman, Middle English and Latin. Parchment roll, 2310x230 mm. England (?), last quarter 13th century and 1430-1440. The Hague, KB : ms. 75 A 2 / 2

One of the few manuscripts originating from England which has found its way to the Netherlands is The Hague, KB : ms. 75 A 2 / 2, a very interesting manuscript content-wise and very pleasing to the eye. The origin cannot be confirmed by a note or colophon, but the manuscript’s contents and languages make an obvious hint at an origin across the Channel.

The manuscript has a rather extraordinary shape: it has the form of a parchment roll. This shape gives ample opportunity to a heptarchy diagram to present itself in all its splendour and colour on the recto of the roll. In the diagram, all the seven kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon Britain are named. Several clerical figures have been drawn below it, who are working up sweat to keep the heptarchy upright, as if it were a wheel of fortune. Beneath the heptarchy diagram there is the genealogy of the Kings of England, written in Anglo-Norman. The text opens with Brutus and ends with Edward I (1274-1309), during whose reign the genealogy can be dated.

On the verso of the roll several other texts have been trusted to the parchment, and one of these, a Latin chronicle of the English Kings, gives another obvious clue to the manuscript’s country of origin. The chronicle opens with William the Conqueror and ends with the coronation of Henry VI in 1431. Three other texts can also be found on the verso, all of which are written in Middle English: an introduction to heraldry, the arms of European Kings and Princes and an unidentified text concerning the moon. These texts have been written more than a century later than the genealogy on the front of the manuscript and can only be deciphered with difficulty, due to much wear and tear. It would, however, take much more than legibility for these texts to step outside the shadow of the heptarchy.

See also

  • A psalter from Royal libraries

    Psalter. Latin, Parchment, 185 ff., 245x177 mm. Northern England, 1190-1200. Leiden, UB : ms. BPL 76 A

  • Flemish surgical instruments

    Small manual for a surgeon, based on the Cyrurgie by Meester Jan Yperman (incomplete). Flemish. Paper, 130x95 mm. Flanders, last quarter of the 15th century. Leiden, UB : ms. BPL 3094

  • The Zwolle bible

    Bible. Latin. Parchment, 6 volumes, c. 530x390 mm. Brethren of the Common Life, Zwolle, 1464-1476. Utrecht, UB : Cat 31 and 15.C.11

  • The Utrecht Psalter

    Psalter. Latin. Parchment, 91 ff., 330x255 mm. Benedictine monastery of St. Peter, Hautvillers near Reims, c. 820-835. Utrecht, UB : Cat. 32 / 1

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