Queens’ MS 35
England, ?London, c. 1471–2; fifteenth century continuations,
temp. Richard III, Henry VII
This image: section of roll including William the Conqueror.
This roll of history incorporates Old Testament genealogy, Egyptian and other ancient royal lines, Popes, French kings, British and English royal houses. The text itself belongs to a group of genealogical chronicles designed to underline the legitimacy of Edward IV’s Yorkist claim to the English throne. It was therefore a particularly fitting addition to the Library of Queens’ whose second benefactress, Elizabeth Woodville, was Edward IV’s Queen.
Beginning with Adam and Eve, lineages and accompanying text (based on the Compendium historiae by Peter of Poitiers (1130–1205)) eventually combine with the history of British kings drawn largely from Geoffrey of Monmouth (c. 1100–55). The chronicle is supported by an elaborate deployment of symbols and colours to signify the status and relationships of the figures listed. The opening on display shows the lineage of English kings (left of centre) at the time of William the Conqueror (see the largest roundel). On the extreme left are popes (with dates), then Holy Roman emperors, then monarchs of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. On the right are Welsh kings.
Although probably not deliberately commissioned by Edward IV, this and the many similar extant manuscript chronologies from this time would appear to result from a discrete propaganda campaign vigorously pursued after Edward’s coronation in 1461. Like many other similar surviving manuscripts of this text, Queens’ MS 35 was copied in roll-format (i.e. one continuous sheet of vellum pieces stuck together), with the apparent intention that it should be folded as a book.
An annotation on the chronicle indicates that Queens’ MS 35 came to Queens’ in August 1631 as the gift of John Rogers, a Fellow of St John's College (fl. 1624–34). However, a Queens’ Library inventory entry (MS 75) stating ‘Of Mr Rogers for his money The pedegree of the Brittishe Kinges manuscript … £4’, suggests that the volume was given in lieu of money owed to the college.