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In the British Library is a genelogical chronicle of the English Kings. This “[r]oll chronicle containing the genealogy of the kings of England from the Heptarchy to Edward I as a king (1272-1307), but without portraits of his children, in the form of a diagram of interconnected roundels with portraits of kings in colours and gold, and an accompanying commentary; incipit: ‘Par ceste figure desus lem put savoir’; explicit (with the death of Henry III) ‘en le an de grace m.e. (sc. et) cc. (sic) e fu enterre a Westmouster’. There is a partly obliterated note in red, at the end, which seems to contain excuses by the illuminator, who was pressed for time. The roll is composed of six membranes which depict respectively:
Membrane 1: The Heptarchy and the royal genealogy from Egbert to Æthelred.
Membrane 2: The royal genealogy from Æthelred to Ædred.
Membrane 3: The royal genealogy from Edwin to Edmund II Ironside and his descendants: Edward Ætheling, Edgar, Margaret, Edmund, and Christine.
Membrane 4: The royal genealogy of Cnut, with Edward the Confessor and Harold Godwinson, and the line of the Norman ancestors of William the Conqueror: Rollo, William, and Richard I the Fearless.
Membrane 5: The genealogy from Richard I the Fearless, Duke of Normandy, to Henry II and his descendants.
Membrane 6: The royal genealogy from Henry II to Edward I.
The decoration also includes numerous marginal scenes, isolated human figures, animals and hybrids including men on stilts, shooting at rabbits and slinging at a parrot, a fox with crutch consulting a monkey physician, mice hanging a cat, a hare mounted on a hound hunting a stag.” [1]

BLL Royal14BV_f3_

On the third membrane, a ‘knight v. snail’ battle is shown. The knight defends himself with a round shield in his right hand, his left hand holding a sable. The snail is depicted on green hills; it is very stylised, with a segmented, dextral shell. The animal’s head is humanised, with four tentacles.

BLL Royal14BV_f3_d1BLL Royal14BV_f3_d2

Sarah Biggs, member of the BL staff, has written a blogpost on the theme, which has been received with great interest and was also covered e.g. by the English newspaper ‘The Guardian’. For those who cannot wait to see other examples of BLL manuscripts being posted here, follow the link below. [2]

Notes:
[1] BLL, Royal Ms. 14 B V, 6 mm. http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Royal_MS_14_B_V
[2] Biggs, S.J. (2013): Knight v. snail. Http://bit.ly/1anPrw0.

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