edward iv roll

THE EDWARD IV ROLL 

The “Genealogical chronicle roll of the kings of England to Edward IV,” commonly known as The Edward IV Roll, was commissioned by Edward IV after his accession.  It traces the descent of Edward from the Biblical Adam through the historic kings of England, and also incorporates legendary kings such as Arthur, drawing upon the works of medieval historians such as Geoffrey of Monmouth, Matthew Paris, and others.  

Over thirty feet long and lavishly illustrated, it depicts Adam and Eve, a world map, portraits of past kings, Biblical scenes, and many illuminated initials.

There are multiple extant copies held by libraries around the world, including:  The Free Library of Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania, the Morgan Library, and University College London.

“This magnificent genealogy of the first Yorkist king, Edward IV (1442–1483) was probably created to celebrate his accession to the throne in 1461 after defeating the forces of Henry VI in battle, and is as much a propaganda tool as a commemorative document.”

– Laura Blanchard

 

THE AMERICAN BRANCH & THE EDWARD IV ROLL

The American Branch has played a significant role in the conservation and enhanced accessibility of this important historical artifact.  Through our Conservation Fund and the generous donations of members, we we able to support preservation work on copies of the Edward IV Roll held by The Free Library of Philadelphia and University of Pennsylvania.

Read more below.

More Sources

WHITE ROSE OF YORK

Aside from the Free Library of Philadelphia and Univ. of Penn, here is a selection of other places to learn about and view the Edward IV Roll.

The Morgan Library

Univ. College London

UK A-level Lesson

 

edward iv roll

MS Roll 1066

Penn Libraries 

At the 2009 Annual General Meeting, the Board presented a request for funding of an online edition of the University of Pennsylvania’s recently-acquired Edward IV Roll.  The library planned not only to digitize the Roll in image format, but also to provide a complete transcription of the text, identification of the illustrations, and a searchable index of names.  

 

“Historical artifacts can be scarce; examining them can be difficult; understanding them even harder; but the Society has opened a kingdom for all to explore” – Nancy Shawcross, UPenn Curator of Manuscripts

This ambitious undertaking was supported by a gift of $2500 from the Branch treasury, plus an additional $750 in individual members’ donations.

Work was completed in 2012, and an article about the project appeared in the December 2012 edition of the Ricardian Register.

View the Roll @ Penn

 

The Free Library of Philadelphia

MS Lewis E201

The Free Library’s copy of the Edward IV Roll underwent extensive conservation work prior to its 2001 exhibition in “Leaves of Gold: Treasures of Manuscript Illumination from Philadelphia Collections” at the the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Conservation was supported by a $5,000 gift from the American Branch in 1998 after a group of American Branch members visited and viewed the Roll in 1993.  An article about the visit was published in the Fall 1993 edition of the Ricardian Register, further increasing awareness of the Roll.   

View the Roll @ Free Library

 
THE CONSERVATION PROCESS

by Laura Blanchard

For an object more than 500 years old, the Edward IV Roll was in surprisingly good condition.
Still, age and handling had begun to take its toll.

The portrait of Edward IV at the head of the roll was dirty and worn. Surface dirt had obscured many of the illustrations. There were minor tears to be repaired and wrinkles to be removed.

 

lion shield

More alarmingly, the surface media (pigments, gold leaf, ink) were beginning to detach from the vellum, loosening and flaking off as the manuscript was unrolled and re-rolled. Finally, because it had been rolled tightly for many years, a section of the manuscript with an important gold-leaf over ink drawing had become seriously distorted and needed to be flattened without damaging the artwork.

The Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts designed an ingenious assembly-line process to restore the long and cumbersome roll. 

 

medieval lion

First the entire roll was cleaned of surface dirt. Then, working in sections, the conservators humidified the manuscript using GoreTex fabric to relax the creased and cockled (or wrinkled) areas. The section was placed on a special table that applied suction through the underside of the manuscript. The conservators quickly smoothed the creases through layers of polyester film. The surface media was consolidated using a dilute solution of gelatin in deionized water, delivered in an ultrasonic mist. Each section was dried on the suction table, then flattened between layers of blotting papers under weight. Once finished, the section is virtually wrinkle-free.

Finally, the conservators constructed a new housing of a much larger diameter to minimize the stress on the manuscript when it was rolled and unrolled.

edward iv roll conservation process
Conservators working on a humidified section of the manuscript to remove wrinkles from the vellum.

 

The Conservation Process – Images courtesy of CCAHA

 

Stabilizing the surface media. While this section of the manuscript is spread on the suction table, conservator Paula Zyats applies a solution of gelatinin water in an ultrasonic mist, which humidifies and consolidates the media simultaneously, making it more flexible and improving its adherence to the vellum.
Conservator Paula Zyats applies a solution of gelatinin water in an ultrasonic mist, which humidifies and consolidates the media simultaneously, making it more flexible and improving its adherence to the vellum.

 

 

 

edward iv roll conservation process
Stabilizing the surface media.

 

 

 

edward iv roll conservation process
The Roll on the suction table. The finished section is covered with a protective Mylar sheet.

 

 

 

edward iv roll conservation process
The Roll prior to conservation

 

 

 

edward iv roll conservation process
The Roll after conservation treatment