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«Introduction and edition by Steen Clemmensen from College of Arms, ms. Vincent 170 ff.154v-183r a.o.mss. This paper is a preliminary version ...»

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The “Rouen “ roll of arms

An armorial mistakenly attributed to the siege of Rouen 1418

Introduction and edition by

Steen Clemmensen


College of Arms, ms. Vincent 170 ff.154v-183r


This paper is a preliminary version published on the internet

pending further research.

Comments and suggestions are invited.

Please write to




Introduction 3 Manuscripts 4 Evaluation of entries 5 Analysis of contents 6 Date of collation 7 Summary 8 the Rouen and Gentry armorials 9 App. A: Concordance of manuscripts 31 App. B: Table of events in England and France 32 References 33 Index of names 38 Ordinary of arms 40 Introduction In his note on the Rouen armorial the late Sir Anthony Wagner ‘Garter’ dismissed the attribution of it to the siege of Rouen in 1418, and suggested that this might be a 16th century invention (CEMRA 78). Instead, he proposed a date of collation of c.1410 based on the death in 1415 of John Oldcastle lord Cobham [17], in 1400 of Thomas Spencer lord Despencer [11], and of the Hastings earls of Pembroke [9], extinct by 1389.

Though a difference in dating between 1418 and e.g. 1389 might appear insignificant, and a span of 30 years is not unusual for dating an armorial, even a minor difference is crucial if the armorial is proposed to be related to a certain occasion. The span noted covers 3 reigns, during which major events took place in England and France (App.B). Richard II (r.1377-1399) was deposed, Henry IV (r.1399-1413) assumed the crown fighting several insurrections, and his son, Henry V (r.1413renewed the simmering war with France. And not least, from an armorist’s point of view, the composition of the higher nobility changed, e.g. the earldoms of Northumberland, Gloucester, Westmoreland, Salisbury, Oxford and Suffolk were either created, confiscated, recreated or went to a different branch, establishing significant indicators at the beginning of any armorial.

During the reign of Richard II the ‘french war’ had not been going well, but the english claim on France precluded any lasting peace, and by 1396 both parties were content to conclude a 30-year truce sealed by the marriage of Richard II and a 7 year old french princess and not least a substantial dowry of 800,000 francs (approx. 132,000 £st) and an unspoken french promise of support in case of rebellion. In fact the french support did not materialize when Richard II was deposed and the truce lasted for all of the reign of Henry IV.

One major infringement of the truce was the expedition to France of August 1412 commanded by Thomas D.Clarence, Edward D.York and 4 earls: Thomas Beaufort E.Dorset, James Butler E.Ormond, Richard de Vere E.Oxford and Thomas Montagu E.Salisbury, with 8 barons and a further 28 knights (Tuck CN 240). The english forces landed at Saint-Vaast-la. Hogue (dep Manche) on the Cotentin peninsula in Normandy on August 10th with the intention of joining the Armagnac Party in the internal struggle between the Armagnacs and Burgundians. However, the french temporarily patched up their differences and agreed to pay 150,000 écus d’or (approx.

94,000 £st) buying off the english. Accepting the first installments and hostages for the rest, the english army withdrew to Bordeaux and returned home in April 1413. The profit from this expediton was crucial in persuading the Commons to support and finance the invasion of France in

1415. From the victory of Agincourt on Henry V had few problems in securing support for his expansionist policies in France.

On the home front, Henry IV faced several insurrections and a short war with Scotland, the more serious threat to his crown being the Percy rebellions led by Henry Percy E.Northumberland, but crushed at the battles outside Shrewsbury in 1403 and on Bramham Moor in 1408. The second serious rebellion was the welsh uprising of 1401 led by Owen Glendower, which lasted until 1409 and required several large campaigns to suppress.

In order to explore possible occations where the people mentioned in the armorial might have come together, one must also consider the 9 parliaments held under Henry IV (Wylie HB 4:308) and the three Great Councils (POPC).

Manuscripts According to Wagner (CEMRA 78, Wagner RAH 270), by 1967 there were 6 concordant manuscripts with from 49 to 177 shields, one modern transcription (by Oswald Barron, deposited at the Society of Antiquaries) and and one printed edition, with no later work encountered. The printed edition from 1880 (Greenstreet T) is based on versions D and E from the British Library, while the present work is primarily based on version B from the College of Arms and conferred with Greenstreet T and version C. Versions A and F have not been examined, and neither has the transcription by Barron. All of the manuscripts are paper copybooks containing several armorials and various other materials.

The 6 manuscript versions are:

A: Oxford, Bodley, Ashmole ms.1120, ff.175r-176r;

96 items in trick by Ralph Brooke ‘Yorke herald’, made c.1563, and used for Papworth, but discarded by Greenstreet and not reported.

B: London, College of Arms, ms.Vincent 170, ff.154v-156r (no.100-177) + 181r-183r (no.1-99);

176 items in trick (16th C) on a 5x5 grid, the largest collection and used as the base for numeration and analysis for this edition, though the no.134 is not used in the manuscript. The table of shields is preceeded by the latin text: "Nomina et insignia eorum qui comitabantur Henricum regem Angliae eius nominis Quintum apud obsidionem Roan infra regum Franciae. The names \and arms\ of thos that were wythe Kynge Henry the fyvthe at the seage of Roane, videlicet".

The manuscript is bound with Vincent 167 (Campbell MCA 402-405), and the volume also contains the arms of 77 men knighted temp. Henry VI (ff.156v-158r), the Caerlaverock poem (K, ff.161vv), the Portington Roll (PT, ff.1r-31v and 164r-181r, temp. Henry VI) and George Calveley’s Book (CVC, ff.183r-185v) a.o. armorials.

C: London, College of Arms, ms. Vincent 50, ff.91r-91v;

49 items, probably a transcript of a contemporary blazon, 16th C. Includes a reference to the siege of Rouen 1418. Discarded by Greenstreet.

D: London, British Library, ms. Harl.1386, ff.84r-86r;

107 items in trick with latin text and old and newer foliation, owned by John Guillem ‘Portsmouth pursuivant’ (1692), used by Greestreet as primary source and also used by Barron and by Papworth, examined for this edition. This manuscript also includes the Gentry armorial GY = 86r-87r, 36 items.

E: London, British Library, ms. Harl.6137, ff.41v-44r;

107 items in trick by Richard Kimbey, owned by William Segar ‘Garter’ (1605, 1641), used by Greenstreet. This manuscript also includes armorial GY = 44r-45r, 36 items, headed ‘tempore Edwardii Quarti’.

F: privately owned, former ms. Phillipps 8195, not examined by Wagner and not reported.

Wagner (CEMRA 111) assessed the two copies of the Gentry Roll (GY = GTY) in Harl.1386:86rr (vs.A) and Harl.6137:44r-45r (vs.B) as separate armorials temp. Edward IV, c.1480, from the heading in GY/b without recognizing their presence as T:110-147 in Vincent 170. The Gentry Roll was published by James Greenstreet in Walford’s Antiquarian Magazine and Bibliographer, 1882, 2:169-172.

The problem of evaluating the up to 176 items or entries in the ‘Rouen’ armorial is compounded in that the manuscrits are all late copies of different lengths, the largest broken up in transposed fragments with parts of other armorials inserted, and possibly containing at least one armorial of different date, see the concordance (app.A). Possible breaking points might come after items 49, 96, 109 and 147, provisionally partitioning the items into three groups: 1-109 (c.1418, Rouen), 110-147 (c.1480, Gentry) and 148-177 (uncertain date), which requires consideration of alternative assignments for half the items.

Evaluation of entries

Even with personal names and dated seals available there will always be a certain amount of assumption in assigning an entry to a specific person. Certain personal names tend to be hereditary to the eldest or second sons of a family either in each or alternating generations. A few years difference in the dating of an armorial might suggest different persons. The modern editor must also sift carefully through the sources looking for scribal or painter’s errors and omissions and supporting evidence. There is always the risk of overinterpretating, especially when little information is availabe on a certain coat of arms, but from knowledge of estates or affinity one might guesstimate the relation between the arms and a family or person known from non-armorial documentary sources.

The guesstimating approach has been used extensively by Brault on the contents of armorials temp.

Edward I and is also used for this paper. Apart from searching for evidence on the starting and finishing dates of collating material and minimizing contradictions by eliminating later additions and possible updating of entries, both editor and reader must critically assess the evidence put forward as well as consider unusual uses or attributions of arms.

The reference to similar arms in other armorial manuscripts noted here is selective, but more references on most items are available in Clemmensen OM. The selection here emphasizes either the linage, measured as presence in armorials of c.1300, e.g. Parliamentary Roll (N), and nearly contemporary, e.g. Willement (S = WIL, c.1385), or the knowledge of them among the french, e.g.

in the armorials Urfé (URF, c.1380), Berry (BER, c.1455), and Toison d’or (ETO, 1397, revised until 1435).

The french manuscript, BnF ms.fr.5256:83v-93v (ARS), containing one or more fragments of english armorials, might with caution be used to assign names to items with surname of title only, as the first five items are: Edward the Confessor (arms quartered by Richard II), ‘le roy d'engleterre’ (Henry IV, d.1413), Prince of Wales (Henry V), John (D.Bedford), Humphrey (D.Gloucester), Edward (D.York 1402, d.1415) and Richard (E.Cambridge, d.1415). Its composition appears to be 1-9 royal family; 10-137 most of ETO-en; 138-190 ETO-en with inserts; 191-299 fragment of an ordinary; 300-447 fragment of an unidentified general roll. The two latter segments might contain material from around 1330, e.g. similar to the Powell (PO = POW) and Carlisle (CA = CRL) armorials.

Compiling detailed information on medieval persons and families is a cumbersome affair. But substantial information is readily available on members of the peerage (GEC, Burke PB), persons summoned in person to Parliament, here designated barons, but usualy titled lords or simply as knights in contemporary documents. For this period there is also available biographies of members of the Commons, the knights of the shire, here as MP’s (Roskell C), and lastly, a list of knights retained by the king (Given-Wilson RH). For the rest sporadic checking of contempory documents and modern works must suffice.

If possible, seals and arms in other armorials are used as heraldic evidence (e.g. from DBA and Clemmensen OM), but in many cases notes culled from Burke’s General Armory and its derivative Papworth is the only information available, and is used if it contained supplementary details, e.g.

crests or manors owned. The cardex part of the DBA on deposit at the Society of Antiquaries has not been available for consulting, so the DBA refers on to arms up to chevrons.

Analysis of content

The sequence of Rouen begins conventionally with one royal duke, York [1], 9 earls and two dozen barons, and includes two very unusual items, the arms of the Staple of Calais [41] followed by the Cinque Ports [42]. The last two suggest that the armorial might relate to the French Wars rather than the internal rebellions, if the armorial might be of the occasional type. The arms of the earls of Westmoreland [2] and of Salisbury [8] places the date later than their creation in 1397, and outside 1400-1409, when Salisbury was forfeited. But the presence of Pembroke [9], extinct by 1389, and Basset of Drayton, extinct by 1389, contradict such a date.

Provisionaly assuming that the armorial belong to the reign of Henry IV, are there any earls missing? The earldoms of Arundel, Huntingdon and Norfolk were forfeited between 1400 and c.1415 (Powicke BC) and Henry Percy E.Northumberland forfeited in 1403, which leaves three missing. John Beaufort E.Somerset (d.1410), half-brother of Henry IV is an intriguing omission as is Edmund Holand E.Kent (o.s.p.1408). The absence of Edmund Mortimer E.March (1391-1425, o.s.p.) is easy to understand as he spent most of his life imprisoned as a potential pretender to the crown. But apart from these, all the rest is here, including the minors, Edmund E.Stafford [6] and James Butler E.Ormond [10]. The latter is known to have held active command in Wales by 1405 and was later an important captain in France, and the inclusion of an irish peer or landholder is rather unusual in an armorial of english nobles and gentry.

Several other peerages were similarly held by minors for most of the reign, e.g. Spencer, Scales and FitzWalter [11, 19, 23], so the collator might have been more focused on the lordships than the actual holders and their activities.

Staying with the peers, John Oldcastle is key evidence as he only was summoned as B.Cobham from 1408 to c.1415, being accused of lollardy [17]. Item [13] might be Bartholomew Bourchier (o.s.p.m.1409) or his son-in-law, Hugh Stafford, who quartered Stafford and Bourchier in ETO:805.

A few knights are found among the barons, e.g. Felton [39] and William Bardolf [40], possibly confused with his relative, Thomas (d.1408), the baron attainted in 1406. The arms of St.Amand [100], where the barony went into abeyance in 1402, might have been claimed by the son-in-law, Gerald Braybrooke, in pretence.

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