History, Nottingham Trent University
The historical literature produced during Henry VI’s reign offers an interesting insight into contemporary understanding and expectations of kingship. The focus of this study would be on a particular sub-genre of historical literature: the genealogical chronicle. While not a fifteenth-century innovation, this century saw the development of the genre towards a wider consumer audience evident in the survival of clear groups of near-identical manuscripts. The survival of over 100 fifteenth-century royal genealogies with Biblical origins suggest the original popularity of the genre, with about 40 surviving manuscripts produced under Henry VI. Their format – a complex diagram illustrating successions surrounded by a commentary, usually favouring roll form over codex – meant a different process of production was required in comparison to standard texts, thus they provide exciting opportunities to study the varied nature of late medieval manuscript production. The narrative used in these chronicles was generally copied piecemeal from standard historical texts, like the Polichronicon and the Prose Brut tradition. This project therefore will provide a fascinating case study into popular culture, historiography, and manuscript ownership and use under Henry VI, identifying changes in popular interpretations of national history.