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Roll of arms

Hyghalmen Roll, German, c.1485. An example of a late mediaeval roll of arms. College of Arms, London A roll of arms (or armorial) is a collection of coats of arms, usually consisting of rows of painted pictures of shields, each shield accompanied by the name of the person bearing the arms. A roll may also consist of blazons (verbal descriptions) rather than illustrations.



The heraldist Stephen Friar, writing in 1987,[1] classified rolls as follows:

  • Occasional: relating to a specific event such as an expedition, tournament or a siege.
  • Institutional: associated with foundations, orders of religion or chivalry possibly compiled over many years.
  • Regional: collecting the arms of residents of a region; a practice almost unique to the English county rolls of the 14th century.
  • Illustrative: sometimes used to illustrate narratives or chronicles.
  • General: a combination or variety of collections.
  • Online rolls: In the Internet age, a number of societies maintain rolls of their members.

Mediaeval examples

Dering Roll, c.1270, Dover. Lists knights of Kent & Essex. British Library. Provenance: Sir Edward Dering (1598 1644), Lt. of Dover Castle Heralds' Roll, c.1280. College of Arms, MS B.29

  • Glover's Roll, c. 1240 1245 as dated by Sir Harris Nicolas,[2] 55 coats. British Museum Add MS 29796. Made by Robert Glover(d.1588), Somerset Herald, in 1586 from a now lost roll of arms of the reign of King Henry III (1216 1272). The arms are not drawn but only blazoned. Planch states it to be the earliest source of heraldic information and was the first to name it after Glover.[3]
  • The Dering Roll,[4] late 13th.c., the earliest surviving English original roll of arms. 324 coats, painted. Parchment, 8" wide by 8ft 8" long. British Library. Provenance: Sir Richard Dering (1598 1644).
  • The Bigot Roll, 1254, French. 300 coats. Biblioth que Nationale, Paris, fonds fran ais no 18648 fo 32 39.
  • Walford's Roll, c.1275, 185 coats with blazons. British Museum MS Harl 6589,f.12,12b.
  • The Chifflet-Prinet Roll, c. 1285 1298, 147 coats with blasons. Biblioth que Municipale, Besan on, Collection Chifflet, MS 186, pp. 145 154.
  • The Camden Roll, c.1280, 270 coats painted, 185 with blazons. British Museum, Cotton Roll, 8.
  • St George's Roll, c.1285, 677 coats, painted. College of Arms, London, MS Vincent 164 ff.1 21b.
  • Charles' Roll, c.1285, 486 coats, painted. Society of Antiquaries, London, MS517 (Copy, c.15th.c.). Planch however names as "Charles's Roll" a copy of a mid-13th.c. roll containing nearly 700 coats drawn in pen & ink (i.e. "tricked") by Nicholas Charles(d.1613), Lancaster Herald, in 1607 (British Museum, Harley MS 6589). Charles stated that the original had been lent to him by the Norroy King of Arms.[5]
  • The Galloway Roll, 1300, 259 coats with blazons. College of Arms, London, MS M.14, ff.168 75 (copy by Sir Thomas Wriothesley, Garter King of Arms, d1534).
  • The Falkirk Roll, c.1298, 115 coats with blazons. Lists the knights with King Edward I at Battle of Falkirk(1298). Various copies exist. The British Museum copy (MS Harl 6589, f.9 9b) was formerly in the Treasury Chamber in Paris in 1576.[6]
  • The Heralds' Roll, c.1280, 697 coats, painted. FitzWilliam Museum, Cambridge MS297 (Copy, 15th.c.)
  • Roll of Caerlaverock or Poem of Caerlaverock, 1300, 110 poetry blazons, no images. Near contemporary copy, vellum: British Museum, Cotton Caligula A XVIII, ff.23b 30b. Two other copies exist, made by Glover from a now lost different original source, one at College of Arms, London, the other at the Office of the Ulster King of Arms, Dublin. Made in 1300 by English heralds during Edward I's siege of Caerlaverock Castle, Scotland. Text: see s:The Roll of Caerlaverock/The Roll
  • The Lord Marshal's Roll, 1295, 565 coats, painted. Society of Antiquaries, London, MS 664, vol.1, ff.19 25. Collin's Roll (Q)
  • Collins' Roll, 1296, 598 coats, painted. Queen's College, Oxford, MS 158, pp. 366 402 (Copy c1640). College of Arms, London
  • Stirling Roll, 1304, 102 coats. College of Arms, London MS M.14, ff.269 272 (Copy by Sir Thomas Wriothesley, Garter King of Arms, d1534).
  • Armorial du H rault Vermandois, c. 1285 1300. 1,076 blasons. Biblioth que Nationale de France, MS.fran ais 2249 (Copy, 15th.c.)
  • Armorial Wijnbergen, French. Part 1, c.1265 1270; Part 2, c.1270 1285. 1,312 coats, painted. Royal Dutch Association of Genealogy & Heraldry, The Hague.
  • Stepney Roll, 1308. Lists knights present at Stepney Tournament, 1308. Published in Collectanea Topographica et Genealogica, vol. 4, p. 63.
  • Dunstable Roll, 1334. Lists knights present at Dunstable Tournament, 1334. Published in Collectanea Topographica et Genealogica, vol. 4, p. 389.
  • Calais Roll, 1346/7. 116 shields in brown ink, shaded & lettered to denote tinctures. Made probably in late 16th.c. from transcripts of accounts kept by Walter Wetewang, treasurer of the household 1346 7 showing wages paid to participants at the Siege of Calais. Extant only in form of about 20 16th. c. manuscripts. Classed as spurious by Wagner (1950), but as one of the documentary pillars of fourteenth-century military studies, by Ayton (1994).
  • Gelre Armorial, Dutch, c.1370 1414, 1,700 coats. Royal Library, Belgium.

Renaissance examples

  • Stemmario Trivulziano, Italian, c.1470 1480, 2,000 coats.[7] Biblioteca Trivulziana, Milan, Italy. Possibly the most renowned of the Italian Renaissance armorials, probably a work by Gian Antonio da Tradate, formerly the property of the Princes Trivulzio. This codex dates back to the early years of the condottiere Francesco I Sforza as Duke of Milan (1450 66). It blazons the ducal arms and those of linked families such as Brandolini, Savelli, Colonna, Orsini, Scaligeri, Este and Gonzaga. Also the arms of the German merchant-bankers Fugger.

Modern examples

  • Burke's General Armory: "The General Armory of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales; Comprising a Registry of Armorial Bearings from the Earliest to the Present Time". By Sir Bernard Burke, C.B., LL.D., Ulster King of Arms. London 1884. May be considered a Roll of Arms in the widest sense of the term. A listing of every known armorial ever used in the British Isles, still not superseded in usefulness. Not always reliable.

See also

External links


  • Wagner, Anthony Richard. A Catalogue of English Medieval Rolls of Arms. Aspilogia, 1, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1950.
  • Ayton, Andrew. The English Army and the Normandy Campaign of 1346, England and Normandy in the Middle Ages, eds. David Bates and Anne Curry, London, Hambledon Press, 1994, pp. 253 268.


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