The British Library houses the surviving manuscripts acquired by King Edward IV that formed the basis for the Royal Library. Part of Edward’s collection includes Jean de Wavrin’s Anciennes et nouvelles chroniques d’Angleterre Volume I.  Wavrin compiled a seven volume chronicle detailing England’s history from its beginnings until 1471 in the last 25 years of his life, the Recueil des croniques et anchiennes istories de la Grant Bretaigne  – Account of the chronicles and old histories of Great Britain. Anciennes et nouvelles chroniques d’Angleterre was commissioned for Edward IV, and was completed after Wavrin’s death. The manuscript was created in Bruges and illuminated by the Master of the London Wavrin. This volume is the third edition which was intended to continue the narrative to Edward IV’s return to the throne in 1471.

This miniature depicts Edward IV receiving the book from Jean Wavrin. However the prologue has an interesting reference.


The prologue reads “Prologue de l’acteur sur la totalle recollation des sept volumes ses anciennes et nouvelles croniques d’angleterre a la totale loenge roy Edouard de… vt [5th] de ce nom“, followed by “Edouard par la grace de dieu Roy de France et d’Angleterre, seigneur d’Irlande. pour ce que au commencement de toutes chosee contendes a bonne fin et long la scentence des philosopher auncient dost….” describing Edward V as the king of France, England and Seigneur of Ireland.

Royal 15 E.IV.(1.), f.14

The British library thinks the reference to Edward V is merely an error, however as Margaret Kekewich points out Edward V is referenced twice in the prologue. And as we can see there is a long gap between “Edouard de” and “5th”.


The British Library dates it after 1471, before 1483. The miniature depicts Edward IV wearing the Order of the Golden Fleece he received in 1468. The figure wearing the Order of the Garter may represent Richard Duke of Gloucester. The manuscript was clearly intended to be presented to Edward IV. The British Library states that the prologue, its illumination and the table of contents were added to the volume after the rest of the manuscript had been completed. In light of the suspicious gap visible in the prologue it may be that the manuscript was not completed until after Edward’s death, and it may just be possible that it was completed in the brief reign of his son Edward V. Its whereabouts between it’s completion and being included in the list of books at Richmond Palace of 1535 are unknown.


Further reading:
Edward IV, William Caxton, and Literary Patronage in Yorkist England, Margaret Kekewich, The Modern Language Review, Vol. 66, p. 481-487
British Library Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts: Royal 15 E IV

9 Responses

  1. manxmaid

    Something seems to have gone wrong with the transcription here – that rubricated bit of prologue reads “Prologue de l’acteur sur la totalle recollation des sept volumes ses anciennes et nouvelles croniques d’angleterre a la totale loenge (praise) du noble roy Edouard de ___ ? de ce nom”
    Something has obviously been erased here in that gap (also interesting that Edward IV depicted wth dark hair here)

    • Olga Hughes

      Ah volumes, that makes more sense, thank you. It is odd that the British Library cites Margaret Kekewich’s article but still doesn’t agree that it was intended to be Edward V rather than it being just an error.
      The faces all look very similar, that’s typical in illumination.

    • LauraS

      When Edward IV’s coffin was opened in the 19th century, his hair was well-preserved and was medium to dark brown in color. Most paintings of him within 100 years of his death also show him with medium to dark hair. The idea of him as blond came many years later.

  2. LauraS

    There has been discussion on the Richard III Society forum in the past that the figure on the left of this painting wearing the Garter is in fact Lord Hastings. The consensus was that the future Richard III is most likely the figure in the brown cloak to the right.

    • Olga Hughes

      I have read that somewhere Laura, but just in passing. Why is it thought that Richard is the other figure?

  3. jasmine

    It would be interesting to know whether the illustrations represent a true likeness of the people depicted or whether they consist of stock figures which the illustrator simply added to the scene. ‘Edward’s’ gown, for example, looks very much like that worn by French kings in similar illustrations. It is hard to believe that an English king, whether or not he claimed to be king of France, would wear a robe with nothing to indicate England on it, especially when receiving a book concerned with the history of England.

    • Olga Hughes

      I think they did Jasmine, also a lot of the artists may not have seen portraits of those they were depicting. If you look at some of the other illustrations, Arthur for example, they all look very similar.
      There is one illumination of Margaret of Anjou that looks similar to Elizabeth Wydeville,as they tended to depict Queens with fair hair, and wearing it loose under their crown. Anne Neville’s Rous Roll image also looks like an illumination of Elizabeth from the Skinners’ Fraternity Book.

      • jasmine

        A nice touch in this illustration of Edward is that he is shown wearing the Order of the Golden Fleece, a Burgundian Order which he was presumably given by his brother-in-law, Charles the Bold. That would seem to be a tribute to the nationality of Jean de Warvin and/or Bruges.

      • Olga Hughes

        I’ve not read it but the wiki article on Wavrin does say there is a heavy bias towards York in the later volumes 🙂

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