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A memoir of the court of Henry VII

A memoir of the court of Henry VII: an edition of BL, MS. Cotton Julius B. XII, fols. 8v-66r, with textual and general introduction

By Emma Cavell

Master’s Thesis: University of Tasmania, 2001

Abstract: The memoir of the court of Henry VII for the years of 1486-90, contained in BL, MS Cotton Julius B. XII, fols. 8v-66r, represents an invaluable source for the study of court and socio-political life during the early years of the reign of Henry VII. Hitherto the only printed version of the memoir was to be found in Thomas Hearne’s edition of Leland’s Collectanea. It has long required a modern editor.

This thesis aims to do two things. In the first place, it has been my intention to complete a scholarly edition of the heraldic memoir, based on a close study of the original document. This section of my thesis also provides a basic apparatus to the text in the form of textual commentary, a glossary of terms and a biographical index of the principal persons mentioned in the text.

Second, my research should provide a scholarly background to the text of the memoir and its authors. There are four chapters to this section of my thesis. The first chapter represents the textual introduction to the manuscript, with critical discussion of the original manuscript, the date of its compilation, the (possible) identity of its authors, and the transmission of the narrative. In my second chapter, I investigate the nature and function of the heralds at the court of Henry VII during the years in which the memoir was created, their Yorkist and Continental models, and the state of their narrative record-keeping skills during the 1480s. It is thereby intended to elucidate the milieu in which the memoir of 1486-90 was created.

The third and fourth chapters of my thesis are intended as an investigation of some of the principal events recounted in the memoir, from the first provincial progress of Henry VII in spring 1486, to the celebration of the great ceremonial occasions of Prince Arthur’s creation, Queen Elizabeth’s coronation and the like, to the loyalist response to the rebellions of 1487 and 1489. I interrogate the memoir and draw upon other contemporary sources to determine the significance of these events and the implications of the heralds’ reports on our understanding of the same.

Click here to read this thesis from the University of Tasmania

Top Image: Detail of Henry VII by unknown artist, from the year 1505



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