Treatises on English Parliament, peerage and diplomacy

Scope and Content

Manuscript volume, c1527, containing translations into English of a collection of treatises and diplomatic documents, mostly of the fourteenth century, comprising a list of coronation claims of Richard II, [1377]; a treatise on the form and manner of holding the English Parliament; a treatise on the office of Earl Marshal, described in the table of contents as 'The Erle Marshal's Boke', with details of Henry VIII's reform of the office and its duties in time of war; a collection of documents relating to ordinances for war, [1350-1514], notably the Scottish campaigns of 1350 and 1385, the statutes of the Order of the Garter as renewed by Henry VIII in 1522, and the creation of dukes and earls, including the creation of Charles Brandon, Viscount Lisle, as Duke of Suffolk (1514); an incomplete history of the kings of England, ending with the coronation of Richard II in 1378; a collection of treaties concerning diplomatic events during the reign of Edward III, notably documents relating to the Treaty of Brétigny (October 1360), documents relating to treatises between Edward and John II, King of France (1360-1366), letters of Alfonso X, King of Castile (1254), letters of Edward concerning a treaty with Peter the Cruel, King of Castile (1369), and an indenture recording the terms of the treaty of Berwick between Edward and David II, King of Scotland (1357). A table of contents shows that the manuscript is unfinished, and that it lacks several folios.

Administrative / Biographical History

The English Parliament is the main legislative body of the country. The Earl Marshal, originally in charge of the Court of Chivalry which was concerned with military matters such as ransom, booty and soldiers pay, as well as the misuse of armorial bearings. The role was later refined and the Marshal came to be responsible solely for armorial cases: he is the head of the College of Arms. The post has been hereditary since 1672, remaining with the Howard family, Dukes of Norfolk.The reign of King Edward III saw the height of the Hundred Years War against France, in which the Scots sided with the French. Henry Algernon Percy, 5th Earl of Northumberland, (known as 'The Magnificent', due to the splendour of his establishment), succeeded to the earldom at the age of 11. He was prominent at court in the early years of Henry VIII's reign, and took part in Henry's expedition to France in 1513, being present at the siege of Therouenne and the Battle of the Spurs. He was also one of the 10 earls appointed to wait on King Francis I at the Field of the Cloth of Gold, 1520. He declined the office of warden of the Marches, and died in bed in 1527.


Single item.

Access Information

Access to this collection is unrestricted for the purpose of private study and personal research within the supervised environment and restrictions of the Library's Palaeography Room. Uncatalogued material may not be seen. Please contact the University Archivist for details.

Other Finding Aids

For a fuller account of the contents, see the catalogue of manuscripts formerly belonging to the Institute of Historical Research, of which this is no. 470.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Manuscript folio, on vellum. The manuscript is written in lettre batarde, and contains illuminated initials and some marginal illustration. An illuminated initial has been cut out of fol.11. The original sixteenth century foliation, beginning on fol. 17, shows that the following folios of that sequence are lacking: ff 1,6,18-21, 50, 60-64, 119-124, 142 and 149. The original roman numerals have been rewritten in arabic figures throughout; the latter have then been crossed out and the leaves renumbered throughout. Twentieth century binding. Decorated with gold initials with red, blue and pink decoration, and a badge of three links of a chain within a crescent moon on a red and black background. The badge and a shield of arms on fol. 59v are probably those of Henry Percy, 5th Earl of Northumberland (d 1527).

Archivist's Note

Compiled by Sarah Aitchison as part of the RSLP AIM25 Project.

Conditions Governing Use

Copies may be made, subject to the condition of the original. Copying must be undertaken by the Palaeography Room staff, who will need a minimum of 24 hours to process requests.

Custodial History

The manuscript is inscribed on fol.52v 'Edward Freeman, 1561'. It was bought by Sir Thomas Phillips at the sale of the collection of Sir Gregory Osborne Page-Turner, 19 October 1824, and was part of his collection as MS. 3120. It was given to the Institute of Historical Research by Professor R W Seton-Watson, and was transferred to the University of London Library in 1938.


The Latin version of the coronation claims of Richard II were printed in L G Wickham Legg, English coronation records (Westminster, 1901); Latin, French and English versions of the treatise on the form of Parliament may be found in J Taylor, 'The manuscripts of the Modus Tenendi Parliamentum', in English Historical Review , LXXXIII (1968); further details of the role of the Earl Marshal are in J H Round, The commune of London (Westminster, 1899); the statutes of the Order of the Garter were printed in T Dawson, Memoirs of St George (1714).