Roll Chronicle 

Roll Chronicle, Mid-fifteenth century with additions of c. 1665
Illumination with coloured inks and tint on vellum rolls
Roll 1 - 1245 x 58, Roll 2 - 192.5 x 58 (cm)
Society of Antiquaries of London

Brown and Harriss 1999; Willetts 2000, p. 240; London 2007, no. 1
full bibliography (pdf)
 This genealogical roll charts the descent of Charles II from Adam and Eve, via Noah, Nine Worthies of medieval art and literature and the Dukes of Normandy. Such fanciful descents were not uncommon in medieval attempts to see backwards through the mists of time. Since the Bible provided the links from Adam down to Christ, the difficult sections, those for which ingenuity and imagination were required, lay in the first thousand years of the Christian era.

Rolls such as these illustrate the desire of the nobility of all European nations to associate themselves with the real and legendary figures of the remote past, and although such compilations are notoriously imaginative, the curiosity about the past they excited helped to develop serious research into antiquarian matters. Comparable genealogies exist showing the descent of James I from the Trojan prince Brutus.

The dedication to Henry VI and other references suggests that the earlier roll was one of a group dating from c.1455 that were constructed to show his rightful title to the throne after he had been defeated by the Yorkists at the Battle of St Albans (1455). The author was reputed to be Roger Alban, a Carmelite monk living in London, and it is possible that this copy is in his hand, and is the one presented to Henry VI. The fine illuminations in the roundels have been attributed to William Abell (d. 1474), who was outstanding in this line of work.

An extension of the roll carries the genealogical tree forward to the reign of Charles II, who was also concerned to cement his claim to the English throne. However, by then, genealogies of this kind had come to seem rather far-fetched because so many of the claims made in them had been discredited by antiquarian research.