Matthew Paris and others in Digitised Armorials list
The manuscript London, British Library, Royal MS 14 C VII is now added to the Digitised Armorials list. The manuscript contains the entire Historia Anglorum (covering 1066-1253) and the last part of the Chronica Majora (covering 1254-1259). It is identified as an autograph of Matthew Paris (d. 1259), monk in the abbey of St. Albans.
The manuscript contains coats of arms in the margins, 95 in total. These make this a valuable document for everyone interested in heraldry, especially since it is made in a period from which few manuscripts with coats of arms have survived. It is written in the 1250s, and it is argued that Matthew Paris himself was responsible for the painting the coats of arms.
The coats of arms in the margins refer to persons accounted in the chronicle, and among them are some striking shields. On f.86v the coat of arms of the Holy Roman Emperor Otto IV displays on the one half the English royal leopards and on the other half the Holy Roman imperial eagle. Further, Matthew Paris has done more with the coats of arms than just representing persons. He has inverted the arms of those who die in that part of his chronicle. For example, on f.13v the royal English arms are displayed twice. The inverted arms indicate the death of William the Conqueror, while the upright arms indicate the accession of his son William Rufus. This manner of communicating through coats of arms in close relation to the text makes this manuscript particularly interesting.
Matthew Paris is also known for making the so-called “Matthew Paris shields”. These are in a different manuscript: the Liber additamentorum (London, BL, Cotton MS Nero D I). We have not found a digitised version of this manuscript. Some pictures of the folio containing these shields are online, but only of the verso side. Therefore these “Matthew Paris shields” are not included here.
The manuscript Royal MS 14 C VII may not qualify as an actual armorial. However, its value for the study of coats of arms is evident. Therefore we have added it to our digitised armorials list. Since there are more manuscripts (chronicles etc.) with a large number of coats of arms in either the margins or miniatures that could be an interesting heraldic source, we have decided to start including these as well. The digitised armorials list is therefore expanded. Other chronicles with coats of arms that have recently been added are:
- Douai, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 1110 (Die Excellente Chronike van Vlaenderen)
- Brugge, Openbare Bibliotheek, Ms. 437, (Die Excellente Chronike van Vlaenderen)
- Bruxelles, KBR, MS IV 684 (Brabantsche Yeesten)
- Zürich, Zentralbibliothek, MS A 75 (Zürcher- und Schweizerchronik by Gerold Edlibach)
As always, we cannot do without your help. If you know of any digitised manuscripts with a large number of coats of arms, please let us know by leaving a comment in the box below. We are grateful for your input.
 Numbers are from Richard Vaughan, Matthew Paris, Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought 6 (Cambridge, 1958), 250. For an edition of the coats of arms in all manuscripts by Matthew Paris: Thomas Daniel Tremlett and Hugh Stanford London, Rolls of Arms Henry III: The Matthew Paris Shields, C. 1244-59, Aspilogia 2 (London, 1967), 3–86.
 Vaughan, Matthew Paris, 251.
 On these Mattew Paris Shields: Anthony Richard Wagner, A Catalogue of English Mediaeval Rolls of Arms (London, 1950), 1–3.