Image Library: Illuminations

The first battle of Lincoln, 2 February 1141
The first battle of Lincoln, on 2 February 1141, in the civil war between King Stephen and Empress Matilda. Alan the Black, earl of Richmond, was captured soon after by Ranulf, earl of Chester. The Fennes owed military service to the earls of Richmond and may well have been drawn into the fighting. From a copy of Henry of Huntingdon’s Historia Anglorum made around 1200 (BL Arundel MS 48, f. 168v).
A monk offering King John a poisoned chalice in 1216 (BL Cotton MS Vitellius A XIII)
A monk offering King John a poisoned chalice in 1216. Waleran de Rochford and many of his neighbours joined the rebels in the First Baron’s War. The king retaliated by confiscating their lands and demanding their sons as hostages. He died suddenly while travelling in the area later that year, and it was rumoured that the monks of nearby Swineshead Abbey had something to do with it. (BL Cotton MS Vitellius A XIII).
The battle of Evesham, 1256, from The Rochester Chronicle by Edmund of Haddenham
The battle of Evesham and the mutilation of Simon de Montfort on 4 August 1265, in the Second Baron’s War. John de Rochford I stuck with the royalists during this rebellion and died in mysterious circumstances in late 1266 or early 1267, as the war was coming to a close. From The Rochester Chronicle by Edmund of Haddenham, 1355 (copyright The British Library Board, BL Cotton MS Nero D II).
The battle of Falkirk, 22 July 1298, from The Rochester Chronicle
The battle of Falkirk, 22 July 1298, where King Edward I defeated the insurgent Scots under Sir William Wallace. Sir Ralph de Rochford II fought in the vanguard under Sir John de Segrave. From The Rochester Chronicle, copyright The British Library Board.
Queen Isabella, her rebel lover Roger Mortimer and their retainers
Queen Isabella, her rebel lover Roger Mortimer and their retainers, in the 1320s. Sayer de Rochford became a loyal member of Mortimer’s band during this time. From Jean de Wavrin’s late 1400s Recueil des Croniques d’Engleterre (BL Royal 15 E IV, f. 316v).
The battle of Poitiers, 1356, from Froissart’s Chronicles (BNF Fr 2643, f. 207)
The battle of Poitiers, 1356, with the forces of the Black Prince on the left, and King John of France on the right. Sir Ralph de Rochford of Walpole was at the battle and his father, Sir Sayer, was later appointed to guard the captured French king at Somerton Castle in England. From Froissart’s Chronicles (BNF Fr 2643, f. 207).
The sack of Limoges, 1370, from Wavrin’s Chronicles (BNF Fr 77, f. 371)
The sack of Limoges in September 1370. Sir John de Rochford II was once more in John of Gaunt’s retinue when they set about reconquering the city from the French. According to Froissart, thousands of its citizens were massacred afterwards. From Wavrin’s Chronicles (BNF Fr 77, f. 371).
The execution of the archbishop of Canterbury during the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381
The execution of the archbishop of Canterbury during the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381. Sir John de Rochford II and John de Rochford the Younger of Boston were called upon to suppress the insurgency in Lincolnshire. From Froissart’s Chronicles (BL Royal MS 18 E I, f. 172r).
The famous joust at St-Inglevert in 1390, from Froissart’s Chronicles (BL Harley MS 4379, f. 43r)
The famous joust at St-Inglevert in spring 1390. Ralph Rochford III was probably there with Henry Bolingbroke. Immediately afterwards at Calais, Henry hired Ralph as an esquire, and in summer they departed on expedition to Lithuania. From Froissart’s Chronicles (BL Harley MS 4379, f. 43r).
The knight in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales
Like Sir Ralph Rochford III, the knight in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales had just returned from a reysa in Prussia. Chaucer’s patron was Bolingbroke’s father, John of Gaunt, and he wrote his tales around the time of Bolingbroke’s expeditions. Surely one inspired the other. From the Ellesmere Manuscript, early 1400s.
King Richard II deposed, from Jean Creton’s La Prinse et Mort du Roy Richart, c1401 (BL Harley MS 1319, f. 57r)
The hastily convened 1399 parliament at which King Richard II was formally deposed and Henry Bolingbroke established his claim to the throne. John de Rochford the Younger was one of the two Lincolnshire representatives at this parliament. From Jean Creton’s La Prinse et Mort du Roy Richart, c1401 (BL Harley MS 1319, f. 57r).
The coronation of Henry IV, from Froissart’s Chronicles (BL Harley MS 4380, f. 186v)
The coronation of Henry Bolingbroke as King Henry IV at Westminster in 1399. John de Rochford the Younger was present at the ceremony and was probably knighted in connection with it. His nephew Sir Ralph Rochford III was probably there too. From Froissart’s Chronicles (BL Harley MS 4380, f. 186v).
The Council of Constance, 1414-1418, from Ulrich von Richental’s Chronik des Konstanzer Konzils
The Council of Constance, 1414-1418, with Emperor Sigismund on the right. Sir Ralph Rochford III was one of King Henry V’s ambassadors to the council, and he probably knew Sigismund from his travels with Bolingbroke. From Ulrich von Richental’s Chronik des Konstanzer Konzils, mid-to-late 1400s.
Henry V and the English camp at the siege of Rouen in 1418, from The Beauchamp Pageants, c1480
Henry V and the English camp at the siege of Rouen in 1418. Sir Ralph Rochford III was a captain in Henry’s invasion force. It was from this camp that Henry briefed him to negotiate with Yolande of Jerusalem. From The Beauchamp Pageants, c1480 (BL Cotton Julius E IV), via J. R. Green, A Short History of the English People, v2.
Henry VI sails for Calais, from Wavrin’s Chronicles (Koninklijke Bibliotheek MS 133 A 7 III, f. 197r).
Henry VI’s journey to be crowned king of France in Paris, 1431. As Henry’s personal guardian, Sir Ralph Rochford III’s last great task was to escort him there safely with a retinue of bishops, lords and knights, in the midst of a war. From Wavrin’s Chronicles (Koninklijke Bibliotheek MS 133 A 7 III, f. 197r).
The battle of Tewkesbury, 4 May 1471, and the ensuing bloodbath
The battle of Tewkesbury, 4 May 1471, and the ensuing bloodbath. Here Edward IV finished off the House of Lancaster’s hope of regaining the throne for good. It during the Wars of the Roses that Henry Rochford of Fenne and his children John IVJoan and Ralph V, lived. (Ghent MS, Provided by Ghent University Library)

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