2 June 2004
ARMORIAL OF NORMANDY AND THE CHIVALRIC ORDERS OF FRANCE, in French, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[Normandy, probably Rouen, 17th century]
290 x 204mm. 209 membranes mounted on guards, with slight variations in order from the pencil foliations (later one running 2-206 followed here), each membrane with armorial bearings fully blazoned in metals and colour and with an identifying title beneath written in cursive hands in brown ink (slight cockling and occasional spotting). Modern red morocco gilt by Stonehouse with citron and tan onlays, red cloth box.
This impressive armorial opens with a series of ecclesiastical coats of arms (ff.2-20), preponderantly those of archbishops of Rouen and bishops of Normandy. The origin of the manuscript in that city or region is confirmed by the inclusion of the arms of Normandy (f.98), the city of Rouen (f.99), and those of the presidents of the Parlement de Rouen (ff.100-111).
The manuscript was clearly originally compiled during the reign of Louis XIV and he heads the sequence of chevaliers of the Ordre du Saint Esprit (ff.21-78), which includes maréchals and amirals de France. These are followed by the -- less high-ranking -- chevaliers of the Ordre de Saint Michel (ff.79-94 and 112-144), the Order of the Golden Fleece (f.96) and Commanders of Malta (ff.96-97). The arms on the final leaves of the manuscript are those of the leading families of Normandy (ff.145-206).
Each coat of arms -- around half of them held by angelic, animal or human supporters -- is identified with the name of the bearer and a brief indication of his titles and royal appointments. Many of these inscriptions were amended or augmented in the 18th century, often providing the date of death of the armiger. In one instance an insertion shows that the manuscript must antedate 1654 and the accession of Louis de Rohan, conte de Rochefort to the title duc de Montbazon (f.62).
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