We are in the midst of installing our next exhibit, due to open May 12th, From the Fall of Troy: Medieval Chronicles. A featured piece is a large fragment of a manuscript scroll, La chronique anonyme universelle jusque’ à la mort de Charles VII produced in 1461. It has an international scope, but it was clearly written for the use of the French. It displays successions of the Popes, Kings of France, Holy Roman Emperors, Kings of England, and a chronology of the crusades. Like many chronicles, it uses a genealogical structure to tell history through individuals’ exploits.
The full scroll would have been eighteen meters long and could be unfurled at ceremonial occasions. The structure of the chronicle makes one wonder how it was read. The four timelines are not in sync on the “page,” so each narrative stream must be read separately. But, to an audience used to episodic reading, this may not have been as jarring as to a modern audience expecting clear narrative structure.
Our fragment features miniatures of Charlemagne as Holy Roman Emperor, Godfrey de Bouillon as King of Jerusalem, and St. Louis onboard a ship. You can see it on display in the Class of 1965 Galleries May 12th through the end of June. After that, just ask for Rauner Ms 461940.