Presentation of the Mortuary Roll
The following article was graciously written by Lord Gundormr Dengir.
At their decoronation, we presented Edward (III) and Thyra (II) with a scroll, commemorating their reign and bemoaning its end, however timely. As described in a previous article, this was done in the form of a Mortuary Roll. These were sent upon the death of an Abbot, Prioress or other high-ranking member of a religious community to other, related foundations. The roll began with an obituary for the deceased and then, upon arrival, each house added a short prayer called a Titulus. When it had completed its travels the roll, perhaps with more than 100 inscribed tituli, returned to its source to be kept in the archives. Our roll project was organized by Gun∂ormr Dengir and Eleanor Catlyng, with contributing calligraphers including Andreiko Eferiev, Kayleigh McWhyte, Lada Monguligan, Eowyn Eilonwy of Alewife Brook and Reijnier Verplanck.
The first membrane contains a poetic obituary to each monarch (written by Aildreda de Tamworthe and Steffan ap Cenydd), done in the style of the 10th century Planctus for William Longsword, a memorial poem to a slain Duke. Each poem consists of six stanzas which end with the plaintive refrain, Heu nobis umbratis — Alas for us in shadow. The poems are illuminated with 2 panels (painted by Aaradyn Ghyoot and Eva Woodrose) where the end of the reign is foretold with evil signs and portents, including a flaming pineapple streaking across the heavens. Below, the whole population from the lowly to the mighty hedgehogs and noble flamingos, lament the end of the reign. These were done in the style of one of the most impressively decorated of the surviving medieval mortuary rolls, BL MS Egerton MS 2849, the mortuary roll of Lucy of Hedingham (✝1230).
The remaining membranes contain all the tituli — titles. In these brief formulas each local group promises to remember the departed royalty and asks that we recall their members as we remember Edward and Thyra. The period text, which asked us to pray for the souls of the departed, was rewritten (Latin assistance by Rahel Carolingiæ and Steffan) so that we are implored to remember them for their deeds, wisdom or fame. Baronies, Shires, Principalities, and Cantons, as well as individuals from across the East, contributed the names of their members, as did Kingdoms as far afield as the West and Drachenwald.
The entire scroll has been digitized and has been annotated with translation and scribal attribution. Within the tituli, period practice was to simply give the first name of the person with their title following, if any. We followed that format for the actual scroll, though in the digitized version we’ve also included the full names of all those commemorated in the text.
Duchess Thyra intends to display the Roll at upcoming events. While it may be some time before we are ready to undertake another similar project, we hope that others might be inspired to take part in it in the future. If you would like to learn more about the project or become involved in a future effort, please feel free to contact us: Eleanor, Gun∂ormr, or Thyra. While many deserving subjects were honored through this project, we know that there are many more who could have been so recognized. We would also be happy to begin collecting additional names towards that end as well.