The script of the verso is a much more informal cursive hand. The language is Latin, possibly reflecting the ecclesiastical origins of the clerk of the council whose signature appears at the bottom. The signature of Adam Moleyns appears on a number of documents of around this time, as he was clerk of the council during the minority of Henry VI; a time when everyone was keeping an eye on everyone else around the court. He managed to combine a career in the church with various high bureaucratic offices, ending up as both bishop of Chichester and Keeper of the Privy Seal. This did not stop him coming to a nasty end, as he was murdered by a mob in a riot in Portsmouth in 1450, at a time when there was great unrest over the losing of French possessions. I thought you might like to know that he was not just some boring old clerk.
The two sides of the petition give a picture of the handling of these processes. On the recto we are told there is a bill attached to the petition, detailing a request for letters patent to be issued. On the verso we are informed that the king ordered the Keeper of the Privy Seal to send a warrant to the chancellor, who in turn was to produce letters patent addressing the issue, whatever it was.
There is something a little intriguing about the whole wording. This document dates from a period when literate legal and governmental processes were well established, the chancery had grown into several secretariats and employed numbers of scribes and clerks to do the work. Yet somehow it still reads as if the king personally summoned the Keeper of the Privy Seal to his country estate to ponder on this little matter, then said keeper personally endorsed the document and wrote the warrant and the chancellor duly attended to the letters patent personally. Conservatism in the wording somehow harks back to the Norman origins of these bureaucratic literate processes.
Petition to Henry VI of 1441. (London, National Archives, E28/G8/18). All images by permission of the National Archives.

| overview | recto text | verso text | recto alphabet | verso alphabet |

| recto abbreviations | verso abbreviations | exercises |

| recto transcript | recto translation | verso transcript | verso translation |

Click on each of the above to walk your way through the text. The transcripts will appear in a separate window so that you can use them for reference at any time. These exercises are designed to guide you through the text, not test you, so you can cheat as much as you like.
Medieval Writing
Script sample for recto
Script sample for verso
Index of Exercises
Index of Scripts

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