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Ledall Roll (Additional MS 39564)

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Ledall Roll
Additional MS 39564, British Library
London, United Kingdom
Add. MS 39564 verso.jpg
Top of the verso side of the roll
Type Fencing manual
Date between 1535 - 1550
Place of origin England
Language(s) Early Modern English
Scribe(s) J. Ledall
Material Vellum
Size 152.5 mm × 622 mm
Format Roll
Identified Sydney Anglo
External data Library catalog entry

The Additional MS 39564 is an English fencing manual apparently written by one J. Ledall between 1535 and 1550.[citation needed] The original currently rests in the holdings of the British Library in London, United Kingdom.[1] Along with the Man yt Wol and the Cotton Titus manuscript, this is one of only three extant treatises describing Medieval English martial arts.

The only fencer with the name J. Ledall currently known to be active in Britain in this time period was John Ledall/Ledale (ca.1515-1582), a British merchant born in York, England, between 1513 and 1518 and awarded Freedom of the City of York in 1529 or 1530. The only son of a glover, Ledall was himself a merchant and seems to have been quite wealthy; he was also a prominent member of the Guild of Corpus Christi, which he joined with his wife Elizabeth Vavasour in 1533. In 1547, Ledall was awarded the title Chamberlain of York, which indicates that he must have been a bridge-master at some point before that time. He died in 1582 and was buried at St. John's Chapel Micklegate.

However, this attribution is questionable as the name seems to refer merely to a scribe, not the original author. It appears in the phrase Amen Quod I Ledall ("confirmed by I./J. Ledall") tucked between two lines in the upper part of the back side of the roll, not at the end where a signature might be expected. Additionally, the sequence of plays suggests that it was copied by rote from an older document by a scribe who didn't understand the material well enough to recognize that the pages were out of order, which would argue against its being copied by any sort of fencer.


The known provenance of the Additional MS 39564 is:

  • scribed by J. Ledall between 1535 and 1550.
  • before 1917 - acquired by Rev. Alfred Fuller.
  • 1917 - donated to the British Museum.
  • 1973 - moved to the newly organized British Library.




Additional Resources

The following is a list of publications containing scans, transcriptions, and translations relevant to this article, as well as published peer-reviewed research.


  1. "Explore Archives and Manuscripts". British Library. Retrieved 08 August 2016.
  2. Text continues "called: The Broken Spring with the thrust", but this title seems to be misplaced.
  3. Text reads "The Turning Quarter", but this title seems to be misplaced.
  4. This paragraph may be the misplaced text of the "Turning Quarter"

Copyright and License Summary

For further information, including transcription and translation notes, see the discussion page.

Work Author(s) Source License
Modernization Stevie Thurston Private communication
Transcription Stevie Thurston Index:Ledall Roll (Additional MS 39564)