Funding for the Methods Network ended March 31st 2008. The website will be preserved in its current state.

The Jean Froissart Project

The principal collaborating organisations for the technical side of the project are the Royal Armouries Museum, with premises at Leeds, Louisville KY, Fort Nelson (Hants) and the Tower of London, the White Rose Grid and the World Universities Network, as well as various libraries and museums in France. The project is thus widely dispersed geographically, yet focused on a corpus of primary material whose elements (the manuscripts) can only be in one place at a time. The digitisation consultant for this project is Colin Dunn of Scriptura Ltd., Oxford.


Whilst individual manuscripts can of course still frequently be viewed on site in the libraries where they are housed, some of the larger national libraries restrict even specialist scholars to black and white microfilms or slides. Should one wish to compare a subset of Froissart manuscripts, related to one another either textually or iconographically, there are numerous logistical barriers to overcome.

To find a way of displaying such a selection ‘in the flesh’ is a challenge being addressed by the Project. Each manuscript is worth in the region of £3m. There are therefore obvious security implications for any transportation, public exhibition or access to a group of otherwise dispersed manuscripts by the research community. Rigorous controls must be in place in any environment in which the manuscripts are to reside: they are highly sensitive to light, heat, humidity and touch. Typically therefore, manuscripts must be accompanied by a specialist curator and a security detail whenever they leave their home display environment, and housed using specialist equipment costing many thousands of pounds. These inevitable restrictions on the movements of the primary material bring a costly and labour-intensive dimension to the research and/or the exhibition process.

This project envisages providing streamed access to digitised volumes of the manuscripts via a portlet also for use in exhibitions, research seminars and conference presentations. By transferring the ‘presence’ of the manuscripts from the real to the virtual worlds, many of these logistical problems will be circumvented. As well as this, the portlet adds its own value in research terms by allowing ‘hot-spotting’ (pictured) whereby the user can drill down for more information about the text and iconography using information icons on the digitised manuscript itself (transforming it into an interface in its own right). The interface also facilitates the annotation of the folios, and parallel transcription and translation of the text.

The project hopes to deploy such 2D imagery of the folios in conjunction with 3D imagery of associated artefacts, such as arms and armour, providing an historical and curatorial context. Perhaps most importantly, the project raises the possibility of being able to view multiple manuscripts (the originals of which may be in Toulouse, Besançon, Lancashire or london) simultaneously. The ability of the viewer to examine closely different documents side-by-side, without having to transport them physically, and with the various ‘add-on’ values described, will allow researchers to synthesise information from different manuscript sources in new ways, and to document their research in far more detail than has hitherto been possible.


This is in the main a project about delivering a primary resource in far greater depth and detail than would be possible even on the Internet to a specialised community of scholars; and about contextualising the same material for wider public audiences. There is therefore a major technological interest for the project in digitisation: the scan must produce an image that is at least as useful for research purposes as a powerful magnifying lens applied to the same area, under appropriate lighting conditions. The team therefore collaborates with Colin Dunn, a photographic digitisation consultant from Scriptura Ltd (Oxford) who advises on this; and the large size of the image files produced as a result presents further issues of data storage, transfer and retrieval. The project centres around the portlet, which is currently delivered via the internet. The team plans to develop this into an online viewing environment, with tools for manipulating and interacting with the digitised manuscripts, to be delivered via the Data and Access Grids. This will be archived with the support of the White Rose Grid, and the Royal Armouries. The project also plans to use a SRB client developed by a research student for the Froissart database; and will trial the technology within a local Virtual Research Environment (VRE).

The Froissart Chronicles project demonstrates many of the key benefits that can accrue from linking advanced digitisation methods with the Grid and the VRE concept. In particular, it allows researchers, and the public, to see the Chronicles in the context of wider areas of the Froissart corpus – something any supposed ‘lone medieval scholar’ would surely approve of.

AHDS Methods Taxonomy Terms

This item has been catalogued using a discipline and methods taxonomy. Learn more here.


  • History
  • English Literature and Languages
  • European Literature and Languages


  • Data Capture - 2d Scanning/photography
  • Data publishing and dissemination - Graphical resource sharing
  • Data publishing and dissemination - Textual resource sharing
  • Practice-led Research - Image optimisation for the web