The Close Rolls are an administrative record created in medieval England by the royal chancery, in order to preserve a central record of all letters close issued by the chancery in the name of the Crown. The first Close Roll was started in 1204 (in the reign of King John), under the Chancellorship of Hubert Walter. Copies of the texts of the letters were written on sheets of parchment, which were stitched together into long rolls to form a roll for each year. Examples of letters in England that were entered into the Close Rolls included summons of barons to Parliament.
The Close Rolls for the years 1204 to 1227 were published as abbreviated Latin texts (in a near-facsimile of the manuscripts, employing a special "record type" font) by the Record Commission, edited by T.D. Hardy, in 1833 and 1844, in two large folio volumes entitled Rotuli Litterarum Clausarum in Turri Londinensi asservati. Those for the years 1227 to 1272 were published by the Public Record Office between 1902 and 1938, with extended Latin texts, in fourteen volumes entitled Close Rolls, of which eleven were edited by W. H. Stevenson. A "supplementary" volume of additional material for the years 1244–66 appeared in 1975. The post-1272 rolls have not been published as full texts but in calendar form (i.e. as comprehensive English summaries, with all significant details included), under the title Calendar of Close Rolls: 47 volumes appeared between 1900 and 1963, covering the years 1272 to 1509. Those for the reign of Henry VIII (1509–47) have not been independently published, but are incorporated into the series Letters and Papers of the Reign of Henry VIII (published 1862–1932).
The published texts and calendars from 1227 to 1509 have been made available online in a fully searchable form on a "premium" (subscription) section of the digital library British History Online (co-managed by the Institute of Historical Research).
- Saul, Nigel (2000). A Companion to Medieval England 1066–1485. Stroud: Tempus. p. 116. ISBN 0-7524-2969-8.
- Coredon, Christopher (2007). A Dictionary of Medieval Terms & Phrases (Reprint ed.). Woodbridge: D. S. Brewer. p. 76. ISBN 978-1-84384-138-8.
- A. L. Poole, 'William Henry Stevenson', in Dictionary of National Biography, 1922–1930 (Oxford, 1937), pp. 811–812
- "Calendar of Close Rolls". British History Online. Retrieved 15 January 2013. (subscription required)
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