The John Rylands University Library
University home
[ English MS 2 opening page of the Prologue to Fall of Princes]

English MS 2

John Lydgate, The Fall of Princes, mid 15th century

Size: 415 x 295 mm. ii + 185 + ii folios.

A luxury mid fifteenth-century manuscript of John Lydgate's Fall of Princes. The Fall of Princes was Lydgate's longest single work, totalling over 36,000 lines of mostly rhyme-royal verse. It was originally commissioned by Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, in 1431, and was completed around 1438 or 1439. Ostensibly the work was a translation of Giovanni Boccaccio's De casibus vivorum illustrium, a collection of moralized tragedies, extending from Adam to King John of France. In practice, Lydgate used a French translation by Laurent de Premierfait.

Although there are no illustrations the manuscript has heavily decorated borders and fine initials throughout. There is some evidence that this manuscript was used as copy for Richard Pynson's printed edition of 1494. On f. 185 a late 16th-century owner has written a list of 43 books that he owned.

The manuscript was formerly owned by Brian Fairfax (1676-1749), Sir Francis Child (1735-1763), the Earls of Jersey, and the 26th Earl of Crawford.

Related links

Manuscript Index