Manuscripts and Special Collections

John Gower, 'Confessio Amantis' and other works (WLC/LM/8)

WLC/LM/8, f. 186r 

English, French and Latin, c.1425. 205 ff

A copy of Gower's masterpiece of medieval English poetry, containing the second version of the Confessio Amantis, written in the late 14th century. It is followed by his French poem Traitié pour essampler les amantz marietz together with its accompanying Latin verses (ff. 201r-203v), and the Latin Carmen super multiplici viciorum pestilencia (ff. 204r-205v).  This is a combination found in seven other manuscripts.  Spaces were left for decoration which was never executed.  A later user has added pen sketches of animals and leaves.  

The volume is written in double columns of 46 lines of verse. The quires sometimes retain contemporary numeration. Latin headings and commentaries are in red. Spaces were left for decoration which was never executed, including capitals and other illumination at the beginning of paragraphs and at the start of each book, and a miniature at the top of folio 1r. There are some later scribbles and pen drawings covering blemishes in the parchment.

The Willoughby family's early ownership of the manuscript is indicated by the note in a 16th century hand, 'By me henrye Willoughbye', at the foot of folio 16r.

Dating is based on the most recent catalogue description: first half of the 15th century, with evidence relating to book production suggesting a likely date of c.1425 (Reference: The Wollaton Medieval Manuscripts)

Image shows f. 186 recto, with drawing of leaves to cover blemishes in parchment

View catalogue records

View zoomable images of the following folios from WLC/LM/8, together with transcriptions and translations of selected parts of the text, on our Wives, Widows and Wimples online learning resource:


Further Reading

  • Historical Manuscript Commission , Report on the Manuscripts of Lord Middleton Preserved at Wollaton Hall , Nottinghamshire , compiled by W. H. Stevenson (London:, 1911), p. 236.
  • The Works of John Gower , ed. G. C. Macaulay, 4 vols (Oxford, 1901).  For a description of the manuscript see vol. ii, p. clvi.
  • A.I. Doyle and M. B. Parkes, ‘The Production of Copies of the Canterbury Tales and the Confessio Amantis in the Early Fifteenth Century’, in Medieval Scribes, Manuscripts and Libraries , ed. M. B. Parkes and Andrew G. Watson (London, 1978).
  • J. Griffiths, ‘"Confessio Amantis": the Poem and its Pictures’, in Gower’s Confessio Amantis , ed A. Minnis (Cambridge, 1983).
  • Thorlac Turville-Petre and Dorothy Johnston, Image & Text: Medieval Manuscripts at the University of Nottingham (Nottingham: Djanogly Art Gallery, University of Nottingham Arts Centre, 1996), p. 5.
  • Catalogue description by R. Hanna, in Ralph Hanna and Thorlac Turville-Petre (eds), The Wollaton Medieval Manuscripts: Texts, Owners and Readers (Boydell and Brewer, 2010)

Published editions:

  • John Gower, Confessio Amantis (IMEV 2662), ed. G. C. Macaulay, The English Works…, EETS ES 81-82 (London, 1900-1).
  • John Gower, 'Traitié pour essampler les amantz marietz', in G. C. Macaulay (ed), The Complete Works…, 4 vols (Oxford, 1899-1902), 1:379-91
  • Latin verses by John Gower, in G. C. Macaulay (ed), The Complete Works…, 4 vols (Oxford, 1899-1902), 1:379-91; R. F. Yeager (ed. and transl.), The Latin Minor Works (Kalamazoo MI, 2005)

Next page: WLC/LM/9


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