A catalogue of Western manuscripts at the Bodleian Libraries and selected Oxford colleges

MS. Bodl. 638

Summary Catalogue no.: 2078

Chaucer, Lydgate, Hoccleve, etc.; England, 15th century, third quarter


Language(s): English

1. (fol. 1)
⟨John Lydgate⟩, The Complaint of the Black Knight
Rubric: The compleynte of a Lovers Life

Imperfect at beginning: beg. 'So doth this god': at end of colophon 'Lilyus', perhaps the name of the scribe. [Read as 'Lyty' by P. Robinson in her introduction to the facsimile of the manuscript (1982).]

2. (fol. 5)
⟨Geoffrey Chaucer⟩, Anelida and Arcite
Rubric: The complaynte of feyre Anelida ouer fals Arcyte
3. (fol. 11v)
⟨John Clanvowe (?)⟩, The Cuckoo and the Nightingale
Rubric: The Boke of Cupide god of loue
4. (fol. 16v)
⟨John Lydgate⟩, The Temple of Glass
Rubric: The Temple of Bras

Fol. 35 is torn.

5. (fol. 38v)
⟨Thomas Hoccleve⟩, Letter of Cupid
Rubric: The Lettre of Cupide god of loue
6. (fol. 46)
⟨Geoffrey Chaucer⟩, Complaint unto Pity
Rubric: The complaynte vnto Pyte
7. (fol. 48)
⟨Geoffrey Chaucer⟩, Legend of Good Women
Rubric: IX good Women

With prologue. Fol. 71 is mutilated.

8. (fol. 96)
⟨Geoffrey Chaucer⟩, Parliament of Fowls
Rubric: The Parlement of Fowlys
Final rubric: Explicit tractatus de congregacione uolucrum die sancti Valentini

Imperfect at beginning: beg. 'Cometh al the new corne'.

9. (fol. 110v)
⟨Geoffrey Chaucer⟩, Book of the Duchess
Rubric: The Boke of the Duchesse

Fol. 122 is torn.

10. (fol. 141v)
⟨Geoffrey Chaucer⟩, House of Fame
Rubric: The Hows of Fame

Fols. 187, 190 are torn.

11. (fol. 195)
On the chance of the dice (NIMEV 803, DIMEV 1318)
Rubric: The Chaunce of the Dyse
Incipit: Fyrst myn vnkunnyng and my rudenesse

Fol. 195 is torn, fols. 197, 201 mutilated.

12. (fol. 204)
⟨Geoffrey Chaucer⟩, ⟨Hymn to the Virgin⟩

Fol. 204 is torn.

13. (fol. 208)
⟨Geoffrey Chaucer⟩, Ballad of Fortune
Rubric: Balade de vilage saunz peynture
14. (fol. 209v)
The complaint against hope (NIMEV 370, DIMEV 627)
Rubric: The complaynte a geyne Hope
Incipit: As I stode in studyenge allone
15. (fol. 212)
⟨Geoffrey Chaucer (?)⟩, Compleint Damours
Rubric: Complaynte damowre
Ragman's Roll (NIMEV 2251, DIMEV 3618)
Rubric: Ragmanys Rolle
Incipit: My ladies & my mastressys echone
17. (fol. 1)
⟨John Lydgate⟩, The Order of Fools
Rubric: The Ordre of Folys

Fol. 219v is half erased by ill usage, and a leaf or two are wanting after it: only the first six stanzas are here.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: parchment, paper
Extent: i + 220 leaves
Dimensions (leaf): 8.25 × 6 in.


Coloured capitals.


Origin: 15th century, third quarter ; English

Provenance and Acquisition

There is much scribbling, with the following names (among others) of the 16th cent.:–Richard Becher (foll. 17, 159), James Hedington (fol. 83v), Humfrey Flemyng (fol. 214, cf. 127, 162), Antony Sherington in Lemsster (Leominster), 1563 (fol. 36v, cf. 144v), John Smart (fol. 191), S. Pot (foll. 193v, 194r): 'Gyl: Astley' (front cover).

Apparently acquired between 1613 and 1620.

Record Sources

Description adapted (May 2020) from the Summary Catalogue (1922), with additional reference to other published literature as cited.

Digital Images

Digital Bodleian (1 image from 35mm slides)


Last Substantive Revision

2020-05-06: Description revised to include all information in SC.