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

MS. Bodl. 902

Summary Catalogue no.: 27573


John Gower, Confessio Amantis

A good text of the first recension. The usual Latin rubrics and short verses occur. The first leaf of the manuscript is lost and the missing part of the prologue (as far as 'vppon a were') is supplied by a 16th century transcription; the transcription was most likely based on the 1554 edition of the third rescension of the Confessio Amantis

At the end of the manuscript is the metrical explicit (four lines only), 'Epistola super huius operis sui complementum...', beginning 'Quam cinxere freta'

The manuscript contains the early form of Gower's account of his three works

Language(s): Middle English and Latin

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: parchment
Extent: v + 188 leaves
Dimensions (binding): 13.75 × 9.75 in.


Mutilated, and missing the beginning. Fols 8 and 86 have a tear; cf. fol. 188


2 cols


The hand changes after fol. 16


Pächt and Alexander iii. 826, Pl. LXXXI

Fine miniature. The Summary Catalogue notes that the miniature is of the Confessor and (probably) Gower himself



By Johannes


Origin: 15th century, beginning ; England, London (?)

Provenance and Acquisition

'Anne Russe⟨ll⟩' (fol. 80v); 'Elyzebeth Gardnar' (fol. 115); and 'John Browghton (fol. 184v) seem to have possessed the manuscript in the 16th century. For further information see L. Mooney and D. Pearsall, A descriptive catalogue of the English manuscripts of John Gower's Confessio amantis (Cambridge, 2021).

"No doubt given to the Library by Gilbert Sheldon, son of the archbishop, in 1697" (Summary Catalogue)

Record Sources

Description adapted (March 2023) by Stewart J. Brookes from the Summary Catalogue (1905). Decoration, localization and date follow Pächt and Alexander (1973)

Digital Images

Digital Bodleian (7 images from 35mm slides)


Last Substantive Revision

2023-01-06: Description revised to incorporate all the information in the Summary Catalogue (1922)