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

MS. Ashmole 61

Summary Catalogue no.: 6922

Middle English verse ('The Rate manuscript'); England (perhaps Leicester?), late 15th or early 16th century


Summary of Contents: 'The Rate manuscript', a compilation of Middle English verse - romances, exempla, comic tales, and didactic and devotional texts, many known only from this manuscript - copied by 'Rate' in the late 15th or early 16th century. The contents of the entire manuscript are edited by George Shuffelton, Codex Ashmole 61: A Compilation of Popular Middle English Verse (Kalamazoo, MI, 2008).

Language(s): Middle English (dialect of north-east Leicestershire: eLALME LP 71) with a little Latin (fol. 21v)

(fol. ii(b))
Life of Saint Eustace DIMEV 374

Lines 1–32 only, breaking off; torn leaf formerly affixed to fol. i(a). At the bottom of the leaf, in a different ink, is a fragmentary table of contents for the volume listing texts by incipit or title.

1. (fols. 1r–5r)
Life of Saint Eustace
Rubric: Seint Ewstas
Incipit: |⟨A⟩l þat be on godes lore |Lytell mykyll lesse & more |Lystyns to me A stound |Of a knyght of hethenes
Explicit: |And þer with outen end to wonne |God þat grace vs send
Final rubric: Explicit uita sancti Eustachii
2. (fols. 5v–6r)
John Lydgate, Rammeshorne
Incipit: |Thus Ryght wysnes do now procede |And sytyht lyke A gay emprece |Law hath lorn All maner of mede |Ant settyht vp treuth als hyȝe as god is
Explicit: |Thus be we gouerned for soth as I gesse |Conueyed by lyn
3. (fols. 6r–6v)
How the Wyse Man Tawght His Son
Incipit: |Lordynges & ȝe wyll here |How a wyse man tauȝht hys sone |Take god hede to þis matere |And fynd to lerne it yff ȝe cane
Explicit: |And Ihesu bryng vs to his blysse |The chyld þat w⟨as⟩ in bedlem borne
Colophon: Amen quod Rate

Omits stanzas 6–11, first half of 13, and 14.

DIMEV 3241
4. (fols. 7r–8v)
The Good Wife Taught Her Daughter
Rubric: þe Goode Wyfe tauȝt hyr Douȝter
Incipit: |Lyst & lythe A lytell space |I schall ȝou telle A praty cace |How þe gode wyfe tauȝht hyr douȝter |To mend hyr lyfe & make her better
Explicit: |And bring vs to thy hyȝhe blysse |That neuer mor fro vs schall mysse
DIMEV 3087
5. (fols. 9r–16v)
Sir Isumbras
Rubric: Ysombras
Incipit: |⟨H⟩ende in halle & ȝe schall here |of elders þat be fforn vs were |There lyues how þat dyde lede |I schall ȝow telle A wonder case
Explicit: |And to heuen yer saules wente |When yi dede were
DIMEV 1934
6. (fols. 16v–17r)
The Ten Commandments
Incipit: |Herkyns serys þat standes A bowte |I wyll ȝow tell with gode entente |How ȝe to god schuld kne & lowte |Iff ȝe wyll kepe his commandment
Explicit: |ȝiff þat they wyll fro syn them kepe |They schall be bryȝter þan þe sone
Colophon: Amen quod Rate.

The Speculum Christiani version of the Ten Commandments occuring separately, with a unique stanza prefixed and three others appended.

DIMEV 1768
7. (fols. 17v–19v)
John Lydgate, Stans puer ad mensam
Incipit: |Ihesus cryste þat dyed vpon A tree |To bye mans saule þat ons was for lorn |Helpe þem wele in All þer degree |That doth euer ryght be hynd & beforn
Explicit: |Take A candell in þi hond Anon & hold hym lyght |To he haue drownkyn what he wyll styll by hym þu byde

Expanded version.

DIMEV 2828
8. (fols. 20r–21v)
Dame Courtesy’s moral instructions
Rubric: Dame Curtasy
Incipit: |Whosoever wyll thryve or thé |Muste vertus lerne and curtas be.
Explicit: |God gyff them grace vertuos to be, |For than thei may both thryff and thé.
Colophon: Amen quod Rate
DIMEV 6666
9. (fol. 21v)
Latin epigram
" |Tempore felici, multi numerantur amici. |Cum fortuna perit, nullus amicus erit. "
10. (fol. 21v)
Sir John Fortescue (attrib.), Twelve points for purchasers of land to look to
Incipit: |Who so wyll be were in purchasyng |Consider þe poyntes þat be þer Inne
Explicit: |And in x ȝere if þou wyse be |Thou shall a geyn þi money se
DIMEV 6640
11a. (fol. 21v)
Latin epigram
"O Asside, Asside, dico te Romanos superare."
11b. (fol. 21v)
Latin epigram
" |Tres infelices in mundo dicimus esse |Infelix qui pauca sapit spernitque doceri |Infelix qui multa sapit spernitque docere |Infelix qui sancta docet si uiuat inique"
WIC 19393
12. (fol. 22r)
Evening prayer
Incipit: |Ihesus Lord well of All godnes |ffor thi grete pety I þe pray |ffor gyffe me All my wykidnes |Where with I haue grenyd þe to dey
Explicit: |My body my soule I þe be ken |In nomine patris & filij & spiritus sancti
DIMEV 3775
13. (fols. 22r–22v)
Morning prayer
Incipit: |Ihesu lord blyssed þu be |ffor All þat nyght þu hast me kepe |ffrom þe fend & his poste |Wheþer I wake or þat I slepe
Explicit: |ffrom All euyll sprytes þu me defend |And in my desesys to be my socoure
DIMEV 2862
14. (fol. 22v)
The Ten Commandments

Repetition of the first two stanzas of The Ten Commandments (fols. 16v–17r).

DIMEV 1768
15. (fols. 22v–23r)
Orison to the Virgin Mary
Incipit: |Mary moder wele þu be |Mary moder thinke on me |Moder and mayd was neuer none |In þis werld bot þu A lone
Explicit: |That I may fynd it so be |Amen Amen for charyte

Occurs as part of Speculum Christiani and separately.

DIMEV 3433
16. (fols. 23r–26r)
Debate of the Carpenter’s Tools
Incipit: |The shype Ax seyd vnto þe wryght |Mete & drynke I schall ye plyght |Clen hose & clene schone |Gete þem wer as euer þou kane
Explicit: |And bryng vs All vn to his blysse |That neuer fro vs schall mysse
DIMEV 5459.5
17. (fols. 26r–26v)
Prayer at the Levation
Incipit: |Welcom lord in forme of bred |In þe is both lyffe & ded |Ihesu is þi name |Thow Arte god in trinyte
Explicit: |Heyll fader son & holy goste |Welcom in forme off brede
DIMEV 6196
18. (fols. 26v–27v)
The Knight who forgave the Slayer of his Father
Incipit: |By twyx two knyghtes be ȝond þe se |ffell a gret conteke to be |By twyx þem fell syche wroth & wo |That þe one weyted þe oþer to slo
Explicit: |And þat it myght so be |Prey we all for charite
Colophon: Amen quod Rate

From Handlyng Synne, lines 3797–3910.

19. (fols. 27v–38v)
The Earl of Toulous
Incipit: |Ihesu cryst in trinite |O god And persons thre |Gyff vs wele to spede |And gyff vs grace so to do
Explicit: |Graunte vs All þi blyssing |Amen for charyte
DIMEV 2813
20. (fols. 38v–59v)
Lybaeus Desconus
Rubric: Lybeuus Dysconius
Incipit: |Ihesu cryst owre sauyowre |And his moder þat swete flowre |They sped them in þi nede |That lystyns of A conquerour
Explicit: |ȝe schull haue þe blyssing |Of Ihesu cryst All so
DIMEV 2824
21. (fols. 59v–62r)
Romance of Sir Corneus
Incipit: |All þat wyll of solas lere |Herkyns now & ȝe schall here |And ȝe kane vnderstond |Off a bowrd I wyll ȝou schew
Explicit: |God gyff vs grace þat we may go |To heuyn amen amen
22. (fols. 62r–65v)
A miracle of the Virgin Mary: The Knight and his jealous wife
Incipit: |Lorgynges curtase & hene |lystyns how þis tale schall ende |T⟨hat⟩ I wyll ȝow seyne |And if ge wyll with gode wyll here
Explicit: |Dorste no lenger A byde |Bot fled A wey full sore||
DIMEV 3243
23. (fols. 66r–67v)
Tale of an incestuous daughter
Incipit: |That I schall neuer with þe dele |At bede at bord mete ne mele |My synne I haue for sake |A sche seyd þu wyked man
Explicit: |Vn to Ioy Ioy[sic] þat we may wende |Lord for þi holy grace
DIMEV 1788
24. (fols. 67v–73r)
Sir Cleges
Incipit: ⟨L⟩ystyns lordynges & ȝe schall here |Off Ansystores þat be fore vs were |Bothe herdy & wyght |In tyme of vter & þendragon
Explicit: |There saulys went to heuen clere |There is Ioy eith outen ende
DIMEV 3093
25. (fols. 73r–78v)
The Founding of the Feasts of All Saints and All Souls
Rubric: Festum omnium sanctorum
Incipit: |Ihesu cryst of myȝhtes most |fader & sone & holy gost |Be At ouer be gynneng |And saue mans kynd fro spyllyng
Explicit: |Wyth gode hert þat it so be |Sey we Amen for charyte
DIMEV 2819
26. (fols. 78v–83r)
The King and His Four Daughters
Rubric: De principio creationis mundi
Incipit: |Ihesu cryst heuyn kynge |Be at my be gynninge |There is no man þat may ȝelpe |Bot he hath nede of godes helpe
Explicit: |All contake leyd schall be |My wyll it is I schall saue ye

Translation of Robert Grosseteste, Chateau d’Amour.

DIMEV 2809
27. (fols. 83r–87v)
Incipit: |All þat wyll of wysdom lere |lystyns to me & ȝe schall lere |Of a tale of holy wryte |Seynt Iohn þe Apostyll wytnes ite
Explicit: |Here endys þe talkyng |God grante vs all hye blyssyng
28. (fols. 87v–105v)
The Northern Passion
Rubric: Passio domini nostri
Incipit: |Lystyns lordynges I wyll ȝow tell |Off mekyll pete I may ȝou spell |Off Ihesu þat vs All hath wrouȝt |And seth oure saules dere hath bouȝt
Explicit: |And þat it myȝht so be |Amen Amen for charyte
DIMEV 3124
29. (fol. 106r)
Short Charter of Christ
Rubric: Testamentum domini
Incipit: |Wyteh wele all that ben here |And after schall be leve and dere
Explicit: |In wytnes of that yche thynge |Myn awne sele therto I hynge
DIMEV 6769
30. (fol. 106r)
A lament of the Virgin Mary
Rubric: Lamentacio beate Marie
Incipit: |In A chyrch As I gan knelle |Thys endres dey for to here messe |I saw A syȝht me lykyd welle |I schall ȝou tell how þat it was
Explicit: |Thynke on hys passyoun And hys blys |ffor thy son dyȝed my dere sone dere
DIMEV 2442
31. (fols. 107r–108r)
John Lydgate, Dietary
Rubric: The governans of man
Incipit: |ffor helth of body couer fro cold þi hede |Ete non raw mete take gode hede þer to |Drynke holsom drynke fede þe on lyȝht brede |And with Apytyte ryse fro þi mete also
Explicit: |Off mayster Antony ne of master hew |To all deferent it is dyatary
Final rubric: Explicet the gouernans of man
DIMEV 1356
32. (fols. 108r–119v)
Richard Maidstone, Seven Penitential Psalms
Rubric: Septem psalmi penitensiales
Incipit: |Lord in thyn Anger vp take me nouȝt |And in thy wreth blame þu not me |ffor certys synne hath me throuȝt souȝt |That I wer laste nere helpe of the
Explicit: |In heuen kyndom to haue sesyn |All myȝhty god in persons three
DIMEV 3207
33. (fols. 120r–128r)
Stimulus conscientie minor
Incipit: |All myȝhty god in trinite |ffader & sone & holy goste |That is one god & persones thre |O stedfast god of myȝtes moste
Explicit: |And grante hym lyue þat lastes aye |In heuen where joy is euer mour new
Final rubric: Explicit stimulus conciencie minoris
Colophon: Nunc finem feci da michi quod merui
34. (fols. 128r–136r)
The Stations of Jerusalem
Rubric: The stasyons of Ierusalem
Incipit: |God that schupe both heuen & helle |To þe lord I make my mone |And gyne me grace þe sothe to telle |Of þe pylgryme Age þat I haue gone
Explicit: |Off þe lord to haue in mynd |ffor to be hold þi blyssyd face
Final rubric: Amen quod Rate
DIMEV 1613
35a. (fol. 136r-v)
Lamentacio peccatoris
Incipit: |All crysten men þat walke by me |Be hold & se þe dulfull syȝht |It helpys not to calle ne cry |ffor I am a dampned a dollfole wyȝht
Explicit: |Farewele I here an horn blow |I may no lenger byde with thee
Colophon: Amen quod Rate
35b. (fols. 136v–138v)
The Adulterous Falmouth Squire
Incipit: |Man fro myscheff thou thee amend |And to my talkyng thou take god hede
Explicit: |ffro dedly syne god þe defende |And vnto blys þi saull schall fare
Colophon: Amen quod Rate
DIMEV 3348
36. (fols. 138v–144v)
The story of the Resurrection
Incipit: |When Ihesu was in graue leyd |The bysschop vnto An oþer seyd |The best rede þat we can done |To sir pylate we wyll gone
Explicit: |God send hem grace to take þe wey |To þe blysse with out endyng
DIMEV 6365
37. (fols. 145r–150v)
Life of Saint Margaret
Rubric: Margaret
Incipit: |Old & ȝong þat here be |lystyns A whyle vnto me |What I schall ȝou sey |How it be fell vpon a dey
Explicit: |pray we All þat may so be |Amen Amen for charyte
DIMEV 4249
38. (fols. 150v–151r)
The Wounds of Christ as Remedies against the Deadly Sins
Rubric: Sequitur septem peccata mortalia
Rubric: Agens pride
Incipit: |Wyth scherp thornys that be kene |My hede was crounyd as ye may sen
Explicit: |That this lesson wyll rede |And therwith ther saulys fede
DIMEV 6744
39. (fols. 151r–156r)
Sir Orfeo
Rubric: kyng orfew
Incipit: |Mery tyme is in Aperelle |That mekyll schewys of manys wylle |In feldys & medewys flowys spryng |In grouys & wodes foules syng
Explicit: |And þat it may so be |Prey we All for charyte
Final rubric: Explicet Orfew
DIMEV 6172
40. (fols. 156v–157r)
Rubric: Vanyte
Incipit: |O vanyte off vanites & All is vanite |Lo how þis werld is turnyd vp & downe |Now wele now wo now tranquilyte |Now werre now pese & now rebilyoun
Explicit: |Bot labour in pouerte to þe tyme þat we dyȝe |ȝit is not labour not bot vanyt
DIMEV 4082
41. (fols. 157r–161v)
The Kyng and the Hermit
Incipit: |Ihesu þat is heuyn kyng |Iff þem All god endyng |If it be þi wyll |And ȝif þem parte of heuen game
Explicit: |The blast of þat horn made hem glad |To þe towne þan gan þi fare
DIMEV 2918

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Paper, in 'holster book' or 'tall quarto' format with horizontal folds on every leaf, evidently present before writing (e.g. fol. 34). Three watermarks: (A) fols. 19-57, quires 3-5, ring with crown and cross above, cf. Briquet 694 (Palermo, 1479); (B), fols. 58-84, quires 6-8, hand with 6-leaved flower or star above, cf. Briquet 11159 (Genoa, 1483) and 11165 (Perpignan, 1505); (C) unicorn, closest to Briquet 10116 (used 1488). Fols. ii(b), 1-18, 92-104 are unwatermarked. Beta-radiographs are available in the Bodleian Library.
Extent: iii (unfoliated modern paper, added 1986) + i (19th/20th cent. paper, fol. i) + i (laid paper, fol. ii(a)) + 1 (original paper leaf, fol. ii(b), formerly glued to fol. ii(a)) + i (unfoliated modern paper, added 1986) + 162 + i (17th cent. laid paper) + iii (unfoliated modern paper, added 1986) leaves
Dimensions (leaf): c. 417-8 × c. 138-141 mm.
Foliation: 19th-century (still in use today), i, ii(a), ii(b), 1-30a, 30b-162.
Foliation: Earlier foliation (probably 16th-century, possibly scribal), omitting the first quire (present fols. 1-8), then running 1-91, 91bis, 92-150, 160-2.


1(8), 2(10), 3(12), 4(16), 5(12), 6(10-2, wants 9 and 10, no loss of text), 7(12), 8(14), 9(14-1, 8 cancelled after fol. 91(a)), 10(16)-11(16), 12(14), 13(16-5, 12-16 wanting; fols. 151-161); as reconstructed by Bruce Barker-Benfield in 1986. The first quire was not included in the early foliation and may have been a late addition to the manuscript, but its contents are included in Rate's table on fol. ii(b). Catchwords, possibly scribal.


1 col., c. 44-60 lines; written space typically c. 350 × 70 mm. .


Anglicana with secretary /a/, by one scribe, signing as 'Rate' or 'Rathe'; possibly to be identified with one of the man named William Ratt or Rot(te) active in Leicester in the late fifteenth or early sixteenth centuries. Scribal drawings of fish and flowers throughout the manuscript have been associated with a device of Leicester's Corpus Christi guild (Blanchfield).


No significant decoration; no rubrication; yellow wash applied to some capitals.

For drawings of fish and flowers see above, Hands.


Rebound in off-white leather, 1986.

Previous late 17th century binding kept with the manuscript: dark brown calf with gilt fillets and simple blind-roll tooling on the outside edges; two claps with the arms of Ashmole. Repaired and rebacked in the 19th and/or 20th centuries.


Origin: 15th century, late, or 16th century, early (watermarks) ; England (perhaps Leicester) (see above, Hands)

Provenance and Acquisition

fol. 161v, ‘Item to me from M. Austin of Hook norte[?] on Thursday 2 couple of Rabbitts the Thursday following 2 couple more Thursday the 15 of August 2 couple more’, 16th or 17th century, i.e. Hook Norton in Oxfordshire. Fol. 106v, “Delivered d dame Elizabeth [sic].”

Elias Ashmole, 1617–1692.

Bequeathed by him to the Ashmolean Museum.

Transferred to the Bodleian Library in 1860.

Record Sources

Description by Andrew Dunning and Matthew Holford (December 2021, rev. May 2022), based in part on the Digital Index of Middle English Verse; George Shuffelton, Codex Ashmole 61: A Compilation of Popular Middle English Verse (Kalamazoo, MI, 2008); Gisela Guddat-Figge, Catalogue of Manuscripts Containing Middle English Romances (Munich, 1976); and Lynne Sandra Blanchfield, ‘The Romances in MS Ashmole 61: An Idiosyncratic Scribe’, in Romance in Medieval England, ed. by Maldwyn Mills, Jennifer Fellows, and Carol Meale (Cambridge, 1991), 65–87. Collation and watermarks after descriptions made by Bruce Barker-Benfield at the manuscript's rebinding in 1986. Previously described in the Quarto Catalogue (W. H. Black, A descriptive, analytical, and critical catalogue of the manuscripts bequeathed unto the University of Oxford by Elias Ashmole Esq...., Quarto Catalogues X, 1845).

Digital Images

Digital Bodleian (full digital facsimile)
Digital Bodleian (8 images from 35mm slides)

Last Substantive Revision

2022-05: Additional physical description and provenance.