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Chaucerian poems, Written in two (or three) hands late in the 15th century by Scottish scribes, see below

MS. Arch. Selden B. 24

Chaucerian poems:

Fol. 1, 'The book of Troylus' in five parts, by Chaucer, with some marginal notes. Fol. 118 is imperfect. Seven lines on the Troilus follow on fol. 118v (beg. 'Blak be thy bandis'), and above them is an almost contemporary shield bearing Quarterly 1st and 4th azure an antique ship with one mast and unfurled sail, within a tressure counter-flory, 2nd and 3rd azure an antique ship with three masts and furled sails, over all an escutcheon bearing argent a cross engrailed sable (for Sinclair): see the Athenæum, Dec. 30, 1899.

Fol. 119, Short Chaucerian poems, often without titles:

  1. Fol. 119. Balade de bon conseyl, by Chaucer: at end 'Explicit Chauceris counsaling'
  2. Fol. 119. Prosperity: at end 'Quod Chaucere': really part of John Walton's Prologue to his translation of the De Consolatione Philosophiae of Boëthius: beg. 'Richt as pornert ': see the Athenæum, Dec. 28, 1895
  3. Fol. 119v. A poem (not Chaucer's) beg. 'Deuise prowes and eke humylitee | That maidnys hath jn euerich wise ', 49 lines: at end 'Quod Chaucere quhen he Was rycht auisit', and a note that the scribe's 'princeps Jacobus quartus' was born March 17, 147 2/3, in the monastery of the Holy Cross, near Edinburgh: this could not have been written before 1488: probably in the hand of James Graye, see Athenæum, Dec. 16, 1899
  4. Fol. 120v. John Lydgate's Complaint of the Black Knight, here without author's name, and entitled at end 'The maying and disport of Chaucere'
  5. Fol. 130. Thomas Hoccleve's Mother of God, here without title: at end 'Oracio Galfridi Chaucere'
  6. Fol. 132. Chaucer's 'Compleynt of Mars'
  7. Fol. 136. 'The Compleynt of Venus', at end 'Quod Galfridus Chaucere'
  8. Fol. 137v. A poem beg. 'O hie Emperice and quene celestiall', 48 lines: at end (wrongly) 'Quod Chaucere'
  9. Fol. 138. 'Leaulte vault richesse', beg. 'This warldly joy', 8 lines
  10. Fol. 138v. The Cuckoo and the Nightingale, but lines 246 to end are wanting, a leaf being lost
  11. Fol. 142. The Parlement of Foules, by Chaucer, wanting lines 1-14, and with a peculiar ending, only here found: at end 'Here endis the Parliament of Foulis . Quod Galfride Chaucere'
  12. Fol. 152v. The 'Legendis of Ladyes' or Good Women, by Chaucer; at end 'And thus ended Chaucere the Legendis of Ladyis'
  13. A leaf is missing after fol. 189.

Fol. 192, 'Heirefter followis the Quair, maid be King James of Scotland the first, callit The Kingis Quair and maid quhen his Ma[jesty] wes in Ingland': beg. 'Heigh in the hevynnis': the hand changes on fol. 209v; the title (fol. 191v) is in a rather later hand: at end 'Explicit etc. etc. Quod Jacobus primus Scotorum rex Illustrissimus'. The unique MS., and the only authority for the title, of the Kingis Quair, i.e. the King's Poem (short enough to be written on a single quire), written round the episode of king James's courtship of Joan Beaufort. The attribution to king James i of Scotland (d. 1437) has been denied by J. T. T. Brown (The Authorship of the Kingis Quair, 1896) but reasserted by J. J. Jusserand, R. S. Rait, and others, and again doubted by the latest editor of the text (dr. A. Lawson, 1910).

Fol. 211v, More short poems:

  1. Fol. 211v. Thomas Hoccleve's Letter of Cupid, here without title or author's name
  2. Fol. 217. A poem beginning 'Befor my deth this lay of sorow I sing', 185 lines
  3. Fol. 219. The Lover's Complaint, beginning 'Because that teres weymenting and playntee', 63+114 lines, prologue and piece: at end 'Here endis the lufaris complaynt, etc.'

Fol. 221v, 'The Quare of Jelusy ...': beg. 'This lusty May': at end 'Explicit quod And[rew ?]': the paper is rubbed away after 'And', and the word has been taken to be 'Auch' or even 'Auchē', see the facsimile in Lawson's edition (1910), where what seems the end of the signature is the word 'to' seen through the paper from the other side. The unique MS. of this poem, which is printed by Lawson in his edition of the Kingis Quair.

Fol. 229, A leaf bearing poems beginning 'My frende, gif thou will be a seruiture', 32 lines, and 'Thy begyning is barane brutelness', 14 lines: and the first part (12 lines, imperfect) of another, beginning 'Man be als mery as tho ...'. Fol. 230 also bears some imperfect poems, beginning '... a horse of gold yow go'. On fol. 231 is also a poem beginning 'O Lady I shall me dres with besy cure'. Fol. 229 appears to be in the first hand of the MS., the rest early 16th cent.

Facsimiles of fols. 192r, 211r, 221v, 228v are in Lawson's edition, and of fols. 192r., 211r in Skeat's 1911 edition, of the Kingis Quair, and one of fol. 41v in R. K. Root's MSS. of Chaucer's Troilus, pl. xxii. A full description of the contents of the MS. is in Brown's Authorship at p. 70, and in E. P. Hammond's Chaucer (1908), p. 342.

There are many scribblings and autographs. Five are of the family of Sinclair, see above, on fols. 79, 230v, 231, 231v. There are two lines in Gaelic on fol. 231v signed 'Misi Domnall Gorm': the name recurs on fol. 230v. 'Channois, 1592' is on the same page. Two Findlason signatures are on fol. 229 and one on fol. 230v: 'Patrik Schiner' on fol. 230v: 'John Duncan' on fol. 229: 'Edward Walker' on fol. 155: farm notes on fol. 229v: see more in Brown's Authorship, p. 77: all 16th cent. early or late.


  • Creation: Written in two (or three) hands late in the 15th century by Scottish scribes, see below


233 Leaves

Language of Materials

  • English

Conditions Governing Access

To ensure its availability to future readers, access to this item is restricted, and readers are asked to work from reproductions and published descriptions as far as possible.

Please place your request via Medieval Manuscripts in Oxford Libraries.


MS. Arch. Selden B. 24


Old Selden mark = B. 24

Other Finding Aids

Falconer Madan, et al., A summary catalogue of western manuscripts in the Bodleian Library at Oxford which have not hitherto been catalogued in the Quarto series (7 vols. in 8 [vol. II in 2 parts], Oxford, 1895-1953; reprinted, with corrections in vols. I and VII, Munich, 1980), vol. II, no. 3354

Custodial History

Manuscript 3368 acquired by the Bodleian Library

Existence and Location of Copies

Partial digital surrogate available in Digital Bodleian. Microfilm surrogate at R.Films.101.


Boffey, Julia, and A.S.G. Edwards, The works of Geoffrey Chaucer and The kingis quair: a facsimile of Bodleian Library, Oxford, MS Arch. Selden. B. 24 (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 1995).

Physical Facet

On paper, with a miniature, illuminated borders, capitals, etc.


10 5/8 × 7 1/4 in.

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom