Manchester Digital Collections

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Middle English Manuscripts

Middle English Manuscripts

The Middle English manuscripts held at the John Rylands Library are of paramount importance to key subject areas, including literature, history, theology, linguistics and art history. They date from the mid-14th century to the beginning of the 16th. The manuscripts were originally digitised as part of a JISC (the Joint Information Systems Committee) funded project called In the Bigynnyng.

The selected manuscripts available in this digital collection include key works of medieval literature, such as the Canterbury Tales and John Lydgate‘s two major poems; the richly illuminated Troy Book and a deluxe copy of Fall of Princes. There are also several copies of the Brut chronicle the medieval history of England, ranging in date from the mid-14th century to the second half of the 15th.

Further notable works include numerous copies of the New Testament, translated into English by John Wycliffe the fourteenth-century radical and church reformer. Alongside these are other devotional texts meditating on the life of Christ and The Pricke of Conscience, a work traditionally attributed to the mystic Richard Rolle de Hampole.

Other highlights include a multi-language legal commonplace book and medical texts such as On Urines, plus a rare late 14th-century copy of the Forme of Cury (‘proper method of cookery’), a recipe book compiled by the master cook of Richard II.