by Joyce Coleman

The following chart and accompanying excel file reflects a compilation of known Dream of Nebuchadnezzar and Confession miniatures in extant copies of Gower’s Confessio Amantis. For a fuller discussion of these miniatures, and of illuminations in Gower manuscripts generally, see “Illuminations in Gower Manuscripts,” in The Routledge Research Companion to John Gower, edited by Ana Saez-Hidalgo, Brian Gastle, and R.F. Yeager, Routledge, 2017, pp. 117-131.


Regarding the dating of the mss:
I followed Derek Pearsall’s list of CA mss. (2004: 74-76), unless another scholar had convincingly (I felt) narrowed the date-range down more precisely. As Joel Fredell remarks: “placing manuscripts in chronological sequence remains a daunting challenge for Gower studies” (Fredell 2010: 248).

Manuscript Information

Cambridge, Pembroke Coll. 307

Date: Early 15th c. (James 1905: 273; Harris 1993: 11 [she says c. 1415]; Rand 2006: 43)
Recorded in chart as 1400-15.

“The manuscript … bears on three occasions the motto ‘sur tous autres’ and the signature of Jaquette de Luxembourg, the second wife of John, duke of Bedford.” (Harris 1989: 170)
“Bedford married Jaquetta in 1433; given the early fifteenth-century provenance of this ms., Bedford probably owned Pembroke 307 well before he married her.” (Fredell 1995: 86 n. 3)

Scribe: Petworth scribe. (Mooney and Stubbs 2013: 120)

Artist: Johannes follower. “Pächt correctly attributed to Johannes the ‘Confession’ miniature in [Bodl. 902] … and this scene was later copied in reverse by yet another Johannes follower in Cambridge, [Pembroke 307].” (Scott 1996, 2: 71)

Cambridge, St. Catherine’s Coll.

Date: Mid-15th c. (Pearsall 2004: 74)

Cambridge, St. John’s Coll. B.12

Date: 1st qtr 15th c. (Pearsall 2004: 74)

“Potential” illuminations: Three-line space left on f. 4v (ditto 3-line space at same point in Eg. 913): may be “vestiges of provision for a miniature in this position.” (Griffiths 1983: 176 n. 8)

Cambridge, University Library Dd.8.19

Date: Mid-15th c. (Pearsall 2004: 74)

Scribe: John Carpenter. (Mooney and Stubbs 2013: 96)

“Potential illuminations”:
“Spaces left for miniatures, f. 4v, f. 8v (the latter marked “hic Imago”), and perhaps also f. 1.” (Macaulay 1900: cl)
“A space was also left for an initial to Prol. 595. … presumably an illustration was intended at this point, though the position is unique amongst surviving manuscripts. On fol. 8v, before I 203, a space of 17 lines has been left in the text column; written in the space is the instruction ‘hic Imago.’” (Griffiths 1983: 176 n. 7)

Cambridge, University Library Mm.2.21

Date: 1st qtr 15th c. (Pearsall 2004: 74)

Hand A, ff. ff1-16v (quires 1-2), 17-32v (quires 3- 4), 41-64v (quires 6-8), 73-88v (quires 10-11), 97-136v (quires 13-17), 145-152v (quire 19), 161-176v (quires 21-22)
Hand B, ff. 33-40, 89-96, 137-144
Hand C, ff. ff 65-72v (quire 9)
Hand D, ff. ff153-160v (quire 20), 177-183v (quire 23) (; 5/16/14)

Cologny, Bodmer 178 (olim Keswick 121)

o Date: 1st qtr 15th c. (Pearsall 2004: 76)

o “Potential” illuminations: “… space left for miniatures on ff. 1 and 7.” (Macaulay 1900: clxi)

London, British Library Add. 12043

o Date: 1st qtr 15th c. (Pearsall 2004: 74)

o “Potential” illuminations: Ten leaves lost at beginning, up to and including 1: 786. (Macaulay 1900: cliv)

London, British Library Add. 22139

o Date: 3rd qtr 15th c. (Pearsall 2004: 74)

o Scribe: Two hands. (Harris 1993: 15 n. 38; Pearsall 2014,; 5/20/14)

o “Potential” illuminations: “On fol. 4r, 11 lines in the first column of text, following the Latin summary at Prol. 591, have been cut out of the manuscript (and later repaired). It seems probable that they originally contained a miniature.” (Griffiths 1983: 176 n. 4)
“An eleven-line section cut out of fol.4 before Prol.595 (fol.4ra) indicates the former presence of the Nebuchadnezzar miniature on fol.4r. …
“Book I (fol. 6vb) wants 199-3446 end; Book II (fol.8ra) wants 1-56.” (Pearsall 2014,; 5/20/14)

London, British Library Egerton 913

o Date: 1st qtr 15th c.  (Pearsall 2004: 74)

o Scribe:
Hand A (“possibly Thomas Hoccleve”), ff. 1-26v, 31-36v
Hand B, ff. 27-30v
Hand C, ff. 37-47v (end of the ms.)
(; 5/16/14)

o “Potential” illuminations: Three-line space left (at same point as in St. John’s B.12, f. 4v): may be “vestiges of provision for a miniature in this position.” (Griffiths 1983: 176 n. 8)

London, British Library Egerton 1991

o Date: 1st qtr 15th c.  (Pearsall 2004: 74)

o Scribe: Scribe D, identified by Mooney and Stubbs (2013: 38) as John Marchaunt.

o Artist: Miniatures “attributed to a follower of Herman Scheerre.” (Scott 1996: 2, 87; BL CIM)
The same artist as in Royal 8 G.iii. (Scott 1996: 2, 110)

o “Potential” illuminations:
“Two leaves lost, originally ff. 1 and 3, containing Prol. 1-134 and 454-594.” (Macaulay 1900: cxlvii)
“Removal of original leaves 1 and 4 probably indicates former presence of prefatory miniature and Nebuchadnezzar picture.” (Pearsall 2008: 26)
1. Note that Macaulay says the second lost folio is f. 3, and Pearsall says it’s f. 4. Given the line numbers cited by Macaulay, f. 4 is more likely: there seem to be c. 140 lines per folio, and 320 lines are missing. (The BL’s online Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts doesn’t give any information about missing folios in Egerton 1991.)
2. Re Pearsall’s suggestion of a possible prefatory miniature as well as a possible Neb. miniature: My chart shows only a possible Neb. miniature, which could have been on either of the lost folios. Folio 1 might have had an authorial picture, but that’s a rare option, and there are more convincing alternative explanations of the loss of f. 1: either just wear and tear, or removal for a decorated initial and page, without miniature.

London, British Library Harley 3869

o Date: 2nd qtr 15th c.  (Pearsall 2004: 76)

o Scribe: 2 scribes. (Pearsall,; 12/2/14)

London, British Library Royal 18 C.xxii

o Date: 1st qtr 15th c.  (Pearsall 2004: 74)

o Scribe: Delta. (Doyle and Parkes 1978: 178, 206-8)

o Artist: Scott says that Egerton 1991 and Royal 8 G.iii are by the same artist (Scott 1996: 2, 110), and also says that Egerton 1991 is “attributed to a follower of Herman Scheerre” (Scott 1996: 2, 87; BL CIM).

London, Society of Antiquaries 134

o Date: Mid-15th c.  (Pearsall 2004: 74)

o “Potential” illuminations: “At fol.34va, before Confessio Prol.595, there is left a 13-line space, presumably for the Nebuchadnezzar picture.” (; 12/2/14) [I’ve followed Griffiths, who puts this space in the box for “After summary at Prol. 591” (Griffiths 1983: 177)]

New York, Columbia University Lib. Plimpton 265

o Date: 1st qtr 15th c.  (Pearsall 2004: 75)

o Scribe: Scribe D, identified by Mooney and Stubbs (2013: 38) as John Marchaunt.

o “Potential” illuminations: “… following fol. 3 a portion of text from Prol. 984 – I 343 is missing, which could have contained a Confessor miniature in the same position as that in MS Bodley 294.” (Griffiths 1983: 170 n. 21)

New York, Pierpont Morgan Lib. M.125

o Date:
Sources give a wide range of possible dates:
Early 15th c. (Macaulay 1900: cxlvii)
c. 1420 (downloaded Morgan catalogue entry;; 5/25/14, p. 2)
1425-50. (; 5/25/14)
1st qtr 15th c.  (Pearsall 2004: 75)
I went with Pearsall, as being a safe bet.

o Scribe: Gower Scribe III. (; 12/1/14)
But note attribution to “a scribal hand closely resembling that of Scribe D (perhaps someone in his ciricle),” supported with a footnote reporting comments by A. I. Doyle and Linne R. Mooney. (Driver 2009: 75 and 75 n. 9)

o “Potential” illuminations: “Prol. lacks 1-341, 529-688.” (Emmerson 1999: 185)

New York, Pierpont Morgan Lib. M.126

o Date:
c. 1450 to c. 1470; probably c. 1470. (Scott 1996: 2, 322)
c. 1470. (; 5/25/14)

o Provenance: Elizabeth Woodville (queen to Edward IV)? (Driver 2009)

o Scribe: Ricardus Franciscus. (Scott 1996: 2, 323; Driver 2009)

o Artist: Scott guesses two artists, one of whom was “trained in the southern Low Countries (Flanders).” (Scott 1996: 2, 323-24)

New York, Pierpont Morgan Lib. M.690

o Date:
“Manuscripts whose borders are comparable in style to those in Vernon [the Vernon Ms., Bodl. Eng. Poet. a. 1] are: … Fairfax 3, … Pierpont Morgan M. 690 …” (Scott 1996: 2, 23). She dates Vernon: “After 1382, probably c. 1390-1400” (Scott 1996: 2, 19). Vernon Ms. page at Bodleian confirms date of “perhaps 1390-1400.” (; 12/17/14)
“Ms. written and illuminated in England at the end of the 14th century.” (; 5/16/14)

o Scribe: 2 hands. ( [2011]; 5/16/14)

o Artist: Carmelite-Lapworth Master?
Kathleen Scott, talking about Carmelite-Lapworth missal (BL Add. 29704-5). Hand A = Carmelite-Lapworth Master. She lists his other books: “The sole miniature in [M.690] may also be by Hand A; the only figure in the scene (a statue) is not easily comparable, but the marine-blue plants and ground, the background design and the border style suggest at least a common shop or training.” (Scott 1996: 2, 28)

o “Potential” illuminations: “Book I … Imperfect, lacking 3 leaves of MS from beginning of Book I, line 1. to line ‘Which in ye tale of troie I finde’ [CA 1:483].” (; 5/16/14)

Nottingham, WLC LM 8

o Date: 1st qtr 15th c. (Pearsall 2004: 75)

o “Potential” illuminations: “The text only begins at fol. 1ra/15, the blank space presumably reserved for a column-wide introductory painting, probably planned to illustrate Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, well-attested in this position in the MSS, but here never executed.” (; 5/16/14)
Spaces were also left throughout the ms. for initials that were not painted (Macaulay 1900: clvi;, so it is not impossible that the illustration, if completed, might have included a Confession scene in an initial.

Oxford, Bodleian Library, Bodley 294

o Date: Pearsall says 1st qtr 15th c. (Pearsall 2004: 75), but as the artist is Herman Scheerre, and he is thought to have left England by 1419 (Scott 1996: 2, 86), I set the date as 1400-19. Scott actually dates this ms. c. 1407, but does not say why (Scott 1996: 2, 87).

o Provenance: Owned by Humphrey of Gloucester. (Pächt and Alexander 1973: 3, 72)

o Scribe: Scribe D, identified by Mooney and Stubbs (2013: 38) as John Marchaunt.

o Artist: Herman Scheerre. (Pächt and Alexander 1973: 3, 72)

Oxford, Bodleian Library, Bodley 693

o Date:
“Three undated manuscripts of CA by JG, MSS. Bodley 294, 693, and 902, can be added to other books from workshops influenced by Herman Scheerre during the early years of the fifteenth century.” (Spriggs 1964: 193-94)
“15th century, beginning.” (Bodl. Luna; 12/12/14)

o Scribe: Trevisa-Gower Scribe. ( [2011]; 5/16/14)

o Artist: “This early fifteenth-century copy … with miniatures in the style of Scheerre …” (Harris 1993: 174)

Oxford, Bodleian Library, Bodley 902

o Date: 1400-20. (Pächt and Alexander 1973: 3, 73; Macaulay 1900: cxxxviii [early 15th c.])

o Scribe: “John Marchaunt or Scribe D,” ff. 2-16v; Hand 2, ff. 17-184.  ( [2011]; 5/16/14)
Macaulay reports “three different hands.” (Macaulay 1900: cxxxviii)

o Artist: Johannes. (Pächt and Alexander 1973: 3, 73; Scott 1996: 2, 110)

o “Potential” illuminations: “The first leaf of the book is lost, and has been supplied in the sixteenth century from Berthelette’s second edition. … The first line of f. 2 is Prol. 144.” (Macaulay 1900: cxxxix)

Oxford, Bodleian Library, Fairfax 3

o Date: “s. xiv ex.” (Pearsall 2004: 76)

o Scribe: “The first leaf of the text, up to Prol. 146, is written in a second hand which has also written ff. 186-194, including the last lines of the Conf. Amantis from viii. 3147. A third hand (with very different orthography) has written viii. 2938-3146, being the last 29 lines of f. 41v (over an erasure) and the whole of f. 185, which is a leaf inserted in the place of one cut away (the last of quire 23).” (Macaulay 1900: clvii-clviii)

o Artist: A different artist for each of the two illuminations. One artist presumably did a Dream miniature on the original opening page (f. 2) as well as the Confession miniature on f. 8. When the original f. 2 was removed and replaced with a new folio with new text, a second artist must have been called in to paint a new Dream miniature. (That there was a Dream miniature on the first version of f. 2, or at least space for one, is indicated by the seamless fit of the “new” f. 2 text with the original and current f. 3 text.)

Oxford, Bodleian Library, Laud Misc. 609

o Date: 1st qtr 15th c. (Pearsall 2004: 75)

o Scribe: Trevisa-Gower Scribe. ( [2011]; 5/16/14)

o Artist: Pentecost Master.
“Further miniatures here attributed to the Pentecost Master are two in Bodleian Laud. Misc. 609.” (Scott 1996: 2, 94)

Oxford, Corpus Christi Coll. 67

o Date:
“On the basis of style (the limited range of colour, lack of green in sprays, and stiff, spare decorative motifs, Corpus 67 may be dated before c. 1410 and probably around 1405.” (Scott 1996: 2, 110)
“s.xv in. (Pearsall 2004: 75)

o Scribe: Scribe D, identified by Mooney and Stubbs (2013: 38) as John Marchaunt.

o Artist:
“Close in style to Herman Scheerre.” (Alexander and Temple 1985: 39)
“[A]lmost certainly illustrated in the workshop of the Big Bible [BL Royal 1 E.ix].” (Scott 1996: 2, 110)

Oxford, New College 266

o Date: I follow the date (“s.xv third quarter”) given in Pearsall’s List of Manuscripts (Pearsall 2004: 75). The online version of this list gives the date as the first quarter of the 15th century (; 11/30/14), but that is perhaps a typo. Macaulay and the Medieval Scribes website agree with the earlier date (Macaulay 1900: clx; [2011]; 5/16/14). However, Jonathan Alexander rejected Macaulay’s date as “too early” (Alexander 1972: 168 n. 26) and (based on the extensive illumination, which is very rare for an early fifteenth-century literary text), I agree.

o Artist: Jonathan Alexander offers a “doubtful attribution” of the pictures to William Abell: “Mutilated and defaced. The remaining miniatures are of uneven quality but some seem close to Abell’s early style. Their condition makes attribution difficult.” (Alexander 1972: 168)

o “Potential” illuminations:
“The first two leaves are damaged, and four leaves have been cut out, viz. the original f. 7 (Prol. 1066-i. 106). …” (Macaulay 1900: clx)
“The original fol. 7, including the end of the Prologue and the beginning of Bk. I, is also missing from New College MS. 266. Given that fewer lines of the poem are missing than are contained in a complete folio of text, it seems not impossible that fol. 7 once contained a miniature of the Lover and the Confessor.” (Braeger 1989: 298 n. 5)

o N.B.: “There is … now a space in MS 266 on folio 23 where the miniature of the Dream of Precious Metals has been cut out.” (Driver 2009: 76)
This is (or was) not the introductory Statue of Minerals dream but an illustration of Gower’s / Genius’ account of Nebuchadnezzar turned into a beast (at 1: 2785). By the manuscript’s current foliation, the hole where the image once was is on folio 32.

Philadelphia, Rosenbach Foundation 1083/29

o Date: mid-15th c. (Pearsall 2004: 75)
But note:
1st half 15th c. (Scott 2006: 148)
1400-25. ( [2011]; 5/16/14)

o Scribe: John Carpenter. (Mooney and Stubbs 2013: 93)

o Artist: Johannes follower.
Illustrator C of Brussels, Bibl. royale IV. 1095 “worked in the style of Johannes. … A figure in one of the better pictures by this hand … is comparable to a similar figure in the Philadelphia copy of Gower’s Confessio Amantis, whose two initials are probably by Illustrator C.” (Scott 1996: 2, 156)

Princeton, Princeton Univ., Firestone Lib., Taylor 5

o Date: 1st qtr 15th c. (Pearsall 2004: 75-76)
But note: “… probably pre-1399, altered early 15th c. but includes ‘dum vixit’ in the unusquisque on f191.” ( [2011]; 5/16/14)

o Scribe: “John Marchaunt or Scribe D,” Hands A and B. ( [2011]; 5/16/14)

Private collection, olim Marquess of Bute

o Date: 1st qtr 15th c. (Pearsall 2004: 75)

o “Potential” illuminations: “Most unusually the manuscript appears to make provision for illustration in two of the alternative positions in which the Confessor miniature is found. The first space of 12 lines is left at the foot of the second column of text on fol. 2r. The second space of 15 lines is left after the Latin verse heading in the first column of text on the next page, fol. 2v. It may be that the space on fol. 2r was not intended as provision for a miniature but was left simply because it was thought more appropriate to begin a new section of text, introduced by the Latin verse heading, at the head of a new column and page.” (Griffiths 1983: 176 n. 6)

San Marino, Huntington Lib. EL 26 A.17

o Date: Late 14th c. (Macaulay 1900: clii; Dutschke 1989, (; 5/25/14)

o Provenance:
“It seems probable … that the book was prepared for presentation to a member of the house of Lancaster, probably either John of Gaunt or [his son] Henry.” (Macaulay 1900: clii) Both possibilities reiterated in Dutschke 1989, (; 5/25/14.

o “Potential” illuminations:
“… on the leaf missing between ff. 5-6, there was presumably the usual second miniature of the Lover’s confession to Genius (since only 139 lines of text are lacking, instead of the normal 184 per folio).” (
17 leaves lost, including one containing Prol.: 1055 – 1: 106. (Macaulay 1900: clii) (Macaulay gives the missing folio containing these lines as f. 7, cf. Dutschke (website) saying that the folio that might have contained a Confession picture was between ff. 5-6. But that’s presumably because Macaulay counted missing folios into his pagination, while Dutschke did not. Since the original f. 1 is also missing, the folio where the picture might have been comes out as f. 7 for Macaulay.)


Works Cited



  • Alexander, Jonathan. 1972. “William Abell ‘lymnour’ and Fifteenth-Century English Illumination,” in Artur Rosenauer and Gerold Weber, eds., Kunsthistorische Forschungen: Otto Pächt zu seinem 70. Geburtstag. tk: Residenz Verlag, pp. 166-72.
  • Alexander, J.J.G., and Elźbieta Temple. 1985. Illuminated Manuscripts in Oxford College Libraries, the University Archives and the Taylor Institution. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  • Braeger, Peter C. 1989. “The Illustrations in New College MS. 266 for Gower’s Conversion Tales,” in R.F. Yeager, ed., John Gower: Recent Readings. SMC 26; Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, pp. 275-310.
  • Doyle, A.I., and M.B. Parkes. 1978. “The Production of Copies of the Canterbury Tales and the Confessio Amantis in the Early Fifteenth Century,” in Parkes and Andrew G. Watson, eds., Medieval Scribes, Manu­scripts and Libraries: Essays Presented to N.R. Ker. London: Scolar, pp. 163-210.
  • Driver, Martha. 2009. “Women Readers and Pierpont Morgan MS M. 126,” in Malte Urban, ed., John Gower: Manuscripts, Readers, Contexts. Disputation 13. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 71-107.
  • Emmerson, Richard. 1999. “Reading Gower in a Manuscript Culture: Latin and English in Illustrated Manuscripts of the Confessio Amantis,” Studies in the Age of Chaucer 21: 143-86.
  • Fredell, Joel. 1995. “Reading the Dream Miniature in the Confessio Amantis,” Medievalia et Humanistica n.s. 22: 61-93.
  • Fredell, Joel. 2010. “The Gower Manuscripts: Some Inconvenient Truths,” Viator 41: 231-50.
  • Griffiths, Jeremy. 1983. “Confessio Amantis: The Poem and Its Pictures,” in A.J. Minnis, ed., Gower’s “Confessio Amantis”: Re­sponses and Reassessments. Woodbridge: Brewer, pp. 163-78.
  • Harris, Kate. 1989. “Patrons, Buyers and Owners: The Evidence for Ownership and the Rôle of Book Owners in Book Production and the Book Trade,” in Jeremy Griffiths and Derek Pearsall, eds., Book Production and Publishing in Britain 1375-1475. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 163-200.
  • Harris, Kate. 1993. “Ownership and Readership: Studies in the Provenance of the Manuscripts of Gower’s Confessio Amantis,” Ph.D. dissertation, University of York. Downloadable at (6/14/14).
    James, Montague Rhodes. 1905. A Descriptive Catalogue of the Manuscripts in the Libray of Pembroke College, Cambridge. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Macaulay, G.C. 1900. “Introduction,” in John Gower, The English Works of John Gower, ed. Macaulay. EETS ES 81, v. 1; London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner, pp. vii-clxxiv.
  • Mooney, Linne R., and Estelle Stubbs. 2013. Scribes and the City: London Guildhall Clerks and the Dissemination of Middle English Literature 1375-1425. York: York Medieval Press.
  • Pächt, Otto, and J.J.G. Alexander. 1973. Illuminated Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library Oxford, vol. 3: British, Irish, and Icleandic Schools, with addenda to volumes 1 and 2. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  • Pearsall, Derek. 1994. “Hoccleve’s Regement of Princes: The Poetics of Royal Self-Representation,” Speculum 69: 386-410.
  • Pearsall, Derek. 2004. “The Manuscripts and Illustrations of Gower’s Work,” in Siân Echard, ed., A Companion to Gower. Cambridge: Brewer, pp. 73-97.
  • Pearsall, Derek. 2008. “Descriptive Catalogue of the Manuscripts of the Works of John Gower,” John Gower Newsletter 27, no. 2: 25-32. [Egerton 1991]
  • Rand, Kari Anne. 2006. The Index of Middle English Prose, Handlist XVIII: Manuscripts in the Library of Pembroke College, Cambridge, and the Fitzwilliam Museum. Cambridge: Brewer.
  • Scott, Kathleen L. 1996. Later Gothic Manuscripts 1390-1490: v. 1: Text and Illustrations; v. 2: Catalogue and Indexes. London: Harvey Miller.
  • Spriggs, Gereth M. 1964. “Unnoticed Bodleian Manuscripts Illuminated by Herman Scheerre and His School,”  Bodleian Library Record 7: 193-203.