British Library MS Additional 59495: The Trentham Manuscript

British Library MS Additional 59495, known to early editors and modern Gower scholars alike as the Trentham Manuscript, is extraordinarily important to the study of Gower, given both its provenance and its contents. The manuscript consists exclusively of Gower’s works, including the only extant copies of In Praise of Peace and the Cinkante Balades. For an excellent brief summary of the manuscript see Michael Livingston’s introduction to the TEAMS edition of John Gower: The Minor Latin Works with ‘In Praise of Peace’.

Contents (from Livingston’s Introduction):

  1. Fols. 5r-10v: The English poem In Praise of Peace (the unique copy).
  2. Fols. 10v-11r: The Latin poem Rex celi deus.
  3. Fols. 11v-12v: Two French balades that bookend a Latin poem combining O recolende and H. aquile pullus. Macaulay (1.335-37) refers to this sequence as the “Dedication” to the Cinkante Balades and prints it as such (a unique combination).
  4. Fols. 12v-33r: The French sequence Cinkante Balades (the unique copy).
  5. Fol. 33v: The Latin poem Ecce patet tensus, which ends imperfectly due to a missing folio (the unique copy).
  6. Fols. 34r-39r: The French sequence Traitié pour ensampler les amantz marietz, which begins imperfectly due to a missing folio.
  7. Fol. 39v: The Latin poem Quicquid homo scribat (in a unique version), which appears to have been a later addition to the manuscript.


The John Gower Society would like to thank the British Library for generously allowing the Society to host these images. The John Gower Society would also like to thank Dr. Candace Barrington for supplying the digitized microfilm images of the manuscript.

This work (MS Add 59495 – John Gower’s Trentham MS, from the collections of: THE BRITISH LIBRARY), identified by International John Gower Society, is free of known copyright restrictions.

British Library MS Additional 59495




Cover and Prefatory Materials

In Praise of Peace (5r-10r) & Rex celi deus (10v-11r)

Cinkante Balades (11v-33r)

Ecce patet tensus (33v); Traitié pour ensampler les amantz marietz (34r-39r); Quicquid homo scribat (39v-40r)