Transcript of the Alliterative Morte Arthure

Scope and Content

A transcript made by Sir Frederic Madden of a manuscript of the Alliterative Morte Arthure held in the library of Lincoln Cathedral. The transcript is written in ink on the recto side of each folio, with occasional notes on the text written in pencil on the versos. Just before the beginning of the text is a page of notes written by Madden in pencil. The manuscript also includes two separate tracings, one of script, the other of a picture.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Alliterative Morte Arthure is one of the most important surviving Middle English romances. Its subject matter is King Arthur's military campaign against the Emperor Lucius and his eventual coronation as Emperor. It relies heavily on Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regnum Brittanniae as a source, following closely Geoffrey's account of Arthur's war with Rome, Gawain's prowess in battle and Mordred's final treachery. The original author and date of the work are not known, but watermark evidence indicates that the only surviving manuscript, held at Lincoln Cathedral, was made at some time between 1420 and 1450. The scribe of this manuscript was probably one Robert of Thornton, lord of East Newton in Yorkshire, and a transcriber of other surviving manuscripts held at the British Library.

Location of Originals

The original manuscript is MS No. 91 (4) in the manuscript collection of Lincoln Cathedral Library (GB 1749).


Valerie Krishna (ed.), The alliterative Morte Arthure: a critical edition (New York: Burt Franklin, 1976).