John Lydgate's Fall of Princes
John Lydgate's Fall of Princes
John Lydgate, a monk of Bury St. Edmunds, wrote the Fall of Princes for his patron, Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, between 1431 and 1438-9. The Fall is an adaptation of Laurent de Premierfait’s 1409 translation of Giovanni Boccaccio’s De casibus virorum illustrium, an account of the falls of great men throughout history. Spanning nine books and 36,365 lines of verse, it is Lydgate’s longest work. Its length seems to have prompted many scholars to focus more on the texts influenced by the Fall than on the Fall itself. Although it is an encyclopaedic work, Lydgate’s poem is also something of an undelved treasure trove, brimming with biblical, mythical, and historical characters.
The works listed below constitute an introductory bibliography to Lydgate and the Fall. Some of the primary texts, such as Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy, are helpful sources for those who wish to have a better understanding of medieval beliefs concerning Fortune, beliefs which were strongly influenced by the ancient text. Others, such as Cavendish’s Metrical Visions and the Mirror for Magistrates, are later texts in the English de casibus tradition. This bibliography is taken from my research for my Mphil dissertation, which focused on the more ‘political’ aspects of the Fall. Consequently, the bibliography as a whole is focused more on the historical and political contexts of the Fall rather than on its ‘moralising’ elements.
This bibliography has been provided by Mary Flannery at the University of Cambridge. Please see our Cambridge Contacts page for details regarding her research and for her contact information.
Posted 1 September 2004

Primary Sources
Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy, trans. and ed. by V.E. Watts (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1969; repr. 1987)
Cavendish, George, Metrical Visions, ed. by A.S.G. Edwards (Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press, 1980)
de Premierfait, Laurent, Laurent de Premierfait’s Des Cas des Nobles Hommes et Femmes, Book I, Translated from Boccaccio: A Critical Edition Based on Six Manuscripts, trans. and ed. by P.M. Gathercole, Studies in the Romance Languages and Literatures, 74 (1968)
Lydgate, John, Fall of Princes, ed. by Henry Bergen, 4 vols, EETS ES, 121, 122, 123, 124 (London: Oxford University Press, 1924-27)
Lydgate, John, ‘Of the Sodein Fal of Princes in Oure Dayes’, in The Minor Poems of John Lydgate, 2 vols, Part II: The Secular Poems, ed. by Henry Noble MacCracken, EETS OS, 192 (London: Oxford University Press, 1934), pp. 660-661
The Mirror for Magistrates, ed. by Lily B. Campbell (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1938; repr. New York: Barnes & Noble, Inc., 1970)
Theses and Dissertations
Mortimer, Nigel, ‘A Study of John Lydgate’s Fall of Princes in its Literary and Political Contexts’ (unpublished doctoral thesis, University of Oxford, 1995)
Secondary Sources
Budra, Paul, A Mirror for Magistrates and the De Casibus Tradition (London: University of Toronto Press, 2000)
Budra, Paul, ‘The Mirror for Magistrates and the Politics of Readership’, Studies in English Literature 1500-1900, 32 (1992), 1-13
Budra, Paul, ‘The Mirror for Magistrates and the Shape of De Casibus Tragedy’, English Studies: A Journal of English Language and Literature, 69 (1988), 303-312
Campbell, Lily B., Tudor Conceptions of History and Tragedy in A Mirror for Magistrates: Faculty Research Lecture at the University of California at Los Angeles, Delivered May 9, 1935 (Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 1936)
Dwyer, Richard A., ‘Arthur’s Stellification in the Fall of Princes’, Philological Quarterly, 57 (1978), 155-171
Ebin, Lois A., John Lydgate (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1985) Edwards, A.S.G., ‘The Influence of Lydgate’s Fall of Princes c. 1440-1559: A Survey’, Mediaeval Studies, 39 (1977), 424-439
Edwards, A.S.G., ‘A Lydgate Bibliography, 1928-1968’, Bulletin of Bibliography and Magazine Notes, 27 (1970), 95-98
Edwards, A.S.G., ‘Lydgate Manuscripts: Some Directions for Future Research’, in Manuscripts and Readers in Fifteenth-Century England: The Literary Implications of Manuscript Study (Essays from the 1981 Conference at the University of York), ed. by Derek Pearsall (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 1983), pp. 15-26
Edwards, A.S.G., ‘Selections from Lydgate’s Fall of Princes: A Checklist’, The Library, 5th s., 26 (1971), 337-342
Farnham, Willard, The Medieval Heritage of Elizabethan Tragedy (Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 1936; repr. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1970) Gathercole, P.M., ‘Lydgate’s Fall of Princes and the French Version of Boccaccio’s De casibus’, in Miscellanea di studi e ricerche sul Quattrocento francese, ed. by F. Simone (Torino: Giappichelli, 1967), pp. 167-178
Green, Richard Firth, Poets and Princepleasers: Literature and the English Court in the Late Middle Ages (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1980)
Hammond, E.P., ‘Lydgate and Coluccio Salutati’, Modern Philology: A Journal Devoted to Research in Medieval and Modern Literature, 25 (1927), 49-57
Hammond, E.P., ‘Poet and Patron in the Fall of Princes: Lydgate and Humphrey Duke of Gloucester’, Anglia, 38 (1914), 121-136
Kelly, Henry Ansgar, Ideas and Forms of Tragedy from Aristotle to the Middle Ages (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993)
Kiefer, Frederick, Fortune and Elizabethan Tragedy (San Marino, California: Huntington Library, 1983)
Kiefer, Frederick, ‘Fortune and Providence in the Mirror for Magistrates’, Studies in Philology, 74 (1977), 146-164
Lawton, David, ‘Dullness and the Fifteenth Century’, ELH: A Journal of English LiteraryHistory, 54 (1987), 761-799
Lerer, Seth, Chaucer and his Readers: Imagining the Author in Late-Medieval England (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993)
Mortimer, Nigel, ‘Selections from Lydgate’s Fall of Princes: A Corrected Checklist’, The Library, 6th s., 17 (1995), 342-344
Pearsall, Derek, John Lydgate (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1970)
Perkins, Nicholas, ‘Representing Advice in Lydgate’, in The Lancastrian Court: Proceedings of the 2001 Harlaxton Symposium, Harlaxton Medieval Studies, n.s. 13, ed. by Jenny Stratford (Donington: Shaun Tyas, 2003), 173-191
Scanlon, Larry, Narrative, Authority, and Power: The Medieval Exemplum and the Chaucerian Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994)
Schirmer, Walter F., John Lydgate: A Study in the Culture of the XVth Century, trans. by Ann E. Keep (London: Methuen and Company Ltd., 1961)
Strohm, Paul, ‘Hoccleve, Lydgate and the Lancastrian Court’, in The Cambridge History of Medieval English Literature, ed. by David Wallace (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), pp. 640-661
Simpson, James, ‘Bulldozing the Middle Ages: The Case of John Lydgate’, New Medieval Literatures, 4 (2001), 213-242
Simpson, James, Reform and Cultural Revolution, The Oxford English Literary History, ed. by Jonathan Bate (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), II:1350-1547
Wright, Herbert G., Boccaccio in England from Chaucer to Tennyson (London: The Athlone Press, 1957)

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