Welcome to the Online Database of the Middle English Verse Romances.
Middle English romance was the principal form of secular literature in later medieval England. More than eighty verse romances (metrical and alliterative), composed between c.1225 and c.1500, survive, often in multiple manuscript versions and, later, in early modern prints. The single most important literary legacy of the English Middle Ages - the ancestor of the modern novel as well as almost all contemporary popular fiction, in print and on screen - the Middle English romances provide us with a provocative insight into the medieval imaginary and they repeatedly challenge our assumptions about medieval English culture and its preoccupations.
The Database of Middle English Romance seeks to make this rich body of literature more readily accessible to the modern reader, both academic and lay. Key information, including (where known) date and place of composition, verse form, authorship and sources, extant manuscripts and early modern prints, is provided for each romance, as is a full list of modern editions, and a plot summary designed to allow readers to negotiate more easily the extraordinary diversity of the genre. There are direct links to all of the modern editions that are available online. The database is searchable by manuscript, by a set of fifty 'key words' (representing common motifs and topics found in more than one romance), by verse form, and by plot summary.