Medieval literature research guide

This guide has been designed as a starting point for research involving the Medieval time period.

If you need help, please contact Ivana Niseteo, Liaison Librarian for English, French, French Programs (FASS), Humanities, Linguistics, and World Languages & Literatures at 778.782.6838 or or Ask a librarian.

Reference sources

Oxford Reference Online
Online versions of 100 general reference works plus material in language, science and medicine, humanities and social sciences, business, and professional areas.

Encyclopedia Britannica 
An all-purpose online encyclopedia, including an online atlas, dictionary, and select journal articles.

Reference sources are designed to help you find specific types of information quickly. For further tips and resources, see our Background reference sources page.

Encyclopedias and companions

Encyclopedia of medieval literature [print]

Cambridge companion to medieval women’s writing [print or online]

A companion to medieval English literature and culture, c. 1350- c.1500 [print]

companion to Malory [print]

A concise companion to Chaucer [print]

Literary Encyclopedia
An expanding global literary reference work written by over 2000 specialists from universities around the world, and currently provides more than 5100 authoritative profiles of authors, works and literary and historical topics.

Search for more by including the words encyclopedia OR dictionary OR handbook OR companion OR manual in your KEYWORD search (e.g. Chaucer AND companion)

Dictionaries and literary terms

Oxford English Dictionary
Covers words from across the English-speaking world. It also gives etymological analysis, variant spellings, and pronunciation using IPA.

Dictionary of Old English: A to G
Contains some 1319 headwords, as well as revised versions of the seven previously published versions

LEME: Lexicons of Early Modern English
Searches and displays word-entries from monolingual English dictionaries, bilingual lexicons, technical vocabularies, and other encyclopedic-lexical works, 1480-1702

Dictionary of Old English Web Corpus
Defines the vocabulary of the first centuries (600-1150 A.D.) of the English language.

The Oxford dictionary of literary terms

Concise Oxford dictionary of literary terms [print or online]

The Penguin dictionary of literary terms and literary theory [print]

The Bedford glossary of critical and literary terms [print]

A glossary of contemporary literary theory [print]

Classical myths and legends in the Middle Ages and Renaissance: a dictionary of allegorical meanings [print]


The Oxford Chronology of English literature [print]

The Hutchinson Chronology of world history

BBC History Timelines
Interactive timelines for topics in archaeology, British history and the World Wars.

Handbook of British chronology [print]

State Papers Online
When you login choose "Research Tools" and then click on the Chronologies link.

Many of the companion handbooks also include a Chronology section; check the catalogue record of each companion to confirm the inclusion of a chronology/timeline section.

Biographical information

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
An illustrated collection of 50,000 specially written biographies of the men and women who shaped all aspects of Britain's past, from the fourth century BC to the year 2000.

Dictionary of Literary Biography Complete Online
Biographical and critical essays on the lives, works, and careers of the world's most influential literary figures from all eras and genres.

Orlando: Women's Writing in the British Isles
Biographical and writing career entries on over a thousand writers, more than eight hundred and fifty of them British women. It also includes selected non-British or international women writers, and British and international men, whose writing was an important, sometimes a shaping, element in a particular writing climate.


Oxford Dictionary of Quotations

Roget's Thesaurus of the Bible [print]

The Figurative language of the tragedies of Shakespeare's chief 16th-century contemporaries [print]

Literary criticism

MLA International Bibliography
Contains scholarly articles on English literature, linguistics, language and folklore.

Literature Online
A searchable library of more than 350,000 works of English and American poetry, drama and prose, full-text literature journals, and other key criticism and reference resources.

Iter: Gateway to the Middle Ages and Renaissance
Index to Medieval and Renaissance journals and books.

Oxford Bibliographies Online
Online index to bibliographies in Renaissance and Reformation with a bibliographical essay on sources.

Literature Criticism Online
Full-text access to six major Gale literary criticism series, covering literature from 1400 to the present.

Project MUSE Search
Full-text access to the back files of Humanities and Social Science Journals; Good English Literature content.

Full-text access to the back files of Humanities and Social Science Journals; Good English Literature content. Note content in JSTOR is 3-5 years old.

Primary sources

Early English Books Online (EEBO)
A library of over 100,000 individual titles from 1473-1700. Online digital images are available for every page.

British Literary Manuscripts: Part 2: British Literary Manuscripts Online: Medieval & Renaissance
Offers students and researchers unprecedented online access to 565,000 pages of rare manuscripts from the Medieval and Early Modern periods, c.1100 to 1660. Researchers and students can explore online a rich tapestry of letters, poems, stories, plays, chronicles, religious writings and commonplace books through searchable catalogue records.

Digital Scriptorium
Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts [Columbia University]

Images and film

A repository of over one million digital images and related data.

Oxford Art Online
Reference resources on all aspects of visual arts. Sources include Grove Art Online, Oxford Companion to Western Art, Encyclopedia of Aesthetics & Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms.

British Printed Images to 1700
A digital library of prints and book illustrations from early modern Britain. It offers various resources aimed at furthering our knowledge and understanding of them.

Films on Demand (Canada): Humanities and Social Sciences
Streaming video of the Humanities and Social Sciences Collection of Films on Demand. Licensed for non-theatrical public performance on campus at Simon Fraser University.

For sound recordings and performances available on video/DVD at the library, search the SFU Catalogue for the title of the work, and limit to the appropriate material type using the drop-down menu to the right of the search box.

Related topics


The English stage: a history of drama and performance [print]

Annals of English drama, 975-1700 [print]

Cambridge companion to medieval English theatre [print or online]

DEEP: Database of Early English Playbooks
Contains early modern plays and playwrights with additional useful information, such as genre, dates of first publication and production.

Records of Early English Drama (REED): Patrons & Performances
Designed to include a wide range of data about professional performers on tour in the provinces – their patrons, the performance venues they used and the routes they took across the kingdom.


Handbook of European History, 1400-1600: late Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Reformation [print]

English historical facts, 1485-1603 [print]

Bibliography of British & Irish History
An authoritative guide to what has been written from the Roman period to the present day.

Historical Abstracts
Indexes journal articles, book reviews, dissertations on the history of the world outside of Canada & the United States.

British History Online 
Contains some of the core printed primary and secondary sources for the medieval and modern history of the British Isles.

Finding information on the history of Britain
SFU Library guide.


The Bible in English
A collection of 20 different versions of the English Bible from the tenth to the twentieth century, including 12 full Bibles, 5 New Testament texts, 2 versions of the Gospels only, and William Tyndale's translations of the Pentateuch, Jonah and the New Testament.

ATLA Religion Database
Indexes journal articles on all aspects of religion and theology, including church and religious history.

Further sources

Project Gutenberg
Provides access to over 33,000 downloadable e-books.

Oxford Text Archive
Develops, collects, catalogues and preserves electronic literary and linguistic resources for use in research, teaching and learning.

Perseus Digital Library Project - Renaissance Materials
Digital versions of primary and secondary sources in early modern English literature [Tufts University].

Representative Poetry Online
Includes 3,162 English poems by 500 poets from Caedmon, in the Old English period, to the work of living poets today. It is based on Representative Poetry, established by Professor W. J. Alexander of University College, University of Toronto.

Centre for Early Modern Studies
From Oxford University, a central forum for research, conferences and graduate study.

Voice of the Shuttle: Literature (In English)

The Labyrinth: Resources for Medieval Studies.
Over 50 classified headings at three levels. Some links lead to restricted text collections and may prove frustrating.

The Internet Medieval Sourcebook
Fordham University. Chief purpose is to provide or link to etexts. Section for full text includes a subsection for Literary Texts. Other features of interest: a guide to 200 films and new translations

The Catalogue of Digitized Medieval Manuscripts
Designed to enable users to find fully digitized manuscripts currently available on the web. A project of the UCLA Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.

Additional Sources for Medieval England
Online portal to many useful links for the study of the Medieval England.