The most significant facts about fifteenth-century poetry, from any point of view that is susceptible of historical analysis, are the great expansion in the production and copying of verse, and the increase in the number of roles it fulfils. The fifteenth century, whatever else, can guarantee bulk, and in this as in all things john Lydgate is its representative and its formative influence. As a professional man of letters over a period of some fifty years, ubiquitous monk of Bury, court-poet, official ‘orator’, laureate in all but name, he responded to every call, commission and occasion, whether for an epithalamion or an epic, a love-poem or a memento mori, an exposition of the Mass or a treatise for laundresses. The formal verse-tradition is characterised basically by the use of certain kinds of metre, namely the pentameter in couplet, rhyme royal and ballade stanza by the styles associated with those metres, and by the reverential acknowledgment accorded to Chaucer or Lydgate.