BL Add. MS 10293, f. 302r: Lancelot playing chessIn this second installment of our holiday series of excerpts from William Caxton’s The Game and Playe of the Chesse, we hear about the layout of the chessboard and what it represents. We also look at some of the games that chess replaced in Europe, including the Roman ludus latrunculorum, the Celtic fidchell or gwyddbwyell, and the Norse tafl or hnefatafl. And finally, we consider different ways in which the board of a board game might be constituted.

Today’s Text


  • Eales, Richard. “Changing Cultures: The Reception of Chess into Western Europe in the Middle Ages.”  Ancient Board Games in Perspective: Papers from the 1990 British Museum Colloquium, With Additional Contributions, edited by I.L. Finkel, British Museum Press, 2007, pp. 162-168.
  • Murray, H.J.R. A History of Board-Games Other Than Chess. Clarendon Press, 1952.

Image: Detail of Lancelot receiving an enchanted chessboard from British Library Add. MS. 10293 f. 302r.