Versus de scachis

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Cod. Einsidlensis 319, p. 298

Versus de scachis is the title given to a Medieval Latin poem about chess. It is found on two manuscripts from Einsiedeln Abbey Library (ms. numbers 365 and 319), dated to about AD 1000. If this date is accurate it makes the work the earliest known reference to chess in a European text, the next younger reference to the game being in Ruodlieb, a work dated to the second quarter of the 11th century. The title of versus de scachis is from ms. 365. The text in ms. 319 is incomplete, and entitled de aleae ratione.

The poem most likely dates to the 10th century. Gamer (1954) argues that the text in ms. 365 might date to shortly before AD 1000, and the one in ms. 319 dates to about the same time, or possibly to a few years after AD 1000.

See also[edit]


  • Hermann Hagen (1877). Carmina medii aevi maximam partem inedita, Bern, pp. 137–141.
  • H. J. R. Murray (1913). A History of Chess, (Oxford University Press)
  • Helena M. Gamer, "The Earliest Evidence of Chess in Western Literature: The Einsiedeln Verses," Speculum, Vol. 29, No. 4. (October 1954), pp. 734–750.