It should perhaps be made clear at the outset that this chapter is chronological neither in position nor progression. It is a convenient assumption that poets write love-songs in their youth and religious poems in their old age, and a poet, like Chaucer in his Retraction, would try dutifully to live up to it. But obviously it will not apply to Lydgate, who was producing religious poems of one kind or another throughout his active life. Such of them as we can date come from both the earliest (Life of Our Lady) and the latest (St. Albon) phases of Lydgate’s poetic career, and even in the middle of a major translation he would make time to compose a poem like the powerful anti-Lollard Defence of Holy Church, 1 or St. Edmund. It would also be difficult to make any general statements about chronology on the basis of stylistic development, and quite mistaken, for instance, to attribute the more elaborate ‘aureate’ poems to a later date rather than an earlier. On the whole, it will be best to treat the religious poems as a homogeneous body of writing, by types, referring to the circumstances of composition only when there is specific evidence.