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Title: Scenes and Characters of the Middle Ages - Third Edition
Author: Cutts, Edward Lewes, 1824-1901
Language: English
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[Illustration: _King Henry the Eighth's Army._]




Late Hon. Sec. of the Essex Archæolocical Society

With One Hundred and Eighty-Two Illustrations


London: Alexander Moring Limited
The De La More Press 32 George Street
Hanover Square W 1911



  CHAP.                                                           PAGE

     I. THE ORIGIN OF MONACHISM                                      1

    II. THE BENEDICTINE ORDERS                                       6

   III. THE AUGUSTINIAN ORDER                                       18

    IV. THE MILITARY ORDERS                                         26

     V. THE ORDERS OF FRIARS                                        36

    VI. THE CONVENT                                                 54

   VII. THE MONASTERY                                               70


     I. THE HERMITS                                                 93

    II. ANCHORESSES, OR FEMALE RECLUSES                            120

   III. ANCHORAGES                                                 132

    IV. CONSECRATED WIDOWS                                         152


     I. PILGRIMS                                                   157



     I. THE PAROCHIAL CLERGY                                       195

    II. CLERKS IN MINOR ORDERS                                     214

   III. THE PARISH PRIEST                                          222

    IV. CLERICAL COSTUME                                           232

     V. PARSONAGE HOUSES                                           252


     I.                                                            267

    II. SACRED MUSIC                                               284

   III. GUILDS OF MINSTRELS                                        298


     I. SAXON ARMS AND ARMOUR                                      311


   III. ARMOUR OF THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY                           338

    IV. THE DAYS OF CHIVALRY                                       353

     V. KNIGHTS-ERRANT                                             369

    VI. MILITARY ENGINES                                           380

   VII. ARMOUR OF THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY                            394

  VIII. THE KNIGHT'S EDUCATION                                     406

    IX. ON TOURNAMENTS                                             423

     X. MEDIÆVAL BOWMEN                                            439

    XI. FIFTEENTH CENTURY AND LATER ARMOUR                         452


     I. BEGINNINGS OF BRITISH COMMERCE                             461

    II. THE NAVY                                                   475


    IV. MEDIÆVAL TRADE                                             503

     V. COSTUME                                                    518

    VI. MEDIÆVAL TOWNS                                             529




We do not aim in these chapters at writing general history, or systematic
treatises. Our business is to give a series of sketches of mediæval life
and mediæval characters, looked at especially from the artist's point of
view. And first we have to do with the monks of the Middle Ages. One
branch of this subject has already been treated in Mrs. Jameson's "Legends
of the Monastic Orders." This accomplished lady has very pleasingly
narrated the traditionary histories of the founders and saints of the
orders, which have furnished subjects for the greatest works of mediæval
art; and she has placed monachism before her readers in its noblest and
most poetical aspect. Our humbler task is to give a view of the familiar
daily life of ordinary monks in their monasteries, and of the way in which
they enter into the general life without the cloister;--such a sketch as
an art-student might wish to have who is about to study that picturesque
mediæval period of English history for subjects for his pencil. The
religious orders occupied so important a position in mediæval society,
that they cannot be overlooked by the historical student; and the flowing
black robe and severe intellectual features of the Benedictine monk, or
the coarse frock and sandalled feet of the mendicant friar, are too
characteristic and too effective, in contrast with the gleaming armour
and richly-coloured and embroidered robes of the sumptuous civil costumes
of the period, to be neglected by the artist. Such an art-student would
desire first to have a general sketch of the whole history of monachism,
as a necessary preliminary to the fuller study of any particular portion
of it. He would wish for a sketch of the internal economy of the cloister;
how the various buildings of a monastery were arranged; and what was the
daily routine of the life of its inmates. He would seek to know under what
circumstances these recluses mingled with the outer world. He would
require accurate particulars of costumes and the like antiquarian details,
that the accessories of his picture might be correct. And, if his monks
are to be anything better than representations of monkish habits hung upon
"lay figures," he must know what kind of men the Middle Age monks were
intellectually and morally. These particulars we proceed to supply as
fully as the space at our command will permit.

Monachism arose in Egypt. As early as the second century we read of men
and women who, attracted by the charms of a peaceful, contemplative life,
far away from the fierce, sensual, persecuting heathen world, betook
themselves to a life of solitary asceticism. The mountainous desert on the
east of the Nile valley was their favourite resort; there they lived in
little hermitages, rudely piled up of stones, or hollowed out of the
mountain side, or in the cells of the ancient Egyptian sepulchres, feeding
on pulse and herbs, and water from the neighbouring spring.

One of the frescoes in the Campo Santo, at Pisa, by Pietro Laurati,
engraved in Mrs. Jameson's "Legendary Art," gives a curious illustration
of this phase of the eremitical life. It gives us a panorama of the
desert, with the Nile in the foreground, and the rock caverns, and the
little hermitages built among the date-palms, and the hermits at their
ordinary occupations: here is one angling in the Nile, and another
dragging out a net; there is one sitting at the door of his cell shaping
wooden spoons. Here, again, we see them engaged in those mystical scenes
in which an over-wrought imagination pictured to them the temptations of
their senses in visible demon-shapes--beautiful to tempt or terrible to
affright; or materialised the spiritual joys of their minds in angelic or
divine visions: Anthony driving out with his staff the beautiful demon
from his cell, or rapt in ecstasy beneath the Divine apparition.[1] Such
pictures of the early hermits are not infrequent in mediæval art--one,
from a fifteenth century MS. Psalter in the British Museum (Domit. A.
xvii. f. 4 v), will be found in a subsequent chapter of this book.

We can picture to ourselves how it must have startled the refined
Græco-Egyptian world of Alexandria when occasionally some man, long lost
to society and forgotten by his friends, reappeared in the streets and
squares of the city, with attenuated limbs and mortified countenance, with
a dark hair-cloth tunic for his only clothing, with a reputation for
exalted sanctity and spiritual wisdom, and vague rumours of supernatural
revelations of the unseen world; like another John Baptist sent to preach
repentance to the luxurious citizens; or fetched, perhaps, by the
Alexandrian bishop to give to the church the weight of his testimony to
the ancient truth of some doctrine which began to be questioned in the

Such men, when they returned to the desert, were frequently accompanied by
numbers of others, whom the fame of their sanctity and the persuasion of
their preaching had induced to adopt the eremitical life. It is not to be
wondered at that these new converts should frequently build, or select,
their cells in the neighbourhood of that of the teacher whom they had
followed into the desert, and should continue to look up to him as their
spiritual guide. Gradually, this arrangement became systematised; a number
of separate cells, grouped round a common oratory, contained a community
of recluses who agreed to certain rules and to the guidance of a chosen
head; an enclosure wall was generally built around this group, and the
establishment was called a _laura_.

The transition from this arrangement of a group of anchorites occupying
the anchorages of a laura under a spiritual head, to that of a community
living together in one building under the rule of an abbot, was natural
and easy. The authorship of this coenobite system is attributed to St.
Anthony, who occupied a ruined castle in the Nile desert, with a community
of disciples, in the former half of the fourth century. The coenobitical
institution did not supersede the eremitical; both continued to flourish
together in every country of Christendom.[2]

The first written code of laws for the regulation of the lives of these
communities was drawn up by Pachomius, a disciple of Anthony's. Pachomius
is said to have peopled the island of Tabenne, in the Nile, with
coenobites, divided into monasteries, each of which had a superior, and a
dean to every ten monks; Pachomius himself being the general director of
the whole group of monasteries, which are said to have contained eleven
hundred monks. The monks of St. Anthony are represented in ancient Greek
pictures with a black or brown robe, and often with a tau cross of blue
upon the shoulder or breast.

St. Basil, afterwards bishop of Cesaræa, who died A.D. 378, introduced
monachism into Asia Minor, whence it spread over the East. He drew up a
code of laws founded upon the rule of Pachomius, which was the foundation
of all succeeding monastic institutions, and which is still the rule
followed by all the monasteries of the Greek Church. The rule of St. Basil
enjoins poverty, obedience, and chastity, and self-mortification. The
habit both of monks and nuns was, and still is, universally in the Greek
Church, a plain, coarse, black frock with a cowl, and a girdle of leather,
or cord. The monks went barefooted and barelegged, and wore the Eastern
tonsure, in which the hair is shaved in a crescent off the fore part of
the head, instead of the Western tonsure, in which it is shaved in a
circle off the crown. Hilarion is reputed to have introduced the Basilican
institution into Syria; St. Augustine into Africa; St. Martin of Tours
into France; St. Patrick into Ireland, in the fifth century.

The early history of the British Church is enveloped in thick obscurity,
but it seems to have derived its Christianity (indirectly perhaps) from an
Eastern source, and its monastic system was probably derived from that
established in France by St. Martin, the abbot-bishop of Tours. One
remarkable feature in it is the constant union of the abbatical and
episcopal offices; this conjunction, which was foreign to the usage of the
church in general, seems to have obtained all but universally in the
British, and subsequently in the English Church. The British monasteries
appear to have been very large; Bede tells us that there were no less than
two thousand one hundred monks in the monastic establishment of Bangor in
the sixth century, and there is reason to believe that the number is not
overstated. They appear to have been schools of learning. The vows do not
appear to have been perpetual; in the legends of the British saints we
constantly find that the monks quitted the cloister without scruple. The
legends lead us to imagine that a provost, steward, and deans, were the
officers under the abbot; answering, perhaps, to the prior, cellarer, and
deans of Benedictine institutions. The abbot-bishop, at least, was
sometimes a married man.



In the year 529 A.D., St. Benedict, an Italian of noble birth and great
reputation, introduced into his new monastery on Monte Cassino--a hill
between Rome and Naples--a new monastic rule. To the three vows of
obedience, poverty, and chastity, which formed the foundation of most of
the old rules, he added another, that of manual labour (for seven hours a
day), not only for self-support, but also as a duty to God and man.
Another important feature of his rule was that its vows were perpetual.
And his rule lays down a daily routine of monastic life in much greater
detail than the preceding rules appear to have done. The rule of St.
Benedict speedily became popular, the majority of the existing monasteries
embraced it; nearly all new monasteries for centuries afterwards adopted
it; and we are told, in proof of the universality of its acceptation, that
when Charlemagne caused inquiries to be made about the beginning of the
eighth century, no other monastic rule was found existing throughout his
wide dominions. The monasteries of the British Church, however, do not
appear to have embraced the new rule.

St. Augustine, the apostle of the Anglo-Saxons, was prior of the
Benedictine monastery which Gregory the Great had founded upon the Celian
Hill, and his forty missionaries were monks of the same house. It cannot
be doubted that they would introduce their order into those parts of
England over which their influence extended. But a large part of Saxon
England owed its Christianity to missionaries of the native church sent
forth from the great monastic institution at Iona and afterwards at
Lindisfarne, and these would doubtless introduce their own monastic
system. We find, in fact, that no uniform rule was observed by the Saxon
monasteries; some seem to have kept the rule of Basil, some the rule of
Benedict, and others seem to have modified the ancient rules, so as to
adapt them to their own circumstances and wishes. We are not surprised to
learn that under such circumstances some of the monasteries were lax in
their discipline; from Bede's accounts we gather that some of them were
only convents of secular clerks, bound by certain rules, and performing
divine offices daily, but enjoying all the privileges of other clerks, and
even sometimes being married. Indeed, in the eighth century the primitive
monastic discipline appears to have become very much relaxed, both in the
East and West, though the popular admiration and veneration of the monks
was not diminished.

In the illuminations of Anglo-Saxon MSS. of the ninth and tenth centuries,
we find the habits of the Saxon monks represented of different colours,
viz., white, black, dark brown, and grey.[3] In the early MS. Nero C. iv.,
in the British Museum, at f. 37, occurs a very clearly drawn group of
monks in white habits; another group occurs at f. 34, rather more stiffly
drawn, in which the margin of the hood and the sleeves is bordered with a
narrow edge of ornamental work.

About the middle of the ninth century, however, Archbishop Dunstan reduced
all the Saxon monasteries to the rule of St. Benedict; not without
opposition on the part of some of them, and not without rather peremptory
treatment on his part; and thus the Benedictine rule became universal in
the West. The habit of the Benedictines consisted of a white woollen
cassock, and over that an ample black gown and a black hood. We give here
an excellent representation of a Benedictine monk, from a book which
formerly belonged to St. Alban's Abbey, and now is preserved in the
British Museum (Nero D. vii. f. 81). The book is the official catalogue
which each monastery kept of those who had been benefactors to the house,
and who were thereby entitled to their grateful remembrance and their
prayers. In many cases the record of a benefaction is accompanied by an
illuminated portrait of the benefactor. In the present case, he is
represented as holding a golden tankard in one hand and an embroidered
cloth in the other, gifts which he made to the abbey, and for which he is
thus immortalised in their _Catalogus Benefactorum_. Other illustrations
of Benedictine monks, of early fourteenth century date, may be found in
the Add. MS. 17,687, at f. 3; again at f. 6, where a Benedictine is
preaching; and again at f. 34, where one is preaching to a group of nuns
of the same order; and at f. 41, where one is sitting writing at a desk
(as in the scriptorium, probably). Yet again in the MS. Royal 20 D. vii.,
is a picture of St. Benedict preaching to a group of his monks. A
considerable number of pictures of Benedictine monks, illustrating a
mediæval legend of which they are the subject, occur in the lower margin
of the MS. Royal 10 E. iv., which is of late thirteenth or early
fourteenth century date. A drawing of Abbot Islip of Westminster, who died
A.D. 1532, is given in the "Vetusta Monumenta," vol. iv. Pl. xvi. In
working and travelling they wore over the cossack a black sleeveless tunic
of shorter and less ample dimensions.

[Illustration: _Benedictine Monk._]

The female houses of the order had the same regulations as those of the
monks; their costume too was the same, a white under garment, a black gown
and black veil, with a white wimple around the face and neck. They had in
England, at the dissolution of the monasteries, one hundred and twelve
monasteries and seventy-four nunneries.[4] For illustration of an abbess
see the fifteenth century MS. Royal 16 F. ii. at f. 137.

The Benedictine rule was all but universal in the West for four centuries;
but during this period its observance gradually became relaxed. We cannot
be surprised if it was found that the seven hours of manual labour which
the rule required occupied time which might better be devoted to the
learned studies for which the Benedictines were then, as they have always
been, distinguished. We should have anticipated that the excessive
abstinence, and many other of the mechanical observances of the rule,
would soon be found to have little real utility when simply enforced by a
rule, and not practised willingly for the sake of self-discipline. We are
not therefore surprised, nor should we in these days attribute it as a
fault, that the obligation to labour appears to have been very generally
dispensed with, and some humane and sensible relaxations of the severe
ascetic discipline and dietary of the primitive rule to have been very
generally adopted. Nor will any one who has any experience of human nature
expect otherwise than that among so large a body of men--many of them
educated from childhood[5] to the monastic profession--there would be some
who were wholly unsuited for it, and some whose vices brought disgrace
upon it. The Benedictine monasteries, then, at the time of which we are
speaking, had become different from the poor retired communities of
self-denying ascetics which they were originally. Their general character
was, and continued throughout the Middle Ages to be, that of wealthy and
learned bodies; influential from their broad possessions, but still more
influential from the fact that nearly all the literature, and art, and
science of the period was to be found in their body. They were good
landlords to their tenants, good cultivators of their demesnes; great
patrons of architecture, and sculpture, and painting; educators of the
people in their schools; healers of the sick in their hospitals; great
almsgivers to the poor; freely hospitable to travellers; they continued
regular and constant in their religious services; but in housing,
clothing, and diet, they lived the life of temperate gentlemen rather than
of self-mortifying ascetics. Doubtless, as we have said, in some
monasteries there were evil men, whose vices brought disgrace upon their
calling; and there were some monasteries in which weak or wicked rulers
had allowed the evil to prevail. The quiet, unostentatious, every-day
virtues of such monastics as these were not such as to satisfy the
enthusiastical seeker after monastical perfection. Nor were they such as
to command the admiration of the unthinking and illiterate, who are always
more prone to reverence fanaticism than to appreciate the more sober
virtues, who are ever inclined to sneer at religious men and religious
bodies who have wealth, and are accustomed to attribute to a whole class
the vices of its disreputable members.

The popular disrepute into which the monastics had fallen through their
increased wealth, and their departure from primitive monastical austerity,
led, during the next two centuries, viz., from the beginning of the tenth
to the end of the eleventh, to a series of endeavours to revive the
primitive discipline. The history of all these attempts is very nearly
alike. Some young monk of enthusiastic disposition, disgusted with the
laxity or the vices of his brother monks, flies from the monastery, and
betakes himself to an eremitical life in a neighbouring forest or wild
mountain valley. Gradually a few men of like earnestness assemble round
him. He is at length induced to permit himself to be placed at their head
as their abbot, requires his followers to observe strictly the ancient
rule, and gives them a few other directions of still stricter life. The
new community gradually becomes famous for its virtues; the Pope's
sanction is obtained for it; its followers assume a distinctive dress and
name; and take their place as a new religious order. This is in brief the
history of the successive rise of the Clugniacs, the Carthusians, the
Cistercians, and the orders of Camaldoli and Vallombrosa and Grandmont;
they all sprang thus out of the Benedictine order, retaining the rule of
Benedict as the groundwork of their several systems. Their departures from
the Benedictine rule were comparatively few and trifling, and need not be
enumerated in such a sketch as this: they were in fact only reformed
Benedictines, and in a general classification may be included with the
parent order, to which these rivals imparted new tone and vigour.

The following account of the foundation of Clairvaux by St. Bernard will
illustrate these general remarks. It is true that the founding of
Clairvaux was not technically the founding of a new order, for it had been
founded fifteen years before in Citeaux; but St. Bernard was rightly
esteemed a second founder of the Cistercians, and his going forth from the
parent house to found the new establishment at Clairvaux was under
circumstances which make the narrative an excellent illustration of the

"Twelve monks and their abbot," says his life in the "Acta Sanctorum,"
"representing our Lord and his apostles, were assembled in the church.
Stephen placed a cross in Bernard's hands, who solemnly, at the head of
his small band, walked forth from Citeaux.... Bernard struck away to the
northward. For a distance of nearly ninety miles he kept this course,
passing up by the source of the Seine, by Chatillon, of school-day
memories, till he arrived at La Ferté, about equally distant between
Troyes and Chaumont, in the diocese of Langres, and situated on the river
Aube. About four miles beyond La Ferté was a deep valley opening to the
east. Thick umbrageous forests gave it a character of gloom and wildness;
but a gushing stream of limpid water which ran through it was sufficient
to redeem every disadvantage. In June, A.D. 1115, Bernard took up his
abode in the valley of Wormwood, as it was called, and began to look for
means of shelter and sustenance against the approaching winter. The rude
fabric which he and his monks raised with their own hands was long
preserved by the pious veneration of the Cistercians. It consisted of a
building covered by a single roof, under which chapel, dormitory, and
refectory were all included. Neither stone nor wood hid the bare earth,
which served for floor. Windows scarcely wider than a man's hand admitted
a feeble light. In this room the monks took their frugal meals of herbs
and water. Immediately above the refectory was the sleeping apartment. It
was reached by a ladder, and was, in truth, a sort of loft. Here were the
monks' beds, which were peculiar. They were made in the form of boxes or
bins of wooden planks, long and wide enough for a man to lie down in. A
small space, hewn out with an axe, allowed room for the sleeper to get in
or out. The inside was strewn with chaff, or dried leaves, which, with the
woodwork, seem to have been the only covering permitted.... The monks had
thus got a house over their heads; but they had very little else. They had
left Citeaux in June. Their journey had probably occupied them a
fortnight, their clearing, preparations, and building, perhaps two months;
and thus they would be near September when this portion of their labour
was accomplished. Autumn and winter were approaching, and they had no
store laid by. Their food during the summer had been a compound of leaves
intermixed with coarse grain. Beech-nuts and roots were to be their main
support during the winter. And now to the privations of insufficient food
was added the wearing out of their shoes and clothes. Their necessities
grew with the severity of the season, till at last even salt failed them;
and presently Bernard heard murmurs. He argued and exhorted; he spoke to
them of the fear and love of God, and strove to rouse their drooping
spirits by dwelling on the hopes of eternal life and Divine recompense.
Their sufferings made them deaf and indifferent to their abbot's words.
They would not remain in this valley of bitterness; they would return to
Citeaux. Bernard, seeing they had lost their trust in God, reproved them
no more; but himself sought in earnest prayer for release from their
difficulties. Presently a voice from heaven said, 'Arise, Bernard, thy
prayer is granted thee.' Upon which the monks said, 'What didst thou ask
of the Lord?' 'Wait, and ye shall see, ye of little faith,' was the reply;
and presently came a stranger who gave the abbot ten livres."

William of St. Thierry, the friend and biographer of St. Bernard,
describes the external aspect and the internal life of Clairvaux. We
extract it as a sketch of the highest type of monastic life, and as a
corrective of the revelations of corrupter life among the monks which find
illustration in these pages.

"At the first glance as you entered Clairvaux by descending the hill you
could see it was a temple of God; and the still, silent valley bespoke, in
the modest simplicity of its buildings, the unfeigned humility of Christ's
poor. Moreover, in this valley full of men, where no one was permitted to
be idle, where one and all were occupied with their allotted tasks, a
silence deep as that of night prevailed. The sounds of labour, or the
chants of the brethren in the choral service, were the only exceptions.
The order of this silence, and the fame that went forth of it, struck such
a reverence even into secular persons that they dreaded breaking it--I
will not say by idle or wicked conversation, but even by pertinent
remarks. The solitude, also, of the place--between dense forests in a
narrow gorge of neighbouring hills--in a certain sense recalled the cave
of our father St. Benedict, so that while they strove to imitate his life,
they also had some similarity to him in their habitation and
loneliness.... Although the monastery is situated in a valley, it has its
foundations on the holy hills, whose gates the Lord loveth more than all
the dwellings of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of it, because the
glorious and wonderful God therein worketh great marvels. There the insane
recover their reason, and although their outward man is worn away,
inwardly they are born again. There the proud are humbled, the rich are
made poor, and the poor have the Gospel preached to them, and the darkness
of sinners is changed into light. A large multitude of blessed poor from
the ends of the earth have there assembled, yet have they one heart and
one mind; justly, therefore, do all who dwell there rejoice with no empty
joy. They have the certain hope of perennial joy, of their ascension
heavenward already commenced. In Clairvaux they have found Jacob's ladder,
with angels upon it; some descending, who so provide for their bodies that
they faint not on the way; others ascending, who so rule their souls that
their bodies hereafter may be glorified with them.

"For my part, the more attentively I watch them day by day, the more do I
believe that they are perfect followers of Christ in all things. When they
pray and speak to God in spirit and in truth, by their friendly and quiet
speech to Him, as well as by their humbleness of demeanour, they are
plainly seen to be God's companions and friends. When, on the other hand,
they openly praise God with psalmody, how pure and fervent are their
minds, is shown by their posture of body in holy fear and reverence, while
by their careful pronunciation and modulation of the psalms, is shown how
sweet to their lips are the words of God--sweeter than honey to their
mouths. As I watch them, therefore, singing without fatigue from before
midnight to the dawn of day, with only a brief interval, they appear a
little less than the angels, but much more than men....

"As regards their manual labour, so patiently and placidly, with such
quiet countenances, in such sweet and holy order, do they perform all
things, that although they exercise themselves at many works, they never
seem moved or burdened in anything, whatever the labour may be. Whence it
is manifest that that Holy Spirit worketh in them who disposeth of all
things with sweetness, in whom they are refreshed, so that they rest even
in their toil. Many of them, I hear, are bishops and earls, and many
illustrious through their birth or knowledge; but now, by God's grace, all
acceptation of persons being dead among them, the greater any one thought
himself in the world, the more in this flock does he regard himself as
less than the least. I see them in the garden with hoes, in the meadows
with forks or rakes, in the fields with scythes, in the forest with axes.
To judge from their outward appearance, their tools, their bad and
disordered clothes, they appear a race of fools, without speech or sense.
But a true thought in my mind tells me that their life in Christ is hidden
in the heavens. Among them I see Godfrey of Peronne, Raynald of Picardy,
William of St. Omer, Walter of Lisle, all of whom I knew formerly in the
old man, whereof I now see no trace, by God's favour. I knew them proud
and puffed up; I see them walking humbly under the merciful hand of God."

The first of these reformed orders was the CLUGNIAC, so called because it
was founded, in the year 927, at Clugny, in Burgundy, by Odo the Abbot.
The Clugniacs formally abrogated the requirement of manual labour required
in the Benedictine rule, and professed to devote themselves more
sedulously to the cultivation of the mind. The order was first introduced
into England in the year 1077 A.D., at Lewes, in Sussex; but it never
became popular in England, and never had more than twenty houses here, and
they small ones, and nearly all of them founded before the reign of Henry
II. Until the fourteenth century they were all priories dependent on the
parent house of Clugny; though the prior of Lewes was the High
Chamberlain, and often the Vicar-general, of the Abbot of Clugny, and
exercised a supervision over the English houses of the order. The English
houses were all governed by foreigners, and contained more foreign than
English monks, and sent large portions of their surplus revenues to
Clugny. Hence they were often seized, during war between England and
France, as alien priories. But in the fourteenth century many of them were
made denizen, and Bermondsey was made an abbey, and they were all
discharged from subjection to the foreign abbeys. The Clugniacs retained
the Benedictine habit. At Cowfold Church, Sussex, still remains a
monumental brass of Thomas Nelond, who was prior of Lewes at his death, in
1433 A.D., in which he is represented in the habit of his order.[6]

[Illustration: _Carthusian Monk._]

In the year 1084 A.D., the CARTHUSIAN order was founded by St. Bruno, a
monk of Cologne, at Chartreux, near Grenoble. This was the most severe of
all the reformed Benedictine orders. To the strictest observance of the
rule of Benedict they added almost perpetual silence; flesh was forbidden
even to the sick; their food was confined to one meal of pulse, bread, and
water, daily. It is remarkable that this the strictest of all monastic
rules has, even to the present day, been but slightly modified; and that
the monks have never been accused of personally deviating from it. The
order was numerous on the Continent, but only nine houses of the order
were ever established in England. The principal of these was the
Charterhouse (Chartreux), in London, which, at the dissolution, was
rescued by Thomas Sutton to serve one at least of the purposes of its
original foundation--the training of youth in sound religious learning.
There were few nunneries of the order--none in England. The Carthusian
habit consisted of a white cassock and hood, over that a white
scapulary--a long piece of cloth which hangs down before and behind, and
is joined at the sides by a band of the same colour, about six inches
wide; unlike the other orders, they shaved the head entirely.

The representation of a Carthusian monk, on previous page, is reduced from
one of Hollar's well-known series of prints of monastic costumes. Another
illustration may be referred to in a fifteenth century book of Hours
(Add.), at f. 10, where one occurs in a group of religious, which includes
also a Benedictine and a Cistercian abbot, and others.

[Illustration: _Cistercian Monk._]

In 1098 A.D., arose the CISTERCIAN order. It took the name from Citeaux
(Latinised into Cistercium), the house in which the new order was founded
by Robert de Thierry. Stephen Harding, an Englishman, the third abbot,
brought the new order into some repute; but it is to the fame of St.
Bernard, who joined it in 1113 A.D., that the speedy and widespread
popularity of the new order is to be attributed. The order was introduced
into England at Waverly, in Surrey, in 1128 A.D. The Cistercians professed
to observe the rule of St. Benedict with rigid exactness, only that some
of the hours which were devoted by the Benedictines to reading and study,
the Cistercians devoted to manual labour. They affected a severe
simplicity; their houses were to be simple, with no lofty towers, no
carvings or representation of saints, except the crucifix; the furniture
and ornaments of their establishments were to be in keeping--chasubles of
fustian, candlesticks of iron, napkins of coarse cloth, the cross of wood,
and only the chalice might be of precious metal. The amount of manual
labour prevented the Cistercians from becoming a learned order, though
they did produce a few men distinguished in literature; they were
excellent farmers and horticulturists, and are said in early times to have
almost monopolised the wool trade of the kingdom. They changed the colour
of the Benedictine habit, wearing a white gown and hood over a white
cassock; when they went beyond the walls of the monastery they also wore a
black cloak. St. Bernard of Clairvaux is the great saint of the order.
They had seventy-five monasteries and twenty-six nunneries in England,
including some of the largest and finest in the kingdom.

The cut represents a group of Cistercian monks, from a MS. (Vitellius A.
13) in the British Museum. It shows some of them sitting with hands
crossed and concealed in their sleeves--an attitude which was considered
modest and respectful in the presence of superiors; some with the cowl
over the head. It will be observed that some are and some are not bearded.

[Illustration: _Group of Cistercian Monks._]

The Cistercian monk, whom we give in the opposite woodcut, is taken from
Hollar's plate.

Other reformed Benedictine orders which arose in the eleventh century,
viz., the order of CAMALDOLI, in 1027 A.D., and that of VALLOMBROSA, in
1073 A.D., did not extend to England. The order of the GRANDMONTINES had
one or two alien priories here.

The preceding orders differ among themselves, but the rule of Benedict is
the foundation of their discipline, and they are so far impressed with a
common character, and actuated by a common spirit, that we may consider
them all as forming the Benedictine family.



We come next to another great monastic family which is included under the
generic name of Augustinians. The Augustinians claim the great St.
Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, as their founder, and relate that he
established the monastic communities in Africa, and gave them a rule. That
he did patronise monachism in Africa we gather from his writings, but it
is not clear that he founded any distinct order; nor was any order called
after his name until the middle of the ninth century. About that time all
the various denominations of clergy who had not entered the ranks of
monachism--priests, canons, clerks, &c.--were incorporated by a decree of
Pope Leo III. and the Emperor Lothaire into one great order, and were
enjoined to observe the rule which was then known under the name of St.
Augustine, but which is said to have been really compiled by Ivo de
Chartres from the writings of St. Augustine. It was a much milder rule
than the Benedictine. The Augustinians were divided into Canons Secular
and Canons Regular.

The CANONS SECULAR OF ST. AUGUSTINE were in fact the clergy of cathedral
and collegiate churches, who lived in community on the monastic model;
their habit was a long black cassock (the parochial clergy did not then
universally wear black); over which, during divine service, they wore a
surplice and a fur tippet, called an _almuce_, and a four-square black
cap, called a _baret_; and at other times a black cloak and hood with a
leather girdle. According to their rule they might wear their beards, but
from the thirteenth century downwards we find them usually shaven. In the
Canon's Yeoman's tale, from which the following extract is taken, Chaucer
gives us a pen-and-ink sketch of a canon, from which it would seem that
even on a journey he wore the surplice and fur hood under the black

  "Ere we had ridden fully five mile,
   At Brighton under Blee us gan atake [overtake]
   A man that clothed was in clothes blake,
   And underneath he wered a surplice.

      *       *       *       *       *

   And in my hearte wondren I began
   What that he was, till that I understood
   How that his cloak was sewed to his hood,[7]
   For which when I had long avised me,
   I deemed him some chanon for to be.
   His hat hung at his back down by a lace."

The hat which hung behind may have been like that of the abbot in a
subsequent woodcut; but he wore his hood; and Chaucer, with his usual
humour and life-like portraiture, tells us how he had put a burdock leaf
under his hood because of the heat:--

  "A clote-leaf he had laid under his hood
   For sweat, and for to keep his head from heat."

Chaucer rightly classes the canons rather with priests than monks:--

                    "All be he monk or frere,
  Priest or chanon, or any other wight."

The canon whom we give in the wood-cut over-leaf, from one of Hollar's
plates, is in ordinary costume. An engraving of a semi-choir of canons in
their furred tippets from the MS. Domitian xvii, will be found in a
subsequent chapter on the Secular Clergy.

There are numerous existing monumental brasses in which the effigies of
canons are represented in choir costume, viz., surplice and amice, and
often with a cope over all; they are all bareheaded and shaven. We may
mention specially that of William Tannere, first master of Cobham College
(died 1418 A.D.), in Cobham Church, Kent, in which the almuce, with its
fringe of bell-shaped ornaments, over the surplice, is very distinctly
shown; it is fastened at the throat with a jewel. The effigy of Sir John
Stodeley, canon, in Over Winchendon Church, Bucks (died 1505), is in
ordinary costume, an under garment reaching to the heels, over that a
shorter black cassock, girded with a leather girdle, and over all a long
cloak and hood.

The CANONS REGULAR OF ST. AUGUSTINE were perhaps the least ascetic of the
monastic orders. Enyol de Provins, a minstrel (and afterwards a monk) of
the thirteenth century, says of them: "Among them one is well shod, well
clothed, and well fed. They go out when they like, mix with the world, and
talk at table." They were little known till the tenth or eleventh century,
and the general opinion is, that they were first introduced into England,
at Colchester, in the reign of Henry I., where the ruins of their church,
of Norman style, built of Roman bricks, still remain. Their habit was like
that of the secular canons--a long black cassock, cloak and hood, and
leather girdle, and four-square cap; they are distinguished from the
secular canons by not wearing the beard. According to Tanner, they had one
hundred and seventy-four houses in England--one hundred and fifty-eight
for monks, and sixteen for nuns; but the editors of the last edition of
the "Monasticon" have recovered the names of additional small houses,
which make up a total of two hundred and sixteen houses of the order.

[Illustration: _Canon of St. Augustine._]

The Augustinian order branches out into a number of denominations; indeed,
it is considered as the parent rule of all the monastic orders and
religious communities which are not included under the Benedictine order;
and retrospectively it is made to include all the distinguished recluses
and clerics before the institution of St. Benedict, from the fourth to the
sixth century.

The most important branch of the Regular Canons is the PREMONSTRATENSIAN,
founded by St. Norbert, a German nobleman, who died in 1134 A.D.; his
first house, in a barren spot in the valley of Coucy, in Picardy, called
Pré-montre, gave its name to the order. The rule was that of Augustine,
with a severe discipline superadded; the habit was a coarse black cassock,
with a white woollen cloak and a white four-square cap. Their abbots were
not to use any episcopal insignia. The Premonstratensian nuns were not to
sing in choir or church, and to pray in silence. They had only thirty-six
houses in England, of which Welbeck was the chief; but the order was very
popular on the Continent, and at length numbered one thousand abbeys and
five hundred nunneries.

Under this rule are also included the GILBERTINES, who were founded by a
Lincolnshire priest, Gilbert of Sempringham, in the year 1139 A.D. There
were twenty-six houses of the order, most of them in Lincolnshire and
Yorkshire; they were all priories dependent upon the house of Sempringham,
whose head, as prior-general, appointed the priors of the other houses,
and ruled absolutely the whole order. All the houses of this order were
double houses, that is, monks and nuns lived in the same enclosure, though
with a rigid separation between their two divisions. The monks followed
the Augustinian rule; the nuns followed the rule of the Cistercian nuns.
The habit was a black cassock, a white cloak, and hood lined with
lambskin. The "Monasticon" gives very effective representations (after
Hollar) of the Gilbertine monk and nun.

The NUNS OF FONTEVRAUD was another female order of Augustinians, of which
little is known. It was founded at Fontevraud in France, and three houses
of the order were established in England in the time of Henry II.; they
had monks and nuns within the same enclosure, and all subject to the rule
of an abbess.

The BONHOMMES were another small order of the Augustinian rule, of little
repute in England; they had only two houses here, which, however, were
reckoned among the greater abbeys, viz., Esserug in Bucks, and Edindon in

The female ORDER OF OUR SAVIOUR, or, as they are usually called, the
BRIGITTINES, were founded by St. Bridget of Sweden, in 1363 A.D. They
were introduced into England by Henry V., who built for them the once
glorious nunnery of Sion House. At the dissolution, the nuns fled to
Lisbon, where their successors still exist. Some of the relics and
vestments which they carried from Sion House have been carefully preserved
ever since, and are now in the possession of the Earl of Shrewsbury.[8]
Their habit was like that of the Benedictine nuns--a black tunic, white
wimple and veil, but is distinguished by a black band on the veil across
the forehead.

Other small offshoots of the great Augustinian tree were those which
observed the rule of St. Austin according to the regulations of St.
Nicholas of Arroasia, which had four houses here; and those which observed
the order of St. Victor, which had three houses.

We may refer the reader to two MS. illuminations of groups of religious
for further illustration of their costumes. One is in the beautiful
fourteenth century MS. of Froissart in the British Museum (Harl. 4,380, at
f. 18 v). It represents a dying pope surrounded by a group of
representative religious, cardinals, &c. Among them are one in a brown
beard, and with no appearance of tonsure (? a hermit); another in a white
scapular and hood (? a Carthusian); another in a black cloak and hood over
a white frock (? a Cistercian); another in a brown robe and hood,
tonsured. Again, in the MS. Tiberius B iii. article 3, f. 6, the text
speaks of "Convens of monkys, chanons and chartreus, celestynes, freres
and prestes, palmers, pylgreymys, hermytes, and reclus," and the
illuminator has illustrated it with a row of religious--first a
Benedictine abbot; then a canon with red cassock and almuce over surplice;
then a monk with white frock and white scapular banded at the sides, as in
Hollar's cut given above, is clearly the Carthusian; then comes a man in
brown, with a knotted girdle, holding a cross staff and a book, who is
perhaps a friar; then one in white surplice over red cassock, who is the
priest; then a hermit, in brown cloak over dark grey gown; and in the
background are partly seen two pilgrims and a monk. Other illustrations of
monks are frequent in the illuminated MSS.

The HOSPITALS of the Middle Ages deserve a more extended notice than we
can afford them here. Some were founded at places of pilgrimage and along
the high roads, for the entertainment of poor pilgrims and travellers.
Thus at St. Edmund's Bury there was St. John's Hospital, or God's House,
without the south gate; and St. Nicholas Hospital, without the east gate;
and St. Peter's Hospital, without the Risley gate; and St. Saviour's
Hospital, without the north gate--all founded and endowed by abbots of St.
Edmund. At Reading there was the Hospital of St. Mary Magdalene, for
twelve leprous persons and chaplains; and the Hospital of St. Lawrence,
for twenty-six poor people and for the entertainment of strangers and
pilgrims--both founded by abbots of Reading; one at the gate of Fountains
Abbey, for poor persons and travellers; one at Glastonbury, under the care
of the almoner, for poor and infirm persons; &c., &c. Indeed, they were
scattered so profusely up and down the country that the last edition of
the "Monasticon" enumerates no less than three hundred and seventy of
them. Those for the poor had usually a little chamber for each person, a
common hall in which they took their meals, a chapel in which they
attended daily service. They usually were under the care and government of
one or more clergymen; sometimes in large hospitals of a prior and
bretheren, who were Augustinian canons. The canons of some of these
hospitals had special statutes in addition to the general rules, and were
distinguished by some peculiarity of habit; for example, the canons of the
Hospital of St. John Baptist at Coventry wore a cross on the breast of
their black cassock, and a similar one on the shoulder of their cloak. The
poor people were also under a simple rule, and were regarded as part of
the community. The accompanying woodcut enables us to place a group of
them before the eye of the reader. It is from one of the initial letters
of the deed (Harl. 1,498) by which Henry VII. founded a fraternity of
thirteen poor men (thirteen was a favourite number for such hospitals) in
Westminster Abbey, who were to be under the governance of the monks, and
to repay the king's bounty by their prayers. The group represents the
abbot and some of the monks, and behind them some of the bedesmen, each of
whom has the royal badge--the rose and crown--on the shoulder of his
habit, and holds in his hand his rosary, the symbol of his prayers.
Happily some of these ancient foundations have continued to the present
day, and the brethren may be seen yet in coats of antique fashion, with a
cross or other badge on the sleeve. Examples of the architecture of the
buildings may be seen in the Bede Houses in Higham Ferrers Churchyard,
built by Archbishop Chechele in 1422; St. Thomas's Hospital, Northampton;
Wyston's Hospital, Leicester; Ford's Hospital, Coventry; the Alms Houses
at Sherborne; the Leicester Hospital at Warwick, &c. Mr. Turner, in the
"Domestic Architecture," says that there exists a complete chronological
series from the twelfth century downwards.

[Illustration: _Bedesmen. Temp. Hen. VII._]

Hospitals were also established for the treatment of the sick, of which
St. Bartholomew's Hospital is perhaps our most illustrious instance. It
was founded to be an infirmary for the sick and infirm poor, a lying-in
hospital for women--there were sisters on the hospital staff, and if the
women happened to die in hospital their children were taken care of till
seven years of age. The staff usually consisted of a community living
under monastic vows and rule, viz., a prior and a number of brethren who
were educated and trained to the treatment of sickness and disease, and
one or more of whom were also priests; a college, in short, of clerical
physicians and surgeons and hospital dressers, who devoted themselves to
the service of the sick poor as an act of religion, and had always in mind
our Lord's words, "Inasmuch as ye do it to one of the least of these my
brethren, ye do it unto me." In the still existing church of St.
Bartholomew's Hospital, in Smithfield, is a monument of the founder
"Rahere, first canon and prior," which is, however, of much later date,
probably of about 1410 A.D.; his recumbent effigy, and the kneeling
figures of two of his canons beside him, afford good authorities for
costume. They have been engraved in the "Vetusta Monumenta," vol. ii. Pl.

The building usually consisted of a great hall in which the sick lay, a
chapel for their worship, apartments for the hospital staff, and other
apartments for guests. We are not aware of any examples in England so
perfect as some which exist in other countries, and we shall therefore
borrow some foreign examples in illustration of the subject. The commonest
form of these hospitals seems to have been a great hall divided by pillars
into a centre and aisles, in which rows of beds were arranged; with a
chapel in a separate building at one end of the hall, and other buildings
irregularly disposed in a courtyard; as at the Hôtel Dieu of Chartres, a
building of 1153 A.D.,[9] and the Salle des Morts at Ourscamp.[10] At
Tonerre we find a modification of the above plan. The hospital is still a
vast hall, but is divided by timber partitions along the side walls into
little separate cells. Above these cells, against the side walls, and
projecting partly over the cells, are two galleries, along which the
attendants might walk and look down into the cells. At the east end of
this hall two bays were screened off for the chapel, so that they who were
able might go up into the chapel, and they who could not rise from their
beds could still take part in the service.[11] At Tartoine, near Laon la
Fère, is a hospital on a different plan: a hall, with cells on one side of
it, is placed on one side of a square courtyard, and the chapel and
lodgings for the brethren on another side of the court.[12]



We have already sketched the history of the rise of monachism in the
fourth century out of the groups of Egyptian eremites, and the rapid
spread of the institution, under the rule of Basil, over Christendom; the
adoption in the west of the new rule of Benedict in the sixth century; the
rise of the reformed orders of Benedictines in the tenth and eleventh
centuries; and the institution in the eleventh and twelfth centuries of a
new group of orders under the milder discipline of the Augustinian rule.
We come now to a class of monastics who are included under the Augustinian
rule, since that rule formed the basis of their discipline, but whose
striking features of difference from all other religious orders entitle
them to be reckoned as a distinct class, under the designation of the
Military Orders. When the history of the mendicant orders which arose in
the thirteenth century has been read, it will be seen that these military
orders had anticipated the active religious spirit which formed the
characteristic of the friars, as opposed to the contemplative religious
spirit of the monks. But that which peculiarly characterises the military
orders, is their adoption of the chivalrous crusading spirit of the age in
which they arose: they were half friars, half crusaders.

The order of the KNIGHTS OF THE TEMPLE was founded at Jerusalem in 1118
A.D., during the interval between the first and second crusades, and in
the reign of Baldwin I. Hugh de Payens, and eight other brave knights, in
the presence of the king and his barons, and in the hands of the
Patriarch, bound themselves into a fraternity which embraced the
fundamental monastic vows of obedience, poverty, and chastity; and, in
addition, as the special object of the fraternity, they undertook the task
of escorting the companies of pilgrims from the coast up to Jerusalem, and
thence on the usual tour to the Holy Places. For the open country was
perpetually exposed to the incursions of irregular bands of Saracen and
Turkish horsemen, and death or slavery was the fate which awaited any
caravan of helpless pilgrims whom the infidel descried as they swept over
the plains, or whom they could waylay in the mountain passes. The new
knights undertook besides to wage a continual war in defence of the Cross
against the infidel. The canons of the Temple at Jerusalem gave the new
fraternity a piece of ground adjoining the Temple for the site of their
home, and hence they took their name of Knights of the Temple; and they
gradually acquired dependent houses, which were in fact strong castles,
whose ruins may still be seen, in many a strong place in Palestine. Ten
years after, when Baldwin II. sent envoys to Europe to implore the aid of
the Christian powers in support of his kingdom against the Saracens, Hugh
de Payens was sent as one of the envoys. His order received the approval
of the Council of Troyes, and of Pope Eugene III., and the patronage of
St. Bernard, who became the great preacher of the second crusade; and when
Hugh de Payens returned to Palestine, he was at the head of three hundred
knights of the noblest houses of Europe, who had become members of the
order. Endowments, too, for their support flowed in abundantly; and
gradually the order established dependent houses on its estates in nearly
every country of Europe. The order was introduced into England in the
reign of King Stephen; at first its chief house, "the Temple,"[13] was on
the south side of Holborn, London, near Southampton Buildings; afterwards
it was removed to Fleet Street, where the establishment still remains,
long since converted to other uses; but the original church, with its
round nave, after the form of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at
Jerusalem,[14] still continues a monument of the wealth and grandeur of
the ancient knights. They had only five other houses in England, which
were called Preceptories, and were dependent upon the Temple in London.

The knights wore the usual armour of the period; but while other knights
wore the flowing surcoat of the twelfth or thirteenth centuries, or the
tight-fitting jupon of the fourteenth, or the tabard of the fifteenth, of
any colour which pleased their taste, and often embroidered with their
armorial bearings, the Knights of the Temple were distinguished by wearing
this portion of their equipment of white, with a red cross over the
breast; and over all a long flowing white mantle, with a red cross on the
shoulder; they also wore the monastic tonsure. In the early fourteenth
century MS. in the British Museum, Royal 1,696, at f. 335, is a
representation of Eracles, Prior at Jerusalem, the Prior of the Hospital,
and the Master of the Temple, sent to France to ask for succour. The
illumination shows us the King of France sitting on his throne, and before
him is standing a religious in mitre and crozier, who is no doubt Eracles,
and another in a peculiarly shaped black robe, with a cross patee on the
left shoulder, who is either Hugh de Payens the Templar, or Raymond de Puy
the Hospitaller, but which it is difficult to determine. Again, in the
fine fourteenth century MS., Nero E. 2, at f. 345 v, is a representation
of the trial of the Templars: there are three of them standing before the
Pope and the King of France, dressed in a grey tunic, and over that a
black mantle with a red cross on the left breast, and a pointed hood over
the shoulders. Folio 350 represents the Master of the Temple being burnt
to death in presence of the king and nobles. Again, in the fine MS. Royal
20, c. viii., of the time of our Richard II., at f. 42 and f. 48, are
representations of the same scenes. Folio 42 is a group of Templars
habited in long black coat, fitting close up to the neck, like the
ordinary civil robes of the time, with a pointed hood (like that with
which we are familiar in the portraits of Dante), with a cross patee on
the right shoulder; the hair is tonsured. At f. 45 is the burning of a
group of Templars (not tonsured), and at f. 48 the burning of the Master
of the Temple and another (tonsured). Their banner was of a black and
white striped cloth, called _beauseant_, which word they adopted as a
war-cry. The rule allowed three horses and a servant to each knight.
Married knights were admitted, but there were no sisters of the order. The
order was suppressed with circumstances of gross injustice and cruelty in
the fourteenth century, and the bulk of their estates was given to the
Hospitallers. The knight here given, from Hollar's plate, is a prior of
the order, in armour of the thirteenth century.

[Illustration: _A Knight Templar._]

The KNIGHTS OF ST. JOHN OF JERUSALEM, or the Knights Hospitallers,
originally were not a military order; they were founded about 1092 by the
merchants of Amalfi, in Italy, for the purpose of affording hospitality to
pilgrims in the Holy Land. Their chief house, which was called the
Hospital, was situated at Jerusalem, over against the Church of the Holy
Sepulchre; and they had independent hospitals in other places in the Holy
Land, which were frequented by the pilgrims. Their kindness to the sick
and wounded soldiers of the first crusade made them popular, and several
of the crusading princes endowed them with estates; while many of the
crusaders, instead of returning home, laid down their arms, and joined the
brotherhood of the Hospital. During this period of their history their
habit was a plain black robe, with a linen cross upon the left breast.

At length their endowments having become greater than the needs of their
hospitals required, and incited by the example of the Templars, a little
before established, Raymond de Puy, the then master of the hospital,
offered to King Baldwin II. to reconstruct the order on the model of the
Templars. From this time the two military orders formed a powerful
standing army for the defence of the kingdom of Jerusalem.

When Palestine was finally lost to the Christians, the Knights of St. John
passed into the Isle of Cyprus, afterwards to the Isle of Rhodes, and,
finally, to the Isle of Malta,[15] maintaining a constant warfare against
the infidel, and doing good service in checking the westward progress of
the Mohammedan arms. In the latter part of their history, and down to a
recent period, they conferred great benefits by checking the ravages of
the corsairs of North Africa on the commerce of the Mediterranean and the
coast towns of Southern Europe. They patrolled the sea in war-galleys,
rowed by galley-slaves, each of which carried a force of armed
soldiers--inferior brethren of the order, officered by its knights. They
are not even now extinct.

The order was first introduced into England in the reign of Henry I., at
Clerkenwell; which continued the principal house of the order in England,
and was styled the Hospital. The Hospitallers had also dependent houses,
called Commanderies, on many of their English estates, to the number of
fifty-three in all. The houses of the military knights in England were
only cells, erected on the estates with which they had been endowed, in
order to cultivate those estates for the support of the order, and to form
depôts for recruits; _i.e._ for novices, where they might be trained, not
in learning like Benedictines, or agriculture like Cistercians, or
preaching like Dominicans, but in piety and in military exercises. A plan
and elevation of the Commandery of Chabburn, Northumberland, are engraved
in Turner's "Domestic Architecture," vol. iii. p. 197. The superior of the
order in England sat in Parliament, and was accounted the first lay
baron. When on military duty the knights wore the ordinary armour of the
period, with a red surcoat marked with a white cross on the breast, and a
red mantle with a white cross on the shoulder. Some of their churches in
England possibly had circular naves, like the church of the Temple in
Jerusalem; out of the four "round churches," which remain, one belonged to
the Knights of the Hospital. The chapel at Chabburn is a rectangular
building. There were many sisters of the order, but only one house of them
in England.

One of two earlier representations of knights of the order may be noted
here. In a MS. in the Library at Ghent, of the date of our Edward IV., is
a picture of John Lonstrother, prior of the order; he wears a long
sleeveless gown over armour. It is engraved in the "Archælogia," xiii. 14.
The MS. Add. 18,143 in the British Museum is said in a note at the
beginning of the volume to have been the missal of Phillippe de Villiers
de l'Isle Adam, the famous Grand Master of the Order of St. John of
Jerusalem from 1521 to 1534. In the frontispiece is a portrait of the
Grand Master in a black robe lined with fur, and a cross patee on the
breast. On the opposite page is another portrait of him in a robe of
different fashion, with a cross rather differently shaped. The monument of
the last English Prior, Sir Thomas Tresham, in his robes as prior of the
order, still remains in Rushton Church, Northants. A fine portrait of a
Knight of Malta is in the National Gallery. The Hospitaller given on the
preceding page, from Hollar's plate, is a (not very good) representation
of one in the armour of the early part of the fourteenth century, with the
usual knight's _chapeau_, instead of the mail hood or the basinet, on his

[Illustration: _A Knight Hospitaller._]

It will be gathered from the authorities of the costume of the Knights of
the Temple and of the Hospital here noted, that when we picture to
ourselves the knights on duty in the Holy Land or elsewhere, it should be
in the armour of their period with the uniform surcoat of their order; but
when we desire to realise their appearance as they were to be ordinarily
seen, in chapel or refectory, or about their estates, or forming part of
any ordinary scene of English life, it must be in the long cassock-like
gown, with the cross on the shoulder, and the tonsured head, described in
the above authorities, which would make their appearance resemble that of
other religious persons.

Other military orders, which never extended to England, were the order of
TEUTONIC KNIGHTS, a fraternity similar to that of the Templars, but
consisting entirely of Germans; and the order of OUR LADY OF MERCY, a
Spanish knightly order in imitation of that of the Trinitarians.

One other order of religious--the TRINITARIANS--we have reserved for this
place, because while by their rule they are classed among the Augustinian
orders, the object of their foundation gives them an affinity with the
military orders, and their mode of pursuing that object makes their
organisation and life resemble that of friars. The moral interest of their
work, and its picturesque scenes and associations, lead us to give a
little larger space to them than we have been able to do to most of the
other orders. It is difficult for us to realise that the Mohammedan power
seemed at one time not unlikely to subjugate all Europe; and that after
their career of conquest had been arrested, the Mohammedan states of North
Africa continued for centuries to be a scourge to the commerce of Europe,
and a terror to the inhabitants of the coasts of the Mediterranean. They
scoured the Great Sea with their galleys, and captured ships; they made
descents on the coasts, and plundered towns and villages; and carried off
the captives into slavery, and retreated in safety with their booty, to
their African harbours. It is only within quite recent times that the last
of these strongholds was destroyed by an English fleet, and that the Greek
and Italian feluccas have ceased to fear the Algerine pirates. We have
already briefly stated how the Hospitallers, after their original service
was ended by the expulsion of the Christians from the Holy Land, settled
first at Cyprus, then at Rhodes, and did good service as a bulwark against
the Mohammedan progress; and lastly, as Knights of Malta, acted as the
police of the Mediterranean, and did their best to oppose the piracies of
the Corsairs. But in spite of the vigilance and prowess of the knights,
many a merchant ship was captured, many a fishing village was sacked, and
many captives, men, women, and children of all ranks of society, were
carried off into slavery; and their slavery was a cruel one, exaggerated
by the scorn and hatred bred of antagonism in race and religion, and made
ruthless by the recollection of ages of mutual injuries. The relations and
friends of the unhappy captives, where they were people of wealth and
influence, used every exertion to rescue those who were dear to them, and
their captors were ordinarily willing to set them to ransom; but hopeless
indeed was the lot of those--and they, of course, were the great
majority--who had no friends rich enough to help them.

The miserable fate of these helpless ones moved the compassion of some
Christ-like souls. John de Matha, born, in 1154, of noble parents in
Provence, with Felix de Valois, retired to a desert place, where, at the
foot of a little hill, a fountain of cold water issued forth; a white hart
was accustomed to resort to this fountain, and hence it had received the
name of Cervus Frigidus, represented in French by (or representing the
French?) Cerfroy. There, about A.D. 1197, these two good men--the Clarkson
and Wilberforce of their time--arranged the institution of a new Order for
the Redemption of Captives. The new order received the approval of the
Pope Innocent III., and took its place among the recognised orders of the
church. This Papal approval of their institution constituted an
authorisation from the head of the church to seek alms from all
Christendom in furtherance of their object. Their rules directed that
one-third of their income only should be reserved for their own
maintenance, one-third should be given to the poor, and one-third for the
special object of redeeming captives. The two philanthropists preached
throughout France, collecting alms, and recruiting men who were willing to
join them in their good work. In the first year they were able to send two
brethren to Africa, to negotiate the redemption of a hundred and
eighty-six Christian captives; next year, John himself went, and brought
back a thankful company of a hundred and ten; and on a third voyage, a
hundred and twenty more; and the order continued to flourish,[16] and
established a house of the order in Africa, as its agent with the infidel.
They were introduced into England by Sir William Lucy of Charlecote, on
his return from the Crusade; who built and endowed for them Thellesford
Priory in Warwickshire; and subsequently they had eleven other houses in
England. St. Rhadegunda was their tutelary saint. Their habit was white,
with a Greek cross of red and blue on the breast--the three colours being
taken to signify the three persons of the Holy Trinity, viz., the white,
the Eternal Father; the blue, which was the transverse limb of the cross,
the Son; and the red, the charity of the Holy Spirit.

The order were called TRINITARIANS, from their devotion to the Blessed
Trinity, all their houses being so dedicated, and hence the significance
of their badge; they were commonly called MATHURINS, after the name of
REDEMPTION OF CAPTIVES, from their object.

       *       *       *       *       *

Before turning from the monks to the friars, we must devote a brief
sentence to the ALIEN PRIORIES. These were cells of foreign abbeys,
founded upon estates which English proprietors had given to the foreign
houses. After the expenses of the establishment had been defrayed, the
surplus revenue, or a fixed sum in lieu of it, was remitted to the parent
house abroad. There were over one hundred and twenty of them when Edward
I., on the breaking out of the war with France, seized upon them, in
1285, as belonging to the enemy. Edward II. appears to have pursued the
same course; and, again, Edward III., in 1337. Henry IV. only reserved to
himself, in time of war, what these houses had been accustomed to pay to
the foreign abbeys in time of peace. But at length they were all dissolved
by act of Parliament in the second year of Henry V., and their possessions
were devoted for the most part to religious and charitable uses.



We have seen how for three centuries, from the beginning of the tenth to
the end of the twelfth, a series of religious orders arose, each aiming at
a more successful reproduction of the monastic ideal. The thirteenth
century saw the rise of a new class of religious orders, actuated by a
different principle from that of monachism. The principle of monachism, we
have said, was seclusion from mankind, and abstraction from worldly
affairs, for the sake of religious contemplation. To this end monasteries
were founded in the wilds, far from the abodes of men; and he who least
often suffered his feet or his thoughts to wander beyond the cloister was
so far the best monk. The principle which inspired the FRIARS was that of
devotion to the performance of active religious duties among mankind.
Their houses were built in or near the great towns; and to the majority of
the brethren the houses of the order were mere temporary resting-places,
from which they issued to make their journeys through town and country,
preaching in the parish churches, or from the steps of the market-crosses,
and carrying their ministrations to every castle and every cottage.

  "I speke of many hundred years ago,
   For now can no man see non elves mo;
   For now the great charity and prayers
   Of lymytours and other holy freres
   That serchen every land and every stream
   As thick as motis in the sunne-beam,
   Blessing halls, chambers, kitchens, and bowers,
   Cities and burghs, castles high and towers,
   Thorps and barns, shippons and dairies,
   This maketh that there been no fairies.
   For there as wont to walken was an elf,
   There walketh now the lymytour himself
   In undermeles and in morwenings,[17]
   And sayeth his matins and his holy things,
   As he goeth in his lymytacioun."--_Wife of Bath's Tale._

They were, in fact, home missionaries; and the zeal and earnestness of
their early efforts, falling upon times when such an agency was greatly
needed, produced very striking results. "Till the days of Martin Luther,"
says Sir James Stephen, "the church had never seen so great and effectual
a reform as theirs.... Nothing in the histories of Wesley or of Whitefield
can be compared with the enthusiasm which everywhere welcomed them, or
with the immediate visible result of their labours." In the character of
St. Francis, notwithstanding its superstition and exaggerated asceticism,
there is something specially attractive: in his intense sympathy with the
sorrows and sufferings of the poor, his tender and respectful love for
them as members of Christ, his heroic self-devotion to their service for
Christ's sake, in his vivid realisation of the truth that birds, beasts,
and fishes are God's creatures, and our fellow-creatures. In the work of
both Francis and Dominic there is much which is worth careful study at the
present day. Now, too, there is a mass of misery in our large towns huge
and horrible enough to kindle the Christ-like pity of another Francis; in
country as well as town there are ignorance and irreligion enough to call
forth the zeal of another Dominic. In our Sisters of Mercy we see among
women a wonderful rekindling of the old spirit of self-sacrifice, in a
shape adapted to our time; we need not despair of seeing the same spirit
rekindled among men, freed from the old superstitions and avoiding the old
blunders, and setting itself to combat the gigantic evils which threaten
to overwhelm both religion and social order.

Both these reformers took great pains to fit their followers for the
office of preachers and teachers, sending them in large numbers to the
universities, and founding colleges there for the reception of their
students. With an admirable largeness of view, they did not confine their
studies to theology, but cultivated the whole range of Science and Art,
and so successful were they, that in a short time the professional chairs
of the universities of Europe were almost monopolised by the learned
members of the mendicant orders.[18] The constitutions required that no
one should be licensed as a general preacher until he had studied theology
for three years; then a provincial or general chapter examined into his
character and learning; and, if these were satisfactory, gave him his
commission, either limiting his ministry to a certain district (whence he
was called in English a _limitour_, like Chaucer's Friar Hubert), or
allowing him to exercise it where he listed (when he was called a
_lister_). This authority to preach, and exercise other spiritual
functions, necessarily brought the friars into collision with the
parochial clergy;[19] and while a learned and good friar would do much
good in parishes which were cursed with an ignorant, or slothful, or
wicked pastor, on the other hand, the inferior class of friars are accused
of abusing their position by setting the people against their pastors
whose pulpits they usurped, and interfering injuriously with the
discipline of the parishes into which they intruded. For it was not very
long before the primitive purity and zeal of the mendicant orders began to
deteriorate. This was inevitable; zeal and goodness cannot be perpetuated
by a system; all human societies of superior pretensions gradually
deteriorate, even as the Apostolic Church itself did. But there were
peculiar circumstances in the system of the mendicant orders which tended
to induce rapid deterioration. The profession of mendicancy tended to
encourage the use of all those little paltry arts of popularity-hunting
which injure the usefulness of a minister of religion, and lower his moral
tone: the fact that an increased number of friars was a source of
additional wealth to a convent, since it gave an increased number of
collectors of alms for it, tended to make the convents less scrupulous as
to the fitness of the men whom they admitted. So that we can believe the
truth of the accusations of the old satirists, that dissolute,
good-for-nothing fellows sought the friar's frock and cowl, for the
license which it gave to lead a vagabond life, and levy contributions on
the charitable. Such men could easily appropriate to themselves a portion
of what was given them for the convent; and they had ample opportunity,
away from the control of their ecclesiastical superiors, to spend their
peculations in dissolute living.[20] We may take, therefore, Chaucer's
Friar John, of the Sompnour's Tale, as a type of a certain class of
friars; but we must remember that at the same time there were many
earnest, learned, and excellent men in the mendicant orders; even as
Mawworm and John Wesley might flourish together in the same body.

[Illustration: _Costumes of the Four Orders of Friars._]

The convents of friars were not independent bodies, like the Benedictine
and Augustinian abbeys; each order was an organised body, governed by the
general of the order, and under him, by provincial priors, priors of the
convents, and their subordinate officials. There are usually reckoned four
orders of friars--the Dominicans, Franciscans, Carmelites, and

  "I found there freres,
   All the foure orders,
   Techynge the peple
   To profit of themselves."
            _Piers Ploughman_, l. 115.

The four orders are pictured together in the woodcut on the preceding page
from the thirteenth century MS. Harl. 1,527.

They were called _Friars_ because, out of humility, their founders would
not have them called _Father_ and _Dominus_, like the monks, but simply
_Brother_ (_Frater, Frère, Friar_).

The DOMINICANS and FRANCISCANS arose simultaneously at the beginning of
the thirteenth century. Dominic, an Augustinian canon, a Spaniard of noble
birth, was seized with a zeal for converting heretics, and having
gradually associated a few ecclesiastics with himself, he at length
conceived the idea of founding an order of men who should spend their
lives in preaching. Simultaneously, Francis, the son of a rich Italian
merchant, was inspired with a design to establish a new order of men, who
should spend their lives in preaching the Gospel and doing works of
charity among the people. These two men met in Rome in the year 1216 A.D.,
and some attempt was made to induce them to unite their institutions in
one; but Francis was unwilling, and the Pope sanctioned both. Both adopted
the Augustinian rule, and both required not only that their followers
personally should have no property, but also that they should not possess
any property collectively as a body; their followers were to work for a
livelihood, or to live on alms. The two orders retained something of the
character of their founders: the Dominicans that of the learned,
energetic, dogmatic, and stern controversialist; they were defenders of
the orthodox faith, not only by argument, but by the terrors of the
Inquisition, which was in their hands; even as their master is, rightly
or wrongly, said to have sanctioned the cruelties which were used against
the Albigenses when his preaching had failed to convince them. The
Franciscans retained something of the character of the pious, ardent,
fanciful enthusiast from whom they took their name.

[Illustration: _S. Dominic and S. Francis._]

Dominic gave to his order the name of Preaching Friars; more commonly they
were styled Dominicans, or, from the colour of their habits, Black
Friars[21]--their habit consisting of a white tunic, fastened with a white
girdle, over that a white scapulary, and over all a black mantle and hood,
and shoes; the lay brethren wore a black scapulary.

The woodcut which we give on the preceding page of two friars, with their
names, DOMINIC and FRANCIS, inscribed over them, is taken from a
representation in a MS. of the end of the thirteenth century (Sloan 346),
of a legend of a vision of Dominic related in the "Legenda Aurea," in
which the Virgin Mary is deprecating the wrath of Christ, about to destroy
the world for its iniquity, and presenting to him Dominic and Francis,
with a promise that they will convert the world from its wickedness. The
next woodcut is from Hollar's print in the "Monasticon." An early
fifteenth century illustration of a Dominican friar, in black mantle and
brown hood over a white tunic, may be found on the last page of the
Harleian MS., 1,527. A fine picture of St. Dominic, by Mario Zoppo
(1471-98), in the National Gallery, shows the costume admirably; he stands
preaching, with book and rosary in his left hand. The Dominican nuns wore
the same dress with a white veil. They had, according to the last edition
of the "Monasticon," fifty-eight houses in England.

[Illustration: _A Dominican Friar._]

The Franciscans were styled by their founder Fratri Minori--lesser
brothers, Friars Minors; they were more usually called Grey Friars, from
the colour of their habits, or Cordeliers, from the knotted cord which
formed their characteristic girdle. Their habit was originally a grey
tunic with long loose sleeves (but not quite so loose as those of the
Benedictines), a knotted cord for a girdle, and a black hood; the feet
always bare, or only protected by sandals. In the fifteenth century the
colour of the habit was altered to a dark brown. The woodcut is from
Hollar's print. A picture of St. Francis, by Felippino Lippi (1460-1505),
in the National Gallery shows the costume very clearly. Piers Ploughman
describes the irregular indulgences in habit worn by less strict members
of the order:--

  "In cutting of his cope
   Is more cloth y-folden
   Than was in Frauncis' froc,
   When he them first made.
   And yet under that cope
   A coat hath he, furred
   With foyns or with fichews
   Or fur of beaver,
   And that is cut to the knee,
   And quaintly y-buttoned
   Lest any spiritual man
   Espie that guile.
   Fraunceys bad his brethren
   Barefoot to wenden.
   Now have they buckled shoon
   For blenying [blistering] of ther heels,
   And hosen in harde weather
   Y-hamled [tied] by the ancle."

A beautiful little picture of St. Francis receiving the stigmata may be
found in a Book of Offices of the end of the fourteenth century (Harl.
2,897, f. 407 v.). Another fifteenth-century picture of the same subject
is in a Book of Hours (Harl. 5,328, f. 123). Some fine sixteenth-century
authorities for Franciscan costumes are in the MS. life of St. Francis
(Harl. 3,229, f. 26). The principal picture represents St. Bonaventura, a
saint of the order, in a gorgeous cope over his brown frock and hood,
seated writing in his cell; through the open door is seen a corridor with
doors opening off it to other cells. In the corners of the page are other
pictures of St. Anthony of Padua, and St. Bernardine, and another saint,
and St. Clare, foundress of the female order of Franciscans. A very good
illumination of two Franciscans in grey frocks and hoods, girded with rope
and barefooted, will be found in the MS. Add. 17,687 of date 1498. The
Franciscan nuns, or Minoresses, or Poor Clares, as they were sometimes
called, from St. Clare, the patron saint and first nun of the order, wore
the same habit as the monks, only with a black veil instead of a hood. For
another illustration of minoresses see MS. Royal 1,696, f. 111, v. The
Franciscans were first introduced into England, at Canterbury, in the year
1223 A.D., and there were sixty-five houses of the order in England,
besides four of minoresses.

[Illustration: _A Franciscan Friar._]

While the Dominicans retained their unity of organisation to the last, the
Franciscans divided into several branches, under the names of Minorites,
Capuchins, Minims, Observants, Recollets, &c.

The CARMELITE FRIARS had their origin, as their name indicates, in the
East. According to their own traditions, ever since the days of Elijah,
whom they claim as their founder, the rocks of Carmel have been inhabited
by a succession of hermits, who have lived after the pattern of the great
prophet. Their institution as an order of friars, however, dates from the
beginning of the thirteenth century, when Albert, Patriarch of Jerusalem,
gave them a rule, founded upon, but more severe than, that of St. Basil;
and gave them a habit of white and red stripes, which, according to
tradition, was the fashion of the wonder-working mantle of their
prophet-founder. The order immediately spread into the West, and Pope
Honorius III. sanctioned it, and changed the habit to a white frock over a
dark brown tunic; and very soon after, the third general of the order, an
Englishman, Simon Stock, added the scapulary, of the same colour as the
tunic, by which they are to be distinguished from the Premonstratensian
canons, whose habit is the same, except that it wants the scapulary. From
the colour of the habit the popular English name for the Carmelites was
the White Friars. Sir John de Vesci, an English crusader, in the early
part of the thirteenth century, made the ascent of Mount Carmel, and
found these religious living there, claiming to be the successors of
Elijah. The romantic incident seems to have interested him, and he brought
back some of them to England, and thus introduced the order here, where it
became more popular than elsewhere in Europe, but it was never an
influential order. They had ultimately fifty houses in England.

[Illustration: _A Carmelite Friar._]

The AUSTIN FRIARS were founded in the middle of the thirteenth century.
There were still at that time some small communities which were not
enrolled among any of the great recognised orders, and a great number of
hermits and solitaries, who lived under no rule at all. Pope Innocent IV.
decreed that all these hermits, solitaries, and separate communities,
should be incorporated into a new order, under the rule of St. Augustine,
with some stricter clauses added, under the name of Ermiti Augustini,
Hermits of St. Augustine, or, as they were popularly called, Austin
Friars. Their exterior habit was a black gown with broad sleeves, girded
with a leather belt, and black cloth hood. There were forty-five houses of
them in England.

There were also some minor orders of friars, who do not need a detailed
description. The Crutched (crossed) Friars, so called because they had a
red cross on the back and breast of their blue habit, were introduced into
England in the middle of the thirteenth century, and had ten houses here.
The Friars de Poenitentiâ, or the Friars of the Sack, were introduced a
little later, and had nine houses. And there were six other friaries of
obscure orders. But all these minor mendicant orders--all except the four
great orders, the Franciscans, Dominicans, Augustinians, and
Carmelites--were suppressed by the Council of Lyons, A.D. 1370.

Chaucer lived in the latter half of the fourteenth century, when, after a
hundred and forty years' existence, the orders of friars, or at least many
individuals of the orders, had lost much of their primitive holiness and
zeal. His avowed purpose is to satirise their abuses; so that, while we
quote him largely for the life-like pictures of ancient customs and
manners which he gives us, we must make allowance for the exaggerations of
a satirist, and especially we must not take the faulty or vicious
individuals, whom it suits his purpose to depict, as fair samples of the
whole class. We have a nineteenth-century satirist of the failings and
foibles of the clergy, to whom future generations will turn for
illustrations of the life of cathedral towns and country parishes. We know
how wrongly they would suppose that Dr. Proudie was a fair sample of
nineteenth-century bishops, or Dr. Grantley of archdeacons "of the
period," or Mr. Smylie of the evangelical clergy; we know there is no real
bishop, archdeacon, or incumbent among us of whom those characters, so
cleverly and amusingly, and in one sense so truthfully, drawn, are
anything but exaggerated likenesses. With this caution, we do not hesitate
to borrow illustrations of our subject from Chaucer and other contemporary

In his description of Friar Hubert, who was one of the Canterbury
pilgrims, he tells us how--

  "Full well beloved and familiar was he
   With frankelins over all in his countrie;
   And eke with worthy women of the town,[22]
   For he had power of confession,
   As said himself, more than a curate,
   For of his order he was licenciate.
   Full sweetely heard he confession,
   And pleasant was his absolution.
   He was an easy man to give penance
   There as he wist to have a good pittance,
   For unto a poor order for to give,
   Is signe that a man is well y-shrive.

      *       *       *       *       *

   His tippet was aye farsed[23] full of knives
   And pinnés for to give to fairé wives.
   And certainly he had a merry note,
   Well could he sing and playen on a rote.[24]

      *       *       *       *       *

   And over all there as profit should arise,
   Courteous he was, and lowly of service.
   There was no man no where so virtuous,
   He was the beste beggar in all his house,
   And gave a certain ferme for the grant
   None of his brethren came in his haunt."

As to his costume:--

  "For there was he not like a cloisterer,
   With threadbare cope, as is a poor scholar,
   But he was like a master or a pope,
   Of double worsted was his semi-cope,[25]
   That round was as a bell out of the press."

In the Sompnour's tale the character, here merely sketched, is worked out
in detail, and gives such a wonderfully life-like picture of a friar, and
of his occupation, and his intercourse with the people, that we cannot do
better than lay considerable extracts from it before our readers:--

  "Lordings there is in Yorkshire, as I guess,
   A marsh country y-called Holderness,
   In which there went a limitour[26] about
   To preach, and eke to beg, it is no doubt.
   And so befel that on a day this frere
   Had preached at a church in his mannére,
   And specially aboven every thing
   Excited he the people in his preaching
   To trentals,[27] and to give for Goddé's sake,
   Wherewith men mighten holy houses make,
   There as divine service is honoured,
   Not there as it is wasted and devoured.[28]
   'Trentals,' said he, 'deliver from penance
   Ther friendés' soules, as well old as young,
   Yea, when that they are speedily y-sung.
   Not for to hold a priest jolly and gay,
   He singeth not but one mass[29] of a day,
   Deliver out,' quoth he, 'anon[30] the souls.
   Full hard it is, with flesh-hook or with owles
   To be y-clawed, or to burn or bake:
   Now speed you heartily, for Christé's sake.'
     And when this frere had said all his intent,
   With _qui cum patre_[31] forth his way he went;
   When folk in church had given him what they lest
   He went his way, no longer would he rest."

Then he takes his way through the village with his brother friar (it seems
to have been the rule for them to go in couples) and a servant after them
to carry their sack, begging at every house.

  "With scrippe and tipped staff, y-tucked high,
   In every house he gan to pore and pry;
   And begged meal or cheese, or ellés corn.
   His fellow had a staff tipped with horn,
   A pair of tables all of ivory,
   And a pointel y-polished fetisly,
   And wrote always the namés, as he stood,
   Of allé folk that gave them any good,
   As though that he woulde for them pray.
   'Give us a bushel of wheat, or malt, or rye,
   A Goddé's kichel,[32] or a trippe of cheese;
   Or ellés what you list, we may not chese;[33]
   A Godde's halfpenny, or a mass penny,
   Or give us of your bran, if ye have any,
   A dagon[34] of your blanket, dearé dame,
   Our sister dear (lo! here I write your name):
   Bacon or beef, or such thing as you find.'
   A sturdy harlot[35] went them aye behind,
   That was their hosté's man, and bare a sack,
   And what men gave them laid it on his back.
   And when that he was out at door, anon
   He planed away the names every one,
   That he before had written on his tables;
   He served them with triffles[36] and with fables."

At length he comes to a house in which, the goodwife being _devôte_, he
has been accustomed to be hospitably received:--

  "So along he went, from house to house, till he
   Came to a house where he was wont to be
   Refreshed more than in a hundred places.
   Sick lay the husbandman whose that the place is;
   Bedrid upon a couché low he lay:
   '_Deus hic_,' quoth he, 'O Thomas, friend, good day'
   Said this frere, all courteously and soft.
   'Thomas,' quoth he, 'God yield[37] it you, full oft
   Have I upon this bench fared full well,
   Here have I eaten many a merry meal.'
   And from the bench he drove away the cat,
   And laid adown his potent[38] and his hat,
   And eke his scrip, and set himself adown:
   His fellow was y-walked into town
   Forth with his knave, into that hostlery
   Where as he shope him thilké night to lie
   'O deré master,' quoth this sické man,
   'How have ye fared since that March began?
   I saw you not this fourteen night and more.'
     'God wot,' quoth he, 'laboured have I full sore;
   And specially for thy salvation
   Have I sayd many a precious orison,
   And for our other friendes, God them bless.
   I have this day been at your church at messe,
   And said a sermon to my simple wit.

      *       *       *       *       *

   And there I saw our dame. Ah! where is she?'
   'Yonder I trow that in the yard she be,'
   Saidé this man, 'and she will come anon.'
     'Eh master, welcome be ye, by St. John!'
   Saide this wife; 'how fare ye heartily?'
     This friar ariseth up full courteously,
   And her embraceth in his armés narwe,[39]
   And kisseth her sweet, and chirketh as a sparrow
   With his lippes: 'Dame,' quoth he, 'right well.
   As he that is your servant every deal.[40]
   Thanked be God that you gave soul and life,
   Yet saw I not this day so fair a wife
   In all the churché, God so save me.'
     'Yea, God amendé defaults, sire,' quoth she:
   'Algates welcome be ye, by my fay.'
     '_Graunt mercy_, dame; that have I found alway.
   But of your great goodness, by your leve,
   I wouldé pray you that ye not you grieve,
   I will with Thomas speak a little throw;
   These curates be so negligent and slow
   To searchen tenderly a conscience.
   In shrift, in preaching, is my diligence,
   And study, on Peter's words and on Paul's,
   I walk and fishen Christian menne's souls,
   To yield our Lord Jesu his proper rent;
   To spread his word is set all mine intent.'
     'Now, by your faith, dere sir,' quoth she,
   'Chide him well for Seinté Charitee.
   He is as angry as a pissemire,'" &c.

Whereupon the friar begins at once to scold the goodman:--

  "'O Thomas, _je vous die_, Thomas, Thomas,
   This maketh the fiend, this must be amended.
   Ire is a thing that high God hath defended,[41]
   And therefore will I speak a word or two.'
     'Now, master,' quoth the wife, 'ere that I go,
   What will ye dine? I will go thereabout.'
     'Now, dame,' quoth he, '_je vous dis sans doubte_,
   Have I not of a capon but the liver,
   And of your white bread but a shiver,
   And after that a roasted piggé's head
   (But I ne would for me no beast were dead),
   Then had I with you homely suffisance;
   I am a man of little sustenance,
   My spirit hath his fostering in the Bible.
   My body is aye so ready and so penible
   To waken, that my stomach is destroyed.
   I pray you, dame, that ye be not annoyed,
   Though I so friendly you my counsel shew.
   By God! I n'old[42] have told it but a few.'
     'Now, sir,' quoth she, 'but one word ere I go.
   My child is dead within these weekés two,
   Soon after that ye went out of this town.'[43]
     'His death saw I by revelation,'
   Said this frere, 'at home in our dortour.[44]
   I dare well say that ere that half an hour
   After his death, I saw him borne to blisse
   In mine vision, so God me wisse.
   So did our sexton and our fermerere,[45]
   That have been trué friars fifty year;
   They may now, God be thanked of his loan,
   Make their jubilee and walke alone.'"[46]

We do not care to continue the blasphemous lies with which he plays upon
the mother's tenderness for her dead babe. At length, addressing the sick
goodman, he continues:--

  "'Thomas, Thomas, so might I ride or go,
   And by that lord that cleped is St. Ive,
   N'ere[47] thou our brother, shouldest thou not thrive,
   In our chapter pray we[48] day and night
   To Christ that he thee send hele and might[49]
   Thy body for to welden hastily.'
     'God wot,' quoth he, 'I nothing thereof feel,
   So help me Christ, as I in fewé years
   Have spended upon divers manner freres
   Full many a pound, yet fare I never the bet.'
     The frere answered, 'O Thomas, dost thou so?
   What need have you diverse friars to seche?
   What needeth him that hath a perfect leech[50]
   To seeken other leches in the town?
   Your inconstancy is your confusion.
   Hold ye then me, or elles our convent,
   To pray for you is insufficient?
   Thomas, that jape is not worth a mite;
   Your malady is for we have too lite.[51]
   Ah! give that convent half a quarter of oates;
   And give that convent four and twenty groats;
   And give that friar a penny and let him go;
   Nay, nay, Thomas, it may nothing be so;
   What is a farthing worth parted in twelve?"

And so he takes up the cue the wife had given him, and reads him a long
sermon on anger, quoting Seneca, and giving, for instances, Cambyses and
Cyrus, and at length urges him to confession. To this--

  "'Nay,' quoth the sick man, 'by Saint Simon,
   I have been shriven this day by my curate.'

      *       *       *       *       *

   'Give me then of thy gold to make our cloister,'"

and again he proclaims the virtues and morals of his order.

  "'For if ye lack our predication,[52]
   Then goth this world all to destruction.
   For whoso from this world would us bereave,
   So God me save, Thomas, by your leave,
   He would bereave out of this world the sun,'" &c.

And so ends with the ever-recurring burden:--

  "'Now, Thomas, help for Sainte Charitee.'
   This sicke man wax well nigh wood for ire,[53]
   He woulde that the frere had been a fire,
   With his false dissimulation;"

and proceeds to play a practical joke upon him, which will not bear even
hinting at, but which sufficiently shows that superstition did not prevent
men from taking great liberties, expressing the utmost contempt of these
men. Moreover,--

  "His mennie which had hearden this affray,
   Came leaping in and chased out the frere."

Thus ignominiously turned out of the goodman's house, the friar goes to
the court-house of the lord of the village:--

  "A sturdy pace down to the court he goth,
   Whereat there woned[54] a man of great honour,
   To whom this friar was alway confessour;
   This worthy man was lord of that village.
   This frere came, as he were in a rage,
   Whereas this lord sat eating at his board.

      *       *       *       *       *

   This lord gan look, and saide, '_Benedicite!_
   What, frere John! what manner of world is this?
   I see well that something there is amiss.'"

We need only complete the picture by adding the then actors in it:--

  "The lady of the house aye stille sat,
   Till she had herde what the friar said."


  "Now stood the lorde's squire at the board,
   That carved his meat, and hearde every word
   Of all the things of which I have you said."

And it needs little help of the imagination to complete this contemporary
picture of an English fourteenth-century village, with its lord and its
well-to-do farmer, and its villagers, its village inn, its parish church
and priest, and the fortnightly visit of the itinerant friars.

       *       *       *       *       *

We have now completed our sketch of the rise of the religious orders, and
of their general character; we have only to conclude this portion of our
task with a brief history of their suppression in England. Henry VIII. had
resolved to break with the pope; the religious orders were great upholders
of the papal supremacy; the friars especially were called "the pope's
militia;" the king resolved, therefore, upon the destruction of the
friars. The pretext was a reform of the religious orders. At the end of
the year 1535 a royal commission undertook the visitation of all the
religious houses, above one thousand three hundred in number, including
their cells and hospitals. They performed their task with incredible
celerity--"the king's command was exceeding urgent;" and in ten weeks they
presented their report. The small houses they reported to be full of
irregularity and vice; while "in the great solemne monasteries, thanks be
to God, religion was right well observed and kept up." So the king's
decree went forth, and parliament ratified it, that all the religious
houses of less than £200 annual value should be suppressed. This just
caught all the friaries, and a few of the less powerful monasteries for
the sake of impartiality. Perhaps the monks were not greatly moved at the
destruction which had come upon their rivals; but their turn very speedily
came. They were not suppressed forcibly; but they were induced to
surrender. The patronage of most of the abbacies was in the king's hands,
or under his control. He induced some of the abbots by threats or
cajolery, and the offer of place and pension, to surrender their
monasteries into his hand; others he induced to surrender their abbatial
offices only, into which he placed creatures of his own, who completed the
surrender. Some few intractable abbots--like those of Reading,
Glastonbury, and St. John's, Colchester, who would do neither one nor the
other--were found guilty of high treason--no difficult matter when it had
been made high treason by act of Parliament to "publish in words" that the
king was an "heretic, schismatic, or tyrant"--and they were disposed of by
hanging, drawing, and quartering. The Hospitallers of Clerkenwell were
still more difficult to deal with, and required a special act of
Parliament to suppress them. Those who gave no trouble were rewarded with
bishoprics, livings, and pensions; the rest were turned adrift on the wide
world, to dig, or beg, or starve. We are not defending the principle of
monasticism; it may be that, with the altered circumstances of the church
and nation, the day of usefulness of the monasteries had passed. But we
cannot restrain an expression of indignation at the shameless, reckless
manner of the suppression. The commissioners suggested, and Bishop Latimer
entreated in vain, that two or three monasteries should be left in every
shire for religious, and learned, and charitable uses; they were all
shared among the king and his courtiers. The magnificent churches were
pulled down; the libraries, of inestimable value, were destroyed; the alms
which the monks gave to the poor, the hospitals which they maintained for
the old and impotent, the infirmaries for the sick, the schools for the
people--all went in the wreck; and the tithes of parishes which were in
the hands of the monasteries, were swallowed up indiscriminately--they
were not men to strain at such gnats while they were swallowing
camels--some three thousand parishes, including those of the most populous
and important towns, were left impoverished to this day. No wonder that
the fountains of religious endowment in England have been dried up ever
since;--and the course of modern legislation is not calculated to set them
again a-flowing.



Having thus given a sketch of the history of the various monastic orders
in England, we proceed to give some account of the constitution of a
convent, taking that of a Benedictine monastery as a type, from which the
other orders departed only in minor particulars.

The _convent_ is the name especially appropriate to the body of
individuals who composed a religious community. These were the body of
cloister monks, lay and clerical; the professed brethren, who were also
lay and clerical; the clerks; the novices; and the servants and
artificers. The servants and artificers were of course taken from the
lower ranks of society; all the rest were originally of the most various
degrees of rank and social position. We constantly meet with instances of
noble men and women, knights and ladies, minstrels and merchants, quitting
their secular occupations at various periods of their life, and taking the
religious habit; some of them continuing simply professed brethren, others
rising to high offices in their order. Scions of noble houses were not
infrequently entered at an early age as novices, either devoted to the
religious life by the piety of their parents, or, with more worldly
motives, thus provided with a calling and a maintenance; and sometimes
considerable interest was used to procure the admittance of novices into
the great monasteries. Again, the children of the poor were received into
the monastic schools, and such as showed peculiar aptitude were sometimes
at length admitted as monks,[55] and were eligible, and were often chosen,
to the highest ecclesiastical dignities.

The whole convent was under the government of the _abbot_, who, however,
was bound to govern according to the rule of the order. Sometimes he was
elected by the convent; sometimes the king or some patron had a share in
the election. Frequently there were estates attached to the office,
distinct from those of the convent; sometimes the abbot had only an
allowance out of the convent estates; but always he had great power over
the property of the convent, and bad abbots are frequently accused of
wasting the property of the house, and enriching their relatives and
friends out of it. The abbots of some of the more important houses were
mitred abbots, and were summoned to Parliament. In the time of Henry VIII.
twenty-four abbots and the prior of Coventry had seats in the House of

The abbot did not live in common with his monks; he had a separate
establishment of his own within the precincts of the house, sometimes over
the entrance gate, called the Abbot's Lodgings.[57] He ate in his own
hall, slept in his own chamber, had a chapel, or oratory, for his private
devotions, and accommodation for a retinue of chaplains and servants. His
duty was to set to his monks an example of observance of the rule, to keep
them to its observance, to punish breaches of it, to attend the services
in church when not hindered by his other duties, to preach on holy days to
the people, to attend chapter and preach on the rule, to act as confessor
to the monks. But an abbot was also involved in many secular duties; there
were manors of his own, and of the convent's, far and near, which required
visiting; and these manors involved the abbot in all the numerous duties
which the feudal system devolved upon a lord towards his tenants, and
towards his feudal superior. The greater abbots were barons, and sometimes
were thus involved in such duties as those of justices in eyre, military
leaders of their vassals, peers of Parliament. Hospitality was one of the
great monastic virtues. The usual regulation in convents was that the
abbot should entertain all guests of gentle degree, while the convent
entertained all others. This again found abundance of occupation for my
lord abbot in performing all the offices of a courteous host, which seems
to have been done in a way becoming his character as a lord of wealth and
dignity; his table was bountifully spread, even if he chose to confine
himself to pulse and water; a band of wandering minstrels was always
welcome to the abbot's hall to entertain his gentle and fair guests; and
his falconer could furnish a cast of hawks, and his forester a leash of
hounds, and the lord abbot would not decline to ride by the river or into
his manor parks to witness and to share in the sport. In the Harl. MS.
1,527, at fol. 108 (?), is a picture of an abbot on horseback casting off
a hawk from his fist. A pretty little illustration of this abbatial
hospitality occurs in Marie's "Lay of Ywonec."[58] A baron and his family
are travelling in obedience to the royal summons, to keep one of the high
festivals at Caerleon. In the course of their journey they stop for a
night at a spacious abbey, where they are received with the greatest
hospitality. "The good abbot, for the sake of detaining his guests during
another day, exhibited to them the whole of the apartments, the dormitory,
the refectory, and the chapter-house, in which last they beheld a
splendid tomb covered with a superb pall fringed with gold, surrounded by
twenty waxen tapers in golden candlesticks, while a vast silver censer,
constantly burning, filled the air with fumes of incense."

[Illustration: _A Benedictine Abbot._]

An abbot's ordinary habit was the same as that of his monks. In the
processions which were made on certain great feasts he held his crosier,
and, if he were a mitred abbot, he wore his mitre: this was also his
parliamentary costume. We give on the opposite page a beautiful drawing of
a Benedictine abbot of St. Alban's, thus habited, from the _Catalogus
Benefactorum_ of that abbey. When the abbot celebrated high mass on
certain great festivals he wore the full episcopal costume. Thomas
Delamere, abbot of St. Alban's, is so represented in his magnificent
sepulchral brass in that abbey, executed in his lifetime, circa 1375 A.D.
Richard Bewferest, abbot of the Augustine canons of Dorchester,
Oxfordshire, has a brass in that church, date circa 1520 A.D.,
representing him in episcopal costume, bareheaded, with his staff; and in
the same church is an incised gravestone, representing Abbot Roger, circa
1510 A.D., in full episcopal vestments. Abbesses bore the crosier in
addition to the ordinal costume of their order; the sepulchral brass of
Elizabeth Harvey, abbess of the Benedictine Abbey of Elstow, Bedfordshire,
circa 1530 A.D., thus represents her, in the church of that place. Our
representation of a Benedictine abbess on the previous page is from the
fourteenth century MS. Royal, 2 B. vii.

[Illustration: _Benedictine Abbess and Nun._]

Under the abbot were a number of officials (_obedientiarii_), the chief of
whom were the Prior, Precentor, Cellarer, Sacrist, Hospitaller,
Infirmarer, Almoner, Master of the Novices, Porter, Kitchener, Seneschal,
&c. It was only in large monasteries that all these officers were to be
found; in the smaller houses one monk would perform the duties of several
offices. The officers seem to have been elected by the convent, subject to
the approval of the abbot, by whom they might be deposed. Some brief notes
of the duties of these obedientiaries will serve to give a considerable
insight into the economy of a convent. And first for the _Prior_:--

In some orders there was only one abbey, and all the other houses were
priories, as in the Clugniac, the Gilbertine, and in the Military and the
Mendicant orders. In all the orders there were abbeys, which had had
distant estates granted to them, on which either the donor had built a
house, and made it subject to the abbey; or the abbey had built a house
for the management of the estates, and the celebration of divine and
charitable offices upon them. These priories varied in size, from a mere
cell containing a prior and two monks, to an establishment as large as an
abbey; and the dignity and power of the prior varied from that of a mere
steward of the distant estate of the parent house, to that of an
autocratic head, only nominally dependent on the parent house, and himself
in everything but name an abbot.

The majority of the female houses of the various orders (except those
which were especially female orders, like the Brigittines, &c.) were kept
subject to some monastery, so that the superiors of these houses usually
bore only the title of prioress, though they had the power of an abbess in
the internal discipline of the house. One cannot forbear to quote at least
a portion of Chaucer's very beautiful description of his prioress, among
the Canterbury pilgrims:--

  "That of her smiling ful simple was and coy."

She sang the divine service sweetly; she spoke French correctly, though
with an accent which savoured of the Benedictine convent at
Stratford-le-Bow, where she had been educated, rather than of Paris; she
behaved with lady-like delicacy at table; she was cheerful of mood, and
amiable; with a pretty affectation of courtly breeding, and a care to
exhibit a reverend stateliness becoming her office:--

  "But for to speken of her conscience,
   She was so charitable and so piteous,
   She would wepe if that she saw a mouse
   Caught in a trappe, if it were dead or bled;
   Of smalé houndés had she that she fed
   With rosted flesh, and milk, and wastel bread;
   But sore wept she if one of them were dead,
   Or if men smote it with a yerdé smerte;
   And all was conscience and tendre herte.
   Ful semély her wimple y-pinched was;
   Her nose tretis,[59] her eyen grey as glass,
   Her mouth full small, and thereto soft and red,
   And sickerly she had a fayre forehed--
   It was almost a spanné broad I trow,
   And hardily she was not undergrow."[60]

Her habit was becoming; her beads were of red coral gauded with green, to
which was hung a jewel of gold, on which was--

  "Written a crowned A,
   And after, _Amor vincit omnia_.
   Another nun also with her had she,
   That was her chapelleine, and priestés three."

But in abbeys the chief of the obedientiaries was styled prior; and we
cannot, perhaps, give a better idea of his functions than by borrowing a
naval analogy, and calling him the abbot's first lieutenant; for, like
that officer in a ship, the prior at all times carried on the internal
discipline of the convent, and in the abbot's absence he was his
vicegerent; wielding all the abbot's powers, except those of making or
deposing obedientiaries and consecrating novices. He had a suite of
apartments of his own, called the prior's chamber, or the prior's lodging;
he could leave the house for a day or two on the business of the house,
and had horses and servants appropriated to his use; whenever he entered
the monks present rose out of respect; some little license in diet was
allowed him in refectory, and he might also have refreshment in his own
apartments; sometimes he entertained guests of a certain condition in his
prior's chamber. Neither the prior, nor any of the obedientiaries, wore
any distinctive dress or badge of office. In large convents he was
assisted by a sub-prior.

The _Sub-prior_ was the prior's deputy, sharing his duties in his
residence, and fulfilling them in his absences. The especial functions
appropriated to him seem to have been to say grace at dinner and supper,
to see that all the doors were locked at five in the evening, and keep the
keys until five next morning; and, by sleeping near the dormitory door,
and by making private search, to prevent wandering about at night. In
large monasteries there were additional sub-priors.

The _Chantor_, or _Precentor_, appears to come next in order and dignity,
since we are told that he was censed after the abbot and prior. He was
choir-master; taught music to the monks and novices; and arranged and
ruled everything which related to the conduct of divine service. His place
in church was in the middle of the choir on the right side; he held an
instrument in his hand, as modern leaders use a bâton; and his side of the
choir commenced the chant. He was besides librarian, and keeper of the
archives, and keeper of the abbey seal.

He was assisted by a _Succentor_, who sat on the left side of the choir,
and led that half of the choir in service. He assisted the chantor, and in
his absence undertook his duties.

The _Cellarer_ was in fact the steward of the house; his modern
representative is the bursar of a college. He had the care of everything
relating to the provision of the food and vessels of the convent. He was
exempt from the observance of some of the services in church; he had the
use of horses and servants for the fulfilment of his duties, and sometimes
he appears to have had separate apartments. The cellarer, as we have
said, wore no distinctive dress or badge; but in the _Catalogus
Benefactorum_ of St. Alban's there occurs a portrait of one "Adam
Cellarius," who for his distinguished merit had been buried among the
abbots in the chapter-house, and had his name and effigy recorded in the
_Catalogus_; he is holding two keys in one hand and a purse in the other,
the symbols of his office; and in his quaint features--so different from
those of the dignified abbot whom we have given from the same book--the
limner seems to have given us the type of a business-like and not ungenial

[Illustration: _Adam the Cellarer._]

The _Sacrist_, or _Sacristan_ (whence our word sexton), had the care and
charge of the fabric, and furniture, and ornaments of the church, and
generally of all the material appliances of divine service. He, or some
one in his stead, slept in a chamber built for him in the church, in order
to protect it during the night. There is such a chamber in St. Alban's
Abbey Church, engraved in the _Builder_ for August, 1856. There was often
a sub-sacrist to assist the sacrist in his duties.

The duty of the _Hospitaller_ was, as his name implies, to perform the
duties of hospitality on behalf of the convent. The monasteries received
all travellers to food and lodging for a day and a night as of right, and
for a longer period if the prior saw reason to grant it.[61] A special
hall was provided for the entertainment of these guests, and chambers for
their accommodation. The hospitaller performed the part of host on behalf
of the convent, saw to the accommodation of the guests who belonged to the
convent, introduced into the refectory strange priests or others who
desired and had leave to dine there, and ushered guests of degree to the
abbot to be entertained by him. He showed the church and house at suitable
times to guests whose curiosity prompted the desire.

Every abbey had an infirmary, which was usually a detached building with
its own kitchen and chapel, besides suitable apartments for the sick, and
for aged monks, who sometimes took up their permanent residence in the
infirmary, and were excused irksome duties, and allowed indulgences in
food and social intercourse. Not only the sick monks, but other sick folk
were received into the infirmary; it is a very common incident in mediæval
romances to find a wounded knight carried to a neighbouring monastery to
be healed. The officer who had charge of everything relating to this
department was styled the _Infirmarer_. He slept in the infirmary, was
excused from some of the "hours;" in the great houses had two brethren to
assist him besides the necessary servants, and often a clerk learned in
pharmacy as physician.

The _Almoner_ had charge of the distribution of the alms of the house.
Sometimes money was left by benefactors to be distributed to the poor
annually at their obits; the distribution of this was confided to the
almoner. One of his men attended in the abbot's chamber when he had
guests, to receive what alms they chose to give to the poor. Moneys
belonging to the convent were also devoted to this purpose; besides food
and drink, the surplus of the convent meals. He had assistants allowed him
to go and visit the sick and infirm folk of the neighbourhood. And at
Christmas he provided cloth and shoes for widows, orphans, poor clerks,
and others whom he thought to need it most.

The _Master of the Novices_ was a grave and learned monk, who
superintended the education of the youths in the schools of the abbey, and
taught the rule to those who were candidates for the monastic profession.

The _Porter_ was an officer of some importance; he was chosen for his age
and gravity; he had an apartment in the gate lodge, an assistant, and a
lad to run on his messages. But sometimes the porter seems to have been a
layman. And, in small houses and in nunneries, his office involved other
duties, which we have seen in great abbeys distributed among a number of
officials. Thus, in Marie's "Lay le Fraine," we read of the porter of an
abbey of nuns:--

  "The porter of the abbey arose,
   And did his office in the close;
   Rung the bells, and tapers light,
   Laid forth books and all ready dight.
   The church door he undid," &c.;

and in the sequel it appears that he had a daughter, and therefore in all
probability was a layman.

The _Kitchener_, or _Cook_, was usually a monk, and, as his name implies,
he ruled in the kitchen, went to market, provided the meals of the house,

[Illustration: _Alan Middleton._]

The _Seneschal_ in great abbeys was often a layman of rank, who did the
secular business which the tenure of large estates, and consequently of
secular offices, devolved upon abbots and convents; such as holding
manorial courts, and the like. But there was, Fosbroke tells us, another
officer with the same name, but of inferior dignity, who did the convent
business of the prior and cellarer which was to be done out of the house;
and, when at home, carried a rod and acted as marshal of the guest-hall.
He had horses and servants allowed for the duties of his office; and at
the Benedictine Abbey of Winchcombe he had a robe of clerk's cloth once a
year, with lamb's fur for a supertunic, and for a hood of budge fur; he
had the same commons in hall as the cellarer, and £2 every year at
Michaelmas. Probably an officer of this kind was Alan Middleton, who is
recorded in the _Catalogus_ of St. Alban's as "collector of rents of the
obedientiaries of that monastery, and especially of those of the bursar."
_Prudenter in omnibus se agebat_, and so, deserving well of the house,
they put a portrait of him among their benefactors, clothed in a blue
robe, of "clerk's cloth" perhaps, furred at the wrists and throat with
"lamb's fur" or "budge fur;" a small tonsure shows that he had taken some
minor order, the penner and inkhorn at his girdle denote the nature of his
office; and he is just opening the door of one of the abbey tenants to
perform his unwelcome function. They were grateful men, these Benedictines
of St. Alban's; they have immortalised another of their inferior officers,
_Walterus de Hamuntesham, fidelis minister hujus ecclesiæ_, because on one
occasion he received a beating at the hands of the rabble of St.
Alban's--_inter villanos Sci Albani_--while standing up for the rights and
liberties of the church.

[Illustration: _Walter of Hamuntesham attacked by a Mob._]

Next in dignity after the obedientiaries come the _Cloister Monks_; of
these some had received holy orders at the hands of the bishop, some not.
Their number was limited. A cloister monk in a rich abbey seems to have
been something like in dignity to the fellow of a modern college, and a
good deal of interest was sometimes employed to obtain the admission of a
youth as a novice, with a view to his ultimately arriving at this
dignified degree. Next in order come the _Professed Brethren_. These seem
to be monks who had not been elected to the dignity of cloister monks;
some of them were admitted late in life. Those monks who had been brought
up in the house were called _nutriti_, those who came later in life
_conversi_; the lay brothers were also sometimes called _conversi_. There
were again the _Novices_, who were not all necessarily young, for a
_conversus_ passed through a noviciate; and even a monk of another order,
or of another house of their own order, and even a monk from a cell of
their own house, was reckoned among the novices. There were also the
_Chaplains_ of the abbot and other high officials; and frequently there
were other clerics living in the monastery, who served the chantries in
the abbey church, and the churches and chapels which belonged to the
monastery and were in its neighbourhood. Again, there were the _Artificers
and Servants_ of the monastery: millers, bakers, tailors, shoemakers,
smiths, and similar artificers, were often a part of a monastic
establishment. And there were numerous men-servants, grooms, and the like:
these were all under certain vows, and were kept under discipline. In the
Cistercian abbey of Waverley there were in 1187 A.D. seventy monks and one
hundred and twenty _conversi_, besides priests, clerks, servants, &c. In
the great Benedictine abbey of St. Edmund's Bury, in the time of Edward
I., there were eighty monks; fifteen chaplains attendant on the abbot and
chief officers; about one hundred and eleven servants in the various
offices, chiefly residing within the walls of the monastery; forty
priests, officiating in the several chapels, chantries, and monastic
appendages in the town; and an indefinite number of professed brethren.
The following notes will give an idea of the occupations of the servants.
In the time of William Rufus the servants at Evesham numbered--five in the
church, two in the infirmary, two in the cellar, five in the kitchen,
seven in the bakehouse, four brewers, four menders, two in the bath, two
shoemakers, two in the orchard, three gardeners, one at the cloister gate,
two at the great gate, five at the vineyard, four who served the monks
when they went out, four fishermen, four in the abbot's chamber, three in
the hall. At Salley Abbey, at the end of the fourteenth century, there
were about thirty-five servants, among whom are mentioned the shoemaker
and barber, the prior's chamberlain, the abbot's cook, the convent cook
and baker's mate, the baker, brewers, tailor, cowherd, waggoners, pages of
the kitchen, poultry-keeper, labourers, a keeper of animals and birds,
bailiffs, foresters, shepherds, smiths: there are others mentioned by
name, without a note of their office. But it was only a few of the larger
houses which had such numerous establishments as these; the majority of
the monasteries contained from five to twenty cloister monks. Some of the
monasteries were famous as places of education, and we must add to their
establishment a number of children of good family, and the learned clerks
or ladies who acted as tutors; thus the abbey of St. Mary, Winchester, in
1536, contained twenty-six nuns, five priests, thirteen lay sisters,
thirty-two officers and servants, and twenty-six children, daughters of
lords and knights, who were brought up in the house.

Lastly, there were a number of persons of all ranks and conditions who
were admitted to "fraternity." Among the Hospitallers (and probably it was
the same with the other orders) they took oath to love the house and
brethren, to defend the house from ill-doers, to enter that house if they
did enter any, and to make an annual present to the house. In return, they
were enrolled in the register of the house, they received the prayers of
the brethren, and at death were buried in the cemetery. Chaucer's
Dominican friar (p. 48), writes the names of those who gave him donations
in his "tables." In the following extract from Piers Ploughman's Creed, an
Austin friar promises more definitely to have his donors enrolled in the
fraternity of his house:--

  "And gyf thou hast any good,
   And will thyself helpen,
   Help us herblich therewith.
   And here I undertake,
   Thou shalt ben brother of oure hous,
   And a book habben,
   At the next chapetre,
   Clerliche enseled.
   And then our provincial
   Hath power to assoylen
   Alle sustren and brethren
   That beth of our ordre."
              _Piers Ploughman's Creed_, p. 645.

In the book of St. Alban's, which we have before quoted, there is a list
of many persons, knights and merchants, ladies and children, vicars and
rectors, received _ad fraternitatem hujus monasterii_. In many cases
portraits of them are given: they are in the ordinary costume of their
time and class, without any badge of their monastic fraternisation.

Chaucer gives several sketches which enable us to fill out our realisation
of the monks, as they appeared outside the cloister associating with their
fellow-men. He includes one among the merry company of his Canterbury
pilgrims; and first in the Monk's Prologue, makes the Host address the
monk thus:--

  "'My lord, the monk,' quod he ...
   'By my trothe I can not tell youre name.
   Whether shall I call you my Lord Dan John,
   Or Dan Thomas, or elles Dan Albon?
   Of what house be ye by your father kin?
   I vow to God thou hast a full fair skin;
   It is a gentle pasture ther thou goest,
   Thou art not like a penaunt[62] or a ghost.
   Upon my faith thou art some officer,
   Some worthy sextern or some celerer.
   For by my father's soul, as to my dome,
   Thou art a maister when thou art at home;
   No poure cloisterer, ne non novice,
   But a governor both ware and wise.'"

Chaucer himself describes the same monk in his Prologue thus:--

  "A monk there was, a fayre for the maisterie,
   An out-rider that lovered venerie,[63]
   A manly man to be an abbot able.
   Ful many a dainty horse had he in stable;
   And when he rode men might his bridle hear
   Gingling in a whistling wind as clear,
   And eke as loud as doth the chapel bell,
   Whereas this lord was keeper of the cell.
   The rule of Saint Maur and of Saint Benet,
   Because that it was old and somedeal strait,
   This ilke monk let olde thinges pace,
   And held after the newe world the trace.
   He gave not of the text a pulled hen,
   That saith, that hunters been not holy men;
   Ne that a monk, when he is regneless,[64]
   Is like a fish that is waterless;
   That is to say, a monk out of his cloister:
   This ilke text he held not worth an oyster.
   And I say his pinion was good.
   Why should he study, and make himselven wood,
   Upon a book in cloister alway to pore,
   Or swinkin with his handis, and labour,
   As Austin bid? How shall the world be served?
   Therefore he was a prickasoure aright:
   Greyhounds he had as swift as fowls of flight;
   Of pricking and of hunting for the hare
   Was all his lust, for no cost would he spare.
   I saw his sleeves purfled at the hand
   With gris, and that the finest of the land.
   And for to fasten his hood under his chin
   He had of gold y-wrought a curious pin:
   A love-knot in the greater end there was.

      *       *       *       *       *

   His bootis supple, his horse in great estate;
   Now certainly he was a fair prelate."

Again, in the "Shipman's Tale" we learn that such an officer had
considerable freedom, so that he was able to pay very frequent visits to
his friends. The whole passage is worth giving:--

  "A marchant whilom dwelled at St. Denise,
   That riche was, for which men held him wise.

      *       *       *       *       *

   This noble marchant held a worthy house,
   For which he had all day so great repair
   For his largesse, and for his wife was fair.
   What wonder is? but hearken to my tale.
   Amonges all these guestes great and small
   There was a monk, a fair man and a bold,
   I trow a thirty winters he was old,
   That ever anon was drawing to that place.
   This youngé monk that was so fair of face,
   Acquainted was so with this goodé man,
   Sithen that their firste knowledge began,
   That in his house as familiar was he
   As it possible is any friend to be.
   And for as mochel as this goodé man,
   And eke this monk, of which that I began,
   Were bothé two y-born in one village,
   The monk him claimeth as for cosinage;
   And he again him said not onés nay,
   But was as glad thereof, as fowl of day;
   For to his heart it was a great plesaunce;
   Thus ben they knit with eterne alliance,
   And eche of them gan other for to ensure
   Of brotherhood, while that life may endure."

Notwithstanding his vow of poverty, he was also able to make presents to
his friends, for the tale continues:--

  "Free was Dan John, and namely of despence
   As in that house, and full of diligence
   To don plesaunce, and also great costage;
   He not forgat to give the leaste page
   In all that house, but, after their degree,
   He gave the lord, and sithen his mennie,
   When that he came, some manner honest thing;
   For which they were as glad of his coming
   As fowl is fain when that the sun upriseth."

Chaucer does not forget to let us know how it was that this monk came to
have such liberty and such command of means:--

  "This noble monk, of which I you devise,
   Hath of his abbot, as him list, licence
   (Because he was a man of high prudence,
   And eke an officer), out for to ride
   To see their granges and their barnés wide."



We proceed next to give some account of the buildings which compose the
fabric of a monastery. And first as to the site. The orders of the
Benedictine family preferred sites as secluded and remote from towns and
villages as possible. The Augustinian orders did not cultivate seclusion
so strictly; their houses are not unfrequently near towns and villages,
and sometimes a portion of their conventual church--the nave,
generally--formed the parish church. The Friaries, Colleges of secular
canons, and Hospitals, were generally in or near the towns. There is a
popular idea that the monks chose out the most beautiful and fertile spots
in the kingdom for their abodes. A little reflection would show that the
choice of the site of a new monastery must be confined within the limits
of the lands which the founder was pleased to bestow upon the convent.
Sometimes the founder gave a good manor, and gave money besides, to help
to build the house upon it; sometimes what was given was a tract of
unreclaimed land, upon which the first handful of monks squatted like
settlers in a new country. Even the settled land, in those days, was only
half cultivated; and on good land, unreclaimed or only half reclaimed, the
skill and energy of a company of first-rate farmers would soon produce
great results; barren commons would be dotted over with sheep, and rushy
valleys would become rich pastures covered with cattle, and great
clearings in the forest would grow green with rye and barley. The revenues
of the monastic estates would rapidly augment; little of them would be
required for the coarse dress and frugal fare of the monks; they did not,
like the lay landowners, spend them on gilded armour and jewelled robes,
and troops of armed retainers, and tournaments, and journeys to court;
and so they had enough for plentiful charity and unrestricted hospitality,
and the surplus they spent upon those magnificent buildings whose very
ruins are among the architectural glories of the land. The Cistercians had
an especial rule that their houses should be built on the lowest possible
sites, in token of humility; but it was the general custom in the Middle
Ages to choose low and sheltered sites for houses which were not
especially intended as strongholds, and therefore it is that we find
nearly all monasteries in sheltered spots. To the monks the neighbourhood
of a stream was of especial importance: when headed up it supplied a pond
for their fish, and water-power for their corn-mill. If, therefore, there
were within the limits of their domain a quiet valley with a rivulet
running through it, that was the site which the monks would select for
their house. And here, beside the rivulet, in the midst of the green
pasture land of the valley dotted with sheep and kine, shut in from the
world by the hills, whose tops were fringed with the forest which
stretched for miles around, the stately buildings of the monastery would
rise year after year; the cloister court, and the great church, and the
abbot's lodge, and the numerous offices, all surrounded by a stone wall
with a stately gate-tower, like a goodly walled town, and a suburban
hamlet of labourers' and servants' cottages sheltering beneath its walls.

There was a certain plan for the arrangement of the principal buildings of
a monastery, which, with minor variations, was followed by nearly all the
monastic orders, except the Carthusians. These latter differed from the
other orders in this, that each monk had his separate cell, in which he
lived, and ate, and slept apart from the rest, the whole community meeting
only in church and chapter.[65] Our limits will not permit us to enter
into exceptional arrangements.

The nucleus of a monastery was the cloister court. It was a quadrangular
space of green sward, around which were arranged the cloister buildings,
viz., the church, the chapter-house, the refectory, and the dormitory.[66]
The court was called the Paradise--the blessed garden in which the inmates
passed their lives of holy peace. A porter was often placed at the
cloister-gate, and the monks might not quit its seclusion, nor strangers
enter to disturb its quiet, save under exceptional circumstances.

The cloister-court had generally, though it is doubtful whether it was
always the case, a covered ambulatory round its four sides. The
ambulatories of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries have usually an open
arcade on the side facing the court, which supports the groined roof. In
the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, instead of an open arcade, we
usually find a series of large traceried windows, tolerably close
together; in many cases they were glazed, sometimes with painted glass,
and formed doubtless a grand series of scriptural or historical paintings.
The blank wall opposite was also sometimes painted. This covered
ambulatory was not merely a promenade for the monks; it was the place in
which the convent assembled regularly every day, at certain hours, for
study and meditation; and in some instances (_e.g._, at Durham) a portion
of it was fitted up with little wooden closets for studies for the elder
monks, with book-cupboards in the wall opposite for books. The monks were
sometimes buried in the cloister, either under the turf in the open
square, or beneath the pavement of the ambulatory. There was sometimes a
fountain at the corner of the cloister, or on its south side near the
entrance to the refectory, at which the monks washed before meals.

The church was always the principal building of a monastery. Many of them
remain entire, though despoiled of their shrines, and tombs, and altars,
and costly furniture, and many more remain in ruins, and they fill us with
astonishment at their magnitude and splendour. Our existing cathedrals
were, in fact, abbey churches; nine or ten of them were the churches of
Benedictine monasteries, the remainder of secular Augustines. But these,
the reader may imagine, had the wealth of bishops and the offerings of
dioceses lavished upon them, and may not be therefore fair examples of
ordinary abbey churches. But some of them originally were ordinary abbey
churches, and were subsequently made Episcopal sees, such as Beverley,
Gloucester, Christ Church Oxford, and Peterborough, which were originally
Benedictine abbey churches; Bristol was the church of a house of regular
canons; Ripon was the church of a college of secular canons. The
Benedictine churches of Westminster and St. Alban's, and the collegiate
church of Southwell, are equal in magnitude and splendour to any of the
cathedrals; and the ruins of Fountains, and Tintern, and Netley, show that
the Cistercians equalled any of the other orders in the magnitude and
beauty of their churches.

It is indeed hard to conceive that communities of a score or two of monks
should have built such edifices as Westminster and Southwell as private
chapels attached to their monasteries. And this, though it is one aspect
of the fact, is not the true one. They did not build them for private
chapels to say their daily prayers in; they built them for temples in
which they believed that the Eternal and Almighty condescended to dwell;
to whose contemplation and worship they devoted their lives. They did not
think of the church as an appendage to their monastery, but of their
monastery as an appendage to the church. The cloister, under the shadow
and protection of the church, was the court of the Temple, in which its
priests and Levites dwelt.

The church of a monastery was almost always a cross church, with a nave
and aisles; a central tower (in Cistercian churches the tower was only to
rise one story above the roof); transepts, which usually have three
chapels on the north side of each transept, or an aisle divided into three
chapels by parclose screens; a choir with or without aisles; a
retro-choir or presbytery; and often a Lady chapel, east of the
presbytery, or in some instances parallel with the choir.

The entrance for the monks was usually on the south side opposite to the
eastern alley of the cloisters; there was also in Cistercian churches, and
in some others, a newel stair in the south transept, by means of which the
monks could descend from their dormitory (which was in the upper story of
the east side of the cloister court) into the church for the night
services, without going into the open air. The principal entrance for the
laity was on the north side, and was usually provided with a porch. The
great western entrance was chiefly used for processions; the great
entrance gate in the enclosure wall of the abbey being usually opposite to
it or nearly so. In several instances stones have been found, set in the
pavements of the naves of conventual churches, to mark the places where
the different members of the convent were to stand before they issued
forth in procession, amidst the tolling of the great bell, with cross and
banner, and chanted psalms, to meet the abbot at the abbey-gate, on his
return from an absence, or any person to whom it was fitting that the
convent should show such honour.

[Illustration: _A Semi-choir of Franciscan Friars._]

The internal arrangements of an abbey-church were very nearly like those
of our cathedrals. The convent occupied the stalls in the choir; the place
of the abbot was in the first stall on the right-hand (south) side to one
entering from the west--it is still appropriated to the dean in
cathedrals; in the corresponding stall on the other side sat the prior;
the precentor sat in the middle stall on the right or south side; the
succentor in the middle stall on the north side.

The beautiful little picture of a semi-choir of Franciscan friars on the
opposite page is from a fourteenth-century psalter in the British Museum
(Domitian, A. 17). It is from a large picture, which gives a beautiful
representation of the interior of the choir of the church. The picture is
worth careful examination for the costume of the friars--grey frock and
cowl, with knotted cord girdle and sandalled feet; some wearing the hood
drawn over the head, some leaving it thrown back on the neck and
shoulders; one with his hands folded under his sleeves like the
Cistercians at p. 17. The precentor may be easily distinguished in the
middle stall beating time, with an air of leadership. There is much
character in all the faces and attitudes--_e.g._, in the withered old face
on the left, with his cowl pulled over his ears to keep off the draughts,
or the one on the precentor's left, a rather burly friar, evidently
singing bass.[67] On the next page is an engraving from the same MS. of a
similar semi-choir of minoresses, which also is only a portion of a large
church interior.

[Illustration: _A Semi-choir of Minoresses._]

When there was a shrine of a noted saint[68] it was placed in the
presbytery, behind the high-altar; and here, and in the choir aisles, were
frequently placed the monuments of the abbots, and of founders and
distinguished benefactors of the house; sometimes heads of the house and
founders were buried in the chapter-house.

It would require a more elaborate description than our plan will admit to
endeavour to bring before the mind's-eye of the reader one of these abbey
churches before its spoliation;--when the sculptures were unmutilated and
the paintings fresh, and the windows filled with their stained glass, and
the choir hung with hangings, and banners and tapestries waved from the
arches of the triforium, and the altar shone gloriously with jewelled
plate, and the monuments[69] of abbots and nobles were still perfect, and
the wax tapers burned night and day[70] in the hearses, throwing a
flickering light on the solemn effigies below, and glancing upon the
tarnished armour and the dusty banners[71] which hung over the tombs,
while the cowled monks sat in their stalls and prayed. Or when, on some
high festival, the convent walked round the lofty aisles in procession,
two and two, clad in rich copes over their coarse frocks, preceded by
cross and banner, with swinging censers pouring forth clouds of incense,
while one of those angelic boy's voices which we still sometimes hear in
cathedrals chanted the solemn litany--the pure sweet ringing voice
floating along the vaulted aisles, until it was lost in the swell of the
chorus of the whole procession--_Ora! Ora! Ora! pro nobis!_

       *       *       *       *       *

The Cloister was usually situated on the south side of the nave of the
church, so that the nave formed its north side, and the south transept a
part of its eastern side; but sometimes, from reasons of local
convenience, the cloister was on the north side of the nave, and then the
relative positions of the other buildings were similarly transposed.

The Chapter-house was always on the east side of the court. In
establishments of secular canons it seems to have been always
multi-sided[72] with a central pillar to support its groining, and a
lofty, conical, lead-covered roof. In these instances it is placed in the
open space eastward of the cloister, and is usually approached by a
passage from the east side of the cloister court. In the houses of all the
other orders[73] the chapter-house is rectangular, even where the church
is a cathedral. Usually, then, the chapter-house is a rectangular building
on the east side of the cloister, and its longest axis is east and west;
at Durham it has an eastern apse.[74] It was a large and handsome room,
with a good deal of architectural ornament;[75] often the western end of
it is divided off as a vestibule or ante-room; and generally it is so
large as to be divided into two or three aisles by rows of pillars.
Internally, rows of stalls or benches were arranged round the walls for
the convent; there was a higher seat at the east end for the abbot or
prior, and a desk in the middle from which certain things were read. Every
day after the service called Terce, the convent walked in procession from
the choir to the chapter-house, and took their proper places. When the
abbot had taken his place, the monks descended one step and bowed; he
returned their salutation, and all took their seats. A sentence of the
rule of the order was read by one of the novices from the desk, and the
abbot, or in his absence the prior, delivered an explanatory or hortatory
sermon upon it; then from another portion of the book was read the names
of brethren, and benefactors, and persons who had been received into
fraternity, whose decease had happened on that day of the year; and the
convent prayed a _requiescant in pace_ for their souls, and the souls of
all the faithful departed this life. Then members of the convent who had
been guilty of slight breaches of discipline confessed them, kneeling upon
a low stool in the middle, and on a bow from the abbot, intimating his
remission of the breach, they resumed their seats. If any had a complaint
to make against any brother, it was here made and adjudged.[76] Convent
business was also transacted. The woodcut gives an example of the kind.
Henry VII. had made grants to Westminster Abbey, on condition that the
convent should perform certain religious services on his behalf;[77] and
in order that the services should not fall into disuse, he directed that
yearly, at a certain period, the chief-justice, or the king's attorney, or
the recorder of London, should attend in chapter, and the abstract of the
grant and agreement between the king and the convent should be read. The
grant which was thus to be read still exists in the British Museum; it is
written in a volume superbly bound, with the royal seals attached in
silver cases; it is from the illuminated letter at the head of one of the
deeds in this book[78] that our woodcut is taken. It rudely represents the
chapter-house, with the chief-justice and a group of lawyers on one side,
the abbot and convent on the other, and a monk reading the grant from the
desk in the middle.

[Illustration: _Monks and Lawyers in Chapter-house._]

Lydgate's "Life of St. Edmund" (Harl. 2,278) was written A.D. 1433, by
command of his abbot--he was a monk of St. Edmund's Bury--on the occasion
of King Henry VI. being received--

  "Of their chapter a brother for to be;"

that is, to the fraternity of the house. An illumination on f. 6 seems to
represent the king sitting in the abbot's place in the chapter-house, with
royal officers behind him, monks in their places on each side of the
chapter-house, the lectern in the middle, and a group of clerks at the
west end. It is probably intended as a picture of the scene of the king's
being received to fraternity.

Adjoining the south transept is usually a narrow apartment; the
description of Durham, drawn up soon after the Dissolution, says that it
was the "Locutory." Another conjecture is that it may have been the
vestry. At Netley it has a door at the west, with a trefoil light over it,
a two-light window at the east, two niches, like monumental niches, in its
north and south walls, and a piscina at the east end of its south wall.

Again, between this and the chapter-house is often found a small
apartment, which some have conjectured to be the penitential cell. In
other cases it seems to be merely a passage from the cloister-court to the
space beyond; in which space the abbot's lodging is often situated, so
that it may have been the abbot's entrance to the church and chapter.

In Cistercian houses there is usually another long building south of the
chapter-house, its axis running north and south. This was perhaps in its
lower story the Frater-house, a room to which the monks retired after
refection to converse, and to take their allowance of wine, or other
indulgences in diet which were allowed to them; and some quotations in
Fosbroke would lead us to imagine that the monks dined here on feast days.
It would answer to the great chamber of mediæval houses, and in some
respects to the Combination-room[79] of modern colleges. The upper story
of this building was probably the Dormitory. This was a long room, with a
vaulted or open timber roof, in which the pallets were arranged in rows on
each side against the wall. The prior or sub-prior usually slept in the
dormitory, with a light burning near him, in order to maintain order. The
monks slept in the same habits[80] which they wore in the day-time.

About the middle of the south side of the court, in Cistercian houses,
there is a long room, whose longer axis lies north and south, with a
smaller room on each side of it, which was probably the Refectory. In
other houses, the refectory forms the south side of the cloister court,
lying parallel with the nave of the church. Very commonly it has a row of
pillars down the centre, to support the groined roof. It was arranged,
like all mediæval halls, with a dais at the upper end and a screen at the
lower. In place of the oriel window of mediæval halls, there was a pulpit,
which was often in the embrasure of a quasi-oriel window, in which one of
the brethren read some edifying book during meals.

The remaining apartments of the cloister-court it is more difficult to
appropriate. In some of the great Cistercian houses whose ground-plan can
be traced--as Fountains, Salley, Netley, &c.--possibly the long apartment
which is found on the west side of the cloister was the hall of the
Hospitium, with chambers over it. Another conjecture is, that it was the
house of the lay brethren.

In the uncertainty which at present exists on these points of monastic
arrangement, we cannot speak with any degree of certainty; but we throw
together some data on the subject in the subjoined note.[81]

The Scriptorium is said to have been usually over the chapter-house. It
was therefore a large apartment, capable of containing many persons, and,
in fact, many persons did work together in it in a very business-like
manner at the transcription of books. For example, William, Abbot of
Herschau, in the eleventh century, as stated by his biographer: "Knowing,
what he had learned by laudable experience, that sacred reading is the
necessary food of the mind, made twelve of his monks very excellent
writers, to whom he committed the office of transcribing the holy
Scriptures, and the treatises of the Fathers. Besides these, there were an
indefinite number of other scribes, who wrought with equal diligence on
the transcription of other books. Over them was a monk well versed in all
kinds of knowledge, whose business it was to appoint some good work as a
task for each, and to correct the mistakes of those who wrote
negligently."[82] The general chapter of the Cistercian order, held in
A.D. 1134, directs that the same silence should be maintained in the
scriptorium as in the cloister. Sometimes perhaps little separate studies
of wainscot were made round this large apartment, in which the writers sat
at their desks. Sometimes this literary work was carried on in the
cloister, which, being glazed, would be a not uncomfortable place in
temperate weather, and a very comfortable place in summer, with its
coolness and quiet, and the peep through its windows on the green court
and the fountain in the centre, and the grey walls of the monastic
buildings beyond; the slow footfall of a brother going to and fro, and the
cawing of the rooks in the minster tower, would add to the dreamy charm of
such a library.[83]

Odo, Abbot of St. Martin's, at Tournay, about 1093, "used to exult in the
number of writers the Lord had given him; for if you had gone into the
cloister you might in general have seen a dozen young monks sitting on
chairs in perfect silence, writing at tables carefully and artificially
constructed. All Jerome's commentaries on the Prophets, all the works of
St. Gregory, and everything that he could find of St. Augustine, Ambrose,
Isodore, Bede, and the Lord Anselm, then Abbot of Bec, and afterwards
Archbishop of Canterbury, he caused to be transcribed. So that you would
scarcely have found such a monastery in that part of the country, and
everybody was begging for our copies to correct their own." Sometimes
little studies of wainscot were erected in the cloisters for the monks to
study or transcribe in. At Gloucester Cathedral, at Beaulieu, and at
Melrose, for example, there are traces of the way in which the windows of
the cloisters were enclosed and turned into such studies.[84]

[Illustration: _Monk in Scriptorium._]

There are numerous illuminations representing monks and ecclesiastics
writing; they sit in chairs of various kinds, some faldstools, some armed
chairs, some armed backed; and they have desks and bookstands before them
of various shapes, commonly a stand with sloping desk like a Bible
lectern, not unfrequently a kind of dumb-waiter besides on which are
several books. We see also in these illuminations the forms of the pens,
knives, inkstands, &c., which were used. We will only mention two of
unusual interest. One is in a late fourteenth-century Psalter, Harl.
2,897, at p. 186, v., where St. Jude sits writing his Epistle in a
canopied chair, with a shelf across the front of the chair to serve as a
desk; a string with a weight at the end holds his parchment down, and
there is a bench beside, on which lies a book. A chair with a similar
shelf is at f. 12 of the MS. Egerton, 1,070. Our woodcut on the preceding
page is from a MS. in the Library of Soissons. We also find
representations of ecclesiastics writing in a small cell which may
represent the enclosed scriptoria--_e.g._ St. Bonaventine writing, in the
MS. Harl. 3,229; St. John painting, in the late fifteenth-century MS. Add.
15,677, f. 35.

The Abbot's Lodging sometimes formed a portion of one of the monastic
courts, as at St. Mary, Bridlington, where it formed the western side of
the cloister-court; but more usually it was a detached house, precisely
similar to the contemporary unfortified houses of laymen of similar rank
and wealth. No particular site relative to the monastic buildings was
appropriated to it; it was erected wherever was most convenient within the
abbey enclosure. The principal rooms of an abbot's house are the Hall, the
Great Chamber, the Kitchen, Buttery, Cellars, &c., the Chambers, and the
Chapel. We must remember that the abbots of the greater houses were
powerful noblemen; the abbots of the smaller houses were equal in rank and
wealth to country gentlemen. They had a very constant succession of noble
and gentle guests, whose entertainment was such as their rank and habits
required. This involved a suitable habitation and establishment; and all
this must be borne in mind when we endeavour to picture to ourselves an
abbot's lodging. To give an idea of the magnitude of some of the abbots'
houses, we may record that the hall of the Abbot of Fountains was divided
by two rows of pillars into a centre and aisles, and that it was 170 feet
long by 70 feet wide.[85] Half a dozen noble guests, with their retinues
of knights and squires, and men-at-arms and lacqueys, and all the abbot's
men to boot, would be lost in such a hall. On the great feast-days it
might, perhaps, be comfortably filled. But even such a hall would hardly
contain the companies who were sometimes entertained, on such great days
for instance as an abbot's installation-day, when it is on record that an
abbot of one of the greater houses would give a feast to three or four
thousand people.

Of the lodgings of the superiors of smaller houses, we may take that of
the Prior of St. Mary's, Bridlington, as an example. It is very accurately
described by King Henry's commissioners; it formed the west side of the
cloister-court; it contained a hall with an undercroft, eighteen paces
long from the screen to the dais,[86] and ten paces wide; on its north
side a great chamber, twenty paces long and nineteen wide; at the west end
of the great chamber the prior's sleeping-chamber, and over that a garret;
on the east side of the same chamber a little chamber and a closet; at the
south end of the hall the buttery and pantry, and a chamber called the
Auditor's Chamber; at the same end of the hall a fair parlour, called the
Low Summer Parlour; and over it another fair chamber; and adjoining that
three little chambers for servants; at the south end of the hall the
Prior's Kitchen, with three houses covered with lead, and adjoining it a
chamber called the South Cellarer's Chamber.[87]

[Illustration: _A Present of Fish._]

There were several other buildings of a monastery, which were sometimes
detached, and placed as convenience dictated. The Infirmary especially
seems to have been more commonly detached; in many cases it had its own
kitchen, and refectory, and chapel, and chambers, which sometimes were
arranged round a court, and formed a complete little separate

The Hospitium, or Guest-house, was sometimes detached; but more usually
it seems to have formed a portion of an outer court, westward of the
cloister-court, which court was entered from the great gates, or from one
of the outer gates of the abbey. In Cistercian houses, as we have said,
the guest-house, with its hall below and its chambers above, perhaps
occupied the west side of the cloister-court, and would therefore form the
eastern range of buildings of this outer court. At St. Mary's,
Bridlington, where the prior's lodging occupied this position, the
"lodgings and stables for strangers" were on the north side of this outer
court. The guest-houses were often of great extent and magnificence. The
Guesten-hall of St. Augustine's, Canterbury, still remains, and is a very
noble building, 150 feet long by 50 broad, of Norman date, raised on an
undercroft. The Guesten-hall of Worcester also remains, a very noble
building on an undercroft, with a fine carved timber roof, and portions of
the painting which decorated the wall behind the dais still visible.[88]
Besides the hall, the guest-house contained often a great-chamber
(answering to our modern drawing-room) and sleeping-chambers, and a
chapel, in which service was performed for guests--for in those days it
was the custom always to hear prayers before dinner and supper.

Thus, at Durham, we are told that "a famous house of hospitality was kept
within the abbey garth, called the Guest-hall, and was situate in the west
side, towards the water. The sub-prior of the house was the master
thereof, as one appointed to give entertainment to all estates, noble,
gentle, or what other degree soever, came thither as strangers. Their
entertainment was not inferior to that of any place in England, both for
the goodness of their diet, the clean and neat furniture of their
lodgings, and generally all things necessary for travellers; and, with
this entertainment, no man was required to depart while he continued
honest and of good behaviour. This hall was a stately place, not unlike
the body of a church, supported on each side by very fine pillars, and in
the midst of the hall a long range for the fire. The chambers and lodgings
belonging to it were kept very clean and richly furnished." At St. Albans,
the Guest-house was an enormous range of rooms, with stabling for three
hundred horses.

There is a passage in the correspondence of Coldingham Priory (published
by the Surties Society, 1841, p. 52) which gives us a graphic sketch of
the arrival of guests at a monastery:--"On St. Alban's-day, June 17 [year
not given--it was towards the end of Edward III.], two monks, with a
company of certain secular persons, came riding into the gateway of the
monastery about nine o'clock in the morning. This day happened to be
Sunday, but they were hospitably and reverently received, had lodgings
assigned them, a special mass service performed for them, and after a
refection and washing their feet, it being supposed that they were about
to pursue their journey to London the next morning, they were left at an
early hour to take repose. While the bell was summoning the rest of the
brotherhood to vespers, the monk who had been in attendance upon them (the
hospitaller) having gone with the rest to sing his chant in the choir, the
secular persons appear to have asked the two monks to take a walk with
them to look at the Castle of Durham," &c.[89]

There could hardly have been any place in the Middle Ages which could have
presented such a constant succession of picturesque scenes as the
Hospitium of a monastery. And what a contrast must often have existed
between the Hospitium and the Cloister. Here a crowd of people of every
degree--nobles and ladies, knights and dames, traders with their wares,
minstrels with their songs and juggling tricks, monks and clerks, palmers,
friars, beggars--bustling about the court or crowding the long tables of
the hall; and, a few paces off, the dark-frocked monks, with faces buried
in their cowls, pacing the ambulatory in silent meditation, or sitting at
their meagre refection, enlivened only by the monotonous sound of the
novice's voice reading a homily from the pulpit!

Many of the remaining buildings of the monastery were arranged around this
outer court. Ingulphus tells us that the second court of the Saxon
monastery of Croyland (about 875 A.D.) had the gate on the north, and the
almonry near it--a very usual position for it; the shops of the tailors
and shoe-makers, the hall of the novices, and the abbot's lodgings on the
east; the guest-hall and its chambers on the south; and the stable-house,
and granary, and bake-house on the west. The Gate-house was usually a
large and handsome tower, with the porter's lodge on one side of the
arched entrance; and often a strong room on the other, which served as the
prison of the manor-court of the convent; and often a handsome room over
the entrance, in which the manorial court was held. In the middle of the
court was often a stone cross, round which markets and fairs were often

In the "Vision of Piers Ploughman" an interesting description is given of
a Dominican convent of the fourteenth century. We will not trouble the
reader with the very archaic original, but will give him a paraphrase of
it. The writer says that, on approaching, he was so bewildered by their
magnitude and beauty, that for a long time he could distinguish nothing
certainly but stately buildings of stone, pillars carved and painted, and
great windows well wrought. In the quadrangle he notices the cross
standing in the centre, surrounded with tabernacle-work: he enters the
minster (church), and describes the arches carved and gilded, the wide
windows full of shields of arms and merchants' marks on stained glass, the
high tombs under canopies, with armed effigies in alabaster, and lovely
ladies lying by their sides in many gay garments. He passes into the
cloister and sees it pillared and painted, and covered with lead and paved
with tiles, and conduits of white metal pouring their water into latten
(bronze) lavatories beautifully wrought. The chapter-house he says was
wrought like a great church, carved and painted like a parliament-house.
Then he went into the fratry, and found it a hall fit for a knight and his
household, with broad boards (tables) and clean benches, and windows
wrought as in a church. Then he wandered all about--

  "And seigh halles ful heigh, and houses ful noble,
   Chambres with chymneys, and chapeles gaye,
   And kychenes for an high kynge in castels to holden,
   And their dortoure ydight with dores ful stronge,
   Fermerye, and fraitur, with fele more houses,
   And all strong stone wall, sterne opon heithe,
   With gay garites and grete, and ich whole yglazed,
   And other houses ynowe to herberwe the queene."

The churches of the friars differed from those of monks. They were
frequently composed either of a nave only or a nave and two (often very
narrow) aisles, without transepts, or chapels, or towers; they were
adapted especially for preaching to large congregations--_e.g._ the Austin
Friars' Church in the City of London, lately restored; St. Andrew's Hall,
Norwich. In Viollet le Duc's "Dictionary of Architecture" is given a
bird's-eye view of the monastery of the Augustine Friars of St. Marie des
Vaux Verts, near Brussels, which is a complete example of one of these

Every monastery had a number of dependent establishments of greater or
less size: cells on its distant estates; granges on its manors; chapels in
places where the abbey tenants were at a distance from a church; and often
hermitages under its protection. A ground-plan and view of one of these
cells, the Priory of St. Jean-les-Bons-hommes, of the end of the twelfth
century, still remaining in a tolerably perfect state, is given by Viollet
le Duc (Dict Arch., i. 276, 277). It is a miniature monastery, with a
little cloistered court, surrounded by the usual buildings: an oratory on
the north side; on the east a sacristy, and chapter-house, and long range
of buildings, with dormitory over; on the south side the refectory and
kitchen; and another exterior court, with stables and offices. The
preceptory of Hospitallers at Chibburn, Northumberland, which remains
almost as the knights left it, is another example of these small rural
houses. It is engraved in Turner's "Domestic Architecture," vol. ii. p.
197. It also consists of a small court, with a chapel about forty-five
feet long, on the west side; and other buildings, which we cannot
appropriate, on the remaining sides. Of the monastic cells we have already
spoken in describing the office of prior. The one or two brethren who were
placed in a cell to manage the distant estates of the monastery would
probably be chosen rather for their qualities as prudent stewards than
for their piety. The command of money which their office gave them, and
their distance from the supervision of their ecclesiastical superiors,
brought them under temptation, and it is probably in these cells, and
among the brethren who superintended the granges, and the officials who
could leave the monastery at pleasure on the plea of convent business,
that we are to look for the irregularities of which the Middle-Age
satirists speak. The monk among Chaucer's "Canterbury Pilgrims" was prior
of a cell, for we read that--

  "When he rode, men might his bridel here
   Gingeling in a whistling sound, as clere
   And eke as loud _as doth the chapelle belle,
   Ther as this lord was keeper of the celle_."

The monk on whose intrigue "The Shipman's Tale" is founded, was probably
the cellarer of his convent:--

  "This noble monk of which I you devise,
   Had of his abbot, as him list, licence;
   Because he was a man of high prudence,
   And eke an officer, out for to ride
   To seen his granges and his bernes wide."

[Illustration: _An Abbot travelling._]

The abbot, too, sometimes gave license to the monks to go and see their
friends, or to pass two or three days at one or other of the manors of
the house for recreation; and sometimes he took a monk with him on his
own journeys. In a MS. romance, in the British Museum (Add. 10,293, f.
11), is a representation of a monk with his hood on, journeying on
horseback. We give here, from the St. Alban's Book (Nero, D. vii.), a
woodcut of an abbot on horseback, with a hat over his hood--"an abbot on
an ambling pad;" he is giving his benediction in return to the salute of
some passing traveller.

Hermitages or anchorages sometimes depended on a monastery, and were not
necessarily occupied by brethren of the monastery, but by any one desirous
to embrace this mode of life whom the convent might choose. The hermit,
however, probably, usually wore the habit of the order. The monastery
often supplied the hermit with his food. In a picture in the MS. romance,
before quoted (Add. 10,292, f. 98), is a representation of a knight-errant
on horseback, conversing by the way with a clerk, who is carrying bread
and wine to a hermitage.

The woodcut with which we conclude, from the Harleian MS., 1,527,
represents the characteristic costume of three orders of religious with
whom we have been concerned--a bishop, an abbot, and a clerk.

[Illustration: _Bishop, Abbot, and Clerk._]




We have already related, in a former chapter (p. 3), that the ascetics who
abandoned the stirring world of the Ægypto-Greek cities, and resorted to
the Theban desert to lead a life of self-mortification and contemplation,
frequently associated themselves into communities, and thus gave rise to
the coenobitical orders of Christendom. But there were others who still
preferred the solitary life; and they had their imitators in every age and
country of the Christian world. We have not the same fulness of
information respecting these solitaries that we have respecting the great
orders of monks and friars; but the scattered notices which remain of
them, when brought together, form a very curious chapter in the history of
human nature, well worthy of being written out in full. The business of
the present paper, however, is not to write the whole chapter, but only to
select that page of it which relates to the English solitaries, and to
give as distinct a picture as we can of the part which the Hermits and
Recluses played on the picturesque stage of the England of the Middle

We have to remember, at the outset, that it was not all who bore the name
of Eremite who lived a solitary life. We have already had occasion to
mention that Innocent IV., in the middle of the thirteenth century, found
a number of small religious communities and solitaries, who were not in
any of the recognised religious orders, and observed no authorised rule;
and that he enrolled them all into a new order, with the rule of St.
Augustine, under the name of Eremiti Augustini. The new order took root,
and flourished, and gave rise to a considerable number of large
communities, very similar in every respect to the communities of friars of
the three orders previously existing. The members of these new communities
did not affect seclusion, but went about among the people, as the
Dominicans, and Franciscans, and Carmelites did. The popular tongue seems
to have divided the formal title of the new order, and to have applied the
name of _Augustine_, or, popularly, _Austin Friars_, to these new
communities of friars; while it reserved the distinctive name of
_Eremites_, or Hermits, for the religious, who, whether they lived
absolutely alone, or in little aggregations of solitaries, still professed
the old eremitical principle of seclusion from the world. These hermits
may again be subdivided into Hermits proper, and Recluses. The difference
between them was this: that the hermit, though he professed a general
seclusion from the world, yet, in fact, held communication with his
fellow-men as freely as he pleased, and might go in and out of his
hermitage as inclination prompted, or need required; the recluse was
understood to maintain a more strict abstinence from unnecessary
intercourse with others, and had entered into a formal obligation not to
go outside the doors of his hermitage. In the imperfect notices which we
have of them, it is often impossible to determine whether a particular
individual was a hermit or a recluse; but we incline to the opinion that
of the male solitaries few had taken the vows of reclusion; while the
female solitaries appear to have been all recluses. So that, practically,
the distinction almost amounts to this--that the male solitaries were
hermits, and the females recluses.

Very much of what we have to say of the mediæval solitaries, of their
abodes, and of their domestic economy, applies both to those who had, and
to those who had not, made the further vow of reclusion. We shall,
therefore, treat first of those points which are common to them, and then
devote a further paper to those things which are peculiar to the recluses.

       *       *       *       *       *

The popular idea of a hermit is that of a man who was either a half-crazed
enthusiast, or a misanthrope--a kind of Christian Timon--who abandoned the
abodes of men, and scooped out for himself a cave in the rocks, or built
himself a rude hut in the forest; and lived there a half-savage life, clad
in sackcloth or skins,[91] eating roots and wild fruits, and drinking of
the neighbouring spring; visited occasionally by superstitious people, who
gazed and listened in fear at the mystic ravings, or wild denunciations,
of the gaunt and haggard prophet. This ideal has probably been derived
from the traditional histories, once so popular,[92] of the early
hermit-saints; and there may have been, perhaps, always an individual or
two of whom this traditional picture was a more or less exaggerated
representation. But the ordinary English hermit of the Middle Ages was a
totally different type of man. He was a sober-minded and civilised person,
who dressed in a robe very much like the robes of the other religious
orders; lived in a comfortable little house of stone or timber; often had
estates, or a pension, for his maintenance, besides what charitable people
were pleased to leave him in their wills, or to offer in their lifetime;
he lived on bread and meat, and beer and wine, and had a chaplain to say
daily prayers for him, and a servant or two to wait upon him; his
hermitage was not always up in the lonely hills, or deep-buried in the
shady forests--very often it was by the great high roads, and sometimes in
the heart of great towns and cities.

This summary description is so utterly opposed to all the popular notions,
that we shall take pains to fortify our assertions with sufficient proofs;
indeed, the whole subject is so little known that we shall illustrate it
freely from all the sources at our command. And first, as it is one of our
especial objects to furnish authorities for the pictorial representation
of these old hermits, we shall inquire what kind of dress they did
actually wear in place of the skins, or the sackcloth, with which the
popular imagination has clothed them.

We should be inclined to assume _a priori_ that the hermits would wear the
habit prescribed by Papal authority for the Eremiti Augustini, which,
according to Stevens, consisted of "a white garment, and a white scapular
over it, when they are in the house; but in the choir, and when they go
abroad, they put on, over all, a sort of cowl and a large hood, both
black, the hood round before, and hanging down to the waist in a point,
being girt with a black leather thong." And in the rude woodcuts which
adorn Caxton's "Vitas Patrum," or "Lives of the Hermits," we do find some
of the religious men in a habit which looks like a gown, with the arms
coming through slits, which may be intended to represent a scapular, and
with hoods and cowls of the fashion described; while others, in the same
book, are in a loose gown, in shape more like that of a Benedictine.
Again, in Albert Durer's "St. Christopher," as engraved by Mrs. Jameson,
in her "Sacred and Legendary Art," p. 445, the hermit is represented in a
frock and scapular, with a cowl and hood. But in the majority of the
representations of hermits which we meet with in mediæval paintings and
illuminated manuscripts, the costume consists of a frock, sometimes
girded, sometimes not, and over it an ample gown, like a cloak, with a
hood; and in the cases where the colour of the robe is indicated, it is
almost always indicated by a light brown tint.[93] It is not unlikely that
there were varieties of costume among the hermits. Perhaps those who were
attached to the monasteries of monks and friars, and who seem to have been
usually admitted to the fraternity of the house,[94] may have worn the
costume of the order to which they were attached; while priest-hermits
serving chantries may have worn the usual costume of a secular priest.
Bishop Poore, who died 1237, in his "Ancren Riewle," speaks of the fashion
of the dress to be worn, at least by female recluses, as indifferent.
Bilney, speaking especially of the recluses in his day, just before the
Reformation, says, "their apparell is indifferent, so it be dissonant from
the laity." In the woodcuts, from various sources, which illustrate this
paper, the reader will see for himself how the hermits are represented by
the mediæval artists, who had them constantly under their observation, and
who at least tried their best to represent faithfully what they saw. The
best and clearest illustration which we have been able to find of the
usual costume in which the hermits are represented, we here give to the
reader. It is from the figure of St. Damasus, one of the group in the fine
picture of "St. Jerome," by Cosimo Roselli (who lived from 1439 to 1506),
now in the National Gallery. The hermit-saint wears a light-brown frock,
and scapular, with no girdle, and, over all, a cloak and hood of the same
colour, and his naked feet are protected by wooden clogs.

[Illustration: _St. Damasus, Hermit._]

Other illustrations of hermits may be found in the early fourteenth
century MS. Romances Additional 10,293 f. 335, and 10,294 f. 95. In the
latter case there are two hermits in one hermitage; also in Royal 16 G.
vi. Illustrations of St. Anthony, which give authorities for hermit
costume, and indications of what hermitages were, abound in the later
MSS.; for example, in King René's "Book of Hours" (Egerton 1,070), at f.
108, the hermit-saint is habited in a grey frock and black cloak with a
T-cross on the breast; he holds bell and book and staff in his hands. In
Egerton 1,149, of the middle of the fifteenth century. In Add. 15,677, of
the latter part of the fifteenth century, at f. 150, is St. Anthony in
brown frock and narrow scapulary, with a grey cloak and hood and a red
skull cap; he holds a staff and book; his hermitage, in the background, is
a building like a little chapel with a bell-cot on the gable, within a
grassy enclosure fenced with a low wattled fence. Add. 18,854, of date
1525 A.D., f. 146, represents St. Anthony in a blue-grey gown and hood,
holding bell, rosary, and staff, entering his hermitage, a little building
with a bell-cot on the gable.

A man could not take upon himself the character of a hermit at his own
pleasure. It was a regular order of religion, into which a man could not
enter without the consent of the bishop of the diocese, and into which he
was admitted by a formal religious service. And just as bishops do not
ordain men to holy orders until they have obtained a "title," a place in
which to exercise their ministry, so bishops did not admit men to the
order of Hermits until they had obtained a hermitage in which to exercise
their vocation.

The form of the vow made by a hermit is here given, from the Institution
Books of Norwich, lib. xiv. fo. 27a ("East Anglian," No. 9, p. 107). "I,
John Fferys, nott maridd, promyt and avowe to God, o{r} Lady Sent Mary,
and to all the seynts in heven, in the p'sence of you reverend fadre in
God, Richard bishop of Norwich, the wowe of chastite, after the rule of
sent paule the heremite. In the name of the fadre, sone, and holy gost.
JOHN FFERERE. xiij. meii, anno dni. MLVCIIIJ. in capella de Thorpe."

We summarize the service for habiting and blessing a hermit[95] from the
pontifical of Bishop Lacy of Exeter, of the fourteenth century.[96] It
begins with several psalms; then several short prayers for the incepting
hermit, mentioning him by name.[97] Then follow two prayers for the
benediction of his vestments, apparently for different parts of his habit;
the first mentioning "hec indumenta humilitatem cordis et mundi contemptum
significancia,"--these garments signifying humility of heart, and contempt
of the world; the second blesses "hanc vestem pro conservande castitatis
signo,"--this vestment the sign of chastity. The priest then delivers the
vestments to the hermit kneeling before him, with these words, "Brother,
behold we give to thee the eremitical habit (_habitum heremiticum_), with
which we admonish thee to live henceforth chastely, soberly, and holily;
in holy watchings, in fastings, in labours, in prayers, in works of mercy,
that thou mayest have eternal life, and live for ever and ever." And he
receives them saying, "Behold, I receive them in the name of the Lord; and
promise myself so to do according to my power, the grace of God, and of
the saints, helping me." Then he puts off his secular habit, the priest
saying to him, "The Lord put off from thee the old man with his deeds;"
and while he puts on his hermit's habit, the priest says, "The Lord put on
thee the new man, which, after God, is created in righteousness and true
holiness." Then follow a collect and certain psalms, and finally the
priest sprinkles him with holy water, and blesses him.

Men of all ranks took upon them the hermit life, and we find the popular
writers of the time sometimes distinguishing among them; one is a
"hermit-priest,"[98] another is a "gentle hermit," not in the sense of
the "gentle hermit of the dale," but meaning that he was a man of gentle
birth. The hermit in whose hermitage Sir Launcelot passed long time is
described as a "gentle hermit, which sometime was a noble knight and a
great lord of possessions, and for great goodness he hath taken him unto
wilful poverty, and hath forsaken his possessions, and his name is Sir
Baldwin of Britain, and he is a full noble surgeon, and a right good
leech." This was the type of hermit who was venerated by the popular
superstition of the day: a great and rich man who had taken to wilful
poverty, or a man who lived wild in the woods--a St. Julian, or a St.
Anthony. A poor man who turned hermit, and lived a prosaic, pious, useful
life, showing travellers the way through a forest, or over a bog, or
across a ferry, and humbly taking their alms in return, presented nothing
dramatic and striking to the popular mind; very likely, too, many men
adopted the hermit life for the sake of the idleness and the alms,[99] and
deserved the small repute they had.

It is _àpropos_ of Sir Launcelot's hermit above-mentioned that the
romancer complains "for in those days it was not with the guise of hermits
as it now is in these days. For there were no hermits in those days, but
that they have been men of worship and prowess, and those hermits held
great households, and refreshed people that were in distress." We find the
author of "Piers Ploughman" making the same complaint. We have, as in
other cases, a little modernised his language:--

  "But eremites that inhabit them by the highways,
   And in boroughs among brewers, and beg in churches,
   All that holy eremites hated and despised,
   (As riches, and reverences, and rich men's alms),
   These lollers,[100] latche drawers,[101] lewd eremites,
   Covet on the contrary. Nor live holy as eremites,
   That lived wild in woods, with bears and lions.
   Some had livelihood from their lineage[102] and of no life else;
   And some lived by their learning, and the labour of their hands.
   Some had foreigners for friends, that their food sent;
   And birds brought to some bread, whereby they lived.
   All these holy eremites were of high kin,
   Forsook land and lordship, and likings of the body.
   But these eremites that edify by the highways
   Whilome were workmen--webbers, and tailors,
   And carter's knaves, and clerks without grace.
   They held a hungry house. And had much want,
   Long labour, and light winnings. And at last espied
   That lazy fellows in friar's clothing had fat cheeks.
   Forthwith left they their labour, these lewd knaves,
   And clothed them in copes as they were clerks,
   Or one of some order [of monks or friars], or else prophets [eremites]."

This curious extract from "Piers Ploughman" leads us to notice the
localities in which hermitages were situated. Sometimes, no doubt, they
were in lonely and retired places among the hills, or hidden in the depths
of the forests which then covered so large a portion of the land. On the
next page is a very interesting little picture of hermit life, from a MS.
Book of Hours, executed for Richard II. (British Museum, Domitian, A.
xvii., folio 4 v.) The artist probably intended to represent the old
hermits of the Egyptian desert, Piers Ploughman's--

            "Holy eremites,
  That lived wild in woods
  With bears and lions;"

but, after the custom of mediæval art, he has introduced the scenery,
costume, and architecture of his own time. Erase the bears, which stand
for the whole tribe of outlandish beasts, and we have a very pretty bit of
English mountain scenery. The stags are characteristic enough of the
scenery of mediæval England. The hermitage on the right seems to be of the
ruder sort, made in part of wattled work. On the left we have the more
usual hermitage of stone, with its little chapel bell in a bell-cot on the
gable. The venerable old hermit, coming out of the doorway, is a
charming illustration of the typical hermit, with his venerable beard,
and his form bowed by age, leaning with one hand on his cross-staff, and
carrying his rosary in the other. The hermit in the illustration hereafter
given from the "History of Launcelot," on page 114, leans on a similar
staff; it would seem as if such a staff was a usual part of the hermit's
equipment.[103] The hermit in Albert Dürer's "St. Christopher." already
mentioned, also leans on a staff, but of rather different shape. Here is a
companion-picture, in pen and ink, from the "Morte d'Arthur:"--"Then he
departed from the cross [a stone cross which parted two ways in waste
land, under which he had been sleeping], on foot, into a wild forest. And
so by prime he came unto an high mountain, and there he found an
hermitage, and an hermit therein, which was going to mass. And then Sir
Launcelot kneeled down upon both his knees, and cried out, 'Lord, mercy!'
for his wicked works that he had done. So when mass was done, Sir
Launcelot called the hermit to him, and prayed him for charity to hear his
confession. 'With a good will,' said the good man."

[Illustration: _Hermits and Hermitages._]

But many of the hermitages were erected along the great highways of the
country, and especially at bridges and fords,[104] apparently with the
express view of their being serviceable to travellers. One of the
hermit-saints set up as a pattern for their imitation was St. Julian, who,
with his wife, devoted his property and life to showing hospitality to
travellers; and the hermit who is always associated in the legends and
pictures with St. Christopher, is represented as holding out his torch or
lantern to light the giant ferryman, as he transports his passengers
across the dangerous ford by which the hermitage was built. When
hostelries, where the traveller could command entertainment for hire, were
to be found only in the great towns, the religious houses were the chief
resting-places of the traveller; not only the conventual establishments,
but the country clergy also were expected to be given to hospitality.[105]
But both monasteries and country parsonages often lay at a distance of
miles of miry and intricate by-road off the highway. We must picture this
state of the country and of society to ourselves, before we can appreciate
the intentions of those who founded these hospitable establishments; we
must try to imagine ourselves travellers, getting belated in a dreary part
of the road, where it ran over a bleak wold, or dived through a dark
forest, or approached an unknown ford, before we can appreciate the
gratitude of those who suddenly caught the light from the hermit's
window, or heard the faint tinkle of his chapel bell ringing for vespers.

Such incidents occur frequently in the romances. Here is an example:--"Sir
Launcelot rode all that day and all that night in a forest; and at the
last, he was ware of an hermitage and a chapel that stood between two
cliffs; and then he heard a little bell ring to mass, and thither he rode,
and alighted, and tied his horse to the gate, and heard mass." Again: "Sir
Gawayne rode till he came to an hermitage, and there he found the good man
saying his even-song of our Lady. And there Sir Gawayne asked harbour for
charity, and the good man granted it him gladly."

We shall, perhaps, most outrage the popular idea of a hermit, when we
assert that hermits sometimes lived in towns. The extract from "Piers
Ploughman's Vision," already quoted, tells us of--

  "Eremites that inhabit them
   In boroughs among brewers."

The difficulty of distinguishing between hermits proper and recluses
becomes very perplexing in this part of our subject. There is abundant
proof, which we shall have occasion to give later, that recluses, both
male and female, usually lived in towns and villages, and these recluses
are sometimes called hermits, as well as by their more usual and peculiar
name of anchorites and anchoresses. But we are inclined to the opinion,
that not all the male solitaries who lived in towns were recluses. The
author of "Piers Ploughman's Vision" speaks of the eremites who inhabited
in boroughs as if they were of the same class as those who lived by the
highways, and who ought to have lived in the wildernesses, like St.
Anthony. The theory under which it was made possible for a solitary, an
eremite, a man of the desert, to live in a town, was, that a churchyard
formed a solitary place--a desert--within the town. The curious history
which we are going to relate, seems to refer to hermits, not to recluses.
The Mayor of Sudbury, under date January 28, 1433, petitioned the Bishop
of Norwich, setting forth that the bishop had refused to admit "Richard
Appleby, of Sudbury, conversant with John Levynton, of the same town,
heremyte, to the order of Hermits, unless he was sure to be inhabited in a
solitary place where virtues might be increased, and vice exiled;" and
that therefore "we have granted hym, be the assent of all the sayd parish
and cherch reves, to be inhabited with the sayd John Levynton in his
solitary place and hermytage, whych y{t} is made at the cost of the
parysh, in the cherchyard of St. Gregory Cherche, to dwellen togedyr as
(long as) yey liven, or whiche of them longest liveth;" and thereupon the
mayor prays the bishop to admit Richard Appleby to the order.

This curious incident of two solitaries living together has a parallel in
the romance of "King Arthur." When the bold Sir Bedivere had lost his lord
King Arthur, he rode away, and, after some adventures, came to a chapel
and an hermitage between two hills, "and he prayed the hermit that he
might abide there still with him, to live with fasting and prayers. So Sir
Bedivere abode there still with the hermit; and there Sir Bedivere put
upon him poor clothes, and served the hermit full lowly in fasting and in
prayers." And afterwards (as we have already related) Sir Launcelot "rode
all that day and all that night in a forest. And at the last he was ware
of an hermitage and a chapel that stood between two cliffs, and then he
heard a little bell ring to mass; and thither he rode, and alighted, and
tied his horse to the gate and heard mass." He had stumbled upon the
hermitage in which Sir Bedivere was living. And when Sir Bedivere had made
himself known, and had "told him his tale all whole," "Sir Launcelot's
heart almost burst for sorrow, and Sir Launcelot threw abroad his armour,
and said,--'Alas! who may trust this world?' And then he kneeled down on
his knees, and prayed the hermit for to shrive him and assoil him. And
then he besought the hermit that he might be his brother. And he put an
habit upon Sir Launcelot, and there he served God day and night with
prayers and fastings." And afterwards Sir Bors came in the same way. And
within half a year there was come Sir Galahad, Sir Galiodin, Sir
Bleoberis, Sir Villiers, Sir Clarus, and Sir Gahalatine. "So these seven
noble knights abode there still: and when they saw that Sir Launcelot had
taken him unto such perfection, they had no list to depart, but took such
an habit as he had. Thus they endured in great penance six years, and then
Sir Launcelot took the habit of priesthood, and twelve months he sung the
mass; and there was none of these other knights but that they read in
books, and helped for to sing mass, and ring bells, and did lowly all
manner of service. And so their horses went where they would, for they
took no regard in worldly riches." And after a little time Sir Launcelot
died at the hermitage: "then was there weeping and wringing of hands, and
the greatest dole they made that ever made man. And on the morrow the
bishop-hermit sung his mass of requiem." The accompanying wood-cut, from
one of the small compartments at the bottom of Cosimo Roselli's picture of
St. Jerome, from which we have already taken the figure of St. Damasus,
may serve to illustrate this incident. It represents a number of hermits
mourning over one of their brethren, while a priest in the robes proper to
his office, stands at the head of the bier and says prayers, and his
deacon stands at the foot, holding a processional cross. The contrast
between the robes of the priest and those of the hermits is lost in the
woodcut; in the original the priest's cope and amys are coloured red,
while those of the hermits are tinted with light brown.

[Illustration: _Funeral Service of a Hermit._]

If the reader has wondered how the one hermitage could accommodate these
seven additional habitants, the romancer does not forget to satisfy his
curiosity: a few pages farther we read--"So at the season of the night
they went all to their beds, for they all lay in one chamber." It was not
very unusual for hermitages to be built for more than one occupant; but
probably, in all such cases, each hermit had his own cell, adjoining their
common chapel. This was the original arrangement of the hermits of the
Thebais in their laura. The great difference between a hermitage with more
than one hermit, and a small cell of one of the other religious orders,
was that in such a cell one monk or friar would have been the prior, and
the others subject to him; but each hermit was independent of any
authority on the part of the other; he was subject only to the obligation
of his rule, and the visitation of his bishop.

The life[106] of the famous hermit, Richard of Hampole, which has lately
been published for the first time by the Early English Text Society, will
enable us to realise in some detail the character and life of a mediæval
hermit of the highest type. Saint Richard was born[107] in the village of
Thornton, in Yorkshire. At a suitable age he was sent to school by the
care of his parents, and afterwards was sent by Richard Neville,
Archdeacon of Durham, to Oxford, where he gave himself specially to
theological study. At the age of nineteen, considering the uncertainty of
life and the awfulness of judgment, especially to those who waste life in
pleasure or spend it in acquiring wealth, and fearing lest he should fall
into such courses, he left Oxford and returned to his father's house. One
day he asked of his sister two of her gowns (tunicas), one white, the
other grey, and a cloak and hood of his father's. He cut up the two gowns,
and fashioned out of them and of the hooded cloak an imitation of a
hermit's habit, and next day he went off into a neighbouring wood bent
upon living a hermit life. Soon after, on the vigil of the Assumption of
the Blessed Virgin, he went to a certain church, and knelt down to pray in
the place which the wife of a certain worthy knight, John de Dalton, was
accustomed to occupy. When the lady came to church, her servants would
have turned out the intruder, but she would not permit it. When vespers
were over and he rose from his knees, the sons of Sir John, who were
students at Oxford, recognised him as the son of William Rolle, whom they
had known at Oxford. Next day Richard again went to the same church, and
without any bidding put on a surplice and sang mattins and the office of
the mass with the rest. And when the gospel was to be read at mass, he
sought the blessing of the priest, and then entered the pulpit and
preached a sermon to the people of such wonderful edification that many
were touched with compunction even to tears, and all said they had never
heard before a sermon of such power and efficacy. After mass Sir John
Dalton invited him to dinner. When he entered into the manor he took his
place in a ruined building, and would not enter the hall, according to the
evangelical precept, "When thou art bidden to a wedding sit down in the
lowest room, and when he that hath bidden thee shall see it he will say to
thee, Friend, go up higher;" which was fulfilled in him, for the knight
made him sit at table with his own sons. But he kept such silence at
dinner that he did not speak one word; and when he had eaten sufficiently
he rose before they took away the table and would have departed, but the
knight told him this was contrary to custom, and made him sit down again.
After dinner the knight had some private conversation with him, and being
satisfied that he was not a madman, but really seemed to have the vocation
to a hermit's life, he clothed him at his own cost in a hermit's habit,
and retained him a long time in his own house, giving him a solitary
chamber (_locum mansionis solitariæ_)[108] and providing him with all
necessaries. Our hermit then gave himself up to ascetic discipline and a
contemplative life. He wrote books; he counselled those who came to him.
He did both at the same time; for one afternoon the lady of the house
came to him with many other persons and found him writing very rapidly,
and begged him to stop writing and speak some words of edification to
them; and he began at once and continued to address them for two hours
with admirable exhortations to cultivate virtue and to put away worldly
vanities, and to increase the love of their hearts for God; but at the
same time he went on writing as fast as before. He used to be so absorbed
in prayer that his friends took off his torn cloak, and when it had been
mended put it on him again, without his knowing it. Soon we hear of his
having temptations like those which assailed St. Anthony, the devil
tempting him in the form of a beautiful woman. He was specially desirous
to help recluses and those who required spiritual consolation, and who
were vexed by evil spirits.

At length Lady Dalton died, and (whether as a result of this is not
stated) the hermit left his cell and began to move from place to place.
One time he came near the cell of Dame Margaret, the recluse of Anderby in
Richmondshire, and was told that she was dumb and suffering from some
strange disease, and went to her. And he sat down at the window of the
house of the recluse,[109] and when they had eaten, the recluse felt a
desire to sleep; and being oppressed with sleep her head fell towards the
window at which St. Richard was reclined. And when she had slept a little,
leaning somewhat on Richard, suddenly she was seized with a convulsion,
and awoke with her power of speech restored.

He wrote many works of ascetic and mystical divinity which were greatly
esteemed. The Early English Text Society has published some specimens in
the work from which these notices are gathered, which show that his
reputation as a devotional writer was not undeserved. At length he settled
at Hampole, where was a Cistercian nunnery. Here he died, and in the
church of the nunnery he was buried. We are indebted for the Officium and
Legenda from which we have gathered this outline of his life to the pious
care of the nuns of Hampole, to whom the fame of Richard's sanctity was a
source of great profit and honour. That he had a line of successors in
his anchorage is indicated by the fact hereafter stated (p. 128), that in
1415 A.D., Lord Scrope left by will a bequest to Elizabeth, late servant
to the anchoret of Hampole.

[Illustration: _Sir Launcelot and a Hermit._]

There are indications that these hermitages were sometimes mere bothies of
branches; there is a representation of one, from which we here give a
woodcut, in an illuminated MS. romance of Sir Launcelot, of early
fourteenth-century date (British Museum, Add. 10,293, folio 118 v., date
1316): we have already noticed another of wattled work.[110] There are
also caves[111] here and there in the country which are said by tradition
to have been hermitages: one is described in the _Archæological Journal_,
vol. iv., p. 150. It is a small cave, not easy of access, in the side of a
hill called Carcliff Tor, near Rowsley, a little miserable village not far
from Haddon Hall. In a recess, on the right side as you enter the cave, is
a crucifix about four feet high, sculptured in bold relief in the red grit
rock out of which the cave is hollowed; and close to it, on the right, is
a rude niche, perhaps to hold a lamp.

St. Robert's Chapel, at Knaresborough, Yorkshire, is a very excellent
example of a hermitage.[112] It is hewn out of the rock, at the bottom of
a cliff, in the corner of a sequestered dell. The exterior, a view of
which is given below, presents us with a simply arched doorway at the
bottom of the rough cliff, with an arched window on the left, and a little
square opening between, which looks like the little square window of a
recluse. Internally we find the cell sculptured into the fashion of a
little chapel, with a groined ceiling, the groining shafts and ribs well
enough designed, but rather rudely executed. There is a semi-octagonal
apsidal recess at the east end, in which the altar stands; a piscina and a
credence and stone seat in the north wall; a row of sculptured heads in
the south wall, and a grave-stone in the middle of the floor. This chapel
appears to have been also the hermit's living room. The view of the
exterior, and of the interior and ground-plan, are from Carter's "Ancient
Architecture," pl. lxvii. Another hermitage, whose chapel is very similar
to this, is at Warkworth. It is half-way up the cliff, on one side of a
deep, romantic valley, through which runs the river Coquet, overhung with
woods. The chapel is hewn out of the rock, 18 feet long by 7-1/2 wide,
with a little entrance-porch on the south, also hewn in the rock; and, on
the farther side, a long, narrow apartment, with a small altar at the east
end, and a window looking upon the chapel altar. This long apartment was
probably the hermit's living room; but when the Earls of Northumberland
endowed the hermitage for a chantry priest, the priest seems to have lived
in a small house, with a garden attached, at the foot of the cliff. The
chapel is groined, and has Gothic windows, very like that of
Knaresborough. A minute description of this hermitage, and of the legend
connected with it, is given in a poem called "The History of Warkworth"
(4to, 1775), and in a letter in Grose's "Antiquities," vol. iii., is a
ground-plan of the chapel and its appurtenances. A view of the exterior,
showing its picturesque situation, will be found in Herne's "Antiquities
of Great Britain," pl. 9.

[Illustration: _Exterior View of St. Robert's Chapel, Knaresborough._]

[Illustration: _Interior View of St. Robert's Chapel._]

There is a little cell, or oratory, called the hermitage, cut out of the
face of a rock near Dale Abbey, Derbyshire. On the south side are the door
and three windows; at the east end, an altar standing upon a raised
platform, both cut out of the rock; there are little niches in the walls,
and a stone seat all round.[113]

There is another hermitage of three cells at Wetheral, near Carlisle,
called Wetheral Safeguard, or St. Constantine's Cells--Wetheral Priory was
dedicated to St. Constantine, and this hermitage seems to have belonged to
the priory. It is not far from Wetheral Priory, in the face of a rock
standing 100 feet perpendicularly out of the river Eden, which washes its
base; the hill rising several hundred feet higher still above this rocky
escarpment. The hermitage is at a height of 40 feet from the river, and
can only be approached from above by a narrow and difficult path down the
face of the precipice. It consists of three square cells, close together,
about 10 feet square and 8 feet high; each with a short passage leading to
it, which increases its total length to about 20 feet. These passages
communicate with a little platform of rock in front of the cells. At a
lower level than this platform, by about 7 feet, there is a narrow gallery
built up of masonry; the door to the hermitage is at one end of it, so
that access to the cells can only be obtained by means of a ladder from
this gallery to the platform of rock 7 feet above it. In the front of the
gallery are three windows, opposite to the three cells, to give them
light, and one chimney. An engraving will be found in Hutchinson's
"History of Cumberland," vol. i. p. 160, which shows the picturesque
scene--the rocky hill-side, with the river washing round its base, and the
three windows of the hermitage, half-way up, peeping through the foliage;
there is also a careful plan of the cells in the letterpress.

[Illustration: _Ground-Plan of St. Robert's Chapel._]

A chapel, and a range of rooms--which communicate with one another, and
form a tolerably commodious house of two floors, are excavated out of a
rocky hill-side, called Blackstone Rock, which forms the bank of the
Severn, near Bewdley, Worcestershire. A view of the exterior of the rock,
and a plan and section of the chambers, are given both in Stukeley's
"Itinerarium Curiosum," pls. 13 and 14, and in Nash's "History of
Worcestershire," vol. ii. p. 48.


At Lenton, near Nottingham, there is a chapel and a range of cells
excavated out of the face of a semicircular sweep of rock, which crops out
on the bank of the river Leen. The river winds round the other semicircle,
leaving a space of greensward between the rock and the river, upon which
the cells open. Now, the whole place is enclosed, and used as a public
garden and bowling-green, its original features being, however, preserved
with a praiseworthy appreciation of their interest. In former days this
hermitage was just within the verge of the park of the royal castle of
Nottingham; it was doubtless screened by the trees of the park; and its
inmates might pace to and fro on their secluded grass-plot, fenced in by
the rock and the river from every intruding foot, and yet in full view of
the walls and towers of the castle, with the royal banner waving from its
keep, and catch a glimpse of the populous borough, and see the parties of
knights and ladies prance over the level meadows which stretched out to
the neighbouring Trent like a green carpet, embroidered in spring and
autumn by the purple crocus, which grows wild there in myriads. Stukeley,
in his "Itinerarium Curiosum," pl. 39, gives a view and ground-plan of
these curious cells. Carter also figures them in his "Ancient
Architecture," pl. 12, and gives details of a Norman shaft and arch in the

But nearly all the hermitages which we read of in the romances, or see
depicted in the illuminations and paintings, or find noticed in ancient
historical documents, are substantial buildings of stone or timber. Here
is one from folio 56 of the "History of Launcelot" (Add. 10,293): the
hermit stands at the door of his house, giving his parting benediction to
Sir Launcelot, who, with his attendant physician, is taking his leave
after a night's sojourn at the hermitage. In the paintings of the Campo
Santo, at Pisa (engraved in Mrs. Jameson's "Sacred and Legendary Art"),
which represent the hermits of the Egyptian desert, some of the hermitages
are caves, some are little houses of stone. In Caxton's "Vitas Patrum" the
hermitages are little houses; one has a stepped gable; another is like a
gateway, with a room over it.[114] They were founded and built, and often
endowed, by the same men who founded chantries, and built churches, and
endowed monasteries; and from the same motives of piety, charity, or
superstition. And the founders seem often to have retained the patronage
of the hermitages, as of valuable benefices, in their own hands.[115] A
hermitage was, in fact, a miniature monastery, inhabited by one
religious, who was abbot, and prior, and convent, all in one: sometimes
also by a chaplain,[116] where the hermit was not a priest, and by several
lay brethren, _i.e._ servants. It had a chapel of its own, in which divine
service was performed daily. It had also the apartments necessary for the
accommodation of the hermit, and his chaplain--when one lived in the
hermitage--and his servants, and the necessary accommodation for
travellers besides; and it had often, perhaps generally, its court-yard
and garden.

The chapel of the hermitage seems not to have been appropriated solely to
the performance of divine offices, but to have been made useful for other
more secular purposes also. Indeed, the churches and chapels in the Middle
Ages seem often to have been used for great occasions of a semi-religious
character, when a large apartment was requisite, _e.g._ for holding
councils, for judicial proceedings, and the like. Godric of Finchale, a
hermit who lived about the time of Henry II.,[117] had two chapels
adjoining his cell; one he called by the name of St. John Baptist, the
other after the Blessed Virgin. He had a kind of common room, "communis
domus," in which he cooked his food and saw visitors; but he lived
chiefly, day and night, in the chapel of St. John, removing his bed to the
chapel of St. Mary at times of more solemn devotion.

In an illumination on folio 153 of the "History of Launcelot," already
quoted (British Mus., Add. 10,293), is a picture of King Arthur taking
counsel with a hermit in his hermitage. The building in which they are
seated has a nave and aisles, a rose-window in its gable, and a
bell-turret, and seems intended to represent the chapel of the hermitage.
Again, at folio 107 of the same MS. is a picture of a hermit talking to a
man, with the title,--"Ensi y come une hermites prole en une chapele de
son hermitage,"--"How a hermit conversed in the chapel of his hermitage."
It may, perhaps, have been in the chapel that the hermit received those
who sought his counsel on spiritual or on secular affairs.

In addition to the references which have already been given to
illustrations of the subject in the illuminations of MSS., we call the
special attention of the student to a series of pictures illustrating a
mediæval story of which a hermit is the hero, in the late thirteenth
century MS. Royal 10 E IV.; it begins at folio 113 v., and runs on for
many pages, and is full of interesting passages.

We also add a few lines from Lydgate's unpublished "Life of St Edmund," as
a typical picture of a hermit, drawn in the second quarter of the
fifteenth century:--

  "--holy Ffremund though he were yonge of age,
   And ther he bilte a litel hermitage
   Be side a ryver with al his besy peyne,
   He and his fellawis that were in nombre tweyne.

  "A litel chapel he dide ther edifie,
   Day be day to make in his praiere,
   In the reverence only off Marie
   And in the worshipe of her Sone deere,
   And the space fully off sevene yeere
   Hooly Ffremund, lik as it is founde,
   Leved be frut and rootes off the grounde.

  "Off frutes wilde, his story doth us telle,
   Was his repast penance for t' endure,
   To stanch his thurst drank water off the welle
   And eet acorns to sustene his nature,
   Kernelles off notis [nuts] when he myhte hem recure.
   To God alway doying reverence,
   What ever he sent took it in patience."

And in concluding this chapter let us call to mind Spenser's description
of a typical hermit and hermitage, while the originals still lingered in
the living memory of the people:--

  "At length they chaunst to meet upon the way
   An aged sire, in long blacke weedes yclad,
   His feet all bare, his head all hoarie gray,
   And by his belt his booke he hanging had;
   Sober he seemde, and very sagely sad,
   And to the ground his eyes were lowly bent,
   Simple in shew, and voide of malice bad;
   And all the way he prayed as he went,
   And often knockt his brest as one that did repent.

  "He faire the knight saluted, louting low,
   Who faire him quited, as that courteous was;
   And after asked him if he did know
   Of strange adventures which abroad did pas.
   'Ah! my dear sonne,' quoth he, 'how should, alas!
   Silly[118] old man, that lives in hidden cell,
   Bidding his beades all day for his trespas,
   Tidings of war and worldly trouble tell?
   With holy father sits not with such things to mell.'[119]

      *       *       *       *       *

   Quoth then that aged man, 'The way to win
   Is wisely to advise. Now day is spent,
   Therefore with me ye may take up your in
   For this same night.' The knight was well content;
   So with that godly father to his home he went.

  "A little lowly hermitage it was,
   Down in a dale, hard by a forest's side,
   Far from resort of people that did pass
   In traveill to and froe; a little wyde
   There was an holy chappell edifyde,
   Wherein the hermite dewly wont to say
   His holy things, each morne and eventyde;
   Hereby a chrystall streame did gently play,
   Which from a sacred fountaine welled forth alway.

  "Arrived there, the little house they fill;
   Ne look for entertainment where none was;
   Rest is their feast, and all things at their will:
   The noblest mind the best contentment has.
   With fair discourse the evening so they pas;
   For that old man of pleasing words had store,
   And well could file his tongue as smooth as glas;
   He told of saintes and popes, and evermore
   He strowd an Ave-Mary after and before."[120]
                      _Faery Queen_, i. 1, 29, 33, 34, 35.



And now we proceed to speak more particularly of the recluses. The old
legend tells us that John the Hermit, the contemporary of St. Anthony,
would hold communication with no man except through the window of his
cell.[121] But the recluses of more modern days were not content to quote
John the Egyptian as their founder. As the Carmelite friars claimed
Elijah, so the recluses, at least the female recluses, looked up to Judith
as the foundress of their mode of life, and patroness of their order.

Mabillon tells us that the first who made any formal rule for recluses was
one Grimlac, who lived about 900 A.D. The principal regulations of his
rule are, that the candidate for reclusion, if a monk, should signify his
intention a year beforehand, and during the interval should continue to
live among his brethren. If not already a monk, the period of probation
was doubled. The leave of the bishop of the diocese was to be first
obtained, and if the candidate were a monk, the leave of his abbot and
convent also. When he had entered his cell, the bishop was to put his seal
upon the door, which was never again to be opened,[122] unless for the
help of the recluse in time of sickness or on the approach of death.
Successive councils published canons to regulate this kind of life. That
of Millo, in 692, repeats in substance the rule of Grimlac. That of
Frankfort, in 787, refers to the recluses. The synod of Richard de la
Wich, Bishop of Chichester, A.D. 1246, makes some canons concerning them:
"Also we ordain to recluses that they shall not receive or keep any person
in their houses concerning whom any sinister suspicion might arise. Also
that they have narrow and proper windows; and we permit them to have
secret communication with those persons only whose gravity and honesty do
not admit of suspicion."[123]

Towards the end of the twelfth century a rule for anchorites was written
by Bishop Richard Poore[124] of Chichester, and afterwards of Salisbury,
who died A.D. 1237, which throws abundant light upon their mode of life;
for it is not merely a brief code of the regulations obligatory upon them,
but it is a book of paternal counsels, which enters at great length, and
in minute detail, into the circumstances of the recluse life, and will be
of great use to us in the subsequent part of this chapter.

There were doubtless different degrees of austerity among the recluses;
but, on the whole, we must banish from our minds the popular[125] idea
that they inhabited a living grave, and lived a life of the extremest
mortification. Doubtless there were instances in which religious
enthusiasm led the recluse into frightful and inhuman self-torture, like
that of Thaysis, in the "Golden Legend:" "She went to the place whiche th'
abbot had assygned to her, and there was a monasterye of vyrgyns; and
there he closed her in a celle, and sealed the door with led. And the
celle was lytyll and strayte, and but one lytell wyndowe open, by whyche
was mynistred to her poor lyvinge; for the abbot commanded that they shold
gyve to her a lytell brede and water."[126] Thaysis submitted to it at the
command of Abbot Pafnucius, as penance for a sinful life, in the early
days of Egyptian austerity; and now and then throughout the subsequent
ages the self-hatred of an earnest, impassioned nature, suddenly roused to
a feeling of exceeding sinfulness; the remorse of a wild, strong spirit,
conscious of great crimes; or the enthusiasm of a weak mind and morbid
conscience, might urge men and women to such self-revenges, to such
penances, as these. Bishop Poore gives us episodically a pathetic example,
which our readers will thank us for repeating here. "Nothing is ever so
hard that love doth not make tender, and soft, and sweet. Love maketh all
things easy. What do men and women endure for false love, and would endure
more! And what is more to be wondered at is, that love which is faithful
and true, and sweeter than any other love, doth not overmaster us as doth
sinful love! Yet I know a man who weareth at the same time both a heavy
cuirass[127] and haircloth, bound with iron round the middle too, and his
arms with broad and thick bands, so that to bear the sweat of it is severe
suffering. He fasteth, he watcheth, he laboureth, and, Christ knoweth, he
complaineth, and saith that it doth not oppress him; and often asks me to
teach him something wherewith he might give his body pain. God knoweth
that he, the most sorrowful of men, weepeth to me, and saith that God hath
quite forgotten him, because He sendeth him no great sickness; whatever is
bitter seems sweet to him for our Lord's sake. God knoweth love doth this,
because, as he often saith to me, he could never love God the less for any
evil thing that He might do to him, even were He to cast him into hell
with those that perish. And if any believe any such thing of him, he is
more confounded than a thief taken with his theft. I know also a woman of
like mind that suffereth little less. And what remaineth but to thank God
for the strength that He giveth them; and let us humbly acknowledge our
own weakness, and love their merit, and thus it becomes our own. For as
St. Gregory says, love is of so great power that it maketh the merit of
others our own, without labour." But though powerful motives and great
force of character might enable an individual here and there to persevere
with such austerities, when the severities of the recluse life had to be
reduced to rule and system, and when a succession of occupants had to be
found for the vacant anchorholds, ordinary human nature revolted from
these unnatural austerities, and the common sense of mankind easily
granted a tacit dispensation from them; and the recluse life was speedily
toned down in practice to a life which a religiously-minded person,
especially one who had been wounded and worsted in the battle of life,
might gladly embrace and easily endure.

Usually, even where the cell consisted of a single room, it was large
enough for the comfortable abode of a single inmate, and it was not
destitute of such furnishing as comfort required. But it was not unusual
for the cell to be in fact a house of several apartments, with a garden
attached: and it would seem that the technical "cell" within which the
recluse was immured, included house and garden, and everything within the
boundary wall.[128] It is true that many of the recluses lived entirely,
and perhaps all partly, upon the alms of pious and charitable people. An
alms-box was hung up to receive contributions, as appears from "Piers

  "In ancres there a box hangeth."

And in the extracts hereafter given from the "Ancren Riewle," we shall
find several allusions to the giving of alms to recluses as a usual
custom. But it was the bishop's duty, before giving license for the
building of a reclusorium, to satisfy himself that there would be, either
from alms or from an endowment, a sufficient maintenance for the recluse.
Practically, they do not seem often to have been in want; they were
restricted as to the times when they might eat flesh-meat, but otherwise
their abstemiousness depended upon their own religious feeling on the
subject; and the only check upon excess was in their own moderation. They
occupied themselves, besides their frequent devotions, in reading,
writing, illuminating, and needlework; and though the recluses attached to
some monasteries seem to have been under an obligation of silence, yet in
the usual case the recluse held a perpetual levee at the open window, and
gossiping and scandal appear to have been among her besetting sins. It
will be our business to verify and further to illustrate this general
sketch of the recluse life.

[Illustration: _Sir Percival at the Reclusorium._]

And, first, let us speak more in detail of their habitations. The
reclusorium, or anchorhold, seems sometimes to have been, like the
hermitage, a house of timber or stone, or a grotto in a solitary place. In
Sir T. Mallory's "Prince Arthur" we are introduced to one of these, which
afforded all the appliances for lodging and entertaining even male guests.
We read:--"Sir Percival returned again unto the recluse, where he deemed
to have tidings of that knight which Sir Launcelot followed. And so he
kneeled at her window, and anon the recluse opened it, and asked Sir
Percival what he would. 'Madam,' said he, 'I am a knight of King Arthur's
court, and my name is Sir Percival de Galis.' So when the recluse heard
his name, she made passing great joy of him, for greatly she loved him
before all other knights of the world; and so of right she ought to do,
for she was his aunt. And then she commanded that the gates should be
opened to him, and then Sir Percival had all the cheer that she might make
him, and all that was in her power was at his commandment." But it does
not seem that she entertained him in person; for the story continues that
"on the morrow Sir Percival went unto the recluse," _i.e._, to her little
audience-window, to propound his question, "if she knew that knight with
the white shield." Opposite is a woodcut of a picture in the MS. "History
of Sir Launcelot" (Royal 14, E. III. folio 101 v.), entitled, "Ensi q
Percheva retourna à la rencluse qui estait en son hermitage."[129]

In the case of these large remote anchorholds, the recluse must have had a
chaplain to come and say mass for her every day in the chapel of her
hermitage.[130] But in the vast majority of cases, anchorholds were
attached to a church either of a religious house, or of a town, or of a
village; and in these situations they appear to have been much more
numerous than is at all suspected by those who have not inquired into this
little-known portion of our mediæval antiquities. Very many of our village
churches had a recluse living within or beside them, and it will, perhaps,
especially surprise the majority of our readers to learn that these
recluses were specially numerous in the mediæval towns.[131] The proofs of
this fact are abundant; here are some. Henry, Lord Scrope, of Masham, by
will, dated 23rd June, 1415, bequeathed to every anchoret[132] and recluse
dwelling in London or its suburbs 6_s._ 8_d._; also to every anchoret and
recluse dwelling in York and its suburbs 6_s._ 8_d._ From other sources we
learn more about these York anchorets and recluses. The will of Adam
Wigan, rector of St. Saviour, York (April 20, 1433, A.D.)[133], leaves
3_s._ 4_d._ to Dan John, who dwelt in the Chapel of St. Martin, within the
parish of St. Saviour. The female recluses of York were three in number in
the year 1433, as we learn from the will of Margaret, relict of Nicholas
Blackburne:[134] "Lego tribus reclusis Ebor.," ij_s._ Where their cells
were situated we learn from the will of Richard Rupell (A.D. 1435[135]),
who bequeaths to the recluse in the cemetery of the Church of St.
Margaret, York, five marks; and to the recluse in the cemetery of St.
Helen, in Fishergate, five marks; and to the recluse in the cemetery of
All Saints, in North Street, York, five marks. They are also all three
mentioned in the will of Adam Wigan, who leaves to the anchorite enclosed
in Fishergate 2_s._; to her enclosed near the church of St. Margaret
2_s._; to her enclosed in North Street, near the Church of All Saints,
2_s._ The will of Lady Margaret Stapelton, 1465 A.D.,[136] mentions
anchorites in Watergate and Fishergate, in the suburbs of York, and in
another place the anchorite of the nunnery of St. Clement, York. At
Lincoln, also, we are able to trace a similar succession of anchoresses.
In 1383 A.D., William de Belay, of Lincoln, left to an anchoress named
Isabella, who dwelt in the Church of the Holy Trinity, in Wigford, within
the city of Lincoln, 13_s._ 4_d._ In 1391, John de Sutton left her 20_s._;
in 1374, John de Ramsay left her 12_d._ Besides these she had numerous
other legacies from citizens. In 1453, an anchoress named Matilda supplied
the place of Isabella, who we may suppose had long since gone to her
reward. In that year John Tilney--one of the Tilneys of Boston--left
"Domine Matilde incluse infra ecclesiam sanctæ Trinitatis ad gressus in
civitate Lincoln, vj_s._ viij_d._" In 1502, Master John Watson, a chaplain
in Master Robert Flemyng's chantry, left xij_d._ to the "ankers" at the
Greese foot. This Church of the Holy Trinity "ad gressus" seems to have
been for a long period the abode of a female recluse.[137] The will of
Roger Eston, rector of Richmond, Yorkshire, A.D. 1446, also mentions the
recluses in the city of York and its suburbs. The will of Adam Wilson
also mentions Lady Agnes, enclosed at (_apud_) the parish church of
Thorganby, and anchorites (female) at Beston and Pontefract. Sir Hugh
Willoughby, of Wollaton, in 1463 bequeathed 6_s._ 5_d._ to the anchoress
of Nottingham.[138] The will of Lady Joan Wombewell, A.D. 1454,[139] also
mentions the anchoress of Beyston. The will of John Brompton, of Beverley,
A.D. 1444,[140] bequeaths 3_s._ 4_d._ to the recluse by the Church of St.
Giles, and 1_s._ 6_d._ to anchorite at the friary of St. Nicholas of
Beverley. Roger Eston also leaves a bequest to the anchorite of his parish
of Richmond, respecting whom the editor gives a note whose substance is
given elsewhere. In a will of the fifteenth century[141] we have a bequest
"to the ancher in the wall beside Bishopsgate, London."[142] In the will
of St. Richard, Bishop of Chichester,[143] we have bequests to Friar
Humphrey, the recluse of Pageham, to the recluse of Hogton, to the recluse
of Stopeham, to the recluse of Herringham; and in the will of Walter de
Suffield, Bishop of Norwich, bequests to "anchers" and recluses in his
diocese, and especially to his niece Ela, _in reclusorio_ at

Among the other notices which we have of solitaries living in towns,
Lydgate mentions one in the town of Wakefield. Morant says there was one
in Holy Trinity churchyard, Colchester. The episcopal registers of
Lichfield show that there was an anchorage for several female recluses in
the churchyard of St. George's Chapel, Shrewsbury. The will of Henry, Lord
Scrope, already quoted, leaves 100_s._ and the pair of beads which the
testator was accustomed to use to the anchorite of Westminster: it was his
predecessor, doubtless, who is mentioned in the time of Richard II.: when
the young king was going to meet Wat Tyler in Smithfield, he went to
Westminster Abbey, "then to the church, and so to the high altar, where he
devoutedly prayed and offered; after which he spake with the anchore, to
whom he confessed himself."[145] Lord Scrope's will goes on to bequeath
40_s._ to Robert, the recluse of Beverley; 13_s._ 4_d._ each to the
anchorets of Stafford, of Kurkebeck, of Wath, of Peasholme, near York, of
Kirby, Thorganby, near Colingworth, of Leek, near Upsale, of Gainsburgh,
of Kneesall, near South Well, of Dartford, of Stamford, living in the
parish church there; to Thomas, the chaplain dwelling continually in the
church of St. Nicholas, Gloucester; to Elizabeth, late servant to the
anchoret of Hamphole; and to the recluse in the house of the Dominicans at
Newcastle; and also 6_s._ 8_d._ to every other anchorite and anchoritess
that could be easily found within three months of his decease.

We have already had occasion to mention that there were several female
recluses, in addition to the male solitaries, in the churchyards of the
then great city of Norwich. The particulars which that laborious
antiquary, Blomfield, has collected together respecting several of them
will throw a little additional light upon our subject, and fill up still
further the outlines of the picture which we are engaged in painting.

There was a hermitage in the churchyard of St. Julian, Norwich, which was
inhabited by a succession of anchoresses, some of whose names Blomfield
records:--Dame Agnes, in 1472; Dame Elizabeth Scot, in 1481; Lady
Elizabeth, in 1510; Dame Agnes Edrigge, in 1524. The Lady Julian, who was
the anchoress in 1393, is said to have had two servants to attend her in
her old age. "She was esteemed of great holiness. Mr. Francis Peck had a
vellum MS. containing an account of her visions." Blomfield says that the
foundations of the anchorage might still be seen in his time, on the east
side of St. Julian's churchyard. There was also an anchorage in St.
Ethelred's churchyard, which was rebuilt in 1305, and an anchor
continually dwelt there till the Reformation, when it was pulled down, and
the grange, or tithe-barn, at Brakendale was built with its timber; so
that it must have been a timber house of some magnitude. Also in St.
Edward's churchyard, joining to the church on the north side, was a cell,
whose ruins were still visible in Blomfield's time, and most persons who
died in Norwich left small sums towards its maintenance. In 1428 Lady
Joan was anchoress here, to whom Walter Ledman left 20_s._, and 40_d._ to
each of her servants. In 1458, Dame Anneys Kite was the recluse here; in
1516, Margaret Norman, widow, was buried here, and gave a legacy to the
lady anchoress by the church. St. John the Evangelist's Church, in
Southgate, was, about A.D. 1300, annexed to the parish of St. Peter per
Montergate, and the Grey Friars bought the site; they pulled down the
whole building, except a small part left for an anchorage, in which they
placed an anchor, to whom they assigned part of the churchyard for his
garden. Also there used anciently to be a recluse dwelling in a little
cell joining to the north side of the tower of St. John the Baptist's
Church, Timber Hill, but it was down before the Dissolution. Also there
was an anchor, or hermit, who had an anchorage in or adjoining to All
Saints' Church. Also in Henry III.'s time a recluse dwelt in the
churchyard of St. John the Baptist, and the Holy Sepulchre, in Ber Street.
In the monastery of the Carmelites, or White Friars, at Norwich, there
were two anchorages--one for a man, who was admitted brother of the house,
and another for a woman, who was admitted sister thereof. The latter was
under the chapel of the Holy Cross, which was still standing in
Blomfield's time, though converted into dwelling-houses. The former stood
by St. Martin's Bridge, on the east side of the street, and had a small
garden to it, which ran down to the river. In 1442, December 2nd, the Lady
Emma, recluse, or anchoress, and religious sister of the Carmelite order,
was buried in their church. In 1443, Thomas Scroope was anchorite in this
house. In 1465, Brother John Castleacre, a priest, was anchorite. In 1494
there were legacies given to the anchor of the White Friars. This Thomas
Scroope was originally a Benedictine monk; in 1430 he became anchorite
here (being received a brother of the Carmelite order), and led an
anchorite's life for many years, seldom going out of his cell but when he
preached; about 1446 Pope Eugenius made him Bishop of Down, which see he
afterwards resigned, and came again to his convent, and became suffragan
to the Bishop of Norwich. He died, and was buried at Lowestoft, being near
a hundred years old.

The document which we are about to quote from Whittaker's "History of
Whalley" (pp. 72 and 77), illustrates many points in the history of their
anchorholds. The anchorage therein mentioned was built in a parish
churchyard, it depended upon a monastery, and was endowed with an
allowance in money and kind from the monastery; it was founded for two
recluses; they had a chaplain and servants; and the patronage was retained
by the founder. The document will also give us some very curious and
minute details of the domestic economy of the recluse life; and, lastly,
it will give us an historical proof that the assertions of the
contemporary satirists, of the laxity[146] with which the vows were
sometimes kept, were not without foundation.

"In 1349, Henry, Duke of Lancaster, granted in trust to the abbot and
convent of Whalley rather large endowments to support two recluses (women)
in a certain place within the churchyard of the parish church of Whalley,
and two women servants to attend them, there to pray for the soul of the
duke, &c.; to find them seventeen ordinary loaves, and seven inferior
loaves, eight gallons of better beer, and 3_d._ per week; and yearly ten
large stock-fish, one bushel of oatmeal, one of rye, two gallons of oil
for lamps, one pound of tallow for candles, six loads of turf, and one
load of faggots; also to repair their habitations; and to find a chaplain
to say mass in the chapel of these recluses daily; their successors to be
nominated by the duke and his heirs. On July 6, 15th Henry VI., the king
nominated Isole de Heton, widow, to be an _anachorita_ for life, _in loco
ad hoc ordinato juxta ecclesiam parochialem de Whalley_. Isole, however,
grew tired of the solitary life, and quitted it; for afterwards a
representation was made to the king that 'divers that had been anchores
and recluses in the seyd place aforetyme, have broken oute of the seyd
place wherein they were reclusyd, and departyd therefrom wythout any
reconsilyation;' and that Isole de Heton had broken out two years before,
and was not willing to return; and that divers of the women that had been
servants there had been with child. So Henry VI. dissolved the hermitage,
and appointed instead two chaplains to say mass daily, &c." Whittaker
thinks that the hermitage occupied the site of some cottages on the west
side of the churchyard, which opened into the churchyard until he had the
doors walled up.

There was a similar hermitage for several female recluses in the
churchyard of St. Romauld, Shrewsbury, as we learn from a document among
the Bishop of Lichfield's registers,[147] in which he directs the Dean of
St. Chadd, or his procurator, to enclose Isolda de Hungerford an anchorite
in the houses of the churchyard of St. Romauld, where the other anchorites
dwell. Also in the same registry there is a precept, dated Feb. 1, 1310,
from Walter de Langton, Bishop, to Emma Sprenghose, admitting her an
anchorite in the houses of the churchyard of St. George's Chapel, Salop,
and he appoints the archdeacon to enclose her. Another license from Roger,
Bishop of Lichfield, dated 1362, to Robert de Worthin, permitting him, on
the nomination of Queen Isabella, to serve God in the reclusorium built
adjoining (_juxta_) the chapel of St. John Baptist in the city of
Coventry, has been published _in extenso_ by Dugdale, and we transcribe it
for the benefit of the curious.[148] Thomas Hearne has printed an
Episcopal Commission, dated 1402, for enclosing John Cherde, a monk of
Ford Abbey. Burnett's "History of Bristol" mentions a commission opened by
Bishop William of Wykham, in August, 1403, for enclosing Lucy de
Newchurch, an anchoritess in the hermitage of St. Brendon in Bristol.
Richard Francis, an ankret, is spoken of as _inter quatuor parietes pro
christi inclusus_ in Langtoft's "Chronicle," ij. 625.



Just as in a monastery, though it might be large or small in magnitude,
simple or gorgeous in style, with more or fewer offices and appendages,
according to the number and wealth of the establishment, yet there was
always a certain suite of conventual buildings, church, chapter refectory,
dormitory, &c., arranged in a certain order, which formed the cloister;
and this cloister was the nucleus of all the rest of the buildings of the
establishment; so, in a reclusorium, or anchorhold, there was always a
"cell" of a certain construction, to which all things else, parlours or
chapels, apartments for servants and guests, yards and gardens, were
accidental appendages. Bader's rule for recluses in Bavaria[149] describes
the dimensions and plan of the cell minutely; the _domus inclusi_ was to
be 12 feet long by as many broad, and was to have three windows--one
towards the choir (of the church to which it was attached), through which
he might receive the Holy Sacrament; another on the opposite side, through
which he might receive his victuals; and a third to give light, which last
ought always to be closed with glass or horn.

The reader will have already gathered from the preceding extracts that the
reclusorium was sometimes a house of timber or stone within the
churchyard, and most usually adjoining the church itself. At the west end
of Laindon Church, Essex, there is a unique erection of timber, of which
we here give a representation. It has been modernised in appearance by
the insertion of windows and doors; and there are no architectural details
of a character to reveal with certainty its date, but in its mode of
construction--the massive timbers being placed close together--and in its
general appearance, there is an air of considerable antiquity. It is
improbable that a house would be erected in such a situation after the
Reformation, and it accords generally with the descriptions of a recluse
house. Probably, however, many of the anchorholds attached to churches
were of smaller dimensions; sometimes, perhaps, only a single little
timber apartment on the ground floor, or sometimes probably raised upon an
under croft, according to a common custom in mediæval domestic buildings.
Very probably some of those little windows which occur in many of our
churches, in various situations, at various heights, and which, under the
name of "low side windows," have formed the subject of so much discussion
among ecclesiologists, may have been the windows of such anchorholds. The
peculiarity of these windows is that they are sometimes merely a square
opening, which originally was not glazed, but closed with a shutter;
sometimes a small glazed window, in a position where it was clearly not
intended to light the church generally; sometimes a window has a stone
transom across, and the upper part is glazed, while the lower part is
closed only by a shutter. It is clear that some of these may have served
to enable the anchorite, living in a cell _outside_ the church, to see the
altar. It seems to have been such a window which is alluded to in the
following incident from Mallory's "Prince Arthur:"--"Then Sir Launcelot
armed him and took his horse, and as he rode that way he saw a chapel
where was a recluse, which had a window that she might see up to the
altar; and all aloud she called Sir Launcelot, because he seemed a knight
arrant.... And (after a long conversation) she commanded Launcelot to
dinner." In the late thirteenth-century MS., Royal 10 E. IV. at f. 181, is
a representation of a recluse-house, in which, besides two two-light
arched windows high up in the wall, there is a smaller square "low side
window" very distinctly shown. Others of these low side windows may have
been for the use of wooden anchorholds built _within_ the church,
combining two of the usual three windows of the cell, viz., the one to
give light, and the one through which to receive food and communicate
with the outer world. There is an anchorhold still remaining in a
tolerably unmutilated state at Rettenden, Essex. It is a stone building of
fifteenth-century date, of two stories, adjoining the north side of the
chancel. It is entered by a rather elaborately moulded doorway from the
chancel. The lower story is now used as a vestry, and is lighted by a
modern window broken through its east wall; but it is described as having
been a dark room, and there is no trace of any original window. In the
north wall, and towards the east, is a bracket, such as would hold a small
statue or a lamp. In the west side of this room, on the left immediately
on entering it from the chancel, is the door of a stone winding stair
(built up in the nave aisle, but now screened towards the aisle by a very
large monument), which gives access to the upper story. This story
consists of a room which very exactly agrees with the description of a
recluse's cell (see opposite woodcut). On the south side are two arched
niches, in which are stone benches, and the back of the easternmost of
these niches is pierced by a small arched window, now blocked up, which
looked down upon the altar. On the north side is a chimney, now filled
with a modern fireplace, but the chimney is a part of the original
building; and westward of the chimney is a small square opening, now
filled with modern glazing, but the hook upon which the original shutter
hung still remains. This window is not splayed in the usual mediæval
manner, but is recessed in such a way as to allow the head of a person to
look out, and especially down, with facility. On the exterior this window
is about 10 feet from the ground. In this respect it resembles the
situation of a low side window in Prior Crawden's Chapel, Ely
Cathedral,[150] which is on the first floor, having a room, lighted only
by narrow slits, beneath it; and at the Sainte Chapelle, in Paris, which
also has an undercroft, there is a similar example of a side window, at a
still greater height from the ground. The east side of the Rettenden
reclusorium has now a modern window, probably occupying the place of the
original window which gave light to the cell. The stair-turret at the top
of the winding staircase, seems to have been intended to serve for a
little closet: it obtained some light through a small loop which looked
out into the north aisle of the church; the wall on the north side of it
is recessed so as to form a shelf, and a square slab of stone, which looks
like a portion of a thirteenth-century coffin-stone, is laid upon the top
of the newel, and fitted into the wall, so as to form another shelf or
little table.

[Illustration: _Laindon Church, Essex._]

[Illustration: _Reclusorium, or Anchorhold, at Rettenden, Essex._]

At East Horndon Church, Essex, there are two transept-like projections
from the nave. In the one on the south there is a monumental niche in the
south wall, upon the back of which are the indents of the brasses of a man
and wife and several children; and there is a tradition, with which these
indents are altogether inconsistent, that the heart of the unfortunate
Queen Anne Bullen is interred therein. Over this is a chamber, open to the
nave, and now used as a gallery, approached by a modern wooden stair; and
there is a projection outside which looks like a chimney, carried out from
this floor upwards. The transeptal projection on the north side is very
similar in plan. On the ground floor there is a wide, shallow, cinque-foil
headed niche (partly blocked) in the east wall; and there is a wainscot
ceiling, very neatly divided into rectangular panels by moulded ribs of
the date of about Henry VIII. The existence of the chamber above was
unknown until the present rector discovered a doorway in the east wall of
the ground floor, which, on being opened, gave access to a stone staircase
behind the east wall, which led up into a first-floor chamber, about 12
feet from east to west, and 8 feet from north to south: the birds had had
access to it through an unglazed window in the north wall for an unknown
period, and it was half filled with their nests; the floor planks were
quite decayed. There is no trace of a chimney here. It is now opened out
to the nave to form a gallery. Though we do not find in these two
first-floor chambers the arrangements which could satisfy us that they
were recluse cells, yet it is very probable that they were habitable
chambers, inhabited, if not by recluses, perhaps by chantry priests,
serving chantry chapels of the Tyrrells.

Mr. M. H. Bloxam, in an interesting paper in the Transactions of the
Lincoln Diocesan Architectural Society, mentions several other
anchorholds:--"Adjoining the little mountain church of S. Patricio, about
five miles from Crickhowel, South Wales, is an attached building or cell.
It contains on the east side a stone altar, above which is a small
window, now blocked up, which looked towards the altar of the church; but
there was no other internal communication between this cell and the
church, to the west end of which it is annexed; it appears as if destined
for a recluse who was also a priest." Mr. Bloxam mentions some other
examples, very much resembling the one described at Rettenden. The north
transept of Clifton Campville Church, Staffordshire, a structure of the
fourteenth century, is vaulted and groined with stone; it measures 17 feet
from north to south, and 12 feet from east to west. Over this is a loft or
chamber, apparently an anchorhold or _domus inclusi_, access to which is
obtained by means of a newell staircase in the south-east angle, from a
doorway at the north-east angle of the chancel. A small window on the
south side of this chamber, now blocked up, afforded a view into the
interior of the church. The roof of this chamber has been lowered, and all
the windows blocked up.

"On the north side of the chancel of Chipping Norton Church, Oxfordshire,
is a revestry which still contains an ancient stone altar, with its
appurtenances, viz., a piscina in the wall on the north side, and a
bracket for an image projecting from the east wall, north of the altar.
Over this revestry is a loft or chamber, to which access is obtained by
means of a staircase in the north-west angle. Apertures in the wall
enabled the recluse, probably a priest, here dwelling, to overlook the
chancel and north aisle of the church.

"Adjoining the north side of the chancel of Warmington Church,
Warwickshire, is a revestry, entered through an ogee-headed doorway in the
north wall of the chancel, down a descent of three steps. This revestry
contains an ancient stone altar, projecting from a square-headed window in
the east wall, and near the altar, in the same wall, is a piscina. In the
south-west angle of this revestry is a flight of stone steps, leading up
to a chamber or loft. This chamber contains, in the west wall, a
fire-place, in the north-west angle a retiring-closet, or jakes, and in
the south wall a small pointed window, of decorated character, through
which the high-altar in the chancel might be viewed. In the north wall
there appears to have been a pointed window, filled with decorated
tracery, and in the east wall is another decorated window. This is one of
the most interesting and complete specimens of the _domus inclusi_ I have
met with."[151]

The chamber which is so frequently found over the porch of our churches,
often with a fireplace, and sometimes with a closet within it, may
probably have sometimes been inhabited by a recluse. Chambers are also
sometimes found in the towers of churches.[152] Mr. Bloxam mentions a
room, with a fire-place, in the tower of Upton Church, Nottinghamshire.
Again, at Boyton Church, Wiltshire, the tower is on the north side of the
church, "and adjoining the tower on the west side, and communicating with
it, is a room which appears to have been once permanently inhabited, and
in the north-east angle of this room is a fire-place." At Newport, Salop,
the first floor of the tower seems to have been a habitable chamber, and
has a little inner chamber corbelled out at the north-west angle of the

We have already hinted that it is not improbable that timber anchorholds
were sometimes erected inside our churches. Or perhaps the recluse lived
in the church itself, or, more definitely, in a par-closed chantry chapel,
without any chamber being purposely built for him. The indications which
lead us to this supposition are these: there is sometimes an ordinary
domestic fire-place to be found inside the church. For instance, in the
north aisle of Layer Marney Church, Essex, the western part of the aisle
is screened off for the chantry of Lord Marney, whose tomb has the chantry
altar still remaining, set crosswise at the west end of the tomb; in the
eastern division of the aisle there is an ordinary domestic fire-place in
the north wall. There is a similar fire-place, of about the same date, in
Sir Thomas Bullen's church of Hever, in Kent.

Again, we sometimes find beside the low side-windows already spoken of, an
arrangement which shows that it was intended for some one habitually to
sit there. Thus, at Somerton, Oxfordshire, on the north side of the
chancel, is a long and narrow window, with decorated tracery in the head;
the lower part is divided by a thick transom, and does not appear to have
been glazed. In the interior the wall is recessed beside the window, with
a sort of shoulder, exactly adapted to give room for a seat, in such a
position that its occupant would get the full benefit of the light through
the glazed upper part of the little window, and would be in a convenient
position for conversing through the unglazed lower portion of it.

At Elsfield Church, Oxfordshire, there is an early English lancet window,
similarly divided by a transom, the lower part, now blocked up, having
been originally unglazed, and the sill of the window in the interior has
been formed into a stone seat and desk. We reproduce here a view of the
latter from the "Oxford Architectural Society's Guide to the Neighbourhood
of Oxford." Perhaps in such instances as these, the recluse may have been
a priest serving a chantry altar, and licensed, perhaps, to hear
confessions,[153] for which the seat beside the little open window would
be a convenient arrangement. Lord Scrope's will has already told us of a
chaplain dwelling continually (_commoranti continuo_) in the Church of St.
Nicholas, Gloucester, and of an anchorite living in the parish church of
Stamford. There is a low side-window at Mawgan Church, Cornwall. In the
south-east angle between the south transept and the chancel, the inner
angle at the junction of the transept and chancel walls is cut away, from
the floor upwards, to the height of six feet, and laterally about five
feet in south and east directions from the angle. A short octagonal
pillar, six feet high, supports all that remains of the angle of these
walls, whilst the walls themselves rest on two flat segmental arches of
three feet span. A low diagonal wall is built across the angle thus
exposed, and a small lean-to roof is run up from it into the external
angle enclosing a triangular space within. In this wall the low
side-window is inserted. The sill of the window is four feet from the
pavement. Further eastward a priest's door seems to have formed part of
the arrangement. The west jamb of the doorway is cut away so that from
this triangular space and from the transept beyond a view is obtained of
the east window.

[Illustration: _Window, Elsfield Church._]

The position of the low side-windows at Grade, Cury, and Landewednack is
the same as that of Mawgan, but the window itself is different in form,
those at Grade and at Cury being small oblong openings, the former 1 ft. 9
in. by 1 ft. 4 in., the sill only 1 ft. 9 in. from the ground; the latter
is 1 ft. by 11 in., the sill 3 ft. 4 in. from ground. At Landewednack the
window has two lights, square headed, 2 ft. 6 in. by 1 ft. 4 in., sill 4
ft. 3-1/2 in. from ground. A large block of serpentine rock is fixed in
the ground beneath the window in a position convenient for a person
standing but not kneeling at the window.[154]

Knighton gives us some particulars of a recluse priest who lived at
Leicester. "There was," he says, "in those days at Leicester, a certain
priest, hight William of Swynderby, whom they commonly called William the
Hermit, because, for a long time, he had lived the hermitical life there;
they received him into a certain chamber within the church, because of the
holiness they believed to be in him, and they procured for him victuals
and a pension, after the manner of other priests."[155]

In the "Test. Ebor.," p. 244, we find a testator leaving "to the chantry
chapel of Kenby my red vestment, ... also the great missal and the great
portifer, which I bought of Dominus Thomas Cope, priest and anchorite in
that chapel." Blomfield also (ii. 75) tells us of a hermit, who lived in
St. Cuthbert's Church, Thetford, and performed divine service therein.

Who has not, at some time, been deeply impressed by the solemn stillness,
the holy calm, of an empty church? Earthly passions, and cares, and
ambitions, seemed to have died away; one's soul was filled with a
spiritual peace. One stood and listened to the wind surging against the
walls outside, as the waves of the sea may beat against the walls of an
ingulfed temple; and one felt as effectually secluded from the surge and
roar of the worldly life outside the sacred walls, as if in such a temple
at the bottom of the sea. One gazed upon the monumental effigies, with
their hands clasped in an endless prayer, and their passionless marble
faces turned for ages heavenward, and read their mouldering epitaphs, and
moralized on the royal preacher's text--"All is vanity and vexation of
spirit." And then one felt the disposition--and, perhaps, indulged it--to
kneel before the altar, all alone with God, in that still and solemn
church, and pour out one's high-wrought thoughts before Him. At such times
one has probably tasted something of the transcendental charm of the life
of a recluse priest. One could not sustain the tension long. Perhaps the
old recluse, with his experience and his aids, could maintain it for a
longer period. But to him, too, the natural reaction must have come in
time; and then he had his mechanical occupations to fell back
upon--trimming the lamps before the shrines, copying his manuscript, or
illuminating its initial letters; perhaps, for health's sake, he took a
daily walk up and down the aisle of the church, whose walls re-echoed his
measured footfalls; then he had his oft-recurring "hours" to sing, and his
books to read; and, to prevent the long hours which were still left him in
his little par-closed chapel from growing too wearily monotonous, there
came, now and then, a tap at the shutter of his "parlour" window, which
heralded the visit of some poor soul, seeking counsel or comfort in his
difficulties of this world or the next, or some pilgrim bringing news of
distant lands, or some errant knight seeking news of adventures, or some
parishioner come honestly to have a dish of gossip with the holy man,
about the good and evil doings of his neighbours.

There is a pathetic anecdote in Blomfield's "Norfolk," which will show
that the spirit and the tradition of the old recluse priests survived the
Reformation. The Rev. Mr. John Gibbs, formerly rector of Gessing, in that
county, was ejected from his rectory in 1690 as a non-juror. "He was an
odd but harmless man, both in life and conversation. After his ejection he
dwelt in the north porch chamber, and laid on the stairs that led up to
the rood-loft, between the church and chancel, having a window at his
head, so that he could lie in his couch, and see the altar. He lived to be
very old, and was buried at Frenze."

       *       *       *       *       *

Let us turn again to the female recluse, in her anchor-house outside the
church. How was her cell furnished? It had always a little altar at the
east end, before which the recluse paid her frequent devotions, hearing,
besides, the daily mass in church through her window, and receiving the
Holy Sacrament at stated times. Bishop Poore advises his recluses to
receive it only fifteen times a year. The little square unglazed window
was closed with a shutter, and a black curtain with a white cross upon it
also hung before the opening, through which the recluse could converse
without being seen. The walls appear to have been sometimes painted--of
course with devotional subjects. To complete the scene add a comfortable
carved oak chair, and a little table, an embroidery frame, and such like
appliances for needlework; a book of prayers, and another of saintly
legends, not forgetting Bishop Poore's "Ancren Riewle;" a fire on the
hearth in cold weather, and the cat, which Bishop Poore expressly allows,
purring beside it; and lastly paint in the recluse, in her black habit and
veil, seated in her chair; or prostrate before her little altar; or on her
knees beside her church window listening to the chanted mass; or receiving
her basket of food from her servant, through the open parlour window; or
standing before its black curtain, conversing with a stray knight-errant;
or putting her white hand through it, to give an alms to some village
crone or wandering beggar.

A few extracts from Bishop Poore's "Ancren Riewle," already several times
alluded to, will give life to the picture we have painted. Though intended
for the general use of recluses, it seems to have been specially
addressed, in the first instance, to three sisters, who, in the bloom of
youth, forsook the world, and became the tenants of a reclusorium. It
would seem that in such cases each recluse had a separate cell, and did
not communicate, except on rare occasions, with her fellow inmates; and
each had her own separate servant to wait upon her. Here are some
particulars as to their communication with the outer world. "Hold no
conversation with any man out of a church window, but respect it for the
sake of the Holy Sacrament which ye see there through;[156] and at other
times (other whiles) take your women to the window of the house (huses
thurle), other men and women to the parlour-window to speak when
necessary; nor ought ye (to converse) but at these two windows." Here we
have three windows; we have no difficulty in understanding which was the
church-window, and the parlour-window--the window _pour parler_; but what
was the house-window, through which the recluse might speak to her
servant? Was it merely the third glazed window, through which she might,
if it were convenient, talk with her maid, but not with strangers, because
she would be seen through it? or was it a window in the larger
anchorholds, between the recluse cell, and the other apartment in which
her maid lived, and in which, perhaps, guests were entertained? The latter
seems the more probable explanation, and will receive further confirmation
when we come to the directions about the entertainment of guests. The
recluse was not to give way to the very natural temptation to put her head
out of the open window, to get sometimes a wider view of the world about
her. "A peering anchoress, who is always thrusting her head outward," he
compares to "an untamed bird in a cage"--poor human bird! In another place
he gives a more serious exhortation on the same subject "Is not she too
forward and foolhardy who holds her head boldly forth on the open
battlements while men with crossbow bolts without assail the castle?
Surely our foe, the warrior of hell, shoots, as I ween, more bolts at one
anchoress than at seventy and seven secular ladies. The battlements of the
castle are the windows of their houses; let her not look out at them, lest
she have the devil's bolts between her eyes before she even thinks of
it." Here are directions how to carry on her "parlements":--"First of all,
when you have to go to your parlour-window, learn from your maid who it is
that is come; ... and when you must needs go forth, go forth in the fear
of God to a priest, ... and sit and listen, and not cackle." They were to
be on their guard even with religious men, and not even confess, except in
presence of a witness. "If any man requests to see you (_i.e._ to have the
black curtain drawn aside), ask him what good might come of it.... If any
one become so mad and unreasonable that he puts forth his hand toward the
window-cloth (curtain), shut the window (_i.e._ close the shutter)
quickly, and leave him; ... and as soon as any man falls into evil
discourse, close the window, and go away with this verse, that he may hear
it, 'The wicked have told me foolish tales, but not according to thy law;'
and go forth before your altar, and say the 'Miserere.'" Again, "Keep your
hands within your windows, for handling or touching between a man and an
anchoress is a thing unnatural, shameful, wicked," &c.

The bishop adds a characteristic piece of detail to our picture when he
speaks of the fair complexions of the recluses because not sunburnt, and
their white hands through not working, both set in strong relief by the
black colour of the habit and veil. He says, indeed, that "since no man
seeth you, nor ye see any man, ye may be content with your clothes white
or black." But in practice they seem usually to have worn black habits,
unless, when attached to the church of any monastery, they may have worn
the habit of the order. They were not to wear rings, brooches, ornamented
girdles, or gloves. "An anchoress," he says, "ought to take sparingly (of
alms), only that which is necessary (_i.e._ she ought not to take alms to
give away again). If she can spare any fragments of her food, let her send
them away (to some poor person) privately out of her dwelling. For the
devil," he says elsewhere, "tempts anchoresses, through their charity, to
collect to give to the poor, then to a friend, then to make a feast."
"There are anchoresses," he says, "who make their meals with their friends
without; that is too much friendship." The editor thinks this to mean that
some anchoresses left their cells, and went to dine at the houses of their
friends; but the word is _gistes_ (guests), and, more probably, it only
means that the recluse ate her dinner in her cell while a guest ate hers
in the guest-room of the reclusorium, with an open window between, so that
they could see and converse with one another. For we find in another place
that she was to maintain "silence always at meals; ... and if any one hath
a guest whom she holds dear, she may cause her maid, as in her stead, to
entertain her friend with glad cheer, and she shall have leave to open her
window once or twice, and make signs to her of gladness." But "let no
_man_ eat in your presence, except he be in great need." The narrative
already given at p. 109, of the visit of St. Richard the hermit to Dame
Margaret the recluse of Anderby, also shows that in exceptional cases a
recluse ate with men. The incident of the head of the recluse, in her
convulsive sleep, falling at the window at which the hermit was reclining,
and leaning partly upon him,[157] is explained by the theory that they
were sitting in separate apartments, each close by this house window,
which was open between them. As we have already seen, in the case of Sir
Percival, a man might even sleep in the reclusorium; and so the Rule says,
"let no man sleep within your walls" as a general rule; "if, however,
great necessity should cause your house to be used" by travellers, "see
that ye have a woman of unspotted life with you day and night."

As to their occupations, he advises them to make "no purses and blodbendes
of silk, but shape and sew and mend church vestments, and poor people's
clothes, and help to clothe yourselves and your domestics." "An anchoress
must not become a school-mistress, nor turn her house into a school for
children. Her maiden may, however, teach any little girl concerning whom
it might be doubtful whether she should learn among the boys."[158]

Doubtless, we are right in inferring from the bishop's advice not to do
certain things, that anchoresses were in the habit of doing them. From
this kind of evidence we glean still further traits. He suggests to them
that in confession they will perhaps have to mention such faults as
these, "I played or spoke thus in the church; went to the play in the
churchyard;[159] looked on at this, or at the wrestling, or other foolish
sports; spoke thus, or played, in the presence of secular men, or of
religious men, in a house of anchorites, and at a different window than I
ought; or, being alone in the church, I thought thus." Again he mentions,
"Sitting too long at the parlour-window, spilling ale, dropping crumbs."
Again we find, "Make no banquetings, nor encourage any strange vagabonds
about the gate." But of all their failings, gossiping seems to have been
the besetting sin of anchoresses. "People say of anchoresses that almost
every one hath an old woman to feed her ears, a prating gossip, who tells
her all the tales of the land, a magpie that chatters to her of everything
that she sees or hears; so that it is a common saying, from mill and from
market, from smithy and from anchor-house, men bring tidings."

Let us add the sketch drawn of them by the unfavourable hand of Bilney the
Reformer, in his "Reliques of Rome," published in 1563, and we have
done:--"As touching the monastical sect of recluses, and such as be shutte
up within walls, there unto death continuall to remayne, giving themselves
to the mortification of carnal effects, to the contemplation of heavenly
and spirituall thinges, to abstinence, to prayer, and to such other
ghostly exercises, as men dead to the world, and havyng their lyfe hidden
with Christ, I have not to write. Forasmuch as I cannot fynde probably in
any author whence the profession of anckers and anckresses had the
beginning and foundation, although in this behalf I have talked with men
of that profession which could very little or nothing say of the matter.
Notwithstanding, as the Whyte Fryers father that order on Helias the
prophet (but falsely), so likewise do the ankers and ankresses make that
holy and virtuous matrone Judith their patroness and foundress; but how
unaptly who seeth not? Their profession and religion differeth as far
from the manners of Judith as light from darknesse, or God from the
devill, as shall manifestly appere to them that will diligentlye conferre
the history of Judith with their life and conversation. Judith made
herself a privy chamber where she dwelt (sayth the scripture), being
closed in with her maydens. Our recluses also close themselves within the
walls, but they suffer no man to be there with them. Judith ware a smoche
of heare, but our recluses are both softly and finely apparalled. Judith
fasted all the days of her lyfe, few excepted. Our recluses eate and
drinke at all tymes of the beste, being of the number of them _qui curios
simulant et Bacchanalia vivunt_. Judith was a woman of a very good report.
Our recluses are reported to be superstitious and idolatrous persons, and
such as all good men flye their company. Judith feared the Lord greatly,
and lyved according to His holy word. Our recluses fear the pope, and
gladly doe what his pleasure is to command them. Judith lyved of her own
substance and goods, putting no man to charge. Our recluses, as persons
only borne to consume the good fruits of the erth, lyve idely of the
labour of other men's handes. Judith, when tyme required, came out of her
closet, to do good unto other. Our recluses never come out of their
lobbies, sincke or swimme the people. Judith put herself in jeopardy for
to do good to the common countrye. Our recluses are unprofitable clods of
the earth, doing good to no man. Who seeth not how farre our ankers and
ankresses differe from the manners and life of this vertuous and godly
woman Judith, so that they cannot justly claime her to be their
patronesse? Of some idle and superstitious heremite borrowed they their
idle and superstitious religion. For who knoweth not that our recluses
have grates of yron in theyr spelunckes, and dennes out of the which they
looke, as owles out of an yvye todde, when they will vouchsafe to speake
with any man at whose hand they hope for advantage? So reade we in 'Vitis
Patrum,' that John the Heremite so enclosed himself in his hermitage that
no person came in unto him; to them that came to visite him he spoke
through a window onely. Our ankers and ankresses professe nothing but a
solitary lyfe in their hallowed house, wherein they are inclosed wyth the
vowe of obedience to the pope, and to their ordinary bishop. Their apparel
is indifferent, so it be dissonant from the laity. No kind of meates they
are forbidden to eat. At midnight they are bound to say certain prayers.
Their profession is counted to be among other professions so hardye and so
streight that they may by no means be suffered to come out of their houses
except it be to take on them an harder and streighter, which is to be made
a bishop."

It is not to be expected that mediæval paintings should give illustrations
of persons who were thus never visible in the world. In the pictures of
the hermits of the Egyptian desert, on the walls of the Campo Santo at
Pisa, we see a representation of St. Anthony holding a conversation with
St. John the Hermit, who is just visible through his grated window, "like
an owl in an ivy tod," as Bilney says; and we have already given a picture
of Sir Percival knocking at the door of a female recluse. Bilney says,
that they wore any costume, "so it were dissonant from the laity;" but in
all probability they commonly wore a costume similar in colour to that of
the male hermits. The picture which we here give of an anchoress, is taken
from a figure of St. Paula, one of the anchorite saints of the desert, in
the same picture of St. Jerome, which has already supplied us, in the
figure of St. Damasus, with our best picture of the hermit's costume.

[Illustration: _St. Paula._]

The service for enclosing a recluse[160] may be found in some of the old
Service Books. We derive the following account of it from an old
black-letter _Manuale ad usum percelebris ecclesie Sarisburiensis_
(London, 1554), in the British Museum. The rubric before the service
orders that no one shall be enclosed without the bishop's leave; that the
candidate shall be closely questioned as to his motives; that he shall be
taught not to entertain proud thoughts, as if he merited to be set apart
from intercourse with common men, but rather on account of his own
infirmity it was good that he should be removed from contact with others,
that he might be kept out of sin himself, and not contaminate them. So
that the recluse should esteem himself to be condemned for his sins, and
shut up in his solitary cell as in a prison, and unworthy, for his sins,
of the society of men. There is a note, that this office shall serve for
both sexes. On the day before the ceremony of inclusion, the
_Includendus_--the person about to be inclosed--was to confess, and to
fast that day on bread and water; and all that night he was to watch and
pray, having his wax taper burning, in the monastery,[161] near his
inclusorium. On the morrow, all being assembled in church, the bishop, or
priest appointed by him, first addressed an exhortation to the people who
had come to see the ceremony, and to the includendus himself, and then
began the service with a response, and several appropriate psalms and
collects. After that, the priest put on his chasuble, and began mass, a
special prayer being introduced for the includendus. After the reading of
the gospel, the includendus stood before the altar, and offered his taper,
which was to remain burning on the altar throughout the mass; and then,
standing before the altar-step, he read his profession, or if he were a
layman (and unable to read), one of the chorister boys read it for him.
And this was the form of his profession:--"I, brother (or sister) N, offer
and present myself to serve the Divine Goodness in the order of
Anchorites, and I promise to remain, according to the rule of that order,
in the service of God, from henceforth, by the grace of God, and the
counsel of the Church." Then he signed the document in which his
profession was written with the sign of the cross, and laid it upon the
altar on bended knees. Then the bishop or priest said a prayer, and
asperged with holy water the habit of the includendus; and he put on the
habit, and prostrated himself before the altar, and so remained, while
the priest and choir sang over him the hymn _Veni Creator Spiritus_, and
then proceeded with the mass. First the priest communicated, then the
includendus, and then the rest of the congregation; and the mass was
concluded. Next his wax taper, which had all this time been burning on the
altar, was given to the includendus, and a procession was formed; first
the choir; then the includendus, clad in his proper habit, and carrying
his lighted taper; then the bishop or priest, in his mass robes; and then
the people following; and so they proceeded, singing a solemn litany, to
the cell. And first the priest entered alone into the cell, and asperged
it with holy water, saying appropriate sentences; then he consecrated and
blessed the cell, with prayers offered before the altar of its chapel. The
third of these short prayers may be transcribed: "Benedic domine domum
istam et locum istum, ut sit in eo sanitas, sanctitas, castitas, virtus,
victoria, sanctimonia, humilitas, lenitas, mansuetudo, plenitudo, legis et
obedientæ Deo Patre et Filio et Spiritui Sancto et sit super locum istum
et super omnes habitantes in eo tua larga benedictio, ut in his manufactis
habitaculis cum solemtate manentes ipsi tuum sit semper habitaculum. Per
dominum," &c. Then the bishop or priest came out, and led in the
includendus, still carrying his lighted taper, and solemnly blessed him.
And then--a mere change in the tense of the rubric has an effect which is
quite pathetic; it is no longer the _includendus_, the person to be
enclosed, but the _inclusus_, the enclosed one, he or she upon whom the
doors of the cell have closed for ever in this life--then the enclosed is
to maintain total and solemn silence throughout, while the doors are
securely closed, the choir chanting appropriate psalms. Then the celebrant
causes all the people to pray for the inclusus privately, in solemn
silence, to God, for whose love he has left the world, and caused himself
to be inclosed in that strait prison. And after some concluding prayers,
the procession left the inclusus to his solitary life, and returned,
chanting, to the church, finishing at the step of the choir.

One cannot read this solemn--albeit superstitious--service, in the quaint
old mediæval character, out of the very book which has, perhaps, been used
in the actual enclosing of some recluse, without being moved. Was it some
frail woman, with all the affections of her heart and the hopes of her
earthly life shattered, who sought the refuge of this living tomb? was it
some man of strong passions, wild and fierce in his crimes, as wild and
fierce in his penitence? or was it some enthusiast, with the over-excited
religious sensibility, of which we have instances enough in these days? We
can see them still, in imagination, prostrate, "in total and solemn
silence," before the wax taper placed upon the altar of the little chapel,
and listening while the chant of the returning procession grows fainter
and fainter in the distance. Ah! we may scornfully smile at it all as a
wild superstition, or treat it coldly as a question of mere antiquarian
interest; but what broken hearts, what burning passions, have been
shrouded under that recluse's robe, and what wild cries of human agony
have been stifled under that "total and solemn silence!" When the
processional chant had died away in the distance, and the recluse's taper
had burnt out on his little altar, was that the end of the tragedy, or
only the end of the first act? Did the broken heart find repose? Did the
wild spirit grow tame? Or did the one pine away and die like a flower in a
dungeon, and the other beat itself to death against the bars of its
self-made cage?



Besides all other religious people living under vows, in community in
monasteries, or as solitaries in their anchorages, there were also a
number of Widows vowed to that life and devoted to the service of God, who
lived at home in their own houses or with their families. This was
manifestly a continuation, or imitation, of the primitive Order of Widows,
of whom St. Paul speaks in his first Epistle to Timothy (ch. v.). For
although religious women, from an early period (fourth century), were
usually nuns, the primitive Orders of Deaconesses and Widows did not
altogether cease to exist in the Church. The Service Books[162] contain
offices for their benediction; and though it is probable that in fact a
deaconess was very rarely consecrated in the Western Church, yet the
number of allusions to widows throughout the Middle Ages leads us to
suspect that there may have been no inconsiderable number of them. A
common form of commission[163] to a suffragan bishop includes the
consecrating of widows. From the Pontifical of Edmund Lacey, Bishop of
Exeter, of the fourteenth century, we give a sketch of the service.[164]
It is the same in substance as those in the earlier books. First, a rubric
states that though a widow may be blessed on any day, it is more fitting
that she be blessed on a holy day, and especially on the Lord's day.
Between the Epistle and the Gospel, the bishop sitting on a faldstool
facing the people, the widow kneeling before the bishop is to be
interrogated if she desires, putting away all carnal affections, to be
joined as a spouse to Christ. Then she shall publicly in the vulgar tongue
profess herself, in the bishop's hands, resolved to observe perpetual
continence. Then the bishop blesses her habit (clamidem), saying a
collect. Then the bishop, genuflecting, begins the hymn _Veni Creator
Spiritus_; the widow puts on the habit and veil, and the bishop blesses
and gives her the ring; and with a final prayer for appropriate virtues
and blessings, the ordinary service of Holy Communion is resumed, special
mention of the widow being made therein.

These collects are of venerable age, and have much beauty of thought and
expression. The reader may be glad to see one of them as an example, and
as an indication of the spirit in which people entered into these
religious vows: "O God, the gracious inhabiter of chaste bodies and lover
of uncorrupt souls, look we pray Thee, O Lord, upon this Thy servant, who
humbly offers her devotion to Thee. May there be in her, O Lord, the gift
of Thy spirit, a prudent modesty, a wise graciousness, a grave gentleness,
a chaste freedom; may she be fervent in charity and love nothing beside
Thee (_extra te_); may she live praiseworthy and not desire praise; may
she fear Thee and serve Thee with a chaste love; be Thou to her, O Lord,
honour, Thou delight; be Thou in sorrow her comfort, in doubt her
counsellor; be Thou to her defence in injury, in tribulation patience, in
poverty abundance, in fasting food, in sickness medicine. By Thee, whom
she desires to love above all things, may she keep what she has vowed; so
that by Thy help she may conquer the old enemy, and cast out the
defilements of sin; that she may be decorated with the gift of fruit sixty
fold,[165] and adorned with the lamps of all virtues, and by Thy grace may
be worthy to join the company of the elect widows. This we humbly ask
through Jesus Christ our Lord."

In a paper in the "Surrey Transactions," vol. iii. p. 208, Mr. Baigent,
the writer of it, finds two, and only two, entries of the consecration of
widows in the Episcopal Registers of Winchester, which go back to the
early part of the reign of Edward I. The first of these is on May 4, 1348,
of the Lady Aleanor Giffard, probably, says Mr. Baigent, the widow of John
Giffard, of Bowers Giffard, in Essex. The other entry, on October 18,
1379, is of the Benediction of Isabella Burgh, the widow of a citizen of
London (whose will is given by Mr. Baigent), and of Isabella Golafre,
widow of Sir John Golafre.

The profession of the widow is given in old French, and a translation of
it in old English, as follows: "In ye name of God, Fader and Sone and Holy
Ghost. Iche Isabelle Burghe, that was sometyme wyfe of Thomas Burghe,
wyche that is God be taught helpynge the grace of God [the parallel French
is, Quest à Dieu commande ottriaunte la grace de Dieu] behote [promise]
conversione of myn maners, and make myn avows to God, and to is swete
moder Seynte Marie and to alle seintz, into youre handes leve [dear] fader
in God, William be ye grace of God Bisshope of Wynchestre, that fro this
day forward I schal ben chaste of myn body and in holy chastite kepe me
treweliche and devouteliche all ye dayes of myn life." Another form of
profession is written on the lower margin of the Exeter Pontifical, and
probably in the handwriting of Bishop Lacy: "I, N., wedowe, avowe to God
perpetuall chastite of my body from henceforward, and in the presence of
the honorable fadyr in God, my Lord N., by the grace of God, Bishop of N.,
I promyth sabilly to leve in the Church, a wedowe. And this to do, of myne
own hand I subscribe this writing: _Et postea faciat signum crucis_."

Another example of a widow in the Winchester registers is that of
Elizabeth de Julien, widow of John Plantagenet, Earl of Kent, who made
that vow to Bishop William de Edyndon, but afterwards married Sir Eustache
Dabrichecourt, September 29, 1360, whereupon proceedings were commenced
against her by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who imposed on her a severe
and life-long penance. She survived her second husband many years, and
dying in 1411, was buried in the choir of the Friars Minor at Winchester,
near the tomb of her first husband.

The epitaph on the monumental brass of Joanna Braham, A.D. 1519, at
Frenze, in Norfolk, describes her as "Vidua ac Deo devota."

In the Book of the Knight of La Tour-Landry is a description of a lady
who, if she had not actually taken the vows of widowhood, lived the life
we should suppose to be that of a vowess. "It is of a good lady whiche
longe tyme was in wydowhode. She was of a holy lyf, and moste humble and
honourable, as the whiche every yere kepte and held a feste upon
Crystemasse-day of her neyghbours bothe farre and nere, tyll her halle was
ful of them. She served and honoured eche one after his degree, and
specially she bare grete reverence to the good and trewe wymmen, and to
them whiche has deservyd to be worshipped. Also she was of suche customme
that yf she knewe any poure gentyll woman that shold be wedded she arayed
her with her jewels. Also she wente to the obsequye of the poure gentyll
wymmen, and gaf there torches, and all such other lumynary as it neded
thereto. Her dayly ordenaunce was that she rose erly ynough, and had ever
freres, and two or three chappellayns whiche sayd matyns before her within
her oratorye; and after she herd a hyhe masse and two lowe, and sayd her
servyse full devoutely; and after this she wente and arayed herself, and
walked in her gardyn, or else aboute her plase, sayenge her other
devocions and prayers. And as tyme was she wente to dyner; and after
dyner, if she wyste and knewe ony seke folke or wymmen in theyr
childbedde, she went to see and vysited them, and made to be brought to
them of her best mete. And then, as she myght not go herself, she had a
servant propyer therefore, whiche rode upon a lytell hors, and bare with
him grete plente of good mete and drynke for to gyve to the poure and seke
folk there as they were. And after she had herd evensonge she went to her
souper, yf she fasted not. And tymely she wente to bedde; made her styward
to come to her to wete what mete sholde be had the next daye, and lyved by
good ordenaunce, and wold be purveyed byfore of alle such thynge that was
nedefull for her household. She made grete abstynence, and wered the
hayre[166] upon the Wednesday and upon the Fryday.... And she rose everye
night thre tymes, and kneled downe to the ground by her bedde, and redryd
thankynges to God, and prayd for al Crysten soules, and dyd grete almes to
the poure. This good lady, that wel is worthy to be named and preysed, had
to name my lady Cecyle of Ballavylle.... She was the most good and curtoys
lady that ever I knewe or wyste in ony countrey, and that lesse was
envious, and never she wold here say ony evyll of no body, but excused
them, and prayd to God that they myght amende them, and that none was that
knewe what to hym shold happe.... She had a ryhte noble ende, and as I
wene ryht agreable to God; and as men say commonely, of honest and good
lyf cometh ever a good ende."

In post-Reformation times there are biographies of holy women which show
that the idea of consecrated widowhood was still living in the minds of
the people. Probably the dress commonly worn by widows throughout their
widowhood is a remnant of the mediæval custom.



The fashion of going on pilgrimage seems to have sprung up in the fourth
century. The first object of pilgrimage was the Holy Land. Jerome said, at
the outset, the most powerful thing which can be said against it; viz.,
that the way to heaven is as short from Britain as from Jerusalem--a
consolatory reflection to those who were obliged, or who preferred, to
stay at home; but it did not succeed in quenching the zeal of those many
thousands who desired to see, with their own eyes, the places which had
been hallowed by the presence and the deeds of their Lord--to tread, with
their own footsteps,

                        "Those holy fields
  Over whose acres walked those blessed feet,
  Which "eighteen" hundred years ago were nailed
  For our advantage on the bitter cross;"[167]

to kneel down and pray for pardon for their sins upon that very spot where
the Great Sacrifice for sin was actually offered up; to stand upon the
summit of Mount Olivet, and gaze up into that very pathway through the sky
by which He ascended to His kingdom in Heaven.

We should, however, open up too wide a field if we were to enter into the
subject of the early pilgrims to the Holy Land;[168] to trace their route
from Britain, usually _viâ_ Rome, by sea and land; to describe how a
pilgrim passenger-traffic sprung up, of which adventurous ship-owners took
advantage; how hospitals[169] were founded here and there along the road,
to give refuge to the weary pilgrims, until they reached the Hospital _par
excellence_, which stood beside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre; how
Saxon kings made treaties to secure their safe conduct through foreign
countries;[170] how the Order of the Knights of the Temple was founded to
escort the caravans of pilgrims from one to another of the holy places,
and protect them from marauding Saracens and Arabs; how the Crusades were
organised partly, no doubt, to stem the course of Mahommedan conquest, but
ostensibly to wrest the holy places from the hands of the infidel: this
part of the subject of pilgrimage would occupy too much of our space here.
Our design is to give a sketch of the less known portion of the subject,
which relates to the pilgrimages which sprung up in after-times, when the
veneration for the holy places had extended to the shrines of saints; and
when, still later, veneration had run wild into the grossest superstition,
and crowds of sane men and women flocked to relic-worships, which would be
ludicrous if they were not so pitiable and humiliating. This part of the
subject forms a chapter in the history of the manners of the Middle Ages,
which is little known to any but the antiquarian student; but it is an
important chapter to all who desire thoroughly to understand what were the
modes of thought and habits of life of our English forefathers in the
Middle Ages.

[Illustration: _Thirteenth Century Pilgrims (the two Disciples at

The most usual foreign pilgrimages were to the Holy Land, the scene of our
Lord's earthly life; to Rome, the centre of western Christianity; and to
the shrine of St. James at Compostella.[171]

The number of pilgrims to these places must have been comparatively
limited; for a man who had any regular business or profession could not
well undertake so long an absence from home. The rich of no occupation
could afford the leisure and the cost; and the poor who chose to abandon
their lawful occupation could make these pilgrimages at the cost of
others; for the pilgrim was sure of entertainment at every hospital, or
monastery, or priory, probably at every parish priest's rectory and every
gentleman's hall,[172] on his way; and there were not a few poor men and
women who indulged a vagabond humour in a pilgrim's life. The poor pilgrim
repaid his entertainer's hospitality by bringing the news of the
countries[173] through which he had passed, and by amusing the household
after supper with marvellous saintly legends, and traveller's tales. He
raised a little money for his inevitable travelling expenses by retailing
holy trifles and curiosities, such as were sold wholesale at all the
shrines frequented by pilgrims, and which were usually supposed to have
some saintly efficacy attached to them. Sometimes the pilgrim would take a
bolder flight, and carry with him some fragment of a relic--a joint of a
bone, or a pinch of dust, or a nail-paring, or a couple of hairs of the
saint, or a rag of his clothing; and the people gladly paid the pilgrim
for thus bringing to their doors some of the advantages of the holy
shrines which he had visited. Thus Chaucer's Pardoner--"That strait was
comen from the Court of Rome"--

  "In his mail[174] he had a pilwebere,[175]
   Which as he saidé was oure Lady's veil;
   He said he had a gobbet of the sail
   Thatte St. Peter had whan that he went
   Upon the sea, till Jesu Christ him hent.[176]
   He had a cross of laton full of stones;[177]
   And in a glass he haddé piggés bones.[178]
   But with these relics whanné that he fond
   A poure parson dwelling upon lond,
   Upon a day he gat him more monie
   Than that the parson gat in monthes tweie.
   And thus with feined flattering and japes,
   He made the parson and the people his apes."

In a subsequent chapter, on the Merchants of the Middle Ages, will be
found some illustrations of mediæval shipping, which also illustrate the
present subject. One is a representation of Sir John Mandeville and his
companions in mantle, hat, and staff, just landed at a foreign town on
their pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Another represents Richard Beauchamp,
Earl of Warwick, in mantle, hat, and staff, embarking in his own ship on
his departure for a similar pilgrimage. Another illustration in the
subsequent chapter on Secular Clergy represents Earl Richard at Rome,
being presented to the Pope.

But those who could not spare time or money to go to Jerusalem, or Rome,
or Compostella, could spare both for a shorter expedition; and pilgrimages
to English shrines appear to have been very common. By far the most
popular of our English pilgrimages was to the shrine of St.
Thomas-à-Becket, at Canterbury, and it was popular not only in England,
but all over Europe. The one which stood next in popular estimation, was
the pilgrimage to Our Lady of Walsingham. But nearly every cathedral and
great monastery, and many a parish church besides, had its famous saint to
whom the people resorted. There was St. Cuthbert at Durham, and St.
William at York, and little St. William at Norwich, and St. Hugh at
Lincoln, and St. Edward Confessor at Westminster, and St. Erkenwald in the
cathedral of London, and St. Wulstan at Worcester, and St. Swithin at
Winchester, and St. Edmund at Bury, and SS. Etheldreda and Withburga at
Ely, and many more, whose remains were esteemed holy relics, and whose
shrines were frequented by the devout. Some came to pray at the tomb for
the intercession of the saint in their behalf; or to seek the cure of
disease by the touch of the relic; or to offer up thanks for deliverance
believed to have been vouchsafed in time of peril through the saint's
prayers; or to obtain the number of days' pardon--_i.e._ of remission of
their time in purgatory--offered by Papal bulls to those who should pray
at the tomb. Then there were famous roods, the Rood of Chester and of
Bromholme; and statues of the Virgin, as Our Lady of Wilsden, and of
Boxley, and of this, that, and the other place. There were scores of holy
wells besides, under saintly invocations, of which St. Winifred's well
with her chapel over it still remains an excellent example.[179] Some of
these were springs of medicinal water, and were doubtless of some efficacy
in the cures for which they were noted; in others a saint had baptized his
converts; others had simply afforded water to a saint in his neighbouring

Before any man[181] went on pilgrimage, he first went to his church, and
received the Church's blessing on his pious enterprise, and her prayers
for his good success and safe return. The office of pilgrims (_officium
peregrinorum_) may be found in the old service-books. We give a few notes
of it from a Sarum missal, date 1554, in the British Museum.[182] The
pilgrim is previously to have confessed. At the opening of the service he
lies prostrate before the altar, while the priest and choir sing over him
certain appropriate psalms, viz. the 24th, 50th, and 90th. Then follow
some versicles, and three collects, for safety, &c., in which the pilgrim
is mentioned by name, "thy servant, N." Then he rises, and there follows
the benediction of his scrip and staff; and the priest sprinkles the scrip
with holy water, and places it on the neck of the pilgrim, saying, "In the
name of, &c., take this scrip, the habit of your pilgrimage, that,
corrected and saved, you may be worthy to reach the thresholds of the
saints to which you desire to go, and, your journey done, may return to us
in safety." Then the priest delivers the staff, saying, "Take this staff,
the support of your journey, and of the labour of your pilgrimage, that
you may be able to conquer all the bands of the enemy, and to come safely
to the threshold of the saints to which you desire to go, and, your
journey obediently performed, return to us with joy." If any one of the
pilgrims present is going to Jerusalem, he is to bring a habit signed with
the cross, and the priest blesses it:--"... we pray that Thou wilt
vouchsafe to bless this cross, that the banner of the sacred cross, whose
figure is signed upon him, may be to Thy servant an invincible strength
against the evil temptations of the old enemy, a defence by the way, a
protection in Thy house, and may be to us everywhere a guard, through our
Lord, &c." Then he sprinkles the habit with holy water, and gives it to
the pilgrim, saying, "Take this habit, signed with the cross of the Lord
our Saviour, that by it you may come safely to his sepulchre, who, with
the Father," &c. Then follows mass; and after mass, certain prayers over
the pilgrims, prostrate at the altar; then, "let them communicate, and so
depart in the name of the Lord." The service runs in the plural, as if
there were usually a number of pilgrims to be dispatched together.

[Illustration: _Lydgate's Pilgrim._]

There was a certain costume appropriate to the pilgrim, which old writers
speak of under the title of pilgrims' weeds; the illustrations of this
paper will give examples of it. It consisted of a robe and hat, a staff
and scrip. The robe called _sclavina_ by Du Cange, and other writers, is
said to have been always of wool, and sometimes of shaggy stuff, like that
represented in the accompanying woodcut of the latter part of the
fourteenth century, from the Harleian MS., 4,826. It seems intended to
represent St. John Baptist's robe of camel's hair. Its colour does not
appear in the illuminations, but old writers speak of it as grey. The hat
seems to be commonly a round hat, of felt, and, apparently, does not
differ from the hats which travellers not uncommonly wore over their hoods
in those days.[183]

The pilgrim who was sent on pilgrimage as a penance seems usually to have
been ordered to go barefoot, and probably many others voluntarily
inflicted this hardship upon themselves in order to heighten the merit and
efficacy of their good deed. They often also made a vow not to cut the
hair or beard until the pilgrimage had been accomplished. But the special
insignia of a pilgrim were the staff and scrip. In the religious service
with which the pilgrims initiated their journey, we have seen that the
staff and scrip are the only insignia mentioned, except in the case of one
going to the Holy Land, who has a robe signed with the cross; the staff
and the scrip were specially blessed by the priest, and the pilgrim
formally invested with them by his hands.

The staff, or bourdon, was not of an invariable shape. On a
fourteenth-century grave-stone at Haltwhistle, Northumberland, it is like
a rather long walking-stick, with a natural knob at the top. In the cut
from Erasmus's "Praise of Folly," which forms the frontispiece of Mr.
Nichols's "Pilgrimages of Canterbury and Walsingham," it is a similar
walking-stick; but, usually, it was a long staff, some five, six, or
seven feet long, turned in the lathe, with a knob at the top, and another
about a foot lower down. Sometimes a little below the lower knob there is
a hook, or a staple, to which we occasionally find a water-bottle or a
small bundle attached. The hook is seen on the staff of Lydgate's pilgrim
(p. 163). Sir John Hawkins tells us[184] that the staff was sometimes
hollowed out into a kind of flute, on which the pilgrim could play. The
same kind of staff we find in illuminated MSS. in the hands of beggars and
shepherds, as well as pilgrims.

The scrip was a small bag, slung at the side by a cord over the shoulder,
to contain the pilgrim's food and his few necessaries.[185] Sometimes it
was made of leather; but probably the material varied according to the
taste and wealth of the pilgrim. We find it of different shape and size in
different examples. In the monumental effigy of a pilgrim of rank at
Ashby-de-la-Zouch, the scrip is rather long, widest at bottom, and is
ornamented with three tassels at the bottom, something like the bag in
which the Lord Chancellor carries the great seal, and it has scallop
shells fixed upon its front. In the grave-stone of a knight at
Haltwhistle, already alluded to, the knight's arms, sculptured upon the
shield on one side of his grave cross, are a _fess_ between three _garbs_
(_i.e._ wheat-sheaves); and a _garb_ is represented upon his scrip, which
is square and otherwise plain. The tomb of Abbot Chillenham, at
Tewkesbury, has the pilgrim's staff and scrip sculptured upon it as an
architectural ornament; the scrip is like the mediæval purse, with a
scallop shell on the front of it, very like that on p. 163.[186] The
pilgrim is sometimes represented with a bottle, often with a rosary, and
sometimes with other conveniences for travelling or helps to devotion.
There is a very good example in Hans Burgmaier's "Images de Saints, &c.,
of the Familly of the Emp. Maximilian I." fol. 112.

[Illustration: _Pilgrim, from Erasmus's "Praise of Folly."_]

But though the conventional pilgrim is always represented with robe, and
hat, and staff, and scrip, the actual pilgrim seems sometimes to have
dispensed with some, if not with all, of these insignia. For example,
Chaucer minutely describes the costume of the principal personages in his
company of Canterbury Pilgrims, and he not only does not describe what
would have been so marked and picturesque features in their appearance,
but his description seems to preclude the pilgrim's robe and hat. His
knight is described in the ordinary jupon,

  "Of fustian he wered a jupon."

And the squire--

  "Short was his gowne with sleves long and wide."

And the yeoman--

  "Was clad in cote and hood of green."

And the serjeant of the law--

  "Rode but homely in a medlee cote,
   Girt with a seint[187] of silk with barres small."

The merchant was in motley--

  "And on his hed a Flaundrish bever hat."

And so with all the rest, they are clearly described in the ordinary dress
of their class, which the pilgrim's robe would have concealed. It seems
very doubtful whether they even bore the especial insignia of staff and
scrip. Perhaps when men and women went their pilgrimage on horseback, they
did not go through the mere form of carrying a long walking-staff. The
equestrian pilgrim, of whom we shall give a woodcut hereafter, though he
is very correctly habited in robe and hat, with pilgrim signs on each, and
his rosary round his neck, does not carry the bourdon. The only trace of
pilgrim costume about Chaucer's Pilgrims, is in the Pardoner--

  "A vernicle hadde he sewed in his cappe"--

but that was a sign of a former pilgrimage to Rome; and it is enough to
prove--if proof were needed--that Chaucer did not forget to clothe his
personages in pilgrim weeds, but that they did not wear them.

But besides the ordinary insignia of pilgrimage, every pilgrimage had its
special signs, which the pilgrim on his return wore conspicuously upon his
hat or his scrip, or hanging round his neck, in token that he had
accomplished that particular pilgrimage. The pilgrim who had made a long
pilgrimage, paying his devotions at every shrine in his way, might come
back as thickly decorated with signs as a modern soldier, who has been
through a stirring campaign, with medals and clasps.

The pilgrim to the Holy Land had this distinction above all others, that
he wore a special sign from the very hour that he took the vow upon him to
make that most honourable pilgrimage. This sign was a cross, formed of two
strips of coloured cloth sewn upon the shoulder of the robe; the English
pilgrim wore the cross of white, the French of red, the Flemish of green.
Some, in their fierce earnestness, had the sacred sign cut into their
flesh; in the romance of "Sir Isumbras," we read--

  "With a sharpe knyfe he share
   A cross upon his shoulder bare."

Others had it branded upon them with a hot iron; one pilgrim in the
"Mirac. de S. Thomæ" of Abbot Benedict gives the obvious reason, that
though his clothes should be torn away, no one should be able to tear the
cross from his breast. At the end of the _Officium peregrinorum_, which we
have described, we find a rubric calling attention to the fact, that
burning the cross in the flesh is forbidden by the canon law on pain of
the greater excommunication; the prohibition is proof enough that at one
time it was a not uncommon practice. But when the pilgrim reached the Holy
Land, and had visited the usual round of the holy places, he became
entitled to wear the palm in token of his accomplishment of that great
pilgrimage; and from this badge he derived the name of Palmer. How the
palm was borne does not quite certainly appear; some say that it was a
branch of palm, which the returning pilgrim bore in his hand or affixed
to the top of his staff;[188] but probably in the general case it was in
the shape of sprigs of palm sewn crosswise upon the hat and scrip.

The Roman pilgrimage seems always to have ranked next in popular
estimation to that of the Holy Land;[189] and with reason, for Rome was
then the great centre of the religion and the civilization of Western
Christendom. The plenary indulgence which Boniface VIII. published in
1300, to all who should make the Jubilee pilgrimage to Rome, no doubt had
its effect in popularizing this pilgrimage _ad limina apostolorum_. Two
hundred thousand pilgrims, it is said, visited Rome in one month during
the first Jubilee; and succeeding popes shortened the interval between
these great spiritual fairs, first to fifty, then to thirty-three, and
lastly to twenty-five years. The pilgrim to Rome doubtless visited many
shrines in that great Christian capital, and was entitled to wear as many
signs; but the chief signs of the Roman pilgrimage were a badge with the
effigies of St. Peter and St. Paul, the cross-keys, and the vernicle.
Concerning the first, there is a grant from Innocent III. to the
arch-priest and canons of St. Peter's at Rome,[190] which confirms to them
(or to those to whom they shall concede it) the right to cast and to sell
the lead or pewter signs, bearing the effigies of the Apostles Peter and
Paul, with which those who have visited their threshold decorate
themselves for the increase of their devotion and a testimony of their
pilgrimage. Dr. Rock says[191] "that a friend of his has one of these
Roman pilgrim signs, which was dug up at Launde Abbey, Leicestershire. It
is of copper, in the shape of a quatrefoil, one and three-quarter inches
in diameter, and has the cross-keys on one side, the other side being
plain." An equestrian pilgrim represented in Hans Burgmaier's "Der Weise
Koenige," seems to bear on his cloak and his hat the cross-keys. The
vernicle was the kerchief of Veronica, with which, said a very popular
legend, she wiped the brow of the Saviour, when he fainted under His cross
in the Via Dolorosa, and which was found to have had miraculously
transferred to it an imprint of the sacred countenance. Chaucer's
Pardoner, as we have already seen--

  "Strait was comen from the Court of Rome,"

and, therefore,

  "A vernicle had he sewed upon his cap."

The sign of the Compostella pilgrimage was the scallop shell.[192] The
legend which the old Spanish writers give in explanation of the badge is
this:--When the body of the saint was being miraculously conveyed in a
ship without sails or oars, from Joppa to Galicia, it passed the village
of Bonzas, on the coast of Portugal, on the day that a marriage had been
celebrated there. The bridegroom with his friends were amusing themselves
on horseback on the sands, when his horse became unmanageable and plunged
into the sea; whereupon the miraculous ship stopped in its voyage, and
presently the bridegroom emerged, horse and man, close beside it. A
conversation ensued between the knight and the saint's disciples on board,
in which they apprised him that it was the saint who had saved him from a
watery grave, and explained the Christian religion to him. He believed,
and was baptized there and then. And immediately the ship resumed its
voyage, and the knight came galloping back over the sea to rejoin his
astonished friends. He told them all that had happened, and they too were
converted, and the knight baptized his bride with his own hand. Now, when
the knight emerged from the sea, both his dress and the trappings of his
horse were covered with scallop shells; and, therefore, the Galicians took
the scallop shell as the sign of St. James. The legend is found
represented in churches dedicated to St. James, and in ancient illuminated
MSS.[193] The scallop shell is not unfrequently found in armorial
bearings. It is hardly probable that it would be given to a man merely
because he had made the common pilgrimage to Compostella; perhaps it was
earned by service under the banner of Santiago, against the Moors in the
Spanish crusades. The Popes Alexander III., Gregory IX., and Clement V.,
granted a faculty to the Archbishops of Compostella, to excommunicate
those who sell these shells to pilgrims anywhere except in the city of
Santiago, and they assign this reason, because the shells are the badge of
the Apostle Santiago.[194] The badge was not always an actual shell, but
sometimes a jewel made in the shape of a scallop shell. In the "Journal of
the Archæological Association," iii. 126, is a woodcut of a scallop shell
of silver gilt, with a circular piece of jet set in the middle, on which
is carved an equestrian figure of Santiago.

The chief sign of the Canterbury pilgrimage was an ampul (_ampulla_, a
flask); we are told all about its origin and meaning by Abbot Benedict,
who wrote a book on the miracles of St. Thomas.[195] The monks had
carefully collected from the pavement the blood of the martyr which had
been shed upon it, and preserved it as one of the precious relics. A sick
lady who visited the shrine, begged for a drop of this blood as a
medicine; it worked a miraculous cure, and the fame of the miracle spread
far and wide, and future pilgrims were not satisfied unless they too might
be permitted the same high privilege. A drop of it used to be mixed with a
chalice full of water, that the colour and flavour might not offend the
senses, and they were allowed to taste of it. It wrought, says the abbot,
miraculous cures; and so, not only vast crowds came to take this strange
and unheard-of medicine, but those who came were anxious to take some of
it home for their sick friends and neighbours. At first they put it into
wooden vessels, but these were split by the liquid; and many of the
fragments of these vessels were hung up about the martyr's tomb in token
of this wonder. At last it came into the head of a certain young man to
cast little flasks--_ampullæ_--of lead and pewter. And then the miracle of
the breaking ceased, and they knew that it was the Divine will that the
Canterbury medicine should be carried in these ampullæ throughout the
world, and that these ampullæ should be recognised by all the world as
the sign of this pilgrimage and these wonderful cures. At first the
pilgrims had carried the wooden vases concealed under their clothes; but
these ampullæ were carried suspended round the neck; and when the pilgrims
reached home, says another authority,[196] they hung these ampullæ in
their churches for sacred relics, that the glory of the blessed martyr
might be known throughout the world. Some of these curious relics still
exist. They are thin, flat on one side, and slightly rounded on the other,
with two little ears or loops through which a cord might be passed to
suspend them. The mouth might have been closed by solder, or even by
folding over the edges of the metal. There is a little flask figured in
Gardner's "History of Dunwich," pl. iii., which has a T upon the side of
it, and which may very probably have been one of these ampullæ. But one of
a much more elaborate and interesting type is here engraved, from an
example preserved in the museum at York. The principal figure is a
somewhat stern representation of the blessed archbishop; above is a rude
representation of his shrine; and round the margin is the rhyming
legend--"Optimus egrorum: Medicus fit Thoma bonorum" ("Thomas is the best
physician for the pious sick"). On the reverse of the ampul is a design
whose intention is not very clear; two monks or priests are apparently
saying some service out of a book, and one of them is laying down a
pastoral staff; perhaps it represents the shrine with its attendants. From
the style of art, this design may be of the early part of the thirteenth
century. But though this ampul is clearly designated by the monkish
writers, whom we have quoted, as the special sign of the Canterbury
pilgrimage, there was another sign which seems to have been peculiar to
it, and that is a bell. Whether these bells were hand-bells, which the
pilgrims carried in their hands, and rang from time to time, or whether
they were little bells, like hawks' bells, fastened to their dress--as
such bells sometimes were to a canon's cope--does not certainly appear. W.
Thorpe, in the passage hereafter quoted at length from Fox, speaks of "the
noise of their singing and the sound of their piping, and the jangling of
their Canterbury bells," as a body of pilgrims passed through a town. One
of the prettiest of our wild-flowers, the _Campanula rotundifolia_, which
has clusters of blue, bell-like flowers, has obtained the common name of
Canterbury Bells.[197] There were other religious trinkets also sold and
used by pilgrims as mementoes of their visit to the famous shrine. The
most common of them seems to have been the head of St. Thomas,[198] cast
in various ornamental devices, in silver or pewter; sometimes it was
adapted to hang to a rosary,[199] more usually, in the examples which
remain to us, it was made into a brooch to be fastened upon the cap or
hood, or dress. In Mr. C. R. Smith's "Collectanea Antiqua," vol. i. pl.
31, 32, 33, and vol. ii. pl. 16, 17, 18, there are representations of no
less than fifty-one English and foreign pilgrims' signs, of which a
considerable proportion are heads of St. Thomas. The whole collection is
very curious and interesting.[200]

[Illustration: _The Canterbury Ampulla._]

The ampul was not confined to St. Thomas of Canterbury. When his ampuls
became so very popular, the guardians of the other famous shrines adopted
it, and manufactured "waters," "aquæ reliquiarum," of their own. The relic
of the saint, which they were so fortunate as to possess, was washed with
or dipped in holy water, which was thereupon supposed to
possess--diluted--the virtues of the relic itself. Thus there was a
"Durham water," being the water in which the incorruptible body of St.
Cuthbert had been washed at its last exposure; and Reginald of Durham, in
his book on the admirable virtues of the blessed Cuthbert,[201] tells us
how it used to be carried away in ampuls, and mentions a special example
in which a little of this pleasant medicine poured into the mouth of a
sick man, cured him on the spot. The same old writer tells us how the
water held in a bowl that once belonged to Editha, queen and saint, in
which a little bit of rag, which had once formed part of St. Cuthbert's
garments, was soaked, acquired from these two relics so much virtue that
it brought back health and strength to a dying clerk who drank it. In
Gardner's "History of Dunwich" (pl. iii.) we find drawings of ampullæ like
those of St. Thomas, one of which has upon its front a W surmounted by a
crown, which it is conjectured may be the pilgrim sign of Our Lady of
Walsingham, and contained, perhaps, water from the holy wells at
Walsingham, hereinafter described. Another has an R surmounted by one of
the symbols of the Blessed Virgin, a lily in a pot; the author hazards a
conjecture that it may be the sign of St. Richard of Chichester. The
pilgrim who brought away one of these flasks of medicine, or one of these
blessed relics, we may suppose, did not always hang it up in church as an
_ex voto_, but sometimes preserved it carefully in his house for use in
time of sickness, and would often be applied to by a sick neighbour for
the gift of a portion of the precious fluid out of his ampul, or for a
touch of the trinket which had touched the saint. In the "Collectanea
Antiqua," is a facsimile of a piece of paper bearing a rude woodcut of
the adoration of the Magi, and an inscription setting forth that "Ces
billets ont touché aux troi testes de saints Rois a Cologne: ils sont pour
les voyageurs contre les malheurs des chemins, maux de teste, mal caduque,
fièures, sorcellerie, toute sorte de malefice, et morte soubite." It was
found upon the person of one William Jackson, who having been sentenced
for murder in June, 1748-9, was found dead in prison a few hours before
the time of his execution. It was the charmed billet, doubtless, which
preserved him from the more ignominious death.

We find a description of a pilgrim in full costume, and decorated with
signs, in "Piers Ploughman's Vision." He was apparelled--

  "In pilgrym's wise.
   He bare a burdoun[202] y-bounde with a broad list,
   In a withwinde-wise y-wounden about;
   A bolle[203] and a bagge he bare by his side,
   An hundred of ampulles; on his hat seten
   Signes of Synay[204] and shells of Galice,[205]
   And many a crouche[206] on his cloke and keys of Rome,
   And the vernicle before, for men sholde knowe,
   And se bi his signes, whom he sought hadde.
     These folk prayed[207] hym first fro whence he came?
     'From Synay,' he seide, 'and from our Lordes Sepulcre:
   In Bethlem and in Babiloyne I have ben in bothe;
   In Armonye[208] and Alesaundre, in many other places.
   Ye may se by my signes, that sitten in my hat,
   That I have walked ful wide in weet and in drye,
   And sought good seintes for my soules helthe.'"

The little bit of satire, for the sake of which this model pilgrim is
introduced, is too telling--especially after the wretched superstitions
which we have been noticing--to be omitted here. "Knowest thou?" asks the

  "'Kondest thou aught a cor-saint[209] that men calle Truthe?
   Canst thou aught weten[210] us the way where that wight dwelleth?'"

"Nay," replies the much-travelled pilgrim--

  "'Nay, so me God helpe,
   I saw nevere palmere with pyke and with scrippe
   Ask after hym, ever til now in this place.'"



We shall not wonder that these various pilgrimages were so popular as they
were, when we learn that there were not only physical panaceas to be
obtained, and spiritual pardons and immunities to be procured at the
shrines of the saints, but that moreover the journey to them was often
made a very pleasant holiday excursion.

Far be it from us to deny that there was many a pilgrim who undertook his
pilgrimage in anything but a holiday spirit, and who made it anything but
a gay excursion; many a man who sought, howbeit mistakenly, to atone for
wrong done, by making himself an outcast upon earth, and submitting to the
privations of mendicant pilgrimage; many a one who sought thus to escape
out of reach of the stings of remorse; many a one who tore himself from
home and the knowledge of friends, and went to foreign countries to hide
his shame from the eyes of those who knew him. Certainly, here and there,
might have been met a man or a woman, whose coarse sackcloth robe, girded
to the naked skin, and unshod feet, were signs of real if mistaken
penitence; and who carried grievous memories and a sad heart through every
mile of his weary way. We give here, from Hans Burgmaier's "Images de
Saints, &c., de la Famille de l'Empereur Maximilian I.," a very excellent
illustration of a pilgrim of this class. But this was not the general
character of the home pilgrimages of which we are especially speaking. In
the great majority of cases they seem to have been little more than a
pleasant religious holiday.[211] No doubt the general intention was
devotional; very likely it was often in a moment of religious fervour that
the vow was taken; the religious ceremony with which the journey was
begun, must have had a solemnising effect; and doubtless when the pilgrim
knelt at the shrine, an unquestioning faith in all the tales which he had
heard of its sanctity and occasional miraculous power, and the imposing
effect of the scene, would affect his mind with an unusual religious
warmth and exaltation. But between the beginning and the end of the
pilgrimage there was a long interval, which we say--not in a censorious
spirit--was usually occupied by a very pleasant excursion. The same fine
work which has supplied us with so excellent an illustration of an ascetic
pilgrim, affords another equally valuable companion-picture of a pilgrim
of the more usual class. He travels on foot, indeed, staff in hand, but he
is comfortably shod and clad; and while the one girds his sackcloth shirt
to his bare body with an iron chain, the other has his belt well furnished
with little conveniences of travel. It is quite clear that the journey was
not necessarily on foot, the voluntary pilgrims might ride if they
preferred it.[212] Nor did they beg their bread as penitential pilgrims
did; but put good store of money in their purse at starting, and ambled
easily along the green roads, and lived well at the comfortable inns along
their way.

[Illustration: _Pilgrim in Hair Shirt and Cloak._]

In many instances when the time of pilgrimage is mentioned, we find that
it was the spring; Chaucer's pilgrims started--

  "When that April with his showerés sote
   The drouth of March had perced to the root;"

and Fosbroke "apprehends that Lent was the usual time for these

It was the custom for the pilgrims to associate in companies; indeed,
since they travelled the same roads, about the same time of year, and
stopped at the same inns and hospitals, it was inevitable; and they seem
to have taken pains to make the journey agreeable to one another.
Chaucer's "hoste of the Tabard" says to his guests:--

  "Ye go to Canterbury: God you speed,
   The blisful martyr quité you your mede;
   And well I wot, as ye go by the way,
   Ye shapen you to talken and to play;
   For trewely comfort and worthe is none,
   To riden by the way dumb as a stone."

Even the poor penitential pilgrim who travelled barefoot did not travel,
all the way at least, on the hard and rough highway. Special roads seem to
have been made to the great shrines. Thus the "Pilgrim's Road" may still
be traced across Kent, almost from London to Canterbury; and if the
Londoner wishes for a pleasant and interesting home excursion, he may put
a scrip on his back, and take a bourdon in his hand, and make a summer's
pilgrimage on the track of Chaucer's pilgrims. The pilgrim's road to
Walsingham is still known as the "Palmer's Way" and the "Walsingham Green
Way." It may be traced along the principal part of its course for sixty
miles in the diocese of Norwich. The common people used to call the Milky
Way the Walsingham Way.

Dr. Rock tells us[213] that "besides its badge, each pilgrimage had also
its gathering cry, which the pilgrims shouted out as, at the grey of morn,
they slowly crept through the town or hamlet where they had slept that
night." By calling aloud upon God for help, and begging the intercession
of that saint to whose shrine they were wending, they bade all their
fellow pilgrims to come forth upon their road and begin another day's

After having said their prayers and told their beads, occasionally did
they strive to shorten the weary length of the way by song and music. As
often as a crowd of pilgrims started together from one place, they seem
always to have hired a few singers and one or two musicians to go with
them. Just before reaching any town, they drew themselves up into a line,
and thus walked through its streets in procession, singing and ringing
their little hand-bells, with a player on the bagpipes at their head. They
ought in strictness, perhaps, to have been psalms which they sung, and the
tales with which they were accustomed to lighten the way ought to have
been saintly legends and godly discourses; but in truth they were of very
varied character, according to the character of the individual pilgrims.
The songs were often love-songs; and though Chaucer's poor parson of a
town preached a sermon and was listened to, yet the romances of chivalry
or the loose faiblieux which were current probably formed the majority of
the real "Canterbury tales." In Foxe's "Acts and Monuments," we have a
very graphic and amusing little sketch of a company of pilgrims passing
through a town:--

W. Thorpe tells Archbishop Arundel, "When diverse men and women will go
thus after their own willes, and finding out one pilgrimage, they will
order with them before to have with them both men and women that can well
synge wanton songs; and some other pilgrims will have with them
bagge-pipes, so that every towne they come throwe, what with the noyse of
their singing and with the sound of their pipyng, and with the jingling of
their Canterbury belles, and with barking out of dogges after them, that
they make more noise than if the kinge came there awaye with all his
clarions, and many other minstrelles. And if these men and women be a
moneth on their pilgrimage, many of them shall be an half year after
great janglers, tale-tellers, and liars." The archbishop defends the
fashion, and gives us further information on the subject, saying "that
pilgremys have with them both syngers and also pipers, that when one of
them that goeth barefoote striketh his toe upon a stone, and hurteth him
sore, and maketh him to blede, it is well done that he or his fellow begyn
than a songe, or else take out of his bosom a bagge-pipe, for to drive
away with such myrthe the hurte of his fellow; for with soche solace the
travell and weriness of pylgremes is lightly and merily broughte forth."

Erasmus's colloquy entitled "Peregrinatio Religionis ergo," enables us to
accompany the pilgrim to the shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, and to join
him in his devotions at the shrine. We shall throw together the most
interesting portions of the narrative from Mr. J. G. Nichols's translation
of it. "It is," he says, "the most celebrated place throughout all
England,[215] nor could you easily find in that island the man who
ventures to reckon on prosperity unless he yearly salute her with some
small offering according to his ability." "The town of Walsingham," he
says, "is maintained by scarcely anything else but the number of its
visitors." The shrine of Our Lady was not within the priory church; but on
the north side was the wooden chapel dedicated to "Our Lady," about
twenty-three feet by thirteen, enclosed within a chapel of stone
forty-eight feet by thirty, which Erasmus describes as unfinished. On the
west of the church was another wooden building, in which were two holy
wells also dedicated to the Virgin. Erasmus describes these "holy places."
"Within the church, which I have called unfinished, is a small chapel made
of wainscot, and admitting the devotees on each side by a narrow little
door. The light is small, indeed scarcely any but from the wax lights. A
most grateful fragrance meets the nostrils. When you look in, you would
say it was the mansion of the saints, so much does it glitter on all sides
with jewels, gold, and silver. In the inner chapel one canon attends to
receive and take charge of the offerings," which the pilgrims placed upon
the altar. "To the east of this is a chapel full of wonders. Thither I go.
Another guide receives me. There we worshipped for a short time. Presently
the joint of a man's finger is exhibited to us, the largest of three; I
kiss it; and then I ask whose relics were these? He says, St. Peter's. The
Apostle? I ask. He said, Yes. Then observing the size of the joint, which
might have been that of a giant, I remarked, Peter must have been a man of
very large size. At this, one of my companions burst into a laugh; which I
certainly took ill, for if he had been quiet the attendant would have
shown us all the relics. However, we pacified him by offering a few pence.
Before the chapel was a shed, which they say was suddenly, in the winter
season, when everything was covered with snow, brought thither from a
great distance. Under this shed are two wells full to the brink; they say
the spring is sacred to the Holy Virgin. The water is wonderfully cold,
and efficacious in curing the pains of the head and stomach. We next
turned towards the heavenly milk of the Blessed Virgin" (kept apparently
in another chapel); "that milk is kept on the high-altar; in the centre of
which is Christ; at his right hand for honour's sake, his mother; for the
milk personifies the mother. As soon as the canon in attendance saw us, he
rose, put on his surplice, added the stole to his neck, prostrated himself
with due ceremony, and worshipped; anon he stretched forth the thrice-holy
milk to be kissed by us. On this, we also, on the lowest step of the
altar, religiously fell prostrate; and having first called upon Christ, we
addressed the Virgin with a little prayer like this, which I had prepared
for the purpose....

"'A very pious prayer; what reply did she make?'

"Each appeared to assent, if my eyes were not deceived. For the holy milk
seemed to leap a little, and the Eucharist shone somewhat brighter.
Meanwhile the ministering canon approached us, saying nothing, but holding
out a little box, such as are presented by the toll collectors on the
bridges in Germany. I gave a few pence, which he offered to the Virgin."

The visitor on this occasion being a distinguished person, and performing
a trifling service for the canons, was presented by the sub-prior with a
relic. "He then drew from a bag a fragment of wood, cut from a beam on
which the Virgin Mother had been seen to rest. A wonderful fragrance at
once proved it to be a thing extremely sacred. For my part, having
received so distinguished a present, prostrate and with uncovered head, I
kissed it three or four times with the highest veneration, and placed it
in my purse. I would not exchange that fragment, small as it is, for all
the gold in the Tagus. I will enclose it in gold, but so that it may shine
through crystal."

He is also shown some relics not shown to ordinary visitors. "Several wax
candles are lighted, and a small image is produced, neither excelling in
material nor workmanship; but in virtue most efficacious. He then
exhibited the golden and silver statues. 'This one,' says he, 'is entirely
of gold; this is silver gilt; he added the weight of each, its value, and
the name of the donor.[216] Then he drew forth from the altar itself, a
world of admirable things, the individual articles of which, if I were to
proceed to describe, this day would not suffice for the relation. So that
pilgrimage terminated most fortunately for me. I was abundantly gratified
with sights; and I bring away this inestimable gift, a token bestowed by
the Virgin herself.

"'Have you made no trial of the powers of your wood?'

"I have: in an inn, before the end of three days, I found a man afflicted
in mind, for whom charms were then in preparation. This piece of wood was
placed under his pillow, unknown to himself; he fell into a sleep equally
deep and prolonged; in the morning he rose of whole mind."

       *       *       *       *       *

Chaucer left his account of the Canterbury Pilgrimage incomplete; but
another author, soon after Chaucer's death, wrote a supplement to his
great work, which, however inferior in genius to the work of the great
master, yet admirably serves our purpose of giving a graphic contemporary
picture of the doings of a company of pilgrims to St. Thomas, when arrived
at their destination. Erasmus, too, in the colloquy already so largely
quoted, enables us to add some details to the picture. The pilgrims of
Chaucer's continuator arrived in Canterbury at "mydmorowe." Erasmus tells
us what they saw as they approached the city. "The church dedicated to St.
Thomas, erects itself to heaven with such majesty, that even from a
distance it strikes religious awe into the beholders.... There are two
vast towers that seem to salute the visitor from afar, and make the
surrounding country far and wide resound with the wonderful booming of
their brazen bells." Being arrived, they took up their lodgings at the

  "They toke their In and loggit them at midmorowe I trowe
   Atte Cheker of the hope, that many a man doth know."

And mine host of the "Tabard," in Southwark, their guide, having given the
necessary orders for their dinner, they all proceeded to the cathedral to
make their offerings at the shrine of St. Thomas. At the church door they
were sprinkled with holy water as they entered. The knight and the better
sort of the company went straight to their devotions; but some of the
pilgrims of a less educated class, began to wander about the nave of the
church, curiously admiring all the objects around them. The miller and his
companions entered into a warm discussion concerning the arms in the
painted glass windows. At length the host of the "Tabard" called them
together and reproved them for their negligence, whereupon they hastened
to make their offerings:--

  "Then passed they forth boystly gogling with their hedds
   Kneeled down to-fore the shrine, and hertily their beads
   They prayed to St. Thomas, in such wise as they couth;
   And sith the holy relikes each man with his mouth
   Kissed, as a goodly monk the names told and taught.
   And sith to other places of holyness they raught,
   And were in their devocioune tyl service were al done."

Erasmus gives a very detailed account of these "holy relikes," and of the
"other places of holiness":--

"On your entrance [by the south porch] the edifice at once displays itself
in all its spaciousness and majesty. To that part any one is admitted.
There are some books fixed to the pillars, and the monument of I know not
whom. The iron screens stop further progress, but yet admit a view of the
whole space, from the choir to the end of the church. To the choir you
mount by many steps, under which is a passage leading to the north. At
that spot is shown a wooden altar, dedicated to the Virgin, but mean, nor
remarkable in any respect, unless as a monument of antiquity, putting to
shame the extravagance of these times. There the pious old man is said to
have breathed his last farewell to the Virgin when his death was at hand.
On the altar is the point of the sword with which the head of the most
excellent prelate was cleft, and his brain stirred, that he might be the
more instantly despatched. The sacred rust of this iron, through love of
the martyr, we religiously kissed. Leaving this spot, we descended to the
crypt. It has its own priests. There was first exhibited the perforated
skull of the martyr, the forehead is left bare to be kissed, while the
other parts are covered with silver. At the same time is shown a slip of
lead, engraved with his name _Thomas Acrensis_.[218] There also hang in
the dark the hair shirts, the girdles and bandages with which that prelate
subdued his flesh; striking horror with their very appearance, and
reproaching us with our indulgence and our luxuries. From hence we
returned into the choir. On the north side the aumbrics were unlocked. It
is wonderful to tell what a quantity of bones was there brought out:
skulls, jaw-bones, teeth, hands, fingers, entire arms; on all which we
devoutly bestowed our kisses; and the exhibition seemed likely to last
for ever, if my somewhat unmanageable companion in that pilgrimage had not
interrupted the zeal of the showman.

"'Did he offend the priest?'

"When an arm was brought forward which had still the bloody flesh
adhering, he drew back from kissing it, and even betrayed some weariness.
The priest presently shut up his treasures. We next viewed the table of
the altar, and its ornaments, and then the articles which are kept under
the altar, all most sumptuous; you would say Midas and Croesus were
beggars if you saw that vast assemblage of gold and silver. After this we
were led into the sacristy. What a display was there of silken vestments,
what an array of golden candlesticks!... From this place we were conducted
back to the upper floor, for behind the high-altar you ascend again as
into a new church. There, in a little chapel, is shown the whole figure of
the excellent man, gilt and adorned with many jewels. Then the head priest
(prior) came forward. He opened to us the shrine in which what is left of
the body of the holy man is said to rest. A wooden canopy covers the
shrine, and when that is drawn up with ropes, inestimable treasures are
opened to view. The least valuable part was gold; every part glistened,
shone, and sparkled with rare and very large jewels, some of them
exceeding the size of a goose's egg. There some monks stood around with
much veneration; the cover being raised we all worshipped. The prior with
a white rod pointed out each jewel, telling its name in French, its value,
and the name of its donor, for the principal of them were offerings sent
by sovereign princes.... From hence we returned to the crypt, where the
Virgin Mother has her abode, but a somewhat dark one, being edged in by
more than one screen.

"'What was she afraid of?'

"Nothing, I imagine, but thieves; for I have never seen anything more
burdened with riches. When lamps were brought, we beheld a more than royal
spectacle.... Lastly we were conducted back to the sacristy; there was
brought out a box covered with black leather; it was laid upon the table
and opened; immediately all knelt and worshipped.

"'What was in it?'

"Some torn fragments of linen, and most of them retaining marks of
dirt.... After offering us a cup of wine, the prior courteously dismissed

When Chaucer's pilgrims had seen such of this magnificence as existed in
their earlier time, noon approaching, they gathered together and went to
their dinner. Before they left the church, however, they bought signs "as
the manner was," to show to all men that they had performed this
meritorious act.

  "There as manere and custom is, signes there they bought
   For men of contre' should know whom they had sought.
   Each man set his silver in such thing as they liked,
   And in the meen while the miller had y-piked
   His bosom full of signys of Canterbury broches.
   Others set their signys upon their hedes, and some upon their cap,
   And sith to dinner-ward they gan for to stapp."

The appearance of these shrines and their surroundings is brought before
our eyes by the pictures in a beautiful volume of Lydgate's "History of
St. Edmund" in the British Museum (Harl. 2,278). At f. 40 is a
representation of the shrine of St. Edmund in the abbey church of St.
Edmund's Bury. At f. 9 a still better representation of it, showing the
iron grille which enclosed it, a monk worshipping at it, and a clerk with
a wand, probably the custodian whose duty it was to show the various
jewels and relics--as the prior did to Erasmus at Canterbury. At f. 47 is
another shrine, with some people about it who have come in the hope of
receiving miraculous cures; still another at f. 100 v., with pilgrims
praying round it. At f. 109 a shrine, with two monks in a stall beside it
saying an office, a clerk and others present. At f. 10 v. a shrine with a
group of monks. Other representations of shrines (all no doubt intended to
represent the one shrine of St. Edmund, but differing in details) are to
be found at f. 108 v., 117, &c. In the MS. Roman "D'Alexandre," of the
latter half of the fourteenth century, in the Bodleian Library, at f.
2,660, is a very good representation of the shrine of St. Thomas the
Apostle, with several people about it, and in front are two pilgrims in
rough habits, a broad hat slung over the shoulder, and a staff.

We have hitherto spoken of male pilgrims; but it must be borne in mind
that women of all ranks were frequently to be found on pilgrimage;[219]
and all that has been said of the costume and habits of the one sex
applies equally to the other. We give here a cut of a female pilgrim with
scrip, staff, and hat, from Pl. 134 of Strutt's "Dresses and Habits of the
People of England," who professes to take it from the Harleian MS. 621. We
also give a picture of a pilgrim monk (Cotton. MS. Tiberius, A. 7.) who
bears the staff and scrip, but is otherwise habited in the proper costume
of his order.

[Illustration: _Female Pilgrim._ (Strutt, pl. 134.)]

[Illustration: _Pilgrim Monk._]

When the pilgrim had returned safely home, it was but natural and proper
that as he had been sent forth with the blessing and prayers of the
church, he should present himself again in church to give thanks for the
accomplishment of his pilgrimage and his safe return. We do not find in
the service-books--as we might have expected--any special service for this
occasion, but we find sufficient indications that it was the practice.
Knighton tells us, for example, of the famous Guy, Earl of Warwick, that
on his return from his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, before he took any
refreshment, he went to all the churches in the city to return thanks. Du
Cange tells us that palmers were received on their return home with
ecclesiastical processions; but perhaps this was only in the case of men
of some social importance. We have the details of one such occasion on
record:[220] William de Mandeville, Earl of Essex, assumed the cross, and
after procuring suitable necessaries, took with him a retinue, and among
them a chaplain to perform divine offices, for all of whom he kept a daily
table. Before he set out he went to Gilbert, Bishop of London, for his
license and benediction. He travelled by land as far as Rome, over France,
Burgundy, and the Alps, leaving his horse at Mantua. He visited every holy
place in Jerusalem and on his route; made his prayers and offerings at
each; and so returned. Upon his arrival, he made presents of silk cloths
to all the churches of his see, for copes or coverings of the altars. The
monks of Walden met him in procession, in albes and copes, singing,
"Blessed is he who cometh in the name of the Lord;" and the earl coming
to the high-altar, and there prostrating himself, the prior gave him the
benediction. After this he rose, and kneeling, offered some precious
relics in an ivory box, which he had obtained in Jerusalem and elsewhere.
This offering concluded, he rose, and stood before the altar; the prior
and convent singing the _Te Deum_. Leaving the church he went to the
chapter, to give and receive the kiss of peace from the prior and monks. A
sumptuous entertainment followed for himself and his suite; and the
succeeding days were passed in visits to relatives and friends, who
congratulated him on his safe return.

[Illustration: From "Le Pélerinage de la Vie Humaine" (French National

Du Cange says that palmers used to present their scrips and staves to
their parish churches. And Coryatt[221] says that he saw cockle and mussel
shells, and beads, and other religious relics, hung up over the door of a
little chapel in a nunnery, which, says Fosbroke, were offerings made by
pilgrims on their return from Compostella.

The illuminated MS., Julius E. VI., illustrates, among other events of the
life of Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, various scenes of his
pilgrimage to Rome and to Jerusalem. In an illumination (subsequently
engraved in the chapter on Merchants) he is seen embarking in his own
ship; in another, he is presented to the Pope and cardinals at Rome[222]
(subsequently engraved in the chapter on Secular Clergy); in another, he
is worshipping at the Holy Sepulchre, where he hung up his shield in
remembrance of his accomplished vow.

The additional MS. 24,189, is part of St. John Mandeville's history of his
travels, and its illuminations in some respects illustrate the voyage of a
pilgrim of rank.

Hans Burgmaier's "Images de Saints," &c.,--from which we take the figure
on the next page,--affords us a very excellent contemporary illustration
of a pilgrim of high rank, with his attendants, all in pilgrim costume,
and wearing the signs which show us that their pilgrimage has been
successfully accomplished.

Those who had taken any of the greater pilgrimages would probably be
regarded with a certain respect and reverence by their untravelled
neighbours, and the agnomen of Palmer or Pilgrim, which would naturally be
added to their Christian name--as William the Palmer, or John the
Pilgrim--is doubtless the origin of two sufficiently common surnames. The
tokens of pilgrimage sometimes even accompanied a man to his grave, and
were sculptured on his monument. Shells have not unfrequently been found
in stone coffins, and are taken with great probability to be relics of the
pilgrimage, which the deceased had once taken to Compostella, and which as
sacred things, and having a certain religious virtue, were strewed over
him as he was carried upon his bier in the funeral procession, and were
placed with him in his grave. For example, when the grave of Bishop
Mayhew, who died in 1516, in Hereford Cathedral, was opened some years
ago, there was found lying by his side, a common, rough, hazel wand,
between four and five feet long, and about as thick as a man's finger; and
with it a mussel and a few oyster-shells. Four other instances of such
hazel rods, without accompanying shells, buried with ecclesiastics, had
previously been observed in the same cathedral.[223] The tomb of Abbot
Cheltenham, at Tewkesbury, has the spandrels ornamented with shields
charged with scallop shells, and the pilgrim staff and scrip are
sculptured on the bosses of the groining of the canopy over the tomb.
There is a gravestone at Haltwhistle, Northumberland, to which we have
already more than once had occasion to refer,[224] on which is the usual
device of a cross sculptured in relief, and on one side of the shaft of
the cross are laid a sword and shield, charged with the arms of
Blenkinsop, a fess between three garbs, indicating, we presume, that the
deceased was a knight; on the other side of the shaft of the cross are
laid a palmer's staff, and a scrip, bearing also garbs, and indicating
that the knight had been a pilgrim.

[Illustration: _Pilgrim on Horseback._]

In the church of Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire, there is, under a
monumental arch in the wall of the north aisle, a recumbent effigy, a good
deal defaced, of a man in pilgrim weeds. A tunic or gown reaches half-way
down between the knee and ankle, and he has short pointed laced boots; a
hat with its margin decorated with scallop-shells lies under his head, his
scrip tasselled and charged with scallop-shells is at his right side, and
his rosary on his left, and his staff is laid diagonally across the body.
The costly style of the monument,[225] the lion at his feet, and above all
a collar of SS. round his neck, prove that the person thus commemorated
was a person of distinction.

In the churchyard of Llanfihangel-Aber-Cowen, Carmarthenshire, there are
three graves,[226] which are assigned by the local tradition to three
holy palmers, "who wandered thither in poverty and distress, and being
about to perish for want, slew each other: the last survivor buried his
fellows and then himself in one of the graves which they had prepared, and
pulling the stone over him, left it, as it is, ill adjusted." Two of the
headstones have very rude demi-effigies, with a cross patée sculptured
upon them. In one of the graves were found, some years ago, the bones of a
female or youth, and half-a-dozen scallop-shells. There are also, among
the curious symbols which appear on mediæval coffin-stones, some which are
very likely intended for pilgrim staves. There is one at Woodhorn,
Northumberland, engraved in the "Manual of Sepulchral Slabs and Crosses,"
and another at Alnwick-le-Street, Yorkshire, is engraved in Gough's
"Sepulchral Monuments," vol. i. It may be that these were men who had made
a vow of perpetual pilgrimage, or who died in the midst of an unfinished
pilgrimage, and therefore the pilgrim insignia were placed upon their
monuments. If every man and woman who had made a pilgrimage had had its
badges carved upon their tombs, we should surely have found many other
tombs thus designated; but, indeed, we have the tombs of men who we know
had accomplished pilgrimages to Jerusalem, but have no pilgrim insignia
upon their tombs.

Other illustrations of pilgrim costume may be found scattered throughout
the illuminated MSS. References to some of the best of them are here
added. In the Royal, 1,696, at f. 163, is a good drawing of St. James as a
pilgrim. In the Add. MS. 17,687, at f. 33, another of the pilgrim saints
with scrip and staff; in the MS. Nero E 2, a half-length of the saint with
a scallop-shell in his hat; in the MS. 18,143, of early sixteenth-century
date, at f. 57 v., another. In Lydgate's "History of St. Edmund," already
quoted for its pictures of shrines, there are also several good pictures
of pilgrims. On f. 79 is a group of three pilgrims, who appear again in
different parts of the history, twice on page 80, and again at 84 and 85.
At f. 81 the three pilgrims have built themselves a hermitage and chapel,
surrounded by a fence of wicker-work. In Henry VII.'s chapel, Westminster,
the figure of a pilgrim is frequently introduced in the ornamental
sculpture of the side chapels and on the reredos, in allusion, no doubt,
to the pilgrims who figure in the legendary history of St. Edmund the

Having followed the pilgrim to his very tomb, there we pause. We cannot
but satirise the troops of mere religious holiday-makers, who rode a
pleasant summer's holiday through the green roads of merry England,
feasting at the inns, singing amorous songs, and telling loose stories by
the way; going through a round of sight-seeing at the end of it; and
drinking foul water in which a dead man's blood had been mingled, or a
dead man's bones had been washed. But let us be allowed to indulge the
hope that every act of real, honest, self-denial--however mistaken--in
remorse for sin, for the sake of purity, or for the honour of religion,
did benefit the honest, though mistaken devotee. Is _our_ religion so
perfect and so pure, and is _our_ practice so exactly accordant with it,
that we can afford to sit in severe judgment upon honest, self-denying




The present organisation of the Church of England dates from the Council
of Hertford, A.D. 673. Before that time the Saxon people were the object
of missionary operations, carried on by two independent bodies, the
Italian mission, having its centre at Canterbury, and the Celtic mission,
in Iona. The bishops who had been sent from one or other of these sources
into the several kingdoms of the Heptarchy, gathered a body of clergy
about them, with whom they lived in common at the cathedral town; thence
they made missionary progresses through the towns and villages of the
Saxon "bush;" returning always to the cathedral as their head-quarters and
home. The national churches which sprang from these two sources were kept
asunder by some differences of discipline and ceremonial rather than of
doctrine. These differences were reconciled at the Council of Hertford,
and all the churches there and then recognised Theodore, Archbishop of
Canterbury, as the Metropolitan of all England.

To the same archbishop we owe the establishment of the parochial
organisation of the Church of England, which has ever since continued. He
pointed out to the people the advantage of having the constant
ministrations of a regular pastor, instead of the occasional visits of a
missionary. He encouraged the thanes to provide a dwelling-house and a
parcel of glebe for the clergyman's residence; and permitted that the
tithe of each manor--which the thane had hitherto paid into the common
church-fund of the bishop--should henceforth be paid to the resident
pastor, for his own maintenance and the support of his local hospitalities
and charities; and lastly, he permitted each thane to select the pastor
for his own manor out of the general body of the clergy. Thus naturally
grew the whole establishment of the Church of England; thus each kingdom
of the Heptarchy became, in ecclesiastical language, a diocese, each manor
a parish; and thus the patronage of the benefices of England became vested
in the lords of the manors.

At the same time that a rector was thus gradually settled in every parish,
with rights and duties which soon became defined, and sanctioned by law,
the bishop continued to keep a body of clergy about him in the cathedral,
whose position also gradually became defined and settled. The number of
clergy in the cathedral establishment became settled, and they acquired
the name of canons; they were organised into a collegiate body, with a
dean and other officers. The estates of the bishops were distinguished
from those of the body of canons. Each canon had his own house within the
walled space about the cathedral, which was called the Close, and a share
in the common property of the Chapter. Besides the canons, thus limited in
number, there gradually arose a necessity for other clergymen to fulfil
the various duties of a cathedral. These received stipends, and lodged
where they could in the town; but in time these additional clergy also
were organised into a corporation, and generally some benefactor was found
to build them a quadrangle of little houses within, or hard by, the Close,
and often to endow their corporation with lands and livings. The Vicars'
Close at Wells is a very good and well-known example of these
supplementary establishments. It is a long quadrangle, with little houses
on each side, a hall at one end, and a library at the other, and a direct
communication with the cathedral. There also arose in process of time many
collegiate churches in the kingdom, which, resembled the cathedral
establishments of secular canons in every respect, except that no bishop
had his see within their church. Some of the churches of these colleges of
secular canons were architecturally equal to the cathedrals. Southwell
Minster, for example, is not even equalled by many of the cathedral
churches. It would occupy too much space to enter into any details of the
constitution of these establishments.

These canons may usually be recognised in pictures by their costume. The
most characteristic features were the square cap and the furred amys. The
amys was a fur cape worn over the shoulders, with a hood attached, and
usually has a fringe of the tails of the fur or sometimes of little bells,
and two long ends in front. In the accompanying very beautiful woodcut we
have a semi-choir of secular canons, seated in their stalls in the
cathedral, with the bishop in his stall at the west end. They are habited
in surplices, ornamented with needlework, beneath which may be seen their
robes, some pink, some blue in colour.[227] One in the subsellæ seems to
have his furred amys thrown over the arm of his stall; his right-hand
neighbour seems to have his hanging over his shoulder. He, and one in the
upper stalls, have round skull caps (birettas); others have the hood on
their heads, where it assumes a horned shape, which may be seen in other
pictures of canons. The woodcut is part of a full-page illumination of the
interior of a church, in the Book of Hours of Richard II., in the British
Museum (Domit. xvii.).


These powerful ecclesiastical establishments continued to flourish
throughout the Middle Ages; their histories must be sought in Dugdale's
"Monasticon," or Britton's or Murray's "Cathedrals," or the monographs of
the several cathedrals. In the registers of the cathedrals there exists
also a vast amount of unpublished matter, which would supply all the
little life-like details that historians usually pass by, but which we
need to enable us really to enter into the cathedral life of the Middle
Ages. The world is indebted to Mr. Raine for the publication of some such
details from the registry of York, in the very interesting "York Fabric
Rolls," which he edited for the Surtees Society.

To return to the Saxon rectors. By the end of the Saxon period of our
history we find the whole kingdom divided into parishes, and in each a
rector resident. Probably the rectors were often related to the lords of
the manors, as is natural in the case of family livings; they were not a
learned clergy; speaking generally they were a married clergy; in other
respects, too, they did not affect the ascetic spirit of monasticism; they
ate and drank like other people; farmed their own glebes; spent a good
deal of their leisure in hawking and hunting, like their brothers, and
cousins, and neighbours; but all their interests were in the people and
things of their own parishes; they seem to have performed their clerical
functions fairly well; and they were bountiful to the poor; in short, they
seem to have had the virtues and failings of the country rectors of a
hundred years ago.

After the Norman conquest several causes concurred to deprive a large
majority of the parishes of the advantage of the cure of well-born,
well-endowed rectors, and to supply their places by ill-paid vicars and
parochial chaplains. First among these causes we may mention the evil of
impropriations, from which so many of our parishes are yet suffering, and
of which this is a brief explanation. Just before the Norman conquest
there was a great revival of the monastic principle; several new orders of
monks had been founded; and the religious feeling of the age set in
strongly in favour of these religious communities which then, at least,
were learned, industrious, and self-denying. The Normans founded many new
monasteries in England, and not only endowed them with lands and manors,
but introduced the custom of endowing them also with the rectories of
which they were patrons. They gave the benefice to the convent, and the
convent, as a religious corporation, took upon itself the office of
rector, and provided a vicar to perform the spiritual duties of the cure.
The apportionment of the temporalities of the benefice usually was, that
the convent took the great tithe, which formed the far larger portion of
the benefice, and gave the vicar the small tithe, and (if it were not too
large) the rectory-house and glebe for his maintenance. The position of a
poor vicar, it is easy to see, was very different in dignity and
emolument, and in prestige in the eyes of his parishioners, and the means
of conferring temporal benefits upon them, from that of the old rectors
his predecessors in the cure. By the time of the Reformation, about half
of the livings of England and Wales had thus become impropriate to
monasteries, cathedral chapters, corporations, guilds, &c.; and since the
great tithe was not restored to the parishes at the dissolution of the
religious houses, but granted to laymen together with the abbey-lands,
about half the parishes of England are still suffering from this
perversion of the ancient Saxon endowments.

Another cause of the change in the condition of the parochial clergy was
the custom of papal provisors. The popes, in the thirteenth century,
gradually assumed a power of nominating to vacant benefices. Gregory IX.
and Innocent IV., who ruled the church in the middle of this century, are
said to have presented Italian priests to all the best benefices in
England. Many of these foreigners, having preferment in their own country,
never came near their cures, but employed parish chaplains to fulfil their
duties, and sometimes neglected to do even that. Edward III. resisted
this invasion of the rights of the patrons of English livings, and in the
time of Richard II. it was finally stopped by the famous statute of
Præmunire (A.D. 1392).

The custom of allowing one man to hold several livings was another means
of depriving parishes of a resident rector, and handing them over to the
care of a curate. The extent to which this system of Pluralities was
carried in the Middle Ages seems almost incredible; we even read of one
man having from four to five hundred benefices.

Another less known abuse was the custom of presenting to benefices men who
had taken only the minor clerical orders. A glance at the lists of
incumbents of benefices in any good county history will reveal the fact
that rectors of parishes were often only deacons, sub-deacons, or
acolytes.[228] It is clear that in many of these cases--probably in the
majority of them--the men had taken a minor order only to qualify
themselves for holding the temporalities of a benefice, and never
proceeded to the priesthood at all; they employed a chaplain to perform
their spiritual functions for them, while they enjoyed the fruits of the
benefice as if it were a lay fee, the minor order which they had taken
imposing no restraint upon their living an entirely secular life.[229] It
is clear that a considerable number of priests were required to perform
the duties of the numerous parishes whose rectors were absent or in minor
orders, who seem to have been called parochial chaplains. The emolument
and social position of these parochial chaplains were not such as to make
the office a desirable one; and it would seem that the candidates for it
were, to a great extent, drawn from the lower classes of the people.
Chaucer tells us of his poor parson of a town, whose description we give
below, that

  "With him there was a _ploughman_ was his brother."

In the Norwich corporation records of the time of Henry VIII. (1521 A.D.),
there is a copy of the examination of "Sir William Green," in whose sketch
of his own life, though he was only a pretended priest, we have a curious
history of the way in which many a poor man's son did really attain the
priesthood. He was the son of a labouring man, learned grammar at the
village grammar school for two years, and then went to day labour with his
father. Afterwards removing to Boston, he lived with his aunt, partly
labouring for his living, and going to school as he had opportunity. Being
evidently a clerkly lad, he was admitted to the minor orders, up to that
of acolyte, at the hands of "Friar Graunt," who was a suffragan bishop in
the diocese of Lincoln. After that he went to Cambridge, where, as at
Boston, he partly earned a livelihood by his labour, and partly availed
himself of the opportunities of learning which the university offered,
getting his meat and drink of alms. At length, having an opportunity of
going to Rome, with two monks of Whitby Abbey (perhaps in the capacity of
attendant, one Edward Prentis being of the company, who was, perhaps, his
fellow-servant to the two monks), he there endeavoured to obtain the order
of the priesthood, which seems to have been conferred rather
indiscriminately at Rome, and without a "title;" but in this he was
unsuccessful. After his return to England he laboured for his living,
first with his brother in Essex, then at Cambridge, then at Boston, then
in London. At last he went to Cambridge again, and, by the influence of
Mr. Coney, obtained of the Vice-Chancellor a licence under seal to collect
subscriptions for one year towards an exhibition to complete his
education in the schools, as was often done by poor scholars.[230] Had he
obtained money enough, completed his education, and obtained ordination in
due course, it would have completed the story in a regular way. But here
he fell into bad hands, forged first a new poor scholar's licence, and
then letters of orders, and then wandered about begging alms as an
unfortunate, destitute priest; he may furnish us with a type of the idle
and vagabond priests, of whom there were only too many in the country, and
of whom Sir Thomas More says, "the order is rebuked by the priests'
begging and lewd living, which either is fain to walk at rovers and live
upon trentals (thirty days' masses), or worse, or to serve in a secular
man's house."[231] The original of this sketch is given at length in the
note below.[232]

This custom of poor scholars gaining their livelihood and the means of
prosecuting their studies by seeking alms was very common. It should be
noticed here that the Church in the Middle Ages was the chief ladder by
which men of the lower ranks were able to climb up--and vast numbers did
climb up--into the upper ranks of society, to be clergymen, and monks, and
abbots, and bishops, statesmen, and popes. Piers Ploughman, in a very
illiberal strain, makes it a subject of reproach--

  "Now might each sowter[233] his son setten to schole,
   And each beggar's brat in the book learne,
   And worth to a writer and with a lorde dwelle,
   Or falsly to a frere the fiend for to serven.
   So of that beggar's brat a Bishop that worthen,
   Among the peers of the land prese to sythen;
   And lordes sons lowly to the lorde's loute,
   Knyghtes crooketh hem to, and coucheth ful lowe;
   And his sire a sowter y-soiled with grees,[234]
   His teeth with toyling of lether battered as a sawe."

The Church was the great protector and friend of the lower classes of
society, and that on the highest grounds. In this very matter of educating
the children of the poor, and opening to such as were specially gifted a
suitable career, we find so late as the date of the Reformation, Cranmer
maintaining the rights of the poor on high grounds. For among the Royal
Commissioners for reorganising the cathedral establishment at Canterbury
"were more than one or two who would have none admitted to the Grammar
School but sons or younger brothers of gentlemen. As for others,
husbandmen's children, they were more used, they said, for the plough and
to be artificers than to occupy the place of the learned sort. Whereto the
Archbishop said that poor men's children are many times endowed with more
singular gifts of nature, which are also the gifts of God, as eloquence,
memory, apt pronunciation, sobriety, and such like; and also commonly more
apt to study than is the gentleman's son, more delicately educated.
Hereunto it was, on the other part, replied that it was for the
ploughman's son to go to plough, and the artificer's son to apply to the
trade of his parent's vocation; and the gentleman's children are used to
have the knowledge of government and rule of the commonwealth. 'I grant,'
replied the Archbishop, 'much of your meaning herein as needful in a
commonwealth; but yet utterly to exclude the ploughman's son and the poor
man's son from the benefit of learning, as though they were unworthy to
have the gifts of the Holy Ghost bestowed upon them as well as upon
others, was much as to say as that Almighty God should not be at liberty
to bestow his great gifts of grace upon any person, but as we and other
men shall appoint them to be employed according to our fancy, and not
according to his most goodly will and pleasure, who giveth his gifts of
learning and other perfections in all sciences unto all kinds and states
of people indifferently."

       *       *       *       *       *

Besides the rectors and vicars of parishes, there was another class of
beneficed clergymen in the middle ages, who gradually became very
numerous, viz., the chantry priests. By the end of the ante-Reformation
period there was hardly a church in the kingdom which had not one or more
chantries founded in it, and endowed for the perpetual maintenance of a
chantry priest, to say mass daily for ever for the soul's health of the
founder and his family. The churches of the large and wealthy towns had
sometimes ten or twelve such chantries. The chantry chapel was sometimes
built on to the parish church, and opening into it; sometimes it was only
a corner of the church screened off from the rest of the area by openwork
wooden screens. The chantry priest had sometimes a chantry-house to live
in, and estates for his maintenance, sometimes he had only an annual
income, charged on the estate of the founder. The chantries were
suppressed, and their endowments confiscated, in the reign of Edward VI.,
but the chantry chapels still remain as part of our parish churches, and
where the parclose screens have long since been removed, the traces of the
chantry altar are still very frequently apparent to the eye of the
ecclesiastical antiquary. Sometimes more than one priest was provided for
by wealthy people. Richard III. commenced the foundation of a chantry of
one hundred chaplains, to sing masses in the cathedral church of York; the
chantry-house was begun, and six altars were erected in York Minster, when
the king's death at Bosworth Field interrupted the completion of the
magnificent design.[235]

We have next to add to our enumeration of the various classes of the
mediæval clergy another class of chaplains, whose duties were very nearly
akin to those of the chantry priests. These were the guild priests. It was
the custom throughout the middle ages for men and women to associate
themselves in religious guilds, partly for mutual assistance in temporal
matters, but chiefly for mutual prayers for their welfare while living,
and for their soul's health when dead. These guilds usually maintained a
chaplain, whose duty it was to celebrate mass daily for the brethren and
sisters of the guild. These guild priests must have been numerous, _e.g._,
we learn from Blomfield's "Norfolk," that there were at the Reformation
ten guilds in Windham Church, Norfolk, seven at Hingham, seven at
Swaffham, seventeen at Yarmouth, &c. Moreover, a guild, like a chantry,
had sometimes more than one guild priest. Leland tells us the guild of St.
John's, in St. Botolph's Church, Boston, had ten priests, "living in a
fayre house at the west end of the parish church yard." In St. Mary's
Church, Lichfield, was a guild which had five priests.[236]

The rules of some of these religious guilds may be found in Stow's "Survey
of London," _e.g._, of St. Barbara's guild in the church of St. Katherine,
next the Tower of London (in book ii. p. 7 of Hughes's edition.)

We find bequests to the guild priests, in common with other chaplains, in
the ancient wills, _e.g._, in 1541, Henry Waller, of Richmond, leaves "to
every gyld prest of thys town, vi{d}. y{t} ar at my beryall."[237]

Dr. Rock says,[238] "Besides this, every guild priest had to go on Sundays
and holy days, and help the priests in the parochial services of the
church in which his guild kept their altar. All chantry priests were
bidden by our old English canons to do the same." The brotherhood priest
of the guild of the Holy Trinity, at St. Botolph's, in London, was
required to be "meke and obedient unto the qu'er in alle divine servyces
duryng hys time, as custome is in the citye amonge alle other p'sts."
Sometimes a chantry priest was specially required by his foundation deed
to help in the cure of souls in the parish, as in the case of a chantry
founded in St. Mary's, Maldon, and Little Bentley, Essex;[239] sometimes
the chantry chapel was built in a hamlet at a distance from the parish
church, and was intended to serve as a chapel of ease, and the priest as
an assistant curate, as at Foulness Island and Billericay, both in Essex.

But it is very doubtful whether the chantry priests generally considered
themselves bound to take any share in the parochial work of the
parish.[240] In the absence of any cure of souls, the office of chantry or
guild priest was easy, and often lucrative; and we find it a common
subject of complaint, from the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries, that
it was preferred to a cure of souls; and that even parochial incumbents
were apt to leave their parishes in the hands of a parochial chaplain, and
seek for themselves a chantry or guild, or one of the temporary
engagements to celebrate annals, of which there were so many provided by
the wills of which we shall shortly have to speak. Thus Chaucer reckons,
among the virtues of his poore parson, that--

  "He set not his benefice to hire,
   And let his shepe accomber in the mire,
   And runne to London to Saint Poule's,
   To seken him a chauntrie for soules,
   Or with a brotherhood to be with-held,
   But dwelt at home, and kepte well his fold."

So also Piers Ploughman--

  "Parsons and parisshe preistes, pleyned hem to the bisshope,
   That hire parishes weren povere sith the pestilence tyme,
   To have a licence and leve at London to dwelle
   And syngen ther for symonie, for silver is swete."

Besides the chantry priests and guild priests, there was a great crowd of
priests who gained a livelihood by taking temporary engagements to say
masses for the souls of the departed. Nearly every will of the period we
are considering provides for the saying of masses for the soul of the
testator. Sometimes it is only by ordering a fee to be paid to every
priest who shall be present at the funeral, sometimes by ordering the
executors to have a number of masses, varying from ten to ten thousand,
said as speedily as may be; sometimes by directing that a priest shall be
engaged to say mass for a certain period, varying from thirty days to
forty or fifty years. These casual masses formed an irregular provision
for a large number of priests, many of whom performed no other clerical
function, and too often led a dissolute as well as an idle life.
Archbishop Islip says in his "Constitutions:"[241]--"We are certainly
informed, by common fame and experience, that modern priests, through
covetousness and love of ease, not content with reasonable salaries,
demand excessive pay for their labours, and receive it; and do so despise
labour and study pleasure, that they wholly refuse, as parish priests, to
serve in churches or chapels, or to attend the cure of souls, though
fitting salaries are offered them, that they may live in a leisurely
manner, by celebrating annals for the quick and dead; and so parish
churches and chapels remain unofficiated, destitute of parochial
chaplains, and even proper curates, to the grievous danger of souls."
Chaucer has introduced one of this class into the Canon's Yeoman's

  "In London was a priest, an annueller,[242]
   That therein dwelled hadde many a year,
   Which was so pleasant and so serviceable
   Unto the wife there as he was at table
   That she would suffer him no thing to pay
   For board ne clothing, went he never so gay,
   And spending silver had he right ynoit."[243]

Another numerous class of the clergy were the domestic chaplains. Every
nobleman and gentleman had a private chapel in his own house, and an
ecclesiastical establishment attached, proportionate to his own rank and
wealth. In royal houses and those of the great nobles, this private
establishment was not unfrequently a collegiate establishment, with a dean
and canons, clerks, and singing men and boys, who had their church and
quadrangle within the precincts of the castle, and were maintained by
ample endowments. The establishment of the royal chapel of St. George, in
Windsor Castle, is, perhaps, the only remaining example. The household
book of the Earl of Northumberland gives us very full details of his
chapel establishment, and of their duties, and of the emoluments which
they received in money and kind. They consisted of a dean, who was to be a
D.D. or LL.D. or B.D., and ten other priests, and eleven gentlemen and six
children, who composed the choir.[244] But country gentlemen of wealth
often maintained a considerable chapel establishment. Henry Machyn, in
his diary,[245] tells us, in noticing the death of Sir Thomas Jarmyn, of
Rushbrooke Hall, Suffolk, in 1552, that "he was the best housekeeper in
the county of Suffolk, and kept a goodly chapel of singing men." Knights
and gentlemen of less means, or less love of goodly singing men, were
content with a single priest as chaplain.[246] Even wealthy yeomen and
tradesmen had their domestic chaplain. Sir Thomas More says,[247] there
was "such a rabel [of priests], that every mean man must have a priest in
his house to wait upon his wife, which no man almost lacketh now." The
chapels of the great lords were often sumptuous buildings, erected within
the precincts, of which St. George's, Windsor, and the chapel within the
Tower of London may supply examples. Smaller chapels erected within the
house were still handsome and ecclesiastically-designed buildings, of
which examples may be found in nearly every old castle and manor house
which still exists; _e.g._, the chapel of Colchester Castle of the twelfth
century, of Ormsbro Castle of late twelfth century, of Beverstone Castle
of the fourteenth century, engraved in Parker's "Domestic Architecture,"
III. p. 177; that at Igtham Castle of the fifteenth century, engraved in
the same work, III. p. 173; that at Haddon Hall of the fifteenth century.
In great houses, besides the general chapel, there was often a small
oratory besides for the private use of the lord of the castle, in later
times called a closet; sometimes another oratory for the lady, as in the
case of the Earl of Northumberland.[248] In some of these domestic chapels
we find a curious internal arrangement; the western part of the apartment
is divided into two stories by a wooden floor. This is the case also with
the chapel of the preceptory of Chobham, Northumberland, of the Coyston
Almshouses at Leicester (Parker's "Dom. Arch."). It is the case in one of
the chapels in Tewkesbury Abbey Church, and in the case of a priory church
in Norway. In some cases it was probably to accommodate the tenants of
different stories of the house. The frequency with which in later times
the lord of the house had a private gallery in the chapel (a similar
arrangement occasionally occurs in parish churches) leads us to conjecture
that in these cases of two floors the upper floor was for the members of
the family, and the lower for the servants of the house. These chapels
were thoroughly furnished with vessels, books, robes, and every usual
ornament, and every object and appliance necessary for the performance of
the offices of the church, with a splendour proportioned to the means of
the master of the house. From the Household Book of the Earl of
Northumberland, we gather that the chapel had three altars, and that my
lord and my lady had each a closet, _i.e._, an oratory, in which there
were other altars. The chapel was furnished with hangings, and had a pair
of organs. There were four antiphoners and four grails--service
books--which were so famous for their beauty, that, at the earl's death,
Wolsey intimated his wish to have them. We find mention, too, of the suits
of vestments and single vestments, and copes and surplices, and
altar-cloths for the five altars. All these things were under the care of
the yeoman of the vestry, and were carried about with the earl at his
removals from one to another of his houses. Minute catalogues and
descriptions of the furniture of these domestic chapels may also be found
in the inventories attached to ancient wills.[249]

We shall give hereafter a picture of one of these domestic chaplains,
viz., of Sir Roger, chaplain of the chapel of the Earl of Warwick at
Flamstead. There is a picture of another chaplain of the Earl of Warwick
in the MS. Life of R. Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick (Julius E. IV.), where
the earl and his chaplain are represented sitting together at dinner.

Besides the clergy who were occupied in these various kinds of spiritual
work, there were also a great number of priests engaged in secular
occupations. Bishops were statesmen, generals, and ambassadors, employing
suffragan bishops[250] in the work of their dioceses. Priests were engaged
in many ways in the king's service, and in that of noblemen and others.
Piers Ploughman says:--

  "Somme serven the kyng, and his silver tellen,
   In cheker and in chauncelrie, chalangen his dettes,
   Of wardes and of wardemotes, weyves and theyves.
   And some serven as servantz, lordes and ladies,
   And in stede of stywardes, sitten and demen."

The domestic chaplains were usually employed more or less in secular
duties. Thus such services are regularly allotted to the eleven priests in
the chapel of the Earls of Northumberland; one was surveyor of my lord's
lands, and another my lord's secretary. Mr. Christopher Pickering, in his
will (A.D. 1542), leaves to "my sarvands John Dobson and Frances, xx{s}.
a-pece, besydes ther wages; allso I gyve unto Sir James Edwarde my
sarvand," &c.; and one of the witnesses to the will is "Sir James Edwarde,
preste," who was probably Mr. Pickering's chaplain.[251] Sir Thomas More
says, every man has a priest to wait upon his wife; and in truth the
chaplain seems to have often performed the duties of a superior gentleman
usher. Nicholas Blackburn, a wealthy citizen of York, and twice Lord
Mayor, leaves (A.D. 1431-2) a special bequest to his wife "to find her a
gentlewoman, and a priest, and a servant."[252] Lady Elizabeth Hay leaves
bequests in this order, to her son, her chaplain, her servant, and her



It is necessary, to a complete sketch of the subject of the secular
clergy, to notice, however briefly, the minor orders, which have so long
been abolished in the reformed Church of England, that we have forgotten
their very names. There were seven orders through which the clerk had to
go, from the lowest to the highest step in the hierarchy. The Pontifical
of Archbishop Ecgbert gives us the form of ordination for each order; and
the ordination ceremonies and exhortations show us very fully what were
the duties of the various orders, and by what costume and symbols of
office we may recognise them. But these particulars are brought together
more concisely in a document of much later date, viz., in the account of
the degradation from the priesthood of Sir William Sawtre, the first of
the Lollards who died for heresy, in the year 1400 A.D., and a transcript
of it will suffice for our present purpose. The archbishop, assisted by
several bishops, sitting on the bishop's throne in St. Paul's--Sir William
Sawtre standing before him in priestly robes--proceeded to the degradation
as follows:--"In the name, &c., we, Thomas, &c., degrade and depose you
from the order of priests, and in token thereof we take from you the paten
and the chalice, and deprive you of all power of celebrating mass; we also
strip you of the chasuble, take from you the sacerdotal vestment, and
deprive you altogether of the dignity of the priesthood. Thee also, the
said William, dressed in the habit of a deacon, and having the book of the
gospels in thy hands, do we degrade and depose from the order of deacons,
as a condemned and relapsed heretic; and in token hereof we take from
thee the book of the gospels, and the stole, and deprive thee of the power
of reading the gospels. We degrade thee from the order of subdeacons, and
in token thereof take from thee the albe and maniple. We degrade thee from
the order of an acolyte, taking from thee in token thereof this small
pitcher and taper staff. We degrade thee from the order of an exorcist,
and take from thee in token thereof the book of exorcisms. We degrade thee
from the order of reader, and take from thee in token thereof the book of
divine lessons. Thee also, the said William Sawtre, vested in a surplice
as an ostiary,[254] do we degrade from that order, taking from thee the
surplice and the keys of the church. Furthermore, as a sign of actual
degradation, we have caused the crown and clerical tonsure to be shaved
off in our presence, and to be entirely obliterated like a layman; we have
also caused a woollen cap to be put upon thy head, as a secular layman."

The word _clericus_--clerk--was one of very wide and rather vague
significance, and included not only the various grades of clerks in
orders, of whom we have spoken, but also all men who followed any kind of
occupation which involved the use of reading and writing; finally, every
man who could read might claim the "benefit of clergy," _i.e._, the legal
immunities of a clerk. The word is still used with the same
comprehensiveness and vagueness of meaning. Clerk in Orders is still the
legal description of a clergyman; and men whose occupation is to use the
pen are still called clerks, as lawyers' clerks, merchants' clerks, &c.
Clerks were often employed in secular occupations; for example, Alan
Middleton, who was employed by the convent of St. Alban's to collect
their rents, and who is represented on page 63 ante in the picture from
their "Catalogus Benefactorum" (Nero D. vii., British Museum), is
tonsured, and therefore was a clerk. Chaucer gives us a charming picture
of a poor clerk of Oxford, who seems to have been a candidate for holy
orders, and is therefore germane to our subject:--

  "A clerke there was of Oxenforde also,
   That unto logike hadde long ygo,
   As lene was his horse as is a rake,
   And he was not right fat, I undertake,
   But looked holwe and thereto soberly.
   Ful thredbare was his overest courtepy,[255]
   For he hadde getten him yet no benefice,
   Ne was nought worldly to have an office.[256]
   For him was lever han at his beddes hed
   A twenty bokes, clothed in black or red,
   Of Aristotle and his philosophie,
   Than robes riche, or fidel or sautrie.
   But all be that he was a philosophre,
   Yet hadde he but little gold in cofre,
   But all that he might of his frendes hente,[257]
   On bokes and on lerning he it spente;
   And besely gan for the soules praye
   Of hem that yave him wherewith to scholaie,[258]
   Of studie toke he moste cure and hede.
   Not a word spake he more than was nede,
   And that was said in forme and reverence,
   And short and quike, and ful of high sentence.
   Souning in moral vertue was his speche,
   And gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."

In the Miller's Tale Chaucer gives us a sketch of another poor scholar of
Oxford. He lodged with a carpenter, and

  "A chambre had he in that hostelerie,
   Alone withouten any compaynie,
   Ful fetisly 'ydight with herbés sweet."

His books great and small, and his astrological apparatus

  "On shelvés couched at his beddé's head,
   His press ycovered with a falding red,
   And all about there lay a gay sautrie
   On which he made on nightés melodie
   So swetély that all the chamber rung,
   And _Angelus ad Virginem_ he sung."

We give a typical illustration of the class from one of the characters in
a Dance of Death at the end of a Book of the Hours of the Blessed Virgin
Mary, in the British Museum. It is described beneath as "Un Clerc."[259]

[Illustration: _A Clerk._]

One of this class was employed by every parish to perform certain duties
on behalf of the parishioners, and to assist the clergyman in certain
functions of his office. The Parish Clerk has survived the revolution
which swept away the other minor ecclesiastical officials of the middle
ages, and still has his legal status in the parish church. Probably many
of our readers will be surprised to hear that the office is an ancient
one, and will take interest in a few original extracts which throw light
on the subject.

In the wills he frequently has a legacy left, together with the
clergy--_e.g._, "Item I leave to my parish vicar iij{s.} iiij{d.} Item I
leave to my parish clerk xij{d.} Item I leave to every chaplain present at
my obsequies and mass iiij{d.}" (Will of John Brompton, of Beverley,
merchant, 1443.)[260] Elizabeth del Hay, in 1434, leaves to "every priest
ministering at my obsequies vi{d.}; to every parish clerk iiij{d.}; to
minor clerks to each one ij{d.}"[261] Hawisia Aske, of York, in 1450-1
A.D., leaves to the "parish chaplain of St. Michael iij{s.} iiij{d.}; to
every chaplain of the said church xx{d.}; to the parish clerk of the said
church xx{d.}; to the sub-clerk of the same church x{d.}"[262] John Clerk,
formerly chaplain of the chapel of the Blessed Mary Magdalen, near York,
in 1449, leaves to "the parish clerk of St. Olave, in the suburbs of York,
xij{d.}; to each of the two chaplains of the said church being present at
my funeral and mass iiij{d.}; to the parish clerk of the said church
iiij{d.}; to the sub-clerk of the said church ij{d.}; among the little
boys of the said church wearing surplices iiij{d.}, to be distributed
equally."[263] These extracts serve to indicate the clerical staff of the
several churches mentioned.

From other sources we learn what his duties were. In 1540 the parish of
Milend, near Colchester, was presented to the archdeacon by the rector,
because in the said church there was "nother clerke nor sexten to go withe
him in tyme of visitacion [of the sick], nor to helpe him say masses, nor
to rynge to servyce."[264] And in 1543 the Vicar of Kelveden, Essex,
complains that there is not "caryed holy water,[265] nor ryngyng to
evensonge accordyng as the clerke shuld do, with other dutees to him
belongyng."[266] In the York presentations we find a similar complaint at
Wyghton in 1472; they present that the parish clerk does not perform his
services as he ought, because when he ought to go with the vicar to visit
the sick, the clerk absents himself, and sends a boy with the vicar.[267]
The clerk might be a married man, for in 1416 Thomas Curtas, parish clerk
of the parish of St. Thomas the Martyr, is presented, because with his
wife he has hindered, and still hinders, the parish clerk of St. Mary
Bishophill, York [in which parish he seems to have lived] from entering
his house on the Lord's days with holy water, as is the custom of the
city. Also it is complained that the said Thomas and his wife refuse to
come to hear divine service at their parish church, and withdraw their
oblations.[268] In the Royal MS., 10, E iv., is a series of illustrations
of a mediæval tale, which turns on the adventures of a parish clerk, as
he goes through the parish aspersing the people with holy water. Two of
the pictures will suffice to show the costume and the holy water-pot and
aspersoir, and to indicate how he went into all the rooms of the
house--now into the kitchen sprinkling the cook, now into the hall
sprinkling the lord and lady who are at breakfast. In the woodcut on p.
241, will be seen how he precedes an ecclesiastical procession, sprinkling
the people on each side as he goes. The subsequent description (p. 221) of
the parish clerk Absolon, by Chaucer, indicates that sometimes--perhaps on
some special festivals--the clerk went about censing the people instead of
sprinkling them.

[Illustration: _The Parish Clerk sprinkling the Cook._]

[Illustration: _The Parish Clerk sprinkling the Knight and Lady._]

To continue the notes of a parish clerk's duties, gathered from the
churchwardens' presentations: at Wyghton, in 1510, they find "a faut with
our parish clerk yt he hath not done his dewtee to ye kirk, yt is to say,
ryngyng of ye morne bell and ye evyn bell; and also another fawt [which
may explain the former one], he fyndes yt pour mene pays hym not his
wages."[269] At Cawood, in 1510 A.D., we find it the duty of the parish
clerk "to keepe ye clok and ryng corfer [curfew] at dew tymes appointed by
ye parrish, and also to ryng ye day bell."[270] He had his desk in church
near the clergyman, perhaps on the opposite side of the chancel, as we
gather from a presentation from St. Maurice, York, in 1416, that the desks
in the choir on both sides, especially where the parish chaplain and
parish clerk are accustomed to sit, need repair.[271] A story in Matthew
Paris[272] tells us what his office was worth: "It happened that an agent
of the pope met a petty clerk of a village carrying water in a little
vessel, with a sprinkler and some bits of bread given him for having
sprinkled some holy water, and to him the deceitful Roman thus addressed
himself: 'How much does the profit yielded to you by this church amount to
in a year?' To which the clerk, ignorant of the Roman's cunning, replied,
'To twenty shillings I think;' whereupon the agent demanded the
per-centage the pope had just demanded on all ecclesiastical benefices.
And to pay that small sum this poor man was compelled to hold schools for
many days, and by selling his books in the precincts, to drag on a
half-starved life." The parish clerks of London formed a guild, which used
to exhibit miracle plays at its annual feast, on the green, in the parish
of St. James, Clerkenwell. The parish clerks always took an important part
in the conduct of the miracle plays; and it was natural that when they
united their forces in such an exhibition on behalf of their guild the
result should be an exhibition of unusual excellence. Stow tells us that
in 1391 the guild performed before the king and queen and whole court
three days successively, and that in 1409 they produced a play of the
creation of the world, whose representation occupied eight successive
days. The Passion-play, still exhibited every ten years at Ober-Ammergau,
has made all the world acquainted with the kind of exhibition in which our
forefathers delighted. These miracle-plays still survive also in Spain,
and probably in other Roman Catholic countries.

Chaucer has not failed to give us, in his wonderful gallery of
contemporary characters (in the Miller's Tale), a portrait of the parish

  "Now was ther of that churche a parish clerk,
   The which that was ycleped Absolon.
   Crulle was his here,[273] and as the gold it shon,
   And strouted as a fanne large and brode;
   Ful streight and even lay his jolly shode.
   His rode[274] was red, his eyen grey as goos,
   With Poules windowes carven on his shoos,
   In hosen red he went ful fetisly,[275]
   Yclad he was ful smal and proprely,
   All in a kirtle of a light waget,[276]
   Ful faire and thicke ben the pointes set.
   An' therupon he had a gay surplise,
   As white as is the blossome upon the rise.[277]
   A mery child he was, so God me save,
   Wel coud he leten blod, and clippe, and shave,
   And make a chartre of lond and a quitance;
   In twenty manere could he trip and dance,
   (After the scole of Oxenforde tho)
   And playen songes on a smal ribible.[278]
   Therto he song, sometime a loud quinible.[278]
   And as wel could he play on a giterne.
   In all the toun n'as brewhouse ne taverne
   That he ne visited with his solas,
   Ther as that any galliard tapstere was.
     This Absolon, that joly was and gay,
   Goth with a censor on the holy day,
   Censing the wives of the parish faste,[279]
   And many a lovely loke he on hem caste.

      *       *       *       *       *

   Sometime to shew his lightnesse and maistrie,
   He plaieth Herode on a skaffold hie."



We shall obtain further help to a comprehension of the character, and
position, and popular estimation of the mediæval seculars--the parish
priests--if we compare them first with the regulars--the monks and
friars--and then with their modern representatives the parochial clergy.
One great point of difference between the regulars and the seculars was
that the monks and friars affected asceticism, and the parish priests did
not. The monks and friars had taken the three vows of absolute poverty,
voluntary celibacy, and implicit obedience to the superior of the convent.
The parish priests, on the contrary, had their benefices and their private
property; they long resisted the obligations of celibacy, which popes and
councils tried to lay upon them; they were themselves spiritual rulers in
their own parishes, subject only to the constitutional rule of the bishop.
The monks professed to shut themselves up from the world, and to mortify
their bodily appetites in order the better, as they considered, to work
out their own salvation. The friars professed to be the schools of the
prophets, to have the spirit of Nazariteship, to be followers of Elijah
and John Baptist, to wear sackcloth, and live hardly, and go about as
preachers of repentance. The secular clergy had no desire and felt no need
to shut themselves up from the world like monks; they did not feel called
upon, with the friars, to imitate John Baptist, "neither eating nor
drinking," seeing that a greater than he came "eating and drinking" and
living the common life of men. They rather looked upon Christian priests
and clerks as occupying the place of the priests and Levites of the
ancient church, set apart to minister in holy things like them, but not
condemned to poverty or asceticism any more than they were. The difference
told unfavourably for the parish clergy in the popular estimation; for the
unreasoning crowd is always impressed by the dramatic exhibition of
austerity of life and the profession of extraordinary sanctity, and
undervalues the virtue which is only seen in the godly regulation of a
life of ordinary every-day occupations. The lord monks were the
aristocratic order of the clergy. Their convents were wealthy and
powerful, their minsters and houses were the glory of the land, their
officials ranked with the nobles, and the greatness of the whole house
reflected dignity upon each of its monks.

The friars were the popular order of the clergy. The Four Orders were
great organizations of itinerant preachers; powerful through their
learning and eloquence, their organization, and the Papal support;
cultivating the favour of the people by which they lived by popular
eloquence and demagogic arts.

Between these two great classes stood the secular clergy, upon whom the
practical pastoral work of the country fell. A numerous body, but
disorganized; diocesan bishops acting as statesmen, and devolving their
ecclesiastical duties on suffragans; rectors refusing to take priests'
orders, and living like laymen; the majority of the parishes practically
served by parochial chaplains; every gentleman having his own chaplain
dependent on his own pleasure; hundreds of priests engaged in secular

Between the secular priests and the friars, as we have seen, pp. 46 _et
seq._, there was a direct rivalry and a great deal of bitter feeling. The
friars accused the parish priests of neglect of duty and ignorance in
spiritual things and worldliness of life, and came into their parishes
whenever they pleased, preaching and visiting from house to house, hearing
confessions and prescribing penances, and carrying away the offerings of
the people. The parish priests looked upon the friars as intruders in
their parishes, and accused them of setting their people against them and
undermining their spiritual influence; of corrupting discipline, by
receiving the confessions of those who were ashamed to confess to their
pastor who knew them, and enjoining light penances in order to encourage
people to come to them; and lastly, of using all the arts of low
popularity-seeking in order to extract gifts and offerings from their

We have already given one contemporary illustration of this from Chaucer,
at p. 46 _ante_. We add one or two extracts from Piers Ploughman's Vision.
In one place of his elaborate allegory he introduces Wrath, saying:--

  "I am Wrath, quod he, I was sum tyme a frere,
   And the convent's gardyner for to graff impes[280]
   On limitoures and listers lesyngs I imped
   Till they bere leaves of low speech lordes to please
   And sithen thier blossomed abrode in bower to hear shriftes.
   And now is fallen therof a fruite, that folk have well liever
   Shewen her shriftes to hem than shryve hem to ther parsones.
   And now, parsons have perceyved that freres part with hem,
   These possessioners preache and deprave freres,
   And freres find hem in default, as folk beareth witness."--v. 143.

And again on the same grievance of the friars gaining the confidence of
the people away from their parish priests--

  "And well is this y-holde: in parisches of Engelonde,
   For persones and parish prestes: that shulde the peple shryve,
   Ben curatoures called: to know and to hele.
   Alle that ben her parishens: penaunce to enjoine,
   And shulden be ashamed in her shrifte: an shame maketh hem wende,
   And fleen to the freres: as fals folke to Westmynstere,
   That borwith and bereth it thider."[281]

When we compare the mediæval seculars with the modern clergy, we find that
the modern clergy form a much more homogeneous body. In the mediæval
seculars the bishop was often one who had been a monk or friar; the
cathedral clergy in many dioceses were regulars. Then, besides the parsons
and parochial chaplains, who answer to our incumbents and curates, there
were the chantry and gild priests, and priests who "lived at rovers on
trentals;" the great number of domestic chaplains must have considerably
affected the relations of the parochial clergy to the gentry. Of the
inferior ecclesiastical people, deacons, sub-deacons, acolytes, readers,
exorcists, and ostiaries it is probable that in an ordinary parish there
would be only a parish clerk and a boy-acolyte; in larger churches an
ostiary besides, answering to our verger, and in cathedrals a larger staff
of minor officials; but it is doubtful whether there was any real working
staff of sub-deacons, readers, exorcists, any more than we in these days
have a working order of deacons; men passed through those orders on their
way upwards to the priesthood, but made no stay in them.

But a still greater difference between the mediæval secular clergy and the
modern parochial clergy is in their relative position with respect to
society generally. The homogeneous body of "the bishops and clergy" are
the only representatives of a clergy in the eyes of modern English
society; the relative position of the secular clergy in the eyes of the
mediæval world was less exclusive and far inferior. The seculars were only
one order of the clergy, sharing the title with monks and friars, and they
were commonly held as inferior to the one in wealth and learning, and to
the other in holiness and zeal.

Another difference between the mediæval seculars and the modern clergy is
in the superior independence of the latter. The poor parochial chaplain
was largely dependent for his means of living on the fees and offerings of
his parishioners. The domestic chaplain was only an upper servant. Even
the country incumbent, in those feudal days when the lord of the manor was
a petty sovereign, was very much under the influence of the local magnate.

In some primitive little villages, where the lord of the manor continues
to be the sovereign of his village, it is still the fashion for the
clergyman not to begin service till the squire comes. The Book of the
Knight of La Tour Landry gives two stories which serve to show that the
deference of the clergyman to the squire was sometimes carried to very
excessive lengths in the old days of which we are writing. "I have herde
of a knight and of a lady that in her youthe delited hem to rise late. And
so they used longe, tille many tymes that thei lost her masse, and made
other of her parisshe to lese it, for the knight was lorde and patron of
the chirche, and therfor the priest durst not disobeye hym. And so it
happed that on a Sunday the knight sent unto the chirche that thei shulde
abide hym. And whane he come, it was passed none, wherfor thir might not
that day have no masse, for every man saide it was passed tyme of the
day, and therfor thei durst not singe. And so that Sunday the knight, the
lady, and alle the parisshe was without masse, of the whiche the pepelle
were sori, but thir must needs suffre." And on a night there came a vision
to the parson, and the same night the knight and lady dreamed a dream. And
the parson came to the knight's house, and he told him his vision, and the
priest his, of which they greatly marvelled, for their dreams were like.
"And the priest said unto the knight, 'There is hereby in a forest an holy
ermyte that canne telle us what this avision menithe.' And than thei yede
to hym, and tolde it hym fro point to point, and as it was. And the wise
holi man, the which was of blessed lyff, expounded and declared her

The other story is of "a ladi that dwelled faste by the chirche, that toke
every day so long time to make her redy that it made every Sunday the
person of the chirche and the parisshenes to abide after her. And she
happed to abide so longe on a Sunday that it was fer dayes, and every man
said to other, 'This day we trow shall not this lady be kemed and

       *       *       *       *       *

The condition of the parochial clergy being such as we have sketched, it
might seem as if the people stood but a poor chance of being Christianly
and virtuously brought up. But when we come to inquire into that part of
the question the results are unexpectedly satisfactory. The priests in
charge of parishes seem, on the whole, to have done their duty better than
we should have anticipated; and the people generally had a knowledge of
the great truths of religion, greater probably than is now generally
possessed--it was taught to them by the eye in sculptures, paintings,
stained glass, miracle plays; these religious truths were probably more
constantly in their minds and on their lips than is the case now--they
occur much more frequently in popular literature; and though the people
were rude and coarse and violent and sensual enough, yet it is probable
that religion was a greater power among them generally than it is now;
there was probably more crime, but less vice; above all, an elevated
sanctity in individuals was probably more common in those times than in

One interesting evidence of the actual mode of pastoral ministrations in
those days is the handbooks, which were common enough, teaching the parish
priest his duties. The Early English Text Society has lately done us a
service by publishing one of these manuals of "Instructions for Parish
Priests," which will enable us to give some notes on the subject. "Great
numbers," says the editor, "of independent works of this nature were
produced in the Middle Ages. There is probably not a language or dialect
in Europe that has not now, or had not once, several treatises of this
nature among its early literature. The growth of languages, the
Reformation, and the alteration in clerical education consequent on that
great revolution, have caused a great part of them to perish or become
forgotten. A relic of this sort fished up from the forgotten past is very
useful to us as a help towards understanding the sort of life our fathers
lived. To many it will seem strange that these directions, written without
the least thought of hostile criticism, when there was no danger in plain
speaking, and no inducements to hide or soften down, should be so free
from superstition. We have scarcely any of the nonsense which some people
still think made up the greater part of the religion of the Middle Ages,
but instead thereof good sound morality, such as it would be pleasant to
hear preached at the present day."

The book in question is by John Myrk, a canon regular of St. Austin, of
Lilleshall, in Shropshire; the beautiful ruins of his monastery may still
be seen in the grounds of the Duke of Sutherland's shooting-box at
Lilleshall. He tells us that he translated it from a Latin book called
"Pars Oculi." It is worthy of note that a former prior of Lilleshall,
Johannes Miræus, had written a work on the same subject, called "Manuale
Sacerdotis," to which John Myrk's bears much resemblance, both in subject
and treatment. The editor's sketch of the argument of the "Instructions to
Parish Priests" will help us to give a sufficient idea of its contents for
our present purpose.

The author begins by telling the parish priest what sort of man he himself
should be. Not ignorant, because

  "Whenne the blynde ledeth the blynde
   Into the dyche they fallen both."

He must himself be an example to his people:--

  "What thee nedeth hem to teche
   And whyche thou muste thy self be,
   For lytel is worth thy prechynge
   If thou be of evyle lyvynge."

He must be chaste, eschew lies and oaths, drunkenness, gluttony, pride,
sloth, and envy. Must keep from taverns, trading, wrestling, and shooting,
and the like manly sports; from hunting, hawking, and dancing. Must not
wear cutted clothes or pyked shoes, or dagger, but wear becoming clothes,
and shave his crown and beard. Must be given to hospitality, both to poor
and rich, read his psalter, and remember doomsday; return good for evil,
eschew jesting and ribaldry, despise the world, and follow after virtue.

The priest must not be content with knowing his own duties. He must be
prepared to teach those under his charge all that Christian men and women
should do and believe. We are told that when any one has done a sin he
must not continue long with it on his conscience, but go straight to the
priest and confess it, lest he should forget before the great shriving
time at Eastertide. Pregnant women, especially, are to go to their shrift,
and receive the Holy Communion at once. Our instructor is very strict on
the duties of midwives--women they were really in those days, and properly
licensed to their office by the ecclesiastical authorities. They are on no
account to permit children to die unbaptized. If there be no priest at
hand, they are to administer that sacrament themselves if they see danger
of death. They must be especially careful to use the right form of words,
such as our Lord taught; but it does not matter whether they say them in
Latin or English, or whether the Latin be good or bad, so that the
intention be to use the proper words. The water, and the vessel that
contained it, are not to be again employed in domestic use, but to be
burned or carried to the church and cast into the font. If no one else be
at hand, the parents themselves may baptize their children. All infants
are to be christened at Easter and Whitsuntide in the newly-blessed fonts,
if there have not been necessity to administer the Sacrament before.
Godparents are to be careful to teach their godchildren the _Pater
Noster_, _Ave Maria_, and _Credo_; and are not to be sponsors to their
godchildren at their Confirmation, for they have already contracted a
spiritual relationship. Before weddings banns are to be asked on three
holidays, and all persons who contract irregular marriages, and the
priests, clerks, and others that help thereat, are cursed for the same.
The real presence of the body and blood of our Saviour in the Sacrament of
the Altar is to be fully held; but the people are to bear in mind that the
wine and water given them after they have received Communion is not a part
of the Sacrament. It is an important thing to behave reverently in church,
for the church is God's house, not a place for idle prattle. When people
go there they are not to jest, or loll against the pillars and walls, but
kneel down on the floor and pray to their Lord for mercy and grace. When
the Gospel is read they are to stand up, and sign themselves with the
cross; and when they hear the Sanctus bell ring, they are to kneel and
worship their Maker in the Blessed Sacrament. All men are to show
reverence when they see the priest carrying the Host to the sick. He is to
teach them the "Our Father," and "Hail, Mary," and "I believe," of which
metrical versions are given, with a short exposition of the Creed.

The author gives some very interesting instructions about churchyards,
which show that they were sometimes treated with shameful irreverence. It
was not for want of good instructions that our ancestors, in the days of
the Plantagenets, played at rustic games, and that the gentry held their
manorial courts, over the sleeping-places of the dead.

Of witchcraft we hear surprisingly little. Myrk's words are such that one
might almost think he had some sceptical doubts on the subject. Not so
with usury: the taking interest for money, or lending anything to get
profit thereby, is, we are shown, "a synne full grevus."

After these and several more general instructions of a similar character,
the author gives a very good commentary on the Creed, the Sacraments, the
Commandments, and the deadly sins. The little tract ends with a few words
of instruction to priests as to the "manner of saying mass, and of giving
Holy Communion to the sick." On several subjects the author gives very
detailed instructions and advice as to the best way of dealing with
people, and his counsels are so right and sensible, that they might well
be read now, not out of mere curiosity, but for profit. Here is his
conclusion, as a specimen of the English and versification:--

  "Hyt ys I-made hem[282] to schonne
   That have no bokes of here[283] owne,
   And other that beth of mene lore
   That wolde fayn conne[284] more,
   And those that here-in learnest most,
   Thonke yerne the Holy Gost,
   That geveth wyt to eche mon
   To do the gode that he con,
   And by hys travayle and hys dede
   Geveth hym heven to hys mede;
   The mede and the joye of heven lyht
   God us graunte for hys myht. Amen."

That these instructions were not thrown away upon the mediæval parish
priests we may infer from Chaucer's beautiful description of the poor
parson of a town, who was one of his immortal band of Canterbury Pilgrims,
which we here give as a fitting conclusion of this first part of our

  "A good man there was of religioun,
   That was a poure persone of a toun;
   But riche he was of holy thought and werk.
   He was also a lerned man, a clerk,
   That Criste's gospel trewely wolde preche,
   His parishens devoutly wolde he teche.
   Benigne he was and wonder diligent,
   And in adversite ful patient;
   And such he was yproved often sithes.
   Full loth were he to cursen for his tithes,
   But rather wolde he given out of doubte
   Unto his poure parishens about,
   Of his offering and eke of his substance.
   He could in litel thing have suffisance.
   Wide was his parish, and houses fer asunder,
   But he ne left nought for no rain ne thunder,
   In sikenesse and in mischief to visite
   The farthest in his parish much and lite,[285]
   Upon his fete, and in his hand a staff.
   This noble ensample to his sheep he gaf[286]
   That first he wrought, and afterward he taught.
   Out of the gospel he the wordes caught,
   And this figure he added yet thereto,
   That if gold rusté what should iren do?
   For if a priest be foul, on whom we trust,
   No wonder is a léwéd man to rust;
   Well ought a preest ensample for to give,
   By his clenenesse how his shepe shulde live.
   He sette not his benefice to hire,
   And lefte his sheep accumbered in the mire,
   And ran unto London, unto Seint Poules,
   To seeken him a chanterie for souls,
   Or with a brotherhede to be withold,
   But dwelt at home and kepté well his fold.
   He was a shepherd and no mercenare;
   And though he holy were and vertuous,
   He was to sinful men not despitous,[287]
   Ne of his speché dangerous ne digne,[288]
   But in his teaching discrete and benigne.
   To drawen folk to heaven with fairénesse,
   By good ensample was his businesse.
   But it were any persone obstinat,
   What so he were of highe or low estate,
   Him wolde he snibben[289] sharply for the nones,
   A better preest I trow that nowhere none is.
   He waited after no pomp ne reverence,
   Ne maked him no spiced[290] conscience,
   But Christés lore, and his apostles twelve,
   He taught, but first he followed it himselve."

Thus, monk, and friar, and hermit, and recluse, and rector, and chantry
priest, played their several parts in mediæval society, until the
Reformation came and swept away the religious orders and their houses, the
chantry priests and their superstitions, and the colleges of seculars,
with all their good and evil, and left only the parish churches and the
parish priests remaining, stripped of half their tithe, and insufficient
in number, in learning, and in social _status_ to fulfil the office of the
ministry of God among the people. Since then, for three centuries the
people have multiplied, and the insufficiency of the ministry has been
proportionately aggravated. It has been left to our day to complete the
work of the Reformation by multiplying bishops and priests, and creating
an order of deacons, re-distributing the ancient revenues and supplying
what more is needed, and by effecting a general reorganization of the
ecclesiastical establishment to adapt it to the actual spiritual needs of
the people.



We proceed to give some notes on the costume of the secular clergy; first
the official costume which they wore when performing the public functions
of their order, and next the ordinary costume in which they walked about
their parishes and took part in the daily affairs of the mediæval society
of which they formed so large and important a part. The first branch of
this subject is one of considerable magnitude; it can hardly be altogether
omitted in such a series of papers as this, but our limited space requires
that we should deal with it as briefly as may be.

Representations of the pope occur not infrequently in ancient paintings.
His costume is that of an archbishop, only that instead of the usual mitre
he wears a conical tiara. In later times a cross with three crossbars has
been used by artists as a symbol of the pope, with two crossbars of a
patriarch, and with one crossbar of an archbishop; but Dr. Rock assures us
that the pope never had a pastoral staff of this shape, but of one
crossbar only; that patriarchs of the Eastern Church used the cross of two
bars, but never those of the Western Church; and that the example of
Thomas-à-Becket with a cross of two bars, in Queen Mary's Psalter (Royal,
2 B. vii.) is a unique example (and possibly an error of the artist's). A
representation of Pope Leo III. from a contemporary picture is engraved in
the "Annales Archæologique," vol. viii. p. 257; another very complete and
clear representation of the pontifical costume of the time of Innocent
III. is engraved by Dr. Rock ("Church of our Fathers," p. 467) from a
fresco painting at Subiaco, near Rome. Another representation, of late
thirteenth-century date, is given in the famous MS. called the "Psalter of
Queen Mary," in the British Museum (Royal, 2 B. vii.); there the pope is
in nothing more than ordinary episcopal costume--alb, tunic, chasuble,
without the pall--and holds his cross-staff of only one bar in his right
hand, and his canonical tiara has one crown round the base. Beside him
stands a bishop in the same costume, except that he wears the mitre and
holds a crook. A good fourteenth-century representation of a pope and
cardinals is in the MS. August. V. f. 459. We give a woodcut of the
fifteenth century, from a MS. life of Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick,
in the British Museum (Julius E. iv. f. 207); the subject is the
presentation of the pilgrim earl to the pope, and it enables us to bring
into one view the costumes of pope, cardinal, and bishop. A later picture
of considerable artistic merit may be found in Hans Burgmair's "Der Weise
König," where the pope, officiating at a royal marriage, is habited in a
chasuble, and has the three crowns on his tiara.

[Illustration: _Pope, Cardinal, and Bishop._]

The cardinalate is not an ecclesiastical "order." Originally the name was
applied to the priests of the chief churches of Rome, who formed the
chapter of the Bishop of Rome. In later times they were the princes of the
papal sovereignty, and the dignity was conferred not only upon the highest
order of the hierarchy, but upon priests, deacons,[291] and even upon men
who had only taken minor orders to qualify themselves for holding office
in the papal kingdom. The red hat, which became their distinctive symbol,
is said to have been given them first by Innocent VI. at the Council of
Lyons in 1245; and De Curbio says they first wore it in 1246, at the
interview between the pope and Louis IX. of France. A representation of it
may be seen in the MS. Royal, 16 G. vi., which is engraved in the
"Pictorial History of England," vol. i. 869. Another very clear and good
representation of the costume of a cardinal is in the plate in Hans
Burgmair's "Der Weise König," already mentioned; a group of them is on the
right side of the drawing, each with a fur-lined hood on his head, and his
hat over the hood. It is not the hat which is peculiar to cardinals, but
the colour of it, and the number of its tassels. Other ecclesiastics wore
the hat of the same shape, but only a cardinal wears it of scarlet.
Moreover, a priest wore only one tassel to each string, a bishop three, a
cardinal seven. It was not the hat only which was scarlet. Wolsey, we
read, was in the habit of dressing entirely in scarlet for his ordinary
costume. In the Decretals of Pope Gregory, Royal, 10 E. iv. f. 3 v., are
representations of cardinals in red gown and hood and hat. On the
following page they are represented, in _pontificalibus_.

The archbishop wore the habit of a bishop, his differences being in the
crosier and pall.[292] His crozier had a cross head instead of a curved
head like the bishop's. Over the chasuble he wore the pall, which was a
flat circular band, or collar, placed loosely round the shoulders, with
long ends hanging down behind and before, made of lambs' wool, and marked
with a number of crosses. Dr. Rock has engraved[293] two remarkably
interesting early representations of archbishops of Ravenna, in which a
very early form of the pontifical garments is given, viz., the sandals,
alb, stole, tunic, chasuble, pall, and tonsure. They are not represented
with either mitre or staff. Other representations of archbishops may be
found of the eleventh century in the Bayeux tapestry, and of the
thirteenth in the Royal MS., 2 B. vii. In the Froissart MS., Harl. 4,380,
at f. 170, is a fifteenth-century representation of the Archbishop of
Canterbury in ordinary dress--a lavender-coloured gown and red liripipe.

The bishop wore the same habit as the priest, with the addition of
sandals, gloves, a ring, the pastoral staff with a curved head, and the
mitre. The chasuble was only worn when celebrating the Holy Communion; on
any other ceremonial occasion the cope was worn, _e.g._, when in choir, as
in the woodcut on p. 197: or when preaching, as in a picture in the Harl.
MS. 1319, engraved in the "Pictorial History of England," vol. i. 806; or
when attending parliament. In illuminated MSS. bishops are very commonly
represented dressed in alb and cope only, and this seems to have been
their most usual habit. If the bishop were a monk or friar he wore the
cope over the robe proper to his order. We might multiply indefinitely
references to representations of bishops and other ecclesiastics in the
illuminated MS. We will content ourselves with one reference to a
beautifully drawn figure in the psalter of the close of the 14th century
(Harl. 2,897, f. 380). In the early fourteenth-century MS. (Royal, 14 E.
iii. at ff. 16 and 25), we find two representations of a bishop in what we
may suppose was his ordinary unofficial costume; he wears a blue-grey robe
and hood with empty falling sleeves, through which appear the blue sleeves
of his under robe; it is the ordinary civil and clerical costume of the
period, but he is marked out as a bishop by a white mitre. In the
Pontifical of the middle of the fifteenth century, already referred to
(Egerton, 1067) at f. 186 in the representation of the ceremony of the
feet-washing, the bishop in a long black sleeveless robe[294] over a white
alb, and a biretta.

The earliest form of the mitre was that of a simple cap, like a skull-cap,
of which there is a representation, giving in many respects a clear and
elaborate picture of the episcopal robes, in a woodcut of St. Dunstan in
the MS. Cotton, Claudius A. iii.[295] In this early shape it has already
the infulæ--two narrow bands hanging down behind. In the twelfth century
it is in the form of a large cap, with a depression in the middle, which
produces two blunt horns at the sides. There is a good representation of
this in the MS. Cotton, Nero C. iv. f. 34, which has been engraved by
Strutt, Shaw, and Dr. Rock.

In the Harl. MS. 5,102, f. 17, is a picture of the entombment of an
archbishop, in which is well shown the transition shape of the mitre from
the twelfth century, already described, to the cleft and pointed shape
which was used in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The depression
is here deepened into a partial cleft, and the mitre is put on so that the
horns come before and behind, instead of at the sides, but the horns are
still blunt and rounded. The archbishop's gloves in this picture are
white, like the mitre, and in shape are like mittens, _i.e._, not divided
into fingers.

The shape in the thirteenth and fourteenth century presented a stiff low
triangle in front and behind, with a gap between them. It is well shown in
a MS. of the close of the twelfth century, Harl. 2,800, f. 6, and, in a
shape a little further developed, in the pictures in the Royal MS., 2 B.
vii., already noticed. In the fifteenth century the mitre began to be made
taller, and with curved sides, as seen in the beautiful woodcut of a
bishop and his canons in choir given in our last chapter, p. 197. The
latest example in the English Church is in the brass of Archbishop
Harsnett, in Chigwell Church, in which also occur the latest examples of
the alb, stole, dalmatic, and cope.

The pastoral staff also varied in shape at different times. The earliest
examples of it are in the representations of St. Mark and St. Luke,[296]
in the "Gospels of MacDurnan," in the Lambeth Library, a work of the
middle of the ninth century. St. Luke's staff is short, St. Mark's longer
than himself; in both cases the staff terminates with a plain, slightly
reflexed curve of about three-fourths of a circle. Some actual examples of
the metal heads of these Celtic pastoral staves remain; one is engraved in
the "Archæologia Scotica," vol. ii., another is in the British Museum;
that of the abbots of Clonmacnoise, and that of the ancient bishops of
Waterford, are in the possession of the Duke of Devonshire. They were all
brought together in 1863 in the Loan Exhibition at South Kensington. One
of the earliest English representations of the staff is in the picture of
the consecration of a church, in a MS. of the ninth century, in the Rouen
Library, engraved in the "Archæologia," vol xxv. p. 17, in the "Pictorial
History of England," and by Dr. Rock, ii. p. 24. Here the staff is about
the length of an ordinary walking-stick, and is terminated by a round

Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, is represented on his great seal with a short
staff, with a tau-cross or crutch head. An actually existing staff of this
shape, which belonged to Gerard, Bishop of Limoges, who died in 1022, is
engraved in the "Annales Archæologique," vol. x. p. 176. The staves
represented in illuminations of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries have
usually a plain spiral curve of rather more than a circle;[297] in later
times they were ornamented with foliage, and sometimes with statuettes,
and were enamelled and jewelled. Numerous representations and actual
examples exist; some may be seen in the South Kensington Museum. From
early in the fourteenth century downward, a napkin of linen or silk is
often found attached by one corner to the head of the staff, whose origin
and meaning seem to be undetermined.

The official costume of the remaining orders, together with the symbols
significant of their several offices, are well brought out in the
degradation of W. Sawtre, already given at p. 214.

Some of the vestments there mentioned may need a few words of
explanation. The alb was a kind of long coat with close fitting sleeves
made of white[298] linen, and usually, at least during the celebration of
divine service, ornamented with four to six square pieces of cloth of
gold, or other rich stuff, or of goldsmith's work, which were placed on
the skirt before and behind, on the wrist of each sleeve, and on the back
and breast. The dalmatic of the deacon was a kind of tunic, reaching
generally a little below the knees, and slit some way up the sides, and
with short, broad sleeves; it was usually ornamented with a broad hem,
which passed round the side slits. The sub-deacon's tunicle was like the
dalmatic, but rather shorter, and less ornamented. The cope was a kind of
cloak, usually of rich material, fastened across the chest by a large
brooch; it was worn by priests in choir and in processions, and on other
occasions of state and ceremony. The chasuble was the Eucharistic
vestment; originally it was a circle of rich cloth with a slit in the
middle, through which the head was passed, and then it fell in ample folds
all round the figure. Gradually it was made oval in shape, continually
decreasing in width, so as to leave less of the garment to encumber the
arms. In its modern shape it consists of two stiff rectangular pieces of
cloth, one piece falling before, the other behind, and fastened together
at the shoulders of the wearer. The ancient inventories of cathedrals,
abbeys, and churches show us that the cope and chasuble were made in every
colour, of every rich material, and sometimes embroidered and jewelled.
Indeed, all the official robes of the clergy were of the costliest
material and most beautiful workmanship which could be obtained. England
was celebrated for its skill in the arts employed in their production, and
an anecdote of the time of Henry III. shows us that the English
ecclesiastical vestments excited admiration and cupidity even at Rome.
Their richness had nothing to do with personal pride or luxury on the part
of the priests. They were not the property of the clergy, but were
generally presented to the churches, to which they belonged in perpetuity;
and they were made thus costly on the principle of honouring the divine
worship. As men gave their costliest material and noblest Art for the
erection of the place in which it was offered, so also for the appliances
used in its ministration, and the robes of the ministrants.

In full sacerdotal habit the priests wore the apparelled alb, and stole,
and over that the dalmatic, and either the cope or the chasuble over all,
with the amys thrown back like a hood over the cope or chasuble.
Representations of priests _in pontificalibus_ abound in illuminated MSS.,
and in their monumental effigies, to such an extent that we need hardly
quote any particular examples. Representations of the inferior orders are
comparatively rare. Examples of deacons may be found engraved in Dr.
Rock's "Church of our Fathers," i. 376, 378, 379, 443, and 444. Two others
of early fourteenth-century date may be found in the Add. MS. 10,294, f.
72, one wearing a dalmatic of cloth of gold, the other of scarlet, over
the alb. Two others of the latter part of the fourteenth century are seen
in King Richard II.'s Book of Hours (Dom. A. xvii. f. 176), one in blue
dalmatic embroidered with gold, the other red embroidered with gold. A
monumental effigy of a deacon under a mural arch at Avon Dassett,
Warwickshire, was referred to by Mr. M. H. Bloxam, in a recent lecture at
the Architectural Museum, South Kensington. The effigy, which is of the
thirteenth century, is in alb, stole, and dalmatic. We are indebted to Mr.
Bloxam for a note of another mutilated effigy of a deacon of the
fourteenth century among the ruins of Furness Abbey; he is habited in the
alb only, with a girdle round the middle, whose tasselled knobs hang down
in front. The stole is passed across the body from the left shoulder, and
is fastened together at the right hip.

Dr. Rock, vol. i. p. 384, engraves a very good representation of a
ninth-century sub-deacon in his tunicle, holding a pitcher in one hand and
an empty chalice in the other; and in vol. ii. p. 89, an acolyte, in what
seems to be a surplice, with a scarlet hood--part of his ordinary
costume--over it, the date of the drawing being _cir._ 1395 A.D. We have
already noted the costume of an ostiary at p. 215. In the illuminations we
frequently find an inferior minister attending upon a priest when engaged
in his office, but in many cases it is difficult to determine whether he
is deacon, sub-deacon, or acolyte, _e.g._--in the early fourteenth-century
MS., Add. 10,294, at f. 72, is a priest officiating at a funeral, attended
by a minister, who is habited in a pink under robe--his ordinary
dress--and over it a short white garment with wide loose sleeves, which
may be either a deacon's dalmatic, or a sub-deacon's tunic, or an
acolyte's surplice. In the Add. MS. 10,293, at f. 154, is a representation
of a priest celebrating mass in a hermitage, with a minister kneeling
behind him, habited in a white alb only, holding a lighted taper. Again,
in the MS. Royal, 14 E. iii. f. 86, is a picture of a prior dressed like
some of the canons in our woodcut from Richard II.'s Book of Hours, in a
blue under robe, white surplice, and red stole crossed over the breast,
and his furred hood on his head; he is baptizing a heathen king, and an
attendant minister, who is dressed in the ordinary secular habit of the
time, stands beside, holding the chrismatory. In the same history of
Richard Earl of Warwick which we have already quoted, there is at f. 213
v., a boy in a short surplice with a censer. In the early
fourteenth-century MS., Royal, 14 E. iii. at f. 84 v., is a picture of a
bishop anointing a king; an attendant minister, who carries a holy water
vessel and aspersoir, is dressed in a surplice over a pink tunic. The
surplice is found in almost as many and as different shapes in the Middle
Ages as now; sometimes with narrow sleeves and tight up to the neck;
sometimes with shorter and wider sleeves and falling low at the neck;
sometimes longer and sometimes shorter in the skirt; never, however, so
long as altogether to hide the cassock beneath. In addition to the
references already given, it may be sufficient to name as further
authorities for ecclesiastical costumes generally:--for Saxon times, the
Benedictional of St. Ethelwold, engraved in the Archæologia; for the
thirteenth century, Queen Mary's Psalter, Royal, 2 B. vii.; for the
fourteenth, Royal, 20, c. vii.; for the fifteenth century, Lydgate's "Life
of St. Edmund;" for the sixteenth century, Hans Burgmaier's "Der Weise
König," and the various works on sepulchral monuments and monumental

[Illustration: _Coronation Procession of Charles V. of France._]

The accompanying woodcut from Col. Johnes's Froissart, vol. i. p. 635,
representing the coronation procession of Charles V. of France, will help
us to exhibit some of the orders of the clergy with their proper costume
and symbols. First goes the aquabajalus, in alb, sprinkling holy water;
then a cross-bearer in cassock and surplice; then two priests, in cassock,
surplice, and cope; then follows a canon in his cap (biretta), with his
furred amys over his arm.[299]

       *       *       *       *       *

But the clergy wore these robes only when actually engaged in some
official act. What was their ordinary costume is generally little known,
and it is a part of the subject in which we are especially interested in
these papers. From the earliest times of the English Church downwards it
was considered by the rulers of the Church that clergymen ought to be
distinguished from laymen not only by the tonsure, but also by their
dress. We do not find that any uniform habit was prescribed to them, such
as distinguished the regular orders of monks and friars from the laity,
and from one another; but we gather from the canons of synods, and the
injunctions of bishops, that the clergy were expected to wear their
clothes not too gay in colour, and not too fashionably cut; that they
were to abstain from wearing ornaments or carrying arms; and that their
horse furniture was to be in the same severe style. We also gather from
the frequent repetition of canons on the subject, and the growing
earnestness of their tone, that these injunctions were very generally
disregarded. We need not take the reader through the whole series of
authorities which may be found in the various collections of councils; a
single quotation from the injunctions of John (Stratford) Archbishop of
Canterbury, A.D. 1342, will suffice to give us a comprehensive sketch of
the general contents of the whole series.

"The external costume often shows the internal character and condition of
persons; and though the behaviour of clerks ought to be an example and
pattern of the laity, yet the abuse of clerks, which has gained ground
more than usually in these days in tonsures, in garments, in horse
trappings, and other things, has now generated an abominable scandal among
the people, while persons holding ecclesiastical dignities, rectories,
honourable prebends, and benefices with cure of souls, even when ordained
to holy orders, scorn to wear the crown (which is the token of the
heavenly kingdom and of perfection), and, using the distinction of hair
extended almost to the shoulders like effeminate persons, walk about
clothed in a military rather than a clerical outer habit, viz., short, or
notably scant, and with excessively wide sleeves, which do not cover the
elbows, but hang down, lined, or, as they say, turned up with fur or silk,
and hoods with tippets of wonderful length, and with long beards; and
rashly dare, contrary to the canonical sanctions, to use rings
indifferently on their fingers; and to be girt with zones, studded with
precious stones of wonderful size, with purses engraved with various
figures, enamelled and gilt, and attached to them (_i.e._ to the girdle),
with knives, hanging after the fashion of swords, also with buskins red
and even checked, green shoes and peaked and cut[300] in many ways, with
cruppers (_croperiis_) to their saddles, and horns hanging to their necks,
capes and cloaks furred openly at the edges to such an extent, that little
or no distinction appears of clerks from laymen, whereby they render
themselves, through their demerits, unworthy of the privilege of their
order and profession.

"We therefore, wishing henceforward to prevent such errors, &c., command
and ordain, that whoever obtain ecclesiastical benefices in our province,
especially if ordained to holy orders, wear clerical garments and tonsure
suitable to their status; but if any clerks of our province go publicly in
an outer garment short, or notably scant, or in one with long or
excessively wide sleeves, not touching the elbow round about, but hanging,
with untonsured hair and long beard, or publicly wear their rings on their
fingers, &c., if, on admonition, they do not reform within six months,
they shall be suspended, and shall only be absolved by their diocesan, and
then only on condition that they pay one-fifth of a year's income to the
poor of the place through the diocesan," &c., &c.

The authorities tried to get these canons observed. Grostête sent back a
curate who came to him for ordination "dressed in rings and scarlet like a
courtier."[301] Some of the vicars of York Cathedral[302] were presented
in 1362 A.D. for being in the habit of going through the city in short
tunics, ornamentally trimmed, with knives and baselards[303] hanging at
their girdles. But the evidence before us seems to prove that it was not
only the acolyte-rectors, and worldly-minded clerics, who indulged in such
fashions, but that the secular clergy generally resisted these endeavours
to impose upon them anything approaching to a regular habit like those
worn by the monks and friars, and persisted in refusing to wear sad
colours, or to cut their coats differently from other people, or to
abstain from wearing a gold ring or an ornamented girdle. In the drawings
of the secular clergy in the illuminated MSS., we constantly find them in
the ordinary civil costume. Even in representations of the different
orders and ranks of the secular clergy drawn by friendly hands, and
intended to represent them _comme il faut_, we find them dressed in
violation of the canons.

We have already had occasion to notice a bishop in a blue-grey gown and
hood, over a blue under-robe; and a prior performing a royal baptism, and
canons performing service under the presidency of their bishop, with the
blue and red robes of every-day life under their ritual surplices. The
MSS. furnish us with an abundance of other examples, _e.g._--In the early
fourteenth-century MS., Add. 10,293, at f. 131 v., is a picture showing
"how the priests read before the barony the letter which the false queen
sent to Arthur." One of the persons thus described as priests has a blue
gown and hood and black shoes, the other a claret-coloured gown and hood
and red shoes.

[Illustration: _Dns. Ricardus de Threton, Sacerdos._]

But our best examples are those in the book (Cott. Nero D. vii.) before
quoted, in which the grateful monks of St. Alban's have recorded the names
and good deeds of those who had presented gifts or done services to the
convent. In many cases the scribe has given us a portrait of the
benefactor in the margin of the record; and these portraits supply us with
an authentic gallery of typical portraits of the various orders of society
of the time at which they were executed. From these we have taken the
three examples we here present to the reader. On f. 100 v. is a portrait
of one Lawrence, a clerk, who is dressed in a brown robe; another clerk,
William by name, is in a scarlet robe and hood; on f. 93 v., Leofric, a
deacon, is in a blue robe and hood. The accompanying woodcut, from folio
105, is Dns. Ricardus de Threton, sacerdos,--Sir Richard de Threton,
priest,--who was executor of Sir Robert de Thorp, knight, formerly
chancellor of the king, and who gave twenty marks to the convent. Our
woodcut gives only the outlines of the full-length portrait. In the
original the robe and hood are of full bright blue, lined with white; the
under sleeves, which appear at the wrists, are of the same colour; and
the shoes are red. At f. 106 v. is Dns. Bartholomeus de Wendone, rector of
the church of Thakreston, and the character of the face leads us to think
that it may have been intended for a portrait. His robe and hood and
sleeves are scarlet, with black shoes. Another rector, Dns. Johannes
Rodland (at f. 105), rector of the church of Todyngton, has a green robe
and scarlet hood. Still another rector, of the church of Little Waltham,
is represented half-length in pink gown and purple hood. On f. 108 v. is
the full-length portrait which is here represented. It is of Dns. Rogerus,
chaplain of the chapel of the Earl of Warwick, at Flamsted. Over a scarlet
gown, of the same fashion as those in the preceding pictures, is a pink
cloak lined with blue; the hood is scarlet, of the same suit as the gown;
the buttons at the shoulder of the cloak are white, the shoes red. It will
be seen also that all three of these clergymen wear the moustache and

[Illustration: _Dns. Barth. de Wendone, Rector._]

[Illustration: _Dns. Rogerus, Capellanus._]

Dominus Robertus de Walsham, precentor of Sarum (f. 100 v.), is in his
choir habit, a white surplice, and over it a fur amys fastened at the
throat with a brooch. Dns. Robertus de Hereforde, Dean of Sarum (f. 101),
has a lilac robe and hood fastened by a gold brooch. There is another
dean, Magister Johnnes Appleby, Dean of St. Paul's, at f. 105, whose
costume is not very distinctly drawn. It may be necessary to assure some
of our readers, that the colours here described were not given at the
caprice of a limner wishing to make his page look gay. The portraits were
perhaps imaginary, but the personages are habited in the costume proper to
their rank and order. The series of Benedictine abbots and monks in the
same book are in black robes; other monks introduced are in the proper
habit of their order; a king in his royal robes; a knight sometimes in
armour, sometimes in the civil costume of his rank, with a sword by his
side, and a chaplet round his flowing hair; a lady in the fashionable
dress of the time; a burgher in his proper habit, with his hair cut short.
And so the clergy are represented in the dress which they usually wore;
and, for our purpose, the pictures are more valuable than if they were
actual portraits of individual peculiarities of costume, because we are
the more sure that they give us the usual and recognised costume of the
several characters. Indeed, it is a rule, which has very rare exceptions,
that the mediæval illuminators represented contemporary subjects with
scrupulous accuracy. We give another representation from the picture of
John Ball, the priest who was concerned in Wat Tyler's rebellion, taken
from a MS. of Froissart's Chronicle, in the Bibliothèque Impériale at
Paris. The whole picture is interesting; the background is a church, in
whose churchyard are three tall crosses. Ball is preaching from the pulpit
of his saddle to the crowd of insurgents who occupy the left side of the
picture. In the Froissart MS. Harl. 4,380, at f. 20, is a picture of _un
vaillant homme et clerque nommé Maistre Johan Warennes_, preaching against
Pope Boniface; he is in a pulpit panelled in green and gold, with a pall
hung over the front, and the people sit on benches before him; he is
habited in a blue robe and hood lined with white.

[Illustration: _John Ball, Priest._]

The author of Piers Ploughman, carping at the clergy in the latter half of
the fourteenth century, says it would be better

          "If many a priest bare for their baselards and their brooches,
  A pair of beads in their hand, and a book under their arm.
  Sire[304] John and Sire Geffrey hath a girdle of silver,
  A baselard and a knife, with botons overgilt."

A little later, he speaks of proud priests habited in patlocks,--a short
jacket worn by laymen,--with peaked shoes and large knives or daggers. And
in the poems of John Audelay, in the fifteenth century, a parish priest is
described in

  "His girdle harnesched with silver, his baselard hangs by."

In the wills of the clergy they themselves describe their "togas" of gay
colours, trimmed with various furs, and their ornamented girdles and
purses, and make no secret of the objectionable knives and baselards. In
the Bury St. Edmunds Wills, Adam de Stanton, a chaplain, A.D. 1370,
bequeaths one girdle, with purse and knife, valued at 5_s._--a rather
large sum of money in those days. In the York wills, John Wynd-hill,
Rector of Arnecliffe, A.D. 1431, bequeaths a pair of amber beads, such as
Piers Ploughman says a priest ought "to bear in his hand, and a book under
his arm;" and, curiously enough, in the next sentence he leaves "an
English book of Piers Ploughman;" but he does not seem to have been much
influenced by the popular poet's invectives, for he goes on to bequeath
two green gowns and one of murrey and one of sanguine colour, besides two
of black, all trimmed with various furs; also, one girdle of sanguine
silk, ornamented with silver, and gilded, and another zone of green and
white, ornamented with silver and gilded; and he also leaves behind
him--_proh pudor_--his best silver girdle, and a baselard with ivory and
silver handle. John Gilby, Rector of Knesale, 1434-5, leaves a red toga,
furred with byce, a black zone of silk with gilt bars, and a zone
ornamented with silver. J. Bagule, Rector of All Saints, York, A.D. 1438,
leaves a little baselard, with a zone harnessed with silver, to Sir T.
Astell, a chaplain. W. Duffield, a chantry priest at York, A.D. 1443,
leaves a black zone silvered, a purse called a "gypsire," and a white
purse of "Burdeux." W. Siverd, chaplain, leaves to H. Hobshot a hawk-bag;
and to W. Day, parochial chaplain of Calton, a pair of hawk-bag rings; and
to J. Sarle, chaplain, "my ruby zone, silvered, and my toga, furred with
'bevers;'" and to the wife of J. Bridlington, "a ruby purse of satin." R.
Rolleston, provost of the church of Beverley, A.D. 1450, leaves a "toga
lunata" with a red hood, a toga and hood of violet, a long toga and hood
of black, trimmed with martrons, and a toga and hood of violet. J. Clyft,
chaplain, A.D. 1455, leaves a zone of silk, ornamented with silver. J.
Tidman, chaplain, A.D. 1458, a toga of violet and one of meld. C. Lassels,
chaplain, A.D. 1461, a green toga and a white zone, silvered. T. Horneby,
rector of Stokesley, A.D. 1464, a red toga and hood; and, among the
Richmondshire Wills, we find that of Sir Henry Halled, Lady-priest of the
parish of Kirby-in-Kendal, in 1542 A.D. (four years before the suppression
of the chantries), who leaves a short gown and a long gown, whose colour
is not specified, but was probably black, which seems by this time to have
been the most usual clerical wear.

The accompanying woodcut will admirably illustrate the ornamented girdle,
purse, and knife, of which we have been reading. It is from a MS. of
Chaucer's poem of the Romaunt of the Rose (Harl. 4,425, f. 143), and
represents a priest confessing a lady in a church. The characters in the
scene are, like the poem, allegorical; the priest is Genius, and the lady
is Dame Nature; but it is not the less an accurate picture of a
confessional scene of the latter part of the fourteenth century. The
priest is habited in a robe of purple, with a black cap and a black
liripipe attached to it, brought over the shoulder to the front, and
falling over the arm. The tab, peeping from beneath the cap above the ear,
is red; the girdle, purse, and knife, are, in the original illumination,
very clearly represented. In another picture of the same person, at f.
106, the black girdle is represented as ornamented with little circles of

[Illustration: _A Priest Confessing a Lady._]

Many of these clergymen had one black toga with hood _en suite_--not for
constant use in divine service, for, as we have already seen, they are
generally represented in the illuminations with coloured "togas" under
their surplices,--but perhaps, for wear on mourning occasions. Thus, in
the presentations of York Cathedral, A.D. 1519, "We thynke it were
convenient that whene we fetche a corse to the churche, that we shulde be
in our blak abbettes [habits] mornyngly, w{t} our hodes of the same of our
hedes, as is used in many other places."[305]

At the time of the Reformation, when the English clergy abandoned the
mediæval official robes, they also desisted from wearing the tonsure,
which had for many centuries been the distinguishing mark of a cleric, and
they seem generally to have adopted the academical dress, for the model
both of their official and their ordinary dress. The Puritan clergy
adopted a costume which differed little, if at all, from that of the laity
of the same school. But it is curious that this question of clerical dress
continued to be one of complaint on one side, and resistance on the other,
down to the end of our ecclesiastical legislation. The 74th canon of 1603
is as rhetorical in form, and as querulous in tone, and as minute in its
description of the way in which ecclesiastical persons should, and the way
in which they should not, dress, as is the Injunction of 1342, which we
have already quoted. "The true, ancient, and flourishing churches of
Christ, being ever desirous that their prelacy and clergy might be had as
well in outward reverence, as otherwise regarded for the worthiness of
their ministry, did think it fit, by a prescript form of decent and comely
apparel, to have them known to the people, and thereby to receive the
honour and estimation due to the special messengers and ministers of
Almighty God: we, therefore, following their grave judgment and the
ancient custom of the Church of England, and hoping that in time new
fangleness of apparel in some factious persons will die of itself, do
constitute and appoint, that the archbishops and bishops shall not
intermit to use the accustomed apparel of their degree. Likewise, all
deans, masters of colleges, archdeacons, and prebendaries, in cathedrals
and collegiate churches (being priests or deacons), doctors in divinity,
law, and physic, bachelors in divinity, masters of arts, and bachelors of
law, having any ecclesiastical living, shall wear gowns with standing
collars, and sleeves straight at the hands, or wide sleeves, as is used in
the universities, with hoods or tippets of silk or sarcenet, and square
caps; and that all other ministers admitted, or to be admitted, into that
function, shall also usually wear the like apparel as is aforesaid, except
tippets only. We do further in like manner ordain, that all the said
ecclesiastical persons above mentioned shall usually wear on their
journeys cloaks with sleeves, commonly called Priests' Cloaks, without
guards, welts, long buttons, or cuts. And no ecclesiastical person shall
wear any coif, or wrought night-cap, but only plain night caps of black
silk, satin, or velvet. In all which particulars concerning the apparel
here prescribed, our meaning is not to attribute any holiness or special
worthiness to the said garments, but for decency, gravity, and order, as
is before specified. In private houses and in their studies the said
persons ecclesiastical may use any comely and scholarlike apparel,
provided that it be not cut or pinkt; and that in public they go not in
their doublet and hose without coats or cassocks; and that they wear not
any light-coloured stockings. Likewise, poor beneficed men and curates
(not being able to provide themselves long gowns) may go in short gowns of
the fashion aforesaid."

The portraits prefixed to the folio works of the great divines of the
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries have made us familiar with the fact,
that at the time of the Reformation the clergy wore the beard and
moustache. They continued to wear the cassock and gown as their ordinary
out-door costume until as late as the time of George II.; but in the
fashion of doublet and hose, hats, shoes, and hair, they followed the
custom of other gentlemen. Mr. Fairholt, in his "Costume in England," p.
327, gives us a woodcut from a print of 1680 A.D., which admirably
illustrates the ordinary out-door dress of a clergyman of the time of
William and Mary.



When, in our endeavour to realise the life of these secular clergymen of
the Middle Ages, we come to inquire, What sort of houses did they live in?
how were these furnished? what sort of life did their occupants lead? what
kind of men were they? it is curious how little seems to be generally
known on the subject, compared with what we know about the houses and life
and character of the regular orders. Instead of gathering together what
others have said, we find ourselves engaged in an original investigation
of a new and obscure subject. The case of the cathedral and collegiate
clergy, and that of the isolated parochial clergy, form two distinct
branches of the subject. The limited space at our disposal will not permit
us to do justice to both; the latter branch of the subject is less known,
and perhaps the more generally interesting, and we shall therefore devote
the bulk of our space to it. We will only premise a few words on the
former branch.

The bishop of a cathedral of secular canons had his house near his
cathedral, in which he maintained a household equal in numbers and expense
to that of the secular barons among whom he took rank; the chief
difference being, that the spiritual lord's family consisted rather of
chaplains and clerks than of squires and men-at-arms. The bishop's palace
at Wells is a very interesting example in an unusually perfect condition.
Britton gives an engraving of it as it appeared before the reign of Edward
VI. The bishop besides had other residences on his manors, some of which
were castles like those of the other nobility. Farnham, the present
residence of the see of Winchester, is a noble example, which still
serves its original purpose. Of the cathedral closes many still remain
sufficiently unchanged to enable us to understand their original
condition. Take Lincoln for example. On the north side of the church, in
the angle between the nave and transept, was the cloister, with the
polygonal chapter-house on the east side. The lofty wall which enclosed
the precincts yet remains, with its main entrance in the middle of the
west wall, opposite the great doors of the cathedral. This gate, called
the Exchequer Gate, has chambers over it, devoted probably to the official
business of the diocese. There are two other smaller gates at the
north-east and south-east corners of the close, and there is a postern on
the south side. The bishop's palace, whose beautiful and interesting ruins
and charming grounds still remain, occupied the slope of the southern hill
outside the close. The vicar's court is in the corner of the close near
the gateway to the palace grounds. A fourteenth-century house, which was
the official residence of the chaplain of one of the endowed chantries,
still remains on the south side of the close, nearly opposite the choir
door. On the east side of the close the fifteenth-century houses of
several of the canons still remain, and are interesting examples of the
domestic architecture of the time. It is not difficult from these data to
picture to ourselves the original condition of this noble establishment
when the cathedral, with its cloister and chapter-house, stood isolated in
the middle of the green sward, and the houses of the canons and chaplains
formed a great irregular quadrangle round it, and the close walls shut
them all in from the outer world, and the halls and towers of the bishop's
palace were still perfect amidst its hanging gardens enclosed within their
own walls, the quadrangle of houses which had been built for the cathedral
vicars occupying a corner cut out of the bishop's grounds beside his
gateway. And we can repeople the restored close. Let it be on the morning
of one of the great festivals; let the great bells be ringing out their
summons to high mass; and we shall see the dignified canons in amice and
cap crossing the green singly on their way from their houses to their
stalls in the choir; the vicars conversing in a little group as they come
across from their court; the surpliced chorister boys under the charge of
their schoolmaster; a band of minstrels with flutes, and hautboys, and
viols, and harps, and organs, coming in from the city, to use their
instruments in the rood-loft to aid the voices of the choir; scattered
clerks and country clergy, and townspeople, are all converging to the
great south door; and last of all the lord bishop, in cope and mitre,
emerges from his gateway, preceded by his cross-bearer, attended by noble
or royal guests, and followed by a suite of officials and clerks; while
over all the great bells ring out their joyous peal to summon the people
to the solemn worship of God in the mother church of the vast diocese.

       *       *       *       *       *

But we must turn to our researches into the humbler life of the country
rectors and vicars. And first, what sort of houses did they live in? We
have not been able to find one of the parsonage houses of an earlier date
than the Reformation still remaining in a condition sufficiently unaltered
to enable us to understand what they originally were. There is an ancient
rectory house of the fourteenth century at West Deane, Sussex,[306] of
which we give a ground-plan and north-east view on the following page; but
the rectory belonged to the prior and convent of Benedictine Monks of
Wilmington, and this house was probably their grange, or cell, and may
have been inhabited by two of their monks, or by their tenant, and not by
the parish priest. Again, there is a very picturesque rectory house, of
the fifteenth century, at Little Chesterton, near Cambridge,[307] but this
again is believed to have been a grange, or cell, of a monastic house.

In the absence of actual examples, we are driven to glean what information
we can from other sources. There remain to us a good many of the deeds of
the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, by which, on the impropriation of
the benefices, provision was made for the permanent endowment of vicarages
in them. In the majority of cases the old rectory house was assigned as
the future vicarage house, and no detailed description of it was
necessary; but in the deed by which the rectories of Sawbridgeworth, in
Herts, and Kelvedon, in Essex, were appropriated to the convent of
Westminster, we are so fortunate as to find descriptions of the
fourteenth-century parsonage houses, one of which is so detailed as to
enable any one who is acquainted with the domestic architecture of the
time to form a very definite picture of the whole building. In the case of
Sawbridgeworth, the old rectory house was assigned as the vicarage house,
and is thus described--"All the messuage which is called the priest's
messuage, with the houses thereon built, that is to say, one hall with two
chambers, with a buttery, cellar, kitchen, stable, and other fitting and
decent houses, with all the garden as it is enclosed with walls to the
said messuage belonging." The description of the parsonage house at
Kelvedon is much more definite and intelligible. For this the deed tells
us the convent assigned--"One hall situate in the manor of the said abbot
and convent near the said church, with a chamber and soler at one end of
the hall and with a buttery and cellar at the other. Also one other house
in three parts, that is to say, for a kitchen with a convenient chamber in
the end of the said house for guests, and a bakehouse. Also one other
house in two parts, next the gate at the entrance of the manor, for a
stable and cowhouse. He (the vicar) shall also have a convenient grange,
to be built within a year at the expense of the prior and convent. He
shall also have the curtilage with the garden adjoining to the hall on the
north side, as it is enclosed with hedges and ditches." The date of the
deed is 1356 A.D., and it speaks of these houses as already existing. Now
the common arrangement of a small house at that date, and for near a
century before and after, was this, "a hall in the centre, with a soler at
one end and offices at the other."[308] A description which exactly agrees
with the account of the Kelvedon house, and enables us to say with great
probability that in the Sawbridgeworth "priest's messuage" also, the two
chambers were at one end of the hall, and the buttery, cellar, and kitchen
at the other, the stable and other fitting and decent houses being
detached from and not forming any portion of the dwelling house.

[Illustration: _Rectory House, West Deane, Sussex._]


  A Entrance door.
  B Windows.
  C Cellar window.
  D Entrance to stair.
  E A recess.
  F Fire-place.

                        ft. in.
  Length of exterior     35  6
  Width of interior      14 10
  Thickness of wall       2  6
  Height of rooms         8  0]

Confining ourselves, however, to the Kelvedon house, a little study will
enable us to reconstruct it conjecturally with a very high probability of
being minutely accurate in our conjectures. First of all, a house of this
character in the county of Essex would, beyond question, be a timber
house. To make our description clearer we have given a rough diagram of
our conjectural arrangement. Its principal feature was, of course, the
"one hall" (A). We know at once what the hall of a timber house of this
period of architecture would be. It would be a rather spacious and lofty
apartment, with an open timber roof; the principal door of the house would
open into the "screens" (D), at the lower end of the hall, and the back
door of the house would be at the other end of the screens. At the upper
end of the hall would be the raised dais (B), at which the master of the
house sat with his family. The fireplace would either be an open hearth in
the middle of the hall, like that which still exists in the
fourteenth-century hall at Penshurst Place, Kent, or it would be an open
fireplace, under a projecting chimney, at the further side of the hall,
such as is frequently seen in MS. illuminations of the small houses of the
period. There was next "a chamber and soler at one end of the hall." The
soler of a mediæval house was the chief apartment after the hall, it
answered to the "great chamber" of the sixteenth century, and to the
parlour or drawing-room of more modern times. It was usually adjacent to
the upper end of the hall, and built on transversely to it, with a window
at each end. It was usually raised on an undercroft, which was used as a
storeroom or cellar, so that it was reached by a stair from the upper end
of the hall. Sometimes, instead of a mere undercroft, there was a chamber
under the soler, which was the case here, so that we have added these
features to our plan (C). Next there was "a buttery and cellar at the
other" end of the hall. In the buttery in those days were kept wine and
beer, table linen, cups, pots, &c.: and in the cellar the stores of
eatables which, it must be remembered, were not bought in weekly from the
village shop, or the next market town, but were partly the produce of the
glebe and tithe, and partly were laid in yearly or half-yearly at some
neighbouring fair. The buttery and cellar--they who are familiar with old
houses, or with our colleges, will remember--are always at the lower end
of the hall, and open upon the screens, with two whole or half doors side
by side; we may therefore add them thus upon our plan (H, I).

[Illustration: _Conjectural Plan of Rectory-House at Kelvedon, Essex._]

The deed adds, "Also one other house in three parts." In those days the
rooms of a house were not massed compactly together under one roof, but
were built in separate buildings more or less detached, and each building
was called a house; "One other house in three parts, that is to say, a
kitchen with a convenient chamber at one end of the said house for guests,
and a bakehouse." "The kitchen," says Mr. Parker, in his "Domestic
Architecture," "was frequently a detached building, often connected with
the hall by a passage or alley leading from the screens;" and it was often
of greater relative size and importance than modern usage would lead us to
suppose; the kitchens of old monasteries, mansion houses, and colleges
often have almost the size and architectural character of a second hall.
In the case before us it was a section of the "other house," and probably
occupied its whole height, with an open timber roof (G). In the
disposition of the bakehouse and convenient chamber for guests which were
also in this other house, we meet with our first difficulty; the "chamber"
might possibly be over the bakehouse, which took the usual form of an
undercroft beneath the guest chamber; but the definition that the house
was divided "in three parts" suggests that it was divided from top to
bottom into three distinct sections. Inclining to the latter opinion, we
have so disposed these apartments in our plan (F, E).

The elevation of the house may be conjectured with as much probability as
its plan. Standing in front of it we should have the side of the hall
towards us, with the arched door at its lower end, and perhaps two windows
in the side with carved wood tracery[309] in their heads. To the right
would be the gable end of the chamber with soler over it; the soler would
probably have a rather large arched and traceried window in the end, the
chamber a smaller and perhaps square-headed light. On the left would be
the building, perhaps a lean-to, containing the buttery and cellar, with
only a small square-headed light in front. The accompanying wood-cut of a
fourteenth-century house, from the Add. MSS. 10,292, will help to
illustrate our conjectural elevation of Kelvedon Rectory. It has the hall
with its great door and arched traceried window, and at the one end a
chamber and soler over it. It only wants the offices at the other end to
make the resemblance complete.[310]

[Illustration: _A Fourteenth Century House._]

Of later date probably and greater size, resembling a moated manor house,
was the rectory of Great Bromley, Essex, which is thus described in the
terrier of 1610 A.D.: "A large parsonage house compass'd with a Mote, a
Gate-house, with a large chamber, and a substantial bridge of timber
adjoining to it, a little yard, an orchard, and a little garden, all
within the Mote, which, together with the Circuit of the House, contains
about half an Acre of Ground; and without the Mote there is a Yard, in
which there is another Gate-house and a stable, and a hay house adjoining;
also a barn of 25 yards long and 9 yards wide, and about 79 Acres and
a-half of glebeland."[311] The outbuildings were perhaps arranged as a
courtyard outside the moat to which the gate-house formed an entrance, so
that the visitor would pass through this outer gate, through the court of
offices, over the bridge, and through the second gate-house into the base
court of the house. This is the arrangement at Ightham Mote, Kent.

The parish chaplains seem to have had houses of residence provided for
them. The parish of St. Michael-le-Belfry, York, complained in its
visitation presentment, in the year 1409, that there was no house assigned
for the parish chaplain or for the parish clerk. That they were small
houses we gather from the fact that in some of the settlements of
vicarages it is required that a competent house shall be built for the
vicar where the parish chaplain has been used to live; _e.g._ at Great
Bentley, Essex, it was ordered in 1323, that the vicars "shall have one
competent dwelling-house with a sufficient curtilage, where the parish
chaplain did use to abide, to be prepared at the cost of the said prior
and convent."[312] And at the settlement of the vicarage of St. Peter's,
Colchester, A.D. 1319, it was required that "the convent of St. Botolph's,
the impropriators, should prepare a competent house for the vicar in the
ground of the churchyard where a house was built for the parish chaplain
of the said church." At Radwinter, Essex, we find by the terrier of 1610
A.D., that there were two mansions belonging to the benefice, "on the
south side of the church, towards the west end, one called the great
vicarage, and in ancient time the Domus Capellanorum, and the other the
less vicarage," which latter "formerly served for the ease of the Parson,
and, as appears by evidence, first given to the end that if any of the
parish were sick, the party might be sure to find the Parson or his curate
near the church ready to go and visit him." At the south-west corner of
the churchyard of Doddinghurst, Essex, there still exists a little house
of fifteenth-century date, which may have been such a curate's house.

From a comparison of these parsonages with the usual plan and arrangement
of the houses of laymen of the fourteenth century, may be made the
important deduction that the houses of the parochial clergy had no
ecclesiastical peculiarities of arrangement; they were not little
monasteries or great recluse houses, they were like the houses of the
laity; and this agrees with the conclusions to which we have arrived
already by other roads, that the secular clergy lived in very much the
same style as laymen of a similar degree of wealth and social standing.
The poor clerk lived in a single chamber of a citizen's house; the town
priest had a house like those of the citizens; the country rector or vicar
a house like the manor houses of the smaller gentry.

As to the furniture of the parsonage, the wills of the clergy supply us
with ample authorities. We will select one of about the date of the
Kelvedon parsonage house which we have been studying, to help us to
conjecturally furnish the house which we have conjecturally built. Here is
an inventory of the goods of Adam de Stanton, a chaplain, date 1370 A.D.,
taken from Mr. Tymms's collection of Bury wills. "Imprimis, in money
vi{s.} viii{d.} and i seal of silver worth ijs." The money will seem a
fair sum to have in hand when we consider the greater value of money then
and especially the comparative scarcity of actual coin. The seal was
probably his official seal as chaplain of an endowed chantry; we have
extant examples of such seals of the beneficed clergy. "Item, iij brass
pots and i posnet worth xj{s.} vj{d.} Item, in plate, xxij{d.} Item, a
round pot with a laver, j{s.} vj{d.,}" probably an ewer and basin for
washing the hands, like those still used in Germany, &c. "Item, in iron
instruments, vj{s.} viiij{d.} and vj{d.,}" perhaps fire-dogs and poker,
spit, and pothook. "Item, in pewter vessels, iiij{s.} ij{d.,}" probably
plates, dishes, and spoons. "Item, of wooden utensils," which, from
comparison with other inventories of about the same period, we suppose
may be boards and trestles for tables, and benches, and a chair, and
perhaps may include trenchers and bowls. "Item, i portiforum, x{s.,}" a
book of church service so called, which must have been a handsome one to
be worth ten shillings, perhaps it was illuminated. "Item, j book de Lege
and j Par Statutorum, and j Book of Romances.[313] Item, j girdle with
purse and knife, v{s.}" on which we have already commented in our last
chapter. "Item, j pair of knives for the table, xij{d.} Item, j saddle
with bridle and spurs, iij{s.} Item, of linen and woollen garments,
xxviij{s.} and xij{d.} Item, of chests and caskets, vj{s.} ij{d.,}" Chests
and caskets then served for cupboards and drawers.[314]

If we compare these clerical inventories with those of contemporary laymen
of the same degree, we shall find that a country parson's house was
furnished like a small manor house, and that his domestic economy was very
like that of the gentry of a like income. Matthew Paris tells us an
anecdote of a certain handsome clerk, the rector of a rich church, who
surpassed all the knights living around him in giving repeated
entertainments and acts of hospitality.[315] But usually it was a rude
kind of life which the country squire or parson led, very like that which
was led by the substantial farmers of a few generations ago, when it was
the fashion for the unmarried farm labourers to live in the farm-house,
and for the farmer and his household all to sit down to meals together.
These were their hours:--

  "Rise at five, dine at nine,
   Sup at five, and bed at nine,
   Will make a man live to ninety-and-nine."

The master of the house sat in the sole arm-chair, in the middle of the
high table on the dais, with his family on either side of him; and his men
sat at the movable tables of boards and trestles, with a bench on each
side, which we find mentioned in the inventories: or the master sat at the
same table with his men, only he sat above the salt and they below; he
drank his ale out of a silver cup while they drank it out of horn; he ate
white bread while they ate brown, and he a capon out of his curtilage
while they had pork or mutton ham; he retired to his great chamber when he
desired privacy, which was not often perhaps; and he slept in a tester bed
in the great chamber, while they slept on truckle beds in the hall.

One item in the description of the Kelvedon parsonage requires special
consideration, and opens up a rather important question as to the domestic
economy of the parochial clergy over and above what we have hitherto
gleaned. "The convenient chamber for guests" there mentioned was not a
best bedroom for any friend who might pay him a visit. It was a provision
for the efficient exercise of the hospitality to which the beneficed
parochial clergy were bound. It is a subject which perhaps needs a little
explanation. In England there were no inns where travellers could obtain
food and lodging until the middle of the fourteenth century; and for long
after that period they could only be found in the largest and most
important towns; and it was held to be a part of the duty of the clergy to
"entertain strangers," and be "given to hospitality." It was a charity not
very likely to be abused; for, thanks to bad roads, unbridged fords, no
inns, wild moors, and vast forests haunted by lawless men, very few
travelled, except for serious business; and it was a real act of Christian
charity to afford to such travellers the food and shelter which they
needed, and would have been hard put to it to have obtained otherwise. The
monasteries, we all know, exercised this hospitality on so large a scale,
that in order to avoid the interruption a constant succession of guests
would have made in the seclusion and regularity of conventual life, they
provided special buildings for it, called the hospitium or guest house, a
kind of inn within the walls, and they appointed one of the monks, under
the name of the hospitaller or guest master, to represent the convent in
entertaining the guests. Hermitages also, we have seen, were frequently
built along the high roads, especially near bridges and fords, for the
purpose of aiding travellers. Along the road which led towards some
famous place of pilgrimage hospitals, which were always religious
foundations, were founded especially for the entertainment of poor
pilgrims. And the parochial clergy were expected to exercise a similar
hospitality. Thus in the replies of the rectors of Berkshire to the papal
legate, in 1240 A.D., they say that "their churches were endowed and
enriched by their patrons with lands and revenues for the especial purpose
that the rectors of them should receive guests, rich as well as poor, and
show hospitality to laity as well as clergy, according to their means, as
the custom of the place required."[316] Again, in 1246, the clergy, on a
similar occasion, stated that "a custom has hitherto prevailed, and been
observed in England, that the rectors of parochial churches have always
been remarkable for hospitality, and have made a practice of supplying
food to their parishioners who were in want, ... and if a portion of their
benefices be taken away from them, they will be under the necessity of
refusing their hospitality, and abandoning their accustomed offices of
piety. And if these be withdrawn, they will incur the hatred of those
subject to them [their parishioners], and will lose the favour of
passers-by [travellers] and their neighbours."[317] Again, in 1253 A.D.,
Bishop Grostête, in his remonstrance to the Pope, says of the foreigners
who were intruded into English benefices, that they "could not even take
up their residence, to administer to the wants of the poor, and to receive

There is an interesting passage illustrative of the subject quoted in
Parker's "Domestic Architecture," i. p. 123. Æneus Sylvius, afterwards
Pope Pius II., describing his journey from Scotland into England, in the
year 1448, says that he entered a large village in a wild and barbarous
part of the country, about sunset, and "alighted at a rustic's house, and
supped there with the priest of the place and the host." The special
mention of the priest in the first place almost leads us to conjecture
that the foreign ecclesiastic had first gone to the priest of the place
for the usual hospitality, and had been taken on by him to the manor
house--for the "rustic" seems to have been a squire--as better able to
afford him a suitable hospitality. Sundry pottages, and fowls, and geese,
were placed on the table, but there was neither bread nor wine. He had,
however, brought with him a few loaves and a roundel of wine, which he had
received at a certain monastery. Either a stranger was a great novelty, or
the Italian ecclesiastic had something remarkable in his appearance, for
he says all "the people of the place ran to the house to stare at him."

Kelvedon being on one of the great high roads of the country, its parson
would often be called upon to exercise his duty of hospitality, hence the
provision of a special guest chamber in the parsonage house. And so in our
picture of the domestic economy and ordinary life of a mediæval country
parson we must furnish his guest chamber, and add a little to the contents
of buttery and cellar, to provide for his duty of hospitality; and we must
picture him not always sitting in solitary dignity at his high table on
the dais, but often playing the courteous host to knight and lady,
merchant, minstrel, or pilgrim; and after dinner giving the broken meat to
the poor, who in the days when there was no poor law were the regular
dependants on his bounty.



It would carry us too far a-field to attempt to give a sketch of the early
music of the principal nations of antiquity, such as might be deduced from
the monuments of Egypt and Nineveh and Greece. We may, however, briefly
glance at the most ancient minstrelsy of the Israelites; partly for the
sake of the peculiar interest of the subject itself, partly because the
early history of music is nearly the same in all nations, and this
earliest history will illustrate and receive illustration from a
comparison with the history of music in mediæval England.

Musical instruments, we are told by the highest of all authorities, were
invented in the eighth generation of the world--that is in the third
generation before the flood--by Tubal, "the Father of all such as handle
the harp and organ, both stringed and wind instruments." The ancient
Israelites used musical instruments on the same occasions as the mediæval
Europeans--in battle; in their feasts and dances; in processions, whether
of religious or civil ceremony; and in the solemnising of divine worship.
The trumpet and the horn were then, as always, the instruments of warlike
music--"If ye go to war then shall ye blow an alarm with the silver
trumpets."[319] The trumpet regulated the march of the hosts of Israel
through the wilderness. When Joshua compassed Jericho, the seven priests
blew trumpets of rams' horns. Gideon and his three hundred discomfited the
host of the Midianites with the sound of their trumpets.

The Tabret was the common accompaniment of the troops of female dancers,
whether the occasion were religious or festive. Miriam the prophetess took
a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels
and with dances, singing a solemn chorus to the triumphant song of Moses
and of the Children of Israel over the destruction of Pharaoh in the Red

  "Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously;
   The horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea."[320]

Jephthah's daughter went to meet her victorious father with timbrels and

  "The daughter of the warrior Gileadite,
   From Mizpeh's tower'd gate with welcome light,
       With timbrel and with song."

And so, when King Saul returned from the slaughter of the Philistines,
after the shepherd David had killed their giant champion in the valley of
Elah, the women came out of all the cities to meet the returning warriors
"singing and dancing to meet King Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with
instruments of music;" and the women answered one another in dramatic

  "Saul hath slain his thousands,
   And David his ten thousands."[321]

Laban says that he would have sent away Jacob and his wives and children,
"with mirth and with songs, with tabret and with harp." And Jeremiah
prophesying that times of ease and prosperity shall come again for Israel,
says: "O Virgin of Israel, thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets,
and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry."[322]

In their feasts these and many other instruments were used. Isaiah tells
us[323] that they had "the harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe, and
wine in their feasts;" and Amos tells us of the luxurious people who lie
upon beds of ivory, and "chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to
themselves instruments of music like David," and drink wine in bowls, and
anoint themselves with the costliest perfumes.

Instruments of music were used in the colleges of Prophets, which Samuel
established in the land, to accompany and inspire the delivery of their
prophetical utterances. As Saul, newly anointed, went up the hill of God
towards the city, he met a company of prophets coming down, with a
psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp before them, prophesying;
and the spirit of the Lord came upon Saul when he heard, and he also
prophesied.[324] When Elisha was requested by Jehoram to prophesy the fate
of the battle with the Moabites, he said: "Bring me a minstrel; and when
the minstrel played, the hand of the Lord came upon him, and he

When David brought up the ark from Gibeah, he and all the house of Israel
played before the Lord on all manner of instruments made of firwood, even
on harps, psalteries, timbrels, cornets, and cymbals.[325] And in the song
which he himself composed to be sung on that occasion,[326] he thus
describes the musical part of the procession:--

                  "It is well seen how thou goest,
  How thou, my God and King, goest to the sanctuary;
  The singers go before, the minstrels follow after,
  In the midst are the damsels playing with the timbrels."

The instruments appointed for the regular daily service of the Temple "by
David, and Gad the king's seer, and Nathan the prophet, for so was the
commandment of the Lord by his prophets," were cymbals, psalteries, and
harps, which David made for the purpose, and which were played by four
thousand Levites.

Besides the instruments already mentioned,--the harp, tabret, timbrel,
psaltery, trumpet, cornet, cymbal, pipe, and viol,--they had also the
lyre, bag-pipes, and bells; and probably they carried back with them from
Babylon further additions, from the instruments of "all peoples, nations,
and languages" with which they would become familiarised in that capital
of the world. But from the time of Tubal down to the time when the royal
minstrel of Israel sang those glorious songs which are still the daily
solace of thousands of mankind, and further down to the time when the
captive Israelites hanged their unstrung harps upon the willows of
Babylon, and could not sing the songs of Zion in a strange land, the harp
continued still the fitting accompaniment of the voice in all poetical
utterance of a dignified and solemn character:--the recitation of the
poetical portions of historical and prophetical Scripture, for instance,
would be sustained by it, and the songs of the psalmists of Zion were
accompanied by its strains. And thus this sketch of the history of the
earliest music closes, with the minstrel harp still in the foreground;
while in the distance we hear the sound of the fanfare of cornet, flute,
harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of music, which were
concerted on great occasions; such as that on which they resounded over
the plain of Dura, to bow that bending crowd of heads, as the ripe corn
bends before the wind, to the great Image of Gold:--an idolatry, alas!
which the peoples, nations, and languages still perform almost as
fervently as of old.

       *       *       *       *       *

The northern Bard, or Scald, was the father of the minstrels of mediæval
Europe. Our own early traditions afford some picturesque anecdotes,
proving the high estimation in which the character was held by the Saxons
and their kindred Danes; and showing that they were accustomed to wander
about to court, and camp, and hall; and were hospitably received, even
though the Bard were of a race against which his hosts were at that very
time encamped in hostile array. We will only remind the reader of the
Royal Alfred's assumption of the character of a minstrel, and his visit in
that disguise to the Danish camp (A.D. 878); and of the similar visit, ten
years after, of Anlaff the Danish king to the camp of Saxon Athelstane.
But the earliest anecdote of the kind we shall have hereafter to refer to,
and may therefore here detail at length. It is told us by Geoffrey of
Monmouth, that Colgrin, the son of Ella, who succeeded Hengist in the
leadership of the invading Saxons, was shut up in York, and closely
besieged by King Arthur and his Britons. Baldulf, the brother of Colgrin,
wanted to gain access to him, to apprise him of a reinforcement which was
coming from Germany. In order to accomplish this design, he assumed the
character of a minstrel. He shaved his head and beard; and dressing
himself in the habit of that profession, took his harp in his hand. In
this disguise he walked up and down the trenches without suspicion,
playing all the while upon his instrument as a harper. By little and
little he approached the walls of the city; and, making himself known to
the sentinels, was in the night drawn up by a rope.

The harper continued throughout the Middle Ages to be the most dignified
of the minstrel craft, the reciter, and often the composer, of heroic
legend and historical tale, of wild romance and amorous song. Frequently,
and perhaps especially in the case of the higher class of harpers, he
travelled alone, as in the cases which we have already seen of Baldulf,
and Alfred, and Anlaff. But he also often associated himself with a band
of minstrels, who filled up the intervals of his recitations and songs
with their music, much as vocal and instrumental pieces are alternated in
our modern concerts. With a band of minstrels there was also very usually
associated a mime, who amused the audience with his feats of agility and
leger-de-main. The association appears at first sight somewhat
undignified--the heroic harper and the tumbler--but the incongruity was
not peculiar to the Middle Ages; the author of the "Iliad" wrote the
"Battle of the Frogs,"--the Greeks were not satisfied without a satiric
drama after their grand heroic tragedy; and in these days we have a farce
or a pantomime after Shakspeare. We are not all Heraclituses, to see only
the tragic side of life, or Democrituses, to laugh at everything; the
majority of men have faculties to appreciate both classes of emotion; and
it would seem, from universal experience, that, as the Russian finds a
physical delight in leaping from a vapour-bath into the frozen Neva, so
there is some mental delight in the sudden alternate excitation of the
opposite emotions of tragedy and farce. If we had time to philosophise, we
might find the source of the delight deeply seated in our
nature:--alternate tears and laughter--it is an epitome of human life!

In the accompanying woodcut from a Late Saxon MS. in the British Museum
(Cott. Tiberius C. vi.) we have a curious evidence of the way in which
custom blinded men to any incongruity there may be in the association of
the harper and the juggler, for here we have David singing his Psalms and
accompanying himself on the harp, the dove reminding us that he sang and
harped under the influence of inspiration. He is accompanied by performers
who must be Levites; and yet the Saxon illuminator was so used to see a
mime form one of a minstrel band, that he has introduced one playing the
common feat of tossing three knives and three balls.

[Illustration: _Saxon Band of Minstrels._]

The Saxons were a musical people. We learn from Bede's anecdote of the
poet Cædmon, that it was usual at their feasts to pass the harp round from
hand to hand, and every man was supposed to be able to sing in his turn,
and accompany himself on the instrument. They had a considerable number
of musical instruments. In a MS. in the British Museum, Tiberius C. vi.,
folios 16 v., 17 v., 18, are a few leaves of a formal treatise on the
subject, which give us very carefully drawn pictures of different
instruments, with their names and descriptions. There are also
illustrations of them in the Add. 11,695, folios 86, 86 v., 164, 170 v.,
229, and in Cleopatra E. viii. Among them are the Psaltery of various
shapes, the Sambuca or sackbut, the single and double Chorus, &c. Other
instruments we find in Saxon MSS. are the lyre, viol, flute, cymbals,
organ, &c. A set of hand-bells (carillons) which the player struck with
two hammers, was a favourite instrument. We often find different
instruments played together. At folio 93 v. of the MS. Claudius B iv.
there is a group of twelve female harpists playing together; one has a
small instrument, probably a kind of lyre, the rest have great harps of
the same pattern. They probably represent Miriam and the women of Israel
joining in the triumphal song of Moses over the destruction of the
Egyptians in the Red Sea.

[Illustration: _Saxon Organ._]

The organ, already introduced into divine service, became, under the hands
of St. Dunstan, a large and important instrument. William of Malmesbury
says that Dunstan gave many to churches which had pipes of brass and were
inflated with bellows. In a MS. psalter in Trinity College, Cambridge, is
a picture of one of considerable size, which has no less than four bellows
played by four men. It is represented in the accompanying wood-cut.

The Northmen who invaded and gave their name to Normandy, took their
minstrels with them; and the learned assert that it was from them that the
troubadours of Provence learned their art, which ripened in their sunny
clime into _la joyeuse science_, and thence was carried into Italy,
France, and Spain. It is quite certain that minstrelsy was in high repute
among the Normans at the period of the Conquest. Every one will remember
how Taillefer, the minstrel-knight, commenced the great battle of
Hastings. Advancing in front of the Norman host, he animated himself and
them to a chivalric daring by chanting the heroic tale of Charlemagne and
his Paladins, at the same time showing feats of skill in tossing his sword
into the air; and then rushed into the Saxon ranks, like a divinely-mad
hero of old, giving in his own self-sacrifice an augury of victory to his

From the period of the Conquest, authorities on the subject of which we
are treating, though still not so numerous as could be desired, become too
numerous to be all included within the limits to which our space restricts
us. The reader may refer to Wharton's "History of English Poetry," to
Bishop Percy's introductory essay to the "Reliques of Early English
Poetry," and to the introductory essay to Ellis's "Early English Metrical
Romances," for the principal published authorities. For a series of
learned essays on mediæval musical instruments he may consult M. Didron's
"Annales Archæologiques," vol. iii. pp. 76, 142, 260; vol. iv. pp. 25, 94;
vol. vi. p. 315; vol. vii. pp. 92, 157, 244, 325; vol. viii. p. 242; vol.
ix. pp. 289, 329.[327] We propose only from these and other published and
unpublished materials to give a popular sketch of the subject.

Throughout this period minstrelsy was in high estimation with all classes
of society. The king himself, like his Saxon[328] predecessors, had a
king's minstrel, or king of the minstrels, who probably from the first was
at the head of a band of royal minstrels.[329]

This fashion of the royal court, doubtless, like all its other fashions,
obtained also in the courts of the great nobility (several instances will
be observed in the sequel), and in their measure in the households of the
lesser nobility. Every gentleman of estate had probably his one, two, or
more minstrels as a regular part of his household. It is not difficult to
discover their duties. In the representations of dinners, which occur
plentifully in the mediæval MSS., we constantly find musicians introduced;
sometimes we see them preceding the servants, who are bearing the dishes
to table--a custom of classic usage, and which still lingers to this day
at Queen's College, Oxford, in the song with which the choristers usher in
the boar's head on Christmas-day, and at our modern public dinners, when
the band strikes up "Oh the Roast Beef of Old England," as that national
dish is brought to table.

We give here an illustration of such a scene from a very fine MS. of the
early part of the fourteenth century, in the British Museum (marked Royal
2 B vii., f. 184 v. and 185). A very fine representation of a similar
scene occurs at the foot of the large Flemish Brass of Robert Braunche and
his two wives in St. Margaret's Church, Lynn; the scene is intended as a
delineation of a feast given by the corporation of Lynn to King Edward
III. Servants from both sides of the picture are bringing in that famous
dish of chivalry, the peacock with his tail displayed; and two bands of
minstrels are ushering in the banquet with their strains: the date of the
brass is about 1364 A.D. In the fourteenth-century romance of "Richard
Coeur de Lion," we read of some knights who have arrived in presence of
the romance king whom they are in quest of; dinner is immediately prepared
for them; "trestles," says Ellis in his abstract of it, "were immediately
set; a table covered with a silken cloth was laid; a rich repast, ushered
in by the sound of trumpets and shalms, was served up."[330]

[Illustration: _A Royal Dinner._]

Having introduced the feast, the minstrels continued to play during its
progress. We find numerous representations of dinners in the
illuminations, in which one or two minstrels are standing beside the
table, playing their instruments during the progress of the meal. In a MS.
volume of romances of the early part of the fourteenth century in the
British Museum (Royal 14 E iii.), the title-page of the romance of the
"Quête du St. Graal" (at folio 89 of the MS.) is adorned with an
illumination of a royal banquet; a squire on his knee (as in the
illustration given on opposite page) is carving, and a minstrel stands
beside the table playing the violin; he is dressed in a parti-coloured
tunic of red and blue, and wears his hat. In the Royal MS. 2 B vii., at
folio 168, is a similar representation of a dinner, in which a minstrel
stands playing the violin; he is habited in a red tunic, and is
bareheaded. At folio 203 of the same MS. (Royal 2 B vii.), is another
representation of a dinner, in which two minstrels are introduced; one
(wearing his hood) is playing a cittern, the other (bareheaded) is playing
a violin: and these references might be multiplied.

[Illustration: _Royal Dinner of the time of Edward IV._]

We reproduce here, in further illustration of the subject, engravings of a
royal dinner of about the time of our Edward IV., "taken from an
illumination of the romance of the Compte d'Artois, in the possession of
M. Barrois, a distinguished and well-known collector in Paris."[331] The
other is an exceedingly interesting representation of a grand imperial
banquet, from one of the plates of Hans Burgmair, in the volume dedicated
to the exploits of the Emperor Maximilian, contemporary with our Henry
VIII. It represents the entrance of a masque, one of those strange
entertainments, of which our ancestors, in the time of Henry and
Elizabeth, were so fond, and of which Mr. C. Kean some years ago gave the
play-going world of London so accurate a representation in his _mise en
scene_ of Henry VIII. at the Princess's Theatre. The band of minstrels who
have been performing during the banquet, are seen in the left corner of
the picture.

[Illustration: _Imperial Banquet._]

So in "The Squier's Tale" of Chaucer, where Cambuscan is "holding his
feste so solempne and so riche."

  "It so befel, that after the thridde cours,
   While that this king sat thus in his nobley,[332]
   Harking his ministralles her[333] thinges play,
   Beforne him at his bord deliciously," &c.

The custom of having instrumental music as an accompaniment of dinner is
still retained by her Majesty and by some of the greater nobility, by
military messes, and at great public dinners. But the musical
accompaniment of a mediæval dinner was not confined to instrumental
performances. We frequently find a harper introduced, who is doubtless
reciting some romance or history, or singing chansons of a lighter
character. He is often represented as sitting upon the floor, as in the
accompanying illustration, from the Royal MS., 2 B vii., folio 71 b.
Another similar representation occurs at folio 203 b of the same MS. In
the following very charming picture, from a MS. volume of romances of
early fourteenth century date in the British Museum (Additional MS.,
10,292, folio 200), the harper is sitting upon the table.

[Illustration: _Harper._]

Gower, in his "Confessio Amantis," gives us a description of a scene of
the kind. Appolinus is dining in the hall of King Pentapolin, with the
king and queen and their fair daughter, and all his "lordes in estate."
Appolinus was reminded by the scene of the royal estate from which he is
fallen, and sorrowed and took no meat; therefore the king bade his
daughter take her harp and do all that she can to enliven that "sorry

  "And she to dou her fader's hest,
   Her harpe fette, and in the feste
   Upon a chaire which thei fette,
   Her selve next to this man she sette."

[Illustration: _Royal Harper._]

Appolinus in turn takes the harp, and proves himself a wonderful
proficient, and

  "When he hath harped all his fille,
   The kingis hest to fulfille,
   A waie goth dishe, a waie goth cup,
   Doun goth the borde, the cloth was up,
   Thei risen and gone out of the halle."

In the sequel, the interesting stranger was made tutor to the princess,
and among other teachings,

  "He taught hir till she was certeyne
   Of harpe, citole, and of riote,
   With many a tewne and many a note,
   Upon musike, upon measure,
   And of her harpe the temprure,
   He taught her eke, as he well couth."

Another occasion on which their services would be required would be for
the dance. Thus we read in the sequel of "The Squire's Tale," how the king
and his "nobley," when dinner was ended, rose from table, and, preceded by
the minstrels, went to the great chamber for the dance:--

  "Wan that this Tartar king, this Cambuscán,
   Rose from his bord ther as he sat ful hie;
   Beforne him goth the loudé minstralcie,
   Til he come to his chambre of parements,[334]
   Theras they sounden divers instruments,
   That it is like an Heaven for to here.
   Now dauncen lusty Venus children dere," &c.

In the tale of Dido and Æneas, in the legend of "Good Women," he calls it
especially the dancing chamber:--

  "To dauncing chambers full of paraments,
   Of riché bedés[335] and of pavements,
   This Eneas is ledde after the meat."

[Illustration: _Mediæval Dance._]

But the dance was not always in the great chamber. Very commonly it took
place in the hall. The tables were only movable boards laid upon trestles,
and at the signal from the master of the house, "A hall! a hall!" they
were quickly put aside; while the minstrels tuned their instruments anew,
and the merry folly at once commenced. In the illustration, of early
fourteenth-century date, which we give on the preceding page, from folio
174 of the Royal MS., 2 B vii., the scene of the dance is not indicated;
the minstrels themselves appear to be joining in the saltitation which
they inspire.

In the next illustration, reproduced from Mr. Wright's "Domestic Manners
of the English," we have a curious picture of a dance, possibly in the
gallery, which occupied the whole length of the roof of most
fifteenth-century houses; it is from M. Barrois's MS. of the "Compte
D'Artois," of fifteenth-century date. In all these instances the minstrels
are on the floor with the dancers, but in the latter part of the Middle
Ages they were probably--especially on festal occasions--placed in the
music gallery over the screens, or entrance-passage, of the hall.

[Illustration: _A Dance in the Gallery._]

Marriage processions were, beyond doubt, attended by minstrels. An
illustration of a band consisting of tabor, bagpipes, regal, and violin,
heading a marriage procession, may be seen in the Roman d'Alexandre
(Bodleian Library) at folio 173; and at folios 173 and 174 the wedding
feast is enlivened by a more numerous band of harp, gittern, violin,
regal, tabor, bagpipes, hand-bells, cymbals, and kettle-drums--which are
carried on a boy's back.[336]



Every nobleman and gentleman in the Middle Ages, we have seen, had one or
more minstrels as part of his household, and among their other duties they
were required to assist at the celebration of divine worship. Allusions
occur perpetually in the old romances, showing that it was the universal
custom to hear mass before dinner, and even-song before supper, _e.g._:
"And so they went home and unarmed them, and so to even-song and
supper.... And on the morrow they heard mass, and after went to dinner,
and to their counsel, and made many arguments what were best to do."[337]
"The Young Children's Book," a kind of mediæval "Chesterfield's Letters to
his Son," published by the Early English Text Society, from a MS. of
about 1500 A.D., in the Bodleian Library, bids its pupils--

  "Aryse be tyme oute of thi bedde,
   And blysse[338] thi brest and thi forhede,
   Then wasche thi handes and thi face,
   Keme thi hede and ask God grace
   The to helpe in all thi workes;
   Thou schalt spede better what so thou carpes.
   Then go to the chyrche and here a massé,
   There aske mersy for thi trespasse.
   When thou hast done go breke thy faste
   With mete and drynk a gode repast."

In great houses the service was performed by the chaplain in the chapel of
the hall or castle, and it seems probable that the lord's minstrels
assisted in the musical part of the service.

The organ doubtless continued to be, as we have seen it in Saxon times,
the most usual church instrument. Thus the King of Hungary in "The Squire
of Low Degree," tells his daughter:--

  "Then shal ye go to your even song,
   With tenours and trebles among;

      *       *       *       *

   Your quere nor organ song shal want
   With countre note and dyscant;
   The other half on organs playing,
   With young children ful fayn synging."

And in inventories of church furniture in the Middle Ages we find organs
enumerated:[339] Not only the organ, but all instruments in common use,
were probably also used in the celebration of divine worship. We meet with
repeated instances in which David singing the psalms is accompanied by a
band of musicians, as in the Saxon illumination on p. 272, and again in
the initial letter of this chapter, which is taken from a psalter of
early thirteenth-century date in the British Museum (Harl. 5,102). The men
of those days were in some respects much more real and practical, less
sentimental and transcendental, than we in religious matters. We must have
everything relating to divine worship of different form and fashion from
ordinary domestic appliances, and think it irreverent to use things of
ordinary domestic fashion for religious uses, or to have domestic things
in the shapes of what we call religious art. They had only one art, the
best they knew, for all purposes; and they were content to apply the best
of that to the service of God. Thus to their minds it would not appear at
all unseemly that the minstrels who had accompanied the divine service in
chapel should walk straight out of chapel into the hall, and tune their
instruments anew to play symphonies, or accompany chansons during dinner,
or enliven the dance in the great chamber in the evening--no more unseemly
than that their master and his family should dine and dance as well as
pray. The chapel royal establishment of Edward IV. consisted of trumpets,
shalms, and pipes, as well as voices; and we may be quite sure that the
custom of the royal chapel was imitated by noblemen and gentlemen of
estate. A good fifteenth-century picture of the interior of a church,
showing the organ in a gallery, is engraved in the "Annales
Archæologiques," vol. xii., p. 349. A very good representation of an organ
of the latter part of the sixteenth century (1582) is in the fine MS.
Plut. 3,469, folio 27.[340] An organ of about this date is still preserved
in that most interesting old Manor House, Igtham Mote, in Kent. They were
sometimes placed at the side of the chancel, sometimes in the rood-loft,
which occupied the same relative position in the choir which the music
gallery did in the hall.

In the MSS. we not unfrequently find the ordinary musical instruments
placed in the hands of the angels; _e.g._, in the early fourteenth-century
MS. Royal 2 B. vii., in a representation of the creation, with the morning
stars singing together, and all the sons of God shouting for joy, an
angelic choir are making melody on the trumpet, violin, cittern, shalm (or
psaltery), and harp. There is another choir of angels at p. 168 of the
same MS., two citterns and two shalms, a violin and trumpet. Similar
representations occur very significantly in churches. On the arch of the
Porta Della Gloria of Saragossa Cathedral, of the eleventh century, from
which there is a cast at the entrance to the South Kensington Museum, are
a set of angel minstrels with musical instruments. In the bosses of the
ceiling of Tewkesbury Abbey Church we find angels playing the cittern
(with a plectrum), the harp (with its cover seen enveloping the lower half
of the instrument)[341] and the cymbals. A set of angel musicians is
sculptured on the rood loft of York Minster. In the triforum of the nave
of Exeter Cathedral is a projecting gallery for the minstrels, with
sculptures of them on the front playing instruments.[342] In the choir of
Lincoln Cathedral, some of the noble series of angels which fill the
spandrels of its arcades, and which have given to it the name of the Angel
Choir, are playing instruments, viz., the trumpet, double pipe, pipe and
tabret, dulcimer, viol and harp. They represent the heavenly choir
attuning their praises in harmony with the human choir below: "Therefore
with angels and archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud
and magnify thy glorious name." There is a band of musicians sculptured on
the grand portal of the Cathedral at Rheims; a sculptured capital from the
church of St. Georges de Bocherville, now in the Museum at Rouen,
represents eleven crowned figures playing different instruments.[343] On
the chasse of St. Ursula at Bruges are angels playing instruments
beautifully painted by Hemling.[344] We cannot resist the temptation to
introduce here another charming little drawing of an angelic minstrel,
playing a psaltery, from the Royal MS. 14 E iii.; others occur at folio 1
of the same MS. The band of village musicians with flute, violin,
clarinet, and bass-viol, whom most of us have seen occupying the
singing-gallery of some country church, are the representatives of the
band of minstrels who occupied the rood-lofts in mediæval times.

[Illustration: _The Morning Stars singing together._]

[Illustration: _An Angel Minstrel._]

Clerical censors of manners during the Middle Ages frequently denounce the
dissoluteness of minstrels, and the minstrels take their revenge by
lampooning the vices of the clergy. Like all sweeping censures of whole
classes of men, the accusations on both sides must be received cautiously.
However, it is certain that the minstrels were patronised by the clergy.
We shall presently find a record of the minstrels of the Bishop of
Winchester in the fourteenth century; and the Ordinance of Edward II.,
quoted at p. 296, tells us that minstrels flocked to the houses of
prelates as well as of nobles and gentlemen. In the thirteenth century,
that fine sample of an English bishop, Grostête of Lincoln, was a great
patron of minstrel science: he himself composed an allegorical romance,
the Chasteau d'Amour. Robert de Brunne, in his English paraphrase of
Grostête's Manuel de Peches (begun in 1303), gives us a charming anecdote
of the Bishop's love of minstrelsy.

  "Y shall yow telle as y have herde,
   Of the bysshope seyut Robérde,
   Hys to-name ys Grostet.
   Of Lynkolne, so seyth the gest
   He loved moche to here the harpe,
   For mannys witte hyt makyth sharpe.
   Next hys chaumber, besyde his stody,
   Hys harpers chaumbre was fast therby.
   Many tymes be nyght and dayys,
   He had solace of notes and layys.
   One askede hym onys resun why
   He hadde delyte in mynstralsy?
   He answered hym on thys manere
   Why he helde the harper so dere.
   The vertu of the harpe, thurghe skylle and ryght,
   Wyl destroy the fendes myght;
   And to the croys by gode skylle
   Ys the harpe lykened weyle.
   Tharfor gode men, ye shul lere
   Whan ye any gleman here,
   To wurschep Gode al youre powére,
   As Dauyde seyth yn the sautére."

We know that the abbots lived in many respects as other great people did;
they exercised hospitality to guests of gentle birth in their own halls,
treated them to the diversions of hunting and hawking over their manors
and in their forests, and did not scruple themselves to partake in those
amusements; possibly they may have retained minstrels wherewith to solace
their guests and themselves. It is quite certain at least that the
wandering minstrels were welcome guests at the religious houses; and
Warton records many instances of the rewards given to them on those
occasions. We may record two or three examples.

The monasteries had great annual feasts, on the ecclesiastical festivals,
and often also in commemoration of some saint or founder; there was a
grand service in church, and a grand dinner afterwards in the refectory.
The convent of St. Swithin, in Winchester, used thus to keep the
anniversary of Alwyne the Bishop; and in the year A.D. 1374 we find that
six minstrels, accompanied by four harpers, performed their minstrelsies
at dinner, in the hall of the convent, and during supper sang the same
gest in the great arched chamber of the prior, on which occasion the
chamber was adorned, according to custom on great occasions, with the
prior's great dorsal (a hanging for the wall behind the table), having on
it a picture of the three kings of Cologne. These minstrels and harpers
belonged partly to the Royal household in Winchester Castle, partly to the
Bishop of Winchester. Similarly at the priory of Bicester, in Oxfordshire,
in the year A.D. 1432, the treasurer of the monastery gave four shillings
to six minstrels from Buckingham, for singing in the refectory, on the
Feast of the Epiphany, a legend of the Seven Sleepers. In A.D. 1430 the
brethren of the Holie Crosse at Abingdon celebrated their annual feast;
twelve priests were hired for the occasion to help to sing the dirge with
becoming solemnity, for which they received four pence each; and twelve
minstrels, some of whom came from the neighbouring town of Maidenhead,
were rewarded with two shillings and four pence each, besides their share
of the feast and food for their horses. At Mantoke Priory, near Coventry,
there was a yearly obit; and in the year A.D. 1441, we find that eight
priests were hired from Coventry to assist in the service, and the six
minstrels of their neighbour, Lord Clinton, of Mantoke Castle, were
engaged to sing, harp, and play, in the hall of the monastery, at the
grand refection allowed to the monks on the occasion of that anniversary.
The minstrels amused the monks and their guests during dinner, and then
dined themselves in the painted chamber (_camera picta_) of the monastery
with the sub-prior, on which occasion the chamberlain furnished eight
massy tapers of wax to light their table.

These are instances of minstrels formally invited by abbots and convents
to take part in certain great festivities; but there are proofs that the
wandering minstrel, who, like all other classes of society, would find
hospitality in the guest-house of the monastery, was also welcomed for his
minstrel skill, and rewarded for it with guerdon of money, besides his
food and lodging. Warton gives instances of entries in monastic accounts
for disbursements on such occasions; and there is an anecdote quoted by
Percy of some dissolute monks who one evening admitted two poor priests
whom they took to be minstrels, and ill-treated and turned them out again
when they were disappointed of their anticipated gratification.

On the next page is a curious illumination from the Royal MS. 2 B vii.,
representing a friar and a nun themselves making minstrelsy.

[Illustration: _Nun and Friar with Musical Instruments._]

At tournaments the scene was enlivened by the strains of minstrels, and
horses and men inspirited to the charge by the loud fanfare of their
instruments. Thus in "The Knight's Tale," at the tournament of Palamon and
Arcite, as the king and his company rode to the lists:--

  "Up gon the trumpets and the melodie,
   And to the listés ride the companie."

And again:--

  "Then were the gates shut, and cried was loude
   Now do your devoir youngé knightés proud.
   The heralds left their pricking up and down,
   Now ringen trumpets loud and clarioun.
   There is no more to say, but East and West
   In go the spearés sadly in the rest;
   In goeth the sharpé spur into the side;
   There see men who can just and who can ride.
   Men shiveren shaftés upon shieldés thick,
   He feeleth thro the hearte-spoon the prick."

In actual war only the trumpet and horn and tabor seem to have been used.
In "The Romance of Merlin" we read of

  "Trumpés beting, tambours classing"

in the midst of a battle; and again, in Chaucer's "Knight's Tale"--

  "Pipes, trumpets, nakeres,[345] and clariouns
   That in the battle blowen bloody sounds;"

and again, on another occasion--

  "The trumping and the tabouring,
   Did together the knights fling."

There are several instances in the Royal MS., 2 B vii., in which
trumpeters are sounding their instruments in the rear of a company of
charging chevaliers.

Again, when a country knight and his neighbour wished to keep their spears
in practice against the next tournament, or when a couple of errant
knights happened to meet at a manor-house, the lists were rudely staked
out in the base-court of the castle, or in the meadow under the
castle-walls; and, while the ladies looked on and waved their scarfs from
the windows or the battlements, and the vassals flocked round the ropes,
the minstrels gave animation to the scene. In the illustration on p. 414
from the title-page of the Royal MS., 14 E iii., a fine volume of romances
of early fourteenth-century date, we are made spectators of a scene of the
kind; the herald is arranging the preliminaries between the two knights
who are about to joust, while a band of minstrels inspire them with their

Not only at these stated periods, but at all times, the minstrels were
liable to be called upon to enliven the tedium of their lord or lady with
music and song; the King of Hungary (in "The Squire of Low Degree"),
trying to comfort his daughter for the loss of her lowly lover by the
promise of all kinds of pleasures, says that in the morning--

  "Ye shall have harpe, sautry, and songe,
   And other myrthes you among."

And again a little further on, after dinner--

  "When you come home your menie amonge,
   Ye shall have revell, daunces, and songe;
   Lytle children, great and smale,
   Shall syng as doth the nightingale."

And yet again, when she is gone to bed--

  "And yf ye no rest can take,
   All night mynstrels for you shall wake."

Doubtless many of the long winter evenings, when the whole household was
assembled round the blazing wood fire in the middle of the hall, would be
passed in listening to those interminable tales of chivalry which my
lord's chief harper would chant to his harp, while his fellows would play
a symphony between the "fyttes." Of other occasions on which the minstrels
would have appropriate services to render, an entry in the Household Book
of the Percy family in A.D. 1512 gives us an indication: There were three
of them at their castle in the north, a tabret, a lute, and a rebec; and
we find that they had a new-year's gift, "xx_s._ for playing at my lordes
chamber doure on new yeares day in the mornynge; and for playing at my
lordes sone and heire's chamber doure, the lord Percy, ii_s._; and for
playing at the chamber dours of my lord's yonger sonnes, my yonge masters,
after viii. the piece for every of them."

       *       *       *       *       *

But besides the official minstrels of kings, nobles, and gentlemen,
bishops, and abbots, and corporate towns, there were a great number of
"minstrels unattached," and of various grades of society, who roamed
abroad singly or in company, from town to town, from court to camp, from
castle to monastery, flocking in great numbers to tournaments and
festivals and fairs, and welcomed everywhere.

The summer-time was especially the season for the wanderings of these
children of song,[346] as it was of the knight-errant[347] and of the
pilgrim[348] also. No wonder that the works of the minstrels abound as
they do with charming outbursts of song on the return of the spring and
summer, and the delights which they bring. All winter long the minstrel
had lain in some town, chafing at its miry and unsavoury streets, and its
churlish, money-getting citizens; or in some hospitable castle or
manor-house, perhaps, listening to the wind roaring through the broad
forests, and howling among the turrets overhead, until he pined for
freedom and green fields; his host, perchance, grown tired of his ditties,
and his only occupation to con new ones; this, from the "Percy Reliques,"
sounds like a verse composed at such a time:--

  "In time of winter alange[349] it is!
   The foules lesen[350] her bliss!
   The leves fallen off the tree;
   Rain alangeth[351] the countree."

No wonder they welcomed the return of the bright, warm days, when they
could resume their gay, adventurous, open-air life, in the fresh, flowery
meadows, and the wide, green forest glades; roaming to town and village,
castle and monastery, feast and tournament; alone, or in company with a
band of brother minstrels; meeting by the way with gay knights
adventurous, or pilgrims not less gay--if they were like those of
Chaucer's company; welcomed everywhere by priest and abbot, lord and loon.
These are the sort of strains which they carolled as they rested under the
white hawthorn, and carelessly tinkled an accompaniment on their harps:--

  "Merry is th' enté of May;
   The fowles maketh merry play;
   The time is hot, and long the day.
   The joyful nightingale singeth,
   In the grene mede flowers springeth.

      *       *       *       *

  "Merry it is in somer's tide;
   Fowles sing in forest wide;
   Swaines gin on justing ride,
   Maidens liffen hem in pride."

The minstrels were often men of position and wealth. Rayer, or Raherus,
the first of the king's minstrels whom we meet with after the Conquest,
founded the Priory and Hospital of St. Bartholomew, in Smithfield, London,
in the third year of Henry I., A.D. 1102, and became the first prior of
his own foundation. He was not the only minstrel who turned religious.
Foulquet de Marseille, first a merchant, then a minstrel of note--some of
his songs have descended to these days--at length turned monk, and was
made abbot of Tournet, and at length Archbishop of Toulouse, and is known
in history as the persecutor of the Albigenses: he died in 1231 A.D. It
seems to have been no unusual thing for men of family to take up the
wandering, adventurous life of the minstrel, much as others of the same
class took up the part of knight adventurous; they frequently travelled on
horseback, with a servant to carry their harp; flocking to courts and
tournaments, where the graceful and accomplished singer of chivalrous
deeds was perhaps more caressed than the large-limbed warrior who achieved
them; and obtained large rewards, instead of huge blows, for his guerdon.

There are some curious anecdotes showing the kind of people who became
minstrels, their wandering habits, their facility of access to all
companies and places, and the uses which were sometimes made of their
privileges. All our readers will remember how Blondel de Nesle, the
minstrel of Richard Coeur de Lion, wandered over Europe in search of his
master. There is a less known instance of a similar kind and of the same
period. Ela, the heiress of D'Evereux, Earl of Salisbury, had been carried
abroad and secreted by her French relations in Normandy. To discover the
place of her concealment, a knight of the Talbot family spent two years in
exploring that province; at first under the disguise of a pilgrim; then,
having found where she was confined, in order to gain admittance, he
assumed the dress and character of a harper; and being a jocose person,
exceedingly skilled in the Gests of the ancients, he was gladly received
into the family. He succeeded in carrying off the lady, whom he restored
to her liege lord the king, who bestowed her in marriage, not upon the
adventurous knight-minstrel, as ought to have been the ending of so pretty
a novelet, but upon his own natural brother, William Longespée, to whom
she brought her earldom of Salisbury in dower.

Many similar instances, not less valuable evidences of the manners of the
times because they are fiction, might be selected from the romances of the
Middle Ages; proving that it was not unusual for men of birth and
station[352] to assume, for a longer or shorter time, the character and
life of the wandering minstrel.

But besides these gentle minstrels, there were a multitude of others of
the lower classes of society, professors of the joyous science; descending
through all grades of musical skill, and of respectability of character.
We find regulations from time to time intended to check their
irregularities. In 1315 King Edward II. issued an ordinance addressed to
sheriffs, &c., as follows: "Forasmuch as ... many idle persons under
colour of mynstrelsie, and going in messages[353] and other faigned
busines, have been and yet be receaved in other men's houses to meate and
drynke, and be not therwith contented yf they be not largely considered
with gyftes of the Lordes of the Houses, &c.... We wyllyng to restrayne
such outrageous enterprises and idlenes, &c., have ordeyned ... that to
the houses of Prelates, Earls, and Barons, none resort to meate and drynke
unless he be a mynstrell, and of these mynstrels that there come none
except it be three or four mynstrels of honour at most in one day unless
he be desired of the Lorde of the House. And to the houses of meaner men,
that none come unlesse he be desired; and that such as shall come so holde
themselves contented with meate and drynke, and with such curtesie as the
Master of the House wyl shewe unto them of his owne good wyll, without
their askyng of any thyng. And yf any one do against this ordinaunce at
the first tyme he to lose his minstrelsie, and at the second tyme to
forsweare his craft, and never to be received for a minstrell in any
house." This curious ordinance gives additional proof of several facts
which we have before noted, viz., that minstrels were well received
everywhere, and had even become exacting in their expectations; that they
used to wander about in bands; and the penalties seem to indicate that the
minstrels were already incorporated in a guild. The first positive
evidence of such a guild is in the charter (already alluded to) of 9th
King Edward IV., A.D. 1469, in which he grants to Walter Haliday,
_Marshall_, and seven others, his own minstrels, a charter by which he
restores a Fraternity or perpetual Guild (such as he understands the
brothers and sisters of the Fraternity of Minstrels had in times past), to
be governed by a marshall, appointed for life, and by two wardens, to be
chosen annually, who are empowered to admit brothers and sisters into the
guild, and are authorised to examine the pretensions of all such as affect
to exercise the minstrel profession; and to regulate, govern, and punish
them throughout the realm--those of Chester excepted. It seems probable
that the King's Minstrel, or the King of the Minstrels, had long
previously possessed an authority of this kind over all the members of the
profession, and that the organization very much resembled that of the
heralds. The two are mentioned together in the Statute of Arms for
Tournaments, passed in the reign of Edward I., A.D. 1295. "E qe nul Roy de
Harraunz ne Menestrals[354] portent privez armez:" that no King of the
Heralds or of the Minstrels shall carry secret weapons. That the minstrels
attended all tournaments we have already mentioned. The heralds and
minstrels are often coupled in the same sentence; thus Froissart tells us
that at a Christmas entertainment given by the Earl of Foix, there were
many minstrels, as well his own as strangers, "and the Earl gave to
Heraulds and Minstrelles the sum of fyve hundred frankes; and gave to the
Duke of Tourayne's mynstreles gowns of cloth of gold furred with ermine,
valued at 200 frankes."[355]



It is not unlikely that the principal minstrel of every great noble
exercised some kind of authority over all minstrels within his lord's
jurisdiction. There are several famous instances of something of this kind
on record. The earliest is that of the authority granted by Ranulph, Earl
of Chester, to the Duttons over all minstrels of his jurisdiction; for the
romantic origin of the grant the curious reader may see the Introductory
Essay to Percy's "Reliques," or the original authorities in Dugdale's
"Monasticon," and D. Powel's "History of Cambria." The ceremonies
attending the exercise of this authority are thus described by Dugdale, as
handed down to his time:--viz., "That at Midsummer fair there, all the
minstrels of that countrey resorting to Chester, do attend the heir of
Dutton from his lodging to St. John's Church (he being then accompanied
by many gentlemen of the countrey), one of the minstrels walking before
him in a surcoat of his arms, depicted on taffeta; the rest of his fellows
proceeding two and two, and playing on their several sorts of musical
instruments. And after divine service ended, gave the like attendance on
him back to his lodging; where a court being kept by his (Mr. Dutton's)
steward, and all the minstrels formally called, certain orders and laws
are usually made for the better government of that society, with penalties
on those that transgress." This court, we have seen, was exempted from the
jurisdiction of the King of the Minstrels by Edward IV., as it was also
from the operation of all Acts of Parliament on the subject down to so
late a period as the seventeenth year of George II., the last of them. In
the fourth year of King Richard II., John[356] of Gaunt created a court of
minstrels at Tutbury, in Staffordshire, similar to that at Chester; in the
charter (which is quoted in Dr. Plott's "History of Staffordshire," p.
436) he gives them a King of the Minstrels and four officers, with a legal
authority over the men of their craft in the five adjoining counties of
Stafford, Derby, Notts, Leicester, and Warwick. The form of election, as
it existed at a comparatively late period, is fully detailed by Dr. Plott.

[Illustration: _The Beverley Minstrels._]

Another of these guilds was the ancient company or fraternity of minstrels
in Beverley, of which an account is given in Poulson's "Beverlac" (p.
302). When the fraternity originated we do not know; but they were of some
consideration and wealth in the reign of Henry VI., when the Church of St.
Mary's, Beverley, was built; for they gave a pillar to it, on the capital
of which a band of minstrels are sculptured, of whom we here re-produce a
drawing from Carter's "Ancient Painting and Sculpture," to which we shall
have presently to ask the reader's further attention. The oldest existing
document of the fraternity is a copy of laws of the time of Philip and
Mary. They are similar to those by which all trade guilds were governed:
their officers were an alderman and two stewards or sears (_i.e._ seers,
searchers); the only items in their laws which throw much additional light
upon our subject are the one already partly quoted, that they should not
take "any new brother except he be mynstrell to some man of honour or
worship (proving that men of honour and worship still had minstrels), or
waite[357] of some towne corporate or other ancient town, or else of such
honestye and conyng as shall be thought laudable and pleasant to the
hearers there." And again, "no myler, shepherd, or of other occupation, or
husbandman, or husbandman servant, playing upon pype or other instrument,
shall sue any wedding, or other thing that pertaineth to the said science,
except in his own parish." We may here digress for a moment to say that
the shepherds, throughout the Middle Ages, seem to have been as musical as
the swains of Theocritus or Virgil; in the MS. illuminations we constantly
find them represented playing upon instruments; we give a couple of
goatherds from the MS. Royal 2 B vii. folio 83, of early
fourteenth-century date.

[Illustration: _Goatherds playing Musical Instruments._]

[Illustration: _Shepherd with Bagpipes._]

Besides the pipe and horn, the bagpipe was also a rustic instrument. There
is a shepherd playing upon one in folio 112 of the same MS.; and again, in
the early fourteenth-century MS. Royal 2 B vi., on the reverse of folio 8,
is a group of shepherds, one of whom plays a small pipe, and another the
bagpipes. Chaucer (3rd Book of the "House of Fame") mentions--

            "Pipes made of greené corne,
  As have these little herd gromes,
  That keepen beastés in the bromes."

It is curious to find that even at so late a period as the time of Queen
Mary, the shepherds still officiated at weddings and other merrymakings in
their villages, so as to excite the jealousy of the professors of the
joyous science.

The accompanying wood-cut, from a MS. in the French National library, may
represent such a rustic merry-making.

[Illustration: _Rustic Merry-making._]

One might, perhaps, have been disposed to think that the good minstrels of
Beverley were only endeavouring to revive usages which had fallen into
desuetude; but we find that in the time of Elizabeth the profession of
minstrelsy was sufficiently universal to call for the inquiry, in the
Injunctions of 1559, "Whether any minstrells, or any other persons, do use
to sing any songs or ditties that be vile or unclean."

Ben Jonson gives us numerous allusions to them: _e.g._, in the "Tale of a
Tub," old Turve talks of "old Father Rosin, the chief minstrel here--chief
minstrel, too, of Highgate; she has hired him, and all his two boys, for a
day and a half." They were to be dressed in bays, rosemary, and ribands,
to precede the bridal party across the fields to church and back, and to
play at dinner. And so in "Epicoene," act iii. sc. 1:--

    "Well, there be guests to meat now; how shall we do for music?" [for
    Morose's wedding.]

    _Clerimont._--The smell of the venison going thro' the street will
    invite one noise of fiddlers or other.

    _Dauphine._--I would it would call the trumpeters hither!

    _Clerimont._--Faith, there is hope: they have intelligence of all
    feasts. There's a good correspondence betwixt them and the London
    cooks: 'tis twenty to one but we have them.

And Dryden, so late as the time of William III., speaks of them--

                                "These fellows
  Were once the minstrels of a country show,
  Followed the prizes through each paltry town,
  By trumpet cheeks and bloated faces known."

There were also female minstrels throughout the Middle Ages; but, as might
be anticipated from their irregular wandering life, they bore an
indifferent reputation. The romance of "Richard Coeur de Lion" says that
it was a female minstrel, and, still worse, an Englishwoman, who
recognised and betrayed the knight-errant king and his companions, on
their return from the Holy Land, to his enemy, the "King of Almain." The
passage is worth quoting, as it illustrates several of the traits of
minstrel habits which we have already recorded. After Richard and his
companions had dined on a goose, which they cooked for themselves at a

  "When they had drunken well afin,
   A minstralle com therin,
   And said 'Gentlemen, wittily,
   Will ye have any minstrelsey?'
   Richard bade that she should go.
   That turned him to mickle woe!
   The minstralle took in mind,[358]
   And saith, 'Ye are men unkind;
   And if I may, ye shall for-think[359]
   Ye gave neither meat nor drink.
   For gentlemen should bede[360]
   To minstrels that abouten yede[361]
   Of their meat, wine, and ale;
   For los[362] rises of minstrale.'
   She was English, and well true
   By speech, and sight, and hide, and hue."

Stow tells that in 1316, while Edward II. was solemnizing his Feast of
Pentecost in his hall at Westminster, sitting royally at table, with his
peers about him, there entered a woman adorned like a minstrel, sitting on
a great horse, trapped as minstrels then used, who rode round about the
tables showing her pastime. The reader will remember the use which Sir E.
B. Lytton has made of a troop of tymbesteres in "The Last of the Barons,"
bringing them in at the epochs of his tale with all the dramatic effect of
the Greek chorus: the description which he gives of their habits is too
sadly truthful. The daughter of Herodias dancing before Herod is
scornfully represented by the mediæval artists as a female minstrel
performing the tumbling tricks which were part of their craft. We give a
representation of a female minstrel playing the tambourine from the MS.
Royal, 2 B vii. folio 182.

[Illustration: _Female Minstrel._]

A question of considerable interest to artists, no less than to
antiquaries, is whether the minstrels were or not distinguished by any
peculiar costume or habit. Bishop Percy[363] and his followers say that
they were, and the assertion is grounded on the following evidences:
Baldulph, the Saxon, in the anecdote already related, when assuming the
disguise of a minstrel, is described as shaving his head and beard, and
dressing himself in the habit of that profession. Alfred and Aulaff were
known at once to be minstrels. The two poor priests who were turned out of
the monastery by the dissolute monks were at first mistaken for minstrels.
The woman who entered Westminster Hall at King Edward the Second's
Pentecost feast was adorned like a minstrel, sitting on a great horse,
trapped as minstrels then used.

The Knight of La Tour-Landry (chap. xvii) tells a story which shows that
the costume of minstrels was often conspicuous for richness and fashion:
"As y have herde telle, Sir Piere de Luge was atte the feste where as were
gret foyson of lordes, ladies, knightes, and squieres, and gentilwomen,
and so there came in a yonge squier before hem that was sette atte dyner
and salued the companie, and he was clothed in a cote-hardy[364] upon the
guyse of Almayne, and in this wise he come further before the lordes and
ladies, and made hem goodly reverence. And so the said Sir Piere called
this yonge squier with his voys before alle the statis, and saide unto hym
and axed hym, where was his fedylle or hys ribible, or suche an instrument
as longethe unto a mynstralle. 'Syr,' saide the squier, 'I canne not
medille me of such thinge, it is not my craft nor science.' 'Sir,' saide
the knight, 'I canne not trowe that ye saye, for ye be counterfait in
youre araye and lyke unto a mynstralle; for I have knowe herebefore alle
youre aunsetours, and the knightes and squiers of youre kin, which were
alle worthie men; but I sawe never none of hem that were [wore]
counterfait, nor that clothed hem in such array.' And thanne the yonge
squier answered the knight and saide, 'Sir, by as moche as it mislykithe
you it shalle be amended,' and cleped a pursevant and gave him the
cote-hardy. And he abled hym selff in an other gowne, and come agen into
the halle, and thanne the anncyen knight saide openly, 'This yonge squier
shalle have worshipe for he hath trowed and do bi the counsaile of the
elder withoute ani contraryenge.'"

In the time of Henry VII. we read of nine ells of _tawny_ cloth for three
minstrels; and in the "History of Jack of Newbury," of "a noise [_i.e._
band] of musicians in _townie_ coats, who, putting off their caps, asked
if they would have music." And lastly, there is a description of the
person who personated "an ancient mynstrell" in one of the pageants which
were played before Queen Elizabeth at her famous visit to Kenilworth,
which is curious enough to be quoted. "A person, very meet seemed he for
the purpose, of a forty-five years old, apparalled partly as he would
himself. His cap off; his head seemly rounded tonsterwise;[365] fair
kembed, that with a sponge daintily dipped in a little capon's grease was
finely smoothen, to make it shine like a mallard's wing. His beard smugly
shaven; and yet his shirt after the new trick, with ruffs fair starched,
sleeked and glistering like a paire of new shoes, marshalled in good order
with a setting stick and strut, that every ruff stood up like a wafer. A
side (_i.e._ long) gown of Kendal Green, after the freshness of the year
now, gathered at the neck with a narrow gorget, fastened afore with white
clasp and keeper close up to the chin; but easily, for heat to undo when
he list. Seemly begirt in a red caddis girdle: from that a pair of capped
Sheffield knives hanging a' two sides. Out of his bosom drawn forth a
lappel of his napkin (_i.e._ handkerchief) edged with a blue lace, and
marked with a true love, a heart, and a D. for Damian, for he was but a
batchelor yet. His gown had side (_i.e._ long) sleeves down to midleg,
slit from the shoulder to the hand, and lined with white cotton. His
doublet sleeves of black worsted: upon them a pair of paynets (perhaps
points) of tawny chamlet laced along the wrist with blue threaden points,
a weall towards the hand of fustian-a-napes. A pair of red neather socks.
A pair of pumps on his feet, with a cross cut at the toes for corns: not
new, indeed, yet cleanly blackt with soot, and shining as a shoeing horn.
About his neck a red ribband suitable to his girdle. His harp in good
grace dependant before him. His wrest tyed to a green lace, and hanging
by; under the gorget of his gown a fair flaggon chain (pewter for)
silver, as a squire-minstrel[366] of Middlesex that travelled the country
this summer season, unto fairs and worshipful men's houses. From this
chain hung a scutcheon, with metal and colour resplendant upon his breast,
of the ancient arms of Islington," to which place he is represented as

From these authorities Percy would deduce that the minstrels were tonsured
and apparelled very much after the same fashion as priests. The pictorial
authorities do not bear out any such conclusion. There are abundant
authorities for the belief that the dress of the minstrels was remarkable
for a very unclerical sumptuousness; but in looking through the numerous
ancient representations of minstrels we find no trace of the tonsure, and
no peculiarity of dress; they are represented in the ordinary costume of
their time; in colours blue, red, grey, particoloured, like other
civilians; with hoods, or hats, or without either; frequently the
different members of the same band of minstrels present all these
differences of costume, as in the instance here given, from the
title-page of the fourteenth century MS. Add., 10,293; proving that the
minstrels did not affect any uniformity of costume whatever.

[Illustration: _A Band of Minstrels._]

The household minstrels probably wore their master's badge[367] (liveries
were not usual until a late period); others the badge of their guild. Thus
in the Morte Arthur, Sir Dinadan makes a reproachful lay against King
Arthur, and teaches it an harper, that hight Elyot, and sends him to sing
it before King Mark and his nobles at a great feast. The king asked, "Thou
harper, how durst thou be so bold to sing this song before me?" "Sir,"
said Elyot, "wit you well I am a minstrell, and I must doe as I am
commanded of these lords that _I bear the armes of_;" and in proof of the
privileged character of the minstrel we find the outraged king replying,
"Thou saiest well, I charge thee that thou hie thee fast out of my sight."
So the squire-minstrel of Middlesex, who belonged to Islington, had a
chain round his neck, with a scutcheon upon it, upon which were blazoned
the arms of Islington. And in the effigies of the Beverley minstrels,
which we have given on page 298, we find that their costume is the
ordinary costume of the period, and is not alike in all; but that each of
them has a chain round his neck, to which is suspended what is probably a
scutcheon, like that of the Islington minstrel. In short, a careful
examination of a number of illustrations in illuminated MSS. of various
dates, from Saxon downwards, leaves the impression that minstrels wore the
ordinary costume of their period, more or less rich in material, or
fashionable in cut, according to their means and taste; and that the only
distinctive mark of their profession was the instrument which each bore,
or, as in the case of the Kenilworth minstrel, the tuning wrest hung by a
riband to his girdle; and in the case of a household minstrel the badge of
the lord whom he served.

[Illustration: _Cymbals and Trumpets._]

[Illustration: _Regals and Double Pipe_ (Royal 2 B vii).]

[Illustration: _Regals or Organ_ (Royal, 14 E iii).]

The forms of the most usual musical instruments of various periods may be
gathered from the illustrations which have already been given. The most
common are the harp, fiddle, cittern or lute, hand-organ, the shalm or
psaltery, the pipe and tabor, pipes of various sizes played like
clarionets, but called flutes, the double pipe, hand-bells, trumpets and
horns, bagpipes, tambourine, tabret, drum, and cymbals. Of the greater
number of these we have already incidentally given illustrations; we add,
on the last page, other illustrations, from the Royal MS., 2 B vii., and
Royal MS. 14 E iii. In the fourteenth century new instruments were
invented. Guillaume de Marhault in his poem of "Le Temps Pastour," gives
us an idea of the multitude of instruments which composed a grand concert
of the fifteenth century; he says[368]--

  "Là je vis tout en un cerne
   Viole, rubebe, guiterne,
   L'enmorache, le micamon,
   Citole et Psalterion,
   Harpes, tabours, trompes, nacaires,
   Orgues, cornes plus de dix paires,
   Cornemuse, flajos et chevrettes
   Douceines, simbales, clochettes,
   Tymbre, la flauste lorehaigne,
   Et le grand cornet d'Allemayne,
   Flacos de sans, fistule, pipe,
   Muse d'Aussay, trompe petite,
   Buisine, eles, monochorde,
   Ou il n'y a qu'une corde;
   Et muse de blet tout ensemble.
   Et certainment il me semble
   Qu' oncques mais tèle mélodie
   Ne feust oncques vene ne oye;
   Car chascun d'eux, selon l'accort
   De son instrument sans descort,
   Vitole, guiterne, citole,
   Harpe, trompe, corne, flajole,
   Pipe, souffle, muse, naquaire,
   Taboure et qu cunque ou put faire
   De dois, de peune et à l'archet,
   Ois et vis en ce porchet."

In conclusion we give a group of musical instruments from one of the
illustrations of "Der Weise König," a work of the close of the fifteenth

[Illustration: _Musical Instruments of the 15th Century._]




We proceed, in this division of our work, to select out of the
inexhaustible series of pictures of mediæval life and manners contained in
illuminated MSS., a gallery of subjects which will illustrate the armour
and costume, the military life and chivalric adventures, of the Knights of
the Middle Ages; and to append to the pictures such explanations as they
may seem to need, and such discursive remarks as the subjects may suggest.

For the military costume of the Anglo-Saxon period we have the authority
of the descriptions in their literature, illustrated by drawings in their
illuminated MSS.; and if these leave anything wanting in definiteness, the
minutest details of form and ornamentation may often be recovered from the
rusted and broken relics of armour and weapons which have been recovered
from their graves, and are now preserved in our museums.

Saxon freemen seem to have universally borne arms. Tacitus tells us of
their German ancestors, that swords were rare among them, and the majority
did not use lances, but that spears, with a narrow, sharp and short head,
were the common and universal weapon, used either in distant or close
fight; and that even the cavalry were satisfied with a shield and one of
these spears.

The law in later times seems to have required freemen to bear arms for
the common defence; the laws of Gula, which are said to have been
originally established by Hacon the Good in the middle of the eighth
century, required every man who possessed six marks besides his clothes to
furnish himself with a red shield and a spear, an axe or a sword; he who
was worth twelve marks was to have a steel cap also; and he who was worth
eighteen marks a byrnie, or shirt of mail, in addition. Accordingly, in
the exploration of Saxon graves we find in those of men "spears and
javelins are extremely numerous," says Mr. C. Roach Smith, "and of a
variety of shapes and sizes."... "So constantly do we find them in the
Saxon graves, that it would appear no man above the condition of a serf
was buried without one. Some are of large size, but the majority come
under the term of javelin or dart." The rusty spear-head lies beside the
skull, and the iron boss of the shield on his breast; the long, broad,
heavy, rusted sword is comparatively seldom found beside the skeleton;
sometimes, but rarely, the iron frame of a skull-cap or helmet is found
about the head.

[Illustration: _Saxon Soldiers._]

An examination of the pictures in the Saxon illuminated MSS. confirms the
conclusion that the shield and spear were the common weapons. Their
bearers are generally in the usual civil costume, and not infrequently are
bare-headed. The spear-shaft is almost always spoken of as being of
ash-wood; indeed, the word _æsc_ (ash) is used by metonymy for a spear;
and the common poetic name for a soldier is _æsc-berend_, or _æsc-born_, a
spear-bearer; just as, in later times, we speak of him as a swordsman.

We learn from the poets that the shield--"the broad war disk"--was made of
linden-wood, as in Beowulf:--

  "He could not then refrain,
   but grasped his shield
   the yellow linden,
   drew his ancient sword."

From the actual remains of shields, we find that the central boss was of
iron, of conical shape, and that a handle was fixed across its concavity
by which it was held in the hand.

The helmet is of various shapes; the commonest are the three represented
in our first four wood-cuts. The most common is the conical shape seen in
the large wood-cut on p. 316.

[Illustration: _Saxon Horse Soldiers._]

The Phrygian-shaped helmet, seen in the single figure on p. 314 is also a
very common form; and the curious crested helmet worn by all the warriors
in our first two wood-cuts of Saxon soldiers is also common. In some cases
the conical helmet was of iron, but perhaps more frequently it was of
leather, strengthened with a frame of iron.

In the group of four foot soldiers in our first wood-cut, it will be
observed that the men wear tunics, hose, and shoes; the multiplicity of
folds and fluttering ends in the drapery is a characteristic of Saxon art,
but the spirit and elegance of the heads is very unusual and very

Our first three illustrations are taken from a beautiful little MS. of
Prudentius in the Cottonian Library, known under the press mark, Cleopatra
C. IV. The illuminations in this MS. are very clearly and skilfully drawn
with the pen; indeed, many of them are designed with so much spirit and
skill and grace, as to make them not only of antiquarian interest, but
also of high artistic merit. The subjects are chiefly illustrations of
Scripture history or of allegorical fable; but, thanks to the custom which
prevailed throughout the Middle Ages of representing all such subjects in
contemporary costume, and according to contemporary manners and customs,
the Jewish patriarchs and their servants afford us perfectly correct
representations of Saxon thanes and their _cheorls_; Goliath, a perfect
picture of a Saxon warrior, armed _cap-à-pied_; and Pharaoh and his nobles
of a Saxon Basileus and his witan. Thus, our second wood-cut is an
illustration of the incident of Lot and his family being carried away
captives by the Canaanitish kings after their successful raid against the
cities of the plain; but it puts before our eyes a group of the armed
retainers of a Saxon king on a military expedition. It will be seen that
they wear the ordinary Saxon civil costume, a tunic and cloak; that they
are all armed with the spear, all wear crested helmets; and the last of
the group carries a round shield suspended at his back. The variety of
attitude, the spirit and life of the figures, and the skill and
gracefulness of the drawing, are admirable.

Another very valuable series of illustrations of Saxon military costume
will be found in a MS. of Ælfric's Paraphrase of the Pentateuch and
Joshua, in the British Museum (Cleopatra B. IV.); at folio 25, for
example, we have a representation of Abraham pursuing the five kings in
order to rescue Lot: in the version of the Saxon artist the patriarch and
his Arab servants are translated into a Saxon thane and his house carles,
who are represented marching in a long array which takes up two bands of
drawing across the vellum page.

[Illustration: _Saxon Soldier, in Leather Armour._]

The Anglo-Saxon poets let us know that chieftains and warriors wore a body
defence, which they call a byrnie or a battle-sark. In the illuminations
we find this sometimes of leather, as in the wood-cut here given from the
Prudentius which has already supplied us with two illustrations. It is
very usually Vandyked at the edges, as here represented. But the
epithets, "iron byrnie," and "ringed byrnie," and "twisted battle-sark,"
show that the hauberk was often made of iron mail. In some of the
illuminations it is represented as if detached rings of iron were sewn
flat upon it: this may be really a representation of a kind of jazerant
work, such as was frequently used in later times, or it may be only an
unskilful way of representing the ordinary linked mail.

A document of the early part of the eighth century, given in Mr. Thorpe's
Anglo-Saxon Laws, seems to indicate that at that period the mail hauberk
was usually worn only by the higher ranks. In distinguishing between the
eorl and the cheorl it says, if the latter thrive so well that he have a
helmet and byrnie and sword ornamented with gold, yet if he have not five
hydes of land, he is only a cheorl. By the time of the end of the Saxon
era, however, it would seem that the men-at-arms were usually furnished
with a coat of fence, for the warriors in the battle of Hastings are
nearly all so represented in the Bayeux tapestry.

In Ælfric's Paraphrase, already mentioned (Cleopatra B. IV.), at folio 64,
there is a representation of a king clothed in such a mail shirt, armed
with sword and shield, attended by an armour-bearer, who carries a second
shield but no offensive weapon, his business being to ward off the blows
aimed at his lord. We should have given a wood-cut of this interesting
group, but that it has already been engraved in the "Pictorial History of
England" (vol. i.) and in Hewitt's "Ancient Armour" (vol. i. p. 60). This
king with his shield-bearer does not occur in an illustration of Goliath
and the man bearing a shield who went before him, nor of Saul and his
armour-bearer, where it would be suggested by the text; but is one of the
three kings engaged in battle against the cities of the plain; it seems
therefore to indicate a Saxon usage. Another of the kings in the same
picture has no hauberk, but only the same costume as the warrior in the
wood-cut on the next page.

In the Additional MS. 11,695, in the British Museum, a work of the
eleventh century, there are several representations of warriors thus fully
armed, very rude and coarse in drawing, but valuable for the clearness
with which they represent the military equipment of the time. At folio 194
there is a large figure of a warrior in a mail shirt, a conical helmet,
strengthened with iron ribs converging to the apex, the front rib
extending downwards, into what is called a nasal, _i.e._, a piece of iron
extending downwards over the nose, so as to protect the face from a
sword-cut across the upper part of it. At folio 233 of the same MS. is a
group of six warriors, two on horseback and four on foot. We find them all
with hauberk, iron helmets, round shields, and various kinds of leg
defences; they have spears, swords, and one of the horsemen bears a banner
of characteristic shape, _i.e._, it is a right-angled triangle, with the
shortest side applied to the spear-shaft, so that the right angle is at
the bottom.

[Illustration: No. 4.]

A few extracts from the poem of Beowulf, a curious Saxon fragment, which
the best scholars concur in assigning to the end of the eighth century,
will help still further to bring these ancient warriors before our mind's

Here is a scene in King Hrothgar's hall:

  "After evening came
   and Hrothgar had departed
   to his court,
   guarded the mansion
   countless warriors,
   as they oft ere had done,
   they bared the bench-floor
   it was overspread
   with beds and bolsters,
   they set at their heads
   their disks of war,
   their shield-wood bright;
   there on the bench was
   over the noble,
   easy to be seen,
   his high martial helm,
   his ringed byrnie
   and war-wood stout."

Beowulf's funeral pole is said to be--

  "with helmets, war brands,
   and bright byrnies behung."

And in this oldest of Scandinavian romances we have the natural

  "the hard helm shall
   adorned with gold
   from the fated fall;
   mortally wounded sleep
   those who war to rage
   by trumpet should announce;
   in like manner the war shirt
   which in battle stood
   over the crash of shields
   the bite of swords
   shall moulder after the warrior;
   the byrnie's ring may not
   after the martial leader
   go far on the side of heroes;
   there is no joy of harp
   no glee-wood's mirth,
   no good hawk
   swings through the hall,
   nor the swift steed
   tramps the city place.
   Baleful death
   has many living kinds
   sent forth."

Reflections which Coleridge summed up in the brief lines--

  "Their swords are rust,
   Their bones are dust,
   Their souls are with the saints, we trust."

The wood-cut on page 316 is taken from a collection of various Saxon
pictures in the British Museum, bound together in the volume marked
Tiberius C. VI., at folio 9. Our wood-cut is a reduced copy. In the
original the warrior is seven or eight inches high, and there is,
therefore, ample room for the delineation of every part of his costume.
From the embroidery of the tunic, and the ornamentation of the shield and
helmet, we conclude that we have before us a person of consideration, and
he is represented as in the act of combat; but we see his armour and arms
are only those to which we have already affirmed that the usual equipment
was limited. The helmet seems to be strengthened with an iron rim and
converging ribs, and is furnished with a short nasal.

The figure is without the usual cloak, and therefore the better shows the
fashion of the tunic. The banding of the legs was not for defence, it is
common in civil costume. The quasi-banding of the forearm is also
sometimes found in civil costume; it seems not to be an actual banding,
still less a spiral armlet, but merely a fashion of wearing the tunic
sleeve. We see how the sword is, rather inartificially, slung by a belt
over the shoulder; how the shield is held by the iron handle across its
hollow spiked umbo; and how the barbed javelin is cast.

On the preceding page of this MS. is a similar figure, but without the

There were some other weapons frequently used by the Saxons which we have
not yet had occasion to mention. The most important of these is the axe.
It is not often represented in illuminations, and is very rarely found in
graves, but it certainly was extensively in use in the latter part of the
Anglo-Saxon period, and was perhaps introduced by the Danes. The house
carles of Canute, we are expressly told, were armed with axes, halberds,
and swords, ornamented with gold. In the ship which Godwin presented to
Hardicanute, William of Malmesbury tells us the soldiers wore two
bracelets of gold on each arm, each bracelet weighing sixteen ounces; they
had gilt helmets; in the right hand they carried a spear of iron, and in
the left a Danish axe, and they wore swords hilted with gold. The axe was
also in common use by the Saxons at the battle of Hastings. There are
pictorial examples of the single axe in the Cottonian MS., Cleopatra C.
VIII.; of the double axe--the bipennis--in the Harleian MS., 603; and of
various forms of the weapon, including the pole-axe, in the Bayeux

The knife or dagger was also a Saxon weapon. There is a picture in the
Anglo-Saxon MS. in the Paris Library, called the Duke de Berri's Psalter,
in which a combatant is armed with what appears to be a large double-edged
knife and a shield, and actual examples of it occur in Saxon graves. The
_seax_, which is popularly believed to have been a dagger and a
characteristic Saxon weapon, seems to have been a short single-edged
slightly curved weapon, and is rarely found in England. It is mentioned in

  "drew his deadly seax,
   bitter and battle sharp,
   that he on his byrnie bore."

The sword was usually about three feet long, two-edged and heavy in the
blade. Sometimes, especially in earlier examples, it is without a guard.
Its hilt was sometimes of the ivory of the walrus, occasionally of gold,
the blade was sometimes inlaid with gold ornaments and runic verses. Thus
in Beowulf--

  "So was on the surface
   of the bright gold
   with runic letters
   rightly marked,
   set and said, for whom that sword,
   costliest of irons,
   was first made,
   with twisted hilt and
   serpent shaped."

The Saxons indulged in many romantic fancies about their swords. Some
swordsmiths chanted magical verses as they welded them, and tempered them
with mystical ingredients. Beowulf's sword was a--

              "tempered falchion
  that had before been one
  of the old treasures;
  its edge was iron
  tainted with poisonous things
  hardened with warrior blood;
  never had it deceived any man
  of those who brandished it with hands."

Favourite swords had names given them, and were handed down from father to
son, or passed from champion to champion, and became famous. Thus, again,
in Beowulf, we read--

  "He could not then refrain,
   but grasped his shield,
   the yellow linden,
   drew his ancient sword
   that among men was
   a relic of Eanmund,
   Ohthere's son,
   of whom in conflict was,
   when a friendless exile,
   Weohstan the slayer
   with falchions edges,
   and from his kinsmen bore away
   the brown-hued helm,
   the ringed byrnie,
   the old Eotenish[369] sword
   which him Onela had given."

There is a fine and very perfect example of a Saxon sword in the British
Museum, which was found in the bed of the river Witham, at Lincoln. The
sheath was usually of wood, covered with leather, and tipped, and
sometimes otherwise ornamented with metal.

The spear was used javelin-wise, and the warrior going into battle
sometimes carried several of them. They are long-bladed, often barbed, as
represented in the woodcut on p. 316, and very generally have one or two
little cross-bars below the head, as in cuts on pp. 313 and 314. The Saxon
artillery, besides the javelin, was the bow and arrows. The bow is usually
a small one, of the old classical shape, not the long bow for which the
English yeomen afterwards became so famous, and which seems to have been
introduced by the Normans.

In the latest period of the Saxon monarchy, the armour and weapons were
almost identical with those used on the Continent. We have abundant
illustrations of them in the Bayeux tapestry. In that invaluable
historical monument, the minutest differences between the Saxon and Norman
knights and men-at-arms seem to be carefully observed, even to the
national fashions of cutting the hair; and we are therefore justified in
assuming that there were no material differences in the military
equipment, since we find none indicated, except that the Normans used the
long bow and the Saxons did not. We have abstained from taking any
illustrations from the tapestry, because the whole series has been several
times engraved, and is well known, or, at least, is easily accessible, to
those who are interested in the subject. We have preferred to take an
illustration from a MS. in the British Museum, marked Harleian 2,895, from
folio 82 v. The warrior, who is no less a person than Goliath of Gath, has
a hooded hauberk, with sleeves down to the elbow, over a green tunic. The
legs are tinted blue in the drawing, but seem to be unarmed, except for
the green boots, which reach half way to the knee. He wears an iron helmet
with a nasal, and the hood appears to be fastened to the nasal, so as to
protect the lower part of the face. The large shield is red, with a yellow
border, and is hung from the neck by a chain. The belt round his waist is
red. The well-armed giant leans upon his spear, looking down
contemptuously on David, whom it has not been thought necessary to include
in our copy of the picture. The group forms a very appropriate filling-in
of the great initial letter B of the Psalm _Benedictus Dns. Ds. Ms. qui
docet manus meas ad prælium et digitos meos ad bellum_ (Blessed be the
Lord my God, who teacheth my hands to war and my fingers to fight). In the
same MS., at folio 70, there are two men armed with helmet and sword, and
at folio 81 v. a group of armed men on horseback, in sword, shield, and

It may be convenient to some of our readers, if we indicate here where a
few other examples of Saxon military costume may be found which we have
noted down, but have not had occasion to refer to in the above remarks.


In the MS. of Prudentius (Cleopatra C. VIII.), from which we have taken
our first three woodcuts, are many other pictures well worth study. On the
same page (folio 1 v.) as that which contains our wood-cut p. 312, there
is another very similar group on the lower part of the page; on folio 2 is
still another group, in which some of the faces are most charming in
drawing and expression. At folio 15 v. there is a spirited combat of two
footmen, armed with sword and round shield, and clad in short leather
coats of fence, vandyked at the edges. At folio 24 v. is an allegorical
female figure in a short leather tunic, with shading on it which seems to
indicate that the hair of the leather has been left on, and is worn
outside, which we know from other sources was one of the fashions of the
time. In the MS. of Ælfric's Paraphrase (Claud. B. iv.) already quoted,
there are, besides the battle scene at folio 24 v., in which occurs the
king and his armour-bearer, at folio 25 two long lines of Saxon horsemen
marching across the page, behind Abraham, who wears a crested Phrygian
helm. On the reverse of folio 25 there is another group, and also on
folios 62 and 64. On folio 52 is another troop, of Esau's horsemen,
marching across the page in ranks of four abreast, all bareheaded and
armed with spears. At folio 96 v. is another example of a warrior, with a
shield-bearer. The pictures in the latter part of this MS. are not nearly
so clearly delineated as in the former part, owing to their having been
tinted with colour; the colour, however, enables us still more completely
to fill in to the mind's eye the distinct forms which we have gathered
from the former part of the book. The large troops of soldiers are
valuable, as showing us the style of equipment which was common in the
Saxon militia.

There is another MS. of Prudentius in the British Museum of about the same
date, and of the same school of art, though not quite so finely executed,
which is well worth the study of the artist in search of authorities for
Saxon military (and other) costume, and full of interest for the amateur
of art and archæology. Its press mark is Cottonian, Titus D. XVI. On the
reverse of folio 2 is a group of three armed horsemen, representing the
confederate kings of Canaan carrying off Lot, while Abraham, at the head
of another group of armed men, is pursuing them. On folio 3 is another
group of armed horsemen. After these Scripture histories come some
allegorical subjects, conceived and drawn with great spirit. At folio 6
v., "_Pudicitia pugnat contra Libidinem_," Pudicitia being a woman armed
with hauberk, helmet, spear, and shield. On the opposite page
Pudicitia--in a very spirited attitude--is driving her spear through the
throat of Libido. On folio 26 v., "_Discordia vulnerat occulte
Concordium_." Concord is represented as a woman armed with a loose-sleeved
hauberk, helmet, and sword. Discord is lifting up the skirt of Concord's
hauberk, and thrusting a sword into her side. In the Harleian MS. 2,803,
is a Vulgate Bible, of date about 1170 A.D.; there are no pictures, only
the initial letters of the various books are illuminated. But while the
illuminator was engaged upon the initial of the Second Book of Kings, his
eye seems to have been caught by the story of Saul's death in the last
chapter of the First Book, which happens to come close by in the parallel
column of the great folio page:--_Arripuit itaqu, gladium et erruit sup.
eum_ (Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it); and he has sketched
in the scene with pen-and-ink on the margin of the page, thus affording us
another authority for the armour of a Saxon king when actually engaged in
battle. He wears a hauberk, with an ornamented border, has his crown on
his head, and spurs on his heels; has placed his sword-hilt on the ground,
and fallen upon it.

In the Additional MS. 11,695, on folio 102 v., are four armed men on
horseback, habited in hauberks without hoods. Two of them have the sleeves
extending to the wrist, two have loose sleeves to the elbow only, showing
that the two fashions were worn contemporaneously. They all have mail
hose; one of them is armed with a bow, the rest with the sword. There are
four men in similar armour on folio 136 v. of the same MS. Also at folio
143, armed with spear, sword, and round ornamented shield. At folio 222 v.
are soldiers manning a gate-tower.

When the soldiers so very generally wore the ordinary citizen costume, it
becomes necessary, in order to give a complete picture of the military
costume, to say a few words on the dress which the soldier wore in common
with the citizen. The tunic and mantle composed the national costume of
the Saxons. The tunic reached about to the knee: sometimes it was slit up
a little way at the sides, and it often had a rich ornamented border round
the hem, extending round the side slits, making the garment almost exactly
resemble the ecclesiastical tunic or Dalmatic. It had also very generally
a narrower ornamental border round the opening for the neck. The tunic was
sometimes girded round the waist.

The Saxons were famous for their skill in embroidery, and also in
metal-work; and there are sufficient proofs that the tunic was often
richly embroidered. There are indications of it in the wood-cut on p. 316;
and in the relics of costume found in the Saxon graves are often buckles
of elegant workmanship, which fastened the belt with which the tunic was

The mantle was in the form of a short cloak, and was usually fastened at
the shoulder, as in the wood-cuts on pp. 312, 313, 314, so as to leave the
right arm unencumbered by its folds. The brooch with which this cloak was
fastened formed a very conspicuous item of costume. They were of large
size, some of them of bronze gilt, others of gold, beautifully ornamented
with enamels; and there is this interesting fact about them, they seem to
corroborate the old story, that the Saxon invaders were of three different
tribes--the Jutes, Angles, and Saxons--who subdued and inhabited different
portions of Britain. For in Kent and the Isle of Wight, the settlements
of the Jutes, brooches are found of circular form, often of gold and
enamelled. In the counties of Yorkshire, Derby, Leicester, Nottingham,
Northampton, and in the eastern counties, a large gilt bronze brooch of
peculiar form is very commonly found, and seems to denote a peculiar
fashion of the Angles, who inhabited East Anglia, Mercia, and Northumbria.
Still another variety of fashion, shaped like a saucer, has been
discovered in the counties of Gloucester, Oxford, and Buckingham, on the
border between the Mercians and West Saxons. It is curious to find these
peculiar fashions thus confirming the ancient and obscure tradition about
the original Saxon settlements. The artist will bear in mind that the
Saxons seem generally to have settled in the open country, not in the
towns, and to have built timber halls and cottages after their own custom,
and to have avoided the sites of the Romano-British villas, whose
blackened ruins must have thickly dotted at least the southern and
south-eastern parts of the island. They appear to have built no
fortresses, if we except a few erected at a late period, to check the
incursions of the Danes. But they had the old Roman towns left, in many
cases with their walls and gates tolerably entire. In the Saxon MS.
Psalter, Harleian 603, are several illuminations in which walled towns and
gates are represented. But we do not gather that they were very skilful
either in the attack or defence of fortified places. Indeed, their weapons
and armour were of a very primitive kind, and their warfare seems to have
been conducted after a very unscientific fashion. Little chance had their
rude Saxon hardihood against the military genius of William the Norman and
the disciplined valour of his bands of mercenaries.



The Conquest and subsequent confiscations put the land of England so
entirely into the hands of William the Conqueror, that he was able to
introduce the feudal system into England in a more simple and symmetrical
shape than that in which it obtained in any other country of Europe. The
system was a very intelligible one. The king was supposed to be the lord
of all the land of the kingdom. He retained large estates in his own
hands, and from these estates chiefly he derived his personal followers
and his royal revenues. The rest of the land he let in large lordships to
his principal nobles, on condition that they should maintain for the
defence of the kingdom a certain number of men armed after a stipulated
fashion, and should besides aid him on certain occasions with money
payments, with which we have at present no concern.

These chief tenants of the crown followed the example of the sovereign.
Each retained a portion of the land in his own hands, and sub-let the rest
in estates of larger or smaller size, on condition that each noble or
knight who held of him should supply a proportion of the armed force he
was required to furnish to the royal standard, and contribute a proportion
of the money payments for which he was liable to be called upon. Each
knight let the farms on his manor to his copyholders, on condition that
they provided themselves with the requisite arms, and assembled under his
banner when called upon for military suit and service; and they rendered
certain personal services, and made certain payments in money or in kind
besides, in lieu of rent. Each manor, therefore, furnished its troop of
soldiers; the small farmers, perhaps, and the knight's personal retainers
fighting on foot, clad in leather jerkins, and armed with pike or bow;
two or three of his greater copyholders in skull caps and coats of
fence; his younger brothers or grown-up sons acting as men-at-arms
and esquires, on horseback, in armour almost or quite as complete as
his own; while the knight himself, on his war horse, armed from top to
toe--_cap-à-pied_--with shield on arm and lance in hand, with its knight's
pennon fluttering from the point, was the captain of the little troop. The
troops thus furnished by his several manors made up the force which the
feudal lord was bound to furnish the king, and the united divisions made
up the army of the kingdom.

Besides this feudal army bound to render suit and service at the call of
its sovereign, the laws of the kingdom also required all men of fit
age--between sixteen and sixty--to keep themselves furnished with arms,
and made them liable to be called out _en masse_ in great emergencies.
This was the _Posse Comitatus_, the force of the county, and was under the
command of the sheriff. We learn some particulars on the subject from an
assize of arms of Henry II., made in 1181, which required all his subjects
being free men to be ready in defence of the realm. Whosoever holds one
knight's fee, shall have a hauberk, helmet, shield and lance, and every
knight as many such equipments as he has knight's fees in his domain.
Every free layman having ten marks in chattels shall have a habergeon,
iron cap, and lance. All burgesses and the whole community of freemen
shall have each a coat of fence (padded and quilted, a _wambeys_), iron
cap, and lance. Any one having more arms than those required by the
statute, was to sell or otherwise dispose of them, so that they might be
utilised for the king's service, and no one was to carry arms out of the

There were two great points of difference between the feudal system as
introduced into England and as established on the Continent. William made
all landowners owe fealty to himself, and not only the tenants _in
capite_. And next, though he gave his chief nobles immense possessions,
these possessions were scattered about in different parts of the kingdom.
The great provinces which had once been separate kingdoms of the Saxon
heptarchy, still retained, down to the time of the Confessor, much of
their old political feeling. Kentish men, for example, looked on one
another as brothers, but Essex men, or East Anglians, or Mercians, or
Northumbrians, were foreigners to them. If the Conqueror had committed the
blunder of giving his great nobles all their possessions together, Rufus
might have found the earls of Mercia or Northumbria semi-independent, as
the kings of France found their great vassals of Burgundy, and Champagne,
and Normandy, and Bretagne. But, by the actual arrangement, every county
was divided; one powerful noble had a lordship here, and another had
half-a-dozen manors there, and some religious community had one or two
manors between. The result was, that though a combination of great barons
was powerful enough to coerce John or Henry III., or a single baron like
Warwick was powerful enough, when the nobility were divided into two
factions, to turn the scale to one side or the other, no one was ever able
to set the power of the crown at defiance, or to establish a
semi-independence; the crown was always powerful enough to enforce a
sufficiently arbitrary authority over them all. The consequence was that
there was little of the clannish spirit among Englishmen. They rallied
round their feudal superior, but the sentiment of loyalty was warmly and
directly towards the crown.

We must not, however, pursue the general subject further than we have
done, in order to obtain some apprehension of the position in the body
politic occupied by the class of persons with whom we are specially
concerned. Of their social position we may perhaps briefly arrive at a
correct estimate, if we call to mind that nearly all our rural parishes
are divided into several manors, which date from the Middle Ages, some
more, some less remotely; for as population increased and land increased
in value, there was a tendency to the subdivision of old manors and the
creation of new ones out of them. Each of these manors, in the times to
which our researches are directed, maintained a family of gentle birth and
knightly rank. The head of the family was usually a knight, and his sons
were eligible for, and some of them aspirants to, the same rank in
chivalry. So that the great body of the knightly order consisted of the
country gentlemen--the country _squires_ we call them now, then they were
the country _knights_--whose wealth and social importance gave them a
claim to the rank; and to these we must add such of their younger
brothers and grown-up sons as had ambitiously sought for and happily
achieved the chivalric distinction by deeds of arms. The rest of the
brothers and sons who had not entered the service of the Church as priest
or canon, monk or friar, or into trade, continued in the lower chivalric
and social rank of squires.

When we come to look for authorities for the costume and manners of the
knights of the Middle Ages, we find a great scarcity of them for the
period between the Norman Conquest and the beginning of the Edwardian era.
The literary authorities are not many; there are as yet few of the
illuminated MSS., from which we derive such abundant material in the
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries;[370] the sepulchral monuments are not
numerous; the valuable series of monumental brasses has not begun; the
Bayeux tapestry, which affords abundant material for the special time to
which it relates, we have abstained from drawing upon; and there are few
subjects in any other class of pictorial art to help us out.

The figure of Goliath, which we gave in our last chapter (p. 322), will
serve very well for a general representation of a knight of the twelfth
century. In truth, from the Norman Conquest down to the introduction of
plate armour at the close of the thirteenth century, there was wonderfully
little alteration in the knightly armour and costume. It would seem that
the body armour consisted of garments of the ordinary fashion, either
quilted in their substance to deaden the force of a blow, or covered with
_mailles_ (rings) on the exterior, to resist the edge of sword or point of
lance. The ingenuity of the armourer showed itself in various ways of
quilting, and various methods of applying the external defence of metal.
Of the quilted armours we know very little. In the illuminations is often
seen armour covered over with lines arranged in a lozenge pattern, which
perhaps represents garments stuffed and sewn in this commonest of all
patterns of quilting; but it has been suggested that it may represent
lozenged-shaped scales, of horn or metal, fastened upon the face of the
garments. In the wood-cut here given from the MS. Caligula A. vii., we
have one of the clearest and best extant illustrations of this quilted

In the mail armour there seem to have been different ways of applying the
_mailles_. Sometimes it is represented as if the rings were sewn by one
edge only, and at such a distance that each overlapped the other in the
same row, but the rows do not overlap one another. Sometimes they look as
if each row of rings had been sewn upon a strip of linen or leather and
then the strips applied to the garment. Sometimes the rings were
interlinked, as in a common steel purse, so that the garment was entirely
of steel rings. Very frequently we find a surcoat or chausses represented,
as if rings or little discs of metal were sewn flat all over the garment.
It is possible that this is only an artistic way of indicating that the
garment was covered with rings, after one of the methods above described;
but it is also possible that a light armour was composed of rings thus
sparely sewn upon a linen or leather garment. It is possible also that
little round plates of metal or horn were used in this way for defence,
for we have next to mention that _scale_ armour is sometimes, though
rarely, found; it consisted of small scales, usually rectangular, and
probably usually of horn, though sometimes of metal, attached to a linen
or leather garment.

[Illustration: _Quilted Armour._]

The shield and helmet varied somewhat in shape at various times. The
shield in the Bayeux tapestry was kite-shaped, concave, and tolerably
large, like that of Goliath on p. 322. The tendency of its fashion was
continually to grow shorter in proportion to its width, and flatter. The
round Saxon target continued in use throughout the Middle Ages, more
especially for foot-soldiers.

The helmet, at the beginning of the period, was like the old Saxon conical
helmet, with a nasal; and this continued in occasional use far into the
fourteenth century. About the end of the twelfth century, the cylindrical
helmet of iron enclosing the whole head, with horizontal slits for vision,
came into fashion. Richard I. is represented in one on his second great
seal. A still later fashion is seen in the next woodcut, p. 334. William
Longespée, A.D. 1227, has a flat-topped helmet.

The only two inventions of the time seem to be, first, the surcoat, which
began to be worn over the hauberk about the end of the twelfth century.
The seal of King John is the first of the series of great seals in which
we see it introduced. It seems to have been of linen or silk.

The other great invention of this period was that of armorial bearings,
properly so called. Devices painted upon the shield were common in
classical times. They are found ordinarily on the shields in the Bayeux
tapestry, and were habitually used by the Norman knights. In the Bayeux
tapestry they seem to be fanciful or merely decorative; later they were
symbolical or significant. But it was only towards the close of the
twelfth century that each knight assumed a fixed device, which was
exclusively appropriated to him, by which he was known, and which became
hereditary in his family.

The offensive weapons used by the knights were most commonly the sword and
spear. The axe and mace are found, but rarely. The artillery consisted of
the crossbow, which was the most formidable missile in use, and the long
bow, which, however, was not yet the great arm of the English yeomanry
which it became at a later period; but these were hardly the weapons of
knights and gentlemen, though men-at-arms were frequently armed with the
crossbow, and archers were occasionally mounted. The sling was sometimes
used, as were other very rude weapons, by the half-armed crowd who were
often included in the ranks of mediæval armies.

We have said that there is a great scarcity of pictorial representations
of the military costume of the thirteenth century, and of the few which
exist the majority are so vague in their definition of details, that they
add nothing to our knowledge of costume, and have so little of dramatic
character, as to throw no light on manners and customs. Among the best
are some knightly figures in the Harleian Roll, folio 6, which contains a
life of St. Guthlac of about the end of the twelfth century. The figures
are armed in short-sleeved and hooded hauberk; flat-topped iron helmet,
some with, some without, the nasal; heater-shaped shield and spear; the
legs undefended, except by boots like those of the Goliath on p. 322.

The Harleian MS. 4,751, a MS. of the beginning of the thirteenth century,
shows at folio 8 a group of soldiers attacking a fortification; it
contains hints enough to make one earnestly desire that the subject had
been more fully and artistically worked out. The fortification is
represented by a timber projection carried on brackets from the face of
the wall. Its garrison is represented by a single knight, whose
demi-figure only is seen; he is represented in a short-sleeved hauberk,
with a surcoat over it having a cross on the breast. He wears a
flat-topped cylindrical helmet, and is armed with a crossbow. The
assailants would seem to be a rabble of half-armed men; one is bareheaded,
and armed only with a sling; others have round hats, whether of felt or
iron does not appear; one is armed in a hooded hauberk and carries an axe,
and a cylindrical helmet also appears amidst the crowd.

In the Harleian MS. 5,102, of the beginning of the thirteenth century, at
folio 32, there is a representation of the martyrdom of St. Thomas of
Canterbury, which gives us the effigies of the three murderers in knightly
costume. They all wear long-sleeved hauberks, which have the peculiarity
of being slightly slit up the sides, and the tunic flows from beneath
them. Fitzurse (known by the bear on his shield) has leg defences fastened
behind, like those in our next woodcut, p. 334, and a circular iron
helmet. One of the others wears a flat-topped helmet, and the third has
the hood of mail fastened on the cheek, like that in the same woodcut. The
drawing is inartistic, and the picture of little value for our present

The Harleian MS. 3,244 contains several MSS. bound together. The second of
these works is a Penitential, which has a knightly figure on horseback for
its frontispiece. It has an allegorical meaning, and is rather curious.
The inscription over the figure is _Milicia est vita hominis super
terram_. (The life of man upon the earth is a warfare.) The knightly
figure represents the Christian man in the spiritual panoply of this
warfare; and the various items of armour and arms have inscriptions
affixed to tell us what they are. Thus over the helmet is _Spes futuri
gaudii_ (For a helmet the hope of salvation); his sword is inscribed,
_Verbum di_; his spear, _Persevancia_; its pennon, _Regni cælesti
desiderium_, &c. &c. The shield is charged with the well-known triangular
device, with the enunciation of the doctrine of the Trinity, _Pater est
Deus_, &c., _Pater non est Filius_, &c. The knight is clad in hauberk,
with a rather long flowing surcoat; a helmet, in general shape like that
in the next woodcut, but not so ornamental; he has chausses of mail;
shield, sword, and spear with pennon, and prick spurs; but there is not
sufficient definiteness in the details, or character in the drawing, to
make it worth while to reproduce it. But there is one MS. picture which
fully atones for the absence of others by its very great merit. It occurs
in a small quarto of the last quarter of the thirteenth century, which
contains the Psalter and Ecclesiastical Hymns. Towards the end of the book
are several remarkably fine full-page drawings, done in outline with a
pen, and partially tinted with colour; large, distinct, and done with
great spirit and artistic skill. The first on the verso of folio 218 is a
king; on the opposite page is the knight, who is here given on a reduced
scale; on the opposite side of the page is St. Christopher, and on the
next page an archbishop.

The figure of the knight before us shows very clearly the various details
of a suit of thirteenth-century armour. In the hauberk will be noticed the
mode in which the hood is fastened at the side of the head, and the way in
which the sleeves are continued into gauntlets, whose palms are left free
from rings, so as to give a firmer grasp. The thighs, it will be seen, are
protected by haut-de-chausses, which are mailed only in the exposed parts,
and not on the seat. The legs have chausses of a different kind of armour.
In the MS. drawings we often find various parts of the armour thus
represented in different ways, and, as we have already said, we are
sometimes tempted to think the unskilful artist has only used different
modes of representing the same kind of mail. But here the drawing is so
careful, and skilful, and self-evidently accurate, that we cannot doubt
that the defence of the legs is really of a different kind of armour from
the mail of the hauberk and haut-de-chausses. The surcoat is of graceful
fashion, and embroidered with crosses, which appear also on the pennon,
and one of them is used as an ornamental genouillière on the shoulder. The
helmet is elaborately and very elegantly ornamented. The attitude of the
figure is spirited and dignified, and the drawing unusually good.
Altogether we do not know a finer representation of a knight of this

[Illustration: _Knight of the latter part of the Thirteenth Century._]

A few, but very valuable, authorities are to be found in the sculptural
monumental effigies of this period. The best of them will be found in
Stothard's "Monumental Effigies," and his work not only brings these
examples together, and makes them easily accessible to the student, but it
has this great advantage, that Stothard well understood his subject, and
gives every detail with the most minute accuracy, and also elucidates
obscure points of detail. Those in the Temple Church, that of William
Longespée in Salisbury Cathedral, and that of Aymer de Valence in
Westminster Abbey, are the most important of the series. Perhaps, after
all, the only important light they add to that already obtained from the
MSS. is, they help us to understand the fabrication of the mail-armour, by
giving it in fac-simile relief. There are also a few foreign MSS., easily
accessible, in the library of the British Museum, which the artist student
will do well to consult; but he must remember that some of the
peculiarities of costume which he will find there are foreign fashions,
and are not to be introduced in English subjects. For example, the MS.
Cotton, Nero, c. iv., is a French MS. of about 1125 A.D., which contains
some rather good drawings of military subjects. The Additional MS. 14,789,
of German execution, written in 1128 A.D., contains military subjects;
among them is a figure of Goliath, in which the Philistine has a hauberk
of chain mail, and chausses of jazerant work, like the knight in the last
woodcut. The Royal MS. 20 D. i., is a French MS., very full of valuable
military drawings, executed probably at the close of the thirteenth
century, belonging, however, in the style of its Art and costume, rather
to the early part of the next period than to that under consideration. The
MS. Addit. 17,687, contains fine and valuable German drawings, full of
military authorities, of about the same period as the French MS. last

[Illustration: _Knight and Men-at-Arms of the end of the Thirteenth

The accompanying wood-cut represents various peculiarities of the armour
in use towards the close of the thirteenth century. It is taken from the
Sloane MS. 346, which is a metrical Bible. In the original drawing a
female figure is kneeling before the warrior, and there is an inscription
over the picture, _Abygail placet iram regis David_ (Abigail appeases the
anger of King David). So that this group of a thirteenth-century knight
and his men-at-arms is intended by the mediæval artist to represent David
and his followers on the march to revenge the churlishness of Nabal. The
reader will notice the round plates at the elbows and knees, which are the
first _visible_ introduction of plate armour--breastplates, worn under the
hauberk, had been occasionally used from Saxon times. He will observe,
too, the leather gauntlets which David wears, and the curious defences for
the shoulders called _ailettes_: also that the shield is hung round the
neck by its strap (_guige_), and the sword-belt round the hips, while the
surcoat is girded round the waist by a silken cord. The group is also
valuable for giving us at a glance three different fashions of helmet.
David has a conical bascinet, with a movable visor. The man immediately
behind him wears an iron hat, with a wide rim and a raised crest, which is
not at all unusual at this period. The other two men wear the globular
helmet, the most common head-defence of the time.

[Illustration: _Knight of the end of the Thirteenth Century._]

The next cut is a spirited little sketch of a mounted knight, from the
same MS. The horse, it may be admitted, is very like those which children
draw nowadays, but it has more life in it than most of the drawings of
that day; and the way in which the knight sits his horse is much more
artistic. The picture shows the equipment of the knight very clearly, and
it is specially valuable as an early example of horse trappings, and as an
authority for the shape of the saddle, with its high pommel and croupe.
The inscription over the picture is, _Tharbis defendit urbem Sabea ab
impugnanti Moysi_; and over the head of this cavalier is his name
_Moyses_--Moses, as a knight of the end of the thirteenth century!



In arriving at the fourteenth century, we have reached the very heart of
our subject. For this century was the period of the great national wars
with France and Scotland; it was the time when the mercenaries raised in
the Italian wars first learnt, and then taught the world, the trade of
soldier and trained their captains in the art of war; it was the period
when the romantic exploits and picturesque trappings of chivalry were in
their greatest vogue; the period when Gothic art was at its highest point
of excellence. It was a period, too, of which we have ample knowledge from
public records and serious histories, from romance writers in poetry and
prose, from Chaucer and Froissart, from MS. illuminations and monumental
effigies. Our difficulty amid such a profusion of material is to select
that which will be most serviceable to our special purpose.

Let us begin with some detailed account of the different kinds and
fashions of armour and equipment. In the preceding period, it has been
seen, the most approved knightly armour was of mail. The characteristic
feature of the armour of the fourteenth century is the intermixture of
mail and plate. We see it first in small supplementary defences of plate
introduced to protect the elbow and knee-joints. Probably it was found
that the rather heavy and unpliable sleeve and hose of mail pressed
inconveniently upon these joints; therefore the armourer adopted the
expedient which proved to be the "thin end of the wedge" which gradually
brought plate armour into fashion. He cut the mail hose in two; the lower
part, which was then like a modern stocking, protected the leg, and the
upper part protected the thigh, each being independently fastened below
and above the knee, leaving the knee unprotected. Then he hollowed a piece
of plate iron so as to form a cap for the knee, called technically a
_genouillière_, within which the joint could work freely without chafing
or pressure; perhaps it was padded or stuffed so as to deaden the effect
of a blow; and it was fashioned so as effectually to cover all the part
left undefended by the mail. The sleeve of the hauberk was cut in the same
way, and the elbow was defended by a cap of plate-iron called a
_coudière_. Early examples of these two pieces of plate armour will be
seen in the later illustrations of our last chapter, for they were
introduced a little before the end of the thirteenth century. The two
pieces of plate were introduced simultaneously, and they appear together
in the woodcut of David and his men in our last chapter; but we often find
the genouillière used while the arm is still defended only by the sleeve
of the hauberk, as in the first woodcut in the present chapter, and again
in the cut on p. 348. It is easy to see that the pressure of the chausses
of mail upon the knee in riding would be constant and considerable, and a
much more serious inconvenience than the pressure upon the elbow in the
usual attitude of the arm.

[Illustration: _Men-at-Arms, Fourteenth Century._]

Next, round plates of metal, called _placates_ or _roundels_, were applied
to shield the armpits from a thrust; and sometimes they were used also at
the elbow to protect the inner side of the joint where, for the
convenience of motion, it was destitute of armour. An example of a roundel
at the shoulder will be seen in one of the men-at-arms in the woodcut on
p. 339. Another curious fashion which very generally prevailed at this
time--that is, at the close of the thirteenth and beginning of the
fourteenth century--was the _ailette_. It was a thin, oblong plate of
metal, which was attached behind the shoulder. It would to some extent
deaden the force of a blow directed at the neck, but it would afford so
inartificial and ineffective a defence, that it is difficult to believe it
was intended for anything more than an ornament. It is worn by the
foremost knight in the cut on p. 335.

Perhaps the next great improvement was to protect the foot by a shoe made
of plates of iron overlapping, like the shell of a lobster, the sole being
still of leather. Then plates of iron, made to fit the limb, were applied
to the shin and the upper part of the forearm, and sometimes a small plate
is applied to the upper part of the arm in the place most exposed to a
blow. Then the shin and forearm defences were enlarged so as to enclose
the limb completely, opening at the side with a hinge, and closing with
straps or rivets. Then the thigh and the upper arm were similarly enclosed
in plate.

It is a little difficult to trace exactly the changes which took place in
the body defences, because all through this period it was the fashion to
wear a surcoat of some kind, which usually conceals all that was worn
beneath it. It is however probable that at an early period of the
introduction of plate a breastplate was introduced, which was worn over
the hauberk, and perhaps fastened to it. Then, it would seem, a back plate
was added also, worn over the hauberk. Next, the breast and back plate
were made to enclose the whole of the upper part of the body, while only a
skirt of mail remained; _i.e._ a garment of the same shape as the hauberk
was worn, unprotected with mail, where the breast and back plate would
come upon it, but still having its skirt covered with rings. In an
illumination in the MS., is a picture of a knight putting off his jupon,
in which the "pair of plates," as Chaucer calls them in a quotation
hereafter given, is seen, tinted blue (steel colour), with a skirt of
mail. At this time the helmet had a fringe of mail, called the _camail_,
attached to its lower margin, which fell over the body armour, and
defended the neck. It is clearly seen in the hindermost knight of the
group in the woodcut on p. 339, and in the effigy of John of Eltham, on p.

It is not difficult to see the superiority of defence which plate afforded
over mail. The edge of sword or axe would bite upon the mail; if the rings
were unbroken, still the blow would be likely to bruise; and in romances
it is common enough to hear of huge cantles of mail being hewn out by
their blows, and the doughty champions being spent with loss of blood. But
many a blow would glance off quite harmless from the curved and polished,
and well-tempered surface of plate; so that it would probably require not
only a more dexterous blow to make the edge of the weapon bite at all on
the plate, but also a harder blow to cut into it so as to wound. In
"Prince Arthur" we read of Sir Tristram and Sir Governale--"they avoided
their horses, and put their shields before them, and they strake together
with bright swords like men that were of might, and either wounded other
wondrous sore, so that the blood ran upon the grass, and of their harness
they had hewed off many pieces." And again, in a combat between Sir
Tristram and Sir Elias, after a course in which "either smote other so
hard that both horses and knights went to the earth," "they both lightly
rose up and dressed their shields on their shoulders, with naked swords in
their hands, and they dashed together like as there had been a flaming
fire about them. Thus they traced and traversed, and hewed on helms and
hauberks, and cut away many pieces and cantles of their shields, and
either wounded other passingly sore, so that the hot blood fell fresh upon
the earth."

We have said that a surcoat of some kind was worn throughout this period,
but it differed in shape at different times, and had different names
applied to it. In the early part of the time of which we are now speaking,
_i.e._ when the innovation of plate armour was beginning, the loose and
flowing surcoat of the thirteenth century was still used, and is very
clearly seen in the nearest of the group of knights in woodcut on p. 339.
It was usually of linen or silk, sleeveless, reached halfway between the
knee and ankle, was left unstiffened to fall in loose folds, except that
it was girt by a silk cord round the waist, and its skirts flutter behind
as the wearer gallops on through the air. The change of taste was in the
direction of shortening the skirts of the surcoat, and making it scantier
about the body, and stiffening it so as to make it fit the person without
folds; at last it was tightly fitted to the breast and back plate, and
showed their outline; and it was not uncommonly covered with embroidery,
often of the armorial bearings of the wearer. The former garment is
properly called a surcoat, and the latter a jupon; the one is
characteristic of the greater part of the thirteenth century, the latter
of the greater part of the fourteenth. But the fashion did not change
suddenly from the one to the other; there was a transitional phase called
the _cyclas_, which may be briefly described. The cyclas opened up the
sides instead of in front, and it had this curious peculiarity, that the
front skirt was cut much shorter than the hind skirt--behind it reached to
the knees, but in front not very much below the hips. The fashion has this
advantage for antiquarians, that the shortness of the front skirt allows
us to see a whole series of military garments beneath, which are hidden by
the long surcoat and even by the shorter jupon, A suit of armour of this
period is represented in the Roman d'Alexandre (Bodleian Library), at
folio 143 v., and elsewhere in the MS. The remainder of the few examples
of the cyclas which remain, and which, so far as our observation extends,
are all in sepulchral monuments, range between the years 1325 and 1335,
the shortening of the cyclas enables us to see. We have chosen for our
illustration the sepulchral effigy in Westminster Abbey of John of Eltham,
the second son of King Edward II., who died in 1334. Here we see first and
lowest the hacqueton; then the hauberk of chain mail, slightly pointed in
front, which was one of the fashions of the time, as we see it also in the
monumental brasses of Sir John de Creke, at Westley-Waterless,
Cambridgeshire, and of Sir J. D'Aubernoun, the younger, at Stoke
D'Abernon, Surrey; over the hauberk we see the ornamented gambeson; and
over all the cyclas. It is a question whether knights generally wore this
whole series of defences, but the monumental effigies are usually so
accurate in their representations of actual costume, that we must conclude
that at least on occasions of state solemnity they were all worn. In the
illustration it will be seen that the cyclas is confined, not by a silk
cord, but by a narrow belt, while the sword-belt of the thirteenth century
is still worn in addition. The jupon is seen in the two knights tilting,
in the woodcut on p. 348. In the knight on the left will be seen how it
fits tightly, and takes the globular shape of the breastplate. It will be
noticed that on this knight the skirt of the jupon is scalloped, on the
other it is plain. The jupon was not girded with a silk cord or a narrow
belt; it was made to fit tight without any such fastening. The sword-belt
worn with it differs in two important respects from that worn previously.
It does not fall diagonally across the person, but horizontally over the
hips; and it is not merely a leather belt ornamented, but the leather
foundation is completely concealed by plates of metal in high relief,
chased, gilt, and filled with enamels, forming a gorgeous decoration. The
general form will be seen in the woodcut on p. 350, but its elaboration
and splendour are better understood on an examination of some of the
sculptured effigies, in which the forms of the metal plates are preserved
in facsimile, with traces of their gilding and colour still remaining.

[Illustration: _John of Eltham._]

It would be easy, from the series of sculptured effigies in relief and
monumental brasses, to give a complete chronological view of these various
changes which were continually progressing throughout the fourteenth
century. But this has already been done in the very accessible works by
Stothard, the Messrs. Waller, Mr. Boutell, and Mr. Haines, especially
devoted to monumental effigies and brasses. It will be more in accordance
with the plan we have laid down for ourselves, if we take from the less
known illuminations of MSS. some subjects which will perhaps be less clear
and fine in detail, but will have more life and character than the formal
monumental effigies.

We must, however, pause to mention some other kinds of armour which were
sometimes used in place of armour of steel. And first we may mention
leather. Leather was always more or less used as a cheap kind of defence,
from the Saxon leather tunic with the hair left on it, down to the buff
jerkin of the time of the Commonwealth, and even to the thick leather
gauntlets and jack boots of the present Life Guardsman. But at the time of
which we are speaking pieces of armour of the same shape as those we have
been describing were sometimes made, for the sake of lightness, of _cuir
bouilli_ instead of metal. Cuir bouilli was, as its name implies, leather
which was treated with hot water, in such a way as to make it assume a
required shape; and often it was also impressed, while soft, with
ornamental devices. It is easy to see that in this way armour might be
made possessing great comparative lightness, and yet a certain degree of
strength, and capable, by stamping, colouring, and gilding, of a high
degree of ornamentation. It was a kind of armour very suitable for
occasions of mere ceremonial, and it was adopted in actual combat for
parts of the body less exposed to injury; for instance, it seems to be
especially used for the defence of the lower half of the legs. We shall
find presently, in the description of Chaucer's Sire Thopas, the knight
adventurous, that "his jambeux were of cuirbouly." In external form and
appearance it would be so exactly like metal armour that it may be
represented in some of the ornamental effigies and MSS. drawings, where it
has the appearance of, and is usually assumed to be, metal armour. Another
form of armour, of which we often meet with examples in drawings and
effigies, is one in which the piece of armour appears to be studded, at
more or less distant regular intervals, with small round plates. There are
two suggestions as to the kind of armour intended. One is, that the armour
thus represented was a garment of cloth, silk, velvet, or other textile
material, lined with plates of metal, which are fastened to the garment
with metal rivets, and that the heads of these rivets, gilt and
ornamented, were allowed to be seen powdering the coloured face of the
garment by way of ornament. Another suggestion is that the garment was
merely one of the padded and quilted armours which we shall have next to
describe, in which, as an additional precaution, metal studs were
introduced, much as an oak door is studded with iron bolts. An example of
it will be seen in the armour of the forearms of King Meliadus in the
woodcut on p. 350. Chaucer seems to speak of this kind of defence, in his
description of Lycurgus at the great tournament in the "Knight's Tale,"
under the name of coat armour:--

  "Instede of cote-armure on his harnais,
   With nayles yelwe and bryght as any gold,
   He had a bere's skin cole-blake for old."

Next we come to the rather large and important series of quilted defences.
We find the names of the _gambeson_, _hacqueton_, and _pourpoint_, and
sometimes the _jacke_. It is a little difficult to distinguish one from
the other in the descriptions; and in fact they appear to have greatly
resembled one another, and the names seem often to have been used
interchangeably. The gambeson was a sleeved tunic of stout coarse linen,
stuffed with flax and other common material, and sewn longitudinally. The
hacqueton was a similar garment, only made of buckram, and stuffed with
cotton; stiff from its material, but not so thick and clumsy as the
gambeson. The pourpoint was very like the hacqueton, only that it was made
of finer material, faced with silk, and stitched in ornamental patterns.
The gambeson and hacqueton were worn under the armour, partly to relieve
its pressure upon the body, partly to afford an additional defence.
Sometimes they were worn, especially by the common soldiers, without any
other armour. The pourpoint was worn over the hauberk, but sometimes it
was worn alone, the hauberk being omitted for the sake of lightness. The
jacke, or jacque, was a tunic of stuffed leather, and was usually worn by
the common soldiers without other armour, but sometimes as light armour by

In the first wood-cut on the next page, from the Romance of King
Meliadus, we have a figure which appears to be habited in one of these
quilted armours, perhaps the hacqueton. There is another figure in the
same group, in a similar dress, with this difference--in the first the
skirt seems to fall loose and light, in the second the skirt seems to be
stuffed and quilted like the body of the garment. At folio 214 of the same
Romance is a squire, attendant upon a knight-errant, who is habited in a
similar hacqueton to that we have represented; the squires throughout the
MS. are usually quite unarmed. In the monumental effigy of Sir Robert
Shurland, who was made a knight-banneret in 1300, we seem to have a
curious and probably unique effigy of a knight in the gameson. We give a
woodcut of it, reduced from Stothard's engraving. The smaller figure of
the man placed at the feet of the effigy is in the same costume, and
affords us an additional example. Stothard conjectures that the garment in
the effigy of John of Eltham (1334 A.D.), whose vandyked border appears
beneath his hauberk, is the buckram of the hacqueton left unstuffed, and
ornamentally scalloped round the border. In the MS. of King Meliadus, at
f. 21, and again on the other side of the leaf, is a knight, whose red
jupon, slit up at the sides, is thrown open by his attitude, so that we
see the skirt of mail beneath, which is silvered to represent metal; and
beneath that is a scalloped border of an under habit, which is left white,
and, if Stothard's conjecture be correct, is another example of the
hacqueton under the hauberk. But the best representation which we have met
with of the quilted armours is in the MS. of the Romance of the Rose
(Harleian, 4,425), at folio 133, where, in a battle scene, one knight is
conspicuous among the blue steel and red and green jupons of the other
knights by a white body armour quilted in small squares, with which he
wears a steel bascinet and ringed camail. He is engraved on p. 389.

[Illustration: _Squire in Hacqueton._]

[Illustration: _Sir Robert Shurland._]

And now to turn to a description of some of the MS. illuminations which
illustrate this chapter. That on p. 339 is a charming little subject from
a famous MS. (Royal 2 B. VII.) of the beginning of the Edwardian period,
which will illustrate half-a-dozen objects besides the mere suit of
knightly armour. First of all there is the suit of armour on the knight in
the foreground, the hooded hauberk and chausses of mail and genouillières,
the chapeau de fer, or war helm, and the surcoat, and the shield. But we
get also a variety of helmets, different kinds of weapons, falchion and
axe, as well as sword and spear, and the pennon attached to the spear;
and, in addition, the complete horse trappings, with the ornamental crest
which was used to set off the arching neck and tossing head. Moreover, we
learn that this variety of arms and armour was to be found in a single
troop of men-at-arms; and we see the irregular but picturesque effect
which such a group presented to the eyes of the monkish illuminator as it
pranced beneath the gateway into the outer court of the abbey, to seek the
hospitality which the hospitaller would hasten to offer on behalf of the

This mixture of armour and weapons is brought before us by Chaucer in his
description of Palamon's party in the great tournament in the "Knight's

  "And right so ferden they with Palamon,
   With him ther wenten knights many one,
   Som wol ben armed in an habergeon,
   And in a brestplate and in a gipon;
   And some wol have a pair of plates large;
   And some wol have a Pruce shield or a targe;
   And some wol ben armed on his legge's wele,
   And have an axe, and some a mace of stele,
   Ther was no newe guise that it was old,
   Armed they weren, as I have you told,
   Everich after his opinion."

The illustration here given and that on p. 350 are from a MS. which we
cannot quote for the first time without calling special attention to it.
It is a MS. of one of the numerous romances of the King Arthur cycle, the
Romance of the King Meliadus, who was one of the Companions of the Round
Table. The book is profusely illustrated with pictures which are
invaluable to the student of military costume and chivalric customs. They
are by different hands, and not all of the same date, the earlier series
being probably about 1350, the later perhaps as late as near the end of
the century. In both these dates the MS. gives page after page of
large-sized pictures drawn with great spirit, and illustrating every
variety of incident which could take place in single combat and in
tournament, with many scenes of civil and domestic life besides.
Especially there is page after page in which, along the lower portion of
the pages, across the whole width of the book, there are pictures of
tournaments. There is a gallery of spectators along the top, and in some
of these--especially in those at folio 151 v. and 152, which are sketched
in with pen and ink, and left uncoloured--there are more of character and
artistic drawing than the artists of the time are usually believed to have
possessed. Beneath this gallery is a confused mêlée of knights in the very
thickest throng and most energetic action of a tournament. The wood-cut on
p. 348 represents one out of many incidents of a single combat. It does
not do justice to the drawing, and looks tame for want of the colouring of
the original; but it will serve to show the armour and equipment of the
time. The victor knight is habited in a hauberk of banded mail, with
gauntlets of plate, and the legs are cased entirely in plate. The body
armour is covered by a jupon; the tilting helmet has a knight's chapeau
and drapery carrying the lion crest. The armour in the illumination is
silvered to represent metal. The knight's jupon is red, and the trappings
of his helmet red, with a golden lion; his shield bears gules, a lion
rampant argent; the conquered knight's jupon is blue, his shield argent,
two bandlets gules. We see here the way in which the shield was carried,
and the long slender spear couched, in the charge.

[Illustration: _Jousting._]

The next wood-cut hardly does credit to the charming original. It
represents the royal knight-errant himself sitting by a fountain, talking
with his squire. The suit of armour is beautiful, and the face of the
knight has much character, but very different from the modern conventional
type of a mediæval knight-errant. His armour deserves particular
examination. He wears a hauberk of banded mail; whether he wears a
breastplate, or pair of plates, we are unable to see for the jupon, but we
can see the hauberk which protects the throat above the jupon, and the
skirt of it where the attitude of the wearer throws the skirt of the jupon
open at the side. It will be seen that the sleeves of the hauberk are not
continued, as in most examples, over the hands, or even down to the wrist;
but the forearm is defended by studded armour, and the hands by gauntlets
which are probably of plate. The leg defences are admirably exhibited; the
hose of banded mail, the knee cap, and shin pieces of plate, and the
boots of overlapping plates. The helmet also, with its royal crown and
curious double crest, is worth notice. In the original drawing the whole
suit of armour is brilliantly executed. The armour is all silvered to
represent steel, the jupon is green, the military belt gold, the helmet
silvered, with its drapery blue powdered with gold fleurs-de-lis, and its
crown, and the fleur-de-lis which terminate its crest, gold. The whole
dress and armour of a knight of the latter half of the fourteenth century
are described for us by Chaucer in a few stanzas of his Rime of Sire

  "He didde[371] next his white lere
   Of cloth of lake fine and clere
     A breche and eke a sherte;
   And next his shert an haketon,
   And over that an habergeon,
     For percing of his herte.

   And over that a fine hauberk,
   Was all ye wrought of Jewes werk,
     Full strong it was of plate;
   And over that his coat armoure,
   As white as is the lily floure,
     In which he could debate.[372]

   His jambeux were of cuirbouly,[373]
   His swerde's sheth of ivory,
     His helm of latoun[374] bright,
   His sadel was of rewel bone,
   His bridle as the sonne shone,
     Or as the mone-light[375]

   His sheld was all of gold so red,
   And therein was a bore's hed,
     A charboncle beside;
   And then he swore on ale and bred,
   How that the geaunt shuld be ded,
     Betide what so betide.

   His spere was of fine cypres,
   That bodeth warre and nothing pees,
     The hed ful sharpe yground.
   His stede was all of dapper gray.
   It goth an amble in the way,
     Ful softely in londe."

[Illustration: _A Knight-Errant._]

There is so much of character in his squire's face in the same picture,
and that character so different from our conventional idea of a squire,
that we are tempted to give a sketch of it on p. 352, as he leans over the
horse's back talking to his master. This MS. affords us a whole gallery of
squires attendant upon their knights. At folio 66 v. is one carrying his
master's spear and shield, who has a round cap with a long feather, like
that in the woodcut. In several other instances the squire rides
bareheaded, but has his hood hanging behind on his shoulders ready for a
cold day or a shower of rain. In another place the knight is attended by
two squires, one bearing his master's tilting helmet on his shoulder, the
other carrying his spear and shield. In all cases the squires are unarmed,
and mature men of rather heavy type, different from the gay and gallant
youths whom we are apt to picture to ourselves as the squires of the days
of chivalry attendant on noble knights adventurous. In other cases we see
the squires looking on very phlegmatically while their masters are in the
height of a single combat; perhaps a knight adventurous was not a hero to
his squire. But again we see the squire starting into activity to catch
his master's steed, from which he has been unhorsed by an antagonist of
greater strength or skill, or good fortune. We see him also in the lists
at a tournament, handing his master a new spear when he has splintered his
own on an opponent's shield; or helping him to his feet when he has been
overthrown, horse and man, under the hoofs of prancing horses.

[Illustration: _The Knight-Errant's Squire._]



We have no inclination to deny that life is more safe and easy in these
days than it was in the Middle Ages, but it certainly is less picturesque,
and adventurous, and joyous. This country then presented the features of
interest which those among us who have wealth and leisure now travel to
foreign lands to find. There were vast tracts of primeval forest, and wild
unenclosed moors and commons, and marshes and meres. The towns were
surrounded by walls and towers, and the narrow streets of picturesque,
gabled, timber houses were divided by wide spaces of garden and grove,
above which rose numerous steeples of churches full of artistic wealth.
The villages consisted of a group of cottages scattered round a wide
green, with a village cross in the middle, and a maypole beside it. And
there were stately monasteries in the rich valleys; and castles crowned
the hills; and moated manor-houses lay buried in their woods; and
hermitages stood by the dangerous fords. The high roads were little more
than green lanes with a narrow beaten track in the middle, poached into
deep mud in winter; and the by-roads were bridle-paths winding from
village to village; and the costumes of the people were picturesque in
fashion, bright in colour, and characteristic. The gentleman pranced along
in silks and velvets, in plumed hat, and enamelled belt, and gold-hilted
sword and spurs, with a troop of armed servants behind him; the abbot, in
the robe of his order, with a couple of chaplains, all on ambling
palfreys; the friar paced along in serge frock and sandals; the minstrel,
in gay coat, sang snatches of lays as he wandered along from hall to
castle, with a lad at his back carrying his harp or gittern; the traders
went from fair to fair, taking their goods on strings of pack horses; a
pilgrim, passed now and then, with staff and scrip and cloak; and, now and
then, a knight-errant in full armour rode by on his war-horse, with a
squire carrying his helm and spear. It was a wild land, and the people
were rude, and the times lawless; but every mile furnished pictures for
the artist, and every day offered the chance of adventures. The reader
must picture to himself the aspect of the country and the manners of the
times, before he can appreciate the spirit of knight-errantry, to which it
is necessary that we should devote one of these chapters on the Knights of
the Middle Ages.

The knight-errant was usually some young knight who had been lately
dubbed, and who, full of courage and tired of the monotony of his father's
manor-house, set out in search of adventures. We could envy him as, on
some bright spring morning, he rode across the sounding drawbridge,
followed by a squire in the person of some young forester as full of
animal spirits and reckless courage as himself; or, perhaps, by some
steady old warrior practised in the last French war, whom his father had
chosen to take care of him. We sigh for our own lost youth as we think of
him, with all the world before him--the mediæval world, with all its
possibilities of wild adventure and romantic fortune; with caitiff knights
to overthrow at spear-point, and distressed damsels to succour; and
princesses to win as the prize of some great tournament; and rank and fame
to gain by prowess and daring, under the eye of kings, in some great
stricken field.

The old romances enable us to follow such an errant knight through all his
travels and adventures; and the illuminations leave hardly a point in the
history unillustrated by their quaint but naïve and charming pictures.
Tennyson has taken some of the episodes out of these old romances, and
filled up the artless but suggestive stories with the rich detail and
artistic finish which adapt them to our modern taste, and has made them
the favourite subjects of modern poetry. But he has left a hundred others
behind; stories as beautiful, with words and sentences here and there full
of poetry, destined to supply material for future poems and new subjects
for our painters.

It is our business to quote from these romances some of the scenes which
will illustrate our subject, and to introduce some of the illuminations
that will present them to the eye. In selecting the literary sketches, we
shall use almost exclusively the translation which Sir Thomas Mallory
made, and Caxton printed, of the cycle of Prince Arthur romances, because
it comprises a sufficient number for our purpose, and because the
language, while perfectly intelligible and in the best and most vigorous
English, has enough of antique style to give the charm which would be
wanting if we were to translate the older romances into modern
phraseology. In the same way we shall content ourselves with selecting
pictorial illustrations chiefly from MSS. of the fourteenth century, the
date at which many of these romances were brought into the form in which
they have descended to us.

[Illustration: _A Squire._]

A knight was known to be a knight-errant by his riding through the
peaceful country in full armour, with a single squire at his back, as
surely as a man is now recognised as a fox-hunter who is seen riding
easily along the strip of green sward by the roadside in a pink coat and
velvet cap. "Fair knight," says Sir Tristram, to one whom he had found
sitting by a fountain, "ye seem for to be a knight-errant by your arms and
your harness, therefore dress ye to just with one of us:" for this was of
course inevitable when knights-errant met; the whole passage is worth
transcribing:--"Sir Tristram and Sir Kay rode within the forest a mile or
more. And at the last Sir Tristram saw before him a likely knight and a
well-made man, all armed, sitting by a clear fountain, and a mighty horse
near unto him tied to a great oak, and a man [his squire] riding by him,
leading an horse that was laden with spears. Then Sir Tristram rode near
him, and said, 'Fair knight, why sit ye so drooping, for ye seem to be an
errant knight by your arms and harness, and therefore dress ye to just
with one of us or with both.' Therewith that knight made no words, but
took his shield and buckled it about his neck, and lightly he took his
horse and leaped upon him, and then he took a great spear of his squire,
and departed his way a furlong."

And so we read in another place:--"Sir Dinadan spake on high and said,
'Sir Knight, make thee ready to just with me, for it is the custom of all
arrant knights one for to just with another.' 'Sir,' said Sir Epinogris,
'is that the rule of your arrant knights, for to make a knight to just
whether he will or not?' 'As for that, make thee ready, for here is for
me.' And therewith they spurred their horses, and met together so hard
that Sir Epinogris smote down Sir Dinadan"--and so taught him the truth of
the adage "that it is wise to let sleeping dogs lie."

But they did not merely take the chance of meeting one another as they
journeyed. A knight in quest of adventures would sometimes station himself
at a ford or bridge, and mount guard all day long, and let no
knight-errant pass until he had jousted with him. Thus we read "then they
rode forth all together, King Mark, Sir Lamorake, and Sir Dinadan, till
that they came unto a bridge, and at the end of that bridge stood a fair
tower. Then saw they a knight on horseback, well armed, brandishing a
spear, crying and proffering himself to just." And again, "When King Mark
and Sir Dinadan had ridden about four miles, they came unto a bridge,
whereas hoved a knight on horseback, and ready to just. 'So,' said Sir
Dinadan unto King Mark, 'yonder hoveth a knight that will just, for there
shall none pass this bridge but he must just with that knight.'"

And again: "They rode through the forest, and at the last they were ware
of two pavilions by a priory with two shields, and the one shield was
renewed with white and the other shield was red. 'Thou shalt not pass this
way,' said the dwarf, 'but first thou must just with yonder knights that
abide in yonder pavilions that thou seest.' Then was Sir Tor ware where
two pavilions were, and great spears stood out, and two shields hung on
two trees by the pavilions." In the same way a knight would take up his
abode for a few days at a wayside cross where four ways met, in order to
meet adventures from east, west, north, and south. Notice of adventures
was sometimes affixed upon such a cross, as we read in "Prince Arthur":
"And so Sir Galahad and he rode forth all that week ere they found any
adventure. And then upon a Sunday, in the morning, as they were departed
from an abbey, they came unto a cross which departed two ways. And on that
cross were letters written which said thus: _Now ye knights-errant that
goeth forth for to seek adventures, see here two ways_," &c.

Wherever they went, they made diligent inquiry for adventures. Thus "Sir
Launcelot departed, and by adventure he came into a forest. And in the
midst of a highway he met with a damsel riding on a white palfrey, and
either saluted other: 'Fair damsel,' said Sir Launcelot, 'know ye in this
country any adventures?' 'Sir Knight,' said the damsel, 'here are
adventures near at hand, an thou durst prove them.' 'Why should I not
prove adventures,' said Sir Launcelot, 'as for that cause came I hither?'"
And on another occasion, we read, Sir Launcelot passed out of the (King
Arthur's) court to seek adventures, and Sir Ector made him ready to meet
Sir Launcelot, and as he had ridden long in a great forest, he met with a
man that was like a forester.--These frequent notices of "riding long
through a great forest" are noticeable as evidences of the condition of
the country in those days.--"Fair fellow," said Sir Ector, "knowest thou
in this country any adventures which be here nigh at hand?" "Sir," said
the forester, "this country know I well, and here within this mile is a
strong manor and well ditched"--not well walled; it was the fashion of the
Middle Ages to choose low sites for their manor-houses, and to surround
them with moats--such moats are still common round old manor-houses in
Essex--"and by that manor on the left hand is a fair ford for horses to
drink, and over that ford there groweth a fair tree, and thereon hangeth
many fair shields that belonged some time unto good knights; and at the
hole of the tree hangeth a bason of copper and laten; and strike upon that
bason with the end of the spear thrice, and soon after thou shalt hear
good tidings, and else hast thou the fairest grace that many a year any
knight had that passed through this forest."

[Illustration: _Preliminaries of Combat in Green Court of Castle._]

Every castle offered hope, not only of hospitality, but also of a trial of
arms; for in every castle there would be likely to be knights and squires
glad of the opportunity of running a course with bated spears with a new
and skilful antagonist. Here is a picture from an old MS. which represents
the preliminaries of such a combat on the green between the castle walls
and the moat. In many castles there was a special tilting-ground. Thus we
read, "Sir Percivale passed the water, and when he came unto the castle
gate, he said to the porter, 'Go thou unto the good knight within the
castle, and tell him that here is came an errant knight to just with him.'
'Sir,' said the porter, 'ride ye within the castle, and there shall ye
find a common place for justing, that lords and ladies may behold you.'"
At Carisbrook Castle, in the Isle of Wight, the tilting-ground remains to
this day; a plot of level green sward, with raised turfed banks round it,
that at the same time served as the enclosure of the lists, and a
vantage-ground from which the spectators might see the sport. At
Gawsworth, also, the ancient tilting-ground still remains. But in most
castles of any size, the outer court afforded room enough for a course,
and at the worst there was the green meadow outside the castle walls. In
some castles they had special customs; just as in old-fashioned
country-houses one used to be told it was "the custom of the house" to do
this and that; so it was "the custom of the castle" for every knight to
break three lances, for instance, or exchange three strokes of sword with
the lord--a quondam errant knight be sure, thus creating adventures for
himself at home when marriage and cares of property forbade him to roam in
search of them. Thus, in the Romance:--"Sir Tristram and Sir Dinadan rode
forth their way till they came to some shepherds and herdsmen, and there
they asked if they knew any lodging or harbour thereabout." "Forsooth,
fair lords," said the herdsmen, "nigh hereby is a good lodging in a
castle, but such a custom there is that there shall no knight be lodged
but if he first just with two knights, and if ye be beaten, and have the
worse, ye shall not be lodged there, and if ye beat them, ye shall be well
lodged." The Knights of the Round Table easily vanquished the two knights
of the castle, and were hospitably received; but while they were at table
came Sir Palomides, and Sir Gaheris, "requiring to have the custom of the
castle." "And now," said Sir Tristram, "must we defend the custom of the
castle, inasmuch as we have the better of the lord of the castle."

Here is the kind of invitation they were sure to receive from gentlemen
living peaceably on their estates, but sympathising with the high spirit
and love of adventure which sent young knights a-wandering through their
woods and meadows, and under their castle walls:--Sir Tristram and Sir
Gareth "were ware of a knight that came riding against [towards] them
unarmed, and nothing about him but a sword; and when this knight came nigh
them he saluted them, and they him again. 'Fair knights,' said that
knight, 'I pray you, inasmuch as ye are knights errant, that ye will come
and see my castle, and take such as ye find there, I pray you heartily.'
And so they rode with him to his castle, and there they were brought to
the hall that was well appareled, and so they were unarmed and set at a

We have already heard in these brief extracts of knights lodging at
castles and abbeys: we often find them received at manor-houses. Here is
one of the most graphic pictures:--"Then Sir Launcelot mounted upon his
horse and rode into many strange and wild countries, and through many
waters and valleys, and evil was he lodged. And at the last, by fortune,
it happened him against a night to come to a poor courtilage, and therein
he found an old gentleman, which lodged him with a good will, and there he
and his horse were well cheered. And when time was, his host brought him
to a fair garret over a gate to his bed. There Sir Launcelot unarmed him,
and set his harness by him, and went to bed, and anon he fell in sleep.
So, soon after, there came one on horseback, and knocked at the gate in
great haste. And when Sir Launcelot heard this, he arose up and looked out
at the window, and saw by the moonlight three knights that came riding
after that one man, and all three lashed upon him at once with their
swords, and that one knight turned on them knightly again, and defended
himself." And Sir Launcelot, like an errant knight, "took his harness and
went out at the window by a sheet," and made them yield, and commanded
them at Whit Sunday to go to King Arthur's court, and there yield them
unto Queen Guenever's grace and mercy; for so errant knights gave to their
lady-loves the evidences of their prowess, and did them honour, by sending
them a constant succession of vanquished knights, and putting them "unto
her grace and mercy."

Very often the good knight in the midst of forest or wild found a night's
shelter in a friendly hermitage, for hermitages, indeed, were established
partly to afford shelter to belated travellers. Here is an example. Sir
Tor asks the dwarf who is his guide, "'Know ye any lodging?' 'I know
none,' said the dwarf; 'but here beside is an hermitage, and there ye
must take such lodging as ye find.' And within a while they came to the
hermitage and took lodging, and there was grass and oats and bread for
their horses. Soon it was spread, and full hard was their supper; but
there they rested them all the night till on the morrow, and heard a mass
devoutly, and took their leave of the hermit, and Sir Tor prayed the
hermit to pray for him, and he said he would, and betook him to God; and
so he mounted on horseback, and rode towards Camelot."

But sometimes not even a friendly hermitage came in sight at the hour of
twilight, when the forest glades darkened, and the horse track across the
moor could no longer be seen, and the knight had to betake himself to a
soldier's bivouac. It is an incident often met with in the Romances. Here
is a more poetical description than usual:--"And anon these knights made
them ready, and rode over holts and hills, through forests and woods, till
they came to a fair meadow full of fair flowers and grass, and there they
rested them and their horses all that night." Again, "Sir Launcelot rode
into a forest, and there he met with a gentlewoman riding upon a white
palfrey, and she asked him, 'Sir Knight, whither ride ye?' 'Certainly,
damsel,' said Sir Launcelot, 'I wot not whither I ride, but as fortune
leadeth me.'... Then Sir Launcelot asked her where he might be harboured
that night. 'Ye shall none find this day nor night, but to-morrow ye shall
find good harbour.' And then he commended her unto God. Then he rode till
he came to a cross, and took that for his host as for that night. And he
put his horse to pasture, and took off his helm and shield, and made his
prayers to the cross, that he might never again fall into deadly sin, and
so he laid him down to sleep, and anon as he slept it befel him that he
had a vision," with which we will not trouble the reader; but we commend
the incident to any young artist in want of a subject for a picture: the
wayside cross where the four roads meet in the forest, the gnarled
tree-trunks with their foliage touched with autumn tints, and the green
bracken withering into brown and yellow and red, under the level rays of
the sun which fling alternate bars of light and shade across the scene;
and the noble war-horse peacefully grazing on the short sweet forest
grass, and the peerless knight in glorious gilded arms, with his helmet at
his feet, and his great spear leaned against a tree-trunk, kneeling
before the cross, with his grave noble face, and his golden hair gleaming
in the sun-light, "making his prayers that he might never again fall into
deadly sin."

In the old monumental brasses in which pictures of the knightly costume
are preserved to us with such wonderful accuracy and freshness, it is very
common to find the knight represented as lying with his tilting helm under
his head by way of pillow. One would take it for a mere artistic
arrangement for raising the head of the recumbent figure, and for
introducing this important portion of his costume, but that the Romances
tell us that knights did actually make use of their helm for a pillow; a
hard pillow, no doubt--but we have all heard of the veteran who kicked
from under his son's head the snowball which he had rolled together for a
pillow at his bivouac in the winter snow, indignant at his degenerate
effeminacy. Thus we read of Sir Tristram and Sir Palomides, "They mounted
upon their horses, and rode together into the forest, and there they found
a fair well with clear water burbelling. 'Fair Sir,' said Sir Tristram,
'to drink of that water have I a lust.' And then they alighted from their
horses, and then were they ware by them where stood a great horse tied to
a tree, and ever he neighed, and then were they ware of a fair knight
armed under a tree, lacking no piece of harness, save his helm lay under
his head. Said Sir Tristram, 'Yonder lieth a fair knight, what is best to
do?' 'Awake him,' said Sir Palomides. So Sir Tristram waked him with the
end of his spear." They had better have let him be, for the knight, thus
roused, got him to horse and overthrew them both. Again, we read how "Sir
Launcelot bad his brother, Sir Lionel, to make him ready, for we two, said
he, will seek adventures. So they mounted upon their horses, armed at all
points, and rode into a deep forest, and after they came into a great
plain, and then the weather was hot about noon, and Sir Launcelot had
great lust to sleep. Then Sir Lionel espied a great apple-tree that stood
by a hedge, and said, 'Brother, yonder is a fair shadow; there may we rest
us, and our horses.' 'It is well said, fair brother,' said Sir Launcelot,
'for all the seven year I was not so sleepy as I am now.' And so they
alighted there, and tied their horses unto sundry trees, and so Sir
Launcelot laid him down under an apple-tree, and laid his helm under his
head. And Sir Lionel waked while he slept."

[Illustration: _Knights, Damsel, and Squire._]

The knight did not, however, always trust to chance for shelter, and risk
a night in the open air. Sometimes we find he took the field in this mimic
warfare with a baggage train, and had his tent pitched for the night
wherever night overtook him, or camped for a few days wherever a pleasant
glade, or a fine prospect, or an agreeable neighbour, tempted him to
prolong his stay. And he would picket his horse hard by, and thrust his
spear into the ground beside the tent door, and hang his shield upon it.
Thus we read:--"Now turn we unto Sir Launcelot, that had long been riding
in a great forest, and at last came into a low country, full of fair
rivers and meadows, and afore him he saw a long bridge, and three
pavilions stood thereon of silk and sendal of divers hue, and without the
pavilions hung three white shields on truncheons of spears, and great long
spears stood upright by the pavilions, and at every pavilion's door stood
three fresh squires, and so Sir Launcelot passed by them, and spake not a
word." We may say here that it was not unusual for people in fine weather
to pitch a tent in the courtyard or garden of the castle, and live there
instead of indoors, or to go a-field and pitch a little camp in some
pleasant place, and spend the time in justing and feasting, and mirth and
minstrelsy. We read in one of the Romances how "the king and queen--King
Arthur and Queen Guenever, to wit--made their pavilions and their tents to
be pitched in the forest, beside a river, and there was daily hunting, for
there were ever twenty knights ready for to just with all them that came
in at that time." And here, in the woodcut below, is a picture of the

Usually, perhaps, there was not much danger in these adventures of a
knight-errant. There was a fair prospect of bruises, and a risk of broken
bones if he got an awkward fall, but not more risk perhaps than in the
modern hunting-field. Even if the combat went further than the usual three
courses with bated spears, if they did draw swords and continue the combat
on foot, there was usually no more real danger than in a duel of German
students. But sometimes cause of anger would accidentally rise between two
errant knights, or the combat begun in courtesy would fire their hot
blood, and they would resolve "worshipfully to win worship, or die
knightly on the field," and a serious encounter would take place. There
were even some knights of evil disposition enough to take delight in
making every combat a serious one; and some of the adventures in which we
take most interest relate how these bloodthirsty bullies, attacking in
ignorance some Knight of the Round Table, got a well-deserved bloodletting
for their pains.

[Illustration: _King, &c., in Pavilion before Castle._]

We must give one example of a combat--rather a long one, but it combines
many different points of interest. "So as they (Merlin and King Arthur)
went thus talking, they came to a fountain, and a rich pavilion by it.
Then was King Arthur aware where a knight sat all armed in a chair. 'Sir
Knight,' said King Arthur, 'for what cause abidest thou here, that there
may no knight ride this way, but if he do just with thee; leave that
custom.' 'This custom,' said the knight, 'have I used, and will use maugre
who saith nay, and who is grieved with my custom, let him amend it that
will.' 'I will amend it,' saith King Arthur. 'And I shall defend it,'
saith the knight. Anon he took his horse, and dressed his shield, and took
a spear; and they met so hard either on other's shield, that they shivered
their spears. Therewith King Arthur drew his sword. 'Nay, not so,' saith
the knight, 'it is fairer that we twain run more together with sharp
spears.' 'I will well,' said King Arthur, 'an I had any more spears.' 'I
have spears enough,' said the knight. So there came a squire, and brought
two good spears, and King Arthur took one, and he another; so they spurred
their horses, and came together with all their might, that either break
their spears in their hands. Then King Arthur set hand to his sword.
'Nay,' said the knight, 'ye shall do better; ye are a passing good juster
as ever I met withal; for the love of the high order of knighthood let us
just it once again.' 'I assent me,' said King Arthur. Anon there were
brought two good spears, and each knight got a spear, and therewith they
ran together, that King Arthur's spear broke to shivers. But the knight
hit him so hard in the middle of the shield, that horse and man fell to
the earth, wherewith King Arthur was sore angered, and drew out his sword,
and said, 'I will assay thee, Sir Knight, on foot, for I have lost the
honour on horseback.' 'I will be on horseback,' said the knight. Then was
King Arthur wrath, and dressed his shield towards him with his sword
drawn. When the knight saw that, he alighted for him, for he thought it
was no worship to have a knight at such advantage, he to be on horseback,
and the other on foot, and so alighted, and dressed himself to King
Arthur. Then there began a strong battle with many great strokes, and so
hewed with their swords that the cantels flew on the field, and much blood
they bled both, so that all the place where they fought was all bloody;
and thus they fought long and rested them, and then they went to battle
again, and so hurtled together like two wild boars, that either of them
fell to the earth. So at the last they smote together, that both their
swords met even together. But the sword of the knight smote King Arthur's
sword in two pieces, wherefore he was heavy. Then said the knight to the
king, 'Thou art in my danger, whether me list to slay thee or save thee;
and but thou yield thee as overcome and recreant, thou shalt die.' 'As for
death,' said King Arthur, 'welcome be it when it cometh, but as to yield
me to thee as recreant, I had liever die than be so shamed.' And
therewithal the king leapt upon Pelinore, and took him by the middle, and
threw him down, and rased off his helmet. When the knight felt that he was
a dread, for he was a passing big man of might; and anon he brought King
Arthur under him, and rased off his helmet, and would have smitten off his
head. Therewithal came Merlin, and said, 'Knight, hold thy hand.'"

[Illustration: _Knights Justing._]

Happy for the wounded knight if there were a religious house at hand, for
there he was sure to find kind hospitality and such surgical skill as the
times afforded. King Bagdemagus had this good fortune when he had been
wounded by Sir Galahad. "I am sore wounded," said he, "and full hardly
shall I escape from the death. Then the squire fet [fetched] his horse,
and brought him with great pain to an abbey. Then was he taken down softly
and unarmed, and laid in a bed, and his wound was looked into, for he lay
there long and escaped hard with his life." So Sir Tristram, in his combat
with Sir Marhaus, was so sorely wounded, "that unneath he might recover,
and lay at a nunnery half a year." Such adventures sometimes, no doubt,
ended fatally, as in the case of the unfortunate Sir Marhaus, and there
was a summary conclusion to his adventures; and there was nothing left but
to take him home and bury him in his parish church, and hang his sword and
helmet over his tomb.[376] Many a knight would be satisfied with the
series of adventures which finished by laying him on a sick bed for six
months, with only an ancient nun for his nurse; and as soon as he was well
enough he would get himself conveyed home on a horse litter, a sadder and
a wiser man. The modern romances have good mediæval authority, too, for
making marriage a natural conclusion of their three volumes of adventures;
we have no less authority for it than that of Sir Launcelot:--"Now,
damsel," said he, at the conclusion of an adventure, "will ye any more
service of me?" "Nay, sir," said she at this time, "but God preserve you,
wherever ye go or ride, for the courtliest knight thou art, and meekest to
all ladies and gentlewomen that now liveth. But, Sir Knight, one thing me
thinketh that ye lack, ye that are a knight wifeless, that ye will not
love some maiden or gentlewoman, for I could never hear say that ye loved
any of no manner degree, wherefore many in this country of high estate and
low make great sorrow." "Fair damsel," said Sir Launcelot, "to be a wedded
man I think never to be, for if I were, then should I be bound to tarry
with my wife, and leave arms and tournaments, battles and adventures."

We have only space left for a few examples of the quaint and poetical
phrases that, as we have said, frequently occur in these Romances, some of
which Tennyson has culled, and set like uncut mediæval gems in his circlet
of "Idyls of the King." In the account of the great battle between King
Arthur and his knights against the eleven kings "and their chivalry," we
read "they were so courageous, that many knights shook and trembled for
eagerness," and "they fought together, that the sound rang by the water
and the wood," and "there was slain that morrow-tide ten thousand of good
men's bodies." The second of these expressions is a favourite one; we meet
with it again: "when King Ban came into the battle, he came in so
fiercely, that the stroke resounded again from the water and the wood."
Again we read, King Arthur "commanded his trumpets to blow the bloody
sounds in such wise that the earth trembled and dindled." He was "a mighty
man of men;" and "all men of worship said it was merry to be under such a
chieftain, that would put his person in adventure as other poor knights



In the British Museum are two volumes containing a rather large number of
illuminated pictures which have been cut out of MSS., chiefly of the early
fourteenth century, by some collector who did not understand how much more
valuable they would have been, even as pictures, if left each by itself in
the appropriate setting of its black letter page, than when pasted
half-a-dozen together in a scrap-book. That they are severed from the
letterpress which they were intended to illustrate is of the less
importance, because they seem all to be illustrations of scenes in
romances, and it is not difficult to one who is well versed in those early
writings either to identify the subjects or to invent histories for them.
Each isolated picture affords a subject in which an expert, turning the
book over and explaining it to an amateur, would find material for a
little lecture on mediæval art and architecture, costume, and manners.

In presenting to the reader the subjects which illustrate this chapter, we
find ourselves placed by circumstances in the position of being obliged to
treat them like those scrap-book pictures of which we have spoken, viz.,
as isolated pictures, illustrating generally our subject of the Knights of
the Middle Ages, needing each its independent explanation.

The first subject represents a scene from some romance, in which the good
knight, attended by his squire, is guided by a damsel on some adventure.
As in the scene which we find in Caxton's "Prince Arthur": "And the good
knight, Sir Galahad, rode so long, till that he came that night to the
castle of Carberecke; and it befel him that he was benighted in an
hermitage. And when they were at rest there came a gentlewoman knocking
at the door, and called Sir Galahad, and so the hermit came to the door to
ask what she would. Then she called the hermit, Sir Ulfric, 'I am a
gentlewoman that would speak with the knight that is with you.' Then the
good man awaked Sir Galahad, and bade him rise and speak 'with a
gentlewoman which seemeth hath great need of you.' Then Sir Galahad went
to her, and asked what she would. 'Sir Galahad,' said she, 'I will that
you arm you and mount upon your horse and follow me, for I will show you
within these three days the highest adventure that ever knight saw.' Anon,
Sir Galahad armed him, and took his horse and commended him to God, and
bade the gentlewoman go, and he would follow her there as she liked. So
the damsel rode as fast as her palfrey might gallop till that she came to
the sea."

[Illustration: _Lady, Knight, and Squire._]

Here then we see the lady ambling through the forest, and she rides as
ladies rode in the middle ages, and as they still ride, like female
centaurs, in the Sandwich Islands. She turns easily in her saddle, though
going at a good pace, to carry on an animated conversation with the
knight. He, it will be seen, is in hauberk and hood of banded mail, with
the curious ornaments called _ailettes_--little wings--at his shoulders.
He seems to have _genouillières_--knee-pieces of plate; but it is doubtful
whether he has also plate armour about the leg, or whether the artist has
omitted the lines which would indicate that the legs were, as is more
probably the case, also protected by banded mail. He wears the prick spur;
and his body-armour is protected from sun and rain by the surcoat. Behind
him prances his squire. The reader will not fail to notice the character
which the artist has thrown into his attitude and the expression of his
features. It will be seen that he is not armed, but wears the ordinary
civil costume, with a hood and hat; he carries his master's spear, and the
shield is suspended at his back by its guige or strap; its hollow shape
and the rampant lion emblazoned on it will not be overlooked.

Romance writers are sometimes accused of forgetting that their heroes are
human, and need to eat and drink and sleep. But this is hardly true of the
old romancers, who, in relating knightly adventures, did not draw upon
their imagination, but described the things which were continually
happening about them; and the illuminators in illustrating the romances
drew from the life--the life of their own day--and this it is which makes
their pictures so naive and truthful in spite of their artistic defects,
and so valuable as historical authorities. In the engraving above is a
subject which would hardly have occurred to modern romancer or
illustrator. The crowd of tents tells us that the scene is cast in the
"tented field," either of real war or of the mimic war of some great
tournament. The combat of the day is over. The modern romancer would have
dropped the curtain for the day, to be drawn up again next morning when
the trumpets of the heralds called the combatants once more to the field.
Our mediæval illuminator has given us a charming episode in the story. He
has followed the good knight to his pavilion pitched in the meadow hard
by. The knight has doffed his armour, and taken his bath, and put on his
robes of peace, and heard vespers, and gone to supper. The lighted candles
show that it is getting dusk. It is only by an artistic license that the
curtains of the tent are drawn aside to display the whole interior; in
reality they were close drawn; these curtains are striped of alternate
breadths of gay colours--gold and red and green and blue. Any one who has
seen how picturesque a common bell tent, pitched on the lawn, looks from
the outside, when one has been tempted by a fine summer evening to stay
out late and "have candles," will be able to perceive how picturesque the
striped curtains of this pavilion would be, how eminently picturesque the
group of such pavilions here indicated, with the foliage of trees overhead
and the grey walls and towers of a mediæval town in the background, with
the stars coming out one by one among the turrets and spires sharply
defined against the fading sky.

[Illustration: _Knight at Supper._]

The knight, like a good chevalier and humane master, has first seen his
war-horse groomed and fed. And what a sure evidence that the picture is
from the life is this introduction of the noble animal sharing the shelter
of the tent of his master, who waits for supper to be served. The
furniture of the table is worth looking at--the ample white table-cloth,
though the table is, doubtless, only a board on trestles; and the two
candlesticks of massive and elegant shape, show that the candlesticks now
called altar-candlesticks are only of the ordinary domestic mediæval type,
obsolete now in domestic use, but still retained, like so many other
ancient fashions, in ecclesiastical use. There, too, are the wine flagon
and cup, and the salt between them; the knife is at the knight's right
hand. We almost expect to see the squire of the last picture enter from
behind, bearing aloft in both hands a fat capon on an ample pewter

The little subject which is next engraved will enable us to introduce from
the Romance of Prince Arthur a description of an adventure and a graphic
account of the different turns and incidents of a single combat, told in
language which is rich in picturesque obsolete words. "And so they rode
forth a great while till they came to the borders of that country, and
there they found a full fair village, with a strong bridge like a
fortress.[377] And when Sir Launcelot and they were at the bridge, there
start forth before them many gentlemen and yeomen, which said, 'Fair lord,
ye may not pass over this bridge and this fortress but one of you at once,
therefore choose which of you shall enter within this bridge first.' Then
Sir Launcelot proffered himself first to enter within this bridge. 'Sir,'
said Sir La Cote Male Taile, 'I beseech you let me enter first within this
fortress, and if I speed well I will send for you, and if it happen that I
be slain there it goeth; and if so be that I am taken prisoner then may ye
come and rescue me.' 'I am loath,' said Sir Launcelot, 'to let you take
this passage.' 'Sir,' said he, 'I pray you let me put my body in this
adventure.' 'Now go your way,' said Sir Launcelot, 'and God be your
speed.' So he entered, and anon there met with him two brethren, the one
hight Sir Pleine de Force and that other hight Sir Pleine de Amours; and
anon they met with Sir La Cote Male Taile, and first Sir La Cote Male
Taile smote down Sir Pleine de Force, and soon after he smote down Sir
Pleine de Amours; and then they dressed themselves to their shields and
swords, and so they bade Sir La Cote Male Taile alight, and so he did, and
there was dashing and foining with swords. And so they began full hard to
assay Sir La Cote Male Taile, and many great wounds they gave him upon his
head and upon his breast and upon his shoulders. And as he might ever
among he gave sad strokes again. And then the two brethren traced and
traversed for to be on both hands of Sir La Cote Male Taile. But by fine
force and knightly prowess he got them afore him. And so then when he felt
himself so wounded he doubled his strokes, and gave them so many wounds
that he felled them to the earth, and would have slain them had they not
yielded them. And right so Sir La Cote Male Taile took the best horse that
there was of them two, and so rode forth his way to that other fortress
and bridge, and there he met with the third brother, whose name was Sir
Plenorius, a full noble knight, and there they justed together, and either
smote other down, horse and man, to the earth. And then they two avoided
their horses and dressed their shields and drew their swords and gave many
sad strokes, and one while the one knight was afore on the bridge and
another while the other. And thus they fought two hours and more and never
rested. Then Sir La Cote Male Taile sunk down upon the earth, for what for
wounds and what for blood he might not stand. Then the other knight had
pity of him, and said, 'Fair young knight, dismay you not, for if ye had
been fresh when ye met with me, as I was, I know well I should not have
endured so long as ye have done, and therefore for your noble deeds and
valiantness I shall show you great kindness and gentleness in all that
ever I may.' And forthwith the noble knight, Sir Plenorius, took him up in
his arms and led him into his tower. And then he commended him the more
and made him for to search him and for to stop his bleeding wounds. 'Sir,'
said Sir La Cote Male Taile, 'withdraw you from me, and hie you to yonder
bridge again, for there will meet you another manner knight than ever I
was.' Then Sir Plenorius gat his horse and came with a great spear in his
hand galloping as the hurl wind had borne him towards Sir Launcelot, and
then they began to feutre[378] their spears, and came together like
thunder, and smote either other so mightily that their horses fell down
under them; and then they avoided their horses and drew out their swords,
and like two bulls they lashed together with great strokes and foins; but
ever Sir Launcelot recovered ground upon him, and Sir Plenorius traced to
have from about him, and Sir Launcelot would not suffer that, but bore him
backer and backer, till he came nigh the gate tower, and then said Sir
Launcelot, 'I know thee well for a good knight, but wot thou well thy life
and death is in my hands, and therefore yield thou to me and thy
prisoners.' The other answered not a word, but struck mightily upon Sir
Launcelot's helm that fire sprang out of his eyes; then Sir Launcelot
doubled his strokes so thick and smote at him so mightily that he made him
to kneel upon his knees, and therewith Sir Launcelot lept upon him, and
pulled him down grovelling; then Sir Plenorius yielded him and his tower
and all his prisoners at his will, and Sir Launcelot received him and took
his troth." We must tell briefly the chivalrous sequel. Sir Launcelot
offered to Sir La Cote Male Taile all the possessions of the conquered
knight, but he refused to receive them, and begged Sir Launcelot to let
Sir Plenorius retain his livelihood on condition he would be King Arthur's
knight,--"'Full well,' said Sir Launcelot, 'so that he will come to the
court of King Arthur and become his man and his three brethren. And as for
you, Sir Plenorius, I will undertake, at the next feast, so there be a
place void, that ye shall be Knight of the Round Table.' Then Sir
Launcelot and Sir La Cote Male Taile rested them there, and then they had
merry cheer and good rest and many good games, and there were many fair
ladies." In the woodcut we see Sir La Cote Male Taile, who has just
overthrown Sir Pleine de Force at the foot of the bridge, and the
gentlemen and yeomen are looking on out of the windows and over the
battlements of the gate tower.

[Illustration: _Defending the Bridge._]

The illuminators are never tired of representing battles and sieges; and
the general impression which we gather from them is that a mediæval combat
must have presented to the lookers-on a confused _melée_ of rushing horses
and armoured men in violent action, with a forest of weapons
overhead--great swords, and falchions, and axes, and spears, with pennons
fluttering aloft here and there in the breeze of the combat. We almost
fancy we can see the dust caused by the prancing horses, and hear the
clash of weapons and the hoarse war-cries, and sometimes can almost hear
the shriek which bursts from the maddened horse, or the groan of the man
who is wounded and helpless under the trampling hoofs. The woodcut
introduced represents such a scene in a very spirited way. But it is
noticeable among a hundred similar scenes for one incident, which is very
unusual, and which gives us a glimpse of another aspect of mediæval war.
It will be seen that the combat is taking place outside a castle or
fortified town; and that, on a sudden, in the confusion of the combat, a
side gate has been opened, and the bridge lowered, and a solid column of
men-at-arms, on foot, is marching in military array across the bridge, in
order to turn the flank of the assailant chivalry. We do not happen to
know a representation of this early age of anything so thoroughly
soldierly in its aspect as this sally. The incident itself indicates
something more like regular war than the usual confused mingling of
knights so well represented on the left side of the picture. The fact of
men-at-arms, armed _cap-a-pied_, acting on foot, is not very usual at
this period; their unmistakable military order, as they march two and two
with shields held in the same attitude and spears sloped at the same
angle, speaks of accurate drill. The armorial bearings on the shield of
one of the foremost rank perhaps point out the officer in command.

[Illustration: _A Sally across the Drawbridge._]

It seems to be commonly assumed that the soldiers of the Middle Ages had
little, if anything, like our modern drill and tactics; that the men were
simply put into the field in masses, according to some rude initial plan
of the general, but that after the first charge the battle broke up into a
series of chance-medley combats, in which the leaders took a personal
share; and that the only further piece of generalship consisted in
bringing up a body of reserve to strengthen a corps which was giving
ground, or to throw an overwhelming force upon some corps of the enemy
which seemed to waver.

It is true that we find very little information about the mediæval drill
or tactics, but it is very possible that there was more of both than is
commonly supposed. Any man whose duty it was to marshal and handle a body
of troops would very soon, even if left to his own wit, invent enough of
drill to enable him to move his men about from place to place, and to put
them into the different formations necessary to enable them effectively to
act on the offensive or defensive under different circumstances. A leader
whose duty it was to command several bodies of troops would invent the
elements of tactics, enough to enable him to combine them in a general
plan of battle, and to take advantage of the different turns of the fight.
Experience would rapidly ripen the knowledge of military men, and of
experience they had only too much. It is true that the armies of mediæval
England consisted chiefly of levies of men who were not professional
soldiers, and the officers and commanders were marked out for leadership
by their territorial possessions, not by their military skill. But the men
were not unaccustomed to their weapons, and were occasionally mustered for
feudal display; and the country gentlemen who officered them were trained
to military exercises as a regular part of their education, and, we may
assume, to so much of military skill as was necessary to fulfil their part
as knights. Then there were mercenary captains, who by continuous devotion
to war acquired great knowledge and experience in all military affairs;
and the men who had to do with them, either as friends or foes, learnt
from them. We need only glance down the line of our kings to find
abundance of great captains among them--William the Conqueror, and
Stephen, and Richard I., and Edward I. and III., and Henry IV. and V., and
Edward IV., and Richard III. And military skill equal to the direction of
armies was no less common among the nobility; and ability to take command
of his own contingent was expected of every one who held his lands on
condition of being always ready and able to follow his lord's banner to
the field.

In the Saxon days the strength of the army seems to have consisted of
footmen, and their formation was generally in close and deep ranks, who,
joining their shoulders together, formed an impenetrable defence; wielding
long heavy swords and battle-axes, they made a terrible assault. Some
insight into the tactics of the age is given by William of Malmesbury's
assertion that at Hastings the Normans made a feigned flight, which drew
the Saxons from their close array, and then turning upon them, took them
at advantage; and repeated this manoeuvre more than once at the word of

The strength of the Norman armies, on the other hand, consisted of knights
and mounted men-at-arms. The military engines were placed in front, and
commenced the engagement with their missiles; the archers and slingers
were placed on the wings. The crowd of half-armed footmen usually formed
the first line; the mounted troops were drawn up behind them in three
lines, whose successive charges formed the main attack of the engagement.
Occasionally, however, dismounted men-at-arms seem to have been used by
some skilful generals with great effect. In several of the battles of
Stephen's reign, this unusual mode appears to have been followed, under
the influence of the foreign mercenary captains in the king's pay.

Generals took pains to secure any possible advantage from the nature of
the ground, and it follows that the plan of the battle must have turned
sometimes on the defence or seizure of some commanding point which formed
the key of the position. Ambuscades were a favourite device of which we
not unfrequently read, and night surprises were equally common. We read
also occasionally of stratagems, especially in the capture of fortresses,
which savour rather of romance than of the stem realities of war. In
short, perhaps the warfare of that day was not so very inferior in
military skill to that of our own times as some suppose. In our last war
the charge at Balaklava was as chivalrous a deed as ever was done in the
Middle Ages, and Inkerman a fight of heroes; but neither of them displayed
more military science than was displayed by the Norman chivalry who
charged at Hastings, or the Saxon billmen whose sturdy courage all but won
the fatal day.



To attempt to represent the knights in their manor-houses and castles
would be to enter upon an essay on the domestic and military architecture
of the Middle Ages, which would be beyond the plan of these sketches of
the mediæval chivalry. The student may find information on the subject in
Mr. Parker's "Domestic Architecture," in Grose's "Military Antiquities,"
in Viollet le Duc's "Architecture du Moyen Age," and scattered over the
publications of the various antiquarian and architectural societies. We
must, however, say a few words as to the way in which the knight defended
his castle when attacked in it, and how he attacked his neighbour's castle
or his enemy's town, in private feud or public war.

It seems to be a common impression that the most formidable aspect of
mediæval war was a charge of knights with vizor down and lance in rest;
and that these gallant cavaliers only pranced their horses round and round
the outer margin of the moat of a mediæval castle, or if they did dismount
and try to take the fortress by assault, would rage in vain against its
thick walls and barred portcullis; as in the accompanying woodcut from a
MS. romance of the early part of the 14th century (Add. 10,292, f. v.,
date A.D. 1316), where the king on his curveting charger couches his lance
against the castle wall, and has only his shield to oppose to the great
stone which is about to be hurled down upon his head. The impression is,
no doubt, due to the fact that many people have read romances, ancient and
modern, which concern themselves with the personal adventures of their
heroes, but have not read mediæval history, which tells--even more than
enough--of battles and sieges. They have only had the knight put before
them--as in the early pages of these chapters--in the pomp and pageantry
of chivalry. They have not seen him as the captain and soldier, directing
and wielding the engines of war.

Suppose the king and his chivalry in the following woodcut to be only
summoning the castle; and suppose them, on receiving a refusal to
surrender, to resolve upon an assault. They retire a few hundred yards and
dismount, and put their horses under the care of a guard. Presently they
return supported by a strong body of archers, who ply the mail-clad
defenders with such a hail of arrows that they are driven to seek shelter
behind the battlements. Seizing that moment, a party of camp followers run
forward with a couple of planks, which they throw over the moat to make a
temporary bridge. They are across in an instant, and place scaling-ladders
against the walls. The knights, following close at their heels, mount
rapidly, each man carrying his shield over his head, so that the bare
ladder is converted into a covered stair, from whose shield-roof arrows
glint and stones roll off innocuous. It is easy to see that a body of the
enemy might thus, in a few minutes, effect a lodgment on the castle-wall,
and open a way for the whole party of assailants into the interior.

[Illustration: _Summoning the Castle._]

But the assailed may succeed in throwing down the ladders; or in beating
the enemy off them by hurling down great stones ready stored against such
an emergency, or heaving the coping-stones off the battlements; or they
may succeed in preventing the assailants from effecting a lodgment on the
wall by a hand to hand encounter; and thus the assault may be foiled and
beaten off. Still our mediæval captain has other resources; he will next
order up his "gyns," _i.e._ engines of war.

The name applies chiefly to machines constructed for the purpose of
hurling heavy missiles. The ancient nations of antiquity possessed such
machines, and the knowledge of them descended to mediæval times. There
seems, however, to be this great difference between the classical and the
mediæval engines, that the former were constructed on the principle of the
bow, the latter on the principle of the sling. The classical _ballista_
was, in fact, a huge cross-bow, made in a complicated way and worked by
machinery. The mediæval _trebuchet_ was a sling wielded by a gigantic arm
of wood. In mediæval Latin the ancient name of the ballista is sometimes
found, but in the mediæval pictures the principle of the engines
illustrated is always that which we have described. We meet also in
mediæval writings with the names of the _mangona_ and _mangonella_ and the
_catapult_, but they were either different names for the same engine, or
names for different species of the same genus. The woodcut here
introduced from the MS. Add. 10,294, f. 81 V., gives a representation of a
trebuchet. A still earlier representation--viz., of the thirteenth
century--of machines of the same kind is to be found in the Arabic MS.
quoted in a treatise, "Du feu Grégois," by MM. Favé and Reinaud, and leads
to the supposition that the sling principle in these machines may have
been introduced from the East. There are other representations of a little
later date than that in the text (viz., about A.D. 1330) in the Royal MS.
16 G. VI., which are engraved in Shaw's "Dresses and Decorations." We also
possess a contemporary description of the machine in the work of Gilles
Colonne (who died A.D. 1316), written for Philip the Fair of France.[379]
"Of _perriers_," he says, "there are four kinds, and in all these machines
there is a beam which is raised and lowered by means of a counterpoise, a
sling being attached to the end of the beam to discharge the stone.
Sometimes the counterpoise is not sufficient, and then they attach ropes
to it to move the beam." This appears to be the case in our illustration.
The rope seems to be passed through a ring in the platform of the engine,
so that the force applied to the rope acts to the greater advantage in aid
of the weight of the beam. "The counterpoise may either be fixed or
movable, or both at once. In the fixed counterpoise a box is fastened to
the end of the beam, and filled with stones or sand, or any heavy body."
One would not, perhaps, expect such a machine to possess any precision of
action, but according to our author the case was far otherwise. "These
machines," he continues, "anciently called _trabutium_, cast their
missiles with the utmost exactness, because the weight acts in a uniform
manner. Their aim is so sure, that one may, so to say, hit a needle. If
the gyn carries too far, it must be drawn back or loaded with a heavier
stone; if the contrary, then it must be advanced or a smaller stone
supplied; for without attention to the weight of the stone, one cannot
hope to reach the given mark." "Others of these machines have a movable
counterpoise attached to the beam, turning upon an axis. This variety the
Romans called _biffa_. The third kind, which is called _tripantum_, has
two weights, one fixed to the beam and the other movable round it. By this
means it throws with more exactness than the _biffa_, and to a greater
distance than the trebuchet. The fourth sort, in lieu of weights fixed to
the beam, has a number of ropes, and is discharged by means of men pulling
simultaneously at the cords. This last kind does not cast such large
stones as the others, but it has the advantage that it may be more rapidly
loaded and discharged than they. In using the perriers by night it is
necessary to attach a lighted body to the projectile. By this means one
may discover the force of the machine, and regulate the weight of the
stone accordingly."[380] This, then, is the engine which our captain,
repulsed in his attempt to take the place by a _coup de main_, has ordered
up, adjusting it, no doubt, like a good captain, with his own eye and
hand, until he has got it, "so to say, to hit a needle," on the weak
points of the place. It was usual in great sieges to have several of them,
so that a whole battery might be set to work to overmaster the defence.

[Illustration: _The Assault._]

We must bear in mind that similar engines were, it is probable, usually
mounted on the towers of the castle. We should judge from the roundness of
the stones which the defenders in both the preceding woodcuts are throwing
down by hand upon the enemy immediately beneath, that they are the stones
provided for the military engines. We find that, as in modern times cannon
is set to silence the cannon of the enemy, so that a battle becomes, for a
time at least, an artillery duel, so engine was set to silence engine. In
the account which Guillaume des Ormes gives of his defence of the French
town of Carcasonne in 1240 A.D., he says: "They set up a mangonel before
our barbican, when we lost no time in opposing to it from within an
excellent Turkish petrary, which played upon the mangonel and those about
it, so that when they essayed to cast upon us, and saw the beam of our
petrary in motion, they fled, utterly abandoning their mangonel."

There was also an engine called an _arbalast_, or _spurgardon_, or
_espringale_, which was a huge cross-bow mounted on wheels, so as to be
movable like a field-piece; it threw great pointed bolts with such force
as to pass successively through several men.

If the engines of the besiegers were silenced, or failed to produce any
decisive impression on the place, the captain of the assailants might try
the effect of the ram. We seldom, indeed, hear of its use in the Middle
Ages, but one instance, at least, is recorded by Richard of Devizes, who
says that Richard I., at the siege of Messina, forced in the gates of the
city by the application of the battering-ram, and so won his way into the
place, and captured it. The walls of mediæval fortifications were so
immensely thick, that a ram would be little likely to break them. The
gates, too, of a castle or fortified gate-tower were very strong. If the
reader will look at the picture of a siege of a castle, given on page 373,
he will see a representation of a castle-gate, which will help him to
understand its defences. First he will see that the drawbridge is raised,
so that the assailant has to bridge the moat before he can bring his
battering-ram to bear. Suppose the yawning gulf bridged with planks or
filled in with fascines, and the ram brought into position, under fire
from the loops of the projecting towers of the gate as well as from the
neighbouring battlements, then the bridge itself forms an outer door which
must first be battered down. Behind it will be found the real outer-door,
made as strong as oak timber and iron bolts can make it. That down, there
is next the grated portcullis seen in two previous woodcuts, against which
the ram would rattle with a great clang of iron; but the grating, with its
wide spaces, and having plenty of "play" in its stone groove, would baffle
the blows by the absence of a solid resistance, and withstand them by the
tenacity of wrought-iron. Even if the bars were bent and torn till they
afforded a passage, the assailants would find themselves in the narrow
space within the gate-tower confronted by another door, and exposed to
missiles poured upon them from above. It is, perhaps, no wonder that we
hear little of the use of the ram in mediæval times; though it might be
useful occasionally to drive in some ill-defended postern.

The use of the regular mine for effecting a breach in the wall of a
fortified place was well known, and often brought to bear. The miners
began their work at some distance, and drove a shaft underground towards
the part of the fortifications which seemed most assailable; they
excavated beneath the foundations of the wall, supporting the substructure
with wooden props until they had finished their work. Then they set fire
to the props, and retired to see the unsupported weight of the wall
bringing it down in a heap of ruins. The operation of mining was usually
effected under the protection of a temporary pent-house, called a _cat_ or
_sow_. William of Malmesbury describes the machine as used in the siege of
Jerusalem, at the end of the eleventh century. "It is constructed," he
says, "of slight timbers, the roof covered with boards and wicker-work,
and the sides protected with undressed hides, to protect those who are
within, who proceed to undermine the foundations of the walls." Our next
woodcut gives a very clear illustration of one of these machines, which
has been moved on its wheels up to the outer wall of a castle, and beneath
its protection a party of men-at-arms are energetically plying their
miner's tools, to pick away the foundation, and so allow a portion of the
wall to settle down and leave an entrance. The methods in which this mode
of attack was met were various. We all remember the Border heroine, who,
when her castle was thus attacked, declared she would make the sow farrow,
viz., by casting down a huge fragment of stone upon it. That this was one
way of defence is shown in the woodcut, where one of the defenders, with
energetic action, is casting down a huge stone upon the sow. That the roof
was made strong enough to resist such a natural means of offence is shown
by the stones which are represented as lodged all along it. Another more
subtle counteraction, shown in the woodcut, was to pour boiling water or
boiling oil upon it, that it might fall through the interstices of the
roof, and make the interior untenable. No doubt means were taken to make
the roof liquid-tight, for the illustration represents another mode of
counteraction (of which we have met with no other suggestion), by driving
sharp-pointed piles into the roof, so as to make holes and cracks through
which the boiling liquid might find an entrance. If these means of
counteracting the work of the cat seemed likely to be unavailing, it still
remained to throw up an inner line of wall, which, when the breach was
made, should extend from one side to the other of the unbroken wall, and
so complete the circumvallation. This, we have evidence, was sometimes
done with timber and planks, and a sort of scaffolding was erected on the
inner side, which maintained the communication along the top of the walls,
and enabled the soldiers to man the top of this wooden wall and offer a
new resistance to the besiegers as they poured into the breach. The mine
was also, in ancient as in modern times, met by a counter-mine.

[Illustration: _The Cat._ (Royal, 16 G VI.)]

Another usual machine for facilitating the siege of fortified places was a
movable tower. Such an engine was commonly prepared beforehand, and taken
to pieces and transported with the army as a normal part of the
siege-train. When arrived at the scene of operations, it was put together
at a distance, and then pushed forward on wheels, until it confronted the
walls of the place against which it was to operate. It was intended to put
the besiegers on a level and equality with the besieged. From the roof the
assailants could command the battlements and the interior of the place,
and by their archers could annoy the defence. A movable part of the front
of the tower suddenly let fall upon the opposite battlements, at once
opened a door and formed a bridge, by which the besiegers could make a
rush upon the walls and effect a lodgment if successful, or retreat if
unsuccessful to their own party.

Such a tower was constructed by Richard I. in Cyprus, as part of his
preparation for his Crusade. An illustration of a tower thus opposed to a
castle--not a very good illustration--is to be found in the Royal MS., 16
G. VI., at folio 278 v. Another, a great square tower, just level with the
opposing battlements, with a kind of sloping roof to ward off missiles, is
shown in the MS. _Chroniques d'Angleterres_ (Royal 16, E. IV.), which was
illuminated for Edward IV. Again, at f. 201 of the same MS., is another
representation of wooden towers opposed to a city.

If the besieged could form a probable conjecture as to the point of the
walls towards which the movable tower, whose threatening height they saw
gradually growing at a bow-shot from their walls, would be ultimately
directed, they sometimes sent out under cover of night and dug pitfalls,
into which, as its huge bulk was rolled creaking forward, its fore wheels
might suddenly sink, and so the machine fall forward, and remain fixed and
useless. As it approached, they also tried to set it on fire by missiles
tipped with combustibles. If it fairly attained its position, they
assailed every loop and crevice in it with arrows and crossbow bolts, and
planted a strong body of men-at-arms on the walls opposite to it, and in
the neighbouring towers, to repel the "boarders" in personal combat. A
bold and enterprising captain did not always wait for the approach of
these engines of assault, but would counter-work them as he best could
from the shelter of his walls. He would sometimes lower the drawbridge,
and make a sudden sally upon the unfinished tower or the advancing sow,
beat off the handful of men who were engaged about it, pile up the
fragments and chips lying about, pour a few pots of oil or tar over the
mass, and set fire to it, and return in triumph to watch from his
battlements how his fiery ally would, in half an hour, destroy his enemy's
work of half a month. In the early fourteenth century MS. Add. 10,294, at
fol. 740, we have a small picture of a fight before a castle or town, in
which we see a column of men-at-arms crossing the drawbridge on such an
expedition. And again, in the plates in which Hans Burgmaier immortalised
the events of the reign of the Emperor Maximilian, a very artistic
representation of a body of men-at-arms, with their long lances, crowding
through the picturesque gate and over the drawbridge, brings such an
incident vividly before us.

The besiegers on their part did not neglect to avail themselves of such
shelter as they could find or make from the shot and from the sallies of
the enemy, so as to equalise as much as practicable the conditions of the
contest. The archers of the castle found shelter behind the merlons of the
battlements, and had the windows from which they shot screened by movable
shutters; as may be seen in the next woodcut of the assault on a castle.
It would have put the archers of the assailants at a great disadvantage if
they had had to stand out in the open space, exposed defenceless to the
aim of the foe; all neighbouring trees which could give shelter were, of
course, cut down, in order to reduce them to this defenceless condition,
and works were erected so as to command every possible coigne of vantage
which the nooks and angles of the walls might have afforded. But the
archers of the besiegers sought to put themselves on more equal terms with
their opponents by using the _pavis_ or _mantelet_. The pavis was a tall
shield, curved so as partly to envelop the person of the bearer, broad at
the top and tapering to the feet. We sometimes see cross-bowmen carrying
it slung at their backs (as in Harl. 4,379, and Julius E. IV., f. 219,
engraved on p. 294), so that after discharging a shot they could turn
round and be sheltered by the great shield while they wound up their
instrument for another shot. Sometimes this shield seems to have been
simply three planks of wood nailed together, which stood upright on the
ground, and protected the soldier effectively on three sides. There are
illustrations of it in the MS. Royal 20 C vii. (temp. Rich. II.), at f.
19, f. 24 v., and f. 29 v., and in the MS. Harl. 4,382, f. 133 v. and f.
154 v. The mantelet was a shield still more ample, and capable of being
fixed upright by a prop, so that it formed a kind of little movable fort
which the bowman, or man-at-arms, could carry out and plant before the
walls, and thence discharge his missiles, or pursue any other operation,
in comparative safety from the smaller artillery of the enemy. The most
interesting example which we have met of the employment of the pavis and
mantelet, is in a picture in the Harl. MS. 4,425, at f. 133. The woodcut
on the previous page represents only a portion of the picture, the whole
of which is well worth study. The reader will see at once that we have
here the work of a draughtsman of far superior skill to that of the
limners of the rude illuminations which we have previously given. The
background really gives us some adequate idea of the appearance of an
Edwardian castle with its barbican and drawbridge, its great tower with
the heads of the defenders just peeping over the battlements. We must call
attention to the right-hand figure in the foreground, who is clad in a
_pourpoint_, one of the quilted armours which we have formerly described,
because it is the best illustration of this species of armour we have met
with. But the special point for which we give the woodcut here, is to
illustrate the use of the mantelet. It will be seen--though somewhat
imperfectly, from the fragment of the engraving introduced--that these
defences have been brought up to the front of the attacking party in such
numbers as to form an almost continuous wall, behind which the men-at-arms
are sheltered; on the right are great fixed mantelets, with a hole in the
middle of each, through which the muzzle of a gun is thrust; while the
cannoniers work their guns as behind the walls of a fort.

[Illustration: _Use of the Pavis, etc._]

[Illustration: _Cannon and Mortar._]

Similar movable defences, variously constructed, continued to be used down
to a very late period. For example, in some large plans of the array of
the army of Henry VIII., preserved in the British Museum (Cottonian MS.,
Augustus III., f. 1 v.), the cannon are flanked by huge mantelets of
timber, which protect the cannoniers. In the one engraved between pp. 454
and 455, we see a representation of the commencement of the battle,
showing some of the mantelets overthrown by the assault of soldiers armed
with poleaxes. In modern warfare the sharpshooter runs out into the open,
carrying a sand-bag by way of pavis, behind which he lies and picks off
the enemy, and the artillery throw up a little breastwork, or mantelet, of

Sometimes the besieging army protected itself by works of a still more
permanent kind. It threw up embankments with a pallisade at top, or
sometimes constructed a breastwork, or erected a fort, of timber. For
example, in the Royal MS. 14 E. IV., at f. 14, we have a picture of an
assault upon a fortified place, in which the besiegers have strengthened
their position by a timber breastwork. It is engraved at p. 443; the whole
picture is well worth study. Again, in the Cottonian MS., Augustus V., at
folio 266, is a camp with a wooden fence round it.

An army in the field often protected its position in a similar way. So far
back as the eleventh century the historians tell us that William the
Conqueror brought over a timber fort with him to aid his operations. The
plan of surrounding the camp with the waggons and baggage of the army is
perhaps one of the most primitive devices of warfare, and we find it used
down to the end of the period which is under our consideration. In the MS.
already mentioned, Augustus III., on the reverse of folio 4, is a picture
of an army of the time of Henry VIII. encamped by a river, and enclosed on
the open sides by the baggage, and by flat-bottomed boats on their
carriages, which we suppose have been provided for the passage of the

The siege of Bedford Castle, as described by Roger Wendover, in the year
1224, gives a good historical instance of the employment of these various
modes of attacking a stronghold at that period. The castle was being held
against the king, who invested it in person. Two towers of wood were
raised against the walls, and filled with archers; seven mangonels cast
ponderous stones from morning to night; sappers approached the walls under
the cover of the cat. First the barbican, then the outer bailey was taken.
A breach in the second wall soon after gave the besiegers admission to the
inner bailey. The donjon still held out, and the royalists proceeded to
approach it by means of their sappers. A sufficient portion of the
foundations having been removed, the stancheons were set on fire, one of
the angles sank deep into the ground, and a wide rent laid open the
interior of the keep. The garrison now planted the royal standard on the
walls, and sent the women to implore mercy. But a severe example was made
of the defenders, in order to strike terror among the disaffected in other
parts of the realm.[381]

[Illustration: _Cannon._]

Among the occasional warlike contrivances, stinkpots were employed to
repel the enemy, and the Greek fire was also occasionally used. A
representation of the use of stinkpots, and also of the mode of using the
Greek fire, may be seen in the Royal MS. 18 E. V., at f. 207 (date 1473

Those more terrible engines of war which ultimately revolutionised the
whole art of warfare, which made the knight's armour useless, and the
trebuchet and arbalest the huge toys of an unscientific age, were already
introduced; though they were yet themselves so immature, that for a time
military men disputed whether the old long bow or the new fire-arm was the
better weapon, and the trebuchet still held its place beside the cannon.
In the old illuminations we find mediæval armour and fire-arms together in
incongruous conjunction. The subject of the use of gunpowder is one of so
much interest, that it deserves to be treated in a separate chapter.



In former papers we have seen the characteristic feature of the armour of
Saxon, Norman, and Early English times, down to the latter part of the
thirteenth century, was that of mail armour--_i.e._ composed of rings sewn
upon garments of something like the ordinary shape--tunic, hose, and
hood--or linked together into the shape of such garments. The fourteenth
century was a period of transition from mail armour to plate. First it was
found convenient to protect the elbow and knee with conical caps made out
of a plate of steel; then the upper arm and fore arm, the thigh and leg,
were encased in separate pieces of armour made to fit to the limbs; in
place of the old helmet worn over the mail hood, a globular bascinet of
plate was used, with a fringe of mail attached to it, falling over the
shoulders; in place of the hauberk of mail, a globular plate to protect
the breast, and another the back, connected at the sides, with a deep
skirt of mail attached to them, falling over the hips. In the old days of
mail armour a flowing surcoat was worn over it, to protect it from wet,
dust, and the heat of the sun; in the fourteenth century the body-armour
was covered with a close-fitting jupon of rich material and colour,
embroidered with the arms of the wearer, and girded by a rich enamelled
horizontal belt.

The characteristic of the armour of the fifteenth century was that it
consisted of a complete suit of plate; the fringe of the bascinet being
replaced by a gorget of plate, the skirt of mail by horizontal overlapping
plates; and for some time no covering was worn over the armour, but the
knightly vanity of the time delighted in the glittering splendour of the
burnished steel. Later in the century, however, mail came again into
considerable use, in short sleeves for the protection of the upper arm,
and in skirts, which were doubtless found more convenient to the horseman
than the solid plates of overlapping steel. It also seems to have been
found practically inconvenient to dispense with some textile covering over
the armour; and a considerable variety of such coverings was used,
according to the caprice of the wearer. Numerous diversified experiments
in the construction of armour were tried, and we commonly find in pictures
of the time a great variety of fashions, both of armour and weapons,
brought together in the same troop of warriors. It is a matter of interest
to the antiquary to trace out the rise of all these various fashions and
to determine when they went out of fashion again; but for our present
purpose it is enough to point out the salient features of the military
costume of the century, and, as varieties are brought before us in the
illustrations from ancient MSS. which we proceed to introduce to our
readers, to point out their meaning and interest. Let us begin, then, with
a picture which will afford us, in the left-hand figure, a typical
illustration of the complete plate-armour of the century, and proceed to
describe the various pieces of which it is composed. His head is protected
by a bascinet of steel, without visor to protect the face, though the
picture represents him as actually engaged in the thick of a battle; but
the steel gorget is brought up so as to protect the lower part of the
face. It is not unfrequent to find the knights of this period with the
face similarly exposed. Probably the heat and the difficulty of breathing
caused by the visor were considered to outweigh the additional safety
which it afforded. The neck is protected by a gorget of plate; and instead
of the globular breastplate and skirt of mail worn under the gay jupon of
the fourteenth century, the body is cased in two pairs of plates, which
open with hinges at the sides, the lower plates coming to a point at the
back and breast. In this illustration the whole suit of armour presents an
unrelieved surface of burnished steel, the outlines of the various pieces
of armour being marked by a narrow line of gold. But it was very usual for
one of the two breastplates to be covered with silk or velvet embroidered.
This will be seen in the armour of the archer from the same picture, in
which the upper plate is covered with blue, powdered with gold spots
arranged in trefoils. So in the woodcut on p. 399 the upper breastplate of
the knight nearest to the spectator is blue with gold spots, while in the
further knight the upper plate is red. Turning again to the knight before
us, his shoulders are protected by pauldrons. These portions of the armour
differ much in different examples; they were often ridged, so as to
prevent a blow from glancing off to the neck, and sometimes they have a
kind of standing collar to protect the neck from a direct stroke.
Sometimes the pauldron of the left shoulder is elaborately enlarged and
strengthened to resist a blow, while the right shoulder is more simply and
lightly armed, so as to offer as little hindrance as possible to the
action of the sword arm. The upper arm is protected by brassarts, and the
fore arm by vambraces, the elbows by coudières, while the gussets at the
armpit and elbow are further guarded by roundels of plate. It will be seen
that the gauntlets are not divided into fingers, but three or four plates
are attached, like the plates of a lobster, to the outside of a leathern
gauntlet, to protect the hand without interfering with the tenacity of
its grasp of the weapon. The lower part of the body is protected by a
series of overlapping plates, called taces. In most of the examples which
we give of this period, the taces have a mail skirt or fringe attached to
the lowest plate. Sometimes the taces came lower down over the thighs and
rendered any further defence unnecessary; sometimes, as in the example
before us, separate plates, called tuilles, were attached by straps to the
lowest tace, so as to protect the front of the thigh without interfering
with the freedom of motion. The legs are cased in cuissarts and jambarts,
and the knee protected by genouillières; and as the tuilles strengthen the
defence of the thigh, the shin has an extra plate for its more efficient
defence. The feet seem in this example to be simply clothed with shoes,
like those of the archer, instead of being defended by pointed sollerets
of overlapping plates, like those seen in our other illustrations.

[Illustration: _Man-at-Arms and Archer of the Fifteenth Century._]

It will be noticed that in place of the broad military belt of the
fourteenth century, enriched with enamelled plates, the sword is now
suspended by a narrow strap, which hangs diagonally across the body.

The knight is taken from a large picture in the MS. _Chroniques
d'Angleterre_ (Royal 14, E. IV., f. 192 v.), which represents a party of
French routed by a body of Portuguese and English. In front of the knight
lies his horse pierced with several arrows, and the dismounted rider is
preparing to continue the combat on foot with his formidable axe. The
archer is introduced from the same picture, to show the difference between
his half armour and the complete panoply of the knight. In the archer's
equipment the body is protected by plates of steel and a skirt of mail,
the upper arm by a half-sleeve of mail, and the head by a visored helmet;
but the rest of the body is unarmed.

Our next illustration is from a fine picture in the same MS. (at f.
ccxv.), which represents how the Duke of Lancaster and his people attacked
the forts that defended the harbour of Brest. The background represents a
walled and moated town--Brest--with the sea and ships in the distance; on
the left of the picture the camp of the duke, defended by cannon; and in
the foreground a skirmish of knights. It is a curious illustration of the
absence of rigid uniformity in the military equipment of these times,
that each suit of armour in this picture differs from every other; so that
this one picture supplies the artist with fourteen or fifteen different
examples of military costume, all clearly delineated with a gorgeous
effect of colouring. Some of these suits are sufficiently represented in
others of our illustrations. We have again selected one which stands in
contrast with all the rest from the absence of colour; most of the others
have the upper breastplate coloured, and the helmet unvisored, or with the
visor raised. This gives us a full suit of armour unrelieved by colour,
except in the helmet-feather, sword-belt, and sheath, which are all gilt.
The unusual shape of the helmet will be noticed, and it will be seen that
there is a skirt or fringe of mail below the taces. The horse is a grey,
with trappings of red and gold, his head protected by a steel plate. In
the cut on p. 403 one of the horses will be found to have the neck also
defended by overlapping plates of steel. The shape of the deep military
saddle is also well seen in this illustration.

[Illustration: _Knight of the Fifteenth Century._]

The next woodcut is also only a part of a large picture which forms the
frontispiece of the second book of the same MS. (f. lxii.). It represents
a sally of the garrison of Nantes on the English, who are besieging it.
Like the preceding picture, it is full of interesting examples of
different armours. Our illustration selects several of them. The knight
nearest to us has the upper plate of his breastplate covered with a blue
covering powdered with gold spots, and riveted to the steel plate beneath
by the two steel studs on the shoulder-blades. Between the series of
narrow taces and the vandyked fringe of mail is a skirt of blue drapery,
which perhaps partially hides the skirt of mail, allowing only its edge to
appear. The gorget is also of mail; and the gusset of mail at the armpit
is left very visible by the action of the arm. The further knight has his
upper breastplate and skirt red. The horses are also contrasted in colour;
the nearer horse is grey, with red and gold trappings; the further horse
black, with blue and gold trappings. The man-at-arms who lies prostrate
under the horse-hoofs is one of the garrison, who has been pierced by the
spear whose truncheon lies on the ground beside him. His equipment marks
him out as a man of the same military grade as the archer on p. 396,
though the axe which he wields indicates that he is a man-at-arms. His
body-armour is covered by a surcoat of blue, laced down the front; he
wears a gorget and skirt of mail. His feet, like those of the men on p.
396, seem not to be covered with armour, and his hands are undefended by

[Illustration: _Group of English Knights and French Men-at-Arms._]

The unarmed man on the left is one of the English party, in ordinary civil
costume, apparently only a spectator of the attack. His hose are red, his
long-pointed shoes brown, his short-skirted but long-sleeved gown is blue,
worn over a vest of embroidered green and gold, which is seen at the
sleeves and the neck; the cuffs are red, and he wears a gold chain and
gilded sword-belt and sheath, and carries a walking staff. The contrast
which he affords to the other figures adds interest and picturesqueness to
the group.

The illustration on the next page from the Royal MS., 18 E. V., f. 310 v.,
forms the frontispiece to a chapter of Roman History, and is a mediæval
representation of no less a personage than Julius Cæsar crossing the
Rubicon. The foremost figure is Cæsar. He is in a complete suit of
plate-armour; over his armour he wears a very curious drapery like a short
tabard without sleeves; it is of a yellow brown colour, but of what
material it is not possible to determine. There is great diversity in the
fashion of the surcoat worn over the armour at this time. One variety is
seen in the fallen man-at-arms in the preceding woodcut; and a similar
surcoat, loosely fastened by three or four buttons down the front, instead
of tightly laced all the way down, is not uncommon. In another picture, a
knight in full plate-armour wears a short gown, with hanging sleeves, of
the ordinary civilian fashion, like that worn by the gentleman on the
left-hand side of the preceding cut. Out of a whole troop of Roman
soldiers who follow Cæsar, we have taken only two as sufficient for our
purpose of showing varieties of equipment. The first has the fore arm
protected by a vambrace, but instead of pauldrons and brassarts the
shoulders and arms are protected by sleeves of mail. The taces also are
short, with a deep skirt of mail below them. The head defence looks in the
woodcut like one of the felt hats that knights frequently wore when
travelling, to relieve the head of the weight of the helmet, which was
borne behind by a squire; but it is coloured blue, and seems to be of
steel, with a white bandeau round it. The reader will notice the "rest" in
which the lance was laid to steady it in the charge, screwed to the right
breast of the breastplate; he will notice also the long-pointed solleret,
the long neck of the spur, and the triangular stirrup, and the fashion of
riding with a long stirrup, the foot thrust home into the stirrup, and the
toe pointed downwards. The third figure wears a gorget with a chin-piece,
and a visored bascinet; the whole of his body armour is covered by a
handsome pourpoint, which is red, powdered with gold spots; the pauldrons
are of a different fashion from those of Cæsar, and the coudière is
finished with a spike.

[Illustration: _Julius Cæsar crossing the Rubicon._]

The next woodcut does less justice than usual to the artistic merits of
the illumination from which it is taken. It is from a fine MS. of the
Romance of the Rose (Harl. 4,925, folio cxxx. v.); the figures are
allegorical. The great value of the painting is in the rounded form of the
breastplates and helmets, and the play of light and shade, and variety of
tint, upon them; the solid heavy folds of the mail skirts and sleeves are
also admirably represented; and altogether the illuminations of this MS
give an unusually life-like idea of the actual pictorial effect of steel
armour and the accompanying trappings. The arms and legs of these two
figures are unarmed; those of the figure in the foreground are painted
red, those of the other figure blue; the shield is red, with gold letters.
The deep mail skirts, with taces and tuilles, were in common wear at the
close of the fifteenth century, and on into the sixteenth.

[Illustration: _Allegorical Figures._]

[Illustration: _A Knight at the hall-door._]

The little woodcut of a knight at the hall-door illustrates another
variety of skirt; in place of taces and mail skirt, we have a skirt
covered with overlapping plates, probably of horn or metal. This knight
wears gloves of leather, undefended by armour.

The last illustration in this chapter is from the valuable MS. Life and
Acts of Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick (Julius E. IV.), from which we
shall hereafter give some other more important subjects. The present is
part of a fight before Calais, in which Philip Duke of Burgundy was
concerned on one side, and Humphrey Duke of Gloucester, Richard Earl of
Warwick, and Humphrey Earl of Stafford on the other. In the background of
the picture is a view of Calais, with its houses, walls, and towers,
washed by the sea. The two figures are taken from the foreground of the
battle-scene, which occupies the major part of the picture. The helmets,
it will be seen, are iron hats with a wide brim which partially protects
the face; they have a considerable amount of ornament about them. Both
warriors are armed in a single globular breastplate (the combination of
two plates went out of fashion towards the end of the fifteenth century);
one has short taces and a deep mail skirt, the other has deeper taces and
tuilles besides. The knight on the left side has his left shoulder
protected by a pauldron, which covers the shoulder and partially overlaps
the breastplate, and has a high collar to protect the neck and face from a
sweeping horizontal blow. It will be seen that the sollerets have lost the
long-pointed form, though they have not yet reached the broad-toed shape
which became fashionable with Henry VIII. The equipment of the horses
deserves special examination. They are fully caparisoned, and armed on the
face and neck, with plumes of feathers and magnificent bridles; it will be
seen, also, that the point of the saddle comes up very high, and is
rounded so as partly to enclose the thigh, and form a valuable additional
defence. At a period a little later, this was developed still further in
the construction of the tilting saddles, so as to make them a very
important part of the system of defence.

[Illustration: _The Duke of Gloucester and the Earl of Warwick._]

How perfect the armour at length became may be judged from the fact that
in many battles very few of the completely armed knights were
killed--sometimes not one; their great danger was in getting unhorsed and
ridden over and stifled in the press. Another danger to the unhorsed
knight is pointed out in a graphic passage of the History of Philip de
Comines, with which we will conclude this chapter. After one of the
battles at which he was himself present, he says: "We had a great number
of stragglers and servants following us, all of which flocked about the
men-of-arms being overthrown, and slew the most of them. For the greatest
part of the said stragglers had their hatchets in their hands, wherewith
they used to cut wood to make our lodgings, with the which hatchets they
brake the vizards of their head-pieces and then clave their heads; for
otherwise they could hardly have been slain, they were so surely armed, so
that there were ever three or four about one of them."

It is not necessary to infer that these unfortunate men-at-arms who were
thus cracked, as if they were huge crustaceans, were helpless from
wounds, or insensible from their fall. It was among the great
disadvantages of plate-armour, that when a man was once in it he could not
get out again without help; nay, he was sometimes so securely fastened in
it that the aid must come in the shape of an armourer's tools; and the
armour was sometimes so cumbrous that when he was once down he could not
get up again--a castle of steel on his war-horse, a helpless log when



The manner of bringing up a youth of good family in the Middle Ages was
not to send him to a public school and the university, nor to keep him at
home under a private tutor, but to put him into the household of some
nobleman or knight of reputation to be trained up in the principles and
practices of chivalry.[382] First, as a page, he attended on the ladies of
the household, and imbibed the first principles of that high-bred courtesy
and transcendental devotion to the sex which are characteristic of the
knight. From the chaplain of the castle he gained such knowledge of
book-learning as he was destined to acquire--which was probably more
extensive than is popularly supposed. He learnt also to sing a romance,
and accompany himself on the harp, from the chief of the band of minstrels
who wore his lord's livery. As a squire he came under the more immediate
supervision of his lord; was taught by some experienced old knight or
squire to back a horse and use his weapons; and was stirred to emulation
by constant practice with his fellow-squires. He attended upon his lord in
time of peace, carved his meat and filled his cup, carried his shield or
helmet on a journey, gave him a fresh lance in the tournament, raised him
up and remounted him when unhorsed, or dragged him out of the press if
wounded; followed him to battle, and acted as subaltern officer of the
troop of men-at-arms who followed their lord's banner.

It is interesting to see how the pictures in the illuminated MSS. enable
us to follow the knight's history step by step. In the following woodcut
we see him as a child in long clothes, between the knight his father, and
his lady mother, who sit on a bench with an embroidered _banker_[383]
thrown over its seat, making an interesting family group.


The woodcut on the next page shows us a group of pages imbibing chivalrous
usages even in their childish sports, for they are "playing at jousting."
It is easy to see the nature of the toy. A slip of wood forms the
foundation, and represents the lists; the two wooden knights are movable
on their horses by a pin through the hips and saddle; when pushed together
in mimic joust, either the spears miss, and the course must be run again,
or each strikes the other's breast, and one or other gives way at the
shock, and is forced back upon his horse's back, and is vanquished. This
illustration is from Hans Burgmair's famous illustrations of the life of
the Emperor Maximilian. A similar illustration is given in Strutt's
"Sports and Pastimes." A third picture, engraved in the _Archæological
Journal_, vol. ii. p. 173, represents a squire carving before his lord at
a high feast, and illustrates a passage in Chaucer's description of his
squire among the Canterbury Pilgrims, which we here extract (with a few
verbal alterations, to make it more intelligible to modern ears) as a
typical picture of a squire, even more full of life and interest than the
pictorial illustrations:--

  "With him ther was his son, a younge squire,
   A lover and a lusty bacheler;
   His lockes crull as they were laide in presse,
   Of twenty yere of age he was I guess.
   Of his stature he was of even lengthe,
   And wonderly deliver, and grete of strengthe.
   He hadde be some time in chevachie,
   In Flanders, in Artois, and in Picardie,
   And borne him wel, as of so litel space,
   In hope to standen in his ladies grace.
   Embroidered was he, as it were a mede
   Alle ful of freshe flowres, white and rede.
   Singing he was or floyting alle the day,
   He was as freshe as is the moneth of May.
   Short was his gowne, with sleves long and wide,
   Wel coude he sitte on hors, and fayre ride.
   He coude songes make, and wel endite,
   Juste and eke dance, and wel poutraie and write.
   So hot he loved that by nightertale
   He slep no more than doth a nightingale.
   Curteis he was, lowly and servisable,
   And carf before his fader at the table."


Young noblemen and eldest sons of landed gentlemen were made knights, as a
matter of course, when they had attained the proper age. Many others won
for themselves this chivalric distinction by their deeds of arms in the
field, and sometimes in the lists. The ceremony was essentially a
religious one, and the clergy used sometimes to make a knight. In the
Royal 14. E. IV. f. 89, we see a picture of Lancelot being made a knight,
in which an abbess even is giving him the accolade by a stroke of the
hand. But usually, though religious ceremonies accompanied the initiation,
and the office for making a knight still remains in the Roman Office Book,
some knight of fame actually conferred "the high order of knighthood." It
was not unusual for young men of property who were entitled to the honour
by birth and heirship to be required by the king to assume it, for the
sake of the fine which was paid to the crown on the occasion. Let us here
introduce, as a pendant to Chaucer's portrait of the squire already given,
his equally beautiful portrait of a knight; not a young knight-errant,
indeed, but a grave and middle-aged warrior, who has seen hard service,
and is valued in council as well as in field:--

  "A knight ther was, and that a worthy man,
   That from the time that he firste began
   To riden out, he loved chivalry,
   Trouthe and honour, fredom and curtesie.
   Ful worthie was he in his lorde's werre,
   And thereto hadde he ridden, no man ferre,
   As wel in Christendom as in Hethenesse,
   And ever honoured for his worthinesse.
     At Alesandre he was when it was wonne,
   Ful oftentime he hadde the bord begonne,
   Aboven all nations in Pruce.

      *       *       *       *       *

   At many a noble army hadde he be,
   At mortal batailles had he been fiftene,
   And foughten for our faith in Tramisene
   In listes thries, and ever slaine his fo.

      *       *       *       *       *

   And tho that he was worthy he was wise,
   And of his port as meke as is a mayde:
   He never yet no vilanie had sayde
   In alle his lif unto any manere wyht.
   He was a very parfit gentle knight.
     But for to tellen you of his arraie,
   His hors was good, but he was not gaie;
   Of fustian he wered a jupon,
   All besmotred with his habergeon.
   For he was late ycom fro his viage,
   And wente for to don his pilgrimage."

Men who are in the constant habit of bearing arms are certain to engage in
friendly contests with each other; it is the only mode in which they can
acquire skill in the use of their weapons, and it affords a manly pastime.
That such men should turn encounters with an enemy into trials of skill,
subject to certain rules of fairness and courtesy, though conducted with
sharp weapons and in deadly earnest, is also natural.[384] And thus we are
introduced to a whole series of military exercises and encounters, from
the mere holiday pageant in which the swords are of parchment and the
spears headless, to the wager of battle, in which the combatants are clad
in linen, while their weapons are such as will lop off a limb, and the
gallows awaits the vanquished.

Homer shows us how the Greek battles were little else than a series of
single combats, and Roman history furnishes us with sufficient examples
of such combats preluding the serious movements of opposing armies, and
affording an augury, it was believed, of their issue. Sacred history
supplies us with examples of a similar kind. In the story of Goliath we
have the combat of two champions in the face of the hosts drawn up in
battle array. A still more striking incident is that where Abner and the
servants of Ishbosheth, and Joab and the servants of David, met
accidentally at the pool of Gibeon. "And they sat down the one on the one
side of the pool, and the other on the other. And Abner said to Joab, Let
the young men now arise and play before us. And Joab said, Let them
arise." So twelve men on each side met, "and they caught every one his
fellow by the head, and thrust his sword in his fellow's side, so they
fell down together." And afterwards the lookers-on took to their arms, and
"there was a very sore battle that day; and Abner was beaten, and the men
of Israel, before the servants of David."[385]

Our own history contains incidents enough of the same kind, from Tailefer
the minstrel-warrior, who rode ahead of the army of Duke William at
Hastings, singing the song of Roland and performing feats of dexterity in
the use of horse and weapons, and then charging alone into the ranks of
the Saxon men, down to the last young aide-de-camp who has pranced up to
the muzzle of the guns to "show the way" to a regiment to which he had
brought an order to carry a battery.

In the Middle Ages these combats, whether they were mere pageants[386] or
sportive contests with more or less of the element of danger, or were
waged in deadly earnest, were, in one shape or other, of very common
occurrence, and were reduced to system and regulated by legislation.

When only two combatants contended, it was called jousting. If only a
friendly trial of skill was contemplated, the lances were headed with a
small coronal instead of a sharp point; if the sword were used at all it
was with the edge only, which would very likely inflict no wound at all
on a well-armed man, or at most only a flesh wound, not with the point,
which might penetrate the opening of the helmet or the joints of the
armour, and inflict a fatal hurt. This was the _joute à plaisance_. If the
combatants were allowed to use sharp weapons, and to put forth all their
force and skill against one another, this was the _joute à l'outrance_,
and was of common enough occurrence.

When many combatants fought on each side, it was called a tournament. Such
sports were sometimes played in gorgeous costumes, but with weapons of
lath, to make a spectacle in honour of a festal occasion. Sometimes the
tournament was with bated weapons, but was a serious trial of skill and
strength. And sometimes the tournament was even a mimic battle, and then
usually between the adherents of hostile factions which sought thus to
gratify their mutual hatreds, or it was a chivalrous incident in a war
between two nations.

With these general introductory remarks, we shall best fulfil our purpose
by at once proceeding to bring together a few illustrations from ancient
sources, literary and pictorial, of these warlike scenes.

A MS. in the Egerton Collection, in the British Museum, gives us a
contemporary account of the mode in which it was made known to knights
ambitious of honour and their ladies' praise when and where opportunities
of winning them were to be found. The heralds-at-arms of the king, or
lord, or noble, or knight, or lady who designed to give a joust, went
forth on horseback to castle and town, and sometimes from court to court
of foreign countries, clad in their gay insignia of office, attended by a
trumpeter; and in every castle court they came to, and at every market
cross, first the trumpeter blew his blast and then the herald-at-arms made
his proclamation as follows:--"Wee herawldes of armes beryng shields of
devise, here we yeve in knowledge unto all gentilmen of name and of armys,
that there bee VI gentilmen of name and of armes that for the gret desire
and woorship that the seide VI gentilmen have, have taken upon them to bee
the third day of May next coomyng before the high and mighty redowtid
ladyes and gentilwoomen in this high and most honourable court. And in
their presence the seide six gentilmen there to appear at IX of the clock
before noone, and to juste aginst all coomers without, the seide day unto
VI of the clok at aftir noone, and then, by the advyse of the seide ladyes
and gentel women, to give unto the best juster withoute[387] a dyamaunde
of xl{li}, and unto the nexte beste juster a rubie of xx{li}, and to the
third well juster a saufir of x{li}. And on the seide day there beyng
officers of armys shewyng their mesure of theire speris garneste, that is,
cornal, vamplate, and grapers all of acise, that they shall just with. And
that the comers may take the length of the seide speirs with the avise of
the seide officers of armes that shall be indifferent unto all parties
unto the seide day."[388]

Then we have a description of the habiliments required for a knight's
equipment for such an occasion, which includes a suit of armour and a
horse with his trappings; an armourer with hammer and pincers to fasten
the armour; two servants on horseback well beseen, who are his two
squires; and six servants on foot all in one suit.

As the day approaches knights and ladies begin to flock in from all points
of the compass. Some are lodged in the castle, some find chambers in the
neighbouring town, and some bring tents with them and pitch them under the
trees in the meadows without the castle. At length the day has arrived,
and the knights are up with sunrise and bathe, and then are carefully
armed by their squires and armourers. This is so important a matter that
it is no wonder we find several minute descriptions of the way in which
every article of clothing and armour is to be put on and fastened,
illustrated with pictures of the knight in the several stages of the
process. Two such descriptions with engravings are given in the
twenty-ninth volume of the "Archæologia," taken from the work of a master
of fence, of date 1400. Another description, "How a man shall be armyed at
his ease when he shall fight on foot," is given in the Lansdowne MS. under
our notice. The same description is given in the tenth volume of the
_Archæological Journal_, p. 226, from a MS. in the possession of Lord
Hastings of the date of Henry VI., accompanied by an engraving from an
illumination in the MS. showing the knight with his legs fully armed, his
body clothed in the undergarment on which the gussets of mail are
sewed, while the rest of his armour and his weapons are arranged on a
bench beside him. The weapons are a glaive and a pole-axe, which were the
usual weapons assigned to the combatants in serious duels on foot. When
all is ready, and the company are assembled, the MS. tells us what next
takes place:--"The VI gentilmen must come into the felde unharnsyd, and
their helmys borne before them, and their servants on horseback berying
either of them a spere garneste, that is the VI speres which the seide VI
servaunts shall ride before them into the felde, and as the seide VI
gentilmen be coomyn before the ladyes and gentilwoomen. Then shall be sent
an herowde of armys up unto the ladyes and gentilwoomen, saying on this
wise: High and mighty, redowtyd, and right worchyfull ladyes and
gentilwoomen, theis VI gentilmen hav coome into your presence and
recommende them all unto your gode grace in as lowly wise as they can,
besechyng you for to geve unto the iii best justers without a diamonde,
and a rubie, and a saufir unto them that ye think best can deserve it.
Then this message is doone. Then the VI gentilmen goth into the
tellwys[389] and doth on their helmys."

[Illustration: _Preliminaries of a Combat._]

[Illustration: _Termination of the Combat._]

Then comes the jousting. Probably, first of all, each of the six champions
in turn runs one or more courses with a stranger knight; then, perhaps,
they finish by a miniature tournament, all six together against six of the
strangers. Each strange knight who comes into the field has to satisfy the
officer-at-arms that he is a "gentilman of name and of arms," and to take
oath that he has no secret weapons or unfair advantage. The woodcut
represents this moment of the story. This being ascertained, they take
their places at the opposite ends of the lists, the presiding herald cries
to let go, and they hurl together in the midst, with a clang of armour,
and a crash of broken spears, amidst the shouts of the spectators and the
waving of kerchiefs and caps. If the course be successfully run, each
breaks his lance full on the breastplate or helm of his adversary, but
neither is unhorsed; they recover their steeds with rein and spur, and
prance away amidst applause. If one knight is unhorsed, or loose his
stirrup, he is vanquished, and retires from the game. If the jousting were
not the mere sport which the MS. puts before us, but were a _joute à
l'outrance_, the next woodcut represents a very probable variation in this
point of the game.

At length, when all have run their courses, the MS. resumes its
directions: "And when the heraldes cry _à lóstel! à lóstel!_ then shall
all the VI. gentlemen within unhelme them before the seide ladies, and
make their obeisaunce, and goo home unto their lodgings and change them."
Then, continues the MS.: "The gentilmen[390] without comyn into the
presence of the ladies. Then comys foorth a lady by the advise of all the
ladyes and gentilwomen, and gives the diamounde unto the best juster
withoute, saying in this wise:--'Sir, theis ladyes and gentilwomen thank
you for your disporte and grete labour that ye have this day in their
presence. And the saide ladyes and gentilwomen seyn that ye have best just
this day; therefore the seide ladyes and gentilwomen geven you this
diamounde, and send you much joy and worship of your lady.' Thus shall be
doone with the rubie and with the saufre unto the other two next the best
justers. This doon, then shall the heralde of armys stande up all on hygh,
and shall sey withall in high voice:--'John hath well justed, Ric. hath
justed better, and Thomas hath justed best of all.' Then shall he that the
diamound is geve unto take a lady by the hande and bygene the daunce, and
when the ladyes have dauncid as long as them liketh, then spyce wyne and
drynk, and then avoide."[391]

[Illustration: _Spectators of a Tournament._]

The last woodcut, greatly reduced from one of the fine tournament scenes
in the MS. history of the Roi Meliadus, already several times quoted in
this work, shows the temporary gallery erected for the convenience of the
ladies and other spectators to witness the sports. The tent of one of the
knights is seen in the background, and an indication of the hurly-burly of
the combat below. A larger illustration of a similar scene from this fine
MS. will be given hereafter.

The next woodcut is from the MS. Life and Acts of Richard Beauchamp, Earl
of Warwick (Julius E. IV., folio 217). It represents "howe a mighty Duke
chalenged Erle Richard for his lady sake, and in justyng slewe the Duke
and then the Empresse toke the Erle's staff and bear from a knight
shouldre, and for great love and fauv{r} she sette it on her shouldre.
Then Erle Richard made one of perle and p'cious stones, and offered her
that, and she gladly and lovynglee reseaved it." The picture shows the
Duke and Earl in the crisis of the battle. It would seem from the pieces
of splintered spears, which already lie on the ground, that a previous
course had been run with equal fortune; but in this second course the
doughty Earl has just driven his lance half a yard through his
unfortunate challenger's breast. In the background we see the Emperor
Sigismund, and the Empress taking the Earl's badge from the neck of the
Earl's knight. The whole incident, so briefly told and so naïvely
illustrated, is very characteristic of the spirit of chivalry. As we close
the page the poor nameless Duke's life-blood seems to be smeared, not only
over his own magnificent armour, but over the hand of the Empress and the
Emperor's purple who presided over the scene; and while we seem to hear
the fanfaronade with which the trumpeters are cracking their cheeks, we
hear mingling with it the groan of the mighty Duke thus slain "for his
lady sake."

[Illustration: _How a mighty Duke fought Earl Richard for his Lady's

A whole chapter might be well dedicated to the special subject of judicial
combats. We must, however, content ourselves with referring the reader to
authorities both literary and artistic, and to some anecdotes illustrative
of the subject. In the Lansdowne MS. 285, copied for Sir John Paxton, will
be found directions for the complete arming of a man who is to engage on
foot in a judicial combat, with a list of the things, such as tent, table,
chair, &c., which he should take into the field with him. The same MS.
contains (article 8) the laws of the combat--"the ordinance and forme of
fighting within listes," as settled by Thomas Duke of Gloucester,
Constable of England, in the time of Richard II. Also in Tiberius E. VIII.
there are directions for making a duel before the king. There are other
similar documents in the same book, _e.g._ Of the order of knighthood,
justs and prizes to be given thereat: The Earl of Worcester's orders for
jousts and triumphs: Declaration of a combat within lists. The MS.
Tiberius B. VIII. contains the form of benediction of a man about to
fight, and of his shield, club, and sword. For a picture of a combat on
foot in lists see Royal 16 E. IV. (MS. "Chronique d'Angleterre," written
for King Edward IV.) at f. 264.[392] In the "Archæologia," vol. xxix., p.
348-361, will be found a paper on Judicial Duels in Germany, with a series
of curious drawings of about the year 1400 A.D., representing the various
phases of the combat. Plate 31, fig. 5, shows the combatant in the act of
being armed; fig. 6, receiving Holy Communion in church before the combat.
Plate 32, fig. 2, the oath in the lists, the combatant seated armed in an
arm-chair with his attendants about him, his weapons around,
and--ominously enough--a bier standing by, covered with a pall, ready to
carry him off the ground if slain. Plate 34, fig. 2, shows the vanquished
actually being laid in his coffin; and fig. 3 shows the victor returning
thanks in church for his victory. Plate 37 is another series of subjects
showing the different positions of attack and defence with the pole-axe.
Several very good and spirited representations of these duels of the time
of our Henry VIII. may be found in the plates of Hans Burgmaier's Der
Weise Könige.

As an example of the wager of battle we will take an account of one
related by Froissart between a squire called Jaques de Grys and a knight,
Sir John of Carougne. It is necessary to the understanding of some of the
incidents of the narrative to state what was the origin of the duel. The
knight and the squire were friends, both of the household of the Earl of
Alençon. Sir John de Carougne went over sea for the advancement of his
honour, leaving his lady in his castle. On his return his lady informed
him that one day soon after his departure his friend Jaques de Grys paid a
visit to her, and made excuses to be alone with her, and then by force
dishonoured her. The knight called his and her friends together, and asked
their counsel what he should do. They advised that he should make his
complaint to the Earl. The Earl called the parties before him, when the
lady repeated her accusation; but the squire denied it, and called
witnesses to prove that at four o'clock on the morning of the day on which
the offence was stated to have been committed he was at his lord the
Earl's house, while the Earl himself testified that at nine o'clock he was
with himself at his levée. It was impossible for him between those two
hours--that is, four hours and a half--to have ridden twenty-three
leagues. "Whereupon the Erl sayd to the lady that she dyd but dreame it,
wherefore he wolde maynteyne his squyre, and commanded the lady to speke
noe more of the matter. But the knyght, who was of great courage, and well
trusted and byleved his wife, would not agree to that opinion, but he
wente to Parys and shewed the matter there to the parlyament, and there
appeled Jaques de Grys, who appered and answered to his appele." The plea
between them endured more than a year and a half. At length "the
parlyament determined that there shold be batayle at utterance between
them.... And the Kynge sent to Parys, commandynge that the journey and
batayle bytwene the squyer and the knight sholde be relonged tyl his
comynge to Parys: and so his commaundement was obeyed....

"Then the lystes were made in a place called Saynt Katheryne, behynde the
Temple. There was so moche people that it was mervayle to beholde; and on
the one syde of the lystes there was made grete scaffoldes, that the
lordes myght the better se the battayle of the ij champions; and so they
bothe came to the felde, armed at all places, and there eche of them was
set in theyr chayre."[393]

"The Erie of Saynt Poule governed John of Carougne, and the Erle of
Alanson's company with Jaques de Guys. And when the knyght entered into
the felde, he came to his wyfe who was there syttinge in a chayre, covered
in blacke, and he seyd to her thus,--Dame, by your enformacyon and in your
quarele I do put my lyfe in adventure as to fyght with Jaques le Grys; ye
knowe if the cause be just and true. Syr, sayd the lady, it is as I have
sayd; wherfore ye may fyght surely, the cause is good and true. With those
wordes the knyghte kyssed the lady and toke her by the hande, and then
blessyd her, and so entered into the felde. The lady sate styll in the
blacke chayre in her prayers to God and to the Vyrgyne Mary, humbly
prayenge them, by theyr specyall grace, to sende her husbande the vyctory
accordynge to the ryght he was in. The lady was in grete hevynes, for she
was not sure of her lyfe; for yf her husbande sholde have been discomfyted
she was judged without remedy to be brente and her husbande hanged. I
cannot say whether she repented her or not yt the matter was so forwarde,
that bothe she and her husbande were in grete peryle; howbeit fynally she
must as then abyde the adventure. Then these two champyons were set one
agaynst another, and so mounted on theyr horses and behaved them nobly,
for they knew what pertayned to deades of armes. There were many lordes
and knyghtes of France that were come thyder to se that batayle: ye two
champyons parted at theyr first metyng, but none of them dyd hurte other;
and upon the justes they lyghted on foote to performe their batayle, and
soe fought valyauntly; and fyrst John of Carougne was hurt in the thyghe,
whereby al his friendes were in grete fear; but after that he fought so
valyauntly that he bette down his adversary to the erthe, and thruste
his sworde in his body, and so slew hym on the felde; and then he
demaunded yf he had done his devoyre or not; and they answered that he had
valyauntly acheved his batayle. Then Jaques le Grys was delyvered to the
hangman of Parys, and he drew him to the gybet of Mount Faucon and there
hanged hym up. Then John of Carougne came before the Kynge and kneeled
downe and ye Kynge made hym to stand up before hym, and the same day the
kynge caused to be delyvered to hym a thousand frankes, and reteyned hym
to be of his chambre with a pencyon of ij hundred poundes by the yere
durynge the term of his lyfe; then he thanked the Kynge and the lordes,
and wente to his wyfe and kyssed her, and then they wente togyder to the
churche of Our Lady in Parys, and made theyr offerynge and then retourned
to theyr lodgynges. Then this Syr John of Carougne taryed not long in
France, but wente to vysyte the Holy Sepulture."



The romances, confirmed as they are by such documents as we have referred
to in our last paper, may be taken as perfectly safe authorities on all
that relates to the subject of tournaments, and they seize upon their
salient features, and offer them in a picturesque form very suitable to
our purpose. We will take all our illustrations, as in former chapters,
from Malory's "History of Prince Arthur."

Here is a statement of the way in which a tournament was arranged and
published: "So it befel, that Sir Galahalt the haughty Prince was lord of
the country of Surluse, whereof came many good knights. And this noble
prince was a passing good man of arms, and ever he held a noble fellowship
together. And he came unto King Arthur's court, and told him all his
intent, how he would let do cry a justs in the country of Surluse, the
which country was within the lands of King Arthur, and that he asked leave
for to let cry a justs. 'I will well give you leave,' said King Arthur,
'but wot you well that I may not be there.' So in every good town and
castle of this land was made a cry, that in the country of Surluse Sir
Galahalt the haughty prince should make justs that should last eight days,
and how the haughty prince, with the help of Queen Guenever's knights,
should just against all manner of men that would come. When the cry was
known kings, princes, dukes, and earls, barons, and many noble knights
made them ready to be at that justs."

So we read in another place how as Sir Tristram was riding through the
country in search of adventures, "he met with pursevants, and they told
him that there was made a great cry of a tournament between King Carados
of Scotland and the King of Northgales, and either should just against
other at the Castle of Maidens. And these pursevants sought all the
country for the good knights, and in especial King Carados let seek for
Sir Launcelot, and the King of Northgales let seek for Sir Tristram." Then
we find how all the reckless knights-errant suddenly become prudent, in
order to keep themselves fresh and sound for this great tournament. Thus:
"Sir Kay required Sir Tristram to just; and Sir Tristram in a manner
refused him, because he would not go hurt nor bruised to the Castle of
Maidens; and therefore he thought to have kept him fresh and to rest him."
But his prudence was not proof against provocation, for when Sir Kay
persisted, he rode upon him and "smote down Sir Kay, and so rode on his
way." So Sir Palomides said, "Sir, I am loth to do with that knight, and
the cause why for as to-morrow the great tournament shall be, and
therefore I will keep me fresh, by my will." But being urged he consented:
"Sir, I will just at your request, and require that knight to just with
me, and often I have seen a man have a fall at his own request;" a sage
reflection which was prophetic. It was Sir Launcelot in disguise whom he
was moved thus to encounter; and Sir Launcelot "smote him so mightily that
he made him to avoid his saddle, and the stroke brake his shield and
hawberk, and had he not fallen he had been slain."

No doubt a great company would be gathered on the eve of the tournament,
and there would be much feasting and merriment, and inquiry what knights
were come to just, and what prospects had this man and the other of honour
and lady's grace, or of shame and a fall. Here is such an incident:--"Then
Sir Palomides prayed Queen Guenever and Sir Galahalt the haughty prince to
sup with him, and so did both Sir Launcelot and Sir Lamorake and many good
knights; and in the midst of their supper in came Sir Dinadan, and he
began to rail. 'Well,' said Sir Dinadan unto Sir Launcelot, 'what the
devil do you in this country, for here may no mean knights win no worship
for thee; and I ensure thee that I shall never meet thee no more, nor thy
great spear, for I may not sit in my saddle when that spear meet me; I
shall beware of that boisterous spear that thou bearest.' Then laughed
Queen Guenever and the haughty prince that they might not sit at table.
Thus they made great joy till the morrow; and then they heard mass, and
blew to the field. And Queen Guenever and all their estates were set, and
judges armed clean with their shields for to keep the right."

[Illustration: _State Carriage of the Fourteenth Century._]

It would take up too much space to transcribe the account of the
tournament; the romancers and chroniclers dwell on every stroke, and
prolong the narrative through page after page. We leave the reader to
imagine to himself the crowd of meaner knights "hurtling together like
wild boars," and "lashing at each other with great strokes"; and can only
tell one or two unusual deeds which caused most talk among the knights and
ladies, and supplied new matter for the heralds and minstrels to record.
How Sir Launcelot rushed against Sir Dinadan with the "boisterous spear"
he had deprecated, and bore him back on his horse croup, that he lay there
as dead, and had to be lifted off by his squires; and how Sir Lamorake
struck Sir Kay on the helm with his sword, that he swooned in the saddle;
and how Sir Tristram avoided Sir Palomides' spear, and got him by the neck
with both his hands, and pulled him clean out of his saddle, and so bore
him before him the length of ten spears, and then, in the presence of them
all, let him fall at his adventure; "until at last the haughty prince
cried 'Hoo!' and then they blew to lodging, and every knight unarmed him
and went to the great feast." We may, however, quote one brief summary of
a tournament which gives us several pictures worth adding to our
story:--"Sir Launcelot mounted his horse and rode into a forest and held
no high way. And as he looked afore him he saw a fair plain, and beside
that plain stood a fair castle, and before that castle were many pavilions
of silk and of divers hue; and him seemed that he saw there five hundred
knights riding on horseback; and there was two parties; they that were of
the castle were all in black, their horses and their trappings black; and
they that were without were all upon white horses with white trappours.
And every each hurled to other, whereof Sir Launcelot marvelled greatly.
And at the last him thought that they of the castle were put unto the
worst; and then thought Sir Launcelot for to help the weaker part in
increasing of his chivalry. And so Sir Launcelot thrust in among the
parties of the castle, and smote down a knight, both horse and man, to the
earth: and then he rushed here and there and did marvellous deeds of arms;
but always the white knights held them nigh about Sir Launcelot, for to
weary him and win him. And at the last, as a man may not ever endure, Sir
Launcelot waxed so faint of fighting, and was so weary of great deeds,
that he might not lift up his arms for to give one stroke."

[Illustration: _Cabriolet of the Fourteenth Century._]

Now for some extracts to illustrate the prize of the tournament: "Turn we
unto Ewaine, which rode westward with his damsel, and she brought him
there as was a tournament nigh the march of Wales. And at that tournament
Sir Ewaine smote down thirty knights, wherefore the prize was given him,
and the prize was a jerfawcon and a white steed trapped with a cloth of
gold." Sir Marhaus was equally fortunate under similar circumstances:--"He
departed, and within two days his damsel brought him to where as was a
great tournament, that the Lady de Vaux had cried; and who that did best
should have a rich circlet of gold worth a thousand besants. And then Sir
Marhaus did so nobly that he was renowned to have smitten down forty
knights, and so the circlet of gold was rewarded to him."

Again:--"There was cried in this country a great just three days. And all
the knights of this country were there, and also the gentlewomen. And who
that proved him the best knight should have a passing good sword and a
circlet of gold, and the circlet the knight should give to the fairest
lady that was at those justs. And this knight Sir Pelleas was the best
knight that was there, and there were five hundred knights, but there was
never man that Sir Pelleas met withal but that he struck him down or else
from his horse. And every day of the three days he struck down twenty
knights; therefore they gave him the prize. And forthwithal he went there
as the Lady Ettarde was, and gave her the circlet, and said openly that
she was the fairest lady that was there, and that he would prove upon any
knight that would say nay."

[Illustration: _A Tournament._]

The accompanying woodcut is a reduced copy of the half of one of the many
tournament scenes which run along the lower part of the double page of the
MS. romance of "Le Roi Meliadus," already so often alluded to. They are,
perhaps, the most spirited of all the contemporary pictures of such
scenes, and give every variety of incident, not out of the imagination of
a modern novelist, but out of the memory of one who had frequented deeds
of arms and noted their incidents with an artist's eye.

For an actual historical example of the tournament in which a number of
knights challengers undertake to hold the field against all comers, we
will take the passage of arms at St. Inglebert's, near Calais, in the days
of Edward III., because it is very fully narrated by Froissart, and
because the splendid MS. of Froissart in the British Museum (Harl. 4,379)
supplies us with a magnificent picture of the scene. Froissart tells that
it happened in this wise:--"In ye dayes of King Charles there was an
Englisshe knyght called Sir Peter Courteney, a valyaunt knight in armes,
came out of Englande into Fraunce to Paris, and demanded to do armes with
Sir Guy of Tremoyle[394] in the presence of the king or of suche as wolde
se them. Sir Guy wolde not refuce his offre, and in the presence of the
kyng and of other lordes they were armed on a daye and ran togeyder one
course; and then the kyng wolde not suffre them to ryn agayne togeyther,
wherwith the English knyght was ryt evyl content, for, as he shewed, he
wolde have furnysshed his chalenge to the uttrance; but he was apeased
with fayre wordes, and it was sayde to hym that he had done ynough and
ought to be content therewith. The kyng and the duke of Burgoyne gave hym
fayre gyftes and presentes. Than he returned agayne towardes Calays, and
the lorde of Clary, who was a friscay and a lusty knyght, was charged to
convey hym." One night they lodged at Lucen, where lived the Countess of
St. Paul, sister to King Richard of England, whose first wife had been a
cousin of Sir Peter's, and who therefore received them gladly. In the
course of the evening the countess asked Sir Peter whether he was content
with the entertainment he had met with in France. Whereupon the knight
complained of the interruption of his combat, swore he should say wherever
he went that he could find none in France to do armes with him; that had a
French knight, for example the Lord of Clary then present, come into
England and desired to do armes, he would have found enough to answer his
challenge. The Lord of Clary having Sir Peter then placed under his safe
conduct by the king, held his tongue till he had brought him within the
English territory about Calais; then he challenged Sir Peter, and next day
they met. "Then they toke their speares with sharpe heades wel fyled, and
spurred their horses and rune togeyder. The fyrst course fayled, wherwith
they were bothe sore displeased. At the seconde juste they mette so
togeyder, that the Lord of Clary struke the Englysshe knyght throughe the
targe and throughe the shoulder a handfull, and therwith he fell from his
horse to the erthe.... Then the Lord of Clary departed with his company,
and the Englysshemen led Sir Peter Courtney to Calays to be healed of his

This incident stirred up several young French knights to undertake some
feat of arms. "There was thre gentylmen of highe enterprise and of great
valure, and that they well shewed as ye shall here. Fyrst there was the
yonge Sir Bouciquaut, the other Sir Raynold of Roy, and the thirde the
Lorde of Saynt Pye. These thre knyghtes were chamberleyns with the kyng,
and well-beloved of hym. These thre being at Mountpellier among the ladyes
and damosels, they toke on them to do armes on the fronter beside Calais
the next somer after ... abyding all knyghtes and squiers straungers the
terme of xxx dayes whosoever wolde juste with them in justes of peace or
of warre. And because the enterprise of these thre knyghtes seemed to the
French kyng and his counsalye to be an high enterprice, then it was said
to them that they shulde putte it into writyng, because the kyng wolde se
the artycles thereof, that if they were to high or to outraygous that the
kyng might amende them; bycause the kyng nor his counsalye wolde not
sustayne any thynge that shoulde be unresonable. These thre knyghtes
answered and said, 'It is but reson that we do this; it shall be done.'
Then they toke a clerk and caused him to write as forthwith:--'For the
great desyre that we have to come to the knowledge of noble gentlemen,
knights and squires, straungers as well of the realme of France, as
elsewhere of farre countreys, we shall be at Saynt Inglebertes, in the
marches of Calays, the twenty day of the month of May next commying, and
there contynewe thirtye dayes complete, the Frydayes onely excepte; and to
delyver all manner of knyghtes and squyers, gentlemen, straungers of any
manner of nacyon whatsoever they be, that wyll come thyder for the
breakynge of fiyve speares, outher sharpe or rokettes at their pleasure,'"

The challenge was "openly declared and publyshed, and especially in the
realme of Englande," for it was in truth specially intended at English
knights, and they alone appear to have accepted the challenge. "For in
England knyghtes and squiers were quyckened to the mater, and ware in gret
imagynacions to know what they might best do. Some said it shulde be
greatly to their blame and reproche such an enterprise taken so nere to
Calays without they passed the see and loke on those knyghtes that shulde
do arms there. Such as spake most of the mater was, first, Syr Johan of
Holande Erle of Huntyngdon, who had great desyre to go thyder, also Sir
Johan Courtney ... and dyvers others, more than a hundred knyghtes and
squiers, all then sayed, 'Let us provyde to go to Calays, for the knyghtes
of Fraunce hath not ordayned that sporte so nere our marches but to the
entent to see us there; and surely they have done well and do lyke good
companions, and we shall not fayle them at their busynes.' This mater was
so publisshed abrode in Englande, that many such as had no desyn to do
dedes of armes ther on self, yet they sayd they wolde be there to loke on
them that shulde. So at the entryng in of ye joly fresshe month of May
these thre young knyghtes of Fraunce come to the Abbay of Saynt
Ingilbertes, and they ordayned in a fayre playne between Calays and Saynt
Ingilbertes thre fresh grene pavilyons to be pyght up, and at the entre of
every pavylyon there hanged two sheldes with the armes of the knyghtes,
one shelde of peace, another of warre; and it was ordayned that such as
shulde ryn and do dedes of armes shulde touche one of the sheldes or cause
it to be touched. And on the xxi day of the moneth of May, accordyng as it
had been publisshed, there the French knyghtes were redy in the place to
furnish their enterprise. And the same day knyghtes and squiers issued
out of Calays, suche as wolde just, and also such other as had pleasure to
regarde that sporte; and they came to the place appoynted and drew all on
the one parte: the place to juste in was fayre green and playne. Sir Johan
Hollande first sent to touche the shelde of warre of Syr Bociquaut, who
incontinent issued out of his pavylyon redy mounted, with shelde and
speare: these two knyghtes drew fro other a certayne space, and when each
of them had well advysed other, they spurred their horses and came
together rudely, and Bociquaut struke the Erle of Huntingdon through the
shelde, and the speare head glente over his arme and dyd hym no hurt; and
so they passed further and turned and rested at their pease. This course
was greatly praysed. The second course they met without any hurt doygne;
and the third course their horses refused and wolde not cope." And so
Froissart goes on to describe, in page after page, how the English
knights, one after another, encountered the three challengers with various
fortune, till at last "they ran no more that day, for it was nere night.
Then the Englysshmen drew togeder and departed, and rode to Calays, and
there devysed that night of that had been done that day; in likewyse the
Frenchmen rode to Saint Ingilbertes and communed and devysed of yt had
been done ye same day." "The Tuesday, after masse, all suche as shulde
just that day or wolde gyve the lookyng on, rode out of Calis and came to
the place appoynted, and the Frenchmen were redy there to recyve them: the
day was fayre and hot." And so for four days the sports continued. In many
cases the course failed through fault of horse or man; the commonest
result of a fair course was that one or both the justers were unhelmed; a
few knights were unhorsed; one knight was wounded, the spear passing
through the shield and piercing the arm, where "the spere brake, and the
trunchon stucke styll in the shelde and in the knyhte's arme; yet for all
yt the knyght made his turn and came to his place fresshly."

The illuminator has bestowed two large and beautiful pictures on this
famous deed of arms. One at folio 230 represents the knights parading
round the lists to show themselves before the commencement of the sports.
Our woodcut on page 434 is reduced from another picture at folio 43,
which represents the actual combat. There are the three handsome pavilions
of the knights challengers, each with its two shields--the shield of peace
and the shield of war--by touching which each juster might indicate
whether he chose to fight "in love or in wrath." There are the galleries
hung with tapestries, in which sit the knights and ladies "as had pleasure
to regard that sporte." There are the groups of knights, and the judges of
the field; and there in the foreground are two of the gallant knights in
full career, attended by their squires.

It will be interesting to the artist to know something of the colours of
the knightly costumes. The knight on this side the barrier has his horse
trapped in housings of blue and gold, lined with red, and the bridle to
match; the saddle is red. The knight is in armour of steel, his shield is
emblazoned _or_, three hearts _gules_; he bears as a crest upon his helmet
two streamers of some transparent material like lawn. His antagonist's
horse is trapped with red and gold housings, and bridle to match. He wears
a kind of cape on his shoulders of cloth of gold; his shield is blue. Of
the knights on the (spectator's) left of the picture, one has horse
trappings of gold and red embroidery lined with plain red, his shield
yellow (not gold) with black bearings; another has blue and gold
trappings, with shield red, with white bearings. Of the knights on the
right, one has horse-trappings blue and gold laced with red, and shield
red and white; the other trappings red and gold, shield yellow. The
squires are dressed thus: the limbs encased in armour, the body clothed in
a jupon, which is either green embroidery on red ground or red embroidery
on green ground. The pavilions are tinted red, with stripes of a darker
red. The shields of the challengers are--on the left tent, _azure_, three
hearts _argent_; on the middle, _vert_, three hearts _or_; on the right,
_or_, three hearts _gules_.

[Illustration: _The Feat of Arms at St. Inglebert's._]

We have drawn upon the romancer and the historian to illustrate the
subject; we have cited ancient documents, and copied contemporary
pictures; we will call upon the poet to complete our labour. Chaucer, in
the Knight's Tale, gives a long account of a just _à l'outrance_ between
Palamon and Arcite and a hundred knights a-side, which came to pass thus:
Palamon and Arcite, two cousins and sworn brothers-in-arms, had the
misfortune both to fall in love with Emily, the younger sister of Ipolyta,
the Queen of Theseus Duke-regnant of Athens. Theseus found the two young
men, one May morning, in the wood engaged in a single combat.

  "This Duke his courser with his spurres smote,
   And at a start he was betwixt them two,
   And pulled out his sword and cried Ho!
   No more, up pain of losing of your head."

After discovering the cause of their enmity, the Duke ordained that that
day fifty weeks each should bring a hundred knights ready to fight in the
lists on his behalf--

                "And whether he or thou
  Shall with his hundred as I speak of now
  Slay his contrary or out of listes drive,
  Him shall I given Emilie to wive."

Each of the rivals rode through the country far and near during the fifty
weeks, to enlist valiant knights to make up his hundred; and on the eve of
the appointed day each party rode into Athens; and, says Chaucer, "never
did so small a band comprise so noble a company of knights":--

  "For every wight that loved chevalrie,
   And wolde, his thankes, have a lasting name,
   Hath praied that he might ben of that game,
   And well was he that thereto chosen was."

And the poet goes on with this testimony to the chivalrous feeling of his
own time:--

  "For if there fell to-morrow such a case,
   Ye knowen well that every lusty knyght
   That loveth par amour, and hath his might,
   Were it in Engleland or elleswhere,
   They wolde, hir thankes, willen to be there."

At length the day arrives:--

  "Gret was the feste in Athens thilke day.

      *       *       *       *       *

   And on the morrow when the day gan spring,
   Of horse and harness, noise and clattering
   There was in all the hostelries about:
   And to the palace rode there many a rout
   Of lordes upon stedes and palfries.
   There mayst thou see devising of harness
   So uncouth and so riche, and wrought so well,
   Of goldsmithry, of brouding, and of steel;
   The shieldes bright, testeres, and trappours;
   Gold-hewen helms, hawberks, cote-armures;
   Lordes in parements on their coursers,
   Knyghts of retenue and eke squires,
   Nailing the speares and helms buckeling,
   Gniding of shields with lainers lacing;
   There, as need is, they were nothing idle.
   The foaming steedes on the golden bridle
   Gnawing, and fast the armourers also
   With file and hammer pricking to and fro;
   Yeomen on foot, and commons many a one,
   With shorte staves thick as they may gon;
   Pipes, trompes, nakeres, and clariouns,
   That in the battaille blowen bloody sounes.
   The palais full of people up and down.

      *       *       *       *       *

   Duke Theseus is at a window sette,
   Arraied right as he were a god in throne;
   The people presseth thitherward full soon
   Him for to see, and do him reverence,
   And eke to hearken his heste and his sentence.
   An herauld on a scaffold made an O[395]
   Till that the noise of the people was ydo;
   And when he saw the people of noise all still,
   Thus shewed he the mighty Dukes will."

The Duke's will was, that none of the combatants should use any shot
(_i.e._ any missile), or poleaxe, or short knife, or short pointed sword,
but they were to run one course with sharp spears and then--

  "With long sword or with mace to fight their fill."

However, any one who was forcibly drawn to a stake--of which one was
planted at each end of the lists--should be _hors de combat_; and if
either of the leaders was slain or disabled or drawn to the stake, the
combat should cease.

  "Up goe the trumpets and the melodie
   And to the listes rode the compaynie.
   By ordinance throughout the city large
   Hanged with cloth of gold, and not with serge.

      *       *       *       *       *

   And thus they passen through the citie
   And to the listes comen they be-time
   It was not of the day yet fully prime,
   When set was Theseus full rich and high,
   Ipolita the queen and Emilie,
   And other ladies in degrees about,
   Unto the seates presseth all the rest."

Then Arcite and his hundred knights enter through the western side of the
lists under a red banner, and Palamon and his company at the same moment,
under a white banner, enter by the eastern gates.

  "And in two ranges fayre they hem dresse,
   When that their names read were every one,
   That in their number guile were there none.
   Then were the gates shut, and cried was loud,
   'Do now your devoir, young knyghtes proud.'
   The herauldes left there pricking up and down;
   Then ringen trompes loud and clarioun;
   There is no more to say, but east and west,
   In go the speres quickly into rest,
   In goeth the sharpe spur into the side;
   There see men who can juste and who can ride;
   There shiver shafts upon sheldes thick,
   He feeleth through the herte-spoon the prick.
   Up springen speres, twenty foot in hyhte,
   Out go the swords as the silver bright
   The helmes they to-hewen and to-shred;
   Out bursts the blood with sterne streames red.
   With mighty maces the bones they to-brest.
   He through the thickest of the throng gan thrust,
   There stumble steedes strong, and down goth all.
   He rolleth under foot as doth a ball!
   He foineth on his foe with a truncheon,
   And he him hurteth, with his horse adown;
   He through the body is hurt and sith ytake,
   Maugre his head, and brought unto the stake."

At last it happened to Palamon--

  "That by the force of twenty is he take
   Unyolden, and drawen to the stake.
   And when that Theseus had seen that sight,
   Unto the folk that foughten thus eche one
   He cried 'Ho! no more, for it is done!'
   The troumpors with the loud minstralcie,
   The herauldes that so loude yell and crie,
   Been in their joy for wele of Don Arcite.

      *       *       *       *       *

   This fierce Arcite hath off his helm ydone,
   And on a courser, for to show his face,
   He pusheth endilong the large place,
   Looking upward upon this Emilie,
   And she towards him cast a friendly eye;"

when, alas! his horse started, fell, and crushed the exulting victor, so
that he lay bruised to death in the listes which had seen his victory.
After a decent time of mourning, by Theseus's good offices, Emily accepts
her surviving lover:

  "And thus with alle blisse and melodie
   Hath Palamon ywedded Emelie."

The two curious woodcuts[396] on pages 425 and 426 show the style of
carriage associated--grotesquely associated, it seems to our eyes--with
the armour and costume of the Middle Ages. No. 1 might represent Duke
Theseus going in state through the streets of Athens, hung with tapestry
and cloth of gold, to the solemn deed of arms of Palamon and Arcite. No. 2
may represent to us the merry Sir Dinadan driving to the tournament of the
Castle of Maidens.



The archers of England were so famous during the Middle Ages that we feel
special interest in knowing something about them. As early as the Conquest
we find the Norman archers giving the invader a great advantage over the
Saxons, who had not cultivated this arm with success. Their equipment and
appearance may be seen in the Bayeux tapestry; most of them are evidently
unarmed, but some are in armour like that of the men-at-arms. Usually the
quiver hangs at the side; yet occasionally at the back, so that the arrows
are drawn out over the shoulder; both fashions continued in later times.
In one case, at least, an archer, in pursuit of the flying Saxons, is seen
on horseback; but it may be doubted whether at this period, as was the
case subsequently, some of the archers were mounted, or whether an archer
has leaped upon a riderless horse to pursue the routed enemy. The bow was
of the simplest construction, not so long as it afterwards became; the
arrows were barbed and feathered. Each archer--in later times, at
least--commonly carried two dozen arrows "under his belt." He also
frequently bore a stake sharpened at both ends, so that in the field, when
the front ranks fixed their stakes in the ground with their points sloping
outward, and the rear rank fixed theirs in the intermediate spaces, they
formed a _cheval de frise_ against cavalry, and, with the flanks properly
cared for, they could hold their ground even against the steel-clad
chivalry. Latterly also the archers were sometimes protected by a great
movable shield; this they fixed upright by a rest, and behind it were
sheltered from the adverse bowmen. The archer also carried a sword, so
that he could defend himself, if attacked, hand to hand; or act on the
offensive with the main body of foot when his artillery was expended. By
the twelfth century there are stories on record which show that the
English bowmen had acquired such skill as to make their weapon a very
formidable one. Richard of Devizes tells us that at the siege of Messina
the Sicilians were obliged to leave their walls unmanned, "because no one
could look abroad but he would have an arrow in his eye before he could
shut it."

In the thirteenth century the archer became more and more important. He
always began the battle at a distance, as the artillery do in modern
warfare, before the main bodies came up to actual hand-to-hand fighting.
We find in this century a regular use of mounted corps of bowmen and
cross-bowmen; and the knights did not scorn to practise the use of this
weapon, and occasionally to resort to it on a special occasion in the
field. Some of the bowmen continue to be found, in the MS. illustrations,
more or less fully armed, but the majority seem to have worn only a helmet
of iron, and perhaps half armour of leather, or often nothing more than a
woollen jerkin.

The cross-bow, or arbalest, does not appear to have been used in war until
the close of the twelfth century. It was not equal to the long-bow in
strong and skilful hands, because a powerful and skilful bowman, while he
could probably send his shaft with as much force as a cross-bow, could
shoot half-a-dozen arrows while the cross-bow was being wound up to
discharge a second bolt; but still, once introduced, the mechanical
advantage which the cross-bow gave to men of ordinary strength and of
inferior skill caused it to keep its ground, until the invention of
fire-arms gradually superseded both long-bow and arbalest. The bow of the
cross-bow seems to have been usually of steel; some of them were strung by
putting the foot into a loop at the end of the stock, and pulling the cord
up to its notch by main force: an illustration of this early form appears
in the arbalester shooting from the battlement of the castle in the early
fourteenth-century illumination on p. 381, and another at p. 382; but the
more powerful bows required some mechanical assistance to bring the string
to its place. In a picture in the National Gallery of the Martyrdom of St.
Sebastian, by Antonio Pollajuolo, of Florence, A.D. 1475, an arbalester
has a cord attached to his belt, and a pulley running on it, with a hook
to catch the bow-string, so that, putting his foot into the loop at the
end of the stock, looping the end of the cord on to a hook at its butt,
and catching the bow-string by the pulley, he could, by straightening
himself, apply the whole force of his body to the stringing of his weapon.
More frequently, however, a little winch was used, by which the string was
wound into its place with little expenditure of strength. One of the men
in the cut on the next page is thus stringing his bow, and it is seen
again in the cut on p. 449. The arrow shot by the cross-bow was called a
bolt or quarrel; it was shorter and stouter than an ordinary arrow, with a
heavier head. The arbalester seems to have carried fifty bolts into the
field with him; the store of bolts was carried by waggons which followed
the army.

We have already said that there were, from the thirteenth century, bodies
of mounted arbalesters. But the far larger proportion of archers, of both
arms, were footmen, who were usually placed in front of the array to
commence the engagement.

The arbalest, however, was more used on the Continent than in England; and
hence the long-bow came to be especially considered the national arm of
the English, while the Genoese became famous as arbalesters. The superior
rapidity of fire gave the English archer the same advantage over his
foemen that the needle-gun gave to the Prussians in the late war.

Later on, in the fourteenth century, the battle seems to have been usually
begun by the great machines for throwing stones and darts which then
played the part of modern cannon, while the bowmen were placed on the
flanks. Frequently, also, archers were intermixed with the horsemen, so
that a body of spearmen with archers among them would play the part which
a body of dragoons did in more modern warfare, throwing the opposing ranks
into confusion with missiles, before charging upon them hand to hand.

In the fourteenth century the bow had attained the climax of its
reputation as a weapon, and in the French wars many a battle was decided
by the strength and skill and sturdy courage of the English bowmen. Edward
III. conferred honour on the craft by raising a corps of archers of the
King's Guard, consisting of 120 men, the most expert who could be found in
the kingdom. About the same period the French kings enrolled from their
allies of Scotland the corps of Scottish Archers of the Guard, who were
afterwards so famous.

We have already given a good illustration of the long-bowman from the
Royal MS. 14, E. IV., a folio volume illustrated with very fine pictures
executed for our King Edward IV. From the same MS. we now take an
illustration of the cross-bow. The accompanying cut is part of a larger
picture which represents several interesting points in a siege. On the
right is a town surrounded by a moat; the approach to the bridge over the
moat is defended by an outwork, and the arbalesters in the cut are
skirmishing with some bowmen on the battlements and angle-turrets of this
outwork. On the left of the picture are the besiegers. They have erected a
wooden castle with towers, surrounded by a timber breast-work. In front of
this breast-work is an elaborate cannon of the type of that represented in
the cut on page 392. At a little distance is a battery of one cannon
elevated on a wooden platform, and screened by a breast-work of
basket-work, which was a very usual way of concealing cannon down to the
time of Henry VIII.

[Illustration: _Bowmen and Arbalesters._]

The man on the right of the cut wears a visored helmet, but it has no
amail; his body is protected by a skirt of mail, which appears at the
shoulders and hips, and at the openings of his blue surcoat; the legs are
in brown hose, and the feet in brown shoes. The centre figure has a helmet
and camail, sleeves of mail, and iron breastplate of overlapping plates;
the upper plate and the skirt are of red spotted with gold; his hose and
shoes are of dark grey. The third man has a helmet with camail, and the
body protected by mail, which shows under the arm, but he has also
shoulder-pieces and elbow-pieces of plate; his surcoat is yellow, and his
hose red. The artist has here admirably illustrated the use of the
crossbow. In one case we see the archer stringing it by help of a little
winch; in the next he is taking a bolt out of the quiver at his side with
which to load his weapon; in the third we have the attitude in which it
was discharged.

[Illustration: _Arbalesters._]

The illustration above, from a fourteenth-century MS. (Cott. Julius, E.
IV. f. 219), represents a siege. A walled town is on the right, and in
front of the wall, acting on the part of the town, are the cross-bowmen in
the cut, protected by great shields which are kept upright by a rest. The
men seem to be preparing to fire, and the uniformity of their attitude,
compared with the studied variety of attitude of groups of bowmen in other
illustrations, suggests that they are preparing to fire a volley. On the
left of the picture is sketched a group of tents representing the camp of
the besiegers, and in front of the camp is a palisade which screens a
cannon of considerable length. The whole picture is only sketched in with
pen and ink.

The woodcut here given (Royal 14, E. IV. f. xiv.) forms part of a large
and very interesting picture. In the middle of the picture is a castle
with a bridge, protected by an advanced tower, and a postern with a
drawbridge drawn up. Archers, cross-bowmen, and men-at-arms man the
battlements. In front is a group of men-at-arms and tents, with archers
and cross-bowmen shooting up at the defenders. On the right is a group of
men-at-arms who seem to be meditating an attack by surprise upon the
postern. On the left, opposed to the principal gate, is the timber fort
shown in the woodcut. Its construction, of great posts and thick slabs of
timber strengthened with stays and cross-beams, is well indicated. There
seem to be two separate works: one is a battery of two cannon, the cannon
having wheeled carriages; the other is manned by archers. It is curious to
see the mixture of arms--long-bow, cross-bow, portable fire-arm, and
wheeled cannon, all used at the same time; indeed, it may be questioned
whether the earlier fire-arms were very much superior in effect to the
more ancient weapons which they supplanted. No doubt many an archer
preferred the long-bow, with which he could shoot with truer aim than with
a clumsy hand-gun; and perhaps a good catapult was only inferior to one of
the early cannon in being a larger and heavier engine.

[Illustration: _Timber Fort._]

At fol. l v. of the same MS., a wooden tower and lofty breast-work have
been thrown up in front of a town by the defenders as an additional
protection to the usual stone tower which defends the approach to the
bridge. The assailants are making an assault on this breast-work, and need
ladders to scale it; so that it is evident the defenders stand on a raised
platform behind their timber defence. See a similar work at f. xlviij.,
which is mounted with cannon.

The practice of archery by the commonalty of England was protected and
encouraged by a long series of legislation. As early as Henry I. we find
an enactment--which indicates that such accidents happened then as do
unhappily in these days, when rifle-shooting is become a national
practice--that if any one practising with arrows or with darts should by
accident slay another, it was not to be punished as a crime. In the
fourteenth century, when the archer had reached the height of his
importance in the warfare of the time, many enactments were passed on the
subject. Some were intended to encourage, and more than encourage, the
practice by the commonalty of what had become the national arm. In 1363,
and again in 1388, statutes were passed calling upon the people to leave
their popular amusements of ball and coits and casting the stone and the
like, on their festivals and Sundays, and to practise archery instead.
"Servants and labourers shall have bows and arrows, and use the same the
Sundays and holidays, and leave all playing at tennis or foot-ball, and
other games called coits, dice, casting the stone, kailes, and other such
inopportune games."

In 1482 a statute says that the dearness of bows has driven the people to
leave shooting, and practise unlawful games, though the king's subjects
are perfectly disposed to shoot; and it therefore regulates the price of
bows. This crude legislation, of course, failed to remedy the evil, for if
the bowyers could not sell them at a profit, they would cease to make
them, or rather to import the wood of which they were made, since the best
yew for bows came from abroad, English yew not supplying pieces
sufficiently long without knots. Accordingly, in 1483, another statute
required all merchants sending merchandise to England from any place from
which bow-staves were usually exported, to send four bow-staves for every
ton of merchandise, and two persons were appointed at each port to inspect
the staves so sent, and mark and reject those which were not good and

Still later the erection of butts was encouraged in every parish to
prevent the accidents which the statute of Henry I. had directed justice
to wink at; and traces of them still remain in the names of places, as in
Newington Butts; and still more frequently in the names of fields, as the

Our history of ancient artillery would be imperfect without a few words on
the modern artillery of metal balls propelled from hollow tubes by the
explosive force of gunpowder, which superseded the slings and bows and
darts, the catapults and trebuchets and mangonels and battering-rams,
which had been used from the beginning of warfare in the world, and also
drove out of use the armour, whether of leather, bone, or steel, which
failed to pay in security of person against shot and cannon-ball for its
weight and encumbrance to the wearer. A good deal of curious inquiry has
been bestowed upon the origin of this great agent in the revolution of
modern warfare. The Chinese and Arabs are generally regarded as the first
inventors of gunpowder; among Europeans its invention has been attributed
to Marcus Graecus, Albertus Magnus, Barthold Schwaletz, and Roger Bacon.

The first written evidence relating to the existence of cannon is in the
ordinances of Florence, in the year 1326, wherein authority is given to
the Priors Gonfalionieri and twelve good men to appoint persons to
superintend the manufacture of cannons and iron balls for the defence of
the Commune Camp and territory of the Republic. J. Barbour, the poet, is
usually quoted as an authority for the use of cannon "crakeys of war," by
Edward III., in his Scottish campaign, in the year 1327. But since Barbour
was not born till about that year, and did not write till 1375, his
authority was not contemporary and may be doubted, especially since there
is strong negative evidence to the contrary: _e.g._ that all the army
accounts of this campaign still remain, and no mention of guns or
gunpowder is to be found in them. In 1338, however, there is
unquestionable evidence that cannon of both iron and brass were employed
on board English ships of war. In an inventory of things delivered that
year by John Starling, formerly clerk of the king's vessels, to Helmyng,
keeper of the same, are noted "un canon de fer ov ii chambers, un autre de
bras ove une chamber, iii canons de fer of v chambres, un handgonne," &c.
In explanation of the two and five chambers, it appears that these
earliest cannon were breechloaders, and each cannon had several movable
chambers to contain the charges. The same year, 1338, gives the first
French document relating to cannon. It is doubly interesting; first
because it relates to the provision made for an expedition against
Southampton in that year, and secondly because it was a curious attempt to
combine the cannon and the arbalest, in other words, to make use of the
force of gunpowder for propelling the old short quarrel. It was an iron
fire-arm provided with forty-eight bolts (carreaux) made of iron and
feathered with brass. We learn that a tube received the arrow, which was
wrapped round with leather at the butt to make it fit closely, and this
tube fitted to a box, or chamber, which contained the charge and was kept
in its place by a wedge.[397] In 1339 it is recorded that the English used
cannon at the siege of Cambray. In 1346 experiments on improved cannon
were made by Peter of Bruges, a famous maker, before the consuls of
Tournay. At the siege of Calais, in 1347, the English built a castle of
wood, and armed it with bombards. In the household expenses of Edward
III., commencing 1344, are payments to "engyners lvii., artillers vi.,
gunners vi.," who each received sixpence a day.

The date of the first appearance of cannon in the field is still
disputed; some say they were used at Crecy in the year 1346. Certainly,
in 1382, the men of Ghent carried guns into the field against the
Brugeois; and at the combat of Pont-de-Comines, in the same year, we read
_bombardes portatives_ were used.

[Illustration: _Long-bow, Arquebus, Cannon, and Greek Fire._]

We have already given several illustrations of cannon. Siege cannon for
throwing heavy balls which did not need very great accuracy of aim, soon
superseded entirely the more cumbrous military engines which were formerly
used for the same purpose. But hand-guns were not at first so greatly
superior to bows, and did not so rapidly come into exclusive use. And yet
a good deal of inventive ingenuity was bestowed upon their improvement and
development. The "Brown Bess" of our great continental war was a clumsy
weapon after all, and it may fairly be doubted whether a regiment armed
with it could have stood against a row of Robin Hood's men with their
long-bows. It was really left to our day to produce a portable fire-arm
which would fire as rapidly, as far, and with as accurate an aim as Robin
Hood's men could shoot their cloth-yard shafts six hundred years ago; and
yet it is curious to find some of the most ingenious inventions of the
present day anticipated long since: there are still preserved in the Tower
armoury breech-loaders and revolving chambers and conical shot of the time
of Henry VIII.

The woodcut on the preceding page, which is from the MS. Royal 14, E. IV.,
contains several figures taken from one of the large illuminations that
adorn the MS.; it affords another curious illustration of the simultaneous
use of various forms of projectiles. On the right side is an archer, with
his sheaf at his belt and his sword by his side. On the left is a
man-at-arms in a very picturesque suit of complete armour, firing a
hand-gun of much more modern form than those in the former woodcut. A
small wheeled cannon on the ground shows the contemporary form of that
arm, while the pikes beside it help to illustrate the great variety of
weapons in use. The cross-bowman here introduced is from the same
illumination; he is winding up his weapon with a winch, like the
cross-bowman on p. 442; his shield is slung at his back.

[Illustration: _Cross-bow._]

But we have specially to call attention to the two men who are throwing
shells, which are probably charged with Greek fire. This invention, which
inspired such terror in the Middle Ages, seems to have been discovered in
the east of Europe, and to have been employed as early as the seventh
century. We hear much of its use in the Crusades, by the Greeks, who early
possessed the secret of its fabrication. They used it either by ejecting
it through pipes to set fire to the shipping or military engines, or to
annoy and kill the soldiers of the enemy; or they cast it to a distance by
means of vessels charged with it affixed to javelins; or they hurled
larger vessels by means of the great engines for casting stones; or they
threw the fire by hand in a hand-to-hand conflict; or used hollow maces
charged with it, which were broken over the person of the enemy, and the
liquid fire poured down, finding its way through the crevices of his
armour. It was, no doubt, a terrible sight to see a man-at-arms or a ship
wrapped in an instant in liquid flames; and what added to the terror it
inspired was that the flames could not be extinguished by water or any
other available appliance. On the introduction of the use of gunpowder in
European warfare, Greek fire seems also to have been experimented upon,
and we find several representations of its use in the MS. drawings where
it is chiefly thrown by hand to set fire to shipping; in the present
example, however, it is used in the field.

[Illustration: _Battering-ram._]

Lastly, in the above cut we give a representation of the battering-ram
from an interesting work which illustrates all the usual military
engines.[398] It contains curious contrivances for throwing up
scaling-ladders and affixing them to the battlements, from which the
inventors of our fire-escapes may have borrowed suggestions; and others
for bridging wide moats and rivers with light scaffolding, which could be
handled and fixed as easily and quickly as the scaling-ladders. The
drawing of the ram only indicates that the machine consists of a heavy
square beam of timber, provided, probably, with a metal head, which is
suspended by a rope from a tall frame, and worked by manual strength. The
cut is especially interesting as an illustration of the style of armour of
the latter part of the fifteenth century. It gives the back as well as the
front of the figure, and also several varieties of helmet.



As the fifteenth century advanced the wars of the Roses gave urgent reason
for attention to the subject of defensive armour; and we find,
accordingly, that the fashions of armour underwent many modifications, in
the attempt to give the wearer more perfect protection for life and limb.
It would be tedious to enter into the minute details of these changes, and
the exact date of their introduction; we must limit ourselves to a brief
history of the general character of the new fashions. The horizontal bands
of armour called _taces_, depending from the corslet, became gradually
narrower; while the pieces which hung down in front of the thighs, called
_tuilles_, became proportionately larger. In the reigns of Richard III.
and Henry VII. the knightly equipment reached its strangest forms. Besides
the usual close-fitting pieces which protected the arms, the elbow-piece
was enlarged into an enormous fan-like shape that not only protected the
elbow itself, but overlapped the fore arm, and by its peculiar shape
protected the upper arm up to the shoulder. The shoulder-pieces also were
strengthened, sometimes by several super-imposed overlapping plates,
sometimes by hammering it out into ridges, sometimes by the addition of a
_passe garde_--a kind of high collar which protected the neck from a
sweeping side blow. The breastplate is globular in shape, and often narrow
at the waist; from it depend narrow _taces_ and _tuilles_, and under the
_tuilles_ we often find a deep skirt of mail. When broad-toed shoes came
into fashion, the iron shoes of the knight followed the fashion; and at
the same time, in place of the old gauntlet in which the fingers were
divided, and each finger protected by several small plates of metal, the
leather glove was now furnished at the back of the hand with three or four
broad over-lapping plates, like those of a lobster, each of which
stretched across the whole hand. These alterations may have added to the
strength of the armour, but it was at the cost of elegance of appearance.
A suit of armour embossed with ornamental patterns, partially covered with
a blue mantle, may be seen in the fifteenth-century Book of Hours, Harl.
5,328, f. 77.

In the time of Henry VIII., in place of the _taces_ and _tuilles_ for the
defence of the body and thighs, a kind of skirt of steel, called
_lamboys_, was introduced, which was fluted and ribbed vertically, so as
to give it very much the appearance of a short petticoat. Henry VIII. is
represented in this costume in the equestrian figure on his great seal.
And a suit of armour of this kind, a very magnificent one, which was
presented to the king by the Emperor Maximilian on the occasion of his
marriage to Katharine of Arragon, is preserved in the Tower armoury. A
good sketch of a suit of this kind will be seen in one of the pikemen--the
fifth from the right hand--in the nearest rank of the army in the
engraving of King Henry VIII.'s army, which faces page 455. The armour of
this reign was sometimes fashioned in exact imitation of the shape of the
ordinary garments of a gentleman of the time, and engraved and inlaid in
imitation of their woven or embroidered ornamentation.

In the tournament armour of the time the defences were most complete, but
unwieldy and inelegant. The front of the saddle had a large piece of
armour attached, which came up to protect the trunk, and was bent round to
encase each thigh. A clearly drawn representation of this will be found in
a tilting scene in the illumination on f. 15 v. of the MS. Add. 24,189,
date _circa_ 1400 A.D. There are several examples of it in the Tower
armoury. The shield was also elaborately shaped and curved, to form an
outer armour for the defence of the whole of the left side. Instead of the
shield there was sometimes an additional piece of armour, called the
_grand garde_, screwed to the breastplate, to protect the left side and
shoulder; while the great spear had also a piece of armour affixed in
front of the grasp, which not only protected the hand, but was made large
enough to make a kind of shield for the right arm and breast. There was
also sometimes a secondary defence affixed to the upper part of the
breastplate, which stood out in front of the face. These defences for
thigh and breast will be observed in the woodcut of the "playing at
tournament," on p. 408; and in the combat of the Earl of Warwick, p. 418,
will be seen how the _grande garde_ is combined with the _volante_ piece
which came in front of the face. Behind such defences the tilter must have
been almost invulnerable. On the other hand, his defences were so unwieldy
that he must have got into his saddle first, and then have been packed
securely into his armour; and when there, he could do nothing but sit
still and hold his spear in rest--it seems impossible for him even to have
struck a single sword stroke. James I.'s remark on armour was especially
true of such a suit: "It was an admirable invention which preserved a man
from being injured, and made him incapable of injuring any one else."

[Illustration: _Combat on Foot._]

There are several very good authorities for the military costume of the
reign of Henry VIII. easily accessible to the student and artist. The
roll preserved in the College of Arms which represents the tournament held
at Westminster, A.D. 1510, in honour of the birth of the son of Henry and
Katharine of Arragon, has been engraved in the "Vetusta Monumenta." The
painting of the Field of the Cloth of Gold at Hampton Court is another
contemporary authority full of costumes of all kinds. The engravings of
Hans Burgmaier, in the _Triumphs of Maximilian_ and the _Weise Könige_
contain numerous authorities very valuable for the clearness and artistic
skill with which the armour is depicted. We have given an illustration, on
the preceding page, reduced from one of the plates of the latter work,
which represents a combat of two knights, on foot. The armour is partly
covered by a surcoat; in the left-hand figure it will be seen that it is
fluted. The shields will be noticed as illustrating one of the shapes then
in use.

But our best illustration is from a contemporary drawing in the British
Museum (Aug. III., f. 4), which represents Henry VIII.'s army, and gives
us, on a small scale, and in very sketchy but intelligible style, a
curious and valuable picture of the military equipment of the period. We
have two armies drawn up in battle array, and the assault is just
commenced. The nearer army has its main body of pikemen, who, we know from
contemporary writers, formed the main strength of an army at this time,
and for long after. In front of them are two lines of arquebusiers. Their
front is protected by artillery, screened by great _mantelets_ of timber.
The opposing army has similarly its main body of pikemen, and its two
lines of arquebusiers; the first line engaged in an assault upon the
enemy's artillery. On the left flank of its main body is the cavalry; and
there seems to be a reserve of pikemen a little distance in the rear,
behind a rising ground. Tents pitched about a village represent the
head-quarters of the army, and baggage waggons on the left of the picture
show that the artist has overlooked nothing. A fortress in the distance
seems to be taking part in the engagement with its guns.

There are other similar pictures in the same volume, some of which supply
details not here given, or not so clearly expressed. At folio 1 are two
armies, each with a van of musketeers three deep, a main body of pikemen
eleven deep, and a third line of musketeers three deep. The cavalry are
more distinctly shown than in the picture before us, as being men-at-arms
in full armour, with lances. At folio 3 the drummers, fifers, and baggage
and camp followers are shown.

In the _Weise Könige_,[399] on plate 44, is a representation of a camp
surrounded by the baggage waggons; on plates 91 and 96 a square fort of
timber in the field of battle; on plates 57, 84, &c., are cannons
surrounded by mantelets, some of wicker probably filled with earth; on
plate 60 is a good representation of a column of troops defiling out of
the gate of a city.

The following account, from Grafton's Chronicle, of the array in which
Henry VIII. took the field when he marched to the siege of Boulogne, will
illustrate the picture:--

"The xxj. day of July (1513), when all thinges by counsayle had bene
ordered concernyng the order of battaile, the king passed out of the town
of Calice in goodly array of battaile, and toke the field. And
notwithstandyng that the forewarde and the rerewarde of the kinges great
armye were before Tyrwin, as you have heard, yet the king of his own
battaile made three battailes after the fassion of the warre. The Lord
Lisle, marshall of the hoste, was captain of the foreward, and under him
three thousand men; Sir Rychard Carew, with three hundred men, was the
right-hand wing to the foreward; and the Lord Darcy, with three hundred
men, was wing on the left hande; the scowrers and fore-ryders of this
battaile were the Northumberland men on light geldings. The Erle of Essex
was lieutenaunt-generall of the speres, and Sir John Pechy was
vice-governour of the horsemen. Before the king went viij. hundred
Almaynes, all in a plump by themselves. After them came the standard with
the red dragon, next the banner of our ladie, and next after the banner of
the Trinitie: under the same were all the kinges housholde servauntes.
Then went the banner of the armes of Englande, borne by Sir Henry
Guilforde, under which banner was the king himselfe, with divers noblemen
and others, to the number of three thousand men. The Duke of Buckyngham,
with sixe hundred men, was on the kinges left hande, egall with the
Almaynes; in like wise on the right hande was Sir Edward Pournynges, with
other sixe hundred men egall with the Almaynes. The Lord of Burgoynie,
with viij. hundred men, was wing on the right hande; Sir William Compton,
with the retinue of the Bishop of Winchester, and Master Wolsey, the
king's almoner,[400] to the number of viij. hundred, was in manner of a
rereward. Sir Anthony Oughtred and Sir John Nevell, with the kinges speres
that followed, were foure hundred; and so the whole armie were xj.
thousand and iij. hundred men. The Mayster of the Ordinaunce set forth the
kinges artillerie, as fawcons, slinges, bombardes, cartes with powder,
stones, bowes, arrowes, and suche other thinges necessary for the fielde;
the whole number of the carriages were xiij. hundreth; the leaders and
dryvers of the same were xix hundreth men; and all these were rekened in
the battaile, but of good fightyng men there were not full ix. thousande.
Thus in order of battayle the king rode to Sentreyla."

[Illustration: _Pikeman._]

A little after we have a description of the king's camp, which will
illustrate the other pictures above noted.

"Thursedaie, the fourth daye of Auguste, the king, in good order of
battaile, came before the city of Tyrwyn, and planted his siege in most
warlike wise; his camp was environed with artillerie, as fawcons,
serpentines, crakys, hagbushes, and tryed harowes, spien trestyles, and
other warlike defence for the savegard of the campe. The king for himselfe
had a house of timber, with a chimney of iron; and for his other lodgings
he had great and goodlye tents of blewe waterworke, garnished with yellow
and white, and divers romes within the same for all officers necessarie.
On the top of the pavalions stoode the kinges bestes, holding fanes, as
the lion, the dragon, the greyhound, the antelope, the Done Kowe.[401]
Within, all the lodginge was paynted full of the sunnes rising: the
lodginge was a hundred xxv. foote in length."

At folio 5 of the MS. already referred to (Aug. III.) is a connected
arrangement of numerous tents, as if to form some such royal quarters. But
at folio 8 are two gorgeous _suites_ of tents, which can hardly have been
constructed for any other than a very great personage. One _suite_ is of
red, watered, with gold ornamentation; the other is of green and white
stripes (or rather gores), with a gilded cresting along the ridge, and red
and blue fringe at the eaves.

Our next engravings are from coloured drawings at f. 9, in the same MS.,
and respectively represent very clearly the half-armour worn by the
pikeman and the arquebusier, and the weapons from which they took their

In the reign of Elizabeth and James I. armour was probably very little
worn; but every country knight and esquire possessed a suit of armour,
which usually hung in his hall over his chair of state, surrounded by
corslets and iron hats, pikes and halberts, cross-bows and long-bows,
wherewith to arm his serving-men and tenants, if civil troubles or foreign
invasion should call the fighting-men of the country into the field.[402]
The knights and esquires of these times are also commonly represented in
armour, kneeling at the prayer-desk, in their monumental effigies. The
fashion of the armour differs from that of preceding reigns. The elaborate
ingenuities of the latter part of the fifteenth century have been
dispensed with, and the extravagant caprices also by which the armour of
Henry VIII.'s time imitated in steel the fashion of the ordinary costume
of the day are equally abandoned. The armour is simply made to fit the
breast, body, arms, and legs; the thighs being protected by a modification
of the _tuilles_ in the form of a succession of overlapping plates
(_tassets_ or _cuisses_) which reach from the corslet to the knee.

[Illustration: _Arquebusier._]

The civil war of the Great Rebellion offers a tempting theme, but we must
limit ourselves to the notice that few, except great noblemen when acting
as military leaders, ever wore anything like a complete suit of armour. A
beautiful suit, inlaid with gold, which belonged to Charles I., is in the
Tower armoury. But knights are still sometimes represented in armour in
their monumental effigies. A breast and back-plate over a leather coat,
and a round iron cap, were commonly worn both by cavalry and infantry.

In the time of Charles II. and James II., and William and Mary, officers
still wore breastplates, and military leaders were sometimes painted in
full armour, though it may be doubted whether they ever actually wore it.
As late as the present century, officers, in some regiments at least, wore
a little steel gorget, rather as a distinction than a defence. But even
yet our horse-guards remain with their breast and back-plates and helmets,
and their thick leather boots, to show us how bright steel and scarlet,
waving plumes and embroidered banners, trained chargers and gay trappings,
give outward bravery and chivalric grace to the holiday aspect of the
sanguinary trade of war.




In the remotest antiquity, before European civilisation dawned in Greece,
Britain was already of some commercial importance. In those days, before
the art of tempering iron was discovered, copper occupied the place which
iron now fills. But an alloy of tin was requisite to give to copper the
hardness and edge needed to fit it for useful tools for the artisan, for
arrow and spear heads for the hunter, and for the warrior's sword and
shield; and there were only two places known in the world where this
valuable metal could be obtained--Spain and Britain. For ages the
Phoenician merchants and their Carthaginian colonists had a monopoly of
this commerce, as they only had the secret of the whereabouts of the
"Isles of Tin." It is very difficult for us to realise to ourselves how
heroic was the daring of those early adventurers. We, who have explored
the whole earth, and by steam and telegraph brought every corner of it
within such easy reach; we, to whom it is a very small matter to make a
voyage with women and children to the other side of the world; we, who
walk down to the pier to see the ships return from the under world,
keeping their time as regularly as the Minster clock--we cannot comprehend
what it was to them, to whom the tideless sunny Mediterranean was "The
Great Sea," about which they groped cautiously from one rocky headland to
another in fine weather, and laid up in harbour for the winter; to whom
the Pillars of Hercules were the western boundary of the world, beyond
which the weird ocean with its great tides and mountain-waves stretched
without limit towards the sunset; we cannot comprehend the heroic daring
of the men who, in those little ships, without compass, came from the
easternmost shores of the Great Sea, ventured through its western portal
into this outer waste, and steered boldly northwards towards the unknown
regions of ice and darkness.

Our readers will remember that Strabo tells us how, when Rome became the
rival of Carthage, the Romans tried to discover the route to these
mysterious islands. He relates how the master of a Carthaginian vessel,
finding himself pursued by one whom the Romans had appointed to watch him,
purposely ran his vessel aground, and thus sacrificing ship and cargo to
the preservation of the national secret, was repaid on his return out of
the public treasury.

The trade, which included lead and hides as well as tin, when it left the
hands of the Phoenicians, did not, however, fall into those of the Romans,
but took quite a different channel. The Greek colony of Marseilles became
then the emporium from which the world was supplied; but the scanty
accounts we have received imply that it was not conveyed there direct on
ship-board, but that the native ships and traders of the Gallic towns on
the coasts of the Continent conveyed the British commerce across the
Channel, and thence transported it overland to Marseilles.

The Britons, however, had ships, and it is interesting to know of what
kind were the prototypes of the vast and magnificent vessels which in
later days have composed the mercantile navy of Great Britain. They were a
kind of large basket of wickerwork, in shape like a walnut shell,
strengthened by ribs of wood, covered on the outside with hides.[403] Such
constructions seem very frail, but they were capable of undertaking
considerable voyages. Pliny quotes the old Greek historian Timæus as
affirming that the Britons used to make their way to an island at the
distance of six days' sail in boats made of osiers and covered with
skins. Solinus states that in his time the communication between Britain
and Ireland was kept up on both sides by means of these vessels. Two
passages in Adamson, quoted by Macpherson,[404] tell us that the people
sailed in them from Ireland as far as Orkney, and on one occasion we hear
of one of these frail vessels advancing as far into the Northern Ocean as
fourteen days with full sail before a south wind. The common use of such
vessels, and the fact of this intercommunication between England and
Ireland and the islands farther north, seem to imply, at least, some
coasting and inter-insular traffic: ships are the instruments either of
war or commerce.

The invasion of Julius Cæsar opened up the island to the knowledge of the
civilised world, and there are indications that in the interval of a
hundred years between his brief campaign and the actual conquest under
Claudius, a commerce sprang up between the south and south-east of Britain
and the opposite coasts of the Continent. In this interval the first
British coinage was struck, and London became the chief emporium of
Britain. When the island became a province of the Roman empire, active
commercial intercourse was carried on between it and the rest of the
empire. Its chief production was corn, of which large quantities were
exported, so that Britain was to the northern part of the empire what
Sicily was to the southern. Besides, the island exported cattle, hides,
and slaves; British hunting dogs were famous, and British oysters and
pearls. The imports would include all the articles of convenience and
luxury used by the civilised inhabitants. We do not know with certainty
whether this foreign commerce was carried on by British vessels or not.
History has only preserved the record of the military navy. But when we
know that the British fleet, which had been raised to control the
piratical enterprises of the Saxons and Northmen, was so powerful that its
admiral, Carausius, was able to seize upon a share of the empire, and that
his successor in command, Allectus, was able, though for a shorter period,
to repeat the exploit, we may conclude that the natives of the island must
have acquired considerable knowledge and experience of maritime affairs,
and were very likely to turn their acquirements in the direction of
commerce. Many of the representations of Roman ships, to be found in works
on Roman antiquities, would illustrate this part of the subject; we may
content ourselves with referring the reader to a representation, in
Witsen's "Sheeps Bouw," of a Roman ship being laden with merchandise: a
half-naked porter is just putting on board a sack, probably of corn, which
is being received by a man in Roman armour; it brings the salient features
of the trade at once before our eyes.

The Saxon invasion overwhelmed the civilisation which was then widely
spread over Britain; and of the history of the country for a long time
after that great event we are profoundly ignorant.

It appears that the Saxons after their settlement in England completely
neglected the sea, and it was not until the reign of Alfred, towards the
end of the ninth century, that they again began to build ships, and not
until some years later that foreign commerce was carried on in English
vessels. In these later Saxon times, however, considerable intercourse
took place with the Continent. There was a rage among Saxon men, and women
too, for foreign pilgrimages; and thousands of persons were continually
going and coming between England and the most famous shrines of Europe,
especially those of Rome, the capital city of Western Christendom. Among
these travellers were some whose object was traffic, probably in the
portable articles of jewellery for which the Saxon goldsmiths were famous
throughout Europe. It seems probable that some of these merchants were
accustomed to adopt the pilgrims' character and habit in order to avail
themselves of the immunities and hospitalities accorded to them; and,
perhaps, on the other hand, some of those whose first object was religion,
carried a few articles for sale to eke out their expenses. This, probably,
is the explanation of the earliest extant document bearing on Saxon
commerce, which is a letter from the Emperor Charlemagne to Offa, King of
the Mercians, in which he says: "Concerning the strangers, who, for the
love of God and the salvation of their souls, wish to repair to the
thresholds of the blessed Apostles, let them travel in peace without any
trouble; nevertheless, if any are found among them not in the service of
religion, but in the pursuit of gain, let them pay the established duties
at the proper places. We also will that merchants shall have lawful
protection in our kingdom; and if they are in any place unjustly
aggrieved, let them apply to us or our judges, and we shall take care that
ample justice be done them." The latter clause seems clearly to imply that
English merchants in their acknowledged character were also to be found in
the dominions of the great Emperor.

The next notice we find of Saxon foreign commerce is equally picturesque,
and far more important. It is a law passed in the reign of King Athelstan,
between 925 and 950, which enacts that every merchant who shall have made
three voyages over the sea in a ship and cargo of his own should have the
rank of a thane, or nobleman. It will throw light upon this law, if we
mention that it stands side by side with another which gives equally
generous recognition to success in agricultural pursuits: every one who
had so prospered that he possessed five hides of land, a hall, and a
church, was also to rank as a thane.

The law indicates the usual way in which foreign commerce was carried on
by native merchants. The merchant owned his own ship, and laded it with
his own cargo, and was his own captain, though he might, perhaps, employ
some skilful mariner as his ship-master; and, no doubt, his crew was well
armed for protection from pirates. In these days a ship is often chartered
to carry a cargo to a particular port, and there the captain obtains
another cargo, such as the market affords him, to some other port, and so
he may wander over the world in the most unforeseen manner before he finds
a profitable opportunity of returning to his starting-place. So, probably,
in those times the spirited merchant would not merely oscillate between
home and a given foreign point, but would carry on a traffic of an
adventurous and hazardous but exciting kind, from one of the great
European ports to another.

From a volume of Saxon dialogues in the British Museum (Tiberius, A.
III.), apparently intended for a school-book, which gives information of
various kinds in the form of question and answer, Mr. S. Turner quotes a
passage that illustrates our subject in a very interesting way. The
merchant is introduced as one of the characters, to give an account of his
occupation and way of life. "I am useful," he says, "to the king and to
ealdormen, and to the rich, and to all people. I ascend my ship with my
merchandise, and sail over the sea-like places, and sell my things, and
buy dear things which are not produced in this land, and I bring them to
you here with great danger over the sea; and sometimes I suffer shipwreck
with the loss of all my things, scarcely escaping myself." The question,
"What do you bring us?" demands an account of the imports, to which he
answers, "Skins, silks, costly gems, and gold; various garments, pigment,
wine, oil, ivory, and onchalcus (perhaps brass); copper, tin, silver,
glass, and such like." The author has omitted to make his merchant tell us
what things he exported, but from other sources we gather that they were
chiefly wool, slaves, probably some of the metals, viz., tin and lead, and
the goldsmith's work and embroidery for which the Saxons were then famous
throughout Europe. The dialogue brings out the principle which lies at the
bottom of commerce by the next question, "Will you sell your things here
as you bought them there?" "I will not, because what would my labour
profit me? I will sell them here, dearer than I bought them there, that I
may get some profit to feed me, my wife, and children." For the silks and
ivory, our merchant would perhaps have to push his adventurous voyage as
far as Marseilles or Italy. Corn, which used to be the chief export in
British and Roman times, appears never to have been exported by the
Saxons; they were a pastoral, rather than an agricultural, people. The
traffic in slaves seems to have been regular and considerable. The reader
will remember how the sight of a number of fair English children exposed
for sale in the Roman market-place excited Gregory's interest, and led
ultimately to Augustine's mission. The contemporary account of Wolfstan,
Bishop of Worcester, at the time of the Conquest, speaks of similar scenes
to be witnessed in Bristol, from which port slaves were exported to
Ireland--probably to the Danes, who were then masters of the east coast.
"You might have seen with sorrow long ranks of young people of both sexes,
and of the greatest beauty, tied together with ropes, and daily exposed to
sale: nor were these men ashamed--O horrid wickedness--to give up their
nearest relations, nay their own children, to slavery." The good bishop
induced them to abandon the trade, "and set an example to all the rest of
England to do the same." Nevertheless, William of Malmesbury, who wrote
nearly a century later, says that the practice of selling even their
nearest relations into slavery had not been altogether abandoned by the
people of Northumberland in his own memory.

Already, on the death of Ethelbert, in 1016, the citizens of London had
arrived at such importance, that, in conjunction with the nobles who were
in the city, they chose a king for the whole English nation, viz., Edmund
Ironside; and again on the death of Canute, in 1036, they took a
considerable part in the election of Harold. At the battle of Hastings the
burgesses of London formed Harold's body-guard. A few years previously,
Canute, on his pilgrimage to Rome, met the Emperor Conrade and other
princes, from whom he obtained for all his subjects, whether merchants or
pilgrims, exemption from the heavy tolls usually exacted on the journey to

During the peaceful reign of Edward the Confessor a much larger general
intercourse seems to have sprung up with the Continent, and the commerce
of England to have greatly increased. For this we have the testimony of
William of Poictiers, William the Conqueror's chaplain, who says, speaking
of the time immediately preceding the Conquest, "The English merchants to
the opulence of their country, rich in its own fertility, added still
greater riches and more valuable treasures. The articles imported by them,
notable both for their quantity and their quality, were to have been
hoarded up for the gratification of their avarice, or to have been
dissipated in the indulgence of their luxurious inclinations. But William
seized them, and bestowed part on his victorious army, and part on the
churches and monasteries, while to the Pope and the Church of Rome he sent
an incredible mass of money in gold and silver, and many ornaments that
would have been admired even in Constantinople."

We are not able to give any authentic contemporary illustration of the
shipping of this period. Those which are given by Strutt are not really
representations of the ships of the period: Byzantine Art still exercised
a powerful influence over Saxon Art, and the illuminators frequently gave
traditional forms; and the ships introduced by Strutt, though executed by
a Saxon artist, are probably copied from Byzantine authorities. The Bayeux
tapestry is probably our earliest trustworthy authority for a British
ship, and it gives a considerable number of illustrations of them,
intended to represent in one place the numerous fleet which William the
Conqueror gathered for the transport of his army across the Channel; in
another place the considerable fleet with which Harold hoped to bar the
way. The one we have chosen is the duke's own ship; it displays at its
mast-head the banner which the Pope had blessed, and the trumpeter on the
high poop is also an evidence that it is the commander's ship. In the
present case the trumpeter is known, from contemporary authority, to have
been only wood gilded; but in many of the subsequent illustrations we
shall also find a trumpeter, or usually two, who were part of the staff of
the commander, and perhaps were employed in signalling to other ships of
the fleet.

[Illustration: _William the Conqueror's Ship._]

The Conquest checked this thriving commerce. William's plunder of the
Saxon merchants, which was probably not confined to London, must have
gone far to ruin those who were then engaged in it; the general depression
of Saxon men for a long time after would prevent them or others from
reviving it; and the Normans themselves were averse from mercantile
pursuits. In the half-century after the Conquest we really know little or
nothing of the history of commerce. The charters of the first Norman kings
make no mention of it. Stephen's troubled reign must have been very
unfavourable to it. Still foreign merchants would seek a market where they
could dispose of their goods, and the long and wise reign of Henry II.
enabled English commerce, not only to recover, but to surpass its ancient
prosperity. An interesting account of London, given by William
FitzStephen, about 1174, in the introduction to a Life of à Becket, gives
much information on our subject: he says that "no city in the world sent
out its wealth and merchandise to so great a distance," but he does not
enumerate the exports. Among the articles brought to London by foreign
merchants he mentions gold, spices, and frankincense from Arabia; precious
stones from Egypt; purple cloths from Bagdad; furs and ermines from Norway
and Russia; arms from Scythia; and wines from France. The citizens he
describes as distinguished above all others in England for the elegance of
their manners and dress, and the magnificence of their tables. There were
in the city and suburbs thirteen large conventual establishments and 120
parish churches. He adds that the dealers in the various sorts of
commodities, and the labourers and artizans of every kind, were to be
found every day stationed in their several distinct places throughout the
city, and that a market was held every Friday in Smithfield for the sale
of horses, cows, hogs, &c.; the citizens were distinguished from those of
other towns by the appellation of barons; and Malmesbury, an author of the
same age, also tells us that from their superior opulence, and the
greatness of the city, they were considered as ranking with the chief
people or nobility of the kingdom.

The great charter of King John provided that all merchants should have
protection in going out of England and in coming back to it, as well as
while residing in the kingdom or travelling about in it, without any
impositions or payments such as to cause the destruction of their trade.
During the thirteenth century, it seems probable that much of the foreign
commerce of the country was carried on by foreign merchants, who imported
chiefly articles of luxury, and carried back chiefly wool, hides, and
leather, and the metals found in England. But there were various
enactments to prevent foreign merchants from engaging in the domestic
trade of the country. In the fourteenth century commerce received much
attention from government, and many regulations were made in the endeavour
to encourage it, or rather to secure as much of its profits as possible to
English, and leave as little as possible to foreign, merchants. Our limits
do not allow us to enter into details on the subject, and our plan aims
only at giving broad outside views of the life of the merchants of the
Middle Ages.

Let us introduce here an illustration of the ships in which the commerce
was conducted. Perhaps the only illustration to be derived from the MS.
illuminations of the thirteenth century is one in the Roll of St. Guthlac,
which is early in the century, and gives a large and clear picture of St.
Guthlac in a ship with a single mast and sail, steered by a paddle
consisting of a pole with a short cross handle at the top, like the poles
with which barges are still punted along, and expanding at bottom into a
short spade-like blade. Some of the seals of this century also give rude
representations of ships: one of H. de Neville gives a perfectly
crescent-shaped hull with a single mast supported by two stays; that of
Hugo de Burgh has a very high prow and stern, which reminds us of the
build of modern _prahus_. Another, of the town of Monmouth, has a more
artistic representation of a ship of similar shape, but the high prow and
stern are both ornamented with animals' heads, like the prow of William
the Conqueror's ship. The Psalter of Queen Mary, which is of early
fourteenth-century date, gives an illustration of the building of Noah's
ark, which is a ship of the shape found in the Bayeux tapestry, with a
sort of house within it. The illustration we give opposite from the Add.
MS. 3,983, f. 6, was also executed early in the fourteenth century, and
though rude it is valuable as one of the earliest examples of a ship with
a rudder of the modern construction; it also clearly indicates the fact
that these early vessels used oars as well as sails. The usual mode of
steering previous to, and for some time subsequent to, this time was with
a large broad oar at the ship's counter, worked in a noose of rope (a
_gummet_) or through a hole in a piece of wood attached to the vessel's
side. The first mode will be found illustrated in the Add. MS. 24,189, at
f. 30, and the second at f. 5 in the same MS. The men of this period were
not insensible to the value of a means of propelling a vessel
independently of the wind; and employed human muscle as their motive
power. Some of the great trading cities of the Mediterranean used galleys
worked by oars, not only for warfare, but for commercial purposes: _e.g._
in 1409 A.D., King Henry granted to the merchants of Venice permission to
bring their carracks, galleys, and other vessels, laden with merchandise,
to pass over to Flanders, return and sell their cargoes without
impediment, and sail again with English merchandise and go back to their
own country.

[Illustration: _A Ship, Early Fourteenth Century._]

A very curious and interesting MS. (Add. 27,695) recently acquired by
the British Museum, which appears to be of Genoese Art, and of date
about A.D. 1420, enables us to give a valuable illustration of our
subject. It occupies the whole page of the MS.; we have only given the
lower half, of the size of the original. It appears to represent the
siege of Tripoli. The city is in the upper part of the page; our cut
represents the harbour and a suburb of the town. It is clearly indicated
that it is low water, and the high-water mark is shown in the drawing by a
different colour. Moreover, a timber pier will be noticed, stretching out
between high and low-water mark, and a boat left high and dry by the
receding tide. In the harbour are ships of various kinds, and especially
several of the galleys of which we have spoken. The war-galley may be
found fully illustrated in Witsen's "Sheep's Bouw," p. 186.

[Illustration: _A Harbour in the Fourteenth Century._]

[Illustration: _An Early Representation of the Whale Fishery._]

The same MS., in the lower margin of folio 9 v., has an exceedingly
interesting picture of a whaling scene, which we are very glad to
introduce as a further illustration of the commerce and shipping of this
early period. It will be seen that the whale has been killed, and the
successful adventurers are "cutting out" the blubber very much after the
modern fashion.



The history of the merchant navy in the Middle Ages is very much mixed up
with that of the military navy.

In the time of the earlier Norman kings we seem not to have had any
war-ships. The king had one or two ships for his own uses, and hired or
impressed others when he needed them; but they were only ships of burden,
transports by which soldiers and munitions of war were conveyed to the
Continent and back, as occasion required. If hostile vessels encountered
one another at sea, and a fight ensued, it seems to have been a very
simple business: the sailors had nothing to do with the fighting, they
only navigated the ships; the soldiers on board discharged their missiles
at one another as the ships approached, and when the vessels were laid
alongside, they fought hand to hand. The first ships of war were a revival
of the classical war-galleys. We get the first clear description of them
in the time of Richard I., from Vinesauf, the historian of the second
Crusade. He compares them with the ancient galleys, and says the modern
ones were long, low in the water, and slightly built, rarely had more than
two banks of oars, and were armed with a "spear" at the prow for
"ramming." Gallernes were a smaller kind of galleys with only one bank of

From this reign the sovereign seems to have always maintained something
approaching to a regular naval establishment, and to have aimed at keeping
the command of the narrow seas. In the reign of John we find the king had
galleys and galliases, and another kind of vessels which were probably
also a sort of galley, called "long ships," used to guard the coasts,
protect the ports, and maintain the police of the seas.

The accompanying drawing, from one of the illuminations in the famous
MS. of Froissart's Chronicle, in the British Museum (Harl. 4,379), is
perhaps one of the clearest and best contemporary illustrations we have of
these mediæval galleys. It will be seen that it consists of a long low
open boat, with outrigger galleries for the rowers, while the hold is
left free for merchandise, or, as in the present instance, for
men-at-arms. It has a forecastle like an ordinary ship; the shields of the
men-at-arms who occupy it are hung over the bulwarks; the commander stands
at the stern under a pent-house covered with tapestry, bearing his shield,
and holding his leader's truncheon. A close examination of the drawing
seems to show that there are two men to each oar; we know from other
sources that several men were sometimes put to each oar. The difference in
costume between the soldiers and the sailors is conspicuous. The former
are men-at-arms in full armour--one on the forecastle is very distinctly
shown; the sailors are entirely unarmed, except the man at the stroke-oar,
probably an officer, who wears an ordinary hat of the period, the rest
wear the hood drawn over the head. The ship in the same illustration is an
ordinary ship of burden, filled with knights and men-at-arms; the
trumpeters at the stern indicate that the commander of the fleet is on
board this ship; he will be seen amidships, with his visor raised and his
face towards the spectator, with shield on arm and truncheon in hand.

[Illustration: _Ship and Galley._]

If the reader is curious to see illustrations of the details of a naval
combat, there are a considerable number to be found in the illuminated
MSS.; as in MS. Nero, D. iv., at folio 214, of the latter part of the
thirteenth century; in some tolerably clearly drawn in the "Chronique de
S. Denis" (Royal, 20, cvii.), of the time of our Richard II., at folio 18,
and again at folio 189 v. Other representations of ships occur at folios
25, 26 v., 83, 136 v. (a bridge of boats), 189 v., and 214 of the same MS.

These ships continued to a late period to be small compared with our
notion of a ship, and most rude in their arrangements. They were great
undecked boats, with a cabin only in the bows, beneath the raised platform
which formed the forecastle; and the crew of the largest ships was usually
from twenty-five to thirty men. An illumination in the MS. of Froissart's
Chronicle (Harl. 4,379), folio 104 v., shows a ship, in which a king and
his suite are about to embark, from such a point of view that we see the
interior of the ship in the perspective, and find that there is a cabin
only in the prow. The earliest notice of cabins occurs in the year A.D.
1228, when a ship was sent to Gascony with some effects of the king's,
and 4_s._ 6_d._ was paid for making a chamber in the same ship for the
king's wardrobe, &c. In A.D. 1242 the king and queen went to Gascony; and
convenient chambers were ordered to be built in the ship for their
majesties' use, which were to be wainscoted--like that probably in Earl
Richard of Warwick's ship in the present woodcut. This engraving, taken
from Rouse's MS. Life of Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick (British
Museum, Julius, E. IV.), of the latter part of the fourteenth century,
gives a very clear representation of a ship and its boat. The earl is
setting out on his pilgrimage to the Holy Land. In the foreground we see
him with his pilgrim's staff in hand, stepping into the boat which is to
carry him to his ship lying at anchor in the harbour. The costume of the
sailors is illustrated by the men in the boat. The vessel is a ship of
burden, but such a one as kings and great personages had equipped for
their own uses; resembling an ordinary merchant-ship in all essentials,
but fitted and furnished with more than usual convenience and
sumptuousness. In Earl Richard's ship the sail is emblazoned with his
arms, and the pennon, besides the red cross of England, has his badges of
the bear and ragged staff; the ragged staff also appears on the castle at
the mast-head. The castle, which all ships of this age have at the stern,
is in this case roofed in and handsomely ornamented, and no doubt formed
the state apartment of the earl. There is also a castle at the head of the
ship, though it is not very plainly shown in the drawing. It consists of a
raised platform, the round-headed entrance to the cabin beneath it is seen
in the picture; the two bulwarks also which protect it at the sides are
visible, though their meaning is not at first sight obvious. A glance at
the forecastle of the other ships in our illustrations will enable the
reader to understand its construction and use. Besides the boat which is
to convey the earl on board, another boat will be seen hanging at the
ship's quarter.

[Illustration: _Ship of Richard Earl of Warwick._]

The next woodcut is taken from the interesting MS. in the British Museum
(Add. 24,189, f. 3 v.), from which we have borrowed other illustrations,
containing pictures of subjects from the travels of Sir John Mandeville.
We have introduced it to illustrate two peculiarities: the first is the
way of steering by a paddle passed through a gummet of rope, still, we
see, in use in the latter part of the fourteenth century, long after the
rudder had been introduced; and the use of lee-boards to obviate the
lee-way of the ship, and make it hold its course nearer to the wind. The
high, small, raised castle in the stern is here empty, and the forecastle
is curiously defended by a palisade, instead of the ordinary bulwarks.
Another representation of the use of lee-boards occurs at folio 5 of the
same MS.

[Illustration: _Sir J. Mandeville on his Voyage to Palestine._]

But though the royal navy was small, as we have said, in case of need
there was a further naval force available. The ancient ports of Kent and
Sussex, called the Cinque Ports, with their members (twelve neighbouring
ports incorporated with them), were bound by their tenure, upon forty
days' notice, to supply the king with fifty-seven ships, containing
twenty-one men and a boy in each ship, for fifteen days, once in the year,
at their own expense, if their service was required. Thus _e.g._ a mandate
of the 18th Rich. II., addressed to John de Beauchamp, Constable of Dover
Castle, and Warden of the Cinque Ports, after reciting this obligation,
requires fifty-seven ships, each having a master and twenty men well armed
and arrayed to meet him at Bristol; stating further, that at the
expiration of the fifteen days the ships and men should be at the king's
own charges and pay, so long as he should have the use of them, viz., the
master of each ship to have 6_d._, the constable 6_d._, and each of the
other men 3_d._, per day.

In the year A.D. 1205 we have a list of royal galleys and vessels of war
ready for service; and it is instructive to see where they were stationed:
there were at London 5, Newhaven 2, Sandwich 3, Romney 4, Rye 2,
Winchelsea 2, Shoreham 5, Southampton 2, Exeter 2, Bristol 3, Ipswich 2,
Dunwich 5, Lyme 5, Yarmouth 3, in Ireland 5, at Gloucester 1--total 51;
and the Cinque Ports furnished 52; so that there were ready for sea more
than 100 galleys or "men-of-war."

If the occasion required a greater force than that which the Cinque Ports
were required to furnish, the king was at liberty to issue his royal
mandate, and impress merchant ships. Thus, in May, 1206 A.D., the Barons
of the Cinque Ports were commanded to be at Portsmouth by a certain date
with all the service they owed; and writs were also issued to all such
merchants, masters, and seamen, as might meet the king's messengers on the
sea, to repair to Portsmouth, and enter the king's service; and the royal
galleys were sent to cruise at sea to arrest ships and send them in.
Again, in A.D. 1442, the Commons in Parliament stated the necessity of
having an armed force upon the sea, and pointed out the number of ships
and men that it would be proper to employ: viz., eight ships with
fore-stages carrying 150 men each, and that there should be attendant upon
each ship a barge carrying eighty men, and a balynfer carrying forty men;
and that four spynes, or pinnaces, carrying twenty-five men each, would be
necessary. The Commons also pointed out the individual ships which it
recommended to be obtained to compose this force: viz., at Bristol the
_Nicholas of the Tower_, and _Katherine of Burtons_; at Dartmouth the
Spanish ship that was the Lord Poyntz's, and Sir Philip Courtenay's great
ship. In the port of London two great ships, one called _Trinity_, and the
other _Thomas_. At Hull a great ship called Taverner's, the name
_Grace-dieu_. At Newcastle a great ship called _The George_. They also
state where the barges, balynfers, and pinnaces may be obtained. Some of
these may have been royal ships, but not all of them. Of the _Grace-dieu_
of Hull, we know from Rymer (xi., 258) that John Taverner of Hull,
mariner, having made a ship as large as a great carrack, or larger, had
granted to him that the said ship, by reason of her unusual magnitude,
should be named the _Grace-dieu_ carrack, and enjoy certain privileges in

On a great emergency, a still more sweeping impressment of the mercantile
fleet was made: _e.g._, Henry V., in his third year, directed Nicholas
Manslyt, his sergeant-at-arms, to arrest all ships and vessels in every
port in the kingdom, of the burden of twenty tons and upwards, for the
king's service; and Edward IV., in his fourteenth year, made a similar
seizure of all ships of over sixteen tons burden. On the other hand, the
king hired out his ships to merchants when they were not in use. Thus, in
1232 A.D., John Blancboilly had the custody of King Henry III.'s great
ship called the _Queen_, for his life, to trade wherever he pleased,
paying an annual rent of eighty marks; and all his lands in England were
charged with the fulfilment of the contract. In 1242 directions were given
to surrender the custody of the king's galleys in Ireland to the sailors
of Waterford, Drogheda, and Dungaroon, to trade with in what way they
could, taking security for their rent and restoration.

The royal ships, however, maintained the police of the seas very
inefficiently, and a _petite guerre_ seems to have been carried on
continually between the ships of different countries, and even between the
ships of different seaports; while downright piracy was not at all
uncommon. When these injuries were inflicted by the ships of another
nation, the injured men often sought redress through their own government
from the government of the people who had injured them, and the mediæval
governments generally took up warmly any such complaints. But the
merchants not unfrequently took the law into their own hands. In the
twelfth century, _e.g._, it happened to a merchant of Berwick, Cnut by
name, that one of his ships, having his wife on board, was seized by a
piratical Earl of Orkney, and burnt. Cnut spent 100 marks in having
fourteen stout vessels suitably equipped to go out and punish the
offender. And so late as 1378 a sort of private naval war was carried on
between John Mercer, a merchant of Perth, and John Philpott of London.
Mercer's father had for some time given assistance to the French by
harassing the merchant ships of England; and in 1377, being driven by foul
weather on the Yorkshire coast, he was caught, and imprisoned in
Scarborough Castle. Thereupon the son carried on the strife. Collecting a
little fleet of Scottish, French, and Spanish ships, he captured several
English merchantmen off Scarborough, slaying their commanders, putting
their crews in chains, and appropriating their cargoes. Philpott, the
mayor of London, at his own cost, collected a number of vessels, put in
them 1,000 armed men, and sailed for the north. Within a few weeks he had
retaken the captured vessels, had effectually beaten their captors, and,
in his turn, had seized fifteen Spanish ships laden with wine, which came
in his way. On his return to London he was summoned before the council to
answer for his conduct in taking an armed force to sea without the king's
leave. But he boldly told the council: "I did not expose myself, my money,
and my men to the dangers of the sea that I might deprive you and your
colleagues of your knightly fame, nor that I might win any for myself, but
in pity for the misery of the people and the country, which from being a
noble realm with dominion over other nations, has through your supineness
become exposed to the ravages of the vilest race, and since you would not
lift a hand in its defence, I exposed myself and my property for the
safety and deliverance of our country."

The ships of the Cinque Ports seem to have been at frequent feud with
those of the other ports of the kingdom (see Matthew Paris under A.D.
1242). For example, in 1321 Edward II. complained of the great dissension
and discord which existed between the people of the privileged Cinque
Ports and the men and mariners of the western towns of Poole, Weymouth,
Melcombe, Lyme, Southampton, &c.; and of the homicide, depredation,
ship-burning, and other evil acts resulting therefrom. But in place of
taking vigorous measures to repress these disorders, the king did not
apparently find himself able to do more than issue a proclamation against

When so loose a morality prevailed among seafaring men, and the police of
the seas was so badly maintained, it follows almost as a matter of course
that piracy should flourish. The people of Brittany, and especially the
men of St. Malo, at one time were accustomed to roam the sea as the old
sea-kings did, plundering merchant-ships, making descents on the coasts of
England, exacting contributions and ransoms from the towns. In the time of
Alfred it would seem by one of his laws as if English vessels sometimes
pillaged their own coasts.[405]

About the year 1242 a Sir William de Marish, who was accused of murder and
treason, took refuge in the Isle of Lundy, whence he robbed the
merchantmen passing to and fro, and made descents on the coast. He was
building a galley in which to carry on his piracies when he was taken and

The spirit that lingered to very recent times among the "wreckers" of
remote spots on our coast seems to have prevailed largely in the days of
which we are writing. A foreigner was regarded as a "natural enemy," and
his ships and goods as a legitimate prize, when they could be seized with
impunity. So in 1227 A.D. we find a mariner named Dennis committed to
Newgate for being present when a Spanish ship was plundered and her crew
slain at Sandwich. In the same year the inhabitants of some towns in
Norfolk were accused of robbing a Norwegian ship. And, to give a later
example, in 1470 some Spanish merchants applied to King Edward IV. for
compensation for the loss of seven vessels, alleged to have been
piratically taken from them by the people of Sandwich, Dartmouth,
Plymouth, and Jersey. Yet there is a Saxon law as early as King Ethelred,
which gives immunities to merchant ships, even in time of war, which the
Council of Paris a few years ago hardly equalled:--"If a merchant ship,
even if it belonged to an enemy, entered any port in England, she was to
have 'frith,' that is peace, and freedom from molestation, provided it was
not driven or chased into port; but even if it were chased, and it reached
any frith burgh, and the crew escaped into the burgh, then the crew and
whatever they brought with them were to have 'frith.'"

The shipping of the time of Henry VIII. is admirably illustrated in
Holbein's famous painting at Hampton Court. The great vessel of his reign,
the _Henri Grace à Dieu_, is also illustrated in the _Archæologia_. Both
these subjects are so well-known, or so easily accessible, that we do not
think it necessary to reproduce them here. In the MS. Aug. 1, will be
found a large size drawing of a galley intended to be built for King Henry

The discovery of the sea-passage to India, and of the new world, opened up
to commerce a new career of heroic adventure and the prospect of fabulous
wealth. England was not backward in entering upon this course. In truth,
although Sebastian Cabot was not an Englishman by birth, we claim the
honour of his discoveries for England, inasmuch as he was resident among
us, and was fitted out from Bristol, at the cost of English merchants, on
his voyages of discovery. It was in this career--which was part discover,
part conquest, part commerce--that our Hawkinses, and Drakes, and
Frobishers, and Raleighs were trained. And besides those historic names,
there were scores of men who fitted out ships and entered upon the roads
these pioneers had opened up, and completed their discoveries, and created
the commerce whose possibility they had indicated.

The limitation of our subject to the mediæval period forbids us to enter
further upon this tempting theme. But we may complete our brief series of
illustrations of merchant shipping by giving a picture of one of the
gallant little ships--little, indeed, compared with the ships which are
now employed in our great lines of sea-traffic--in which those heroes
accomplished their daring voyages. The woodcut is a reproduction from the
frontispiece of one of Hulsius' curious tracts on naval affairs, and
represents the ship _Victoria_, in which Magellan sailed round the world,
passing through the straits to which he gave his name. The epitaph that
the author has subjoined to the engraving tells briefly the story of the
famous ship:--

  "Prima ego velivolvis ambivi cursibus orbem
     Magellane novo te duce ducta freto.
   Ambivi meritoque dicor _Victoria_: Sunt mihi
     Vela, alæ, precium, gloria, pugna, mare."

The ship, it will be seen, is not very different in general features from
those of the Middle Ages which we have been considering. It has the high
prow and stern with their castles, it has shields outside the bulwarks, in
imitation of the way in which, as we have seen in former illustrations,
the mediæval men-at-arms hung their shields over the bulwark of the ship
in which they sailed. But it has decks (apparently two), and is armed with
cannon at the bows and stern.

[Illustration: _The Ship Victoria._]



Though the commerce of England has now attained to such vast dimensions,
and forms so much larger a proportion of the national wealth and greatness
than at any former period, yet we are inclined to think that, in the times
of which we write, the pursuit of commerce held a higher and more
honourable place in the esteem of all classes than it does with us.

It is true that one class was then more distinctly separated from another,
by costume and some external habits of life; the knight and the franklin,
the monk and the priest, the trader and the peasant, always carried the
badges of their position upon them; and we, with our modern notions, are
apt to think that the man who was marked out by his very costume as a
trader must have been "looked down upon" by what we call the higher
classes of society. No doubt something of this feeling existed; but not,
we think, to the same extent as now. Trade itself was not then so meanly
considered. Throughout the Middle Ages the upper classes were themselves
engaged in trade in various ways. In the disposal of the produce of his
estates the manorial lord engaged in trade, and purchased at fairs and
markets the stores he needed for himself and his numerous dependants.
Noblemen and bishops, abbots and convents, nay kings themselves, in the
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, had ships which, commanded and manned
by their servants, traded for their profit with foreign countries. In the
thirteenth century the Cistercian monks had become the greatest
wool-merchants in the kingdom. In the fifteenth century Edward IV. carried
on a considerable commerce for his own profit. Just as now, when noblemen
and gentlemen commonly engage in agriculture, and thus farming comes to be
considered less vulgar than trade, so, then, when dignified ecclesiastics,
noblemen, and kings engaged in trade, it must have helped to soften caste
prejudices against the professional pursuit of commerce.[406]

A considerable number of the traders of the fourteenth and fifteenth
centuries were cadets of good families. Where there were half a dozen sons
in a knightly family, the eldest succeeded to the family estate and
honours: of the rest, one might become a lawyer; another might have a
religious vocation, and, as a secular priest, take the family living, or
obtain a stall in the choir of the neighbouring monastery; a third might
prefer the profession of arms, and enter into the service of some great
lord or of the king, or find employment for his sword and lance, and pay
for himself and the dozen men who formed the "following of his lance," in
the wars which seldom ceased in one part of Europe or another; another son
might engage in trade, either in a neighbouring town or in one of the
great commercial cities of the time, as Bristol, Norwich, or London.[407]

The leading men of the trading class stood side by side with the leading
men of the other classes. They were consulted by the king on the affairs
of the kingdom, were employed with bishops and nobles on foreign
embassies, were themselves ennobled. And the greatness which men attain in
any class reflects honour on the whole class. The Archbishop of
Canterbury's high position gives social consideration to the poor curate,
who may one day also be archbishop; and the Lord Chancellor's to the now
briefless barrister who may attain to the woolsack. The great free towns
of the German Empire reflected honour on every town of Europe; and the
merchant princes of Venice and Florence and the Low Countries on the
humblest member of their calling.

But what, perhaps, more than anything else tended to maintain the social
consideration of traders, was their incorporation into wealthy and
powerful guilds; and the civil freedom and political weight of the towns.
The rather common-looking man, in a plain cloth gown and flat cap, jogging
along the high road on a hack, with great saddle-bags, is not to be
compared in appearance with the knight who prances past him on a spirited
charger, with a couple of armed servants at his heels; and the trader
pulls his horse to the side of the road, and touches his bonnet as the
cavalcade passes him in a cloud of dust; but the knight glances at his
fellow-traveller's hood as he passes, and recognises in him a member of
the great Guild of Merchants of the Staple, and returns his courtesy. The
nobleman, jostling at court against a portly citizen in a furred gown with
a short dagger and inkhorn at his belt, sees in him an alderman of one of
those great towns by whose help the king maintains the balance of power
against the feudal aristocracy. Yet, after all, why should the merchant be
"a rather common-looking man," and the alderman a "portly citizen"? We are
all apt to let our sober sense be fooled by our imagination. Thus we are
apt to have in our minds abstract types of classes of men: our ideal
knight is gallant in bearing, gay in apparel, chivalrous in character;
while our ideal merchant is prosaic and closefisted in character, plain
and uncourtly in manner and speech. A moment's thought would be enough to
remind us that Nature does not anticipate or adapt herself to class
distinctions: the knight and the merchant, we have seen, might be
brothers, reared up in the same old manor-house; and the elder son might
be naturally a clown, though fortune made him Sir Hugh; while the cadet
might be full of intelligence and spirit, dignified and courteous, though
fortune had put a flat cap instead of a helmet on his head, and a pen
instead of a lance into his hand.

Our plan limits us to mere glances at the picturesque outside aspect of
things. Let us travel across England, and see what we can learn on our
subject from the experiences of our journey. A right pleasant journey,
too, in the genial spring-time or early summer. It must be taken on
horseback; for, though sometimes we shall find ourselves on a highway
between one great town and another, yet, for the most part, our road is
along bridle-paths, across heath and moor; through miles of "greenwood;"
across fords; over wide unenclosed wolds and downs dotted with sheep;
through valleys where oxen feed in the deep meadowland; with comparatively
little arable, covered with the green blades of rye and barley, oats, and
a little wheat--

  "Long fields of barley and of rye,
   That clothe the wold and meet the sky."

Now and then we ride through a village of cottages scattered about the
village-green; and see, perhaps, the parish-priest, in cassock and
biretta, coming out of the village-church from his mass. Further on we
pass the moated manor-house of a country knight, or the substantial old
timber-built house of a franklin, with the blue wood-smoke puffing in a
volume out of the louvre of the hall, and curling away among the great
oak-trees which overshadow it. We may stay there and ask for luncheon, and
be sure of a hearty welcome: Chaucer tells us,

  "His table dormant in the hall alway
   Stands ready covered, all the longe day."

Then a strong castle comes in sight on a rising ground, with its
picturesque group of walls and towers, and the donjon-tower rising high in
the midst, surmounted by the banner of its lord. We seek out the
monasteries for their hospitable shelter at nights: they are the inns of
mediæval England; and we gaze in admiration as we approach them and enter
their courts. From outside we see a great enclosure-wall, over which rise
the clerestories and towers of a noble minster-church; and when we have
entered through the gate-house we find the cloister court, with its
convent buildings for the monks, and another court of offices, and the
guest-house for the entertainment of travellers, and the abbot's-house--a
separate establishment, with a great hall and chambers and chapel, like
the manor-house of a noble; so that, surrounded by its wall, with strong
entrance-towers, the monastery looks like a great castle or a little town;
and we doff our hats to the dignified-looking monk who is ambling out of
the great gate on his mule, as to the representative of the noble
community which has erected so grand a house, and maintains there its
hospitalities and charities, schools and hospitals, and offers up, seven
times a day in the choir, a glorious service of praise to Almighty God,
and of prayer for the welfare of His church and people. But from time to
time, also, we approach and ride through the towns, which are studded as
thickly over the land as castles or monasteries. Each surrounded by a fair
margin of common meadowland, out of which rise the long line of strong
walls with angle towers, with picturesque machicolations and overhanging
pent-houses; and the great gate-towers with moat, drawbridge, and
barbican. Over the wall numerous church-towers and spires are seen rising
from a forest of gables, making a goodly show. We enter, and find wide
streets of handsome picturesque houses, with abundance of garden and
orchard ground behind them, and guildhalls and chapels, the head-quarters
of the various guilds and companies. The traders are wealthy, and indulge
in conveniences which are rare in the franklin's house, and even the
lord's castle; and live a more refined mode of life than the old rude, if
magnificent, feudal life. Look at the extent of the town, at its strong
defences; estimate the wealth it contains; think of the clannish spirit of
its guilds; see the sturdy burghers, who turn out at the sound of the
town-bell, in half armour, with pike and bow, to man the walls; consider
the chiefs of the community, men of better education, wider experience of
the world, deeper knowledge of political affairs, than most of their
countrymen, many of them of the "gentleman" class by birth and breeding,
men of perfect self-respect, and of high public spirit. If our journey
terminates at one of the seaports, as Hull, or Lynn, or Dover, or Hythe,
or Bristol, we find--in addition to the usual well-walled town, with
houses and noble churches and guildhalls--a harbour full of
merchant-ships, and exchanges full of foreign merchants; and we soon learn
that these are the links which join England to the rest of the world in a
period of peace, and enable her in time of war to make her power felt
beyond the seas. Many of these towns have inherited their walls and their
civic freedom from Roman times: they stood like islands amid the flood of
the Saxon invasion; they received their charters from Norman kings, and
maintained them against Norman barons. Each of them is a little republic
amidst the surrounding feudalism; each citizen is a freeman, when
everybody else is the sworn liege-man of some feudal lord.

These experiences of our ride across England will have left their strong
impressions on our minds. The castles will have impressed our minds with a
sense of the feudal power and chivalric state of the territorial class;
and the monasteries with admiration of the grandeur and learning and
munificence and sanctity of the religious orders; and the towns with a
feeling of solid respect for the wealth and power and freedom and
civilisation of the trader class of the people.

[Illustration: _Entry of Queen Isabel of Bavaria into Paris_, A.D. 1389.]

Our first illustration forms part of a large picture in the great Harleian
MS. of Froissart's Chronicle (Harl. 2,397, f. 3), and represents Isabel
of Bavaria, Queen of Charles VII., making her entry into Paris attended
by noble dames and lords of France, on Sunday, 20th of August, in the year
of our Lord 1389. There was a great crowd of spectators, Froissart tells
us, and the _bourgeois_ of Paris, twelve hundred, all on horseback, were
ranged in pairs on each side of the road, and clothed in a livery of gowns
of baudekyn green and red. The Queen, seated in her canopied litter,
occupies the middle of the picture, in robe and mantle of blue powdered
with _fleur-de-lis_, three noblemen walking on each side in their robes
and coronets. The page and ladies, who follow on horseback, are not given
in our woodcut. The Queen has just arrived at the gate of the city;
through the open door may be seen a bishop (? the Archbishop of Paris) in
a cope of blue powdered with gold _fleur-de-lis_, holding a gold and
jewelled box, which perhaps contains the chrism for her coronation. On the
wall overlooking the entrance is the king with ladies of the court, and
perched on the angle of the wall is the court jester in his cap and
bauble. On the left of the picture are the burgesses of Paris; their short
gowns are of green and red as described; the hats, which hang over their
shoulders, are black. On the opposite side of the road (not represented in
the cut) is another party of burgesses, who wear their hats, the bands
falling on each side of the face. In the background are the towers and
spires of the city, and the west front of Notre-Dame, rising picturesquely
above the city-wall.

Some of the merchant-princes of the Middle Ages have left a name which is
still known in history, or popular in legend. First, there is the De la
Pole family, whose name is connected with the history of Hull.
Wyke-upon-Hull was a little town belonging to the convent of Selby, when
Edward III. saw its capabilities and bought it of the monks, called it
Kingston-upon-Hull, and, by granting trading and civil privileges to it,
induced merchants to settle there. De la Pole, a merchant of the
neighbouring port of Ravensern, was one of the earliest of these
immigrants; and Hull owes much of its greatness to his commercial genius
and public spirit. Under his inspiration bricks were introduced from the
Low Countries to build its walls and the great church: much of the latter
yet remains. He rose to be esteemed the greatest merchant in England.
Edward III. honoured him by visiting him at his house in Hull, and in
time made him Chief Baron of his Exchequer, and a Knight Banneret. In the
following reign we find him engaged, together with the most distinguished
men in the kingdom, in affairs of state and foreign embassies. His son,
who also began life as a merchant at Hull, was made by Richard II. Earl of
Suffolk and Lord Chancellor. In the end a royal alliance raised the
merchant's children to the height of power; and designs of a still more
daring ambition at length brought about their headlong fall and ruin.

William Cannynges, of Bristol, was another of these great merchants. On
his monument in the magnificent church of St. Mary Redcliffe, of which he
was the founder, it is recorded that on one occasion Edward IV. seized
shipping of his to the amount of 2,470 tons, which included ships of 400,
500, and even 900 tons.

Richard Whittington, the hero of the popular legend, was a London
merchant, thrice Lord Mayor. He was not, however, of the humble origin
stated by the legend, but a cadet of the landed family of Whittington, in
Gloucestershire. What is the explanation of the story of his cat has not
been satisfactorily made out by antiquaries. Munificence was one of the
characteristics of these great merchants. De la Pole, we have seen, built
the church at Hull; Cannynges founded one of the grandest parish churches
yet remaining in all England; Whittington founded the College of the Holy
Spirit and St. Mary, a charitable foundation which has long ceased to
exist. Sir John Crosby was an alderman of London in the reign of Edward
IV., and allied his family with the highest nobility. His house still
remains in Bishopsgate, the only one left of the great city merchants'
houses: Stowe describes it as very large and beautiful, and the highest at
that time in London. Richard III. took up his residence and received his
adherents there, when preparing for his usurpation of the crown.

Monuments remaining to this day keep alive the memory of other great
merchants, which would otherwise have perished. In the series of
monumental brasses, several of the earliest and most sumptuous are
memorials of merchants. There was an engraver of these monuments living in
England in the middle of the fourteenth century, whose works in that
style of art have not been subsequently surpassed: Gough calls him the
"Cellini of the fourteenth century." He executed a grand effigy for Thomas
Delamere, abbot of St. Alban's Abbey; and the same artist executed two
designs, no less sumptuous and meritorious as works of art, for two
merchants of the then flourishing town of Lynn, in Norfolk. One is to Adam
de Walsokne, "formerly burgess of Lynn," who died in 1349 A.D., and
Margaret his wife; it contains very artistically drawn effigies of the two
persons commemorated, surmounted by an ornamental canopy on a diapered
field. The other monumental brass represents Robert Braunche, A.D. 1364,
and his two wives. A feature of peculiar interest in this design is a
representation, running along the bottom, of an entertainment which
Braunche, when mayor of Lynn, gave to King Edward III. There was still a
third brass at Lynn, of similar character, of Robert Attelathe--now, alas!
lost. Another monument, apparently by the same artist, exists at Newark,
to the memory of Alan Fleming, a merchant, who died in 1361 A.D.

Hundreds of churches yet bear traces of the munificence of these mediæval
traders. The noble churches which still exist in what are now
comparatively small places, in Lincolnshire, Norfolk, and Suffolk, are
monuments of the merchants of the staple who lived in those eastern
counties; and monuments, and merchants' marks, and sometimes inscriptions
cut in stone or worked in flint-work in the fabrics themselves, afford
data from which the local antiquary may glean something of their history.
Many interesting traces of mediæval traders' houses remain too in
out-of-the-way places, where they seem quite overlooked. The little town
of Coggeshall, for example, is full of interesting bits of domestic
architecture--the traces of the houses of the "Peacockes" and other
families, merchants of the staple and clothmakers, who made it a
flourishing town in the fifteenth century; the monumental brasses of some
of them remain in the fine perpendicular church, which they probably
rebuilt. Or, to go to the other side of the kingdom, at the little town of
Northleach, among the Cotswold Hills, is a grand church, with evidences in
the sculpture and monuments that the wool-merchants there contributed
largely to its building. It contains an interesting series of small
monumental brasses, which preserve their names and costumes, and those of
their wives and children; and the merchants' marks which were painted on
their woolpacks appear here as honourable badges on their monuments. There
are traces of their old houses in the town.

A general survey of all these historical facts and all these antiquarian
remains will confirm the assertion with which we began this chapter, that
at least from the early part of the fourteenth century downwards, the
mediæval traders earned great wealth and spent it munificently, possessed
considerable political influence, and occupied an honourable social
position beside the military and ecclesiastical orders.

We must not omit to notice the illustrations which our subject may derive
from Chaucer's ever-famous gallery of characters. Here is the merchant of
the Canterbury cavalcade of merry pilgrims:--

  "A merchant was there with a forked beard,
   In mottély, and high on horse he sat,
   And on his head a Flaundrish beaver hat,
   His bote's clapsed fayre and fetisly,[408]
   His reasons spake he full solempnely,
   Sounding alway the increase of his winning,
   He would the sea were kept, for any thing,
   Betwixen Middleburgh and Orewell.
   Well could he in exchanges sheldes[409] sell,
   This worthy man full well his wit beset;
   There weste no wight that he was in debt,
   So steadfastly didde he his governance
   With his bargeines and with his chevisance,[410]
   Forsooth he was a worthy man withal;
   But, sooth to say, I n'ot how men him call."[411]

Of the trader class our great author gives us also some examples:--

  "An haberdasher and a carpenter,
   A webber, a dyer, and a tapiser,
   Were all yclothed in one livery,
   Of a solempne and great fraternitie,
   Full fresh and new their gear y-piked was
   Their knives were ychaped, not with brass.
   But all with silver wrought full clene and well,
   Their girdles and their pouches every deal.
   Well seemed each of them a fair burgess
   To sitten in a gild-hall on the dais.
   Each one for the wisdom that he can,
   Was likely for to be an alderman.
   For chattles hadden they enough and rent,
   And eke their wives would it well assent,
   And elles certainly they were to blame,
   It is full fair to be ycleped madame,
   And for to go to vigils all before,
   And have a mantle royally upbore."

The figures on the next page from a monument to John Field, Alderman of
London, and his son, are interesting and characteristic. Mr. Waller, from
whose work on monumental brasses the woodcut is taken, has been able to
discover something of the history of Alderman Field. John Field, senior,
was born about the beginning of the fifteenth century, but nothing is
known of his early life. In 1449 he had clearly risen to commercial
eminence in London, since he was in that year appointed one of fifteen
commissioners to treat with those of the Duke of Burgundy concerning the
commercial interests of the two countries in general, and specially to
frame regulations for the traffic in wool and wool-fells brought to the
staple at Calais. Of these commissioners five were of London, three of
Boston, three of Hull, and one of Ipswich. These names, says Mr. Waller,
probably comprise the chief mercantile wealth and intelligence in the
eastern ports of the kingdom at this period. In 1454 he was made sheriff,
and subsequently was elected alderman, but never served the office of
mayor; which, says the writer, may be accounted for by the fact that in
the latter part of his life he was afflicted with bodily sickness, and on
that ground in 1463 obtained a grant from the then lord mayor, releasing
him from all civic services. The alderman acquired large landed estates in
Kent and Hertfordshire, in which he was succeeded by his eldest son John,
the original of the second effigy, who only survived his father the short
term of three years.

The brasses have been inlaid with colour; the alderman's gown of the
father with red enamel, and its fur-lining indicated by white metal; the
tabard of arms of the son is also coloured according to its proper
heraldic blazoning--_gules_, between three eagles displayed _argent_,
_guetté de sangue_, a fesse _or_. The unfinished inscription runs, "Here
lyeth John Feld, sometyme alderman of London, a merchant of the stapull of
Caleys, the which deceased the xvj day of August, in the yere of our Lord
God mcccclxxiiij. Also her' lyeth John his son, squire, y{e} which
deceased y{e} iiij day of May y{e} yere of".... The monumental slab is
ornamented with four shields of arms: the first of the city of London, the
second of the merchants of the staple, the third bears the alderman's
merchant's-mark, and the fourth the arms which appear on the tabard of his
son, the esquire, to whom, perhaps, they had been specially granted by the
College of Arms. The father's costume is a long gown edged with fur, a
leather girdle from which hang his gypcire (or purse) and rosary, over
which is worn his alderman's gown. The son wears a full suit of armour of
the time of Edward IV., with a tabard of his arms. The execution of the
brass is unusually careful and excellent.

[Illustration: _Monumental Brass of Alderman Field and his Son_, A.D.

The third woodcut, from the Harleian MS. 4,379, f. 64, represents the
execution, in Paris, of a famous captain of robbers, Aymerigol Macel. The
scaffold is enclosed by a hoarding; at the nearer corners are two friars,
one in brown and one in black, probably a Franciscan and a Dominican; the
official, who stands with his hands resting on his staff superintending
the executioner, has a gown of red with sleeves lined with white fur, his
bonnet is black turned up also with white fur. In the background are the
timber houses on one side of the place, with the people looking out of
their windows; a signboard will be seen standing forth from one of the
houses. The groups of people in the distance and those in the foreground
give the costumes of the ordinary dwellers in a fourteenth-century city.
The man on the left has a pink short gown, trimmed with white fur; his
hat, the two ends of a liripipe hanging over his shoulders, and his purse
and his hose, are black. The man on his right has a long blue gown and red
hat and liripipe; the man between them and a little in front, a brown long
gown and black hat. The man on horseback on the left wears a very short
green gown, red hose, and black hat; the footman on his left, a short
green gown and red hat and liripipe; and the man on his left, a black
jacket and black hat fringed. The man on horseback, with a foot-boy behind
holding on by the horse's tail, has a pink long gown, black hat and
liripipe, purse, and girdle; the one on the right of the picture, a long
blue gown with red hat, liripipe, and purse. Just behind him (unhappily
not included in the woodcut) is a touch of humour on the part of the
artist. His foot-boy is stealing an apple out of the basket of an
apple-woman, who wears a blue gown and red hood, with the liripipe tucked
under her girdle; she has a basket of apples on each arm, and another on
her head. Still further to the right is a horse whose rider has
dismounted, and the foot-boy is sitting on the crupper behind the saddle
holding the reins.

[Illustration: _An Execution in Paris._]

The last cut is taken from the painted glass at Tournay of the fifteenth
century, and represents _marchands en gros_. This illustration of a
warehouse with the merchant and his clerk, and the men and the casks and
bales, and the great scales, in full tide of business, is curious and

Chaucer once more, in the "Shipman's Tale," gives us an illustration of
our subject. Speaking of a merchant of St. Denys, he says:--

  "Up into his countour house goth he,
   To reken with himselvin, wel may be,
   Of thilke yere how that it with him stood,
   And how that he dispended had his good,
   And if that he encreased were or non.
   His bookes and his bagges many one
   He layeth before him on his counting bord.
   Ful riche was his tresor and his hord;
   For which ful fast his countour done he shet,
   And eke he n'olde no man shuld him let
   Of his accountes for the mene time;
   And thus he sat till it was passed prime."

[Illustration: _Marchands en Gros, Fifteenth Century._]

The counting-board was a board marked with squares, on which counters were
placed in such a way as to facilitate arithmetical operations.

We have also a picture of him setting out on a business journey attended
by his apprentice:--

  "But so bifell this marchant on a day
   Shope him to maken ready his array
   Toward the town of Brugges for to fare
   To byen there a portion of ware.

      *       *       *       *       *

   The morrow came, and forth this marchant rideth
   To Flaundersward, his prentis wel him gideth.
   Til he came into Brugges merily.
   Now goth this marchant fast and bisily
   About his nede, and bieth and creanceth;
   He neither playeth at the dis ne danceth,
   But as a marchant shortly for to tell
   He ledeth his lif, and ther I let him dwell."



It is difficult at first to believe it possible that the internal trade of
mediæval England was carried on chiefly at great annual fairs for the
wholesale business, at weekly markets for the chief towns, and by means of
itinerant traders, of whom the modern pedlar is the degenerate
representative, for the length and breadth of the country. In order to
understand the possibility, we must recall to our minds how small
comparatively was the population of the country. It was about two millions
at the Norman Conquest, it had hardly increased to four millions by the
end of the fifteenth century, it was only five millions in the time of
William III. Nearly every one of our towns and villages then existed; but
the London, and Bristol, and Norwich, and York of the fourteenth century,
though they were relatively important places in the nation, were not
one-tenth of the size of the towns into which they have grown. Manchester,
and Leeds, and Liverpool, and a score of other towns, existed then, but
they were mere villages; and the country population was thinly scattered
over a half-reclaimed, unenclosed, pastoral country.

To begin with the fairs. The king exercised the sole power of granting the
right to hold a fair. It was sought by corporations, monasteries, and
manorial lords, in order that they might profit, first by the letting of
ground to the traders who came to dispose of their wares, next by the
tolls which were levied on all merchandise brought for sale, and on the
sales themselves; and then indirectly by the convenience of getting a near
market for the produce the neighbourhood had to sell, and for the goods it
desired to buy.

The annexed woodcut, from the MS. Add. 24,189, represents passengers
paying toll on landing at a foreign port, and perhaps belongs in
strictness to an earlier part of our subject. The reader will notice the
picturesque custom-house officers, the landing-places, and the indications
of town architecture. The next illustration, from painted glass at Tournay
(from La Croix and Seré's "Moyen Age et la Renaissance") shows a group of
people crossing the bridge into a town, and the collector levying the
toll. The oxen and pigs, the country-wife on horseback, with a lamb laid
over the front of her saddle, represent the country-people and their
farm-produce; the pack-horse and mule on the left, with their flat-capped
attendant, are an interesting illustration of the itinerant trader
bringing in his goods. The toll-collector seems to be, from his dress and
bearing, a rather dignified official, and the countryman recognises it by
touching his hat to him. The river and its wharves, and the boats moored
alongside, and the indication of the town gates and houses, make up a very
interesting sketch of mediæval life.

[Illustration: _Passengers paying Toll._]

[Illustration: _Traders entering a Town._]

There were certain great fairs to which traders resorted from all parts of
the country. The great fair at Nijni Novgorod, and in a lesser degree the
fair of Leipsic, remain to help us to realise such gatherings as
Bartholomew Fair used to be. Even now the great horse-fair at Horncastle,
and the stock-fair at Barnet, may help us to understand how it answered
the purpose of buyers and sellers to meet annually at one general
rendezvous. The gathering into one centre of the whole stock on sale and
the whole demand for it, was not only in other ways a convenience to
buyers and sellers, but especially it regulated the general prices current
of all vendibles, and checked the capricious variations which a
fluctuating local supply and demand would have created in the then
condition of the country and of commerce. The king sometimes, by
capricious exercises of his authority in the subject of fairs, seriously
interfered with the interests of those who frequented them--_e.g._ by
granting license to hold a new fair which interfered with one already
established; by licensing a temporary fair, and forbidding trade to be
carried on elsewhere during its continuance. Thus in 1245 A.D. Henry II.
proclaimed a fair at Westminster to be held for fifteen days, and required
all the London traders to shut up their shops and bring their goods to the
fair. It happened that the season was wet; few consequently came to the
fair, and the traders' goods were injured by the rain which penetrated
into their temporary tents and stalls. He repeated the attempt to benefit
Westminster four years afterwards, with a similar result.

Of course when great crowds were gathered together for days in succession,
and money was circulating abundantly, there would be others who would seek
a profitable market besides the great dealers in woolfels and foreign
produce. The sellers of ribbands and cakes would be there, purveyors of
food and drink for the hungry and thirsty multitude, caterers for the
amusement of the people, minstrels and jugglers, exhibitors of
morality-plays and morrice-dancers, and still less reputable people. And
so, besides the men who came for serious business, there would be a mob
of pleasure-seekers also. The crowd of people of all ranks and classes
from every part of the country, with the consequent variety of costume in
material, fashion, and colour--the knight's helm and coat of mail, or
embroidered _jupon_ and plumed bonnet, the lady's furred gown and jewels,
the merchant's sober suit of cloth, the minstrel's gay costume and the
jester's motley, the monk's robe and cowl, and the peasant's smockfrock,
continually in motion up and down the streets of the temporary canvas
town, the music of the minstrels, the cries of the traders, the loud talk
and laughter of the crowd--must have made up a picturesque scene, full of

When the real business of the country had found other channels, the fairs
still continued--and in many places still continue--as mere
"pleasure-fairs;" still the temporary stalls lining the streets, and the
drinking-booths and shows, preserve something of the old usages and
outward aspect, though, it must be confessed, they are dreary, desolate
relics of what the mediæval fairs used to be. The fair was usually
proclaimed by sound of trumpet, before which ceremony it was unlawful to
begin traffic, or after the conclusion of the legal term for which the
fair was granted. A court of _pie-poudre_ held its sittings for the
cognizance of offences committed in the fair. Many of our readers will
remember the spirited description of such a fair in Sir Walter Scott's
novel of "The Betrothed."

In the great towns were shops in which retail trade was daily carried on,
but under very different conditions from those of modern times. The
various trades seem to have been congregated together, and the trading
parts of the town were more concentrated than is now the case; in both
respects resembling the bazaars of Eastern towns. Thus in London the
tradesmen had shops in the Cheap, which resembled sheds, and many of them
were simply stalls. But they did not limit themselves to their dealings
there; they travelled about the country also. The mercers dealt in toys,
drugs, spices, and small wares generally; their stocks being of the same
miscellaneous description as that of a village-shop of the present day.
The station of the mercers of London was between Bow Church and Friday
Street, and here round the old cross of Cheap they sold their goods at
little standings or stalls, surrounded by those belonging to other trades.
The trade of the modern grocer was preceded by that of the pepperer,
which was often in the hands of Lombards and Italians, who dealt also in
drugs and spices. The drapers were originally manufacturers of cloth; to
drape meaning to make cloth. The trade of the fishmonger was divided into
two branches, one of which dealt exclusively in dried fish, then a very
common article of food. The goldsmiths had their shops in the street of
Cheap; but fraudulent traders of their craft, and not members of their
guild, set up shops in obscure lanes, where they sold goods of inferior
metal. A list of the various trades and handicrafts will afford a general
idea of the trade of the town. Before the 50th of Edward III. (1376 A.D.)
the "mysteries" or trades of London, who elected the Common Council of the
city, were thirty-two in number; but they were increased by an ordinance
of that year to forty-eight, which were as follows:--grocers, masons,
ironmongers, mercers, brewers, leather-dressers, drapers, fletchers,
armourers, fishmongers, bakers, butchers, goldsmiths, skinners, cutlers,
vintners, girdlers, spurriers, tailors, stainers, plumbers, saddlers,
cloth-measurers, wax-chandlers, webbers, haberdashers, barbers,
tapestry-weavers, braziers, painters, leather-sellers, salters, tanners,
joiners, cappers, pouch-makers, pewterers, chandlers, hatters,
woodmongers, fullers, smiths, pinners, curriers, horners.

As a specimen of a provincial town we may take Colchester. A detailed
description of this town in the reign of Edward III. shows that it
contained only 359 houses, some built of mud, others of timber. None of
the houses had any but latticed windows. The town-hall was of stone, with
handsome Norman doorway. It had also a royal castle, three or more
religious houses--one a great and wealthy abbey--several churches, and was
surrounded by the old Roman wall. The number of inhabitants was about
three thousand. Yet Colchester was the capital of a large district of
country, and there were only about nine towns in England of greater
importance. In the year 1301 all the movable property of the town,
including the furniture and clothing of the inhabitants, was estimated,
for the purpose of a taxation, to be worth £518, and the details give us a
curious picture of the times. The tools of a carpenter consisted of a
broad axe, value 5_d._, another 3_d._, an adze 2_d._, a square 1_d._, a
_noveyn_ (probably a spokeshave) 1_d._, making the total value of his
tools 1_s._ The tools and stock of a blacksmith were valued at only a few
shillings, the highest being 12_s._ The stock-in-trade and household goods
of a tanner were estimated at £9 17_s._ 10_d._ A mercer's stock was valued
at £3, his household property at £2 9_s._ The trades carried on there were
the twenty-nine following:--Baker, barber, blacksmith, bowyer, brewer,
butcher, carpenter, carter, cobbler, cook, dyer, fisherman, fuller,
furrier, girdler, glass-seller, glover, linen-draper, mercer and
spice-seller, miller, mustard and vinegar seller, old clothes-seller,
tailor, tanner, tiler, weaver, wood-cutter, and wool-comber. Our woodcut,
from the MS. Add. 27,695, which has already supplied us with several
valuable illustrations, represents a mediæval shop of a high class,
probably a goldsmith's. The shopkeeper eagerly bargaining with his
customer is easily recognised, the shopkeeper's clerk is making an entry
of the transaction, and the customer's servant stands behind him, holding
some of his purchases; flagons and cups and dishes seem to be the
principal wares; heaps of money lie on the table, which is covered with a
handsome tablecloth, and in the background are hung on a "perch," for
sale, girdles, a hand-mirror, a cup, a purse, and sword.

[Illustration: _A Goldsmith's Shop._]

Here, from "Le Pélerinage de la Vie Humaine," in the French National
Library,[412] is another illustration of a mediæval shop. This is a
mercer's, and the merceress describes her wares in the following lines:--

  "Quod sche, 'Gene[413] I schal the telle
   Mercerye I have to selle
   In boystes,[414] soote oynementes,[415]
   Therewith to don allegementes[416]
   To ffolkes which be not gladde,
   But discorded and malade.
   I have kyves, phylletys, callys,
   At ffestes to hang upon walles;
   Kombes no mo than nyne or ten,
   Bothe for horse and eke ffor men;
   Mirrours also, large and brode,
   And ffor the syght wonder gode;
   Off hem I have ffull greet plenté,
   For ffolke that haven volunté
   Byholde himselffe therynne.'"

In some provincial towns, as Nottingham, the names of several of the
streets bear witness to an aggregation of traders of the same calling.
Bridlesmith Gate was clearly the street in which the knights and yeomen of
the shire resorted for their horse-furniture and trappings, and in the
open stalls of Fletcher Gate sheaves of arrows were hung up for sale to
the green-coated foresters of neighbouring Sherwood. The only trace of
the custom we have left is in the butcheries and shambles which exist in
many of our towns, where the butchers' stalls are still gathered together
in one street or building.

[Illustration: _French National Library._]

But the greater part of the trade of the towns was transacted on
market-days. Then the whole neighbourhood flocked in, the farmers to sell
their farm produce, their wives and daughters with their poultry and
butter and eggs for the week's consumption of the citizens, and to carry
back with them their town-purchases. In every market-town there was
usually a wide open space--the market-place--for the accommodation of this
weekly traffic; in the principal towns were several market-places,
appropriated to different kinds of produce: _e.g._ at Nottingham, besides
the principal market-place--a vast open space in the middle of the town,
surrounded by overhanging houses supported on pillars, making open
colonnades like those of an Italian town--there was a "poultry" adjoining
the great market, and a "butter-cross" in the middle of a small square, in
which it is assumed the women displayed their butter. In an old-fashioned
provincial market-town, the market-day is still the one day in the week on
which the streets are full of bustle and the shops of business, while on
the other days of the week the town stagnates; it must have been still
more the case in the old times of which we write. In some instances there
seems reason to think a weekly market was held in places which had hardly
any claim to be called towns--mere villages, on whose green the
neighbourhood assembled for the weekly market. Round the green, perhaps, a
few stalls and booths were erected for the day; pedlars probably supplied
the shop element; and artificers from neighbouring towns came in for the
day, as in some of our villages now the saddler and the shoemaker and the
watchmaker attend once a week to do the makings and mendings which are
required. There are still to be seen in a few old-fashioned towns and
remote country places market-crosses in the market-place or on the
village-green. They usually consist of a tall cross of stone, round the
lower part of whose shaft a penthouse of stone or wood has been erected to
shelter the market-folks from rain and sun. There is such a cross at
Salisbury; a good example of a village market-cross at Castle Combe, in
Gloucestershire, one of wood at Shelford, in Cambridgeshire, and many
others up and down the country, well worthy of being collected and
illustrated by the antiquary before they are swept away. Our illustration,
from the painted glass at Tournay, represents a market scene, the women
sitting on their low stools, with their baskets of goods displayed on the
ground before them. The female on the left seems to be filling up her time
by knitting; the woman on the right is paying her market dues to the
collector, who, as in the cut on p. 505, is habited as a clerk. The
background appears to represent a warehouse, where transactions of a
larger kind are going on.

[Illustration: _A Market Scene._]

But the inhabitants of rural districts were not altogether dependent on a
visit to the nearest market for their purchases. The pursuit of gain
enlisted the services of numerous itinerant traders, who traversed the
land in all directions, calling at castle and manor house, monastery,
grange, and cottage; and by the tempting display of pretty objects, and
the handy supply of little wants, brought into healthy circulation many a
silver penny which would otherwise have jingled longer in the owner's
_gypcire_, or rested in the hoard in the homely stocking-foot. An entry in
that mine of curious information, the York Fabric Rolls, reveals an
incident in the pedlar's mode of dealing. It is a presentation, that is, a
complaint, made to the Archbishop by the churchwardens of the parish of
Riccall, in Yorkshire, under the date 1519 A.D. They represent, in the
dog-Latin of the time: "_Item, quod Calatharii_ (_Anglice_ Pedlars),
_veniunt diebus festis in porticum ecclesiæ et ibidem vendunt mercimonium
suum_." That _Calatharii_--that is to say, Pedlars--come into the
church-porch on feast-days, and there sell their merchandise. From another
entry in the same records it seems that sometimes the chapmen congregated
in such numbers that the gathering assumed the proportions of an irregular
weekly market. Thus among the presentations in 1416, is one from St.
Michael de Berefredo, St. Michael-le-Belfry, in the city of York, which
states, "The parishioners say that a common market of vendibles is held in
the churchyard on Sundays and holidays, and divers things and goods and
rushes are exposed there for sale." The complaint is as early as the
fourth century; for we find St. Basil mentioning as one abuse of the great
church-festivals, that men kept markets at these times and places under
colour of making better provision for the feasts which were kept thereat.

The presentation from Riccall carries us back into the old times, and
enables us to realise a picturesque and curious incident in their
primitive mode of life. A little consideration will enable us to see how
such a practice arose, and how it could be tolerated by people who had at
least so much respect for religion as to come to church on Sundays and
holidays. When we call to mind the state of the country districts, half
reclaimed, half covered with forest and marsh and common, traversed
chiefly by footpaths and bridle-roads, we shall understand how isolated a
life was led by the inhabitants of the country villages and hamlets, and
farmhouses and out-lying cottages. It was only on Sundays and holidays
that neighbours met together. On those days the goodman mounted one of his
farm-horses, put his dame behind him on a pillion, and jogged through deep
and miry ways to church, while the younger and poorer came sauntering
along the footpaths. One may now stand in country churchyards on a Sunday
afternoon, and watch the people coming in all directions, across the
fields, under copse, and over common, climbing the rustic styles, crossing
the rude bridge formed by a tree-trunk thrown over the sparkling
trout-stream, till all the lines converge at the church porch. And one has
felt that those paths--many of them ploughed up every year and made every
year afresh by the feet of the wayfarer--are among the most venerable
relics of ancient times. And here among the ancient laws of Wales is one
which assures us that our conjecture is true: "Every habitation," it says,
"ought to have two good paths (convenient right of road), one to its
church, and one to its watering-place." Very pleasant in summer these
church-paths to the young folks who saunter along them in couples or in
groups, but very disagreeable in wet wintery weather, and in difficult at
all times to the old and infirm. Another presentation out of the York
Fabric Rolls, gives us a contemporary picture of these church paths, seen
under a gloomy aspect: In A.D. 1472, the people of Haxley complain to the
Archdeacon that they "inhabit so unresonablie fer from ther parisch
cherche that the substaunce (majority) of the said inhabitauntes for
impotensaye and feblenes, farrenes (farness == distance) of the way, and
also for grete abundance of waters and perlouse passages at small brigges
for peple in age and unweldye, between them and ther next parische
cherche, they may not come with ese or in seasonable tyme at ther saide
parische cherche as Cristen people should, and as they wold," and so they
pray for leave and help for a chaplain of their own.

We must remember, too, that our ante-Reformation forefathers did not hold
modern doctrines concerning the proper mode of observing Sundays and
holydays. They observed them more in the way which makes us still call a
day of leisure and recreation a "holiday;" they observed them all in much
the same spirit as we still observe some of them, such as Christmas-day
and Whitsuntide. When they had duly served God at _matins_ and mass, they
thought it no sin to spend the rest of the day in lawful occupations, and
rather laudable than otherwise to spend it in innocent recreations. The
Riccall presentation gives us a picture which, no doubt, might have been
seen in many another country-place on a Sunday or saint-day. The pedlar
lays down his pack in the church-porch--and we will charitably suppose
assists at the service--and then after service he is ready to spread out
his wares on the bench of the porch before the eyes of the assembled
villagers and make his traffickings, ecclesiastical canons to the contrary
notwithstanding, and so save himself many a weary journey along the
devious ways by which his customers have to return in the evening to their
scattered homes. The complaint of the churchwardens does not seem to be
directed against the traffic so much as against its being conducted in the
consecrated precincts. Let the pedlar transfer his wares to the steps of
the village-cross, and probably no one would have complained; but then,
though they who wanted anything might have sought him there, he would have
lost the chance of catching the eye of those who did not want anything,
and tempting them to want and buy--a course for which we must not blame
our pedlar too much, since we are told it is the essence of commerce, on a
large as on a small scale, to create artificial wants and supply them.

In the late thirteenth-century MS. Royal, 10 Ed. IV., are some
illuminations of a mediæval story, which afford us very curious
illustrations of a pedlar and his pack. At f. 149, the pedlar is asleep
under a tree, and monkeys are stealing his pack, which is a large bundle,
bound across and across with rope, with a red strap attached to the rope
by which it is slung over the shoulder. On the next page the monkeys have
opened the wrapper, showing that it covered a kind of box, and the
mischievous creatures are running off with the contents, among which we
can distinguish a shirt and some circular mirrors. On f. 150, the monkeys
have conveyed their spoil up into the tree, and we make out a purse and
belt, a musical pipe, a belt and dagger, a pair of slippers, a hood and
gloves, and a mirror. On the next page, a continuation of the same
subject, we see a pair of gloves, a man's hat, a woman's head-kerchief;
and again, on p. 151, we have, in addition, hose, a mirror, a woman's
head-dress, and a man's hood. These curious illuminations sufficiently
indicate the usual contents of a pedlar's pack.

[Illustration: _Pack-horses._]

In the Egerton MS., 1,070, of the fourteenth century, at f. 380, is a
representation of the flight into Egypt, in which Joseph is represented
carrying a round pack by a stick over the shoulder, which probably
illustrates the usual mode of carrying a pack or a pedestrian's personal
luggage. Other illustrations of the pedlar of the latter part of the
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries will be found in the series of the Dance
of Death.

A former illustration has shown us a pack-horse and mule, the means by
which those itinerant traders chiefly carried their merchandise over the
country. But some kinds of goods would not bear packing into ordinary
bundles of the kind there shown; for such goods, boxes or trunks, slung on
each side of a pack-saddle, were used. We are able to give an illustration
of them from an ancient tapestry figured in the fine work on "Anciennes
Tapisseries" by Achille Jubinal. It is only a minor incident in the
background of the picture, but is represented with sufficient clearness.
Another mode of carrying personal baggage is represented in the
fifteenth-century MS. Royal, 15 E. V., where a gentleman travelling on
horseback is followed by two servants, each with a large roll of baggage
strapped to the croupe of his saddle. The use of pack-horses has not even
yet (or had not a few years ago) utterly died out of England. The writer
saw a string of them in the Peak of Derbyshire, employed in carrying ore
from the mines. The occasional occurrence of the pack-horse as the sign of
a roadside inn also helps to keep alive the remembrance of this primitive
form of "luggage-train." Many of our readers may have travelled with a
valise at their saddle-bow and a cloak strapped to the croupe; the
fashion, even now, is not quite out of date.



We have, in a former chapter, given some pictures from illuminated MSS.,
in illustration of the costume and personal appearance of the merchants of
the Middle Ages; but they are on such a scale as not to give much
characteristic portraiture--except in the example of the bourgeoise of
Paris, in the illumination from Froissart, on page 492--and they
inadequately represent the minute details of costume. We shall endeavour
in this chapter to bring our men more vividly before the eye of the reader
in dress and feature.

The "Catalogus Benefactorum" of St. Alban's Abbey, to which we have been
so often indebted, will again help us with some pictures of unusual
character. They are of the fourteenth century, and illustrate people of
the burgess class who were donors to the abbey; the peculiarity of the
representation is, that they are half-length portraits on an unusually
large scale for MS. illuminations. When we call them portraits, we do not
mean absolutely to assert that the originals sat for their pictures, and
that the artist tried to make as accurate a portrait as he could; but it
is probable that the donations were recorded and the pictures executed
soon after the gifts were made, therefore, presumedly, in the lifetime of
the donors. It is, moreover, probable that the artist was resident in the
monastery or in the dependent town, and was, consequently, acquainted with
the personal appearance of his originals; and in that case, even if the
artist had not his subjects actually before his eyes at the time he
painted these memorials, it is likely that he would, at least from
recollection, give a general _vraisemblance_ to his portrait. The faces
are very dissimilar, and all have a characteristic expression, which
confirms us in the idea that they are not mere conventional portraits.

They seem to be chiefly tradespeople rather than merchants of the higher
class, and of the latter half of the fourteenth century. Here, for
example, are William Cheupaign and his wife Johanna, who gave to the
Abbey-church two tenements in the Halliwelle Street. One of the tenements
is represented in the picture, a single-storied house of timber, thatched,
with a carved stag's head as a finial to its gable. This William also
gave, for the adornment of the church, several frontals, with gold, roses
embroidered on a black ground; also he gave a belt to make a _morse_
(fastening or brooch) for the principal copes, with a figure of a swan in
the _morse_, beautifully made of goldsmith's work; also he gave to the
refectory a wooden drinking-bowl or cup, handsomely ornamented with
silver, with a cover of the same wood. He wears a green hood lined with
red; his wife is habited in a white hood.

[Illustration: _William and Johanna Cheupaign._]

The next picture represents Johanna de Warn, who also gave what is
described as a well-built house, with a louvre, in St. Alban's town. This
house, again, is of timber, with traceried windows, an arched doorway with
ornamental hinges to the door, and an unusually large and handsome louvre.
This louvre was doubtless in the roof of the hall, and probably over a
fire-hearth in the middle of the hall, such as that which still exists in
the fourteenth-century hall at Pevensey, Kent. The lady's face is strong
corroboration of the theory that these are portraits.

[Illustration: _Johanna de Warn._]

Next is the portrait of a man in a robe, fastened in front with great
buttons, and a hood drawn round a strongly marked face, reminding us
altogether of the portraits of Dante.

[Illustration: _A Gentleman in Civilian Dress._]

The last which we take from this curious series is the picture of William
de Langley, who gave to the monastery a well-built house in Dagnale
Street, in the town of St. Alban's, for which the monastery received sixty
shillings per annum, which Geoffrey Stukeley held at the time of writing.
William de Langley is a man of regular features, partly bald, with pointed
beard and moustache, the kind of face that might so easily have been
merely conventional, but which has really much individuality of
expression. The house--his benefaction--represented beside him, is a
two-storied house; three of the square compartments just under the eaves
are seen, by the colouring of the illumination, to be windows; it is
timber-built and tiled, and the upper story overhangs the lower. The gable
is finished with a weather-vane, which, in the original, is carried beyond
the limits of the picture. The dots in the empty spaces of all these
pictures are the diapering of the coloured background.

[Illustration: _William de Langley._]

But curious as these early portraits are, and interesting for their
character and for their costume, as far as they go, they still fail to
give us complete illustrations of the dresses of the people. For these we
shall have to resort to a class of illustrations which we have hitherto,
for the most part, avoided--that of monumental brasses. Now we recur to
them because they give us what we want--the _minutiæ_ of costume--in far
higher perfection than we can find it elsewhere. Again, instead of
selecting one from one part of the country and another from another, we
have thought that it would add interest to the series of illustrations to
take as many as possible from one church, whose grave-stones happen to
furnish us with a continuous series at short intervals of the effigies of
the men who once inhabited the old houses of the town of Northleach, in
Gloucestershire. This series, however, does not go back so far as the
earliest extant monumental brass of a merchant; we therefore take a first
example from another source. We have already mentioned the three grand
effigies of Robert Braunche and Adam Walsokne of Lynne, and Alan Fleming
of Newark; we select from them the effigy of Robert Braunche, merchant of
Lynn, of date 1367 A.D. We have taken his single figure out of the grand
composition which forms, perhaps, the finest monumental brass in
existence. The costume is elegantly simple. A tunic reaches to the ankle,
with a narrow line of embroidery at the edges; the sleeves do not reach to
the elbow, but fall in two hanging lappets, while the arm is seen to be
covered by the tight sleeves of an under garment, ornamented rather than
fastened by a close row of buttons from the elbow to the wrist. Over the
tunic is a hood, which covers the upper part of the person, while the head
part falls behind. The hood in this example fits so tightly to the figure
that the reader might, perhaps, think it doubtful whether it is really a
second garment over the tunic; but in the contemporary and very similar
effigy of Adam de Walsokne, it is quite clear that it is a hood. The plain
leather shoes laced across the instep will also be noticed. If the reader
should happen to compare this woodcut with the engraving of the same
figure in Boutell's "Monumental Brasses," he will, perhaps, be perplexed
by finding that the head here given is different from that which he will
find there. We beg to assure him that our woodcut is correct. Mr.
Boutell's artist, by some curious error, has given to his drawing of
Braunche the head of Alan Fleming of Newark; and to Fleming he has given
Braunche's head.

We feel quite sure that every one of artistic feeling will be thankful
for being made acquainted with the accompanying effigy of a merchant of
Northleach, whose inscription is lost, and his name, therefore, unknown.
The brass is of the highest merit as a work of art, and has been very
carefully and accurately engraved, and is worthy of minute examination.
The costume, which is of about the year 1400 A.D., it will be seen,
consists of a long robe buttoned down the front, girded with a
highly-ornamented belt; the enlarged plate at the end of the strap is
ornamented with a T, probably the initial of the wearer's Christian name.
By his side hangs the _anlace_, or dagger, which was worn by all men of
the middle class who did not wear a sword, even by the secular clergy.
Over all is a cloak, which opens at the right side, so as to give as much
freedom as possible to the right arm, and to this cloak is attached a
hood, which falls over the shoulders. The hands are covered with half
gloves. The wool-pack at his feet shows his trade of wool-merchant. Over
the effigy is an elegant canopy, which it is not necessary for our purpose
to give, but it adds very much to the beauty and sumptuousness of the

[Illustration: _Robert Braunche, of Lynn._]

[Illustration: _Wool Merchant from Northleach Church._]

Next in the series is John Fortey, A.D. 1458, whose costume is not so
elegant as that of the last figure, but it is as distinctly represented.
The tunic is essentially the same, but shorter, reaching only to the
mid-leg; with sleeves of a peculiar shape which, we know from other
contemporary monuments, was fashionable at that date. It is fastened with
a girdle, though a less ornamental one than that of the preceding figure,
and is lined and trimmed at the wrists with fur. Very similar figures of
Hugo Bostock and his wife, in Wheathamstead Church, Herts, are of date
1435; these latter effigies are specially interesting as the parents of
John de Wheathamstede, the thirty-third abbot of St. Alban's.

[Illustration: _John Fortey, from Northleach Church._]

The next is an interesting figure, though far inferior in artistic merit
and beauty to those which have gone before. The name here again is lost,
but a fragment remaining of the inscription gives the date MCCCC., with a
blank for the completion of the date; the same is the case with the date
of his wife's death, so that both effigies may have been executed in the
lifetime of the persons. The date is probably a little later than 1400.
The face is so different from the previous ones that it may not be
unnecessary to say that great pains have been taken to make it an accurate
copy of the original, and it has been drawn and engraved by the same hand
as the others. The manifest endeavour to indicate that the deceased was an
elderly man, induces us to suspect that some of its peculiarity may arise
from its being not a mere conventional brass, such as the monumental brass
artists doubtless "kept to order," but one specially executed with a
desire to make it more nearly resemble the features of the deceased. If,
as we have conjectured, it was executed in his lifetime, this, perhaps,
may account for its differing from the conventional type. His dress is the
gown worn by civilians at the period, with a _gypcire_, or purse, hung at
one side of his girdle, and his rosary at the other.

[Illustration: _Wool Merchants from Northleach Church._]

Lastly, we give the effigy of another nameless wool-merchant of
Northleach, who is habited in a gown of rather stiffer material than the
robes of his predecessors, trimmed with fur at the neck and feet and
wrists. The inscription recording his name and date of death is lost, but
a curious epitaph, also engraved on the brass, remains, as follows:--

  "Farewell my frends, the tyde abideth no man,
   I am departed from hence, and so shall ye;
   But in this passage the best songe that I can
   Is requiem eternam. Now then graunte it me,
   When I have ended all myn adversitie,
   Graunte me in Puradise to have a mansion,
   That shed thy blode for my redemption."

The mention of fur in these effigies suggests the restrictions in this
matter imposed by the sumptuary laws by which the king and his advisers
sought from time to time to restrain the extravagance of the lieges. By
the most important of these acts, passed in 1362, the Lord Mayor of London
and his wife were respectively allowed to wear the array of knights
bachelors and their wives; the aldermen and recorder of London, and the
mayors of other cities and towns, that of esquires and gentlemen having
property to the yearly value of £40. No man having less than this, or his
wife or daughter, shall wear any fur of martrons (martin's?) letuse, pure
grey, or pure miniver. Merchants, citizens, and burgesses, artificers and
people of handicraft, as well within the City of London as elsewhere,
having goods and chattels of the clear value of £500, are allowed to dress
like esquires and gentlemen of £100 a year; and those possessing property
to the amount of £1,000, like landed proprietors of £200 a year.

There are some further features in these monumental brasses worth notice.
Knightly effigies often have represented at their feet lions, the symbols
of their martial courage. Some of our wool-merchants have a sheep at their
feet, as the symbol of their calling: one is given in the woodcut
accompanying. In another, in the same church, the merchant has one foot on
a sheep and the other on a wool-pack; here the two significant symbols are
combined--the sheep stands on the wool-pack. In both examples the
wool-pack has a mark upon it; in the former case it is something like the
usual "merchant's mark," in the latter it is two shepherds' crooks, which
seem to be his badge, for another crook is laid beside the wool-pack. At
the feet of the effigy of John Fortey, p. 523, is also his merchant's mark
enclosed in an elegant wreath, here represented. The initials I and F are
the initials of his name; the remainder of the device is his trade-mark.
We give two other merchants' marks of the two last of our series of
effigies. If the reader cares to see other examples of these marks, and to
learn all the little that is known about them, he may refer to a paper by
Mr. Ewing, in vol. iii. of "Norfolk Archæology."





We have in a former chapter (p. 498) given from his monumental brass a
figure of Alderman Field, of the date 1574, habited in a tunic edged with
fur, girded at the waist, with a _gypcire_ and rosary at the girdle, and
over all an alderman's gown. In St. Paul's Church, Bedford, is another
brass of Sir William Harper, Knight, Alderman, and Lord Mayor of
London,[417] who died in A.D. 1573; he wears a suit of armour of that
date, with an alderman's robe forming a drapery about the figure, but
thrown back so as to conceal as little of the figure as possible. In the
Abbey Church at Shrewsbury is an effigy of a mayor of that town in armour,
with a mayor's gown of still more modern shape. The brasses of Sir M.
Rowe, Lord Mayor of London, 1567, and Sir H. Rowe, Lord Mayor 1607, both
kneeling figures, formerly in Hackney Church, are engraved in Robinson's
history of that parish. And in many of the churches in and about London,
and other of the great commercial towns of the Middle Ages, monumental
effigies exist, with which, were it necessary, we might extend these notes
of illustrations of civic costume.

In further explanation of civil costume from MSS. illuminations we refer
the artist to the Harleian "Romance of the Rose" (Harl. 4,425, f. 47),
where he will find a beautiful drawing, in which appears a man in a long
blue gown, open a little at the breast and showing a pink under-robe, a
black hat, and a liripipe of the kind already given in the citizens of
Paris p. 54; he wears his purse by his side, and is presenting money to a
beggar. At f. 98 is another in similar costume, with a "penner" at his
belt in addition to his purse. There is nothing to prove that these men
are merchants, except that they are represented in the streets of a town,
and that their costume is such as was worn by merchants of the time.

With these costumes of civilians before our eyes we wish to use them in
illustration of a subject which was touched upon in a former section of
this work, viz., the Secular Clergy of the Middle Ages. We there devoted
some pages to a discussion of the ordinary every-day costume of the
clergy, and stated that there was no professional peculiarity about it,
but that it was in shape like that worn by contemporary civilians of the
better class, and in colour blue and red and other colours, but seldom
black. If the reader will turn back to pp. 244, 245, and 246, he will find
some woodcuts of the clergy in ordinary costume; let him compare them now
with these costumes of merchants. For example, take the woodcut of Roger
the Chaplain, on p. 245, and compare it with the brass from Northleach, p.
522. The style of art is very different, but in spite of this the
resemblance in costume will be readily seen; the gown reaching to the
ankle, and over it the cloak fastened with three buttons at the right
shoulder, with the hood falling back over the shoulders; the half-gloves
are the same in both, and the shoes with their latchet over the instep.
Then turn to the priest on p. 246, and it will be seen that he wears the
gown girded at the waist, with a purse hung at the girdle, and the flat
cap with long liripipe, which we have described in the costumes of these
merchants. Lastly, let the reader look at these brasses of wool-staplers,
and compare the gown they wore with the cassock now adopted by the clergy,
and it will be seen that they are identical--_i.e._ the clergy continue to
wear the gown which all civilians wore three or four hundred years ago;
and in the same manner the academic gown which the clergy wear, in common
with all university men, is only the gown which all respectable citizens
wore in the time of Henry VIII. and Elizabeth.



Mediæval towns in England had one of four origins; some were those of
ancient Roman foundation, which had lived through the Saxon invasion, like
Lincoln, Chester, and Colchester. Others again grew up gradually in the
neighbourhood of a monastery. The monastery was founded in a wilderness,
but it had a number of artisans employed about it; travellers resorted to
its _hospitium_ as to an inn; it was perhaps a place of pilgrimage; the
affairs of the Lord Abbot, and the business of the large estates of the
convent, brought people constantly thither; and so gradually a town grew
up, as at St. Alban's, St. Edmundsbury, &c. In other cases it was not a
religious house, but a castle of some powerful and wealthy lord, which
drew a population together under the shelter of its walls--as at Norwich,
where the lines of the old streets follow the line of the castle-moat; or
Ludlow, on the other side of the kingdom, which gathered round the Norman
Castle of Ludlow. But there is a third category of mediæval towns which
did not descend from ancient times, or grow by accidental accretion in
course of time, but were deliberately founded and built in the mediæval
period for specific purposes; and in these we have a special interest from
our present point of view.

There was a period, beginning in the latter part of the eleventh and
extending to the close of the fourteenth century, when kings and feudal
lords, from motives of high policy, fostered trade with anxious care;
encouraged traders with countenance, protection, and grants of privileges;
and founded commercial towns, and gave them charters which made them
little independent, self-governing republics, in the midst of the feudal
lords and ecclesiastical communities which surrounded them.

In England we do not find so many of these newly founded towns as on the
Continent; here towns were already scattered abundantly over the land, and
what was needed was to foster their growth; but our English kings founded
such towns in their continental dominions. Edward I. planted numerous free
towns, especially in Guienne and Aquitaine, in order to raise up a power
in his own interest antagonistic to that of the feudal lords. Other
continental sovereigns did the same, _e.g._ Alphonse of Poitiers, the
brother of St. Louis, in his dominion of Toulouse. But in England we have
a few such cases. The history of the foundation of Hull will afford us an
example. When Edward I. was returning from Scotland after the battle of
Dunbar, he visited Lord Wakes of Barnard Castle. While hunting one day, he
was led by the chase to the hamlet of Wyke-upon-Hull, belonging to the
convent of Meaux. The king perceived at once the capabilities of the site
for a fortress for the security of the kingdom, and a port for the
extension of commerce. He left the hunt to take its course, questioned the
shepherds who were on the spot about the depth of the river, the height to
which the tides rose, the owner of the place, and the like. He sent for
the Abbot of Meaux, and exchanged with him other lands for Wyke. Then he
issued a proclamation offering freedom and great commercial privileges to
all merchants who would build and inhabit there. He erected there a
manor-house for himself; incorporated the town as a free borough in 1299
A.D.; by 1312 the great church was built; by 1322 the town was fortified
with a wall and towers; and the king visited it from time to time on his
journeys to the north. The family of De la Pole, who settled there from
the first, ably seconded the king's intentions. Kingston-upon-Hull became
one of the great commercial towns of the kingdom. The De la Poles rose
rapidly to wealth and the highest rank. Michael de la Pole "builded a
goodly-house of brick, against the west end of St. Mary's Church, like a
palace, with a goodly orchard and garden at large, enclosed with brick. He
builded also three houses in the town besides, whereof every one hath a
tower of brick." Leland the antiquary, of the time of Queen Elizabeth, has
left us a description and bird's-eye plan of the town in his day, which
is highly interesting. Of our English towns, those which are of Roman
origin were laid out at first on a comprehensive plan, and they have the
principal streets tolerably straight, and crossing at right angles. The
great majority of the towns which grew as above described are exceedingly
irregular; but this irregularity, so important an element in the
picturesqueness of mediæval towns, is quite an accidental one. When the
mediæval builders laid out a town _de novo_, they did it in the most
methodical manner; laying out the streets wide, straight, at equal
distances, and crossing rectangularly; appropriating proper sites for
churches, town-halls, and other public purposes, and regulating the size
and plan of the houses. It is to the continental towns we must especially
look for examples; but we find when Edward I. was building his free towns
there, he sent for Englishmen to lay them out for him. A similar
opportunity occurred at Winchelsea, where the same plan was pursued. The
old town of Winchelsea was destroyed by the sea in 1287, and the king
determined to rebuild this cinque-port. The chief owners of the new site
were a knight, Sir J. Tregoz, one Maurice, and the owners of Battle Abbey.
The king compounded with them for their rights over seventy acres of land,
and sent down the Bishop of Ely, who was Lord Treasurer, to lay out the
new town. The monarch accorded the usual privileges to settlers, and gave
help towards the fortifications. The town was laid out in streets which
divided the area into rectangular blocks; two blocks were set apart for
churches, and there were two colleges of friars within the town. Somehow
the place did not flourish; it was harried by incursions of the French
before the fortifications were completed, people were not attracted to it,
the whole area was never taken up, and it continues to this day shrunk up
into one corner of its walled area. Three of the old gates, and part of
the walls, and portions of three or four houses, are all that remain of
King Edward's town.

[Illustration: _View of Jerusalem._]

[Illustration: _The Canterbury Pilgrims._]

The woodcut on the preceding page, from a MS. of Lydgate's "Storie of
Thebes" (Royal 18 D. II.), gives a general view of a town. The travellers
in the foreground are a group of Canterbury pilgrims.

In these mediæval times the population of these towns was not so diverse
as it afterwards became; the houses were of various classes, from that of
the wealthy merchant, which was a palace--like that of Michael de la Pole
at Hull, or that of Sir John Crosby in London--down to the cottage of the
humble craftsman, but the mediæval town possessed no such squalid quarters
as are to be found in most of our modern towns. The inhabitants were
chiefly merchants, manufacturers, and craftsmen of the various guilds.
Just as in the military order, all who were permanently attached to the
service of a feudal lord were lodged in his castle or manor and its
dependencies; as all who were attached to a religious community were
lodged in and about the monastery; as in farm-houses, a century ago, the
labouring men lived in the house; so in towns all the clerks, apprentices,
and work-people lodged in the house of their master; the apprentices of
every craftsman formed part of his family; there were no lodgings in the
usual sense of the word. In the great towns, and especially in the
suburbs, were hostelries which received travellers, adventurers,
minstrels, and all the people who had no fixed establishment; and often in
the outskirts of the town without the walls, houses of inferior kind
sprang up like parasites, and harboured the poor and dangerous classes.

The bird's-eye views of the county towns in the corners of Speed's _Maps
of the most famous Places of the World_, are well worth study. They give
representations of the condition of many of our towns in the time of
Elizabeth, while they were still for the most part in their ancient
condition, with walls and gates, crosses, pillories, and maypoles still
standing, and indicated in the engravings. Perhaps one of the most perfect
examples we have left of a small mediæval town is Conway; it is true, no
very old houses appear to be left in it, but the streets are probably on
their old lines, and the walls and gates are perfect--the latter,
especially, giving us some picturesque features which we do not find
remaining in the gates of other towns. Taken in combination with the
adjoining castle it is architecturally one of the most unchanged corners
of England.

We have also a few old houses still left here and there, sufficient to
form a series of examples of various dates, from the twelfth century
downwards. We must refer the reader to Turner's "Domestic Architecture"
for notices of them. A much greater number of examples, and in much more
perfect condition, exist in the towns of the Continent, for which
reference should be made to Viollet le Duc's "Dictionary of Architecture."
All that our plan requires, and our space admits, is to give a general
notion of what a citizen's house in a mediæval town was like. The houses
of wealthy citizens were no doubt mansions comparable with the unembattled
manor-houses of the country gentry. We have already quoted Leland's
description of that of Michael de la Pole at Hull, of the fourteenth
century, and Crosby Hall in Bishopsgate Street. St. Mary's Hall, at
Coventry, is a very perfect example of the middle of the fifteenth
century. Norwich also possesses one or more houses of this character. The
house of an ordinary citizen had a narrow frontage, and usually presented
its gable to the street; it had very frequently a basement story, groined,
which formed a cellar, and elevated the first floor of the house three or
four feet above the level of the street. At Winchelsea the vaulted
basements of three or four of the old houses remain, and show that the
entrance to the house was by a short stone stair alongside the wall; under
these stairs was the entrance into the cellar, beside the steps a window
to the cellar, and over that the window of the first floor. Here, as was
usually the case, the upper part of the house was probably of wood, and it
was roofed with tiles. On the first floor was the shop, and beside it an
alley leading to the back of the house, and to a straight stair which gave
access to the building over the shop, which was a hall or common
living-room occupying the whole of the first floor. The kitchen was at the
back, near the hall, or sometimes the cooking was done in the hall itself.
A private stair mounted to the upper floor, which was the sleeping
apartment, and probably was often left in one undivided garret; the great
roof of the house was a wareroom or storeroom, goods being lifted to it by
a crane which projected from a door in the gable. The town of Cluny
possesses some examples, very little modernised, of houses of this
description of the twelfth century. Others of the thirteenth century are
at St. Antonin, and in the Rue St. Martin, Amiens. Others of subsequent
date will be found in the Dictionary of Viollet le Duc, vol. vi., pp.
222-271, who gives plans, elevations, and perspective sketches which
enable us thoroughly to understand and realise these picturesque old
edifices. Our own country will supply us with abundance of examples of
houses, both of timber and stone, of the fifteenth century. Nowhere,
perhaps, are there better examples than at Shrewsbury, where they are so
numerous, in some parts (_e.g._ in the High Street and in Butcher Row), as
to give a very good notion of the picturesque effect of a whole street--of
a whole town of them. But it must be admitted that the continental towns
very far exceed ours in their antiquarian and artistic interest. In the
first place, the period of great commercial prosperity occurred in these
countries in the Middle Ages, and their mediæval towns were in consequence
larger and handsomer than ours. In the second place, there has been no
great outburst of prosperity in these countries since to encourage the
pulling down the mediæval houses to make way for modern improvements;
while in England our commercial growth, which came later, has had the
result of clearing away nearly all of our old town-houses, except in a few
old-fashioned places which were left outside the tide of commercial
innovations. In consequence, a walk through some of the towns of Normandy
will enable the student and the artist better to realise the picturesque
effect of an old English town, than any amount of diligence in putting
together the fragments of old towns which remain to us. In some of the
German towns, also, we find the old houses still remaining, apparently
untouched, and the ancient walls, mural towers, and gateways still
surrounding them. The illuminations in MSS. show that English towns were
equally picturesque, and that the mediæval artists appreciated them. The
illustrations in our last chapter on pp. 519, 520, give an idea of the
houses inhabited by citizens in such a town as St. Alban's. In the "Roman
d'Alexandre," in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, a whole street of such
houses is rudely represented, some with the gable to the street, some with
the side, all with the door approached by an exterior stair, most of them
with the windows apparently unglazed, and closed at will by a shutter. We
might quote one MS. after another, and page after page. We will content
ourselves with noting, for exterior views, the Royal MS. 18 E. V. (dated
1473 A.D.), at 3 E. V., f. 117 v., a town with bridge and barbican, and
the same still better represented at f. 179; and we refer also to Hans
Burgmaier's "Der Weise Könige," which abounds in picturesque bits of towns
in the backgrounds of the pictures. For exteriors the view of Venice in
the "Roman d'Alexandre" is full of interest, especially as we recognise
that it gives some of the remaining features--the Doge's Palace, the
Cathedral, the columns in the Piazzeta--and it is therefore not merely a
fancy picture, as many of the town-views in the MS. are, which are
supposed to represent Jerusalem,[418] Constantinople, and other cities
mentioned in the text. This Venice view shows us that at that time the
city was lighted by lanterns hung at the end of poles extended over the
doors of the houses. It gives us a representation of a butcher's shop and
other interesting features.

[Illustration: _A Mediæval Street and Town Hall._]

The illustration on the preceding page is also a very interesting
street-view of the fifteenth century, from a plate in Le Croix and Seré's
"Moyen Age," vol. Corporations et Metiers, Plate 8. Take first the
right-hand side of the engraving, remove the forest of picturesque towers
and turrets with their spirelets and vanes which appear over the roofs of
the houses (in which the artist has probably indulged his imagination as
to the effect of the other buildings of the town beyond), and we have left
a sober representation of part of a mediæval street--a row of lofty timber
houses with their gables turned to the street. We see indications of the
usual way of arranging the timber frame-work in patterns; there are also
indications of pargeting (_e.g._ raised plaster ornamentation) and of
painting in some of the panels. On the ground-floor we have a row of shops
protected by a projecting pent-house; the shop-fronts are open unglazed
arches, with a bench across the lower part of the arch for a counter,
while the goods are exposed above. In the first shop the tradesman is seen
behind his counter ready to cry "what d'ye lack" to every likely
purchaser; at the second shop is a customer in conversation with the
shopkeeper; at the third the shopkeeper and his apprentice seem to be busy
displaying their goods. Some of the old houses in Shrewsbury, as those in
Butcher Row, are not unlike these, and especially their shops are exactly
of this character. When we turn to the rest of the engraving we find
apparently some fine building in which, perhaps, again the artist has
drawn a little upon vague recollections of civic magnificence, and his
perspective is not quite satisfactory. Perhaps it is some market-house or
guildhall, or some such building, which is represented; with shops on the
ground-floor, and halls and chambers above. The entrance-door is
ornamented with sculpture, the panels of the building are filled with
figures, which are either painted or executed in plaster, in relief. The
upper part of the building is still unfinished, and we see the scaffolds,
and the cranes conveying mortar and timber, and the masons yet at work. In
the shop on the right of the building, we note the usual open shop-front
with its counter, and the tradesman with a pair of scales; in the interior
of the shop is an assistant who seems to be, with vigorous action,
pounding something in a mortar, and so we conjecture the shop to be that
of an apothecary. The costume of the man crossing the street, in long gown
girded at the waist, may be compared with the merchants given in our last
chapter, and with those in an engraving of a market-place at p. 499. The
figure at a bench in the left-hand corner of the engraving may perhaps be
one of the workmen engaged upon the building; not far off another will be
seen hauling up a bucket of mortar, by means of a pulley, to the upper
part of the building; the first mason seems to wear trousers, probably
overalls to protect his ordinary dress from the dirt of his occupation. Of
later date are the pair of views given opposite from the margin of one of
the pictures in "The Alchemy Book" (Plut. 3,469) a MS. in the British
Museum of early sixteenth-century date. The nearest house in the
left-hand picture shows that the shops were still of the mediæval
character; several of the houses have signs on projecting poles. There are
other examples of shops in the nearest house of the right-hand picture, a
public fountain opposite, and a town-gate at the end of the street. We see
in the two pictures, a waggon, horsemen, and carts, a considerable number
of people standing at the shops, at the doors of their houses, and passing
along the street, which has no foot pavement.

[Illustration: _Mediæval Streets._]

The accompanying cut from Barclay's "Shippe of Fools," gives a view in the
interior of a mediæval town. The lower story of the houses is of stone,
the upper stories of timber, projecting. The lower stories have only
small, apparently unglazed windows, while the living rooms with their
oriels and glazed lattices are in the first floor. The next cut, from a
MS. in the French National Library, gives the interior of the courtyard of
a great house. We notice the portion of one of the towers on the left, the
draw-well, the external stair to the principal rooms on the first floor,
the covered unglazed gallery which formed the mode of communication from
the different apartments of the first floor, and the dormer windows.

[Illustration: _A Town, from Barclay's Shippe of Fools._]

A whole chapter might be written on the inns of mediæval England. We must
content ourselves with giving references to pictures of the exterior of
two country ale-houses--one in the Royal MS. 10 E. IV., at f. 114 v.,
which has a broom projecting over the door by way of sign; and another in
the "Roman d'Alexandre" in the Bodleian--and with reproducing here two
pictures of the interiors of hostelries from Mr. Wright's "Domestic
Manners and Customs of the Middle Ages." They represent the sleeping
accommodation of these ancient inns. In the first, from the "Quatre Fils
d'Aymon," a MS. romance of the latter part of the fourteenth century, in
the French National Library, the beds are arranged at the side of the
apartment in separate berths, like those of a ship's cabin, or like the
box beds of the Highlands of Scotland. It is necessary, perhaps, to
explain that the artist has imagined one side of the room removed, so as
to introduce into his illustration both the mounted traveller outside and
the interior of the inn.

[Illustration: _Courtyard of a House._ (French National Library.)]

In the next woodcut, from Royal MS. 18 D. II., the side of the hostelry
next to the spectator is supposed to be removed, so as to bring under view
both the party of travellers approaching through the corn-fields, and the
same travellers tucked into their truckle beds and fast asleep. The sign
of the inn will be noticed projecting over the door, with a brush hung
from it. Many houses displayed signs in the Middle Ages; the brush was the
general sign of a house of public entertainment. On the bench in the
common dormitory will be seen the staves and scrips of the travellers, who
are pilgrims.

[Illustration: _An Inn._ (French National Library.)]

A fragment of a romance of "Floyre and Blanchefleur," published by the
Early English Text Society, illustrates the mediæval inn. We have a little
modernised the very ancient original. Floris is travelling with a retinue
of servants, in the hope of finding his Blanchefleur:--

  "To a riche city they bothe ycome,
   Whaire they have their inn ynome[419]
   At a palais soothe riche;
   The lord of their inn has non his liche,[420]
   Him fell gold enough to honde,
   Bothe in water and in lande,
   He hadde yled his life ful wide."

_i.e._ he had travelled much, had great experience of life, and had gained
gold both by sea and land. Besides houses entirely devoted to the
entertainment of travellers, it was usual for citizens to take travellers
into their houses, and give them entertainment for profit; it would seem
that Floris and his servants had "taken up their inn" at the house of a
burgess; he is called subsequently, "a burgess that was wel kind and

  "This Child he sette next his side,
   Glad and blithe they weren alle
   So many as were in the halle;
   But Floris not ne drank naught,
   Of Blanchefleur was all his thought."

[Illustration: _An Inn._]

The lady of the inn perceiving his melancholy, speaks to her husband about

  "Sire takest thou no care
   How this child mourning sit
   Mete ne drink he nabit,
   He net[421] mete ne he ne drinketh
   Nis[422] he no marchaunt as me thinketh."

From which we gather that their usual guests were merchants. The host
afterwards tells Floris that Blanchefleur had been at his house a little
time before, and that--

  "Thus therein this other day
   Sat Blanchefleur that faire may,
   In halle, ne in bower, ne at board
   Of her ne herde we never a word
   But of Floris was her mone
   He hadde in herte joie none."

Floris was so rejoiced at the news, that he caused to be brought a cup of
silver and a robe of minever, which he offered to his host for his news.
In the morning--

  "He took his leave and wende his way,
   And for his nighte's gesting
   He gaf his host an hundred schillinge."

One feature of a town which requires special mention is the town-hall. As
soon as a town was incorporated, it needed a large hall in which to
transact business and hold feasts. The wealth and magnificence of the
corporation were shown partly in the size and magnificence of its hall.
Trade-guilds similarly had their guildhalls; when there was one great
guild in a town, its hall was often the town-hall; when there were
several, the guilds vied with one another in the splendour of their halls,
feasts, pageants, &c. The town-halls on the Continent exceed ours in size
and architectural beauty. That at St. Antoine, in France, is an elegant
little structure of the thirteenth century. The Belgian town-halls at
Bruges, &c., are well known from engravings. We are not aware of the
existence of any town-halls in England of a date earlier than the
fifteenth century. That at Leicester is of the middle of the fifteenth
century. The town-hall at Lincoln, over the south gate, is of the latter
half of the century; that at Southampton, over the north gate, about the
same date: it was not unusual for the town-hall to be over one of the
gates. Of the early part of the sixteenth century we have many examples.
They are all of the same type--a large oblong hall, of stone or timber,
supported on pillars, the open colonnade beneath being the market-place.
That at Salisbury is of stone; at Wenlock (which has been lately
restored), of timber. There are others at Hereford, Ross, Leominster,
Ashburton, Guildford, &c. The late Gothic Bourse at Antwerp is an early
example of the cloistered, or covered courts, which, at the end of the
fifteenth century, began to be built for the convenience of the merchants
assembling at a certain hour to transact business. The covered bridge of
the Rialto was used as the Exchange at Venice.

None of our towns have the same relative importance which belonged to them
in the Middle Ages. In the latter part of the period of which we write it
was very usual for the county families to have town-houses in the county
town, or some other good neighbouring town, and there they came to live in
the winter months. When the fashion began we hardly know. Some of the fine
old timber houses remaining in Shrewsbury are said to have been built by
Shropshire families for their town-houses. The gentry did not in those
times go to London for "the season." The great nobility only used to go to
court, which was held three times a year; then parliament sat, the king's
courts of law were open, and the business of the nation was transacted.
They had houses at the capital for their convenience on these occasions,
which were called inns, as Lincoln's Inn, &c. But it is only from a very
recent period, since increased facilities of locomotion made it
practicable, that it has been the fashion for all people in a certain
class of society to spend "the season" in London. As a consequence the
country gentry no longer have houses in the provincial towns; even the
better classes of those whose occupation lies in them live in their
suburbs, and the towns are rapidly changing their character, physically,
socially, and morally, for the worse. London is becoming rapidly the one
great town in England. The great manufacturers have agencies in London; if
people are going to furnish a house or to buy a wedding outfit they come
up to London; the very artisans and rustics in search of a day's holiday
are whirled up to London in an excursion train. While London in
consequence is extending so widely as to threaten to convert all England
into a mere suburb of the metropolis of the British empire.


  Abbesses, costume of, 57

  Abbey, infirmary of, 61

  Abbey-church, internal arrangement of, 75

  Abbot, duties of, 55;
    his habit, 57

  Abbot-bishop, 5

  Abbot's lodgings, 55, 84

  Alien Priories, 34

  Ampulla, the Canterbury, 171-73

  Anchorages, 132

  Anchoresses, bequests to, 129;
    Judith the foundress and patroness of the order of, 120;
    sketch of, 146

  Anchorholds, 130, 134, 138

  Anchorites, bequests to, 125-27;
    rule for, 121;
    their mode of life, 121

  Angel minstrels, 286-88

  Anglo-Saxons, St. Augustine the Apostle of the, 6

  Arbalesters, the Genoese famous as, 441

  Archers, 438;
    corps of enrolled as body guards by Edward III. and French kings, 412;
    importance of in battle, 440;
    mounted corps of, _ib._;
    Norman, equipment of at time of Conquest, 438;
    skill of English, 440

  Archery, practice of by commonality of England protected and encouraged
        by legislation, 445, 446

  Armorial bearings, date of invention of, 331

  Armour, details of a suit of thirteenth century, 333;
    differences in suits of mediæval, 398, 399;
    little worn in the reigns of Elizabeth and James I., 458;
    many modifications of in fifteenth century, 452;
    of King Henry VIII.'s reign, 453;
    of the fourteenth century, 338 _et seq._;
    of the fifteenth century, 394 _et seq._;
    various kinds of early, 329, 330, 335, 336

  Arquebusier, 458

  Artillery, ancient, 446;
    date of first appearance in field disputed, 447;
    first evidence as to the existence of, 440, 447

  Augustinians, order of the, 18

  Austin friars, order of, 44, 94

  Banker, the mediæval, 407

  Bard, anecdotes concerning the, 271-73;
    the father of the minstrels of mediæval Europe, 270

  Basilican Institution, introduction of into Africa by St. Augustine, 4;
    into France by St. Martin of Tours, _ib._;
    into Ireland by St. Patrick, _ib._;
    into Syria by Hilarion, _ib._

  Battering-ram, 385, 450, 451

  Bede houses, 24

  Benedictine monks, habit of, 1-7;
    orders, 17

  Benefices, abuses in connection with, 200

  Bonhommes, the, 21

  Brigittines (female Order of Our Saviour), 21

  Britain, exports of when a Roman province, 463

  British Church, early history of the, 4
    coinage, date of fast, 463
    commerce, the beginnings of, 461

  Camaldoli, order of, 17

  Canons, Secular, cathedral establishments of, 196;
    their costume, 197, 198

  Canterbury pilgrimage, chief sign of the, its origin and meaning, 170
        _et seq._

  Carmelite friars, order of, 43

  Carthusian order, founded by St. Bruno, 15;
    Charterhouse (Chartreux) principal house of in England, 15

  Carthusians, Cistercians, Clugniacs, and the orders of Camaldoli and
        Vallambrosa and Grandmont, history of the successive rise of the,

  Castle, mode of assaulting a, 381;
    various methods of attacking a, 392

  Castles, counter-mines used by defenders of mediæval, 387;
    Greek fire and stinkpots employed in repelling assailants of, 392;
    mines used for effecting breaches in walls of, 385;
    places of hospitality as well as of trials of arms, 358

  Cells, monastic, 89

  Chantry chapels, bequests to, 140
    priests, 136, 204, 206

  Chapels, private, curious internal arrangement of, 211;
    establishments of, 208-10

  Chaplains, domestic, 208, 210, 212

  Christendom, coenobitical orders of, 93

  Church of England, date of present organization of, 195

  Cinque Ports, 480;
    ships of the, frequently at war with those of other ports of the
        kingdom, 483

  Cistercian order, founded by Robert de Thierry, 16;
    introduced into England A.D. 1128, _ib._;
    St. Bernard of Clairvaux the great saint of the, 17

  Clairvaux, external aspect and internal life of, 12;
    founded by St. Bernard, 11

  Clergy, comparison between mediæval seculars and modern, 224, 225;
    extracts from injunctions of John, Archbishop of Canterbury, on robes
        of the, 242, 243, 250, 251;
    form of degradation for heresy, 214, 215;
    friars a popular order of, 223;
    parochial, cause of change in condition of the, 193;
    rivalry between friars and secular, 223;
    secular, 214;
    stories illustrating deference of for squire in olden days, 225, 226;
    wills of the, 248, 249

  Clerical costume of archbishop, 234-236;
    of bishop, 235;
    of cardinal, 234;
    of minor orders, 214, 215;
    of pope, 232, 233

  _Clericus_, meaning of the word, 215

  Clugniac, order of, 14

  Coffin-stones, mediæval, curious symbols on, 193

  Combat, a mediæval, 375, 376

  Commerce, checked by the Conquest, 468;
    discovery of sea-passage to India opens up to a career of adventure,
    earliest extant document bearing on Saxon, 464;
    of England greatly increased during reign of Edward the Confessor, 467;
    receives much attention from Government during fourteenth century, 470;
    recovers and surpasses its ancient prosperity in reign of Henry II.,
    the pioneers of, 485

  Compostella pilgrimage, legend in connection with badge of the, 169;
    offerings made by pilgrims on return from, 190

  Convent, the, officials of:
    abbot, 55;
    almoner, 62;
    artificers and servants, 65;
    cellarer, 60;
    chantor, _ib._;
    chaplains, 65;
    cloister monks, 64;
    hospitaller, 61;
    infirmarer, 62;
    kitchener, 63;
    master of the novices, 62;
    novices, 65;
    porter, 62;
    precentor, 58;
    prior, 58;
    Professed Brethren, 65;
    sacrist, 61;
    seneschal, 63;
    subprior, 60;
    succentor, _ib._

  Council of Hertford, 195;
    differences affecting parochial clergy reconciled at, _ib._

  Council of Lyons, suppression of minor mendicant orders by, 44;
    red hat of cardinal first given by Innocent VI. at, 234

  Counting-board, the, 501

  Cross-bow, not used in war till close of twelfth century, 440;
    various forms of, _ib._

  Croyland, monastery of, 87

  Crusades, objects for which they were organised, 159

  Crutched friars, order of, 44

  Deaconesses, order of, 152

  De Poenetentia friars, order of, 44

  Dominican friar, Chaucer's, 46
    friars, order of, 40

  Dunstan, Archbishop, reduces all Saxon monasteries to rule of St.
        Benedict, 7

  Education, monasteries famous places of, 66

  Edwardian period, armour and arms of the, 347

  Egyptian Desert, hermits of the, 148

  Eremeti Augustini, order of, 94, 96;
    their habit, 96

  Eremetical life, curious illustration of, 2

  Fairs, sole power of granting right to hold exercised by king, 503;
    great, 506

  Feudal system, introduction of into England by William the Conqueror,
    points of difference between Continental and English, 327

  Fontevraud, nuns of, 21

  Franciscan friars, order of, 40;
      the several branches of, 43
    nuns, habit of the, 43

  Free towns, mediæval, 530;
    Hull an example of one of the, _ib._;
    manner of laying out, 531-38

  Friars, orders of:
      Austin, 44;
      Carmelites, 43;
      Crutched, 44;
      de Poenetentia, 44;
      Dominicans, 40;
      Franciscans, 40
    Chaucer's type of a certain class of, 39;
      convents of, _ib._;
      pictures of ancient customs and manners of, 45;
      the principle which inspired them, 36

  Gilbertines, founded by Gilbert of Sempringham, 21

  Godrie of Finchale, 116

  Grandmontines, order of, 17

  Greek Church, costume of monks and nuns in the, 4;
      rule of St. Basil followed by all monasteries of, _ib._
    fire, 449;
    used in the Crusades, _ib._

  Grimlac, rule of, 120, 121

  Guesten-halls, 86, 87

  Guild priests, 205;
    bequests to, 206;
    duties of, _ib._

  Guilds of minstrels, 298;
    laws regulating them, 299, 300

  Hampton Court, shipping of time of Henry VIII. illustrated at, 484

  Harper, the mediæval, 271 _et seq._

  Henry VIII.'s army, 455;
    account of its taking the field, 456;
    description of the king's camp, 458

  Heresy, form of degradation for, 214, 215

  Hermit, a modern, 119;
    form of vow made by mediæval, 98;
    popular idea of a, 95;
    service for habiting and blessing a, 99;
    superstition with regard to a, 100;
    typical pictures of a, 117-19

  Hermitages, localities of, 101;
    descriptions of, 111-17

  Hermit-saints, traditional histories of the early, 95 n.;
    their costume, 98

  Hermits, curious history relating to, 104

  Holy Land, early pilgrims to the, 158;
    pilgrim entitled to wear palm on accomplishment of pilgrimage to, 167;
    special sign worn by pilgrims to, _ib._

  "Holy Reliques," an account of, 185-87

  Horses, equipment of in fifteenth century, 404;
    trappings of at tournaments, 433

  Hospitals of the Middle Ages, 23, 24;
    foreign examples of, 25

  Hospitium, contrast between the Cloister and the, 87;
    resorted to by travellers, 529

  Houses, description of, given by mediæval traders to various churches
        and monasteries, 519

  Impropriation, evil of, 199

  Iona, monastic institution at, 6

  Inventories, clerical, 261, 262;
    of church furniture, 285

  "Isles of Tin," 461

  Jewellery, portable, Saxon goldsmiths famous for, 464

  Jousting, 348, 349, 365, 411, 415

  Judicial combats, anecdotes illustrative of, 419;
    various authorities on the subject of, _ib._

  Kelvedon Parsonage, 261, 263, 265

  Knight, manner of bringing up a, 406;
    Chaucer's portrait of a, 409, 410

  Knight-errant, armour and costume of a royal, 349, 350;
    graphic account of incidents in single combat of a, 373-75;
    squire of a, 352

  Knight-errantry, romances of, 354 _et seq._

  Knighthood, won by deeds of arms in the field and in the lists, 409

  Knight Hospitaller, a, 31

  Knights of Malta, 33
    of St. John of Jerusalem, order of, 29-32
    of the Temple, order of, 26, 29, 159

  Knights, noblemen and eldest sons of landed gentry made, 408;
    ceremony of making essentially a religious one, 409;
    equipment of reached its strangest form in reigns of Richard III. and
        Henry VII. 452

  Knights-errant, 369 _et seq._

  Knights of the Middle Ages, armour, arms, and costume of the, 311 _et
    scarcity of authorities for costume and manners of the, 329;
    quaint and poetic phrases in romances of the, 367, 368

  Laura, the, 3;
    original arrangement of the hermits in their, 107

  Lindisfarne, monastic institution at, 6

  Long-bow, the national arm of the English, 441;
    attains climax of its reputation during fourteenth century, 441

  London, burgesses of at battle of Hastings, 467;
    date of its becoming chief emporium of Britain, 463;
    importance of its citizens previous to Conquest, 467;
    interesting account of mediæval, 469;
    "mysteries," or trades of, 508;
    regulations as to dress of merchants, citizens, and burgesses of the
        city of, 525

  Lord-monks, 223

  Marseilles, as a Greek colony, the chief emporium of the world, 462

  Mediæval dance, a, 281, 282
    England, inns of and their signs, 540-44;
      picturesque aspect of, 489-92;
      population of, 503;
      town-halls of, 545;
      town houses of county families of, _ib._
    life and characters, sketches of, from an artist's point of view, 1
    shops, descriptions of, 509, 510
    towns, 529;
      best specimens of to be found in Normandy and Germany, 535;
      Conway a perfect example of one of the, 534;
      gradual growth of, 529;
      houses of, 534, 535;
      inhabitants of, 533;
      mode of lodging of population of, _ib._;
      numerous on the Continent from eleventh to fourteenth centuries, 530;
      picturesque views of streets and shops of, 537-40;
      some built for specific purposes, 529
    trade, 503 _et seq._

  Merchant, mediæval, an account of his occupation and way of life, 465,
    curious epitaph on a brass relating to a, 525;
    effigy of a at Northleach, 523

  Merchant guilds, 489
    navy, the, 475
    ships, early, 470, 471;
      king at liberty to impress, 481, 482

  Merchants, commerce of England, during thirteenth century, carried on by
        foreign, 470;
    details of dresses worn by mediæval, 521;
    early English, 465;
    law conferring rank on, 465;
    munificence of the mediæval, 495;
    private naval wars carried on between, 482, 483;
    provision in charter of King John as to, 469;
    social position of the mediæval, 487, 488;
    various classes of distinguished by costume, 487

  Middle Ages, armour of the, 329-36;
    archers of England famous during the, 439;
    combats of the, 411;
    consecrated widows of the, 152;
    costume of tradespeople of the, 519;
    description of the combat between King Arthur and a knight of the,
        365, 366;
    drill and tactics of the soldiers of the, 377-79;
    engines of war of the, 382, 383;
    habitations of secular clergy in the, 252-54;
    harper the most dignified of the minstrel craft throughout the, 271;
    hermits and recluses of the, 93 _et seq._;
    hospitals of the, 23-25;
    hospitium of a monastery in the, 87;
    houses of the, 519, 520;
    itinerant traders of the, 513, 517;
    manner of bringing up a youth of good family in the, 406;
    merchant navy of the, 475;
    merchant princes of the, 493, 494;
    merchants of the, 461 _et seq._;
    minstrels part of regular establishment of nobles and gentry of the,
    monks of the, 1 _et seq._;
    primitive mode of life of rural English population of the, 513;
    ships of the, 470-71;
    sketch of life led by a country parson in the, 262, 263;
    sumptuary laws regulating dress of merchants of the, 525;
    system of Pluralities in the, 200

  Military engines, 382 _et seq._
    exercises and encounters, 410 _et seq._
      Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, 29;
      Knights of the Temple, 26;
      Our Lady of Mercy, 32;
      Teutonic Knights, _ib._;
      Trinitarians, 32-34

  Minstrels, mediæval, assist in musical part of divine service, 285;
    costume of, 304-309;
    curious anecdotes concerning, 294, 295;
    duties of, 275 _et seq._;
    female, 302, 303;
    incorporated in a guild, 297;
    marriage processions attended by, 282, 283;
    often men of position and worth, 294, 295;
    part of regular establishment of nobles and gentry, 275-77;
    patronised by the clergy, 288;
    singular ordinance relating to, 296;
    tournaments enlivened by the strains of, 291, 292;
    welcome guests at the religious houses, 289, 290

  "Minstrels unattached," 293, 294

  Miracle-plays, parish clerks took an important part in, 220;
    survival of in Spain, 221

  Minstrelsy, in high repute among the Normans, 274;
    Grostête of Lincoln a great patron of, 288;
    Israelitish compared with music of mediæval England, 267

  Mitre, earliest form of the, 236;
    transition shape of the from twelfth century, _ib._

  Monachism, origin of, 1-5

  Monasteries, Benedictine, 9;
    British, 5;
    Saxon, 7;
    suppression of, 52

  Monastery, arrangement of a Carthusian, 71;
    description of a, 72 _et seq._;
    graphic sketch of the arrival of guests at a, 87

  Monastic orders, traditionary histories of the founders and saints of,
        1 _et seq._;
    their suppression in England, 52

  Monk, cell of a Carthusian, 123;
    pilgrim, 188

  Monks, abodes of, 70;
    lord, 223

  Monumental brasses, 19, 57, 276, 494, 495, 497, 521, 527;
    _minutiæ_ of costume of middle ages supplied from, 521;
    peculiar features in, 526

  Movable tower, a, 387

  Music, sketch of the earliest history of, 267-70

  Musical instruments, date of invention of, 267;
    occasions when used, _ib._;
    names of, _ib._ _et seq._;
    used in the colleges of the prophets, 269;
    Saxon, 273;
    learned essays on mediæval, 274;
    used in celebration of divine worship, 285;
    forms of, 309, 310

  Order for the Redemption of Captives, 33, 34;
    their habit, 34;
    their rules, _ib._

  Ostiary, costume of an, 215 n.

  Our Lady of Mercy, order of, 32

  Our Lady of Walsingham, shrine of, 180, 181;
    a relic from, _ib._

  Pachomius, written code of laws by, 4

  Palmers, 189, 190;
    graves of three holy, 193

  Parish clerk, frequently the recipient of a legacy, 217;
      his duties, 218, 220;
      office of an ancient, _ib._;
      worth of his office, 220
    priests, early handbooks for, 227;
      instructions for, 162 n.;
      points of difference between monks and friars and the, 222

  Parochial clergy, 195, 196;
    domestic economy of the early, 263-65;
    organization of the established by Archbishop of Canterbury, 195

  Parsonage houses, early, 254 _et seq._;
    description of, 259;
    furniture of, 261, 262

  Pastoral staff, earliest examples of the, 237

  Pedlars, their mode of dealing in mediæval times, 513, 515, 517

  Pilgrim, an equestrian, 168;
    the female, 188;
    the penitential, 178

  Pilgrimage, chief sign of the Canterbury, 170;
    chief signs of the Roman, 168;
    Holy Land first object of, 175;
    mendicant, 176;
    palmers, on return from, received with ecclesiastical processions, 189;
    practice to return thanks on returning from, 189;
    relics of, 191, 192;
    saying of Jerome as to, 157;
    special roads to the great shrines of, 178;
    sign of the Compostella, 169;
    usual places for, 159

  Pilgrimages, a pleasant religious holiday, 176;
    gathering cry of, 178;
    popular English, 161, 162

  Pilgrims, 159, 160;
    costume of, 164, 177;
    description of staff and scrip of, 164-66;
    graphic sketch of a company of passing through a town, 179;
    insignia of, 164, 192, 193;
    office of, 162-64;
    special signs of, 167;
    singers and musicians employed by, 179;
    vow made by, 164

  Pioneers of commerce, the, 485

  Piracy, prevalence of in mediæval times, 483, 484

  Plate armour, first introduction of, 336

  "Pleasure fairs," 507

  Priest-hermits, costume of, 97

  Priesthood, curious history of way in which many poor men's sons
        attained to the, 201

  Prior, functions of, 59

  Prioress, Chaucer's description of a, 58

  Recluse, service for enclosing a, 148, 150

  Recluses, bequests to, 128, 129;
    canons concerning, 121;
    cells of female, 142;
    curious details of the life of, 130;
    dress of female, 97;
    giving of alms to, 123;
    hermitages for female, 130, 131;
    popular idea as to the life of, 121;
    sketch of, 146-48

  Reclusorium, the, 124, 125, 132

  Rectors, Saxon, 198, 199

  Reformed Benedictine orders, 17

  Regular Canons, Premonstratensian branch of, founded by St. Norbert, 21

  Rettenden, reclusorium at, 135, 137

  Richard of Hampole, life of, 107-10

  Rome, pilgrimage to, 168;
    number of pilgrims visiting, 168;
    description of relics at, 182, 183 n.

  Sacred music, 284

  Salby abbey, staff of servants at, 66

  Saxon soldiers, costume of, 312-18, 322-24;
    ornaments of, 324, 325;
    romantic fancies in connection with swords of, 320;
    weapons used by, 316, 318, 319, 321

  Saxons, the, a musical people, 272;
    a pastoral rather than an agricultural race, 466;
    corn not exported by the, _ib._;
    famous throughout Europe for goldsmiths' work and embroidery, _ib._;
    rage among the for foreign pilgrimages, 464;
    traffic in slaves considerable during time of the, 466

  Scottish Archers of the Guard, enrolment of the, 442

  Secular clergy, comparison between costume of and that of mediæval
        merchants, 528;
    costume of the, 232 _et seq._

  Shrines, pictures of, 187

  Siege, interesting points in a mediæval, 442

  Solitaries, mediæval, 94;
    curious incident relating to two, 105

  Spenser's description of a typical hermit and hermitage, 118, 119

  Squires, duties of, 352

  St. Anthony, coenobite system attributed to, 4;
    monks of, _ib._

  St. Augustine, Canons Secular of, 18;
    their costume, _ib._;
    Canons Regular of, 20;
    Chaucer's pen-and-ink sketch of one of the order, 19

  St. Basil, abuse of great church festivals mentioned by, 513;
    introduction of Monachism into Asia Minor by, 4;
    rule of, _ib._

  St. Benedict, his rule, 6, 7;
    Archbishop Dunstan reduces all Saxon monasteries to rule of, 7

  St. Clare, foundress of the female order of Franciscans, 43

  St. Edmund's Bury, abbey of, 65

  St. Francis, character of, 37

  St. Jean-les-Bons-hommes, priory of, 89

  St. John the Hermit, 148

  St. Mary, Winchester, abbey of, 66

  Sumptuary laws, 525;
    civil costume regulated by, 527, 528

  Teutonic Knights, order of, 32

  Tilting-ground, remains of, to be seen at Carisbrook Castle, 359

  Timber fort, 444;
    used by William the Conqueror, 391

  Tournament, 412;
    a miniature, 415;
    an historical example of the, 429, 430;
    description of encounter between French and English knights at a, 432;
    directions for the, 415-17;
    form of challenge for a, 431;
    form of proclamation inviting to a, 412, 413;
    habiliments required by knights at a, _ib._;
    incidents relating to a, 424, 430;
    manner of arranging a, 423;
    mode of arming knights for the, 413;
    pictures illustrating various scenes of the, 432, 433;
    prizes of the, 427;
    the _joute à outrance_, 412;
    the _joute à plaisance_, _ib._;
    weapons used at a, 415

  Tournaments, feasting and merriment usual at, 424;
    the mediæval romances safe authorities on all relating to the subject
        of, 423;
    unusual deeds performed at, 426, 427

  Town-halls, architectural beauty of continental, 544;
    date of earliest English, 545

  Towns, provincial, market-days in mediæval, 511, 572;
    specimens of various in time of Edward III., 508-10

  Traveller, religious houses chiefly the resting-places of the, 103, 490

  Trinitarians, order of, 32-34

  Vallombrosa, order of, 17

  Vestments, mediæval official, description of, 237-241;
    abandoned at time of Reformation, 250

  Wager of Battle, account of a mediæval, 420-22

  Walter of Hamuntesham, beating of by rabble, 64

  War-ships, cannon of both iron and brass employed on board English, A.D.
        1338, 447;
    costume of sailors and soldiers of mediæval, 477;
    description of early, 475 _et seq._;
    list of English, A.D. 1205, and where stationed, 481

  Waverley, Cistercian abbey of, 65

  Westminster Abbey, grants made by Henry VIII. to, 79

  Whale fishing, early, 474

  Widowhood, description of a lady who took the vows of, 155, 156

  Widows, order of, 152;
    dress worn by, 156;
    profession or vow of, 154;
    service for consecration of, 152, 153

  William of Swynderby, 140

  Wills, inventories attached to ancient, 211, 212 n.

  Wool merchants, costume of mediæval, 523, 525




[1] We cannot put down all these supernatural tales as fables or
impostures; similar tales abound in the lives of the religious people of
the Middle Ages, and they are not unknown in modern days: _e.g._, Luther's
conflict with Satan in the Wartzburg, and Colonel Gardiner's vision of the
Saviour. Which of them (if any) are to be considered true supernatural
visions, which may be put down as the natural results of spiritual
excitement on the imagination, which are mere baseless legends, he would
be a very self-confident critic who professed in all cases to decide.

[2] Besides consulting the standard authorities on the archæology of the
subject, the student will do well to read Mr. Kingsley's charming book,
"The Hermits of the Desert."

[3] Strutt's "Dress and Habits of the People of England."

[4] This is the computation of Tanner in his "Notitia Monastica;" but the
editors of the last edition of Dugdale's "Monasticon," adding the smaller
houses or cells, swell the number of Benedictine establishments in England
to a total of two hundred and fifty-seven.

[5] If a child was to be received his hand was wrapped in the hanging of
the altar, "and then," says the rule of St. Benedict, "let them offer
him." The words are "Si quas forte de nobilibus offert filium suum Deo in
monasterio, si ipse puer minore ætate est, parentes ejus faciant
petitionem et manum pueri involvant in pallu altaris, et sic eum offerunt"
(c. 59). The Abbot Herman tells us that in the year 1055 his mother took
him and his brothers to the monastery of which he was afterwards abbot.
"She went to St. Martin's (at Tournay), and delivered over her sons to
God, placing the little one in his cradle upon the altar, amidst the tears
of many bystanders" (Maitland's "Dark Ages," p. 78). The precedents for
such a dedication of an infant to an ascetic life are, of course, the case
of Samuel dedicated by his mother from infancy, and of Samson and John
Baptist, who were directed by God to be consecrated as Nazarites from
birth. A law was made prohibiting the dedication of children at an earlier
age than fourteen. At f. 209 of the MS. Nero D. vii., is a picture of St.
Benedict, to whom a boy in monk's habit is holding a book, and he is
reading or preaching to a group of monks.

[6] Engraved in Boutell's "Monumental Brasses."

[7] Probably this means that he had "clocks"--little bell-shaped
ornaments--sewn to the lower margin of his tippet or hood.

[8] Mrs. Jameson, "Legends of the Monastic Orders," p. 137.

[9] Viollet le Duc's "Dictionary of Architecture," vol. vi. p. 104.

[10] Ibid. vi. 107.

[11] Ibid. vi. 112.

[12] Ibid. vi. 112.

[13] All its houses were called Temples, as all the Carthusian houses were
called Chartereux (corrupted in England into Charterhouse).

[14] Of the four round churches in England, popularly supposed to have
been built by the Templars, the Temple Church in London was built by them;
that of Maplestead, in Essex, by the Hospitallers; that of Northampton by
Simon de St. Liz, first Norman Earl of Northampton, twice a pilgrim to the
Holy Land; and that of Cambridge by some unknown individual.

[15] The order was divided into nations--the English knights, the French
knights, &c.--each nation having a separate house, situated at different
points of the island, for its defence. These houses, large and fine
buildings, still remain, and many unedited records of the order are said
to be still preserved on the island.

[16] An order, called our Lady of Mercy, was founded in Spain in 1258, by
Peter Nolasco, for a similar object, including in its scope not only
Christian captives to the infidel, but also all slaves, captives, and
prisoners for debt.

[17] Afternoons and mornings.

[18] As an indication of their zeal in the pursuit of science it is only
necessary to mention the names of Friar Roger Bacon, the Franciscan, and
Friar Albert-le-Grand (Albertus Magnus), the Dominican. The Arts were
cultivated with equal zeal--some of the finest paintings in the world were
executed for the friars, and their own orders produced artists of the
highest excellence. Fra Giacopo da Turrita, a celebrated artist in mosaic
of the thirteenth century, was a Franciscan, as was Fra Antonio da
Negroponti, the painter; Fra Fillippo Lippi, the painter, was a Carmelite;
Fra Bartolomeo, and Fra Angelico da Fiesole--than whom no man ever
conceived more heavenly visions of spiritual loveliness and purity--were


  "By his (_i.e._ Satan's) queyntise they comen in,
   The curates to helpen,
   But that harmed hem hard
   And help them ful littel."--_Piers Ploughman's Creed._

[20] The extract from Chaucer on p. 46, lines 4, 5, 6, seem to indicate
that an individual friar sometimes "farmed" the alms of a district, paying
the convent a stipulated sum, and taking the surplus for himself.

[21] In France, Jacobins.

[22] Wives of burgesses.

[23] Stuffed.

[24] Musical instrument so called.

[25] Piers Ploughman (creed 3, line 434), describing a burly Dominican
friar, describes his cloak or cope in the same terms, and describes the
under gown, or kirtle, also:--

  "His cope that beclypped him
   Wel clean was it folden,
   Of double worsted y-dyght
   Down to the heel.
   His kirtle of clean white,
   Cleanly y-served,
   It was good enough ground
   Grain for to beren."

[26] A limitour, as has been explained above, was a friar whose functions
were limited to a certain district of country; a lister might exercise his
office wherever he listed.

[27] Thirty masses for the repose of a deceased person.

[28] Viz., in convents of friars, not in monasteries of monks and by the
secular clergy.

[29] He was forbidden to say more.

[30] A convent of friars used to undertake masses for the dead, and each
friar saying one the whole number of masses was speedily completed,
whereas a single priest saying his one mass a day would be very long
completing the number, and meantime the souls were supposed to be in

[31] The usual way of concluding a sermon, in those days as in these, was
with an ascription of praise, "Who with the Father," &c.

[32] Cake.

[33] Choose.

[34] Slip or piece.

[35] Hired man.

[36] Trifles.

[37] Requite.

[38] Staff.

[39] Closely.

[40] Part.

[41] Forbidden.

[42] Would not.

[43] The good man also said he had not seen the friar "this fourteen
nights:"--Did a limitour go round once a fortnight?

[44] The dormitory of the convent.

[45] Infirmarer.

[46] Aged monks and friars lived in the Infirmary, and had certain

[47] Wert thou not.

[48] Implying, whether truly or not, that he had been enrolled in the
fraternity of the house, and was prayed for, with other benefactors, in

[49] Health and strength.

[50] Doctor.

[51] Little.

[52] Preaching; he was probably a preaching friar--_i.e._, a Dominican.

[53] Waxed nearly mad.

[54] Lived.

[55] "On the foundation," as we say now of colleges and endowed schools.


  "Maysters of divinite
   Her matynes to leve,
   And cherliche [richly] as a cheveteyn
   His chaumbre to holden,
   With chymene and chaple,
   And chosen whom him list,
   And served as a sovereyn,
   And as a lord sytten."
            _Piers Ploughman_, l. 1,157.

[57] Just as heads of colleges now have their Master's, or Provost's, or
Principal's Lodge. The constitution of our existing colleges will assist
those who are acquainted with them in understanding many points of
monastic economy.

[58] Ellis's "Early English Romances."

[59] Long and well proportioned.

[60] She was of tall stature.

[61] "And as touching the almesse that they (the monks) delt, and the
hospitality that they kept, every man knoweth that many thousands were
well received of them, and might have been better, if they had not so many
great men's horse to fede, and had not bin overcharged with such idle
gentlemen as were never out of the abaies (abbeys)."--_A complaint made to
Parliament not long after the dissolution, quoted in Coke's Institutes._

[62] A person doing penance.

[63] Hunting.

[64] Without state.

[65] A plan of the Chartreuse of Clermont is given by Viollet le Duc
(Dict. of Architec., vol. i. pp. 308, 309), and the arrangements of a
Carthusian monastery were nearly the same in all parts of Europe. It
consists of a cloister-court surrounded by about twenty square enclosures.
Each enclosure, technically called a "cell," is in fact a little house and
garden, the little house is in a corner of the enclosure, and consists of
three apartments. In the middle of the west side of the cloister-court is
the oratory, whose five-sided apsidal sanctuary projects into the court.
In a small outer court on the west is the prior's lodgings, which is a
"cell" like the others, and a building for the entertainment of guests.
See also a paper on the Carthusian priory of Mount Grace, near Thirsk,
read by Archdeacon Churton before the Yorkshire Architectural Society, in
the year 1850.

[66] A bird's-eye view of Citeaux, given in Viollet le Duc's "Dictionary
of Architecture," vol. i. p. 271, will give a very good notion of a
thirteenth-century monastery. Of the English monasteries Fountains was
perhaps one of the finest, and its existing remains are the most extensive
of any which are left in England. A plan of it will be found in Mr.
Walbran's "Guide to Ripon." See also plan of Furness, _Journal of the
Archæological Association_, vi. 309; of Newstead (an Augustinian house),
ibid. ix. p. 30; and of Durham (Benedictine), ibid. xxii. 201.

[67] A double choir of the fifteenth century is in King René's Book of
Hours (Egerton, 1,070), at folio 54. Another semi-choir of Religious of
late fifteenth and early sixteenth century date, very well drawn, may be
found in Egerton, 2,125, f. 117, v.

[68] Lydgate's Life of St. Edmund, a MS. executed in 1473 A.D., preserved
in the British Museum (Harl. 2,278), gives several very good
representations of the shrine of that saint at St. Edmund's Bury, with the
attendant monks, pilgrims worshipping, &c.


  "Tombes upon tabernacles, tiled aloft,

      *       *       *       *       *

   Made of marble in many manner wise,
   Knights in their conisantes clad for the nonce,
   All it seemed saints y-sacred upon earth,
   And lovely ladies y-wrought lyen by their sides
   In many gay garments that were gold-beaten."
                  _Piers Ploughman's Creed._

[70] Henry VII. agreed with the Abbot and Convent of Westminster that
there should be four tapers burning continually at his tomb--two at the
sides, and two at the ends, each eleven feet long, and twelve pounds in
weight; thirty tapers, &c., in the hearse; and four torches to be held
about it at his weekly obit; and one hundred tapers nine feet long, and
twenty-four torches of twice the weight, to be lighted at his anniversary.


  "For though a man in their mynster a masse wolde heren,
   His sight shal so be set on sundrye werkes,
   The penons and the pornels and poyntes of sheldes
   Withdrawen his devotion and dusken his heart."
                    _Piers Ploughman's Vision._

[72] The chapter-houses attached to the cathedrals of York, Salisbury, and
Wells, are octagonal; those of Hereford and Lincoln, decagonal; Lichfield,
polygonal; Worcester is circular. All these were built by secular canons.

[73] There are only two exceptions hitherto observed: that of the
Benedictine Abbey of Westminster, which is polygonal, and that of Thornton
Abbey, of regular canons, which is octagonal.

[74] And at Norwich it appears to have had an eastern apse. See
ground-plan in Mr. Mackenzie E. C. Walcott's "Church and Conventual
Arrangement," p. 85.

[75] Piers Ploughman describes the chapter-house of a Benedictine

  "There was the chapter-house, wrought as a great church,
   Carved and covered and quaintly entayled [sculptured];
   With seemly selure [ceiling] y-set aloft,
   As a parliament house y-painted about."

[76] In the "Vision of Piers Ploughman" one of the characters complains
that if he commits any fault--

  "They do me fast fridays to bread and water,
   And am challenged in the chapitel-house as I a child were;"

and he is punished in a childish way, which is too plainly spoken to bear

[77] See note on p. 76.

[78] The woodcut on a preceding page (23) is from another initial letter
of the same book.

[79] A room adjoining the hall, to which the fellows retire after dinner
to take their wine and converse.

[80] The ordinary fashion of the time was to sleep without any clothing

[81] In the plan of the ninth-century Benedictine monastery of St. Gall,
published in the _Archæological Journal_ for June, 1848, the dormitory is
on the east, with the calefactory under it; the refectory on the south,
with the clothes-store above; the cellar on the west, with the larders
above. In the plan of Canterbury Cathedral, a Benedictine house, as it
existed in the latter half of the twelfth century, the church was on the
south, the chapter-house and dormitory on the east, the refectory,
parallel with the church, on the north, and the cellar on the west. At the
Benedictine monastery at Durham, the church was on the north, the
chapter-house and locutory on the east, the refectory on the south, and
the dormitory on the west. At the Augustinian Regular Priory of
Bridlington, the church was on the north, the fratry (refectory) on the
south, the chapter-house on the east, the dortor also on the east, up a
stair twenty steps high, and the west side was occupied by the prior's

At the Premonstratensian Abbey of Easby, the church is on the north, the
transept, passage, chapter-house, and small apartments on the east, the
refectory on the south, and on the west two large apartments, with a
passage between them. The Rev. J. F. Turner, Chaplain of Bishop Cozin's
Hall, Durham, describes these as the common house and kitchen, and places
the dormitory in a building west of them, at a very inconvenient distance
from the church.

[82] Maitland's "Dark Ages."

[83] At Winchester School, until a comparatively recent period, the
scholars in the summer time studied in the cloisters.

[84] For much curious information about scriptoria and monastic libraries,
see Maitland's "Dark Ages," quoted above.

[85] The hall of the Royal Palace of Winchester, erected at the same
period, was 111 feet by 55 feet 9 inches.

[86] Its total length would perhaps be about twenty-four paces.

[87] The above woodcut, from the Harleian MS. 1,527, represents, probably,
the cellarer of a Dominican convent receiving a donation of a fish. It
curiously suggests the scene depicted in Sir Edwin Landseer's "Bolton
Abbey in the Olden Time."

[88] See an account of this hall, with pen-and-ink sketches by Mr. Street,
in the volume of the Worcester Architectural Society for 1854.

[89] Quoted by Archdeacon Churton in a paper read before the Yorkshire
Architectural Society in 1853.

[90] Ground-plans of the Dominican Friary at Norwich, the Carmelite Friary
at Hulne and the Franciscan Friary at Kilconnel, may be found in Walcott's
"Church and Conventual Arrangement."

[91] In the National Gallery is a painting by Fra Angelico, in which is a
hermit clad in a dress woven of rushes or flags.

[92] "The Wonderful and Godly History of the Holy Fathers Hermits," is
among Caxton's earliest-printed books. Piers Ploughman ("Vision") speaks

  "Anthony and Egidius and other holy fathers
   Woneden in wilderness amonge wilde bestes
   In spekes and in spelonkes, seldom spoke together.
   Ac nobler Antony ne Egedy ne hermit of that time
   Of lions ne of leopards no livelihood ne took,
   But of fowles that fly, thus find men in books."

And again--

  "In prayers and in penance putten them many,
   All for love of our Lord liveden full strait,
   In hope for to have heavenly blisse
   As ancres and heremites that holden them in their cells
   And coveten not in country to kairen [walk] about
   For no likerous lifelihood, their liking to please."

And yet again--

  "Ac ancres and heremites that eaten not but at nones
   And no more ere morrow, mine almesse shall they have,
   And of my cattle to keep them with, that have cloisters and churches,
   Ac Robert Run-about shall nought have of mine."
                                            _Piers Ploughman's Vision._

[93] Piers Ploughman ("Vision") describes himself at the beginning of the
poem as assuming the habit of a hermit--

  "In a summer season when soft was the sun
   In habit as a hermit unholy of works,
   Went wild in this world, wonders to hear,
   All on a May morning on Malvern Hills," &c.

And at the beginning of the eighth part he says--

  "Thus robed in _russet_ I roamed about
   All a summer season."

[94] For the custom of admitting to the fraternity of a religious house,
see p. 66.

[95] "Officium induendi et benedicendi heremitam."

[96] We are indebted to Mr. M. H. Bloxam for a copy of it.

[97] "_Famulus tuus N._" It is noticable that the masculine gender is used
all through, without any such note as we find in the Service for Inclosing
(which we shall have to notice hereafter), that this service shall serve
for both sexes.

[98] The hermit who interposed between Sir Lionel and Sir Bors, and who
was killed by Sir Lionel for his interference (Malory's "Prince Arthur,"
III, lxxix.), is called a "hermit-priest." Also, in the Episcopal Registry
of Lichfield, we find the bishop, date 10th February, 1409, giving to
Brother Richard Goldeston, late Canon of Wombrugge, now recluse at Prior's
Lee, near Shiffenall, license to hear confessions.


  "Great loobies and long, that loath were to swink [work],
   Clothed them in copes to be known from others,
   And shaped them hermits their ease to have."

[100] Wanderers.

[101] Breakers out of their cells.

[102] Kindred.

[103] In "Piers Ploughman" we read that--

  "Hermits with hoked staves
   Wenden to Walsingham;"

These hooked staves may, however, have been pilgrim staves, not hermit
staves. The pastoral staff on the official seal of Odo, Bishop of Bayeux,
was of the same shape as the staff above represented. A staff of similar
shape occurs on an early grave-stone at Welbeck Priory, engraved in the
Rev. E. L. Cutts's "Manual of Sepulchral Slabs and Crosses," plate xxxv.

[104] Blomfield, in his "History of Norfolk," 1532, says, "It is to be
observed that hermitages were erected, for the most part, near great
bridges (see _Mag. Brit._, On Warwickshire, p. 597, Dugdale, &c., and
Badwell's 'Description of Tottenham') and high roads, as appears from
this, and those at Brandon, Downham, Stow Bardolph, in Norfolk, and Erith,
in the Isle of Ely, &c."

[105] In the settlement of the vicarage of Kelvedon, Essex, when the
rectory was impropriated to the abbot and convent of Westminster, in the
fourteenth century, it was expressly ordered that the convent, besides
providing the vicar a suitable house, should also provide a hall for
receiving guests. See subsequent chapter on the Secular Clergy.

[106] From the "Officium et Legenda de Vita Ricardi Rolle."

[107] When is not stated; he died in 1349.

[108] Afterwards it is described as a cell at a distance from the family,
where he was accustomed to sit solitary and to pass his time in
contemplation. In doing this Sir John Dalton and his wife were, according
to the sentiment of the time, following the example of the Shunammite and
her husband, who made for Elisha a little chamber on the wall, and set for
him there a bed, and a table, and a stool, and a candlestick (2 Kings iv.
10). The Knight of La Tour Landry illustrates this when in one of his
tales (ch. xcv.) he describes the Shunammite's act in the language of
mediæval custom: "This good woman had gret devocion unto this holy man,
and required and praied hym for to come to her burghe and loged in her
hous, and her husbonde and she made a chambre solitaire for this holy man,
where as he might use his devocions and serve God."

[109] Either the little window through which she communicated with the
outer world, or perhaps (as suggested further on) a window between her
cell and a guest-chamber in which she received visitors.

[110] A hermitage, partly of stone, partly of timber, may be seen in the
beautiful MS. Egerton 1,147, f. 218 v.

[111] A very good representation of a cave hermitage may be found in the
late MS. Egerton, 2,125, f. 206 v. Also in the Harl. MS. 1,527, at f. 14
v., is a hermit in a cave; and in Royal 10 E IV. f. 130, here a man is
bringing the hermit food and drink.

[112] Eugene Aram's famous murder was perpetrated within it. See Sir E. L.
Bulwer's description of the scene in his "Eugene Aram."

[113] See view in Stukeley's "Itin. Curios.," pl. 14.

[114] Suggesting the room so often found over a church porch.

[115] In the year 1490, a dispute having arisen between the abbot and
convent of Easby and the Grey Friars of Richmond, on the one part, and the
burgesses of Richmond, on the other part, respecting the disposition of
the goods of Margaret Richmond, late anchoress of the same town, it was at
length settled that the goods should remain with the warden and brethren
of the friars, after that her debts and the repair of the anchorage were
defrayed, "because the said anchoress took her habit of the said friars,"
and that the abbot and convent should have the disposition of the then
anchoress, Alison Comeston, after her decease; and so to continue for
evermore between the said abbot and warden, as it happens that the
anchoress took her habit of religion. And that the burgesses shall have
the nomination and free election of the said anchoress for evermore from
time to time when it happens to be void, as they have had without time of
mind. (Test. Ebor. ii. 115.)

[116] In June 5, 1356, Edward III. granted to brother Regnier, hermit of
the Chapel of St. Mary Magdalen, without Salop, a certain plot of waste
called Shelcrosse, contiguous to the chapel, containing one acre, to hold
the same to him and his successors, hermits there, for their habitation,
and to find a chaplain to pray in the chapel for the king's soul, &c.
(Owen and Blakeway's "History of Shrewsbury," vol. ii. p. 165). "Perhaps,"
say our authors, "this was the eremitical habitation in the wood of
Suttona (Sutton being a village just without Salop), which is recorded
elsewhere to have been given by Richard, the Dapifer of Chester, to the
monks of Salop."

[117] "Vita S. Godrici," published by the Surtees Society.

[118] Simple.

[119] Meddle.

[120] Since the above was written, the writer has had an opportunity of
visiting a hermitage very like those at Warkworth, Wetheral, Bewdley, and
Lenton, still in use and habitation. It is in the parish of Limay, near
Mantes, a pretty little town on the railway between Rouen and Paris.
Nearly at the top of a vine-clad hill, on the north of the valley of the
Seine, in which Mantes is situated, a low face of rock crops out. In this
rock have been excavated a chapel, a sacristy, and a living-room for the
hermit; and the present hermit has had a long refectory added to his
establishment, in which to give his annual dinner to the people who come
here, one day in the year, in considerable numbers, on pilgrimage. The
chapel differs from those which we have described in the text in being
larger and ruder; it is so wide that its rocky roof is supported by two
rows of rude pillars, left standing for that purpose by the excavators.
There is an altar at the east end. At the west end is a representation of
the Entombment; the figure of our Lord, lying as if it had become rigid in
the midst of the writhing of his agony, is not without a rude force of
expression. One of the group of figures standing about the tomb has a late
thirteenth-century head of a saint placed upon the body of a Roman soldier
of the Renaissance period. There is a grave-stone with an incised cross
and inscription beside the tomb; and in the niche on the north side is a
recumbent monumental effigy of stone, with the head and hands in white
glazed pottery. But whether these things were originally placed in the
hermitage, or whether they are waifs and strays from neighbouring
churches, brought here as to an ecclesiastical peep-show, it is hard to
determine; the profusion of other incongruous odds and ends of
ecclesiastical relics and fineries, with which the whole place is
furnished, inclines one to the latter conjecture. There is a bell-turret
built on the rock over the chapel, and a chimney peeps through the
hill-side, over the sacristy fireplace. The platform in front of the
hermitage is walled in, and there is a little garden on the hill above.
The curé of Limay performs service here on certain days in the year. The
hermit will disappoint those who desire to see a modern example of

  "An aged sire, in long black weedes yclad,
   His feet all bare, his beard all hoarie gray."

He is an aged sire, seventy-four years old; but for the rest, he is simply
a little, withered, old French peasant, in a blue blouse and wooden
sabots. He passes his days here in solitude, unless when a rare party of
visitors ring at his little bell, and, after due inspection through his
_grille_, are admitted to peep about his chapel and his grotto, and to
share his fine view of the valley shut in by vine-clad hills, and the
Seine winding through the flat meadows, and the clean, pretty town of
Mantes _le jolie_ in the middle, with its long bridge and its
cathedral-like church. Whether he spends his time

  "Bidding his beades all day for his trespas,"

we did not inquire; but he finds the hours lonely. The good curé of Limay
wishes him to sleep in his hermitage, but, like the hermit-priest of
Warkworth, he prefers sleeping in the village at the foot of the hill.

[121] One of the little hermitages represented in the Campo Santo series
of paintings of the old Egyptian hermit-saints (engraved in Mrs. Jameson's
"Legends of the Monastic Orders") has a little grated window, through
which the hermit within (probably this John) is talking with another

[122] That recluses did, however, sometimes quit their cells on a great
emergency, we learn from the Legenda of Richard of Hampole already quoted,
where we are told that at his death Dame Margaret Kyrkley, the recluse of
Anderby, on hearing of the saint's death, hastened to Hampole to be
present at his funeral.

[123] Wilkins's "Concilia," i. 693.

[124] Several MSS. of this rule are known under different names. Fosbroke
quotes one as the rule of Simon de Gandavo (or Simon of Ghent), in Cott.
MS. Nero A xiv.; another in Bennet College, Cambridge; and another under
the name of Alfred Reevesley. See Fosbroke's "British Monachism," pp.
374-5. The various copies, indeed, seem to differ considerably, but to be
all derived from the work ascribed to Bishop Poore. All these books are
addressed to female recluses, which is a confirmation of the opinion which
we have before expressed, that the majority of the recluses were women.

[125] Thus the player-queen in _Hamlet_, iii. 2:--

  "Nor earth to me give food, nor heaven light!
   Sport and repose lock from me, day, and night!
   To desperation turn my trust and hope!
   An anchor's cheer in prison be my scope!
   Each opposite, that blanks the face of joy,
   Meet what I would have well, and it destroy," &c.

[126] A cell in the north-west angle of Edington Abbey Church, Wilts,
seems to be of this kind.

[127] The wearing a cuirass, or hauberk of chain mail, next the skin
became a noted form of self-torture; those who undertook it were called

[128] The cell of a Carthusian monk, as we have stated, consisted of a
little house of three apartments and a little garden within an inclosure

[129] This very same picture is given also in another MS. of about the
same date, marked Add. 10,294, at folio 14.

[130] As was probably the case at Warkworth, the hermit living in the
hermitage, while the chantry priest lived in the house at the foot of the


  "Eremites that inhabiten
   By the highways,
   And in boroughs among brewers."
            _Piers Ploughman's Vision._

[132] Probably "anchoret" means male, and "recluse" female recluse.

[133] Test. Vetust., ii. 25.

[134] Ibid. ii. 47.

[135] Ibid. ii. 56.

[136] Ibid. ii. 271.

[137] Note p. 87 to "Instructions for Parish Priests," Early English Text

[138] Test. Vetust., ii. 131.

[139] Ibid. 178.

[140] Ibid. ii. 98.

[141] Ibid. 356.

[142] Other bequests to recluses occur in the will of Henry II., to the
recluses (_incluses_) of Jerusalem, England, and Normandy.

[143] Sussex Archæol. Coll., i. p. 174.

[144] Blomfield's "Norfolk," ii. pp. 347-8. See also the bequests to the
Norwich recluses, _infra_.

[145] Stow's Chronicle, p. 559.

[146] In the "Ancren Riewle," p. 129, we read, "Who can with more facility
commit sin than the false recluse?"

[147] Owen and Blakeway's "History of Shrewsbury."

[148] "Rogerus, &c., delecto in Christo filio Roberto de Worthin, cap.
salutem, &c. Precipue devotionis affectum, quem ad serviendum Deo in
reclusorio juxta capellam Sancti Joh. Babtiste in civitate Coventriensi
constructo, et spretis mundi deliciis et ipsius vagis discurribus
contemptis, habere te asseres, propensius intuentes, ac volentes te,
consideratione nobilis domine, domine Isabelle Regine Anglie nobis pro te
supplicante in hujus laudabili proposito confovere, ut in prefato
reclusorio morari possis, et recludi et vitam tuam in eodam ducere in tui
laudibus Redemptoris, licentiam tibi quantum in nobis est concedi per
presentes, quibus sigillum nostrum duximus apponendum. Dat apud Heywood, 5
Kal. Dec. M.D. A.D. MCCCLXII, et consecrationis nostræ tricessimo
sexto."--DUGDALE'S _Warwickshire_, 2nd Edit., p. 193.

[149] Fosbroke's "British Monachism," p. 372.

[150] Engraved in the _Archæological Journal_, iv. p. 320.

[151] Reports of the Lincoln Diocesan Archæological Society for 1853, pp.

[152] Peter, Abbot of Clugny, tells us of a monk and priest of that abbey
who had for a cell an oratory in a very high and remote steeple-tower,
consecrated to the honour of St. Michael the archangel. "Here, devoting
himself to divine meditation night and day, he mounted high above mortal
things, and seemed with the angels to be present at the nearer vision of
his Maker."

[153] In the Lichfield Registers we find that, on February 10, 1409, the
bishop granted to Brother Richard Goldestone, late canon of Wombrugge, now
recluse at Prior's Lee, near Shiffenale, license to hear confessions.
(History of Whalley, p. 55.)

[154] Paper by J. J. Rogers, _Archæological Journal_, xi. 33.

[155] Twysden's "Henry de Knighton," vol. ii. p. 2665.

[156] The translator of this book for the Camden Society's edition of it,
says "therein," but the word in the original Saxon English is "ther
thurgh." It refers to the window looking into the church, through which
the recluse looked down daily upon the celebration of the mass.

[157] "Caput suum decidit ad fenestram ad quam se reclinabit sanctus Dei

[158] In one of the stories of Reginald of Durham we learn that a school,
according to a custom then "common enough," was kept in the church of
Norham on Tweed, the parish priest being the teacher. (Wright's "Domestic
Manners of the Middle Ages," p. 117.)

[159] These two expressions seem to imply that recluses sometimes went out
of their cell, not only into the church, but also into the churchyard. We
have already noticed that the technical word "cell" seems to have included
everything within the enclosure wall of the whole establishment. Is it
possible that in the case of anchorages adjoining churches, the churchyard
wall represented this enclosure, and the "cell" included both church and

[160] A commission given by William of Wykham, Bishop of Winchester, for
enclosing Lucy de Newchurch as an anchoritess in the hermitage of St.
Brendun, at Bristol, is given in Burnett's "History and Antiquities of
Bristol," p. 61.

[161] "In monasterio inclusorio suo vicino;" it seems as if the writer of
the rubric were specially thinking of the inclusoria within monasteries.

[162] The Ordo Romanus. The Pontifical of Egbert. The Pontifical of Bishop

[163] _Guardian_ newspaper, Feb. 7, 1870.

[164] Surrey Society's Transactions, vol. iii. p. 218.

[165] The same collect, with a few variations, was used also in the
consecration of nuns. Virgin chastity was held to bring forth fruit a
hundred fold; widowed chastity, sixty fold; married chastity, thirty fold.

[166] Hair-cloth garment worn next the skin for mortification.

[167] King Henry IV., Pt. I., Act i. Sc. 1.

[168] There have come down to us a series of narratives of pilgrimages to
the Holy Land. One of a Christian of Bordeaux as early as 333 A.D.; that
of S. Paula and her daughter, about 386 A.D., given by St. Jerome; of
Bishop Arculf, 700 A.D.; of Willebald, 725 A.D.; of Sæwulf, 1102 A.D.; of
Sigurd the Crusader, 1107 A.D.; of Sir John de Mandeville,
1322-1356.--_Early Travels in Palestine_ (Bohn's Antiq. Lib.).

[169] At the present day, the Hospital of the Pellegrini at Rome is
capable of entertaining seven thousand guests, women as well as men; to be
entitled to the hospitality of the institution, they must have walked at
least sixty miles, and be provided with a certificate from a bishop or
priest to the effect that they are _bonâ-fide_ pilgrims. (Wild's "Last
Winter in Rome." Longmans: 1865.)

[170] In the latter part of the Saxon period of our history there was a
great rage for foreign pilgrimage; thousands of persons were continually
coming and going between England and the principal shrines of Europe,
especially the threshold of the Apostles at Rome. They were the subject of
a letter from Charlemagne to King Offa:--"Concerning the strangers who,
for the love of God and the salvation of their souls, wish to repair to
the thresholds of the blessed Apostles, let them travel in peace without
any trouble." Again, in the year 1031 A.D., King Canute made a pilgrimage
to Rome (as other Saxon kings had done before him) and met the Emperor
Conrad and other princes, from whom he obtained for all his subjects,
whether merchants or pilgrims, exemptions from the heavy tolls usually
exacted on the journey to Rome.

[171] At the marriage of our Edward I., in 1254, with Leonora, sister of
Alonzo of Castile, a protection to English pilgrims was stipulated for;
but they came in such numbers as to alarm the French, and difficulties
were thrown in the way. In the fifteenth century, Rymer mentions 916
licences to make the pilgrimage to Santiago granted in 1428, and 2,460 in

[172] King Horn, having taken the disguise of a palmer--"Horn took bourden
and scrip"--went to the palace of Athulf and into the hall, and took his
place among the beggars "in beggar's row," and sat on the
ground.--_Thirteenth Century Romance of King Horn_ (Early English Text
Society). That beggars and such persons did usually sit on the ground in
the hall and wait for a share of the food, we learn also from the "Vision
of Piers Ploughman," xii. 198--

  "Right as sum man gave me meat, and set me amid the floor,
   I have meat more than enough, and not so much worship
   As they that sit at side table, or with the sovereigns of the hall,
   But sit as a beggar boardless by myself on the ground."

[173] In the romance of King Horn, the hero meets a palmer and asks his

  "A palmere he there met
   And fair him grette [greeted]:
   Palmer, thou shalt me tell
   All of thine spell."

[174] Wallet.

[175] Pillow covering.

[176] Called or took.

[177] _i.e._ Latten (a kind of bronze) set with (mock) precious stones.

[178] Pretending them to be relics of some saint.

[179] See "Archæological Journal," vol. iii. p. 149.

[180] Mr. Taylor, in his edition of "Blomfield's Norfolk," enumerates no
less than seventy places of pilgrimage in Norfolk alone.

[181] A man might not go without his wife's consent, nor a wife without
her husband's:--

  "To preche them also thou might not wonde [fear, hesitate],
   Both to wyf and eke husbande,
   That nowther of hem no penance take,
   Ny non a vow to chastity make,
   Ny no pylgrimage take to do
   But if bothe assente thereto.

      *       *       *       *       *

   Save the vow to Jherusalem,
   That is lawful to ether of them."
          _Instructions for Parish Priests._ (Early English Text Society.)

[182] Marked 3,395 d. 4to. The footnote on a previous page (p. 158) leads
us to conjecture that in ancient as in modern times the pilgrim may have
received a certificate of his having been blessed as a pilgrim, as now we
give certificates of baptism, marriage, and holy orders.

[183] See woodcut on p. 90.

[184] "History of Music."


  "Conscience then with Patience passed, Pilgrims as it were,
   Then had Patience, as pilgrims have, in his poke vittailes."
                          _Piers Ploughman's Vision_, xiii. 215.

[186] Grose's "Gloucestershire," pl. lvii.

[187] Girdle.

[188] One of the two pilgrims in our first cut, p. 158, carries a palm
branch in his hand; they represent the two disciples at Emmaus, who were
returning from Jerusalem.

[189] The existence of several accounts of the stations of Rome in English
prose and poetry as early as the thirteenth century (published by the
Early English Text Society), indicates the popularity of this pilgrimage.

[190] Innocente III., Epist. 536, lib. i., t. c., p. 305, ed. Baluzio.
(Dr. Rock's "Church of our Fathers.")

[191] "Church of our Fathers," vol. iii. p. 438, note.

[192] It is seen on the scrip of Lydgate's Pilgrim in the woodcut on p.
163. See a paper on the Pilgrim's Shell, by Mr. J. E. Tennant, in the _St.
James's Magazine_, No. 10, for Jan., 1862.

[193] "Anales de Galicia," vol. i. p. 95. Southey's "Pilgrim to

[194] "Anales de Galicia," vol. i. p. 96, quoted by Southey, "Pilgrim to

[195] Dr. Rock's "Church of our Fathers," iii. 424.

[196] "Vita S. Thomæ apud Willebald," folio Stephani, ed. Giles, i. 312.

[197] The lily of the valley was another Canterbury flower. It is still
plentiful in the gardens in the precincts of the cathedral.

[198] The veneration of the times was concentrated upon the blessed head
which suffered the stroke of martyrdom; it was exhibited at the shrine and
kissed by the pilgrims; there was an abbey in Derbyshire dedicated to the
Beauchef (beautiful head), and still called Beauchief Abbey.

[199] The late T. Caldecot, Esq., of Dartford, possessed one of these.

[200] A very beautiful little pilgrim sign of lead found at Winchester is
engraved in the "Journal of the British Archæological Association," No.
32, p. 363.

[201] Dr. Rock's "Church of our Fathers," vol. iii. p. 430.

[202] Fosbroke has fallen into the error of calling this a burden bound to
the pilgrim's back with a list: it is the bourdon, the pilgrim's staff,
round which a list, a long narrow strip of cloth, was wound cross-wise. We
do not elsewhere meet with this list round the staff, and it does not
appear what was its use or meaning. We may call to mind the list wound
cross-wise round a barber's pole, and imagine that this list was attached
to the pilgrim's staff for use, or we may remember that a vexillum, or
banner, is attached to a bishop's staff, and that a long, narrow riband is
often affixed to the cross-headed staff which is placed in our Saviour's
hand in mediæval representations of the Resurrection. The staff in our
cut, p. 163, looks as if it might have such a list wound round it.

[203] Fosbrooke, and Wright, and Dr. Rock, all understand this to be a
bowl. Was it a bottle to carry drink, shaped something like a gourd, such
as we not unfrequently find hung on the hook of a shepherd's staff in
pictures of the annunciation to the shepherds, and such as the pilgrim
from Erasmus's "Praise of Folly," bears on his back?

[204] Sinai.

[205] Galice--Compostella in Galicia.

[206] Cross.

[207] Asked: people ask him first of all from whence he is come.

[208] Armenia.

[209] Holy body, object of pilgrimage.

[210] Tell us.

[211] The Knight of La Tour Landry, in one of his stories, tells us:
"There was a young lady that had her herte moche on the worlde. And there
was a squier that loved her and she hym. And for because that she might
have better leiser to speke with hym, she made her husbande to understande
that she had vowed in diverse pilgrimages; and her husband, as he that
thought none evelle and wolde not displese her, suffered and held hym
content that she should go wherin her lust.... Alle thei that gone on
pilgrimage to a place for foul plesaunce more than devocion of the place
that thei go to, and covereth thaire goinge with service of God, fowlethe
and scornethe God and our Ladie, and the place that thei goo to."--_Book
of La Tour Landry_, chap. xxxiv.

[212] "I was a poor pilgrim," says one ("History of the Troubadours," p.
300), "when I came to your court; and have lived honestly and respectably
in it on the wages you have given me; restore to me my mule, my wallet,
and my staff, and I will return in the same manner as I came."

[213] "Church of our Fathers," vol. iii. p. 442.

[214] Thus Pope Calixtus tells us ("Sermones Bib. Pat.," ed. Bignio, xv.
330) that the pilgrims to Santiago were accustomed before dawn, at the top
of each town, to cry with a loud voice, "Deus Adjuva!" "Sancte Jacobe!"
"God Help!" "Santiago!"

[215] Surely he should have excepted St. Thomas's shrine?

[216] In the _Guardian_ newspaper of Sept. 5, 1860, a visitor to Rome
gives a description of the exhibition of relics there, which forms an
interesting parallel with the account in the text: "Shortly before
Ash-Wednesday a public notice ('Invito Sagro') is issued by authority,
setting forth that inasmuch as certain of the principal relics and 'sacra
immagini' are to be exposed during the ensuing season of Lent, in certain
churches specified, the confraternities of Rome are exhorted by the pope
to resort in procession to those churches.... The ceremony is soon
described. The procession entered slowly at the west door, moved up
towards the altar, and when the foremost were within a few yards of it,
all knelt down for a few minutes on the pavement of the church to worship.
At a signal given by one of the party, they rose, and slowly defiled off
in the direction of the chapel wherein is preserved the column of the
flagellation (?). By the way, no one of the other sex may ever enter that
chapel, except on one day in the year--the very day of which I am
speaking; and on _that_ day men are as rigorously excluded. Well, all
knelt again for a few minutes, then rose, and moved slowly towards the
door, departing as they came, and making way for another procession to
enter. It was altogether a most interesting and agreeable spectacle.
Utterly alien to our English tastes and habits certainly; but the
institution evidently suited the tastes of the people exactly, and I dare
say may be conducive to piety, and recommend itself to their religious
instincts. Coming from their several parishes, and returning, they chant

"It follows naturally to speak a little more particularly about the
adoration of relics, for this is just another of those many definite
religious acts which make up the sum of popular devotion, and supply the
void occasioned by the entire discontinuance of the old breviary offices.
In the 'Diario Romano' (a little book describing what is publicly
transacted, of a religious character, during every day in the year), daily
throughout Lent, and indeed on every occasion of unusual solemnity (of
which, I think, there are eighty-five in all), you read 'Stazione' at such
a church. This (whatever it may imply beside) denotes that relics are
displayed for adoration in that church on the day indicated. The pavement
is accordingly strewed with box, lights burn on the altar, and there is a
constant influx of visitors to that church throughout the day. For
example, at St. Prisca's, a little church on the Aventine, there was a
'Stazione,' 3rd April. In the Romish Missal you will perceive that on the
Feria tertia Majoris hebdomadæ (this year April 3), there is _Statio ad S.
Priscam_. A very interesting church, by the way, it proved, being
evidently built on a site of immense antiquity--traditionally said to be
the house of Prisca. You descend by thirty-one steps into the subterranean
edifice. At this little out-of-the-way church, there were strangers
arriving all the time we were there. Thirty young Dominicans from S.
Sabina, hard by, streamed down into the crypt, knelt for a time, and then
repaired to perform a similar act of worship above, at the altar. The
friend who conducted me to the spot, showed me, in the vineyard
immediately opposite, some extraordinary remains of the wall of Servius
Tullius. On our return we observed fresh parties straggling towards the
church, bent on performing their 'visits.' It should, perhaps, be
mentioned that prayers have been put forth by authority, to be used on
such occasions.

"I must not pass by this subject of relics so slightly, for it evidently
occupies a considerable place in the public devotions of a Roman Catholic.
Thus the 'Invito Sagro,' already adverted to, specifies _which_ relics
will be displayed in each of the six churches enumerated--(_e.g._ the
heads of SS. Peter and Paul, their chains, some wood of the cross,
&c.)--granting seven years of indulgence for every visit, by whomsoever
paid; and promising plenary indulgence to every person who, after
confessing and communicating, shall thrice visit each of the aforesaid
churches, and pray for awhile on behalf of holy church. There are besides,
on nine chief festivals, as many great displays of relics at Rome, the
particulars of which may be seen in the 'Année Liturgique,' pp. 189-206. I
witnessed _one_, somewhat leisurely, at the Church of the Twelve Apostles,
on the afternoon of the 1st of May. There was a congregation of about two