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Title: Mediæval Byways
Author: Salzmann, Louis F.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: '_... sat for its portrait to Matthew Paris._']









Original research amongst the legal and other documents preserved in the
Public Record Office, and similar depositories of ancient archives is a
pursuit which our friends politely assume 'must be very interesting,'
chiefly because they cannot believe that any one would undertake so dull
an occupation if it were not interesting. And it must be admitted that
there are grounds for looking askance at such work. To begin with, the
financial results of historical research are usually negligible or even
negative, and it is therefore clearly an undesirable, if not positively
reprehensible, employment. Then it is perfectly true that the vast
majority of these records are as dry as the dust which accumulates upon
them, and that in many cases such interest as they possess is
adventitious, being due to their association with some particular person
or place whose identity appeals to us. Thus even the most trivial
technical details of a suit by William S. against Francis B. for forging
his signature would become of absorbing interest if S. stood for
Shakespeare and B. for Bacon, but the chances are a hundred to one that S.
will stand for Smith and B. for Brown. At the same time the thoroughly
unpractical searcher, who allows his attention to be distracted and does
not confine himself to the strict object of his search, is constantly
rewarded by the discovery of entries, quaint, amusing, or grimly
significant, throwing a light upon the lives of men and women whose very
names perished out of memory centuries ago. Dim the light may be, but yet
it is an illumination not to be got elsewhere, for the writers of History,
with a big H, are concerned only with the doings of kings and statesmen,
and other people of importance, while these records tell us something of
the life of those who in their day, like most of us, were each the centre
of their own microcosm but made no figure in the eyes of the world. It is,
I think, not too much to claim that only through intimacy with the
nation's records, and I would use the word in the widest sense to include
also the records written on the face of our land in stone and timber and
even in earthen bank and hedgerow, that some conception can be obtained of
the mediæval spirit. That same spirit is so subtle a thing, though one of
its leading characteristics is an extraordinary directness and simplicity,
that it is more easily understood than explained. But even if it were an
easy matter to dissect and analyse the mediæval spirit, ticketing so much
as simplicity, such a percentage as humour, so many parts as fear of God,
and so many as fear of the Devil, and so forth, it should not be done
here. For though this book was written with a purpose, that purpose was
not to instruct and edify, but rather to interest and amuse, which is a
far higher mission, and if the reader on laying it down feels that he has
acquired knowledge it will probably be due in a large measure to the work
of the artist, who has translated into line something more than the
material details of the incidents which the writer has strung together.

So far as the half-dozen essays which follow are concerned their origin
was almost as spontaneous as Topsy's; like her, they grew. It has been my
fortune to spend much time searching ancient documents of every kind, and
indeed there is probably hardly a single class of pre-Reformation records
preserved between Chancery Lane and Fetter Lane into which I have not
delved. Being, moreover, of an unmethodical nature it has been my
practice, even when hard pressed for time, to allow my eye to be caught by
any strange or unusual entry which had nothing to do with the object of my
search;--I may admit in passing that I can rarely look up a word in the
_New English Dictionary_, because there are so many more interesting words
on the other pages. In this way my notebooks became full of queer and
fascinating little bits of ancientry, many of them clad in that quaint
garb of archaic English which lends a piquancy, and occasionally a touch
of unintentional humour, to their presentment. Feeling that it was a pity
that such treasures should continue in concealment I strung some of them
together, amplifying my material with parallel passages from some of the
less known Chronicles and other printed sources. The resulting essays were
published in the _Oxford and Cambridge Review_, and, I believe, gave a
certain amount of pleasure to some of their readers. At any rate I was
urged to republish them in book form, which I had all along intended to
do, and the editor-proprietor of the _Oxford and Cambridge Review_ kindly
gave me not only permission but even encouragement. I decided to have the
book illustrated, and one or two attempts to procure the services of
various artists having providentially failed I was introduced in a
fortunate hour to Mr. George Kruger, whose work it would be superfluous
for me to praise.

As to the particular sources from which my tales are drawn, they range
wide, but it may interest the curious to know that the proceedings of the
Court of Chancery, which at a later date, in _re_ Jarndyce and Jarndyce,
afforded Dickens material for _Bleak House_, proved the most fruitful
class for my purposes. This is due to the fact that in this class of
records, more than in any other of equally early date, the vernacular is
of common occurrence, and it must be admitted that many incidents which
would read but dully in formal Latin or in that atrocious language legal
French acquire merit by being told in the vulgar tongue and eccentric
orthography of the fifteenth or sixteenth century. From a historical point
of view there is one great thing to be said for legal records of this
type:--they are completely free from unprejudice. No one expects a
plaintiff or defendant to be impartial. And there is nothing so hopelessly
misleading, speaking historically, as impartiality. For one thing the
unprejudiced historian is practically bound to be uninteresting; the works
of the most judicially impartial historian of the present time--so far as
English history goes--are unreadable. Moreover, although he is carefully
accurate and painstaking, they give a totally wrong impression so far as
they give any at all. A 'History of the Reformation,' were such to be
written by him, would be infinitely farther from the truth than one by
Froude or Gasquet. To illustrate my meaning from contemporary events: some
future historian will undoubtedly write fairly and impartially about
Tariff Reform, Women's Suffrage, and National Insurance. He will thereby
completely miss the significance of those movements; for the propaganda
and personalities of Mr. Lloyd George, Mrs. Pankhurst, and Mr. Joseph
Chamberlain are not matters for cool and impartial consideration, and it
will only be by the blessed gift of prejudice that the future historian
will be able to enter into the feelings of the present generation and
obtain the true neo-Georgian atmosphere.

The Chronicles which form the chief of my subsidiary sources are
sufficiently full of life and prejudice. Very human were many of those old
writers, from that brilliant Welsh proto-journalist Gerald de Barri down
to those worthy Londoners Gregory and Fabyan. Best of all are the
rhymesters; there is a vigour and a wealth of detail in their work which
endears them to me, and I could view the loss of Lydgate's _Siege of
Troye_ or of the unreadable grandfather of English poetry, Beowulf, with
greater equanimity than the loss of such pieces as the account of the
Siege of Rouen which John Page wrote

  'Alle in raffe and not in ryme
   By cause of space he hadde no tyme.'

Few poems can equal this piece in its spirited portrayal of military
operations in the fifteenth century, the two sides to the picture, the
pageantry of the army and the sufferings of the non-combatants, being
contrasted with remarkable dramatic power in the passage which tells how
two pavilions were pitched between the English camp and the walls of the
city for the delegates appointed by the rival nations to discuss terms of

  'That was a syght of solempnyte,
   To beholde eyther other parte,
   To se hir pavylyons in hir araye
   The pepylle that on the wallys laye,
   And oure pepylle that was with owte,
   Howe thycke they stode and walkyd abowte.
   Also hyt was solas to sene
   The herrowdys of armys that went by twyne;
   Kyngys, herrowdys and pursefauntys
   In cotys of armys suauntys,
   The Englysche beeste, the Fraynysche floure,
   Of Portynggale castelle and toure;
   Othyr in cotys of dyversyte,
   As lordys berys in hys degre.
   Gayly with golde they were begon,
   Ryght as the son for sothe hyt schone.
   Thys syght was bothe joye and chere;
   Of sorowe and payne the othyr were.
   Of pore pepylle there were put owte
   And nought as moche as a clowte
   But the clothes on there backe
   To kepe them from rayne I wotte.
   The weder was unto them a payne,
   For alle that tyme stode most by rayne.
   There men myght se grete pytte,
   A chylde of ij yere or iij
   Go aboute to begge hyt brede.
   Fadyr and modyr bothe were dede.
   Undyr sum the watyr stode;
   Yet lay they cryyng aftyr foode.
   And sum storvyn unto the dethe,
   And sum stoppyde of ther brethe,
   Sum crokyd in the kneys,
   And sum alle so lene as any treys,
   And wemmen holden in thir armys
   Dede chyldryn in hyr barmys.

      *       *       *       *       *

   Thes were the syghtys of dyfferauns,
   That one of joye and that other of penaunce,
   As helle and hevyn ben partyd a to,
   That one of welle and that othyr of wo.'

The whole poem shows a Pre-Raphaelite love of detail combined with a
remarkable appreciation of dramatic values, and the same is true of many
of the other rhyming chronicles, political poems, and topical ballads. As
an example of the value of these poems for interpreting the mediæval
spirit I might instance the light thrown on 'the days of chivalry' by the
'Maréchal' poem. In this glorification of the great Earl of Pembroke the
business-like record of the monetary profits resulting from his prowess at
tournaments takes the gilt off the gingerbread 'Knight errant' as
completely as the details of the wholesale slaughter and subsequent sale
of the bag after a fashionable _battue_ strip the gilt from the modern
'sportsman.' In view of the eminently quotable character of these rhymes
it is really rather remarkable that I should have made so little use of
them in any of my essays, covering, as these do, so wide a range of
subject. It is also a great pity that they are so much neglected by those
whose business it is to teach history. The intelligent use of such
materials as these would make history live, but unfortunately there is a
widespread idea that dates are the be-all and end-all of history, which
delusion is fostered by the importance attached to dates in the ordinary
accursed examination. Whereas in reality dates are utterly unimportant and
of no value in themselves, but useful solely as _memoriæ technicæ_ for
grasping the sequence of events; there being, for instance, no
significance whatever--except possibly for astrologers--in the isolated
facts that the Black Death occurred in 1349, and that the Peasants' Rising
happened in 1381, but very great significance in the fact that the one
event was a generation after the other. However, a discussion of the right
and wrong methods of teaching history is rather too big a subject to be
dragged in at the end of these rambling remarks, which were intended to be
an introduction to the essays which follow, so, if any readers have
followed the unusual course of starting with the introduction, I will take
my leave of them at this point and wish them a pleasant journey through
these Mediæval Byways.



    I. WISE MEN--AND OTHERS                      1

   II. HIGHWAYS                                 39

  III. CORONATIONS                              66

   IV. DEATH AND DOCTORS                        89

    V. THOSE IN AUTHORITY                      125

   VI. IVORY AND APES AND PEACOCKS             159



  '... sat for its portrait to Matthew Paris'               _Frontispiece_

  'A young novice of the priory'                                        10

  Robert Berewold in the pillory                                        15

  ... sware 'gret othes' and took himself by the hair                   21

  '... caused to sytte down and in large wyse to gape'                  24

  '... thrust a leaden bodkin into the head of that image'              29

  'Diabolus ligatus'                                                    38

  'A wonderful sight'                                                   44

  'An impromptu entertainment by three minstrels'                       48

  Pilgrims                                                              53

  'St. Piran'                                                           59

  '... crossed to England'                                              64

  'Henry's badge'                                                       69

  A 'herauld'                                                           70

  'The young Edward III.'                                               76

  Crowns ancient and modern                                             78

  'Dymoke of Scrivelsby'                                                82

  'The tiger and the mirror'                                            87

  '... got his arms round a branch'                                     94

  'The broken bough fell on the head of a man standing down below'      95

  '... cast her into a cauldron'                                       102

  '... called secretly at the chamber dore'                            110

  '... gyrd abowte his bodye in iij places with towells and gyrdylls'  113

  '... led through the middle of the city'                             123

  '... failed to identify the geese'                                   132

  '... ducking him in a horse-pond'                                    141

  '... with drawn swords stood in the doorway'                         145

  'He incontinently fled'                                              148

  '... compellyd them for to devour the same writte'                   154

  '... thrust him out of the church'                                   156

  'latten "Agnus Dei"'                                                 162

  '... playing innumerable pranks'                                     166

  'When a lion looks at you it becomes a leopard'                      170

  'The unfortunate "fowle" was "hurten so sore"'                       173

  '... constructed a pantomime dragon on the pattern of the real
  article'                                                             179

  'Hakeney'                                                            184

  '... showed him his injuries'                                        188

  '... fully armed with swords and bucklers'                           191





The cyclic tendency so obvious in Nature is not least notable in the
domain of knowledge. The discovery of one era is lost in the next, only to
reappear at a later day, welcomed as a triumph of modern ingenuity or
science. In maps of three centuries ago the Nile is shown rising from
great lakes, but in the atlases that our fathers used the lakes have
vanished and a range of imaginary mountains lies like a little woolly
caterpillar in the heart of Africa as the source of the Nile, only to be
replaced once more in our own days by the great lakes. Dragons, after
being commonplaces of ancient time, fell into undeserved contempt, their
very existence denied by a sceptical generation, and have only been
rescued and rehabilitated in recent years by men of science, who, ashamed
to admit that they have found the fabulous monsters of faery, have
disguised them in polysyllabic nomenclature of 'saurus.' The 'travellers'
tales' of old Herodotus, scoffed at by the superior minds of the
unimaginative Victorian era, are daily gaining acceptance; King
Chedorlaomer and other worthies, who, after centuries of blameless
biblical existence, were conclusively demolished by the High German
Critics, have reappeared on contemporary tablets of imperishable clay
unkindly disinterred by archæological explorers; and, in more mundane
matters, the very latest developments of sanitary science prove to have
been anticipated by a trifle of sixty centuries in the palaces of Crete.

So with Alchemy. The transmutation of the base into the noble, above all
of the baser metals into gold, was accepted as feasible from the earliest
historic times until the seventeenth century. Then the spread of printing
enabled so many votaries of the science to publish their ideas and
theories that all belief in Alchemy was swept away by the flood of
mystical nonsense, but now science is back on the threshold of the
knowledge of transmutation. The old alchemists seem to have based their
theories on the belief that all metals, and indeed all matter, contained
one common element, of which the purest and most perfect form on this
earth was gold. This theory was knocked on the head when scientists
discovered the Atomic Theory. Proof positive was adduced that certain
substances, such as gold and silver, were elements, and that elements
consisted simply and solely of agglomerations of indivisible atoms, each
of which possessed the characteristics of its particular element. In other
words, Gold was Gold and Silver was Silver, and there was an end to it.
But now the indivisible atoms are beginning to fly in pieces before the
skilful and remorseless attack of modern scientists, and it will be no
surprising thing if we live to see the 'elements' of our schooldays
reduced to combinations of two or three Primary Elements, even if the
Primordial Element, the great First Cause, is not weighed, measured, and
photographed. If, then, gold and silver can be split into the same
constituents it might well be possible to recombine those constituents in
such manner that the silver should become gold and the gold silver. To the
scientific mind the two transmutations would be of equal value, but to the
philosopher aiming ever at perfection, and to the sordid speculator,
aiming ever at profit, the production of gold from the baser metal has
always been the goal.

We naturally hear little of mediæval alchemists in the legal records.
Their proceedings were inoffensive and little calculated to bring them
within the jurisdiction of any court, except possibly that of bankruptcy.
One of the scarce exceptions of this rule of silence occurred in 1463,
when Edward IV. granted to Sir Henry Grey of Codnor in Derbyshire,
authority to labour by the cunning of philosophy for the transmutation of
metals, with all things requisite to the same, at his own cost, provided
he answer to the King if any profit grow therefrom. The terms of the grant
can scarcely be called liberal. Two years later the King decided that Sir
Henry had had sufficient time for his experiments and called upon him to
render an account of his gains. The philosopher, who had probably very
little to account for, did not appear and his case was postponed from term
to term for five years. At last a date was fixed for him to appear in
court in the middle of October 1470, 'but before that date the Lord King,
certain necessary and urgent causes moving him, made a journey from his
realm of England to foreign parts, leaving no regent or guardian in the
same realm, wherefore the Barons of the Exchequer did not come to hear
pleas.' Reading the courtly sentence it is hard to realise that on the
3rd of October King Edward had, in the words of Speed, 'fled from his host
besides Nottingham, passing the Washes towards Lynne, with greater
difficulties than was befitting a Prince to adventure, and thus without
any order taken for his Realme, in two Hulkes of Holland and one English
ship, destitute of all necessary provisions, set sail towards Burgundy,
and in the way was encountered by the Easterlings, England's great
enemies, having much adoe to clear himself of their surprize.' The politer
version of the legal roll has been written over an entry which, although
completely erased, we may be sure set out how Henry VI. had recovered the
realm from Edward, 'king in fact but not in right.' The alchemy of the
pen, by which the roseate Lancastrian version faded to the colourless
statement of the Yorkists, was more successful, we may well believe, than
was ever the alchemy of Sir Henry Grey.

But in spite of the ill-success of Sir Henry Grey the King in 1476
licensed David Beaupee and John Merchaunt to practise for four years 'the
natural science of the generation of gold and silver from mercury.'
Alchemy, indeed, was clearly flourishing in the fifteenth century. In 1468
Richard Carter received authority to practise the art, while under Henry
VI. several such licences were granted. Thus in 1444 Edward Cobbe was
authorised 'to transmute the imperfect metals from their own kind by the
art of Philosophy and to transubstantiate them into gold or silver'; two
years later Sir Edmund Trafford and Sir Thomas Ashton were empowered to
transmute metals, and in 1446 John Fauceby, John Kirkeby, and John Rayny
received the royal permission to search for the philosopher's stone or the
elixir of life and to transmute metals. Presumably the need for royal
licence in all these cases was based on the royal claim to all mines, and
therefore to all other sources, of precious metals. Covetous eyes had been
cast upon Alchemy as a possible source of revenue at least as early as
1330, when Thomas Cary was ordered to bring before King Edward III. John
le Rous and Master William de Dalby, who were said to be able to make
silver by alchemy, with the instruments and other things needful to their
craft. But of all these scientists and philosophers no more is heard, and,
although I have not searched the accounts of bullion purchased for the
Mint, it may safely be asserted that the revenue profited little by all
their science and philosophy.

Alchemy, like so many other branches of knowledge, found a home in the
monasteries, and there is a story of an abbot in one of the Western
Counties who, at the time of the Dissolution, hid his books and
manuscripts of the hermetic art in a wall, and returning thither to fetch
them found them not, and for grief at his loss lost also his wits. Thomas
Ellis, again, prior of Leighs in Essex, took more loss than gain from
dabbling in the art. Rumours of his skill in manipulating metals caused
him to be suspected of coining, and he had to give an account of himself.
His interest in the theory of Alchemy, which he had derived from reading
books, had been stimulated by 'commynyng with Crawthorne, a goldsmyth in
Lumbardstrete, that sayd ther was a prest callyd Sir George that made
himselfe cunning in suche matters.' This priest in turn introduced the
prior to one Thomas Peter, a clothworker of London, 'that sayd he had the
syens of alkemy as well as eny man in Yngland.' The prior took him at his
own valuation and promised to pay him £20 for lessons in the art, and gave
him 20 nobles in advance. Master Peter then gave his pupil some silver and
quicksilver with instructions how to treat them. These metals Prior Ellis
sealed hermetically in a glass vessel, which he then placed in an earthen
pot full of water, and this he kept hot for some ten weeks or more,
employing a young novice of the priory, Edmund Freke, a boy of twelve, to
keep up a continual fire. Master Peter came from time to time to see how
matters were progressing, and no doubt reported favourably, but after a
while the prior 'perceyved yt was but a falce crafte,' broke the glass
vessel, sold the silver for what it would fetch and refused to pay his
instructor the remaining 20 marks. Peter, however, who was better skilled
in making money out of men than gold out of silver, threatened an action
for debt, and as it chanced that an offer of 20 marks was made at this
time to the prior for the lease of a rectory he handed the money over to
Master Peter. 'And thus I never medelyd with hym syne, nor with the crafte
nor never wyll, God wyllyng.'

[Illustration: '_A young novice of the priory._']


Before the days of Sherlock Holmes and the scientific pursuit of clues the
ways of tracing lost or stolen property were devious and varied. In recent
times the aid of St. Anthony of Padua has often been invoked. Why that
good Saint should have taken up this branch of detective work I know not;
possibly he was confused with his namesake the hermit, whose pig might
well have been trained to search for lost articles as less holy pigs to
hunt for truffles, or possibly, as was said of the man who married five
wives, 'it was his hobby.' However this may be, I have known excellent
results obtained by the promise of a candle or the repetition of a
_paternoster_ in honour of St. Anthony; the prayer is the more popular
offering, being cheaper for the petitioner and more certain for the
saint--the candle is apt to be withheld when the property has been
recovered, and candles have even been known to go astray and blaze before
the altar of the other St. Anthony, who was probably too busy in
pre-Reformation days looking after the cattle of his devotees to trouble
about lost property. The man, therefore, who would have supernatural
assistance in the recovery of his strayed goods had perforce to seek the
aid of sorcerers and their familiar but often incompetent spirits.
Unfortunately for the modern inquirer no unsolicited testimonials bearing
witness to the efficacy of these magicians appear to have survived, and it
is only their failures that brought them into unpleasant and enduring

London was naturally a great centre of these occult detectives, and they
seem to have been well patronised. In 1390 when two silver dishes were
stolen from the Duke of York's house, application was made to one John
Berkyng, a renegade Jew, who performed certain incantations, and as a
result accused one of the Duke's servants, William Shadewater. In the
same way, when Lady Despenser's fur-lined scarlet mantle was stolen, about
the same time, Berkyng had no hesitation in denouncing Robert Trysdene and
John Geyte. His repute was no doubt considerable, but these two cases
proved disastrous; the parties accused had him arrested, and he was found
guilty of deceit and defamation, stood in the pillory for an hour, and was
then banished from the city.

In this case nothing is said as to the means of divination employed, but
in two cases that occurred in London in 1382 particulars are given. When
Simon Gardiner lost his mazer bowl he employed a German, Henry Pot by
name, to trace it. He made thirty-two balls of white clay, and after
appropriate incantations named Nicholas Freman and Cristine, his wife, as
the thieves. Here again the mistake brought the magician to the pillory,
and the same fate befell Robert Berewold. In this case also it was a
mazer that had been stolen; Maud of Eye was its owner, but a friend of
hers, one Alan, a water carrier, who had evidently a high opinion of
Robert's power, called him in. Robert then took a loaf and fixed in the
top of it a round peg of wood and four knives at the four sides of the
same, in the shape of a cross; his further proceedings are vaguely
described as 'art magic,' and resulted first in the accusation of Joan
Wolsey and eventually in the appearance of Robert Berewold in the pillory
with the loaf hanging round his neck.

The connection between mazers and magic is not obvious, but in 1501 when
John Richardson, a parish clerk, lost a mazer worth 26_s._ he at once
sought the assistance of Nicholas Hanwode, 'bringing with him divers young
children for to behold in a looking-glass.' The record is damaged, but is
sufficiently legible to show that the victim was arrested and imprisoned
by the mayor and could only invoke the intervention of the Court of
Chancery against his accusers. In this last case we have clearly an
instance of divination by the glass, crystal, or similar medium--a pool of
ink was used, if I remember right, by the Indians in _The Moonstone_. The
loaf and knives seem vaguely familiar to me as instruments of divination,
though I should be puzzled to give the correct ceremonial, but the
thirty-two clay balls are more difficult to place, unless possibly they
were used for the construction of some kind of geomantic figure.

[Illustration: _Robert Berewold in the pillory._]

So far we have been dealing with genuine, if inaccurate, magicians, but a
case that occurred in London in 1382 shows that there were impostors even
in that learned profession. Mistress Alice Trig having lost her Paris
kerchief suspected Alice Byntham of having stolen it, and apparently not
without good reason. The two women seem to have been fairly intimate, and
Alice Byntham went to a cobbler, William Northamptone, and gave him
information of certain very private matters concerning the other Alice.
William then went round to Mistress Trig and posed as a wise man, which he
may have been, skilled in magic, which he was not, and revealed to her his
knowledge of her private affairs. She, being duly impressed, asked him who
had stolen her kerchief, to which he replied, whoever it was it certainly
was not Alice Byntham, and launching out rashly into prophecy told his
questioner that she would be drowned within a month. The dismal prospect
almost terrified her into an early grave, but in the end she survived to
see William standing in the pillory.

A case that is recorded in Lincolnshire in the sixteenth century is
interesting as showing the more than local reputation enjoyed by some of
these cunning men. The church of Holbeach having been robbed, the
parishioners consulted their fellow-townsman John Lamkyn, a man known to
have 'resonable knowledg in the sciens of gramer,' which he taught to the
children of the neighbourhood, and said to have a knowledge not so
reasonable of such arts as enchantment, witchcraft, and sorcery. He, at
the request of the churchwardens, went off to consult Edmund Nash, a
wheeler, famed as 'an expert man in the knowleg of thynges stolen,' who
lived at 'Cicestre,' which may have been either Chichester or
Cirencester, as it is called in one place 'Chechestre' and in another
'Circetter,' but was in any case a very long way off. Lamkyn took with him
a pair of leather gloves found in the vestry after the robbery, and Nash
made certain deductions therefrom, which caused suspicion to fall upon
John Partridge, who complained that he had lost friends and reputation and
been 'brought into infamy and slander and owte of credenz.' Lamkyn's
version of the story made out Nash to be merely a private detective
following up clues without recourse to magic, and also hinted that
Partridge's reputation was no great loss. There is as little reason to
believe one as the other.

Probably the most popular method of ascertaining the whereabouts of lost
property and the identity of the thief was by the use of astrology. Some
years ago, when I was in one of those bookshops in which at that time I
spent much of my spare time and all of my spare money, I was offered a
manuscript volume, formerly the property of William Lilly, in which that
famous but shifty astrologer had recorded some scores of investigations
made by him for clients and mostly concerned with the recovery of stolen
goods. The figures were neatly drawn up, and the interpretation written
below, but, if my memory serves me, there was nothing to show in how many
cases the investigations led to any practical result. There are, I
believe, two similar volumes in the Bodleian, but what became of this
particular copy I do not know; whether it was due to the unfair incidence
of taxation under the budget of that year or to more permanent causes, my
funds did not permit of its acquisition, and I left it sorrowfully in
company with a much-desired Augsburg Missal and Pine's edition of
Horace--the rare edition of the '_post est_' blunder. I did, however,
secure Fludd's _Macrocosm_, by aid of which I might myself, if time and my
mastery of the movements of the whirling spheres permitted, open a branch
of the heavenly Scotland Yard.

[Illustration: '_... sware "gret othes" and took himself by the hair._']

The early astrologers, thanks to the cautious vagueness of their
statements, seem to have avoided the clutches of the law, into which other
magicians fell. The stars reveal no names, recording only, by an
anticipation of the Bertillon procedure, the measurements and physical
peculiarities of the thieves. If from these particulars the querent jumps
to a false conclusion and accuses the wrong man, so much the worse for
him--the stars and their interpreters are not to blame. No one said hard
words of the London astrologers whom Robert Cooke consulted. Cooke was a
carrier from Kendale who came south in 1528 with £30 in money, much of it
belonging to other men, in a 'bogett,' and put up at John Balenger's house
in St. Ives. During the course of the day he opened his packs, bought and
sold and drank with his customers, allowing a number of people in quite a
casual way to feel the weight of his 'bogett,' but not opening it. It was
late that night before they got to bed at John Balenger's, for 'it was
ten of the clok or they went to soper, for as much as every man pakked up
his wares or they sooped,' and when they went up to their rooms the house
was apparently pretty full, as Cooke shared a bed with John Foster, a
draper, and there were others in the same chamber. Next morning, as they
were putting their packs on their horses, Cooke suddenly noticed that one
of his packs was fastened with a different kind of knot from that which he
used. Thereupon he suddenly exclaimed, 'My pak is wrong knyt, by the
passhion of God, sith yesternight,' and opening it took out the precious
'bogett' and found it full of stones. So he sware 'gret othes' and took
himself by the hair and altogether carried on mightily, and finally 'made
his advow that he would never ete fisshe ne fleissh until he had been at
Saint Rynyons in Scotland if he might here of his goodes.' Then, with his
bed-companion of the previous night, he rode over to Cambridge 'to make
calculacion for the said goodes,' but at that seat of learning 'they coude
find noo clerk or other person that wold take on hand to calcle for the
said money.' However, when Robert Cooke got to London he had no difficulty
in finding astrologers, who expressed the utmost confidence in their
ability to 'calcle,' and told him that 'he shulde by the crafte of
astronomye, if he wold, have hys eye or arme or other joynte of hys body
thatt hadd robbed hym, att hys pleasure.' This ferocious promise, it may
be pointed out, merely meant that the astronomer could give a description
of any particular physical traits necessary to indentify the robber. In
this particular instance the description was that of a fair man with large
eyes, hair neither curly nor straight, and a large nose, of medium height,
good looking, with a bright expression, and having one or more black
teeth. This elaborate account the astronomer, with becoming modesty, had
submitted to the judgment of others more learned and experienced than
himself, and they guaranteed its accuracy. It was found to correspond with
the appearance of John Balenger the younger, son of Cooke's host, except
that the latter 'hath no blak toth in his hed as yt apperith iff ony lust
to serch therfor,' and in order to prove this 'the said John Balenger was
caused to sytte down and in large wyse to gape and open his jowes to be
duely seen ... and after due serch therin made yt appeared that the said
John had alle his teth whyte and in good maner proporconed.' Adding to
this the fact that he was 'callid a good young man and wele ruled, not
slaundered neither with dicyng, carding ne other misrule,' and the rather
suspicious circumstance that the biggest stone found in Cooke's 'bogett'
after the supposed robbery was a piece of ironstone of a kind not found
within forty miles of St. Ives but very plentiful in Kendale, it is not
surprising that the magistrates should have dismissed the case against the
younger John Balenger. After all, a black tooth is like a finger-tip
print--damning evidence if present but powerful for acquittal if absent,
and who is a Justice of the Peace that he should contradict Jupiter?

[Illustration: '_... caused to sytte down and in large wyse to gape._']


Considering how large a part magic and the supernatural played in the life
of the people in the Middle Ages it is curious that there should be so few
references thereto in the English judicial records prior to the
Reformation. The ancient chroniclers and historians enlivened many a dull
page with the most astonishing tales of sin and mystery, vouched for on
the testimony of their own eyes or of unimpeachable witnesses, but the
chains of legal evidence are as powerless to bind these legendary
sorcerers as were the triple chains of iron to bind the famous Witch of
Berkeley. With the exception of general vague accusations of witchcraft
levelled against the Lollards and kindred heretics, references to magic
are casual and rare in the records of our courts.

With the reign of Elizabeth this ceases to be true, and from the middle of
the sixteenth century to the end of the seventeenth the Black Arts
attracted their full share of judicial and magisterial attention. Probably
twenty instances of legal proceedings taken in connection with these
'ungodly practices' could be produced after the Reformation for every one
prior to that date, and while this is in part due to the fact that local
records of the later periods have survived in far greater number than
their predecessors, there is a possibility that _post hoc_ is in the case
also _propter hoc_. It is arguable that the Reformation having abolished,
for all practical purposes, belief in the miracles of God and His saints,
the natural craving of the unscientific man for a supernatural explanation
of the abnormal could only be satisfied by a belief in the miracles of the
Devil and his sinners. Be that as it may, the fact remains that after the
Reformation witches and warlocks became as common as holy nuns and
anchorities had once been--the marvels reported of the one class are about
as unsatisfactory from a scientific point of view as those of the other.
It is, however, with a few chance references of earlier date that I am

Suitably enough it is from the land of 'Cunning Murrell' that my earliest
instance comes. The Sheriff of Essex in 1169 made a note of having
expended 5_s._ 3_d._ on 'a woman accused of sorcery.' The record is brief
and unsatisfactory, telling neither the details of the offence, the method
of trial, nor the result. These two last items we get in another case
which occurred in Norfolk in 1208, when Agnes, wife of Odo the merchant,
appealed a certain Galiena for sorcery, and Galiena successfully cleared
herself by the ordeal of the hot iron. For a century after this any
magical offenders who may have been brought to trial have eluded my
search. Then in 1308 began the proceedings against the Knights Templars,
based very largely on accusations of practising Black Magic. In England,
however, nothing of the kind was even held to have been proved against the
knights, although not only 'what the sailor said' was considered to be
evidence, but also what the clerk thought the priest said the soldier
heard the sailor say.

[Illustration: '_... thrust a leaden bodkin into the head of that

It is rather remarkable that the year 1324, in which the great Irish trial
of the Lady Alice Kyteler took place, was the date of the fullest and in
many ways the most interesting of the early English trials for sorcery. In
that year Robert Marshall of Leicester, under arrest for a variety of
offences, endeavoured to save his own neck by turning King's evidence and
accusing his former master, John Notingham, and a number of Coventry
citizens of conspiring to kill the King, the two Despensers, and the Prior
and two other officials of Coventry by magical arts. Marshall's tale was
to the effect that the accused citizens came to John Notingham, as a man
skilled in 'nigromancy,' and bargained with him for the death of the
persons named, paying a certain sum down and giving him seven pounds of
wax. With the wax Notingham and Marshall made six images of the proposed
victims and a seventh of Richard de Sowe, the _corpus vile_ selected for
experimental purposes. The work was done in secret in an old deserted
house not far from Coventry, and when the images were ready the magician
bade his assistant thrust a leaden bodkin into the head of that image
which represented Richard de Sowe, and next day sent him to the house of
the said Richard, whom he found raving mad. Master John then removed the
bodkin from the head of the image and thrust it into the heart, and within
three days Richard died. And at that point Robert Marshall's story comes
to a lame and impotent conclusion. Not a word of explanation does he give
as to why, when the preliminary experiment had proved so successful, they
did not go on with their fell design. The unfortunate 'nigromancer' died
in prison before the case had been thrashed out and reported upon by a
jury, and the case against the citizens was allowed to fall through. Even
if the trial had followed its normal course it is not probable that we
should have had more than a plain and enlightening verdict of 'not
guilty,' for Robert Marshall was a liar of inventive genius. He accused
two men of assisting him in the robbery and murder of a merchant from
Chester 'in Erlestrete, Coventry, near the white cellar,' with a profusion
of 'corroborative detail, intended to give artistic verisimilitude to an
otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative,' which proved, as he afterwards
admitted, utterly false. One or two other wild accusations also came to
nothing, and Robert was duly hanged. But while we cannot say that the
procedure he described was actually used in this case, we know it was
quite in accord with the orthodox methods of magicians. That the story was
believed at the time we may conclude, as the younger Despenser wrote this
year to the Pope complaining that he was threatened by magical and secret
dealings. The Pope, with much good sense, recommended him to turn to God
with his whole heart and to make a good confession and such satisfaction
as should be enjoined upon him; adding that no other remedies were

Passing again over a century we find in 1426 William, Lord Botreaux,
complaining that Sir Ralph Botreaux, William Langkelly, and others,
'unmindful of the salvation of their souls and not having God before their
eyes,' had procured John Alwode of Trottokeshull, Hugh Bower of
Kilmington, chaplain, and John Newport, who were said to practise
soothsaying, necromancy, and art magic, 'to weaken, subtly consume, and
destroy by the said arts,' the complainant's body. Commissioners were
appointed to inquire into the matter, but any further proceedings that
there may have been have vanished, or at best are lying hid in some
unsuspected corner of the Record Office.

Another instance of the use of magical ceremonies with evil intent is
alluded to fifty years later, when John Knight, chaplain, complained that
he had been arrested and committed to the Marshalsea for going with the
servants of 'the Lord Straunge' to search the house of Alice, wife of John
Huntley, 'which of long tyme hath used and exercised the feetes of
wychecraft and sorcery,' in Southwark. They went into 'an house called the
lasour loke in Suthwerk in Kenstrete' (a hospital founded originally for
lepers, but by this time used more as an almshouse or infirmary) 'and
there found dyvers mamettes for wychecraft and enchauntements with other
stuff beryed and deeply hydd under the erthe.' The circumstances are very
similar to those related in the case of an old woman turned out of the
almshouses at Rye in 1560 for using magical ceremonies, including the
burial of pieces of raw beef, to the intent that as the beef decayed away
so might the bodies of her enemies, though it is possible that in the case
of Alice Huntley the objects had only been buried for secrecy.
Five-and-twenty years later, in 1502, a still clearer case of the use of
'mamettes' or images occurred in Wales. The bishop of St. Davids, having
vainly remonstrated with Thomas Wyriott and Tanglost William for living
'in advoutre,' imprisoned the woman Tanglost and afterwards banished her
from the diocese. She went to Bristol, and hired one Margaret Hackett,
'which was practized in wychecraft,' to destroy the bishop. Tanglost and
Margaret then went back to Wyriott's house, and in a room called, most
unsuitably, Paradise Chamber, made two images of wax, and then, possibly
thinking that a bishop would take more bewitchment than an ordinary
mortal, sent for another woman, 'which they thought cowde and hadde more
cunning and experiens than they,' and she made a third image. The bishop
was not a penny the worse for this 'inordinat delying,' but ordered the
arrest of Tanglost for heresy; Wyriott intervened by getting her
imprisoned through a trumped-up action for debt, in order to keep her out
of the bishop's clutches, and the bishop had to invoke the assistance of
the Court of Chancery.

Three cases of magic occurred in 1432. On May 7 of that year an order was
issued for the arrest of Thomas Northfelde, D.D., a Dominican friar of
Worcester, and the seizure of all his books treating of sorcery or
wickedness, and two days later Brother John Ashwell of the Crutched
Friars, London, John Virley, priest, and Margery Jourdemain, who had been
imprisoned at Windsor for sorcery, were released. In these cases it is
very likely that the sorcery consisted in an uncanny and suspicious
addiction to unusual branches of learning, combined possibly with
experiments in chemistry or heretical tendencies, both alike dangerous in
the eyes of the orthodox, but the third case was clearly a matter of
bewitchment--in the opinion of the victim. The facts are quite simple.
John Duram of York had a field with a pond in it, and having in some way
incurred the enmity of Thomas Mell, a farmer, the latter, 'per divers
artes erroneous et countre la foy catholice cest assavoir sorcery,'
withdrew the water from John's pond, to the great injury of his cattle,
besides certain other unnamed injuries wrought by his 'malveys ymaginacion
et sotell labour.' Mell being under the patronage of men of influence
because of his magical abilities, Duran did not dare to bring an action
against him in the ordinary court, and therefore sought the intervention
of the Court of Chancery, with what success I do not know.

So far my magicians, it must be admitted, have been rather commonplace
people, proceeding on the usual lines of their craft and displaying little
originality, but my final instance is, so far as I know, unique. In an
eighteenth-century manuscript in my possession, formerly in the Phillipps
collection, amongst a mass of extracts from all kinds of records is an
entry said to be taken from the court rolls of the manor of Hatfield in
Yorkshire. According to this, at a court held in 1336 Robert of Rotheram
brought an action against John de Ithen for breach of contract, alleging
that on a certain day, at Thorne, John agreed to sell him for
threepence-halfpenny 'the Devil bound with a certain bond' (_Diabolum
ligatum in quodam ligamine_), and Robert thereupon gave him 'arles-penny,'
or earnest-money (_quoddam obolum earles_), 'by which possession of the
said Devil remained with the said Robert, to receive delivery of the said
Devil within four days,' but when he came to John the latter refused to
hand over the Devil, wherefore Robert claimed 60_s._ damages. John
appeared in court and did not deny the contract, but the steward, holding
that 'such a plea does not lie between Christians,' 'adjourned the parties
to Hell for the hearing of the case,' and amerced both parties.

The first question is, is this a genuine extract from the rolls? The
critic who is inclined to think that he smells a rat may be confuted by
Camden, according to whom no rats have ever been known in the town of
Hatfield. The extremely solid nature of all the other extracts in my
volume is almost a guarantee of good faith so far as the eighteenth
century copyist is concerned, and the probability that he took it from the
original is strengthened by his having in one place misread _unde_ as
_vide_ and subsequently corrected the error. But allowing that it occurred
on the rolls, was it a genuine transaction or was it a facetious invention
of the manor clerk? I incline to believe that it was genuine. A man who
invented such a case to fill up a blank space on the roll would have been
almost certain to have elaborated it further, while, on the other hand,
having noted the adjournment of the case to 'another place,' to use
parliamentary language, he would not have been likely to add that both
parties were fined. Granting that the action was actually brought, we are
left in doubt whether Robert was a simple gull with whom John had been
amusing himself, or whether the defendant really believed that he could
fulfil his contract. Again, what was that contract? Latin, though
admirably clear in many respects, suffers from the absence of the definite
article, and it is difficult to be certain whether it was a question of
'the Devil' or 'a devil'; judging by the price, the latter seems more
probable, as threepence-halfpenny for the Prince of Darkness seems
absurdly little, and I believe that _Diabolus ligatus_ was sometimes
applied to a divining spirit imprisoned by magic arts in a bottle or
crystal. However that may be, it is not probable that a law court has ever
before or since been asked to decide the question of proprietary rights in
the devil or his imps.

[Illustration: '_Diabolus ligatus._']



So much is heard of the modern facilities for travelling that one might
almost think that before the days of Cook (Thomas of the tickets, not the
Polar Mandeville) no Englishman had ever stirred abroad. Yet it is hardly
questionable that in mediæval times the proportion of Englishmen who had
visited foreign lands was far larger than at the present day. Thanks to
military feudalism it is scarcely an exaggeration to say that during the
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries most of our country gentlemen had seen
service in France, taking with them contingents of hired or pressed men
from every village in the land. For the more peaceful classes there were
the attractions of the pilgrimage, the spiritual advantages outweighing
the dangers and hardships of a journey to Rome, and the celebrated
shrine of St. James of Compostella drawing thousands every year to Spain.
Still earlier the Crusades drew the pious and the martial alike yet
farther afield, but of those who journeyed to the East many did not
return. At all time a pretty sharp limit was set to the travels of the
ordinary man by the seaboard of Palestine, and those who penetrated still
deeper into the mysterious East were few. It is therefore interesting to
follow Geoffrey of Langley on his embassy to the Tartar Court in 1292 and
back to England, piecing together the story of his travels from the
prosaic accounts of his paymaster.

Towards the end of the twelfth century the Tartars, a nomadic tribe who
inhabited the district between the Caucasus and the Euphrates and
professed the Christianity of the Nestorians, came into some prominence in
Europe through the fame of their Khan, the celebrated 'Prester John.' He,
however, was killed in 1203 by the terrible Genghiz Khan the Mogul, from
Turkestan, whose successors adopted the name and, after one or two
generations, the religion of the conquered Tartars. Argon, King or Emperor
of the Tartars, accepted Christianity in 1289, and in alliance with the
kings of Armenia and Georgia inflicted a severe defeat upon the forces of
the Soldan. Later in the same year his ambassadors reached Europe, charged
to preach a new crusade for the ejection of the Saracens from Palestine.
Strengthened with commendatory letters from the Pope, they visited the
English Court. King Edward made them welcome, and wrote to Argon
expressing his delight at his proposed attack upon the Sultan of Babylon,
and promising to come in person as soon as the Pope would sanction his
going to the Holy Land. To cement the alliance he promised to send the
king some gerfalcons, for which he had asked. This letter was written in
September 1290, and next year the falcons were duly dispatched by the
hands of Sir Geoffrey of Langley.

The embassy reached Trebizond about the middle of June 1292, and obtained
quarters for themselves and the precious gerfalcons while waiting for a
safe-conduct to the Tartar Court. The king's whereabouts were uncertain,
and Nicholas de Chartres, Geoffrey's squire, and Conrad, nephew of the
ambassador's chief-of-staff, Buskerell, were sent by sea to Samsoun, and
thence first to Kaisarieh and then to Sivas, where they waited for the
king. At last all was ready; a tent had been made from cotton cloth and
scarlet and grey material, bought in Trebizond, a parasol had been
purchased for the ambassador, and a horse for him to ride, and also a
mule, which cost more than three times as much as the horse. For the first
stage of the journey to Tabriz, where they were to see the king, thirty
horses were hired, but at Baiburt, which they reached on July 25, the
number was reduced, and from Baiburt to Zaratkana only fourteen horses
were employed. Beyond the giving of presents to Tartars and others,
including a gift of cloth to 'the lady' of Erz Roum, little is recorded
of the journey to Tabriz--the city of baths and iced drinks, as the
Spanish ambassadors to Timour Bey found it a century later.

The embassy left Tabriz, carrying with them a leopard as a present from
the Tartar king, and on Friday, September 26, reached the busy trading
town of Khoi, where Gonzalez de Clavijo on his way to Samarcand in 1406
saw a giraffe, which he deemed, 'to a man who had never seen such an
animal before, a wonderful sight.' Sunday night they spent at 'Nosseya,'
presumably Nuskar, and Monday at a village 'of the Armenians,' evidently
near the Lake of Van, as fish appear for the first time amongst the
provisions bought, in addition to the usual bread, cheese, and fruit. At
Argish on the Lake of Van boots were bought for three members of the
suite, the horses were shod and stores laid in, including wine, meat,
ducks, eggs, and salt. After stopping one night at 'Jaccaon,' Melasgird
was reached, where they dismissed their mounted escort from Argish and
proceeded under fresh escort through three nameless Saracen villages to
Erz Roum, which they reached on Monday, October 6. A two days' halt was
made here while they laid in stores and had their clothes washed. The wear
and tear of travelling began to be felt; boots had to be bought for the
chaplain, John the clerk, Robert, Gerard, another Robert, and William and
Martin the grooms, and a hat and shoes for Willecok. On the Wednesday
night, when they stayed at another Saracen village, they were entertained
by native minstrels, and the following day they reached Baiburt, where
John the scullion's boots gave out. Here they had to lay in stores, as the
next two halts were to be 'in the fields,' away from habitations.

[Illustration: '_A wonderful sight._']

At last, on Monday, October 13, they found themselves back at Trebizond,
where they rested for a week and invested largely in new shoes, as well as
in such heavy and bulky conveniences as pots and pans, plates, dishes, and
stools, with which they had had to dispense on their journey. The Saracen
porters who had carried the baggage from Tabriz were paid off, a Tartar
who had rendered some small service was rewarded with a carpet, and the
ambassador's suite received their wages and allowances of linen. At the
head of the suite was Andrew Balaban, who received a scarlet robe in
addition to his wages, and Martin the latimer, or interpreter; then there
were Willecok the chamberer, John the clerk, Walter the cook, Martin
Lombard the larderer, and Michael and Jonot 'of the kitchen'; Chyzerin,
Copin, and Tassin the falconers, Jacques and Oliver the grooms, Michael de
Suria, Theodoric, Manfred, Gerardin, Robert, and Robekin, and one or two
others of whom we learn nothing but their names. Altogether there must
have been about twenty or thirty persons who sailed from Trebizond and
after a slow voyage reached Constantinople on Sunday, November 9.

At Constantinople, which the accountant by an ingenious error of
derivation calls 'Constantinus Nobilis,' the galley lay for a week,
possibly delayed by adverse winds. There were compensations for the delay;
oysters, hares, mallards, chestnuts, pears, and apples must have been
welcome luxuries after the hardships and monotony of the past weeks, and
it is possibly more than a coincidence that the doctor had to be called in
to attend Richard. Even the leopard fared daintily, three chickens making
a pleasant change from his usual mutton. At last everything was ready,
the clothes had been washed, John the clerk's hose had been mended, some
Persian cloth had been bought for Richard's tabard, and the parasol had
been re-covered, which seems hardly necessary, unless it was to be used as
an umbrella; the weather being cold, eighteen sets of wraps (_muffeles_)
were bought for the suite, while Sir Geoffrey procured fur-lined robes of
vair, gules, and white fox with a hood of 'Alcornyne,' and on Monday,
November 17, the galley set sail for Italy.

Otranto was reached on Saturday, November 29, and here the ambassador and
part of his suite landed, Richard and Robert going on at once to Brindisi
by boat. The galley waited long enough to revictual and to allow of
cleaning the leopard's cage, and then went on with the rest of the suite
and the heavier luggage to Genoa. On Sunday, the Bishop of Otranto having
kindly lent them horses, the ambassador's party started on their journey
overland to Genoa, reaching Lecce in time for dinner and an impromptu
entertainment by three minstrels. The first four days of December were
spent at Brindisi, whence they went on up the east coast by Villanuova and
Mola to Barletta, then turning inland to 'Tres Sanctos,' which may have
been Trinitapoli, but was chiefly noteworthy for a dinner of chicken,
pigeons, and sausages. Next morning, Wednesday, December 10, they lunched
at San Lorenzo on their way to Troja, and so, past 'Crevaco' to 'Bonum
Albergum,' which, if it was not Benevento, was not far from that town.
Two days more brought them, by Monte Sarchio and Acerra, to Naples, where
they remained until Thursday, the 18th. Here they were once more in a land
of plenty and could feast on pheasants, partridges, mallards, hares, and
pigeons, skilfully seasoned with sage and parsley, garlic, and saffron.
Two mules and a dappled grey horse were bought, as well as some glasses
and earthenware pots and mugs, and the party set out for Capua, sending
their silver plate on ahead by the hands of Manfred Oldebrand. At Capua,
on Friday, December 19, Tassin the falconer died, much regretted by his
brother falconer, Hanekin, to whom he owed 11_s._ 4_d._, and offerings
were made for the good of his soul.

[Illustration: '_An impromptu entertainment by three minstrels._']

Five days' march, through Mignano, Ceprano, Anagni, and a place called
'Mulera,' which I cannot identify, brought them to Rome. At Rome they
spent Christmas. A doctor was called in to attend one of the grooms, and
medicine was obtained for a horse, possibly without avail, as two horses
were bought for thirty florins, from 'the merchants of the Ricardi.' On
Sunday, the 28th, the journey was resumed, Isola and Sutri forming the
first day's march, Viterbo and Monte Fiascone the second. Acquapendente
was reached on Tuesday, and here they spent 18_d._ on 'a small box
(_cofinello_) in which to carry eel pies.' Passing San Quirico, Siena was
reached on the 1st of January, their road after that leading through San
Cossiano, Pistoia, and Buggione, to Lucca. From Lucca they struck across
to the coast, through Avenza and Sarzana to Sestri, and so up by Rapallo
and Recco to Genoa, which they reached on Sunday, January 11. At Genoa
they found their companions, who had come round by sea. A house was hired
from Pucino Roncini, the galley was unloaded and paid off, its cost from
Trebizond to Genoa being £200, a sum more formidable in appearance than in
reality, as the Genoese pound was only about 3_s._ 6_d._ of English money.
Tamorace the Tartar was dismissed with the present of a silver cup, and
there remained only the leopard to link them with the East.

At Genoa the series of accounts terminates, but the dispatch of a
messenger to the Marquess of Saluzzo suggests that our travellers were
going through his territory, by the same road that Henry of Bolingbroke,
Earl of Derby and afterwards King of England, followed just a century
later on his return from Venice and the East, taking with him, by a
coincidence, a leopard. In that case they would have gone inland, past
Novi, Asti, and Turin to Chambéry in Savoy, then northwards to Châlons,
and by Beaune, Châtillon, and Nogent-sur-Saône to Paris. Thence they would
probably have made for Wissant, and so across to Dover, reaching England
about the beginning of September, 1293, or rather earlier, after two years
of almost continual travelling. Of the wonderful things that they saw, and
the yet more wonderful things that they heard--tales of monstrous men,
uncanny beasts, and evil spirits--of their adventures, perils of
shipwreck, and perils of robbers, no record has survived; but something
of their slow journeying, the trying desert marches, the vexatious delays
of contrary winds, pleasantly varied by the relaxation of a halt in some
great city, we have managed to piece together.

Such exceptional voyages as those of Geoffrey of Langley to Tabriz or of
Gonzalez de Clavijo to Samarcand are interesting for their rarity; but a
value of another kind attaches to the embassy of Hugh de Vere to the Papal
Court in 1298. It was a placid and uneventful journey, and would seem to
have been not merely without adventures, but without incidents. Beyond the
trifling worries attendant on pack saddles and harness that required
constant repairs, the trifling interest derived from varying changes of
diet, and the complication of accounts caused by the existence of an
entirely fresh monetary standard in each state through which the
travellers passed, there was little to record but the list of stages on
the journey. As, however, the route followed was the main road to Rome,
along which passed a constant stream of pilgrims, prompted by piety or a
wish to see the world--priests seeking benefices for themselves or curses
for their neighbours; penitents desiring absolution; appellants with their
wallets stuffed with deeds, decrees, and legal precedents, and their
appellees carrying the weightier argument of English gold--it is worth
while following the embassy and noting the stopping-places. Most of these
are identical with those used by Henry of Bolingbroke on his return from
Venice almost a century later, and were, therefore, evidently the usual
stages on this road.

[Illustration: _Pilgrims._]

Hugh de Vere and his suite, consisting of two knights, two chaplains, a
clerk, ten esquires, and some thirty grooms and other attendants,
assembled at Paris on Good Friday, April 4, 1298, and next day rode as far
as Rozoy, contenting themselves on the journey, as it was a fast day, with
fish and fruit. The next day being Easter Sunday they did not start until
after dinner, but reached Provins, fifty miles south-east of Paris, in the
evening. From Provins of the Roses the cavalcade passed by Pavillon down
the valley of the Seine to Bar-sur-Seine, where, Lent being over, they
feasted on meat and pies and flauns, a kind of mediæval pancake
particularly popular at Easter-time, according to Haliwell. They soon
entered Burgundy, and turning south through Montbard followed for some
distance the route now taken by the Canal de Bourgogne with its
innumerable locks, and after halting a night at 'Flori'--which occurs in
Bolingbroke's account as 'Floreyn,' but would seem to have dwindled out
of the maps if not out of existence--reached Beaune; and still doing an
average of thirty miles a day came to Lyons, stopping at Tournus and
Bellville on the way, on Monday, April 14. After following the valley of
the Rhone a few miles farther south, they turned off eastwards near Vienne
through St. Georges to Voiron and thence northwards, passing close to the
Grande Chartreuse, across the borders of Savoy to Chambéry. So far the
currency in use had been 'neir Turneis,' or black money of Tours, 14_d._
of 'petit tournois' being equivalent to one 'gros tournois,' the standard
to which all other denominations are reduced in these accounts, a coin
worth approximately 3_d._ sterling; but now and all the way through Savoy
and Piedmont payments are entered in 'Vieneys,' of which seventeen went to
the 'gros tournois.'

Through the mountainous district of Savoy progress was markedly slower,
the sixty miles from Chambéry to Susa taking six days. The road by which
they travelled followed the valley of the Arc, as does the modern railway,
past Montmélian, la Chambre, and St. Michel; but as the Mont Cenis tunnel
had not then been completed the ambassador and his suite had to go farther
east to Lansle Bourg, toiling up Mont Cenis to the hospice founded on that
storm-swept road by the pious King Louis, first of his name, and then
dropping down to Piedmont and the ancient town of Susa, where after the
hardships of the day's journey they regaled themselves with 'tartes et
flaunes.' Whether it was the climbing or the flauns I do not know, but
next day Sir Hugh's palfreman was ill, and another servant had to be put
in his place at Avigliano. On Friday, April 25, Turin was reached, and a
stay was made here until the following Tuesday, a rest that must have been
welcome after three weeks' continuous travelling. Portmanteaux and bags
were repaired, clothes washed, and bodies reinvigorated by a more varied
choice of food than was possible while travelling; shoulders of mutton,
pigeons, chickens, figs, grapes, and other fruit were bought, and the cook
prepared 'charlet,' evidently an ancestress of the aristocratic Charlotte
Russe rather than of her plebeian namesake Apple Charlotte, as the
constituents were milk and eggs. The journey was resumed on Wednesday,
April 30, the route lying eastwards through Chivasso and Moncalvo to an
unidentifiable place, 'Basseignanh,' evidently just across the Po in
Lombardy, as here the coinage becomes 'emperials,' of which it required
twenty to make a 'gros tournois.' Lomello, Pavia, Piacenza, Borgo San
Donnino (where for the first time we note a purchase of cheese, for which
the district is still famous), Parma, Reggio, and Modena follow in
uneventful succession, but instead of continuing along the same line to
Bologna, as does the modern traveller, the embassy now turned sharply to
the south-west to Sassuolo. In this more countrified district the rate of
exchange fell, and the 'gros tournois' was only worth eighteen instead of
twenty 'emperials,' but as a compensation the accountant notes under
Frassinoro, the next station on the road through the picturesque valley of
the Secchia, that the expenses of four days were small, thanks to the
presents of 'la Marcoys.' I am not clear as to the identity of this
Marquess; all this part of Italy was a mass of little lordships and
semi-independent principalities, but for the most part their lords were
Dukes. The Marquess of Carrara seems a reasonable suggestion--if I am
right in thinking that there was such a person, and am not confusing him
with the Marquess of Carabas, who, from his occurrence in the history of
_Puss in Boots_, was presumably a noble of Catalonia. Lucca was reached on
the eve of Ascension Day, and the feast itself was spent at Pistoia, where
the coinage in use was 'Pisans,' the 'gros tournois' being worth 4_s._
2_d._ of Pisan money. The same currency continued in use in Florence and
Siena, after which 'curteneys' are introduced, the 'gros tournois' being
worth 5_s._ of this money, which, however, was only in use for two days,
during which halts were made at Acquapendente and Santa Cristina, a town
on the shore of the Lake of Bolsena, which name commemorates that saint's
escape from martyrdom by drowning, thanks to the miraculous buoyancy of
her millstone, on which she floated to shore as St. Piran floated on his
stone to the delectable duchy of Cornwall. After this the accounts are
kept at Viterbo in 'paperins,' 3_s._ 4_d._ of papal money being equivalent
to the 'gros tournois,' changing next day, for the last time on the way
out, to 'provis,' at 2_s._ 10_d._ Passing Sutri and Isola, Rome was
reached on Whit Monday. Here they found Master Thomas of Southwark, who
had been sent on ahead to hire lodgings and furniture, and here they spent
six weeks.

[Illustration: '_St. Piran._']

Pope Boniface having agreed to act as arbiter between the Kings of France
and England, Sir Hugh de Vere's mission was accomplished and the embassy
left Rome on the afternoon of Thursday, July 9, the Count of Savoy
accompanying them as far as Isola, their first halting-place. The route
followed as far as Pistoia was the same as that taken on the way out, but
by rather shorter stages, as several of the party appear to have been
knocked up by the heat. At San Quirico, between Acquapendente and Siena,
hackneys were hired for the invalids and special dishes were prepared for
them--eggs, honey, and apples being bought 'to make appilmus,' as well as
'verjus, peresill et autre sause.' Ten miles out of Pistoia, at Buggiano,
a halt had to be made and rooms hired for the sick members of the party,
who were left here while the others went on to Lucca. Here a fortnight's
stay was made, and when the journey was resumed, on August 5, progress was
very slow. Possibly in order to get the benefit of the sea air a different
route was followed from this point. The halt at Lucca had not restored the
strength of the invalids, and the party crept on at about five miles a
day, stopping at insignificant villages, such as 'Pont Sent Pere' and
'Valprumaye' between Lucca and Camajore, 'Fregedo' on the coast between
Pietrasanta and Sarzana, 'Pamarne' and 'La Matillane' between Sarzana,
where a three days' halt was made, and Borghetto. It would seem that there
was a particularly bad piece of road after Sestri, as Sir Hugh and the
other sick persons were taken by boat from Sestri to Chiavari, where a
whole week was spent. During this halt Wilkoc the clerk was sent into
Genoa to fetch a doctor for Sir Hugh, and at the same time, money having
run short, fresh supplies were obtained from some Pistoian merchants
resident in the town. Fortunately Genoa was well furnished with both cash
and curatives, for not only was it one of the richest ports in Europe, but
it shared with its rival, Venice, the fame of producing a 'treacle' which
possessed as many healing virtues as any of the quack compounds that now
make England hideous to the railway traveller.

After halts at Rapallo, Recco, and Nervi, Genoa was reached on September
4. Here they rested for two weeks, and as the treacle had apparently
proved ineffectual, even when supplemented with 'surupes, leitwaires,
especeries, emplastres et totes manieres de medicines,' seven members of
the party who were still ill were sent by sea to Savona. Their comrades
who came by land having joined them, they left the coast and turned north
through Cortemiglia, 'Castillol,' which I suppose is Castagnole,
Villanova, and Rivoli, ten miles west of Turin, to Susa. Here two days
were spent and 'Monsieur Johan Carbonel and Jak le Gigneur' dined with
them, but who these guests were I do not know. From Susa to Chambéry the
route followed was that by which the embassy had travelled on their way
out, but from Chambéry they took a more easterly road through Belley, St.
Rambert, and Bourg, rejoining the former route at Tournus. From 'Petit
Paris,' somewhere between Nogent-sur-Seine and Tournan, four men were sent
on ahead to secure accommodation. Only one night was spent in Paris, and
our travellers pressed on northwards through Hodancourt, Etrépagny,
Oisemont, and Neufchâtel by Boulogne to Wissant, which they reached on the
last day of October, and whence they crossed to England a week later,
regaling themselves in the meanwhile with whelks and mustard--not
necessarily eaten together.

[Illustration: '_... crossed to England._']

Sir Hugh and his company had thus been out of England eight months, the
journey to Rome occupying some seven weeks, but the return trip covering
four months. If we have no hint of any adventures and few details of
anything but food, it only shows that the roads were safe and the
travellers good Englishmen.



At the present time[1] the coronation is the Rome towards which all roads
lead; and if a walk down Oxford Street lands us among 'coronation' cuffs
and collars and soaps and souvenirs it is only to be expected that a
Mediæval Byway should bring us into the subject of coronations. For of all
the survivals with which we are surrounded in this conservative country
the coronation ceremonies, though shorn of much of their grandeur and
significance during the last hundred years, are still the most unchanged
in spirit and in detail. For one thing, they restore to London for a brief
period the predominant feature of mediæval life--colour. For a few days,
in 1911 as in 1236, the city is 'adorned with silkes, banners, crownes,
pals, tapers, lampes, and with certaine wonders of wit and strange
showes'; and, though the colour-scheme is baulked of fulness by the sad
clothes of the spectators, there is a blaze of gaiety which is pleasing in
its appeal to primitive instincts and its disregard of business and

[Illustration: '_Henry's badge._']

The proceedings in connection with the coronation of our mediæval kings
began at the Tower. Very significant was it that before taking formal
possession of his throne the king took practical possession of the
fortress. But if his claim to the crown rested partly on force and the
strong hand, it rested also upon the elective will of the people, and
accordingly, on the day before the coronation the king rode from the Tower
to Westminster Palace to show himself to his subjects that they might see
what sort of man it was whom they were choosing for king. Naturally the
processional ride was made as magnificent and impressive as possible. With
the king went a crowd of nobles, all on horseback, conspicuous amongst
them being the recipients of 'coronation honours,' the new-made Knights of
the Bath, usually thirty or forty in number, upon whom the honour of
knighthood had been bestowed, with the accompaniment of scarlet-furred
robes and other gifts of apparel, the previous day. Richard III., whose
cavalcade eclipsed the splendour of his predecessors, was accompanied by
three dukes, nine earls, and a hundred knights and lords, all gorgeously
attired, 'whereof the Duke of Buckingham so farre exceeded, that the
caparison of his horse was so charged with embroydered worke of gold, as
it was borne up from the ground by certaine his footmen thereto
appointed.' Nor did Henry VII., though careful and even parsimonious in
most matters, spare expense over his procession. He himself was arrayed in
rich cloth of gold of a purple ground, of which ten yards were bought from
Jerome Friscobaldi at the prodigious price of £8 the yard; the 'trappour,'
or caparison, of his charger was made of crimson damask cloth of gold,
costing £80, and either this or another trappour was adorned with 102
silver-gilt 'portculiez' (Henry's badge, so often repeated upon the walls
of his chapel at the Abbey) made by 'Hanche Doucheman.' Over the king's
head was a canopy of cloth of gold, the gilded staves of which were
carried by relays of knights, changed at frequent intervals that many
might partake of the honourable but arduous duty, and in attendance on him
were the 'henxmen,' dressed in crimson satin (costing 16_s._ the yard) and
white cloth of gold embroidered with the royal arms from designs by
Christian Poynter, who also executed twelve 'cotes of armes for herauldes,
beten and wrought in oyle colours with fyne gold,' and twelve similar
trumpet banners. The henchmen led the spare charger which for some reason
always formed part of the royal procession. It was, possibly, for this
state charger that the 'trappours of St. George' were made, of white cloth
of gold, but the 'trappour of blue velvet with 102 red roses worked with
Venice gold and dragons of red velvet,' and the other 'trappour' with the
arms of Cadwallader, clearly belonged to the queen's portion of the
procession. She was clad in white damask cloth of gold, reclining on
cushions of the same material in a litter drawn by two horses with white
harness and trappings, under a canopy of white damask with silver staves.
Five henchmen in crimson and blue led her palfrey of estate; then came
three 'cheires,' or carriages, each containing four ladies and draped in
crimson, and then seven ladies in blue velvet 'purfelled' with crimson
satin, riding on palfreys all of one colour with harness of crimson cloth
of gold, her suite displaying a splendour of colour which formed an
excellent foil to her own silvery radiance.

[Illustration: _A 'herauld.'_]

Our sovereigns no longer start from a fortress to ascend the throne, and
they show themselves to their loyal subjects after they have been crowned
instead of before the ceremony, not from any fear that they may prove
unacceptable to the people, but because none would dream of challenging
their right. But if Buckingham Palace is a less satisfactory
starting-point than the Tower (and there are artists who consider the
latter the more picturesque), there are some things in which we have
improved upon our ancestors. Chief amongst these are the police
arrangements. It is no longer necessary to proclaim, as was done when
Edward II. was crowned, 'That no one shall dare to carry sword, or pointed
knife, or dagger, mace, or club, or other arms on pain of imprisonment for
a year and a day'--the only weapon of offence thus sternly prohibited
now-a-days being the aeroplane. Nor is the threat of a similar penalty
needed to ensure the polite treatment of foreigners attending the
coronation. A certain amount of severity was no doubt required to
counteract the effects of nine conduits in the Cheap running red and white
wine, with auxiliary fountains at Westminster, however weak the wine may
have been. Modern coronations are not 'hanseld and auspicated,' as was
that of Richard I., with the blood of many Jews, because some of their
number had dared sacrilegiously to gaze upon the king--a privilege
notoriously accorded to cats, but evidently forbidden to a dog of a Jew.
On the other hand, we are spared such disastrous overcrowding as occurred
at the coronation of Edward II., when the king had to go out of his palace
by the back door to avoid the crush, and by the pressure of the crowd
within the Abbey a stout earthen wall was broken down, a prominent citizen
'threstyd to deth,' and the area reserved for the ceremony invaded.

It would seem from the instance just quoted that the temporary erections
made by our ancestors on these occasions would not have passed the L.C.C.
tests, and we may also flatter ourselves that they would never have been
capable of hiding their churches and other public buildings under a sea of
ingeniously constructed deal seats, but still the carpenters and
upholsterers were kept pretty busy at the Abbey for some little time
before the ceremony, though the tradesmen who most benefited were the
leading mercers, who had to supply great quantities of cloth of gold,
velvet, Turkish and Italian silks, samite, and fine linen of Tripoli.
Within the Abbey, at the crossing of the transepts, a high stage had to be
erected for the chair of state, where the king sat in full view of the
people during the first part of the service. This stage was covered with
rugs and hung round with silken cloth of gold, the chair of state being
also provided with a golden canopy and silken cushions. Several varieties
of cloth of gold were used, the bill for this material at the coronation
of Edward III., in 1327, amounting to £450, much of it being bought from
one John de Perers, who might very well have been the father of Alice
Perers, that 'busy court-flie' who infatuated the king in his declining
years. The most expensive variety was 'silken cloth of gold of Nak,' but
what place is meant by Nak I cannot say with any certainty: just
conceivably it might be Nasik close to Bombay, for much of this material
came from at least as far east as Turkey; but whatever its place of
origin, it was used for the king's hose and shoes, and for the little tent
or shrine before the high altar within which the ceremony of anointing,
with its attendant disrobing, took place. The next most valuable kind is
described as _raffata_--presumably 'reeded,' though the word is not to be
found in Ducange (when will some one do for mediæval Latin what Oxford and
Sir James Murray are doing for modern English?)--was used for covering the
archbishop's chair, while of a third variety, diapered or damask, one
whole cloth was offered at the high altar, and two cloths sewed together
were used to cover the tomb of the king's grandfather, Edward I. Others of
these diaper cloths, with purple velvet and cloth of Tartar, or Armenian,
silk, were used in the chancel and round the high altar, while canvas
cloth of gold was mixed with the more precious kinds or employed in less
important positions.

[Illustration: '_The young Edward III._']

The king, after his ride to Westminster Palace, partook of a light supper
and retired to his chamber. If he had not already been knighted he
prepared for that ceremony, a usual though not invariable preliminary to
coronation, by keeping vigil. The room in which the young Edward III.
rested was provided with red rugs with the royal arms worked in the
corners, three 'bankers' or bench covers of a like design, and other
'bankers' of red, green, murrey and blue, and his bath was covered with
silken cloth of gold, though for the bath of Henry VII. Flemish linen was
considered good enough. On the morning of the coronation day the king,
after the ceremonial bath, put on spotless raiment, to signify that 'as
his body glistens with the washing and the beauty of his vestments so may
his soul shine,' and went into Westminster Hall, where he was lifted by
his lords into his throne. Presently the royal procession, the king
walking barefoot and the various nobles carrying the regalia, started
down the covered way, carpeted with the coarse burrell cloth of
Candlewykstrete (now Cannon Street), so much of this carpet as lay outside
the church being the perquisite of the lord of the manor of Bedford as
almoner for the day, and were met by the monks and clergy, and by them
conducted into the Abbey. With the details of the ceremony that then
ensued, 'whereof the circumstaunce to shewe in ordre wolde aske a longe
leysoure,' all who are interested must by this time be well acquainted, so
often and so fully has it been described.

[Illustration: _Crowns ancient and modern._]

The ceremonial investiture was performed with the regalia of St. Edward,
preserved in the Abbey treasury and regarded as too sacred for lay hands
to touch, so that in the procession they were carried set out upon a
covered board; but before the close of the service the king laid aside the
crown of St. Edward and assumed his royal crown. This did not resemble the
glittering monstrosity with which we now render our sovereigns' heads
uncomfortable and slightly absurd, but was a dignified and artistic
circlet of the type known to heraldic writers as a ducal coronet. Edward
III. had three crowns, all of gold, the chief--described in 1356 as
'lately pawned in Flanders'--with eight fleurs-de-lys of rubies and
emeralds with four great orient pearls and eight sprays of balas rubies
and orient sapphires; the second, given to Queen Philippa, had ten
fleurs-de-lys of rubies and emeralds with groups of emeralds and six
pearls; the third was not, strictly speaking, a crown, but a chaplet,
being an unflowered circlet with nine groups of great oriental pearls and
in the midst a beautiful ruby. Wearing his crown and attended by his
nobles bearing the other insignia of royalty, the newly anointed king
returned to Westminster Palace for the great business of the coronation
banquet. For this event Westminster Hall was prepared, a 'siege royal,' or
throne, being set for the king at the upper end, covered with 'Turkish
cloth of gold,' or other handsome material, with a canopy. The benches of
the lower tables were covered with 'bankers' of red or blue cloth and
'dorsers' of the same material hung behind the guests--the 'dorser' being
the mediæval equivalent of the 'thing they call a dodo, running round the
wall.' The 'dorsers' behind the royal seat were of cloth of gold and were
protected from the dampness of the walls by a lining of canvas. When the
guests were seated in their order of precedence, and the Earl Marshal and
his attendants had ridden up and down the hall to make room for the
attendants, the banquet began, and during its course a number of nobles
and lords of manors had the duty or privilege of discharging various
services to the king, receiving as a rule valuable perquisites. Thus the
table had been laid by the lord of Kibworth-Beauchamp manor, in return for
which service he kept the salt cellar, knives, and spoons; the cloths and
napkins had been provided by the lord of Ashley in Essex, as Chief Napier,
and remained his property. The important post of Chief Butler was filled
by the Earl of Arundel, though at the coronation of Queen Eleanor, in
1236, his place was taken by the Earl of Surrey, as he had been
excommunicated by the Archbishop of Canterbury in a quarrel over sporting
rights, but the lord of Wimondley had the privilege of passing the first
cup of wine to the king, and then withdrew in favour of the mayor of
London, who acted as chief cupbearer--not without reward, for at the
coronation feast of Edward III. the mayor received as his fee a gold cup
enamelled with the royal arms, and a gold 'water-spout-pot,' or ewer,
ornamented with enamel and two Scottish pearls. At the same feast the
Earl of Lancaster as steward secured four silver chargers stamped with the
arms of Harclay, and four others bearing the badge of the Countess of
Hereford, ten silver skewers, and eight sauce-boats, each marked with the
royal leopard, and the chamberlain carried off two basins parcel gilt and
enamelled with the arms of England and Scotland. The lord of Addington
supplied a dish of gruel and the lord of Liston in Essex wafers; other
persons brought water and held basins and towels, and the head of the
family of Dymoke of Scrivelsby rode into the hall in full armour, with his
punning crest of a moke's ears on his helm, and offered to fight any one
who would deny the king's sovereignty.

[Illustration: '_Dymoke of Scrivelsby._']

But after all the main thing at a feast is the food. And that was
plentiful--even at the banquet of Edward II., where the waiting was
disgraceful. For his coronation feast Edward I. sent out orders to the
sheriffs of the different counties to provide 27,800 chickens, 540 oxen,
about a thousand pigs and 250 sheep, besides instructing the prelates to
send up as many swans, peacocks, cranes, rabbits, and kids as possible,
and also giving large orders for salmon, pike, eels, and lampreys. It is
not surprising that his cook, Hugh of Malvern, required six oaks and six
beeches to be made into tables for the kitchen. This suggests a certain
grossness of feeding which a study of the actual menu might dissipate;
certainly the banquets of later sovereigns were sufficiently elaborate and
varied. When Henry VI. was crowned in 1429, at the early age of nine, he
was served with three 'courses.' The first of these included not only
boiled beef and mutton, capons, herons, and cygnets, but 'Frument with
venyson; viand royall plantyd losynges of golde; Bore hedes in castellys
of golde and enarmed; a rede leche with lyons coruyn therin'--in other
words, a pink jelly or mould ornamented with lions--and, as a crowning
glory, 'Custarde royall with a lyoparde of golde syttynge therein and
holdynge a floure de lyce.' The second course, besides chickens,
partridges, cranes, peacock 'enhakyll' (with its feathers), and rabbits,
contained 'pygge endoryd'--gilded sucking-pig--'a frytour garnysshed with
a leopardes hede and two estryche feders; Gely party wryten and notyd with
Te Deum Laudamus,' and, as a masterpiece, 'A whyte leche (or blancmange)
plantyd with a rede antelop, a crowne aboute his necke with a chayne of
golde; flampayne powderyd with leopardes and flower delyce of golde.'
After this the third course, with no creation more wonderful than 'A bake
mete lyke a shylde, quarteryd red and whyte, sette with losenges gylte and
floures of borage,' falls rather flat. With each course was presented a
'sotyltie,' or elaborate device made, presumably, of sugar and pastry,
representing groups of kings and saints. These 'subtleties,' however, were
not to be compared to those at the coronation banquet of Katherine of
France, queen of Henry V. Her banquet also was of three courses, 'and ye
shall understand that this feest was all of fysshe,' and a most
astonishing variety of fish there was. Besides all the common
fish--salmon, soles, turbot, etc.--there were lampreys, in comparison
with which Henry III. once declared that all other fish were insipid,
'sturgeon with welkes,' a combination of the royal and the plebeian, fried
'menues,' or minnows, the mediæval whitebait, conger, now much neglected,
and 'porpies rostyd,' besides a score of other kinds, including certain
mysterious 'dedellys in burneux.' The sweets included 'Gely coloured with
columbyne floures'; 'flampeyn--a kind of raised pie--flourished with a
scochon royall, therein three crownes of golde plantyd with floure delyce
and floures of camemyll wrought of confeccyons'; 'A whyte leche
flourysshed with hawthorne levys and redde hawys;' and 'A march payne
garnysshed with dyverse fygures of aungellys, amonge the whiche was set an
ymage of Seynt Katheryne holdynge this rason, _Il est escrit, pur voir et
dit, per mariage pur cest guerre ne dure_.' Of the 'sotylties' the first
showed a pelican and its young, and an image of St. Katherine (of
Alexandria) holding a book in one hand and an inscribed scroll in the
other; the second showed a panther, the Queen's badge, and St. Katherine
with her more usual emblem, the wheel. The third and most elaborate was 'a
tigre lokyng in a mirrour and a man sittyng on horse backe, clene armyd,
holdyng in his armys a tiger whelpe, with this reason (_i.e._ motto), _Par
force sanz reson ie ay pryse ceste beste_, and with his one hande makynge
a countenaunce of throwynge of mirrours at the great tigre, the whiche
helde this reason, _Gile de mirrour ma fete distour_.' The legend of the
Tiger and the Mirror has been very fully worked out in connection with the
arms of the Kentish family of Sybill by Mr. G. C. Druce, a great authority
on unnatural history, but he does not appear to have known this instance
of its occurrence. An early bestiary informs us that 'there is a beast
which is called Tiger; it is a kind of serpent' (this suggests the
zoological classification of _Punch's_ railway porter--'Cats is dogs and
rabbits is dogs, but a tortoise is a hinsect'). 'This beast is of a nature
so courageous and fierce that no living man dares to approach it. When
the beast has young the hunters ... watch until they see the tiger go off
and leave its den and its young; they then seize the cubs and place
mirrors in the path just where they leave. The character of the tiger is
such that however angry it may be it is unable to look in the mirror
without its gaze becoming fixed.' (Surely this is more suggestive of Eve
than of the serpent?) 'It believes then that it is its cub that it sees in
the mirror; it recognises its figure with great satisfaction and believes
positively to have found its cub.' (This property of the mirror may
explain the puzzling question why so many ladies persist in dressing like
their own daughters.) Thus the hunters escape while the tiger stops where
it is, and I think that I had better follow the tiger's example.

[Illustration: '_The tiger and the mirror._']



To read a medical dictionary is to marvel that any man should enjoy even
brief intervals of health, there are so many delicate organs in the body
and so many diseases lying in wait for them. Read the pronouncements of
specialists on diet and the dangers which attend the eating of any food or
the drinking of any liquid, and the marvel grows. Add the extraordinary
facility with which accidents occur, and the margin between life and death
becomes surprisingly narrow. The crew of a destroyer are habitually
separated from the other world by about a quarter of an inch of steel.
With most of us the partition is less obvious, less constant and uniform,
but very nearly as thin in places. For any but the most hardened there
must always be a feeling of pleased surprise upon emerging safely on the
other side of Piccadilly Circus or the Embankment by Blackfriars. (It is
true that in the latter case a paternal, not to say grandmotherly, Council
has provided the unexciting alternative of a subway, but only leisurely
athletes have the time or energy to descend and reascend those stairs.)
The average City man is within inches and seconds of death every day, and
it is only when the inches and seconds become fractional that he realises
for the moment his insecurity of tenure. Which is just as well. Every age
has its own dangers: we have the motor car, unwitting apostle of socialism
in its brutal, individualistic disregard for the rights of others;
mediæval man, I am inclined to think, ran most risk from the quick temper
of his fellows.

From time to time, when some undesirable alien is arrested for stabbing an
enemy or chance acquaintance who has annoyed him, the police-court
magistrate before whom he is brought will comment, with patriotic pride,
on the 'un-English' nature of the offence. And it is true that at the
present time the Englishman as a rule emphasises his disagreement with his
opponent by means of fist or hob-nailed boot rather than with a knife, but
this was certainly not so in mediæval times. Call a man 'a boor' nowadays
and you may get a black eye, but the results were more disastrous in the
thirteenth century, as John Marsh found when he applied that opprobrious
term to Richard Fraunkfee as they were walking back from church at
Doncaster, for Richard promptly knifed him. Every man in those days
carried a knife, dagger, anelace, or baselard, and produced it without
hesitation if angered. Needless to say, the knife was much in evidence
after harvest feasts, wakes, and especially visits to the tavern, for
drunkenness has been an English vice since Fitz Stephen, in the twelfth
century, spoke of 'the inordinate drinking of fools' as one of the two
plagues of London. How far this failing was common to both sexes I do not
know; casual references to women in taverns occur occasionally, but they
might have been there as blamelessly as their descendants in a modern
tea-shop, and, so far as I can remember, I have only come across one woman
who met her death when drunk--a Yorkshire woman who fell down a well. At
the same time, seeing that 'the good wyf taugte hir dougter' in the
fifteenth century that 'if thou be ofte drunke it falle thee to schame,'
it looks as if occasional excess might have been condoned. With the
exception of drunkenness, the moving cause of the innumerable murderous
assaults is rarely given, and it is rather curious that the only two cases
which I have found of men quarrelling, with fatal results, over a woman
both occurred at ironworks in Yorkshire in 1266.

[Illustration: '_... got his arms round a branch._']

Knives were not infrequently responsible for deaths without any evil
intent on the part of their owners. In quite a large number of cases when
boys were playing together a knife would fall out of its sheath and
inflict a mortal wound. And then, if the owner were over twelve, he would
have, theoretically, to go to prison and stay there till he received a
formal pardon from the king for accidental manslaughter. I say
'theoretically' because in practice the culprit usually 'fled,' which, I
suspect, meant that he went round the corner while the village constable
carefully looked in the wrong place for him. An unusual incident connected
with a knife occurred in Dorset in 1280, when a girl, clearing the table
after dinner, picked up the tablecloth with a knife inside, and as she
went out of the room tripped and fell so that the knife stuck into her. It
was about the same date that a Suffolk peasant, William le Keu, flung a
knife against the wall of his house and it bounded off and killed his
infant daughter, lying on her mother's lap in front of the fire. Why he
should have thrown his knife at the wall does not appear, but people were
always throwing things about and hitting inoffensive passers-by. For
instance, a man would fling a rake or a flail at some chicken and hit his
own child. Children, in fact, had an unhappy knack of coming round the
corner with disastrous results to themselves, especially when their
elders were playing quoits or pennystone down the village street. One of
the most curious cases of what we may call an indirect accident was when
two small boys went into an orchard to get apples; one of them threw a
stone up into a tree, but instead of bringing down an apple it hit a stone
that some one had thrown up long before, and this fell on his cousin's
head and killed him. Another case of the unforeseen happened in
Nottinghamshire in the thirteenth century, when Richard Palmer was
climbing a tree in a churchyard to take a crow's nest. He was standing on
a bough when suddenly it broke; but the result was not what might have
been expected, for Richard got his arms round a branch and after hanging
for a long time came down safely, but the broken bough fell on the head of
a man standing down below, and 'the dog it was that died.'

[Illustration: '_The broken bough fell on the head of a man standing down

Fire, the second of Fitz Stephen's 'plagues,' played its part in
preventing over-population, as might be expected when the framework of the
huts was of wood, the roof of thatch and the floor covered with straw or
rushes. If a woman went to bed leaving a lighted candle stuck on the wall
it was hardly surprising if she paid for her carelessness with her life,
but as a rule the victims were children or very old people, and as often
as not the immediate cause was some chicken, or pig, or calf getting on to
the open hearth and scattering the fire on to the straw-covered floor. For
the mediæval peasant shared his hut with his live stock, though it would
not be often that a man would be called upon to separate two horses
fighting in his kitchen; this did actually happen to a man in Winchester,
and as usual the peacemaker got the worst of it. Fire, again, acting
indirectly through the medium of water, was another frequent cause of
disaster, a most astonishing number of cases occurring of persons, usually
children, scalded to death. I can only suppose that the cauldrons were
large and insecurely balanced; that they were large may be concluded from
the frequency with which people fell into them. But cold water was perhaps
as deadly an agent as any. In Yorkshire in particular the coroners' rolls
suggest that the number of people that fell off bridges and out of boats
into streams and down wells must have seriously interfered with the purity
of the water supply; but, fortunately, water was very rarely drunk in
those days. The most frequent cause of drowning seems to have been falling
off a horse, and the mediæval version of the well-known proverb ought to
have been 'One man can ride a horse to the water, but nine out of ten
can't stay on when he drinks.' Taking the number of cases in which men
watering their horses did get drowned, and allowing that a reasonable
percentage of those thrown into the water scrambled out again, the
standard of mediæval riding must have been about equal to that of the
White Knight, who, when his horse stopped fell over its head, and when it
went on again fell over its tail.

Occasionally the propelling agent, so to speak, was human, as in the case
of a clothworker of Tadcaster, who, 'being annoyed with his wife,' flung
her into the Wharfe and drowned her. The measure seems extreme, and he
could not plead peril of shipwreck, the excuse of the Syracusan, who,
'when all ponderous things were to be exonerated out of the ship,' flung
his wife into the sea 'because she was the greatest burden.'

In spite of a verdict of 'misadventure,' I cannot help feeling a little
sceptical about an incident which took place at Bedford in 1220, when
William the miller was driving certain Jews in his cart, and at the bridge
the cart fell into the water and three Jews were drowned. As I read the
story there came into my mind Sam Weller's conversation with Mr. Pickwick
about his father's remarkable accident with the voters: '"Here and there
it is a wery bad road," says my father. "'Specially near the canal, I
think," says the gentleman.... You wouldn't believe it, sir, but on the
wery day as he came down with them woters his coach was upset on that 'ere
wery spot and every man on 'em was turned into the canal.'

Occasionally, also, the victim was a voluntary one, as in the case of John
Milner, who, with the contempt for consequences which we might expect from
one of his name, jumped into the Ouse. The consequence for him was that he
became what Mr. Mantalini called 'a demmed, moist, unpleasant corpse,' and
the jury decided that he had acted 'by temptation of the Devil.' While
they displayed a certain boldness in thus arraigning the Devil for
procuring, aiding, and abetting a felony, they showed more discretion in
another quarter, for when a man and his wife were found struck by
lightning, where a modern jury would have declared it an 'act of God' the
mediæval jury preferred the less dogmatic and more reasonable verdict that
'no one is suspected.' It is pleasant to note that in another instance,
where the body of a man struck by lightning was first found by his wife,
the jury expressly exonerated her, saying 'she is not suspected' (of
having done it).

I am not quite certain of the force of a verdict of 'by temptation of the
Devil' in a case of suicide, but it seems to have been the half-way house
between _felo-de-se_ and madness, to have been, in fact, the mediæval
equivalent of that 'temporary insanity' which is the invariable verdict in
modern times. The idea that a man must be mad to take his own life, and
that therefore all suicides were insane, had not occurred to the mediæval
mind, but they evidently felt that there were cases in which the suicide
was not himself, although he was not sufficiently outside or beside
himself to be considered an absolute lunatic. There are strange and grim
little stories of madmen in some of these old records. One of these, not
wanting in pathos in its evidence of good intentions diabolically twisted,
tells how Robert de Bramwyk, a lunatic who had some lucid intervals (and
was, therefore, probably not so closely guarded), in a fit of frenzy took
his sister Denise, who had been deformed and hunchbacked from her birth,
and, wishing to make her straight, cast her into a cauldron of hot water,
and taking her out of this bath trampled upon her with his feet to
straighten her limbs.

[Illustration: '_... cast her into a cauldron._']

With the exception of this madman's empiric bone-setting I only remember
to have come across one instance of an operation being mentioned in this
particular class of coroner's records. This was in 1330, when Richard de
Berneston, a surgeon of Nottingham, cut a 'wenne' on the arm of William de
Brunnesley and William afterwards died of heart failure. It is rather
remarkable that doctors seem hardly ever to have been held responsible
for the death of their patients, though in 1350 we do find Thomas Rasyn,
leech, and Pernel, his wife, pardoned for the death of John Panyers,
miller, of Sidmouth, whom they were said to have killed through ignorance
of their art; the inclusion of the wife seems to point to a mediæval
nursing home. As a rule, probably, when a patient died under a doctor's
care, his relations took the matter philosophically and assumed that the
treatment had been correct and that he would have died in any case. It was
the patients who survived that made all the fuss. For instance, there was
Thomas Medewe, the vicar of a Hertfordshire parish in the fifteenth
century, who 'by goddys visitacion had an infirmyte in his throte.' The
local practitioner, or his equivalent, who would probably have been a
'wise woman,' being unable to deal with it, the vicar came up to London
and consulted John Dayvyle, surgeon, who gave him a plaster for his throat
which did him much good and only cost 4_d._ Unfortunately for both
parties, the surgeon finding that his patient was 'nygh hole' as a result
of his first experiment insisted upon his having another plaster, for
which he charged 20_d._ to make him 'thurgh hole.' The result was
disastrous, as the patient 'felle in suche infirmitye that he might not
speke and was like therby to have dyed' if he had not called in another
doctor. It was, in the circumstances, perhaps natural that the vicar
expressed his feelings strongly when Dayvyle sent in a bill for 20_s._ for
attendance. There was the case also of Edmund Broke, of Southampton, who
came up to London to undergo an operation, and put himself in the hands of
Nicholas Sax, who stipulated for a fee of 33_s._ 4_d._, of which 13_s._
4_d._ was paid in advance. The patient, according to his own account, was
in jeopardy of his life through the 'defaute and unkunnyng' of Dr. Sax,
and had to call in John Surgeon, 'dwelling at Powlez cheyn,' who cured him
and to whom he paid the 20_s._ which his incompetent attendant claimed was
due to him.

Of course there was another side to the question, patients then as now
being more ready with promises when ill than with fees when well. There
was William Robinson, for instance, a haberdasher of Lombard Street, who
fell ill with pestilence and sent for William Paronus, promising that if
he would only save him 'he would reward him as well as ever he was
rewarded for any cure'; but when, after a month's attendance, he was well
again, he declined even to pay the doctor's out-of-pocket expenses
incurred for drugs. And sometimes there were cases in which it was
difficult to decide who was in the right. One such case came into court in
1292. Mauger le Vavassour, a member of a leading Yorkshire family, fell
ill; his wife, Agnes, and other friends, including his uncle, Henry le
Chapeleyn, sent for Master Otto of Germany, evidently a doctor of repute,
promising him one mark to come and see the invalid, and further six marks
if he would undertake his treatment. So Master Otto paid his visit and
then went off to York to the apothecary's and compounded various medicines
and healing drinks, which he gave to Mauger, with excellent effect. When
the patient was convalescent Master Otto put him on a very strict diet,
so strict that Mauger grew restive, and his wife, who sympathised with his
feelings, gave him various forbidden foods. The doctor, finding his orders
disobeyed, declined to accept responsibility, washed his hands of the case
and withdrew. The question then arose whether he was entitled to his fees
or whether he had shown neglect by leaving his patient before he was fully
cured. The jury decided that Master Otto ordered the strict diet for
Mauger's good, and not, as had been suggested, with the object of keeping
him weak, and so increasing the bill for attendance, but they also found
that as a matter of fact the extra food did the patient good and not harm.
The verdict being thus for both parties the judges were puzzled and
reserved their decision.

Another rather curious point cropped up about the middle of the fifteenth
century. Eryk de Vedica, one of the brethren of the Grey Friars of London,
was a physician of skill and reputation, and was sent for by Alice, wife
of William Stede, a vintner. She seems to have been in a very bad way, and
when Brother Eryk saw her and understood her 'grete age and jubertous
sikeness' he was with difficulty persuaded to attempt her cure. However,
after five weeks' attention he 'had soo doon hys parte vnto her that she
thought herself wele amended in her body, she cowde hym grete thancke and
gave hym 20_s._ for his labour.' And then her curmudgeon of a husband, who
was possibly not particularly pleased at her recovery, sued Brother Eryk
for taking the money, and technically the unfortunate friar had no
defence, as 'the common law supposeth every receiving of the husband's
goods or money by the hands of his wife without his licence or command to
be a wrongful taking away of the same from him.' We will hope that the
Court of Chancery, whose assistance was invoked, over-ruled the Common Law
and did the friar justice.

It was not unusual for friars to have a knowledge of science and medicine,
but a statement that I read the other day in a book recently published,
that most (I believe my author said 'all') mediæval doctors 'were, of
course, monks' is singularly wide of the truth. On the contrary, in even
the largest monasteries it was customary to call in a doctor from outside
in any case of serious illness, and the greater houses frequently retained
the services of a secular physician. The cathedral monastery of
Winchester, for instance, in the fourteenth century, made an agreement
with Master Thomas of Shaftesbury that he should attend the convent in
return for his board and lodging, the board, it may be noticed, including
a daily allowance of one and a half gallons of the best ale and a gallon
of a smaller brew. It is probable also that Master Adam of St. Albans,
surgeon, who came from the priory of Ely to attend King Edward I. in his
last illness at Lanercost, was the cathedral doctor. There were, of
course, medical attendants attached to the court; their salaries were not
large, the surgeons of the first two Edwards being paid only from one to
two pounds a year, but there were perquisites in the shape of furred
robes, gifts of money, or silver goblets from grateful patients, and
substantial pickings in the shape of ecclesiastical benefices--the
favourite way of pensioning a court physician being to give him one or
more prebends or rectories. Occasionally the pension took the form of
landed estate, as when Edward III. gave land in Kildare to his surgeon,
John Leche, a grant which proved rather a white elephant, for early in the
next reign Parliament, seeing the evils of absenteeism, ordered that all
owners of estates in Ireland should reside on them in person or else pay
for an able-bodied man to assist in policing the country, two alternatives
equally trying to the old surgeon's feelings. With such slender and
precarious remuneration it was excusable that the royal doctors should
sometimes have an eye to the main chance, and Fabyan tells a story against
one Master Dominic, physician (very much) in waiting to Elizabeth, Queen
of Edward IV. Before the birth of her first child (the Princess
Elizabeth) Master Dominic had been very positive that it would be a boy,
and so, when the time came, he stood outside the queen's room 'that he
myght be the firste that shulde brynge tydynges to the kynge of the byrth
of the prynce to the entent to have greate thanke and rewarde of the
kynge; and lastly when he harde the childe crye, he knockyd or called
secretly at the chamber dore, and frayned what the quene had. To whom it
was answeryd by one of the ladyes, "what so ever the quenes grace hath
here wythin, suer it is that a fole standithe there withoute." And so
confused with thys answere, he deperted wythoute seynge of the kynge for
that tyme.'

[Illustration: '_... called secretly at the chamber dore._']

The position of the medical man who was not attached to the court or to
some nobleman's suite is rather obscure. In London during the fourteenth
and fifteenth centuries the surgeons of the city were under the control of
two or more master surgeons who acted as universal consultants; any
surgeon undertaking a case involving risk to life or limb being obliged to
call in one of the masters to see that his treatment was correct. In the
same way the veterinary surgeons were at liberty to call in the advice of
a master farrier, and if through conceit or negligence they did not do so
and the horse they were treating died, then they would be responsible to
the owner for its value. As to the country practitioner, it is not quite
clear who licensed him to take the title of 'leech' or whether he merely
assumed it. There were, no doubt, a certain number of men of learning in
the provinces, and in 1478 Sir John Savage was able to find a 'connyng
fisission' for Robert Pilkington in Macclesfield. He certainly required
such a one, for, as a result of eating a mess of 'grene potage' containing
poison he was 'swolne so grete that he was gyrd abowte his bodye in iij
places with towells and gyrdylls' to prevent him bursting. When a man is
in such a state it is 'a thousand to one if he lives the age of a little
fish,' as Nicholas Culpeper would say, but the physician 'dyd grete cures
to hym' and he recovered. As a rule, however, it is probable that the
country leech had little more knowledge of the healing art than many of
his patients. It must be remembered that a knowledge of simple herbal
remedies was pretty widely diffused, and an acquaintance with more
elaborate preparations formed part of the education of the upper classes.
Did not the lady of the manor almost to our own days dispense home-made
medicines with moral stimulants to her tenants, whose simple minds and
_dura ilia_ received therefrom much benefit? Yea, 'kynges and kynges sones
and other noble men hath ben eximious phisicions,' and there is in the
British Museum a book full of recipes for plasters and ointments, composed
by Henry VIII. Half a century before that bluff but gouty monarch 'the
gude Erl of Herforth was holden a gud surgen,' though he seems to have had
a tendency towards extravagant multiplication of ingredients in his
prescriptions. In humbler ranks of life every monastery had an Infirmarian
who, though dependent on outside assistance in serious cases, was expected
to treat the ordinary illnesses of his brethren, and at least to see that
there was always ginger, cinnamon, and peony (this last most effectual for
the incubus or nightmare) in his cupboard. It is noteworthy that in all
the hundreds of hospitals founded prior to the Reformation, from St.
Leonard's at York with its two hundred beds downwards, there appears to
have been no provision for medical attendance. The wardens were rarely
medical men; Master Thomas Goldington, one of the surgeons of Edward III.
was made warden of two hospitals, at Derby and Carlisle, but the only
result was that he attended to his private practice and neglected the
hospitals. Clearly the rudiments of nursing were assumed to be known to
the resident chaplain or some of the inmates--more particularly the women.
Wise women have doctored the country-side time out of mind, and in the
reign of Elizabeth we even find one, Isabel Warick, practising surgery in
York and requiring protection from her male rivals. A century earlier
Alice Shevington, servant to William Gregory of London, 'pretendyng
hirself to have had connyng in helyng of sore ighen,' spent much of her
time attending to her neighbours' eyes instead of her master's house,
wherefore he docked her of part of her munificent wages of 16_s._ a year.

[Illustration: '_... gyrd abowte his bodye in iij places with towells and

But, of course, this lay knowledge of herbs and so forth was not enough,
for, as Andrew Borde, that man of wit and sound learning, said, quoting
Galen, '"If Phisicions had nothing to do with Astronomy, Geomatry, Logycke
and other sciences, coblers, curryars of lether, carpenters and smythes
and al such manner of people wolde leave theyr craftes and be Phisicions,"
as it apereth nowe a dayes that many coblers be; fye on such ones!'
Without a knowledge of astronomy how could Culpeper have discovered that a
certain French quack was 'as like Mars in Capricorne as a Pomewater is an
Apple,' and that therefore he was a fool? It was important also to
comprehend the mystical properties of gems, many of which exercised as
healing an influence as any herb. So well was this recognised that in
1217, when Alice Lunsford, a member of an old East Sussex family (whose
later descendants endeavoured to extend its antiquity by forging Saxon
ancestors with the delightfully improbable Christian names of David and
Joseph), fell ill, she sent to Philip Daubigny and borrowed three rings
from him, and when he asked for them back begged him, for the love of
God, not to take them away, as without them she could not recover.
Unfortunately the troops of Louis the Dauphin plundered her house shortly
afterwards, and although she did recover Philip lost his rings, one of
them being a sapphire for which he would not have taken 50 marks.

Gems were not only held to exercise a beneficent influence when worn in
rings or held in the mouth, but were also administered internally. Amongst
the long list of medicines made for Edward I. during his last illness, in
1307, is 'a comforting electuary made with ambergis, musk, pearls, and
jacinths, and pure gold and silver.' Lower down in the list occurs 'a
precious electuary called Dyacameron,' and a fifteenth-century book of
prescriptions shows that this was composed of ginger, cinnamon, clove, and
other spices, black, white, and long pepper, musk, ambergris, 'the bone of
a stag's heart,' coral, pure gold, and shavings of ivory, amongst other
things. This same book shows a still more elaborate preparation, called
'The Duke's Electuary,' containing fifty ingredients, but mostly herbal,
and not so precious or indigestible as these others. These electuaries,
which were a kind of medicated sweetmeat, seem to have been taken in large
quantities, as Richard de Montpelier, King Edward's apothecary, prepared
over 280 pounds of electuaries made with sugar. These cost a shilling the
pound, while Dyacameron ran up to 13_s._ 4_d._ the pound, and four ounces
of rose comfits (_sucurosset_) flavoured with pearls and coral cost £3,
13_s._ 4_d._ Oriental ambergris to put in the king's food and in his
claret was another expensive item. But all these drugs and all the care of
Master Nicholas de Tyngewyk, his physician, of whose skill the king held a
high opinion, proved unavailing.

A list of drugs provided for the Scottish expedition in 1323 is chiefly of
interest as showing that the virtue of a fine-sounding name for a medicine
was recognised some six centuries before Mr. Ponderevo hit on the sonorous
Tono-Bungay. Here are some of the items; Oxerocrosium, Diaterascos,
Apostolicon, Dyaculon, Ceroneum, Popilion, Agrippa, Gracia Dei--all of
them compounds of the patent medicine types; Galbanum, Armoniak, Apoponak,
Bedellum, Collofonium, Mastik, and Dragon's blood--simpler vegetable
preparations; Seruse, Calamine, Litharge, and Tutie--which are mineral
substances: Tutie being 'bred of the sparkles of brasen furnaces,
whereinto store of the mineral Calamine beaten to dust, hath been cast.'
Of the high-sounding preparations Popilion was so called from its
containing poplar leaves; Diaterascos was a plaster compounded of pitch,
wax, acetic acid, and various aromatics; Ceroneum was a similar plaster
without the acid, containing rather more aromatics and also saffron,
aloes, and litharge; and Dyaculon was a third variety of plaster, very
remotely, if at all, connected with the adhesive Diachylon plasters of
modern times. 'The oynment that is called Agrippa' was still used in the
fifteenth century for deafness, and at that date Apostolicon was made as
follows: Take equal quantities of 'vermod (wormwood), smallache (water
parsley), centori, waybred (? plantain), and the rote of osmond and als
muche of egremoyne (agrimony) as of all the others,' seethe in vinegar and
add an ounce of 'medwax (beeswax) that is multen in woman's milk' (a
favourite solvent). To this is added alum, galbanum, pitch, and
turpentine, and the whole worked up into an ointment. If this is not
sufficiently elaborate for your purpose, 'Her is makyng of Gracia Dei:
Take betanye, pympernel and vervayn, of ilkon an handfull, bothe crope and
rote, and wasshe hem clene and stamp hem smalle and do hem in a new erthen
pote and put therto a galon of white wyne, and if you may get no white
wyne take red, and sethe them till yt come to a potell:' let it cool,
strain through canvas, seethe again, and add half-a-pound of 'gud mede
wax, bot loke the wax be molten first, and woman's milke of knave child
and a pond of rosyn and a pond of gome litarge and a pond of galbanum and
a pond of popanelke (? opoponax) and a pond of arestolog rotundum
(birth-wort) and an unce of mastike wel poudred,' stir well and then 'do
als mykill baume (balsam) als weies a peny and a ferthyng and lete it
sethe whil you may say iij _Miserere mei deus_ all the hole salme'; take
off the fire, add gum turpentine, and stir till melted, strain and skim
off any dirt with a feather. When cold it should be worked up between the
hands until it becomes of sticky consistency, it is then to be spread on
clean linen or leather, and is good for all manner of sores that be
perilous. There is another method of preparing Gracia Dei which was used
by 'Hopkyn of the fermory of Killyngworth,' that is to say in the
infirmary at Kenilworth Priory, and a third, devised by 'the gude erl of
Herforth' which is much more elaborate, the herbs used being 'betany,
vervayne, pympernel, comfrey, osmond, dayshy, mousher (mouse-ear)
weybrede, rib (? rhubarb), milfoile (the yarrow, which in Saxon leechdom
seems to have been held good for everything from headaches to
snake-bites), centory, anence, violete, flos campi (? campion), smalache,
sauge, and egremoyn.'

[Illustration: '_... led through the middle of the city._']

When these simple remedies were not successful recourse could always be
had to charms--either sheer pagan gibberish or rhyming prayers and
invocations of saints. It was obviously appropriate for the sufferer from
toothache to appeal to St. Appolonia, who was tortured by having her teeth
broken with a mallet, but it was less obvious why a man with the falling
sickness should cut his little finger and write with his blood the names
of the three kings, Jasper, Balthazar, and Melchior, on a piece of
parchment and hang it round his neck; nor do I know why SS. Nichasius and
Cassian should be invoked against any 'erwig or any worme that is cropyn
into a mans bed.' It was as well in any case to be sure that the charm was
genuine, as Roger atte Hache found in 1382. His wife, Joan, being ill, he
accepted the word of one Roger Clerk of Wandsworth that he was skilled
in medical lore and paid him 12_d._ to undertake her cure. Clerk took a
leaf of parchment out of a book and sewed it up in cloth of gold and bade
Joan put it round her neck. When she got no better her husband grew
suspicious and summoned Clerk for fraud. Clerk, being asked to explain the
value of the piece of parchment, said that it was a good charm for fever
and contained the words 'Anima Christi sanctifica me' and other similar
pious expressions, but upon examination it was found that there were no
such words upon it, and as he proved to be ignorant of physic and
illiterate, it was adjudged that he should be led through the middle of
the city, with trumpets and pipes, riding on a horse without a saddle,
with the parchment and a whetstone (the recognised symbol of a liar) hung
round his neck, and in front of him the unseemly emblem of the medical



It is a common delusion, or, not to beg the question before producing
evidence, a common opinion, that England in olden times, by which I mean
that vague period when all words were spelled with an 'e' at their end and
most with a 'y' in the middle, was a 'merrie' place. This idea is held not
only by the _laudatores temporis acti_, who find it safer to repine for a
past which can never be recovered than to enthuse over a future which may
arrive and prove disappointing, but also by those energetic persons who
set out to make the world enjoy itself and imagine that their schemes for
compulsory happiness will really only restore a lost gaiety to the nation.
Life in the Middle Ages was undoubtedly more highly coloured, more varied,
more picturesque, but that it was merrier is at least a doubtful
assumption. As the life of a people is reflected in their arts, we may
compare the life of the Middle Ages to the quaint, irregular lines of some
unimproved village street, or to the older parts of such towns as
Winchester and Guildford, and contrast it with the mid-Victorian era, the
flattest and dullest of all periods, as typified by Brixton, or with the
frivolity of the present day, portrayed in the outbreak of terra-cotta and
white wood flimsinesses all over the country. But the picture is not
complete. In the background, behind the straight sameness of 'Alma
Terrace,' or the quirked and joggled sameness of 'Mafeking Avenue,' lies
nothing more terrible than the 'desirable residence' or the 'eligible
mansion.' Behind your picturesque old-world cottages frowns the shadow of
the feudal fortress. And, as Huxley remarked to the young man who said
that he did not see what difference it would have made to him if his
great-grandfather had or had not been a monkey, 'it must have made a lot
of difference to your great-grandmother.'

It was not without reason that such names as Batvilayne, Scorchevilayne,
and Maungevilayne are found amongst the landowning classes. There were men
who would beat, scorch, or devour their villeins, and some six-and-a-half
centuries ago an ancestor of the present Lord Ashburnham could oppress his
tenants until they were reduced to literal beggary, and when they
complained to the Justices could airily reply that they were his villeins
and, short of injury to life and limb, he need not answer them. Such was
the position of the bulk of the peasantry, but in practice they did not
often suffer by it, for it was obviously to the advantage of the landlord
to have prosperous tenants. It was at the hands of the officials, the
swarm of stewards, bailiffs, catchpoles, and so forth, that the peasants,
yeomen, and smaller gentry suffered. These men, secure in the protection
of a chain of superiors reaching back to some great noble, lived on their
neighbours, wringing money from them on every, or no, pretext. A favourite
weapon was the jury list; the frequency with which juries were summoned
and the resulting inconvenience to those called away from their work made
the more wealthy willing to pay well for exemption; then money could be
obtained by summoning four or five times as many jurors as were required
and taking bribes from the superfluous to let them go home again. Another
common object of the country-side was the 'scotale,' which was a kind of
bean-feast. No doubt this lent an appearance of merriness to life in the
country, just as the wriggling of the worm on the hook lent it a
superficial air of gaiety which deceived old Isaak Walton, but it is
questionable if the feasters really enjoyed themselves, as they knew that
the ale which formed the main feature of the meal was brewed from malt
which they had unwillingly contributed, and that they were paying for the
(compulsory) privilege of consuming their own produce. Nor did the
townsmen escape entirely; even five hundred years ago the Christmas box
was an established extortion, and, in 1419, William Sevenok, Mayor of
London, had to forbid the custom of the servants of the mayor, sheriffs,
and corporation begging gifts from the tradesmen at Christmas, as it was
found that they used threats towards those who would not give and accepted
the gifts of others as bribes to overlook their offences against the
trading laws. Not only at Christmas did the servants of the city and the
court fleece the tradesmen; the doubtful privilege of supplying the royal
court with provisions could be, and frequently was, avoided by a gift to
the purveyors, and one result was that rogues from time to time went round
the breweries pretending to be court purveyors and taking money to leave
the ale alone. A rogue of a similar type, with a turn of humour, was
William Pykemyle, who in 1379 went to the town house of the Countess of
Norfolk, and, pretending to be a royal messenger, left word that she was
to dine with the King at Leeds Castle, near Maidstone, next day; having
received from her a reward of 3_s._ 4_d._ (royal messengers always
expecting a substantial tip) he went on to the Countess of Bedford and
gave a similar message, only making the place of dining Eltham. Whether
the ladies kept their appointments is not recorded, but the gay deceiver
was caught and committed to Newgate.

If the men of the Middle Ages had had nothing more to complain of than
extortion by threats and trickery they might have been merry enough, but
when the bailiffs exercised their powers of arbitrary arrest and
imprisonment it was another matter. From the sheriffs downwards those
'clothed with a little brief authority' used it unscrupulously to fill
their own pockets, dragging men off to prison on false accusations, or on
none, and causing convicted felons to accuse the innocent of participation
in their crimes. Release from prison depended solely upon the payment of a
fine to the officer concerned, and was almost as easily available for the
guilty as for the innocent. Upon occasion the powers of the law could be
used to assist the criminal and punish his victim. During the misrule of
the last years of Henry III., one, Wilkin of Gloseburne, accused Gilbert
Wood of killing his son; Gilbert promptly turned the tables by bribing the
gaoler of York, who arrested Wilkin on a charge of theft, bound him naked
to a post in the prison, and kept him without food until he paid 40_s._
About the same time, in Suffolk, a man stole six geese belonging to
Constance de Barnaucle; possibly he would have argued that they were
'barnacle geese,' and as this species notoriously grew on trees they were
_feræ naturæ_, in which there could be no property. If so, he must have
felt that his case was weak, as he ran away, pursued by the lady's
servant. The thief was caught by the bailiffs of Thingoe Hundred, but
either they were friends of his or they saw a chance of getting the geese
themselves, for they let him go free, and when the pursuer came up they
showed half-a-dozen other geese, which he naturally failed to identify;
they then talked big about libel actions and false accusations and
terrified 4_s._ out of the unlucky man's pockets.

[Illustration: '_... failed to identify the geese._']

Besides accusations of actual misdeeds, charges of opposing a predominant
or favouring a fallen faction could be used for purposes of extortion.
Towards the end of the reign of Edward II., when the Despensers were in
power, Alan of Teesdale, chamberlain to the younger Despenser, with the
assistance of Geoffrey Eston, the villainous gaoler of York, started a
report that Sir John de Barton had spoken ill of Hugh le Despenser,
whereat Hugh was much moved and furiously threatened Sir John, who for
fear of his power had to give them lands to appease their lord. The same
two scoundrels burnt down part of one of Alan's own mills and then laid
the blame first on Sir John de Barton, then on Thomas Vipont, and finally
on the Abbot of Byland, all of whom, for fear of the Despenser, paid heavy
compensation. They further extorted lands from Master Thomas de Leuesham
by threatening to accuse him of having been a partisan of Andrew de
Harclay, who, after winning the earldom of Carlisle by his loyalty at
Boroughbridge in 1322, had, the following year, been dramatically
degraded and executed as a traitor. Nearly a century earlier, Robert
Passelewe, Justice of the Jews, had extorted £60 from John le Prestre, a
wealthy Jew, by threatening to commit him to Corfe Castle for having
financed the Bishop of Carlisle and Hubert de Burgh, then in disgrace.
From the same Jew Passelewe extorted, amongst other things, a cameo worth
40 marks; he seems to have had an appreciation for jewels, as he
appropriated a 'camehew' and an emerald belonging to a Jew who was hanged,
and made Benedict Crispin give him another cameo, which he afterwards gave
to the Queen. Crispin was fleeced by several persons in high places and
had to part with another of his cameos, 'on which was engraved a chariot
with two angels,' to Peter de Rievaux, the Treasurer.

If the Jews were plundered we may at least put it to the credit of our
ancestors that they showed a fine impartiality in according similar
treatment to Christian clergy. The sheriff of Yorkshire, in 1315, wishing
to persuade Master Henry de Percy, rector of Wharrom, to surrender his
church, handed him over to Geoffrey Eston,[2] the gaoler of York, of whom
we have already said something, who bound him to a convicted criminal and
kept him five days without food or drink; at the end of that time he paid
£20 to be released, but he kept his church. Encouraged by this, the
sub-sheriff followed his superior's example and brought the rector of
Whixley to Geoffrey, who confined him 'in a horrible place in the prison'
until he produced 20 marks. Most prisons, probably, had a 'horrible
place,' usually an underground dungeon, such as 'the pit of the gaol' at
Exeter, or the 'fosse' at Newgate, or the place in the King's Bench
prison called by the grim humour of the fifteenth century 'Paradise,' from
which Alexander Lokke, who had been detained there 'alle this holy tyme of
Cristemasse,' begged to be removed to some other prison. Apart from these
dungeons the comfort of the prisoners depended largely on their possession
of money; they were not 'lodged at his majesty's expense,' but were
dependent upon money supplied by friends or on the alms of the charitable,
and their position when the gaoler was a tyrant was unenviable. In the
reign of Henry VIII. the keeper of Norwich gaol, Andrew Asketell, 'of his
uncharitabill and covetous mind' oppressed the poor prisoners, charging
them twice as much for ale as it cost outside--and ale, it must be
remembered, was in those days really 'the people's food in liquid
form'--and when kind people sent 'a potte ale' to the prisoners he made
his servants pour the drink in the streets and break the vessels. But he
did this once too often, when 'a litill boy haveng a veray power woman to
his moder in prison brought to her to ye prison wyndow a crok with ale.'
Edward Rede, alderman and J.P., seeing her drink thus snatched from her,
kindly sent her 'a cruse with drynk.' The arrival of this widow's cruse so
annoyed the keeper that he came up to the alderman and insulted him,
calling him 'a Bedlam man,' and as a result he saw prison life from a
fresh point of view. Some two centuries earlier Newgate was controlled by
Edmund le Lorimer, who ill-treated his prisoners shockingly, keeping them
short of food, depriving them of their share in the common alms, and
preventing them communicating with their friends. He robbed them, taking
from Roger Martel a gold cross with four garnets and a 'pere crapaudyn' or
toad-stone, the precious jewel which a toad bears in its head and which is
an invaluable antidote to poison, and he inflicted such severe 'penaunce'
to extort money that many died, including a knight, Sir John de Horn, and
that Roger de Colney, being loaded with irons and deprived of food,
snatched a knife from a companion and cut his throat.

All those in authority were not brutes; it is even recorded of a Suffolk
bailiff that finding on his recovery from illness that his deputy had been
guilty of extortion, he returned the money and dismissed the deputy. But
the reports from Yorkshire in 1275 were fairly typical; the bailiff of the
Earl of Lincoln had done 'many acts of oppression, rapine, and injuries
beyond belief'; 'many other things, beyond number and astonishing,' were
related of the sub-sheriff, and 'innumerable devilish acts of oppression'
were accredited to the steward of Earl Warenne. The earl himself was a man
of violence, who had turned about a fifth part of the county of Sussex
into a game preserve, and maintained armed keepers to prevent the peasants
from driving the deer out of their corn. The story is well known how, when
King Edward's commissioners demanded by what title he held his lands, he
produced a rusty sword and said 'by this my ancestors won their lands and
by this I will defend them.' Like most well-known stories this is
apocryphal, and in any case a distaff would have been more appropriate, as
his lands had descended through an heiress, but that he would have been
willing to protect his lands with the sword is likely enough. One of his
descendants, the Earl of Surrey of the time of Henry VIII. seems to have
inherited some of his lawlessness, as he was charged with 'a lewde and
unsemely manner of walking in the night abowght the stretes and breaking
wyth stonebowes (_i.e._ catapults) of certeyne wyndowes.' It does not
appear that he wanted 'Votes for Peers' and, in fact, he admitted that he
'hadde verye evyll done therein,' and was sent to the Fleet prison.

Life must certainly have been more exciting, if not merrier, in now
peaceful Sussex when Earl John de Warenne was alive. He was carrying on a
sort of private war with his neighbour, Robert Aguillon, who was also on
bad terms with his other neighbour, William de Braose, while further west,
at Midhurst, was John de Bohun, who displayed his contempt for the law by
attacking Luke de Vienne on the high road and ducking him in a horse-pond
when he was on his way to hold a court. The son and namesake of this
William de Braose showed his temper by insulting one of the Justices of
the King's Court who had given judgment against him. Edward I. was not the
man to excuse such conduct; he had, indeed, banished the Prince of Wales
from court for insolence towards a judge, and Braose had to walk in
penitential garb through Westminster Hall when the court was sitting and
apologise to the justice. With such examples set by their lords it is not
surprising that the smaller men adopted an attitude of swagger and
arrogance, riding with armed followers through markets and fairs for the
mere pleasure of frightening the people. As an example of apparently
pointless insolence, the constable of Shrewsbury gave his groom 4_d._ to
go through the village of Cressage calling out 'Wekare, Wekare,' to
insult both men and women. The character of the insult is not obvious, but
it was evidently clear to those concerned, as a woman dared to
remonstrate; the groom struck at her and wounded a man who came to her
assistance, but then had to fly and was shot--for which his lord obtained
full compensation.

[Illustration: '_... ducking him in a horse-pond._']

Whatever the meaning of 'Wekare,' there can be no doubt of the insult
conveyed by Robert Sutton to Roger of Portland, clerk of the Sheriff of
London, when he exclaimed in full court, 'Tprhurt, tprhurt!' This
monosyllable is a very trumpet blast of contempt and its significance
surely did not require to be emphasised by Robert's 'raising his
thumb'--whether to his nose or not it is not stated, which is a pity, as
it would have been interesting to find the 'long nose' flourishing in
1290. City Officers, and more particularly mayors and aldermen, were very
touchy, seeing and punishing 'vile and abominable abuse' in the most
harmless retort, and my sympathy is certainly with Collard, the cobbler,
who was sent to prison at Norwich because, when the mayor ordered him to
take off his beard he refused to do so and said, 'Noo, I was ones shaven
and I made an othe I wolde never have off my berde again, I was so evell
shaven.' Still there is no doubt that however arbitrary the authorities
may have been they also had their trials, and, if officials often abused
their powers, their was another side to the question. Smaller men than
William de Braose could, upon occasion, tell the judges what they thought
of them. In 1300 one Henry de Biskele came into the Sussex county court
and asked leave to say certain matters 'on the king's behalf,' and having
thus obtained silence and the attention of the whole court, he broke out
into violent abuse of one of the justices, calling him a liar and using
other opprobrious terms, for which he was lucky to escape with a fine of
20_s._ Some fifty years later a more violent act of contempt of court
occurred at Pevensey. John de Molyns, the Queen's steward, came to hold a
court there, but being busy appointed a deputy to take his place in the
morning; this official seems to have irritated the townsmen, and when he
ordered them to withdraw outside the bar, contrary to their local custom,
Roger Porter replied by challenging him to come outside and fight. During
the luncheon interval the deputy reported the state of affairs, and in the
afternoon the steward himself came to the court, preceded by the portreeve
carrying his white wand of office, but the townsmen refused to come when
summoned, Roger and Simon Porter in particular declaring that they were
not bound to attend. At last the steward rose in wrath and started to
seize the two Porters, who fled to their house and with drawn swords stood
in the doorway. A pitched battle ensued between them and the steward's
men, in which several were injured, but in the end victory rested with the

[Illustration: '_... with drawn swords stood in the doorway._']

Even the King's Court at Westminster was not safe from disturbance. In
1332 John Parles, acting as attorney for Adam Basset in a plea of debt
against Florence de Aldham, was waiting in the great hall at Westminster,
where the court was in session. He was sitting on a table 'close to the
sellers of jewels,' from which it would seem that the lower end of the
hall was used for stalls, or at any rate for peddling jewellery, even
while cases were proceeding. Presently Florence came up with two men and
abused John Parles, threatening to kill him if he did not abandon the
suit; Richard Calware dragged him off the table and struck him a blow
which drew blood and Thomas Newark whipped out a knife and would have
killed him if he had not been restrained. John at once made his way to the
bar and complained to the judges, who ordered the arrest of his
assailants, but they struggled towards the door and were joined by Thomas
of Thornhamton with his sword drawn. But the clerks of the court,
apprentices, and attorneys barred the doors and disarmed them, and they
were all handed over to the warden of the Tower.

In all these cases the disturbers of the peace met with prompt defeat, but
sometimes they were more successful, though their success was usually
temporary and vengeance overtook them sooner or later. No courts seem to
have been so unpopular as those of the Church; dealing with moral
offences, they touched the lives of the people in a way which must have
led to constant irritation, even if the archdeacons and their summoners
had not been unfair and extortionate. That they were so was the pretty
general opinion of mediæval Englishmen, from Chaucer to his contemporary
John Belgrave, who, when the archdeacon of Leicester was going to hold a
court, set up in his church a clearly written bill setting forth that the
archdeacon and his officials might well rank with the judges who condemned
Susannah, giving unrighteous judgment, oppressing the innocent, and
suffering evildoers. This so terrified the archdeacon and his officials,
possibly made cowards by their consciences, that they dared not hold their
courts. Civil courts were also liable to be broken up, especially the
open-air courts held by sheriffs. On one occasion, in the fourteenth
century, when the sheriff of Sussex was holding such a court, John
Ashburnham rode up, with a small boy bearing his tabard, and so threatened
the sheriff that he incontinently fled. To hasten his going Ashburnham
whistled on his fingers--a street-boy's accomplishment to which I must
admit I have never managed to attain in spite of repeated efforts--at
which whistle his esquire and other men in ambush suddenly rose up. Even
the assize courts were liable to be interfered with, especially in the
north, and at the end of the reign of Edward II. there were in Lancashire
several men of position who rode about with armed bands and turned up at
the courts with fifty or sixty ruffians to persuade their adversaries not
to proceed with their suits, or, if such peaceful picketing proved
unavailing, to terrorise the justices. Chief of these was Sir Walter
Bradshaw. He had been one of the sworn adherents of Sir Adam Banaster in
his rebellion, and having assisted in the attack on Liverpool Castle and
the capture of Halton, had fled the country after the defeat of his
friends at Preston. Returning later, he carried on a private war with Sir
Richard de Holand, another ruffian of the same kidney, each of them riding
about with small armies, oppressing each other's tenants and openly
defying the courts. These quarrels between county families were
undoubtedly more exciting when the process of cutting one another was
conducted with swords instead of with averted eyes and upturned noses, but
whether they were more conducive to the merriness of their rival retainers
may be doubted. These retainers, if we may trust Sir Ralph Evers, did not
always play their parts with the politeness and courtesy which their
masters displayed, and, in fact, on one occasion he remonstrated with Sir
Roger Hastings' servant, saying, 'Ye false hurson kaytyffes, I shall lerne
you curtesy and to knowe a gentilman.' It is possible that he was feeling
irritated at the time, as he had been lying in wait to ambush Sir Roger,
and it must have been annoying to find that he had only caught his
servants. Sir Roger himself seems to have been rather quick-tempered; he
had a grudge against one Ralph Jenner, and on his way to church on
Christmas Day discovered that Ralph was in the church; he at once decided
that the season of peace and goodwill was a suitable occasion to make an
end of his quarrel (and of his adversary), but the vicar flung himself on
his knees before him, while Lady Hastings ran up to Ralph Jenner
exclaiming, 'Woo worthe man this day! The chirche wolbe suspended and thou
slayn withoute thou flee away and gette thee oute of his sighte.'
Whereupon Ralph, either out of consideration for the parishioners or
himself, prudently fled.

[Illustration: '_He incontinently fled._']

It sometimes happened that these imperious gentry reaped the reward of
their own lawlessness and goaded their oppressed tenants to active
rebellion. As early as the twelfth century the sheriff of Hants is found
grimly entering in his accounts money spent on doing justice on the
peasants who burned their lord. At Faccombe in the same county, in 1426,
John Punchardon, lord of the manor, was dragged from his bed one Sunday
night, carried out into the fields, and there done to death. In this case
there was probably some personal feeling in the matter, as the murderers
included five members of the family of Cosyn, whose ancestors had formerly
held the manor, but who had now come down to the position of labourers. A
case in which the motive of rebellion was more clearly resentment to
oppression occurred at Preston in Sussex, in 1280, when the villeins of
Simon de Pierpoint set fire to his manor-house, and with drawn knives and
flourished axes compelled him to swear upon the Gospels that he would
demand no services from them without their consent, and would take no
action against them for their violence. At the same time they destroyed
their lord's tabard, so beat his charger that it could never be used again
and slew his 'gentle falcon,' thus wreaking their wrath on the outward
signs of his nobility. Such revolts were much more common in towns; for
instance, at Lynne, in 1313, when Robert Muhaut tried to exercise his
authority in a new direction, a crowd of tradesmen, under the leadership
of the prior, assaulted his house, dragged him out and made him stand on a
stall in the market-place and swear on the Host that he would not
interfere with the town officers. At Bristol, also about the same time,
the burgesses quarrelled with the castellan, barricaded the streets and
erected an embattled wall from behind which they shot into the castle, and
at Oxford the watchmen were on several occasions shot at with arrows:--I
have known, in more recent times, a casual shot at a proctor with a lump
of sugar have more disastrous effects--to the shooter.

[Illustration: '_... compellyd them for to devour the same writte._']

But if the lords of manors, town officials, and judges occasionally found
their authority slighted and their persons endangered by the disrespect of
those who should have been subservient to them, their trials were not to
be compared with those of the inferior officers such as bailiffs. In the
fourteenth century, when Philip of Berwick was elected as bailiff of
Hailsham, he had to fly for his life to escape from a certain John of
Buckholt, who terrorised the whole neighbourhood, chasing the vicar into
his church, killing several persons, and so frightening the coroner that
he dared not hold any inquests. With such men about as this John of
Buckholt, who was known as king among his people, the life of a bailiff
was not a happy one, and in particular, the life of the process-server was
exciting, but not necessarily merry. It can hardly have been cheering to
the man who had to serve a writ in Drayton Basset to know that the
offenders were boasting that 'whoo so ever wold be so bolde to serve any
warrant there shuld runne upon a pycheforke.' It was also not an uncommon
experience that Thomas Talbot and Thomas Gaiford had when they served a
writ on Agnes Motte, who 'reysyd upp her neghburs with wepyns drawen for
to slee and mordre the said bryngers of the writte and compellyd them for
to devour the same writte and ther, sitting upon ther knees, in saving of
ther lyves, eete the writte bothe wex and parchement,' in fact, from the
number of similar instances recorded it would almost seem that
writ-servers must have been accustomed to a diet of wax and parchment.
There seems also to have been a custom of serving writs in church, not
unattended with risk, as the sacredness of the place does not seem always
to have subdued the temper of the recipient. When William Nash served a
writ on John Archer in Ilmingdon churchyard he retorted by threatening to
make him eat it, and afterwards, as Nash was kneeling in the church, he
came up to him and said, 'Pray, longenekked horesson, by Goddes armes,
thou shalt be hanged ere I ete holy bred.' John Cheyney, also, when he was
served with a writ in church, took the server by the shoulders and thrust
him out of the church, saying that he would slit his nose, stove his eyes,
crop his ears, and 'make hym a curtall.'

[Illustration: '_... thrust him out of the church._']

No, taking into consideration the injuries inflicted by the more powerful
men in authority upon those subject to them and the pains suffered by
those having the responsibilities of office without its powers, I do not
think the mediæval populace was always merry and bright, and if any one,
after reading this article, still thinks that England in the Middle Ages
was a 'merrie' place, I can only say with Robert Sutton, 'Tprhurt,



There is a sentence in the biblical account of the wonders of Solomon's
reign that has always had a fascination for me. 'Once in three years came
the navy of Tarshish bringing gold and silver, ivory and apes and
peacocks.' And the fascination lies not in the crude magnificence of tusks
and ingots, the burnished brilliance of peacocks, or the uncanny, too
human, grotesqueness of apes, but in all the varied multitude of unnamed
articles which must have constituted the cargo of those far-faring ships
of Tarshish--gaudy tissues interwoven with bettle-wings, strange shells,
jewel-crusted swords, carvings in sandal-wood and in the wood of the
mysterious almug tree. Possibly the almug tree is not mysterious to the
well-informed man, but I admit that I have always carefully avoided
looking it up; I might say, as was said of the purple cow, 'I never saw an
almug tree, I never want to see one,' because I am certain that it would
prove a vast disappointment. The unlading of a ship is an enlarged and, it
must be admitted, less personal version of the unpacking of a Christmas
hamper, a joy apportioned to childhood, not, in nine cases out of ten,
because in our maturer years we lose the appreciation of disinterring the
unexpected from swathings of paper, string, and straw, but because the
opportunities are denied us. Of course, it is given to few to unpack a
ship, and there may be persons of little imagination to whom a bill of
lading seems dull and uninspiring, but to me every such list is a
potential hamper. When the bill of lading is of the fifteenth century
there is added something of the feeling which we have when turning out a
drawer in an old forgotten bureau of our great-grandmother's. The everyday
objects of that time are now unfamiliar, and our ingenuity is taxed to
guess the use of some of them, while on the other hand it is quite a shock
to find that other things which we still use were known so long ago.

[Illustration: '_latten "Agnus Dei."_']

The hold of a ship, like poverty, makes strange bed-fellows acquaint. A
hundred distaves, emblems of peaceful home-life, came into London port in
1390 side by side with ninety-three dozen swords, these latter for Gerard
van Barle, who must have been either an armourer in business on a very
large scale, or else an army contractor. Six hundred oranges, at fifteen a
penny, we find sandwiched between eight barrels of varnish and nine glass
cups; a jar of preserved dates is thrust in between twelve yards of linen
cloth and a barrel containing seven and a half dozen beaver hats. A ship
of Dieppe came into Winchelsea harbour in 1490 with damask and satin and
pipes of wine, razors and needles and mantles of leopard skins, five gross
of playing-cards and eight gross of latten 'Agnus Dei.' These last, which
I regret to say seem to have been considerably less valued than the
'devil's books' which accompanied them, were plaques stamped with the
figure of the holy Lamb, and it would seem that they were so common that
the word became a synonym for a plaque, as in an inventory of the jewels
of Henry VII. occurs 'an Agnus of the Salutation of Our Lady.' In the same
way the component parts of the rosary became so intimately associated in
men's minds with prayers that when we read in a list of cargo of
'pater-nosters' or 'bedys' of amber, coral, tin, or 'tree' it is
impossible to be sure whether they were rosaries or beads in the modern
sense of ornaments. Devotional objects naturally figured largely in the
imports of mediæval days, images of painted wood or tin occurring with
frequency in the London customs accounts of 1390, and the alabaster
carvings for which England, and in particular Nottingham, was famous form
quite the most interesting of our exports in the fifteenth century. As a
whole it must be admitted that our exports at that time were very dull
compared to our imports; cloth, hides, and corn are but uninspiring
merchandise, and although the frequent mention of ale and beer might cheer
the heart of Mr. Belloc or the late Mr. Calverley it leaves me cold. One
item, however, is interesting in the fifteenth-century exports from
Bristol, and that is the constant occurrence in cargoes for Ireland, and
for nowhere else, of casks of 'corrupt wine.' This looks like 'another
injustice to Ireland.' With this untempting liquor went a good quantity of
honey, possibly to counteract its acidity, and of 'battery-ware,' which
was really such things as kettles, but may have been endeared to the Irish
from an imaginary connection with assault.

If the exported cloth was uninspiring in its lack of variety the same
charge cannot be brought against the imported stuffs. There is some room
for imagination in the cargo of Matthew Clayson's boat, which brought
kerchiefs of Cyprus and Syria (so at least I interpret _cirian_), oriental
kerchiefs and glittering (_relusant_) kerchiefs, with 707 lb. of pins
wherewith to fasten them. There is also something satisfactory about
baudrik powdered with Cyprian gold, and even about chamelet and sarcenet.
I own to a delight in the old drapery terms, and, whatever their merits as
materials, I feel that our modern trade terms such as viyella and eoline
(if these be their names) are feeble and finicking besides arras, bayes,
bewpers, boulters, borratoes, buffins, bustyans, bombacyes, calimancoes,
carrells, dornicks, frisadoes, fustians, grograines, mockadoes, minnikins,
makarells, oliotts, pomettes, plumettes, perpetuanas, rashes, russells,
sayes, stamells, tukes, tamettes, and woadmolles. But if these and similar
words have a fascination it is partly a fascination of the unknown, and I
should be grateful to any one who could tell me what it was that Walter
Hake brought into London port in 1390, for, besides two barrels with
fourteen nests of mazer cups and other recognisable goods, he carried
three thousand five hundred 'redwark,' ten hundred 'ruskyn,' as much
'popl,' and, most puzzling of all, eight thousand 'of good work' (_boni
operis_). I admit the temptation to endow the work with plurality and to
set this load of good works in opposition to a contemporary Rabelaisian
cargo of 'fartes of Portingale.'

[Illustration: '_... playing innumerable pranks._']

So far the cargoes of our ships have not greatly resembled those of the
ships of Tarshish, but, if the peacocks are to seek, we can easily find
the ivory, in the shape of combs, and as to the apes the _Clement_ of Rye
in 1490 brought home four dozen baboons (_baboynes_). It must, however, be
admitted that these baboons would not have found a home at the Zoo--they
were in fact little grotesque figures, and in that sense the word occurs
often in mediæval inventories. Edward III. had not only a number of
pieces of plate with 'babewyns' upon them, but one cup described as gilt
and enamelled with 'diverse babwynrie.' At the same time the real monkey
was a common enough object; he figures in the margin of scores of
illuminated manuscripts, playing innumerable pranks, not infrequently in
the dress of a priest, a monk, or a friar. Monkeys were kept by many of
the nobles, and when Thomas Becket went, as Chancellor of England, on an
embassy to the court of France an ape sat on every pack horse of his
gorgeous cavalcade. The merchandise of Venice in 1436 included 'Apes and
japes and marmusettes tayled,' and so far was the ape a common import that
at many seaports monkeys figured in the customs lists, the due at Norwich
being 40_d._ each, no small sum. With the monkey in these lists is also
found the bear, who at Norwich paid 42_d._ for admission to the country.
Bears were even commoner sights than monkeys, for not only were there the
performing bears in charge of itinerant showmen, but many of the poor
brutes were kept for sport, to be baited by dogs. It was probably for
purposes of sport that Sir John Bourchier, Earl of Bath, kept half-a-dozen
bears, which after the Reformation he stabled in the dismantled priory of
the Black Friars at Fisherton, near Salisbury. There they lived happily
until, according to Harry Sutton, their keeper, John Davy and Agnes his
wife with other naughty and evil-disposed persons broke into the close
where they were kept, and Agnes, 'being thene of most wyckyd and damnable
disposicion,' scattered poisoned bread on the ground and in the water
where the bears drank. As a result three of the bears died, as did also a
poor man's sow that drank of the pond; and a poor woman who washed her
face in the water 'so swelled that she was like to have died,' which I
take leave to think was an exaggeration on the part of Harry Sutton. There
is always another side to every story, and according to John Davy he had a
lease of part of the friary lands, and his wife was quite peaceably
walking there when Sutton, to frighten her away, untied 'the grettyste and
most terryble bere' and set him at her, whereat she being 'sore affrayed
and abashed' ran away and in running fell over a sow, not the poor man's
sow that died, but a sow of lead, and received a hurt from which she died.
The two versions are singularly divergent, and if Sutton could show three
dead bears and a sow in support of his story, Davy could show a dead wife
in support of his.

Henry III. was the proud possessor of a polar bear, which used to be taken
for a swim in the Thames to disport itself and to catch fish, no doubt to
the great joy of the young Londoners. This was a present from the King of
Norway, and gifts of strange beasts were often made to our kings, the
favourites naturally being lions and leopards, in allusion to the royal
arms, the Black Prince on one occasion sending his father a lion and a
leopard. In passing it may be remarked that it is a curious trait of the
heraldic lion that it cannot look a man in the face; when a lion looks at
you it becomes a leopard. This, I admit, sounds rather like the
schoolboy's description of the tortuous river of Palestine, 'The Jordan
runs straight down the middle of the map, but when you look at it it
wriggles,'--but it is none the less a fact. In early heraldry the lean and
fearsome beast that does duty for a lion when seen in profile is called a
leopard when its full face is shown; it is true that a later generation of
heraldic writers converted the three golden leopards of England into
'lions passant guardant,' but leopards they were, and, for those of us who
prefer the heraldry of the classic period to its debased and jargonised
descendant, leopards they remain. At the same time, as the live lions
could hardly be expected to look continuously over their left shoulders,
the royal menagerie at the tower was usually stocked with real leopards
as well as lions. For generations, and indeed centuries, the lions of the
Tower enjoyed much the same privileged position as the eponymous bears of
Berne, and were so emphatically the sight to which all country cousins, by
a humane version of 'Christianos ad leones,' had to be taken that their
name became, and remains, synonymous with all that is double-asterisked by

[Illustration: '_When a lion looks at you it becomes a leopard._']

Mediæval Englishmen seem to have a partiality for strange beasts, combined
with a reluctance to pay exorbitant fees for seeing them. In 1364 Edward
III. had to order the mayor and sheriffs of London to protect Roger Owery
and John Want, to whom he had committed the custody of a certain Egyptian
beast called an 'Oure,' various persons, who apparently wished to see the
beast without paying, having threatened to assault them and kill the
'Oure.' What this creature was is not clear; possibly it was the aurochs
or buffalo--Borde's 'vengeable beast,' the Bovy of Bohemia. Whatever it
was its keepers, who had no doubt looked forward to making a good thing
out of exhibiting it, seem to have had a doubtful bargain, and the same
fate befell Thomas Charles, 'squier,' and William Lynde just about a
century later when they obtained from the king the keeping of his 'foul
called an Estrich.' They sent the ostrich round the country in charge of
Richard Axsmith and John Piers, 'for to disporte with the sight of hym the
kynges true lieges,'--and incidentally, though they do not think that
worth mentioning, to put money in their own pockets. 'How be hit that
oother mysdoers in certain places wher lite reverence is doon or shewed to
anything of the kinges, as the dede hathe proven, have withoute cause
wrongfully doon grete trespasses and offenses as wel to the said foul as
to Richard Axsmyth and John Piers.' At Royston a mob, egged on by the
prior, assaulted the keepers and caused the ostrich 'to ben seyn of alle
peuple' and the unfortunate 'fowle' was 'hurten so sore that he may
never be hool, as hit on hym wel appereth.' When they came to Norwich one
of the sheriffs cast them into prison as 'false Flemings,' and 'caused the
foul to be seyn in the common strete of alle peuple that list to come seen
hym for nought.' Nor did they have any better luck at the next town, Bury
St. Edmunds, where they were again imprisoned and the bird exhibited for
nothing, the townsmen 'axing hem who made hem so hardy as to go on with
the kinges foule about among his peuple without a commission.' This seems
to have been the end of their tour in the eastern counties.

[Illustration: '_The unfortunate "fowle" was "hurten so sore."_']

The ostrich does not often occur under that name, but its egg was often
made into a cup, under the name of a griffon's egg or 'grype's ey.' Edward
III. had more than one 'oef de greffon,' and Henry IV. had half-a-dozen
'gryppesheys,' but possibly by this time the term was only conventional
and the true origin of the egg was known, as one of these 'gryppesheys'
was mounted on 'two white ostriches.' The griffin, half eagle and half
lion, was a very popular mediæval beast; that no specimen is ever recorded
to have been taken round on show may have been due to the fact that this
beast 'so much disdaineth vassalrey and subjection that he will never be
surprised alive.' The appearance amongst the jewels of Richard II. of an
almsdish supported by two griffons suggests an analogy with its modern
relation the Jubjub, of which it is said that 'In charity meetings it
stands at the door, And collects though it does not subscribe.' If doubt
is to be thrown on examples of the griffon's eggs, still more dubitable is
the 'drinking vessel made of the horn of a griffon, mounted in copper
gilt,' which belonged to Edward III. This may well rank with a relic
preserved in the Cathedral Priory of Rochester,--'the rod of Moses which
budded,'--in view of the fact that it was Aaron's rod which budded and
that a griffon has no horns.

If our forefathers never had a chance of seeing a griffon and failed to
appreciate an ostrich when they did see one, there is no question that
they saw and appreciated the first elephant that landed in England. It was
a present from King Louis of France to Henry III. and landed at Sandwich
in 1255, whence it proceeded leisurely to London, filling all beholders
with astonishment. It only lived a couple of years, and when its successor
came over I do not know, but I suspect that there was a very long interval
before England was again visited by an elephant. Before its lamented
decease it sat for its portrait to Matthew Paris and another contemporary
chronicler, and the resulting sketches are quite recognisable. The
elephant was not a very favourite subject with mediæval artists, though
the Earl of Arundel in 1397 had a piece of tapestry (probably oriental)
'powdered with lions, olyfauntes and imagery,' and if any one wants to
know what it was like they have only to go to an old house in Market
Street at Rye, where they can see just such a piece of tapestry,
'olyfauntes' and all, reproduced as a wall-painting. Talking of elephants,
a learned man not many years back wrote an article with the fascinating
title, 'How the Elephant became a Bishop'; as a matter of fact it dealt
with the evolution of the chess 'bishop,' but what a title for a fairy

Elephants, to one mediævally minded, infallibly suggest dragons, for it is
notorious that there was bitter enmity between elephants and dragons. And
the subject of dragons is a wide one. So far as I know the last, in
Western Europe at least, was killed in the Roman Campagna in 1660, its
slayer himself dying from the poison in its breath, but it was less than
half a century before that, in 1614 to be precise, that a young
half-fledged dragon--it was nine feet long and its wings were only just
sprouting--was seen in Sussex, at Faygate in St. Leonards Forest. Of
course in earlier times they were much more numerous; Switzerland swarmed
with them, in fact Lucerne seems to have been almost as much the happy
hunting-ground of the dragon and the cockatrice as it is now of the Cook's
tourist. The northern counties, especially Durham and Northumberland, were
also much pestered by 'laidly worms'; two estates were held of the Bishop
of Durham from early time by exhibiting to him annually the swords with
which redoubtable ancestors of the tenants had slain the Worm of Sockburn
and the fearsome Brawn of Brancepeth, a boar to which all ordinary boars
were but as ordinary cattle to the Dun Cow, slain by Guy of Warwick with a
sword still shown at Warwick Castle. Perhaps the most satisfactory dragon
on record was that slain at Rhodes in 1345 by Deodatus de Gonzago. That
wily and prudent knight constructed a pantomine dragon on the pattern of
the real article and made two of his servants get inside and work it
realistically; in this manner he accustomed his horse and his dogs to
dragon-baiting, and his trouble was rewarded by the death of the monster
and his own election to the mastership of the Knights of St. John.
Another famous dragon was the Tarask. It seems that when St. Mary
Magdalene landed at Marseilles she installed herself in a dragon's cave;
the dragon was unceremoniously ejected and went off higher up the Rhone;
but he had no luck; the first person he met on landing was St. Martha, who
gave him a good dressing down and handed him over to the peasants, who
slew him but immortalised his name in Tarascon. There were a great many
varieties of dragons, but I think the most curious that I have met was one
of silver gilt belonging to Henry IV. which was described as 'au guyse
d'un boterflie'; anything less like a dragon than a butterfly it would be
difficult to imagine. At the same time some of these terrible beasts seem
to have been quite insignificant. The amphisbæna, though it developed in
the Bestiaries into a fearsome dragon with a head at each end, started as
quite a small worm, so small indeed that a whole one could be carried on
the person without inconvenience. So carried it prevented the wearer from
ever feeling chilly; in which respect it would seem to have been the
opposite of the salamander, whose flesh was so cold that it quenched fire.
Henry V. bought a parrot, two monkeys, and three salamanders from a
fishmonger. I wonder what the salamanders were; if they were the squabby
and unattractive lizard, black, with yellow spots, which now goes by that
name I fear the king must have been disappointed. If he experimented upon
their alleged ability to live in fire, or at least to extinguish it, I
fear the disappointment would have been shared by the salamanders.

[Illustration: '_... constructed a pantomime dragon on the pattern of the
real article._']

Besides the monsters of the land and air there were, of course, mediæval
varieties of the sea-serpent. Matthew Paris records that in 1255 a monster
bigger than the biggest whale was thrown up on the coast of Norfolk. As
this was the year in which the first elephant came over I almost wondered
if two had started and one had fallen overboard and been drowned, but
quite by accident I came upon a legal case connected with this very sea
monster, arising out of foreshore rights and rights of wreck, which showed
that the creature, whatever it was, was very much alive when first seen,
as no less than six boats were sunk in effecting its capture.
Unfortunately no description of the monster is given, but probably it was
a great sperm whale. Fifteen years earlier, in 1240, according to the
same chronicler, there was a great battle of whales off the mouth of the
Thames, and one of the wounded came up the river, just managed to squeeze
through the arches of London Bridge and got as far as Mortlake before it
was killed. A fresh-water monster, or at least one which started life in a
river and developed in a well but afterwards took to the land, was the
terrible Lambton worm, which seems after all to have been more of a
nuisance than a danger, as, so long as it got its trough full of milk
regularly, it was content to lie about, coiled round Lambton Hill.

Terrible beasts were the basilisk--for which I have always felt an
affection since I saw his portrait by Carpaccio in the church of St.
George of the Sclavs (after much furious argument with a gondolier who
knew no St. George but S. Giorgio Maggiore) at Venice--the cockatrice, and
that strange hybrid of the two, the basilcok, known chiefly for its mean
and unrelenting enmity to the centichore or yale, the strange pig-antelope
who now sits once more as he sat of yore on the bridge at Hampton Court.
Terrible beasts all; but none so morally destructive as that noble friend
of man, the horse. Everybody knows the famous derivation of hypocrite,
'from two Greek words--hippos, a horse, and krites, a judge: a
horse-dealer, therefore, a deceiver.' The Archbishop of York would seem to
have been of the same opinion when he inhibited the cellarer of Newburg
from dealing in horses, on the ground that it was not fitting for a man of
religion, because in the negotiations between buyer and seller it is
almost impossible to avoid sin. It would have been well if John Hill,
vicar of Coliton in Devon in 1426, had considered this before he sold a
horse to Walter Trouns, 'knowing the horse to have contracted divers
diseases and to be incapable of working.' From the description the horse
would seem to have been of the same breed as the 'hakeney' hired by
William Driffeld from Thomas Plevener, a London innkeeper, who 'promysed
and warantized the said hakeney to be of helth and of habilitie and well
and trewlay' to carry Master William to Walsingham, whither he was going,
no doubt, on pilgrimage. In spite of the warranty, the hackney, before he
had covered twenty miles, 'wold nor myght go no ferther' and had to be
left at Ware, where he died 'of dyverse infyrmytes.' Richard Chapman had a
similar experience when he hired a horse from Christopher Thomas to carry
him to York; at the end of the first day it 'failed hym and was
morefounded.' Probably the hirers out of the horses threw the blame on
their clients, as did Robert Grene, 'corsour' (_i.e._ horse-dealer, not
to be confused with corsair, a pirate), who, having sold a horse to John
Bonauntre, complained that 'the said John rode upon the said hors' with
the result that it was 'perished and utterly destroyed,' though whether
that was due to the delicacy of the horse, which was only intended for
ornament, or to the 'unresonable and outrajus rydyng' of the purchaser is
not clear. Mules, as we might expect, occasionally gave as much trouble as
horses. There was a Welsh clergyman in the fifteenth century, John Yevan
by name, upon whom a brother clerk, John Grigge, managed to plant a mule
'the whiche he wold not have had, but through the gret labour and desyre
of the said Sir John Grigge he toke the same mule upon his warantie that
he shuld bere hym from Rome to London, orells not to paye therefore.'
Exactly what happened on that journey is not revealed, but the mule would
seem to have proved several degree more aggravating than Modestine in the
Cevennes, for John Yevan 'was fayne and glad to make a cambicion
(exchange) by the waye, to his gret hurte and hynderance,' and felt much
injured at being called upon to account for the missing mule on his
return. The good man's knowledge of legal jargon seems to have been oral
rather than literary, as he invoked the magic of the law by demanding a
'wryte of sorserare,' in which it is not easy to recognise a writ of

[Illustration: '_Hakeney._']

One of the most deadly of vicarious insults was to crop the tails of your
adversary's horses; it would seem to have been as bad as the biblical
custom of cutting off the skirts of his messengers. John Enot, archdeacon
of Buckingham in the fifteenth century, complained tearfully that one
Thomas Coneloye (was he a lawless Irish Connelly?) prevented him from
carrying out his duties in the punishment of sinners and had caused the
tails of his horses to be cut. It was a similar insult to the hot-tempered
Thomas Becket that caused that archbishop's furious denunciation of his
enemies and led to his murder and so to his canonisation, from which it
follows that we owe Chaucer's _Canterbury Tales_ to the curtailment of the
archbishop's horses. From insult to assault is a short journey, and horses
have brought so many to the 'demnition bow-wows,' that I am reminded at
this point of the adventure of the vicar and the dog and the door-key,
which fell out in this wise. William Russell, vicar of Mere in Somerset,
some time during the reign of Henry VI., left his church at five o'clock
one Good Friday evening, having been 'bysyly occupyed all that day before
in hyryng of confessions.' He locked up his church and turned homewards,
but on his way met one of his parishioners, John Totyn, an evil man, 'not
dredyng God ne the censers of the chirche.' Totyn had in his hand a
seven-foot staff with 'a grete pyke of yren' at one end and with him was
'an horryble grete Dogge called a lymer,' and he at once attacked the
vicar and 'provoked and stered his saide dogge to renne upon hym, callyng
hym by his name and saide Hay Dewgarde.' I am not clear whether the dog's
name was Dieugarde, which seems rather unlikely, or Dugald, which is
possible, but I rather incline to the idea that Totyn really said 'good
dog,' with a provincial accent--'Hey! gude darg!' in fact. Anyhow, 'the
saide dogge, knowyng the condicions of his maister, ran upon (the vicar)
and bote hym by the arme in iij places and pullyd hym downe to grounde
twyes and so was likely then to have been murthored by the saide John
Totyn and his dogge,'--the good vicar at the recollection of the exciting
incident becomes oblivious of grammar and changes the subject of his
verbs--'but as God woold he smote the said dogge with the chirche dore key
under his ere, and with that the said dogge departed.' Next day worthy
William Russell trotted off to his patron, the Abbot of Glastonbury, and
showed him his injuries--'his shurte beyng full of blode, his gowne to
torne, his arme sore byten'; but he got cold comfort and scant sympathy.
Totyn was the abbot's servant and the abbot said, 'that that was doon it
was doon in the defence of my man, and it shall coste me xl{_li_} or thou
shalte do my man any wrong, for I lete the wete I wyll defende hym.'

[Illustration: '_... showed him his injuries._']

Dogs of all kinds,--

  'Mastiff, greyhound, mongrel grim,
   Hound or spaniel, brach or lym,
   Or bobtail tike or trundle tail,'

figure often enough in our old records, and often enough got their owners
into trouble for poaching, but they were not so frequently complained of
for assault as might have been expected. I remember coming across one
rather interesting case in which a man complained that a neighbour's dogs
had chased a tame deer belonging to his daughter, and when she interfered
to rescue it had bitten her hands. The keeping of tame deer was common
enough; Edward III. had a tame hind brought from St. Albans to Woodstock
on one occasion, and about a couple of centuries later a Lincolnshire
clergyman, John Barnardiston, rector of Great Coates, for his own
recreation and comfort and the amusement of his friends, 'norysched, kept
and brought up a tame hynde calfe.' Unfortunately he had annoyed Sir
Christopher Askew, who instigated William Morecropp and other 'lyght and
evyll disposed persons' to kill the hind. They discovered where it
frequented day and night and carried it off to Morecropp's house, where
they assembled next day 'with force and aryms; that is to saye wyth
staves, bylles, swordes and bokelers,'--an almost excessive armament for
the purpose,--and slew the unfortunate hind and carried its body to Sir
Christopher, who, when Barnardiston complained, 'lyghtly and wantonly made
a gret game and sport therat' and threatened that worse should befall him
if he did not sit still. While sympathising with the rector for the loss
of his pet, it is difficult to deny that the assembly of half-a-dozen
ruffians fully armed with swords and bucklers to tackle one tame little
fawn suggests the four-and-twenty tailors who set out to kill a snail, and
is not without its ludicrous side.

[Illustration: '_... fully armed with swords and bucklers._']

Printed by T. and A. CONSTABLE, Printers to His Majesty at the Edinburgh
University Press


[1] June 1911.

[2] The record of one of this man's acts of torture is worth preserving,
though it is, for obvious reasons, best left in the original Latin: 'cepit
unum vermem qui vocatur clok [_i.e._ a sheep tick] et posuit infra virgam
Roberti de Alverton et ligavit virgam cum parva corda et posuit ipsum
Robertum super unam cordam et ligavit cordam de una trabe ad aliam et
fecit ipsum moveri super cordam predictam et membra sua frotari quousque
finem fecit pro x marcis.'

Transcriber's Notes:

Passages in italics are indicated by _italics_.

Superscripted characters are indicated by {superscript}.

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to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.