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Title: A History of Domestic Manners and Sentiments in England During the Middle Ages
Author: Wright, Thomas
Language: English
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  During the Middle Ages.







  During the Middle Ages.


  _Hon. M.R.S.L., &c._;

  _Corresponding Member of the Imperial Institute of France_
  (_Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres_).


  Illustrations from the Illuminations in Contemporary Manuscripts
  and other Sources,








  Volume is Dedicated











The object of the following pages is to supply what appeared to be
a want in our popular literature. We have histories of England, and
histories of the Middle Ages, but none of them give us a sufficient
picture of the domestic manners and sentiments of our forefathers at
different periods, a knowledge of which, I need hardly insist, is
necessary to enable us to appreciate rightly the motives with which
people acted, and the spirit which guided them. The subject, too, must
have an interest for many classes of readers, who will be glad to learn
something of the manners of former days, if it were only to see the
contrast with those of our own time, and to discover in them the origin
of many of the characteristics of modern society. Copious and valuable
books have been published in our language on the history of costume, on
that of domestic architecture, on military antiquities, on the history
of religious rites and ceremonies, and on other kindred subjects, which
enable the artist to clothe his personages correctly; but these would
form, after all, but the disjointed skeleton of a picture, without
that further, and perhaps more important, sort of information which is
furnished in the following pages, and which will enable him to give
life to his composition. I have not attempted to compose a very learned
or very elaborate book. The subject is an immensely wide one as regards
the materials, during a large portion of the period which I include;
and to treat it completely would require the close study of the whole
mass of the mediæval literature of Western Europe, edited or inedited,
and of the whole mass of the monuments of mediæval art. But my aim
has been to bring together a sufficient number of plain facts, in a
popular form, to enable the general reader to form a correct view of
English manners and sentiments in the middle ages, and I can venture to
claim for my book at least the merit of being the result of original
research. It is not a compilation from writers who have written on the
subject before.

There are at least two ways of arranging a work like this. I might have
taken each particular division of the subject, one after the other,
and traced it separately through the period of history which this
volume embraces; or the whole subject might be divided into historical
periods, in each of which all the different phases of social history
for that period are included. Each of these plans has its advantages
and defects. In the first, the reader would perhaps obtain a clearer
notion of the history of any particular division of the subject, as
of the history of the table and of diet, or of games and amusements,
or the like, but at the same time it would have required a certain
effort of comparison and study to arrive at a clear view of the
general question at a particular period. The second furnishes this
general view, but entails a certain amount of what might almost be
called repetition. I have chosen the latter plan, because I think this
repetition will be found to be only apparent, and it seems to me the
best arrangement for a popular book.

The division of periods, too, is, on the whole, natural, and not
arbitrary. During the Anglo-Saxon period, the social system, however
developed or modified from time to time, was strictly that of our own
Anglo-Saxon forefathers, and was the undoubted groundwork of our own.
The Norman conquest brought in foreign social manners and sentiments
totally different from those of the Anglo-Saxons, which for a time
predominated, but became gradually incorporated with the Anglo-Saxon
manners and spirit, until, towards the end of the twelfth century,
they formed the English of the middle ages. The Anglo-Norman period,
therefore, may be considered as an age of transition--it may perhaps
be described as that of the struggle between the spirit of Anglo-Saxon
society and feudalism. The thirteenth and fourteenth centuries may
be considered in regard to society as the English middle ages--the
age of feudalism in its English form--and therefore hold properly the
largest space in this volume. The fifteenth century forms again a
distinct period in the history of society--it was that of the decline
and breaking up of feudalism, the close of the middle ages. At the
Reformation, we come to a new transition period--the transition from
mediæval to modern society. This, for several reasons, I regard rather
as a conclusion, than as an integral part, of the history contained in
the following pages, and I therefore give only a light sketch of it,
noticing some of its prominent characteristics. The materials, at this
late period, become so extensive, and so full of interest, that its
history admits of several divisions, each of which is sufficient for
an important book, and I leave them to future researches. One period,
that of the English Commonwealth, is perhaps of greater interest to us
at the present time than any other, because it was that which totally
overthrew the traditions of the middle ages, and inaugurated English
society as it now exists. I know that the history of society at that
period has been studied most profoundly by a friend who is, in all
respects, far more capable of treating it than myself, Mr. Hepworth
Dixon, and from whom I trust we may look forward to a work on the
subject, which will be a most valuable addition to the historical
literature of our time. Knowing that he has been working on this
interesting subject, I have treated this period very slightly. I should
be sorry to let my weeds grow upon his flowers.

A portion of the matter contained in this volume has already appeared
in a series of papers in the _Art-Journal_, but this portion has not
only been carefully revised and partly re-written, but so much addition
has been made, that I believe that more than half the present volume
is entirely new, and the whole may fairly be considered as a new book.
I ought to add that one chapter, that on mediæval cookery (chapter
xvi.) and the brief notices of the history of the horse in the middle
ages, first appeared in papers, contributed by the author to the
_London Review_. It must be stated, too, that the illustrations to my
chapter on mediæval minstrelsies were originally engraved for a series
of papers on the minstrels, by the Rev. E. L. Cutts, published in the
_Art-Journal_, and that I have to thank that gentleman for the ready
willingness with which he has allowed me to use them.

In conclusion, dear Lady Londesborough, I need hardly say that the
study of the histories of the people (instead of that of their rulers)
has always been a favourite study with me; and that in these researches
on mediæval social manners and history, I have always received the warm
sympathy and encouragement of the late Lord Londesborough and of your
Ladyship. In his Lordship I have lost a respected and valued friend,
to whose learned appreciation of the subject of mediæval manners and
mediæval art I could always have recourse with trust and satisfaction,
with whom I have often conversed on the subjects treated of in the
present volume, and whose extensive and invaluable collection of
objects of art of the mediæval period, and of that of the renaissance,
furnished a never-ending source of information and pleasure. It is
therefore with feelings of great personal gratification that I profit
by your kind permission to dedicate this volume to your Ladyship.

  I have the honour to be, dear Lady Londesborough,
  Your Ladyship’s very obedient servant,


  _November 10, 1861_.



  Anglo-Saxon Period.



  ARRANGEMENT OF A SAXON HOUSE                                       1


  BRAWLS                                                            18




  AND CARRIAGES--TRAVELLING--MONEY-DEALINGS                         63

  Anglo-Norman Period.




  SCHOOL--EDUCATION                                                 98

  The English Middle Ages.




  DINNER-TABLE--MINSTRELSY                                         141


  BEVERLEY MINSTRELS                                               175


  HISTORY--DICE--TABLES--DRAUGHTS                                  194


  LAMPS, AND LANTERNS                                              226




  PROMENADE--GARDENING IN THE MIDDLE AGES                          283




  THE ALLOWS                                                       338



  The Fifteenth Century.


  PARLOUR                                                          359




  COFFERS--THE TOILETTE; MIRRORS                                   399


  AND LITERARY OCCUPATIONS; SPECTACLES                             415

  England after the Reformation.


  BANQUET--CUSTOM OF DRINKING HEALTHS                              441




  LOCOMOTION--CONCLUSION                                           482







Much has been written at different times on the costume and some other
circumstances connected with the condition of our forefathers in past
times, but no one has undertaken with much success to treat generally
of the domestic manners of the middle ages. The history of domestic
manners, indeed, is a subject, the materials of which are exceedingly
varied, widely scattered, and not easily brought together; they, of
course, vary in character with the periods to which they relate, and
at certain periods are much rarer than at others. But the interest of
the subject must be felt by every one who appreciates art; for what
avails our knowledge of costume unless we know the manners, the mode
of living, the houses, the furniture, the utensils, of those whom we
have learnt how to clothe? and, without this latter knowledge, history
itself can be but imperfectly understood.

In England, as in most other countries of western Europe, at the period
of the middle ages when we first become intimately acquainted with
them, the manners and customs of their inhabitants were a mixture of
those of the barbarian settlers themselves, and of those which they
found among the conquered Romans; the latter prevailing to a greater or
less extent, according to the peculiar circumstances of the country.
This was certainly the case in England among our Saxon forefathers; and
it becomes a matter of interest to ascertain what were really the types
which belonged to the Saxon race, and to distinguish them from those
which they derived from the Roman inhabitants of our island.

We have only one record of the manners of the Saxons before they
settled in Britain, and that is neither perfect, nor altogether
unaltered--it is the romance of Beowulf, a poem in pure Anglo-Saxon,
which contains internal marks of having been composed before the people
who spoke that language had quitted their settlements on the Continent.
Yet we can hardly peruse it without suspecting that some of its
portraitures are descriptive rather of what was seen in England than of
what existed in the north of Germany. Thus we might almost imagine that
the “street variegated with stones” (_stræt wœs stân-fáh_), along
which the hero Beowulf and his followers proceeded from the shore to
the royal residence of Hrothgar, was a picture of a Roman road as found
in Britain.

It came into the mind of Hrothgar, we are told, that he would cause
to be built a house, “a great mead-hall,” which was to be his chief
palace, or metropolis. The hall-gate, we are informed, rose aloft,
“high and curved with pinnacles” (_heáh and horn-geáp_). It is
elsewhere described as a “lofty house;” the hall was high; it was “fast
within and without, with iron bonds, forged cunningly;” it appears that
there were steps to it, and the roof is described as being variegated
with gold; the walls were covered with tapestry (_web æfter wagum_),
which also was “variegated with gold,” and presented to the view “many
a wondrous sight to every one that looketh upon such.” The walls appear
to have been of wood; we are repeatedly told that the roof was carved
and lofty; the floor is described as being variegated (probably a
tesselated pavement); and the seats were benches arranged round it,
with the exception of Hrothgar’s chair or throne. In the vicinity of
the hall stood the chambers or bowers, in which there were beds (_bed
æfter búrum_).

These few epithets and allusions, scattered through the poem, give us a
tolerable notion of what the house of a Saxon chieftain must have been
in the country from whence our ancestors came, as well as afterwards
in that where they finally settled. The romantic story is taken up
more with imaginary combats with monsters, than with domestic scenes,
but it contains a few incidents of private life. The hall of king
Hrothgar was visited by a monster named Grendel, who came at night to
prey upon its inhabitants; and it was Beowulf’s mission to free them
from this nocturnal scourge. By direction of the primeval coast-guards,
he and his men proceeded by the “street” already mentioned to the hall
of Hrothgar, at the entrance to which they laid aside their armour and
left their weapons. Beowulf found the chief and his followers drinking
their ale and mead, and made known the object of his journey. “Then,”
says the poem, “there was for the sons of the Geats (Beowulf and his
followers), altogether, a bench cleared in the beer-hall; there the
bold of spirit, free from quarrel, went to sit; the thane observed his
office, he that in his hand bare the twisted ale-cup; he poured the
bright sweet liquor; meanwhile the poet sang serene in Heorot (the
name of Hrothgar’s palace), there was joy of heroes.” Thus the company
passed their time, listening to the bard, boasting of their exploits,
and telling their stories, until Wealtheow, Hrothgar’s queen, entered
and “greeted the men in the hall.” She now served the liquor, offering
the cup first to her husband, and then to the rest of the guests, after
which she seated herself by Hrothgar, and the festivities continued
till it was time to retire to bed. Beowulf and his followers were
left to sleep in the hall--“the wine-hall, the treasure-house of men,
variegated with vessels” (_fættum fáhne_). Grendel came in the night,
and after a dreadful combat received his death-wound from Beowulf. The
noise in the hall was great; “a fearful terror fell on the North Danes,
on each of those who from the walls heard the outcry.” These were the
watchmen stationed on the wall forming the chieftain’s palace, that
enclosed the whole mass of buildings (_of wealle_).

As far as we can judge by the description given in the poem, Hrothgar
and his household in their bowers or bed-chambers had heard little of
the tumult, but they went early in the morning to the hall to rejoice
in Beowulf’s victory. There was great feasting again in the hall that
day, and Beowulf and his followers were rewarded with rich gifts.
After dinner the minstrel again took up the harp, and sang some of
the favourite histories of their tribe. “The lay was sung, the song
of the gleeman, the joke rose again, the noise from the benches grew
loud, cup-bearers gave the wine from wondrous vessels.” Then the queen,
“under a golden crown,” again served the cup to Hrothgar and Beowulf.
She afterwards went as before to her seat, and “there was the costliest
of feasts, the men drank wine,” until bed-time arrived a second time.
While their leader appears to have been accommodated with a chamber,
Beowulf’s men again occupied the hall. “They bared the bench-planks;
it was spread all over with beds and bolsters; at their heads they set
their war-rims, the bright shield-wood; there, on the bench, might
easily be seen, above the warrior, his helmet lofty in war, the ringed
mail-shirt, and the solid shield; it was their custom ever to be ready
for war, both in house and in field.”

Grendel had a mother (it was the primitive form of the legend of the
devil and his dam), and this second night she came unexpectedly to
avenge her son, and slew one of Hrothgar’s favourite counsellors and
nobles, who must therefore have also slept in the hall. Beowulf and his
warriors next day went in search of this new marauder, and succeeded
in destroying her, after which exploit they returned to their own home
laden with rich presents.

These sketches of early manners, slight as they may be, are invaluable
to us, in the absence of all other documentary record during several
ages, until after the Anglo-Saxons had been converted to Christianity.
During this long period we have, however, one source of invaluable
information, though of a restricted kind--the barrows or graves of
our primeval forefathers, which contain almost every description of
article that they used when alive. In that solitary document, the
poem of Beowulf, we are told of the arms which the Saxons used, of
the dresses in which they were clad; of the rings, and bracelets, and
ornaments, of which they were proud; of the “solid cup, the valuable
drinking-vessel,” from which they quaffed the mead, or the vases
from which they poured it; but we can obtain no notions of the form
or character of these articles. From the graves, on the contrary, we
obtain a perfect knowledge of the form and design of all these various
articles, without deriving any knowledge as to the manner in which they
were used. The subject now becomes a more extensive one; and in the
Anglo-Saxon barrows in England, we find a mixture, in these articles,
of Anglo-Saxon and Roman, which furnishes a remarkable illustration
of the mixture of the races. We are all perfectly well acquainted
with Roman types; and in the few examples which can be here given of
articles found in early Anglo-Saxon barrows, I shall only introduce
such as will enable us to judge what classes of the subsequent mediæval
types were really derived from pure Saxon or Teutonic originals.

[Illustration: _No. 1. Anglo-Saxon Drinking Glasses._]

It is curious enough that the poet who composed the romance of Beowulf
enumerates among the treasures in the ancient barrow, guarded by the
dragon who was finally slain by his hero, “the dear, or precious
drinking-cup” (_dryncfæt deóre_). Drinking-cups are frequently found in
the Saxon barrows or graves in England. A group, representing the more
usual forms, is given in our cut, No. 1, found chiefly in barrows in
Kent, and preserved in the collections of lord Londesborough and Mr.
Rolfe, the latter of which is now in the possession of Mr. Mayer, of
Liverpool. The example to the left no doubt represents the “twisted”
pattern, so often mentioned in Beowulf, and evidently the favourite
ornament among the early Saxons. All these cups are of glass; they are
so formed that it is evident they could not stand upright, so that it
was necessary to empty them at a draught. This characteristic of the
old drinking-cups is said to have given rise to the modern name of

[Illustration: _No. 2. Germano-Saxon Drinking Glasses._]

That these glass drinking-cups--or, if we like to use the term, these
glasses--were implements peculiar to the Germanic race to which the
Saxons belonged, and not derived from the Romans, we have corroborative
evidence in discoveries made on the Continent. I will only take
examples from some graves of the same early period, discovered at
Selzen, in Rhenish Hesse, an interesting account of which was published
at Maintz, in 1848, by the brothers W. and L. Lindenschmit. In these
graves several drinking-cups were found, also of glass, and resembling
in character the two middle figures in our cut, No. 1. Three specimens
are given in the cut No. 2. In our cut, No. 5, (see page 8), is one
of the cup-shaped glasses, also found in these Hessian graves, which
closely resembles that given in the cut No. 1. None of the cups of
the champagne-glass form, like those found in England, occur in these
foreign barrows.

[Illustration: _No. 3. Anglo-Saxon Pottery._]

[Illustration: _No. 4. Germano-Saxon Pottery._]

We shall find also that the pottery of the later Anglo-Saxon period
presented a mixture of forms, partly derived from those which
had belonged to the Saxon race in their primitive condition, and
partly copied or imitated from those of the Romans. In fact, in our
Anglo-Saxon graves we find much purely Roman pottery intermingled with
earthen vessels of Saxon manufacture; and this is also the case in
Germany. As Roman forms are known to every one, we need only give the
pure Saxon types. Our cut, No. 3, represents five examples, and will
give a sufficient notion of their general character. The two to the
left were taken, with a large quantity more, of similar character,
from a Saxon cemetery at Kingston, near Derby; the vessel in the
middle, and the upper one to the right, are from Kent; and the lower
one to the right is also from the cemetery at Kingston. Several of
these were usually considered as types of ancient British pottery,
until their real character was recently demonstrated, and it is
corroborated by the discovery of similar pottery in what I will term
the Germano-Saxon graves. Four examples from the cemetery at Selzen,
are given in the cut No. 4. We have here not only the rude-formed
vessels with lumps on the side, but also the characteristic ornament
of crosses in circles. The next cut, No. 5, represents two earthen
vessels of another description, found in the graves at Selzen. The one
to the right is evidently the prototype of our modern pitcher. I am
informed there is, in the Museum at Dover, a specimen of pottery of
this shape, taken from an Anglo-Saxon barrow in that neighbourhood;
and Mr. Roach Smith took fragments of another from an Anglo-Saxon
tumulus near the same place. The other variation of the pitcher here
given is remarkable, not on account of similar specimens having been
found, as far as I know, in graves in England, but because vessels of a
similar form are found rather commonly in the Anglo-Saxon illuminated
manuscripts. One of these is given in the group No. 6, which represents
three types of the later Anglo-Saxon pottery, selected from a large
number copied by Strutt from Anglo-Saxon manuscripts. The figure to
the left, in this group, is a later Saxon form of the pitcher; perhaps
the singular form of the handle may have originated in an error of the

[Illustration: _No. 5. Germano-Saxon Pottery and Glass._]

[Illustration: _No. 6. Anglo-Saxon Pottery._]

[Illustration: _No. 7. Anglo-Saxon Bowls._]

[Illustration: _No. 8. Anglo-Saxon Buckets._]

Among the numerous articles of all kinds found in the early Anglo-Saxon
graves, are bowls of metal (generally bronze or copper), often very
thickly gilt, and of elegant forms; they are, perhaps, borrowed from
the Romans. Three examples are given in the cut No. 7, all found in
Kent. They were probably intended for the service of the table. Another
class of utensils found rather commonly in the Anglo-Saxon barrows
are buckets. The first of those represented in our cut, No. 8, was
found in a Saxon barrow near Marlborough, in Wiltshire; the other
was found on the Chatham lines. As far as my own experience goes, I
believe these buckets are usually found with male skeletons, and from
this circumstance, and the fact of their being usually ornamented,
I am inclined to think they served some purposes connected with the
festivities of the hall; probably they were used to carry the ale or
mead. The Anglo-Saxon translation of the Book of Judges (ch. vii.
ver. 20), rendered _hydrias confregissent_ by _to-bræcon tha bucas_,
“they broke the buckets.” A common name for this implement, which
was properly _buc_, was _æscen_, which signified literally a vessel
made of ash, the favourite wood of the Anglo-Saxons. Our cut, No. 9,
represents a bucket of wood with very delicately-formed bronze hoops
and handle, found in a barrow in Bourne Park, near Canterbury. The wood
was entirely decayed; but the hoops and handle are in the collection
of lord Londesborough. Such buckets have, also, been found under
similar circumstances on the Continent. The close resemblance between
the weapons and other instruments found in the English barrows and in
those at Selzen, may be illustrated by a comparison of the two axes
represented in the cut, No. 10. The upper one was found at Selzen;
the lower one is in the Museum of Mr. Rolfe, and was obtained from a
barrow in the Isle of Thanet. The same similarity is observed between
the knives, which is the more remarkable, as the later Anglo-Saxon
knives were quite of a different form. The example, cut No. 11, taken
from a grave at Selzen, is the only instance I know of a knife of this
early period of Saxon history with the handle preserved; it has been
beautifully enamelled. This may be taken as the type of the primitive
Anglo-Saxon knife.

[Illustration: _No. 9. Anglo-Saxon Bucket._]

[Illustration: _No. 10. Anglo-Saxon Axes._]

Having given these few examples of the general forms of the implements
in use among the Saxons before their conversion to Christianity, as
much to illustrate their manners as described by Beowulf, as to show
what classes of types were originally Saxon, we will proceed to treat
of their domestic manners as we learn them from the more numerous and
more definite documents of a later period. We shall find it convenient
to consider the subject separately as it regards in-door life and
out-door life, and it will be proper first that we should form some
definite notion of an Anglo-Saxon house.

[Illustration: _No. 11. Germano-Saxon Knife._]

We can already form some notion of the primeval Saxon mansion from
our brief review of the poem of Beowulf; and we shall find that it
continued nearly the same down to a late period. The most important
part of the building was the hall, on which was bestowed all the
ornamentation of which the builders and decorators of that early period
were capable. Halls built of stone are alluded to in a religious poem
at the beginning of the Exeter book; yet, in the earlier period at
least, there can be little doubt that the materials of building were
chiefly wood. Around, or near this hall, stood, in separate buildings,
the bed-chambers, or bowers (_búr_), of which the latter name is only
now preserved as applied to a summer-house in a garden; but the reader
of old English poetry will remember well the common phrase of a _bird
in bure_, a lady in her bower or chamber. These buildings, and the
household offices, were all grouped within an inclosure, or outward
wall, which, I imagine, was generally of earth, for the Anglo-Saxon
word, _weall_, was applied to an earthen rampart, as well as to
masonry. What is termed in the poem of Judith, _wealles geát_, the gate
of the wall, was the entrance through this inclosure or rampart. I am
convinced that many of the earth-works, which are often looked upon as
ancient camps, are nothing more than the remains of the inclosures of
Anglo-Saxon residences.

In Beowulf, the sleeping-rooms of Hrothgar and his court seem to have
been so completely detached from the hall, that their inmates did not
hear the combat that was going on in the latter building at night. In
smaller houses the sleeping-rooms were fewer, or none, until we arrive
at the simple room in which the inmates had board and lodging together,
with a mere hedge for its inclosure, the prototype of our ordinary
cottage and garden. The wall served for a defence against robbers and
enemies, while, in times of peace and tranquillity, it was a protection
from indiscreet intruders, for the doors of the hall and chambers seem
to have been generally left open. Beggars assembled round the door of
the wall--the _ostium domûs_--to wait for alms.

The vocabularies of the Anglo-Saxon period furnish us with the names
of most of the parts of the ordinary dwellings. The entrance through
the outer wall into the court, the strength of which is alluded to
in early writers, was properly the gate (_geát_). The whole mass
inclosed within this wall constituted the _burh_ (burgh), or tun,
and the inclosed court itself seems to have been designated as the
_cafer-tun_, or _inburh_. The wall of the hall, or of the internal
buildings in general, was called a _wag_, or _wah_, a distinctive word
which remained in use till a late period in the English language, and
seems to have been lost partly through the similarity of sound.[1]
The entrance to the hall, or to the other buildings in the interior,
was the _duru_, or door, which was thus distinguished from the gate.
Another kind of door mentioned in the vocabularies was a _hlid-gata_,
literally a gate with a lid or cover, which was perhaps, however, a
word merely invented to represent the Latin _valva_, which is given as
its equivalent. The _door_ is described in Beowulf as being “fastened
with fire-bands” (_fyr-bendum fæst_, I. 1448), which must mean iron
bars.[2] Either before the door of the hall, or between the door and
the interior apartment, was sometimes a _selde_, literally a shed, but
perhaps we might now call it a portico. The different parts of the
architectural structure of the hall enumerated in the vocabularies
are _stapul_, a post or log set in the ground; _stipere_, a pillar;
_beam_, a beam; _ræfter_, a rafter; _læta_, a lath; _swer_, a column.
The columns supported _bigels_, an arch or vault, or _fyrst_, the
interior of the roof, the ceiling. The _hrof_, or roof, was called
also _thecen_, or _thæcen_, a word derived from the verb _theccan_, to
cover; but although this is the original of our modern word _thatch_,
our readers must not suppose that the Anglo-Saxon _thæcen_ meant what
we call a thatched roof, for we have the Anglo-Saxon word _thæc-tigel_,
a thatch-tile, as well as _hrof-tigel_, a roof-tile. There was
sometimes one story above the ground-floor, for which the vocabularies
give the Latin word _solarium_, the origin of the later mediæval word,
_soler_; but it is evident that this was not common to Anglo-Saxon
houses, and the only name for it was _up-flor_, an upper floor. It was
approached by a _stæger_, so named from the verb _stigan_, to ascend,
and the origin of our modern word _stair_. There were windows to the
hall, which were probably improvements upon the ruder primitive Saxon
buildings, for the only Anglo-Saxon words for a window are _eag-thyrl_,
an eye-hole, and _eag-duru_, an eye-door.

We have unfortunately no special descriptions of Anglo-Saxon houses,
but scattered incidents in the Anglo-Saxon historians show us that
this general arrangement of the house lasted down to the latest
period of their monarchy. Thus, in the year 755, Cynewulf, king of
the West Saxons, was murdered at Merton by the atheling Cyneard. The
circumstances of the story are but imperfectly understood, unless we
bear in mind the above description of a house. Cynewulf had gone to
Merton privately, to visit a lady there, who seems to have been his
mistress, and he only took a small party of his followers with him.
Cyneard, having received information of this visit, assembled a body
of men, entered the inclosure of the house unperceived (as appears by
the context), and surrounded the detached chamber (_búr_) in which was
the king with the lady. The king, taken by surprise, rushed to the
door (_on tha duru eode_), and was there slain fighting. The king’s
attendants, although certainly within the inclosure of the house, were
out of hearing of this sudden fray (they were probably in the hall),
but they were roused by the woman’s screams, rushed to the spot, and
fought till, overwhelmed by the numbers of their enemies, they also
were all slain. The murderers now took possession of the house, and
shut the entrance gate of the wall of inclosure, to protect themselves
against the body of the king’s followers who had been left at a
distance. These, next day, when they heard what had happened, hastened
to the spot, attacked the house, and continued fighting around the gate
(_ymb thá gatu_) until they made their way in, and slew all the men
who were there. Again, we are told, in the Ramsey Chronicle published
by Gale, of a rich man in the Danish period, who was oppressive to
his people, and, therefore, suspicious of them. He accordingly had
four watchmen every night, chosen alternately from his household,
who kept guard at the outside of his hall, evidently for the purpose
of preventing his enemies from being admitted into the inclosure by
treachery. He lay in his chamber, or bower. One night, the watchmen
having drunk more than usual, were unguarded in their speech, and
talked together of a plot into which they had entered against the life
of their lord. He, happening to be awake, heard their conversation from
his chamber, and defeated their project. We see here the chamber of the
lord of the mansion so little substantial in its construction that its
inmates could hear what was going on out of doors. At a still later
period, a Northumbrian noble, whom Hereward visited in his youth, had a
building for wild beasts within his house or inclosure. One day a bear
broke loose, and immediately made for the chamber or bower of the lady
of the household, in which she had taken shelter with her women, and
whither, no doubt, the savage animal was attracted by their cries. We
gather from the context that this asylum would not have availed them,
had not young Hereward slain the bear before it reached them. In fact,
the lady’s chamber was still only a detached room, probably with a very
weak door, which was not capable of withstanding any force.

The Harleian Manuscript, No. 603 (in the British Museum), contains
several illustrations of Anglo-Saxon domestic architecture, most of
which are rather sketchy and indefinite; but there is one picture
(fol. 57, v^o.) which illustrates, in a very interesting manner, the
distribution of the house. Of this, an exact copy is given in the
accompanying cut, No. 12.[3] The manuscript is, perhaps, as old as
the ninth century, and the picture here given illustrates Psalm cxi.,
in the Vulgate version, the description of the just and righteous
chieftain: the beggars are admitted within the inclosure (where the
scene is laid), to receive the alms of the lord; and he and his lady
are occupied in distributing bread to them, while his servants are
bringing out of one of the bowers raiment to clothe the naked. The
larger building behind, ending in a sort of round tower with a cupola,
is evidently the hall--the stag’s head seems to mark its character.
The buildings to the left are chambers or bowers; to the right is the
domestic chapel, and the little room attached is perhaps the chamber of
the chaplain.

[Illustration: _No. 12. Anglo-Saxon Mansion._]

It is evidently the intention in this picture to represent the walls of
the rooms as being formed, in the lower part, of masonry, with timber
walls above, and all the windows are in the timber walls. If we make
allowance for want of perspective and proportion in the drawing, it is
probable that only a small portion of the elevation was masonry, and
that the wooden walls (_parietes_) were raised above it, as is very
commonly the case in old timber-houses still existing. The greater
portion of the Saxon houses were certainly of timber; in Alfric’s
colloquy, it is the carpenter, or worker in wood (_se treo-wyrhta_),
who builds houses; and the very word to express the operation of
building, _timbrian_, _getimbrian_, signified literally to construct of
timber. We observe in the above representation of a house, that none
of the buildings have more than a ground-floor, and this seems to have
been a characteristic of the houses of all classes. The Saxon word
_flór_ is generally used in the early writers to represent the Latin
_pavimentum_. Thus the “variegated floor” (_on fágre flór_) of the hall
mentioned in Beowulf (l. 1454) was a paved floor, perhaps a tessellated
pavement; as the road spoken of in an earlier part of the poem (_stræt
wæs stán-fáh_, the street was stone-variegated, l. 644) describes a
paved Roman road. The term upper-floor occurs once or twice, but only
I think in translating from foreign Latin writers. The only instance
that occurs to my memory of an upper-floor in an Anglo-Saxon house, is
the story of Dunstan’s council at Calne in 978, when, according to the
Saxon Chronicle, the _witan_, or council, fell from an upper-floor (_of
ane úp-floran_), while Dunstan himself avoided their fate by supporting
himself on a beam (_uppon anum beame_). The buildings in the above
picture are all roofed with tiles of different forms, evidently copied
from the older Roman roof-tiles. Perhaps the flatness of these roofs
is only to be considered as a proof of the draughtsman’s ignorance of
perspective. One of Alfric’s homilies applies the epithet _steep_ to a
roof--_on tham sticelan hrofe_. The hall is not unfrequently described
as lofty.

The collective house had various names in Anglo-Saxon. It was called
_hús_, a house, a general term for all residences great or small; it
was called _heal_, or hall, because that was the most important part
of the building--we still call gentlemen’s seats halls; it was called
_ham_, as being the residence or home of its possessor; and it was
called _tún_, in regard of its inclosure.

The Anglo-Saxons chose for their country-houses a position which
commanded a prospect around, because such sites afforded protection
at the same time that they enabled the possessor to overlook his own
landed possessions. The Ramsey Chronicle, describing the beautiful
situation of the mansion at “Schitlingdonia” (Shitlington), in
Bedfordshire, tells us that the surrounding country lay spread out like
a panorama from the door of the hall--_ubi ab ostio aulæ tota fere
villa et late patens ager arabilis oculis subjacet intuentis_.



The introductory observations in the preceding chapter will be
sufficient to show that the mode of life, the vessels and utensils, and
even the residences of the Anglo-Saxons, were a mixture of those they
derived from their own forefathers with those which they borrowed from
the Romans, whom they found established in Britain. It is interesting
to us to know that we have retained the ordinary forms of pitchers and
basins, and, to a certain degree, of drinking vessels, which existed
so many centuries ago among our ancestors before they established
themselves in this island. The beautiful forms which had been brought
from the classic south were not able to supersede national habit. Our
modern houses derive more of their form and arrangement from those of
our Saxon forefathers than from any other source. We have seen that
the original Saxon arrangement of a house was preserved by that people
to the last; but it does not follow that they did not sometimes adopt
the Roman houses they found standing, although they seem never to have
imitated them. I believe Bulwer’s description of the Saxonised Roman
house inhabited by Hilda, to be founded in truth. Roman villas, when
uncovered at the present day, are sometimes found to have undergone
alterations which can only be explained by supposing that they were
made when later possessors adapted them to Saxon manners. Such
alterations appear to me to be visible in the villa at Hadstock, in
Essex, opened by the late lord Braybrooke; in one place the outer wall
seems to have been broken through to make a new entrance, and a road of
tiles, which was supposed to have been the bottom of a water course,
was more probably the paved pathway made by the Saxon possessor.
Houses in those times were seldom of long duration; we learn from the
domestic anecdotes given in saints’ legends and other writings, that
they were very frequently burnt by accidental fires; thus the main
part of the house, the timber-work, was destroyed; and as ground was
then not valuable, and there was no want of space, it was much easier
to build a new house in another spot, and leave the old foundations
till they were buried in rubbish and earth, than to clear them away in
order to rebuild on the same site. Earth soon accumulated under such
circumstances; and this accounts for our finding, even in towns, so
much of the remains of the houses of an early period undisturbed at a
considerable depth under the present surface of the ground.

It has already been observed that the most important part of the Saxon
house was the hall. It was the place where the household (_hired_)
collected round their lord and protector, and where the visitor or
stranger was first received,--the scene of hospitality. The householder
there held open-house, for the hall was the public apartment, the doors
of which were never shut against those who, whether known or unknown,
appeared worthy of entrance. The reader of Saxon history will remember
the beautiful comparison made by one of king Edwin’s chieftains in the
discussion on the reception to be given to the missionary Paulinus.
“The present life of man, O king, seems to me, in comparison of that
time which is unknown to us, like to the swift flight of a sparrow
through the hall where you sit at your meal in winter, with your chiefs
and attendants, warmed by a fire made in the middle of the hall, whilst
storms of rain or snow prevail without; the sparrow, flying in at one
door and immediately out at another, whilst he is visible is safe
from the wintry storm, but after this short space of fair weather, he
immediately vanishes out of your sight, into the dark winter from which
he had emerged.” Dining in private was always considered disgraceful,
and is mentioned as a blot in a man’s character.

Internally, the walls of the hall were covered with hangings or
tapestry, which were called in Anglo-Saxon _wah-hrægel_, or _wah-rift_,
wall-clothing. These appear sometimes to have been mere plain cloths,
but at other times they were richly ornamented, and not unfrequently
embroidered with historical subjects. So early as the seventh century,
Aldhelm speaks of the hangings or curtains being dyed with purple
and other colours, and ornamented with images, and he adds that “if
finished of one colour uniform they would not seem beautiful to
the eye.” Among the Saxon wills printed by Hickes, we find several
bequests of _heall wah-riftas_, or wall-tapestries for the hall; and it
appears that, in some cases, tapestries of a richer and more precious
character than those in common use were reserved to be hung up only
on extraordinary festivals. There were hooks, or pegs, on the wall,
upon which various objects were hung for convenience. In an anecdote
told in the contemporary life of Dunstan, he is made to hang his harp
against the wall of the room. Arms and armour, more especially, were
hung against the wall of the hall. The author of the “Life of Hereward”
describes the Saxon insurgents who had taken possession of Ely, as
suspending their arms in this manner; and in one of the riddles in the
Exeter Book, a war-vest is introduced speaking of itself thus:--

    _hwilum hongige,_        _Sometimes I hang,_
    _hyrstum frœtwed,_       _with ornaments adorned,_
    _wlitig on wage,_        _splendid on the wall,_
    _þær weras drinceð,_     _where men drink,_
    _freolic fyrd-sceorp._   _a goodly war-vest._--Exeter Book, p. 395.

We have no allusion in Anglo-Saxon writers to chimneys, or fireplaces,
in our modern acceptation of the term. When necessary, the fire seems
to have been made on the floor, in the place most convenient. We find
instances in the early saints’ legends where the hall was burnt by
incautiously lighting the fire too near the wall. Hence it seems to
have been usually placed in the middle, and there can be little doubt
that there was an opening, or, as it was called in later times, a
louver, in the roof above, for the escape of the smoke. The historian
Bede describes a Northumbrian king, in the middle of the seventh
century, as having, on his return from hunting, entered the hall with
his attendants, and all standing round the fire to warm themselves. A
somewhat similar scene, but in more humble life, is represented in the
accompanying cut, taken from a manuscript calendar of the beginning
of the eleventh century (MS. Cotton. Julius, A. iv.). The material
for feeding the fire is wood, which the man to the left is bringing
from a heap, while his companion is administering to the fire with a
pair of Saxon tongs (_tangan_). The vocabularies give _tange_, tongs,
and _bylig_, bellows; and they speak of _col_, coal (explained by the
Latin _carbo_), and _synder_, a cinder (_scorium_). As all these are
Saxon words, and not derived from the Latin, we may suppose that they
represent things known to the Anglo-Saxon race from an early period;
and as charcoal does not produce _scorium_, or cinder, it is perhaps
not going too far to suppose that the Anglo-Saxons were acquainted with
the use of mineral coal. We know nothing of any other fire utensils,
except that the Anglo-Saxons used a _fyr-scofl_, or fire-shovel. The
place in which the fire was made was the _heorth_, or hearth.

[Illustration: _No. 13. A Party at the Fire._]

The furniture of the hall appears to have been very simple, for it
consisted chiefly of benches. These had carpets and cushions; the
former are often mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon wills. The Anglo-Saxon
poems speak of the hall as being “adorned with treasures,” from which
we are perhaps justified in believing that it was customary to display
there in some manner or other the richer and more ornamental of the
household vessels. Perhaps one end of the hall was raised higher than
the rest for the lord of the household, like the _dais_ of later times,
as Anglo-Saxon writers speak of the _heah-setl_, or high seat. The
table can hardly be considered as furniture, in the ordinary sense of
the word: it was literally, according to its Anglo-Saxon name _bord_, a
board that was brought out for the occasion, and placed upon tressels,
and taken away as soon as the meal was ended. Among the inedited
Latin _ænigmata_, or riddles, of the Anglo-Saxon writer Tahtwin, who
flourished at the beginning of the eighth century, is one on a _table_,
which is curious enough to be given here, from the manuscript in the
British Museum (MS. Reg. 12, C. xxiii.). The table, speaking in
its own person, says that it is in the habit of feeding people with
all sorts of viands; that while so doing it is a quadruped, and is
adorned with handsome clothing; that afterwards it is robbed of all it
possesses, and when it has been thus robbed it loses its legs:--


    _Multiferis omnes dapibus saturare solesco,_
    _Quadrupedem hinc felix ditem me sanxerit ætas,_
    _Esse tamen pulchris fatim dum vestibus orner,_
    _Certatim me prædones spoliare solescunt,_
    _Raptis nudata exuviis mox membra relinquunt._

In the illuminated manuscripts, wherever dinner scenes are represented,
the table is always covered with what is evidently intended for a
handsome table-cloth, the _myse-hrægel_ or _bord-clath_. The grand
preparation for dinner was _laying the board_; and it is from this
original character of the table that we derive our ordinary expression
of receiving any one “to _board_ and lodging.”

The hall was peculiarly the place for eating--and for drinking. The
Anglo-Saxons had three meals in the day,--the breaking of their fast
(breakfast), at the third hour of the day, which answered to nine
o’clock in the morning, according to our reckoning; the _ge-reordung_
(repast), or _nón-mete_ (noon-meat) or dinner, which is stated to
have been held at the canonical hour of noon, or three o’clock in
the afternoon; and the _æfen-gereord_ (evening repast), _æfen-gyfl_
(evening food), _æfen-mete_ (evening meat), _æfen-thenung_ (evening
refreshment), or supper, the hour of which is uncertain. It is
probable, from many circumstances, that the latter was a meal not
originally in use among our Saxon forefathers: perhaps their only meal
at an earlier period was the dinner, which was always their principal
repast; and we may, perhaps, consider noon as midday, and not as
meaning the canonical hour.

As I have observed before, the table, from the royal hall down to the
most humble of those who could afford it, was not refused to strangers.
When they came to the hall-door, the guests were required to leave
their arms in the care of a porter or attendant, and then, whether
known or not, they took their place at the tables. One of the laws of
king Cnut directs, that if, in the meantime, any one took the weapon
thus deposited, and did hurt with it, the owner should be compelled
to clear himself of suspicion of being cognisant of the use to be
made of his arms when he laid them down. History affords us several
remarkable instances of the facility of approach even to the tables of
kings during the Saxon period. It was this circumstance that led to
the murder of king Edmund in 946. On St. Augustin’s day, the king was
dining at his manor of Pucklechurch, in Gloucestershire; a bandit named
Leofa, whom the king had banished for his crimes, and who had returned
without leave from exile, had the effrontery to place himself at the
royal table, by the side of one of the principal nobles of the court;
the king alone recognised him, rose from his seat to expel him from the
hall, and received his death-wound in the struggle. In the eleventh
century, when Hereward went in disguise as a spy to the court of a
Cornish chieftain, he entered the hall while they were feasting, took
his place among the guests, and was but slightly questioned as to who
he was and whence he came.

[Illustration: _No. 14. An Anglo-Saxon Dinner-Party Pledging._]

In the early illuminated manuscripts, dinner scenes are by no means
uncommon. The cut, No. 14 (taken from Alfric’s version of Genesis, MS.
Cotton. Claudius, B. iv., fol. 36, v^o), represents Abraham’s feast on
the birth of his child. The guests are sitting at an ordinary long hall
table, ladies and gentlemen being mixed together without any apparent
special arrangement. This manuscript is probably of the beginning of
the eleventh century. The cut, No. 15, represents another dinner scene,
from a manuscript probably of the tenth century (Tiberius, C. vi.,
fol. 5, v^o), and presents several peculiarities. The party here is
a very small one, and they sit at a round table. The attendants seem
to be serving them, in a very remarkable manner, with roast meats,
which they bring to table on the spits (_spitu_) as they were roasted.
Another festive scene is represented in the cut, No. 16, taken from
a manuscript of the Psychomachia of the poet Prudentius (MS. Cotton.
Cleopatra, C. viii., fol. 15, r^o). The table is again a round one, at
which Luxury and her companions are seated at supper (_seo Galnes æt
hyre æfen-ge-reordum sitt_).

[Illustration: _No. 15. Anglo-Saxons at Dinner._]

It will be observed that in these pictures, the tables are tolerably
well covered with vessels of different kinds, with the exception
of plates. There are one or two dishes of different sizes in fig.
14, intended, no doubt, for holding bread and other articles; it
was probably an utensil borrowed from the Romans, as the Saxon name
_disc_ was evidently taken from the Latin _discus_. It is not easy to
identify the forms of vessels given in these pictures with the words
which are found in the Anglo-Saxon language, in which the general term
for a vessel is _fæt_, a vat; _crocca_, a pot or pitcher, no doubt of
earthenware, is preserved in the modern English word crockery; and
_bolla_, a bowl, _orc_, a basin, _bledu_ and _mele_, each answering to
the Latin _patera_, _læfel_ and _ceac_, a pitcher or urn, _hnæp_, a
cup (identical in name with the _hanap_ of a later period), _flaxe_, a
flask, are all pure Anglo-Saxon words. Many of the forms represented in
the manuscripts are recognised at once as identical with those which
are found in the earlier Anglo-Saxon graves. In the vocabularies, the
Latin word _amphora_ is translated by _crocca_, a crock; and _lagena_
by _æscen_, which means a vessel made of ash wood, and was, in all
probability, identical with the small wooden buckets so often found in
the early Saxon graves. In a document preserved in Heming’s chartulary
of Canterbury, mention is made of “an _æscen_, which is otherwise
called a back-bucket” (_æscen the is othre namon hrygilebuc gecleopad_,
Heming, p. 393), which strongly confirms the opinion I have adopted as
to the purpose of the bucket found in the graves.

[Illustration: _No. 16. A Supper Party._]

The food of the Anglo-Saxons appears to have been in general rather
simple in character, although we hear now and then of great feasts,
probably consisting more in the quantity of provisions than in any
great variety or refinement in gastronomy. Bread formed the staple,
which the Anglo-Saxons appear to have eaten in great quantities,
with milk, and butter, and cheese. A domestic was termed a man’s
_hlaf-ætan_, or loaf-eater. There is a curious passage in one of
Alfric’s homilies, that on the life of St. Benedict, where, speaking
of the use of oil in Italy, the Anglo-Saxon writer observes, “they
eat oil in that country with their food as we do butter.” Vegetables
(_wyrtan_) formed a considerable portion of the food of our forefathers
at this period; beans (_beana_) are mentioned as articles of food, but
I remember no mention of the eating of peas (_pisan_) in Anglo-Saxon
writers. A variety of circumstances show that there was a great
consumption of fish, as well as of poultry. Of flesh meat, bacon
(_spic_) was the most abundant, for the extensive oak forests nourished
innumerable droves of swine. Much of their other meat was salted, and
the place in which the salt meat was kept was called, on account of
the great preponderance of the bacon, a _spic-hus_, or bacon-house;
in latter times, for the same reason, named the larder. The practice
of eating so much salt meat explains why boiling seems to have been
the prevailing mode of cooking it. In the manuscript of Alfric’s
translation of Genesis, already mentioned, we have a figure of a
boiling vessel (No. 17), which is placed over the fire on a tripod.
This vessel was called a pan (_panna_--one Saxon writer mentions _isen
panna_, an iron pan) or a kettle (_cytel_). It is very curious to
observe how many of our trivial expressions at the present day are
derived from very ancient customs; thus, for example, we speak of “a
kettle of fish,” though what we now term a kettle would hardly serve
for this branch of cookery. In another picture (No. 18) we have a
similar boiling vessel, placed similarly on a tripod, while the cook
is using a very singular utensil to stir the contents. Bede speaks
of a goose being taken down from a wall to be _boiled_. It seems
probable that in earlier times among the Anglo-Saxons, and perhaps at
a later period, in the case of large feasts, the cooking was done
out of doors. The only words in the Anglo-Saxon language for cook and
kitchen, are _cóc_ and _cycene_, taken from the Latin _coquus_ and
_coquina_, which seems to show that they only improved their rude
manner of living in this respect after they had become acquainted with
the Romans. Besides boiled meats, they certainly had roast, or broiled,
which they called _bræde_, meat which had been spread or displayed to
the fire. The vocabularies explain the Latin _coctus_ by “boiled or
baked” (_gesoden_, _gebacen_). They also fried meat, which was then
called _hyrstyng_, and the vessel in which it was fried was called
_hyrsting-panne_, a frying-pan. Broth, also (_broth_), was much in use.

[Illustration: _No. 17. A Saxon Kettle._]

[Illustration: _No. 18. A Saxon Cook._]

In the curious colloquy of Alfric (a dialogue made to teach the
Anglo-Saxon youth the Latin names for different articles), three
professions are mentioned as requisite to furnish the table:
first, the salter, who stored the store-rooms (_cleafan_) and
cellars (_hedderne_), and without whom they could not have butter
(_butere_)--they always used salt butter--or cheese (_cyse_); next, the
baker, without whose handiwork, we are told, every table would seem
empty; and lastly, the cook. The work of the latter appears not at this
time to have been very elaborate. “If you expel me from your society,”
he says, “you will be obliged to eat your vegetables green, and your
flesh-meat raw, nor can you have any fat broth.” “We care not,” is
the reply, “for we can ourselves cook our provisions, and spread them
on the table.” Instead of grounding his defence on the difficulties
of his profession, the cook represents that in this case, instead of
having anybody to wait upon them, they would be obliged to be their
own servants. It may be observed, as indicating the general prevalence
of boiling food, that in the above account of the cook, the Latin word
_coquere_ is rendered by the Anglo-Saxon _seothan_, to boil.[4] Our
words _cook_ and _kitchen_ are the Anglo-Saxon _cóc_ and _cycene_, and
have no connection with the French _cuisine_.

We may form some idea of the proportions in the consumption of
different kinds of provisions among our Saxon forefathers, by the
quantities given on certain occasions to the monasteries. Thus,
according to the Saxon Chronicle, the occupier of an estate belonging
to the abbey of Medeshamstede (Peterborough) in 852, was to furnish
yearly sixty loads of wood for firing, twelve of coal (_græfa_), six of
fagots, two tuns of pure ale, two beasts fit for slaughter, six hundred
loaves, and ten measures of Welsh ale.

[Illustration: _No. 19. Anglo-Saxons at Table._]

It will be observed in the dinner scenes given above, that the guests
are helping themselves with their hands. Forks were totally unknown to
the Anglo-Saxons for the purpose of carrying the food to the mouth, and
it does not appear that every one at table was furnished with a knife.
In the cut, No. 19 (taken from MS. Harl. No. 603, fol. 12, r^o.), a
party at table are eating without forks or knives. It will be observed
here, as in the other pictures of this kind, that the Anglo-Saxon bread
(_hlaf_) is in the form of round cakes, much like the Roman loaves
in the pictures at Pompeii, and not unlike our cross-buns at Easter,
which are no doubt derived from our Saxon forefathers. Another party at
dinner without knives or forks is represented in the cut No. 20, taken
from the same manuscript (fol. 51, v^o.). The tables here are without
table-cloths. The use of the fingers in eating explains to us why it
was considered necessary to wash the hands before and after the meal.

[Illustration: _No. 20. Anglo-Saxons at Table._]

The knife (_cnif_), as represented in the Saxon illuminations, has a
peculiar form, quite different from that of the earlier knife found in
the graves, but resembling rather closely the form of the modern razor.
Several of these Saxon knives have been found, and one of them, dug up
in London, and now in the interesting museum collected by Mr. Roach
Smith, is represented in the accompanying cut, No. 21.[5] The blade,
of steel (_style_), which is the only part preserved, has been inlaid
with bronze.

When the repast was concluded, and the hands of the guests washed,
the tables appear to have been withdrawn from the hall, and the party
commenced drinking. From the earliest times, this was the occupation
of the after part of the day, when no warlike expedition or pressing
business hindered it. The lord and his chief guests sat at the high
seat, while the others sat round on benches. An old chronicler,
speaking of a Saxon dinner party, says, “after dinner they went to
their cups, to which the English were very much accustomed.”[6] This
was the case even with the clergy, as we learn from many of the
ecclesiastical laws. In the Ramsey History printed by Gale, we are told
of a Saxon bishop who invited a Dane to his house in order to obtain
some land from him, and to drive a better bargain, he determined to
make him drunk. He therefore pressed him to stay to dinner, and “when
they had all eaten enough, the tables were taken away, and they passed
the rest of the day, till evening, drinking. He who held the office of
cup-bearer, managed that the Dane’s turn at the cup came round oftener
than the others, as the bishop had directed him.” We know by the story
of Dunstan and king Eadwy, that it was considered a great mark of
disrespect to the guests, even in a king, to leave the drinking early
after dinner.

[Illustration: _No. 21. An Anglo-Saxon Knife._]

Our cut, No. 22, taken from the Anglo-Saxon calendar already mentioned
(MS. Cotton. Julius, A. vi.), represents a party sitting at the
_heah-setl_, the high seat, or dais, drinking after dinner. It is the
lord of the household and his chief friends, as is shown by their
attendant guard of honour. The cup-bearer, who is serving them, has a
napkin in his hand. The seat is furnished with cushions, and the three
persons seated on it appear to have large napkins or cloths spread over
their knees. Similar cloths are evidently represented in our cut No.
16. Whether these are the _setl-hrœgel_, or seat-cloths, mentioned in
some of the Anglo-Saxon wills, is uncertain.

[Illustration: _No. 22. An Anglo-Saxon Drinking Party._]

It will be observed that the greater part of the drinking-cups bear
a resemblance in form to those of the more ancient period which we
find in Anglo-Saxon graves, and of which some examples have been
given in the preceding chapter. We cannot tell whether those seen
in the pictures be intended for glass or other material; but it is
certain that the Anglo-Saxons were ostentatious of drinking-cups
and other vessels made of the precious metals. Sharon Turner, in
his History of the Anglo-Saxons, has collected together a number of
instances of such valuable vessels. In one will, three silver cups
are bequeathed; in another, four cups, two of which were of the value
of four pounds; in another, four silver cups, a cup with a fringed
edge, a wooden cup variegated with gold, a wooden knobbed cup, and
two very handsome drinking-cups (_smicere scencing-cuppan_). Other
similar documents mention a golden cup, with a golden dish; a gold cup
of immense weight; a dish adorned with gold, and another with Grecian
workmanship (probably brought from Byzantium). A lady bequeathed a
golden cup weighing four marks and a half. Mention of silver cups,
silver basins, &c., is of frequent occurrence. In 833, a king gave
his gilt cup, engraved outside with vine-dressers fighting dragons,
which he called his cross-bowl, because it had a cross marked within
it, and it had four angles projecting, also like a cross. These cups
were given frequently as marks of affection and remembrance. The lady
Ethelgiva presented to the abbey of Ramsey, among other things, “two
silver cups, for the use of the brethren in the refectory, in order
that, while drink is served in them to the brethren at their repast,
my memory may be more firmly imprinted on their hearts.”[7] It is a
curious proof of the value of such vessels, that in the pictures of
warlike expeditions, where two or three articles are heaped together
as a kind of symbolical representation of the value of the spoils,
vessels of the table and drinking-cups and drinking-horns are generally
included. Our cut, No. 23, represents one of these groups (taken from
the Cottonian Manuscript, Claudius, C. viii.); it contains a crown, a
bracelet or ring, two drinking-horns, a jug, and two other vessels.
The drinking-horn was in common use among the Anglo-Saxons. It is seen
on the table or in the hands of the drinkers in more than one of our
cuts. In the will of one Saxon lady, two buffalo-horns are mentioned;
three horns worked with gold and silver are mentioned in one inventory;
and we find four horns enumerated among the effects of a monastic
house. The Mercian king Witlaf, with somewhat of the sentiment of the
lady Ethelgiva, gave to the abbey of Croyland the horn of his table,
“that the elder monks may drink from it on festivals, and in their
benedictions remember sometimes the soul of the donor.”

[Illustration: _No. 23. Articles of Value._]

The liquors drunk by the Saxons were chiefly ale and mead; the immense
quantity of honey that was then produced in this country, as we learn
from Domesday-book and other records, shows us how great must have
been the consumption of the latter article. Welsh ale is especially
spoken of. Wine was also in use, though it was an expensive article,
and was in a great measure restricted to persons above the common rank.
According to Alfric’s Colloquy, the merchant brought from foreign
countries wine and oil; and when the scholar is asked why he does not
drink wine, he says he is not rich enough to buy it, “and wine is not
the drink of children or fools, but of elders and wise men.” There
were, however, vineyards in England in the times of the Saxons, and
wine was made from them; but they were probably rare, and chiefly
attached to the monastic establishments. William of Malmesbury speaks
of a vineyard attached to his monastery, which was first planted at the
beginning of the eleventh century by a Greek monk who settled there,
and who spent all his time in cultivating it.

In their drinking, the Anglo-Saxons had various festive ceremonies,
one of which is made known to us by the popular story of the lady
Rowena and the British king. When the ale or wine was first served, the
drinkers pledged each other, with certain phrases of wishing health,
not much unlike the mode in which we still take wine with each other
at table, or as people of the less refined classes continue to drink
the first glass to the health of the company; but among the Saxons the
ceremony was accompanied with a kiss. In our cut, No. 14, the party
appear to be pledging each other.

[Illustration: _No. 24. Drinking and Minstrelsy._]

[Illustration: _No. 25. An Anglo-Saxon Fithelere._]

The Anglo-Saxon potations were accompanied with various kinds of
amusements. One of these was telling stories, and recounting the
exploits of themselves or of their friends. Another was singing their
national poetry, to which the Saxons were much attached. In the less
elevated class, where professed minstrels were not retained, each
guest was minstrel in his turn. Cædmon, as his story is related by
Bede, became a poet through the emulation thus excited. One of the
ecclesiastical canons enacted under king Edgar enjoins “that no priest
be a minstrel at the ale (_ealu-scóp_), nor in any wise act the
gleeman (_gliwige_), with himself or with other men.” In the account
of the murder of king Ethelbert in Herefordshire, by the treachery
of Offa’s wicked queen (A.D. 792), we are told that the royal party,
after dinner, “spent the whole day with music and dancing in great
glee.” The cut, No. 24 (taken from the Harl. MS., No. 603), is a
perfect illustration of this incident of Saxon story. The cup-bearer is
serving the guest with wine from a vessel which is evidently a Saxon
imitation of the Roman amphora; it is perhaps the Anglo-Saxon _sester_
or _sæster_; a word, no doubt, taken from the Latin sextarius, and
carrying with it, in general, the notion of a certain measure. In Saxon
translations from the Latin, _amphora_ is often rendered by _sester_.
We have here a choice party of minstrels and gleemen. Two are occupied
with the harp, which appears, from a comparison of Beowulf with the
later writers, to have been the national instrument. It is not clear
from the picture whether the two men are playing both on the same
harp, or whether one is merely holding the instrument for the other.
Another is perhaps intended to represent the Anglo-Saxon _fithelere_,
playing on the _fithele_ (the modern English words _fiddler_ and
_fiddle_); but his instrument appears rather to be the cittern, which
was played with the fingers, not with the bow. Another representation
of this performer, from the same manuscript, is given in the cut No.
25, where the instrument is better defined. The other two minstrels,
in No. 24, are playing on the horn, or on the Saxon _pip_, or pipe.
The two dancers are evidently a man and a woman, and another lady to
the extreme right seems preparing to join in the same exercise. We
know little of the Anglo-Saxon mode of dancing, but to judge by the
words used to express this amusement, _hoppan_ (to hop), _saltian_
and _stellan_ (to leap), and _tumbian_ (to tumble), it must have been
accompanied with violent movements. Our cut No. 26 (from the Cottonian
MS., Cleopatra, C. viii. fol. 16, v^o), represents another party of
minstrels, one of whom, a female, is dancing, while the other two
are playing on a kind of cithara and on the Roman double flute. The
Anglo-Saxon names for the different kinds of musicians most frequently
spoken of were _hearpere_, the harper; _bymere_, the trumpeter;
_pipere_, the player on the pipe or flute; _fithelere_, the fiddler;
and _horn-blawere_, the horn-blower. The _gligman_, or _gleeman_, was
the same who, at a later period, was called, in Latin, _joculator_,
and, in French, a _jougleur_; and another performer, called _truth_, is
interpreted as a stage player, but was probably some performer akin to
the gleeman. The harp seems to have stood in the highest rank, or, at
least, in the highest popularity, of musical instruments; it was termed
poetically the _gleó-beam_, or the glee-wood.

[Illustration: _No. 26. Anglo-Saxon Minstrels._]

Although it was considered a very fashionable accomplishment among
the Anglo-Saxons to be a good singer of verses and a good player on
the harp, yet the professed minstrel, who went about to every sort of
joyous assemblage, from the festive hall to the village wake, was a
person not esteemed respectable. He was beneath consideration in any
other light than as affording amusement, and as such he was admitted
everywhere, without examination. It was for this reason that Alfred,
and subsequently Athelstan, found such easy access in this garb to
the camps of their enemies; and it appears to have been a common
disguise for such purposes. The group given in the last cut (No. 26)
are intended to represent the persons characterised in the text (of
Prudentius) by the Latin word _ganeones_ (vagabonds, ribalds), which is
there glossed by the Saxon term gleemen (_ganeonum_, _gliwig-manna_).
Besides music and dancing, they seem to have performed a variety of
tricks and jokes, to while away the tediousness of a Saxon afternoon,
or excite the coarse mirth of the peasant. That such performers,
resembling in many respects the Norman jougleur, were usually employed
by Anglo-Saxons of wealth and rank, is evident from various allusions
to them. Gaimar has preserved a curious Saxon story of the murder
of king Edward by his stepmother (A.D. 978), in which the queen
is represented as having in her service a dwarf minstrel, who is
employed to draw the young king alone to her house. According to the
Anglo-Norman relator of this story, the dwarf was skilled in various
modes of dancing and tumbling, characterised by words of which we can
hardly now point out the exact distinction, “and could play many other

    _Wolstanet un naim aveit,_
    _Ki baler e trescher saveit;_
    _Si saveit sailler e tumber,_
    _E altres gius plusurs juer._

In a Saxon manuscript in the British Museum (MS. Cotton. Tiberius, C.
vi.), among the minstrels attendant on king David (represented in our
cut, No. 27), we see a gleeman, who is throwing up and catching knives
and balls, a common performance of the later Norman jougleurs, as well
as of our modern mountebanks. Some of the tricks and gestures of these
performers were of the coarsest description, such as could be only
tolerated in a rude state of society. An example will be found in a
story told by William of Malmesbury of wandering minstrels, whom he had
seen performing at a festival at that monastery when he was a child,
and which we can hardly venture to give even under the veil of the
original Latin. A poem in the Exeter manuscript describes the wandering
character of the Saxon minstrels. He tells us:--

    _swa scriþende_        _Thus roving_
    _gesceapum hweorfað_   _with their lays go_
    _gleo-men gumena_      _the gleemen of men_
    _geond grunda fela,_   _over many lands,_
    _þearfe secgað,_       _state their wants,_
    _þonc-word sprecaþ,_   _utter words of thank,_
    _simle suð oþþe norð_  _always south or north,_
    _sumne gemetað_        _they find one_
    _gydda gleawne,_       _knowing in songs,_
    _geofum unhneawne._    _who is liberal of gifts._--Exeter Book, p. 326.

[Illustration: _No. 27. Anglo-Saxon Minstrels and Gleeman._]

We are not to suppose that our Anglo-Saxon forefathers remained at
table, merely drinking and listening. On the contrary, the performance
of the minstrels appears to have been only introduced at intervals,
between which the guests talked, joked, propounded and answered
riddles, boasted of their own exploits, disparaged those of others,
and, as the liquor took effect, became noisy and quarrelsome. The moral
poems often allude to the quarrels and slaughters in which feasts
ended. One of these poems, enumerating the various endowments of men,

    _sum bið wrœd tæfle;_   _one is expert at dice;_
    _sum bið gewittig_      _one is witty_
    _æt win-þege,_          _at wine-bibbing,_
    _beor-hyrde god._       _a good beer-drinker._--Exeter Book, p. 297.

A “Monitory Poem,” in the same collection, thus describes the manners
of the guests in hall:--

    _þonne monige beoð_      _but many are_
    _mæþel-hergendra,_       _lovers of social converse,_
    _wlonce wig-smiþas,_     _haughty warriors,_
    _win-burgum in,_         _in pleasant cities,_
    _sittaþ æt symble_       _they sit at the feast,_
    _soð-gied wrecað,_       _tales recount,_
    _wordum wrixlað,_        _in words converse,_
    _witan fundiað_          _strive to know_
    _hwylc æsc-stede_        _who the battle place,_
    _inne in ræcede_         _within the house,_
    _mid werum wunige;_      _will with men abide;_
    _þonne win hweteð_       _then wine wets_
    _beornes breost-sefan,_  _the man’s breast-passions,_
    _breahtme stigeð_        _suddenly rises_
    _cirm on corþre,_        _clamour in the company,_
    _cwide-scral letaþ_      _an outcry they send forth_
    _missenlice._            _various._--Exeter Book, p. 314.

In a poem on the various fortunes of men, and the different ways in
which they come by death, we are told:--

    _sumum meces ecg_     _from one the sword’s edge_
    _on meodu-bence,_     _on the mead-bench,_
    _yrrum ealo-wosan,_   _angry with ale,_
    _ealdor oþþringeð,_   _life shall expel,_
    _were win-sadum._     _a wine-sated man._--Exeter Book, p. 330.

And in the metrical legend of St. Juliana, the evil one boasts:--

    _sume ic larum geteah,_  _some I by wiles have drawn,_
    _te geflite fremede,_    _to strife prepared,_
    _þæt hy færinga_         _that they suddenly_
    _eald-afþoncan_          _old grudges_
    _edniwedan,_             _have renewed,_
    _beore druncne;_         _drunken with beer;_
    _ic him byrlade_         _I to them poured_
    _wreht of wege,_         _discord from the cup,_
    _þæt hi in win-sale_     _so that they in the social hall_
    _þurh sweord-gripe_      _through gripe of sword_
    _sawle forletan_         _the soul let forth_
    _of flæsc-homan._        _from the body._--Exeter Book, p. 271.

There were other amusements for the long evenings besides those which
belonged especially to the hall, for every day was not a feast-day. The
hall was then left to the household retainers and their occupations.
But we must now leave this part of the domestic establishment. The
ladies appear not to have remained at table long after dinner--it was
somewhat as in modern times--they proceeded to their own special part
of the house--the chamber--and thither it will be my duty to accompany
them in the next chapter. I have described all the ordinary scenes that
took place in the Anglo-Saxon hall.



The bower or chamber, which, as before stated, was, in the original
Saxon mansions, built separate from the hall, was a more private
apartment than the latter, although it was still easy of access. In the
houses of the rich and the noble there were, as may easily be supposed,
several chambers, devoted to the different purposes of the household,
and to the reception of visitors. It was in the chamber that the lord
of the household transacted his private business, and gave his private
audiences. We see by the story of king Edwy that it was considered a
mark of effeminacy to retire from the company in the hall after dinner,
to seek more quiet amusement in the chamber, where the men rejoined
the ladies of the family; yet there are numerous instances which show
that, except on festive occasions, this was a very common practice. In
some cases, where the party was not an ostentatious or public one, the
meal was served in a chamber rather than in the hall. According to the
story of Osbert king of Northumberland and Beorn the buzecarl, as told
by Gaimar, it was in a chamber that Beorn’s lady received the king,
and caused the meal to be served to him which ended in consequences so
fatal to the country. We have very little information relating to the
domestic games and amusements of the Anglo-Saxons. They seem to have
consisted, in a great measure, in music and in telling stories. They
had games of hazard, but we are not acquainted with their character.
Their chief game was named _tæfel_ or _tæfl_, which has been explained
by _dice_ and by _chess_; one name of the article played with,
_tæfl-stan_, a table-_stone_, would suit either interpretation; but
another, _tæfl-mon_, a table-_man_, would seem to indicate a game
resembling our chess.[8] The writers immediately after the conquest
speak of the Saxons as playing at chess, and pretend that they
learnt the game from the Danes. Gaimar, who gives us an interesting
story relating to the deceit practiced upon king Edgar (A.D. 973) by
Ethelwold, when sent to visit the beautiful Elfthrida, daughter of
Orgar of Devonshire, describes the young lady and her noble father as
passing the day at chess.

    _Orgar jouout à un eschès,_
    _Un giu k’il aprist des Daneis:_
    _Od lui jouout Elstruet la bele._

The Ramsey history, published by Gale, describing a bishop’s visit to
court late at night, says that he found the king amusing himself with
similar games.[9] An ecclesiastical canon, enacted under king Edgar,
enjoined that a priest should not be a _tæflere_, or gambler.

[Illustration: _No. 28. Anglo-Saxon Chairs._]

It was not usual, in the middle ages, to possess much furniture, for in
those times of insecurity, anything moveable, which could not easily be
concealed, was never safe from plunderers. Benches, on which several
persons could sit together, and a stool or a chair for a guest of more
consideration, were the only seats. Our word chair is Anglo-Norman,
and the adoption of the name from that language would seem to indicate
that the moveable to which it was applied was unknown to the great mass
of the Anglo-Saxon population of the island. The Anglo-Saxon name for
it was _setl_, a seat, or _stol_; the latter preserved in the modern
word stool. We find chairs of different forms in the illuminations
of Anglo-Saxon manuscripts, but they are always represented as the
seats of persons of high rank and dignity, usually of kings. The two
examples given in the accompanying cut (No. 28), are taken from the
Harleian MS., No. 603, fol. 54, v^o., already referred to in our
preceding chapters. It will be observed that, although very simple in
form, they are both furnished with cushions. The chair in our cut No.
29, taken from Alfric’s translation of Genesis (MS. Cotton. Claudius,
B. iv.), on which a king is seated, is of a different and more
elegant construction. We sometimes find, in the manuscripts, chairs
of fantastic form, which were, perhaps, creations of the artist’s
imagination. Such a one is the singular throne on which king David is
seated with his harp, in our cut No. 30, which is also taken from the
Harleian Manuscript, No. 603 (fol. 68, v^o.). In addition to the seat,
the ladies in the chamber had a _scamel_, or footstool.

[Illustration: _No. 29. A King Seated._]

[Illustration: _No. 30. King David._]

There was a table used in the chamber or bower, which differed
altogether from that used in the hall. It was named _myse_, _disc_
(from the Latin _discus_), and _beod_; all words which convey the
idea of its being round--_beodas_ (in the plural) was the term
applied to the scales of a balance. The Latin phrase, of the 127th
Psalm, _in circuitu mensæ tuæ_, which was evidently understood by the
Anglo-Saxon translators as referring to a round table, is translated
by one, _on ymbhwyrfte mysan thine_, and by another, _in ymbhwyrfte
beodes thines_. If we refer back to the preceding chapter, we shall
see, in the subjects which appear to exhibit a small domestic party
(see cuts No. 15, 19, and 24), that the table is round; and this was
evidently the usual form given among the Anglo-Saxons to the table
used in the chamber or private room. This form has been preserved as
a favourite one in England down to a very recent period, as that of
the parlour-table among the class of society most likely to retain
Anglo-Saxon tastes and sentiments. In the pictures, the round table
is generally represented as supported on three or four legs, though
there are instances in which it was represented with one. In the latter
case, the board of the table probably turned up on a hinge, as in our
old parlour tea-tables; and in the former it was perhaps capable of
being taken off the legs; for there is reason for believing that it was
only laid out when wanted, and that, when no longer in use, it was put
away on one side of the room or in a closet, in the smallest possible

[Illustration: _No. 31. A Lamp and Stand._]

We have no information to explain to us how the bower or chamber was
warmed. In the hall, it is probable that the fire gave warmth and light
at the same time, although, in the fragment of the Anglo-Saxon poem
relating to the fight at Finnesburg, there is an indistinct intimation
that the hall was sometimes lighted with _horns_, or cressets; but, in
the chamber, during the long evenings of winter, it was necessary to
have an artificial light to enable its occupants to read, or work, or
play. The Anglo-Saxon name for this article, so necessary for domestic
comfort, was _candel_ or _condel_ (our _candle_); and, so general was
the application of this term, that it was even used figuratively as we
now use the word lamp. Thus, the Anglo-Saxon poets spoke of the sun
as _rodores candel_ (the candle of the firmament), _woruld-candel_
(the candle of the world), _heofon-condel_ (the candle of heaven),
_wyn-condel_ (the candle of glory). The candle was, no doubt,
originally a mere mass of fat plastered round a wick (_candel-weoc_),
and stuck upon an upright stick. Hence the instrument on which it
was afterwards supported received the name of _candel-sticca_ or
_candel-stæf_, a candlestick; and the original idea was preserved even
when the candle supporter had many branches, it being then called a
_candel-treow_, or candle-tree. The original arrangement of the stick
was also preserved; for, down to a very recent period, the candle was
not inserted in a socket in the candlestick as at present, but it was
stuck upon a spike. The Anglo-Saxon writers speak of _candel-snytels_,
or snuffers. Other names less used, for a candle or some article for
giving light, were _blacern_ or _blæcern_, which is explained in
glossaries by the Latin _lucerna_, and _thæcela_, the latter signifying
merely a light. It was usual, also, among our Saxon forefathers, as
among ourselves, to speak of the instrument for illumination as merely
_leoht_, a light--“bring me a light.” A candlestick and candle are
represented in one of the cuts in our last chapter (cut No. 19). The
Anglo-Saxons, no doubt, derived the use of lamps from the Romans; and
they were so utterly at a loss for a word to describe this mode of
illumination, that they always called it _leoht-fæt_, a light-vat,
or vessel of light. In our cut (No. 31) we have an Anglo-Saxon lamp,
placed on a candelabrum or stand, exactly in the Roman manner. It will
be remembered that Asser, a writer of somewhat doubtful authenticity,
ascribes to king Alfred the invention of lanterns, as a protection to
the candle, to prevent it from swealing in consequence of the wind
entering through the crevices of the apartments--not a very bright
picture of the comforts of an Anglo-Saxon chamber. The candles were
made of wax as well as tallow. The candlestick was of different
materials. In one instance we find it termed, in Anglo-Saxon, a
_leoht-isern_, literally a light-iron: perhaps this was the term used
for the lamp-stand, as figured in our last cut. In the inventories we
have mention of _ge-bonene candel-sticcan_ (candlesticks of bone), of
silver-gilt candlesticks, and of ornamented candlesticks.

[Illustration: _No. 32. Anglo-Saxon Beds._]

A bed was a usual article of furniture in the bower or chamber;
though there were, no doubt, in large mansions, chambers set apart as
bedrooms, as well as chambers in which there was no bed, or in which
a bed could be made for the occasion. The account given by Gaimar, as
quoted above, of the visit of king Osbert to Beorn’s lady, seems to
imply that the chamber in which the lady gave the king his meal had a
bed in it. The bed itself seems usually to have consisted merely of a
sack (_sæccing_) filled with straw, and laid on a bench or board. Hence
words used commonly to signify the bed itself were _bænce_ (a bench),
and _streow_ (straw): and even in king Alfred’s translation of Bede,
the statement, “he ordered to prepare a bed for him,” is expressed
in Anglo-Saxon by, _he heht him streowne ge-gearwian_, literally, he
ordered to prepare straw for him. All, in fact, that had to be done
when a bed was wanted, was to take the bed-sack out of the _cyst_, or
chest, fill it with fresh straw, and lay it on the bench. In ordinary
houses it is probable that the bench for the bed was placed in a recess
at the side of the room, in the manner we still see in Scotland; and
hence the bed itself was called, among other names, _cota_, a cot;
_cryb_, a crib or stall; and _clif_ or _clyf_, a recess or closet. From
the same circumstance a bedroom was called _bed-clyfa_ or _bed-cleofa_,
and _bed-cofa_, a bed-closet or bed-cove. Our cut (No. 32), taken from
Alfric’s version of Genesis (Claudius, B. iv.), represents beds of
this description. Benches are evidently placed in recesses at the side
of the chamber, with the beds laid upon them, and the recesses are
separated from the rest of the apartment by a curtain, _bed-warft_ or
_hryfte_. The modern word _bedstead_ means, literally, no more than
“a place for a bed;” and it is probable that what we call bedsteads
were then rare, and only possessed by people of rank. Two examples are
given in the annexed cut (No. 33), taken from the Harleian MS., No.
603. Under the head were placed a _bolstar_ and a _pyle_ (pillow),
which were probably also stuffed with straw. The clothes with which
the sleeper was covered, and which appear in the pictures scanty
enough, were _scyte_, a sheet, _bed-felt_, a coverlet, which was
generally of some thicker material, and _bed-reaf_, bed-clothes. We
know from a multitude of authorities, that it was the general custom
of the middle ages to go into bed quite naked. The sketchy character
of the Anglo-Saxon drawings renders it difficult sometimes to judge
of minute details; but, from the accompanying cuts, it appears that
an Anglo-Saxon going into bed, having stripped all his or her clothes
off, first wrapped round his body a sheet, and then drew over him the
coverlet. Sharon Turner has given a list of the articles connected
with the bed, mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon wills and inventories. In
the will of a man we find bed-clothes (_bed-reafes_), with a curtain
(_hyrfte_), and sheet (_hopp-scytan_), and all that thereto belongs;
and he gives to his son the _bed-reafe_, or bed-cloth, and all its
appurtenances. An Anglo-Saxon lady gives to one of her children two
chests and their contents, her best bed-curtain, linen, and all the
clothes belonging to it. To another child she leaves two chests, and
“all the bed-clothes that to one bed belong.” On another occasion we
read of _pulvinar unum de palleo_: not a pillow of straw, as Sharon
Turner very erroneously translates it, but a pillow of a sort of rich
cloth made in the middle ages. A goat-skin bed-covering was sent to an
Anglo-Saxon abbot; and bear-skins are sometimes noticed, as if a part
of bed furniture.

[Illustration: _No. 33. Anglo-Saxon Beds._]

The bed-room, or chamber, and the sitting-room were usually identical;
for we must bear in mind that in the domestic manners of the middle
ages the same idea of privacy was not connected with the sleeping-room
as at the present day. Gaimar has preserved an anecdote of Anglo-Saxon
times curiously illustrative of this point. King Edgar--a second David
in this respect--married the widow of Ethelwold, whom he had murdered
in order to clear his way to her bed. The king and queen were sleeping
in their bed, which is described as surrounded by a rich curtain, made
of a stuff which we cannot easily explain, when Dunstan, uninvited,
but unhindered, entered the chamber to expostulate with them on their
wickedness, and came to the king’s bedside, where he stood over them,
and entered into conversation--

 _A Londres ert Edgar li reis;_       _King Edgar was at London;_
 _En son lit jut e la raine,_         _He lay in his bed with the queen,_
 _Entur els out une curtine_          _Round them was a curtain_
 _Delgé, d’un paille escariman._      _Spread, made of scarlet paille._
 _Este-vus l’arcevesque Dunstan_      _Behold archbishop Dunstan_
 _Très par matin vint en la chambre_  _Came into the chamber very early in
                                          the morning._
 _Sur un pecul de vermail lambre_     _On a bed-post of red plank_
 _S’est apué cel arcevesque._         _The archbishop leaned._

In the account of the murder of king Ethelbert by the instrumentality
of the queen of king Offa, as it is told by Roger of Wendover, we see
the queen ordering to be prepared for the royal guest, a chamber, which
was adorned for the occasion with sumptuous furniture, as his bed-room.
“Near the king’s bed she caused a seat to be prepared, magnificently
decked, and surrounded with curtains; and underneath it the wicked
woman caused a deep pit to be dug.” Into this pit the king was
precipitated the moment he trusted himself on the treacherous seat. It
is clear from the context that the chamber thus prepared for the king
was a building apart, and that it had only a ground-floor.

It was in the chamber that the child, while an infant, was brought
up by its mother. We have few contemporary notices of the treatment
of children at this early age by the Anglo-Saxons, but probably it
differed little from the general practice of a later period. Towards
the close of the thirteenth century, an Englishman named Walter de
Bibblesworth, who wrote, as a great proportion of English writers
at that day did, in French verse--French as it was then spoken and
written in England--has left us a very curious metrical vocabulary,
compiled in French with interlinear explanations of the words in
English, which commences with man’s infancy. “As soon as the child is
born,” says the author, “it must be swathed; lay it to sleep in its
cradle, and you must have a nurse to rock it to sleep.”

    _Kaunt le emfès sera nées,_
    _Lors deyt estre maylolez,_
    _En soun berz l’enfaunt chochet,_
    _De une bercere vus purvoyet,_
    _Où par sa norice seyt bercé._

This was the manner in which the new-born infant was treated in all
grades of society. If we turn to one of the more serious romances, we
find it practised among princes and feudal chiefs equally as among the
poor. Thus, when the princess Parise, wandering in the wild woods,
is delivered in the open air, she first wraps her child in a piece
of _sendal_, torn apparently from her rich robe, and then binds, or
swathels, it with a white cloth:--

    _La dame le conroie à un pan de cendex,_
    _Puis a pris un blanc drap, si a ses fians bendez._
                          --Parise la Duchesse, p. 76.

When the robbers carry away the child by night, thinking they had
gained some rich booty, they find that they have stolen a newly-born
infant, “all swatheled.”

    _Lai troverent l’anffant, trestot anmaloté._--Ibid. p. 80.

This custom of swatheling children in their infancy, though evidently
injurious as well as ridiculous, has prevailed from a very early
period, and is still practised in some parts of Europe. We can hardly
doubt that our Anglo-Saxon forefathers swatheled their children,
although the practice is not very clearly described by any of their
writers. We derive the word itself from the Anglo-Saxon language, in
which _beswethan_ means to swathe or bind, _suethe_ signifies a band
or swathe, and _swethel_ or _swæthil_, a swaddling-band. These words
appear, however, to have been used in a more extensive sense among the
Anglo-Saxons than their representatives in more recent times, and as I
have not met with them applied in this restricted sense in Anglo-Saxon
writers, I should not hastily assume from them that our early Teutonic
forefathers did swathe their new-born children. In an Anglo-Saxon poem
on the birth of Christ, contained in the Exeter Book (p. 45), the poet
speaks of--

    _Bearnes gebyrda,_    _The child’s birth,_
    _þa he in binne wæs_  _when he in the bin was_
    _in cildes hiw_       _in a child’s form_
    _claþum biwunden._    _with cloths wound round._

These words refer clearly to the practice of swaddling; and, though
the Anglo-Saxon artist has not here portrayed his object very
distinctly, we can hardly doubt that, in our cut (No. 34), taken from
the Anglo-Saxon manuscript of Cædmon, the child, which its mother is
represented as holding, is intended to be swathed.

[Illustration: _No. 34. Anglo-Saxon Mother and Child._]

The word _bin_, used in the lines of the Anglo-Saxon poem just quoted,
which means a hutch or a manger, has reference, of course, to the
circumstances of the birth of the Saviour, and is not here employed to
signify a cradle. This last word is itself Anglo-Saxon, and has stood
its ground in our language successfully against the influence of the
Anglo-Norman, in which it was called a _bers_ or _bersel_, from the
latter of which is derived the modern French _berçeau_. Another name
for a cradle was _crib_; a poem in the Exeter Book (p. 87) speaks of
_cild geong on crybbe_ (a young child in a cradle). Our cut No. 35,
also taken from the manuscript of Cædmon, represents an Anglo-Saxon
cradle of rather rude construction. The illuminators of a later period
often represent the cradle of elegant form and richly ornamented.
The Anglo-Saxon child appears here also to be swaddled, but it is
still drawn too inaccurately to be decisive on this point. The latter
illuminators were more particular and correct in their delineations,
and leave no doubt of the universal practice of swaddling infants. A
good example is given in our cut No. 36, taken from an illuminated
manuscript of the fourteenth century, of which a copy is given in the
large work of the late M. du Sommerard.

[Illustration: _No. 35. Anglo-Saxon Child in its Cradle._]

There is a very curious paragraph relating to infants in the
Pœnitentiale of Theodore, archbishop of Canterbury, which furnishes
us with a singular picture of early Anglo-Saxon domestic life, for
Theodore flourished in the latter half of the seventh century. It
may be perhaps right to explain that a Pœnitentiale was a code of
ecclesiastical laws directing the proportional degrees of penance for
each particular class and degree of crimes and offences against public
and private morals, and that these laws penetrate to the innermost
recesses of domestic life. The Pœnitentiale of archbishop Theodore
directs that “if a woman place her infant by the hearth, and the man
put water in the cauldron, and it boil over, and the child be scalded
to death, the woman must do penance for her negligence, but the man
is acquitted of blame.”[10] As this accident must have been of very
frequent occurrence to require a particular direction in a code of
laws, it implies great negligence in the Anglo-Saxon mothers, and seems
to show that, commonly, at least at this early period, they had no
cradles for their children, but laid them, swaddled as they were, on
the ground close by the fire, no doubt to keep them warm, and that they
left them in this situation.

[Illustration: _No. 36. Mother and Child._]

We are not informed if there were any fixed period during which the
infant was kept in swaddling-cloths, but probably when it was thought
no longer necessary to keep it in the arms or in the cradle, it was
relieved from its bands, and allowed to crawl about the floor and take
care of itself. Walter de Bibblesworth, the Anglo-Norman writer of the
thirteenth century already quoted, tells us briefly that a child is
left to creep about before it has learnt to go on its feet:--

    _Le enfaunt covent de chatouner_
    _Avaunt ke sache à pées aler._

When the Anglo-Saxon youth, if a boy, had passed his infancy, he
entered that age which was called _cnithad_ (knighthood), which lasted
from about eight years of age until manhood.

It is very rare that we can catch in history a glimpse of the internal
economy of the Anglo-Saxon household. Enough, however, is told to show
us that the Saxon woman in every class of society possessed those
characteristics which are still considered to be the best traits of
the character of Englishwomen; she was the attentive housewife, the
tender companion, the comforter and consoler of her husband and family,
the virtuous and noble matron. Home was her especial place; for we
are told in a poem in the Exeter Book (p. 337) that, “It beseems a
damsel to be at her board (table); a rambling woman scatters words,
she is often charged with faults, a man thinks of her with contempt,
oft her cheek smites.” In all ranks, from the queen to the peasant,
we find the lady of the household attending to her domestic duties.
In 686, John of Beverley performed a supposed miraculous cure on the
lady of a Yorkshire earl; and the man who narrated the miracle to
Bede the historian, and who dined with John of Beverley at the earl’s
house after the cure, said, “She presented the cup to the bishop
(John) and to me, and continued serving us with drink as she had
begun, till dinner was over.” Domestic duties of this kind were never
considered as degrading, and they were performed with a simplicity
peculiarly characteristic of the age. Bede relates another story of
a miraculous cure performed on an earl’s wife by St. Cuthbert, in
the sequel of which we find the lady going forth from her house to
meet her husband’s visitor, holding the reins while he dismounts, and
conducting him in. The wicked and ambitious queen Elfthrida, when her
step-son king Edward approached her residence, went out in person to
attend upon him, and invite him to enter, and, on his refusal, she
served him with the cup herself, and it was while stooping to take
it that he was treacherously stabbed by one of her attendants. In
their chamber, besides spinning and weaving, the ladies were employed
in needlework and embroidery, and the Saxon ladies were so skilful
in this art, that their work, under the name of English work (_opus
Anglicum_), was celebrated on the continent. We read of a Saxon lady,
named Ethelswitha, who retired with her maidens to a house near Ely,
where her mother was buried, and employed herself and them in making
a rich chasuble for the monks. The four princesses, the sisters of
king Ethelstan, were celebrated for their skill in spinning, weaving,
and embroidering; William of Malmesbury tells us that their father,
king Edward, had educated them “in such wise, that in childhood
they gave their whole attention to letters, and afterwards employed
themselves in the labours of the distaff and the needle.” The reader
will remember in the story of the Saxon queen Osburgha, the mother
of the great Alfred, how she sat in her chamber, surrounded by her
children, and encouraging them in a taste for literature. The ladies,
when thus occupied, were not inaccessible to their friends of either
sex. When Dunstan was a youth, he appears to have been always a welcome
visitor to the ladies in their “bowers,” on account of his skill in
music and in the arts. His contemporary biographer tells us of a noble
lady, named Ethelwynn, who, knowing his skill in drawing and designs,
obtained his assistance for the ornaments of a handsome stole which she
and her women were embroidering. Dunstan is represented as bringing
his harp with him into the apartment of the ladies, and hanging it up
against the wall, that he might have it ready to play to them in the
intervals of their work. Editha, the queen of Edward the Confessor,
was well-known as a skilful needle-woman, and as extensively versed in
literature. Ingulf’s story of his schoolboy-days, if it be true (for
there is considerable doubt of the authenticity of Ingulf’s “History”),
and of his interviews with queen Edith, gives us a curious picture of
the simplicity of an Anglo-Saxon court, even at the latest period of
their monarchy. “I often met her,” he says, “as I came from school, and
then she questioned me about my studies and my verses; and willingly
passing from grammar to logic, she would catch me in the subtleties of
argument. She always gave me two or three pieces of money, which were
counted to me by her handmaiden, and then sent me to the royal larder
to refresh myself.”

Several circumstances arising out of certain rivalries of social
institutions render it somewhat difficult to form an estimate of the
moral character of the Anglo-Saxons. In the first place, before the
introduction of Christianity, marriage was a mere civil institution,
consisted chiefly in a bargain between the father of the lady and the
man who sought her, and was completed with few formalities, except
those of feasting and rejoicing. After the young lady was out of the
control of her parents, the two sexes were on a footing of equality to
each other, and the marriage tie was so little binding, that, in case
of disagreement, it was at the will of either of the married couple
to separate, in which case the relatives or friends of each party
interfered, to see that right was done in the proportional repayment of
marriage money, dowry, &c., and after the separation each party was at
liberty to marry again. This state of things is well illustrated in the
Icelandic story of the Burnt Njal, recently translated by Dr. Dasent,
and it was not abolished by the secular laws, after the conversion of
the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity, marriage still continuing to be, in
fact, a civil institution. But the higher clergy, at least, who were
those who were most strongly inspired with the Romish sentiments,
disapproved entirely of this view of the marriage state, and, although
the Saxon priests appear not to have hesitated in being present at
the second marriages after such separations, they were apparently
forbidden by the ecclesiastical laws from giving their blessing to
them.[11] With such views of the conjugal relations, we cannot be
surprised if the associating together of a man and woman, without the
ceremonies of marriage, was looked upon without disgust; in fact,
this was the case throughout western Europe during the middle ages,
in spite of the doctrines of the church, and the offspring was hardly
considered as dispossessed of legal rights. It would be easy to point
out examples illustrating this state of things. Again, the priesthood
among the unconverted Saxons was probably, as it appears among the
Icelanders in the story of the Burnt Njal just alluded to, a sort of
family possession,[12] the priests themselves being what we should
call family men; so that when the Anglo-Saxon people were Christians,
and no longer pagans, the mass of the clergy, whatever may have been
their sincerity as Christians, could not understand, or, at least,
were unwilling to accept, the new Romish doctrine which required their
celibacy. In both these cases, the Anglo-Saxon ecclesiastical writers,
who are our chief authority on this subject, and were the most bigoted
of the Romish party, speak in terms of exaggerated virulence, on the
score of morality, against practices which the Anglo-Saxon people had
not been used to consider as immoral at all. Thus, we should be led to
believe, from the accounts of these ecclesiastical moralists, that the
Anglo-Saxon clergy were infamous for their incontinence, whereas their
declamations probably mean only that the Anglo-Saxon priests persisted
in having wives and families. The secular laws contain frequent
allusions to the continuance of principles relating to the marriage
state, which were derived from the older period of paganism, and some
of these are extremely curious. Thus, the laws of king Ethelred provide
that a man who seduces another man’s wife, shall make reparation, not
only as in modern times, by paying pecuniary damages, but also by
procuring him another wife! or, in the words of the original, “If a
freeman have been familiar with a freeman’s wife, let him pay for it
with his _wer-gild_ (the money compensation for the killing of a man),
and provide another wife with his own money, and bring her home to the
other.” By a law of king Ine, “if any man buy a wife (that is, if the
bargain with her father has been completed), and the marriage take not
place,” he was required to pay the money, besides other compensation.
And again, by one of Alfred’s laws, it was provided, “If any one
deceive an unbetrothed woman, and sleep with her, let him pay for her,
and have her afterwards to wife; but if the father of the woman will
not give her, let him pay money according to her dowry.” Regulations
relating to the buying of a wife, are found in the Anglo-Saxon laws.

We learn nothing in the facts of history to the discredit of the
Anglo-Saxon character in general. As in other countries, in the same
condition of society, they appear capable of great crimes, and of
equally great acts of goodness and virtue. Generally speaking, their
least amiable trait was the treatment of their servants or slaves;
for this class among the Anglo-Saxons were in a state of absolute
servitude, might be bought and sold, and had no protection in the
law against their masters and mistresses, who, in fact, had power of
life and death over them. We gather from the ecclesiastical canons
that, at least in the earlier periods of Anglo-Saxon history, it was
not unusual for servants to be scourged to death by or by order of
their mistresses. Some of the collections of local miracles, such as
those of St. Swithun, at Winchester (of the tenth century), furnish us
with horrible pictures of the cruel treatment to which female slaves
especially were subjected. For comparatively slight offences they were
loaded with gyves and fetters, and subjected to all kinds of tortures.
Several of these are curiously illustrative of domestic manners. On one
occasion, the maid-servant of Teothic the bell-maker (_campanarius_),
of Winchester, was, for “a slight offence,” placed in iron fetters, and
chained up by the feet and hands all night. Next morning she was taken
out to be frightfully beaten, and she was put again into her bonds;
but in the ensuing night she contrived to make her escape, and fled to
the church to seek sanctuary at the tomb of St. Swithun, for being in
a state of servitude there was no legal protection for her. On another
occasion, a female servant had been stolen from a former master, and
had passed into the possession of another master in Winchester. One
day her former master came to Winchester, and the girl, hearing of
it, went to speak to him. When her mistress heard that she had been
seen to talk with a man from a distant province, she ordered her to
be thrown into fetters, and treated very cruelly. Next day, while the
mistress had gone out on some business, leaving her servant at home
in fetters, the latter made her escape similarly to the sanctuary of
the church. Another servant-girl in Winchester, taking her master’s
clothes to wash in the river, was set upon by thieves, who robbed her
of them. Her master, ascribing the mishap to her own negligence, beat
her very severely, and then put her in fetters, from which she made
her escape like the others. The interesting scene represented in our
cut, No. 37, taken from the Harleian MS., No. 603, fol. 14, v^o., may
be regarded as showing us the scourging of a slave. In a picture in
Alfric’s version of Genesis, the man scourged, instead of being tied by
the feet, is fixed by the body in a cloven post, in a rather singular
manner. The aptness with which the Saxon ladies made use of the scourge
is illustrated by one of William of Malmesbury’s anecdotes, who tells
us that, when king Ethelred was a child, he once so irritated his
mother, that not having a whip, she beat him with some candles, which
were the first thing that fell under her hand, until he was almost
insensible. “On this account he dreaded candles during the rest of his
life, to such a degree that he would never suffer the light of them to
be introduced in his presence!”

[Illustration: _No. 37. Washing and Scourging._]

[Illustration: _No. 38. Hanging._]

The cruelty of the Anglo-Saxon ladies to their servants offers a
contrast to the generally mild character of the punishments inflicted
by the Anglo-Saxon laws. The laws of Ethelred contain the following
injunction, showing how contrary capital punishment is to the spirit of
Anglo-Saxon legislation:--“And the ordinance of our lord, and of his
witan (parliament), is, that Christian men for all too little be not
condemned to death; but in general let mild punishment be decreed, for
the people’s need; and let not for a little God’s handywork and his
own purchase be destroyed, which he dearly bought.” This injunction
is repeated in the laws of Canute. It appears that the usual method
of inflicting death upon criminals was by hanging. Our cut, No. 38,
taken from the illuminations to Alfric’s version of Genesis, represents
an Anglo-Saxon gallows (_galga_), and the rather primitive method of
carrying the last penalty of the law into effect. The early illuminated
manuscripts give us few representations of popular punishments.
The Anglo-Saxon vocabularies enumerate the following implements of
punishment, besides the _galga_, or gallows: fetters (_fæter_, _cops_),
distinguished into foot-fetters and hand-fetters; shackles (_scacul_,
or _sceacul_), which appear to have been used specially for the neck; a
_swipa_, or scourge; _ostig gyrd_, a knotted rod; _tindig_, explained
by the Latin _scorpio_, and meaning apparently a whip with knots or
plummets at the end of thongs, like those used by the charioteers in
the cuts in our next chapter; and an instrument of torture called a
_threpel_, which is explained by the Latin _equuleus_. The following
cut, No. 39, from the Harleian MS., No. 603 (so often quoted), shows
us the stocks, generally placed by the side of the public road at the
entrance to the town. Two other offenders are attached to the columns
of the public building, perhaps a court-house, by apparently a rope
and a chain. The Anglo-Saxon laws prescribe few corporal punishments,
but substitute for them the payment of fines, or compensation-money,
and these are proportioned to the offences with very extraordinary
minuteness. Thus, to select a few examples from the very numerous
list of injuries which may be done to a man’s person,--if any one
struck off an ear, he was to pay twelve shillings, and, if an eye,
fifty shillings; if the nose were cut through, the payment was nine
shillings. “For each of the four front teeth, six shillings; for
the tooth which stands next to them, four shillings; for that which
follows, three shillings; and for all the others, a shilling each.” If
a thumb were struck off, it was valued at twenty shillings. “If the
shooting finger were struck off” (a term which shows how incorrectly
it has been assumed that the Anglo-Saxons were not accustomed to the
bow), the compensation was eight shillings; for the middle finger,
four shillings; for the ring-finger, six shillings; and for the little
finger eleven shillings. The thumb-nail was valued at three shillings;
and the finger-nails at one shilling each.

[Illustration: _No. 39. Anglo-Saxon Punishments._]

We have little information on the secrets of the toilette of the
Anglo-Saxons. We know from many sources that washing and bathing were
frequent practices among them. The use of hot baths they probably
derived from the Romans. The vocabularies give _thermæ_ as the Latin
equivalent. They are not unfrequently mentioned in the ecclesiastical
laws, and in the canons passed in the reign of king Edgar, warm baths
and soft beds are proscribed as domestic luxuries which tended to
effeminacy. If these were really the _thermæ_ of the Romans, it is
perhaps the hostility of the ascetic part of the Romish clergy which
caused them to be discontinued and forgotten. Our cut No. 37 represents
a party at their ablutions. We constantly find among the articles
in the graves of Anglo-Saxon ladies tweezers, which were evidently
intended for eradicating superfluous hairs, a circumstance which
contributes to show that they paid special attention to hair-dressing.
To judge from the colour of the hair in some of the illuminations,
we might be led to suppose that sometimes they stained it. The young
men seem to have been more foppish and vain of their persons than the
ladies, and some of the old chronicles, such as the Ely history, tell
us (which we should hardly have expected) that this was especially a
characteristic of the Danish invaders, who, we are told, “following
the custom of their country, used to comb their hair every day, bathed
every Saturday, often changed their clothes, and used many other such
frivolous means of setting off the beauty of their persons.”[13]

There is every reason for believing that the Anglo-Saxon ladies were
fond of gardens and flowers, and many allusions in the writings of that
period intimate a warm appreciation of the beauties of nature. The
poets not unfrequently take their comparisons from flowers. Thus, in a
poem in the Exeter Book, a pleasant smell is described as being--

    _Swecca swetast,_        _Of odours sweetest,_
    _swylce on sumeres tid_  _such as in summer’s tide_
    _stincað on stowum,_     _fragrance send forth in places,_
    _staþelum fæste,_        _fast in their stations,_
    _wynnum æfter wongum,_   _joyously o’er the plains,_
    _wyrta geblowene_        _blown plants_
    _hunig-flowende._        _honey-flowing._--Exeter Book, p. 178.

And one of the poetical riddles in the same collection contains the

 _Ic eom on stence_           _I am in odour_
 _strengre þonne ricels,_     _stronger than incense,_
 _oþþe rosa sy,_              _or the rose is,_
 _on eorþan tyrf_             _which on earth’s turf_
 _wynlic weaxeð;_             _pleasant grows;
 _ic eom wræstre þonne heo._  _I am more delicate than it._
 _þeah þa lilie sy_           _though that the lily be_
 _leof mon-cynne,_            _dear to mankind,_
 _beorht on blostman,_        _bright in blossom,_
 _ic eom betre þonne heo._    _I am better than it._--Exeter Book, p. 423.

So in another of these poems we read--

    _Fæger fugla reord,_  _Sweet was the song of birds,_
    _folde geblowen,_     _the earth was covered with flowers,_
    _geacas gear budon._  _cuckoos announced the year._--Ibid. p. 146.

Before we quit entirely the Saxon hall, and its festivities and
ceremonies, we must mention one circumstance connected with them.
The laws and customs of the Anglo-Saxons earnestly enjoined the duty
of almsgiving, and a multitude of persons partook of the hospitality
of the rich man’s mansion, who were not worthy to be admitted to his
tables. These assembled at meal-times outside the gate of his house,
and it was a custom to lay aside a portion of the provisions to be
distributed among them, with the fragments from the table. In Alfric’s
homily for the second Sunday after Pentecost, the preacher, after
dwelling on the story of Lazarus, who was spurned from the rich man’s
table, appeals to his Anglo-Saxon audience--“many Lazaruses ye have
now lying at your gates, begging for your superfluity.” Bede tells us
of the good king Oswald, that when he was once sitting at dinner, on
Easter-day, with his bishop, having a silver dish full of dainties
before him, as they were just ready to bless the bread, the servant
whose duty it was to relieve the poor, came in on a sudden and told
the king that a great multitude of needy persons from all parts were
sitting in the streets begging some alms of the king. The latter
immediately ordered the provisions set before him to be carried to the
poor, and the dish to be cut in pieces and divided among them. In the
picture of a Saxon house given in our first chapter (p. 15), we see the
lord of the household on a sort of throne at the entrance to his hall,
presiding over the distribution of his charity. This seat, generally
under an arch or canopy, is often represented in the Saxon manuscripts,
and the chief or lord seated under it, distributing justice or
charity. In the accompanying cut, No. 40, taken from the Anglo-Saxon
manuscript of Prudentius, the lady Wisdom is represented seated on
such a throne. It was, perhaps, the _burh-geat-setl_, or seat at the
burh-gate, mentioned as characteristic of the rank of the thane in the
following extract from a treatise on ranks in society, printed with the
Anglo-Saxon laws: “And if a ceorl thrived, so that he had fully five
hides of his own land, church (or perhaps private chapel), and kitchen
(_kycenan_), bell-house, and burh-gate-seat, and special duty in the
king’s hall, then was he thenceforth worthy of the dignity of thane.”

[Illustration: _No. 40. Wisdom on her Throne._]



The progress of society from its first formation to the full
development of civilization, has been compared not inaptly to the life
of man. In the childhood and youth of society, when the population
was not numerous, and a servile class performed the chief part of
the labour necessary for administering to the wants or luxuries of
life, people had a far greater proportion of time on their hands to
fill up with amusements than at a later period, and many that are
now considered frivolous, or are only indulged in at rare intervals
of relaxation, then formed the principal occupations of men’s lives.
We have glanced at the in-door amusements of the Anglo-Saxons in a
previous chapter; but their out-door recreations, although we have
little information respecting them, were certainly much more numerous.
The multitude of followers who, in Saxon times, attended on each lord
or rich man as their military chief, or as their domestic supporter,
had generally no serious occupation during the greater part of the day;
and this abundance of unemployed time was not confined to one class of
society, for the artisan had to work less to gain his subsistence, and
both citizen and peasant were excused from work altogether during the
numerous holidays of the year.

That the Anglo-Saxons were universally fond of play (_plega_) is proved
by the frequent use of the word in a metaphorical sense. They even
applied it to fighting and battle, which, in the language of the poets,
were _plega-gares_ (play of darts), _æsc-plega_ (play of shields),
and _hand-plega_ (play of hands).[14] In the glossaries, _plegere_
(a player), and _plega-man_ (a playman), are used to represent the
Roman _gladiator_; and _plega-hús_ (a playhouse), and _plega-stow_
(a play-place), express a theatre, or more probably an amphitheatre.
Recent discoveries have shown that there was a theatre of considerable
dimensions in the Roman town of Verulamium (near St. Alban’s); and old
writers tell us there was one at the Silurian Isca (Caerleon), though
these buildings were doubtless of rare occurrence; but every Roman town
of any importance in the island had its amphitheatre outside the walls
for gladiatorial and other exhibitions. The result of modern researches
seems to prove that most of the Roman towns continued to exist after
the Saxon settlement of the island, and we can have no doubt that
the amphitheatres, at least for awhile, continued to be devoted to
their original purposes, although the performances were modified in
character. Some of them (like that at Richborough, in Kent, lately
examined), were certainly surrounded by walls, while others probably
were merely cut in the ground, and surrounded by a low embankment
formed of the material thrown out. The first of these, the Saxons would
naturally call a play-house, while the other would receive the no less
appropriate appellation of a play-stow, or place for playing. Among the
illustrations of the Anglo-Saxon manuscript of the Psalms (MS. Harl.,
No. 603), to which we have so often had occasion to refer, there is a
very curious picture, evidently intended to represent an amphitheatre
outside a town. It is copied in our cut No. 41. The rude Anglo-Saxon
draughtsman has evidently intended to represent an embankment, occupied
by the spectators, around the spot where the performances take place.
The spectator to the left is expressing his approbation by clapping
with his hands. The performances themselves are singular: we have a
party of minstrels, one of them playing on the Roman double pipes, so
often represented in Anglo-Saxon manuscripts, while another is dancing
to him, and the third is performing with a tame bear, which is at the
moment of the representation simulating sleep. Games of this kind with
animals, succeeded no doubt among the Saxons to the Roman gladiatorial
fights, but few have imagined that the popular English exhibition of
the dancing bear dated from so remote a period. The manuscripts show
that the double pipe was in use among the Anglo-Saxons; with a little
modification, and a bag or bellows to supply the place of the human
lungs, this instrument was transformed into a bagpipe.

[Illustration: _No. 41. Games of the Amphitheatre._]

Not the least curious part of this picture is the town in the
background, with its entrance gateway, and public buildings. The
Anglo-Saxon draughtsmen were imperfectly acquainted with perspective,
and paid little attention to proportion in their representations of
towns and houses, a circumstance which is fully illustrated in this
picture. As the artist was unable from this circumstance to represent
the buildings and streets of a town in their relative position, he
put in a house to represent a multitude of houses, and here he has
similarly given one building within the walls to represent all the
public buildings of the town. An exactly similar characteristic will
be observed in our cut No. 42, taken from the same manuscript, where
one temple represents the town. Here again we have a party of citizens
outside the walls, amusing themselves as well as they can; some, for
want of other employment, are laying themselves down listlessly on the

[Illustration: _No. 42. A Town._]

The national sentiments and customs of the Anglo-Saxons would, however,
lead to the selection of other places for the scenes of their games,
and thus the Roman amphitheatres became neglected. Each village had its
arena--its play-place--where persons of all ages and sexes assembled
on their holidays to be players or lookers on; and this appears to
have been usually chosen near a fountain, or some object hallowed by
the popular creed, for customs of this kind were generally associated
with religious feelings which tended to consecrate and protect them.
These holiday games, which appear to have been very common among our
Saxon forefathers, were the originals of our village wakes. Wandering
minstrels, like those represented in our cut No. 41, repaired to them
to exhibit their skill, and were always welcome. The young men exerted
themselves in running, or leaping, or wrestling. These games attracted
merchants, and gradually became the centres of extensive fairs. Such
was the case with one of the most celebrated in England during the
middle ages, that of Barnwell, near Cambridge. It was a large open
place, between the town and the banks of the river, well suited for
such festivities as those of which we are speaking. A spring in the
middle of this plain, we are told in the early chartulary of Barnwell
Abbey, was called Beornawyl (the well of the youths), because every
year, on the eve of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, the boys and
youths of the neighbourhood assembled there, and, “after the manners of
the English, practised wrestling and other boyish games, and mutually
applauded one another with songs and musical instruments; whence, on
account of the multitude of boys and girls who gathered together there,
it grew a custom for a crowd of sellers and buyers to assemble there on
the same day for the purpose of commerce.”[15] This is a curious and a
rather rare allusion to an Anglo-Saxon wake.

One of the great recreations of the Anglo-Saxons was hunting, for
which the immense forests, which then covered a great portion of this
island, gave a wide scope. The most austere and pious, as well as the
most warlike, of the Anglo-Saxon monarchs, were passionately attached
to the pleasures of the chase. According to the writer who has assumed
the name of Asser, the great Alfred was so attached to this amusement,
that he condescended to teach his “falconers, hawkers, and dog-keepers”
himself. His grandson, king Ethelstan, as we learn from William of
Malmesbury, exacted from the Welsh princes, among other articles of
tribute, “as many dogs as he might choose, which, from their sagacious
scent, could discover the retreats and hiding-places of wild beasts;
and birds trained to make prey of others in the air.” The same writer
tells us of the sainted Edward the Confessor, that “there was one
earthly enjoyment in which he chiefly delighted, which was, hunting
with fleet hounds, whose opening in the woods he used with pleasure to
encourage; and again, with the pouncing of birds, whose nature it is to
prey on their kindred species. In these exercises, after hearing divine
service in the morning, he employed himself whole days.” It is evident
from the ecclesiastical laws, that it was difficult to restrain even
the clergy from this diversion. One of the ecclesiastical canons passed
in the reign of king Edgar, enjoins “that no priest be a hunter, or
fowler, or player at tables, but let him play on his books, as becometh
his calling.” When the king hunted, it appears that men were employed
to beat up the game, while others were placed at different avenues of
the forest to hinder the deer from taking a direction contrary to the
wishes of the hunter. Several provisions relating to the employment of
men in this way, occur in the Domesday survey. A contemporary writer
of the Life of Dunstan gives the following description of the hunting
of king Edmund the Elder, at Ceoddri (Chedder). “When they reached
the forest,” he says, “they took various directions along the woody
avenues, and the varied noise of the horns, and the barking of the
dogs, aroused many stags. From these, the king with his pack of hounds
chose one for his own hunting, and pursued it long, through devious
ways with great agility on his horse, with the hounds following. In the
vicinity of Ceoddri were several steep and lofty precipices hanging
over deep declivities. To one of these the stag came in his flight, and
dashed headlong to his destruction down the immense depth, all the dogs
following and perishing with him.” The king with difficulty held in his

[Illustration: _No. 43. Anglo-Saxon Dogs._]

The dogs (_hundas_), used for the chase among the Anglo-Saxons, were
valuable, and were bred with great care. Every noble or great landowner
had his _hund-wealh_, or dog-keeper. The accompanying cut (No. 43),
taken from the Harleian MS. No. 603, represents a dog-keeper, with his
couple of hounds--they seem to have hunted in couples. The Anglo-Saxon
name for a hunting-dog was _ren-hund_, a dog of chase, which is
interpreted by greyhound; and this appears, from the cut, to have been
the favourite dog of our Saxon forefathers. It appears by an allusion
given above, that the Saxons obtained hunting dogs from Wales; yet
the antiquary will be at once struck with the total dissimilarity of
the dogs pictured in the Anglo-Saxon manuscripts, from the British
dogs represented on the Romano-British pottery. The dogs were used
to find the game, and follow it by the scent; the hunters killed it
with spears, or with bows and arrows, or drove it into nets. In the
Colloquy of Alfric, a hunter (_hunta_) of one of the royal forests
gives a curious account of his profession. When asked how he practises
his “craft,” he replies, “I braid nets, and set them in a convenient
place, and set on my hounds, that they may pursue the beasts of chase,
until they come unexpectedly to the nets, and so become intangled in
them, and I slay them in the nets.” He is then asked if he cannot hunt
without nets, to which he replies, “Yes, I pursue the wild animals
with swift hounds.” He next enumerates the different kinds of game
which the Saxon hunter usually hunted--“I take harts, and boars, and
deer, and roes, and sometimes hares.” “Yesterday,” he continues, “I
took two harts and a boar, ... the harts with nets, and I slew the
boar with my weapon.” “How were you so hardy as to slay a boar?” “My
hounds drove him to me, and I, there facing him, suddenly struck him
down.” “You were very bold then.” “A hunter must not be timid, for
various wild beasts dwell in the woods.” It would seem by this, that
boar-hunting was not uncommon in the more extensive forests of this
island; but Sharon Turner has made a singular mistake, in supposing,
from a picture in the Anglo-Saxon calendar, that boar-hunting was the
ordinary occupation of the month of September. The scene which he has
thus mistaken--or at least, a portion of it--is given in our cut No. 44
(from the Cottonian MS. Claudius, C. viii.); it represents swineherds
driving their swine into the forests to feed upon acorns, which one of
the herdsmen is shaking from the trees with his hand. The herdsmen were
necessarily armed to protect the herds under their charge from robbers.

[Illustration: _No. 44. Swine-Herds._]

The Anglo-Saxons, as we have seen, were no less attached to hawking
than hunting. The same Colloquy already quoted contains the following
dialogue relating to the fowler (_fugelere_). To the question, “How
dost thou catch birds?” he replies, “I catch them in many ways;
sometimes with nets, sometimes with snares, sometimes with bird-lime,
sometimes with whistling, sometimes with a hawk, sometimes with a
trap.” “Hast thou a hawk?” “I have.” “Canst thou tame them?” “Yes, I
can; of what use would they be to me unless I could tame them?” “Give
me a hawk.” “I will give one willingly in exchange for a swift hound.
What kind of hawk will you have, the greater or the lesser?”... “How
feedest thou thy hawks?” “They feed themselves and me in winter, and
in spring I let them fly to the wood, and I catch young ones in autumn
and tame them.” A party of hawkers is represented in our cut No. 45,
taken from the manuscript last quoted, where it illustrates the month
of October. The rude attempt at depicting a landscape is intended to
represent a river running from the distant hills into a lake, and the
hawkers are hunting cranes and other water-fowl. Presents of hawks and
falcons are not unfrequently mentioned in Anglo-Saxon writers; and in a
will, an Anglo-Saxon leaves to his natural lord “two hawks and all his

[Illustration: _No. 45. Anglo-Saxons Hawking._]

[Illustration: _No. 46. Anglo-Saxons on a Journey._]

The Saxon youths were proud of their skill in horsemanship. Bede
relates an anecdote of the youthful days of Herebald, abbot of
Tynemouth, when he attended upon bishop John of Beverley, from
Herebald’s own words--“It happened one day,” the latter said, “that
as we were travelling with him (the bishop), we came into a plain
and open road, well adapted for galloping our horses. The young men
that were with him, and particularly those of the laity, began to
entreat the bishop to give them leave to gallop, and make trial of
the goodness of their horses.... When they had several times galloped
backwards and forwards, the bishop and I looking on, my wanton humour
prevailed, and I could no longer refrain; but, though he forbade me, I
struck in among them, and began to ride at full speed.” Horses were
used chiefly by the upper classes of society in travelling. Two of
a party of Saxon travellers are represented in our cut No. 46 (from
MS. Cotton. Claudius, B. iv.). The lady, it will be observed, rides
sideways, as in modern times, and the illuminated manuscripts of
different periods furnish us with examples enough to show that such was
always the practice; yet an old writer has ascribed the introduction of
side-saddles into this country to Anne of Bohemia, the queen of Richard
II., and the statement has been repeated by writers on costume, who
too often blindly compile from one another without examining carefully
the original sources of information.[16] The next cut, No. 47 (taken
from MS. Harl. No. 603), represents a horseman with his arms, the
spear, and the round shield, with its boss, which reminds us of those
frequently found in the early Anglo-Saxon graves. The horse furniture
is tolerably well defined in these figures. The forms of the spur
(_spura_) and the stirrup (called in Anglo-Saxon _stirap_ and _hlypa_)
are very peculiar. Most of the furniture of the horse was then, as now,
of leather, and was made by the shoemaker (_se sceowyrhta_), who seems
to have been the general manufacturer of articles in this material.
Alfric’s Colloquy enumerates among the articles made by the shoemaker,
bridle-thongs (_bridel-thwancgas_), harnesses (_gerœda_), spur-leathers
(_spur-lethera_), and halters (_hælfra_). The form of the saddle is
shown in the representation of a horse without a rider, given, from the
manuscript last quoted, in our cut No. 48.

[Illustration: _No. 47. An Anglo-Saxon Horseman._]

[Illustration: _No. 48. Anglo-Saxon Horse Fittings._]

[Illustration: _No. 49. A Chariot._]

In the Anglo-Saxon church histories, we meet with frequent instances
of persons, who were unable to walk from sickness or other cause,
being carried in carts or cars, but in most cases these seem to have
been nothing but the common agricultural carts adapted temporarily
to this usage. A horse-litter is on one occasion used for the same
purpose. It is certain, however, that the Anglo-Saxons had chariots
for travelling. The usual names of all vehicles of this kind were
_wægn_ or _wæn_ (from which, our _waggon_) and _crat_ or _cræt_ (which
appears to be the origin of the English word _cart_). These two terms
appear to have been used synonymously, for the words of the 18th Psalm,
_hi in curribus_, are translated in one Anglo-Saxon version by _on
wænum_, and in another by _in crætum_. The Anglo-Saxon manuscripts
give us various representations of vehicles for travelling. The one
represented in the cut No. 49 is taken from the Anglo-Saxon manuscript
of Prudentius. It seems to have been a barbaric “improvement” upon the
Roman _biga_, and is not much unlike our modern market-carts. The
whip used by the lady who is driving so furiously, is of the same form
as that used by the horsewoman in our cut No. 46. The artist has not
shown the _wægne-thixl_, or shaft. A four-wheeled carriage, of rather a
singular construction, is found often repeated, with some variations,
in the illuminations of the manuscript of Alfric’s translation of
the Pentateuch. One of them is given in our cut No. 50. It is quite
evident that a good deal of the minor detail of construction has been
omitted by the draughtsman. Anglo-Saxon glosses give the word _rad_ to
represent the Latin _quadriga_. From the same source we learn that the
compound word _wæn-fær_, waggon-going, was used to express journeying
in chariots.

[Illustration: _No. 50. An Anglo-Saxon Carriage._]

Riding in chariots must have been rare among the Anglo-Saxons. Horses
were only used by the better classes of society; and we learn from Bede
and other writers that pious ecclesiastics, such as bishops Aidan,
Ceadda, and Cuthbert, thought it more consistent with the humility
of their sacred character to journey on foot. The pedestrian carried
either a spear or a staff; the rider had almost always a spear. It is
noted of Cuthbert, in Bede’s life of that saint, that one day when he
came to Mailros (Melrose), and would enter the church to pray, having
leaped from his horse, he “gave the latter and his travelling spear
to the care of a servant, for he had not yet resigned the dress and
habits of a layman.” The weapon was, no doubt, necessary for personal
safety. There is a very curious clause in the Anglo-Saxon laws of king
Alfred, relating to an accident arising from the carrying the spear,
which we can hardly understand, although to require a special law it
must have been of frequent occurrence; this law provides that “if a man
have a spear over his shoulder, and _any man stake himself upon it_,”
the carrier of the spear incurred severe punishment, “if the point be
three fingers higher than the hindmost part of the shaft.” He was not
considered blameable if he held the spear quite horizontally.

The traveller always wore a covering for his head, which, though
of various shapes, none of which resembled our modern hat, was
characterised by the general term of _hæt_. He seems to have been
further protected against the inclemency of the weather by a cloak
or mantle (_mentel_). One would be led to suppose that this outer
garment was more varied in form and material than any other part
of the dress, from the great number of names which we find applied
to it, such as _basing_, _hæcce_, _hæcela_, or _hacela_, _pæll_,
_pylca_, _scyccels_, _wæfels_, &c. The writings which remain throw no
light upon the provisions made by travellers against rain; for the
dictionary-makers who give _scúr-scead_ (shower-shade) as signifying an
umbrella, are certainly mistaken.[17] Yet that umbrellas were known to
the Anglo-Saxons is proved beyond a doubt by a figure in the Harleian
manuscript, No. 603, which is given in our cut No. 51. A servant or
attendant is holding an umbrella over the head of a man who appears to
be covered at the same time with the cloak or mantle.

[Illustration: _No. 51. An Anglo-Saxon Umbrella._]

Travelling to any distance must have been rendered more uncomfortable,
especially when passing through wild districts where there were no
inns. The word _inn_ is itself Saxon, and signified a lodging, but it
appears to have been more usually applied to houses of this kind in
towns. A tavern was also called a _gest-hus_ or _gest-bur_, a house or
chamber for guests, and _cumena-hus_, a house of comers. Guest-houses,
like caravanserais in the East, appear to have been established
in different parts of Saxon England, near the high roads, for the
reception of travellers. A traveller in Bede arrives at a _hospitium_
in the north of England, which was kept by a _paterfamilias_ (or father
of a family) and his household. In the Northumbrian gloss on the
Psalms, printed by the Surtees Society, the Latin words of Psalm liv.,
_in hospitiis eorum_, are rendered by _in gest-husum heara_. This shows
that Bede’s _hospitium_ was really a guest-house: these guest-houses
were kept up in various parts of England until Norman times; and Walter
Mapes, in his treatise de Nugis Curialium, has preserved a story
relating to one of William the Conqueror’s Saxon opponents, Edric the
Wild, which tells how, returning from hunting in the forest of Dean,
and accompanied only with a page, he came to a large house, “like
the drinking houses of which the English have one in every parish,
called in English gild-houses,” perhaps an error for guest-houses
(_quales Anglici in singulis singulas habebant diocesibus bibitorias,
ghildhus Anglice dictas_). It seems not improbable, also, that the
ruins of Roman villas and small stations, which stood by the sides
of roads, were often roughly repaired or modified, so as to furnish
a temporary shelter for travellers who carried provisions, &c., with
them, and could therefore lodge themselves without depending upon the
assistance of others. A shelter of this kind--from its consisting of
bare walls, a mere shelter against the inclemency of the storm--might
be termed a _ceald-hereberga_ (cold harbour), and this would account
for the great number of places in different parts of England, which
bear this name, and which are almost always on Roman sites and near
old roads. The explanation is supported by the circumstance that the
name is found among the Teutonic nations on the continent--the German
_Kalten-herberg_--borne by some inns at the present day.

The deficiency of such comforts for travellers in Anglo-Saxon times was
compensated by the extensive practice of hospitality, a virtue which
was effectually inculcated by the customs of the people as well as by
the civil and ecclesiastical laws. When a stranger presented himself
at a Saxon door, and asked for board and lodging, the man who refused
them was looked upon with contempt by his countrymen. In the seventh
century, as we learn from the Pœnitentiale of archbishop Theodore,
the refusal to give lodging to a stranger (_quicunque hospitem non
receperit in domum suam_) was considered worthy of ecclesiastical
censure. And in the Ecclesiastical Institutes, drawn up at a later
period, and printed in the collection of Anglo-Saxon laws, it is stated
that “It is also very needful to every mass-priest, that he diligently
exhort and teach his parishioners that they be hospitable, and not
refuse their houses to any wayfaring man, but do for his comfort, for
love of God, what they then will or can; ... but let those who, for
love of God, receive every stranger, desire not any worldly reward.”
Bede describes as the first act of “the custom of hospitality” (_mos
hospitalitatis_) the washing of the stranger’s feet and hands; they
then offered him refreshment, and he was allowed to remain two nights
without being questioned, after which period the host became answerable
for his character. The ecclesiastical laws limited the hospitality to
be shown to a priest to one night, because if he remained longer it was
a proof that he was neglecting his duties.

Taverns of an ordinary description, where there was probably no
accommodation for travellers, seem to have been common enough under the
Anglo-Saxons and it must be confessed that there seems to be too much
reason for believing that people spent a great deal of their leisure
time in them; even the clergy appear to have been tempted to frequent
them. In the Ecclesiastical Institutes, quoted above, mass-priests are
forbidden to eat or drink at ale-houses (_æt ceap-ealothelum_). And it
is stated in the same curious record that, “It is a very bad custom
that many men practise, both on Sundays and also other mass-days; that
is, that straightways at early morn they desire to hear mass, and
immediately after the mass, from early morn the whole day over, in
drunkenness and feasting they minister to their belly, not to God.”

Merchant travellers seem, in general, to have congregated together in
parties or small caravans, both for companionship and as a measure of
mutual defence against robbers. In such cases they probably carried
tents with them, and formed little encampments at night, like the
pedlars and itinerant dealers in later times. Men who travelled alone
were exposed to other dangers besides that of robbery; for a solitary
wanderer was always looked upon with suspicion, and he was in danger
himself of being taken for a thief. He was compelled, therefore, by
his own interest and by the law of the land, to show that he had no
wish to avoid observation; one of the earlier Anglo-Saxon codes of
laws, that of king Wihtræd, directed that “if a man come from afar, or
a stranger go out of the high way, and he then neither shout nor blow
a horn, he is to be accounted a thief, either to be slain, or to be

[Illustration: _No. 52. Taking Toll._]

So prevalent, indeed, was theft and unfair dealing among our
Anglo-Saxon forefathers, and so much litigation and unjust persecution
arose from disputed claims to property which had been, or was pretended
to have been, purchased, that it was made illegal to buy or sell
without witnesses. It would be easy to multiply examples of robbery
and plunder from Anglo-Saxon writers; but I will only state that,
according to the Ely history, some merchants from Ireland, having
come to Cambridge in the time of king Edgar, to offer their wares for
sale, perhaps at the annual festivities of the Beorna-wyl, mentioned
above, a _priest_ of the place was guilty of stealing a part of their
merchandise. We know but little of the trades and forms of commercial
dealings of the Anglo-Saxons; but we may take our leave of the period
of which we have been hitherto treating, with a few figures relating
to money matters, from the Anglo-Saxon manuscript of the Psalms (MS.
Harl. No. 603). The cut No. 52 represents, apparently, a man in the
market, or at the gates of a city, taking toll for merchandise. The
scales are for weighing, not the merchandise, but the money. The word
_pund_, or pound, implies that the money was reckoned by weight; and
the word _mancus_, another term for a certain sum of money, is also
considered to have been a weight. Anglo-Saxon writings frequently speak
of money as given by weight. Our cut No. 53 is a representation of the
merchant, or the toll-taker, seated before his account book, with his
scales hanging to the desk. In the first of these cuts, a man holds
the bag or purse, in which the money received for toll or merchandise
is deposited. The cut No. 54 represents the receiver pouring the money
out of his bag into the _cyst_, or chest, in which it is to be locked
up and kept in his treasury. It is hardly necessary to say that there
were no banking-houses among the Anglo-Saxons. The chest, or coffer,
in which people kept their money and other valuables, appears to have
formed part of the furniture of the chamber, as being the most private
apartment; and it may be remarked that a rich man’s wealth usually
consisted much more in jewels and valuable plate than in money.

[Illustration: _No. 53. A Money Taker._]

[Illustration: _No. 54. Putting Treasure by._]

We cannot but remark how little change the manners and the sentiments
of our Saxon forefathers underwent during the long period that we
are in any way acquainted with them. During the reign of Edward
the Confessor, Norman fashions were introduced at court, but
their influence on the nation at large appears to have been very
trifling. Even after the Norman conquest the English manners and
fashions retained their hold on the people, and at later periods
they continually re-appear to assert their natural rights among the
descendants of the Anglo-Saxons.



A great change was wrought in this country by the entrance of the
Normans. From what we have seen, in the course of the preceding
chapters, society seems for a long time to have been at a standstill
among the Anglo-Saxons, as though it had progressed as far as its own
simple vitality would carry it, and wanted some new impulse to move
it onwards. By the entrance of the Normans, the Saxon aristocracy
was destroyed; but the lower and, in a great measure, the middle
classes were left untouched in their manners and customs, which they
appear to have preserved for a considerable length of time without
any material change. The Norman historians, who write with prejudice
when they speak of the Saxons, describe their nobility as having
become luxurious without refinement; and they tell us that the Normans
introduced greater sobriety, accompanied with more ostentation. “The
nobility,” says William of Malmesbury, “was given up to luxury and
wantonness.... Drinking in parties was an universal practice, in which
occupation they passed entire nights as well as days. They consumed
their whole substance in mean and despicable houses; unlike the Normans
and French, who, in noble and splendid mansions, lived with frugality.
The vices attendant on drunkenness, which enervate the human mind,
followed.... In fine, the English at that time (under king Harold) wore
short garments, reaching to the mid-knee; they had their hair cropped,
their beards shaven, their arms laden with golden bracelets, their
skin adorned with punctured designs; they were accustomed to eat till
they became surfeited, and to drink till they were sick. These latter
qualities they imparted to their conquerors; whose manners, in other
respects, they adopted.”

Whatever moderation the Normans may have brought with them, or however
they may have been restrained by the first Anglo-Norman monarch, it
disappeared entirely under his son and successor: “when,” in the words
of William of Malmesbury, “everything was so changed, that there was
no man rich except the money-changer, and no clerks but lawyers....
The courtiers then preyed upon the property of the country people, and
consumed their substance, taking the very meat from their mouths. Then
was there flowing hair and extravagant dress; and then was invented
the fashion of shoes with curved points; then the model for young men
was to rival women in delicacy of person, to mince their gait, to walk
with loose gesture, and half naked.” This increasing dissoluteness of
manners appears to have received no effectual check under the reign of
the first Henry; in the twenty-ninth year of which, the writer just
quoted tells us that “a circumstance occurred in England, which may
seem surprising to our long-haired gallants, who, forgetting what they
were born, transform themselves into the fashion of females, by the
length of their locks. A certain English knight, who prided himself on
the luxuriance of his tresses, being conscience-stung on the subject,
seemed to feel in a dream as though some person strangled him with
his ringlets. Awaking in a fright, he immediately cut off all his
superfluous hair. The example spread throughout England; and, as recent
punishment is apt to affect the mind, almost all the barons allowed
their hair to be cropped in a proper manner, without reluctance. But
this decency was not of long continuance; for scarcely had a year
expired, before all those who thought themselves courtly, relapsed
into their former vice; they vied with women in length of locks, and
wherever these were wanting, put on false tresses; forgetful, or rather
ignorant, of the saying of the Apostle, ‘If a man nurture his hair, it
is a shame to him.’” Public and private manners were gradually running
into the terrible lawlessness of the reign of king Stephen.

William of Malmesbury points out as one of the more remarkable
circumstances which distinguished the Normans from the Saxons, the
magnitude and solidity of their domestic buildings. The Anglo-Saxons
seem, indeed, to have preferred the old national prejudice of their
race against confining themselves within stone walls, while the
Normans and Franks, who were more influenced by Roman traditions, had
become great builders. We have scarcely any information relative to
the progress of domestic architecture under William the Conqueror,
but the Norman chiefs seem from the first to have built themselves
houses of a much more substantial character than those which they found
in existence. The residence of the Conqueror, while engaged in his
operations against the insurgents in the isle of Ely, is imperfectly
described by the anonymous author of the life of Hereward. It consisted
of the hall, kitchen, and other buildings, which were inclosed by
hedges and fosses (_per sepes et foveas_), and it had an interior
and exterior court. Towards the end of the Conqueror’s reign, and in
that of his son, were raised those early Norman baronial castles, the
masonry of which has withstood the ravages of so many centuries. Under
William and his sons, few ordinary mansions and dwelling houses seem
to have been built substantially of stone; I am not aware that there
are any known remains of a stone mansion in this country older than the
reign of Henry II. The miracles of St. Cuthbert, related by Reginald
of Durham, contain one or two allusions to the private houses of the
earlier part of the twelfth century. Thus a parishioner of Kellow, near
Durham, in the time of bishop Walter Rufus (1133-1140), is described
as passing the evening drinking with the parish priest; returning home
late, he was pursued by dogs, and reaching his own house in great
terror, contrived to shut the door (_ostium domus_) upon them. He then
went up to what, from the context, appears to have been the window of
an upper floor or garret (_ad fenestram parietis_), which he opened
in order to look down with safety on his persecutors. He was suddenly
seized with madness, and his family being roused, seized him, carried
him down into the court (_in area_), and bound him to the seats (_ad
sedilia_). The same writer tells the story of a blind woman in the city
of Durham, who used to run her head against the projecting windows of
the houses (_ad fenestrarum dependentia foris laquearia_).

[Illustration: _No. 55. A Norman Carousal._]

We trace in the illuminations of the earlier Norman period the custom
of placing the principal apartment at an elevation from the ground.
The simple plan of the stone-built house of the latter part of this
century, consisted of a square room on the ground floor, often vaulted,
and of one room above it, which was the principal apartment, and the
sleeping-room. This was approached by a staircase, sometimes external
and sometimes internal, and it had a fire-place (_cheminée_), though
this was not always the case in the room below. The lower room was
the hall, and the upper apartment was called a _solar_, or _soller_
(_solarium_), a word which has been supposed to be derived from _sol_,
the sun, which was more felt in this upper room than in the lower,
inasmuch as it was better lighted--it was the sunny room. Yet, even
here, the windows were small, and without glass. We learn from Joscelin
de Brakelonde that, in the year 1182, Samson, abbot of Bury, while
lodging in a grange, or manor-house, belonging to his abbey, narrowly
escaped being burnt with the house, because the only door of the upper
story in which he was lodged happened to be locked, and the windows
were too narrow to admit of his passing through them. In the early
English “Ancren Riewle,” or rule of nuns, published by the Camden
Society, there are several allusions to the windows of the parlour,
or private room, which show that they were not glazed, but usually
covered with a cloth, or blind, which allowed sufficient light to
pass, and that they had shutters on hinges which closed them entirely.
In talking of the danger of indulging the eyes, the writer of this
treatise (p. 50) says, “My dear sisters, love your windows”--they are
called in the original text _thurles_, holes through the wall--“as
little as you may, and let them be small, and the parlour’s least and
narrowest; let the cloth in them be twofould, black cloth, the cross
white within and without.” The writer goes on to moralise on the white
cross upon a black ground. In another part of the book (p. 97), the
author supposes that men may come and seek to converse with the nuns
through the window, and goes on to say, “If any man become so mad
and unreasonable that he put forth his hand towards the windowcloth
(_the thurl-cloth_), shut the window quickly and leave him.” Under
the hall, when it was raised above the level of the ground, there was
often another vaulted room, which was the cellar, and which seems to
have been usually entered from the inside of the building. In the
accompanying cut (No. 55), taken from the celebrated tapestry of
Bayeux, are seen Harold and his companions carousing in an apartment
thus situated, and approached by a staircase from without. The object
of this was, perhaps, partly to be more private, for the ordinary
public hall at dinner times seems to have been invaded by troops of
hungry hangers on, who ate up or carried away the provisions which were
taken from the table, and became so bold that they seem to have often
seized or tried to seize the provisions from the cooks as they carried
them to the table. William Rufus established ushers of the hall and
kitchen, whole duty it was to protect the guests and the cooks from
this rude rabble. Gaimar’s description of that king’s grand feast at
Westminster, contains some curious allusions to this practice. After
telling us that three hundred ushers (_ussers_, i.e. _huissiers_), or
doorkeepers, were appointed to occupy the entrance passages (_us_), who
were to hand with rods to protect the guests as they mounted the steps
from the importunity of the _garsons_--

    _Cil cunduaient les barons_
    _Par les degrez, pur les garçons;_
    _Od les verges k’es mains teneient_
    _As barons vaie fesaient,_
    _Ke jà garçon ne s’apremast,_
    _Si alcon d’els ne l’ comandast_--

he adds, that those who carried the provisions and liquor to the table
were also attended by these ushers, that the “_lecheurs_” might not
snatch from them, or spoil, or break, the vessels in which they carried

    _Ensement tut revenaient par els_
    _Cil ki aportouent les mès_
    _De la quisine e des mesters,_
    _E li beveres e li mangers,_
    _Icil usser les cunduaient,_
    _Pur la vessele dunt servaient,_
    _Ke lecheur ne les escheçast,_
    _Ne malmeist, ne defrussast._
         --Gaimar, Estorie des Englès, l. 5985.

[Illustration: _No. 56. The Norman Butler in his Office._]

[Illustration: _No. 57. A Draw-Well._]

In the cut from the Bayeux tapestry, the feasting-room is approached
by what is evidently a staircase of stone. In our cut No. 56, taken
from a manuscript of the earlier half of the twelfth century in the
Cottonian library (Nero, C. iv.), and illustrating the story of the
marriage feast at Cana, the staircase is apparently of wood, little
better than a ladder, and the servants who are carrying up the wine
assist themselves in mounting by means of a rope. It is a picture which
at the same time exhibits several characteristics of domestic life--the
wine vessels, the cupboard in which they are kept, and the well in the
court-yard, the latter being indicated by the tree. The butler, finding
wine run short, sends the servant to draw water from the well. It may
be remarked that this appears to have been the common machinery of
the draw-well among our forefathers in the middle ages--a rude lever,
formed by the attachment of a heavy weight, perhaps of lead, at one end
of the beam, which was sufficient to raise the other end, and thus draw
up the bucket. It occurs in illuminations in manuscripts of various
periods; our example in cut No. 57 is taken from MS. Harl. No. 1257, of
the fourteenth century.

[Illustration: _No. 58. Norman Cooks and the Attendants serving at

Whatever truth there may be in William of Malmesbury’s account of the
sobriety of the Normans, there can be no doubt that the kitchen and
the cooks formed with them a very important part of the household.
According to the Bayeux tapestry, duke William brought with him from
Normandy a complete kitchen establishment, and a compartment of that
interesting monument, of which we here give a diminished copy, shows
that when he landed he found no difficulty in providing a dinner. On
the left two cooks are boiling the meat--for this still was the general
way of cooking it, as it was usually eaten salted. Above them, on a
shelf, are fowls, and other sorts of small viands, spitted ready for
roasting. Another cook is engaged at a portable stove, preparing small
cakes, pasties, &c., which he takes from the stove with a singularly
formed fork to place them on the dish. Others are carrying to the table
the roasted meats, on the spits. It will be observed that having no
“board” with them to form a table, the Norman knights make use of their
shields instead.

The reader of the life of Hereward will remember the scene in which the
hero in disguise is taken into king William’s kitchen, to entertain the
cooks. After dinner the wine and ale were distributed freely, and the
result was a violent quarrel between the cooks and Hereward; the former
used the tridents and forks for weapons (_cum tridentibus et furcis_),
while he took the spit from the fire (_de foco hastile_) as a still
more formidable weapon of defence. In the early Chanson de Roland,
Charlemagne is described also carrying his cooks with him to the war,
as William the Conqueror is pictured in the Bayeux tapestry, and they
held so important a position in his household, that, when one of his
most powerful barons, Guenelon, was accused of treason, Charlemagne is
made to deliver him in custody to the charge of his cooks, who place
him under the guard of a hundred of the “kitchen companions,” and these
treat him much in the same way as king William’s cooks sought to treat
Hereward, by cutting or plucking out his beard and whiskers.

    _Li reis fait prendre le cunte Guenelun,_
    _Si l’ cumandat as cous de sa maisun,_
    _Tut li plus maistre en apelet Besgun:_
    _‘Ben le me guarde, si cume tel felon,_
    _De ma maisnée ad faite traisun.’_
    _Cil le receit, si met c. cumpaignons_
    _De la quisine, des mielz e des pejurs;_
    _Icil li peilent la barbe e les gernuns._
                  --Chanson de Roland, p. 71.

Alexander Neckam, in his Dictionarius (written in the latter part of
the twelfth century), begins with the kitchen, as though he considered
it as the most important part of a mansion, and describes its furniture
rather minutely. There is good reason, however, for believing that the
cooking was very commonly performed in the court of the house in the
open air and perhaps it was intended to be represented so in the scene
given above from the Bayeux tapestry. The cooks are there delivering
the food through a door into the hall.

The Norman dinner-table, as shown in the Bayeux tapestry, differs not
much from that of the Anglo-Saxons. A few dishes and basins contain
viands which are not easy to be recognised, except the fish and the
fowls. Most of the smaller articles seem to have been given by the
cooks into the hands of the guests from the spits on which they had
been roasted. Another dinner scene is represented in our cut No. 59,
taken from the Cottonian manuscript already mentioned (Nero, C. iv.).
We see again similarly formed vessels to those used at table by the
Anglo-Saxons. The bread is still made in round flat cakes, and is
marked with a cross, and with a flower in the middle. The guests use no
forks; their knives are different and more varied in their forms than
under the Anglo-Saxons. Sometimes, indeed, the shape of the knives
is almost grotesque. The one represented below, in our cut No. 60, is
taken from a group in the same manuscript which furnished the preceding
cut; it is very singularly notched at the point.

[Illustration: _No. 59. An Anglo-Saxon Dinner Party._]

[Illustration: _No. 60. A Knife._]

We see in these dinner scenes that the Anglo-Normans used horns and
cups for drinking, as the Anglo-Saxons did; but the use of the horn
is becoming rare, and the bowl-shaped vessels appear to have been now
the usual drinking cup. Among the wealthy these cups seem to have
been made of glass. Reginald of Durham describes one of the monks as
bringing water for a sick man to drink in a glass cup (_vase vitreo_),
which was accidentally broken. In a splendidly illuminated manuscript
of the Psalms, of the earlier half of the twelfth century, written by
Eadwine, one of the monks of Canterbury, and which will afford much
illustration for this period,[18] we find a figure of a servant giving
to drink, who holds one of the same description of drinking cups which
were so popular at an earlier period among the Anglo-Saxons (see our
cut No. 61). He holds in the left hand the jug, which had now become
the usual vessel for carrying the liquor in any quantity. In our cut
No. 62, furnished by the same manuscript as the preceding, the servant
is taking the jug of liquor from the barrel. Our next cut, No. 63, also
taken from the Cambridge MS., represents several forms of vessels for
the table. Some of these are new to us; and they are on the whole more
elegant than most of the forms we meet with in common pictures.

[Illustration: _No. 61. A Cup-bearer._]

[Illustration: _No. 62. The Servant in the Cellar._]

[Illustration: _No. 63. Anglo-Norman Pottery._]

Wine appears to have been now more frequently used than among the
Anglo-Saxons. Neckam, in the latter part of the twelfth century, has
given us a rather playful enumeration of the qualities of good wine;
which he says should be as clear as the tears of a penitent, so that a
man may see distinctly to the bottom of his glass; its colour “should
represent the greenness of a buffalo’s horn; when drunk, it should
descend impetuously like thunder, sweet-tasted as an almond, creeping
like a squirrel, leaping like a roebuck, strong like the building of a
Cistercian monastery, glittering like a spark of fire, subtle as the
logic of the schools of Paris, delicate as fine silk, and colder than
crystal.” Yet still ale and mead continued to be the usual drinks. The
innumerable entries in Domesday Book show us how large a proportion of
the productions of the country, in the reign of William the Conqueror,
still consisted in honey, which was used chiefly for the manufacture of
mead. The manuscript in Trinity College Library, gives us a group of
bee-hives (cut No. 64), with peasants attending to them; and is chiefly
curious for the extraordinary forms which the artist, evidently no
naturalist, has given to the bees.

[Illustration: _No. 64. Anglo-Norman Bee-keepers._]

We have hardly any information on the cookery during the period we are
now describing. It is clear that numerous delicacies were served to the
tables of the noble and wealthy, but their culinary receipts are not
preserved. We read in William of Malmesbury, incidentally, that a great
prince ate garlick with a goose, from which we are led to suppose that
the Normans were fond of highly-seasoned dishes. Neckam tells us that
pork, roasted or broiled on red embers, required no other sauce than
salt or garlick; that a capon done in gobbets should be well peppered;
that a goose, roasted on the spit, required a strong garlick-sauce,
mixed with wine or “the green juice of grapes or crabs;” that a hen, if
boiled, should be cut up and seasoned with cummin, but, if roasted, it
should be basted with lard, and might be seasoned with garlick-sauce,
though it would be more savoury with simple sauce; that fish should
be cooked in a sauce composed of wine and water, and that they should
afterwards be served with a sauce composed of sage, parsley, cost,
ditany, wild thyme, and garlick, with pepper and salt. We learn from
other incidental allusions of contemporary, or nearly contemporary,
writers, that bread, butter, and cheese, were the ordinary food of
the common people, probably with little else besides vegetables. It
is interesting to remark that the three articles just mentioned, have
preserved their Anglo-Saxon names to the present times, while all kinds
of meat, beef, veal, mutton, pork, even bacon, have retained only
the names given to them by the Normans, which seems to imply that
flesh-meat was not in general use for food among the lower classes of

Bread seems almost always to have been formed in cakes, like our buns,
round in the earlier pictures, and in later ones (as in our cut No.
63), shaped more fancifully. We see it generally marked with a cross,
perhaps a superstitious precaution of the baker. The bread seems to
have been in general made for the occasion, and eaten fresh, perhaps
warm. In one of Reginald of Durham’s stories, we are told of a priest
in the forest of Arden, who, having nothing but a peck of corn left,
and receiving a large number of visitors on a sacred festival, gave it
out to be baked to provide for them. The corn was immediately ground,
perhaps with querns, and having been mixed with “dewy” water, in the
usual manner, was made into twelve loaves, and immediately placed in
the hot oven.[19] Cheese and butter seem also to have been tolerably
abundant. An illuminator of the Cambridge MS., given in our cut No.
65, represents a man milking and another churning; he who churns
appears, to use a vulgar phrase, to be “taking it at his ease.” The
milking-pail, too, is rather extraordinary in its form.

[Illustration: _No. 65. Anglo-Normans Milking and Churning._]

We have not any distinct account of the hours at which our Norman
ancestors took their meals, but they appear to have begun their day
early. In the Carlovingian romances, everybody, not excepting the
emperor and his court, rises at daybreak; and in Huon de Bordeaux (p.
270), one of the chief heroes is accused of laziness, because he was in
bed after the cock had crowed. In the romance of Doon de Mayence, the
feudal lord of that great city and territory is introduced exhorting
his son to rise betimes, for, he says, “he who sleeps too long in the
morning, becomes thin and lazy, and loses his day, if he does not amend

    _Qui trop dort au matin, maigre devient et las,_
    _Et sa journée en pert, s’y n’en amende pas._--Doon de Mayence, p. 76.

In the same romance, two of the heroes, Doon and Baudouin, also rise
with the sun, and dress and wash, and then say their prayers; after
which their attendant, Vaudri, “placed between them two a very large
pasty, on a white napkin, and brought them wine, and then said to them
in fair words, like a man of sense, ‘Sirs, you shall eat, if it please
you; for eating early in the morning brings great health, and gives one
greater courage and spirit; and drink a little of this choice wine,
which will make you strong and fierce in fight.’ ... And when Doon saw
it, he laughed, and began to eat and drink, and they breakfasted very
pleasantly and peacefully.” John of Bromyard, who wrote at a later
period, has handed down a story of a man who despaired of overcoming
the difficulty he found in keeping the fasts, until he succeeded in the
following manner: at the hour of matins (three o’clock in the morning),
when he was accustomed to break his fast, and was greatly tempted to
eat, he said to himself, “I will fast until tierce (nine o’clock), for
the love of God;” and when tierce came, he said he would fast unto sext
(the hour of noon), and so again he put off eating until none (three
o’clock in the afternoon); and so he gradually learnt to fast all day.
We may perhaps conclude that, at the time when this story was made,
nine o’clock was the ordinary hour of dinner.

This last-mentioned meal was certainly served early in the day, and
was often followed by recreations in the open air. In the romance of
Huon de Bordeaux (p. 252), the Christian chiefs, after their dinner,
go to amuse themselves on the sea-shore. In Doon de Mayence (p. 245),
they play at chess and dice after dinner; and on another occasion, in
the same romance (p. 314), the barons, after their dinner, sing and
dance together; while in Fierabras (p. 185), Charlemagne and his court
ride out on horseback, and set up a quintain, at which they justed all
day (_tout le jour_--which would imply that they began early), until
vespers (probably seven o’clock), when they returned into the palace to
refresh themselves, and afterwards to go to bed. Supper was certainly
served in the evening, and in these romances people are spoken of as
going to bed immediately after it. On one occasion, in Doon de Mayence
(p. 303), Charlemagne’s barons take no supper, but, after their beds
are prepared, they are served plentifully with fruits and wine. In the
same romance (p. 16), the guards of a castle go out, because it was a
warm evening in summer, and have their supper laid out on a table in
the field, where they remain long amusing themselves. In Fierabras (p.
68), the barons take a hot bath after dinner.

[Illustration: _No. 66. A Faldestol._]

Of the articles of household furniture during the period of which we
are now writing, we cannot give many examples. We have every reason
to believe that they were anything but numerous. A board laid upon
tressels formed the usual dining table, and an ordinary bench or form
the seat. In the French Carlovingian romances, the earlier of which
may be considered as representing society in the twelfth century, even
princes and great barons sit ordinarily upon benches. Thus, in the
romance of Huon de Bordeaux (pp. 33, 36), Charlemagne invites the young
chieftain, Huon, who had come to visit him in his palace, to sit on
the bench and drink his wine; and in the same romance (p. 263), when
Huon was received in the abbey of St. Maurice, near Bordeaux, he and
the abbot sit together on a bench. Chairs belonged to great people.
Our cut No. 66, taken from the Trinity College Psalter, represents a
chair of state, with its covering of drapery thrown over it. In some
instances the cushion appears placed upon the drapery. This seat was
the _faldestol_, a word which has been transformed in modern French
to _fauteuil_ (translated in English by elbow-chair). We read in the
Chanson de Roland of the _faldestol_ which was placed for princes, and
of the covering of white “_palie_” (a rich stuff) which was spread over
it. That of Charlemagne was of gold--

    _Un faldestoed i unt fait tut d’or mer:_
    _Là siet li reis qui dulce France tient._
                  --Chanson de Roland, p. 5.

The _faldestol_ of the Saracen king of Spain was covered with a “palie”
of Alexandrian manufacture,--

    _Un faldestoet out suz l’umbre d’un pin,_
    _Envolupet fut d’un palie Alexandrin;_
    _Là fut li reis ki tute Espaigne tint._
                              --Ib. p. 17.

The infidel emir from Egypt, when he arrives in Spain, is seated in the
midst of his host, on a _faldestol_ of ivory.

    _Sur l’erbe verte getent un palie blanc,_
    _Un faldestoed i unt mis d’olifan;_
    _Desuz s’asiet li paien Baligant._
                               --Ib. p. 102.

The _faldestol_ was not always made of such rich materials. In the
romance of Huon de Bordeaux, Charlemagne is represented as sitting in a
_faldestol_ made of elm.

    _Karles monta ens el palais plenier;_
    _Il est asis u faudestuef d’ormier._
                            Huon de Bordeaux, p. 286.

[Illustration: _No. 67. Two Chiefs Seated._]

The mouldings of the _faldestol_ in the cut No. 66 will be recognised
as exactly the same which are found on old furniture of a much more
recent period, and which, in fact, are those which offer themselves
most readily to ordinary turners. The same ornament is seen on the
chair represented in our cut No. 67, taken from the same manuscript
as the last, in which two men are seated, in a very singular manner.
It was not uncommon, however, to have seats which held several persons
together, such as the one represented in an Anglo-Saxon illumination
given in a former chapter (p. 31), and such as are still to be seen in
country public-houses, where they have preserved the Anglo-Saxon name
of _settle_. One of these is represented in our cut No. 68. The persons
seated in it, in this case, are learned men, and the cross above seems
to show that they are monks. One has a table-book, and two of the
others have rolls of parchment, which are all evidently the subject of
anxious discussion.

[Illustration: _No. 68. An Anglo-Norman Settle._]

Chairs, and even stools, were, as has been already observed, by no
means abundant in these early times, and we can easily suppose that
it would be a difficult thing to accommodate numerous visitors with
seats. To remedy this, when houses were built of stone, it was usual
to make, in the public apartments, seats, like benches, in recesses
in the wall, or projecting from it, which would accommodate a number
of persons at the same time. We find such seats usually in the
cloisters of monasteries, as well as in the chapter-houses of our
cathedral churches. In the latter they generally run round the room,
and are divided by arches into seats which were evidently intended to
accommodate two persons each, for the convenience of conversation.
This practice is illustrated by our cut No. 69, taken, like the
preceding one, from the Cambridge Manuscript; it represents a group
of seats of this kind, in which monks (apparently) are seated and
conversing two and two.

[Illustration: _No. 69. Seats in the Wall._]



Alexander Neckam has left us a sufficiently clear description of the
Norman hall. He says that it had a vestibule or screen (_vestibulum_),
and was entered through a porch (_porticus_), and that it had a court,
the Latin name of which (_atrium_) he pretends was derived from _ater_
(black), “because the kitchens used to be placed by the side of the
streets, in order that the passers-by might perceive the smell of
cooking.” This explanation is so mysterious, that we may suppose the
passage to be corrupt, but the _coquinæ_ of which Neckam is speaking
are evidently cook’s shops. In the interior of the hall, he says, there
were posts (or columns) placed at regular distances. The few examples
of Norman halls which remain are divided internally by two rows of
columns. Neckam enumerates the materials required in the construction
of the hall, which seem to show that he is speaking of a timber
building. A fine example of a timber hall, though of a later period,
is, or was recently, standing in the city of Gloucester, with its
internal “posts” as here described. There appears also to have been an
inner court-yard, in which Neckam intimates that poultry were kept. The
whole building, and the two court-yards, were no doubt surrounded by a
wall, outside of which were the garden and orchard. The Normans appear
to have had a taste for gardens, which formed a very important adjunct
to the mansion, and to the castle, and are not unfrequently alluded to
in mediæval writers, even as far back as the twelfth century. Giraldus
Cambrensis, speaking of the castle of Manorbeer (his birthplace), near
Pembroke, said that it had under its walls, besides a fine fish-pond,
“a beautiful garden, inclosed on one side by a vineyard, and on the
other by a wood, remarkable for the projection of its rocks, and the
height of its hazel-trees.” In the twelfth century, vineyards were not
uncommon in England.

[Illustration: _No. 70. A Man warming himself._]

A new characteristic was introduced into the Norman houses, and
especially into the castles, the massive walls of which allowed
chimney-flues to be carried up in their thickness. The piled-up fire
in the middle of the hall was still retained, but in the more private
apartments, and even sometimes in the hall itself, the fire was made
on a hearth beneath a fire-place built against the side wall of the
room. An illumination, in the Cottonian MS. Nero, C. iv., which we
have already had occasion to refer to more than once, represents a
man warming himself at a fireplace of this description. It appears,
from a comparison of this (No. 70) with similar figures of a later
period, that it was a usual practice to sit at the fire bare-legged
and bare-foot, with the object of imbibing the heat without the
intermediation of shoes or stockings. On a carved stall in Worcester
Cathedral, represented in our cut No. 71, which belongs to a later date
(the latter part of the fourteenth century), and the scene of which is
evidently intimated to be in the winter season, a man, while occupied
in attending to the culinary operations, has taken off his shoes in
order to warm himself in this manner. The winter provisions, two
flitches of bacon, are suspended to the left of him, and on the other
side the faithful dog seems to enjoy the fire equally with his master.
From a story related by Reginald of Durham, it appears to have been a
practice among the ladies to warm themselves by sitting over hot water,
as well as by the fire.[20] In some of the illuminations of mediæval
manuscripts, ladies are represented as warming themselves, even in the
presence of the other sex, in a very free and easy manner. The fuel
chiefly employed was no doubt still wood, but the remark of Giraldus
Cambrensis that the name of Coleshulle (in Flintshire) signified the
hill of coals (_carbonum collis_) implies that mineral coals were then

[Illustration: _No. 71. Indications of Cold Weather._]

It is hardly necessary to remark that, in the change in the mode of
living which had suddenly taken place in this country, a form of
society had also been introduced abruptly which differed entirely
from that of the Anglo-Saxons. On the continent, throughout the now
disjointed empire which had once been ruled by Charlemagne, there had
arisen, during the tenth century, amid frightful misgovernment and
the savage invasions of the northmen, a new form of society, which
received the name of feudalism, because each landholder held, either
direct from the crown or from a superior baron, by a feudal tenure, or
fee (_feodum_, _feudum_), which obliged him to military service. Each
baron had sovereignty over all those who held under him, and, in turn,
acknowledged the nominal sovereignty of a superior baron or of the
crown, which the latter practically was only sometimes able to enforce.
One great principle of this system was the right of private warfare;
and, as not only did the great barons obtain land in feudal tenure in
different countries under different independent princes, but the lesser
holders of sub-fees obtained such tenures under more than one superior
lord, and as these, when they quarrelled with one superior, made war
upon him, and threw themselves upon the protection of another who felt
bound to defend his feudatory, war became the normal state of feudal
society, and peace and tranquillity were the exceptions. One effect of
feudalism was to divide the population of the country into two distinct
classes--the landholders, or fighting-men, who alone were free, and
the agricultural population, who had no political rights whatever,
and were little better than slaves attached to the land. The towns
alone, by their own innate force, preserved their independence, but
in France the influence of feudalism extended even over them, and the
combined hostility of the crown and the aristocracy finally overthrew
their municipal independence. Feudalism was brought into England by the
Normans, but it was never established here so completely or so fully
as on the continent. The towns here never lost their independence,
but they sided sometimes with the aristocracy, and sometimes with
the crown, until finally they assisted greatly in the overthrow
of feudalism itself. Yet the whole territory of England was now
distributed in great fees, and in sub-fees; amid which a few of the old
Saxon gentry retained their position, and many of the Norman intruders
married the Saxon heiresses, in order, as they thought, to strengthen
the right of conquest; but the mass of the agricultural population were
confounded under the one comprehensive name of _villains_ (_villani_),
and reduced to a much more wretched condition than under the
Anglo-Saxon constitution. The light in which the villain was regarded
in the twelfth century in England is well illustrated in a story told
in the English “Rule of Nuns,” printed by the Camden Society. A knight,
who had cruelly plundered his poor villains, was complimented by one
of his flatterers, who said, “Ah, sir! truly thou dost well. For men
ought always to pluck and pillage the churl, who is like the willow--it
sprouteth out the better for being often cropped.”

The power and wealth of the great Norman baron were immense, and
before him, during a great part of the period of which we are now
speaking, the law of the land was a mere nominal institution. He was
in general proud, very tyrannical, and often barbarously cruel. A type
of the feudal baron in his worst point of view is presented to us in
the character of the celebrated Robert de Belesme, who succeeded his
father Roger de Montgomery in the earldom of Shropshire, and of whom
Henry of Huntingdon, who lived in his time, tells us, “He was a very
Pluto, Megæra, Cerberus, or anything that you can conceive still more
horrible. He preferred the slaughter of his captives to their ransom.
He tore out the eyes of his own children, when in sport they hid their
faces under his cloak. He impaled persons of both sexes on stakes. To
butcher men in the most horrible manner was to him an agreeable feast.”
Of a contemporary feudal chieftain in France, the same writer tells
us, “When any one, by fraud or force, fell into his hands, the captive
might truly say, ‘The pains of hell compassed me round.’ Homicide
was his passion and his glory. He imprisoned his own countess, an
unheard-of outrage; and, cruel and lewd at once, while he subjected
her to fetters and torture by day, to extort money, he forced her to
cohabit with him by night, in order to mock her. Each night his brutal
followers dragged her from her prison to his bed, each morning they
carried her from his chamber back to her prison. Amicably addressing
any one who approached him, he would plunge a sword into his side,
laughing the while; and for this purpose he carried his sword naked
under his cloak more frequently than sheathed. Men feared him, bowed
down to him, and worshipped him.” Women of rank are met with in the
histories of this period who equalled these barons in violence and
cruelty; and the relations between the sexes were marked by little
delicacy or courtesy. William the Conqueror beat his wife even before
they were married. The aristocratic class in general lived a life of
idleness, which would have been insupportable without some scenes
of extraordinary excitement, and they not only indulged eagerly in
hunting, but they continually sallied forth in parties to plunder. They
looked upon the mercantile class especially as objects of hostility;
and, as they could seldom overcome them in their towns, they waylaid
them on the public roads, deprived them of their goods and money, and
carried them to their castles, where they tortured them in order to
force them to pay heavy ransoms. The young nobles sometimes joined
together to plunder a fair or market. On the other hand, men who could
not claim the protection of aristocratic blood for their evil deeds,
established themselves under that of the wild forests, and issued
forth no less eagerly to plunder the country, and to perpetrate every
description of outrage on the persons of its inhabitants, of whatever
class they might be, who fell into their power. The purity of womanhood
was no longer prized, where it was liable to be outraged with impunity;
and immorality spread widely through all classes and ranks of society.
The declamations of the ecclesiastics and the satires of the moralists
of the twelfth century may give highly-painted pictures, but they lead
us to the conclusion that the manners and sentiments of the female sex
during the Norman period were very corrupt.

Nevertheless, feudalism did boast of certain dignified and generous
principles, and there were noble examples of both sexes, who shine
forth more brightly through the general prevalence of vice and of
selfishness and injustice. It was in the walls of the feudal castle,
amid the familiar intercourse which the want of amusement caused
among its inmates, that the principle, or practice, arose, which we
in modern times call gallantry, and which, though at first it only
led to refinement in the forms of social manners, ended in producing
refinement of sentiments. It was among the feudal aristocracy, too,
that originated the sentiment we term chivalry, which has varied
considerably in its meaning at different periods, and which, in
its best sense, existed more in romance than in reality. After the
possession of personal strength and courage, the quality which the
feudal baron admired most, was what was termed generosity, but which
meant lavish expenditure and extravagance; it was the contrast between
the baron, who spent his money, and the burgher or merchant, who gained
it, and laid it up in his coffers. “Noblemen and gentlemen,” says the
“Rule of Nuns,” already quoted, “do not carry packs, nor go about
trussed with bundles, nor with purses; it belongs to beggars to bear
bag on back, and to burgesses to bear purses.” In fact, it was the
principle of the feudal aristocracy to extort their gains from all who
laboured and trafficked, in order to squander them on those who lived
in idleness, violence, and vice. Under such circumstances, a new class
had arisen which was peculiar to feudal society, who lived entirely
upon the extravagance of the aristocracy, and who had so completely
abandoned every sentiment of morality or shame, that, in return for
the protection of the nobles, they were the ready instruments of any
base work. They were called, among various other names, _ribalds_
(_ribaldi_) and _letchers_ (_leccatores_); the origin of the first of
these words is not known, but the latter is equivalent to dish-lickers,
and did not convey the sense now given to the word, but was applied
to them on account of their gluttony. We have already seen how, in
the crowd which attended the feasts of the princes and nobles, the
letchers (_lecheurs_) were not content with waiting for what was sent
away from table, but seized upon the dishes as they were carried from
the kitchen to the hall, and how it was found necessary to make a new
office, that of ushers of the hall, to repress the disorder. “In those
great courts,” says the author of the “Rule of Nuns,” “they are called
letchers who have so lost shame, that they are ashamed of nothing, but
seek how they may work the greatest villany.” This class spread through
society like a great sore, and from the terms used in speaking of them
we derive a great part of the opprobrious words which still exist in
the English language.

The early metrical romances of the Carlovingian cycle give us an
insight into what were considered as the praiseworthy features in the
character of the feudal knight. In Doon of Mayence, for example, when
(p. 74) the aged count Guy sends his young son Doon into the world, he
counsels him thus: “You shall always ask questions of good men, and
you shall never put your trust in a stranger. Every day, fair son, you
shall hear the holy mass, and give to the poor whenever you have money,
for God will repay you double. Be liberal in gifts to all; for the more
you give, the more honour you will acquire, and the richer you will be;
for a gentleman who is too sparing will lose all in the end, and die
in wretchedness and disgrace; but give without promising wherever you
can. Salute all people when you meet them, and if you owe anything, pay
it willingly, but if you cannot pay, ask for a respite. When you come
to the hostelry, don’t stand squabbling, but enter glad and joyously.
When you enter the house, cough very loud, for there may be something
doing which you ought not to see, and it will cost you nothing to give
this notice of your approach, while those who happen to be there will
love you the better for it. Do not quarrel with your neighbour, and
avoid disputing with him before other people; for if he know anything
against you, he will let it out, and you will have the shame of it.
When you are at court, play at tables, and if you have any good points
of behaviour (_depors_), show them; you will be the more prized, and
gain the more advantage. Never make a noise or joke in church; this is
only done by unbelievers, whom God loves not. Honour all the clergy,
and speak fairly to them, but leave them as little of your goods as
you can; the more they get from you, the more you will be laughed
at; you will never profit by enriching them. And if you wish to save
your honour undiminished, meddle with nothing you do not understand,
and don’t pretend to be a proficient in what you have never learnt.
And if you have a valet, take care not to seat him at the table by
you, or take him to bed with you; for the more honour you do to a low
fellow, the more will he despise you. If you should know anything that
you would wish to conceal, tell it by no means to your wife, if you
have one; for if you let her know it, you will repent of it the first
time you displease her.” The estimate of the female character at this
period, even when given in the romances of chivalry, is by no means

With these counsels of a father, we may compare those of a mother to
her son. In the romance of Huon de Bordeaux (p. 18), when the youthful
hero leaves his home to repair to the court of Charlemagne, the duchess
addresses her son as follows: “My child,” she said, “you are going to
be a courtier; I require you, for God’s love, have nothing to do with
a treacherous flatterer; make the acquaintance of wise men. Attend
regularly at the service of holy church, and show honour and love to
the clergy. Give your goods willingly to the poor; be courteous, and
spend freely, and you will be the more loved and cherished.” On the
whole, higher sentiments are placed in the mouth of the lady than
in that of the baron. We must, however, return to the outward, and
therefore more apparent, characteristics of social life during the
Norman period.

The in-door amusements of the ordinary classes of society appear not
to have undergone much change during the earlier Norman period, but
the higher classes lived more splendidly and more riotously; and, as
far as we can judge, they seem to have been coarser in manners and
feelings. The writer of the life of Hereward has left us a curious
picture of Norman revelry. When the Saxon hero returned to Brunne, to
the home of his fathers, and found that it had been taken possession
of by a Norman intruder, he secretly took his lodging in the cottage
of a villager close by. In the night he was roused from his pillow by
loud sounds of minstrelsy, accompanied with boisterous indications of
merriment, which issued from his father’s hall, and he was told that
the new occupants were at their evening cups. He proceeded to the hall,
and entered the doorstead unobserved, from whence he obtained a view
of the interior of the hall. The new lord of Brunne was surrounded by
his knights, who were scattered about helpless from the extent of their
potations, and reclining in the laps of their women. In the midst of
them stood a jougleur, or minstrel, alternately singing and exciting
their mirth with coarse and brutal jests. It is a first rough sketch of
a part of mediæval manners, which we shall find more fully developed
at a somewhat later period. The brutality of manners exhibited in the
scene which I have but imperfectly described, and which is confirmed by
the statements of writers of the following century, soon degenerated
into heartless ferocity, and when we reach the period of the civil wars
of Stephen’s reign, we find the amusements of the hall varied with the
torture of captive enemies.

In his more private hours of relaxation, the Norman knight amused
himself with games of skill or hazard. Among these, the game of chess
became now very popular, and many of the rudely carved chessmen of the
twelfth century have been found in our island, chiefly in the north,
where they appear to have been manufactured. They are usually made of
the tusk of the walrus, the native ivory of Western Europe, which was
known popularly as whale’s bone. The whalebone of the middle ages is
always described as white, and it was a common object of comparison
among the early English poets, who, when they would describe the
delicate complexion of a lady, usually said that she was “white as
whale’s bone.” These, as well as dice, which were now in common use,
were also made of horn and bone, and the manufacture of such articles
seems to have been a very extensive one. Even in the little town of
Kirkcudbright, on the Scottish border, there was, in the middle of
the twelfth century, a maker of combs, draughtsmen, chessmen, dice,
spigots, and other such articles, of bone and horn, and stag’s horn
appears to have been a favourite material.[21]

In the Chanson de Roland, Charlemagne and his knights are represented,
after the capture of Cordova from the Saracens, as sitting in a shady
garden, some of them playing at tables, and others at chess.

    _Sur palies blancs siedent cil cevalers,_
    _ As tables juent pur els esbaneier,_
    _ E as eschecs li plus saive e li veill_
    _ E escremissent cil bacheler leger._

Chess, as the higher game, is here described as the amusement of the
chiefs, the old, and the wise; the knights play at tables, or draughts;
but the young bachelors are admitted to neither of these games, they
amuse themselves with bodily exercises--sham fights.

[Illustration: _No. 72. A Norman Lantern._]

Although such games were not unusually played by day, they were
more especially the amusements which employed the long evenings of
winter, and candles appear at this time to have been more generally
used than at a former period. They still continued to be fixed on
candlesticks, and not in them, and spikes appear sometimes to have
been attached to tables or other articles of furniture, to hold them.
Thus, in one of the pretended miracles told by Reginald of Durham, a
sacristan, occupied in committing the sacred vestments to the safety
of a cupboard, fixed his candle on a stick or spike of wood on one
side (_candelam ... in assere collaterali confixit_), and forgetting
to take away the candle, locked the cupboard door, and only discovered
his negligence when he found the whole cupboard in flames. Another
ecclesiastic, reading in bed, fixed his candle on the top of one of
the sides (_spondilia_) of his bed. Another individual bought two small
candles (_candelas modicas_) for an _obolus_, but the value of the
coin thus named is not very exactly known. The candle appears to have
been usually placed at night in or on the chimney, or fire-place, with
which the chamber was now furnished. In Fierabras (p. 93), a thief,
having obtained admission in the night to the chamber of the princess
Floripas, takes a candle from the chimney, and lights it at the fire,
from which we are led to suppose that it was usual to keep the fire
alight all night.

    _Isnelement et tost vient à la ceminée,_
    _Une chandelle a prinse, au fu l’a alumée._

On another occasion (p. 67), a fire is lit in the chimney of Floripas’s
chamber, and afterwards a table is laid there, and dinner served.
Lanterns were now also in general use. The earliest figure of a lantern
that I remember to have met with in an English manuscript is one
furnished by MS. Cotton. Nero, C. iv., which is represented in our cut
(No. 72). It differs but little from the same article as used in modern
times; the sides are probably of horn, with a small door through which
to put the candle, and the domed cover is pierced with holes for the
egress of the smoke.

[Illustration: _No. 73. Occupations of the Ladies._]

We begin now to be a little better acquainted with the domestic
occupations of the ladies, but we shall be able to treat more fully
of these in a subsequent chapter. Not the least usual of these was
weaving, an art which appears to have been practised very extensively
by the female portion of the larger households. The manuscript Psalter
in Trinity College, Cambridge, furnishes us with the very curious
group of female weavers given in our cut No. 73. It explains itself,
as much, at least, as it can easily be explained, and I will only
observe that the scissors here employed are of the form common to
the Romans, to the Saxons, and to the earlier Normans; they are the
Saxon _scear_, and this name, as well as the form, is still preserved
in that of the “shears” of the modern clothiers. Music was also a
favourite occupation, and the number of musical instruments appears to
be considerably increased. Some of these seem to have been elaborately
constructed. The manuscript last mentioned furnishes us with the
accompanying figure of a large organ, of laborious though rather clumsy

[Illustration: _No. 74. A Norman Organ._]

In the dwellings of the nobles and gentry, there was more show
of furniture under the Normans than under the Saxons. Cupboards
(_armaria, armoires_) were more numerous, and were filled with vessels
of earthenware, wood, or metal, as well as with other things. Chests
and coffers were adorned with elaborate carving, and were sometimes
inlaid with metal, and even with enamel. The smaller ones were made of
ivory, or bone, carved with historical subjects. Rich ornamentation
generally began with ecclesiastics, and we find by the subjects carved
upon them that the earlier ivory coffers or caskets belonged to
churchmen. When they were made for lords and ladies, they were usually
ornamented with subjects from romance, or from the current literature
of the day. The beds, also, were more ornamental, and assumed novel
forms. Our cut No. 75, taken from MS. Cotton. Nero, C. iv., differs
little from some of the Anglo-Saxon figures of beds. But the tester
bed, or bed with a roof at the head, and hangings, was now introduced.
In Reginald of Durham, we are told of a sacristan who was accustomed to
sit in his bed and read at night. One night, having fixed his candle
upon one of the sides of the bed (_supra spondilia lectuli suprema_),
he fell accidentally asleep. The fire communicated itself from the
candle to the bed, which, being filled with straw, was soon enveloped
in flame, and this communicated itself with no less rapidity to the
combination of arches and planks of which the frame of the bed was
composed (_ligna materies archarum et asserum copiosa_). Above the
bed was a wooden frame (_quædam tabularia stratura_), on which he was
accustomed to pile the curtains, dorsals, and other similar furniture
of the church. Neckam, in the latter part of the twelfth century,
describes the chamber as having its walls covered with a curtain, or
tapestry. Besides the bed, he says, there should be a chair, and at the
foot of the bed a bench. On the bed was placed a quilt (_culcitra_) of
feathers (_plumalis_), to which is joined a pillow; and this is covered
with a pointed (_punctata_) or striped (_stragulata_) quilt, and a
cushion is placed upon this, on which to lay the head. Then came sheets
(_lintheamina, linceuls_), made sometimes of rich silks, but more
commonly of linen, and these were covered with a coverlet made of green
say, or of cloth made of the hair of the badger, cat, beaver, or sable.
On one side of the chamber was a _perche_, or pole, projecting from
the wall, for the falcons, and in another place a similar perch for
hanging articles of dress. It was not unusual to have only one chamber
in the house, in which there were, or could be made, several beds, so
that all the company, even if of different sexes, slept in the same
room. Servants and persons of lower degree might sleep unceremoniously
in the hall. In the romance of Huon de Bordeaux (p. 270), Huon, his
wife, and his brother, when lodged in a great abbey, sleep in three
different beds in the same room, no doubt in the guest-house. Among the
Anglo-Normans, the chamber seems to have frequently, if not generally,
occupied an upper floor, so that it was approached by stairs.

[Illustration: _No. 75. A Norman Bed._]

The out-of-doors amusements of this period appear in general to have
been rude and boisterous. The girls and women seem to have been
passionately fond of the dance, which was their common amusement at
all public festivals. The young men applied themselves to gymnastic
exercises, such as wrestling, and running, and boxing; and they had
bull-baitings, and sometimes bear-baitings. On Roman sites, the ancient
amphitheatres seem still to have been used for such exhibitions; and
the Roman amphitheatre at Banbury, in Oxfordshire, was known by the
title of “The Bull-ring” down to a very late period. The higher ranks
among the Normans were extraordinarily addicted to the chace, to secure
which they adopted severe measures for preserving the woods and the
beasts which inhabited them. Every reader of English history knows the
story of the New Forest, and of the fate which there befell the great
patron of hunting--William Rufus. The Saxon Chronicle, in summing up
the character of William the Conqueror, tells us that he “made large
forests for the deer, and enacted laws therewith, so that whoever
killed a hart or a hind, should be blinded. As he forbade killing the
deer, so also the boars; and he loved the tall stags as if he were
their father. He also appointed concerning the hares, that they should
go free.” The passion of the aristocracy for hunting was a bane to the
rural population in more ways than one. Not only did they ride over
the cultivated lands, and destroy the crops, but wherever they came
they lived at free quarter on the unfortunate population, ill-treating
the men, and even outraging the females, at will. John of Salisbury
complains bitterly of the cruelty with which the country-people were
treated, if they happened to be short of provisions when the hunters
came to their houses. “If one of these hunters come across your land,”
he says, “immediately and humbly lay before him everything you have
in your house, and go and buy of your neighbours whatever you are
deficient of, or you may be plundered and thrown into prison for your
disrespect to your betters.” The weapons generally used in hunting the
stag were bows and arrows. It was a barbed arrow which pierced the
breast of the second William, when he was hunting the stag in the wilds
of the New Forest. Our cut (No. 76), from the Trinity College Psalter,
represents a horseman hunting the stag. The noble animal is closely
followed by a brace of hounds, and just as he is turning up a hill, the
huntsman aims an arrow at him. As far as we can gather from the few
authorities in which it is alluded to, the Saxon peasantry were not
unpractised hands at the bow. We find them enjoying the character of
good archers very soon after the Norman conquest, under circumstances
which seem to preclude the notion that they derived their knowledge of
this arm from the invaders. In the miracles of St. Bega, printed by Mr.
G. C. Tomlinson, in 1842, there is a story which shows the skill of
the young men of Cumberland in archery very soon after the entrance
of the Normans; and the original writer, who lived perhaps not much
after the middle of the twelfth century, assures us that the Hibernian
Scots, and the men of Galloway, who were the usual enemies of the men
of Cumberland, “feared these sort of arms more than any others, and
called an arrow, proverbially, a _flying devil_.” We learn from this
and other accounts, that the arrows of this period were barbed and
fledged, or furnished with feathers. It may be observed, in support
of the assertion that the use of bows and arrows was derived from the
Saxons, that the names _bow_ (_boga_) and _arrow_ (_arewe_), by which
they have always been known, are taken directly from their language;
whereas, if the practice of archery had been introduced by the Normans,
it is probable we should have called them _arcs_ and _fletches_.

[Illustration: _No. 76. A Stag-hunt._]

After the entrance of the Normans, we begin to find more frequent
allusions to the convivial meetings of the middle and lower orders in
ordinary inns or private houses. Thus, we have a story in Reginald
of Durham, of a party of the parishioners of Kellow, who went to a
drinking party at the priest’s, and passed in this manner a great
portion of the night.[22] This occurred in the time of bishop Geoffrey
Rufus, between 1133 and 1140. A youth and his monastic teacher are
represented on another occasion as going to a tavern, and passing the
whole of the night in drinking, till one of them becomes inebriated,
and cannot be prevailed on to return home. Another of Reginald’s
stories describes a party in a private house, sitting and drinking
round the fire. We are obliged thus to collect together slight and
often trivial allusions to the manners of a period during which we have
so few detailed descriptions. Hospitality was at this time exercised
among all classes freely and liberally; the misery of the age made
people meet together with more kindliness. The monasteries had their
open guest-houses, and the unknown traveller was seldom refused a
place at the table of the yeoman. In towns, most of the burgesses or
citizens were in the habit of receiving strangers as private lodgers,
in addition to the accommodation afforded in the regular _hospitia_
or taverns. Travelling, indeed, was more usual under the Normans than
it had been under the Saxons, for it was facilitated by the more
extensive use of horses. But this also brought serious evils upon the
country; for troops of followers and rude retainers who attended on
the proud and tyrannical aristocracy, were in the habit of taking up
their lodgings at will and discretion, and living upon the unfortunate
householders without pay. It had been, even during the Anglo-Saxon
period, a matter of pride and ostentation among men of rank--especially
the king’s officers--to travel about accompanied with a great multitude
of followers,[23] and this practice certainly did not diminish under
the Normans. But, whether in great numbers or in small, the travellers
of the twelfth century sought the means of amusing themselves during
their journey, and these amusements resembled some of those which were
employed at the dinner-table--they told stories, or repeated episodes
from romances, or sung, and they sometimes had minstrels to accompany
them. In the romance of Huon de Bordeaux, Huon, on his journey from his
native city to Paris, asks his brother Gerard to sing, to enliven them
on the road,--

    _Cante, biau frere, pour nos cors esjoir._--Huon de Bordeaux, p. 18.

But Gerard declines, because a disagreeable dream of the preceding
night has made his heart sorrowful. When we turn from romance to sober
history, we learn from Giraldus Cambrensis how Gilbert de Clare,
journeying from England to his great possessions in Cardiganshire,
was preceded by a minstrel and a singing-man, who played and sang
alternately, and how the noise they made gave notice of his approach to
the Welshmen who lay in ambush to kill him.

[Illustration: _No. 77. Norman Travellers._]

[Illustration: _No. 78. Cars._]

A group of Norman travellers is here given from the Cottonian MS.
Nero, C. iv. It is intended to represent Joseph and the Virgin Mary
travelling into Egypt. The Virgin on the ass, or mule, is another
example of the continued practice among ladies of riding sideways.
Mules appear to have been the animals on which ladies usually rode at
this period. In the romance of Huon de Bordeaux (p. 60), when Huon,
immediately after his marriage, proceeds on his journey homeward,
he mounts his young duchess on a mule; so also, in the romance of
Gaufrey (p. 62), the princess Flordespine is mounted on “a rich mule,”
the trappings of which are rather minutely described. “The saddle
was of ivory, inset with gold; on the bridle there was a gem of such
power that it gave light in the darkness of night, and whoever bore
it was preserved from all disease; the saddle-cloth (_sambue_) was
wonderfully made; she had thirty little bells behind the _cuirie_,
which, when the mule ambled, made so great a melody that harp or
viol were worth nothing in comparison.” The Anglo-Norman historian,
Ordericus Vitalis, has preserved a legend of a vision of purgatory,
in which the priest who is supposed to have seen it describes, among
other suffering persons, “a crowd of women who seemed to him to be
innumerable. They were mounted on horseback, riding in female fashion,
with women’s saddles.... In this company the priest recognised several
noble ladies, and beheld the palfreys and mules, with the women’s
litters, of others who were still alive.” The Trinity College Psalter
furnishes us with the two figures of cars given in our cut No. 78; but
they are so fanciful in shape, that we can hardly help concluding they
must have been mere rude and grotesque attempts at imitating classical

[Illustration: _No. 79. The Stocks._]

The manuscript last mentioned affords us two other curious
illustrations of the manners of the earlier half of the twelfth
century. The first of these (No. 79) represents two men in the stocks,
one held by one leg only, the other by both. The men to the left are
hooting and insulting them. The second, represented in our cut No.
80, is the interior of a Norman school. We give only a portion of the
original, where the bench, on which the scholars are seated, forms
a complete circle. The two writers, the teacher, who seems to be
lecturing _viva voce_, and his seat and desk, are all worthy of notice.
We have very little information on the forms and methods of teaching
in schools at this period, but schools seem to have been numerous in
all parts of the country. We have more than one allusion to them in the
_naïve_ stories of Reginald of Durham. From one of these we learn that
a school, according to a custom “now common enough,” was kept in the
church of Norham, on the Tweed, the parish priest being the teacher.
One of the boys, named Aldene, had incurred the danger of correction,
to escape which he took the key of the church door, which appears to
have been in his custody, and threw it into a deep pool in the river
Tweed, then called Padduwel, and now Pedwel or Peddle, a place well
known as a fishing station. He hoped by this means to escape further
scholastic discipline, from the circumstance that the scholars would be
shut out by the impossibility of opening the church door. Accordingly,
when the time of vespers came, and the priest arrived, the key of the
door was missing, and the boy declared that he did not know where it
was. The lock was too strong and ponderous to be broken or forced, and,
after a vain effort to open the door, the evening was allowed to pass
without divine service. The story goes on to say, that in the night
St. Cuthbert appeared to the priest, and inquired wherefore he had
neglected his service. On hearing the explanation, the saint ordered
him to go next morning to the fishing station at Padduwel, and buy the
first net of fish that was drawn out of the river. The priest obeyed,
and in the net was a salmon of extraordinary magnitude, in the throat
of which was found the lost key of Norham church.

[Illustration: _No. 80. A Norman School._]

Among the aristocracy of the land, the education of the boy took what
was considered at that time a very practical turn--he was instructed
in behaviour, in manly exercises and the use of arms, in carving at
table--then looked upon as a most important accomplishment among
gentlemen--and in some other branches of learning which we should
hardly appreciate at present; but school learning was no mediæval
gentleman’s accomplishment, and was, in that light, quite an exception,
unless perhaps to a certain degree among the ladies. In the historical
romances of the middle ages, a prince or a baron is sometimes able
to read, but it is the result of accidental circumstances. Thus, in
the romance of the “Mort de Garin,” when the empress of the Franks
writes secret news from Paris to duke Garin, the head of the family of
the Loherains, it is remarked, as an unusual circumstance, that the
latter was able to read, and that he could thus communicate the secret
information of the empress to his friends without the assistance of
a scholar or secretary, which was a great advantage, as it prevented
one source of danger of the betrayal of the correspondence. “Garin the
Loherain,” says the narrator, “was acquainted with letters, for in his
infancy he was put to school until he had learned both Roman (French)
and Latin.”

    _De letres sot li Loherens Garins;_
    _Car en s’enfance fu à escole mis,_
    _Tant que il sot et Roman et Latin._
               --Mort de Garin, p. 105.

Education of this kind was bestowed more generally on the
_bourgeoisie_--on the middle and even the lower classes; and to these
school-education was much more generally accessible than we are
accustomed to imagine. From Anglo-Saxon times, indeed, every parish
church had been a public school. The Ecclesiastical Institutes (p. 475,
in the folio edition of the Laws, by Thorpe) directs that “Mass-priests
ought always to have at their houses a school of disciples; and if
any one desire to commit his little ones (_lytlingas_) to them for
instruction, they ought very gladly to receive them, and kindly teach
them.” It is added that “they ought not, however, for that instruction,
to desire anything from their relatives, except what they shall be
willing to do for them of their own accord.” In the Ecclesiastical
Canons, published under king Edgar, there is an enactment which would
lead us to suppose that the clergy performed their scholastic duties
with some zeal, and that priests were in the habit of seducing their
scholars from each other, for this enactment (p. 396) enjoins “that
no priest receive another’s scholar without leave of him whom he
previously followed.” This system of teaching was kept up during at
least several generations after the Norman conquest.



After the middle of the twelfth century, we begin to be better
acquainted with the domestic manners of our forefathers, and from
that period to the end of the fourteenth century the change was very
gradual, and in many respects they remained nearly the same. In the
middle classes, especially in the towns, there had been a gradual
fusion of Norman and Saxon manners, while the Norman fashions and the
Norman language prevailed in the higher classes, and the manners of
the lower classes remained, probably, nearly the same as before the

We now obtain a more perfect notion of the houses of all classes, not
only from more frequent and exact descriptions, but from existing
remains. The principal part of the building was still the hall, or,
according to the Norman word, the _salle_, but its old Saxon character
seems to have been so universally acknowledged, that the first or Saxon
name prevailed over the other. The name now usually given to the whole
dwelling-house was the Norman word _manoir_ or manor, and we find this
applied popularly to the houses of all classes, excepting only the
cottages of labouring people. In houses of the twelfth century, the
hall, standing on the ground floor, and open to the roof, still formed
the principal feature of the building. The chamber generally adjoined
to it at one end, and at the other was usually a stable (_croiche_).
The whole building stood within a small enclosure, consisting of a yard
or court in front, called in Norman _aire_ (area), and a garden, which
was surrounded usually with a hedge and ditch. In front, the house
had usually one door, which was the main entrance into the hall. From
this latter apartment there was a door into the chamber at one end,
and one into the _croiche_ or stable at the other end, and a back door
into the garden. The chamber had also frequently a door which opened
also into the garden; the stable, as a matter of course, would have a
large door or outlet into the yard. The chief windows were those of the
hall. These, in common houses, appear to have been merely openings,
which might be closed with wooden shutters; and in other parts of the
building they were nothing but holes (_pertuis_); there appears to
have been usually one of these holes in the partition wall between the
chamber and the hall, and another between the hall and the stable.
There was also an outer window, or _pertuis_, to the chamber.

In the popular French and Anglo-Norman _fabliaux_, or tales in verse,
which belong mostly to the thirteenth century, we meet with many
incidents illustrating this distribution of the apartments of the
house, which no doubt continued essentially the same during that and
the following century. Thus in a fabliau published by M. Jubinal, an
old woman of mean condition in life, dame Auberée, is described as
visiting a burgher’s wife, who, with characteristic vanity, takes
her into the chamber adjoining (_en une chambre ilueques près_), to
show her her handsome bed. When the lady afterwards takes refuge with
dame Auberée, she also shows her out of the hall into a chamber close
adjoining (_en une chambre iluec de joste_). In a fabliau entitled
_Du prestre crucifié_, published by Méon, a man returning home at
night, sees what is going on in the hall through a _pertuis_, or hole
made through the wall for a window, before he opens the door (_par
un pertuis les a veuz_). In another fabliau published in the larger
collection of Barbazan, a lady in her chamber sees what is passing
in the hall _par un pertuis_. In the fabliau of _Le povre clerc_ (or
scholar), the clerc, having asked for a night’s lodging at the house of
a miller during the miller’s absence, is driven away by the wife, who
expects a visit from her lover the priest, and is unwilling to have an
intruder. The clerc, as he is going away, meets the miller, who, angry
at the inhospitable conduct of his dame, takes him back to the house.
The priest in the meantime had arrived, and is sitting in the hall
with the good wife, who, hearing a knock at the door, makes her lover
hide himself in the stable (_croiche_). From the stable the priest
watches the company in the hall through a window (_fenestre_), which
is evidently only another name for the _pertuis_. In one fabliau the
gallant comes through the court or garden, and is let into the hall by
the back door; in another a woman is introduced into the chamber by a
back door, or, as it is called in the text, a false door (_par un fax
huis_), while the hall is occupied by company.

The arrangements of an ordinary house in the country are illustrated
in the fabliau _De Barat et de Haimet_, printed in the collection of
Barbazan. Two thieves undertake to rob a third of “a bacon,” which he
(Travers) had hung on the beam or rafter of his house, or hall:--

    _Travers l’avoit à une hart_
    _Au tref de sa meson pendu._

The thieves make a hole in the wall, by which one enters without waking
Travers or his wife, although they were sleeping with the door of their
chamber open. The bacon is thus stolen and carried away. Travers,
roused by the noise of their departure, rises from his bed, follows the
thieves, and ultimately recaptures his bacon. He resolves now to cook
the bacon, and eat some of it, and for this purpose a fire is made, and
a cauldron full of water hung over it. This appears to be performed in
the middle of the hall. The thieves return, and, approaching the door,
one of them looked through the _pertuis_, and saw the bacon boiling:--

    _Baras mist son oeil au pertuis,_
    _Et voit que la chaudiere bout._

The thieves then climb the roof, uncover a small space at the top
silently, and attempt to draw up the bacon with a hook.

[Illustration: _No. 81. An Anglo-Norman House._]

[Illustration: _No. 82. The Hall and Chamber._]

From the unskilfulness of the mediæval artists in representing details
where any knowledge of perspective was required, we have not so much
information as might be expected from the illuminated manuscripts
relating to the arrangements of houses. But a fine illuminated copy
of the romances of the San Graal and the Round Table, executed at
the beginning of the fourteenth century, and now preserved in the
British Museum (MS. Addit. Nos. 10,292-10,294), furnishes us with
one or two rather interesting illustrations of this subject. The
romances themselves were composed in Anglo-Norman, in the latter half
of the twelfth century. The first cut which we shall select from this
manuscript is a complete view of a house; it belongs to a chapter
entitled _Ensi que Lancelot ront les fers d’une fenestre, et si entre
dedens pour gesir avoec la royne_. The queen has informed Lancelot that
the head of her bed lies near the window of her chamber, and that he
may come by night to the window, which is defended by an iron grating,
to talk with her, and she tells him that the wall of the adjacent hall
is in one part weak and dilapidated enough to allow of his obtaining an
entrance through it; but Lancelot prefers breaking open the grating in
order to enter directly into the chamber, to passing through the hall.
The grating of the chamber window appears to have been common in the
houses of the rich and noble; in the records of the thirteenth century,
the grating of the chamber windows of the queen is often mentioned.
The window behind Lancelot in our cut is that of the hall, and is
distinguished by architectural ornamentation. The ornamental hinges of
the door, with the lock and the knocker, are also curious. Our next
cut (No. 82), taken from this same manuscript, represents part of the
house of a knight, whose wife has an intrigue with one of the heroes of
these romances, king Claudas. The knight lay in wait to take the king,
as he was in the lady’s chamber at night, but the king, being made
aware of his danger, escaped by the chamber-window, while the knight
expected to catch him by entering at the hall door. The juxtaposition
of hall and chamber is here shown very plainly. In another chapter
of the same romances, the king takes Lancelot into a chamber to talk
with him apart, while his knights wait for them in the hall; this is
pictorially represented in an illumination copied in the accompanying
cut (No. 83), which shows exactly the relative position of the hall and
chamber. The door here is probably intended for that which led from the
hall into the chamber.

[Illustration: _No. 83. The Knights in waiting._]

We see from continual allusions that an ordinary house, even among
men of wealth, had usually only one chamber, which served as his
sleeping-room, and as the special apartment of the female portion of
the household--the lady and her maids, while the hall was employed
indiscriminately for cooking, eating and drinking, receiving visitors,
and a variety of other purposes, and at night it was used as a common
sleeping-room. These arrangements, and the construction of the house,
varied according to the circumstances of the locality and the rank of
the occupiers. Among the rich, a stable did not form part of the house,
but its site was often occupied by the kitchen, which was almost always
placed close to the hall. Among the higher classes other chambers
were built, adjacent to the chief chamber, or to the hall, though in
larger mansions they sometimes occupied a tower or separate building
adjacent. The form, however, which the manor-house generally took was
a simple oblong square. A seal of the thirteenth century, attached to
a deed by which, in June, 1272, William Moraunt grants to Peter Picard
an acre of land in the parish of Otteford in Kent, furnishes us with a
representation of William Moraunt’s manor-house. It is a simple square
building, with a high-pitched roof, as appears always to have been the
case in the early English houses, and a chimney. The hall door, it will
be observed, opens outwardly, as is the case in the preceding cuts,
which was the ancient Roman manner of opening of the outer door of the
house; it may be added that it was the custom to leave the hall door
or _huis_ (_ostium_) always open by day, as a sign of hospitality. It
will also be observed that there is a curious coincidence in the form
of chimney with the cuts from the illuminated manuscript. We must not
overlook another circumstance in these delineations,--the position
of the chimney, which is usually over the chamber, and not over the
hall. Fireplaces in the wall and chimneys were first introduced in the

[Illustration: _No. 84. Seal of W. Moraunt._]

As the grouping together of several apartments on the ground-floor
rendered the whole building less compact and less defensible, the
practice soon rose, especially in the better _manoirs_, of making
apartments above. This upper apartment was called a _soler_
(_solarium_, a word supposed to be derived from _sol_, the sun, as
being, by its position, nearer to that luminary, or as receiving
more light from it). It was at first, and in the lesser mansions,
but a small apartment raised above the chamber, and approached by a
flight of steps outside, though (but more rarely) the staircase was
sometimes internal. In our first cut from the Museum manuscript (No.
81), there is a soler over the chamber, to which the approach appears
to be from the inside. In the early metrical tales the _soler_, and
its exterior _staircase_, are often alluded to. Thus, in the fabliau
_D’Estourmi_, in Barbazan, a burgher and his wife deceive three monks
of a neighbouring abbey who make love to the lady; she conceals her
husband in the soler above, to which he ascends by a flight of steps:--

    _Tesiez, vous monterez là sus_
    _En cel solier tout coiement._

The monk, before he enters the house, passes through the court
(_cortil_), in which there is a sheepcot (_bercil_), or perhaps a
stable. The husband from the soler above looks through a lattice or
grate and sees all that passes in the hall--

    _Par la treillie le porlingne._

The stairs seem, therefore, to have been outside the hall, with a
latticed window looking into it from the top. The monk appears to have
entered the hall by the back door, and the chamber is adjacent to the
hall (as in houses which had no soler), on the side opposite to that
on which were the stairs. When another monk comes, the husband hides
himself under the stairs (_souz le degré_). The bodies of the monks
(who are killed by the husband) are carried out _parmi une fausse
posterne_ which leads into the fields (_aus chans_). In the fabliau of
_La Saineresse_, a woman who performs the operation of bleeding comes
to the house of a burgher, and finds the man and his wife seated on a
bench in the yard before the hall--

    _En mi l’aire de sa meson._

The lady says she wants bleeding, and takes her upstairs into the

    _Montez là sus en cel solier,_
    _Il m’estuet de vostre mestier._

They enter, and close the door. The apartment on the soler, although
there was a bed in it, is not called a chamber, but a room or saloon

    _Si se descendent del perrin,_
    _Contreval les degrez enfin_
    _Vindrent errant en la maison._

The expression that they came down the stairs, and _into the house_,
shows that the staircase was outside.

In another fabliau, _De la borgoise d’Orliens_, a burgher comes to his
wife in the disguise of her gallant, and the lady, discovering the
fraud, locks him up in the soler, pretending he is to wait there till
the household is in bed--

    _Je vous metrai privéement_
    _En un solier dont j’ai la clef._

She then goes to meet her _ami_, and they come from the garden
(_vergier_) direct into the chamber without entering the hall. Here she
tells him to wait while she goes _in there_ (_là dedans_), to give her
people their supper, and she leaves him while she goes into the hall.
The lady afterwards sends her servants to beat her husband, pretending
him to be an importunate suitor whom she wishes to punish! “he waits
for me up there in that room:”--

    _Là sus m’atent en ce perin._
       *       *       *       *       *
    _Ne souffrez pas que il en isse,_
    _Ainz l’acueillier al solier haut._

They beat him as he descends the stairs, and pursue him into the
garden, all which passes without entering the lower apartments of the
house. The _soler_, or upper part of the house, appears to have been
considered the place of greatest security--in fact it could only be
entered by one door, which was approached by a flight of steps, and was
therefore more easily defended than the ground floor. In the beautiful
story _De l’ermite qui s’acompaigna à l’ange_, the hermit and his
companion seek a night’s lodging at the house of a rich but miserly
usurer, who refuses them admittance into the house, and will only
permit them to sleep under the staircase, in what the story terms an
_auvent_ or shed. The next morning the hermit’s young companion goes
upstairs into the soler to find the usurer, who appears to have slept
there for security--

    _Le vallet les degrez monta,_
    _El solier son hoste trova._

It was in the thirteenth century a proverbial characteristic of an
avaricious and inhospitable person, to shut his hall door and live in
the soler. In a poem of this period, in which the various vices of the
age are placed under the ban of excommunication, the miser is thus
pointed out:--

    _Encor escommeni-je plus_
    _Riche homme qui ferme son huis,_
    _Et va mengier en solier sus._

The _huis_ was the door of the hall. The soler appears also to have
been considered as the room of honour for rich lodgers or guests who
paid well. In the fabliau _Des trois avugles de Compiengne_, three
blind men come to the house of a burgher, and require to be treated
better than usual; on which he shows them upstairs--

    _En la haute logis les maine._

A clerc, who follows, after putting his horse in the stable, sits at
table with his host in the hall, while the three other guests are
served “like knights” in the soler above--

    _Et li avugle du solier_
    _Furent servi com chevalier._

[Illustration: _No. 85. Ancient Manor-House, Millichope, Shropshire._]

During the period of which we are speaking, the richer the householder,
the greater need he had of studying strength and security, and hence
with him the soler, or upper story, became of more importance, and was
often made the principal part of the house, at least that in which
himself and his family placed themselves at night. This was especially
the case in stone buildings, where the ground-floor was often a low
vaulted apartment, which seems to have been commonly looked upon as a
cellar, while the principal room was on the first-floor, approached
usually by a staircase on the outside. A house of this kind is
represented in one of our cuts taken from the Bayeux tapestry, where
the guests are carousing in the room on the first-floor. Yet still the
vaulted room on the ground-floor was perhaps more often considered as
the public apartment. In this manner the two apartments of the house,
instead of standing side by side, were raised one upon the other, and
formed externally a square mass of masonry. Several examples of early
manor-houses of this description still remain, among which one of the
most remarkable is that at Millichope in Shropshire; which evidently
belongs to the latter half of the twelfth century. It has not been
noticed in any work on domestic architecture, but I am enabled to
describe it from two private lithographed plates by Mrs. Stackhouse
Acton, of Acton Scott, from which the accompanying cuts are taken.
The first (No. 85) represents the present outward appearance of the
ancient building, which is now an adjunct to a farm-house. The plan
is a rectangle, considerably longer from north to south than in the
transverse direction. The walls are immensely thick on the ground-floor
in comparison to the size of the building, as will be seen from the
plan of the ground-floor given in the next cut (No. 86). The original
entrance was at _b_, by a late Norman arch, slightly ornamented, which
is seen in the view. To the right of this is seen one of the original
windows, also round arched. On the north and east sides were two other
windows, the openings of them all being small towards the exterior,
but enlarging inwards. The interior must have been extremely dark;
nevertheless it contains a fireplace, and was probably the public room.
The opening at _a_ is merely a modern passage into the farm-house.
As this house stands on the borders of Wales, and therefore security
was the principal consideration, the staircase, from the thickness
of the walls, was safer inside than on the exterior. We accordingly
find that it was worked into the mass of the wall in the south-west
corner, the entrance being at _c_. The steps of the lower part--it was
a stone staircase--are concealed or destroyed, so that we hardly know
how it commenced, but there are steps of stone now running up to the
soler or upper apartment, as represented in our plan of the upper
floor. This staircase received light at the bottom and at the top, by
a small loop-hole worked through the wall. Although the walls were so
massive in the lower room, the staircase was secured by extraordinary
precautions. At the top of the steps at _d_, again at _e_, and a third
time at _f_, were strong doors, secured with bolts, which it would
have required great force to break open. The last of these doors led
into the upper apartment, which was rather larger than the lower one,
the west wall being here much thinner. This was evidently the family
apartment; it had two windows, on the north and east sides, each having
seats at the side, with ornamentation of early English character. A
view of the northern window from the interior, with its seats, is given
in our cut No. 88; it is the same which is seen externally in our
sketch of the house: this room had no fireplace.

[Illustration: _No. 86. Plan of Ground-Floor of House at Millichope._]

[Illustration: _No. 87. Plan of the Upper Floor._]

[Illustration: _No. 88. Inside of Window at Millichope._]

Towards the fourteenth century, the rooms of houses began to be
multiplied, and they were often built round a court; the additions
were made chiefly to the offices, and to the number of chambers. They
were still built more of wood than of stone, and the carpenter was the
chief person employed in their construction. In the fabliau of Trubert,
printed by Méon, a duke, intending to build a new house, employs a
carpenter to make the design, and takes him into his woods to select
timber for materials. It may give some notion of the simplicity of
the arrangement of a house, and the small number of rooms, even when
required for royalty itself, when we state that in the January of 1251,
king Henry III., intending to visit Hampshire, and requiring a house
for himself with his queen and court, gave orders to the sheriff of
Southampton to build at Freemantle a hall, a kitchen, and a chamber
with an upper story (_cum estagio_, sometimes called in documents
written in French _chambre estagée_), and a chapel on the ground, for
the king’s use; and a chamber with an upper story, with a chapel at the
end of the same chamber, for the queen’s use. Under the chamber was to
be made a cellar for the king’s wines.

The chamber had, indeed, now become so important a part of the
building, that its name was not unusually given to the whole house,
which, in the documents of the thirteenth century, is sometimes called
a _camera ad estagiam_--an upper-storied chamber. Such was the case
with a house built in 1285 for Edward I. and his queen in the forest
at Woolmer, in Hampshire, the account of the expenses of which are
preserved in the Pipe Rolls. This house was seventy-two feet long,
and twenty-eight feet wide. It had two chimneys, a chapel, and two
wardrobes. The chapel and wardrobe had six glazed windows. There was
also a hall in it, but the two chimneys appear to have belonged to
the chamber. The windows of the chamber and hall had wooden shutters
(_hostia_), but do not appear to have had glass. The kitchen was the
only other apartment in the house. The ordinary windows of a house at
this time were not usually glazed; but they were either latticed, or
consisted of a mere opening, which was covered by a cloth or curtain
by day, and was closed by a shutter, which turned upon hinges, either
sideways, like an ordinary door, or up and down, and which seems
generally to have opened outwards. The rooms were, in this manner,
very imperfectly protected against the weather, even in palaces. A
precept of Henry III. has been quoted, which directs glass to be
substituted for wood in a window in the queen’s wardrobe at the Tower,
“in order that that chamber might not be so windy;” and in the same
reign a charge is made in the accounts relating to the royal manor
at Kennington, “for closing the windows better than usual (_et in
fenestris melius solito claudendis_).”[24]

These remarks on the general character of the house are, of course,
intended to apply to the ordinary dwelling-house, and not to the more
extensive mansion--which already in the thirteenth century was made to
surround, wholly or partly, an interior court--or to the castle. These
more extensive edifices consisted only of a greater accumulation of
the rooms and details which were found in the smaller house. During
the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, no great change took place in
the general characteristics of a private house. The hall was still the
largest and most important room, and was now usually raised on an under
vaulted room, which, to whatever use it may have been applied, was
usually called the _cellar_. Part of it appears to have been sometimes
employed as the stable. In the carpenter’s house, in Chaucer’s Milleres
Tale, the hall, which is evidently the main part of the building, was
open to the roof, with cross beams, on which they hanged the troughs,
and the stable was attached to it, and intervened between the house
and the garden. In the Cokes Tale of Gamelyn, the hall has its posts,
or columns, and there is attached to it a room called a _spence_,
which was more frequently called the _buttery_, in which victuals of
different kinds, and the wine and plate, were locked up, and the man
who had the charge of it was called the _spencer_ or _despencer_, which
it is hardly necessary to say was the origin of two common English
surnames. The gentleman’s house, in Chaucer’s Sompnoures Tale, was
a “large halle,” and is called a _court_, which had now become an
ordinary term for a manor-house.

    _A stordy paas doun to the court he goth,_
    _Wher as ther wonyd a man of gret honour._
                      --Chaucer’s Cant. Tales, l. 7,744.

In the Nonne Prestes Tale, the poor widow’s cottage also has its hall
and _bour_, or chamber, although they were all sooty, of course, from
the fires, which had no chimney to carry off the smoke.

    _Ful sooty was hir bour, and eek hir halle._
                               --Ib. l. 16,318.

This house was situated within a court, or, as it is called, _yard_,
which was enclosed by a hedge of sticks, and by a ditch:--

    _A yerd sche had, enclosed al aboute_
    _With stikkes, and a drye dich withoute._

In the Tale of Gamelyn, the yard, or court, as we use the Anglo-Saxon
or the Anglo-Norman name for it, had a stronger fence, with a gate
and wicket fastened by lock and bolt, and apparently a lodge for the
porter. In the yard there was a draw-well, seven fathoms deep. While
Gamelyn took possession of the hall, his brother shut himself up in the
cellar, which could be made a safe place of refuge, when all the rest
of the house was in the power of an enemy. The yard here had also a
postern-gate. In the carpenter’s house, in Chaucer’s Milleres Tale, the
chamber has a low window, to swing outwardly--

    _So mote I thryve, I schal at cokkes crowe_
    _Ful pryvely go knokke at his wyndowe,_
    _That stant ful lowe upon his bowres wal--_

which is immediately afterwards called the “schot wyndowe”--

    _Unto his brest it raught, it was so lowe._

A new apartment had now been added to the house, called in Anglo-Norman
a parlour (_parloir_), because it was literally the talking-room. It
belonged originally to the monastic houses, where the parlour was the
room for receiving people who came to converse on business, and, when
introduced into private houses, it was a sort of secondary hall, where
visitors might be received more privately than in the great hall, and
yet with less familiarity than in the chamber. In the story of Sir
Cleges, the knight finds the king seated in his parlour, and listening
to a harper. In a Latin document of the year 1473, printed in Rymer’s
Fœdera, a citizen of London has, in his mansion-house there, a parlour
adjoining the garden (_in quadam parlura adjacente gardino_).

Houses were, as I have before stated, usually built in great part of
timber, and it was only where unusual strength was required, or else
from a spirit of ostentation, that they were made of stone. There
appear to have been very few fixtures in the inside, and, as furniture
was scanty, the rooms must have appeared very bare. In timber houses,
of course, it was not easy to make cupboards or closets in the walls,
but this was not the case when they were built of stone. Even in the
latter case, however, the walls appear not to have been much excavated
for such purposes. Our cut No. 89 represents a cupboard door, taken
from an illuminated manuscript of the thirteenth century, in the
Bodleian Library at Oxford; it is curious for its ironwork, especially
the lock and key. The smaller articles of domestic use were usually
deposited in chests, or placed upon sideboards and moveable stands. In
the houses of the wealthy a separate room was built for the wardrobe.

[Illustration: _No. 89. A Cupboard Door._]

[Illustration: _No. 90. The Cellarer of St. Alban’s._]

The accompanying figure (cut No. 90), taken from a manuscript in
the Cottonian Library (Nero, D. vii.), represents the cellarer,
or house-steward, of the abbey of St. Alban’s, in the fourteenth
century, carrying the keys of the cellar door, which appear to be
of remarkably large dimensions; he holds the two keys in one hand,
and a purse, or, rather, a bag of money, in the other, the symbols
of his office. A drawing in the same MS., copied in our cut No. 91,
shows us the entrance-door to an ordinary house, with a soler, or
upper room, above. The individual intended to be represented was Alan
Middleton, who is recorded in the catalogue of officers of St. Alban’s
as “collector of rents of the obedientiaries of that monastery, and
especially of those of the bursar.” A small tonsure denotes him as a
monastic officer, while the penner and inkhorn at his girdle denote
the nature of his office; and he is just opening the door of one of
the abbey tenants to perform his function. The door is intended to
be represented opening outwards. These Benedictines of St. Alban’s
have also immortalised another of their inferior officers, Walterus
de Hamuntesham, who was attacked and grievously wounded by the rabble
of St. Alban’s, while standing up for the rights and liberties of the
church. He appears (cut No. 92) to be attempting to gain shelter in a
house, which also has a soler.

[Illustration: _No. 91. Alan Middleton._]

There was one fixture in the interior of the house, which is frequently
mentioned in old writers, and must not be overlooked. It was frequently
called a _perche_ (_pertica_), and consisted of a wooden frame fixed
to the wall, for the purpose of hanging up articles of clothing and
various other things. The curious tract of Alexander Neckam, entitled
_Summa de nominibus utensilium_, states that each chamber should have
two perches, one on which the domestic birds, hawks and falcons, were
to sit, the other for suspending shirts, kerchiefs, breeches, capes,
mantles, and other articles of clothing. In reference to the latter
usage, one of the mediæval Latin poets has the memorial line--

    _Pertica diversos pannos retinere solebat._

[Illustration: _No. 92. Walter de Hamuntesham attacked by a Mob._]

Our cut No. 93, taken from a manuscript of the _Roman de la Rose_,
written in the fourteenth century, and now preserved in the National
Library in Paris (No. 6985, fol. 2, v^o), represents a perche, with
two garments suspended upon it. The one represented in our next cut
(No. 94) is of rather a different form, and is made to support the arms
of a knight, his helmet, sword, and shield, and his coat of mail; but
how the sword and helmet are attached to it is far from clear. This
example is taken from an illuminated manuscript of a well-known work
by Guillaume de Deguilleville, _Le Pelerinage de la Vie humaine_, of
the latter end of the fourteenth century, also preserved in the French
National Library (No. 6988): another copy of the same work, preserved
in the same great collection (No. 7210), but of the fifteenth century,
gives a still more perfect representation of the perche, supporting,
as in the last example, a helmet, a shield, and coats of mail. In the
foreground, a queen is depositing the staff and scrip of a hermit in a
chest, for greater security. This subject is represented in our cut No.

[Illustration: _No. 93. A Perche._]

[Illustration: _No. 94. Another Perche._]

[Illustration: _No. 95. Scene in a Chamber._]

Furniture of every kind continued to be rare, and chairs were by no
means common articles in ordinary houses. In the chambers, seats were
made in the masonry by the side of the windows, as represented in our
cut No. 88, and sometimes along the walls. Common benches were the
usual seats, and these were often formed by merely laying a plank upon
two trestles. Such a bench is probably represented in the accompanying
cut (No. 96), taken from a manuscript of the romance of Tristan, of
the fourteenth century, preserved in the National Library at Paris
(No. 7178). Tables were made in the same manner. We now, however, find
not unfrequent mention of a _table dormant_ in the hall, which was of
course a table fixed to the spot, and which was not taken away like the
others: it was probably the great table of the _dais_, or upper end of
the hall. To “begin the table dormant” was a popular phrase, apparently
equivalent to taking the first place at the feast. Chaucer, in the
prologue to the Canterbury Tales, describing the profuse hospitality of
the Frankeleyn, says--

    _His table dormant in his halle alway_
    _Stood redy covered al the longe day._

Yet, during the whole of this period, it continued to be the common
practice to make the table for a meal, by merely laying a board upon
trestles. The second cut on the preceding page (No. 97) is a very
curious representation of such a table, from a manuscript of the
thirteenth century, preserved in the Bodleian Library at Oxford (MS.
Arch. A. 154). It must be understood that the objects which are ranged
alternately with the drinking-vessels are loaves of bread, not plates.

[Illustration: _No. 96. A Bench on Trestles._]

[Illustration: _No. 97. A Table on Trestles._]



As I have already stated, the hall continued to be the most important
part of the house; and in large mansions it was made of proportional
dimensions. It was a general place of rendezvous for the household,
especially for the retainers and followers, and in the evening it seems
usually to have been left entirely to them, and they made their beds
and passed the night in it. Strangers or visitors were brought into the
hall. In the curious old poem edited by Mr. Halliwell, entitled “The
Boke of Curtasye,” we find especial directions on this subject. When a
gentleman or yeoman came to the house of another, he was directed to
leave his weapons with the porter at the outward gate or wicket, before
he entered. It appears to have been the etiquette that if the person
thus presenting himself were of higher rank than the person he visited,
the latter should go out to receive him at the gate; if the contrary,
the visitor was admitted through the gate, and proceeded to the hall.

    _Whanne thou comes to a lordis gate,_
    _The porter thou shalle fynde therate;_
    _Take_ (give) _hym thow shalt thy wepyn tho_ (then),
    _And aske hym leve in to go._
           *       *       *       *       *
    ... _yf he be of logh_ (low) _degré,_
    _Than hym falles to come to the_.

At the hall door the visitor was to take off his hood and gloves--

    _When thow come tho halle dor to,_
    _Do of thy hode, thy gloves also._

If, when he entered the hall, the visitor found the family at meat, he
stood at the bottom of the apartment in a respectful attitude, till the
lord of the house sent a servant to lead him to a place where he was to
sit at table. As you descended lower in society, such ceremonies were
less observed; and the clergy in general seem to have been allowed a
much greater licence than the laity. In the Sompneres Tale, in Chaucer,
when the friar, who has received an insult from an inferior inhabitant,
goes “to the court” to complain to the lord of the village, he finds
the latter in his hall at the dinner table--

    _This frere com, as he were in a rage,_
    _Wher that this lord sat etyng at his bord._
                          --Chaucer’s Cant. Tales, l. 7748.

The lord, surprised at the agitation in the countenance of the friar,
who had come in without any sort of introduction, invites him to sit
down, and inquires into his business. There is a scene in the early
English metrical romance of Ipomydon, in which this hero and his
preceptor Tholoman go to the residence of the heiress of Calabria.
At the castle gate they were stopped by the porter, whom they ask to
announce them in the hall:--

    _The porter to theyme they gan calle,_
    _And prayd hym, ‘Go into the halle,_
    _And say thy lady gent and fre,_
    _That come ar men of ferre contré,_
    _And, if it plese hyr, we wold hyr prey_
    _That we myght ete with hyr to-day._’
                          --Weber, Metr. Rom. ii. 290.

The porter “courteously” undertook the message, and, at the immediate
order of the lady, who was sitting at her meat, he went back, took
charge of their horses and pages, and introduced them into the hall.
Then they asked to be taken into the lady’s service, who accepted their
offer, and invited them to take their place at the dinner:--

    _He thankid the lady cortesly,_
    _She comandyth hym to the mete;_
    _But, or he satte in any sete,_
    _He saluted theym grate and smalle,_
    _As a gentille man shuld in halle._
                           --Weber, ii. 292.

Perhaps, before entering the mediæval hall, we shall do well to give a
glance at the kitchen. It is an opinion, which has not unfrequently
been entertained, that living in the middle ages was coarse and not
elaborate; and that old English fare consisted chiefly in roast beef
and plum-pudding. That nothing, however, could be more incorrect, is
fully proved by the rather numerous mediæval cookery books which are
still preserved, and which contain chiefly directions for made dishes,
many of them very complicated, and, to appearance, extremely delicate.
The office of cook, indeed, was one of great importance, and was well
paid; and the kitchens of the aristocracy were very extensive, and
were furnished with a considerable variety of implements of cookery.
On account, no doubt, of this importance, Alexander Neckam, although
an ecclesiastic, commences his vocabulary (or, as it is commonly
entitled, Liber de Utensilibus), compiled in the latter part of the
twelfth century, with an account of the kitchen and its furniture.
He enumerates, among other objects, a table for chopping and mincing
herbs and vegetables; pots, trivets or tripods, an axe, a mortar and
pestle, a mover, or pot-stick, for stirring, a crook or pot-hook
(_uncus_), a caldron, a frying-pan, a gridiron, a posnet or saucepan, a
dish, a platter, a saucer, or vessel for mixing sauce, a hand-mill, a
pepper-mill, a mier, or instrument for reducing bread to crumbs. John
de Garlande, in his “Dictionarius,” composed towards the middle of the
thirteenth century, gives a similar enumeration; and a comparison of
the vocabularies of the fifteenth century, shows that the arrangements
of the kitchen had undergone little change during the intervening
period. From these vocabularies the following list of kitchen utensils
is gathered:--a brandreth, or iron tripod, for supporting the caldron
over the fire; a caldron, a dressing-board and dressing-knife, a
brass-pot, a posnet, a frying-pan, a gridiron, or, as it is sometimes
called, a roasting-iron; a spit, a “gobard,” explained in the MS. by
_ipegurgium_; a mier, a flesh-hook, a scummer, a ladle, a pot-stick,
a slice for turning meat in the frying-pan, a pot-hook, a mortar and
pestle, a pepper-quern, a platter, a saucer.

[Illustration: _No. 98. Making the Pot boil._]

The older illuminated manuscripts are rarely so elaborate as to furnish
us with representations of all these kitchen implements; and, in fact,
it is not in the more elaborately illuminated manuscripts that kitchen
scenes are often found. But we meet with representations of some of
them in artistic sketches of a less elaborate character, though these
are generally connected with the less refined processes of cookery.
The mediæval landlords were obliged to consume the produce of the land
on their own estates, and, for this and other very cogent reasons, a
large proportion of the provisions in ordinary use consisted of salted
meat, which was laid up in store in vast quantities in the baronial
larders. Hence boiling was a much more common method of cooking meat
than roasting, for which, indeed, the mediæval fire, placed on the
ground, was much less convenient; it is, no doubt, for this reason
that the cook is most frequently represented in the mediæval drawings
with the caldron on the fire. In some instances, chiefly of the
fifteenth century, the caldron is supported from above by a pot-hook,
but more usually it stands over the fire upon three legs of its own,
or upon a three-legged frame. A manuscript in the British Museum of
the fourteenth century (MS. Reg. 10, E. iv.), belonging formerly to
the monastery of St. Bartholomew in Smithfield, contains a series of
such illustrations, from which the following are selected. In the
first of these (No. 98) it is evidently a three-legged caldron which
stands over the fire, to increase the heat of which the cook makes use
of a pair of bellows, which bears a remarkably close resemblance to
the similar articles made in modern times. Bellows were certainly in
common use in Anglo-Saxon times, for the name is Anglo-Saxon, _bælg_,
_bælig_, and _bylig_; but as the original meaning of this word was
merely a _bag_, it is probable that the early Anglo-Saxon bellows was
of very rude character: it was sometimes distinguished by the compound
name, _blast-bælg_, a blast-bag, or bellows. Our second example from
this MS. (cut No. 99) is one of a series of designs belonging to some
mediæval story or legend, with which I am not acquainted. A young man
carrying the vessel for the holy water, and the aspersoir with which
it was sprinkled over the people, and who may therefore be supposed to
be the holy-water clerc, is making acquaintance with the female cook.
The latter seems to have been interrupted in the act of taking some
object out of the caldron with a flesh-hook. The caldron here again is
three-legged. In the sequel, the acquaintance between the cook and the
holy-water clerc appears to have ripened into love; but we may presume
from the manner in which it was represented (No. 100), that this love
was not of a very disinterested character on the part of the clerc, for
he is taking advantage of her affection to steal the animal which she
is boiling in the caldron. The conventional manner in which the animal
seems to be drawn, renders it difficult to decide what that animal is.
The mediæval artists show a taste for playful delineations of this
kind, which occur not unfrequently in illuminated manuscripts, and
in carvings and sculptures. One of the stalls in Hereford cathedral,
copied in the accompanying cut (No. 101), represents a scene of this
description. A man is attempting to take liberties with the cook, who
has in return thrown a platter at his head. In our next cut (No. 102),
taken from another MS. in the British Museum, also of the fourteenth
century (MS. Reg. 16, E. viii.), the object cooked in the caldron is
a boar’s head, which the cook, an ill-favoured and hump-backed man,
is placing on a dish to be carried to the table. The caldron, in this
instance, appears to be intended to have been of more ornamental
character than the others.

[Illustration: _No. 99. The Holy-Water Clerc and the Cook._]

[Illustration: _No. 100. Interested Friendship._]

[Illustration: _No. 101. A Kitchen Scene._]

[Illustration: _No. 102. The Boar’s Head._]

It will have been remarked that in most of these pictures the process
of cookery appears to have been carried on in the open air, for, in one
instance, a tree stands not far from the caldron. This appears, indeed,
to have been frequently the case, and there can be no doubt that it
was intended to be so represented in our next cut (No. 103), taken
from the well-known manuscript of the romance of “Alexander,” in the
Bodleian Library, at Oxford. We have here the two processes of boiling
and roasting, but the latter is only employed for fowls (geese in this
case). While the cook is basting them, the _quistron_, or kitchen-boy,
is turning the spit, which is supported in a very curious manner on one
leg of the tripod or trivet, on which the caldron is here supported.
The building to the right is shown by the sign to be an inn, and we
are, probably, to suppose, that this out-of-door cooking is required by
some unusual festivity.

[Illustration: _No. 103. Boiling and Roasting._]

Although meat was, doubtless, sometimes roasted, this process seems
to have been much more commonly applied to poultry and game, and even
fresh meat was very usually boiled. One cause of this may, perhaps,
have been, that it seems to have been a common practice to eat the
meat, and even game, fresh killed--the beef or mutton seems to have
been often killed for the occasion on the day it was eaten. In the old
fabliau of the “Bouchier d’Abbeville” (Barbazan, tom. iv. p. 6), the
butcher, having come to Bailueil late in the evening, and obtained a
night’s lodging at the priest’s, kills his sheep for the supper. The
shoulders were to be roasted, the rest, as it appears, was recommended
to be boiled. The butchers, indeed, seem usually to have done their
work in the kitchen, and to have killed and cut up the animals for
the occasion. There is a curious story in the English Gesta Romanorum
(edited by Sir Frederic Madden), which illustrates this practice.
“Cæsar was emperor of Rome, that had a forest, in the which he had
planted vines and other divers trees many; and he ordained over his
forest a steward, whose name was Jonatas, bidding him, upon pain, to
keep the vines and the plants. It fell, after this ordinance of the
emperor, that Jonatas took the care of the forest; and upon a day a
swine came into the forest, the new plants he rooted up. When Jonatas
saw the swine enter, he cut off his tail, and the swine made a cry,
and went out. Nevertheless, he entered again, and did much harm in
the forest. When Jonatas saw that, he cut off his left ear; and the
hog made a great cry, and went out. Notwithstanding this, he entered
again the third day; and Jonatas saw him, and cut off his right ear,
and with a horrible cry he went out. Yet the fourth day the swine
re-entered the forest, and did much damage. When Jonatas saw that the
hog would not be warned, he smote him through with his spear, and slew
him, and delivered the body to the cook for to array the next day to
the emperor’s meat. But when the emperor was served of this swine, he
asked of his servants, ‘Where is the heart of this swine?’--because the
emperor loved the heart best of any beast, and more than all the beast.
The servants asked the cook where the heart of the swine was, for the
lord inquired after it. The cook, when he had arrayed the heart, saw
it was good and fat, and eat it; and he said to the servants, ‘Say to
the emperor that the hog had no heart.’ The emperor said, ‘It may not
be; and therefore say to him, upon pain of death, that he send me the
heart of the swine, for there is no beast in all the world without a
heart.’ The servants went to the cook with the emperor’s orders; and
he replied, ‘Say to my lord, but if I prove mightily by clear reasons
that the swine had no heart, I put me fully to his will, to do with me
as he likes.’ The emperor, when he heard this, assigned him a day to
answer. When the day was come, the cook, with a high voice, said before
all men, ‘My lord, this is the day of my answer. First I shall show you
that the swine had no heart; this is the reason. Every thought cometh
from the heart, therefore every man or beast feeleth good or evil; it
followeth of necessity that by this the heart thinketh.’ The emperor
said, ‘That is truth.’ ‘Then,’ said the cook, ‘now shall I show by
reasons that the swine had no heart. First he entered the forest, and
the steward cut off his tail; if he had had a heart, he should have
thought on his tail that was lost, but he thought not thereupon, for
afterwards he entered the forest, and the forester cut off his left
ear. If he had had a heart, he should have thought on his left ear, but
he thought not, for the third time he entered the forest. That saw the
forester, and cut off his right ear; where, if he had had a heart, he
should have thought that he had lost his tail and both his ears, and
never should have gone again where he had so many evils. But yet the
fourth time he entered the forest, and the steward saw that, and slew
him, and delivered him to me to array to your meat. Here may ye see,
my lord, that I have shown, by worthy reasons, that the swine had no
heart.’ And thus escaped the cook.”

The story which follows this in the Gesta, tells of an emperor named
“Alexaundre,” “who of great need ordained for a law, that no man should
turn the plaice in his dish, but that he should only eat the white
side, and in no wise the black side; and if any man did the contrary,
he should die!” It is hardly necessary to remark, that fish was a great
article of consumption in the middle ages, and especially among the
ecclesiastics and monks. The accompanying cut on the following page
(No. 104), from a manuscript of the fourteenth century in the British
Museum (MS. Harl. No. 1527), represents probably the steward of a
monastery receiving a present of fish.

[Illustration: _No. 104. A Present of Fish._]

[Illustration: _No. 105. A Pot and Platter._]

In large houses, and on great occasions, the various meats and dishes
were carried from the kitchen to the hall with extraordinary ceremony
by the servants of the kitchen, who delivered them at the entrance of
the hall to other attendants of a higher class, who alone were allowed
to approach the tables. Our cut No. 105, from MS. Reg. 10, E. iv.,
represents one of these servants carrying a pot and platter, or stand
for the pot, which, perhaps, contained gravy or soup. The roasts appear
to have been usually carried into the hall on the spits, which, among
people of great rank, were sometimes made of silver; and the guests
at table seem to have torn, or cut, from the spit what they wanted.
Several early illuminations represent this practice of people helping
themselves from the spits, and it is alluded to, not very unfrequently,
in the mediæval writers. In the romance of “Parise la Duchesse,” when
the servants enter the hall with the meats for the table, one is
described as carrying a roasted peacock on a spit:--

    _Atant ez les serjanz qui portent le mangier;_
    _Li uns porte .i. paon roti en un astier._
                         --Romans de Parise, p. 172.

In the romance of “Garin le Loherain,” on an occasion when a quarrel
began in the hall at the beginning of the dinner, the duke Begon, for
want of other weapons, snatched from the hands of one of the attendants
a long spit “full of plovers, which were hot and roasted:”--

    _Li dus avoit un grant hastier saisi,_
    _Plain de ploviers, qui chaut sunt et rosti._
                        --Romans de Garin, ii. 19.

But the most curious illustration of the universality of this practice
is found in a Latin story, probably of the thirteenth century, in which
we are told of a man who had a glutton for his wife. One day he roasted
for their dinner a fowl, and when they had sat down at the table, the
wife said, “Give me a wing?” The husband gave her the wing; and, at her
demand, all the other members in succession, until she had devoured the
whole fowl herself, at which, no longer able to contain his anger, he
said, “Lo, you have eaten the whole fowl yourself, and nothing remains
but the spit, which it is but right that you should taste also.” And
thereupon he took the spit, and beat her severely with it.

[Illustration: _No. 106. Bringing the Dinner into Hall._]

[Illustration: _No. 107. Serving in Hall._]

Our cut (No. 106), taken from a large illumination, given from a
manuscript of the fifteenth century by the late M. du Sommerard, in
his great work on mediæval art, represents the servants of the hall,
headed by the steward, or _maître d’hôtel_, with his rod of office,
bringing the dishes to the table in formal procession. Their approach
and arrival were usually announced by the sounding of trumpets and
music. The servants were often preceded by music, as we see in our
cut No. 107, taken from a very fine MS. of the early part of the
fourteenth century, in the British Museum (MS. Reg. 2, B. vii.). A
representation of a similar scene occurs at the foot of the large
Flemish brass of Robert Braunche and his two wives at St. Margaret’s
Church, Lynn, which is intended as a delineation of a feast given by
the corporation of Lynn to king Edward III. Servants from both sides of
the picture are bringing in that famous dish of chivalry, the peacock
with his tail displayed; and two bands of minstrels are ushering in
the banquet with their strains; the date of the brass is about 1364
A.D. Those who served at the table itself, whose business
was chiefly to carve and present the wine, were of still higher
rank--never less than esquires--and often, in the halls of princes
and great chiefs, nobles and barons. The meal itself was conducted
with the same degree of ceremony, of which a vivid picture may be
drawn from the directions given in the work called the “Ménagier de
Paris,” composed about the year 1393. When it was announced that the
dinner was ready, the guests advanced to the hall, led ceremoniously
by two _maîtres d’hôtel_, who showed them their places, and served
them with water to wash their hands before they began. They found the
tables spread with fine table-cloths, and covered with a profusion of
richly-ornamented plate, consisting of salt-cellars, goblets, pots or
cups for drinking, spoons, &c. At the high table, the meats were eaten
from slices of bread, called trenchers (_tranchoirs_), which, after the
meats were eaten, were thrown into vessels called _couloueres_. In a
conspicuous part of the hall stood the dresser or cupboard, which was
covered with vessels of plate, which two esquires carried thence to the
table, to replace those which were emptied. Two other esquires were
occupied in bringing wine to the dresser, from whence it was served
to the guests at the tables. The dishes, forming a number of courses,
varying according to the occasion, were brought in by valets, led by
two esquires. An _asséeur_, or placer, took the dishes from the hands
of the valets, and arranged them in their places on the table. After
these courses, fresh table-cloths were laid, and the _entremets_ were
brought, consisting of sweets, jellies, &c., many of them moulded
into elegant or fantastic forms; and, in the middle of the table,
raised above the rest, were placed a swan, peacocks, or pheasants,
dressed up in their feathers, with their beaks and feet gilt. In less
sumptuous entertainments the expensive course of _entremets_ was
usually omitted. Last of all came the dessert, consisting of cheese,
confectionaries, fruit, &c., concluded by what was called the _issue_
(departure from table), consisting usually of a draught of hypocras,
and the _boute-hors_ (turn out), wine and spices served round, which
terminated the repast. The guests then washed their hands, and repaired
into another room, where they were served with wine and sweetmeats,
and, after a short time, separated. The dinner, served slowly and
ceremoniously, must have occupied a considerable length of time. After
the guests had left the hall, the servers and attendants took their
places at the tables.

[Illustration: _No. 108. The Seat on the Dais._]

The furniture of the hall was simple, and consisted of but a few
articles. In large residences, the floor at the upper end of the hall
was raised, and was called the _dais_. On this the chief table was
placed, stretching lengthways across the hall. The subordinate tables
were arranged below, down each side of the hall. In the middle was
generally the fire, sometimes in an iron grate. At the upper end of
the hall there was often a cup-board or a dresser for the plate, &c.
The tables were still merely boards placed on tressels, though the
table dormant, or stationary table, began to be more common. Perhaps
the large table on the dais was generally a table dormant. The seats
were merely benches or forms, except the principal seat against the
wall on the dais, which was often in the form of a settle, with back
and elbows. Such a seat is represented in our cut No. 108, taken from
a manuscript of the romance of Meliadus, in the National Library at
Paris, No. 6961. On special occasions, the hall was hung round with
tapestry, or curtains, which were kept for that purpose, and one of
these curtains seems commonly to have been suspended against the wall
behind the dais. A carpet was sometimes laid on the floor, which,
however, was more usually spread with rushes. Sometimes, in the
illuminations, the floor appears to be paved with ornamental tiles,
without carpet or rushes. It was also not unusual to bring a chair
into the hall as a mark of particular respect. Thus, in the English
metrical romance of Sir Isumbras:--

    _The riche qwene in haulle was sett,_
    _Knyghttes hir serves to handes and fete,_
        _Were clede in robis of palle;_
    _In the floure a clothe was layde,_
    _“This poore palmere,” the stewarde sayde,_
        _“Salle sytte abowene yow alle.”_
    _Mete and drynke was forthe broghte,_
    _Sir Isambrace sett and ete noghte,_
        _Bot luked abowte in the haulle._
           *       *       *       *       *
    _So lange he satt and ete noghte,_
    _That the lady grete wondir thoghte,_
        _And tille a knyghte gane saye,_
    _“Bryng a chayere and a qwyschene_ (cushion),
    _And sett yone poore palmere therin_.”
           *       *       *       *       *
    _A riche chayere than was ther fett,_
    _This poore palmere therin was sett,_
        _He tolde hir of his laye._

Until comparatively a very recent date, the hour of dinner, even among
the highest classes of society, was ten o’clock in the forenoon. There
was an old proverb which defined the divisions of the domestic day as

    _Lever à six, disner à dix,_
    _Souper à six, coucher à dix._

Which is preserved in a still older and more complete form as follows:--

    _Lever à cinq, diner à neuf,_
    _Souper à cinq, coucher à neuf,_
    _Fait vivre d’ans nonante et neuf._

Five o’clock was the well-known hour of the afternoon meal; and nine
seems formerly to have been an ordinary hour for dinner. In the time
of Chaucer, the hour of _prime_ appears to have been the usual dinner
hour, which perhaps meant nine o’clock. At least the monk, in the
Schipmannes Tale, calls for dinner at prime:--

    “_Goth now your way,” quod he, “al stille and softe,_
    _And let us dyne as sone as ye may,_
    _For by my chilindre it is prime of day._”

And the lady to whom this is addressed, in reply, expresses impatience,
lest they should pass the hour. The dinner appears to have been usually
announced by the blowing of horns. In the romance of Richard Cœur de
Lion, on the arrival of visitors, the tables were laid out for dinner--

    _They sette tresteles, and layde a borde_;
           *       *       *       *       *
    _Trumpet begonne for to blowe._
                               --Weber, ii. 7.

[Illustration: _No. 109. Washing before Dinner._]

Before the meal, each guest was served with water to wash. It was the
business of the ewer to serve the guests with water for this purpose,
which he did with a jug and basin, while another attendant stood by
with a towel. Our cut No. 109, represents this process; it is taken
from a fine manuscript of the “Livre de la Vie Humaine,” preserved
in the National Library in Paris, No. 6988. In the originals of this
group, the jug and basin are represented as of gold. In the copy of the
Seven Sages, printed by Weber (p. 148), the preparations for a dinner
are thus described:--

    _Thai set trestes, and bordes on layd;_
    _Thai spred clathes and salt on set,_
    _And made redy unto the mete;_
    _Thai set forth water and towelle._

The company, however, sometimes washed before going to the table, and
for this purpose there were lavours, or lavatories, in the hall itself,
or sometimes outside. The signal for washing was then given by the
blowing of trumpets, or by the music of the minstrels. Thus, in the
English metrical romance of Richard Cœur de Lion,

    _At noon à laver the waytes blewe_,

meaning, of course, the canonical hour of _none_. Grace was also said
at the commencement, or at the end, of the meal, but this part of the
ceremony is but slightly alluded to in the old writers.

Having washed, the guests seated themselves at table. Then the
attendants spread the cloths over the tables; they then placed on them
the salt-cellars and the knives; and next the bread, and the wine in
drinking cups. All this is duly described in the following lines of an
old romance:--

    _Quant lavé orent, si s’asistrent,_
    _Et li serjant les napes mistrent,_
    _Desus les dobliers blans et biax,_
    _Les saliers et les coutiax,_
    _Après lou pain, puis lo vin_
    _Et copes d’argent et d’or fin._

Spoons were also usually placed on the table, but there were no forks,
the guests using their fingers instead, which was the reason they were
so particular in washing before and after meat. The tables being thus
arranged, it remained for the cooks to serve up the various prepared

At table the guests were not only placed in couples, but they also
eat in couples, two being served with the same food and in the same
plate. This practice is frequently alluded to in the early romances
and fabliaux. In general the arrangement of the couples was not left
to mere chance, but individuals who were known to be attached to each
other, or who were near relatives, were placed together. In the poem
of La Mule sanz Frain, the lady of the castle makes Sir Gawain sit by
her side, and eat out of the same plate with her, as an act of friendly
courtesy. In the fabliau of Trubert, a woman, taken into the household
of a duke, is seated at table beside the duke’s daughter, and eats out
of the same plate with her, because the young lady had conceived an
affectionate feeling for the visitor. So, again, in the story of the
provost of Aquilée, the provost’s lady, receiving a visitor sent by her
husband (who was absent), placed him at table beside her, to eat with
her, and the rest of the party were similarly seated, “two and two:”--

    _La dame première s’assist,_
    _Son hoste lez lui seoir fist,_
    _Car mengier voloit avec lui;_
    _Li autre furent dui et dui._
          --Méon Fabliaux, ii. 192.

In one of the stories in the early English Gesta Romanorum, an earl and
his son, who dine at the emperor’s table, are seated together, and are
served with one plate, a fish, between them. The practice was, indeed,
so general, that the phrase “to eat in the same dish” (_manger dans la
même écuelle_), became proverbial for intimate friendship between two

There was another practice relating to the table which must not be
overlooked. It must have been remarked that, in the illuminations of
contemporary manuscripts which represent dinner scenes, the guests
are rarely represented as eating on plates. In fact, only certain
articles were served in plates. Loaves were made of a secondary
quality of flour, and these were first pared, and then cut into thick
slices, which were called, in French, _tranchoirs_, and, in English,
_trenchers_, because they were to be carved upon. The portions of meat
were served to the guests on these _tranchoirs_, and they cut it upon
them as they eat it. The gravy, of course, went into the bread, which
the guest sometimes, perhaps always at an earlier period, eat after the
meat, but in later times, and at the tables of the great, it appears to
have been more frequently sent away to the alms-basket, from which the
leavings of the table were distributed to the poor at the gate. All the
bread used at table seems to have been pared, before it was cut, and
the parings were thrown into the alms-dish. Walter de Bibblesworth, in
the latter part of the thirteenth century, among other directions for
the laying out of the table, says, “Cut the bread which is pared, and
let the parings be given to the alms”--

    _Tayllet le payn ke est parée,_
    _Les biseaus à l’amoyne soyt doné._

The practice is alluded to in the romance of Sir Tristrem (fytte i. ft.

    _The kyng no seyd no more,_
      _But wesche and yede_ (went) _to mete;_
    _Bred thai pard and schare_ (cut),
      _Ynough thai hadde at ete_.

It was the duty of the almoner to say grace. The following directions
are given in the Boke of Curtasye (p. 30):--

    _The aumenere by this hathe sayde grace,_
    _And the almes-dysshe hase sett in place;_
    _Therin the karver a lofe schalle sette,_
    _To serve God fyrst withouten lette;_
    _These othere lofes be parys aboute,_
    _Lays hit myd_ (with) _dysshe withouten doute_.

The use of the _tranchoir_, which Froissart calls a _tailloir_, is not
unfrequently alluded to in the older French writers. That writer tells
the story of a prince who, having received poison in a powder, and
suspecting it, put it on a _tailloir_ of bread, and thus gave it to a
dog to eat. One of the French poets of the fifteenth century, Martial
de Paris, speaking against the extravagant tables kept by the bishops
at that time, exclaims, “Alas! what have the poor? They have only the
tranchoirs of bread which remain on the table.” An ordinance of the
dauphin Humbert II., of the date of 1336, orders that there should
be served to him at table every day “loaves of white bread for the
mouth, and four small loaves to serve for tranchoirs” (_pro incisorio
faciendo_). For great people, a silver platter was often put under the
tranchoir, and it was probable from the extension of that practice that
the tranchoirs became ultimately abandoned, and the platters took their

[Illustration: No. _110. A Dinner Scene._]

[Illustration: _No. 111. A King at Dinner._]

We give three examples of dinner-scenes, from manuscripts of the
fourteenth century. The first, cut No. 110 (on the last page), is
taken from a manuscript belonging to the National Library in Paris,
No. 7210, containing the “Pélerinage de la Vie Humaine.” The party
are eating fish, or rather have been eating them, for the bones and
remnants are strewed over the table. We have, in addition to these, the
bread, knives, salt-cellars, and cups; and on the ground a remarkable
collection of jugs for holding the liquors. Our second example, cut
No. 111, is taken from an illuminated manuscript of the romance of
Meliadus, preserved in the British Museum (Additional MS., No. 12,228).
We have here the curtain or tapestry hung behind the single table. The
man to the left is probably the steward, or the superior of the hall;
next to him is the cup-bearer serving the liquor; further to the right
we have the carver cutting the meat; and last of all the cook bringing
in another dish. The table is laid much in the same manner in our third
example, cut No. 112. We have again the cups and the bread, the latter
in round cakes; in our second example they are marked with crosses,
as in the Anglo-Saxon illuminations; but there are no forks, or even
spoons, which, of course, were used for pottage and soups, and were
perhaps brought on and taken off with them. All the guests seem to be
ready to use their fingers.

[Illustration: _No. 112. A Royal Feast._]

There was much formality and ceremony observed in filling and
presenting the cup, and it required long instruction to make the young
cup-bearer perfect in his duties. In our cut No. 111, it will be
observed that the carver holds the meat with his fingers while he cuts
it. This is in exact accordance with the rules given in the ancient
“Boke of Kervyng,” where this officer is told, “Set never on fyshe,
flesche, beest, ne fowle, more than two fyngers and a thombe.” It
will be observed also that in none of these pictures have the guests
any plates; they seem to have eaten with their hands, and thrown the
refuse on the table. We know also that they often threw the fragments
on the floor, where they were eaten up by cats and dogs, which were
admitted into the hall without restriction of number. In the “Boke of
Curtasye,” already mentioned, it is blamed as a mark of bad breeding to
play with the cats and dogs while seated at table--

    _Whereso thou sitt at mete in borde_ (at table),
    _Avoide the cat at on bare worde,_
    _For yf thou stroke cat other dogge,_
    _Thou art lyke an ape teyghed with a clogge_.

Some of these directions for behaviour are very droll, and show no
great refinement of manners. A guest at table is recommended to keep
his nails clean, for fear his fellow next him should be disgusted--

    _Loke thy naylys ben clene in blythe,_
    _Lest thy felaghe lothe therwyth._

He is cautioned against spitting on the table--

     _If thou spit on the borde or elles opone,_
    _Thou shalle be holden an uncurtayse mon._

When he blows his nose with his hand (handkerchiefs were not, it
appears, in use), he is told to wipe his hand on his skirt or on his

    _Yf thy nose thou clense, as may befalle,_
    _Loke thy honde thou clense withalle,_
    _Prively with skyrt do hit away,_
    _Or ellis thurgh thi tepet that is so gay._

He is not to pick his teeth with his knife, or with a straw or stick,
nor to clean them with the table-cloth; and, if he sits by a gentleman,
he is to take care he does not put his knee under the other’s thigh!

The cleanliness of the white table-cloth seems to have been a matter
of pride; and to judge by the illuminations great care seems to have
been taken to place it neatly and smoothly on the table, and to arrange
tastefully the part which hung down at the sides. Generally speaking,
the service on the table in these illuminations appears to be very
simple, consisting of the cups, stands for the dishes of meat (messes,
as they were called) brought by the cook, the knives, sometimes spoons
for soup and liquids, and bread. Ostentatious ornament is not often
introduced, and it was perhaps only used at the tables of princes
and of the more powerful nobles. Of these ornaments, one of the most
remarkable was the nef, or ship--a vessel, generally of silver, which
contained the salt-cellar, towel, &c., of the prince, or great lord, on
whose table it was brought with great ceremony. It was in the form of a
ship, raised on a stand, and on one end it had some figure, such as a
serpent, or castle, perhaps an emblem or badge chosen by its possessor.
Our cut No. 113, taken from a manuscript in the French National
Library, represents the nef placed on the table. The badge or emblem at
the end appears to be a bird.

[Illustration: _No. 113. The Nef._]

[Illustration: _No. 114. Gluttony._]

Our forefathers seem to have remained a tolerably long time at table,
the pleasures of which were by no means despised. Indeed, to judge by
the sermons and satires of the middle ages, gluttony seems to have
been a very prevalent vice among the clergy as well as the laity; and
however miserably the lower classes lived, the tables of the rich
were loaded with every delicacy that could be procured. The monks
were proverbially _bons vivants_; and their failings in this respect
are not unfrequently satirised in the illuminated ornaments of the
mediæval manuscripts. We have an example in our cut No. 114, taken
from a manuscript of the fourteenth century in the Arundel Collection
in the British Museum (No. 91); a monk is regaling himself on the sly,
apparently upon dainty tarts or patties, while the dish is held up by
a little cloven-footed imp who seems to enjoy the spirit of the thing,
quite as much as the other enjoys the substance. Our next cut (No. 115)
is taken from another manuscript in the British Museum of the same
date (MS. Sloane, No. 2435), and forms an appropriate companion to
the other. The monk here holds the office of cellarer, and is taking
advantage of it to console himself on the sly.

[Illustration: _No. 115. Monastic Devotions._]

When the last course of the dinner had been served, the ewer and his
companion again carried round the water and towel, and each guest
washed. The tables were then cleared and the cloths withdrawn, but the
drinking continued. The minstrels were now introduced. To judge by the
illuminations, the most common musical attendant on such occasions
was a harper, who repeated romances and told stories, accompanying
them with his instrument. In one of our cuts of a dinner party (No.
112), given in a former page, we see the harper, apparently a blind
man, led by his dog, introduced into the hall while the guests are
still occupied with their repast. We frequently find a harper thus
introduced, who is sometimes represented as sitting upon the floor, as
in the accompanying illustration (No. 116) from the MS. Reg. 2 B. vii.
fol. 71, v^o. Another similar representation occurs at folio 203, v^o
of the same MS.

[Illustration: _No. 116. The Harper in the Hall._]

The barons and knights themselves, and their ladies, did not disdain
to learn the harper’s craft; and Gower, in his “Confessio Amantis,”
describes a scene in which a princess plays the harp at table.
Appolinus is dining in the hall of king Pentapolin, with the king and
queen and their fair daughter, and all his lords, when, reminded by the
scene of the royal estate from which he is fallen, he sorrowed and took
no meat; therefore the king, sympathising with him, bade his daughter
take her harp and do all that she could to enliven that “sorry man:”--

    _And she to don her faderes heste,_
    _Her harpe fette, and in the feste_
    _Upon a chaire which thei fette,_
    _Her selve next to this man she sette._

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

    _When he hath harped alle his fille,_
    _The kingis hest to fulfille,_
    _Awaie goth dishe, awaie goth cup,_
    _Doun goth the borde, the cloth was up,_
    _Thei risen and gone out of the halle._

[Illustration: _No. 117. A Harper._]

The minstrels, or jougleurs, formed a very important class of society
in the middle ages, and no festival was considered as complete without
their presence. They travelled singly or in parties, not only from
house to house, but from country to country, and they generally brought
with them, to amuse and please their hearers, the last new song, or the
last new tale. When any great festival was announced, there was sure
to be a general gathering of minstrels from all quarters, and as they
possessed many methods of entertaining, for they joined the profession
of mountebank, posture-master, and conjurer with that of music and
story-telling, they were always welcome. No sooner, therefore, was
the business of eating done, than the jougleur or jougleurs were
brought forward, and sometimes, when the guests were in a more serious
humour, they chanted the old romances of chivalry; at other times they
repeated satirical poems, or party songs, according to the feelings
or humour of those who were listening to them, or told love tales or
scandalous anecdotes, or drolleries, accompanying them with acting,
and intermingling them with performances of various kinds. The hall
was proverbially the place for mirth, and as merriment of a coarse
description suited the mediæval taste, the stories and performances of
the jougleurs were often of an obscene character, even in the presence
of the ladies. In the illuminated manuscripts, the minstrel is most
commonly a harper, perhaps because these illuminations are usually
found in the old romances of chivalry where the harper generally acts
an important part, for the minstrels were not unfrequently employed
in messages and intrigues. In general the harp is wrapped in some
sort of drapery, as represented in our cut No. 117, taken from a MS.
in the National Library of Paris, which was perhaps the bag in which
the minstrel carried it, and may have been attached to the bottom of
the instrument. The accompanying scene of minstrelsy is taken from a
manuscript of the romance of Guyron le Courtois in the French National
Library, No. 6976.

[Illustration: _No. 118. Minstrelsy._]

The dinner was always accompanied by music, and itinerant minstrels,
mountebanks, and performers of all descriptions, were allowed free
access to the hall to amuse the guests by their performances. These
were intermixed with dancing and tumbling, and often with exhibitions
of a very gross character, which, however, amid the looseness of
mediæval manners, appear to have excited no disgust. These practices
are curiously illustrated in some of the mediæval illuminations. In
the account of the death of John the Baptist, as given in the gospels
(Matthew xiv. 6, and Mark vi. 21), we are told, that at the feast
given by Herod on his birthday, his daughter Herodias came into the
feasting-hall, and (according to our English version) danced before
him and his guests. The Latin vulgate has _saltasset_, which is
equivalent to the English word but the mediæval writers took the lady’s
performances to be those of a regular wandering jougleur; and in two
illuminated manuscripts of the early part of the fourteenth century, in
the British Museum, she is pictured as performing tricks very similar
to those exhibited by the modern beggar-boys in our streets. In the
first of these (No. 119), taken from MS. Reg. 2 B. vii., the princess
is supporting herself upon her hands with her legs in the air, to the
evident admiration of the king, though the guests seem to be paying
less attention to her feats of activity. In the second (No. 120), from
the Harleian MS. No. 1527, she is represented in a similar position,
but more evidently making a somersault. She is here accompanied by a
female attendant, who expresses no less delight at her skill than the
king and his guests.

[Illustration: _No. 119. King Herod and his Daughter Herodias._]

[Illustration: _No. 120. Herod and Herodias._]

It would appear from various accounts that it was not, unless perhaps
at an early period, the custom in France to sit long after dinner at
table drinking wine, as it certainly was in England, where, no doubt,
the practice was derived from the Anglo-Saxons. Numerous allusions
might be pointed out, which show how much our Anglo-Saxon forefathers
were addicted to this practice of sitting in their halls and drinking
during the latter part of their day; and it was then that they listened
to the minstrel’s song, told stories of their own feats and adventures,
and made proof of their powers in hard drinking. From some of these
allusions, which we have quoted in an earlier chapter, it is equally
clear, that these drinking-bouts often ended in sanguinary, and not
unfrequently in fatal, brawls. Such scenes of discord in the hall occur
also in the early French metrical romances, but they take place usually
at the beginning of dinner, when the guests are taking their places, or
during the meal. In “Parise la Duchesse,” a scene of this description
occurs, in which the great feudal barons and knights fight with the
provisions which had been served at the tables: “There,” says the poet,
“you might see them throw cheeses, and quartern-loaves, and great
pieces of flesh, and great steel knives”--

    _Là veissiez jeter fromages et cartiers,_
    _Et granz pieces de char, et granz cotiauz d’acier_
                             --Roman de Parise, p. 173.

In “Garin le Loherain” (vol. ii. p. 17), at a feast at which the
emperor and his empress were present, a fight commences between the two
great baronial parties who were their guests, by a chief of one party
striking one of the other party with a goblet; the cooks are brought
out of the kitchen to take part in it, with their pestles, ladles, and
pot-hooks, led by duke Begon, who had seized a spit, full of birds, as
the weapon which came first to hand; and the contest is not appeased
until many are killed and wounded.

The preceding remarks, of course, apply chiefly to the tables of the
prince, the noble, and the wealthy gentleman, where alone this degree
of profusion and of ceremony reigned; and to those of the monastic
houses and of the higher clergy, where, if possible, the luxury even
of princes was overpassed. The examples of clerical and monastic
extravagance in feasting are so numerous, that I will not venture
on this occasion to enter upon them any further. All recorded facts
would lead us to conclude, that the ordinary course of living of the
monks was much more luxurious than that of the clerical lords of the
land, who, indeed, seem to have lived, on ordinary occasions, with
some degree of simplicity, except that the great number of people who
dined at their expense, required a very large quantity of provisions.
Even men of rank, when dining alone, or hastily, are described as
being satisfied with a very limited variety of food. In the romance of
“Garin,” when Rigaud, one of the barons of “Garin’s” party, arrives at
court with important news, and very hungry, the empress orders him to
be served with a large vessel of wine (explained by a various reading
to be equivalent to a pot), four loaves (the loaves appear usually to
have been small), and a roasted peacock--

    _On li aporte plain un barris de vin,_
    _Et quatre pains, et un paon rosti._
        --Garin le Loherain, vol. ii. p. 257.

In a pane of painted glass in the possession of Dr. Henry Johnson,
of Shrewsbury, of Flemish workmanship of about the beginning of the
sixteenth century, and representing the story of the Prodigal Son, the
Prodigal is seated at table with a party of dissolute women, feasting
upon a pasty. It is reproduced in our cut No. 121. They appear to have
only one drinking-cup among them, but the wine is served from a very
rich goblet. We cannot, however, always judge the character of a feast
by the articles placed on the table by the mediæval illuminators, for
they were in the constant habit of drawing things conventionally, and
they seem to have found a difficulty--perhaps in consequence of their
ignorance of perspective--in representing a crowded table. Our cut No.
122, on the following page, taken from MS. Reg. 10 E. iv., in which
we recognize again our old friend the holy-water clerc, represents a
table which is certainly very sparingly furnished, although the persons
seated at it seem to belong to a respectable class in society. Some
cooked articles, perhaps meat, on a stand, bread, a single knife to cut
the provisions, and one pot, probably of ale, from which they seem to
have drunk without the intervention of a glass, form the whole service.

[Illustration: _No. 121. Feasting on a Pasty._]

We find allusions from time to time to the style of living of the class
in the country answering to our yeomanry, and of the _bourgeoisie_
in the towns, which appears to have been sufficiently plain. In the
romance of “Berte” (p. 78), when Berte finds shelter at the house of
the farmer Symon, they give her, for refreshment, a chicken and wine.
In the fabliau of the “_Vilain mire_” (Barbazan, vol. iii. p. 3), the
farmer, who had saved money, and become tolerably rich, had no such
luxuries as salmon or partridge, but his provisions consisted only of
bread and wine, and fried eggs, and cheese in abundance--

    _N’orent pas saumon ne pertris,_
    _Pain et vin orent, et oés fris,_
    _Et du fromage à grant plenté._

[Illustration: _No. 122. A Dinner tête-à-tête._]

The franklin, in Chaucer, is put forward as an example of great
liberality in the articles of provisions:--

    _An householdere, and that a gret, was he,_
    _Seynt Julian he was in his countré,_
    _His breed, his ale, was alway after oon;_
    _A bettre envyned man was nowher noon._
    _Withoute bake mete was never his hous,_
    _Of fleissch and fissch, and that so plentyvous,_
    _It snewed in his hous of mete and drynke,_
    _Of alle deyntees that men cowde thynke._
    _Aftur the sondry sesouns of the yeer,_
    _He chaunged hem at mete and at soper._
    _Ful many a fat partrich had he in mewe,_
    _And many a brem and many a luce in stewe_ (fish pond),
    _Woo was his cook, but if his sauce were_
    _Poynant and scharp, and redy al his gere;_
    _His table dormant in his halle alway_
    _Stood redy covered al the longe day._
                            --Chaucer’s Cant. Tales, l. 341.

A story in the celebrated collection of the Cent. Nouvelles Nouvelles
(Nouv. 83), composed soon after the middle of the fifteenth century,
gives us some notion of the store of provisions in the house of an
ordinary burgher. A worthy and pious _demoiselle_--that is, a woman
of the respectable class of _bourgeoisie_, who was, in this case,
a widow--invited a monk to dine with her, out of charity. They
dined without other company, and were served by a _chambrière_ or
maid-servant, and a man-servant or valet. The course of meat, which was
first placed on the table, consisted of _porée_, or soup, bacon, pork
tripes, and a roasted ox’s tongue. But the demoiselle had miscalculated
the voracity of her guest, for, before she had made much progress in
her _porée_, he had devoured everything on the table, and left nothing
but empty dishes. On seeing this, his hostess ordered her servants to
put on the table a piece of good salt beef, and a large piece of choice
mutton; but he ate these also, to her no little astonishment, and she
was obliged to send for a fine ham, which had been cooked the day
before, and which appears to have been all the meat left in the house.
The monk devoured this, and left nothing but the bone. The course which
would have followed the first service was then laid on the table,
consisting of a “very fine fat cheese,” and a dish well furnished
with tarts, apples, and cheese, which also quickly followed the meat.
It appears from this story that the ordinary dinner of a respectable
burgher consisted of a soup, and two or three plain dishes of meat,
followed by cheese, pastry, and fruit. An illumination, illustrative of
another tale in this collection, in the unique manuscript preserved in
the Hunterian Library, at Glasgow, and copied in the annexed cut (No.
123), represents a dinner-table of an ordinary person of this class of
society, which is not over largely furnished. We see only bread in the
middle, what appears to be intended for a ham at one end, and at the
other a dish, perhaps of cakes or tarts. The lower classes lived, of
course, much more meanly than the others; but we have fewer allusions
to them in the earlier mediæval literature, as they were looked upon
as a class hardly worth describing. This class was, no doubt, much
more miserable in France than in England. A French moral poem of the
fourteenth century, entitled “_Le Chemin de Pauvreté et de Richesse_,”
represents the poor labourers as having no other food than bread,
garlic, and salt, with water to drink:--

    _N’y ot si grant ne si petit_
    _Qui ne preist grant appetit_
    _En pain sec, en aux, et en sel,_
    _Ne il ne mengoit riens en el,_
    _Mouton, buef, oye, ne poucin;_
    _Et puis prenoient le bacin,_
    _A deux mains, plain d’eaue, et buvoient._

[Illustration: _No. 123. A Frugal Repast._]

As I have said, the dresser (_dressoir_) or cupboard was the only
important article of furniture in the hall, besides the tables and
benches. It was a mere cupboard for the plate, and had generally steps
to enable the servants to reach the articles that were placed high up
in it, but it is rarely represented in pictured manuscripts before the
fifteenth century, when the illuminators began to introduce more detail
into their works. The reader may form a notion of its contents, from
the list of the service of plate given by Edward I. of England to his
daughter Margaret, after her marriage with the duke of Brabant; it
consisted of forty-six silver cups with feet, for drinking; six wine
pitchers, four ewers for water, four basins with gilt escutcheons,
six great silver dishes for entremets; one hundred and twenty smaller
dishes; a hundred and twenty salts; one gilt salt, for her own use;
seventy-two spoons; and three silver spice-plates with a spice-spoon.

The dresser, as well as all the furniture of the hall, was in the care
of the groom; it was his business to lay them out, and to take them
away again. It appears to have been the usual custom to take away the
boards and tressels (forming the tables) at the same time as the cloth.
The company remained seated on the benches, and the drinking-cups were
handed round to them. So tells us the “Boke of Curtasye”--

    _Whenne they have wasshen, and grace is sayde,_
    _Away he takes at a brayde_ (at once),
    _Avoydes the borde into the store,_
    _Tase away the trestles that been so store_.



The minstrel acted so very prominent a part in the household and
domestic arrangements during the middle ages, that a volume on the
history of domestic manners would be incomplete without some more
detailed account of his profession than the slight and occasional
notices given in the preceding pages.

Our information relating to the Anglo-Saxon minstrel is very imperfect.
He had two names--_scop_, which meant literally a “maker,” and
belonged probably to the primitive bard or poet; and _glig-man_, or
_gleo-man_, the modern gleeman, which signifies literally a man who
furnished joy or pleasure, and appears to have had a more comprehensive
application, which included all professional performers for other
people’s amusement. In Beowulf (l. 180), the “song of the bard” (_sang
scopes_) is accompanied by the sound of the harp (_hearpan swég_); and
it is probable that the harp was the special instrument of the old
Saxon bard, who chanted the mythic and heroic poems of the race. The
gleemen played on a variety of instruments, and they also exhibited
a variety of other performances for the amusement of the hearers or
spectators. In our engraving from an Anglo-Saxon illumination (p.
37), one of the gleemen is tossing knives and balls, which seems to
have been considered a favourite exhibition of skill down to a much
later period. The early English Rule of Nuns (printed by the Camden
Society) says of the wrathful man, that “he skirmishes before the devil
with knives, and he is his knife-tosser, and plays with swords, and
balances them upon his tongue by the sharp point.” In the Life of
Hereward, the gleeman (whose name is there translated by _joculator_)
is represented as conciliating the favour of the new Norman lords by
mimicking the unrefined manners of the Saxons, and throwing upon them
indecent jests and reproaches. But, in the later Anglo-Saxon period at
least, the words _scop_ and _gleóman_ appear to have been considered
as equivalent; for, in another hall-scene in Beowulf, where the scop
performs his craft, we are told that--

    _Leoð wæs asungen,_         _The lay was sung,_
    _gleómannes gyd,_           _the gleeman’s recital,_
    _gamen eft astáh,_          _pastime began again,_
    _beorhtode benc-swég._      _the bench-noise became loud._
                                          --Beowulf, l. 2323.

There is here evidently an intimation of merrier songs than those sung
by the _scop_, and whatever his performances were, they drew a louder
welcome. And in a fragment of another romance which has come down to
us, the gleeman Widseth bears witness to the wandering character of his
class, and enumerates in a long list the various courts of different
chiefs and peoples which he had visited. We learn, also, that among the
Anglo-Saxons there were gleemen attached to the courts or households of
the kings and great chieftains. Under Edward the Confessor, as we learn
from the Domesday Survey, Berdic, the king’s _joculator_, possessed
three villas in Gloucestershire.

On the continent, when we first become acquainted with the history of
the popular literature, we find the minstrels, the representatives
of the ancient bards, appearing as the composers and chanters of the
poems which told the stories of the old heroes of romance, and they
seem also to have been accompanied usually with the harp, or with some
other stringed instrument. They speak of themselves, in these poems, as
wandering about from castle to castle, wherever any feasting was going
on, as being everywhere welcome, and as depending upon the liberality
either of the lord of the feast, or of the guests, for their living.
Occasional complaints would lead us to suppose that this liberality was
not always great, and the poems themselves contain formules of begging
appeals, which are not very dignified or delicate. Thus, in the romance
of “Gui de Bourgogne,” the minstrel interrupts his narrative, to inform
his hearers that “Whoever wishes to hear any more of this poem, must
make haste to open his purse, for it is now high time that he give me

    _Qui or voldra chançon oïr et escouter,_
    _Si voist isnelement sa boursse desfermer,_
    _Qu’il est hui mès bien tans qu’il me doie doner._
                         --Gui de Bourgogne, l. 4136.

In like manner, in the romance of “Huon de Bordeaux,” the minstrel,
after having recited nearly five thousand lines, makes his excuse for
discontinuing until another day. He reminds his auditors that it is
near vespers, and that he is weary, and invites them to return next
day after dinner, begging each of them to bring with him a _maille_,
or halfpenny, and complaining of the meanness of those who were
accustomed to give so small a coin as the _poitivine_ “to the courteous
minstrel.” The minstrel seems to have calculated that this hint might
not be sufficient, and that they would require being reminded of it,
for, after some two or three hundred lines of the next day’s recital,
he introduces another formule of appeal to the purses of his hearers.
“Take notice,” he goes on to say, “as may God give me health, I will
immediately put a stop to my song; ... and I at once excommunicate all
those who shall not visit their purses in order to give something to my

    _Mais saciés bien, se Dix me doinst santé,_
    _Ma cançon tost vous ferai desiner;_
    _Tous chiaus escumenie_, ...
           *       *       *       *       *
    _Qui n’iront à lour bourses pour ma feme donner._
                        --Huon de Bordeaux, l. 5482.

These minstrels, too, display great jealousy of one another, and
especially of what they term the new minstrels, exclaiming against the
decadence of the profession.

It would appear, indeed, that these French minstrels, the poets by
profession, who now become known to us by the name of _trouvères_,
or inventors (in the language of the south of France, _trobadors_),
held a position towards the _jougleurs_, or _jogleurs_[25] (from the
Latin _joculatores_, and this again from _jocus_, game), which the
Anglo-Saxon _scop_ held towards the gleeman. Though the mass of the
minstrels did get their living as itinerant songsters, they might be
respectable, and sometimes there was a man of high rank who became a
minstrel for his pleasure; but the jougleurs, as a body, belonged to
the lowest and most degraded class of mediæval society, that of the
ribalds or letchers, and the more respectable minstrels of former
days were probably falling gradually into their ranks. It was the
class which abandoned itself without reserve to the mere amusement
and pleasure of the aristocracy, and it seems to have been greatly
increased by the Crusades, when the jougleurs of the west were brought
into relations with those of the east, and learnt a multitude of
new ways of exciting attention and making mirth, of which they were
previously ignorant. The jougleurs had now become, in addition to their
older accomplishments, magicians and conjurers, and wonderfully skilled
in every description of sleight of hand, and it is from these qualities
that we have derived the modern signification of the word _juggler_.
They had also adopted the profession of the eastern story-tellers, as
well as their stories, which, however, they turned into verse; and they
brought into the west many other exhibitions which did not tend to
raise the standard of western morals.

The character of the minstrels, or jougleurs, their wandering life,
and the ease with which they were admitted everywhere, caused them to
be employed extensively as spies, and as bearers of secret news, and
led people to adopt the disguise of a minstrel, as one which enabled
them to pass through difficulties unobserved and unchallenged. In
the story of Eustace the monk, when Eustace sought to escape from
England, to avoid the pursuit of king John, he took a fiddle and a
bow (a fiddlestick), and dressed himself as a minstrel, and in this
garb he arrived at the coast, and, finding a merchant ready to sail,
entered the ship with him. But the steersman, who did not recognise
the minstrel as one of the passengers, ordered him out. Eustace
expostulated, represented that he was a minstrel, and, after some
dispute, the steersman, who seems to have had some suspicions either
of his disguise or of his skill, concluded by putting the question,
“At all events, if thou knowest any song, friend, let us have it.”
The monk was not skilled in singing, but he replied boldly, “Know I
one? Yea! of Agoulant, and Aymon, or of Blonchadin, or of Florence of
Rome (these were all early metrical romances); there is not a song in
the whole world but I know it. I should be delighted, no doubt, to
afford you amusement; but, in truth, the sea frightens me so much at
present, that I could not sing a song worth hearing.” He was allowed
to pass. Some of those who adopted the disguise of the jougleur were
better able to sustain it, and minstrelsy became considered as a polite
accomplishment, perhaps partly on account of its utility. There is,
in the history of the Fitz-Warines, a remarkable character of this
description named John de Raunpaygne. Fulke Fitz-Warine had formed a
design against his great enemy, Moris Fitz-Roger, and he established
himself, with his fellow outlaws, in the forest near Whittington, in
Shropshire, to watch him. Fulke then called to him John de Raunpaygne.
“John,” said he, “you know enough of minstrelsy and joglery; dare
you go to Whittington, and play before Moris Fitz-Roger, and spy how
things are going on?” “Yea,” said John. He crushed a herb, and put it
in his mouth, and his face began immediately to swell, and became so
discoloured, that his own companions hardly knew him; and he dressed
himself in poor clothes, and “took his box with his instruments
of joglery and a great staff in his hand;” and thus he went to
Whittington, and presented himself at the castle, and said that he
was a jogeleur. The porter carried him to Sir Moris, who received him
well, inquired in the first place for news, and receiving intelligence
which pleased him (it was designedly false), he gave the minstrel a
valuable silver cup as a reward. Now, “John de Raunpaygne was very
ill-favoured in face and body, and on this account the ribalds of the
household made game of him, and treated him roughly, and pulled him by
his hair and by his feet. John raised his staff, and struck a ribald on
the head, that his brain flew into the middle of the place. ‘Wretched
ribald,’ said the lord, ‘what hast thou done?’ ‘Sir,’ said he, ‘for
God’s mercy, I cannot help it; I have a disease which is very grievous,
which you may see by my swollen face. And this disease takes entire
possession of me at certain hours of the day, when I have no power to
govern myself.’ Moris swore a great oath, that if it were not for
the news he had brought, he would have his head cut off immediately.
The jogeleur hastened his departure, for the time he remained there
seemed very long.” The result of this adventure was the attack upon
and slaughter of Moris Fitz-Roger by Fulk Fitz-Warine. Some time after
this, Fulk Fitz-Warine, having recovered his castle of Whittington, was
lamenting over the loss of his friend, Sir Audulf de Bracy, who had
fallen into the hands of king John’s emissaries, and was a prisoner
in Shrewsbury castle, where king John had come to make his temporary
residence, and again asked the aid of John de Raunpaygne, who promised
to make a visit to the king. “John de Raunpaygne knew enough of tabor,
harp, fiddle, citole, and joglery; and he attired himself very richly,
like an earl or baron, and he caused his hair and all his body to be
entirely dyed as black as jet, so that nothing was white except his
teeth. And he hung round his neck a very handsome tabor, and then,
mounting a handsome palfrey, rode through the town of Shrewsbury to
the gate of the castle; and by many a one was he looked at. John came
before the king, and placed himself on his knees, and saluted the king
very courteously. The king returned his salutation, and asked him
whence he came. ‘Sire,’ said he, ‘I am an Ethiopian minstrel, born in
Ethiopia.’ Said the king, ‘Are all the people in your land of your
colour?’ ‘Yea, my lord, man and woman.’ ... John, during the day, made
great minstrelsy of tabor and other instruments. When the king was gone
to bed, Sir Henry de Audeley sent for the black minstrel, and led him
into his chamber. And they made great melody; and when Sir Henry had
drunk well, then he said to a valet, ‘Go and fetch Sir Audulf de Bracy,
whom the king will put to death to-morrow; for he shall have a good
night of it before his death.’ The valet soon brought Sir Audulf into
the chamber. Then they talked and played. John commenced a song which
Sir Audulf used to sing; Sir Audulf raised his head, looked at him full
in the face, and with great difficulty recognised him. Sir Henry asked
for some drink; John was very serviceable, jumped nimbly on his feet,
and served the cup before them all. John was sly, he threw a powder
into the cup, which nobody perceived, for he was a good jogeleur, and
all who drunk became so sleepy that, soon after drinking, they lay
down and fell asleep. John de Raunpaygne and Sir Audulf de Bracy took
the opportunity for making their escape. We have here a mysterious
intimation of the fact that the minstrel was employed also in dark
deeds of poisoning. Still later on in the story of Fulk Fitz-Warine,
the hero himself goes to a tournament in France in disguise, and John
de Raunpaygne resumes his old character of a jougleur.” “John,” says
the narrative, “was very richly attired, and well mounted, and he had
a very rich tabor, and he struck the tabor at the entry to the lifts,
that the hills and valleys rebounded, and the horses became joyful.”

All these anecdotes reveal to us minstrels who were perfectly free, and
wandered from place to place at will; but there were others who were
retained by and in the regular employ of individuals. The king had his
minstrels, and so most of the barons had their household minstrels. In
one of the mediæval Latin stories, current in this country probably as
early as the thirteenth century, we are told that a jougleur (_mimus_
he is called in the Latin, a word used at this time as synonymous with
_joculator_) presented himself at the gate of a certain lord to enter
the hall and eat (for the table in those days was rarely refused to
a minstrel), but he was stopped by the porter, who asked him to what
lord he was attached, evidently thinking, as was thought some three
centuries later, that the treatment merited by the servant depended on
the quality of the master. The minstrel replied that his master was
God. When the porter communicated this response to his churlish lord,
or equally churlish steward, they replied that if he had no other
lord, he should not be admitted there. When the jougleur heard this,
he said that he was the devil’s own servant; whereupon he was received
joyfully, “because he was a good fellow” (_quia bonus socius erat_).
The records of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries contain many
entries of payments to the king’s minstrels, and the names of some of
them are preserved. On great festivals at the king’s court, minstrels
came to seek employment from every part of the world which acknowledged
the reign of feudalism. Four hundred and twenty-six minstrels were
present at the marriage festivities of the princess Margaret, daughter
of Edward I.; and several hundred played before the same monarch at
the Whitsuntide of 1306. This affluence of minstrels gave rise to the
practice of building a large music-gallery at one end of the mediæval
hall, which seems to have been introduced in the fourteenth century. At
this time minstrels were sometimes employed for very singular purposes,
such as for soothing the king when undergoing a disagreeable operation.
We learn from the wardrobe accounts that, in the twenty-fifth year of
the reign of Edward I. (A.D. 1297) twenty shillings, or about
fifteen pounds in modern money, was given to the minstrel of Sir John
Maltravers as a reward for performing before the king while he was bled.

The king’s minstrels, and those of the great lords, were very well
paid, but the great mass of the profession, who depended only on what
they obtained in gifts at each particular feast, which they recklessly
squandered away as soon as they got it, lived a hard as it was a
vagabond life. The king’s minstrels, in the fourteenth century in
England, received from sixpence to sevenpence halfpenny a day, that
is from seven shillings and sixpence to nine shillings and fourpence
halfpenny, during the whole year. On the other hand, Colin Muset, one
of the best of the French song-writers of the thirteenth century,
complains of the want of liberality shown to him by the great baron
before whom he had played on the viol in his hostel, and who had given
him nothing, not even his wages:--

    _Sire quens, j’ai vielé_
    _Devant vos en vostre ostel;_
    _Si ne m’avez riens donné,_
    _Ne mes gages acquiter._

And he laments that he is obliged to go home in poverty, because his
wife always received him ill when he returned to her with an empty
purse, whereas, when he carried back his _malle_ well stuffed, he was
covered with caresses by his whole family. The French poet Rutebeuf,
whose works have been collected and published by M. Jubinal, may be
considered as the type of the better class of minstrels at this period,
and he has become an object of especial interest to us in consequence
of the number of his shorter effusions which describe his own position
in life. The first piece in the collection has for its subject his own
poverty. He complains of being reduced to such distress, that he had
been obliged for some time to live upon the generosity of his friends;
that people no longer showed any liberality to poor minstrels; that
he was perishing with cold and hunger; and that he had no other bed
but the bare straw. In another poem, entitled Rutebeuf’s Marriage,
he informs us that his privations were made more painful by the
circumstance of his having a shrew for his wife. In a third he laments
over the loss of the sight of his right eye, and informs us that, among
other misfortunes, his wife had just been delivered of a child, and his
horse had broke its leg, so that, while he had no means of supporting a
nurse for the former, the latter accident had deprived him of the power
of going to any distance to exercise his minstrelsy craft. Rutebeuf
repeats his laments on his extreme poverty in several other pieces,
and they have an echo in those of other minstrels of his age. We find,
in fact, in the verse-writers of the latter half of the thirteenth
century, and in some of those of the fourteenth, a general complaint of
the neglect of the minstrels, and of the degeneracy of minstrelsy. In a
poem against the growing taste for the tabor, printed in M. Jubinal’s
volume, entitled “Jougleurs et Trouvères,” the low state into which the
minstrels’ art had fallen is ascribed to a growing love for instruments
of an undignified character, such as the tabor, which is said to
have been brought to us from the Arabs, and the pipe. If an ignorant
shepherd from the field, says the writer of this poem, but play on the
tabor and pipe, he becomes more popular than the man who plays on the
viol ever so well--

    _Quar s’uns bergiers de chans tabore et chalemele,_
    _Plus tost est apelé que cil qui bien viele._

Everybody followed the tabor, he says, and the good minstrels were
no longer in vogue, though their fiddles were so much superior to
the flutes, and flajolets (_flajols_), and tabors of the others. He
consoles himself, however, with the reflection that the holy Virgin
Mary never loved the tabor, and that no such vulgar instrument was
admitted at her wedding; while she had in various ways shown her favour
to the jougleurs. “I pray God,” our minstrel continues, “that he will
send mischief to him who first made a tabor, for it is an instrument
which ought to please nobody. No rich man ought to love the sound of a
tabor, which is bad for people’s heads; for, if stretched tight, and
struck hard, it may be heard at half a league’s distance:”--

    _Qui primes sist tabor. Diex li envoit contraire!_
    _Que c’estrument i est qu’ à nului ne doit plaire._

    _Nus riches hom ne doit son de tabour amer._
    _Quant il est bien tendu et on le vent hurter,_
    _De demie grant lieue le puet-on escouter;_
    _Ci a trop mauvès son por son chief conforter._

[Illustration: _No. 124. An Organ Player._]

The musical instruments used by the mediæval gleemen and minstrels
form in themselves a not uninteresting subject. Those enumerated in
the Anglo-Saxon vocabularies are the harp (_hearpe_, _cithara_), the
_byme_, or trumpet, the pipe, “or whistle,” the _fithele_, viol, or
fiddle, the horn, and the trumpet, the latter of which was called in
Anglo-Saxon _truth_ and _særga_. To these we must certainly add a few
others, for the drum or tabor seems to have been in use among them
under some form, as well as the cymbal, hand-bells, lyre struck by a
plectrum, and the organ, which latter was already the favourite church
instrument. A portable organ was in use in the middle ages, of which
we give a figure (No. 124), from a manuscript in the British Museum
of the earlier part of the fourteenth century (MS. Reg. 14 E. iii.).
This hand-organ was known also by the name of the dulcimer. It occurs
again in the following group (No. 125), taken from a manuscript of the
fourteenth century in the British Museum (MS. Addit. No. 10,293), where
the performer on the dulcimer is accompanied by two other minstrels,
one playing on the bagpipe, the other on the viol or fiddle.

[Illustration: _No. 125. A Group of Minstrels._]

[Illustration: _No. 126. David and his Musicians._]

Each of the figures in this group is dressed in a costume so different
from the others that one might almost suppose them engaged in a
masquerade, and they seem to discountenance the notion that the
minstrels were in the habit of wearing any dress peculiar to their
class. In this respect, their testimony seems to be confirmed by the
circumstance that minstrels are mentioned sometimes as wearing the
dresses which have been given them, among other gifts, as a reward for
their performances. The illuminated letter here introduced (No. 126),
which is taken from a manuscript of the thirteenth century in the
British Museum (MS. Harl. No. 5102), represents king David singing his
psalms to the harp, while three musicians accompany him. The first,
who sits beside him, is playing on the shalm or psaltery, which is
frequently figured in the illuminations of manuscripts. One of the
two upper figures is playing on bells, which also is a description of
music often represented in the illuminations of different periods; and
the other is blowing the horn. These are all instruments of solemn
and ecclesiastical music. In the next cut (No. 127), taken from a
manuscript of the fourteenth century (MS. Reg. 2 B. vii.), the shalm is
placed in the hands of a nun, while a friar is performing on a rather
singularly shaped cittern, or lute.

[Illustration: _No. 127. Musicians of the Cloister._]

[Illustration: _No. 128. The Angelic Choir._]

[Illustration: _No. 129. An Angel Playing on the Shalm._]

In other manuscripts we find the ordinary musical instruments placed
in the hands of the angels; as in the early fourteenth century MS.
Reg. 2 B. vii., in a representation (copied in our cut No. 128) of the
creation with the morning stars singing together, and all the sons
of God shouting for joy, an angelic choir are making melody on the
trumpet, fiddle, cittern, shalm, and harp. There is another choir of
angels at p. 168 of the same MS., with two citterns and two shalms,
a fiddle and a trumpet. Similar representations occur in the choirs
of churches. In the bosses of the ceiling of Tewkesbury abbey church
we see angels playing the cittern (with a plectrum), the harp (with
its cover seen enveloping the lower half of the instrument), and the
cymbals. In the choir of Lincoln cathedral, some of the series of
angels which fill the spandrels of its arcades, and which have given
to it the name of the angel choir, are playing instruments, such as
the trumpet, double pipe, pipe and tabret, dulcimer, viol and harp, as
if to represent the heavenly choir attuning their praises in harmony
with the human choir below:--“therefore with angels and archangels, and
with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify thy glorious name.”
We will introduce here another drawing of an angelic minstrel (No.
129), playing a shalm, from the Royal MS. 14 E. iii.; others occur at
folio 1 of the same MS. It has been suggested that the band of village
musicians with flute, violin, clarionet, and bass-viol, whom most of
us have seen occupying the singing-gallery of some country church, are
probably not inaccurate representatives of the band of minstrels who
occupied the rood-lofts in mediæval times. In this period of the middle
ages, indeed, music seems to have had a great charm for all classes of
society, and each class appears in turn in the minstrel character in
the illuminations of the manuscripts. Even the shepherds, throughout
the middle ages, seem to have been musical, like the swains of
Theocritus or Virgil; for we constantly find them represented playing
upon instruments; and in confirmation we give a couple of goatherds
(No. 130), from MS. Reg. 2 B. vii. fol. 83, of early fourteenth
century date: they are playing on the pipe and horn. But, besides
these instruments, the bagpipe was also a rustic instrument: there is
a shepherd playing upon one on folio 112 of the same MS. (given in our
cut No. 131): and again, in the early fourteenth century MS. Reg. 2 B.
vi., on the reverse of folio 8, is a group of shepherds, one of whom
plays a small pipe, and another the bagpipes. Chaucer (in the “House of
Fame”) mentions--

          _Pipes made of grene corne,_
    _As han thise lytel herde gromes,_
    _That kepen bestis in the bromes._

It is curious to find that even at so late a period as the reign of
queen Mary, they still officiated at weddings and other merrymakings
in their villages, and even sometimes excited the jealousy of the
professors of the joyous science, as we have seen in the early French
poem against the taborers.

[Illustration: _No. 130. A Group of Shepherds._]

[Illustration: _No. 131. A Bagpiper._]

[Illustration: _No. 132. The Lady and Tambourine._]

[Illustration: _No. 133. A Drummer._]

I give next (cut No. 132) a representation of a female minstrel playing
the tambourine; it is also taken from a MS. of the fourteenth century
(MS. Reg. 2 B. vii. fol. 182).

The earliest instance yet met with of the modern-shaped drum is
contained in the Coronation Book of Richard II., preserved in the
Chapter-house. Westminster, and is represented in the annexed cut (No.
133). This mediæval drummer is clearly intended to be playing on two
drums at once; and, in considering their forms and position, we must
make some allowance for the mediæval neglect of perspective.

[Illustration: _No. 134. Blowing the Trumpet and Playing on the

In the mediæval vocabularies we find several lists of musical
instruments then best known. Thus John de Garlande, in the middle of
the thirteenth century, enumerates, as the minstrels who were to be
seen in the houses of the wealthy, individuals who performed on the
instruments which he terms in Latin, _lyra_ (meaning the harp), _tibia_
(the flute), _cornu_ (the horn), _vidula_ (the fiddle), _sistrum_ (the
drum), _giga_ (the gittern), _symphonia_ (a symphony), _psalterium_
(the psaltery), _chorus_, _citola_ (the cittern), _tympanum_ (the
tabor), and _cymbala_ (cymbals). The English glossaries of the
fifteenth century add to these the trumpet, the _ribibe_ (a sort of
fiddle), organs, and the crowd. The forms of these instruments of
various periods will be found in the illustrations which have been
given in the course of the present chapter. It will be well perhaps to
enumerate again the most common; they are the harp, fiddle, cittern
or lute, hand-organ or dulcimer, the shalm or psaltery, the pipe and
tabor, pipes of various sizes played like clarionets, but called
flutes, the double pipe, hand-bells, trumpets and horns, bagpipes,
tambourine, tabret, drum, and cymbals. We give two further groups
of figures in illustration of these instruments, both taken from
the Royal MS. so often quoted, 2 B. vii. In the first (No. 134) we
have a boy (apparently) playing the cymbals; and in the second (No.
135) an example of the double flute, which we have already seen in
Anglo-Saxon manuscripts (see before, pp. 35 and 65), and which appears
to have been one of the musical instruments borrowed immediately from
the Romans. In conclusion of this subject we give a group of musical
instruments (No. 136) from one of the illustrations of the celebrated
book entitled “Der Weise König,” a work of the close of the fifteenth

[Illustration: _No. 135. The Dulcimer and Double Flute._]

[Illustration: _No. 136. Musical Instruments._]

The early commentator on the Dictionarius, or Vocabulary, of John de
Garlande, calls the musical instruments _instrumenta leccatorum_,
(instruments of the letchers or ribalds), and I have already stated
that the minstrels, or jougleurs, were considered as belonging
generally to that degraded class of society. In the vocabularies of
the fifteenth century, they are generally classed under the head
of reprehensible or disgraceful professions, along with ribalds,
heretics, harlots, and so forth. It was the same character which led
them, a little later, to be proscribed in acts of parliament, under
the titles of rogues and vagabonds. In the older poetry, too, they
are often joined with disgraceful epithets. There is a curious early
metrical story, or fabliau, which was made, no doubt, to be recited
by the minstrels themselves, although it throws ridicule on their
profession; it is entitled _Les deux Troveors ribauz_, “the two ribald
trouvères,” and consists in a ludicrous dispute between them on their
qualifications as minstrels. My readers must not suppose that at this
time the reciters of poetry were a different or better class than those
who performed jugglery and low buffoonery--for, in this poem, either
of the two claimants to superiority boasts of his skill equally in
possessing in his memory completely, and being able to recite well, the
early Chansons de Geste, or Carlovingian romances, the later romances
of chivalry, and the fabliaux or metrical stories; in playing upon
the most fashionable musical instruments, such as the citole, the
fiddle, and the _gigue_ (gittern); in performing extraordinary feats
and in sleight of hand; and even in making chaplets of flowers, and in
acting as a spy or as a go-between in love intrigues. No doubt there
were minstrels who kept themselves more respectable, but they were
exceptions to the general character of the class, and were chiefly men
in the service of the king or of the great barons. There appears also
to have been, for a long time, a continued attempt to raise minstrelsy
to a respectable position, and out of this attempt arose, in different
places, companies and guilds. Of these, the most remarkable of which
we have any knowledge in this country, was the ancient fraternity of
minstrels of Beverley, in Yorkshire. When this company originated is
not known; but it was of some consideration and wealth in the reign
of Henry VI., when the church of St. Mary’s, in that town, was built;
for the minstrels gave a pillar to it, on the capital of which a band
of minstrels were sculptured. The cut below (No. 137) is copied from
the engraving of this group, given in Carter’s “Ancient Painting and
Sculpture.” The oldest existing document of the fraternity is a copy
of laws of the time of Philip and Mary, similar to those by which
all trade guilds were governed: their officers were an alderman and
two stewards or seers (_i. e._ searchers); and the only items in
their laws which throw any light upon the history or condition of the
minstrels are--one which requires that they should not take “any new
brother except he be mynstrell to some man of honour or worship, or
waite of some towne corporate or other ancient town, or else of such
honestye and conyng (_knowledge_) as shall be thought laudable and
pleasant to the hearers there;” and another, to the effect that “no
mylner, shepherd, or of other occupation, or husbandman, or husbandman
servant, playing upon pype or other instrument, shall sue (_follow_)
any wedding, or other thing that pertaineth to the said science, except
in his own parish.” Institutions like these, however, had little effect
in counteracting the natural decline of minstrelsy, for the state
of society in which it existed was passing away. It would be curious
to trace the changes in its history by the instruments which became
especially characteristic of the popular jougleur. The harp had given
way to the fiddle, and already, towards the end of the thirteenth
century, the fiddle was yielding its place to the tabor. In the
Anglo-Norman romance of Horn, of the thirteenth century, we are told of
a ribald “who goes to marriages to play on the tabor”--

    _A li piert qu’il est las un lechur_
    _Ki à ces nocces vient pur juer od tabur_;

and the curious fabliau of the king of England and the jougleur of Ely
describes the latter as carrying his tabor swung to his neck--

    _Entour son col porta soun tabour._

[Illustration: _No. 137. The Minstrels of Beverley._]



The dinner hour, even among the highest ranks of society, was, as I
have stated, early in the forenoon; and, except in the case of great
feasts, it appears not to have been customary to sit long after dinner.
Thus a great part of the day was left on people’s hands, to fill up
with some description of amusement or occupation. After the dinner
was taken away, and the ceremony of washing had been gone through,
the wine cup appears to have been at least once passed round, before
they all rose from table. The Camden Society has recently published
an early French metrical romance (“Blonde of Oxford,” by Philippe de
Reimes), which gives us a very interesting picture of the manners of
the thirteenth century. Jean of Dammartin is represented as the son of
a noble family in France, who comes to England to seek his fortune,
and enters the service of an earl of Oxford, as one of the esquires in
his household. There his duty is to attend upon the earl’s daughter,
the lady Blonde, and to serve her at table. “After the meal, they wash
their hands and then go to play, as each likes best, either in forests
or on rivers (_i.e._ hunting or hawking), or in amusements of other
kinds. Jean goes to which of them he likes, and, when he returns, he
often goes to play in the chambers of the countess, with the ladies,
who oblige him to teach them French.” Jean does his best to please
them, for which he was qualified by his education, “For he was very
well acquainted with chamber games, such as chess, tables, and dice,
with which he entertains his damsel (Blonde); he often says ‘check’
and ‘mate’ to her, and he taught her to play many a game:”--

    _De jus de cambres seut assés,_
    _D’eschés, de tables, et de dés,_
    _Dont il sa damoisele esbat;_
    _Souvent li dist eschek et mat;_
    _De maint jeu à juer l’aprist._
         --Blonde of Oxford, l. 399.

This is a correct picture of the usual occupations of the after-part of
the day among the superior classes of society in the feudal ages; and
scenes in accordance with it are often found in the illuminations of
the mediæval manuscripts. One of these is represented in the engraving
(No. 138) on the following page, taken from a manuscript of the
fifteenth century, containing the romance of the “Quatre Fils d’Aymon,”
and preserved in the Library of the Arsenal, in Paris. In the chamber
in front a nobleman and one of the great ladies of his household are
engaged at chess, while in the background we see other ladies enjoying
themselves in the garden, which is shown to us with its summer-house
and its flower-beds surrounded with fences of lattice-work. It may be
remarked, that the attention of the chess-players is withdrawn suddenly
from their game by the entrance of an armed knight, who appears in
another compartment of the illumination in the manuscript.

Of the chamber games enumerated in the foregoing extract from the
romance of “Blonde of Oxford,” that of chess was no doubt looked upon
as by far the most distinguished. To play well at chess was considered
as a very important part of an aristocratic education. Thus, in the
“Chanson de Geste” (metrical romance) of Parise la Duchessse, the son
of the heroine, who was brought up by the king in his palace, had
no sooner reached his fifteenth year, than “he was taught first his
letters, until he had made sufficient progress in them, and then he
learnt to play at tables and chess,” and learnt these games so well,
“that no man in this world was able to mate him:”--

    _Quant l’anfès ot xv. anz et compliz et passez,_
    _Premiers aprist à lettres, tant qu’il en sot assez;_
    _Puis aprist-il as tables et à eschas joier,_
    _It n’a ome an cest monde qui l’en peust mater._
                           --Parise la Duchesse, p. 86.

In this numerous cycle of romances, scenes in which kings and princes,
as well as nobles, are represented as occupying their leisure with the
game of chess, occur very frequently, and sometimes the game forms an
important incident in the story. In “Garin le Loherain,” a messenger
hurries to Bordeaux, and finds count Thiebaut playing at chess with
Berengier d’Autri. Thiebaut is so much excited by his news, that he
pushes the chess-board violently from him, and scatters the chess-men
about the place--

    _Thiebaus l’oït, à pou n’enrage vis,_
    _Li eschés boute, et le jeu espandit._
             --Garin le Loherain, ii. 77.

So, in the same romance, the emperor Pepin, arriving at his camp,
had no sooner entered his tent than, having put on a loose tunic
(_bliaut_), and a mantle, he called for a chess-board, and sat down to

    _Eschés demande, si est au jeu assis._
                          --Ib., ii. 127.

Even Witikind, the king of the pagan Saxons, is represented as amusing
himself with this game. When the messenger, who carried him news
that Charlemagne was on the way to make war upon him, arrived at
“Tremoigne,” the palace of the Saxon king, he found Witikind playing at
chess with Escorfaus de Lutise, and the Saxon queen. Sebile, who was
also well acquainted with the game, looking on--

    _A lui joe as eschas Escorfaus de Lutise;_
    _Sebile les esgarde, qi do jeu est aprise._
                  --Chanson des Saxons, i. 91.

Witikind was so angry at this intelligence, that his face “became as
red as a cherry,” and he broke the chess-board to pieces--

    _D’ire et de mautalant rugist comme cerise;_
    _Le message regarde, le geu peçoie et brise._

In the “Chanson de Geste” of Guerin de Montglaive, the story turns upon
an imprudent act of Charlemagne, who stakes his whole kingdom upon a
game of chess, and losing it to Guerin, is obliged to compound with him
by surrendering to him his right to the city of Montglaive, then in the
possession of the Saracens.

[Illustration: _No. 138. A Mediæval after-dinner Scene._]

These “Chansons de Geste,” formed upon the traditions of the early
Carlovingian period, can only of course be taken as a picture of the
manner of the age at which they were composed, that is, of the twelfth
and thirteenth centuries, and we know, from historical evidence, that
the picture is strictly true. At that period chess certainly was
what has been termed the royal game. The celebrated Walter Mapes,
writing in the latter half of the twelfth century, gives a curious
anecdote relating to tragical events which had occurred at the court
of Britany, apparently in the earlier part of the same century. Alan
of Britany, perhaps the last of the name who had ruled over that
country, had, at the suggestion of his wife, entrapped a feudatory
prince, Remelin, and subjected him to the loss of his eyes and other
mutilations. Remelin’s son, Wigan, having escaped a similar fate,
made war upon Alan, and reduced him to such extremities that, through
the interference of the king of France, he made his peace with Wigan,
by giving him his daughter in marriage, and thus for many years the
country remained in peace. But it appears that the lady always shared
in her father’s feuds, and looked with exulting contempt on her
father’s mutilated enemy. One day she was playing with her husband at
chess, and, towards the end of the game, Wigan, called away by some
important business, asked one of his knights to take his place at
the chess-board. The lady was the conqueror, and when she made her
last move, she said to the knight, “It is not to you, but to the son
of the mutilated that I say ‘mate.’” Wigan heard this sarcasm, and,
deeply offended, hurried to the residence of his father-in-law, took
him by surprise, and inflicted upon him the same mutilations which
had been experienced by Remelin. Then, returning home, he engaged in
another game with his wife, and, having gained it, threw the eyes and
other parts of which her father had been deprived on the chess-board,
exclaiming, “I say _mate_, to the daughter of the mutilated.” The story
goes on to say that the lady concealed her desire of vengeance, until
she found an opportunity of effecting the murder of her husband.

We need not be surprised if, among the turbulent barons of the middle
ages, the game of chess often gave rise to disputes and sanguinary
quarrels. The curious history of the Fitz-Warines, reduced to writing
certainly in the thirteenth century, gives the following account of
the origin of the feud between king John and Fulk Fitz-Warine, the
outlaw:--“Young Fulk,” we are told, “was bred with the four sons of
king Henry II., and was much beloved by them all except John; for
he used often to quarrel with John. It happened that John and Fulk
were sitting all alone in a chamber playing at chess; John took the
chess-board and struck Fulk a great blow. Fulk felt himself hurt,
raised his foot and struck John in the middle of the stomach, that
his head went against the wall, and he became all weak and fainted.
Fulk was in consternation; but he was glad that there was nobody in the
chamber but they two, and he rubbed John’s ears, who recovered from
his fainting-fit, and went to the king his father, and made a great
complaint. ‘Hold your tongue, wretch,’ said the king, ‘you are always
quarrelling. If Fulk did anything but good to you, it must have been
by your own desert;’ and he called his master, and made him beat him
finely and well for complaining.” Similar incidents recur continually
in the early romances I have just quoted as the “Chansons de Geste,”
which give us so vivid a picture of feudal times. A fatal quarrel of
this kind was the cause of the feud between Charlemagne and Ogier le
Danois. At one of the Easter festivals of the court of Charlemagne, the
emperor’s son, Charles, and Bauduin, the illegitimate son of Ogier,
went to play together. Bauduin and young Charles took a chess-board and
sat down to the game for pastime. “They have arranged their chess-men
on the board. The king’s son first moved his pawn, and young Bauduin
moved his _aufin_ (bishop) backwards. The king’s son thought to press
him very hard, and moves his knight upon the other _aufin_. The one
moved forward and the other backward so long, that young Bauduin said
‘mate’ to him in the corner:”--

    _Il et Callos prisent un esquekier,_
    _Au ju s’asisent por aus esbanier._
    _S’ont lor esches assis sor le tabler._
    _Li fix au roi traist son paon premier,_
    _Bauduinés traist son aufin arier._
    _Li fix au roi le volt forment coitier,_
    _Sus l’autre aufin a trait son chevalier._
    _Tant traist li uns avant et l’autre arier,_
    _Bauduinés li dist mat en l’angler._
                --Ogier de Danemarche, l. 3159.

The young prince was furious at his defeat, and, not content with
treating the son of Ogier with the most insulting language, he seized
the chess-board in his two hands, and struck him so violent a blow on
the forehead, that he split his head, and scattered his brains over
the floor. In a well-known illuminated manuscript of the fifteenth
century, in the British Museum (MS. Reg. 15 E. vi.), containing a copy
of the romance of “Ogier le Danois,” this scene is represented in an
illumination which is copied in our cut No. 139. Similar incidents are
rather common in these old romances. In that of “Parise la Duchesse,”
her young son, brought up as a foundling at the court of the king of
Hungary, becomes an object of jealousy to the old nobles. Four of the
sons of the latter conspire to murder him, and it is arranged that
they shall invite him to go and play at chess with them in a retired
cellar, and, having secretly provided themselves with knives, insult
him, in order to draw him into a quarrel, and then stab him to death.
“Hugues,” they said, “will you come with us to play at chess? you may
gain a hundred francs on the gilt chess-board, and at the same time you
will teach us chess and dice; for certainly you know the games much
better than any of us.” Hugues seems to have been conscious of the
frequency of quarrels arising from the game, for it was not until they
had promised him that they would not seek any cause of dispute, that
he accepted their invitation. They then led him into the cellar, and
sat down at the chess-board. “He began by playing with the son of duke
Granier; and each put down a hundred francs in coined money; but he had
soon vanquished and mated them all, that not one of them was able to
mate him:”--

    _Au fil au duc Graner comença à juer;_
    _Chascuns mist c. frans de deniers moniez;_
    _Mais il les a trestoz et vancus et matez,_
    _Que il n’i ot i. sol qui l’an poüft mater._
                  --Parise la Duchesse, p. 105.

Hugues, in kindness, offered to teach them better how to play, without
allowing them to risk their money, but they drew their knives upon him,
and insulted him in the most outrageous terms. He killed the foremost
of them with a blow of his fist, and seizing upon the chess-board for
a weapon, for he was unarmed, he “brained” the other three with it. We
learn from this anecdote that it was the custom in the middle ages to
play at chess for money.

[Illustration: _No. 139. A Quarrel at Chess._]

As I have already remarked, these romances picture to us the manners of
the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and not those of the Carlovingian
era. The period when the game of chess was first introduced into
western Europe can only be conjectured, for writers of all descriptions
were so much in the habit of employing the notions belonging to their
own time in relating the events of the past, that we can place no
dependence on anything which is not absolute contemporary evidence.
The chess-board and men so long preserved in the treasury of St.
Denis, and said to have belonged to Charlemagne, were, I think,
probably, not older than the eleventh century, and appear to have had
a Byzantine origin. If the game of chess had been known at the court
of Charlemagne, I cannot but think that we should have found some
distinct allusion to it. The earliest mention of this game that we
know is found in a letter from Damianus, cardinal bishop of Ostia,
to Alexander II., who was elected to the papacy in 1061, and enjoyed
it till 1073. Damianus tells the pope how he was travelling with a
bishop of Florence, when, “having arrived in the evening at a hostel,
I withdrew,” he says, “into the cell of a priest, while he remained
with the crowd of travellers in the spacious house. In the morning, I
was informed by my servant that the aforesaid bishop had been playing
at the game of chess; which information, like an arrow, pierced my
heart very acutely. At a convenient hour, I sent for him, and said in
a tone of severe reproof, ‘The hand is stretched out, the rod is ready
for the back of the offender.’ ‘Let the fault be proved,’ said he,
‘and penance shall not be refused.’ ‘Was it well,’ I rejoined, ‘was it
worthy of the character you bear, to spend the evening in the vanity of
chess-play (_in vanitate scachorum_), and defile the hands and tongue,
which ought to be the mediator between man and the Deity? Are you not
aware that, by the canonical law, bishops, who are dice-players, are
ordered to be deposed?’ He, however, making himself a shield of defence
from the difference in the names, said that dice was one thing, and
chess another; consequently that the canon only forbade dice, but
that it tacitly allowed chess. To which I replied, ‘Chess,’ I said,
‘is not named in the text, but the general term of dice comprehends
both the games. Wherefore, since dice are prohibited, and chess is
not expressly mentioned, it follows, without doubt, that both kinds
of play are included under one term, and equally condemned?’” This
occurred in Italy, and it is evident from it that the game of chess was
then well known there, though I think we have a right to conclude from
it, that it had not been long known. There appears to be little room
for doubting, that chess was, like so many other mediæval practices,
an oriental invention, that the Byzantine Greeks derived it from the
Saracens, and that from them it came by way of Italy to France.

The knowledge of the game of chess, however, seems to have been
brought more directly from the East by the Scandinavian navigators,
to whom such a means of passing time in their distant voyages, and
in their long nights at home, was most welcome, and who soon became
extraordinarily attached to it, and displayed their ingenuity in
elaborately carving chess-men in ivory (that is, in the ivory of
the walrus), which seem to have found an extensive market in other
countries. In the year 1831, a considerable number of these carved
ivory chess-men were found on the coast of the Isle of Lewis, probably
the result of some shipwreck in the twelfth century, for to that period
they belong. They formed part of at least seven sets, and had therefore
probably been the stock of a dealer. Some of them were obtained by
the British Museum, and a very learned and valuable paper on them was
communicated by sir Frederic Madden to the Society of Antiquaries,
and printed in the twenty-fourth volume of the _Archæologia_. Some of
the best of them, however, remained in private hands, and have more
recently passed into the rich museum of the late lord Londesborough.
We give here two groups of these curious chess-men, taken from the
collection of lord Londesborough, and from those in the British Museum
as engraved in the volume of the _Archæologia_ just referred to. The
first group, forming our cut No. 140, consists of a king (1), from the
collection of lord Londesborough, and a queen (2), bishop (3), and
knight (4), all from the _Archæologia_; and the second group (No. 141)
presents us with the warriors on foot, to which the Icelanders gave the
name of _hrokr_, and to which sir Frederic Madden gives the English
name of warders, one of them (5) from lord Londesborough’s collection,
the other (6) from the British Museum. The rest are pawns, all from the
latter collection; they are generally plain and octagonal, as in the
group to the right (7), but were sometimes ornamented, as in the case
of the other example (8).

[Illustration: _No. 140. Icelandic Chess-men of the Twelfth Century._]

It will be seen at once that in name and character these chess-men are
nearly identical with those in common use, although in costume they
are purely Scandinavian. The king sits in the position, with his sword
across his knee, and his hand ready to draw it, which is described as
characteristic of royalty in the old northern poetry. The queen holds
in her hand a drinking horn, in which at great festivals the lady of
the household, of whatever rank, was accustomed to serve out the ale or
mead to the guests. The bishops are some seated, and others standing,
but all distinguished by the mitre, crosier, and episcopal costume.
The knights are all on horseback, and are covered with characteristic
armour. The armed men on foot, just mentioned by the name of warders,
were peculiar to the Scandinavian set of chess-men, and supplied the
place of the rocks, or rooks, in the mediæval game, and of the modern

[Illustration: _No. 141. Icelandic Chess-men of the Twelfth Century._]

Several of the chess-men had indeed gone through more than one
modification in their progress from the East. The Arabs and Persians
admitted no female among the persons on their chess-board, and the
piece which we call the queen was with them the _pherz_ (vizier or
councillor). The oriental name, under the form _fers_, _ferz_, or
_ferce_, in Latin _ferzia_, was long preferred in the middle ages,
though certainly as early as the twelfth century the original character
of the piece had been changed for that of a queen, and the names _fers_
and queen became synonymous. It is hardly necessary to say that a
bishop would not be found on a Saracenic chess-board. This piece was
called by the Persians and Arabs _pil_ or _phil_, meaning an elephant,
under the form of which animal it was represented. This name was also
preserved in its transmission to the west, and with the Arab article
prefixed became _alfil_, or more commonly _alfin_, which was again
softened down into _aufin_, the usual name of the piece in the old
French and English writers. The character of the bishop must have
been adopted very early among the Christians, and it is found under
that character among the Northerns, and in England. Such, however,
was not the case everywhere. The Russians and Swedes have preserved
the original name of the elephant. In Italy and France this piece was
sometimes represented as an archer; and at an early period in the
latter country, from a supposed confusion of the Arabic _fil_ with
the French _fol_, it was sometimes called by the latter name, and
represented as a court jester. _Roc_, the name given by the Saracens to
the piece now called the castle, meant apparently a hero, or champion,
Persian _rokh_; the name was preserved in the middle ages, but the
piece seems to have been first represented under the character of
an elephant, and it was no doubt, from the tower which the elephant
carried on its back, that our modern form originated. The Icelanders
seem alone to have adopted the name in its original meaning, for with
them, as shown in cut No. 141, the _hrokr_ is represented as a warrior
on foot.

[Illustration: _No. 142. Chess-man of the Thirteenth Century._]

A few examples of carved chess-men have been found in different parts
of England, which show that these highly-ornamented pieces were in
use at all periods. One of these, represented in our cut No. 142, is
preserved in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, and, to judge by the
costume, belongs to the earlier part of the thirteenth century. Its
material is the tooth of the walrus (the northern ivory); it represents
a knight on both sides, one wielding a lance, the other a sword, the
intervening spaces being filled with foliage. Another knight, made of
real ivory, is represented in our cut No. 143, taken from an engraving
in the third volume of the _Archæological Journal_, where it is stated
to be in the possession of the Rev. J. Eagles, of Worcester. It belongs
to the reign of Edward III. Here the knight is on horseback, and
wears chain-mail and plate. The body of the horse is entirely covered
with chain-mail, over which housings are placed, and the head with

[Illustration: _No. 143. Chess-man of the Fourteenth Century._]

All who are acquainted with the general character of mediæval carving
will suppose that these ornamental chess-men were of large dimensions,
and consequently rather clumsy for use. The largest of those found in
the Isle of Lewis, a king, is upwards of four inches in height, and
nearly seven inches in circumference. They were hence rather formidable
weapons in a strong hand, and we find them used as such in some of the
scenes of the early romances. According to one version of the death of
Bauduin, the illegitimate son of Ogier, the young prince Charles struck
him with the rook so violent a blow that he made his two eyes fly out:--

    _Là le dona Callos le cop mortel_
    _Si com juoit as eskés et as dés;_
    _Là le feri d’un rok par tel fiertés,_
    _Que andus les elx li fist du cief voler._
                --Ogier de Danemarche, l. 90.

A rather rude illumination is one of the manuscripts, of which M.
Barrois has given a fac-simile in his edition of this romance,
representing Charles striking his opponent with the rook. According
to another version of the story, the young prince, using the rook as
a missile, threw it at him. An incident in the romance of the “Quatre
Fils d’Aymon,” where the agents of Regnault go to arrest the duke
Richard of Normandy, and find him playing at chess, is thus told
quaintly in the English version, printed by Copeland:--“When duke
Richarde saw that these sergeauntes had him thus by the arm, and helde
in his hande a lady of ivery, wherewith he would have given a mate to
Yonnet, he withdrew his arme, and gave to one of the sergeauntes such a
stroke with it into the forehead, that he made him tumble over and over
at his feete; and than he tooke a rooke, and smote another withall upon
his head, that he all to-brost it to the brayne.”

[Illustration: _No. 144. An Early Chess-board and Chess-men._]

The chess-boards were naturally large, and were sometimes made of
the precious metals, and of other rich materials. In one romance,
the chess-board and men are made of crystal; in another, that of
“Alexander,” the men are made of sapphires and topazes. A chess-board,
preserved in the museum of the Hôtel de Cluny, at Paris, and said to
have been the one given by the old man of the mountains (the sheikh of
the Hassassins) to St. Louis, is made of rock-crystal, and mounted in
silver gilt. In the romances, however, the chess-board is sometimes
spoken of as made of _ormier_, or elm. In fact, when the game of
chess came into extensive use, it became necessary not only to make
the chess-board and men of less expensive materials and smaller, but
to give to the latter simple conventional forms, instead of making
them elaborate sculptures. The foundation for this latter practice
had already been laid by the Arabs, whose tenets, contrary to those
of the Persians, proscribed all images of living beings. The mediæval
conventional form of the rook, a figure with a bi-parted head, somewhat
approaching to the heraldic form of the fleur-de-lis, appears to
have been taken directly from the Arabs. The knight was represented
by a small upright column, the upper part of it bent to one side,
and is supposed to have been meant for a rude representation of the
horse’s head. The aufin, or bishop, had the same form as the knight,
except that the bent end was cleft, probably as an indication of the
episcopal mitre. The accompanying figure of a chess-board (No. 144),
taken from a manuscript of the earlier part of the fourteenth century
(MS. Cotton. Cleopat. B. ix.), but no doubt copied from one of the
latter part of the thirteenth century, when the Anglo-Norman metrical
treatise on chess which it illustrates was composed, gives all the
conventional forms of chess-men used at that time. The piece at the
left-hand extremity of the lower row is evidently a king. The other
king is seen in the centre of the upper row. Immediately to the left of
the latter is the queen, and the two figures below the king and queen
are knights, while those to the left of the queen and white knight are
rooks. Those in the right-hand corner, at top and bottom, are aufins,
or bishops. The pawns on this chess-board bear a striking resemblance
to those found in the Isle of Lewis. The same forms, with very slight
variations, present themselves in the scenes of chess-playing as
depicted in the illuminated manuscripts. Thus, in a manuscript of
the French prose romance of “Meliadus,” in the British Museum (MS.
Addit. No. 12,228, fol. 23, v^o), written between the years 1330 and
1350, we have an interesting sketch (given in our cut No. 145) of two
kings engaged in this game. The rooks and the bishops are distinctly
represented, but the others are less easily recognised, in consequence
of the imperfect drawing. Our next cut (No. 146) is taken from the
well-known manuscript of the poetry of the German Minnesingers, made
for Rudiger von Manesse, early in the fourteenth century, and now
preserved in the National Library in Paris, and represents the prince
poet, Otto of Brandenburg, playing at chess with a lady. We have
here the same conventional forms of chess-men, a circumstance which
shows that the same types prevailed in England, France, and Germany.
Another group, in which a king is introduced playing at chess, forms
the subject of our cut No. 147, and is taken from a manuscript of the
thirteenth century, in the Harleian collection in the British Museum
(No. 1275), consisting of a numerous series of illustrations of the
Bible history, executed evidently in England. It will be seen that the
character of chess as a royal game is sustained throughout.

[Illustration: _No. 145. A Royal Game at Chess._]

[Illustration: _No. 146. A Game at Chess in the Fourteenth Century._]

[Illustration: _No. 147. A King at Chess._]

In this century the game of chess had become extremely popular among
the feudal aristocracy--including under that head all who could aspire
to knighthood. Already, in the twelfth century, directions for the
game had been composed in Latin verse, which seems to show that, in
spite of the zeal of men like cardinal Damianus, it was popular among
the clergy. Towards the latter end of the thirteenth century, a French
dominican friar, Jacques de Cessoles, made the game the subject of
a moral work, entitled _Moralitas de Scaccario_, which became very
popular in later times, was published in a French version by Jean
de Vignay, and translated from this French version into English, by
Caxton, in his “Boke of Chesse,” so celebrated among bibliographers.
To the age of Jacques de Cessoles belongs an Anglo-Norman metrical
treatise on chess, of which several copies are preserved in manuscript
(the one I have used is in MS. Reg. 13 A. xviii. fol. 161, v^o), and
which presents us with the first collection of games. These games are
distinguished by quaint names, like those given to the old dances; such
as _de propre confusion_ (one’s own confusion), _ky perde, sey sauve_
(the loser wins), _ky est larges, est sages_ (he that is liberal is
wise), _meschief fet hom penser_ (misfortune makes a man reflect), _la
chace de ferce et de chivaler_ (the chace of the queen and the knight),
_de dames et de damyceles_ (ladies and damsels), _la batalie de rokes_
(the battle of the rooks), and the like.

It is quite unnecessary to attempt to point out the numerous allusions
to the game of chess during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries,
when it continued to be extremely popular. Chaucer, in one of his
minor poems, the “Boke of the Duchesse,” introduces himself in a dream
as playing at chess with Fortune, and speaks of false moves, as though
dishonest tricks were sometimes practised in the game. He tells us,--

    _At chesse with me she gan to pleye,_
    _With hir fals draughtes_ (moves) _dyvers
    _She staale on me, and toke my fers_ (queen);
    _And whanne I saugh my fers awaye,_
    _Allas! I kouthe no lenger playe,_
    _But seyde, “Farewel, swete! ywys,_
    _And farewel al that ever ther ys!”_
    _Therwith Fortune seyde, “Chek here!”_
    _And “mate” in the myd poynt of the chekkere_ (chess-board),
    _With a powne_ (pawn) _errante, allas!_
    _Ful craftier to pleye she was_
    _Than Athalus, that made the game_
    _First of the chesse, so was hys name._
                       --ROBERT BELL’S Chaucer, vol. vi. p. 157.

With the breaking up of feudalism, the game of chess seems to have gone
to a great extent out of practice, and made way for a comparatively
new game,--that of cards, which now became very popular. When Caxton
printed his “Boke of Chesse” in 1474, he sought only to publish a
moral treatise, and not to furnish his countrymen with a book of
instructions in the game. The cut of the chess-player given in this
book, copied in our cut No. 148, shows some modifications in the forms
of the chess-men. The knight, the rook, and the pawn, have preserved
their old forms; but we are led to suppose, by the number of pieces
with the bi-partite head, that the bishop had assumed a shape nearly
resembling that of the rook. We have just seen Chaucer alluding to one
of the legends relating to the origin of this game. Caxton, after Jean
de Vignay and Jacques de Cessoles, gives us a strange story how it was
invented under Evylmerodach, king of Babylon, by a philosopher, “whyche
was named in Caldee Exerses, or in Greke Philemetor.”

[Illustration: _No. 148. Chess in the Fifteenth Century._]

[Illustration: _No. 149. An Italian Chess-board._]

Meanwhile, the game of chess had continued to flourish in Italy, where
it appears to have experienced improvements, and where certainly the
forms of the men were considerably modified. An Italian version of the
work of Jacques de Cessoles was printed at Florence in 1493, under the
title of _Libro de Giuocho delli Scacchi_, among the engravings to
which, as in most of the editions of that work, there is a picture of
a group of chess-players, who are here seated at a round table. The
chess-board is represented in our cut, No. 149, and it will be seen at
a glance that the chess-men present a far greater resemblance to those
used at the present day than those given in the older illuminations.
Within a few years of the date of this book, a Portuguese, named
Damiano, who was perhaps residing in Italy, as his work seems to have
appeared there first, drew up a book of directions for chess with a
set of eighty-eight games, which display considerable ingenuity. An
edition of this book was published at Rome as early as 1524, and
perhaps this was not the first. The figures of the chess-men are given
in this treatise; that of the king is vase-shaped, not unlike our
modern chess-king, but with two crowns; the queen is similar in shape,
but has one crown; the _delfino_ (bishop) differs from them in being
smaller, and having no crown; the _cavallo_ (knight) has the form of
a horse’s head; the _rocho_, as it is still called, is in the form of
a tower, like our modern castle; and the _pedona_ (pawn) resembles a
cone, with a knob at the apex. In England, the game of chess seems
not to have been much in vogue during the sixteenth century; it is, I
believe, only alluded to once in Shakespeare, in a well-known scene
in the Tempest, which may have been taken from a foreign story, to
which he owed his plot. The name of the game had been corrupted into
_chests_ or _cheasts_. The game of chess was expressly discouraged by
our “Solomon,” James I., as “overwise and philosophicke a folly.” An
attempt to bring it into more notice appears to have been made early
in the reign of Elizabeth, under the patronage of lord Robert Dudley,
afterwards the celebrated earl of Leicester, who displayed on many
occasions a taste for refinements of this sort. Instructions were again
sought from Italy through France; for there was printed and published
in London, in the year 1562, a little volume dedicated to lord Robert
Dudley, under the title of “The Pleasaunt and wittie Playe of the
Cheasts reniewed, with Instructions both to Learn it Easily and to
Play it Well; lately translated out of Italian into French, and now
set forth in Englishe by James Rowbotham.” Rowbotham gives us some
remarks of his own on the character of the game, and on the different
forms of the chess-men, which are not uninteresting. He says:--“As
for the fashion of the pieces, that is according to the fantasie of
the workman, which maketh them after this manner. Some make them lyke
men, whereof the kynge is the highest, and the queene (whiche some
name amasone or ladye) is the next, bothe two crowned. The bishoppes
some name alphins, some fooles, and some name them princes, lyke as
also they are next unto the kinge and the queene, other some cal them
archers, and thei are fashioned accordinge to the wyll of the workeman.
The knights some call horsemen, and thei are men on horse backe. The
rookes some cal elephantes, cariyng towres upon their backes, and men
within the towres. The paunes some cal fote men, as they are souldiours
on fote, cariyng some of them pykes, other some harquebushes, other
some halbards, and other some the javelyn and target. Other makers of
cheastmen make them of other fashions; but the use thereof wyll cause
perfect knowledge.” “Our Englishe cheastmen,” he adds, “are commonly
made nothing like unto these foresayde fashions: to wit, the kynge is
made the highest or longest; the queene is longest nexte unto him; the
bishoppe is made with a sharpe toppe, and cloven in the middest not
muche unlyke to a bishop’s myter; the knight hath his top cut asloope,
as thoughe beynge dubbed knight; the rooke is made lykest to the kynge
and the queene, but that he is not so long; the paunes be made the
smalest and least of all, and thereby they may best be knowen.”

At an early period the German tribes, as known to the Romans, were
notoriously addicted to gambling. We are informed by Tacitus that
a German in his time would risk not only his property, but his own
personal liberty, on a throw of the dice; and if he lost, he submitted
patiently, as a point of honour, to be bound by his opponent, and
carried to the market to be sold into slavery. The Anglo-Saxons appear
to have shared largely in this passion, and their habits of gambling
are alluded to in different writers. A well-known writer of the first
half of the twelfth century, Ordericus Vitalis, tells us that in his
time even the prelates of the church were in the habit of playing at
dice. A still more celebrated writer, John of Salisbury, who lived a
little later in the same century, speaks of dice-playing as being then
extremely prevalent, and enumerates no less than ten different games,
which he names in Latin, as follows:--_tessera_, _calculus_, _tabula_
(tables), _urio vel Dardana pugna_ (Troy fight), _tricolus_, _senio_
(sice), _monarchus_, _orbiculi_, _taliorchus_, and _vulpes_ (the game
of fox).--“De Nugis Curialium,” lib. i. c. 5. The sort of estimation in
which the game was then held is curiously illustrated by an anecdote in
the Carlovingian romance of “Parise la Duchesse,” where the king of the
Hungarians wishes to contrive some means of telling the real character
(aristocratic or plebeian) of his foundling, young Hugues, not then
known to be the son of the duchess Parise. A party of robbers (which
appears not to have been a specially disreputable avocation among the
Hungarians of the romance) are employed, first to seduce the youth to
“the chess and the dice,” and afterwards to lead him against his will
to a thieving expedition, the object of which was to rob the treasury
of the king, his godfather. They made a great hole in the wall, and
thrust Hugues through it. The youth beheld the heaps of gold and silver
with astonishment, but, resolved to touch none of the wealth he saw
around him, his eyes fell upon a coffer on which lay three dice, “made
and pointed in fine ivory”--

    _Garde for i. escrin, si a veu iij. dez,_
    _Qui sont de fin yvoire et fait et pointuré._
                    --Parise la Duchesse, p. 94.

Hugues seized the three dice, thrust them into his bosom, and,
returning through the breach in the wall, told the robbers that he had
carried away “the worth of four cities.” When the robbers heard his
explanation, they at once concluded, from the taste he had displayed
on this occasion, that he was of gentle blood, and the king formed the
same opinion on the result of this trial.

During the period of which we are now speaking--the twelfth and
thirteenth centuries--the use of dice had spread itself from the
highest to the very lowest class of the population. In its simpler
form, that of the game of hazard, in which the chance of each player
rested on the mere throw of the dice, it was the common game of the
low frequenters of the taverns,--that class which lived upon the vices
of society, and which was hardly looked upon as belonging to society
itself. The practice and results of gambling are frequently referred
to in the popular writers of the later middle ages. People could no
longer stake their personal liberty on the throw, but they played for
everything they had--even for the clothes they carried upon them, on
which the tavern-keepers, who seem to have acted also as pawnbrokers,
readily lent small sums of money. We often read of men who got into the
taverner’s hands, playing as well as drinking themselves naked; and in
a well-known manuscript of the beginning of the fourteenth century (MS.
Reg. 2 B. vii. fol. 167 v^o) we find an illumination which represents
this process very literally (cut No. 150). One, who is evidently the
more aged of the two players, is already perfectly naked, whilst the
other is reduced to his shirt. The illuminator appears to have intended
to represent them as playing against each other till neither had
anything left, like the two celebrated cats of Kilkenny, who ate one
another up until nothing remained but their tails.

[Illustration: _No. 150. Mediæval Gamblers._]

[Illustration: _No. 151. A Dice-Player._]

A burlesque parody on the church service, written in Latin, perhaps
as early as the thirteenth century, and printed in the “_Reliquiæ
Antiquæ_,” gives us rather a curious picture of tavern manners at
that early period. The document is profane,--much more so than any of
the parodies for which Hone was prosecuted; but it is only a moderate
example of the general laxness in this respect which prevailed, even
among the clergy, in what have been called “the ages of faith.” This is
entitled “The Mass of the Drunkards,” and contains a running allusion
to the throwing of the three dice, and to the loss of clothing which
followed; but it is full of Latin puns on the words of the church
service, and the greater part of it would not bear a translation.

It will have been already remarked that, in all these anecdotes and
stories, the ordinary number of the dice is three. This appears to have
been the number used in most of the common games. In our cut No. 151,
taken from the illumination in a copy of Jean de Vignay’s translation
of Jacobus de Cessolis (MS. Reg. 19 C. xi.), the dice-player appears
to hold but two dice in his hand; but this is to be laid solely to
the charge of the draughtsman’s want of skill, as the text tells us
distinctly that he has three. We learn also from the text, that in the
jug he holds in his right hand he carries his money, a late example of
the use of earthen vessels for this purpose. Two dice were, however,
sometimes used, especially in the game of hazard, which appears to
have been the great gambling game of the middle ages. Chaucer, in the
“Pardoneres Tale,” describes the hazardours as playing with two dice.
But in the curious scene in the “Towneley Mysteries” (p. 241), a work
apparently contemporary with Chaucer, the tormentors, or executioners,
are introduced throwing for Christ’s unseamed garment with three dice;
the winner throws fifteen points, which could only be thrown with that
number of dice.

[Illustration: _No. 152. Ornamental Dice._]

It would not seem easy to give much ornamentation to the form of dice
without destroying their utility, yet this has been attempted at
various times, and not only in a very grotesque but in a similar manner
at very distant periods. This was done by giving the die the form of a
man, so doubled up, that when thrown he fell in different positions,
so as to show the points uppermost, like an ordinary die. The smaller
example represented in our cut No. 152 is Roman, and made of silver,
and several Roman dice of the same form are known. It is singular that
the same idea should have presented itself at a much later period,
and, as far as we can judge, without any room for supposing that it
was by imitation. Our second example, which is larger than the other,
and carved in box-wood, is of German work, and apparently as old as
the beginning of the sixteenth century. Both are now in the fine and
extensive collection of the late lord Londesborough.

[Illustration: _No. 153. A Party at Tables._]

The simple throwing of the dice was rather an excitement than an
amusement; and at an early period people sought the latter by a
combination of the dice-throwing with some other system of movements
or calculations. In this way, no doubt, originated the different
games enumerated by John of Salisbury, the most popular of which was
that of tables (_tabula_ or _tabulæ_). This game was in use among
the Romans, and was in all probability borrowed from them by the
Anglo-Saxons, among whom it was in great favour, and who called the
game _tæfel_ (evidently a mere adoption of the Latin name), and the
dice _teoselas_ and _tæfel-stanas_. The former evidently represents
the Latin _tessellæ_, little cubes; and the latter seems to show
that the Anglo-Saxon dice were usually made of stones. At a later
period, the game of _tables_, used nearly always in the plural, is
continually mentioned along with chess, as the two most fashionable and
aristocratic games in use. An early and richly illuminated manuscript
in the British Museum--perhaps of the beginning of the fourteenth
century (MS. Harl. No. 1257)--furnishes us with the figures of players
at tables represented in our cut No. 153. The table, or board, with
bars or points, is here clearly delineated, and we see that the players
use both dice and men, or pieces--the latter round discs, like our
modern draughtsmen. In another manuscript, belonging to a rather later
period of the fourteenth century (MS. Reg. 13 A. xviii. fol. 157, v^o),
we have a diagram which shows the board as composed of two tables,
represented in our cut No. 154. It was probably this construction which
caused the name to be used in the plural; and as the Anglo-Saxons
always used the name in the singular, as is the case also with John
of Salisbury in the twelfth century, while the plural is always used
by the writers of a later date, we seem justified in concluding that
the board used by the Anglo-Saxons and Anglo-Normans consisted of one
table, like that represented in our cut No. 153, and that this was
afterwards superseded by the double board. It is hardly necessary to
point out to our readers that these two pictures of the boards show
us clearly that the mediæval game of tables was identical with our
modern backgammon, or rather, we should perhaps say, that the game of
backgammon, as now played, is one of the games played on the tables.

[Illustration: _No. 154. A Table-Board (Backgammon) of the Fourteenth

In the manuscript last quoted (MS. Reg. 13 A. xviii.) the figure of
the board is given to illustrate a very curious treatise on the game
of tables, written in Latin, in the fourteenth, or even perhaps in the
thirteenth, century. The writer begins by informing us, that “there
are many games at tables with dice, of which the first is the long
game, and is the game of the English, and it is common, and played as
follows” (_multi sunt ludi ad tabulas cum taxillis, quorum primus est
longus ludus, et est ludus Anglicorum, et est communis, et est talis
naturæ_), meaning, I presume, that it was the game usually played in
England. From the directions given for playing it, this game seems to
have had a close general resemblance to backgammon. The writer of the
treatise says that it was played with three dice, or with two dice, in
which latter case they counted six at each throw for the third dice.
In some of the other games described here, two dice only were used. We
learn from this treatise the English terms for two modes of winning
at the “long game” of tables--the one being called “lympoldyng,” the
other “lurchyng;” and a person losing by the former was said to be
“lympolded.” The writer of this tract gives directions for playing at
several other games of tables, and names some of them--such as “paume
carie,” the Lombard’s game (_ludus Lombardorum_), the “imperial,” the
“provincial,” “baralie,” and “faylys.”

This game continued long to exist in England under its old name of
_tables_. Thus Shakespeare:--

    _This is the ape of form, monsieur the nice,_
    _That, when he plays at_ tables, _chides the dice_.
                  --Love’s Labour’s Lost, Act v. Sc. 2.

The game appears at this time to have been a favourite one in the
taverns and ordinaries. Thus, in a satirical tract in verse, printed in
1600, we are told of--

    _An honest vicker, and a kind consort,_
    _That to the alehouse friendly would resort,_
    _To have a game at_ tables _now and than,_
    _Or drinke his pot as soone as any man_.
               --Letting of Humours Blood, 1600.

And one of the most popular of the satirical writers of that period,
Dekker, in his “Lanthorne and Candle-Light,” printed in 1620, says,
punningly,--“And knowing that your most selected gallants are the
onelye _table-men_ that are plaid withal at ordinaries, into an
ordinarye did he most gentleman-like convay himselfe in state.” We
learn from another tract of the same author, the “Gul’s Hornbooke,”
that the table-men at this time were usually painted.

We hardly perceive how the name of tables disappeared. It seems
probable that at this time the game of tables meant simply what we now
call backgammon, a word the oldest mention of which, so far as I have
been able to discover, occurs in Howell’s “Familiar Letters,” first
printed in 1646. It is there written _baggamon_. In the “Compleat
Gamester,” 1674, backgammon and ticktack occur as two distinct games at
what would have formerly been called tables; and another similar game
was called Irish. Curiously enough, in the earlier part of the last
century the game of backgammon was most celebrated as a favourite game
among country parsons.

Another game existing in the middle ages, but much more rarely alluded
to, was called _dames_, or ladies, and has still preserved that name
in French. In English, it was changed for that of _draughts_, derived
no doubt from the circumstance of _drawing_ the men from one square to
another. Our cut No. 155, taken from a manuscript in the British Museum
of the beginning of the fourteenth century, known commonly as Queen
Mary’s Psalter (MS. Reg. 2 B. vii.), represents a lady and gentleman
playing at dames, or draughts, differing only from the character of the
game at the present day in the circumstance that the draughtsmen are
evidently square.

[Illustration: _No. 155. A Game at Draughts._]

[Illustration: _No. 156. Cards in the Fourteenth Century._]

The mediæval games were gradually superseded by a new contrivance,
that of playing-cards, which were introduced into Western Europe in
the course of the fourteenth century. It has been suggested that the
idea of playing-cards was taken from chess--in fact, that they are the
game of chess transferred to paper, and without a board, and they are
generally understood to have been derived from the East. Cards, while
they possessed some of the characteristics of chess, presented the same
mixture of chance and skill which distinguished the game of tables. An
Italian writer, probably of the latter part of the fifteenth century,
named Cavelluzzo, author of a history of Viterbo, states that “in the
year 1379 was brought into Viterbo the game of cards, which comes from
the country of the Saracens, and is with them called _naib_.” Cards are
still in Spanish called _naipes_, which is said to be derived from the
Arabic: but they were certainly known in the west of Europe before the
date given by Cavelluzzo. Our cut No. 156 is taken from a very fine
manuscript of the romance of “Meliadus,” in the British Museum (MS.
Addit. 12,228, fol. 313, v^o), which was written apparently in the
south of France between the years 1330 and 1350; it represents a royal
party playing at cards, which was therefore considered at that time as
the amusement of the highest classes of society. They are, however,
first distinctly alluded to in history in the year 1393. In that year
Charles VI. of France was labouring under a visitation of insanity; and
we find in the accounts of his treasurer, Charles Poupart, an entry to
the following effect:--“Given to Jacquemin Gringonneur, painter, for
three packs of cards, gilt and diversly coloured, and ornamented with
several devices, to deliver to the lord the king for his amusement,
fifty-six sols of Paris.” It is clear from this entry that the game of
cards was then tolerably well known in France, and that it was by no
means new, though it was evidently not a common game, and the cards
had to be made by a painter--that is, as I suppose, an illuminator of
manuscripts. We find as yet no allusion to them in England: and it is
remarkable that neither Chaucer, nor any of the numerous writers of his
and the following age, ever speak of them. An illuminated manuscript
of apparently the earlier part of the fifteenth century, perhaps of
Flemish workmanship (it contains a copy of Raoul de Presle’s French
translation of St. Augustine’s “Civitas Dei”), presents us with another
card-party, which we give in our cut No. 157. Three persons are here
engaged in the game, two of whom are ladies. After the date at which
three packs of cards were made for the amusement of the lunatic king,
the game of cards seems soon to have become common in France; for less
than four years later--on the 22nd of January, 1397--the provost of
Paris considered it necessary to publish an edict, forbidding working
people to play at tennis, bowls, dice, _cards_, or ninepins, on working
days. By one of the acts of the synod of Langres, in 1404, the clergy
were expressly forbidden to play at cards. These had now made their
way into Germany, and had become so popular there, that early in the
fifteenth century card-making had become a regular trade.

[Illustration: _No. 157. Cards in the Fifteenth Century._]

In England, in the third year of the reign of Edward IV. (1463), the
importation of playing-cards, probably from Germany, was forbidden,
among other things, by act of parliament; and as that act is understood
to have been called for by the English manufacturers, who suffered
by the foreign trade, it can hardly be doubted that cards were then
manufactured in England on a rather extensive scale. Cards had then,
indeed, evidently become very popular in England; and only twenty
years afterwards they are spoken of as the common Christmas game, for
Margery Paston wrote as follows to her husband, John Paston, on the
24th of December in 1483:--“Please it you to weet (know) that I sent
your eldest son John to my lady Morley, to have knowledge of what
sports were used in her house in the Christmas next following after
the decease of my lord her husband; and she said that there were none
disguisings, nor harpings, nor luting, nor singing, nor none loud
disports, but playing at the tables, and the chess, and _cards_--such
disports she gave her folks leave to play, and none other.... I sent
your younger son to the lady Stapleton, and she said according to my
lady Morley’s saying in that, and as she had seen used in places of
worship (_gentlemen’s houses_) there as she had been.”

From this time the mention of cards becomes frequent. They formed the
common amusement in the courts of England and Scotland under the reigns
of Henry VII. and James IV.; and it is recorded that when the latter
monarch paid his first visit to his affianced bride, the young princess
Margaret of England, “he founde the quene playing at the cardes.”

It must not be forgotten that it is partly to the use of playing cards
that we owe the invention which has been justly regarded as one of the
greatest benefits granted to mankind. The first cards, as we have seen,
were painted with the hand. They were subsequently made more rapidly
by a process called stencilling--that is, by cutting the rude forms
through a piece of pasteboard, parchment, or thin metal, which, placed
on the cardboard intended to receive the impression, was brushed
over with ink or colour, which passed through the cut out lines, and
imparted the figure to the material beneath. A further improvement was
made by cutting the figures on blocks of wood, and literally printing
them on the cards. These card-blocks are supposed to have given the
first idea of wood-engraving. When people saw the effects of cutting
the figures of the cards upon blocks, they began to cut figures of
saints on blocks in the same manner, and then applied the method to
other subjects, cutting in like manner the few words of necessary
explanation. This practice further expanded itself into what are called
block-books, consisting of pictorial subjects, with copious explanatory
text. Some one at length hit upon the idea of cutting the pages of
a regular book on so many blocks of wood, and taking impressions on
paper or vellum, instead of writing the manuscript; and this plan was
soon further improved by cutting letters or words on separate pieces
of wood, and setting them up together to form pages. The wood was
subsequently superseded by metal. And thus originated the noble art of



When the dinner was over, and hands washed, a drink was served round,
and then the ladies left the table, and went to their chambers or to
the garden or fields, to seek their own amusements, which consisted
frequently of dancing, in which they were often joined by the younger
of the male portion of the household, while the others remained
drinking. They seem often to have gone to drink in another apartment,
or secondary hall, perhaps in the parlour. In the romance of “La
Violette” (p. 159), we read of the father of a family going to sleep
after dinner. In the same romance (p. 152), the young ladies and
gentlemen of a noble household are described as spreading themselves
over the castle, to amuse themselves, attended by minstrels with music.
From other romances we find that this amusement consisted often in
dancing, and that the ladies sometimes sang for themselves, instead of
having minstrels. We find these amusements alluded to in the fabliaux
and romances of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. In one of the
fabliaux, a knight having been received hospitably at a feudal castle,
after dinner they wash, and drink round, and then they go to dance--

                      _Ses mains_
    _Lava, et puis l’autre gent toute,_
    _Et puis se burent tout à route,_
    _Et por l’amor dou chevalier_
    _Se vont trestuit apparillier_
    _De faire karoles et dances._

In the early English romance of “Sir Degrevant,” after dinner the
ladies go to their chambers to arrange themselves, and then some
proceed to amuse themselves in the garden--

    _When the lordys were drawin_ (withdrawn),
    _Ladyes rysen, was not to leyn,_
    _And wentten to chaumbur ageyne,_
          _Anon thei hom dythus_ (dight);
    _Dame Mildore and hyr may_ (maid)
    _Went to the orcherd to play_.

In the romance of “Lanfal,” we have the same circumstance of dancing
after dinner:--

    _And after mete Syr Gaweyn,_
    _Sir Gyeryes and Agrafayn,_
        _And Syr Launfal also,_
    _Went to daunce upon the grene,_
    _Unther the tour ther lay the quene,_
        _Wyth syxty ladyes and mo._
           *       *       *       *       *
    _They hadde menstrayles_ (minstrels) _of moch honours,_
    _Fydelers, sytolyrs, and trompours,_
        _And elles hyt were unryght;_
    _Ther they playde, for sothe to say,_
    _After mete the somerys day,_
        _Alle what_ (till) _hyt was neygh nyght_.

It was only on extraordinary occasions, however, that the dancing or
walking in the garden continued all day. In the romance of “Blonde of
Oxford,” the dinner-party quit the table, to wander in the fields and
forests round the castle, and the young hero of the story, on their
return thence, goes to play in the chambers with the ladies:--

    _Après manger lavent leurs mains,_
    _Puis s’en vont juer, qui ains ains,_
    _Ou en forès ou en rivieres,_
    _Ou en deduis d’autres manieres._
    _Jehans au quel que il veut va,_
    _Et quant il revent souvant va_
    _Jouer és chambres la contesse_
    _O les dames._

There were two classes of dances in the middle ages, the domestic
dances, and the dances of the jougleurs or minstrels. After the first
crusades, the western jougleurs had adopted many of the practices of
their brethren in the east, and, among others, it is evident from
many allusions in old writers that they had brought westward that of
the “almehs,” or eastern dancing-girls. These dances formed, like the
vulgar fabliaux, a part of the jougleur’s budget of representations,
and were mostly, like those, gross and indecent. The other class
of dances were of a simpler character,--the domestic dances, which
consisted chiefly of the _carole_, in which ladies and gentlemen,
alternately, held by each other’s hands and danced in a circle. This
mode of dance prevailed so generally, that the word _carole_ became
used as a general term for a dance, and _caroler_, to carole, was
equivalent with _to dance_. The accompanying cut (No. 158), taken from
a manuscript of the Roman de Tristan, of the fourteenth century, in the
National Library at Paris (No. 6956), represents a party dancing the
carole to the music of pipe and tabor. A dance of another description
is represented in our next cut (No. 159), taken from a manuscript
in the British Museum (MS. Reg. 2 B. vii. fol. 174), also of the
fourteenth century. Here the minstrels themselves appear to be joining
in the saltitation which they inspire. It is a good illustration of the
scene described from the romance of “La Violette.” On festive occasions
this dancing often continued till supper-time.

[Illustration: _No. 158. Dancing the Carole._]

[Illustration: _No. 159. A Mediæval Dance._]

[Illustration: _No. 160. The Game of Hoodman-blind._]

[Illustration: _No. 161. A Game at Hot-cockles._]

Other quieter games were pursued in the chambers. Among these the most
dignified was chess, after which came tables, draughts, and, in the
fourteenth century, cards. Sometimes, as described in the preceding
chapter, they played at sedentary games, such as chess and tables; or
at diversions of a still more frolicsome character. These latter seem
to have been most in vogue in the evening after supper. The author of
the “Ménagier de Paris,” written about the year 1393 (tom. i. p. 71),
describes the ladies as playing, in an evening, at games named _bric_,
and _qui fery?_ (who struck?), and _pince merille_, and _tiers_, and
others. The first of these games is mentioned about a century and a
half earlier by the _trouvère_ Rutebeuf, and by other mediæval writers;
but all we seem to know of it is, that the players were seated,
apparently on the ground, and that one of them was furnished with a
rod or stick. We know less still of _pince merille_. _Qui fery?_ is
evidently the game which was, at a later period, called hot-cockles;
and _tiers_ is understood to be the game now called blindman’s buff.
These, and other games, are not unfrequently represented in the
fanciful drawings in the margins of mediæval illuminated manuscripts;
but as no names or descriptions are given with these drawings, it is
often very difficult to identify them. Our cut (No. 160), which is
given by Strutt, from a manuscript in the Bodleian Library at Oxford,
is one of several subjects representing the game of blindman’s buff,
or, as it was formerly called in England, _hoodman-blind_, because the
person blinded had his eyes covered with a hood. It is here played
by females, but, in other illuminations, or drawings, the players are
boys or men--the latter plainly indicated by their beards. The word
hoodman-blind is not found at an earlier period than the Elizabethan
age, yet this name, from its allusion to the costume, was evidently
older. A personage in Shakespeare (Hamlet, Act iii. Scene 4) asks--

                _What devil was’t_
    _That thus hath cozen’d you at_ hoodman-blind?

Hot-cockles seems formerly to have been a very favourite game. One of
the players was blindfolded, and knelt down, with his face on the knee
of another, and his hand held out flat behind him; the other players in
turn struck him on the hand, and he was obliged to guess at the name
of the striker, who, if he guessed right, was compelled to take his
place. A part of the joke appears to have consisted in the hardness of
the blows. Our cut (No. 161), from the Bodleian manuscript (which was
written in 1344), is evidently intended to represent a party of females
playing at hot-cockles, though the damsel who plays the principal part
is not blindfolded, and she is touched on the back, and not on the
hand. Our next cut (No. 162), which represents a party of shepherds
and shepherdesses engaged in the same game, is taken from a piece of
Flemish tapestry, of the fifteenth century, which is at present to be
seen in the South Kensington Museum. Allusions to this game are found
in the writers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Among the
“commendatory verses” to the second edition of “Gondibert” (by William
Davenant), printed in 1653, is the following rather curious piece of
wit, which explains itself, and is, at the same time, an extremely good
description of this game:--


    _Thus poets, passing time away._
    _Like children at_ hot-cockles _play;
    _All strike by turn, and Will is strook_
    _(And he lies down that writes a book)_.
    _Have at thee, Will, for now I come,_
    _Spread thy hand faire upon thy bomb;_
    _For thy much insolence, bold bard,_
    _And little sense I strike thus hard._
    _“Whose hand was that?” “’Twas Jaspar Mayne.”_
    _“Nay, there you’re out; lie down again.”_
    _With Gondibert, prepare, and all_
    _See where the doctor comes to maul_
    _The author’s hand, ’twill make him reel;_
    _No, Will lies still, and does not feel._
    _That book’s so light, ’tis all one whether_
    _You strike with that or with a feather._
    _But room for one, new come to town,_
    _That strikes so hard, he’ll knock him down;_
    _The hand he knows, since it the place_
    _Has toucht more tender than his face;_
    _Important sheriff, now thou lyst down,_
    _We’ll kiss thy hands, and clap our own._

The game of hot-cockles has only become obsolete in recent times, if it
be even now quite out of use. Most readers will remember the passage in
Gay’s “Pastorals:”--

    _As at_ hot-cockles _once I laid me down,_
    _And felt the weighty hand of many a clown,_
    _Buxoma gave a gentle tap, and I_
    _Quick rose, and read soft mischief in her eye_.

This passage is aptly illustrated by the cut from the tapestry. The
same Bodleian manuscript gives us a playful group, reproduced in our
cut No. 163, which Strutt believes to be the game called, in more
modern times, “frog-in-the-middle.” One of the party, who played frog,
sat on the ground, while his comrades surrounded and buffeted him,
until he could catch and hold one of them, who then had to take his
place. In our cut, the players are females.

[Illustration: _No. 162. Shepherds and Shepherdesses._]

[Illustration: _No. 163. The Game of Frog-in-the-Middle._]

Games of questions and commands, and of forfeits, were also common
in mediæval society. Among the poems of Baudouin and Jean de Condé
(poets of the thirteenth century), we have a description of a game
of this kind. “One time,” we are told, “there was play among ladies
and damsels; there were among them both clever and handsome; they
took up many games, until, at last, they elected a queen to play at
_roy-qui-ne-ment_ (the king who does not lie); she, whom they chose,
was clever at commands and at questions:”--

    _Une foi ierent en dosnoi_
    _Entre dames et damoiselles;_
    _De cointes i ot et de belles._
    _De plusieurs deduits s’entremistrent,_
    _Et tant c’une royne fistrent_
    _Pour jouer au_ roy-qui-ne-ment.
    _Ele s’en savoit finement_
    _Entremettre de commander_
    _Et de demandes demander._
         --Barbazan Fabliaux, tom. i. p. 100.

The aim of the questions was, of course, to provoke answers which
would excite mirth; and the sequel of the story shows the great
want of delicacy which prevailed in mediæval society. Another sort
of amusement was furnished, by what may be called games of chance;
in which the players, in turn, drew a character at hazard. These
characters were generally written in verse, in burlesque and often
very coarse language, and several sets of them have been preserved
in old manuscripts. They consist of a series of alternate good and
bad characters, sometimes only designed for females, but at others
for women and men: two of these sets (printed in my “Anecdota
Literaria”) were written in England; one, of the thirteenth century,
in Anglo-Norman, the other, of the fifteenth century, in English.
From these we learn that the game, in England, was called Rageman, or
Ragman, and that the verses, describing the characters, were written
on a roll called Ragman’s Roll, and had strings attached to them, by
which each person drew his or her chance. The English set has a short
preface, in which the author addresses himself to the ladies, for whose
special use it was compiled:--

    _My ladyes and my maistresses echone,_
    _Lyke hit unto your humbylle wommanhede_
    _Resave in gré_ (good part) _of my sympille persone_
    _This rolle, which withouten any drede_
    _Kynge Ragman me bad mesoure in brede,_
    _And cristyned yt the meroure of your chaunce;_
    _Draweth a strynge, and that shal streight yow leyde_
    _Unto the verry path of your governaunce--_

_i. e._ it will tell you exactly how you behave yourself, what is your
character. This game is alluded to by the poet Gower in the “Confessio

    _Venus, whiche stant withoute lawe,_
    _In non certeyne, but as men drawe_
    _Of_ Ragemon _upon the chaunce,_
    _Sche leyeth no peys_ (weight) _in the balaunce_.

The ragman’s roll, when rolled up for use, would present a confused
mass of strings hanging from it, probably with bits of wax at the
end, from which the drawer had to select one. This game possesses a
peculiar historical interest. When the Scottish nobles and chieftains
acknowledged their dependence on the English crown in the reign of
Edward I., the deed by which they made this acknowledgment, having all
their seals hung to it, presented, when rolled up, much the appearance
of the roll used in this game; and hence, no doubt, they gave it in
derision the name of the _Ragman’s Roll_. Afterwards it became the
custom to call any roll with many signatures, or any long catalogue,
the various headings of which were perhaps marked by strings, by the
same name. This game of chance or fortune was continued, under other
names, to a late period. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries
the burlesque characters were often inscribed on the back of roundels,
which were no doubt dealt round to the company like cards, with the
inscribed side downwards.

[Illustration: _No. 164. Ball-Playing._]

Sometimes the ladies and young men indulged within doors in more
active games--among which we may mention especially different games
with the ball, and also, perhaps, the whipping-top. We learn from
many sources that hand-ball was from a very early period a favourite
recreation with the youth of both sexes. It is a subject not
unfrequently met with in the marginal drawings of mediæval manuscripts.
The annexed example (cut No. 164), from MS. Harl. No. 6563, represents
apparently two ladies playing with a ball. In other instances, a lady
and a gentleman are similarly occupied. Our cut No. 165 is taken from
one of the carvings of the _miserere_ seats in Gloucester cathedral.
The long tails of the hoods belong to the costume of the latter part
of the fourteenth century. The whipping-top was also a plaything of
considerable antiquity; I think it may be traced to the Anglo-Saxon
period. Our cut No. 166 is taken from one of the marginal drawings of
a well-known manuscript in the British Museum (MS. Reg. 2 B. vii.) of
the beginning of the fourteenth century. It may be remarked that the
knots on the lashes merely mark a conventional manner of representing a
whip, for every boy knows that a knotted whip would not do for a top.
Mediæval art was full of such conventionalities.

[Illustration: _No. 165. A Game at Ball._]

[Illustration: _No. 166. Whipping-Top._]

[Illustration: _No. 167. The Game of Kayles._]

Most of these recreations of young people in the middle ages were
gradually left to a still younger age, and became children’s games, and
of these the margins of the illuminated manuscripts furnish abundant
examples. One of these (taken from the margin of the Royal MS., 10 E.
iv., of the fourteenth century) will be sufficient for the present
occasion. A favourite game, during at least the later periods of
the middle ages, was that which is now called nine-pins. The French
gave it the name _quilles_, which in our language was corrupted into
_keyles_ and _kayles_. The lad in our cut (No. 167) is not, as at
present, bowling at the pins, but throwing with a stick, a form of the
game which was called in French the _jeu de quilles à baston_, and
in English _club-kayles_. Money was apparently played for, and the
game was looked upon as belonging to the same class as hazard. In a
series of metrical counsels to apprentices, compiled in the fifteenth
century, and printed in the “Reliquiæ Antiquæ,” ii. 223, they are
recommended to--

    _Exchewe allewey eville company_,
    _Caylys, _carding, and haserdy_.

When no gaiety was going on, the ladies of the household were employed
in occupations of a more useful description, among which the principal
were spinning, weaving, knitting, embroidering, and sewing. Almost
everything of this kind was done at home at the period of which we are
now speaking, and equally in the feudal castle or manor, and in the
house of the substantial burgher, the female part of the family spent
a great part of their time in different kinds of work in the chambers
of the lady of the household. Such work is alluded to in mediæval
writers, from time to time, and we find it represented in illuminated
manuscripts, but not so frequently as some of the other domestic
scenes. In the romance of the “Death of Garin le Loherain,” when count
Fromont visited the chamber of fair Beatrice, he found her occupied in
sewing a very beautiful _chainsil_, or petticoat:--

    _Vint en la chambre à la bele Beatriz;_
    _Ele cosoit un molt riche chainsil._
                   --Mort de Garin, p. 10.

In the romance of “La Violette,” the daughter of the burgher, in whose
house the count Girard is lodged, is described as being “one day seated
in her father’s chambers working a stole and amice in silk and gold,
very skilfully, and she made in it, with care, many a little cross and
many a star, singing all the while a _chanson-à-toile_,” meaning, it is
supposed, a song of a grave measure, composed for the purpose of being
sung by ladies when weaving:--

    _I. jor sist es chambres son pere,_
    _Une estole et i. amit pere_
    _De soie et d’or molt soutilment,_
    _Si i fait ententevement_
    _Mainte croisete et mainte estoile,_
    _Et dist ceste chanchon à toile._
        --Roman de la Violette, p. 113.

In one of Rutebeuf’s fabliaux, a woman makes excuse for being up late
at night that she was anxious to finish a piece of linen cloth she was

    _Sire, fet-elle, il me faut traimer_
    _A une toile que je fais._

And in another fabliau, that of “Guillaume au Faucon,” a young
“bacheler” entering suddenly the chamber of the ladies, finds them all
occupied in embroidering a piece of silk with the ensigns of the lord
of the castle. Embroidery, indeed, was a favourite occupation: a lady
thus employed is represented in our cut No. 168, taken from a richly
illuminated manuscript of the fourteenth century, in the British Museum
(MS. Reg. 2 B. vii.) The ladies, too, not only made up the cloths
into dresses and articles of other kinds, but they were extensively
employed in the various processes of making the cloth itself. Our cut
No. 169, taken from a manuscript of about the same period (MS. Reg.
10 E. iv.), represents the process of carding the wool; and the same
manuscript furnishes us with another cut (No. 170), in which a lady
appears in the employment of spinning it into yarn. Our next cut (No.
171), taken from an illumination in an early French translation of the
Metamorphoses of Ovid (in the National Library, MS. 6986), represents
three ladies (intended for the three Fates) employed in these domestic
occupations, and will give us a notion of the implements they used.

[Illustration: _No. 168. Embroidery._]

[Illustration: _No. 169. A Lady Carding._]

[Illustration: _No. 170. A Lady Spinning._]

[Illustration: _No. 171. The Three Fates._]

[Illustration: _No. 172. Birds Encaged._]

Domestic animals, particularly dogs and birds, were favourite
companions of the ladies in their chambers. A favourite falcon had
frequently its “perche” in a corner of the chamber; and in the
illuminations we sometimes see the lady seated with the bird on her
wrist. Birds in cages are also not unfrequently alluded to through the
thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. In the romance of “La Violette”
a tame lark plays rather an important part in the story. Our cut No.
172, where we see two birds in a cage together, and which is curious
for the form of the cage, is given by Willemin from a manuscript of the
fourteenth century at Paris. The hawk, though usually kept only for
hunting, sometimes became a pet, and persons carried their hawks on
the fist even in social parties within doors. The jay is spoken of as
a cage-bird. The parrot, under the name of _papejay_, _popinjay_, or
_papingay_, is also often spoken of during the middle ages, although,
in all probability, it was very rare. The favourite talking-bird was
the pie, or magpie, which often plays a very remarkable part in
mediæval stories. The aptness of this bird for imitation led to an
exaggerated estimate of its powers, and it is frequently made to give
information to the husband of the weaknesses of his wife. Several
mediæval stories turn upon this supposed quality. The good chevalier de
la Tour-Landry, in his book of counsels to his daughters, composed in
the second half of the fourteenth century, tells a story of a magpie as
a warning of the danger of indulging in gluttony. “I will tell you,” he
says, “a story in regard to women who eat dainty morsels in the absence
of their lords. There was a lady who had a pie in a cage, which talked
of everything which it saw done. Now it happened that the lord of the
household preserved a large eel in a pond, and kept it very carefully,
in order to give it to some of his lords or of his friends, in case
they should visit him. So it happened that the lady said to her female
attendant that it would be good to eat the great eel, and accordingly
they eat it, and agreed that they would tell their lord that the otter
had eaten it. And when the lord returned, the pie began to say to him,
‘My lord, my lady has eaten the eel.’ Then the lord went to his pond,
and missed his eel; and he went into the house, and asked his wife what
had become of it. She thought to excuse herself easily, but he said
that he knew all about it, and that the pie had told him. The result
was that there was great quarrelling and trouble in the house; but
when the lord was gone away, the lady and her female attendant went to
the pie, and plucked all the feathers from his head, saying, ‘You told
about the eel.’ And so the poor pie was quite bald. But from that time
forward, when it saw any people who were bald or had large foreheads,
the pie said to them, ‘Ah! you told about the eel!’ And this is a good
example how no woman ought to eat any choice morsel by gluttony without
the knowledge of her lord, unless it be to give it to people of honour;
for this lady was afterwards mocked and jeered for eating the eel,
through the pie which complained of it.” The reader will recognise in
this the origin of a much more modern story.

One of the stories in the celebrated mediæval collection, entitled “The
Seven Sages,” also turns upon the talkative qualities of this bird.
There was a burgher who had a pie which, on being questioned, related
whatever it had seen, for it spoke uncommonly well the language of
the people. Now the burgher’s wife was a good-for-nothing woman, and
as soon as her husband went from home about business, she sent for
her friend out of the town; but the pie, which was a great favourite
of the burgher, told him all the goings on when he returned, and the
husband knew that it always spoke the truth. So he became acquainted
with his wife’s conduct. One day the burgher went from home, and told
his wife he should not return that night, and she immediately sent
for her friend; but he was afraid to enter, for “the pie was hung up
in his cage on a high perch in the middle of the porch of the house.”
Encouraged, however, by the lady, the friend ventured in, and passed
through the hall to the chamber. The pie, which saw him pass, and knew
him well on account of some tricks he had played upon it, called out,
“Ah, sir! you who are in the chamber there, why don’t you pay your
visits when the master is at home?” It said no more all the day, but
the lady set her wits to work for a stratagem to avert the danger. So
when night came, she called her chamber-maiden, and gave her a great
jug full of water, and a lighted candle, and a wooden mallet, and about
midnight the maiden mounted on the top of the house, and began to beat
with the mallet on the laths, and from time to time showed the light
through the crevices, and threw the water right down upon the pie till
the bird was wet all over. Next morning the husband came home, and
began to question his pie. “Sir,” it said, “my lady’s friend has been
here, and stayed all night, and is only just gone away. I saw him go.”
Then the husband was very angry, and was going to quarrel with his
wife, but the pie went on--“Sir, it has thundered and lightened all
night, and the rain was so heavy that I have been wet through.” “Nay,”
said the husband, “it has been fine all night, without rain or storm.”
“You see,” said the crafty dame, “you see how much your bird is to be
believed. Why should you put more faith in him when he tells tales
about me, than when he talks so knowingly about the weather?” Then the
burgher thought he had been deceived, and turning his wrath upon the
pie, drew it from the cage and twisted its neck; but he had no sooner
done so than, looking up, he saw how the laths had been deranged. So he
got a ladder, mounted on the roof, and discovered the whole mystery.
If, says the story, he had not been so hasty, the life of his bird
would have been saved. In the English version of this series of tales,
printed by Weber, the pie’s cage is made to hang in the hall:--

    _The burgeis hadde a pie in his halle,_
    _That couthe telle tales alle_
    _Apertlich_ (openly), _in French langage,_
    _And heng in a faire cage_.

In the other English version, edited by the author of this work for
the Percy Society, the bird is said to have been, not a pie, but a
“popynjay,” or parrot, and there are other variations in it which show
that it had been taken more directly from the Oriental original, in
which, as might be expected, the bird is a parrot.

[Illustration: _No. 173. Lady and Dog._]

Among the animals mentioned as pets we sometimes find monkeys. One of
the Latin stories in the collection printed by the Percy Society, tells
how a rustic, entering the hall of a certain nobleman, seeing a monkey
dressed in the same suit as the nobleman’s family, and supposing, as
its back was turned, that it was one of his sons, began to address it
with all suitable reverence; but when he saw that it was only a monkey
chattering at him, he exclaimed, “A curse upon you! I thought you had
been Jenkin, my lord’s son.”[26] The favourite quadruped, however, has
always been the dog, of which several kinds are mentioned as lady’s
pets. Chaucer tells us of his prioress,--

    _Of smale houndes hadde sche, that sche fedde_
    _With rostud fleissh and mylk and wastel breed._
                             --Cant. Tales, l. 147.

Our cut No. 173, from a manuscript of the St. Graal, in the British
Museum (MS. Addit. No. 10,293, fol. 31), written in the thirteenth
century, represents a queen seated in conversation, with her dog
in her lap. The next cut (No. 174), from an illumination in the
interesting manuscript of the Roman de Meliadus in the British Museum
(MS. Addit. 12,228, fol. 310), belonging to the latter half of the
fourteenth century (the reign of our Edward III.), represents the
interior of a chamber, with two little dogs gamboling about. In the
singular work on domestic economy, entitled the “Ménagier de Paris,”
written about the year 1393, the lady of the household is particularly
recommended to think of the “chamber beasts,” such as little dogs,
the “chamber birds,” &c., inasmuch as these creatures, not having the
gift of speech, could not ask for themselves.[27] I have printed in
the “Reliquiæ Antiquæ” a curious Anglo-Norman poem, of the beginning
of the fourteenth century, written as a satire on the ladies of the
time, who were too fond of their dogs, and fed them delicately, while
the servants were left to short commons (Reliq. Antiq. vol. i. p.
155). Cats are seldom mentioned as pets, except of ill-famed old
women. There was a prejudice against them in the middle ages, and they
were joined in people’s imagination with witchcraft, and with other
diabolical agencies. The accompanying group of an old lady and her cats
(cut No. 175) is taken from a carving on one of the _misereres_ in the
church of Minster, in the Isle of Thanet. Curiously enough, the English
“Rule of Nuns,” of the earlier half of the thirteenth century, forbids
the nuns to keep any “beast” but a cat.

[Illustration: _No. 174. Interior of a Chamber._]

[Illustration: _No. 175. The Lady and herCats._]

The chamber was, as might be expected, more comfortably furnished than
the hall. The walls were covered with curtains, or tapestry, whence
this apartment is frequently termed in the fabliaux and romances the
_chambre encortinée_. The story of a fabliau printed in my “Anecdota
Literaria” turns upon the facility with which a person might be
concealed behind the “curtains” of the chamber. Besides a bench or
stool to sit upon, there was usually a chair in the chamber. In the
fabliau of the Bouchier d’Abbeville, the priest’s lady, when she rises
out of bed to dress, is represented as placing herself in a chair--

    _En le caiere s’est assisse._

In the early English romance of “Horn,” the lady, receiving a gentleman
into her chamber, gives him a rich chair which would hold seven people,
and which is covered, in true regal style, with a baldekin:--

    _The miri maiden, also sone_
    _As Hatherof into chamber come,_
        _Sche wend_ (thought) _that it were Horn;_
    _A riche cheir was undon,_
    _That seiven might sit theron,_
        _In swiche craft y-corn_ (chosen).
           *       *       *       *       *
    _A baudekin theron was spred,_
    _Thider the maiden hadde him led_
        _To siten hir beforn,_
    _Frout_ (fruit) _and spices sche him bede,_
    _Wine to drink, wite and rede,_
        _Bothe of coppe and horn_.

The chamber was especially distinguished by its fireplace and chimney.
The form of the mediæval fireplace is well-known from the numerous
examples still remaining in the chambers of our old castles and
mansion houses. The fire was made on the hearth, upon iron dogs,
which had often very ornamental forms. The old romances frequently
represent people sitting round the chamber fireplace to hold private
conversation. It was here also that the heads of the family, or
individual members of it in their own chambers, assembled in the
evening when no ceremonious feasting was going on. In a story in the
text of the “Seven Sages,” printed by Weber, a young married woman
is represented sitting in the evening with her lord by the chamber
fireside, attended by their squire, and playing with a dog--

    _The yonge levedi and hire lord_
    _Sete an even by the fer_ (fire);
    _Biforen hem stod here squier_.
           *       *       *       *       *
    _The bichche lai in hire barm (bosom).
                         --Weber, iii. 71.

In “Gautier d’Aupais,” when the young damsel sends for her mother, her
messenger finds the old lady sitting on a richly-worked counterpoint by
a coal fire (probably of charcoal)--

    _Sor une coutepointe ouvré d’auqueton_
    _Trova seant la dame lez i. feu de charbon._
                     --Gautier d’Aupais, p. 25.

In the romance of “Sir Degrevant,” when the lady Myldore has sent for
her lover to come privately to her chamber at night, she orders her
maiden to prepare a fire, and place fagots of fir-wood to keep it

    _Damesele, loke ther be_
    _A fuyre in the chymené;_
    _Fagattus of fyre-tre,_
        _That fetchyd was yare_ (formerly).
               --Thornton Romances, p. 234.

A board is placed on trestles to form a table, and a dainty supper is
served, which the lady carves for her lover, and she further treats
him with rich wines. In the romance of “Queen Berthe” (p. 102), three
persons, holding a secret consultation in the chamber of one of their
party, sit on carpets (_sur les tapis_); but these were no doubt
embroidered cloths thrown over the seats. Floor-carpets were sometimes
used in the chambers, but this was uncommon, and they seem to have
been more usually, like the hall, strewed with rushes. It appears that
sometimes, as a refinement in gaiety, flowers were mixed with the
rushes. In a fabliau in Meon (i. 75), a lady who expects her lover,
lights a fire in the chamber, and spreads rushes and flowers on the

    _Vient à l’ostel, lo feu esclaire,_
    _Jons et flors espandre par l’aire._

There was an _escrin_, or cabinet, which stood against the wall, which
was often so large that a man might conceal himself behind it. The
plot of several mediæval stories turns upon this circumstance. Chests
and coffers were also kept in the chamber; and it contained generally
a small table, or at least the board and trestles for making one,
which the lord or lady of the house used when they would dine or sup
in private. The practice of thus dining or supping privately in the
chamber is not unfrequently alluded to in the old stories and romances.

Supper, however, being the second meal in the day at which the whole
household met together, was generally a more public one, and was
held, like the dinner, in the hall, and with much the same forms and
services. It was preceded and closed by the same washing of hands, and
the table was almost as plentifully covered with viands. After having
washed, the company drank round, and it seems to have been the usual
custom, on leaving the supper-table, to go immediately to bed, for
people in general kept early hours. Thus, in one of the pious stories
printed by Meon, in describing a royal supper-party, we are told that,
“when they had eaten and washed, they drunk, and then went to bed”--

    _Qant orent mengié, si laverent,_
    _Puis burent, et couchier alerent._

And in another story in the same collection, the lady receives a
stranger to supper in a very hospitable manner--“when they had eaten
leisurely, then it was time to go to bed”--

    _Qant orent mengié par loisir,_
    _Si su heure d’aler gesir._

Sometimes, however, there were dancing and other amusements between
supper and bed-time. Thus, in the romance of “Sir Degrevant,”--

    _Bleve_ (quickly) _to soper they dyght,_
    _Both squiere and knyght;_
    _They daunsed and revelide that nyght,_
          _In hert were they blythe_.

In a fabliau published by Barbazan, on the arrival in a nobleman’s
castle of a knight who is treated with especial courtesy, the knights
and ladies dance after supper, and then, at bed-time, they conduct the
visitor into his bed-chamber, and drink with him there before they
leave him:--

    _Après mengier, chascuns comence_
    _De faire caroles et dance,_
    Tant qu’il fu houre de couchier;_
    _Puis anmainment le chevalier_
    _En sa chambre où fait fu son lit,_
    _Et là burent par grant delit;_
    _Puis prinrent congié._

Fruit was usually eaten after supper. In a fabliau of the thirteenth
century, a noble visitor having been received in the house of a knight,
they go immediately to supper. “After they had done eating, they
enjoyed themselves in conversation, and then they had fruit,” and it
was only after this that they washed--

    _Après mengier se sont deduit_
    _De paroles, puis si ont fruit._

In the lay of the “Chevalier à l’Espée,” Sir Gauwain takes, instead of
supper, fruit and wine before he goes to bed.

The custom of keeping early hours still prevailed, and is very
frequently alluded to. People are generally described as rising with
the sun. Such was the case with the king, in the romance of “Parise la

    _Landemain par matin, quand solaus fu levez,_
    _Se leva li rois Hugues._
                 --Parise, ed. P. Paris, p. 219.

It was the custom, after rising, to attend service either in the
church or in the private chapel. In the history of Fulke Fitz-Warine,
Jose de Dynan, in his castle of Ludlow, rose early in the morning,
heard service in the chapel, after which he mounted to the top of the
loftiest tower, to take a view of the country around, then descended
and “caused the horn to be sounded for washing.” This was no doubt
the signal for the household to assemble for breakfast. In Chaucer’s
“Squyeres Tale,” the king’s guests, after great feasting and carousing
at night, sleep till “prime large” in the morning, that is till six
o’clock, which is spoken of in a manner which evidently intimates
that they had considerably overslept themselves. The princess Canace
had left her bed long before, and was walking with her maidens in the
park. In the “Schipmannes Tale,” too, the lady rises very early in the
morning, and takes her walk in the garden. In the curious “Book” of the
Chevalier de la Tour Landry, we are told of a very pious dame whom he
knew, whose daily life was as follows:--She rose early in the morning,
had two friars and two or three chaplains in attendance to chant matins
while she was rising; as soon as she left her chamber she went to
her chapel, and remained in devotion in her oratory while they said
matins and one mass, and then she went and dressed and arrayed herself,
after which she went to recreate herself in the garden or about the
house; she then attended divine service again, and after it went to
dinner; and during the afternoon she visited the sick, and in due time
supped, and after supper she called her _maître d’hôtel_, and made her
household arrangements for the following day.

The hour of breakfast is very uncertain, and appears not to have been
fixed. The hour of dinner was, as already stated, nine o’clock in the
morning, or sometimes ten. In the lay of the “Mantel Mautaillé,” king
Arthur is introduced on a grand festival day refusing, according to
his custom, to begin the dinner till some “adventure” occurs, and the
guests wait till near “nonne,” when the grand seneschal, Sir Keux,
takes upon himself to expostulate, and represents that dinner had been
ready a long time (_pieçà_). _Nonne_ is here probably meant for midday,
or noon. The queen was in her chamber, greatly distressed at having to
wait so long for dinner. The regular hour of supper appears to have
been five o’clock in the afternoon, but when private it seems not to
have been fixed to any particular hour. In summer, at least, people
appear usually to have gone to bed when darkness approached; and this
was the time at which guests ordinarily took their leave. Thus, at
January’s wedding-feast, in Chaucer, we are told that--

    _Night, with his mantel, that is dark and rude,_
    _Gan oversprede themesperie aboute;_
    _For which departed is the lusti route_
    _Fro January, with thank on every side,_
    _Hoom to her houses lustily thay ryde._
                             --Cant. Tales, l. 9672.

We must not forget that these remarks apply to the seasons of the year
when days were long, for the scenes of most of these romances and tales
are laid in the spring and summer months, and especially in May. We
have much less information on the domestic relations during winter.

[Illustration: _No. 176. A Supper._]

One reason for keeping early hours was that candles and lamps were too
expensive to be used in profusion by people in general. Various methods
of giving artificial light at night are mentioned, most of which seem
to have been considered more or less as luxuries. At grand festivals
the light was often given by men holding torches. In general, candles
were used at supper. The accompanying cut (No. 176), taken from the
manuscript of the St. Graal already mentioned, represents a person
supping by candlelight. In the fabliau of “La Borgoise d’Orliens,” a
lady, receiving her lover into her chamber, spreads a table for him,
and lights a great wax candle (_grosse chandoile de cire_).

Lighting in the middle ages was, indeed, effected, in a manner more
or less refined, by means of torches, lamps, and candles. The candle,
which was the most portable of them all, was employed in small and
private evening parties; and, from an early period, it was used in the
bed-chamber. For the table very handsome candlesticks were made, which
were employed by people of rank, and wax-candles (_cierges_) were used
on them. They were formed with an upright spike (_broche_), on which
the candle was stuck, not, as now, placed in a socket. Thus, in a scene
in one of the fabliaux printed by Barbazan, a good _bourgeois_ has on
his supper-table two candlesticks of silver, “very fair and handsome,”
with wax-candles--

    _Desor la table ot deus broissins,_
    _Où il avoit cierges, d’argent,_
    _Molt estoient bel et gent._
           --Barbazan, vol. iv. p. 184.

So in the romance of “La Violette,” when the count Lisiart arrives at
the castle of duke Gerart, on the approach of bedtime, two men-servants
make their appearance, each carrying a lighted _cierge_, or wax-candle,
and thus they lead him to his chamber--

    _Atant lor vinrent doi sergant,_
    _Chascuns tenoit j. cerge ardant;_
    _Le conte menerent couchier._
                 --La Violette, p. 30.

This, however, appears to have been done as a mark of honour to the
guest, for, even in ducal castles common candles appear to have been
in ordinary use. In a bedroom scene in a fabliau printed by Meon
(tom. i. p. 268), in which the younger ladies of the duke’s family
and their female attendants slept all in beds in one room, they have
but one candle (_chandoile_), and that is attached to the wood of the
bed of the duke’s daughter, so that it would appear to have had no
candlestick. One of the damsels, who was a stranger, and less familiar
than the others, was unwilling to take off her chemise until the light
was extinguished, for it must be remembered that it was the general
custom to sleep in bed quite naked, and the daughter of the duke, whose
bedfellow she was to be, blew the candle out--

    _Roseite tantost la soufla,_
    _Qu’à s’esponde estoit atachie._

Blowing out the candle was the ordinary manner of extinguishing it.
In the “Ménagier de Paris,” or instructions for the management of a
gentleman’s household, compiled in the latter half of the fourteenth
century, the lady of the house is told, after having each night
ascertained that the house is properly closed and all the fires
covered, to see all the servants to bed, and to take care that each
had a candle in a “flat-bottomed candlestick,” at some distance from
the bed, “and to teach them prudently to extinguish their candles
before they go into their bed with the mouth, or with the hand, and not
with their chemise,” _i. e._, they were to blow their candle out, or
put it out with their fingers, not to extinguish it by throwing their
shifts upon it--another allusion to the practice of sleeping naked.[28]
Extinguishers had not yet come into general use. People went to bed
with a candle placed in a candlestick of a different description from
that used at table; and we learn from a story in the “Ménagier de
Paris” that it was customary for the servant or servants who had charge
of the candles, to accompany them into their bedroom, remain with them
till they were in bed, and then carry the candles away. Candles were,
however, usually left in the chamber or bedroom all night; and there
was frequently a spike, or candlestick, attached to the chimney; as in
the fabliau just quoted there was, no doubt, a similar spike attached
to the wood-work of the bed. The stick, whether fixed or movable, was
made for convenience in placing the candle in the chamber, and not for
the purpose of carrying it about; for the latter purpose, it appears
to have been generally taken off the stick, and carried in the hand.
Our cut No. 177, taken from one of the carved stalls of the chapel
of Winchester school, represents an individual, perhaps the cellarer
or steward, who has gone into the cellar with a candle, which he
carries in this manner, and is there terrified by the appearance of
hobgoblins. In the fabliau of the “Chevalier à la Corbeille,” an old
dueña, employed to watch over her young mistress, being disturbed in
the night, is obliged to take her candle, and go into the kitchen to
light it; from whence we may suppose that it was the custom to keep the
kitchen fire in all night.

[Illustration: _No. 177. The Cellarer in a Panic._]

[Illustration: _No. 178. Man with Lantern._]

An old poem on the troubles of housekeeping, printed by M. Jubinal in
his “Nouveau Recueil de Contes,” enumerates candles and a lantern among
the necessaries of a household--

    _Or faut chandeles et lanterne._

A manuscript of the thirteenth century in the French National Library
(No. 6956) contains an illumination, which has furnished us with the
accompanying cut (No. 178), representing a man holding a lantern of the
form then in use, and lanterns are not unfrequently mentioned in old

It appears to have been a common custom, at least among the better
classes of society, to keep a lamp in the chamber to give light during
the night. In one of the fabliaux printed in Meon, a man entering the
chamber of a knight’s lady, finds it lit by a lamp which was usually
left burning in it--

    _Une lampe avoit en la chambre,_
    _Par costume ardoir i siaut._

In the English romance of “Sir Eglamour,” several lamps are described
as burning in a lady’s chamber--

    _Aftur sopur, as y yow telle,_
    _He wendyd to chaumbur with Crystyabelle,_
          _There laumpus were brennyng bryght._

We may suppose, notwithstanding these words, that a lamp gave but a
dim light; and accordingly we are told in another fabliau that there
was little light, or, as it is expressed in the original, “none,” in a
chamber where nothing but a lamp was burning,--

    _En la chambre lumiere n’ot,_
    _Hors d’un mortier qu’iluec ardoit,_
    _Point de clarté ne lor rendoit._

In the accompanying cut (No. 179), taken from an illumination in a
manuscript of the fourteenth century, in the National Library in Paris
(No. 6988), a nun, apparently, is arranging her lamp before going to
bed. The lamp here consists of a little basin of oil, in which, no
doubt, the wick floated; but the use of the stand under it is not
easily explained.

[Illustration: _No. 179. A Bedroom Chamber Scene._]

Lamps were used where a light was wanted in a room for a long time,
because they lasted longer without requiring snuffing. The lamps
of the middle ages were made usually on the plan of those of the
Romans, consisting, as in the foregoing example, of a small vessel of
earthenware or metal, which was filled with oil, and a wick placed in
it. This lamp was placed on a stand, or was sometimes suspended on a
beam, or perch, or against the wall. We have an example of this in the
preceding cut (No. 179), which explains the term _mortier_ (mortar) of
the fabliau, it was a wick swinging in oil in a basin. Our cut No.
180, taken from a manuscript of the fourteenth century in the British
Museum (MS. Harl., No. 1227), represents a row of lamps of rather
curious form, made to be suspended. In our next cut (No. 181), from a
manuscript of the same date (MS. Reg. 2 B. vii.), we have lamps of a
somewhat similar form, made to be carried in the hand.

[Illustration: _No. 180. Mediæval Lamps._]

[Illustration: _No. 181. Men carrying Lamps._]

Torches were used at greater festivals, and for occasions where it was
necessary to give light to very large halls full of company. They were
usually held in the hand by servants, but were sometimes placed against
the wall in holds made to receive them. Torches were not unfrequently
used to give light to the chamber also. In one of the stories of
the “Seven Sages,” a man, bringing a person in secret to the king’s
chamber, “blewe out the torche,” in order to cause perfect darkness
(Weber, iii. 63); and in the early English romance of “Sir Degrevant”
(Weber, iii. 213), where light is wanted in a lady’s chamber, it is
obtained by means of the torches.

There were other means of giving light, on a still greater scale,
which I shall describe in a subsequent chapter, when treating of the
fifteenth century.



It was now a matter of pride to have the bed furnished with handsome
curtains and coverings. Curtains to beds were so common, that being
“under the curtain” was used as an ordinary periphrasis for being
in bed; but these curtains appear to have been suspended to the
ceiling of the chamber, with the bedhead behind them. With regard to
the bed itself, there was now much more refinement than when it was
simply stuffed with straw. Beds among the rich were made with down
(_duvet_); in the “Roman de la Violette” we are told of a bed made of
_bofu_--perhaps of flocks. From the vocabulary composed by Alexander
Neckam early in the thirteenth century, we learn that the bed was
covered much in the same way as at present. First, a “quilte” was
spread over the bed; on this the bolster was placed; over this was laid
a “quilte poynté” or “rayé” (_courtepointe_, or counterpane); and on
this, at the head of the bed, was placed the pillow. The sheets were
then thrown over it, and the whole was covered with a coverlet, the
common material of which, according to Neckam, was green say, though
richer materials, and even valuable furs, were used for this purpose.
In the “Lai del Désiré,” we are told of a quilt (_coilte_), made in
checker-wise, of pieces of two different sorts of rich stuff, which
seems to have been considered as something extremely magnificent--

    _Sur on bon lit s’ert apuiée;_
    _La coilte fu à eschekers_
    _De deus pailles ben faiz e chers._

Among all classes the appearance of the bed seems to have been a
subject of considerable pride, no doubt from the circumstance of the
bedroom being a place for receiving visitors. There were sometimes
two or more beds in the same room, and visitors slept in the same
chamber with the host and hostess. Beds were also made for the
occasion, without bedsteads, sometimes in the hall, at others in the
chamber beside the ordinary bed, or in some other room. The plots of
many mediæval stories turn on these circumstances. People therefore
kept extra materials for making the beds. In the “Roman du Meunier
d’Arleux,” when a maiden comes as an unexpected visitor, a place is
chosen for her by the side of the fire, and a soft bed is laid down,
with very expensive sheets, and a coverlet “warm and furred”--

    _Kieute mole, linchex molt chier,_
    _Et covertoir chaut et forré._

One custom continued to prevail during the whole of this period,--that
of sleeping in bed entirely naked. So many allusions to this practice
occur in the old writers, that it is hardly necessary to say more than
state the fact. Not unfrequently this custom is still more strongly
expressed by stating that people went to bed as naked as they were
born; as in some moral lines in the “Reliquiæ Antiquæ” (ii. 15),
against the pride of the ladies, who are told that, however gay may
be their clothing during the day, they will lie in bed at night as
naked as they were born. It is true that in some instances in the
illuminations persons are seen in bed with some kind of clothing on,
but this was certainly an exception to the rule, and there is generally
some particular reason for it. Thus, in the “Roman de la Violette” (p.
31), the lady Oriant excites the surprise of her dueña by going to bed
in a _chemise_, and is obliged to explain her reason for so singular
a practice, namely, her desire to conceal a mark on her body. Our cut
No. 182, taken from the romance of the St. Graal, in the British Museum
(MS. Addit. No. 10,292, fol. 21, v^o), represents a king and queen in
bed, both naked. The crowns on their heads are a mere conventional
method of stating their rank: kings and queens were not in the habit
of sleeping in bed with their crowns on their heads. In the next cut
(No. 183), taken from a manuscript of the romance of the “Quatre Fils
d’Aymon,” of the latter part of the fourteenth century, in the National
Library in Paris (No. 6970), there is still less room left for doubt
on the subject. The people seem to be sleeping in a public hostelry,
where the beds are made in recesses, not unlike the berths in a modern
steamer; the man on horseback is supposed to be outside, and his
arrival has given alarm to a man who was in bed, and who is escaping
without any kind of clothing. In the English romance of “Sir Isumbras,”
the castle of Isumbras is burnt to the ground in the night, and his
lady and three children escaped from their beds; when he hurried to the
spot, he found them without clothing or shelter--

    _A dolefulle syghte the knyghte gane see_
    _Of his wyfe and his childir three,_
        _That fro the fyre were flede;_
    _Alle als nakede als thay were borne_
    _Stode togedir undir a thorne,_
        _Braydede owte of thaire bedd._

Curiously enough, while so little care was taken to cover the body, the
head was carefully covered at night, not with a nightcap, but with a
kerchief (_couvrechief_), which was wrapped round it.

[Illustration: _No. 182. King and Queen in Bed._]

[Illustration: _No. 183. Night Scene in a Hostelry._]

[Illustration: _No. 184. A Lady Bathing._]

The practice of warm-bathing prevailed very generally in all classes
of society, and is frequently alluded to in the mediæval romances and
stories. For this purpose a large bathing-tub was used, the ordinary
form of which is represented in the annexed cut (No. 184), taken from
the manuscript of the St. Graal, of the thirteenth century, in the
British Museum (MS. Addit. No. 10,292, fol. 266). People sometimes
bathed immediately after rising in the morning; and we find the bath
used after dinner, and before going to bed. A bath was also often
prepared for a visitor on his arrival from a journey; and, what seems
still more singular, in the numerous stories of amorous intrigues, the
two lovers usually begin their interviews by bathing together.

[Illustration: _No. 185. Lady at her Toilette._]

Our cut No. 185, from another volume of the manuscript last quoted (MS.
Addit. No. 10,293, fol. 266), represents a lady at her toilette. It is
a subject on which our information at this period is not very abundant.
The round mirror of metal which she is employing was the common form
during the middle ages, and was no doubt derived from the ancients.
The details of the ladies’ toilette are not often described, but the
contemporary moralists and satirists condemn, in rather general terms,
and evidently with more bitterness than was called for, the pains taken
by the ladies to adorn their persons. They are accused of turning their
bodies from their natural form by artificial means, alluding to the use
of stays, which appear to have been first employed by the Anglo-Norman
ladies in the twelfth century. They are further accused of plucking out
superfluous hairs from their faces and eyebrows, of dyeing their hair,
and of painting their faces. The chevalier de la Tour-Landry (chap.
76) tells his daughters that the whole intrigue between king David and
the wife of Uriah arose out of the circumstance of the lady combing
her hair at an open window where she could be seen from without, and
says that it was a punishment for the too great attention she gave to
the adornment of her head. The toilette of the day seems to have been
completed at the first rising from bed in the morning. There are some
picturesque lines in the English metrical romance of “Alisaunder,”
which describe the morning thus:--

    _In a moretyde_ (morrow-tide) _hit was;_
    _Theo dropes hongyn on the gras;_
    _Theo maydenes lokyn in the glas,_
    _For to tyffen_ (adorn) _heare fas_.
                            --Weber, i. 169.

The chamber, as it has been already intimated, was properly speaking
the women’s apartment, though it was very accessible to the other sex.
It was usually the place for private conversation, and we often hear
of persons entering the chamber for this purpose, and in this case the
bed seems to have served usually for a seat. Thus, in the romance of
“Eglamour,” when, after supper, Christabelle led the knight into her

    _That lady was not for to hyde,_
    _Sche sett hym on hur beddys syde,_
          _And welcomyd home thet knyght._

Again, in a fabliau printed by Meon, a woman of a lower grade, wishing
to make a private communication to a man, invites him into her chamber,
and they sit on the bed to converse--

    _En une chanbre andui en vont,_
    _Desor un lit asis se sont._

And in the fabliau of “Guillaume au Faucon,” printed by Barbazan,
Guillaume, visiting the lady of a knight in her chamber, finds her
seated on the bed, and he immediately takes a seat by her side to
converse with her. In the illuminated manuscripts, scenes of this kind
occur frequently; but in the fourteenth century, instead of being
seated on the bed, the persons thus conversing sit on a bench which
runs along the side of the bed, and seems to belong to the bedstead.
A scene of this kind is represented in our cut No. 186 (taken from a
manuscript of the romance of “Meliadus,” in the British Museum, MS.
Addit. No. 12,228, fol. 312), which is a good representation of a
bed of the fourteenth century. A lady has introduced a king into her
chamber, and they are conversing privately, seated on the bench of the
bed. In some of these illuminations, the persons conversing are seated
on the bed, with their feet on the bench.

[Illustration: _No. 186. Conversation in the Chamber._]

[Illustration: _No. 187. Taking Clothes from the Chest._]

The illuminators had not yet learned the art of representing things
in detail, and they still too often give us mere conventional
representations of beds, yet we see enough to convince us that the
bedsteads were already made much more elaborately than formerly.
Besides the bench at the side, we find them now with a hutch (_huche_)
or locker at the foot, in which the possessor was accustomed to lock
up his money and other valuables. This hutch at the foot of the bed is
often mentioned in the fabliaux and romances. Thus, in the fabliau “Du
chevalier à la Robe Vermeille,” a man, when he goes to bed, places his
robe on a hutch at the foot of the bed--

    _Sur une huche aus piez du lit_
    _A cil toute sa robe mise._

Another, having extorted some money from a priest, immediately puts it
in the hutch--

    _Les deniers a mis en la huche._

The hutch was indeed one of the most important articles of furniture
in the mediæval chamber. All portable objects of intrinsic value or
utility were kept in boxes, because they were thus ready for moving and
taking away in case of danger, and because in travelling people carried
much of their movables of this description about with them. Hence
the uses of the hutch or chest were very numerous and diversified.
It was usual to keep clothes of every description in a chest, and
illustrations of this practice are met with not uncommonly in the
illuminated manuscripts. One of them is given in our cut No. 187, taken
from an illumination in a manuscript of the fourteenth century, given
by Willemin. Jewels, plate, personal ornaments of all kinds, and all
descriptions of “treasure,” were similarly locked up in chests. In our
cut No. 188, taken also from a manuscript in the British Museum (MS.
Reg. 2 B. vii., of the beginning of the fourteenth century), a man
appears in the act of depositing in a chest fibulæ or brooches, rings,
buttons, and other objects, and a large vessel probably of silver. Our
cut No. 189, from a manuscript in the National Library in Paris (No.
6956), represents a miser examining the money in his hutch, which is
here detached from a bed; but in some other illuminations, a hutch of
much the same form appears attached to the bed foot. In Anglo-Saxon
the coffer was called a _loc_, whence our word _locker_ is derived; or
a _cyste_, our _chest_; or an _arc_: from the Anglo-Normans we derive
the words _hutch_ (_huche_) and _coffer_ (_coffre_). The Anglo-Saxons,
as we have shown in a former chapter (p. 79), like our forefathers of
a later period, kept their treasures in lockers or hutches. In the
“Legend of St. Juliana,” an Anglo-Saxon poem in the Exeter Book, it is
remarked in proof of the richness of a chieftain:--

    _þeah þe feoh-gestreon_    _Although he riches_
    _under hord-locan,_        _in his treasure-lockers,_
    _hyrsta únrím,_            _jewels innumerable,_
    _æhte ofer eorþan._        _possessed upon earth._
                                   --Exeter Book, p. 245.

[Illustration: _No. 188. The Treasure Chest._]

Among the Anglo-Saxons the lady of the household had the charge of
the coffers. In one of the laws of Cnut relating to robberies, it is
declared that “if any man bring a stolen thing home to his cot, and
he be detected, it is just that the owner have what he went for; and
unless it has been brought under his wife’s key-lockers (_cæg-locan_),
let her be clear; for it is her duty to keep the keys of them, namely,
her storehouse (_hord-ern_), and her chest (_cyste_), and her box
(_tege_).” (Cnut’s Laws, No. 180.)

[Illustration: _No. 189. A Miser and his Hoard._]

[Illustration: _No. 190. Joseph buying up the Corn._]

In the old metrical romances, when a town is taken and sacked, the
plunderers are described as hurrying to the chambers, to rifle the
chests and coffers, which were kept there. Thus, in the romance of
the “Mort de Garin,” when Fromont’s town is taken by the followers of
the hero of the romance, “the Lorrains,” we are told, “hastened to
destroy the town; there you might see many a chamber broken open, and
many a hutch burst and torn, where they found robes, and silver, and
glittering gold”--

    _Loheren poignent por le borc desrochier._
    _Là véissiez mainte chambre brisier,_
    _Et mainte huche effondrer et percier,_
    _Et trovent robes, et argent, et or mier._
                      --Mort de Garin, p. 168.

So in the romance of “Garin,” of which that just quoted is the sequel,
on a similar occasion, “there you might see them rob the great halls,
and break open the chambers, and force the coffers (_escrins_),”--

    _Là véissiez les grans salles rober;_
    _Chambres brisier, et les escrins forcier._
          --Garin le Loherain, tom. i. p. 197.

Further on, in the same romance, the fair Beatrix, addressing her
husband, the duke Begues, tells him that he has gold and silver in his

    _Or et argent avez en vos escrins._
               --Ib., tom. ii. p. 218.

Money was, indeed, commonly kept in the huche or coffer. In the fabliau
of “Constant Duhamel,” when Constant is threatened by the forester,
who had detained his oxen on the pretence that they had been found
trespassing, he tells him that he was ready to redeem them, as he had a
hundred sols of money in his hutch by his bed--

    _J’ai en ma huche lez mon lit,_
    _Cent sols de deniers à vostre oes._
                  --Barbazan, iii. 307.

In the accompanying cut (No. 190), from a manuscript of the fourteenth
century in the British Museum (MS. Reg. 10 E. iv.), Joseph is
represented counting out the money from his _huche_, to buy up the corn
of Egypt, during the years of plenty.

[Illustration: _No. 191. Sitting on the Huche._]

The chests were kept in the chambers, as being the most retired and
secure part of the house, and, from the terms in which the breaking
open of the chambers is spoken of in the foregoing extracts, we are
led to suppose that the chambers themselves were usually locked.
The ordinary place for the chests or hutches, or, at least, of the
principal chest, was by the side, or more usually at the foot, of
the bed. We have just seen that this was the place in which Constant
Duhamel kept his _huche_. Under these circumstances it was very
commonly used for a seat, and is often introduced as such, both in
the literature of the middle ages, and in the illuminations of the
manuscripts. In the romance of “Garin” (tom. i. p. 214), the king’s
messenger finds the count of Flanders, Fromont, in a tent, according
to one manuscript, seated on a coffer (_sor un coffre où se sist_).
So, also, in the “Roman de la Violette,” p. 25, the heroine and her
treacherous guest are represented as seated upon “a coffer banded with
copper” (_sor j. coffre bendé de coivre_). Our cut No. 191, taken
from one of the engravings in the great work of Willemin, represents
a scribe thus seated on a coffer or _huche_, and engaged apparently
in writing a letter. Our next cut (No. 192), taken from a manuscript
of the fourteenth century in the British Museum (MS. Reg. 15 E. vi.),
represents a lady and gentleman, seated on apparently a coffer, the
former of whom is presenting a ring to the other.

This latter object, the ring, acts also a very frequent and very
important part in the social history of the middle ages. A ring was
often given as a token of affection between lovers, as may perhaps
be intended by the subject of our last cut, or between relatives or
friends. In the romance of “Widukind,” tom. ii. p. 20, the queen gives
her ring to her lover in a secret interview in her tent. So, in
the romance of “Horn,” the lady Rigmel gave her lover, Horn, a ring
as a token. It was often, moreover, given not merely as a token of
remembrance, but as a means of recognition. In the well-known early
English romance of “Sir Tristram,” the mother of the hero, dying in
childbirth of him after his father had been slain, gives a ring to the
knight to whose care she entrusted the infant, as a token by which his
parentage should be known when he grew up:--

    _A ring of riche hewe_
      _Than hadde that levedi_ (lady) _fre;_
    _Sche toke_ (gave) _it Rouhand trewe,_
      _Hir sone schie bad it be;_
    _Mi brother wele it knewe,_
      _Mi fader yaf it me_.

This ring leads subsequently to the recognition of Tristram by his
uncle, king Mark. In the romance of “Ipomydon” (Weber’s “Metrical
Romances,” vol. ii. p. 355), the hero similarly receives from
his mother a ring, which was to be a token of recognition to his
illegitimate brother. So, in the romance, Horn makes himself known
in the sequel to Rigmel, by dropping the ring she had given him into
the drinking-horn which she was serving round at a feast. Rings were
often given to messengers as credentials, or were used for the same
purpose as letters of introduction. In the romance of “Floire and
Blanceflor” (p. 55), the young hero, on his way to Babylon, arrives
at a bridge, the keeper of which has a brother in the great city, to
whose hospitality he wishes to recommend Floire, and for that purpose
he gives him his ring. “Take this ring to him,” he says, “and tell him
from me to receive you in his best manner.” The message was attended
with complete success. In our cut No. 193, taken from a manuscript of
the fourteenth century in the British Museum (MS. Reg. 10 E. iv.), the
messenger arrives with the letter of which he is the bearer, and at the
same time exhibits a ring in the place of credentials.

[Illustration: _No. 192. The Token of the Ring._]

[Illustration: _No. 193. The Delivery of the Ring._]

There was another circumstance which gave value and importance to
rings in the middle ages. Not only might rings be charmed by the
power of the magician, but it was an article of general belief that
the engraved stones of the ancients, which were found commonly enough
on old sites, and even the precious stones in general, without any
engraving, possessed extraordinary virtues, the benefit of which was
imparted to those who carried them on their persons. In the romance
of “Melusine” (p. 357), the heroine, when about to leave the house of
her husband, gives him two rings, and says, “My sweet love, you see
here two rings of gold, which have both the same virtue; and know well
for truth, that so long as you possess them, or one of them, you shall
never be overcome in pleading nor in battle, if your cause be rightful:
and neither you nor others who may possess them, shall ever die by any
weapons.” In a story among the collection of the “Gesta Romanorum,”
edited by sir Frederic Madden for the Roxburghe Club (p. 150), a father
is made, on his deathbed, to give to his son a ring, “the virtue of
which was, that whosoever should bear it upon him, should have the love
of all men.” The ring given by the princess Rigmel to Horn possessed
virtues of an equally remarkable description--“Whoever bore it upon
him could not perish; he need not fear to die either in fire or water,
or in field of battle, or in the contention of the tournament.” So, in
the romance of “Floire and Blanceflor” (p. 42), the queen gives her
son a ring which would protect him against all danger, and assure to
him the eventual attainment of every object of his wishes. Nor was the
ring of sir Perceval of Galles (Thornton Romances, p. 71) at all less
remarkable in its properties, of which the rhymer says--

    _Siche a vertue es in the stane,_
    _In alle this werlde wote I nane_
          _Siche stone in a rynge;_
    _A mane that had it in were_ (war)
    _One his body for to bere,_
    _There scholde no dyntys_ (blows) _hym dere_ (injure),
          _Ne to dethe brynge_.

The consideration of the house and its parts and furniture, and of
the outward forms of domestic life, leads us naturally to that of the
constitution of the family. It was the chief pride of the aristocratic
class to live very extravagantly, and to support a great household,
with an immense number of personal attendants of different classes.
In the first place the old system of fostering, which was kept up to
a comparatively late period, added to the number of the lord’s or
knight’s family. As might was literally right in the middle ages,
each man of worth sought to strengthen himself by the alliances which
were formed by finding powerful foster-fathers for his sons, and the
personal attachment and fidelity between the chief of the family and
his foster-child was often greater even than that between the father
and his own son. In addition to the foster children, gentlemen sent
their sons to take an honourable kind of service in the families of men
of higher rank or greater wealth, where the manners and accomplishments
of gentlemen were to be learnt in greater perfection than at home;
and the younger sons of great families sought similar service with
a view to their advancement in the world. These two classes were the
young squires, who served at table, and performed a great number of
what we should now call menial offices to the lord and ladies of the
household, in all the amusements and recreations of which they took
part, and at the same time were instructed in gentlemanly manners and
exercises--it was a sort of apprenticeship introductory to knighthood.
In the same manner the knightly families sent their daughters to serve
under the ladies of the greater or lesser feudal chieftains, and they
formed that class who, in the French romances and fabliaux, are called
the _chambrières_, or chamber attendants, and in the English texts,
simply the _maidens_, of the establishment. The ladies of rank prided
themselves upon having a very great number of these _chambrières_,
or maidens, for they were not only a means of ostentation, but they
were profitable, inasmuch as besides attending on the personal wants
of their mistresses, they were constantly employed in spinning,
weaving, and the various processes of producing cloth, in millinery and
dress-making, in embroidery, and in a great number of similar labours,
which were not only required for furnishing the large number of persons
who depended upon their lord for their liveries, &c., but which were
sometimes sold to obtain money, which was always a scarce thing in the
country. The beauty of the _pucelles_, as they are often termed in the
French text, or maidens, is also spoken of as a subject of pride. In
a metrical story printed by Meon (ii. 38), a great lady receiving a
female stranger into her household, became so much attached to her,
“that she made more of her than of all her maidens, of whom,” it is
added, “there were handsome ones in her chambers”--

    _De li la dame fet grant feste,_
    _Plus que de totes ses puceles,_
    _Dont en ses chambres a de beles._

And so, in the romance of “Blonde of Oxford” (p. 30), when the countess
went with her maidens to visit John, the remark is made that among them
there were plenty of beauties:--

    _Et la contesse et ses puceles,_
    _Dont ele avoit assés de beles._

The usual age for sending a boy to foster appears to have been seven
years. That was the age at which Fulke Fitz-Warine was sent to Joce de
Dynan in Ludlow Castle. “The lady,” the narrative tells us, “became
with child; when she was delivered, at the time ordained by God,
they called the child Fulke. And when the child was seven years old,
they sent it to Joce de Dynan to teach and nourish; for Joce was a
knight of good accomplishment. Joce received him with great honour
and great affection, and educated him in his chambers with his own
children.” Fulke the younger, in the next generation, was taken as his
foster-child by the king (Henry II.), and was nourished and educated
with the young princes, of whom John, in the sequel, proved a bad
foster-brother. The great barons sought to form alliances of this
kind with the king, as well as with his great ministers and other
men of power. In the romance of “Garin le Loherain” (vol. i. p. 62),
king Pepin gives the two orphan sons of Hervis of Metz, Garin and
Begon, as foster-children to the count Hardrés, and they thus become
severally the foster-brothers, or, as they are termed in the old
French, _compains_ (companions), of his two sons, Begon being the
foster-brother of Guillaume of Montclin, and Garin of Fromont. Although
they belong to rival families, and are each other’s enemies through the
turbulent scenes which form the subject of the story, the sentiment of
the relationship by fostering often shows itself. This yearning after
something beyond mere ordinary friendship seems to have been often
felt in the middle ages, and led to various characteristic practices,
among which one of the most remarkable was that of sworn brotherhood.
Two men--they are generally knights--who felt a sufficiently strong
sentiment towards each other, engaged, under the most solemn oaths,
in a bond of fraternity for life, implying a constant and faithful
friendship to each other. This practice enters largely into the plot of
several of the mediæval romances, as in that of “Amis and Amiloun,” and
in the curious English metrical romance of “King Athelston,” printed
in the “Reliquiæ Antiquæ.” The desire for this true friendship was
not unnaturally increased by the general prevalence of treacherous
falsehood and hateful feuds. There is a beautiful passage in the
romance of “Garin,” just quoted, which illustrates this sentiment,
while it furnishes an interesting picture of domestic life. “One day,”
we are told, “Begues was in his castle of Belin, and beside him sat the
beautiful Beatris. The duke kissed her both on the mouth and on the
cheeks, and very sweetly the duchess smiled. In the middle of the hall
she saw her two sons, the eldest of whom was Garin, and the youngest
was named Hernaudin; their ages were respectively twelve years, and
ten. Along with them were six _damoisels_ (gentlemen’s sons) of worth,
and they were running and leaping together, and playing, and laughing,
and making game. The duke looked at them, and began to sigh; which was
observed by the lady, who questioned him--‘Ah! rich duke! why have you
sorrowful thoughts? You have gold and silver in your coffers, falcons
in plenty on your perches, and rich cloths, buildings, and mules, and
palfreys, and baggage-horses; and you have crushed all your enemies.
You have no neighbour within six days’ journey powerful enough to
refuse to come to your service if you send for him.’ ‘Lady,’ said the
duke, ‘what you say is true; but in one thing you have made a great
oversight. Wealth consists neither in rich cloths, nor in money, nor
in buildings, nor in horses but it is made of kinsmen and friends: the
heart of one man is worth all the gold in a country.’”--

    _Dist li dus, “Dame, verités avez dit;_
    _Mais d’une chose i avez moult mespris._
    _N’est pas richoise ne de vair ne de gris,_
    _Ne de deniers, de murs, ne de roncins,_
    _Mais est richoise de parens et d’amins;_
    _Li cuers d’un homme vaut tout l’or d’un pais.”_
                     --Garin le Loherain, ii. 218.

The incident of the younger, or even at times the elder, sons of feudal
lords or landholders going to seek service is the groundwork of the
romance of “Blonde of Oxford,” and of the story of “Courtois d’Arras,”
printed by Meon in his collection of fabliaux and stories. The latter
tale is a mediæval version of the scriptural story of the Prodigal
Son. Youths of good family easily found service in this manner, and
the service itself was not considered dishonourable, because lords and
gentlemen admitted nobody to immediate attendance on their persons but
sons of gentlemen--persons of as good blood as themselves. To be a
good servant was a gentlemanly accomplishment, and the payment these
gentlemanly servants received consisted ordinarily in their clothing
and gifts of various kinds, rarely in money. I have already hinted that
the intercourse between the male and female portions of the household
was on a footing of familiarity and freedom, and at the same time
on a tone of gallantry which could hardly produce a high degree of
morality, but the details on this subject, though very abundant, are
in great part of a description which cannot here be entered upon. This
intercourse extended to what we should now call the privacy of the
bed-chamber. It was usual, indeed, for the ladies to receive visits
from the gentlemen, _tête-à-tête_, in their chamber. In the fabliau
of “Guillaume au Faucon,” printed in Barbazan, the young “damoisel,”
as the noble youth was usually termed, having fallen in love with the
beautiful wife of the lord in whose service he was, took an opportunity
of visiting her in her chamber, when he knew that all her maidens were
employed in another part of the building. Without knocking, he opened
the door gently, and found the lady sitting alone on her bed. The lady
saluted him with “a sweet smile,” and told him to come in and sit on
the bed by her side, and there “he laughed, and talked, and plaid with
her, and the lady did the same”--

    _Rit et parole et joe à li,_
    _Et la dame tot autresi._

In the midst of these familiarities, Guillaume made his declaration of
love, and was rejected, but his pursuit was ultimately successful. In
another fabliau of the thirteenth century, that of “Gautier d’Aupais,”
it is the daughter of his lord and lady with whom the young “damoisel”
falls in love, and he takes the opportunity one morning, while the two
latter are at church, to pay a visit to the young lady in her chamber.
Although in bed on account of illness--and it has been already stated
how people went to bed without any clothing--the lady is not surprised
by Gautier’s visit, but invites him to sit on her bed, and tell her
something to amuse her, and he finds the opportunity of making his
love with more success than the hero of the other tale. In the same
manner, the ladies are continually described as visiting the gentlemen
in their chambers, both by day and by night. In “Blonde of Oxford,” a
fashionable romance composed for the entertainment of the best society,
Blonde thus leaves her bed, throwing only a mantle over her person,
to pass whole nights with Jean of Dammartin, and their interviews are
described in language which would not be allowed in any respectable
book at the present day. The chevalier de la Tour-Landry, in his moral
instructions to his daughters, tells them a story to illustrate the
ill results of a quarrelsome temper. There was a young lady, he says,
the daughter of “a very gentle knight,” who quarrelled at the game of
tables with a gentleman who had no better temper than herself, and who,
provoked by the irritating language she used towards him, told her
that she was known to be in the habit of going by night into the men’s
chambers, and kissing and embracing them in their beds without candle;
and this is told, not in reproof of conduct which was unusually bad,
but to show that people who speak ill of others run the risk of having
their own failings exposed. Examples of this intercourse of persons of
different sexes in their chambers, and of the results which frequently
followed, from the mediæval romances and stories, might be multiplied
to almost any extent.

In these stories, the ladies in general show no great degree of
delicacy, but, on the contrary, they are commonly very forward. It is
usual with them to fall in love with the other sex, and, so far from
attempting to conceal their passion, they often become suitors, and
make their advances with more warmth and less delicacy than is shown
by the gentlemen in a similar position. Not only are their manners
dissolute, but their language and conversation are loose beyond
anything that those who have not read these interesting records of
mediæval life can easily conceive, which was a common failing with both
sexes. The author of the “Ménagier de Paris” (ii. 60), in recommending
to his daughters some degree of modesty on this point, makes use of
words which his modern editor, although printing a text in obsolete
language, thought it advisable to suppress. It might be argued that the
use of such language is evidence rather of the coarseness than of the
immorality of the age, but, unfortunately, the latter interpretation is
supported by the whole tenor of contemporary literature and anecdote,
which leave no doubt that mediæval society was profoundly immoral and

On the other hand, the gallantry and refinement of feeling which the
gentleman is made to show towards the other sex, is but a conventional
politeness; for the ladies are too often treated with great brutality.
Men beating their wives, and even women with whom they quarrel who
are not their wives, is a common incident in the tales and romances.
The chevalier de la Tour-Landry tells his daughters the story of a
woman who was in the habit of contradicting her husband in public,
and replying to him ungraciously, for which, after the husband had
expostulated in vain, he one day raised his fist and knocked her down,
and kicked her in the face while she was down, and broke her nose.
“And so,” says the knightly instructor, “she was disfigured for life,
and thus, through her ill behaviour and bad temper, she had her nose
spoiled, which was a great misfortune to her. It would have been better
for her to be silent and submissive, for it is only right that words
of authority should belong to her lord, and the wife’s honour requires
that she should listen in peace and obedience.” The good “chevalier”
makes no remark on the husband’s brutality, as though it were by no
means an unusual occurrence.

A trouvère of the thirteenth century, named Robert de Blois, compiled a
code of instructions in good manners for young ladies in French verse,
under the title of the “Chastisement des Dames,” which is printed by
Barbazan, and forms a curious illustration of feudal domestic manners.
It was unbecoming in a lady, according to Robert de Blois, to talk too
much; she ought especially to refrain from boasting of the attentions
paid to her by the other sex; and she was recommended not to show
too much freedom in her games and amusements, lest the men should be
encouraged to libertinism. In going to church, she was not to “trot
or run,” but to walk seriously, not going in advance of her company,
and looking straight before her, and not to this side or the other,
but to salute “debonairely” all persons she met. She is recommended
not to let men put their hands into her breasts, or kiss her on the
mouth, as it might lead to greater familiarities. She was not to look
at a man too much, unless he were her acknowledged lover; and when
she had a lover, she was not to boast or talk too much of him. She
was not to expose her body uncovered out of vanity, as her breast, or
her legs, or her sides, nor to undress in the presence of men. She
was not to be too ready in accepting presents from the other sex.
The ladies are particularly warned against scolding and disputing,
against swearing, against eating and drinking too freely at table, and
against getting drunk, the latter being a practice from which much
mischief might arise. A lady was not to cover her face when the went
in public, as a handsome face was made to be seen, and it was not good
manners to remain with the face covered before a gentleman of rank.
An exception, however, is made in the case of ugly or deformed faces,
which might be covered. There was another exception to the counsel
just mentioned. “A lady who is pale-faced, or who has not a good
smell, ought to breakfast early in the morning; for good wine gives a
very good colour; and she who eats and drinks well must heighten her
colour.” One who has bad breath is recommended to eat aniseed, fennel,
and cumin to her breakfast, and to avoid breathing in people’s faces.
A lady is to be very attentive to her behaviour in church, rules for
which are given. If she could sing, she was to do so when asked, and
not require too much pressing. Ladies are further recommended to keep
their hands clean, to cut their nails often, and not to suffer them to
grow beyond the finger, or to harbour dirt. In passing other people’s
houses, ladies were not to look into them; “for a person often does
things privately in his house, which he would not wish to be seen, if
any one should come before his door.” For this reason, too, when a lady
went into another person’s house, she is recommended to cough at the
entrance, or to speak out loud, so that the inmates might not be taken
by surprise. The directions for a lady’s behaviour at table are very
particular. “In eating, you must avoid much laughing or talking. If you
eat with another (_i. e._, in the same plate, or of the same mess),
turn the nicest bits to him, and do not go picking out the finest and
largest for yourself, which is not courteous. Moreover, no one should
eat greedily a choice bit which is too large or too hot, for fear of
choking or burning herself.... Each time you drink, wipe your mouth
well, that no grease may go into the wine, which is very unpleasant
to the person who drinks after you. But when you wipe your mouth for
drinking, do not wipe your eyes or nose with the table-cloth, and avoid
spilling from your mouth, or greasing your hands too much.” The lady
is further, and particularly, recommended not to utter falsehoods.
The remainder of the poem consist of directions in making love and
receiving the addresses of suitors. The “Book” of the chevalier de la
Tour-Landry contains instructions for young ladies, in substance very
much like these, but illustrated by stories and examples.

The chamber-maidens also went abroad, like the young sons of gentlemen;
but female servants who came as strangers appear not in general to
have been well regarded, and they probably were, or were considered
as, a lower class. The circumstance of their having left the country
where they were known, was looked upon as _prima facie_ evidence that
their conduct had brought them into discredit there. The author of
the “Ménagier de Paris” advises his daughter never to take any such
_chambrières_, without having first sent to make strict inquiries about
them in the parts from whence they came. This same early writer on
domestic economy divides the servants, who, in a large household, were
very numerous, into three classes: those who were employed on a sudden,
and only for a certain work, with regard to whom the principal caution
given is to bargain with them for the price of their labour before
they begin; those who were employed for a certain time in a particular
description of work, as tailors, shoemakers, butchers, and others,
who always came to work in the house on materials belonging to the
master of the house, or harvest-men, &c., in the country; and domestic
servants who were hired by the year. These latter were expected to pay
an absolute passive obedience to the lord and lady of the household,
and to those set in authority by them. The lady of the house had the
especial charge of the female servants, and the “Ménagier” contains
rather minute directions as to her housekeeping duties. She was to
require of the maid-servants, “that early in the morning the entrance
to your hostel, that is, the hall, and the other places by which
people enter and stop in the hostel to converse, be swept and made
clean, and that the footstools and covers of the benches and forms be
dusted and shaken, and after this that the other chambers be in like
manner cleaned and arranged for the day.” They were next to attend to
and feed all the “chamber animals,” such as pet dogs, cage birds, &c.
The next thing to be done was to portion out to each servant her or
his work for the day. At midday the servants were to have their first
meal, when they were to be fed plentifully, but “only of one meat, and
not of several or of any delicacies; and give them one only kind of
drink, nourishing but not heady, whether wine or other; and admonish
them to eat heartily, and to drink well and plentifully, for it is
right that they should eat all at once, without sitting too long, and
at one breath, without reposing on their meal, or halting, or leaning
with their elbows on the table; and as soon as they begin to talk, or
to rest on their elbows, make them rise, and remove the table.” After
their “second labour,” and on feast-days, the servants were to have
another, apparently a lighter, repast, and lastly, in the evening (_au
vespre_), they were to have another abundant meal, like their dinner,
and then, “if the season required it,” they were to be “warmed and made
comfortable.” The lady of the house was then, by herself or a deputy on
whom she could depend, to see that the house was closed, and to take
charge of the keys, that nobody could go out or come in; and then to
have all the fires carefully “covered,” and send all the servants to
bed, taking care that they put out their candles properly, to prevent
the risk of fire. In the English poem of the “Seven Sages,” printed by
Weber, the emperor is described as going to his chamber, after the time
of locking windows and gates--

    _Whan men leke windowe and gate,_
    _Themparour com to chambre late._
                   --Weber, iii. 60.

And it appears from a tale in the same collection, that the doors and
windows were unlocked at daybreak--

    _Tho_ (when) _the day dawen gan,_
    _Awai stal the yonge man;_
    _Men unlek dore and windowe_.
                        --Ib., p. 87.

There was another duty performed by the ladies in the mediæval
household, which was a very important one in an age of turbulence, and
must not be overlooked--they were both nurses and doctors. Medical men
were not then at hand to be consulted, and the sick or wounded man was
handed over to the care of the mistress of the house and her maidens.
The reader of Chaucer will remember the medicinal knowledge displayed
by dame Pertelot in the “Nonne-Prestes Tale.” Medicinal herbs were
grown in every garden, and were dried or made into decoctions, and kept
for use. In the early romances we often meet with ladies who possessed
plants and other objects which possessed the power of miraculous cures,
and which they had obtained in some mysterious manner. Thus, in the
Carlovingian romance of “Gaufrey,” when Robastre was so dangerously
wounded that there remained no hope of his life, the good wife of the
traitor Grifon undertook to cure him. “And she went to a coffer and
opened it, and took out of it a herb which has so great virtue that
whoever takes it will be relieved from all harm. She pounded and mixed
it in a mortar, and then came to Robastre and gave it him. It had no
sooner passed his throat than he was as sound as an apple” (“Gaufrey,”
p. 119). So in “Fierabras” (p. 67), the Saracen princess Floripas had
in her chamber the powerful “mandeglore” (mandrake), which she applied
to the wounds of Oliver, and they were instantly healed. In the “Roman
de la Violette” (p. 104), when Gerart, desperately wounded, is carried
into the castle, the maiden who was lady of it took him into a chamber,
and there took off his armour, undressed him, and put him to bed.
They examined all his wounds, and applied to them ointments of great
efficacy, and under this treatment he soon recovered. In the English
romance of “Amis and Amiloun,” when sir Amiloun is discovered struck
with leprosy, the wife of his friend Amis takes him into her chamber,
strips him of all his clothing, bathes him herself, and then puts him
to bed--

    _Into hir chaumber she can him lede,_
    _And kest of al his pover wede_ (poor clothes),
        _And bathed his bodi al bare;_
    _And to a bedde swithe_ (quickly) _him brought,
    _With clothes riche and wele ywrought;_
    _Ful blithe of him thai ware_.
                                  --Weber, ii. 459.

To the knowledge of medicines was too often added another knowledge,
that of poisons--a science which was carried to a great degree of
perfection in the middle ages, and of which there were regular
professors. The practice of poisoning was, indeed, carried on to a
frightful extent, and it appears, from a variety of evidence, that
women were commonly agents in it.

A great part of the foregoing remarks apply exclusively to the
aristocratic portion of society, which included all those who had the
right to become knights. Through the whole extent of this portion of
society one blood was believed to run, which was distinguished from
that of all other classes by the title of “gentle blood.” The pride
of gentle blood, which was one of the distinguishing characteristics
of feudalism, was very great in the middle ages. It was believed that
the mark of this blood could never disappear; and many of the mediæval
stories turn upon the circumstance of a child of gentle blood having
been stolen or abandoned in its earlier infancy, and bred up, without
any knowledge of its origin, as a peasant among peasants, or as a
burgher among burghers, but displaying, as it grew towards manhood, by
its conduct, the unmistakable proofs of its gentle origin, in spite of
education and example. The burgher class--the merchant or tradesman,
or the manufacturer--appear always as money-getting and money-saving
people, and individuals often became very rich. This circumstance
became a temptation, on the one hand, to the aristocrat, whose tendency
was usually, through his prodigality, to become poor, and, on the
other, to the rich man of no blood, who sought to buy aristocratic
alliances by his wealth, and intermarriages between the two classes
were not very unfrequent. In most cases, at least in the romances and
stories, it was an aristocratic young lady who became united with a
wealthy merchant, and it was usually a stroke of selfish policy on
the part of the lady’s father. In the fabliau of the “Vilain Mire”
(Barbazan, ii. 1)--the origin of Molière’s “Médecin malgré lui,”--and
in one or two other old stories, the aristocratic young lady is married
to an agriculturist. Marriages of this description are represented
as being never happy; the husband has no sympathy for his wife’s
gentility, and, according to the code of “chivalry,” the lady was
perfectly justified in being unfaithful to her husband as often as the
liked, especially if she sinned with men who were superior to him in

It was common for the burgher class to ape gentility, even among
people of a lower order; for the great merchant was often superior
in education and in intelligence, as he was in wealth, to the great
majority of the aristocratic class. In Chaucer, even the wife of the
miller aspired to the aristocratic title of madame--

    _Ther durste no wight clepe_ (call) _hir but madame_.
                                  --Cant. Tales, l. 3954.

And in speaking of the wives of various burghers who joined in the
pilgrimage, the poet remarks--

    _It is right fair for to be clept_ (called) _madame_.
                                         --Ibid., l. 378.

The burghers also cherished a number of servants and followers in their
household, or _mesnie_. In the fabliau of “La Borgoise d’Orliens,” the
mesnie of the burgher, who is not represented as a person of wealth or
distinction, consists of two nephews, a lad who carried water, three
chamber-maidens, a niece, two pautoniers, and a ribald, and these were
all harboured in the hall. The pautonier was only another name for the
ribald, or perhaps it was a sub-class or division of the infamous class
who lived parasitically upon the society of the middle ages. Even the
ordinary agriculturist had his _mesnie_.

What I have said of the great dissoluteness and immorality of the
aristocratic class applies more especially to the households of the
greater barons, though the same spirit must have spread itself far
through the whole class. The aristocratic class was itself divided into
two classes, or rather two ranks,--the great barons, and the knights
and lesser landholders, and the division between these two classes
became wider, and the latter more absolutely independent, as the power
of feudalism declined. These latter were the origin of that class which
in more modern times has been known by the title of the old country
gentleman. As far as we can judge from what we know of them, I am led
to think that this class was the most truly dignified, and in general
the most moral, portion of mediæval society. There is abundant evidence
that the tone of morality in the burgher and agricultural classes
was not high; and the whole tenor of mediæval popular and historical
literature can leave no doubt on our minds that in the middle ages the
clergy were the great corruptors of domestic virtue among both these
classes. The character of the women, as described in the old satirists
and story-tellers, as well as in records of a still more strictly
truthful character, was very low, and, in the towns especially, they
are described as spending much of their time in the taverns, drinking
and gossiping. Of course there were everywhere--and, it is to be
trusted, not a few--bright exceptions to this general character.



Humboldt, in his “Cosmos,” has dwelt on the taste for the beauties of
nature which has prevailed among various peoples, and at different
periods of the world’s history, but he appears to me to have by no
means appreciated or done justice to the force of this sentiment among
our forefathers in the middle ages, and, perhaps I may say, especially
in England. In our ancient popular poetry, the mention of the season of
the year at which an event happens generally draws from the poet some
allusion to the charms of nature peculiar to it, to the sweetness of
the flowers, the richness of the fruit, or the harmony of the song of
birds. In some of the early romances, each new division of the poem is
introduced by an allusion of this kind. Thus, at the opening of what
the editor calls the first chapter of the second part of the romance of
“Richard Cœur de Lion,” the poet tells us how it--

    _Merye is in the tyme of May,_
    _Whenne foulis synge in her lay;_
    _Floures on appyl-trees and perye_ (pear-tree);
    _Smale foules synge merye._
    _Ladyes strowe here boures_ (chambers)
    _With rede roses and lylye flowres;_
    _Gret joye is in frith_ (grove) _and lake_.
                                  --Weber, ii. 149.

Such interruptions of the narrative are frequent in the long romance of
“Alexander” (Alexander the Great), and are always expressive. Thus, on
one occasion the poet tells us, abruptly enough, how--

    _Whan corn ripeth in every steode_ (place),
    _Mury_ (pleasant) _it is in feld and hyde_ (meadow).
                                         --Ibid., i. 24.

And again, introduced equally abruptly, we are informed--

    _In tyme of hervest mery it is ynough;_
    _Peres and apples hongeth on bough._
    _The hayward bloweth mery his horne;_
    _In everyche_ (every) _felde ripe is corne;_
    _The grapes hongen on the vyne;_
    _Swete is trewe love and fyne_.
                               --Weber, p. 238.

When, indeed, we consider the confined and dark character of most of
the apartments of the feudal dwelling, we cannot be surprised if our
mediæval forefathers loved the recreations which brought them into
the open air. Castles and country mansions had always their gardens
and pleasure-grounds, which were much frequented by all the different
branches of the household. The readers of Chaucer will remember the
description of the “noble” knight January--

    _Amonges other of his honest thinges,_
    _He had a gardyn walled al with stoon,_
    _So fair a gardyn wot I no wher noon._

It is implied, at least, that this garden was extensive, and--

    _This noble knight, this January the olde,_
    _Such deynté hath in it to walk and playe,_
    _That he wold no wight suffre bere the keye,_
    _Save he himself._
                --CHAUCER, The Marchaundes Tale.

So, in the curious popular collection of mediæval stories, entitled the
“Seven Sages,” we are told of a rich burgess who

    _Hadde, bihinden his paleys,_
    _A fair gardin of nobleys,_
    _Ful of appel-tres, and als_ (also) _of pirie_ (pear-trees);
    _Foules songe therinne murie._
    _Amideward that gardyn fre,_
    _So wax_ (grew) _a pinnote-tre,_
    _That hadde fair bowes and frut;_
    _Ther under was al his dedut_ (pleasure).
    _He made ther-under a grene bench,_
    _And drank ther under many a sschench_ (cupful).
                                               --Weber, iii. 23.

And again, in the same collection of stories, a prudent mother,
counselling her daughter, tells her--

    _Daughter, thi loverd_ (lord) _hath a gardin,_
    _A wel fair ympe_ (young tree) _is tharin;
    A fair harbeth_ (arbour) _hit overspredeth,_
    _Alle his solas therinne he ledeth_.
                                --Weber, iii. 69.

In Chaucer’s “Frankeleynes Tale,” when the lady Dorigen was in want of
amusement to make her forget the absence of her husband, her friends,
finding that the sea-shore was not sufficiently gay,--

    _Schope hem for to pleien somwhere elles,_
    _They leden hire by rivers and by welles,_
    _And eke in other places delitables;_
    _They dauncen, and they pley at ches and tables._
    _So on a day, right in the morwe tide,_
    _Unto a gardeyn that was ther beside,_
    _In which that they had made her ordinance_
    _Of vitaile, and of other purveance,_
    _They gon and plaie hem al the longe day:_
    _And this was on the sixte morwe of May,_
    _Which May had painted with his softe schoures_
    _This gardeyn ful of leves and of floures:_
    _And craft of mannes hond so curiously_
    _Arrayed had this gardeyn of suche pris_
    _As if it were the verray paradis._
           *       *       *       *       *
    _And after dinner gan thay to daunce
    _And singe also; sauf Dorigen alone._

An important incident in the story here occurs, after which--

    _Tho_ (then) _come hir other frendes many on,_
    _And in the alleyes romed up and down,_
    _And nothing wist of this conclusioun,_
    _But sodeynly began to revel newe,_
    _Til that the brighte sonne had lost his hewe_.

It would be easy to multiply such descriptions as the foregoing, but
we will only refer to the well-known one at the commencement of the
“Romance of the Rose,” where the carolling is described with more
minuteness than usual. There were employed minstrels, and “jogelours,”
and apparently even tumblers, which are thus described in Chaucer’s
English version:--

    _Tho_ (then) _myghtist thou karoles sene,_
    _And folk daunce and mery bene,_
    _And made many a faire tournyng_
    _Upon the grene gras springyng_.
    There myghtist thou se these flowtours,
    _Mynstrales and eke jogelours,_
    _That wel to synge dide her peyne,_
    _Somme songe songes of Loreyne;_
    _For in Loreyn her notes bee_
    _Fulle swetter than in this contré._
    _There was many a tymbester,_
    _And saillouris_ (jumpers, _or_ tumblers), _that I dar wel swere_
    _Couthe_ (knew) _her craft ful parfitly,_
    _The tymbris up ful sotilly_
    _They caste and hente fulle ofte_
    _Upon a fynger faire and softe,_
    _That they ne failide never mo._
    _Ful fetys damyseles two,_
    _Ryght yonge, and fulle of semelyhede,_
    _In kirtles and noon other wede,_
    _And faire tressed every tresse,_
    _Hadde Myrthe doon for his noblesse_
    _Amydde the karole for to daunce._
    _But herof lieth no remembraunce_
    _How that they daunced queyntly,_
    _That oon wolde come alle pryvyly_
    _Agayn that other, and whan they were_
    _Togidre almost, they threwe yfere_ (in company)
    _Her mouthis so, that thorough her play_
    _It semed as they kiste alway._
    _To dauncen welle koude they the gise,_
    _What shulde I more to you devyse?_

These lines show us that our forefathers in the middle ages had their
dancing girls, just as they had and still have them in the East; it was
one trait of the mixture of Oriental manners with those of Europe which
had taken place since the crusades.

In these extracts, indeed, we have allusions to the practices of
dancing and singing, of playing at chess and tables, of drinking, and
even of dining, in the gardens. Our engraving No. 194, taken from the
romance of “Alexander,” in the Bodleian Library, represents a garden
scene, in which two royal personages are playing at chess. Dancing in
the open air was a very common recreation, and is not unfrequently
alluded to. In the Roman de Geste, known by the title of “La Mort de
Garin,” a large dinner party is given in a garden--

    _Les napes metent pardeanz un jardin._
                  --Mort de Garin, p. 28.

And, in the “Roman de Berte” (p. 4), Charles Martel is represented as
dining similarly in the garden, at the midsummer season, when the rose
was in blossom--

    _Entour le saint Jehan, que la rose est fleurie._

[Illustration: _No. 194. A. Mediæval Garden Scene._]

There is an early Latin story of a man who had a cross-grained wife.
One day he invited some friends to dinner, and set out his table
in his garden, by the side of a river (_fecit poni mensam in hortu
suo prope aquam_). The lady seated herself by the water-side, at a
little distance from the table, and cast a very forbidding look upon
her husband’s guests; upon which he said to her, “Show a pleasant
countenance to our guests, and come nearer the table;” but she only
moved further off, and nearer the brink of the river, with her back
turned to the water. He repeated his invitation in a more angry tone,
in reply to which, to show her ill-humour, she drew further back,
with a quick movement of ill-temper, through which, forgetting the
nearness of the river, she fell into it, and was drowned. The husband,
pretending great grief, sent for a boat, and proceeded up the stream in
search of her body. This excited some surprise among his neighbours,
who suggested to him that he should go down the stream, and not up.
“Ah!” said he, “you did not know my wife--she did everything in
contradiction, and I firmly believe that her body has floated against
the current, and not with it.”

Even among the aristocratic class the garden was often the place for
giving audience and receiving friends. In the romance of “Garin le
Loherain,” a messenger sent to the count Fromont, one of the great
barons, finds him sitting in a garden surrounded by his friends--

    _Trouva Fromont seant en un jardin;_
    _Environ lui avoit de ses amins._
              --Roman de Garin, i. 282.

A favourite occupation of the ladies in the middle ages was making
garlands and chaplets of flowers. In the “Lai d’Aristote” (Barbazan,
iii. 105, 107), king Alexander’s beautiful mistress is described as
descending early in the morning, walking in the garden alone, and
making herself a chaplet of flowers. In another fabliau, published
in Germany by Adelbert Keller, a Saracenic maiden descends from her
chamber into the garden, performs her toilette at the fountain there,
and then makes herself a chaplet of flowers and leaves, which she puts
on her head. So Emelie, in Chaucer’s “Knights Tale,”--

    _Iclothed was sche fressh for to devyse._
    _Hire yolwe_ (yellow) _heer was browdid in a tresse_
    _Byhynde hire bak, a yerde long, I gesse._
    _And in the gardyn at the sonne uprise_ (sun-rise)
    _Sche walketh up and doun wheer as hire liste;_
    _Sche gadereth floures, partye whyte and reede,_
    _To make a certeyn gerland for hire heede,_
    _And as an aungel hevenly sche song_.

A little further on, Arcyte goes at daybreak into the fields to make
him a chaplet, of the leaves of woodbine or hawthorn, for it must
be remembered that this takes place in the month of May, which was
especially the season for wearing garlands. In “Blonde of Oxford,”
Jean of Dammartin, seeking his mistress, finds her in a meadow making
herself a chaplet of flowers--

    _A dont de la chambre s’avance,_
    _De là le vit en i. prael_
    _U ele faisoit un capiel._
         --Blonde of Oxford, p. 30.

Our cut No. 195, taken from a well-known manuscript in the British
Museum, of the beginning of the fourteenth century (MS. Reg. 2
B. vii.), represents a party of ladies in the garden, gathering
flowers, and making garlands. The love of flowers, as I have stated
in a former chapter, seems to have prevailed generally among our
Anglo-Saxon forefathers, and affectionate allusions to them occur,
not unfrequently, in the literary remains of that early period. Many
of our old favourite garden-flowers are, I believe, derived from the
Anglo-Saxon gardens. Proofs of a similar attachment to flowers might
be quoted in abundance from the writings of the periods subsequent to
the entrance of the Normans. The wearing of garlands or chaplets of
flowers was a common practice with both sexes. In the romantic history
of the Fitz-Warines, written in the thirteenth century, the hero, in
travelling, meets a young knight who, in token of his joyous humour,
carries a chaplet of flowers on his head. In the later English romance
of the “Squyer of Lowe Degree,” when the “squyer” was preparing to do
his office of carver in the hall--

    _There he araied him in scarlet red,_
    _And set a chaplet upon his hed;_
    _A belte about his sydes two,_
    _White brod barres to and fro._

Walter de Biblesworth talks of ladies dancing the carole, their heads
crowned with garlands of the blue-bottle flower--

              _Mener karole_
    _Desouz chapeau de blaverole._--Vocabularies, p. 161.

Garlands of flowers were also the common rewards for success in the
popular games.

[Illustration: _No. 195. Ladies making Garlands._]

All these enjoyments naturally rendered the garden a favourite and
important part of every man’s domestic establishment; during the warmer
months of the year it was a chosen place of resort, especially after
dinner. In the romance of “Garin le Loherain,” Begues is represented as
descending from his palace, after dinner, to walk with his fair wife
Beatrice in his garden--

    _En son palais fu Begues de Belin;_
    _Après mangier entra en un jardin,_
    _Aveuc lui fu la belle Biatris._
        --Roman de Garin, vol. ii. p. 97.

In another part of the same romance, Begues de Belin and his barons, on
rising from the table, went to seek recreation in the fields--

    _Quant mangié ont et beu à loisir,_
    _Les napes ostent, et en prés sunt sailli._
                      --Ibid., vol. i. p. 203.

The manuscript in the British Museum, from which we took our last
illustration, furnishes the accompanying representation of a group of
ladies walking in the garden, and gathering flowers (No. 196).

[Illustration: _No. 196. Ladies walking in the Garden._]

In the “Ménagier de Paris,” compiled about the year 1393, its author,
addressing his young wife, treats briefly of the behaviour of a woman
when she is walking out, and especially when passing along the streets
of a town, or going to church. “As you go,” he says, “look straight
before you, with your eye-lids low and fixed, looking forward to the
ground, at five toises (thirty feet) before you, and not looking at, or
turning your eyes, to man or woman who may be to your right or left,
nor looking upwards, nor changing your look from one place to another,
nor laughing, nor stopping to speak to anybody in the street” (vol. i.
p. 15). It must be confessed that this is, in some points, rather hard
counsel for a lady to follow; but it is consistent with the general
system of formalities of behaviour in the middle ages, upon which the
ladies gladly took their revenge when removed from constraint. When two
or more persons walked together, it was the custom to hold each other
by the hands, not to walk arm-in-arm, which appears to be a very modern
practice. In the romance of “Ogier le Danois,” the emperor and Ogier,
when reconciled, are thus represented, walking in a friendly manner
hand in hand. The ladies in our last engraving are walking in this
manner; and in our next (No. 197),--taken from a copy, given in M. du
Sommerard’s “Album,” from a manuscript in the library of the arsenal at
Paris, written and illuminated for a prince of the house of Burgundy,
in the fifteenth century,--the lords and ladies of a noble or princely
household are represented as walking out in the same manner. It is well
known that the court of Burgundy, in the fifteenth century, offered
the model of strict etiquette. This illustration gives us also a very
good picture of a street scene of the period to which it belongs. The
height of gentility, however, at least, in the twelfth and thirteenth
centuries, seems to have been to hold the lady by the finger only. It
is in this manner that, in the romance of “Ogier le Danois,” the hero
holds the princess Gloriande--

    _Donques enmainne le bon Danois Ogier,_
    _E Gloriande_, qui par le doit le tient._
                    --Roman d’Ogier, p. 110.

So, in the romance of “La Violette,” at the festivities given by the
king, the guests “distributed themselves in couples in the hall (_i.
e._ a gentleman with a lady), _one taking the other by the finger_, and
so they arranged themselves two and two”--

    _Quant il orent assés deduit,_
    _Par la sale s’acoinsent tuit;_
    _Li uns prent l’autre par le doi,_
    _Si s’arangierent doi et doi._
         --Roman de la Violette, p. 10.

[Illustration: _No. 197. A Promenade Scene in the Fifteenth Century._]

In the curious poem entitled “La Court de Paradis,” the sainted ladies
in heaven are represented as thus walking and holding each other by the

    _L’une tint l’autre par les dois._
                --Barbazan, iii. 139.

As a mark of great familiarity, two princes, Pepin’s son, Charles, and
the duke Namles, are represented in the romance of “Ogier” as one,
Charles, holding his hand on the duke’s shoulder, while the duke held
him by his mantle, as they walked along; they were going to church

    _Kalles sa main li tint desus l’espaule;_
    _Namles tint lui par le mantel de paile._
                    --Roman d’Ogier, p. 143.

[Illustration: _No. 198. A Bishop Preaching._]

It may be remarked that sitting was equally a matter of etiquette with
walking, though we sometimes meet with ladies and gentlemen seated in
a manner which is anything but ceremonious. In the annexed cut (No.
198), taken from a manuscript of the fourteenth century, the reference
to which I have unfortunately lost, a number of ladies, seated on
the ground, and apparently in the open air, are listening to the
admonitions of an episcopal preacher.

As I have introduced the subject of the love of our forefathers for
trees and flowers, some account of gardening in the middle ages will
not be out of place, especially as what has hitherto been written on
the history of gardening in England during this early period, has been
very imperfect and incorrect. We have no direct information relating to
the gardens of our Anglo-Saxon forefathers--in fact, our knowledge is
limited to a few words gathered from the old vocabularies. The ordinary
names for a garden, _wyrt-tun_ and _wyrt-geard_, a plant-inclosure
and a plant-yard, are entirely indefinite, for the word _wyrt_ was
applied to all plants whatever, and perhaps they indicate what we
should call the kitchen-garden. The latter word, which was sometimes
spelt _ort-geard_, _orc-geard_, and _orcyrd_, was the origin of our
modern _orchard_, which is now limited to an inclosure of fruit-trees.
Flowers were probably cultivated in the inclosed space round the
houses. It would appear that the Saxons, before they became acquainted
with the Romans, cultivated very few plants, if we may judge from
the circumstance that throughout the Anglo-Saxon period the names by
which these were known were nearly all derived from the Latin. The
leek appears to have been the principal table vegetable among the
Anglo-Saxons, as it was among the Welsh its name, _leac_, or _leah_, is
pure Anglo-Saxon, and its importance was considered so much above that
of any other vegetable, that _leac-tun_, the leek-garden, became the
common name for the kitchen-garden, and _leac-weard_, a leek-keeper,
was used to designate the gardener. The other alliaceous plants were
considered as so many varieties of the leek, and were known by such
names as _enne-leac_, or _ynne-leac_, supposed to be the onion, and
_gar-leac_, or garlic. _Bean_ is also an Anglo-Saxon word; but,
singularly enough, the Anglo-Saxons seem not to have been originally
acquainted with peas, for the only name they had for them was the Latin
_pisa_, and _pyse_. Even for the cabbage tribe, the only Anglo-Saxon
name we know is simply the Latin _brassica_; and the colewort, which
was named _cawl_, and _cawl-wyrt_, was derived from the Latin _caulis_.
So the turnip was called _næpe_, from the Latin _napus_; and _rædic_,
or radish, is perhaps from _raphanus_.[29] Garden cresses, parsley,
mint, sage, rue, and other herbs,[30] were in use, but mostly, except
the cresses, with Latin names.

We have long lists of flowering plants in the Anglo-Saxon vocabularies,
but as they are often difficult to identify, and, being chiefly
enumerated for their medicinal qualities, are mostly wild plants, they
throw little light on the character of the flower-garden. For the
garden rose and the lily they used the Roman names _rose_ and _lilie_;
the latter appears to have been an especially favourite flower among
the Anglo-Saxons. Among other plants, evidently belonging to the
garden, are suthernwood, _sutherne-wude_, the turnsole or sunflower,
called _sigel-hwerfe_ (the gem-turned) or _solsæce_ (which is merely
the Latin _solsequium_), the violet (_clæfre_), the marigold, called
_read-clæfre_, the gilliflower, _hwit-clæfre_, the periwinkle,
_pervincæ_, the honeysuckle, _hunig-sucle_, the piony, for which the
Anglo-Saxons had only the Latin word _pionia_, the daisy, _dæges-eage_,
and the _laur-beam_, which was perhaps the bay-tree rather than the

The chief fruit of the Anglo-Saxons was undoubtedly the apple, the name
of which, _æppel_, belongs to their language. The tree was called an
_apulder_, and the only varieties mentioned are the _surmelst apulder_,
or souring apple-tree, and the _swite apulder_, or sweeting apple-tree.
The Anglo-Saxons had orchards containing only apple-trees, to which
they gave the name of an _apulder-tun_, or apple-tree garden; of the
fruit of which they made what they called, and we still call, cider,
and which they also called _æppel-win_, or apple-wine. They appear to
have received the pear from the Romans, as its name _pera_, a pear,
and _piriga_, a pear-tree, was evidently taken from _pirus_. They
had also derived from the Roman gardens, no doubt, the cherry-tree
(_cyrs-treow_, or _ciris-beam_, from the Latin _cerasus_), the peach
(_persoc-treow_, from _persicarius_), the mulberry (_mor-beam_,
from _morus_), the chestnut (_cysten_, _cyst_, or _cystel-beam_,
from _castaneus_),[31] perhaps the almond (_magdala-treow_, from
_amigdalus_), the fig (_fic-beam_, from _ficus_), and the pine
(_pin-treow_, from _pinus_). The small kernels of the pine were used
very extensively in the middle ages, in the same way as olives. We must
add to these the plum (_plum-treow_), the name of which is Anglo-Saxon;
the medlar, which was known in Anglo-Saxon by a very unexplainable
name, but one which was preferred to a comparatively recent period; the
quince, which was called a _cod-æple_, or bag-apple; the nut (_hnutu_),
and the hazel-nut (_hæsel-hnutu_). They called the olive an oil-tree
(_ale-beam_), which would seem to prove that they considered its
principal utility to be for making oil. The vine was well-known to the
Anglo-Saxons; they called it the _win-treow_, or wine-tree, its fruit,
_winberige_, or wine berries, and a bunch of grapes, _geclystre_, a
cluster. We find no Anglo-Saxon words for gooseberries or currants;
but our forefathers were well acquainted with the strawberry
(_strea-berige_) and the raspberry, which they called _hynd-berige_.
Perhaps these last-mentioned fruits, which are known to be natives of
Britain, were known only in their wild state.[32]

The earliest account of an English garden is given by Alexander
Neckam, who flourished in the latter half of the twelfth century,
in the sixty-sixth chapter of the second book of his treatise, _De
naturis rerum_, which exists only in manuscripts (I quote from one
in the British Museum, MS. Reg. 12 G. xi.). He introduces at least
one plant, the mandrake, which was fabulous, and gives several names
which I shall be obliged to leave in his original Latin, as, perhaps
through corruption of the text, I cannot interpret them, but there
can be little doubt that it is in general a correct enumeration of
the plants and trees cultivated in a complete English garden of the
period. “A garden,” he says, “should be adorned on this part with
roses, lilies, the marigold, _molis_, and mandrakes, and on that part
with parsley, cost, fennel, southernwood, coriander, sage, savery,
hyssop, mint, rue, dittany, smallage, pellitory, lettuce, cresses,
_ortulano_, and the piony. Let there also be beds (_areæ_) enriched
with onions, leeks, garlic, melons, and scallions (_hinnuilis_). The
garden is also ennobled by the cucumber which creeps on its belly, and
by the soporiferous poppy, as well as by the daffodil and the acanthus.
Nor let pot-herbs be wanting, if you can help it, such as beets,
herb mercury, orache, the _acedula_, (sorrel?) and the mallow. It is
useful also to the gardener to have anise, mustard, white pepper, and
wormwood.” Neckam then goes on to the fruit-trees. “A noble garden,”
he says, “will give you medlars, quinces, the pearmain (_volema_),
peaches, pears of St. Regle, pomegranates, citrons (or lemons),
oranges, almonds, dates, and figs.” When Neckam speaks of a “noble
garden,” he of course speaks of that of a great baron or prince, and
enumerates fruits of choice, and mostly above the common range. Medlars
and quinces were formerly held in great esteem, and much used. I have
ventured to interpret _volema_ as meaning the pearmain, which was
considered one of the choicest apples, as the apple is not mentioned
in the list, and as in one of the early glossaries that meaning is
attached to the word. Peaches were, as we have seen, known to the
Anglo-Saxons; and in 1276 we find slips of peach-trees mentioned in an
official record as planted in the king’s garden at Westminster. The
pear of St. Regle was one of the choice kinds of pears brought from
France, and it and several other kinds of pears are enumerated in the
accounts of the earl of Lincoln’s garden in Holborn (London) in 1296.
It is rather surprising that Mr. Hudson Turner, in his very valuable
volume on domestic architecture, where he supposes that _mala aurea_ in
Neckam’s list were intended for the golden apples of the Hesperides,
should not have known that the _malum aureum_ of the middle ages was
the orange. Pomegranates, citrons, oranges, almonds, dates, and figs,
are known to have been cultivated in England at different periods, but
it is not probable that the fruit came often to perfection. It may be
remarked that Neckam gives a separate chapter to the cultivation of the
vine, which belonged to the vineyard, and not to the garden. After an
enumeration of plants which were not grown in Western Europe, Neckam
gives a list of others, known for their medicinal qualities, some of
which can hardly have been planted in a garden, unless it belonged to
a physician; although it appears to have been the custom to devote a
corner of the garden to the medicinal plants most in use, in order
that they might be ready at hand when wanted. The gardener’s tools
in the twelfth century, as enumerated by Neckam in his treatise _De
Utensilibus_, were few and simple; he had an axe, or twibill, a knife
for grafting, a spade, and a pruning-hook.

John de Garlande lived during the first half of the thirteenth century.
He was an Englishman, but had established himself as a scholar in the
university of Paris, so that the description of his garden which he
gives in his “Dictionarius” may be considered as that of a garden in
the neighbourhood of Paris, which, however, probably hardly differed
from a garden in England. It may be considered as the garden of a
respectable burgher. “In master John’s garden are these plants, sage,
parsley, dittany, hyssop, celandine, fennel, pellitory, the rose, the
lily, and the violet; and at the side (_i. e._ in the hedge), the
nettle, the thistle, and foxgloves. His garden also contains medicinal
herbs, namely, mercury and the mallow, agrimony, with nightshade,
and the marigold.” Master John’s gardener had also a garden for his
potherbs, in which grew borage, leeks, garlic, mustard, onions, cibols,
and scallions; and in his shrubbery grew pimpernel, mouseare, selfheal,
buglos, adderstongue, and “other herbs good for men’s bodies.”[33]
Master John had in his fruit-garden, cherry-trees, pear-trees,
apple-trees, plum-trees, quinces, medlars, peaches, chestnuts, nuts,
wallnuts, figs, and grapes. Walter de Bibblesworth, writing in
England towards the close of the thirteenth century, enumerates as the
principal fruit-trees in a common garden, apples, pears, and cherries--

    _Pomere, perere, e cerecer_;

and adds the plum-tree (_pruner_), and the quince-tree (_coingner_).

The cherry, indeed, appears to have been one of the most popular of
fruits in England, during the mediæval period. The records of the time
contain purchases of cherry-trees for the king’s garden in Westminster
in 1238 and 1277, and cherries and cherry-trees are enumerated in all
the glossaries from the times of the Anglo-Saxons to the sixteenth
century. The earl of Lincoln had cherry-trees in his garden in Holborn
towards the close of the thirteenth century, and during the same
century we have allusions to the cultivation of the cherry in other
parts of the kingdom. The allusions to cherries in the early poetry
are not at all unfrequent, and they were closely mixed up with popular
manners and feelings. It appears to have been the custom, from a
rather early period, to have fairs or feasts, probably in the cherry
orchards, during the period that the fruit was ripe, which were called
cherry-fairs, and sometimes cherry-feasts; and these are remembered,
if they do not still exist, in our great cherry districts, such as
Worcestershire and Kent. They were brief moments of great gaiety
and enjoyment, and the poets loved to quote them as emblems of the
transitory character of all worldly things. In the latter part of
the fourteenth century, the poet Gower, speaking of the teachers of
religion and morality, says:--

    _They prechen us in audience_
    _That no man schalle his soule empeyre_ (impair),
    _For alle is but a cherye-fayre_.

And the same writer again:--

    _Sumtyme I drawe into memoyre,_
    _How sorow may not ever laste,_
    _And so cometh hope in at laste,_
    _Whan I non other foode knowe;_
    _And that endureth but a throwe,_
    _Ryght as it were a chery-feste._

So again, under the reign of Henry IV., about the year 1411, Occleve,
in his poem “De regimine principum,” recently printed for the Roxburgh
Club, says (p. 47),--

    _Thy lyfe, my sone, is but a chery-feire._

During the rest of the fifteenth century, the allusions to the
cherry-fairs are very frequent.[34] Yet in face of all this, and still
more, abundant evidence, Loudon (“Encyclopædia of Gardening,” edition
of 1850) says, “Some suppose that the cherries introduced by the Romans
into Britain were lost, and that they were re-introduced in the time of
Henry VIII. by Richard Haines (it should be Harris), the fruiterer to
that monarch. But though we have no proof that cherries were in England
at the time of the Norman conquest, or for some centuries after it, yet
Warton has proved, by a quotation from Lidgate, a poet who wrote about
or before 1415, that the hawkers in London were wont to expose cherries
for sale, in the same manner as is now done early in the season.”

To turn from the fruit-garden to the flower-garden, modern writers
have fallen into many similar mistakes as to the supposed recent date
of the introduction of various plants into this country. Loudon, for
instance, says that we owe the introduction of the gilliflower, or
clove-pink (_dianthus caryophyllus_), to the Flemings, who took refuge
on our shores from the savage persecutions of the duke of Alva, in the
latter half of the sixteenth century; whereas this flower was certainly
well known, under the name of gillofres, ages before. Roses, lilies,
violets, and periwinkles, seem to have continued to be the favourite
garden-flowers. A manuscript of the fifteenth century in the British
Museum (MS. Sloane, No. 1201) furnishes us with a list of plants then
considered necessary for a garden, arranged first alphabetically, and
then in classes, of which I will here give verbatim the latter part, as
the best illustration of the mediæval notion of a garden, and as being,
at the same time, a very complete list. After the alphabetical list,
the manuscript goes on:--

_Of the same herbes for potage._

Borage, langdebefe[35], vyolettes, malowes, marcury, daundelyoun,
avence, myntes, sauge, parcely, goldes[36], mageroum[37], ffenelle,
carawey, red nettylle, oculus Christi[38], daysys, chervelle, lekez,
colewortes, rapez, tyme, cyves, betes, alysaundre, letyse, betayne,
columbyne, allia, astralogya rotunda, astralogia longa, basillicam[39],
dylle, deteyne, hertestong, radiche, white pyper, cabagez, sedewale,
spynache, coliaundre, ffoothistylle[40], orage, cartabus, lympens,
nepte, clarey, pacience.

    _Of the same herbes for sauce._

Hertestonge, sorelle, pelytory, pelytory of spayne, deteyne, vyolettes,
parcely, myntes.

    _Also of the same herbez for the coppe._

Cost, costmary, sauge, isope, rose mary, gyllofre, goldez, clarey,
mageroum, rue.

    _Also of the same herbes for a salade._

Buddus of stanmarche[41], vyolette flourez, parcely, red myntes,
syves[42], cresse of Boleyne, purselane, ramsons, calamyntes, primerose
buddus, dayses, rapounses, daundelyoun, rokette, red nettelle, borage
flourez, croppus of red ffenelle, selbestryve, chykynwede.

    _Also herbez to stylle_ (distill).

Endyve, rede rose, rose mary, dragans[43], skabiose, ewfrace[44],
wermode, mogwede, beteyne, wylde tansey, sauge, isope, ersesmart.

    _Also herbes for savour and beauté._

Gyllofre gentyle, mageroum gentyle, brasyle, palma Christi, stycadose,
meloncez, arcachaffe, scalacely[45], philyppendula[46], popy royalle,
germaundre, cowsloppus of Jerusalem, verveyne, dylle, seynt Mare,

    _Also rotys_ (roots) _for a gardyne_.

Parsenepez, turnepez, radyche, karettes, galyngale, eryngez[47],

    _Also for an herbere._

Vynes, rosers, lylés, thewberies[48], almondez, bay-trees, gourdes,
date-trese, peche-trese, pyneappulle, pyany romain, rose campy,
cartabus, seliane, columbyne gentyle, elabre.

       *       *       *       *       *

The processes of gardening were simple and easy, and the gardener’s
skill consisted chiefly in the knowledge of the seasons for sowing
and planting different herbs and trees, and of the astrological
circumstances under which these processes could be performed most
advantageously. The great ambition of the mediæval horticulturist was
to excel in the various mysteries of grafting, and he entertained
theories on this subject of the most visionary character, many of which
were founded on the writings of the ancients; for the mediæval theories
were accustomed to select from the doctrines of antiquity that which
was most visionary, and it usually became still more visionary in their
hands. Two English treatises on gardening were current in the fifteenth
century, one founded upon the Latin treatise of Palladius, and
entitled “Godfrey upon Palladie de Agricultura,” the other by Nicholas
Bollarde, a monk of Westminster--the monks were great gardeners. These
treatises occur not unfrequently in manuscripts, and both are found
in the British Museum, in the Sloane MS., No. 7. An abridgment of
them was edited by Mr. Halliwell, from the Porkington manuscript, in
a collection of “Early English Miscellanies,” printed for the Warton
Club. In these treatises, cherry-trees appear to have been more than
any others the subjects of experiment, and to have been favourite
stocks for grafting. Among the receipts given in these treatises we
may mention those for making cherries grow without stones, and other
fruit without cores; for making the fruit of trees bear any colour you
like; for making old trees young; for making sour fruit sweet; and “to
have grapes ripe as soon as pears or cherries.” This was to be brought
about by grafting the vine on a cherry-tree, according to the following
directions, the spelling of which I modernise:--“Set a vine by a cherry
till it grow, and at the beginning of February when time is, make a
hole through the cherry-tree at what height thou wilt, and draw through
the vine branch so that it fill the hole, and shave away the old bark
of the vine as much as shall be in the hole, and put it in so that the
part shaven fill the hole full, and let it stand a year till they be
‘souded’ together, then cut away the root end of the vine, and lap it
with clay round about, and keep it so after other graftings aforesaid.”
This is from Nicholas Bollarde. Godfrey upon Palladius tells us how
“to have many roses. Take the hard pepins that be right ripe, and sow
them in February or March, and when they spring, water them well, and
after a year complete thou mayst transplant them; and if thou wilt have
timely (early) roses, delve about the roots one or two handbreadths,
and water their scions with warm water; and for to keep them long, put
them in honeycombs.” According to the receipts edited by Mr. Halliwell,
“If thou wilt that in the stone of a peach-apple (this was the ordinary
name for a peach) be found a nut-kernel, graft a spring (sprout) of a
peach-tree on the stock of a nut-tree. Also a peach-tree shall bring
forth pomegranates, if it be sprong (sprinkled) oft times with goat’s
milk three days when it beginneth to flower. Also the apples of a
peach-tree shall wax red, if its scion be grafted on a playne tree.”
Such were the intellectual vagaries of “superstitious eld.”

Peaches are frequently mentioned among the fruit of the thirteenth
and fourteenth centuries; but nectarines or apricots are not met with
before the fifteenth century. The latter were called in old English
by their French name of _abricots_, and subsequently, and still more
frequently, apricocks.



During the period of which we are treating, the same rough sports
were in vogue among the uneducated classes that had existed for ages
before, and which continued for ages after. Many of these were trials
of strength, such as wrestling and throwing weights, with archery, and
other exercises of that description; others were of a less civilised
character, such as cockfighting and bear and bull-baiting. These latter
were favourite amusements, and there was scarcely a town or village
of any magnitude which had not its bull-ring. It was a municipal
enactment in all towns and cities that no butcher should be allowed to
kill a bull until it had been baited. The bear was an animal in great
favour in the middle ages, and was not only used for baiting, but was
tamed and taught various performances. I have already, in a former
chapter, given an example of a dancing bear under the Anglo-Saxons;
the accompanying cut (No. 199) is another, taken from a manuscript of
the beginning of the thirteenth century, in the British Museum (MS.
Arundel. No. 91).

[Illustration: _No. 199. A Dancing-Bear._]

I fear the fact cannot be concealed that the ladies of former days
assisted not unfrequently at these rough and unfeminine pastimes. There
can be no doubt that they were customary spectators of the baiting of
bulls and bears. Henry VIII.’s two daughters, Mary and Elizabeth,
witnessed this coarse amusement, as we are assured by contemporary
writers, with great satisfaction. The scene represented in our cut No.
200, which is copied from one of the carved seats, of the fourteenth
century, in Gloucester cathedral, is chiefly remarkable for the small
degree of energy--the quiet dignity, in fact--displayed by the actors
in it.

[Illustration: _No. 200. Baiting the Bear._]

[Illustration: _No. 201. A Hawk on its Perch._]

Hawking and hunting, especially the former, were the favourite
recreations of the upper classes. Hawking was considered so honourable
an occupation, that people were in the custom of carrying the hawk
on their fists when they walked or rode out, when they visited or
went to public assemblies, and even in church, as a mark of their
gentility. In the illuminations we not unfrequently see ladies and
gentlemen seated in conversation, bearing their hawks on their hands.
There was generally a _perche_ in the chamber expressly set aside
for the favourite bird, on which he was placed at night, or by day
when the other occupations of its possessor rendered it inconvenient
to carry it on the hand. Such a _perche_, with the hawk upon it, is
represented in our cut No. 201, taken from a manuscript of the romance
of “Meliadus,” of the fourteenth century (MS. Addit. in the British
Museum, No. 12,224). Hawking was in some respects a complicated
science; numerous treatises were written to explain and elucidate it,
and it was submitted to strict laws. Much knowledge and skill were
shown in choosing the hawks, and in breeding and training them, and the
value of a well-chosen and well-trained bird was considerable. When
carried about by its master or mistress, the hawk was held to the hand
by a strap of leather or silk, called a _jesse_, which was fitted to
the legs of the bird, and passed between the fingers of the hand. Small
bells were also attached to their legs, one on each. The accompanying
cut (No. 202), from a manuscript in the Bibliothèque Nationale at Paris
(No. 6956), represents the falconer or keeper of the hawks holding in
one hand what appears to be the jesse; he has a bird in his right hand,
while another is perched on a short post, which is often alluded to in
the directions for breeding hawks. The falconer wears hawks’ gloves,
which were made expressly to protect the hands against the bird’s

[Illustration: _No. 202. Hawks and their Keeper._]

[Illustration: _No. 203. Ladies Hawking._]

Hawking was a favourite recreation with the ladies, and in the
illuminated manuscripts they often figure in scenes of this kind.
Sometimes they are on foot, as in the group represented in our cut
No. 203, taken from a manuscript in the British Museum (MS. Reg. 2 B.
vii.). One lady has let go her hawk, which is in the act of striking
a heron; the other retains her hawk on her hand. The latter, as will
be seen, is hooded. Each of the ladies who possess hawks has one glove
only--the hawk’s glove; the other hand is without gloves. They took
with them, as shown here, dogs in couples to start the game. The dogs
used for this purpose were spaniels, and the old treatise on domestic
affairs entitled “Le Ménagier de Paris,” gives particular directions
for choosing them. In the illuminations, hawking parties are more
frequently represented on horseback than on foot; and often there
is a mixture of riders and pedestrians. The treatise just referred
to directs that the horse for hawking should be a low one, easy to
mount and dismount, and very quiet, that he may go slowly, and show
no restiveness. Hawking appears to have commenced at the beginning
of August; and until the middle of that month it was confined almost
entirely to partridges. Quails, we are told, came in in the middle
of August, and from that time forward everything seems to have been
considered game that came to hand, for when other birds fail, the
ladies are told that they may hunt fieldfares, and even jays and
magpies. September and October were the busiest hawking months.

[Illustration: _No. 204. Rousing Game._]

[Illustration: _No. 205. Following the Hawk._]

Hawking was, indeed, a favourite diversion with the ladies, and they
not only accompanied the gentlemen to this sport, but frequently
engaged in it alone. The hawking of the ladies, however, appears to
have been especially that of herons and water-fowl; and this was called
going to the river (_aller en rivière_), and was very commonly pursued
on foot. It may be mentioned that the fondness of the ladies for the
diversion of hawking is alluded to in the twelfth century by John of
Salisbury. The hawking on the river, indeed, seems to have been that
particular branch of the sport which gave most pleasure to all classes,
and it is that which is especially represented in the drawings in the
Anglo-Saxon manuscripts. Dogs were commonly used in hawking to rouse
the game in the same manner as at the present day, but in hawking
on the river, where dogs were of course less effective, other means
were adopted. In a manuscript already quoted in the present chapter
(MS. Reg. 2 B. vii.), of the beginning of the fourteenth century, a
group of ladies hawking on the banks of a river are accompanied by a
man, perhaps the falconer, who makes a noise to rouse the water-fowl.
Our cut No. 204 is taken from a very interesting manuscript of the
fourteenth century, made for the monastery of St. Bartholomew, in
Smithfield, and now preserved in the library of the British Museum (MS.
Reg. 10 E. iv.); it is part of a scene in which ladies are hawking
on a river, and a female is rousing the water-fowl with a tabor. The
fountain is one of those conventional objects by which the mediæval
artist indicated a spring, or running stream. This seems to have
been a very common method of rousing the game; and it is represented
in one of the carved seats, or misereres (as they have been termed
technically), in Gloucester cathedral, which is copied in our cut No.
205. This scene is rather curiously illustrated by an anecdote told
by an old chronicler, Ralph de Diceto, of a man who went to the river
to hunt teal with his hawk, and roused them with “what is called by
the river-hawkers a tabor.”[49] The tending of the hawks used in these
diversions was no slight occupation in the mediæval household, and was
the subject of no little study; they were cherished with the utmost
care, and carried about familiarly on the wrist in all places and under
all sorts of circumstances. It was a common practice, indeed, to go to
church with the hawk on the wrist. One of the early French poets, Gaces
de la Buigne, who wrote a metrical treatise on hunting in the middle of
the fourteenth century, advises his readers to carry their hawks with
them wherever there were assemblies of people, whether in churches or

    _Là où les gens sont amassés,_
    _Soit en l’église, ou autre part._

This is explained more fully by the author of the “Ménagier de Paris”
(vol. ii. p. 296), who wrote especially for the instruction of the
female members of his family. “At this point of falconry,” he says,
“it is advisable more than ever to hold the hawk on the wrist, and to
carry it to the pleadings (courts of justice), and among people to the
churches, and in other assemblies, and in the streets, and to hold
it day and night as continually as possible, and sometimes to perch
it in the streets, that it may see people, horses, carts, dogs, and
become acquainted with all things.... And sometimes, in the house, let
it be perched on the dogs, that the dogs may see it, and it them.”
It was thus that the practice of carrying a hawk on the wrist became
a distinction of people of gentle blood. The annexed engraving (No.
206), taken from the same manuscript last quoted (MS. Reg. 10 E. iv.),
represents a lady tending her hawks, which are seated on their “perche.”

[Illustration: _No. 206. A Lady and her Hawks._]

[Illustration: _No. 207. Ladies Shooting Rabbits._]

The author of the “Ménagier de Paris,” a little farther on than the
place last quoted (p. 311), goes on to say, “At the end of the month
of September, and after, when hawking of quails and partridges is
over, and even in winter, you may hawk at magpies, at jackdaws, at
teal, which are in river, or others, ... at blackbirds, thrushes,
jays, and woodcocks; and for this purpose you may carry a bow and a
bolt, in order that, when the blackbird takes shelter in a bush, and
dare not quit it for the hawk which hovers over and watches it, the
lady or damsel who knows how to shoot may kill it with the bolt.” The
manuscript which has furnished us with the preceding illustrations
gives us the accompanying sketch (No. 207) of a lady shooting with her
bolt, or _boujon_ (as it was termed in French),--an arrow with a large
head, for striking birds; but in this instance she is aiming not at
birds, but at rabbits. Archery was also a favourite recreation with the
ladies in the middle ages, and it no doubt is in itself an extremely
good exercise, in a gymnastic point of view. The fair shooters seem to
have employed bolts more frequently than the sharp-headed arrows; but
there is no want of examples in the illuminated manuscripts in which
females are represented as using the sharp-headed arrow, and sometimes
they are seen shooting at deer. This custom prevailed during a long
period, and is alluded to not unfrequently at so late a date as the
sixteenth century. We learn from Leland’s “Collectanea” (vol. iv. p.
278), that when the princess Margaret, daughter of Henry VII., was on
her way to Scotland, a hunting-party was got up for her in the park at
Alnwick, and that she killed a buck with an arrow. Similar feats were
at times performed by queen Elizabeth; but she seems to have preferred
the cross-bow to the long-bow. The scene represented in our cut No.
208 is from the same manuscript; the relative proportions of the dog
and the rabbit seem to imply a satirical aim. Our next cut (No. 209),
taken from MS. Reg. 2 B. vii., represents ladies hunting the stag. One,
on horseback, is winding the horn and starting the game, in which the
other plants her arrow most skilfully and scientifically. The dog used
on this occasion is intended to be a greyhound.

[Illustration: _No. 208. The Lady at the Rabbit-Warren._]

[Illustration: _No. 209. Ladies Hunting the Stag._]

It must be remarked that, in all the illuminations of the period we
are describing, which represent ladies engaged in hunting or hawking,
when on horseback they are invariably and unmistakeably represented
riding astride. This is evidently the case in this group (No. 209).
It has been already shown, in former chapters, that from a very early
period it was a usual custom with the ladies to ride sideways, or with
side-saddles. Most of the mediæval artists were so entirely ignorant
of perspective, and they were so much tied to conventional modes of
representing things, that when, no doubt, they intended to represent
ladies riding sideways, the latter seem often as if they were riding
astride. But in many instances, and especially in the scenes of hunting
and hawking, there can be no doubt that they were riding in the
latter fashion; and it is probable that they were taught to ride both
ways, the side-saddle being considered the most courtly, while it was
considered safer to sit astride in the chase. A passage has been often
quoted from Gower’s “Confessio Amantis,” in which a troop of ladies
is described, all mounted on fair white ambling horses, with splendid
saddles, and it is added that “everichone (_every one_) ride on side,”
which probably means that this was the most fashionable style of
riding. But, as shown in a former chapter (p. 72), it has been rather
hastily assumed that this is a proof that it was altogether a new
fashion. Our next cut (No. 210), taken from a manuscript in the French
National Library (No. 7178), of the fourteenth century, represents two
ladies riding in the modern fashion, except that the left leg appears
to be raised very awkwardly; but this appearance we must perhaps
ascribe only to the bad drawing. It must be observed also that these
ladies are seated on the wrong side of the horse, which is probably an
error of the draughtsman. Perhaps there was a different arrangement of
the dress for the two modes of riding, although there was so little of
what we now call delicacy in the mediæval manners, that this would be
by no means necessary. Chaucer describes the Wife of Bath as wearing
spurs, and as enveloped in a “foot-mantle:”--

    _Uppon an amblere esely sche sat,_
    _Wymplid ful wel, and on hire heed an hat_
    _As brood as is a bocler, or a targe;_
    _A foot-mantel aboute hire hupes_ (hips) _large,_
    _And on hire feet a paire of spores scharpe_.
                              --Cant. Tales, l. 471.

[Illustration: _No. 210. Ladies Riding._]

Travelling on horseback was now more common than at an earlier period,
and this was not unfrequently a subject of popular complaint. In
fact, men who rode on horseback considered themselves much above
the pedestrians; they often went in companies, and were generally
accompanied with grooms, and other riotous followers, who committed all
sorts of depredations and violence on the peasantry in their way. A
satirical song of the latter end of the reign of Edward I., represents
our Saviour as discouraging the practice of riding. “While God was on
earth,” says the writer, “and wandered wide, what was the reason he
would not ride? Because he would not have a groom to go by his side,
nor the grudging (or discontent) of any gadling to jaw or to chide:”--

    _Whil God was on erthe_
        _And wondrede wyde,_
    _Whet wes the resoun_
        _Why he nolde ryde?_

    _For he nolde no groom_
        _To go by hys syde,_
    _Ne grucchyng of no gedelyng_
        _To chaule ne to chyde._

[Illustration: _No. 211. An Abbot travelling._]

“Listen to me, horsemen,” continues this satirist, “and I will tell you
news--that ye shall hang, and be lodged in hell:”--

    _Herkneth hideward, horsmen,_
        _A tidyng ich ou telle,_
    _That ye shulen hongen,_
        _Ant herbarewen in helle!_

The clergy were great riders, and abbots and monks are not unfrequently
figured on horseback. Our cut No. 211 (from MS. Cotton, Nero, D. vii.)
represents an abbot riding, with a hat over his hood; he is giving his
benediction in return to the salute of some passing traveller.

[Illustration: _No. 212. A Knight and his Steed._]

The knight still carried his spear with him in travelling, as the
footman carried his staff. In our cut No. 212, from a manuscript of the
fourteenth century in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris (No. 6963),
the rider, though not armed, carries his spear with him. The saddle in
this instance is singularly and rather rudely formed. It was a great
point of vanity in the middle ages in England to hang the caparisons
of the horse with small bells, which made a jingling noise. In the
romance of “Richard Cœur de Lion” (Weber ii. 60), a messenger coming to
king Richard has no less than five hundred such bells suspended to his

    _His trappys wer off tuely sylke,_
    _With five hundred belles rygande._

And again, in the same romance (vol. ii. p. 223), we are told, in
speaking of the sultan of “Damas,” that his horse was well furnished in
this respect--

    _Hys crouper heeng al fulle off belles,_
    _And hys peytrel, and hys arsoun;_
    _Three myle myghte men here the soun._

The bridle, however, was the part of the harness usually loaded with
bells, and, according to Chaucer, it was a vanity especially affected
by the monks; for the poet tells us of his monk, that--

    _Whan he rood, men might his bridel heere_
    _Gyngle in a whistlyng wynd so cleere,_
    _And eek as lowde as doth the chapel belle._
                         --Cant. Tales, l. 169.

The rider is seldom furnished with a whip, because he urged his steed
forward with his spurs; but female riders and persons of lower degree
have often whips, which generally consist of several lashes, each
having usually a knob at the end. Such a whip is seen in our cut No.
213, taken from a manuscript of the thirteenth century in the British
Museum (MS. Arundel. No. 91), which represents a countryman driving a
horse of burthen; and he not only uses the whip, but he tries further
to urge him on by twisting his tail. A whip with one lash--rather
an unusual example--is in the hand of the woman driving the cart in
our cut No. 214, which is taken from a manuscript of the romance of
“Meliadus,” in the French National Library (No. 6961), belonging to the
fourteenth century. The lady here is also evidently riding astride. The
cart in which she is carrying home the wounded knight is of a simple
and rude construction. As yet, indeed, carriages for travelling were
very little in use; and to judge by the illuminations, they were only
employed for kings and very powerful nobles in ceremonial processions.

[Illustration: _No. 213. A Horsewhip._]

The horse was, after a man’s own limbs, his primary agent of
locomotion. Perhaps no animal is so intimately mixed up with the
history of mankind as the horse--certainly none more so. Our
Anglo-Saxon forefathers travelled much on foot, and, as far as we
know, the great importance in which the horse was held in the middle
ages in this part of the world, began with feudalism, and the best
and most celebrated breed of horses in Europe, from the earliest ages
of chivalry, was brought from the East. The heroes of early romance
and poetry are generally mounted on _Arab_ steeds, and these have
often the additional merit of having been won by conquest from the
Saracens. In the thirteenth century they were obtained from Turkey
and Greece; and at a later period from Barbary. France, also, had
its native breed, which enjoyed a high reputation for many valuable
qualities, and especially for its fierceness in war; Gascony, and, on
the other side of the Spanish frontier, Castile and Aquitaine, were
much celebrated for their horses. The Gascons prided themselves much
on their horses, and they displayed this pride sometimes in a very
singular manner. In 1172, Raymond de Venous, count of Toulouse, held
a grand _cour plénière_, and, as a display of ostentation, caused
thirty of his horses to be burnt in presence of the assembly. It was
a fine example of the barbarity of feudalism. At the provincial synod
of Auch, held in 1303, it was ordered that archdeacons, when they made
their diocesan circuits, should not go with more than five horses,
which shows that the Gascon clergy were in the habit of making a great
display of cavalry. It appears that at this early period the best
horses were imported into England from Bordeaux. It may be mentioned,
in passing, that the male horse only was ridden by knights or people of
any distinction, and that to ride a mare was always looked upon as a
degradation. This seems to have been an old Teutonic prejudice, perhaps
a religious superstition.

[Illustration: _No. 214. Lady and Cart._]

The kinds of horses most commonly mentioned in the feudal ages are
named in French (which was the language of feudalism), the _palefroi_,
or palfrey, the _dextrier_, the _roncin_, and the _sommier_. The
_dextrier_, or _destrier_, was the ordinary war-horse; the _roncin_
belonged especially to the servants and attendants; and the _sommier_
carried the luggage. Ladies especially rode the palfrey. The Orkney
islands appear to have been celebrated for their _dextriers_. The
Isle of Man seems also to have produced a celebrated breed of horses.
Brittany was celebrated for its palfreys. The _haquenée_, or hackney,
of the middle ages, appears to have been especially reserved for
females. England seems not to have been celebrated for its horses in
the middle ages, and the horses of value possessed by the English
kings and great nobles were, in almost all cases, imported from the
Continent. The ordinary prices of horses in England in the reign of
Edward I., was from one to ten pounds, but choice animals were valued
much higher. When St. Louis returned to France from his captivity, the
abbot of Cluny presented to the king and the queen each a horse, the
value of which Joinville estimates at five hundred livres, equivalent
to about four hundred pounds of our present English money. These must
have been horses which possessed some very extraordinary qualities,
as the price is quite out of proportion to that of other horses at
the same period. In the charters published by M. Guérard, horses are
valued at forty sols, and at three pounds at various periods during
the eleventh century. In 1202, two _roncins_ are valued at thirty
sols each, another at forty, two at fifty each, and two at sixty; the
_roncin_ of an arbalester at sixty sols; a _sommier_, or baggage-horse,
at forty sols; and three horses, of which the kind is not specified,
at six pounds each. These appear to have been the ordinary prices at
that period; for, though prices of horses are mentioned as high as
thirty-four, thirty-five, and forty pounds, these were only possessed
or given as presents by kings. The value of horses went on rising
through the thirteenth century, until Philippe le Hardi found it
necessary to fix it by an _ordonnance_, which limited the price which
any man, whether lay or clergy, however rich, might give for a palfrey,
to sixty pounds _tournois_, and that to be given by a squire for a
_roncin_ to twenty pounds. The prices of horses appear not to have
varied much from this during the fourteenth century. In the middle of
the century following the prices rose much higher.

Of the colours of horses, in the middle ages, white seems to have been
prized most highly, and after that dapple-gray and bay or chestnut.
The same colours were in favour among the Arabs. One of the poets of
the thirteenth century, Jean Bodel, describes a choice Gascon horse
as follows:--“His hair,” he says, “was more shining than the plumage
of a peacock; his head was lean, his eye gray like a falcon, his
breast large and square, his crupper broad, his thigh round, and his
rump tight. They who saw it said that they had never seen a handsomer
animal.” The food given to horses in the middle ages seems to have
been much the same as at the present day. In 1435 the queen of Navarre
gave carrots to her horses. Although the mediæval knight resembled
the Arab in his love for his horse, yet the latter was often treated
hardly and even cruelly, and the practice of horsemanship was painful
to the rider and to the horse. To be a skilful rider was a first-rate
accomplishment. One of the feats of horsemanship practised ordinarily
was to jump into the saddle, in full armour:--

    _No foot Fitzjames in stirrup staid,_
    _No grasp upon the saddle laid;_
    _But wreath’d his left hand in the mane,_
    _And lightly bounded from the plain._

Though horse-races are mentioned in two of the earliest of the French
metrical romances, those of “Renaud de Montauban,” and of “Aiol,” they
seem never to have been practised in France until very recently, when
they were introduced in imitation of the English fashion. Post-horses
were first introduced in France during the reign of Henry II., that is,
in the middle of the sixteenth century.

Great importance was placed in the breeding of horses in the middle
ages. Charlemagne, in the regulations for the administration of his
private domains, gives particular directions for the care of his
brood-mares and stallions. Normandy appears to have been famous for its
studs of horses in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, and documents
show that the monks took good care rigorously to exact the tithes of
their produce to stock the monastic stables. Traces of the existence
of similar studs are found also in other parts of France. At this time
a horse was considered the handsomest present that could be made by
a king or a great lord, and horses were often given as bribes. Thus,
in 1227, the monks of the abbey of Troarn obtained from Guillaume
de Tilli the ratification of a grant made to them by his father in
consideration of a gift to him of a mark of silver and a palfrey; and
the monks of St. Evroul, in 1165, purchased a favour of the English
earl of Gloucester by presenting to him two palfreys estimated to be
worth twenty pounds of money of Anjou. Kings frequently received horses
as presents from their subjects. The widow of Herbert du Mesnil gave
king John of England a palfrey to obtain the wardship of her children;
and one Geoffrey Fitz-Richard gave the same monarch a palfrey for a
concession in the forest of Beaulieu. In 1172, Raimond, count of St.
Gilles, having become the vassal of the king of England, engaged to pay
him an annual tribute of a hundred marks of silver, or ten _dextriers_,
worth at least ten marks each. The English studs appear already in the
thirteenth century to have become remarkable for their excellence.

Travelling, in the middle ages, was assisted by few, it any,
conveniences, and was dangerous as well as difficult. The insecurity
of the roads made it necessary for travellers to associate together
for protection, as well as for company, for their journeys were slow
and dull; and as they were often obliged to halt for the night where
there was little or no accommodation, they had to carry a good deal
of luggage. An inn was often the place of rendezvous for travellers
starting upon the same journey. It is thus that Chaucer represents
himself as having taken up his quarters at the Tabard, in Southwark,
preparatory to undertaking the journey to Canterbury; and at night
there arrived a company of travellers bent to the same destination,
who had gathered together as they came along the road:--

    _At night was come into that hostelrie_
    _Wel nyne and twenty in a companye,_
    _Of sondry folk, by aventure ifalle_
    _In felaschipe._
                      --Cant. Tales, l. 23.

Chaucer obtains the consent of the rest to his joining their
fellowship, which, as he describes it, consisted of persons most
dissimilar in class and character. The host of the Tabard joins the
party also, and it is agreed that, to enliven the journey, each, in his
turn, shall tell a story on the way. They then sup at a common table,
drink wine, and go to bed; and at daybreak they start on their journey.
They travelled evidently at a slow pace; and at Boughton-under-Blee--a
village a few miles from Canterbury--a canon and his yeoman, after
some hard riding, overtake them, and obtain permission to join the
company. It would seem that the company had passed a night somewhere
on the road, probably at Rochester,--and we should, perhaps, have had
an account of their reception and departure, had the collection of the
“Canterbury Tales” been completed by their author,--and that the canon
sent his yeoman to watch for any company of travellers who should halt
at the hostelry, that he might join them, but he had been too late to
start with them, and had, therefore, ridden hard to overtake them:--

    _His yeman eek was ful of curtesye,_
    _And seid, “Sires, now in the morwe tyde_
    _Out of your ostelry I saugh you ryde,_
    _And warned heer my lord and soverayn,_
    _Which that to ryden with yow is ful fayn,_
    _For his disport; he loveth daliaunce.”_
                      --Cant. Tales, l. 12,515.

A little further on, on the road, the Pardoner is called upon to tell
his tale. He replies--

    _“It schal be doon,” quod he, “and that anoon._
    _But first,” quod he, “here, at this ale-stake,_
    _I will both drynke and byten on a cake.”_
                                --Ibid., l. 13,735.

[Illustration: _No. 215. A Pilgrim at the Ale-Stake._]

[Illustration: _No. 216. The Road-side Inn._]

The road-side ale-house, where drink was sold to travellers, and to
the country-people of the neighbourhood, was scattered over the more
populous and frequented parts of the country from an early period, and
is not unfrequently alluded to in popular writers. It was indicated by
a stake projecting from the house, on which some object was hung for a
sign, and is sometimes represented in the illuminations of manuscripts.
Our cut No. 215, taken from a manuscript of the fourteenth century,
in the British Museum (MS. Reg. 10 E. iv.), represents one of those
ale-houses, at which a pilgrim is halting to take refreshment. The
keeper of the ale-house, in this instance, is a woman, the ale-wife,
and the stake appears to be a besom. In another (No. 216), taken from a
manuscript copy of the “Moralization of Chess,” by Jacques de Cessoles,
of the earlier part of the fifteenth century (MS. Reg. 19 C. xi.), a
round sign is suspended on the stake, with a figure in the middle,
which may possibly be intended to represent a bush. A garland was not
unfrequently hung upon the stake; on this Chaucer, describing his
“sompnour,” says:--

    _A garland had he set upon his heed,_
    _As gret as it were for an ale-stake._
                   --Cant. Tales, l. 688.

A bush was still more common, and gave rise to the proverb that “good
wine needs no bush,” that is, it will be easily found out without any
sign to direct people to it. A bush suspended to the sign of a tavern
will be seen in our cut (No. 224) to the present chapter.

[Illustration: _No. 217. The Canterbury Pilgrims._]

Lydgate composed his poem of the “Storie of Thebes,” as a continuation
of Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales,” and in the prologue he describes
himself as arriving in Canterbury, while the pilgrims were there, and
accidentally taking up his lodging at the same inn. He thus seeks
and obtains permission to be one of the fellowship, and returns from
Canterbury in their company. Our cut No. 217, taken from a fine
manuscript of Lydgate’s poem (MS. Reg. 18 D. ii.), represents the
pilgrims leaving Canterbury, and is not only a good illustration of
the practice of travelling in companies, but it furnishes us with a
characteristic picture of a mediæval town.

This readiness of travellers to join company with each other was not
confined to any class of society, but was general among them all, and
not unfrequently led to the formation of friendships and alliances
between those who had previously been strangers to one another. In the
interesting romance of “Blonde of Oxford,” composed in the thirteenth
century, when Jean of Dammartin came to seek his fortune in England,
and was riding from Dover to London, attended by a faithful servant,
he overtook the earl of Oxford, who was on his way to London, with
a numerous retinue of armed followers. Jean, having learnt from the
earl’s followers who he was, introduced himself to him, and was finally
taken into his service. Subsequently, in the same romance, Jean of
Dammartin, returning to England, takes up his lodging in a handsome
hotel in London, and while his man Robin puts the horses in the stable,
he walks out into the street, and sees a large company who had just
arrived, consisting of squires, servants, knights, clerks, priests,
serving-lads (_garçons_), and men who attended the baggage horses
(_sommiers_). Jean asked one of the esquires who they all were, what
was their business, and where they were going; and was informed that it
was the earl of Gloucester, who had come to London about some business,
and was going on the morrow to Oxford, to be married to the lady
Blonde, the object of Jean’s affections. Next morning the earl began
his journey at daybreak, and Jean and his servant, who were mounted
ready, joined the company. There was so little unusual in this, that
the intruders seem, for a while, not to have been noticed, until, at
length, the earl observed Jean, and began to interrogate him: “Friend,”
said he, “you are welcome; what is your name?”--

    _Amis, bien fustes vené,_
    _Coment fu vostre non pelé?_
        --Romance of Blonde, l. 2,627.

Jean gave him an assumed name, said he was a merchant, and offered to
sell the earl his horse, but they could not agree upon the terms. They
continued conversing together during the rest of the journey. As they
proceeded they encountered a shower of rain, which wetted the earl, who
was fashionably and thinly clothed. Jean smiled at the impatience with
which he seemed to bear this mishap, and when asked to tell the cause
of his mirth, said, “If I were a rich man, like you, I should always
carry a house with me, so that I could go into it when the rain came,
and not get my clothes dirtied and wet.” The earl and his followers set
Jean down for a fool, and looked forward to be made merry by him. Soon
afterwards they came to the banks of a river, into which the earl rode,
without first ascertaining if it were fordable, and he was carried
away by the stream, and only saved from drowning by a fisherman in a
boat. The rest of the company found a ford, where they passed the river
without danger. The earl’s clothes had now been completely soaked in
the water, and, as his baggage-horses were too far in the rear, he made
one of his knights strip, and give him his dry clothes, and left him
to make the best of his wet ones. “If I were as rich, and had so many
men, as you,” said Jean, laughing again, “I would not be exposed to
misfortunes of this kind, for I would carry a bridge with me.” The earl
and his retinue were merry again, at what they supposed to be the folly
of their travelling companion. They were now near Oxford, and Jean took
his leave of the earl of Gloucester. We learn, in the course of the
story, that all that Jean meant by the house, was that the earl ought
to have had at hand a good cloak and cape to cover his fine clothes in
case of rain; and that, by the bridge, he intended to intimate that he
ought to have sent some of his men to ascertain the depth of the river
before he went into it!

These illustrations of the manner and inconveniences of travelling
apply more especially to those who could travel on horseback; but the
difficulties were still greater for the numerous class of people who
were obliged to travel on foot, and who could rarely make sure of
reaching, at the end of each day’s journey, a place where they could
obtain a lodging. They, moreover, had also to take with them a certain
quantity of baggage. Foot-travellers seem to have had sometimes a mule
or a donkey, to carry luggage, or for the weak women and children.
Every one will remember the mediæval fable of the old man and his
ass, in which a father and his son have the one ass between them. In
mediæval illuminations representing the flight into Egypt, Joseph is
often represented as walking, while the Virgin and Child ride upon
an ass which he is leading. The party of foot-travellers in our cut
No. 218, taken from a manuscript of the beginning of the fourteenth
century (MS. Reg. 2 B. vii.), forms part of a group representing the
relatives of Thomas Beckett driven into exile by king Henry II.; they
are making their way to the sea-shore on foot, perhaps to show that
they were not of very high condition in life.

[Illustration: _No. 218. Travellers on Foot._]

In Chaucer, it is a matter of surprise that the “chanoun” had so little
luggage that he carried only a male, or portmanteau, on his horse’s
crupper, and even that was doubled up (_tweyfold_) on account of its

    _A male tweyfold on his croper lay,_
    _It seemed that he caried litel array,_
    _Al light for somer rood this worthy man._
                    --Cant. Tales, l. 12,494.

On the contrary, in the romance of “Berte,” when the heroine is left to
wander in the solitary forest, the writer laments that she had “neither
pack-horse laden with coffers, nor clothes folded up in males,” which
were the ordinary accompaniments of travellers of any consequence:--

    _N’i ot sommier à coffres ne dras troussés en male._
                               --Roman de Berte, p. 42.

A traveller, indeed, had many things to carry with him. He took
provisions with him, or was obliged, at times, to reckon on what he
could kill, or obtain undressed, and hence he was obliged to carry
cooking apparatus with him. He carried flint and steel to strike a
light, and be able to make a fire, as he might have to bivouac in a
solitary place, or in the midst of a forest. In the romance of “Garin
le Loherain,” when the count Begues of Belin finds himself benighted in
the forest, he prepares for passing the night comfortably, and, as a
matter of course, draws out his flint (_fusil_), and lights a fire:--

    _Et li quens est desous l’arbre ramé;_
    _Prent son fusil, s’a le fu alumé,_
    _Grant et plenier, merveilleus embrasé._
          --Garin le Loherain, ii., p. 231.

The traveller also often carried materials for laying a bed, if
benighted on the road; and he had, above all, to take sufficient money
with him in specie. He sometimes also carried a portable tent with
him, or materials for making one. In the English romance of “Ipomydon”
(Weber, ii. 343), the maiden messenger of the heiress of Calabria
carries her tent with her, and usually lodges at night under it--

    _As they rode by the way,_
    _The mayde to the dwarfe gan saye,_
    _“Undo my tente, and sette it faste,_
    _For here a whyle I wille me ryste.”_
    _Mete and drynke bothe they had,_
    _That was fro home with them lad._

It may be remarked that in this story the first thought of every
gallant knight who passes is to treat the lady with violence. All
these incumbrances, combined with the badness of the roads, rendered
travelling slow--of which we might quote abundant examples. At the
end of the twelfth century, it took Giraldus Cambrensis four days to
travel from Powisland to Haughmond Abbey, near Shrewsbury. The roads,
too, were infested with robbers and banditti, and travellers were only
safe in their numbers, and in being sufficiently well armed to repel
attacks. In the accompanying cut (No. 219), from a manuscript of the
fourteenth century (MS. Reg. 10 E. iv.), a traveller is taking his
repose under a tree,--it is, perhaps, intended to be understood that
he is passing the night in a wood,--while he is plundered by robbers,
who are here jokingly represented in the forms of monkeys. While one
is emptying his “male” or box, the other is carrying off his girdle,
with the large pouch attached to it, in which, no doubt, the traveller
carried his money, and perhaps his eatables. The insecurity of the
roads in the middle ages was, indeed, very great, for not only were
the forests filled with bands of outlaws, who stripped all who fell
into their hands, but the knights and landed gentry, and even noblemen,
took to the highways not unfrequently, and robbed unscrupulously.
Moreover, they built their castles near difficult passes, or by a river
where there was a bridge or ford, and where, therefore, they commanded
it, and there they levied arbitrary taxes on all who passed, and,
on the slightest attempt at resistance, plundered the traveller of
his property, and put him to death or threw him into their dungeons.
Incidents of this kind are common in the mediæval romances and
stories. Piers de Bruville, in the history of Fulke Fitz-Warine, may
be mentioned as an example of this class of marauders. “At that time,”
says the story, “there was a knight in the country who was called Piers
de Bruville. This Piers used to collect all the sons of gentlemen of
the country who were wild, and other ribald people, and used to go
about the country, and slew and robbed loyal people, merchants, and
others.” In the fabliau of the “Chevalier au Barizel,” we are told of
a great baron who issued continually from his strong castle to plunder
the country around. “He watched so closely the roads, that he slew all
the pilgrims, and plundered the merchants; many of them he brought
to mishap. He spared neither clergy nor monk, recluse, hermit, or
canon; and the nuns and lay-sisters he caused to live in open shame,
when he had them in his power; and he spared neither dames nor maids,
of whatever rank or class, whether poor or rich, or well educated or
simple, but he put them all to open shame” (Barbazan, i. 209).

[Illustration: _No. 219. Plundering a Traveller._]

The roads, in the middle ages, appear also to have been infested
with beggars of all descriptions, many of whom were cripples, and
persons mutilated in the most revolting manner, the result of feudal
wantonness, and of feudal vengeance. Our cut No. 220, also furnished
by a manuscript of the fourteenth century, represents a very deformed
cripple, whose means of locomotion are rather curious. The beggar and
the cripple, too, were often only robbers in disguise, who waited their
opportunity to attack single passengers, or who watched to give notice
to comrades of the approach of richer convoys. The mediæval popular
stories give abundant instances of robbers and others disguising
themselves as beggars and cripples. Blindness, also, was common among
these objects of commiseration in the middle ages; often, as in the
case of mutilation of other kinds, the result of deliberate violence.
The same manuscript I have so often quoted (MS. Reg. 10 E. iv.), has
furnished our cut No. 221, representing a blind man and his dog.

[Illustration: _No. 220. A Cripple._]

[Illustration: _No. 221. A Blind Man and Dog._]

It will be easily understood, that when travelling was beset with so
many inconveniences, private hospitality would be looked upon as one of
the first of virtues, for people were often obliged to have recourse
to it, and it was seldom refused. In the country every man’s door was
open to the stranger who came from a distance, unless his appearance
were suspicious or threatening. In this there was a mutual advantage;
for the guest generally brought with him news and information which
was highly valued at a time when communication between one place and
another was so slow and uncertain. Hence the first questions put to
a stranger were, whence he had come, and what news he had brought
with him. The old romances and tales furnish us with an abundance
of examples of the widespread feeling of hospitality that prevailed
during the middle ages. Even in the middle and lower classes, people
were always ready to share their meals with the stranger who asked
for a lodging. The denial of such hospitality was looked upon as
exceptional and disgraceful, and was only met with from misers and
others who were regarded as almost without the pale of society. The
early metrical story of “The Hermit,” the foundation of Parnell’s poem,
gives us examples of the different sorts of hospitality with which
travellers met. The hermit and his companion began their travels in a
wild country, and at the end of their first day’s journey, they were
obliged to take up their lodgings with another hermit, who gave them
the best welcome he could, and shared his provisions with them. The
next evening they came to a city, where everybody shut his door against
them, because they were poor, till at length, weary and wet with rain,
they sat down on the stone steps of a great mansion; but the host was
an usurer, and refused to receive into his house men who promised him
so little profit. Yet at length, to escape their importunities, he
allowed them to enter the yard, and sleep under a staircase, where
his maid threw them some straw to lie upon, but neither offered them
refreshment, except some of the refuse of the table, nor allowed them
to go to a fire to dry their clothes. The next evening they sought
their lodging in a large abbey, where the monks received them with
great hospitality, and gave them plenty to eat and drink. On the fourth
day they came to another town, where they went to the house of a rich
and honest burgher, who also received them with all the marks of
hospitality. Their host washed their feet, and gave them plenty to eat
and drink, and they were comfortably lodged for the night.

It would not be difficult to illustrate all the incidents of this
story by anecdotes of mediæval life. The traveller who sought a
lodging, without money to pay for it, even in private houses, was not
always well received. In the fabliau of the “Butcher of Abbeville”
(Barbazan, iv. 1), the butcher, returning from the market of Oisemont,
is overtaken by night at the small town of Bailleuil. He determined
to stop for the night there, and, seeing a poor woman at her door, at
the entrance of the town, he inquired where he could ask for a night’s
lodging, and she recommended him to the priest, as the only person in
the town who had wine in his cellar. The butcher accordingly repaired
to the priest’s house, where he found that ecclesiastic sitting on the
sill of his door, and asked him to give him a lodging for the sake of
charity. The priest, who thought that there was nothing to be gained
from him, refused, telling him he would find plenty of people in the
town who could give him a bed. As the butcher was leaving the town,
irritated by his inhospitable reception, he encountered a flock of
sheep, which he learnt were the property of the priest; whereupon,
selecting the fattest of them, he dextrously stole it away unperceived,
and, returning with it into the town, he went to the priest’s door,
found him just closing his house, for it was nightfall, and again
asked him for lodging. The priest asked him who he was, and whence
he came. He replied that he had been to the market at Oisemont, and
bought a sheep; that he was overtaken by night, and sought a lodging;
and that, as it was no great consideration to him, he intended to kill
his sheep, and share it with his host. The temptation was too great
for the greedy priest, and he now received the butcher into his house,
treated him with great respect, and had a bed made for him in his hall.
Now the priest had--as was common with the Catholic priesthood--a
concubine and a maid-servant, and they all regaled themselves on the
butcher’s sheep. Before the guest left next morning, he contrived to
sell the sheep’s skin and wool for certain considerations severally to
the concubine and to the maid, and, after his departure, their rival
claims led to a quarrel, and even to a battle. While the priest, on
his return from the service of matins, was labouring to appease the
combatants, his shepherd entered, with the information that his best
sheep had been stolen from his flock, and an examination of the skin
led to the discovery of the trick which had been played upon him--a
punishment, as we are told, which he well merited by his inhospitable
conduct. A Latin story of the thirteenth century may be coupled with
the foregoing anecdote. There was an abbot who was very miserly and
inhospitable, and he took care to give all the offices in the abbey
to men of his own character. This was especially the case with the
monk who had the direction of the _hospitium_, or guest-house. One day
came a minstrel to ask for a lodging, but he met with an unfriendly
reception, was treated only with black bread and water to drink, and
was shown to a hard bed of straw. Minstrels were not usually treated
in this inhospitable manner, and our guest resolved to be revenged. He
left the abbey next morning, and a little way on his journey he met
the abbot, who was returning home from a short absence. “God bless
you, good abbot!” he said, “for the noble hospitality which has been
shown to me this night by your monks. The master of your guest-house
treated me with the choicest wines, and placed rich dishes on the table
for me in such numbers, that I would not attempt to count them; and
when I came away this morning, he gave me a pair of shoes, a girdle,
and a knife.” The abbot hurried home in a furious rage, summoned the
offending brother before a chapter, accused him of squandering away the
property of the monastery, caused him to be flogged and dismissed from
his office, and appointed in his place another, in whose inhospitable
temper he could place entire confidence.

These cases of want of hospitality were, however, exceptions to the
general rule. A stranger was usually received with great kindness, each
class of society, of course, more or less by its own class, though,
under such circumstances, much less distinction of class was made than
we might suppose. The aristocratic class, which included what we should
now call the gentry, sought hospitality in the nearest castle; for a
castle, as a matter of pride and ostentation, was, more or less, like
an abbey, a place of hospitality for everybody. Among the richer and
more refined classes, great care was taken to show proper courtesy to
strangers, according to their rank. In the case of a knight, the lord
of the house and his lady, with their damsels, led him into a private
room, took off his armour, and often his clothes, and gave him a
change of apparel, after careful ablution. A scene of this kind is
represented in the accompanying cut (No. 222), taken from a manuscript
of the romance of “Lancelot,” of the fourteenth century, in the
National Library in Paris (No. 6956). The host or his lady sometimes
washed the stranger’s feet themselves. Thus, in the fabliau quoted
above, when the hermit and his companion sought a lodging at the house
of a _bourgeois_, they were received without question, and their hosts
washed their feet, and then gave them plenty to eat and drink, and a

    _Li hoste orent leur piez lavez,_
    _Bien sont peu et abreviez;_
    _Jusqu’ au jor à ese se jurent._

We might easily multiply extracts illustrative of this hospitable
feeling, as it existed and was practised from the twelfth century
to the fifteenth. Our cut No. 223, taken from a manuscript of the
earlier part of the fourteenth century (MS. Harl. No. 1527), is another
representation of the reception of a stranger in this hospitable
manner. In the “Roman de la Violette” (p. 233), when its hero, Gerard,
sought a lodging at a castle, he was received with the greatest
hospitality; the lord of the castle led him into the great hall, and
there disarmed him, furnished him with a rich mantle, and caused him to
be bathed and washed. In the same romance (p. 237), when Gerard arrives
at the little town of Mouzon, he goes to the house of a widow to ask
for a night’s lodging, and is received with the same welcome. His
horse is taken into a stable, and carefully attended to, while the lady
labours to keep him in conversation until supper is ready, after which
a good bed is made for him, and they all retire to rest. The comforts,
however, which could be offered to the visitor, consisted often chiefly
in eating and drinking. People had few spare chambers, especially
furnished ones, and, in the simplicity of mediæval manners, the guests
were obliged to sleep either in the same room as the family, or, more
usually, in the hall, where beds were made for them on the floor or on
the benches. “Making a bed” was a phrase true in its literal sense,
and the bed made consisted still of a heap of straw, with a sheet or
two thrown over it. The host, indeed, could often furnish no more than
a room of bare walls and floor as a protection from the weather, and
the guest had to rely as much upon his own resources for his personal
comforts, as if he had had to pass the night in the midst of a wild
wood. Moreover the guests, however numerous and though strangers to
each other, were commonly obliged to sleep together indiscriminately in
the same room.

[Illustration: _No. 222. Receiving a Stranger._]

[Illustration: _No. 223. Receiving a Guest._]

The old Anglo-Saxon feeling, that the duration of the chance visit of
a stranger should be limited to the third day, seems still to have
prevailed. A Latin rhyme, printed in the “Reliquiæ Antiquæ” (i. 91),
tells us,--

    _Verum dixit anus, quod piscis olet triduanus;_
    _Ejus de more simili fætet hospes odore._

In towns the hospitality of the burghers was not always given gratis,
for it was a common custom, even among the richer merchants, to
make a profit by receiving guests. These letters of lodgings were
distinguished from the inn-keepers, or _hostelers_, by the title of
_herbergeors_, or people who gave harbour to strangers, and in the
larger towns they were submitted to municipal regulations. The great
barons and knights were in the custom of taking up their lodgings with
these herbergeors, rather than going to the public hostels; and thus
a sort of relationship was formed between particular nobles or kings
and particular burghers, on the strength of which the latter adopted
the arms of their habitual lodgers as their signs. These herbergeors
practised great extortions upon their accidental guests, and they
appear to have adopted various artifices to allure them to their
houses. These extortions are the subject of a very curious Latin poem
of the thirteenth century, entitled “Peregrinus” (the Traveller), the
author of which describes the arts employed to allure the traveller,
and the extortions to which he was subjected. It appears that persons
were employed to look out for the arrival of strangers, and that they
entered into conversation with them, pretended to discover that they
came from the same part of the country, and then, as taking especial
interest in their fellow-countrymen, recommended them to lodgings.
These tricks of the burghers who let their lodgings for hire are
alluded to in other mediæval writers. It appears, also, that both in
these lodging-houses and in the public inns, it was not an unusual
practice to draw people into contracting heavy bills, which they had
not the money to pay, and then to seize their baggage and even their
clothes, to several times the amount of the debt.

[Illustration: _No. 224. A Hostelry at night._]

Our cut No. 224, taken from an illumination in the unique manuscript
of the Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles (fifteenth century), in the Hunterian
Library at Glasgow, represents the exterior and the interior of a
public hostel or inn. Without, we see the sign, and the bush suspended
to it, and a company of travellers arriving; within, the bed-chambers
are represented, and they illustrate not only the practice of lodging
a number of persons in the same bedroom, but also that of sleeping
in a state of perfect nudity. Our next cut (No. 225) is a picture
of a mediæval tapster; it is taken from one of the carved seats, or
misereres, in the fine parish church of Ludlow, in Shropshire. It will,
probably, be remarked that the size of the tapster’s jug is rather
disproportionate to that of his barrel; but mediæval artists often set
perspective and relative proportions at defiance.

[Illustration: _No. 225. A Mediæval Tapster._]

The tavern in the middle ages seems to have been the usual scene of a
large portion of the ordinary life of the lower class of society, and
even partially of the middle class, and its influence was certainly
very injurious on the manners and character of the people. Even the
women, as we learn from a number of contemporary songs and stories,
spent much of their time drinking and gossiping in taverns, where great
latitude was afforded for carrying on low intrigues. The tavern was, in
fact, the general rendezvous of those who sought amusement, of whatever
kind. In the “Milleres Tale,” in Chaucer, Absolon, “that joly was
and gay,” and who excelled as a musician, frequented the taverns and
“brewhouses,” meaning apparently the lesser public-houses where they
only sold ale, to exhibit his skill--

    _In al the toun nas brewhous ne taverne_
    _That he ne visited with his solas,_
    _Ther as that any gaylard tapster was._
                   --Cant. Tales, l. 3,334.

And Chaucer’s friar was well acquainted with all the taverns in the
towns he visited--

    _He knew wel the tavernes in every toun,_
    _And every osteller or gay tapstere._
                             --Ibid., l. 240.

The tavern was especially the haunt of gamblers, who were encouraged by
the “tapster,” because they brought him his most profitable customers.
As I have said before, when his customers had no money, the taverner
took their articles of dress for payment, and in doing this he added
the profits of the money-lender to those of the taverner. In the
fabliau of “Gautier d’Aupais,” the young prodigal Gautier, hungry and
penniless, arrives towards evening at a tavern, where he finds a number
of guests enjoying themselves. His horse is taken to the stable, and
he joins the guests, but when the moment comes for paying, and the
taverner demands three sols, he is induced in his desperation to try
his luck at the dice. Instead, however, of retrieving his fortunes, he
loses his horse and his robe, and is obliged to return to his father’s
house on foot, and in his shirt--

    _Si a perdu sa robe et son corant destrier;_
    _En pure sa chemise l’en convint reperier._

The story of Cortois d’Arras, in the fabliau in “Barbazan” (i. 355),
is somewhat similar. Young Cortois, also a prodigal, obtains from his
father a large sum of money as a compensation for all his claims on the
paternal property, and with this throws himself upon the world. As he
proceeded, he heard the tavern-boy calling out from the door, “Here is
good wine of Soissons, acceptable to everybody! here credit is given
to everybody, and no pledges taken!” with much more in the same style.
Cortois determined to stop at the tavern. “Host,” said he, “how much do
you sell your wine the septier (a measure of two gallons)? and when was
it tapped?” He was told that it had been fresh tapped that morning, and
that the price was six deniers. The host then goes on to display his
accommodations. “Within are all sorts of comforts; painted chambers,
and soft beds, raised high with white straw, and made soft with
feathers; here within is hostel for love affairs, and when bed-time
comes you will have pillows of violets to hold your head more softly;
and, finally, you will have electuaries and rose-water, to wash your
mouth and your face.” Cortois orders a gallon of wine, and immediately
afterwards a _belle demoiselle_ makes her appearance, for such were in
these times reckoned among the attractions of the tavern. It is soon
arranged between the lady and the landlord that she is to be Cortois’
chamber-companion, and they all begin drinking together, the taverner
persuading his guest that he owes this choice wine to the lady’s love.
They then go to carouse in the garden, and they finish by plundering
him of his money, and he is obliged to leave his clothes in pledge for
the payment of his tavern expenses. The ale-wife was especially looked
upon as a model of extortion and deceit, for she cheated unblushingly,
both in money and measure, and she is pointed out in popular literature
as an object of hatred and of satire. Our cut No. 226, also furnished
by one of the carved misereres in Ludlow Church, represents a scene
from Doomsday: a demon is bearing away the deceitful ale-wife, who
carries nothing with her but her gay head-dress and her false measure;
he is going to throw her into “hell-mouth,” while another demon is
reading her offences as entered in his roll, and a third is playing on
the bagpipes, by way of welcome.

[Illustration: _No. 226. The Ale-Wife’s End._]



I put together in a short chapter two parts of my subject which may
at the first glance seem somewhat discordant, but which, I think, on
further consideration, will be found to be rather closely related--they
are, education and punishment for offences against the law. It can
hardly be doubted, indeed, that, as education becomes more general and
better regulated, if the necessity of punishment is not entirely taken
away, its cruelty is greatly diminished.

During the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, there was certainly a
general feeling of the necessity of extending and improving education.
It was during this period that our great universities rose into
existence, and flourished, and these schools, which provided for the
higher development of the mind, had their thousands of students,
instead of the hundreds who frequent them at the present day. But the
need of some provision for education was felt most in regard to that
less elevated degree of instruction which was required for the more
youthful mind,--in fact, it was long before the people of the middle
ages could be persuaded that literary education was of any use at
all, except for those who were to be made great scholars; the clergy
itself, unfortunately, did not see the necessity of popular education,
and although the schools in parish churches were long continued, they
appear to have been conducted more and more with negligence. It was the
mercantile class in the towns which made the first step in advance,
by the establishment of those foundations which have continued to the
present time under the name of grammar schools. These schools are
traced back to the thirteenth century, when the merchant guilds, by
whom they were founded, began to assume a greater degree of importance,
and they were usually intended for the general benefit of the town,
but were combined with an ecclesiastical establishment for performing
services for the souls of the members of the guilds, in consequence of
which, at the Reformation, they became involved in the superstitious
uses, and were dissolved and refounded in the reign of Edward VI., so
that they are now generally known as king Edward’s foundations. The
great object of these schools was to give the instruction necessary
for admission into the universities; and they were in some degree the
answer to an appeal which came deeply from the mass of the people,--for
there was at this time a great spontaneous eagerness for learning, both
for the sake of the learning itself, and because it was a road to high
distinction, which was not open to the masses in any other direction.
It was a very common practice for poor youths to go about the country
during vacation time, to beg money to keep them at school during term.
In Piers Ploughman, among the objects of legitimate charity, the writer
enumerates money given to--

        _Sette scolers to scole,_
    _Or to som othere craftes._
        --Piers Ploughman, Vis., l. 4,525.

And in the popular complaints of the burden of taxation, involuntary
and voluntary, the alms given to poor scholars are often enumerated.

[Illustration: _No. 227. A Monk at his Studies._]

Independent, however, of what may be considered more especially as
scholarship, a considerable amount of instruction began now to be
spread abroad. Reading and writing were becoming much more general
accomplishments, especially among ladies. Among the amusements of
leisure hours, indeed, reading began now to occupy a much larger
place than had been given to it in former ages. Even still, popular
literature--in the shape of tales, and ballads and songs--was, in a
great measure, communicated orally. But much had been done during
the fourteenth century towards spreading a taste for literature and
knowledge; books were multiplied, and were extensively read; and wants
were already arising which soon led the way to that most important of
modern discoveries, the art of printing. Most gentlemen had now a few
books, and men of wealth had considerable libraries. The wills of
this period, still preserved, often enumerate the books possessed by
the testator, and show the high value which was set upon them. Many of
the illuminations of the fourteenth century present us with ingenious,
and sometimes fantastic, forms of book-cases and book-stands. In our
cut No. 227, from a manuscript of metrical relations of miracles of
the Virgin Mary, now preserved in the library of the city of Soissons
in France, we have a monk reading, seated before a book-stand, the
table of which moves up and down on a screw. Upon this table is the
inkstand, and below it apparently the inkbottle; and the table has in
itself receptacles for books and paper or parchment. In the wall of the
room are cupboards, also for the reception of books, as we see by one
lying loose in them. The man is here seated on a stool; but in our cut
No. 228, taken from a manuscript in the National Library in Paris (No.
6985), he is seated in a chair, with a writing-desk attached to it. The
scribe holds in his hand a pen, with which he is writing, and a knife
to scratch the parchment where anything may need erasion. The table
here is also of a curious construction, and it is covered with books.
Other examples are found, which show that considerable ingenuity was
employed in varying the forms of such library tables.

[Illustration: _No. 228. A Mediæval Writer._]

The next cut (No. 229) is taken from one of the illuminations to a
manuscript of the “Moralization of Chess,” by Jacques de Cessoles (MS.
Reg. 19 C. xi.), and is intended as a sort of figurative representation
of the industrial class of society. It is curious because the figure
is made to carry some of the principal implements of the chief trades
or manufactures, and thus gives us their ordinary forms. We need only
repeat the enumeration of these from the text. It is, we are told, a
man who holds in his right hand a pair of shears (_unes forces_); in
his left hand he has a great knife (_un grant coustel_); “and he must
have at his girdle an inkstand (_une escriptoire_), and on his ear a
pen for writing (_et sur l’oreille une penne à escripre_).” Accordingly
we see the ink-pot and the case for writing implements suspended at
the girdle, but by accident the pen does not appear on the ear in
our engraving. It is curious through how great a length of time the
practice of placing the pen behind the ear has continued in use.

[Illustration: _No. 229. Industry._]

The punishments of the middle ages are remarkable, still more so in
other countries than in England, for a mixture of a small amount of
feeling of strict justice with a very large proportion of the mere
feeling of vengeance. Savage ferocity in the commission of crime
led to no less savage cruelty in retaliation. We have seen, in a
former chapter, that this was not the sentiment of our Anglo-Saxon
forefathers, but that their criminal laws were extremely mild; but
after the Norman conquest, more barbarous feelings on this subject
were brought over from the Continent. Imprisonment itself, even before
trial, was made frightfully cruel; the dungeons into which the accused
were thrown were often filthy holes, sometimes with water running
through them, and, as a refinement in cruelty, loathsome reptiles were
bred in them, and the prisoners were not only allowed insufficient
food, but they were sometimes stripped naked, and thrown into prison in
that condition. In the early English romance of the “Seven Sages” (the
text printed by Weber), when the emperor was persuaded by his wife to
order her step-son for execution, he commanded that he should be taken,
stripped naked of his clothes, and then hanged aloft--

    _Quik he het_ (commanded) _his sone take,_
    _And spoili him of clothes nake,_
    _And beten him with scourges stronge,_
    _And afterward him hegge_ (high) _anhonge_.
                              --Weber, iii. 21.

At the intercession of one of the wise men, the youth is respited and
thrown into prison, but without his clothing; and when, on a subsequent
occasion, he was brought out of prison for judgment, he remained still

Our three cuts which follow illustrate the subject of mediæval
punishments for crimes and offences. The first (No. 230) is taken from
a well-known manuscript, in the British Museum, of the fourteenth
century (MS. Reg. 10 E. iv.), and represents a monk and a lady, whose
career has brought them into the stocks, an instrument of punishment
which has figured in some of our former chapters. It is a very old mode
of punishing offenders, and appears, under the Latin name of _cippus_,
in early records of the middle ages. An old English poem, quoted by Mr.
Halliwell in his Dictionary, from a manuscript at least as old as the
fifteenth century, recounting the punishments to which some misdoers
were condemned, says:--

    _And twenty of thes oder ay in a pytt,_
    _In stokkes and feturs for to sytt._

The stocks are frequently referred to in writers of the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries, and they have not yet become entirely obsolete.
The _Leeds Mercury_ for April 14, 1860, informs us that, “A notorious
character, named John Gambles, of Stanningley (Pudsey), having been
convicted some months ago for Sunday gambling, and sentenced to sit
in the stocks for six hours, left the locality, returned lately, and
suffered his punishment by sitting in the stocks from two till eight
o’clock on Thursday last.” They were formerly employed also, in place
of fetters, in the inside of prisons--no doubt in order to cause
suffering by irksome restraint; and this was so common that the Latin
term _cippus_, and the French _ceps_, were commonly used to designate
the prison itself. It may be remarked of these stocks, that they
present a peculiarity which we may perhaps call a primitive character.
They are not supported on posts, or fixed in any way to the spot, but
evidently hold the people who are placed in them in confinement merely
by their weight, and by the impossibility of walking with them on the
legs, especially when more persons than one are confined in them. This
is probably the way in which they were used in prisons.

[Illustration: _No. 230. A Party in the Stocks._]

[Illustration: _No. 231. An Offender Exposed to Public Shame._]

A material part of the punishment of the stocks, when employed in the
open air, consisted, of course, in the public disgrace to which the
victim was exposed. We might suppose that the shame of such exposure
was keenly felt in the middle ages, from the frequency with which it
was employed. This exposure before the public was, we know, originally,
the chief characteristic of the cucking-stool, for the process of
ducking the victim in the water seems to have been only added to it
at a later period. Our cut No. 231, taken from an illumination in the
unique manuscript of the “Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles,” in the Hunterian
Library, at Glasgow, represents a person thus exposed to the scorn and
derision of the populace in the executioner’s cart, which is drawn
through the streets of a town. To be carried about in a cart was always
considered as especially disgraceful, probably because it was thus
that malefactors were usually conducted to the gallows. In the early
romances of the cycle of king Arthur we have an incident which forms
an apt illustration of the prevalence of this feeling. Sir Lancelot,
when hastening to rescue his lady, queen Guenever, has the misfortune
to lose his horse, and, meeting with a carter, he seizes his cart as
the only means of conveyance, for the weight of his armour prevented
him from walking. Queen Guenever and her ladies, from a bay window
of the castle of sir Meliagraunce, saw him approach, and one of the
latter exclaimed, “See, madam, where as rideth in a cart a goodly armed
knight! I suppose that he rideth to hanging.” Guenever, however, saw
by his shield that it was sir Lancelot. “‘Ah, most noble knight,’ she
said, when she saw him in this condition, ‘I see well that thou hast
been hard bested, when thou ridest in a cart.’ Then she rebuked that
lady that compared him to one riding in a cart to hanging. ‘It was foul
mouthed,’ said the queen, ‘and evil compared, so to compare the most
noble knight of the world in such a shameful death. Oh Jhesu! defend
him and keep him,’ said the queen, ‘from all mischievous end.’”

Our next cut (No. 232) is taken from the same manuscript in the British
Museum which furnished us with No. 230. The playful draughtsman has
represented a scene from the world “upso-down,” in which the rabbits
(or perhaps hares) are leading to execution their old enemy the dog.

[Illustration: _No. 232. A Criminal drawn to the Gallows._]

The gallows and the wheel were instruments of execution of such common
use in the middle ages that they were continually before people’s eyes.
Every town, every abbey, and almost every large manorial lord, had the
right of hanging, and a gallows or tree with a man hanging upon it was
so frequent an object in the country that it seems to have been almost
a natural ornament of a landscape, and it is thus introduced by no
means uncommonly in mediæval manuscripts. The two examples given in our
cut No. 233 are taken from the illuminations in the manuscript of the
romance of the “Chevalereux comte d’Artois,” in the manuscript from
which this romance was printed by M. Barrois.

[Illustration: _No. 233. Mediæval Ornaments of the Landscape._]



I have spoken of the ceremonious forms of the service of the mediæval
table, but we are just now arrived at the period when we begin to have
full information on the composition of the culinary dishes in which our
ancestors indulged, and it will perhaps be well to give a brief summary
of that information as illustrative both of the period we have now been
considering, and of that which follows.

There is a part of the human frame, not very noble in itself, which,
nevertheless, many people are said to worship, and which has even
exercised at times a considerable influence over man’s destinies.
Gastrolatry, indeed, is a worship which, at one time or other, has
prevailed in different forms over all parts of the world--its history
takes an extensive range, and is not altogether without interest.
One of the first objects of search in a man who has just risen from
savage life to civilization is rather naturally refinement in his
food, and this desire more than keeps pace with the advance of general
refinement, until cookery becomes one of the most important of social
institutions. During all periods of which we read in history, great
public acts, of whatever kind, even to the consecration of a church,
have been accompanied with feasting; and the same rule holds good
throughout all the different phases of our social relations. The
materials for the history of eating are, indeed, abundant, and the
field is extensive.

William of Malmesbury, as we have seen before, tells us that the
Anglo-Saxons indulged in great feasting, and lived in very mean houses;
whereas the Normans eat with moderation, but built for themselves
magnificent mansions. Various allusions in old writers leave little
room for doubt that our Anglo-Saxon forefathers indulged in much
eating; but, as far as we can gather, for our information is very
imperfect, this indulgence consisted more in the quantity than in the
quality of the food, for their cookery seems to have been in general
what we call “plain.” Refinement in cookery appears to have come in
with the Normans; and from the twelfth century to the sixteenth we
can trace the love of the table continually increasing. The monks,
whose institution had, to a certain degree, separated them from the
rest of the world, and who usually, and from the circumstances perhaps
naturally, sought sensual gratifications, fell soon into the sin of
gluttony, and they seem to have led the way in refinement in the
variety and elaborate character of their dishes. Giraldus Cambrensis,
an ecclesiastic himself, complains in very indignant terms of the
luxurious table kept by the monks of Canterbury in the latter half of
the twelfth century; and he relates an anecdote which shows how far at
that time the clergy were, in this respect, in advance of the laity.
One day, when Henry II. paid a visit to Winchester, the prior and
monks of St. Swithin met him, and fell on their knees before him to
complain of the tyranny of their bishop. When the king asked what was
their grievance, they said that their table had been curtailed of three
dishes. The king, somewhat surprised at this complaint, and imagining,
no doubt, that the bishop had not left them enough to eat, inquired how
many dishes he had left them. They replied, ten; at which the king, in
a fit of indignation, told them that he himself had no more than three
dishes to his table, and uttered an imprecation against the bishop,
unless he reduced them to the same number.

But although we have abundant evidence of the general fact that our
Norman and English forefathers loved the table, we have but imperfect
information on the character of their cookery until the latter half of
the fourteenth century, when the rules and receipts for cooking appear
to have been very generally committed to writing, and a certain number
of cookery-books belonging to this period and to the following century
remain in manuscript, forming very curious records of the domestic
life of our forefathers. From these I will give a few illustrations of
this subject. These cookery-books sometimes contain plans for dinners
of different descriptions, or, as we should now say, bills of fare,
which enable us, by comparing the names of the dishes with the receipts
for making them, to form a tolerably distinct notion of the manner in
which our forefathers fared at table from four to five hundred years
ago. The first example we shall give is furnished by a manuscript of
the beginning of the fifteenth century, and belongs to the latter
part of the century preceding; that is, to the reign of Richard II.,
a period remarkable for the fashion for luxurious living: it gives
us the following bill of fare for the ordinary table of a gentleman,
which I will arrange in the form of a bill of fare of the present day,
modernizing the language, except in the case of obsolete words.

                     _First Course._

    Boar’s head enarmed (_larded_), and “bruce,” for pottage.
            Beef. Mutton. Pestles (_legs_) of Pork.
               Swan. Roasted Rabbit. Tart.

                   _Second Course._

               Drope and Rose, for pottage.
    Mallard. Pheasant. Chickens, “farsed” and roasted.
                    “Malachis,” baked.

                  _Third Course._

    Conings (_rabbits_), in gravy, and hare, in “brasé,” for pottage.
                  Teals, roasted. Woodcocks. Snipes.
                 “Raffyolys,” baked. “Flampoyntes.”

It may be well to make the general remark, that the ordinary number
of courses at dinner was three. To begin, then, with the first dish,
boar’s-head was a favourite article at table, and needs no explanation.
The pottage which follows, under the name of _bruce_, was made as
follows, according to a receipt in the same cookery-book which has
furnished the bill of fare:--

    Take the umbles of a swine, and parboil them (_boil them slowly_),
    and cut them small, and put them in a pot, with some good broth;
    then take the whites of leeks, and slit them, and cut them small,
    and put them in, with minced onions, and let it all boil; next take
    bread steeped in broth, and “draw it up” with blood and vinegar,
    and put it into a pot, with pepper and cloves, and let it boil; and
    serve all this together.

In the second course, _drope_ is probably an error for _drore_, a
pottage, which, according to the same cookery-book, was made as

    Take almonds, and blanch and grind them, and mix them with good
    meat broth, and seethe this in a pot; then mince onions, and fry
    them in fresh “grease,” and put them to the almonds; take small
    birds, and parboil them, and throw them into the pottage, with
    cinnamon and cloves and a little “fair grease,” and boil the whole.

_Rose_ was made as follows:--

    Take powdered rice, and boil it in almond-milk till it be thick,
    and take the brawn of capons and hens, beat it in a mortar, and mix
    it with the preceding, and put the whole into a pot, with powdered
    cinnamon and cloves, and whole mace, and colour it with saunders

It may be necessary to explain that almond-milk consisted simply
of almonds ground and mixed with milk or broth. The _farsure_, or
stuffing, for chickens was made thus:--

    Take fresh pork, seethe it, chop it small, and grind it well; put
    to it hard yolks of eggs, well mixed together, with dried currants,
    powder of cinnamon and maces, cubebs, and cloves whole, and roast

I am unable to explain the meaning of _malachis_, the dish which
concludes this course.

The first dish in the third course, coneys, or rabbits, in gravy, was
made as follows:--

    Take rabbits, and parboil them, and chop them in “gobbets,” and
    seethe them in a pot with good broth; then grind almonds, “dress
    them up” with beef broth, and boil this in a pot; and, after
    passing it through a strainer, put it to the rabbits, adding to the
    whole cloves, maces, pines (_the kernels of the pine cone_), and
    sugar; colour it with sandal-wood, saffron, bastard or other wine,
    and cinnamon powder mixed together, and add a little vinegar.

Not less complicated was the boar in _brasé_, or _brasey_:--

    Take the ribs of a boar, while they are fresh, and parboil them
    till they are half boiled; then roast them, and, when they are
    roasted, chop them, and put them in a pot with good fresh beef
    broth and wine, and add cloves, maces, pines, currants, and
    powdered pepper; then put chopped onions in a pan, with fresh
    grease, fry them first and then boil them; next, take bread,
    steeped in broth, “draw it up” and put it to the onions, and colour
    it with sandal-wood and saffron, and as it settles, put a little
    vinegar mixed with powdered cinnamon to it; then take brawn, and
    cut it into slices two inches long, and throw it into the pot with
    the foregoing, and serve it all up together.

_Raffyolys_ were a sort of patties, made as follows:--

    Take swine’s flesh, seethe it, chop it small, add to it yolks of
    eggs, and mix them well together; put to this a little minced lard,
    grated cheese, powdered ginger, and cinnamon; make of this balls of
    the size of an apple, and wrap them up in the cawl of the swine,
    each ball by itself; make a raised crust of dough, and put the ball
    in it, and bake it; when they are baked, take yolks of eggs well
    beaten, with sugar and pepper, coloured with saffron, and pour this
    mixture over them.

_Flampoyntes_ were made thus:--

    Take good “interlarded” pork, seethe it, and chop it, and grind it
    small; put to it good fat cheese grated, and sugar and pepper; put
    this in raised paste like the preceding; then make a thin leaf of
    dough, out of which cut small “points,” fry these in grease, and
    then stick them in the foregoing mixture after it has been put in
    the crust, and bake it.

Such was a tolerably respectable dinner at the end of the fourteenth
century; but the same treatise gives us the following bill of fare, for
a larger dinner, though still arranged in three courses:--

                             _First Course._

                    Browet farsed, and charlet, for pottage.
     Baked mallard. Teals. Small birds. Almond milk served with them.
                           Capon roasted with the syrup.
  Roasted veal. Pig roasted “‘endored,’ and served with the yolk on his
                              neck over gilt.” Herons.
                             A “leche.” A tart of flesh.

                             _Second Course._

                   Browet of Almayne and Viaunde rial for pottage.
                  Mallard. Roasted rabbits. Pheasant. Venison.
                        Jelly. A leche. Urchynnes (_hedgehogs_).
                                  Pome de orynge.

                             _Third Course._

                  Boar in egurdouce, and Mawmené, for pottage.
                Cranes. Kid. Curlew. Partridge. (All roasted.)
                              A leche. A crustade.
              A peacock endored and roasted, and served with the skin.
                       Cockagris. Flaumpoyntes. Daryoles.
                                   Pears in syrup.

The receipt for making _farsed browet_, or _browet farsyn_, is
literally as follows:--

    Take almonds and pound them, and mix with beef broth, so as to
    make it thick, and put it in a pot with cloves, maces, and figs,
    currants, and minced ginger, and let all this seethe; take bread,
    and steep it in sweet wine, and “draw it up,” and put it to the
    almonds with sugar; then take _conyngs_ (rabbits), or rabbettes
    (_young rabbits_), or squirrels, and first parboil and then fry
    them, and partridges parboiled; fry them whole for a lord, but
    otherwise chop them into gobbets; and when they are almost fried,
    cast them in a pot, and let them boil altogether, and colour with
    sandal-wood and saffron; then add vinegar and powdered cinnamon
    strained with wine, and give it a boil; then take it from the fire,
    and see that the pottage is thin, and throw in a good quantity of
    powdered ginger.

It is repeated, at the end of this receipt, that, for a lord, a coney,
rabbit, squirrel, or partridge, should be served whole in this manner.
The other pottage in this course, _charlet_, was less complex, and was
made thus:--

    Take sweet cow’s milk, put it in a pan, throw into it the yolks and
    white of eggs, and boiled pork, pounded, and sage; let it boil till
    it curds, and colour it with saffron.

The following was the syrup for a capon:--

    Take almonds, and pound them, and mix them with wine, till they
    make a thick “milk,” and colour it with saffron, and put it in a
    saucepan, and put into it a good quantity of figs and currants, and
    add ground ginger, cloves, galingale (_a spice much used in the
    middle ages_), and cinnamon; let all this boil; add sugar, and pour
    it over your capon or pheasant.

The _leche_ in this first course was, perhaps, the dish which is called
in the receipts a _leche lumbarde_, which was made thus:--

    Take raw pork, and pull off the skin, and pick out the skin sinews,
    and pound the pork in a mortar with raw eggs; add to it sugar,
    salt, raisins, currants, minced dates, powdered pepper, and cloves;
    put it in a bladder, and let it seethe till it be done enough, and
    then cut it into slips of the form of peas-cods: grind raisins in
    a mortar, mix them with red wine, and put to them almond-milk,
    coloured with sandal-wood and saffron, and add pepper and cloves,
    and then boil the whole; when it is boiled, mix cinnamon and ginger
    with wine and pour on it, and so serve it.

_Browet of Almayne_, which comes in with the second course of this
dinner, was a rather celebrated pottage. It was made in the following

    Take coneys, and parboil them, and chop them in gobbets, and put
    them with ribs of pork or kid into a pot, and seethe it; then take
    ground almonds, and mix them with beef broth, and put this in a
    pot with cloves, maces, pines, minced ginger, and currants, and
    with onions, and boil it, and colour it with saffron, and when
    this is boiled, take the flesh out from the broth, and put it in
    it; and take “alkanet” (_alkanet is explained in the dictionaries
    as the name of a plant, wild buglos; it appears to have been used
    in cookery to give colour_), and fry it, and press it into the pot
    through a strainer, and finally add a little vinegar and ground
    ginger mixed together.

The composition of _viande royale_ was as follows:--

    Take Greek wine, or Rhenish wine, and clarified honey, and mix
    them well with ground rice, ginger, pepper, cinnamon, and cloves,
    saffron, sugar, mulberries, and sandal-wood; boil the mixture, and
    salt it, and take care that it be thick.

_Pome de oringe_ was quite a different thing to what we should expect
from the name. It was made as follows:--

    Take pork liver, pound it well raw, and put to it ground pepper,
    cloves, cinnamon, saffron, and currants; make of this balls like
    apples, and wet them well in the white of eggs, and then put them
    in boiling water, and let them seethe, and when they have seethed a
    while, take them out, and put them on a spit, and roast them well;
    then take parsley, and grind it, and wring it up with eggs through
    a strainer, and put a little flour to it, and with this “endore”
    the balls while roasting, and, if you will, you may take saffron,
    sandal-wood, or indigo, to colour them.

_Endore_ was the technical term of the kitchen for washing over an
article of cookery with yolks of eggs, or any other liquid, to give a
shiny appearance to its exterior when cooked.

Both the pottages in the third course are rather elaborate ones.
The following was the process of making boar in _egurdouce_, or
_egredouce_, a word which of course means “sour-sweet:”--

    Take dates, washed clean, and currants, and boil them, and pound
    them together, and in pounding put cloves to them, and mix them up
    with vinegar, or clarey, or other sweet wine, and put it in a fair
    pot, and boil it well; and then put to it half a quartern of sugar,
    or else honey, and half an ounce of cinnamon in powder, and in the
    “setting down” take a little vinegar and mix with it, and half an
    ounce of ground ginger, and a little sandal-wood and saffron; and
    in the boiling put minced ginger to it; next, take fresh brawn,
    and seethe it, and then cut it in thin slices, and lay three in a
    dish, and then take half a pound of pines, and fry them in fresh
    grease, and throw the pines into it; and when they are thoroughly
    hot take them out with a skimmer, and let them dry, and cast them
    into the same pot; and then put the syrup above the brawn in the
    dishes, and serve it.

_Mawmené_ was made according to the following receipt:--

    Take almonds and blanch them and pound them, and mix them with
    water or wine, and take the brawn of capons or pheasants, and pound
    it small, and mix it with the other, and add ground rice, and put
    it in a pot and let it boil; and add powder of ginger and cloves,
    and cinnamon and sugar; and take rice, and parboil it and grind it,
    and add it to them, and colour it with sandal-wood, and pour it out
    in dishes; and take the grains of pomegranates and stick in it, or
    almonds or pines fried in grease, and strew sugar over it.

The following was the manner of making the _crustade_, mentioned in the
third course of this bill of fare:--

    Take chickens, and pigeons, and small birds, and make them clean,
    and chop them to pieces, and stew them altogether in a good broth
    made of fair grease and ground pepper and cloves, and add verjus to
    it, and colour it with saffron; then make raised crusts, and pinch
    them and lay the flesh therein, and put to it currants, and ground
    ginger, and cinnamon; and take raw eggs, and break them, and strain
    them through a strainer into the pottage of the stew, and stir it
    well together, and pour it into the raised crusts, above the flesh,
    and then place the covers on them and serve them.

The process of serving a peacock “with the skin” also requires some
explanation. The skin was first stripped off, with the feathers, tail,
and neck and head, and it was spread on a table and strewed with ground
cummin; then the peacock was taken and roasted, and “endored” with raw
yolks of eggs; and when roasted, and after it had been allowed to cool
a little, it was sewn into the skin, and thus served on the table,
always with the last course, when it looked as though the bird were
alive. To make _cokagrys_, you must

    Take an old cock and pull him, and wash him, and skin him all but
    the legs, and fill him full of the stuffing made for the pome de
    oringe; and also take a pig and skin him from the middle downwards,
    and fill him full of the same stuffing, and sew them fast together,
    and seethe them; and when they have seethed a good while, take them
    up and put them on a spit, and roast them well, and endore them
    with yolks of eggs mixed with saffron; and when they are roasted,
    before placing them on the table, lay gold and silver foil on them.

Flampoyntes have been already explained. Pears in syrup were merely
boiled in wine, and seasoned with sugar and spices.

In these bills of fare, our readers who believe in the prevalence of
“old English roast beef,” will find that belief singularly dissipated,
for our ancestors seem to have indulged in all sorts of elaborately
made dishes, in which immense quantities of spices were employed. The
number of receipts in these early cookery-books is wonderfully great,
and it is evident that people sought variety almost above all other
things. Among the Sloane manuscripts in the library of the British
Museum, there is a very complete cookery-book (MS. No. 1201) belonging
to the latter part of the fifteenth century, which gives seven bills of
fare of seven dinners, each to differ entirely in the dishes composing
it from the other, with the object, of course, of giving a different
dinner every day during seven consecutive days. In the foregoing
bills of fare, we have seen that on flesh-days no fish was introduced
on the table, but fish is introduced along with flesh in the seven
dinners just alluded to, which are, moreover, curious for the number
of articles, chiefly birds, introduced in them, which we are not now
accustomed to eat. The first of these bills of fare, which are all
limited to two courses, runs as follows:--

                             _First Course, of Eleven Dishes._

    Nowmbles (_umbles_) of an harte. Vyand ryalle. The syde of an hert rostede.
      Swanne with chauderoun. Fesaunt rostede. Bytore (_bittern_) rostede.
                         Pyke, and grete gurnarde.
                  Haggesse of Almayne. Blaunche custade.
               A sotelté, a blake bore enarmede with golde.

                             _Second Course, of Eleven Dishes._

                                    Gelé. Cream of almonds.
           Kynd kydde. Fillets of an herte endored. Squyrelle rost.
              Chykons (_chickens_) ylarded. Partriche and lark rost.
                              Perche and porpoys rost.
                 Frytours Lumbard. Payne puffe (_puff-bread_).
          A sotelté, a castelle of sylver with fanes (_vanes or flags_) of gold.

It appears that at this time it was considered more absolutely
necessary than at an earlier period, that each course at table should
be accompanied with a subtilty, or ornamental device in pastry,
representing groups of various descriptions, as here a black boar
and a castle. We have here the porpoise eaten among fishes, and the
squirrel among animals; we have before seen hedgehogs served at table.
In the “Ménagier de Paris,” a French compilation, made in the year
1393, a hedgehog is directed to have its throat cut, and to be skinned
and emptied, and then to be arranged as a chicken, and pressed and
well dried in a towel; after this it was to be roasted and eaten with
“cameline,” a word the exact meaning of which seems not to be known;
or in pastry, with duckling sauce. Squirrels were to be treated as
rabbits. The same book gives directions for cooking magpies, rooks,
and jackdaws. The second of the seven bills of fare given in the
Sloane Manuscript contains turtles (the bird) and throstles, roasted;
in the third we have roasted egrets (a species of heron), starlings,
and linnets; in the fourth, “martinettes;” in the fifth, barnacles,
“molette,” sparrows, and, among fishes, minnows; and in the sixth,
roasted cormorants, heathcocks, sheldrakes, dotterels, and thrushes.
The seventh bill of fare runs thus:--

        _First Course, of Nine Dishes._

    Long wortes (_vegetables_). An hen in dubate.
                Shuldres of motoun.
              Wylde goos. Wode doves.
         Fresh laumprey. Grete codlynge.
          Bonsomers. Tortons, in paste.

        _Second Course, of Ten Dishes._

       Pynnonade (_a confection of almonds and pines_).
              Malardes of the rivere.
            Cotes, rost, and dampettes.
              Quayles, and goldefynche.
            Ele reversed. Breme de mere.
           Frypours ryalle. Viande en feast.
                 Quarters of lambe.

The bills of fare I have thus given are intended for dinners of
moderate size, but I might easily have given much larger ones, though
we should have learnt nothing more by them than by the smaller ones,
from which the reader will be able to form a very good judgment of
the general style of eating among our forefathers, when they lived
well. The fifteenth century, especially, was celebrated for its great
feasts, at which the consumption of provisions was enormous. The bills
of expenses of some of them have been preserved. In the sixth year of
the reign of Edward IV. (A.D. 1466), George Nevile was made
archbishop of York, and the account of the expenditure for the feast on
that occasion contains the following articles:--Three hundred quarters
of wheat, three hundred tuns of ale, one hundred tuns of wine, one pint
of hypocras, a hundred and four oxen, six wild bulls, a thousand sheep,
three hundred and four calves, the same number of swine, four hundred
swans, two thousand geese, a thousand capons, two thousand pigs, four
hundred plovers, a hundred dozen of quails, two hundred dozen of
the birds called “rees,” a hundred and four peacocks, four thousand
mallards and teals, two hundred and four cranes, two hundred and four
kids, two thousand chickens, four thousand pigeons, four thousand
crays, two hundred and four bitterns, four hundred herons, two hundred
pheasants, five hundred partridges, four hundred woodcocks, one hundred
curlews, a thousand egrettes, more than five hundred stags, bucks, and
roes, four thousand cold venison pasties, a thousand “parted” dishes of
jelly, three thousand plain dishes of jelly, four thousand cold baked
tarts, fifteen hundred hot venison pasties, two thousand hot custards,
six hundred and eight pikes and breams, twelve porpoises and seals,
with a proportionate quantity of spices, sugared delicacies, and wafers
or cakes.

On the inthronation of William Warham as archbishop of Canterbury in
1504, the twentieth year of the reign of Henry VII., a feast was given
for which the following provisions were purchased:--Fifty-four quarters
of wheat, twenty shillings’ worth of fine flour for making wafers, six
tuns or pipes of red wine, four of claret wine, one of choice white
wine, and one of white wine for the kitchen, one butt of malmsey, one
pipe of wine of Osey, two tierces of Rhenish wine, four tuns of London
ale, six of Kentish ale, and twenty of English beer, thirty-three
pounds’ worth of spices, three hundred lings, six hundred codfish,
seven barrels of salted salmon, forty fresh salmon, fourteen barrels of
white herrings, twenty cades of red herrings (each cade containing six
hundred herrings, which would make a total of twelve thousand), five
barrels of salted sturgeons, two barrels of salted eels, six hundred
fresh eels, eight thousand whelks, five hundred pikes, four hundred
tenches, a hundred carps, eight hundred breams, two barrels of salted
lampreys, eighty fresh lampreys, fourteen hundred fresh lamperns, a
hundred and twenty-four salted congers, two hundred great roaches, a
quantity of seals and porpoises, with a considerable quantity of other
fish. It will be understood at once that this feast took place on a
fish day.

This habit of profuse and luxurious living seems to have gradually
declined during the sixteenth and first part of the seventeenth
century, until it was extinguished in the great convulsion which
produced the interregnum. After the Restoration, we find that the
table, among all classes, was furnished more soberly, and with plainer
and more substantial dishes.



The progress of society in the two countries which were most closely
allied in this respect, England and France, was slow during the
fifteenth century. Both countries were engaged either in mutual
hostility or in desolating civil wars, which so utterly checked all
spirit of improvement, that the aspect of society differed little
between the beginning and the end of the century in anything but dress.
At the close of the fourteenth century, the middle classes in England
had made great advance in wealth and in independence, and the wars of
the roses, which were so destructive to the nobility, as well as the
tendency of the crown to set the gentry up as a balance to the power of
the feudal barons, helped to make that advance more certain and rapid.
This increase of wealth appears in the multiplication of furniture and
of other household implements, especially those of a more valuable
description. We are surprised, in running our eye through the wills
and inventories during this period, at the quantity of plate which
was usually possessed by country gentlemen and respectable burghers.
There was also a great increase both in the number and magnitude of the
houses which intervened between the castle and the cottage. Instead of
having one or two bedrooms, and turning people into the hall to sleep
at night, we now find whole suits of chambers; while, where before, the
family lived chiefly in the hall, privacy was sought by the addition
of parlours, of which there were often more than one in an ordinary
sized house. The hall was in fact already beginning to diminish in
importance in comparison with the rest of the house. Whether in town
or country, houses of any magnitude were now generally built round an
interior court, into which the rooms almost invariably looked, only
small and unimportant windows looking towards the street or country.
This arrangement of course originated in the necessity of studying
security, a necessity which was never felt more than in the fifteenth
century. We have less need to seek our illustrations from manuscripts
during this period, on account of the numerous examples of buildings
which still remain in a greater or less state of perfection, but still
an illumination now and then presents us with an interesting picture
of the architectural arrangements of a dwelling-house in the fifteenth
century, which may be advantageously compared with the buildings that
still exist. One of these is represented in our cut No. 234, taken from
an illuminated copy of the French translation of Valerius Maximus (MS.
No. 6984, in the National Library at Paris). The building to the left
is probably the staircase turret of the gateway; that before us is the
mass of the household apartments. We are supposed to be standing within
the court. At the foot of the turret is the well, a very important
object within the court, where it was always placed in houses of this
description, as in the troubles of those days the household might be
obliged to shut themselves up for a day or two and depend for their
supply of water entirely on what they could get within their walls.

[Illustration: _No. 234. Court of a House of the Fifteenth Century._]

The cut here given (No. 234) is a remarkably good and perfect
representation of the exterior, looking towards the court, of the
domestic buildings. The door on the ground floor to the right is
probably, to judge by the position of the windows, the entrance to the
hall. The steps leading to the first floor are outside the wall, an
arrangement which is not uncommon in the existing examples of houses of
this period in England. We have also here the open gallery round the
chambers on the first floor, which is so frequently met with in our
houses of the fifteenth century. It is probable that within the door at
the top of the external flight of steps, as here represented, a short
staircase led up to the floor on which the chambers were situated.
Perhaps it may have been a staircase into the gallery, as the opening
round the corner to the right seems to be a door from the gallery into
the chambers.

[Illustration: _No. 235. A Knight at the Door._]

In another illumination in the same manuscript (cut No. 235), a knight
is represented knocking at the door of a house into which he seeks
admittance. The plain knocker and the ring will be recognised at once
by all who have been accustomed to examine the original doors still
remaining in so many of our old buildings, but why the person who thus
signifies his wish to enter should hold the ring with his right hand,
and the knocker with his left, is not very clear. The knocker, instead
of being plain, as in this cut, was often very ornamental. This is, of
course, the outer door of the house, and our readers will not overlook
the loophole and the small window through which the person who knocked
might be examined, and, if necessary, interrogated, before the door was
opened to him.

Let us now pass through the door on the ground floor, always open by
day, into the hall. This was still the most spacious apartment in
the house, and it was still also the public room, open to all who
were admitted within the precincts. The hall continued to be scantily
furnished. The permanent furniture consisted chiefly in benches, and in
a seat with a back to it for the superior members of the family. The
head table at least was now generally a permanent one, and there were
in general more permanent tables, or tables dormant, than formerly, but
still the greater part of the tables in the hall were made for each
meal by placing boards upon trestles. Cushions, with ornamental cloths,
called _bankers_ and _dorsers_, for placing over the benches and backs
of the seats of the better persons at the table, were now also in
general use. Tapestry was suspended on the walls of the hall on special
occasions, but it does not appear to have been of common use. Another
article of furniture had now become common--the buffet, or stand on
which the plate and other vessels were arranged. These articles appear
to have been generally in the keeping of the butler, and only to have
been brought into the hall and arranged on the buffet at meal times,
for show as much as for use. The dinner party in our cut No. 236, taken
from an illumination of a manuscript of the romance of the “Comte
d’Artois,” formerly in the possession of M. Barrois, a distinguished
and well-known collector in Paris, represents a royal party dining
at a table with much simplicity. The ornamental vessel on the table
is probably the salt-cellar, which was a very important article at
the feast. Besides the general utility of salt, it was regarded with
profoundly superstitious feelings, and it was considered desirable
that it should be the first article placed on the table. We have still
a feeling of superstition with regard to the spilling of salt. A
metrical code for the behaviour of servants, written in the fifteenth
century, directs that in preparing the table for meals, the table-cloth
was first to be spread, and then, invariably and in all places, the
salt was to be placed upon it; next were to be arranged successively,
the knives, the bread, the wine, and then the meat, after which the
waiter was to bring other things, when each was called for:--

    _Tu dois mettre premierement_
    _En tous lieux et en tout hostel_
    _La nappe, et apres le sel;_
    _Cousteaulx, pain, vin, et puis viande,_
    _Puis apporter ce qu’on demande._

In our last cut (No. 236) it will be seen that the “nappe” is duly
laid, and upon it are seen the salt-cellar, the bread (round cakes),
and the cups for wine. Knives are wanting, and the plates seldom
appear on the table in these dinner scenes of the fifteenth century,
any more than in the previous period. This, no doubt, arose from the
common practice at that time, of people carrying their own knives
with them in a sheath attached to the girdle. We find, moreover, few
knives enumerated in our inventories of household goods and chattels.
In the English metrical “Stans Puer ad Mensam,” or rules for behaviour
at table, written by Lydgate, the guest is told to “bring no knyves
unskoured to the table,” which can only mean that he is to keep his own
knife that he carries with him clean. The two servants are here duly
equipped for duty, with the towel thrown over the shoulder. The table
appears to be placed on two board-shaped trestles, but the artist has
forgotten to indicate the seats. But in our next cut (No. 237), a very
private party, taken from a manuscript of the early French translation
of the Decameron (in the National Library at Paris, No. 6887), are
placed in a seat with a back to it, although the table is still
evidently a board placed upon trestles. It may be remarked that in
dinner scenes of this century, the gentlemen at table are almost always
represented with their hats on their heads.

[Illustration: _No. 236. A Dinner Scene at Court._]

[Illustration: _No. 237. A Private Dinner._]

As we have already hinted, the inventories of this period give
us curious information on the furniture of houses of different
descriptions. We learn from one of these, made in 1446, that there
were at that time belonging to the hall of the priory of Durham, one
dorsal or dorser, embroidered with the birds of St. Cuthbert and the
arms of the church, five pieces of red cloth (three embroidered and two
plain), no doubt for the same purpose of throwing over the seats; six
cushions; three basins of brass; and three washing-basins. A gentleman
at Northallerton, in Yorkshire, who made his will in 1444, had in
his hall, thirteen jugs or pots of brass, four basins, and two ewers
(of course, for washing the hands), three candlesticks, five (metal)
dishes, three kettles, nine vessels of lead and pewter, “utensils of
iron belonging to the hall,” valued at two shillings--probably the
fire-irons, one dorser and one banker. An inventory of a gentleman’s
goods in the year 1463, apparently in the southern part of England
(printed in the “New Retrospective Review”), gives, as the contents of
the hall,--a standing spear, a hanging of stained work, a mappa-mundi
(a map of the world) of parchment--a curious article for the hall, a
side-table, one “dormond” table (a permanent table), a beam with six

A vocabulary of the fifteenth century (“Volume of Vocabularies,” p.
197) enumerates, as the ordinary furniture of the hall, a board, a
trestle, a banker, a dorser, a natte (table-cloth), a table dormant, a
basin, a laver, fire on a hearth, a brand or torch, a yule-block, an
andiron, tongs, a pair of bellows, wood for the fire, a long settle,
a chair, a bench, a stool, a cushion, and a screen. The permanent
or dormant table, is shown in the scene given in our cut No. 238,
taken from the beautifully illuminated manuscript of the “Roman de
la Violette,” at Paris, some facsimiles from which were privately
distributed by the comte de Bastard, from whom I had the honour of
receiving a copy. We have here also the seat with its back, and the
buffet with its jugs and dishes. In our cut No. 236, we had the waits
or trumpeters, who were always attached to the halls of great people to
announce the commencement of the dinner. Only persons of a certain rank
were allowed this piece of ostentation; but everybody had minstrelsy
to dinner who could obtain it, and when it was at hand. The wandering
minstrel was welcome in every hall, and for this very reason the class
of ambulatory musicians was very numerous. In the scene given in this
cut (No. 238), the wandering minstrel, or, according to the story, a
nobleman in that disguise, has just arrived, and he is allowed, without
ceremony or suspicion, to seat himself at the fire, apparently on a
stool, beside the two individuals at dinner.

[Illustration: _No. 238. Reception of the Minstrel._]

The floor of the hall was usually paved with tiles, or with flag
stones, and very little care appears to have been shown to cleanliness,
as far as it was concerned, except that it was usual to strew it with
rushes. Among the various French metrical “Contenances de Table,” or
directions for behaviour at table, of the fifteenth century, the person
instructed is told that he must not _spit upon the table_ at dinner

    _Ne craiche par dessus la table,_
    _Car c’est chose desconvenable_,

which is necessarily an intimation that he must spit upon the floor.
In another of these pieces he is told that when he washes his mouth at
table, he must not reject the water into the basin--

    _Quant ta bouche tu laveras,_
    _Ou bacin point ne cracheras._

The reason for this rule was evidently the circumstance that one basin
might serve for all the company; but the alternative again was of
course to spit the water out upon the floor. Again, in one of these
codes, the learner is told that when he makes sops in his wine, he must
either drink all the wine in the glass, or throw what remains on the

    _Enfant, se tu faiz en ton verre_
    _Souppes de vin aucunement,_
    _Boy tout le vin entierement,_
    _Ou autrement le gecte à terre._

Or, as it is expressed in another similar code more briefly--

    _Se tu fais souppes en ton verre,_
    _Boy le vin ou le gette à terre._

There can be no doubt that all this must have made an extremely dirty
floor. Another rather _naïve_ direction shows that no more attention
was paid to the cleanliness of the benches and seats; it is considered
necessary to tell the scholar always to look at his seat before he sits
down at table, to a assure himself that there is nothing dirty upon

    _Enfant, prens de regarder peine_
    _Sur le siege où tu te sierras,_
    _Se aucune chose y verras_
    _Qui soit deshonneste ou vilaine._

The fireplace at the side of the hall, with hearth and chimney, were
now in general use. An example is given in our last cut; another will
be seen in our cut No. 239, and here, though evidently in the hall, and
a monastic hall too, the process of cooking is pursued at it. The monks
appear to be taking a joyous repast, not quite in keeping with the
strict rule of their order, and the way in which they are conducting
themselves towards the women who have been introduced into the
monastery does not speak in favour of monastic continence. This picture
is from a manuscript bible, of the fifteenth century, in the National
Library at Paris (No. 6829).

Manners at table appear to have been losing some of the strictness and
stiffness of their ceremonial, while they retained their rudeness.
The bowl of water was carried round to the guests, and each washed
his hands before dinner, but the washing after dinner appears now to
have been commonly omitted. In one of the directions for table already
quoted, the scholar is told that he must wash himself when he rises
from bed in the morning, once at dinner, and once at supper, in all
thrice a day:--

    _Enfant, d’honneur lave tes mains_
    _A ton lever, à ton disner,_
    _Et puis au soupper, sans finer;_
    _Ce sont trois foys à tout le moins._

And again, in another similar code,--

    _Lave tes mains devant disner,_
    _Et aussi quant vouldras soupper._

[Illustration: _No. 239. A Monastic Feast._]

Still people put their victuals to their mouth with their fingers,
for, though forks were certainly known in the previous century, they
were not used for conveying the food to the mouth. It was considered,
nevertheless, bad manners to carry the victuals to the mouth with the

    _Ne faiz pas ton morsel conduire_
    _A ton coustel qui te peult nuire._

Another practice strictly forbidden in these rules was picking your
teeth with your knife while at table. From the use thus made of the
hand, in the absence of forks, it may be supposed that we should have
directions for keeping it clean during the process of eating. One of
these appears droll enough to us at the present day. It is directed
that a person sitting at table in company is not to blow his nose with
the hand with which he takes his meat. Handkerchiefs were not yet in
use, and the alternative of course was that, if any one felt the need
of performing the operation in question, he was to lay down his knife,
and to do it with the hand which held it. In one of the French codes
this direction is given rather covertly, as follows:--

    _Ne touche ton nez à main nue_
    _Dont ta viande est tenue._

But in another it is enunciated more crudely, thus:--

    _Enfant, se ton nez est morveux,_
    _Ne le torche de la main nue_
    _De quoy ta viande est tenue;_
    _Le fait est vilain et honteux._

All these circumstances show a state of manners which was very far from

Among other directions for table, you are told not to leave your spoon
in your platter; not to return back to your plate the food you have
put in your mouth; not to dip your meat in the salt-cellar to salt it,
but to take a little salt on your knife and put it on the meat; not to
drink from a cup with a dirty mouth; not to offer to another person
the remains of your pottage; not to eat much cheese; to take only two
or three nuts, when they are placed before you; not to play with your
knife; not to roll your napkin into a cord, or tie it in knots; and not
to get intoxicated during dinner-time!

Our next cut (No. 240) represents one of the backed seats, after a
pattern of this century. It is taken from a manuscript of the romance
of Launcelot du Lac, in the National Library at Paris (No. 594).
It is probable that this seat belonged to the parlour, or, as the
name signifies, conversation room. The custom still continued of
making seats with divisions, so that each person sat in a separate
compartment. A triple seat of this kind is represented in our cut No.
241, taken from a manuscript of the French Boccaccio in the National
Library at Paris.

[Illustration: _No. 240. A Domestic Scene._]

[Illustration: _No. 241. A Triple Seat._]

The parlour seems to have been ornamented with more care, and to have
been better furnished than the hall. This apartment appears to have
been placed sometimes on the ground floor, and sometimes on the floor
above, and large houses had usually two or three parlours. It had often
windows in recesses, with fixed seats on each side; and the fireplace
was smaller and more comfortable than that of the hall. As carpets
came into more general use, the parlour was one of the first rooms to
receive this luxury. In the inventory I have already quoted from the
“New Retrospective Review,” the following articles of furniture are
described as being in the parlour--

    _A hanging of worsted, red and green._
    _A cupboard of ash-boards._
    _A table, and a pair of trestles._
    _A branch of latten, with four lights._
    _A pair of andirons._
    _A pair of tongs._
    _A form to sit upon._
    _And a chair._

This will give us a very good idea of what was the usual furniture of
the parlour in the fifteenth century. The only movable seats are a
single bench, and one chair--perhaps a seat with a back like that shown
above. The table was even here formed by laying a board upon trestles.
The cupboard was peculiar to this part of the house; many of my readers
will probably remember the parlour cupboards in our old country houses,
the branched candlestick of metal, suspended from the ceiling, and the
tongs and andirons for the fire.

The principal articles of furniture in the parlour are all exhibited
in illuminations in manuscripts of the same period. The “hanging of
worsted” was, of course, a piece of tapestry for the wall, or for some
part of the wall, for the room was in many, perhaps in most, cases,
only partially covered. Sometimes, indeed, it appears only to have
been hung up on occasions, perhaps for company, when it seems to have
been placed behind the chief seat.[50] The wall itself was frequently
adorned with paintings, in common houses rude and merely ornamental,
while in others of a better class they represented histories, scenes
from romances, and religious subjects, much like those exhibited on
the tapestries themselves. In the cut annexed (No. 242), taken from a
beautifully illuminated manuscript of the romance of “Lancelot,” in
the National Library at Paris, No. 6784, we have a representation of a
parlour with wall paintings of this kind. Morgan le Fay is showing king
Arthur the adventures of Lancelot, which she had caused to be painted
in a room in her palace. Paintings of this kind are very often alluded
to in the old writers, especially in the poets, as every one knows
who has read the “Romance of the Rose,” the works of Chaucer, or that
singular and curious poem, the “Pastyme of Pleasure,” by Stephen Hawes.
Chaucer, in his “Dream,” speaks of--

                  _A chamber paint_
    _Full of stories old and divers,_
    _More than I can as now reherse._

[Illustration: _No. 242. Morgan le Fay showing king Arthur the
Paintings of the Adventures of Lancelot._]

There was in the castle of Dover an apartment called Arthur’s Hall,
and another named Guenevra’s Chamber, which have been supposed to be
so called from the subjects of the paintings with which they were
decorated; and a still more curious illustration of the foregoing
drawing is furnished by an old house of this period still existing
in New Street, Salisbury, a room in which preserves its painting in
distemper, occupying the upper part of the wall, like the story of
Lancelot in the pictures of the room of Morgan le Fay. We give a sketch
of the side of this room occupied by the painting in the accompanying
cut (No. 243). It occupies the space above the fireplace, and the
windows looking into the street, but it has been much damaged by modern
alterations in the house. The subject, as will at once be seen, was of
a sacred character--the offering of the three kings.

[Illustration: _No. 243. Wall-Paintings still remaining in a House at

The window to the left of the fireplace, which is one of the original
windows of this house, has a deep sill, or seat, which was intended as
one of the accommodations for sitting down. This was not unfrequently
made with a recess in the middle, so as to form a seat on each side,
on which two persons might sit face to face, and which was thus more
convenient both for conversation, and for looking through the window
at what was going on without. This appears to have been a favourite
seat with the female part of the household when employed in needlework
and other sedentary occupations. There is an allusion to this use of
the window sill in the curious old poem of the “Lady Bessy,” which is
probably somewhat obscured by the alterations of the modern copyist;
when the young princess kneels before her father, he takes her up and
seats her in the window:--

    _I came before my father the king,_
      _And kneeled down upon my knee;_
    _I desired him lowly of his blessing,_
      _And full soon he gave it unto me._
    _And in his arms he could me thring,_
      _And set me in a window so high._

The words of our inventory, “a form to sit upon, and a chair,” describe
well the scanty furnishing of the rooms of a house at this period. The
cause of this poverty in movables, which arose more from the general
insecurity of property than the inability to procure it, is curiously
illustrated by a passage from a letter of Margaret Paston to her
husband, written early in the reign of Edward IV. “Also,” says the lady
to her spouse, “if ye be at home this Christmas, it were well done ye
should do purvey a garnish or twain of pewter vessel, two basins and
two ewers, and twelve candlesticks, for ye have too few of any of these
to serve this place; I am afraid to purvey much stuff in this place,
till we be surer thereof.” As yet, a form or bench continued to be the
usual seat, which could be occupied by several persons at once. One
chair, as in the inventory just mentioned, was considered enough for
a room, and was no doubt preserved for the person of most dignity,
perhaps for the lady of the household. Towards the latter end of this
period, however, chairs, made in a simpler form, and stools, the latter
very commonly three-legged, became more abundant. Yet in a will dated
so late as 1522 (printed in the “Bury Wills” of the Camden Society),
an inhabitant of Bury in Suffolk, who seems to have possessed a large
house and a considerable quantity of household furniture for the
time, had, of tables and chairs, only “a tabyll of waynskott with to
(_two_) joynyd trestelles, ij. joynyd stolys of the best, a gret joynyd
cheyre at the deyse in the halle--the grettest close cheyre, ij. fote
stoles--a rounde tabyll of waynskott with lok and key, the secunde
joynyd cheyer, ij. joynyd stolys.” The ordinary forms of chairs and
stools at the latter end of the fifteenth century are shown in our
cut No. 244, taken from a very curious sculpture in alto-relievo on
one of the columns of the Hôtel-de-Ville at Brussels. At this time we
begin to find examples of chairs ingeniously constructed, for folding
up or taking to pieces, so as to be easily laid aside or carried away.
Some of these resemble exactly our modern camp-stools. A curious
bedroom chair of this construction is represented in our cut No. 245,
taken from a fine illuminated manuscript of the romance of the “Comte
d’Artois,” of the fifteenth century, in the collection of M. Barrois
of Paris, but now, I believe, in the library of lord Ashburnham. The
construction of this chair is too evident to need explanation. It
explains the phrase, used in some of our old writers, of unfolding a

[Illustration: _No. 244. Sculpture from the Hôtel-de-Ville, Brussels._]

[Illustration: _No. 245. A Bedroom Chair._]

[Illustration: _No. 246. A Chandelier._]

At this time much greater use appears to have been made of candles
than formerly, and they seem to have been constructed of different
substances and qualities. Candlesticks, made usually of the mixed metal
called laton or latten (an alloy of brass), were found in all houses;
they appear to have been still mostly made with a spike on which the
candle was stuck, and sometimes they were ornamented, and furnished
with mottoes. John Baret, who made his will at Bury, in 1463, possessed
a “candylstykke of laten with a pyke,” two “lowe candylstikkez of a
sorth,” (_i.e._ to match), and three “candylstykkes of laton whereupon
is wretyn _grace me governe_.” A testament dated in 1493 enumerates
“a lowe candilstyke of laton, oon of my candelstykes, and ij. high
candilstykes of laton.” In the will of Agas Herte of Bury, in 1522,
“ij. belle canstykes and a lesser canstyke,” occurs twice, so that they
seem to have formed two sets, and there is a third mention of “ij. bell
canstykes.” We also find mention at this time of double candlesticks,
which were probably intended to be placed in an elevated position to
give light to the whole apartment. Our inventory of the contents of the
parlour contains “a branch of latten, with four lights,” which was no
doubt intended for this purpose of lighting the whole room (a sort of
chandelier), and appears to have been identical with the candlebeam,
not unfrequently mentioned in the old inventories. A widow of Bury,
named Agnes Ridges, who made her will in 1492, mentions “my candylbeme
that hangyth in my hall with vj. bellys of laton standyng thereon,”
_i.e._ six cups in which the candles were placed. Our cut No. 246
represents a candlebeam with four lights. It is slung round a simple
pulley in the ceiling, by a string which was fixed to the ground. It
is taken from a manuscript of the “Traité des Tournois” (treatise of
tournaments), by king René, in the National Library at Paris, No.
8352; and as the scene is represented as taking place in a princely
hall, which is fitted up for a festive entertainment, we may take it
as a curious proof of the rudeness which was still mixed up with the
magnificence of the fifteenth century. In a fine illumination in a
manuscript of Froissart in the British Museum (MS. Reg. 18 E. 2),
representing the fatal masque at the court of Charles VI. of France,
in 1393, in which several of the courtiers were burnt to death, we
have, in the king’s palace, a chandelier exactly like that in our last
cut, except that each candlestick on the beam contains two candles--a
“double candlestick.” This manuscript is of the latter part of the
fifteenth century. It had been the custom, on festive occasions, or in
ceremonies where large apartments required to be lighted, to do this by
means of torches which servants held in their hands. This custom was
very common, and is frequently spoken of or alluded to in the mediæval
writers. Nevertheless, the inconvenience and even danger attending it,
led to various plans for superseding it. One of these was, to fix up
against the walls of the room frames for holding the torches, of which
an example is given in the accompanying cut (No. 247), representing
a torch-frame, still preserved in the Palazzo Strozzi at Florence.
One of the group, it will be observed, has a long spike, intended to
hold a large candle. Candlesticks fixed to the wall in various manners
are seen in manuscripts of the fifteenth century; and an example is
given in our cut No. 248, taken from a part of the same illumination
of Froissart mentioned before. The candle is here placed before a
little image, on the upper part of the fireplace, but whether this was
for a religious purpose or not, is not clear. In this cut, the three
princesses are seated on the large chair or settle, which is turned
with its back to the fire. This important article of furniture is now
found in the parlour as well as in the hall.

[Illustration: _No. 247. Candle and Torch-holders._]

[Illustration: _No. 248.--Ladies Seated._]



As people began to have less taste for the publicity of the old hall,
they gradually withdrew from it into the parlours for many of the
purposes to which the hall was originally devoted, and thus the latter
lost much of its former character. The parlour was now the place
commonly used for the family meals. In a curious little treatise on
the “most vyle and detestable use of dyce play,” composed near the
beginning of the sixteenth century, one of the interlocutors is made
to say, “So down we came again,” _i.e._ from the chambers above, “into
the parlour, and found there divers gentlemen, all strangers to me;
and what should I say more, but to dinner we went.” The dinner hour,
we learn from this same tract, was then at the hour of noon; “the
table,” we are told, “was fair spread with diaper cloths, the cupboard
garnished with much goodly plate.” The cupboard seems now to have been
considered a necessary article of furniture in the parlour; it had
originally belonged to the hall, and was of simple construction. One of
the great objects of ostentation in a rich man’s house was his plate;
which, at dinner time, he brought forth, and caused to be spread on
a table in sight of his guests; afterwards, to exhibit the plate to
more advantage, the table was made with shelves, or steps, on which
the different articles could be arranged in rows one above another.
It was called in French and Anglo-Norman a _buffet_, or a _dressoir_
(dresser), the latter name, it is said, being given to it because on it
the different articles were _dressés_, or arranged. The English had, in
their own language, no special name for this article of furniture, so
that they called it literally a cup-board, or board for the cups. In
course of time, and especially when it was removed from the hall into
the parlour, this article was made more elaborately, and doors were
added to it, for shutting up the plate when not in use. It thus became
equivalent to our modern sideboard. We have seen a figure of a cupboard
of this more complicated structure in a cut in our last chapter; and we
shall have others of different forms in our next.

[Illustration: _No. 249. A Sick Room._]

Our cut No. 249 is a good representation of the interior of a
parlour furnished with the large seat, or settle, and with rather
an elaborate and elegant cupboard. The latter, however, does not
belong to the picture itself, having been introduced from another in
the same manuscript by Mr. Shaw, in his beautiful work the “Dresses
and Decorations of the Middle Ages,” from which it is here taken. It
is found in a fine manuscript in the British Museum (MS. Reg. 15 D.
1), containing the French translation of the “Historia Scholastica”
of Peter Comestor, and written in the year 1470. The subject of this
illumination is taken from the Scriptural story of Tobit, who here lies
sick and blind on the settle, having just despatched his son Tobias
on his journey to the city of Rages. The lady cooking is no doubt
intended for his wife Anna; it will be observed that she is following
the directions of a book. Cookery books and books of medicinal receipts
were now common. The kettle is suspended over the fire by a jack of a
construction that occurs not unfrequently in the manuscripts of this
period. The settle is placed with its back to the window, which is
covered with a large curtain.

As the parlours saved the domestic arrangements of the household from
the too great publicity of the hall, so on the other hand they relieved
the bedchambers from much of what had previously been transacted in
them, and thus rendered them more private. In the poem of the “Lady
Bessie,” when the earl of Derby and Humphrey Brereton visit the young
princess, they are introduced to her in her bower, or chamber, but she
immediately conducts the latter into the parlour, in order to converse
with him:--

    _She took him in her arms, and kissed him times three;_
      _“Welcome,” she said, “Humphrey Brereton;_
    _How hast thou spedd in the west countrey?_
      _I pray thee tell me quickly and anon.”_
    _Into a parlour they went from thence,_
      _There were no more but hee and shee._

The female part of the family now passed in the parlour much of the
time which had been formerly passed in their chambers. It was often
their place of work. Young ladies, even of great families, were
brought up not only strictly, but even tyrannically, by their mothers,
who kept them constantly at work, exacted from them almost slavish
deference and respect, and even counted upon their earnings. The
parental authority was indeed carried to an almost extravagant extent.
There are some curious instances of this in the correspondence of
the Paston family. Agnes Paston, the wife of sir William Paston, the
judge, appears to have been a very harsh mother. At the end of June
1454, Elizabeth Clere, a kinswoman who appears to have lived in great
intimacy with the family, sent to John Paston, the lady’s eldest son,
the following account of the treatment of his sister Elizabeth, who
was of marriageable age, and for whom a man of the name of Scroope
had been proposed as a husband. “Therefore, cousin,” writes Jane
Clere, “meseemeth he were go for my cousin your sister, without that
ye might get her a better; and if ye can get a better, I would advise
you to labour it in as short time as ye may goodly, for she was never
in so great a sorrow as she is now-a-days, for she may not speak
with no man, whosoever come, nor even may see nor speak with my man,
nor with servants of her mother’s, but that she beareth her on hand
otherwise than she meaneth; and she hath since Easter the most part
been beaten once in the week, or twice, and sometimes twice in a day,
and her head broken in two or three places. Wherefore, cousin, she
hath sent to me by friar Newton in great counsel, and prayeth me that
I would send to you a letter of her heaviness, and pray you to be her
good brother, as her trust is in you.” In spite of her anxiety to be
married, Elizabeth Paston did not succeed at this time, but she was
soon afterwards transferred from her paternal roof to the household of
the lady Pole. It was still the custom to send young ladies of family
to the houses of the great to learn manners, and it was not only a
matter of pride and ostentation to be thus surrounded by a numerous
train, but the noble lady whom they served did not disdain to receive
payment for their board as well as employing them in profitable work.
In a memorandum of errands to London, written by Agnes Paston on the
28th of January, 1457, one is a message to “Elizabeth Paston that she
must use herself to work readily, as other gentlewomen do, and somewhat
to help herself therewith. Item, to pay the lady Pole twenty-six
shillings and eightpence for her board.” Margaret Paston, the wife of
John Paston, just mentioned, and daughter-in-law of Agnes, seems to
have been equally strict with her daughters. At the beginning of the
reign of Edward IV., she wrote to her son John concerning his sister
Anne, who had been placed in the house of a kinsman of the name of
Calthorpe. “Since ye departed,” she says, “my cousin Calthorpe sent me
a letter complaining in his writing that forasmuch as he cannot be paid
of his tenants as he hath been before this time, he proposeth to lessen
his household, and to live the straitlier, wherefore he desireth me to
purvey for your sister Anne; he saith she waxeth high (_grows tall_),
and it were time to purvey her a marriage. I marvel what causeth him
to write so now, either she hath displeased him, or else he hath taken
her with default; therefore I pray you commune with my cousin Clare at
London, and weet (_learn_) how he is disposed to her-ward, and send me
word, for I shall be fain to send for her, and with me she shall but
lose her time, and without she will be the better occupied she shall
oftentimes move (_vex_) me and put me in great inquietness; remember
what labour I had with your sister, therefore do your part to help her
forth, that may be to your worship and mine.” There certainly appears
here no great affection between mother and daughter.

Among other lessons, the ladies appear to have been taught to be very
demure and formal in their behaviour in company. Our cut No. 250
represents a party of ladies and gentlemen in the parlour engaged in
conversation. It is taken from an illumination in the manuscript of
the romance of the “Comte d’Artois,” formerly in the possession of M.
Barrois. They are all apparently seated on benches, which seem in this
instance to be made like long chests, and placed along the sides of
the wall as if they served also for lockers. These appear to be the
only articles of furniture in the room. There is a certain conventional
position in most of the ladies of the party which has evidently been
taught, even to the holding of the hands crossed. The four ladies with
the gentleman between them are no doubt intended to be the attendants
on the lady of the house, holding towards her the position of Elizabeth
and Anne Paston. We have precisely the same conventional forms in the
next cut (No. 251), which is taken from an illumination in a manuscript
of the “Legenda Aurea,” in the National Library in Paris (No. 6889). We
see here the same demureness and formal crossing of the hands among
the young ladies, in presence of their dame. It may be observed that,
in almost all the contemporary pictures of domestic scenes, the men,
represented as visitors, keep their hats on their heads.

[Illustration: _No. 250. A Conversation Scene._]

[Illustration: _No. 251. A Social Group of the Fifteenth Century._]

One of the most curious features in the first of these scenes is that
of the cages, especially that of the squirrel, which is evidently made
to turn round with the animal’s motion, like squirrel-cages of the
present day. We have now frequent allusions to the keeping of birds in
cages, and parrots, magpies, jays, and various singing birds, are often
mentioned among domestic pets. During the earlier half of the century
of which we are now more especially speaking, the poems of Lydgate
furnish us with several examples. Thus, in that entitled “The Chorle
and the Bird,” we are told--

    _The chorle_ (countryman) _was gladde that he this birdde hadde take,_.
    _Mery of chere, of looke, and of visage,_.
    _And in al haste he cast for to make_.
    _Within his house a pratie litelle cage,_.
    _And with hir songe to rejoise his corage_.

And in another of Lydgate’s minor poems, it is said of Spring,--

    _Whiche sesoun prykethe_ (stirs up) _fresshe corages,_
    _Rejoissethe beastys walkyng in ther pasture,_
    _Causith briddys to syngen in ther cages,_
    _Whan blood renewyth in every creature_.

Among these, we find birds mentioned which are not now usually kept
in cages. Thus, in a manuscript of the time of Edward IV., we find
a receipt for food for that favourite bird of the mediæval poets,
the nightingale.[51] Small animals of various kinds were also tamed
and kept in the house, either loose or in cages. The plot of some of
the earlier fabliaux turns upon the practice of taming squirrels as
pets, and keeping them in cages; and this animal continued long to
be an especial favourite, for its liveliness and activity. In one of
the compartments of the curious tapestry of Nancy, of the fifteenth
century, which has been engraved by M. Achille Jubinal, we see a lady
with a tame squirrel in her hand, which she holds by a string, as
represented in our cut No. 252.

[Illustration: _No. 252. Lady and Squirrel._]

The parlour was now the room where the domestic amusements were
introduced. The guest in the early tract on “Dyce Play,” quoted in a
former page, tells us, “and, after the table was removed, in came one
of the waiters with a fair silver bowl, full of dice and cards. Now,
masters, quoth the goodman, who is so disposed, fall too.” Gambling
was carried to a great height during the fifteenth century, and was
severely condemned by the moralists, but without much success. Dice
were the older implements of play, and tables (or backgammon). A
religious poem on saints’ days, in a manuscript written about the year
1460, warning against idle amusements, says--

    _Also use not to pley at the dice ne at the tablis,_
    _Ne none maner gamys, uppon the holidais;_
    _Use no tavernys where be jestis and fablis,_
    _Syngyng of lewde balettes, rondelettes, or virolais._

After the middle of the fifteenth century, cards came into very general
use; and at the beginning of the following century, there was such a
rage for card-playing, that an attempt was made early in the reign of
Henry VIII. to restrict their use by law to the period of Christmas.
When, however, people sat down to dinner at noon, and had no other
occupation for the rest of the day, they needed amusement of some sort
to pass the time; and a poet of the fifteenth century observes truly,--

    _A man may dryfe forthe the day that long tyme dwellis_
    _With harpyng and pipyng, and other mery spellis,_
              _With gle, and wyth game._

Such amusements as these mentioned, with games of different kinds
in which the ladies took part, and dancing, generally occupied the
afternoon, from dinner to supper, the hour of which latter meal seems
usually to have been six o’clock. The favourite amusement was dancing.
A family party at the dance is represented in our cut No. 253, from M.
Barrois’ manuscript of the “Comte d’Artois.” The numerous dances which
were now in vogue seem to have completely eclipsed the old carole, or
round dance, and the latter word, which was a more general one, had
displaced the former. The couple here on their legs are supposed to be
performing one of the new and tasteful fashionable dances, which were
much more lively than those of the earlier period; some of them were
so much so as to scandalise greatly the sage moralists of the time.
The after-dinner amusements were resumed after supper; and a practice
had now established itself of prolonging the day’s enjoyment to a
late hour, and taking a second, or, as it was called, a rere-supper
(_arrière souper_), which was called the banquet in France, where the
three great meals were now the dinner, the supper, and the banquet, and
dinner appears to have been considered as the least meal of the three.
It was thus, probably, that, in course of time, dinner took the place
of supper, and supper that of banquet.

[Illustration: _No. 253. A Dance._]

We have a very curious illustration of the extravagant living at table
of the latter half of the fifteenth century, in the curious allegorical
tapestry long preserved at Nancy, in Lorrain, and said by tradition,
probably with truth, to have been the ornament of the tent of Charles
le Téméraire, duke of Burgundy, when he laid siege to Nancy in 1477,
and was defeated and slain. It is of Flemish workmanship, and no doubt
pictures the manners of the Burgundian nobles and gentry, but at that
time the court of Burgundy was the model of the fashionable life of
western Europe. It happens, curiously enough, that a few years later a
rather obscure French writer, named Nicole de La Chesnaye, compiling
one of those allegorical dramas then so popular under the title of
“Moralities,” took the story of this tapestry as his subject, and has
thus left us the full explanation of what might otherwise have been
not easily understood. The title of this morality is “La Nef de Santé”
(the ship of health), and a second title is “La condamnacion des
bancquetz” (the condemnation of banquets); and its object is to show
the unhappy consequences of the extravagance in eating and drinking,
which then prevailed. It opens with a conversation between three
allegorical personages named Dinner, Supper, and Banquet, who declare
their intention to lead joyous life evening and morning, and they
resolve on imitating Passe-Temps (pastime) and Bonne-Compagnie (good
company). At this moment Bonne-Compagnie herself, who is described as
a dashing damsel (_gorrière damoiselle_), enters with all her people,
namely, Gourmandize (greediness), Friandize (daintiness), Passe-Temps,
already mentioned, Je-Boy-à-Vous (I drink to you), Je-Pleige-d’Autant
(I pledge the same), and Acoustumance (custom). Each names what he
prefers in good cheer, and Bonne-Compagnie, to begin the day, orders a
collation, at which, among other things, are served damsons (_prunes
de Damas_), which appear at this time to have been considered as
delicacies. There is here a marginal direction to the purport that,
if the morality should be performed in the season when real damsons
could not be had, the performers must have some made of wax to look
like real ones. They now take their places at table, and, while they
are eating, Je-Boy-à-Vous calls the attention of the company to the
circumstance that Gourmandize, in his haste to eat the damsons, had
swallowed a snail. Passe-Temps next proposes a dance, and chooses for
his partner the lady Friandize, comparing her to Helen, and telling her
that he was Paris. She, in reply, compares herself to Medea, and her
partner to Jason. Then the musicians, “placed on a stage or some higher
place,” are to play a measure “pretty short.” Dinner, Supper, and
Banquet next make their appearance, and, addressing Bonne-Compagnie,
make their apology for entering without being invited; but the lady
receives them well, asks their names, and, in return, tells them
those of her people. Dinner, to show his gratitude for this friendly
reception, invites the whole party to go to his feast, which is just
ready; and Supper invites them to a second repast, and Banquet to
a third. They accept the invitation of Dinner, and are served with
_friture_, _brouet_, _potage_, _gros pâtés_, &c. Meanwhile Supper and
Banquet look upon the party from “some high window,” and converse
on the consequences likely to follow their excesses. This scene is
represented in the first compartment of the tapestry, as it now exists
(for it has undergone considerable mutilation), and is represented in
our cut No. 254. It is a good picture of a seignorial repast of the
fifteenth century. There are people at table, besides those enumerated
in the morality, who are here indicated by their names: Passe-Temps at
one end of the table, a lady to his left, and after her Je-Boy-à-Vous,
who has Bonne-Compagnie by his side, and to her left Dinner, the host.
To the right of Passe-Temps sits the lady Gourmandize, and to her right
Je-Vous-Pleige (I pledge you), and next to him Friandize. The cups in
which they are drinking are flat-shaped, and appear, by the colours in
the original, to be of glass, with the brims, and other parts in some,
gilt. The minstrels, in the gallery, are playing with trumpets. Among
the attendants, we see the court fool, with his bauble, who had now
become an ordinary, and almost a necessary, personage in the household
of the rich; it was the result of an increasing taste for the coarse
buffoonery which characterised an unrefined state of society. The court
fool was licensed to utter with impunity whatever came to his thought,
however mordant or however indecent. Beside him are two valets with
dogs, which appear to have been usually admitted to the hall, and to
have eaten the refuse on the spot. A window above gives us a view of
the country, with buildings in the distance, and Supper and Banquet
looking in upon the company. An inscription in the upper corner to
the right tells us how these two personages came slyly to look at the
assembly, and how through envy they conspired to take vengeance upon
the feasters--

    _Soupper et Bancquet_
    _Vindrent l’assemblée adviser,_
    _Dont par envie prestement_
    _Compindrent de viengence user._

[Illustration: _No. 254. A Dinner Party in grand ceremony._]

The morality next introduces the Diseases who are to be the executors
of the vengeance of Supper and Banquet, and who, according to the stage
directions, are to be dressed “very strangely, so that you would hardly
know whether they are women or men.” These are Apoplexy, Paralysis,
Pleurisy, Cholic, Quinsy, Dropsy, Jaundice, Gravel, and Gout. At the
end of this scene, Supper and Banquet address themselves to these
people, and ask them to undertake an assault on Bonne-Compagnie and
the other guests of Dinner; and they consent at once, and Supper
places them in an ambuscade in his dwelling. Meanwhile the feast ends,
and Bonne-Compagnie says grace, and orders the player on the lute to
perform his duty, whereupon “the instrument sounds, and the three men
shall lead out the three women, and shall dance whatever dance they
please, while Bonne-Compagnie remains seated.” Supper and Banquet then
present themselves in turn to invite Bonne-Compagnie and her people,
and they go first to Supper, who receives them with extraordinary
hospitality. But Supper was a wicked traitor; and the stage directions
inform us that, while the guests were enjoying themselves, his agents,
the Diseases, were to be introduced watching them through a window. As
soon as the substantial viands are eaten, Supper goes to order what
was called the _issue_, or dessert; and in his absence Bonne-Compagnie
orders the minstrels to play an air, and they obey. While the dessert
is preparing, Supper goes to the Diseases, to ask if they are ready,
and they arm and attack the guests, overthrowing tables and benches,
and treating everybody with great cruelty. After some other scenes,
Banquet comes to announce that his feast is ready, condoles with the
sufferers on the treatment they had received from Supper, though he is
meditating still greater treachery himself, and they go and feast with
him. The Diseases, ready at his command, make a much more fatal attack
upon the guests.

Banquet’s feast forms the second compartment of the tapestry of Nancy
in its present state, and is represented in our cut No. 255. When
compared with the morality, it presents some variations. In front,
Banquet is standing before the table, opposite to Je-Boy-à-Vous and
Je-Pleige-d’Autant, and appears to be replying to Bonne-Compagnie,
who is seated between Passe-Temps and Acoustumance. Further to the
left Banquet appears again, with his hand on his sword, addressing the
Diseases, who are at the entrance of the hall, waiting for his signal
for the attack. At the lower corner on the left we see Supper, talking
with another important personage, probably intended to represent
Dinner. Above, to the right, through a window, we see Banquet again,
with one of his attendants fastening on his armour, while another holds
his casque, which he has not yet placed on his head. The first of the
inscriptions in this compartment of the tapestry, which is on the left,
tells how, while the guests are feasting in all jollity, Banquet and
his rout arm and come to slaughter the whole assembly--

    _Chiere ilz tyrent joyeulsement,_
    _Y estant Bancquet et la route_
    _Qui s’armerent et là proprement_
    _Occirent l’assemblée toute._

The second inscription consists of eight lines moralizing on the final
ruin which often falls on those who make enjoyment the business of
their lives:--

    _Les trois folz ont grant volonté_
    _De cherche[r] leur malle meschance;_
    _Quant on a bien ris et chanté,_
    _A la fin fault tourner la chance._
    _Ha! vous vellez avoir plaisance!_
    _Bien l’auré vous ung tandis;_
    _Mès gens quy prenent leur aisence,_
    _En fin se treuvent plus mauldiz._

It is remarkable that these eight lines, taken from the tapestry, are
introduced into the morality, and placed in the mouth of the fool at
the end of the first scene.

[Illustration: _No. 255. A Banquet in the Fifteenth Century._]

It will be remarked at once that there is a much greater display of
luxury in the banquet scene than in the dinner scene. Upon the table
are two peacocks, each with a shield hung to its neck, no doubt to show
the armorial bearings of the host; a boar’s head, dressed in the most
fashionable manner; a subtelty, representing a ship filled with birds,
surrounded by a sea full of fishes, and having a tall mast, with a sail
made of silk and ermine, and surmounted by a figure of a naked female,
intended probably to represent the goddess Venus. There are also on the
table four candles, of coloured wax. A noble dresser stands against
the wall, covered with vessels of gold and of glass, but the metal far
predominates. The minstrels are standing apparently on the floor on a
level with the guests, and consist of a man playing on the cittern, or
lute, a harper, and one who plays on the pipe and drum, the latter
instrument a substitute for the tabor. The valets with the dogs are
again introduced, but we miss the court fool.

The remaining portions of the tapestry represent the attack of the
Diseases, and the great havoc they made among the guests.

The banquet was known in England by that name, as well as by the
name of rere-supper. In the curious English morality play, entitled
“The Interlude of the Four Elements,” printed early in the sixteenth
century, the same distinction is made between the three meals as in
the French morality described above. Sensual-appetite, one of the
characters in the piece, leads Humanity to the tavern to dine, and
orders a dinner of three courses, with a choice variety of wines. As
they are leaving after dinner, the taverner reminds them that they
were to return to supper; and then Humanity proposes a cup of “new”
wine, as though wine was then valued for being new. Food and liquor
were formerly adulterated in more dishonest manner even than in modern
times, and the taverner answers the demand jokingly--

    _Ye shall have wyne as newe as can be,_
    _For I may tell you in pryvyté_
    _Hit was brued but yester nyght._

But he immediately adds--

    _But than I have for your apetyte_
    _A cup of wyne of olde claret;_
    _There is no better, by this lyght._

After supper they go to dance, and meanwhile Sensual-appetite goes to
prepare the banquet:--

    _I shall at the towne agayne_
    _Prepare for you a banket,_
    _Of metys that be most delycate,_
    _And most pleasaunt drynkes and wynes therate,_
    _That is possyble to get._
    _Which shall be in a chamber feyre_
    _Preparyd poynt devyse_ (in perfection),
    _With damaske water made so well_
    _That all the howse thereof shall smell_
    _As it were Paradyse_.

In “Acolastus,” a work by the grammarian Palsgrave, published in 1540,
the banquet is still identified with the rere-supper, when he speaks
of “the rere-supper, or banket, where men syt downe to drynke and eate
agayne after their meate.” And again, still later, Higins, in his
“Nomenclator,” published in 1585, explains the Latin word _pocœnium_ by
“a reare-supper, or a banket after supper.” The term rere-supper was
in use throughout the fifteenth century. An English vocabulary of that
century speaks of a meal between dinner and supper, under the name of
“a myd-dyner under-mete,” the same which, no doubt, was called by a
French word, a _bever_, as consisting especially in taking a drink, and
which, removed to the time between breakfast and dinner, is now called
a luncheon.

In the introduction to Lydgate’s “Story of Thebes,” which is introduced
as a continuation of the “Canterbury Tales,” the poet pretends to have
arrived at the inn in Canterbury when it was occupied by the pilgrims,
who invite him to sup with them, and he joins their company. “Our
host,” who is the leader of the pilgrims, offers him his place at their
supper heartily:

    _Praying you_ (he says) _to suppe with us this night,_
    _And ye shall have made, at your devis,_
    _A great pudding, or a round hagis,_
    _A French moile, a tansie, or a froise_.

These appear to have been the usual favourite dishes at an ordinary
supper of this date (the first half of the fifteenth century). The
_hagis_ appears to have been much the same dish as the Scottish haggis
of the present day. The _moile_ was a dish made of marrow and grated
bread. The _tansie_ was a kind of omelet, resembling apparently what
the French now call an _omelette aux fines herbes_; while the _froise_
had small strips of bacon in it--an _omelette au lard_. This latter was
a very favourite dish among the monks. After supper, the guests, or
at least some of them, are represented as taking “strong nottie ale”
before going to bed. They rise early, “anon as it is day,” and start
on their return towards London; and they take no meal before dinner,
having it

    _Fully in purpose to come to dinere_
    _Unto Ospring, and breake there our fast._

There is a longer preface to the supplementary tale of “Beryn,”
written about the same date as the “Story of Thebes,” and printed in
the edition of Chaucer’s works by Urry, in which the divisions of the
day are tolerably well described. The pilgrims there arrived at their
destination in Canterbury “at mydmorowe,” which is interpreted in the
glossaries as meaning nine o’clock in the forenoon, and then took their
lodgings, “ordeyned” their dinner, and, while it was preparing, went
to make their offerings to the shrine of St. Thomas in the cathedral
church. Meanwhile the Pardoner had separated from the company, and
engaged in a low intrigue with the “tapster,” or barmaid, who offers
him a drink, but he tells her he had not yet broken his fast--we are to
conclude that this was the case with the rest of the company--and

    _She start into the town, and set a py al hote._

Meat pies appear to have been very common articles of food in the
middle ages, and to have been kept always ready at the cooks’ shops.
The offering seems to have taken but a small space of time, and then--

    _They set their signys upon their hedes, and som oppon their capp,_
    _And sith to the dyner-ward they gan for to stapp_ (step);
    _Every man in his degré wissh_ (washed) _and toke his sete,_
    _As they wer wont to doon at soper and at mete;_
    _And wer in silence for a tyme, tyl good ale gan arise_.

It appears, therefore, that people did not hold conversation while
eating, but that the talk and mirth began with the liquor, whether
ale or wine. It was then agreed that they should remain that day in
Canterbury, and all sup together at night--

    “_Then al this after-mete I hold it for the best_
    _To sport and pley us,” quod the hoost, “ech man as hym lest_ (likes),
    _And go by tyme to soper, and to bed also,_
    _So mowe we erly rysen, our jorney for to do_”.

Accordingly they all walk forth into the city, where the knight, who
with his son had put on fresh gowns, took the latter to the town walls
to explain to him their strength, and the character of the defences;
and as many of the rest as had changes of apparel with them imitated
their example, and they separated in parties, according to their
different tastes. The monk, the parson, and the friar, went to visit
some clerical acquaintance, and indulged in spiced wine. The ladies
remained at home:--

    _The wyfe of Bath was so wery, she had no wyl to walk;_
    _She toke the priores by the honde, “Madam, wol ye stalk_
    _Pryvely into the garden to se the herbis growe?_
    _And after with our hostis wife in her parlour rowe_ (talk)?
    _I wol gyve yowe the wyne, and ye shul me also;_
    _For tyl we go to soper we have naught ellis to do._”

The prioress assents to this proposal--

              ----_and forth gon they wend,_
    _Passing forth sofftly into the herbery;_
    _For many a herb grew for sewe_ (pottage) _and surgery;_
    _And all the aleys fair and parid, and raylid, and ymakid;_
    _The sauge and the isope yfrethid and istakid;_
    _And othir beddis by and by fresh ydight,_
    _For comers to the hooste right a sportful sight_.

When the guests reassembled, they agreed that the knight should be
their “marshall” of the table, and he ordered them all to wash, and
then appointed them to their seats, that they might be properly seated
together, for this was part of his duty. They thus sat two and two,
each couple, no doubt, at one dish--

    _They wissh_ (washed), _and sett right as he bad, eche man wyth
        his fere,_
    _And begonne to talk of sportis and of chere_
    _That they had the aftir-mete whiles they wer out;_
    _For othir occupacioune, tyll they wer servid about,_
    _They had not at that tyme, but eny man kitt_ (cut) _a loff_.

Thus it would appear that nothing eatable was as yet placed on the
table but bread. Presently, the supper was served round to them, of
which there was only one “service,” out of courtesy on the part of
the rich members of the company towards those who were poor, as there
was to be an equal division of the expenses of the supper. In return,
the highest places of the table were yielded to the persons of best
estate, and these, as an acknowledgment, gave a cup of wine round at
their own expense, and then left the table to retire to their beds.
But the less genteel of the company, the miller and the cook, with the
sompnour, the yeoman, the reeve, and the manciple, remained “drinking
by the moon,”--that is, they had no candle. There was, however,
one candle in the bedroom, which seems to have served to light the
whole company,--for it is evident that they all slept in beds in one
room,--and this candle was only put out when they were all gone to bed,
which was the moment the Pardoner awaited to steal away and pursue his
intrigue. Next morning they were out of their beds so early that they
left the town on their homeward journey at sunrise.



The chambers were now, except in smaller houses, mostly above the
ground-floor; and, as I have already observed, the privacy of the
chamber was much greater than formerly. In the poem of “Lady Bessy,”
quoted in a former chapter (the whole poem is given in Mr. Halliwell’s
privately printed “Palatine Anthology”), when the earl of Derby was
plotting with the lady Bessy for calling in the earl of Richmond, he
proposed to repair secretly to her in her chamber, in order to prepare
the letters:--

    _“We must depart_ (separate), _lady,” the earle said then;_
      _“Wherefore keep this matter secretly,_
    _And this same night, betwix nine and ten,_
      _In your chamber I think to be._
    _Look that you make all things ready,_
      _Your maids shall not our councell hear,_
    _For I will bring no man with me_
      _But Humphrey Brereton, my true esquire.”_
    _He took his leave of that lady fair,_
      _And to her chamber she went full light,_
    _And for all things she did prepare,_
      _Both pen and ink, and paper white._

The earl, on his part,--

        ----_unto his study went,_
      _Forecasting with all his might_
    _To bring to pass all his intent;_
      _He took no rest till it was night,_
    _And when the stars shone fair and bright,_
      _He him disguised in strange mannere;
    _He went unknown of any wight,_
      _No more with him but his esquire._
    _And when he came her chamber near,_
      _Full privily there can he stand;_
    _To cause the lady to appeare_
      _He made a sign with his right hand._
    _And when the lady there him wist,_
      _She was as glad as she might be;_
    _Charcoals in chimneys there were cast,_
      _Candles on sticks standing full high._
    _She opened the wickett, and let him in,_
      _And said, “Welcome, lord and knight soe free!”_
    _A rich chair was set for him,_
      _And another for that fair lady;_
    _They ate the spice, and drank the wine,_
      _He had all things at his intent._

[Illustration: _No. 256. Interior of the Chamber._]

[Illustration: _No. 257. The Nursing Chamber._]

The description given in these lines agrees perfectly with the
representations of chambers in the illuminated manuscripts of the
latter part of the fifteenth century, when the superior artistic skill
of the illuminators enabled them to draw interiors with more of detail
than in former periods. We have almost invariably the chimney, and
one “rich chair,” if not more. In our cut No. 256, we have a settle
in the chamber, which is turned to the fire. This picture is taken
from a manuscript of the early French translation of Josephus, in
the National Library in Paris (No. 7015), and represents the death
of the emperor Nero, as described by that writer. All the furniture
of this chamber is of a superior description. The large chair by the
bed-side is of very elegant design; and the settle, which is open at
the back, is ornamented with carved panels. Our next cut (No. 257),
taken from a manuscript of Lydgate’s metrical Life of St. Edmund (MS.
Harl. No. 2278), represents the birth of that saint. This room is more
elaborately furnished than the former. The fittings of the bed are
richer; the chimney is more ornamental in its character, and is curious
as having three little recesses for holding candlesticks, cups, and
other articles; and we have a well-supplied cupboard, though of simple
form. From the colours in the manuscript, all the vessels appear to be
of gold, or of silver-gilt. The seat before the fire in this cut (No.
257) seems to be the hutch, or chest, which in Nos. 261 and 262 we
shall see placed at the foot of the bed, from which it is here moved to
serve the occasion.

The lady seated on this chest appears to be wrapping up the new-born
infant in swaddling-clothes; a custom which, as I have remarked on
a former occasion, and as we shall see again further on, prevailed
universally till a comparatively recent period. Infants thus wrapped
up are frequently seen in the illuminated manuscripts; and their
appearance is certainly anything but picturesque. We have an exception
in one of the sculptures on the columns of the Hôtel de Ville at
Brussels (represented in our cut No. 258), which also furnishes us
with a curious example of a cradle of the latter part of the fifteenth

[Illustration: _No. 258. A Cradle._]

It will, no doubt, have been remarked that in these cuts we observe
no traces of carpets on the floor. In our cut No. 256, the floor is
evidently boarded; but more generally, as in our cuts Nos. 257, 260,
and 261, it appears chequered, or laid out in small squares, which
may be intended to represent tiles, or perhaps parquetry. There is
more evidence of tapestried or painted walls; although this kind of
ornamentation is only used partially, and chiefly in the dwellings of
the richer classes. The walls in the chamber in cut No. 257 appear to
be painted. In the same cut we have an example of an ornamental mat.

The most important article of furniture in the chamber was the bed,
which began now to be made much more ornamental than in previous
times. We have seen in the former period the introduction of the
canopy and its curtains, under which the head of the bed was placed.
The _celure_, or roof, of the canopy, was now often enlarged, so as
to extend over the whole bed; and it, as well as the _tester_, or
back, was often adorned with the arms of the possessor, with religious
emblems, with flowers, or with some other ornament. There were also
sometimes _costers_, or ornamental cloths for the sides of the bed. The
curtains, sometimes called by the French word _ridels_, were attached
edgeways to the tester, and were suspended sometimes by rings, so as
to draw backwards and forwards along a pole; but more frequently, to
judge by the illuminations, they were fixed to the celure in the same
manner as to the tester, and were drawn up with cords. At the two
corners of the celure portions of curtain were left hanging down like
bags. The curtains which draw up are represented in our cuts Nos. 259
and 260. Those in cuts Nos. 261 and 262, if not in Nos. 256 and 257,
are evidently drawn along poles with rings. The latter method is thus
alluded to in the old metrical romance of “Sir Degrevant:”--

    _That was a mervelle thynge,_
    _To se the riddels hynge,_
    _With many red golde rynge_
    _That thame up bare._

The celure and tester were fixed to the wall and ceiling of the
apartment, and were not in any way attached to the bed itself; for the
large four-post bedsteads were introduced in the sixteenth century. In
some illuminations the bed is seen placed within a square compartment
separated from the room by curtains which seem to be suspended from
the roof. This appears to have been the first step towards the more
modern four-post bedsteads. In one of the plates to D’Agincourt’s
“Histoire de l’Art” (Peinture, pl. 109), taken from a Greek fresco of
the twelfth or thirteenth century in a church at Florence, we have the
curtains arranged thus in a square tent in the room, where the cords
are not suspended from the roof, but supported by four corner-posts.
The bed is placed within, totally detached from the surrounding posts
and curtains. The space thus left between the bed and the curtains was
perhaps what was originally called in French the _ruelle_ (literally,
the “little street”) of the bed, a term which was afterwards given to
the space between the curtains of the bed and the wall, which held
rather an important place in old French chamber life, and especially in
the stories of chamber intrigue.

[Illustration: _No. 259. A Bed of the Fifteenth Century._]

The bedstead itself was still a very simple structure of wood, as
shown in our cut No. 259, which represents the bed of a countess. It
is taken from the manuscript of the romance of the “Comte d’Artois,”
which has already furnished subjects for our previous chapters on the
manners of the fifteenth century. The lady’s footstool is no less rude
than the bedstead. The bed here evidently consists of a hard mattress.
It was still often made of straw, and the bed is spoken of in the
glossaries as placed upon a _stramentum_, which is interpreted by the
English word “litter;” but feather-beds were certainly in general use
during the whole of the fifteenth century. In the latter part of the
fourteenth century, Chaucer (Dreme, v. 250) thus described a very rich

    _Of downe of pure dovis white_
    _I wol yeve him a fethir bed,_
    _Rayid with gold, and right well cled_
    _In fine blacke sattin d’outremere,_
    _And many a pilowe, and every bere_ (pillow cover)
    _Of clothe of Raines to slepe on softe;_
    _Him thare_ (need) _not to turnen ofte_.

Agnes Hubbard, a lady of Bury, in Suffolk, who made her will in 1418,
left among other things, “one feather-bed” (_unum lectum de plumis_).
A rich townsman of the same place bequeathed, in 1463, to his niece,
“certeyne stuffe of ostilment,” among which he enumerates “my grene
hanggyd bedde steynyd with my armys therin, that hanggith in the
chambyr ovir kechene, with the curtynez, the grene keveryng longgyng
therto; another coverlyte, ij. blanketts, ij. peyre of good shetes,
the trampsoun, the costerys of that chambyr and of the drawgth chambyr
next, tho that be of the same soort, a grete pilve (_pillow_) and
a smal pilve; the fethirbeed is hire owne that hire maistresse gaf
hire at London.” After enumerating other articles of different kinds,
the testator proceeds--“And I geve hire the selour and the steynyd
clooth of the coronacion of Our Lady, with the clothes of myn that
long to the bedde that she hath loyen (_lain_) in, and the beddyng
in the draught chamber for hire servaunth to lyn in; and a banker of
grene and red lying in hire chambyr with the longe chayer (_a settle,
probably_); and a stondyng coffre and a long coffre in the drawth
chambyr.” William Honyboorn, also of Bury, bequeathed to his wife in
1493, “my best ffether bedde with the traunsome, a whyte selour and a
testour theron, with iij. white curteyns therto, a coverlight white
and blewe lyeng on the same bedde, with the blankettes.” The same man
leaves to his daughter, “a ffether bedde next the best, a materas lyeng
under the same, iiij. peyr shetys, iij. pelowes, a peyr blankettes.”
John Coote, who made his will at Bury in 1502, left to his wife, for
term of her life, “alle my plate, brasse, pewter, hanggynges, celers,
testers, fetherbeddes, traunsoms, coverlytes, blankettes, shetes,
pelows, and all other stuff of hussold (_household_);” and afterwards
bequeaths these articles separately to his son and daughter, after
their mother’s death:--“I will that William Coote have my beste hanged
bede, celer, testor, and curteyns longgyng to the same, the beste
fetherbede, the beste coverlyght, the beste peyer of blankettes, the
beste peyer shetes; and Alys Coote to have the next hanged bede, celer,
and testour, wyth the ij^{de} fetherbede, blankettes, and the ij^{de}
peyer shetes.” In the will of Anne Barett, of Bury, dated in 1504,
we read, “Item, I bequeth to Avyse _my servaunte_ x. marc, a ffether
bed, a traunsom, a payre shetes, a payre blankettes, a coverlyght.”
Lastly, the will of Agar Herte, a widow of the same town, made in 1522,
contains the following items:--“Item, I bequethe to Richard Jaxson, my
son, a ffetherbed, ij. trawnsoms, a matras, ij. pelowes, iiij. payer
of schetes, a payer of blankettes, and a coveryng of arasse, and a
secunde coverlyght, a selour and a testour steynyd with fflowers, and
iij. curteyns;” ... “Item, I bequethe to Jone Jaxson, my dowghter, a
fetherbed, a matras, a bolster, ij. pelowes, iiij. payer of schetes, a
payer of blankettes, a coverlyght with fflowre de lyce, a selour and a
testour steynyd with Seynt Kateryn at the hed and the crusifix on the
selour, ... a secunde coverlyght, ij. pelow-beris (_pillow-covers_),
the steynyd clothes abowte the chamber where I ly;” ... “Item, I
bequethe to Fraunces Wrethe a ffetherbed, a bolster, a payer of
blankettes, my best carpet, a new coverlyght with fflowers, ij. payer
of schetes, ij. pelows with the berys.”

These extracts from only one set of wills are sufficient to show the
great advance which our forefathers had made during the fourteenth
century in the comfort and richness of their beds, and how cautious
we ought to be in receiving general observations on the condition of
previous ages by those who write at a subsequent period. I make this
observation in allusion to the account so often quoted from Harrison,
who, in the description of England written in Essex during the reign
of Elizabeth, and inserted in Holinshed’s “Chronicles,” informs us
that “our fathers (yea, and we our selves also) have lien full oft
upon straw pallets, on rough mats, covered onelie with a sheet, under
coverlets made of dagswain,[52] or hopharlots (I use their owne
termes), and a good round log under their heads instead of a bolster.
If it were so that our fathers, or the good-man of the house, had,
within seven years after his mariage, purchased a matteres, or flocke
bed, and thereto a sacke of chaffe to reste his heade upon, he thought
himselfe to be as well lodged as the lord of the towne, so well were
they contented. Pillowes, said they, were thought meete onelie for
women in child-bed. As for servants, if they had anie sheet above them
it was well, for seldom had they anie under their bodies to keepe them
from the pricking straws that ran oft through the canvas of the pallet,
and rased their hardened hides.” A description like this could only
apply to the lower classes in society, who had as yet participated but
little in the march of social improvement.

[Illustration: _No. 260. A. Truckle-bed._]

As the privacy of the chamber had become greater, it seems now to have
been much less common in private mansions for several people to sleep
in the same room, which appears more rarely to have had more than one
bed. But a bed of a new construction had now come into use, called
a truckle or trundle bed. This was a smaller bed which rolled under
the larger bed, and was designed usually for a valet, or servant. The
illuminations in the manuscript of the romance of the “Comte d’Artois,”
already quoted more than once, furnish us with the early example of a
truckle-bed represented in our cut No. 260. The count d’Artois lies
in the bed under the canopy, while the truckle-bed is occupied by
his valet (in this case, his wife in disguise). The truckle-bed is
more frequently mentioned in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Every reader will remember the speech of mine host of the Garter, in
the “Merry Wives of Windsor” (act iv. sc. 5), who says of Falstaff’s
room, “There’s his chamber, his house, his castle, his standing bed
and truckle-bed.” It was the place allotted to the squire, when
accompanying the knight on “adventures.” So in Hudibras (part ii. canto

    _When Hudibras, whom thoughts and aking_
    _’Twixt sleeping kept all night and waking,_
    _Began to rub his drowsy eyes,_
    _And from his couch prepared to rise,_
    _Resolving to dispatch the deed_
    _He vow’d to do, with trusty speed;_
    _But first, with knocking loud and bawling,_
    _He roused the squire, in truckle lolling._

In the English universities, the master-of-arts had his pupil to sleep
in his truckle-bed.

[Illustration: _No. 261. A Bedroom Scene._]

The chamber, as the most private part of the house, was stored with
chests and coffers, in which the person who occupied it kept his
money, his deeds and private papers, and his other valuables. Margaret
Paston, writing from Norwich to her husband about the year 1459, gives
a curious account of the preparations for his reception at home. “I
have,” she says, “taken the measure in the drawte chamber, there as ye
would your coffers and your cowntewery (_supposed to mean a desk for
writing_) should be set for the while, and there is no space beside
the bed, though the bed were removed to the door, for to set both your
board (_table_) and your coffers there, and to have space to go and sit
beside; wherefore I have purveyed that ye shall have the same drawte
chamber (_withdrawing room--the origin of our name of drawing-room
for the salon_) that ye had before, thereat ye shall lye to yourself;
and when your gear is removed out of your little house, the door shall
be locked, and your bags laid in one of the great coffers, so that
they shall be safe, I trust.” The hucches (_hutches_) or chests, and
coffers, in the bed-chamber, are frequently mentioned in old writings.
The large hutch seems to have been usually placed at the foot of the
bed. In one of our preceding cuts (No. 257) we have seen it moved from
its place to make a temporary seat before the fire. The cut annexed
(No. 261), taken from a manuscript Latin Bible in the National Library
in Paris (No. 6829), shows us the hutch in its usual place, and opened
so as to expose its contents to our view. It is here evidently filled
with money, and the persons who have entered the chamber seem to be
plundering it. In a very popular old story, the same in substance as
that of Macbeth and his daughters, an old man, on the marriage of his
daughter, weakly gives up all his property to the young married pair,
trusting to their filial love for his sustenance, and they go on
treating him worse and worse, until he is saved from actual destitution
by a deception he practises upon them. In one version of the story,
given in English verse in a manuscript of the fifteenth century, the
father goes to a friend and borrows a large sum of money in gold, which
he places in his coffer, and, having invited them to his dwelling,
and persuaded them to remain all night, he contrives that early in
the morning they shall, as by accident, espy him counting his gold.
The unfilial children, who supposed that he had given them all he
possessed, were astonished to find him still rich, and were induced, by
their covetousness, to treat him better during the rest of his life.
The poem describes the old man leaving his bed to count the gold in his

    _But on the morow, at brode daylight,_
    _The fadir ros, and, for they shulden here_
    _What that he dide in a boistous manere,_
    _Unto his chest, which thre lokkes hadde,_
    _He went, and therat wrethed he ful sadde,_
    _And whan it was opened and unshit,_
    _The bagged gold bi the merchaunt hym lent_
    _He hath untied, and streight forth with it_
    _Unto his beddis feete gone is and went,_
    _What doth thanne this sel man and prudent_
    _But out the gold on a tapit hath shot,_
    _That in the bagges left ther no grot._
                  --MS. Harl. 372, fol. 88, v^o.

Robbers, or plunderers in time of war, when breaking into a house,
always made direct for the chamber. Among the letters of the Paston
family, is a paper by a retainer of sir John Fastolf, who had a
house in Southwark, giving an account of his sufferings during the
attack upon London by Jack Cade and the commons of Kent in 1450, in
which he tells how “the captain (Cade) sent certain of his meny to
my chamber in your rents, and there broke up my chest, and took away
one obligation of mine that was due unto me of 36_l._ by a priest of
Paul’s and one other obligation of one Knight of 10_l._, and my purse
with five rings of gold, and 17_s._ 6_d._ of gold and silver; and one
harness (_suit of armour_) complete of the touch of Milan; and one gown
of fine perse blue, furred with martens; and two gowns, one furred
with bogey (_budge_), and one other lined with frieze.” One of John
Paston’s correspondents, writing from London on the 28th of October,
1455, gives the following still more pertinent account of the robbing
of a man’s house:--“Also there is great variance between the earl
of Devonshire and the lord Bonvile, as hath been many day, and much
debate is like to grow thereby; for on Thursday at night last past,
the earl of Devonshire’s son and heir came, with sixty men of arms,
to Radford’s place in Devonshire, which (Radford) was of counsel with
my lord Bonvile; and they set a house on fire at Radford’s gate, and
cried and made a noise as though they had been sorry for the fire; and
by thet cause Radford’s men set open the gates and yede (_went_) out
to see the fire; and forthwith the earl’s son aforesaid entered into
the place, and entreated Radford to come down of his chamber to speak
with them, promising him that he should no bodily harm have; upon which
promise he came down, and spoke with the said earl’s son. In the mean
time his meny (_retinue_) rob his chamber, and rifled his hutches, and
trussed such as they could get together, and carried it away on his own
horses.” As soon as this was done, Radford, who was an eminent lawyer
residing at Poghill, near Kyrton, and now aged, was led forth and
brutally murdered. In the stories and novels of the middle ages, the
favoured lover who has been admitted secretly into the chamber of his
mistress is often concealed in the hutch or chest.

[Illustration: _No. 262. A Lady in Bed._]

Our cut No. 262, taken from the same manuscript of the Bible which
furnished our last illustration, represents the hutch also in its place
at the foot of the bed. This sketch is interesting, both as showing
more distinctly than the others the rings of the bed-curtains, and the
rods attached to the celure, and as a particularly good illustration of
the habit which still continued in all classes and ranks of society,
of sleeping in bed entirely naked. The same practice is shown in
several of our other cuts (see Nos. 256, 260, and 261), and, indeed,
in all the illuminated manuscripts of the fifteenth century which
contain bedroom scenes. Wherever this is not the case, there is some
evident reason for the contrary, as in our cut No. 257. During this
period we have not so many pictorial illustrations of the toilet as
might be expected. The ladies’ combs were generally coarse and large
in the teeth, but often very elaborately and beautifully ornamented.
The mirror was, as at former periods, merely a circular piece of metal
or glass, set in a case, which was carved with figures or ornaments
externally. The vocabularies mention the mirror as one of the usual
objects with which a chamber should be furnished.

[Illustration: _No. 263. A Dealer in Mercery._]

Our cut No. 263 is taken from a manuscript (MS. Cotton. Tiberius, A.
vii. fol. 93, r^o) of the English translation of the singular work of
the French writer, Guillaume de Deguilleville, entitled “Le Pélerinage
de la Vie Humaine,” a poem which bears a striking resemblance in its
general character to the “Pilgrim’s Progress” of Bunyan. The English
version, which is in verse, and entitled simply the “Pilgrim,” has been
ascribed to Lydgate. In the course of his adventures, the pilgrim comes
to the lady Agyographe, who is represented as dealing in “mercerye,”
but the enumeration of articles embraced under that term is rather

    _Quod sche, “Geve_ (if) _I schal the telle,_
    _Mercerye I have to selle;_
    _In boystes_ (boxes) _soote_ (sweet) _oynementis,_
    _Therewith to don allegementis_ (to give relief)
    _To ffolkes whiche be not glade,_
    _But discorded and mallade,_
    _And hurte with perturbacyouns_
    _Off many trybulacyouns._
    _I have knyves, phylletys, callys,_
    _At ffeestes to hang upon wallys;_
    _Kombes mo than nyne or ten,_
    _Bothe ffor horse and eke ffor men;_
    _Merours also, large and brode,_
    _And ffor the syght wonder gode;_
    _Off hem I have fful greet plenté,_
    _For ffolke that haven volunté_
    _Byholde hemsilffe therynne.”_

Our cut represents the interior of the house of the lady mercer, with
the various articles enumerated in the text; the boxes of ointment, the
horse-combs, the men’s combs, and the mirrors. She first offers the
pilgrim a mirror, made so as to flatter people, by representing them
handsomer than they really were, which the pilgrim refuses:--

    _“Madame,” quod I, “yow not displeese,_
    _This myroure schal do me noon eese;_
    _Wherso that I leese or wynne,_
    _I wole nevere looke thereinne.”_
    _But ryght anoon myne happe it was_
    _To loken in another glasse,_
    _In the whiche withouten wene_ (without doubt)
    _I sawe mysylff ffoule and uncleene,
    _And to byholde ryght hydous,_
    _Abhomynabel, and vecyous._
    _That merour and that glas_
    _Schewyd_ (showed) _to me what I was_.

In the celebrated “Romance of the Rose,” one of the heroines,
Belacueil, is introduced, adorning her head with a fillet, and with
this head-dress contemplating herself in a mirror:--

    _Belacueil souvent se remire,_
    _Dedans son miroer se mire,_
    _Savoir s’il est si bien seans._

There is a representation of this scene in the beautiful illuminated
manuscript of the “Romance of the Rose” in the British Museum (MS.
Harl. No. 4425), in which, singularly enough, the mirror itself,
which is evidently of glass, is represented as being convex, though
perhaps we must attribute this appearance to the unskilfulness of the
designer, who in his attempt to show that the mirror was round, failed
in perspective. In our first cut, from Guillaume de Deguilleville, it
will be observed that the artist, in order to show that the articles
intended to be represented are mirrors, and not plates, or any other
round implements, has drawn the reflections of faces, although nobody
is looking into them. Another peculiarity in the illumination of the
“Romance of the Rose,” a portion of which is represented in our cut No.
264, is that the mirror is fixed against the wall, instead of being
held in the hand when used, as appears to have been more generally the
case. Standing-mirrors seem not to have been yet in use; but before the
end of the fifteenth century, glass mirrors, which appear to have been
invented in Belgium or Germany, came into use.

[Illustration: _No. 264. Lady and Mirror._]



During the fifteenth century, society in England was going through a
transition which was less visible on the surface than it was great
and effectual at the heart. France and England were both torn by
revolutionary struggles, but with very different results; for while
in France the political power of the middle classes was destroyed,
and the country was delivered to the despotism of the crown and of
the great lords, in our country it was the feudal nobility which was
ruined, while the municipal bodies had obtained an increased importance
in the state, and the landed gentry gained more independence and
power from the decline of that of the great feudal barons. Yet in
both countries feudalism itself, in its real character, was rapidly
passing away--in France, before the power of the crown; in England,
before the remodelling and reformation of society. While the substance
of feudalism was thus perishing, its outward forms appeared to be
more sought than ever, and the pride and ostentation of rank, and its
arrogance too, prevailed during the fifteenth century to a greater
degree than at any previous period. The court of Burgundy, itself
only in origin a feudal principality, had set itself up as the model
of feudalism, and there the old romances of chivalry were remodelled
and published anew, and were read eagerly as the mirror of feudal
doctrines. The court of Burgundy was remarkable for its wonderful pomp
and magnificence, and for its ostentatious display of wealth; it was
considered the model of lordly courtesy and high breeding, and was the
centre of literature and art; and circumstances had brought the court
of England into intimate connection with it, so that the influence of
Burgundian fashions was greater during this period in England than that
of the fashions of the court of France. There can be no doubt, too,
that the social character in England and in France were now beginning
to diverge widely from each other. The condition of the lower class
in France was becoming more and more miserable, and the upper classes
were becoming more licentious and immoral; whereas, in England, though
serfdom or villanage still existed in name, and in law, the peasantry
had been largely enfranchised, and it was gradually disappearing as a
fact; and their landlords, the country gentry, lived among them in more
kindly and more intimate intercourse, instead of treating them with
tyrannical cruelty, and dragging them off to be slaughtered in their
private wars. Increased commerce had spread wealth among the middle
classes, and had brought with it, no doubt, a considerable increase of
social comfort. Social manners were still very coarse, but it is quite
evident that the efforts of the religious reformers, the Lollards, were
improving the moral tone of society in the middle and lower classes.

People had, moreover, begun now to discuss great social questions. The
example of this had been given in England in the celebrated poem of
“Piers Ploughman,” in the middle of the fourteenth century, and such
questions were mooted very extensively by the Lollards, who held as a
principle the natural equality of man. This was a doctrine which was
accepted very slowly, and was certainly discountenanced by the Roman
Catholic preachers, who encouraged the belief that the division of
society into distinct classes was a permanent judgment of God, and
even invented legends to account for its origin. Long after feudalism
had ceased, it was difficult to disabuse people of the opinion that
the blood which flowed in the veins of a gentleman was of a different
kind from that of a peasant, or even from that of a burgher. One of
the legendary explanations of these divisions of blood is given by a
poetical writer of the reign of Henry VII., named Alexander Barclay,
who has left us seven “eclogues,” as he calls them, on the social
questions which agitated men’s minds in his day. One day, according
to this story, while Adam was absent occupied with his agricultural
labours, Eve sat at home on their threshold, with all her children
about her, when suddenly she became aware of the approach of the
Creator, and, ashamed of the great number of them, and fearful that
her productiveness might be misinterpreted, she hurriedly concealed
those which were the least well-favoured. “Some of them she placed
under hay, some under straw and chaff, some in the chimney, and some
in a tub of draff; but such as were fair and well made she wisely and
cunningly kept with her.” God told her that he had come to see her
children, that he might promote them in their different degrees; upon
which she presented them in their order of birth. God then ordained
the eldest to be an emperor, the second to be a king, and the third
a duke to guide an army; of the rest he made earls, lords, barons,
squires, knights, and “hardy champions.” Some he appointed to be
“judges, mayors, and governors, merchants, sheriffs, and protectors,
aldermen, and burgesses.” While all this was going on, Eve began to
think of her other children, and, unwilling that they should lose their
share of honours, she now produced them from their hiding-places.
They appeared with their hair rough, and powdered with chaff, some
full of straws, and some covered with cobwebs and dust, “that anybody
might be frightened at the sight of them.” They were black with dirt,
ill-favoured in countenance, and mishapen in stature, and God did not
conceal his disgust. “None,” he said, “can make a vessel of silver
out of an earthen pitcher, or goodly silk out of a goat’s fleece, or
a bright sword of a cow’s tail; neither will I, though I can, make a
noble gentleman out of a vile villain. You shall all be ploughmen and
tillers of the ground, to keep oxen and hogs, to dig and delve, and
hedge and dike, and in this wise shall ye live in endless servitude.
Even the townsmen shall laugh you to scorn; yet some of you shall be
allowed to dwell in cities, and shall be admitted to such occupations
as those of makers of puddings, butchers, cobblers, tinkers,
costard-mongers, hostlers, or daubers.” Such, the teller of the story
informs us, was the beginning of servile labour.

A song of the fifteenth century, printed in the collection of songs
and carols edited for the Percy Society, the burthen of which is the
necessity of money in all conditions, describes the different ranks
and their various aspirations in the following order: the yeoman
who desires to become a gentleman, the gentleman who seeks to be a
squire, the squire who would be a knight, the lettered man who seeks
distinction in the schools, the merchant who aspired to rise to wealth,
and the lawyer who sought promotion at the bar. In the interesting
“Recueil de Poésies Françoises des xv^e et xvi^e siècles,” by M. de
Montaiglon (vol. iii. pp. 138, 147), there are two poems, probably of
the latter part of the fifteenth century, entitled _Les Souhaitz des
Hommes_ (the wishes of the men) and _Les Souhaitz des Femmes_ (the
wishes of the women), in which the various classes are made to declare
that which they desire most. Thus dukes, counts, and knights desire
to be skilful in warlike accomplishments; the president in parliament
desires the gold chain and the seat of honour, with wisdom in giving
judgment; the advocate wishes for eloquence in court, and for a fair
bourgeoise or damoiselle at home to make his house joyful; the burgher
wishes for a good fire in winter, and a good supply of fat capons; and
the clergy are made to wish for good cheer and handsome women. The
wishes of the women are on the whole, perhaps, more characteristic than
those of the men. Thus, the queen wishes to be able to love God and the
king, and to live in peace; the duchess, to have all the enjoyments
and pleasures of wealth; the countess, to have a husband who was loyal
and brave; the knight’s lady, to hunt the stag in the green woods; the
damoiselle, or lady of gentle blood, also loved hunting, and wished
for a husband valiant in war; and the chamber-maiden took pleasure in
walking in the fair fields by the river-side; while the bourgeoise
loved above all things a soft bed at night, with a good pillow, and
clean white sheets. That part of society which now comes chiefly under
our notice had fallen into two classes, that which boasted gentle
blood, and the ungentle, or burgher class, and this was particularly
shown among the ladies, for the bourgeoise sought continually to
imitate the gentlewoman, or _damoiselle_, who, on her part, looked on
these encroachments of the other with great jealousy. M. de Montaiglon
has printed in the collection just quoted (vol. v. p. 5) a short poem
entitled, “The Debate between the Damoiselle and the Bourgeoise,” in
which the exclusive rights of gentle blood are strongly claimed and
disputed. We have seen the same ambition of the wives of burghers and
yeomen to ape the gentlewoman as far back as the days of Chaucer, and
it now often becomes a subject of popular satire. Yet we must not
forget that this desire to imitate higher society assisted much in
refining the manners of the middle classes. M. de Montaiglon (vol. ii.
p. 18) has printed a short piece in verse of the latter part of the
fifteenth century, entitled the “Doctrinal des Filles,” containing
the sentiments which teachers sought to implant in the minds of young
ladies, and it will suit England at that time equally with France. The
young ladies are here recommended to be bashful; not to be forward
in falling in love; to pay proper attention to their dress, and to
courteousness in behaviour; and not to be too eager in dancing. From
all that we gather from the writers of the time, the love of dancing
appears at this period to have been carried to a very great degree of
extravagance, and to have often led to great dissoluteness in social
manners, and the more zealous moralists preached against the dance with
much earnestness. The author of our “Doctrinal” admonishes the young
unmarried girl to dance with moderation when she is at the “carol”
(the name of the ordinary dance), lest people who see her dancing too
eagerly should take her for a dissolute woman--

    _Fille, quant serez en karolle,_
    _Dansez gentiment par mesure,_
    _Car, quant fille se desmesure,_
    _Tel la voit qui la tient pour folle._

The young lady is next cautioned against talking scandal, against
believing in dreams, against drinking too much wine, and against being
too talkative at table. She was to avoid idleness, to respect the aged,
not to allow herself to be kissed in secret (kissing in public was
the ordinary form of salutation), and not to be quarrelsome. She was
especially to avoid being alone with a priest, except at confession,
for it was dangerous to let priests haunt the house where there were
young females--

    _Fille, hormis confession,_
    _Seullette ne parlez à prebstre;_
    _Laissez-les en leur eglise estre,_
    _Sans ce qu’ilz hantent vos maisons._

These lines, written and published in a bigoted Roman Catholic country,
by a man who was evidently a staunch Romanist, and addressed to
young women as their rule of behaviour, present perhaps one of the
strongest evidences we could have of the evil influence exercised by
the Romish clergy on social morals, a fact, however, of which there are
innumerable other proofs.

Whatever may have been the effect of such teaching on the better
educated classes, the general character of the women of the middle and
lower classes appears to have been of a description little likely to be
conducive to domestic happiness. All the popular materials for social
history represent their morals as being very low, and their tempers as
overbearing and quarrelsome, the consequence of which was a separation
of domestic life among the two sexes after marriage, the husbands, when
not engaged at their work or business, seeking their amusement away
from the house, and the wives assembling with their “gossips,” often at
the public taverns, to drink and amuse themselves. In the old mysteries
and morality plays, in which there was a good deal of quiet satire on
the manners of the age in which they were composed and acted, Noah’s
wife appears often as the type of the married woman in the burgher
class, and her temper seems to have become almost proverbial. In the
“Towneley Mysteries,” when Noah acquaints his wife with the approach of
the threatened deluge, and of his orders to build the ark, she abuses
him so grossly as a common carrier of ill news, that he is provoked
to strike her; she returns the blow, and they have a regular battle,
in which the husband has the advantage, but he is glad to escape from
her tongue, and proceed to his work. In the “Chester Mysteries,”
Noah’s wife will not go into the ark; and when all is ready, the flood
beginning, and the necessity of taking her in apparent, she refuses to
enter, unless she is allowed to take her gossips with her:--

    _Yea, sir, sette up youer saile,_
    _And rowe fourth with evill haile,_
    _For withouten fayle
    I will not oute of this towne,_
    _But I have my gossippes everyechone_ (every one)
    _One foote further I will not gone_ (go).
    _They shall not drowne, by Sante John,_
    _And I maye save ther life!_
    _They loven me full wel, by Christe!_
    _But thout lett them into they cheiste_,_
    _Elles_ (otherwise) _rowe nowe wher the leiste_ (where you like),
    _And gette thee a newe wiffe_.

It is to be supposed that Noah, when he wanted her, had found her with
her gossips in the tavern. At last, Noah’s three sons are obliged to
drag their mother into the “boat,” when a scene occurs which appears
thus briefly indicated in the text,--


    _Welckome, wiffe, into this botte!_

             Noye’s Wiffe.

    _Have thou that for thy note!_      [She beats him.]


    _Ha, ha! marye, this is hotte!_
    _It is good for to be still._

The conversation of these “gossips,” when they met, was loose and
coarse in the extreme, and, as described in contemporary writings, the
practice even of profane swearing prevailed generally among both sexes
to a degree which, to our ears, would sound perfectly frightful--it was
one of the vices against which the moralists preached most bitterly.
Life, indeed, in spite of its occasional refinement in the higher
ranks of society, was essentially coarse at this period, and we can
hardly conceive much delicacy of people who dieted as, for instance,
the family of the earl of Northumberland are reported to have done in
the household book, compiled in 1512, which was published by bishop
Percy. I only give the breakfast allowances, which, on flesh-days,
were “for my lord and my lady,” a loaf of bread “in trenchers,” two
manchets (loaves of fine meal), one quart of beer (or, as we should
now call it, ale), a quart of wine, half a chine of mutton, or a chine
of beef boiled; for “my lord Percy and Mr. Thomas Percy” (the two
elder children), half a loaf of household bread, a manchet, one pottle
of beer (two quarts--they were not yet allowed wine), a chicken, or
else three mutton bones boiled; “breakfasts for the nurcery, for my
lady Margaret and Mr. Ingram Percy” (who in fact were mere children),
a manchet, one quart of beer, and three mutton bones boiled; for my
lady’s gentlewomen, a loaf of household bread, a pottle of beer, and
three mutton bones boiled, or else a piece of beef boiled. It will be
seen here that the family dined two to a plate, or mess, as was the
usual custom in the middle ages. On fish-days, the breakfast allowances
were as follows: for my lord and my lady, a loaf of bread in trenchers,
two manchets, a quart of beer, a quart of wine, two pieces of salt
fish, six baked herrings, or a dish of sprats; for the two elder sons,
half a loaf of household bread, a manchet, a pottle of beer, a dish of
butter, a piece of salt fish, a dish of sprats, or three white (fresh)
herrings; for the two children in the nursery, a manchet, a quart of
beer, a dish of butter, a piece of salt fish, a dish of sprats, or
three white herrings; and for my lady’s gentlewomen, a loaf of bread,
a pottle of beer, a piece of salt fish, or three white herrings. We
shall be inclined, in comparing it with our modern style of living, to
consider this as a very substantial meal to begin the day with.

According to the old moral and satirical writers, excessive greediness
in eating had become one of the prevailing vices of this age. Barclay,
in his “Eclogues,” gives a strange picture of the bad regulations of
the tables at the courts of great people, in the time of Henry VII.
He describes the tables as served in great confusion, and even as
covered with dirty table-cloths. The food he represents as being bad
in itself, and often ill-cooked. Everybody, he says, was obliged to
eat in a hurry, unless he would lose his chance of eating at all, and
they served the worst dishes first, so that when you had satiated
yourself with food which was hardly palatable, the dainties made their
appearance. This led people to eat more than they wanted. When an
attractive dish did make its appearance, it led literally to a scramble
among the guests:--

    _But if it fortune, as seldome doth befall,_
    _That at beginning come dishes best of all,
    Or_ (before) _thou hast tasted a morsell or twayne,_
    _Thy dish out of sight is taken soon agayne._
    _Slowe be the servers in serving in alway,_
    _But swifte be they after taking thy meate away._
    _A speciall custome is used them among,_
    _No good dish to suffer on borde to be longe._
    _If the dish be pleasaunt, eyther fleshe or fishe,_
    _Ten handes at once swarme in the dishe;_
    _And if it be fleshe, ten knives shalt thou see_
    _Mangling the flesh and in the platter flee;_
    _To put there thy handes is perill without fayle,_
    _Without a gauntlet or els a glove of mayle._

It would thus seem that the servers left the guests, except those at
the high table, to help themselves. It appears that in the earlier
part of the sixteenth century, the English had gained the character
of keeping the most profuse tables, and being the greatest eaters, in
Europe. A scrap preserved in a manuscript of the reign of Henry VIII.,
and printed in the “Reliquiæ Antiquæ” (vol. i. p. 326), offers rather a
curious excuse for this character. There was a merchant of England, we
are told, who adventured into far countries, and when he had been there
a month or more, a great lord invited this English merchant to dinner.
And when they were at dinner, the lord wondered that he eat not more of
his meat, for, said he, “Englishmen are called the greatest feeders in
the world, and it is reported that one man will eat as much as six of
another nation, and more victuals are consumed there than in any other
region.” “It is true,” the merchant replied, “it is so, and for three
reasonable causes so much victual is served on the table; one of which
is, for love, another, for physic, and the third, for dread. Sir, as
concerns the first, we are accustomed to have many divers meats for our
friends and kinsfolk, because some love one manner of meat, and some
another, and we wish every man to be satisfied. Secondly, in regard of
physic, because for divers maladies which people have, some men will
eat one meat, and some another, it is desirable that everybody should
be suited. The third cause is for dread; for we have so great abundance
and plenty in our realm, of beasts and fowls, that if we should not
kill and destroy them, they would destroy and devour us.” It may be
remarked that, during this period, the English merchants and burghers
in general seem to have kept very good tables, and that the lower
orders, and even the peasantry, appear to have been by no means ill fed.

The confusion in serving at table described by Alexander Barclay was
no doubt caused in a great measure by the numerous troops of riotous
and unruly serving men and followers, who were kept by the noblemen
and greater land-holders, and who formed everywhere one of the curses
of society. Within the household, they had become so unmanageable
that their masters made vain attempts to regulate them; while abroad
they were continually engaged in quarrels, often sanguinary ones,
with countrymen or townsmen, or with the retainers of other noblemen
or gentlemen, in which their masters considered that it concerned
their credit to support and protect them, so that the quarrels of the
servants became sometimes feuds between their lords. The old writers,
of all descriptions, bear witness to the bad conduct of serving men and
servants in general, and to their riotousness, and especially of the
_garçons_, or, as they were called in English, “lads.” Cain’s _garcio_,
in the “Towneley Mysteries,” was intended as a picture of this class,
in all their coarseness and vulgarity; and the character of Jak Garcio,
in the play of “The Shepherds,” in the same collection, is another type
of them.

We have seen that the breakfast in the household of the Percys was
a very substantial meal, but it seems not to have been generally
considered a regular meal, either as to what was eaten at it, or
as to the hour at which it was taken. Perhaps this was left to the
convenience, or caprice, of individuals.[53] We have a curious
description of the division of the occupations of the day in a princely
household, in an account which has been left us of the household
regulations of the duchess of York, mother of king Edward IV., which,
however, were strongly influenced by the pious character of that
princess, who spent much time in religious duties and observances. Her
usual hour of rising was seven o’clock, when she heard matins; she then
“made herself ready,” or dressed herself, for the occupations of the
day, and when this was done, she had a low mass in her chamber. After
this mass, she took something “to recreate nature,” which was, in fact,
her breakfast, though it is afterwards stated that it was not a regular
meal. She then went to chapel, and remained at religious service until
dinner, which, as we are further told, took place, “upon eating days,”
at eleven o’clock, with a first dinner in the time of high mass for
the various officers whose duty it was to attend at table; but, on
fasting days, the dinner hour was twelve o’clock, with a later dinner
for carvers and waiters. After dinner, the princess devoted an hour
to give audience to all who had any business with her; she then slept
for a quarter of an hour, and then spent her time in prayer until the
first peal of even-song (vespers), when “she drank wine or ale at her
pleasure.” She went to chapel, and returned thence to supper, which,
on eating days, was served at five o’clock, the carvers and servers at
table having supped at four. The ordinary diet in the house of this
princess appears to have been extremely simple. On Sunday, Tuesday,
and Thursday, the household was served at dinner with beef and mutton,
and one roast; at supper with “leyched” beef and roast mutton; on
Monday and Wednesday, they had boiled beef and mutton at dinner, and
at supper, the same as on the three other days; on Friday, salt fish
and two dishes of fresh fish; and on Saturday, salt fish, one fresh
fish, and butter, for dinner, and salt fish and eggs for supper.
After supper, the princess “disposed herself to be familiar with her
gentlewomen,” with “honest mirth;” and one hour before going to bed she
took a cup of wine, went to her privy closet to pray, and was in bed by
eight o’clock.

The duchess of York is of course to be looked upon as a model of piety
and sobriety, and her hours are not perhaps to be taken as exactly
those of other people, and certainly not her occupations. In the French
“Débat de la Damoiselle et de la Bourgeoise,” the latter accuses the
gentlewoman of late rising. “Before you are awake,” she says, “I am
dressed and have attended to my duties; do not therefore be surprised
if we are more diligent than you, since you sleep till dinner-time.”
“No,” replies the damoiselle, “we must spend our evening in dancing,
and cannot do as you, who go to bed at the same time as your hens.”

[Illustration: _No. 265. Lady at her Distaff._]

It has been stated already that, even in the highest ranks of
society, the ladies were usually employed at home on useful, and
often on profitable work. This work embraced the various processes
in the manufacture of linen and cloth, as well as the making it up
into articles of dress, and embroidery, netting, and other similar
occupations. The spinning-wheel was a necessary implement in every
household, from the palace to the cottage. In 1437, John Notyngham, a
rich grocer of Bury St. Edmunds, bequeathed to one of his legatees,
“j spynnyng whel et j par carpsarum,” meaning probably “a pair of
cards,” an implement which is stated in the “Promptorium Parvulorum”
to be especially a “wommanys instrument.” A few years previously,
in 1418, Agnes Stubbard, a resident in the same town, bequeathed to
two of her maids, each, one pair of wool-combs, one “kembyng-stok”
(a combing-stock, or machine for holding the wool to be combed),
one wheel, and one pair of cards; and to another woman a pair of
wool-combs, a wheel, and a pair of cards. John Baret, of Bury, in
1463, evidently a rich man with a very large house and household,
speaks in his will of a part of the house, or probably a room, which
was distinguished as the “spinning house.” Our cut No. 265, from an
illuminated Bible of the fifteenth century in the Imperial Library at
Paris (No. 6829), represents a woman of apparently an ordinary class of
society at work with her distaff under her arm. The next cut (No. 266)
is taken from a fine illuminated manuscript of the well-known French
“Boccace des Nobles Femmes,” and illustrates the story of “Cyrille,”
the wife of king Tarquin. We have here a queen and her maidens employed
in the same kind of domestic labours. The lady on the left is occupied
with her combs, or cards, and her combing-stock; the other sits at her
distaff, also supported by a stock, instead of holding it under her
arm; and the queen, with her hand on the shuttle, is performing the
final operation of weaving.

[Illustration: _No. 266. A Queen and her Damsels at Work._]

Some of the more elegant female accomplishments, which were unknown in
the earlier ages, were now coming into vogue. Dancing was, as already
stated, a more favourite amusement than ever, and it received a new
_éclat_ from the frequent introduction of new dances, of which some of
the old popular writers give us long lists. Some of these, too, were
of a far more active and exciting description than formerly. One of
the personages in the early interlude of “The Four Elements,” talks of

    _That shall both daunce and spryng,_
    _And torne clene above the grounde,_
    _With fryscas and with gambawdes round,_
    _That all the hall shall ryng._

[Illustration: _No. 267. A Lady Artist._]

Music, also, was more extensively cultivated as a domestic
accomplishment; and it was a more common thing to meet with ladies
who indulged in literary pursuits. Sometimes, too, the ladies of the
fifteenth century practised drawing and painting,--arts which, instead
of being, as formerly, restricted almost to the clergy, had now passed
into the hands of the laity, and were undergoing rapid improvement.
The illuminated manuscript of “Boccace des Nobles Femmes,” which
furnished the subject of our last cut, contains several pictures of
ladies occupied in painting, one of which (illustrating the chapter on
“Marcie Vierge”) is represented in our cut No. 267. The lady has her
palette, her colour-box, and her stone for grinding the colours, much
as an artist of the present day would have, though she is seated before
a somewhat singularly formed framework. She is evidently painting her
own portrait, for which purpose she uses the mirror which hangs over
the colour-box. It is rather curious that the tools which lie by the
side of the grinding-stone are those of a sculptor, and not those of
a painter, so that it was no doubt intended we should suppose that
she combined the two branches of the art. In one of the illuminations
of the manuscript of the “Romance of the Rose,” which has been quoted
before, preserved in the British Museum, we have a picture of a male
painter, copied in our cut No. 268, and intended to represent Apelles,
who is working with a palette and easel, exactly as artists do at
the present day: both he and our lady artist in the cut are evidently
painting on board. We begin now also to trace the existence of a great
number of domestic sports and pastimes, some of which still remain in
usage, but which we have not here room to enumerate.

[Illustration: _No. 268. A Painter at his Easel._]

Out of doors, the garden continued to be the favourite resort of the
ladies. It would be easy to pick out numerous descriptions of gardens
from the writers of the fifteenth century. Lydgate thus describes the
garden of the rich “churl:”--

    _Whilom ther was in a smal village,_
    _As myn autor makethe rehersayle,_
    _A chorle, whiche hadde lust and a grete corage_
    _Within hymself, be diligent travayle,_
    _To array his gardeyn with notable apparayle,_
    _Of lengthe and brede yelicke_ (equally) _square and longe,_
    _Hegged and dyked to make it sure and stronge._

    _Alle the aleis were made playne with sond_ (sand),
    _The benches_ (banks) _turned with newe turvis grene,_
    _Sote herbers_ (sweet beds of plants), _with (fountain)
        _at the honde,
    _That wellid up agayne the sonne schene,_
    _Lyke silver stremes as any cristalle clene,
    The burbly wawes_ (bubbling waves) _in up boyling,_
    _Rounde as byralle ther beamys out shynynge_.

    _Amyddis the gardeyn stode a fressh lawrer_ (laurel),
    _Theron a bird syngyng bothe day and nyghte_.

And at a somewhat later period, Stephen Hawes, in his singular poem
entitled “The Pastime of Pleasure,” describes a larger and more
magnificent garden. Amour arrives at the gate of the garden of La Bel
Pucel, and requests the portress to conduct him to her mistress--

    _“Truly,” quod she, “in the garden grene_
    _Of many a swete and sundry flowre_
    _She maketh a garlonde that is veray shene,_
    _Wythe trueloves wrought in many a coloure,_
    _Replete with swetenes and dulcet odoure;_
    _And all alone, wythout company,_
    _Amyddes an herber she sitteth plesauntly.”_

From the description of this “gloryous” garden that follows, we might
imagine that the practice of cutting or training trees and flowers into
fantastic shapes, as was done with box-trees in the last century, had
prevailed among the gardeners of the fifteenth. The garden of La Bel
Pucel is described as being--

    _Wyth Flora paynted and wrought curyously,_
    _In divers knottes of marvaylous gretenes;_
    _Rampande lyons stode up wondersly,_
    _Made all of herbes with dulcet swetenes,_
    _Wyth many dragons of marvaylos likenes,_
    _Of dyvers floures made ful craftely,_
    _By Flora couloured wyth colours sundry._

    _Amiddes the garden so moche delectable_
    _There was an herber fayre and quadrante,_
    _To paradyse right well comparable,_
    _Set all about with floures fragraunt;_
    _And in the myddle there was resplendyshaunte_
    _A dulcet spring and marvaylous fountaine,_
    _Of golde and asure made all certaine._
           *       *       *       *       *
    _Besyde whiche fountayne, the moost fayre lady_
    _La Bel Pucel was gayly syttyng;_
    _Of many floures fayre and ryally_
    _A goodly chaplet she was in makynge._

[Illustration: _No. 269. A Lady and her Maidens weaving Garlands._]

I have had occasion before to observe that garlands and chaplets of
flowers were in great request in the middle ages, and the making of
them was a favourite occupation. Our cut No. 269, taken from the
illuminated calendar prefixed to the splendid manuscript “Heures” of
Anne of Brittany in the Imperial Library in Paris, where it illustrates
the month of May, represents the interior of a garden, with a lady thus
employed with her maidens. This garden appears to be a square piece
of ground, surrounded by a high wall, with a central compartment or
lawn enclosed by a fence of trellis-work and a hedge of rose trees.
Pictures of gardens will also be found in the MS. of the “Romance of
the Rose” already referred to, and in other illuminated books, but the
illuminators were unable to represent the elaborate descriptions of the
poets. Besides flowers, every garden contained herbs for medicinal and
other purposes, such as love-philtars, which were in great repute in
the middle ages. In the romance of “Gerard de Nevers” (or La Violette),
an old woman goes into the garden attached to the castle where she
lives, to gather herbs for making a deadly poison. This incident is
represented in our cut No. 270, taken from a magnificent illuminated
manuscript of the prose version of this romance in the Imperial
Library in Paris. The garden is here again surrounded by a wall, with
a postern gate leading to the country, and we have the same trellis
fencings as before. It appears to have been the usual custom thus to
enclose and protect the beds in a garden with a trellis fence.

[Illustration: _No. 270. A Lady gathering Herbs._]

The various games and exercises practised by people out of doors
seem to have differed little at this time from those belonging to
former periods, except that from time to time we meet with allusions
to kinds of amusement which have not before been mentioned, although
they were probably well known. Among the drawings of the borders of
illuminated manuscripts, from the thirteenth century to the beginning
of the sixteenth, we meet with groups of children and of adults,
which represent, doubtless, games of which both the names and the
explanations are lost; and sometimes we are surprised to find thus
represented games which otherwise we should have supposed to be of
modern invention. One very curious instance may be stated. In the now
rather celebrated manuscript of the French romance of “Alexander,” in
the Bodleian Library at Oxford, which was written and illuminated in
the fourteenth century, we have representations of a puppet show, which
appears to be identical with our modern Punch and Judy. We copy one of
these curious early drawings in our cut No. 271.

[Illustration: _No. 271. A Puppet Show._]

Among the pastimes most popular at this time with the lower and middle
classes were archery, the practice of which was enforced by authority,
and shooting with the crossbow, as well as most of the ordinary rough
games known at a later period, such as football and the like. The
English archers were celebrated throughout Europe. The poet Barclay,
who wrote at the close of the century, makes the shepherd in one of his
eclogues not only boast of his skill in archery, but he adds--

    _I can dance the ray; I can both pipe and sing,_
    _If I were mery; I can both hurle and sling;_
    _I runne, I wrestle, I can welle throwe the barre,_
    _No shepherd throweth the axeltree so farre;_
    _If I were mery, I could well leape and spring;_
    _I were a man mete to serve a prince or king._

[Illustration: _No. 272. A Party Hawking._]

[Illustration: _No. 273. A Royal Carriage and Escort._]

Bull-baiting, bear-baiting, and such like sports, were also pursued
with avidity; and even gentlemen and young noblemen took part in
them. Any game, in fact, which produced violent exercise and violent
excitement was in favour with all ranks. Among the higher classes,
hunting and hawking were pursued with more eagerness than ever, and
they become now the subjects of numerous written treatises, setting
forth their laws and regulations. When gentlemen were riding out for
pleasure, they were usually accompanied with hawks and hounds. In the
annexed cut (No. 272), taken from an illuminated manuscript of the
French Boccaccio at Paris (Imperial Library, MS. No. 6887), a party
thus attended meets another party on horseback, and they are in the act
of saluting each other. Horses were still almost the only conveyance
from place to place, though we now more often meet with pictures of
carriages; but, though evidently intended to be very gorgeous, they
are of clumsy construction, and seem only to have been used by princes
or great nobles. I give two examples from a superbly illuminated
manuscript of the French translation of “Valerius Maximus,” in the
great national library in Paris (No. 6984), executed in the latter part
of the fifteenth century. The first (cut No. 273) is a royal car, in
which a throne has been placed for the king, who sits in it in state.
His guards lead the horses. The form of the carriage is very simple;
it is a mere cart on wheels, without any springs, and has a covering
supported on two large hoops, which are strengthened by cross-bars
resembling the spokes of a wheel. In the second example (cut No. 274),
the carriage bears some resemblance to a modern omnibus. It is intended
to represent the incident in Roman history, where the unfilial Tullia
caused her charioteer to drive over the body of her father, Servius
Tullus, who had been slain by her husband Tarquin the Proud. The
ladies appear to sit on benches inside the carriage, while the driver
is mounted on the horse nearest to it. These carriages still retained
the name of carts, although they appear to have been used chiefly on
state occasions. Riding in them must have been very uneasy, and they
were exposed to accidents. When Richard II. made his grand entry into
London, a ceremony described by Richard de Maidstone in Latin verse,
the ladies of the court rode in two cars, or carts, one of which fell
over, and exposed its fair occupants in a not very decorous manner to
the jeers of the multitude.

[Illustration: _No. 274. Tullia Riding over her Father’s Body._]

As yet carriages seem not to have been used in travelling, which was
performed on horseback or on foot. During the century of which we are
speaking, especially after the accession of Henry VI. to the English
throne, the roads were extremely insecure, the country being infested
by such numerous bands of robbers that it was necessary to travel in
considerable companies, and well armed. From this circumstance, and
from the political condition of the age, the retinue of the nobility
and gentry presented a very formidable appearance; and such as could
only afford to travel with one or two servants generally attached
themselves to some powerful neighbour, and contrived to make their
occasions of locomotion coincide with his. We find several allusions
to the dangers of travelling in the Paston Letters. In a letter dated
in 1455 or 1460 (it is uncertain which), Margaret Paston desires her
husband, then in London, to pay a debt for one of their friends,
because, on account of the robbers who beset the road, money could not
be sent safely from Norfolk to the capital. A year or two earlier,
we hear of a knight of Suffolk riding with a hundred horsemen, armed
defensively and offensively, besides the accompaniment of friends. As
travelling, however, became frequent, it led to the multiplication
of places of entertainment on the roads, and large hostelries and
inns were now scattered pretty thickly over the country, not only in
all the smaller towns, but often in villages, and sometimes even in
comparatively lonely places. In the manuscript of the French Boccaccio
in the Imperial Library (No. 6887), there is a picture (copied in our
cut No. 275) representing a publican serving his liquor on a bench
outside his door.

[Illustration: _No. 275. A Publican._]

The tavern was the general lounge of the idle, and even of the
industrious, during their hours of relaxation; and in the towns a good
part of the male population who had not domestic establishments of
their own appear to have lived at the taverns and eating-houses, the
allurements of which drew them into every sort of dissipation, which
ended in the ruin of men’s fortunes and health. The poet Occleve, in
his reminiscences of his own conduct, describes the life of the riotous
young men of his time. The sign which hung at the tavern door, he says,
was always a temptation to him, which he could seldom resist. The
tavern was the resort of women of light character, and was the scene of
brawls and outrages; by the former of which he was frequently seduced
into extravagant expenditure, but his want of courage, he confesses,
kept him out of the latter. Westminster gate was then celebrated for
its taverns and cooks’ shops, at which the poet Occleve’s lavishness
made him a welcome guest:--

    _Wher was a gretter maister eek than y,_
    _Or bet acqweyntid at Westmynsler yate,_
    _Among the taverneres namely_ (especially)
    _And cookes? Whan I cam, eerly or late,_
    _I pynchid nat at hem in myne acate_ (purchase of provisions),
    _But paied hem as that they axe wolde;_
    _Wherfore I was the welcomer algate_ (always),
    _And for a verray_ (true) _gentilman yholde_.

Here he spent his nights in such a manner that he went to bed later
than any of his companions, except perhaps two, whose time of going
to bed he says that he did not know, it was so late, but he asserts
that they loved their beds so well that they never left them till
near prime, or six o’clock in the morning, which thus appears, at
the beginning of the fifteenth century, to have been considered an
excessively late hour for rising.

The tavern was also the resort of women of the middle and lower orders,
who assembled there to drink, and to gossip. It has been already stated
that, in the mysteries, or religious plays, Noah was represented as
finding his wife drinking with her gossips at the tavern when he wanted
to take her into the ark. The meetings of gossips in taverns form the
subjects of many of the popular songs of the fifteenth and sixteenth
centuries, both in England and France. It appears that these meetings
of gossips in taverns were the first examples of what we now call a
pic-nic, for each woman took with her some provisions, and with these
the whole party made a feast in common. A song of perhaps the middle of
the fifteenth century, printed in my collection of “Songs and Carols,”
edited for the Percy Society, gives us rather a picturesque description
of one of these gossip-meetings. The women, having met accidentally,
the question is put where the best wine was to be had, and one of them
replies that she knows where could be procured the best drink in the
town, but that she did not wish her husband to be acquainted with it:--

    _I know a drawght of mery-go-downe,_
    _The best it is in all thys towne;_
    _But yet wold I not, for my gowne,_
    _My husbond it wyst, ye may me trust._

The place of meeting having thus been fixed, they are represented as
proceeding thither two and two, not to attract observation, lest their
husbands might hear of their meeting. “God might send me a stripe or
two,” said one, “if my husband should see me here.” “Nay,” said Alice,
another, “she that is afraid had better go home; I dread no man.” Each
was to carry with her some goose, or pork, or the wing of a capon, or
pigeon pie, or some similar article--

    _And ich_ (each) _off them wyll sumwhat bryng,_
    _Gosse, pygge, or capons wyng,_
    _Pastés off pigeons, or sum other thyng_.

Accordingly, on arriving at the tavern, they call for wine “of the
best,” and then

    _Ech off them brought forth ther dysch;_
    _Sum brought flesh, and sume fysh._

Their conversation runs first on the goodness of the wines, and next on
the behaviour of their husbands, with whom they are all dissatisfied.
In one copy of the song, a harper makes his appearance, whom they hire,
and dance to his music. When they pay their reckoning, they find, in
one copy of the song, that it amounts to threepence each, and rejoice
that it is so little, while in another they find that each has to
pay sixpence, and are alarmed at the greatness of the amount. They
agree to separate, and go home by different streets, and they are
represented as telling their husbands that they had been to church.
This is no doubt a picture of a common scene in the fifteenth century.
Among the municipal records of Canterbury, there is preserved the
deposition of a man who appears to have been suspected of a robbery,
and who, to prove an alibi, describes all his actions during three
days. On one of these, Monday, he went after eight o’clock in the
evening to a tavern, and there he found “wyfes” drinking, “that is to
say, Goddardes wyfe, Cornewelles wyfe, and another woman,” and he had a
halfpennyworth of beer with them. This was apparently at the beginning
of the reign of Henry VIII.

[Illustration: _No. 276. A Scribe, in Spectacles, from the tapestry of

It has been intimated before, that literature and reading had now
become more general accomplishments than formerly. We can trace among
the records of social history a general spreading of education, which
showed an increasing intellectual agitation; in fact, education,
without becoming more perfect, had become more general. I have already
given figures of the implements of writing at an earlier period. In one
of the compartments of the tapestry of “Nancy” (of the latter part of
this century), engravings of which have been published by M. Achille
Jubinal, we have a figure of a scribe (cut No. 276) with all his
apparatus of writing,--the pen, the penknife, and the portable pen-case
with ink-stand attached. But the most curious article which this scribe
has in use is a pair of _spectacles_. Spectacles, however, we know had
been in existence long before this period. A century earlier, Chaucer’s
“Wife of Bath” observed rather sententiously:--

    _Povert ful often, whan a man is lowe,_
    _Maketh him his God and eek himself to knowe._
    _Povert a_ spectacle _is, as thinketh me,_
    _Thurgh which he may his verray frendes se_.

Lydgate, addressing an old man who was on the point of marrying a young
wife, tells him to

    _Loke sone after a potent_ (staff) _and_ spectacle;
    _Be not ashamed to take hem to thyn ease_.

John Baret, of Bury St. Edmunds, in 1463, left by will to one of the
monks of Bury, his ivory tables (the _tabulæ_ for writing on), and a
pair of spectacles of silver-gilt:--“Item: To daun Johan Janyng, my
tablees of ivory, with the combe, and a payre spectacles of sylvir and
ovir-gilt.” This shows that already in the middle of the fifteenth
century, a pair of spectacles was not an uncommon article.



The Reformation brought with it, or at all events it was coeval with,
a general revolution in society. Although the nobility still kept
up much of their ancient state, feudalism was destroyed during the
reigns of the first two Tudors, while the lower and middle classes of
the population were rising in condition and in the consciousness of
their own importance, and with this rise came an increase of domestic
comforts and social development. It was on the ruins of the monastic
property, confiscated by Henry VIII., that the English gentlemen
gained their highest position, and, by their independence of the old
aristocracy, they assisted in finally breaking its power, and thus
gave a new character to English society, which at the same time was
experiencing influences that came successively from without. Till the
reign of Elizabeth, and after her accession to the throne, there was
a close connection with the Netherlands and Germany, and we imported
most of our novelties and fashions from our Protestant neighbours on
the continent; whilst, from Elizabeth’s reign onwards, and with little
intermission to the present time, France has been our principal model
for imitation. This is a point which is the more necessary to be
observed in treating of this subject, because during the period between
the Reformation and the Commonwealth, the art of engraving in this
country had been carried to little perfection, and was comparatively
rarely practised, and we are obliged to look for our pictorial
illustrations of manners to the works of foreign artists.

[Illustration: _No. 277. Houses in the Streets of a Town, Fifteenth

In towns, domestic architecture experienced no great change in the
course of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Small narrow streets,
with buildings chiefly of the class we term half-timber houses--the
best of which had their lower story of stone, while those above, each
projecting beyond the one below it, consisted of a timber framework
filled up with bricks--occupied the greater part of the town, and
gave it a compact appearance which was quite inconsistent with our
modern notions of sanitary arrangement. In the interior the rooms
were generally small and dark, but domestic comfort seems not to have
been so much overlooked as we are in the habit of supposing. Our cut
No. 277, taken from an engraving in the English edition of Barclay’s
“Ship of Fools,” 1570, gives us a good representation of the general
appearance of houses in a town at that period. In the country a greater
change had taken place in all but the houses of the peasantry. The
older castles had become obsolete, and, with the increasing power
and efficiency of the laws, it was no longer necessary to consult
strength before convenience. The houses of the gentry were, however,
still built of considerable extent, and during the sixteenth century
the older domestic arrangements were only slightly modified. Now,
however, instead of seeking a strong position, people chose situations
that were agreeable and healthful, where they might be protected from
inclemency of weather, and where gardens and orchards might be planted
advantageously. Thus, like the earlier monastic edifices, a gentleman’s
house was built more frequently on low ground than on a hill.

[Illustration: _No. 278. The “Hundred Men’s Hall,” at St. Cross, near

In the sixteenth century, the hall continued to hold its position as
the great public apartment of the house, and in its arrangements it
still differed little from those of an earlier date; it was indeed
now the only part of the house which had not been affected by the
increasing taste for domestic privacy. We have many examples of the
old Gothic hall in this country, not only as it existed and was used
in the sixteenth century, but, in some cases, especially in colleges,
still used for its original purposes. One of the simplest, and at the
same time best, examples is found in the Hospital of St. Cross, near
Winchester, and a sketch of the interior, as represented in our cut
No. 278, will serve to give a general notion of the arrangements of
this part of the mansion in former days. As the hall was frequently the
scene of festivities of every description, a gallery for the musicians
was considered one of its necessary appendages. In some cases, as at
Madresfield in Worcestershire, a gallery ran round two or more sides of
the hall; but generally the music gallery occupied one end of the hall,
opposite the dais. Under it was a passage, separated from the hall by
a wooden screen, usually of panel-work, and having on the opposite
side the kitchen and buttery. In the large halls, the fireplace still
frequently occupied the centre of the hall, where there was a small,
low platform of stone. This is distinctly seen in the preceding view
of the interior of the hall of St. Cross. In our cut No. 279 we give
another example of this kind of fireplace, from the hall at Penshurst
in Kent, where it is still occupied by the iron dogs, or andirons, that
supported the fuel. It may be observed that these latter, in the north
of England and in some other parts, were called cobirons.

[Illustration: _No. 279. Fireplace in the Great Hall at Penshurst,

The implements attached to the fireplace had hitherto been few in
number, and simple in character, but they now became more numerous.
In the inventories previous to the sixteenth century they are seldom
mentioned at all, and the glossaries speak only of tongs and bellows.
In the will of John Baret of Bury, made in 1463, “a payre of tongys
and a payre belwys” are mentioned. John Hedge, a large householder of
the same town in 1504, speaks of “spytts, rakks, cobernys, aundernnys,
trevettes, tongs, with all other iryn werkes moveabyll within my house
longying.” This would seem to show that cobirons and andirons were
not identical, and it has been supposed that the former denomination
belonged more particularly to the rests for supporting the spit.
The schoolmaster of Bury, in 1552, bequeathed to his hostess, “my
cobbornes, the fire pany (? _pan_), and the tonges.” If we turn to the
north, we find in the collection of wills published by the Surtees
Society a more frequent enumeration of the fire implements. William
Blakeson, prebendary of Durham, possessed in 1549 only “a payre
of cobyrons and one payre of tongys.” In 1551, William Lawson, of
Newcastle-on-Tyne, had in his hall “one yryn chymney, and a poor, with
one paire of tonges,” which are valued at the rather high sum of thirty
shillings. This is the first mention of the iron chimney, or grate,
but it occurs continually after the middle of the sixteenth century.
In 1557, the “iron chymney” of the parish clerk of St. Andrew’s in
Newcastle was valued at twenty shillings. The fire implements in the
hall of the farm-house at West Runcton near Northallerton, in 1562,
were “j. cryssett, ij. rachyncrokes, j. pair of tonges, one paire
off cobyrons, j. speitt, one paire off potes.” We find the cresset
frequently included among the implements attached to the fireplace.
The racking-crook was the pothook. In 1564, John Bynley, minor canon
of Durham, had in his hall “one iron chimney, with a bake (_back_),
porre (a _por_, or _poker_), tongs, fier shoel (_fire shovel_), spette
(_spit_), and a littell rake pertening thereto.” The fire-irons in the
hall of Margaret Cottam, widow, of Gateshead, in 1564, were “one iron
chimney, one porr, one payre of toynges, gibcrokes, rakincroke, and
racks.” The gibcrokes was probably a sort of pothook or jack. Nearly
the same list of articles occurs frequently in subsequent inventories.
In 1567, a housekeeper of Durham had among other such articles “a
gallous (_gallows_) of iron with iiij. crocks.” The gallows was, of
course, the cross-bar of iron, which projected across the chimney, and
from which the crooks or chains with hooks at the end for sustaining
pots were suspended; as the gallows turned upon hinges, the pot could
be moved over the sire, or from it, at pleasure, without being taken
from the hook, and as the crooks, of which there were usually more
than one, were of different lengths, the pot might be placed lower
to the fire or higher from it, at will. From the character of some
of these adjuncts to the fireplace, it is evident that the hall fire
was frequently used for cooking. The sixteenth century was the period
at which ornamentation was carried to a very high degree in every
description of household utensil, and to judge from the valuation
of some of these articles in the inventories, they were no doubt of
elegant or elaborate work. Numerous examples of ornamental ironwork,
specially applied to fire-dogs or andirons, will be found in Mr. M. A.
Lower’s interesting paper on the ironworks of Sussex; and many others,
still more elaborate, are preserved in some of our old gentlemen’s
houses in different parts of the country; but this ornamentation was
carried to a far higher degree in the great manufactories on the
continent, from whence our countrymen in the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries obtained a large portion of their richer furniture. The
figure in the middle of the group of fire-irons represented in our cut
No. 280, is an example of a fire-dog of this elaborate description,
preserved in the collection of count Brancaleoni, in Paris, whence
also the other articles in the cut are taken. Most of them explain
themselves; the implement to the right is a somewhat singularly formed
pair of tongs; that immediately beneath the fire-dog is an instrument
for moving the logs of wood which then served as fuel. As a further
example of the remarkable manner in which almost every domestic article
was at this period adorned, we may point out a box-iron, for ironing
linen, &c. (cut No. 281), which is also preserved in one of the French
collections; such an article was of course not made to be exposed
to the action of the fire, and this circumstance gave rise to the
contrivance of forming it into a box, with a separate iron which was to
be heated and placed inside.428

[Illustration: _No. 280. Ornamental Fire-irons, Sixteenth Century._]

[Illustration: _No. 281. A Box-iron, Sixteenth Century._]

[Illustration: _No. 282. Fireplace and Pothook._]

The fire-irons, as we find them enumerated in writings or pictured in
engravings, appear to have formed the same list, or nearly so, though
of course differing in form and ornament according to the varying
fashions of the day, until at a considerably later period they were
reduced to the modern trio of shovel, poker, and tongs. The single
pothook, with a contrivance for lengthening it and shortening it,
is shown in our cut No. 282, taken from one of the remarkable wood
engravings in “Der Weiss Kunig,”--a series of prints illustrative
of the youthful life of Maximilian I. of Germany, who ascended the
imperial throne in 1493. The engravings are of the sixteenth century,
and the form of the fireplace belongs altogether to the age of the
Renaissance. The gallows, with its pothooks or crokes of different
lengths, appears in our cut No. 283, taken from Barclay’s “Ship of
Fools,” the edition of 1570, though the design is somewhat older. The
method of attaching the crooks to one side of the fireplace, when not
in use, is exhibited in this engraving, as also the mode in which
other smaller utensils were attached to the walls. In this latter
instance there are no dogs or andirons in the fireplace, but the pot
or boiler is simply placed upon the fire, without other support. There
were, however, other methods of placing the pot upon the fire; and in
one of the curious wooden sculptures in the church of Kirby Thorpe,
in Yorkshire, representing a cook cleaning his dishes, the boiler is
placed over the fire in a sort of four-legged frame, as represented in
the annexed cut No. 284.

[Illustration: _No. 283. The Fireplace and its uses._]

[Illustration: _No. 284. A Cook cleaning his Dishes._]

Early in the seventeenth century the fireplace had taken nearly its
present form, although the dogs or andirons had not yet been superseded
by the grate, which, however, had already come into use. This later
form of the fireplace is shown in our cut No. 285, taken from one of an
interesting series of prints, executed by the French artist, Abraham
Bosse, in the year 1633. It represents a domestic party frying fritters
in Lent. One of the dogs is seen at the foot of the opening of the

[Illustration: _No. 285. Frying Fritters._]

In the sixteenth century, the articles of furniture in the hall
continued to be much the same as in the century preceding. It continued
to be furnished with hangings of tapestry, but they seem not always to
have been in use; and they were still placed not absolutely against
the wall, but apparently at a little distance from it, so that people
might conceal themselves behind them. If the hall was not a very large
one, a table was placed in the middle, with a long bench on each
side. There was generally a cupboard, or a “hutch,” if not more, with
side tables, one or more chairs, and perhaps a settle, according to
the taste or means of the possessor. We hear now also of tables with
leaves, and of folding tables, as well as of counters, or desks, for
writing, and dressers, or small cupboards. The two latter articles
were evidently, from their names, borrowed from the French. Cushions
were also kept in the hall, for the seats of the principal persons
of the household, or for the females. The furniture of the hall of
William Lawson, of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in 1551, consisted of one table
of wainscot, valued at twenty shillings, two double counters, valued
together at thirty shillings, a drawer and two forms, estimated at five
shillings, two cushions and two chairs, also valued at five shillings,
five other cushions, valued at twelve shillings, two carpet cloths and
a cupboard cloth, valued together at ten shillings, and the hangings
in the hall, estimated to be worth fifty shillings. This seems to have
been a very well furnished hall; that of Robert Goodchild, parish
clerk of St. Andrew’s in Newcastle, in 1557, contained an almery (or
large cupboard), estimated at ten shillings; a counter “of the myddell
bynde,” six shillings; a cupboard, three shillings and fourpence; five
basins and six lavers, eight shillings; seventeen “powder (_pewter_)
doblers,” seventeen shillings; six pewter dishes and a hand-basin,
five shillings; six pewter saucers, eighteen pence; four pottle pots,
five shillings and fourpence, three pint pots and three quart pots,
three shillings; ten candlesticks, six shillings; a little pestle and
a mortar, two shillings; three old chairs, eighteen pence; six old
cushions, two shillings; and two counter-cloths. Much of the furniture
of English houses at this time was imported from Flanders. Jane Lawson,
in the year last mentioned, had in her hall at Little Burdon in
Northumberland, “Flanders counters with their carpets.” She had also
in the hall, a long side table, three long forms and another form,
two chairs, three stools, six new cushions and three old cushions,
and an almery. The whole furniture of the hall of the rectory house
of Sedgefield in Durham, which appears to have been a large house
and well entertained, consisted of a table of plane-tree with joined
frame, two tables of fir with frames, two forms, a settle, and a pair
of trestles. The hall of Bertram Anderson, a rich and distinguished
merchant and alderman of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in 1570, was furnished
with two tables with the carpets (_table-covers_), three forms, one
dozen cushions, half-a-dozen green cushions, one counter with the
carpet, two “basinges” (_basins_), and two covers, one chair, and one
little chair. This is a striking proof of the rarity of chairs even
at this late date. Buffet stools, which are supposed to be the stools
with a flat top and a hole in the middle through which the hand
might be passed to lift them, are also mentioned among the articles
of furniture in the hall at this period. The furniture of the hall
at the manor-house of Croxdale, in the county of Durham, in the year
1571, consisted of one cupboard, one table, two buffet stools, and one
chair; yet Salvin of Croxdale was looked upon as one of the principal
gentry of the Palatinate. In enumerating the furniture of the ancient
hall, we must not forget the arms which were usually displayed there,
especially by such as had dependent upon them a certain number of
men whom it was their duty or their pride to arm. The hall of a rich
merchant of Newcastle, named John Wilkinson, contained in 1571, the
following furniture: one almery, one table of wainscot, one counter,
one little counter, one dresser of wainscot, one “pulk,” three chairs,
three forms, three buffet stools, six cushions of tapestry, six old
cushions of tapestry, six green cushions, two long carpet cloths, two
short carpet cloths, one say carpet cloth, the “hyngars” in the hall,
on the almery head one basin and ewer, one great charger, three new
“doblers,” one little chest for sugar, and one pair of wainscot tables;
and of arms, two jacks, three sallets of iron, one bow and two sheaves
of arrows, three bills, and two halberts. Some of the entries in these
inventories are amusing; and, while speaking of arms, it may be stated,
that a widow lady of Bury, Mary Chapman, who would appear to have been
a warlike dame, making her will in 1649, leaves to one of her sons,
among other things, “also _my_ muskett, rest, bandileers, sword, and
headpiece, _my_ jacke, a fine paire of sheets, and a hutche.” In 1577,
Thomas Liddell, merchant of Newcastle, had in his hall, “three tables
of waynscoot, sex qwyshons of tapestery, a cowborde, three wainscoot
formes, two chayrs, three green table clothes, fower footstoles, sixe
quyshons, two candlesticks, a louckinge glasse, sexe danske pootts of
powther (_pewter_), two basings, and two vewers (_ewers_), a laver
and a basinge, fyve buffatt stules.” It is curious thus to trace the
furniture of the hall at different periods, and compare them together;
and we cannot but remark from the frequency with which the epithet
_old_ is applied to different articles, towards the end of the century
that the hall was beginning rapidly to fall into disuse. The cause of
this was no doubt the increasing taste for domestic retirement, and
the wish to withdraw from the publicity which had always attended the
hall, and it gradually became the mere entrance lobby of the house,
the place where strangers or others were allowed to remain until their
presence had been announced, which is the sense in which we commonly
use the word hall, as part of the house, at the present day. In the
enumeration of the parts of a house given in the English edition
of Comenius’s “Janua Linguarum,” in the middle of the seventeenth
century, there is no mention of a hall. “A house,” we are told in this
quaint book, “is divided into inner rooms, such as are the entry, the
stove, the kitchen, the buttery, the dining-room, the gallery, the
bed-chamber, with a privy made by it; baskets are of use for carrying
things to and fro; and chests (which are made fast with a key) for
keeping them. The floor is under the roof. In the yard is a well, a
stable, and a bath. Under the house is the cellar.”

[Illustration: _No. 286. A Folding Table._]

It has already been remarked that tables with leaves began to be
mentioned frequently after the commencement of the sixteenth century.
Andrew Cranewise, of Bury, in 1558, enumerates “one cupborde in the
hall, one plaine table with one leafe.” He speaks further on, in the
same will, of “my best folte (_fold or folding_) table in the hall,
and two great hutches.” In 1556, Richard Claxton, of Old Park, in the
county of Durham, speaks of a “folden table” in the parlours, which was
valued at two shillings. These folding tables appear to have been made
in a great variety of forms, some of which were very ingenious. Our
cut No. 286 represents a very curious folding table of the sixteenth
century, which was long preserved at Flaxton Hall, in Suffolk, but
perished in the fire when that mansion was burnt a few years ago. As
represented in the cut, which shows the table folded up so as to be
laid aside, the legs pull out, and the one to the right fits into the
lion’s mouth, and is secured by the pin which hangs beside it.

[Illustration: _No. 287. Cresset and Moon._]

The methods of lighting the hall at night were still rather clumsy,
and not very perfect. Of course, when the apartment was very large,
a few candles would produce comparatively little effect, and it was
therefore found necessary to use torches, and inflammable masses of
larger size. One method of supplying the deficiency was to take a small
pan, or portable fireplace, filled with combustibles, and suspend it
in the place where light was required. Such a receptacle was usually
placed at the top of a pole, for facility of carrying about, and was
called a cresset, from an old French word which meant a night-lamp.
The cresset is mentioned by Shakespeare and other writers as though it
were chiefly used in processions at night, and by watchmen and guides.
The first figure in our cut No. 287, taken from Douce’s “Illustrations
of Shakespeare,” represents one of the cressets carried by the marching
watch of London in the sixteenth century. From the continual mention
of the cresset along with the fire-irons of the hall, in the wills
published by the Surtees Society, we can hardly doubt its being used,
at least in the north of England, for lighting the hall itself. An
improvement of the common cresset consisted in enclosing the flame,
by whatever material it was fed, in a case made of some transparent
substance, such as horn, and thus making it neither more nor less than
a large lantern fixed on the end of a pole. The form of this implement
was generally globular, and, no doubt from its appearance when carried
in the night, it was denominated a _moon_. The “moon” was carried by
servants before the carriages of their masters, to guide them along
country lanes, and under other similar circumstances. The second figure
in our cut No. 287 represents a “moon” which was formerly preserved at
Ightham Moat House, in Kent; the frame was of brass, and the covering
of horn. To assist in lighting the hall, sometimes candlesticks were
fixed to the walls round the hall, and this perhaps will explain the
rather large number of candlesticks sometimes enumerated among the
articles in that part of the house. In our cut No. 282, we have an
example of a candlestick placed on a frame, which, turning on a pivot
or hinges, may be turned back against the wall when not in use.

During the period of which we are now speaking, almost everything
connected with the table underwent great change. This was least the
case with regard to the hours of meals. The usual hour of breakfast was
seven o’clock in the morning, and seems scarcely to have varied. During
the sixteenth century, the hour of dinner was eleven o’clock, or just
four hours after breakfast. “With us,” says Harrison in his description
of England, prefixed to Holinshed’s Chronicle, “the nobilitie,
gentrie, and students (he means the Universities), doo ordinarilie go
to dinner at eleven before noone, and to supper at five, or between
five and sixe, at afternoone.” Before the end of the century, however,
the dinner hour appears to have varied between eleven and twelve.
In a book entitled the “Haven of Health,” written by a physician
named Cogan, and printed in 1584, we are told: “When foure houres
be past after breakefast, a man may safely take his dinner, and the
most convenient time for dinner is about eleven of the clocke before
noone. The usual time for dinner in the universities is at eleven, or
elsewhere about noon.” In Beaumont and Fletcher, the hour of dinner was
still eleven; “I never come into my dining-room,” says Merrythought, in
the “Knight of the Burning Pestle,” “but at eleven and six o’clock.”
“What hour is’t, Lollis?” asks a character in the “Changeling,” by
their contemporary Middleton. “Towards eating-hour, sir.” “Dinnertime?
thou mean’st twelve o’clock.” And other writers at the beginning of the
seventeenth century speak of twelve o’clock and seven as the hours of
dinner and supper. This continued to be the usual hour of dinner at the
close of the same century.

During the reign of Elizabeth, and afterwards, persons of both sexes
appear to have broken their fast in the same substantial manner as
was observed by the Percies at the beginning of the century, and
as described in a previous chapter; yet, though generally but four
hours interposed between this and the hour of dinner, people seem to
have thought it necessary to take a small luncheon in the interval,
which, no doubt from its consisting chiefly in drinking, was called
a _bever_. “At ten,” says a character in one of Middleton’s plays,
“we drink, that’s mouth-hour; at eleven, lay about us for victuals,
that’s hand-hour; at twelve, go to dinner, that’s eating-hour.” “Your
gallants,” says Appetitus, in the old play of “Lingua,” “never sup,
breakfast, nor bever without me.”

[Illustration: _No. 288. A Basin and Ewer, Sixteenth Century._]

The dinner was the largest and most ceremonious meal of the day. The
hearty character of this meal is remarked by a foreign traveller in
England, who published his “Mémoires et Observations” in French in
1698. “Les Anglois,” he tells us, “mangent beaucoup à diner; ils
mangent à reprises, et remplissent le sac. Leur souper est leger.
Gloutons à midi, fort sobres au soir.” In the sixteenth century, dinner
still began with the same ceremonious washing of hands as formerly;
and there was considerable ostentation in the ewers and basins used
for this purpose. Our cut No. 288 represents ornamental articles of
this description, of the sixteenth century, taken from an engraving in
Whitney’s “Emblems,” printed in 1586. This custom was rendered more
necessary by the circumstance that at table people of all ranks used
their fingers for the purposes to which we now apply a fork. This
article was not used in England for the purpose to which it is now
applied, until the reign of James I. It is true that we have instances
of forks even so far back as the pagan Anglo-Saxon period, but they
are often found coupled with spoons, and on considering all the
circumstances, I am led to the conviction that they were in no instance
used for feeding, but merely for serving, as we still serve salad and
other articles, taking them out of basin or dish with a fork and spoon.
In fact, to those who have not been taught the use of it, a fork must
necessarily be a very awkward and inconvenient instrument. We know that
the use of forks came from Italy, the country to which England owed
many of the new fashions of the beginning of the seventeenth century.
It is curious to read Coryat’s account of the usage of forks at table
as he first saw it in that country in the course of his travels. “I
observed,” says he, “a custome in all those Italian cities and townes
through which I passed, that is not used in any other country that
I saw in my travels, neither doe I thinke that any other nation of
Christendome doth use it, but only Italy. The Italian, and also most
strangers that are commorant in Italy, doe alwaies at their meales
use a little forke, when they cut their meate. For while with their
knife which they hold in one hande they cut the meat out of the dish,
they fasten their forke, which they hold in their other hande, upon
the same dish, so that whatsoever he be that sitting in the company
of any others at meale, should unadvisedly touch the dish of meate
with his fingers, from which all at the table do cut, he will give
occasion of offence unto the company, as having transgressed the lawes
of good manners, insomuch that for his error he shall be at the least
brow-beaten, if not reprehended in wordes. This forme of feeding I
understand is generally used in all places of Italy, their forkes being
for the most part made of yron or steele, and some of silver, but those
are used only by gentlemen. The reason of this their curiosity is,
because the Italian cannot by any means indure to have his dish touched
with fingers, seeing all men’s fingers are not alike cleane. Hereupon
I myself thought good to imitate the Italian fashion by this forked
cutting of meate, not only while I was in Italy, but also in Germany,
and oftentimes in England since I came home; being once quipped for
that frequent using of my forke by a certain learned gentleman, a
familiar friend of mine, one Mr. Lawrence Whittaker, who in his merry
humour doubted not to call me at table _furcifer_, only for using a
forke at feeding, but for no other cause.” _Furcifer_, in Latin, it
need hardly be observed, meant literally one who carries a fork, but
its proper signification was, a villain who deserves the gallows.

The usage of forks thus introduced into England, appears soon to
have become common. It is alluded to more than once in Beaumont
and Fletcher, and in Ben Jonson, but always as a foreign fashion.
In Jonson’s comedy of “The Devil is an Ass,” we have the following

      Meerc. _Have I deserv’d this from you two, for all My pains at
          court to get you each a patent?_
      Gilt. _For what?_
      Meerc. _Upon my project o’ the forks._
      Sle. _Forks? what be they?_
      Meerc. _The laudable use of forks,_
    _Brought into custom here, as they are in Italy,_
    _To th’ sparing o’ napkins._

In fact the new invention rendered the washing of hands no longer so
necessary as before, and though it was still continued as a polite form
before sitting down to dinner, the practice of washing the hands after
dinner appears to have been entirely discontinued.

[Illustration: _No. 289. A Dinner Party in the Seventeenth Century._]

Our cut No. 289, taken from the English edition of the Janua Linguarum
of Comenius, represents the forms of dining in England under the
Protectorate. It will be best described by the text which accompanies
it in the book, and in which each particular object is mentioned.
“When a feast is made ready,” we are told, “the table is covered
with a carpet and a table-cloth by the waiters, who besides lay the
trenchers, spoons, knives, with little forks, table napkins, bread,
with a saltsellar. Messes are brought in platters, a pie in a plate.
The guests being brought in by the host, wash their hands, out of
a laver or ewer, over a hand-basin, or bowl, and wipe them with a
hand-towel; then they sit at the table on chairs. The carver breaketh
up the good cheer, and divideth it. Sauces are set amongst roste-meat
in sawsers. The butler filleth strong wine out of a cruse, or wine-pot,
or flagon, into cups, or glasses, which stand on a cup-board, and
he reacheth them to the master of the feast, who drinketh to his
guests.” It will be observed that one salt-cellar is here placed in
the middle of the table. This was the usual custom; and, as one long
table had been substituted for the several tables formerly standing
in the hall, the salt-cellar was considered to divide the table into
two distinct parts, guests of more distinction being placed above the
salt, while the places below the salt were assigned to inferiors and
dependants. This usage is often alluded to in the old dramatists.
Thus, in Ben Jonson, it is said of a man who treats his inferiors with
scorn, “he never drinks _below the salt_,” _i.e._, he never exchanges
civilities with those who sit at the lower end of the table. And in
a contemporary writer, it is described as a mark of presumption in
an inferior member of the household “to sit above the salt.” Our cut
No. 290, taken from an engraving by the French artist, Abraham Bosse,
published in 1633, represents one of the first steps in the laying out
of the dinner-table. The plates, it will be seen, are laid, and the
salt-cellar is duly placed in the middle of the table. The servant is
now placing the napkins--

    _The pages spred a table out of hand,_
    _And brought forth nap’ry rich, and plate more rich._
                       --Harrington’s Ariosto, lxii. 71.

[Illustration: _No. 290. Laying out the Dinner-table, 1633._]

The earlier half of the sixteenth century was the period when the
pageantry of feasting was carried to its greatest degree of splendour.
In the houses of the noble and wealthy, the dinner itself was laid out
with great pomp, was almost always accompanied with music, and was
not unfrequently interrupted with dances, mummings, and masquerades.
A picture of a grand feast carried on in this manner is given in one
of the illustrations to the German work on the exploits of the emperor
Maximilian, published at the time under the title of “Der Weiss
Kunig.” An abridged copy of this engraving is given in our cut No.
291. The table profusely furnished, the rich display of plate on the
cupboards, the band in front, and the mummers entering the hall, are
all strikingly characteristic of the age. The dresser, or cupboard,
was now one of the great means of display among the higher orders of
society, who invested vast wealth in its furniture, consisting of
vessels made of the precious metals and of crystal, sometimes set with
precious stones, and often adorned with the most beautiful sculpture,
or moulded into singular or elaborate forms. So much attention was
given to the arrangement of the plate on the dresser, and to the
ceremonies attending it, that it was made a point of etiquette how
many steps, or gradations, on which the rows of plate were raised one
above another, members of each particular rank of society might have
on their cupboards. Thus, a prince of royal blood only might have five
steps to his cupboard; four were allowed to nobles of the highest rank,
three to nobles under that of duke, two to knights-bannerets, and one
to persons who were merely of gentle blood. These rules, however, were
probably not universally obeyed. It was the duty of the butler to have
charge of the plate in the hall, and his station there was usually at
the side of the cupboard, as in the engraving taken from “Der Weiss
Kunig” (No. 291). Comparatively few examples of the domestic plate of
an early period have survived the revolutions of so many ages, during
which they were often melted for the metal, and those which remain
are chiefly in the possession of corporations or public bodies; but
several fine collections of the ornamental plate of the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries have been made, and among these one of the best
and most interesting is that of the late lord Londesborough, now in the
possession of lady Londesborough.[54]

[Illustration: _No. 291. Mummers at a Feast._]

A dinner scene on a smaller scale is represented in our next cut (No.
292), copied from one in which Albert Durer represents Herodias dancing
and performing before Herod at his solitary meal. This pageantry at
dinner was succeeded, and apparently soon superseded, in the higher
society by masques after dinner, which continued to be very fashionable
until the breaking out of the civil commotions in the middle of the
seventeenth century. During the period of the Protectorate and the
Commonwealth, the forms of eating and drinking were much simplified,
and all that expensive ostentation, which had arisen in the high times
of feudal power, and had become burthensome to the aristocracy after it
had been weakened by the reigns of the Tudors, disappeared.

[Illustration: _No. 292. Herodias dancing before Herod._]

The regular order of service at dinner seems to have been still three
courses, each consisting of a number and variety of dishes, according
to the richness of the entertainment. To judge from the early cookery
books, which have been described in a former chapter, our ancestors,
previous to the sixteenth century, in the better classes of society,
were not in the habit of placing substantial joints on the table, but
instead of them had a great variety of made dishes, a considerable
proportion of which were eaten with a spoon. At the tables of the
great, there was a large attendance of servants, and the guests were
counted off not, as before, in couples, but in fours, each four being
considered as one party, under the title of a _mess_, and probably
having a dish among them, and served by one attendant. This custom
is often alluded to in the dramatists, and it is hardly necessary to
observe that it was the origin of our modern term in the army. The
plate, as well as the porcelain and earthenware, used at table during
the greater part of this period, was so richly diversified, that it
would require a volume to describe it, nor would it be easy to pick
out a small number of examples that might illustrate the whole. Our
cut No. 293 represents a peculiar article of this period, which is not
undeserving of remark, two knife-cases, made of leather, stamped and

[Illustration: _No. 293. Knife-cases._]

[Illustration: _No. 294. Drinking Vessels._]

From what has been said, it will be seen that our popular saying of
“the roast beef of old England,” is not so literally true as we are
accustomed to suppose. While, however, the style of living we have
been describing prevailed generally among the higher ranks and the
richer portion of the middle classes, particularly in towns, that of
the less affluent classes remained simple and even scanty, and a large
portion of the population of the country probably indulged in flesh
meat only at intervals, or on occasions when they received it in their
lord’s kitchen or hall. A few plain jugs, such as those represented
in our cut No. 294, taken from a wooden sculpture in the church of
Kirby Thorpe, in Yorkshire, with platters or trenchers in pewter or
wood, formed the whole table service of the inferior classes. It was
the revolution in the middle of the seventeenth century which first
abolished this extravagant ostentation, and brought into fashion a
plainer table and more substantial meats. A foreigner, who had been
much in England in the latter part of the seventeenth century, and
published his observations in French at the Hague in 1698, tells us
that the English of that period were great eaters of meat--“I have
heard,” says he, “of many people in England who have never eaten bread,
and ordinarily they eat very little; they nibble sometimes a little
bit, while they eat flesh by great mouthfuls. Generally speaking, the
tables are not served with delicacy in England. There are some great
lords who have French and English cooks, and where you are served much
in the French fashion; but among persons of the middle condition of
which I am speaking, they have ten or twelve sorts of common meat,
which infallibly come round again in their turns at different times,
and of two dishes of which their dinner is composed, as for instance,
a pudding, and a piece of roast beef. Sometimes they will have a piece
boiled, and then it has always lain in salt some days, and is flanked
all round with five or six mounds of cabbage, carrots, turnips, or
some other herbs or roots, seasoned with salt and pepper, with melted
butter poured over them. At other times they will have a leg of mutton,
roasted or boiled, and accompanied with the same delicacies; poultry,
sucking pigs, tripe, and beef tongues, rabbits, pigeons, all well
soaked with butter, without bacon. Two of these dishes, always served
one after the other, make the ordinary dinner of a good gentleman,
or of a good burgher. When they have boiled meat, there is sometimes
somebody who takes a fancy to broth, which consists of the water in
which the meat has been boiled, mixed with a little oatmeal, with some
leaves of thyme, or sage, or other such small herbs. The pudding is
a thing which it would be difficult to describe, on account of the
diversity of sorts. Flour, milk, eggs, butter, sugar, fat, marrow,
rasins, &c. &c., are the more common ingredients of a pudding. It is
baked in an oven; or boiled with the meat; or cooked in fifty other
fashions. And they are grateful for the invention of puddings, for it
is a manna to everybody’s taste, and a better manna than that of the
dessert, inasmuch as they are never tired of it. Oh! what an excellent
thing is an English pudding! _To come in pudding time_, is a proverbial
phrase, meaning, to come at the happiest moment in the world. Make
a pudding for an Englishman, and you will regale him be he where he
will. Their dessert needs no mention, for it consists only of a bit of
cheese. Fruit is only found at the houses of great people, and only
among few of them.” The phrase, “to come in pudding time,” occurs as
early as the beginning of the seventeenth century.

The absence of the dessert at the English table, of which the writer
just quoted complains, arose from the abandonment in the middle of
the seventeenth century of an old custom. In the earlier part of that
century, and in the century previous, when the company rose from the
dinner-table, they proceeded to what was then called the _banquet_,
which was held in another apartment, and often in an arbour in the
garden, or, as it was called, the garden-house. The _banquet_ of an
earlier period, the fifteenth century, was, as we have already seen, a
meal after supper. In Massinger’s play of the “City Madam,” a sumptuous
dinner is described as follows:--

    _The dishes were raised one upon another,_
    _As woodmongers do billets, for the first,_
    _The second, and third course; and most of the shops_
    _Of the best confectioners in London ransack’d_
    _To furnish out a banquet._

In another of Massinger’s dramas, one of the characters says:--

    _We’ll dine in the great room, but let the musick_
    _And banquet be prepared here._

It appears, therefore, that the banquet was often accompanied with
music. At the banquet the choice wines were brought forth, and the
table was covered with pastry and sweetmeats, of which our forefathers
at this period appear to have been extremely fond. A usual article at
the banquet was marchpanes, or biscuits made of sugar and almonds, in
different fanciful forms, such as men, animals, houses, &c. There was
generally one at least in the form of a castle, which the ladies and
gentlemen were to batter to pieces in frolic, by attacking it with
sugar-plums. Taylor, the water-poet, calls them--

    _Castles for ladies, and for carpet knights,_
    _Unmercifully spoil’d at feasting fights,_
    _Where battering bullets are fine sugred plums._

On festive occasions, and among people who loved to pass their time at
table, the regular banquet seems to have been followed by a second, or,
as it was called, a _rere-banquet_. These rere-banquets are mentioned
by the later Elizabethan writers, generally as extravagances, and
sometimes with the epithet of “late,” so that perhaps they took the
place of the soberer supper. People are spoken of as taking “somewhat
plentifully of wine” at these rere-banquets. The rere-supper was still
in use, and appears also to have been a meal distinguished by its
profusion both in eating and drinking. It was from the rere-supper
that the roaring-boys, and other wild gallants of the earlier part of
the seventeenth century, sallied forth to create noise and riot in the

One of the great characteristics of the dinner-table at this period
was the formality of drinking, especially that of drinking healths,
so much cried down by the Puritans. This formality was enforced with
great strictness and ceremony. It was not exactly the modern practice
of giving a toast, but each person in turn rose, named some one to whom
he individually drank (not one of the persons present), and emptied
his cup. “He that begins the health,” we are told in a little book
published in 1623, “first, uncovering his head, he takes a full cup in
his hand, and setting his countenance with a grave aspect, he craves
for audience; silence being once obtained, he begins to breathe out
the name, per-adventure, of some honourable personage, whose health
is drunk to, and he that pledges must likewise off with his cap, kiss
his fingers, and bow himself in sign of a reverent acceptance. When the
leader sees his follower thus prepared, he sups up his broth, turns the
bottom of the cup upward, and, in ostentation of his dexterity, gives
the cup a phillip to make it cry twango. And thus the first scene is
acted. The cup being newly replenished to the breadth of a hair, he
that is the pledger must now begin his part, and thus it goes round
throughout the whole company.” In order to ascertain that each person
had fairly drunk off his cup, in turning it up he was to pour all that
remained in it on his nail, and if there were too much to remain as a
drop on the nail without running off, he was made to drink his cup full
again. This was termed drinking on the nail, for which convivialists
invented a mock Latin phrase, and called it drinking _super nagulum_,
or _super-naculum_.

This custom of pledging in drinking was as old as the times of the
Anglo-Saxons, when it existed in the “wæs heil” and “drinc heil,”
commemorated in the story of the British Vortigern and the Saxon
Rowena, and it is alluded to in several ballads of the fourteenth and
fifteenth centuries, as in that of “King Edward and the Shepherd,”
where the man who drinks pledges his companion with the word
“passelodion,” and the other replies by “berafrynde,” and in that of
“The Kyng and the Hermyt,” where the words of pledging and reply are
“fusty bandyas,” and “stryke pautnere.” Both these ballads are printed
in Hartshorne’s “Ancient Metrical Tales.” The drinking of the healths
of absent individuals appears to have been introduced at a later
period, and was carried to its greatest degree of extravagance on the
continent. The person whose health a man gave was usually expected to
be his mistress; and in France he was expected, in doing this, to drink
as many times his glass or cup full of wine as there were letters in
her name. Thus, in Ronsard’s “Bacchanales,” the gallant drinks nine
times to his mistress Cassandre, because there were nine letters in her

    _Neuf fois, au nom de Cassandre,_
          _Je vois prendre_
    _Neuf fois du vin du flacon;
    Affin de neuf fois le boire_
          _En memoire_
    _Des neuf lettres de son nom._

And a less celebrated poet, of a rather later date, Guillaume Colletet,
in a piece entitled “Le Trebuchement de l’Ivrongne,” printed at Paris
in 1627, introduces one of his personages drinking six times to his
mistress, because her name was Cloris:--

    _Six fois je m’en vas boire au beau nom de Cloris,_
    _Cloris, le seul desir de ma chaste pensée._

The manner of pledging at table, as it still existed in England, is
described rather ludicrously in the “Memoires d’Angleterre,” of the
year 1698, already quoted. “While in France,” the author says, “the
custom of drinking healths is almost abolished among people of any
distinction, as being equally importunate and ridiculous, it exists
here in all its ancient force. To drink at table, without drinking to
the health of some one in especial, among ordinary people, would be
considered as drinking on the sly, and as an act of incivility. There
are in this proceeding two principal and singular grimaces, which are
universally observed among people of all orders and all sorts. It is,
that the person to whose health another drinks, if he be of inferior
condition, or even equal, to that of him who drinks, must remain as
inactive as a statue while the drinker drinks. If, for instance, he
is in the act of taking something from a dish, he must suddenly stop,
return his fork or spoon to its place, and wait, without stirring
more than a stone, until the other has drunk; after which, the second
grimace is to make him an _inclinabo_, at the risk of dipping his
perriwig in the gravy in his plate. I confess that, when a foreigner
first sees these manners, he thinks them laughable. Nothing appears
so droll as to see a man who is in the act of chewing a morsel which
he has in his mouth, of cutting his bread, of wiping his mouth, or of
doing anything else, who suddenly takes a serious air, when a person
of some respectability drinks to his health, looks fixedly at this
person, and becomes as motionless as if a universal paralysis had
seized him, or he had been struck by a thunderbolt. It is true that,
as good manners absolutely demand this respectful immobility in the
_patient_, it requires also a little circumspection in the _agent_.
When any one will drink to the health of another, he must fix his eye
upon him for a moment, and give him the time, if it be possible, to
swallow his morsel.” It is hardly necessary to observe that this custom
is the origin of our modern practice of “taking wine” with each other
at table, which is now also becoming obsolete.



[Illustration: _No. 295. Table of Sixteenth Century._]

As social peace and security became more established in the country,
people began to be more lavish in all the articles of household
furniture, which thus became much more numerous during the period
of which we are now treating. It also went through its fashions and
its changes, but in the progress of these changes it became less
ponderous and more elegant. Until the middle of the sixteenth century,
and perhaps later in some parts of the island, where social progress
was slower, the old arrangements of a board laid upon trestles for
a table still prevailed, though it was gradually disappearing; and,
although the term of “laying” the board in a literal sense was no
longer applicable, it has continued to be used figuratively, even to
our own times. Richard Kanam, of Soham, in the county of Cambridge,
whose will was proved so late as the 12th of April, 1570, left, among
other household furniture, “one table with a payer of tressels, and a
thicke forme.” The first step in the change from tables of this kind
appears to have been to fix the trestles to the board, thus making it
a permanent table. The whole was strengthened by a bar running from
trestle to trestle, and ornamental wood-work was afterwards substituted
in place of the trestles. A rather good example of a table of this
description is given in the cut on the preceding page (No. 295), taken
from that well-known publication, the “Stultifera Navis” of Sebastian
Brandt. This, however, was a clumsy construction, and it soon gave
way to the table with legs, the latter being usually turned on the
lathe, and sometimes richly carved. This carving went out of use in the
unostentatious days of the Commonwealth and the Protectorate, to make
way for plain table legs, and it never quite recovered its place.

[Illustration: _No. 296. Henry VIII’s Chair._]

We have seen already that in the latter part of the previous century,
in the chairs and stools, the joinery work of Flanders was taking the
place of the older rude and clumsy seats. This taste still prevailed in
the earlier half of the sixteenth century, and a large proportion of
the furniture used in this country, as well as of the earthenware and
other household implements, during the greater part of that century,
were imported from Flanders and the Netherlands. Hence, in the absence
of engravings at home, we are led to look at the works of the Flemish
and German artists for illustrations of domestic manners at this
period. The seats of the description just mentioned were termed joint
(or joined) stools or chairs. A rather fine example of a chair of this
work, which is, as was often the case, three-cornered, is preserved in
the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, where it is reported to have been the
chair of Henry VIII., on what authority I know not. It is represented
in our cut No. 296. These “joined” chairs and stools were laid aside
for furniture of a more elegant form, which was used during the reign
of Elizabeth and her immediate successors, and of which examples are
so common that it is hardly necessary to give one here. This fashion
appears to have been brought from France. An example of rather peculiar
style is given in our cut No. 297, taken from a picture executed in
1587, representing Louis de Gonzagues, duke of Nivernois.

[Illustration: _No. 297. Chair of duke de Nivernois._]

Hitherto the cushions were merely adjuncts to the chairs, but by
another advance in convenience the cushion was soon made as a part
of the chair or stool, which at the same time became simpler in form
again. Our cut No. 298, taken from one of the prints of Abraham Bosse,
dated in 1633, represents the general character of the chairs and
stools used in France at that date, as they are drawn in the works of
this artist, and also the manner in which they were arranged round a
room when not in use. On the left appears the end of a cushioned bench,
which was generally of the length of two or three stools, and appears
as a common article of furniture. Among other articles of furniture
now introduced was the couch, or, as we should call it, the sofa. This
was called, in the age of Shakespeare, a day-bed, and appears to have
been in some discredit, as an article indicating excess of luxury.
Large cupboards, usually termed court-cupboards, and often very richly
carved, were now in general use, for containing, under lock and key,
the plate and other valuables. In allusion to the carvings on these
cupboards, which usually consisted of faces more or less grotesque, and
not very artistically executed, Corbet, in his “Iter Boreale,” speaks
of a person--

    _With a lean visage, like a carv’d face_
    _On a court-cupboard._

[Illustration: _No. 298. Stools and Chairs of the age of Charles I._]

The sixteenth century was especially the age of tapestries, and no
gentleman could consider his rooms furnished if they wanted these
important adjuncts. They were now elaborately worked into great
historical pictures, sacred or profane, or mythological or other
subjects, to suit the varieties of tastes. Sir John Elyot, in his
“Governor,” reminds his readers that “semblable decking oughte to bee
in the house of a noblemanne, or man of honoure; I meane concerning
ornaments of hall and chambers in arras, painted tables, and images
concernynge historyes, wherein is represented some monument of vertue
most cunningly,” &c. At the commencement of the seventeenth century
this practice was already beginning to go out of fashion, and it was
not long afterwards that it was entirely laid aside: and the walls were
again covered with panels, or painted or whitewashed, and adorned with
pictures. In our last cut, of the date of 1633, we see the walls thus
decorated with paintings.

[Illustration: _No. 299. A Chandelier of the Sixteenth Century._]

The rapid social revolution which was now going on, gradually produced
changes in most of the articles of domestic economy. Thus, the old
spiked candlestick was early in the century superseded by the modern
socket candlestick. The chandelier represented in our cut No. 299,
taken from one of Albert Durer’s prints of the Life of the Virgin,
published in 1509, in its spikes for the candles and its other
characteristics, belongs to a ruder and earlier style of household
furniture, and has nothing in common with the rich chandeliers which
now began to be used.

The parlour appears in the sixteenth century to have been a room the
particular use of which was in a state of transition. Subsequently,
as domestic life assumed greater privacy than when people lived
publicly in the hall, the parlour became the living room; but in
the sixteenth century, though in London it was already used as the
dining-room, in the country it appears to have been considered as
a sort of amalgamation of a store-room and a bedroom. This is best
understood from the different inventories of its furniture which have
been preserved. In 1558, the parlour of Robert Hyndmer, rector of
Sedgefield, in the county of Durham, contained--“a table with a joined
frame, two forms, and a carpet; carved cupboards; a plain cupboard;
nine joined stools; hangings of tapestry; and a turned chair.” In
the parlour at Hilton Castle, in the same county, in 1559, there
were--“one iron chimney, two tables, one counter, two chairs, one
cupboard, six forms, two old carpets, and three old hangings.” In
1564, Margaret Cottom, a widow of Gateshead, had in her parlour--“one
inner bed of wainscot, a stand, a bed, a presser of wainscot, three
chests, a Dantzic coffer;” a considerable quantity of linen and cloth
of different kinds, and for different purposes; “tallow candles,
and wooden dishes, a feather bed, a bolster, and a cod (_pillow_),
two coverlets, two happgings (_coverlets of a coarser kind_), three
blankets, three cods (_pillows_), with an old mattress; five cushions,
a steel cap, and a covering; a tin bottle, a cap-case with a lock.” In
the house of William Dalton, a wealthy merchant of Durham in 1556, the
parlour must have been very roomy indeed to contain all the “household
stuff” which it holds in the inventory, namely, “a chimney, with a
pair of tongs; a bedstead close made; a feather bed, a pair of sheets,
a covering of apparels, an ‘ovese’ bed, a covering wrought of silk;
a cod (_pillow_), and a pillow-bere; a trundle-bed, a feather bed, a
twilt (_quilt_), a happing (_coverlet_), and a bolster; a stand-bed,
a feather-bed, a mattress, a pair of blankets, a red covering, a
bolster, and curtains; eight cods, and eight pillow-beres; seven pair
of linen sheets; eight pair of strakin (_a sort of kersey_) sheets; six
pair of harden (_hempen_) sheets; thirteen yards of diaper tabling;
ten yards and a half of table-cloth; twenty-one yards of towelling;
four hand towels; two dozen napkins; five pillow-beres; two head
sheets; a pair of blankets; two ‘overse’ beds, and three curtains; a
cupboard; a table, with a carpet; a counter, with a carpet; a Dantzic
chest; a bond chest; a bond coffer; an ambry; a long settle, and a
chair; three buffet stools; a little stool; two forms; red hangings;
a painted cloth; three chests; a stand-bed, a pair of blankets, two
sheets, a covering, and two cods; an ‘ambre call.’” In 1567, the
parlour at Beaumont Hill, a gentleman’s house in the north, contained
the following furniture:--“One trundle bed, with a feather bed; two
coverlets, a bolster, two blankets, two carpet table cloths, two
coverlets, one presser, a little table, one chest, three chairs, and
three forms.” In other inventories, down to the end of the century, we
find the parlour continuing to be stored in this indiscriminate manner.

[Illustration: _No. 300. A Dying Man and his Treasures._]

[Illustration: _No. 301. A Bed-chamber and its Furniture._]

[Illustration: _No. 302. A Time-piece, &c._]

This period also differs from former periods in the much greater
number of beds, and greater abundance of bed-furniture, we find in the
houses. We have often several beds in one chamber. Few of the principal
bedrooms had less than two beds. The form of the bedstead was now
almost universally that with four posts. Still in the engravings of the
sixteenth century, we find the old couch-bed represented. Such appears
to be the bed in our cut No. 300, taken from Whitney’s “Emblems,” an
English book printed at Leyden in 1586. We have here another, and
rather a late example, of the manner in which money was hoarded up in
chests in the chambers. The couch-bed is still more distinctly shown
in our cut No. 301, taken from Albert Durer’s print of St. Jerome,
dated in 1511. This print is remarkable for its detail of the furniture
of a bed-chamber, and especially for the manner in which the various
smaller articles are arranged and suspended to the walls. Not the least
remarkable of these articles is the singular combination of a clock and
an hour glass, which is placed against the wall as a time-piece. This
seems, however, to have been not uncommon. A time-piece of the same
kind is represented in our cut No. 302, which is taken from a print
of St. Jerome at prayer, by Hans Springen Kelle, without date, but
evidently belonging to the earlier half of the sixteenth century. The
method of suspending or attaching to the walls the smaller articles
in common use, such as scissors, brushes, pens, papers, &c., is here
the same as in the former. Our next cut (No. 303), from a print by
Aldegraver, dated in 1553, represents evidently a large four-post
bedstead, which is remarkable for its full and flowing curtains. The
plate appears here to be kept in the bed-chamber. Chests, cupboards,
presses, &c., become now very numerous in the bedrooms, and we begin
to meet with tables and chairs more frequently. In 1567, the principal
chamber in the house of Mrs. Elizabeth Hutton, at Hunwick, contained
the following articles:--“In napery, in linen sheets, sixteen pair;
certain old harden (_hempen_) sheets, and sixteen pillowberes; two
Dantzic chests, a little chest bound with iron, a candle chest, and
another old chest; a press with two floors and five doors; a folding
table, seven little cushions, and two long cushions of crool (_a sort
of fine worsted_) wrought with the needle, and a carpet cloth that
is in working with crools for the same; six feather beds, with six
bolsters, and a coarse feather-bed tick; eight mattresses, and nine
bolsters; twelve pillows, twelve pair of blankets, and six happings;
twenty coverlets, three coverings for beds of tapestry, and two of
dornix (_Tournay_); a carpet cloth of tapestry work, five yards long,
and a quarter deep; five standing beds, with cords; two testers with
curtains of saye, and two testers with curtains of crool.” In the
principal chamber in the house of lady Catherine Hedworth, in 1568,
the following furniture is enumerated:--“One trussing bed, one feather
bed, one pair of blankets, one pair of sheets, one bolster, one pillow
with a housewife’s covering, four pillows, two Flanders chests, one
almery, two cupboards, three coffers, two cupboard stools, three
buffet forms, one little buffet stool, two little coffers, five mugs,
three old cushions.” The principal chamber of Thomas Sparke, suffragan
bishop of Berwick, whose goods were appraised in 1572, was furnished
with the following articles:--“A stand-bed, with a testron of red saye
and fringe, and a truckle-bed; a Cypres chest, a Flanders chest, a
desk, three buffet stools; the said chamber hung with red saye.” At
Crook Hall, in the suburbs of Durham, in 1577, the principal chamber
contained three beds; another chamber contained four beds; and a third
two beds. These lists furnish good illustrations of the various prints
from which we have already given some sketches.

[Illustration: _No. 303. A Bed of the Sixteenth Century._]

[Illustration: _No. 304. A Bed of the Seventeenth Century._]

Our cut No. 304 represents the usual form of the bedstead in the
seventeenth century, and the process of “making” the bed; it is taken
from a print by the French artist, Abraham Boste, of the date 1631.
Another of his prints, of the same date, has furnished us with a sketch
of a bedroom party (cut No. 305), which is no unapt illustration of
domestic manners in the seventeenth century. It represents a custom
which prevailed especially in France. A woman, after childbirth, kept
her room in state, and with great ceremony, and received there daily
her female acquaintances, who passed the afternoon in gossip. This
practice, and especially the conversation which took place at it, were
frequent subjects of popular satire, and formed the groundwork of one
of the most celebrated books of the reign of Louis XIII., entitled “Les
Caquets de l’Accouchée,” first published in 1622. An edition of this
curious satire has been recently published by M. Ed. Fournier, in the
introduction to which, as well as in the text, the reader will find
abundant information on this subject.

[Illustration: No. 305. A Bedroom Party.]



[Illustration: _No. 306. Ladies at Work._]

During the period at which we are now arrived, almost all the
relations of domestic life underwent a great change, and nothing
hardly could produce a wider difference than that between the manners
and sentiments of the reign of Henry VII., and those of Charles II.
This was especially observable in the occupations of the female sex,
which were becoming more and more frivolous. At the earlier portion
of the period referred to, women in general were confined closely to
their domestic labours, in spinning, weaving, embroidering, and other
work of a similar kind. A hand-loom was almost a necessary article of
furniture in a well regulated household, and spinning was so universal
an occupation, that we read sometimes of an apartment in the house
set apart for it--a family spinning room. Even to this present day,
in legal language, the only occupation acknowledged, as that of an
unmarried woman, is that of a spinster. Our cut (No. 306) represents a
party of ladies at their domestic labours; it is taken from Israel van
Mechelin’s print of “The Virgin Ascending the Steps of the Temple,”
where this domestic scene is introduced in a side compartment. Two are
engaged at the distaff, the old poetical emblem of the sex. Another
is cutting out the cloth for working, with a pair of shears of very
antiquated form. The shape of the three-cornered joined chair in this
group is worthy of remark. The female in our cut No. 307 is also seated
in a chair of rather peculiar construction, though it has occurred
before at an earlier period (cut No. 245, p. 375), and we meet with
it again in our next cut (No. 308). It is what was sometimes called a
folding chair. This cut is taken from one of the illustrations to the
English edition of Erasmus’s “Praise of Folly,” printed in 1676, but it
is a copy of the earlier originals. The great weaving establishments
in England appear to have commenced in the sixteenth century, with the
Protestant refugees from France and the Netherlands.

[Illustration: _No. 307. A Lady at the Loom._]

The old domestic games continued to be practised in the middle and
upper classes of society, although they were rather extensively
superseded by the pernicious rage for gambling which now prevailed
throughout English society. This practice had been extending itself
ever since the beginning of the fifteenth century, and had been
accompanied with another evil practice among the ladies, that of
drinking. It need hardly be observed that these two vices furnished
constant themes to the dramatists and satirists of the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries; the example set by the court under James I.
caused them to increase greatly, and they rose to the highest pitch of
extravagance under Charles II. Barclay’s “Ship of Fools” (the early
English edition) has furnished us with the group of female gamesters,
represented in our cut No. 308. It will be seen that the ladies are
playing with cards and dice, and that the ale jug is introduced as an
accompaniment. In fact we must look upon it as a tavern party, and the
round table, as far as we can judge, appears to be fixed in the ground.
The same book furnishes us with an illustration (cut No. 309), in which
two gamblers are quarrelling over a game at backgammon. A child is here
the jug-bearer or guardian of the liquor. Our cut No. 310 represents
a gambling scene of a rather later period, taken from Whitney’s
“Emblems,” printed in 1586; dice are here the implements of play.

[Illustration: _No. 308. A Party of Ladies._]

[Illustration: _No. 309. A Gamblers’ Dispute._]

[Illustration: _No. 310. A Party at Dice._]

A very curious piece of painted glass, now in the possession of Mr.
Fairholt, of German manufacture, and forming part, apparently, of a
series illustrative of the history of the Prodigal Son, represents
a party of gamblers, of the earlier part of the sixteenth century,
in which they are playing with two dice. It is copied in our cut No.
311. The original bears the inscription, “_Jan Van Hassell Tryngen sin
hausfrau_,” with a merchant’s mark, and the date, 1532. Three dice,
however, continued to be used long after this, and are, from time to
time, alluded to during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

I have, in a former chapter, traced the history of playing-cards down
to the latter half of the fifteenth century. After that time, they are
frequently mentioned. They formed the common amusement in the courts of
Scotland and England under the reigns of Henry VII. and James IV.; and
it is recorded that when the latter monarch paid his first visit to his
affianced bride, the young princess Margaret of England, “he founde the
quene playing at the cardes.”

[Illustration: _No. 311. A Gambling Party of the Sixteenth Century._]

In Germany at this time card-playing was carried to an extravagant
degree, and it became an object of attack and satire to the reformers
among the clergy. Our cut No. 312 represents a German card-party in
a tavern, taken from an early painted coffer in the Museum of Old
German Art at Nuremberg. The design of the cards is that of packs
of fancifully ornamented cards made in Germany at the close of the
fifteenth century. The German satirists of that age complain that the
rage for gambling had taken possession of all classes of society, and
levelled all ranks, ages, and sexes; that the noble gambled with the
commoner, and the clergy with the laity. Some of the clerical reformers
declared that card-playing as well as dice was a deadly sin, and others
complained that this love of gambling had caused people to forget all
honourable pursuits.

[Illustration: _No. 312. Cards early in the Sixteenth Century._]

A similar outcry was raised in our own country; and a few years later
it arose equally loud. A short anonymous poem on the ruin of the
realm, belonging apparently to the earlier part of the reign of Henry
VIII. (MS. Harl. No. 2252, fol. 25, v^o), complains of the nobles and

    _Before thys tyme they lovyd for to juste,_
      _And in shotynge chefely they sett ther mynde,_
    _And ther landys and possessyons now sett they moste,_
      _And at cardes and dyce ye may them ffynde._

“Cardes and dyce” are from this time forward spoken of as the great
blot on contemporary manners; and they seem for a long time to have
driven most other games out of use. Roy, in his remarkable satire
against cardinal Wolsey, complains that the bishops themselves were
addicted to gambling:--

    _To play at the cardes and dyce_
    _Some of theym are no thynge nyce,_
      _Both at hasard and mom-chaunce._

The rage for cards and dice prevailed equally in Scotland. Sir David
Lindsay’s popish parson, in 1535, boasts of his skill in these games:--

    _Thoch I preich nocht, I can play at the caiche;_
    _I wot there is nocht ane amang yow all_
    _Mair ferylie can play at the fute-ball;_
    _And for the cartis, the tabels, and the dyse,_
    _Above all parsouns I may beir the pryse._

The same celebrated writer, in a poem against cardinal Beaton,
represents that prelate as a great gambler:--

    _In banketting, playing at cartis and dyce,_
    _Into sic wysedome I was haldin wyse,_
    _And spairit nocht to play with king nor knicht_
    _Thre thousand crownes of golde upon ane night._

Though gardening and horticulture in general, as arts, were undergoing
considerable improvement during this period, the garden itself appears
to have been much more neglected, except as far as it was the scene
of other pastimes. A bowling-green was the most important part of the
pleasure garden in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; and bowls,
and exercises of a similar character, were the favourite amusements of
all classes. The gardens themselves, which were apart from the house,
and made more retired by lofty walls enclosing them, were usually
adorned with alcoves and summer-houses, or, as they were then more
usually termed, garden-houses, but these were chiefly celebrated,
especially in the seventeenth century, as places of intrigue. There
are continual allusions to this usage in the popular writers of the
time. Thus, one of the personages in Beaumont and Fletcher’s “Woman
Hater” exclaims, “This is no garden-house: in my conscience she went
forth with no dishonest intent.” And, in the play of the “Mayor of

    _Poor soul, she’s entic’d forth by her own sex_
    _To be betray’d to man, who in some garden-house,_
    _Or remote walk, taking his lustful time,_
    _Binds darkness on her eyes, surprises her._

A character in another old play, “The London Prodigal,” seeking
employment of a rather equivocal character, says, “Now God thank you,
sweet lady, if you have any friend, or garden-house, where you may
employ a poor gentleman as your friend, I am yours to command in all
secret service.”

Amid the gaiety which was so especially characteristic of this age, a
spirit of vulgar barbarity had arisen and spread itself very widely,
and the popular games most practised were in general coarse and cruel.
A foreign writer already quoted, but one who was evidently a very
unprejudiced observer, has left us some rather amusing remarks on this
subject which are worthy of being repeated. “The English,” he says,
“have games which are peculiar to them, or at least, which they affect
and practise more than people do elsewhere. To see cocks fight is a
royal pleasure in England. Their combats of bulls and dogs, of bears
and dogs, and sometimes of bulls and bears, are not combats to the
last gasp, like those of cocks. Everything that is called fighting
is a delicious thing to an Englishman. If two little boys quarrel
in a street, the passers stop, make in a moment a ring round them,
and encourage them to settle it by blows of the fist. If it comes to
fighting, each takes off his cravat and his jacket, and gives them in
charge to one of the company; then begin the blows of the fist, in the
face if possible, the blows of the foot on their shins, the pulling of
one another by the hair, &c. The one who has knocked the other down,
may give him one blow or two when he is down, but no more, and every
time the one who is down will rise, the other must return to the combat
as long as he pleases. During the combat, the circle of spectators
encourage the combatants to the great joy of their hearts, and never
separate them, so long as things are done according to rule. And these
spectators are not only other children, and street porters, but all
sorts of respectable people, some of whom make their way through the
crowd to see nearer, others mount upon the shops, and all would pay
for places, if stages could be built up in a moment. The fathers and
mothers of the little boys who are fighting look on like the others,
and encourage the one who gives way, or is wanting in strength. These
kind of combats are less frequent among grown-up men than among
children, but they are not uncommon. If the driver of a hackney-coach
has a dispute about his fare, with a gentleman whom he has carried, and
the gentleman offers to settle the dispute by fighting, the coachman
agrees to it willingly. The gentleman takes off his sword, disposes of
it in some shop with his walking-stick, his gloves, and his cravat, and
fights in the manner I have described. If the coachman is well beaten,
which is almost always the case, he is considered as paid; but if he
beats, he who is beaten must pay the sum that was in question, and that
which caused the quarrel. I once saw the late duke of Grafton fighting
in the open street in the middle of the Strand with a coachman, whom he
thrashed in a terrible manner. In France, we treat such kind of people
with blows of a stick or, sometimes, of the flat of the sword; but in
England that is never done; they never use a sword or stick against
those who are not similarly armed; and if any unlucky foreigner (for
it would never come into the mind of an Englishman) should strike with
the sword any one who had not got one, it is certain that in an instant
a hundred persons would fall upon him, and perhaps beat him so that he
would never recover. Wrestling is also one of the diversions of the
English, especially in the northern provinces. Ringing the bells is one
of their great pleasures, especially in the country; there is a way
of doing it, but their peal is quite different from those of Holland
and the Low Countries. In winter football is a useful and charming
exercise; it is a ball of leather, as large as a man’s head, and filled
with wind; it is tossed with the feet in the streets. To expose a cock
in a place, and kill it at a distance of forty or fifty paces with a
stick, is also a very diverting thing; but this pleasure only belongs
to a certain season. This also is the case with the dances of the
milkwomen, with the throwing at one another of tennis-balls by girls,
and with divers other little exercises.” Such was the rude character of
the amusement of all classes of our population during the seventeenth

The ladies still had their household pets, though they varied sometimes
in their character, which perhaps arose in some measure from the
circumstance that the discovery of or increased communication with
distant countries, brought the knowledge of animals and birds which
were not so well known before. Thus, in the sixteenth century, monkeys
appear to have been much in fashion as domestic favourites, and we not
unfrequently find them in prints in attendance upon ladies. Since the
discovery of the West Indies, and the voyages of the Portuguese to the
coast of Africa, parrots had become much more common than formerly. In
pictures of the period of which we are speaking, we often find these,
as well as smaller domestic birds, in cages of various forms. In our
cut No. 313, taken from Whitney’s “Emblems” (printed in 1585), we have
a parrot in its cage, and a small bird (perhaps meant for a canary),
the latter of which is drawing up its water to drink in a manner which
has been practised in modern times, and supposed to be a novelty. It
is very unsafe indeed to assume that any ingenious contrivances of
this kind are modern, for we often meet with them unexpectedly at a
comparatively early date.

[Illustration: _No. 313. Birds and Birdcage._]

With the multiplicity of new fashions in dress now introduced, the work
of the toilette became much greater and more varied, and many customs
were introduced from France, from Italy, and from the East. Among
customs derived from the latter quarter, was the introduction of the
eastern hot and sweating baths, which became for a considerable period
common in England. They were usually known by the plain English name
of _hothouses_, but their eastern origin was also sometimes indicated
by the preservation of their Persian name of _hummums_. This name
is still retained by the two modern hotels which occupy the sites
of establishments of this description in Covent Garden. Sweating in
hothouses is spoken of by Ben Jonson; and a character in the old play
of “The Puritan,” speaking of a laborious undertaking, says, “Marry,
it will take me much sweat; I were better go to sixteen _hothouses_.”
They seem to have been mostly frequented by women, and became, as in
the East, favourite places of rendezvous for gossip and company. They
were soon used to such an extent for illicit intrigues, that the name
of a hothouse or bagnio became equivalent to that of a brothel; and
this circumstance probably led eventually to their disuse. A very
rare and curious broadside woodcut of the reign of James I., entitled
“Tittle-tattle, or the several branches of gossipping,” which in
different compartments represents pictorially the way in which the
women of that age idled away their time, gives in one part a sketch
of the interior of a hothouse, which is copied in our cut No. 314. In
one division of the hothouse the ladies are bathing in tubs, while
they are indulging themselves with an abundance of very substantial
dainties; in the other, they appear to be still more busily engaged in
gossip. The whole broadside is a singularly interesting illustration
of contemporary manners. A copy of it will be found in the print-room
of the British Museum; and it may be remarked (which I think has not
been observed before), that it is copied from a large French etching of
about the same period, a copy of which is in the print department of
the Imperial Library in Paris.

[Illustration: _No. 314. A Hothouse._]

This is sufficient to show the close resemblance at this time between
manners in France and in England. In the former country, the resort of
women in company to the hot-baths is not unfrequently alluded to, and
their behaviour and conversation there are described in terms of satire
which cannot always be transferred to our modern pages. In these
popular satires, the bathers are sometimes _chambrières_, and at others
good _bourgeoises_. The pic-nics, which had formerly taken place at
the tavern, were now transferred to the hot-bath, each of a party of
bathers carrying some contribution to the feast, which they shared in
common. Thus, in the popular piece entitled “Le Banquet des Chambrières
fait aux Estuves,” printed in 1541, it is the chamber-maidens who go to
the bath, and they begin immediately to produce their contributions,
one exclaiming--

        ----_j’ay du porc frais,_
    _Une andouille et quatre saulcices._

To which a second adds,--

        ----_j’aye une cottelette,_
    _Qui le ventre quasi m’eschaulde._

And a third,--

    _Moy, un pasté à sauce chaulde._

The women are seen eating their pic-nic feast in one compartment of
our cut. This practice soon passed from the servant maids of the
bourgeoisie to their mistresses, and from the burghers’ wives to
ladies of higher condition. Our word pic-nic, representing the French
_piquenique_, the origin or derivation of which word seems not to be
clearly known, appears to have come into use at the latter end of the
last century, when people of rank formed evening parties at which
they joined in such pic-nic suppers, to which each brought his or her
contribution. The term is now applied almost solely to such collations
in the fields, or in the open air.

We have already seen how, at an earlier period, men of a superior rank
in London, and probably in at least the larger country towns, lived
much in the taverns and cooks’ shops or eating-houses. This practice
continued, and underwent various modifications, the principal of which
was the establishment of houses where a public table was served at
fixed hours, at which a gentleman could take his place on payment of
a certain sum, much in the same style as our modern _tables d’hôte_.
Gradually these establishments became gambling-houses, and men settled
down after dinner to cards, dice, and other games. They were called
ordinaries, and in the reign of Elizabeth they had become an important
part of the social system. It was here that people went to hear the
news of the day, or the talk of the town, and to frequent the ordinary
became gradually considered as a necessary part of the education of
a gentleman of fashion. At the beginning of the seventeenth century,
the usual price of an ordinary appears to have been two shillings;
but there were ordinaries at eighteen-pence, and at some fashionable
ordinaries the price was much higher.

[Illustration: _No. 315. Swaddling a Child._]

The general treatment of children, their costume, and their amusements,
remained much as formerly, and closely resembled those of France and
Germany as they were then, and as they have existed in some parts even
to our own days. The pernicious practice of swathing or swaddling the
child as soon as it was born prevailed everywhere, and the infant was
kept in this condition until it became necessary to teach it the use of
its limbs. The process of swaddling is shown in our cut No. 315, taken
from one of the prints by Bosse, published in 1633, which furnish such
abundant illustration of contemporary manners. The period during which
boys were kept in petticoats was very short, for at a very early age
they were dressed in the same dress as up-grown people, like little
miniature men. Our only representatives of the appearance of little
boys in the sixteenth century, is found in one or two educational
establishments, such as the Blue-Coat School in London. The costume of
a child during the short transition period between his swathes and his
breeches is represented in our cut No. 316, of a boy riding upon his
wooden horse. It is taken from a German woodcut of the date of 1549.

[Illustration: No. 316. _A Boy a-cock-horse._]

In the sixteenth century little improvement had taken place in the
means of locomotion, which was still performed generally on horseback.
Coaches, by that name, are said to have been introduced into England
only towards the middle of the sixteenth century. They were made in
various forms and sizes, according to fashion or caprice, and towards
the end of the century they were divided into two classes, known by the
foreign names of _coaches_ and _caroches_. The latter appear to have
been larger and clumsier than the former, but to have been considered
more stately; and from the old play of “Tu Quoque,” by Green (a drama
of Elizabeth’s reign), we learn that it was considered more appropriate
to the town (and probably to the court), while the _coach_ was left to
the country:--

    _Nay, for a need, out of his easy nature,_
    _May’st draw him to the keeping of a coach_
    _For country, and carroch for London._

Ben Jonson, in his comedy of “The Devil is an Ass,” gives us a great
notion of the bustle attending a _caroch_:--

    _Have with them for the great caroch, six horses,_
    _And the two coachmen, with my ambler bare,_
    _And my three women._

Coaches of any kind, however, were evidently not in very common use
until after the beginning of the seventeenth century. Women in general,
at least those who were not skilful horsewomen, when the distance
or any other circumstance precluded their going on foot, rode on a
pillion or side-saddle behind a man, one of her relatives or friends,
or sometimes a servant. The accompanying cut (No. 317) represents
a couple thus mounted, the lady holding in her hand the kind of fan
which was used at the period. From a comparison of the figure of the
Anglo-Saxon ladies on horseback, who were evidently seated in the
saddle as in a chair, sideways to the horse, we are led to suppose that
the Anglo-Saxon lady’s saddle, and probably the saddle for females in
general during the middle ages, was the same as that which was known
in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, by the name of a pillion.
The rider placed her feet usually on a narrow board, which was called
in French the _planchette_. It is evident that a woman could not be
very solidly seated in this manner, and not only did she want the
command over the horse which would enable her to take part in any very
active exercises, but it was considered almost necessary to place a
man on a saddle before her. We have, accordingly, seen that, from a
very early period, when engaged in hunting and in any sort of active
riding, the lady used a saddle, as at present, in which she raised one
leg over a part of the saddle-bow, made for that purpose, and placed
the other foot in the stirrup, by which she obtained a firm seat, and
a command over the horse. Different writers have ascribed, without any
reason, the introduction of this mode of riding for ladies to various
individuals, and Brantôme seems to have thought that this practice
was first brought into fashion by Catherine de Medicis. The last cut
is taken from a drawing in the curious Album of Charles de Bousy,
containing dates from 1608 to 1638, and now preserved among the Sloane
manuscripts (No. 3415) in the British Museum; and the same manuscript
has also furnished us with the annexed cut (No. 318) of a lady of rank
carried in her chair, with her chair-bearers and attendants. Ladies,
and especially persons suffering from illness, were often carried in
horse-litters, and there are instances of chairs mounted somewhat like
the one here represented, and carried by horses. The first attempt
towards the modern gig or cabriolet appears to have been a chair fixed
in a cart, something in the style of that represented in our cut No.
319, which in its ornamentation has a very mediæval character, although
it is given as from a manuscript in the Imperial Library in Paris (No.
6808), of the beginning of the sixteenth century.

[Illustration: _No. 317. Riding on a Pillion._]

[Illustration: _No. 318. A Lady carried in her Chair._]

The close of the period of which we are here speaking introduces
us to one in which the manners and customs of our forefathers were
less widely different from those of our own days; and the history
of domestic manners since that time, characterised less by broad
outline of the general features in its revolutions than by a gradual
succession of minute changes, and fashions which must be traced from
day to day, is less capable of being treated in the comprehensive style
of these pages. Having now, therefore, brought down our sketch of the
History of the Domestic Manners of our forefathers to the middle of
the seventeenth century, we shall here, for the reason just stated,
conclude it, and leave to some worthier labourer, or to some future
occasion, the task of tracing more minutely the history of domestic
manners and sentiments during the period which followed the middle ages.

[Illustration: _No. 319. A Mediæval Cabriolet._]



  Adulteration of food, 394.

  Ale, 32.

  Alehouse, road-side, 320, 321.

  Ale-stake, 321.

  Almsgiving, 61, 158.

  Amphitheatres, Roman, continued in use among the Anglo-Saxons, 64;
    and Anglo-Normans, 111.

  Amusements after dinner, 33, 38, 106, 194-225, 226-236.

  Amusements out of doors, 111-113, 432.

  Animals, domestic, 239-244, 384-386, 490.

  Apple, the chief fruit of the Anglo-Saxons, 295.

  Archery, a favourite amusement of the ladies, 310;
    practised generally, 433.

  Arms suspended in the hall among the Anglo-Saxons, 20;
    at a later period, 452.

  Axes, Anglo-Saxon, 9, 10.


  Backgammon, the game of, 219, 220, 484.

  Bagpipe, 184, 185, 188.

  Ball, game of, 235.

  Banquet, the 387-395;
    in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, 466, 467.

  Barons, feudal, their power and cruelty, 102.

  Baths, and bathing, 59, 259, 491, 492.

  Bear, dancing, 64, 65, 304; baiting, 305.

  Beds, among the Anglo-Saxons, 44-47;
    among the Anglo-Normans, 110, 111;
    the bed and its furniture among the English, 256-259, 403-408, 477-481.

  Bedsteads, 262, 404.

  Bees, 91.

  Beggars, in the middle ages, 327, 328.

  Bells, attached to the caparisons of horses, 314.

  Bellows, 144.

  Benches, 139.

  Bever, the name of a meal, 395, 456.

  Beverley, the minstrels of, 192.

  Birds, kept in cages, 239-242, 384, 385, 491.

  Blindman’s-buff, game of, 229, 230.

  Boar’s head, the, 146.

  Bourgeoisie, the, their mode of living, 170-173.

  Bower, chamber, or sleeping-room, Anglo-Saxon, 11.

  Bowls, vessels found in Anglo-Saxon graves, 8.

  Box-iron, ornamental, 447.

  Bread, and baking, 92, 161.

  Breakfasts of the Percy family, 421.

  Brewhouses, places for selling beer, 335.

  Buckets, Anglo-Saxon, supposed to be for carrying liquor, 9, 25.

  Buffet, or cupboard, 362, 379. See _Cupboard_.

  Bull-baiting, 304.


  Cabinets, 246.

  Cabriolet, 497, 498.

  Caldron, forms of the, 144-147.

  Candles, 43, 107, 249-252, 375, 376.

  Candle-beam, 376.

  Candlesticks, 376, 378, 475;
    attached to the walls of halls, 378, 455.

  Caquets de l’accouchée, 481.

  Cards, history of the game of, 221-225, 386, 484-488.

  Caroches, 495.

  Carole, the name of a dance, 228.

  Carpets, 245, 371, 402.

  Carriages, among the Anglo-Saxons, 73;
    among the English, 116, 434, 435, 495.

  Cart, riding in, disgraceful, 344.

  Cats, 243, 244.

  Cellar, the, 133.

  Chairs, 41, 42, 94, 155, 244, 374, 375, 378, 401, 473, 483.

  Chairs, for conveyance, 497.

  Chambers, Anglo-Saxon, 11, 40-47;
    early English, 132, 244-246, 260-262;
    in the fifteenth century, 381, 399-402.

  Chamber-maidens, 270.

  Chandeliers, 376, 475.

  Chaplets of flowers, popular in the middle ages, 288.

  Cherries, cultivated by the Anglo-Saxons, 295;
    and generally in England during the middle ages, 299, 300, 302.

  Cherry-fairs, 299.

  Chess, game of, 41, 106;
    history of the game, 195-214, 286, 287.

  Chessmen, ancient, 202-206.

  Chests, 110, 138, 262-268, 477.

  Chestnut, meaning of the word, 296.

  Children, treatment of, 47-51, 494.

  Chimneys, 99, 245.

  Churning, 92.

  Cittern, the musical instrument, 186, 187.

  Clergy, Anglo-Saxon, addicted to hunting, 68;
    corruptors of domestic morals in the middle ages, 282.

  _Cnithad_ (boyhood), period of among the Anglo-Saxons, 52.

  Coaches, 495.

  Coal, mineral, used among the Anglo-Saxons, 21.

  Coffers, 110, 263-268.

  Cold-harbour, origin of the term, 76.

  Cooks, 87, 88.

  Cookery, among the Anglo Saxons, 26, 27;
    English, 91, 148-150, 347-356, 395;
    in the fifteenth century, 381.

  Couch, the, 474.

  Counter, or table for writing, 450.

  Couples, guests placed at table in, 157.

  Court-cupboards, 474.

  Cradle, Anglo-Saxon, 49, 50;
    English, 402.

  Cressets, implements for giving light, 454.

  Cupboard, 173, 362, 371, 379, 450, 461, 462.

  Curtains, bed, 403-411.

  Curtains of chamber, 244.

  Cymbals, 189.


  Dais, the, 30, 139, 153, 154.

  Dames, the game of, 220.

  Damsons, considered as delicacies, 388.

  Dancing, among the Anglo-Saxons, 35;
    among the Anglo-Normans, 111;
    among the English, 227-229, 285;
    in the fifteenth century, 387, 419, 426, 427.

  Day, divisions and different occupations of the, 92-94, 246, 247, 396,

  Dice, the game of, 214-217, 485, 486.

  Dinner, among the Anglo-Saxons, 22-24;
    among the Anglo-Normans, 88-90;
    forms and ceremonies attending the mediæval dinner, 150-153, 156-163;
    dinner in the fifteenth century, 389, 396;
    after the Reformation, 458-466.

  Dinner, number of courses at, 349, 463.

  Dogs, Anglo-Saxon, 68, 69;
    pets and house-dogs, 242, 243;
    dogs used in hawking, 307.

  Draught chamber, or drawing-room, 408.

  Draughts, the game of, 221.

  Dresser, or cupboard, 173, 379, 393, 450, 461, 462.

  Drinking, among the Anglo-Saxons, 3, 4, 30, 31;
    among the Anglo-Normans, 113;
    among the English, 168.

  Drinking ceremonies and formalities, 33, 467-470.

  Drinking-cups, Anglo-Saxon, 5, 6, 31;
    Anglo-Norman, 89, 90;
    in the fifteenth century, 390;
    drinking-vessels, 465.

  Drum, the, 188, 393.

  Dulcimer, the, 184, 190.


  Eating, greediness in, characteristic of the English, 422, 423;
    their diet in the seventeenth century, 465.

  Education, 118, 338-340, 439.

  Embroidery, among the Anglo-Saxons, 52;
    among the English, 237, 238.


  Faldestol, the, 95.

  Fashions, extravagant, among the Anglo-Normans, 81.

  Feasts, great, 357.

  Female character, estimate of, 105.

  Feudal society, its classes and prejudices, 280, 416-418.

  Feudalism, 100, 101, 103;
    its barbarity, 316;
    its decline, 415, 441.

  Fiddle, the, 34, 184, 185, 193.

  Fighting, love of the English for, 489.

  Fire, lighted in the hall among the Anglo-Saxons, 20, 21;
    in the chamber, 245.

  Fire-irons, 445-448.

  Fireplace, the, 99, 244, 367, 444, 448-450.

  Floor, strewed with rushes, 154, 246, 366.

  Flowers, love of, among the Anglo-Saxons, 60;
    among the English, 289.
    what, cultivated by the Anglo-Saxons, 295;
    by the English, 297, 298, 300, 301.

  Food, Anglo-Saxon, 26, 28;
    Anglo-Norman, 91.
    See _Cookery_.

  Fool, court or domestic, 390.

  Forfeits, games of, 233.

  Forks for eating, not used in the middle ages, 29;
    when first used, 457, 458.

  Fostering, practice of, and foster-children, 269, 271.

  Friends, sworn, 271.

  Friendship, value of, in the middle ages, 271, 272.

  Frog-in-the-middle, game of, 232, 233.

  Fruit cultivated by the Anglo-Saxons, 295;
    in Neckam’s description of a garden, 297;
    in that of John de Garlande, 298.


  Gambling, propensity of the Teutonic race for, 214.

  Games, among the Anglo-Saxons, 40;
    among the Anglo-Normans, 106, 107;
    in the middle ages, 195, 236, 432, 433;
    at a later period, 483-490.

  Garden, the, in the middle ages, 284-290, 397, 429-432, 488.

  Garden-houses, 488.

  Gardening, 60;
    history of English gardening, 293-303.

  Gardening, early English treatises on, 302.

  Garlands, very popular, 288-290, 431.

  Glass vessels, Anglo-Saxon, 89.

  Gleemen, 33, 35, 36, 175, 176.

  Godmundingaham, story of, 55.

  Gossips, their character, 421.

  Grammar schools, origin of, 338.


  Hall, the Anglo-Saxon, 2, 3, 11, 12, 18, 19, 39;
    the Anglo-Norman, 84, 98;
    the early English, 141, 153;
    in the fifteenth century, 362;
    furniture of the, 364, 365;
    after the Reformation, 443-445, 450-455.

  Hanging, as a punishment, 58, 346.

  Harlots, the name of a class in mediæval society, 407.

  Harp, 35, 36, 164, 166, 175, 193.

  Hawking, among the Anglo-Saxons, 70;
    among the English, 305-310, 434.

  Hedgehogs, how cooked, 356.

  Herbergeors, 333.

  Herodias, dancing, 167, 168, 463.

  Hoodman-blind, game of, 229, 230.

  Horn, drinking, 32, 89.

  Horn, the musical instrument, 186, 187, 188.

  Horses, and horsemanship, among the Anglo-Saxons, 71;
    among the Anglo-Normans, 114;
    history of the horse in the middle ages, 316-319.

  Hospitality, and its forms, 22, 23, 76, 328-333.

  Hot cockles, game of, 230-232.

  Hothouses (baths), 491-493.

  Hours, early, kept by our ancestors, 247.

  Hour of rising, 93, 155, 247, 248, 395, 425, 437.
  ---- of breakfast, 93, 248, 424, 455.
  ---- of dinner, 93, 155, 248, 425, 455, 456.
  ---- of supper, 94, 155, 425, 455, 456.
  ---- of going to bed, 94, 155, 246, 425.

  House, the, among the Anglo-Saxons, 2, 11-17;
    among the Anglo-Normans, 82, 83;
    the early English, 120-136;
    in the fifteenth century, 359-362;
    after the Reformation, 442.

  Hummums, 491.

  Hunting, among the Anglo-Saxons, 67-70;
    among the Anglo-Normans, 112;
    a favourite amusement with the ladies, 310-312.

  Hutch, or chest, 262-267, 402, 409-411, 450.


  Ivory, in the middle ages, made of the horn of the walrus, 202.


  Joined furniture, 374, 375, 472, 473, 483.

  Jougleurs, 165, 177-181.


  Kayles, game of, 237.

  Keys, 135.

  Kitchen, Anglo-Norman, 84, 86-88;
    early English, 142-147.

  Knife-cases, ornamental, 464.

  Knight, characteristics of the, 104.

  Knives, Anglo-Saxon, 9, 10, 29, 30;
   Anglo-Norman, 89.

  Knives, not furnished to the guests, 363, 364.

  Knockers to doors, 361.


  Lamps, 44, 252-254.

  Lanterns, 108, 252.

  Latten, a mixed metal, 376.

  Learning, state of, 118.

  Lechers. See _Ribalds_.

  Leek, the favourite vegetable in the middle ages, 294.

  Lighting, 43, 249, 375-378, 398, 454.

  Liquors, drunk by the Anglo-Saxons, 32.

  Londesborough, lord, his collection of ancient plate, 462.

  Lute, the, 186.


  Magpie, the favourite talking bird, 239-242.

  Marriage, among the Anglo-Saxons, 54.

  Masques after dinner, 462.

  Mead, 32.

  Meals, Anglo-Saxon, 22.

  Meals, hours of the, 155. See _Hours_.

  Meat, how cooked, 148.

  Medicine, administered by the ladies, 278, 279.

  Mess, meaning of the word, 464.

  Milking, 92.

  Millichope, Norman house at, 129-131.

  Minstrels, 33-37, 106, 164-167, 175-193, 227, 228, 285, 286, 365,
      391, 393.

  Mirrors, 260, 412-414.

  Money dealings, 78, 79, 263, 265.

  Monks, luxury of the, 348.

  Monkeys, domesticated, 242, 491.

  Moon, a contrivance for giving light, 455.

  Moral character of the Anglo-Saxons, 53-58.

  Morality of the middle ages, 273, 281.

  Mummings and masquerades at dinner, 460.

  Music, cultivated as a domestic accomplishment, 427.

  Musical instruments, 34, 35, 109, 184-192.

  Music-galleries in the halls, when introduced, 182, 444.


  Naked, sleeping in bed, 257-259, 335, 411.

  Nature, beauties of, love of the Anglo-Saxons for, 60;
    of the English in the middle ages, 283.

  Nef, the, an ornamental vessel at the dinner-table, 163.

  Nightingales, domesticated, and the food for them, 385.

  Noah’s wife, mediæval character of, 420, 437.


  Occleve, the poet, his manner of living in his youth, 437.

  Oranges, 297.

  Ordinaries, 493.

  Organ, the musical instrument, 184.


  Painting, as a domestic accomplishment, 428, 429.

  Paintings, wall, 371-373, 403.

  Parlour, the, 134, 370, 371, 379-381, 386, 475, 476.

  Parrot, domesticated in the middle ages, 239, 242, 491.

  Pavements, under the Anglo-Saxons, 16.

  Peaches, known to the Anglo-Saxons, 296;
    and cultivated in England during the middle ages, 297, 303.

  Peacock, how served at table, 354.

  Perche, the, 111, 136-138, 305.

  Percy family, their diet, 421.

  Pic-nics, origin of, 438, 493.

  Pie. See _Magpie_.

  Pillion, riding on, 495, 496.

  Pine, the kernels of the cone used in the same way as almonds
      (misprinted _olives_ in the first reference), 296, 350.

  Pipe, the musical instrument, 188.

  Pipe, double, musical instrument, 64, 190.

  Plants, cultivated in gardens, 297, 298, 300, 301.

  Plate, an article of ostentation in the middle ages, 174;
    great fashion for in the sixteenth century, 461.

  Play, fondness of the Anglo-Saxons for, 63.

  Poisoning in the middle ages, 279, 431.

  Pottery, Anglo-Saxon, 6-8;
    Anglo-Norman, 85, 90.

  Priesthood, family, among the unconverted Angles, 55.

  Printing, origin of the art of, 224.

  Psaltery, the musical instrument, 186, 187.

  Pudding, the love of the English for, 466.

  Punch and Judy, 433.

  Punishments, Anglo-Saxon, 58, 59;
    English, 342-346.


  Quarrels in the hall after drinking, 38.

  Questions and commands, games of, 232-234.


  Ragman’s Roll, game of, 233, 234.

  Rere-suppers, 387, 393-395, 467.

  Ribalds, or lechers, a class of mediæval society, 85, 104, 178.

  Ridels, 403.

  Riding, 115, 311-315, 495, 496.

  Riding, prejudice against, 313.

  Rings, their importance in the middle ages, 266-269.

  Roads, insecurity of the, 77, 326, 436.

  Robbers, 326, 327.

  Roy-qui-ne-ment, game of, 232, 233.

  Ruelle, of the bed, 404.


  Salt, its importance at table, and superstition concerning it, 362;
    customs relating to it, 459.

  Scholars, begging, 339.

  Schools, 117-119.

  Scissors, 109.

  Seats, among the Anglo-Saxons, 31, 41;
    among the Anglo-Normans, 94-97;
    in the fifteenth century, 369, 370;
    after the Reformation, 472-474.

  Servants, cruel treatment of, by the Anglo-Saxon ladies, 56, 57.

  Servants, how to be governed, 277;
    how treated, 278;
    riotous and ungovernable, 313, 424.

  Service, young gentlemen going to seek, 269,272.

  Settle, the, 97, 401.

  Shalm, the musical instrument, 186, 187.

  Side-saddles, used by women, 72, 115, 311-313.

  Sitting, etiquette in, 293.

  Soler, of a house, 12, 83, 126-128.

  Spectacles, 439.

  Spense, the, 133.

  Spinning, an occupation of the ladies, 238, 426, 482.

  Squirrels, domesticated, 384-386;
    cooked for the table, 355, 356.

  Stocks, as a punishment, 59, 116.

  Subtilty, an ornamental device at table, 355, 393.

  Supernaculum, explanation of the term, 468.

  Suppers, 246, 247, 391, 395, 397.

  Supper, rere, 387, 393-395, 467.

  Swaddling of babies, 48, 50, 402, 494.

  Sweetmeats, use of, 467.


  Table, manners at, 161, 162, 363, 364, 366-369.

  Tables, of the Anglo-Saxons, 21, 42;
    of the Normans, 94;
    Early English, 139;
    in the fifteenth century, 364, 371, 374;
    of the subsequent period 471.

  Tables, arrangement of, in the hall, 153.

  Tables for books, 340, 341.

  Table dormant, 139, 365.

  Tables, folding, 450, 453, 454.

  Tables with leaves, 450.

  Tables, for writing, 440, 450.

  Tables, game of, 40, 217-220.

  Tabor, the musical instrument, 183, 193, used to rouse game, 308, 309.

  Tambourine, the, 188.

  Tapestry for the walls of houses, 19, 20, 160, 244, 371, 450, 474.

  Taverns, Anglo-Saxon, 75, 77; Anglo-Norman, 113;
    early English, 258, 333-337;
    in the fifteenth century, 436-439.

  Tavern-keepers, their extortions, 215.

  Thane’s seat, 62.

  Timepieces, 477, 478.

  Toilette, the, among the Anglo-Saxons, 59;
    among the English, 260, 491.

  Top, game of, 235, 236.

  Torches, use of, 254, 377.

  Towns, 65, 66.

  Travelling, among the Anglo-Saxons, 75-78;
    among the Anglo-Normans, 114-116;
    among the English, 319-327.

  Trencher, the, 158.

  Truckle-beds, 408.

  Trumpet, 189.

  Tumblers, for drinking, origin of the name, 6.


  Umbrellas, used by the Anglo-Saxons, 75.


  Vessels used at table, 25, 34, 150.

  Villains, how regarded by the Normans, 101.

  Vine, the, cultivated in England, 33, 99, 296.

  Visitors, how received, 141, 142.


  _Waghe_, difference between this word and _wall_, 12.

  Wakes, village, 67.

  Walking, rules for behaviour in, 290-293.

  Washing, before and after meals, 156, 367, 368,
  396, 397.

  Weaving, as practised by the ladies, 109, 237, 426, 427, 482, 483.

  Well, the, 86, 361.

  Whips, 235, 315.

  Windows, 83, 121, 134.

  Windows, with seats, 373, 374.

  Wine, 33, 90.

  Woman, her character among the Anglo-Saxons, 52, 53.

  Women, their occupations, 52, 53, 108, 109, 237-239;
    their want of delicacy in the middle ages, 274;
    treated with rudeness, 275;
    instructions to them, 275;
    acted as doctors, 278, 279;
    poisoners, 279, 431;
    frequenters of taverns, 282, 420, 437-439;
    education and employment of gentlewomen, 383, 384, 419, 426;
    their undomestic character, 420;
    addicted to gambling and drinking, 483-485;
    their manner of riding. See _Side-saddle_, _Pillion_.

  Writing, implements of, 96, 117, 266, 340, 341, 439.



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[1] The distinction between the _waghe_ and _walle_ continued to a
comparatively late period. Halliwell, “Dictionary of Archaic and
Provincial Words,” v. _waghe_, quotes the following lines from a
manuscript of the fifteenth century--

    _So hedousely that storme ganne falle,_
    _That sondir it braste bothe waghe and walle._

[2] It appears not, however, to have been customary to lock the doors
during the absence of the family, but merely to leave some one to take
care of the house. This, at least, was the case in Winchester, as we
learn from the miracles of St. Swithun, by the monk Lantfred.

[3] Strutt has engraved, without indicating the manuscript from which
it is taken, a small Saxon house, consisting of one hall or place for
living in, with a chamber attached, exactly like the domestic chapel
and its attached chamber in our cut, No. 12. This seems to have been
the usual shape of small houses in the Anglo-Saxon period.

[4] William of Malmesbury, de Gest. Pontif. printed in Gale, p. 249,
describes the Saxons as cooking their meat _in lebete_, evidently
meaning the sort of vessel figured in the foregoing cuts. The Latin
_lebes_, a cauldron or kettle, is interpreted in the early glossaries
by the Anglo-Saxon _hwer_, or _huer_, from which we derive the English
word _ewer_; _hwær-boll_ or _hwær-cytel_ are interpreted in the
Anglo-Saxon dictionaries as meaning a frying-pan, which is evidently
not correct.

[5] There is one of these knives in the Cambridge Museum, which has
been there rather singularly labelled “a Roman razor!” Mr. Roach
Smith always suspected that these knives were late Saxon, and their
similarity in form to those given in the manuscripts shows that he was

[6] Post prandium ad pocula, quibus Angli nimis sunt assueti.--Chron.
J. Wallingford, in Gale, p. 542.

[7] “Duos ciphos argenteos ... ad serviendum fratribus in refectorio,
quatenus, dum in eis potus edentibus fratribus ministratur, memoria mei
eorum cordibus arctius inculcetur.”--Hist. Ramesiensis, in Gale, p. 406.

[8] We shall return to this subject in a subsequent chapter.

[9] Regem adhuc tesserarum vel scaccarum ludo longioris tædia noctis
relevantem invenit.

[10] Mater, si juxta focum infantem suum posuerit, et homo aquam in
caldarium miserit, et ebullita aqua infans superfusus mortuus fuerit;
pro negligentia mater pœniteat, et ille homo securus sit.

[11] This, I suppose, is the meaning of the canon of Alfric (No. 9),
which allows a layman to marry, with a dispensation, a second time,
“if his wife desert him” (_gyf his wíf ætfylð_) but the priest was
not allowed to give his blessing to the marriage, because it was a
case in which the church enjoined a penance, the performance of which
it would be his duty to require. But the meaning of the Anglo-Saxon
ecclesiastical laws on this subject is rather obscure.

[12] This fact of family priesthood may perhaps explain a circumstance
in the early history of Northumbria, which has much puzzled some
antiquaries; I mean the story, given by Bede, of the conversion of
king Edwin, and of the part acted on that occasion by the Northumbrian
priest Coifi. The place where the priesthood was held, and where the
temple stood, was called Godmundingaham, a name which it has preserved,
slightly modified, to the present day. This name has been the victim
of the most absurd attempts at derivation, which are not worth
repeating here, because every one who knows the Anglo-Saxon language,
and anything of Anglo-Saxon antiquities, is aware that it can only
have one meaning--the home, or head residence, of the Godmundings, or
descendants of Godmund. Perhaps the priesthood was at this time in the
family of the Godmundings, and Coifi may have been then the head of the

[13] Habebant etiam ex consuetudine patriæ unoquoque die comam pectere,
sabbatis balneare, sæpe etiam vestituram mutare, et formam corporis
multis talibus frivolis adjuvare.--Hist. Eliensis ap. Gale, p. 547.

[14] It is curious that the modern English words play (_plega_), and
game (_gamen_), are both derived from the Anglo-Saxon, which perhaps
shows that they represent sentiments we have derived from our Saxon

[15] Pueri et adolescentes, ... illic convenientes, more Anglorum
luctamina et alia ludicra exercebant puerilia, et cantilenis et musicis
instrumentis sibi invicem applaudebant, unde propter turbam puerorum
et puellarum illic concurrentium, mos inolevit ut in eodem die illic
conveniret negotiandi gratia turba vendentium et ementium.--MS. Harl.
No. 3601 fol. 12, v^o.

[16] This erroneous statement is repeated by most of our writers on
such subjects, and will be found in Mr. Planché’s “History of British
Costume.” Statements of this kind made by old writers are seldom
to be depended upon; people were led by political bias or personal
partiality, to ascribe the introduction of customs that were odious, to
persons who were unpopular, or whom they disliked, while they ascribed
everything of a contrary character to persons who were beloved.

[17] The word occurs in the reflections of our first parents on their
nakedness, in the poem attributed to Cædmon. Adam says that when the
inclement weather arrives (_cymeð hægles scúr_--the hail shower will
come) they had nothing before them to serve for a defence or shade
against the storm--

    “_Nys unc wuht beforan_
     _to scur sceade._”

[18] This valuable MS. is preserved in the library of Trinity College,
Cambridge. It is a very remarkable circumstance, which has not
hitherto been noticed, that the illuminations are in general copies
from those of the Harleian MS. No. 603, except that the costume and
other circumstances are altered, so that we may take them as correct
representatives of the manners of the Anglo-Normans.

[19] “Quod, mola detritum, et aqua rorante perfusum, more usitato, in
camino æstuante est depositum.” _Reg. Dunelm_, p. 128. He owns they
were so small that they hardly deserved the name of loaves. “Vix enim
bis seni panes erant numero, qui tamen minores adeo quantitate fuerant
quod indignum videretur panum eos censeri vocabulo.”

[20] Quod si super aquas seu ad ignem se calefactura sedisset.--Reg.
Dunelm., c. 124.

[21] Quidam de villula in confinio posita, artificiosus minister,
sub diurno tempore studiosus advenit, cujus negotiationis opus in
pectinibus conformandis, tabulatis et scaccariis, talis, spiniferis, et
cæteris talibus, de cornuum vel solidiori ossuum materia procreandis et
studium intentionis effulsit.--Reg. Dunelm, c. 88.

[22] Quidam Walterus ... qui ad domum sacerdotis villulæ prædictæ cum
hospitibus potaturus accessit. Cum igitur noctis spacium effluxisset,
&c.--Reg. Dunelm, c. 17

[23] Lantfridus, in his collection of the miracles of St. Swithun,
MS. Reg. 15, C. vii., fol. 41, v^o., tells us how--“quidam consul
regis, in caducis præpotens rebus, cum ingenti comitatu, sicut mos
est Anglo-Saxonum, properater equitabat ad quendam vicum in quo
grandis apparatus ad necessarios convivandi usus erat illi opipare
constructus,” &c.

[24] In the description of a splendid hall, in the English metrical
romance of kyng Alisaunder (Weber, i. 312), the windows are made “of
riche glas.”

[25] The old literary antiquaries, through mistaking the _u_ of the
manuscripts for an _n_, and not attending to the derivation, have
created a meaningless word--_jongleur_--which never existed, and ought
now to be entirely abandoned.

[26] The Latin original of this story is so quaint that it deserves
to be given _ipsissimis verbis_. “_De rustico et simia._ Quidam
aulam cujusdam nobilis intrans, vidensque simiam de secta filiorum
vestitum, quia dorsum ad eum habebat, filium credidit esse domini, cui
cum reverentia qua debuit loqueretur. Invenit esse simiam super eum
cachinnantem, cui ille, ‘Maledicaris!’ inquit, ‘credidi quod fuisses
Jankyn filius domini mei.’”--Latin Stories, p. 122.

[27] _Item_, que par la dicte dame Agnes vous faciez principalment et
diligemment penser de vos bestes de chambre, comme petis chiennés,
oiselets de chambre; et aussi la beguine et vous pensez des autres
oiseauls domeschés, car ils ne pevent parler, et pour ce vous devez
parler et penser pour eulx, se vous en avez.--(Ménagier de Paris, ii.

[28] Et ayez fait adviser par avant, qu’ils aient chascun loing de
son lit chandelier à platine pour mettre sa chandelle, et les aiez
fait introduire sagement de l’estaindre à la bouche ou à la main avant
qu’ils entrent en leur lit, et non mie à la chemise.--(Ménagier de
Paris, ii. 71.)

[29] To show the extreme ignorance which has prevailed on the history
of English gardening in the middle ages, it need only be mentioned that
Loudon, “Encyclopædia of Gardening” (edition of 1850), was not aware
that the leek had been cultivated in England before the time of Tusser,
the latter half of the sixteenth century (p. 854); and states that
garlic “has been cultivated in this country since 1548” (p. 855); and
that the radish is “an annual, a native of China, and was mentioned by
Gerard in 1584” (p. 846).

[30] Loudon (p. 887) was not aware that the cultivation of sage dated
farther back than the time of Gerard, who wrote in 1597, and he could
trace back to no older date the cultivation of rue.

[31] Our word _chestnut_ is derived from the Anglo-Saxon _cyste-hnutu_,
the nut of the cyste-tree. I may remark, on these names of fruits, that
Loudon imagined that the peach was “introduced into England about the
middle of the sixteenth century” (“Encyclopædia of Gardening,” p. 912);
and that of the fig, the “first trees were brought over from Italy by
Cardinal Pole, in 1525.” He seems to think that quinces and mulberries
came into this country also in the course of the sixteenth century.

[32] There is, however, an Anglo-Saxon name of a tree which I suspect
has been misinterpreted. The glossaries give “_ramnus_, þefe-þorn,”
and our lexicographers, taking the old sense of the word _rhamnus_,
interpret it, the dog-rose. But in a very curious glossary of names of
plants of the middle of the thirteenth century, printed in my “Volume
of Glossaries,” in which the meaning of the Latin word is given in
Anglo-Norman and in English, we have “_Ramni_, grosiler, þefe-þorn” (p.
141). I have no doubt that the thefe-thorn was the gooseberry. In the
dialect of Norfolk, gooseberries are still called _theabes_.

[33] It may be well to remark, once for all, that it is almost
impossible to identify some of these mediæval names of plants.

[34] For many references, the reader is referred to Halliwell’s
“Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words,” under the word

[35] Buglos.

[36] The corn-marigold.

[37] Marjoram.

[38] Clary.

[39] Basil.

[40] Probably sowthistle, although it is placed under the letter F in
the alphabetical list.

[41] The plant Alexander.

[42] Cives.

[43] The herb serpentine.

[44] Eyebright.

[45] Better known as Solomon’s seal.

[46] Dropwort.

[47] Eringoes.

[48] Gooseberries? See before, p. 296.

[49] Quidam juvenis de domo domini Lundoniensis episcopi, spiritum
habens in avibus cœli ludere, nisum suum docuit cercellas affectare
propensius. Itaque juxta sonitum illius instrumenti quod a ripatoribus
vocatur _tabur_, subito cercella quædam alarum remigio pernicitur
evolavit. Nisus autem illusus lupum quendam nantem in locis sub undis
crispantibus intercepit, invasit, et cepit, et super spatium sicut
visum est xl. pedum se cum nova præda recepit.--Rad. de Diceto, ap.
Decem Striptores, col. 666.

[50] A Bury will, of the date 1522, mentioned a little further on,
enumerates among the household furniture “the steynyd clothes hangyng
abowte the parlour behynde the halle chemny.”

[51] This receipt is curious enough to be given here; it is as
follows:--“Fyrst, take and geve hym yelow antes, otherwyse called
pysmerys, as nere as ye may, and the white ante or pysmers egges be
best bothe wynter and somer, ij. tymes of the day an handful of bothe.
Also, geve hym of these sowes that crepe with many fete, and falle oute
of howce rovys. Also, geve hym whyte wormes that breede betwene the
barke and the tre.”--Reliquiæ Antiquæ, vol. i. p. 203.

[52] Dagswain was a sort of rough material of which the commoner sort
of coverlets were made. A hap-harlot or hop-harlot, was also a very
coarse kind of coverlet. Harlot was the term applied to a low class of
vagabonds, the ribalds, who wandered from place to place in search of
a living; and the name appears to have been given to this rug as being
only fit to be the lot or hap of such people.

[53] At a rather later period, sir Thomas Elyot, in his “Castell of
Helth” (printed in 1541), recommends that breakfast should be taken
about four hours before dinner, considering it therefore as a light
meal, and he advises, in a sanitary view, that not less than six hours
should be allowed to elapse between dinner and supper.

[54] The reader who wishes for further information on the ornamental
plate of the middle ages, and especially of the age of the Renaissance
and succeeding period, may consult with advantage lord Londesborough’s
handsome and valuable volume, the “Miscellanea Graphica,” and the
“Illustrated Descriptive Catalogue of the Collection of Antique Silver
Plate formed by Albert, lord Londesborough, now the property of lady
Londesborough,” printed by her ladyship for private distribution; the
latter of which contains no less than a hundred and fourteen examples
of ornamental plate excellently engraved by Mr. Fairholt, among which
are several fine examples of the nef, or ship.

[Transcriber’s Note:

Page 47, “We have few contemporary notices of the treatment children at
this early age” changed to read “We have few contemporary notices of
the treatment of children at this early age”.

Page 192, “the fabliaus or metrical stories;” changed to read “the
fabliaux or metrical stories;”.

Page 297, “The earliest account of an English garden is given by
Alexander Neckham,” changed to read “The earliest account of an English
garden is given by Alexander Neckam,”.

Page 325, “R man de Berte,” changed to read “Roman de Berte,”

Obvious printer errors corrected silently.

Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation are as in the original.]

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A History of Domestic Manners and Sentiments in England During the Middle Ages" ***

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