G. G. (George Gordon) Coulton.

A medieval garner; human documents from the four centuries preceding the reformation online

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is restored betwixt man and man. If, however, any-
one be so sunk in evil that he will not forgive those who
have sinned against him, nor obey the pious admonition
of the priests, then is his offering forthwith cast down
from the waggon as an unclean thing ; and he himself,
with much shame and ignominy, is separated from the
unity of the sacred people. There at the prayers of
the faithful ye may see the sick, and those that are
vexed mth divers diseases, arise whole from the
waggons on which they had been laid ; ye may see the
dumb open their mouths to God's praise, and those
who are vexed by demons come to a sounder mind ;
ye may see the priests of Christ set each above his own
waggon and exhorting all men to confession, to lamenta-
tion, to the resolution of better life, while the people
fall to the ground, whereon they lie outstretched and
kiss the earth again and again ; old men and young
men, with children of the tenderest age, cry upon the
Mother of God, to whom especially they uplift their
sobs and sighs from the inmost recesses of their heart
with the voice of confession and praise : for this work
is known to be specially hers next to her gentle Son.
She more especially commended herself in this work
after Him ; she adorned first the Cathedral of Chartres
and then our church dedicated to her with so many

I02 A Medieval Garner.

and so great signs and wonders that, if I would express
all that it hath been vouchsafed to me to see, even in a
single night, my memory and tongue would utterly
fail me. For these miracles would seem to exceed
both number and faith, yet I will tell of them below as
truly as I may, so far as the strength which God hath
given me will permit.

When, therefore, the faithful people (to return to my
purpose), set on their way again with bray of trumpets
and waving of banners borne before, then, marvellous
to relate, the work went on so easily that nothing
hindered them on their way, neither steep mountains
nor deep waters rolUng between, but (as we read of the
ancient Hebrews that they entered Jordan in their
bands), so one by one, when they came to cross the
river, these suddenly entered without delay into the
waters that stood over against them, under the Lord's
guidance, so that even the waves of the sea at the place
called St. Marie du Port, while the whole company
were crossing on their way to us, are credibly said to
have stood away from them on their passage. Nor
can we wonder that the older and more aged undertook
this burdensome labour for the multitude of their sins ;
but what urged boys and children to this work ? Who
brought them to that good Teacher who hath perfected
His praise in the mouths and works of children ? Hath
perfected, I say, that by all means the work begun
among the elders may be proved to have been com-
pleted by the children ; for you might see them, with
their own little Idngs and leaders, bound to their laden
waggons, and not dragging with bowed backs like
their elders but walking erect as though they bore no
burden, and (more wonderful still) surpassing them in
nimbleness and speed. Thus went they in a fashion
far more glorious, holy, and religious, than any words
of ours could express.

When they were come to the church, then the
waggons were arrayed around it like a spiritual camp ;
and all that night following this army of the Lord kept
their watches with psalms and hymns ; then waxen
tapers and lights were kindled in each waggon, then

Building and Faith. 103

the sick and infirm were set apart, then the relics of the
saints were brought to their relief, then mystical pro-
cessions were made by priests and clergy, and followed
with all devotion by the people, who earnestly implored
the Lord's mercy and that of His blessed Mother for
their restoration to health. If, however, the healing
were but a little delayed, nor followed forthwith after
their vows, then all might have been seen putting off
their clothes — men and women alike, naked from the
loins upward, casting away all confusion and lying
upon the earth. Moreover, their example was followed
even more devoutly by the children and infants who,
grovelUng on the ground, not so much crept from the
church porch upon their hands and knees, but rather
dragged themselves flat upon their bodies first to the
high altar and then to all the others, calling upon the
Mother of Mercy in this new fashion of prayer, and
there extorting from her surely and forthwith the pious
desires of their petitions ; for what — (I will not say
could they not obtain, but) — could they not extort by
this fashion of prayer, this affection of piety shown in
their groans, their sighs, their tears, and therefore
ascending even to the divine ears of the Mother of all
Pity ? Who indeed would not be moved, nay rather,
whose stony heart would not be softened as he watched
that pious humility of the innocent children dragging
their naked ribs on the bare ground ? Who would not
be pricked to tears by those lamentable voices crjdng
aloud to Heaven ? Who, I ask, would not be bent by
those tender hands and arms stretched out to be beaten
with rods ? For it did not suffice them (though that
surely were admirable at so tender an age !) to cry so
long \vith the voice of weeping ; it did not suffice that
so many tears should be shed, but of their own accord
they must needs add bodily affliction also, to obtain
the heahng of these sick folk. The priests stood over
them, shedding tears while they beat with their scourges
upon the tender limbs thus exposed, while the children
besought them not to spare their stripes nor withhold
their hand in too great mercy. All voices echoed the
same cry, " Smite, scourge, lash, and spare not."

I04 A Medieval Garner.

There might be seen more than a thousand hands out-
stretched to the scourge ; nay, they exposed their very
ears and eyes and tongues, saying, " Let these hands
be smitten which have wrought iniquity ; let these ears
be lashed which have listened to vanity, these eyes
which have seen it ; this tongue and these hps which
have uttered idle and Ijdng words ! " Here I ask with
assurance, who is so hard-hearted that he is not moved
to tears ? Who is so fierce and merciless that he is not
moved forthwith to pity at this pious sight ? Truly
the Mother of Mercy is moved without delay to pious
compassion on those who afflict themselves before her,
and showeth by the immediate efficacy of her healing
hand how nearly she is touched and how truly she hath
heard their cries ; for soon all the sick and infirm leap
forth healed from waggon after waggon, casting away
the staff whereupon they had hitherto leaned their
crippled limbs, and hastening without support to
render thanks at her altar. Blind men see, and thread
their way with ease ; the dropsical are relieved of their
grievous load and lose their fatal thirst. What say I ?
Why should I enumerate one healing after another,
when they are innumerable and more than man can
tell ? After each miracle a solemn procession is held
to the high altar, the bells are rung, praise and thanks
are rendered to the Mother of Mercy. This is the
manner of their vigils, these are their divine night-
watches, this is the order of the Lord's camp, these
are the forms of new religion, these the rites, the
heaven-taught rites, in their secret watches. For here
nothing carnal is seen ; nothing earthly of any kind ;
all is divine, all is done as in Heaven ; heavenly alto-
gether are such vigils, wherein nothing is heard but
hymns, lauds, and thanks !

The Changeling Monk. 105

40.— Cfte Ctjangeling a^onk.

From the Chronicle of John of Worcester (Oxford, 1908), p. 46,
under the year 1138.

EANWHILE the report of this foUowing
miracle was noised abroad. There is in
the archbishopric of Treves a certain noble
monastery named Prt'im, dedicated to SS.
Peter and Paul, and founded in ancient days
by Pippin, King of the Franks, father to Charles the
Great : from which monastery this strange and
unheard-of event is reported by all that dwell therein.
One morning, when the Cellarer of the monastery,
followed by his servant, had entered his cellar to give
out wine as usual for the sacrifice of the altar, he
found one of the casks, which he had left full the day
before, emptied even to the hole of that peg which men
call hung or spigot, and the wine spilt over the whole
pavement. Wherefore, groaning sore at this loss that
had befallen, he rebuked the servant that stood by his
side with many harsh words, saying that he had
doubtless closed the spigot carelessly on the day before
and thus caused this grievous damage : after which he
commanded the man, under threat of punishment, to
reveal this accident to no man ; for he feared lest, if
the Abbot should hear it, he would thrust him forth
with contumely from his office. Again at nightfall,
before the Brethren went to rest, he entered the cellar
and closed with all diligence the spigots of the wine-
casks ; after which, locking the door, he sought his
couch. Nevertheless on the morrow, when he entered
his cellar according to custom, he found another cask
emptied down to the bung-hole as on the day before,
and the wine still flowing. Seeing which, and not
knowing to whose negligence he might attribute this
loss, he was cut to the heart and sore amazed ; and,
again commanding his servant to breathe no word of
what had happened, he fortified the spigots with all
possible diligence, one by one, before seeking his couch
that evening ; after which he lay down sadly and

io6 A Medieval Garner.

anxiously to sleep. Having arisen at dawn and
opened the cellar, he found the spigot drawn from a
third cask, and the wine spilt even to the hole. There-
fore, being stricken with terror, as well he might, at all
these marvels, and no longer daring to conceal the
common loss, he hastened to the Abbot and, falling at
his feet, confessed all things in order, even as he had
seen them. The Abbot therefore, having taken counsel
with the Brethren, bade that all the spigots of the wine-
casks should be anointed at nightfall with holy chrism ;
which was duly performed. The aforesaid Brother,
therefore, having come to his cellar with the morrow's
dawn, found a little black boy, wondrous small,
cUnging with his hands to one of the spigots : whom
he seized forthwith and brought to the Abbot, sa3dng,
" Lo ! Lord, this little boy whom thou seest is he who
hath brought upon us all that loss which we have
suffered in our cellar " ; and with this he told how he
had found the urchin hanging to the spigot. Then the
Abbot, marvelling beyond all belief at the figure of
that child, took counsel and bade that a monk's frock
should be made for him, and that he should be set to
associate with the school-boys in the cloister. It was
done as he bade ; and this same child dwelt night and
day with the schoolboys. Yet he never took food nor
drink, nor spake to any man, whether openly or in
secret ; and, while the rest slept at night-time or
at mid-day, he would sit on his bed weeping and sob-
bing, without rest or intermission. Meanwhile another
Abbot came to pray at this monastery, where he was
detained for a few days ; before whose face the school-
boys often passed as he sat with the Abbot and the
elder monks ; at which times this little child, stretching
out his hands to him, would look up with tearful eyes
as though he besought some grace. After a while,
seeing that he oftentimes did thus, the Abbot mar-
velled at his dwarfish stature and enquired of those
that sat by, " Wherefore then will ye keep so small a
child in your convent ? " Whereat they smiled and
answered, " Nay, my lord, this boy is not such as ye
think " ; and with that they told him of the damage

The Changeling Monk. 107

which he had done unto them, and how he had been
found hanging by the hands to the spigot of that cask,
and how he had borne himself as he went in and out
among them. At which that Abbot was sore afraid ;
and, groaning aloud : "As soon as may be," quoth he,
" cast ye liim forth from your monastery, lest ye incur


From an illuminated initial of the early 14th century (MS. Sloane, 2435),
reproduced in H. Shaw's Dresses and Decorations,

io8 A Medieval Garner.

greater loss or more grievous peril ! This is manifestly
some devil lurking in human form ; nevertheless God's
mercy hath protected you through the merits of the
saints whose relics are here kept ; so that he could not
do you further hurt." So, at his command, the boy
was forthwith brought into their presence ; where,
when stripped of his monkish frock, he vanished like
smoke from between their hands.

41.— 8)eretical Puritanism.

From the Chronicle of Ralph, Abbot of Coggeshall (R.S., pp. 121 fi).
Ralph's record is especially valuable during the years that came under
his own experience (1187-1224).

jN the days of Louis [VII, 1137-1180], father
to King Philip of France, while the errors
of certain heretics, who are commonly caUed
^S. Publicans, spread secretly through many
provinces of France, a marvellous thing
befel in the city of Reims, in the matter of an old crone
infested with this plague. The lord William, Arch-
bishop of that city and uncle to King Philip, was
riding one day for pastime without the city, attended
by his clergy ; when one of his clerks. Master Gervase
of Tilbury,* seeing a maiden walking alone in a vine-
yard, and impelled by the wanton curiosity of youth,
went aside to her, as we have heard from his own
mouth in later years when he was a Canon. Having
saluted her and asked whence she came, and who were
her parents, and what she did there alone, having also
observed her comeliness for a while, he began at last
to address her in courtly fashion and prayed her of love
par amours. " Nay," replied she, with a simple
gesture and a certain gravity in her words, scarce
deigning to look at the youth, " Nay, good youth, God
forbid that I should ever be thy leman or any other
man's ; for if I were once thus defiled, and lost my

* " Gervase of Tilbury, an historian of the thirteenth century,
whose career as a wandering scholar is very interesting, was for some
time in the service of Otto IV., and was made Marshal of the Kingdom
of Aries by him." — {Diet, of English History.)

Heretical Puritanism. loo

virginity, I should doubtless suffer eternal damnation
beyond all help." Hearing wliich, Master Gervase
forthmth knew her for one of this most impious sect
of Publicans,* who in those days were sought out on
every hand and destroyed ; more especially by Philip
Count of Flanders, who by an act of righteous cruelty
punished them mthout mercy ; jet some had already
come over to England, who were caught at Oxford,
and ignominiously branded on the forehead with a
white-hot iron at Henry II. 's bidding, and banished
the realm. While therefore the clerk aforesaid dis-
puted ^^^Lth the maiden, confuting this answer of hers,
then the Archbishop came up with his train ; and,
hearing the cause of this dispute, he bade them take
the girl and bring her with him to the city. Then,
when he had addressed her in presence of his clergy,
and proposed many texts and reasonable arguments
to confute her error, she answered that she herself was
not so well-instructed as to refute such weighty
objections, but confessed that she had a mistress in the
city who would easily refute all by her reasonings.
When therefore she had revealed this woman's name
and abode, the crone was forthwith sought out by the
servants, and set before the Archbishop. She, there-
fore — being assaulted on all sides with texts from
Holy Scripture, both by the Archbishop himself and
by his clergy, that they might convince her of so
heinous an error — yet she, by a certain sinister subtlety
of interpretation, so perverted all the texts they cited,
that all understood clearly enough how the Spirit of
AU Error spake through her mouth. For she replied
so easily, with so ready a memory, to all the texts and
stories objected to her, whether from the Old or the
New Testament, as though she had acquired a know-
ledge of the whole Scripturesf and had been always
practised in answers of this kind ; mingling falsehood

* Many sects of medieval heretics were accused, and in some cases
probably with truth, of adopting the extreme Manichaean doctrine
which condemned even marriage.

i It was a constant complaint of medieval preachers that the heretics
knew the text of the Bible so much better than the average orthodox ;
see my Medieval Studies, No. VII., p. 10.

no A Medieval Garner.

with truth, and baffling the true explanation of our
faith with a certain pernicious understanding. Since
therefore the obstinate minds of both women could be
recalled neither by fair words nor foul, nor by any
citations or texts of Scripture, from the error of their
ways, therefore they were shut up in his prison until
the morrow. On the next day they were summoned
again to the Archbishop's hall, before him and all his
clergy, and in the presence of noble men ; where they
were again publicly challenged to renounce their errors,
and many reasons were again alleged. Yet they would
by no means admit his salutary warnings, but rather
persisted immovably in the errors they had conceived ;
wherefore they were unanimously adjudged to the
stake. When therefore the fire was already kindled
in the city, and they should have been dragged by the
Serjeants to the penalty to which they had been con-
demned, then that wicked mistress of error cried aloud :
" O madmen and unjust judges ! Think ye to burn me
now^ with your fires ? I fear not your doom, nor
shudder at the flames ye have prepared." With these
words, she suddenly drew from her bosom a spool of
thread, which she cast through a great window of the
hall, yet keeping the clue in her hand, and crying with
a loud voice in all men's hearing : " Catch ! " No
sooner had she spoken this word, than she was caught
up from the ground, and followed the ball like a bird
through the window, under all men's eyes : for, as we
believe, those same evil spirits bore her away who of
old lifted Simon Magus into the air.* But what
became of that witch, or whither she was spirited
away, no man of that company could discover. Mean-
while the maiden, who had not yet come to such a pitch
of madness in that sect, remained behind. No per-
suasion of reason, no promise of riches, could recall her

♦ For this legend see Vincent of Beauvais, Spec. Hist., lib. IX., c. 12,
and the Golden Legend (Temple Classics, vol. IV., p. 15) : " Then said
Simon : it is not as thou sayest, but I shall show to thee the power of
my dignity, that anon thou shalt adore me ; I am first truth, and may
flee by the air ; I can make new trees and turn stones into bread ;
endure in the fire without hurting ; and all that I will I may do. So
Peter disputed against all these, and disclosed all his malefices."

Relics Re-Found. 1 1 1

from her foolish obstinacy ; wherefore she was burned
to death, to the admiration of many who marked how
she uttered no sighs, no tears, no laments, but bore
with constancy and cheerfulness all torments of the
consuming flames, even as the martyrs of Christ (yet
for how different a cause !) who were slain in old times
by the heathen in defence of the Christian religion.*

* Tliat incidents of this kind were not infrequent, we may gather
from the learned and orthodox Petrus Cantor {Verbum Abhreviatum,
Migne, Pat. Lat. vol. 205 p. 230). After complaining that the
Church of his time dealt more harshly with heretics than the pagans
had dealt with the early Christians, he goes on, "Moreover, certain
honest matrons, refusing to consent to the lasciviousness of priests
' of the seed of Canaan ' [Daniel xiii. 56] have been written by such
priests in the book of death, and accused as heretics, and even
condemned by a certain notoriously fooUsh zealot for the Christian
faith, while rich heretics were simply blackmailed and suffered to
depart. One man, because he was poor and paUid, though he
faithfully confessed the faith of Christ on all points, and sheltered
liimself under the hope thereof, yet was burned because he said
to the assembled bishops he would by no means submit to the
ordeal of red-hot iron unless they could first show him that he
could do so without mortal sin and without tempting God. Hear-
ing this, they abandoned him with one accord [to the secular arm],
telUng the king that it was not lawful for them to be present at a
judgment which involved the shedding of blood."

42.— iRelic0 lae^jFounn.

From the contemporary Life, written by a disciple, of St. William,
canon of Ste. Genevieve at Paris, and afterwards Abbot of Eskilsoe in
Sweden, and of St. Thomas du Paraclet. The event here recorded
happened in 1162, shortly after WilHam had been saved by the personal
intervention of the Pope from the persecutions inflicted on him by his
fellow canons on account of his inconvenient strictness and probity.
AA.SS. Boll, April 6th (vol. I.) p. 626.

jHILE a deep silence reigned everywhere,
and every gust of storm in the monastery
seemed to have been laid to rest, then a
murmur arose among the people that the
Head of the Blessed Genevieve had been
taken away from the sanctuary. This spirit of blas-
phemy came at last to the king's ears ; at which rumour

112 A Medieval Garner.

the Lord King Louis was provoked to wrath and fury
beyond all measure, swearing by the Holy One of
Bethlehem that, if this proved true, he would scourge
all the Canons and thrust them forth from the monas-
tery. Wherefore, having appointed guardians to keep
watch over the treasure and relics of that monastery,
he sent letters to the Archbishop of Sens and his suffra-
gans, and to the abbots and priors of that province,
bidding all come together at Paris, on a day fixed by
himself, to enquire into the truth of this thing. The
Brethren, hearing of the King's oath, were troubled
and dismayed ; fear fell upon them ; and, sore as they
dreaded the royal wrath, yet they grieved more for that
treasure, more excellent than gold or precious pearls,
which they feared might have been abstracted. Wilham
above all men was grieved in spirit ; for he, this long
time past, had kept all the caskets of rehcs and the
treasures of the church under his own charge.

The appointed day dawned ; the King came with his
courtiers, the Bishops with the Abbots, and no small
multitude of others who wished to learn the issue of
this matter. At last, when some had been appointed
and assigned to go up with the Archbishop and his
suffragans to the holy place of the sainted virgin,
William would fain have gone with them, but they
suffered him not. Wherefore, seizing a taper or a
censer (I know not which) he said within himseK : "If
no other way be allowed me, at least I will go up as an
attendant " ; and thus he went. When therefore the
shrine had been opened, behold ! there lay St.
Genevieve's head, the jewel of France, with the other
relics of her limbs, which when William saw — the
faithful servant of that virgin saint — then he con-
tained no longer the joy which his soul had conceived ;
but, forgetting those who were of greater authority
than himself, he burst forth into sounds of exultation,
and boldly raised the Te Deum, so that the whole church
resounded with the might of his voice ; whereupon the
whole people, who had come together to this solemn
day, took it up with no less alacrity than he, and sang
it to the end ; after which the Archbishop continued
with the collect for the saintly virgin's day.

Relics Re-Found. 1 1 3

When, therefore, all these voices had ceased, then the
Bishop of Orleans cried in exceeding indignation :
" Who is that ribald who, against the authority of the
lord Archbishop and the other Bishops, for the sake of
the head of some old woman which these Brethren here
have fraudulently imposed on us, hath so rashly pre-
sumed to raise the Te Deum ? " To whom William
made answer : "If you ask who I am, I would have you
know that you have calumniated me, who am no ribald,
but a servant of St. Genevieve ; and, whereas you
accuse me of presumption, it was no rash presumption
but the sincere love of the holy virgin which hath ever
possessed me, that urged me to this deed. The head
which ye have seen is (as I confess) that of an old
woman, who kept the flower of virginity to her death ;
for St. Genevieve lived seventy years and more in this
world, a virgin ever clean and immaculate, until she
gave up her soul to heaven and her material body to the

Online LibraryG. G. (George Gordon) CoultonA medieval garner; human documents from the four centuries preceding the reformation → online text (page 10 of 61)