G. G. (George Gordon) Coulton.

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

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men of the eastern lands, and proffered
him the keys of the holy city and of our Lord's
grave, with the king's banner, and letters of Lucius the
pope (that counselled and charged him that he should

A Plain-Spoken Patriarch. 137

take that journey, and had mind of the oath that he had
made) ; but the king put over his answer before he came
to London ; and, by the presence of the patriarch and
of Baldwin the archbishop, many took the cross to the
Holy I^and. But Henry answered and said that he
might not forsake and leave his lands without ward and
keeping, neither set them to be prey to be robbed of
Frenchmen ; but he would give largely of his to men
that would thither go. " King," quoth the patriarch,
" it is nought that thou dost ; we seek and ask a prince,
and not money ; nigh every land of the world sendeth
us money, but no land sendeth us a prince ; therefore
we ask a man that needeth money, and not money that
needeth a man ; " and so the patriarch goeth his way,
and his hope is lost ; and the king folio weth him anon
to the sea, for he would wdth fair words, as he could
well, please the patriarch that was grieved. But the
patriarch spake to the king and said, " Hitherto thou
hast reigned gloriously, but hereafter He will forsake
thee That thou hast forsaken. Think and have mind
what our Lord hath given thee, and what thou hast
given Him again ; how thou wert false to the king of
France, and slewest St. Thomas, and now thou forsakest
the defence and protection of Christian men." The
king was wroth with these words ; the patriarch saw
that, and proffered him his head and his neck, and said,
" Do by me right as thou didst by Thomas, for me is as
hef be slain of thee in England as of Saracens in Syria,
for thou art worse than any Saracen." " Though all
my men," quoth the king, " were one body and spake
\Wth one mouth, they durst not speak to me such
words ! " "No wonder," quoth the patriarch, " for
they love thine, and not thee. This people followeth
prey, and not a man." Then the king said, " I may
not go out of my lands, for mine own sons would arise
against me when I was absent." " No wonder,"
quoth the patriarch, " for of the devil they come, and
to the devil they shall " . . . Also that year [1188] fell
strife between the kings of England and of France, and
all the money was wasted that was gathered in tithes
for the journey in going to Jerusalem ; for at the city

138 A Medieval Garner,

of Le Mans the king of France and Richard earl of
Poitou came against the king of England, and king
Henry set the suburbs afire, for a device that his
enemies should have no succour therein ; but the
strength of the wind drove the flame of the fire into the
town, and burnt up all the city, and compelled king
Henry to go out of the city ; and the king in his going
from the city spake such words and said : " For that
Thou, God, hast taken from me this day the city that
I most loved in this world, I shall requite Thee. For
after this time I shall take from Thee the thing that
should most please Thee in me, that is mine heart."

58.— IRicftatD I anD tfte 3Ietos.

{U.S., viii, 83).

ING HENRY is dead at Fontevraud, and
his son Richard was king after him and
reigned ten years. . . . This king ordered
readily his things beyond the sea, and
came into England for to be crowned.
After his coming prisons were opened and he was
crowned at London of Baldwin, Archbishop of Canter-
bury, the third day of September, the which is accounted
an evil day by the vain behef and usage of misbelieved
men, as it is y-cleped in the calendar dies Egipciacus,
and dies malus, an evil day by the vain behef, as it were
a day of boding of evil haps to the Jews ; for the Jews
of England had evil haps that day. Many Jews came
to this solemnity lest the wealth that they had under
the old king should be withdrawn in the new king's
time. But the king hight and commanded that the
Jews should not come into the church while he were
y-crowned, neither into the palace while he were at
meat. But while the king was at meat some of the
Jews pressed among other and came within the palace
gate, and one of them was y-smitten with a man's fist.
Then the rabbish people weened that the king had so
bidden, and up with staves, bats, and stones, and laid
on the Jews and made them to flee. Hereof sprang

Richard and the Jews. 139

liking tidings into all the city, as though the king had
bidden, and up with staves to destroy the Jews. And
the people, raving and crying, brake up the house where
the Jews were y-flo\^Ti for dread, and burned and
spoiled and took what they might, and would not leave
for the king's sending. ... At the last the Jews had
peace granted. . . . Also without the mischief and
woe that Jews suffered in their body and chattels at
Lincoln and at Lynn, yet at York after a long siege and
great mischief and woe. Rabbi, master of Jews, for-cut
the veins of four hundred Jews, and his own veins also,
and his wife's throat. Also at Stamford Jew^s were
y-beaten, y-slain, and y-spoiled. And one John, most
hardy of Christian men, came to Northampton mth
many great preys ; there his hosteller slew him privily
by night for covetise of money that he had y-brought,
and threw the body by night without the city, and fled
away as a thief should. Then old wives dreamed, and
there were seen wonder false sights and false tokens,
and the silly men bare on hand that it was for the
holiness of that man, that they held a very martyr, and
w^orshipped the sepulchre of the dead man with solemn
watches and gifts ; but wise men laughed them to
scorn ; but clerks of the place were well-pleased there-
\^dth, for they had profit thereby. This was told the
bishop, and anon he forbade the doing of simple men
upon the pain of cursing, and the great boast of covetous
men and of their false martyr.*

* Trevisa has here misunderstood his original, which runs, " he pro-
faned the insignia of this false martyr, which had been maintained by
the zeal of simple and covetous folk."

Roger of Hoveden (R.S. iii. 12) gives further details as to this massacre.
" So while the king sat at meat, the chief of the Jews came with gifts
for him ; but, because the populace had been forbidden the day before
to come to the King's court on this coronation day, therefore with eye
of pride and with an insatiable heart they fell upon the Jews and
despoiled them and beat them and thrust them forth from the court of
the palace. Among which Jews was Benedict, a Jew of York, who,
having been thus persecuted by the Christians, and so grievously
wounded that he despaired of hfe, was baptized by Wilham, Prior of
St. Mary's Abbey at York, in the church of the Holy Innocents, and

I40 A Medieval Garner.

was named William, and thus escaped from peril of death and from the
hands of those that persecuted him. When, therefore, the citizens of
London heard this, they fell upon the Jews of the city and burned their
houses and slew them ; yet a few escaped by the kindness of their
Christian friends. So on the morrow of his coronation the king sent
his servants and took those evil doers who burned the city — not for the
Jews' sake, but for the sake of the houses and goods of Christians which
they had burned and despoiled also — and some of them he hanged.
And on that same day the king sent for the aforesaid William, who had
been made Christian, and asked him, ' Who art thou ? ' And he
answering said, ' I am Benedict, thine own Jew of York.' Then the
King turned himself to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the rest who
had told him how the said Benedict had become Christian, saying,
' Did ye not tell me that he is a Christian ? ' And they made answer,
' Yea, Lord.' Then said he, ' What therefore shall we do with him ? '
To whom the Archbishop of Canterbury, less circumspectly than his
duty required, answered in the fury of his spirit, ' He will not be a
Christian ; let him be the Devil's man ! ' for he ought to have said, ' We
demand the judgment of Christian folk upon him, even as he was made
a Christian and now saith nay.' But, because there was none to resist,
the said Wilham returned to his Jewish pravity ; and within a little
while after he died at Northampton and was a stranger to the common
burial-ground of the Jews, even as of the Christians ; both because he
had been made a Christian and because, hke a dog to his vomit, he had
returned to his Jewish pravity."

59.— lBisl)op anti IPope.

(E.S., viii, 241).

LSO that year [1253] died St. Kobert
Grosseteste, bishop of Lincoln, the ninth day
of October. He was cunning in all the
liberal arts, and specially he expounded
many things in logic, ethics, and astrology.
He sent to the fourth Pope Innocent an epistle sharp
enough that beginneth in this manner, " Our Lord
Jesus Christ." He sent that epistle for that the pope
grieved the churches of England with taxes and with
payments undue and uncustomable. Also, for that he
had given his little nephew a canonry which first
voided in the church of Lincoln. And this Robert
would not receive the child, but he wrote to the pope
and said that he neither would neither should put such

142 A Medieval Garner.

to the cure of souls that could not rule himself.* There-
fore this Robert was summoned to the [Pope's] court
and accursed ; then from Innocent's court he appealed
to Christ's own throne. Then after Robert his death,
it happed in a night that the pope lay in his bed for to
rest, a bishop appeared to him arrayed as a bishop, and
spake to the pope and said, " Arise, wretch, and come
to thy doom ; " and smote him with his cross in the
left side right to the heart ; then on the morrow the
pope's bed was found bloody, and the pope dead ;
therefore, though Robert was a noble man, and did
often miracles, the court suffered him not to be

* Cf. No. 87 of this book.

60.— C6e 3leto ConticctcD.

(R.S., viii, 247).

T Toledo in Spain a Jew digged in his
orchard to make him a vineyard ; there he
found a stone whole and sound in every
side. In the middle of that stone he
found a book, as great as a psalter with
treen leaves, written in Greek, Hebrew, and Latin, and
spake of the three worlds from Adam to Antichrist, and
declared the property of men, and set the beginning of
the third world in Christ in this manner : "In the
third world God's Son shall be born of a maid Mary,
and He shall suffer the death for salvation of mankind.'*
The Jew read this and was baptized anon. . . .

Burchard, Bishop of Worms, writing about 1020 a.d., condemned all
who observe certain rites, or make certain incantations, " in the gather-
ing of medicinal herbs ; save only with the Creed and the Paternoster,
in honour of God and our Lord : " {Decretum, Kb. x.c. 20 : cf. c. 43).
We remember, however, that Chaucer's Doctor of Physic worked by
astrology, and that " his study was but little on the Bible." The fact
is that some sort of ceremonial was generally considered a necessary
part of all medieval medicine ; and that, while one patient would sing

Medicine and Magic, 143

Psalm xvi., drink his draught out of a church bell, and get a priest to
say a prayer over him at the conclusion, others, again, had greater
faith in the frankly pagan leechcrafts which still survived. A twelfth
century medical treatise in the British Museum (MS. Harl., 1585
fol. 12a ff.) gives the following two incantations. One of the two
illuminations which accompany it in the MS. is reproduced in " Social
England," illustrated edition, vol ii., p. 118.

61.— a^emcine anu ai^agic.

OLY Goddess Earth, parent of Nature, who
dost generate all things, and regenerate the
planet which thou alone showest to the folk
upon earth : Thou guardian of heaven
and sea, and arbiter of all the gods,
by whose influence Nature is wrapt in silence and
slumber, thou art she who restorest day and puttest
the darkness to flight, who govemest the shades of
night in all security, restraining at thy will the mighty
chaos, winds and rain and storms, or again letting them
loose. Thou chumest the deep to foam, and puttest
the sun to flight, and arousest the tempests ; or again
at thy pleasure thou sendest forth the glad daylight.
Thou givest us food in safety by a perpetual covenant ;
and, when our soul fleeth away, it is in thy bosom that
we find our haven of rest. Thou too art called, by the
loving-ldndness of the gods, the Great Mother, who
hast conquered the god of mighty name. Thou art
the force of the nations and the mother of the gods,
without whom nothing can be born or come to maturity.
Mighty art thou, Queen of the Gods ! thee, Goddess,
I adore in thy godhead, and on thy name do I call ;
vouchsafe now to fulfil my prayer, and I will give thee
thanks, O Goddess, with the faith that thou hast
deserved. Hear, I beseech thee, and favour my
prayers ; vouchsafe to me, Goddess, that for which
I now pray to thee ; grant freely to all nations upon
earth all herbs that thy majesty bringeth to life, and
suffer me thus to gather this thy medicine. Come to
me with thy heaHng powers ; grant a favourable issue
to whatsoever I shall make from these herbs, and may
those thrive to whom I shall administer the same.

144 A Medieval Garner.

Prosper thou all thy gifts to us, for to thee all things
return. Let men take these herbs rightly at my hand ;
I beseech thee now, O Goddess, may thy gifts make
them whole ; supphant I beseech thee that thy majesty
may vouchsafe me this boon.

The next incantation, fol. 13b., is addressed to the herbs themselves.

Now, all herbs of might, I beseech you and supphcate
your majesty ; ye whom our Mother Earth hath brought
forth and given as a gift to all nations, upon whom she
hath conferred the gift of healing, and majesty in the
sight of all men ; be ye now a help and a profit to me.
This I pray and beseech, with all supplication, be ye here
present with all your virtues, (for she who hath created
you hath given me leave to pluck you now, with his
favour to whom the gift of heaUng hath been vouch-
safed) ; and, so far as your virtues may extend, give ye
healing and a good case and the grace of health. I
beseech you grant me now by your virtue that whatso-
ever I distil from you may work with all power to a
speedy effect and a happy issue. Grant that I may
ever be permitted, by the favour of your majesty, to
pluck you and to gather fruit in striving for you : grant
this, and I will give you thanks in the name of the
majesty which hath brought you to life.

Extracts 62-65 are from the so-called Revelation to a Monk
of Evesham, first printed in English in 1483, and reprinted by Prof.
Arber. The Cambridge History of English Literature (vol. i., p. 318)
has an account of this beautiful book, which is not only very scanty
but very incorrect : the true facts are to be found in Mr. H. L. D.
Ward's article on pp. 421 ff. of the Journal of the ArchcBological Associa-
tion for 1875. The monk was really of Eynsham near Oxford, and
his vision was written in Latin by Adam, subprior of that monastery,
who was then chaplain to St. Hugh of Lincoln. Tliis same Adam
wrote in later years the beautiful Life of St. Hugh, wliich has been
pubhshed in the Kolls series, and to which Froude devoted one
of his Short Studies. A monk named Edmund, who had long been
aihng, fell into a trance on the night before Good Friday, and awoke
from it only with the sound of the Easter bells. He then told to those
who stood by his bedside all that he had seen in Purgatory and
Paradise ; hke Dante, he saw many great men known to him only by

A Saint in Need. i45

name, and many obscure folk wliom he himself had known in Hfe. The
first passage, here describes the death of a goldsmith with whom the
monk had once been intimate. The spelhng of the old English version
has here been modernized, and a few words altered.

62.— a ^aint in Been.

(p. 48).

^Y dear friend, (he said,) all ye together
in the worid hold me as lost and damned,
not knowing the goodness and mercy
here of my present lord saint Nicholas,
the which had not suffered me an unhappy
and an unprofitable servant of his to be damned and
lost everlastingly. . . .

Ye knew well how I disposed me in my living when I
was in the world, as those things that were open to
man's sight. Also I continued in the foul sin of drunk-
enness unto my last end, of an evil custom. Neverthe-
less it was not my will, for greatly it displeased me and
mickle I sorrowed that I could not leave that vice.
Soothly oftentimes I rose against myself, surely pur-
posing to leave and cast away the foul vice of drunken-
ness that I was holden in. But anon, what for the lust
of drinking and the importunity of fellowship that I
drank with, I was constrained to drink after the measure
of mine old custom, whereby I was overcome and drawn
again bound into lust and custom of the same sin, that
was in mine own unmeasurable taking and appetite.
Truly among this, by the mercy of God, the which will
that no man perish, in my most blessed lord St.
Nicholas whom now ye follow graciously and presently,
and whose parishioner also I was, such devotion I had
that for any occasion I never left, but whatso-
ever I might do to his worship I did it full devoutly.
And how mickle ever I gave me towards even to
drunkenness, I used evermore to be at matins, for anon
as they rang I would be there, and oftentimes before
the parish priest. Also I found continually a lamp, of
mine own cost, in St. Nicholas' chapel. And those
things that were necessary to the ornaments of all the
church, as in lights or any other things, I would dili-

146 A Medieval Garner.

gently ordain therefore, as [though] I had been his
familiar servant and manciple. And where I had not
sufficient of mine own goods to do it, I would move
others of the parish to help as it seemed needful.
Soothly the gifts that men or women gave, I took them,
and to honourable uses full truly I spent them. Also
twice in the year, that is at Christmas and at Easter,
I would clean confess me of all my sins as well as I could
to our parish priest, taking penances for them, and in
part I did fulfil them diligently. Truly I did not
observe and keep those things that I was commanded
of my ghostly father, for oftentimes I left some things
that I should have done, and [ivord omitted] those
things that I should have been ware of. And of the
commandment of my ghostly father I fasted the days
of Advent as I did the Lent season ; to the which days
of Advent I added of mine own free will as many days
before Advent as would make up the number of the
days of Lent. And so on Christmas Day I would be
houseled and receive the Holy Sacrament of our Lord's
precious Body and Blood. But, alas, for sorrow ! when
that I should have been, that holy day of our Lord's
birth, more holier and devouter in my living than other
times, I turned me contrary unto other works and
businesses of a worldly custom ; wherefore it happened
unto me also in mine last end that the wicked angel of
the devil Sathanas, the which is causer and kindler of
all evil, scorned me. . . . Soothly on Christmas Day,
after that I had received the good Lord that I cannot
remember without great horror and heaviness, I was
drawn of an evil custom (as I said before) by overmuch
drinking the same day into drunkenness again, to the
great injury and wrong of such a Lord whom I had
received a little before into my soul. And on the
morrow I went to church as I used to do, sore wailing
the foul vice the which I did the day before, purposing
to beware of it and to do no more ; but it was as void
and vain. For by the occasion that I had of drinking,
and the devil's stirring me thereto, I was destitute and
lost the stableness of virtue and the mighty purpose of
soberness that I had conceived ; and so I fulfilled not

A Saint in Need. 147

niy purpose in deed, but foul as I did yesterday so I did
to-day, and by the delectation of over mickle drinking
fell down again to drunkenness. Soothly the next day
after following, the which is the third day after Christ-
mas Day, I left not mine old custom of drinking,
whereby I had lost the virtue of soberness and all my
wits also. When it was dark night, I went out of the
place where I drank, and came home and went to bed
as I was clothed and shod, and a little I slept. And
anon I woke, and would have risen, and said, as I had
weened, that then it had rung to matins. But my wife
told me Nay ! and so I laid me down again. Truly
then first I took a sleep, and anon after I took my
death. And how I felt death suddenly come upon me
I v/ill tell you. A certain devil that tempted and
stirred me to the vice of drunkenness thought to him-
self that an I died in such a peril without any contradic-
tion he would me draw to hell, presuming also to have
then power on me to do whatsoever he would, for mine
obedience and consenting in that vice to him. But
again full miclde he dreaded lest, by the merits of my
patron St. Nicholas, I should any time prevail against
him by amendment of my living if I Hved any longer ;
and so by his presumptuous power cruelly me strangled.
Truly I felt him like an owl go into my mouth, the
which oftentimes full evilly I opened to drink, and so
through my throat slyly came down to my heart. And
anon I knew that it was the devil. Notwithstanding
T was yet mindful of the mercies of God and also of
mine own wretchedness, and Avith stable purpose
vowed in my mind to God that I would purely and
wholly confess me of all my sins, and utterly for ever
forsake the vice of drunkenness. And to this I called
as inwardly as I could on St. Nicholas to be my borrow.
Soothly to this avisement unnethe was granted me the
space of a moment. Truly then the wicked spirit sat
down anon upon my heart and clipped it with his
cursed arms on every side. Also he drew out of his
mouth an horrible vomit of venom and cast it all
abroad, and so in the space of a twinkling of an eye he
expelled and cast me out of my body. And anon after

148 A Medieval Garner.

that, I was had forth through dark places by the cruel
and incredible madness of wicked spirits, the which all
to-beat me, tore me, sticked me, drew me and all to-
brent me, and carried me with them I wot not whither,
but as they would to everlasting torments. Then anon
my most meek and dear advocate St. Nicholas, to whom
I called with all mine heart at my last end, and whom
ever in my hfe I have worshipped though I were a
sinner, came then and mightily took and delivered me
out of their hands, and here hath set me in this place
of purgatory for my purgation. And, howbeit that I
suffer here sore and hard penance, I count it lightly
while I have no dread of the wicked spirits, and also
that their tyranny and importable cruelness is ceased
and gone from me. And soothly after this for certain
I am and trust to have rest and everlasting joy by my
lord St. Nicholas. ... 0, he said, soothly an if I had
known, when that I was in the world living, such things
as I know now, I would have taught and defended all
the world from that great hurt and damage how the
people and folk might be sure and safe from the faUing
of sudden death. Truly and verily, an the christian
people would write daily on their foreheads and about
the place of their heart, with their finger or in any
other wise, these two words that containeth the mystery
of the health and salvation of mankind, that is to wit
and to say Jhesus Nazarenus, without doubt the true
people of our Saviour Jesu Christ should be harmless
and preserved from such a great peril and hurt.

63.— Cf)e T6tokm Ooto.

(p. 74).

MONG them that brake their vows I saw

a young knight brenning in the midst

of fire whom I knew sometime full well.

And as I enquired of him why he was put in

:. so great pain, this he told me. " My life,"

he said, " that I lived was but barren and vain and

also vicious ; for I was insolent and nice in pride and

elation, and foul and unclean by the vice of lechery.

The Broken Vow. i49

Notwithstanding for this I am now specially punished,
because I cast away from me the sign of the holy cross,
the which I had taken upon me in a vow that I made
to go to the Holy Land, howbeit that I took the cross
not for devotion but for vain glory, the which I loved
to have had of the lord that I served. Truly every
night I labour in going as mickle as I may to make an
end of that pilgrimage, but what for feebleness of
strength and contrariness of the weather and also
sharpness of the way, I am let [so] greatly that unnethe
I may go at one time a full little day's journey. Soothly

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