G. G. (George Gordon) Coulton.

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

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it in such words as German children are wont to babble,
" Puppe, pappe ! Puppe, pappe ! "* At length, when
the boy insisted, the image of the almighty Babe is
said to have embraced him and addressed him thus,
" Puppe, weep not ; within three days thou shalt
pappen with Me." His mother heard and trembled,
and related this miracle to the senior canon, who even
then came to the spot ; and he, considering the matter
carefully, replied, " Take heed ! for after the day thus
named thou shalt have thy child no more." The child
was seized at once with a fever and died on the third
day ; wherefore he doth now most undoubtedly feast
among the Innocents of Bethlehem.

* " Little boy, eat ! " : cf. Dante, Purg., xi., 105. In the next line
the sense seems to require the genitive cunctipotentis.




i62 A Medieval Garner.

Mon. Germ. Hist. Scriptt., vol. xvii., p. 232 fE. The editor, Dr.
Jaffe, notes that this description was evidently written towards the end
of the 13th century : it contains several allusions to events which
happened close upon 1290, but none later. The writer was probably a
Dominican Friar.

70.— aisace in 1200 a.d.

BOUT the year of our Lord 1200, there
were few priests in Alsace ; and it sufficed
that one priest sang mass in every two
towns, or (if they were small) one in every
three or four. For many of the priests sang
two masses almost daily, one in one town and one in
another ; they also said the office in a third ; and, if
there were a funeral or an espousal or a concourse of
pilgrims, then they sang a third. Many priests had
but little learning, wherefore they were the less able
to give prudent counsel. Moreover the priests, had
concubines almost as a general law [quasi generaliter]
for the country-folk commonly persuaded them to this,
saying, " The priest cannot contain ; wherefore it is
better that he should have a single wiie than that he
should do worse." Canons and knights were wont to
live with nuns of noble birth. The lord Henry, Bishop
of Bale [A.D. 1215-1238], left at his death twenty
fatherless children in the hands of their different
mothers. Moreover in those days the clergy wore
parti-coloured garments [like the laity]. . . . The town
priests would preach the Lord's Prayer and the creeds
to their flocks on Sundays in the German tongue ; but
feAV knew or could preach of holy Scripture. A single
mass was sung about the hour of tierce, or two in great
towns and cities ; one betimes for wajrfarers, another
about tierce for the ladies. The kiss of peace was
given at every mass ; and the use of great candles at
the canon of the mass was unknown. Few compilers
of books could be found ; but afterwards many com-
posed works in different branches of learning. Master
Wilham was the first who \vrote questions and a
complete book on the Sentences [of Peter Lombard] ;
then Brother Albert [the Great] . . . moreover brother



Alsace in J200. 163

Bonaventura, of the Order of St. Francis, wrote praise-
worthy questions on the Sentences, and also brother
Thomas [Aquinas]. . , . Moreover brother Vincent [of
Beauvais], of the Order of Friars Preachers, wrote a
Mirror of the World in four books, m herein he enclosed
many [marvellous] and profitable things. . . . The
wandering scholar Primas published many masterly
verses* . . .

Moreover the Friars Preachers built certain convents
of women in Germany, which afterwards grew in all
things to profit and honour ; the beginning whereof is
thus related by our fathers : When first the Brethren
came into Germany, they found certain women shut up
as recluses hard by chapels : these they multiplied and
changed into convents. . . . Some of these convents
gave all their lands out to be farmed by husbandmen
at a 3^early rent, which they collected in due time
through their lay-brethren and beguines and man-
servants and maid-servants ; others again tilled their
o^vn land through their own lay-brethren, through
whom also they directed their farms and granges, and
had heavy cares. They directed all these things
tlirough their windows ; for the Friars Preachers had
no authority over them in the direction of their tem-
poral affairs ; through their windows also they spake
with whomsoever they would, seeing and being seen
of those who were without. . . . The Friars Minor,
again, founded convents of ladies of their own Order,
which also made good progress in all things. These
Friars enclosed their nuns so straitly that they could
never, or scarce ever, come abroad. They spake to
men from their cloister, but were never seen ; for they
spake through a window of three or four feet square,
which was closed by a sheet of iron pierced with a few
small holes. Moreover this iron shutter was studded
with many spikes, finger-long, so that none might put
his eye to the holes in the iron : furthermore, a black
cloth covered them from within. Whensoever any

* This witty vagrant wrote the most popular of those medieval
satires which were ascribed in England to Walter Mapes.



164 A Medieval Garner.

lady was received into their convents, she mounted a
high ladder and thus entered the convent by the true
door. They had an abbess, who instructed the rest
in religion. Their food was cooked without the con-
vent, and sent in to the sisters within. Two or more
Friars Minor lived outside for the time, one of whom
directed them in spiritual matters, and the other
in temporal, ministering to their bodily necessities.
They had many lay-brothers and lay-sisters or
beguines, with men-servants and maid-servants, who
tilled their fields and vineyards and rendered them
other services.

There were few monks in Alsace except the Black
Monks and Black Nuns, and the Canons Regular of
St. Augustine. The Hospitallers and Templars and
Anthonines had houses or granges \vith chapels, which
were ruled only by servants or few brethren of the
Order. The Hospitallers of Bale had two chapels
which were served by one Gallus, a priest, whose neces-
sities were ministered unto by a brother of St. Anthony's
spital. The Cistercians, the Black Monks, and the
Canons Regular wore the dress of their Orders, kept
their constitutions, and abounded in riches. The
Black Monks and Nuns who were not of the proper
Rule of St. Benedict, but subject to the immediate
authority of the Pope,* kept the church service of St.
Benedict well according to the proper rite ; but very
many scorned to keep the dress and constitutions and
manners of Religious. There were hermitages hard by
chapels, wherein were single women, or two or three
enclosed together ; of whom some were subject to the
Black Monks, some to the White, some to the Cister-
cians, and others to other ReHgious, whose constitu-
tions and customs they kept. The Friars Minor and
Preachers and the Teutonic Knights were not as yet,
but sprang up some eleven years later ;t after whom
sprang up many other religious Orders also, all of

* e.g.y tlie Cluniacs, who were exempt from ordinary jurisdiction.

f The first Franciscan settlement in Alsace was in 1222 ; the Domini-
cans arrived about the same time.



Alsace in 1200. 165

which Pope Gregory [X] is well known to have sup-
pressed [in 1274].

In those days the University of Paris flourished and
was renowned. The cities of Bale and Strassburg were
but meanly walled and ill-provided with [public]
buildings, but their private houses were yet more mean.
Even strong and good houses had few windows, and
those of small size ; and they lacked hght. Colmar,
Schlettstadt, Ruffach, Miihlhausen, and other small
cities were not in those days. The nobles had in their
towns towers of small size, which they could scarce
defend against their fellow-nobles. . . . The knights
spent their days in hunting, fishing, tournaments,
jousts, and debauchery.* . . , The Knights wore body-
armour of great and close-set and heavy rings. Abbots
and clergy took goods on pawn from the poor, and
thought that they did no sin. There were few mer-
chants, almost all of whom were reputed rich : master-
workers in mechanical trades were few also, and were
counted among the rich. Surgeons were few, physi-
cians yet fewer, Jews few also. Heretics swarmed in
very many parts ; but these were stamped out by the
Friars Preachers, with much help from the lay lords.
. . . There were few waggons, and the Alsatians used
carts made without iron. Iron-shod or iron-bound
carts came later into Alsace from Suabia. Men had
but one kind of fowls, and those small ; the great
tailless fowls with crests and beards and yellow toes
were brought in by travellers from distant lands.
There was but one sort of doves or pigeons ; the Greek
pigeons with feathered feet, and many other kinds, were
brought later into Alsace. Pheasants were brought by
a certain clerk from beyond the seas. . . .

The altars were small ; they were three feet high
and three in breadth and three in length, as in the
ancient church of the apostolic times. The altar-
slab jutted forth four finger-breadths beyond the body
of the altar. . . . The fashion of building houses with

■•'' The chronicler here gives a gruesome description of the morals
prevalent in high and low society.



1 66 A Medieval Garner.

plaster was not yet come into Alsace ; for the earth
called gypsum, from which plaster is made, was first
found by the Alsatians long afterwards, in the year
1290, at Diirckheim. And the earth called marly
wherewith the country-folk fatten their fields, was
found after the year of our Lord 1200. Men had then
no studs to their sword-sheaths, nor had the monks
buckles to their belts. The monks' belts had two long
sHts at one end, and at the other end they were divided
into two long tails [which passed through these two
holes]. The collegiate church at Marbach was 60 feet
broad within, from wall to wall, and twice as long. The
chasubles and copes for choir use were seven feet long
and circular in shape. The canons' dalmatics were
ten feet broad, with sleeves of the breadth of eighteen
inches, and they were five feet high. The folds of the
canons' corporals were three-quarters of a foot long
and [blank in MS.] broad. The tower of their church
had seven bells.*

* Compare all this with Cacciaguida's description of the simplicity
of Florentine life in the early thirteenth century {Paradiso, xv., 97 £E.).



The following extract forms the Prologue to the tliird Book of that
most interesting practical treatise on painting, enamelUng, goldsmith's
work, modelling, etc., which bears the name of Theophilus. The
author's country and date are aUke uncertain. He tells us liimself
that he was a monk ; he was probably either French or German, and
lived somewhere between 1150 and 1250. He certainly knew how to
paint in oil, for he describes the process in some detail. The best
edition is that pubUshed in 1843, with a French translation, by Count
C. de I'Escalopier.

71 — (SOD'S artist




AVID, that most excellent of prophets, whom
the Lord God foreknew and predestined
before the beginning of the ages, whom, for
his simplicity and humihty of mind. He
chose as the man after His own heart, and set
as prince over the people whom He loved, and strength-
ened with His Holy Spirit to dispose nobly and pru-
dently so renowned a kingdom — this David, (I say),



God's Artist. 167

collecting himself with all the attention of his mind to
the love of his Creator, uttered this saying among
others : " Lord I have loved the beauty of Thine
house." And — albeit a man of so great authority and
of so deep an understanding called this house the
habitation of the court of heaven, wherein God pre-
sideth over the hymning choirs of angels in glory that
cannot be told, and for which David yearned with all
his bowels sa3dng, " One thing have I asked of the Lord,
this \vill I seek after ; that I may dwell in the house of
the Lord all the days of my life " ; or again [he
describeth it as] the receptacle of a devout breast and
most pure heart, wherein God doth indeed dwell ;
with the desire of which gracious guest he himself
burned when he prayed, " Renew a right spirit within
my bowels, Lord " — yet it is certain that he desired
the adornment of the material house of God, which is
the house of prayer. For he left to Solomon his son
almost all the stores of gold, silver, brass and iron for
that house, which he himself desired most earnestly to
build, yet because he had shed men's blood (that of his
enemies, indeed, yet in great abundance), therefore he
deserved it not. For he had read in Exodus how the
Lord gave Moses a command for the construction of
the Tabernacle, and had chosen Masters of the Works
[operwn magistros] by name, and had filled them with
the spirit of God in wisdom and in understanding and
in knowledge and in all manner of workmanship in gold
and silver and brass, precious stones and wood and all
kinds of arts ; also he had known by pious consideration
that God delighteth in such adornments, which he
purposed to have constructed by the teaching and
authority of the Holy Ghost, believing that without
His inspiration no man might bring any such thing to
pass. Wherefore, most beloved son,* make thou no
long delay, but believe in full faith that the Spirit of
God hath filled thine heart when thou hast adorned
His house with so great beauty and such manifold
comeliness ; and, lest perchance thou distrust me, \

* The pupil, real or imaginary, to whom this treatise is addressed.



1 68 A Medieval Garner,

will unfold by evident reasons that, whatsoever thou
canst learn, understand, or excogitate in the arts, this
is given unto thee by the grace of the Sevenfold Spirit.
By the spirit of Wisdom thou knowest that all things
created proceed from God, without Whom nothing is.
By the Spirit of Understandmg thou hast received the
talent of invention, to know in what order or variety or
measure thou mayest ply thy divers works. By the
Spirit of Counsel thou hidest not the talent which God
hath granted thee ; but, working and teaching pubhcly
yet humbly, thou dost faithfully show these things to
such as desire to know them. By the spirit of Fortitude
thou shakest off all torpor of sloth, and, whatsoever
thou shalt have steadfastly attempted and begun, the
same thou bringest with all thy might to good effect.
By the Spirit of Knowledge given to thee, thou dost
lord it through the abundant invention of thine heart ;
and, by so much more perfectly thou aboundest, by so
much the more fully is thy mind emboldened in public.
By the Spirit of Piety thou knowest what, to whom,
when, how much and in what manner thou shouldst
work ; and, lest the vice of covetousness or greed creep
upon thee, thou dost moderate the price of thy reward
by pious consideration. By the Spirit of the Fear of
the Lord thou considerest how thou canst do nothing
by thyself ; and how thou hast nothing, wiliest nothing,
that God hath not given thee ; wherefore beheving,
confessing, and giving thanks, thou imputest to God's
mercy all that thou knowest, or art, or mayest be.
Cheered by these supporting virtues, my beloved son,
thou hast approached God's house in all faith, and
adorned it with such abundant comeliness ; and,
having illuminated the vaults or the walls with divers
works and divers colours, thou hast in a manner shown
forth to the beholders a vision of God's paradise, bright
as springtide with flowers of every hue, fresh with green
grass and leaves, and refreshing the souls of the saints
mth crowns proportioned to their divers merits ;*

* These were the aureoles : see From St. Francis to Dante, 2nd ed.,
pp. 169, 382.



God's Artist. 169

whereby thou makest them to praise God in His
creatures and to preach His wonders in His works.
For man's eye knoweth not whereon first to gaze ; if
he look up at the vaults, they are as mantles embroidered
with spring flowers ;* if he regard the walls, there is a
manner of paradise ; if he consider the light streaming
tlu-ough the windows, he marvelleth at the priceless
beauty of the glass and at the variety of this most
precious work. If the faithful soul chance to behold
the efligy of our Lord's passion expressed in all its
lineaments, then he is pricked to the heart ; if again
he see how great tortures the Saints endured in their
mortal bodies, and how precious a prize of eternal life
they won, then doth he receive encouragement to a
better life ; or, beholding how great is the joy in heaven,
how awful the torments amid the flames of hell, then is
he cheered with hope for his good deeds, and smitten
v/ith fear at the thought of his sins. Work therefore
now, good man, happy in this life before God's face and
man's, and happier still in the life to come, by whose
labour and zeal so many burnt-offerings are devoted to
God ! Kindle thyself to a still ampler art, and set
thyself with all the might of thy soul to complete that
v/hich is yet lacking in the gear of the Lord's house,
without which the divine mysteries and the ministries
of God's service may not stand ; such as chalices,
candelabra, thuribles, chrism-vases, crewets, shrines
for holy relics, crosses, missals and such like, which the
necessary use of the ecclesiastical order requireth.
Which if thou wouldst fashion, begin after the manner
thus following.

[Then follow the several chapters of this 3rd Book ;
the titles of the few first may tempt the reader to
pursue this study for himself, (i) Of the construction
of the Workshop, (ii) Of the Workers' Bench, (iii)
Of the Furnace, (iv) Of the Bellows, (v) Of the
Anvils, (vi) Of the Hammers, (vii) Of the Pincers.

* Vernant quasi 'pallia ; cf. tlie Squire in Chaucer's Prologue : " Em-
brouded was he, as it were a meede Al ful of fresshe floures whyte and
reede."



lyo A Medieval Garner.

(viii) Of the Irons for drawing wire, (ix) Of the
Instrument called Organarium. (x) Of Files hollowed
out beneath ; etc., etc.]



Lambert, Parish Priest of Ardres, describes in bis chronicle how,
about 1200 A.D., Arnold II., Count of Guisnes and Ardres, fortified the
latter town for fear of his enemy the Count of Boulogne. The accom-
panying illustration shows clearly the state of these earth-works in the
early 17th century.

72.— jFottifping: a Coton.




T the advice of his father, and of the peers
and burgesses of the Town, (for it was in the
very navel and midst of the land of Guis-
I nes, and was already waxing richer than
the other towns and cities of the said
territory, wherefore it was more obnoxious to his
furious adversaries, and he himself was the more
carefully bent on its defence) the Count shut it in, and
surrounded it himself with a most mighty moat after
the fashion of the moat at St. Omer, such as no hand
had conceived hitherto in the land of Guisnes, nor no
eye had seen. Wherefore no small multitude of work-
men came together to make and dig this moat afore-
said ; who, howsoever vexed by the hardships of the
season and pinched by the great famine and afflicted
by the labour and heat of the day, yet chattered
together and lightened their labour oftentimes with
merry words, whereby their hunger was appeased.
Moreover, many oftentimes came together to see these
great earthAvorks ; for such poor folk as were not hired
labourers forgot their penury in the joy of beholding
this work ; while the rich, both knights and burgesses
and oftentimes priests or monks, came not daily only,
but agam and again every day, to refresh their bodies
and see so marvellous a sight. For who but a man
stupefied and deadened by age or cares, could have
failed to rejoice in the sight of that Master Simon the
Dyker, so learned in geometrical work, pacmg with rod
in hand, and with all a master's dignity, and setting




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172 A Medieval Garner.

out hither and thither, not so much with that actual
rod as with the spiritual rod of his mind, the work
which in imagination he had already conceived ? —
tearing down houses and granges, hewing to the ground
orchards and trees covered with flowers or fruit, seeing
to it with the utmost zeal and care that the streets
should be cleared, on workdays even more than on
holidays, for all convenience of trafflc, digging up
kitchen-gardens with their crops of potherbs or of flax,
treading down and destroying the crops to make
straight the ways, even though some groaned in the
indignation of their heart, and cursed him under their
breath ? Here the peasant folk with their marl-
waggons and dung-carts, dragging loads of pebbles to
be laid upon the road, cheered each other to the work
with strokes and hearty blows on the shoulders.
There, again, laboured the ditchers with their shovels,
the hoe-men with their hoes, the pickers with their
pick-axes, the beaters with their wooden mallets, the
shavers with their shaving-irons, and the stone-layers
and wallers and rammers and paviours with their proper
and necessary gear and tools, the load-men and hod-
men with their hods, and the turfers with their ob-
long sheets of turf, cut and torn at the master's bidding
from all the meadows around ; the catchpoles too, with
their rods and knotted clubs, rousing the labourers and
busily urging them to their work ; and ever in the
forefront the masters of the work, weighing all that
was done in the scales of their geometrical plan ;
moreover, all these labourers were driven and con-
strained to this work through a continual time of
traA^ail and grief, of fear and pain.



Walther v. der Vogelweide was born of a knightly stock, perhaps in
Tyrol. He tells us himself that he learnt his art in Austria. He hved
some time at the Court of Vienna, but fell out of favour at the death of
Ms patron in 1198. For the next 20 years or more he took to the
profession of a wandering minstrel — perhaps he was the first nobleman
who ever did so. In 1203 we find him at the court of the Bishop of
Passau, where he receives clothes in the capacity of " singer," just as
Chaucer did from other patrons in that of page. At another time




Walthcr v. der Vogelweide. ^7^

he was at the Wartburg, where he knew Wolfram von Eschenbach and
perhaps St. EUzabeth. He was attached to the Emperors Philip of
Swabia, Otto of Brunswick, and Frederick II., from the last of whom
he received after many years a fief of his own (1220), and was no longer
obhged to live from hand to mouth. The third of the pieces here
translated alludes to the Emperor's excommunication in 1227, as he was
on the point of starting for his crusade : Walther probably started
next year in the emperor's train, and died soon after his return in 1229.
He is certainly one of the greatest lyric poets of the Middle Ages ; and
his poems are so cheaply procurable, either in the original or in modern
German versions, that I subjoin these brief specimens in the hope of
tempting more readers to independent study.

73.— jFloiMcrs anD jFair Latiieg.

{So die bluomen uz dem grase dringent, L. 45, 37.)

|N a May morning at daybreak, when the
blossoms crowd forth from the grass like
laughing faces in the merry sunshine, and
Uttle fowls sing the sweetest lays that their
hearts can find, what joy may then be com-
pared to tliis ? It is well half a kingdom of heaven !
au„n T ^^^i — ^ — x^^A- +i,:^ :„ i,-k„ q rri,„„ y ^«^, — i,^^ hath

, and

clad,

Dng a

ERRATA. train,

J sun

P.ge 172, hue 25. for "ctchpole,." rea, ..catchpolls." May

Page 173, line 22, for "more still," read "still more." ^ ^"

ze at
y ?

! now

with

re on

)ther.

If, to my woe, any man should bid me choose ; if
indeed I must leave the one to cleave unto the other,
how straight and sheer should be my choice ! Lady
May, thou mightest be March for me, ere I would leave
my lady there !



172 A Medieval Garner.

out hither and thither, not so much with that actual
rod as with the spiritual rod of his mind, the work
which in imagination he had already conceived ? —
tearing down houses and granges, hewing to the ground
orchards and trees covered with flowers or fruit, seeing
to it with the utmost zeal and care that the streets
should be cleared, on workdays even more than on
hohdays, for all convenience of traffic, digging up
kitchen-gardens with their crops of potherbs or of flax,
treading down and destroying the crops to make
straight the ways, even though some groaned in the
indignation of their heart, and cursed him under their
breath ? Here the peasant folk with their marl-
waggons and dung-carts, dragging loads of pebbles to
be laid upon the road, cheered each other to the work
with strokes and hearty blows on the shoulders.



Online LibraryG. G. (George Gordon) CoultonA medieval garner; human documents from the four centuries preceding the reformation → online text (page 15 of 61)