G. G. (George Gordon) Coulton.

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Travellers^ Tales. 185

82.— Cratjellers' Cales,

(p. 97, A.D. 1275).

fiN these days there tarried at Hartlepool in
England, William, bishop of the Orkneys, an
honourable man and a lover of letters, who
related many marvels of the islands subject to
Norway, whereof I record some here that they
may be remembered. He told how, in one part of
Iceland, the sea burneth for a whole mile round, leaving
foul and black ashes behind. Elsewhere fire bursteth
from the earth at certain times, after five or seven
years' space, suddenly consuming villages and all on
its path, nor can it be quenched or put to flight save by
holy water consecrated by the hand of a priest. More
marvellous still, he told us how men may plainly hear
in that fire the lamentations of souls there tortured.*

* This was of course the common medieval belief : cf. the vision in
Thomas of Eccleston (R. S. p. 67) of Frederick II. borne ofi by devils to

(p. 131, A.D. 1289),

The aforesaid Bishop [Hugh Biblinensis] told us
again how, from that place on Mount Olivet where
our Lord answered to the scoffs of the Jews, " If these
should hold their peace, the stones would immediately
cry out," even unto that gate of Jerusalem where-
through He rode on the ass to His passion, thou canst
not pick up a pebble and break it, but thou wilt find
in the midst thereof the form as of an human tongue,
as if in fulfilment of the Creator's will.



1 86 A Medieval Garner.

83 —a jeoble ipiutali0t

(p. 158, A.D. 1294).

iHERE died in London Bogo de Clare, illus-
trious in name but not in life ; whose end,
as men report, was not very honourable
[clarus] yet accordant to his deserts ; for
he had held innumerable churches, and had ill
governed such as Christ had bought with His trading.*
For he was a mere courtier, who cared not for Holy
Orders but quenched the cure of souls and squandered
the revenues of his churches ; nor did he esteem
Christ's spouse highly enough to provide the church
out of her own revenues with necessary vestments
untorn and undefiled ; as might be proved by many
profane instances, whereof I will tell one by way of
example. In the honourable church of Simonburn,
whereof he was rector, on the holy day of Easter, I saw,
instead of a reredos over the high altar, a wattle of
twigs daubed with fresh cow-dung ; yet that living
was valued at seven hundred marks yearly. More-
over he was so wanton and wasteful that he gave the
old queen of France for a gift a lady's chariot of un-
heard-of workmanship ; to wit, all of ivory, both body
and wheels, and all that should have been of iron was
of silver even to the smallest nail, and its awning was
of silk and gold even to the least cord whereby it was
drawn ; the price whereof, as men say, was three
pounds sterling ; but the scandal was of a thousand
thousand, t

* Or possibly, " had bought for liim to deal with " : the text seems
corrupt here. There are elsewhere a good many words evidently mis-
read by the editor : e.g., the curalis exercens of the next line should
obviously be curialis existens. Similarly in the Maitland Club Illustra-
tions of Scottish History, (Battle of Neville's Cross, fol. 242a), the same
editor prints inniscata and confesses himself puzzled : the word is
plainly inuiscata, which makes just the sense required.

f We must multiply these moneys, of course, by 15 or 20 to get
modern values. In the last line the word thousand has evidently
dropped out between three and founds, unless we are to suppose that

The Demon Monk. 187

84.— Cbe Demon s^onk.

(p. lf)3, A.D. 1295).

ilHERE befel a detestable and marvellous
thing in the western parts of Scotland, in
Clydesdale, some four miles from Paisley,
in the house of one Sir Duncan of the Isles,
which should strike terror into sinners and
demonstrate the appearance of the damned on the day
of the final resurrection. A man who lived wickedly
under the habit of holy Religion, and who came to a
most evil end under the curse of excommunication for
certain sacrileges committed in his own monastery —
this man's corpse, I say, long after his burial in the said
monastery, haunted many men with illusions that
could be seen and heard amid the shades of night.

this was only the price of a single cord. Bogo de Clare, though his
clerical income would have compared poorly with that of WiUiam of
Wykeham or Cardinal Wolsey, seems to have been the most notorious
pluralist of the 13th century ; the author of the Worcester Chronicle
speaks of him with bated breath {Annales Monastici, R.S., iv., 517).
It is some satisfaction to know that he and another of the same feather
did not collect their rents without friction ; the tenants of Rotherfield
rebelled against Bogo's baiUff in 1283 and destroyed his tallies, while
in 1299 there was a more formal insurrection " with banners displayed "
against an alien rector of Pagham ( Victoria Hist, of Sussex, vol. ii., p. 12).
Another significant entry is among the pleas before the royal justices at
Oxford in 1285 {Oxford Hist. Soc, vol. xviii., p. 211). " The jurors
present that Richard Everard and Walter de Chawsey, BailiSs of Bogo
de Clare, have lately raised a gallows within his domain of Holywell,
some ten years past, they know not by what warrant. And a certain
Thomas de Bensington was caught with a certain mare, and taken to
the said Bogo's Court, by sentence whereof he was hanged at those
gallows ; and Alice le Welsh was hanged there also. Wherefore the
sherifi was bidden to send for the said Bogo and bailiffs. And the said
Bogo came and said that he held his church [of Holywell] by gift of the
lord Henry, father of the present king, which church he found seised of
the aforesaid liberties ; and that all his predecessors, parsons of the
aforesaid church, were seised of the same from time immemorial."
The jury admitted his right, which was indeed unquestionable : but the
entry is significant as showing how the growing ideas of the age were to
some extent shocked by this anomaly of a rector who, as lord of the
manor, had the right to hang men and women. ;

1 88 A Medieval Garner.

After which this son of darkness transferred himself to
the aforesaid knight's dwelling, that he might try the
faith of the simple and by his adverse deeds deter them
[from evil] in plain daylight, or perchance that, by
God's secret judgment, he might thus show who had
been implicated in this crime of his. Wherefore,
taking to himself a body (whether natural or aerial we
know not, but in any case black, gross, and palpable),
he was wont to come in noonday light under the garb
of a black monk of St. Benedict, and sit upon the gable
of the barn or corn-grange ; and whensoever a man
would shoot him with arrows or pierce him with a pitch-
fork, then whatsoever material substance was fixed
into that damned spectre was burned forthwith, more
swiftly than I can tell the tale, to ashes. Those also
who would have wrestled with him he threw and shook
so horribly as though he would break all their limbs.
The lord's firstborn, a squire grown to man's estate,
was foremost in this attack upon the phantom. One
evening, therefore, as the master of the house sat with
his household round the hall fire, that sinister shape
came among them and troubled them with blows and
tlirowing of missiles ; then the rest scattered in flight,
and that squire alone fought single-handed with the
ghost ; but, sad to tell, he was found on the morrow
slain by his adversary. If however it be true that the
Devil receiveth power over none but such as have lived
like swine, then it may easily be divined wherefore
that young man met with so terrible a fate.

85.— HDtJertoorkel} ^t JFrancis.

(p. 183, A.D. 1296).

■OR few can be found in this age of ours who
deserve to taste of the sweetness of divine
revelation ; not that God is niggardly, but
that our spiritual palate is infected : howbeit
a certain holy virgin, long consecrated to the
life of a recluse, had in this year a revelation which I
must not pass over in silence. . . . [She was caught

The Siege of Carlisle. 189

up to Heaven on the Feast of St. Francis] . . . and
when she enquired the names [of the saints whom she
saw there], and asked wherefore St. Francis was no-
Avhere to be seen, then St. John Baptist made answer,
" He, on this his own holy-day, must needs intercede
before God for many that call upon him as a new-made
saint ; wherefore he could not come on this occasion."

86.— Ctje ^mt of Catli0le»

(p. 230, AD. 1315).

OON afterwards in that same year, on the
feast of St. Mary Magdalene (July 22), the
king of Scotland assembled all his forces and
came to Carlisle, where he compassed the city
round about and besieged it for ten days,
treading all the crops under foot, ravaging the suburbs
with the surrounding country, and burning throughout
all those parts ; moreover he drove a vast spoil of
cattle to feed his army, from Allerdale and Coupland
and Westmoreland. So on each day of the siege they
made an assault against one of the three city gates,
and sometimes at all three together, yet never with
impunity. For we cast upon them from the wall
javelins and arrows and stones, both then and at other
times, in such multitude and number that they enquired
one of the other, " Do stones increase and multiply,
then, within these walls ? " Moreover on the fifth day
of the siege they set up an engine for casting stones
hard by Trinity Church, where their king had pitched
his tent ; and they threw great stones without inter-
mission against the wall and the Calden gate ; yet
with all this they did little or no harm to the townsfolk,
save only that they slew one man. For we had seven
or eight such engines in the city, without reckoning
other engines of war, namely, the so-called springalds,
for hurling long javelins, and slings on staves for
casting stones, which wrought much terror and havoc
among the besiegers. So in the meanwhile the Scots
set up a great Belfry, like a tower, which far overtopped

190 A Medieval Garner.

the town walls ; whereupon the city carpenters, upon
one tower against which this belfry must have been set
if it had been brought up to the wall, built another
tower of wood that overtopped that belfry. But the
Scottish engine never came against the wall ; for when
men dragged it on its wheels over the wet and miry
ground, there it stuck fast with its own weight, nor
could they draw it forward or harm us. Moreover the
Scots had made long ladders, which they had brought
with them for scaling the wall in divers places, and a
sow for undermining the town wall if possible ; but
neither ladders nor sow availed them. Again, they
made a multitude of fascines of corn and hay to fill the
water-moat without the wall towards the east, that
they might thus cross it dry-shod ; and long wooden
bridges that ran on wheels, which they hoped to draw
so strongly and swiftly with ropes as to pass that
broad moat. Yet, for all the time of this siege, neither
could the fascines fill the ditch nor those bridges pass
it ; but their weight dragged them to the bottom. So
on the ninth day, when all their engines were ready,
they made a general assault on all the city gates and
around the whole wall ; manfully they came on, and our
townsfolk also defended themselves like men ; and
likewise again on the morrow. Now the Scots here
used that same wile whereby they had taken the castle
of Edinburgh ; for they caused the greater part of
their host to make an assault upon the eastern part of
the city, against the Franciscan Friary, that they
might draw the defenders thither. Meanwhile the
lord James Douglas, a bold and crafty knight, with
others of the doughtiest and most active of that army,
arrayed themselves on the West against the convents
of the Canons and of the Friars Preachers, where the
defences were so high and difficult of access that no
assault was expected. There they reared long ladders
whereby they climbed up ; and they had a great host
of archers who shot thick and close, that no man might
show his head over the wall. Yet, blessed be God !
they found such a welcome there that they and their
ladders were flung to the^earth ; at which place and


From Viollet-le-Duc's i:>ict. ilc I'Architcctuie, i, 365.

19^ A Medieval Garner.

elsewhere around the wall some were slain and some
taken and some wounded ; yet on the English side,
during that whole siege, save only that man of whom
we have already spoken, there was but one man smitten
with an arrow, and but few were even wounded. So
on the eleventh day, to wit on the feast of St. Peter
ad vincula, either because they had tidings of an English
host coming to raise the siege, or because they despaired
of further success, the Scots retired in confusion at
daybreak to their own land, leaving behind all their
engines of war aforesaid.

Jacques de Vitry studied at Paris, was ordained priest in 1210, and
devoted himself to preaching by the advice of the Blessed Mary of
Oignies, whose life he also wrote. After her death in 1213 he preached
the crusade first against the Albigensians and then against the Saracens.
In 1214 he was elected Bishop of Acre ; here he worked many years
with his accustomed zeal, until at last, disheartened by the vices and
failures of the crusaders, he resigned in or about 1227. Next year he
was made a cardinal, and in 1239 elected Patriarch of Jerusalem ; but
the Pope was unwilhng to spare him. He probably died in 1240. A
passage from one of his letters, recording his enthusiasm for the new-
born Franciscan Order, may be found in Sabatier's St. Franr^ois d' Assise,
c. xiii., p. 261. His Historia Occidentalis and Historia Orientalis describe
the age in language even more unfavourable than that of Roger Bacon
and others quoted in this book ; but the main human interest of his
works is contained in the Exempla, or stories for the use of preachers,
published by Professor Crane for the Folk-Lore Society in 1890. A
good many of these had already appeared anonymously among T.
Wright's Latin Stories. Professor Crane's edition, though of very great
value, contains a good many misreadings which I have been able to
amend by collations procured from the Paris MS. References are to
folios of the MS. Lat. 17,509 of the Bibliotheque Nationale, and to pages
in Crane's edition.

The Boy-Archdeacon.


87.— Cfte TBop=3rcl)t)eacon.

(fol. 4, p. 1).

OW wretched and mad are those men who
commit the cure of many thousand souls to
their little nephews whom they would not
trust with three pears, lest they should eat
them !* I have heard how one of these boys,
after receiving an archdeaconry from a bishop his
uncle, was set solemnly in his stall during the ceremony
of installation, and was found not yet to have out-
grown the needful ministrations of his nurse.

* For this story see Extract No. 152.

88.— Cfte (ZBracting TBisJop.

(fol. 10, p. 2).

HAVE heard of a certain priest who could
not satisfy the bishop's cook, who demanded
innumerable dishes to be prepared for his
master's use ; until at last he cried in weari-
ness and grief, " I have no more now to give
but ribs of the Crucifix ! " which indeed he caused to be
roasted and placed before the bishop on the table.*

* It was very frequently complained that the expense of entertaining
Bishops or Archdeacons on their visitations pressed unduly upon monks
and clergy. A theological dictionary of the early 14th century (see
No. 265) has on fol. 135a, " But thou wilt say : ' What can the
wretched rector do ? For the Kural Dean visiteth him with two horses
. . . and the Archdeacon with five or seven . . . and the Bishop with
twenty or thirty . . . and the Archbishop with forty or fifty.' " The
author then does his best to reconcile the rectors to this burden by
reasoned argument.


A Medieval Garner.

89.-9 2Joluntatp Jl^etjucftatine^far.

(fol. 50, p, 21),

HAVE heard of one man who, wishing to do
penance, even as he had likened himself to
the beasts in sin, so he would make himself
like to a beast in his food ; wherefore he rose
up at dawn and browsed on grass without
touching it with his hands ; and thus he would often-
times eat daily. When therefore he had long lived
thus, he began to ponder within himself, wondering
of what Order of Angels he should be, seeing that he
had done so great a penance ; until at length it was
answered to him through an angel : " By such a life
thou hast not deserved to be of the Order of Angels,
but rather of the Order of Asses." For, as saith
St. Bernard : " He who hath not lived as a man shall
live as a beast ; " so this man fell from discretion
into presumption.




90.— Ci)e iRotJtiet'0 Comjergion.

(fol. 61, p. 29).

E have heard of a certain holy abbot, a most
religious man, that when a certain impious
brigand, a desperate man and leader of a band
of robbers, laid waste the country wherein he
dwelt, spoiling and killing many, then this
abbot mounted his horse and went to the place where
the robber and his band dwelt. They therefore, seeing
him from afar, ran together to take his horse and strip
him. " What wilt thou ? " asked this abbot of the
chief of the robbers ; and he : "I would have this
horse and all thy garments." Then said the abbot :
" I have long ridden this horse, and worn these gar-
ments, it is not right that I alone should enjoy these
goods, wherefore I will give them to thee and thy
fellows if thou art in need." Then said the robber :
" To-day we will sell the horse and garments, to buy
bread, wine, and flesh withal." Then said the abbot :

The Robber^s Conversion. 195

*' Son, why dost thou travail so sore for thy livehhood
and walk in peril of thy life ? Come with me to the
monastery, and I will entertain thee better than this
for as long as thou wilt, and will minister to all thy
needs." '' Nay," said he, " for I could not eat your
beans and potherbs, or drink your sour wine and beer."
Then said the abbot : "I will give thee white bread
and most excellent wine, with fish and flesh to thine
heart's desire." With much ado, therefore, he yielded,
that he might prove awhile what the abbot would do
with him. The abbot, when they were come to the
cloister, brought him into a most fair chamber and let
make a great fire, and a fair soft bed with costly cover-
lets, and set apart a monk to provide him with all that
his soul desired. Moreover he bade that this monk,
after serving him daily in all luxury of victuals, should
himself eat bread and water in this robber's presence.
When therefore the robber had marked for many days
how sparing a diet the monk kept, then he thought
within himself that the monk must have done much
evil to do so sore a penance, and enquired of him one
day : " Brother, what hast thou done that thou so
aifiictest thyself daily : hast thou slain men ? " " Nay,
my lord ..." said he, " God forbid, that I should ever
have vexed any man, much less have slain him ; for I
entered into this monastery from my very childhood."
" Hast thou then done fornication, or adultery, or
sacrilege ? " Then the monk crossed himself in amaze-
ment, saying : " Lord, what is this word that thou
hast spoken ? God shield me from all such iniquity :
I have never even touched a woman." " What then
hast thou done," quoth he, " that thou dost thus afflict
thy body ? " "My lord, it is for God's sake that I do
thus ; that by fasting and prayers and other works of
penitence I may earn His favour." The robber, hearing
this, was pricked to the heart, and began to think
within himself : " Why, what an unhappy wretch am I,
that have ever done so many evil deeds — thefts and
manslaughters, adulteries and sacrilege — yet have never
fasted one single day, whereas this innocent monk doth
daily so great a penance," Then, calling for the abbot,

196 A Medieval Garner

he fell at his feet, begging him to receive him among
the community of the brethren : after which he long
dwelt among them in such affliction of the body as to
excel all the rest in abstinence and religious practices.
Wherefore the abbot, by the example of the monk who
ministered to this robber, not only gained his soul for
God, but delivered many from death, whom that robber
would have despoiled and slain.

91.— 5i3atural ©istorp.

(fol. 63, p. 128).

jOME, though they are fervent at the begin-
ning of their conversion, grow lukewarm in
the middle and utterly cold at the end, like
unto the bird which the French call truer. *■
This bird is at first of great honour, taking
larks and partridges like a noble fowl ; in his second
year he taketh sparrows and small birds ; in his third
year beetles, mice, flies and worms ; and thus he
declineth ever to the worse, until at length he becometh
so slothful as to suffer himself to die of hunger.
* Coq de bruyere, capercailzie.

(fol. 77, p. 129).

Some [Christians] are like unto the boy whom the
French call chamium [changeling], who draineth his
nurses dry of milk and yet profiteth not nor cometh to
any increase, but hath a hard and inflated belly ; yet
all the while his body thriveth not.

(fol. 151, p. 122).

The mother of the roe-deer fawn, when she goeth
forth to seek her food, smiteth him with her foot and
maketh a sign that he should not wander forth nor
leave that place. The fawn is so obedient that, even
when men find him, he stirreth not from that place but
suffereth himself to be taken, becoming obedient unto
death. How much more should we obey God our
Father, and our Mother Church, and devote the flower
of our youth to the Lord.

The Simple Knight.


92.— Cbe Simple i^nigbt,

(fol. 105, p (52).

HAVE heard how a certain knight, who
never heard the truth in preaching nor had
been well instructed in the faith, and who,
being asked why he went not gladly to hear
mass, (which is of such dignity and virtue that
Christ and His angels ever attend upon it,) answered
in simple words : " This I knew not ; nay, I thought
that the priests performed their mass for the offerings'
sake." But, after hearing the truth, from hencefor-
ward he began gladly and devoutly to hear mass.

93.— a l&nottp Ciuestion.

(fol. 113, p. 68).

HAVE heard how a certain woman, in her
extreme simplicity, would not receive the
sacraments from unworthy priests, and that
she did this not from settled malice but from
ignorance.* God, wishing to recall her from
her error, sent in her dreams a vehement and almost
intolerable thirst ; and it seemed to her that she was
over a well whence a certain leper drew water as clear
as crystal, with a most comely vessel and a golden cord.
Seeing therefore that many went up and drank, she also
came forward ; but the leper withdrew his hand saying :
" Thou who dost disdain to take the sacraments from
evil priests, how wilt thou accept water from a leper's

* This was still a vexed question in the 13th century. In 1074,
Pope Hildebrand attempted to stop clerical concubinage by forbidding
the laity to attend the ministrations of unworthy priests. The effect
of this was so disastrous that the doctrine was finally abandoned. St.
Thomas Aquinas, while admitting it in theory, fears its dangers in
practice [Summa, pars, iii., qusest. 83, art. 9). The fact was that it
lent too strong a handle against the Church, and encouraged heretics
who maintained that the virtue of the Sacrament was annulled by the
unworthiness of the minister. The duty of abstention from the minis-
trations of sinful priests became a Wycliffite doctrine : see H. C. Lea,
Sacerdotal Celibacy, 3rd edn., vol. i., p. 473.


A Medieval Garner.

hand ? " Most abominable, therefore, is that doctrine
of the heretics who say that the virtue of the sacra-
ments hangeth upon the lives of the ministers.

94— Cbe ^tmgp toigbt

(fol. 123, p. 77).

HAVE heard how, when a certain covetous
knight ate at the court of a certain noble, and
asked after dinner for his mantle, which his
servant had laid among the other garments,
then, seeing that it could not at once be
found, he began to revile him before all that stood by,

saying : " Son of a , bring my mantle forthwith !

knowest thou it not ? " The servant, offended and
moved to indignation, answered in all men's hearing,
" Lord, I know it well ; I have known it these seven
years past ; yet I have not yet been able to find it."
The other knights hearing this, began to laugh and to
scoff at this covetous knight, who was covered with

95.— Cbe Pilgrims' perils,

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