G. G. (George Gordon) Coulton.

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

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fear or experience of hell fire, and desire for the heavenly
country. To these may be applied that word in the
Gospel: "Compel them to come in. [After giving
examples of monks converted (i) by the sole iafluence
of God, (ii) by that of the Devil, and (iii) by the
ministry of others, Caesarius goes on to quote instances
of interested conversions.] Even as many are drawn
to the Order by medicine for their sickness, so also

* i.e., of leaving the World for the Cloister.


210 A Medieval Garner.

very many are driven in by the road of poverty. We
have often seen, and we daily see, persons who were
once rich and honourable in the world, such as knights
and burgesses, entering our Order under pressure of
want, and choosing rather to serve the rich God from
necessity, than to suffer the confusion of poverty
among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. A certain
honourable man, setting forth to me the story of his
conversion, added : " Certainly, if I had prospered in
my affairs, I should never have entered this Order. I
have known some who, when their fathers or brethren
were converted, resisted conversion themselves, and
came at last when they had consumed all that had
been left to them, cloaking their necessity under the
cloak of religion, or rather making a virtue of the
necessity itself. ^ Novice. There is no need to seek
examples of svich folk, since we see that many, and
especially lay-brethren, come to the Order for such
reasons ; but blessed are they who had wealth and
despised it for Christ's sake. IT Monk. Blessed, not
because they possessed wealth, but because they
despised it. The widow's two mites pleased God more
than many alms of the rich. Know also that some are
converted for shame of some fault, or for the brand of
some infamy. There was a young novice in our House
who was thus drawn into the Order. He had been
Canon of a church in Cologne ; and, having committed
a theft, though a smaU one, upon his master, an honour-
able clerk whose table he shared, he was caught by the
servants and felt such shame that he fled from the
world to our monastery and became a novice. He
chose rather to serve God than to suffer such confusion
among his fellow-clergy. I was then attached to the
same church as he, and knew the cause of his conversion
as aforesaid, and I had some fear lest such a conversion
should prove insecure. Another youth seduced a
nun ; and, urged by shame and fear alike (since
she was of noble blood) he was converted among
us : and that which the devil had prepared for
his ruin was turned by this occasion into his salva-
tion. While the youth aforesaid, by God's just

A Knight of the Holy Ghost. 211

judgment, deserted the Order, this one yet perseveres,
by the saving virtue of God's mercy. IT Novice. As
I see, it is not of him who willeth nor of him who
runneth, but of God who showeth mercy. IF Monk,
Even so. That some also are converted for peril of
this earthly life, thou shalt learn by this following
example. In the days when King Otto went to Rome
to be crowned Emperor, he committed the government
of the Moselle lands to his brother Henry the Count
Palatine ; who solemnly sentenced a certain noble
robber to death. But Daniel abbot of Schoenau
arrived on the spot, and besought the Count Palatine
until he granted the robber his life, that he might
satisfy God for his sins in the Cistercian Order. This
man, therefore, having been condemned to death for
his crimes, escaped by the grace of conversion from the
sentence of damnation.* I have often heard of like
cases, when criminals who had been condemned for
various crimes have been freed by the benefit of the
monastic Order. H Novice. Though these examples
may seem trifling, yet we must not think scorn of
them, since they tend to edification.

1 03.— a i&nigbt of tbe l^olp <^WU

(Caes. Heist, I, 45).

CERTAIN Knight named Walewan, desiring
to become a monk, rode to the abbey of
Hemmenrode on his war-horse, and in full
armour ; in full armour he rode into the
cloister, and (as I have been told by our
older monks, who were present) the porter led him
down the middle of the choir, under the eyes of the
whole community, who marvelled at this new form of
conversion. The Knight then offered himself upon the
altar of the Blessed Virgin, and, putting off his armour,
took the habit of religion in that same monastery,
thinking it fit to lay down his earthly knighthood in

* Or possibly simply condemnation.

212 A Medieval Garner.

the very spot where he purposed to become a Knight
of the Holy Ghost. Here, when the days of his novi-
ciate were past, he chose in his humility to become a
lay-brother ; and here he still lives, a good and religious


104.— Cbe Usurer's jFate.

(Caes. Heist. I, 70).

N the days when John the Master of Schools
at Xanten, and Oliver, Master of Schools at
Cologne, preached the crusade against the
Saracens in the diocese of Utrecht, (as I was
told by brother Bernard, who was then
Oliver's colleague and fellow-preacher) there was a
certain peasant named Gottschalk, if I remember
rightly, who busied himself with usury. He took the
cross with the rest ; not from devotion, as events
showed, but through the importunate urgency of the
bystanders. When, by Pope Innocent's command,
the dispensators collected ransom-money from the
aged, the poor, and the sick, this same usurer feigned
poverty and gave one of the dispensators about the sum
of five marks, thus deceiving the priest. His neigh-
bours afterwards testified that he might have given
forty marks mthout thereby disinheriting his children,
as he pretended. But God, who could not be deceived,
presently put a terrible end to his trickery. The
wretch sat about in the taverns, provoking God and
mocking His pilgrims with such words as these : " Ye
fools will cross the seas and waste your substance and
expose your lives to manifold dangers ; while I shall
sit at home with my wife and children, and get a like
reward to yours through the five marks with which I
redeemed my cross." But the righteous Lord, willing
to show openly how great pleasure He took in the
travail and cost of the pilgrims, and how hateful in His
eyes were the fraud and blasphemy of this scoffer,
gave over the wretched man to Satan, that he might
learn not to blaspheme. As he slept one night beside
his wife, he heard as it were the sound of a mill-wheel

The Usurer's Fate.


turning in his own mill that adjoined his house ; where-
upon he cried for his servant, saying, " Who hath let
the mill-wheel loose ? Go and see who is there." The
servant went and came back, for he was too sore afraid
to go further. " Say, who is there ? " cried the master.
" Such horror fell upon me at the mill-door," answered
the fellow, " that I must perforce turn back."
" Well ! " cried he, " even though it be the Devil, I
will go and see." So, naked as he was, but for a cloak


(From Viollet-le-Duc'9 Diet, de I Architecture, VI, 409).

214 A Medieval Garner.

which he threw over his shoulders, he opened the mill
door, and looked in : when a sight of horror met his
eyes. There stood two coal-black horses, and by their
side an ill-favoured man as black as they, who cried to
the boor, " Quick ! mount this horse, for he is brought
for thee." He grew pale and trembled, for the voice
of command sounded ill in his ears. While therefore
he hesitated to obey, the devil cried again, " Why
tarriest thou ? cast aside thy cloak and come." (For
the crusader's cross, which he had taken, was sewn on
to his cloak.) In brief, feeling desperately in his heart
the force of this devil's call, and no longer able to resist,
he cast off his cloak, entered the mill, and mounted the
horse — or rather the devil. The Fiend himself mounted
another ; and, side by side, they swept in breathless
haste from one place of torture to another, wherein the
wretched man saw his father and mother in miserable
torments, and a multitude of others whom he knew
not to be dead. There also he saw a certain honest
knight lately dead, Elias von Rheineck, castellan of
Horst, seated on a mad cow with his face towards her
tail and his back to her horns ; the beast rushed to and
fro, goring his back every moment so that the blood
gushed forth. To whom the usurer said, " Lord, why
suffer ye this pain ? " " This cow," replied the knight,
" I tore mercilessly from a certain widow ; wherefore
I must now endure this merciless punishment from the
same beast." Moreover there was shown him a burning
fiery chair, wherein could be no rest, but torment and
interminable pain to him who sat there : and it was
said, " Now shalt thou return to thine own house, and
thou shalt have thy reward in this chair." Within a
while the fiend brought him back and laid him in the
mill, leaving him half-dead. Here he was found by
his wife and family, who brought him to bed and asked
where he had been, or whence he came. " I have been
taken to hell," he answered, " where I saw such and
such tortures : where also my guide showed me a
chair, which (as he said) was prepared for me, and
wherein after three days I was to receive my reward."
The priest was called forthwith, whom the wife besought

Mary and Christ. 215

to comfort his weakness, relieve his despair, and exhort
him to those things which belonged to his salvation.
But when the priest warned him to repent of his sins
and make a clean breast in confession, saying that none
should despair of God's mercy, he answered : " What
avail such words as these ? I cannot confess ; I hold
it useless to confess ; that which is decreed must be
fulfilled in me. My seat is made ready ; after the third
day I must come thither, and there must I receive the
reward of my deeds." And thus, unrepentant, uncon-
fessed, unanointed and unaneled, he died on the third
day and found his grave in hell ; and whereas the
priest forbade him christian burial, yet he took a bribe
from the wife to lay him in the churchyard ; for which
he was afterwards accused in the Synod of Utrecht and
punished I know not how. It is scarce three years
since these things came to pass.

105.— Q^arp anti Cfjtist.

(Caes. Heist. I, 78).

^HERE lived not five years since near Floreffe,
a Praemonstratensian monastery in the
diocese of Li^ge, a noble youth whose father
died and left wealth proportionate to his
greatness and his state. The youth was
loiighted and, within a brief space, striving after
earthly glory, he fell into extreme poverty. For he
was altogether given up to tourneying for the sake of
worldly glory, and he spent lavishly on minstrels
and buffoons : until, his yearly revenues no longer
sufficing for such prodigality, he was compelled
to sell his paternal heritage. Now there lived
hard by a knight rich and honourable though
a courtier, to whom the aforesaid youth partly
sold, partly pledged, his estates ; and now, having no
more to sell or mortgage, he purposed to go into exUe,
thinking it less intolerable to go begging among
strangers than to bear the shame of poverty among his
kinsfolk and acquaintance. But he had a steward, ^

2i6 A Medieval Garner.

man of iniquity, Christian by name but unchristian in
deed, and utterly given up to the service of the fiends.
He, seeing his master so sad, and knowing well the
cause, said to him, " My Lord, would ye fain become
rich ? " " Gladly," answered the youth, " so that it
were with God's blessing." To whom the Steward:
" Fear not, only follow me, and all shall be well."
Forthwith he followed after this wretch, (as Eve after
the serpent's voice and a bird after the fowler's snare,)
doomed to be quickly caught in the devil's toils. The
steward led him that same night through a wood into
a marshy place, and began to converse as with another
person. " To whom speakest thou ? " said the youth :
but this Unjust Steward answered to his master, " Only
keep silence, and care not with whom I may speak."
When therefore he spake a second time, and the youth
asked again the same question, the steward answered,
" My speech is with the Devil." Then was the young
man seized with a great horror : for who indeed would
not have been dismayed at that spot and hour to hear
such speech as this ? For the steward said to the
Devil, " Lord, behold I have brought hither this noble
youth my master, beseeching your grace and your
majesty that he may be thought worthy to be restored
by your help to his former honours and riches." Then
said the Fiend, " If he will be my devoted and faithful
servant, I will give him great wealth, and add thereunto
such glory and honour as his forefathers never had."
Then answered the steward, " He will gladly and
faithfully obey you for such a reward." " If then,"
said the Devil, " he would fain receive such gifts at my
hand, he must forthwith renounce the Most High."
While the young man, hearing this, refused to obey, the
man of perdition said to him, " Why do ye fear to utter
one little word ? Speak it, and renounce God." At
length the wretched youth was persuaded by the steward
to deny his Creator with his mouth, to repudiate him
with his hands,* and to do homage to the Devil. When

* Exfestucare : see Du Cange, Glossarium, s.v. Festuca. This was a
formal legal proceeding, quite different to Vanni Fucci's blasphemous
gesture in Dante {Inf. xxv. 1-3).

Mary and Christ. 217

this crime had been committed, the devil added, " The
work is yet imperfect. He must renounce also the
Mother of the Most High ; for she it is who doth us
most harm. Those whom the Son in His justice casts
away, the Mother, in her superfluity of mercy, brings
back again to indulgence." Again the serpent whis-
pered in the youth's ear, that he should obey his lord
in this also, and deny the Mother even as he had denied
the Son. But at this word the youth was utterly
dismayed, and being moved beyond all measure, he
said, " That will I never do ! " " Why ? " said the
other, " Thou hast done the greater deed, do now the
lesser ; for the Creator is greater than the creature."
But he replied, " I will never deny her, even though I
must beg from door to door for all the days of my life : "
and he would not consent. Thus therefore both
departed, leaving the matter yet unfinished, but
burdened with a heavy load of sin, both the steward
who had persuaded and the youth who had consented.
And as they went together they came to a certain
church, the door whereof had been left half-shut by
the bell-ringer as he went out. Whereupon the youth
leapt from his horse and gave it to the steward, saying,
" Wait here for me until I return to thee." And
entering the church before dawn, he fell down before
the altar and began from the depths of his heart to call
upon the Mother of Mercy : (for upon that altar stood
the image of the Virgin Mother herself, holding the
Child Jesus in her lap.) And lo ! by the merits of
that most glorious Star of the Sea, the true dayspring
began to arise in the heart of this our youth. Such
contrition did the Lord vouchsafe to him for the
honour of His Mother, whom he had not denied, that
he roared for vexation of spirit, and filled the church
with the wild vehemence of his lamentations. At the
same hour the aforesaid knight, who had all the youth's
lands, turned aside by God's providence, (as it is
believed), to that same church ; and, seeing it empty
and thinking that service was being held there, (espe-
cially for the clamour that he heard within,) he entered
alone. Then, finding this youth so well-known to him

2 1 8 A Medieval Garner.

weeping before the altar, and supposing that he wept
only for his own calamity, he secretly crept behind a
column and awaited the issue of the matter. So when
the youth dared not to name nor call upon that terrible
Majesty whom he had denied, but only importuned
His most loving Mother with lamentable cries, then
that blessed and singular Advocate of Christians spake
thus through the lips of her statue, " Sweetest Son,
pity this man." But the Child made no answer to His
Mother, turning His face from her. When therefore
she besought Him again, pleading that the youth had
been misled. He turned His back upon His Mother,
saying, " This man hath denied Me, what should I do
to him ? " Thereupon the statue rose, laid her Child
upon the altar, and threw herself on the ground at His
feet, saying, " I beseech thee. Son, forgive him this sin
for my sake." Then the Child raised His Mother up
and answered her, " Mother, I could never deny Thee
aught : behold, I forgive it all for thy sake." He had
first forgiven the guilt for his contrition's sake, and
then at His Mother's intercession He forgave the
penalty of the sin. IT Novice. Why was He so hard to
His so beloved Mother ? ^ Monk. That He might show
the youth how grievously he had sinned against Him,
and the more to punish the very sin against Himself by
grief of heart. So the youth arose and left the church,
sad indeed for his fault, but glad to have found mercy.
The knight left the church secretly after him, and,
feigning ignorance, asked him why his eyes were so wet
and swollen ; to whom the youth answered, ''It is
from the wind." Then said the knight, "My lord,
the cause of your sadness is not hidden from me. I
have an only daughter : if ye will have her to wife, I
will restore with her all your possessions, and make you
heir in addition to all mine own riches." The youth
answered joyfully, "If ye would vouchsafe to do thus,
it would be most pleasant unto me ! " The knight went
back to his wife and told her the whole story in order ;
she consented, the wedding was celebrated, and the
youth received all his lands again for his wife's doAvry.
He still lives, I think, and his wife's father and mother ;
after whose death their inheritance will fall to him.

The Flesh-Pots of Egypt.


106.— C|)e ^amc.

(Caes. Hoist. 11, 382).

CERTAIN lay-brother of Henimenrode was
somewhat grievously tempted ; wherefore as
he stood and prayed he used these words, " In
truth, Lord, if Thou deliver me not from this
temptation, I will complain of Thee to Thy
Mother ! " The loving Lord, master of humility and
lover of simplicity, prevented the lay-brother's com-
plaint and presently relieved his temptation, as though
He feared to be accused before His Mother's face.
Another lay-brother standing behind the other's back
smiled to hear this prayer, and repeated it for t]ie
edification of the rest. IT Novice. Who would not be
edified by Christ's so great humility ?

107.— Cbe j?lC)5i)#ots of (ZBgppt.

(Caes. Heist. I, 167).

CERTAIN abbot of Black Monks, a good
man and a lover of discipline, had subjects
who were somewhat wayward and undisci-
plined. It befel one day that some of these
monks had prepared for themselves a feast of
divers flesh-dishes and choice wines, which they dared
not eat in any part of the house for fear of the Abbot ;
wherefore they gathered together to enjoy that which
they had prepared in a vast empty wine-vessel, of the
kind which men call tun in vulgar speech. Now it was
told the Abbot that such and such monks were enjoying
their feast in such a wine-tun : he therefore, hastening
thither forthwith in much bitterness of soul, turned by
his presence the joy of the f casters into mourning.
Seeing them therefore affrighted, he feigned himself to
be merry, and said, " Ha ! brethren, would ye thus
have eaten and drunken without me ? Methinks this
is not fair ; believe me, I will dine with you ! " So he
washed his hands and ate and drank with them, com-

220 A Medieval Garner.

forting their alarm by his example. Next day (having
forewarned the Prior and instructed him what to do)
the Abbot arose at Chapter, in the presence of these
monks ; and, begging for pardon with much humility
and feigned fear and trembling, he brake forth into
these words : ' I confess to you, my lord Prior, and to
all my brethren here assembled, that, sinner as I am,
yesterday I was overcome by the sin of gluttony, and
that I ate flesh in a secret place, and as it were by
stealth, in a wine-tun, contrary to the precept and Rule
of our father St. Benedict." Whereupon he sat down
and began to bare his body for the discipline ; and
when the Prior would have forbidden him he answered,
" Suffer me to be scourged ; for it is better that I pay
the penalty here than in another world." When
therefore he had taken his chastisement and his penance,
and had returned to his place, then these aforesaid
monks, fearing to be accused of him if they hid their
fault, rose of their own accord and confessed the same
transgression. The Abbot therefore caused them to be
well and soundly scourged by a monk whom he had
already chosen for that purpose, rebuking them bitterly
and commanding that they should never again presume
so to transgress, under pain of sore vengeance.

108.— a ai^oDel a^onk.

(Caes. Heist. I, 282).

T the Monastery of St. Chrysanthius [in the
Eiffel] there dwelt a schoolmaster named
Ulrich, a Frenchman by birth, of great
prudence and learning. The revenues of his
office were so small that he could not avoid
falling into debt. One of the brethren at the Praemon-
stratensian Monastery of Steinfeld, perceiving that he
was a man of great learning, oft-times persuaded him
to enter his monastery by grace of conversion. At
last this Ulrich, by divine inspiration, answered thus :
" I owe a little money ; pay that, and I will come to
you." When the Provost of the aforesaid monastery

A Model Monk. 221

heard this, he gladly paid the money, and Ulrich forth-
with took the habit. Not long afterwards, he was
elected Provost of that house : (for there were as yet
no Abbots in the Praemonstratensian Order.) Con-
sidering then that, with this office, he had undertaken
the keeping not of flocks and lands but of men's souls,
he busied himself with the uprooting of vices rather
then with the amassing of money, knowing that covet-
ousness is the root of all evil. Now he had a lay
brother so skilful and circumspect in the management
of worldly things, so careful and exact, that everything
passed through his hands, and he was almost the
only one who provided the monastery farms with all
that they needed, both ploughs and cattle and money.
He was all in all, disposing everything, neglecting
nothing, adding field to field and joining vineyard to
vineyard. The Provost, marking this, and reading in
the Scriptures that nothing was more wicked than
avarice, called the lay-brother to him one day, and
said : " Dost thou know, my bearded fellow, wherefore
I am come into this Order ? "* (Now he was uncun-
ning in the German tongue ; and therefore to the lay-
brethren all his speech seemed crooked and distorted.)
The lay-brother answered " I know not, my Lord."
" Then I will tell thee : for I am come hither to weep
in this spot for my sins. Wherefore now art thou come
hither ? " The other made answer, " My Lord, for the
same cause." " If then," said the Provost, " thou art
come to bewail thy sins, thou shouldest have kept the
fashion of a penitent : assiduous in church, in watchings,
in fastings : constant in prayer to God for thy sins.
For it is no part of penitence to do as thou dost — to
disinherit thy neighbours and (in the words of the
Prophet Habacuc) to load thyself with thick clay.
Whereunto the lay-brother answered, " Lord, those
possessions which I get are continuous with the fields
and vineyards of our convent." " Well," said the
Provost, " when these are bought, thou must needs buy
those also which border thereon. Knowest thou what

* The lay-brethren, unlike the monks, let their beards grow.

222 A Medieval Garner.

Isaiah saith ? ' Woe unto you that join house to house
and lay field to field, even to the end of the place :
shall you alone dwell in the midst of the earth ? ' For
thou settest no bounds to thy covetousness. When
thou shalt have gotten all the land of this province,
thou shalt cross the Rhine at a stride : then shalt thou
go on even to the mountains ; nor even so shalt thou
rest until thou be come to the sea. There at last,
methinks, shalt thou halt, for the sea is broad and
spacious, and thy stride is short. Abide therefore
within thy cloister, haunt thy church, that thou mayest
bewail thy sins night and day. Wait awhile, and thou
shalt have enough earth beneath thee and above thee
and within ; for dust thou art and into dust thou shalt
return." Some of the elder brethren, hearing this,
said, " Lord, lord, if this lay-brother be removed, our
house will go to rack and ruin." Whereunto he

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