G. G. (George Gordon) Coulton.

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

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answered, " Better the house should perish, than the
soul : " and he paid no heed to their prayers, f Novice.
He was a true shepherd, knowing that the sheep com-
mitted to him had been redeemed not with corruptible
things as gold and silver, but with the precious blood of
Christ, as of a lamb unspotted and undefiled. f Monk.
This appeared plainly enough in his words and actions.
For in the days when Reinhold was made Archbishop
of Cologne, and found the revenues of the see mort-
gaged and the farms desolate, he was persuaded to
borrow from the different Cistercian houses in his
diocese faithful and prudent lay-brethren who might
watch over the farms and reform the revenues by their
industry. When therefore he had accepted this counsel,
and had collected certain lay-brethren from the religious
houses both of the hill and of the plain, he was per-
suaded to take this aforesaid lay-brother also. Where-
fore he sent an honourable ambassador, who, after
greeting the Provost from the Archbishop, added, " My
lord hath a small boon to ask of you which ye should
not deny him." " Nay," answered the Provost, " it
is my Lord's part not to ask me, but to command."
Then said the other, " The Archbishop beseeches you
earnestly to lend him such and such a lay-brother



A Model Monk. 223

for such and such uses." Whereunto the Provost
answered with all due humility, constancy, and gentle-
ness : *' I have two hundred sheep at such a Grange,
so and so many in such and such others ; oxen have I
likewise and horses ; let my lord take then of whatso-
ever he will ; but a lay-brother committed to my soul
he shall never have for such uses, since it is not for
sheep and oxen that I am to render account at the
judgment-day before the Supreme Shepherd, but for
souls that have been committed to my care." He left
also another proof of his liberality, a somewhat profit-
able example against monastic avarice. One day,
before that the aforesaid lay-brother was removed
from his office, the Provost came to one of his Granges ;
wherein, seeing a comely foal, he enquired of the same
brother whose it was or whence it came. To whom
the brother answered, " Such and such a man, our good
and faithful friend, left it to us at his death." " By
pure devotion," asked the Provost, "or by legal com-
pulsion ? " "It came through his death," answered
the other : " for his wife, since he was one of our serfs,
offered it as a heriot.* Then the Provost shook his
head and piously answered, " Because he was a good
man and our faithful friend, therefore hast thou
despoiled his wife ? Render therefore her horse to
this forlorn woman ; for it is robbery to seize or detain
other men's goods, since the horse was not thine before
[the man's death]."

The same Provost, being a man of prudence, was
unwilling to take the younger brethren with him when
he went abroad on the business of the monastery : for
he knew that this was inexpedient for them, by reason
of the devil's temptations. Now it befel on a day that
he took with him one of the youths ; and as they were
together, talking of I know not what, they met a
comely maiden. The Provost, of set purpose, reined
in his steed and saluted her most ceremoniously ; she
in her turn stood still and bowed her head to return his

* On the death of a serf, the lord of the manor was generally entitled
to claim as heriot or mortuary his most valuable possession, and the
priest of his parish the next in value. See Extracts Nos. 274 — 276.



224 A Medieval Garner.

salute. When, therefore, they had gone a little further,
the Provost (willing to tempt the youth) said, " Me-
thinks that was a most comely maiden." " Believe
me, my lord," (replied the youth) " she was most
comely in mine eyes also." Whereupon the Provost
answered, " She hath only this blemish, namely, that
she hath but one eye ! " "In truth, my lord," replied
the youth, " she hath both her eyes ; for I looked
somewhat narrowly into her face." Then was the
Provost moved to wrath, and said, " I too will look
narrowly into thy back ! Thou shouldest have been
too simple to know whether she were male or female."
When therefore he was come back to the monastery, he
said to the elder monks, " Ye, my lords,* sometimes
blame me that I take not the younger brethren abroad
with me." Then he expounded this whole case, and
chastised the youth sternly with words and stripes.
This same Provost was so learned that (as it was told
me by an elder monk of that house) he preached a
sermon in the Chapter- General of Citeaux one day when
he came thither for the business of his Order.

Novice. It oftentimes happens that great men wrest
from their subjects money or possessions to which they
have little right, and build therefrom Houses of religion.
May the Religious knowingly accept such alms as
these ? ^ Monk. Whatsoever gnaweth the conscience,
defileth the conscience. Yet know that such things are
sometimes done by God's just judgment, as thou
mayest learn by the following example. A certain
great and noble man, willing to build on his lands a
House of our Order, and finding a spot suitable for a
monastery, drove out its inhabitants partly by bribes,
partly by threats. But the Abbot who was to send
monks to that place, fearing divine displeasure if the
poor were thus deprived of their possessions, prayed to
God that He might vouchsafe to reveal His will in
that case. Then was that just man not suffered to
dwell long in anxious suspense concerning this matter :

* Domini : the usual title for monks, corrupted into the Dan of
Chaucer and the Dom of modern use.



Monastic Chanties. 225

for one day, as he was in prayer, he heard a voice
saying unto him in the words of the Psalmist : " Thou,
my God, hast given an inheritance to them that fear
Thy name." Rising therefore from his knees, he forth-
with understood, through this prophetic voice from
heaven, how it was God's will that undevout men
should be cast forth from these lands, and that men
who feared and praised God should be settled there :
as we read that the Lord gave to the children of Israel
the lands of the Canaanites and other unclean nations.
Yet these must not be construed into a precedent ; for
all covetousness and injustice should be abhorred by the
Religious. ^ Novice. Yea, and scandal should all the
more be avoided in such matters, because secular folk
are unwilling to have Religious for their neighbours.





fiWtl

m


1



1 09.— Monastic Cftarities.

(Caes. Heist. I, 223).

N the days when that most terrible famine of
the year 1197 was raging and destroying
wholesale, our monastery, poor and new
though it was, gave help to many. It has
been told me by those who had seen the
poor flocking round the gate, that sometimes fifteen
hundred doles were given in a single day. Our then
abbot, the lord Gerard, on every flesh-eating day
before harvest, had a whole ox sodden in three
cauldrons, together with herbs gathered from all
sides, whereof he dealt out a portion with bread
to every one of the poor. Thus also he did with
the sheep and other food-stuffs ; so that, by God's
grace, all the poor who came to us were kept alive
until harvest-time. And (as I have heard from
the mouth of the aforesaid abbot Gerard) he
feared lest this store for the poor should fail before
harvest-time, wherefore he rebuked our baker for
making his loaves too great ; but the man replied,
" Of a truth, my lord, they are very small in the dough,
and grow great in the oven ; we put them in small, and



226 A Medieval Garner.

draw out great loaves." This same baker — brother
Conrad Redhead, who lives to this day — has told me
that not only did these loaves grow in the oven, but
even the meal in the bags and vessels, to the wonder
of all the bakers and of the poor who ate thereof ; for
they said : " Lord God ! whence cometh all this
store ? " Moreover, that same year the Lord of all
plenty rewarded a hundredfold, even in this life, the
charity of his servants. For Master Andreas of Speyer,
with the money which he had gathered together at the
court of the Emperor Frederick, and again in Greece,
bought a great estate at Plittersdorf, which he freely
gave unto us ; who then could have put this thought
into his heart but God ?



RaaHi|m|


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1


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1 1 0.— Date anti Dabitut.

(Caea. Heist. I, 236).

HAVE heard from an abbot of our Order that
another abbot — I think of the Order of
Black Monks — was very hospitable and
most merciful to the poor. And, being
himself fervent in all works of mercy, he
took care to ordain as stewards of the house
men who would not hinder his fervour, but rather
kindle it. The more guests he received, and the
more charity he showed to the poor, the more bounti-
fully did the Lord bless him and his house. But after
his death his successor, urged by avarice, removed
these merciful officials and set others in their room whom
he knew to be more parsimonious, saying : " My
predecessor was too lavish and indiscreet ; his ofl&cials
were too prodigal : we must so order and temper the
expenses of our monastery that, if by chance our crops
were smitten by hail, or if times of dearth were to
come, we might yet have wherewithal to succour the
poor." Cloaking his avarice with such words, he shut
hospitality away altogether, and withdrew the accus-
tomed alms from the poor. When these charities had
been cut off, the monastery could not profit in worldly



Date and Dabitur. 227

goods ; nay, within a little while it fell to such a depth
of poverty that the brethren had scarce enough to eat.
One day a gray-haired, venerable man came to the
porter and sought hospitality ; the man took him in
secretly and fearfully, and, rendering him such offices
of hospitality as at that time he could, added these
words : " Let it not scandalize thee, good man, that I
minister so scantily to thy needs ; for our necessities
are cause thereof. In old days I have seen this monas-
tery in such prosperity that, if a Bishop had come, he
would have been harboured with great charity and
abundance." To which the old man answered : "Two
brethren have been expelled from this your monastery :
nor will it ever prosper until their return : the name of
the one is Date, and of the other, Dabitur.''''* And so
saying, he vanished from the porter's eyes. I think
that he was some angel, through whom the Lord wished
to recall the first charity of these brethren. The
porter, being a lay-brother, kept those names in his
heart, and told the abbot and brethren all that he had
heard. They returned to their former hospitality, and
soon the Lord began to bless them as before.

* Give and It shall he given. The porter, as a lay-brother, knew no
Latin. Browning, it will be remembered, traced this story back only
to Luther.



111.— CDe S0ig|)t of Cemptation.

(Caes. Heist. I, 243, 2o3;.

ENRY of Wied was an exceeding rich, power-
ful, and famous knight, a courtier to Henry,
Duke of Saxony. IVIany are yet alive who
knew him, and who perchance remember the
fact which I am about to relate. He had a
wife whom he loved well ; and, as they talked one day
of the fault of Eve, she began, as is the wont of women,
to curse and condemn her for inconstancy of mind,
because for a mere apple's sake, to the satisfaction of
her gluttony, she had subjected the whole human race




22 8 A Medieval Garner.

to such pains and miseries. Her husband made answer,
' Condemn her not ; thou, perchance, in such a
temptation wouldst have done the same. I will give
thee a command which is less than Eve's, yet even for
love of me thou shalt not be able to keep it." " What
is that command ? " said she ; and he replied : " That,
on the day whereon thou hast gone to bath, thou
shouldst never walk barefoot through the slough in the
midst of our courtyard : on other days, if it please
thee, walk through it."* Now that slough was a foul
and stinking swamp, drained together from the filth of
the whole court : wherefore she smiled and shuddered
inly at the idea of transgressing his command. Then
Sir Henry added : "I will that we also add a penalty.
If thou obeyst, thou shalt receive from me forty marks
of silver ; if not, thou shalt pay me a like sum ; " and
she was well pleased. He therefore, without her
knowledge, set men to watch secretly over this slough.
Wonderful to relate ! from that time forward this lady,
honourable and clean as she was, could never go through
that courtyard without looking back at the aforesaid
slough : and, as often as she bathed, so often was she
grievously tempted to walk therein. One day, there-
fore, as she went forth from her bath, she said to her
waiting-maid, " I must needs walk through that slough
or die !" and forthwith, girding up her robe and looking
around and seeing no man, she sent away the maiden
who followed her, and plunged up to her knees into
that stinking water, wherein she walked backwards
and forwards until she had utterly satisfied her desire.
The tale was forthwith told to her husband, who
rejoiced and said as soon as he saw her : " How goeth
it, lady ? Hast thou bathed well to-day ? " " Yea ! "
replied she. Whereupon he added, " In thy bath, or
in the slough ? " At this word she was troubled and
held her peace, knowing now that her transgression was

* Compare Bp. Grosseteste's rules of housekeeping addressed to the
Countess of Lincoln : " let theje be no cow sold whereof the straw does
not remain to strew your sheepfolds daily and to make manure in the
court." Many manor-houses were farm-houses also. (Walter of Henley,
ed. Lamond and Cunningham, p. 143):



The Might of Temptation. 229

not hidden from him. Then said he, " Where, my
lady, is your constancy, your obedience and your
boasting ? You have been less delicately tempted
than Eve : you have resisted more lukewarmly : you
are fallen more shamefully. Give me therefore that
you owe ! " And since she had not wherewithal to pay
him, he took all her precious vestments and gave them
to divers other persons, sufifering her to be sore tor-
mented for a while.

Novice. It is very miserable that man's mind cleave th
ever thus to that which is forbidden !

Mo7ik. There are two knightly families in the bishop-
ric of Cologne, exceeding mighty and proud of their mul-
titude, their riches, and their honours ; one of which is
sprung from the village of Bacheim, the other from that
of Gurzenich. Now, between these families there
were once such sore and mortal feuds, that in those
days they could not be quieted by any man save the
Bishop, their lord ; but daily the feud blazed forth
afresh in robbery, burnings, and manslaughter. The
men of Gurzenich made on their own frontier a fortified
house in the forest, not indeed for fear of their enemies,
but in order that they might there assemble together,
and dwell at their ease, and sally forth thence in a
body to attack their foes more violently. Now they
had a certain serf born on the land, Steinhart by name,
to whose faith they entrusted the keys of their strong-
hold ; but he, impelled by the devil, sent a secret
message tc their enemies, promising that he would
betray both his lords and their stronghold into their
power ; putting forward I know not what excuse
against them. The knights of Bacheim, fearing
treachery, gave no heed to his words ; but when for
the second and third time he had sent them the same
message, than they armed themselves on the day
appointed, and, coming with a great multitude for fear
of an ambush, they met the serf in a place hard by the
fort. This traitor, therefore, going out to them while
they still hesitated, brought all the swords of his
masters, who were sleeping their mid-day sleep in the
fortress ; and thus he certified them of his truth.



230 A Medieval Garner.

They therefore brake m fully armed and slew all,
receiving the serf into their own party according as
they had sworn to him. In process of time the wretched
man, terriified and moved with remorse at so execrable
a crime, repaired to the Roman Court ; where he
confessed his fault and received a most grievous penance.
Nevertheless, giving way to temptation, he fulfilled
not that which he had undertaken ; wherefore, return-
ing again to the Pope, he renewed his penance, but
again fell away from his obedience. When, therefore,
he had thus done again and again, then the lord Peni-
tentiary grew weary, and said (willing to be freed from
one who made no progress), " Knowest thou anything
which thou canst take as a penance, and keep it ? "
He replied, " Never could I eat garlic ; wherefore I am
assured that I shall never transgress the prohibition of
that herb, if I undertake it for my sins." Whereunto
the confessor answered, " Go ! and henceforth for thy
great sins' sake eat no garlic." The man, even as he
went forth from the city, saw garlic in a certain garden ;
which by the devil's suggestion he presently began to
covet. Halting therefore to mark this garlic, he was
grievously tempted : his growing concupiscence for-
bade the wretch to tear himself away ; yet he dared
not touch the forbidden herb. Why should I delay
longer in this tale ? At length his gluttony overcame
his obedience ; he entered the garden and ate. Mar-
vellous to relate ! this garlic, whereof he could never
taste when it was cooked and duly prepared and lawful
for him to eat, now that it was forbidden he ate it raw
and unripe ! So, being foully conquered in this
temptation, he returned with confusion to the papal
court, and told them what he had done ; but the
Penitentiary drove him forth with indignation and
bade him trouble him no more. What the miserable
man did afterwards I never heard.




Monastic Fare. 231

112.— Monastic jFate,

(Caes. Heist. I, 248).

UR conventual bread, being black and coarse,
is rather a necessity than a superfluity : and
methinks a monk sins more if he abhors it
or requires more delicate fare, than if he eats
thereof to satiety. There is sometimes most
grievous temptation in [the coarseness of] this bread.
. . . Often also the devil tempts Religious with flesh-
meat, whether asleep or awake, visibly or invisibly.
Some he conquers, by others he is conquered.
Novice : Of this I would fain hear examples.
Monk : I will tell thee some true and plain instances.
There died not long since among us a monk named
Arnold, a canon of the Church of the Holy iVpostles at
Cologne ; for before his conversion he had been a man
of great wealth and daintiness. He was wont to tell me
that the devil tempted him much with gluttony, even
when he did but doze in choir. Sometimes, as he stood
in choir and closed his eyes for weariness, he smelt a
plate full of flesh in front of his mouth, wherefrom he ate
(as he thought) even like a dog : then, blushing to eat
after so beastlike a fashion, he would sometimes throw
back his head and strike it somewhat smartly against
the wall. Again, a certain lay brother (as I heard from
his own lips,) hearing one day a certam private mass,
slept a little during the recitation of the Canon :* then
by a diabolical fllusion he began to gnaw with his teeth
the wood whereupon he lay prostrate, as though he
were chewing food : and the sound of his teeth was as
the sound of a mouse gnawing through a nutshell.
Brother Richwin, our Cellerar, who was serving at that
same mass, was hindered in his prayers by the noise.
When therefore he could speak with the lay brother, he
asked him what he had between his teeth in the mass,
saying : " Ye were cause that I could not pray ! "
" Believe me," replied the other, " I have eaten good
flesh." " Where didst thou get it ? " said he. The

* The most solemn portion, including the actual consecration.



232 A Medieval Garner.

lay brother answered, " In the canon of the mass, the
Devil had prepared for my mouth a full dish of flesh-
food. If ye believe me not, mark the wood whereon I
lay : there shall ye surely find the marks of my teeth : "
and he told how the Devil had mocked him in his sleep.
In truth, the wood was all gnawed with his teeth :
thus our Enemy seeketh at least to delude in sleep
those Religious whom he cannot ensnare with gluttony
in their waking hours.




113.— ^leep in Cboir.

(Caes. Heist. I, 203).

NE of our elder monks, Frederick by name,
though a good man in other respects, was
somewhat notorious for the fault of somno-
lence. One night, before our monastery had
been sent forth,* as he stood sleeping at the
psalmody of Matins at Hemmenrode, saw in his dream
a long mis-shapen fellow standing before him, and
holding a dirty wisp of straw such as men use to rub
down their horses. He, looking audaciously upon the
monk, and saying, " Why standest thou here and
sleepest all night, son of the Great Woman ? "t struck
him in the face with the filthy straw : whereupon the
monk woke in affright and, throwing back his head to
avoid the stroke, struck it somewhat smartly against
the wall. Lo what merriment among the rest ! . . .
In the same house is a monk who often sleeps in choir,
and seldom keeps awake ; more noted for his silence
than for his singing. Around this monk hogs are often
seen, and the gruntings of swine are heard. Methinks

* The monastery was first founded in 1188, on the Stromberg, one
of the Seven Mountains ; but the severity of the climate, and the diffi-
culty of procuring food, drove the monks to migrate in 1191 to the
adjoining valley of Heisterbach. Caesarius says stood, because the choir
stalls were made to enable the monks to rest their body while they
stood upon their feet to sing.

t The Cistercians claimed the special protection of the Virgin Mary :
see No. 131.




THE CHOIR OF HEISTERBACH.

Begun in liio-J, tUiislu'tl lii.!: unly this apse now remains.



Sleep in Choir. 233

they feed on the husks that fall from his mouth. . . .
\\ Novice. From these words of thine I gather that the
weariness of spiritual exercises cometh from the Devil.
^ Monk. Thou sayest right ; for there are some who have
no sooner begun to sing, pray, or read, but they pre-
sently begin to slumber : such are wakeful in their beds,
but heavy with sleep in the choir. So too with the word
of God ; they are wakeful enough to hear secular talk,
but when the word of God is set before them, they are
soon asleep. Gerard, the predecessor of our present
Abbot, was once propounding to us the word of exhorta-
tion in the Chapter-house. Seeing that many, espe-
cially of the lay-brethren, were asleep, and that some
were even snoring, he cried out, " Hark, brethren,
hark ! I will tell you of something new and great.
There was once a mighty king whose name was Arthur.
..." Here he broke off short, and said, " Lo, brethren,
we are in a sad pass ! When I spake of God, ye slept :
but presently when I changed my speech to levity, ye
woke up, and all began pricking up your ears to listen."
I myself was present at that sermon. Nor is it only
spiritual persons, but lay folk also, who are hindered by
this devilish temptation of slumber. A certain knight
of Bonn, Henry by name, once made his Lent with us
in our monastery. After he had gone home, he met
one day with the aforesaid Abbot Gerard, and said to
him, " My Lord Abbot, sell me that stone which lieth by
such and such a column in your church, and I will give
you whatsoever price you may demand for it." " How ? "
said the Abbot, " What profit can it be to you ? " "I
would fain set it by my bed," he answered ; " for such
is its nature that if a man cannot sleep, and lay his head
on that stone, he will slumber forthwith." Such con-
fusion had the devil brought upon him in the penitential
season that, whensoever he came to our church and
yleant on that stone to pray, sleep would presently over-
come him. Another noble, who came to do similar
penitence in Hemmenrode, is reported to have spoken
to the same effect, saying, " The stones of your con-
ventual church are softer than any beds in my castle ! "
He could by no mieans refrain from sleep on those



234 ^ Medieval Garner.

stones during the time of prayer. ^ Novice : If sloth
during divine service were not a grievous fault, the
devil would not be so busy to tempt us therewith.



i


1


^



114.— iaicbtDin anD tbe Bun.

(Caes. Heist. I, 259).

WILL not tell of those who have consented to
lechery and fallen, but of those who, tempted
and shaken, have yet been preserved by God's
grace. A certain rich and honourable knight,
being separated from his wife according to
Church custom, came to a house of our Order for the
sake of conversion. To this monastery he gave all his



Online LibraryG. G. (George Gordon) CoultonA medieval garner; human documents from the four centuries preceding the reformation → online text (page 20 of 61)