G. G. (George Gordon) Coulton.

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

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possessions, on the condition that it should pay a
certain life-pension to his wife, who had promised to
lead a religious life in some nunnery. (I will name
neither the convent nor the knight, lest she be shamed
by aught of that which I shall say ; for she yet liveth.)
When he had become a novice, the devil so pricked her
that she drew back from her purpose, and asked again
for her husband, who was now become a Brother of the
house. Seeing then that she profited nothing by such
means, coming insidiously to the monastery with her
friends, she besought and obtained permission to speak
with him without the monastic precincts. The knights
therefore seized him and, dragging him by force to
horseback, sought to carry him off ; but he, as fast as
they lifted him on one side, slipped down over the
other ; so that, finding their efforts unavailing, they
went home with the lady. Then she kept silence for all
that year ; but after his year of probation, being driven
by some necessity, he revisited his house with a monk
for his companion, and there he found the lady afore-
said. She, making as though she would have spoken
with him in private, led him to her chamber, closed the
door privily, and began to embrace and to kiss him ;
hoping that, if she might lead him into sin, he would
leave the Order and come back to her. But Christ the
Son of spotlessness, who freed the innocent boy Joseph



Richwin and the Nun. 23 5

from the hands of the adulteress, saved also this knight
of His from the unlawful embraces of his lawful spouse.
For, shaking himself free from her arms, he went forth
unhurt, and unsinged by the fire. This knight, on his
return, might have said with Solomon : "I have found
a woman more bitter than death, who is the hunter's
snare, and her heart is a net, and her hands are bands."
And of him we may say that which followeth : "" He
that please th God shall escape from her." ^ Novice:
That was a great temptation. *f[ Monk : Greater was
this that I will now tell.

A youth of Cologne, Richwin by name, became a
novice in our monastery. When he had spent some
time devoutly and quietly enough in probation, and
was learning to fashion himself after the Order, the
devil envied his peace and salvation, stirring up such
war in his heart through a certain nun of St. Cecilia at
Cologne, and tearing his flesh with such goads of lust,
that he could not rest. For she composed and wrote
letters of recall, wherein she rebuked him for his conver-
sion, pleaded with him for his return, and said that she
herself, her house, her prebend, and all that she pos-
sessed, should be in his power for his whole life long if
only he would come back. These letters she sent by a
servant, who asked for the novice ; but Henry, cousin
to that same novice, and now our Cellarer, met the
servant and, (fearing that which indeed happened after-
wards,) would not suffer him to speak with Richwin,
but bade him begone forthwith from the courtyard.
Yet he came upon the novice in the church, gave him
the letter, and departed. When therefore Richwin
read it, he was kindled to such white-heat as if a fiery
dart had been thrust into his heart. From that
moment he was exceedingly tempted, so that he pur-
posed every hour of the day to return to the world ;
yet the pious prayers and exhortations of the brethren
held him back. One day, being alone in his hour of
trial, and wavering exceedingly, he fell flat on his face
and stretched his feet against the threshold of his cell,
and spake, crying aloud in his agony, " Devil ! unless
thou drag me hence perforce by the feet, I will never



236 A Medieval Garner.

follow thee ! " At length by the grace of God he
triumphed and became a monk. When I asked him
whether he yet felt in his heart any remnants of the
aforesaid thoughts, he answered, " In truth, brother,
the temptations which in those days tore my heart,
can now scarce graze my outer garments." After-
wards he became cellarer-major in our House, and died
in that office.




115.— Eicfttoin's Deatft.

(Caes. Heist. II, 296).

T is not a year since brother Lambert of our
monastery, sleeping in choir on a Sunday
night, saw a vision of Richwin the Cellarer,
dead some years before, who entered the
choir and beckoned with his hand, say-
ing : " Come, brother Lambert, we will go together
to the Rhine." But he refused, knowing him to
be dead, and saying, "Of a truth I will not go
with you." Thus repulsed, he turned to the
other side of the choir, beckoning with the same
gesture and the same words to an old monk
named Conrad, who had fought the good fight [mili-
taverat] for some fifty years in our Order ; and he,
drawing his hood over his head, followed him forth-
with. That same day, after supper, the Prior bade
some of us to his chamber, and this same Conrad was
of the number ; to whom, in my hearing, this Lambert
said, " Of a truth, brother Conrad, you will soon die,
for in that very cowl I saw you last night following
after Rich win ; " and told him all the vision in order.
Then answered Conrad, " I care not ; I would fain be
dead at this very moment." On the very next day (if
I remember rightly) he fell sick, and within a short
while he was dead and buried in that same cowl.




The Lay-Brother's Ambition. 237

116.— Cbe iLaj)=16rotber's ambition.

(Caes. Heist. I, 294).

IN Kloster-Camp, a Cistercian Abbey within
the bishopric of Cologne, (as I have heard
from a certain priest of our Order, a truthful
man who knew of the matter) there was a
certain lay-brother who had so far learnt
letters from the monks with whom he spake, as that
he could read a book. By this occasion, he was so
enticed and deceived that he secretly caused books to
be -written fit for this purpose, and began to delight in
the vice of private property.* When, therefore, this
kind of study was forbidden to this lay-brother, as to
one too much wrapped up therein, then his love of
learning drove him into apostasy. Yet he made but
little progress by reason of his advanced age. Then,
being driven back to the monastery by repentance, and
having thrice repeated this apostasy — now going forth
to follow worldly schools, and then coming back again
— he gave the devil an abundant handle against him-
self to deceive him. For the fiend, appearing to him
in visible form as an angel of light, said, " Play the
man, learn on ! for it is ordained and established of God
that thou shouldst become bishop of Halberstadt."
This fool, marking not the devil's wiles, hoped that the
miracles of old times would be renewed in him. To be
brief, one day the tempter insinuated himself to the
lay brother, and said with a clear voice and joyful
countenance, " To-day the Bishop of Halberstadt is
dead. Make all haste towards the city of which by
God's decree thou art Bishop ; for His counsel cannot
be changed." Forthwith the wretch crept silently
from the monastery, and spent that same night in the
house of a certain honest priest near the town of Xanten.
But, that he might come in all magnificence to his see,
he arose in the night before daybreak, laid the trappings

* It was contrary to the strict Rule for a monk to possess anything
of his own, hut few points of the Rule were more difficult to enforce
than this : see extract 302.



238 A Medieval Garner.

on his host's horse — which was a right good one — put
on his host's cloak, mounted and rode away. At day-
break the servants of the house, discovering this loss,
pursued after the apostate, and caught him. By them
he was haled red-handed before the secular judge ; by
whose decree he was condemned, and ascended, not to
the bishop's throne, but to the thief's gallows. Dost
thou see to what end the devil's promise tendeth ?
Another lay brother, though not so manifestly, yet
was no less perilously deceived by him.




117.— Cuckoo, Cuckoo I

(Caes. Heist. 1, 295).

sHEOBALD, abbot of Eberbach, of blessed
memory, told us last year that a certam
lay brother, being on I know not what
journey, and hearing the frequent song of
that bird which men call cuckoo after the
sound of its voice, counted how often it broke off, and
finding these to be twenty-two, and taking this for an
omen, reckoned these repetitions as so many years of
his own life. " Ha ! " cried he, "it is certain that I
have twenty-two years yet to live. Why therefore
should I mortify myself so long in this Order ? I will
return to the world, follow its devices, and enjoy its
delights for twenty years ; then will I do penance for
the remaining two years of my life." Doubtless the
same devil who by open speech had persuaded the
aforesaid lay-brother to believe that he would become
a bishop, suggested secretly to this man also that he
should put faith in an omen of this sort. But the Lord,
Who hateth all soothsayings, disposed otherwise than
he had proposed ; for He suffered him to live in the
world for the two years which he had set aside for peni-
tence, and withdrew by His righteous sentence the
twenty years that had been set apart for worldly
delights.



Cuckoo !



239




118.— Cuckoo again!

From Wright's Latin Stories, p. 42. On p. 74 of the same book is a
very interesting pendant, from MS. Reg. 7, E. iv.

CERTAIN woman was sick unto death, and
her daughter said unto her : " Mother, send
for the priest to confess thy sins." To whom
the mother : "To what profit ? If I am
sick to-day, I shall be whole to-morrow, or
the day after." But the daughter, noting how she
grew worse, brought in many neighbours to give her
like warnmg ; to whom she : " What say ye or what
do ye fear ? I shall not die for twelve years. I have
heard a cuckoo who told me so." At length in that
peril of death she grew dumb. Then her daughter sent
for the priest, who came and brought all that was
needed, and coming to her asked whether she wished
to confess anything. But she only said : " Cuckoo ! "
Then when the priest offered her the Lord's Body and
asked again if she believed that He was her Saviour,
again she answered : " Cuckoo ! " The priest there-
fore went home, and soon after she died.




119.— Cfje impenitent ©eretic.

(Caes. Heist. I, 298).

BOUT that time, under Archbishop Reinhold,
many heretics were taken at Cologne, who,
having been examined and convicted by
learned men, were condemned by sentence of
the secular courts. When, therefore, the sen-
tence had been pronounced and they were to be led to
the stake, one of them called Arnold, whom the others
confessed as their master — as those have related who
were there present — begged that bread and a bowl of
water might be given him. Some were willing to grant
this ; but prudent men dissuaded them, lest aught
should thus be done by the devil's work which might



240 A Medieval Garner.

turn to the scandal and ruin of the weaker brethren.
Tf Novice : I wonder what he desired to do with the bread
and water ? ^ Monk : As I conjecture from the words
of another heretic, who some three years since was
taken and burned by the king of Spain, he would fain
have made a sacrilegious communion with them, that
it might be a viaticum to his followers to their eternal
damnation. For there passed by our monastery a
certain Spanish abbot of our Order, who sat with the
Bishop and Prelates of churches to condemn this same
heretic's errors ; and he reported the heretic to have
said that any boor at his own table, and from his own
daily bread, might consecrate the Body of Christ : for
this cursed man was a common blacksmith. \ Novice :
What, then, was done with the heretics at Cologne ?
^ Monk : They were brought out of the city and all
committed to the flames together, hard by the burial-
ground of the Jews. When, therefore, they began to
burn sore, then in the sight and in the hearing of many
this Arnold, already half burned, laid his hand on the
heads of his disciples, saying : " Be ye constant in your
faith, for this day ye shall be with Laurence." — Yet
God knoweth how far they were from the faith of St.
Laurence ! Now there was among them a comely
maiden, but an heretic, who was withdrawn from the
flames by the compassion of certain bystanders, promis-
ing that they would either give her in marriage or place
her, if she preferred, in a convent of nuns. To this
she did indeed consent in words ; but when the heretics
were dead she said to those who held her : " Tell me
where lies that seducer ! " When, therefore, they had
shown her Master Arnold's corpse, she tore herself
from their hands, covered her face in her garment,
fell upon the body of the dead man, and went down
with him to hell, there to bum for ever and ever.



The Storm of Bcziers. 241

1 20.— Cbc ^torm of TBe^iers;.

(Caea. Heist. I, 301).




HE preacher and chief [of this Crusade against
the Albigensians] was Arnold, Abbot of
Citeaux, afterwards Archbishop of Narbonne.
The Crusaders, therefore, came and laid siege
to a great city named Beziers, wherein were
said to be more than 100,000 men. So these heretics,
in the sight of the besiegers, defiled the volume of the
Holy Gospels in such wise as may not be repeated, and
threw it from the wall against the Christians, after
which they shot their arrows and cried, " Behold your
law, ye wretches." But Christ, the Author of the
Gospels, suffered not unavenged this injury inflicted
upon Him, for certain camp-followers, kindled with
the zeal of faith, like lions, even as they of whom it is
written in the Book of Maccabees, laid their ladders to
the wall and went up fearlessly, so that the heretics
were struck with terror from God and fell away from
the walls ; and these first, opening the doors to them
who followed, took possession of the city. Learning,
therefore, from their own confession, that Catholics
were mingled with heretics in the city, they said then
to the Abbot, " What shall we do. Lord ? We cannot
discern between the good and evil." The Abbot
(fearing, as also did the rest, lest they should feign
themselves Catholics from fear of death, and should
return again to their faithlessness after his departure,)
is said to have answered : " Slay them, for God knoweth
His own." So there they were slain in countless
multitudes in that city.*

* Caesarius is the only authority for this incident of the siege, which
happened some 15 or 20 years before he wrote : but the story is perfectly
consistent with what we know from many other orthodox sources.
This same Arnold, for instance, wrote ofi at once to tell the Pope how
" the city of Beziers was stormed, and our men, sparing neither rank,
nor age, nor sex, smote some 20,000 inhabitants with the edge of the
sword." To this Innocent III., good and great man though he was.
replied in terms of triumphant congratulation, exulting that God had




242 A Medieval Garner.



121.— jFasting atiD Conjscicnce.

(Caes. Heist. I, 343, 348).

OVIGE : Do those men sin who, when monks
are out of their cloister, put before them flesh
or fat, or the juice of flesh, and entice them
by some deception to eat the same ? Monk :
They would seem not to sin, if they are urged
to this by the needs of hospitality or, (what is worthier
still) by the fervour of charity. They who eat are
excused from sin by their ignorance or simplicity ;
they who give the flesh, as I have said, by their charity.
Here is an example. Christian of blessed memory,
late Dean of Bonn, a man of upright life and great
learning, who died as a novice in our convent, was most
fervent in the virtue of hospitality. One day he
invited to his table the Abbot of Hemmenrode, Her-
mann, formerly Dean of the Church of the Twelve
Apostles at Cologne, a man as learned and discreet as
himself ; and, since there was no dish prepared without
flesh, he secretly bade his servant take out the bacon
and set the peas before his guest. While the Abbot
simply ate that which was set before him, his fellow-
monk, who was less simple-minded, found in his own
plate a fragment of bacon and showed it to his Abbot ;
who, seeing this, forthwith put away his plate for
conscience' sake. As they went on their way, the
Abbot rebuked the monk for his curiosity, saying,
" Beshrew thee, for thou hast robbed me to-day of my
mess ! If thou hadst kept silence, I should have eaten
in ignorance, and the eating had been no sin."

I remember that Daniel, Abbot of Schoenau, did the
contrary of this. While he was yet Prior of our House,
and was dining at Siegburg with a simple and upright
monk named Gottschalk of VoUmarstein, the brethren

not consumed the heretics with the breath of His nostrils, but had
allowed " as many as possible of the Faithful to earn by their extermina-
tion a well-merited reward," i.e., as he explains lower down, " the
salvation of their souls." Both letters are printed in Innocent's
Register, Bk. xii., Nos. 108 and 136.



Fasting and Conscience. 243

of that monastery set before them pasties fried in lard.*
The Prior soon smelt this and would not eat ; yet he
hindered not his fellow who was eating. When the
dinner was over, and they were licensed to speak,
Gottschalk said, " My Lord Prior, why did ye not eat
of those pasties, for they were most excellent ? " " No
wonder that they were most excellent," answered he,
' for they were most richly fried in lard ! " " Why
then did ye make me no sign ? " said the other ; and
he : " Because I was unwilling to deprive you of your
food. Grieve not, for your ignorance will excuse you."
Now this same Daniel was a learned man, who before
his conversion had been Master of the Schools. II Novice :
I marvel not that monks are sometimes deceived with
gravy and the fat of animals : but it is strange that
some should be so simple as to be misled by the solid
substance : that is, by the flesh itself. \ Monk : I think
that this comes to pass sometimes on account of the
charity of those who minister to them. One day when
St. Theophilus, Bishop of Alexandria, invited several
of the holy Fathers [of the desert] to dine with him,
and set the flesh of fowls before them, they all believed
themselves to be eating pot-herbs, until he himself
betrayed what was in the dishes : not that they had
been bereft of sight and taste, but these had been
changed by God on account of the charity of him who
set the flesh before them. A like deed was done by the
lord Ensfrid, Dean of Sankt Andreas at Cologne, in my
own days. Know this also, that disuse will lessen the
power of discerning by taste between one food and
another ; nor is it cause for marvel that Theobald,
Abbot of Eberbach, who ate no flesh during the fifty-six
years that he spent in our Order, could be deceived
when he ate flesh under the name of fish. Now this
Ensfrid . . . entertained one day some men of Religion ;
whether Cistercians or Praemonstratensians I know not,

* Siegburg was an abbey of ordinary Benedictines, who had long
since ceased to keep the strict rule of St. Benedict forbidding all flesh-
meat except in cases of necessity. The Cistercians themselves commonly
broke this rule in later generations, and the Carthusians were the only
Order which maintained it until the Reformation.



244 A Medieval Garner.

and, having no food such as monks eat, and no fish, he
said to his cook, " We have no fish ; the monks are
simple-minded and hungry ; go and make a stew, take
away all the bones, sharpen well the sauce with pepper,
set it on the table, and say to us, " Eat now of this
excellent turbot." So it was ; and they, as good and
simple men, not marking the pious fraud of their good
and simple host, asking no questions for conscience'
sake and for the sake of the rule of silence at meal-times,
— they, I say, ate that which was set before them as
fish. They had nearly cleared the dish, when one of
them found a swine's ear, and held it up for his fellow
to see : whereupon the Dean answered, feigning some-
what of indignation ; " For God's sake, eat your dinner !
monks should not be so curious ; turbots too have
ears."




122— a ($oon Canon.

(Caes. Heist. I, 345).

NSFRID, Dean of St. Andreas at Cologne,
was born in that same bishopric, a simple and
upright man and foremost in works of mercy.
What his life was before his ordmation to the
priesthood or what he did in his youth I know
not ; but that mercifulness grew and increased with
him I gather from his later acts. That he was of docile
mind and eager to learn was shoAMi by the effect ; for
even in his boyish years he laid so good a foundation of
learning that, as I have heard from his own mouth, he
became Master of the Schools as a mere youth, and
instructed many both in word and in example, not only
to learn but, what is more, to live well. Having been
ordained priest, he received the rectory of a church at
Siegburg, a good parish that is rich in oblations, wherein
he put his learning to effect. The pilgrim remained
not without, for his door was open to the wayfarer.
He was the father of widows, the consoler of orphans,
the snibber of sinners. He nourished many scholars in
his house ; and, being of a dove-like simplicity, at that
season when the cherries were ripe he said to his cellarer :



A Good Canon. 245

" Good man, give the boys leave to climb the trees, that
they may eat of cherries as many as they will and as
they can ; then thou needest to give them no other
food ; for there is no other food wherein they take such
delight." This he said not as a niggard, but from the
abundant kindliness of his heart. When therefore they
had done this for some days, and the freedom given
to the boys pleased their boyish hearts, the cellarer
said to Ensfrid : " Of a truth, my lord, unless these
boys eat other food also, they will soon fail : " where-
fore he straightway suffered himself to be persuaded.
After this he was made canon of the church of St.
Andreas in Cologne ; and not long after, for the good-
ness of his life, he was raised to the Deanery ; where,
although he was of blameless life and strong in the
virtue of chastity, yet was he specially fervent in works
of mercy. In the parish of St. Paul, which adjoins the
church of St. Andrew, there was no poor widow whose
cottage he knew not, and whom he failed to visit with
his alms. So much bread was given from his table to
those who begged from door to door ; so much money
passed from his hands into Christ's treasury — that is,
into the hands of the poor — that many who knew his
annual revenues marvelled thereat. Now he had a
kinsman, Frederick by name, a canon of the same
church, who held the office of cellarer ; this man was
wont oftentimes to rebuke his uncle for his indiscreet
liberality, and the uncle in turn blamed him for his too
great niggardliness ; for they kept house in common,
and therefore Frederick was much grieved that the
Dean was wont to give secretly to the poor whatsoever
he could seize. It came to pass that this Frederick,
having many and great swine in virtue of his office,
slew them and made them into flitches which he hung
in the kitchen to be kept until the time appointed ;
these the dean would oftentimes consider, and, grudging
sore that they should hang there, knowing at the same
time that he could not or dared not beg any part
thereof from his nephew, he contrived a holy fraud, a
pious fraud, a fraud worthy of all memory ! So often
as he knew that no man was in the kitchen, he would



246 A Medieval Garner.

steal secretly thither, and sometimes seize the occasion
to send the servants forth. Then would he mount the
ladder and cut from the flitches on the side next to the
wall until all were wasted away almost to the midst ;
but the forepart he left untouched, that none might
mark how the rest had been taken. This he did for
many days, distributing the flesh thus cut away to
widows, and poor folk, and orphans. In brief, the
theft of this household property was at last discovered,
the thief was sought and found without delay. The
cellarer raged, the dean held his peace ; and when the
other complained that he had lost the sustenance of
the Brethren and the stock of a whole year, the holy
man sought to soothe him with such words as he could,
saying : " Good kmsman, it is better that thou shouldst
suffer some little want than that the poor should die of
hunger. The Lord will mdeed reward thee." At
which words the other was soothed and held his peace.
Another time as he went to St. Gereon's (methinks, on
the feast-day of that martyr,) a poor man followed him
with importunate cries ; and he, having nought to give
him, bade the cellarer who followed him to go on for a
little space : then, retiring apart to the comer hard by



Online LibraryG. G. (George Gordon) CoultonA medieval garner; human documents from the four centuries preceding the reformation → online text (page 21 of 61)