G. G. (George Gordon) Coulton.

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

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the lord Philip, Archbishop of Cologne, fearing for his
life at that court held at Mainz wherein Kmg Frederick
knighted his own sons, chose this Charles for his body-
guard. One day when the same Charles was riding
with the lord Gerhart Wascard from a tournament at
Worms to Mainz, where the lord Philip was, they
lighted upon an excellent fair meadow full of flowers
of every hue and watered by springs and streams,
through which meadow they rode in silence, neither
caring to talk with the other. As they crossed the
meadow each promised to reveal to the other the
thoughts of his heart. One therefore said : "I thought
and considered diligently the marvellous and manifold
delights of this place, and in the end it was revealed to
me that all which seems so green in this world is vain
and unprofitable." Then said the other : " Even thus
was mine own thought." Then each said to the other :
" May these thoughts bring us some profit ! let us go
oversea to Palestine : — but then the things which we
leave here will come back to our mJnds — our noble
horses, the comely ladies, our knightly arms — and our
hearts will be sore, and it may be that our chastity will
suffer harm. What then ? let us go over to these wolf-
cowls of Hemmenrode* and strike a truce of five years
from this haunting of tournaments." So they rode on
with one squire only, made their vow under such condi-
tions, and came back to Cologne ; where, by the devil's
instigation, the whole city blamed their vow. Then
they came to [Manderscheid ?], where Ulrich Fiasco,
who had wished to draw them over the sea, took his
vow and received the habit with them.

* i.e. the grey Cistercian monks.



Apostles by Lot. 259

There Gerhart Wascard lost part of his hand, because
he said that this should rather befal him than that the
least member of the lord Charles (whom he knew to be
a clerk, and by God's grace destined to promotion),
should be hurt. After a brief while this lord Charles
left his parents and his wealth, and with many com-
panions girt himself with the weapons of sacred knight-
hood in the monastery of Hemmenrode ; and so, by
his example and exhortation, did other nobles and
great men both of holy Cologne and even of more
distant lands : namely, Ulrich Fiasco, Gerhart Wascard,
Walther von Birbech, and many others doughty in
worldly warfare and now no less valiant in spiritual
conversation.

127.— Cftc ^in of Cournaments.

(Caes. Heist. II, 327).

11 N the night after the day when the army of
the Duke of Louvain was slaughtered by the
men of Liege, a certain servant of the Count
of Lose, passing by Montenaeken, (which was
the place of slaughter,) about nightfall, saw
there a vast tournament of devils ; and methinks these
unclean spirits vv^ould never have exulted so greatly
but that they had taken some great prey there : for
there is no question but that such as are slain in tourna-
ments go down to hell, if they be not helped by the
benefit of contrition.




1 28.— apostles tjp Hot.

(Caes Heist. II, 129-133).

T is a very common custom among the matrons
of our province to choose an Apostle for their
very own by the following lottery : the names
S of the twelve Apostles are written each on
twelve tapers, which are blessed by the priest
and laid on the altar at the same moment. Then the
woman comes and draws a taper ; and whatsoever
name that taper shall chance to bear, to that Apostle




26o A Medieval Garner.

she renders special honour and service. A certain
matron, having thus drawn St. Andrew, and being
displeased to have drawn him, laid the taper back on
the altar and would have drawn another ; but the
same came to her hand again. Why should I make a
long story ? At length she drew one that pleased her, to
whom she paid faithful devotion all the days of her life ;
nevertheless, when she came to her last end and was
at the point of death, she saw not him but the Blessed
Andrew standing at her bedside. " Lo ! " he said, " I
am that despised Andrew ! " from which we can gather
that sometimes saints thrust themselves even of their
own accord into men's devotion. . . . Another matron,
desiring to have a special Apostle, proceeded after the
same fashion ; but, having drawn the Blessed Jude (as
I think), she cast that taper, apostolic name and all,
behind the altar-chest ; for she would fain have had
one of the more famous Apostles, as St. John the Evan-
gelist or the Blessed James. The other, therefore,
came to her in a dream by night and rebuked her
sternly, complaining that she had displeased him and
cast him shamefully behind the chest ; nor was he ap-
peased even so until he had added stripes to words, for
she lay palsy-stricken on her bed for a whole year long.
T[ Novice. Is it lawful thus to choose Apostles by lot ?
% Monk. It is written that St. Matthew the Apostle was
chosen by lot ; yet not that he should be preferred to
the rest, but that the number of twelve, diminished
through Judas, should be filled up. Nevertheless I
think that lots of this kind have come down by tradition
from the election of St. Matthew. I have heard at
Cologne a learned priest publicly reproving such
elections in church ; "all the Apostles," said he, " are
equally holy, wherefore aU should be equally honoured
by us ; or, if we are to show special honour to any, it
should be in my judgment to the blessed Peter, through
whom our country was converted to the faith, and whom
Christ appointed as a special Apostle to us.*

* St. Bernardino of Siena records with disapproval this lottery of
Apostles for patron-saints {Opera, vol. I., p. 53.) : yet it was in
this way that St. Elizabeth of Hungary chose St. John for her special
Apostle. (J. B. Mencken, Scriptores II. col. 2013.)




The Sacrament as a Charm. 261

129.— Cbe Sacrament as a Cbarm.

(Gaes. Heist. II, 170).

THINK it is less than two years now since a
certain priest who doubted of the sacrament
of Christ's body celebrated mass in the town
of Wildenburg. As he was reciting the canon
of the mass, with some hesitation concerning
so marvellous a conversion of bread into Christ's body,
the Lord showed him raw flesh in the host. This was
seen also by Widekind, a noble standing behind his
back, who drew the priest aside after mass and enquired
diligently what he had done or thought during the
canon ; he, therefore, terrified both by the vision and
by the question, confessed and denied not how at that
hour he had doubted of the sacrament. And each told
the other how he had seen raw flesh in the host. This
same Widekind had to wife the daughter of Siegfried of
Runkel, a niece of the abbess of Rheindorf, who told
me this vision last year. Wouldst thou also know what
the Lord shows to priests of evil life, for that He is
crucified by them ? . . . A certain lecherous priest
wooed a woman ; and, unable to obtain her consent, he
kept the most pure Body of the Lord in his mouth after
mass, hoping that, if he thus kissed her, her will would
be bent to his desire by the force of the Sacrament. But
the Lord, (who complaineth through the mouth of the
Prophet Zacharia saying : " You crucify me daily, even
the whole nation of you : ")* thus hindered his evil
doing. When he would fain have gone forth from the
church door, he seemed to himself to grow so huge that
he struck his head against the ceiling of the sacred
building. The wretched man was so startled that he
drew the host from his mouth, and buried it, not
knowing what he did, in a corner of the church, t But,
fearing the swift vengeance of God, he confessed the
sacrilege to a priest his familiar friend. So they went
together to the place and threw back the dust, where

* Caesarius here misquotes Malaclii iii. 9, with a side reference to
Zachariah xii. 10 : cf. the 27th anecdote of his 8th book.
■\ Churches were very commonly unpaved at this date.



262 A Medieval Garner.

they found not the appearance of bread, but the shape,
though small, of a man hanging on the cross, fleshy
and blood-stained. What was afterwards done with it,
or what the priest did, I forget, for it is long since this
was told me by Hermann our Cantor, to whom the
story was fairly well-known. . . . '^Novice. If all priests
heard such stories, and believed in them, I think that
they would honour the Divine Sacraments more than
they do now. ^ Monk. It is somewhat pitiful that we
men, for whose salvation this sacrament was instituted,
should be so lukewarm about it ; while brute beasts,
worms, and reptiles recognize in it their Creator. . . .
A certain woman kept many bees, which throve not,
but died in great numbers ; and, as she sought every-
where for a remedy, it was told her that if she placed
the Lord's Body among them, this plague would soon
cease. She therefore went to church and, making as
though she would communicate, took the Lord's Body,
which she took from her mouth as soon as the priest
had departed, and laid it in one of her hives. Mark the
marvellous power of God ! These little worms, recog-
nizing the might of their Creator, built for their sweetest
Guest, out of their sweetest honeycombs, a tiny chapel
of marvellous workmanship, wherein they set up an
altar of the same material and laid thereon this most
holy Body : and God blessed their labours. In process
of time the woman opened this hive, and was aware of
the aforesaid chapel ; whereupon she hastened and
confessed to the priest all that she had done and seen.
Then he took with him his parishioners and came to the
hive, where they drove away the bees that hovered
round and buzzed in praise of their Creator ; and,
marvelling at the little chapel with its walls and
windows, roof and tower, door and altar, they brought
back the Lord's Body with praise and glory to the
church. For though God be marvellous in the saints,
yet these His smallest creatures preached Him yet
more marvellously. Yet, lest any presume to do this
again, I will tell thee of a terrible thing which the
mistress [of novices] at Sankt Nicolas Insel* told me

* A convent of Augustinian nuns on an island in the Moselle.



The Sacrament as a Charm. 263

last year. There was in that island a demoniac girl,
a lay-woman, whom I also have seen there. A certain
priest inquired of the devil that was in her,* why
Hartdyfa of Cochem had been so cruelly tormented for
so long a time ; and the demon answered through the
girl's mouth, " Why ? she hath well and abundantly
deserved it ; for she sowed the Most High on her
cabbage-beds." The priest understood not this saying,
nor would the devil explain it further ; he therefore
sought out the woman Hartdyfa and told her of the
devil's words, warning her not to deny if she understood
them. She confessed her fault forthwith, saying " I
understand only too well ; but I have never yet told it
to any man. When I was young, and had got me a
garden-plot to till, I took in a wandering woman one
night as my guest : to whom when I complained of the
ravage of my garden, telling how my cabbages were
eaten up with caterpillars, she replied, " I will teach
thee a good remedy. Take thou the Lord's Body and
crumble it up and sprinkle the crumbs over thy
cabbages ; so shall that plague cease forthwith." I,
\^Tetched woman, caring more for my garden than for
the Sacrament, having received the Lord's Body at
Easter, took it from my mouth and used it as she had
taught me, which did indeed turn to the comfort of
my cabbages, but to mine own torment, as the devil
hath said. ^ Novice. That woman was more cruel than
Pilate's minions, who spared the dead Jesus and would
not break His bones. ^ Monh. Wherefore even to this
day she is punished for that enormous fault, and her
tortures are unheard-of. Let those who turn God's
sacraments to temporal profit — or, more abominable
still, to witchcraft — mark well this chastisement, even
though they fear not the guilt, t

* Many of Caesarius' anecdotes rest upon this medieval belief that
mad folk had the spirit of prophecy, the devil speaking through their
mouths.

\ This 8th Book of Caesarius contains many other tales of this abuse
of sacraments for purposes of witchcraft ; but the foregoing specimens
will suffice for most readers.




264 A Medieval Garner.



130.— HDrtieal anti a^itacle,

(Caes. Heist. II, 243).

OM Bernard of Lippe, who was once an abbot
and is now a bishop in Livonia, is wont to tell
a miracle contrary to this last. " I knew, (he
said,) a fisher in the bishopric of Utrecht who
had long lived incontinently with a certain
woman ; and, because his sin was too notorious, fearing
one day to be accused at the synod then impending, he
said within himself : ' What wilt thou now do, poor
wretch ? If thou art accused of incontinence in this
synod and must confess, thou wilt forthwith be com-
pelled to take her to wife ; or if thou denyest it thou
wilt be convicted by the ordeal of white-hot iron and
be still more confounded.' So, coming forthwith to a
priest (rather, as the event showed, from fear of punish-
ment than from love of righteousness), he confessed his
sin, asked counsel, and found it. ' If,' said the priest,
' thou hast a firm purpose never to sin again with her,
then thou mayest carry the white-hot iron without
further care and deny thy sin ; for I hope that the
virtue of confession will free thee.' And this he did, to
the amazement of all who well knew his incontinence.
Lo ! here by God's power, as in former examples, the
fire restrained its force against its own nature ; and,
as thou shalt hear later, it grew hot even more marvel-
lously against its nature. To be brief, the man was
absolved. Many days afterwards, as he rowed with
another fisher at his work on the river, and the house of
the aforesaid woman came in sight, then the other
said unto him : ' I marvel greatly, and many marvel
with me, wherefore the iron burned thee not at the
sjmod, though thy sin was so notorious.' He, boasting
unworthily of the grace that had been conferred on
him (for he had already conceived the purpose of
sinning again), smote the river- water with his hand
and said : ' The fire hurt me no more than this water ! '
Mark the marvellous justice of God ! He who had
guarded the penitent in His mercy, punished now by



Ordeal and Miracle. 265

a just and strange miracle the same man when he
relapsed : for no sooner had he touched the water than
it was to him as white-hot iron. He drew back his
hand suddenly and cried aloud ; but he left his skin in
the water. Then, in tardy repentance, he told his
comrade all that had befallen him."

Our fellow-monk Lambert was wont to tell a like
miracle to this. A countryman who had a feud against
another gave money to a certain wicked man of the
Order of wandering Religious, (whereof there are
many,) that he might burn the other's house ; which
this man, entering under the cloak of religion, set afire
at a convenient time. Again this abandoned wretch,
forgetful of the hospitality he had received, set fire to
the same house for the same bribe, after that it had
been rebuilt. The master, troubled at this double loss,
accused all of whom he had any suspicion, but they
purged themselves by the ordeal of white-hot iron.
Again the burned house was rebuilt ; and this iron
which had been used for the ordeal was thrown into
one corner of it. To be brief, that false religious
vagrant came again, corrupted by his former covetous-
ness, and was received with all kindness. He marked
the aforesaid iron and asked what purpose it served :
to which his host answered : "I know not who has
tAvice set fire to my house ; and, though I had suspicion
of certain men, they have borne that iron at white-heat
and yet were not burned." Then said the other : " The
iron might be turned to some use " : and lifting it up (as
God would have it) he was so burned in the hand that
he cried aloud and cast it down. When the master of
the house saw this, he caught the incendiary by the
cloak and cried : " Thou art the true culprit ! " The
man was taken before the judge, confessed his crime
imwillingly, and was condemned to be broken upon
the wheel.




266 A Medieval Garner.

131.— a 6|^an0ion in 5)cat)en.

(Caes. Heist. II, 279).

CERTAIN monk of our Order, who loved our
Lady well, was rapt in the spirit a few years
ago and carried off to behold the glory of
heaven, where he saw the divers Orders of the
Church Triumphant — angels and patriarchs,
prophets and apostles, martyrs and confessors, all
marked with the plain character of their Order, whether
Canons Secular or Regular, Praemonstratensians or
Cluniacs. He, therefore, being anxious for his own
Order, standing and gazing around and seeing none
with the Cistercian habit in all that glory, looked up
groaning to the Blessed Mother of God and said : " How
is it, most holy Lady, that I see none of our Order in
this place ? Wherefore are your servants, who honour
3^ou so devoutly, shut out from so blessed a company ? "
The Queen of Heaven, seeing his trouble, answered :
" Those of the Cistercian Order are so beloved and so
familiar to me that I cherish them even under my
arms " : whereupon, throwing open the cloak wherein
she seemed to be wrapped, and which was wondrous
wide, she showed him an innumerable multitude
of monks, lay-brethren, and nuns. He, therefore,
triumphant and thankful, returned to the body and
told his Abbot all that he had seen and heard.*

* Tliis is a type of story wliicli was current in more than one Order :
the Franciscans sometimes boasted that their own blessed were privi-
leged to nestle within the wound of the Saviour's side. These are
unquestionably the stories which are so cruelly parodied in Chaucer's
Pardoner^ s Prologue.

132— an CDil morlD.

Caes. Heist. II, 304).

jN Clairvaux is a certain priest named William,
of whom I have already told, and to whom
many secrets are revealed from heaven. This
very year, as he stood in prayer, he fell into an
ecstasy of mind and was taken up to Christ's
Judgment-seat, where he saw an angel with a trumpet



w


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m


MH


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An Evil World. 267

standing at the Lord's right hand ; to whom Christ, in
a clear voice and in the hearing of all the hosts of
heaven, said : " Sound now a blast ! " which when the
angel had done, so mighty was the voice of that trumpet
that the whole world seemed to tremble like a leaf on a
tree. When therefore Christ said for the second time :
" Blow ye again : " then the Virgin Mary, IVIother of
Mercy, knowing that at the second blast the world
must come to an end, and seeing that the other saints
held their peace, arose and fell at the feet of her Son
and besought Him to defer His sentence and spare the
world. To whom Christ answered : " Mother, the
whole world is seated in wickedness, and it provoketh
Me daily to wrath, so that I may not with justice either
suspend My sentence or spare mankind. Not only the
lay-folk, but even the clergy and monks have utterly
corrupted their ways, and offend me from day to day ! "
Then said she : " Spare them, my beloved Son, spare
them, and if not for their sake, at least for the sake of
my friends of the Cistercian Order, that they may
prepare themselves." . . . ^Novice. This vision agreeth
with the miracle already told, whereki the image of the
Mother of God is said to have sweated for fear of the
impending Day of Judgment. ^ Monk. That the Day
of Judgment is at our gates is shown by earthquakes in
divers places, and other signs whereof we have spoken
above ; but it is an exceeding consolation that the
Saviour, when these things begin to come to pass, warns
the righteous, saying : " Look up and lift up your
heads : because your redemption is at hand."*

* This vision is a type of many wliicli are recorded in the Cistercian,
Dominican, and Franciscan Orders. One even more startling is to be
found at the beginning of the Dominican Lives of the Brethren (trans.
J. P. Conway, pp. 1, fi. : better in the original VitcB Fratrum, ed.
Keichert, pp. 6 ff.). In these, the part of the Virgin Mary is still further
magnified : in one of them it is she who chooses out St. Francis and St.
Dominic to save the world, and Christ only asks to see who it is that
she has chosen.



2 68 A Medieval Garner.

Rolandino of Padua was born in 1200, studied at Bologna, and
became a renowned notary in his native city. He began his Chronicle
in 1260, and read it publicly two years later, with great applause, before
the University of Padua. He died in 1276. The following extract is
from Bk. I., chap. XIII. (Muratori. Scriptt. Ital, VIII., 180.)

133.— Cbe Castle of louc.




N the year 1214 Albizzo da Fiore was Podesta
of Padua, a prudent and discreet man, cour-
teous, gentle, and kindly ; who, though in his
government he was wise, lordly, and astute,
yet loved mirth and solace. In the days
of his office they ordained at Treviso a Court of Solace
and Mirth, whereunto many of Padua were called,
both knights and footmen. Moreover, some dozen of
the noblest and fairest ladies, and the fittest for such
mirth that could be found in Padua, went by invitation
to grace that Court. Now the Court, or festivity, was
thus ordered. A fantastic castle was built and garri-
soned with dames and damsels and their waiting-
women, who without help of man defended it with all
possible prudence Now this castle was fortified on
all sides with skins of vair and sable, sendals, purple
cloths, samites, precious tissues, scarlet, brocade of
Bagdad, and ermine. What shall I say of the golden
coronets studded with chrysolites and jacinths, topaz
and emeralds, pearls and pointed headgear, and all
manner of adornments wherewith the ladies defended
their heads from the assaults of the beleaguerers ?
For the castle itself must needs be assaulted ; and the
arms and engines wherewith men fought against it
were apples and dates and muscat-nuts, tarts and
pears and quinces, roses and lilies and violets, and vases
of balsam or ambergris or rosewater, amber, camphor,
cardamums, cinnamon, cloves, pomegranates, and all
manner of flowers or spices that are fragrant to smell
or fair to see. Moreover, many men came from Venice
to this festival, and many ladies to pay honour to that
Court ; and these Venetians, bearing the fair banner
of St. Mark, fought with much skill and delight. Yet
much evil may spring sometimes from good beginnings ;



The Castle of Love.



269



for, while the Venetians strove in sport with the
Paduans, contending who should first press into the
castle gate, then discord arose on either side ; and
(would that it had never been !) a certain unwise
Venetian who bare the banner of St. Mark made an
assault upon the Paduans with fierce and wrathful




A CASTLE OF LOVE.

From a carved ivory casket of the 13tb century (A. Scliultz, Hofisches Lehen, i, 449).

mien ; which when the Paduans saw, some of them
waxed wroth in turn and laid violent hands on that
banner, wherefrom they tore a certain portion ; which
again provoked the Venetians to sore wrath and
indignation. So the Court or pastime was forthwith
broken up at the bidding of the other stewards of the
court and of the lord Paolo da Sermedaula, a discreet



270 A Medieval Garner.

Paduan citizen of great renown who was then King of
the Knights of that court, and to whom with the other
stewards it had been granted, for honour's sake, that
they should have governance and judgment over ladies
and knights and the whole Court. Of this festival
therefore we might say in the words of the poet, " The
sport begat wild strife and wrath ; wrath begat fierce
enmities and fatal war." For in process of time the
enmity between Paduans and Venetians waxed so
sore that all commerce of trade was forbidden on either
side, and the confines were guarded lest anything
should be brought from one land to the other : then
men practised robberies and violence, so that discord
grew afresh, and wars, and deadly enmity.



The Lateran Council in 1215, and the growing influence of the Friars,
undoubtedly made for a somewhat stricter standard among the parish
clergy. In the great Synod of Oxford, held by Archbishop Stephen
Langton in 1222, Archdeacons are bidden " to see on their visitations
that the Canon of the Mass is amended, and that the priests can properly
pronounce at least the words of the Canon and of baptism, and that they
rightly understand this part [of the service books]." Similar decrees
were repeated by Enghsh Church Councils down to the Reformation.
It was the same in other countries : e.g. the Council of Beziers in 1233
provided that none should receive the clerical tonsure who could not



Online LibraryG. G. (George Gordon) CoultonA medieval garner; human documents from the four centuries preceding the reformation → online text (page 23 of 61)