G. G. (George Gordon) Coulton.

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

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and fixed them upon the trunk overhead. Then they
would withdraw so far that the candles might burn out
and that they themselves might neither see nor hear
the wailing babe ; and thus these white-hotf candles
would oftentimes burn the children alive, as we found
there in certain cases. Moreover one woman told me
how, when she had called upon the hobgoblins and was
withdrawing from the spot, she saw a wolf come forth
from the forest towards the child, whom he would have
devoured (or a devil in wolf's form, as she said), if her

* This is evidently what Etienne means by his " hoc facto, accipie-
hant matricide puerum, etc., etc."

f So the text has it, candentes ; but Etienne probably wrote cadentes,
" falling."

3o8 A Medieval Garner.

motherly love had not driven her to prevent him. If
therefore, returning to the child, they found him still
living, then they would take him to a stream of rushing
water hard by, called Chalaronne, wherein nine times
they plunged that child, who indeed must needs have
the toughest of bowels to escape this ordeal, or at least
not to die soon afterwards. Wherefore we went to
that place, and called together the folk of that country,
and preached against this custom. We caused the
dead hound to be dug up, and the grove to be cut down
and burned together with the dog's bones ; and we
persuaded the lords of that country to issue an edict
threatening confiscation and public sale against all who
should thenceforth resort to that same place for this
purpose. *

* The Editor notes that the worship of St. Guinefort is still said to
survive among the women of the district round Komans, though with-
out these cruelties, (for which compare Extract 44). The legend
is of course a variant of that of Gelert, which can be traced to the East.

152.— TBop arcl)lieacon0.

(Bourb., p. 352).

CERTAIN bishop, having received a gift of
a basket of pears, asked of them who sat at
meat with him, to whose custody he should
commit them. His young nephew, to whom
he had even then committed an archdeaconry,
answered and said, " I will keep the pears." To whom
his uncle answered, " Thou rascal ! ill wouldest thou
keep them ! " Then said a certain honest man who
was there present, " wTetch ! How hast thou dared
to commit an archdeaconry of so many souls to this
youth, to whom thou daredst not commit a basket of
pears ? " As a common proverb hath it, " The wolf
waxeth fat on evil guardianship."




Fair Ladies. 309

From a 13th Century MS. printed in Reliquiae Antiquae, I., 162. Id
commence la geste des dames.

153.— a Eftpme of jFair latiie0.

HAT shall we say of the ladies when they come
to feasts ? Each marks well the other's
head ; they wear bosses like horned beasts,
and if any have no horns, she is a laughing
stock for the rest. Their arms go merrily
when they come into the room ; they display their
kerchiefs of silk and cambric, set on their buttons of
coral and amber, and cease not their babble so long
as they are in the bower. There they send for brewis
and sit down to dine ; they put aside their wimples
to open their mouths ; if a wanton squire would enter
at that moment, he could not well fail of privy mockery.
Two nimble valets have their hands full with serving
all these ladies, each to her own fancy : the one is
busy fetching their meats from the kitchen, and the
other drawing good wine from the buttery. When
therefore they have dined at their good leisure, then
they herd together to babble in secret ; one tickles
the other's heart, if by chance she may entice some
secret from thence. Then, when dinner-hour is come,
they descend the steps and trip daintily into the hall
hand in hand ; then doth a man see so many of the
fair creatures together, that he may not pass the day
without sighing for them ! But when they are set
down to meat, they touch no morsel of all that is
spread before them ; right coyly they sit there and
show their faces ; she whom men most gaze upon is she
who bears away the prize. When therefore they have
shown all that is in front, then they find some occasion
to sweep the bench-backs, that men may see the costly
workmanship on their backs, which was hidden in front.
When they arise from table (I say not from meat, for
they have eaten but little and yet have well dined)
then go they to their bower to entertain each other
with subtleties of needlework whereof they love to
talk ; then comes up the frilled work and the open-

3IO A Medieval Garner.

work, the German and the Saracen work, the pinched
work, the scalloped and the wool-work, the perroun*
and the melice and the diaper-work, the rod-work, and
the peynet and the gernettee ; nor is the double samite
forgotten, nor do they fail to handle again and again
the redener-work. She who knows most of these
things shall be their lecturess, to whom the rest hearken
without sluggardy ; none sleeps here as they do at
mass, for all are cheerful champions in these lists of
vanity. Then go they homewards, back from the
feast ; and forthwith they put away their sleek and
comely heads ; she who was even now so fresh, becomes
so restive that the merchant repents the day when he
bought this beast. Then they play the folly that costs
so dear ; for, when they are bidden again to some feast,
then for a long while before they are busy unravelling
their wreaths and plaited tresses, to make all new
again. Thus all their heraldry is changed, both field
and device : here they put beads where spangles were
before, they cut up a lion and make thereof a soaring
eagle, or pare a swan into the form of a hare couchant.
But, however well their attire be fashioned, when the
feast is come it pleases them nought ; so great is their
envy now and so high grows their pride, that the
bailiff's daughter counterfeits the lady.

Id finit la geste des dames.

* Several of these Anglo-Norman terms of millinery are difficult to
identify nowadays.

I give here a typical series of documents which throw instructive side-
lights on church life in the Middle Ages, The reports given here are
neither the best nor the worst of their kind. The Rouen record is the
earliest known to me, and that of York the latest ; the Exeter visita-
tions are, as human documents, perhaps the most vivid of all that have
survived. Others abnost equally interesting may be found not only
in the Rouen, Exeter, and York volumes here quoted, but also in the
Visitations of Southwell (Camden Soc), Ripon Chapter Acts (Surtees
Soc), Beverley Chapter Act Book (Ibid.), and several episcopal registers.
Archbishop Odo Rigaldi of Rouen (for whom see also p. 139 of this

Rouen Cathedral 3 1 1

present volume) was one of the greatest reforming prelates of the
Middle Ages, and Grandisson of Exeter one of the most energetic
English bishops of the 14th century.

155.— a Catbcrital Visitation.

Rouen Cathedral. (March 19, 1248 Regestrum Visitationum
Odonis Rigaldi, Ed. Bonnin, p. 35.)

E visited the Chapter of Rouen, and found
that they talk in choir contrary to rule.*
The Clergy wander about the church, and talk
in the church with women, during the cele-
bration of divine service. The Statute regard-
ing the entrance [of lay folk] into the choir is not kept.
The psalms are run through too rapidly, without due
pauses. The statute concerning going out at the Office
of the Dead is not kept. In begging leave to go forth,
they give no reason for so going. Moreover, the
clergy leave the choir without reason, before the end
of the service already begun ; and, to be brief, many
other of the statutes written on the board in the vestry
are not kept. The chapter revenues are mismanaged
[male tractantur].

With regard to the clergy themselves, we found that
Master Michael de Bercy is ill-famed of incontinence ;
item Sir Benedict, of incontinence ; item. Master William
de Salemonville of incontinence, theft, and man-
slaughter ; item, master John de St-L6, of incontinence.
Item, master Alan, of tavern-haunting, drunkenness,
and dicing. Item, Peter de Auleige, of trading. Master
John Bordez is ill-famed of trading ; and it is said
that he giveth out his money to merchants, to share
in their gain.t Of our own free will we have denounced

* Great churches had generally special statutes against talking
among the ministers during divine service : sometimes, however, the
prohibition extends only to too distant conversations. At the collegiate
church of Mortagne, for instance, it was forbidden to talk as far off as to
the third stall, but the Cathedral statutes of Meaux (1240 a.d.) are
more indulgent : " Let none speak in choir loud enough to be heard
from one stall so far as to the fourth stall following in the same row."
(See p. 233 of tliis Regestrum, and note 2.)

f Clerical trading was of course forbidden in any case, but in this
case there was usury, and therefore mortal sin.

312 A Medieval Garner.

these persons aforesaid to the archdeacons of Greater
and Lesser Calais ; and the Chapter is bound to correct
these offences through the aforesaid archdeacons, or
through other officials, before the Assumption of the
Blessed Virgin [Aug. 15] ; otherwise (we said), we
ourselves would forthwith set our hands on the business,
as we have notified to them by letter ; and it is for
them to let us know how the corrections have been made.

155.— another.

Exeter Cathedral, f October 15, 1330 (Mandate from Bishop
Grandisson^to the Dean and Subdean : Register of John de Grandisson,
ed. Hingeston-Randolph, p. 586.)

|E have learned from the lips of men worthy
of credit, not without grave displeasure, that
certain Vicars and other Ministers of our
Cathedral Church — to the offence of God and
the notable hindrance of divine service and
their own damnation and the scandal of our Cathedral
Church aforesaid — fear not to exercise irreverently and
damnably certain disorders, laughings, gigglings, and
other breaches of discipline, during the solemn services
of the church ; which is shameful to relate and horrible
to hear. To specify some out of many cases, those
who stand at the upper stalls in the choir, and have
lights within their reach at mattins, knowingly and
purposely throw drippings or snuffings from the candles
upon the heads or the hair of such as stand at the lower
stalls, with the purpose of exciting laughter and perhaps
of generating discord, or at least rancour of heart and
silent hatred among the ministers (which God forfend !),
at the instigation of the enemy of mankind, who (as
we find by experience) knoweth and striveth to create
the greatest evils not from unlawful or greater occasions
only, but even from the least and most lawful. Item,
whereas some ministers do sometimes (and, as we
grieve to say, too often) commit plain faults in singing
or reading incorrectly, then others who know better.

Exeter Cathedral. 313

(and who should rather have compassion on the ignorant
and bewail the defects of their brethren), break out,
in the hearing of many, into this speech of imprecation
and derision in the vulgar tongue : " Cursed be he
who told the last lie ! "* Item, some whose heart is
in the market-place, street, or bed, though their body
be in the choir, seeking for their own part to hasten
through God's work negligently and fraudulently, or
to draw others as accomplices mto the same fault, —
these (I say) will sometimes cry aloud in the English
tongue to the very officiant himself, or to others,
commanding and enjoining them to make haste. Item,
sometimes, commencing the service off-hand, sorne
show no sort of shame in beginning again and again
one service, while others begin another, (as for instance
an Anthem or Responsory or suchlike), with the
accompaniment of quarrels and discords. There is
yet another sin less of commission than of omission,
which hath here become a rooted custom, and whereto
in the past (if ye remember), we ourselves personally
brought what we thought to be a sufficient remedy,
not only by plain admonitions but by alluring indul-
gences, yet which hath now broken out yet worse
through men's negligence : namely, that very few
remain in the Choir during the Mattins of Mary, that
Blessed, Glorious, and Sweetest Mother of Mercy, not
considering that (though perchance some may say
them more distinctly outside, as some judge of them-
selves, than together in the Choir, on account of the
murmurs and tumult of divers and discordant voices,)
yet to God and His Blessed Mother the gift of prayers
offered by all together is incomparably more acceptable
than the same prayers said or chanted separately in
streets and corners, both as commending the unity of
the Church, and also for the humble observance of
the custom, statute, and precept, and on account of
the presentation (as the Apostle saith) of many faces,

* Cf. the Conies Moralises of the contemporary English Franciscan
Nicole Bozon (Ed. Toulmin Smith, 1889, p. 207), where the friar tells
of a son who read the lesson ill in church : " then said his father, ' In
truth thou liest concerning God.' "


314 A Medieval Garner.

and because it may chance that each deserveth not
to be heard by himself, yet no faithful man doubteth
that he may be helped by the accordant prayers of
persons acceptable to God as there present in common
with him. Moreover, if sedulous and spontaneous
diligence were here brought to bear, with but a little
further expense of time, those praises would be duly
and distinctly and meritoriously rendered to God
which can scarce be satisfactorily paid in this present
fashion. Wherefore, stirring up and inciting your duty,
we beseech, enjoin, charge, and command your discre-
tion and devotion to read and expound these present
letters of ours, on three separate days, in the Chapter-
house, to the Vicars and Ministers of our Cathedral ;
that ye may strive to admonish and induce and persuade
them to abstain from the aforesaid faults and exercise
themselves in good. Such as obey not must be sternly
constrained first by due subtraction of their salaries ;
and those who still remain obstinate and rebellious, by
sentence of excommunication (if they knowingly refuse
to correct themselves), and lastly by actual banishment
from the Cathedral ; that their blood may rather be
sprinkled on their own heads than be required at our
hands by the Almighty Shepherd and Judge. Strive
now so sedulously to fulfil this our present prayer and
mandate, that ye may thereby reap up for yourselves
a richer grace in the present, and everlasting glory for
the future. Fare ye well.

156.— another.

Exeter Cathedral, Dec, 16, 1333. (Mandate to the Subdean and
Canon William de Nassyngtone : Register, p. 723.)

E have learned from the lips of men worthy
of credit, not without grave displeasure, that
certain Vicars and other Ministers of our
Cathedral, to the offence of God and the
grievous hindrance of Divine Service, and to
the scandal of our Cathedral church itself, fear not irrev-
erently and damnably to exercise disorders, laughter,

Exeter Cathedral. 3 1 5

gigglings, and other breaches of discipline, even with
masks on their faces, by which obscene orgies of gesti-
culations they make vile the honour of the clergy
before the eyes of the people. Wherefore we, having
no small affection to the honour of God's house through
the office committed to us, and willing to guard for
the future against such wanton disorders, enjoin and
command strictly to you, all and severally, appealing
to your devotion, that, having called the said Vicars
and Ministers to your presence upon receipt of these
present Letters, ye do without delay publish this our
mandate with all that is therein contained, and forbid
them all and singly, in our name, ever again to presume
to exercise the aforesaid or similar disorders, if they
would fain escape from due canonical punishment.

157.— anotjjer.

Exeter Cathedral, with the Collegiate Churches of Ottery
St. Mary, Creditou, and Glasney. (Mandate dated Jan. 7, 1360-1 :
Register, p. 1213.)

OHN [etc.] Bishop of Exeter, to his beloved
sons in Christ, [etc.] wishing them health and
honesty of clerical manners. It hath come
to our knowledge, not without grievous amaze-
ment and displeasure of heart, that for these
past years and some years precedent, at the most holy
solemnities of Christ's Nativity, and the feasts of St.
Stephen, St John the Apostle and Evangelist, and the
Innocents, when all faithful Christians are bound to
busy themselves the more devoutly and quietly in
praise of God and in Church Services, certain Ministers
of our aforesaid Church, together with the boys, not
only at Mattins and Vespers and other Hours, but also
(which is more detestable) during the solemnity of the
Mass, have rashly presumed, putting the fear of God
behind them, after the pernicious example of certain
[other] Churches, to associate together within the
Church itself and play certain foolish and noxious

3i6 A Medieval Garner.

games, unbecoming to clerical honesty : — nay, rather,
to conduct detestable mockeries of Divine Service :
wherein they have in many fashions defiled the Vest-
ments and other Ornaments of the Church, to the no
small damage and disgrace of this same church and of
ourselves, with spatterings of vile and drunken
[. . . .]*. By whose gestures, or laughter and derisive
gigglings, not only are the congregation (who at those
times, according to Catholic custom, do most especially
flock to the Church,) distracted from their due devotion,
but they are also dissolved in disorderly laughter and
unlawful pleasures, the Divine worship is mocked, and
the Service wickedly impeded : whereby that which
was first invented to excite and increase the devotion
of the faithful is by such disorders converted — or
rather perverted — ^to the irreverence and contempt of
God and His Saints, not without guilt of blasphemy.
We therefore, no longer able to wink at such abominable
abuses or pass them by without remedy, enjoin and
command you, under pain of suspension and excom-
munication, to desist henceforth altogether from such
disorders and mockeries, and to permit none such here-
after to be practised in the aforesaid church ; but
rather set your minds more devoutly than usual to
conduct the Divine Service, as the reverence due to
those days doth itself require. And, lest henceforth
any ignorance avail to excuse you in this matter, we
command you, the Warden, t solemnly to pubhsh these
present Letters before the impending feast of Christmas,
in the presence of all the Ministers, and to cause these
same letters, lest they fall into oblivion, to be transcribed
into four or five of the Church books most commonly
used ; but if any shall presume to contravene this our

* As the editor points out, there is an evident corruption of the text
here : it reads vilium scilicet scenulentorumque sparsione multipliciter
deturpando. I have taken scenulentorumque as a clerical error for
temulentorumque, and assumed the loss of one or two words before

f Of Ottery St. Mary. The same letter, (it is noted in the register)
was sent " with the exception of a few changes " to the Dean and
Chapter of Exeter and the authorities of Crediton and Glasney.

York Minster. 3^7

mandate, cite him or cause him to be cited peremptorily
to appear before us on the third lawful day after the
aforesaid Feasts, to answer for this so rash presumption
and to receive condign punishment.

158.— another.

York Minster. 1519 a.d. In printing this last visitation in its
original spelling, as a specimen of ecclesiastical English shortly before
the Reformation, I have thought it best to save the reader trouble by
appending a special glossary. Most of the words, however strange to
the modern eye, become at once intelligible when read aloud. The
Report mav be found, in company with a great many others, in York
Fabric Rolls (Surtees Soc, vol. 35, p. 267.) The Editor notes that he
has omitted the frequent complaints against the characters of the
officiants. -i. '^*iL'*ili§^,^^!-f2i :*..*;'■■ '

DXIX. — EccLES. Cath. Ebor. 'Imprimis at
the renewynge of the sacrament there
wantethe a torche, and a clerke of ye vestre
in his surples for the renovation of the same.
Item we fynde grete neclygense of ye decons
and clerkis of ye vestre yt the mesbuke is not clasped,
wherby a fayre boke is nye lost. Item how one [of]
ye basyns afor the heghauter wt ij candelse afor our
Lady, of the southesyde, should be lighte all tymes of
serves, which is sum tyme not done. Item the goodly
reyredewse is so full of dust and copwebbes that by
lyklyode it shalbe shortly lost wtoute it be clensed &
better keppte than it hathe bene. Item the litile
awterse is so ragged and torne that it were grete shame
to se suche in any uplandyshe towne. Item the sudary
that the colet holdes the patan in is to shamefull to be
sene about the holy sacrament in suche a place. Item
the cophynse in the where, as rectors of ye where sitte,
the folkes yt be pylgrams and straungers wonderse to
se suche in yt place & yet yer wantes one. Item all the
hangynges of ye where lyeth opynly in the presbitory,
dogges pysses of thame, wax droppys of thame, & the
mynysters put furthe of yer rowmes. Item ye clothe
yt coverse ye reyredewse is of party colors, whiche is

3i8 A Medieval Garner.

not honeste for straungers to luke upon. Item the
bokes of the where be caduke & yll, & so false yt [they]
oftyn tymes makethe the vycars to make grete dyscorde
in the where. Item if the lettron in the chapitor were
skowred and set in myddys of the hye where, and the
roste yerne in the same where set in ye chapitour,
we thynke shulde do well.

The Vestry. Inprimis there wantethe towelse for
the ebdomaodry to wype of daly. Item the lavitory
in the vestry, where we resayve our water, it is stopped,
& every mane, on efter an other, puttethe and wasshethe
there crowet in a bukket wt water, whiche by ye same
maner is corrupped, and so usethe we wt the same, and
all in defawte of dressyng of ye pullye & stoppynge of
the synke whiche were sone amendyd. Item a goodly
well in the crowdes, whiche hathe bene used in old
tyme & dyde grete goode what tyme as the churche
was borned, whiche wantethe no thynge bot a pully
& a rope, and the dore of the same is kepte lokkyd &
no man nor woman can do there devotion in that place
to our Lady. Item the vestiary, there is a chest full
of suspent stuffe yt will make parores, amettes, coshyns,
& to amende many usuall thynges in ye where, and
such as ye secunde forme weres nowe is all so torne
whiche tha walde amend well for every day. Item
the albys for preists, many of thame be torne & made
so straite both in the bodes and slevys, that men cannot
get thame on bot wt grete payne. Item the heghe
awter is nowe served both ix lessons and dowbill fests
all in lyke, there is ordande chaunge for bothe bot tha
will not be had. Item the chylder cummethe abowte
the awter sum in one colour and some in an other,
wt vyle and unclenly albys nothynge sortynge accor-
dynge to ye day. Item the cause this is not amended,
in amendynge of copes, chysables, tunakles and such
othere, it is not knawne who shulde pay for thame,
where John Loksm3rfche is unpaid for the same amen-
dynge, of his awn proper use, and not of the churche
coste : if it were knowne whethere ye clerk of ye warke
or the chaumberlane shuld do it we trust tha shulde be
better looked on. Item the amendynge of the dalma-

York Minster. 3^9

tykes for ye Advent & Septuagesym myghte be done
wt a Utile cost, whi^he nowe mosters away & not
occupied. Item the lettron wherupon the gospell is
red is moisterd away & faullyn downe, whiche specially
wold be amendid by cause it is in opyn sighte. Item,
specially, we beseche youe, that ye revestre may be
keppte after ye old facion, that the dure may be kepte
opyn as hathe bene frome the begynnynge of matens
unto xj of ye cloke. Nowe, oftyn tymes, the dure
is stokked, and we parsons & vicars cannot get brede,
wyne nor water, when we be redy & makethe us to
say no masse for watynge of the where. Item we
find grete faute the churche walles be full of copwebbys
& aU the pyloures of the same, whiche dothe full yll.
Item we thynke it were convenient that whene we
fetche a corse to the Churche that we shulde be in our
blak abbettes mornyngly, wt our hodes of the same
of our hedes, as is used in many othere places. Item
we desjTe and beseche youe that all the abbet may use

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