G. G. (George Gordon) Coulton.

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

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game with all his might on horseback. But when
he had ridden all day in vain, and still saw the stag
fleeing ever before his face, then his mind was turned
to madness, and he pursued after him all night long
with his whole train ; so that from that day forward
no man ever saw or knew what had become of them,
or whither they were gone. Some said (and we easily
believe it) that the earth opened her jaws to swallow
them up like Dathan and Abiram, and sucked them
down to hell.

183.— cjc Catling Oirtue of a Coto!.

(Lib. IT, c. 51, p. 390).

ND, since there are many who flee to Religion

when death is upon them, and many have

chosen to doubt how far it availeth them to

adopt the dress of the Order in this last

necessity, therefore I will tell a most undoubted

instance and most apposite to this purpose.* And

indeed some religious are impiously accustomed to

deny their habit to penitents at the end of their lives,

* The practice here so ardently defended became a crying abuse.
In 1406, the Council of Hamburg dealt with " the pernicious error now
current among the faithful that whosoever departeth this life dressed
in a Franciscan frock is sure of eternal salvation." (Mansi, Concilia,
vol. 26, p. 1017). In Wright's Latin Stories, p. 59, there is an amusing
anecdote, nearly contemporary with this in the text, of a woman who
took vengeance on her husband by intoxicating him and carrying liim
off in a cart to the nearest monastery, where she successfully represented
him as a patient in extremis who wished to take the cowl.


Frciiii Uif HcicU'lbui-'; .MiiiiH'siin;,'i'i - .AJiUni.seiii)t (.Mnnossesclie Ilandschrift,
early xiv ceiilury, cd. F. X. Kraiis) fol. ;j96.

A Saving Cowl. 379

on the plea that those who refused to enter in health
are unworthy to receive the frock at their latter end.
Yet Christ, the pattern of all justice, opened the gates
of paradise to the thief who repented at the last moment.
I have heard from the lips of the aforesaid Walther
von Meisenburg, of the Order of Friars Preachers, how
a certain great provost came one evening to the city
of Magdeburg, intending to pass onwards again next
day. But lo ! in his first sleep he was seized with a
sudden sickness, and sent hastily for the Prior of
the Friars Preachers ; whom the Provost besought
instantly and with tears that he would receive him
into the Order and clothe him forthwith. " Nay,"
said the Prior, " but this shall be done to-morrow ; for
herein we must ask the consent of the Brethren."
Then said the Provost, " I know, I know what I feel ;
I shall scarce live unto the morrow. If ye love my
salvation, haste ye now to receive me as a penitent ;
for I am certain that I cannot be saved in the world."*
When therefore the Prior saw the man's earnestness,
he hastened home, awoke the convent, asked their
consent, alleging the sufficiency of the man for the
Order, even though he should outlive this. The convent
consented forthwith ; the sick man was brought into
the friary ; he was received, clothed, houseled, aneled,
and gave up the ghost before daybreak. Not long
after this, a certain nun in the nunnery hard by that
city saw in her dreams a vision of an householder
sitting in a convenient place, to whom many Friars
Preachers came (as she dreamed) to receive their
pennies after the labour of the day ; and at the last,
a certain unknown Brother held forth a timid and
trembling hand, that he might receive his penny as a
Friar. Then the householder, having looked closely
into his face, made answer : " Nay, thou shalt have
thy penny, yet not now ; for thou must first be purged
by many remedies." All this the nun told to the
priest of the convent, asking whether any of the Friars

* All wlio were not in Religion, the Monastic Life, were, according
to medieval phraseology, in the World {in saeculo). Hence the term,
" secular clergy " (i.e., the non-monastic).

380 A Medieval Garner.

Preachers were dead : to whom he answered that he
had been in their convent last evening and had found
no man dead or sick there. Yet in the morning, after
Prime, came the subprior of the Friars who had promised
to preach to those nuns, and excused himself saying
that he must needs be at the burial of such and such a
Friar who had even now died in the House. So then
the nun's vision was shown to be true, and it was
clearly proved that the penitential frock doth indeed
projBt much, provided that the change of will be sincere.

184.— a H^arroto OHscape.

(Lib. II, c. 53, p. 406).

HERE was a certain priest, reverend in his
life and his office, who had a special love for
St. Bartholomew, and fed more poor on his
day than at any other time. Now it befel
once upon St. Bartholomew's day that, after
the priest had sung his mass, he found a Devil standing
without the church, in the form of a most comely
woman in honourable and decent attire ; whom he
saluted and bade her to dinner with him. She
accepted, and entered in, and sat down to table with
the priest : yet no poor man was then invited as usual.
St. Bartholomew therefore, not unmindful of this
priest his devotee, and of his long service to him, came
and cried at his gate under the form of a poor beggar ;
but the servant, coming to see who cried there, forbade
his entrance and bade him wait for alms until after
dinner. To whom the Apostle made answer with a
cheerful face, "It is well, I will wait ; but meanwhile
bid thy master answer and tell me what is that thing
which is most marvellous of all in the world, and yet is
bounded by a single foot's space." At this the servant
smiled and came to his master, relating that question
of the beggar. The priest was at a loss for an answer ;
but the lady his guest whispered in his ear, "It is a
man's face, which is so various amid so great a multitude

A Narrow Escape. 3^^

of men that none is shaped like unto another, though
all be of the same nature." The priest therefore sent
word of the solution of that question ; which the
Apostle commended and said : " Go once again and
ask from me, ' What is most proper to man of all
things that he hath ?' " The servant therefore came
back and propounded the question, to which again
the priest could find no answer, until the lady whispered
in his ear, " The most proper to man of all things that
he hath is sin." The master therefore told this solution
to the servant, who bare it back to the gate. Then
again the Apostle commended the answer, and said :
" Two have now been solved ; I will but add yet a
third, and then I will hold my peace. Go therefore
and ask from me, how many miles the way stretcheth
from heaven to hell ? " The servant returned and
propounded this third question, which again the priest
knew not until the lady whispered in his ear, saying :
" No man knoweth that better than he who hath often
measured that road on his way to hell." When there-
fore the servant had received this answer and borne it
to the gate, then said the Apostle : " Well indeed hath
thy master answered. Go therefore and say unto him,
' Who then is he who hath oftentimes measured that
road, but this foul demon who whispereth softlj^ in
thine ear under the form of a lady at meat with thee,
and who would have enticed thee to sin but that I,
Bartholomew the Apostle, whom thou hast devoutly
served, have mercifully prevented him ? ' " When the
servant had reported this saying, then the Devil
vanished forthwith from before his face, in the twinkling
of an eye. The priest started up in amazement from
the table and ran to the gate that he might see his
saviour : but he was nowhere to be found.*

* This story is told, with slight variations, by a 15th century
Enghsh preacher. (Mirk's Festial. E.E.T.S. 1905, p. 9.) In this
case, the saving saint is Andrew.

382 A Medieval Gamer.

185.— ajQbo ^ups ttiitf) tf)e Detiil .

(Lib. II, c. 06, p. 447).

ERTAIN men of note in this world sat
drinking in the tavern ; and, as they grew
warm with wine, they began to talk together
of various things ; and their talk fell upon
that Avhich shall be after this life. Then said
one, " We are utterly deceived by those clerks, who
say that our souls outlive the destruction of the body ! "
Hereupon all fell a-laughing ; and with this there came
in a tall big man, who sat down among them and called
for wine, and enquired of the matter of their talk.
" We spake of souls," said that fellow aforesaid ; "if
any man would buy mine, he might have it right good
cheap, and ye should all drink away the price with me."
Then all laughed again, and the newcomer said :
" Thou art the very merchant whom I seek : I am
ready to buy it : tell me now thy price." " So and
so much," quoth he cheerfully ; and they were straight-
way agreed concerning the price, which the buyer
counted out forthwith. Then they filled up their
cups again and drank with universal rejoicing, nor did
he who had sold his soul show any anxiety for a time.
But as evening drew on, the buyer cried : " It is time
that each should return home. Give me judgment now,
good fellows, before we part ; if a man buy a horse
tied by a halter, doth not the halter go with the horse,
and pass into the buyer's possession ? " To this all
answered with one voice, ' ' Yea indeed ! ' ' Then the buyer
seized straightway upon the seller, who sat trembling
with horror at this question and answer, and caught
him up before all men's eyes, body and soul, into the
air, bearing him most indubitably to hell ; since he
was a devil in man's form. For who else would call
himself a merchant of souls, save only he in whose
person it was said to Abraham, " Give me the persons,*
and the rest take to thyself."

* The word thus translated in the Douai version is animas, literally

Ulrich von Lichtcnstcin. 383

Ulrich von Lichtenstein, an Austrian knight of great distinction
in kis own day, was an ancestor of the present princely house of that
name. Born shortly before 1200, he died in 1275 or 1276. His name
first occurs in 1227 as witness to an important document ; in 1241 he
was Steward of his native Styria, and later on we find him Grand
Marshal of that province. His wife, who plays a very subordinate
role in liis autobiography, was Bertha von Weitzenstein ; she bore him
two sons and two daughters.

Ulrich's poem entitled Frauendienst is, however we take it, one of
the strangest monuments of medieval love ; it bridges the gulf between
tlie Vita Nuova and Don Quixote. We have sufficient collateral evidence
to prove it partly true and partly imaginary, but not enough to unravel
the two threads : yet even the purely poetical additions have a real
value as indications of contemporary manners. If Ulrich did not
act and suffer exactly as he tells us, yet he shows us clearly how he
would wish to have acted and suffered as a perfect lover. The question
has been fully discussed, without any very definite conclusion, by
Reinhold Becker in his Wahrheit und Dichtung in U. v. L.'s Frauendienst
(Halle, 1888). The follo'v\ing extracts are from R. Bechstein's edition
(Leipzig, 1888, 2 vols.) numbered according to stanzas.

186.— Calf^iLotJe.

(Stanza 8).

HHEN I was yet a little child, I heard often-
times how men would read, and wise men
would say, that no man may come to any
worth his whole life long, but if he be ready
steadfastly to serve good women ; for such
men have their high reward. Moreover, (said the
wise men) no man is so truly glad and happy in this
world, as he who loveth a pure and virtuous lady no
less than his own self, and they said that all men had
done so who would fain come to honour. I was then
but a child, and so foolish that I yet rode hobby-horse ;
nevertheless [I thought in my simplicity] : " Since
pure women do thus exalt a man, then will I ever serve
the ladies with body, goods, spirit and life." In such
thoughts I grew until my twelfth year. Then I thought
to and fro within my childish heart, enquiring after the
manners and beauty, the wit and virtue of all ladies
throughout the land. When any man praised good
women, then would I, softly smiling, follow at his heels ;
for my delight was in their praise. So it befel that

384 A Medieval Garner.

I heard of a lady whose praise was in the best men's
mouths of the land, and in whom men found most
goodness. She was high of birth, fair and good, chaste
and pure, and fulfilled of all virtues. In this lady's
service I abode wellnigh five years. Then said my
heart unto me : " Good friend, good fellow, wilt thou
give thyself up to one woman ? then must it be to
this one, for she is free in all her ways." " Heart, I
will follow thy bidding ; yet is it too much for both
of us to serve for such guerdon as a man hath from a
woman ; for she is too high-born for us ; so may it
befal that we both alike lose our service." " Peace,
body ! no woman was ever so high and so rich but
that a noble knight who served her with mind, heart,
and body, might win her in the end." " Heart, I
swear to thee by all mine hopes of heaven that she is
dearer to me than mine own self ; wherefore, in this
same loving mind which I now hold towards her,
therein will I serve her for ever."

When therefore soul and body were thus resolved
to woo this fair ladj^, then went I and stood before her,
and looked lovingly upon her, saying within myself :
" bliss ! shall this be mine own sweet lady ? But
how may I serve as beseemeth her worth, better than
so many other noble boys in her service ? It may be
that one of them will serve her better, and that my
lady will hate me ; for I have no other wit than to
serve her early and late ; yet it may be that some
other who loves her less will serve her better ; never-
theless in love at least will I excel them all." Often-
times in summer I plucked fair flowers, and brought
them to my lady ; and when she took them in her
white hand I thought with joy : " Where thy hand is
now, there hath mine own hand been." When I came
and saw others pour water upon the lily-white hands
of my beloved, then would I bear away secretly this
water which she had touched, and drink it for love of
her. Thus in my childish fashion I served her well,
even as a child may serve, until my father took me
from her ; on which day I knew heartfelt mourning
and the power of love. My body did indeed depart

Calf-Lovc. 385

from thence ; but my heart abode there still, for it
would not come with me. Little rest had I by night
or by day ; wheresoever I went or rode, my heart was
ever with her ; and, how far soever I might be removed
from her, yet her mild light shone by night into mine
heart. I was sent unto a lord rich in all virtues, the
Markgi'af Heinrich of Austria. He served the ladies
right loyally, and spake well of them as beseemeth a
knight ; he was mild, bold, and magnanimous ; he
bare himself as a wise man with wise men and as a
fool with fools ; he suffered hardships for honour's
sake, and his tongue spake no word of villainy ; to all
his friends was he ever honest and true, and loved
God with all his heart. This worthy lord said unto
me that whosoever would fain live in worthiness must
give himself wholly to some lady. He taught me much
of his own sweet virtue ; he taught me to speak of
ladies, to ride a horse, and to write sweet words in
letters — saying that a young man is of more worth
when he can speak sweetly of ladies ; " for," quoth he,
" never shalt thou fare well with good women, if thy
heart be set upon flattery and lies." Had I followed
all his precepts in deed, then had I been a worthier
man than I now am.

Meanwhile Ulrich is knighted, and sends to the lady his first song.
He begs his aunt (who acts as go-between) to tell the Lady how he
loves her ; the latter answers that, even though he were otherwise
her equal, yet no lady could abide his hare-lip. Ulrich immediately
promises that he will undergo an operation (stanza 85).

187.— ^cDietjal ^urgerp,

IHEN said mine aunt, " I counsel thee in all
loyalty, spoil not thine own self ; live as God
hath bid thee live, and be willingly content
with that which He hath given ; for if so thou
doest, thy sense is sound ; but thou art over-
weening if thou wiliest otherwise than God willeth."
" God bless thee, fair Aunt ; but know that mine o\\n



86 A Medieval Garner.

purpose is fixed, and I will duly tell thee how it goeth
or prospereth with me ; meanwhile I beseech thee,
by thy true affection, bear tidings whereof to my
beloved lady." " Thereto plight I my troth ; yet
know, nephew, it grieveth me sore that thou wilt not
desist from thy purpose." So I took leave of my good
kinswoman, and rode to Gratz in Styria, where I found
many a good master-leech ; to the best of whom I told
my purpose forthwith. " Nay," quoth he, " that may
not be as yet ; I will not cut thee before the month of
May ; but come to me in the May-days, and I swear
upon my troth so to deal with thy mouth as that thou
shalt have good cause to rejoice ; for in these matters
I am past-master." Wherefore I rode thence, since
those were winter-days, to see fair ladies ; until winter
was past, and the sweet summer came, and I heard
the little fowls' song. Then thought I within myself :
" Now may it well be time that I betake me to Gratz
again ; God help me there ! " So thence I rode in
God's hand, and lo ! on the way I met with my lady's
squire. I knew him well and he knew me, and he
asked whither I rode and whereon my purpose was
set. " Comrade, I will tell thee true, nor will I hide
the strange tidings ; know now that I am whole and
sound, yet I am freely purposed to wound myself ;
the leech in Gratz will cut me." Then the good squire
crossed himself and said, " Why, lord, where shalt thou
be cut ? " " Lo, comrade, these lips whereof I have
three, and I will now have one cut away." " And if
that be true, then God help you ; so say I in all earnest,
for this is a wondrous tale ; my lady doubtless knoweth
nought thereof ; I will tell it her now for very wonder's
sake. God knoweth, ye must needs be beside yourself,
that ye will hazard this venture uncompelled, whereby
ye may lightly take your death." " Nay, tell the
tale freely to whom thou wilt, for so I am resolved it
shall come to pass on this journey of mine." " Truly
then will I be there to see, if that be your good pleasure,
and will report to my lady that ye would fain have me
with you to behold how ye fare." Wherefore I rode
on my way to Gratz, where my business lay, and where

Medieval Surgery.


I found my Master. He took me in hand forthwith,
and went about to cut me on a Monday morning.
He would fain have bound me, but I would not ; then
said he, '' Ye may lightly take harm thereby ; for, an
ye stir but a hair's breadth, then the harm is done, I
speak no lie ! " " Nay," quoth I, "I will have no
such gear ; of mine own free will rode I hither to you ;


From MS. Harl. 1585, fol. ISb. (Striitt, I.e. xxxiii). The legend runs ;
" Thus is a polypus of tho nose cut."

388 A Medieval Garner.

and, howsoever ye deal with me now, though it were
to my death, no man shall see me blench." Yet in
truth I was sore afraid, and sat me down on a bench
before his face. Then he took a knife in his hand and
cut my mouth clean through above my teeth ; all
which I bore with so great patience that, when all
the cutting was done, I had stirred no whit. Masterlike
he cut me, and manlike I bore it all. Forthwith my
mouth swelled ; if was far bigger than a tennis ball,
and he dressed the wounds as befitted his office. Then
said my Lady's squire (for he had seen it all) : " If ye
come to your health again, then am I glad to have
been here. When I rode from you of late and told
my lady how the man would cut you here, then she
would never believe me ; " Nay," quoth she, " Of a
surety he will not, trust my word ; for methinks that
were a fool's deed to let himself thus be cut." Now
have I seen right well with mine own eyes what marvels
have been done ; wherefore I will ride hence again ;
may the God of bounty keep you and make you whole
in good time ; meanwhile I will report to my lady how
your mouth was cut and how manlike ye have borne
it." " Nay, thou shalt tell my lady nought but to
speak of my service, for I dare tell her no more ; yet
do thou tell whom thou wilt, as from me, how these
bodily pains of mine were endured for a lady's sake
who said that my mouth beseemed me ill. That is
the cause of these my pains ; for I have served her
all my life (thus much I tell thee openly) ; whatsoever
therefore displeaseth her is hateful to me, and if my
right hand stood ill in her eyes, then by God ! I would
smite it off forthwith ! Thereof will I speak little ;
for my will standeth in her will alone." Then rode
the squire forth from me ; and I must needs lie on
my sickbed five and a half weeks or more ; there lay
I in much weal and in sore woe : — woe for the wound
of my body, but comfort for the gladness of heart.
Love constrained me so that I was both sad and
merry. Yet was I ever glad for all my pains, though
sore disquieted with hunger and thirst ; nought could
I take to myself for my sore pain of teeth and lips, and

Frau Venus. 389

therewithal my mouth was anointed with an ointment
greener than grass and ranker to the smell than any
hound.* Then did love-need constrain me ; for,
whensoever I would have eaten or drunken for my need,
then came this ointment into my belly withal ; and
my body took such a smack thereof that I loathed all
meat and drink. Therefore I lived as those live who
eat nought for very sickness of body ; whereby I was
sore weakened. ... In Gratz I abode until I was
whole again.

* The German editor, taking this to be a popular ointment of mar-
joram, is at a loss to account for its rankness. But the stuff would
probably be a very common medieval salve for wounds which was
compounded mainly of verdegris. See p. 39 of the 15th century
translation of Lanirank's Science of Cirurgie (Early English Text

Shortly after this, Ulrich got speech of his lady, for the first time in
his life ; he then sent her a " little book " in verse. He next goes on
to tell of the tourneys at Frisach and Brixen, in the latter of which
he lost his Uttle finger. Shortly after this, he cut off a finger of his
own accord and sent it to his lady with another " little book." Then,
with her leave, he went Homewards in garb of a pilgrim : but at Venice
he took the guise of a Queen, issued a letter as from " Frau Venus "
inviting all knights to joust by the way, and rode 28 days' journey into
Bohemia, with veiled face and muffled hands, speaking to no man.
He writes (472) : " At Venice I lay all winter through ; hear now what
I wrought there. I caused ladies' garments to be made ; twelve gowns
were made for me and thirty fair ladies' sleeves sewn upon httle shirts ;
such was my device.* Therewithal I got me two comely-braided
tresses of hair, which I richly entwined with pearls whereof I found
great plenty for sale in Venice ; at the same time they made me there
white samite mantles ; silverwhite were my saddles, wrought by the
master with much labour and cunning craft ; and their trappings were
of white cloth, long and broad and of masterly work, with bridles of
great cost." After this long and somewhat aimless adventure, and
another tourney at Kornneuburg, Ulrich determined to venture to his
lady's castle in the guise of a leper (stanza 1124).

* i.e., a fresh sleeve daily for his journey. We learn from
stanza 511 that the tresses hung down to his saddle, and that he there-
fore wore them in a net.

39° A Medieval Garner.

188.— Olticft anD bis Dulcinea.

j]N Saturday at dawn I went forthwith on my
journey with two followers, taking good care
that none should know whither I went. . . .
That day I rode six-and-thirty miles, and
was sore wearied with so great and hasty a
journey ; two of my horses (I lie not) fell dead on the
road, yet small heed had I thereof. By nightfall I
came to a town where I got me basins such as lepers
bear, and wretched garments. Thus I and my
messenger disguised ourselves next day ; no fouler
clothes could have been ; yet we bare long knives upon
us, if perchance our lives might come into jeopardy.
That Sunday morning I rode two miles thence in such
wretched array ; then I left our horses in a secret
place, and went with my messenger two miles further
to the gates of a glorious castle, where the virtuous
lady abode with her household — mine own good lady,
whom I never forgot ! To that castle I went forthwith ;

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