G. G. (George Gordon) Coulton.

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

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(p. 71).

YOUNG anchorite, who had been nourished
from his childhood in the hermitage, went
with his abbot to the city ; and, seeing
women dancing together, he enquired
earnestly of his abbot what these might
They are geese," quoth he. When therefore the



boy was come back to the cloister, he presently fell
a weeping ; to whom the abbot : " What wouldst thou,
my son ? " " Father," quoth he, "I would fain eat
of those geese which I saw in the city."



205.— cf)e priest's jFate.

(p. 124).




T is told on good authority how, in a very
well-known town, a certain priest was
returning from his leman in the dusk, and
heard a lamentable voice proceeding from
a ruined house ; whereupon he drew near
and enquired who cried thus in that place. " Who
art thou," said the voice, " that enquirest of me ? "
" A priest," answered he. " What, a priest ! " cried
that voice in great astonishment, repeating the word
twice or thrice. When therefore the priest had enquired
wherefore he spake in such tones of wonder, then said
the voice, " They come down so thick among us into
hell, that methought no priest could be left on earth ;
wherefore I cried aloud in wonder to hear that one was
still alive ; for I deemed they were all gone down to
hell ! "




The Host Maltreated. 4^7



206.— Ct)c ©ost a^altrcateD.

(p. 133).

|T Pinchbeck in Holland [Lines.], in the year of
our Lord, 1343, it befel that a certain woman
went to market with two bushels of corn ;
on which day she could get but twelve pence
for her corn, whereas she would fain have
had fourteen pence ; wherefore she left the corn in a
friend's house until another day. On that day she
came again into the market, and then she could but get
ten pence for her corn. Then she said : "0 Lord God,
this hast Thou done to me ! the other day I might
have had twelve pence, and to-day no more than ten ;
I aWII do Thee as much evil and shame as thou hast
brought loss upon me ! " So at Eastertide she came
to church to take Christ's body ; which she let fall
from her mouth into her hand, so that none might
see or know ; then she laid it in her chest and took a
loathly toad and laid him on the Host, and shut down
the chest. That night, as her husband came to bed,
he heard in his room the wailing of a child, and said
to his wife : ''I hear a child crying." '' Nay," said
she, " but it is a fantasy of thine own brain : " and
so she fell asleep. The man awoke in the morning ;
and, hearing the wails as before, he said : ''In truth
there is a child in the room " : and again she denied it.
The man sought all round the house ; and, coming at
last to the chest, he seemed to hear the wailing from
thence. He required the key ; but she (as she said)
knew not where it might be. Then he brake the chest,
and found a little wailing child therein with a toad ;
and whensoever the toad drew near to the child, he
cried aloud and waved it away with his hand. Then
the man, being amazed, straitly questioned his wife,
who told him the truth ; wherefore he sent for the
priest, that he himself might confess all and receive [the
communion], after which it returned to its former shape.
But she said that she could not find it in her heart to
take the communion heartily ; nevertheless, at her



428 A Medieval Garner.

goodman's prayer, she took it into her mouth ; and,
when the priest offered Christ's body to her lips, a
coal-black toad leapt in instead, and her body was
turned to blackness, and she gave up the ghost, and
her husband let burn her forthwith. So therefore,
after this morsel, Satan entered into her [as into Judas],




The following three stories are from a Liber Exemplorum, or book of
illustrations for sermons, recently edited by Prof. A. G. Little for the
British Society of Franciscan Studies. The author, who wrote about
1275, had been a fellow-student of Roger Bacon's at the Franciscan
friary in Paris : " it is perhaps not irrelevant to point out that his only
two references to his student life in Paris are concerned with stories of
magic." He was apparently a Warwickshire man, and had passed
some years in Irish friaries : several of the anecdotes are drawn from
his own experiences.

207.— Cit for Cat.

(p. 30).

NE more instance of the loving-kindness of
the glorious Virgin I found in an ancient
sermon, and certainly it should not be
despised. A certain poor woman loved the
Blessed Virgin, decking her image with
roses and lilies and such ornaments as she could find.
It befel that her son was taken and hanged. The
woman, in the bitterness of her soul, went to the image
of the Blessed Virgin and besought her to restore her
son ; and, seeing that she recovered not her son as
soon as she wished, she said : "Is this then the price
of service to thee, that thou succourest me not in my
need ? " Then, as though maddened by the excess
of her grief, she said : "If thou restore me not my
son, I will take away thy son." And, as she reached
out her hand impetuously to bear away the image of
the little Babe, behold ! her son stood by her and
seized her cloak and cried, " What dost thou, Mother ?
Hast thou lost thy senses ? Behold, the Mother of
God hath restored me to thee." So the mother rejoiced
to recover her son.




Vengeance Deferred. 4^9



208.— Vengeance DcfcrrcD.

(p. t;r.).

CERTAIN great lady being left a widow by
the death of her husband, and wooed by
many in marriage, one of her many suitors
was comely to see, doughty of his body,
practised and renowned in arms, but poor.
When, therefore, he besought her instantly, seeking
to bend that lady's mind to consent to the mar-
riage, seeing also that his body pleased her while
his poverty (according to the way of the world) dis-
pleased her, she gave him one day the following answer :
" Beloved sir, how could I, being such a lady as I am,
take thee who art so poor a man and of so slender
substance ? Not thy person displeaseth me but thy
poverty ; if thou hadst a fief I would gladly take
thee." Hearing which the noble departed, and laid
wait in a certain public way whereby the merchants
were wont to pass ; until, finding a merchant that
went by with great riches, he slew him and carried
away all his goods. Thus he came to sudden wealth
and, being raised from his poverty to glory, he went
to the lady, showed her his wealth, and besought that
she would deign to receive him. She, amazed at his
so sudden fortune, asked him how he had come to so
great riches ; nor would she admit his prayer until he
told her the truth. So sore was he pricked with love
for this lady that he dared not offend her in anything,
but clean confessed the whole matter. She, having
heard his tale, bade him go to the place where the
dead man lay, if he would have her hand, and watch
there one v\'hole night long. He did according to her
bidding ; and, as he kept earnest watch, he
saw how in the silence of the night a storm arose,
and the dead man sat up and stretched out his
hands to the heaven and prayed to the Lord, saying,
" Lord, Who art the just judge of all. Thou knowest
how unjustly I died ! If it be Thy will, do justice
now." Then from above there came a rushing mighty



43 o A Medieval Garner.

voice that said : " This day thirty years, thou shalt
be avenged." With that the dead man fell back again
to the earth ; and the murderer went back and told
his lady all that he had seen and heard. But she,
thinking within herself that she would atone for the
deed by penance before the time appointed, took him
for her husband ; and from thenceforth they grew
daily in wealth and worldly glory. They waxed and
increased with many happy children, and bound their
family by marriages to the noblest of their neighbours.
So when the time began to glide by, year by year, the
lady solicited her husband many times to do his penance;
but he, blinded by the glory of this world, put it off
so long that year after year stole away, and at last the
thirtieth came. When therefore the appointed day of
vengeance was at hand, then that nobleman made
great preparations in one of his castles, and invited all
his friends for that day to a feast. When therefore
they were all assembled, he saw to it that none should
enter from whom he might fear aught. So, while all
feasted and made merry, a fiddler came to the door
and besought admittance after the wont of such men.
The porter, daring to admit no man without leave,
announced the fiddler to his lord, who cried : " Let
him in ! " So he came in, and in due time would fain
have done his office, and tuned his fiddle to a song :
but one crept up in jest and greased the strings of his
fiddle-bow with lard or some other fat. Then the
fiddler caught up his bow and would have drawn it
over the strings ; but all was dumb, for the grease
smothered the melody. What then could the poor
fiddler do ? Utterly confounded, he thrust his viol
into the bag, rose from his seat, and hastened forth
from the castle. He was already gone some distance
from the spot, when he was aware that he had lost
one of his gloves ; and, looking anxiously around, as
we do at such times, he turned by chance towards
the place whence he had come : when lo ! he saw
naught there but the level earth. Amazed at the
sight, he retraced his steps to the place where that
castle had been ; yet here again he found a level flat,



The Devil Defied. 43 1

and in the midst a fountain, by the side whereof lay
his glove : for the castle and all that was therein had
been swallowed up by the earth. In truth the Lord
showed plainly by this example that He is a patient
payer ; if therefore, while time glideth by, vengeance
draweth near by God's just judgment, then " delay
not to be converted to the Lord, and defer it not from
day to day."

This example was preached by Brother Hugh de
Sutton in the parts over sea ;* who told how he knew
it by hearsay ; and, when he had thus told the story
with that reservation, then said one of his congregation :
" Brother, you may tell that story without misgiving ;
for I know the very place where it came to pass."t

* This phrase generally means " in Palestine."

t For two curious Welsh parallels to this story see Rhys' Celtic
Folklore, pp. 73 and 403, or the summaries printed by Prof. Little in
his note. The whole story is told, with shght variations, in Mirk's
Festial (E.E.T.S. 1905, p. 88).




209.— a %\}oxt ma^ Uiitf) all Dct)il0»

(p. 85).

OR the commendation of faith and the
buffeting of infidelity or infirm belief, me-
thinks that example is most pertinent which
was told me by Brother Thomas O'Quinn, of
our Order, a good and faithful man of great
learning, who was even chosen to the bishopric of
Cloyne, after that he had served God sedulously for
very many years in poverty and humility with true
and edifying exhortation.* When he was already a
bishop, he told me a story of his own life, saymg :
" In the days when I worked as a Preacher in our

* Professor Little notes that, already in 1244, O'Quinn had been
proposed for the bishopric of Elphin, but not elected. Being the son
of a priest, he had to procure a papal dispensation before he could
accept the bishopric of Cloyne ; he died in 1279.



432 A Medieval Garner*

Order, I went once to preach in Connaught. And
behold ! in those days there was a marvellous and
miserable plague in the diocese of Clonfert ; for, when
men went to their ploughs or walked elsewhere in
the fields or the forests, then (as they told me) they
were accustomed to see whole armies of demons that
passed by and sometimes fought one with another.
Such as saw these visions were forthwith smitten with
sickness and disease, languishing and taking to their
beds with all weakness of body ; and many died
miserably. When I heard this " (quoth the Bishop)
" then I called the people together in no small multitude,
and preached the word of God, saying among other
things : ' Ye have now this great plague among you,
and it is caused by the demons whom very many of
you see oftentimes in these parts. Know ye wherefore
the devils have power to bring such evils upon us ?
This is certainly for no other cause than for your want
of faith. For ye fear their power too sore, not believing
or thinking or trusting that the Lord will defend you
and guard you agamst all hurt of theirs. Therefore
doth the Lord suffer them to have this power of doing
you the evil which they now work. If ye had stout
faith, and if ye believed firmly that the devils have no
power but in so far as the Lord suffereth, and if ye would
amend your lives, beseeching God instantly to defend
you from their wiles, then ye may be sure that they
would have no power to hurt you. Why ! " quoth he,
" Ye see and know that we friars are the men who do
most in this world against the devils, and say most
harm of them ; and here stand I, saying and preaching
all this evil of them ; and I say to them now, I wish
they would come to me and do unto me even as they
may ! Let the demons come if they dare," quoth he ;
" let them come all at once ! Wherefore is it that
they come not ? What are they about ? Where are
they ? I defy and insult them in these words, over
and over again, in the ears of the whole people.' And
behold ! from that time forth the demons vanished,
so that they never appeared again in that land, and
forthwith that plague ceased which had so long and



A Bishop^s Champion. 433

so miserably raged among the people. Ye see how
little the devils can do in the face of firm faith, when all
their efforts were baffled by the defiant challenge of a
single poor friar, backed up by an unshaken belief."




From Bishop Cantilupe's Begister, f. 32b. (Cantilupe Soc, p. 104), or
Foil of Bishop Sivinfield (Camden Society, Append. No. 1). This
champion was not in fact called on to fight in this particular dispute
for the Chases of Colwall and Ledbury ; St. Thomas Cantilupe won his
case in the ordinary course of justice, and a trench along the crest of
the Malvern Hills still marks the boundary set between his chase and
Gilbert de Clare's. Thomas appears in fact to have drawn double the
covenanted salary : cf. the entry printed in Swinfield's Roll, p. 125 :
" Paid to the Champion Thomas de Brugge for his three terms' fee-
viz, for Michaelmas 1288, the following Easter, and for the following
Michaelmas — 20 shiUings."

210.— a T6i06op's aEI)ampion.

jO all faithful in Christ, Thomas, by the grace
of God Bishop of Hereford, prayeth eternal
salvation in the Lord. Know ye all that
we are bound to Thomas de Bruges [or
Brydges] our Champion, for his homage
and service, in the sum of 6s. 8d. sterling, to be paid
yearly from our treasury, wheresoever we may then be,
on the feast of St. Michael, so long as the said Thomas
is able to do the work of a Champion ; and the said
Thomas hath promised to us upon oath that he will
fight for us, whensoever called upon, against the Lord
Gilbert earl of Gloucester and Hereford, or any other
man, those lords only excepted to whom he was bound
before the making of this present deed. And we for
our part will fully satisfy the said Thomas, when he
must fight for us, according as may be agreed upon
between us and him, both in wages and in supply of
victuals and all other necessaries. In testimony
whereof we have caused our seal to be set on this deed.
Given at Westminster, on the Tuesday next following
the feast of All Saints, in the year of Grace 1276.

F2



434 A Medieval Garner.

The accompanying illustration, from Waller's Monumental Brasses,
gives the brass of Bishop Wyvil, who held the See of SaUsbury from
1330 to 1375 and built the Cathedral spire. He recovered the castle of
Sherborne, which had been unjustly seized by the Crown since 1139,
and had now been transferred to the Earl of Salisbury. " This involved
trial by battle. At the appointed time, the champions of the respective
parties appeared ; but at the last moment letters were brought from
the king postponing the combat, and the object was ultimately attained
by a payment on the Bishop's part of 2,500 crowns." The proud and
grateful Bishop wished his champion to go down to posterity together
with himself, armed with the double-pointed pick which the
law prescribed for such combats. The inscription ran : " Here heth
Robert Wyvill of blessed memory, bishop of this church of SaUsbury,
who ruled this church peacefully and laudably for more than five-and-
forty years. The scattered possessions of the see he prudently gathered
together, and kept them when gathered hke a watchful shepherd ;
among his lesser good deeds he recovered, like an intrepid champion,
the castle of Sherborne, which had been violently occupied by force of
arms for more than two hundred years ; and he procured also the restora-
tion to the said church of its Chase of Bere. On the fourth day of
September in the year of our Lord 1375, and in the 46th year of his
consecration, it pleased the Most High that he should pay his debt to
mortality in the Castle aforesaid : upon whose soul may the Almighty
have mercy, in Whom he hoped and beUeved." Extract No. 211
(from the Year Books of Edward III., Anno XXIX., Hilary Term.,
Case No. 34) gives the story in full ; the Salisbury castle of this report
is evidently a clerical error for Sherborne. For similar incidents we
may compare the entry of the Worcester annahst under the year 1275
{Anglia Sacra, I., 501). " On the 26th of June there was a duel in
Hardwick meadow for the church of Tenbury : but peace was made
and the church left in possession of the Abbot of Lyre. On the 9th of
July a duel was fought for the baiUwick of Hembury, and the Bishop's
champion conquered the champion of PhiUp de Stock." Many other
interesting details as to judicial duels may be found in George Neilson's
Trial by Combat (1890) and J. Hewitt's Ancient Armour, I., 375, II., 342.

211.— mager of TBattle anti 2j©itc[)craft

BRIEF of Right was brought by the Bishop
of Salisbury against the Earl of Salisbury,
whereby the Bishop claimeth the castle of
Salisbury with its appurtenances. And last
term they joined issue between the cham-
pions, Robert S. being the Bishop's champion and
Nicholas D. the earl's ; and the fight was fixed for
the morrow of the Purification. And the Court bade
them have their champions harnessed in leather and








BISHOP WYVIL AND HIS CHAMPION.

Fniin Waller's M(iiiiniiiiiti(l Tiiassea.



Dud and Witchcraft. 435

ready to do battle that same day. And early on the
morrow the Bishop came first, and his champion
followed him to the bar clad in white leather next his
skin, and over it a coat of red sendal painted with
the Bishop's arms, and a knight to bear his staff and
a serving-man to bear his target, which was of like
colour with his coat, painted with images both without
and within ; and the Bishop stood at the bar with his
champion by his side, the knight bearing his staff.
And [Justice] Thorp made the champion raise the
target upon his back, so that the top of the target once
passed the crown of his head, and thus it was held on
the champion's back so long as he stood at the bar.
Then came the Earl on the other part leading by the
hand his champion who was clad in white leather,
over which a coat of red sendal with the earl's coat-of-
arms, and two knights bearing two white staves in
their hands ; and the target was held on the champion's
back even as the target of the Bishop's champion.
[Then said] Knyvet, " For plaintiff ye have here
Robert Bishop of Salisbury with his free man, Robert
son of John de S., in leather harness, to prove and
perform, with God's grace, that which the court of
our Lord the king hath already awarded or shall award ;
this I proffer now to William Earl of Salisbury, and we
pray that he be summoned." [Then said] Fyff. Ye
have here William Earl of Salisbury with his free man
N. son of D., all ready harnessed, willing to perform,
by God's grace, whatsoever the court of our lord King
awardeth or shall award." [Then said Justice] Grene.
" My lord bishop, go and take a chamber within this
palace and strip your champion, and leave there all
his harness under ward of the palace-warden, and the
court will see to it, so that there may be neither fraud
nor deceit. And you, sir Earl, go in like manner into
another chamber " ; (and it was commanded to the
palace- warden to give them rooms ;) " and keep your
days here on Monday." And the court said, " Go and
retire ye from the bar at one time, so that neither
go before the other :" and, since neither would with-
draw before the other, they stood there until the



436 A Medieval Garner.

Justices removed them ; which they had much ado
to perform. At the day appointed came the Bishop
and the Earl with their champions, as before ; but
meanwhile the Justices had viewed all the harness,
so that the staves might be of one length, that is of
five quarters [of an ell ?], and the targes of the same
length and breadth, and the images. And two men
stripped both champions of their harness. And the
lord Thomas Beauchamp came to the place and set
forth a letter under privy seal to the Justices, rehearsing
the matter of the plea betwixt the parties : and, seeing
that this toucheth somewhat on the king's right, he
commanded the justices to adjourn that plea in the
same state wherein it now standeth, until the Thursday
next following. [Then said] Grene, " Seeing that the
King hath bidden us adjourn this plea, and considering
also that in searching the harness of you champions
we have found certain defects whereof we know not
yet whether they have been amended or no, keep your
day here on Thursday next in the same plight as now."
And it was said that the Justices had found in Shawel's
coat, (who was the Bishop's champion), several rolls
of prayers and witchcrafts. Wherefore Grene said as
aforesaid, " and withdraw now from the bar ;" and
since neither would part before the other, they stood
there long until the justices removed them as before.
And Grene said to the claimant, " Sir Bishop, withdraw
now from the bar under pain of losing your plea ; "
whereupon he withdrew. And, before the day
appointed, they accorded together, so that the Bishop
paid the Earl 1,500 marks. So on Thursday the bishop
came with his champion in leather harness as before ;
and the Earl was called, and came not, and his default
was recorded. . . . Wherefore it was awarded by the
Court that the Bishop should recover the Castle of
Salisbury, as the right of the church of Our Lady of
Salisbury, for himself and his successors, quit of all
claim from the Earl and his heirs in all perpetuity.




A Knightly Chronicler. 437

Don Ramon Muntaner (1265-1330 ?) was like Joinville and Villehar-
doiiin, a soldier by profession and an author only in his old age : his
chronicle, like theirs, gains by this combination. It is the best of
Spanish medieval histories, and \\'ill bear comparison with those of
any other nation. The author is best introduced by his own Prologue.
The extracts are from the edition published by the Litterarischer Verein
of Stuttgart.

212.— an autbofs's jForeUjorD.

N the name of our Lord and true God Jesus
Christ, and of His blessed Mother our Lady
St. Mary, and of all His blessed saints, both
now and ever. Amen !

It behoveth every man to praise and
thank God and His blessed Mother for the grace and
mercy which have been vouchsafed to him ; which
blessings a man should not conceal but rather publish
abroad, that every man may take thereby a good
example, striving to do and speak well. For this is
sure and certain truth, that whosoever doeth and
speaketh and thinketh good, to him shall God give
good for his reward ; but to him that doeth evil, evil,
unless it be that he amend his ways. Wherefore let
every ma.n strive, so far as in him lieth, to turn evil
into good ; for nothing can remain hidden from God.
It is a good word that men commonly use in Sicily,
Vv'hen one man liveth at variance with another : " nay,
let him go, and trust that God knoweth thine own
way." Wherefore let every man strive to live in the
faith that God seeth him ; for to God all things are
open. Even so, among other men in this world, must
I also, Ramon Muntaner, born at Perelada and free of
the liberties of Valencia, give manifold thanks to our
Lord and true God and His blessed Mother, the holy
Virgin Mary, and to all the Court Celestial, for the grace
and mercy which they have vouchsafed to me, and for
r)\y rescue from many dangers wherein I have fallen ; as
for the two-and-thirty battles wherein I have fought
by sea and land ; in which wars I have oftentimes



Online LibraryG. G. (George Gordon) CoultonA medieval garner; human documents from the four centuries preceding the reformation → online text (page 37 of 61)