G. G. (George Gordon) Coulton.

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

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fallen into captivity and torment, and suffered many
persecutions both in m}^ prosperity and in mine adver-
sity, as ye may presently hear among the deeds that

43^ A Medieval Garner.

were done in my time. I would indeed gladly forbear
from the task of this story ; yet it is my bounden
duty to tell it, and for this cause more especially, that all
men may learn how we had no help in so great danger
but through the succour and grace of God and His
blessed Mother, the holy Virgin Mary. Know therefore
that, when I went forth from my home at Perelada, I
was not yet eleven years old* ; and when I began by
God's gracious help to write this book I stood in my
sixtieth year ; v/hich book I began on the fifteenth day
of May in the year of the glorious birth of our Lord
and Saviour Jesus Christ, one thousand three hundred
and twenty five.

* He was probably sent out, according to the usual medieval custom,
as page in some knight's house.

Chaps. 124-6. In the year 1283 Pope Martin IV. proclaimed a
crusade against Peter of Aragon, who had thwarted his policy in Sicily
and that of his protege Charles of Anjou. Phihp the Bold of France
caught at this excuse to wage a holy war in Spain ; he and his crusaders
came and besieged Muntaner's native town, but were beaten in several

213.— ci)e ^icge of petelatia.

[HERE was a lady at Perelada whom I knew
and saw : men called her Marcadera for
that she sold merchandise [mercaderia] ;
she was a very doughtj^ woman, stout and
big of bones. One day while the French
host lay encamped before Perelada, she went forth
to fetch herbs from the garden without the walls : she
put on a man's quilted doublet and armed herself
with sword and shield and lance, and thus went forth
into her garden. And as she stooped in the garden
she heard a sound of bells, whereupon she marvelled
and left to pick her colewort, and went to see what this
might be : when lo ! m the way betwixt her garden
and her neighbour's, she saw a French knight fully
harnessed on his horse, that was all hung with little
bells at his breastband ; he rode hither and thither

Siege of Perelada. 439

to find issue from that path. When she was aware of
him, she strode forward a step and dealt him so shrewd
a thrust with her lance through the cuisses that she
drove through thigh and saddle, and even wounded the
horse also. When the beast felt the hurt, he reared
and kicked again, and would surely have thrown his
rider but that he was bound with a chain to the saddle.
What more shall I say ? She drew her sword and ran
round by a little gate and smote the beast so sore on
the head that he staggered. What more ? She seized
the rein and cried to the Knight, " Yield thee, or thou
art a dead man ! " and he, that thought himself but
dead, cast away his sword and yielded himself prisoner.
She therefore took up the sword, drew the lance from
his side, and led him to Perelada. The King and the
Infante made merry over this story, and would often-
times bid the lady tell them how she had taken him.
In brief, the Knight and his armour were hers ; he
ransomed himself for two hundred gold pieces, which
fell to her share. Thereby may ye know God's anger
against the French.

[Meanwhile the King of Aragon thought the town
strong enough to be left to the protection of a moderate
garrison, assisted by 1,000 Almugavars, or mercenary

What think ye then ? The King had with him some
five thousand Almugavars, whereof he bade one
thousand tarry behind at Perelada. These men, there-
fore, were sore grieved to be thus left, and they were
cut to the heart to consider how they must now lose
that spoil which the rest should win in skirmishes
against the French ; wherefore they purposed to get
themselves some other satisfaction : hear ye therefore
the iniquity which they devised in their hearts ! About
midnight, when the King and Infante were gone forth
from Perelada, and already perchance at Vilabertran
or Figueres, they went and set fire to a full hundred
places of the town, and cried : " Forth, forth ! "
What more ? When the good folk heard this tumult
from their beds, and saw the whole town in flames,
then each hastened to save his son or daughter, and

440 A Medieval Garner.

the men thought only of their wives and children ;
and the Almugavars for their part set their minds to
steal and pillage. In brief, the whole city was in
flames, so that within a little while there stood not
ten houses whole, save for the stone walls : the which
was a sore pity, for Perelada v/as an exceeding ancient
city, wherein no Saracens had been since the days of
Charles the Great and Roland. . . . While, therefore,
this fire raged throughout the town, all the folk hastened
forth even to the last man, save only a lady whose name
was Dona Palonavera, and who went to the altar of
the Blessed Virgin, in whom she had great trust, saying
that she would die there. And therein she did well,
seeing that it was all from love of the Virgin Mary.

So that night the King of France and his host were
aware of this mighty fire ; whereat they were amazed
and sat harnessed, the whole night through, upon their
horses. When the day dawned, and they saw the
whole town burning, then they laiew that it was alto-
gether deserted ; wherefore they entered in and did
all that in them lay to quench the flames ; for the
good men were sorry that so fair and noble a city
should burn to the ground ; yet were they not all of
one mind ; for, even as the good extinguished the
fire, so the evil fed the flames. Then they entered into
the church and found that pious lady with the statue
of the holy Virgin in her arms : then came the accursed
Picards, who were the evillest folk of the host, and
forthwith they hewed the good woman in pieces before
the altar, and then they bound their beasts to the
altars and wrought much outrage, whereof they had
their full reward from God, as ye shall hereafter hear.

When therefore the King and the Infante and their
host heard how miserably this town was destroyed,
they were cut to the heart ; yet nought could be done
as matters then stood. Wherefore all Kings of Aragon,
whosoever they be, are much bounden to show kindness
to this little town of Perelada in general, and especially
to all citizens thereof ; for the Lord of Perelada, as
ye may well think, lost in the king's service all that he
had. Moreover I and other men, who then lost wellnigh

A Brief Romance. 44 ^

all our worldly goods, have never seen our houses again ;
but have gone about the whole world, and sought our
sustenance with the sweat of our brow, and suffered
many perils ; whereof the greater part are new dead
in the wars of the King of Aragon.

214.-3 TBrief iRomance.

(Chap. -263, A.D. 1314).

HEN the son of the Count of Aria had married,
he took possession of the barony of Mata-
grifo ; and, if any lord ever showed himself
a man of worth, this was he ; for he was
very wise and doughty in all things ; and
his wife bare him a daughter named the lady Isabel.
Soon after her birth he died, to the sore distress of
all his barons and vassals in Morea. (Now this count
of Aria was of the lineage of Tous, which is the most
ancient and most honoured house in all Provence, and
near akin to the house of Anjou.) When therefore
the lady of Aria had lost her husband, she was in sore
distress and would take no other spouse ; and when
her sister the princess [of Morea] died, she herself
desired the Principality ; yet they who had it in
possession gave her but a short answer. Hearing
then that the Infante Don Fernando, son to the King
of Majorca, was ui Sicily, and that he had neither wife
nor land, she thought no man in the world fitter for
her daughter than he, because such a man would make
good all his rights to the Principality, whether by
favour or by force. Wherefore she sent ambassadors
to the King of Sicily and the Infante Don Fernando ;
and at last they were accorded that the lady and her
daughter should come to Messina, and then, if the
damsel were such as they said, the marriage would
please thera for their part. So the lady came to
Messina with her daughter, and ten dames and ten
damsels, and twenty knights and twenty sons of
knights, and other company to boot ; and their hosts
did them much honour. So when the King was come

44 2 A Medieval Garner,

to Messina, and the Infante had seen the damsel,
then he would not have changed her against another,
even though a man had given him the whole world
to boot ; nay, he had so great pleasure in the sight of
her that the day seemed a year to him until the whole
matter was assured ; and he declared outright to the
lord King that he would have this damsel to be his
wife, and none other that lived in the world. And it
was no marvel that he loved her so hotly : for this
was the fairest creature of fourteen years that ever
man might see, the whitest and the rosiest and the
best ; and the wisest, for the years that she had, of
any damsel that ever was in the world. What shall
I say more ? The lady of Matagrifo invested her
daughter, both in her own lifetime and after her death,
with all the barony of Matagrifo and all the right which
she had to the Principality, to have and to hold at her
o^wn will, without further limitation whatsoever. So
when this was done, and the spousal deeds were drawn,
then by God's grace, with great feast and solemnity
made by the King and Queen, and all the barons of
Sicily and Catalonia, and Aragonese and Latin knights,
and all other folk of Messina, the lord Infante took
this lady Isabel to wife ; and the Archbishop of Messina
sang the mass, and the feast endured for fifteen days,
so that all men marvelled at the joy and gladness that
were there. And when the feast was past, the lord
Infante led her with him to Catania, with her mother
and all the company that had come with her ; and he
gave her Catalan dames and damsels, wives and
daughters of knights. And when they were at Catania,
the lord Infante gave great gifts to all her meinie ;
and thus they dwelt some four months at Catania.
And then the lady mother-in-law of the lord Infante
turned again to Morea with her following, glad and
jocund of heart — glad also and jocund of heart was
the lord Infante, who stayed with my lady Infanta.

And it pleased God that she became big with child,
whereof was great rejoicing when it was noised abroad.
When therefore the lady was thus with child, the lord
Infante made ready to go with five hundred men-at-

A Brief Romance. 443

arms and a great multitude of footmen to Morea. While
he thus made ready, I had news thereof at Gerba ; then
must I needs go with him whithersoever it might please
him to go ; the whole world should not have kept me
back. Wherefore I sent word to the King, praying
that it might please him to send me to Sicily. The
King was pleased to grant his assent ; so I took a galley
and a smaller boat and came with the elders of that
island to Sicily, leaving the castle and island of Gerba
under good watch and ward. The first land which I
touched in Sicily was at Catania, where I found the
Infante safe and joyful, and his lady great with child,
(for eight days afterwards she bore a fair son, whereof
they made great rejoicing.) When therefore I had
come down from my galley, I brought to land two bales
of Tripoli carpets, and many other Moorish rarities
and other jewels ; all of which I bade my servants
spread out before the lady Infanta and her lord, and
offered them as gifts, whereof the lord Infante was
much pleased. Then I departed thence and went to
JMessina ; for the lord Infante said that he would come
thither within a fortnight and speak at length with me.
Yet before I had been a fortnight there, it was
reported that the lady Infanta had brought forth a
son, who was born on the first Saturday in April of
this 3^ear 1315. God grant to every man such joy as I
then felt ! Ask me not whether the lord Infante was
glad, with all that dwelt at Catania ! more than eight
days they feasted there ; and the boy was baptized
in the Cathedral of the blessed lady Saint Agatha, and
they gave him the name of Jacme. If ever a child was
born of good grace, it was this boy Don Jacme. What
more shall I say ? When the child was baptized, and
his mother out of danger, the lord Infante came to
Messina, where I proffered m3^self to him, both body
and goods, to follow him whithersoever he would. He
gave me hearty thanks, and said : "Go hence to the
lord King, whom ye shall find at Plasa, and render into
his hands the castle and the islands of Gerba and
Querquens ; then return to us, and I will teach you
what ye shall do." Then I departed from him ; and

444 A. Medieval Garner.

in the meantime word came that he must ride in all
haste to Catania, for his lady was sick of fever and
anguish of her reins. So he rode and came that night
to Catania ; and the lady was better for sight of him ;
yet she had already made her testament before the
sickness came sorer upon her, and then she confirmed
it ; in which testament she had left to her son Don
Jacme the Barony of Matagrifo and her claim to the
Principality : and in case of his death all should fall
to her husband Don Fernando. In truth it was already
two months since her mother was dead of mortal
sickness at Matagrifo ; but she knew nought thereof,
nor would the lord Infante that any man should tell
her aught while she was with child, or when she was
brought to bed, or before she should have been churched.
And, though the Infante was ready for his voyage, yet
he hoped not to set out until the Infanta should be
delivered and churched ; then should she come to
ship with him, for all were ready to set sail. In brief,
the Infanta, by God's will, passed from this life two
and thirty days after the birth of her child ; and she
breathed her last in the arms of her lord. If ever man
saw grief, it was in this Infante don Fernando and the
whole city. With great solemnity (as for one who was
purified and confessed and aneled and anointed), she
was laid in a fair monument hard by the body of the
blessed virgin my lady saint Agatha, in her blessed
church at Catania.

The next few chapters describe how Ramon was chosen to escort the
little motherless Jacme to his grandmother, the Queen of Majorca :
how he safely avoided all the enemies that lay in wait for them, and
brought the child safe to Catalonia.

The Liber Memorandorum Ecclesie de Berneicelle is a record drawn
up by one of the canons of Barnwell Priory, by Cambridge, in the
years 1295-6. The author's purpose cannot be better described than
in his own words (p. 37) : " When the sun draweth towards his setting,
the heat of the day cooleth ; and, as the world declineth to old age,
charity groweth cold. Seeing therefore tliat (as it is written) whereso-
ever charity groweth cold there iniquity aboundeth, we must not
wonder if fraud and deceit and mahce and other vices thrive in the

The Canons of Barnwell. 445

world : but we should rather fear lest, if they still grow, they will infect
the whole world with their venom. . . . Wherefore, in order that the
Bervauts of God may the more readily, by the help of God Almighty,
escape out of the hands of wicked men, having regard to the fact that
human memory is defective, it is worth while to reduce to writing certain
things which may be useful to our church, and by inspection of this little
book, may help our Brethren, both present and to come, when difficulties
arise, and they are persecuted by a cruel world. May the Grace of the
Holy Spirit therefore lend his aid to bring this work to a suitable con-

215.— Coucb not ^inc anointcD !

(p. 119, A.D. 1207-8).

UlNDREW Harneys, of Wiggenhall, held a
certain messuage and 24 acres of land
and two acres of meadow from the Prior
of Barnwell in that said village of Wiggen-
hall, paying a rent of three shillings a year,
and scutage when it fell due. He died without issue,
and was succeeded by James the Chaplain as next heir,
being his sister's son. This James, after the death
of Andrew aforesaid, came to Jolan our Prior to pay
him homage and other dues for the tenement which
he claimed to hold of him through the said Andrew's
death. But the Prior, considering that a great and
ample heritage had come to this chaplain, began at
once to busy himself how he might bring it into the
possession of his monaster}^ Wherefore he promised
and granted to this chaplain, with the consent of his
fellow monks, two Canons' corrodies* and two marks
yearly, and competent lodging for his life long. The
chaplain consented, the deed was drawn up and sealed
with the convent seal, and a day was fixed whereon
the Prior should go thither to take possession.

Meanwhile the chaplain departed and came to
Wiggenhall, where he soon discovered his counsel
to certain persons who quickly changed his purpose.
So Prior Jolan came hastily across the country, with

* A corrody was a life-pension granted by a monastery, nearly
always in kind and in return for value received. The second Canon's
portion was no doubt for Andrew's servants ; as a rule, the documents
show us quite well-to-do people content with a single monastic ration.

44^ A Medieval Garner.

his horses and trappings and a great train of servants,
to take possession of the lands and tenements which
James the Chaplain had granted ; and after dinner
he sat in his own house there with his friends and
neighbours of that village, in great merriment : when
suddenly the servants of the lord William Bardolf
came in arms and made an assault upon the Prior and
his men. At which sight the Prior and all that were
with him fled in sore affright, some creeping through
the windows and others scrambling over walls. The
Prior himself fled to Dereham Abbey ; nor did one of
his train stand his ground, but all left their possessions
and fled. Then the said robbers, servants of the lord
William Bardolf, led away with great rejoicing all the
Prior's horses which they found there, and their harness
to boot, save only one ancient jade ; and the number of
good horses thus taken away was thirteen. Moreover,
taking the Canon's rain-capes, they held them up to
laughter and derision as though in mockery of the
Canons and their Order. But the Prior and his men
found their way home at length in great confusion,
bearing their loss and awaiting happier times ; for
in those days the Prior could not plead in the king's
court against the evildoers, since it was then as it were
a time of war. Nevertheless from that time forth we
never had in our convent of Barnwell so many good
horses as we lost at Wiggenhall, in the twinkling of an
eye, by this robbery aforesaid. . . .

After peace had been made, the Prior remembered
what ills he had suffered at Wiggenhall through James
the Chaplain ; and, by the lord Legate's authority, he
haled him into court before the Prior of Huntingdon.
He however, appearing before the court, feigned an
appeal, and demanded the Prior of Wormegay as
his judge, and served a citation on the Prior to answer
to him in the priory church of Wormegay on a certain
day. But the Prior, knowing that this was near to
the manor of lord William Bardolf, feared to plead
there. Wherefore he bethought him how he might
cautiously refuse that place, and sent Dom Alger our
Canon, with an advocate, as his proctor for the day of

The Canons of Barnwell. 447

trial, and sent another Canon, Dom John de Swaffham,
to the Court of the lord Legate in London, to obtain
remedy for these appeals. So it befel that, while the
one party appealed against the Prior of Wormegay
on that trial-day, Dom John de Swaffham got his
letters signed on the morrow in the Legate's Court,
concerning the said appeals, and came home so hastily
that he arrived almost at the same moment as Dom
Alger came from Wormegay ; and our Prior, seeing the
letters dra\vn up in due form, cited the said James
without delay by authority of these same letters.
James therefore and those that were of his party, seeing
these letters of appeal sealed with the lord Legate's
seal, were vehemently amazed, and cried : " The
Prior's messengers are swifter than the strong flight
of eagles ! " So he, unable now to defend himself
against such subtleties, was laid within a few days
under sentence of excommunication, as well for his
contumacy as for his offence ; under which he persisted
forty days without appealing or praying for absolution.
The Prior, seeing this, obtained letters of arrest against
him from the Bishop of Norwich. In brief, within a
few days a messenger came to the Prior saying that
he had seen James the Chaplain walking in the streets
of Cambridge ; and he sent forthwith two Canons with
the sheriff's officers to arrest him. They found him
walking in Jew Lane, and sought to seize him ; but
James ran swiftly, and fled to the church of the Friars
Minor. Thither they followed him, and warned him
to come out and go with them ; but he would not.
Then they bade the friars cast him out, since he was
excommunicate : but they made answer, " If ye know
him to be excommunicate, do then whatsoever seemeth
good to you." So the officers came and laid hands upon
him, and dragged him forth from the church by his
feet, and cast him into prison, where he must needs
lie until he had made his peace with the Prior for fifteen
marks sterling, for which he found security, repenting
sore that he had gone back from his first bargain.

The lord John de Burgh the elder . . . sent word
in those lawless days [to Prior Jolan], to lend him a

44 8 A Medieval Garner.

horse for bearing his harness to a certain place, but
the Prior at that time had no plenty of horses, by
reason of the aforesaid robbery at Wiggenhall ; where-
fore he commanded Master Simon de Ashley, who was
then our Treasurer, to furnish the lord with a horse.
He therefore, in obedience to the Prior, sent an ancient
horse, great and lean, which alone he had then at hand.
The lord John and his men, seeing this beast, cried
aloud, " Whence cometh this ancient devil ? " and
they walked round our horse with mighty laughter,
some showing his teeth, others feeling his head and
back with their fingers, others again dragging him by
his miserable tail, others pricking him and provoking
him to kick. Some cried : " Let him be flayed ! "
others : " Let him be burned ! " In short, the lord
bade them take him back whence he had come ; and
within a few days he sent a knight of his household
with certain others, saying to the Prior : " Our lord,
the lord John de Burgh, hath sent us to thee saying
that he saluteth thee not, nor giveth thee thanks for
that ancient horse which thou hast lent him. He
commandeth thee therefore to send him in all haste a
good ambling palfrey, not as a loan but as a gift ; send
therefore thine answer by us without delay." The
Prior, considering the time and the person, strove to
answer meekly, saying : " Would that I had a good
palfrey, and proper for jour lord's need ! Once I had
such ; yet will I now gladly give whereof I possess."
Therewith he sent a new-bought palfrey, small of
stature but of good pace ; which the lord took and
hath never sent back even unto this day ; nevertheless
his fury was appeased.

216.— Drforu a^anners.

The following inquests are chosen as typical cases from the few
surviving Oxford Coroners' Kolls which are printed on pp. 150 ff. of
Professor J. E. T, Rogers' Oxford City Documents. Of the twenty-nine
inquests there recorded, thirteen disclose murders committed by
students. This is partly attributable to the fact that the student,

Oxford Manners. 449

being a cleric, could not be hanged for his first murder. Robert of
BridUngton, one of the heroes of No. 4 here below, was apparently not
even expelled from Oxford, but perished in a later affray between Town
and Gown.

(i) 1297.

T befel on the Monday next following the
Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in
the 25th year of King Edward, that John
IVIetescharp of Oxford died in the house of
Ralph the surgeon in the parish of St.
Aldate's, and that same day he was viewed by John de
Oseney coroner to the Lord King ; and he had a wound
in his left side from a certain small arrow of the breadth
of half an inch, and the depth of five inches ; and that
same day an inquest was held before the aforesaid
coroner by the oath of Thomas de Morton, Thomas le
Parmenter, John de Stamford, Richard de Bampton,
Thomas de Lewes, Geoffrey le Smith and Thomas le
Turner, jurymen of the parish of St. i^ldate ; Nicholas

Online LibraryG. G. (George Gordon) CoultonA medieval garner; human documents from the four centuries preceding the reformation → online text (page 38 of 61)