G. G. (George Gordon) Coulton.

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

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de Lincoln, Nicholas de Weston, Richard Sutton, John
de Themele, William King and John le Furnur, jurymen
of the parish of St. Ebbe, Adam de Tilhurst, William
de Godstow, Richard de Eynsham, Alexander de
Bloxham, Robert de Quenjniton and Robert de Ful-
broke, jurymen of the parish of St. Peter in the BaUey,
Thomas de Weston, Thomas de Boleworth, Walter de
E3Tisham and Gilbert de Cowley, jurymen of the parish
of St. Martin ; and all the aforesaid jurymen say on
their oath that on the Saturday, on the feast of the
Purification of the aforesaid year, a certain Michael,
manciple to the clerks who dwell in Bull Hall in the
parish of St. Aldate, and a certain clerk named John
de Skurf and one Madoc, a clerk of Wales, went through
the streets v/ith swords and bows and arrows shortly
before the hour of curfew and assaulted all who passed
by, wherefore the hue and cry was raised, and the
aforesaid John Metescharp with others hearing the
hue came forth from their houses to keep the Lord
King's peace ; and, when the aforesaid John came
into the street, forthwith the aforesaid Michael shot
him and inflicted the aforesaid wound, whence he died ;


45° A Medieval Garner,

but he had all his church rights* ; and immediately
after the aforesaid deed the said Michael and all the
rest fled, so that they could not be attached ; nor could
an3rthing of their chattels be found.

(ii) 1301.
It befel on Thursday, the morrow of St. Nicholas'
Day in the thirtieth year of King Edward, that John
de Neushom, clerk and schoolmaster, was found dead
by Cherwell bank hard by Petty-pont. Isabella his
wife found him dead and raised the hue and cry : and
he was seen that same day by John de Oseney, Coroner,
and he had no wound nor any apparent hurt ; whereof
an inquest was held that same day, by the oath of
John Pylle, William le Shoesmith, Henry le Slater,
John le Cooper, John le Miller, Thomas le Taylor and
Adam de Tew, Jurymen of the parish of St. Peter's
in the east ; and Ralph Baker, John le Lecche, Nicholas
de Hanred, Henry le Cobbler, William de Clobber and
Henry le Tailor, jurymen of the parish of St. John ;
William de Milton, Thomas Bygod, Roger le Fletcher,
Andrew de Cowley, and John de Cokesgrave, jurymen
of the parish of St. Mary the Virgin ; Philip le Glover,
Robert de Ocle, John le Smith and Ralph de Chilton,
jurymen of the parish of All Saints. And all the
aforesaid jurymen say upon their oath that, on the
Monday late past, the said John de Neushom went
after dinner to seek rods for the chastisement of the
boys whom he taught, and climbed upon a certain
willow to cut such rods, hard by the mill-pond called
Temple Mill, where by misadventure he fell into the
water and was drowned. And the aforesaid jurymen sat
upon their oath that no man is guilty of his death. The
pledges of the said wife who found him, that she would
be etc.,t are John John de Faringdon and Adam de Tew.

(iii) 1306.
It befel upon the Sunday next after the feast of the

* i.e., absolution and extreme unction. The " clerks " were, of
course, university students,

f i.e., that she would attend again if required for further inquiries
or formalities : of. Gross's Select Coroners^ Rolls, p. 94. (Eynsham.)

Oxford Manners. 45 1

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, in the 34th year of
King Edward, that Gilbert de Foxlee, clerk, died at
his lodging in the parish of St. Peter m the East about
the hour of noon, and on the Monday following he
was viewed by Thomas Lisewys, Coroner of the Lord
King for the City of Oxford ; and he had a wound in
his left leg, hard by the knee, of the breadth of four
inches all around, and of the depth of an inch and a half.
Whereof an inquest was held before the said Coroner
by the oath of [etc., etc.] . . . And [the jury] say on
their oath that, on Thursday the Eve of St. John last
past, the tailors of Oxford and other towTisfolk with
them held a wake in their shops the whole night
through, singing and making their solace with citherns,
tiddles, and divers other instruments, as the use and
custom is to do there and elsewhere on account of
the solemnity of that Feast. And after midnight,
finding that no man was wandering there in the streets,
they went forth from their shops, and others with them,
and held their dances* in the High Street in face of
the Cloth Hall ; and, as they thus played, there came
the aforesaid Gilbert de Foxlee, with a certain naked
and d^a^vn sword in his hand, and began forthwith to
contend with them, purposing by all means to break
up that dance : but certain of them who were of his
acquaintance, seeing this, came to him and would
have led him away, and besought him to harm no
man ; yet for all that the aforesaid Gilbert would not
promise, but forthwith broke away from them and
came back and assaulted one William^ de Claydon,
whose hand he would have cut off with his sword as
he went round in the dance, unless he had drawn
suddenly back ; whereupon Henry de Beaumont,
Cruisor, fell upon Gilbert, together with Thomas de
Bloxham, William de Leye servant to John de Leye,
and the aforesaid William de Claydon ; and the afore-

* Cf. Chaucer, Miller's Tale.

In twenty manners he could skip and dance,
(After the school of Oxenforde though,)
And with his legges casten to and fro.

452 A Medieval Garner.

said Henry wounded him with a sword in the right
arm, and the aforesaid Thomas with a misericorde in
the back, and the aforesaid William upon the head, so
that he fell. Then William de Leye, with a certain axe
called spar-axe, struck him forthwith upon the left
leg and inflicted the aforesaid wound whereof he died
on the Sunday aforesaid: yet he Hved eight weeks
and two days and a half, and had all his church rights.

(iv) 1314.

It befel, etc. . . . and [the Jury] say upon their
oath that, on the Saturday aforesaid, after the hour
of noon, the Northern clerks on the one part, and the
Southern and Western clerks on the other, came to
St. John's Street and Grope Lane with swords, bucklers,
bows, arrows and other arms, and there they fought
together ; and in that conflict Robert de Bridlington,
Adam de Alderbeck, Richard de Louthby and Richard
de Holwell stood together in a certain Soler in Gutter
Hall, situate in St. John's Street, shooting down
through a window into Grope Lane : and there the
said Robert de Bridlington, with a small arrow, smote
the aforesaid Henry of Holy Isle and wounded him
hard by the throat, on the left side in front ; and the
wound was of the breadth of one inch, and in depth
even unto the heart ; and thus he slew him. Moreover
the aforesaid jury say that [the others above-named]
incited the said Robert to shoot the same Henry dead,
and to slay him, and they were consenting unto his
death. . . . And in the same conflict John de Benton
came with a falchion into Grope Lane and gave David
de Kirkby a blow on the back of the head, six inches
in length and in depth even unto the brain. At which
same time came William de la Hyde and smote the
aforesaid David with a sword across his right knee
and leg : and at the same time came William de Astley
and smote the said David under the left arm v/ith a
misericorde, and thus they slew him. Moreover, con-
cerning the goods of the aforesaid evildoers, or those
who have received them, the jury say that they know

Primitive Medicine. 453

Side by side with the coroner's view of these wounds it may be
interesting to read the doctor's. The following extracts are from the
recipes collected by Prof. Henslow {Medical Works of the Fourteenth
Century. Chapman and Hall, 1899).

217.— Ct)e perfect Leecb.

(P. 25. Title in Latin.) Here we treat of wounds, if thou wilt know
whether the wounded man may recover or no.

HAKE pimpernole [salad bumet] and stampe
hit and tempere hit with water and gif
hym to drinke, and zif hit go out at ye
wonde he schal live.

Another :

Zif h}^! to drynke letuse with water and zyf he
spewe he schal be dyd.

Another :

Zif hym to drynke cristal [ice], and if he spewe hit
he schal be dyde.

Another :

Zyi hym to drynke mensore* with ale and zef he
holde hit tille that other day that same tyme he schal
leve. . . .

For rankelyng of a wonde — ^take rede nettel and
salt and stamp to-gedir, and drynke the Jus fastyng.

Another :

Good tret [ointment ?] y-provyd wel, helyng everich
wonde ; (and if thou wilt prove it, take a cock and
smite him in the brain and hold thee from [him] till
he be almost dead, and then carve of this trete and
lay it to his head and soon after he shall stand up and
crow loudly ; hit befallit so other-whyle ; but how-so
hit be, this he shall have ;) take a good handful of
vervejme and another of pimpernole and another of
bitayne [betony ?] and grind them well together in a
mortar, and seethe them well in a gallon of white wine
till the half-deal be sodden away ; then wring through
a cloth and cast away the herbs and do the liquor into
a pot for to seethe, and cast thereto a pound of resin
or of clean coperose [copperas] ; lue [dilute ?] it a

* Prof. Henslow cannot identify this word.

454 A Medieval Garner.

little of the small liquor cast thereto and do it boil
together, then take 41b. of virgin wax and resolve it
in a woman's milk that beareth a knave child* and
do thereto afterward an oz. of mastic and an oz. of
frankincense, and let them boil well together till it
be well y-mellyd ; and then do it off the fire and in
the doing a down look thou have y-broke half a pound
of tormentille well y-powdered all ready, and cast
therein, and stir all-a-way without boiling till it be
cold and then take up that floateth above and smere
thine hand with oil or with fresh butter and bear it
again to the fire as thou wilt bear wax, till it be well
y-mellid, and do therewith as thou wilt.

* This same ingredient occurs again on p. 51, for wounds in the head.




218.— Cbe Eesourceful Jongleur.

Jean de Beaume was a Dominican friar who died about 1312. The
following anecdote from one of his sermons is recorded in the Histoire
Litteraire de la France, vol. XXVII., p. 154.

N my country there was a jongleur named
Roland, who grew old and lost favour, so
that his tricks ceased to divert. Yet he
repaired to all the feasts ; and, when the
old man appeared at a wedding, the women
would laugh and say, " Hold out thy bowl, Roland,
and we will give thee somewhat :" whereat he would hold
his bowl and they would give him alms. Now it befel
one day that a silver cup was lost, and the men of
the household accused him of the theft, saying :
" There is none here whom we can suspect, for all are
rich ; but we accuse thee, who alone art poor." As
Roland swore that they accused him falsely : " Then,"
cried the others, " thou must prove thine innocence
by the ordeal of hot iron." " Yea, let heat the iron."
The bar heated, they proffered it to the jongleur, who
held out his bowl to receive it, saying, " lay it there."
'* Nay," said they, " but thou must needs touch with
thine hand, since thou claimest to be innocent." To

The Resourceful Jongleur. 455

which he rephed, " Ye therefore swear likewise to
your innocence, and if ye will that I believe you, touch
the iron first ; I will touch after you, but by no means
before ! " Thus is it with the preacher who would fain
persuade his hearers to gain salvation by works of
charity ; he must first grasp the iron — that is to say,
not only speak well but do well : otherwise they will
have no faith in him.

The Grandes Chroniques de St. Denis, according to the learned and
enthusiastic Pauhn Paris, are " perhaps the most beautiful, the most
glorious historical monument which was ever raised in any language
or among any nation, except that Book par excellence, the Holy Bible."
At least, none reflects the spirit of its age more clearly than this. It
was a book of very gradual growth, begotten of successive attempts to
set before the laity, in their own tongue, the historical treasures hitherto
accessible only in Latin, more especially among the archives of the
royal monastery of St. Denis, It owed its inception to the command
of Phihp the Bold — unless indeed this monarch was here only carrying
out the instructions of his father St. Louis. A monk of St. Denis,
named Primat, was commissioned with the work, which was presented
to the king in 1274. This was the first version, which attained some-
thing like its final form in about 1310, except that successive genera-
tions constantly added fresh matter to bring it up to date. From 1350
onwards, these additions have no further connection with St. Denis,
but are purely secular. The text here used is that of Paulin Paris.
6 vols. 1836."'

219.— Cbe ilap^TBrot&er anD tbe DetJil.

(Vol. V, p. 157).

I HIS same year [1303], on the Saturday before
Christmas, a Lay-Brother of Vaux-Cernay,
of the Order of Citeaux, whose name was
xA.dam and who was warden of a Grange
named Croches, hard by Chevreuse — this
Adam, I say, awoke on the Saturday aforesaid, before
daybreak, yet believing indeed that it was day, and
set out on horseback with a servant on foot by his
side. When therefore he had ridden forward a little
space, he was aware of the Devil in visible shape under
four or five forms, at some distance from the Grange

45 6 A Medieval Garner.

aforesaid. For, as he rode along, saying his accus-
tomed prayers in lieu of mattins and hours, he saw
before him as it were a great tree in the road whereby
he went, which said tree (as he thought) came hastily
to meet him. Then his horse fell a-trembling and
became half-crazy, so that he had much ado to guide
him in the right way ; and his servant, for his part,
began to shudder, and the hairs of his head stood on
end, and he was smitten with so great an horror that
he could scarce stand on his feet or follow after his
master. Then that same tree began to draw near
unto the Lay-Brother aforesaid ; and, when it was
come nigh, it seemed dark and as it were covered
with hoar-frost. Seeing this, he would fain have
ridden by without touching it ; but there issued
therefrom a hideous stench of corruption. Then that
Lay-Brother knew how this was the Devil, who would
have done him harm ; wherefore he set himself to cry
upon the most blessed Virgin Mary as devoutly as he
might. So, after that he had recommended himself
to our Lady, he began to ride very slowly, as one in
sore dismay ; then again he saw the Devil riding behind
him on his right side ; and the fiend seemed in human
form, some two feet distant from the Brother aforesaid ;
yet no word did he say. Then the Brother took heart
of grace and spake unto the Devil, saying : " Evil
one, how art thou so bold as to assail me at this hour,
while my Brethren sing their mattins and lauds, praying
for me and for the other absent Brethren to God and
the Blessed Virgin Mary, to whom this blessed day
of Saturday is hallowed ? Get thee hence, for thou hast
no part or lot in me, who have vowed myself a servant
of the Virgin." Then the Devil vanished away ;
nevertheless again for the third time he appeared in
the form of a man of great stature, yet with a small
and slender neck, standing there hard by. And then
the Lay-Brother, being in grievous indignation to be
so let and hindered of the Devil, took a little sword that
he bore at his side, and began to smite manfully ; yet
were his strokes as vain as though he had smitten a
cloth hanging in the air. Again, for the fourth time

Lay-Brother and Devil. 457

this Devil appeared to the said Brother Adam, in
the garb of a black man, neither too great nor too
small, even as it had been a black monk of St. Benedict,
with big and gleaming eyes like unto two copper
cauldi'ons newly furbished or newly gilt. Then the
said Brother, who was now sore wearied and troubled
with the vexation that this Devil made upon him,
thought within himself to smite him in one of those
eyes : whereunto he aimed his stroke to smite ; but
therewith his cowl fell over his eyes, and so he lost
his stroke. Then again the Devil came in shape as a
strange beast, having great ears like unto an ass.
Then said the servant unto the Brother his master,
'• Sir, i have heard say that whosoever maketh a great
circle, setting the sign of the cross in the midst and
all round about, then the Devil is never so hardy as to
come near. This Evil One vexeth you too sore ;
wherefore I counsel you to do as I say." Then the
Brother took his little sword that he wore, (which
sword had a blade sharp on either side) and made
therewith a circle ; in the midst whereof, and all
around, he made the sign of the cross ; and within
he set his horse with his servant. Then he went to
meet the Devil on foot, and began to assail him with
many injurious and reviling words ; and at length
he spat in his face. Then the Devil changed his great
ears into horns, and it seemed as though he were a
horned ass : seeing which, the Lay-Brother would have
cut off one of his horns ; but his stroke leapt back as
though he had smitten upon a marble-stone, for it
did the Devil no harm. Then cried the servant to
his master, " Sir, make upon yourself the sign of the
cross." Then the said Brother signed himself : where-
upon the Devil went suddenly thence, in shape of a
great rolling barrel, towards a town called Molieres
that lay hard by ; and that Brother saw him no more.
Then he set out again on his way, for it was now clear
day, and came as best he might to his Abbot, who was
at one of the Granges with other Abbots of that Order ;
to which Grange the Abbot had bidden that Brother
to dine with him. Thither he came, early in the

458 A Medieval Garner.

morning, and told them of the adventure that had
befallen him : thus therefore doth he testify who wrote
this chronicle, and who was there present when that
said Brother pledged his faith by oath before the Abbot
of this Order, that whatsoever is here above written
did indeed befall him, in the form and manner wherein
he told it. And thereunto again beareth this present
writer witness, that he knoweth that place well, and
that he saw the very horse ; which before then had
been peaceful and debonnair, yet thenceforth he was
ever impetuous and as it were half-crazy. All which
things were confessed and testified upon oath by the
said servant who was with the Brother Avhen these
things came to pass. And we must needs strip that
Lay-Brother of the frock that he had worn, (so pestilent
was the stench thereof), and clothe him with one of
the other Brethren's frocks.

220.— OHitcbcraft ^rtraorninarp.

(Vol. V, p. 269).

OREOVER, it befel in this year [1323] that
an abbey of the Cistercian Order was robbed
of a marvellous great sum of money. So
they managed by the procuration of a man
who dwelt at Chateau-Landon and had been
provost there (for which cause he was still called Jean
Prevost) that an agreement was made between him
and an evil sorcerer, that they should contrive to
discover the thieves and compel them to make restitu-
tion, in the fashion here following. First, the sorcerer
let make a chest, with the help of the said Jean Prevost,
wherein they clapped a black cat ; and this they
buried in a pit in the fields, right at a cross-way, and
set three days' meat for the cat within that chest, to
wit bread steeped and softened in chrism and conse-
crated oils and holy water* ; and, in order that the

* In the face of such abuses of tMngs consecrated, the church Councils
of the Middle Ages constantly insisted that the Pyx, the Chrismatory,
and the Font must be kept under lock and key in all churches. The
neglect of these precautions is one of the points most frequently noted
by official visitors.

Witchcraft Extraordinary. 459

cat thus interred might not die, there were two holes
in the chest and two long pipes which rose above
the earth thrown over that chest, by which pipes the
air might enter therein and suffer the cat to breathe
in and out. Now it befel that certain shepherds,
leading their flocks afield, passed by this crossway as
had ever been their wont ; and their dogs began to
scent and get wind of the cat, so that within a brief
while they had found the place where she lay. Then
began they to scratch and dig with their claws, for
all the world as it had been a mole, nor could any man
tear them away from that spot. When the shepherds
saw that their dogs would by no means depart thence,
then they drew near and heard the cat mew, whereat
they were much amazed. And, seeing that the dogs
still scratched without ceasing, one who was wiser than
the rest sent word of this matter to the justice, who
came forthwith to the place and found the cat and
the chest, even as it had all been contrived ; whereat
he was much astonished, and many others who were
come with him. And while this provost of Chateau-
Landon pondered anxiously within himself how he might
take or find the author of so horrible a witchcraft, (for
he saw well that this had never been done but for some
black art ; but whereof or by whom he knew not) then
it came to pass, as he thought within himself and
looked at the chest which was newly-made, that he
called all the carpenters of that town, and asked them
who had made this chest. At which demand a carpenter
came forward and said that he had made it at the
instance of a man named Jean Prevost ; " But so help
me God," quoth he, " as I knew not to what purpose
he had bidden me make it." Then within a brief
space this Jean Prevost was taken upon suspicion,
and put to the question of the rack : upon which he
accused one Jean Persant as the principal author,
contriver, and inventor of this cursed witchcraft ;
and afterwards he accused a monk of Citeaux, an
apostate, as the special disciple of this Jean Persant, and
the Abbot of Sarquenciaux [Serquigny ?] of the Order
of Citeaux, and certain Canons Regular,* who were

* Cf. Chaucer. Canon's Yeoman's Tale.

460 A Medieval Garner.

all abettors of this wickedness. All of whom were
taken and bound and brought before the Official of
the Archbishop of Sens and the Inquisitor at Paris.
When they were come before them, men enquired of
them — and of these more especially of whom they knew
by report that they were masters in this devilish art —
wherefore they had done this thing. To which they
answered that, if the cat had dwelt three days long at
those four cross-roads, then they would have drawn
him forth and flayed him ; and from his hide they
would have made three thongs, which they would have
drawn out to their fullest extent and knotted together,
so that they might make a circle within the compass
whereof a man might be comprised and contained.
Which when they had done, he who was in the midst
of the circle would first nourish himself in devilish
fashion with the meat wherewith this cat had been
fed ; without which these invocations would be null
and of none effect. After which he would have called
upon a devil named Berich, who would presently have
come without delay, and would have answered all
their questions and discovered the thefts, with all
those that had been principal movers therein and all
who had set their hands thereunto ; and in answer to
their questions he would have told them all the evil
to be done. Upon the hearing of these confessions
and downright devilries, Jean Prevost and Jean
Persant, as authors and principals in this cursed witch-
craft, were adjudged to be burned and punished with
fire ; but while the matter v/as drawn out and delayed,
Jean Prevost chanced to die ; whose bones and body
were burned to ashes in detestation of so horrible a
crime, and the other, to wit Jean Persant, was bound
to the stake with the cat around his neck, and burned
to ashes on the morrow of St. Nicholas' day ; after
which the Abbot, and the apostate monk, and the
other Canons Regular who had administered the
chrism and other matters to this witchcraft, were first
degraded and then, by all rules of law, condemned
and put into prison for their lives.

Moreover there was in this same year a monk of

Witchcraft Extraordinary. 461

Morigny, an abbey hard by Etampes, who by his
curiosity and pride would fain have revived and renewed
that condemned heresy and sorcery which is called
in Latin ars notoria : but he had thought to give it
another title and name. Now this science is such
that it teacheth to make figures and imprescs, which
must be ditTerent from each other and assigned each
to a separate science ; then they must be contemplated
for a certain while spent in prayers and fasting ; and
thus, after this steady contemplation, that science

Online LibraryG. G. (George Gordon) CoultonA medieval garner; human documents from the four centuries preceding the reformation → online text (page 39 of 61)