G. G. (George Gordon) Coulton.

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

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When the King of England saw how they came on,
then he addressed his ship straight to a Spanish ship
which came in the vanguard, crying to his steersman,
" Lay your helm right upon that ship which cometh
hither, for I would fain joust against him." The
mariner, who would never have dared to gainsay the
king's will, steered straight for that Spanish ship,
which bore down boisterously before the wind. The
king's ship was stout and well bound, else had it surely
been burst ; for it met with that Spanish ship, which
was big and bulky, with such a crash that it seemed
like the bursting of a storm ; and, with the shock of
their meeting, the top-castle of the King's ship smote
so sore against the Spaniard that the force of that mast
brake it from above the mast whereon it sat, and spilt
it into the sea ; so that all were drowned and lost who
sat therein. With which shock the King's ship was so

The Spaniards on the Sea. 501

aghast that it cracked and drew water, whereof his
knights were soon aware, yet said naught thereof to
the king, but bestirred themselves to bale and empty
her. Then said the King who saw before his face this
ship against which he had jousted : " Grapple my ship
with this here, for I would fain take her." Then
answered his knights : " Sire, leave this alone ; ye
shall have a better." So that ship sailed on, and
another gi*eat vessel came up, whereunto the knights
grappled with chains and hooks of steel. Then began
a battle both hard and sharp and strong ; for the
archers shot their shafts, and the Spaniards fought and
defended themselves with a right good will ; and this
not in one place only, but in ten or twelve. When
therefore they found themselves well matched against
the stoutest of their enemies, then they grappled with
them and did marvellous feats of arms. Yet the
English had no whit of advantage. For the Spaniards
were in those great ships of theirs, far higher and bigger
than the English ships ; whereof they had great advan-
tage in shooting, in hurling, and in casting great bars
of iron wherewith they gave the English much to suffer.
The knights of the King of England who were in his
ship, seeing that it drew water and was in peril of
foundering, made hot haste to conquer that ship
whereunto they were grappled ; and there were many
doughty deeds of arms done. At length the King and
his men bare themselves so well that this ship was won,
and all her crew cast overboard.* Then they told the
King in what peril he was, and how his ship made
water, and that he must needs come on board that
which he had won. So he inclined to this advice and
came on board with his knights and all the mariners,
and left the other empty ; and then they pressed for-
wards again to make assault upon their enemies, who
fought right valiantly, and had crossbowmen who shot
quarrels from strong crossbows, and gave much travail
to the English.

* Cf. the Mariner of Chaucer's Prologue :

If that be foughte, and hadde the heigher hand,

By water he sent hem hoom to every land. ;

502 A Medieval Garner.

This battle of the Spaniards and English was hard
and strong and well fought ; but it began late in the
day, wherefore the English had much ado to achieve
their task and to discomfit their enemies. Moreover
the Spaniards, who are men trained to the sea and who
had great and stout vessels, acquitted themselves
loyally as best they might. On the other part fought
the young Prince of Wales and those under his charge ;
their ship was grappled and fixed to a great Spanish
vessel, and there the Prince and his men had much to
suffer, for their ship was pierced and broken in several
places, wherefore the water rushed in with great vehe-
mence ; and, for all that they might do to cast it forth,
the ship waxed still the heavier. Wherefore all the
Prince's men were in great anguish of fear, and fought
most fiercely to win that Spanish ship ; but in vain,
for she was stoutly guarded and defended. Upon this
peril and danger wherein the Prince and his men stood,
then came the Duke of Lancaster sailing hard by the
Prince's vessel, and learned how they could win no whit
of advantage and how their ship was in sore straits ;
for men cast the water forth on every side. Therefore
he went round and stayed at the Spanish ship, and
cried, " A Derby to the rescue ! " Then were these
Spaniards assaulted and foughten most fiercely withal,
that they lasted not long after. Thus was their ship
won, and all were cast overboard without taking any
mercy ; and the Prince of Wales with his men entered
into their ship. Scarce were they come in, when their
own ship sank to the bottom ; and then they considered
more fully the great peril wherein they had stood.

On the other side fought the English barons and
knights, each as he was ordered and established ; and
sore need had they to bear themselves stoutly and
busily, for they found a sharp welcome. So it came to
pass, late in the evening, that the ship of the King's
Hall, whereof my lord Robert of Namur was chief, was
grappled in fierce and tough fight with a great Spanish
ship ; and the said Spaniards, desiring to master their
enemies better at their ease and to take the vessel with
all that were therein, set all their intent upon carrying





504 A Medieval Garner.

her away with them. Wherefore they hoisted sail,
and took all advantage of the wind, and sailed away
for all that my lord Robert and his men might do ; for
the Spanish ship was greater and bigger than theirs,
and thus they had good advantage for the mastery.
While they thus sailed, they passed by the King's ship :
wherefore they cried aloud, " Rescue now the King's
Hall ! " But no man heard them, for the hour was
late ; and, even had they been heard, none could have
rescued them. And methinks these Spaniards would
have led them away at their ease, when a servant of
my lord Robert, whose name was Hankin, did there a
doughty deed of arms ; for he made his spring, with a
naked sword in his hand, and leapt into the Spanish
ship ; there he came to the mast and cut the rope that
bare the sail, which fell without force to the deck — ^for,
with great valiance of body, this Hankin cut four
master-ropes that governed the mast and the sail —
wherefore the said sail fell to the deck, so that the ship
stayed still and might go no further. Then my lord
Robert of Namur and his men, seeing their advantage,
came forward and leapt into the Spanish ship with a
right good will, having their drawn swords in their
hands ; and they made fierce assault upon all such as
they found therein, until all were slain and cast into
the sea ; and the ship was won.

I cannot say of all these men, " This one did well,
and that one better." But there was fought, the while
it endured, a most fierce and bitter battle ; and the
Spaniards gave much ado to the King of England and
his men. Yet at the last the victory remained with
the English, and the Spaniards lost fourteen ships ;
the remnant sailed on and escaped. When they were
all gone, and the King with his men knew no longer
with whom to fight, then they sounded their trumpets
for retreat and made head for England, and landed at
Rye and Winchelsea soon after nightfall. Then forth-
with the King and his sons, the Prince and the Earl of
Richmond, the Duke of Lancaster and certain barons
who were there, disembarked from their ships and took
horse in the town and rode towards the Queen's manor

A Picturesque Bandit. 505

which was two English leagues distant from thence.
Then was the Queen glad at heart when she beheld her
lord and her sons, seeing that she had suffered great
anguish of heart that day for fear of the Spaniards ;
for men had seen the fight well enough from the hills
on that part of the English coasts, for the air was full
fine and clear. Wherefore the queen, who had required
to know the truth, had heard how the Spaniards had
more than forty great ships ; how^ great then was now
her comfort to see her spouse and his sons ! Then the
lords and ladies passed all that night in gi'eat revel,
devising of arms and of love. Next day the greater
part of the barons and lords who had fought in that
battle came to the King, w^ho thanked them heartily
for their deeds and their service ; and then they took
their leave and departed each to his own home.*

* The later text of Froissart printed by Simeon Luce describes how
the queen had spent all day praying in an abbey ; how the \actor3
rejoined her only at two o'clock in the morning, and how the minstrels
were arrayed next day in the fine cloth of Valenciennes taken from the

238.— a Picture0quc TBantiit,

IJYMERIGOT MARCEL was sore displeased
with himself in that he had sold and deli-

vered the strong castle of Aloise by St.
Flour : for he saw his ow^n authority thereby
greatly abated, and perceived well how he
was the less feared : for all the season that he kept it,
he was redoubted and feared, and honoured with all
men of war of his party, and had kept a great estate
always in the castle of Aloise : the blackmail of countries
that he held under subjection was well worth yearly
twenty thousand florins. When he remembered all
this he was sorrowful ; his treasure he thought he w^ould
not minish ; he was wont daily to search for new
pillages, whereby he increased his profit, and then he
saw that all was closed from him. Then he said and
imagined, that he had too soon repented of well-doing,
and that to kill and to rob even as he had done before.

5o6 A Medieval Garner.

(all things considered), was a good life. On a time he
said to his old companions, who had helped him with
this device of war : " Sirs, there is no pastime nor
sport, nor glory in this world but that of men of war,
to use such life as we have done m time past. What a
joy it was to us when we rode forth at adventure, and
sometime found by the way a rich abbot or prior or
merchant, or a route of mules of Montpellier, of Nar-
bonne, of Limoges, of Fougaron, of Beziers, of Toulouse,
or of Carcassone, laden with cloth of Brussels, or
musterdevillers or peltryware, coming from the fairs or
laden with spicery from Bruges, from Damascus, or
from Alexandria ; whatsoever we met all was ours, or
else ransomed at our pleasures ; daily we gat new
money, and the villeins of Auvergne, and of Limousin,
daily provided and brought to our castle wheat, meal,
bread ready baken, oats for our horses, and litter, good
wines, beeves, and fat muttons, pullets, and wild fowl ;
we were ever furnished as though we had been kings :
when we rode forth all the country trembled for fear,
all was ours going or coming. How took we Carlat, I
and the Bourg of Compiegne, and I and Pierrot of
Beam took Chalucet ? How did we scale without
other aid the strong castle of Marquay, pertaining to
the earl Dauphin ! I kept it not past five days but I
received for it on a fair table five thousand francs, and
forgave one thousand for the love of the Earl Dauphm's
children ! By my faith, this was a fair and a good life,
wherefore I repute myself sore deceived in that I have
rendered up the fortress of Aloise : for it would have
been kept from all the world ; and the day that I gave
it up, it was furnished with victuals to have been kept
seven year without any revictualling : this earl of
Armagnac hath deceived me ; Olivier Barbe, and
Pierrot of Beam, shewed me how 1 should repent
myself : certainly I sore repent me of that I have done."
And, when such of his companions as were poor and
had served him long heard him speak these words,
they perceived well how he spake them with all his
heart unfeigned ; then they said to him : " Aymerigot,
we are all ready yet to serve you : let us renew again

A Picturesque Bandit. 507

our war, and let us get some stronghold in Auvergne,
or in Limousin, and let us fortify it ; and then, sir, we
shall soon recover our damages ; we shall make a
goodly flight in Auvergne, and in Limousin ; for, as
now, the earl Dauphin and Hugh his brother are out of
the country, and divers other knights and squires in
their company into the voyage of Barbary, and spe-
cially the lord of Coucy, who hath the sovereign
regard under the king of all those marches ; therefore
we shall not need to fear him, nor the duke of Berry,
for he is disporting himself at Paris, so thus we shall
have now a good season." " Well," quoth Aymerigot,
" I have good will thus to do, saving I am by name
expressed in the charter of the truce." " What for
that, sir," quoth his company ; "ye need not care
therefore if ye list ; ye are not subject to the French
king, ye owe him neither faith nor obeisance : ye are
the Kmg of England's man, for your heritage (which is
all destroyed and lost) lieth in Limousin ; and, sir, we
must live ; and though we make war to live, the
Englishmen will not be miscontent with us, and such
as be in our case will draw to us : and sir, we have now
good title to make war, for we in Auvergne, having all
been paid the blackmail which men owe us there, let
us send to the villeins of the villages when we be once
in a stronghold, and command them to pay us a tribute,
or else to make them sore war." " Well, so be it ! "
quoth Aymerigot, " first let us provide for a strong
place to abide in, and to draw unto when we need."
Some of them said, " Sir, we know where there is a
dismantled stronghold, abandoned of all, pertaining to
the heritage of the lord de la Tour : no man keepeth
it : let us draw thither and fortify it, then when we
have garnished it may we at our ease run into Auvergne
and Limousin." " Where lieth this place ? " quoth
Aymerigot. " Sir," quoth they, " within a league of
la Tour, and it is called la Roche de Vendais." " By
my faith," quoth Aymerigot, " I know it well : it is a
meet place for us ; let us go thither and fortify it."
Thus on this purpose they concluded, and on a day
assembled together and went to la Roche de Vendais.

5o8 A Medieval Garner.

Then Aymerigot aviewed the place to see if it were
worth the fortifying thereof ; and when he had well
aviewed the situation thereof, and the defences that
might be made there, it pleased him right well. Thus
they took it and fortified it little and little, or ever they
raided and began to do any displeasure in the country ;
and when they saw the place strong sufficiently to resist
against siege or assault, and that they were well horsed,
and well provided of all things necessary for their
defence, then they began to ride abroad in the country,
and took prisoners and ransomed them, and provided
their hold with flesh, meal, wax, wine, salt, iron, and
steel, and of all other necessaries ; there came nothing
amiss to them without it had been too heavy or too hot.
The country all about, and the people, weening to have
been in rest and peace by reason of the truce made
between the two kings and their realms, they began
then to be sore abashed ; for these robbers and pillers
took them in their houses, and wheresoever they found
them, in the fields labouring ; and they called them-
selves Adventurers.

The Gesta Abhatum S. Alhani is a chronicle of the Abbots of that
great house compiled about 1350 by Thomas Walsingham, precentor
of the Abbey and last of the great Enghsh chroniclers. The writer had
access to the wide collection of documents in his abbey ; the Gesta
extends from 793 to 1349, and Walsingham's own Historia Anglicana
goes down to 1422. The edition of the Gesta here used is that pubUshed
in the Rolls Series ; it is brilhantly summarized by Froude in one of his
Short Studies (Annals of an English Abbey).

239.— cije ConqueteD (2Bnglislj.

(Vol. I, p. 41).

N the days of this abbot [Frederic, 1064-1067]
England was taken and subdued by the
Normans, and evils began to multiply on
the earth, according to the exposition of a
vision of the sainted King Edward, who
saw the Seven Sleepers turning from their right sides
to their left. Which was an omen to mortals, and more

The Conquered English. 5^9

especially to the English ; robbery and envy, pride and
nightlong dicing, swilling and divers forms of lechery,
uncleanness and perjury, began their unhappy career,
even as the little fire of charity began to wax cold.
The country was full of wandering housebreakers and
robbers. The nightlong dice, with horrible oaths con-
trary to English wont, stirred up strife and man-
slaughter ; and the Age of Silver — nay, rather, of Clay
— succeeded to the now fading Golden Age. The lords
of England, who since Brutus' days had never known
the yoke of slavery, were now scorned, derided, and
trodden under foot : they were compelled to shave
their beards and clip their flowing locks in the Norman
fashion : casting aside their horns and wonted drinking-
vessels, their feasts and carousals, they were compelled
to submit to new^ laws. Wherefore many of the English
nobles refused the yoke of slavery and fled with all their
households to live by plunder in the woods, so that
scarce any man could go safely abroad in his own
neighbourhood ; the houses of all peaceful folk were
armed like a besieged city with bows and arrows, bills
and axes, clubs and daggers and iron forks ; the doors
were barred with locks and bolts. The master of the
house would say prayers as if on a tempest-tost bark ;
as doors or windows were closed, men said Benedicite,
and Dominus echoed reverently in response ; a custom
which lasted even into our own days [probably about
1150 A.D.].

240.— permits ann an ©ermitess.

(I, 07).

N the days of this abbot [Geoffrey, 1119-1146]
flourished Roger . . . who was indeed one
of our monks, but lived in an hermitage
under the obedience of his Abbot. The
hermitage wherein he dwelt may be seen by
the wayside on the right hand as you go from St.
Albans to Dunstable, hard by the village which in these
days is called Markyate ; and our Roger had taken this

5IO A Medieval Garner.

spot by God's gift, having been led thither by the
ministry and revelation of angels. . . . Never, as I
think, did the cunning fiend send sharper temptations,
or set more snares, for any man ; but he, armed with
the virtue of the Cross, conquered the first by God's
grace, and avoided the second with the utmost dis-
cretion. . . . His devoted disciple was the Blessed
Christina, a virgin born at Huntingdon, who for the
love of chastity had left her ample possessions, and the
home of a wealthy father. Yet he never consented to
see the virgin's face, though for four years and more she
was shut up in his cell. Now there was a building
adjoining the oratory of the said Roger, with which it
made an angle. This [angle], having a board before it,
might so be concealed as to lead the outside beholder
to suppose that no man was in this space, where there
was only [ ].* In this prison Roger

placed the joyful Christina, and set for a door a proper
oaken plank which was so heavy that the anchoress
could by no means move it either to or fro. Here the
handmaiden of Christ sat crouching on the hard cold
stone until Roger's death, that is for more than four
years, unknown to the five hermits and to all who dwelt
together with Roger. Oh, what discomforts she there
endured from heat and cold, hunger and thirst, and
daily fasting ! The place was too narrow for her to
wear the clothing needful for cold weather ; while in
the heat this close-fitting closet allowed her no refresh-
ment. Her entrails were shrivelled and dried up by
long fasting ; and at times, for her burning thirst, clots
of blood boiled up from her nostrils. Only at eventide

could she go forth ; since she

could not open the door for herself, however great
might be her need, and Roger was customably slow ;
so that she must needs sit motionless in her place, and
suffer torment, and hold her peace ; for if she would
have had Roger come to her, she must call to him or

* Tills sentence, as Eiley points out, is corrupt as it stands. It runs :
" Is, antepositam habens unam tabulam, poterat ita celari, ut de foris
aspicienti nullum interius liaberi persuaderet, ubi tantum plus palmo
semis inesset." But the general sense is sufficiently plain.

Hermits and Hermitcss. 5 1 1

smite upon the door, and how could the hidden virgin
do this, who dared not to utter even half a sigh ? For
she feared lest some other than Roger might be near,
who at the mere sound of her breath might discover
her hiding-place ; and she would rather have died in
her prison than make herself known at that time to any
person outside.

To all these sufferings were added many and terrible
diseases ; but she bore all her tribulations meekly
for the love of Christ. Yet Roger, the friend of God,
would teach her now with words, now by example, and
taught her almost incredible things of the secrets of
heaven ; for he showed himself such that his body
alone seemed to remain on earth, while his whole soul
conversed among heavenly things. And Christina
profited so much by Roger's doctrine that the Lord
Jesus Christ, fairer than the sons of men, appeared as
she sat in her cell, bearing a golden cross which He
gave for her comfort, bidding her not to fear, and saying
that all who would fain go to Jerusalem must needs
bear this cross : which, (as He promised) He would
soon take away from her ; after which He vanished
from her eyes. This vision she related to Roger, who
began to weep for joy, saying in the vulgar tongue,
" Rejoice with me, myn gode Sonendayes doghter "
(which is being interpreted, my good daughter of the
Lord^s Day)* "for your tribulation will soon be ended; "
and it came to pass as the man of God said. Roger
therefore, taking his hope from the multitude of graces
which he had proved Cliristina to possess, thought to
leave her as heir of his heimitage after his death. But
she, having been warned in a vision and comforted by
the Virgin Mary, knew that she would succeed to
Roger's dwelling.

In those days Thurstan, Archbishop of York, a lover
and cherisher of chaste pursuits and a faithful and
devoted friend to Roger for his sanctity's sake, came

* Sunday's child is still a German phrase for a lucky person ;
c/. the English rhyme :

Sunday's child is full of grace,
Monday's child is fair of face, &c., &c.

512 A Medieval Garner.

to these parts ; to whom Roger told of Christina's
purpose, beseeching that he would deign to grant her
his help. The Bishop therefore bade that he should
send the virgin to him, wishing to speak with her
privately concerning her purpose. Roger therefore,
having sent for Godescal of Cadingdon and his wife,
who were devoted friends of his, besought them to
return on the morrow and bring Christina to Redbourn,
whither the Archbishop intended to repair. When
therefore they had gladly consented, then said the man
of God : "Go home in peace, for I will pray for you,
and it may be that ye will not repent of the travail
which ye undergo for this handmaiden of God." They
departed therefore, both content with the single horse
which had borne them hither ; and as they leaned
forward* on their horse uphill through the winding
woodland paths, saddle and riders rolled suddenly to
the ground, for the girths had broken. It was already
night : the horse had fled, and the infirm old folk had
no attendant, nor could they have followed the beast
even in daylight. What was to be done ? At last
they left the saddle, since it was too heavy to carry,
and began to stumble forwards on foot through the
dark, groping their way as best they could ; and, in
their trouble at this mishap, they complained " Where
now is the promise of the man of God ? " Scarce had
they spoken, when lo ! the horse stood by them,
bridled and saddled and in his right mind ; and by his
side was the stump of a felled tree which seemed left
there as a mounting-block for these servants of God :
seeing which, they rendered hearty thanks to God and
His servant Roger, mounted the beast, and came safely
home. On the morrow, Godescal returned to Roger
and brought Christina to the Archbishop, who was
lodging at Redbourne. The Prelate, having bestowed
salutary counsel upon the virgin, sent her back to
Roger, with whom she remained in his hermitage until
the day of his death, serving God in chastity and

* The text lias, nitentesque jumento contra ascensum, etc. ; but
perhaps we should read nitente, and translate, " as the horse was strug-
gling up-hill, etc."

Hermits and Hcrmitcss. 513

innocence, in humility and patience, according to his
doctrine, until she had attained to the summit of all
virtues. At last Roger, leaving this world at the call

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