G. G. (George Gordon) Coulton.

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of the God whom he served, went the way of all flesh ;
his body was borne to St. Albans Abbey, where it was
buried with all due honour in an arched tomb built into
the south wall of the church, hard by the choir of the
brethren. After his death, when Clu-istina had borne
many and almost unendurable temptations, both from
man and from the devil, and had always stoutly resisted
them, then the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to her in the
shape of a babe, coming to the arms of His spouse and
remaining all day long with her, plain both to touch
and to sight ; and thenceforth all temptations left her
so utterly that she never feared any trial again. Then,
by God's grace, she began to shine forth in the spirit
of prophecy and to become a worker of miracles, so that
the fame of her was spread abroad throughout the whole
country round.

Here follows a record of commonplace miracles, which may be con-
veniently told in Mr. Kiley's summaries. " Alured, a deceased monk
of St. Albans, appears to Christina and discloses to her a certain inten-
tion of Abbot GeofErey. The Abbot refuses to give credit to Christina,
but is soon made to repent of his unbeUef. His vision. Abbot Geoffrey
affords aid and countenance to Christina, his spiritual adviser. Abbot
Geoffrey founds a Nunnery at Markyate, for Christina and her fellow
devotees. Miraculous appearance of Christina to Abbot Geoffrey, in a
vision. Through the intercession of Christina, Abbot Geoffrey is twice
excused from going to Rome. Her " Life " preserved at Markyate.
The Abbot consults her before repairing to court.

On such occasions the Abbot was wont to frequent
Christina's company. She for her part revered the
Abbot ; and so great was the affection of mutual
charity between them that, unless the whole multitude
had well known how holy both were, it may be that
evil suspicion would have arisen from so great a love.
He who would learn more of the life and merits of this
holy virgin, may find it at the convent of Markyate in
the more fully-written Book of her Life.

In the days of the same Abbot Geoffrey flourished
the anchorite Sigar, who dwelt in the hermitage at
Northawe [near St. Albans] ... of him it is reported



514 A Medieval Garner,

that, having once been much disturbed in the tenour
of his prayers by the singing of a nightingale, he bowed
his knees to God and prayed Him to remove all birds
of this sort, lest he might seem to rejoice rather in the
warbling of birds than in the devotions whereunto he
was bounden before God. And it befel according to
the prayers of the holy man ; so that not only while he
yet lived, but even to the present time, birds of that
kind avoid the place of his habitation, not only never
presuming to sing, but never even appearing, for the
distance of a whole mile round it. He, buried in our
church, lieth in the same coffin as Roger the Hermit ;
whose tombs not the common people only, but even
Kings of England were wont to visit, offering there
precious brocades of Bagdad, wherewith they desired
that the tombs might be covered.




241.— a Consent (^Election.

(II, 107).

LTHOUGH Abbot [John IV., 1302-8] had



himself gained much wealth, as aforesaid,
yet he left no certain moneys for the
ordination of anniversary masses, even as
his predecessor Dom John of Berkhamp-
stead had left none ; which gives cause for much
wonder and blame. When therefore he had ruled the
Church of St. Alban for six years and three quarters, as
a good and prudent prelate, having already been Prior
of the same for fourteen years . . . [sentence left
unfinished by scribe]. He strove duly to keep the Rule,
to love his brethren as he ought, and to keep them at
unity ; and in worldly matters he purposed to order
his House well, so far as in him lay. But the billows
of this evil and treacherous age, thwarting him daily
and in divers ways with the spirit of a stepmother,
hindered him from the accomplishment of his purpose.
His mind was constant, his words few ; a man of
exceeding honesty, religious and circumspect. He
moved St. Alban' s tomb and shrine, decorating it with



A Convent Election. 515

all honour, and paying the expenses himself, not to
speak of many generous gifts, more than 160 marks of
coined money : but from the sub-sacristans he took
what offerings he well could. Feeling then, from his
growing pains and sicknesses, that he could not live
much longer, he summoned the Prior and the elder
brethren to his presence in his own chamber, speaking
of the state of the monastery, which was in debt to
divers creditors to the extent of £1,300, and to the lord
King 1,000 marks for the last vacancy ; and 17 marks
were found in his room, which the Prior of Tynemouth
had sent him a little while before — " But this silver cup,
and this ring, ye must give after my decease to our lord
the King."* And he warned them not to elect for
their Abbot, after his decease, a proud and pompous
man, but some good and simple person ; and so, by
God's providence, it came about. So he was carried in
the brethren's arms to the Chapter House, where he
besought the community to pray devoutly to God for
the church and for himself, adding : " Whosoever shall
be Abbot after me, must needs report to the lord Pope
how great are the debts of this House, and plead our
poverty ; " which in process of time came almost to
naught, for the greed of the Roman court. Then he
added in lamentable tones : " If I have sinned against
an}^ man, or treated any contrary to his deserts (which
indeed I know not) then let him say so." But the
brethren, mourning, said the Confiteor in turn ; where-
upon he kissed and took leave of them. Then he was
brought to the shrine, begging pardon and leave to
depart, and praying thus : " O glorious Alban, whom
I have loved and sought, and who hast been my best
helper, as I have been thy servant ; most holy Alban,
defend me from the pains of hell ! " So he died on the
23rd day of February, 1308, and was honourably buried,
as was fitting, by the venerable father Richard of
Hertford, by God's grace Abbot of Waltham ; and he
was laid with his fathers in a marble tomb before the
high altar, as may be seen from the inscription which he

* All these sentences are loose and incoherent in the original Latin.



$16 A Medieval Garner

prepared for himself while he yet lived ; to the honour
and glory of God, Who is blessed world without end,
Amen.

After the burial of Abbot John, of good memory, who
had obeyed his Maker's call on St. Mathias' eve, then
they proceeded on the day appointed to elect a new
abbot. Thereupon by general consent brother Hugh
of Eversdon was elected, who had borne the office of
Cellarer ; a man of stature conspicuous even among the
most comely ; fair to look upon, and liberal to his
companions. None could surpass him in the English
or French tongue, yet he had but little Latin. When
therefore he had been elected, and had consented
thereto, he is said to have spoken thus in full congrega-
tion : "I know indeed, my brethren, that ye might
have chosen a more subtle and more learned man for
your abbot ; but I am very sure that ye could have
chosen none more companionable [socialem] out of all
this number."

When therefore the proctors were come to Rome,
and had set the notice of his election before the Lord
Pope, after tarrjang long and vainly in the city, and
incurring horrible expenses upon divers gifts, at last
they must needs return with the most odious answer
that the Abbot-elect must bj'- all means cross the sea
and present himself in person to the Supreme Pontiff,
who (as he said) would fain see that man face to face,
on whose behalf so many lords, so many prelates, the
King, — nay even the Queen — had ^vritten to him with
such devout supplications ! Wherefore notwithstand-
ing the moneys already vainly spent, he was constrained
to go to the Roman court — he, who feared nought more
than the Latin tongue, wherein he had but little skill.
When therefore, after many chances, he was come
thither, his first care (after saluting the lord Pope) was
to grease the palms of his examiners,* that they might
deal more gently with him. After which, his personal
fitness having been favourably represented to the
Supreme Pontiff and duly accepted, and his election

* Examinatores suos emollire.



The Election Bill. 5 1 7

having been confirmed, he showed himself so lavish of
presents to the lord Pope and the whole Court, that
those most covetous of men extolled his magnificence.
Yet he expended on his journey to and from the Court,
together with the gifts that he made, more than a
thousand pounds,* besides the tax which he paid to the
Lord Pope and Cardinals under the name of firstjruits^
which amounted to [sentence unftnished].

[This foregoing passage may best be illustrated by the full and formal
account of expenses incurred at Rome for the confirmation of Hugh's
predecessor, John IV., in 1302 (p. 56).]

To the lord Pope, for his private visitation, 3,000 f florins, that is to
say, 1,250 marks sterling. — Item, for the public visitation, 1,008 marks :
in sum, 2,258 marks to the lord Pope and his cardinals, — Item, to obtain
a respite, 200 marks. — Item, to the Examiners ; viz., to the Cardinal of
Albano a goblet worth 40 florins, or 10 marks ; to Dom J. the monk a
cup of the same value ; to Cardinal Napoleone [Orsini] a cup worth
32 florins, or 8 marks, — Item, to two other Cardinals, viz., to the lord
Francis, nephew to the lord Pope, a platter worth 42 florins, or 10|
marks, and to the Referendary, Master P. de Hispania, another of the
same price. — Item, to the advocates of the lord Pope's doorkeeper 34
gros tournois.l — Item, to master Jacopo da Casula, IQg gros tournois. —
Item, to Albertino 26^ gros tournois. — Item, to the proctors, viz., to
Master Corsini 12 florins, and again 20 gros tournois ; and to Master N.
of Naples, who was the treasurer's proctor, 12 florins, [with] a palfrey
and other necessaries to the price of 40 florins. — Item, to Albertino da
Casula, advocate, 6 florins. — Item, in presents to the Cardinals 14 g- gros
tournois. — Item, by the hand of Corsini in the matter of obtaining the
bulls, and for writing the said bulls for the first time, 63 gros tournois.
To Master Blondino, who corrected the annulled letters, 2 florins. To
the scribe, for the second time, 60 gros tournois, — To Master P,, that
they might the sooner be enregistered, 4 gros tournois. For three sup-
plicatory letters 65 gros tournois. — To the clerks who sealed the bulls,
12 florins and 2 gros tournois. — For the registrar, 60 gros tournois. —
For the sealing of his own supplicatory letters, 1 florin. — Item, through
Master Reginald, to P. del Mare, 2 florins ; for a copy of the obhgation,
2 florins and 4 gros tournois. To the notaries, 50 florins, and 8 florins
for the note. For the executory letter, 35 florins. For a ring as a
present to Albertino, 6 florins, — [Total, 2,561 marks sterling, i.e,, about
£34,000 modern money,]

* i.e. nearly £20,000 in modern money.

I " Probably 5,000, as four florins are throughout made equal to one
mark." — Editor's note in Rolls Series.

\ 50 gros tournois went to the EngUsh mark : see Rogers, Hist. Ag,
and Prices, II., 631.




5i8 A Medieval Garner,

William de Somerton, whose Priory of Binham in Norfolk was a cell
to St. Albans, rebelled in 1327 with six of his monks against the Abbot's
extortions. The six monks were clapped into prison at St. Albans,
but Somerton escaped to Rome.

242.— a Monastic alchemist.

(II, 132).

|0R the benefit of posterity I have thought
fit to describe here the manners of the afore-
said William of Somerton, that those to
come might beware of being branded with
the same. He was greedy above measure,
hunting after money as eagerly as he wasted it lavishly,
whence it chanced that he contracted a familiar friend-
ship with a certain mendicant Friar, who promised
to multiply his moneys beyond all computation by
the art which men call Alchemy, if only the Prior spared
none of the needful expenses at the beginning of his
art. To whose words the Prior lent too credulous an
ear, and lavished such sums of gold and silver as might
have brought even the richest to poverty. Yet even
so he learned not to beware of the perils of false brethren;
for, having lost once, he continued even unto the third
time, pouring such plenty of gold and silver into this
unprofitable work, that now scarce anything was left
of the whole substance of his monastery, wherewith
he might have made a fourth contribution. Where-
fore it came about that, what with the Abbot's former
extortions from that Priory, and what with the Prior's
present waste of its substance, nothing more was left
in the house to supply the monks' necessities. So
this William, slipping off into apostasy, fled hastily to
the court of Rome : where, in so far as opportunity
served him, he sought to prosecute his cause, and to
thwart the Abbot to the best of his ability, now by
falsehoods, now by colourable pleas, now by the prayers
of noble persons, especially of the Earl of Hereford.
. . . When however he heard [that the Abbot had
obtained a sentence of outlawry against him] then,
grieving not so much for his Priory as for his banishment
from England, he presently plied gifts, promises, and



A Monastic Alchemist. 519

prayers all at once, and enticed to his side everyone
of the Cardinals or others whom he knew to be thirsty
for gold, giving much and promising more, until he
had obtained from the Apostolic See a personal citation
of the Abbot himself to Rome . . . But the Abbot
escaped by a miracle (if I may so speak) from the need
of undertaking so arduous a journey, to the grievous
harm both of his monastery and of his body. Where-
fore the aforesaid William (after a long and dispendious
stay at the Roman Court, after much and unavailmg
waste of money, after many bulls obtained on his
behalf, . . . seeing that his wiles profited him little or
naught in all these matters,) obtained, as it is reported,
other bulls more favourable to his part, wherewith he
purposed to return home. When therefore he was
come to London, he was searched and arrested by the
King's Serjeants, who favoured the Abbot and had
perchance been hired by him for this purpose ; and
by royal command he was brought before the king at
IMarlborough. So he was caught in the manner and
city aforesaid, in a secular habit and without tonsure.
The king sent him back by the Sheriff to London, there
to be kept in ward till he had sent word to the Abbot
of his royal pleasure in this matter. Soon afterwards
he caused him to be delivered to the Abbot's custody,
to be guarded body for body, until the Abbot should
hear further from the King concerning this matter.
But what those bulls contained which he is said to
have brought, the Abbot alone knoweth, and He to
Whom all things are known. . . . [Meanwhile powerful
friends pleaded for Somerton, not without covert
threats.] Wherefore after no long interval, at the
instance of the Lady Isabella our queen, and others to
whose prayers it were unsafe not to defer, since (as
the poet saith) the great man supplicates with naked
sword — therefore the aforesaid William was loosed
from prison and restored to his Priory of Binham,
albeit the Abbot had been firmly purposed to deal
otherwise with him.

These things we record, not as defending the aforesaid
cause, which indeed is criminal and damnable, but



520 A Medieval Garner.

that posterity may see how great dissensions, what
hatred, what damages, follow from the greed and
covetousness of prelates. For both the lord Abbot
wasted the substance of St. Albans with grievous
expenses for the prosecution of his cause, and the
Prior himself did irreparable harm to his priory in
defence of his own case. In truth, he alienated the
two best chalices of his church, which were worth far
more than all those that were left ; together with
six copes, three chasubles, two mass-phials and a silver
censer, cloths of silk, and seven golden rings which had
been offered aforetime by pious folk, and silver goblets
and spoons, alas ! nor did he spare the silver cup and
crown wherein the Lord's Body was wont to hang over
the high altar ; these also he alienated for the aforesaid
cause.

Nevertheless, though this William was restored to
Binham priory as aforesaid ; yet after that he had
dwelt there a few years in great poverty, and had
marked how the Priory goods sufficed not for paying
the pensions which he had so lavishly promised to
the knights and other gentles of the countryside for the
defence of his cause, then [in 1335] he was pierced with
the dart of shame and fled, repeating (horrible to
relate !) his former apostasy, and leaving that Priory
in abject poverty ; [stripped of farms and churches to
the value of 900 marks, and burdened with a debt of
£400.]

[P. 203.] Yet, within a brief space, this William
of Somerton, wearied with his wicked life, and touched
by God's grace after his second apostasy, came back
as a suppliant to the gate of St. Albans Abbey, and
there threw himself down according to the custom.*
When therefore he had sat there some hours, the Abbot
Michael, a man of abundant bowels of mercy, was
moved with compassion for him and sent his seneschal,
John of Munden, to bring him into the Almonry.
There he dwelt five weeks by reason of a sickness which

* For an apostate begging readmission, see Martene, Comment, in
Bepdam, p. 389 fE.



Miraculous Statues. 521

fell upon him ; after which time he recovered and
came to the Abbey gate, there to begin his public
penance, casting himself on the ground and deploring
his wretched state. The Abbot therefore pitied his
infirmity, and (contrary to the wonted custom of the
Abbey) suffered him to lie in his woollen shirt ; but
for which he must have lain there naked save only
his drawers.* So then he was received and admitted
to mercy, after that he had earned his absolution from
the major excommunication which by his apostasy he
had incurred ; and a penance was inflicted upon him
according to the Rule and in proportion to the heinous-
ness of his offences ; which when he had humbly
laboured to fulfil, he was afterwards fully absolved
from the same.

* The editorial side-note misinterprets this passage, as if it referred
to the dormitory and not to the public penance.




243.— a Q^itaculous Statue.

(II, 335).

T this same time [1335-49] there arose a great
strife and contention betwixt our Infirmarer,
Brother John of Redbourne, alias Pyk, and
William Puff, Vicar of St. Peter's in the
town, concerning a certain petition that
Vv'as claimed to be unjust, and the taking of certain
offerings and oblations at a cross lately erected in
the churchyard of St. Peter's. This cross had been
most devoutly carved by the very hands of Master
Roger de Stoke, clockmaker [horologiarius], who had
set it up in the place where he had chosen to be buried.
And many men say that he carved his cross on Fridays
only, on which days he is said to have fasted on bread
and water. When therefore the said cross had been
set up, then stupendous miracles of God began to be
wrought in that spot, which within a brief space
brought pilgrims to worship at this cross from far and
near. When therefore the pilgrims flocked thither and
the oblations increased, then arose the aforesaid con-



522 A Medieval Gamer.

tention between the said Infirmarer and Vicar. The
cause was brought into the Consistory Court ; where,
after much dispute, the said Vicar was lawfully con-
demned for the unjust detention of these oblations,
and was sentenced to pay the said Infirmarer, as Rector
of his church, forty shillings (to which sum the
oblations made at the said cross and taken by him were
said to amount) ; moreover, he was condemned to
pay the expenses incurred by the said Infirmarer in that
cause.




An extremely close parallel to this may be found in tlie Chronicle of
the Abbey of Meaux in Yorkshire {Chronicon de Melsa, R. S., III., 35.)

2M.— anotbcr.

HE aforesaid Abbot Hugh [1339-1349] caused
a new crucifix to be made in the choir of
the Lay-Brethren ; whereon the sculptor
carved no specially comely or notable
lineament save upon Fridays only, on which
days he himself fasted on bread and water. Moreover,
he had a naked man before him to look at, that he might
learn from his shapely form and carve the crucifix
all the fairer. When therefore this crucifix was set
up, the Almighty constantly ^\TOught many solemn
and manifest miracles through it ; wherefore we
thought that, if women might have access to the said
crucifix, the common devotion would be increased
and it would redound to the great profit of our mon-
astery. Wherefore we petitioned the Abbot of our
Mother House at Citeaux, who granted us his special
license to admit men and women of good repute to
the aforesaid crucifix, provided only that the latter
should not enter through our cloister or dormitory or
other domestic buildings, excepting only our patroness,
or the wife or daughter of our patron ; yet even these
might not spend the night within the abbey precincts
nor enter before Prime nor stay beyond Comphne ;
if this prohibition were broken, then the license should



The Little Red Man. 5^3

be null and void forthwith and for ever. Under pretext
of which license women flock frequently to the aforesaid
crucifix, yet only to our own damage, since their
devotion is but cold, and they do but come to gaze at
our church, and increase our expenses by claiming
hospitality.




245.— Cbe Little iReri ^an.

(Walsingham, Hint. Aug., a.d. 1343).

T that time there befel a marvel in the
northern parts, in the matter of a certain
youth who had been of the household of the
Baron of Graystock. He, riding one day
through a rye-field, and marking how the
rye rippled like a sea, suddenly saw a little red man
raise his head from the corn ; who, as the youth gazed
upon him, seemed to grow bigger and bigger in stature.
Then this apparition drew nigh and caught his bridle,
and led him against his will into the rye, to a place
where it seemed to him that a lady was seated, of
v.ondrous beauty, with many maidens like unto herself.
Then the lady bade them take him from his horse and
tear his skin and flesh, and at last she commanded that
he should be flayed alive. Then the said lady cut his
head through the midst and (as he thought) took out
his brain and closed up the empty skull ; after which
she bade them lift him upon his steed and dismissed
him. With that he straightway lost his senses and
began to rave and play the madman. When therefore
he was come to the nearest town, then a certain maiden
came and cared for him, who had been of the same lord's
household and had loved him well ; and, lest he should
harm those who waited upon him, she let him be bound
in chains. Thus she led him to many saints beyond
the sea for the restoration of his health ; until, seeing
that all was vain, she brought him back to England.
All this while that red man with the red hair ceased
not to haunt him, but stood everywhere before his



524 A Medieval Garner.

eyes, even as he had first appeared to him ; and, even
though men bound him with three or four chains, he
was ever wont to loose them. At length, after six
years of this misery, he was wholly cured at the shrine
of St. John at Beverley ; where, falling into a quiet
sleep, he seemed to see that comely lady cleave his
head once more and replace the brain even as she had
first taken it away. Therefore, finding himself
restored to health, he wedded that same maiden who
had led him from shrine to shrine ; by whom he had
fifteen sons. After her death he took Holy Orders,
and was made a priest, and received the benefice of
Thorpe Basset. While therefore he sang mass with
much devotion, and raised the Body of Christ in his
hands, according to custom, for the people to see, then
that same red man appeared to him and said : " Let
Him whom thou hast in thy hands be thenceforward
thy guardian, for He can keep thee better than I."



The Chronicon de Melsa was compiled by Thomas de Burton, who
was elected in 1396 to the abbacy of the Cistercian house of Meaux in
Yorkshire. It throws much Ught not only on the business Ufe of a
monastery, but also on ecclesiastical politics as understood by an
average churchman of the day. The following extract is from the
Eolls edition, vol. III., p. 38.

246.— a (^oon Pope.

N the year of our Lord 1342 died Pope
Benedict XII, on the day of St. Gregory



Online LibraryG. G. (George Gordon) CoultonA medieval garner; human documents from the four centuries preceding the reformation → online text (page 44 of 61)