G. G. (George Gordon) Coulton.

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the Pope and in the seventh year of his
pontificate ; of whom it is said that there
was none more righteous than he since St.
Gregory. On his deathbed, the cardinals prayed him
to commit his powers to one of them, who might thus
give him plenary absolution for all that he had com-
mitted ; but he refused, saying : "I will not give my
glory to another ; but I submit myself to God's mercy."
Again, when they prayed him to think of his kinsfolk

A Good Pope. 525

and friends, and to distribute of his goods among them,
he made answer : "I am a monk, and possess nought
of mine own ; whereof then could I make a testament
or a distribution ? Think not that I shall take away
the goods of the church to give them to my kinsfolk."
They prayed him therefore to fix the place where he
should be buried ; but he answered : "I may not
choose mine own sepulchre, seeing that I am a monk."
For he had so loved his monastic state that, even as a
Pope, he ever wore a cowl for his outer garment in his
lower closet ; and daily he sang mass in his monk's
cowl within his private chapel. When therefore he
must needs leave his closet and go in the sight of the
people and put on his pontificals according to custom,
then he would kiss his cowl as he laid it down, saying,
" Farewell, monk ! " and taking his pontificals he
would say, " Welcome, lord Pope ! " On his return,
as he laid aside his pontificals and resumed his cowl,
then would he say, " Farewell, Pope ! and thou, monk,
come hither ! " For he was most humble and affable
and ready to jest with all men ; wherefore it is said
that, while he drew almost his last breath, he was
asked by those that stood by whether he could eat
aught ; to which he made answer : " No indeed, nor
yet drink, whereof we have a more evil report."* So
he held the papal see for six years and four months
and twelve days, and died, and was buried in the
cathedral church of Avignon.

* Unfriendly contemporaries accused him of excess, and of having
given rise to the proverbial sa-vnng : "BibamuspapaUter," "Let us drink
like a Pope."— (Baluze, Vit. Pap. Aven., I., 2i0 fi.)

247.— a ligation in arms.

Neville's Cross (1346) is one of the most glorious victories in our
annals, because it was fought entirely in self-defence, and proved so
triumphantly the value of the citizen-levies at a time when the more
regular army was engaged abroad. The author of the following poem,
probably a monk of Durham, lays even more stress than most other

526 A Medieval Garner.

contemporaries upon the services of the clergy, from the Archbishop of
York downwards. The whole Latin poem may be found on pp. 63 ff.
of Illustrations df Scottish History (Maitland Club, 1834).

HE English came on in three battles, the
Northumbrians in the van, a good 20,000
fighting-men under Percy, whom we know
well. " If we might bear down his standard,
and Neville's that floats by its side, then
within a brief space we would take the English and
their Archbishop, like an orphan." Then again (as
men say) spake King David to his barons : "In England
are no men of war, but mere clerks, holy-water-
sprinklers ; we will turn these Confessors into Mart3a's !
This folk here gathered is but as chaff ; the good corn
is in France, hard bested ; if fortune will, we shall take
all these Englishmen as the fowler taketh the fowls
with his birdlime. Philip of France, our special friend,
hath written us by letter that there is no man or woman
left in England who can defend his own head from

Then ran the Scots to arms ; the hills gleamed with
golden shields ; the strong men flocked to their king's
side, and skipped for the greatness of their rejoicing.
At that moment a simple monk came to them, sent
by the Prior [of Durham] to treat of peace ; whom
David in his fury commanded to be slain, yet the word
of his mouth was not fulfilled. Forth from the wood
came the Scots in close array, well furnished with
swords and staves ; yet, though they were so well
equipped, they were but excommunicate. When the
Scots arrayed their battles in order, then our own men
came too in good array, advancing slowly with bray
of trumpet, ready to meet with cut and thrust. Then
ran our archers forth to meet the Scots, and sent angels
to persecute them ;* so shrewdly did we pick the
Scotsmen's teeth that all may rue it still who outlived
that day ! English and Scots rushed together like
furious lions greedy of the prey ; but because the

* Ps. XXV. 6 : " Let their way be dark and slippery, and let the
angel of the Lord persecute them."

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52 8 A Medieval Garner.

Scots had confessed their sins to no priest, therefore
were they shriven now with cut and thrust. . . . Percy
stood and fought stoutly with the Scots while many
great lords tarried far off ; seeing which, the Earl of
Angus hastened to Percy with all his forces, and two
hundred sworn companions. Neither the earl nor
Percy turned his face until every foeman was overcome ;
scarce one stood his ground, rich or poor, whereby so
much foul blood was spilt. Then came the Archbishop,
Zouch by name, in a rough mood to shave and bless
their crowns ;* whosoever was thus ordained failed
not to feel his blows ; all such were henceforth his
blessed brethren ! He had a deacon, too, the polished
Mowbray, and a subdeacon, the grey-headed Robert
Okyll, who was so reckless in this ordination that
he may never be chaplain henceforth, f For these
clergy, these Confessors, whom David called holy-
water-sprinklers, gave short shrift with oaken staves
to their mockers, who lie thus dead for their sins. . . .
Let no man take the glory of this deed of arms, for all
that was done on that field was a miracle. God be
praised Who keepeth His covenant, and who avenged
the unjust violence done to St. Cuthbert. Let us all
refuse the deceitful praise [of men] and pour out
prayers to the throne of grace that we may so pass
through things temporal as finally to lose not the things
eternal !

[This should be compared with the account of the
battle on pp. 348 ff of the Lanercost Chronicle, evidently
imitated in great part from a similar ballad. The
author adds further particulars reminding us forcibly
of Frere Jean des Entommeures. " There was also
[besides the Archbishop of York] another Bishop of
the Order of Friars Mmor ; who bade the English fight
like men to earn his blessing, adding threats of extreme
penance if any should spare the Scots. And when he
met the enemy he absolved them not a poena et a culpa,

* Literally, " to confer Orders."

t To say mass after shedding man's blood needed a Papal dispensa-

A Clerical Library. 529

but with a certain staff of his he gave them an indulgence
of days, not without grievous penance and effectual abso-
lution ; such power had he at that time that, without
preliminaries of confession, he absolved the Scots with
his aforesaid staff from every legal act [in this life]."
Not only did the clergy do their duty manfully in
these wars, but we also find criminals sometimes
pardoned on condition of joining the king's army. Of
the Halidon Hill Campaign Father Stevenson writes in
his notes to the Lanercost Chronicle (p. 30, a.d. 1333) :
" It appears by the Rotuli Scotise that Edward, in his
anxiet}^ to obtain troops, had granted a free pardon of
all crimes to all who joined his army. See 1, 254, dated
24th July. A letter from the king to his chancellor,
written upon 4th November next following, shows that
this officer had been beset by applicants who wished to
avail themselves of this proclamation without having
fought at Halidon. The king was consulted as to
whether his proclamation should be interpreted in a
literal manner, and his answer was that it should.]

248.-9 Clerical Reference Hitrarp.

J. Thorpe, Registrum Roffense, p. 127, a.d, 1346. This document
should be read in conjunction w-ith the fact that, as early as 124:6, the
great Dominican Minister- General Humbert de Romans had urged
upon the Pope in Council that some oflBcial manual should be drawn up
for the guidance of the clergy in their preaching and other duties. Arch-
bishop Peckham and Bishop Quivil compiled brief treatises of the kind
during the 13th Century ; fuller but unofficial manuals began to be
drawn up in the 14th century ; yet in 1411 the University of Paris was
still vainly urging upon the Council of Constance the necessity for some
authoritative book for the whole church.

WO all sons of Holy Church to whose notice these

^'' letters present may come. Brother Hamo,

by God's permission Bishop of Rochester,

wisheth eternal salvation in the Lord.

Know ye all how we have learned by frequent

experience (as we sadly remember) that some churchmen

of our diocese, bearing not only the cure of souls but

even the office of penitentiaries, although commendable


530 A Medieval Garner.

both for their life and for their learning, yet have
committed grievous and absurd errors [non modicum
delirasse] for lack of books profitable to such cure or
such office, especially in the matter of consultations
and salutary advice to their flocks, of enjoining penances,
and of granting absolution to penitents. We therefore,
desiring greatly to bring such remedy as we can to the
aforesaid evils, have thought fit to assign the following
books, under the manners and conditions hereafter to
be set down, for ministering some manner of [aliqualem]
information in future times to the aforesaid priests
with cures of souls or who hold the office of Penitentiary,
and for advancing the salvation of souls. We give
therefore hereby as a gift between living persons, and
with all prerogatives and favour of our last will we
bequeath and assign to the Prior and Chapter and
cathedral of Rochester, our glossed books of Decrees
and Decretals, the sixth book of the Decretals with
two glosses in one volume, the seventh book (or
Clementine Constitutions) unglossed, bound up with
divers Provincial Constitutions, the book of Pope
Innocent on the Decretals, a volume of Matthew and
Mark with glosses, the Historia Scholastica of the
Bible ; also a volume of the Summa of Raymond [de
Pennaforte] and one of Avicenna on the counsel of
medicine, and one little book of the Vices and Virtues,
and two stitched books whereof one beginneth Qui
bene presunt and the other treateth of the articles of
faith, the beatitudes, and the petitions ; and lastly the
book of Papias the Elder on Grammar ; willing, com-
manding and ordaining that all these books be laid
up and kept within our Cathedral, in a chest under two
locks, there to be preserved under safe custody for
ever, or as long as they may last. . . Provided that
none of the aforesaid books be carried out of the said
Cathedral, and that each, when it has been inspected
[by the reader] for a reasonable time, be forthwith
returned to the custodians ; Excepting only, during
our own lifetime, the use of the said books at our
good pleasure, whether within or without the aforesaid

Popular Miracles. 531

John de Grandisson was one of the most notable English bishops of
the 14:th century. He was born in 1292, the second son of an English
baron who was descended from the lords of Granson near Neuchatel,
and therefore nearly connected with some of the greatest famiUes on
the continent. One of his cousins was the Sir Otho de Granson, " flower
of them that make in France," to whom Chaucer did the honour of
translating three of his halades. In later life, the bishop himself inherited
the barony (1358). His second sister was the famous Countess of
Salisbury of the honi soil qui mal y fense legend. At 17 he was a
Prebendary of York ; he studied in Paris under the future Pope Benedict
XL, and became chaplain to Pope John XXII., who " provided " him
in 1327 to the see of Exeter. Grandisson ruled this diocese with great
vigour until his death in 1369.

249.— a Popular spiracle.

A.D. 1340. {Register, p. 941, Mandate from the Bishop to the Dean,
the Subdean, and another, dated Feb. 12.)

}J HOUGH the news be brought by complacent
public report, yet we have heard not
without anxious and doubtful amazement
how, on this Sexagesima Sunday, [Feb. 11]
all the bells of our Cathedral Church were
rung at morning out of due course, before the ringing
for the i\Iass of the Blessed Virgin, as though for a
miracle there wrought by God's hand ; which as we
cannot easily prove either plainly or distinctly, so
also we must not lightly believe, lest (which God
forbid !) the people committed to our charge should
perchance fall into idolatry or err from the path of
Truth and the Catholic Faith ; as we have often known
it befal in several places, both in our own days and in
the writings and acts of the Saints, through mad and
false illusions and feigned superstitions of devils or of
false Christians who are members of the devil, and
sometimes for vain glory's or filthy lucre's sake.
Wherefore we forbid you all and singular, in virtue of
holy obedience and under pain of the Greater Excom-
munication against all rebellious persons, and of sentence
of suspension to be laid upon the Chapter, and interdict
upon the aforesaid Church, — and through you we
prohibit all and singular the Ministers of our Cathedral,
of whatever rank or condition they be — and we com-

S3'^ A Medieval Garner.

mand you never in future, for any occasion or cause
not first approved by ourselves, to ring, or cause or
permit to be rung, the aforesaid bells, nor offer or
make, nor let them offer or make, solemn or public
prayers, or solemn adorations or worship of any sort
soever in honour of any who are not yet canonized
by the Holy See, in the said Church or elsewhere,
after any fashion whatsoever, to the prejudice of
orthodox faith ; nor shall you or they proclaim or
assert as a miracle any deed hitherto wrought in the
aforesaid Church, or in future to be wrought, until we
have been informed of the circumstances of this deed,
and have thought fit to declare first that it is of God
and not of any artifice ; item, that it is against the
course of nature ; item, that it hath befallen by the
merit of man and to the confirmation of the Faith.
For since, before Canonization, such solemn worship
may not legally be paid even to proved miracles (which
however are wrought both by good and evil persons,
as may be more fully read and noted in the chapters
Teneamus and Prophetavit [of Gratian]), every wise
man must plainly see how much more blameworthy
we must think it thus to worship where the miracles
are not proved to be true. Yet we intend not hereby
to prohibit you and others of our subjects to offer
prayers in secret to any dead man whom ye and they
believe to have been and to be a Saint. [The Bishop
then cites the object of the alleged miracle, and his
parents, to appear and give evidence at his Manor of
Chudleigh by February 25th. He also probably saw
to the matter himself ; for already on February 13th.
he writes again :] Ye should not have forgotten how,
even as the angel of Satan, (for so the Apostle teacheth
us,) is wont to transform himself into an angel of light,
and the crafty fox's cunning under a cloke of simplicity
will baffle the hunter's wiles, so ye should not easily
believe every spirit. In truth, after our late letter to
you, since we wished to inform ourselves concernmg
the circumstances of a certain deed which the simple
have reputed miraculous, wTought in our Cathedral
of Exeter on Sexagesima last, a certain man who called

Popular Miracles. 533

himself John le Skynner, in whose person this was said
to have come to pass, was set before us in the Chapel
of our Manor of Chudleigh, in the presence of several
Notaries Apostolic and no small press of other folk.
Although at first he strove pertinaciously to defend
his error, and to colour it with many shifts and oaths,
wavering and vacillating hither and thither ; yet at
last, led by a better spirit, he confessed that he had
feigned this deed for worldly lucre's sake and to relieve
his poverty, admitting that for the last seven years he
hath lacked the sight of one eye, and lacketh it still,
and that he seeth with the other no better now than
before ; but that, deceived by the devil's wiles, he
had cloked his assertions and oaths under colour of the
blindness of the one eye and the sight of the other,
which is even now as then. Wherefore, since we must
proceed most cautiously where the danger is greatest,
and on another occasion, (as Holy Scripture witnesseth),
the unbelief of Thomas was of more profit to faith than
the belief of the other disciples, therefore we bid you,
guarding yourselves in future against such trifles, and
especially against vile and unknown strangers, never
to make or suffer to be made any solemnities in our
Cathedral of Exeter on the strength of any assertions
or oaths (not to say perjuries) of this kind, until the
deed be first discussed and proved true with prudent
care ; lest ye be less circumspect than the Jews, who
called the parents and acquaintances of the man born
blind, that by many witnesses the truth might be
established. Moreover, seeing that true miracles are
often made vile by such feigned superstitions, to the
peril of the purest truth of Orthodox Faith, we bid
you expound the aforesaid to the people in our
Cathedral on this next Quinquagesima Sunday, with
such caution that no matter for scandal may flow
therefrom, nor the indevotion of the faithful wax
abundant, nor the Faith be imperilled, nor dangers
arise to men's souls.

534 A. Medieval Garner.

250.— anotbet,

A.D. 1361. Letter of Bishop Grandisson to his Commissary in the
Archdeaconry of Cornwall, demanding an enquiry : Register, p. 1232.

T hath come to our ears, through a growing
rumour, not without vehement wonder and
amazement, that — albeit according to the
Apostolic and Canonical Institutes no man
is permitted, even though he work miracles,
to venerate them publicly as actually wrought, without
the authority of the Roman Church — yet certain
impudent sons of this our Church of Exeter, not con-
sidering that we must not believe all spirits, (nay,
rather seduced, perchance, by diabolical illusion and by
a false superstition spread abroad by members of
Satan), commonly ascribe the title of Saint to Richard
Buvyle formerly rector of the parish of Whitstone in
our diocese, (who was slain, according to various
opinions, either by those who envied him or by his own
hand) venerating and worshipping him for a Saint, to
the offence of the Catholic Faith and Canon Law.
Wherefore all the inhabitants of the parts adjoining,
and oftentimes foreigners also, flock in crowds as
pilgrims to the spot where his body is said first to have
been buried, and there make solemn oblations ; and
every week, on Saturdays, they hold there to a late
hour, and through the whole night, watchings or wakes,
wherefore victuals and other things are at such times
brought thither for sale, and are sold as at a market ;
under colour and pretext whereof the sins of gluttony
and drunkenness are there committed, and unhonest
conventicles are held, with perpetration of things
unlawful and abominable, which it beseemeth us not
here to express. We therefore, (willing so far as in us
lieth to restrain such wanton disorders and superstitious
abuses, as we are bound to do in virtue of our own
pastoral office, treading close in the footsteps of the
Sacred Canons,) do now strictly enjoin and command
you to publish this present mandate in all Chapters b}^
you to be presently held, expounding it intelligibly in

Popular Miracles. 535

the vulgar tongue, and peremptorily prohibiting once,
twice and thrice to all our subjects whatsoever, under
pain of the Greater Excommunication — and cause to be
likewise prohibited to their parishioners by all Curates
within the boundaries of the said Archdeaconry — and
through you also, in virtue of these present Letters, we
prohibit — that none presume to hold there such watch-
ings or wakes, nor to be present thereat, nor to worship
or venerate the said defunct as a Saint, until perchance,
his own merits demanding full enquiry, and having
been declared in due course, he may be enrolled on the
list of canonized Saints. And, seeing that miracles
are oftentimes attributed not only to good but also to
evil men, therefore we strictly enjoin and command you,
as above, to enquire diligently and prudently concerning
the persons who are said to have been healed at that
spot, and whether they are known or unknown, and of
what condition in life : concerning their infirmities
and diseases also, what and what kind they were, and
of how long duration, taking full and sworn evidence
from men worthy of credit in those parts. And, if you
find that aught was there done which could be done by
no fiction, art, device, or natural means, then cite
peremptorily, or cause to be cited, that person or those
persons who have received this grace of healing, and
Avitnesses through whom the truth may be more clearly
proved in this matter, to appear before us, at a certain
competent place and time to be fixed by yourself, that
they may depose to the truth which they know, and
act further as required by Canon Law.

[The Archdeacon convened a jury in the parish church
of Wyke St. Mary, consisting of three neighbouring
vicars, three chaplains, {i.e. curates,) and six laymen,
whose evidence he reports as follows.]

They say that the daughter of a certain William
Ludlou of the Parish of Launcells, who was born blind
and suffered from such blindness four weeks or more,
was brought to the place of the first burial of the afore-
said R. Buvyle and there received her sight, and hence-
forth could see, as they say. Moreover a certain
Comishman whose name and surname they know not,

536 A Medieval Garner.

lame and bent, who went on his knees with two low
crooks in his hands, was cured of his infirmity at the
said spot about the Feast of the Holy Trinity 1359, and,
leaving the said crooks there as an offering, departed

whole and upright. More-
over a certain smith of
Winkleigh, whose name
they know not, who had
his left hand so con-
tracted and so long closed
that the fingers of the said
hand made as it were holes
A CRIPPLE. therein, was cured of this

From a 14th-century MS. in T. Wright's Said infirmitv, aS thcV

Homes of Other Days, p. 338. . , -i /-si i (•

say, m the Church oi
Whitstone, after that the corpse of the said defunct
was moved thither from its first place of sepulture.
Moreover, a certain Joan Gyffard, of the Parish of
Hartland, who for two years before the death of the
aforesaid Richard Buvyle lay in a palsy, and was so
grievously sick that she could neither rise from her bed
nor raise food to her own mouth, was taken to the first
place of sepulture of the said Richard Buvyle on a
certain pallet of her owti, and on the Saturday next
following the Feast of the Holy Trinity last past two
years agone, about midnight following the aforesaid
day, was there healed of her aforesaid infirmity. More-
over a certain Roger Hennygan of Bodmin, blind in
and of both eyes, on the Saturday next following the
Feast of St. John Baptist last past, in the aforesaid
church of Whitstone, after the removal thither of the
body of the said defunct, was healed of the blindness
of his left eye, and saw, and henceforth was able to see
therewith ; how long he had suffered blindness in both
eyes they know not, as they say. Moreover, a certain
Thomasia, wife of Arnulph Coke of the Parish of Great
Toriton, lame of her right leg, and so crooked therein
that she could not set down her right foot lower than
to her left knee, on the Sunday next after the Feast of
the Blessed Virgin Mary last past, in the aforesaid
Church of Whitstone wherein the body of the said

Popular Miracles. 537

defunct lay buried, received there the grace of healing
for the said infirmity. Moreover a certain woman of
the parish of Northam, whose name they know not,
furious and crazy of her mind, was brought tied and
bound to the said Church of Whitstone after the removal
hither of the body of the said defunct ; and this same
woman, though so vexed with madness that she tore
the wax tapers in the said Church with her teeth, and
would have torn down and broken the images therein,
about the Feast of the Nativity of St. John Baptist last
past one year agone, was cured of this furious sickness ;
since when certain of the aforesaid inquisitors have seen
the said woman, in her right mind, coming to the said

Online LibraryG. G. (George Gordon) CoultonA medieval garner; human documents from the four centuries preceding the reformation → online text (page 45 of 61)