G. G. (George Gordon) Coulton.

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

. (page 46 of 61)
Online LibraryG. G. (George Gordon) CoultonA medieval garner; human documents from the four centuries preceding the reformation → online text (page 46 of 61)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

church for the sake of pilgrimage and devotion, and
there saying her prayers and supplications, as they say.
Moreover, a certain woman of the parish of Clovelly,
whose name they know not, lame and grievously sick,
was brought in a certain horse-litter to the said Church
of Whitstone after the burial there of the aforesaid
defunct ; and this same woman, about the Feast of St.
Peter called Ad Vincula last past one year agone, was
there cured of the said infirmity. Moreover, a certain
man of Woodford in the Parish of Plympton, whose
name they know not, but who had for two years lost
the sight of his right eye through a blemish called
cirrhus, came to worship and pray at the aforesaid
Church of Whitstone after the burial there of the said
body ; and there, about the Feast of the Assumption
of the Blessed Mary last past, he recovered the sight of
the said eye. Moreover a certain Lavinia Stolloke, of
the parish of Whitstone, having a great and horrible
hump \gihhii7)i\ on her left foot, and being lame for a
month, in Easter week last past two years agone, was
brought on horseback to the first place of sepulture of
the said defunct, to pray for his soul, having heard
before that the body of the said defunct should be
removed from thence ; and there, after that she had
said a Paternoster with an Ave Maria for the soul of the
said defunct, she received the grace of healing for the
aforesaid infirmity, and returned thence whole to her
own home.

S3^ A Medieval Garner.

[Here the records end : we may therefore presume
that the Bishop did not think the evidence sufficient to
justify any petition for the late Rector's canonization.]

251.— a TBisbop in IPartitius-

Bishops in fartihus infidelium first became common towards the
close of the 13th century, when the final failure of the Crusades and
expulsion of the Christian clergy threw numbers of unemployed eastern
bishops upon the European dioceses. These merely titular bishoprics
were however regularly filled up ; some of the Bishops in partibus were
useful as Papal commissioners, while others were employed as suffragans
by overworked or absentee prelates. They were nearly always friars,
with too little dignity or responsibility to command very much respect
or popularity. In a well-known passage of Piers Plowman the author
complains of

prelates that [the Pope] maketh.
That bear bishops' names, of Bethlehem and Babylon . . .
That hop about England to hallow men's altars.
And creep amongst curates and confessen against the law.*

The following articles of accusation by Grandisson against such an
intrusive Friar-Bishop are entered in his Register under the year 1347 :
p. 1028, They should be compared with the extract already given from
the Limburg Chronicle, aw. 1386.

MPRIMIS, ye must Imow how formerly the
Austin Friars, of their own wayward will,
took a certain site in the town of Dart-
mouth, (which is within the parish of
Tunstall, united and appropriated to the
Abbot and Monks of the Praemonstratensian house of
Torre in the said diocese,) and there began to erect a
chapel in spite of various inhibitions of the said Lord
Bishop of Exeter, . . . [whereupon followed long legal
proceedings, ending in a definite judgment from Rome
against the Friars]. . . . After which, on the 14th day
of March in the year 1344, there came to the aforesaid
town of Dartmouth the said Brother Hugh, secretly
and almost suddenly, in habit as a layman with long

* B. XV. 537 : it is noteworthy that the parallel passage in C-Text
alters the titles of the bishops : " that bear name of Naphtah, of Niniveh
and Damascusr—G. XVIII. 261.

A Bishop in Partibus. 539

sword and buckler, clad in a close short coat with
buttons, giving himself out at his first coming as a
servant and fiscal officer of the Lord King, sent to
arrest ships in that port ; after which, entering the said
Friary, he there put off the aforesaid coat and clad
himself in the dress of an Austin Friar, and forthwith
took a pastoral staff in his hand and set a mitre on his
head, and summoned the parishioners of the said church
of Tunstall in a great multitude ; whereupon he
publicly asserted and claimed that he was Bishop of
Damascus, sent to the aforesaid Friary by our Lord
Pope and all the Lord Cardinals, to consecrate the
Chapel of his Brethren there, and that the said Friars
had gained all their will and won the victory at the
Roman Court against the said Abbot and Monks ; and
he sprinkled [holy] water and went round the aforesaid
Chapel. After which, he granted to the said parish-
ioners and others Indulgences even of a hundred days,*
confirmed babes and children and anointed them on
the forehead, heard confessions of the said parishioners,
and absolved certain men excommunicated under the
Canon Si quis suadente Diabolo'f on account of violent
assault committed even in the said town, as he said,
and granted letters to those whom he had thus absolved.
After which he repaired to many taverns in the said
town and drank therein, showing to men and women
his hand with a certain ring which he wore, and saying
that the Lord Pope had given him this with his own
hands. And, when men asked why and how he could

* The Bishop himself seldom gave so much : e.g. to all who would
contribute to the Leper-liouse at Exeter, or worship at Clotworthy
chapel, 20 days {Reg. p. 376, 378) to those who performed certain
ceremonies in Exeter Cathedral, 30 days (389) to those who attended
the sermons of a preacher from Yorkshire, 40 days (390). The culprit,
in his answer, pleads that he gave Indulgences of only 40 days.

t "If any, at the Devil's instigation, incur such a guilt of sacrilege
as to lay violent hands on a cleric or a monk, let him be excommunicated,
nor let any bishop presume to absolve him, except on his deathbed,
until he present himself before the Pope and receive his commands."
(Gratian. Decreium., p. II., c. XVII., q. IV,, c. 29, from a decree of
Pope Innocent II.). The Pope, however, commonly deputed such
powers of absolution to the Diocesan bishop : see extract 177.

540 A Medieval Garner.

do such things in a diocese not his own, pleading how
the Lord Bishop of Exeter had to dedicate churches in
his diocese, and confirm children, and absolve, and
perform other such offices, and not another man
unbidden by him, then this same [Brother Hugh]
answered and said that he cared naught for the said
Lord Bishop, and wrought and said other abusive
things, to the scandal and ignominy of our Lord Pope,
and the Lord Cardinals of the Apostolic See, and the
see of Exeter.

Grandisson, therefore, excommunicated the intrusive Bishop — or
rather Archbishop — who finally submitted, excusing himself in writing
to the Archbishop of Canterbury. The following is the gist of his
apology, apart from some rather lame denials of special points.

As for the first article ... of coming by stealth to
Dartmouth, this the aforesaid Lord Archbishop con-
fesseth, as also that he came in lay dress, wearing a
sword, (but no buckler as is asserted,) and clad in a close
buttoned short coat. Yet he saith that from the
beginning of his journey at Cambridge as far as Exeter
he went in the habit of his Order, with two brother-
friars in his company : in which city (as he saith) he
was informed by certain friends of his Order that he
must needs pass through a certain town in the domain
of the Abbot of Torre ; and, because it was noised
abroad that a Bishop was to come and consecrate the
cemetery of the Austin Friars' Chapel at Dartmouth,
such ambushes were prepared, (as the said friends
reported), that, if he had been known to come for that
cause, he would have incurred peril of his own body ;
for which cause, and no other, he took and put on a lay
dress for that Journey. . . . Again, as to the article
that he heard confessions of the aforesaid parishioners
and absolved certain excommunicate under the Canon
Si quis suadente Diabolo ... he denieth it ; but he
saith that a certain shipman, calling himself a native
of St. Albans, whose name (as he saith) he knoweth not,
ran upon him as he wore his pontifical dress, and smote
him on the arm with a certain bow which he carried,
thinking (as he said) that he was the Abbot of Torre,

A Bishop in Partibus. 541

come to expel the Friars from their said Friary : and
the said Archbishop affirmeth that this same shipman,
with many others his aiders and abettors, threatened
him savagely [intulit ei minas feroces] that, unless ho
would absolve him, he should never leave that town
alive ; whereupon he, moved with fear (which might
fall even upon a man of constant spirit) absolved him
and drew up Letters for him regarding this absolution
aforesaid.* Yet he first said that to himself pertained
only forgiveness of the injury, and that absolution
pertained to the Diocesan Bishop. As to the article
that he went to taverns in the said to\^Ti and drank
there, he saith that at the invitation of William Smale,
then Maj^or of the town of Dartmouth, and William
Bakon, burgess of the said town, he entered into their
houses and drank with them in their hall and principal
chambers, and not elsewhere in the said town. With
regard to his showing to men and women his ring and
saying that the Lord Pope gave it to him with his own
hands, he denieth it. . . . As to the consecration of
the said cemetery, he saith that the Brethren of his
Order told him how they had a Papal Privilege wherein
it was indulged to them that, if the Diocesans should
refuse to consecrate their cemeteries, churches, or
oratories, or should show themselves difficult in that
matter, then the said Brethren might cause this to be
done by any Catholic bishop willing to do them the
service : yet he saith that he saw no such Privilege.
And, being asked whether he had never been cited by
the Bishop of Exeter to answer to him concerning the
aforesaid complaints to be made in virtue of his office
[as Diocesan], he said that, on his way back from
Dartmouth to Exeter, as he was at dinner, a servant
came to him bearing a wand and asserting himself to be
the apparitor of the Bishop of Exeter, and said to the
Lord Archbishop " My Lord, I summon you to appear
before my Lord Bishop of Exeter (at a certain place

* It will be noted that this happened when Chaucer was not yet in
teens ; if only it had been a little later, we might have been tempted to
find in one of these aiders and abettors the immortal Dartmouth Ship-
man of the Canterbury Tales.

542 A Medieval Garner.

and hour then expounded by the said servant) and to
answer to the aforesaid complaints to be made against
you in virtue of his office." Yet (as this Archbishop
said) this citation seemed to him unlawful, because the
said servant shewed not his commission, nor expounded
the articles whereupon he cited him ; wherefore (as he
said) he appeared not on the day assigned him to
appear before the Lord Bishop of Exeter. . . .

The Bishop of Exeter then removed his excommunication, and the
Archbishop of Damascus promised to appear personally at Lambeth
and accept the Primate's decision on the matter.

252.— oEDucational Eeform.

(Feb. 13, 1356-7. Register, p. 1192. A mandate directed by Gran-
disson to all the Archdeacons of his diocese.)

|E ourselves have learned and learn daily, not
without frequent wonder and inward com-
passion of mind, that among masters or
teachers of boys and illiterate folk in our
diocese, who instruct them in Grammar,
there prevails a preposterous and unprofitable method
and order of teaching, nay, a superstitious fashion,
rather heathen than christian ; for these masters, —
after their scholars have learned to read or repeat, even
imperfectly, the Lord's Prayer, the Ave Maria, the
Creed, and the Mattins and Hours of the Blessed Virgin,
and other such things pertaining to faith and their soul's
health, without knowing or understanding how to
construe anything of the aforesaid, or decline the words
or parse them — then, I say, these masters make them
pass on prematurely to learn other advanced [inagis-
trales] books of poetry or metre. Whence it cometh to
pass that, grown to man's estate, they understand not
the things which they daily read or say : moreover
(what is more damnable) through lack of understanding
they discern not the Catholic Faith. We, therefore,
willing to eradicate so horrible and foolish an abuse,
already too deep-rooted in our diocese, by all means

# ■ «



...J '-•'-

♦-,**. -ijTyfil,' ,'-\r»,** ,


nil the MaiK'ssi'sclR' Hiui(ls(,liiitt nt Hoidclbcrj,' ^oaliy xiv (cntui-y) lol. ^I-J.

Educational Reform. 543

and methods in our power, do now commit and depute
to each of you the duty of warning and enjoining all
masters and instructors whatsoever that preside over
Grammar Schools within the limits of his archdeaconry,
(as, by these letters present, we ourselves strictly com-
mand, enjoin, and warn them), that they should not,
as hitherto, teach the boys whom they receive as
Grammar pupils only to read or learn by heart [discere
liter aliter] ; but rather that, postponing all else, they
should make them construe and understand the Lord's
Prayer, the Ave Maria, the Creed, the Mattins and
Hours of the Blessed Virgin, and decline and parse the
words therein, before permitting them to pass on to
other books. Moreover we proclaim that we purpose
to confer clerical orders henceforth on no boys but
upon such as may be found to have learnt after this

253.-9 Poet's Complaint of tbc TBlacksmitbs.

From MS. Arundel, 292, f. 72, vo., fourteenth century. {Reliquiae
Antiquae, I. 240.)

WART smutted smiths, smattered with smoke.
Drive me to death with din of their dints ;
Such noise on nights ne heard men never,
What [with] knaven cry and clattering of
knocks !

The crooked caitiffs cry en after col ! col !

And blowen their bellows that all their brain bursteth.

Huf ! puf ! saith that one ; haf ! paf ! that other ;

They spitten and sprawlen and spellen many spells.*

They gnawen and gnashen, they groan all together.

And holden them hot with their hard hammers.

Of a bull-hide be their barm-fells ;

Their shanks be shackled for the fiery flinders ;

Heavy hammers they have that hard be handled,

Stark strokes they striken on a steely stock,

* Tell many tales.

544 A Medieval Garner*

Lus ! bus ! las ! das ! snore they by the row,
Such doleful a dream the devil it to-drive !
The master loungeth a little, and catcheth a less,
Twineth them twain and toucheth a treble,*
Tik ! tak ! hie ! hac ! tiket ! taket ! tyk ! tyk !
Lus ! bus ! lus ! das ! . . . Christ them give sorrow !
May no man for brenn-waters f on night have his rest.

* The master pauses, catches up a smaller hammer, and intertwines
[or perhaps separates] the bass of the sledge-hammer with his own
lighter treble,

t For the hissing of the steel in the trough of water.

The fullest details of du GuescUn's life are recorded in the lengthy
poem of the Picard trouvere Cuvelier, (23,000 hnes). This has come
down to us in a longer and a shorter text ; I have taken the liberty of
choosing one or the other as it suited my present purpose, and of omitting
here and there the trouvere's digressions or repetitions.

255.— Clje 2Iglp Duckling,

(I, 5).

pE Knight] Renaud du Guesclin was Ber-
trand's father, and his mother a most gentle
lady and most comely ; but for the boy of
whom I tell you, methinks there was none
so hideous from Rennes to Dinant. Flat-
nosed he was and dark of skin, heavy and froward ;
wherefore his parents hated him so sore that often in
their hearts they wished him dead, or drowned in some
swift stream ; Rascal, Fool, or Clown they were wont
to call him ; so despised was he, as an ill-conditioned
child, that squires and servants made light of him ; but
we have oftentimes seen, in this world of vain shadows,
that the most despised have been the greatest. . . .

So when he had fulfilled eight or nine years, he took
a custom of his own, as I will here tell. Many a time
and oft he would go play in the fields, gathering around
him forty or fifty boys, whom he would divide into
companies and make them fight as at a tournament —
yea, and so fiercely that one would rudely overthrow

An Ugly Duckling. 545

the other. When therefore Bertrand saw his fellows
overthrown before his face, to their great hurt, then
would he run and help them to rise, saying, " Haste
now, avenge yourself well and boldly on that other ! "
Thus he skilfully kept up the fight and the tourney by
thrusting himself among them ; as hounds tear wolves
with their teeth, so he would overthrow even the great
ones and bruise them sore, and they knew him by this
token, that all his clothes were torn and his body
bleeding. Truly I declare that he made no account
of his own blood ; thus would he cry aloud, " Guesclin
to the rescue ! " and maintain the fight so long that
none knew which side had the victory. When there-
fore all were glutted with fighting, then he would bid
them cease, and say in a soft voice : " Come, good
fellows all, let us go privily and drink all together as
good friends ; I will pay, so long as there is a penny in my
purse. If any have not wherewithal, I will cheerfully
stand surety for him ; if I lend to any, and he repay it,
then will I never love him so long as my youth shall
last ; if mine host will trust me, soon shall he be paid,
even though I must take a silver cup from my father's
house or go sell a good mare at Rennes ; my lord
[father] would ransom more than an hundred." " God ! '
said the boys within themselves, " to what wisdom will
this Bertrand grow ! God Almighty send him good
speed, that this good beginning may come to full
honour ! "

When Bertrand came back from such company all
bruised and torn and merry at heart, then his mother
would say in grief and wrath : "In sooth, wretched
boy, this is a foul life that you lead ; little does it show
of the noble lineage from which you come. . . . ! If
ever again you return in this guise, you shall repent it
all the days of your life. ..." But on the morrov/
Bertrand would do half as ill again. . . . When his
father Renaud knew the truth, whence he was come
and what he wrought there, then he straitly charged
the peasants that no child in all the country round
should follow his son ; or if any so follow him, then
shall the father pay a fine of five pounds. Then all the

546 A Medieval Garner.

children were so sad and so abashed that they fled at
Bertrand's approach ; and when he saw this, he would
catch and assail them and oftentimes compel them to
wrestle against their will. So his father heard com-
plaints on all sides, and oftentimes the mother that
bare him cursed her child, shedding bitter tears, and
saying to her lord that naught would ever avail until
he should cast his son into prison. So to prison he
went, where they brought him meat and drink and all
that he needed : a good four times was he thus in ward,
but little he recked for all that. It befel that a chamber-
maid brought his dinner and unlocked the door ;
forthwith he seized her, and took her keys, and shut her
in and took his leave. The bird was gone ; so cunningly
did he hide that none could find him, wheresoever
they might search. Then one morning he fled hastily
till he came to a field that he knew full well ; there he
found a ploughman toiling in the furrow with two of
Sir Renaud's mares. Bertrand bestrode the one and
fled ; yet as he went the bondman cried : " Alas,
Bertrand ! " quoth he, " this is an ill deed ; I dare
not now look your father in the face ; bring back the
mare, for St. Benet's sake ! " But Bertrand laughed
aloud, for he made little account of such words.

Then rode Bertrand full gallop on his mare, that had
neither shoes nor bridle, harness nor saddle : he rode
on the rough hair, and galloped as though he would
break her back. When his father knew this, his head
grew hot with anger, and he would gladly have seen
his son drowned in the salt sea. Meanwhile Bertrand
rode as one who recked nought of all this, and came to
stately Rennes to an uncle who had married his aunt,
a wealthy dame and well furnished with worldly goods.
When his aunt saw him, she was grieved in her soul
and said, " Bertrand, you have such a repute as cuts
your mother to the heart, and your father too — God
keep him whole ! This is great folly, by the glorious
Virgin, that you live so wayward a life and so unworthy
of your lineage." " Lady," quoth the husband, " you
speak as a simple woman ; " it is meet and right that
youth should have his way ; for all that we may say,

An Ugly Duckling. 547

it must slough its first skin. He is young enough yet,
b}'' the glorious Virgin ! to have sense and honour in
days to come. He hath done neither crime nor lawless
deed ; we have good wine and well-salted meat,
whereof he shall have his part so long as it shall last."
" Uncle," said Bertrand, " I hold with you ! Your
will shall be done both morn and even." " Truly,"
said his aunt, " ye have found a fair word ; but, so God
help me ! my heart and mind tell me well that you will
trouble us before six months be past."

Bertrand dwelt peaceably with his uncle ; he con-
strained himself as best he could to wander neither
hither nor thither ; oftentimes he rode abroad with
his uncle, and kept good company to his aunt also.
Thus three months were well-nigh past, and he had
joined in no sport. Then it came to pass that a prize
was proclaimed for the best wrestler ; and when he
heard this tidings — the day was fixed for Sunday after
dinner, and the place was ordained — then Bertrand's
fair aunt called to her nephew, and prayed him softly
to go with her to church and hear the sermon, whereof
she had a pious thirst. Bertrand, will-he, nill-he,
went Avith his aunt : but he slipped from her side when
the sermon began, and came to the place where
the wTestling was already begun. Some comrades
were there who knew him : '' Ho, Bertrand ! "
they cried, " your jolly body shall wrestle here ; look
ye, my masters, here is he who will throw all the jest ! "
" Gentles," said Bertrand, " I may not wrestle to-day,
unless ye all pledge your faith, so many as are here, to
say no word to mine aunt ; for in truth, should she
hear thereof, she would beat me." The good fellows
swore to discover him neither thus nor otherwise ;
then began the A\Testling, and long it endured. Ber-
trand was still a stripling under age — he had but
seventeen years, if the tale be true — but he was short
and thick-set and big of bone. He beheld a Breton, a
proud wrestler, who had thrown many of his fellows ;
twelve had he thro^vn, himself unconquered ! Then
came Bertrand and gripped him without more ado :
now stood he not long unmoved, for Bertrand played

54^ A Medieval Garner.

on him a subtle trip ; by force and wily craft he laid
him on the ground : yet he drew Bertrand with him ;
but the Breton was undermost, grieved at heart, and
Bertrand had the upper hand and the mastery over
him. Yet went it ill with him in his fall, for he fell
upon a rough sharp flint -stone, which cut through
his knee, that the blood ran down. Hastily he rose
to his feet ; but he could no longer hold himself up for
his weight in silver : " Ay me ! " quoth Bertrand,
" now am I in evil case, for my fair aunt will know all
the trick I played her ; it were better for me to be even
at the sermon ! Gentles," (quoth Bertrand) " for
God's majesty let me be borne to mine aunt's house :
but first of all my wound must be dressed."* Then
they bore him to a leech with the noble prize on his
head — a fair chaplet of gold and silver and cunning
workmanship. " Ha, God ! " quoth Bertrand, " by
God's majesty take off this chaplet, for I am in no
dancing mood ! " . . .

Now was Bertrand in bed for all his fretting ; then
came his aunt and began to cry fie upon him : " Certes,
Bertrand," said she, " you are nothing worth ! You
shame your knightly birth in wrestling thus with
common folk : better to take your joy and solace in
following tourneys, since you are thus bent upon
showing your prowess." " Lady," said Bertrand, " I
pray you be not wroth, and I swear to the just God our
Father, so soon as I may well ride again I will follow
jousts and tourneys, and wrestle no more ; you shall
see me fully whole again in eight days." There the
gentle squire spake truth ; for on the ninth day he was
hale and sound. Then they made peace between
Bertrand and his father, and his mother also, whom

Online LibraryG. G. (George Gordon) CoultonA medieval garner; human documents from the four centuries preceding the reformation → online text (page 46 of 61)