G. G. (George Gordon) Coulton.

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

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some of whom are liege subjects of our lord the king
born in Ireland, and the others are no lieges of his but
enemies to our lord the king and to his realm, called
Wylde Irisshmen ; and whereas their malices, misdeeds,
and robberies continue from day to day, to the great
scandal of the said University, which is fountain and
mother of our Christian faith, and to the greater damage



598 A Medieval Garner.

and destruction of the whole country round ; which
malefactors and robbers, with their receivers and main-
tainers, openly threaten the officers and ministers of our
said lord king in those parts, so that they dare not make
or exercise execution of the law upon them according
to their deserts ; and they threaten likewise to slay the
Bailiffs of the said city, for that they have lately
arrested certain of the aforesaid robbers, and have them
in prison with their leader, and by reason of the great
menaces made on this occasion to the said Bailiffs, they
dare not dwell in their own houses for fear of death, but
hold themselves at large for the safety of their lives,
seeing that the said Bailiffs are not [blank] to come to
the said city for gathering and levying the fee-farm
thereof in the king's service, nor doing or performing
their said offices as they were wont and ought by right
to do. . . . May it please you therefore, by assent of
the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in this present Parlia-
ment, for peace and quiet's sake in the realm of England
and for the settlement of the land of Ireland, that all
Irish should be voided from this kingdom between the
feast of Christmas now coming and the feast of Candle-
mas next ensuing, under pain of losing their goods and
being imprisoned at the King's will ; save only grad-
uates in the schools, and men holding benefices of Holy
Church in England, and such as have their heritage in
England, or an English father or mother, and professed
Religious, merchants, Burgesses, and other well-reputed
inhabitants of cities and boroughs who can find surety
for their good behaviour, and women married to
Englishmen and Irishmen with English wives, so that
they be of good report ; and that all such Irishmen as
have benefices or offices in the land of Ireland should
remain there in their benefices or offices, under pain of
losing and forfeiting the profits of the said benefices or
offices for the defence of the aforesaid land of Ireland,
according to the ordinance made in the first year of
king Henry V., father of our king that now is. And
that the said Graduates and holders of benefices should
find surety for their good behaviour, nor should take
upon themselves the principalship of any Hall or Hostel,



Pulpit Cursing. 599

but dwell among other English scholars under the
principalship of others. . . .

Answer. Be it as is desired by the petition.

See Statutes of the Realm under this year and also under the 8th
Henry VI., where a statute was passed upon complaint of the Commons
{Rot. Pari., IV., 349) to deal with gangs of malefactors who terrorized
and blackmailed the town and country of Cambridge, Essex, and
elsewhere. There is however in this latter case no specific mention of
students.




Chaucer's Good Parson, " full loth were him to cursen for his tithes,"
may be better understood by a perusal of the rhymed Instructions for
Parish Priests written about 1420 by John Myrc, a Canon Regular of
Lilleshall {E.E.T.S., 1868). In the following extract (p. 21 if.) the
author is compelled by the exigences of his subject to lapse into prose.
In the long list of crimes which earn this grisly curse, that of witholding
tithes is emphasized by threefold repetition.

280.— Pulpit Cureing.

'HE great sentence I write here,
; That twice or thrice in the year
Thou shalt pronounce, withouten let,
When the parish is together met.
Thou shalt pronounce this hideous thing,
With cross and candle and bell-knelling.
Speak out clearly, fear not thou wound,
That all may thee understond. . . .

{In this manner should the sentence be pronounced :)

By the authority of the Father and of the Son and of
the Holy Ghost and of our Lady Saint Mary God's
mother of heaven, and all other Virgins, and Saint
Michael [and all other Angels, and St. Peter] and all
other Apostles and Saint Stephen and all other Martyrs,
and Saint Nicholas and all other Confessors and of all
the holy Saints of heaven ; we accursen and barmen
and departen from all good deeds and prayers of Holy
Church, and of all these Saints, and damn into the pain
of hell, all those that have done these articles that we
have said before, till they come to amendment : we



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accursen them by the authority of the court of Rome,
within and without, sleeping or waking, going and
sitting, standing and riding, lying above earth and
under earth, speaking and crying and drinking ; in
wood, in water, in field, in town ; accursen them
Father and Son and Holy Ghost ! accursen them
Angels and Archangels and all the nine Orders of
Heaven ! accursen them Patriarchs, Prophets and
Apostles and all God's Disciples and all holy Innocents,
Martyrs, Confessors, and Virgins, Monks, Canons,
Hermits, Priests and Clerks ! that they have no part
of mass nor matins nor of none other good prayers that
be done in holy church nor in none other places, but
that the pains of hell be their meed with Judas that
betrayed our Lord Jesus Christ ! and the life of them
be put out of the book of life till they come to amend-
ment and satisfaction made ! Fiat, fiat. Amen.

Then thou thy candle shalt cast to ground,

And spit thereto the same stound. \liour

And let also the belles knell

To make their heartes the more grill. [afraid



M}Tc wrote also the Liber Festivalis, a book of sermons for the use of
parish priests. Caxton printed a free version of this in 1483, and
Pynson reprinted it in 1502. The following sermon for the dedication-
day of a church (the German Kirchweik, see No. 314 below) is taken
from Pynson' s edition, with a few corrections and additions from the
MS. published in 1905 by the Early EngUsh Text Society.

281.— ctje I^ou0e of praper.

OOD men and women, such a day [naming
the day] ye shall have your dedication day,
that is your church holy day, ye shall come
to church and hear divine service in the
worship of God for three causes the which
the church is hallowed for ; that is, for the church
cleansing, for devout praying, and for the dead bodies
burying. The first is for the church cleansing. The
church is ordained for all the people that come thither




The House of Prayer. 60 1

should be in perfect charity and there meet with God,
for God is ever there present. And when all the people
come so together at this assignment, it pleaseth God
much to hear them and hear good words in that place :
but when the fiend seeth any man busy thereto, he is
full sorry, and seeketh all the ways that he can or may
to let him from the church, for they should not come
to the presence of God. Then when holy fathers knew
the malice of the fiend, they ordained the church to be
hallowed, and so by good prayers the fiend is driven
out, but if any cursed liver bring him in again that is
out [of] charity or in deadly sin, [who] is with the
fiend and the fiend with him. But, how the fiend is
driven away by the hallowing, I will tell you by
ensample that is written in Legenda Aurea. Saint
Gregory saith in a book that is called [Dialogus] : On
a time as a church was on hallowing, a swine ran among
the people to and fro, and so ran out of the church
door ; and that was a fiend that ran away. But yet,
the next night after, he came again and made such a
noise as though all the church should have fallen down,
and then came never more again. But there be many
lev/d people that say their prayers, they were as good at
home as at church, but they err foul against the faith
of holy church. For if there be any man or woman that
hath a matter to speak with his good friend, and would
fain have his intent, he will go home to his house goodly
and lowly in hope to speed the better. Right so if any
man would pray God devoutly he should come to
church. There is God, for he that is in clean life and
prayeth to God, he speaketh with him ; for many of
you wot not how ye should pray. The setting of the
church giveth you knowledge, for the church is set in
the east ; and so, when ye pray, set your hearts in the
east, [thinking that Paradise is in the east, and] praying
heartily for mercy with perfect charity ; though ye be
put out of your heritage by malice of the fiend that is
enemy to your souls, for that we should not have the joy
of paradise that he was in, and lost it by his pride.
Also we lost it by our father's trespass, Adam. Let us
think that Christ died in the east, and therefore let us



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pray busily into the east, that we may be of the number
that He died for. Also let us [think] that He shall
come out of the east to the doom ; wherefore let us
pray heartily to Him and busily that we may have
grace of contrition in our hearts of our misdeeds, with
shrift and satisfaction ; that v/e may stand that day
on the right hand of our Lord Jesus Christ, and so be of
the number that shall be saved and come to everlasting
bliss and joy, and that we may escape that horrible
rebuke that shall be given to all them that shall be
damned and go to everlasting pain, that will not be
sorry and repent them and ask mercy in this world.

And thus for devout prayers holy church was ordained
to be hallowed. For God saith thus, Domus mea domus
orationis vocabitur, " IVIine house is called a house of
prayers," but it is now made an house of rowning,
whispering, crowing, clattermg, scorning, tales and
simple speaking, moving of vanity and many simple
words and lewd. We read how St. Gregory was at
mass on a time and St. Austin was his deacon and bade
the people turn to the pope's blessing. Then he saw
two women rowne together in the pope's chapel, and
the fiend sat in their necks writing a great roll, and it
lacked parchment, and he drew it out with his teeth ;
and so it fell out of his claws, and St. Austin saw it and
went and took it up. Then the pope was wroth and
asked him why he laughed him to scorn ; and he
showed him what the fiend had written of the women.
And then he came to the women and asked them what
they had said all the Mass-time : and they said, " Our
Pater noster^ Then the pope bade read the roll to
them that the fiend had written ; and St. Gregory read
it, and there was never a good word therein. Then
they kneeled down and asked mercy, and besought the
pope to pray for them, and so he did, and brought them
out of the fiend's books. Also holy church [is hallowed
for the long resting] ; for, when a man is dead, he is
brought to the church to his rest. Sometime the people
were buried at home, as poor people, and the rich were
buried on the hill tops, and some at the foot of the Jiill
in tombs made of rocks. But the savour was so great



The House of Prayer. 603

and grievous [to them that lived], that holy fathers
ordained churchyards to bury the people in, for two
causes. One is, to be prayed for as holy church useth.
And another is, for the body shall lie there without
travail ; for the fiend hath no manner of power to any-
thing within Christian burials, but if so be that the body
be not worthy to be buried in such holy ground. For,
as John Beleth telleth that, there should none other
body be buried in the church, but if it be the patron
that defend it from bodily enemies, or the parson,
vicar, priest or clerk that defend the church from
ghostly enemies with their prayers ; for some have been
buried there and cast out again on the morrow, and all
the clothes left still in the grave. An angel came on a
time to a Avarden of a church, and bade him go to the
bishop and bid him cast out the body that he had
buried there, or else he shall be dead [himself] within
XXX days ; and so he w^as, for he would not do as he
was bode.

Also we read in Gestis Romanorum that an angel told
an holy bishop [Eucharius] how that Charles the king
of France was damned, for he took away the right of
holy church that good people had given tofore ; and
bade him go and open his tomb and see it. Then the
bishop took with him other people and opened the
tomb, and there came out a great dragon and flew forth
and left the tomb brenning within as it had been an
oven mouth : and thus to bury in holy places is but
little avail to them that be damned. Also there be
many that walk on nights when they be buried in holy
places, but that is not along of the fiend but of grace of
God to get them help, and some be guilty and have no
rest. It happened also beside the abbey of Lilleshail
that four men stale an ox of the abbot's of the same
place to their larder. And the abbot did a sentence
cursed therefore, with the abbey ; so three of them
were shriven and asked mercy and were assoiled, but
the fourth died and was not assoiled and had not for-
giveness. So, when he was dead, the spirit went by
night and feared all the people about, that after sun
going down durst no man walk. Then, as the parish



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priest, [Sir Thomas Wodward,] went on a night with
God's body to housel a sick man, this spirit went with
him, and told him what he was and why he went, and
prayed the priest to go to his wife, and they should go
both to the abbot and make him amends for his trespass,
and pray him for the love of God of forgiveness, and so
to assoil him ; for he might have no rest. Anon the
abbot assoiled him, and he went to rest and joy for
evermore. To the which joy and bliss bring us all He
that died for us on the rood-tree. Amen.



No mere extracts can do justice to St. Bernardino's mission-sermons,
yet no book of this kind could be complete without some specimens.
The following are taken from the course of 45 sermons preached in the
great public square of his native Siena during August and September of
the year 1427, and in the 48th year of his age. How these sermons
were recorded, the writer of the Prologue tells us himself* "More-
over, how well-pleasing and acceptable to God were the labours which
the Saint endured for His honour and to the profit of his fellows, is
shown among other things by this present Book, which, as it setteth a
new style and rule for preachers, so God hath willed that, (as it were
beyond all fashions hitherto established,) these sermons should be
collected and written for the love and increase of devotion. Wherefore
the great and mighty God inspired one Benedetto di Maestro Bartolomeo,
citizen of Siena and shearman of cloth ; who, having a wife and many
children, few worldly goods and much virtue, and leaving for that time
his daily work, gathered and wrote these present sermons word by word,
not omitting a single word which he did not write even as the Saint
preached it. . , . And, that ye may note the virtues and graces of this
shearman Benedetto, as he stood at the sermon he would write with a
style on waxen tablets ; and then, when the preaching was ended, he
would return to his workshop and commit to paper all that he had
already written on the aforesaid tablets : so that on the same day,
before setting himself to his own work, he had twice written the sermon.
Whosoever will take good heed of this, shall find it as marvellous in
performance as generous in conception, that within so brief a space he

* See page 4 of Le Prediche Volgari di San Bernardino da Siena.
Ed. L. Banchi. (3 vols., Siena, 1880.) A far greater number of Latin
skeletons for sermons, drawn up by the Saint himself, may be found in
his collected works (Ed. Pere de la Haye. Paris, 1636, and Lyons, 1650.
These also are full of significant passages, of which I have room here for
one only.



Wives and Widows. 605

should have written so full a matter twice over, not leaving one syllable
unwritten — nay, not the sUghtest — of all that fell from that sacred
mouth, as may be manifestly seen in this present Book."

The reporter does in fact note even the preacher's interjections, the
occasional protests of his hearers, and the casual interruptions natural
to these open-air sermons — " You there, by the fountain, selling your
wares there, move off and sell them elsewhere ! Don't you hear, you
there by the fountain ? " — " Let us wait till that bell has stopped." —
" Give it to that dog ! send him off ! send him that way ! give it him
with a slipper ! . . . That's it ; when one dog is in trouble all the rest
fall upon him ! Enough now, let him go." (II, 270 ; III., 305, 405.)

Many brief extracts from the sermons are given in Paul Thureau-
Dangin's entertaining biography {St. Bernardin de Sienne : not very
adequately translated into English by Baroness von Hiigel). Those
which I give here are as continuous as possible, from the five sermons
on Marriage and Widowhood, which not only show the saint at his best
as a stylist, but perhaps throw more light on medieval conditions than
any others.

282.— mitjes anD COitiotos.

(Extracts from Sermons XVIII— XXII, Thou shall love thy neighbour as thyself. —

Luke x, 27).

E have to speak this mornmg of the love and

affection that the man should bear to his

wife, and she to her husband. . . . She who

is wise hath brought her daughter to this

morning's sermon : she who is but so-so,

hath left her in bed. ! how much better hadst thou

done to bring her to hear this true doctrine ! But to

the point.

Let us see this morning the three foundations of my
discourse. The first is called Profit, the second Pleasure,
and the third Honesty or Virtue, which is all one. . . .

Let us begin with the first, with Profit. If a thing
be of little profit, thou lovest it little. . . . See now
the world's love : do two vicious folk love each other ?
— Yea indeed. — Why then ? — for some profit that they
find. O worldlings, if the profit be small, small shall
be the friendship betwixt you ! Thou shopman, doth
such and such an one come and get him hosen at thy
shop ? — Yes — Lovest thou him ? — Yes — Wherefore ? for
thine own profit, I say. For, were he to go to another
shop, thou wouldst have no more profit of him, and no




6o6 A Medieval Garner.

more friendship. So also with the barber : take away
the profit, and thou hast taken the friendship. Why,
if one be a barber, and another go to be shaven of him,
and the barber flay his cheek, be sure that he would lose
all love for him, and go thither no more. Why then ?
Because the man is neither profitable in his eyes, nor
pleasant, nor honest. I knew a man who was at a
barber's shop for the shaving, and who cried, " Ha,
what dost thou ? " " What do I ? " quoth the barber ;
" why, I shave thee." " Nay," (quoth the other)
" thou flayest me rather ! " Let this suffice for the
matter of Profit.

Now let us add Pleasure to Profit, as with the man
who entertaineth a mistress that keepeth his house,
washeth for him, cooketh for him, layeth his table and
so forth ; and with all this profit he hath also the
pleasure of the flesh : all the more is their friendship.
Yet if she be of swinish nature, unkempt, unwashed,
careless of her household, then is the love and friendship
so much the less. Well and good for a while ; but
presently, if she fall sick, to the hospital she goeth !
Why shouldst thou make bile for her sake ? gone is all
thy love, for thou hast neither pleasure nor profit from
her. . . . This is no true love : true love should be
riveted by the three corners : true love is as God's love,
v>^hich hath in itself Profit and Pleasure and Honesty
to boot. . . . Moreover, each should seek above all
for goodness [in his spouse], and then for other advan-
tages ; but goodness first, goodness first of all. Con-
sider now and think of such as choose their wives for
other reasons ; for example, of such as take a wife for
her good dowry's sake ; if then they be affianced, and
the dowry come not, what (thinkest thou) shall be the
love betwixt them both ? A love stuck together with
spittle ! Nay, even though the dowry come in due
time, yet is this an inordinate love, for thou hast not
looked to the true aim ; many a time hath money
driven men to do many things whereof they have after-
wards bitterly repented. Wherefore I say to you,
lady, take not for thine husband the man who would
fain take thy money and not thy self ; take rather him



Wives and Widows. 607

who would take thee first and afterwards thy money
with thee ; for if he love thy money more than thee,
thou art in evil case. . . . Behold ! I am neither Pope
nor Emperor ; would that I were ! This I say, for
that I would proclaim a custom, if I could, that all
women should go dressed in one fashion, even as the
Roman women who all go dressed in linen ; for their
magnificence they all wear white linen, on back and
head, the wives of princes no less than other women.
And when they go mourning, they go all clad in sombre
colours ; there, truly, is a fashion that pleaseth me
well. When they go to pardons, they go in light
attire : no labour of drawn thread in their garments,
no spoiling of the stuff with snippings and slashings,
no such spoiling of good cloth to make their bravery !
Wherefore I say to thee, lady, take no husband who
loveth thy stuff more than thy body. . . . Hath the
man gotten the stuff without other goodness or virtue ?
— Yes — Then, when the woman cometh to her husband's
house, the first greeting is, " Thou art come in an evil
hour ; " if she hear it not in word, yet at least in deed,
for the man's one thought was to have her dowry. . . .
Wherefore, ye ladies who have daughters to marry, see
to it that they have the dowry of virtue to boot, if ye
would have them beloved of their husbands. . . . Are
the occasions of love but slender ? then shall the love
itself be slender. Dost thou know their nature ? for
example, knowest thou the nature of mine host's love
for the w^ayfarer ? The traveller cometh, and saith :
God save thee. Host ! — Welcome, sir — Hast thou aught
to eat ? — Yea, truly — Then cook me a cabbage-soup
and two eggs — The meal is eaten and paid, the traveller
goeth on his way, and no sooner is his back turned than
that friendship is forgotten : while the eggs are yet in
his belly, that friendship is already past. For it was
riveted at no corner ; such friendships are as frail as a
pear-stalk : shake the tree, and the pears will straight-
way^ fall ; there is no strong bond of love to hold them.
If the friendship be frail, small is the love ; if the
pleasure be small, small again the love ; if there be
little virtue, slight love again ! . . ,



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Wherefore I bid you all, men and women, follow
virtue, that your love may be founded on these three
things, Profit, Pleasure, and Honesty ; then shall true
friendship reign among you. And when ye have these
three things, hear what David saith of you ; " Thy
wife shall be as a fruitful vine, on the sides of thine
house." Lo ! all these three things are here. First,
Honesty : thy wife — thine own wedded wife. Secondly,
Pleasure ; as a vine — how delightful a thing is a vine
at the door of a house ! Thirdly, Profit, a fruitful vine
— rich in grapes and profitable ; from which three
things groweth and endureth true love between man
and woman conjoined by the sacrament of Holy Matri-
mony : whereof I know twelve reasons, four to each
point. See now, and learn them. Four, I say, are the
reasons under honesty, and four under pleasure, and
four under profit.

The first four, of honesty, ye shall learn to-morrow,
when I shall speak of the sacrament of marriage ; and
I believe that, when I shall have preached to you of the
right deeds of matrimony, seeing that ye have not done
them, ye shall all shrive yourselves again ; for ye have
committed many sins which ye have never confessed.
To-morrow, therefore, thou shalt see whether any bag
of sins be left, and thou shalt hear into what sins I
shall enter, as a cock goeth upon his dunghill. Have
ye ever noted the cock when he cometh upon the dung ?
how daintily he goeth, with his wings spread aloft far
from defilement, that he may fly to his post ! So will
I do ; as a cock upon the dunghill, so will I enter there-
upon ; wherefore I bid you bring your daughters
tomorrow, for I promise you that I believe ye have
never heard a more profitable sermon. I say not [only]
that your married daughters should come, I say all,
both married and to marry ; and in my sermon I will
speak so honestly as to avoid all defilement ; even the



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