G. G. (George Gordon) Coulton.

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

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again forthwith, since he too had a bolt ready in his
o^vn : but I thought that he would not abide me ;
wherefore I heeded not to span again, but spurred
after him into the hollow way. When therefore he
had marked how I had not spanned, he waited at the
gate until I was hard upon him : then he let fly his bolt
and struck me on the boss of my breastplate, so that
the shaft splintered and flew over my head. Suddenly
I threw my arblast at his head, for I had no bolt in it ;
then I plucked forth my sword and ran him to the
earth, so that his nag's nose lay on the ground. But
he rose to his feet again ; ever and again he cried upon
the peasants, that they should come to his rescue.
When therefore I rode into the village after him, I
was aware of a peasant who had already laid a bolt
in his bow ; upon whom I sprang, and smote his bolt
to the ground ere he could come to shoot. Then I
reined up at his side, sheathed my sword, and gave
him to know that I was Herr Neidhart von Thiingen's
man, and that we were both good friends of the Abbot
of Fulda. Meanwhile there came round me a whole
rout of peasants, some with boar-spears, some with
hand-axes or casting-axes or wood-axes, and some
with stones. Here then was nought to be won save
by hard blows and good adventure : for all this while
the axes and stones buzzed so thick round my head,
that methought my helmet was a-humming with bees.
Then there ran up a peasant with a boarspear, at whom
I spurred my horse : but, he, even as I drew my
sword, thrust forward and dealt me so shrewd a blow
on the arm, that methought he had smitten it in two.
When again I would have thrust at him, he slid under
my horse's belly, and I had not room to bend doAvn
after him. Then, however, I brake through the rout ;
and upon another peasant, who bore a wood-axe,
upon him I dealt such a blow that he reeled sideways

696 A Medieval Garner.

against the palisade. But now my horse would gallop
no more, for I had overridden him : and I doubted
sore how I should come forth from that gate again.
Yet I made such haste as I might, for one fellow was
on the point to close it : but I was beforehand with him
and came safely through. Yet there stood that same
Ape again, with four peasants by his side, and a bolt
in his arblast, crying : " Upon him ! upon him ! upon
him ! " and shot after me, that I saw the bolt quiver
in the earth. So I rode at him, and drove all five
back into the village. Then the peasants raised their
hue and cry after me ; but I rode off with such speed
as I might. As I came again to Herr Neidhart, who
awaited me far away on the field, the peasants looked
out after us, but none was so hardy as to come near
us. Yet, even as I joined Herr Neidhart, there came
a peasant running with his plough to the sound of
the alarm-bell : him I took for my prisoner, and caused
him to promise and swear that he would bring me out
again my arblast, which I had thrown at the Ape when
he shot at me : for I lacked time to pick it up again,
but must needs leave it lying on the road.

323.— Ct)e 3lton £)anD.

(A.D. 1504).

WILL now tell how I came by my wound.
You must know that on Sunday, as I have
related above, while we were skirmishing
again under the walls of Landshut, the
Niimbergers turned their cannon upon
friend and foe alike. The enemy had taken up a strong
position on a dyke, and I would fain have broken a
spear with one of them. But as I held myself still and
watched for an occasion, suddenly the Niirnbergers
turned their cannon upon us ; and one of them, with
a field-culverin, shot in two my swordhilt, so that the
one half entered right into my arm, and three arm-
plates therewithal ; the swordhilt lay so deep in the
armplates that it could not be seen. I marvel even

The Iron Hand.


now that I was not thro^vn from my horse ; the arm-
plates were still whole ; only the corners, which had
been bent by the blow, stood forth a little. The other
half of the sword-hilt and
the blade were bent, but
not severed ; and these, I
believe, tore off my hand
betwixt the gauntlet and
the arm-piece : my arm
was shattered behind and
before. When I marked
now that my hand hung
loose by the skin, and that
my spear lay under my
horse's feet, I made as
though nothing had be-
fallen me, turned my
horse softly round, and,
in spite of all, came back
to my own folk without
let or hindrance from the
enemy. Just then there
ca.me up an old spearman,
who would have ridden
into the thick of the fray :
him I called to me, and
besought that he would
stay at my side, since
he must see how matters
stood with me. So he
tarried with me at my
prayer, and then he must
needs fetch me the leech.
When I came to Lands-
hut, my old comrades
told me who had fought
in the battle against me,
and in what wise I had been shot, and that a nobleman,
Fabian von Wallsdorf, a Voigtlander, had been struck
and slain by the same shot, notwithstanding that it
had struck me first ; so that in this wise both friend


From an engraving of the original still pre-
served by his descendant, Freiherr t.

698 A Medieval Garner.

and foe took harm alike. This nobleman was a fair
and goodly gentleman, such that among many thousands

you would scarce find any goodlier to behold

From that time forth, from the Sunday after St.
Vitus' day until Ash Wednesday, I lay in Landshut ;
and what pain at that time I suffered, each may well
imagine for himself. It was my prayer to God that,
if I stood indeed in His divine grace, then in His own
name He might bear me away to Himself, since I
was spoiled now for a fighting-man. Yet then I
bethought me of a man at arms of whom I had heard
my father and other old troopers tell, whose name
was Kochli, and who also had but one hand, notwith-
standing which he could do his devoir against his foe
in the field as well as any other man. Then I prayed
to God, and considered within myself that, had I even
twelve hands, and His grace and help stood not by me,
then were all in vain. Therefore, thought I, might I
but get me some little help by means of an iron hand,
then I would prove myself as doughty in the field, in
spite of all, as any other maimed man. I have ridden
since then with Kochli' s sons, who were trusty horsemen
and well renowned. And in all truth I can think and
say nought else, — now that for wellnigh sixty years
I have waged wars, feuds, and quarrels with but one
fist, — but that God Almighty, Everlasting and
Merciful, hath stood wondrously and most graciously
by me and at my side in all my wars, feuds, and perils.

324.— a ^ealt{)p appetite.

(Liibeckische Chronik. [ed. J. F. Faust. 1619] . Appendix P, 292.
"Of Eaters " — apparently about 1550 a.T).).

|T is recorded by men worthy of belief that a
man came to a hostelry in Liibeck a few
years since, and bade the Host prepare for
certain persons whom he had bidden to a
supper ; for which, (as he said) he would
honourably pay. When all had been done as he had
bidden, and the supper-time was come, no guests

A Healthy Appetite. 699

appeared ; whereat the Host was sore troubled. But
the guest desired him to serve up all the food that he
had cooked, and for as many persons as he had ordered
it ; '' which," (said he) " I will honourably pay." It
was done as he had bidden ; whereupon he ate up all
that was set before him, and passed back the empty
dishes to the Hostess. When the Host had marked
this, and the time of reckoning was now come, then
said he to the guest, " Ye shall have this meal for a
free gift, if only ye will see to it that I lose not by making
a wager in trust upon you." " Yea," said the Guest,
" so much may ye boldly do in trust upon me ; I am
he who can help you out ;" and the Host knew|that
he was safe. Now it befel that a Shipman came to
Liibeck with a load of butter from Sweden ; to whom
the Host went to bargain for a tub of butter, saying in
mocking words to the Shipman, " What shall I give
thee for this little keg of butter ? " Then answered
the Shipman in wTath at his mockery : " Holdest thou
this for a little keg ? Methinks it is a full barrel of
butter." To whom the Host : "yea, verily, a pitiful
barrel, that a man might eat up at a single meal ! "
Whereupon the Shipman was sore troubled, and spake :
" Bring me the man who can eat up this barrel of
butter at a meal, and I will give thee my ship with all
my goods that are in her, if thou too will set as much
to wager for thine own part ! " Thereupon they
accorded, and each gave pledges to the other. Then
the Host brought his guest, who bade him be of good
cheer, for he would help him loyally out of his need :
as also he did, to the astonishment of all that saw him,
and at last begged for one or two halfpenny-rolls
wherewith to wipe the staves clean. Then began the
Shipman to rage like one possessed, and to call down
all the curses in the world upon this Eater's head,
saying, " Is it a small thing that thou hast lost me my
ship and my goods, but wilt thou also scrape the staves
clean ? " I would never have recorded so strange" a
story, but that it is plainly reported as true by common

[The curious reader may compare this with the tract

yoo A Medieval Garner.

by John Taylor, the Water-Poet, on Nicholas Wood,
" the great Eater of Kent," who in later life lost nearly
all his teeth " in eating a quarter of mutton, bones
and all, at Ashford." Wood far outstripped his
predecessor Wolner of Windsor, who digested iron,
glass, and oyster-shells, but was at length " by a raw
eel over-mastered."]

In 1536, the inhabitants of Bourges performed in their old Koman
amphitheatre a " Mystery of the Holy Acts of the Apostles " which was
perhaps the most elaborate ever recorded. It lasted 40 days, and it
was so admirably acted (as a contemporary historian assures us) " that
the greater part of the spectators judged it to be real and not feigned."
The performance began by a procession of the 494 performers from the
Abbey of St-Sulpice to the Arena, in costumes which modern pageant-
masters can only envy at a distance. " A demoniac, clad in green
satin brocaded with golden apples, was led on a gilt chain by his father
in yellow satin. A blind man and his varlet were in red and grey satin.
A paralytic had a shirt of orange satin. The blind men, ' rascals,' and
other beggars were clad in silk . . . After the Apostles came, ' in habit
of himiility, 62 [sic. ? 72] disciples clad in robes of velvet, crimson satin,
damask and taffata, made in strange and divers fashions, some with
embroidery and others with bands of ribbon or silk, all after the ancient
fashion.' . . . ' After all this devilry came a Hell fourteen feet long by
eight feet broad in fashion of a rock crowned with a tower ever burning
and belching flames, wherein Lucifer's head and body alone appeared
. . . vomiting flames of fire unceasingly, and holding in his hands
certain kinds of serpents or vipers which writhed and belched fire.' . . .
At the end of the procession came a Paradise eight feet broad by twelve
feet long.' "

Baron de Girardot printed in vol. XIII. of Didron's Annales Archaeo-
logiques, pp. 16 ff., a manuscript which contained a list of the " proper-
ties " required for this performance. Everything was as realistic as
possible : the flaying of St. Bartholomew was made visible by a " nudity,
or carnation " which he wore under his apparent skin ; the beheading
of Simon Magus was managed by the sudden substitution of a live
sheep, which suppHed the necessary blood ; to out-devil the devil, "we
must have a pair of spectacles for Satan." The following extract gives
the properties required for the Virgin Mary's death, funeral, and assump-
tion (see the whole description in the Golden Legend or in Myrc's
Festial). The accompanying illustration, representing the miraculous
severance of Belzeray's hands, is from a series representing the same
history, carved round the outside of Notre -Dame de Paris from the
north transept to the apse.



325.— ]5ct)intJ tbt Scenes at a ^^iracle.piap.

E must have a palm sent from Paradise for
Gabriel to bring to Mary. There must be
a thunder-clap in Paradise ; and then we
need a white cloud to come fetch and ravish
St. John preaching at Ephesus, and to
bring him before the door of the Virgin Mary's abode.




We must have another cloud to catch up all the Apostles
from their divers countries and bring them all before
the aforesaid house. We must have a white robe for
the Virgin Mary to die in. We must have a little

702 A Medieval Garner.

truckle-bed, and several torches of white wax which
the virgins will hold at the said Lady's death. Jesus
Christ must come down from Paradise to the death
of the Virgin Mary, accompanied by a great multitude
of angels, and take away her soul with Him. At the
moment when He cometh into the said Virgin's
chamber, we must make great fragrance of divers
odours. We must have the holy soul ready.* We
must have a crown encircled with twelve stars to crown
the aforesaid soul in Paradise. We must have a bier
to bear the said Lady's body to the tomb. We must
have a tomb. There must be sent down from Paradise
to the tomb aforesaid a round cloud shaped like a
crown, wherein are several holy angels with naked
swords and javelins in their hands ; and, if it may be,
we must have these living, that they may sing.
Belzeray, prince of the Jews, and others set off to go
and prevent lest the body of the said Lady be laid in
the tomb. The Jews strive to lay hands on the Virgin
Mary's body to tear her from the Apostles ; and forth-
with their hands are withered and they are blinded
with fire thrown by the angels. Belzeray laying hands
on the litter whereon the Virgin Mary is borne, his
hands remain fixed to the said litter, and much fire
is cast down like unto thunderbolts, and the Jews must
fall blinded to the earth. Belzeray' s hands must be
severed and Joined again to his arms ; then he is given
a palm which he beareth to the rest, and whereby such
as would believe were enlightened ; then he brought
back the said palm. We need a tomb wherein to lay
the said Lady's body. Such as would not be converted
are tormented by devils ; some must be borne to hell.
God purposeth to send to our Lady's tomb, to raise
her and bring her up to Paradise, body and soul.
St. Michael should present the soul to Jesus Christ.
This done, they come down accompanied by all the
orders of angels in Paradise ; and so soon as Jesus
Christ is come to the tomb, a great light must be made,

* Probably in the shape of a little naked child issuing from the dying
person's mouth, according to the usual medieval convention.

Humphrey of Gloucester. 703

whereat the Apostles are amazed. Gabriel must raise
the tombstone and the soul laid therein, so that it be
no more seen. The soul is reunited to the body, and
Mary riseth having her face clearer than the sun : then
she must humble herself before Jesus Christ. Jesus,
Mary, and all the angels must mount up ; and in
mounting they must stay awhile here and there, even
as the Orders shall speak. Mary, for the doubt that
St. Thomas had, casteth him her girdle. A cloud must
cover the Apostles : then let each depart underground
and go unto his own region.

More's English Works (as Principal Lindsay writes on p. 17 of the Srd
volume of the Cambridge History of English Literature) " deserve more
consideration than they usually receive." Yet he vouchsafes them
no further consideration ; and later on Mr. Routh mentions one of
them only to disparage it (p. 80). Since they are practically inaccessible
to the general reader (for the folio costs from £25 to £50 according to its
condition) I give here some stories which show him at his best as a
raconteur, and of which the first is doubly interesting for the use that
Shakespeare made of it. In the Dialogue More is arguing in his own
person against a disputant of quasi- heretical leanings, generally alluded
to as the Messenger or your Friend.

326.— an Impostor OBrposeD.

(p. 134. The Messenger Speaks).

|OME priest, to bring up a pilgrimage in his
parish, may devise some false fellow feigning
himself to come seek a saint in his church,
and there suddenly say, that he hath gotten
his sight. Then shall he have the bells
rung for a miracle, and the fond folk of the country
soon made fools, then women coming thither with
their candles. And the person buying of some lame
beggar, three or four pairs of their old crutches with
twelve pence spent in men and women of wax thrust
through divers places some with arrows, and some with
rusty knives, wUi make his offerings for one seven years
worth twice his tithes."

704 A Medieval Garner.

'* This is," quoth I, "very truth that such things may
be, and sometime so be in deed. As I remember me that
I have heard my father tell of a beggar, that in king
Henry's days the Sixth, came with his wife to Saint
Albans, and there was walking about the town begging
a five or six days before the king's coming thither, saying
that he was bom blind and never saw in his life ; and
was warned in his dream that he should come out of
Berwick, where he said he had ever dwelled, to seek
Saint Alban, and that he had been at his shrine, and
had not been holpen. And therefore he would go seek
him at some other place ; for he had heard some say
since he came that Saint Alban's body should be at
Cologne, and in deed such a contention hath there been.
But of truth, as I am surely informed, he lieth here at
Saint Albans, saving some relics of him which they
there show shrined. But to tell you forth, when the
king was come and the town full, suddenly this blind
man at Saint Alban's shrine had his sight again and a
miracle solemnly rungen, and Te Deum sungen so that
nothing was talked of in all the town but this miracle.
So happened it then, that duke Humphrey of Gloucester,
a great wise man and very well learned, having great
joy to see such a miracle, called the poor man unto him.
And (first showing himself joyous of God's glory so
showed in the getting of his sight, and exhorting him to
meekness, and to none ascribing of any part the worship
to himself nor to be proud of the people's praise, which
would call him a good and a godly man thereby,) at
last he looked well upon his eyen, and asked whether
he could never see nothing at all in all his life before.
And when as well his wife as himself affirmed f astly No,
then he looked advisedly upon his eyen again, and
said : ' I believe you very well, for methinketh that
ye cannot see well yet.' ' Yes sir,' quoth he, ' I
thank God and His holy martyr I can see now as well
as any man.' ' Ye can ? ' quoth the duke ; ' what
colour is my gown ? ' Then anon the beggar told him.
' What colour,' quoth he, ' is this man's gown ? '
He told him also, and so forth without any sticking he
told him the names of all the colours that could be

Use and Abuse. 7^5

showed him. And when my lord saw that, he bade
him walk [for a] false fellow, and made him be set
openl}^ in the stocks. For, though he could have seen
suddenly by miracle the difference between divers
colours, yet could he not by the sight so suddenly tell
the names of all these colours, but if he had known them
before, no more than the names of all the men that he
should suddenly see."

327.— atjuse De0ttopEtb not Ose.

(p. 198. More Speaks in His Own Person).


N some countries they go a-hunting commonly
on Good Friday in the morning for a
common custom. Will ye break that evil
custom, or cast away Good Friday ? There
be cathedral churches into which the country
cometh with procession at Whitsuntide, and the women
following the cross with many an unwomanly song,
and that such honest wives as that, out of the procession,
ye could not hear to speak one such foul ribaldry word
as they there sing for God's sake whole ribaldrous
songs, as loud as their throat can cry. Will you mend
that lewd manner, or put away Whitsuntide ? Ye
speak of lewdness used at pilgrimages : Is there (trow
ye) none used on holy days ? And why do you not
then advise us to put them clean away, Sundays and
all ? Some wax drunk in Lent of wigges and cracknels,
and yet ye would not, I trust, that Lent were fordone.
Christmas, if we consider how commonly we abuse it,
we may think that they take it for a time of liberty for
all manner of lewdness ; And yet is not Christmas to be
cast away among Christian men, but men rather mon-
ished to amend their manner, and use themselves in
Christmas more christianly. . . . Now touching the
evil petitions, though they that ask them were (as I
trust they be not) a great people, they be not yet so
many that ask evil petitions of saints as there be that
ask the same of God Himself. For whatsoever they will


7o6 A Medieval Garner.

ask of any good saint, they will ask of God also. And
commonly in the wild Irish, and some in Wales too, as
men say, when they go forth in robbing, they bless
them and pray God send them good speed, that they
may meet with a good purse and do harm and take
none. Shall we therefore find a fault with every man's
prayer because thieves pray for speed in robbery ?

This following extract, from More's Dialogue (Bk. III., chap. XVI.),
has a more definitely historical interest, and should be studied by all
who have read those portions of The Eve of the Reformation in which
Abbot Gasquet, after making free quotations from this chapter of
More's, asserts : " This absolute denial of any attitude of hostility
on the part of the Church to the translated Bible is reiterated in many
parts of Sir Thomas More's English works. ... It has been already
pointed out how Sir Thomas More completely disposed of this assertion
as to the hostility of the Clergy to the open Bible " (pp. 243, 246).
The extract will, I cannot help thinking, bring fresh light even to
readers of Dr. Gairdner's Lollardy and the Reformation. It must be
remembered that More's view (Uke Busch's already quoted in No, 298)
represents that of the most liberal and enlightened party among the

328.— ci)e ©alf=Clo0cti IBitJle.

(p. 240).

|IR," quoth your Friend [the messenger], " yet
for all this can I see no cause why the
clergy should keep the Bible out of lay-
men's hands that can no more but their
mother-tongue." " I had weened," quoth
I, " that I had proved you plainly that they keep it
not from them ; for I have showed you that they keep
none from them, but such translation as be either not
yet approved for good or such as be already reproved
for naught, as Wy cliff e's was and Tyndale's ; for as for
other old ones that were before Wycliffe's days, [they]
remain lawful, and be in some folks' hands had and
read. " Ye say, well," quoth he, " but yet, as women
say, somewhat it was alway that the cat winked when
her eye was out. Surely it is not for naught that the
English Bible is in so few men's hands when so many

The Half-Closed Bible. 707

would so fain have it." " That is very truth," quoth I,
*' for I think that, though the favourers of a sect of
heretics be so fervent in the setting forth of their sect,
that they let not to lay their money together and make
a purse among them for the printing of an evil-made,
or evil-translated book (which though it hap to be
forbidden and burned, yet some be sold ere they be
spied, and each of them lose but their part) yet I
think there will no printer lightly be so hot to put any
Bible in print at his own charge, whereof the loss should
lie whole in his own neck, and then hang upon a doubt-
ful trial, whether the first copy of his translation was
made before Wycliffe's days or since. For, if it were
made since, it must be approved before the printing.
And surely how it hath happed that in all this while
God hath either not suffered, or not provided, that any
good virtuous man hath had the mind in faithful wise
to translate it, and thereupon either the clergy, or at
the leastwise some one bishop, to approve it, this can I
nothing tell. ..." " I am sure," quoth your Friend,
" ye doubt not but that I am full and whole of your
mind in this matter, that the Bible should be in our
English tongue. But yet that the clergy is of the
contrary, and w^ould not have it so, that appeareth well,
in that they suffer it not to be so. And, over that I
hear, in every place almost where I find any learned
man of them, their minds [are] all set thereon to keep
the scripture from us ; and they seek out for that part

Online LibraryG. G. (George Gordon) CoultonA medieval garner; human documents from the four centuries preceding the reformation → online text (page 59 of 61)