The other great invention of this period was that of armorial bearings, properly so called. Devices painted upon the shield were common in classical times. They are found ordinarily on the shields in the Bayeux tapestry, and were habitually used by the Norman knights. In the Bayeux tapestry they seem to be fanciful or merely decorative; later they were symbolical or significant. But it was only towards the close of the twelfth century that each knight assumed a fixed device, which was exclusively appropriated to him, by which he was known, and which became hereditary in his family.
Knight of the Fifteenth Century
The cut is a spirited little sketch of a mounted knight. The horse, it may be admitted, is very like those which children draw nowadays, but it has more life in it than most of the drawings of that day; and the way in which the knight sits his horse is much more artistic. The picture shows the equipment of the knight very clearly, and it is specially valuable as an early example of horse trappings, and as an authority for the shape of the saddle, with its high pommel and croupe.
The accompanying wood-cut represents various peculiarities of the armour in use towards the close of the thirteenth century.
King, &c., in Pavilion before Castle
The picture is a mediæval representation of no less a personage than Julius Cæsar crossing the Rubicon. The foremost figure is Cæsar. He is in a complete suit of plate-armour; over his armour he wears a very curious drapery like a short tabard without sleeves; it is of a yellow brown colour, but of what material it is not possible to determine.
Illustration the sepulchral effigy in Westminster Abbey of John of Eltham, the second son of King Edward II., who died in 1334. Here we see first and lowest the hacqueton; then the hauberk of chain mail, slightly pointed in front, which was one of the fashions of the time
We give another representation from the picture of John Ball, the priest who was concerned in Wat Tyler’s rebellion, taken from a MS. of Froissart’s Chronicle, in the Bibliothèque Impériale at Paris. The whole picture is interesting; the background is a church, in whose churchyard are three tall crosses. Ball is preaching from the pulpit of his saddle to the crowd of insurgents who occupy the left side of the picture.
The picture represents Johanna de Warn, who also gave what is described as a well-built house, with a louvre, in St. Alban’s town. This house, again, is of timber, with traceried windows, an arched doorway with ornamental hinges to the door, and an unusually large and handsome louvre. This louvre was doubtless in the roof of the hall, and probably over a fire-hearth in the middle of the hall, such as that which still exists in the fourteenth-century hall at Pevensey, Kent. The lady’s face is strong corroboration of the theory that these are portraits.
St. Robert’s Chapel, at Knaresborough, Yorkshire, is a very excellent example of a hermitage. It is hewn out of the rock, at the bottom of a cliff, in the corner of a sequestered dell.
The picture is an exceedingly interesting representation of a grand imperial banquet, from one of the plates of Hans Burgmair, in the volume dedicated to the exploits of the Emperor Maximilian, contemporary with our Henry VIII. It represents the entrance of a masque, one of those strange entertainments, of which our ancestors, in the time of Henry and Elizabeth, were so fond. The band of minstrels who have been performing during the banquet, are seen in the left corner of the picture.
The woodcut represents “howe a mighty Duke chalenged Erle Richard for his lady sake, and in justyng slewe the Duke and then the Empresse toke the Erle’s staff and bear from a knight shouldre, and for great love and fauvr she sette it on her shouldre. Then Erle Richard made one of perle and p’cious stones, and offered her that, and she gladly and lovynglee reseaved it.” The picture shows the Duke and Earl in the crisis of the battle.
Henry VIII's Army
The custom of having instrumental music as an accompaniment of dinner is still retained by her Majesty and by some of the greater nobility, by military messes, and at great public dinners. But the musical accompaniment of a mediæval dinner was not confined to instrumental performances. We frequently find a harper introduced, who is doubtless reciting some romance or history, or singing chansons of a lighter character. He is often represented as sitting upon the floor.
It represents a sally of the garrison of Nantes on the English, who are besieging it. The man-at-arms who lies prostrate under the horse-hoofs is one of the garrison, who has been pierced by the spear whose truncheon lies on the ground beside him.
The unarmed man on the left is one of the English party, in ordinary civil costume, apparently only a spectator of the attack.
The cut represents a group of Cistercian monks, from a manuscript in the British Museum. It shows some of them sitting with hands crossed and concealed in their sleeves—an attitude which was considered modest and respectful in the presence of superiors; some with the cowl over the head. It will be observed that some are and some are not bearded.
The shepherds, throughout the Middle Ages, seem to have been as musical as the swains of Theocritus or Virgil; in the MS. illuminations we constantly find them represented playing upon instruments; we give a couple of goatherds from the MS. Royal 2 B vii. folio 83, of early fourteenth-century date.
Funeral Service of a Hermit
French National Library
We have hitherto spoken of male pilgrims; but it must be borne in mind that women of all ranks were frequently to be found on pilgrimage; and all that has been said of the costume and habits of the one sex applies equally to the other. Here is a cut of a female pilgrim with scrip, staff, and hat.
There were also female minstrels throughout the Middle Ages; but, as might be anticipated from their irregular wandering life, they bore an indifferent reputation.
St. Robert’s Chapel, at Knaresborough, Yorkshire, is a very excellent example of a hermitage. It is hewn out of the rock, at the bottom of a cliff, in the corner of a sequestered dell. The exterior, a view of which is given below, presents us with a simply arched doorway at the bottom of the rough cliff, with an arched window on the left, and a little square opening between, which looks like the little square window of a recluse. Internally we find the cell sculptured into the fashion of a little chapel, with a groined ceiling, the groining shafts and ribs well enough designed, but rather rudely executed.
Our illustration represents Isabel of Bavaria, Queen of Charles VII., making her entry into Paris attended by noble dames and lords of France, on Sunday, 20th of August, in the year of our Lord 1389. There was a great crowd of spectators and the bourgeois of Paris, twelve hundred, all on horseback, were ranged in pairs on each side of the road, and clothed in a livery of gowns of baudekyn green and red. The Queen, seated in her canopied litter, occupies the middle of the picture, in robe and mantle of blue powdered with fleur-de-lis, three noblemen walking on each side in their robes and coronets.
Rogerus, chaplain of the chapel of the Earl of Warwick, at Flamsted. Over a scarlet gown, is a pink cloak lined with blue; the hood is scarlet, of the same suit as the gown; the buttons at the shoulder of the cloak are white, the shoes red.
Sir Richard de Threton, priest,who was executor of Sir Robert de Thorp, knight, formerly chancellor of the king, and who gave twenty marks to the convent. Our woodcut gives only the outlines of the full-length portrait. In the original the robe and hood are of full bright blue, lined with white; the under sleeves, which appear at the wrists, are of the same colour; and the shoes are red.
the grateful monks of St. Alban’s have recorded the names and good deeds of those who had presented gifts or done services to the convent.
In the picture is Dns. Bartholomeus de Wendone, rector of the church of Thakreston, and the character of the face leads us to think that it may have been intended for a portrait. His robe and hood and sleeves are scarlet, with black shoes.
Defending the Bridge
Cymbals and Trumpets
The cross-bowman is winding up his weapon with a winch, his shield is slung at his back.
The cut, from a MS. in the French National Library, gives the interior of the courtyard of a great house. We notice the portion of one of the towers on the left, the draw-well, the external stair to the principal rooms on the first floor, the covered unglazed gallery which formed the mode of communication from the different apartments of the first floor, and the dormer windows.
The convents of friars were not independent bodies, like the Benedictine and Augustinian abbeys; each order was an organised body, governed by the general of the order, and under him, by provincial priors, priors of the convents, and their subordinate officials. There are usually reckoned four orders of friars—the Dominicans, Franciscans, Carmelites, and Augustines.
“I found there freres,
All the foure orders,
Techynge the peple
To profit of themselves.”
Piers Ploughman, l. 115.
The four orders are pictured together in the woodcut page from the thirteenth century MS. Harl. 1,527.
They were called Friars because, out of humility, their founders would not have them called Father and Dominus, like the monks, but simply Brother (Frater, Frère, Friar).
The coronation procession of Charles V. of France, will help us to exhibit some of the orders of the clergy with their proper costume and symbols. First goes the aquabajalus, in alb, sprinkling holy water; then a cross-bearer in cassock and surplice; then two priests, in cassock, surplice, and cope; then follows a canon in his cap (biretta), with his furred amys over his arm.
The engravings of Hans Burgmaier, in the Triumphs of Maximilian and the Weise Könige contain numerous authorities very valuable for the clearness and artistic skill with which the armour is depicted. We have given an illustration which represents a combat of two knights, on foot. The armour is partly covered by a surcoat; in the left-hand figure it will be seen that it is fluted. The shields will be noticed as illustrating one of the shapes then in use.
In 1098 a.d., arose the Cistercian order. It took the name from Citeaux (Latinised into Cistercium), the house in which the new order was founded by Robert de Thierry. Stephen Harding, an Englishman, the third abbot, brought the new order into some repute; but it is to the fame of St. Bernard, who joined it in 1113 a.d., that the speedy and widespread popularity of the new order is to be attributed. The order was introduced into England at Waverly, in Surrey, in 1128 a.d. The Cistercians professed to observe the rule of St. Benedict with rigid exactness, only that some of the hours which were devoted by the Benedictines to reading and study, the Cistercians devoted to manual labour.
In the year 1084 a.d., the Carthusian order was founded by St. Bruno, a monk of Cologne, at Chartreux, near Grenoble. This was the most severe of all the reformed Benedictine orders. To the strictest observance of the rule of Benedict they added almost perpetual silence; flesh was forbidden even to the sick; their food was confined to one meal of pulse, bread, and water, daily. It is remarkable that this the strictest of all monastic rules has, even to the present day, been but slightly modified; and that the monks have never been accused of personally deviating from it.
The Augustinians claim the great St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, as their founder, and relate that he established the monastic communities in Africa, and gave them a rule. That he did patronise monachism in Africa we gather from his writings, but it is not clear that he founded any distinct order; nor was any order called after his name until the middle of the ninth century.
Those more terrible engines of war which ultimately revolutionised the whole art of warfare, which made the knight’s armour useless, and the trebuchet and arbalest the huge toys of an unscientific age, were already introduced; though they were yet themselves so immature, that for a time military men disputed whether the old long bow or the new fire-arm was the better weapon, and the trebuchet still held its place beside the cannon.
Cannon and Mortar
The illustration may represent to us the merry Sir Dinadan driving to the tournament of the Castle of Maidens
The man on the right of the cut wears a visored helmet, but it has no amail; his body is protected by a skirt of mail, which appears at the shoulders and hips, and at the openings of his blue surcoat; the legs are in brown hose, and the feet in brown shoes. The centre figure has a helmet and camail, sleeves of mail, and iron breastplate of overlapping plates; the upper plate and the skirt are of red spotted with gold; his hose and shoes are of dark grey. The third man has a helmet with camail, and the body protected by mail, which shows under the arm, but he has also shoulder-pieces and elbow-pieces of plate; his surcoat is yellow, and his hose red. The artist has here admirably illustrated the use of the crossbow. In one case we see the archer stringing it by help of a little winch; in the next he is taking a bolt out of the quiver at his side with which to load his weapon; in the third we have the attitude in which it was discharged.
The woodcut represents the characteristic costume of three orders of religious with whom we have been concerned—a bishop, an abbot, and a clerk.
In the year 529 a.d., St. Benedict, an Italian of noble birth and great reputation, introduced into his new monastery on Monte Cassino—a hill between Rome and Naples—a new monastic rule. To the three vows of obedience, poverty, and chastity, which formed the foundation of most of the old rules, he added another, that of manual labour (for seven hours a day), not only for self-support, but also as a duty to God and man.
The Nuns of Fontevraud was another female order of Augustinians, of which little is known. It was founded at Fontevraud in France, and three houses of the order were established in England in the time of Henry II.; they had monks and nuns within the same enclosure, and all subject to the rule of an abbess.
Bedesmen - In time of Henry VII
The group represents the abbot and some of the monks, and behind them some of the bedesmen, each of whom has the royal badge—the rose and crown—on the shoulder of his habit, and holds in his hand his rosary, the symbol of his prayers.
In the cut we give a representation of the battering-ram It contains curious contrivances for throwing up scaling-ladders and affixing them to the battlements, from which the inventors of our fire-escapes may have borrowed suggestions; and others for bridging wide moats and rivers with light scaffolding, which could be handled and fixed as easily and quickly as the scaling-ladders. The drawing of the ram only indicates that the machine consists of a heavy square beam of timber, provided, probably, with a metal head, which is suspended by a rope from a tall frame, and worked by manual strength. The cut is especially interesting as an illustration of the style of armour of the latter part of the fifteenth century. It gives the back as well as the front of the figure, and also several varieties of helmet.
Picture represents very clearly the half-armour worn by the Arquebusier and the weapon from which they took their name.
The illustration, from a fourteenth-century manuscript, represents a siege. A walled town is on the right, and in front of the wall, acting on the part of the town, are the cross-bowmen in the cut, protected by great shields which are kept upright by a rest. The men seem to be preparing to fire, and the uniformity of their attitude, compared with the studied variety of attitude of groups of bowmen in other illustrations, suggests that they are preparing to fire a volley.
In the picture in the French National Library, the beds are arranged at the side of the apartment in separate berths, like those of a ship’s cabin, or like the box beds of the Highlands of Scotland. It is necessary, perhaps, to explain that the artist has imagined one side of the room removed, so as to introduce into his illustration both the mounted traveller outside and the interior of the inn.
In the woodcut the side of the hostelry next to the spectator is supposed to be removed, so as to bring under view both the party of travellers approaching through the corn-fields, and the same travellers tucked into their truckle beds and fast asleep. The sign of the inn will be noticed projecting over the door, with a brush hung from it. Many houses displayed signs in the Middle Ages; the brush was the general sign of a house of public entertainment. On the bench in the common dormitory will be seen the staves and scrips of the travellers, who are pilgrims.
The woodcut represents the execution, in Paris, of a famous captain of robbers, Aymerigol Macel. The scaffold is enclosed by a hoarding; at the nearer corners are two friars, one in brown and one in black, probably a Franciscan and a Dominican; the official, who stands with his hands resting on his staff superintending the executioner, has a gown of red with sleeves lined with white fur, his bonnet is black turned up also with white fur. In the background are the timber houses on one side of the place, with the people looking out of their windows; a signboard will be seen standing forth from one of the houses. The groups of people in the distance and those in the foreground give the costumes of the ordinary dwellers in a fourteenth-century city.
It will be seen that the whale has been killed, and the successful adventurers are “cutting out” the blubber very much after the modern fashion.
In the MSS. we not unfrequently find the ordinary musical instruments placed in the hands of the angels
We give here, from the St. Alban’s Book, a woodcut of an abbot on horseback, with a hat over his hood—“an abbot on an ambling pad;” he is giving his benediction in return to the salute of some passing traveller.
Clerk in Orders is still the legal description of a clergyman; and men whose occupation is to use the pen are still called clerks, as lawyers’ clerks, merchants’ clerks, &c. Clerks were often employed in secular occupations; for example, Alan Middleton, who was employed by the convent of St. Alban’s to collect their rents, and who is represented in the picture from their “Catalogus Benefactorum” (Nero D. vii., British Museum), is tonsured, and therefore was a clerk.
The Cellarer was in fact the steward of the house; his modern representative is the bursar of a college. He had the care of everything relating to the provision of the food and vessels of the convent. He was exempt from the observance of some of the services in church; he had the use of horses and servants for the fulfilment of his duties, and sometimes he appears to have had separate apartments. The cellarer, as we have said, wore no distinctive dress or badge; but in the Catalogus Benefactorum of St. Alban’s there occurs a portrait of one “Adam Cellarius,” who for his distinguished merit had been buried among the abbots in the chapter-house, and had his name and effigy recorded in the Catalogus; he is holding two keys in one hand and a purse in the other, the symbols of his office; and in his quaint features—so different from those of the dignified abbot whom we have given from the same book—the limner seems to have given us the type of a business-like and not ungenial cellarer.
The accompanying cut from Barclay’s “Shippe of Fools,” gives a view in the interior of a mediæval town. The lower story of the houses is of stone, the upper stories of timber, projecting. The lower stories have only small, apparently unglazed windows, while the living rooms with their oriels and glazed lattices are in the first floor.
Squires are unarmed, and mature men of rather heavy type, different from the gay and gallant youths whom we are apt to picture to ourselves as the squires of the days of chivalry attendant on noble knights adventurous.
An engraving from a manuscript of a semi-choir of minoresses, which is only a portion of a large church interior.
The picture of a semi-choir of Franciscan friars is from a fourteenth-century psalter. The picture is worth careful examination for the costume of the friars—grey frock and cowl, with knotted cord girdle and sandalled feet; some wearing the hood drawn over the head, some leaving it thrown back on the neck and shoulders; one with his hands folded under his sleeves like the Cistercians at p. 17. The precentor may be easily distinguished in the middle stall beating time, with an air of leadership. There is much character in all the faces and attitudes—e.g., in the withered old face on the left, with his cowl pulled over his ears to keep off the draughts, or the one on the precentor’s left, a rather burly friar, evidently singing bass.
The illuminators are never tired of representing battles and sieges; and the general impression which we gather from them is that a mediæval combat must have presented to the lookers-on a confused melée of rushing horses and armoured men in violent action, with a forest of weapons overhead—great swords, and falchions, and axes, and spears, with pennons fluttering aloft here and there in the breeze of the combat.[Pg 376] We almost fancy we can see the dust caused by the prancing horses, and hear the clash of weapons and the hoarse war-cries, and sometimes can almost hear the shriek which bursts from the maddened horse, or the groan of the man who is wounded and helpless under the trampling hoofs.
In a MS. volume of romances of the early part of the fourteenth century in the British Museum, the title-page of the romance of the “Quête du St. Graal” is adorned with an illumination of a royal banquet; a squire on his knee (as in the illustration given on opposite page) is carving, and a minstrel stands beside the table playing the violin
The picture represents a priest confessing a lady in a church. The characters in the scene are allegorical; the priest is Genius, and the lady is Dame Nature; but it is not the less an accurate picture of a confessional scene of the latter part of the fourteenth century.
The woodcut represents, probably, the cellarer of a Dominican convent receiving a donation of a fish.
The illustration is a very interesting street-view of the fifteenth century. Take first the right-hand side of the engraving, remove the forest of picturesque towers and turrets with their spirelets and vanes which appear over the roofs of the houses (in which the artist has probably indulged his imagination as to the effect of the other buildings of the town beyond), and we have left a sober representation of part of a mediæval street—a row of lofty timber houses with their gables turned to the street.
Our illustration represents a market scene, the women sitting on their low stools, with their baskets of goods displayed on the ground before them. The female on the left seems to be filling up her time by knitting; the woman on the right is paying her market dues to the collector, who is habited as a clerk. The background appears to represent a warehouse, where transactions of a larger kind are going on.
A knight was known to be a knight-errant by his riding through the peaceful country in full armour, with a single squire at his back, as surely as a man is now recognised as a fox-hunter who is seen riding easily along the strip of green sward by the roadside in a pink coat and velvet cap.
The order of the Knights of the Temple was founded at Jerusalem in 1118 a.d., during the interval between the first and second crusades, and in the reign of Baldwin I. Hugh de Payens, and eight other brave knights, in the presence of the king and his barons, and in the hands of the Patriarch, bound themselves into a fraternity which embraced the fundamental monastic vows of obedience, poverty, and chastity; and, in addition, as the special object of the fraternity, they undertook the task of escorting the companies of pilgrims from the coast up to Jerusalem, and thence on the usual tour to the Holy Places.
The Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, or the Knights Hospitallers, originally were not a military order; they were founded about 1092 by the merchants of Amalfi, in Italy, for the purpose of affording hospitality to pilgrims in the Holy Land. Their chief house, which was called the Hospital, was situated at Jerusalem, over against the Church of the Holy Sepulchre; and they had independent hospitals in other places in the Holy Land, which were frequented by the pilgrims. Their kindness to the sick and wounded soldiers of the first crusade made them popular, and several of the crusading princes endowed them with estates; while many of the crusaders, instead of returning home, laid down their arms, and joined the brotherhood of the Hospital. During this period of their history their habit was a plain black robe, with a linen cross upon the left breast.
Our woodcut represents a mediæval shop of a high class, probably a goldsmith’s. The shopkeeper eagerly bargaining with his customer is easily recognised, the shopkeeper’s clerk is making an entry of the transaction, and the customer’s servant stands behind him, holding some of his purchases; flagons and cups and dishes seem to be the principal wares; heaps of money lie on the table, which is covered with a handsome tablecloth, and in the background are hung on a “perch,” for sale, girdles, a hand-mirror, a cup, a purse, and sword.
The Franciscans were styled by their founder Fratri Minori—lesser brothers, Friars Minors; they were more usually called Grey Friars, from the colour of their habits, or Cordeliers, from the knotted cord which formed their characteristic girdle. Their habit was originally a grey tunic with long loose sleeves (but not quite so loose as those of the Benedictines), a knotted cord for a girdle, and a black hood; the feet always bare, or only protected by sandals.
A Fourteenth Century House
Dominic gave to his order the name of Preaching Friars; more commonly they were styled Dominicans, or, from the colour of their habits, Black Friars—their habit consisting of a white tunic, fastened with a white girdle, over that a white scapulary, and over all a black mantle and hood, and shoes; the lay brethren wore a black scapulary.
In the illustration, reproduced from Mr. Wright’s “Domestic Manners of the English,” we have a curious picture of a dance, possibly in the gallery, which occupied the whole length of the roof of most fifteenth-century houses; it is from a MS. of fifteenth-century date.
In all these instances the minstrels are on the floor with the dancers, but in the latter part of the Middle Ages they were probably—especially on festal occasions—placed in the music gallery over the screens, or entrance-passage, of the hall.
The word clericus—clerk—was one of very wide and rather vague significance, and included not only the various grades of clerks in orders, of whom we have spoken, but also all men who followed any kind of occupation which involved the use of reading and writing; finally, every man who could read might claim the “benefit of clergy,” i.e., the legal immunities of a clerk.
The convent is the name especially appropriate to the body of individuals who composed a religious community.
The whole convent was under the government of the abbot, who, however, was bound to govern according to the rule of the order. Sometimes he was elected by the convent; sometimes the king or some patron had a share in the election. Frequently there were estates attached to the office, distinct from those of the convent; sometimes the abbot had only an allowance out of the convent estates; but always he had great power over the property of the convent, and bad abbots are frequently accused of wasting the property of the house, and enriching their relatives and friends out of it.
The Carmelite Friars had their origin, as their name indicates, in the East. According to their own traditions, ever since the days of Elijah, whom they claim as their founder, the rocks of Carmel have been inhabited by a succession of hermits, who have lived after the pattern of the great prophet. Their institution as an order of friars, however, dates from the beginning of the thirteenth century, when Albert, Patriarch of Jerusalem, gave them a rule, founded upon, but more severe than, that of St. Basil; and gave them a habit of white and red stripes, which, according to tradition, was the fashion of the wonder-working mantle of their prophet-founder.