This engraving of the latter part of the fourteenth century, gives a very clear representation of a ship and its boat. The earl is setting out on his pilgrimage to the Holy Land. In the foreground we see him with his pilgrim’s staff in hand, stepping into the boat which is to carry him to his ship lying at anchor in the harbour. The costume of the sailors is illustrated by the men in the boat. The vessel is a ship of burden, but such a one as kings and great personages had equipped for their own uses; resembling an ordinary merchant-ship in all essentials, but fitted and furnished with more than usual convenience and sumptuousness.
The accompanying drawing is perhaps one of the clearest and best contemporary illustrations we have of these mediæval galleys. It will be seen that it consists of a long low open boat, with outrigger galleries for the rowers, while the hold is left[free for merchandise, or, as in the present instance, for men-at-arms. It has a forecastle like an ordinary ship; the shields of the men-at-arms who occupy it are hung over the bulwarks; the commander stands at the stern under a pent-house covered with tapestry, bearing his shield, and holding his leader’s truncheon. A close examination of the drawing seems to show that there are two men to each oar; we know from other sources that several men were sometimes put to each oar. The difference in costume between the soldiers and the sailors is conspicuous. The former are men-at-arms in full armour—one on the forecastle is very distinctly shown; the sailors are entirely unarmed, except the man at the stroke-oar, probably an officer, who wears an ordinary hat of the period, the rest wear the hood drawn over the head. The ship in the same illustration is an ordinary ship of burden, filled with knights and men-at-arms; the trumpeters at the stern indicate that the commander of the fleet is on board this ship; he will be seen amidships, with his visor raised and his face towards the spectator, with shield on arm and truncheon in hand.
Besides the pipe and horn, the bagpipe was also a rustic instrument. The picture is a shepherd playing upon one.
Saxon freemen seem to have universally borne arms. Tacitus tells us of their German ancestors, that swords were rare among them, and the majority did not use lances, but that spears, with a narrow, sharp and short head, were the common and universal weapon, used either in distant or close fight; and that even the cavalry were satisfied with a shield and one of these spears.
Saxon Soldier, in Leather Armour
Saxon Horse Soldiers
In the accompanying woodcut from a Late Saxon MS. in the British Museum we have a curious evidence of the way in which custom blinded men to any incongruity there may be in the association of the harper and the juggler, for here we have David singing his Psalms and accompanying himself on the harp, the dove reminding us that he sang and harped under the influence of inspiration. He is accompanied by performers who must be Levites; and yet the Saxon illuminator was so used to see a mime form one of a minstrel band, that he has introduced one playing the common feat of tossing three knives and three balls.
The Dominicans and Franciscans arose simultaneously at the beginning of the thirteenth century. Dominic, an Augustinian canon, a Spaniard of noble birth, was seized with a zeal for converting heretics, and having gradually associated a few ecclesiastics with himself, he at length conceived the idea of founding an order of men who should spend their lives in preaching. Simultaneously, Francis, the son of a rich Italian merchant, was inspired with a design to establish a new order of men, who should spend their lives in preaching the Gospel and doing works of charity among the people. These two men met in Rome in the year 1216 a.d.
It is curious to find that even at so late a period as the time of Queen Mary, the shepherds still officiated at weddings and other merrymakings in their villages, so as to excite the jealousy of the professors of the joyous science.
The accompanying wood-cut, from a MS. in the French National library, may represent such a rustic merry-making.
The picture is of a royal dinner of about the time of our Edward IV., “taken from an illumination of the romance of the Compte d’Artois, in the possession of M. Barrois, a distinguished and well-known collector in Paris
Robert Braunche,of Lynn
Regals or Organ (Royal, 14 E iii).
Regals and Double Pipe (Royal 2 B vii).
The humble life of the country rectors and vicars.
There is an ancient rectory house of the fourteenth century at West Deane, Sussex, of which we give a ground-plan and north-east view on the following page; but the rectory belonged to the prior and convent of Benedictine Monks of Wilmington, and this house was probably their grange, or cell, and may have been inhabited by two of their monks, or by their tenant, and not by the parish priest.
The humble life of the country rectors and vicars.
There is an ancient rectory house of the fourteenth century at West Deane, Sussex, of which we give a ground-plan and north-east view on the following page; but the rectory belonged to the prior and convent of Benedictine Monks of Wilmington, and this house was probably their grange, or cell, and may have been inhabited by two of their monks, or by their tenant, and not by the parish pries
In a reclusorium, or anchorhold, there was always a “cell” of a certain construction, to which all things else, parlours or chapels, apartments for servants and guests, yards and gardens, were accidental appendages.
Of the quilted armours we know very little. In the illuminations is often seen armour covered over with lines arranged in a lozenge pattern, which perhaps represents garments stuffed and sewn in this commonest of all patterns of quilting; but it has been suggested that it may represent lozenged-shaped scales, of horn or metal, fastened upon the face of the garments. In the wood-cut here given from the MS. Caligula A. vii., we have one of the clearest and best extant illustrations of this quilted armour.
Saxon soldier in armour
Every castle offered hope, not only of hospitality, but also of a trial of arms; for in every castle there would be likely to be knights and squires glad of the opportunity of running a course with bated spears with a new and skilful antagonist. Here is a picture from an old MS. which represents the preliminaries of such a combat on the green between the castle walls and the moat.
Men who are in the constant habit of bearing arms are certain to engage in friendly contests with each other; it is the only mode in which they can acquire skill in the use of their weapons, and it affords a manly pastime. That such men should turn encounters with an enemy into trials of skill, subject to certain rules of fairness and courtesy, though conducted with sharp weapons and in deadly earnest, is also natural.
A woodcut of the fifteenth century, from a manuscript life of Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, in the British Museum; the subject is the presentation of the pilgrim earl to the pope, and it enables us to bring into one view the costumes of pope, cardinal, and bishop.
The woodcut shows us a group of pages imbibing chivalrous usages even in their childish sports, for they are “playing at jousting.” It is easy to see the nature of the toy. A slip of wood forms the foundation, and represents the lists; the two wooden knights are movable on their horses by a pin through the hips and saddle; when pushed together in mimic joust, either the spears miss, and the course must be run again, or each strikes the other’s breast, and one or other gives way at the shock, and is forced back upon his horse’s back, and is vanquished.
Pilgrim, from Erasmus’s “Praise of Folly.”
The staff, or bourdon, was not of an invariable shape. On a fourteenth-century grave-stone at Haltwhistle, Northumberland, it is like a rather long walking-stick, with a natural knob at the top. In the cut from Erasmus’s “Praise of Folly” ” it is a similar walking-stick; but, usually, it was a long staff, some five, six, or seven feet long, turned in the lathe, with a knob at the top, and another about a foot lower down.
Pilgrim on Horseback
Pilgrim in Hair Shirt and Cloak
Picture represents very clearly the half-armour worn by the pikeman and the weapon from which they took their name.
The annexed woodcut represents passengers paying toll on landing at a foreign port. The reader will notice the picturesque custom-house officers, the landing-places, and the indications of town architecture.
The picture is a curious illumination from the Royal MS. 2 B vii., representing a friar and a nun themselves making minstrelsy.
A group of musical instruments from one of the illustrations of “Der Weise König,” a work of the close of the fifteenth century.
Monumental Brass of Alderman Field and his Son, a.d. 1474
The Chapter-house was always on the east side of the court. In establishments of secular canons it seems to have been always multi-sided with a central pillar to support its groining, and a lofty, conical, lead-covered roof. In these instances it is placed in the open space eastward of the cloister, and is usually approached by a passage from the east side of the cloister court
The Scriptorium is said to have been usually over the chapter-house. It was therefore a large apartment, capable of containing many persons, and, in fact, many persons did work together in it in a very business-like manner at the transcription of books.
The manner of bringing up a youth of good family in the Middle Ages was not to send him to a public school and the university, nor to keep him at home under a private tutor, but to put him into the household of some nobleman or knight of reputation to be trained up in the principles and practices of chivalry. First, as a page, he attended on the ladies of the household, and imbibed the first principles of that high-bred courtesy and transcendental devotion to the sex which are characteristic of the knight. From the chaplain of the castle he gained such knowledge of book-learning as he was destined to acquire—which was probably more extensive than is popularly supposed.
Next, round plates of metal, called placates or roundels, were applied to shield the armpits from a thrust; and sometimes they were used also at the elbow to protect the inner side of the joint where, for the convenience of motion, it was destitute of armour. An example of a roundel at the shoulder will be seen in one of the men-at-arms in the woodcut
In the illustration, of early fourteenth-century date, the scene of the dance is not indicated; the minstrels themselves appear to be joining in the saltitation which they inspire.
The last cut is taken from the painted glass at Tournay of the fifteenth century, and represents marchands en gros. This illustration of a warehouse with the merchant and his clerk, and the men and the casks and bales, and the great scales, in full tide of business, is curious and interesting.
Man-at-Arms and Archer of the Fifteenth Century
Sometimes a little below the lower knob there is a hook, or a staple, to which we occasionally find a water-bottle or a small bundle attached. The hook is seen on the staff of Lydgate’s pilgrim.
We have specially to call attention to the two men who are throwing shells, which are probably charged with Greek fire. This invention, which inspired such terror in the Middle Ages, seems to have been discovered in the east of Europe, and to have been employed as early as the seventh century. We hear much of its use in the Crusades, by the Greeks, who early possessed the secret of its fabrication. They used it either by ejecting it through pipes to set fire to the shipping or military engines, or to annoy and kill the soldiers of the enemy; or they cast it to a distance by means of vessels charged with it affixed to javelins; or they hurled larger vessels by means of the great engines for casting stones; or they threw the fire by hand in a hand-to-hand conflict; or used hollow maces charged with it, which were broken over the person of the enemy, and the liquid fire poured down, finding its way through the crevices of his armour.
At the west end of Laindon Church, Essex, there is a unique erection of timber, of which we here give a representation. It has been modernised in appearance by the insertion of windows and doors; and there are no architectural details of a character to reveal with certainty its date, but in its mode of construction—the massive timbers being placed close together—and in its general appearance, there is an air of considerable antiquity. It is improbable that a house would be erected in such a situation after the Reformation, and it accords generally with the descriptions of a recluse house.
The subject represents a scene from some romance, in which the good knight, attended by his squire, is guided by a damsel on some adventure.
Knights, Damsel, and Squire
We may say here that it was not unusual for people in fine weather to pitch a tent in the courtyard or garden of the castle, and live there instead of indoors, or to go a-field and pitch a little camp in some pleasant place, and spend the time in justing and feasting, and mirth and minstrelsy.
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.