The woodcut, greatly reduced from one of the fine tournament scenes in the MS. history of the Roi Meliadus, shows the temporary gallery erected for the convenience of the ladies and other spectators to witness the sports. The tent of one of the knights is seen in the background, and an indication of the hurly-burly of the combat below
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.
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.
Knight of the Fifteenth Century
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.
Defending the Bridge
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.
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.