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.
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.
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.
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 MSS. we not unfrequently find the ordinary musical instruments placed in the hands of the angels
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Three people making hats in the middle ages. One appears to be a child.
Labouring Colons (Twelfth Century), after a Miniature in a Manuscript of the Ste. Chapelle, of the National Library of Paris.
The trebuchet was another war machine used extensively during the Middle Ages. Essentially, it was a seesaw. Weights on the short arm swung the long throwing arm.