Sunday, July 18, 2010

Arms the Seneschal of Hainault Did on his Voyage to Santiago: 1402-1403

Here follow the arms my lord the seneschal of Hainault did on his voyage to Santiago in Galicia. The last day of September he did arms at Bordeaux before the duke of Iol, against Lord John Zouche, English, that is to say a lance course and 30 strokes of the sword on horseback without reprinses*. And the seneschal of Hainault broke his lance on the upper edge of the gardbrace. And they achieved their arms on horseback to the great honor of my lord seneschal. Item on foot 20 pushes of the sword, 20 strokes of the axe and 20 strokes of the dagger, with two reprinses for each weapon. And the said Englishman was wounded by a push of the sword, and carried to ground by the seneschal's 11th push, so that the arms were accomplished.

Item, the third day of October he did arms at little Bordeaux, before my lord of Duras, against Peterkin Lambert, English, of one course of the lance on horseback and 26 strokes of the sword. And in the lance course the seneschal struck the Englishman on the hinge of his armet, and so staggered him that he was not able to achieve his arms that day. On the second day they achieved their arms very fiercely. Item they did arms on foot for nine pushes of the lance with three reprinses and 25 strokes of the axe without reprinse. The seneschal made the Englishman lose his axe entirely out of both hands, so that the arms were accomplished.

Item, he did arms at Dast, before my lord Matthieu de Gornay, against the Viscount d'Orse, one lance course and 20 strokes of the sword on horseback without reprinses, during which they both broke their lances, put their hands to their swords, and achieve their count very fiercely.

Item, he did arms before the Infant of Castile against Alvaro d'Avile, one lance course and 20 strokes of the sword. The lances did not attaint, and the seneschal wounded Alvaro in the armpit with a sword stroke, so that he was in great danger of being unable to achieve his arms on foot afterwards. Item, on foot 20 pushes of the sword with two reprinses and 20 strokes of the axe without retreat.

Item, he did arms before the king of Castile against Rodis de Mendoza, the most redoubted man in Spain, one lance course and 20 strokes with a sword on horseback. And the seneschal struck Rodis de Mendoza on the gardbrace, and Rodis de Mendoza struck the seneschal on the top of the piece, and they both broke their lances and very fiercely achieved the number of their strokes with the sword. Item on foot 30 pushes the sword with five reprinses, 30 strokes of the axe with five reprinses. Item 6 throws of the lance with six reprinses and nine pushes of the lance with three reprinses. The arms on foot were accompished over three days: the first day the sword, the second the axe and the third the lance.

The seneschal do not have the advantage the first day, and Mendoza made him recoil a good three steps to the rear. The next day with the axe the seneschal recovered his honor as he made Mendoza touch the earth with hand and knee and struck his axe out of both his hands so that the arms were accomplished for that day.

Item the third day they accomplished their throws and pushes of the lance, which did not last long. On the first throw, Mendoza struck the seneschal on his little pavise, and pierced through it by more than half an arms length. On the third stroke the seneschal hit him on one of the knee lames of his cuisse, and pierced it a good three finger widths below the knee with a deadly blow so that his leg failed him and he was carried to his lodgings. The king of Spain vowed to our Lady of Gadeloup his weight in silver, and the seneschal vowed to the aforesaid Lady his weight in wax. On the fourth night afterward Mendoza had a vision in which the image of Our Lady appeared to him....

(Mendoza recovered from his wound, and the seneschal continued on to Santiago)

My lord the seneschal found there the brother of the bishop of that place who had assembled a very honorable company of ladies and demoiselles. And the lady of that knight was already there, and had scaffolds and lists made where the arms work to be. And the lady of the knight had written a letter to the seneschal of the following tenor:

My lord the great Seneschal of Hainault, I recommend myself to your good grace, because I know and see very well your very honorable goodwill. I pray that you grant me a request. That is, that please you to fight a knight of these marches, born in faithfull marriage and without base reproach, to the outrance so that he may requite his service to the ladies.

In the arm in the harness which noble men are accustomed to fight the champ clos. And the weapons will be these: the lance to throw, the axe to fight, and the dagger to do the utmost without any evil device....

The day after the writing of the letter, the seneschal arrived at Santiago, and the count of Bennevent, ladies and demoiselles met him a good two leagues outside of town and led him to his lodgings, which were well hung with tapestries and equipped with everything necessary. The next day the lord count and the ladies gave him a very fine banquet, and no one could ask for a better feast.

The day for undertaking their arms they both came into the lists and went to their pavilions. All ceremonies done and the cry of "laissez le-aller" made, they sallied out of their pavilions as fiercely as two tigers, and each threw his lance, striking and piercing the little pavise of the other. And they came to fight with axes very fiercely. And taking a deceptive step away from his opponent, the seneschal brought his axe around and struck him on the hinge of bascinet and carried him to earth thoroughly stunned. And my lord the seneschal went before the scaffolds of the judges and asked him if he had satisfied them. And during this time the count of Bennevent did not say a word. And so the seneschal returned and found his adversary on one knee attempting to rise and gave him a thrust with the axe so he turned halfway around and then the judges threw down the baton and had them taken and led before the scaffold, and judged that the prize went to my lord the seneschal so that he thanked them for the good judgment that they had given, and went to disarm at his lodgings. That night the ladies gave a banquet where he was well feasted. He took leave of all the company, and the lady who had written to him gave him a diamond to give to his lady which was worth a thousand escuz.

*Reprinse: A permitted pause in the combat during which the opponents can separate, much like the pause between rounds in a boxing match.

Translation copyright Will McLean, 2010.

Originally found in:

Archives historiques et littéraires du nord de la France, et du midi de la Belgique. 1829. Valenciennes: Au Bureau des Archives.

No comments: