Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Training Lords' Sons (1457)

John Hardyng, Chronicle, 1457

And as lordes sonnes bene sette, at four yere age,
To scole to lerne the doctryne of letture,
And after at sex to have thaym in language,
And sitte at mete semely in alle nurture;
At ten and twelve to revelle in thair cure,
To daunse and synge, and speke of gentelnesse;
At fourtene yere they shalle to felde I sure,
At hunte the dere, and catch an hardynesse.

For dere to hunte and slea, and se them blede,
Ane hardyment gyffith to his corage,
And also in his wytte he takyth hede
Ymagynynge to take thaym at avauntage.
At sextene yere to werray and to wage,
To juste and ryde, and castels to assayle,
To scarmyse als, and make sykyr courage,
And sette his wache for perile nocturnayle;

And every day his armure to assay
In fete of armes with some of his meyne,
His might to preve, and what that he do may
Iff that he were in suche a jupertee
Of werre by falle, that by necessite
He might algates with wapyns hym defende:
Thus should he lerne in his priorite
His wapyns alle in armes to dispende.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice find!

It reminds me of the words of William Worcestre twenty years later.

And also moreover for the grettir defens of youre roiaumes and saufe garde of youre contreis in tyme of necessite, also to the avauncement and encrece of chevalrie and worship in armes, comaunde and doo founde establisshe, and ordeyne that the sonnes of princes, of lordis, and for the most part of alle tho that ben comen and descendid of noble bloode, as of auncien knightis, esquiers, and other auncient gentille men, that while they ben of grene age ben drawen forthe, norisshed, and excersised in disciplines, doctrine, and usage of scole of armes, as using justis [jousts], to can renne withe speer, handle withe ax, sworde, dagger, and alle othir defensible wepyn, to wrestling, to skeping, leping, and rennyng, to make them hardie, deliver and wele brethed, so as when ye and youre roiaume in such tyme of nede to have theire service in enterprises of dedis of armes, they may of experience be apt and more enabled to doo you service honourable in what region they become, and not to be unkonnyng, abashed, ne astonied, forto take enterprises, to answere or deliver a gentilman that desire in worship to doo armes in liestis to the utterance, or to certein pointis, or in a quarelle rightfulle to fight...

...But now of late daies, the grettir pite is, many one that ben descendid of noble bloode and borne to armes, as knightis sonnes, esquiers, and of othir gentille bloode, set hem silfe to singuler practik, straunge from that fet, as to lerne the practique of law or custom of lande, or of civile matier, and so wastyn gretlie theire tyme in suche nedlese besinesse, as to occupie courtis halding, to kepe and beare out a proude countenaunce at sessions and shiris halding, also there to embrace and rule among youre pore and simple comyns of bestialle contenaunce that lust to lyve in rest.

I wonder to what extent these passages are prescriptive and to what extent they reflect the actual practice of training young noblemen?