Sunday, July 30, 2006

Chevauchee by BlakP

They call me BlakP, and I've got the bling
The ruby that I got from the Spanish king

yeo yeo yeo yeo yeo yeo yeoman
yeo yeo yeo yeo yeo yeo yeoman

I look stylin' in cotearmure as I make my attack
and wear my cap of maintenance turned front to back

yeo yeo yeo yeo yeo yeo yeoman
yeo yeo yeo yeo yeo yeo yeoman

I wear fine cloths and I spend lots of moneye
It's the 14th C and I spell wordes funny

yeo yeo yeo yeo yeo yeo yeoman
yeo yeo yeo yeo yeo yeo yeoman

If you dis me what follows is no kind of mystery
Like the burghers of Limoges you're going to be history

yeo yeo yeo yeo yeo yeo yeoman
yeo yeo yeo yeo yeo yeo yeoman

Gonna do a drive by with my band of brothers
Calveley and Knollys and some nasty mothers

yeo yeo yeo yeo yeo yeo yeoman
yeo yeo yeo yeo yeo yeo yeoman

We don't give goddam for your Salic Law
We gonna knock you down with our shock and awe

yeo yeo yeo yeo yeo yeo yeoman
yeo yeo yeo yeo yeo yeo yeoman

We gonna ride ruff, gonna do chevauchee
gonna ride right through your goddam countree

yeo yeo yeo yeo yeo yeo yeoman
yeo yeo yeo yeo yeo yeo yeoman

We beat you at Poitiers, we beat you at Crecy
You can fight us if you wanna, but its gonna be messy

yeo yeo yeo yeo yeo yeo yeoman
yeo yeo yeo yeo yeo yeo yeoman

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Braveheart Outtake

Edward I: "Yes, heh, we must find a way to, cough, bring these rebellious Scots to heel..."

(other cast members look at ceiling, since Patrick McGoohan is the most prominent Celt in the whole bloody movie, and he's playing King Edward...)

E: "Yes, I believe it is time to revive the ancient IUS PRIMA NOCTUAE!"

(Edward whips a small owl from beneath his cloak. Other cast members start back in alarm)

E: "Yes, heh, that will bring north the sort of men we need, eh? Anyone got a mouse? Hmmm, anyone?"

(Remainder of the cast back slowly away, muttering "A mouse, right, thought I saw one in the kitchen", etc. etc. Prince Edward and friend are scrupulously careful to avoid open windows on the way out.....)

Amazing Screw-On Head

If you like animated steampunk Lovecraftian comedy as imagined by Mike Mignola, you might enjoy the Amazing Screw-On Head. Very silly stuff.

Petulant zombies, vampiresses with issues, and very small parrallel universes. And 1860s videophones with flip clock viewscreens.

The animators have done a good job of capturing the look of Mignola's comics with their crisp, inky blacks.

Deeds of Arms by Consent:1400-1425

Challenge by Michel D'Orris 1400

Victory of Seven French against Seven English in a Private Combat 1402

How Jean de Verchin, seneschal of Hainault, sent his letters to diverse countries to do arms, 1402

Richard Beauchamp Jousts at Coronation of Queen Jane, 1403

The Seneschal of Hainault Performs a Deed of Arms in Valencia, 1403

Orleans vs. Burgundy: an Aborted Outrance Combat of Seven vs. Seven, 1406

Richard Beauchamp vs. Pandolfo Malatesta 1408

John of Cornwall vs. the Seneschal of Hainault 1409

Richard Beauchamp Tourneys, c. 1410

Challenge of the Earl of Warwick 1413-1414
Richard Beauchamp vs. Gerard Herbaumes, 1414
Richard Beauchamp vs. Hugh Launey, 1414
Richard Beauchamp vs. Colard Fynes, 1414

Gerard Herbaumes Issues a Challenge, ca. 1414

How Arms Were Done in the Mines Before Arras,1414

Richard Beauchamp vs. A German Duke c. 1414

Duke of Bourbon's Enterprise 1415

D’Ollumen vs. de la Haye 1415

Continge vs. de Bars 1415

Alvaro Continge vs. Clugnet de Brabant 1415

Three Portuguese Do Arms against Three French at Paris, 1415

Two Challenges Fought at Arras, 1423

Richard Beauchamp Jousts at Coronation of Queen Jane, 1403

Here shows how at coronation of Queen Jane Earl Richard kept joust for the Queen’s part against all other comers. Where he so notably and so knightly behaved himself; as rebounded to his noble fame and perpetual worship.

Pageant of the Birth Life and Death of Richard Beauchamp Earl of Warwick K. G. 1389-1439, Dillon, Viscount, Ed. London 1914

Richard Beauchamp Tourneys, c. 1410

Here showeth how Earl Richard from Venice took his way to Russia, Lithuania, Poland, and Prussia, Westphalia and other coasts of Almane toward England by such coasts as his ancestry had labored in, and specially Earl Thomas’s grandfather. That in war had taken the king’s son of Lithuania and brought him into England and christened him at London naming him after himself Thomas. And in this journey Earl Richard got him much worship at many tournaments and other feats of war.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Richard Beauchamp vs. a German Duke c. 1415

Here shows how a mighty duke challenged Earl Richard for his lady’s sake. And he jousting slew the duke. And then the Empress took the earl’s livery a bear from a knights shoulder, and for great love and favor she set it on her shoulder. Then Earl Richard made one of pearls and precious stones, and offered her that, and she gladly and lovingly received it.

Pageant of the Birth Life and Death of Richard Beauchamp Earl of Warwick K. G. 1389-1439, Dillon, Viscount, Ed. London 1914

Richard Beauchamp vs. Colard Fynes, 1413

And upon Sunday after my lord came into the field about nine of the clock armed bright with a round broad tuft of ostrich feathers spraynt with gold. And with a long tartaryn feather in the midst with a broad girdle of goldsmiths work round about his plates beneath to perform his arms in hosting harness as his letters containeth. A courser trapped with his arms of war to fore him on the which rode a butler. And behind him came three course trapped in the arms of his arms, according to the seals of his three arms to forsesaid. And the same trappers followed him each day of the three days only to the touching of the device. So that these arms were well and mercifully accomplished to the greatest worship of my lord both of the Frenchmen and also of all the soldier of these marches, that ever had man in Picardy, blessed be God of his grace. And sent to his fellow another courser, which knight is called the Chevalier Noir, to whom the right name is Monsieur Colarde de Fyennes, which is my lord’s cousin.

And by that these arms were thus done, my lord, sitting on horseback in the field armed, prayed all the Frenchmen to dine with him there right in the field. In which field was ordained a hall much and large in which was hanged the white bed with all these arms that the Frenchmen might well see that they were verily his arms of old ancestry. And the Frenchmen had a great feast of three courses two hundred messes large, and a thousand more persons that eaten in the field had meat enough and drink also right largely. So when the spices and wine were drunk, my lord gave Sir Gerard de Herbaurms, the first French knight an owche better than sixty pounds. To Sir Hugh Delawney an owche worth forty marks and to Sir Colarde de Fyennes, which is the cousin of the Earl St. Paul and to my lord also, a cup of gold worth sixty marks. And this done they departed. And the Frenchman held them passingly well apaid. And large gifts given to the French heralds and minstrels. And all this feast time lasting, the fairest weather that ever saw a Christian man. So that all manner of men in this march, thanked be God, given to my said lord the prize of all men that ever came there and saying plainly that God have showed passing great miracle in him. And thus on the Monday after he has come to Calayis with much worship where hath met him the Lieutenant of the town with all the garrison.

Landsdowne MS. No. 285 in Cripps-Day, F.H. The Tournament in France and England. London, 1918, Reprinted AMS Press, NY, 1982.

How on the morrow next following that was the last day of the jousts Earl Richard came in face open, his basinet as the day afore, save the chaplet was rich with pearl and precious stones. In gy ys arms and Beauchamp quarterly, and the arms also of Tony and Haunslap in his trappers. And said like as he had his own person performed the two days afore; so with Gods grace he would the third. Then ran he to the chevalier now Sir Collard Fines and every stroke he bear him backward to his horse back and then the Frenchman said he was bound the saddle. Wherefore he alighted there from his horse; and forthwith stepped up into his saddle again, and so with worship rode to his pavilion and sent to Sir Collard a good courser and faced all the people giving to the said three knights great rewards, and rode to Calais with great worship.

Pageant of the Birth Life and Death of Richard Beauchamp Earl of Warwick K. G. 1389-1439, Dillon, Viscount, Ed. London 1914

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Richard Beauchamp vs. Hugh Launey, 1413

Upon the morrow my lord came into the field to accomplish the second arms with sword after the intent of his letter armed in the goodliest wise, as said all the strangers, that ever was seen, with a French crest of ostrich feathers of gold compassed with a white chaplet above his basinet. And run together on horseback. So that my lord smote the knight that cleppid him in his letter; le Chevalier Blanc, to whom the right name is Monsieur Hugh de Lawney, that he recoiled him to his horses behind. And another stroke smote up his visor. And ever thanked be God had much the better by all men’s judgment. And so for his high worship fulfilled the points of his arms and ever his umberer down for he would not be known in the field. And at his departing out of the field my lord sent to his fellow a fair courser.

Landsdowne MS. No. 285 in Cripps-Day, F.H. The Tournament in France and England. London, 1918, Reprinted AMS Press, NY, 1982.

How Earl Richard the second day came into field, that is to say the morrow after the twelfth day his visor closed, a chaplet on his basinet, and a tuft of ostrich feathers aloft, his horse trapped with arms of Hamslape silver two bars of gules and there met with him the blanc knight, and they ran together, and the Earl smote up his visor thrice, and break his besagues and other harness, all his apparel saved, and so with the victory and himself unknown; rode to the pavilion again, and sent to this blanc knight Sir Hugh Lawney a good courser.

Pageant of the Birth Life and Death of Richard Beauchamp Earl of Warwick K. G. 1389-1439, Dillon, Viscount, Ed. London 1914

Richard Beauchamp vs. Gerard Herbaumes, 1413

The first French knight clepid him in his letters le Chevalier Rouge, to whom the right name, to whom the right name is Sir Gerard Herbaumes. A seemly man, and one of the best jousters of France accounted and is one of the fifteen Frenchmen that have now late challenged fifteen Englishmen to the outrance they bearing a plate of gold for their device till their arms be done. And this day of arms with my said lord set upon the twelfth day of Christmas last, upon the which day my Lord came into the field at twelve at the clock, the fairest armed man and surest that ever was seen before that time, with a basinet on his head and visor down, for he would not be known, with an uncouthly French chaplet wrought with diverse colors and feathers upon his basinet. A fine girdle of gold large about the nether border of his plates and his spear fifteen inches large about, which was right great wonder to all the Frenchmen that ever man might wield so great timber. And when my lord sent the two shields to his fellow to choose as the purport of his letter would, which shields were of leather not as thick as the thickness of six paper leaves. And so my said lord and the French knight ran together with his spears wonder knightly. And break their spears, and either pierced the others harness, but thanked be God at the third course my lord smote down the French knight at the spear point horse and man. And so when the arms of that day were done my lord sent to the French knight a fair courser to his tent.

Landsdowne MS. No. 285 in Cripps-Day, F.H. The Tournament in France and England. London, 1918, Reprinted AMS Press, NY, 1982.

Here shows how Earl Richard on the first day that was the Twelfth day of Christmas coming to the field his face covered, a bush of ostrich feathers on his head, his horse trapped with the arms of one of his ancestors the Lord Tony. And at the third course he cast to the ground at his spear point behind the horse tail, le Chevalier Rouge. And then the Earl with his closed visor returned unknown to his pavilion. And forthwith he sent to said knight a fair courser.

Pageant of the Birth Life and Death of Richard Beauchamp Earl of Warwick K. G. 1389-1439, Dillon, Viscount, Ed. London 1914

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Challenge of the Earl of Warwick 1412-1413

In as much as he was captain of Calais he hied him thither hastily, and was there worthily received. And when he heard that the gathering in France was not appointed to come to Calais, he cast in his mind to do some new point of chivalry. Whereupon he let paint three pavises, and in every pavise a lady: the first harping at end of a bedstead with a grater of gold on her left sleeve, and her knight called the Green Knight with a Black Quarter. And he should be ready to joust with any knight of France twelve courses and two shields should be of purveyance. And that knight's letter was sealed with the shield of his arms, the field silver, a maunch gules.

The second pavise had a lady sitting at a covered board working pearls, and on her sleeve was attached a glove of plate. And her knight was called Chevalier Vert. And his letter was sealed with the arms: the field silver and two bars of gules. And he must joust fifteen courses and that should be two saddles of choice.

The third pavise a lady sitting in a garden making a chaplet, and on her sleeve a poleyn with a rivet: her knight was called Chevalier Attendant. And he and his fellow must run ten courses with sharp spears and without shields. His letter was sealed with gold and gules quarterly a bordure of vair.

These letters were sent to the kings court of France. And a noon other three French knights received them and granted their fellows to meet at day and place assigned.

Here shows how as it is said before these letters were received. To the first applied himself a noble knight called Sir Gerard Herbawines, that called himself Sir Chevalier Rouge, to the second answered a famous knight, Sir Hugh Launey calling himself le Chevalier Blanc, and the third agreed, an excellent knight called Sir Colard Fynes, at a certain day and place assigned, that is to say the twelfth day of Christmas in a lawn called the park hedge of Guines.

Pageant of the Birth Life and Death of Richard Beauchamp Earl of Warwick K. G. 1389-1439, Dillon, Viscount, Ed. London 1914

First the said lord departed out of Calais to Guines by water the Tuesday after Christmas day for to take the air and disport of the country as he said. And all his armor and his harness for his arms was privily carried thither. And nearhand a fortnight before Christmas my lord let set up a pavilion within the park close of Guines and let hang there three tables of the devices depainted.

The first a lady standing and harping at a bed's feet with a grater of gold for a spear attached on her sleeve, and sent a herald into France, that what knight that was born a gentleman of name and arms without reproach within the realm of France that would touch that device, there should be a knight that clepith him le chevalier vert oue le quarter noire, that was born in England gentleman of name and arms without reproach, should deliver that French knight of twelve courses hit on horseback with spears of one length and shields of one making, of which shields the French knight should chose the better, and hereupon my lord sent letters ensealed with his arms that he beareth of silver with the maunchet of gules as they be embroidered in the said lord's white bed of bears.

Secondly, he let hang up in the same pavilion another table of his device portrayed, with a lady working pearls with a glove of plate of gold attached on her sleeve, and sent by the same herald into the realm of France, that what knight that was born gentleman of name and arms without reproach of the realm of France that would touch that device, he should find a knight of England born gentleman of name of arms without reproach, the which clepith him le Chevalier Gris, that should deliver the French knight of fifteen strokes with a sword hit, for which arms the English knight should ordain two saddles, and send the French knight the choice of both. And hereupon sent my lord his letters sealed with his arms of silver with two bars of gules as they had been well embroidered in the same white bed of bears.

The third my said lord let hang up in the same pavilion another table of his device with a lady depainted in a garden making a chaplet of roses, with a poleyne of gold in the same pavilion attached on the said ladys sleeve, and sent by the same herald that what knight of the realm of France that was born gentleman of name and arms without reproach that would touch the third device, he should find a knight of England gentleman born of name and arms without reproach that clepith him le Chevalier Attendant, that should deliver that French knight of ten courses hit with spears of one length in hosting harness without shields. And hereupon my lord sent his letters sealed with his arms quarterly gold and gules bordered red with silver and azure vaired as they been well embroidered in the same bed of bears. So when this herald was thus delivered these three letters of my lord's ensealed with diverse seals of his arms, and written of diverse hands, he rode into France and declared his messages among all the lords, knights and squires of honor that were that time come down into the marches of Picardy for the war, and upon showing of these letters wrote three knights again by letters ensealed with seals of their arms for to touch the three devices for the fulfilling of the points comprehended in the letters which the herald brought, weening the Frenchmen that it were three knights of England that had hung up the three devices.

Landsdowne MS. No. 285 in Cripps-Day, F.H. The Tournament in France and England. London, 1918, Reprinted AMS Press, NY, 1982.

While the Beauchamp Pageant was written decades after the deed of arms, the text in the Landsdowne MS seems to have been based on account written not long after the event. It refers to a recent challenge by Sir Gerard Herbaumes as though he were still alive, and Sir Gerard died at Agincourt.

How Did They Pronounce Chirurgeon in the Middle Ages?

The OED has an excellent discussion under Chirurgeon and Surgeon. The earliest variant given for chirurgeon is cirurgian in 1297. Apparently at some point in or after the Renaissance they got the bright idea that they were supposed to start the word with "ch", with 1535 the earliest citation in the OED. Still later they decided to pronounce the "ch" after the Greek. But they both go back to the Old French cirurgien/serurgien. And starting with an "s" goes back to the early 14th. c..

Different MS. of Chaucer's Melibeus give as indifferent spellings of the same word: sirurgien/surgien/surgeen/surgeane. So they're swallowing the second syllable quite early.

And when it is spelled with a "cir" it must pronounced as in circle, otherwise the alternate spellings don't make sense. Now, very late in the Middle Ages, you do see "ch" as an alternative beginning. But it's a soft "ch", not a hard one. (Remember, this is coming out of French, so think of champagne)

The medieval pronunciation seems to have been more like Sir Urchin. Or, more precisely, sir-ur-jyen. By the fourteenth century it seems to have been fairly common to pronounce it surgeon. The radical change in pronunciation seems to have happened after, and probably because, the various variants of the spelling cirurgien had fallen out of ordinary use.

I suppose a similar process would happen if people stopped using Worcestershire sauce, and the term only survived in historical novels. 23rd century reenactors would probably insist on pronouncing every syllable, and using a hard "c" on the basis of original word roots.

Assuming Arms in England before 1417

Writs sent by Henry V to the sheriff of Hampshire (and similarly to Sussex, Dorset and Wiltshire) on June 2, 1417.

Close Rolls, 5 Henry V, m. 15 in dorso:

To the sheriff of Suthampton. Order to cause proclamation to be made in singular at the places within his bailiwick where the king has commanded proclamation of musters to be made, that no man of whatsoever estate, degree or condition shall assume arms or coats (tunicas) of arms called 'cotearmures' unless he possess or ought to possess the same in right of an ancestor or by gift of one having sufficient power, and that on the day of his muster he shall show clearly to persons now or hereafter appointed by the king by whose gift he has the same under pain of not being admitted to sail upon the present expedition under the number of him by whom he is retained, of losing his wages, and of the defacing and breaking of such arms and 'cotearmures' at the time of the muster if displayed or found upon him, except the men who with the king bore arms at the battle of Agincourt (exceptis illis quis nobiscum apud bellum de Agincourt arma portabant); as the king has information that divers men who heretofore in his expeditions have assumed arms and 'cotearmures,' when neither they nor their ancestors used them in times past, and are purposing to wear the same upon this expedition; and although the Almighty dispenses his grace as he will upon rich and poor, nevertheless the king's will is that of his lieges every man shall be entreated as his estate demands. By K.

Like writs to the sheriffs in the following counties:
Wiltshire. Dorset. Sussex.

Prior to that date, many people assumed arms, as the writ itself testified. Formal grant by competent authority did happen, but records of such grants are rare. For those who had not inherited arms, the most common method was probably the bearer simply choosing arms that pleased him. Thus Scrope, Grosvenor and Carminow ended up with the same arms, and wore them for generations before anyone noticed a conflict.

Note that the 1417 writ only applied to those gentlemen that appeared at muster. The formal process of Heralds Visitations didn't start until 1530.

The pre-1417 theory of arms (as expressed by Christine de Pisan) is as follows.

1) If you are born to, or rise through your own virtue to, sufficiently high estate, you may assume whatever arms please you, subject to certain limitations.

a) You mustn't choose arms that are already being legitimately used by someone else in the same country. After the Scrope-Grosvenor case in 1390, England also accepted the principle that the bearer of arms may also prevent others unrelated in blood from bearing arms that are too similar. Nor may you assume arms that legitimately pertain to some town or office. Because there was no comprehensive heraldic database, conflicts might occur by accident. Erasing the conflict required a potentially expensive lawsuit to determine who had priority, so some conflicts were tolerated after discovery.

b) You can freely assume arms legitimately held by someone in another country, as long as no fraud or deception was involved. If an English man at arms who was a pillager and vagabond assumed the arms of some French gentleman so that he could rob and pillage in France or Flanders while hoping the blame would fall on the Frenchman, he would deserve to be hung for his crimes.

Now, the practical question arises, what is sufficiently high estate, and what happens if someone of low estate thinks he is more gentle than he actually is?

There doesn't seem to be formal legal recourse in pre-1417 England for a gentleman to deal with an upstart commoner who assumes non-conflicting arms. However, depending on their relative status, there may be a lot a high status gentleman can do to informally make life difficult for an social interloper.

Consider the poor man-at-arms of humble birth. If he serves in a retinue, his captain has a lot of scope to make him regret presumptuous behavior. Likewise, in peace his landlord or justice of the peace can do so, if he disapproves.

Conversely, if the commoner is wealthy enough to have independent means, or if his gentle companions at arms decide to support and affirm, or at least acquiesce to, his claims because of their shared camaraderie, it becomes a lot easier to assume arms and make it stick.

Where are the Laurel Kingdoms Anyway?

I'm glad you asked that question. They are (or were), of course, off the south coast of Cornwall, and may or may not be identical with the land of Lyonesse, located in the same vicinity, and attested in several sober medieval chronicles, in spite of what modern maps will tell you. It is theorized that, like Lyonesse (if in fact the two were not identical) they sank into the sea in 1601, thus opening the way for The Age of Exploration. Little else is known for certainty of its geography, except that it extended to latitudes where rattan flourished. And that parts of it were bloody hot in the summer.

Its proximity to Europe is testified to by its typical European social institutions, with Kings, Dukes, Baronies, Shires, the Order of Knighthood, etc. It is supposed that it was populated entirely by people lost on their way to someplace else, which explains the genetic inability of its inhabitants to write decent event directions. That would also explain two missing features of this otherwise rich culture: the almost complete absence of both the Christian church and the lower classes. It is likely that all the priests and the servants were on another, different ship that reached its intended destination safely.

There is further evidence that it is, or was, located in the vicinity of the British Isles: the unusually high proportion of Celts with unpronounceable names in the population (explained by the obvious closeness to Celtic territories) and the language. In spite of national origin, most inhabitants spoke English, whether they themselves were French, German, or Berber. Presumably, a boatload of English got to the place first, voted in English as the Official Language, and enforced it on everyone that showed up later.

The fact that most of the inhabitants were not native speakers of English, has, however, left its mark on the tongue of the Laurel Kingdoms. Loan words and usages unknown to medieval English crept into the dialect: "dragon" instead of "car", "small" instead of "child" "feastocrat" instead of "head cook". Not to mention a tendency to pronounce chirurgeon as "ki-rur-ge-on" rather than the more typical medieval pronunciation as "surgeon"

There are two theories about relations between the Laurel Kingdoms and the Far East. Some maintain that in fact, significant numbers of Japanese, almost all of them Samurai Warriors and Ninjas, visited the place en route to Europe before 1601. (According to the theory this is not inconsistent with the fact that documented Japanese visitors to pre-17th c. Europe were somewhat less common than Anti-Popes, since only the small number of Japanese that failed to bump into the Laurel Kingdoms got through to Europe proper.)

The alternative theory is that Sir Francis Drake picked up a shipload of surplus kabutos, do-marus, katanas, and ninja stalking suits in an otherwise undocumented visit to Japan, and visited the Laurel Kingdoms on his way home to Kent. Proponents of this theory point to the otherwise improbable number of blond, blue-eyed people wearing this equipment, and suggest persuasively that If That Was a Real Ninja You Wouldn't See Him Now, Would You?

"lengthen his plates"

The phrase occurs in the seneschal of Hainault's challenge of 1402. What does it mean?

My theory is that it refers to the sort of groin protection that was not uncommon from 1370 to 1430, and illustrated here. As the illustration shows, it's possible to ride while wearing this sort of protection. However, experiment with modern reproductions of this kind of armor indicates that it's also somewhat awkward, since the groin protection needs to be folded upwards. The protection of the saddle made this type of protection superfluous for mounted combat, and it was made detachable on some if not all harnesses that had it. The effigy of Alexander Stewart , d. ca. 1406, clearly shows the groin protection attached by straps and buckles. Lengthening the plates, then, could plausibly refer to jousting without the plate groin extension but attaching it for the foot combat.

Basinet visors ca. 1400 came in two different forms. On some the left side of the visor, which would be a target for the lance when mounted men-at-arms passed shield to shield, was not pierced with breathing holes. On others holes pierce both sides of the snout. The second style offered better ventilation and vision for foot combat, which put more demands on both. Also, the more frontal foot combat gave less advantage from leaving one side of the visor snout unpierced. From a safety point of view it made sense to prefer one for the joust and the other for combat on foot, so the seneschal allowed a different visor to be used for the combat on foot.

On the whole, the idea seems to have been to encourage protective equipment that wasn't too thoroughly optimized as either specialized jousting equipment or specialized foot harness, but with some minor concessions to greater safety in each role. However, since the axe was a more dangerous weapon than sword or dagger, the seneschal made no restrictions on the sort of armor worn while fighting against it.

Mergers and Acquisitions, October 1307

TemplarCo, Ltd., was the subject of a hostile takover by Oriflamme, Inc., reported sources close to Oriflamme management. They noted that cash-rich TemplarCo became an attractive takeover target after losing its focus on the core mission statement of "slaughtering lots and lots of paynims" and following unwise diversification into demon-worship and ritual sodomy. It was suggested that TemplarCo could again become a viable enterprise after liquidating non-performing assets such as top managament.

Reports of "golden parachutes" for TemplarCo management were clarified when Philip of France, Oriflamme's CEO, explained that they would be "just like lead parachutes, only yellow and shiny. Those guys are going to go down fast and hit the ground hard". The takeover deal is supposed to include a stake in Oriflamme, Inc. for TemplarCo shareholders "probably on the banks of the Seine, and heaped high with faggots."

Outgoing TemplarCo CEO Jacques de Molay said, in a brief statement for public release: "AAAAAAAAAARGGGGGH. NONONONONONO. AAAAAAAARGHHHHHH. NOT THE TONGS! NOT THE TONGS! AAAAAARGH."

Mergers and acquisition specialists predicted increasing use of the "poison pill" takeover defense, noting "if de Molay had had a poison pill handy, it would've been a lot harder to torture a false confession out of the poor sod."

From its beginnings as a small limited stock company on the banks of the Elbe, Oriflamme, Inc, has grown rapidly to its present commanding position, mostly by acquisition.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Chaucer's Ransom

The excellent Geoffrey Chaucer Website has an interesting record of payments made to ransom young Geoffrey Chaucer, then a valettus or yeoman, and various others.

The king paid to ransom not only one of his squires and various valetti (£8-16), but also humbler sorts like eight carters (£12 total), two poultry purveyors (£10 the pair), and an archer (40s)

These ransoms seem to have ranged between three years and half a years income for the individual ransom. The king paid a higher ransom for one of his squires than for a knight, perhaps because the knight was expected to pay part of the ransom himself.

There's a lot of good material on the site: other contemporary authors, Chaucer's sources, life and manners, science and courtly love.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Richard Beauchamp vs. Pandolfo Malatesta 1408 his departing from France into short space after came another herald to Earl Richard, sent from Sir Pandolf Malatete or Malet with letters of challenge, to do certain points of arms with him at Verona at a certain day assigned for the order of the Garter. To the which challenge to be done before Sir Galeot of Mantua. And after he had done his pilgrimage at Rome, he returned to Verona, where he and his challenger Sir Pandolf should first joust, then go together with axes, after with arming swords and last with sharp daggers.

How at place and day assigned, resorting thither all the country, Sir Pandolf entered the place, nine spears before him. Then, the act of spears to the earl Richard worshipfully finished, after went they together with axes, and if the lord Galeot had not the sooner cried peace, Sir Pandolf, sore wounded on the left shoulder, had been utterly slain in the field.

Pageant of the Birth Life and Death of Richard Beauchamp Earl of Warwick K. G. 1389-1439, Dillon, Viscount, Ed. London 1914

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Ordinance and Form of Fighting Within Lists (before 1397)

Written by Thomas, Duke of Gloucester for Richard II, to regulate gages of battle or Judicial duels, much of the content is peculiar to that sort of contest. The excerpts below, however, are all mirrored in non-judicial deeds of arms. Chaucer mention the herald’s cry to “do your devoir” in the fictional tournament in his “Knight’s Tale” and both “lystis duplicatus” and “hirdles pro scaffoldes” were in storage when he took over the job of Clerk of the King’s Works in 1389, a job that included setting up the list field for the Smithfield jousts of 1390. The other ceremonies described below are all recognizable in Oliver de la Marche’s account of the deed of arms held between Lord Scales and the Bastard of Burgundy at Smithfield in 1467. At that combat six men at arms were assigned to guard the fight within the lists; this seems to have been at similar number to the number of guards at other single combats on the continent around this time, which might have up to ten. If a group combat was contemplated, the number of guards within the lists would be proportionately greater. The full text, including those sections pertaining to judicial combat only, is published here

The king shall find the field to fight in. And the lists shall be made and devised by the constable. And it is to be considered that the lists shall be sixty paces of length and forty paces of breadth in good manner, and firm, stable, and hard, and evenly made without great stones, and that the earth shall be flat. And that the lists be strongly barred round about and a gate in the east and another in the west with good and strong barriers of seven foot of height or more.. And it is to wit that there should be false lists without the principal lists between which the men of the constable and the marshal and sergeants of arms should be for to keep and defend if any would make any offense or affray against the cries made.... .and these men should be armed at all points
The day of the battle the king shall be in a siege or in a scaffold and a place shall be made for the constable and marshal at the stair foot of the said scaffold where they shall be..

The appellant shall come to the east gate of the lists in such manner as he will fight, with his arms and weapons assigned to him by the court, and there he shall abide till he be led in by the constable and the marshal. And the constable shall ask him what man he is which is come armed to the gate of the lists and what name he has and for what cause he is come. The appellant shall answer: "I am such a man -- A. de K. -- the appellant, which is come this journey, etc, to do, etc.".....

Then shall he open the gates of the lists and make him enter ... and also his council with him; he shall lead him before the king and then to his tent, where he shall abide till the defendant be come.

In the same manner shall be done for the defendant, but that he shall enter in at the west gate of the lists....

And then the constable shall command the marshal for to cry at the four corners of the lists in manner as follows: "Oyez, Oyez, Oyez. We charge and command by the king's constable and marshal that none of great value and of little estate, of what condition or nation that he be, be so hardy henceforward to come nigh the lists by four feet or to speak or to cry or to make countenance or token or semblance or noise whereby neither of these two parties A. de K., appellor, and C. de B., defender, may take advantage the one upon the other, upon peril of losing life and limb and their goods at the king's will."

And afterward the constable and the marshal shall void all manner of people out of the lists except their lieutenants and two knights for the constable and marshal which shall be armed upon their bodies, but they shall have neither knife nor sword upon them nor any other weapon whereby the appellant or the defendant may have advantage because of negligence in keeping them. But the two lieutenants shall have in their hands either one a spear without iron to separate them if the king will make them leave off in their fighting, whether it be to rest them or other thing whatsoever pleases him.

The constable sitting in his place before the king as his vicar general, and the parties made ready to fight as is said by the commandment of the king, the constable shall say with loud voice as follows: "Lessiez les aler"; (that is to say, "Let them go”) and rest a while; "Lessiez les aler," and rest another while; "Lessiez les aler et fair leur devoir de par dieu"; (that it is to say, "Let them go and do their duty in God's name.") And this said, each man shall depart from both parties, so that they may encounter and do that which seems best to them.

And if it happen that the king would take the quarrel in his hands and make them agree without more fighting, then the constable, taking the one party, and the marshal, the other, shall lead them before the king, and he showing them his will, the said constable and marshal shall lead them to the one part of the lists with all their points and armor as they are found and having when the king took the quarrel in his hands as is said. And so they shall be led out of the gate of the lists evenly, so that the one go not before the other by no way in any thing; for since he hath taken the quarrel in his hands, it should be dishonest that either of the parties should have more dishonor than the other. Wherefore it has been said by many ancient men that he that goeth first out of the lists hath the disworship...

Dillon, "On a MS Collection of Ordinances of Chivalry of the Fifteenth Century, Belonging to Lord Hastings," Archaeologia, LVII (1902), 62-66.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Galiot de Baltasin and Phillipe de Ternant Fight with Lances on Foot, 1446

At three o’clock, the lord de Ternant left his pavilion, his coat of arms on his back, a bassinet on his head with the visor closed. And he made a great cross with his right hand, and the Count of Saint Pol gave him his lance, which he took in both hands. He held the butt in his right palm and held the lance at the balance point with his left hand, and held it more straight than couched, and marched coolly with heavy and assured steps, and he certainly seemed like a knight that would be difficult to encounter.

On the other side Galiot de Baltasin left his tent, dressed in his coat of arms with a bassinet on his head and a closed visor. After he made a sign with his bannerole the Count of Estempes gave him his lance, which he took and carried in the ordinary fashion in which one carries a lance to push.

The squire made a fine appearance, and as soon as he gripped the lance he began to shake it and handle it as though it was nothing more than an arrow. He made one or two leaps in the air, quickly and lightly, so that one could see that the harness and clothing did not hinder him at all, and on his side he came most vigorously to the encounter.

And they came to meet each other with a push of the lance, so harshly that the stroke from Galiot broke the point of his lance, a good half finger width, and lord de Ternant hit Galiot on the edge of his bassinet, and broke clear through it. The lord de Ternant took a step in completing the blow, and as he gave the blow he drove his foot nearly a foot deep into the sand. When the blow was struck the guards put themselves between them to prevent them from following up, and the kings of arms came, carrying cords marking with the seven paces they should move back to give each push of the lance, as was declared in the chapters as I wrote earlier, and each one marked with knots. Afterwards I asked the officers of arms how the paces were measured. They answered that each pace was taken as two and a half feet, by the measure of the hand of a knight, or at least a gentleman, and that they are measured by the marshal of the lists as required. And so they measured the seven paces on each side, and they moved back according to the measure, and they took new lances, at the choosing of Galiot. They advanced a second time, and both of them hit hard. And they went a third time, and met so hard that the lord de Ternant broke and damaged the point of his lance, and Galiot his at the middle of the haft. And to shorten the tale of these arms, they accomplished the seven pushes of the lance ordained by the chapters, and accomplished them most chivalrously.

Oliver de la Marche, Memories Paris 1884 II. 70-72

Translation copyright 2006 Will McLean

How Jean de Verchin, seneschal of Hainault, sent his letters to diverse countries to do arms, 1402

At the beginning of this year Jean de Verchin, a knight of great renown and seneschal of Hainault, sent by one of his heralds many letters to knights and squires in diverse countries to provide for certain deeds of arms that he undertook to do. These letters were of the following import:

“To all knights, squires and gentlemen of name and arms without reproach, I Jean de Verchin, seneschal of Hainault, make known to all that, with the aid of God, Our Lady, my lord Saint George and my lady, I will be, on the first Sunday of this coming August, unless prevented by legitimate unforeseen difficulty, at Coucy to do arms as afterwards described before my redoubted lord, my lord the duke of Orleans who has agreed to provide a place for it.

If there is any gentleman, as described above, who will agree to my enterprise:

First, we will be mounted on horseback in a war saddle without trickery, and we will armor our bodies as it pleases us, and will have targes without covering or reinforcement of steel or iron, and we each will have a lance of war without graper or rondel, and a sword. We will come together one time with the lances, and whether or not we hit with the lances we will put aside the shield and draw our sword without assistance. We will then strike twenty strokes without intermission (reprinse).

And I, to give honor to the company and for the pleasure the gentleman has given me in the fulfillment of my said enterprise, I will swiftly deliver him of arms on foot unless prevented by bodily injury. Neither of us may add or remove pieces of the harness we wore for swords on horseback, except that either of us may change his visor and lengthen his plates (ralonger ses plates) if he wishes. The number of sword strokes shall be as he wishes to devise, and likewise for daggers, when he agrees to accomplish my enterprise, provided that the number of strokes that are provided for the day, and the number of intermissions (reprinses), and the number of strokes with axe shall be as I devise. But for the axes each may arm himself as he wishes.

And should it happen, an adventure that I do not desire, that one or the other of us is wounded so that the day’s arms cannot be completed as we have undertaken to complete them, then the other will not in any way require them to be completed, and consider themselves acquitted of them.

And when I have accomplished what is described above and the day is past, I with the aid of God, Our Lady, my lord Saint George and my lady will leave that town, unless prevented by bodily injury, to go to Santiago in Galicia. And all the gentlemen of the condition described above who find me on my outward journey or returning to the said town of Coucy if they wish may do me the honor and grace of delivering me of similar arms on horseback to those devised above. And they are to provide me a reasonable judge, without requiring that I depart more than twenty leagues from my path, nor go backwards in my journey. And they are to affirm that the pleasure of the judge will be such that the said arms will be begun within five days of my arrival in the town where the arms are to be done.

And I, with the aid of God, Our Lady, my lord Saint George and my lady, unless prevented by true bodily injury, once my enterprise is accomplished will quickly deliver him on foot in the manner devised above of such a number of strokes with sword axe and dagger as he would have me devise at the beginning of the accomplishment of my said enterprise.

And if it happens that a gentleman and I make an agreement to do the said arms, and he has given me a judge as previously devised, and while going forward to that judge another is found who wishes to do arms similarly and gives me a judge closer than the first, I will always go first to deliver the one who gives me the closest judge, and once I have requited him I will return to the other to provide what we had earlier agree upon, unless I am prevented by bodily injury. And no gentleman may demand more than one deed of arms with me during my travel. And we will have weapons of equal length to do the said deed of arms, and I will give the length upon request. And all the blows of the deed of arms will be struck from the bottom of the plates upwards.

And so that all gentleman who might wish to deliver me may know my itenary, I have the intention, if it please God, to pass from the realm of France to Bordeaux, and then to the territory of the Count of Foix, to the realm of Castile and then to Santiago. And on the return, if it please God, I will return through Portugal, the realm of Valencia, Catalonia, Avignon and then return through the realm of France, provided that I can pass through the said countries safely and without hindrance while carrying out my enterprise, excepting the realm of France and the territory of Hainault.

And to confirm the truth of this enterprise I have put the seal of my arms upon these present letters to accomplish what is written above and signed them by my hand. This was done in the year of the Incarnation of Our Lord 1402, the first day of the month of July.”

The aforesaid seneschal went to Coucy to provide and accomplish his enterprise according to the content of the above letter and there he was very joyously received by the Duke of Orleans. But on the appointed day no man appeared to do arms with him. And so he left to go on his voyage to Santiago a few days later as he had promised. During his voyage he did arms in seven places and by seven combats before his return. Each time he carried himself so valiantly and honorably that all of the princes who were judges of those arms were content with his person.

From: Monstrelet, Enguerrand de, (La) Chronique d'Enguerran de Monstrelet. Paris 1857, Vol. I Chapter viii p. 39-43
Translation copyright 2006 Will Mclean

John of Cornwall vs. the Seneschal of Hainault 1409

The other field was prepared for the seneschal of Hainault to meet with sir John of Cornwall, an English knight of great renown who was married to the sister of the king of England. The two knights had undertaken to do their arms before the duke of Burgundy, only to show their prowess: to run certain lance-strokes against each and also to do some strokes with axe and sword. But when the duke of Burgundy had prepared the field where they were to accomplish it, the two champions were required to go to Paris to perform their enterprise before the king. And there, after the ordinances were done and the day had come, Cornwall entered the field with great pomp, riding on his destrier until he came right before the king where he bowed and saluted him most humbly. And after him came six little pages on destriers, the first two covered with ermine and the following four covered with cloth of gold, and after they had entered the lists the pages left the field.

And afterwards came the seneschal, accompanied by the brothers Duke Anthoine de Brabant and Philip, count of Nevers on foot each holding the bridle of his horse, one an the right and the other on the left. And the count of Clermont carried his axe, and the count of Penthievre his lance.

And after he had entered the field and done his reverence to the king in the same way as Cornwall they both prepared to joust together with sharp lances. But before they began their run it was cried by the king that they should cease and go no further in doing their arms and that none in the realm, under penalty of death, should challenge another in the field without reasonable cause.

And after the king had grandly feasted and honored the two knights in his court they both departed, and it was said in England that they did so with the intent of performing and accomplishing their arms.

From: Monstrelet, Enguerrand de, (La) Chronique d’Enguerran de Monstrelet. Paris 1858, Vol. 2 p. 5-6

Sunday, July 09, 2006

D’Ollumen vs. de la Haye 1415

…in the same place of Sainthouyne, in the month of February a Portuguese named Diego d’Ollumen did arms, meeting with a Breton named Guillame de la Haye. Their arms were done before the Duke of Guienne; the Portuguese and Breton were taken* as they were fighting without either one of them being defeated (sans oultrance de l’un ne de l’autre)

*i.e., separated by the guards and prevented from fighting further

Jean le Fevre, Seigneur de Saint-Remy Chronique Paris 1876 I. 211
Translation copyright 2006 Will Mclean

These English that were in Paris had with them Portuguese, who had a great willingness to do arms for the love of their ladies. There was also the unspoken issue of the principal quarrel between France and England, as they were allied with the English. There was an engagement between one of the Portuguese and a gentleman of Brittany named Guillaume de la Haye. On the chosen day the parties came together in the field in the presence of the king and the lords of both France and England, and the Portuguese was accompanied by the English. Guillaume de la Haye was advised to do nothing but defend himself. And the arms of the Portuguese were entirely red.

Now the parties came into the field well dressed and armed, with trumpets and minstrels, and each one had a chair. After the herald had cried “Do your duty!” (Faites devoir) they rose, and came against each other, each equipped with lance, axe, sword and dagger. When they neared each other they threw their lances, neither of which hit, and took up their axes.

And the Portuguese came very boldly and joyously, seeking to strike his adversary. But he always put aside his blows, without doing anything else. The fight continued for some time, but he still remained on the defensive as he had been advised. Often the Portuguese lifted his visor, and made signs to the other that he should do likewise. When the fight had continued for some time in this way the Portuguese lifted his visor and Guillaume de la Haye, without lifting his, sought to present the point of his axe to his face. The Portuguese began at once to retreat, but when they saw how it was going they cried “Ho, ho, ho” and went diligently to take them. They say that the Portuguese was very short of breath, and that if de la Haye had wanted to come a little closer he could have thrown him to earth in wrestling, as he was one of the best wrestlers you could find. Then both of them were given honor and good cheer.

Jean Juvenal des Ursins Histoire de Charles VI, Roy de France in Nouvelle Collection des Memoires pour Servir a l’Histoire de France Paris 1836 Vol. 2 p. 503

Translation copyright 2006 Will McLean