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professing the gay science, that is, the art of versification. And, as the superstition of our devout knights was only one step from irreligion, so was their fanaticism in love very closely allied to the most gross and unbridled libertinism. Never was there greater corruption of manners than in the times of chivalry-never was the empire of debauchery more universal. There were whole streets and quarters in every city set apart for the indulgence of voluptuousness; and St. Louis discovered a brothel close to his own tent in the most holy of the crusades, &c."
But enough of the manners of those good old times ; they were not of a nature to be closely scrutinized; and SaintePalaye very judiciously observės, that their ignorance was not a better security against vice, than the excessive civilization of our own.
As the knights were much addicted to rambling about the country, it was of consequence that they should have some places of resort; and, feeling this, a great number of lords and gentlemen were accustomed to suspend antique helmets upon the gates of their castles, to serve the knights who might wander that way, as beacons of hospitality. But before describing the nature of this hospitality, it may be proper to sketch a short outline of the knight, with his travelling pomp and retinue.
“ When the knight mounted his horse, the squires of the body held his stirrup; and other squires carried the various pieces of his armour, such as the brassards, the gauntlets, the helmet, and the buckler, on the road. With regard to the cuirass, called also hauberk or plastron, the knight was no less careful of its preservation, than the Greek and Roman soldiers were of their bucklers. Other squires bore the pennon, the lance, and the sword. While merely on a journey, he used a short-tailed, ambling-paced horse-a palfry or courser; and the war horses were led by the squires, who, always keeping them on their right hand, they were called dextriers. The warhorse was delivered to the knight on the appearance of an enemy, or when he was about entering the field of battle : this was what they called mounting the great horse. When travelling, the squire carried his master's helmet resting upon the pummel of his saddle; but when preparing for fight,” this helmet, and all the other parts of his arms offensive and defensive, were given him by the different squires who had them in their keeping, all evincing equal eagerness in assisting him to arm. By this means they were taught the art of arming themselves on a future day, with the dispatch and caution necessary for the protection of their persons. And, in fact, it was an art which demanded much skill and ability, to place together and fasten the joints of the cuirass, and the other pieces of armour; to fit and lace the helmet upon the head with exactness; and to nail and rivet carefully the visor or ventail."
But this nailing and lacing did not, of course, take place VOL. VIII. PART II..
when they were about entering hospitable castles; yet it did not unfrequently on their leaving them. For, as it was customary for rich widows and heiresses to entrust the government of their lands and castles to some celebrated knights, whom they frequently rewarded with their hand, it was common to see these redoubted champions rush from the festive board, to the performance of some of their wildest exploits.
" While they remained in these castles, however, the whole expense of maintaining both them and their retinue devolved upon their host, who likewise loaded them with presents at their departure. These consisted of arms, precious robes, horses, and even of money; and the greatest lords accepted these gifts without the least scruple.”
The journeyings, fastings, and feastings of the knights terminated more frequently in a tournament than in a battle; and as they could display their splendour and agility with less risk and equal honour in the former, we may be pretty sure the tourney was generally preferred. . There was, indeed, another most weighty reason for this preference : the ladies, notwithstanding their warlike propensities, did not think fit to honour real batiles with their presence; but, to the tournaments
“in crowds they ran, Some to undo, &c." This was enough. Tourneys were multiplied like locust-clouds in the desert, after a mild winter; and it was in vain that the popes fulminated their anathemas against them. In these, chivalry exhausted its magnificence and enthusiasm. Nothing, in the imagination of the times, could surpass the splendour of a tournament; the wealth of individuals and nations was drained to furnish out these expensive shows; which, although more noble, were little less inhuman than the Roman amusements of the amphitheatre. But let Sainte-Palaye describe them.
" When knights were created in time of peace, they generally gave a tournament, and it is easy to imagine what emotion the proclamation of these solemn spectacles gave rise to in every breast, being announced a long time before they took place throughout every canton, court, and province; and always in the most pompous language, they animated the knights and squires resident to institute others, in which they prepared themselves, by every kind of exercise, to appear upon a more splendid scene. Thus the gentlemen, far from remaining idle in their castles, practised the same exercise together daily, in order to obtain the flattering rewards which were always proposed in these private tourneys, looking to triumph one day in those solemn spectacles, in which the flower of all the courts of Europe would be spectators. While the places in which the tournaments
were to be held were preparing, they exhibited along the cloisters of the neighbouring monasteries, the armorial bucklers of those who were to enter the lists, and they remained there many days exposed to the curiosity and examination of the lords, ladies, and damsels. A herald, or pursuivant at arms, named to the ladies the owners of the bucklers; and if, amongst the candidates, any one were found who had given a lady just cause of complaint, she touched his helmet or buckler, to point him out to the judges of the tournament, that is, to demand justice on him. The latter, after having made the necessary inquiries, were to pronounce judgement; and when the crime was judicially proved, punishment followed immediately. And if, in spite of the ordinance which in such cases excluded him, the knight presented himself at the tournament, a shower of blows from all the knights present, and perhaps from the ladies themselves, punished him for his temerity, and taught him to respect the honour of women and the laws of chivalry. The mercy of the dames, which he was to claim with a loud voice, was alone capable of placing him beyond the resentment of the knights.”
“ I will not give a description of the lists for the tournament, or of the tents and superb pavilions with which the whole country round was covered, or of the scaffolding erected round that course in which so many brave and noble personages were to distinguish themselves. I will not specify the various kinds of combats,-the Joust, the Castile, the Passage of Arms, and the Melée,- it will be sufficient to observe, that these scaffoldings, generally constructed in the form of towers, were divided into a kind of stair-cases and lodges, decorated with all possible magnificence of rich carpetings, pavilions, banners, streamers, and cushions. In these were placed the kings, queens, princes, and princesses, with their courts, ladies, and damsels, and, lastly, those ancient knights, whom long experience in the management of arms had rendered competent judges. These respectable old men, whose great age no longer permitted them to distinguish themselves, were touched with tenderness by the sight of the gallant youths before them, and saw the regeneration of their antiquated valour in their brave deeds."
“ The richness of the dresses and jewels contributed likewise to increase the brilliancy of the spectacle. Judges named for the occasion, field marshals, and counsellors, had places assigned them in various parts of the course, who might maintain, by their authority, the laws of tournaments and chivalry in the field of battle, as well as afford their advice or assistance to such as stood in need of either. A number of kings' heralds, and pursuivants at arms, who were scattered about amongst the crowd, had their eyes fixed upon the combatants, in order to give a faithful report of the blows given and received."
"A crowd of minstrels, likewise, with all kinds of instruments of warlike music, were always in readiness to celebrate those who distinguished themselves; and active varlets were ordered to keep moving about on all sides, to furnish the warriors with arms, and to maintain silence and respect in the populace.”
“The sound of trumpets announced the arrival of the knights, superbly armed and equipped, and followed by their squires on horseback: they advanced with a slow step, and a grave, majestic countenance. Ladies and damoisels sometimes led these proud slaves into the ranks, bound together with chains, and did not set them free till, having entered the place enclosed for combat, they were ready to rush upon their antagonist. The title of slave or servitor of a lady, whom each knight named aloud on entering the tourney, was a title of honour not to be acquired but by noble exploits, and was regarded by him who bore it as a certain gage of victory. In a ballad, composed for the tourney held at St. Denys, under Charles VI., in the beginning of May, 1389, the poet thus addresses the knights :
“ Servants of love! 0, softly view
In yonder towers those angels bright;
And loved and cherished be this night.” “ To this title, the ladies commonly condescended to add what they termed a favour, or ensign: this was a scarf, hood, veil, sleeve, mantle, bracelet, or buckle-something, in short, taken from their dress or ornaments. The favoured knight ornamented the sumnit of his helmet, or point of his lance, or his buckler, or coat of arms, with this ensign. By the fortune of arms, these precious favours often passed into the power of an enemy; and in such case, the lady sent others to her knight, to console him for his loss, to excite him to vengeance, and to carry off in turn the favours with which his enemies were adorned. These it was his duty to lay at her feet. When a knight had inadvertently violated the laws of battle, and drawn the arms of many adversaries upon him, the ladies' champion, armed with a long pike or lance, surmounted by a hood, advanced, and had no sooner lowered it over his head, in token of the clemency and safeguard of the dames, than no one was permitted to touch the delinquent. It was also considered but right, that the dames, who were the very soul of these combats, should be celebrated in a particular manner, and therefore the tournament was concluded with a joust, which was called the ladies' lance. In this joust, the knights piqued themselves upon displaying their utmost courage and skill.”
The tournament being ended, the prize was adjudged ; and the lady, chosen by the officers at arms to bear it to the victor, was compelled to allow him a kiss. This was the height of his triumph. From the field of glory he was then conducted to a palace, clothed in magnificent robes, seated in the most honourable place at table, and waited on by the ladies themselves. “In the midst of all this glory," says Sainte-Palaye, “ he often stood in need of being reminded that he was but man."
A word or two of their manner of conducting themselves in real warfare, and we come to the closing scene.
“ When the knights were mounted upon their war horses, and had come to blows, the squires ranged themselves behind their masters, to whom they had delivered their swords, and remained almost idle spectators of the battle. And this usage might easily be preserved, from the manner in which the cavalry was ranged, in one long line, resembling a hedge, according to the expression of the times, backed by another line of squires. Though not engaged in offensive war, the squires were, however, employed in the preservation of their masters. In the terrible shock of the two adverse lines of knights, rushing upon each other with their couched lances, numbers were overthrown and wounded; and these, raising themselves up, snatched their swords, battle-axes, or clubs, to defend or avenge themselves; while others endeavoured to seize every possible advantage over their fallen enemies. On these occasions, the squires were attentive to the movements of their masters—furnishing them with new arms, warding off the blows which might be aimed at them, or bringing fresh horses for renewed combat. To the squires, likewise, the knights confided whatever prisoners they made in the field.”
From the field of battle the natural transition is to the tomb: and here we cannot forbear remarking, that SaintePalaye seems somewhat out of humour with his subject, as he draws near this cold closing scene of chivalric glory. He does not indulge us with a sufficiently minute detail of the pomp attendant on the knight's passage to his “ narrow bed, but ungenerously becoming brief at once, refers the reader for further particulars to the monk of St. Denys.
“We have taken the knight nearly at his coming out of the cradle; we have followed him through all the adventures of his lifeit remains for us to consider him in the arms of death, which alone could put a period to so many glorious labours. We refer the reader to the description which the monk of St. Denys has left us of the burial of the constable du Guesclin, the real flower of knighthood, and to that chapter of La Colombiere, which treats of the funeral pomp with which a knight was honoured of the ornaments of their tombs-of the different positions which were given to their effigies, to their swords, bucklers, and helmets, according to the more or less glorious circumstances which accompanied their death, whether it took place in war, in battle, in the crusades, or in the bosom of peace; whether conquerors, or vanquished and captive. According to André Favin, in his Theatre of Honour and Chivalry, those who died after having undertaken a crusade, though it might not be accomplished, in honour of their motives were borne to the earth in their armour, with their legs crossed one upon the other. They were represented in the same attitude upon their tombs; as may be seen, says he, in the cloisters of the ancient monasteries of France and Flanders. Thus, that