by J.-J.-E. Roy
12e edition, Tours: Alfred Mame and son, publishers - 1873
Origin of chivalry. — Table of Europe in the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries.
Much has been written on the origin of chivalry: some have placed it at the time of the first crusade, others have traced it back to a much more remote date. M. de Chateaubriand fixes it at the beginning of the seventh century. Without producing here the dissertations to which this subject gave rise, we are going to present a succinct picture of the state of Europe at the time when chivalry began to make its salutary influence felt. It is only then that this institution interests and charms us, as it ceases to do when the progress of civilization, the return to order, and the powerful action of authority render useless the use of individual force for the repression of abuses and the execution of laws. But, before reaching this last epoch, it is necessary to travel more than three centuries. “Fortunately we are crossing this long and painful desert under the escort of the amiable and brilliant chivalry. This admirable institution of our fathers, this sublime effort of enthusiasm and virtue, which seems today, in our regular times, only a noble extravagance, was nevertheless in these times of anarchy the supplement of the laws and safeguarding the most cherished rights; it was the protection of the widow and the orphan, the shelter of the weak, the terror of the brigands: in a word, it was a real present that Heaven made to the earth, to keep it there, in these times of desolation, the virtues ready to desert it (1). »
The invasion of the barbarians, who for several centuries inundated Europe, had engulfed in its waves all the remains of Roman civilization. Laws, literature, fine arts, monuments, all had perished in this shipwreck. Charlemagne appeared; his genius opposed a dyke to this devastating torrent; but when his powerful hand was no longer there to support the work he had raised, the torrent resumed its course with more violence than before. “The tenth century presents itself under the hideous ensemble of ignorance, harshness and the most complete superstition;
(1) M. de Las Cases, Historical Atlas.
the sciences are literally buried in the monasteries, which they have taken for asylum; the monks are only the guardians, not the oracles. The fine arts have expired under the shapeless mass of a few Gothic monuments; moral society is neither less unhappy nor less desperate; universal brutality is at its height; the graces, the good taste, all the sweet communications which embellish and compose the charm of life, seem to have deserted human society (Las Cases.)
New barbarians, known under the name of Normans, cover all the shores of the ocean with their innumerable boats, and penetrate, ascending the rivers, even into the interior of the lands, carrying everywhere with them pillage, murder and the fire.
“The great empire founded by Charlemagne dissolves, and the great revolution takes place which changes the ancient world into the feudal world. The dukes, the counts, the viscounts retain and appropriate the castles, the cities, the provinces of which they had received the command. Personal slavery is gradually disappearing to make way for serfdom. Thus arose within the old monarchy a new system which, under the name of feudalism, formed a hierarchy of suzerains, vassals and rear-vassals, and linked together all classes, all individuals, from the monarch, supreme lord, down to the serf attached to the soil, the first and last link in the chain” (Chateaubriand, Études historique).
Throughout Europe, the same cause acts, the same facts take place: the monarch is now only the nominal head of a religious and political aristocracy, a republic of various tyrannies.
With feudalism, this confederation of petty despots, unequal among themselves and having duties and rights towards each other, but invested in their own domains, over their direct subjects, with an arbitrary and absolute power, arose the hatreds that excites the inequality of conditions, the dangers involved in the exercise of power, the devastations brought about by neighborhood quarrels, and all suffered the continual presence of force and war.
“Let us take a look at this Europe torn by all these bloody discords: what do we see in these cultivated fields in so few places, flooded in so many valleys, marshy in so many plains, and covered, on their mountains and on their hills, black and ancient forests? The warrior residence of the lords, whose enclosure is fortified with crenellated towers, and, in the neighboring valleys, the cottages of the serfs who cultivate the lands of their master's domain. The castles were almost always built in a place favorable to defence: sometimes on the top of a mountain whose steep and inaccessible side made any attack from that side impossible; sometimes near a torrent which, by hollowing out deep abysses, had prepared a natural ditch for the fortress erected on its banks. We could see these warlike retreats from afar, which rose above the highest forests, and seemed to want to subjugate nature” (Marchangy, Gaule poétique)
The castles usually consisted of large round or square towers, the platform of which was crowned with projecting battlements; sometimes they were flanked by blocks of stone which supported a sort of belvedere. These towers were so much a prerogative of nobility that often, when speaking of a gentleman whose dignity one wanted to boast of, one said: He has a tower (id, ibid.).
Among the towers of the castles, there was one less tall, but much higher than the others, and whose skylights were open to the four winds. It was called the belfry; it was the place of observation, where hung from two joists the alarm bell and the tocsin which was sounded to warn that soldiers were discovered in the countryside. At this signal the serfs left their work, and assembled in the castle to defend themselves there under the orders of their lord. In the belfry was a sort of sentry called wacht, guaite (from which came the word guet), whose job it was to announce with a cornet the daybreak and the sunrise, to call the people of the countryside to their work. The guait still gave the signal for the hoot. This was the name given to the cry which issued from the castle when a robbery or a murder had been committed, a cry which each vassal had to repeat at once, so that they were informed of the crime throughout the whole extent of the fief, and that they could catch the culprit.
The large towers of the fortified castles were separated by crenellated galleries or by various bodies of buildings pierced with unequal windows, the embrasure of which indicated the thickness of the walls and the parapets. These windows were round or square; they were sometimes given the shape of eyes, ears, clover leaves; the shutters were of simple canvas. Palisades, ditches, barbicans and battlements defended the entrance to the feudal manor. The secret openings, the loopholes, the corridors, the wickets, the beams held in the air by iron cables, the low and underground doors whose threshold was buried in a damp and slippery ground, the cisterns without rims, the bridges without railings, the sound of invisible waters rumbling dully under lugubrious and sonorous vaults, everything caused fear of some surprise in these strange places, and justified the popular tales of the neighboring hamlets. The apartments were badly distributed; you could only see dark closets, vast rooms, where beds were twelve feet wide, large poorly closed rooms, where the spider was spinning its light tissues, where the bat fluttered around the shaped pillars. gallows, which served as supports for the ceilings; in the dusty corner of the gallery, the dogs, trained for this ride by the huntsmen, spied on the dormice, the field mice and the rats.
The chimneys were huge, whole oaks burning there at once during the winter. The lord, his family, his squires and all his companions could warm themselves there at ease, and even place between them the chess table, the mandora, the harp, the embroidery frame, and the little pages, whose the arms, chained in the skein of silk or linen, served as reels for the beautiful cousins. The top of this vast hearth was sometimes adorned with spears, lead shots, and halberds placed across it; more often one saw there sculptures and bas-reliefs, the stamps and escutcheons of the master of the house. When bad weather made it impossible to sit on the steps of the castle, the largest of these rooms paneled with armor and signs served as a tribunal for the lord justice.
Hunting was the habitual exercise and almost the only occupation of the lords when the war did not call them. Often they went to spend entire weeks in the forests, accompanied by their feudatories and the officers of their households, hunting all day, and at night sleeping in tents or under rows.
They cultivated with care and skill falconry, or the art of breeding certain birds and teaching them to seize the hunter's prey in the air. They employed the hawk, the swivel, the eagle and the vulture; but the falcon, by its flight, by its courage and by the ease with which it lets itself be trained, had become dear to the nobility, who considered the right to possess it as a prerogative; not only when hunting, but also when visiting, traveling, even in church during the divine office, the lords and even the ladies affected to wear this favorite bird adorned with bells, vervelles or rings, and the fist on which it rested was usually covered with a glove embroidered with pearls and precious stones.
The falcon was so esteemed by our fathers, if one can express it thus, that the noble or lord taken prisoner could not yield his falcon as the price of his freedom, while the law allowed him to give for his ransom two hundred of his serfs. He who stole a falcon was punished as if he had killed a slave; and the lords were so jealous of the exclusive power to hunt, that in the midst of the barbarous laws which guaranteed this privilege, in their eyes to kill a man sometimes seemed to them a more pardonable crime than to kill a stag or a boar.
However, the young girls of the lord learned to know the plants best suited to cure illnesses, and especially wounds, much more common in these times of perpetual wars, and from which no country was immune. They met, with their mothers and their attendants, in a private apartment in the chateau, in a kind of gynaeceum, the walls of which, lined in winter with mats and rushes, were furnished in summer with foliage and flowers. ; they busied themselves there with woolen works, and charmed their labors there with songs or stories of the combats and prowess of the knights.
When one traveled through the countryside which surrounded these castles, and which nature had destined to become so beautiful and so fertile, one saw the paths open in the middle of the woods, or raised in long causeways in the middle of the marshes and the often flooded plains, lined with stakes, sinister pitchforks, and other instruments of death or torture.
At the entrance to each wood, at the crossing of each river, at the limit of each fief, in the vicinity of each precipice, at the approach of each castle, the traveler, delivered up to the arbitrary orders of the lord, was subject to the rights of loudest, weirdest, hardest demanded tolls. Forced to take an escort and pay dearly for it, those who transported valuable goods on mules or wagons often saw these same goods plundered by the escort who had to defend them, or removed by order of the lord and transported to his lair. .
“In the midst of these deplorable monuments of tyranny and sad servitude, one saw appear touching signs of this evangelical religion which has wiped away so many tears, lightened so many burdens and consoled so many misfortunes. The cross of Jesus was planted in the crossroads by the unfortunate serfs; and, after having cast our eyes over the dreadful pictures presented by desolate Europe, we take pleasure in contemplating these unfortunate people who, at the height of misery, came to touch the sacred standard, and sometimes found around this tree of salvation a refuge that the tyrannical power of their barbarian master dared not violate" (Lacépède, Histoire de l'Europe)
After describing the countryside as we saw it from the end of the second race until the reign of Saint Louis, we are going to talk about the cities.
The nobles almost always lived in their fortified castles, and the court resided for part of the year in the pleasure houses favored by the sovereigns, so that the two classes of priests and artisans populated almost alone the interior of the palaces. cities.
These towns, enclosed in more or less strong enclosures, and situated on the summits of mountains or on the banks of rivers, presented narrow, irregular, dark streets, deprived of salutary currents of air, like the light of the sun. Along these unhealthy streets, almost always unpaved, filled with filth and stagnant waters, in the midst of which numerous herds of pigs wallowed, were rows without order of houses formed of a kind of coarse framework and earth. kneaded; and the stalls of fairground vendors blocked the squares.
Almost always the craftsmen of the same profession and the merchants of the same objects lodged in the same streets. "These merchants or craftsmen, gathered in community, sought in the union of their forces a guarantee against oppression, and, to make this guarantee more powerful, they gave it a religious character by making their community a pious brotherhood which had its regulations, its banner and its patron (Lacépede, Histoire de l'Europe.) These communities and brotherhoods can be seen as the source from which the communes and the bourgeoisie were later to issue.
No real police yet existing, robbery was committed in the streets far from the center of towns, as in the paths of a solitary forest; and that is why the inhabitants of the cities were subject to two apparently contrary rules. They were obliged, when they left their homes after a prescribed hour, to carry a torch, usually of pitch or resin; and at an hour equally determined according to the seasons, a bell rang the curfew, and the inhabitants, closing their doors, extinguishing the flames of their hearths, and only going out on urgent business. In the midst of these towns, whose streets presented, during the rainy season, a mire which often only allowed them to be traversed by horseback or mounted on stilts, there reigned a humidity so great and so corrosive, that rust and verdigris covered the iron and brass of the doors and windows. These multiplied cesspools, and the foul gases which ceaselessly emanated from them, gave birth to or spread those hideous and terrible diseases known under the name of burning sickness or sacred fire, and the most dreadful of all, leprosy.
This brief table gives us an idea of what France and the rest of Europe were like during the tenth, eleventh and twelfth centuries. "France," says Chateaubriand, "was then a federative aristocratic republic, recognizing an impotent leader. This aristocracy was without people: everything was slave or serf. The bourgeois was not yet born; the workman and the merchant belonged to masters in the workshops of the abbeys and seigneuries; average property had not yet appeared: so that this monarchy (aristocracy of right and name) was in fact a true democracy; for all the members of this society were equal, or thought they were. One did not find below the aristocracy that distinct and plebeian class which, by the relative inferiority of rank, fixes the nature of the power which dominates it. This is why the chronicles of those times never speak of the people, because then the people did not exist, and this aristocracy without people was at that time the true French nation. — One cannot form an idea, says the same writer elsewhere, of the pride which the feudal regime imprinted on the character; the thinnest aleutier considered himself the equal of a king. The aristocratic body was both oppressor of common liberty and enemy of royal power. »
How many injustices, how many usurpations, how much violence were exercised with impunity by the powerful and ambitious man against the weak without support! Woe to the family that lost its head before its sons were able to protect their mother, their sisters, and protect themselves! Often then the enemy of this family, and it was usually some ambitious and wicked neighbour, seeing no longer any obstacles to the exercise of his hatred and revenge, despoiled the widow and the orphans of the paternal inheritance. Too happy these when they could themselves avoid falling into the hands of their unjust captor, and find asylum and protection with some other lord related or allied to their family! There, often a warrior touched by their misfortune, revolted by the injustice of which they were victims, swore to avenge them, and his perseverance and his courage soon made him fulfill this oath. His noble devotion excited the gratitude and admiration of all, but especially of women, who felt the need that their weakness had for a powerful and courageous protector. Her example, the praises that beauty gave to valor, the desire to signalize herself also by brilliant feats of arms, inflamed the hearts of young gentlemen, and they waited impatiently for the moment when they would be allowed to gird the sword, to fight on horseback with lance, in a word, to be armed knights.
Thus feudalism had appealed to personal courage; the perils in the midst of which the men of those times lived demanded energy and heart; their weapons were their playthings; tournaments, their pastime; their profession, war; and society was a veritable battlefield for all.
If we consider chivalry as a ceremony by which young people destined for the military profession received the first arms they were to bear, it would go back to Charlemagne and much beyond. This prince solemnly gave the sword and all the equipage of a man of war to Prince Louis le Débonnaire, his son, whom he had brought from Aquitaine. Similar examples may be found under the first race of our kings; we can even discover traces of it even among the ancient Germans, in those leudes, those faithful, those companions of the war chief, of whom Tacitus speaks. But if we look at chivalry as a dignity which gave the first rank in the military order, and which was conferred by a kind of investiture accompanied by certain religious and military ceremonies and a solemn oath, it does not go back beyond the eleventh century. It was then that the French government emerged from the chaos into which it had been plunged by the troubles which followed the extinction of the second race of our kings, and the disorders occasioned by the invasions of the Normans. As always happens in times of crisis and anarchy, the greater the evil had been, the longer it had lasted, the more the return to order was a general need; so they attached themselves with avidity, with delight, to everything that could contribute to bringing him back. Also what gratitude, what enthusiasm inspired these generous warriors who armed themselves to re-establish this so desired order and to punish the robbery of a few perverse squires!
Religion, finding in them defenders of the faith, the support of the weak and the poor, considered from then on chivalry as a sacred militia, worthy of celestial favors and blessings. From then on the Church rendered more august, more venerable, this heroic institution by interposing its pomp and its mysteries in the reception of the knights. These, on their side, felt their zeal and their courage redoubled in thinking of the sacred character with which they were clothed, and the people conceived for them more respect and veneration. Sovereigns, learning each day to esteem more men whose fidelity and greatness of soul never belied themselves, believed that politics and recognition were strongly interested in honoring an order that was at once the sword, the shield and the ornament. of the throne.
It was thus that chivalry rose to that degree of celebrity to which even kings aspired, a celebrity which soon increased, and reached even the marvelous, when the spirit of the crusades came to add a new degree of energy to all the chivalrous virtues, and open a new theater to the valor and glory of the knights.
Chivalry spreads a magical charm that seduces, interests and attaches; with it we forget the absence of the arts and the sleep of letters; it seems to be a ray of civilization that pierces and shines in the midst of the darkness of barbarism. The troubadours and trouvères (1) walk by his side; for in all times and among all peoples exploits and poetry were inseparable: their naive and simple muse sings of valour, honor, gallantry; it celebrates the heroes who pass, and inspires those who follow
(1) These two words, one of which belongs to the langue d'oc, and the other to the langue d'oil, have as their root the verb find, invent, and have the same meaning as the word poet, which itself comes from the word poietes, whose root is the verb poieow, which means to make, to create, to invent, to find. Indeed, the main character of poetry is invention.
When we are discouraged at having traversed only a dark and sterile field in the first centuries of our history, we arrive with surprise and as if by enchantment at that memorable epoch when all the virtues are cultivated, and where the amiable gallantry that 'hardly all the effort of our civilization can preserve among us (Marchangy, Poetic Gaul).
By confining oneself to recounting, as the novelists have done, the courtesy, the valor and the generosity of these brave men, making use of their arms only to protect the oppressed and ensure the peace of society, it is already place chivalry among the most beautiful human institutions (Lacurne de Sainte-Palaye, Memoir on the old chivalry).
But what has made her, so to speak, the eternal pride of France and the heroic daughter of her country, is that she has the right to claim the finest glories of our splendor and our private life. It is she who has had the merit of maintaining, among the French, a very strong feeling of delicacy and honor. She was also the first to profess that urbanity which has become one of the indelible characteristics of the nation; it was she again who, finally proclaiming their neglected rights, took pleasure in substituting an invariable empire for the temporary ascendancy of women; and here is a particular effect of chivalry which should fix our attention all the more because it has penetrated to the very essence of the social body.
Women had been in greater or less servitude among the peoples of the East and Africa. The legislation of Greece and that of Rome had allowed several effects of this servitude to subsist; women had only emerged from this state in the Roman Empire when Christianity was established, the only religion which, restoring to man his true dignity, made his wife, not his slave, but his wife. companion. This great change had manifested itself with more or less rapidity in the various countries of Europe.
All the thoughts, all the particular affections of chivalry are joined to these religious ideas and to these great results: from their noble combination is born that generous and faithful love, purified by religion, and which in no way resembles the coarse passion which often usurps the name. When a knight had made the choice of the person who was one day to be his companion, he strove to earn her esteem by his exploits and by his virtues, and the idea of pleasing her was a new stimulus which doubled his value and made us face the greatest perils; but, while maintaining an inviolable fidelity to the lady of his thoughts, he also owed homage and protection to all persons of this weak and too often oppressed sex. Without weapons to maintain possession of their property, devoid of the means to prove their innocence under attack, they would often have seen their fortune and their land fall prey to an unjust and powerful neighbor, or their reputation succumb under the guise of calumny, if the knights had not always been ready to arm themselves to defend them. It was one of the capital points of their institution, not to slander the ladies, and not to allow anyone to dare to slander them in front of them.
God, honor and ladies thus become the motto of all knights worthy of being confessed by their fatherland. These magic words shine in these gallant and warlike feasts, in these military games, in these solemn reunions of the brave and the beautiful, in these simulated combats, in these superb tournaments which are multiplied with so much ardor, where loyalty receives so many homages, the value so many applause, the courteous address so many palms, and the pure and faithful love so many sweet rewards of scarves and emblems (Lacépède, Histoire de l'Europe.).
We still owe it to chivalry to have preserved those traces of loyalty, good faith and simplicity with which man was honored when his simple word was the inviolable pledge of the most important treaties. Of all the crimes abhorred to chivalry, none seemed to him more vile than falsehood and perjury; it marked them with so much ignominy that one cannot recognize them, even in the most depraved times, without overwhelming them with shame and contempt.
Chivalry has saved France twenty times, either by crushing factions, or by giving our soldiers an example of fidelity, patience and courage.
Thanks to her, our reverses and our calamities have become titles to glory for us. When our troops were discouraged, our cities invaded, our kings abandoned and betrayed by insolent vassals, a few knights unflinchingly bore the brunt of the war. Day and night, covered in armor, they rode towards our borders, sounded the horn at the barrier of enemy camps, at the foot of the ramparts where odious flags challenged them, challenged the most renowned leaders, the most superb victors, and , overthrowing them from the height of their triumph, left them only the extent of a tomb of usurped territory.
Sometimes, dressed in white sarots and laden with wood like poor lumberjacks (Life of Bertrand du Guesclin.), they thus entered in disguise on the drawbridge of the castles which they recaptured; at other times they slipped into the besieged city, where their presence revived the dejected citizens and was worth the reinforcement of an army; they often still appeared suddenly on the banks of a river, on the heights of a defile, and by their intrepid countenance caused numerous battalions to retreat (Marchangy, Poetic Gaul, etc.).
So many brilliant benefactions earned the knights the titles of don, sire, messire, and monseigneur. They could eat at the king's table; they alone had the right to wear the lance, the hauberk, the golden spurs, the double chain mail, the coat of arms, the gold, the vair, the ermine, the squirrel, the velvet, the scarlet; they put a weather vane on their keep; this weather vane was pointed, like the pennons, for simple knights; square, like the banners, for the knights bannerets. The knight could be recognized from afar by his armour: the barriers of the lists, the bridges of the castles were lowered before him. Everywhere he received a gracious, eager, respectful welcome; and he answered them with a gentleness, a modesty, a politeness, which the name courtesy expresses perfectly.
This courtesy, intended to temper the roughness and harshness often imparted to the character by the habitual exercise of the profession of arms, was formally recommended by the laws of chivalry, and formed one of the bases of the education given to the young man. who aspired to be clothed with this dignity.
Education of Knights. — The pages or varlets; the squires.
The more glory, importance and brilliance the chivalry obtained, the more difficult it was to admit young candidates who wished to embrace this noble profession. To be received knight, in the beginning, it was necessary to be noble of father and mother and twenty-one years old. But this privilege, which birth gave, was far from sufficient; it was necessary that a masculine and robust education should have prepared the young man early for the labors of war, and that he should have acquired a perfect knowledge of all the other duties and all the obligations imposed on knights. Long trials, undergone in the lower grades, were finally to prove that he had the courage and the virtues necessary to worthily uphold the honor of the order into which he wished to enter.
1st. — PAGES OR VALETS
The education of one destined for the state of knighthood began in his earliest years; still a child, his tastes and his exercises were to inspire him with a military vocation. Armed with a stake which represented the spear, making each tree an adversary, he played with the posts and the limits of the paternal fief, thus testing his nascent forces for the benefit of his warrior future. Winter lent itself to his games: bringing together the companions of his youth, he fashioned the snow into fortifications, besieged or defended these towers, these alabaster cities; and under his arm their fragile ramparts crumbled in humid avalanches (Lacurne de Sainte-Palaye, Memoir on the old chivalry. — Marchangy, Poetic Gaul.)
In these childish games, nature prophesied to this little boy the high offices which God and good fortune bestowed upon him in his time.
As soon as he reached the age of seven, he was taken from the hands of women and entrusted to men. After the first lessons received under the paternal roof, the lords, according to a wise custom of the time, sent their children to the most estimable knights with whom they were linked by friendship or kinship, to procure for them, through the help of their advice and their example, the true, the last education, which was called good food; and it was a signal honor that a father of a family bestowed upon one of his fellows whom he had chosen to cause his son to receive this supplement to his education.
When the moment of separation came, which was sometimes to last many years, the father gave his son his blessing, accompanying him with his last instructions, which are found together in the following speech, taken by M. Marchangy from different authors.
'Dear son,' said the old gentleman, whitewashed in honor and loyalty, 'it is enough to amuse you in the homely ashes; you must go to the schools of prowess and valor, because any young damsel must leave the paternal house to receive good and commendable food in another family and become a great expert in all kinds of doctrines; but, for God, preserve honor; remember who you are, son, and don't forget; be brave and modest in all encounters, for praise is reputed to be blame in the mouth of him who praises himself, and he who attributes everything to God is heard. I remember a word that a hermit once said to me to chastise me: he told me that if I had as many possessions as King Alexander had, and senses as the wise Solomon, and valor as the valiant Hector of Troy, this pride alone, if it were in me, would destroy everything. Be the last to speak in assemblies, and the first to strike in battles; Praise the merit of your brothers, for the knight is the robber of the property of others, who conceals the valor of others.
Dear son, I still recommend you simplicity and kindness towards people of low status; they will bring you more thanks than the great, who receive everything as a debt to them acquired; but the little one will find himself honored by your gentle manners, and will make you famous and famous everywhere. »
At the moment of departure, the youth's mother gave him a purse which she had worked during the winter evenings, and which contained a small sum of money; then she fastened a precious reliquary around her child's neck.
The damsel left mounted on a palfrey and followed by a former servant. Arriving in the castle of his patron, he was admitted to the rank of pages or varlets. The functions to which he was bound in this quality had nothing, in those days, that could debase or degrade; it was rendering service for service, and no one knew the refinements of a delicacy more subtle than judicious, which would have refused to render to one who generously wanted to take the place of a father the services that a father should expect from his father. son. The duties of these pages were the ordinary services of servants to the person of their master and mistress. They accompanied them on the hunt, on their journeys, on their visits or walks, made their messages, and even served them at table and poured them drinks. Always respectful and with lowered eyes, the young page learned to command by obeying, and to say well by keeping a gloomy silence. Thus sharing the duties of chamberlain, he had to supply the lord's hall with straw in winter and rushes in summer, keep the hauberk of the said lord and the bards of his horse in good condition, and finally prepare the bath for the knights-errant.
The first lessons they were given were about religion, which they not only had to practice, as every Christian should do, but which they were also charged with defending at the cost of their blood and their lives. . It was usually one of the noblest, most pious, and most virtuous ladies of the castle or of the court who undertook this part of the teaching of the young pages. The precepts of religion inspired them with a veneration for holy things which was never to be effaced, at the same time as the gentleness, the amiability, the dignity of those who had taught them to them left deep in their hearts these feelings of consideration, regard and respect for the ladies, which also formed the distinctive character of the knights. The instructions which these young people received with respect to decency, morals, virtue, were continually supported by the example of the ladies and knights whom they served. They had in them models for external graces, if born
necessary in the commerce of the world, and of which the world alone can give lessons. They were taught to respect the august character of chivalry, and to revere in knights the virtues which had raised them to that rank. The games themselves, which formed part of the amusement of the pupils, further contributed to their instruction. There they took a foretaste of the different kinds of tournaments, and began to train themselves in the noble exercises of knights and squires. Thus they learned to tame a restive horse, to run covered with a heavy cuirass, to cross the palisades, to throw the bar, to handle strong spears, and to play against the quintaine (The quintaine was a post on which was placed a mobile figure representing a knight, and against which we practiced jousting to learn the handling of the lance.).
The young gentlemen, preparing for the assaults, sometimes represented towns which they were climbing, and gave them the names of some cities of Palestine; they attacked a Babylon of clay, surprised an Antioch of turf, a Memphis of rows; the meadow furnishes them with their first plumes, and the woods their innocent arrows: dawn of glory whose games and laughs wave the banner; dawn of glory which does not alarm envy, and whose bitter fires do not yet kindle the storms! (Marchangy, Poetic Gaul.)
To these warlike games, to these painful exercises, succeeded discussions on war, on hunting, on the art of training birds and dogs; at other times the young page was taught to become an expert at the game of table or chess, or to sing on the mandora some touching lay or some warlike couplet. Finally, emulation, so necessary in all ages and in all states, increased day by day, either by the ambition to pass into the service of some other lord of more eminent dignity or of greater reputation, or by the desire to rise to the rank of squire in the house of the lady or the lord whom one served, for often it was the last step which led to chivalry.
Courts and castles were excellent schools of courtesy, politeness, and other virtues, not only for pages and squires, but also for young ladies. They were instructed there early in the most essential duties they would have to fulfil. They cultivated there, they perfected those naive graces and those sweet feelings for which nature seems to have formed them. The young ladies learned one day to render to their husbands all the services which a warrior distinguished by his valor can expect from a tender and generous wife, and prepared for them the most sensible reward and the sweetest relaxation of their labors. They were the first to wash off the dust and the blood with which they had covered themselves with a glory which belonged to them (Lacurne de Sainte-Palaye, Memoir on the old chivalry. — Gassier, History of French chivalry). We have already seen that young ladies and damsels studied botany and surgery, and that they knew how to give to the wounded the ordinary, habitual and assiduous help which a skilful and compassionate hand is capable of procuring for them.
2. THE SQUIRES
Before passing from the state of page to that of squire, religion had introduced a kind of ceremony whose aim was to teach young people the use they should make of the sword which for the first time was given to them.
The young gentleman, newly released from the page, was presented at the altar by his father and his mother, who, each with a candle in his hand, went to the offering. In case of absence or death of the father and mother, a godfather and a godmother were responsible for representing them. The celebrant priest took from above the altar a sword and a belt, on which he made several blessings, and attached it to the side of the gentleman, who then began to wear it (Lacurne de Sainte-Palaye, Mémoire sur l'ancienne chevalerie ).
The squires were divided into several different classes, according to the jobs to which they were applied, namely: the squire of the body, that is to say of the person, either of the lady, or of the lord (the first of these services was a degree to reach the second); the squire of the chamber or chamberlain, the squire cutting, the squire of the stable, the squire of butchery, the squire of paneterie, etc. The most honorable of all these jobs was that of squire of the corps, also called for this reason squire of honor.
In this new state of squire, which one usually reached at the age of fourteen, the young pupils approaching more closely the person of their lords or their ladies, admitted with more confidence or familiarity. in their discussions and their assemblies, could still better profit from the models on which they were to be formed. They were more diligent in studying them, in cultivating the affection of their masters, in seeking means of pleasing foreign nobles and other persons of whom the court they served was composed, in doing what was properly called honors to knights and squires from all the countries who came to visit it; finally they redoubled their efforts to appear with all the advantages that can be given by the graces of the person, the considerate reception, the politeness of the language, the modesty, the wisdom and the reserve in the conversations, accompanied by a noble and easy freedom to speak up when needed. The young squire learned for a long time in silence this art of speaking well, when, as a sharp squire, he was involved in everything, at meals and feasts, busy cutting meat with cleanliness, skill and skill. elegance, and to have them distributed to the noble guests with whom he was surrounded. Other squires had the task of preparing the table, of washing; they brought the dish for each service, took care of the bread and the butchery. They had continual attention, so that the assistants missed nothing. They still gave the guests to wash after the meal, raised the tables, and finally laid out all that was necessary for the assembly which followed and for all the other amusements, in which they took part themselves with the young ladies of the retinue. ladies of high status. Then they served spices or sugared almonds and jams, claret, chilli, hypocras, and the other drinks which always end the feasts, and which one still took when going to bed: this is what it was called bedtime wine. The squires accompanied the strangers to the rooms which had been intended for them, and which they had had prepared for them themselves.
From these different services, which were only the introduction to another which demanded more strength, skill and talent, we had to pass to that of the stable. It consisted in the care of horses: an occupation which could only be noble in the manners of a warrior nobility fighting only on horseback. Skillful squires trained the steeds in all the uses of war, and had under them other younger squires, whom they trained in this exercise; other squires kept their master's arms always clean and shiny for when they needed them; and all these different kinds of domestic service were mingled with military service. A squire went at midnight to make his rounds in all the rooms and courtyards of the chateau. If the master mounted his horse, the squires hastened to help him by holding the stirrup; others wore the different pieces of his armour, his bracers, his gauntlets, his helm and his shield; with regard to the cuirass, the knights were almost never to leave it; others carried his pennon, spear and sword; but when they were only on the way, they only rode a horse of easy gait, called courier-palfrey, or simply palfrey. Mares were a derogatory mount, assigned to commoners and degraded knights.
Battle horses, that is to say tall horses, were, in the course of a road, led by squires, who held them to their right, whence they were called steeds. ; they gave them to their master when the enemy appeared or danger seemed to call him to battle; this was what was called riding on one's high horse; an expression that we have preserved, as well as that of the upper hand, coming from the proud countenance with which a squire accompanying the master wore his helmet raised on the pommel of the saddle. This helm, as well as the other parts of his offensive and defensive armour, were given to him by the various squires who held it, and all were equally eager to arm it. They themselves learned to arm themselves one day, with all the necessary precautions for the safety of their persons: it was an art which required a great deal of skill and skill, that of bringing together and strengthening the joints. of a cuirass and other pieces of armour, to seat and lace exactly one helm on the head, and to nail and carefully rivet the visor.
The success and safety of the fighters often depended on the attention they had paid to it. The squires in charge of the helmet, the lance and the sword, also kept them when the knight had relinquished them to enter a church or another respectable place, and in the noble houses where they arrived. When once the knights had mounted their high horses and had come to blows, each squire, ranged behind his master, to whom he had handed the sword, remained in a way a spectator of the combat.
However, the squire, an idle spectator in one sense, was not so in another; this spectacle instructed him, and his presence was useful for the conservation of the master. In the terrible shock of two rows of knights who fell on each other with lowered lances, some wounded or knocked down rose, seizing their swords, their axes, their maces, to defend themselves and avenge themselves; and the others sought to take advantage of downed enemies. Each squire was attentive to all the movements of his master to give him, in case of accident, new weapons, parry the blows that were dealt to him, raise him, and give him a fresh horse, while the squire of he who had the upper hand seconded his master by all the means suggested to him by his skill, his valor and his zeal, and, always keeping within the narrow limits of the defensive, helped him to profit by his advantages and to gain a victory. complete. It was also to the squires that the knights entrusted, in the heat of battle, the prisoners they took. This spectacle was a living lesson in skill and courage which constantly showed the young warrior the means of defending himself and making himself superior to his enemy, while giving him the opportunity to test his own worth and to recognize if he was capable of sustaining so much labor and so much peril.
But weak and inexperienced youth were not exposed to bear the heavy burden of war without having learned long before if their strengths and talents corresponded to them. Painful games where the body acquired the flexibility, agility and vigor necessary in a fight; ring, horse and spear races had long disposed her to tournaments, which were but feeble images of war. The ladies, whose presence animated the ardor of those who wished to distinguish themselves there, made it a noble amusement to attend these games.
It was necessary that the aspirant to chivalry unite all the strength necessary for the hardest trades, and the skill of the most difficult arts, with the talents of an excellent horseman. We will therefore not be surprised to see that the single title of squire has been held in such high honour, that a large number of gentlemen have not worn any other, and that no one has hesitated to give it to the eldest son of one of our kings, Charles VIII.
It was through a just distrust of paternal tenderness, which perhaps would have softened the rigor of these trials in a domestic education, that a knight should, as we have said, place his son in the house of a another knight, to teach him the office of squire and exercise him in the harsh profession of arms.
When the young people had spent some time fulfilling the various charges and functions attached to the rank of squire, inside the castles and under the eyes of their patrons, they became pursuers at arms, and in this capacity they saw what called the three professions of arms, that is to say, they frequented the courts of the princes of their nation, that they followed the armies in time of war, and that they went in time of peace to do journeys or messages in distant countries, to acquire more and more experience of arms and tournaments, and to learn foreign customs. The purpose of these trips was to learn from the sight of tournaments, battle pledges and other exercises that were done in the courtyards, and thus to learn new means of attack or defense.
The eve of the tournaments was, so to speak, solemnized by a kind of jousting called sometimes trials or trials, sometimes the vespers of the tournament, where the most skilful riders tried out against each other with lighter weapons to carry and easier to handle than those of the knights; , they were also easier to break and less dangerous to those they injured. It was the prelude to the great spectacle called the great tournament, the description of which we will give later. Those among the squires pursuing arms who had distinguished themselves the most in these first tournaments, and who had won the prize, sometimes acquired the right to figure in the second among the illustrious order of knights, by obtaining them -even chivalry; for it was one of the steps, among many others, by which the squires ascended to this temple of honor (Lacurne de Sainte-Palaye. — Gassier, Histoire de la chivalry française.). We shall see in the next chapter what were the ceremonies usually used for the reception of knights.
Reception of the knights.
The squire who aspired to the dignity of a knight demanded that information be taken about him; then the prince or the great lord to whom this request was addressed, after ascertaining the courage, the prud'homie and the other qualities of the young pursuer-at-arms, fixed the day of the ceremony. It was usually on the eve of the great feasts of the Church, especially Pentecost, or on some solemn occasion, such as publications of peace or truces, the consecration or coronation of kings, the birth or baptism of princes. sovereign houses, their marriages, etc.
Several days in advance the novice (that was the name given to him then) prepared himself by austere fasting, by fervent prayers, by a sincere confession of all the faults of his life. After having received with great devotion the sacraments of Penance and Eucharist, he was clothed in a habit of white linen as snow, from which came the name so gracious and so modest then of candidate, symbol of the necessary purity in the state of chivalry. Aiusi dressed, the candidate went to make the vigil of arms in a church, spent the night in prayer, kneeling before the altar of the Virgin or of a patron, and near the funeral monuments where the statues of princes and great men were seen. captains. Motionless like these simulacra knights, the pious squire, hands clasped and eyes lowered, remembering in his mind the deeds and gestures of these good departed, prayed to God to live and die like them.
As soon as the day began to reappear, former knights who, under the name of godfathers, were to assist the recipient during the ceremony, came to fetch him to take him to the bath which the Grand Chamberlain had prepared in honor of the knighthood. Sometimes, on leaving the bath, the candidate was put to bed, covered with a black sheet, because he was saying goodbye to the impure world, and beginning a new life. But most commonly he was covered with a simple white tunic; a sash was passed round his neck, from which hung his sword, with a hilt in the form of a cross.
In this state, his godfathers took him back to the church, accompanied by his parents, his friends and all the knights of the surroundings, summoned for this august ceremony. There, the priest blessed the sword of the novice, reciting in Latin psalms and exhortations which can be translated thus:
“O my God, preserve your servant, for from you comes strength; the giant, without your support, falls under the shepherd's sling; and the weak, if you animate it, is an unshakable tower of brass against the rage of helpless mortals.
“Almighty God, you swing in your hands the arrows of victory and the thunderbolts of celestial wrath; deign then to look from the height of your glory on him whom the duty of having his sword blessed and consecrated brings to your temple; it is not to serve injustice and tyranny, it is not to ravage and destroy: it is to defend the throne and the laws, it is to deliver all that suffers and groans. under the rod of the oppressor; so give him, in favor of this sacred mission, the wisdom of Solomon and the strength of the Maccabees. (Translation by M. Marchangy)
After this ceremony, the candidate, taken back by the godfathers to his apartments, was dressed first in a brown doublet, then in a camise of gauze brocaded in gold: over this light garment the hauberk was put, and over this of iron mail, the chlamys, composed of the knight's colors and liveries.
Thus dressed and dubbed, he was taken to the place where the prince or some other renowned knight was to give him the accolade. It was usually a church or a chapel; however, this august scene sometimes took place in the hall or in the courtyard of a palace or a castle, and even in the open country. This march was made with triumphal pomp, to the sound of drums, trumpets and bugles; he was preceded by the principal knights bearing on velvet squares all the pieces of armor that were to be worn by him. Arrived in the midst of the officers and ladies of the court, they dressed him in all his arms, except the shield, which they gave him, as well as the lance, only after he was received. When the pretending squire was thus armed, in the presence of the one who was to give him the accolade, the Mass of the Holy Spirit was celebrated. The recipient heard him on his knees, as close to the altar as he could, a little in front of the one from whom he was to receive the accolade. When the mass was over, the clerics were seen advancing, bringing to a desk the book in which were transcribed the laws of chivalry, which they listened attentively to. Here are some articles, which will prove to what perfection those who entered the order of chivalry were to attain.
“Knights should fear, revere, serve and love God religiously, fight with all their might for the faith and defense of religion, and die rather than renounce Christianity.
“They must serve their sovereign prince faithfully, and fight for him and for the fatherland.
“Their shield will be the refuge of the weak and oppressed; their courage will support, against all odds, the good rights of those who come to implore them.
“They will never offend anyone, and will above all be afraid of hurting friendship, modesty, the absent, the afflicted and the poor by malicious words.
“The hope of gain or rewards, the love of greatness, no more than pride and resentment, will never be the motives of their actions; they will in all circumstances be inspired by honor and virtue.
“They will obey the orders of the generals and captains who would have the right to command them, will live as good brothers with their equals, and will in no way encroach by pride or force on the rights of any of them.
“They will never fight many against one, and they will flee from all fraud or trickery.
“They will only carry one sword, unless they have to fight against two or more.
“In tournaments, or other pleasure fights, they will never use the point of their sword.
“Faithful observers of their word, never will their virgin and pure faith be defiled by the slightest lie; they will keep this faith inviolably to everyone, and especially to their companions, supporting their honor and their goods in their absence.
"If they have sworn to put an end to any adventure, whatever it may be, they will never leave their arms until they have finished it, except for the rest of the night, and they will go on tirelessly to their business for a year and a day.
“If, in the pursuit of their adventure, someone warns them that they are following a road occupied by robbers, or that a strange beast spreads terror there, or that it ends in some pernicious mansion from which we do not see the travelers returning, they will not turn back, and will continue their journey, even in the persuasion of an obvious danger or certain death, provided nevertheless that, by engaging in this adventure, it leaves some chance of being useful to their fellow citizens.
“They will not accept titles or rewards from a foreign prince, for that would be an affront to their country.
“They will maintain under their banners order and discipline among the troops under their command, and will see to it that the harvests or the vineyards are not devastated; will be punished
Severely by them the soldier who would kill the widow's hen or the shepherd's dog, or cause the simplest damage on the lands of the allied fellow citizens.
“They will faithfully observe their word and their faith given to him who would have overcome them; if they are made prisoners in good war, they will pay exactly the ransom promised, or will go back to prison on the day and time agreed upon, according to their promise, on pain of being declared infamous and perjured.
“When they return to the court of their sovereigns, they will give a faithful account of their adventures, even if they are to their disadvantage, to the king and the officers of arms, on pain of being deprived of the order of chivalry.
“In all things they will be faithful, courteous, humble, and will never break their word, whatever harm or loss may result. (Translation by M. Marchangy)
After this reading, the pursuer prostrated himself on his knees before the prince, who pronounced these words: “In the honor and in the name of Almighty God, “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I knight you. Now that! May you remember to maintain all the rules and good ordinances of chivalry, which is a real clear fountain of courtesy. Be faithful to your God, to your king, to your beloved; be slow to avenge and punish, but quick to forgive and succor widows and orphans; attend mass and give alms; take care, moreover, to honor the ladies; do not suffer to hear them slandered, for from them, after God, comes the honor that men receive. »
The candidate replied, "I promise and swear, in the presence of my God and my prince, by the laying on of my hands upon the holy Gospels, to keep carefully all the laws of our good chivalry."
Then the prince drew his sword, struck the shoulder of the recipient, gave him the accolade, then made a sign to the godfather to put on the new knight the golden spurs, emblems of the dignity conferred on him, of the anoint with oil, and explain to him the mysterious meaning of each piece of his armor.
The godfather, while tying the spurs, said to him: “These spurs signify that you must be diligent in your endeavors, and spurred on by the sting of honor in all your actions. »
Next came another knight who wore a shield on which were painted the arms of the young knight's house; he hung it around his neck, saying to him: "Sir Knight, I give you this shield" to defend your body from the blows of your enemies, to attack them more boldly, and to give you to understand that you will render a greater service to your prince and your country by defending yourself well and preserving your person, which is much more dear and precious to them than if you killed many enemies. It is also on this shield that the coat of arms has been represented, which are the marks and the reward of the virtue of your predecessors; try to make yourself worthy to wear them, and to increase the luster of your family by your fine deeds, to add to the coats of arms that you have received from your fathers something which will make it known that your virtue is similar to those rivers which, small at their source, grow as they flow. »
(That each day must hear Mass; If it has what, if it must offer; Because many are the seated offerings Which are placed at the table of God, Because they bear great virtue. (Ordenne de chivalry, published by Barbazan)
Another knight, putting on his head the helm or the helmet, said to him: "Sir knight, "as the head is the principal part of the human body, so the helm, which represents it, is the noblest part of the arms of the world. knight: where does it come from being placed on the coat of arms, which represents the rest of the body; and, as the head is the citadel where reside the faculties of the soul, it is also necessary that, when you arm your head with this helmet, you must not undertake anything that is not just, bold, glorious and elevated, and that you do not employ this glorious adornment of your head in low and unimportant actions; but that you try by your valor to crown him not only with your roll of chivalry, but with some glorious crown which will be given to you for the reward of your virtue. »
The godfather then proceeded to give the new knight the symbolic explanation of the other parts of his armor. "This sword," he said to him, "has been given to you in the form of a cross, to teach you that, as Jesus Christ conquered sin and death on the tree of the cross, so you must conquer your enemies by the means of this sword, which represents the cross to you; remember again that the sword is one of the attributes of justice, and that in receiving it you oblige yourselves to maintain always to do good justice. This hauberk, which surrounds your body and guarantees it against the blows of the enemy, signifies that the heart of a knight should be a fortress inaccessible to vices; for, just as a fortress is surrounded by good walls and deep ditches to defend its access to the enemy, so the body of cuirass is closed on all sides, in order to give the knight to understand that his heart must be closed to betrayal, pride and disloyalty.
This high and straight spear is the symbol of truth, and the iron with which it is armed signifies the power and the advantage which truth has over falsehood; the pennon or banner with which it is adorned at the end shows that the truth must not be hidden and that it must show itself to everyone in the open.
The mace signifies the force of courage; for, as the mace is intended to serve against all kinds of arms, so the force of courage defends the knight against all vices, and increases his virtue to repel and conquer them.
The gauntlets that guard your hands denote the care knights should take to keep their hands free from impure touch, and to keep them from larceny, false oaths, and anything that might defile them. »
After that, they left the church in ceremony, the received knight being beside the one who had given him the accolade: then an old knight brought a beautiful horse richly caparisoned; the arms of the new knight were painted or embroidered on the four corners of the caparison; the muzzle was adorned with a crest similar to that which shone on his helmet; and on presenting it to him they said to him: "Here is the noble horse which is destined for you to help you put an end to your glorious enterprises." God grant that he can second your valor, and that you lead him only to places where honor and fame are acquired! When putting the reins back in his hand, it was added: "This curb, this bridle intended to moderate the ardor of your steed, these reins by the aid of which you can direct all his movements as you please, signify that every nobleman heart must curb its mouth and flee all slander and lies: that it must put a brake on all its passions, and never allow itself to be led except by reason and justice.
Often, in this ceremony, the princess herself came to tie her scarf, attach the plume of her crest, and gird her sword. Then all the heralds simultaneously sounded the trumpets at the windows of the palace; suddenly the new knight would rush on his steed, often at full leap, without setting foot in the stirrup, in spite of the weight of his armour; he pranced about brandishing his spear and flashing his sword; shortly afterwards he appeared in the same crew, in the middle of a public place. There he was welcomed and greeted by the acclamations of the people, who marked by transports of joy the joy he felt at having acquired a new defender. His presence seemed to say to the multitude eager to contemplate his features: “All you who languish in expectation of an avenger, weak vassals overwhelmed under the laws of a despot; unhappy wards whose cause a prevaricating judge rejects; men of integrity slandered, publicly defamed, finally wipe away your tears, raise your consoled gaze to the sky; he sends you a tutelary angel in the guise of this new knight, whose heart, impatient to do good, will first divine your misfortunes; walk towards this hero, show him where his spear should strike, where his fervent eloquence should thunder, where his blood should flow and his gold spread! If irons hold back your steps, respond with a cry of distress to the acclamations which his presence excites; wave through your prisons the white veil or the belt, immediately it will fly close to you, will listen to your complaints, will place your petition at the foot of the throne, will await on its knees the decision of the monarch; then, called to the help of the oppressed, will overturn the odious monuments of a tyrannical feudalism, will break these bloody gibbets, these proud posts, these illicit tolls, and will no longer sleep until after having seen the smile of the unfortunates who have invoked him. .”
Returning to the palace or the chateau, the ladies received him with great expressions of joy and affection; they helped to unfasten the pieces of his armor, and placed on his shoulders a rich cloak of menu-vair (This cloak was of scarlet lined with ermine, if the new knight was the son of a king or a prince.)
Then we went to the hall of the feast; the new knight occupied the place of honor, beside the one from whom he had received the accolade.
Such were, in general, the ceremonies used in such cases, in time of peace, in the courts of kings, princes, or great lords. But in time of war, chivalry was conferred in the midst of camps, on the battlefield, before combat or after victory, or in the breach of a city taken by assault.
If the prince wanted to double the strength of his army without increasing the number of his soldiers, he created a few knights. Should it be necessary to cross a river in front of the enemy, to force a defile, or to brave an even more imminent danger, before which the most intrepid veterans turned pale, warriors of good repute immediately received the order of chivalry. If it was a question of going to plant the banner on the tower of a place bristling with iron and defended by inaccessible rocks and deep ravines, new knights were proclaimed, and again all the times that one needed intrepid people in the face of visible death, every time finally that unheard-of circumstances made ordinary means insufficient, and required more than human courage
This sublime policy, inexhaustible resource of the fatherland, from a word gave birth to phalanxes of heroes. Hey! what was the power of honor over the heart of the knight, when this title suddenly made him superior to himself, by making him a supernatural being! One would hardly believe the many prodigies resulting from these magical promotions. The warrior had scarcely received the accolade (and on these occasions it was accompanied by no other ceremony than these words, pronounced by the prince or the general, at the moment when he struck three blows with the flat of his naked sword on the neck of the pursuer: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and of Monsignor Saint George, I make you a knight)- hardly, we say, was this short ceremony over, than he was going to win his spurs in the thickest of the fray; the title granted was often only a certificate of death, the illustration of a wound; but, whatever had been his fate, he always believed that he had done too little to make himself worthy of such an honor: so the sacrifice of life seemed hardly to acquit him towards his country and his king.
The knights thus received were called knights of battle, of siege or of mines, according to the circumstances which had earned them this honor.
A very remarkable reception of this kind deserves to be cited because of its singularity: in 1429, Suffolk, an English general, after having been forced by Joan of Arc to raise the siege of Orleans, had shut himself up in the city de Jargeau with a large and seasoned garrison. Soon besieged in turn by the same heroine, he refuses to surrender; but the French, whose valor and impetuosity are doubled by the enthusiasm of the warrior who leads them to victory, overthrow all the obstacles and scale the ramparts of Jargeau. In vain the English oppose the most vigorous resistance, they cannot stop the ardor and the courage of their adversaries; they abandon the ramparts; every street, every square becomes a battlefield, where they find only death or captivity. Suffolk, trained himself, seeing that all hope of saving the city was henceforth lost, retired fighting with a few brave men, with the intention of gaining a fort built on the bridge which joined the city to the right bank of the Loire. . But Guillaume Regnault, squire, gentleman of the country of Auvergne, noticed this movement; he rushes in the footsteps of Suffolk, at the head of a few Frenchmen, to cut off his retreat. Suffolk and his people want to stop the effort of their enemies, nothing resists the sword of Regnault; one of the English general's brothers is killed, and he himself, if he does not surrender, will suffer the same fate. Suddenly Suffolk shouts to Regnault: "Are you a gentleman?" — Yes, answers the warrior. "Are you a knight?" "I am still only a squire," replied Regnault. - Well! approach, and I will raise you to a dignity you rightly deserve, for today you have valiantly earned your spurs. Regnault, stepping forward with modesty, though with a noble assurance, drops to one knee; Suffolk strikes him on the neck with the flat of his sword, receives from him the oath prescribed by the statutes, pronounces the usual formula, and then hands him by the hilt the sword with which he has just accomplished
the ceremony of his reception: "Rise up," he said, "now that you are a knight, receive me at ransom, I am your prisoner." It was thus that the English general avoided the shame of surrendering to a simple squire.
We have said that, originally, only nobles were admitted to the rank of knights; but it happened more than once that, in grave circumstances or for extraordinary services, simple commoners were raised to this dignity. So the king alone had the right to create knights, who became noble and who enjoyed, from their creation, the honors and privileges attached to chivalry. Thus, when the chivalry of Philip the Fair had been almost completely exterminated by the Flemings, a kind of levy en masse was made; every man who had two sons was obliged to arm a knight, and he who had three, to arm two. Frederick Barbarossa was knighting the battlefield with peasants, with soldiers from his army who had shown courage. The authors who report this fact deplore it as attesting to the decadence of chivalry (Ampère, Revue des Veux-Mondes, February 1868).
A large number of troubadour knights had also come out of the class of the people, and had deserved to be raised to this honor by their talents and their exploits.
But a title to which the high nobility alone could aspire, and which was forbidden not only to commoners, but even to simple gentlemen, was that of knight banneret. This was the name given to one who had a sufficient number of gentlemen and vassals to raise a banner and form a company of men-at-arms maintained at his table and paid at his expense. These bannerets carried in front of them a square standard, emblazoned with their arms and motto, called a banner, similar to the banners of the churches and to the ancient standards and ensigns of the Romans.
There were also squires bannerets who sometimes had knights under their banners, and who even commanded the knightly bannerets when commissioned by the king; but, in spite of that, they could not, more than simple squires, take any quality or privileges reserved to the only knights. Their spurs were white, instead of gold, and they couldn't even call themselves Sir, Monsignor, or Sir.
Armor of the knights.
Before following the new knight in the midst of the hazards of war, in tournaments, passes d'armes, jousts, or in search of perilous adventures, we are going to give some explanations on the way in which he was armed, either for to defend or to attack. These explanations are essential for the understanding of a large part of this work, where one speaks at every moment of the name and the use of these weapons.
§ 1". defensive weapons.
In speaking of the ceremonies which took place at the reception of the knights, we gave the symbolic explanation of some of these weapons but it is useful to give a detailed description of them which makes known the form and the use of them, description all the more necessary to understand what remains to be said about chivalry, since most of these weapons no longer exist, or have been considerably modified.
The helm or helmet. This helmet was quite deep; it was of iron or steel, tapered and rounded at the top, almost having the shape of a cone; it had a chin strap into which the visor entered when it was lowered, and below it a gorget or iron collar which came down to the defect of the shoulders; it was separated from the helmet and joined to it by means of a metal collar. The visor was made of small grids; it lowered during the fight, and rose by returning under the front of the helmet; a crest was also added above the helmet, so named because it was the peak of the helmet. Kings wore a crested crown, and knights other ornaments.
The armet or bassinet. It was a light helmet, without visor and gorget; the knight had it worn in battle, and put it on his head when he had retired from the fray to rest and catch his breath. It differed from the helm in weight, shape, and the visor, which was fixed in the bassinet, while it was movable in the helmet.
The gaubisson. The knight wore the gaubisson, a kind of long doublet, made of taffeta or padded leather, and stuffed with wool, tow or horsehair, to break the effort of the lance, which, although if it did not penetrate the cuirass, would have bruised the body by sinking the iron mesh of which the cuirass was composed.
The hauberk or cuirass. It was a coat of very tight steel mail, which covered the body from the throat to the thighs; then sleeves or mail breeches were added; a steel plate lined the hauberk on the chest; a hood or cap, also of mail, held there to cover the head when the knight took off his helmet; this hood was thrown back when he had his helmet on, because the latter covered his head, face and the back of his neck perfectly; these coats of mail were put on over the gaubisson. Subsequently, chain mail was substituted by cuirass, thigh-pieces, arm-bands and gauntlets, which were entirely of iron, to fully guarantee the knight. All the parts that made up each of these pieces were so joined and nailed together, that they moved away and approached each other, leaving the body all freedom and ease of movement.
The coat of arms. On the coat of mail or cuirass was the coat of arms: it had the form of a sleeveless dalmatic, and was charged with the escutcheons or coat of arms of the knight; often it was of cloth of gold or silver and adorned with expensive furs; under the coat of arms was the sash or baldric, or the leather belt, adorned with gilded studs, from which hung the knight's sword.
Tassets. They were blades or bands of iron which, attached to the cuirass, started from the belt and descended to the middle of the thighs.
Shoulder pads and knee pads. They were also pieces of iron, made in such a way as to cover the shoulders and knees and to facilitate the movements of the knight: some were attached to the cuirass, others to the thighs.
The shield or shield. Those used in battle were made of wood, covered with boiled leather, iron, or other hard materials capable of withstanding the spear. The word shield comes from the Latin scutum, the name the Romans gave to a kind of elongated shield, covered with leather, from the Greek word (skûtos), which means leather. It was on the shield that the coat of arms was always painted, and that is why this name was given to the coins which represented the shield of France.
Squire Armor. The squire had neither armbands, nor headdress, nor mail breeches: he only wore a gaubisson, a steel breastplate, and a gossan or bassinet.
Horse armor. The horse had its head exactly covered by a muzzle of iron or other metal, or boiled leather; his chest was also covered with blades of iron, and his sides with boiled leather; it was then surrounded by a caparison of velvet or some other stuff, on which was embroidered the crest of the knight. Horses covered in this way were called barded horses.
§ 2. offensive weapons
Spear. The straightest and lightest wood, such as pine, linden, sycamore, aspen, and others, was used for spears; the best were of ash; the top of the spear was armed with a point of hardened steel and topped with a pennon or streamer, which had a long, trailing tail.
The squire had no other lance than that of his master; he was only permitted to fight with shield and sword. It should be observed, however, that it is only a question here of the squire following his master; for when he had become a pursuer of arms, he could fight with the lance, be armed like a knight, except for the distinctive marks of the latter, such as golden spurs, etc.
The sword. It had to be wide, strong and of good temper, so as not to break on the helmets and cuirasses, which offered great resistance; at first it was only sharp on one side and short. Subsequently, the shape of the swords varied, they were very long, broad in proportion, and pointed. The handle still formed the cross.
Mercy. This was the name given to a kind of dagger or dagger that the knight wore in his belt. It was given this name because, in hand-to-hand combat, or when he could no longer use his spear or his sword because of their length, the knight used this weapon to constrain the enemy. whom he had knocked down and who he kept lying down beneath him to ask for mercy.
The battleaxe. The handle was thin; the blade had two sides, one similar to that of ordinary axes, but shorter; the other was a rather long iron point or crescent, very pointed at both ends.
The mace, or mace. This weapon was also frequently used. It was a staff, the size of an ordinary man's arm, and two and a half feet long; there was a large ring at one end: a chain or strong cord was attached to it, to prevent the mass from slipping out of hand; at the other end were three chains from which hung a ball: the club was round at one end and entirely of iron.
The mail, or mallet, and the warhammer differed in that the back of the mallet was square or slightly rounded at both ends, and the warhammer had one side square and rounded, and the other pointed or by cutting.
Another kind of weapon, but which the knights rarely used, was called fauchon, or fauchard: it was a kind of sickle sharp on both sides, and to which a long handle was fitted.
Such were the offensive and defensive weapons of the knights; they experienced variations according to the centuries, and were totally abandoned when the general use of firearms was made. How strong must these warriors have been to be able to spend entire days covered with these weapons, and to bear all the fatigues of travel and combat! and at the same time what flexibility, what agility, to spring on horseback or jump from horse to ground without setting foot in the stirrup! in short, what skill was required, in the midst of all this heavy and embarrassing paraphernalia, to handle with dexterity the spear, the sword or the battle-axe, and know how to attack and defend oneself with equal success! One can imagine how long and painful the apprenticeship of such a trade must have been, and that it was necessary to practice it from childhood.
It was, as we have said, on the shield or shield that the signs of nobility of the knights were represented; a few other pieces of armor were also included in the whole of the crest, and this is probably the origin of the word coat of arms, or simply arms, which one uses to designate the heraldic signs or coat of arms, which go be the subject of the next chapter.
Coats of arms, mottoes and battle cries.
§ 1. — origin of the coat of arms
Coats of arms, considered as warrior signs used to recognize a distinguished leader, a tribe, a nation, in the midst of battle, date back to the highest antiquity. A frivolous vanity was not the sole motive of these honorific signs. Often they were the just rewards of merit or the useful prestige which corresponded to the great respects of the people. More often still they served as reconnaissance and rallying points, without which the adversaries between themselves, and the leaders with their warriors, would have easily confused each other in the middle of a tumultuous list or a field of battle, at a time when we did not yet have
imagined the uniforms, and where the armor even hid the facial features.
antiquity often employed these distinctive marks. The Egyptians, people mysterious in all things, covered with hieroglyphs the temples, the palaces and the tombs. In their encampments on the banks of the Nile and the Jordan, the Hebrews recognized their twelve tribes by conventional images; the Assyrians painted a dove on their standards, because this bird, in their language, was called Semiramis. A golden eagle was deployed above the shield of the Medes and the Persians; the Athenians engraved an owl on their coins, and the Carthaginians the head of a courier.
In heroic and fabulous times, there are a thousand examples of these allegorical images. Euripides decorates with it the shields of the seven chiefs fighting before Thebes; Valerius lavishes them on the Argonauts; Homer so multiplied the emblems on the arms of his heroes that, according to several authors, the coat of arms was invented during the siege of Troy. The Romans also made extensive use of emblems and symbols. Their legions displayed various signs, ensigns, signa. On the Trajane and Antonine columns, and on the triumphal arch erected in honor of Marius, near the city of Orange, we see soldiers whose armor is embellished with features and particular figures.
But we should not conclude from all these practices of antiquity that it knew the coat of arms. The military marks then employed as signals or as simple ornaments were not invariable proofs of nobility and honor, hereditary titles exclusively assigned by the prince to such and such a house. The coat of arms, considered from this moral and political point of view, is a modern institution which does not go back beyond the Crusades. Indeed, the knights who returned from Asia attached too much value to the homage of which they were the object, they had obtained it by too many sacrifices not to seek to perpetuate it.
They placed the banners under which they had fought on the highest towers, on the dungeons, above the great gates of their castles, as testimonies of their glory.
Families carefully preserved these marks of honor, these striking signs of the valor of their fathers; the ladies, always friends of courage, embroidered these noble and touching images on their furniture, on their dresses, on the clothes of their husbands or their brothers. They were carved on the ramparts, they were painted on the paneling, they were represented on the shields, they were placed on the tombs, they were consecrated in the sanctuaries, they were decorated with them at feasts, they were found on the clothes of squires, pages, servants, men-at-arms, all those who depended on the family of the warrior. A kind of hieroglyphic language was born from various signs used to recall the most memorable actions of the warrior. The single or double cross, lined, serrated, crenellated, anchored, fleur-de-lis, pâté, appeared in different forms, and retraced the battles waged to conquer the holy city. A palm tree recalled Idumea; an arch, a bridge attacked or defended with valor; a tower, a castle taken by force; a helmet, an armor taken from a formidable enemy; a star, a night attack; a sword, a single combat; a crescent, the defeat of a terrible Muslim; a pal, a band, a bar, a rafter, palisades, barriers knocked down or destroyed; a lion, a tiger, indomitable courage; an eagle, sublime bravery. And that is the origin of the whole system of coats of arms. Once adopted by families, recognized and granted by the prince, they became hereditary property, which no stranger had the right to touch. The heralds-at-arms were specially responsible for maintaining the rules established for the preservation of coats of arms; and the knowledge which they were obliged to acquire in order to accomplish this part of their functions constituted the heraldic art, also called blazon, from the German word blasen, which means to give the horn, because in Germany, in tournaments, the heralds-at-arms went in front of the barrier to recognize the titles of those who presented themselves, and then came to proclaim them to the sound of a trumpet.
In the coat of arms, usually painted on the shield or shield, only six colors and two furs were allowed, namely: yellow, white, blue, green, red and black. These colors are generally called enamels, because they were enameled on arms; but the coat of arms gives them particular names: thus yellow is called gold; white, silver (and these two colors were also called metals); blue, azure, a word derived from Arabic, and which proves the influence of the Crusades on the coat of arms; green, sinople; the red, cinnabar, or rich color, or gules; the latter name comes from the Persian word gui, which means a rose; finally black is called sand. If in the coat of arms parts of the human body, animals, plants, fruits, flowers, etc. were represented with their own colors, these colors were called carnation for the part of the body represented, and naturally for the other figures. Finally the two furs were the ermine and the vair or squirrel.
Some authors have given meanings to each of these colors; according to them, gold was the emblem of faith; silver, that of innocence and purity; red indicated courage, audacity, generosity; the azure depicted beauty, curiosity, good reputation; green signified love, hope, youth; grace and pleasure; black signified mourning and sadness.
The shield or frame of the coat of arms was sometimes divided into several parts by transverse bars, perpendicular or oblique, under the names of pal, stripped, saltires, chevrons; they represented a few pieces of the knightly equipage and fragments of the frame which formed the lists; these figures divided the escutcheon into various sections, where the enamels and the symbols were placed; they sometimes corresponded to each other, and were wavy, fluted, attached, cut, linked, intertwined, &c. Outside the shield were placed other figures which accompanied the coat of arms, and which were called external ornaments. Three kinds were distinguished: those which appeared above the shield, those which were beside it, and those which surrounded it.
Above the shield were placed the stamp, the helmet, the crest, and sometimes the mottoes and war cries. The stamp is what covers the top of the shield, like the crown, the helmet, the hat; the helmet is the old helmet of the knights, of which we gave the description in the preceding chapter; it was placed in profile or face, the visor lowered, half-open or entirely raised, with more or less grids with this visor, according to the dignity or the antiquity of the nobility. The crest was the highest piece of the coat of arms; it could be made of all kinds of figures, feathers, animals, trees, spears, etc. It was also fairly universal practice to place mottoes and war cries above the shield.
On the sides of the shield were sometimes placed figures of angels, men, gods of the fable, centaurs; they were called, tenants. If there were lions, leopards, unicorns, they were called supports; if they were trees or living beings to which the shield seemed attached, they were given the name of supports. When we wanted to put the banners alongside the shield, we had them carried to the tenants or supports. In France, those who had neither tenants nor supports replaced them by cartridges, palms and other similar things.
The flags, the coats, the collars of the orders formed the framing and the entourage of the shield. Besides these ornaments, there were still others which were attached to certain offices, and which served to distinguish one dignity from another.
The first thing to do when we want to explain coats of arms is to examine the background on which the figures are engraved or painted, and then the figures themselves. In the language of the coat of arms, the background bears the name of field, and the figure that of sign.
The field is always covered, either with one of the six colors or metals we have mentioned, or with one of the two furs. Then comes the sign engraved on this shield. The colors for the signs are the same as for the field, except for what we said about natural colors.
The first of all the rules of the coat of arms is that, if the field is covered with a color or a fur, the sign should be covered with a metal; conversely, if the field is covered with a metal, whether the sign is covered with a color or a fur. This rule can be summed up as follows: you must not put metal on metal, nor color on color. To do the opposite of this law is to completely violate the science of the coat of arms: for the coat of arms is a language, says a writer in our day, the most extensive, the richest, the most difficult of all; a rigorous and magnificent language, having its syntax, its grammar, its spelling. The art of the coat of arms consists of reading and writing in this idiom. A few quick and superficial notions relative to the reading of the heraldic language will suffice to give an idea of it (Granier de Cassagnac, Revue de Paris, September 9, 1838.)
In the shield, the upper part is called chief, and the lower part points. The pieces placed on a shield are primarily all pieces of battle armor; secondly all the objects of creation, from the elephant to the ant, from the oak tree to the humble flower of the field, from the stars shining in the vault of the heavens to the jewels buried in the bowels of the earth; finally, fabulous or fantastic beings are brought in, such as unicorns, griffins, phoenixes, two-headed eagles, etc. In general, the animals are always turned from left to right. They still put on the shields all the signs of religion; the cross, as we have said, is especially frequently employed there. Finally, there are some particular signs, such as the band, the bar and the fascia, about which it is worth saying a few words. The band is a kind of ribbon placed on the shield diagonally from right to left; placed diagonally from left to right, it is the bar; placed horizontally towards the middle, it is the fascia.
Reading heraldic writing is called emblazoning. To emblazon the coat of arms, you must first name the field, then the sign and the color, using this formula: "Telle maison porte de..." For example, the house of France since Charles VI porte d azure with three fleur-de-lis or, which means that the field of the shield is azure, and that the signs indicated are yellow or gold; or else, the house of Montmorency bears gold to the cross gules, cantoned with sixteen alerions azure.
The complicated crests offer a much more difficult reading, and the explanation of which would lead us beyond the limits that we have prescribed in this chapter, where we only wanted to give an idea of the formation and the reading of the coat of arms. .
§ 2. — origin of some coats of arms
To recognize themselves in this maze, the masters of the heraldic art were obliged to divide the coat of arms into several classes, which were called domain, claim, concession, enquerre, patronage, alliance, substitution. , community, etc. The arms of domain were those attached to a principality, to a land, to a lordship; the arms of pretension, those of a kingdom or of some principality which a lord or a foreign prince attributed to himself because of some pretension which he had or which he imagined to have: thus the kings of England have for a long time carried the arms of France, quartered in the first quarter, because of the chimerical claim which they thought they had to the sovereignty of this kingdom. The arms of concession were those which the sovereigns gave to their subjects as a reward for some glorious action or for their services; the arms of patronage, those of a person added to one's own, to recognize some benefit one had received from it; the arms at square, those which, being composed against the rules of the coat of arms, gave place to inquire why they moved away from the common use; the arms of alliance, or assembly of those of several illustrious families with which one had some alliance; substitute weapons, those that were contracted to carry under certain conditions; community arms, those that belonged to a particular society, to a military or religious order, to a city, etc. ; finally the speaking weapons, those which retraced the subject for which they had been created, and which were interpreted by the names and surnames of those who first had the right to wear them. Thus the houses of the Stellas, the Salis, the Tresséols, the Lunas, and the Cressentinis, whose names recalled those of the stars, bore suns, stars, and crescents in their azure enamels. The house of Leiris had in its own a rainbow, of which the Fable made the scarf of Iris.
Often, in their double meaning, these names furnished coats of arms with allusions, ambiguities, analogies, and what are called puns; but these puns, the abuse of which has become contemptible, then presented something naive and graceful; for could one see without a kind of pleasure the charming simplicity of these noble and old knights, having acquired by a hundred wounds the privilege of bearing coats of arms, choose, instead of the exploits which their pride could consign there by pompous simulacra, choose, we say, the innocent rebus, the joke or the pleasant anagram, found while talking in their
peaceful homes? Thus the house of Louvers carried in its arms the heads of wolves; that of Larcher, arrows; that of Vignole, a vine stock Argent; that of the Tour de Turenne, a tower; that of Santeuil, an argus; that of Montepesat, scales; that of the Pond, fish; that of Legendre, heads of girls with golden hair. The Lord of Vaudray, owner of the lands of Valu, Vaux and Vaudray, had as motto: I have Valu, Vaux and Vaudray. Mailly's house had taken a mallet; that of Martel de Bagneville, a hammer, etc. (Louis XVIII, in elevating to the peerage, with the title of count, II. de Sèze, defender of the unfortunate Louis XVI, gave him as his coat of arms the towers of the Temple and sixteen fleur-de-lis, an ingenious and touching allusion that recalls everything both the name of the brave defender, the prison and the name of his royal client). The ancients knew this kind of symbol. Delphi had a dolphin in its coins; Florus carried a flower in his seal; Voconius Vitulus had a calf engraved on his, and Caesar an elephant, because in the Punic language this quadruped was called Caesar. The city of Rhodes had a rose for emblem, because in Greek this flower is called pôdov.
But the figures of a coat of arms had a thousand other origins; sometimes they were the marks of dignities and functions: thus the magistrates carried mortars and ermines in their arms; the bannerets, ensigns; cupbearers, cups of gold; huntsmen and officers of falconry, hunting horns or birds of prey; sometimes these figures indicated the pledges of a fervent piety, or the memories of a pilgrimage or a vow; sometimes the symbols of virtues, talents and pleasures. Two hands, one in the other, denoted concord and faith; the anchor and the pole signified unshakeable constancy; cakes (loaves), so common in escutcheons, represented the bread of charity, the cakes of holy feasts and the exercise of hospitality; two wings of gold developed on a field of azure were, in the arms of Doriole, chancellor of France, the index of lofty conceptions; two swans holding in their beaks a ring, a branch of myrtle, doves, a heart crossed by an arrow, rings, a rose with or without thorns, a tree surrounded by ivy with its flexible branches, were originally in our French coat of arms with gentle monuments of tenderness and love.
Cities with coats of arms almost always derived their emblems from things that distinguished them. The humid country of Friesland wore water lilies and bands wavy like waves in its escutcheon. Bologna, whose rivers are covered with swans, took one of these birds for an image. The arms of Paris, whose City has the shape of a ship, are a ship with outstretched sails, under a sky strewn with fleur-de-lis. The towns of Pont-à-Mousson and Pont-Saint-Esprit have bridges in their coats of arms; Tours has three towers in its own.
The factions and the crusades mainly contributed to multiply the emblems in the coat of arms.
Modern Italy finds the origin of a large number of its coats of arms in the factions of the Guelphs and the Ghibellines, as in all the political dissensions from which Florence, Lucca and Pistoia were long desolated.
The hatred of York and Lancaster brought forth the two rivals, the white rose and the red rose. How many different colors and cockades were imagined in France during the troubles of the Jacquerie, the League and the Fronde!
As for the crusades, they would have sufficed to cover the enamels of the coat of arms with all sorts of allegorical figures. The pious journeys of the warriors will explain why shells, martlets, gold bezants and crosses are seen in a large number of coats of arms. Shells were the adornment of pilgrims on their return from overseas. Blackbirds are birds of passage: they were painted beakless and footless to make them more faithful emblems of knights, who often returned mutilated from battles in the Holy Land. The gold bezants, currency of the Orient, were, in heraldic art, the symbol of the ransom of the captives or of the tribute which the Christians imposed on the infidels.
But the cross above all, the cross figured on their garments by those who went to Jerusalem, consecrated in the arms of a thousand families the memory of these religious expeditions.
§ 3. — mottoes and emblems, and battle cries
It remains for us to speak of the legends or mottos and war cries that the coat of arms admitted, in addition to the figures of which they were composed. Monuments of valor, courtesy and magnanimity, these mottos became, for the descendants of the knights, lessons placed constantly before their eyes; they were, so to speak, the epitome of the rhymed recitals which the troubadours and trouvères went from chateau to chateau, accompanied by the lyres, harps, and other instruments of the minstrels; they identify themselves, so to speak, with the spirit of chivalry. Often it was an axiom, a proverb, a simple expression, analogous to the figures represented in the escutcheon, and conforming to the tastes and inclinations of the knight. Fame and love also dictated many of these mottoes.
The royal house of Bourbon had this word, Hope, as its motto.
The kings of England have for motto, God and my right.
That of the kings of Scotland was In deffens, that is to say for my defence.
The Knights of the Order of St. Michael, Immensi tremor Oceani.
Knights of the Order of the Golden Fleece, Pretium non vile laborum.
The Knights of the Order of the Garter, Shame on anyone who thinks wrong.
The dukes of Savoy, and today the kings of Sardinia, these four letters FERT, which
it is explained thus: Strike, enter, break everything.
The house of Montmorency had two mottos, one aplanos, which means without wandering or
vary, and the other, God help the first Christian baron.
The Dukes of Burgundy of the House of France successively had several mottoes:
that of Philippe le Hardi was Moult me tarde (This motto is the etymology of the word mustard, because the vinegar makers of Dijon, very renowned for the preparation of this substance, placed on the pots the coat of arms of their duke with his motto; that of Charles the Bold, Thus I knock.
Almost all mottos received new strength from the emblems they applied to. We painted an empty quiver, and for motto Haerent in cord sagittae, His features are in my heart. A rose in bud: The less it shows itself, the more beautiful it is, The swallow crossing the seas: To seek the sun I leave my country. A mother-of-pearl open to the rays of the sun: Its beauty comes from the sky. An ermine with these words: Malo mori quam foedari, Rather die than defile me; it was the motto of François I, Duke of Brittany. The sunflower in bud: It is to the rays of my star that I will open my heart. An open pomegranate: Sub diademate vulnus, Under the purple one is not immune to injury. A pomegranate tree laden with flowers: Every year a new crown. A wounded lion lying under the tree of balsam, which distills on him its salutary drops: Me lacrima sanat, His tears heal me. A lion chained by a shepherd: Sweet and terrible. An eagle gazing at the sun, He alone is worthy of my homage (Le P. Ménestrier, Treatise on the art of currencies. Le P. Ménestrier, Treatise on the art of currencies.).
War cries also sometimes became mottos, and they formed, like names and arms, part of the inalienable heritage of the eldest of the families. The vassals of a suzerain were excited, by uttering his battle cry, to fight valiantly; those who carried the banner made it heard to more easily rally the men-at-arms after the fray and call them back to their leaders and their standards. Sometimes that cry was only one word; rarely was it composed of more than three. Mont-Joye-Saint-Denis was the battle cry of the ancient kings of France; the dukes of Burgundy cried: Mont-Joye-Saint-André; the Dukes of Normandy, Diex - aye-Dam, Dieu-aye, that is to say, God helps us, God helps us: dam meant monseigneur; the Dukes of Montmorency shouted: God help the first Christian baron. The old Counts of Champagne had as their war cry: Passavant, passavant li meillor, that is to say, Let the bravest advance against us. The lords of Salvaing in Dauphiné, In Salvaing the most gorgias; this word gorgias, formerly, signified bold, deliberate, or richly armed and dressed.
In times of peace, the knights did not remain idle: faithful to the oath to right wrongs and to abolish unjust customs, they rode through hills and dales, seeking adventures, inquiring at each place whether the good laws and good practices were observed. They thus devoted the first years of their installation in the order to visiting distant countries, foreign courts, in order to go there as perfect knights; the green they wore, a symbol of hope, announced the greenness of their springtime and the vigor of their courage. They studied the different ways of jousting in different nations, and the finest spear-thrusts of knights who excelled in the art of tournaments; they aspired to the honor of measuring themselves against these masters, to try themselves and to learn. They learned even more useful lessons in the wars in which they served voluntarily, siding with the side which seemed to have justice and right on their side. They also studied the principles of honor or ceremonial, and civility or courtesy, observed in each court. Curious to be distinguished there by their bravery, their talent and their politeness, they were no less curious to know the princes and princesses of the highest reputation, to observe the most famous knights and ladies, to learn their history, to remember the most beautiful features of their life, to then make instructive reports and interesting or pleasant stories, when they are back in their homeland.
In addition to the frequent opportunities to practice tournaments and war, which our wandering knights found in their travels, chance often offered them, in the remote places where they passed, crimes to punish, violence to repress and means of making themselves useful by practicing those sentiments of justice and generosity which had been inspired in them. Always armed for the assistance they owed to the unfortunate, for the protection and defense they had promised to men and women, they were seen flying from all sides as soon as it was a question of paying their oath of chivalry. ; often also several knights assembled in a court, who had just received there the honors of chivalry, or who had attended its solemn festivals, associated themselves in common to make races or journeys, which they called quests, either for to find a famous knight who had disappeared, a lady who remained in the power of an enemy, or for other even more important objects. Our heroes, wandering from country to country, mostly traversed the forests, almost without any other crew than that which was necessary for the defense of their person, living solely from their hunting. Flat stones planted in the ground, which had been specially placed for them, were used to prepare their meals; the deer they had killed were put on these tables and covered with other stones, with which they pressed them to squeeze out the blood: salt and a few spices, the only ammunition we took on, made all the seasoning .
In order to more surely surprise the enemies they were going to seek, they only marched in small troops of three or four, taking care, in order not to make themselves known, to change and disguise their coats of arms, or to hide them in them. holding covered with a cover. The space of a year and a day was the ordinary term of their hold; on their return they had to, according to their oath, give a faithful account of their adventures, candidly expose their faults and misfortunes (Lacurne de Sainte-Palaye. — Gassier, Histoire de la chivalry française.).
It is the wandering knights who have above all furnished troubadours and novelists with those marvelous tales in which old traditions, sometimes true at bottom, mingle with the fictions of a brilliant and poetic imagination. M. de Marchangy has brought together in a restricted framework some of the most remarkable adventures of these knights, who may be called the Theseus or the Hercules of the Middle Ages.
“Sometimes, arriving at the end of the day towards the edge of a forest, the paladin saw between the tops of the trees the crenellated towers and the grayish keeps of a great castle whose brilliant windows sparkled in the setting sun. To know the lord of this manor and the road which leads to him, he interrogated some charcoal burners, whose horses wandered here and there in the thickets, grazing the fern and the mallows while waving their bugles; but those he questions look at each other without answering him; one of them finally tells him that this castle, long deserted, is haunted by specters and demons, that one hears there every night a sinister noise and long howls. The knight had himself conducted there, leaving his squire and palfrey at the first gates; sword in hand, he makes his way through the nettles, the brambles, the debris with which the courtyard and the steps are covered.
“Remains of coats of arms half effaced on the paneling by the green humidity announce that this residence was once occupied by noble families, and the paladin sighs as he thinks how rapidly greatness flows in this vale of misery; he sits down on the stone of the ancient window, and delights in seeing the soft light of the moon flicker on the stalks of the forest; in the midst of the silence of the night, in these romantic and solitary places, the nightingale makes its harmonious concerts heard, and nature is in ecstasy.
“But suddenly the knight feels a rapid wind whirling in the room where he watches; the windows close with a crash, a ghost appears at the middle door; the hero without fear and without reproach draws his sword, walks on this apparition, follows it in the detours of the corridors and the winding staircases, as it draws back before him; but, having come face to face with this mysterious enemy, he feels a treacherous trap-door sink under his feet, and he finds himself in a vast vault lighted by four lamps.
“It is there that the counterfeiter hides his culpable works from the eyes of men, fearing that an informant noise will attract the sword of the law; with each stroke of the pendulum, quivering with terror, he would like to stifle its resounding sound and impose silence on the echoes of the sonorous vaults; her hair stands on end, and in her terrified eyes is depicted the dread of future torture. The valiant tears him from his lair and delivers him to the inhabitants of the region, who for a long time will teach travelers the name and the exploits of the midnight knight.
“But a more pressing care will strain the courage of the adventurous hero. On the approaches to a Gothic city, surprised to hear the dreadful ringing of the belfry ringing the tocsin or the knell of death, he asks young washerwomen busy spreading their webs on the branches of the willows, what anguish announces such a bell dismal; he learns from it that a lady of renown, accused of a crime, must be burned alive, if a knight does not prove, iron in hand, her innocence (Flores and Blanche-Fleur.).
“At this news, the paladin presses the flanks of his steed, enters the doleful and funereal city, traverses, without meeting a single inhabitant, the dark and muddy streets; then, arriving on the esplanade covered with an innumerable crowd, he sees in the middle a lofty court where the judges of the camp sit in mourning clothes; opposite stands the large penitentiary, accompanied by monks carrying the cross and torches: on one side the stake (Gérard de Nevers.), and the victim seated near it; on the other side appears the accuser, an execrable monster who, to avenge himself for the contempt of the woman he had insulted, accuses her of a crime he has committed.
“The looks of the knight have already justified the accused; he calls the accuser to be false, traitor, deceiver, and earnestly demands to prove it by fighting, not with courteous arms and graceful spears, but with honed iron and outrageousness.
"He throws his gand in the arena; the two adversaries advance on foot, their faces uncovered, armed with thrusts and daggers, make the sign of the cross and fight. Righteousness prevails, the felon falls and confesses his crime. Then the judges of the camp delivered his corpse to the heralds-at-arms, who dragged him over the muddy hurdle. His arms are attached to the pillory, then dismembered and reviled; his spurs broken on the dunghill, and he is buried in a poor place and in earth which was never blessed, as was practiced in the place of the perjured, disloyal and faith-lying knight.
“The delivered lady has not yet regained her senses, and the liberating knight has already left the city. The townspeople drive him back shouting: "Gentle sire, we pray God to give you what you desire." »
“But the knight found in the midst of his beneficent journeys a sweet rest in the castles, where he was always kept by a benevolent welcome. At the gates and on the arrows of these residences were placed gilded helmets, like the customary signs of hospitality and of the dwelling prepared for knights-errant; for it was a custom in our good country, as long as courtesy and charity reigned in him, that his gentlemen and noble ladies caused to be placed at the top of their hostel ung haulme, as a sign that all knights passing away the paths enter boldly into this hostel. as in their own (Perceforest, tomeV).
“As the knight approaches, the horn sounds, and the bridge lowers. The ladies hasten to receive him at the foot of the steps and hold his stirrup (Instruction of the Chevalier de la Tour to his daughters. — Lapine de Sainte-Palaye.); they then lead him into a large room whose joists are covered with coats of arms and fleur-de-lis. The pages give him to wash; the straps of his armor are unlaced, and soft fabrics wipe the dust with which his damp forehead is stained. "Fine sire," he was told, "be here at your ease, and if anything displeases you, make it your master, for you are so from this moment." »
Varlets will promptly invite, in the name of their master, the squires, the vavasseurs and the good jokers of the area, so that pleasant and joyful company celebrates the arrival of the knight. Soon arrive in fine accoutrements the counts, the bannerets, the seneschal, the damp-abbot, the sires-clercs, the mires, the minstrels, the drinkers, the players of the crone, of the cornet and of the Behaigue flute.
“After the meal, and when the evening comes, begins to dance and laugh; the troubadours play the Provençal galoubet, the Italian mandolin, the harp from the court of Champagne, the flute from Cologne, the musette from the banks of the Lignon. However, seated on the stool, the pilgrim recounts his travels to the elders of the place; the scholastic and the theologian discuss some captious passage extracted from the Master of Sentences, and the Court Fool, slipping behind the armchairs, strives to many jokes and antics.
“The knight, taken to the apartment prepared for him, finds there rose water and electuary for washing, then a high bed of straw and soft with no feathers, with a pillow scented with violets; the pages serve him bedtime wine, claret, hypocras and dragees. The next day, at the moment of the departure, the knight remained moult dumbfounded on seeing a page bring him pieces of silk cloth, even jewels and gold, saying: "Sir knight, come here a present that Monseigneur begs you to keep for his love, and, in addition to these gifts, two palfreys are brought under the arcade of the steeple for you, and two strong roussins for your people; Monsignor gives them to you for what you came to see him in his hostel. »
“These presents were gladly received; and how could they have humiliated, when the feeling which offered them reminded the pride of the knight how he deserved them? Indeed, these liberalities were exercised not only to make them marks of memory, but also in order to associate themselves in any way with the exploits and the adventures of the brave: secret pact subscribed by mutual agreement by courtesy and loyalty of these times. A delicate thought, a chivalrous illusion told the generous squire that on leaving his hands this parcel of his treasures was going to become, through the intervention of a hero, seeds of virtue and glory. He saw, by his ennobled gold, the pauper and the widow comforted, the ransom of a captive acquitted, poor paladins re-crewed, ships being built, and the escort the paladin was to lead to his destination armed. dazzling expeditions; he hoped to be able to say one day: “Perhaps the knight rode on my steed when he dispersed the men-at-arms of England; perhaps with my sword he overthrew the giant or the Saracen chief; in my house could well have been spun the beautiful coat with which he adorned himself on the day of the tournament.
But if in times of feudal anarchy, times of disorder, oppression, tyranny, errant chivalry rendered important services, it is conceivable that its action could only be temporary and should only last as long as the cause which produced it. Since society, towards the end of the Middle Ages, began to become more and more regular, the police of modern States began to be established and founded, the independent, adventurous, eccentric spirit of the knights-errant could only hamper and embarrass the action of the government, instead of serving it. From then on, the sovereigns endeavored to remove from chivalry all that was unforeseen, disorderly in the habits of these warriors, adventure runners and redressers of wrongs, to bring this institution back to a spirit of order and discipline more commensurate with the new state of society. Thus gradually disappeared that romantic chivalry, which had blended with the realities of historical chivalry, and which, according to Chateaubriand's expression, "resounded with an extreme echo until the reign of François I, where it gave birth to Bayard, as she had given birth to Du Guesclin near the throne of Charles V." What survived her for a long time yet, and what the princes encouraged to maintain chivalric skill, valor and enthusiasm, were military games, tournaments, footsteps, grips, which we will discuss in the following chapters.
Footsteps, or grips.
Of all the military games to which chivalry gave rise, the steps of arms or grips, that is to say enterprises, were those which had the closest analogy with the adventurous and romantic genius of the ancient knights. We have already seen that, in order not to remain idle in time of peace, the young people newly raised to the rank of knight went to travel in foreign provinces and visit the courts of the most renowned kings and princes. They did not always encounter adventures to bring to an end, nor wrongs to right, especially since the princes had enough power to mete out justice regularly by themselves or by the magistrates they had instituted. In the absence of adventures that chance no longer offered them, the brave men imagined some: they had it published that, in an indicated place, and for a certain time, they would fight against all comers, on such and such a condition, to support the honor of their nation, the glory of their kings and the renown of their arms. This commitment was called influence, and its fulfillment was the no weapons because usually it consisted in defending a passage on a bridge or on a road, or even on a frequented place.
When the cartel containing the formula and conditions of the right-of-way had been published, the holding knights proceeded to the place they had assigned; there, planting their standard, they hung their shields emblazoned with their arms, or enriched with some particular ciphers or currencies, to trees or poles and columns erected for this purpose, and obliged all the knights who wished to pass by there to fight or to joust against them. If there were several of them together to keep pace, there were as many crowns hanging from these trees or columns as there were knights, and then, to avoid jealousy, the knight who wanted to pass touched with his spear a of these crowns, and he to whom it belonged was bound to fight.
When the cartel d'un pas d'armes was published, it was soon known far and wide, and soon came from all sides knights jealous to test themselves with the guardians of the hold, and ladies curious about these sorts of spectacles. , usually offered in their honor. On the appointed day, the fighting began in the morning and lasted part of the day. The joust was played either with fresh iron or with dead spear, according to the conditions of the cartel, or according to the permission which had been granted by the sovereign princes on whose territory the pas d'armes took place. The loser was most often obliged to give a pledge to the winner. It was a golden rod, an awl, furs, or some precious stone. At other times the conventions of the grip were that the vanquished would be obliged to go and surrender himself prisoner at the mercy of the king or sovereign prince of the victor, and to confess to him that, having been defeated in such a step of arms, he came and put himself at his feet and surrendered his prisoner for as long as his Majesty pleased; in this case, the kings used to use it as generously as possible, and to flatter, console and honor with all their power the knights who were thus sent to them.
Every day the games were renewed for the duration of the hold; every day the battles were followed by dances, concerts, games and meals which the knights gave to all the spectators, on the banks of the rivers, of the forests, and on the slopes of the hills; for the neighborhood of the woods, the waves and the heights was chosen for the theater of the steps of arms, not only to find a natural decoration there for these festivals, but also in order to breathe an air always refreshed by the shade of the trees. trees and the current of the waves, and also to make it easy for the crowd of spectators to group together and sit down on the slope of the mountains
These steps, or grips, were so frequent in France that, as soon as peace was made, many knights leagued together to go to various places to demonstrate their valor. Between Calais and Saint-Jacquevert, there was a list erected for the purpose, where the nobility of France would test its worth against the English who passed through there on their way to France or elsewhere. Marshal de Boucicault, the lord of Saintré, Regnaud de Roye, Saint-Prix and several others fought there successfully. Those from the provinces of Languedoc and Guienne, who did not want to come so far, were going to step up to the frontiers of Spain, to compel the knights of that nation to come and measure themselves against them. In front of the castle of Pau, in Béarn, there was a barrier to the closed field, where those of this nation used to fight; and even today this place is called the Battlefield. In Paris they also fought in this way; the place where these games were held has retained the name of Maupas; it is located in the Faubourg Saint-Jacques.
Under Charles VIII, a gentleman from the county of Burgundy, named Messire Claude de Vaudré, held in Lyons, during the king's stay in that city, a pas d'armes which had become famous, because it was there that , most brilliantly, a young man scarcely off the page, who was later to acquire so much glory as a fearless and blameless knight.
Among the most famous pas d'armes maintained by the knights of France are the grip of the Dragon, the pas de Sandricourt and the Cartel du Chevalier Solitaire. The influence of the Dragon, so called because a high column had been erected on the place of combat surrounded by a dragon, was maintained near Saumur by four knights, in honor and for the pleasure of the ladies; she especially pointed out the magnificence of René d'Anjou, King of Sicily, who spent part of his life writing models of tournaments and painting coats of arms. He was drawing a partridge when a message came to inform him of the capture of Naples. The philosopher prince did not leave his work, but represented this bird with outstretched wings, to make it the emblem of the goods here below; he came under the influence of the Dragon, preceded by a numerous procession; in front of him walked two Turkish policemen, each leading a chained lion; behind them came a dromedary, on which was seated the dwarf who carried the king's shield. A lady of rare beauty, and who was taken for a fairy, opened the barrier to the knights and gave the prize to the winners.
The pace of Sandricourt, held near Pontoise, was no less brilliant; the greatest lords hastened to go there. La Colombière, by telling us the names of the supporters, the assailants and the ladies, recounts what exploits illustrated for several days the Carrefour Ténébreux, the Champ de l'Épine and the Barrière Périlleuse, romantic names given by the knights to the various passages that it was a question of defending or attacking.
As for the influence of the Solitary Knight, it offers a trait of audacity and value worthy of being placed among the number of our victories.
A Frenchman, wishing to remain unknown under the name of Chevalier Solitaire, passed himself off in a boat to Great Britain with his companion; going straight to London, they erected, between the palace and the navy, their banners and their escutcheons; then came in front of the king, who was then holding full court and open court, to ask his permission to fight with the knights of his kingdom who would do them the honor of measuring themselves against them; these adventurers, after jousting for eight days against all the nobility of England, returned to France victorious and laden with presents.
Sometimes the footsteps were itinerant, that is to say that the knights planted their pennons here and there according to the occasion, then wandered at random, exhausting all the places of adventure.
Antoine Darces, Lord of La Bastie, in Dauphiné, nicknamed the White Knight, and three other knights, his aides, by permission of the King and Queen of France, Anne of Brittany, wore around their necks a white scarf for influence, and went to visit the kingdoms of England, Spain, Scotland and Portugal; the summary of the said right of way stated that “whoever touched it would be required to fight with them with spear and sword. The French were not the only ones who distinguished themselves by taking hold of this kind; the English, the Scots, and especially the Spaniards, long preserved these chivalrous tastes. One quotes like one of the last steps of famous weapons the influence of the Wild knight to the Black Lady. It was a Scottish knight who had taken this bizarre name, and who, seconded by two other knights, his aides, published everywhere, with the permission of the King of Scotland, that he would fight for five weeks, on foot and at horse, against all comers, gentlemen in name and arms.
“Here is the first article of this cartel, which proves that Scottish chivalry was in no way inferior to that of any nation.
"These arms will be made in the said kingdom and city of Edinburgh, within the field of Remembrance, which will be between the castle named the Damsels and the Secret Pavilion, and within the said field will be the tree of Hope, which grows in the garden of Patience, bearing leaves of pleasure, flowers of nobility and fruits of honour; and at the bottom of the said tree will be attached, for five weeks, five crowns one after the other, of different colors; in each week one, of which the first white, the second grey, the third green, the fourth purple, and the fifth gold, to each of which there shall be a letter crowned with the name of the said Savage Knight and his two companions.
“The prize that the vanquished will be obliged to give to the victor will be a golden rod.
“The said arms on foot and on horseback will be assigned and will begin on August 1, 1507.”
All the grips of which we have spoken so far can be called historical because the heroes are well-known characters, and what we have told of them has all the characteristics of authenticity. If we had wanted to delve into the novels of chivalry, we would have found a host of anecdotes of this kind, but where the magic and the marvelous are so lavished, that the authors seem to have had less in view to paint the real mores of the chivalry than to give scope to their invention. Only one of these novels, leaving aside all the resources of the imagination, gives us details on this part of chivalrous manners in which everything seems true, or at least probable; where everything is in keeping with history and the use of time. We will end this chapter with a few passages from this novel (Saintré, M. de Tressan, tome III), rejuvenated by M. le Comte de Tressan; they will complete what we have to say here about the footsteps or grips of the knights. We will come back to it again on the occasion of the jousts and tournaments of the court of Burgundy.
The young Saintré, page of the court of King Jean, after passing through the various ranks, had reached that of squire pursuing arms. Wanting to signalize himself by some brilliant action capable of raising him to the rank of knight, he asked the king for permission to form an enterprise and to visit foreign courts. The king, who loved him very much, answered him: “What! my friend Saintré, it is at the moment when I attach you most intimately to my person, that you want to distance yourself from me! But, added this good prince, I cannot condemn you: still less do I want to refuse you an opportunity to do honor to my feelings and to put myself in the right to arm you knight. »
As soon as the young Saintré had obtained this permission from his master, he busied himself with the preparations for his enterprise. He displayed on this occasion a magnificence and a luxury worthy of the noble court to which he had the honor to belong. When the day of departure arrived, he went to take leave of the king and receive his letters of arms. The custom of this time was for the monarch, the royal family and the princes of the blood to make a gift to the young gentleman whose enterprise brought honor to the nation. The king gave him two thousand gold crowns from his savings, the queen gave him a thousand from hers; gentlemen of Burgundy, Anjou and Berry gave as much; the princesses their wives enriched him with bracelets, ties, rings, precious stones, so that he could spread his gifts in the different courts where he went to fight.
The young Saintré headed for Spain; he made himself admired by his beauty, by his feelings and by his magnificence in all the French towns which were on his way. This magnificence and these gifts increased as soon as he entered foreign frontiers; a few adventures even signalized his address and his value. Catalan knights guarded different steps in the mountains; vanquished equally by the arms, the gifts, and the courtesy of Saintré, they preceded him to Barcelona, where the lords of the country marked his arrival with festivals. He stopped there for a few days to have his crews repaired and made even more brilliant. From there he sent three heralds, the principal of whom was covered with the attributes and liveries of France; the other two were his. He deputed them to present the patents of the king of France, which authorized his influence, and to ask permission to appear at the court of the king of Aragon, to kiss the knees of this prince, and to present his arms letters. Everything was granted to him, and a few days later he arrived near Pamplona, where the court was then. The great reputation of the noble French pursuer had preceded him, and Saintré saw running to meet him an infinite number of knights and ladies, who were struck by the magnificence and gallantry which reigned in all his procession.
When he had arrived at the foot of the throne, the monarch spoke to him with distinction, and asked him for news of the brave knight who reigned over France, adding that he congratulated him on having made such a pupil. The first knights were ready to dispute the honor of delivering him (One called delivering a pursuer of arms from his enterprise, removing from him by force or courtesy the mark he had chosen to always wear.); but they were forced to cede this honor to Monsignor Enguerand, the first of them and a close relative of the king, whose niece he had married (Mme Aliénor, the Princess of Cordoba, one of the most beautiful and perfect ladies of all the Spains). At the moment when Saintré left the king's knees, Monsignor Enguerand came to him with all the nobility, the gallant and open air which distinguished the Aragonese knights from those of the Two Castiles, whose air was prouder and more reserved. "My brother," he said to Saintré, holding out his arms to him, "will you accept me to deliver you?" “Yes, sir,” replied Saintré; and the honor you deign to do me is already so great that I blush to have still so little deserved it. "What should I not do," resumed Enguerand, "for the pupil of so great a king and for such a pursuer of arms, equally agreeable in the eyes of our ladies and all our knights?" At these words, he embraces the young Saintré, and leads him to the monarch; he then unfastens Saintré's bracelet; he calls Aragon, first herald-at-arms of the court, and presents it to him with a priceless ribbon. Enguerand then presents him to the ladies and other knights.
The next day was marked by a brilliant party given by the Queen of Aragon. Saintré appeared there with all the taste and brilliance which characterized the court of France. He pleased the men by his noble politeness, the ladies by his respectful gallantry. This was the first honor he did to the nation. The proud and just Aragonese could not help judging the successes of the education of the French nobility, when self-esteem and slight faults do not cause them to abuse the natural gifts they seem to have received to please.
During these moments of pleasure, the lists were prepared. Saintré's letters stated that on the first day the two supporters would break five lances, and that the prize would be awarded to whoever had gained some advantage. The same letters stated that, on the second day, the supporters would fight on foot with the sword, the dagger and the ax (This kind of ax, of which we have already spoken, was a dangerous and very - murderous weapon. Comte de Tressan thus describes one of these axes that he had in his possession for a long time: "It was all of iron and deeply inlaid with gold, two feet long. The head bore a point five inches long. , of a triangular iron with a full blade. The frame carried on one side an ax blade, the cutting edge of which was five inches long and presented the figure of a curve forming part of an elongated oval. On the other side, three inches long, terminated in a hammer, the head of which formed an elongated knob, the whole weighed about fifteen pounds), and that the victor would receive a rich gift from the vanquished.
The king and queen, followed by a large court, honored these games with their presence. Monseigneur Enguerand surpassed the young Saintré by the whole head. His martial air, his strength, his valor proven in twenty combats, formed a favorable prejudice for him. The general wish, however, was for Saintré.
The honor of the first three games was absolutely equal between the combatants. In the fourth race, Monseigneur Enguerand seemed to have some advantage, but that of the young Saintré was decisive in the fifth. Monsignor Enguerand having missed his mark, Saintré broke his spear to the hilt, hitting Enguerand in the visor of his helmet, and making him bend his head to the rump of his horse, without however knocking him down.
Here the fight was stopped. The judges of the camp, having seized the adversaries, led them to the royal balcony. Aragon, first herald-at-arms, having collected the votes (for the form), Saintré was proclaimed winner. Enguerand took the ruby from the hands of the herald and presented it to Saintré. Both were admitted that evening to the royal feast and treated with the most glorious distinction. The next day was a day of public pleasures.
On the third day the trumpets announced a more serious fight; and the shrunken lists were prepared differently for combat on foot. This fight was long enough and violent enough for the two adversaries to be forced to take breath and re-lace their weapons, which the violence of the blows had partly distorted and disassembled.
This last assault was the most terrible. The young Saintré, having let his ax fall, had recourse to his sword, with which he parried for a long time the blows which Enguerand dealt him. Then using all his skill to dodge or to parry, he seizes a favorable moment to strike such a furious blow on the wrist of his adversary, that, without the force of the temper of the gauntlet, he would perhaps have cut off the arm. d'Enguerand, whose ax flew several paces away. Saintré then picked up his own with the greatest agility, and presented the point to the visor of Enguerand's helmet, jumping lightly and placing his foot on the fallen axe, which the latter wanted to pick up. Enguerand, desperate to see himself disarmed, jumped on Saintré, and, embracing him tightly, he tried in vain to throw him to the ground: Saintré, also seizing him with his left arm, held his ax raised with his right arm, but without carrying him one shot ; he contented himself with resisting her efforts, and preventing her from seizing that same arm. The King of Aragon, wanting to put an end to this dangerous struggle, threw down his wand. The judges seized the combatants, whom they separated without effort. Enguerand, immediately raising his visor with the hand that remained free to him, exclaimed: "Noble Frenchman, my courageous brother Saintré, you have conquered me for the second time." - Ah! my brother, what are you saying? replied Saintré quickly; am I not vanquished by your hand, since my battle-axe fell first? During this noble debate, they were conducted to the royal balcony, from which the king descended to receive them both in his arms. While the heralds collected the votes to proclaim the victor, Saintré escaped from those who surrounded them, flew towards the king-at-arms, took up his bracelet, and came, his right hand disarmed, to present it to Monseigneur Enguerand, as to its conqueror, without wanting to give the heralds time to make their proclamation. Enguerand, far from accepting, immediately offered him his sword by the hilt. The king had difficulty in stopping these gestures of generosity, and finally deciding that Saintré should keep his rich bracelet, the latter, at once, ran to the balcony of the queen, and, putting one knee on the ground, vis-a-vis Madame Aliénor, he wanted her to accept this bracelet as the prize for the victory which her husband had just won over him. A cry of admiration arose; the queen herself, carried away by this feeling, came to raise him from the knees of Madame Aliénor, who obstinately refused to accept this rich gift. The queen decided that he should be accepted out of courtesy, and to honor one who showed such a lofty soul. Madame Eleanor yielded; but, at once, unfastening a rich collar of diamonds with which her neck was adorned: “Lord,” she said to him, “it would not be right for you to remain without the marks of your victory. »
The king himself helped to disarm the two knights. Saintré, perceiving that Monseigneur Enguerand was wounded, threw himself on his bloody wrist, and kissed the imprint of the blow he had struck, bathing it in his tears.
The slight wound of this lord not depriving him of attending the feast which followed this fight, the king made sit at his table the lord of Saintré, between him and Mrs Aliénor; and the queen did the same honor to Monseigneur Enguerand.
Several celebrations also crowned this fine day; and Saintré was always the object of the most glorious attention there. Pressed to return to France, Saintré took leave of the King and Queen of Aragon, tenderly embraced Monsignor Enguerand, to whom he swore an inviolable friendship, and set out to return to his homeland. Arriving in Paris, he received the most flattering welcome from King John; the old knights and all the ladies of the court encouraged the young pursuer-at-arms with applause which was the sweetest reward of his victory.
A month after his return from Spain, a new opportunity presented itself to Saintré to signal his bravery in the eyes of his king and his entire court. One of the greatest lord palatines of Poland, the Count of Loiselench, grand officer of this crown, accompanied by four other palatines of a rank hardly inferior to his, arrived in Paris, where they had come to admire the court of the king. Jeans. All five, having made the same feat of arms, wore on their arm a golden yoke and a chain which attached it to their foot, without depriving them of their freedom to use either. They begged the monarch to allow them to wait in his court until the same number of knights presented themselves to deliver them.
The magnificence and the noble simplicity of the clothes of the Polish lords were admired by the whole court of France. A jacket of gold brocade, which took them exactly the size, fell to their knees. A bejeweled belt held up the large curved sword they carried at their side. Light boots, adorned with rich gold spurs; a bonnet raised on the forehead, surmounted by an aigrette of heron's feathers, which seemed to issue from a sheaf of diamonds; a long purple cloak, lined with sable sable or Astracan lambskin, which fell halfway up the legs, and rose over the right shoulder with a clasp of jewels: everything united in this simple and noble dress the military air of the warriors of the North and the magnificence of the lords of the courts of the South. Their courtesy, the amenity of their manners soon made themselves known, in spite of the proud and even a little fierce air which the peoples of the North, descendants of the disciples of Odin and Frega, still retained.
Several young knights or pursuers of arms hastened to fill in their names on the list of contenders for battle, which the two marshals of France were to present to the king. It is believed that Saintré was not the last to seek this honor, and King Jean did not hesitate to name him the first of the five who were to fight foreign knights.
The ceremony was performed with the greatest splendour. It was Saintré who, advancing gracefully, went to ask the palatine, Count de Loiselench, if he would accept him to deliver him. The latter, warned by the reputation of Saintré, regarded as an honor the choice that the French monarch had made of his pupil and of the most renowned young lord of his court. He hugged Saintré tenderly in his arms, while the latter bent down to free him from his chain and the yoke attached to one of his feet.
The lists were erected near the palace of Saint-Paul, in the great culture of Saint-Catherine. The fighting lasted two days, and was equally honorable for both parties. Saintré, however, in all his strength then, and having lost none of his skill and agility, soon felt the superiority which both gave him over his courageous adversary. Far from abusing it, he contented himself, on the first day, with gaining the advantage necessary to have the honor. But the second day put his courtesy to the most dangerous test. The proud and brave palatine, practiced from an early age to fight with his curved sword, would perhaps have won a decisive victory, had it not been for Saintré's extreme skill in avoiding or parrying the blows of his enemy. Saintré, always keeping his composure against an adversary irritated by his skill, contented himself for a long time with making his blows useless. Knowing for himself that the deepest pain that can penetrate a beautiful soul is humiliation, he had the art of maintaining the fight Until the appointed hour to end it: he already realized that the arm of Loiselench was becoming heavy and struck only uncertain blows, he then made his horse leap, and with a flirtation, having reached the rump of that of Loiselench, he struck a skillful blow on the point of his saber. , which he removed, so to speak, from his hand. Having jumped lightly to the ground, he picked it up, unlaced his helmet, and drawing his gauntlet he hastened to present it, through the window, to the palatine. The latter, struck by the grace and courtesy of Saintré, promptly dismounted to receive his saber and embrace such a worthy adversary, nobly acknowledging his defeat. Already King John had descended from the royal balcony to embrace the two combatants; he felt, as he clasped Saintré in his arms, the tender and lively interest of a father.
One can imagine all that the goodness of King John and the noble, lively and considerate politeness of the most amiable and brilliant court in the universe, united to soften the Polish lords the embarrassment and the sorrow of their defeat. They set out again for the banks of the Vistula, filling Saintré, who went to see them home for a day, with rich presents and their caresses.
Shortly after, a simple courier came to announce to the French monarch that twelve knights of Great Britain had crossed the sea, and that after having stayed some time in Calais, disdaining to submit to accepted customs, they had taken the side , not only not to appear at court, but even to undertake nothing that could oblige them to send a herald there, and to receive any sort of permission from a prince whom they did not recognize as king of France, since he was the son of Philippe de Valois, to whom their master had vainly disputed the crown. To this end, the Breton knights had only erected a parade ground on the confines of their territory, and had a porch erected where their twelve emblazoned shields were attached near the tents where the Bretons were to wait for those of the French knights who would be bold enough. to touch these crowns.
This news excited the indignation of French chivalry, and rekindled that species of animosity between the two nations which for a long time nothing could extinguish. The French, however, then plunged into the deepest ignorance, would perhaps have needed to imitate their neighbors, who were beginning to learn, and whose several authors already deserved to be tasted. But the English would have needed still more to conform to the amenity of French manners, to bring less injustice and greed into their commerce, to show less ferocity in their turbulent and factious genius, which, under the appearance of freedom, led them to civil wars, where the most illustrious blood of their nation unceasingly flooded the scaffolds, which made them even more dangerous against each other in the interior of their government, than formidable. in the wars which they undertook without any legitimate reason against their neighbours.
A large number of knights obtained permission to go and repress their pride, and assembled, to the number of twelve, in the port of Ambleteuse, whence, without informing themselves of the number of their adversaries, they set out with that courageous confidence which never appreciates any danger, to go and touch the crowns of those who held this pas d'armes. They were almost all at a disadvantage in the first games, a kind of combat where the Breton nobility practiced constantly on the plains of Cramalot, in memory of Artus and the Knights of the Round Table. This humiliating news soon became known in Paris. King Jean cast his eyes on Saintré, and the honor of the nation seemed to him already avenged. Saintré, inflamed by the gaze of his master, kisses the knees of the monarch and flies to glory. To the motives which were to lead him was added the inclination of his natural modesty, which led him to punish the unbridled pride of an imperious nation jealous of his own. This feeling born in her heart had been constantly increased by seeing the unjust means she used to succeed in her designs.
He left accompanied by knights whose attachment and bravery he knew. Scarcely had he appeared near the steps when he touched the crowns; the Bretons came out of their tents fully armed, and, thinking they were marching against weak enemies, they were not afraid to show them the French shields knocked down and dragged in the dust (audacity accompanied by insulting remarks). Seized with just indignation, Saintré and his companions charged the Bretons with fury. These soon bent. The lances, the ax and the sword were equally fatal to them. Saintré knocked down five of them under the weight of his blows. They were finally forced to ask for thanks.
Saintré, having seized their shields and their banners, had those of the French raised and placed them on the steps with honor. He disdained to seize the horses; and, sending the Bretons back to Calais, he told them that he would keep the same steps for three days, ready to defend it against those who should come out of Calais to attack it. But the three days having elapsed without his seeing any Breton knight appear, he had the steps overthrown, and, returning in great days, he returned to Paris to the acclamations of a numerous people. The shields were placed at the king's feet. The monarch did not look long to find a reward worthy of the winner: the next day he had a brilliant assembly convened, and Saintré was received as a knight.
However, the military steps being, ordinarily, undertaken only by simple knights friends of adventures, these combats had neither the pomp nor the solemnity of the tournaments which kings and princes often gave, and which will make the subject of the following chapters.
Tournaments; their origin; regulations and ordinances; tournament preparations and forms.
The tournaments were military exercises in a list surrounded by spectators.
In France, in England, in Spain and other kingdoms and provinces of Europe, the kings and sovereign princes, on days of feasts and rejoicings, which took place at their marriages, at their coronations, at the baptisms of their children, when they were obliged to hold full court, and in several other remarkable circumstances, used to arrange tournaments, where, in equal numbers, knights fought against each other with courtly arms, that is to say with lances whose iron was rounded at the end, instead of being sharp and sharp, and with swords which were neither pointed nor sharp: thus the blows were much less dangerous.
King Philippe de Valois published several laws and ordinances affecting these tournaments; he specifically specified those who were to be excluded, as will be seen by the following articles, taken from one of these ordinances.
1° Quineonque of the nobles and knights will have said or done something against the holy catholic faith will be excluded from the tournament; and if he presumes, notwithstanding this crime, to be able to enter there to be descended from ancestors great lords, that he be beaten by the other gentlemen and thrown out by force.
2° Whoever will not be noble of at least three paternal and maternal races, and who will not publish the certificate of the arms he carries, will not be admitted to the number of combatants.
3° Anyone who is accused and convicted of a belied faith will be shamefully excluded from the tournament, and his weapons will be knocked down and trampled under foot by the officers of arms.
4° Whoever has committed or said something against the honor of the king, his sovereign prince, let him be beaten in the middle of the tournament and shamefully chased out of the barriers.
5° Whoever betrays his lord, or leaves him in battle, fleeing cowardly, stirring up trouble and confusion in the army, and striking maliciously and out of hatred those of his party, instead of attacking the enemy, when this crime is well proven, he will be exemplarily punished and expelled from the tournament.
6° Anyone who has committed any violent defeat or outrage of words against the honor and good reputation of ladies or damsels, girls or brides, will be beaten and expelled from the tournament.
7° Anyone who has falsified his seal or that of another, who has violated and infringed his oath, or who has sworn falsely, who has done some infamous act of himself, who has robbed churches, monasteries, chapels and other holy places, and who shall have profaned them, who shall have oppressed the poor, the widows and the orphans, or who shall have forcibly retained and taken away by force what belonged to them, in the place where he should give them, maintain them and keep them , let him be punished according to the laws, and expelled from the assembly of the tournament.
8° He who, having become an enemy of another, will seek the means to avenge himself on him by an extraordinary way and against honor, either by payment, burning of his houses, damage to his lands, his corn and his wines, by means of which the public receives damage and inconvenience, that it be chastised at the tournament and driven out in shame.
9° Whoever, by new inventions, will have imposed on his lands new impositions, without the permission of his sovereign lord, so that the merchants are ransomed and the commerce interrupted, both by water and by land, to the injury of the public , that he be publicly punished at the tournament.
10° Anyone who is attacked and convicted of adultery, or who is drunk or quarrelsome, will be shamefully expelled from the assembly of the tournament.
11° He who does not lead a life worthy of a true gentleman, living on his rents and feudal income, and on the benefits of his sovereign, and who gets involved in the traffic of goods, like the commoners, who indulges in doing evil to his neighbours, and thus renders the title of nobility contemptible and contemptible by his bad deportments, that in the middle of the tournament he is beaten with rods and shamefully chased away.
12° Anyone who is not at the meeting, having been notified, who, through avarice or other occasion, has married a commoner woman, will be excluded and foreclosed from the tournament.
Thus these tournaments were established not only to give a magnificent and royal entertainment to the spectators, but as noble assemblies where virtue was, so to speak, purified. The princes, by this rigorous severity, compelled the nobility to fulfill their duties, and obliged them to follow virtue and abstain from vice, by apprehension of the dishonor they would receive from it in public; the desire that the gentlemen had to be received in the rank of combatants made them honest people, and obliged them to flee all that could keep them away from it.
In these tournaments and combats at pleasure, it was absolutely forbidden to strike anyone with the point of the sword, but only the flat or the cutting edge, which was bent down and blunt, and this only from the belt upwards, the face excepted. A knight of honour, appointed by the ladies, was charged with preventing any of the combatants from being ill-treated and too harshly beaten; it was ordained that when the knight of honor touched someone with the sash or curfew which the ladies tied to him at the end of his spear, then the opponent of the one so touched would let him take his breath ; of this kind there rarely happened any accident.
The young novices, bachelors (bas-chevaliers), varlets or damoiseau who aspired to the order of chivalry, practiced with painted wooden swords, and jousted with planks of fir, so that the weakness of these weapons prevented them to hurt themselves.
All-out tournaments and fights were condemned by the Church. Popes Innocent and Eugene defended them, and, in their imitation, the Lateran Council, held at Rome in the year 1180, under the pontificate of Pope Alexander III. Innocent III renewed this prohibition; finally Pope Clement published a bull, in the month of October of the year 1313, under the reign of King Philip the Fair, by which any kind of combat was entirely forbidden, under penalty of excommunication. But, through the effect of the prejudices of false honor and vainglory, these defenses were too long violated.
The tournament was announced one or more months in advance, in France and in foreign countries; the heralds-at-arms went to the cities and the great castles, with the coat of arms of the lord in whose name the ban of the tournament was made, which was thus published with the sound of a trumpet: "Or oujez, or ouez, or ouez.
“Lords, knights and squires, all of you who, among the delights of fortune, hope for victory by the tempering of your arms, in the name of the good Lord and of the Blessed Virgin, we let you know the very great joust which will be struck and maintained by the very high and dreaded lord whose coat of arms you see, which joust will be open to all comers, and prowess will be sold and bought there in iron and steel. On the first day there will be combat with three strokes of the spear and twelve strokes of the sword, all on horseback, and carrying courteous weapons not tapered and half-edged. It is forbidden, as usual, between loyal knights, to strike the steed of his adversary, to strike him in the face, nor to cause a panic in his limbs, and to run after the cry of mercy. The prize for the best doer will be a plume fluttering at the slightest breath, and an enamelled gold bracelet, in the prince's livery, and weighing sixty crowns.
On the second day, the supporters will joust on foot and throw in stoppage; after the spears there will be an assault with axes and at the discretion of the judges of the camp: the prize for the most valiant will be a ruby of one hundred crowns and a silver swan.
The third day will see castile and behours(The behours, also called étour or behourdis, represented a real battle. The knights, after having gathered in squadrons, charged the lance in stop. Those whose lance was broken in this first shock fought sword in hand, sought to overthrow their adversaries, to wrest their shields, their helmets, their swords, and even to take them prisoner.)
half of the horsemen will fight against each other; the victors will take prisoners, whom they will bring to the feet of the ladies; the prize will be full armour, and a palfrey with his golden coat.
You therefore who wish to twirl, are required to go to... (here was indicated the place of the tournament) four days before the games, to expose your coats of arms to the palaces, abbeys and other buildings near the lists. Here is what the Royal Ordinance announces to you. (The herald was reading tournament laws and ordinances.)
These publications were very frequent in time of peace; for the tournaments, snatching the French nobility from idleness, exercising them in the handling of steeds and arms, kept alive in all hearts the martial ardor which a long rest would have quenched.
The place of the tournament was usually chosen near a large city, which had a river and a forest in the vicinity. The base of the camp was to be such that the town formed in a way one of the long sides of the enclosure, and the forest another; the two extremities were closed with wooden barriers like lists; outside were hung the flags of the leaders of the tournament.
Tournaments were hardly less remarkable for their accessories than for their main object; the luxury of the carriages and finery, the beauty of the feasts and the balls, in a word, the magnificence of these famous games must have electrified industry, commerce, the arts, by bringing back to all classes of the people a gold that the feudalism had raised them to the top ranks of society.
The tournaments, to which troubadours and minstrels went, in order to sing the winners there in their ballads and their tensons, became for these romantic Pindars a motive for emulation, the frequency of which must perhaps have contributed to the rebirth and the taste for letters (Memoirs of the Academy of Belles-Lettres).
We can also add to the praise of these kinds of exercises, that by attracting to France by their fame all the lords of foreign courts, and thus multiplying our relations with the neighboring peoples, they created for us among them a reputation for courtesy. and bravery, the superiority of which our enemies and even our rivals have never dared to contest.
It was not only the king of France and the sovereign princes who had the tournaments published; the nobles of the court, and even simple knights, sometimes enjoyed devoting part of their income to it. These parties were often intended to help celebrate a happy event, a memorable anniversary.
Frequently an opulent suzerain invited the bravest of the French knights to a tournament, to grant the hand of his daughter to the victor.
As soon as the heralds-at-arms had published the ban of the tournament, all the lords, the valiants and their ladies prepared to go to the place indicated; they came there from all the provinces, and even from foreign countries; for several days the roads were covered with caravans, squires leading fine steeds in the dexters, jugglers and jokers; gentlemen were also to be seen on all sides, falcons in hand, followed by pages and valets; richly adorned women, holding in one hand the silken reins of their hackneys, and in the other their transparent parasols; then came companies of two hundred people, working short days and spending a great deal of money. It was the nobility of a whole province gathered in part merry to go to the tournament in uniform costume; thus, for example, the two sexes wore white garments embellished with gold, or scarlet garments embroidered in silver, letting themselves be known in the monasteries and hostelries where they stopped, only under the simple name of white company. or company to the rich color.
There were great lords under the designation of red count, green baron, black prince, because they went to the tournament with armor of these colors. These surnames, held to be honorable in that they proved their admission to the tournament, were faithfully preserved among their contemporaries, and even in history, where illustrious personages stole their family names under such denominations.
The knights arrived at the lists hastened, in accordance with the advice they received, to exhibit, before the opening of the jousts, their helmets, their emblazoned shields, their decorations, on the most visible walls and the closest to the field. of the tournament.
Here is how an ancient author recounts in his naive language the preparations and form of a tournament:
“The fashion and ceremony of tournaments was for the king or prince to send a herald, accompanied by two pursuers-at-arms or two damsels, carrying his shield and coat of arms to the king or prince against whom he was to test, with a cartel containing his will, which was to desire to make a tournament with him for the high name of his prowess and virtue, in such a place, for prizes and honors of knights and pleasures and soulas of ladies...
“The prince appellant presented himself for a long time before, in gay reception, the knights who arrived to support his party, assisting them with all that mestier was to them. The knights of the highest state wore such colors and coats of arms as they pleased on their arms, except for a few small marks of the prince for whom they fought; the lesser knights wore only those of the prince; no banners unfurled except those who were chiefs of bands; which most often were divided into three battles, according to their number, divided into three equal parts, and at the last one put the best knights, so that, by their virtue, the effort would be better sustained, and the end of the fight defeated.
“The accepting party presented himself only three or four days before the time, and lodged on the opposite side of the town, because he was not allowed to enter the enclosure of the walls until after the tournament.
“The scaffolds of the ladies to watch were planted at the place where the two lists came to end, which were commonly in front of the walls of the city where the first meetings of the combatants were addressed; and opposite there was no fence other than a river or a forest.
“In each list, there were three large and very spacious gates, through which the knights entered the camp, six by six, to line up in battle under their ensigns.
“Each rider could go and visit his friends at his pleasure, before the day of the tournament had expired; but not the princes, except in disguised dress; which was also allowed to officers-at-arms, damsels and jailers on both sides, until the eve of the tournament; for then inhibited and forbidden all to leave their places, without the command of the prince whom they served.
“On the day before, all the damsels who aspired to the order of chivalry all ranged themselves together, being the day before all dressed in the same livery, and dined near the table of their lords, according to the order and dignity of each; afterwards they went to hear vespers, in the company and conduct of the old knights.
"The prince then amicably admonished them as they should keep faith and loyalty in all things, revere the Church, support widows and orphans, haunt wars, expose themselves with arms for right and reason until victory or death ; to honor nobility, to love valiant men, to be gentle and gracious to the good, and proud to the wicked.
“This done, they returned to the church, where they watched devoutly all night until morning, when the Mass of the Holy Spirit was celebrated.
“After which, having rested a little in their lodgings, they accompanied the prince to high mass, walking in front of him two by two, each seated in the chair assigned to him by the master of ceremonies; Immediately the epistle was sung with the benedictions customary in such cases, the prince gave them the accolade, girded their swords, and certain knights shod their spurs; from there, they went to sit down in their first places, and, the sacrifice finished, they led the prince back to his pavilion, where they dined in the manner of the preceding day.
“At the hour of the nuns the horns sounded for the evening tournament, and they appeared in pairs at the camp, armed, dressed, and richly mounted; but none of them was permitted to wear a shield, except of a simple color or metal, nor to gird a sword, but only to have a spear of short-headed fir, tip polished nor sharp, and so each of his aside, running and breaking their spears until evening when the horns sounded the retreat; then they went to disarm and dress sumptuously, returned to supper, where they were received and caressed by the prince, according to their merit, and whoever was judged to have done the best was seated at his table, even feasted and praised incessantly. .
“At dawn, the hearing mass, lunched those who had the will; at prime time, all the combatants in arms showed up in camp under their banners.
“At the tournament, each wore such motto as he pleased, provided that he showed some little signal from the prince under whom he marched, except those who appeared and who did not want to be known.
“The ladies were reduced to ez hourts or scaffolds, accompanying the great princesses, where they were led covered by their own parents.
“This so ordered, and the signal given by the horns and whelks, the first ranks of knights entered the camp, where many fine blows were being made; and many knights were cut down, so long as one of the battalions went to ruin, if it were not relieved and supported by another new comer; and as many others did, according to need, multiplied, strengthening from band to band, and improving in power, so that all mingled together in battle, it was a wonderful thing to see, that the effort and virtue of each to defend their own honor and conquer others. Now, no time did one party seem to have defeated the other, then entered the most valiant unknown knights, who helped the most trodden and oppressed so much, that they put victory in their hands, if by others newly arrivals they were again overthrown at any final; so much so that on one side and on the other most often changing fortunes, the victors saw themselves vanquished, and the cry of the people fell on these foreign knights, saying: He with such a coat of arms always wins.
“Finally, the party which was totally broken and defeated abandoned the camp and fled into the forest without appearing again, except one by one, on foot and disarmed; and the victors, without leading
hands in act of joy and jubilation, all rallied under their banners.
“Often it happened that the unknown knights departed, though victorious, so eagerly from the tournament, that no one, except by conjecture, could judge who they were; for this reason many set out on a quest to find them and lead them back to the prince's court, to be received by him and recognized with great honor.
“It is true that sometimes, the tournament ended, it was open to the vanquished party to call for a new fight the next day or on another day that he advised, provided that the assembly had not yet been divided and returned to their houses.
“On the third day, the princes parted, never in great friendship, other times with some bitterness in their courage, but well covered, on the occasion of which the tournaments were often renewed, so much so that few months were spent without to do so, and the good knights were for this cause so prized and caressed at that time, that many were more honored and esteemed there than the princes themselves; which was the cause of producing so many valiant and bold knights to arms” (La Colombière, Théâtre d’honneur et chevalerie.). »
There exists in the national library a manuscript entirely written by the hand of René d'Anjou, king of Jerusalem, on the form and manner of pleasure tournaments. This treatise, one of the most complete that has been composed on this subject, and written by a prince who himself took great pleasure in this sort of entertainment, gives a precise explanation of the customs which preceded the tournaments. The scope of this treaty does not allow us to report it in full, moreover several of its provisions are already inserted in this chapter; we will therefore content ourselves with giving here a brief analysis, and a few extracts which will suffice to make known the style of this prince, a true troubadour knight.
The author first establishes in principle that whoever wants to give a tournament must be some prince, or at least a high baron or banneret. He then goes into detail of the ceremonies by which the calling prince will send the tournament cartel to the defending prince; it indicates how the election of the judges-sayers must be made, the form and the mode of the proclamations, etc. Passing then to the costume and to the arms which the knights or squires-tournoyers will have to wear, he describes them with the most circumstantial details: We will relate some of them.
"First the stamp must be on a piece of boiled leather, which must be well felted with a sword finger at least on the inside, and must contain the entire top of the helmet, and will be covered with a lambrequin, emblazoned with the arms of the wearer; and on the said lambrequin, at the highest of the summit, will be seated the stamp, and around it will be a tortil of the colors that the said tower wills.
drowner, with the big of the arm, or more or less to his pleasure.
“Item, the helm is shaped like a bascinet or a capeline, except that the visor is otherwise.
"Item, the harness of the body is like a cuirass or like a foot harness called a tonnelet, and also one can, if one wants, twirl in brigandines, but in a way a wide and ample harness, that one can put under a doublet or corset, and that the doublet must be felted with three sword fingers, on the shoulders and along the arms, up to the collar and on the back, so that the blows of the hammer and swords descend more willingly in the above-mentioned places than in other places.
“The sword must be four fingers wide, so that it cannot pass through the gratings of the visor; it must have both edges a finger wide, and, to make it lighter, it must be hollowed out in the middle; it must have, including the handle, only the length of the arm. The mass will have the same length, and will be furnished with a small washer well nailed in front of the hand to guarantee it.
“The size of the masses and the weight of the swords will be ascertained by the judges the day before the day of the tournament; they will affix a mark to them with a hot iron, so that they are not outrageously heavy or long.
“The shorter spurs are more suitable than the long ones, so that they cannot be torn or twisted off the feet in the press. The coat of arms must be made like that of a herald, with the reservation that it must be without folds by body, so that one knows better what the weapons are. »
There follows a long description of the armament and equipment in use in tournaments in Brabant, Flanders, Hainaut and in the countries beyond the Rhine. He then goes on to the manner of establishing the lists, and to the entry of the tournament players into the city where the tournament is to take place.
“The lists should be a quarter longer than wide, and the height of a man or a fathom and a half of strong staves and square poles two across. Both down to the knee should be doubled. Another list outside, four paces near the other first lists, to refresh the servants on foot and save them from the press, and inside there must stand armed men, appointed by the judges to guard the whirlers from the crowd of the people; and as for the size of the place of the lists, they must be made large and small, according to the number of whirlers and by the opinion of the judges.
“Here is how the tournoyeurs must enter the city where the tournament is to take place: first the princes, lords or barons who wish to display their banners at the tournament must be accompanied, for their entrance, by the greatest number of knights or squires they can fix.
“The steed of the prince, lord or haron, leader of the other knights and squires who accompany him, must be the first on entering the city and covered with the motto of the lord, and four escutcheons of these arms on the four limbs of the horse; the feathered head of ostrich feathers, and on the collar the collar of bells, a very small page all on the back or saddle, and after the said steed must enter those of the other knights and squires of his company, two by two, or each for themselves at their pleasure, having all ways, their arms in four limbs of their horses, and after the said steeds shall go the horning and sounding trumpets and minstrels, or other instruments, as they please, and then after their heralds or pursuers, having their coats of arms vestu, and after them, the said knights and squires wheeling, with their retinue of all other people.
"As soon as a lord or baron has arrived at the accommodation, he must make his coat of arms a window, and to do this, have the heralds and pursuers put in front of his dwelling a long board attached to the wall, on which are painted the coats of arms, and at the upper window of his house will have his banner displayed hanging over the street; to do this, the said heralds and pursuers must have four parisian sols for each coat of arms and banner, and are required to provide nails and ropes.
“The judge-tellers must enter as follows: first they must have before them four sounding trumpets, each of them bearing the banner of one of the judge-tellers; after the four trumpets, four pursuers each wearing a judges' coat of arms, armored like the trumpets; then must go alone the king-at-arms, having on his coat-of-arms the piece of cloth of gold, velvet or crimson satin, and above it the parchment of coats of arms.
"And after the said king of arms must go peerage to peerages two knights judge-sayers, on handsome palfreys covered each of his weapons to the ground, and must be dressed in long robes, the richest possible, and the squires after them similarly. Each of the judges must have a man on foot having his hand on the bridle of the steed, and must each have a white rod in his hand, the length of them, which they carry straight upstream, which rod they must carry on foot and on horseback throughout the party. And it should be noted that the appellant lord and the defendant lord are required to send before the said judge-tellers, as soon as they have arrived, each one of his hosts with their finance people, who will take care of cause and pay for all that shall be deemed necessary for the said judges.
Then come the instructions on how the judges must proceed with the examination and verification of the coat of arms, and pronounce the exclusion from the tournament against those who find themselves in one of the cases cited by the ordinance of which we have spoken. .
On the eve of the day fixed for the opening of the tournament, the calling lord will make his watch (review), following which the judges-sayers will make the tournamentrs pronounce the oath, the formula of which will be proclaimed by the herald in the following manner :
“High and mighty princes, lord barons, knights and squires, please, each and every one of you will raise your dexter hands to the saints, and all together will promise and swear by the faith and oath of your bodies and on your honor that none of you will strike said tournament either thrusting or also from the downstream belt in any way whatsoever; and on the other hand, if by chance the helm falls off someone's head, no one else will touch it until it has been put on and laced; by submitting, if otherwise do to your will, to lose armor and steed, and be shouted out of the tournament for another time; to keep also the said and ordinance in all and by all, such as my lords the judges-sayers will order the punishment of the delinquents, and so you swear and promise by the faith and oath of your body and on your honor. »
To which they will reply: “Yes, yes. »
"This done, the defendant will enter the lists, to make his watch, which will take place in the same way as for the calling lord. »
All these preliminaries are followed by rest, after which the King of Arms announces the fixed hour of the tournament for the following day, in the following manner: Or oyez, or oyez, or oyez.
"High and powerful princes, counts, lords, barons, knights, squires who are gone to the tournament, I let you know from my lords the judges-sayers, that each part of you will be in the ranks tomorrow at noon, in arms, and ready to twirl; for, at one o'clock in the afternoon, the judges will cut the ropes to begin the tournament, at which there will be rich and noble gifts distributed by the ladies.
“Furthermore, I advise you that none of you should lead in the ranks valets on horseback to serve you, besides the quantity, that is to say four valets for prince, three for count, two for knight, and one for a squire; and varlets on foot, each for his own pleasure. »
We then proceeded to the election of the knight of honor, who was chosen by the ladies: he was, as we have said, a mediator, charged with preventing the effects of too great anger, and with removing a fighter too weak to the violence of a victor irritated by the resistance of his adversary, or blinded by the ardor of the fight and the joy of triumph. The knight of honor also had to prevent the excessive beating of anyone who was condemned, according to the laws and regulations, to receive this punishment and to be expelled from the assembly. The sign of this authority was a headgear given to him by the ladies, and which for this reason was called thank you ladies.
Big tournaments. — Distribution of prizes.
In the previous chapter we saw everything related to the preparations and the form of the tournaments, up to the very eve of the feast. Here we are going to bring together all that usually happened in the great tournaments or royal tournaments; we will still follow M. de Marchangy in this part, and, with such a conductor, we are sure of not getting lost.
From the morning of the day fixed for the tournament, the squires entered the knight's apartment at lacing time. The latter, after having put on the gaubisson and the coat of mail, goes to the dressing room. There, on marble tables and richly carved seats, are scattered confusedly the cloaks, the ermine, the menu-vair, the belts, the feathers, the brazen morions, the handlebars, the tortils, the lambrequins and a thousand other war facings.
Meanwhile the sound of the horn and the bugles is heard, the religious bronze shakes in the towers, the steeples, the basilicas, and fills the air with its solemn vibrations. The heralds-at-arms go crying on all sides: Lace up the helms, lace up the helms, that is to say, Knights, arm yourselves! A huge population circulates in festive clothes in the streets strewn with flowers and hung with draperies and foliage figures.
At dawn, thousands of spectators lined up on the heights overlooking the lists; the neighboring hillsides are covered with pavilions and tents, from which float banners, plumes of bright colors and garlands of roses.
The vast site intended for the lists is surrounded by high steps, circular amphitheatres, elegant porticoes surmounted by galleries, balustrades, trefs or boxes in light framework, the edges of which are decorated with rich draperies and escutcheons.
Above each box, four lances support purple draperies with gold fringes; there, cradles woven with greenery protect the ladies and damsels who come to watch these games from the sun's rays.
From distance to distance, tall masts erected in the quarry are laden with placards, banners, inscriptions on which one reads these words: Honor to the sons of the valiant prizes and los to the best doing! Those of the lords who must not fight come in litter, dressed in long ermine robes with reversed collars.
However, the knights arrive from all sides; some excite the acclamations of the marveling crowd by the magnificence of their costume and their numerous cortege; the others, dressed in black or covered with burnished weapons, come unescorted and stop aside: they are motionless in their somber attitude; only the impatient steeds, digging in the earth and waving their manes, at intervals make the light panache of these paladins quiver.
Their shield is enveloped in a cover, and the coat of arms thus hidden will appear to the gaze only through the notches with which the blows of sword and lance will riddle this veil; only then will the spectators learn which valiant knight has appeared to them.
Several troops of combatants dressed in the ancient style present themselves under the names of the valiant Cyrus, Alexander, Caesar, Knights of the Phoenix, of the Salamander, of the Temple of Glory, of the Palace of Felicity. Those who took pleasure in reproducing the heroes of King Artus or Charlemagne were the most numerous; they bore the colors and mottos of Lancelot, Tristan, Roland, Ogier, Renaud, Olivier, in short, of all the fabulous heroes to whom the imagination lent a sort of reality, taking pleasure in bringing these brave men to life in our valiant knights, well worthy by their virtues and their courage to replace their predecessors.
On hearing them announced under these adoptive names, the multitude, struck by their nobility and their bellicose bearing, letting themselves be led by degrees into prestige and illusion, ended by confusing, in their admiration, these knights with the heroes whose novels by Chretien de Troyes, Adènes le Roi, Huon de Villeneuve, and the good Archbishop Turpin had taught them about adventure.
The number of knights increased every moment; the circumference of the lists was bristling with lances, among which floated the banners, the gonfanons, as one sees through the ears of a vast field the swaying poppies and cornflowers.
But the most singular sight, especially for the spectators seated in the galleries, was the diversity of the crests. Some carried dragons, chimeras whose mouths threw flames, heads of boars, heads of lionesses, lions, bulls, sphinxes, eagles, swans, centaurs, a Cupid throwing arrows, a savage and his club, a tower, a circle of battlements, and a thousand other simulacra, all formed of the most precious metals, or painted with the most vivid colors. Plumes, aigrettes, sheaves of gold, roses and crowns of lilies adorned many of these crests.
In this multitude of knights are those famous characters whose adventures poets and novelists will one day relate. There will be found those who were born with mysterious signs, on which necromancers and astronomers consulted predicted illustrious fates for the newborn.
There one will see the young lords whom a good servant saved from the burning palace of their fathers, or who, stolen from the criminal hatred of a stepmother, were brought up in the depths of the forest by a deer or a wolf; there show themselves sad and discouraged the lovers languishing under the influence of a secret philtre; on going to the places where a soothsayer pointed out to them the fountain of indifference, they stop at the tournament, hoping to die there, or at least to find glory there if not happiness.
There are those who were seen putting an end to perilous adventures, and emerging triumphant from the traps of the castle of Douloureuse-Garde, the castle of Blanche-Épine, the castle of Ile-Étrange, the prison at the Quatre-Dames, the Forêt-Gâtée, the Perron-Dangereux, the Lit-Adventureux, the Castel des Sept-Donjons, the grotto of Sibylle the enchantress, the garden of the Queen of Sobestan, and twenty other greatly feared places (Jordan de Blave.—M. de Tressan.—P. Menestrier).
There appear men whose magnanimous virtue refused the crown from the hands of the people whom they had freed from a shameful tribute, and delivered from the frightful despotism of a usurper.
There are the brothers in arms who drank their mingled blood from the same cup, swearing to defend themselves and to love each other always.
Companions in all fortunes and perils, they love each other with their bodies and their possessions, save their honour, and love each other in such a way that one is always with the other, and that together they will rush the fortune (Hardouin de la Joaille, Boutillier, etc.). They carry similar weapons, and their hearts, animated by a holy friendship, do not ask Heaven for other feelings.
Here also come the adventurers, without patrimony and without birth, seeking, under the name of bachelors, opportunities to exercise their courage; they carry white shields, and victory alone must engrave coats of arms there; their motto is: Honor and triumph over all.
We also see the servants of love, voluntary slaves of beauty, with grips, chains, ribbons. Several of them had one eye covered with a cloth, having promised not to see through that eye until they had accomplished any feat (Froissard, ckap. xx.).
Suddenly redoubled the noise of the fanfares, the sound of the bells, the cry of Montjoie and Saint-Denis! It is the king who advances with all his court. Heralds-at-arms open the march two by two, carrying the caduceus or the branch of peace. Their foreheads are girded with strips and wreaths of oak; they are dressed in a drapery embellished with gold in the form of a sleeveless dalmatic. On their chest appears an enamel plate colored with the coat of arms of their province. Their person is inviolable; they can cross the field of battle without fear, approach enemy leaders, bring to them in the name of the peoples words of hatred and revenge, proclaim war, peace or truces, announce and regulate tournaments, ceremonies of inaugurations and great investitures, share the earth and the sun of the lists with the combatants, and put a brake on their ardor.
They are the regulators of court precedence and etiquette, the archivists of titles of nobility, the masters of coats of arms, the painters of coats of arms, the poets of monuments and tombs, sometimes also the naive rhymes of the heroic deeds of warriors.
After the heralds walks the king of arms of France surnamed Montjoie, accompanied by marshals, pursuers and varlets; nothing equals the magnificence of his attire: he is dressed in a coat of violet velvet with three fleur-de-lis embroidered in pearls on the left side, and over it a scarlet tunic lined with menu-vair and decorated with a wide embroidery of rubies mixed with sparkles.
After the king-at-arms follow the estafiers, covered with black hiccups, embroidered in pearls or in brilliant jet; behind them, six white horses drag a chariot representing that of the Sun driven by Phaeton; Dawn and the Seasons surround it. A hundred other officers in the same costume precede a chariot larger than the first, and drawn by bulls. In front of this rolling machine, on which rose rocks and trees, advanced a troubadour representing Orpheus with his lyre.
After these curious parades and several others which, according to the expression of an old historian, gave birth to many mysterious and witty things (Froissard, ckap. xx.), parade thirty bannerets. Each of them is followed by fifty albalesters, and carries before him a high banner, the prerogative of his power. All have large fiefs and a considerable number of vassals. They owe to their birth and to the extent of their domains the honor of carrying banners in the royal armies; but the glory of bringing it back is the task of their courage. Often, on their return, these high and valiant lords, their arm in a sling and holding their banner in their left hand, had joined to this victorious standard the flags and ensigns of the enemy.
Following the bannerets are the judge-tellers, dressed in long robes and holding a white rod. Foot valets pass around the arm the bridle of their steeds.
Between these rows we see the king's tambourines, fifes and trumpets, dressed in crimson and white damask.
Then afterwards, the princes' squires in tunics of taffeta or white satin, embroidered in silver, with blue silk sleeves laced with gold, and their caps shaded with white and blue feathers.
Then scroll the pages, of which a light down barely cottons the chin; they wear the liveries of their masters, covered with jewelry.
Finally the king appears, surrounded by the princes of the blood, the dukes, the great dignitaries, the constable, the cupbearer, the baker, the knight of honor, the officers of falconry, of hunting, all dressed in woolen cloth. gold and crimson velvet, and bearing the marks and symbols of their offices.
Courtly horses have their heads and manes covered with bushy ostrich feathers; a necklace of silver bells surrounds the collar.
The king has a white tunic or robe strewn with gold fleur-de-lis; his white steed is adorned with a cover of celestial blue velvet, trailing to the ground, and similarly strewn with gold fleur-de-lis (Fargy, liy. III, p. 618. — Beneton, Traite des Marques Nationales).
“Near the monarch rides a squire carrying a vermilion lance painted with stars of fine gold, and at the end of it floats a standard also adorned with stars of fine gold. »
This standard had changed color several times since the origin of the monarchy under the first and the second race, the French raised for national ensign the blue banner, or the cope of Saint Martin; during the first reign of the third dynasty, public devotion caused the red ensign or oriflamme of Saint Denis to prevail; in the time of Charles VII, the white cornette strewn with golden fleur-de-lis was adopted.
After the king unfolds the queen's procession, closed by sergeants-at-arms, archers and policemen. He circles the lists twice; everyone lines up according to the usual ceremonial. When the king and queen have taken their places in the middle balcony, the king-at-arms comes forward and shouts aloud: “Or oyez, or oyez, or oyez.
“My lords the judges pray and request between you my lords the whirlers, that no one strike another with thrust or backhand, from the waist down, as you have promised, and that none of you will strike out of hatred on none more than the other, if it were not on any who for his demerits was recommended. "Besides more, I give you notice that since the trumpet has sounded the retreat and the gates will be open to dwell longer on
ranks, no one will win the right-of-way after the said sonnade (Manuscript of King René of Anjou). After this last proclamation, the twirlers are given a little space, as the length of seven palms or thereabouts, to get themselves in order; this done, the judges of the camp raise their white rods, crying: Cut the ropes, and let the good fighters go. Immediately soldiers armed with axes cut the cables stretched in front of each file of knights in order to moderate the ardor of their horses. The trumpet sounds, the barrier is opened, and from opposite ends hasten up, to the sound of fanfares and making the sign of the cross, two quadrilles of knights. They collide towards the middle of the list, and the eight spears fly to pieces: the combatants, motionless for a moment, gaze at each other through the grids of their visors, then move away and return with other weapons which still break. on the shields and breastplates of their adversaries. Twelve times the quarry is delivered to their flight, and twelve times, in their lightning attacks, they break like a fragile crystal the wood of their strong spears.
Each time they return to take up the field, passing along the amphitheatres, they greet the ladies with gestures and voices. The tutors shout to their pupils to excite them: Gold to them, gold to them. Friends, relatives, a thousand spectators pronouncing themselves for this or that knight, despite the ordinances, exhort him and inflame him as he passes by repeating his motto or his battle cry, his wishes, his exploits, his birth and anything that can electrify his soul. During this journey, its value increases by what it sees and what it hears, just as the torrent, after having swelled in its course by a hundred streams, arrives foaming and roaring towards the dyke opposite its waves.
The son of the valiant, becoming superior to himself, believes himself invincible, and feels within him a strength which has not yet been tested. Pressing his shield against his chest, brandishing his sword or his axe, he renews a more furious combat; sometimes lying on the mane of his steed, sometimes leaning back, he avoids or strikes terrible blows; the eye hardly follows its rapid movements, and its sword, in the same instant, shines and strikes in a hundred places.
The arena is strewn with debris; the plumes, the scarves, the necklaces fall under the edge of the iron; soon stripped of their distinctive trappings, paladins are reduced to shapeless, dusty armor.
However, after displaying their strength and skill for whole hours, most of the knights have been put out of action, and of all the competitors only two still remain in the lists, prolonging a struggle between them all the more glorious because the conqueror was going to unite on his forehead the palms gathered by his predecessors, and wrap in his glory the glory of his rivals.
This signal success is proclaimed by trumpets and cries raised to the clouds.
The vanquished empties the pommel, and falls into the dust; humiliated, confused, he cries out to his adversary to take his life; but the generous victor brings back to the paladin his steed which rears in the arena, and says to him with an affable air: “Noble sire, forbid to God that I strike to death so good a knight as you are; I would not do it for the best city that the great Charlemagne had in his time. Although the game is not turned to your liking, you have today conquered the high name of prowess; I do not say it, dear sire, to praise you, but out of full conscience; and if I have conquered, thanks are due to the goodness of my arms and my steed. So please take this bracelet for my sake, and wear it for a year and a day. Let this adventure take nothing away from your gaiety; tomorrow you may be victorious in your turn. »
It is thus that the courtesy and generosity of the knights made their glory loved and forgiven; thus not only those whom they had vanquished consoled themselves for their passing disgraces, but also became the faithful friends and companions of their adversaries.
The next day and the following day, the same influx of spectators, the same apparatus, the same ardor on the part of the competitors; nevertheless, the kinds of combat were varied. The first day was ordinarily reserved for jousting, that is to say, knight-to-knight throwing spears; but the other two days, devoted to more important exercises, under the names of pas d'armes, castilles, fights with the crowd and behours or games of pleasure, offered a lively and perfect image of the most perilous scenes of war as the simulated attack on a bastion, the scaling of a rampart, the defense of a defile, the crossing of a river, the meeting of two parties in the miner's underground passage. More often still, all the knights fighting at once gave an exact idea of the tumult of a battlefield.
Finally came the time to award the prize to the winner. The heralds-at-arms and the marshals of the camp went to collect the opinions of the assistants and mainly of the ladies, then came to make an impartial report of them to the prince who presided over the feast. Then the judge-sayers named the winner aloud, the heralds named him in turn, and this usage was the origin of the word fame.
No sooner have these glorious names been made known than bells, kettledrums, flutes,
the trumpets, the songs of the troubadour, the trouvère, the minstrel, fill the air at once with the sounds and chords of joy; they hurry, they run to contemplate the heroes as they pass, going to the feet of the queen to be crowned by her. Everyone congratulates them, applauds them, wishes to touch the glorious arms with which, like sacred monuments, the vaults of temples will soon be adorned. From the top of the balconies, flowers are thrown with both hands on these brave warriors carried in triumph, in the arms of the eager crowd, up to the royal balcony. The queen, taking from the hands of her august husband the crown or rosary of honor, gives it to the conqueror prostrate before her; then the king said to him:
"Sir Knight, for the great effort that everyone has seen you make today, and for good reason that by your prowess your party was victorious, by the consent of all the best, with the will of the ladies, the prize and los you is adjudged, as to him to whom the good right belongs. The knight replies humbly: "My very honored lord (or sovereign, if he were his subject), I give you infinite thanks, and to the ladies and knights present, for the honor that you have refer me; and although I know that I have by no means won it, nevertheless, to obey your good commands and those of the ladies, since such is your wish, I take it and accept it (La Colombière, Theater of Honor and Chivalry). »
The moment when this happy warrior raises his head covered with laurels is the new signal for applause and acclamation. Joy, public intoxication are at their height; the victors, astonished, bewildered by this profusion of happiness, this concert of praise, seem to bend under the weight of honours. These brave men, whose courage a hundred times faced with a serene eye, with an unalterable brow, the dangers and death, cannot bear the excess of their felicity: some faint in the arms of their squires, others Others weep and smile like simple children, throw themselves on the bosom of their friends, of their compatriots, of all those finally who wish to see them and press them against their hearts.
However, the troubadours mounted in the galleries make this warrior song heard:
“Who is the gentle bachelor begotten in the midst of arms, nursed in a helm, cradled on a shield and fed on the flesh of a lion, falling asleep to the sound of thunder? He has the face of the dragon, the eyes of the leopard and the impetuosity of the tiger. In the fight he is drunk with fury, and discovers his enemy through the whirlwinds of dust; like the falcon sees its prey through the clouds. Swift as lightning, he knocks down the paladin from his steed, and his fist, like a club, can crush them both. To put an end to a great adventure, he will not need to cross the seas of England or the peaks of the Jura. In battle we flee before him, as light straw flees before the storm; in jousting, neither iron, nor platinum, nor spear, nor shield can withstand his blows. The broken swords, the breath of smoking horses, the pikes, the shattered hauberks, these are the spectacles and the festivals dear to his noble heart. He loves to travel the mountains and valleys to attack bears, wild boars and deer in the time of their love. While he sleeps, his helmet is his pillow. »
After the tournaments, the knight took off his armor, broken and soiled with dust, then, on leaving the bath, covered himself with a gallant coat called a jerkin, because, in fact, hugging the body, he drew without any crease all the contours of the waist and arms. This garment, of a graceful cut and of which our most ingenious milliners will never surpass the elegance, was generally of a bright and clear color, often of a pale yellow, enhanced by brilliant embroidery; it descended to above the knees, and although it appeared to be closed in the front like a tunic, it parted at the slightest movement, and left the gait with its ease and grace. Equally tight trousers, short ankle boots or colored boots, a belt of white silk with gold fringes and tastefully tied at the side, where it held the sword, sometimes a scarlet coat of sowing, the collar of which was richly embroidered, completed his costume. On his chest hung the orders of chivalry. The turned-down collar of her linen blouse left her neck uncovered, where her curly hair fell; for headdress he wore a velvet cap adorned with a feather floating behind.
It was in this costume that they awaited the pages responsible for leading them to the king's palace, where the banquet was being prepared.
In the brilliant salons of a polished and magnificent court, they in particular received even more flattering and more delicate praise.
The knights who had obtained prizes placed themselves near the king; but these heroes, so much admired, dare not raise their voices, for they remember the proverb that many a troubadour often repeats to them: A knight, do not doubt it, must strike high and speak low.
After the meal, the king and the princesses distribute beautiful dresses and liveries to the lords and ladies of the court, for then the honorable liveries were not confused with the liveries of servitude; cloaks of honor and morions of steel were also offered to knights. Often the back of the room opened up, and quadrilles executed, under various costumes, allegorical and rural ballets.
This account, although incomplete, can give an idea of what were the feasts of chivalry in the Middle Ages. “It is permissible to affirm it,” says M. de Marchangy, “the Greeks and the Romans offer nothing comparable to the brilliance and renown of our French tournaments. The Olympic games, the most famous ceremonies of the most famous people in the universe, cannot be equated with the feasts of our chivalry, or at least any parallel in this respect would be to our advantage.
“In our tournaments, knights were to use only courteous and graceful weapons, and they were expressly forbidden to strike in the face.
“In the battles of Olympia, on the contrary, the odious pugilism, the murderous cest broke the bones of the athletes and the wrestlers, and made their smoking brains gush out. Those who did not expire in the career remained crippled, or miserably dragged out a feeble and languid life.
“We know with what modesty and generosity the winner, in a tournament, uplifted and consoled the loser, and how the latter did justice to his noble rival. The organizers of the tournament even took the delicate precaution of planting the barriers near a forest, so that the knights disappointed by the fate of the arms could go under these shades to hide their pain and raise their visors without having witnesses of their tears; whereas, in the Olympic Games, the victor insulted the vanquished and trampled him underfoot, to the applause of a pitiless assembly.
“In the games of this people, among the winners were proclaimed kings or wealthy citizens who had not presented themselves in the arena, and whose sole merit consisted in sending to dispute prizes in their name. Thus were crowned Gelon and Hieron, kings of Syracuse, Arcbelaus and Philip, kings of Macedonia, and even simple individuals, such as Alcibiades.
“In our tournaments, on the contrary, if the dukes, the princes and also the kings received the prize, it was the forehead drenched in sweat and the armor covered with dust and broken up. This hero, dressed like a simple squire, overthrowing the knights in turn, raises his visor at the end of the joust, and we recognize a Louis de Bourbon, or René, King of Sicily, where Charles VIII, the courteous and the affable. »
Tournaments and jousting at the court of Burgundy.
The dukes of Burgundy competed for a long time in luxury, magnificence and power with the kings of France themselves. But it was especially under Philippe le Bon, this prince who instituted the famous order of the Golden Fleece, and who constantly made himself noticed by his chivalrous tastes, that the jousts, the pas d'armes, the tournaments were the most many and the brightest.
At the time of his marriage to Joan of Portugal, and the celebrations that followed, five knights of the King of France came to Arras, in favor of the truces, to ask the Duke of Burgundy for the honor of fighting in his presence. five knights of his obedience. The celebrated Poton de Xaintrailles, and Théaulde de Valperga, a Lombard knight, who had fought for a long time under the standard of the lilies, and who had especially made himself noticed during the siege of Orleans, shone among the knights of France; their companions were Philibert d'Abrecy, Guillaume de Ber and Estendard de Neuilly. The Duke of Burgundy granted their request; he appointed as their adversaries the knight Simon de Lalaing, so famous in the Flemish and Burgundian chronicles, the lord of Charny, Jean de Vaulde, Nicole de Menton and Philibert de Menton.
It was settled that these arms would last five days, during which a knight of France would fight each day a knight of Burgundy, and would break with him a determined number of lances. A large space or park was closed with palisades, and covered with sand; a kind of barrier called armpits was established in the middle of the list, which prevented the horses of the combatants from colliding, and the knights touching each other except with the end of the lance.
The duke came every day to be present, as judge, at these warlike games; he was placed on a magnificent scaffold, greatly accompanied by his chivalry and in noble apparel. A man-at-arms named Alard de Mouhi presented lances to French knights with a dexterity and skill that won him the highest praise. Jean de Luxembourg had undertaken the same care for the Burgundian knights.
Simon de Lalaing and Théaulde de Valperga appeared first in the lists, and for a long time caused their strength and their skill to be admired in turn. In the end, the Lombard knight received such a terrible shock from his adversary that he and his horse were knocked down.
The Burgundian chronicle is silent on the battles of Xaintrailles and Guillaume de Ber against Jean de Vaulde and Nicole de Menton; it thus gives reason to suspect that the issue was not glorious for the Knights of Burgundy. Xaintrailles especially was a breaker of lances to which Europe could oppose few adversaries.
On the fourth day, the lord of Charny, at the third stroke of his spear, brought his own into the visor of Philibert d'Abrecy, lifted it up and plunged the iron into his face. The French knight was carried away bathed in his blood, and "as if in peril of death."
On the fifth day, the Estendard of Neuilly, after having fought valiantly for a considerable time, and having broken several lances on the shield of Philibert de Menton, also received a spear blow in the face, which forced him to abandon the lists. to his opponent. "And was so seriously wounded, "that with great difficulty he could stand on his horse (Monstrelet).
The misfortune of these two knights is all the more difficult to conceive, as, as we have said, it was forbidden, by the law of tournaments and military steps, to strike his adversary elsewhere than between the four members. As it does not appear that the French complained on this subject, it must be supposed that the blows delivered by the Burgundian knights were regarded as involuntary blunders.
The Duke of Burgundy, moreover, treated the French knights honorably, and even made them several presents when they left his court, leaving their wounded companions at Arras, where they were there long enough to recover (Monstrelet.—Lebrun des Charmettes, History of Joan of Arc).
The marriage of Jean de Châlons (in 1443), son of the Prince of Orange, was another reason for celebrations for the Burgundian lords. On this occasion, the Sire de Charny resolved to have the finest joust that had been seen for a long time. He sent heralds at his own expense to all the kingdoms of Christendom, to issue the following challenge there:
"In honor of Our Lord and his glorious mother, of Madame Sainte Anne and of Monseigneur Saint Georges, I, Pierre de Beauffremont, Seigneur de Charny, etc., inform all princes, barons, knights and squires without reproach, except those of the kingdom of France and allied countries, that, to honor the very noble profession and exercise of arms, my will is, with the twelve knights or squires gentlemen in four quarters whose names follow: Thibaut, sire de Rougemont ; Guillaume de Beauffremont, Lord of Scey; Guillaume de Vienne, lord of Mombes; Jean de Valengin, Guillaume de Champs-Divers, Antoine de Vauldrey, Jean de Chaumergis, Jacques de Challant, Aimé de Ravenstein, Jean de Rupes, Jean de Saint-Charon, to keep a step of arms on the main road from Dijon to Auxonne , near the tree called Arbre de Charlemagne, in the arbor of Marcenay.
“Two shields, one black, strewn with golden tears, the other violet, strewn with black tears, will be hung on this tree. Those who have the heralds hit first will be required to take up arms on horseback with me or my knights.
“Whoever is carried down by a spear will give the victor a diamond as he pleases.
“Those who will have more pleasure in making arms on foot will touch the purple shield.
“Whoever, while fighting thus, puts his hand or knee on the ground, will be required to give the other a ruby of such value as he sees fit. If he is thrown down with his whole body, he will be a prisoner and will pay a ransom of at least fifty crowns.
"Any knight or squire who passes less than a quarter of a league from the Tree of Charlemagne will be required to touch one of the two shields, and will pledge his sword and spurs."
The conditions of the weapons were then carefully regulated, so that everything happened fairly.
The pas d'armes was to last forty days, beginning on July 12, 1443; it was done with the permission of the Duke of Burgundy, who had appointed the Count d'Etampes as judge.
This game was honored by the presence of the Dukes of Savoy and Burgundy, who traveled together to Dijon to attend.
A Spanish knight famous for these sorts of enterprises, whose name was Pierre Vasco de Saavedra, and who had already won great honor in similar tournaments at Cologne and in England, had received the two crowns, and was to be the first to win. combat.
The lists were magnificently adorned, the tents covered with the banners of the knights. Nothing equaled the richness of the armours, the harnesses, the clothing of the pages. The Dukes of Burgundy and Savoy attended the first day's battle between the Sire de Charny and Don Pierre de Saavedra, who fought on foot. Then Duke Philippe went to escort his noble cousin to Saint-Claude. But the arms enterprise continued in his absence and after his return. Everything happened there with courage and courtesy; all the champions showed so much strength and skill that, in spite of the fine blows they struck, none was vanquished. There was no other accident than a slight wound received by a Piedmontese lord named the Count of Saint-Martin, while jousting against the Sire Guillaume de Vaudrey.
The two shields had already been suspended from the Tree of Charlemagne for a month, and the term of the pas d'armes had not yet arrived. There were still two games to be played between the Comte de Saint-Martin and Guillaume de Vaudrey, between Don Diego de Vallière and Jacques de Challant. The duke summoned them, and told them that he was going to go to war with his knights, that his army had already entered the Luxembourg, that he begged them to be good enough, in his favor, to renounce their challenge, and that everyone had sufficiently honored himself in these tournaments. He made them handsome presents, and treated them with so much kindness that they thanked him on their knees. Then the supporters of the joust made an offering to the Blessed Virgin of the two shields of the Tree of Charlemagne, and hung them in the Church of Our Lady of Dijon (Lamaïche. — M. de Barante, History of the Dukes of Burgundy).
In the month of November 1445, the court of Burgundy was in Mons, displaying all the pomp and luxury which were ordinary to it. A squire named Galleotto Baltazin, chamberlain of the Duke of Milan, was seen arriving there, who was going from country to country, seeking feats of arms and renown. He was handsome, tall, of assured countenance, and had with him a retinue of about thirty horses. The Duke of Milan was an ally of Duke Philip, and had forbidden Lord Galleotto to provoke anyone in the States of Burgundy, without first having the consent of the Duke. He counted on going to England to seek adventure there, if he found no adversaries among the Burgundians. But he couldn't miss it. The Sire de Ternant, among others, had long wanted such an opportunity. He obtained permission from the duke to carry on a weapons business. He immediately began by wearing on his left arm, as a pledge of his enterprise, a lady's cuff in beautiful lace, well embroidered, suspended by a black and blue aiguillette from a bow of pearls and diamonds.
Toison-d'Or, the herald, then went to announce to Lord Galleotto that, if he wanted to be in the great hall at noon with the duke, he would see a knight there who was doing business. He did not fail; kneeling on one knee, he first asked the duke's permission; when it was granted, he advanced with a deep bow towards the Sire de Ternant. "Noble knight," he said, putting his hand to his arm, "I receive the pledge of your enterprise, and, to the pleasure of God, I will accomplish what you wish to do, either on foot or on horseback. The lord of Ternant thanked him humbly; the terms of the game were agreed upon; they were written and sealed. Lord Galleotto asked to return to Milan to complete his preparations, and the matter was fixed for the month of April, 1446, in the town of Arras.
The lists were prepared on the great square of this town: it was square and enclosed by a double enclosure of strong planks; the two gates were opposite each other, and the tent of each of the combatants was pitched there. That of Ternant was in black and blue damask, with the escutcheon of his arms; he had had it embroidered around it in large letters: I wish to have my desires satisfied, and never any other good. Lord Galleotto's tent was no less beautiful.
A richly upholstered stand had been prepared for the duke, in the middle of one side of the lists. Two hundred soldiers from the town of Arras were ranged in the passage left around the lists, between the two enclosures of planks. Eight men-at-arms, white staff in hand, stood in the lists to separate the combatants and carry out the Duke's orders. He arrived with his son, the Count of Charolais, the Count of Étampes, his nephews Adolphe de Clèves and the lord of Beaujeu, accompanied by a crowd of nobility. He descended the steps of his tribune and came to sit in front of the balustrade, holding his judge's baton.
Soon after, the Sire de Ternant appeared on horseback and fully armed, but his visor raised, revealing his proud brown face and his black beard. The Count of Saint-Pol and the Lord of Beaujeu had come to act as squires for him. It was remarked, not without some blame, that, contrary to the custom of every devout knight, he did not wear a streamer of devotion around his collar. He dismounted, approached the Duke's rostrum, and exposed his hold to him, then retired to his tent. The Lord Galleotto then entered the lists, jumped lightly from his horse, fully armed as he was, presented himself in his turn before the Duke, with the Count d'Étampes, who served as his squire, then went to his tent. .
For then the Sire de Humières, lieutenant of the Marshal of Burgundy, and fulfilling his office in his absence, appeared at the head of the kings-at-arms and the heralds. The publications and the prohibitions to do anything which could disturb or harm the combatants were shouted as usual; then he went to the tent of the Sire de Ternant to ask him for the arms which, according to the conditions, he was to furnish. Lord Galleotto chose one of the two spears presented to him by his adversary. A moment later, each combatant came out of his pavilion, fully armed and with lowered visor.
The Sire de Ternant first made a great sign of the cross, then put his lance to rest, and began to walk with a firm and powerful step, so that he sank a foot at each step in the sand whose the rail was covered. When Lord Galleotto had also made the sign of the cross, with his blessed streamer, all painted with images of devotion, he took his spear from the hands of the Count d'Étampes. He wielded it like an arrow, and began to run against his adversary in such a way that one would not have believed that he was covered with heavy armor. The two fighters met with their spears. Lord Galleotto broke his, and his helmet was bent from the blow dealt him by the Sire of Ternant.
The kings-at-arms arrived, and, with a cord which the marshal of the lists had measured, marked the seven paces from which each combatant had to retreat to begin thrusting a new spear. They returned to it thus up to seven times, always with marvelous strength and firmness, breaking their spears and deeply distorting their armor.
Then came the thrusting fights. The Sire de Ternant had changed his armour, and had taken a coat of arms of white satin embroidered in silver scales, as the nine warriors were represented in the tapestries of Arras. This combat was terrible; they broke their swords, they blew pieces of their armor, their iron gauntlets were broken: each time the pieces were readjusted which would have left the champions disarmed.
Then we brought axes. They were made in the form of a triple wood splitting wedge, and, according to the conditions of the fight, they had no points. Lord Galleotto first came upon his adversary with extraordinary force and vivacity; but the Sire de Ternant escaped the blow by passing aside; the ax falls empty; the Italian, already staggering from this false movement, received at the same moment a vigorous attack on the collar; it was believed that he was going to fall, but he regained his footing: the combat became animated, and Lord Galleotto began to squeeze closely and with such redoubled blows the Sire de Ternant, that it was thought for a moment that he was going succumb. However, both were still standing after the fifteen knocks.
A few days later the combat took place on horseback. Nothing was so rich as horse tack and armor, but each of the pieces that strapped Lord Galleotto's horse ended in a long steel spike. The duke immediately sent Toison-d'Or to tell him that this was against the custom of noble enclosed fields. He excused himself, and armed his horse differently.
The fight was with spear and sword. The Sire de Ternant had his spear in rest and his sword in his belt. The Italian held his spear in his right hand, his sword and bridle in his left hand. He avoided the shock of the spear, and, knowing the strength of his horse, he came to collide roughly with that of his adversary. In fact, he made him bend his hind legs, and the Sire de Ternant fell on his back. They thought him lost; but, without being disturbed, he raised his horse and himself. Immediately he raised his hand to draw his sword. In the movement, the belt was half broken, and the sword hung upside down. Unable to seize it, he took his bridle with his right hand; with his left he opposed his gauntlet to Sire Baltazin's sword, and sought to seize it by the blade. Finally the belt broke completely, and the sword fell on the sand. From then on, according to the conditions, it had to be returned to him. The fight began again more evenly; after a few blows, the Sire de Ternant succeeded in squeezing his adversary closely, and tried for a long time to make the point of his sword penetrate between the pieces of armor, at the wrist, at the bend of the arm, under the shoulder, at the joint of the helmet and the cuirass, at the belt. Sometimes we saw her enter with two fingers, but it was in vain; the armor was so well made, that it saved the Italian from all wounds. After quite a long time, the judge stopped the fight. It was a long time since we had seen one so beautiful and so rough. The two champions embraced by order of the duke; he seated Lord Galleotto at his table, and gave him the finest presents.
Some time before, and during the celebrations which took place on the occasion of a chapter of the Golden Fleece which the duke held in Ghent towards the end of the year 1445, there arrived from Italy a Sicilian knight, servant of Alphonse King of Aragon, whose name was Jean de Bonifazio. He asked the duke for permission to undertake an arms enterprise. Having obtained it, he appeared at court with his pledge, which was a gold yoke fastened to the left leg, and supported by a chain. It was who would receive this corporate pledge first. The duke gave preference to one of the bravest, most courteous, wisest lords of Flanders, whom everyone loved and esteemed in the first rank, young as he was, for he was only twenty-four years old. : it was the sir Jacques de Lalaing.
The lists were drawn up in the large Friday market. A richly ornamented tribune was prepared for the duke, judge of the fight, for the duke of Orleans and for the whole court, which was numerous and brilliant. At one of the gates of the enclosure was Messire Bonifazio's tent, of white and green silk. He left his tent, came to present himself before the duke, and returned to take his arms. The heralds were aloud warning the supporters to take up their armor: "Lace up, lace up," they cried.
Jacques de Lalaing entered by the opposite door, fully armed, with a coat bearing the coat of arms of his house, and the visor raised. His squires were Simon de Lalaing, his uncle, Knight of the Golden Fleece, and a valiant Breton named Hervé de Mériadec. He advanced towards the judge's gallery, knelt down, and begged the good duke, his master, to be good enough to make him a knight. The duke descended into the lists. Jacques drew his sword, kissed the hilt, handed it to the duke; he used it to give the paste; the blow resounds on the armour; then the duke lifted him up, kissed him on the mouth, and said to him: "In the name of God, of Our Lady, and of Monseigneur Saint George,
may you be a good knight! The new knight retired to his pavilion, and soon the two champions entered into combat. "Do your duty," cried the heralds.
Each carried in his right hand a heavy sword, of those called thrusts; in the left hand, a battle-axe; a smaller sword was attached to the belt. Through the left arm was a small steel shield, square in shape, called a targe. The duke had himself inspected the arms with care, as he did not fail to do so when they were left to the choice of the combatants. They began by throwing their thrusts at each other with all their might. The Sire de Lalaing secures himself with his targe; the Sicilian knight was not hit. Then they drew their targe, each threw it into his adversary's legs to embarrass him, and the ax fight began. The Sicilian struck hard blows at the level of the young knight's head, trying to hit him in the face, for he had a visor which only covered his chin and mouth. Jacques de Lalaing, with admirable coolness, taking advantage of all the advantage of his size, beat back, with the stick of his ax, the blows of Lord Bonifazio, and tried, by pushing them aside, to drive the iron end of his that stick in the visor. Finally he succeeded in getting it into one of the openings, but the iron broke.
Seeing how strong and subtle his adversary was in handling the axe, the Sicilian suddenly threw down his own and seized that of the Sire de Lalaing with his left hand; then, having drawn his sword, he was going to strike him in the face; but the Sire de Lalaing took a step back and released his axe. The fight was becoming pressing and dangerous. "Brother-in-law," said the Duke of Orleans to Duke Philippe, "see what condition this noble knight is in." If you don't want his shame, it's time to throw down your stick. The duke, in fact, threw his white wand into the lists, and the combat ceased. The knights were brought to him; he praised them, and postponed the fight on horseback until another time. Jacques de Lalaing went devoutly and fully armed to thank God in the next church.
The combat on horseback had nothing remarkable except the dexterity of the Sicilian knight and the magnificence of the armor and the adjustments of the Sire de Lalaing. He had, as was sometimes the practice, steel washers fitted to his armour, one at the wrist, another at the elbow, the other near the shoulder. Signor Bonifazio struck so accurately that his spear came to rest on one or the other of the discs; he held the young knight at a distance where his lance could not quite reach the body of the adversary. We had to interrupt the game to remove the pucks. After they ran twenty-seven spears, the fight was over to their great credit. It was a great start to
knighthood for the sire de Lalaing, and the lord Bonifazio increased the renown which the knights of Italy made for themselves.
After this tournament, Jacques de Lalaing, whom the Flemings nicknamed the good knight, had gone to seek jousts in France, Castile, Aragon, Portugal, Scotland, and had had fine feats of arms everywhere. From there he had come to England, where he had published a business. As he had not obtained permission from the king, he was shown that he was acting against the custom and the law of the country. To this he replied, “I have vowed to publish my business in most of the Christian kingdoms; if I asked for a permission that could be refused, I would expose myself to failing in my vow, and to disobeying a person whom I fear more to displease than all the kings of the entire world. So he continued to publish his enterprise; but, the king not having made known his will, no one presented himself. As he had just embarked at Sandwich, a squire from Wales named Thomas Kar threw himself into a small boat, and, boarding his ship, asked him to fight him, if not in England, at least in the presence of the Duke of Burgundy. . His request was eagerly granted, and the Duke of Burgundy had a list set up at Bruges for this combat.
The Sire de Lalaing had as squires the Sire de Beaujeu, Adolphe de Clèves, Lord of Ravenstein, the bastard of Burgundy and other great lords who, to do him honor, wore his colors, the gray satin robe and the crimson doublet. .
The ax fight began; the Sire de Lalaing wore his in the middle to use, as he chose, either the iron end or the hammer, which was in the shape of a falcon. Sometimes he tried to enter the visor with the point, sometimes, holding his ax in both hands, he struck with great blows of the hammer on the helmet of the adversary. The latter, without being moved, parried the blows and defended himself proudly. Finally, repelling with the edge of his ax one of the attacks of the Sire de Lalaing, he reached him by default of the gauntlet. Immediately blood was seen to flow profusely from the good knight's arm, and his left hand let go of the axe, for he no longer had the strength to hold it.
Everyone thought that the duke was going to stop the fight, where his most beloved knight was in such peril. But he was afraid of appearing biased against the foreigner, and gave no orders. However, the Sire de Lalaing had passed his ax under his left arm, as a woman carries her distaff, and, directing it with his right hand, he parried the blows which were dealt to him with the handle. The whole assembly trembled for the young knight; from time to time he raised his wounded hand, and you could see the blood dripping from it. It seemed that he wanted to show his lord in what state he was. The assistants had all their eyes fixed on the duke. Whatever it might cost him, he wanted to do his duty as a judge, and trusted to God and to the chivalry of his dear Jacques de Lalaing.
Unable to sustain this unequal combat any longer, Jacques pushed the stick of his ax between the arm and the body of his adversary, and, throwing himself on him, he lifted his wounded arm and threw it on his shoulder, while the the other he seized him by the brim of his helmet; then he pulled hard. The Englishman was taken unawares; his armor was heavy, and the good knight lightly armed. He was shaken and dragged forward without being able to hold himself back. In the blink of an eye he fell full length, his visor in the sand. Jacques de Lalaing never dreamed of using his advantage, nor of doing a disservice to his adversary; he picked up the axe, and presented himself before his judge. The heralds relieved the Englishman; he meant that he had only fallen on his elbow and held himself back. The marshal of the lists and the witnesses attested that he had had the whole body on the ground, and the victory was recognized to the good knight. He showed himself so courteous and generous that instead of enjoining his vanquished adversary to leave, according to the conditions of the fight, to return his gauntlet to the person designated by the winner, he pardoned him for this affront. , and even gave him a beautiful diamond, as a token of consolation and friendship.
After his Bruges tournament, the Sire de Lalaing continued to seek adventures, for he had promised himself to appear thirty times in closed field before reaching his thirtieth year. To come more surely to his ends, he imagined going to hold his business in Chalon-sur-Saône. It was the road to Italy, and as the year 1430 was approaching, when the jubilee was to be celebrated in Rome, many knights were to pass that way. The Sire de Lalaing had joined forces with Lord Pierre de Vasco, this Spanish knight whom he had fought at the Tree of Charlemagne. They erected at Châlon, on the other side of the river, a large pavilion; there was a painting representing the Blessed Virgin holding the child Jesus. At the bottom of this painting was the representation of the figure of a richly dressed woman who seemed to be in tears, and whose tears were falling into a fountain. Near this fountain was a unicorn which carried the three shields which one had to touch for the fight of the axe, the sword or the spear.
The two knights were to spend an entire year at Châlon, to fight against all comers, in the name of the Lady of Tears. The duke had not been able to come so far from Flanders, where his business kept him; but he had sent Toison-d'Or to serve as judge in his place, and all was done with extreme solemnity. Several knights or squires from Burgundy, Nivernais, Savoy, and Switzerland presented themselves successively. Jacques de Bonifazio was seen there, and it was he who had the prize of the lance. The Duc d'Orléans, the Duchess and a whole brilliant court returning from Italy honored several jousts with their presence. When the enterprise was at an end, the good knight gave a great banquet to all the noble combatants. To adorn the table, he had had a dessert made. This was the name given to the figures and representations that were made to appear at banquets. He had wanted all the combatants to be painted with their armours, and we saw his own portrait with a couplet written in front of his feet, where he showed his gratitude to all the noble companions who had taken him on as an adversary, offering them to serve them, on all occasions, with his body and his goods, as their brother in arms. He presented a beautiful sable sable robe to Toison-d'Or. Finally, after having courteously greeted the Lady of Tears and kissed the feet of the Blessed Virgin, he had the painting, the figure and the unicorn carried in procession to the church of Châlon. From there he left to publish companies in Italy.
Duke Philippe employed the same Chevalier de Lalaing to give the first lessons in arms to the Count of Charolais, his son, who succeeded his father under the name of Charles the Bold. The duke had a magnificent tournament prepared in Brussels in 1431, expressly for the young prince to fight there. But, as he had never been in the lists, the father chose Jacques de Lalaing to run the first spear with his son. Each said that never so great an honor could be attributed to a better knight, and that it was his better than any other to test the noble son of his sovereign, the one who was one day to be his lord.
They went to the park in Brussels, and this time the good Duchess, who usually did not attend these war games, came to the tournament to see her only son, whom she loved so much, joust there. The lances were given, and, the knights running one on the other, the count of Charolais broke his lance on the shield of his adversary. For the Sire de Lalaing, his spear did not hit; she passed over the helmet. The duke saw clearly that the good knight had spared his son. He got angry and sent word to the Sire de Lalaing that if he wanted to do so, he wouldn't interfere. More spears were brought. This time Jacques de Lalaing ran hard on the count, and the two spears were broken at the same time. Then it was the Duchess who became angry with the Sire de Lalaing; but the duke laughed and scoffed softly at his fear. Thus the father and the mother were of different opinions: one desired trial, and the other security.
All the wise people of this court rejoiced, seeing the assurance and the good grace of their young prince; each said that he would show himself worthy of his noble race. On the day of the tournament, in the marketplace of Brussels, he appeared with no less advantage before the brilliant nobility who had come from all parts, and before a crowd of spectators. He was led and accompanied by his cousin, the Comte d'Étampes, and the princes, his relatives and allies. The Ber of Auxi and the Sire of Rosimbos, who had nourished and governed him since his childhood, stood close to him. All his young companions, Philippe de Croy, Jean de la Trémoille, Charles de Ternant and others, had also come to make their first military ventures. The count broke eighteen spears, gave and received heavy blows, did his duty well in everything. He was constantly encouraged by the applause of the assembly and by the heralds, who shouted “Montjoie-Saint-André! In the evening, the ladies awarded him the prize.
We will finish the report of the tournaments of the court of Burgundy by the one which took place on the occasion of the marriage of Charles the Bold with the sister of the king of England, in 1468.
The lists were prepared on the great square of Bruges, and the bastard of Burgundy was the defender of the game; he had taken the personage and the name of Chevalier de l'Arbre-d'Or. In the morning, a pursuer in the livery of the Golden Tree had delivered to the duke, on behalf of the princess of the Ile-Inconnue, a letter in which she promised her good grace to the knight who could free the chained giant she had placed in her dwarf's custody. In fact, in the lists, opposite the ladies' gallery, was a large fir tree, the stem of which was all gilded, and which rose above a flight of steps. At the foot of the tree was the dwarf, clad in a robe half-part of white and crimson, and the giant in a robe of cloth of gold and a hat in the fashion of the Provencals. He was chained through the middle of his body, and the dwarf led him on a leash.
Soon there was a knock at the door of the lists: it was Ravenstein, herald of M. de Ravenstein: "Noble officer-at-arms, what do you ask?" said Arbre-d'Or, pursuing him. — At this gate arrived high and powerful lord, M. Adolphle de Cleves, lord of Ravenstein, to accomplish the adventure of the Golden Tree. I present to you the coat of arms of his arms, and pray that the opening be made to him and that he be received. »
Golden Tree knelt down, respectfully took the knight's crest, went to show it to the judges, then hung it on the tree. The dwarf and his giant went themselves to open the door. M. de Ravenstein then made the most brilliant entrance: his trumpets, his bugles, his drums opened the march; next came his officers-at-arms and a knight of his council, all dressed in his colors of blue and silver velvet. For him, he was in a crimson and gold litter. Her dress was of leather-colored velvet, lined with ermine, with a turned-up collar and open sleeves. He wore a black barrette on his head. After the litter, a footman led his large, magnificently harnessed steed in his hand; then came a pack-horse laden with two baskets which contained the armor of the Sire de Ravenstein. Her bishop, who was a child dressed in his livery, sat between the two baskets.
When he arrived before the Duchess, he took off his barrette, knelt on the ground, and gave her a very fine speech, in which he related, according to the role he had learned, that he was a long-tried former knight. to arms and adventures, but so weakened in his old age that he had left the profession. However, on such a fine occasion, he had wanted to try one last game, for which he humbly asked his approval.
When the knights had armed themselves, the dwarf sounded the horn to give the signal, and reversed an hourglass to measure the time that the joust was to last. After half an hour, he rang again to stop the fight. It was the bastard of Burgundy who had broken the most spears; it was he who had the gold ring; and the whole court went to a splendid banquet, the entremets of which were very entertaining: it was a large unicorn, on which was mounted a leopard carrying the banner of England and a daisy flower which he came to present to the duke; it was the little dwarf of Melle Marie de Bourgogne, dressed as a shepherdess, mounted on a large lion which opened its mouth by springs, and sang a roundel in honor of the beautiful shepherdess, hope of the lordship of Burgundy.
There were, for eight days, similar feasts, tournaments, jousts for the company of the Golden Tree, by way of adventures of chivalry: banquets and entremets more and more marvelous by the imagination and the industrious mechanics. which moved them. So much so that on the last day a whale sixty feet long was seen entering the hall, escorted by two great giants. Its body was so large that a man on horseback could have hid there. She was wagging her tail and fins, her eyes were two big mirrors; she opened her mouth, and we saw mermaids come out, singing marvelously, and twelve marine knights who danced, then fought each other, until the giants made them go back into their whale (M. de Barante , History of the Dukes of Burgundy.).
These sorts of entremets were in use in all courts, in the solemn banquets which took place on great feasts. Between the different services, there were performed before the guests such marvelous spectacles as the enchantments placed by the authors of the novels of chivalry in the palaces of fairies and magicians. To give a great idea of the magnificence of our kings, of the immensity of the halls, of the tables where the decorations intended to produce illusions and surprises were set up, it is enough to recall that suddenly appeared, with an inconceivable art , cities, countryside, castles peopled with various characters, fountains of wine, streams of milk and honey, rocks of pastries. A
figure of a lion filled with well-adjusted springs enters the hall, stops in front of the king, and, opening its stomach, reveals the arms of France.
Matthieu de Couci and Olivier de la Marche, eyewitnesses to the party given by a Duke of Burgundy for the crusade he wanted to undertake, recount how, by way of entremets, similar spectacles were offered on the table itself. to the enterprise for which all the brave knights gathered. A giant armed in Buckwheat entered, leading an elephant laden with a tower, in which a grieving and captive woman, shedding tears, blamed the slowness of those who had sworn to defend her. Under this emblem, the guests recognized the religion, oppressed by the Moslem yoke; blushing at their inertia, they felt the awakening of their ancient ardor, and asked no more to leave than the leave of their ladies and the blessing of their bishops (Marchangy, Poetic Gaul.).
We have often had occasion to speak of kings, heralds and pursuers of arms, who were designated under the generic name of officers of arms. It is essential, for the understanding of what we have said and of what remains to be said about chivalrous institutions, to know the nature of the functions, the rights, the charges and the privileges of these officers, who play such a great role in all matters pertaining to chivalry.
The institution of these representatives of kings, princes and peoples, destined to maintain, in the midst of war, peaceful relations between States and sovereigns, goes back to the cradle of history. We see in the Iliad heralds carrying the messages of Priam and Hector to the king of kings. Agamemnon sent the heralds Eurybates and Talthybius to carry the beautiful Briseis from the tent of the son of Peleus; and such is the respect of the fiery Achilles for these ministers of Jupiter and of men, that he does not object to their carrying out the orders they have received (Homer, Iliad, Canto I). The bards seem to have fulfilled the same function among the Gauls our ancestors, and the harp of these sacred singers, who were members of the sacerdotal order, did not resound in vain with peaceful accents before the barrier of the camps, or under the dark walls of the chiefs' palaces. The fecials and patrat-fathers of the Romans were revered from one end of the world to the other, even before their victorious eagle had roamed the earth. In Greece, they were honored by all the citizens, nourished and maintained by the people, and recognized by everyone to be the only ones charged to invite to peace; that's why they were called eirenodikai, arbiters of the peace. They carried palm or olive wands (a symbol of peace) in their hands wrapped in wool, to indicate how gently they should discharge their charge; these rods were adorned with two cornucopias, to signify that peace produces all kinds of good.
In France, the institution of heralds and kings of arms is as old as the monarchy. These ministers of a warrior prince and people were divided into three classes, under the name of riders, pursuers and heralds-at-arms. A supreme chief, called king of arms, exercised an almost absolute authority over these various hierarchies. One reached the different degrees of the order only successively, and after a certain number of years of service in the courts and in the armies. The most arduous functions, and yet the least important, were entrusted to the riders, who thereby began to train themselves in the exercises of their profession. Always ready to carry out the commissions with which it pleased their lord to entrust them, they surrounded him when he commanded the army, to be within range of receiving his orders and carrying them to the war chiefs spread over the various points of the battle. Were these orders at the same time more important and of a more difficult nature, they were entrusted to the pursuers at arms. These fulfilled more or less the same functions as those with which the aides-de-camp are charged in our day with our generals of the army.
When a rider passed to the rank of pursuer, a herald presented him to the lord, and asked him what name he wanted to give him. The lord usually imposed on him that of a city of his obedience. The herald, holding the recipient in his left hand, called him aloud by his new name, and poured out on his head, bent over a basin, a cup of wine and water which he held in his right hand, a ceremony which recalled that of baptism, and which had in the eyes of the people an almost equally sacred character. The herald then took the Lord's tunic, put it on the pursuer, and, by a rather bizarre singularity, observed that it was placed in such a way that one of the sleeves fell on the chest and the other between the shoulders. The pursuer had always to wear this sort of garment in this way, until the day when he passed to the rank of herald. These officers always carried on them the escutcheon of the arms of their lord. Unlike the simple runners, who hung it on their belt, the riders carried it on the right arm, the pursuers on the left arm, and the heralds on the chest. One only reached this last rank after having exercised for seven years that of prosecutor. The custom was to receive the heralds, either at war, on a day of battle, or at the coronation of kings and queens, or in the solemnities of a tournament. The prince, after publicly praising the fidelity, diligence, honesty, and discretion of his pursuer, declared that he placed him among his heralds. The oldest of the heralds then dictated an oath that the recipient repeated after him. This rank ennobled the one to which it was conferred. His lord ordinarily gave him a land or fief, and designated the arms or coat of arms which were to belong to him, and to his descendants in perpetuity. The new herald changed his name again: he most often received that of some province or of the lord himself.
The job of the heralds-at-arms consisted mainly in representing the person of the prince in the negotiations for which they were responsible, marriage treaties between the great, peace proposals, battle challenges. This is why they were dressed in the same clothes as the lords to whose service they were attached. The consideration they enjoyed was proportionate to the quality of the prince whose officers they were. They generally attended all military actions, combats in closed field, tournaments, weddings, coronations, celebrations, finally all public solemnities, where our ancestors always mixed a warlike apparatus.
When kings and sovereign princes instituted the orders of chivalry, they created at the same time a herald of this order, and baptized with his name. Louis XI, after the creation of the order of Saint-Michel, named Mont-Saint-Michel the herald of this order. The names of Garter, of Toison-d'Or, of Hermine de Porc-Épic, of Croissant, etc., were given in England, Burgundy, Brittany, Orleans, and Anjou, to the herald of the orders of the same name.
It has been said above that these various officers, riders, pursuers and heralds, were subordinate to the king-at-arms. The functions and prerogatives of the latter cannot be better known than by relating what was practiced at the reception of the first of the kings of arms: he was the one who had the honor of representing the king of France; it was called Montjoie. On the day chosen for this ceremony (and it was usually that of some solemn feast), the recipient went to the palace, where the king was then. The prince's servants were waiting for him in the apartment which was intended for him. They dressed him in royal clothes as if he were the king himself. When the monarch was ready to go to the church or the chapel of his palace to hear mass, the constable of France, or, failing him, the marshals of the kingdom led the chosen one there, preceded by heralds and kings. of arms of the various provinces which were then at court. They placed it in front of the high altar on a pulpit (armchair) covered with a velvet carpet, below the king's oratory. At the sight of the monarch, the recipient rose from his pulpit, knelt before him, and pronounced aloud the oath dictated to him by the constable or the first marshal. After the oath, the constable took off his royal cloak, took a sword from the hands of a knight, and presented it to the king, who used it to confer the order of chivalry on the recipient, if he was not not yet a knight. The constable then took the coat of arms, carried by another knight at the end of a spear; he gave it to the prince, who himself put it on the chosen one, saying to him: "Sir such..., by this coat of arms and coat of arms crowned with our arms, we establish you perpetually in the office of king of arms; and, placing on his head the royal crown which was presented to him with the same ceremony, he added: "Our king of arms, by this crown we call you by name Mont joie, who is our king of arms, in the name of God, of Our Lady, his blessed mother, and of Monsignor Saint Denys, our patron. The heralds and pursuers then exclaimed three times: "Montjoie-Saint-Denys!" The king returned to his oratory; the king-at-arms placed himself on his pulpit, where he remained seated throughout the divine service, while the kings and heralds-at-arms held the royal mantle extended behind him against the wall. After the service, the king-at-arms followed the king into his palace, where the tables were laid for the feast. He took his place at the top end of the second table. During the meal, he was served by two squires, and had before him a golden cup. Sometimes, but rarely, the king-at-arms was admitted to the king's table, when his birth allowed him to claim such an honor.
At the end of the meal, the king had the golden cup which had served Messire Montjoie brought to him, and put in it, in gold or silver, the sum he wished to gratify him. We then took the spices and the holiday wine ; and the king-at-arms, before retiring, presented to the monarch which of the heralds he chose for his marshal-at-arms. Montjoie, adorned with the coat of arms and the crown on his head, then went to his hotel, always escorted by the constable, or by the marshals and heralds and pursuers. One of the king's valets was waiting for him in his apartment, and presented him from the prince with a crown and full knightly attire (M. Lebrun des Charmettes, History of Joan of Arc).
The kings and heralds-at-arms especially began to be in honor and consideration during the reign of Philippe de Valois, whose court surpassed in magnificence all those of his predecessors. He ordered jousts and tournaments every day; also, from that time, and even long after, the offices of king and herald-at-arms could only be exercised by gentlemen who had given proof of their nobility before the Grand Equerry of France, who had the right to to give their provisions, to receive them and to install them in their charge. Gradually this custom was abolished, and those who filled the offices of king and herald were no longer required to show any proof of nobility.
These officers, and especially the king-at-arms, enjoyed numberless privileges and exemptions.
Their persons were inviolable and sacred. Equally employed during peace and during war, friends and foes alike had the same respect for them. Most of the commissions where it was necessary to represent the sovereign or the nation were entrusted to them: they bound themselves, among other things, by oath, to obtain on all occasions and to preserve the honor of the ladies and damsels. “If you hear anyone blame them, it said in their statutes, you will honestly take them back. They owed an inviolable secret to everyone, so that they aroused the mistrust of no party. They were not even permitted to reveal to their lord the secret enterprises of his adversaries, when they had once been confided to their discretion (Villaret, Histoire de France, tome XI).
Heralds were received in all the courts of princes and lords, and those who refused them this honor were regarded as discourteous and unworthy of the title of gentlemen.
They had the right to take up the vices of knights, squires, and nobles, when they forgot, by blameworthy conduct, what they owed to their rank and birth; and if they despised the advice of the heralds and did not correct their faults, then the latter drove them out of jousts and tournaments.
The heralds were obliged to put in writing everything that happened in the jousting, tournaments, no arms, legal fights, etc., and to paint the arms and portraits of the supporters and counter-supporters, their titles and qualities, with the most scrupulous accuracy. This is why it was necessary for them to have seen many foreign countries and studied the history of peoples; they had to know in all their details the forms and ceremonies used as much at the creation of a noble as of a knight; above all, they had to have a thorough knowledge of the science of heraldry, and be able to paint and illuminate coats of arms; for they were in a way the guardians of the titles of nobility, and one added credence to what they declared, when it was a question of researching and proving the origin of noble families.
It was they who were responsible for informing the knights, squires and captains of the day on which battle was to be fought, and on that day these officers-at-arms were to place themselves in full dress in front of the white cornette, or in front of the great standard or banner of France. When the fight began to engage, they retired to some high place to observe all the details of the action, and to see which of the two parties would have fought the most valiantly. Then they reported it to the king or the army general when the battle was over; then they put it in writing to preserve the memory of it for posterity.
When the king or a sovereign prince ennobled someone, the king-at-arms or herald had to coat him with his shield and register it with the charter of the nobles of the province, with his name, surname, lordship and quality.
Each king-at-arms was to have two heralds under his command, and each herald a pursuer-at-arms. We will notice, in passing, that this name of pursuer of arms was also given to the squire who aspired to obtain the dignity of knight, as we have already seen previously; but the qualities and functions were not the same.
Sovereign kings, princes, dukes, marquises, counts and viscounts alone could have kings-at-arms. The non-sovereign dukes, marquises, counts and viscounts had only heralds, and the barons or knights bannerets, pursuers in arms, but only with the consent and knowledge of some herald (Villaret, Histoire de France) .
One will find in the course of this work some other details on the functions of the kings and heralds of arms, details which we did not insert in this chapter to avoid the repetitions.
Uses and customs of ancient chivalry.
The enterprises of war or of galena were announced and published with a device capable of inspiring in all warriors the ardor to compete in them and to share in the glory which was to be the prize. The commitment was sealed by acts which religion and honor rendered equally irrevocable; whether we shut ourselves up in a place to defend it, or whether we took over it to attack it, or whether in the middle of the campaign we found ourselves in the presence of the enemy, inviolable oaths and vows from which nothing could dispense, equally obliged the chiefs and those whom they commanded, to shed their blood rather than betray or abandon the interest of the State. In addition to these general vows, piety suggested others to individuals, which consisted in visiting various holy places to which they had devotion, in laying down their arms or those of vanquished enemies in temples or in monasteries, in making various fasts, in practicing various exercises of penance. Valor also dictated singular wishes, such as being the first to plant one's pennon on the walls or on the highest tower of the place one wanted to master, to throw oneself into the midst of enemies, to bring them the first blow, to give such proof of audacity, and sometimes of temerity. The bravest knights always prided themselves on outdoing each other, by an emulation which always had for its object the advantage of the fatherland and the destruction of the enemy,
The most authentic of all these vows was the one called Peacock's Wish or Pheasant. These noble animals, for they were so called, represented perfectly, by the brilliance and the variety of their colors, the majesty of the kings and the superb clothing with which they were adorned to hold what was called tinel ou Plenary court. On the day when one had to make the solemn engagement either to go and fight a powerful enemy, or to undertake a war whose motives were either the defense of religion or some other legitimate cause, a peacock or a pheasant, sometimes roasted, but always adorned with his finest feathers, was brought majestically by ladies or young ladies, in a large basin of gold or silver, in the middle of the numerous assembly of summoned knights: he was presented to each of them. them, and each one made his wish on the bird: then it was brought back to the table to be finally distributed to all the assistants.
The skill of the one who decided consisted in sharing it so that all could have it. The ladies or young ladies chose one of the bravest of the assembly, to go with them to carry the peacock to the knight they considered the most valiant. The knight chosen by the ladies put the dish in front of the one he thought deserved the preference, cut the bird and distributed it before his eyes. Such a glorious distinction, attached to the most eminent value, was only to be accepted after a long and modest resistance. The knight to whom the honor of being recognized as the most valiant was conferred always seemed to believe that he was less so than anyone.
(Lacurne de Sainte-Palaye, Memoir on ancient chivalry)
The grips or enterprises of arms, of which we have already spoken, were also a kind of vow formed by the knights. The pledges of these undertakings consisted of chains, yokes, rings or other signs, and the knight who had accepted them could no longer discharge himself of this weight until after one or more years, according to the conditions of the vow, unless that he had not found some knight who, offering to take up arms with him, freed him by removing his hold, that is to say, by removing the chains or other marks which took their place.
To give an idea of these wishes, one will undoubtedly read with pleasure the detail of those which, during the beautiful tournament which took place between the castles of Sydrac and Tontalon, at the coronation of King Galifer of Scotland, made twelve knights for the love of Pergamon, the old knight. Pergamon had erected a large scaffold, lined with leaves, not only to see at his ease all the fine feats of arms that would be performed in this tournament, but also to receive and give good cheer to all the knights who would come to see.
The first knight, sparrowhawk, who wore gules in one hand, and left arm carrying a sparrowhawk, all proper, made a vow to God and to the good knight Pergamon that, when he would be armed and mounted on his horse, he would enter the tournament, and would give the King of Scotland so much to do and would hold him so short in feat of arms, that he could not move further from the foliage than the stroke of a bow; and his vow ended with these words: "And so it will be, if death does not precede or distraught a limb." »
The second knight, an eagle or, bearing gules an eagle or, made a similar vow in general.
The third knight, a fleur-de-lis, who wore Azure to a fleur-de-lis Or, vowed that,
arrived in the tournament, he would put himself on the side which he would see the weakest and close to succumbing, and which, by his efforts, he would make him have the victory and the honor of the tournament. He also promised to have both parties fall back to the furrow of the knight Pergamon, so that he could see the combat more closely and better judge the feats of arms of the whirlers.
The fourth knight, with an inferred heart, bearing Argent a heart sorry and inferred Gules, after having addressed himself to God, made a promise conceived in these terms: "When the knight with the fleur-de-lis will have, as he says so, given the victory to the party on whose side he will line up, I will put myself in my turn in the opposite party, and I will do so much by force of arms, that he will be put back above and will remain the master from then on. forward, despite all the efforts of the Chevalier du Lily and the others; for thus have I vowed it, if I shall keep it. »
The fifth knight, in black leopard, promised to dismount the king of Scotland three times, and to bring the three horses to the knight Pergamon's leaf, to present them to him. "Not that this excellent prince," he added, "is more worthy at a hundred doubles than I am, but so fortune wills it." »
The sixth knight, in the black lion, bearing Or to a lion Sable, made a vow that, as soon as the knight in the black leopard had dismounted the king of Scotland, he would remount him on another horse which he
would take the king of Brittany by force, and then take prisoner the said knight with the black leopard, and send him to the queen of Scotland to ask forgiveness for what he had done to her husband. »
The Seventh Knight's Vow offers nothing out of the ordinary; he only promises to do his duty well from the beginning to the end of the tournament.
The eighth knight, with a white star, bearing Sable to a silver star, promised that before the end of the tournament he would win by right of arms all the horses of the eleven knights who had made or who would make vows, and that he would give them all to her.
The ninth knight, with a stag azure, bearing Or to a stag Azure, promised that he would joust twice against the knight with the white star, that he would knock him down with a single blow of his spear, and that, moreover, he would bring him and his horse by force to the front of the forest, and that there, willy-nilly, he would knock him off his horse to the ground by force of arms.
The tenth knight with three lion cubs, bearing Gules with three lion cubs Azure, promised to joust against a very valiant knight named the Hunchback of Suave, whose pommels no one had ever made empty; his wish was that he would carry him to the ground with a blow of his spear, that he would then help him to get back on horseback, and that then, by force of arms and arms, he would pull him out a second time. of the saddle and would cause him to fall.
The eleventh knight, to the griffin, bearing Or to a flying griffin Gules, swore that he would defeat everyone in the tournament and win the prize, which consisted of a rosary of pearls.
Finally the twelfth knight, to the dauphin, bearing d'or to a dauphin d'azur, swore to win by force of arms the most beautiful and the richest thing that would be seen in the tournament, namely: horses, helmets , banners, shields, conronnes, bourlets, crests, caparisons and other ornaments with which the knights are adorned.
Despite the difficulty presented by the accomplishment of all these wishes, some of which are so opposed to each other, that their success necessarily prevents the success of the others, the author adds that the God of battles favored these twelve knights so powerfully, that all very happily fulfilled their vows. We want to believe this fact on his word, but we do not undertake to explain it.
In all this part of the usages of chivalry, the romance is so mingled with history, and history with romance, that one can hardly separate them. Here are wishes which are attested by all the chronicles, and which do not differ from those which one reads in novels.
The quarrel between France and England, in the xive century, revived the spirit of chivalry and brought down, according to the expression of Chateaubriand, the two nations in a closed field. We then saw appear at the court of the Count of Hainaut young English knights, one eye covered with cloth, having vowed that they would never see except with one eye, until they had done no feat of their bodies in the kingdom. of France. Messire Gauthier de Mauny had told some of his people that he had promised in England that he would be the first to enter France, that he would take Chastel or Forte Ville there, and would make no weapon inspections there. Barons and knights often swore by a saint or by a lady, at the foot of an enemy rampart, to carry this rampart within a certain number of days, should the oath be disastrous to them or to their country.
Of all these vows the most famous is that of the Heron; here is what gave rise to it. For a long time Edward III had had the intention of attacking France; but the grandeur of the enterprise, the internal embarrassments of his government frightened and restrained him. Perhaps he would never have determined to take up arms without the solicitations of Robert d'Artois, who, having retired to England for two years, breathed into the heart of the ambitious Edouard the hatred with which he, Robert, was devoured against the King of France, who had exiled him. For a long time Edward had resisted her entreaties; finally the banished one employed to determine his host the extraordinary means of which we are about to speak, and which was called the wish of the Heron.
Here is how an old author relates this fact. At the beginning of the autumn of the year 1338, and, as the historian poetically puts it, "when the summer wanes, when the cheerful bird has lost its voice, when the vines dry up, when the roses die, let the trees be bare, let the roads be strewn with leaves, Edward was in London, in his palace, surrounded by dukes, earls, pages and young men. Robert d'Artois, retired in England, had gone hunting, because he remembered the very nice country of France, from which he was banished. He carried a little falcon which he had fed, and flew the falcon so much by river, that he caught a heron. Robert returns to London, roasts the heron, places it between two silver platters, enters the king's banquet hall, followed by two hurdy-gurdy masters and a quistreneus (guitar player), and Robert s exclaims: "Open the ranks, let the valiants pass: here is meat for valiant.... The heron is the most cowardly of birds, it is afraid of its shadow." I will give the heron to whichever of you is the most cowardly; in my opinion, it is Edward, disinherited from the noble country of France, of which he was the legitimate heir; but his heart failed him, and for his cowardice he will die deprived of his kingdom. Edouard blushed with anger and bad talent, his heart quivered; he swore by the God of paradise and by his sweet mother, that before six months passed he would defy the king of Saint-Denys (Philippe).
Robert chuckled, and said softly. Now I have my opinion (desire), and for my heron a great war will begin.
Robert picks up the heron, still between the two silver platters; he crosses the banquet hall, followed by two minstrels who were slowly aging, and the guitar player. Robert presents the heron to the Earl of Salisbury.
Salisbury closed one eye, and cried, "I will and promise to Almighty God, and to his sweet mother, who shines with beauty, that this eye shall never be opened either by length of time, or by wind, pain or martyrdom, before I entered France, carried the flame there and fought the people of Philippe de Valois by helping Edward. Now, come what may...» And, when the earl of Salisbury had made his vow, he remained with his eyes closed in the war ().
But let us leave these bizarre vows and these extravagant undertakings, which have had no other effect than to throw upon chivalry a ridicule which has contributed not a little to its decadence, to speak of nobler engagements, of more sacred oaths. in use among knights.
If the love of glory maintained among them those feelings of honour, bravery and gallantry which distinguished them, the bond of friendship, so useful to all men, was none the less necessary to unite so many heroes, between whom a double rivalry could become a source of division prejudicial to the common interest. Esteem or trust gave rise to these commitments; so we often see associations between knights who became brothers or comrades-in-arms, as they then spoke. Knights who had been on the same expeditions, who had shared the same dangers, conceived for each other that inclination which a virtuous heart never fails to feel when it finds virtues similar to its own.
The fraternities of arms contracted in several different ways. Some, as we have already noticed, drank their mingled blood from the same cup.
Other comrades-in-arms imprinted on their oaths the most sacred characters of religion: to unite more closely, they kissed together the peace that are presented to the faithful in the ceremonies of the mass; sometimes they received Communion at the same time, dividing the consecrated host among themselves.
Brothers in arms of different nations were bound together only so far as their sovereigns were united; and if the princes declared war on each other, it involved the dissolution of all society between their respective subjects. Except this case, nothing was more indissoluble than the knots of this fraternity. The brothers in arms, as if they were members of the same family, wore similar armor and clothing. They wanted the enemy to be able to mistake it, and also run the dangers with which both were threatened. The obligation to help each other mutually in their enterprises of chivalry, without being able to separate, placed them under the necessity of making no commitment except in concert.
We find in the story of Bertrand Du Guesclin an example of how brothers in arms left each other when duty towards their sovereign forced them to separate.
Du Guesclin had led into Spain, by order of Charles, the great companies to second the claims of Henri de Transtamare to the throne of Castile, which Peter the Cruel defiled by his crimes. Soon, with the aid of these intrepid but undisciplined warriors, Henry was crowned at Burgos, and Peter the Cruel, reduced to flight, came to implore the help of Edward, Prince of Wales. This prince, who saw with difficulty Castile pass to an ally of France, resolved to restore to the throne the assassin of Blanche de Bourbon. All those of the companies which were subjects of England (for these companies were composed of men of all nations) came to embrace Du Guesclin, saying to him: "Dear sire, we are obliged to leave, for our lord is recalling us, and nothing but such a duty could separate us; but, by Saint George, we will always be friends, even when fighting each other. »
The Englishman Hue de Carvalai, who was du Guesclin's brother-in-arms, embraced him like the others, and furthermore said to him: "Gentle sire, we have lived together in good company, as it belongs to prud' men; I have always had yours at my will, and I have taken from the common purse, in which between us we put the fruits of war and the presents of kings. We never thought of sharing; but as I believe I owe you a great deal, now is the time to count together, so that I may pay you what I owe you. To which Bertrand replied: “This is a pure sermon; I hardly think of this account, and do not know if you owe me, or if I owe you; let's remain quits and good friends, since the quits come, which seems pitiful and bitter to me. However, it is reasonable that you follow your master; so must act any good prud'homme. Loyalty made our love, and it will remain loyal to this hour and beyond, for it is better to be virtuous enemies than friends without honour. (Marchangy, Tristan the traveler, volume VIII)
Privileges and honors granted to the ancient knighthood. — Degradation, various punishments. — Burial of the ancient knights. — Death and Funeral of Du Guesclin.
§ 1. PRIVILEGES AND HONORS GRANTED TO KNIGHTS
We have already spoken, in the first chapter of this history, of the privileges and honors accorded to ancient knights; so we will not enter here into great detail in this respect, and we will only complete what we have already said about it.
Among the marks of honor which distinguished the knights, they had the right to have their battle-horses covered with a large cover of taffeta or other light material, which came down to their feet, and which was adorned and filled with their coat of arms. They had the prerogative of having their own particular seal on which the knight was represented on horseback, armed with a raised sword. We buried their golden spurs with them. Just as they were given the names Monsieur, Monseigneur, and Messire, their wives were called Madame, while those of the equerries were called Mademoiselle.
The lords who were knights had the right to exact from their subjects and vassals aid or relief in money on certain occasions, the first of which was the ceremony of receiving the lord or his eldest son; they could still demand the rights of knighthood at the marriage of their daughters, to pay their ransom when they were prisoners of war, or for overseas voyages.
Knighthood was so esteemed that, when they received this honor, they were formerly given a sum for the expenses they had to incur, and the kings also granted a pension to those whom they received as knights.
But if the dignity of a knight was accompanied by so many honors and privileges, nothing was so terrible and solemn as the degradation inflicted on one who had deserved this punishment.
§ 2. DEGRADATION, VARIOUS PUNISHMENTS
When a knight was guilty of treason, felony, and any crime which brought degradation and merited death or banishment, twenty to thirty knights or squires without reproach were assembled, before whom the traitor knight was charged with treason, cowardice and of lying faith, or of some other capital and atrocious crime. This summons was made by the ministry of a king or a herald-at-arms, who declared the fact, reported its particulars and named the witnesses. On this report, the knights constituted in court deliberated, and if the accused was condemned to death or to banishment, it was said in the judgment that he would be previously degraded from the honor of knighthood, and that he would return the insignia. of the order, if he had received one.
For the execution of this judgment, two theaters or scaffolds were erected in a square: on one were seated the knights or squires judges, assisted by officers-at-arms, kings, heralds and pursuers; on the other was the condemned knight, fully armed, and his shield, emblazoned with his arms, planted on a pole or post in front of him, reversed point upwards. To the right and left of the knight were seated twelve priests dressed in their surplices, and the knight was facing his judges. A large crowd watched in silence at this mournful ceremony, which excited the curiosity of the people, always eager for this sort of spectacle, the more rarely it was. When all was settled, the heralds published the sentence of the judges; then the priests began to sing aloud the vigils of the dead; at the end of each psalm they paused, during which the officers-at-arms stripped the condemned man of some piece of his arms, beginning with the helm and continuing to disarm him piece by piece until the end. As they removed a piece, the heralds cried aloud: "This is the helm, this is the necklace, this is the sword, etc." of the traitorous and disloyal knight! The coat of arms was broken into several shreds; they ended with the shield of his arms, which the heralds broke into three pieces with a hammer.
After the last psalm, the priests rose and sang over the head of the condemned knight the 108th psalm of David, Deus, laudem meam ne tacueris, in which are contained several imprecations and curses against traitors, among others this one: “Let the number of his days be shortened; let another receive the dignity with which he was clothed; that his wife should become a widow and his sons orphans; that they be reduced to begging and driven from their homes; let a greedy foreigner plunder and devour his riches; that he finds no one to protect him; let no one pity his children; let them themselves die without issue, so that the name of the traitor perish in one generation; because he did not remember to show mercy, and persecuted the poor and the unfortunate; because he was attracted
the curse, and that he pushed the blessing out of himself. This chant finished, the king or herald at arms asked three times for the name of the degraded knight; a pursuer-at-arms, placed behind him, and holding a basin full of hot water, called him by name, surname, and lordship; the one who had made the request replied immediately that he was mistaken, that the one he had just named was a traitor, disloyal and a belied faith; and, to show the people that he was telling the truth, he asked aloud the opinion of the judges; the eldest answered aloud that, by sentence of the knights and squires present, it was ordered that this traitor whom the pursuer had just named was unworthy of the title of knight, and that for his crimes he was degraded and condemned to death.
When this judgment was pronounced, the king-at-arms threw over the head of the condemned man the basin full of hot water, presented to him by the pursuer; after which the knight-judges descended from their scaffold, put on robes and chaperons of mourning, and proceeded to church. The degraded had also descended from his scaffold, not by the step by which he had climbed, but by a cord which they tied to his armpits, and then they put him on a stretcher, they covered him with a mortuary sheet and they wore it to church. The priests then sang the Office of the Dead and all the prayers for the departed; when this ceremony was finished, the degraded was handed over to the royal judge or provost, then to the executioner to be put to death, if the judgment condemned him to this penalty. After this execution, the king and the heralds-at-arms declared the children and descendants of the degraded ignoble and commoners, unworthy of bearing arms and of being and appearing in jousts, tournaments, armies, courts and royal assemblies, under pain of being stripped naked and beaten with rods, like villains, born of an infamous father (Lacurne de Sainte-Palaye, Memoir on the old chivalry.). »
A condemnation as terrible as that which we have just reported, surrounded by all the religious and lugubrious pomp which the Church displays in the great solemnities where she prays for the departed, was bound to produce on all minds a profound and salutary impression. Also, as we have observed, such sentences were very rare, and were pronounced only for the greatest crimes. As for the less serious faults and the other crimes which the knights could commit, they were punished with less severe penalties, calculated and graduated according to the nature of the offence. Thus the shield of their arms was attached to a pillory, with a sign bearing their condemnation; then the officers-at-arms cut off a few pieces from it, added marks and stains of infamy, or else broke it and broke it entirely.
The braggart and boastful knight who boasted of many things, and did nothing worthwhile, was punished thus: the dexter point of the chief of his shield was cut in gold.
To him who had cowardly and in cold blood killed a prisoner of war, the point of his shield was shortened, by rounding it at the bottom.
If a knight was convicted of lying, flattery or false reports to his prince to take him to war, he was covered, as a punishment, with the color of gules, the tip of his shield, erasing the figures that were there. placed before.
He who had ventured recklessly and indiscreetly upon the blows of the enemy, and had thereby occasioned some loss or dishonor to his party, was punished by an exchanged pile or point marked at the bottom of his shield.
When a knight was convicted of adultery, drunkenness or perjury, two pockets of sand were painted on the two sides of his shield.
The shield of the coward, of the coward, and of the coward, was smeared on the left side like a gore, which was a pocket notched and rounded within.
A tablet or square Gules was painted on the heart of the shield of the one who had failed to speak.
When a knight had been convicted, in single combat ordered to prove his innocence, of a crime of which he was suspected guilty, whether he was killed on the spot or expired after confessing that he was the culprit, the officers-at-arms dragged his body with ignominy on a black hurdle or at the tail of a mare, then they delivered him to the executor of the high justice, who threw him in the road. They hung the shield of his coat of arms from a pillory, point down, for three consecutive days, then they broke it publicly and tore his coat of arms into a thousand pieces.
The victor, on the contrary, was honored by the king and queen, and by the whole court; he was led in great triumph through the city, accompanied by all the friends of the young nobility; the trumpets, the drums, the bugles preceded him with the kings and heralds of arms, bearing before him the weapon with which he had vanquished his enemy, with his pennon and his banner, and that of the saint who was his patron. (Gap of Sainte-Palaye, Memoir on the old chivalry.)
If the crime of those they wanted to punish was not so serious, the officers-at-arms committed by the king only diminished something of the figures of their coat of arms. Here is an example. During the reign of Saint Louis, Jean d'Avesne, one of the sons of the first marriage of Marguerite, Countess of Flanders, being in discussion for this county with Guillaume de Bourbon, lord of Dampierre, son of the second marriage, they were both , with their mother, in the presence of Saint Louis, who was to judge this dispute. In the heat of the debates, Jean d'Avesne let out a few insulting words against his mother, who, he claimed, favored his brother to his prejudice. The countess immediately lodged a complaint, and the king, this model of all virtues, but above all of piety and filial respect, indignant at hearing before him a son outrage his mother, condemned him to no longer bear the lion in his arms. armed and langued, that is to say having claws and tongue, adding that whoever tarnishes the honor of his mother with his tongue deserves to be deprived of his arms and his tongue. It follows from this judgment that the arms of the counts of Flanders being of gold instead of sable, armed and langued gules, Jean d'Avesne and his descendants were forced to wear it without nails or tongues. Thus coats of arms, intended to transmit titles of honor to posterity, could sometimes also be used to perpetuate stigma.
When a knight was condemned to death for having betrayed his country, or for pillage and arson, he was led to execution by having him carry a dog on his shoulders in the vicinity of the place where he had committed his violence and his crimes. The purpose of this custom was to show the people that the disloyal knight was regarded as much inferior to this animal, emblem of fidelity and attachment to its master.
§ 3 BURIAL OF ANCIENT KNIGHTS
Kings and princes, however they died, were represented on their tombs dressed in their royal clothes; but when they had died in the war or while they were making some military expeditions, they were represented armed, in their royal clothes, the sword at their side and the staff of command in their hands, instead of the scepter which they wore when they died other than in war. Above their effigy and all around their tombs were placed their crowned shields, their stamps, their rolls, their crests, their supports, their valance, their orders, their names and mottoes; sometimes they were represented on their knees, praying to God, and sometimes also lying down; and even there were some who, to show the vanity and misery of this life, had themselves represented on their tombs stretched backwards, naked, thin and undone, such as the real bodies which are in the tomb can be. and which serve as food for the worms. There were some of this kind in the abbey of Saint-Denis, among the marble figures placed on the tombs of several kings of France.
Simple gentlemen and knights could not be represented with their coat of arms, if they had not lost their lives in war, unless they were dead and buried in their lordships. So, to make it known that they had died in their bed in complete peace, they were represented on their tombs with their coat of arms, without a belt, their heads uncovered, without a helmet, their eyes closed, their feet pressed against their backs. of a greyhound, and without any sword.
Those who died in a battle or combat, or in an encounter, if they had belonged to the victorious party, were represented with the naked sword raised in their right hand, and their shield on their left arm, the helmet or the armet on their head. and the visor pulled down, to show still better that they were dead fighting against their enemies, with their coat of arms girded over their arms, with a sash around the waist, and below their feet a living lion.
Those who had been killed in the same circumstances, but on the side of the vanquished, were represented without a coat of arms, the sword girded at the side in the scabbard, the visor raised and open, the hands joined on the chest, and the feet leaning against the back of a stricken, lifeless lion.
Knights who died in prison before having paid their ransom were represented on their tomb without spurs, without helmet, without coat of arms and without sword, the scabbard only girded and hanging at their side.
Formerly the son of an army general, of a governor of a province or of a place, if he had been born in a besieged city, or else in the army, however young he might be when he died, was represented on his tomb fully armed, his head on his helm, like a pillow, dressed in a coat of arms, of the size he was at the moment of his death. We see a similar tomb in the church of Saint-Ouen at Rouen.
Often a knight who had spent his life in the armies and who had faced death on the battlefield, when age no longer allowed him to run the risks of war, and forced him to retire, instead of enjoying honors which he had won by his valor, retired to a cloister to end his days there in the exercise of penance. After his death he was represented on his tomb fully armed, the sword at the side below, and overcoat dressed in the religious habit of the order to which he had belonged, having under his feet the shield of his arms, in the form of a plank.
The knight who had remained victorious in the closed field, for whatever quarrel it was, if he died as a result of the fight, was represented on his tomb adorned with the same weapons with which he had fought, holding between his arms, whose right was crossed on the left, his ax and his sword.
He who had been vanquished and killed in a closed field for a dispute of honor was represented fully armed, his axe, his sword, or some other kind of offensive weapon with which he had fought, being out of his arms, lying beside him; the left arm was crossed over the right.
§ 4. DEATH AND FUNERAL OF BERTRAND DU GUESCLIN
We could not better end these details on the honors rendered, after death, to the former knights, than by relating the ceremonies observed at the funeral of du Guesclin, nicknamed the flower of the French knights, constable of France during the reign of Charles V. However, despite the pomp and brilliance of these ceremonies, which barely distinguished Bertrand's funeral from that of a king of France, perhaps they are less honorable to the memory of this valiant knight than the homage so remarkable and so extraordinary which was returned to him by the enemies themselves on the day of his death. This trait, although well known, naturally finds its place in this work, and deserves to be cited because it is unique in history and is the finest eulogy of this famous warrior.
(Lacurne de Sainte-Palaye. — La Colombière.)
In 1380, du Guesclin besieged Château-Neuf or Castel-de-Randon, defended by an English garrison. After several attacks without result, negotiations were entered into, and a truce was agreed upon which was to expire on July 12, at which time the besieged undertook to surrender the place, if they did not receive sufficient relief to raise the seat.
During this suspension of arms, the constable fell ill, and the doctors soon recognized that his illness was fatal. This news threw grief and consternation into the army; generals, captains, soldiers, all dreaded losing a father and a precious friend. The altars were surrounded day and night by people who carried there their wishes and their prayers for its preservation; the besieged themselves (amazing thing), as soon as they were informed of it, made public prayers and asked God for the healing of an enemy so formidable to them, but so full of virtues, so good, so generous in victory, that they considered themselves glorious to surrender their arms to him. Du Guesclin felt his condition, and was not alarmed; having had the constable's sword brought to his bed, he took it bare in his hands, with as much vigor as he had carried it in the midst of battles, considered it for a few minutes in silence, as if to recall the glory that he had had to obtain it and that which he had acquired by wearing it. 'I have just,' he said to the Marshal de Sancerre, 'to examine, by considering this sword, whether I have failed to use it well; I admit that others than myself would have made better use of it, but no one would have had purer intentions; I only regret in dying that I did not completely drive the English out of the kingdom, as I had hoped; God has reserved the glory of it for some other who has it will be more worthy than me; it is perhaps to you, Monsieur le Maréchal, that Heaven will give it the grace; I wish it and regard you as the man of the kingdom to whom the honor principally belongs." Then he had his head uncovered and said to the marshal: "Receive it from my hand, and I beg you, by returning it to the king, to express to him all my gratitude for his benefactions, and my regrets for the faults which I might, through imprudence, have committed against his service, but which were never voluntary; assure him that I die his servant, and the humblest of all. He tenderly embraced this lord, who received the sword, bursting into tears, and all the assistants like him. Then addressing the old captains with whom his bed was surrounded: “My dear companions, you see my state, and that the death which surprises me leaves me deprived of what I would have liked to do for you; but don't let that discourage you: if I can no longer speak to the king on your behalf, let your services speak for you, continue to serve him well; he is just and generous, and I trust that he will reward you as you deserve. But before I die, I want to say another word that I have said to you a thousand times: remember that, wherever you make war, the ecclesiastics, the poor people, the women and the children are not your enemies; that you bear arms only to defend and protect them; I have always recommended it to you thus, and I repeat it to you for the last time, bidding you my last farewell, and recommending myself to you.
He spoke a few more moments, then he remained nearly a quarter of an hour in silence, his eyes fixed on a Christ whom he held with both hands, and in this state he made two or three sighs, and returned to God his beautiful soul. This sad day was July 13, 1380, at noon. Du Guesclin was then between sixty and sixty-two years old.
The English not having received the help they expected, the commandant of Castel-de-Randon, summoned by Marshal de Sancerre to surrender the place, and having learned of the Constable's death, felt a very sharp pain, and answered the summons like a generous man with a big heart: “I did not promise to give you back my place; it is to the constable that I have given my word and that I want to keep it; but I want it to be in an extraordinary way, which expresses the honor which I have always brought to him, and which I cherish in his memory. I would have been ashamed to open my doors to anyone but him; it is just, dead as he is, to give him back what I owe him: I am going to carry on his coffin the keys to a place of which he is really the victor.
The French army drew up in line, the standards deployed and the weapons straight, in a word, with the apparatus of a victory. The English leave the city with beating drums, cross the camp and arrive at the home of the deceased. They find him on the same bed where he had died, surrounded by heralds-at-arms; his constable's sword bare beside his body on a pane of violet velvet strewn with golden fleurs-de-lis, and the apartment filled with the greatest of the army.
Marshal de Saucerre introduced the English commander and his captains; first they knelt down and said their prayers. The Commandant, getting up and speaking to the Constable, said: “It is not to this body that I see lying and insensible, it is to you, Monsieur the Constable, that I give up my place; your immortal soul alone had the power to force me to return it to the French, although I have sworn to the King of England to preserve it for him to the last drop of my blood. Having said this, he laid the keys at the dead man's feet, and withdrew himself and his family, all bursting into tears.
All France mourned the death of du Guesclin; but Charles V's grief was inexpressible. He sent for his body, with a procession, to take it to Saint-Denis, where this prince had built a chapel for him and for the queen, Jeanne de Bourbon, his wife, who had rested there since the year 1377. This It was in this chapel and in the same vault that he buried the body of the constable, so that death would not have the power to separate them from each other. The service was performed with all the ceremonies, pomp and magnificence observed at the funerals of kings. The Dukes of Anjou, Berry, Burgundy and Bourbon were at the head of the mourning, accompanied by all the greatest and most illustrious personages of the kingdom; a funeral oration was pronounced in his honor, which was done only for kings and princes.
Ten years later, Charles VI wanted to honor the memory of du Guesclin with new funeral solemnities.
A burning chapel had been erected in the middle of the choir of Saint-Denis, whose innumerable torches and candles lighted up the representation of the illustrious constable, placed in the center of the chapel. The mourning was led by Messire Olivier de Clisson, constable of France, and by the two marshals Messire Louis de Sancerre and Messire Mouton de Blainville; he was represented by Olivier du Guesclin, count of Longueville, brother of the constable, and by several lords of his relatives and of his principal friends. The Bishop of Auxerre, who was celebrating Mass, ascended the pulpit after the offering to deliver the funeral oration; he took for text: Nominatus est usque ad extrema terroe: "His fame flew from one end of the world to the other." He showed, by an animated account of his great warlike labors, his marvelous feats of arms, his trophies and his triumphs, that he had been the true flower of chivalry, and that the true name of valiant should belong only to those who, like him, were equally distinguished by probity, valor and piety
(Grassier, History of Chivalry.)
Duels or court battles.
The barbarous custom of washing away in blood an offense, sometimes slight, and of relying on the lot of arms to support the truth of a cause which one believes to be just, but whose proofs are doubtful, is one of the prejudices transmitted to us with blood from the savage peoples of Germany. In vain did the Christian religion, by softening the ferocity of their mores, strive to make this atrocious custom disappear; in vain the most powerful sovereigns, from Charlemagne to Louis XIV, seconded with all their power the efforts of religion, the fury of duels triumphed over all the means employed to destroy it, and it was perpetuated in through the centuries of barbarism to our centuries of civilization and light. And if we compare the two eras, perhaps we will be forced to recognize that duels are nowadays more frequent, less reasonable, if I can put it that way, and consequently more barbaric than were not those of our ancestors, especially in the time of chivalry. Such a proposal can wound our self-esteem; but by reading what follows, one will be able to convince oneself that I am not advancing a paradox.
When the laws found themselves powerless to stop duels, they at least regulated their use in such a way as to make them extremely rare. These combats were only permitted to noble knights or squires who had the right to bear arms; they could only take place in the most serious cases; it was necessary to obtain the approval of the sovereign, who usually fixed the day at a fairly remote time; they were accompanied by a solemn apparatus well suited to strike terror into the soul of anyone who did not feel supported by his good rights; the vanquished, if he did not succumb in combat, was punished with death. Thus a whole class of men, and this was the most numerous, could not fight a duel; those who enjoyed this sad privilege could not yet use it at will, neither lightly and for a frivolous affair, nor in the first outburst of anger. The time fixed between the request and the day of the fight allowed most of the time the parents, the friends of the champions, to bring about a rapprochement between them which would not have taken place if, as happens only too often with our days, the meeting had followed almost immediately the quarrel, and when the two adversaries are often still animated by the double intoxication of wine and anger. Finally, it was not in the presence of two witnesses, in some distant place, that the dispute was settled, as men do who hide because they are aware that they are about to commit a criminal act; but it was in a vast list surrounded by numerous spectators, in the presence of the king and of the whole court, after the cause of the combat had been made known publicly and the two champions had called Heaven to witness to their rightfulness. , that weapons decided their fate. In those times of ignorance, people were convinced that God would never allow the innocent to succumb, when he had fulfilled all the formalities required for this sort of combat; so they were called the judgments of God. An erroneous opinion no doubt, which religion and reason alike condemned, as a remnant of the superstitions of Scandinavian or Germanic idolatry; but as soon as this error was accepted, that it was the general belief of society, it was consistent to punish the vanquished with death, since it was God himself who had condemned him. There was a sort of legal presumption that the victor was within his rights and that the vanquished was really guilty; no doubt the first notions of reason and common sense were violated; but the rules of public morality were not, since they were convinced that crime had been punished, and that innocence had triumphed. What does the death of a man killed in a duel prove today? Nothing, except the skill of the winner, or a blind chance which favored him. Society, far from believing itself avenged, has only one more crime to deplore; the wrongs remain on the side where they were before, and, if the culprit triumphs, they are aggravated by all the weight of a man's life. Thus, to seek in the duel the reparation of an offense, is, in our mores, a contradiction, an inconsistency which one cannot at least blame our fathers for.
When people thought they had the right to ask for a judicial duel, they addressed their request to the king in approximately this form:
“Sire, I say about such (and he was named), that he maliciously and by treason bruised (killed) such a person (the name of the deceased was mentioned), who was my relative; and for his treachery, and for his doing, I require you to treat him as a murderer. If he denies it, I want to prove it with my body against his, or by a man who will do the work and doye for me against the one I have assigned; which proof I will show in due time. And as a token of the fight, the plaintiff threw down his glove, which the accused or his representative took up.
Then the field of battle, the day and the arms of the combatants were assigned by the king, if he gave his consent. Whoever took up this glove proved by this action that he accepted the challenge; he in his turn took off his glove with his right hand, and threw it to the ground to be picked up by the one who had provoked him, promising both to present themselves in a condition to fight on the day and hour indicated by the king. If the accused of perfidy or treason presented himself before the king, and declared himself innocent of the crimes imputed to him, he offered combat to his accuser by throwing down his glove; if no one presented himself to take up this pledge, the accused was believed on his oath, and found innocent.
The ladies accused or who accused a knight could present their battle champion.
All-out combat was preceded by various customs and ceremonies which we are about to relate.
The fighters left their hotel fully armed, visors raised, carrying in front of them their shields, their swords and other weapons which had been designated for the fight. To show their faith in the justice of their cause, they had to make the sign of the cross from time to time on the way or carry a crucifix and small banners on which were represented Our Lord, Our Lady, the angels and the saints to whom they had devotion.
Before the arrival of the appellant, the king-at-arms or herald came astride the gate of the list to shout the following proclamation for the first time: he repeated it when the appellant and the defendant had entered and were presented to the judges of the fight, and finally when they had made their last oath.
Proclamation of the Herald or King of Arms.
“Now hear, hear, hear, lords knights, squires and people of all ranks, what our sire, the good king of France, commands and forbids you under penalty of losing body and property.
“Let no one be armed, carry sword or dagger, or any other harness whatsoever, except the guards of the field and those who by the king will have given leave and power to do so.
“The king, our sire, commands and forbids you that no one, of whatever condition, be mounted before battle, and this, on pain of the gentlemen losing the horse, and the servants losing an ear. , and those who will lead the combatants, descended as they will be at the gate of the field, will be immediately required to send back their horses on the said penalty.
“Again the king, our sire, commands you and enjoins everyone, of whatever condition, whether he sits on a bench or on the ground, that each may see the parties fighting more at his pleasure, on pain of having his fist cut off
“Again the king, our lord, orders you and forbids that no one speaks, makes a sign, spits, shouts, makes any pretense whatsoever, and this, on pain of body and property. »
The object of these prescriptions was to prevent the attention of the combatants from being diverted or provoked by any foreign movement, sign or noise from which one of the champions might have profited to the detriment of the other; but we see that it was sometimes dangerous to attend these kinds of spectacles.
The appellant had to present himself first before the hour of noon, and the defendant before the hour of none, and those who missed on time were held to be recreants and convinced.
When the appellant entered the field on horseback, he addressed the constable or field marshal in these terms:
"My most honored lord, see such, who because before you, like one who is ordained by our lord the king, comes to present himself armed and mounted as a gentleman who must enter to fight such a gentleman on such a quarrel, as false, bad, traitor or murderer, as he is, and of this I take Our Lord, Our Lady and Monsieur Saint George, good knight, to witnesses on this day ours by the king, our sire, assigned, and to do this and accomplish , has come and presents himself to you to do his true duty, and requires you to deliver to him
and divide his portion of the field from the wind, the sun and all that is necessary, suitable and profitable in such a case; what having been done by you, he will do his true duty with the help of God, of Our Lady and Monsieur Saint George, the good knight. »
The lists of battle were forty paces wide and eighty long. The lodge of the appellant was on the right of the king or the judge, that of the defendant on the left. After the combatants had pronounced their requests, they entered the field of battle, their visors lowered, making the sign of the cross; they came before the scaffold of the king or the judge, who made them raise their visor, and they said, if it was the king: "Very excellent and very powerful prince and our sovereign lord, I am such, who in your presence, as to our righteous lord and judge, have come on the day and hour by you assigned to me, to do my duty against such, on account of the murder and treason which he has done; and for this, I take God on my part, who will help me today. And he then gave a piece of paper to the marshal of the field, on which was written what he had just said: at this moment the king-at-arms made his second cry.
Then the appellant, still with his visor up, knelt before a richly decorated table, on which was a crucifix placed on a cushion with a missal, and, to the right of this kind of altar, a priest or religious who said:
“Sus, knight or squire, or lord of such a place, who is calling, you see here the very true remembrance of our Saviour, true God, Jesus Christ, who died willfully and delivered his most precious body to death for save us, if he asks for thanks and prays to him that on this day he wants to help you according to your rights, because he is the sovereign judge. Remember the oaths you are about to take, or else your soul, honor and you are in great peril. , and the left on the missal, opened to the canon of the mass beginning with these words: Te igitur; then he made him pronounce the following oath: "I, such, caller, swear on This remembrance of Our Lord God Jesus Christ, and on the holy Gospels which are here, and on the faith of the true Christian and of holy baptism that I hold from God, whom I have certainly good, just and holy quarrel and good right to have, in this pledge of battle, called such as false, evil, traitor and murderer (according to the nature of the crime), which has very -false and very bad self-defense quarrel; what I will show him today by my body against his, with the help of God, of Our Lady and of Monsignor Saint George, the good knight. After this oath, the appellant returned to his lodge with his counsel and the guards who had escorted him.
The defendant in his turn was brought to the altar with the same ceremonies, and pronounced a nearly similar oath; then they would take him back to his pavilion.
They were not satisfied with these two oaths pronounced separately by the two parties. A third and final test took place with an apparatus still more formidable and more solemn. The two adversaries were then reunited to take this last oath together. At the same time they each came out of their pavilion, and advanced slowly, step by step, in the midst of the guards of the field, who led them opposite the altar. There, when they had knelt before the crucifix, the marshal removed the gauntlets from their right hand and placed them on the two arms of the cross. Then the priest, in a lively and touching exhortation, reminded them of the passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who, in dying, had forgiven his executioners; he put before their eyes the terrible consequences of the oaths they had sworn and were about to swear again, the ignominious death that one of them was about to suffer, and, what was a thousand times more dreadful, the loss of the soul of one who perjured himself; he ended by urging them to put themselves at the mercy of the prince, rather than incur the wrath of God and expose themselves to the eternal pains of hell.
We can imagine what an impression such words must have produced on men who, if they were not enlightened, if they were not exempt from passions and prejudices, had at least faith, and a lively and sincere faith. As soon as the priest had finished speaking, the marshal asked the appellant: "Do you, as appellant, want to swear?" And it sometimes happened that the conscience of the good knight did not allow him to pass this last test; then the prince received him at mercy and imposed a penance on him. If he consented to swear, the marshal made him pronounce, and after him the defendant, an oath whose formula was nearly the same as that of the former; only they added that they swore on the joys of paradise, which they renounced for the tortures of hell, on their soul, on their life, on their honor, that their cause was good, holy and just.
After this oath, the two adversaries kissed the crucifix, got up and returned to their pavilion. Immediately the priest removed the cross and the missal, and withdrew; the herald at this moment sounded the proclamation for the third and last time.
A profound silence, a silence of death reigned in the assembly; each remained motionless in the place assigned to him by the Marshal; then the king-at-arms or the herald advanced gravely into the middle of the list, and cried three times: Do your homework. At this moment the two combatants, aided by their advisers, mounted their horses, and their flags were thrown outside and over the lists.
This operation finished, the marshal, placed under the scaffold, in the middle of the field, carrying the token of battle in his hand, shouted three times: Let go, and after these words he threw down the glove, and the fight began. We said above what happened to the victor and to the vanquished.
Such were, in general, the laws which governed judicial duels and the ceremonies which accompanied them. It is easy to understand how such hindrances must have made these sorts of fights infrequent; also I think it can be said, without fear of falling into error, that often a single year in modern times has counted a greater number of duels than there have been judicial combats during space centuries that its use has lasted.
We will end this chapter with the account of two duels of which history has preserved the memory; it will be the complement of what remains to be said on this subject.
The first of these fights took place in Paris, in 1386, under the reign of Charles VI, between Jean de Carouge, knight, lord of Argenteuil, and Jacques Legris, also knight, both of the court of Pierre d'Alençon.
Returning from an overseas trip made by the Lord of Carouge, his wife informed him that, during his absence, she had been unworthily outraged by Sire Jacques Legris. This one denied the fact. On the complaint of the lord of Carouge, the combat in closed field was ordered by decree of the parliament, contrary to the practice, which wanted that the king only granted this permission. The husband was his wife's champion against Jacques Legris. The list was established in the Sainte-Catherine culture, where battles and jousting were usually done. The lord of Carouge was led there by the count of Saint-Pol, and Jacques Legris by the people of the duke of Alençon. The fight took place in the presence of Charles VI, of all the princes of the blood and of the great lords, both of France and of the neighboring countries, who had come to witness this spectacle, announced in the distance for a long time.
Froissard recounts the peculiarities of this duel as follows: "When the Chevalier de Carouge had to enter the mortal battlefield, he came to his wife, who was there in a chariot covered with black, and said to her thus: "Lady, by your information and on your quarrel, I will venture my life and fight Jacques Legris; you know if my cause is just and loyal. “Monseigneur,” said the lady, “it is so, and you will see; fight surely, for the cause is good.” At these words the chevalier kissed the lady and took her by the hand, then crossed himself and entered the field; the lady remained inside the chariot covered with black, in great prayers towards God and the Virgin Mary, praying most humbly that on this day, by their grace and intercession, she might have victory, according to the right she had. She was in great sadness, and was not sure of her life; because if the thing turned to discomfiture on her husband, it was sentenced that without remedy she would have been arsed (burned), and her husband hanged. - Sir Jean de Garouge fought so valiantly, that he sent his adversary to the ground, and thrust his sword into his body, with which he slew him in the field; and then asked if he had done his duty well; he was answered yes; if Jacques Legris was delivered to the executioner of Paris, who dragged him to Montfaucon, and there was hanged.
Messire Jean de Carouge thanked the king and the lords, knelt down, then came to his wife and kissed her; then they went to the church of Notre-Dame to make their offering, and then returned to their hotel.
The second duel that we are going to cite is that of Jarnac and the Châtaigneraie, a famous duel whose memory is perpetuated in the proverbial expression of Jarnac's blow, to signify a sudden attack which one does not think of parrying. We will see in this account what circumstance gave rise to this word, which has since become so popular.
François Vivonne de la Châtaigneraie and Guy Chabot, Sire de Montlieu, who since then bore the name of Jarnac, were born in the same province and had been pages of François I. Both distinguished themselves in combat; but during the leisure of peace, Vivonne exercised herself only in arms; he had obtained such renown in all kinds of fencing that no one dared to put him to the test. He abused this superiority (Lacretelle, History of the Wars of Religion). Montlieu announced milder inclinations; he was distinguished by polite manners and a delicate gallantry, which indicated rather the amiable courtier than the intrepid warrior. Vivonne, perhaps jealous of the reception given to Montlieu by the court, spread the most insulting rumors about the baroness of Jarnac, Montlieu's mother-in-law, adding that it was she who provided for the extravagant expenses incurred by her beau. -son. This scandalous rumor, after occupying the court, came to resound even in the castle where lived the baron de Jarnac. Filled with indignation, he summons his son. Montlieu threw himself at his feet and denied with such force the crime of which he was accused, that he soon dispelled suspicions so disastrous to the honor of his family. Baron de Jarnac and his son are burning to avenge their outrage and leave for court. Francis Ier was at Compiègne. The offense done to one of his old companions seems to him to demand a striking reparation. It allows Montlieu to give a denial to Vivonne in the presence of the whole court. Vivonne, emboldened by the opinion he has of his strength, is not afraid to affirm that he has only repeated what Montlieu confessed to him himself. Immediately the cartels are exchanged; the two champions ask for the fight in closed field. The king's ministers think it must be granted to them. Wiser than his advisers, François Ier refuses it. The chivalry he wanted to maintain was no longer that of the XIIe century. He loved tournaments and jousts, and defended legal fights. Vivonne and Montlieu consequently received the express prohibition to settle by arms a dispute which the king attributed to their thoughtlessness. Francis Ier saw his orders obeyed by two furious enemies; but his death left the field open to their hatred. Vivonne, for two years, had endured the torture of being regarded by the ladies as a disloyal knight; he longed to avenge himself on his adversary for a kind of disgrace for which the friendship of Henry II, whose favorite he was, could not compensate him. The new king gave in to his wishes and allowed the fight.
On the day indicated, we look for everything that can give an air of magnificence to this act of barbarism. Both champions exhaust themselves in expenses for their armor and for their retinue. We take sides: if several courtiers decide for the champion favored by the king, the greatest number remain faithful to the one whose cause interests the ladies. On both sides we invoke the help of God. The arrogant Vivonne was much less fervent than Montlieu in his pious practices. This is the only favorable omen that one conceives for the latter.
The lists opened at Saint-Germain on July 10, 1547. The nobles of the most distant provinces left their dungeons to attend this spectacle so dear to their fathers, and which seemed to them to be renewed too rarely. The balconies are filled with women, all of whom deeply resent the outrage done to the Baroness of Jarnac. A magnificent scaffold is erected for Henry II and for the princes. The Constable de Montmorency is judge of the field. The Duc d'Aumale, who later became the famous Duc de Guise, was godfather to La Châtaigneraie.
The sound of drums and trumpets, mingled with that of bells, announces the legal battle. Vivonne advances into the list with an arrogant air, Montlieu with a modest air: both affirm by oath that their cause is just, that they bear no forbidden arms, and that they have no used enchantments. They strike: all the strength of the Châtaigneraie cannot triumph over the address of Montlieu. Finally, the latter seems to bend under the blows of his adversary; he covers his head with his shield and discharges two blows from the edge of his sword on Vivonne's left knee. We see this knight fall, who had believed his victory infallible. His life is at the mercy of the victor, who can drag his mutilated limbs three times into the lists. Montlieu would blush to use this barbaric right. “Give me back my honour,” he shouts to his rival, “and asks thanks to God and to your king. Vivonne maintains a fierce silence. Montlieu comes and throws himself at Henri's feet. "Sire, I give you my adversary," he said to him: "deign to consider me a good man, forgive the faults of our youth." Take it, sire, in consideration of your glorious father, who fed us both.” The king is silent. Montlieu returns to Vivonne, but without threatening him with his sword. He prostrates himself and repeats three times, striking his chest with his iron gauntlet: Domine, non sum dignus; but, while he prays, Vivonne makes an effort to seize her sword again, rises on her knees and drags herself up to her adversary. "Don't move, or I'll kill you," Montlieu told him. "Kill me, then," resumes Vivonne. Montlieu looks at him with compassion, drops his dagger, and, returning to the king: "Take him sire, he is yours, I give you his life, and I ask God that this brave knight may serve you in a day of battle. - size, as I would like to serve you there myself. Henri is still silent. This second refusal does not prevent Montlieu from using generosity. “Vivonne; my old comrade, he said to his adversary, Vivonne, implore your Creator, and let us be friends again. He gets no response. Will the king finally yield to a new prayer? Montlieu does it with all the eloquence of the heart. The king surrenders, accepts Vivonne as his. The constable and the marshals claim the custom which grants the triumph to the conqueror; Montlieu refuses it. Henry embraces him and says to him: "You fought as Caesar, and spoke like Aristotle." The Duc d'Aumale wanted to pay attention to the vanquished, and could not calm his rage. We withdraw; the multitude threw themselves on the tent where Vivonne had had a magnificent feast prepared for her friends, and plundered the dishes. In the confidence he had of obtaining victory, he had invited, says Brantôme, his friends to be in sight of the combat, saying to them: I invite you on such a day to my wedding. Vivonne, ashamed of his defeat and of owing his life only to the pity of his enemy, tore the bandages that had been placed on his wound, which would not have been mortal, and died three days later.
The combat of Jarnac and the Châtaigneraie is the last which was authorized in France; but in England the last took place much later, in the reign of Charles Ier, between Danald lord Rey and David Ramsey, squire.
The opinion that legal battles were really the judgments of God at one time went so far that in civil matters, when the parties could not agree, or the judges found the law too obscure or could not fall from agreement on its interpretation, the question was decided by combat.
We have even seen convents, chapters bring down champions in a closed field, to defend litigious rights and terminate the lawsuits that the monks or canons had to sustain. Singular jurisprudence, no doubt, that which is decided by the blows of the sword; but each century has its errors, and if we laugh today at those of our fathers, our nephews will also find in ours, no doubt, something to laugh about in their turn.
Several times the councils and the popes forbade duels under the most severe penalties. Philippe le Bel, by an ordinance of 1303, assimilated them to the crime of lèse-majesté, and punished them as such. But what can civil and religious laws do against such a deep-rooted prejudice! It is not new laws which will repress dueling, it is new mores, and religion alone is capable of bringing about this happy change.
Particular battles: du Guesclin, Bayard; the battle of the Thirty.
A kind of combat which had some connection with duels, but which was much more noble and which morality did not reproach so much, were the particular combats which were delivered in time of war between the knights of the two opposing parties. Among the ancients, where the duel was unknown, these fights were much in use: the Iliad and the Aeneid offer a large number of examples, the most remarkable of which are the fight between Achilles and Hector, and that of Aeneas and Turnus; Roman history shows us, among other things, the combat of the Horatii and the Curiati, that of the young Manlius, etc.
It is easy to conceive that in the time of chivalry, when the battles themselves were hardly
than hand-to-hand combat, there must have been frequent challenges between the warriors of the two armies. Often a noble and valiant valiant, and desirous of pitting himself against an enemy knight whose reputation equaled and surpassed his own, had sought him in vain in the fray; then he took advantage of a truce or a day of rest granted to the troops of the two parties, to provoke him to a particular combat. Such a call never went unanswered. Sometimes this provocation was made by two, three, or even a greater number of knights, against an equal number of enemies. These fights could only take place with the permission of the chiefs; besides the general laws, always scrupulously observed on these occasions, the combatants established particular conditions or laws to which they also complied. Fewer preparations were made for combats of this kind than for parades and jousts, and fewer ceremonies, no doubt, than for judicial duels; however one always tried to surround them with all the apparatus and to give them all the brilliance that the circumstances could allow.
Our history, especially during the knightly period, is full of facts of this nature; in the midst of this multitude of brilliant actions, of traits of valor and audacity, one is embarrassed to make a choice when one wishes, like us, only to give a few examples of what was practiced in particular combats. We have given preference, and we hope that the reader will be grateful to us, for a few feats of arms taken from the lives of two of our bravest and most renowned knights, du Guesclin and Bayard: one, which supported with his mighty sword the fortunes of France tottering under the blows of Edward III and the Black Prince; the other, a living tradition of ancient chivalry, of which he was the last and one of the noblest representatives, at a time when it was already only a memory. We have ended this chapter with the combat of the Thirty, one of the most remarkable and brilliant episodes of the wars of the fourteenth century.
In 1356, the Duke of Lancaster besieged the city of Rennes. Du Guesclin, whose fame was beginning to spread far and wide, had introduced himself into the place by one of those bold gestures familiar to his intrepidity. Some time later, the Duke of Lancaster, one of the greatest captains of his time, expressed a desire to see the young warrior, and sent him a herald. Du Guesclin complied with this invitation, and during a prolonged interview, in which Lancaster seeks to entice him to his party, an English knight named Bembro enters the room. This Bembro was highly esteemed in the army; he was related to the governor of Fougerai, whom du Guesclin had killed some time before. The Englishman, without respecting the presence of his general, speaks to Du Guesclin: “You have taken Fougerai, he says; you killed Bembro, my relative, who was governor of it; I want to avenge his death, and I ask to make three strokes of the sword against you. "Six," replied du Guesclin quickly, shaking the Englishman's hand, "and more than six, if you like." »
Bembro had among the English the same reputation for strength and bravery as that which Du Guesclin enjoyed among the Bretons. The two knights took day for the following day, and Bertrand promised to go in the morning to the camp of the English, where the combat was to take place.
The Duke of Lancaster wanted at first to oppose it; but as Bembro was a man of high birth, and as, moreover, in spite of his esteem for Du Guesclin, he would not have been sorry to see him vanquished by one of his knights, he consented to have everything prepared for him. fight. He then dismissed Du Guesclin, who was escorted with great honor to the city gates.
Scarcely had Bertrand arrived there when he gave an account to the governor, the Chevalier Penhoët, of what had passed in his interview with the Duke of Lancaster, and of the combat in which he was engaged the next day. Penhoët blamed him for having accepted him, and made him feel how imprudent he was to have thus embarked on an affair where he found himself alone or little accompanied in the midst of an enemy army, which could give help to his adversary. and facilitate his victory.
These considerations were not capable of stopping Du Guesclin; the next morning he went to the camp of the English, as he had promised. On his arrival, all the trumpets of the army were heard; those of the city answered them. This warlike noise attracted to the ramparts and to the field of battle an infinite number of citizens and soldiers who wanted to witness the struggle of the two bravest knights of the two parties.
Bembro was tall, well built, robust, and seemed adept at all kinds of exercises. He was waiting for his antagonist, mounted on a warhorse and all covered with shining weapons; the English considered with satisfaction his height, much more advantageous than that of du Guesclin, and his proud and imposing air. The Duke of Lancaster, with the judges of the camp, was at one end of the career. Soon Du Guesclin arrived, who had dressed himself that day more magnificently than usual, and posted himself opposite his adversary. At the given signal, the two champions set off, and rush one upon the other with equal impetuosity. Du Guesclin slightly wounds Bembro; but he himself is stunned by a heavy blow he receives on his shield. They provide a new career, always with an almost equal advantage; the third race takes place without more result, and the fight was about to end; but du Guesclin, who believed that it was to be beaten not to win, proposed a fourth race to his adversary. Bembro accepts; the two champions charged with renewed fury, and du Guesclin finally knocked the unfortunate Englishman down at his horse's feet, where he instantly expired. The whole camp shudders at the fall of this brave warrior. Du Guesclin himself regretted it; but perceiving that the English soldiers were looking at him with angry eyes, he gave Bembro's horse to the camp herald, and hastened back into the town, where he was received to the acclamations of all the inhabitants.
Three years later, du Guesclin had another opportunity to signalize his courage and skill in another single combat against an English knight; the issue was less bloody than that of the first, but it was no less glorious for the Breton knight.
In 1339, Lancaster besieged Dinan, and du Guesclin defended it. During a truce, Thomas of Canterbury, a knight distinguished by his birth and by his courage more than by his virtues, jealous of the glory of du Guesclin, arrested one of his young brothers who was walking alone, having no weapon but his sword, and took him prisoner. "He wanted to insult you," they say to the hero, "and have an opportunity to fight you." At the same time he mounted his horse, left the town and arrived at the tent of the Duke of Lancaster. There he found the young Duc de Montfort, who, with the aid of the English, was supporting his claims to the Duchy of Brittany against Charles de Blois, who had du Guesclin and the French in his party. Montfort did not like Du Guesclin, but he esteemed him, and, although his enemy, he could not, on this occasion, refrain from blaming the conduct of Thomas of Canterbury, who fought for him.
Du Guesclin demanded justice and claimed his brother. The Duke of Lancaster sent for Thomas of Canterbury to report to him on his conduct. This knight arrived a moment later, and entered the tent with a proud and insolent air. The duke, piqued at his impoliteness, told him sourly that he had done an action unworthy of a knight in taking du Guesclin's brother prisoner during the truce, and at the same time ordered him to return this young gentleman to Bertrand, who came to claim it. The proud Englishman replied that he had been entitled to arrest Du Guesclin's brother, and that he would prove this right to him when he thought fit. At the same time he threw down his battle token. Du Guesclin picked it up immediately, and shaking his adversary's hand with force: "You want to fight," he said to him; I want it too, and I will make you known for a villain and a traitor. The combat took place in Dinan, and the Duke of Lancaster was present.
Du Guesclin, fully armed, had been waiting for his enemy for a long time, when he finally appeared; but he no longer had that proud and daring air which had still further increased Bertrand's anger at the Duke of Lancaster's. He seemed indeterminate and willing to compromise. Du Guesclin would not hear of it, and told him to get ready to fight. The two adversaries immediately attack each other; but at the first blow Bertrand blew away the Englishman's sword, and, dismounting quickly from his horse, he picked it up and threw it out of the barriers. Canterbury, seeing him on foot, wanted to take advantage of his advantage and put his horse over his body. Du Guesclin notices this, wounds his horse, and thus forces him to dismount; so he throws down his sword, to fight his enemy on equal terms. The struggle began hand to hand; it was long, but at last the English were defeated, overthrown and disarmed. The Duke of Lancaster asked pardon for him and obtained it; but he dismissed him ignominiously from the army.
Bayard's life is no less fruitful than that of du Guesclin in brilliant feats of arms of this kind. During the wars in Italy, Bayard had taken prisoner a Spanish lord named Don Alonzo de Soto-Mayor; he was related to Gonzalvo of Cordova, general-in-chief of the Spanish army, and he was no less distinguished by his bravery than by his birth. Bayard had taken him to the castle of Monervine, where he was garrisoned, and he gave him the whole castle for prison, demanding his word of honor that he would not try to escape before having paid his ransom. , fixed between them at a thousand ducats. But after fifteen days of captivity, during which Bayard had never ceased to show his prisoner the most delicate attentions,
the Spaniard, profiting, or rather abusing, of the freedom he had been granted on parole, won over a soldier of the garrison and fled with him towards Andres, a town occupied by the Spanish army. Bayard noticed this escape, and before Alonzo had time to reach his people, he was joined and brought back by the horsemen whom the French knight had sent in pursuit. The latter expressed to the Spaniard all the indignation which such a lack of faith inspired in him, and, no longer able to trust his word, he had him locked up in a tower of the castle; but, for the rest, he continued to treat him with all the consideration a man of his condition could expect.
A few days later a trumpet arrived accompanied by a servant of Alonzo, who brought the agreed ransom. Bayard immediately distributed it to the garrison, and set Soto-Mayor free. Back with his family, the Spaniard complained of having been ill-treated by Bayard, no doubt wishing thereby to excuse his lack of faith in the French knight, and thus explain the motive which had induced him to escape. These words were reported to Bayard; the latter, outraged at the bad faith of a man whom he had showered with consideration, wrote to him as soon as he had to deny in front of his people the remarks he had made, otherwise he would force him to do so. disavowal by fighting against him on foot or on horseback, as he chooses. Alonzo replied proudly that he would never retract the word he had spoken, and that no one, not even Bayard, was capable of compelling him to do so; that, moreover, he accepted the proposed fight, within a fortnight, in such a place as would be designated. Bayard, although violently tormented by fever, was delighted with this determination of Alonzo, and he hastened to ask the general-in-chief for permission to fight; it was granted to him without difficulty.
When the day had been fixed for the fight, don Alonzo wrote to the knight to beg him to be plaintiff and to see fit that don Alonzo should stand as defendant. This proposal tended to become masters of the choice of weapons and the way of fighting. Bayard consented to whatever the Spaniard wished, saying: On a good quarrel it is little for me to be plaintiff or defendant. Having become master of the conditions, Don Alonzo, who knew all the superiority of Bayard on horseback, decided that they would fight on foot, armed with all arms, enhanced with armet and bavaria, with their faces uncovered, with Vestoc and the dagger.
When the day came, Bayard, having his friend Bellabre as second or godfather, and accompanied by several lords, went to the place indicated. Soon Alonzo arrived, with an almost equal number of Spanish lords; he immediately sent Bayard two swords and two daggers to choose from; the latter took the weapons he needed at random, without bothering to make a choice. Then proceeded to the ceremonies in use on these occasions: the two champions took the usual oaths and entered the field, each from an opposite side. Bayard was accompanied only by Bellabre and the lord of La Palisse as judge of the camp; Alonzo had Don Quiguonese as godfather, and Don Athanese as judge of the camp. Bayard, when he had entered the camp, said his prayer on his knees, kissed the ground, got up making the sign of the cross, and walked towards his enemy with the same assurance and the same calm as if he had gone to a party. Don Alonzo came forward with an air no less intrepid, and said to him: “Lord Bayard, what do you want from me? "I want to defend against you, Don Alonzo de Soto-Mayor, my honor, of which you falsely and badly accused me." Instantly they swooped down on each other impetuously. At the first shock, Bayard wounds his adversary in the face; but this not very dangerous blow only redoubles the fury of Alonzo. The Spaniard, taller and more vigorous than Bayard, at this moment weakened by fever, observed him to surprise him in the flank and seize him by the body; but the Frenchman had his eye everywhere, and parried all the blows that were dealt him. The fight was long, and while it lasted victory was balanced with nearly equal chances of success. The spectators trembled and each made wishes for the warrior of their party: the French feared that Bayard's illness would not allow him to sustain such a prolonged struggle; the Spaniards, although reassured by the strength and skill of Alonzo, would have preferred to see him fight with any other knight than the one who had so often made them feel the power of his invincible arm. Finally, after both of them had tried all the tricks, all the feints imaginable to hit each other in the absence of their armor, Bayard, seizing the moment when the Spaniard raised his arm to hit him, carried him with the lightning rapidity a thrust of his sword point in the gorget; the force of this blow is such that, in spite of its goodness, the gorget is broken, and the French knight's weapon sinks several inches into the throat of his adversary. The latter, seeing his blood flow in abundance, becomes more furious and more terrible: he makes incredible efforts to seize his enemy by the body and overwhelm him with his weight; but Bayard parries his blows with skill, avoids with agility an embrace which could be fatal to him, until he realizes that Alonzo was weakened by the loss of his blood; then throwing himself on him headlong, he kisses him and squeezes him with such force that they both fall and struggle for some time on the ground; but Bayard stabbed Alonzo vigorously with his dagger, shouting to him, "Surrender, Don Alonzo, or you are dead!" The unfortunate Spaniard did not respond to this summons, for he was already dead. Don Quiguonese, his second in command, noticed this and said to Bayard: "Lord Bayard, what do you ask of him?" don't you see that he is dead?
He threw himself on his knees to thank God for having given him the victory, and got up after having kissed the ground three times. Then he returned Alonzo's body to his godfather, saying to him: "Lord Diégo, I am giving you this body which is at my disposal according to the laws of war, I would like with a good heart to give it back to you alive." Then the Spaniards prevailed, making heard complaints and groans; the French led the victor back to the garrison, to the sound of war music and the acclamations of the multitude.
After this event, there was a truce of two months between the French and Spanish armies. The Spaniards were inconsolable at the death of Soto-Mayor, and they burned with the desire to avenge him. During the truce, the officers of both sides often went for walks to the garrisons of the opposing party. One day a troop of thirteen Spanish men-at-arms found themselves near the Place de Monervine, whence Bayard and his friend d'Oroze had come out to take the air. We greeted each other on both sides, and soon the conversation began. One of the Spanish horsemen, named Diégo de Bisagna, who had been in Soto-Mayor's company and could not forgive Bayard for his death, spoke: "French lord," he said, "it is only a week since the truce lasts, and already it bores us; I don't know if it produces the same effect on everyone; but if it were, you could, while it lasts, play with us a game of ten against ten, twenty against twenty, more or less, in equal numbers; I make a point on my side of finding something to support you, agreeing that the vanquished will remain prisoners of the victors. At these words the two friends looked at each other smiling, and Bayard hastened to reply to the Spaniard: "Lord, we accept with the greatest pleasure, my comrade and I, your proposal." You are thirteen men-at-arms, promise us to find you in a week at Trani; we will go there in the same number, and we will see who will have the honor. The Spaniards promised, and everyone returned.
The two friends, having arrived at Monervine, informed their companions of the meeting with the Spaniards and of the rendezvous given. Everyone wanted to take part in this fight; we finally agreed on the choice of thirteen champions. On the day and at the place indicated, the two small troops of each party arrived, each accompanied by a large number of friends of their nation and a crowd of curious people. The conditions of the game were immediately settled; the limits of the list were fixed, and it was agreed that whoever passed these limits would remain a prisoner and would not fight any more during the day; it was also decided that anyone dismounted could no longer take part in the fight; finally, that if night came without the victory being decided, if only one champion remained on horseback on each side, the combat would be over, and each would retire and take his companions on either side.
When all the conditions had been thus established, the two parties came face to face, and, lance in rest, charged with vigor. We have seen that one of the principal laws of chivalry was not to direct lances against horses. The Spaniards, interpreting in their own way the clause of the conventions which no longer allowed the dismounted knight to take part in the fight, only endeavored to wound the horses, and from the first shock they killed eleven, so that Bayard and d 'Oroze found themselves alone on horseback. This stratagem, which was a veritable abuse of conventions, did not succeed with their authors; for their horses would never pass over the bodies of those who were beaten, in spite of the redoubled blows of spurs and all the means employed by the Spaniards to excite them. Bayard and his friend, left alone to support such a disproportionate attack, skilfully took advantage of this circumstance: each time the opportunity seemed favorable to them, they charged their adversaries, and when these returned en masse on them, the two Frenchmen retreated behind the dead horses and made a rampart of them. Several Spanish horsemen were seriously wounded and a greater number disarmed, and, although thirteen against two, they were never able to penetrate into the camp of the French, who sustained this unequal struggle for more than four hours, and until nightfall. forced the two parties to separate. No one had the advantage; but the honor of the day remained with the two Frenchmen, who had been able to maintain themselves for so long against so many adversaries.
This same campaign was marked by one of the most brilliant feats of arms of which history has preserved the memory, and which alone would have sufficed to immortalize the knight without fear and without reproach. Although this fact is not exactly of the nature of those which are the object of this chapter, we thought it necessary to recall it here, because all that concerns the glory of the French knights can never be out of place in this work.
In 1503, the Spanish army was encamped on the left bank of the Garillan, and the French occupied the opposite bank. The dearth of provisions and fodder, which made itself felt in the French camp, forced the cavalry, which formed the greater part of the army, to go afar and establish themselves in large detachments to procure subsistence. Instructed by his spies, Gonzalvo of Cordoba, general of the Spanish army, crosses the river on a bridge which he had built without the knowledge of the French, and making them attack on another point to divert their attention, he advances with the rest of his troops to surround them. Only a prompt retreat could save the army. The French general ordered it; it took place in good order, supported by several companies of men-at-arms who formed the rear-guard, with fifteen brave men, among whom was Bayard. They protected the march of the army, which the Spanish light cavalry constantly harassed to delay it and allow Gonzalve to reach it (Anquetil, Histoire de France). Suddenly Bayard sees a body of Spanish cavalry of two hundred men who had taken the road to the heights to fall, at a certain distance, on the French infantry and stop their march; this troop was heading towards a narrow bridge by which it was to debouch into the plain, and if this movement encountered no obstacles, the French army would be over. Bayard understood the full extent of the danger, and, without wasting time in communicating his observations to the general-in-chief, he rushed towards the bridge, followed by a single squire. Seeing soon the enemy column arriving on him: "Run," he said to his squire, "run to get help while I go and occupy them as best I can." While the latter carried out this order, Bayard, the spear at rest, placed himself on the deck. The Spaniards, seeing only one man, do not think that he wishes seriously to dispute their passage, and they continue their march, laughing at the temerity or the folly of such an adversary; Bayard swoops down on them impetuously, and with the first blows he delivers four men-at-arms are knocked down, two of whom fall into the river. Animated by the loss of their comrades and by the shame of seeing themselves stopped by a single warrior, the Spaniards attack him with fury; but he, sword in hand, supports their efforts, and, while parrying the blows that are dealt to him, multiplies his own so much that the enemies believe they are dealing, not with a man, but with a supernatural being. Doubtless such a combat could not last long, and soon the exhausted forces of Bayard would have betrayed his courage; but he was fortunate enough to hold out long enough to give his squire time to bring to his assistance a hundred men-at-arms, who extricated him and deprived the Spaniards of all hope of crossing the bridge.
Of all the partial combats fought according to the customs of chivalry, the most famous is without a doubt that which took place in Brittany, in the moors of Ploërmel, between thirty Breton knights or squires and an equal number of Englishmen, and which is known as the Combat of the Thirty.
During the civil war which devastated Brittany in the fourteenth century, Jean de Beaumanoir, friend and comrade-in-arms of du Guesclin, had embraced, like him, the party of Charles de Blois, against his competitor Jean de Montfort. Charged with the defense of Josselin, this warrior groaned to see, in defiance of a truce which had been concluded between the two parties, the English garrison of Ploërmel traversing the countryside and aggravating, by robbery and murder, the evils inseparable from the war.
“By means of a safe-conduct, Beaumanoir went to find the commander, Sire Jacques Bembro, and reproached him for making a bad war; the Englishman replied quickly, the quarrel heated up. The result of the interview was that a combat of thirty against thirty would take place on the following March 27 (1351), between Ploërmel and Josselin, at the midway oak.
Back in Josselin, Beaumanoir announced this news to the Breton gentlemen who made up the garrison. Everyone wanted to take part in this expedition; Unable to satisfy them all, he chose nine knights and twenty-one squires. Among these brave men were the Sire de Tinteniac, Guy de Rochefort, Yves de Charruel, Geoffroy du Bois, Guillaume de Montauban, Alain de Tinteniac, Tristan de Pestivien, Geoffroi de la Roche, Mellon, Poullart, Rousselet, Bodegat, etc.
Bembro could not find in his garrison enough English on whom he could count to make the number of thirty in an action so important for the glory of his nation; he admitted only twenty Englishmen to his troop; the others were Germans or Bretons of the Comte de Montfort's party. The principal English knights were Robert Knole, Croquart, Henri de Lescualen, Billefort, Hucheton, etc.
All the combatants, armed from head to foot, were exact to the rendezvous. A crowd of spectators, curious to witness this bloody tournament, had come to the field of battle. When it came time to come to blows, Bembro seemed to hesitate. This combat, fought without the authorization of the respective sovereigns, was, he said, irregular. Beaumanoir replied that it was too late to break off such a close match, to lose such a fine opportunity of proving who had a finer friend.
Immediately the signal was given, and the two troops charged in such a terrible manner that all present shuddered. The combatants were ranged in two lines, and each had his adversary in front; their weapons were unequal, having had the freedom to choose those which suited them best. Billefort used a mallet weighing twenty-five pounds, and Hucheton a mower hooked and sharp on both sides, and so on the others. The advantage was first for the English, who killed Mellon and Poullard. Pestivien was wounded by a hammer blow; Rousselet and Bodegat were killed with mallets and taken prisoner, as well as Charruel. Beaumanoir, animated by this loss, redoubled his blows, and the others followed his example. The English yielded to them neither in strength nor in courage. The two parties, exhausted with fatigue, retired together to take breath and refresh themselves. Beaumanoir took advantage of this moment of relaxation to
to exhort his people: "If we have lost five men," he told them, "we will have all the more glory to triumph." "As for me," said Geoffroi de la Roche, "I would fight with more courage if I were armed as a knight." "You will be," replied Beaumanoir, and immediately gave him the hug, reminding him of the great deeds of his ancestors, who had once distinguished themselves in the wars of the East against the Saracens.
After a few moments of rest, the fighters came to blows again, with the same determination as before. Suddenly Bembro launches himself on Beaumanoir, seizes him by the body and summons him to surrender; but at that moment Alain de Kérenrais struck Bembro with a spear in the face and knocked him down; at the same moment Geoffroy du Bois, finding the flaw in his cuirass, passed his sword through his body. The death of the chief threw astonishment into his troop; but Croquart taking the floor: “Comrades,” he said, “count on your courage, and the victory is ours; close your ranks, stand firm and fight like me. The English close together, and the combat becomes more furious than it had been before.
However the three Breton prisoners, although wounded, taking advantage of the disorder caused by the death of Bembro, escaped and went to join theirs to fight again. Beaumanoir was wounded at this moment; out of breath, overwhelmed with fatigue, he was tormented by a burning thirst and asked for a drink. Geoffroy du Bois, having heard him, cried out to him: Drink your blood, Beaumanoir, and your thirst will pass. These words revive him; he returns to battle and makes new efforts to break through the enemy ranks; but it was useless. Finally Guillaume de Montauban mounted his horse, seized his lance, and pretended to move away from his troops. Beaumanoir, having seen him, called out to him: "False and bad squire, where are you going?" why are you abandoning us? you and your race will be reproached forever. Montauban, without being astonished, answered him: Good work on your part, Beaumanoir, and I will do everything on my side. Scarcely had he uttered these words than he pushed his horse towards the English, broke them, and knocked down eight of them in going and returning. The Bretons took advantage of this disorder and entered the thinned ranks, where they wreaked terrible carnage. A good part of the English were killed. The others, among whom were Knole, Gaverley, Billefort and Croquart, were taken prisoner and taken to the chateau of Josselin. Thus the victory of the Bretons was complete, thanks perhaps to the ruse of Montauban. D'Argentré, in his Histoire de Bretagne, observes that the warriors of the two parties all fought on foot, with the exception of Montauban; but that apparently combat on horseback was not forbidden, since the English raised no claim on this subject (D'Argentré, Hist. de Bretagne, liv. VI, chap. xxvii. — Dom Moris, Hist. de. Bretagne, book VI.)
To complete the History of Chivalry, it remains for us to speak of the chivalrous orders, particular institutions born within the general institution. The limits that we have set for ourselves in this work do not allow us to enter into great detail in this respect; for the history of several of these orders could by itself furnish the material for a much more extensive and voluminous book than this one, where our main object has been to present a picture of historical and military chivalry properly so called. .
These particular orders or associations of knights may be divided into three classes: the first comprises those fabulous societies which only exist in romance, such as the Knights of the Round Table; the second, the serious orders, born most of the crusades, having a real aim, and of which the principal ones are the Templars, the order of Saint John of Jerusalem, the order of the Teutonic knights, etc.; the third, finally, is made up of purely honorary orders, which one might even call frivolous, having no important aim, such as the order of the Garter, that of the Golden Fleece, etc. We will not speak of the knights of letters and of laws, nor of the chivalry of the ladies, all modern institutions and which announced the decadence of primitive chivalry, which is the subject of this work.
Lacurne de Sainte-Palaye maintains that the Round Table was a kind of rejoicing and feast of arms much like tournaments and jousting; it was a sort of battle of honour, so called because the knights who had fought there came, on their return, to sup with the one who had given the feast, where they were seated at a round table. This form had been adopted so that there would be no distinction in the seats occupied by the guests. Matthieu Pâris, XNUMXth century historiane century, speaks of a solemn game of the Round Table, which was celebrated in the year 1252, during the octave of the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, near Walden Abbey. Here is how he explains himself: "The same year, knights wishing to maintain their skill and their courage by military exercise, unanimously resolved to try their strength, not in one of those war festivals known as name of tournaments, but rather in this military game called the Round Table. But these military games of which Matthieu Pâris and Sainte-Palaye speak were only a weak imitation of the famous and marvelous Round Table of King Artus and his twelve companions, the Lancelots, the Tristans, the Gauvins, the Bliombéris, etc. ., all the heroes of the court of Cramalot.
The famous enchanter Merlin had used all his art to make this table. He had built the seats which surrounded him to the number of thirteen, in memory of the thirteen apostles. Twelve of these seats only could be occupied, and could only be so by knights of the highest renown; the thirteenth represented that of the traitor Judas; it always remained empty. It was called the perilous siege since a bold and proud Saracen knight had dared to sit there, and the earth having opened up under this siege, the Saracen had been engulfed in flames.
A magic power engraved on the back of each seat the name of the knight who was to occupy it: it was necessary to obtain one of these seats, when it became vacant, that the knight who presented himself there still exceeded in value and in high deeds. the one he wished to succeed; without it, this knight was violently repelled from it by an unknown force; if, on the contrary, he fulfilled all the required conditions, it happened then that at the moment when King Artus, holding the recipient by the hand, presented him to the vacant place, a celestial music made hear harmonious sounds, exquisite perfumes filled the air, the name previously inscribed on the seat faded, and that of the new knight seemed to sparkle with light. It was the only test, and no doubt it was quite sufficient, that the Knights of the Round Table subjected to all those who had the pretension of replacing the companions whose loss their order had to regret (The Count of Tressan, in Tristan the Leonese). But let us leave all these tales of twelfth-century novelists to occupy ourselves with more serious and, above all, more real institutions than that of the Round Table.
At the time of the Crusades, at the most brilliant epoch of chivalry, there were formed religious orders of chivalry which had, in addition to the general regulations which usage everywhere imposed on chivalry, special regulations. Like the monastic orders, they had a ruler and a leader, and within this stronger, tighter organization they displayed their chivalrous qualities with greater energy. Their motive was generosity, the protection of the weak; for they were instituted to protect pilgrims in the holy land, and to succor the very tomb of Christ. Their monastic character forbade them the other motive of all chivalry, love; from their austere religious chivalry they had banished that earthly and worldly feeling, which had become a sort of cult for the other knights; only one lady was for them the object of a particular devotion, it was the celestial lady, as is expressed a legend of the Middle Ages, the Virgin Mary. But these fundamental sentiments of chivalry, subject to a powerful organization which shared in the discipline of a camp and the severity of a rule, gave the world the spectacle of the brilliant fortune of these orders which conquered provinces, founded cities and even empires.
It is enough to cast a glance at the history at the time of the institution of religious chivalry, to recognize the important services which it has rendered to society. The Order of Malta, in the East, protected trade and resurgent navigation, and was, for more than a century, the only bulwark that prevented the Turks from rushing into Italy (See the History of the Knights of Malta); in the North, the Teutonic order, by subduing the wandering peoples on the shores of the Baltic, extinguished the hearth of these terrible irruptions which have so much faith (Idem.s sorry Europe: it gave time to the civilization to make progress and perfect these new weapons which put us forever safe from the Alarics and the Attilas (Chateaubriand. Genius of Christianity)
In Spain, the knights of Calatrava, Alcantara and Santiago de l'Épée did no less service to Christian Europe, fighting the Moors and stopping the conquests of Islamism. The Christian knights took the place of the paid troops, and were a species of regular militia which moved where the danger was most pressing. The kings and barons, obliged to dismiss their vassals after a few months of service, had often been surprised by the barbarians. What experience and the genius of the time could not do, religion did; it associated men who swore, in the name of God, to shed their blood for the country; the roads became free, the provinces were purged of the brigands who infested them, and the enemies from outside found a dyke to their ravages (id.). Nothing is more admirable in its origin than these institutions placed under the all-powerful influence of religious ideas. Let us see them especially in the East, where they have to fight all together against the terrible diseases which reign in this country, and against the implacable enemies of the religion of Jesus Christ. Christian charity demands all the affections of knights, and demands of them a perpetual devotion to the defense of pilgrims and the care of the sick. The infidels admired their virtues as much as they feared their bravery. Nothing is more touching than the spectacle of these noble warriors whom one saw alternately on the field of battle and in the asylum of sorrows, sometimes the terror of the enemy, sometimes the consolation of all those who suffered. The Grand Master of the Military Order of St. John took the title Guardian of the Poor of Jesus Christ, and the knights called the sick and poor our lords. A more incredible thing, the Grand Master of the Order of St. Lazarus, instituted for the healing and relief of leprosy, was to be taken from among the lepers. Thus the charity of the knights, in order to enter further into human miseries, had ennobled in a way what is most disgusting in human illnesses. This great master of Saint-Lazare, who must himself have the infirmities which he is called upon to relieve in others, does he not imitate, as much as one can do on earth, the example of the Son of God, who took on human form to relieve mankind? (Michaud, History of the Crusades, t. V.)
The different phases of the life of religious orders correspond to the successive periods of the general life of chivalry; they begin with the purest, most disinterested enthusiasm, with an admirable devotion to charity: the Hospitallers, before becoming the glorious knights of Rhodes and Malta, and playing a role in history, were, like their name indicates it, simple hospitallers, devoting themselves to serving the sick in Palestine, etc. The warlike order of the Teutonic Knights, which conquered part of northern Europe, was founded by some Germans from Bremen and Munster who were at the siege of Saint-Jean-d'Acre, and who, under their poor tents covered with a ship's sail, collected the plague-stricken and the wounded. The beginnings of the Templars are also touching; but soon ambition and cupidity develop in this order; Valor still subsists there, but worldly passions, worldly interests penetrate it more and more: the history of the order and its tragic end are there to attest to this.
After the serious orders came the frivolous orders; the princes wished to seize upon the chivalry which was expiring, and to make of an independent power an instrument of their own power. They founded orders of which they were the center, of which they themselves traced the regulations, the statutes, of which they determined all the ceremonial. Sometimes, at the same time as these new orders were a pomp, a decoration, they were a political means. Thus the Golden Fleece, which was above all an opportunity for the Court of Burgundy to display its magnificence, contains in its regulations certain articles which require all knights to make known to the Duke of Burgundy, born head of the order, anything that could concern the security of his person and the security of the State; it was therefore, under magnificent semblance, a means of politics and policing. The same injunction was reproduced in the French orders. Louis XI created his Order of Saint-Michel out of a feeling of rivalry with regard to the Duke of Burgundy, who had created that of the Golden Fleece; the Order of Saint-Michel was later joined to the Order of the Holy Spirit, founded by Henry III, and both bore the name of the King's Orders, a name appropriate to this entirely monarchical chivalry.
Finally the chivalric orders took a last form, always moving further and further away from their origin, they became simple military rewards, and no longer had anything of the old orders except the name. Such was the order of Saint-Louis, such is that of the Legion of Honor, a kind of chivalry of equality, to which all ranks, all classes, all professions of society can claim, and which, despite its doubtless not very feudal origin, it is nevertheless an order which has ranks, where the ribbon is found, the last vestige of the old scarf, and where, next to the new word fatherland, appears the old word chivalrous honor (MJ-J. Ampère, Revue des Deux-Mondes, February 1838. We have borrowed part of the observations contained in this chapter from the articles on chivalry published in this collection by this learned writer.).