« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
This affront could only be expiated by a just with sharp lances. In the course, Lindsay left his helmet unlaced, so that it gave way at the touch of his antagonist's lance, and he thus avoided the shock of the encounter. This happened twice:—in the third encounter, the handsome Courtenay lost two of his front teeth. As the Englishman complained bitterly of Lindsay's fraud in not fastening his helmet, the Scottishman agreed to run six courses more, each champion staking in the hand of the king two hundred pounds, to be forfeited, if, on entering the lists, any unequal advantage should be detected. This being agreed to, the wily Scot demanded, that Sir Piers, in addition to the loss of his teeth, should consent to the extinction of one of his eyes, he himself having lost an eye in the fight of Otterburn. As Courtenay demurr'd to this equalization of optical powers, Lindsay demanded the forfeit; which, after much altercation, the king appointed to be paid to him, saying, he surpassed the English both in wit and valour. This must appear to the reader a singular specimen of the humour of that time. I suspect the Jockey Club would have given a different decision from Henry IV.
Largesse, largesse.—P. 33. This was the cry with which heralds and pursuivants were wont to acknowledge the bounty received from the knights. Stewart of Lorn distinguishes a ballad, in which he satirizes
the narrowness of James V., and his courtiers, by the ironical burden
Lerges, lerges, lerges, hay,
Lerges of this new year day.
The heralds, like the minstrels, were a race allowed to have great claims upon the liberality of the knights, of whose feats they kept a record, and proclaimed them aloud, as in the text, upon suitable occasions.
At Berwick, Norham, and other Border fortresses of importance, pursuivants usually resided, whose inviolable character rendered them the only persons that could, with perfect assurance of safety, be sent on necessary embassies into Scotland. This is alluded to in Stanza XXII. p. 12.
Of Tamworth tower and town.-P. 32. Lord Marmion, the principal character of the present romance, is entirely a fictitious personage. In earlier times,
indeed, the family of Marmion, Lords of Fontenay, in Normandy, was highly distinguished. Robert de Marmion, Lord of Fontenay, a distinguished follower of the Conqueror, obtained a grant of the castle and town of Tamworth, and also of the manor of Scrivelby, in Lincolnshire. One, or both, of these noble possessions was held by the honourable service of being the royal champion, as the ancestors of Marmion had formerly been to the Dukes of Normandy. But after the castle and demesne of Tamworth had passed through four successive barons from Robert, the family became extinct in the person of Philip de Marmion, who died in 20th Edward I., without issue male. He was succeeded in his Castle of Tamworth by Alexander de Frevile, who married Mazera, his grand-daughter. Baldwin de Freville, Alexander's descendant, in the reign of Richard I., by the supposed tenure of his castle of Tamworth, claimed the office of royal champion, and to do the service appertaining; namely, on the day of coronation, to ride completely armed, upon a barbed horse, into Westminster Hall, and there to challenge the combat against any who would gainsay the king's title. But this office was adjudged to Sir John Dymoke, to whom the manor of Scrivelby had descended by another of the coheiresses of Robert de Marmion; and it remains in that family, whose representative is Hereditary Champion of England at the present day. The family and possessions of Frevile have merged in the Earls of Ferrars : I have not, therefore, created a new family, but only revived the titles of an old one in an imaginary personage.
It was one of the Marmion family, who, in the reign of Edward II., performed that chivalrous feat before the very castle of Norham, which Bishop Percy has woven into his beautiful ballad, “ The Hermit of Warkworth.” The story is thus told by Leland:
“ The Scottes came yn to the marches of England, and destroyed the Castles of Werk and Herbotel, and overran much of Northumberland marches.
" At this tyme Thomas Gray and his friendes defended Norham from the Scottes.
“ It were a wonderful processe to declare, what mischefes cam by hungre and asseges by the space of xi yeres in Northumberland ; for the Scottes became so proude after they had got Berwick, that they nothing esteemed the Englishmen.
“ About this tyme there was a greate feste made yn Lincolnshir, to which came many gentilmen and ladies ; and amonge them one lady brought a heaulme for a man of were, with a very riche creste of gold, to William Marmion, knight, with a letter of commandement of her lady, that he should go into the daungerest place in England, and ther to let the heaulme be seene and known as famous. So he went to Norham ; whither withyn 4 days of cumming cam Philip Moubray, guardian of Berwicke, having yn his bande 40 men of armes, the very flour of men of the Scottish marches.
“ Thomas Gray, capitayne of Norham, seynge this, brought his garison afore the barriers of the castel, behynd whom
cam William, richly arrayed, as al glittering in gold, and wering the heaulme, his lady's present.
“ Then said Thomas Gray to Marmion, “Sir knight, ye be cum hither to fame your helmet: mount up on yor horse, and ryde lyke a valiant man to yowr foes even here at hand, and I forsake God if I rescue not thy body deade or alyve, or I myself wyl dye for it.
“ Whereupon he toke his cursere, and rode among the throng of ennemyes; the which layed sore stripes on hym, and pullid hym at the last out of his sadel to the grounde.
66 Then Thomas Gray, with al the hole garrison, lette prik yn among the Scottes, and so wondid them and their horses, that they were overthrowan; and Marmion, sore beten, was horsid agayn, and, with Gray, persewed the Scottes yn chase. There were taken 50 horse of price; and the women of Norham brought them to the foote men to follow the chase.”
And Captain of the Hold.-P. 34. Were accuracy of any consequence in a fictitious narrative, this castellan's name ought to have been William : For William Heron of Ford was husband to the famous Lady Ford, whose syren charms are said to have cost our James IV. so dear. Moreover, the said William Heron was, at the time supposed, a prisoner in Scotland, being surrender