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Beduer, usually styled the Constable, from his filling that office in Arthur's court, is characterized in the romance of Erec and Enide as one "Qui molt sot d'eschas et tables." His attendance on Arthur in his last moments, with the adventure of the sword Escalibor, forms an interesting chapter in the Morte d'Arthur, ii. 440. The last knight in the list, Mador de la Port, is introduced into the romance of Lancelot and the Morte d'Arthur, as the accuser of queen Guenever, on behalf of his cousin Sir Patryse, who had been poisoned by some apples at a banquet instead of Gawayne, for whom the fruit had been treacherously prepared. See Roman de Lancelot, iii. f. clixb; Morte d'Arthur, ii. 321.
P. 23, 1. 567. Askez erly his armez, and alle were thay brozt, etc.
This entire stanza and the following one are valuable for the minute description they contain of the mode of completely arming a knight at the close of the fourteenth century. The order was as follows:-A carpet was first brought, on which the various pieces of gilt armour were laid. The knight then was clad in a doublet of expensive Tarsic silk, (which was, doubtless, padded, to protect the body,) and next a skilfully made hood (capados), closed above, and bound within with some soft material (blaunner). The steel shoes were then placed on his feet, and his legs covered to the knee with steel greaves, to which were affixed knee-pieces (poleyns) well-polished, and fastened with knots of gold. After this, fair cuisses were affixed to his brawny thighs, and tied beneath with thongs, and afterwards the byrny or haubergeon of mail, consisting of steel rings sewed on a fair stuff. Well-burnished braces then are placed on his arms, with good elbow-pieces (couters), and gloves of plate. Above all he wore his coat-armor, or jupon; his gold spurs were fixed; and his sword attached about him by a silken girdle. Thus accoutred he hears mass, and afterwards, before mounting his horse, puts on his helmet, or bacinet, which was strongly stapled, and lined within; it sat high on his head, and was hasped behind; with a light urisoun over the aventaile, or part protecting the face, embroidered with gems on broad silken borders, with birds and truelove-knots interspersed so thick, as if it had been the labor of many ladies for seven years. Around the helmet was a circle of diamonds. The shield and spear complete the knight's equipment. Compare with this the passage in p. 75, and plate 14 of Skelton's Illustrations of Antient Armour, 4to, 1830.
Ibid. 1. 572. A crafty capados, closed aloft.
I have met with no other instance of this term except in the present poem, but
its derivation is clear, from the French cap-à-dos, and, doubtless, means a hood or close cap, descending low in the neck. Compare ll. 186 and 1930.
These were steel shoes or clogs to protect the feet, from the French sabot, Spanish sapato, and were at an earlier period termed sollerets. They are mentioned in a poem quoted in Sir Walter Scott's Notes to Sir Tristrem, p. 374, ed. 1833.
And some also dempte most sureste
To arme them for battel of areste,
Sabatons, greves, cusses with voyders.
The poem is cited as "Clariodes, MS.", but as these lines do not occur in the romance of Clariodus, published by the Maitland Club, it would be very desirable to know where Sir Walter's authority is preserved. The term again occurs in a curious MS. in the Lansdowne collection, No. 285, written for Sir John Paston, in the reign of Edward IV, and subsequently the property of Sir Thomas Wriothesley, the elder, Garter. "First ye muste set on sabatynes, and tye them vpon the shoo, wt smalle poyntes that wille [not] breke; and than griffus, and than quysshews, and than the breche of maile, and than towlettes; than the breste; than the vambrace ; than the rerebrace, than the gloovis," etc., fol. 9. See Archæologia, vol. xvii. p. 295, where the whole passage is copied, but not very accurately; and vol. xx. p. 496.
Ibid. 1. 576. With polaynez piched ther to.
This term for genouillieres or knee-pieces of plate, is as old as the reign of Edward the First, in whose household-book it is found. See Du Cange, v. Polena, and Dissert. on Joinville, p. 184, fol. 1668. The word is preserved in the Wallace, viii. 1203, and Rauf Coilzear, ap. Laing, sign. B. iv.; and Jamieson is clearly mistaken in his explanation of pullaine greis, which mean greaves furnished with kneepieces. See also MS. Harl. 6149, fol. 46.
Ibid. 1. 583. With gode couters and gay.
From the French coudière, la partie qui couvre la coude. In the inedited romance of Morte Arthure is a curious passage, which as it refers to a combat between Sir Gawayne and Sir Priamus, I may be excused quoting here.
And gyrdes at Syr Gawayne, as he by glentis,
W the venemous swerde a vayne has he towchede,
With the valyant blode was verrede alle ouer.
MS. Linc., A. 1, 17, f. 80b.
Ibid. 1. 592. So harnayst as he watz he herknez his masse.
Thus in the Roman du Saint Graal, f. clxib, 4to, 1516, it is said of Gawayne, "Ne jamais Gauvain ne partoit d'ung logis sans ouyr messe, s'il povoit, ny oncques ne trouva damoiselle qu'il ne secourust." See also Ritson's Metr. Rom., iii. 241.
P. 24, 1. 597. Bi that watz Gryngolet grayth, etc.
The name of this celebrated horse furnishes an additional proof of the acquaintance possessed by the author of the early French romances. In the Roman de Merlin, pt. ii. f. lxxii”—lxxiv, is the account of his acquisition by Gawayne from the Saxon king Clarion, who rode "le Gringalet, ung cheval qui ainsi avoyt à non, pour la grant bonté de quoy il estoit plain; car le compte dit, que pour dix lieues courir il n'en faisoit que le cerf, à tout ung chevalier armé de toutes pieces, ne si ne le failloit point picquer ne petit ne grant, ne jamais poil ne luy sua." We meet with the same steed in the Conte of Le Chevalier à l'Espée,
Les armes reçut un vaslet,
Uns autres prist lou Gringalet.
Meon's Fabliaux, i, 134.
Again, in the metrical Roman de Perceval,
Trestoz fors le Gringalet;
Plorant s'en revont li valet.
MS. Coll. Arm. f. 199.
which in the prose text (4to, 1530, f. xxxiii) is thus rendered, "et remenassent ses chevaulx, fors ung bien petit palefroy," evidently shewing that the later writer did
not understand his original. In the old German version of Wolfram von Eschenbach, who appears to have followed Guiot, a Provençal author, rather than Chrestien de Troyes, we find the lines,
In The Awntyrs of Arthure, Gawayne's steed is simply named Grisselle, st. xlii.
Ibid. 1. 607. Hit watz hyze on his hede, hasped bihynde,
Wyth a lyzth vrisoun ouer the aventayle,
Much time has been spent, but without success, in endeavouring to find other instances of the term urisoun, which would seem to have been the same as the cointisse, or "kerchef of plesaunce," such as it appears on the effigy of Aymer de Valence, who died in 1323. See Stothard's Monum. Effigies, fol., 1817, and Sir S. Meyrick's Critical Inquiry, ii. 57. But in the former work, p. 12, in describing the bacinet, Stothard writes, "The camail, and what was called by the French a hourson, to which may be added a strap, was to attach the whole by means of a buckle, to the haubergeon or plates." Whence did Stothard derive this term? I answer, in all probability from MS. Harl. 6149, in which at fol. 46, are regulations "How a knyt suld be armyt in tournay;" and among them occurs, Item, bacynet à tout le hourson, and ane escussone of balayne apone the nek, couerit wt ledder, etc. And apone ye bacynet a coife of mail, and a faire offroy befor on ye front, quha will." These regulations are printed at length in the Archæologia, vol. xx. p. 510, and in the Critical Inquiry, vol. i. p. 155, but, I regret to add, very incorrectly; and the explanation of the terms used is very wide of the truth, as may appear by comparing the original French text, printed in Du Cange's seventh Dissertation on Joinville, p. 184. It is a curious circumstance, which must have escaped the notice of the author of the Inquiry, that the same regulations were previously printed more accurately by Leyden in his rambling preface to the Complaynte of Scotland, 4to, Edinb., 1802, p. 57, and there given as an extract from an heraldic MS., written and therefore conjectured to have been composed by Sir David Lyndsay, in 1586; and on such doubtful grounds large excerpts were made, and an argument drawn to prove the author of the Complaynte and the writer of the heraldic MS.
to have been one and the same! But the fact is, that the contents of this Heraldic MS. (now in the Advocates Library, marked W. 4. 13.) were literally transcribed by Lyndsay from the Harleian MS. 6149, which latter volume, as appears by several entries in it, was translated out of French into Scotish at the command "of anne wirschipfulle man, Welzim Cumyn of Inverellochquy, alias Marchemond Herald, be his obedient sone in the Office of Armes, Kintyre purseuant," in the year 1494. In Lyndsay's time the Harleian MS. was no doubt preserved in the Scotish Office of Arms, which easily accounts for its transcription, and at once destroys all the superstructure raised by Leyden on its contents. In the French text, the word which occasioned this note is written houson; in Leyden it is printed howsone, and in Meyrick housson, and interpreted housing. I am, however, inclined to believe that hourson, the reading of the Harleian MS., is correct, as established by the line in the romance cited above.
Ibid. 1. 615. The cercle watz more o prys.
This is not the padded wreath worn from the time of Richard II. to Henry IV. on the bacinet, but the more splendid band of goldsmiths' work, enriched with jewels. It is called “bourdoure" in the Awntyrs of Arthure, st. xxx. 1. 4, and said to be “alle of brynte golde." See numerous examples in Stothard's excellent work; and also consult Du Cange, v. Bacinetum; Roquefort's Glossaire, Suppl. v. Helme; Meyrick's Inquiry, Gloss., v. Helmus; and Planché's Hist. of Costume, p. 160.
Ibid. 1. 620. Wyth the pentangel de-paynt,—
Hit is a syngne that Salomon set sum quyle, etc.
Those who may wish to know the efficacy of this figure, as devised by Solomon, are referred to "Lemegeton, Clavicula Salomonis, or The Little Key of Solomon the King, which containeth all the names, orders and offices of all Spirits, with the seales belonging to each," &c., MS. Sloane, 3825. At f. 221, is the Pentagonal Figure of Solomon, comprising a pentangle within a circle; in the outer triangles is inscribed the name TETRAGRAMMATON, and names of Spirits in the inner divisions. It is directed to be made in O or D, and worn upon the breast, with the seal of the Spirit on one side of it, etc.
P. 25. 1. 636. For thy the pentangel nwe
He ber in schelde and cote.
This appropriation of arms to Sir Gawayne is purely imaginary on the part of