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Edward II., and the mutinous citizens sided with his shameless Queen ; but he had first founded and endowed Exeter College, Oxford. Simon Islip, of Canterbury, one of Edward the Third's six Metropolitans, founded Canterbury College at Oxford, since swallowed up in Christ Church. The next Century, if we might look forward a little, would add to our list the splendid foundation of Magdalen College, Oxford, by Bishop Wainfleet, of Winchester, and Brasennose College, by Bishop Smith, of Lincoln,-"why so called," says Fuller, in recording the deed, “I meet not with any satisfactory reason; but when such who cavil at the name build a College, it shall be left at their free liberty to call it according to their own pleasure.” The Bishops had ample revenues, and hoarding was not the vice of that age; living under the rule of celibacy, families they had none to advance or educate; and the best among them faithfully acted out the principle, that men thus situated, and liberally maintained in places of trust and honour, should look on their worldly goods as consecrated, in a special manner, to the service of God and the advancement of Religion.
Our picture of the manners of that age would be incomplete without some allusion to the laws of CHIVALRY, which then governed with absolute sway all the gentlemen in Europe who bore arms. Certainly we cannot echo the complaints of old Caxton, in the next age, who mourned over the decay of the ancient spirit of Knighthood, as if he had been a fierce warrior instead of an honoured printer. When martial exercises were in such repute, those who excelled in them longed for war in earnest; personal prowess became the passport to a privileged Order, and they who wore its badge were sometimes gentle as well as brave, but quite as often proud and selfish and cruel.
Edward III. trained up a band of gallant men whose names became famous throughout Europe ; but with him it was policy, and not sport, to make the tilting-field a nursery of
When be sent word to France and Scotland, to Burgundy and Flanders, that on a given day he would hold a feast of the Round Table at Windsor, to be attended by Queen Philippa, and three hundred of her fairest ladies, “all of noble and honourable families, in their richest attire,” he meant not merely to make a grand show, but to attract to his standard men who should do him good service in the French Wars. There was a famous gathering of this sort in the year 1344, thus described by Barnes :-“ When this mighty Prince had formed in his head this most honourable design, and had begun to hold his Round Table at Windsor, upon New Year's day, he issued out his Royal Letters of Protection for the safe coming and return of foreign Knights, their servants, and what belonged to them, who being determined to try their valour should come to these solemn Justs. The time appointed being come, the King provided a Royal Supper to open the solemnity, and then first ordained that this festival should be annually held there at Whitsuntide. The next day, and during all this splendid Convention from before Candlemas unto Lent, the Lords of England and of other lands exercised themselves at all kinds of Knightly feats of arms, as Justs and Tournaments, and running at the Ring. The Queen and her ladies, that they might with more convenience behold this spectacle, were orderly seated upon a firm balustrade or scaffold, with rails before it, running all round the lists. And certainly their extraordinary beauties, set so advantageously forth with excessive finery and riches of apparel, did prove a sight as full of pleasant encouragement to the combatants as the fierce encounters of men and horses gallantly armed was a delightful terror to the femi
nine beholders. During these martial sports, William
. Montagu, the great Earl of Salisbury, King of the Isle of Man, and Marshal of England, through his immoderate courage and labour for three or four days together, was at last so bruised and wounded with these boisterous encounters that, falling into a fever thereby, he died within eight days after, to the infinite regret of the King and all the Court, as well strangers as English. But the solemnity notwithstanding was continued to its appointed end ; and all the while, as the men of war thus spent the days in sports more agreeable to their robust nature, so were a great part of the nights devoted to public Balls, Masquerades, and dancing with the ladies which attended the Queen thither."*
Chivalry had its freaks and follies, as well as its more serious purposes, and much that was done by sane men in its palmy days is reflected faithfully in the history of the renowned Knight of La Mancha. The favoured Dulcinea was glorified to a goddess. The fame of her beauty was to travel wherever her devoted servant could find enemies to challenge. Life was cheap when set against her smile, and mortal quarrels passed for deeds of virtue if provoked by any disparagement of her surpassing excellence. We read of a company of Knights who, when starting for a campaign in France, put a patch over one eye, vowing, at the same time, to their mistresses, that it should never be removed till some notable feat of arms had been performed to their honour.
Under Richard II. the same spectacles were repeated; but they had degenerated in his day to mere Court Entertainments, and formed one of the many outlets of prodigal expenditure which made his rule oppressive and odious. London streets, in the great thoroughfares, are not so quiet on the holy day as we should like to see them; and I, for one, wish success most heartily to the Cabmen's Sunday Rest Association ; but stranger sights were seen in the olden time, when men went to Mass early, and got their religious observances over pretty soon. On the Sunday next after Michaelmas Day, in the year 1390, says Froissart, “about three o'clock, there paraded out from the Tower of London, sixty barded coursers ornamented for the tournament; on each was mounted a squire of honour that advanced only at a foot's pace; then came sixty ladies of rank, mounted on palfreys, most elegantly and richly dressed, following each other, every one holding a Knight with a silver chain completely armed for tilting; and in this procession they moved on through the streets of London, attended by numbers of minstrels and trumpets to Smithfield. The tiltings were well and long continued, until night forced them to break off.” The day concluded with a banquet and a ball at the Bishop of London's Palace, near St. Paul's, where the Queen and her ladies were lodged.
* Barnes's History of that most Victorious Monarch, Edward III.,
Dress is another thing we.cannot help having some curiosity about. I cannot tell you how the ploughman habited himself; neither the quality of his working garments, nor the cut of his Sunday coat, is anywhere recorded that I can find. But I think we may very safely assume that they were much more convenient and rational than the adorn. ments of the Knight and Squire. An English beau of the Fourteenth Century wore long-pointed shoes, fastened to his knees by gold or silver chains,-hose of one colour on one leg, and of another colour on the other,—short breeches which did not reach to the middle of his thighs,-a coat one half white, and the other half black or blue,—a long beard,-a silk hood buttoned under his chin, embroidered
with grotesque figures of animals and dancing men, and sometimes ornamented with gold, silver, and precious stones. The dress of the ladies was no less fantastic; and the old miniatures are full of fair dames whose garments are exactly divided into two sides of different colours. Sometimes we find the family coat of arms embroidered on the petticoat, giving it much the appearance of a herald's coat. One of the most grotesque parts of the female apparel was the high cap, sometimes raised in the form of a cone three feet above the head, with streamers of silk flowing from the top to the ground. A gold or silver girdle, with an embroidered pouch, and a small dagger, completed the costume of a fashionable lady of Edward the Third's time.* One very interesting fact to half the human race I find recorded in a pleasant little volume called Our English Home; its Early History and Progress. That whereas hitherto “my lady arranged her toilet with skewers of bone, wood or silver, in the fourteenth century, the manufacture of pins of white or blanched wire superseded them. In 1347 twelve thousand pins were delivered from the royal wardrobe for the Princess Joan."
The title I have just quoted suggests a wide subject, which it would need much of antiquarian lore to investigate ; and perbaps all that can be collected on the subject, would give us very imperfect notions of the dwellings of our ancestors. Glass was rare and costly. The houses of the wealthy had in them a strange mixture of profuse display with the lack of much that no shopkeeper, nowadays, could spare. Money was lavished on a gorgeous bedstead for the State Room, but feather beds were a novel luxury, and a single specimen enriched the noble’s best apartment. Better still, blankets came into use, and the looms of England sent forth their first instalment
* James's History of the Black Prince, i., 292-4.