Richard the Redeless


1 That he made war in the west on the wild Irish

2 And confused my mind very much and also my wits

3 Whether God would give him grace soon to make amends

4 There is no ruler alive who might conduct himself better

5 So long as he can read English, my life dare I wager

6 Let your wisdom correct it, together with learned men

7 But those who pursue their flesh and their frail thoughts

8 Who lawlessly led your life and that of your people also

9 And taken away was your revelry and rest, because your days were wicked

10 Or by legal proceedings well tempered with love

11 But what became of this crown there is a clerk who knows

12 And paid them on their heads when their pennies failed

13 Lines 66-67: "When serving-men and nobles be equally powerful, / Most wretched are the homes and all who live in them!"

14 Those who feared your law guided you with love

15 There would have been neither murder nor knavery among the powerful

16 Lines 90-91: Or common fellows you consorted with of Harlequin's ilk, / Scorning the laws pertaining to royal governance

17 But because you listened to knaves in this case I affirm

18 That (the molting) deprived your beasts of their bold demeanor

19 They separated and went different ways for summer was slipping away

20 And spoke to the common people as the king's spokesmen

21 And thrust out their chests [with the badges] and oppressed the poor

22 I do not know what ailed you, unless it was loose living

23 There was no person of your land who did not behave as a subject should

24 And cast down the crock (soup pot) amid the coals

25 Every kingdom divided against itself shall be brought to desolation (Luke 11)

26 Who loved you with full loyalty before the practice of livery began

27 For when you wished to be supported by your own limbs (see note)

28 And fail to uphold the law because of powerful lords

29 But how the lords have comported themselves, God knows the truth (see note)

30 You would have had hearts (supporters) enough at your pleasure to walk and to ride

31 And dispossessed the young deer that wanted justice

32 God hears the cry of the poor, and he judges their cause; David in Psalms

33 And occupies himself earnestly to mantle them with feathers

34 Thus this falcon hunted wild fowl in fields all around

35 That rapaciously always seized revenues and fine robes

36 The free man is called again into slavery because of ingratitude, as in The Prick of Conscience and the civil law

37 I wish to praise the nature of the partridge

38 Because the wretch too seldom scraped up food for their stomachs

39 And polished their beaks and turned towards him

40 Who never studied good government, nor reason's books

41 Provided they are dressed appropriately, they care no further

42 For all his wit in truth is wrapped up in his clothing

43 Those dressed in soft clothing are in the houses of kings: in the Gospel

44 Through such insufferable swaggering, which destroys the kingdom

45 Lines 168-69: For they for the piecing pay twenty times more / Than the cloth itself cost, so expensive is the craft

46 But to pursue their pleasure all the days of their life

47 Who were serious in their statements and knew how to be patient

48 And how calmly that steadfast one stood among this frivolous crowd

49 That is, prudent management of revenues and the favor that follows from it

50 That each realm under the arch of the rainbow

51 And by laborers on the land so that livelihood does not fail

52 That each person attended to what pertained to his age

53 For it is as appropriate for men of twenty four years

54 And to ruin arrogant men who acted against right

55 That wisdom and late hours dwell far apart

56 Always surrounded with advantages, and never encountering setbacks

57 And cancel all the legal accusations of those who bring nothing

58 And pled at piepowder courts all manner of complaints (see note)

59 "They understood no legal pleading, as the commons reported" (D&S)

60 Without any answer except for the person who hated his life

61 And were dubbed by a king (leader) for their erstwhile judgments

62 As for example [the earls of] March and Mowbray, and many others as well (see note)

63 When the accounts were reckoned, with the wool customs

64 And when the riot and the revels thus surpassed their income

65 "In deceiving the great, lest [legal] grievances arise" (Sk)

66 We are hardly worthy to receive our payments

67 Lines 55-56: And some had supped with Simon (ecclesiastics) the night before / And appeared for the shire and gained nothing thereby

68 No judge (man of the judge's bench) from the borough or somewhere else

69 Each one of them would have been thrown backwards overboard


Abbreviations: B: Barr's edition of RiR; D&S: Day and Steele's edition of RiR; IMEV: Carlton Brown and Rossell Hope Robbins, Index of Middle English Verse; MED: Middle English Dictionary; MEPW: Dean, ed., Medieval English Political Writings; MS: Cambridge University Library MS Ll.iv.14; OED2: Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed.; PP: Piers Plowman, ed. Schmidt; 6ES: Dean, ed., Six Ecclesiastical Satires; Sk: Skeat's 1886 edition of RiR; Sz: Paul Szarmach's transcription of the MS; Usk: The Chronicle of Adam Usk, ed. Given-Wilson; WGO: Dean, The World Grown Old in Later Medieval Literature; Wr: Wright's 1838 edition of RiR


Prologus. I use Sk's and D&S's editorial designations for poem divisions - here indicated within brackets - toward the beginning of the work because some of the material in the traditional Prologue seems roughly parallel to the Prologue of Langland's PP. The MS does include passus markers after I.114 ("Passus secundus"), after II.192 ("Passus Tercius"), and after III.371 ("Passus quartus"). B argues against a Prologue, designating the first unit as Passus I. She makes no division after line 87 (beginning "Now Richard þe redeles"). The MS contains large capital letters at Prologue line 1; Passus I lines 1, 20, 49; Passus II line 1; Passus III lines 1, 37, 110; Passus IV line 1.

1 And as I passid. The poem begins abruptly, which has suggested to some editors that material has been lost before the manuscript's first lines. But other poems begin with the word "And"; for example, "And by a chapell as Y Came / Mett Y whyte Iesu" (IMEV 298) or John Audelay's "And loue þi god ouer al þyng / þi ne3bore as þi self I say" (IMEV 304). The large capital "A" of "And" is in red.

2 Bristow. The author is familiar with Bristol and the location of Christ Church. This town also is important in the conflict between Henry Bolingbroke, the duke of Lancaster, and Richard after Henry's return from exile. Bolingbroke, along with the Percies of Northumberland, the Earl of Westmoreland, and the Duke of York (whom Richard had appointed as Regent when he went to Ireland), trapped Richard's favorites and advisors - William Scrope, treasurer of England, Sir John Bushy, formerly Speaker of Parliament, and Sir Henry Green - as prisoners at Bristol on 28 July 1399. These were executed as traitors to the realm on the following day.

9 Richard. The scribe or a reader has underlined this proper name and many other names and terms in red. In the opening 25 lines the following words are so underlined: "Richard" (line 9); "Henrri" (line 11); "prince" and "Walis" (line 23); and "kynge" (line 24). For this and other details about the manuscript I am indebted to Paul Szarmach for his close inspection and transcription of it.

11 Henrri . . . est half. Henry of Lancaster landed at Ravenspur on the lower Humber on 4 July 1399, while Richard was waging a campaign against the "wilde Yrisshe" (line 10). He quickly set out for Pontefract Castle - a Lancastrian bastion - and thence to Bristol. The Percies joined him at Pontefract. His rapid progress south through the midlands perhaps caused the author of RiR to proclaim him the "greehonde" (greyhound). See below II.113 and note.

17 parceit. This word, which Sk glosses as "power of perception" and B as "perception," means "the power of understanding" or "comprehension" (MED, s.v. parceit, 1, cit-ing this line from RiR).

25 as a liage to his lord. MS: as a lord to his liage. Sk follows the MS, but D&S, B, and Sz all transpose since the poet is liege rather than lord.

27 wuste. D&S and B emend MS: wost (2 singular pres. indicative) for the past tense. "MS. wost; but see Pass. i. 11.49 and 64, below" (Sk, I, p. 604).

28 geve. So D&S and B; MS and Sk: 3eue; Wr: 3eve. The "g" sound rather than the "y" sound is required for the alliteration, as in ageyn in line 29.

33 preie. MS: preise. B's emendation.

41 D&S move this line to line 45.

43 croune. So Sk, D&S, and B. MS and Wr: grounde. Grounde in this line is dittography (inadvertent repetition) from grounde in the previous line and does not alliterate, as croune does, with Cristen and kyng.

50 fondyd. So Sk, D&S, and B. MS: fordyd, with n written above the r. The fyve wyttis here means, as in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (lines 640 and 2193), the five senses. The senses can have moral as well as physical value, for example, as guardians of the soul in PP. Sir Inwit (conscience, moral sense) has "fyve faire sones":
Sire Se-wel, and Sey-wel, and Sire Here-wel þe hende,
Sire Werch-wel-wiþ-þyn-hand, a wi3t man of strengþe,
And Sire Godefray Go-wel . . . .
(B 9.19; 20-22)
See; Say; Hear
Work; powerful
51 tretis. David Lawton has argued that alliterative poets, claiming to be "God's instrument," would refer to their work in "the morally elevated term 'tretyse'" ("The Unity of Middle English Alliterative Poetry," p. 80).

56 rode of Chester. B notes that the same oath is used by Sloth in PP, V.460 (p. 251), though, given the author's apparent concern for the king whom he would counsel in this section of the poem and the loyalty of the Chester retainers to Richard, the oath may have additional significance.

60 make it more better. The humility trope is common in late fourteenth-century poetry as the author presents his work for amendment or correction.

68 shall fele fawtis. Sk, I, p. 605, suggests that fynde has been omitted and emends the line. The sense of fele (adj.) in his reading would be "many." B reads fele as a verb (albeit not in the usual participial form) and glosses the term "discover." I have followed her reading.

69 youghthe. So Sk, D&S, and B; MS, Wr: youghe.

72 culorum. Short for in saeculum saeculorum. This contraction ('culorum) signifies, as in passus IV.61 (or in PP A III.258, B III.280, C III.432), "final meaning," conclusion, or "when all is said and done" and which closes prayers, hence the essence of something. In the MS "culorum" is underlined.

77 My sovereyne. Ostensibly his king is Richard; but since he will attack Richard and his government so forcefully at the beginning of passus I, he might be referring to Henry. In another sense the appeal might be to a Lord whose reign will never go astray.

[Passus Primus]

6 daiez. MS: daie3.

weren wikkid. I follow D&S and B in adding these two words to the end of line 6. In the MS, Weren wikkid begins line 7.

8a Radix omnium malorum cupiditas. In the margin, glossing "coveitise" (line 8).

17 peté. A corrector has somewhat clumsily emended this to pyte. The phrase preysinge of polaxis is in this context ironic.

20 derklich endited. "obscurely composed," an important phrase repeated at III.63. The MED glosses derkliche in signification 2 as "Of speaking or writing: (a) in a veiled or figurative manner; allusively, mysteriously, subtly; (b) vaguely, obscurely." The author, who seems to draw on both significations in his narrative, foregrounds his technique of alluding to historical persons through heraldic animals (Henry of Hereford is variously the greyhound, the eagle, the hen, and the falcon; his supporters are chickens or waterfowl; and so forth). His metaphors can become extended and mixed. See the Introduction.

25 gostis. So Sk, B; Wr reads gestis, and this might be the correct reading. It appears that a corrector has altered the e of gestis to o.

26 harnesse. So the MS, Wr, Sk, and B. D&S emend to harmesse ("harms," "injuries").

32 Ye come . . . knewe. Richard's father, the Black Prince, died in 1376 and King Edward III, Richard's grandfather, died in 1377, elevating Richard to the kingship at the age of eleven. The sentiment here echoes the biblical admonition, "Woe to thee, O land, when the king is a child" (Eccl. 10.16; and see PP Prol. 195a). Usk frames his chronicle as follows: "Many great things were hoped for in the time of this Richard's reign; but, because he was tender of age, other persons who had charge of him and of the kingdom did not cease to inflict wanton evils, extortions, and other intolerable injustices upon the realm" (p. 3).

35 vertuous. MS: vertus, with ou written above the u.

42 derve. So Sk, D&S, and B (derue). Wr in this line and at line 69 reads derne, dark, secret, hidden. The MS minims can support either reading but derve, from OE deorfan, makes best sense in this context, and this is the sense supported by the MED (s.v. derve, 2, and glossed as "precious" [jewel]).

46 ther it be oughte. B, noting the defective alliteration in the half-line, inserts "pounced" (embossed) after it and before be.

51 nest. So MS; Wr: neft.

55 pannes. With a quibble on pence.

58 huntyd. So Wr, Sk, D&S, and B; MS: hunyd.

61 that ye with ferde. As with language elsewhere in RiR, this line contains echoes of moral lyrics on the transitoriness of the world such as "Al es bot a fantum þt we with ffare" (IMEV 189; compare 190).

66-67 The charge of social climbing and a ruinous leveling of class distinctions as a sign of social decay was common in satirical and prophetic literature. See PP B III.203-05; Piers the Plowman's Crede, lines 748-51 and note to lines 748-49, and The Plowman's Tale, lines 301-08, in 6ES; and Thomas of Erceldoune's Prophecy, line 15 and note, in MEPW. These two lines are bracketed in the MS.

67 Woll wo. Sk emends to Well wo.

73 not. So D&S, B; MS: nott (?). It is not clear that the scribe intended the second t, which is faint.

77 nadde. MS: had not written above in a different hand.

78 cautell. MS: crafte written above in a different hand.

79 youre hervest is ynne. The clear implication is that it is a bitter harvest: as you sow, so shall you reap. Also, as Sk observes, "you need not expect further help" (II, p. 290).

80 wyteth. So Wr, Sk, D&S, B (wyte[t]h); MS: wyteh. Sk translates: "Blame not your council, but rather yourself for it, viz. for the fact that ill fortune has befallen the faithless" (II, p. 290).

83 clerlie. So D&S and B. MS and Wr: clergie. Sk: [þoru] clergie. The scribe regularly spells this word clergie, including at III.26 and 190.

85 kayseris. So Sk, D&S, B; MS, Wr: Kayseceris. In the MS lordes / rulers is written in a different hand above Kayseceris. As the author anticipates a future readership for his poetic treatise, he situates it in a "mirror for princes" tradition. See Judith Ferster, Fictions of Advice, pp. 36-37.

86 sir. MS: lorde written above in a different hand.

89 yeme. MS: guyde/rule written above in a different hand.

90 Hurlewaynis kynne. The kin of Harlequin would be goblins or sprites who cause mischief in the night. B thinks this phrase applies especially well to Richard's much-criticized favorites Robert de Vere, John Bushy, William Bagot, and Henry Green (the latter three comprising Shakespeare's "caterpillars of the commonwealth"). The further implication from the entire passage is that these ministers are too common to help Richard govern effectively; hence they remain strangers to the nature ("kynde") of statecraft.

99 busshinge adoun. This phrase refers to Richard's ruthless treatment of those who, in the poet's judgment, were most loyal to him: the Appellants Arundel (executed), Gloucester (murdered), and Warwick (banished). In busshinge - explained by Sk as "pushing, butting" - there is wordplay on John Bushy, one of "Hurlewaynis kynne" (line 90). Richard's despised favorites were often the subject of such wordplay, as in There is a Busch That Is Forgrowe (in MEPW), whose anonymous author attributed Gloucester's death to Bushy.

100 a fals colour means "false pretence; as in Acts xxvii.30. This false colour was Green; see Pass. ii. 153" (Sk, II, p. 290).

113 burnes. MS: barons written above in a different hand.

Passus Secundus

2 lyverey. MS: the first y written over an e, here and in most other instances of the word (II.26, 35, 57, 60, 79, 93, 104; III.182, 330). So too the y in by (II.83 and III.41) and brymme (II.80). Sk, D&S, B, and Sz all read e, as in levere, be, and bremme, all of which instances are suited to the dialect. I have followed the y forms (which also suit the dialect) on grounds that it is not possible to determine whether the correction has been made by the original scribe or a later normalizer. It is perhaps of interest that the use of y in these instances brings RiR into conformity with practices in Mum.

Livery were uniforms identifying men used as a private army; and the liveries usually included identifying badges as well as colors. King Richard provided livery to special troops or household retainers - such as the Cheshire guard - who wore badges as well. The king's special badge was a white hart (see II.4). The hart in Passus II becomes the chief element in an extended metaphor of hunting and exploitation of the poor by violent retainers, either those of Richard or of powerful barons. Magnates retained their own armies, which made for considerable complaint in the late fourteenth century. In 1390 Parliament passed the Statute of Livery and Maintenance outlawing private armies and their uniforms. For a discussion of the social implications of this statute, see Paul Strohm, Social Chaucer (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989), pp. 18-20. See also Mum line 803 and note.

3 gaf. So D&S, B: [g]af; MS, Wr, Sk: 3af. The alliteration in this line and in Prol.28 requires the "g" rather than the "y" sound.

9 Egle. The Eagle is Henry Bolingbroke. "That the Eagle means Bolingbroke is placed beyond all doubt by Pass. iii. l. 69. An eagle was one of the numerous badges of his grandfather Edward III" (Sk, II, p. 292). The Eagle is capitalized by the scribe in this line and elsewhere in the poem. It is also sometimes underlined in red.

14-17 They severid . . . half yere after. Richard's ministers flee, but they retain their horns (i.e., they are still dangerous).

16 togedir. to was inserted above the line.

17 yere. MS: a inserted above yere to indicate a yere.

20 merke his liegis. This refers to the sign of the White Hart, Richard's special badge or emblem, which identified his special liege-men.

25 Or. So MS, Wr. Sk, D&S, and B emend to Of, which is possible (dittography from lines 24 and 26); but the difficulties of syntax and meaning in this passage are not eliminated by the emendation.

28 many curse servid. Although an early reader has written "deserved" above servid in the MS, the sense is that people were served curses as if they were receiving legal writs of summons. See also II.185 and note.

40 Lieges. So Sk, Wr; D&S and B read Liages. The MS vowel is either an a or an imperfectly formed e.

43 homeliche hertis. The quibble on hertis = Richard's harts and hertis = men's "hearts" is most explicit in this phrase: those of simple heart receive the injuries from Richard's ravaging hertis.

50 Tyl. So Sk, D&S, B: (Wr: Ty[ll]). MS: Ty with l inserted with a caret.

53-54 Yit am I lewde . . . To coveyte. D&S translate these lines: "Yet I am ignorant, and manifest little of any good quality which could entitle me to covet, &c."(p. 90).

55 how. So MS, Wr, Sk; D&S, B: what.

56 ladde. So Sk, D&S, B; MS and Wr omit.

57 begynne. So MS and Wr; Sk, D&S, B emend to beganne.

61 fayled. So D&S, B; Wr, Sk: ffolwyd. The word ffayled is written above ffolwyd in the MS.

62 lene to youre owen lymes. This is a figurative expression referring to Richard's acting with the aid of his supporters (limbs). The king, as director of the body politic, should be the "head," but Richard has dispersed political authority among his favorites. See Introduction, pp. 8-9.

64 wankel. D&S's excellent emendation, adopted by B. MS, Wr, and Sk: feble, which is probably dittography from the previous line and which spoils the alliteration.

69-76 Reson - here close to the virtue of Prudence - speaks as an allegorical figure, agreeing that a counselor must advise a lord with caution and yet he must speak the truth to protect his lord.

93 For. So D&S, B; MS, Wr, Sk: And.

94 gayes. Sk glosses this word as "ornaments": "a gay signifies anything gaudy or gay, as a highly coloured child's picture, or a fine piece of clothing . . . . It here refers to the badges and privileges already spoken of" (II, p. 293). Although this is doubtless the case, the syntax in this line requires personification of gayes or persons who wear the badges.

102 sowid. MS: shewed written above.

106 had costis. MS: had may be stricken, though it is unclear; in appears in a later hand in superscript. Sk, D&S, and B all read in costis, which is satisfactory, but so is had costis. Sk emends aboughte at end of the line to aboute, as does B.

108 privy. D&S gloss this word as "manifest" rather than "secret" or "special" and explain: "Apparently a ME. adjective 'preue,' proved, manifest, was confused by scribes, with 'preue,' privy" (p. 90). Sk glosses as "secret, special."

113 good greehonde. Henry of Lancaster (Bolingbroke), even though he has already been cast as the eagle (II.9). He may be called the "greehonde" because of his swift progress through England from Ravenspur to Bristol after his return from exile. But the chronicler Adam of Usk explains the eagle and greyhound symbolism for Henry in terms of the prophecies of Merlin and John of Bridlington:
According to the prophecy of Merlin, this duke Henry is the eaglet, for he was the son of John; following Bridlington, however, he should rather be the dog, because of his livery of linked collars of greyhounds, and because he came in the dog-days, and because he drove from the kingdom countless numbers of harts - the hart being the livery of King Richard (p. 53).
For the prophecies of Merlin, see MEPW, pp. 9-10; for a Lancastrian application of the prophecy of Merlin involving Henry, see Strohm, England's Empty Throne, pp. 12-13. The author of Mum includes a section mocking Merlin prophecies such as these (see lines 1723-33). In the MS lines 113-14 are joined with a bracket in the left margin.

114 lese. The MED, referring to this line, defines lese as "An establishment, or department in the king's household, for keeping of coursing hounds" (signification 3).

117 thou. So MS (þu), Wr, Sk, B. D&S emends to you based on past practice of addressing the king with ye, you.

118 For litill on youre lyf. Sk translates this line, "For little, during your life, it pleased you to have pity on the inferior sort of deer"; and he comments, "A rascal was a lean deer, fit neither for hunting nor eating. So also in l. 129" (II, p. 293). See II.129n.

129 rasskayle. "The young, lean, or inferior deer of a herd, distinguished from the full-grown antlered bucks or stags" (OED2).

139 a meri. MS: ameri. The idea behind this expression, which becomes proverbial, is that moderation brings joy and happiness in ways that excess does not.

139a Deus exaudit clamorem pauperum. D&S: "Cp. Ps. ix.37-8, 'Desiderium pauperum exaudivit Dominus . . . judicare pupillo et humili." (The Lord hath heard the desire of the poor . . . To judge for the fatherless and for the humble.) There is an insert sign from the marginal quotation that lines up between lines 139 and 140.

140 Thus be the rotus. So MS, Wr, Sk; D&S, B: Thus rend be the rotus.

144 chele. MS: colde written above.

145 Egle the eyere. So Wr; MS, B: Egle þe Eyere; Sk, D&S: Egle the heyere. Egle is one of the words underlined in the MS; it is similarly capitalized and underlined in lines 176 and 190. B, defending the MS reading, argues that "Eyere must mean 'female' in the restricted sense of 'mother'" (p. 267). The eagle is depicted as tending the brood of chicks like a mother hen.

148 ypynned. B emends to [un]-y-pynned because a negative sense seems to be required. The meaning of the passage is clearly "until they have fully fledged" and are ready to exercise their wings.

151 Tyll trouthe the triacle. Sk translates: "Till Truth, the remedy (for slander), told her true tales to some" (II, p. 294).

152-54 Thus baterid . . . sondrid from other. There is obvious wordplay on Bushy, Green, and Scrope in these lines (see above, notes to Prol.2 and I.99). Sk translates so as to highlight this wordplay: "Thus this bird battered the Bushes around, and gathered up men as they walked on the Green, till all the 'scruff' and Scrope parted asunder" (II, p. 294). The poem There Is a Busch That Is Forgrowe - On King Richard's Ministers - begins:
There is a busch that is forgrowe;
Crop it welle, and hold hit lowe,
   Or elles hit wolle be wilde.
The long gras that is so grene
Hit most be mowe, and raked clene -
   For-growen hit hath the fellde.
155-56 He mellid . . . that they had. Sk translates: "'He so mixed the metal with the hand-mould, (i.e. so moulded events) that they lost, of their limbs, the dearest that they had,' i.e. their heads" (II, p. 294).

156 That they lost lemes. So D&S, B; Sk: That [they] lost [of their] lemes; MS and Wr: That lost lemes. Those who lost their heads were Bushy, Green, and Scrope.

157 foulyd. Henry, as falcon, acted as a "fowler" or one who hunts birds. The wild birds are described as kites or predatory birds.

158 kytes. MS: kuyttes, with kytes written above.

159 laughte. MS: caught written above.

164 boynard that his bagg stall. "Bagg" refers to Sir William Bagot, Sheriff of Leicestershire, who went to Ireland to inform Richard of Henry of Lancaster's return from exile.

164-75 But the blernyed . . . all the peple. Sk paraphrases: "The eagle was striving to seize his prey (Lord Scrope), that he might rend his head off; but the blear-eyed scoundrel (Bagot) who had stolen the treasurer's bag, in which the spoils of the poor were often fastened tightly, made the falcon angry, and anxious that Bagot should be bound. But soon after, this wretch (lorell, viz. Bagot) who had led away this looby (Scrope) all the way over forest and ford, fell, on account of his false deeds, into the domain belonging to Henry, and was caught and brought before him and publicly reproved" (II, p. 295).

165 Where purraile-is . . . full ofte. "Wherein the very rags of the poor were often penned or fastened" (Sk, II, p. 295).

167 hadd. So MS, Wr, Sk; D&S, B: nadd. The word hadd seems to be governed by "floter" in the previous line: Henry is anxious that this scoundrel be brought to justice.

170 ladde. MS: hadde. Sk's emendation.

179 ne with. Sk emends to ne [lau3te] with.

lovyd. From lowe, humiliate, abase.

182 reclayme means a call to return to court (and derives from a French word for recalling a falcon).

185 served. A reader has written "deserved" above this word, which seems like the correct interpretation of it. See also II.28 and note.

186 lymed leves. Birds were trapped by spreading branches and leaves with birdlime.

Passus Tercius

1 beu brid. Henry, the "beau" bird (Eagle or falcon). The author says he will turn to the other animals - the harts (noblemen) - and question why they have acted contrary to their interests.

9-10 These two lines are underlined in the MS, as if the reader regarded the sentiment as proverbial or particularly noteworthy.

11-12 Yit clereth . . . mene wolde. The sense of these lines is that just articulating the problem (saying the clause) does not clear up the author's confusion until he investigates further (more mater).

13 that. So MS, Wr, Sk; D&S, B: of. It is possible that the scribe wrote "þt" anticipating the first word of the next line, but the sense is clear with the MS reading. D&S paraphrase lines 13-16: "I mean, with regard to the harts of strength that has come with years, pricked on by good living and their lusty age, that when they have lived 100 years, they grow weak, etc." (p. 95).

18 harmen. So Wr, Sk, B; MS, D&S: armen. Medieval bestiaries contain the legend about stags - first formulated by Pliny and transmitted by Isidore of Seville and others - that the stag, when it grows old, seeks poisonous snakes in order to drink the venom and so renew its aged skin.

23 as his pray asketh. Sk: "as his prey (i.e. the necessity of swallowing his prey) requires" (II, p. 296).

26 clerlie . . . nat. I adopt two emendations in this line. The scribe once again has written clergie for clerlie (see also I.83 and note), although Wr and Sk retain the MS reading. A corrector has inserted nat above the line in the MS, marked with a caret.

26-29 coltis . . . hors . . . swan . . . bere. The references in these lines are to nobles executed, murdered, or exiled in 1397 because of their complicity in events of 1388 at the Merciless Parliament. The horse is the Earl of Arundel, Richard Fitzalan, beheaded on Tower Hill, whose badge was a white horse; the colt stands for his son Thomas, who escaped and joined Henry; the swan is Thomas, Duke of Gloucester, murdered at Calais under the ostensible protection of Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk; and the bear is Thomas Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, exiled to the Isle of Man, whose badge was a black bear. These same symbols appear in Ther Is a Busch That Is Forgrowe and in the prose headnote to John Gower's Cronica tripertita: "There were then three nobles of the realm who were especially disturbed about all this [the events surrounding Richard's deposition], namely, Thomas Duke of Gloucester, who is commonly called the Swan; Richard Earl of Arundel, who is called the Horse; and Thomas Earl of Warwick, whose name is the Bear" (trans. Stockton). The justification for Arundel's execution was his responsibility for the death of Simon Burley, who was executed in 1388 with the connivance of Gloucester, Arundel, and Warwick, despite Queen Anne's alleged begging for mercy on her knees. For more on the swan, horse, and bear, see below, lines 86, 89, 94, and notes to those lines.

32a Propter ingratitudinem . . . in lege ciuili. "The free man is called again into slavery because of ingratitude, as in the Prick of Conscience and the civil law." In the MS the quotation is in the right hand lower margin of fol. 113a. Although the quotation begins on the same line as 30, I place the Latin quotation, with Sk and B, after line 32 (Wr omits). The anaphora of the English lines ("Ne to") would be broken up by inserting the quotation after 30.

37-61 The metaphor now shifts from deer to partridges and their nature as described in medieval bestiaries (books about beasts). The two partridges in this passage stand for Richard, who loses - deservedly - the young partridges to Henry Bolingbroke, the "true mother." In bestiaries the partridge is said to be a "cunning" and "disgusting" bird and "perverted creature" whose male "sometimes mounts the male, and thus the chief sensual appetite forgets the laws of sex." The female will "steal the eggs of another female" even as Richard is said to do in this passage. See T. H. White, The Bestiary: A Book of Beasts (New York: Putnam/Capricorn, 1954), pp. 136-37.

37 bough spareth, that is, birds who build nests on the ground rather than in trees.

42 eiren. So Sk, D&S, B; MS, Wr: heires. Sk's textual note: "MS. heires, which is obviously a blunder; for see l. 50 below. Heires = heirs; but eiren = eggs" (I, p. 616). But heires makes sense too insofar as egg-bearing partridges are concerned with their lineage.

45 congioun. Wr reads this word, which is underlined in the MS (indicating an unfamiliar or doubtful term to the reader), as cougioun.

69 Egle in the est entrid his owen. See the note to Prol.11. Henry of Hereford returned to England to claim the Lancastrian estates after Richard confiscated his inheritance. These lines addressed to the dull-witted Hicke Hevyheed (line 66) - a type - explain and try to justify the author's method of referring to historical personalities in heraldic cypher.

74 hende. MS: the h is in superscript.

79 tenyd . . . twenty yeris. Richard governed from 1377-99. The nestlings - those who follow Henry, the true leader - have complained about Richard's reign for twenty- two years. Tenyd appears in the opening line of the macraronic lyric "Tax has tenet us alle" (MEPW, page 147), a poem on the Great Rising of 1381.

81 tyned. So D&S, B; MS, Wr, Sk: tymed.

82 grotus. MS: e in superscript above the u.

86 swan. The swan refers to Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester, who failid because he died - doubtless murdered - at Calais in 1397 under the ostensible protection of the Earl of Nottingham. In the margin of the MS next to this line: "þe Swan."

87 faucon. MS: ffaucon, underlined in red.

89 hors. The horse refers to Richard Fitzalan, Earl of Arundel, who was beheaded in 1397 under escort by King Richard's Cheshire guards and in the presence of his own son-in-law, the Earl of Nottingham. The poem's assertion that people were upset because of the horse's hirte is an example of understatement. In the margin next to this line: "þe horse."

93 cronecle. Many chroniclers were eager to support Henry of Lancaster as ablest to govern England in 1399. Adam Usk reports that the Archbishop of Canterbury delivered a sermon of the theme "A man shall rule over them," in which "he praised unreservedly the vigour, good sense, and other qualities of the duke of Lancaster, commending him, and deservedly, as ruler" (p. 69). In the same sermon he censures King Richard.

94 bond. So Sk, D&S, B; MS: brond; Wr: broud. The beere refers to Thomas Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, whom King Richard sentenced to perpetual banishment on the Isle of Man. In the margin next to this line: "þe Bear." Henry blythid the bear because he revoked Warwick's banishment (his bond braste).

96 berlingis. Warwick's son Richard and his wife Elizabeth.

97 as. So Sk, D&S, B; MS, Wr: was.

105 They. So Wr, Sk, D&S, B; MS: Þe. Wr reads monside as mouside. The marchall refers to Thomas Mowbray, Earl of Nottingham, the "horse's" (line 106) son-in-law, who was present at Arundel's execution. The Earl Marshall's myssedede was his presence at the execution of Arundel and his blindfolding of him.

106 clothed the stede. Nottingham is said to have bandaged his father-in-law's eyes at the execution. D&S and B, on the strength of Henry Bradley's suggested emendation, read cloyed, "lamed," for MS cloþed, Sk's reading. Wr reads cloped.

111 persith. So MS, Wr, Sk, B. D&S emend to passith, "surpasses."

124 thynchith. So Sk, D&S, B; MS, Wr: thynthith.

126 fresshe foodis. The author in this section describes what other satirical writers call "gallants": overdressed young men who slavishly follow fashion trends, some of them extravagant and even ridiculous, who affect a certain swagger ("strouutynge") and who announce their presence with "Huff!" or "Hof!" See On the Times, lines 117 and 181 (and note) in MEPW.

128a Qui mollibus . . . Euangelio. The Gospel reference is to Luke 7.25: But what went you out to see? a man clothed in soft garments? Behold they that are in costly apparel and live delicately, are in the houses of kings.

136 For. So Sk, D&S, B; MS, Wr: But (repeated from previous line).

lyghtly. So Sk, D&S, B; MS, Wr: lyghly. at the longe goynge. "The 'longe goynge' here signifies death upon the gallows" (Sk, who translates the phrase as "at their long journey," II, p. 299).

136-37 lepith . . . domes carte. The idea is that the person to be hanged, whether finely clothed or dressed in rags (he who never thrived), will swing in the same way from the gallow's rope (leap as lightly) when the hangman's cart drives away. B observes, "The line draws an ironic contrast between the strouutynge of line 134 and the leap made by a criminal from the cart which takes him to the gallows. For all the antics of the overdressed courtiers, they will overreach themselves and come to an unfortunate end" (p. 277).

140 seintis. Sk, who reads seimtis or semitis (Wr: seimtis), comments "perhaps samites. Samite was a rich silk, into which silver was sometimes interwoven. The line perhaps means 'And use all their silver for interweaving with samites or for ornamenting drinking-horns'" (II, p. 299). D&S translates seintis as "belts." It is clear that the finely dressed courtiers are wasting their money rather than using it prudently.

141 for-doth the coyne. A frequent complaint in satirical literature was the debasement of currency through shaving or clipping gold from existing coins or the introduction of coins with debased metals such as the "lushburnes." See WGO, pp. 216-17; Statutes of the Realm, 2:87 (against melting down money and against foreign currency, 1393, anno 17 Richard II); and "Poems against Simony and the Abuse of Money," in MEPW, pp. 179-242.

145 lawe of Lydfford, in londe ne in water. The allusion is apparently to a proverbial legal practice in the court at Lydford: "First hand and draw, / Then hear the cause of Lydford Law" (Sk II, p. 299). Skeat goes on to point out that the court had jurisdiction only in cases "that did not affect land, life, or limb." Sk, D&S, and B emend MS ne to & because ne "seems to have been written over an erasure" (Sk, II, p. 299) and because "in land and in water" is "closer to the legal formula" (B, p. 277). See Alford, p. 89, who notes that "in londe and in water is a legal formula expressing exclusive jurisdiction."

152 slevis slide on the erthe. Fashion dictated long, dangling sleeves for women but also for men, as in British Library MS Harley 1319, fol. 57, showing the empty throne just after Richard's deposition and fashionably-dressed courtiers with elaborate sleeves extending almost to the floor. The fashion began in France, which provided further weapons to those who would denounce the new trends as degenerate imports. See also Chaucer's The Parson's Tale, which denounces "the superfluitee in lengthe of the forseide gownes, trailynge in the dong and in the mire, on horse and eek on foote, as wel of man as of womman" (X [I] 419). For more on these sleeves, see below line 196 and note and line 234.

154 but. Wr's emendation, adopted by Sk and B. The sense of the line requires "unless."

156 Pernell. Pernell, like Felice (line 160) was a "type" in medieval literature: a woman who loves fine clothes, as Pernell in PP who fails to put her "purfill" (trimming) "in hire hucche" (chest); see B IV.116 (A IV.102). In B V.26-27 (A V.26-27), similarly, Waster asks Pernell to put aside "hir purfile" and "kepe it in hire cofre for catel at hire nede." In RiR, Pernell, Felice, and Sir Pride comprise a little fashion group of their own.

159 the jette. This is a term used satirically to describe Chaucer's Pardoner in the General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales: "Hym thoughte he rood al of the newe jet" (I [A] 682). See also The Simonie, line 118, and Above all thing thow arte a kyng, line 10 (as a verb), with the sense of "to swagger": money "makyth the galandes to jett." See MEPW, pp. 197 and 213. In Above all thing thow arte a kyng (MEPW) occurs the following stanza:

In kynges corte, where money dothe route,

      Yt makyth the galandes to jett,

And for to were gorgeouse ther gere,

      Ther cappes awry to sett.

gallants; swagger

their gorgeous clothing

160 Felice. Another "type," like Pernell, from PP: "Felice hir fairnesse fel hire al to sclaundre" (B XII.46).

163 now late. Either the scribe or the reader/corrector has inserted, with a caret, of above the line between now and late (and very possibly in the same hand as the MS); and Sk and D&S read now of late. Wr and B read now late. Since "now late" is a common Middle English expression - see, for example, Chaucer's Book of the Duchess, line 45 - I retain the uncorrected reading.

164 kerving . . . to pecis. Another important new style of men's clothing involving the sleeves was called "dagging" (see below, line 193). The cloth was cut - wastefully, according to satirical writers - to put curves or ruffles on the edges or holes in the fabric at strategic locations. Chaucer's Parson complains of "so muche pownsonynge [piercing] of chisels to maken holes, so muche daggynge of sheres" (X[I]418). In the margin, a reader has written "kervinge of clothes."

167 proffith. So Wr: (pr[o]ffith); Sk, D&S, B: proffit. MS: prffith.

186 beringe uppon oilles. To bear or hold up oil(s) means to use flattering speech, as in John Gower's Confessio Amantis, when men speak not honestly and forthrightly, "Bot holden up his oil and sein / That al is wel, what evere he doth" (7.2194-95; see also 7.2584-85).

187 assises. The court of assizes determined legal matters of fact by means of assessors or jurymen ("sisours"). See Alford, Glossary, siv. Sise, and The Simonie line 469 and note, in MEPW. Assizers were proverbial for bringing false and malicious testimony into court.

190 clerlie. MS: clergie.

193 Duche cotis. That is, German coats. Observers of the English court sometimes wrote satires against extravagant or foreign (hence allegedly outlandish) dress. The point about the "Duche" coats is that they were alien, not English. In 1337 and 1363 the English parliament felt so strongly about clothing that they passed legislation - called sumptuary laws - to restrict dress according to class.

194 scorne. So D&S: (schorn); MS, Wr, Sk, B: scorte. B glosses as "speak slightingly," (p. 123). D&S cite the Paston Letters for the phrase "tell scorn" and comment, "No such phrase as 'tell short' is recorded, though Piers Plowman, B. xii. 124 has 'sette short be here science'" (p. 101).

196 peniles. Peniles may or may not be a personification of a "type," like Sir Pride (line 176), Witt, Malaperte, and Wisdom (lines 226, 237, and 238 below). On the Times mentions a "Purs Penyles" who, with "Galauntes," "behold, wander through the countriside" (per vicos ecce vagantur; lines 117-18 in MEPW). The phrase peynte sleve also appears in On the Times, line 85, for "Jurrers with payntyt sleves" are the retainers of noblemen (inopes famuli dominorum), a fashion detail which indicates both their status and their ruthlessness.

201 couude. So Wr, D&S, B; Sk: coude; MS: co?ude; same at line 219.

218 hales. These are structures, sometimes hastily constructed, for specific purposes. See MED s.v. hale n. (2): "A temporary structure for housing, entertaining, eating meals, etc." The first entry is from the Middle English Yvain: "Arthure . . . made a feste . . . in Wales, / And efter mete, þare in þe hales."

220 Next to this line, in the MS right margin, appears "Wytt was banysshed oute of the courte." In venality satires, the door and doorkeepers - janitores - can be obstacles for the poor or virtuous. See Beati qui esuriunt, line 78 and note, in MEPW, pp. 190, 226.

221 arouutyd. "driven out of the assembly" (Sk). At lines 207-10, D&S speculate that "Somewhere earlier a passage seems to have been omitted describing how Wisdom came to the court and was slighted by graceless courtiers" (p. 101). But the sudden arrival, otherwise unannounced, of a figure of authority is typical of abrupt appearances of Piers Plowman in Langland's poem. Moreover, the narrator here alludes to the story of his expulsion from the court.

222-23 leve . . . he drank. Ironic: the lord and ladies are not pleased with men of discernment and good judgment such as Witt.

228 yhotte trusse. A "trusse" is a pack or a bundle, so Witt is "sent packing" or given the "bum's rush." For this use of yhotte - commanded - see MED s.v. hoten 3a (f).

234 sleves . . . erthe. The rhetorical device of synecdoche, or part for whole, a favorite of Langland's in PP. "Sleves" here are collectively those with fashionable garments featuring long, trailing sleeves. They might be capitalized (like Malaperte in line 237) and hyphenated: "Sleves-that-slode-uppon-the-erthe." For comparable characters in PP, see B IV.20 ("Suffre-til-I-se-my-tyme") and B XX.312 ("Sire Leef-to-lyue-in-lecherie").

237 Malaperte. A personification of an impudent, bold person.

242 governance of gettinge. I.e., "a just mode of getting money, by imposing moderate taxes; a proceeding which will win grace, i.e. favour. In l. 250 it means government, counsel" (Sk, II, p. 300).

249 these thre degrés. The social ranks mentioned in lines 249-53 include wise counsellors of high standing ("of good age"; "grete"); a warrior class in middle age; and laborers to sustain themselves and the other degrees. In the left-hand margins of the MS the degrees are numbered "1," "2," and "3."

254 Thanne wolde reule. So MS, Wr; Sk, D&S, B: Thanne wolde [right dome] reule. The emendation is unnecessary if we understand line 255 as a noun-clause subject of wolde reule (with anacaluthon or shift in syntax). In the right-hand margin of the MS is written "Agaynste yonnge Counsaylors."

260-61 For it fallith . . . geve good redis. The scribe or a reader has marked off these two lines with a connector ({), as if they were proverbial or worthy of special note.

262 kow to hoppe in a cage. Proverbial figure of ungainliness. See B. J. Whiting, Proverbs, Sentences, and Proverbial Phrases from English Writings Mainly Before 1500 (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1968), C499. See also The Storie of Asneth, line 14 (in Heroic Women from the Old Testament in Middle English Verse, ed. Russell A. Peck [Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute Publications, 1991], p. 22).

265 not yffoundid . . . tyme. Augustine notably discusses the origins of kingship in The City of God 4 and 19, which he attributes to lawlessness and Realpolitik. See WGO, pp. 151-52. RiR in this section argues that kings were not ordained originally to follow a pleasure principle but to work, like plowmen, for the common profit. For a discussion of the common good in the Ricardian period, see Russell A. Peck, Kingship and Common Profit in Gower's Confessio Amantis (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1978), pp. xxi-xxv.

268 meyntenourz. MS: meyntenour3. "'To mark "maintainers" with maces;' i.e. to beat them; in contradistinction to the marking with badges mentioned above" (Sk, II, p. 300). "Maintainers" were men who served as a private army for the king or powerful lords; they often wore special livery and distinctive badges.

272 And not . . . daies. "The word not has been dropped, making nonsense of the whole. Restore it, and we have - 'And not to rule like bats (awake only at night), and rest all day,' etc." (Sk, II, p. 300). B glosses daies as "dais."

282 That. So Sk, D&S, B; MS, Wr: What. In the right-hand margin in the same hand as the MS: "nota, nota, nota / Over Watchynge."

287 To do . . . brest. "'To do them right reverence, though his back break,' viz. with stooping. We ought to read hem for him in l. 286, or else him for hem here" (Sk, II, p. 300).

288-89 This warmnesse . . . longe dure. "This glow of wealth may not last long with any mortal wight" (Sk, II, p. 300).

293 hevene. So MS, Wr, Sk; D&S: heuene-[3ate]; B: hevene-[gate]. B in support of her emendation cites PP V.594: "Of almesdedes ar the hokes that the gates hangen on."

295 knew. So Wr, Sk, D&S, B; MS: kne.

299 kew-kaw. This term also appears in the margin. D&S: "the sense of the passage is that the justices have to be bribed" (p. 102). Sk and B understand the term as "sudden change," "subversion," or "reversal." B moves line 305 to line 300.

306 prien affter presentis. In margin: "Takynge of presentes."

307 abateth all the billis. "And put down (refuse) all the complaints" (Sk, II, p. 300).

309 weddis. Legal pledges as surety for some legal action. The syntax of this passage is difficult, but the sense seems to be that people will lose their lives all too easily and that pledges will do them no good. In margin: "mayntenance."

317 chyders of Chester. The Chester guard constituted Richard's personal army of archers who were noted for their arrogance and brutality. The chronicler Adam Usk regards them as a ruthless gang who unwittingly contribute to Richard's downfall: "The king, meanwhile, ever hastening to his fall, among the many burdens which he inflicted upon his realm also kept about him in his following four hundred supernumeraries from the county of Cheshire, men of the utmost depravity who went about doing as they wished, assaulting, beating, and plundering his subjects with impunity; wherever the king went, night and day, they stood guard over him, armed as if for war, committing adulteries, murders, and countless other crimes; yet so inordinately did the king favour them that he would not listen to anyone who complained about them, indeed he regarded such people with loathing; and this was the chief cause of his ruin" (p. 49).

319 pledid pipoudris. The summary court of "Pie-Poudre" - held at fairs and markets - was so called because those who attended the court had dusty feet. The author of RiR imagines that the Cheshire guard disrupts the already-corrupt proceedings with their intimidating presence. As B observes: "To plead pipoudris for all pleyntis . . . is tantamount to disregarding proper legal procedure altogether" (p. 285).

320 coyffes . . . usyn. This line is vaguely reminiscent of PP B Prol.211-13: "Yet houed þer an hundred in howues [hoods] of selke - / Sergeant3, it seemed, þat serueden at þe Barre, / Pleteden for penyes and pounds þe lawe." The passage is unique to the B version. Of the coyffes, Sk declares, "coifs such as were worn by the sergeants-at-law; cf. B. prol. 210; and see houe, i.e. hood, in l. 326" (II, p. 301). See also Mum, lines 1141-44.

322 fyne. The implication is that the Cheshire guard raises such a ruckus in court with their false pleading that they bring about a final settlement, a fyne, although that settlement is unjust.

330 And lente . . . battis. "'And gave men the free experience of their long staves.' To lend leverè is to deliver blows; see Wm. of Palerne, ed. Skeat; ll. 1233, 3822" (Sk, II, p. 301).

336 lyghtliche. MS: lyghliche. For the phrase lyghtliche ylaughte, compare PP and the belling of the cat episode: "And ouerleep hem li3tliche and lau3te hem at his wille" (B Prol. 160; not in the A version).

346-47 Between these two lines Sk adds a "missing" line: ["I my3te not reche redili to rekene the nombre"]. His line count is hereafter off by one from this edition.

347 Of many . . . couude. The MS reads, Of many mo wrongis / þan I write couude, which Wr retains. D&S adopt Sk's insertion of a line before this: I mi3te not reche redili / to rekene þe nombre. B has [They wrought] many mo wrongis than I write couude, which I revise for my reading. The Of is pleonastic.

351 seven sterris. Medieval writers use "stars" and "planets" indistinguishably. The seven heavenly bodies alluded to in this line are the moon, Mercury, Venus, the sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. "Apparently God is the sun, and Bolingbroke and his army the moon and stars" (D&S, p. 104). See below lines III.367-68.

353 menteyned. Sk, D&S, B; MS, Wr: menteyne it.

361 Tyll Degon . . . brastyn. Degon and Dobyn (Diggon and Dobbin) must be names for violent rustic types - similar to Chaucer's Miller or Robin of The Miller's Tale - who are noted for breaking doors in. The difference here, of course, is that these are courtroom doors and part of the Cheshire guard's attempts to derail legal procedure.

363 Awakyd for. So D&S: Awakyd [fro]. MS: And awakyd ffor; Wr: And a-wakyd ffor; Sk: Awakyd ffor, B: And awakyd [fro]. The initial And may be dittography from the previous line or eyeskip from the next line.

Passus Quartus

1-16 For where . . . cometh to fayres? This is one long verse sentence, with considerable anaphora (repetition of first words of poetic lines) on ne and nother.

4 fynys . . . faughtis . . . fee-fermes. These terms seem to refer to Richard's attempts to extort money from those who were involved with the challenge to the crown in 1387-88. After the Shrewsbury Parliament dissolved in 1398, Richard demanded that such persons and the seventeen counties that supported his foes seek pardons from him - his pleasaunce - by midsummer. Fee farms were estates that yielded an annual rent due the crown. In Shakespeare's Richard II, John of Gaunt complains to Richard that England "Is now leas'd out" and "Like to a tenement or a pelting farm" (2.1.59-60).

6 nownagis. Nounages were revenues to the crown on land a minor inherited. See also the note to line 7.

7 March and Mounbray are two examples of men elevated to titles and estates at a very young age, thus yielding nounages. Roger Mortimer became fourth Earl of March in 1381, age seven, while a ward of the Earl of Arundel; Thomas Mowbray (spelled mo?bray in the MS), at the age of seventeen, inherited the barony of Mowbray in 1383. "The Chancellor, Richard, Baron Scrope, father of the Scrope who was later King Richard's favourite, objected to the king's extravagant action in thus granting the lands, and was deprived of his office" (D&S, p. 104). Richard seized Mowbray's properties in 1385, when he married against the king's desires. This is an example of the "for-feyturis" mentioned in line 5.

13 purvyours. Sk translates lines 12-13: "Might not go far enough, even with the addition of his rent, to repay the poor for that which his purveyors took from them" (II, p. 302). Purveyors were officials who seized property; the act of "purveyaunce" - the carrying off of property - was a subject of complaint literature. In God Spede the Plough, for example, the narrator says, "The kyngis purviours also they come, / To have whete and otys at the kyngis nede; / And over that befe and mutton, / And butter and pulleyn, so God me spede!" (MEPW, p. 254).

14 poundage. "In the Parliament of 1397 the Commons granted Richard 12d. on every pound of merchandise and 3s. on every tun of wine entering or leaving the kingdom for the next three years" (D&S, pp. 104-05).

15 a fifteneth . . . eke. Two kinds of taxes: a fifteenth and a tenth. At the Shrewsbury Parliament, "Richard had previously demanded an aid of the commons; and on the fourth day (i.e. Jan. 31, 1398) they voted him, with the assent of the lords, a tenth and a half, and a fifteenth and a half; and in addition, as if they sought to make him independent of parliament, granted him the tax on wool, wool-fells, and hides, not for a short and determinate period as usual, but for the whole term of his natural life" (Sk quoting Lingard). "This is clearly," Sk adds, "the very occasion to which our author is referring" (II, p. 302)

17-19 ne had creaunce . . . dette that they owed. This means, says Sk, "that the court-revellers spent so much that they would have been utterly ruined by debt if they had not paid some of it by promises only" (II, p. 302). Bolingbroke in Shakespeare's Richard II characterizes Richard's spendthrift friends as "the caterpillars of the commonwealth" (2.3.165).

28 sente . . . aboughte. In defiance of custom and law, Richard allegedly appointed knights of the shire and others to sit in the 1397 parliament. See McKisack, The Fourteenth Century, pp. 486-87 and Saul, Richard II, pp. 383-84. His purpose was to ensure that the Parliament acceded to his wishes. Sir John Bushy, from Richard's faction, was the Speaker of this parliament. The official record of this Parliament is in Rotuli parliamentorum, 3: 347-85. Also in this parliament Richard promoted a number of earls to the rank of duke. Walsingham reports that the common people referred to these men not as dukes but as "duketti," the little dukes (Annales, p. 223). Among the promotions were Thomas Mowbray, the Earl of Nottingham (to Duke of Norfolk) and Henry Bolingbroke, the Earl of Derby (to Duke of Hereford); the last of the "duketti" became king of England.

44-45 But yit . . . while. The idea behind these lines is that members of parliament went through the motions of presenting arguments, even though their intent was to ratify the actions. "Some argued against the king's right of taxation, but this was merely a blind" (Sk, II, p. 303).

53 siphre . . . awgrym. The cipher has no meaning in itself but only in relation to other numbers, just as some of the members of parliament take up space but contribute nothing.

55 ysoupid with Symond. "Supping with Simon" means hobnobbing with ecclesiastics - "to share in the revels which some churchmen indulged in" (Sk, II, p. 303). This scene recalls Will's meal with Patience, friars, and a gluttonous Doctor of Divinity (PP B XIII) or the narrator's encounter with a huge Dominican friar, "With a face as fat as a full bledder" in PPCr (line 222). D&S think the reference is to Simon Magus and simony (pp. 105-06).

57-59 somme were tituleris . . . no blame served. "These went to the king, and informed him of foes, who were really friends and spoke for the best, and deserved no blame at all" (Sk, II, p. 303).

66-70 some . . . the reson. Sk says these lines refer to "the logic-splitters" (II, p. 303).

71-82 And some . . . ichonne. D&S remark, "This nautical metaphor is especially appropriate on the lips of a Bristol man" (p. 106). The metaphor of the "ship of state" was common as a way of expressing the situation of the commonwealth. See, for example, "A dere God what may this be," a lament on the death of Edward III (IMEV 5).

74-77 Than lay . . . wedir-side. "This seems to mean that the lords lay comfortably sheltered on the lee-side, and warned the steersman as to what was going on on the weather-side; doing so, probably, by guess. Yet the line [77] is rather obscure. The result was that the mast bent, and nearly broke (l. 79); and if they had not taken in the additional sails in time, they would have fallen overboard owing to the lurching of the vessel" (Sk, II, pp. 303-04).

75 bare aboughte . . . maister. As the lords sheltered their boats around the king's barge, they altered the course of (bare aboughte) the barge and then blamed the steersman.

89 owed. So D&S, B; Sk: oweth; MS: owen. "Some, instead of looking after the money due to the commons, asked for what the king owed themselves, and so far succeeded that they were promised an earnest of money (hansell) if they would help the king; for they should be helped to some of the same silver as he received himself" (Sk, II, p. 304).

93 And some . . . for-soke. "And some forsook well-doing, because they feared the great" (Sk, II, p. 304). The poem breaks off on the eleventh line of fol. 119b. The rest of the page is blank. Six blank pages follow.
Print Copyright Info Purchase

Richard the Redeless

And as I passid in my preiere ther prestis were at messe,
In a blessid borugh that Bristow is named
In a temple of the Trinité the toune even amyddis,
That Cristis Chirche is cleped amonge the comune peple,
Sodeynly ther sourdid selcouthe thingis,
A grett wondir to wyse men, as it well myghth,
And dowtes for to deme for drede comynge after.
So sore were the sawis of bothe two sidis,
Of Richard that regned so riche and so noble,
That wyle he werrid be west on the wilde Yrisshe, 1
Henrri was entrid on the est half,
Whom all the londe loved, in lengthe and in brede,
And rosse with him rapely to rightyn his wronge,
For he shullde hem serve of the same after.
Thus tales me troblid, for they trewe where,
And amarride my mynde rith moche and my wittis eke. 2
For it passid my parceit and my preifis also
How so wondirffull werkis wolde have an ende.
But in sothe whan they sembled some dede repeute,
As knowyn is in cumpas of Cristen londis,
That rewthe was, if reson ne had reffourmed
The myssecheff and the mysserule that men tho in endurid.
I had peté of his passion that prince was of Walis,
And eke our crouned kynge, till Crist woll no lenger.
And as a liage to his lord, though I lite hade,
All myn hoole herte was his while he in helthe regnid.
And for I wuste not witterly what shulde fall,
Whedir God wolde geve him grace sone to amende, 3
To be oure gioure ageyn or graunte it another,
This made me to muse many tyme and ofte,
For to written him a writte, to wissen him better,
And to meuve him of mysserewle, his mynde to reffresshe
For to preie the prynce that paradise made
To fullfill him with feith and fortune above,
And not to grucchen a grott ageine Godis sonde,
But mekely to suffre what-so him sente were.
And yif him list to loke a leef other tweyne,
That made is to mende him of his myssededis,
And to kepe him in confforte in Crist and nought ellis,
I wolde be gladde that his gost myghte glade be my wordis,
And grame if it greved him, be God that me boughte.
Ther nys no governour on the grounde ne sholde gye him the better; 4
And every Cristen kyng that ony croune bereth,
So he were lerned on the langage, my lyff durst I wedde, 5
Yif he waite well the wordis and so werche therafter,
For all is tresour of the Trinité that turneth men to gode.
And as my body and my beste oute to be my liegis,
So rithffully be reson my rede shuld also,
For to conceill, and I coughthe, my kyng and the lordis;
And therfor I fondyd with all my fyve wyttis
To traveile on this tretis, to teche men therafter
To be war of wylffulnesse, lest wondris arise.
And if it happe to youre honde, beholde the book onys,
And redeth on him redely rewis an hundrid,
And if ye savere sumdell, se it forth overe,
For reson is no repreff, be the rode of Chester.
And if ye fynde fables or foly ther amonge,
Or ony fantasie yffeyned, that no frute is in,
Lete youre conceill corette it, and clerkis togedyr, 6
And amende that ys amysse, and make it more better.
For yit it is secrette and so it shall lenger,
Tyll wyser wittis han waytid it overe,
That it be lore laweffull and lusty to here.
For witterly, my will is that it well liked
You and all youris and yonge men leveste,
To benyme hem her noyes that neweth hem ofte.
For and they muse theron to the myddwardis,
They shall fele fawtis foure score and odde,
That youghthe weneth alwey, that it be witt evere.
And though that elde opyn it otherwhile amonge,
And poure on it prevyly and preve it well after,
And constrewe ich clause with the culorum,
It shulde not apeire hem a peere, a prynce though he were,
Ne harme nother hurte the hyghest of the rewme,
But to holde him in hele and helpe all his frendis.
And if ony word write be that wrothe make myghte
My sovereyne, that suget I shulde to be,
I put me in his power, and preie him, of grace,
To take the entent of my trouthe, that thoughte non ylle,
For to wrath no wyght be my wyll nevere,
As my soule be saff from synne at myn ende.
The story is of non estate that stryven with her lustus,
But tho that folwyn her flessh and here frelle thoughtis; 7
So if my conceyll be clere, I can saie no more,
But ho be greved in his gost, governe him better,
And blame not the berne that the book made,
But the wickyd will, and the werkis after.
[Passus Primus]
Now, Richard the redeles, reweth on you-self,
That lawelesse leddyn youre lyf and youre peple bothe. 8
For thoru the wyles and wronge and wast in youre tyme,
Ye were lyghtlich ylyfte from that you leef thoughte,
And from youre willffull werkis, youre will was chaungid,
And rafte was youre riott and rest, for youre daiez weren wikkid, 9
Thoru youre cursid conceill youre karis weren newed,
And coveitise hath crasid youre croune for evere.
   Radix omnium malorum cupiditas
Of alegeaunce now lerneth a lesson other tweyne
Wherby it standith and stablithe moste —
By dride, or be dyntis, or domes untrewe,
Or by creaunce of coyne for castes of gile,
By pillynge of youre peple, youre prynces to plese,
Or that youre wylle were wroughte, though wisdom it nolde;
Or be tallage of youre townnes without ony werre,
By rewthles routus that ryffled evere,
Be preysinge of polaxis that no peté hadde,
Or be dette for thi dees, deme as thou fyndist,
Or be ledinge of lawe with love well ytemprid. 10
Though this be derklich endited for a dull nolle,
Miche nede is it not to mwse ther-on,
For as mad as I am though I litill kunne,
I cowde it discryve in a fewe wordys;
For legiance without love litill thinge availith.
But graceles gostis, gylours of hemself,
That nevere had harnesse ne hayle-schouris,
But walwed in her willis forweyned in here youthe,
They sawe no manere sighth saff solas and ese,
And cowde no mysse amende whan mysscheff was up,
But sorwed for her lustus of lordschipe they hadde,
And nevere for her trespas oo tere wolde they lete.
Ye come to youre kyngdom er ye youreself knewe,
Crouned with a croune that kyng under hevene
Mighte not a better have boughte, as I trowe;
So full was it filled with vertuous stones,
With perlis of prise to punnysshe the wrongis,
With rubies rede the righth for to deme,
With gemmes and juellis joyned togedir
And pees amonge the peple for peyne of thi lawis.
It was full goodeliche ygrave with gold al aboughte;
The braunchis above boren grett charge;
With diamauntis derve ydouutid of all
That wroute ony wrake within or withoute;
With lewté and love yloke to thi peeris,
And sapheris swete that soughte all wrongis,
Ypouudride wyth peté ther it be oughte,
And traylid wyth trouthe and treste al aboute:
For ony Cristen kynge a croune well ymakyd.
But where this croune bicome a clerk were that wuste; 11
But so as I can, declare it I thenke,
And nempne no name; but tho that nest were,
Full prevyly they pluckud thy power awey,
And reden with realté youre rewme thoru-oute,
And as tyrauntis, of tiliers token what hem liste,
And paide hem on her pannes whan her penyes lacked. 12
For non of youre peple durste pleyne of here wrongis,
For drede of youre dukys and of here double harmes.
Men myghtten as well have him huntyd an hare with a tabre
As aske ony mendis for that thei mysdede,
Or of ony of her men though men wulde plete,
For all was felawis and felawschepe that ye with ferde,
And no soule persone to punnyshe the wrongis;
And that maddid thi men, as thei nede muste.
For wo, they ne wuste to whom for to pleyne.
For, as it is said by elderne dawis,
"Ther gromes and the goodmen beth all eliche grette,
Woll wo beth the wones, and all that woneth ther-in!" 13
They ladde you with love that youre lawe dradde 14
To deme youre dukys myssdedis so derve thei were.
Thus was youre croune crasid till he was cast newe,
Thoru partninge of youre powere to youre paragals.
Thus lacchide they with laughinge, and lourid longe after,
But frist sawe they it not, ne youreself nother;
For all was wisliche ywroughte as youre witte demed,
And no fauutis yffounde till fortune aperid.
But had youre croune be kepte that comons it wiste,
Ther nadde morder ne mysscheff be amonge the grette. 15
Thus youre cautell to the comoune hath combred you all,
That, but if God helpe, youre hervest is ynne.
Wytteth it not youre conceill but wyteth it more youreself,
The fortune that fallyn is to feitheles peple;
And wayte well my wordis and wrappe hem togedir,
And constrwe clerlie the clause in thin herte.
Of maters that I thenke to meve for the best
For kyngis and kayseris comynge hereafter.
Whane ye were sette in youre se as a sir aughte,
Ther carpinge comynliche of conceill arisith,
The chevyteyns cheef that ye chesse evere,
Weren all to yonge of yeris to yeme swyche a rewme;
Other hobbis ye hadden of Hurlewaynis kynne,
Reffusynge the reule of realles kynde. 16
And whane youre conceill iknewe ye come so at ones
For to leve on her lore and be led be hem,
For drede that they had of demynge therafter,
And for curinge of hemself cried on you evere
For to hente hele of her owen greves,
More than for wurschepe that they to you owed.
They made you to leve that regne ye ne myghte
Withoute busshinge adoun of all youre best frendis,
Be a fals colour her caris to wayve,
And to holde hem in hele if it happe myghte.
For trostith rith treuly and in no tale better,
All that they moved or mynged in that mater
Was to be sure of hemself and siris to ben ycallid;
For that was all her werchinge in worde and in dede.
But had ye do duly and as a duke oughte,
The frist that you formed to that fals dede,
He shulde have hadde hongynge on hie on the forckis,
Though youre brother yborn had be the same.
Than wolde other boynardis have been abasshyd
To have meved you to ony maters that myssheff had ben ynne.
But for ye cleved to knavis in this cas, I avowe 17
That boldid thi burnes to belde uppon sorowe,
And stirid you stouttely till ye stombled all.
[Passus Secundus]
Bot moche now me merveilith and well may I in sothe,
Of youre large lyverey to leodis aboughte
That ye so goodliche gaf but if gile letted,
As hertis yheedyd and hornyd of kynde,
So ryff as they ronne youre rewme thoru-oute,
That non at youre nede youre name wolde nempne
In fersnesse ne in foltheed but faste fle awayward;
And some stode astonyed and stared for drede,
For eye of the Egle that oure helpe brouute.
And also in sothe the seson was paste
For hertis yheedid so hy and so noble
To make ony myrthe for mowtynge that nyghed.
That bawtid youre bestis of here bolde chere; 18
They severid and sondrid for somere hem faylid, 19
And flowen into forest and feldis aboughte,
All the hoole herde that helde so togedir;
But yet they had hornes half yere after.
Now liste me to lerne ho me lere coude,
What kynnes conceyll that the kyng had,
Or meved him most to merke his liegis,
Or serve hem with signes that swarmed so thikke
Thoru-oute his lond in lengthe and in brede,
That ho-so had hobblid thoru holtes and tounes
Or ypassid the patthis ther the prynce dwellyd,
Or hertis or hyndis on hassellis brestis,
Or some lordis lyveré that the lawe stried,
He shulde have ymette mo than ynowe.
For they acombrede the contré and many curse servid,
And carped to the comounes with the kyngys mouthe, 20
Or with the lordis ther they belefte were,
That no renke shulde rise reson to schewe.
They plucked the plomayle from the pore skynnes,
And schewed her signes for men shulde drede
To axe ony mendis for her mysdedis.
Thus lyverez overeloked youre liegis ichonne;
For tho that had hertis on hie on her brestis,
For the more partie, I may well avowe,
They bare hem the bolder for her gay broches,
And busshid with her brestis and bare adoun the pouere 21
Lieges that loved you the lesse for her yvell dedis.
So, trouthe to telle, as toune-men said,
For on that ye merkyd, ye myssed ten schore
Of homeliche hertis that the harme hente.
Thane was it foly in feith, as me thynketh,
To sette silver in signes that of nought served.
I not what you eylid, but if it ese were; 22
For frist at youre anoyntynge alle were youre owen,
Bothe hertis and hyndis, and helde of non other;
No lede of youre lond but as a liege aughte, 23
Tyl ye, of youre dulnesse, deseveraunce made
Thoru youre side signes that shente all the browet,
And cast adoun the crokk the colys amyd. 24
   Omne regnum in se diuisum desolabitur (luce eleven) 25
Yit am I lewde and litill good schewe
To coveyte knowliche of kyngis wittis,
Or wilne to witte how was the mevynge
That ladde you to lykynge youre liegis to merke,
That loved you full lelly or lyverez begynne, 26
And as redy to ride or renne at youre heste
As wyghte myghte wilne wonnynge uppon erthe,
Tyll lyverez hem lette and lordyns wrongis,
As youreself fonde well whane fortune you fayled.
For whan ye list to lene to youre owen lymes, 27
They were so feble and feynte for faughte of youre lawe,
And so wankel and wayke, wexe in the hammes,
That they had no myghte to amende youre greves
Ne to bere byrthen youre banere to helpe.
But it longith to no liegeman his lord to anoye
Nother in werk ne in word but if his witt faile.
"No, redely," quod Reson, "that reule I alowe:
Displese not thi demer in dede ne in wordis
But if thee liste for to lede thi lyf in dissese.
But yif God have grauntyd thee grace for to knowe
Ony manere mysscheff that myghtte be amendyd,
Schewe that to thi sovereyne to schelde him from harmes;
For and he be blessid, the better thee betydyth
In tyme for to telle him for thi trewe herte."
Now for to telle trouthe, thus than me thynketh,
That no manere meyntenour shulde merkis bere,
Ne have lordis lyveré the lawe to apeire,
Neither bragger ne boster, for no brymme wordis.
But ho-so had kunnynge and conscience bothe
To stonde unstombled and stronge in his wittis,
Lele in his levynge, levyd by his owen,
That no manere mede shulde make him wrye,
For to trien a trouthe betwynne two sidis,
And lette for no lordschep the lawe to susteyne 28
Whane the pore pleyned that put were to wrongis,
And I were of conceill, by Crist that me boughte,
He shuld have a signe and sumwhat be yere
For to kepe his contré in quiete and in reste.
This were a good grounde, so me God helpe!
And a trewe tente to take and to geve,
For ony lord of this londe that lyverez usith.
But how the gayes han ygon, God wotte the sothe 29
Amonge myghtffull men alle these many yeris;
And whedir the grounde of gifte were good other ille,
Trouthe hathe determyned the tente to the ende,
And reson hath rehersid the resceyte of all.
Yit I trowe youre entente at the frist tyme
Was, as I wene, yif I well thenke in multitude of peple,
That ye were the more myghtier for the many signes
That ye and youre servauntis aboughte so thikke sowid;
And that they were more tristi and trewer than other
To love you for the lyverey that legaunce stroied;
Or ellis for a skylle that skathed youreself,
That comounes of contré had costis aboughte
Sholde knowe be hir quentise that the kyng loved hem
For her privy prynte passinge another.
Yif that was youre purpos, it passith my wittis
To deme discrecion of youre well-doynge.
Thus were ye disceyved thoru youre duble hertis,
That nevere weren to truste, so God save my soule!
But had the good greehonde be not agreved,
But cherischid as a cheffeteyne, and cheff of youre lese,
Ye hadde had hertis ynowe at youre wille to go and to ride. 30
And also in serteyne, the sothe for to telle,
I wondir not hyly, though heed-dere thou failid;
For litill on youre lyf thee list for to rewe
On rascaile that rorid with ribbis so lene,
For faughte of her fode that flateris stelen,
And evere with here wylis and wast ofte they hem anoyed,
That poverte hem prickid full prevyliche to pleyne,
But where, they ne wyste ne ho it wolde amende.
Thus ye derid hem unduly with droppis of anger,
And stonyed hem with stormes that stynted nevere,
But plucked and pulled hem anon to the skynnes,
That the fresinge frost freted to here hertis.
So whanne youre hauntelere-dere where all ytakyn,
Was non of the rasskayle aredy full growe
To bere ony breme heed, as a best aughte,
So wyntris wedir hem wessh with the snowis,
With many derke mystis that maddid her eyne.
For well mowe ye wyttyn and so mowe we all,
That harde is the somer ther sonne schyneth nevere.
Ye fostrid and fodid a fewe of the best,
And leyde on hem lordschipe a leyne uppon other,
And bereved the raskall that rith wolde thei hadde, 31
And knewe not the caris ne cursis that walkyd.
But mesure is a meri mene, though men moche yerne.
   Deus exaudit clamorem pauperum, et iudicat causam eorum;
   David in Psalmis 32
Thus be the rotus youre raskall endurid,
Tyll the blessid bredd brodid his wyngis
To covere hem from colde, as his kynde wolde.
Rith as the hous-hennes uppon londe hacchen
And cherichen her chekonys fro chele of the wynter,
Ryth so the hende Egle the eyere of hem all,
Hasteth him in hervest to hovyn his bryddis,
And besieth him besely to breden hem feedrin, 33
Tyll her fre fedris be fulliche ypynned,
That they have wynge at her wyll to wonne uppon hille;
For venym on the valeye hadde foule with hem fare,
Tyll trouthe the triacle telde somme her sothes.
Thus baterid this bred on busshes aboughte,
And gaderid gomes on grene ther as they walkyd,
That all the schroff and schroup sondrid from other.
He mellid so the matall with the hand-molde
That they lost lemes the levest that they had.
Thus foulyd this faukyn on fyldis aboughte, 34
And caughte of the kytes a cartffull at ones,
That rentis and robis with raveyn evere laughte. 35
Yit was not the fawcon full fed at his likynge,
For it cam him not of kynde kytes to love.
Than bated he boldeliche, as a brid wolde,
To plewme on his pray the pol fro the nekk;
But the blernyed boynard that his bagg stall,
Where purraile-is pulter was pynnyd full ofte,
Made the fawcon to floter and flussh for anger
That the boy hadd be bounde that the bagge kepte.
But sone therafter, in a schorte tyme,
As fortune folwith ech fode till his ende,
This lorell that ladde this loby awey
Overe frithe and forde for his fals dedis,
Lyghte on the lordschepe that to the brid longid,
And was felliche ylaughte and luggid full ylle,
And broughte to the brydd and his blames rehersid
Prevyly at the parlement amonge all the peple.
Thus hawkyd this Egle and hoved above
That, as God wolde that governeth all thingis,
Ther nas kyte ne krowe that kareyne hauntid,
That he ne with his lynage ne lovyd full sone.
For wherso they ferde, be fryth or be wones,
Was non of hem all that him hide myghth,
But cam with him a reclayme fro costis aboughte,
And fell with her fetheris flat uppon the erthe,
As madde of her mynde, and mercy besoughte.
They myghte not aschonne the sorowe they had served,
So lymed leves were leyde all aboughte,
And panteris prevyliche pight uppon the grounde,
With grennes of good heere that God himself made,
That whereso they walkid, they waltrid dounwardis;
And evere hoved the Egle on hie on the skyes,
And kenned clerliche, as his kynde axith,
Alle the prevy poyntis that the pies wroughth.
[Passus Tercius]
Now leve we this beu brid till I restore,
For mater that my mynde is meved in now,
That whi the hie hertis her hele so mysside,
That pasture axid rith to here pure wombis,
I wolle schewe as I sawe, till I se better;
And if I walke out of the wey, I wolle me repente.
Now herkeneth, hende men, how that me thynkyth,
Savynge sovereynes and sages avise,
That the moste myscheff uppon molde on
Is demed the dede ydo ageins kynde.
Yit clereth this clause no thinge my wittis,
Without more mater what it mene wolde.
I mene of the hertis that hautesse of yeris,
That pasture prikkyth and her prevy age,
Whan they han hoblid on the holte an hundrid of yeris,
That they feblen in fleissh, in felle and in bones.
Her kynde is to kevere if they cacche myghth
Adders that harmen alle hende bestis:
Thoru busschis and bromes this beste, of his kynde,
Secheth and sercheth tho schrewed wormes
That steleth on the stedis to stynge hem to deth.
And whanne it happeth the herte to hente the edder,
He putyth him to peyne, as his pray asketh,
And fedith him on the venym, his felle to anewe,
To leve at more lykynge a longe tyme after.
This is clerlie hir kynde, coltis nat to greve,
Ne to hurlle with haras, ne hors well atamed,
Ne to stryve with swan, though it sholle werre,
Ne to bayten on the bere, ne bynde him nother,
Ne to wilne to woo that were hem ny sibbe,
Ne to liste for to loke that her alie bledde;
This was ageins kynde, as clerkis me tolde —
   Propter ingratitudinem liber homo reuocatur in seruitutem, ut in stimulo
   compunccionis, et in lege ciuili - 36
And therfor the hertis here hele so myssid,
And myghte nat passe the poynte of her prime age.
Now constrew ho-so kunne — I can saie no more,
But fare I wolle to the fowle that I beffore tolde.
Off all billid breddis that the bough spareth,
The propirté of partriche to preise me lustith, 37
That in the somer seson whan sittinge nyeth,
That ich foule with his fere folwith his kynde,
This brid by a bank bildith his nest,
And heipeth his eiren, and hetith hem after.
And whane the dame hath ydo that to the dede longith,
And hopith for to hacche or hervest begynne,
Thane cometh ther a congioun with a grey cote,
As not of his nolle as he the nest made,
Another proud partriche, and precyth to the nest,
And prevylich pirith till the dame passe,
And sesith on hir sete with hir softe plumes,
And hoveth the eyren that the hue laide,
And with hir corps kevereth hem, till that they kenne,
And fostrith and fodith till fedris schewe,
And cotis of kynde hem kevere all aboughte.
But as sone as they styffe and that they steppe kunne,
Than cometh and crieth hir owen kynde dame,
And they folwith the vois at the frist note,
And leveth the lurker that hem er ladde,
For the schrewe schrapid to selde for her wombis, 38
That her lendys were lene and leved with hunger.
But than the dewe dame dineth hem swythe,
And fostrith hem forthe till they fle kunne.
"What is this to mene, man?" maiste thou axe,
"For it is derklich endited for a dull panne;
Wherffore I wilne, yif it thi will were,
The partriche propurtés by whom that thou menest?"
A, Hicke Hevyheed, hard is thi nolle
To cacche ony kunnynge, but cautell bigynne!
Herdist thou not with eeris how that I er tellde
How the Egle in the est entrid his owen,
And cried and clepid after his owen kynde briddis,
That weren anoyed in his nest and norished full ille,
And well ny yworewid with a wronge leder?
But the nedy nestlingis, whan they the note herde,
Of the hende Egle, the heyer of hem all,
Thei busked fro the busches and breris that hem noyed,
And burnisched her beekis and bent to-him-wardis, 39
And folowid him fersly to fighte for the wrongis;
They bablid with her billis, how thei bete were,
And tenyd with twiggis two and twenty yeris.
Thus lafte they the leder that hem wrong ladde,
And tyned no twynte, but tolled her cornes,
And gaderid the grotus with gyle, as I trowe.
Than folwid they her fre fader, as good feith wolde,
That he hem fede shulde and fostre forther,
And bringe hem out of bondage that they were broughth inne.
Thanne sighed the swymmers, for the swan failid,
And folwid this faucon thoru feldus and tounes,
With many faire fowle, though they feynte were,
And hevy for the hirte that the hors hadde.
Yit they ferkyd hem forth as faste as they myghte,
To have the Egles helpe of harme that they hadde;
For he was heed of hem all and hieste of kynde
To kepe the croune, as cronecle tellith.
He blythid the beere and his bond braste,
And lete him go at large, to lepe where he wolde.
But tho all the berlingis brast out at ones,
As fayne as the foule that flieth on the skyes
That Bosse was unbounde and brouute to his owen.
They gaderid hem togedir on a grette roughte,
To helpe the heeris that had many wrongis;
They gaglide forth on the grene, for they greved were
That her frendis were falle thoru felouns castis.
They mornyd for the morthir of manfull knyghtis,
That many a styff storme withstode for the comunes;
They monside the marchall for his myssedede,
That evell coude his craft whan he clothed the stede.
And evere as they folwide this faucon aboughte,
At iche mevinge fotte, venyanunce they asked
On all that assentid to that synfull dede.
Arere now to Richard and reste here while,
For a prevy poynt that persith my wittis,
Of fauutis I fynde that frist dede engendre
Cursidnesse and combraunce amonge the yonge lordis,
And the wikkid werchinge that walmed in her daies,
And yit woll hereafter, but wisdom it lette.
That were a lord of lond that lawe hathe in honde,
That to lyghtliche leveth or lewté apere,
The tale of a trifflour in turmentours wede,
That nevere reed good rewle, ne resons bookis! 40
For ben they rayed arith, they recchith no forther, 41
But studieth all in strouutynge and stireth amys evere;
For all his witte in his wede ys wrappid for sothe, 42
More than in mater to amende the peple that ben mysled.
For I say for myself, and schewe, as me thynchith,
That ho is riall of his ray, that light reede him folwith.
Yit swiche fresshe foodis beth feet into chambris,
And for her dignesse endauntid of dullisshe nollis,
And, if thou well waite, of no wight ellis.
   Qui mollibus vestiuntur in domibus regum sunt: in Euangelio 43
Than waite mo wayes, how the while turneth
With gyuleris joyfull for here gery jaces:
And for her wedis so wyde, wise beth yholde.
They casteth hem to creaunce, the courte for to plese,
And hopen to be hied in hast, yif they myghthe,
Thoru swiche stif strouutynge, that stroyeth the rewme; 44
But here wey is all wronge ther wisdom is ynned,
For they lepith als lyghtly at the longe goynge,
Out of the domes carte, as he that throff nevere.
For they kepeth no coyne that cometh to here hondis,
But chaunchyth it for cheynes that in Chepe hangith,
And settith all her silver in seintis and hornes,
And for-doth the coyne and many other craftis,
And maketh the peple for pens-lac in pointe for to wepe.
And yit they beth ytake forth and her tale leved,
And for her newe nyseté nexte to the lordis,
Now, be the lawe of Lydfford, in londe ne in water,
Thilke lewde ladde oughte evyll to thryve
That hongith on his hippis more than he wynneth,
And doughteth no dette, so dukis hem preise,
But beggith and borwith of burgeis in tounes
Furris of foyne and other felle-whare,
And not the better of a bene, though they boru evere.
And, but if the slevis slide on the erthe,
Thei woll be wroth as the wynde and warie hem that it made;
And but yif it were elbowis adoun to the helis,
Or passinge the knee, it was not acounted.
And if Pernell preisid the plytis bihynde,
The costis were acountid, paye whan he myghth.
The leesinge so likyde ladies and other
That they joied of the jette and gyside hem therunder;
And if Felice fonde ony faute thenne of the makynge,
Yt was ysent sone to shape of the newe.
But now ther is a gyse, the queyntest of all,
A wondir coriouse crafte, ycome now late,
That men clepith kerving the clothe all to pecis,
That sevene goode sowers sixe wekes after
Moun not sett the seemes, ne sewe hem ageyn.
But ther is a proffith in that pride that I preise evere,
For thei for the pesinge paieth pens ten duble
That the clothe costened, the craft is so dere. 45
Now if I sothe shall saie, and shonne side tales,
Ther is as moche good witte in swyche gomes nollis
As thou shuldist mete of a myst fro morwe tyll even.
Yit blame I no burne to be, as him oughte,
In comlich clothinge, as his statt axith;
But to ledyn her lust all here lyff-daies 46
In quentise of clothinge for to queme Sir Pride,
And everemore stroutynge and no store kepe,
And iche day a newe devyse; it dullith my wittes
That ony lord of a lond shulde leve swiche thingis,
Or clepe to his conceill swiche manere cotis,
That loveth more her lustis than the lore of oure Lord.
And if a lord his lyverey lyste for to geve,
Ther may no gome for goodnesse gette therof but lite
For curtesie, for comlynesse, ne for his kynde herte,
But rather for his rancour and rennynge overe peple,
For braggynge and for bostynge and beringe uppon oilles,
For cursidnes of conscience and comynge to the assises.
This makyth men mysdo more than oughte ellis,
And to stroute and to stare and stryve ageyn vertu.
So clerlie the cause comsith in grette,
Of all manere mysscheff that men here usyn.
For wolde they blame the burnes that broughte newe gysis,
And dryve out the dagges and all the Duche cotis,
And sette hem aside and scorne of hem telle,
And lete hem pleye in the porche and presse non ynnere,
Ne no proude peniles with his peynte sleve;
And eke repreve robbers and riffleris of peple,
Flateris and fals men that no feith useth.
And alle deabolik doeris, dispise hem ichone,
And coile out the knyghtys that knowe well hemself,
That were sad of her sawis and suffre well couude, 47
And had traveilid in her tyme and temprid hemself,
And cherliche cheriche hem, as cheff in the halle
For to ordeyne officeris and all other thyngis,
Men shuld wete in a while that the world wolde amende;
So vertue wolde flowe whan vicis were ebbid.
But now to the mater that I before meved,
Of the gomes so gay that grace hadde affendid
And how stille that steddeffaste stode amonge this reccheles peple, 48
That had awilled his wyll, as wisdom him taughte:
For he drough him to an herne at the halle ende,
Well homelich yhelid in an holsum gyse,
Not overelonge, but ordeyned in the olde schappe,
With grette browis ybente and a berde eke,
And ywounde in his wedis, as the wedir axith.
He wondrid in his wittis, as he well myghthe,
That the hie houusinge herborowe ne myghte
Halfdell the houshould but hales hem helped;
But for craft that he couude caste thenne, or bethenke,
He myghte not wonne in the wones, for witt that he usid,
But, arouutyd for his ray and rebuked ofte,
He had leve of the lord and of ladies alle
For his good governaunce to go or he drank.
Ther was non of the mené that they ne merveilid moche
How he cam to the courte and was not yknowe.
But als sone as they wiste that Witt was his name,
And that the kyng knewe him not, ne non of his knyghtis,
He was halowid and yhuntid and yhotte trusse,
And his dwellinge ydemed a bowe-drawte from hem,
And ich man ycharchid to schoppe at his croune;
Yif he nyhed hem ony nere, than they had him nempned.
The portir with his pikis tho put him uttere,
And warned him the wickett while the wacche durid;
"Lete sle him!" quod the sleves that slode uppon the erthe,
And alle the berdles burnes bayed on him evere,
And schorned him, for his slaveyn was of the olde schappe.
Thus Malaperte was myghtffull and maister of hous,
And evere wandrid Wisdom without the gatis.
"By Him that wroughte this world!" quod Wisdom in wrath,
"But yif ye woll sumtyme I walke in amonge you,
I shall forbede you burnesse the best on this erthe,
That is, governance of gettinge and grace that him follwith: 49
For these two trewly twynned yet nevere."
And so it fell on hem, in feith, for faughtis that they usid,
That her grace was agoo for grucchinge chere,
For the wrong that they wroughte to Wisdom affore.
For tristith, als trewly as tyllinge us helpeth,
That iche rewme under roff of the reynebowe 50
Sholde stable and stonde be these thre degrés:
By governaunce of grete and of good age;
By styffnesse and strengthe of steeris well y-yokyd,
That beth myghthffull men, of the mydill age;
And be laboreris of lond that lyfflode ne fayle. 51
Thanne wolde reule, if reson where amongis us,
That ich leode lokide what longid to his age, 52
And nevere for to passe more oo poynt forther
To usurpe the service that to sages bilongith,
To become conselleris er they kunne rede,
In schenshepe of sovereynes, and shame at the last.
For it fallith as well to fodis of twenty four yeris, 53
Or yonge men of yistirday to geve good redis,
As becometh a kow to hoppe in a cage!
It is not unknowen to kunnynge leodis
That rewlers of rewmes around all the erthe
Were not yffoundid at the frist tyme
To leve al at likynge and lust of the world,
But to laboure on the lawe, as lewde men on plowes,
And to merke meyntenourz with maces ichonne,
And to strie strouters that sterede ageine rithis, 54
And alle the myssedoers that they myghte fynde,
To put hem in preson, a peere though he were;
And not to rewle as reremys and rest on the daies,
And spende of the spicerie more than it neded,
Bothe wexe and wyn, in wast all aboughte,
With deyntés ydoublid and daunsinge to pipis,
In myrthe with moppis, myrrours of synne.
Yit forbede I no burne to be blithe sum while;
But all thinge hath tyme, for to tempre glees:
For caste all the counntis that the kyng holdith,
And loke how these lordis loggen hemself,
And evere shall thou fynde, as fer as thou walkiste,
That wisdom and overewacche wonneth fer asundre; 55
But whanne the governaunce goth thus with tho the hous gie shulde,
And letith lyghte of the lawe and lesse of the peple,
And herkeneth all to honour and to ese eke,
And that ich wyght with his witt waite on him evere,
To do hem reverence aright, though the rigge brest.
This warmnesse in welth with wy uppon erthe
Myghte not longe dure, as doctourz us tellith.
For ho-so thus leved his lyff to the ende,
Evere wrappid in welle, and with no wo mette, 56
Myghte seie that he sawe that seie was nevere:
That hevene were unhonge out of the hookis,
And were boun at his bidding yif it be myghte.
But clerkis knew I non yete that so couude rede
In bokis ybounde, though ye broughte alle
That ony wy welldith wonnynge uppon erthe;
For in well and in woo the werld evere turneth.
Yit ther is kew-kaw, though he come late,
A new thing that noyeth nedy men and other,
Whanne realles remeveth and ridith thoru tounes,
And carieth overe contré ther comunes dwelleth,
To preson the pillourz that overe the pore renneth;
For that were evene in her weye if they well ride.
But yit ther is a foule faughte that I fynde ofte:
They prien affter presentis or pleyntis ben yclepid,
And abateth all the billis of tho that noughth bringith; 57
And ho-so grucche or grone ageins her grette willes
May lese her lyff lyghtly and no lesse weddis.
Thus is the lawe lovyd thoru myghty lordis willys,
That meyneteyne myssdoers more than other peple.
For mayntenaunce many day — well more is the reuthe! —
Hath yhad mo men, at mete and at melis,
Than ony Cristen kynge that ye knewe evere:
For, as reson and rith rehersid to me ones,
Tho ben men of this molde that most harme worchen.
For chyders of Chester where chose many daies
To ben of conceill for causis that in the court hangid,
And pledid pipoudris alle manere pleyntis. 58
They cared for no coyffes that men of court usyn,
But meved many maters that man never thoughte,
And feyned falshed, till they a fyne had,
And knewe no manere cause, as comunes tolde. 59
Thei had non other signe to schewe the lawe
But a prevy pallette her pannes to kepe,
To hille here lewde heed in stede of an hove.
They constrewed quarellis to quenche the peple,
And pletid with pollaxis and poyntis of swerdis,
And at the dome-gevynge drowe out the bladis,
And lente men lyverey of her longe battis.
They lacked alle vertues that a juge shulde have:
For, er a tale were ytolde, they wolde trie the harmes,
Withoute ony answere but ho his lyf hatid. 60
And ho-so pleyned to the prince that pees shulde kepe,
Of these mystirmen, medlers of wrongis,
He was lyghtliche ylaughte and yluggyd of many,
And ymummyd on the mouthe and manaced to the deth.
They leid on thi leigis, Richard, lasshis ynow,
And drede nevere a dele the dome of the lawe.
Ther nas rial of the rewme that hem durste rebuke,
Ne juge ne justice that jewis durste hem deme
For oute that thei toke or trespassid to the peple.
This was a wondir world, ho-so well lokyd,
That gromes overegrewe so many grette maistris;
For this was the rewle in this rewme while they here regnyd.
Though I satte sevenenyght and slepte full selde,
Of many mo wrongis they werched than I write couude;
For selde were the serigauntis soughte for to plete,
Or ony prentise of courte preied of his wittis,
The while the degonys domes weren so endauntid,
Tille oure Sire in His see above the seven sterris,
Sawe the many mysschevys that these men dede,
And no mendis ymade, but menteyned evere
Of him that was hiest, yholde for to kepe
His liegis in lawe, and so her love gette.
He sente for his servauntis that sembled many,
Of baronys and baccheleris, with many brighth helmes,
With the comunes of contres they cam all at ones;
And as a duke doughty in dedis of armes,
In full reall aray he rood uppon hem evere,
Tyll Degon and Dobyn, that mennys doris brastyn,
And were ydubbid of a duke for her while domes, 61
Awakyd for wecchis and wast that they usid,
And for her breme blastis buffettis henten.
Than gan it to calme and clere all aboughte,
That iche man myghte, ho-so mynde hadde,
Se, be the sonne that so brighte schewed,
The mone at the mydday meve, and the sterris,
Folwinge felouns for her false dedis,
Devourours of vetaile that foughten er thei paide.
[Passus Quartus]
For where was evere ony Cristen kynge that ye evere knewe
That helde swiche an household be the halfdelle
As Richard in this rewme, thoru myserule of other,
That alle his fynys for faughtis, ne his fee-fermes,
Ne for-feyturis fele that felle in his daies,
Ne the nownagis that newed him evere —
As March and Mounbray, and many mo other, 62
Ne alle the issues of court that to the kyng longid,
Ne sellynge, that sowkid silver rith faste,
Ne alle the prophete of the lond that the prince owed,
Whan the countis were caste with the custum of wullus, 63
Myghte not areche ne his rent nother,
To paie the pore peple that his purvyours toke,
Withoute preiere at a parlement a poundage biside,
And a fifteneth and a dyme eke,
And with all the custum of the clothe that cometh to fayres?
And yet, ne had creaunce icome at the last ende,
With the comunes curse that cleved on hem evere,
They had be drawe to the devyll for dette that they owed.
And whanne the reot and the reevell the rent thus passid, 64
And no thing ylafte but the bare baggis,
Than felle it afforse to fille hem ageyne,
And feyned sum folie that failid hem never,
And cast it be colis with her conceill at evene,
To have prevy parlement for proffitt of hemself,
And lete write writtis all in wex closid,
For peeris and prelatis that thei apere shuld,
And sente side sondis to schrevys aboughte
To chese swiche chevalleris as the charge wold,
To schewe for the schire in company with the grete.
And whanne it drowe to the day of the dede-doynge,
That sovereynes were semblid and the schire-knyghtis,
Than, as her forme is frist, they begynne to declare
The cause of her comynge and than the kyngis will.
Comliche a clerk than comsid the wordis,
And pronouncid the poyntis aperte to hem alle,
And meved for mony more than for out ellis,
In glosing of grette, lest greyves arise. 65
And whanne the tale was tolde anon to the ende,
Amorwe thei must, affore mete, mete togedir,
The knyghtis of the comuneté and carpe of the maters,
With citiseyns of shiris, ysent for the same,
To reherse the articlis and graunte all her askynge.
But yit for the manere to make men blynde,
Somme argued agein rith then a good while,
And said, "We beth servauntis and salleré fongen,
And ysent fro the shiris to shewe what hem greveth,
And to parle for her prophete and passe no ferthere,
And to graunte of her gold to the grett wattis
By no manere wronge way but if werre were;
And if we ben fals to tho us here fyndyth,
Evyll be we worthy to welden oure hire." 66
Than satte summe as siphre doth in awgrym,
That noteth a place, and no thing availeth;
And some had ysoupid with Symond overe even,
And schewed for the shire and here schew lost; 67
And somme were tituleris and to the kyng wente,
And formed him of foos that good frendis weren,
That bablid for the best and no blame served
Of kynge ne conceyll ne of the comunes nother,
Ho-so toke good kepe to the culorum.
And somme slombrid and slepte and said but a lite;
And somme mafflid with the mouth, and nyst what they ment;
And somme had hire and helde therwith evere,
And wolde no forther affoott for fer of her maistris;
And some were so soleyne and sad of her wittis
That er they come to the clos acombrid they were,
That thei the conclucion than constrewe ne couthe,
No burne of the benche of borowe nother ellis, 68
So blynde and so ballid and bare was the reson.
And some were so fers at the frist come
That they bente on a bonet and bare a topte saile
Affor the wynde fresshely to make a good fare.
Than lay the lordis alee, with laste and with charge,
And bare aboughte the barge and blamed the maister,
That knewe not the kynde cours that to the crafte longid,
And warned him wisely of the wedir-side.
Thanne the maste in the myddis at the monthe-ende,
Bowid for brestynge and broughte hem to lond;
For ne had thei striked a strake and sterid hem the better,
And abated a bonet or the blast come,
They had be throwe overe the borde backeward ichonne. 69
And some were acombrid with the conceill before,
And wiste well ynow how it sholde ende,
Or some of the semblé shulde repente.
Some helde with the mo how it evere wente,
And somme dede rith so and wolld go no forther.
Some parled as perte as provyd well after,
And clappid more for the coyne that the kyng owed hem
Thanne for comfforte of the comyne that her cost paied,
And were behote hansell if they helpe wolde
To be servyd sekirly of the same silvere.
And some dradde dukis, and Do-well forsoke . . .
(see note)
prayer where priests; mass; (see note)
Bristol; (see note)
i.e., in the town's center
called; common
Suddenly; arose strange
great wonder; might seem
to assess for fearful things
bitter; words of both sides
who reigned; (see note)
Henry advanced from the east
land; everywhere
rose up; quickly
in the same way later on
disturbed; were true
surpassed my understanding; experience; (see note)
astonishing deeds
gathered; considered
is known throughout
pity; reformed
misfortune; misrule; then
pity; suffering; Wales
also; longer
liege; possessed little; (see note)
whole heart
did not know clearly; happen; (see note)
(see note)
leader; i.e., the kingdom
write; treatise, to instruct
apprise him
beseech; (see note)
complain a bit; dispensation
whatsoever happens to him
if he pleases to look over a page or two
composed; correct; misdeeds
comfort; nothing else
spirit; be gladdened by
sorry; grieved; redeemed; (see note)
any; bears; (see note)
If; consider; act
soul (best part) ought; liege's
rightfully; reason; advice
counsel, if I could
strove; five wits (see note)
work; instruct; (see note)
on guard against wilfulness
comes into your hands; once
read it quickly a hundred lines
relish some of it, read all of it
reproach; cross; (see note)
find fables
feigned; profit
what is wrong; (see note)
As yet; secret; shall be longer
Until wiser men have scrutinized it
lawful teaching; delightful
certainly; should please
take away; their troubles; renew
if; middle
discover faults eighty and more; (see note)
youth always thinks; (see note)
old men think it sometimes
pore over it in private; prove
interpret each; significance; (see note)
harm them a bit
Nor; most noble; realm
health; friends
is written; angry
king, whose subject I should be; (see note)
meant nothing ill
anger no person
advice; clear
whoever is distressed; soul
consequent effects
unadvised; pity yourself
through; deceits; waste
quickly deprived; dear
(see note)
cares; renewed
greed has broken; (see note)
Greed is the root of all evil
remains most stably
fear; blows; bad judgments
monetary credit; tricks; guile
robbing; people
executed; says no
taxing; towns in peacetime
pitiless gangs; ransacked
By appraising of pole-axes; (see note)
debt; dice, judge
darkly set down; head; (see note)
There is not great need; muse
insane; know little
could describe; words
fealty; avails little
persons; deceivers; (see note)
armor; hail-showers; (see note)
wallowed; pampered
sight; except pleasure and ease
correct no wrong; afoot
pleasures; sovereignty
their; one tear; let fall
became king; before; (see note)
gems with special properties; (see note)
precious pearls
red; right; judge
gems; jewels
peace; penalty
goodly engraved; about
carried; weight
precious feared; (see note)
committed; evil
loyalty; locked; peers
sapphires; sought out
Powdered over; where; (see note)
patterned; decorated
name; those; nearest; (see note)
rode; royalty
from husbandmen took; they pleased
(see note)
none; dare complain; their
fear; dukes
tabor (drum); (see note)
restitution; what; did wrong
accomplices; evil fellowship; (see note)
your subjects
woe; did not know; complain
from the old days
(see note)
dukes' crimes; forthright
cracked; it
parceling out; peers
seized; glowered
first; neither; (see note)
wisely done, as you believed
faults; worsened
guarded; knew
had not; (see note)
deceit; troubled; (see note)
unless; harvest has come in; (see note)
Blame not; (see note)
construe; (see note)
issues; put forward
emperors; (see note)
throne as a lord ought; (see note)
discussion in common
principal advisors; chose
too young; years; govern such; (see note)
(see note)
realized; at once
believe their teachings
punishment at a later time
protection; appealed to
To get a remedy of their own grievances (Sk)
believe; could not rule
striking down (see note)
pretense; troubles; remove; (see note)
trust very; version
urged; spoke
to be called lords
their working
acted appropriately; should
first one who instigated you
high on the gallows
miscreants; discouraged
advised; mischief
emboldened; men; become strong; (see note)
stirred you up stoutly
I wonder; in truth
livery (see note); men in various places
provided; guile prevented; (see note)
harts; antlered; nature
many; ran; realm
none when you needed; name
fierceness; folly; flee away
stood astonished
eagle; brought; (see note)
season; passed
molting; drew near
(see note)
fields here and there
whole herd; (see note)
(see note)
Now I wish to learn who could instruct me
kind of
caused; mark; liege-men; (see note)
whoever; stumbled; woods
paths; where
retainers' breasts; (see note)
livery; destroyed the law
encountered more; enough
oppressed; (see note)
with whom they dwelt
plumage; skins of the poor
To demand any redress for their misdeeds
scorned; each one
high up; breasts
Subjects; evil deeds; (see note)
one; score
simple; received; (see note)
served no purpose
all were with you
hinds; adhered to no other
Until; separation; (see note)
widespread; ruined; broth

ignorant; (see note)
wish to know; it came about; (see note)
possessed; desire; (see note)
(see note)
ready; run; bidding
a person; wish living
prevented; of lords
found; (see note)
(see note)
feeble; weak; default
unsteady; grown; thighs; (see note)
bear the burden; banner
belongs; annoy
Neither; nor
advisedly; approve; (see note)
Displease not your judge
you wish; lead; distress
Show; shield
if; the better for you
then I think
maintainer; marks (badges)
lords' livery; damage
boaster; fierce
Loyal; life, living on
reward; turn corrupt
judge a legal conflict
If; judge; redeemed
badge; annual salary
purpose; give
(see note)
(see note)
thickly spread around; (see note)
trustworthy; others
reason; harmed
districts; (see note)
by their identifying uniform
special mark surpassing; (see note)
judge discretion
deceived; false harts/hearts
greyhound (see note); offended
group of hounds; (see note)
highly; horned-deer; (see note)
pleases you to take pity; (see note)
young deer; ribs; thin
lack; food; flatterers steal
their wiles; waste
poverty spurred them on
did not know nor who
confounded; stopped
So that; freezing; ate
harts (antler-deer); taken
none; young deer ready; grown; (see note)
strong head; beast should
winter's weather; washed; snows
bedeviled their eyes
may you know
in which sun never shines
nurtured; provided food to
bestowed; one benefice
moderation; mean; yearn; (see note)
(see note)
by eating roots; survived; (see note)
bird spread its
protect them; nature
Just; domestic hens; hatch
cherish; chickens; chill; (see note)
noble; most genteel; (see note)
autumn; brood over
noble feathers; fledged; (see note)
venom; foully; dealt
remedy; told; truths; (see note)
battered; bird; (see note)
men on the green
scruff; riff-raff
spoke; metal; crusher; (see note)
limbs; dearest; (see note)
(see note)
kites; (see note)
(see note)
flew down
pull; prey; head from
blear-eyed scoundrel; stole (see note)
poor folks' rags; fastened; (see note)
flutter (to be anxious)
rogue should be bound; (see note)
wretch; rag-man; (see note)
woodland; stream
Seized; inheritance; belonged
cruelly caught; baited
was not; crow; fed on carrion
kindred; humiliated; (see note)
wood; dwellings
a call to return; regions; (see note)
evade; deserved; (see note)
leaves spread with lime; (see note)
traps; set
snares; hair
on high
saw clearly; requires
strategems; magpies
beautiful bird; return to the subject; (see note)
health; failed
food; stomachs
i.e., stray
listen; noble
Except; wise men's opinion
on earth; (see note)
committed; done contrary to nature's laws
(see note)
stateliness; (see note)
incites; manifest
hobbled; wood
weaken; flesh; skin
recover; catch
noble creatures; (see note)
Seeks; wretched snakes
sneak up; horses
chances; seize; adder
death; prey requires; (see note)
feeds; skin to renew
live in greater happiness
colts; injure; (see note)
hurtle at stallions; tamed
shall go to war
bait; bear; nor bind
desire misfortune; near kin
desire to see their allies
(see note)
their recovery
construe whoever can
proceed; bird
beaked; avoids; (see note)
egg-laying nears
gathers together its eggs; warms; (see note)
before the beginning of autumn
villain; (see note)
closely cropped head so
observes; leaves
seizes; seat
broods over; eggs; mother bird
body; covers; hatch
feeds; feathers
grow strong; know how to walk
their own birth mother
skulker; earlier led [astray]
loins; thin; weakened
rightful mother feeds; quickly
obscurely written; head
partridge's qualities
learning unless trickery begins [it]
ears; said earlier
own possessions; (see note)
very nearly destroyed
heir; (see note)
hurried; briars; troubled
twittered; beaks; beaten
oppressed; rods; (see note)
left; misgoverned them
lost not a jot; taxed their grain; (see note)
money; guile; (see note)
water birds; (see note)
fields; towns; (see note)
injury; (see note)
hastened themselves forth
because of their injuries
chronicle; (see note)
gladdened; bear; broke; (see note)
But then all the bear cubs burst; (see note)
glad; bird; (see note)
Bear; brought
great company
cackled; aggrieved
friends; fallen; evil strategems
mourned; murder
cursed; Earl Marshall; (see note)
knew; blindfolded; horse; (see note)
each step (moving foot), vengeance
Let us return
obscure (hidden); pierces; (see note)
faults; first did
deeds; boiled up
unless; forestalls
That would be
That too easily trusts before loyalty is shown
trifler; tormentor's clothes
strutting; stir up trouble
it seems to me; (see note)
regal; raiment; poor advice
gaily dressed people are fetched; (see note)
display admired; foolish pates
consider; person
(see note)
beguilers; changeable ribbons
are deemed
resort to credit
quickly favored
where; lodged
leap as; in the end; (see note)
hangman's cart; thrived
exchange; Cheapside
ornaments (see note); drinking horns
clip the coins (see note); ploys
lack of money
favored; believed
law of no standing; (see note)
That ignorant
hips; earns
fears; provided that
Furs of marten; furs
bean; borrow
sleeves (see note)
unless; heels; (see note)
Pernell (see note); pleats
fashion so pleased
apparel; disguised; (see note)
fault; (see note)
refashioned soon to the new style
fashion; most stylish
(see note)
call slashing; pieces; (see note)
Might; fix; seams
profit; apprise; (see note)
shun digressions
common sense; men's heads
encounter in a mist
attractive; estate requires
exquisiteness; gratify
strutting vainly; assets
coats (i.e., men)
their pleasures; teachings
livery; give
flattering; (see note)
going to court; (see note)
commences in the nobility; (see note)
slashed fashions; German; (see note)
(see note)
enter no further
penniless person; painted; (see note)
reprove; despoilers
diabolical agents
(see note)
labored; restrained
cheerfully cherish; chief
men so wanton; offended
drew; nook
modestly covered; sensible costume
conceived; style
eyebrows; beard
building lodge
Half of; unless cabins; (see note)
dwell; place; discretion; (see note)
banished; dress; (see note)
permission; (see note)
company; marveled
knew; i.e., Wisdom
hooted at; sent away; (see note)
bow-shot away
ordered; chop; head
came any closer; identified
pikes; outside
denied; gate; lasted
(see note)
beardless boys
scorned; hood
dominating; (see note)
men; best thing
happened; faults; had
gone; grudging conduct
did; before
trust; plowing helps us
be stable; ranks; (see note)
the nobility
well-paired oxen
were among; (see note)
one step
(see note)
cow; (see note)
discerning people
created; (see note)
live; pleasure
strike maintainers (see note)
prison; peer of the realm
bats; (see note)
[candle] wax; wine; waste
dainties multiplied; dancing
person; festive
reckon; accounts
lodge themselves
(see note)
think lightly
heed only; leisured folk (i.e., powerful)
back break; (see note)
glow of wealth; any person; (see note)
last; learned men
what was never seen
off its hinges; (see note)
yet; (see note)
man possesses living
reversal; (see note)
nobles travel
wander; where
imprison; looters
demand; pleadings; (see note)
(see note)
their powerful wills (?)
pledges; (see note)
brought low
undone more
earth; work
brawlers; were chosen; (see note)
(see note)
coifs; wear
brought up; issues
concocted falsehood; settlement (see note)
head-piece; heads; protect
cover; lawyer's coif
contrived (legal) disputes; squelch
pleaded their cases
judgment drew
allowed men to experience; clubs; (see note)
powers of evaluation
legal case; assess the damages
men like this, provokers
quickly seized; goaded; (see note)
silenced; menaced
laid; subjects; lashings
punishment; judgment
anything; stole; against
sat up a week; (see note)
(see note)
apprentice; requested
churls'; esteemed
throne; stars; (see note)
amends; (see note)
young knights; helmets
royal; rode against
doors break down (see note)
night revels; (see note)
bitter; received blows
had a mind to
Pursuing criminals
half such a household
fines; faults; fee farms (see note)
forfeitures many; befell
estate fees (see note); renewed
profits from fines; belonged
profit; owned
suffice; revenue
purveyors; took from (see note)
tax per pound (see note)
fifteenth; tenth (taxes) (see note)
cloth customs
credit been extended (see note)
drawn; devil
left; empty bags
it became necessary
feigned; madness
contrived; tricks
sealed with wax
peers of the realm
messages; sheriffs; (see note)
represent; nobility
drew; action
their; according to initial protocol
Appropriately; commenced
issues; openly
money; anything else
Next morning; dinner; meet
shire-knights; discuss
citizens; same purpose
go over; all their demands
(see note)
receive a salary
what is troubling them
speak; profit
there were war
those who fund us
zero; arithmetic; (see note)
(see note)
tattletales; (see note)
informed; foes
talked; observed
paid close attention; meaning
mumbled; knew not
payment; clung
do no more; fear; masters
sullen; (see note)
end; addled
could not construe
aggressive; (see note)
spread an extra sail; bore a top sail
to leeward; heavy cargo; (see note)
put about (see note); (see note)
Bent to breaking
taken in a reef; steered
struck sail; storm
Before; company
the majority
openly; proved
spoke up; (see note)
promised reward
compensated assuredly
feared; (see note)

Go to Mum and the Sothsegger: Introduction