12. Herod the Great

Play 12, HEROD THE GREAT: FOOTNOTES


1 Here begins Herod the Great

2 Lines 32–35: He will pay [for his transgression] / more than 12,000 times over, / I tell you — trust me

3 Lines 57–58: There attend on him / those who would make bold boasts (see note)

4 Lines 309–10: A virgin will conceive / and bear a son (Isaiah 7:14)

5 Lines 343–44: No, he shall be brought down; / I shall kill him immediately

6 Lines 471–72: I shall pay them on the coat (beat them) / once I begin to rampage

7 Lines 610–11: Their mothers, I know, / will never [again] bind them in swaddling cloths

8 Here ends Herod the Great


Play 12, HEROD THE GREAT: EXPLANATORY NOTES


ABBREVIATIONS: Chester: The Chester Mystery Cycle, ed. Lumiansky and Mills (1974); CT: The Canterbury Tales, ed. Benson (1987); DSL: Dictionary of the Scots Language; Elliott: The Apocryphal New Testament, ed. Elliott; EP: The Towneley plays, ed. England and Pollard (1897); MED: Middle English Dictionary; MS: Huntington MS HM 1 (“the Towneley manuscript”); N-Town: The N-Town Plays, ed. Sugano (2007); OED: Oxford English Dictionary; REED: Records of Early English Drama; SC: The Towneley Plays, eds. Stevens and Cawley (1994); s.d.: stage direction; Whiting: Whiting, Proverbs, Sentences, and Proverbial Phrases; York: The York Corpus Christi Plays, ed. Davidson (2011).

Herod is the archetypal tyrant and an infamous stage character: already in the late thirteenth century, Chaucer’s Absolon in the Miller’s Tale “pleyeth Herodes upon a scaffold hye” (CT I[A] 3384), while just over two centuries later, Shakespeare’s Hamlet denounces a bombastic acting style by stating that “It out-Herods Herod. Pray you avoid it” (Hamlet 3.2.12–13). As already noted (see the headnote to play 10), his encounter with the three Magi was given dramatic form in the liturgical Officium stellae, some examples of which include brief representation of the Massacre of the Innocents, deemed the first Christian martyrs by the Catholic church. Based on Matthew 2:16–18, this event is commemorated as the Feast of the Holy Innocents on 28 December, and has long been the focus of separate liturgical plays, and ultimately vernacular drama, in which Herod’s raging was given more free reign. No less than six Middle English dramatizations (and records of still others) survive, including the “The Killing of the Children” in the Bodleian Library’s MS Digby 133 as well as plays from York and Chester, N-Town and Towneley, and the Coventry Shearmen and Tailors’ pageant in which Herod famously “ragis in þe pagond and in the street also” (line 728, s.d.) and three mothers sing the lullaby known as the Coventry Carol just before their children are slain. Herod rages in the Towneley Offering of the Magi, as well, and indeed consults with two counselors only to become enraged by their reports; however, as SC argue, this Herod is “more conspicuously used as a vehicle to parody contemporary courtly manners” (p. 522, headnote). Despite the grim subject, the text is both complex and entertaining, much like the other plays written in the same 13-line 'bob and wheel' stanza. However, unlike his Chester, N-Town, and Digby counterparts, this Herod does not die at the end of the play (see Matthew 2:19); on its own, at least, the play gives no sense of any restoration of moral order, but leaves evil alive and well.


1 Mahowne. Muhammad is invoked as a (false) god, as often in these plays (see note to 6.410), this time not by a tyrant but by his messenger.

3–4 Both of burgh and of towne, / By fellys and by fyrth. That is, everyone — both from town and from country.

7–9 That radly wyll . . . . Shall behapp. That is, protection will be granted to all people who promptly quiet themselves down to a whisper. Calling for silence is standard at the beginning of plays featuring a tyrant.

32–35 Byes he that bargan . . . . May ye trast. That is, he will pay (for his transgression) more than 12,000 times over, I tell you — trust me.

53–55 kyng of kyngys . . . . lord of lordyngys. This phrase is explicitly associated with Christ in the New Testament (see 1 Timothy 6:15 and Apocalypse 17:14, 19:16).

57–58 Ther watys on his wyngys . . . bost wyll blaw. In keeping with the references to his great power, these lines describe Herod’s retinue as divisions of an army at his sides (see MED winge (n.), sense 8), but also evoke the image of the winged angelic force that surrounds God.

62–73 Tuskane and Turky . . . . to his crowne. Largely alliterative lists of place names are similarly featured in plays as varied as the N-Town Temptation (23.161–75), The Castle of Perseverance (lines 170–78), and the Croxton Play of the Sacrament (lines 95–114).

69–70 Unto Kemptowne, / From Sarceny to Susa. Kempton was a royal manor in Surrey, near London; Sarceny is the land of the Saracens while Susa was the supposed capital of Prester John’s mythical kingdom.

101 dernly. EP transcribe this word as dernly, glossed as “secretly, quietly” (see MED derneliche (adv.)), although the Messenger clearly wants to be seen kneeling before the king. This edition follows SC, which — noting the similarity between n and u throughout the MS — transcribe this as deruly, a variant of derfly, meaning “promptly” (SC p. 524n101; see MED derfli (adv.)). Both dern and derfe as well as the variant spelling darfe appear in the Judgment play (27.294, 655, and 1, respectively), but nowhere else in the MS.

143 small as flesh to pott. That is, like diced meat for a stew — for the pot.

146 And all for oone. The “oone” person referred to here is “that lad” (line 153), Christ.

152 In wonys. The same expression is used in a similar way in the Buffeting (“worthi in wonys,” 18.67); while “wone” has a wide range of meanings, the phrase here likely indicates the degree to which Herod should be a considered “a full lewde syre” (line 153) if he does not do as he intends.

155 this steyll brand. Herod is brandishing a sword; he also wears a crown (line 163). Herod, the Jewish king, is often represented in late medieval sources as a Saracen, armed with a curved blade (see the note to 7.b.5).

168 by Gottys dere nalys. “God’s nails” may refer to the nails of the cross or (as anachronistically) to Jesus’ finger- or toenails (as religious relics); compare “Cokys dere bonys” at lines 331 and 571 (and see note to 27.408–09).

186 Set all on sex and seven. That is, cause disorder; the phrase derives from the game of hazard, and refers to betting everything on one throw of the dice (see note to 8.56).

192 The dewill me hang and draw. That is, may the devil hang and disembowel me. (Note that “to draw and hang” means to drag to the place of execution before hanging.)

206 For-ugly and for-fell. The prefix for- is used here (and at line 737) as an intensifier.

218–19 where may I byde, / Bot fyght for teyn and al to-chyde. Where might I stay without always fighting and scolding out of anger?

227–28 Ther ar no greatt myschefys / For these maters to gnast. That is, nothing so terrible has happened to give you cause to gnash your teeth.

234 Withoutt othere sawes. That is, without further evidence or hearing what we have to say.

247 ditizance doutance. The phrase is a corruption of the French “dites sans doutance” — that is, said without doubt. French appears to be used here, as in his addressing the messenger as “Bewshere” (beau sieur or “fair sir”), largely to indicate Herod’s pretension; see the note to line 741 below.

257 to quart. The more usual phrase is “in quart” (as at line 481) — that is, in health.

284 prevey counsel. The privy (that is, private or personal) council — in this case, apparently just two Counselors — served as advisors to the monarch.

285–86 Clerkys, ye bere the bell; / Ye must me encense. He asks the clerks to lead the way, swinging incense in censers or thuribles as they might do before a priest at mass. While “you bear the bell” could mean “you are the best” (or worst — see 8.268 and note), here it more means simply that they should lead the way, as the bell-wether might lead the flock. It is possible, given the censing, that one of them also literally carries and rings a bell, as was done to signal the beginning of the mass (and at the Elevation of the Host), emphasizing Herod’s blasphemous pride.

287–90 Oone spake . . . . to be kyng. In the Offering of the Magi, the counselors, not the Magi, tell Herod about the prophecy of the virgin birth (see 10.417–20), as they will do in this play as well.

293 In Vyrgyll, in Homere. Virgil’s Fourth Eclogue was widely interpreted as messianic prophecy (see 8.556–59 and note), and the work of Homer through the Latin Middle Ages was known largely through paraphrase or summary and often Christianized commentary; Herod’s avoidance of the sacred, to a late medieval audience, may have appeared not merely misguided but comically impossible.

295 Bot legende. The modern sense of “legend” as inauthentic or nonhistorical is not attested until the seventeenth century (see OED legend (n.), sense 5b); prior to that the primary meanings relate to the lives of saints and scriptural readings for ecclesiastical services — holy texts that Herod wishes here to avoid.

297–98 Lefe pystyls and grales; / Mes, matyns noght avalys. That is, avoid the (apostolic) Epistles and hymns; the services of the mass and of Matins (early morning prayers) have no benefit. The counselors respond by giving readings from Jewish scripture — the Old Testament — rather than directly (and anachronistically) from the New Testament; these are nonetheless readings used prominently in Christian services.

304–14 We rede thus by Isay . . . . for to say. The same passage (Isaiah 7:14) is quoted in the second Shepherds play (9.982–84; see also 8.491–503) and is referred to in the Offering of the Magi (see 10.417–28 and note); see also the final note to 7.a.

315–20 And othere says . . . . shal be ay. The reference is to Micah 5:2; see also 10.445 and note.

327 bot I drynk onys. Most of the York tyrants and villains drink onstage as well (York 7.80, 29.74, 30.95, 31.37, 32.129).

332 Thou can not half thi crede. The creed was typically the first thing learned in school; this is thus equivalent to saying that one does not know the alphabet.

352 a carll in a kafe. According to the Protevangelium 18:1 (Elliott, p. 64) the nativity took place in a cave.

387–90 Markys, rentys, and powndys . . . . the chace. A mark was a monetary unit worth 160 pence or two-thirds of a pound sterling, while “rents” can refer to a variety of revenue sources or to the revenue itself. Herod also offers his counselors property and hunting rights, which only a king can grant. See MED chace (n.), sense 1b.

419–20 Tarry not for to stand / Ther or we have beyn. That is, do not pause until we get there.

437 brast my gall. The gall bladder was the proverbial seat of bitterness and anger, as the organ associated with yellow bile — the choleric humor.

419–20 men I shall you make, / Where ye com aywhere. That is, men of note, recognized everywhere. They are of course being sent to kill a defenseless child, making the line ironic; however, it is possible that Herod here gives them emblazoned tabards to wear, making them recognizably his men (see the note to line 517 below).

461 I mon whett lyke a bore. That is, I must prepare for attack, whetting my tusks like a boar; the soldier may literally be sharpening a sword or spear.

475 grote. A groat was worth four pence. He is making a wager that he will manage to offend the woman he approaches at line 478. In leaving Herod’s palace, the soldiers have possibly moved into the audience, where — one by one — they meet the actors playing the mothers, effectively making the audience complicit as idle bystanders, but also under threat.

491 Have on loft on thy hode. She hits him on his head. As her next line indicates, the soldier immediately kills her child.

517 Have at thy tabard. She beats him. A tabard is a short, open-sided surcoat, worn over armor and generally emblazoned with armorial bearings — presumably here a symbol of Herod (see the note to lines 441–42, above). As before, the soldier kills her child as soon as he is attacked (see line 521), possibly taking advantage of her movement against him.

533 mekyll warldys wonder. That is, astonishing miracles or more particularly prodigious punishment.

538 Wyll ye do any dere. The third woman initially uses the polite singular pronoun ye in response to the soldier’s coaxing, but switches to the familiar form “thou” (line 543) when the soldier kills her child.

556 This kepe I in store. That is, there is more where that came from. She has jabbed or stabbed him with something, possibly a spindle (see 3.430–41, 9.430 and notes).

575 ryn fote hote. That is, hot-foot it — run quickly.

642–44 A hundreth thowsand pownde . . . . Of pennys good and rownde. What he offers and what he tells them they are worth are drastically different; 100,000 pounds would be equivalent to 240 million pennies — far more than they could carry.

662–63 Now Mahowne he you bryng / Where he is lord freyndly. May Mahound bring you to where he reigns in friendly manner — that is, within the medieval Christian view, to hell. At this point the soldiers make their exit, leaving Herod alone, “in peasse” (line 664), to address the audience.

687 all of sugar is my gall. That is, all bitterness is turn to sweetness; see also line 437 and note.

696–702 And els wonder . . . . cannot bete. That is, it would be a marvelous thing that one should be unharmed and escape unhurt, given that so many lie strewn in the streets where many children cannot find relief for their suffering.

703–05 A hundreth thowsand . . . And fourty . . . And four thowsand. Herod’s stated total of 144,000 dead alludes to the number of those marked as having served God in Apocalypse 7:4.

709–15 Had I had bot oone bat . . . . many a tong. That is, if I had had just one chance to hit that young child, how I avenged myself would be spoken about by many, even after I was dead.

718–19 In thare wyttys that ravys / Sich mastré to make. That is, who think wild thoughts about having such authority as I have.

735–37 Begyn I to rokyn, / I thynk all dysdayn / For-daunche. When I consider the matter, I think that all disdain is squeamish; that is, nothing is really contemptible. The MS has rekyn, emended here as in SC for rhyme (SC p. 530n735), but with the assumption that the meaning is the same, the form being a northern variant.

741 I can no more Fraunch. That is, no more than “adieu” (line 740) and the smattering of French forms he has used through the play (see line 247 and note).


Play 12, HEROD THE GREAT: TEXTUAL NOTES


ABBREVIATIONS: EP: The Towneley Plays, ed. England and Pollard (EETS, 1897); Facs: The Towneley Cycle: A Facsimile of Huntington MS HM 1, ed. Cawley and Stevens; MED: Middle English Dictionary; MS: Huntington MS HM 1 (base text); SC: The Towneley Plays, ed. Stevens and Cawley (EETS, 1994); s.d.: stage direction; Surtees: The Towneley Mysteries, ed. Raine; York: The York Corpus Christi Plays, ed. Davidson (2011).

16 sourmontyng. So SC. MS: Iourmontyng, having apparently mistaken a long s for an I, possibly assuming an alliterative pairing with Iewry.

43 Greatt. MS has an uncancelled stroke before this word.

101 dervly. So MS. SC: deruly. EP: dernly.

122 For if. MS: a later hand has scrawled these same words and more, smudged and faded, in the top margin above the line itself.

221 And told when thay went by. MS: a later hand has written a B in the margin after this line.

244 Shall I se on thare bonys. MS: there is a faint black cross in the margin before this line.

330 knafe thou. A later hand has written ys (this?) in the margin above these words.

381 a pope. The words have been partly erased.

389 soundys. So SC, restoring rhyme. MS: sandys.

409 Soldier 2 (speech heading). MS: the speech heading (secundus miles) is written midline as if part of the dialogue, not boxed in red.

500 al to-torne. So SC. EP, MS: alto torne.

617 emang. SC, MS: emangys, here emended for rhyme.

735 rokyn. So SC, emending the rhyme. MS: rekyn.

 
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Messenger
Herod
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Incipit magnus Herodes 1

Moste myghty Mahowne
Meng you with myrth.
Both of burgh and of towne,
By fellys and by fyrth,
Both kyng with crowne
And barons of brith
That radly wyll rowne,
Many greatt grith
Shall behapp.
Take tenderly intent
What sondys ar sent,
Els harmes shall ye hent
And lothes you to lap.

Herode the heynd kyng,
By grace of Mahowne,
Of Jury, sourmontyng
Sternly with crowne,
On lyfe that ar lyfyng
In towre and in towne,
Gracyus you gretyng,
Commaundys you be bowne
At his bydyng.
Luf hym with lewté,
Drede hym, that doughty;
He chargys you be redy
Lowly at his lykyng.

What man apon mold
Menys hym agane
Tytt teyn shall be told;
Knyght, sqwyere, or swayn,
Be he never so bold,
Byes he that bargan
Twelf thowsandfold
More then I sayn,
May ye trast. 2
He is worthy wonderly,
Selcouthly sory;
For a boy that is borne her by
Standys he abast.

A kyng thay hym call,
And that we deny.
How shuld it so fall
Greatt mervell have I;
Therfor over all
Shall I make a cry
That ye busk not to brall,
Nor lyke not to ly
This tyde.
Carpys of no kyng
Bot Herode that lordyng,
Or busk to youre beyldyng,
Youre heedys for to hyde.

He is kyng of kyngys,
Kyndly I knowe,
Chefe lord of lordyngys,
Chefe leder of law.
Ther watys on his wyngys
That bold bost wyll blaw; 3
Greatt dukys downe dyngys
For his greatt aw
And hym lowtys;
Tuskane and Turky
All Inde and Italy
Cecyll and Surry
Drede hym and dowtys.

From Paradyse to Padwa
To Mownt Flascon,
From Egyp to Mantua
Unto Kemptowne,
From Sarceny to Susa
To Grece it abowne,
Both Normondy and Norwa
Lowtys to his crowne.
His renowne
Can no tong tell,
From heven unto hell;
Of hym can none spell
Bot his cosyn Mahowne.

He is the worthyest of all
Barnes that ar borne;
Fre men ar his thrall,
Full teynfully torne.
Begyn he to brall,
Many men cach skorne.
Obey must we all
Or els be ye lorne
Att onys.
Downe dyng of youre knees
All that hym seys;
Dysplesyd he beys,
And byrkyn many bonys.

Here he commys now, I cry,
That lord I of spake.
Fast afore wyll I hy,
Radly on a rake,
And welcom hym worshipfully,
Laghyng with lake,
As he is most worthy,
And knele for his sake
So low,
Downe dervly to fall,
As renk most ryall.
Hayll, the worthyest of all!
To thee must I bow.

Hayll, luf lord! Lo,
Thi letters have I layde.
I have done I couth do,
And peasse have I prayd,
Mekyll more therto
Opynly dysplayd.
Bot romoure is rasyd so
That boldly thay brade
Emangys thame.
Thay carp of a kyng;
Thay seasse not sich chateryng.
Bot I shall tame thare talkyng,
And let thame go hang thame.

Stynt, brodels, youre dyn —
Yei, everychon.
I red that ye harkyn
To I be gone,
For if I begyn
I breke ilka bone,
And pull fro the skyn
The carcas anone.
Yei, perdé,
Sesse all this wonder
And make us no blonder,
For I ryfe you in sonder,
Be ye so hardy.

Peasse, both yong and old
At my bydyng I red,
For I have all in wold.
In me standys lyfe and dede.
Who that is so bold,
I brane hym thrugh the hede.
Speke not or I have told
What I will in this stede.
Ye wote nott
All that I will mefe.
Styr not bot ye have lefe,
For if ye do I clefe
You small as flesh to pott.

My myrthes ar turned to teyn,
My mekenes into ire;
And all for oone, I weyn,
Within I fare as fyre.
May I se hym with eyn,
I shall gyf hym his hyre.
Bot I do as I meyn
I were a full lewde syre
In wonys.
Had I that lad in hand,
As I am kyng in land
I shuld with this steyll brand
Byrkyn all his bonys.

My name spryngys far and nere:
The doughtyest, men me call,
That ever ran with spere,
A lord and kyng ryall.
What joy is me to here
A lad to sesse my stall.
If I this crowne may bere
That boy shall by for all.
I anger;
I wote not what dewill me alys.
Thay teyn me so with talys
That by Gottys dere nalys
I wyll peasse no langer.

What dewill! me thynk I brast
For anger and for teyn.
I trow thyse kyngys be past
That here with me has beyn;
Thay promysed me full fast
Or now here to be seyn,
For els I shuld have cast
Anothere sleght I weyn.
I tell you,
A boy thay sayd thay soght
With offeryng that thay broght;
It mefys my hart right noght
To breke his nek in two.

Bot be thay past me by,
By Mahowne in heven,
I shall and that in hy
Set all on sex and seven.
Trow ye a kyng as I
Will suffre thaym to neven
Any to have mastry
Bot myself full even?
Nay, leyfe
The dewill me hang and draw.
If I that losell knaw,
Bot I gyf hym a blaw
That lyfe I shall hym reyfe.

For parels yit I wold
Wyst if thay were gone.
And ye therof her told
I pray you, say anone,
For and thay be so bold,
By God that syttys in trone,
The payn can not be told
That thay shall have ilkon
For ire.
Sich panys hard never man tell,
For-ugly and for-fell,
That Lucyfere in hell
Thare bonys shall all to-tyre.

Lord, thynk not ill if I
Tell you how thay ar past;
I kepe not layn, truly.
Syn thay cam by you last,
Anothere way in hy
Thay soght, and that full fast.
Why and ar thay past me by?
Wé, outt, for teyn I brast!
Wé, fy!
Fy on thee dewill! where may I byde,
Bot fyght for teyn and al to-chyde.
Thefys, I say ye shuld have spyde
And told when thay went by.

Ye ar knyghtys to trast.
Nay, losels ye ar, and thefys!
I wote I yelde my gast,
So sore my hart it grefys.
What nede you be abast?
Ther ar no greatt myschefys
For these maters to gnast.
Why put ye sich reprefys
Withoutt cause?
Thus shuld ye not thrett us
Ungaynly to bete us;
Ye shuld not rehett us
Withoutt othere sawes.

Fy, losels and lyars,
Lurdans ilkon!
Tratoures and well wars,
Knafys, bot knyghtys none!
Had ye bene woth youre eres
Thus had thay not gone.
Gett I those land-lepars,
I breke ilka bone.
Fyrst vengeance
Shall I se on thare bonys.
If ye byde in these wonys
I shall dyng you with stonys –
Yei, ditizance doutance!

I wote not where I may sytt
For anger and for teyn.
We have not done all yit,
If it be as I weyn.
Fy, dewill! now how is it?
As long as I have eyn
I thynk not for to flytt,
Bot kyng I will be seyn
Forever.
Bot stand I to quart,
I tell you my hart,
I shall gar thaym start,
Or els trust me never.

Syr, thay went sodanly,
Or any man wyst,
Els had mett we — yei, perdy,
And may ye tryst.
So bold nor so hardy
Agans oure lyst
Was none of that company
Durst mete me with fyst
For ferd.
Ill durst thay abyde
Bot ran thame to hyde;
Might I thaym have spyde,
I had made thaym a berd.

What couth we more do
To save youre honoure?
We were redy therto,
And shal be ilk howre.
Now syn it is so,
Ye shall have favoure.
Go where ye wyll go,
By towne and by towre;
Goys hens.
I have maters to mell
With my prevey counsell.
Clerkys, ye bere the bell;
Ye must me encense.

Oone spake in myne eere
A wonderfull talkyng,
And sayde a madyn shuld bere
Anothere to be kyng.
Syrs, I pray you inquere
In all wrytyng,
In Vyrgyll, in Homere,
And all other thyng
Bot legende;
Sekys poecé tayllys.
Lefe pystyls and grales;
Mes, matyns noght avalys.
All these I defende.

I pray you tell heyndly
Now what ye fynde.
Truly, syr, prophecy
It is not blynd.
We rede thus by Isay:
He shal be so kynde
That a madyn sothely
Which never synde
Shall hym bere
Virgo concipiet
Natumque pariet, 4
“Emanuell” is hete,
His name for to lere:

“God is with us”
That is for to say.
And othere says thus,
Tryst me ye may,
Of Bedlem a gracyus
Lord shall spray
That of Jury myghtyus
Kyng shal be ay,
Lord myghty;
And hym shall honoure
Both kyng and emperoure.
Why and shuld I to hym cowre?
Nay, ther thou lyys lyghtly.

Fy, the dewill thee spede!
And me, bot I drynk onys.
This has thou done indede
To anger me for the nonys;
And thou, knafe, thou thy mede
Shall have, by Cokys dere bonys.
Thou can not half thi crede.
Outt, thefys, fro my wonys.
Fy, knafys!
Fy, dottypols with youre bookys;
Go kast thaym in the brookys.
With sich wylys and crokys
My wytt away rafys.

Hard I never sich a trant
That a knafe so sleght
Shuld com lyke a sant
And refe me my right.
Nay, he shall on-slant;
I shall kyll hym downe stryght. 5
War, I say, lett me pant.
Now thynk I to fyght
For anger.
My guttys will outt thryng
Bot I this lad hyng.
Withoutt I have a vengyng
I may lyf no langer.

Shuld a carll in a kafe
Bot of oone yere age
Thus make me to rafe?
Syr, peasse this outrage.
Away let ye wafe
All sich langage,
Youre worship to safe.
Is he oght bot a page
Of a yere?
We two shall hym teyn
With oure wyttys betweyn;
That if ye do as I meyn,
He shall dy on a spere.

For drede that he reyn,
Do as we red:
Thrugoutt Bedlem
And ilk othere stede
Make knyghtys ordeyn
And put unto dede
All knave chyldren
Of two yerys brede
And within;
This chyld may ye spyll
Thus at youre awne will.
Now thou says heretyll
A right nobyll gyn.

If I lyf in land
Good lyfe, as I hope,
This dar I thee warand:
To make thee a pope.
O, my hart is rysand
Now in a glope.
For this nobyll tythand
Thou shall have a drope
Of my good grace:
Markys, rentys, and powndys,
Greatt castels and groundys
Thrugh all sees and soundys,
I gyf thee the chace.

Now wyll I procede
And take veniance.
All the flowre of knyghthede
Call to legeance,
Bewshere, I thee byd;
It may thee avance.
Lord, I shall me spede
And bryng perchaunce
To thy syght.
Hark, knyghtys, I you bryng
Here new tythyng:
Unto Herode kyng
Hast with all youre myght,

In all the hast that ye may,
In armowre full bright;
In youre best aray
Looke that ye be dight.
Why shuld we fray?
This is not all right.
Syrs, withoutten delay
I drede that we fight.
I pray you,
As fast as ye may
Com to hym this day.
What, in oure best aray?
Yei, syrs, I say you.

Somwhat is in hand,
Whatever it meyn.
Tarry not for to stand
Ther or we have beyn.
Kyng Herode, all-weldand,
Well be ye seyn;
Youre knyghtys ar comand
In armoure full sheyn
At youre wyll.
Hayll, dughtyest of all.
We are comen at youre call
For to do what we shall,
Youre lust to fullfyll.

Welcom, lordyngys, iwys,
Both greatt and small.
The cause now is this
That I send for you all:
A lad, a knafe borne is
That shuld be kyng ryall;
Bot I kyll hym and his
I wote I brast my gall.
Therfor, syrs,
Veniance shall ye take,
All for that lad sake,
And men I shall you make,
Where ye com aywhere, syrs.

To Bedlem loke ye go,
And all the coste aboute.
All knave chyldren ye slo —
And lordys, ye shal be stoute —
Of yeres if they be two
And within; of all that rowte
On lyfe lyefe none of tho
That lygys in swedyll clowte,
I red you.
Spare no kyns bloode;
Lett all ryn on floode.
If women wax woode,
I warn you, syrs, to spede you.

Hens now, go youre way
That ye were thore.
I wote we make a fray,
Bot I wyll go before.
A, thynk syrs, I say:
I mon whett lyke a bore.
Sett me before ay,
Good enogh for a skore.
Hayll, heyndly!
We shall for youre sake
Make a dulfull lake.
Now if ye me well wrake,
Ye shall fynd me freyndly.

Go ye now tyll oure noytt
And handyll thaym weyll.
I shall pay thaym on the cote
Begyn I to reyll. 6
Hark, felose, ye dote.
Yonder commys unceyll
I hold here a grote
She lykys me not weyll
Be we parte.
Dame, thynk it not yll
Thy knafe if I kyll.
What, thefe, agans my wyll?
Lord kepe hym in qwarte.

Abyde now, abyde.
No farther thou gose.
Peasse, thefe, shall I chyde
And make here a nose?
I shall reyfe thee thy pryde.
Kyll we these boyse.
Tyd may betyde.
Kepe well thy nose,
Fals thefe.
Have on loft on thy hode!
What, hoore, art thou woode?
Outt, alas, my chyldys bloode!
Outt, for reprefe!

Alas, for shame and syn.
Alas, that I was borne.
Of wepyng who may blyn
To se hir chylde forlorne?
My comforth and my kyn,
My son thus al to-torne.
Veniance for this syn
I cry both evyn and morne!
Well done.
Com hedyr, thou old stry;
That lad of thyne shall dy.
Mercy, lord, I cry.
It is myn awne dere son.

No mercy thou mefe;
It mendys thee not, Mawd.
Then thi skalp shall I clefe!
Lyst thou be clawd?
Lefe, lefe now, bylefe!
Peasse, byd I, bawd.
Fy, fy, for reprefe!
Fy, full of frawde,
No man!
Have at thy tabard,
Harlot and holard,
Thou shall not be sparde!
I cry and I ban.

Outt! morder-man, I say,
Strang tratoure and thefe!
Out, alas, and waloway!
My chyld that was me lefe,
My luf, my blood, my play,
That never dyd man grefe!
Alas, alas, this day;
I wold my hart shuld clefe
In sonder.
Veniance I cry and call
On Herode and his knyghtys all:
Veniance, Lord, apon thaym fall,
And mekyll warldys wonder!

This is well wroght gere
That ever may be.
Comys hederward here,
Ye nede not to fle.
Wyll ye do any dere
To my chyld and me?
He shall dy, I thee swere;
His hart blood shall thou se.
God forbede.
Thefe, thou shedys my chyldys blood!
Out, I cry! I go nere wood
Alas, my hart is all on flood
To se my chyld thus blede.

By God, thou shall aby
This dede that thou has done.
I red thee not, stry,
By son and by moyn.
Have at thee, say I!
Take thee ther a foyn.
Out on thee, I cry!
Have at thi groyn
Anothere!
This kepe I in store.
Peasse now, no more!
I cry and I rore!
Out on thee, mans mordere!

Alas, my bab, myn innocent,
My fleshly get! For sorow
That God me derly sent,
Of bales who may me borow?
Thy body is all to-rent.
I cry both even and morow
Veniance for thi blod thus spent:
Out, I cry, and horow!
Go lightly.
Gett out of thise wonys
Ye trattys, all at onys,
Or by Cokys dere bonys
I make you go wyghtly.

Thay ar flayd now, I wote;
Thay will not abyde.
Lett us ryn fote-hote —
Now wold I we hyde —
And tell of this lott
How we have betyde.
Thou can do thi note;
That have I aspyde.
Go furth now,
Tell thou Herode oure tayll.
For all oure avayll,
I tell you, saunce fayll
He wyll us alow.

I am best of you all,
And ever has bene.
The devyll have my saull
Bot I be fyrst sene.
It syttys me to call
My lord, as I wene.
What nedys thee to brall?
Be not so kene
In this anger.
I shall say thou dyd best,
Save myself as I gest.
Wé, that is most honest.
Go, tary no langer.

Hayll, Herode oure kyng!
Full glad may ye be;
Good tythyng we bryng.
Harkyn now to me:
We have mayde rydyng
Thrughoutt Juré;
Well wyt ye oone thyng,
That morderd have we
Many thowsandys.
I held thaym full hote;
I payd them on the cote.
Thare dammys, I wote,
Never byndys them in bandys. 7

Had ye sene how I fard
When I cam emang them!
Ther was none that I spard,
Bot lade on and dang them.
I am worthy a rewarde.
Where I was emang them,
I stud and I stard;
No pyté to hang them
Had I.
Now by myghty Mahowne
That is good of renowne,
If I bere this crowne,
Ye shall have a lady

Ilkon to hym layd
And wed at his wyll.
So have ye lang sayde;
Do somwhat thertyll.
And I was never flayde,
For good ne for yll.
Ye myght hold you well payde
Oure lust to fulfyll,
Thus thynk me,
With tresure untold,
If it lyke that ye wold
Both sylver and gold
To gyf us greatt plenté.

As I am kyng crownde,
I thynk it good right;
Ther goys none on grownde
That has sich a wyght.
A hundreth thowsand pownde
Is good wage for a knyght;
Of pennys good and rownde
Now may ye go light
With store.
And ye knyghtys of oures
Shall have castels and towres,
Both to you and to youres,
For now and evermore.

Was never none borne,
By downes ne by dalys,
Nor yit us beforne
That had sich avalys.
We have castels and corne;
Mych gold in oure malys.
It wyll never be worne,
Withoutt any talys.
Hayll, heyndly!
Hayll, lord! Hayll, kyng!
We ar furth foundyng.
Now Mahowne he you bryng
Where he is lord freyndly!

Now in peasse may I stand.
I thank thee, Mahowne,
And gyf of my lande
That longys to my crowne.
Draw therfor nerehande,
Both of burgh and of towne:
Markys ilkon a thowsande
When I am bowne
Shall ye have;
I shal be full fayn
To gyf that I sayn.
Wate when I com agayn
And then may ye crave.

I sett by no good,
Now my hart is at easse,
That I shed so mekyll blode.
Pes, all my ryches.
For to se this flode
From the fote to the nese
Mefys nothyng my mode;
I lagh that I whese.
A, Mahowne,
So light is my saull
That all of sugar is my gall.
I may do what I shall
And bere up my crowne.

I was castyn in care,
So frightly afrayd,
Bot I thar not dyspare,
For low is he layd
That I most dred are;
So have I hym flayd.
And els wonder ware,
And so many strayd
In the strete,
That oone shuld be harmeles
And skape away hafles
Whereso many chyldes
Thare balys cannot bete.

A hundreth thowsand, I watt,
And fourty ar slayn,
And four thowsand. Therat
Me aght to be fayn,
Sich a morder on a flat
Shall never be agayn.
Had I had bot oone bat
At that lurdan
So yong,
It shuld have bene spokyn
How I had me wrokyn,
Were I dede and rotyn,
With many a tong.

Thus shall I tech knavys
Ensampyll to take,
In thare wyttys that ravys
Sich mastré to make.
All wantones wafys;
No langage ye crak.
No sufferan you savys;
Youre nekkys shall I shak
In sonder.
No kyng ye on call
Bot on Herode the ryall,
Or els many oone shall
Apon youre bodys wonder.

For if I here it spokyn
When I com agayn,
Youre branys bese brokyn;
Therfor be ye bayn.
Nothyng bese unlokyn;
It shal be so playn.
Begyn I to rokyn,
I thynk all dysdayn
For-daunche.
Syrs, this is my counsell:
Bese not to cruell.
Bot adew, to the devyll!
I can no more Fraunch.

Explicit Magnus Herodes. 8
 













(see note)
make you merry
borough; (see note)
hills; forest

birth
promptly; whisper; (see note)
protection

Take heed
messages
seize you
injuries will enfold you

gracious

Jewry, surmounting; (t-note)

Alive

Greeting you graciously
ready

Love; loyalty
valiant

Humbly; pleasure

on earth
Threatens him
Shall quickly suffer harm
servant

(see note)


trust

Wonderfully sad
here
dismayed




(t-note)


prepare; brawl
Nor are inclined to lie

Talk

hurry; shelter
heads

(see note)



(see note)

strikes
reverence
bow to him
Tuscany; (see note)
India
Sicily; Syria
Fear

Padua
Montefiascone

(see note)


Normandy; Norway
Bow

tongue

speak



Children
slaves
grievously injured

catch

lost
At once
Fall down on

he is
breaks; bones



in front
Promptly in a rush

glee



promptly; (see note); (t-note)
rank




presented
all I could do
peace
Much

rumor
outcry
Among themselves


tame


Cease, scoundrels
everyone
advise; listen
Until
(t-note)
each

soon
by God

error
[will] tear you asunder



say
under [my] control


strike
before
place
know not
provoke
unless; permission
cleave
stewing meat; (see note)

pleasures; suffering
meekness; anger
one person; believe; (see note)
I burn inside
eyes
wages
Unless; intend
utterly worthless
Exceedingly; (see note)


steel sword; (see note)
Break


most valiant

royal
hear
seize; place

pay

ails
annoy; tales
God’s dear nails; (see note)
remain peaceful

burst
annoyance
believe


Before
played
trick; think



moves




in haste
(see note)

name


gladly
(see note)
scoundrel recognize

rob

perils (on account of the possible danger)
Know
If you; hear
soon
Even if


each one

pains; heard
Overly ugly and savage; (see note)

tear apart



do not seek to conceal anything

in haste


anger

stay; (see note)
brawl violently

told [me]; (t-note)

trust

spirit
grieves
dismayed
(see note)
gnash
reproofs

threaten
Improperly
rebuke
speeches; (see note)


Louts each one
worse
Knaves
worth; ears

vagabonds


their; (t-note)
places
hit
without a doubt; (see note)


annoyance

think

eyes
flight


in health; (see note)

cause


[fol. 57r]
Before; knew
yes, by God
trust

desire

[That] dared
fear
They dared not stay


outwitted them

could


each
since




discuss
privy; (see note)
(see note)
lead

(see note)



inquire

(see note)

holy texts; (see note)
poetic tales
epistles; graduals; (see note)
Matins
forbid

graciously



(see note)
conceived

sinned



named




(see note)

From Bethlehem
rise up
Jewry




cower
lie readily

assist
unless; (see note)

on purpose
reward; (t-note)
God’s
know; creed; (see note)
dwelling

blockheads

wiles; tricks
wanders

Heard; trick
insignificant
saint
rob
aslant

Beware


burst
Unless; hang
Unless; vengeance


churl; cave; (see note)

rave

put aside


child

harm
combined

spear

reign
say

every other place
prepare

male
age

kill


scheme



warrant
(t-note)
rising
palpitation
information
small portion

(see note)

seas; inlets (straits); (t-note)
hunting rights


vengeance

allegiance
Fair sir
advance

perhaps


tidings




armor
array
equipped
fight
(t-note)










Delay; (see note)
before
almighty

coming
bright

fearless


desire

indeed






burst; gallbladder; (see note)


lad’s
(see note)
everywhere

look
countryside
slay
fierce

crowd
Alive leave; them
swaddling clothes


run in floods
become mad
hurry


So that; there



(see note)
Put me in front
score
graciously

dismal sport
avenge


to our business



fellows; speak foolishly; [fol. 58v]
misfortune
wager; a silver coin; (see note)

By the time that


against
health




noise
rob you of

Come what may
Protect

aloft; head; (see note)
whore; mad

disgrace



end


slain; (t-note)
sin
evening and morning

hag




ask
profits
cleave
Would you like to be clawed
Leave; at once


fraud

coat; (see note)
Scoundrel; libertine
spared
moan

murderer
Flagrant traitor

dear to me
love; joy
grief

should break
Asunder



great; earthly; (see note)

business

hitherward
flee
harm; (see note)


heart’s



overflowing


pay for

advise; hag
sun; moon

thrust

groin

(see note)

roar
murderer

babe
offspring

griefs; save
torn apart
evening

shout
nimbly
these places
hags
God’s
quickly

frightened

run quickly; (see note)


done
duty
observed


efforts
without fail
praise



soul
Unless; seen
befits
suppose
brawl



thought








Jewry
know
murdered

violently
beat their hides
mothers


fared

spared
attacked; beat

(t-note)
stood; stared







Each one; presented



frightened
nor
pleased
desire








ground
creature
(see note)

pennies
quickly
abundance






hills; valleys

profits
grain
wallets
wasted
Truly
graciously

hurrying forth
(see note)








A thousand marks each
ready

glad
what I say
Wait [until]
demand [it]

deem it unimportant

much
kingdoms

nose
Moves
laugh so hard that I wheeze


(see note)
I do what I must


cast

need not despair

feared before
tortured
(see note)
strewn


escape; unhurt
children
suffering; relieve

think; (see note)


I ought; glad
field

blow; (see note)
lout


avenged myself
rotten



Example
rave; (see note)

wantonness put aside
Do not speak loudly (boastfully)
saves
shake
Asunder





hear

brains
ready
explained

(see note); (t-note)
disdain
Overly fastidious

Be
adieu (goodbye)
I can speak no more French; (see note)


 

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