Art. 86, Ordre de bel ayse

ART. 86, ORDRE DE BEL AYSE: EXPLANATORY NOTES


Abbreviations: AND: Anglo-Norman Dictionary; ANL: Anglo-Norman Literature: A Guide to Texts and Manuscripts (R. Dean and Boulton); BL: British Library (London); Bodl.: Bodleian Library (Oxford); CT: Chaucer, Canterbury Tales; CUL: Cambridge University Library (Cambridge); DOML: Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library; FDT: French Devotional Texts of the Middle Ages (Sinclair 1979); FDT-1French Devotional Texts of the Middle Ages, . . . First Supplement (Sinclair 1982); IMEV: The Index of Middle English Verse (Brown and Robbins); MED: Middle English Dictionary; MWME: A Manual of the Writings in Middle English, 1050–1500 (Severs et al.); NIMEV: A New Index of Middle English Verse (Boffey and Edwards); NLS: National Library of Scotland (Edinburgh).

34 Sympringham. Sempringham, Lincolnshire, the home of the Gilbertine Order of canons regular, founded around 1130. It was mixed order of monks and nuns.

61 Beverleye. A local monastery was founded at Beverley Minster around the year 700.

71 Hospitlers. The order of the Knights Hospitallers of Saint John of Jerusalem, which is dedicated to hospitality, religion, and militancy. Hospitallers were present in England from at least the mid-twelfth century onwards.

79 chanoynes. According to Aspin, these are “presumably the Augustinian or regular canons. They lived a quasi-monastic life” (p. 141).

95 moyne neirs. The Black Monks are the Benedictines.

115 chanoynes seculers. The secular canons are the clergy who served in cathedrals and important churches. They lived outside of a monastery by rules of discipline.

133 Gris moignes. The Gray Monks are the Cistercians.

148 seynz. “Bells,” which becomes a euphemism for “testicles.”

155 Charthous. The Carthusians, who lived isolated within individual cells (miniature dwellings), which would include space to grow vegetables and herbs in a walled garden.

169 frere menours. The Friars Minor, that is, the Franciscans.

177–92 One is reminded of Chaucer’s Friar, committed to poverté, who preaches the easy way to heaven and prefers the company of women and franklins, where he can have good food and board and be made comfortable, rather than lodge with a povre honme. Compare the General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, lines 215–17.

194 prechours. The Order of Preachers, that is, the Dominican friars.

215 The satiric point, regarding how an understanding friar will accept penance from one who is too hard-hearted to weep, resembles a detail in Chaucer’s Friar’s portrait in the General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, lines 228–32.

239 Augustyns. The Augustinian Order of friars.


ART. 86, ORDRE DE BEL AYSE: TEXTUAL NOTES


ABBREVIATIONS: As: Aspin; : Böddeker; Br: Brook; BS: Bennett and Smithers; BZ: Brandl and Zippel; B13: Brown 1937; Dea: J. M. Dean; Do: Dove 1969; Fl: Flood; : Förster; Fu: Furnivall; HB: Hunt and Bliss; Kem: Kemble; Ken: Kennedy; Mi: Millett; Mo: Morris and Skeat; MS: MS Harley 2253; Mu1: H. J. R. Murray; Mu2: J. A. H. Murray; NB: Noomen and van den Boogard; Pa: Patterson; Rev: Revard 2005a; Ri: Ritson 1877; Ro: Robbins 1959; SP: Short and Pearcy; Si: Silverstein; St: Stemmler 1970; Tu: Turville-Petre 1989; Ul: Ulrich; W1: Wright 1839; W2: Wright 1841; W3: Wright 1842; WH: Wright and Halliwell.

15 sonme. So MS, W1. As: soume.

16 prodhonme. So MS (ro abbreviated), W1. As: prodoume.

29 lerroi. So MS, W1. As: lerrei.

59 fount. So MS, As. W1: font.

65 collacioun. So MS, W1. As: collatioun.

69 chandeille. So MS, W1. As: chandelle.

115 chanoynes. So MS, As. W1: chanoygnes.

122 sueres. So MS, As. W1: freres.

144 execucioun. So MS. W1, As: executioun.

150 nos. So MS, As. W1: no.

155 Charthous. So MS, As. W1: Chaichons.

163 De l’herber. MS, W1, As: Del herber.

167 entreoblier. So MS, As. W1: entreoublier.

169 fuer. So MS, As. W1: suer.

182 a eese. So MS. W1: acese. As: a oese.

188 en. So MS, As. W1: ne.

213 aukes. So MS, As. W1: ankes.

232 mesfet. So MS. W1, As: meffet.

246 bonz. So MS, W1. As: bons.

 
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   ¶ Qui vodra a moi entendre
Oyr purra e aprendre
L’estoyre de un ordre novel
Qe mout est delitous e bel.
Je le vous dirroi come l’ay apris
Des freres de mon pays.
L’ordre est si foundé a droit
Qe de tous ordres un point estroit;
N’i ad ordre en cest mound
Dont si n’i ad ascun point.
Le noun de l’ordre vous vueil dyre
Qe um ne me pust blamer de lire —
Qy oyr velt, si se teyse! —
C’est le Ordre de Bel Eyse.
   De l’ordre vous dirroi la sonme,
Quar en l’ordre est meint prodhonme
E meinte bele e bone dame.
En cel ordre sunt, sanz blame,
Esquiers, vadletz, e serjauntz,
Mes a ribaldz e a pesauntz
Est l’ordre del tot defendu.
Qe ja nul ne soit resçu,
Quar il frount a l’ordre hounte.
Quant rybaud ou vyleyn mounte
En hautesse ou baylie,
La ou il puet aver mestrie,
N’i ad plus de mesure en eux
Qe al le luop qe devoure aigneux.
De cele gent lerroi ataunt,
E de le ordre dirroi avaunt.
   En cel ordre dount je vous dy,
Est primes issi estably
Que ceux qe a l’ordre serrount.
De Sympringham averount
Un point qe bien pleysant serra.
Come l’abbeie de Sympringham a
Freres e sueres ensemble,
C’est bon ordre, come me semble.
Mes de tant ert changié, pur veyr,
Q’a Sympringham doit aver
Entre les freres e les sorours
(Qe desplest a plusours)
Fossés e murs de haute teyse.
Mes en cet Ordre de Bel Eyse
Ne doit fossé ne mur aver,
Ne nul autre destourber
Qe les freres, a lur pleysyr,
Ne pussent a lor sueres venyr,
E qu’il n’eit point de chalaunge.
Ja n’i avera ne lyn ne launge
Entre eux, e si le peil y a,
Ja pur ce ne remeindra.
De yleoque, est ensi purveu
Qe cil q’a l’ordre serrount rendu
De l’abbé deyvent bien estre,
E ce comaund nostre mestre:
Pur bien manger e a talent
Treis foiz le jour e plus sovent.
E s’il le fount pur compagnye,
Le ordre pur ce ne remeindra mie.
   De Beverleye ont un point treit
Qe serra tenu bien e dreit:
Pur beyvre bien a mangier,
E pus aprés desqu’a soper;
E aprés, al collacioun,
Deit chescun aver un copoun
De chandelle long desqu’al coute,
E tant come remeindra goute
De la chandeille a arder,
Deivent les freres a beyvre ser!
   Un point unt tret de Hospitlers,
Qe sunt molt corteis chevalers
E ount robes bien avenauntz
Longes desqu’al pié traynantz,
Soudlers e chausés bien seantz,
E gros palefrois, bien amblantz.
Si deyvent, en nostre ordre, aver
Les freres e sueres, pur veyr.
   De chanoynes ont un point pris
Qu’en l’ordre ert bien assis:
Quar chanoygnes pur grant peyne
Mangent, en la symeygne,
Char en le refreitour treis jours.
Auxi, deyvent nos sorours
E nos freres chescun jour
Char mangier en refreitour,
Fors le vendredi soulement
E le samadi ensement.
E si issint avenist
Q’al samadi hoste fust
E l’em ne ust plenté de pesshon,
L’estor qe fust en la mesoun
Purreint il par congié prendre.
Ja l’ordre ne serra le meindre.
   Un point ont tret de moyne neirs,
Que volenters beyvent, pur veyrs,
E sount cheschun jour yvre,
Quar ne sevent autre vivre,
Mes il le fount pur compagnie
E ne mie pur glotonie.
Auxi, est il purveu
Que chescun frere soit enbu
De jour en jour, tot adés,
Devant manger e aprés.
E si il avenist ensi
Qe a frere venist amy
(Dount se deyvent ensorter
Pur les freres solacer)
Qui savera bien juer le seyr —
Ce vous di je, de veir:
Yl dormira grant matinee,
Desque la male fumee
Seit de la teste issue,
Pur grant peril de la vewe.
   Des chanoynes seculers,
Qe dames servent volenters,
Ont nos mestres un point treit,
E vueillent qe cel point seit
Bien tenuz e bien useez,
Quar c’est le point — bien sachez —
Que pluz ad en l’ordre mester.
Pur les sueres solacer,
Si est sur eschumygement,
Comaundé molt estroitement,
Que chescun frere a sa sorour
Deit fere le giw d’amour
Devant matines adescement,
E aprés matines ensement.
E s’il le fet, avant son departyr,
Troiz foiz a soun pleysyr,
Ja le frere blame ne avera,
Ne le ordre enpeyré serra.
   Gris moignes sunt dure gent,
E de lur ordre, nequedent,
Vueillent nos mestres, pur grever
L’ordre, un des lur poyntz aver,
E si n’est geres corteis,
Quar a matines vont sanz breys!
Auxi deyvent nos freres fere,
Pur estre prest a lur affere.
E quant il fount nul oreysoun,
Si deyvent estre a genulloun,
Pur aver greindre devocioun
A fere lur execucioun,
E ov un seyn sonnent, santz plus:
C’est lur ordre e lur us.
Mes nos freres, pur doubler,
Ov deus seynz deyvent soner.
De taunt est nostre ordre dyvers
Qe nos sueres deyvent envers
Gysyr, e orer countre mount;
Par grant devocioun le fount.
Issi pernent en pacience
Cest point de l’ordre de cilence.
   Charthous est bon ordre, sanz faile;
N’est nul des autres qe taunt vayle.
Pur ce, vueillent ascun point trere
De cel ordre a nostre affere.
Chescun est en sa celle enclos
Pur estre soul en repos.
Auxi deyvent nos freres estre:
Si doit chescun, a sa fenestre,
De l’herber aver pur solas,
E la suere entre ces bras,
E estre enclos privément
Pur survenue de la gent.
   Ne devomz pas entreoblier,
Si nostre ordre deit durer,
Les frere menours, a nul fuer,
Qe Dieu servent de bon cuer.
Si devomz ascun point aver
De lur ordre pur mieux valer.
Lur ordre est fondé en poverté,
Pur quei yl vont la voie apierté
En ciel, tot plenerement.
Si vous dirroi bien coment
Yl querent poverté totdis:
Quaunt il vont par le pays,
Al chief baroun ou chivaler,
Se lerrount il herberger
Ou a chief persone ou prestre,
La ou il purrount a eese estre,
Mes, par seint Piere de Roume,
Ne se herbigerount ov povre honme!
Taunt come plus riches serrount,
Ostiel plustost demanderount.
Ne ne deyvent nos freres fere
Ostiel en autre lyu quere
Fors la ou il sevent plenté.
E la deyvent en charité,
Char mangier e ce qu’il ount,
Auxi come les menours fount.
   Pus qe avomz des menours,
Auxi averomz des prechours.
Ne vont come les autres nuyz peez;
Eynz, vont precher tot chauceez,
E s’il avient ascune feez
Qu’il seient malades as piés,
Yl purrount, s’il ount talent,
Chevalcher tot plenerement
Tote la jornee entiere.
Mes tot en autre manere
Deyvent nos freres fere
Quant il prechent par la terre,
Car il deyvent, tot, adés,
Totdis, chevalcher loinz e pres,
E quant il fount nul sermoun,
Si deyvent estre dedenz mesoun.
E tote foiz aprés manger
Deyvent il de dreit precher,
Quar meint honme est de tiele manere       
Qu’il ad le cuer pluz dur qe piere,
Mes quant il avera aukes bu
Tost avera le ordre entendu,
E les cuers serront enmoistez,
De plus leger serrount oyez,
Qe a l’ordre se rendrount
Quant le sermon oy averont.
   Ensi est nostre ordre foundé.
E si ount nos freres en pensee
Qe chescun counté doit aver
Un abbé qe eit poer
A receyvre sueres e freres
E fere e tenyr ordres pleneres.
E qe les pointz seient tenuz
Qe nos mestres ount purveuz,
Un provyncial en la terre
Doit aler e enquere
Pur saver qy l’ordre tendra.
E cely qe le enfreindra
Serra privément chastié
E de son mesfet reprové.
E ceux qe serront trovez
Qe l’ordre averount bien usez,
Si deyvent, pur lur humilité,
Estre mis en digneté,
E serrount abbés ou priours
A tenyr l’ordre en honeurs.
(Issi fount les Augustyns
Qe tant sevent de devyns.)
Par tot enquergent pleynement
Qy tienent l’ordre lealment.
E ceux qe l’ordre tendrount
Par tot loé serrount!
   Atant fine nostre ordre,
Q’a touz bonz ordres se acorde,
E c’est l’Ordre de Bel Eyse.
Qe a plusours tro bien pleyse!
   ¶ He who wishes to listen to me
Will be able to hear and learn
The history of a new order
That’s most delightful and fair.
I’ll tell you about it as I learned it
From the brothers of my country.
The order is founded so properly
That from every order it draws a rule;
Nor is there an order in this world
From which it doesn’t take some rule.
I wish to tell you the name of the order
Lest anyone blame me for speaking —
Whoever wishes to hear, now be still! —
It’s the Order of Fair Ease.
   I’ll tell you the substance of the order,
For in the order are many good men
And many fair and good ladies.
In this order are, without reproach,
Squires, pages, and men-at-arms,
But to scoundrels and peasants
The order is strictly forbidden.
May none ever be received in it,
For they’d bring shame to the order.
When a scoundrel or a peasant rises
To high rank or authority,
To where he can have mastery,
There’s no more moderation in them
Than in the wolf who devours lambs.
Of such people I’ve said enough.
And I’ll now speak further of the order.
   In this order of which I tell you,
It was first established
That those who shall be in the order
Will have from Sempringham
One rule that’s most pleasing.
Since Sempringham Abbey allows
Brothers and sisters to be together,
It’s a good order, it seems to me.
But so shall it be changed, in truth,
Since at Sempringham there must be
Between the brothers and sisters
(Which displeases many of them)
Ditches and walls standing high.
But in this Order of Fair Ease
There shall be no ditch or wall,
Nor anything else to prevent
The brothers, as they like,
From coming to the sisters,
Nor shall there be any rule against it.
Never shall there be linen or wool
Between them, and if there’s skin,
Never shall one be hindered by that.
From there, it’s also provided
That those given to the order
Shall be well received by the abbot,
And this our master commands:
To eat well and freely
Three times a day and more often.
And if they do it for good company,
The order shall never be the less for that.
   From Beverley they’ve drawn one rule
That shall be held strictly and precisely:
To drink heartily at dinner,
And then afterwards till supper;
And afterwards, at the collation,
Each shall have a piece
Of candle the length of a forearm,
And as long as there remains a drop
Of the candle to burn,
The brothers shall be set to drink!
   One rule they’ve drawn from the Hospitallers,
Who are most courteous knights
And have very comely robes
Trailing down to their feet,
Stylish shoes and boots,
And large palfreys, nicely ambling.
In our order, so also shall receive
The brothers and sisters, in truth.
   From the Canons they’ve taken one rule
That shall be well established in the order:
For the Canons in strict penance
Eat, during the week,
Meat in the refectory three days.
Likewise, shall our sisters
And our brothers every day
Eat meat in the refectory,
Except only Friday
And also Saturday.
And if it should happen
That there’s a guest on Saturday
And sufficient fish is not available,
The provisions in the house
Shall with permission be used.
The order won’t be any the less for it.
   One rule they’ve drawn from the Black Monks,
Who gladly drink, in truth,
And are drunk every day,
For they don’t know any other life,
But they do it for good company
And not at all for gluttony.
Likewise, it’s planned
That every brother shall be inebriated
Day to day, continuously,
Before eating and afterwards.
And if it should so happen
(As will occur
For the brothers’ pleasure)
That a brother should be visited by a friend
Who well knows how to spend the evening —
I say this to you, in truth:
He [the brother] shall sleep late in the morning,
Until the bad stupor
Is gone from his head,
Endangering his eyesight.
   From the secular canons,
Who gladly serve ladies,
Our masters have drawn one rule,
And wish that this rule be
Well maintained and well employed,
For it’s the rule — know it well —
That has most authority in the order.
So as to entertain the sisters,
Thus is it ordered very strictly,
On pain of excommunication,
That each brother with his sister
Shall play the game of love
Before matins continuously,
And after matins as well.
And if, before leaving, he does it
Three times for her pleasure,
The brother shall never be reproached,
Nor will the order be impaired.
   The Gray Monks are strict men,
And from their order, nonetheless,
Our masters wish, in order to add weight
To the order, to take one of their rules,
And it’s hardly a courtly one,
For at matins they go without breeches!
Our brothers shall do likewise,
To be ready for their office.
And when they say any prayer,
Then they must be on their knees,
In order to have greater devotion
To perform their work,
And they ring with one bell, no more:
That’s their rule and their custom.
But our brothers, to give double measure,
With two bells shall ring.
Thus is our order so distinctive
That our sisters shall on their backs
Lie down, and pray facing upwards;
Out of great devotion they do it.
Thus they take in patience
This rule of the silent order.
   The Carthusians are a good order, without doubt;     
Among the others there’s none so worthy.
Because of this, they wish to draw some rule
From this order for our office.
Each one is shut in his cell
So as to be alone at rest.
Our brothers shall be likewise:
Thus each one shall, at his window,
Have some plants for comfort,
And his sister in his arms,
And be shut up privately
Lest people interrupt them.
   We must not forget,
If our order is to continue,
The Friars Minor, at any rate,
Who serve God with good will.
Thus we shall have some rule
From their order so as to be the more worthy.
Their order is founded on poverty,
By which they take the open path
To heaven, full plainly.
And I’ll tell you how
They seek after poverty every day:
When they go through the country,
They allow themselves to lodge
With a powerful baron or knight,
Or with a prominent parson or priest,
Where they can be made comfortable,
But, by Saint Peter of Rome,
They’ll not lodge with a poor man!
So long as there are richer men,
The more readily will they ask for lodging.
Likewise our brothers shall not try
To seek out lodging in any place other
Than where they know there’s affluence.
And there they shall, in charity,
Eat meat and whatever they have,
Just as the Minors do.
   Since we’ve borrowed from the Minors,
Likewise we’ll borrow from the Preachers.
They don’t go barefoot like the others;
Instead, they go properly shod,
And if it should happen at any time
That they have sore feet,
They may, if they desire,
Ride freely on horseback
All the long day.
But in an entirely different way
Shall our brothers act
When they preach across the land,
For they shall, absolutely, all the time,
Every day, ride far and near on horseback,
And when they deliver any sermon,
They shall be in a house.
And always after dinner
They shall preach of goodness,
For many a man is of such character
That he’s got a heart harder than stone,
But once he’s drunk a little
He’ll readily listen to the order,
And their hearts will be moist,
However inattentively they’ve listened,
So that they’ll confess to the order
When they’ve heard the sermon.
   Thus is our order founded.
And so our brothers have in mind
That each shire shall have
An abbot who holds the power
To receive sisters and brothers
And make and keep sumptuous orders.
And so that the rules may be kept
As our masters have planned,
An officer throughout the land
Must go and inquire
To find out who’s adhered to the order.
And the one who violates it
Shall be chastised privately
And chided for his misconduct.
And those who shall be found
To have well observed the order,
Thus shall, for their humility,
Be placed in positions of authority,
And they shall be abbots and priors
To maintain the order in its honors.
(Just so behave the Augustinians,
Who know so much of divine things.)
They [shall] make full inquiry everywhere
About who holds faithfully to the order,
And those who adhere to the order
Shall be praised by everyone!
   Now ends our order,
Which accords with all good orders,
And it is the Order of Fair Ease.
May it be very pleasing to many!














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