The Tournament of Tottenham


1 Lines 1-2: It is in our nature to talk about all these bold victors, / About many fighters we find amazing things

2 And they had to calculate their share and settle their accounts

3 Who would be delayed any longer over this bickering

4 There was many a bold lad willing to take his chances

5 [To protect them] against the battering of clubs

6 They sewed themselves in sheepskins so as to protect their bodies from injuries

7 Lines 85-86: With the sign of the Holy Cross especially engraved in it; / Money was no object there

8 Lines 93-94: Let each man keep out of my way, / For whoever he may be that I find before me

9 In each place where they see me they will be filled with fear of me

10 You never saw a young man willing to risk more

11 While I still dispose of my mare you will not get her in that way

12 There is no horse within a mile's distance that will go before her (i.e., will outdo her)

13 ". . . you speak of cold roast (perhaps: you are counting your chickens before they are hatched)"

14 And fought amazingly eagerly until their horses sweated

15 Due to the striking with the swipples (i.e., the loose end of the flail that is used in thrashing)

16 Lines 187-89: Rather than a stone (fourteen pounds) of cheese I would have it / That dear Tybbe had all these, / And knew they were sent by me

17 Lines 201-02: With the light of wisps [of straw] and dried hemlock and rushes, / To fetch home their husbands who were bound to them by their marriage vows


ABBREVIATIONS: C = Cambridge, Cambridge University Library MS Ff.5.4.8; E = Cambridge (MA), Harvard University Library, MS English 590F; FH = French and Hale edition, in Middle English Metrical Romances (1964); G = Garbáty edition, in Medieval English Literature (1984); H = London, British Library, MS Harley 5396; S = Sands edition, in Middle English Verse Romances (1966).

1-9 See G. Wright ("Parody, Satire, and Genre," pp. 158-59) on the poem's mock-literature evocation of a heroic past, subversion by alliterative dignification, the use of literary formulas (in story as we rede - line 5) and the potent list of heroes (Hawkyn, Herry, Tomkyn, Terry, and other such that were dughty - line 8). The deployment of such "purely poetic" devices and words like "freke" (line 155) and "frekis" (line 164) "in a narrative involving squabbling peasants is palpably parodic" (p. 158). One might add that the parody is designed for the eye and ear of each audience steeped in literary tradition that is experienced in performative situations - recitations, whether dramatized with a cast of performers or simply by the voice of a good raconteur.

10 on a dere day. French and Hale and Sands gloss as "memorable day," though W. Cooke ("Tournament of Tottenham" [1988], p. 114) suggests "a day of harm" as apt as well. N.b. MED dere adj. [2].

13 At the time Tottenham, Hyssylton (Islington), Hygatte (Highgate), and Hakenay (Hackney) were all little villages north of London.

14 swete swynkers. French and Hale gloss swete as "blessed"; Sands reads "dear." I have followed W. Cooke's suggestion of "either 'delightful' (OED 'Sweet' a.5c) or 'fragrant' (ibid. 2) used ironically. The word may . . . be modern sweaty" ("Tournament of Tottenham" [1988], p. 114).

19 evynsong. Evening prayers, the sixth of the seven hours for prayer in a day, and usually indicative of the time around sunset.

22 Rondol tho refe. Whether the reeve here is the foreman of a manor or the sheriff of the shire, he was, as Garbáty remarks, "a person of prestige." Harris places the poem within a more historical context, arguing that the tournament is a travesty modeled on a behourde, a small-scale, informal contest that was a customary practice at upper-class weddings, à plaisance where blunted arms were replaced by cudgels. Randall the Reeve, father of Tyb, as "the manager of a landholder, or possibly a sheriff . . . stands in for an organizing and sponsoring lord, perhaps even for the king, who alone had the right in England to call for a full-scale tourney" ("Tournaments," p. 83).

25 bachelery. French and Hale gloss the term to mean "group of young men." But see W. Cooke who would have something more specific: "In the poet's time the word probably meant 'youth of the knightly class' and he has applied it ironically to the competitors for Tyb's hand; they are bachelery only inasmuch as they are a body of bachelors in the usual modern sense of the word, but for the collective norm that seems to have been a nonce sense in the poet's time" ("Tournament of Tottenham" [1988], pp. 114-15). Harris supports Cooke's proposition that bachelors "satirically means 'knights in training'" ("Tournaments," p. 83).

28 gadelyngys. French and Hale gloss "rogues"; Perry "idle fellows." I follow Sands and Garbáty, mindful of Harris' caveat that the term implies "base-born" ("Tournaments," p. 83).

32 catell. In ME this can mean both "cattle" and "chattel, goods." Here it no doubt is the former, but in line 52 it is the latter. The point introduced by the "gadelyngys" (line 28) suggests issues of economic class early on. Harris points out that "Randall tells these less-than-noble contestants that he who fights best will win, but it is interesting not that Perkin wins Tib but that he does so by simply outlasting everyone else, a common feature of the early melée - and one still continued in the behourdes, if not in the more formal jousts" ("Tournaments," p. 83).

35 If that. That is here no more than a meaningless particle; it is often added to conjunctions, as in the famous opening line of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales: "Whan that April with its shoures soote" (When April . . . ).

53 He schal have my gray mare. Harris notes that tournaments demand horses, many of which were, in fact, borrowed or rented. But "no one would have gone into battle on a mare . . . and no contestant in the poem seems to ride anything else. Perkin and Hud want to capture horses and give them to Tib, perhaps a glancing reference at one of the main ways of enriching oneself in a tourney: capture the horses" ("Tournaments," p. 86).

62 blake bollys. Black bowls in place of tournament helmets is clearly comical, but Harris points out that "the evolution of helmets . . . offers some grounding in reality, at the end of the fourteenth century. The great helm was replaced by the frog-mouthed helm which does resemble a bowl far more than the heavy visored jousting helmets" ("Tournaments," p. 84). See also Jones ("Tournaments," p. 1125) on the use of bowls as helmets in peasant tournaments.

64 brest. The basic idea of bursting is that of a rupture caused by an inward force, whereas one should here rather think of injuries caused by the assaults of the opponents.

65 crest. The crest is the device mounted on the helmet.

66 harow . . . fanne. A notorious crux. According to the MED a fanne is, in the first place, a winnowing basket or shovel, in the second "a wicker shield used in mock jousts or in the training of novices" (this is also the meaning of the word in line 164). One of the quotations given is enlightening regarding the text of line 66: "ʒonge kniʒtes . . . ffirst . . . schuld haue a schelde made of twigges, somwhat rounde in manere of a gredire, þe which is clepid a vanne." The gredire is, again according to the MED, beside a "gridiron," "a grating, a lattice of metal or wood," a description that comes very close to what a harrow looks like. With this information it is now possible to try to give some sense to the line. Since the scribes of H and C apparently did not fully understand the original text, the result was very different but incorrect in either case. The literal translation of H is: "A harrow as broad as a wicker shield above their chest," whereas it probably should have been: "A wicker shield as broad as a harrow/looking like a harrow before their chest." In the case of C the scribe understood that the text contained a word for basket, but did not know what was meant by it, and so he gave us two synonyms: "A basket or a panier. . ." As Jones notes ("Tournaments," p. 1138), harow is not "arrow" (FH and S), but rather "harrow," in the sense of "frame": MED harwe 2[a] and [c] (W. Cooke,"Tournament of Tottenham" [1988], p. 115).

68 gone. Gone or gan (line 145) and con or can (line 210) are often no more than meaningless auxiliaries indicating that the main verb is in the past tense.

72 Men were not supposed to ride mares, least of all in battle.

85 The double use of the stopgap for tho nonys in lines 82 and 85 is remarkable, as even the weaker poets would not easily stoop so low. But it occurs in these lines in all three MSS, and is therefore probably original.

89 faucon fare. Herry's vow to "not lefe behende" (line 91) initiates the competitive boasting among the bachelery and also refers to the fart of Gyb's horse in line 89 - perhaps Herry has a phobia similar to Absolom's in Chaucer's Miller's Tale.

91-144 See G. Wright on the motif of ritual boasting, which "consumes almost a quarter of the poem" ("Parody, Satire, and Genre," p. 160). Certainly the effect is satiric and parodic, as Wright points out, but perhaps the most useful approach is "the aspect of play in this contrivance [which] is unmistakable as is its inspirations" (p. 161). The playfulness of the poem - its performative play - is what keeps the poem so lively, rather than any particular literary mode or social commentary. We are dealing with a "theme"- tournament as entertainment, rather than real tournaments or peasants or the marketing of hens, horses, and women. Wright cites Joseph Danes on "reductivism as a cardinal virtue" in streamlining the entertainment effect of the kinds of "genuine collaboration between romance and social phenomenon" in its comic flattening through the opposing concepts of satire and parody (p. 165).

92 Bayard is the strongest and most colossal horse in the romance tradition, but is equally well known from popular tales (in which his blindness is much more significant). He belonged to Renaud of Montauban, one of the four sons of Aymon, who all rebelled against Charlemagne. The four brothers could ride the horse together. Caxton printed his translation of the Old French text c. 1489. The reference to Bernard is odd, not only in the context of Bayard (none of the brothers is called that), but because it is not associated with romance heroes in general.

93 Ich man kepe hym out of my wynde. French and Hale gloss wynde as "course," cognate with modern Scots wynd, "lane." But W. Cooke notes that that sense derives from OE gewind, "winding way" while the word here is OED wind 5b14 "notice" or"ken," with a pun intended by the poet on the sense"scent" (Cooke, "Tournament of Tottenham" [1988], p. 115).

104 Myn armes ar so clere. The arms that are so bright and shining could be Hud's weapons or his coat of arms. If the former, then the brightness of the weapons causes the fear mentioned in line 103 but at the same time the description of the coat of arms in lines 105-08 comes a bit suddenly. If the radiance refers to the coat of arms, then these display an uncommon feature. French and Hale gloss "shining," an allusion to the "light-giving power of the arms of heroes"; Sands glosses as "clear." I have followed W. Cooke: "it is evident that Hud's armes are his mock-heraldic devices, not his weapons, and clere means 'illustrious' as in William of Palerne 2037 or the Wars of Alexander 2692. This, of course, is more irony: for when described, Hud's devices turn out to be the tools of his lowly trade" ("Tournament of Tottenham" [1988], p. 115).

105 reddyl. Both the MED and the English Dialect Dictionary give "sieve" as the only meaning for this word. French and Hale gloss as a "gardener's hedging-stick," for which, however, there is no ground in the dictionaries. W. Cooke ("Tournament of Tottenham" [1988], p. 115) rejects Sand's gloss "seive" [sic] to suggest that "more likely it is 'raddle' meaning 'wattle' or 'lath.'" But this sense does not fit the context either, in which the word "sieve," because of its shape, can more easily be associated with the harrow and the fan of line 66.

106 Poudred. If the shield of a coat of arms is "powdered" with an object, e.g., a cross, this means that a number of fairly small crosses are distributed evenly over it (hence heraldically speaking the singular here is impossible). The really important figures, the so-called charges (here the sieve and the rake), are laid over the field and may partly or in whole cover the powdered objects; compare Squire of Low Degree, line 209 and note. Because these powdered objects can only be depicted fairly small the application of a complex figure like a fire-breathing dragon supports the impression of a parody.

114-17 These lines in H only; C and E have a description of another coat of arms:
I ber a pilch of ermyn
Poudert with a catt-skyn;
The chefe is of pechmyn
That stondis on the creste.   
fur (coat); ermine

   chief; [roll of] parchment
The chief is the upper third of the shield, here apparently formed by a roll of parchment. It is rare for the crest to consist of the same object as is depicted on the shield.

119 forther. The -er abbreviation is faded, but, on close examination, clearly reads -er. French and Hale read forþi, but suggest emending the word to forther, where no emendation is necessary. W. Cooke reads forþi, which, he says, "yields excellent sense"; as he puts it: "Terry says 'You never saw [a sensible] young boy risk his body for this,' and proceeds to boast that while others are busy flailing each other, he will steal Tyb anyway. This he later tries to do" ("Tournament of Tottenham" [1988], p. 115).

hys body bede. bede is OE bēodan, "offer," hence "offer to risk," not French and Hale's "undertake." "This is one more mock-heroic touch, since real knights were said to hazard or adventure their bodies when they gave or accepted challenges" (W. Cooke, "Tournament of Tottenham" [1988], p. 115).

123 wele. Lit., "well"; a typical stopgap, without much meaning but providing a rhyme.

128 In this line hur still refers to Tybbe, but in the next the references shift to Dudman's mare - a telling mistake.

134 Fro Hyssylton to Hakenay. The distance between the two places was about three miles (G).

145 gan. See the note to line 68.

151 The chevron is a broad band like an upside-down V with the point touching the top line of the shield in the middle. The mallet had a similar shape.

153 Poudred with mone-lyght. Another heraldic oddity. French and Hale suggest that it may mean that "moons [are] sprinkled over the field," which at least makes sense.

163 cart-sadellys. A cart-saddle was a small saddle placed on the horse's back on which the shafts of the cart rested.

164 fannes. It is obvious that the wicker shields used by the combatants (see note to line 66 above) are not of the same quality as a real shield, and do not provide sufficient protection.

174 A hors for forty pens. 40 pence, or 2 shillings, is certainly less than a kingdom, but still a considerable sum, considering who did the bidding. But, from a more established point of view, "The humor arises from the contrast of Perkin's stingy offer of forty pence to his claim that he will spare no expense" (Harris, "Tournaments," p. 86). See line 176: "For no cost wyl I spare." Compare Randall the Reeve's similar boast in line 51, backed up with "notably down-scale prizes: a mare, a sow, and a hen, female animals all" (Harris, "Tournaments," p. 86).

197 The exclamation "Te-he" is not peculiar to this text; it is also used by Alisoun, the carpenter's wife in Chaucer's Miller's Tale, when she closes the window after having been kissed by Absolon: "'Teehee!' quod she, and clapte the wyndow to" (CT I[A]3740).

202 trouth-plyght. I have read trouth-plyght here to mean "married," though W. Cooke notes that it could mean "engaged" or "promised," and that husbandes is used loosely for "intended husbands." "The poet designed the spectacle of the peasant champions being trundled off by the girls they had jilted to go after Tyb as an ironic contrast to the ideals of the chivalric romance, in which the knight is true to his first love despite all temptations and rescues her from distress, not the other way round" ("Tournament of Tottenham" [1988], p. 116).

212 C and E read: "And to chirch they went," followed by the announcement that "he shall wedde" Tybbe, making clear that the real wedding ought to take place in church and not in bed. Still, a marriage that had been consummated with mutual consent of the partners (as is the case in H) was valid if not licit.

227 cokenay. MED suggests "bad egg"; OED offers "small egg." But see W. Cooke ("Tournament of Tottenham" [1988], p. 116), who suggests that "cokenay means 'cock's egg,' alluding to a popular belief that unusually small or misshapen eggs were laid by cocks." He goes on to note that the term meaning "'small or misshapen egg' was applied to men thought to have small or misshapen testes and hence to any man thought to lack virility" (See Promptorium Parvulorum and Catholicon Anglicum). See also The Reeve's Tale (CT I[A]4208).


ABBREVIATIONS: See Explanatory Notes.

In H certain letters occasionally cause confusion, either because they were apparently not very distinctive in H's exemplar and thus were copied wrongly, or because they are not always easily distinguishable in H itself. These letters are: v/b, s/f, c/t, and a/o/e.

Title Turnament of totenham. H; no title in C, E. The third line, functioning as a kind of title but split up into separate words and syllables, has been written at the top of the pages containing the poem, fols. 306v-309r, and 310r: "The / Ture / Mente / Of / tot / Ney haue We // Yn mynde".

8 dughty. H: dughyt.

11 tho. The usual form for "the" in H.

14 swynkers. H: swynke, with rs lost due to cropping of the MS.

16 daunsed. H: dabnsed for regular davnsed.

21 press. H: prest.

23 dere. So C; H has re written over vell, changing devell to dere.

31 then. H: the.

34 redy in my ryght. H: in my struck through before redy.

36 ellis. H: ell.

38 taryed. H: atryed.

39 H: I wold not that my doghter that scho were myscaryed. Either the first that or the subsequent that scho is superfluous. C and E leave out the first that, and I have followed that emendation.

40 But. H: Vut.

48 dughtyness. C, E; H: dughty; the adjectival form in H rarely occurs as a noun.

52 For no. H: ffor no, with or scribbled in later.

62 bollys. H: bellys.

65 Ilkon. H: ikkon.

67 fyght. H: syght.

74 company. H: cmpany.

76 federys. C: senvye; E: senby, "mustard." H reads fedys, with an abbreviatory sign for er/re added after the d in a slightly darker ink, resulting in federys. If, however, one takes into account the potential f/s confusion and assumes that the abbreviation is a later addition, H may just as well read, or have intended to read, sedys, "seeds" (FH, S). Since senvy sedis often occurs as a collocation, this is what the original text may have had, from which H and C made their own independent and deviant versions.

77 gap. H: cap.

89 That. H: þe, no doubt due to the similarity of the abbreviations for the two words.

91 vowe. H: wowe.

95 schul. H: schu.

99 I schal. C, E; omitted by H.

107 cantells. H: cantell.

109 yf I. FH; H: yf he. In C and E the first two lines of the stanza are completely different and moreover ascribe the vow to Dudman. Since in these MSS Dudman swears another oath in 127 ff., the reading of H is more likely to be correct.

110 felde. H: felte. The grammar of lines 110-12 is shaky. It could be improved by switching lines 110 and 111 around.

112 se of. H: so af.

125 sadyll. H: fadyll.

128 ys. has has been written over ys struck out.

swa. H: sws.

131 begyle. H: be g (the rest of the word is lost due to cropping).

133 somerys. H: sonerys.

134 to. H: ha struck out before to.

136 Perkyn. H: Perkny.

137 wyselyer. H: swyselyer.

144 With jo for to gybbe. H: with jo forth gybbe; C: joe forth tibbe; E: ioo forth tibbe. Since none of these readings makes any sense some emendation is called for. One possibility is that jo is an error for original ʒo, "you"; it makes an acceptable reading but a mix-up of the letters j and ʒ is rare. Considering that the dialect of the text is northern, jo may perhaps be taken as the Scottish word for "joy, pleasure" (from Old French joie). The two words forth and gybbe could together make up the verb "forthgibe," but a spelling error seems more likely, with forto resulting in forth. The form tibbe in C and E was probably repeated from line 140.

145 made (H: omitted) and gan (H: an) have been supplied from C and E.

hye. H; C and E have te, "draw, go," which fits the rhyme, unlike hye.

148 in. H: i.

150 raton fell. H, C; FH and S prefer E: rotten fell, but even if a rat skin is rather small for a banner, and a rotten hide may therefore seem to provide the better reading, the testimony of the two oldest MSS should not be too easily discarded.

155 tho. H: Ju (for þo); C, E: þe.

felay. H; C, E: fel(l)ow.

bet. H: be; C: bette; E: bet.

156 on. H: o.

158 wordys spoken. So H; C: wordis were spokyn; E: words were spoken.

159-61 The rhyme words in C are: to-flaterde, to-claterde, to-baterde; in E the first is to-slattered, the other two are the same as in C.

166 yll ware they be-seyn. H: yll ware I be sayn, C, E: euel were they be sene. H is practically illegible here.

169 oloft. H: olsst (with a round, sigma-like s followed by a tall s).

172 loute. H: louter.

173 I am. H: and, following I, struck out.

rowte. H: rowet.

192 thaim. H: þan, with a nasal stroke over the n, showing the scribe may mistakenly have read þann[e] for þaim.

199 Thus. H: þys.

209 the gre. Omitted H.

pride. H: pide.

210 myrthe. H: mothe; C, E: myrth.

215 pryse. FH; H: prayse (C, E: chefe).

hur: H: hirr.

216 tornament. H: tonament.

219 hys. Since sum implies a plural one would expect hyr (their) instead of hys, but all three MSS agree on the latter.

sum two at onys. C, E. H has sum (twa, struck out) þe schulder-bonys, which in C and E is the second half of the next line. An inexplicable mistake: one could imagine that the copyist's eye had jumped to the wrong sum phrase, but the writing and subsequent deletion of twa is incompatible with such an explanation.

221 thedyr. H: þedy, r lost due to cropping of the MS.

225 togedyr. H: togedy, with r trimmed away.

Here, at the end of fol. 309r, the text is interrupted for two-and-a-half pages of accounts; in the same hand, and without so much as a line of white, the poem is completed on fol. 310r.

231 every. H: euer.
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The Tournament of Tottenham















































Of all thes kene conquerours to carpe it were kynde,
Of fele feghtyng folk ferly we fynde,1
The turnament of Totenham have we in mynde.
It were harme sych hardynes were holden byhynde,
    In story as we rede,
Of Hawkyn, of Herry,
Of Tomkyn, of Terry,
Of them that were dughty
    And stalworth in dede.

It befel in Totenham on a dere day
Ther was mad a schartyng be tho hy-way.
Theder com al the men of tho contray,
Of Hyssylton, of Hygatte, and of Hakenay,
    And all the swete swynkers.
Ther hepped Hawkyn,
Ther daunsed Dawkyn,
Ther trumped Tomkyn -
    And all were trewe drynkers -

Tyl the day was gon and evynsong past
That thay schuld rekyn ther scot and ther contes cast.2
Perkyn tho potter into tho press past,
And sayd: "Rondol tho refe, a doghter thu hast,
    Tyb the dere.
Therfor wyt wold I
Whych of all thys bachelery
Were best worthy
    To wed hur to hys fere."

Up styrt thos gadelyngys with ther long staves,
And sayd: "Rondol tho refe, lo, thos lad raves!
Baldely amang us thy doghter he craves,
And we er rycher men then he and more god haves
    Of catell and corn."
Then sayd Perkyn to Tybbe: "I have hyght
That I schal be alway redy in my ryght,
If that it schuld be thys day sevenyght,
    Or ellis yet to-morn."

Then sayd Randolfe the refe: "Ever be he waryed
That about thys carpyng lenger wold be taryed!3
I wold not my doghter that scho were myscaryed,
But at hur most worschyp I wold scho were maryed.
    Therfor a turnament schal begyn
Thys day sevenyght,
With a flayl for to fyght.
And that ys of most myght
    Schall brouke hur with wynne.

Whoso berys hym best in the turnament,
Hym schull be granted the gre be the comon assent,
For to wynne my doghter with dughtyness of dent,
And Coppeld, my brode henne, was broght out of Kent,
    And my donnyd kowe.
For no spens wyl I spare,
For no catell wyl I care:
He schal have my gray mare
    And my spottyd sowe."

Ther was many bold lad ther bodyes to bede.4
Than thay toke thayr leve and homward thay yede,
And all the woke afterward thay graythed ther wede,
Tyll it come to the day that thay suld do ther dede.
    Thay armed ham in mattes,
Thay set on ther nollys
(For to kepe ther pollys)
Gode blake bollys,
    For batryng of battes.5

Thay sowed tham in schepe-skynnes for thay suld not brest; 6
Ilkon toke a blak hat insted of a crest,
A harow brod as a fanne aboune on ther brest,
And a flayle in ther hande for to fyght prest;
    Furth gone thay fare,
Ther was kyd mekyl fors
Who schuld best fond hys cors.
He that had no gode hors
    He gat hym a mare.

Sych another gadryng have I not sene oft!
When all the gret company com rydand to the croft
Tyb on a gray mare was set upon loft,
On a sek ful of federys for scho schuld syt soft,
    And led hur to tho gap.
For cryeng of al the men
Forther wold not Tyb then,
Tyl scho had hur gode brode-hen
    Set in hur lap.

A gay gyrdyl Tyb had on, borwed for the nonys,
And a garland on hur hed, ful of rounde bonys,
And a broche on hur brest, ful of safer stonys,
With tho haly rode tokenyng was wretyn for tho nonys;
    No catel was ther spared.7
When joly Gyb saw hur thare,
He gyrd so hys gray mere
That sche lete a faucon fare
    At the rereward.

"I vowe to God," quod Herry, "I schal not lefe behende!
May I mete with Bernard on Bayard tho blynde
Ich man kepe hym out of my wynde,
For what-so-ever that he be befor me I fynde,8
    I wot I schul hym greve."
"Wele sayd," quod Hawkyn,
"And I avow," quod Dawkyn,
"May I mete with Tomkyn
    Hys flayl I schal hym refe."

"I vow to God," quod Hud, "Tyb, sone schal thu se
Whych of all this bachelery grant is tho gre.
I schal scomfet thaym all for tho love of thee,
In what place so I come thay schul have dout of me!
    Myn armes ar so clere:
I bere a reddyl and a rake,
Poudred with a brenand drake,
And thre cantells of a cake
    In ych a cornare."

"I vow to God," quod Hawkyn, "yf I have the gowt,
Al that I fynde in tho felde presand here aboute,
Have I twyes or thryes redyn thurgh the route,
In ych a stede ther thay me se of me thay schal have doute9
    When I begyn to play.
I make a vow that I ne schall
(But yf Tybbe wyl me call
Or I be thryes doun fall)
    Ryght onys com away."

Then sayd Terry and swore be hys crede:
"Saw thu never yong boy forther hys body bede!10
For when thay fyght fastest and most ar in drede,
I schal take Tyb by tho hand and hur away lede!
    I am armed at the full;
In myn armys I bere wele
A dogh trogh and a pele,
A sadyll withouten a panell,
    With a fles of woll."

"I vow to God," quod Dudman, and swor be the stra,
"Whyls me ys left my mere thu getis hur not swa;11
For scho ys wele schapen and lyght as the ro,
Ther ys no capul in thys myle befor hur schal go.12
    Sche wil me noght begyle:
She wyl me bere, I dar wele say,
On a lang somerys day,
Fro Hyssylton to Hakenay,
    Noght other half myle."

"I vow to God," quod Perkyn, "thu spekis of cold rost. 13
I schal wyrch wyselyer, withouten any bost:
Fyve of tho best capullys that ar in thys ost,
I wot I schal thaym wynne and bryng thaym to my cost,
    And here I grant tham Tybbe.
Wele, boyes, here ys he
That wyl fyght and not fle,
For I am in my jolyté
    With jo for to gybbe."

When thay had ther vowes made, furth gan they hye,
With flayles and hornes and trumpes mad of tre.
Ther were all the bachelerys of that contré;
Thay were dyght in aray as tham selfe wold be.
    Thayr baners were ful bryght,
Of an old raton fell;
The cheverone of a plow-mell
And tho schadow of a bell,
    Poudred with mone-lyght.

I wot it ys no chyldergame whan thay togedyr met,
When ich a freke in tho feld on hys felay bet,
And layd on styfly, for nothyng wold thay let,
And faght ferly fast tyll ther horses swet, 14
    And fewe wordys spoken.
Ther were flayles al to-slatred,
Ther were scheldys al to-flatred,
Bollys and dysches al to-schatred,
    And many hedys brokyn.

Ther was clynkyng of cart-sadellys and clattiryng of connes;
Of fele frekis in tho feld brokyn were ther fannes.
Of sum were the hedys brokyn, of sum tho brayn panes,
And yll ware they be-seyn or thay went thens
    With swyppyng of swepyllys.15
The boyes were so wery for-fught
That thay myght not fyght mare oloft,
But creped then abaut in the croft,
    As they were croked crepyls.

Perkyn was so wery that he began to loute:
"Help, Hud, I am ded in thys ylk rowte!
A hors for forty pens, a gode and a stoute,
That I may lyghtly come of my noye out,
    For no cost wyl I spare."
He styrt up as a snayle,
And hent a capul be tho tayle,
And raght Dawkyn hys flayle,
    And wan ther a mare.

Perkyn wan fyve and Hud wan twa.
Glad and blythe thay ware that thay had don sa;
Thay wold have tham to Tyb and present hur with tha.
The capull were so wery that thay myght not ga,
    But styl gon thay stand.
"Allas," quod Hudde, "my joye I lese.
Me had lever then a ston of chese
That dere Tyb had al these,
    And wyst it were my sand."16

Perkyn turnyd hym about in that ych thrange;
Among thos wery boyes he wrest and he wrang.
He threw tham doun to tho erth and thrast thaim amang,
When he saw Tyrry away with Tyb fang,
    And after hym ran.
Of hys hors he hym drogh
And gaf hym of hys flayl inogh.
"We te-he!" quod Tyb, and lugh,
     "Ye er a dughty man!"

Thus thay tugged and rugged tyl yt was nere nyght.
All the wyves of Totenham come to se that syght,
With wyspes and kexis and ryschys ther lyght,
To fech hom ther husbandes that were tham trouth-plyght.17
    And sum broght gret harwes
Ther husbandes hom for to fech,
Sum on dores and sum on hech,
Som on hyrdyllys and som on crech,
    And sum on welebaraws.

Thay gaderyd Perkyn about everych syde,
And grant hym ther the gre, the more was hys pride.
Tyb and he with gret myrthe homward con thay ryde,
And were al nyght togedyr tyl the morntyde,
    And thay in fere assent.
So wele hys nedys he has sped
That dere Tyb he had wed.
The pryse folk that hur led
    Were of the tornament.

To that ylk fest com many for the nones;
Some come hyphalt and sum tryppand on the stonys,
Sum a staf in hys hand and sum two at onys,
Of sum were the hedys broken, and sum tho schulder-bonys;
    With sorow com thay thedyr.
Wo was Hawkyn, wo was Herry,
Wo was Tomkyn, wo was Terry,
And so was al the bachelary,
    When thay met togedyr.

At that fest thay were servyd with a ryche aray,
Ever fyve and fyve had a cokenay.
And so thay sat in jolyté al the lang day,
And at the last thay went to bed with ful gret deray.
    Mekyl myrth was them amang,
In every corner of the hous
Was melody delycyous,
For to here precyus,
    Of six menys sang.

(see note)

a pity [if] such; withheld
As we read it in stories

doughty; (t-note)

happened; precious (i.e., memorable); (see note)
entertainment by the; (t-note)
There came; country
(see note)
fragrant (sweaty) workmen; (see note); (t-note)
danced; (t-note)

(see note)

group went; (t-note)
reeve; (see note)
dear; (t-note)
know would
these "knights"; (see note)

To marry her as his mate (i.e., wife)

jumped; fellows; (see note)
Boldly; claims
are; property have; (t-note)
grain; (see note)
always; [to defend] my rights; (t-note)
Whether; a week from today; (see note)
tomorrow; (t-note)

reeve; Forever; cursed
would come to grief; (t-note)
with full honors; (t-note)

to fight with
[he who] is
enjoy; happiness

will; prize by
To have won; hardihood of blows; (t-note)
brood hen, [which] was
dun cow
I will not care about costs; (t-note)
(see note)

week; prepared; apparel
deed (i.e., fighting)
themselves; mats
protect; heads
Good black bowls; (see note); (t-note)

(see note)
Everyone; (see note); (t-note)
on top of the clothing (see note)
ready; (t-note)
Forth they went; (see note)
shown great display of strength
[As to] who; defend; body

got himself; (see note)

Such; gathering
riding; field; (t-note)
on high
sack; feathers; she; (t-note)
[they] led; opening [in a hedge]; (t-note)
Because of [the]
would not [go]
brood hen

girdle; borrowed; occasion
(see note)

set spurs to; mare
fart go; (see note); (t-note)
rear end

said; remain behind; (see note); (t-note)
Should; (see note)
(see note)

know; harm; (t-note)

make a vow

take away from him; (t-note)

soon; see
To whom; granted will be the prize
discomfit them; you
whatever place; fear
illustrious; (see note)
sieve; (see note)
Studded; fire-breathing dragon; (see note)
wedges; (t-note)

even if; gout; (t-note)
rushing; (t-note)
two or three times ridden; throng
not; (see note)
Unless; call back
have fallen down
Not even once withdraw

by his creed
(see note)
hottest; anguish
fully armed
coat of arms; indeed; (see note)
dough trough; baker's shovel
saddlecloth; (t-note)
fleece; wool

(see note); (t-note)
shaped; nimble; roe

not let down; (t-note)
bear; dare
summer's; (t-note)
Islington; Hackney; (see note); (t-note)
[But] not another

act more wisely; boast; (t-note)
horses; host
win; side

I am delighted
pleasure; utter gibes; (t-note)

forth; hurried; (see note); (t-note)
trumpets; wood
young men; area
dressed in clothing of their own choice; (t-note)
rat skin; (t-note)
chevron; plow-mallet; (see note)
Sprinkled; (see note)

child's play
each man; fellow struck; (t-note)
strongly; stop; (t-note)

[were] spoken; (t-note)
entirely split; (t-note)
completely smashed
Bowls; shattered
heads bashed

tinkling; canes; (see note)
many men; winnowing fans; (see note)
they were ill-looking before; away; (t-note)

exhausted by the fighting
fight any more on horseback; (t-note)
crept; field
As if; deformed cripples

slump; (t-note)
this very group; (t-note)
forty pence; (see note)
quickly; trouble

leapt up like
seized a horse
took from

two [horses]
happy; so
take; them
were not able to go
still they stood

turned round; very throng
wrested; twisted
thrust; (t-note)

From; drew
with; plenty
Whee tee-hee; laughed; (see note)
are; doughty

yanked; almost; (t-note)
women; came

(see note)
doors; hatch (lower half of a door)
hurdles; cratch (rack for fodder)

gathered around; [on] every
granted; prize; (t-note)
rode; (t-note)
together; daybreak
agreed with each other; (see note)
he has obtained what he wanted

excellent; accompanied them; (t-note)

limping; tripping over
two together; (t-note)
heads bashed
there; (t-note)

company of "suitors"

Every fifth person had a cock's egg (see note)

song for six voices

Here it ends

Go To The Feast of Tottenham