Item 18, The Knight Who Forgave His Father's Slayer
Item 18, THE KNIGHT WHO FORGAVE HIS FATHER’S SLAYER: EXPLANATORY NOTESTitle No title or incipit. This exemplum is referred to by many different names; the name used here is from the Manual of the Writings in Middle English, chosen for its descriptive accuracy. The text begins one-third down the page of fol. 26v.
1 beyond the se. The Middle English versions in Jacob’s Well and the Alphabet of Tales (the tales of which attribute this story to Caesarius of Heisterbach’s Dialogue on Miracles) locate the events in Germany.
4 slo. The original version in Handlyng Synne has two additional lines here: They mette togedyr, Y ne wote how / Algate the toon the tother to slow. I.e., “They encountered each other, I know not how; / At any rate, the one killed the other” (Manning, Robert of Brunne’s Handlyng Synne, lines 3801–02).
11 The other knyght. This phrasing slightly confuses the protagonists; it is the son who successfully besieges his father’s slayer, as becomes clear in line 38.
25 Barefote to the chyrch thei yede. Rate has anticipated lines 27–34, and mistakenly written he yede (and, in line 26, his mysdede). The reading, clearly defective, has been emended.
81 And clyped the chyld hym betwyx. In some of the surviving treatments of this story, the crucifix speaks to the forgiving knight at this moment; in Mirk’s Festial it proclaims, “I foryeve thee, as thow hast foryeven for me.” (Sermon 29, line 19).
96 The merakyll sprong wele wyde. In the version preserved in the Middle English Alphabet of Tales, the news of this miracle spreads more methodically. After the first miracle of the kissing crucifix, the forgiving knight makes a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem another crucifix bows down to him, and he must explain the miracle to the other worshippers (Banks, p. 337).
113Therfore. Here Rate’s text departs from the original in Handlyng Synne, where the story is followed by a new section on the third deadly sin, envy.
116a AMEN QUOD RATE. A drawing of a grinning fish separates this colophon from the following text.
Item 18, THE KNIGHT WHO FORGAVE HIS FATHER’S SLAYER: TEXTUAL NOTES9 power and myght. MS: power myght.
25 thei. MS: he.
26 there. MS: his.
31 of. MS: on.
45 soferyd. MS: sofeyd.
66 so were all. MS: so were w all.
86 Thei saw. MS: The saw.
105 sygne. MS: syngne.
by: George Shuffelton (Editor)
Bytwyx two knyghtys beyond the se
Fell a gret conteke to be.
Bytwyx them fell syche wreth and wo,
That the one weyted the other to slo.
This sleyne knyght hade a chyld,
A doughty bachyler and wyld.
This chyld toke hym to rede
For to venge his fader dede.
He gate hym grete power and myght
To besege the other knyght.
The other knyght perseyved hym wele,
And droff hym to his best castelle.
Than was he besegyd so streytly
That he durste com out on no party
Of al the twelve moneth, with no deseyte,
So was he beseged streyte.
Messe ne matyns he ne herd,
Ne never to the chirch he ferd.
And it was in the Lentyn tyde,
When men schuld leve wreth and pride.
Than fell it on the God Frydey,
The knyght that in the castell ley
Lukyd out and saw men go
To the chyrche to and fro.
Barefote to the chyrch thei yede
To aske mersy for there mysdede.
The knyght thought, “It is long gone
That Messe at the chirch I herd none.
Whatsoever God for me wyll wyrche,
I wyll ryse and go to the chyrche.”
He drew of his hose and schone,
And dude the gatys be undone.
Barefote he yede, as is the gyse,
To chirch to here Godys servys.
And as he the wey to the chirche name,
His enmy sone agens hym came,
And seyd, “Tratoure, now schall thou dyghe,
And my faders deth full dere abyghe.
No werldys gode thee schall save,
Bot thou thi deth of me schall have.”
The knyght saw non other bote,
Bot fell on kneys before his fote,
And seyd, “Of me thou have mersy,
For hym that lyght in the virgyne Mary
And soferyd deth on the rode tre
This dey, to save both thee and me,
And forgaffe hym that his blod spylte;
Right so thou forgyff me that gylte.
I ame as a prisonere in this place;
I put me now all in thi grace,
That Godys grace be on thee lente
At the dey of jugemente.”
This knyght that was his enmy
Herd hym praye so reufolly,
And seyd, “Seth thou haste me besought
For Jhesu love that dere us bought,
And for his moder love so dere,
For them I grante thee my powere.”
This iche chyld sone doune lyght,
And in gode love kyssed the knyght.
“We be now frendys that are were wrothe;
Go we now to the chyrche bothe,
In gowd love and perfyte charyté,
For his sake that ordeynd thus to be.”
The knyght was glad veraly,
And so were all that compeny,
That he foregyff them this mysdede,
And to the chyrch than both thei yede.
Befor the cros thei knelyd doune,
In the worschyppe of Jhesus Passyon,
For to kysse the crosse that dey,
As custom is in Crysten ley.
The elder knyght for honour
Yede fyrst and kyst hys creatour.
After than yede the chyld,
That was become meke and myld,
With the tokyn he gane hym blysse
And knelyd downe the crosse to kys.
The crusyfix that there was leyd
His arme fro the crosse uppe brayd
And clyped the chyld hym betwyx,
And sethe he kyssed the crusyfix.
All the perysch, bothe olde and yenge,
Perseyved and saw that clyppenge
And how the crucyfyx hym kyste.
Thei saw it all and wele it wyste,
And thei thankyd suete Jhesu
Of that merakyll and that vertu.
Of this chyld was grete selcouthe
That the crucyfix kyste his mouthe;
Nevertheles yit, iwys,
In his herte was mych blys,
And all the folke that saw that thing
Made to God grete thankyng.
Of thes two knyghtys how it betyde
The merakyll sprong wele wyde,
And every man therof gan tell.
Prestys in prechingys therof can spell,
So that every man in that contré
Lyve well the more in charité,
And all men the soner forgave
Ther wreth that thei to other have.
Sykyr thou be he was ryght wele
That God for hym dude sych merakell.
A sygne it was of grete love
That God allmyghty of heven above
Preferd hym to kys so lawly,
For he mekyd his herte so hye.
Now may ye se God loves them dere
That forgyve ther wreth in this werld here;
So schall his wreth on hym be sene
That here wyll not forgyffe ther tene.
Therfore prinsypally I hold it beste
For to love pece and lyve in reste.
And that it myght so be,
Prey we all for charité.
AMEN QUOD RATE
Between; (see note)
Happened a great argument (feud)
such wrath and suffering
plotted (ambushed); slay; (see note)
young knight; headstrong
observed; (see note)
in no way
For twelve months; truly
time of Lent
went; (see note); (t-note)
Mass; heard any
took off; shoes; (t-note)
commanded the gates
them who spilled his blood
i.e., power over you
This same; down leapt [from his horse]
sign of the cross
embraced; (see note)
Yet nevertheless, indeed
became widely known; (see note)
began to talk
Priests in sermons; speak
humbled; high (proud)
the wrong done to them
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