The Legend of St. George
JOHN LYDGATE, THE LEGEND OF ST. GEORGE: EXPLANATORY NOTES
ABBREVIATIONS: CT: Chaucer, Canterbury Tales; MED: Middle English Dictionary; MP: Minor Poems of John Lydgate, ed. MacCracken.
Shirley describes The Legend of St. George as “the devyse of a steyned halle” made by Lydgate for the armorers of London and seems to suggest that Lydgate came up with (“ymagyned”) both the pictorial scheme and the verses. Although Stow’s note, written at the top of page 315 in Trinity R.3.21 (“The lyfe of saynt gorge compyled by John lidgate monke of bery at the request of the armerers of london to peynt about ther haulle”) implies that the verses were for a mural, the term steyned halle more likely refers to a painted wall-hanging (see Floyd, “St. George,” pp. 145–48). A. Lancashire (London Civic Theatre, p. 124) notes that there might also have been an accompanying mimed performance, perhaps one similar to that recorded in 1585 at an election feast of the armorers and brasiers where an armed boy representing St. George and a lady leading a lamb accompanied by drum and flute marched around the hall and gave a speech. Textual evidence may support the possibility that Lydgate’s verses were read aloud as the armorers and their guests looked at the images (or watched possible mimed action) (see lines 1–3 and 32).
The verses, which draw on material from the Legenda Aurea (see Schirmer, John Lydgate, p. 157n1), tell two stories: St. George’s rescue of a king’s daughter from a dragon and the subsequent conversion of her city, and his encounter with the tyrant Dacian, who tortures the saint for his beliefs (George escapes all harm, destroys the pagan temple, and converts Dacian’s wife, before finally being beheaded, after which Dacian is stricken and dies). Pearsall makes the point that “as befits the occasion and the audience,” the poem “is remarkably straightforward and free of the amplification that Lydgate generally introduced in purely literary treatments of saints’ lives” (John Lydgate, p. 181). Its thirty-five rhyme-royal stanzas are lively, full of action, and move smoothly to the saint’s final prayer.
St. George’s chivalrous protection of women, his piety, his generosity to the poor, and his military prowess — all attributes noted by Lydgate — made him popular among the knightly classes and in the 1340s, Edward III dedicated his Order of the Garter to St. George (as the second stanza of Lydgate’s poem mentions). By the end of the fourteenth century St. George had become the patron saint of England, and in 1415, after the English victory at Agincourt, where troops had carried the banner of St. George (see Chronicle of London, p. 228), Archbishop Chichele raised St. George’s day (April 23) to the status of a Great Feast and ordered it to be celebrated on a par with Christmas. St. George was the armorers’ patron saint and Lydgate’s verses may have been commissioned for one of their feasts in his honor, perhaps the one that coincided with completion of construction on a new hall for their guild, in other words, April 23, 1430 (see Floyd, “St. George,” p. 144).
The Legend of St. George survives in four fifteenth-century manuscripts; the base text for this edition is Trinity MS R.3.20 (1450–75), pp. 74–81 (MP, 1:145–54), collated by MacCracken with Trinity College Cambridge MS R.3.21 and Bodleian Library MS 2527 (Bodley 686).
running titles: A story made of Saint / George by Lidegate / A story of Saint / George / A story of / Saint George / A storye of / Saint George.
headnote ymagyned. The most pertinent meaning of the verb imaginen given by MED is “3.(a) To plan (sth.), intend, plot; devise (a scheme).”
th’armorieres. The armorers of London made and repaired armor and weapons. For discussion of the activities, status, and patronage of St. George, see Floyd, “St. George,” pp. 144–45.
rubric The poete first declarethe. This phrase may refer to a painted representation similar to the ymage in poete-wyse of Bycorne and Chychevache, or may imply that the verses were read aloud, as Pearsall suggests (John Lydgate, p. 181). Schirmer, John Lydgate, p. 157, believes Lydgate himself recited them.
1 O yee folk that heer present be. This opening line may hint at recitation to a group of people assembled in the armorers’ hall or may address viewers of the wall hanging.
2–3 inspeccion . . . beholde and see. These lines imply that the representation included one or more visual images or mimetic representations which the audience could inspect (contemplate) and beholde (discern) and see while hearing or reading Lydgate’s verses.
8–14 Edward III founded the Order of the Garter c. 1349. Membership was limited to twenty-five plus the king, although a sorority of women, the Ladies of the Fraternity of Saint George and the Society of the Garter, was also established (see Gillespie, “Ladies of the Fraternity”). The feast day of Saint George (his day) was April 23.
18 Here and in lines 23, 26, 148, 211, and 218, Lydgate invokes his sources for the life of St. George, chiefly the Legenda Aurea.
32 whoso list to looke. Possibly a reference to the painted images in the hall, but more likely a nod towards Lydgate’s sources.
72 no meede. Literally, “no reward” (i.e., nothing could spare the princess from her doom).
85 Oure Ladyes owen knight. I.e., the Virgin Mary’s knight.
96 Chaumpyoun. Someone who engages in battle for another’s sake (MED n. 2[a]). The term was also used to refer to judicial duels or trials by battle, in which under English law representatives (champions) of the two parties would fight to determine the case, with divine intervention assigning victory to the rightful side. Its use here is consistent with Lydgate’s depiction of St. George as a model of chivalry.
162 ff. Pearsall (John Lydgate, pp. 277–78) notes that Lydgate’s treatment of George’s martyrdom contrasts with the colloquialism and violence of the version in the South English Legendary: the torture scene in this and the next stanzas avoids the physical detail and appeal to emotions of the Legendary and “deflects the edge of suffering” through the use of conventional literary phrasing, such as the absolute constructions of lines 174–75, which make the actions seem pre-ordained not humanly planned.
169 ff. Wylie and Waugh (Reign of Henry the Fifth, 2:117) note that these lines shed light on contemporary methods of hanging men.
187–96 George’s poisoner is converted, then martyred; compare the conversion of St. Cecilia’s jailor in Chaucer’s Second Nun’s Tale (CT VIII[G]400–05).
232–38 The saint’s prayer on behalf of those who venerate him is a conventional motif; Pearsall (John Lydgate, p. 278) observes that Lydgate’s “abstraction and generality” in this stanza contrast with the “homely practicality” of the South English Legendary.
240 A voyce was herd doune frome the hye heven. Compare The Man of Law’s Tale (CT II[B1]673–76).
JOHN LYDGATE, THE LEGEND OF ST. GEORGE: TEXTUAL NOTES
ABBREVIATIONS: Bo: Bodley 2527 (Bodley 686); M: MacCracken’s 1934 edition; R: Trinity R.3.21, copy text for the Pageant of Knowledge; T: Trinity R.3.20, copy text for all of the disguisings and mummings except Bishopswood, and for Bycorne and Chychevache, the Procession of Corpus Christi, and Of the Sodein Fall of Princes.
headnote R lacks headnote and line The poete first declarethe (an omission not noted by M). T reads thee poete.
1 yee folk that heer present be. R reads Ye folke all whyche here in presence; Bo reads folkes.
2 story shal. R reads history shull.
4–5 These lines are transposed in R.
4 His. R reads Of hys.
and his. R reads and of hys.
passyoun. M reads passyon.
5 is. R reads ys oure.
7 Englisshe. R reads englysshe.
8 sithen goon ful yoore. Bo reads sithen gon ful yoore; T reads goon sithen ful yoore; R reads syth ago (M: agon) nat full yore.
10 b’assent. Bo reads by assent; R reads by lordys assent.
Wyndesore. R reads Wyndsore.
11 th’ordre. Bo reads the ordre; R reads the Ordre.
first. Omitted in R.
gartier. R reads Gartere.
12 ay. R reads euer; Bo reads fro.
13 Foure and twenty. Bo reads xxiiiite.
14 ther. Bo reads the; R reads hys.
15 interpretacioun. Bo reads interupcioun.
16 Is sayde. M’s emendation; Bo reads Is seid; R reads Ys seyde; T omits Is.
of tweyne. R reads for tweyne.
the first. M’s emendation, following Bo; the omitted in T and R.
17 And the secound. Bo reads So the secound; R reads The secund. M mistakenly claims T reads And of secound.
18 As. R reads And as.
that. Bo reads one; M mistakenly claims R reads one.
for. Omitted in Bo and R.
19 feond. Bo reads devel; R reads devyll.
manhoode. R inserts hys before manhoode; Bo reads maydynhode.
20 Crystes. R reads hys; Bo reads kristes.
knyght. M reads knight.
21 bright. R inserts full before bryght.
23 story. R reads history.
to. Omitted in Bo.
endyte. R reads endure.
24 to. Bo reads in.
25 And. R reads And he.
he gaf. R reads gan (M, mistakenly: gaf); Bo reads he gan.
himself. R omits self.
26 Frome. Bo reads Fro.
27 so gynnyng. R reads he gan.
31 noblesse. Bo reads nobelnesse; R reads nobyles.
34 swerd. R reads the swerd.
35 The. Omitted in Bo.
and of. Bo reads and.
rubricAt the top of p. 315 in R is written in Stow’s hand: The lyfe of saynt gorge compyled by John ludgate monke of bery at the request of the armerers of london to peynt about ther haulle.
36 aventure is falle. Bo reads adventure is byfalle.
38 whiche. Bo reads which that.
Lybye. R reads lyby; Bo reads lybie.
39 a. R reads the.
Lysseene. R reads lysene; Bo reads lessene.
41 monstruous. Bo reads monstrous.
43 qweene. M reads queene.
taken. M’s emendation, following the reading in Bo. T and R read takyng.
44 sodeyne wooful. Bo reads sodeyne ooful; R reads wofull and sodayne.
aventure. R reads adventure.
45 fellen. Bo reads fallyng; R reads fyll.
46 that. Omitted in Bo and R.
stonde. Bo reads stode; R reads stood.
47 As. R reads And.
not. Omitted in R.
48 assaute. Bo reads the assent.
felle. R reads foule.
49 theyre. R reads that.
50 But. R reads Then.
theyre. Bo and R read the.
51 that. Omitted in Bo and R.
53 this beest foule and abhomynable. R reads thys foule beest that was so abhomynable.
54 staunche. R reads withdrawe.
which. M reads whiche.
which was. Omitted in R.
56 nuwe. R reads nede.
more. Bo and R read for more.
57 ne. Bo reads nor.
59 Thane. Bo reads When.
tooke. Bo reads token.
other. Bo and R read or.
60–61These lines are transposed in R.
61 Lyche. Bo and R read Like.
by. Bo reads ther.
chaunce. M claims T reads launce and so emends following Bo, but T actually reads chaunce.
62 to. Omitted in R.
63 that citee. R reads the cyte.
66 Touchant. Bo reads Touching; R reads Towchyng.
that foule. R omits that.
67 Eche. Bo and R read Every.
maner. Omitted in R.
68 devowred. M reads devoured.
69 at the last. Bo reads atte last.
70 right. Omitted in Bo and R.
71 she. M reads sche.
nexst. Omitted in Bo and R.
72 so. Omitted in Bo and R.
helpe. Bo reads ther helpe; R reads ther help. M reads helpe.
73 But to beo sent. R reads And by oon assent.
to. Omitted in Bo.
74 quakyng. R reads stondyng.
hir. R reads gret.
75 Upon. R reads In.
shee did. R reads dyd she.
76 hir. R reads and hir.
77 so. Omitted in Bo and R.
78 oute goyng. R reads goyng out.
79 al. Omitted in R.
80 In. Bo reads with.
with stoones. R reads with preciouse stoones.
81 ful sheene. Omitted in R.
83 frome. Bo reads fro.
In R this line reads Brought thedyr by god for her defence (M transcribes as hyr diffence).
84 Ageynst. Bo reads Agayn; R reads Agayne.
85 owen. Omitted in R.
knight. M reads knyght.
86 a ryal. Bo reads ariol.
87 Which. R reads The whyche.
mayde. M reads mayden.
88 Of. R reads With gret.
grete. M’s emendation, following the reading in Bo; T reads gret.
89 quod. R reads seyde.
takethe. Bo reads toke; R reads tooke.
90 And. Omitted in Bo and R.
fleen. R reads fle in hast.
hir. Bo reads his.
93 eeke. Omitted in Bo; R reads gret.
95 cheekys. Bo reads chekyns.
reyne and royle adowne. R reads royall and so ren a downe.
96 Thought. R reads And thought.
beon. Bo and R read be.
97 nor. R reads ne; Bo reads for.
to. Omitted in Bo and R.
98 jupart. R reads gepart; Bo reads iuparte.
99 smote on. M’s interpolation from Bo and R; T is indecipherable.
101 And towardes. R reads Then toward.
102 with outen. Bo reads withoute.
103 Avysyly of witt he tooke. R reads Avysydly with all wyt and toke.
104 kene. R reads kenely.
egrounde. Bo and R read grounde.
105 the body. Bo reads his body.
the feonde. M’s interpolation from Bo and R; the is faded in T.
107 maked. Bo and R read makyng.
109 debonayre. Bo and R read a benyngne.
112 in thyn hande. Bo reads on the grounde.
115 she gan. Bo reads gan she.
116 ouggely. Bo reads Owgle.
For this line R reads With thys vyle monstre whyche durst nat abrey.
117 mayden. Bo and R read mayde.
gan. R reads dyd.
118 That whane. R reads Of the whyche.
hade. Bo reads hed.
119 banner. Bo reads laurer.
goothe. Bo and R read goth a.
120 Giving. T reads Yiving.
him. Bo reads hem.
the. Omitted in R.
of this. Bo reads of his; R reads and the.
122 his. R reads theyre.
123 a swerde. Bo reads aswere.
124 alwey taking ful goode heed. R reads awayted and sawe thys gret dede.
goode. M reads good.
126 thorughe. Bo reads thorgh.
129 hem. Omitted in R.
131 th’errour. Bo reads there erroure; R reads errour.
conversyoun. R reads conversacioune.
132 hem. R reads theym.
the kyng and the cyté. R reads kyng and cyte.
134 in honnour. Bo reads in the honnour.
137 and. Omitted in R.
138 For this line, Bo reads Mydde of the which ther sprong up anon right; R reads Mydde of the churche there sprang anon right.
up. M’s emendation from Bo; omitted from T and R.
140 seek. Bo reads sike.
For this line, R reads Every day to her servyce whych ys dyvyne.
141 thanne. Omitted in Bo.
gan the. R reads gan then.
143 above al other. Bo and R read over al.
144 have ever. Bo reads have; R reads to have.
146 on poore, and first. R reads the poore and furst.
first. Omitted in T; M’s emendation, following Bo’s reading.
147 For this line, Bo and R read Every day to here service which is devyne.
here. M’s emendation, following the readings in Bo and R; T reads hir.
148 This. Bo and R read The.
telle. Bo and R read tell.
149 Ageynst. Bo reads Agayn.
150 Theodacyan. R reads Aras Dacian; Bo reads Dacian.
151–52 These lines are transposed in T.
151 paynyme. R reads paynyms.
a. Omitted in R.
152 to. Omitted in Bo.
153 Cryst. R reads the churche.
his. R reads the.
154 With. R reads By.
his. Omitted in R.
155 that. Omitted in Bo and R.
hereof. R reads therof.
157 of. Omitted in T and Bo; M’s emendation, following R.
knightly. R reads knightes.
160 he. Omitted in Bo.
161 Oon. Bo reads O.
on. Bo reads on thi.
162 false. M’s emendation, following R; T and Bo read fals.
163 Comaunded. M reads Commaunded.
hathe. Omitted in R.
be. R reads were.
164 broughte. M reads brought.
165 that. Omitted in Bo.
166 he ne liste noo delayes maake. R reads he lyst nat any delayes to make.
liste. M’s emendation, following Bo; T reads list.
167 Aunswerd. R reads Assuryd.
168 lawe. R reads feythe.
declyne. M’s emendation, following Bo and R; T reads enclyne.
171 upon. Bo and R read on.
172 scowrges beet. Bo reads skorged; R reads be scourged.
ful feele. R reads foule.
174 sydes. M reads sides.
not hees. R reads with.
hees. M reads hes.
175 opende. Bo reads open; R omits (M mistakenly claims R reads our).
salt. R reads with salt.
176 For this line, Bo reads The nyght after criste dede him appere and R reads The nyght after cryst dyd to him appere.
177 to. Omitted in R.
coumfort. R reads recomforte.
178 And beed. Bo reads Bad; R reads Bade.
with goode. Bo reads with ful gode.
180 victor. R reads vyctory.
schal. R reads shuld.
report. Bo reads resorte.
181 and. Omitted in R.
wynnen. R reads wynnyng.
184 venyme. R reads poyson.
b’enchauntement. Bo reads by ente; R reads by enchauntement.
188 Saughe ageyne. R reads Sy that ayenst.
190 Axethe. Bo reads And axeth; R reads And askyd.
191 bytwix. Bo and R read betwyxt.
192 false. M’s emendation, following R; T and Bo read fals.
voyde. Bo reads fals.
193 shuld. M’s emendation, following R; omitted in Bo and T.
194 roose. M’s emendation. T reads roos; R reads roose; Bo reads ros.
196 that. R reads whyche.
197 cruwel. R reads full cruell.
198 For this line, R reads Thought hym on a new wyse in Angor and tene.
199 Reysed. R reads And reysed.
aloft. Bo reads on lofte.
200 grounden. Bo reads grounde; omitted in R.
201 moost. R reads ful.
202 Tourned. R reads Was turnyd.
that. R reads theyr.
rage. T reads raige?
203 tobraake. R reads braste.
204 Eeke. R reads Also.
205 eplounged. Bo reads plunched; R reads ploungyd.
206 withouten. R reads without; Bo reads withoute.
208 This line is omitted in T; M’s interpolation, following Bo and R.
liche. R reads lyke; Bo reads lych.
bath. R reads bathe.
consolacioun. Bo reads consulacioun.
210 al. R reads that.
211 eeke. Omitted in R.
the story. R reads as the hystory.
213 Of. R reads And of.
have. Omitted in R.
214 theyre. Bo reads hir.
can. Bo reads hath; R reads dyd.
215 oure. R reads youre.
216 frome. Bo reads of.
217 till. Bo and R read to.
220 Alexandrea. Bo and R read Alexandria.
of. Omitted in R.
221 al hir fals creaunce. R reads all myscreaunce.
224 starf. R reads hyng.
225 thanne. Omitted in R.
by ful mortal. Bo reads a ful mortal; R reads by a mortall.
227 be. M’s emendation, following Bo and R; T reads he.
229 Line omitted in T.
He to ben heveded. R reads For to behedyd.
cruwel. Bo reads cruel.
230 thus. Bo reads this.
231 hem. R reads theym.
232 Bo contains the marginal note Qualiter Georgius oravit.
quod. R reads quoth.
thou. Omitted in Bo and R.
233 unto thee. R reads to thy.
234 That alle. R reads All the (M: tho); Bo reads That alle the.
238 Al. Omitted from Bo and R.
240 frome. Bo reads fro. M reads from.
the hye. Omitted in R.
241 that. Omitted in Bo and R.
244 unwarly by. R reads merveloulsy by a.
245 hoome. R reads hem.
Colophon in Bo reads Here endeth the lyfe of seynt George; in R it reads Explicit vita sancti Georgii Martiris. In T: Explicit.
[Next nowe filowing here bygynnethe the devyse of a steyned halle of the lyf of Saint George ymagyned by Daun Johan the Munk of Bury Lydegate and made with the balades at the request of th’armorieres of London for th’onour of theyre brotherhoode and theyre feest of Saint George. (see note); (t-note)
[The poete first declarethe: (see note)
O yee folk that heer present be,
Wheeche of this story shal have inspeccion,
Of Saint George yee may beholde and see
His martirdome, and his passyoun;
And howe he is protectour and patroun,
This hooly martir, of knighthood loodsterre,
To Englisshe men boothe in pees and werre.
In whos honnour sithen goon ful yoore
The thridde Edward of knighthoode moost entier
In his tyme, b’assent at Wyndesore
Founded th’ordre first of the gartier,
Of worthy knightes ay frome yeere to yeere
Foure and twenty cladde in oo lyveree
Upon his day kepte ther solempnytee.
This name George by interpretacioun
Is sayde of tweyne, the first of hoolynesse,
And the secound of knighthood and renoun,
As that myn Auctor lykethe for to expresse,
The feond venqwysshing of manhoode and prowesse,
The worlde, the flesshe, as Crystes owen knyght,
Wherever he roode in steel armed bright.
Capadoce, a mighty strong citee,
As the story of hym list to endyte,
Ordeyned was to his natyvytee;
And in his youthe he gaf himself delyte
Frome day to day, as clerkis of him wryte,
To suwe vertue, so gynnyng his passage,
Vyces excluding, al ryot, and oultrage.
And Cristes feyth for to magnefye
At gretter age his cuntree he forsooke,
And thoroughe his noblesse and his chyvallerye
Trouthe to sousteene, whoso list to looke,
Many a journee he upon him tooke,
The chirche defending with swerd of equytee,
The right of wydowes, and of virgynytee.
And in this whyle an aventure is falle,
Importable the people to sousteene,
Amiddes the provynce whiche men Lybye calle,
In a cytee that named is Lysseene;
A gret dragoun, with scales silver sheene,
Horryble, dreedful, and monstruous of sight,
Tofore the citee lay boothe day and night.
The kyng, the qweene, the lordes taken heed
Of this sodeyne wooful aventure,
And the people fellen in gret dreed
Consydering howe that they stonde unsure,
As they that might the mescheef not endure
Maade by assaute of that felle dragoun
By pestylence upon theyre wooful toun.
But whane the conseyle of theyre toun took keep
Howe that theyre peyne was intollerable,
They senten out every day twoo sheep
To this beest foule and abhomynable,
To staunche his hunger which was unstauncheable,
But whane theyre sheep by processe gan to fayle
They most of nuwe provyde more victaylle,
And whanne they foonde no refuyt ne coumfort
For the dragoun to make pourveyaunce,
Thane they tooke by lotte other by soort
Man or chylde, theyre vytayle to avaunce,
Lyche as hit felle on by mortal chaunce
Allas, ellas, it was to gret pytee
To seen the sorowe that was in that citee.
The statuit made noon excepcyoun
Of heghe ne lowe, they stoode in so gret doute
Touchant that monstre and that foule dragoun,
Eche maner man, as it came aboute,
To be devowred, allas, they were sent oute,
Til at the last the lott in this maner
Fel right upon the kynges doughter deer,
That she most nexst of necessytee
Beo so devowred, helpe may no meede,
But to beo sent oute of that cytee,
This cely mayde quakyng in hir dreed;
Upon hir hande a sheep shee did leed,
Hir fader wepte, hir moder, boothe tweyne,
And al the cytee in teerys did so reyne.
At hir oute goyng hir fader for the noones
Arrayed her with al his ful might
In cloothe of golde with gemys and with stoones,
Whiche shoone ful sheene ageyne the sonne bright,
And on hir wey sheo mette an armed knight
Sent frome the Lord as in hir diffence
Ageynst the dragoun to make resistence.
Saint George it was, Oure Ladyes owen knight,
That armed seet upon a ryal steed
Which came to socour this mayde in hir right,
Of aventure in this grete neode,
“Ellas!" quod she, whane she takethe heed,
And bade him fleen in hir mortal feer,
Lest he also with hir devowred were.
And whane he saughe of hir the maner,
He hadde pytee and eeke compassyoun,
To seen, allas, the cristal streemys cleer
On hir cheekys reyne and royle adowne,
Thought he wolde beon hir Chaumpyoun,
For lyf nor deeth from hir not to depart
But in hir quarell his body to jupart.
Hooly Seint George his hors smote on the syde
Whane he the dragoun sawe lyft up his hede,
And towardes him he proudely gan to ryde
Ful lyche a knight with outen fere or dreede;
Avysyly of witt he tooke goode heed,
With his spere sharp and kene egrounde
Thoroughe the body he gaf the feonde a wownde.
The cely mayde, knelyng on hir kne,
Unto hir goddes maked hir preyer,
And Saint George, whane he did it see,
To hir he sayde, with debonayre cheer,
“Ryse up anoon, myn owen doughter deer,
Take thy girdell, and make therof a bande,
And leed this dragoun boldly in thyn hande
“Into the cyté, lyche a conqueresse,
And the dragoun meekly shall obeye.”
And to the cytee anoon she gan hir dresse,
The ouggely monstre durst it not withseye,
And Saint George the mayden gan conveye,
That whane the kyng hade inspeccyoun,
With palme and banner he goothe processyoun,
Giving to him the laude of this victorye,
Which hathe theyre cytee delyverd out of dreed;
And Saint George, to encresce his glorye,
Pulled out a swerde and smote of his hed,
The people alwey taking ful goode heed,
How God this martyr list to magnefye,
And him to enhaunce thorughe his chivallerye.
Thanne he made the dragoun to be drawe,
With waynes and cartes fer out of the towne,
And after that he taught hem Crystes lawe,
By his doctryne and predicacyoun,
And frome th’errour by conversyoun,
He made hem tourne, the kyng and the cyté,
And of oon hert baptysed for to be.
The kyng after in honnour of Marye
And in worship of Saint George hir knight,
A ful feyre chirche gan to edefye,
Riche of bylding and wonder feyre of sight,
Amiddes of which ther sprang up anoon right
A plesaunt welle, with stremys cristallyne,
Whos drynk to seek was helthe and medecyne.
Saint George thanne enfourme gan the kyng
Of foure thinges of great excellence,
First that he shoulde above al other thing
Crystes chirche have ever in reverence,
Worship preesthood with al his diligence,
Have mynde on poore, and first his hert enclyne
Frome day to day to here servyce devyne.
This same tyme, the stoory telle cane,
Ageynst Crysten ther was a thyrant sent,
The which was called Theodacyan,
Of paynyme lawe he was a presydent,
And to destroye was hooly his entent
The feyth of Cryst, and sleen his confessours,
With dyvers peynes wrought by his tormentours.
Whane that Saint George gan hereof take heed
Howe this thyraunt gan Crystes feyth manace,
He of pourpos left of his knightly weede,
And pourely cladde mette him in the face,
Mannely cheered, fulfilled al with grace,
In his presence lowde he gan to crye
“Oon God ther is, fy on ydolatrye.”
The false thyraunt by gret vyolence
Comaunded hathe anoon that he be taake,
And to be broughte unto his presence;
Bade that he shoulde Crystes feyth forsake,
But he ne liste noo delayes maake,
Aunswerd pleynly, his lyf by deth to fyne,
Frome Crystes lawe no thing shall him declyne.
The thyraunt thanne, of verray cruweltee,
Bad that he shoulde this martir moost entier
Naked beon hanged upon a galowe tree,
With scowrges beet in ful feele maner,
And with brondes brennyng bright and cler,
His sydes brent. Were not hees peynes strong?
His entraylles opende, salt cast in among.
The nexst night, Cryst to him did peere,
And gracyously gan him to coumfort,
And beed him souffre his peynes with goode cheer,
And in no wyse himselven discoumfort,
For he the palme of victor schal report,
By his souffraunce, and wynnen the laurier
Of martirdame above the sterres cleer.
This mighty geant, Crystes chaumpyoun,
Drank bitter venyme made b’enchauntement,
Crystes crosse was his proteccion,
Preserving him that he was not shent,
And he that made hit of ful fals entent
Saughe ageyne God he hade no puissaunce,
Forsooke his errour and fel in repentaunce,
Axethe mercy in ful humble wyse,
And bycame Cristen, bytwix hope and dreed.
The false juge, voyde of all justyce,
Comaunded hathe that he shuld leese his heed,
And in his blood, as any roose reed,
He was baptysed, whoo that can discerne,
By deethe deserving the lyf that is eterne.
Thanne Dacyan, furyous and cruwel,
Gane of nuwe devysen in his teene,
Reysed aloft a ful large wheele,
Ful of swerdes grounden sharp and keene,
And Saint George, in his entent moost cleene,
Tourned theron in that mortal rage.
The wheel tobraake; he felt no damage.
Eeke in a vessel boylling ful of leed,
This hooly martir was eplounged downe,
He enterd in withouten feer or dreed,
The grace of God was his salvacioun,
And liche a bath of consolacioun
He founde the metal coumfortable and clere,
Escaping oute devoyde of al daunger.
He was eeke brought, the story doothe devyse,
Into a temple ful of mawmetrye,
Of entent to have doo sacrefyce,
But alle theyre goddes he knightly can defye,
And sodyenly oure feyth to magnefye
A fyre frome heven was by myracle sent,
Wher thorughe the temple was till asshes brent.
And with al this we fynden in his lyf,
Thorugh Goddes might and gracyous purveyaunce
That Alexandrea of Dacyan the wyf
Forsooke ydolles and al hir fals creaunce
And became Crysten with humble attendaunce,
Suffred deethe, baptysed in hir bloode
For love of Him that starf upon the roode.
And Dacyan thanne, by ful mortal lawe,
Comaunded hathe in open audyence,
That Saint George be thorughe the cyté drawe
And after that this was his sentence,
He to ben heveded by cruwel violence,
And in his dying thus it is befalle,
He made his preyer for hem that to him calle.
“O Lord,” quod he, “thou here myn orysoun
And graunte it beo unto thee plesaunce
That alle folk that have devocyoun
To me, O Lord, have hem in remembraunce
And condescende with every circumstance
Of thy mercy, O Soverein Lord moost deer
Al for my saake to heren theyre preyer.”
And al the people being in presence,
A voyce was herd doune frome the hye heven,
Howe that his preyer was graunted in sentence
Of him that is Lord of the sterres seven.
And Dacyan, with a sodein leven
Was brent unwarly by consumpcyoun,
As he repayred hoome to his mansyoun.
(see note); (t-note)
(see note); (t-note)
lodestar (i.e., guide)
peace and war; (t-note)
many years ago; (see note); (t-note)
by assent; Windsor; (t-note)
the order; garter; (t-note)
one livery; (t-note)
Is said to mean two things; (t-note)
Author; (see note); (t-note)
Satan; valor; (t-note)
likes to say; (t-note)
follow; beginning; (t-note)
sustain, whoever cares to notice; (see note)
sword; justice; (t-note)
And during this time a misfortune occurred; (t-note)
Too heavy for; bear
unexpected; occurrence; (t-note)
the assault; evil; (t-note)
unfortunate town; (t-note)
council; realized; (t-note)
gradually began to fail
had to provide anew; (t-note)
or by turn; (t-note)
their food (for the dragon) to increase; (t-note)
too great a pity; (t-note)
see; city; (t-note)
high nor; fear
nothing could spare her; (see note); (t-note)
gems; jewels; (t-note)
splendidly against; sun; (t-note)
(see note); (t-note)
sat; royal; (t-note)
By chance; great need; (t-note)
noticed (him); (t-note)
flee; fear (t-note)
pity; also; (t-note)
see; streams clear
rain and roll; (t-note)
be her Champion; (see note); (t-note)
put at risk; (t-note)
keenly honed; (t-note)
courteous manner; (t-note)
to make her way; (t-note)
loathsome; dared not resist it; (t-note)
began to guide; (t-note)
cut off his (i.e., the dragon’s) head; (t-note)
paying close attention; (t-note)
them (i.e., the townsfolk); (t-note)
the error; (t-note)
them turn; (t-note)
very beautiful; erect
began to instruct; (t-note)
Be mindful of the poor; (t-note)
the Christians; tyrant; (t-note)
pagan; leader; (t-note)
faith; slay; (t-note)
face to face
(see note); (t-note)
he (i.e., St. George) be taken; (t-note)
he (i.e., St. George) made no delay; (t-note)
Answered; life; to end; (t-note)
turn away from; (t-note)
out of sheer cruelty; (see note)
be beaten in a very cruel manner; (t-note)
his pains; (t-note)
bid; endure; (t-note)
suffering; win the laurel; (t-note)
by enchantment; (t-note)
Saw that against; power; (t-note)
Asked for mercy; (t-note)
lose his head; (t-note)
red rose; (t-note)
Began anew; anger; (t-note)
boiling; lead; (t-note)
free of; (t-note)
to make sacrifice; (t-note)
burned to ashes; (t-note)
idols; belief; (t-note)
died upon the cross; (t-note)
to be beheaded; (t-note)
hear my prayer; (see note); (t-note)
with utmost care
to hear; (t-note)
(see note); (t-note)
in fact; (t-note)
burned unexpectedly by a firey annihilation; (t-note)
The end; (t-note)
Go To Mesure is Tresour