The Game and Playe of the Chesse: Book Four
The fourth tractate and the last: of the progressyon and draughtes of the forsayd playe of the
The first chappitre of the fourth tractate of the chesse borde, in genere how it is maad.
We have devysed above the thynges that apperteyne unto the formes of the
chesse men and of their offices that is to wete as wel of noble men as of the comyn
peple. Than hit aperteyneth that we shold devyse shortly how they yssue and goon
out of the places where they be sette. And first we ought to speke of the forme and
of the facion of the chequer, after that hit representeth and was made after. For hit
was made after the forme of the cyté of Babyloyne, in the whiche this same playe
was founden, as hit is sayd afore.
And ye shal understonde that ye ought to considere here in foure thynges. The
first is wherfore that sixty-four poyntes been sette in the eschequer, whyche ben al
square. The second is wherfore the bordeure about is hygher than the squarenes of
the poyntes. The thyrd is wherfore the comyn peple ben sette tofore the nobles. The
fourth is wherfore the nobles and the peple been sette in theyr propre places.
Ther ben as many poyntes in the eschequer voyde as fulle. And ye shal first
understonde wherfore that there ben sixty-four poyntes in the eschequyer. For as
the blessyd Saynt Jherome sayth, the cité of Babylone was right grete and was maad
al square. And in every quarter was sixteen myle by nombre and mesure, the whiche
nombre four tymes tolde was sixty-four myles. After the maner of Lombardye, they
be callyd myles, and in Fraunce leukes, and in Englond they be callyd myles also.
And for to represente the mesure of this cyté, in whiche this playe or game was
founden, the philosopher that fonde hit first ordeyned a tablier conteynyng sixty-
four poyntes square, the whiche ben comprised wyth in the bordeur of the tablyer.
There ben thirty-two on that one side and thirty-two on that other side, whiche ben
ordeygned for the beaulté of the playe and for to shewe the maner and drawyng of
the chesse, as hit shal appere in the chappytres folowyng.
And as to the second, wherfore the bordeure of the eschequyer is hygher than
the table wyth in, hit is to be understonde that the bordeur about representeth the
walle of the cyté, whyche is right hygh. And therfore made the philosopher the
bordeur more hygh than the tablier. And as the blessyd Saynt Jherome sayth, upon
the prophesie of Ysaye, that is to wete upon a mounteyn of obscureté, whiche
wordes were sayd of Babylone, whiche standeth in Caldee, and nothyng of that
Babylone that stondeth in Egypt. For it is so that Babilone, whiche stondeth in
Caldee, was sette in a right grete playn, and had so hygh walles that by the heyght
of them was contynuel derknes envyronned and obscureté that none erthly man
myght beholde and see the ende of the highnes of the walle, and therfore Ysaye
callyd hit “The Montaigne Obscure.” And Saynt Jherome saith that the mesure of
the heyght of this walle was thre thousand paas, whiche extendeth unto the lengthe
of thre myle Lombardes. Hit is to wete that Lombarde mylis and Englissh myles
ben of one lengthe. And in one of the corners of thys cyté was made a tour treangle
as a shelde, wherof the heyght extended unto the lengthe of [seven] thousand paas,
whiche is seven myle Englissh. And thys toure was called the tour of Babel. The
walles about the toure made a woman whos name was Semyramis, as sayth Virgilius.
As to the thyrd, wherfore the comyn peple ben sette tofore the nobles in the
felde of the batayl in one renge: first for as moche as they ben necessarye to al
nobles. For the rook, whiche stondeth on the right side and is vycayr of the kyng,
what may he doo yf the labourer were not sette tofore hym and laboured to mynystre
to hym suche temporel thynges as be necessarie for hym? And what may the knyght
do yf he ne had tofore hym the smyth for to forge his armours, sadellys, axys, and
speres, and suche thynges as aperteyneth to hym? And what is a knyght worth
wythout hors and armes? Certeynly nothyng more than one of the peple or lasse,
peraventure. And in what maner shold the nobles lyve yf no man made cloth and
bought and solde marchandyse? And what shold kynges and quenes and the other
lordes doo yf they had no physiciens ne surgyens? Than I say that the peple
ben the glorye of the crowne and susteyne the lyf of the nobles. And therfore thou
that art a lord or a noble man or knyght, despyse not the comyn people, for as
moche as they ben sette tofore thee in the playe.
The second cause is why the peple ben sette tofore the nobles and have the
table voyde tofore them is because they begynne the bataylle. They ought to take
hede and entende to do theyr offyces and theyr craftes, in suche wyse that they suffre
the noble men to governe the cytees and to counceylle and make ordenaunces of
the peple and of the bataylle. How shold a labourer, a plow man, or a crafty man
counceyl and make ordenaunce of suche thynges as he never lerned, and wote ne
knoweth the mater upon what thyng the counceyl ought to be taken? Certes the
comyn peple ought not to entende to none other thyng but for to do their servyce
and the offyce whiche is covenable unto hem. And hit apperteyneth not to hem to
be of counceyls, ne at the advocacions, ne to menace, ne to threte no man. For ofte
tymes by menaces and by force, good counceyl is destroubled. And where good
counceyl faylleth, there ofte tymes the cytees ben betrayed and destroyed.
And Plato sayth that the comyn thynges and the cytees ben blessyd whan they
ben governed by wyse men, or whan the governours studye in wysedom. And so hit
aperteyneth to the comyn to lerne to uttre the maters and the maner of procuracion
tofore they be counceyllours. For hyt happeth often tymes that he that makyth hym
wyser that he understandeth is made more foole than he is.
And the fourth cause wherfore that there ben in tablier as many poyntes voyde
as been fulle, hit is to wete for that they, whatever they be that have peple to governe,
ought to enforce to have citees and castellys and possessyons for to sette his peple
therin, and for to laboure and do their ocupacion. For to have the name of a kyng
wythout a royame is a name voyde and honour without prouffyt. And al noblesse
without good maners, and wythout suche thynges as noblesse may be maynteyned,
ought better be callyd folye than noblesse. And shameful poverté is the more grevous
whan hyt cometh by nature of an hygh and noble byrth or hous. For no man gladly
wyl repreve a poure man of the comyn peple, but every man hath in despyte a noble
man that is poure, yf he have not in hym good maners and vertuous, by whiche his
poverté is forgoten. And truly, a royame without habundaunce of goodes by whyche
hyt may be governed and prospere may better be callyd a latrocynye or a nest of
thevys than a royame.
Alas, what habundaunce was somme tymes in the royames, and what prosperité
in whiche was justyce and every man in his offyce contente! How stood the cytees
that tyme in worship and renome! How was renomed the noble royame of Englond!
Alle the world dradde hit and spake worshyp of hit. How hit now standeth and in
what habundaunce I reporte me to them that knowe hit. Yf there ben thevys wyth
in the royame or on the see, they knowe that laboure in the royame and sayle on
the see. I wote wel the fame is grete therof. I praye God save that noble royame
and sende good, trewe, and polletique counceyllours to the governours of the
same. And noblesse of lignage wythout puyssaunce and myght is but vanyté and
And hit is so, as we have sayd tofore, that the schequer whiche the phylosopher
ordeyned represented and figured the said cité of Babylone. And in like wyse may
hit figure a royame and signefye alle the world. And yf men regarde and take heed
unto the poyntes unto the myddes of every quadrante, and so to double every
quadrant to other, the myles of this cité alwey doublyng unto the nombre of sixty-
four, the nombre of the same shold surmounte al the world. And not onely the
world, but many worldes by the doublyng of myles, whiche doublyng so as afore is
sayd shold surmounte all thynges.
And thus endeth the first chappytre of the fourth booke.
The second chappitre of the fourth tractate treteth of the draught of the kyng and how he
mevyth in the chequer. Capitulo secundo.
We ought to knowe that in thys world the kynges seygnourie and reygne eche
in his royame. And in this play we ought to knowe by the nature of hit how the
kyng meveth hym and yssueth out of his place. For ye shal understonde that he is
sette in the fourth quadrante or poynt of the eschequer. And whan he is black, he
standeth in the whyt, and the knyght on his right side in whyt, and the alphyn and
the rook in black. And on the lift side the four holden the places apposite. And the
reason may be suche: for bycause that the knyghtes been the glorie and the crowne
of the kyng, they ensiewe in semblable residence that they do whan they be sette
semblaby on the right side of the kyng and on the lift side of the quene. And for
as moche as the rook on the right side is vicayr of the kyng, he accompanyeth the
quene in semblable siege that the alphyn doth, whiche is juge of the kyng. And in
like wyse, the lift rook and the lift alphyn accompanye the kyng in semblable siege.
In suche wyse as they ben sette about the kyng in bothe sides with the quene in
maner of a crowne that they may seurely kepe the royame that reluyseth and
shyneth in the kyng and in the quene. In suche wyse as they may conferme and
diffende hym in their sieges and in theyr places, and the more hastely renne upon
his enemyes. And for as moche as the juge, the knyght, and the vicayr kepe and
garnysshe the kyng on that one side, they that been sette on the other side kepe
the quene, and thus kepe they al the strength and fermete of the royame, and
semblably otherwhile for to ordeigne the thynges that aperteyne to the counceyl
and to the besoyngue of the royame. For yf eche man shold entende to his owne
proper thynges, and that they deffendyd not ner toke hede unto the thynges that
apperteynen to the kynge, to the comyn, and to the royame, the royame shold
anone be devyded in parties. And thus myght the juge reygne, and the name of the
dygnyté ryall shold be loste.
And trewly, for as moche as the kynge holdeth the dygnyté above alle other and
the seignorye royall, therfore hit apperteyneth not that he absente hym long, ne
wythdrawe hym ferre by space of tyme from the maister siege of his royame. For
whan he wyl meve hym, he ought not to passe at the first draught the nombre of
three poyntes. And whan he begynneth thus to meve from his whyt poynt, he hath
the nature of the rookes of the right side and of the lift for to goo black or whyt.
And also he may goo unto the whyt poynt where the gardes of the cyté ben sette.
And in this poynt he hath the nature of a knyght. And thise two maners of mevyng
aperteyneth otherwhile to the quene. And for as moche as the kyng and the quene
that be conjoyned togeder by mariage ben one thyng as one flesshe and blood,
therfore may the kyng meve on the lift side of his propre poynt also wel as he were
sette in the place of the quene, whiche is black, and whan he goeth right, in maner
of the rook onely. And hit happen that the adversary be not coverd in ony poynte
in the second ligne, the kyng may not passe from his black poynt unto the thyrd
ligne. And thus he sortiseth the nature of the rook on the right side and lift side
unto the place of the knyghtes, and for to goo right tofore into the whyt poynt
tofore the marchaunt. And the kyng also sortist the nature of the knyghtes whan
he goeth on the right side in two maners. For he may put hym in the voyde space
tofore the phisicien and in the black space tofore the taverner. And on the other
side he goeth into other two places in like wyse, that is tofore the smyth and the
notarye. And thus as in goyng out first into four poyntes, he sorteth the nature of
knyghtes. And also, the kyng sortyseth the nature of the alphyns at hys fyrst yssue
into two places. And he may goo on boothe sydes unto the whyte place voyde, that
one tofore the smyth on that one side and that other tofore the taverner on that
Al these yssues hath the kyng out of his propre place of his owne vertu whan he
begynneth to meve. But whan he is ones mevyd fro his propre place, he may not
meve but into one space or poynt, and so from one to another. And than he
sortiseth the nature of the comyn peple, and thus by good right he hath in hymself
the nature of al. For al the vertue that is in the membris comyth of the heed and
al mevyng of the body, the begynnyng, and lyf cometh from the herte. And al the
dygnyté that the subgettis have by execusion and continuel apparence of theyr
mevyng and yssue, the kyng deteyneth hit, and is attributed to hym the victorye of
the knyghtes, the prudence of the juges, the auctorité of the vycayrs or legates, the
contynence of the quene, the concorde and unyté of the people. So ben alle thise
thynges ascribed unto the honour and worshyp of the kyng in his yssue, whan he
The third ligne tofore the peple he never excedyth, for in the third nombre alle
maner of states begynne to meve. For the trynary nombre conteyneth thre parties,
whyche make a perfect nombre. For a trynarye nombre hath one, two, three,
whiche joyned togider maketh six, which is the first parfit nombre, and signefieth
in this place six persones named that constitute the perfeccion of a royame, that
is to wete the kyng, the quene, juges, knyghtes, vicairs or legates, and the comyn
peple. And therfore the kyng ought to begynne in his first mevyng of three poyntes
that he shewe perfeccion of lyf as wel in hymself as in other.
After the kyng begynneth to meve, he may lede with hym the quene, after the
maner of his issue. For why the quene foloweth unto two angularye places after the
maner of the alphyn, and to a place indyrecte in the maner of a rook into the
blacke poynt tofore the phisicien, herin is signefyed that the women may not meve
nether make vowes of pylgremage ner of viage without the wylle of theyr
husbondes. For yf a woman had avowed onythyng, her husbond lyvyng and agayn
sayeng, she may not yelde ner accomplisshe her vowe. Yf the husbond wyl goo ony
where, he may wel goo wythout her. And yf so be that the husbond wyl have her
wyth hym, she is bounden to folowe hym. And by reson, for a man is the heed of
a woman and not econverso. For as to suche thynges as longe to patrymonye, they
ben like. But the man hath power over her body, and so hath not the woman over
his. And therfore, whan the kyng begynneth to meve, the quene may folowe, and
not alwey whan she mevyth it is no nede the kyng to meve.
For why: four [of] the first lignes be wyth in the lymytes and space of the royame,
and unto the thyrd poynt the kynge may meve at his first mevyng out of his propre
place. And whan he passyth the fourth ligne, he goeth out of his royame. And yf he
passe one poynt, lete hym bewaar! For the persone of a kyng is acounted more than
a thousand of other. For whan he exposith hym unto the parilles of bataylle, hit is
necessarye that he goo attemporatly and slily. For yf he be taken or deed, or ellys
inclusid and shette up, alle the strengthes of al other faylle, and al is finysshed and
lost. And therfore he hath nede to goo and meve wysely.
And also, therfore, he may not meve but one poynt after hys first mevyng, but
where that ever he goo, foreward or bacward, or on that one side or on that other,
or ellis cornerwyse, he may never approche his adversarye the kyng nerrer than in
the thyrd poynt. And therfore, the kynges in bataylle ought never to approche one
nygh that other. And also, whan the kyng hath goon so ferre that al hys men be
lost, than he is sole, and than he may not endure long whan he is brought to that
extremyté. And also, he ought to take hede that he stonde not so that a knyght or
another sayth "chek rook." Than the kyng loseth the rook. That kynge is not wel
fortunat that lesith hym to whom his auctorité delegate aperteyneth, who may do
the nedes of the royame yf he be pryvyd, taken, or deed, that was provysour of al
the royame. He shal bere a sacke on his heed that is shette in a cité, and al they
that were therin ben taken in captyvyté and shette up.
The third chappitre of the fourth book: of the quene and how she yssueth out of her place.
Whan the quene, whiche is accompanyed unto the kyng, begynneth to meve from
her propre place, she goeth in double manere, that is to wete as an alphyn.
Whan she is black, she may goo on the right side and come into the poynt tofore
the notarye, and on the lift side in the black poynt and come tofore the gardes
of the cyté. And hit is to wete that she sortiseth in herself the nature in three maners:
first on the right side tofore the alphyn, secondly on the lift side where the knyght
is, and thirdly indirectly unto the black poynt tofore the phisicien.
And the reason why is for as moche as she hath in herself by grace the auctorité
that the rookes have by commyscion. For she may gyve and graunte many thynges
to her subgettis graciously. And thus also ought she to have parfyt wysedom as the
alphyns have, whiche ben juges, as hit sayd above in the chappytre of the quene.
And she hath not the nature of knyghtes, and hit is not fittyng ne covenable thyng
for a woman to goo to bataylle for the fragylité and feblenes of her. And therfore
holdeth she not the waye in her draught as the knyghtes doon. And whan she is
mevyd ones out of her place, she may not goo but fro one poynte to another, and
yet covertly, whether hit be forwarde or bacward, takyng or to be taken.
And here may be axyd why the quene goeth to the bataylle wyth the kyng.
Certeynly, it is for the solace of hym and ostencion of love. And also, the peple
desire to have successyon of the kyng. And therfore the Tartaris have their wyves
into the felde with hem. Yet hit is not good that men have theyr wyves wyth hem,
but that they abyde in the cytees or wythin theyr owne termys. For whan they been
out of theyr cytees and lymytes, they ben not sure but holden suspecte. They shold
be shamefast and holde al men suspect.
For Dyna, Jacob's doughter, as longe as she was in the hows of her brethern, she
kept her vyrgynyté. But assone as she wente for to see the straunge regyons, anone
she was corupt and defowled of the sone of Sichem.
Seneka sayth that the women that have evyl vysages ben gladly not chaste, but
theyr corage desyreth gladly the companye of men.
And Solinus sayth that no bestys femeles desire to be touched of their males
whan they have conceyvyd, except woman whiche ought to be a beste resonable,
and in this caas she lesith her rayson. And Sidrac witnessith the same.
And therfore, in the olde lawe the faders had dyverse wyves and ancellis to the
ende whan one was with childe, they myght take another.
They ought to have the vysage enclyned for to eschewe the sight of the men,
that by the sight they be not mevyd with incontynence and dyffame of other.
And Ovyde sayth that there ben somme that, how wel that they eschewe the
dede, yet have they grete joye whan they be prayed. And therfore ought the good
women fle the curiositees and places where they myght falle in blame and noyse
of the peple.
|The fourth chappytre of the fourth book: of the issuyng of the alphyn. Capitulo quarto.|
The manere and nature of the draught of the alphyn is suche that he that is
black in his propre siege is sette on the right side of the kyng and he that is whyt
is sette on the lift side, and ben callyd and named “black” and “whyt,” but for no
cause that they be so in substaunce of her propre colour, but for the colour of the
places in whiche they ben sette. And alwey be they black or whyt whan they ben sette
in theyr places.
The alphyn on the right side goyng out of his place to the right sydeward
cometh tofore the labourer. And hit is reason that the juge ought to deffende and
kepe the labourers and possessyons whiche ben in his jurisdyccion by al right and
lawe. And also, he may goo on the lift side to the voyde place tofore the phisicien.
For like as the physiciens have the charge to hele the infirmytees of a man, in like
wise have the juges charge to appese alle stryves and contencions, and reduse unto
unyté, and to punysshe and correcte causes crymynels.
The lift alphyn hath also two wayes fro his owne place, one toward the right side
unto the black space voyde tofore the marchaunt, for the marchauntes nede ofte
tymes counceyl and been in debate of questyons whiche must nedes be determyned
by the juges, and that other yssue is unto the place tofore the rybauldes. And that
is bycause that ofte tymes among them falle noyses, dyscencions, thefte, and
manslaughter, wherfore they ought to be punysshed by the juges.
And ye shal understonde that the alphyn goeth alwey cornerwyse fro the thyrd
poynt to the thyrd poynt, kepyng alwey his owne siege. For yf he be black, he goeth
alwey black. And yf he be whyt, he goeth alwey whyte. The yssue or goyng cornerly
or angularly signefyeth cautele or subtilyté, whiche juges ought to have. The thre
poyntes betoken thre thynges that the juge ought to attende. A juge ought to
further rightful and trewe causes. Secondly, he ought to geve trewe counceyl. And
thyrdly, he ought to geve and juge rightful sentences after the alegeaunces, and
never to goo fro the rightwysnes of the lawe.
And it is to wete that the alphyn goeth in six draughtes al the tablier rounde
about, and that he cometh agayn into his owne place. And how be hit that al reason
and good perfeccion shold be in a kyng, yet ought hit also specially be in them that
ben counceyllours of the kyng and the quene. And the kyng ought not to do
onythyng doubtouse til he have axyd counceyl of his juges and of the sages of the
royame. And therfore ought the juge to be parfaytly wyse and sage as wel in science
as in good maners. And that is signefyed whan they meve from thre poyntes into
thre. For the sixte nombre by whiche they goo al the eschequer and brynge hem
agayn into her propre place, in suche wyse that the ende of her moevyng is
conjoyned agayn to the begynnyng of the place fro whens they departed. And
therfore hit is callyd a parfayt moevyng.
|F||The fifthe chappytre of the fourth tractate: of the mevyng of the knyghtes. Capitulo quinto.|
After the issue of the alphyns we shal devyse to you the yssue and the moevyng
of the knyghtes. And we say that the knyght on the right side is whyt and on the lift
side black. And the yssue and moevyng of hem bothe is in one maner, whan so is
that the knyght on the right side is whyt, the lift knyght is black. The moevyng of
hem is suche: that the whyt may goo into the space of the alphyn as hyt apperyth
of the knyght on the ryght syde that is whyt, and hath thre yssues from his propre
place, one on his right side in the place tofore the labourer. And hit is wel reson
that whan the labourer and husbond man hath laboured the feldes, the knyghtes
ought to kepe them to the entente that they have vitailles for themself and theyr
The second yssue is that he may meve hym unto the black space tofore the
notarye or draper, for he is bounden to deffende and kepe them that make hys
vestementes and covertours necessarye unto hys body.
The thyrd yssue is that he may goo on the lift side into the place tofore the
marchaunt whiche is sette tofore the kyng, the whiche is black. And the reson is for
as moche as he ought and is holden to deffende the kyng, as wel as his owne
persone, whan he passyth the first draught, he may goo four weyes. And whan he
is in the myddes of the tablier, he may goo into eight places sondry, to whiche he
may renne. And in like wyse may the lift knyght goo, whiche is black, and goeth out
of his place into whyt. And in that maner goeth the knyght fightyng by his myght,
and groweth and multeplyeth in his poyntes. And ofte tymes by them the felde is
wonne or lost.
A knyghte’s vertue and myght is not knowen but by his fightyng. And in his
fightyng he doeth moche harme, for as moche as his myght extendeth into so
many poyntes, they ben in many parellis in theyr fightyng. And whan they escape,
they have the honour of the game. And thus is hit of every man the more vayllyant
and the more honoured, and he that meketh hymself ofte tymes shyneth clerest.
The sixte chappytre of the fourth tractate treteth of the yssue of the rookes and of her
progressyon. Capitulo sexto.
The moevyng and yssue of the rookes, whiche ben vycayrs of the kynge, is
suche: that the right rook is black and the lift rook is whyt. And whan the chesse
ben sette, as wel the nobles as the comyn peple first in theyr propre places, the
rookes by theyr propre vertu have no waye to yssue but yf hit be maad to them by
the nobles or comyn peple. For they been enclosid in theyr propre sieges. And the
reson why is suche: that for as moche as they ben vycayrs, lieuetenauntes, or
commyssyoners of the kyng, theyr auctorité is of none effect tofore they yssue out.
And that they have begonne to enhaunce their offyce, for as longe as they be wythin
the palays of the kyng, so longe may they not use ne execute theyr commyssyon.
But anone as they yssue they may use theyr auctorité.
And ye shal understonde that theyr auctorité is grete, for they represente the
persone of the kyng. And therfore, where the tablier is voyde, they may renne alle
the tablier, in lyke wyse as they goon thrugh the royame. And they may goo as wel
whyt as black, as wel on the right side and lifte, as foreward and bacward. And as fer
may they renne as they fynde the tablier voyde, whether hit be of his adversaries
as of his owen felawshyp. And whan the rook is in the myddel of the tablier, he may
goo whiche way he wyl into four right lignes on every syde. And it is to wete that
he may in no wyse goo cornerwyse, but alwey right forth, goyng and comyng as
afore is sayd, wherfore al the subgettis of the kyng, as wel good as evyl, ought to
knowe by theyr moevyng that the auctorité of the vycayrs and commyssyoners
ought to be veray trewe, rightwys, and juste. And ye shal understande that they ben
stronge and vertuous in bataylle. For the two rookes onely may vaynquysshe a kyng,
theyr adversarye, and take hym, and take from hym his lyf and his royame.
And this was doon whan Cirus, kyng of Perse, and Darius, kyng of Medes, slewe
Balthazar and took his royame from hym, whiche was nevewe to Evylmoradach
under whom thys game was founden.
The seventh chappytre of the fourth book: of the yssue of the comyn peple.
One yssue and one moevyng apperteyneth unto all the comyn peple. For they
may goo fro the poynt they stande in at the first mevyng unto the third poynt ryght
forth tofore them. And whan they have so doon, they may afterward meve nomore
but fro one poynt right forth into another. And they may never retorne bacward.
And thus, goyng forth fro poynt to poynt, they may gete by vertue and strengthe
that thynge that the other nobles fynde by dygnyté. And yf the knyghtes and other
nobles helpe hem, that they come to the ferthest ligne tofore them where theyr
adversaryes were sette, they acquyre the dignyté that the quene hath graunted to
her by grace. For yf ony of them may come to thys sayd ligne, yf he be whyt as
labourer, draper, phisicien, or kepar of the cité been, they reteyne suche dignyté
as the quene hath, for they have goten hit. And than retornyng agayn homeward,
they may go like as it is sayd in the chappitre of the quene. And yf ony of the
pawnes that be black, as the smyth, the marchaunt, the taverner, and ribaulde, may
come without dommage into the same utterest ligne, he shal gete by his vertu the
dygnyté of the black quene.
And ye shal understonde, whan thyse comune peple meve right forth in her
ligne and fynde ony noble persone or of the peple of their adversaries sette in the
poynt on ony side tofore hym, in that corner poynte he may take his adversarye,
whether hit be on the right side or on the lift. And the cause is that the adversaries
ben suspecious that the comyn peple lye in a wayte to robbe her goodes or to take
her persones whan they go upward right forth. And therfore he may take in the
right angle tofore hym one of his adversaryes, as he had espied his persone, and
in the right angle as robber of his goodes. And whether hit be goyng forward, or
retornyng fro black to whyt, or whyt to black, the pawne must alwey goo in his right
ligne, and alwey take in the corner that he fyndeth in his waye. But he may not goo
on neyther side til he hath been in the fardest ligne of the eschequer and that he
hath taken the nature of the draughtes of the quene. And than he is a “fiers.” And
than he may goo on al sides cornerwyse fro poynt to poynt onely as the quene, both
fightyng and takyng whom he fyndeth in his waye. And whan he is thus comen
unto the place where the nobles, his adversaries, were sette, he shal be made “whit
fiers” and “black fiers” after the poynte that he is in. And there taketh he the
dygnyté of the quene.
And alle these thynges may appere to them that beholden the playe of the
chesse. And ye shal understonde that no noble man ought to have despyte of the
comyn peple. For hit hath been ofte tymes seen that by their vertu and wytte,
dyverce of them have comen to right hygh and grete astate as poopes, bysshops,
emperours, and kynges, as we have in the historye of Davyd, that was made kyng
of a shepeherd and one of the comyn peple and of many other. And in lyke wise
we rede of the contrarye, that many noble men have been brought to myserye by
theyr defaulte, as of Gyges, whiche was right riche of landes and of richessis, and
was so proud that he went and demaunded of the god Appollo yf there were ony
in the world more riche and more heppy than he was. And than he herde a voys
that yssued out of the fosse or pitte of the sacrefises that a peple named Agalans
Sophide, whiche were poure of goodes and riche of corage, was more acceptable
than he whiche was kyng. And thus the god Appollo alowed more the sapyence and
the sureté of the poure man and of his litel meyne than he dyd the astate and the
persone of Gyges, ne of his riche mayne. And hit is more to alowe a lytyl thyng
seurly poursewed thenne moche good taken in fere and drede. And for as moche
as a man of lowe lignage is by his vertue enhaunsed, so moche the more he ought
to be glorious and of good renomee.
Virgyle, that was borne in Lombardye of the nacion of Mantua and was of lowe
and symple lignage, yet he was soverayn in wysedom and science, and the most
noble of al the poyntes, of whom the renomee was, is, and shal be duryng the world.
So hit happend that another poete axyd and demaunded of hym wherfore he sette
not the versis of Homere in his book. And he answerd that he shold be of right
grete strengthe and force that shold plucke the clubbe out of Hercules handes.
And thys suffiseth the state and draughtis of the comyn peple.
The eighth chappytre and the last of the fourth book: of the epylogacion and recapytulacion
of thys book. Capitulo octavus.
For as moche as we see and knowe that the memorye of the peple is not retentyf
but right forgeteful, whan somme here longe talis and historyes whiche they can not
al reteyne in her mynde or recorde. Therfore I have put in thys present chappytre
al the thynges abovesayd as shortly as I have conne.
First, this playe or game was founden in the tyme of Evylmerodach, kyng of
Babylone, and Excerses the philosopher, otherwyse named Philometer, founde hit.
And the cause why was for the correccion of the kyng, lyke as hit apperith in thre [of]
the first chappytres. For the sayd kyng was so tyrannous and feloun that he myght
suffre no correcion but slewe them and dyd do put hem to deth that correctid hym,
and had than doo put to deth many right wyse men. Than the peple, beyng sorouful
and right evyl plesid of this evyl lyf of the kyng, prayed and requyred the phylo
sopher that he wold reprise and telle the kyng of his folye. And than the philosopher
answerd that he shold be dede yf he so dyde. And the peple sayd to hym: “Certes,
thou oughtest sonner wylle to dye to the ende that thy renome myght come to the
peple than the lyf of the kyng shold contynue in evyl for lacke of thy counceil, or by
faulte of reprehension of thee, or thou darist not doo and shewe that thou sayest.”
And whan the philosopher herde thys, he promysid to the peple that he wold
put hym in devoyr to correct hym. And thenne he began to thynke hym in what
maner he myght escape the deth and kepe to the people his promesse. And thenne
thus he maad in thys maner and ordeygned the eschequer of sixty-four poyntes,
as is afore sayde. And dyd do make the forme of chequers of gold and silver in
humayn figure after the facions and formes as we have dyvysid and shewid to you
tofore in theyr chappytres, and ordeyned the moevyng and the estate after that it
is sayd in the chappitres of the eschessys.
And whan the pyhlosophre had thus ordeyned the playe or game, and that hit
plesid alle them that sawe hit, on a tyme, as the philosopher played on hit, the kyng
came and sawe hit, and desired to playe at this game. And thenne the phylosopher
began to ensigne and teche the kyng the science of the playe and the draughtes,
sayeng to hym first how the kyng ought to have in hymself pyté, debonayrté, and
rightwysnes, as hit is sayd tofore in the chappytre of the kyng. And he enseygned
to hym the astate of the quene and what maners she ought to have. And thenne of
the alphyns as counceyllours and juges of the royame. And after the nature of the
knyghtes, how they ought to be wyse, trewe, and curtoys, and al the ordre of
knyghthode. And than after the nature of the vycayrs and rookes, as hit apperyth
in theyr chappytre. And after thys how the comyn people ought to goo eche in his
offyce, and how they ought to serve the nobles.
And whan the phylosopher had thus taught and enseygned the kynge and his
nobles by the maner of the playe, and had reprehendyd hym of his evyl maners, the
kyng demaunded hym upon payn of deth to telle hym the cause why and wherfore
he had made and founden thys playe and game, and what thyng mevyd hym therto.
And than the phylosopher, constrayned by fere and drede, answerd that he had
promysed to the people, whyche had requyryd hym that he shold correcte and
reprise the kyng of his evyl vices. But for as moche as he doubted the deth and had
seen that the kyng dyd do slee the sages and wyse men that were so hardy to blame
hym of his vyces, he was in grete anguysshe and sorowe how he myght fynde a
maner to correcte and reprehende the kyng and to save his owen lyf. And thus he
thought longe and studyed that he fond this game or playe, whiche he hath do sette
forth for to amende and correcte the lyf of the kyng and to chaunge his maners.
And he adjoustyd, wyth al that he had founden, thys game for so moche as the
lordes and nobles haboundyng in delices and richessis, and enjoyeng temporel
pees, shold eshewe ydelnes by playeng of thys game, and for to gyve hem cause to
leve her pensifnes and sorowes in avysyng and studyeng this game.
And whan the kyng had herde al thyse causes, he thought that the philosopher
had founde a good maner of correccion. And than he thankyd hym gretely. And
thus by the ensignement and lernyng of the philosopher, he chaunged his lyf, his
maners, and alle his evyll condicions. And by this maner hit happend that the kyng
that tofore tyme had ben vycious and disordynate in hys lyvyng was made juste and
vertuous, debonayr, gracious, and ful of vertues unto al peple. And a man that
lyvyth in thys world without vertues lyveth not as a man but as a beste. Thenne late
every man of what condycion he be that redyth or herith this litel book redde, take
therby ensaumple to amende hym.
BOOK FOUR: FOOTNOTES
Title draughtes, moves; in genere, universally.
2 to wete, to say.
3 yssue, first advance.
5 facion, fashion or shape; chequer, chessboard.
9 wherfore, to what purpose; poyntes, spaces.
10 bordeure, border; squarenes, squareness (i.e., the square parts).
13 voyde, empty.
17 Lombardye, the Lombard region in northern Italy.
18 leukes, leagues.
20 ordeyned, arranged; tablier, chessboard.
23 drawyng, motion.
29 Ysaye, Isaiah; wete, know; obscureté, obscurity.
30 Caldee, Chaldea.
31 For it is so, For it is the case.
35 Montaigne, Mountain.
36 paas, paces (each roughly equal to a step of a flight of stairs).
38 tour treangle, triangular tower.
43 renge, row.
47–48 sadellys, axys, and speres, saddles, axes, and spears.
50 peraventure, perchance.
59 counceylle, rule or direct; ordenaunces of, decrees for.
61–62 wote ne knoweth, doesn't understand or know.
63 servyce, jobs.
64 covenable, appropriate.
65 advocacions, the callings of people to council.
66 destroubled, thwarted.
70 procuracion, management.
77 royame, kingdom.
79 grevous, grievous.
84 latrocynye, band of robbers.
86 somme tymes, formerly.
88 renome, renown.
90 reporte me, appeal.
92 wote, believe.
96 schequer, chessboard.
107 meveth hym, moves himself; yssueth out, advances out.
109 alphyn, bishop or judge.
110 apposite, opposite.
112 ensiewe, ensue or follow; semblable, similar.
114 vicayr, representative.
115 siege, seat or place.
118 seurely, surely; reluyseth, shines forth.
119–20 conferme and diffende, add strength to and defend.
120 renne upon, attack.
122 garnysshe, garrison.
123 fermete, integrity.
124 semblably otherwhile, similarly sometimes.
125 besoyngue, business.
129 ryall, royal.
132 ferre, far.
134 poyntes, spaces.
139 conjoyned togeder, conjoined together.
140 also wel as, in the same way as.
142 And, If; coverd, defended against.
144 sortiseth, acquires.
148 taverner, tavern keeper.
161 execusion, the act of doing or moving.
162 deteyneth, holds or restrains.
164 contynence, self-restraint.
167–68 alle maner of states, (i.e., all the pieces).
168 trynary, ternary.
174 perfeccion, perfection.
176 angularye, diagonal.
179 nether . . . ner, neither . . . nor; viage, voyage.
181 yelde ner accomplisshe, break or hold.
184 econverso, conversely; longe to, belong to.
188 For why, The reason for this is; lignes, lines.
191 acounted more, worth more.
193 attemporatly and slily, with moderation and stealthily.
194 inclusid and shette up, captured.
197 where that ever he goo, wherever he goes.
198 cornerwyse, diagonally; nerrer, nearer.
203 "chek rook," the call of check at the same time that one of the rooks is threatened with capture.
204 lesith, loses; auctorité delegate, delegated authority.
205 pryvyd, taken away or captured; provysour, the manager or head.
206 bere a sacke on his heed (i.e., all the pieces will be tossed back in a bag once the king is mated and the game ends).
Title yssueth, issues.
209 wete, understand; alphyn, judge or chess bishop.
211 notarye, personal secretary or clerk.
212 sortiseth, acquires.
216 commyscion, commission.
219 covenable, suitable.
224 axyd, asked.
225 ostencion, manifestation or display.
226 Tartaris, Tartars or inhabitants of Central Asia.
229 holden, held.
235 corage, disposition.
236 bestys femeles, female animals.
238 lesith, loses.
239 ancellis, female servants or concubines.
242 incontynence, lack of self-restraint; dyffame, disfame.
243 how wel, however well.
244 prayed, sexually solicited.
245 fle, flee.
248 siege, seat or place.
258 stryves, discords.
258–59 reduse unto unyté, bring them back to one accord.
259 causes crymynels, criminal cases.
263 rybauldes, ribald or dissolute characters.
264 noyses, troubles; dyscencions, disagreements.
269 cautele, craftiness; subtilyté, shrewdness.
272 sentences, verdicts; alegeaunces, duties (to the law).
273 rightwysnes, rule.
274 draughtes, moves; tablier, chessboard.
278 doubtouse, uncertain.
281 goo al the eschequer, complete the circuit of the board; hem, themselves.
283 conjoyned, conjoined.
Title mevyng, moves.
285 alphyns, judges or chess bishops; devyse, explain.
287–88 whan so is that, although.
289 apperyth, is expected.
292 husbond man, one who practices husbandry or a farmer.
293 to the entente, for the purpose; vitailles, food or provisions.
296 notarye or draper, clerk or dealers in cloth.
297 vestementes and covertours, clothes and coverings (either for beds or in the sense of garments).
302 myddes, middle; tablier, chessboard; sondry, individually or separately.
303 renne, run.
305 and groweth and multeplyeth in his poyntes (i.e., after the first move, the knight increases the spaces to which he is able to move).
309 parellis, risks.
311 he that meketh hymself, he who makes himself humble.
312 vycayrs, representatives.
314 propre, own.
316 sieges, places.
318 commyssyoners, commissioners.
325 fer, far.
328 it is to wete, this is to say.
329 cornerwyse, diagonally.
332 rightwys, forthright.
333 onely, alone.
343 dygnyté, nobility.
344 that, so that; ferthest ligne, farthest row.
348 have goten, have earned.
350 smyth, blacksmith; taverner, tavern keeper; ribaulde, ribald.
351 dommage, harm; utterest, farthest.
354–55 in the poynt on ony side tofore hym, in any diagonal square in front of him.
363 on neyther side, backwards; fardest, farthest.
364 "fiers," the name for a promoted pawn.
371 have despyte of, look down on.
373 astate, estate or social standing; poopes, popes.
375 of a shepeherd and one of the comyn peple, after being a shepherd and common.
379 heppy, happy.
380 fosse, pit.
380–81 Agalans Sophide, Aglaus of Psophis.
382 alowed more, praised more.
383 meyne, means.
384 mayne, means.
385 poursewed, pursued.
Title epylogacion, conclusion.
396 talis, stories.
398 abovesayd, aforementioned; shortly, briefly; have conne, am able.
402 feloun, felonious.
405 evyl plesid, displeased; requyred, requested.
407 Certes, Certainly.
408 sonner, sooner.
412 put hym in devoyr, do what he could.
414 ordeygned, arranged; eschequer, chessboard.
418–19 after that it is sayd, after the rules that are stated.
423 ensigne, instruct.
424–25 pyté, debonayrté, and rightwysnes, pity, graciousness, and honesty.
428 curtoys, courteous.
438 reprise, reprove; doubted the deth, feared death.
439 hardy, brave.
441 reprehende, rebuke.
444 adjoustyd, composed.
445 haboundyng, abounding; delices, delights.
447 pensifnes, pensiveness or worries; avysyng, considering.
452 tofore tyme, before; disordynate, unchecked or immoderate.
BOOK FOUR: EXPLANATORY NOTES
Abbreviations: CA: Gower, Confessio Amantis; CT: Chaucer, Canterbury Tales; LGW: Chaucer, Legend of Good Women; OED: Oxford English Dictionary; PL: Migne, Patrologiae cursus completus, series Latina; Whiting: Whiting, Proverbs, Sentences, and Proverbial Phrases.
14–16 For as the blessyd Saynt Jherome sayth, the cité of Babylone was right grete and was maad al square. In Le Jeu des Éschaz Moralisé Collet attributes this to Jerome's Commentary on Jeremey, Book 14.22–23. However, the version of this text that appears in PL does not seem to support this reference.
18–40 and in Englond they be callyd myles also . . . Hit is to wete that Lombarde mylis and Englissh myles ben of one lengthe . . . whiche is seven myle Englissh. These asides about English measurements are all added by Caxton.
28–29 And as the blessyd Saynt Jherome sayth, upon the prophesie of Ysaye. This comes from Jerome's Commentary on Isaiah, Book 5:13, verses 20–22. See Hieronymus Stridonensis [MED], PL 24:0163A–D.
29–31 whiche wordes were sayd of Babylone, whiche standeth in Caldee, and nothyng of that Babylone that stondeth in Egypt. The Babylon referred to here is the Biblical city, which is located in modern day Iraq, and not the Egyptian Babylon, an ancient city on the Nile.
40–41 The walles about the toure made a woman whos name was Semyramis, as sayth Virgilius. Although Jacobus refers to Virgil as the source for this story, it seems more likely that it is Dante's guide Virgil, who names Semiramis as a sinner in Canto V, verses 52–72 of the Inferno. The story of Semiramis and her building of the brick walls was common throughout the Middle Ages. In his Metamorphoses, Ovid refers to it in passing when describing Pyramus and Thisbe: "Pyramus et Thisbe, iuvenum pulcherrimus alter, / Altera, quas Oriens habuit, praelata puellis, / Contiguas tenuere domos, ubi dicitur altam / Coctilibus muris cinxisse Semiramis urbem" ["Pyramus and Thisbe — he, the most beautiful youth, and she, loveliest maid of all the East — dwelt in houses side by side, in the city which Semiramis is said to have surrounded with walls of brick"]. See Metamorphoses, 1:182 and 183. It also appears in Justinus' History of Trogus Pompeius, Book 1, chapter 2.7 (Justin, Epitome, p. 15).
68–69 And Plato sayth that the comyn thynges and the cytees ben blessyd whan they ben governed by wyse men, or whan the governours studye in wysedom. From Valerius, Memorable Doings and Sayings, Book 7.2, ext. 4 (2:118 and 119).
86–95 Alas, what habundaunce was somme tymes in the royames. . . . And noblesse of lignage wythout puyssaunce and myght is but vanyté and dyspyte. This section is added by Caxton.
231 For Dyna, Jacob's doughter. The story of Dinah appears in Genesis 34.
234–35 Seneka sayth that the women that have evyl vysages ben gladly not chaste, but theyr corage desyreth gladly the companye of men. I have not been able to locate a source for this saying.
236–37 And Solinus sayth that no bestys femeles desire to be touched of their males whan they have conceyvyd. This is from Pliny's Natural History, Book 7, chapter 11. See Natural History, 2:536–39.
238 Sidrac. Sidrak, the wise Jew, counsels and converts Bokkus with his questions and exemplary discussions. On women's sexuality, desire, pleasure in love, pregnancy, and (un)controllability, see Sidrak and Bokkus, pp. 260–63.
243–47 And Ovyde sayth that there ben somme that, how wel that they eschewe the dede. This quote comes from Ovid's Art of Love, Book 1, line 345: "Quae dant quaeque negant, gaudent tamen esse rogatae" ["And, grant they or deny, yet they are pleased to be asked" (pp. 36 and 37)]. In the Liber Jacobus adds Book 1, poem 8, line 43 of the Amores: "Ludunt formosae: casta est quam nemo rogavit" ["Enjoy yourselves, beautiful ones: she is chaste whom no one has pursued"].
335 And this was doon whan Cirus, kyng of Perse, and Darius, kyng of Medes. This scriptural example comes from Daniel 5:30.
374 as we have in the historye of Davyd, that was made kyng. The story of David is narrated in 1 Kings 16–31, 2 Kings, and 3 Kings 1–2.
377 as of Gyges, whiche was right riche of landes and of richessis. The story of Gyges and his riches is found in Valerius, Memorable Doings and Sayings, Book 7.1.2 (2:106 and 107). It appears in a modified form in Book 3, chapter 9.38 of Cicero's De officiis (pp. 304–07), and Pliny's Natural History, Book 7, chapter 46 (2:606 and 607).
388–89 Virgyle, that was borne in Lombardye of the nacion of Mantua and was of lowe and symple lignage. This is a modified version of what appears in Macrobius' Saturnalia Book 5, chapter 3.16. In this instance, Virgil is described in the third person and is compared to stealing the club from Hercules. See Saturnalia, pp. 292–93.
BOOK FOUR: TEXTUAL NOTES
76 For. Caxton has "For for" here.
162 attributed. The text reads attribued.
Title, chapter 3 third. Although this is the third chapter of Book Four, the word "seconde" appears in both printings.
390 poyntes. In the first edition Caxton uses the word "poetes" here, which makes more sense.
401–02 thre [of] the. The text reads thre the.