Back to top

27. Judgment


1 With a sword

2 After line 364: Fragments of words, / Tutivillus collects those; / Beelzabub [collects] chills, / Belial, belly-ache (see note)

3 Lines 415–16: The devil is a liar / and the father of lies (John 8:44)

4 With their inventions (Psalm 105/106:39)

5 Lines 441–42: And you have made it / a den of thieves (Matthew 21:13)

6 Lines 558–59: He indeed who [does] evil, into eternal fire (see note)

7 Then he stretches out his hands and shows them his wounds

8 Then turning himself toward the good [souls] he says to them

9 Then he should say to the bad [souls]

10 Then he should say to the good [souls]

11 Then he should say to the bad [souls]

12 Here ends the judgment


Abbreviations: Chester: The Chester Mystery Cycle, ed. Lumiansky and Mills (1974); CT: The Canterbury Tales, ed. Benson (1987); DSL: Dictionary of the Scots Language; Elliott: The Apocryphal New Testament, ed. Elliott; EP: The Towneley plays, ed. England and Pollard (1897); MED: Middle English Dictionary; MS: Huntington MS HM 1 (“the Towneley manuscript”); N-Town: The N-Town Plays, ed. Sugano (2007); OED: Oxford English Dictionary; REED: Records of Early English Drama; SC: The Towneley Plays, eds. Stevens and Cawley (1994); s.d.: stage direction; Whiting: Whiting, Proverbs, Sentences, and Proverbial Phrases; York: The York Corpus Christi Plays, ed. Davidson (2011).

The first of the Towneley plays to be edited in full for a modern audience, by Francis Douce on behalf of owner Peregrine Edward Towneley for the Roxburghe Club in 1822, the Judgment play appears to be an adaptation and extension of its York counterpart, with which it shares entire passages almost verbatim. As noted in the Introduction, p. 14, this borrowing might possibly relate to a 1454 agreement between the York Mercers and a group of men headed by one Robert Hewyk, the parish clerk of Leeds, concerning production of the guild’s Judgment pageant (see REED: York, p. 87, pp. 763–64). In any case, the Towneley play includes speeches, verse forms, and characters that are not present in York, including lengthy dialogue between Tutivillus and two other demons, written in the 13-line “bob and wheel” stanza (lines 131–559 and 706–822). Thanks to the similarities, however, the York text may give a good sense as to what is lost from the beginning of the Towneley play due to missing leaves. The York Doomsday pageant, written entirely in 8-line stanzas, opens with a ten stanza (80 line) monologue by God (much like Chester, but not N-Town — see note to line 115 below), followed by full-stanza speeches by two angels and two good souls; the first bad soul then speaks for four stanzas before the three-stanza speech by the second bad soul, which closely resembles that of Bad Soul 3 here, lines 27–50. The eight-stanza speech (in a variant 8-line form) by Towneley’s Bad Soul 4 has no parallel in York, but the angelic speech that follows is again from York (see note to line 115), as is the speech by Jesus immediately after that, although the parallel stanza in York is not only slightly different in wording, but also part of a longer speech. In total, roughly a fifth of the extant Towneley play (174 out of 830 lines) is parallel in phrasing to the York pageant, which though complete is also much shorter (380 lines).

Other documents pertaining to the York Doomsday pageant may or may not be relevant here. The 1433 Mercers’ Indenture (see REED: York, pp. 55–56) famously lists the stage properties used in their production at that time (nearly half a century prior to the registration of the text itself); at least some of those props might be required here (but see note to line 124 below). It may be significant that the description of the York pageant in the 1415 Ordo paginarum refers to four good souls and four bad souls, as are present in Towneley but not in the extant York text; however, that same description calls for six devils, along with characters such as Mary (who has no speaking role in either play as it stands) and twelve apostles (only two of whom speak in York). Moreover, the lines assigned to Towneley’s second and fourth bad souls differ in form as well as content from anything in the York pageant. The relationship between the plays remains mysterious. However, particularly given the sheer length of the piece, which now gives significantly less stage time to the forces (and rewards) of heaven than to Tutivillus and his fellow demons (entirely in the added “bob and wheel” stanzas), it appears that the Towneley play was (re-)designed for stand-alone rather sequential production. The focus here is more on the representation of worldly sin than on the end of the world as in the York original, which adheres fairly closely to the representation of the last judgment as given in Matthew 25:31–46.

1 Full darfe. The word derf can mean “bold” or “brave” but here refers to audacious wickedness. The speech of Bad Soul 2 (five quatrains along with one 6-line stanza that matches in form the first stanza spoken by the fourth bad soul, 51–56) has no counterpart in York.

5–6 Alas, I harde that horne / That callys us to the dome. At least one angel has blown a trumpet in the first, missing portion of the play, calling the dead to judgment; see 1 Thessalonians 4:16–17, and York 47.65: “Aungellis, blawes youre bemys.”

7–8 All that ever were borne / Thider behofys theym com. That is, all humanity, alive or dead, is required come to the place of judgment. The good souls have evidently arisen from their graves or tombs and have spoken their lines, as has the first bad soul.

33–34 Bot oft-tymes maide we sacrifice / To Sathanas when othere can slepe. The bad soul confesses to having taken part in satanic rituals — the Witches’ Sabbath (often described and evoked, although no evidence exists to suggest that such events actually ever took place). These lines, like the rest of this speech by Bad Soul 3, closely parallel the opening speech by the second bad soul in York (47.145–68).

36–38 Oure wykyd warkys . . . . will us soroo on ilka syde. The souls carry their deeds on their backs, in written form. The account of judgment in Apocalypse 20:12 refers both to the Book of Life in which the names of the saved are recorded, and to other books in which the deeds of individuals have been written. Later in this play, Tutivillus (“the recording demon” — see note to line 300 below) and the other two demons will sort through their bagfuls of “briefs” (see note to line 210 below) on which are registered the sins of individuals.

97 With myself sore may I grise. That is, I may shudder with horror at myself, for my sins.

107–13 Wo worth ever the fader . . . . That I was borne. Bad Soul 4, responds to recognition of his own sinful life by cursing his birth and his parents (see MED warien (v.), sense 1d, which cites these lines). However, in so doing he exhibits despair, a refusal of the possibility of grace and forgiveness, which is itself a damnable sin (see the notes to 2.361–64, 22.334–36, and 23.311–24). The phrase “bene forlorne” (line 110) here means “perished;” the same phrase, significantly in this context, can mean “been damned” (see MED forlesen (v.), sense 3).

115 Stand not togeder; parte in two. The Angel who divides the good souls from the bad is armed with a sword, and represents the Archangel Michael, who is typically associated with the Last Judgment. Both Michael and Gabriel explicitly appear alongside Jesus in the N-Town Judgment pageant, where Michael speaks the opening lines (42.1). Both likely appear in this play as well: the complete text would almost certainly have included a part for a second Angel although only the first speaks in the extant portion; the equivalent speech in York (47.169–76) is assigned to a third angel.

123 The tyme is commen I will make ende. A virtually identical line ends a stanza assigned to God in the York Doomsday, just prior to God’s calling the angels to blow their trumpets (47.64); however, the rest of this stanza resembles the one in York (47.178–84) that, like this, immediately follows the angel’s separation of the good souls from the bad (York 47.76–80) — see notes to line 115 above, and to 124 below.

124 My Fader of heven will it so be. In York, both this speech (which is notably longer and concludes in a dialogue with two apostles; see York 47.177–216) and the play’s opening lines, spoken by God the Father (as is clear from his reference to the Son, York 47.27), are assigned to Deus (God), apparently played by a single actor; the actor would simply remove the mask he wears as the Father (“a diademe With a veserne [mask] gilted” according to the Mercers’ Indenture, REED: York p. 55, line 29) in order to represent the (human) Son, neatly demonstrating that the two are one (see John 10:30). No such doubling is apparent in this play as it stands, given the speech heading of Jesus used here; it cannot now be known whether the opening included a speech by another actor playing God the Father.

131–32 Oute haro . . . Harkyn to this horne. For other instances of the phrase “out, harrow” see 2.277 (and note) and 7.b.74. The angelic trumpet call has awakened the dead and alerted hell’s forces; SC presume a second trumpet blast occurs just prior to these lines (see p. 637n130 f.) although the demons speak largely in the past tense regarding their reaction to the sound. Dialogue between the demons occupies the bulk of this play, whereas the York Doomsday includes only a brief exchange between three devils (47.217–28; four additional lines, likely assigned to a fourth, are missing), at roughly this same point; the York pageant then cuts immediately to the next, more lengthy speech by “Deus” (who speaks both as Father and as Son in York), which in Towneley starts at line 560.

140–41 I was bonde full fast / In yrens for to last. This line might seem to associate the first demon with Satan himself, bound in chains after the harrowing of hell; see Apocalypse 20:1–3 and the note to 22.367–68. However, according to Jude 1:6, “the angels who kept not their principality, but forsook their own habitation, he hath reserved under darkness in everlasting chains, unto the judgment of the great day.”

146–47 I qwoke / For all that I lerd. That is, I quaked for fear when I learned, by hearing the trumpet, that this is the day of judgment.

161 There I stode on my stumpe. That is, where I stood; “stump” is a jocular term for a leg. See MED stumpe (n.), sense b, which cites this line.

174–77 It sittys you to tente . . . . What case so befell. That is, it would be best for you to pay attention in order to discuss this matter like a peer in Parliament, whatever might happen. The second demon, apparently the younger (see note to lines 715–16 below), uses the more formal “you” when addressing the first, who uses the familiar “thou” in response (see line 184). The second also addresses the first as his master at line 250.

180 What draght so be drawne. Whatever draught is drawn — that is, whatever happens. See also lines 298–99. The phrase comes from a chess term; see MED drauen (v.), sense 2a(e).

186 Watlyn strete. While SC and others have referred to this line as evidence of a Wakefield connection (see SC p. 637n186), Watling Street was the name of several Roman roads that ran across various parts of England, most notably between Wroxeter and Dover via London, but also through part of North Yorkshire, and from Manchester north through Lancashire, indeed, not far from Whalley or Towneley Hall.

196 Bot fast take oure rentals. That is, our written records or accounts (see MED rental (n.)) of sins committed; see also the note to lines 36–38 above.

198–99 For as this fals / The great sentence. That is, judgment will be dealt out according to this — the record of sins (see note to line 196 above).

200 Thai ar here in my dals. The only attestations in the MED for dal (n.) meaning “hand,” come from the Towneley MS — here and at line 273, and in the second Shepherds play, 9.1059 (see note).

208 Of pride and of lust. This line explicitly names two of the traditional seven deadly sins, the others being wrath, envy, covetousness, gluttony, and sloth; see the note to lines 443–46, below, as well as 3.75–77 and note. Pride is mentioned almost immediately again, at line 220, and is implicated throughout much of the demons’ conversation, most particular in relation to clothing (being explicitly mentioned again in lines 345, 382); see also line 670.

209 Of wraggers and wrears. See note to 8.85.

210 A bag full of brefes. See note to lines 36–38 above. These briefs (also line 328) — lists or registers of individual sins — are also referred to as books (line 206) and bills (line 224), but mostly as rolls (lines 238, 269, 326, 553), and would likely be represented as lengthy, densely written parchment rolls kept in bags.

212–13 Of mychers and thefes, / Of lurdans and lyars. These same pairings are repeated in lines 521–22. The term mitcher can refer to a thief as well as to a sneak or loiterer. See OED mitcher (n.), senses 1 and 2.

216 renderars of reffys. The meaning of “renderer” here is unclear. The MED doubtfully glosses this same phrase — the sole entry under renderer (n.) — as “a bail bondsman associated with a sheriff or other municipal official” or “one who reports crimes to a sheriff or to a reeve” — that is, an informant. However, it could refer to those who commit robbery, or whose predation serves someone else, such as those who collect exorbitant taxes. See also line 238 and note.

217–21 This can I . . . . Twenty so many. That is, I know this concerning all ranks of people that pass by; I know twenty times as many whose sin is wretched pride, which God hates. The latter sinners would doubtless include the demons themselves as fallen angels — one source for the other demon’s laughter (see line 223). But the first demon’s listing of sins would likely also be accompanied by comic gestures.

227–28 thai wold synke / Thare foes in a fyere still. They would invariably push their enemies into a fire — that is, see to their destruction.

231–33 Bot before hym . . . . he mase hym. That is, if he should praise him to his face, he would also slander him behind his back, and thus confuse him with duplicity.

238 Of rolles for to render. The verb “render” here could mean either to read or to deliver up (see line 216 and note), but the sense — and the misogynist sentiment, made still more obvious in the lines that follow — is clear either way: women’s sins are innumerable.

243–44 Yll fetyld, / She that is most meke. SC gloss fetyld as “ill-tempered” (p. 638n243), in evident contradiction of the meekness likewise asserted in these lines, but the term here means “shaped” (see MED fetlen (v.)) — that is, ‘properly’ meek women are inevitably ill-shaped or unattractive.

265–68 Now gett we dowbill store . . . . Both sam to be harrid. Now we shall get twice as many dead bodies (see MED miscarien (v.), sense 1a) as we had souls there — that is, in hell — to be harried or molested. All the souls that left hell (see lines 170–71) join their resurrected bodies when summoned for judgment, doubling the demons’ body count, however temporarily.

270–71 bakbytars . . . And fals quest-dytars. That is, slanderers and those who falsely arrange or testify at a trial or inquest. See 17.36–39 and 19.23–26 and notes regarding similar terms likewise used in 13-line “bob and wheel” stanzas.

298–99 Bot if this draght be well drawen, / Don is in the myre. That is, unless this move is well-made (see line 180 and note), we are stuck. The second phrase, “Don is in the myre,” is proverbial (see Whiting D434). Dun is a typical name for a horse.

300 Tutivillus. “The recording demon” was associated with keeping accounts of sins, particularly minor verbal sins such as mumbling services and idle chatter in church (see line 430), and is often represented holding or writing on a scroll. While the origins of his name are obscure, they are likely rooted in a phrase from Plautus referring to a titivillitio or small trifle (see Jennings, Tutivillus, pp. 37–38). Here, however, much like Titivillus in the play of Mankind, he has greater scope in his collection of sins and sinners. On the other hand, the role here appears to have been intended for a young actor — see lines 337–38 and note.

306 Now thou art myn awne querestur. By referring to Tutivillus as his chorister — one who sings in response to him — the demon claims him as his follower.

310 And sithen courte rollar. That is, he has since served as keeper of the court rolls or records.

311 master Lollar. The Lollards, associated with the reformist teachings of John Wyclif, were considered heretical by the established church. They looked to scripture, which they believed should be available in the vernacular; most importantly, they did not believe in transubstantiation, by which the Eucharistic host becomes the true body and blood of Christ while retaining the appearance of bread. The name, though, appears to derive from a Dutch word for one who mumbles, linking them to Tutivillus in his primary role as collector of verbal sins (see note to line 300 above). On the other hand, Jennings (Tutivillus, p. 60) argues that the term here refers less to the historical Lollards (whose beliefs are not, after all, referred to in what follows) than to idlers — those who loll about. See OED Lollard (n.), sense 2.

318 som of ferray. The phrase “of foray” means to be on a foray or a raid — a hostile incursion of some sort, in contrast to sitting at an alehouse (line 317).

319–20 Som cursid, som bande, / Som yei, som nay. The verbs to curse and to ban mean roughly the same thing, but are frequently paired like this. The yay/nay pairing here effectively means “some came willingly, while others did not.”

321–22 So many / Thus broght I on blure. Thus I brought many to grief. The term “blure” literally refers to bloating or blistering (see OED blure (n.)), here referred to ironically as a “cure” (line 323); see 6.306, where the plague of flies is said to “make grete blowre” (“makis mekill blure” in York 11.294).

326–27 Here a roll of ragman / Of the rownde tabill. While “ragman” is itself a term for a devil (see the note to 1.137), a Ragman roll is “a document recording accusations or offenses” (see MED rag(e-man (n.), sense 1b) — that is, one of the “briefs” that this devil carries in his bag (see line 328 and the note to line 210 above). It is also the name of a specific historical “collection of instruments of homage and fealty made in 1291 by which the nobility and gentry of Scotland pledged allegiance to Edward I” (MED rag(e-man (n.), sense 2d)), so named because of the many dangling strips to which individual seals were attached. But here it is associated with the Round Table of Arthurian legend.

330–32 Unethes may I wag . . . . Whils I set my stag, man. These lines may indicate that Tutivillus has entered riding a horse, giving additional force to the proverbial reference to a horse in the line just prior to his entrance; however, the horse (or “stag”) and stable may be imaginary, like Cain’s team of animals or the flock of sheep in the Shepherds plays.

333–34 ye ar abill / To take wage. That is, you have earned your wages.

336 Bot lay downe the dewe. That is, lay down the list of accounts of human sins that are due for judgment.

337–38 thou will be a shrew / Be thou com at age. These lines seem to indicate that the role of Tutivillus was to be played by a boy rather than by an adult actor (see also the note to lines 300 and lines 358–59), despite his claims to extensive experience (as in lines 309–11); also see the note to lines 715–16.

339–40 Here have I be gesse / Of many nyce hoket. That is, I guess that I have many nice tricks here. He goes on to cite examples of the sins he has collected. The first of these lines has been emended to include a verb (have; see Textual Note); given the repetition of the rhymeword “hoket,” it is possible that the final word here was miscopied and that these lines should be emended differently.

343–51 Gay gere and witles . . . . And his barnes bredeles. Tutivillus describes not one but many men of a particular type (as suggested by the use of the plural “their” in line 348), the focus here being on wasteful extravagance — fashionable headgear on a foolish head, ample sleeves with no purse to hide within, and fancy shoes, even if it means that their children go hungry.

352 A horne and a Duch ax. “Dutch” here means “German” (Deutsch); both items here are fashionable accessories.

358–59 Thou art best on thi wax / That ever was clekyt. That is, for your size or age, you are the best ever born. See note to lines 337–38 above.

After 364 Fragmina verborum . . . . belium doliorum. The last phrase here appears to be a mock-Latin reference to belly-aches, “belium” being Latin only in form, and dolorum being the genitive plural form of dolor, meaning pain or suffering. However, these extrametrical Latin lines begin with an oft-quoted line that appears in a late thirteenth-century work on penitence by John of Wales (see Jennings, Tutivillus, p. 16); the Roxburghe Club edition of this play cites an early fifteenth-century poem in which the same line follows a more extensive description of Tutivillus’ targets, translated there as “Prating minstrels, jesters, nappers that sleep when they should sing, gapers or yawners, fellows who draw out and improperly lengthen their tones [and] skippers of words” (Douce, Judicium, pp. 26–27).

369–70 Of femallys a quantité / Here fynde I parte. That is, here I find something concerning many women.

372 Godys forbot thou sparté. That is, God forbid that you should spare it — telling us the part about women.

378 If she be never so fowll a dowde. That is, even if she is exceedingly unattractive — the word “dowd” (as in dowdy) being applied almost exclusively to women. See MED doude (n.).

382 She can make it full prowde. That is, she can make herself look splendid. The focus of this stanza is on older women who cunningly hide their flaws.

391–94 She is hornyd like a kowe . . . . Furrid with a cat skyn. The fashionable woman wears an elaborate headdress that looks like horns, and her collar is long and covered with the fur of a cat, mimicking something more expensive. According to Mendal G. Frampton (“The Date,” pp. 632–44), the fashions described here and throughout this play (see especially lines 419–20 and 458–59) suggest a date of composition toward the mid-fifteenth century, a century or more prior to the Towneley manuscript itself.

396 Thai ar commen of youre kyn. They are descended from your kind — that is, devils.

403 breke thare awne spowsage. They — that is, men attracted to these falsely attractive women — commit adultery, breaking both their marriage vows and the sixth commandment (Exodus 20:14).

406 fals swerars. That is, those who violate the eighth commandment against bearing false witness (Exodus 20:16).

408–09 In sweryng . . . more and more. These lines refer to the widespread idea that swearing, particularly by various parts of the body of Jesus (see note to 12.168), subjected him to further torture.

414 gederars of greyn wax. That is, those who collect fines and other revenue on behalf of the king’s Exchequer, whose documents were sealed with green wax.

419–20 Of prankyd gownes . . . flokkys sewyd wythin. Pleated gowns with padded shoulders (using moss and cotton wads — the “pillows” of line 423) were fashionable for men by about 1440, during the reign of Henry VI; see note to lines 391–94 above.

441–42 Et eam fecistis / Speluncam latronum. These lines quote Jesus’ expulsion of the moneylenders from the temple in Matthew 21:13; Tutivillus claims authority over those who similarly sin in church.

443-46 Yit of the synnes seven . . . . That renys over all. Of the seven deadly sins, the first — named at line 208 (see note, above) and emblematized in this stanza — is pride. The others are lust (also named at line 208), envy (named at line 482), wrath or ire (lines 92, 224, 295, 482), covetousness (lines 29, 91 and 484; also called avarice or greed, see line 768), gluttony (line 484), and sloth (line 495). See also 3.75–77 and note.

449–51 At ee to be even / Purturd in pall / As kyngys. That is, they appear to be equal to kings, adorned with fine scarlet robes.

452 May he dug hym a doket. The meaning of this line is obscure. SC p. 641n452–5 follow the MED, which doubtfully defines doket (n.) as meaning “rag” on the basis of this line alone, and defines the otherwise unattested dug as “to cut out (a rag for sb.),” further suggesting that “he” here refers to the devil. As the MED definition might suggest, “dug” here is likely a variation on (or error for) the verb daggen, referring to the fashionable slashing of fabric for decoration — more specifically, in the mid-fifteenth century, the bottom edges of a garment, into points that were themselves termed “dags” (see MED dagge (n.1)). A more obvious meaning for “doket” here, then, would derive from dock (see OED dock (n.2) and MED dok (n.)) as referring to a (short) tail, anticipating line 455 with its sexual innuendo, following the reference to the codpiece in line 453 (see the following note).

453–55 A kodpese like a pokett . . . . when he wryngys. The codpiece came into fashion in the fifteenth century as upper garments for men grew shorter, exposing the gap between the shirt and the hose. Codpieces (“cod” being a word for a pillow — see 8.33 — as well as for a bag, or for the scrotum) did indeed serve as pockets or purses, as alluded to in lines 454–55, becoming ostentatious signs of pride rather than modest coverings; the stuffing (and other decoration) could also render access to the “tail” difficult — no “hoket,” or easy trick (see MED hoket (n.), and lines 340 and 342). The final phrase here could also refer to urination — a figurative wringing out of his tail.

457 walk-mylne cloggys. Workers at a waulk or fulling mill wore wooden clogs for the purpose of cleaning and felting wool. The allusion here is to the visibility of separate buttocks due to pieced hose and fashionably short upper garments.

458–59 His hede is like a stowke / Hurlyd as hoggys. That is, his hair is like a stook (sheaves of grain; see MED stouk(e (n.)); it is bristled like a hog’s. Short cropped hair was popular throughout the fifteenth century, but particularly 1430–40 (see Frampton, “The Date,” pp. 641–42, and note to lines 391–94 above).

460–61 A woll-blawen bowke / Thise fryggys as froggys. A well-inflated belly, these fidget like frogs. This appears to be the earliest attestation for the verb “to frig,” which can also mean to rub or — at least in later usage — to engage in sexual intercourse; see OED frig (v.), sense 3.

462–64 This Jelian Jowke . . . . To felter. To jouk is to lie asleep or at rest (see MED jouken); thus “Julian Jouk” (see also “This Gill knave,” line 477) would serve as a nickname for a lazy man, who would have little interest in driving dogs together to “felter” in any sense — that is, either to fight or to copulate. See MED filteren (v.), sense a, which cites this line. The use of second-person pronouns in the four lines that follow may indicate that Tutivillus goes on to address a specific member of the audience (blond — “with youre yolow lokkys,” line 465) as an exemplar of such laziness.

471–72 Tent well youre twyfyls / Youre nek abowte as mylke. The phrase “as milk” refers to the whiteness of Nell’s skin; “twyfyls” is otherwise unattested and obscure (see MED twifil). If not simply an error for “trifles,” it would seem to refer to “twofold” braids or ribbons, or some other form of decoration worn around the neck. Again (see previous note), the use of second-person pronouns may indicate that Tutivillus is addressing a specific member of the audience, this time female.

473–77 With youre bendys and youre bridyls . . . . This Gill knave. That is, with your ribbons and other trifles that are the bridles of Satan, the means by which Satan controls you and makes you idle for the likes of this knave, Gill (or Julian, see line 462), specifically to tempt him into sloth and lust. Line 475 is the sole cited instance of “idle” as a verb in the MED (idelen), where it is glossed doubtfully as “?to make (sb.) vain; ?make (sb.) empty or worthless.”

478 It is open behynde. That is, Nell’s smock, which the wind can blow open (see line 481).

491 hawvell and jawvell. “Havel” and “javel” are frequently paired, and sometimes capitalized as nicknames, both referring to worthless fellows or rascals, often with an additional sense of brawlers or jabbering gossips (the related word “chavel” meaning to chatter idly or wag the jaws). See OED havel and chavel.

492 Syngyng of lawvell. That is, singing drinking songs. A lavel is a bowl or drinking cup; see MED lavel, which cites this line.

506–07 Bot thar hym not lang it / What commys therafter. That is, he need not long for the service that follows the ringing of the bells, given his sinful condition.

508 ye Janettys of the stewys. The name Janet, a diminutive of Jane, is used here as a term for prostitutes.

513 I shall you set softe. That is, I shall place you softly — ironic, given that he is to place them in hell. Softness was associated with sloth but also with lust, in part due to Saint Paul’s condemnation in 1 Corinthians 6:9–10 of what the Vulgate translation calls molles (“soft ones” — often translated as “the effeminate”) along with adulterers.

515 Com to my crofte. A croft is a small enclosed field, usually adjacent to a home, but ostensibly here refers to a section of hell. See MED croft (n.), sense 1c, which cites this line.

520 Welcom to my see. A see is the abode or seat of authority — normally the seat of a bishop or ruler.

521–22 Ye lurdans and lyars / Mychers and thefes. See lines 212–13 and note.

527–29 usurars . . . . To tell. To tell is to count or to be counted — an appropriate ambiguity given that he is referring to his enumeration of usurers, who lend money at interest, and who commit simony, the sale of sacred, ostensibly unsellable things; see 14.167 and note.

549–50 When I will, may I go / If thou be by. That is, if you (the second demon) are with me, I can go.

559 In ignem eternum. This Latin line quotes Matthew 25:41, where the damned are sent to hell, “into everlasting fire.”

560–705 Ilka creatoure take tente . . . . Sathanas the feynde. In this speech by Jesus, correspondence with the York text resumes (see York 47.229–372, though with some alterations noted below). York’s final stanza, also spoken by Jesus, has no equivalent here, although this play ends with an 8-line stanza typical of York, attributed to one of the good souls; see lines 823–30 and note.

573 Of joy. The equivalent line at York 47.242 reads “Of ire” (not cancelled but apparently corrected in the MS to “care”), which is consistent with the negative terms that follow, rather than opposed to them.

578 hande and syde. The York text (47.247) has the alliterative pairing of “hande” and “hide” (skin), and so avoids the duplication of the rhyme-word “syde.”

585 Also ther full throly was I thrett. The equivalent line in York begins “As theffe . . .” (York 47.254), instead of with “Also ther.”

589 A spere unto my harte thai sett. The York text refers to “This spere” (York 47.258), implying the presence of a specific stage property.

601 thus behovid thee borud to be. That is, you needed to be ransomed in this way.

608-705 Mi blissid barnes . . . . sit bi Sathanas the feynde. This section of the play, largely from York, is based on Matthew 25:34–46. The good deeds for which Jesus praises the good souls (and for lack of which he damns the bad) constitute six of the seven traditional corporeal acts of mercy, namely, to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, and visit the imprisoned; the seventh, based on Tobias 1:20–21, is to bury the dead.

638 When had thou nede of oure fordede. A “fordeed” is something done for or on behalf of someone else, like the corporeal acts of mercy (see the previous note, and MED fore-dede (n.)).

671 Mi flesh, my bloode, ye oft forswore. That is, they did not attend mass to receive the Eucharist.

673-74 yode I nakyd, / Mi myschefe sagh ye. The Towneley text is missing two lines between these two. See York 47.343–44: “House ne herborow, helpe ne holde / Hadde I none of you, thof I quaked.” The reference to “harbor” or shelter is echoed in line 681 (as in York 47.352).

686-89 Alas . . . . I not avoyde. This four line stanza, which effectively interrupts the dialogue, separating the questions of the other bad souls from the response by Jesus, has no equivalent in York.

687 Alas, that ever I it abode. That is, alas that I ever saw this day come.

712 Hyte, hyderwarde, ho. Hyte and ho are conventional cries to urge an animal forward (see 2.57 and note).

713 Harry Ruskyne. This appears to be the name of the first demon. “Old Harry” was a common name for the Devil in northern England, at least in later centuries (see OED Harry (n.2), sense 4), while “ruskin” is a term for the red fur of a squirrel, suggesting that the demon wears a furred garment as costume.

715-16 The meyn shall ye nebyll, / And I shall syng the trebill. The second demon tells the first to “nibble” — that is, to attempt to sing — the mean (or middle voice) while he takes the higher part as they sing in harmony. Singing treble normally suggests a boy’s part (see 9.270–72), which could mean that both the second demon and Tutivillus are played by boy actors (see the note to lines 337–38 above). On the other hand it is possible that these lines constitute a joking reference to other, more diabolical noises rather than to actual song.

717-18 Arevant the devill / Till all this hole rowte. The MED (revant (n.)) suggests that the original MS reading (A revant) involves a scribal error for tenour (n., sense 3), so that Tutivillus is to take the tenor part and sing with the two Demons, who take the (higher) mean and treble parts (see lines 715–16). SC argue instead that the otherwise unattested and obscure term Arevant is a form of the verb “to arrive” meaning “to bring” (OED arrive (v.), sense 4) — that is, they will sing, bringing the devil Tutivillus to the company of bad souls (SC p. 644n717), although of course they also bring themselves, and bring those souls to the devil in hell. The phrase could possibly name the song they are to sing, which would translate as “robbing the Devil” (see MED areven (v.)). It is also possible that the lines should be emended to read “A revenant the devill / Till, all this hole rowte” — that is, a returning to the devil of this whole company of bad souls, back to hell.

736-37 Gay gyrdyls, jaggid hode / Prankyd gownes, whedir. That is, where are your delightful belts, fashionably slashed hoods, and pleated gowns? For similar costume references, see notes to lines 419–20 and 452 above; however, this line implies that the bad souls are not thus dressed.

741 And youre synnes in youre nekkys. This line refers to the concept of “original sin,” the common inheritance of the sin of Adam and Eve, inherent in the flesh from birth, but with an allusion to sin as an offense worthy of hanging.

742-44 I beshrew thaym that rekkys / He comes to late that bekkys / Youre bodyes to borow. That is, I curse those who take pity on you; it is too late for anyone to offer (indicate a willingness) to ransom your bodies and save you from this punishment.

745-46 I wold cut thaym a skawte / And make theym be knawne. The word skawte is obscure but likely related to the Old Norse skaut, which can refer to a sheet or to the skirt of a garment. SC follow the MED in suggesting that the word here refers to a shroud, in contrast to the fine clothes these sinners once wore (p. 645n745). These lines would thus mean: I would cut a shroud for each of them, and let them be gnawed by worms (thus reading the last verb as a possible, if uncited, variation of MED gnauen (v.) — see SC p. 685 knawne) or perhaps by devils as in various medieval depictions of hell. However, a shroud seems redundant at this point, post-resurrection. More likely, “knawne” here means “known” in the sense of “revealed” or even “notorious” (see MED knouen (v.), sense 14), and the reference to the “skawte” is a mocking reference to the kind of fashion that is a sign of their sinfulness.

756-57 Bot now ar thai flemyd / From sayntys to recover. That is, all bad souls are now banished to hell, to take the place of the saintly souls who can no longer be kept there; see the note to lines 265–68, above.

754-55 Thare neghburs thai demyd / Thaymself as it semyd. That is, in judging others they have judged themselves; see Matthew 7:1–2.

777-79 It is commen in vowgard, / Youre Dame Malison / To bynde it. That is, your life of sin and your ill-gotten gains have preceded you to hell, awaiting your curse (while the curses of others against you await as well, as the next few lines suggest). A “malisoun” is a curse (see MED and OED malison), though here “Dame Malison” is a play on the common name of Alison.

782 prase at the partyng. The proverbial phrase “praise at the parting” means “save your praise until the departure” or the end of a performance (see line 8.385 and note), here referring not to praise, but to the curses laid upon sinners in life that now meet them in hell. See Whiting P39.

788 so falsly it falys. That is, lecherous and adulterous pleasures end falsely.

792 For moton. Mutton is of course the meat of a sheep, but also a slang term for ‘loose’ women and prostitutes. See OED mutton (n.), sense 4.

793-94 He that to that gam gose / Now namely on old tose. The MED glosses this last phrase as meaning simply “in old age,” but the lines also allude to what Chaucer refers to as “the olde daunce,” danced by the likes of the Wife of Bath (CT I[A] 476), old governesses (in the Physician’s Tale, CT VI[C] 79), and of course Pandarus (in Troilus and Cressida 3.694–95); “that gam” (see MED game (n.), senses 1 and 2d) is played or danced on old — that is experienced — toes (see MED olde (adj.), senses 1c and 5d). Yet the association of lechery with old age, here as in Chaucer, also ties in with reference to women as “mutton” (line 792 and note) — old sheep, as opposed to young lamb — and may have additional force onstage if both Tutivillus and the second demon are played by actors notably younger than the first demon (see note to lines 337–38 above) and possibly much of the audience.

809 A mese of ill ostre. The term “ostre” here is also a pun on hostelry (see MED hostri(e) — the lodging in hell will make the souls as sick as eating bad oysters would do.

812 Blaw wolfys-hede and oute-horne. The same two terms, referring to raising an outcry in pursuit of an outlaw, are also used in the Buffeting (see 18.202 and note).

814 Illa-haill were ye borne. See 18.196 and the note above to 27.812 regarding another repetition from the same stanza in the Buffeting; “illa-hail” is also found in the Pharaoh play (6.258), borrowed from York (11.245[b]).

343 We love thee . . . . With Te Deum laudamus. This 8-line stanza resembles in form those of the York play, which ends with a speech by Jesus, extending by one stanza his speech at lines 690–705 here; his speech is then followed by a stage direction indicating that angels should sing an unspecified melody. This speech by the first good soul, with a clear direction to sing the well-known Te Deum laudamus (see 22.416 and note), could well have formed the original ending to the York play as well, following the speech by “Deus” (see note to line 131–32, above).


The edition by Stevens and Cawley for the Early English Text Society, along with the facsimile edition that they likewise co-edited, remains the chief source for analysis of the Towneley manuscript and its various textual annotations, corrections, marginalia, and other particularities. Unlike theirs, the current edition makes no note of most minor corrections, such as an obviously misplaced and crossed-out letter before a correctly written word, except where these might potentially affect understanding of the established text.

Abbreviations: EP: The Towneley Plays, ed. England and Pollard (EETS, 1897); Facs: The Towneley Cycle: A Facsimile of Huntington MS HM 1, ed. Cawley and Stevens; MED: Middle English Dictionary; MS: Huntington MS HM 1 (base text); SC: The Towneley Plays, ed. Stevens and Cawley (EETS, 1994); s.d.: stage direction; Surtees: The Towneley Mysteries, ed. Raine; York: The York Corpus Christi Plays, ed. Davidson (2011).

37 on oure. MS: oure on with short double strokes above the o in each word to indicate the transposition.

98 am I quyt. So SC. MS: am quyt.

114, s.d. Cum gladio. While other editions place this descriptive stage direction after the speech heading (including Douce’s 1822 Roxburghe Club transcription — see Judicium, p. iii), these two words are written above (and likely added after) the speech heading (primus angelus or Angel 1).

155 all. MS: written in a different hand over erasure.

157 to. MS: written in a different hand over erasure.

287 tokyn. So SC. MS: to kon.

315 ten thowsand. So EP. SC: x ml. MS: Xml.

339 Here have I be gesse. MS: Here I be gesse, emended for sense and rhythm. (See Explanatory Note to lines 339–40.)

407 thowsand. So EP. MS: >i.

426 David in his sawtere says thus. MS: Yit of thise kyrkchaterars (anticipating line 430) crossed out before this line.

443 seven. So EP. MS: vij.

450 Purturd. So SC. EP: pictured. MS: puturd (d with flourish possibly signifying final e).

575, s.d. vulnera. SC: wulnera. MS: Wlnera.

636 Good Soul 3 (speech heading). MS: just below the speech heading (Tercius bonus) is a >i, crossed out in red.

678 Bad Soul 1 (speech heading). MS: the speech heading is wrongly cued to the following line.

688 am I dampned. MS: I inserted above line in another hand.

701, s.d. Tunc dicet malis. MS: the Latin stage direction is added in a different hand.

703 hell. So EP, SC. MS: hall.

706 go furth go. So SC. MS: the final word is smudged and nearly illegible.

717 Arevant. So SC. MS: A revant. See Explanatory Note to lines 717–18.

743 comes. MS: a partial letter is before this word.

766 hart-sare. MS: the long s is written heavily over another letter.

777 in. MS: written over an erasure and badly smudged.

After 830 Explicit Judicium. MS: underneath this, which is written in red, a later hand has written Explicit iuditium in small black letters.


[fol. 122r]

















[fol. 122v]

















































[fol. 124r]

















[fol. 124v]































[fol. 125v]





























[fol. 126v]

















[fol. 127v]















[fol. 128r]



















[fol. 128v]













Bad Soul 1
Bad Soul 2
Bad Soul 3
Bad Soul 4
Angel 1
Demon 1
Demon 2
Good Soul 1
Good Soul 2
Good Soul 3
Good Soul 4


Full darfe has bene oure dede,
Forthi commen is oure care;
This day to take oure mede
For nothyng may we spare.

Alas, I harde that horne
That callys us to the dome.
All that ever were borne
Thider behofys theym com.

May nathere lande ne se
Us fro this dome hide;
For ferde fayn wold I fle,
Bot I must nedys abide.

Alas, I stande great aghe
To loke on that justyce;
Ther may no man of lagh
Help with no quantyce.

Vokettys, ten or twelfe,
May none help at this nede,
Bot ilk man for hisself
Shall answere for his dede.

Alas, that I was borne.
I se now me beforne
That Lorde with woundys fyfe:
How may I on hym loke
That falsly hym forsoke
When I led synfull lyfe?

Alas, carefull catyfys may we ryse;
Sore may we wryng oure handys and wepe.
For cursid and sore covytyse,
Dampnyd be we in hell full depe.
Roght we never of Godys servyce:
His commaundementys wold we not kepe,
Bot oft-tymes maide we sacrifice
To Sathanas when othere can slepe.

Alas, now wakyns all oure were.
Oure wykyd warkys can we not hide
Bot on oure bakys we must theym bere
That will us soroo on ilka syde.
Oure dedys this day will do us dere;
Oure domysman here we must abide,
And feyndys that will us felly fere
Thare pray to have us for thare pride.

Brymly before us be thai broght,
Oure dedys that shall dam us bidene,
That eyre has harde or harte thoght,
That mowthe has spokyn or ee sene,
That foote has gone or hande wroght
In any tyme that we may mene;
Full dere this day now bees it boght.
Alas, unborne then had I bene.

Alas, I am forlorne.
A spytus blast here blawes,
I harde well bi yonde horne;
I wote wherto it drawes.
I wold I were unborne.
Alas, that this day dawes.
Now mon be dampnyd this morne
My warkys, my dedys, my sawes.

Now bees my curstnes kyd;
Alas, I may not layn
All that ever I dyd,
It bees put up full playn
That I wold fayn were hyd:
My synfull wordys and vayn
Full new now mon be rekynyd
Up to me agayn.

Alas, fayn wold I fle
For dedys that I have done,
Bot that may now not be;
I must abide my boyn.
I trowed never to have sene
This dredfull day thus soyn.
Alas, what shall I say
When he sittys in his trone?

To se his woundys bledande,
This is a dulfull case.
Alas, how shall I stand
Or loke hym in the face?
So curtes I hym fand
That gaf me life so long a space;
Mi care is all command.
Alas, where was my grace?

Alas, catyffys unkynde,
Whereon was oure thoght?
Alas, whereon was oure mynde,
So wykyd warkys we wroght?
To se how he was pynde,
How dere oure luf he boght,
Alas, we were full blynde;
Now ar we wars then noght.

Alas, my covetyse,
Myn yll will, and myn ire;
Mi neghbur to dispise
Most was my desyre.
I demyd ever at my devyse;
Me thoght I had no peyre.
With myself sore may I grise,
Now am I quyt my hyre.

Where I was wonte to go
And have my wordys at will,
Now am I set full thro
And fayn to hold me still.
I went both to and fro;
Me thoght I did never ill
Mi neghburs for to slo
Or hurt withoutten skill.

Wo worth ever the fader
That gate me to be borne,
That ever he lete me stir,
Bot that I had bene forlorne.
Warid be my moder,
And warid be the morne
That I was borne of hir.
Alas, for shame and skorne.

Cum gladio, 1

Stand not togeder; parte in two.
All sam shall ye not be in blis;
Oure Lorde of heven will it be so,
For many of you has done amys.
On his right hande ye good shall go;
The way till heven he shall you wys.
Ye wykid saules, ye weynd hym fro
On his left hande as none of his.

The tyme is commen I will make ende;
My Fader of heven will it so be,
Therfor till erthe now will I weynde
Myself to sytt in majesté.
To dele my dome I will discende;
This body will I bere with me.
How it was dight, mans mys to amende,
All mans kynde ther shall it se.

Oute, haro — out, out!
Harkyn to this horne.
I was never in dowte
Or now at this morne;
So sturdy a showte
Sen that I was borne
Hard I never here abowte,
In ernyst ne in skorne —
A wonder.
I was bonde full fast
In yrens for to last,
Bot my bandys thai brast
And shoke all in sonder.

I shoterd and shoke,
I herd sich a rerd;
When I harde it, I qwoke
For all that I lerd,
Bot — to swere on a boke —
I durst not aperd;
I durst not loke
For all medill erd
Full payll,
Bot gyrned and gnast.
My force did I frast,
Bot I wroght all wast;
It myght not avayll.

It was like to a trumpe:
It had sich a sownde
I fell on a lumpe
For ferd that I swonde.
There I stode on my stumpe
I stakerd that stownde;
There chachid I the crumpe
Yit held I my grounde,
Halfe nome.
Make redy oure gere:
We ar like to have were,
For now dar I swere
That domysday is comme,

For all oure saules ar wente
And none ar in hell.
Bot we go we ar shente;
Let us not dwell.
It sittys you to tente
In this mater to mell
As a pere in a parlamente,
What case so befell.
It is nedefull
That ye tente to youre awne
What draght so be drawne;
If the courte be knawen,
The juge is right dredfull.

For to stand thus tome
Thou gars me grete.
Let us go to this dome
Up Watlyn strete.
I had lever go to Rome
Yet thryse on my fete
Then for to grefe yonde grome
Or with hym for to mete,
For wysely
He spekys on trete,
His paustee is grete,
Bot begyn he to threte
He lokys full grisly.

Bot fast take oure rentals;
Hy, let us go hence,
For as this fals
The great sentence.
Thai ar here in my dals.
Fast stand we to fence
Agans thise dampnyd sauls
Without repentence,
And just.
Howso the gam crokys,
Examyn oure bokys.
Here is a bag full, lokys,
Of pride and of lust,

Of wraggers and of wrears;
A bag full of brefes
Of carpars and cryars,
Of mychers and thefes,
Of lurdans and lyars
That no man lefys,
Of flytars, of flyars,
And renderars of reffys.
This can I
Of alkyn astates
That go bi the gatys;
Of poore pride that God hatys,
Twenty so many.

Peasse, I pray thee, be still.
I laghe that I kynke.
Is oght ire in thi bill?
And then shall thou drynke.
Sir, so mekill ill will
That thai wold synke
Thare foes in a fyere still,
Bot not all that I thynke
Dar I say;
Bot before hym he prase hym,
Behynde he myssase hym;
Thus dowbill he mase hym.
Thus do thai today.

Has thou oght writen there
Of the femynyn gendere?
Yei, mo then I may bere
Of rolles for to render.
Thai ar sharp as a spere
If thai seme bot slender;
Thai ar ever in were
If thai be tender.
Yll fetyld,
She that is most meke;
When she semys full seke
She can rase up a reke
If she be well nettyld.

Thou art the best hyne
That ever cam beside us.
Yei, bot go we, master myne;
Yit wold I we hyde us.
Thai have blowen long syne;
Thai will not abide us.
We may lightly tyne
And then will ye chide us
Make redy oure tolys
For we dele with no folys.
Sir, all clerkys of oure scolys
Ar bowne furth theder.

Bot sir, I tell you before,
Had domysday oght tarid
We must have biggid hell more;
The warld is so warid.
Now gett we dowbill store
Of bodys myscarid
To the soules where thai wore,
Both sam to be harrid.
Thise rolles
Ar of bakbytars
And fals quest-dytars;
I had no help of writars
Bot thise two dalles.

Faithe and trowth, maffay,
Has no fete to stande.
The poore pepyll must pay
If oght be in hande.
The drede of God is away
And lawe out of lande.
By that wist I that domysday
Was nerehande
In seson.
Sir, it is saide in old sawes:
The longere that day dawes,
Wars pepill, wars lawes.
I lagh at thi reson.

All this was tokyn
Domysday to drede.
Full oft was it spokyn,
Full few toke hede.
Bot now shall we be wrokyn
Of thare falshede,
For now bese unlokyn
Many dern dede
In ire.
All thare synnes shall be knowen,
Othere mens then thare awne.
Bot if this draght be well drawen,
Don is in the myre.

Whi spir ye not, syr,
No questyons?
I am oone of youre ordir
And oone of youre sons;
I stande at my tristur
When othere men shones.
Now thou art myn awne querestur.
I wote where thou wonnes;
Do tell me.
I was youre chefe tollare
And sithen courte rollar;
Now am I master Lollar,
And of sich men I mell me.

I have broght to youre hande
Of saules dar I say
Mo than ten thowsand
In an howre of a day.
Som at ayll-howse I fande,
And som of ferray;
Som cursid, som bande,
Som yei, som nay.
So many
Thus broght I on blure;
Thus did I my cure.
Thou art the best sawgeoure
That ever had I any.

Here a roll of ragman
Of the rownde tabill,
Of breffes in my bag, man,
Of synnes dampnabill;
Unethes may I wag, man,
Forwery in youre stabill
Whils I set my stag, man.
Abide, ye ar abill
To take wage.
Thou can of cowrte thew,
Bot lay downe the dewe
For thou will be a shrew
Be thou com at age.

Here have I be gesse
Of many nyce hoket,
Of care and of curstnes,
Hethyng and hoket:
Gay gere and witles,
His hode set on koket;
As prowde as pennyles,
His slefe has no poket;
Full redles
With thare hemmyd shoyn.
All this must be done,
Bot fyre is out at hye noyn
And his barnes bredeles.

A horne and a Duch ax,
His slefe must be flekyt,
A syde hede and a fare fax,
His gowne must be spekytt.
Thus toke I youre tax;
Thus ar my bookys blekyt.
Thou art best on thi wax
That ever was clekyt
Or knowen;
With wordes will thou fill us.
Bot tell thi name till us.
Mi name is Tutivillus;
My horne is blawen.
Fragmina verborum,
Tutivillus colligit horum;
Belzabub algorum,
Belial belium doliorum. 2

What, I se thou can of gramory
And somwhat of arte;
Had I bot a penny
On thee wold I warte.
Of femallys a quantité
Here fynde I parte.
Tutivillus, let se.
Godys forbot thou sparte.
So joly,
Ilka las in a lande
Like a lady nerehande,
So fresh and so plesande,
Makys men to foly.

If she be never so fowll a dowde,
With hir kelles and hir pynnes
The shrew hirself can shrowde
Both hir chekys and hir chynnes.
She can make it full prowde
With japes and with gynnes,
Hir hede as hy as a clowde,
Bot no shame of hir synnes
Thai fele.
When she is thus paynt
She makys it so quaynte
She lookys like a saynt,
And wars then the deyle.

She is hornyd like a kowe,
A new-fon syn:
The culer hyngys so side now
Furrid with a cat skyn.
All thise ar for you;
Thai ar commen of youre kyn.
Now the best body art thou
That ever cam herein.
An usage,
Swilk dar I undertake,
Makys theym breke thare wedlake
And lif in syn for hir sake
And breke thare awne spowsage.

Yit a poynt have I fon,
I tell you before,
That fals swerars shall hider com
Mo then a thowsand skore.
In sweryng thai grefe Godys Son
And pyne hym more and more;
Therfor mon thai with us won
In hell forevermore.
I say thus,
That rasers of the fals tax
And gederars of greyn wax,
Diabolus est mendax
Et pater eius. 3

Yit a poynte of the new gett,
To tell will I not blyn,
Of prankyd gownes and shulders up set,
Mos and flokkys sewyd wythin;
To use sich gise thai will not let.
Thai say it is no syn,
Bot on sich pilus I me set
And clap thaym cheke and chyn,
No nay.
David in his sawtere says thus,
That to hell shall thai trus
Cum suis adinvencionibus, 4
For onys and for ay.

Yit of thise kyrkchaterars
Here ar a menee,
Of barganars and okerars
And lufars of symonee,
Of runkers and rowners.
God castys thaym out, trulee,
From his temple all sich mysdoers;
I cach thaym then to me
Full soyn,
For writen I wote it is
In the gospell, withoutten mys,
Et eam fecistis
Speluncam latronum. 5

Yit of the synnes seven
Somthyng speciall
Now nately to neven
That renys over all:
Thise laddys thai leven
As lordys riall,
At ee to be even
Purturd in pall
As kyngys.
May he dug hym a doket,
A kodpese like a pokett,
Hym thynke it no hoket
His tayll when he wryngys.

His luddokkys thai lowke
Like walk-mylne cloggys;
His hede is like a stowke,
Hurlyd as hoggys;
A woll-blawen bowke,
Thise fryggys as froggys.
This Jelian Jowke
Dryfys he no doggys
To felter;
Bot with youre yolow lokkys,
For all youre many mokkys,
Ye shall clym on hell-crokkys
With a halpeny heltere.

And Nell with hir nyfyls
Of crisp and of sylke,
Tent well youre twyfyls
Youre nek abowte as mylke,
With youre bendys and youre bridyls
Of Sathan, the whilke
Sir Sathanas idyls
You for tha ilke,
This Gill knave.
It is open behynde,
Before is it pynde;
Bewar of the west wynde
Youre smok lest it wafe.

Of ire and of envy
Fynde I herto,
Of covetyse and glotony
And many other mo.
Thai call and thai cry,
Go we now, go,
I dy nere for dry!
And ther syt thai so
All nyght
With hawvell and jawvell,
Syngyng of lawvell.
Thise ar howndys of hell;
That is thare right.

In slewthe then thai syn,
Goddys warkys thai not wyrke;
To belke thai begyn
And spew that is irke;
His hede must be holdyn
Ther in the myrke,
Then deffys hym with dyn
The bellys of the kyrke
When thai clatter.
He wishys the clerke hanged
For that he rang it,
Bot thar hym not lang it
What commys therafter.

And ye Janettys of the stewys
And lychoures on lofte,
Youre baill now brewys;
Avowtrees full ofte
Youre gam now grewys.
I shall you set softe;
Youre sorow enewes.
Com to my crofte
All ye;
All harlottys and horres
And bawdys that procures
To bryng thaym to lures,
Welcom to my see.

Ye lurdans and lyars,
Mychers and thefes,
Flytars and flyars
That all men reprefes,
Spolars, extorcyonars,
Welcom, my lefes.
Fals jurars and usurars
To symony that clevys,
To tell,
Hasardars and dysars,
Fals dedys forgars,
Slanderars, bakbytars,
All unto hell.

When I harde many swilke,
Many spytus and fell
And few good of ilke,
I had mervell;
I trowd it drew nere the prik.
Sir, a worde of counsell:
Saules cam so thyk
Now late unto hell
As ever;
Oure porter at hell-yate
Is haldyn so strate.
Up erly and downe late.
He rystys never.

Thou art pereles of tho
That ever yit knew I.
When I will, may I go
If thou be by;
Go we now we two.
Syr, I am redy.
Take oure rolles also;
Ye knawe the cause why.
Do com,
And tent well this day.
Sir, as well as I may.
Qui vero mala
In ignem eternum. 6

Ilka creatoure take tente
What bodworde I shall you bryng:
This wykyd warld away is wente
And I am commyn as crownyd kyng;
Mi Fader of heven has me downe sente
To deme youre dedys and make endyng.
Commen is the day of Jugemente;
Of sorow may every synfull syng.

The day is commen of catyfnes
All those to care that ar uncleyn,
The day of batell and bitternes;
Full long abiden has it beyn,
The day of drede to more and les,
Of joy, of tremlyng, and of teyn.
Ilka wight that wikyd is
May say “alas, this day is seyn.”

Tunc expandit manu suas et ostendit eis vulnera sua. 7

Here may ye se my woundys wide
That I suffred for youre mysdede
Thrugh harte, hede, fote, hande, and syde,
Not for my gilte bot for youre nede.
Behald both bak, body, and syde,
How dere I boght youre broderhede.
Thise bitter paynes I wold abide,
To by you blys thus wold I blede.

Mi body was skowrgid withoutten skill,
Also ther full throly was I thrett;
On crosse thai hang me on a hill.
Blo and blody thus was I bett,
With crowne of thorne thrastyn full ill;
A spere unto my harte thai sett,
Mi harte blode sparid thai not to spill.
Man for thi luf wold I not lett.

The Jues spytt on me spitusly;
Thai sparid me no more then a thefe.
When thai me smote, I stud stilly;
Agans thaym did I no kyns grefe.
Beholde, mankynde, this ilk am I
That for thee suffred sich myschefe;
Thus was I dight for thi foly
Man, loke, thi luf was me full lefe.

Thus was I dight thi sorow to slake;
Man, thus behovid thee borud to be.
In all my wo toke I no wrake;
My will it was, for luf of thee.
Man, for sorow aght thee to qwake
This dredfull day this sight to se.
All this suffred I for thi sake;
Say, man, what suffred thou for me?

Tunc vertens se ad bonos dicit illis: 8

Mi blissid barnes on my right hande,
Youre dome this day thar ye not drede,
For all youre joy is now commande;
Youre life in likyng shall ye lede.
Commes to the kyngdom ay lastande
That you is dight for youre good dede;
Full blithe may ye be there ye stand,
For mekill in heven bees youre mede.

When I was hungré ye me fed;
To slek my thrist ye war full fre.
When I was clothles ye me cled;
Ye wold no sorowe on me se.
In hard prison when I was sted,
On my penance ye had pyté.
Full seke when I was broght in bed,
Kyndly ye cam to comforth me.

When I was will and weriest,
Ye harberd me full esely.
Full glad then were ye of youre gest;
Ye plenyd my poverté full pituosly.
Belife ye broght me of the best
And maide my bed there I shuld ly;
Therfor in heven shall be youre rest
In joy and blis to beld me by.

Lord, when had thou so mekill nede?
Hungré or thrusty, how myght it be?
When was oure harte fre thee to feede?
In prison when myght we thee se?
When was thou seke, or wantyd wede?
To harbowre thee when helpid we?
When had thou nede of oure fordede?
When did we all this dede to thee?

Mi blissid barnes, I shall you say
What tyme this dede was to me done:
When any that nede had, nyght or day,
Askyd you help and had it sone,
Youre fre harte saide theym never nay,
Erly ne late, mydday ne noyn,
As oftesithes as thai wold pray
Thai thurte bot aske and have thare boyn.

Tunc dicet malis: 9

Ye cursid catyfs of Kames kyn
That never me comforthid in my care,
Now I and ye forever shall twyn,
In doyll to dwell forevermare.
Youre bitter bayles shall never blyn
That ye shall thole when ye com thare;
Thus have ye servyd for youre syn
For derfe dedys ye have doyn are.

When I had myster of mete and drynke,
Catyfs, ye chaste me from youre yate;
When ye were set as syres on bynke
I stode theroute, wery and wate,
Yit none of you wold on me thynke
To have pité on my poore astate.
Therfor to hell I shall you synke;
Well ar ye worthy to go that gate.

When I was seke and soryest
Ye viset me noght for I was poore;
In prison fast when I was fest
Wold none of you loke how I foore.
When I wist never where to rest,
With dyntys ye drofe me from youre doore,
Bot ever to pride then were ye prest;
Mi flesh, my bloode, ye ofte forswore.

Clothles when that I was cold,
That nerehande for you yode I nakyd,
Mi myschefe sagh ye manyfolde;
Was none of you my sorowe slakyd
Bot ever forsoke me, yong and olde.
Therfor shall ye now be forsakyd.

Lorde, when had thou, that all has,
Hunger or thriste, sen thou God is?
When was that thou in prison was?
When was thou nakyd or harberles?
When myght we se thee seke, alas,
And kyd thee all this unkyndnes?
When was we let thee helples pas?
When dyd we thee this wikydnes?

Alas, for doyll this day.
Alas, that ever I it abode.
Now am I dampned for ay;
This dome may I not avoyde.

Catyfs, alas, ofte as it betyde
That nedefull oght askyd in my name,
Ye harde thaym noght, youre eeres was hid,
Youre help to thaym was not at hame,
To me was that unkyndnes kyd;
Therfor ye bere this bitter blame.
To the lest of myne when ye oght dyd,
To me ye dyd the self and same.

Tunc dicet bonis: 10

Mi chosyn childer, commes to me;
With me to dwell now shall ye weynde
Ther joy and blis ever shall be,
Youre life in lykyng for to leynde.

Tunc dicet malis: 11

Ye warid wightys, from me ye fle
In hell to dwell withoutten ende.
Ther shall ye noght bot sorow se
And sit bi Sathanas the feynde.

Do now go furth, go!
Trus, go we hyne
Unto endles wo,
Aylastand pyne.
Nay, tary not so,
We get ado syne.
Hyte, hyderwarde, ho!
Harry Ruskyne,
War oute!
The meyn shall ye nebyll,
And I shall syng the trebill,
Arevant the devill
Till all this hole rowte.

Youre lyfes ar lorne
And commen is youre care.
Ye may ban ye were borne,
The bodes you bare
And youre faders beforne,
So cursid ye ar.
Ye may wary the morne
And day that ye ware
Of youre moder
First borne for to be,
For the wo ye mon dre.
Ilkone of you mon se
Sorow of oder.

Where is the gold and the good
That ye gederd togedir,
The mery menee that yode
Hider and thedir?
Gay gyrdyls, jaggid hode,
Prankyd gownes, whedir?
Have ye wit or ye wode?
Ye broght not hider
Bot sorowe
And youre synnes in youre nekkys.
I beshrew thaym that rekkys;
He comes to late that bekkys
Youre bodyes to borow.

Sir, I wold cut thaym a skawte
And make theym be knawne.
Thay were sturdy and hawte;
Great boste have thai blawne.
Youre pride and youre pransawte,
What will it gawne?
Ye tolde ilk mans defawte
And forgate youre awne.
Thare neghburs thai demyd,
Thaymself as it semyd,
Bot now ar thai flemyd,
From sayntys to recover.

Thare neghburs thai towchid
With wordys full ill;
The warst ay thai sowchid
And had no skill.
The pennys thai powchid
And held thaym still;
The negons thai mowchid
And had no will
For hart-sare;
Bot riche and ill-dedy,
Gederand and gredy,
Sore napand and nedy,
Youre godys for to spare.

For all that ye spard
And dyd extorcyon,
For youre childer ye card,
Youre heyre and youre son;
Now is all in oure ward.
Youre yeres ar ron;
It is commen in vowgard,
Youre Dame Malison
To bynde it.
Ye set bi no cursyng
Ne no sich small thyng.
No, bot prase at the partyng,
For now mon ye fynde it.

Youre leyfys and youre females,
Ye brake youre wedlake;
Tell me now what it vales,
All that mery lake?
Se, so falsly it falys.
Syr, I dar undertake
Thai will tell no tales;
Bot se, so thai quake
For moton,
He that to that gam gose,
Now namely on old tose.
Thou held up the lose,
That had I forgotten.

Sir, I trow thai be dom
Somtyme were full melland.
Will ye se how thai glom?
Thou art ay telland.
Now shall thai have rom
In pyk and tar ever dwelland;
Of thare sorow no some
Bot ay to be yelland
In oure fostre.
By youre lefe, may we mefe you?
Showe furth, I shrew you.
Yit tonyght shall I shew you
A mese of ill ostre.

Of thise cursid forsworne
And all that here leyndys,
Blaw wolfys-hede and oute-horne
Now namely, my freyndys
Illa-haill were ye borne.
Youre awne shame you sheyndys
That shall ye fynde or to-morne.
Com now, with feyndys
To youre angre;
Youre dedys you dam.
Com, go we now sam;
It is commen, youre gam.
Com, tary no langer.

We love thee, Lorde, in alkyn thyng
That for thyne awne has ordand thus,
That we may have now oure dwellyng
In heven blis giffen unto us.
Therfor full boldly may we syng
On oure way os we trus;
Make we all myrth and lovyng
With Te Deum laudamus.

Explicit judicium. 12

wicked; (see note)
sorrow has come

heard; (see note)
(see note)
requires [that] they come there

neither land nor sea

fear gladly



each; himself


sinful life

sorrowful wretches
wring; weep
cursed; covetousness
Damned; deep
Took notice

often; (see note)
others were asleep

awakens; trouble
(see note)
backs; bear
cost us dearly
fiends; fiercely frighten

damn us at once
ear; heart
mouth; eye

dearly; is



wickedness known

desire; hidden

must be reckoned

gladly; flee
Because of deeds

await my fate
believed; seen
dreadful; soon



courteous; found
misery; coming



worse than nothing


judged; will
grievously may I shudder; (see note)
my debt is paid



(see note)

I had perished


(see note)
All together

wicked souls; go from

(see note)
(see note)
to earth; go
sit; majesty
deal my judgment; descend
prepared; sin

[fol. 123r] (see note)



bound; (see note)
iron shackles
bands; broke
shook asunder

shuddered; shook
heard; roar
heard; quaked; (see note)
book (the Bible)
dared not [do so] openly
dared not look
middle earth
pale (feeble)
But grimaced and gnashed
in vain

into a heap
fear; swooned
Where; leg; (see note)
staggered; time
caught; cramp


souls are gone

Unless; destroyed

befits you to pay attention; (see note)

pay attention to your own
Whatever happens; (see note)

make me weep
(see note)
would rather
three times by foot
grieve that boy

at length

record of sins; (see note)
accordingly; falls; (see note)

hands; (see note) [fol. 123v]
Firmly; protect

game turns
(see note)

wranglers; betrayers; (see note)
briefs; (see note)
critics; accusers
robbers; thieves; (see note)
louts; liars
quarrelers; outlaws; (see note)
plunder; (see note)
I know
all ranks

laugh [so much] that I choke
any wrath; inventory

(see note)
Their; fire

If he praises him to his face; (see note)
Behind [his back]; slanders
duplicitous; confuses

anything written

more than; bear
(see note)

Even if; slight
always contentious

Ill prepared; (see note)
raise a commotion


long since

easily suffer loss

tools (weapons)
heading there

[been] delayed at all
double; (see note)

together; harried

backbiters; (see note)
false accusers

by my faith


longer [before]; dawns
Worse people

a sign (token)

took heed
their falsehood
be revealed
stealthy deeds
their sins; known
their own
move be made; (see note)

ask; (see note)


stay away
chorister; (see note)
know; live
Please tell me [more about yourself]
chief tax collector
Keeper of the court rolls; (see note)
Lollard; (see note)
with such; concern myself

souls dare
alehouse found
at plunder
cursed; chided

(see note)
to grief


list of accusations; (see note)

briefs (legal notes)
sins damnable
Hardly; move; (see note)
Exhausted; stable

know the customs of the court
that which is due

by estimation
many a fancy trick
Mockery; trickery
proud as penniless
sleeve; pocket
their hemmed shoes

fire; high noon
children without food

sleeve; multicolored
Long locks and fair hair
blacked in
of your age (size)

to us


know grammar (learning)

spend [it]

spare it
Each lass

Brings; folly

dowdy woman
her hairnets; pins
cheeks; chins
tricks; schemes

They feel
worse; deal (lot)

horned like a cow
newfound sin
collar hangs; long

individual; [fol. 125r]

So dare I assert
break; wedlock
live in sin
their own marriage


false swearers; come here
More than twenty thousand
must they; dwell

gatherers; green wax; (see note)

point; fashion
pleated; raised shoulders
Moss and tufts
guise; cease

such pillows
cheek and chin


once and for all

chatterers in the church
vendors; usurers
lovers of simony
whisperers; tattlers

catch them

quickly; mention
lads; live
eye; equal
Adorned; scarlet

(see note)
codpiece; pocket

(see note)

buttocks; look
fulling mill clogs
head; stook (sheaves of grain)
Bristled like hogs
well-inflated belly
(see note)
Drives; dogs
yellow locks
climb; hooks
half penny halter (hangman’s noose)

light cloth; silk
Attend; braids
neck; milk
bands; bridles; (see note)
by which
makes idle
the like


smock; wave


covetousness; gluttony

dryness (thirst)

rascals; (see note)
drinking cups; (see note)

deafens; noise
church bells

he need not long for

Janets; brothels
lechers above
punishment is being prepared
pleasure; is troubled

scoundrels; whores
pimps that procure

louts; liars
Robbers; thieves
Quarrelers; outlaws
Spoilers; extortioners
False jurors; usurers
Gamblers; dicers
deed forgers

such; [fol. 126r]
spiteful; cruel
believed; decisive moment


hell’s gate
held in such straits


peerless of those

pay attention

Every creature pay attention

judge; deeds

To trouble all those who
awaited; been

trembling; suffering
Every person; wicked

guilt; need
dearly; brotherhood
I have endured
buy; bliss; bleed

scourged; reason
fiercely; threatened

Blue; bloody; beaten
love; prevent [this]

spit on me spitefully
hit; stood still
no kind of grief
same one
such mischief
mistreated; folly
look; was dear to me

ordained; relieve
woe took I no vengeance

you ought to quake

blessed children
need; fate

pleasure; lead
[for] you is prepared; deed
happy; where you stand
much; shall be; reward

quench; generous



lost; weary
harbored; hospitably
At once
made; where



sick; clothing; [fol. 127r]
harbor; shelter
good deed


Early; nor noon
needed but to ask; request

cursed wretches of Cain’s kin
shall part
torments; cease
suffer; there

wicked deeds you have done

need of food
Wretches; chased; gate
outside; weary; wet


sick; saddest
look; fared
blows; drove
often; (see note)

nearly; went naked
misfortune saw; often

thirst, since



often as it happened
the needy asked anything
them; home
unkindness shown

chosen children
pleasure; remain

wretched creatures; flee

see nothing but sorrow

Depart; hence

Everlasting punishment
trouble afterwards
Giddy-up, this way
(see note)
Watch out
nibble; (see note)
(see note)
To this entire company

curse [that]
bodies that bore you


misery; must endure
Each of you must see
[the] other

company; went
Here and there
girdles (belts); slashed hoods
or do you go mad
nothing here
curse those who care
too late; beckons
bodies to save

shroud; (see note)
unruly; haughty
each; fault



worst ever; suspected

pennies; pocketed

misers; mooched

prone to evil deeds
Covetous; greedy
grasping; needy
goods; save

children you cared
Lady Curse



on account of sluts
game; goes
especially; toes

believe; dumb
You said it!
pitch and tar; dwelling
always; yelling
leave; move

serving of bad oysters; (see note)


before tomorrow
delay no longer


“God, we praise you”


Go To Appendix: The Hanging of Judas