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Art. 25, Lystneth, Lordynges! A newe song Ichulle bigynne


ABBREVIATIONS: AND: Anglo-Norman Dictionary; ANL: Anglo-Norman Literature: A Guide to Texts and Manuscripts (R. Dean and Boulton); BL: British Library (London); Bodl.: Bodleian Library (Oxford); CCC: Corpus Christi College (Cambridge); CUL: Cambridge University Library (Cambridge); IMEV: The Index of Middle English Verse (Brown and Robbins); IMEV Suppl.: Supplement to the Index of Middle English Verse (Robbins and Cutler); MED: Middle English Dictionary; MWME: A Manual of the Writings in Middle English, 1050–1500 (Severs et al.); NIMEV: A New Index of Middle English Verse (Boffey and Edwards); NLS: National Library of Scotland (Edinburgh).

1 newe. According to Scattergood (2000a, pp. 174–75), this adjective refers to not only the national “news” reported in the poem but also to the new method of execution used against the Scots. See explanatory notes to lines 18–21 and 185–89.

10 The heads are those of both Wallace and Fraser, foreshadowing the content of the poem. Fraser’s capture and execution are recounted in the poem’s second half (lines 105–216). Compare lines 201–02.

18-21 Sir William Wallace was executed on August 23, 1305, by the particularly gruesome method detailed here. It was a new technique, used by the English for the first time on this occasion (Scattergood 2000a, p. 175). Robbins 1959, p. 253, lists contemporary accounts and provides Stow’s 1615 historical description.

19 Al quic. See note to line 186.

25 Sire Edward. Edward I (1239–1307), king of England from 1272 to 1307.

27 The four quarters of Wallace’s body were sent to Newcastle, Berwick, Perth, and Aberdeen (Robbins 1959, p. 253).

36 res. See MED, res (n.), sense 4.(c), “an occasion, ?also, a crisis, an emergency,” citing this line.

37 Thrye. “At all times,” literally, “three times.” Robbins calls the word an intensive and translates it “in every respect” (1959, p. 253), a definition not listed in the MED.

39 temed. “Tamed, brought under control, restrained”; see MED, tamen (v.(1)), sense 2. The word is used ironically.

49 The Bisshop of Glascou. “Robert of Wishart (d. 1316), who swore allegiance to Edward I, but later supported Bruce” (Robbins 1959, p. 253).

50 The Bisshop of Seint Andre. “William Lamberton (d. 1328), swore repeated fealty to Edward, but assisted in the coronation of Bruce” (Robbins 1959, p. 253), as mentioned in line 65.

51 The Abbot of Scon. Identified only as “Thomas” by Robbins 1959, p. 253.

65-80 Kyng Hobbe in the mures. These stanzas mock Robert Bruce, king of Scotland, as a weak, unimpressive ruler, “really just a temporary, holiday king from a summer game. . . . Despite his coronation, says the poet, ‘Kyng Hobbe’ is a fugitive, living a hunted and marginalized existence on the ‘mures’ (lines 73–74), which is derogative in a punning way — ‘Hobbe’ being both a familiar diminutive form of Robert and a generic name for a rustic or clown and a hobgoblin or sprite” (Scattergood 2000a, p. 176). See also the note by Robbins 1959, p. 254.

76 on Englysshe to pype. This line recalls the linguistic distance and likeness between the Scots and the English. For a discussion of this line in terms of English national identity, see Turville-Petre 1996, pp. 21–22.

80 O brede ant o leynthe. “Far and wide, everywhere”; see MED, brede (n.(2)), sense 5.b.

81 Sire Edward of Carnarvan. Edward, Prince of Wales (1284–1327), later Edward II, King of England from 1307 to 1327. Robbins notes that “Since Edward I was ill, he entrusted the task of suppression to his son, whom he had knighted on Whitsunday” (1959, p. 254). See also The Death of Edward I (art. 47), line 73, and The Flemish Insurrection (art. 48), line 133 (and the explanatory notes to those lines).

82 Sire Emer de Valence. Aymer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke (ca. 1275–1324), who defeated Bruce at Methven in 1306. He was loyal to Edward I and Edward II throughout his career.

84 false contree. That is, Scotland.

87 alast. “On the last occasion, lastly”; see MED, a-last (adv. (& phrase)), sense (b).

89 Robbins calls this the line of a professional minstrel (1959, p. 253).

91 batayle of Kyrkenclyf. This term refers to the Battle of Methven, near Perth, June 1306, where Aymer de Valence defeated Robert Bruce, and Simon Fraser (here called Frisell) was captured.

99 Sire Johan of Lyndeseye. “John Lindsay, later bishop of Glasgow (1323–35), active in church and politics” (Robbins 1959, p. 254).

105 Seint Bartholomeus Masse. August 25, 1306.

107 Sire Thomas of Multoun. The judge for Fraser’s trial, a noble from Cumberland; on his pedigree, see Robbins’s note (1959, p. 254).

108 Sire Johan Jose. Another noble active in the custody and execution of Fraser; see Robbins (1959, pp. 254–55).

129 Sire Herbert of Morham. A knight of French origin. Robbins provides a contemporary Latin account of his ill-fated wager (1959, p. 255).

137 anon-ryht. “At once, instantly, immediately”; see MED, anon-rightes (adv. & conj.).

141 So Y bate. “So my courage ends.” See MED, baten (v.(1)), sense 4, “?To stop, come to the end (of one’s story),” with this line cited, but see also sense 3.(b), “lose one’s courage or composure.” Robbins (1959, p. 255) provides an idiomatic definition: “So I assure (you).”

145 Oure Levedy Even. September 7, 1306.

148 Sire Rauf of Sondwyche. “Ralph of Sandwich (d. 1308), knight and judge, Constable of the Tower on several occasions under Edward I” (Robbins 1959, p. 255).

149 Sire Johan Abel. A name not recorded elsewhere.

162 lordswyke. “Traitor, perjurer,” a somewhat archaic term that “looked backward to an heroic past” (Green 1999, p. 209).

185-89 The description of Fraser’s execution on September 7, 1306, is virtually identical to the stanza on Wallace’s execution (lines 18–21). As Scattergood notes, “the poet uses the same rhymes and much of the same vocabulary. But the repetition is part of the point: it establishes the pattern of shame (‘shonde’) and humiliation to which the ‘traytours of Scotland’ (lines 2, 225) are subjected” (2000a, p. 175).

186 Al quic. The pun in this phrase (latent possibly in line 19 too) is made explicit by the second half of the line. It means both “still alive” and “very quickly.” Still conscious, Fraser felt his beheading, and to him it did not seem quick.

196-200 Scattergood calls these lines “a revealing passage” in which “the poet tries to define the appropriate public reaction, that is, to define the response of his audience under the guise of describing it,” and he concludes that “the triumphalism of this poem may be qualified by a degree of anxiety” about “an English populace that was becoming increasingly lawless and restive” (2000a, p. 177).

201 tu-brugge. “Drawbridge”; see MED, tou (n.(2)). Lines 201–02 return to the opening image of two heads displayed on London Bridge (line 10), thereby “closing the circle of the poem’s action” (Scattergood 2000a, p. 175).

209-33 Scattergood characterizes the final lines as three “triumphalist stanzas on more general political matters” (2000a, p. 175).

218 the Erl of Asseles. John de Strathbolgie (or de Asceila), who was also judged a traitor; because he was related to Edward I, his execution involved only hanging and beheading, not drawing and quartering. He too was captured after the Battle of Methven, and his head was also placed on London Bridge. See Robbins’s note (1959, p. 256).

227 Charles of Fraunce. Charles the Fair (1294–1328), later Charles IV, king of France from 1322 to 1328.

229 This line is sarcastic. Charles’s help and support for the Scots will amount to nothing.

230 Tprot. An exclamation of contempt.

230-32 The rhyme on strif, knyf, and lyf will be repeated in the opening lines of the next item. This is a common device used by the Ludlow scribe to link juxtaposed works.

233 longe shonkes. A popular name for Edward I. Scattergood notes the historical circumstance in 1306: Edward I “was ill when this poem was written (he dies the following year) — hence, perhaps the stress given to the achievements of Edward of Caernavon, Aymer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke, and others. The poet appears to be trying to persuade himself and his audience that even without Edward I England would have war leaders capable of destroying its enemies and of securing it against foreign aggression” (2000a, pp. 176–77). For other instances of Edward I named in MS Harley 2253, see explanatory note to A Song of Lewes (art. 23), line 57.


ABBREVIATIONS: As: Aspin; Bö: Böddeker; Bos: Bossy; Br: Brook; BS: Bennett and Smithers; BZ: Brandl and Zippel; B13: Brown 1932; B14: Brown 1952; DB: Dunn and Byrnes; Deg: Degginger; Do: Dove 1969; Gr: Greene 1977; Ha: Halliwell; Hal: Hall; Hol: Holthausen; Hor1: Horstmann 1878; Hor2: Horstmann 1896; Hu: Hulme; JL: Jeffrey and Levy; Ju: Jubinal; Kel: Keller; Ken: Kennedy; Le: Lerer 2008; Mc: McKnight; Mi: Millett; MR: Michelant and Raynaud; Mo: Morris and Skeat; MS: MS Harley 2253; Mu: H. M. R. Murray; Pa: Patterson; Pr: Pringle 2009; Rei: Reichl 1973; Rev1: Revard 2004; Rev2: Revard 2005b; Ri1: Ritson 1877; Ri2: Ritson 1885; Ro: Robbins 1959; Sa: Saupe; Si: Silverstein; St: Stemmler 1970; Tr: Treharne; Tu: Turville-Petre 1989; Ul: Ulrich; W1: Wright 1839; W2: Wright 1841; W3: Wright 1842; W4: Wright 1844; WH: Wright and Halliwell.

20 wes. So MS, W1, Bö, BZ. Ri1: was. Ro: wos.

23 wes. So MS, W1, Bö, BZ, Ro. Ri1: was.

37 Thrye. So MS, W1, Ri1, Bö, BZ. Ro: þryes.

40 Weht. So MS, W1, Ri1, Ro. Bö, BZ: whet.

54 Hii. So MS, W1, Bö, BZ, Ro. Ri1: Hu.

66 ne. So MS, W1, Ri1, BZ. Ro. Bö: no.

75 gripe. So MS, W1, Bö, BZ, Ro. Ri1: grype.

84 contree. So MS, W1, Ri1, Bö, BZ. Ro: contre.

91 wes. So MS, W1, Bö, BZ. Ri1, Ro: was.

107 Multoun. So MS (n abbreviated). W1, Ri1, Bö, BZ, Ro: Multone.

116 ydyht. So MS, W1, Ri1, BZ, Ro. Bö: wes ydyht.

129 Morham. So MS, W1, Ro. Ri1, Bö, BZ: Norham.

132 smhyte. So MS, W1, Ri1, Ro. Bö, BZ: smyte.

133 Wat. So MS, W1, Ri1, BZ, Ro. Bö: what.

134 So MS, W1, Ri1, Bö, BZ. Ro: wos.

147 Multoun. So MS (n abbreviated). W1, Ri1, Bö, BZ, Ro: Multone.

148 told. So MS, W1, Bö, BZ, Ro. Ri1: hold.
pris. So MS, W1, Bö, BZ, Ro. Ri1: prys.

166 Wickednesse. So MS, W1, Ri1, Ro. Bö, BZ: Wikednesse.

177 todrawe. So MS, W1, Bö, BZ, Ro. Ri1: todrowe.

196 loketh. So MS, Bö, BZ, Ro. W1, Ri1: laketh.

204 Wet. So MS, W1, Ri1, BZ, Ro. Bö: whet.

211 gaste. So Ro, Bö, BZ. MS, W1, Ri1: garste.

212 tuenti. So MS, Ri1, Bö, Ro. W1, BZ: twenti.


















































Lystneth, lordynges! A newe song Ichulle bigynne
Of the traytours of Scotlond that take beth wyth gynne.     
Mon that loveth falsnesse ant nule never blynne
Sore may him drede the lyf that he is ynne,
           Ich understonde.
      Selde wes he glad
      That never nes asad
      Of nythe ant of onde.

That Y sugge by this Scottes that bueth nou todrawe,
The heuedes o Londone Brugge, whose con yknawe.
He wenden han buen kynges, ant seiden so in sawe;
Betere hem were han ybe barouns ant libbe in Godes lawe
           Wyth love.
      Whose hateth soth ant ryht
      Lutel he douteth Godes myht,
      The heye kyng above.

To warny alle the gentilmen that bueth in Scotlonde,
The Waleis wes todrawe, seththe he was anhonge,
Al quic biheueded, ys boweles ybrend.
The heued to Londone Brugge wes send
           To abyde.
      After Simond Frysel,
      That wes traytour ant fykel
      Ant ycud ful wyde.

Sire Edward, oure kyng, that ful ys of piete,
The Waleis quarters sende to is oune contre
On four half to honge, huere myrour to be
Theropon to thenche, that monie myhten se
           Ant drede.
      Why nolden he be war,
      Of the bataile of Donbar,
      Hou evele hem con spede?

Bysshopes ant barouns come to the kynges pes,
Ase men that weren fals, fykel, ant les;
Othes hue him sworen in stude ther he wes,
To buen him hold ant trewe for alles cunnes res,
      That hue ne shulden ageyn him go.
      So hue were “temed” tho.
      Weht halt hit to lye?

To the Kyng Edward hii fasten huere fay —
Fals wes here foreward so forst is in May,
That sonne from the southward wypeth away!
Moni proud Scot therof mene may,
           To yere.
      Nes never Scotlond
      With dunt of monnes hond
      Allinge aboht so duere!

The Bisshop of Glascou, Ychot he was ylaht;
The Bisshop of Seint Andre, bothe, he beth ycaht;
The Abbot of Scon with the kyng nis nout saht.
Al here purpos ycome hit ys to naht,
           Thurh ryhte.
      Hii were unwis
      When hii thohte pris
      Ageyn huere kyng to fyhte.

Thourh consail of thes bisshopes ynemned byfore,
Sire Robert the Bruyts furst kyng wes ycore.
He mai everuche day ys fon him se byfore —
Yef hee mowen him hente, Ichot he bith forlore
           Sauntz fayle!
      Soht forte sugge,
      Duere he shal abugge
      That he bigon batayle.

Hii that him crounede proude were ant bolde.
Hii maden Kyng of Somere, so hii ner ne sholde;
Hii setten on ys heued a croune of rede golde,
Ant token him a kyneyerde, so me kyng sholde,
           To deme.
      Tho he wes set in see,
      Lutel god couthe he
      Kyneriche to yeme.

Nou Kyng Hobbe in the mures yongeth;
Forte come to toune nout him ne longeth.
The barouns of Engelond, myhte hue him gripe,
He him wolde techen on Englysshe to pype
           Thourh streynthe.
      Ne be he ner so stout,
      Yet he bith ysoht out
      O brede ant o leynthe.

Sire Edward of Carnarvan (Jesu him save ant see!)
Sire Emer de Valence, gentil knyht ant free,
Habbeth ysuore huere oht that, par la grace Dee,
Hee wolleth ous delyvren of that false contree,
           Yef hii conne.
      Muche hath Scotlond forlore —
      Whet alast, whet bifore —
      Ant lutel pris wonne.

Nou Ichulle fonge ther Ich er let,
Ant tellen ou of Frisel, ase Ich ou byhet.
In the batayle of Kyrkenclyf, Frysel wes ytake
(Ys continaunce abatede eny bost to make)
           Biside Strivelyn —
      Knyhtes ant sweynes,
      Fremen ant theynes,
      Monye with hym.

So hii weren byset on everuche halve.
Somme slaye were, ant somme dreynte hemselve.
Sire Johan of Lyndeseye nolde nout abyde:
He wod into the water, his feren him bysyde,
           To adrenche.
      Whi nolden hii be war?
      Ther nis non ageyn star.
      Why nolden hy hem bythenche?

This wes byfore Seint Bartholomeus Masse,
That Frysel wes ytake, were hit more other lasse.
To Sire Thomas of Multoun, gentil baroun ant fre,
Ant to Sire Johan Jose bytake tho wes he
           To honde.
      He wes yfetered weel,
      Bothe with yrn ant wyth steel,
      To bringen of Scotlonde.

Sone therafter the tydynge to the kyng com.
He him sende to Londone with mony armed grom;
He com yn at Newegate, Y telle yt ou aplyht;
A gerland of leves on ys hed ydyht,
           Of grene.
      For he shulde ben yknowe
      Bothe of heye ant of lowe
      For treytour, Y wene.

Yfetered were ys legges under his horse wombe;
Bothe with yrn ant with stel mankled were ys honde;
A gerland of peruenke set on ys heued;
Muche wes the poer that him wes byreved
           In londe.
      So God me amende,
      Lutel he wende
      So be broht in honde.

Sire Herbert of Morham, feyr knyht ant bold,
For the love of Frysel ys lyf wes ysold.
A wajour he made, so hit wes ytold,
Ys heued of to smhyte yef me him brohte in hold,
           Wat so bytyde.
      Sory wes he thenne,
      Tho he myhte him kenne
      Thourh the toun ryde.

Thenne seide ys scwyer a word anon-ryht:
“Sire, we beth dede; ne helpeth hit no wyht!”
(Thomas de Boys the scwyer wes to nome.)
“Nou Ychot oure wajour turneth ous to grome,
           So Y bate!”
      Y do ou to wyte,
      Here heued was ofsmyte
      Byfore the Tour gate.

This wes on Oure Levedy Even, for sothe, Ych understonde;   
The justices seten for the knyhtes of Scotlonde:
Sire Thomas of Multoun, an hendy knyht ant wys,
Ant Sire Rauf of Sondwyche, that muchel is told in pris,
           Ant Sire Johan Abel.
      Mo Y mihte telle by tale,
      Bothe of grete ant of smale —
      Ye knowen suythe wel.

Thenne saide the justice, that gentil is ant fre:
“Sire Simond Frysel, the kynges traytour hast thou be,
In water ant in londe, that monie myhten se.
What sayst thou thareto? Hou wolt thou quite the?
           Do say.”
      So foul he him wiste,
      Nede waron truste
      Forto segge nay.

Ther he wes ydemed so hit wes londes lawe:
For that he wes lordswyke, furst he wes todrawe,
Upon a retheres hude forth he wes ytuht —
Sumwhile in ys time he wes a modi knyht
           In huerte.
      Wickednesse ant sunne
      Hit is lutel wunne;
      That maketh the body smerte.

For al is grete poer, yet he was ylaht —
Falsnesse ant swykedom, al hit geth to naht!
Tho he wes in Scotlond, lutel wes ys thoht
Of the harde jugement that him wes bysoht
           In stounde.
      He wes four sithe forswore
      To the kyng ther bifore,
      Ant that him brohte to grounde.

With feteres ant with gyves Ichot he wes todrawe,
From the Tour of Londone, that monie myhte knowe,
In a curtel of burel, a selkethe wyse,
Ant a gerland on ys heued, of the newe guyse,
           Thurh Cheepe.
      Moni mon of Engelond,
      Forto se Symond,
      Thideward con lepe.

Tho he com to galewes, furst he was anhonge,
Al quic, byheueded (thah him thohte longe);
Seththe he was yopened, is boweles ybrend,
The heued to Londone Brugge wes send,
           To shonde.
      So Ich ever mote the,
      Sumwhile wende he
      Ther lutel to stonde.

He rideth thourh the site, as Y telle may,
With gomen ant wyth solas, that wes here play,
To Londone Brugge hee nome the way.
Moni wes the wyves chil that theron loketh a day,
           Ant seide: “Alas,
      That he wes ibore,
      Ant so villiche forlore,
      So feir mon ase he was!”

Nou stont the heued above the tu-brugge,
Faste bi Waleis, soth forte sugge,
After socour of Scotlond longe he mowe prye,
Ant after help of Fraunce. Wet halt hit to lye?
           Ich wene
      Betere him were in Scotlond
      With is ax in ys hond
      To pleyen o the grene.

Ant the body hongeth at the galewes faste
With yrnene claspes, longe to laste.
Forte wyte wel the body, ant Scottyshe to gaste,
Foure ant tuenti ther beoth, to sothe ate laste,
           By nyhte —
      Yef eny were so hardi
      The body to remuy —
      Al so to dyhte.

Were Sire Robert the Bruyts ycome to this londe,
Ant the Erl of Asseles, that hardé is an honde,
Alle the other pouraille, for sothe, Ich understonde,
Mihten be ful blythe ant thonke Godes sonde,
           With ryhte:
      Thenne myhte uch mon
      Bothe riden ant gon
      In pes, withoute vyhte.

The traytours of Scotlond token hem to rede
The barouns of Engelond to brynge to dede;
Charles of Fraunce, so moni mon tolde,
With myht ant with streynthe hem helpe wolde —
           His thonkes!
      Tprot! Scot! For thi strif!
      Hang up thyn hachet ant thi knyf!
      Whil him lasteth the lyf
      With the longe shonkes!
Listen, lords! I'll begin a new song
About the traitors of Scotland captured by craft.     
One who loves treachery and won’t ever quit
May bitterly fear the life that he’s in,
           I’m certain.
      Seldom was he merry
      Who was never content
      For malice and for envy.

I speak of these Scotsmen who’ve now been dismembered,
Their heads on London Bridge, for anyone to recognize.
They planned to be kings, and said so in speech;
Better for them to have been barons and live in God’s law
           With love.
      Whoever hates truth and right
      Little fears God’s power,
      The high king above.

To warn all the nobles who dwell in Scotland,
The Wallace was dismembered, then he was hanged,
Beheaded while alive, his bowels burned.
The head was sent to London Bridge
           To abide.
      Afterwards Simon Fraser,
      Who was traitor and dangerous
      And known very widely.

Sir Edward, our king, who’s full of piety,
Sent the quarters of Wallace to his own country
To hang in four regions, to be their mirror
To reflect thereon, so that many might see
           And feel dread.
      Why wouldn’t they take warning,
      By the battle of Dunbar,
      How poorly they might fare?

Bishops and barons came to the king’s peace,
As men who were false, crafty, and untruthful;
Oaths to him they swore in the place where he was,
To be loyal and true to him in every kind of crisis,
           At all times,
      That they’d not go against him.
      So then were they “tamed.”
      What does it profit to lie?

To King Edward they plight their faith —
Their contract was as false as frost is in May,
Which the sun from the south wipes away!
Many a proud Scotsman may complain about that,
           This year.
      Never was Scotland
      By dint of human hand
      Bought altogether so dear!

The Bishop of Glasgow, I know he was captured;
The Bishop of St. Andrew, too, he is caught;
The Abbot of Scone is not at peace with the king.
Their entire plot has come to nothing,
           By right.
      They were unwise
      When they thought it praiseworthy
      To fight against their king.

Through the counsel of these bishops named before,
Sir Robert the Bruce first was chosen king.
He may every day see his enemies before him —
If they should capture him, I know he’ll be destroyed
           Without fail!
      To say the truth,
      Dearly shall he pay
      For having begun battle.

They who crowned him were arrogant and bold.
They made him King of Summer, as they never should;
They set on his head a crown of red gold,
And gave him a scepter as one should to a king,
           By which to judge.
      When he was set on throne,
      Little good knew he
      How to rule a kingdom.

Now King Hob walks on the moors;
It doesn’t suit him to come to town.
The barons of England, if they might seize him,
They would teach him to pipe in English
           By force.
      Though he be never so brave,
      Yet he is hunted out
      Far and wide.

Sir Edward of Carnarvon (may Jesus save and protect him!)
And Sir Aymer de Valence, fine knight and noble,
Have sworn their oath that, by the grace of God,
They will deliver us from that false country,
           If they can.
      Much has Scotland lost —
      What in the end, what before —
      And won little praise.

Now I shall resume where I left off,
And tell you about Fraser, as I promised you.
In the battle of Kirkencliff, Fraser was captured
(His countenance ceased to make any boast)
           Near Stirling —
      Knight and swains,
      Freemen and thanes,
      Many with him.

Thus were they beset on every side.
Some were slain and some drowned themselves.
Sir John of Lindsay would not wait:
He waded into the water, his companions beside him,
           To drown.
      Why wouldn’t they beware?
      There is no opposing star.
      Why wouldn’t they reflect?

This was before St. Bartholomew’s Mass,
That Fraser was captured, or thereabouts.
To Sir Thomas of Multon, a fine and noble baron,
And to Sir John Jose he was then delivered
           Into custody.
      He was well fettered,
      Both with iron and steel,
      To be brought out of Scotland.

Sone thereafter the news came to the king.
He sent him to London with many armed men;
He entered Newgate prison, I tell you faithfully;
A garland of leaves put on his head,
           Of green,
      Because he should be displayed
      Before both high and low
      As a traitor, I think.

Fettered were his legs under his horse’s belly;
Both with iron and steel his hands were manacled;
A garland of periwinkle was set on his head;
Great was the power that was taken from him
           On earth.
      As God may amend me,
      Little did he expect
      To be brought so into custody.

Sir Herbert of Morham, a fair and bold knight,
For the love of Fraser his life was sold.
A wager he made, as it was told,
To have his head cut off if they captured Fraser,
           Whatever betide.
      Sorry was he then,
      When he might see him
      Ride through the town.

Then his squire spoke a word immediately:
“Sir, we’re dead; there’s no creature to help us!”
(Thomas de Bois was the squire’s name.)
“Now I know that our wager brings us to harm,
           So my courage ends!”
      I give you to know,
      Their heads were cut off
      Before the Tower gate.

This occurred on Our Lady’s Eve, indeed, I believe;
The justices sat for the knights of Scotland:
Sir Thomas of Multon, a courteous and wise knight,
And Sir Ralph of Sandwich, who’s much praised in worth,
           And Sir John Abel.
      More I could disclose,
      Both great and small —
      You know very well.

Then said the justice, who’s excellent and noble:
“Sir Simon Fraser, you’ve been the king’s traitor,
By water and by land, as many might see.
How do you answer thereto? How acquit yourself?
           Do respond.”
      He knew himself to be so foul,
      He had no reliable means
      By which to say no.

There he was judged according to the land’s law:
Because he was traitor to his lord, first he was drawn,
Upon an ox’s hide he was dragged forth —
Once in his life he'd been a brave knight
           In heart.
      Wickedness and sin
      Bring little gain;
      They make the body smart.

Despite all his great power, still he was taken —
Falseness and treachery, it all turns to nothing!
When he was in Scotland, little did he consider
The hard judgment that was prepared for him
           In a short time.
      He was four times perjured
      There before the king,
      And that caused him to fall.

With fetters and manacles I know he was dragged,
From the Tower of London, so that many might be aware,
In a tunic of sackcloth, in a strange manner,
And a garland on his head, of the latest fashion,
           Through Cheapside.
      Many men of England,
      In order to see Simon,
      Began thither to rush.

When he came to the gallows, first he was hanged,
While alive, beheaded quickly (though it seemed to him long);
Afterwards he was opened, his bowels burned,
The head was sent to London Bridge,
           To his disgrace.
      As ever I may thrive,
      Little had he once thought
      To stand there.

They ride through the city, as I may tell,
With game and with fun, that was their play,
To London Bridge they took their way.
Many a woman’s child looks thereon by day,
           And said: “Alas,
      That he was born,
      And so vilely undone,
      So fair a man as he was!”

Now the head stands above the drawbridge,
Close by Wallace, to tell the truth,
Long may they pray for relief from Scotland,
And for help from France. What good’s it to lie?,
           I suppose
      It was better for him in Scotland
      With his ax in his hand
      To play on the green.

And the body hangs fast on the gallows
With iron clasps, long to last.
To guard well the body and scare the Scottish,
There are four and twenty, truly, at least,
           By night —
      Were any so hardy
      As to remove the body —
      Ready to attack.

Were Sir Robert the Bruce to come to this land,
And the Earl of Asceila, who’s strong of might,
All the other poor people, truly, I understand,
Might be very happy and thank God’s gift,
           With good reason:
      Then might every man
      Both ride and go
      In peace without fighting.

The traitors of Scotland took counsel among themselves
To bring the barons of England to death;
Charles of France, as many a man said,
Would help them with might and with strength —
           Thanks to him!
      Fah! Scot! For your strife!
      Hang up your hatchet and your knife!
      While life lasts to him
      With the long shanks!
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Go To Art. 25a, Lord that lenest us lyf, introduction
Go To Art. 25a, Lord that lenest us lyf, text