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The Feast of Tottenham


1 It would be quite an accomplishment to mention them all

2 Lines 82-84: Since we have had a great time together / I suggest that everyone in this company / Prepare himself for a dance


ABBREVIATIONS: C = Cambridge, Cambridge University Library, MS Ff.5.48; F = Furrow edition, in Ten Fifteenth-Century Comic Poems (1985); Hz = Hazlitt edition, in Remains of the Early Popular Poetry of England (1866).

19 pestels. Lit., "pestle," but also "leg of a pig or chicken, used for food"; a typical instance of the poet's sense of humor.
porra. "Thick soup made from leek or peas" (compare porre, "leek").

23 mashefattis. Barrels in which warm water was mixed with malt to form wort (unfermented beer).

29 mawmany. A dish of chopped meat (usually chicken), spices, and other ingredients.

32 mylne postis. The supporting shafts of a windmill.

34 blawndisare. Probably from OF blanc de soré; it is a dish of minced chicken or fish.

37 jussall. A dish made of eggs, sometimes mixed with grated bread, and cooked in a seasoned broth.

38 russall. For the use of the word as a substantive meaning "something red or reddish" the MED refers to this line only. It is likely that the meaning here is tainted by russell, "a kind of cloth, possibly from Rijssel, i.e., Lille."

40 blobsterdis. So C, Hazlitt; another nonce word of uncertain meaning. The MED tentatively has "? blend of lopster and blober," perhaps implying a fish dish in white sauce. This was not convincing to Furrow, as the text nowhere else uses such a combination, nor does it, one should add, account for the final d; Furrow therefore suggests horstordis, observing that "Burlesques are often scatological" (p. 369). I have adopted her sense in my gloss but without the emendation. See also line 58 for another scatological wordplay.

43 charlett. Probably from OF char laitée, meat with milk. The cookery books make clear that it is a dish with at least meat (e.g., pork), eggs, and milk.

49 combys. This is close to the MS spelling (see textual note), but the meaning "honey" is forced (still, this is the lemma under which it is listed in the MED, but with the comment "meaning unknown"). One might think of cambys as an odd spelling for cambace, "canvas," or even of cambric, "fine white linen (from Cambray in Flanders)." Furrow's suggestion of comfyt, "sugar glaze," results in "the weakest rhyme in the poem" (p. 369), but it does have the merit that it is in line with the other "dishes," which always consist of a ludicrous object (except for "blandament" in line 51) presented in a realistic makeup, like a broth, a sauce, or a custard.

51 blandament. Not in the MED, but undoubtedly related to blaundish(ment), "flatter; flattery."
indorde. Past participle of endoren, "to cover with a glaze made from the yolks of eggs."

56 brute of Almayne. From the MED's quotations under (b) it is clear that there were various kinds of stew, and that Almayne here may mean both "almond" and "Germany" since almonds were used in some soups while another distinction derived from the provenance of the recipe (there were stews from Lombardy, from Spain, and even from "Sarcynesse").

57 paste. Considering the context it is interesting that the MED under this lemma gives one quotation for the meaning "dough for making horse feed."

58 dongestekis. C: dongesterkis. See note to line 40. Furrow emends to dongestekis, emphasizing the scatology of the term (see p. 40). Conceivably, "sterkis" could be a morpheme for cattle. See MED stirk, noun (a), in which case, "cow turds" might be the sense, though the morphology of the verbal compound is awkward.
doralle. According to the MED this is a mistake for dariol, "a kind of pastry: pasty, custard, tart."

75 That abyl was to lese. Furrow's interpretation of the sense of the line, "that could be sliced" (p. 370), is attractive even if the MED under none of the lemmata of lese and related forms gives this particular meaning.

81 Hymselfe to avownce. One could take this figuratively, viz. that Perkyn wanted to advance himself, but it hardly makes sense in the context; hence the literal one is perhaps to be preferred.

90 Toppor over tayle. Under topper the MED has the meaning "head" only for this place, and gives the entire phrase with the translation as provided in the gloss.


Part of the text is hardly legible, even under UV light, due to damp stains. As the damage is limited to the right-hand margin on fols. 115r and 116r and the left-hand on 115v, the words causing difficulties are mostly found in the tail lines (traditionally written to the left of the text) on the recto pages, and in the body of the text on fol. 115v.

ABBREVIATIONS: See Explanatory Notes.

9 Fraunce. F; C: final e illegible.

11 Of. C: Off. So too in lines 16 and 97.
cucry. Second c added above the line by the scribe. By this change the word probably assumed its more common form (at least in pronunciation), "cookery." Still, cury in line 35 implies that this may have been the poet's original word.

12 Sich. F; C, Hz: sith.
my chaunce. F; C: my thaun (ce illegible); Hz: myschaunce.

18 shew. F; C: ew illegible.

20 lorra. F; C: rorra; Hz: rore.

30 thore. Hz, F; C: ore illegible.

36 tho. Hz, F; C: o illegible.
fisshe. F, Hz: fish; C: only f legible.

49 combys. C, Hz: cambys.

58 dongestekis. Hz, F; C: dongesterkis; the emendation parallels the scatological humor of line 10.

91 wexe. F; C, Hz: were.
charre. F; C, Hz: tharre. For the spelling tharre the MED is of no help while under chari we find only such vaguely relevant meanings as "sorrowful," or "cherished (person)." The OED's first citation for the meaning suggested by F is from 1567, but at least it fits the context.

93 a stole. F; C: illegible. I have adopted F's creative solution to the illegible rhyme words of lines 93 and 95.

98 mery. Added above the line by the scribe.

102 brast. Hz, F; C: ast illegible.





















Now of this feest telle I can,
I trow, as wel as any man,
   Be est or be west,
For over alle in ilke a schire
I am send for as a sire
   To ilke a gret fest.

For, in feith, ther was on,
Sich on saw I never non,
   In Inglond ne in Fraunce!
For ther hade I the maistry
Of alle maner of cucry,
   Sich then was my chaunce.

Thar was meytis wel dight,
Well sesoned to the right,
   Of rost and of sew.
Ther was meytis, be heven,
That were a maistre al to neven,1
   But sum I con yow shew.

Ther was pestels in porra,
And laduls in lorra
   For potage,
And som saduls in sewys,
And mashefattis in mortrewys
   For the leest page.

Ther was plenté of alle
To theym that were in halle,
   To lesse and to more.
Ther was gryndulstones in gravy
And mylstones in mawmany,
   And al this was thore.

But yet lett thei for no costis,
For in cum mylne postis,
   Three in a disshe,
And bell clapurs in blawndisare
With a nobull cury,
   For tho that ete no fisshe.

Ther come in jordans in jussall,
Als red as any russall,
   Come ther among,
And blobsterdis in white sorre,
Was of a nobull curry
   With spicery strong.

Ther come chese crustis in charlett,
As red as any scarlette,
   With ruban in rise.
Certes, of alle the festis
That ever I saw in gestis
   This may ber the prise.

Ther was costrell in combys,
And capuls in cullys
   With blandament indorde.
The nedur lippe of a larke
Was broght in a muk cart
   And set befor the lorde.

Then come in stedis of Spayn
And the brute of Almayne,
   With palfrayes in paste,
And dongestekis in doralle,
War forsed wele with charcoll.
   (But certis that was waste!)

Then come in the fruture
With a nobull savour,
   With feturlokis fried;
And alle the cart whelis of Kent,
With stonys of the payment,
   Ful wel wer thei tried.

Then come in a horse hed
In the stid of French brede,
   With alle the riche hide.
Now, hade I not this seen
Sum of yow wold wene
   Ful lowde that I lyed.

Ther come in the kydde,
Dressyd in a horse syde,
   That abyl was to lese;
Thre yron harows,
And many whele barowes
   In the stid of new chese.

When they had drawen the borde
Then seid Perkyn a worde,
   Hymselfe to avownce:
"Syn we have made gode chere
I red ilke man in fere
   Goo dresse hym to a downce."2

Ther ye myght se a mery sight
When thei were sammen knytt,
   Without any fayle.
Thei did but ran ersward,
And ilke a man went bakward,
   Toppor over tayle.

Tybbe wexe full charre of hert;
As sche dawnsid she late a fart
   For stumbulyng at a stole.
Now, sirris, for your curtesy,
Take this for no vilany,
   But ilke man crye "Yole!"

Of this fest can I no more,
But certes thei made hem mery thore
   Whil the day wold last.
Yet myght thei not alle in fere
Have eton the meytis I reckond here,
   But their bodys had brast.


By east
everywhere; every shire
sent; great lord

in truth; one
Such a one
England nor; (t-note)
I was in charge
kinds; cookery; (t-note)
luck; (t-note)

There were dishes; prepared
roast; stew
dainties, by heaven

describe; (t-note)

pestle (pork); soup; (see note)
ladles; gelatin; (t-note)
stew (soup course)
saddles; stews (broths)
mash tubs; thick soup (or stew); (see note)
lowest servant


For the high and the low
millstones; spiced dish; (see note)
there; (t-note)

came mill posts; (see note)

clappers; minced chicken; (see note)
Prepared with great cooking skill
them; (t-note)

came; chamber pots; hotchpotch; (see note)
russel (woollen fabric); (see note)

horse turds (?) in white sauce; (see note)

cheese rinds; pork custard; (see note)
red cloth
ribbon; rice pudding

flask; ? honey combs; (see note); (t-note)
horses; strong broth
blandishment glazed with egg; (see note)

steeds from
stew; (see note)
riding horses; dough; (see note)
turds (dung sticks); custard pie; (see note); (t-note)
[Which] had been seasoned (farced)




Instead; bread


kid (young goat)
suitable; to be sliced; (see note)

place (stead)

cleared away the table

move forward; (see note)

together joined
For certain
nothing but; backwards

Head over heels; (see note)

became; embarrassed; (t-note)

Due to; stool; (t-note)


themselves; there; (t-note)

Without their bodies bursting; (t-note)


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