Back to top

The Squire of Low Degree


1 I have bought your love, lady, dearly (i.e., suffered dearly for it)

2 Sprinkled over with lovers' knots close together

3 Or [it would be great pity if you should] put yourself in danger

4 Lines 421-22: Who would not die under his shield (i.e., fighting) / If I were to meet him on the battlefield

5 By some other means you must achieve your goal

6 Lines 597-98: A man of honor cannot do such [as you appear to be doing]: / It is necessary for him to have what is fitting

7 Lines 622-23: Upon my soul, it would be more fitting for him to go and suck from his mother's breast


ABBREVIATIONS: C = Copland; FH = French and Hale edition, in Middle English Metrical Romances (1964); K = Kittredge readings suggested in M (1904); M = Mead edition (1904); R = Ritson edition, in Ancient English Metrical Romances (1802); S = Sands edition, in Middle English Verse Romances (1966); W = Wynkyn de Worde.

Title This is the title as in C; W has: "Here begynneth undo youre dore."

1 It was a squyer of lowe degré. Hudson explores class and family issues in the poem, noting "the fact that its hero has no proper name," nor at the end, after his new status has been earned, is he given one ("Construction of Class," p. 80). In some romances, where class boundaries are crossed (e.g., Gower's Tale of the Three Questions, where Peronelle and the others are given names at the end, once the new order has been established) the nouveaux receive names as a mark of their new status, but not here. Here, the squire simply moves up by good fortune and self-determination. See Crane (Insular Romance, p. 211), on insular romances in the fifteenth century that open up the accessibility of courtly values to commerce beyond aristocratic hegemony.

squyer of lowe degré. Mead (p. xiii) notes that the phrase is used by Spenser, Nashe, Shakespeare, Beaumont, and Fletcher, always with derogatory connotations.

2 the kings doughter of Hungré. "The daughter of the king of Hungary." This mixing of inflected and periphrastic genitives was common in late ME, and continued into Shakespeare and the seventeenth century.

Hungré. Kiernan notes that the word is not capitalized in any of the three early printed editions and argues that though it can refer to Hungary, it should be left lower case to keep alive the pun on "avarice," which is also a meaning of the word and thus part of a satiric commentary on the squire, who should be read as an avaricious fop or dandified buffoon ("Undo Your Door and the Order of Chivalry," pp. 348-59), the tone of the poem moving "very close to slapstick" (p. 393). But see Pearsall's rejection of this position as "an insensitive modern reading of the poem" ("English Romance in the Fifteenth Century," p. 66n1). See also Spearing ("Secrecy, Listening, and Telling," p. 275) along with the cogent arguments of Fewster (Traditionality and Genre, p. 130n9) on the point.

3 The squir was curteous and hend. Certainly, wealth was a key component of upward mobility in the fifteenth century, though courtesy and graciousness were necessary components as well. On the particularity of fairy-tale aspirations of younger sons hoping to find rich princesses, see Carpenter, "Fifteenth-Century English Gentry," p. 52.

13-14 all was for that lady, / The kynges doughter of Hungry. See Ramsey (Chivalric Romances, p. 158) on the notion that the greatest threats to family structure in domestic romances like Squire and Floris come from within the family itself. On plots "built around such taboos as incest, prenuptial sex, illegitimacy, patricide, and infanticide - a heightened figuring of the gentry reality" (Hudson, "Construction of Class," p. 83), see also Knight, "Social Function." Hudson goes on to note that "this greater attention to women in the romances occurs at a time when the legal and marital power of women was apparently diminishing" (p. 89).

20 forsoth indicates a contrast here: "Although he was not rich he was nevertheless a man of noble birth." Wynkyn de Worde's version is more explicit: "A gentylman borne for sothe was he."

26 Into the gardyn. On the juxtaposition of private and public spaces and the hortus conclusus effects of the chaumbre / gardyn in the poem, see Spearing (Medieval Poet as Voyeur, pp. 178-80).

28 arber. From the earliest romances onwards the orchard has been associated with love, e.g., as a meeting place for lovers. Although fruit trees are usually found in it, it was more a part of the garden in which trees had been planted than an orchard in the modern, restricted sense of the word.

31 Traditionally the cypress is one, but not necessarily the first, of the three or four kinds of tree from which the Cross was made. In the account of the Invention of the True Cross in his extremely popular Golden Legend (c. 1260), Jacobus de Voragine gives the four as the palm tree, the cypress, the olive, and the cedar (Golden Legend, p. 270).

34 reed rose . . . lyly-floure. If the presence of the rose, being a shrub, and the tree peony in line 40 can be defended on a list of trees, the lyly-floure certainly seems uneasily placed here.

45 Both lavorocke and "larke" (line 52) mean "lark," lavorocke being the older form; the two forms were sometimes used side by side (compare Chaucer's Romaunt of the Rose, lines 662 and 915), as were "thrustele" (line 48) and "thrusshe" (line 60). Still, it is possible that they may have indicated different birds: the lark and the skylark, and the thrush and the song thrush.

46 woodwale. The identity of the woodwale is uncertain. The OED gives two possibilities: "woodpecker" and "(golden) oriole." In a list of singing birds the oriole seems the better choice, even if some of the other birds can hardly be qualified as "Syngynge with great melody" (line 44) (e.g., the magpie and the popinjay or the "jaye [that] jangled them amonge" [line 51]). Compare Chaucer's Romaunt of the Rose, lines 657-65.

63 This line is the same as line 23.

73 The sentence is elliptical: "If only I had been of such noble family . . ."

78 Syr Lybius. Gawain's illegitimate son (also called Gingelein) and hero of the romance Lybeaus Desconus (The Fair Unknown).

80 Syr Guy. Sir Guy of Warwick, hero of the romance of that name.

82 Syr Colbrande. A giant killed by Sir Guy of Warwick.

93 her oryall. See Spearing on the almost exclusive "matter of listening rather than watching" (Medieval Poet as Voyeur, p. 179) in the poem. "'Oriel,' in this sense of a windowed recess, appears to have been a rare word in pre-Tudor English. Here, the Princess's oryall, elegantly lit with pictorial glass, provides a private space or closet for the lady to sit alone or talk with her intimates; at the same time, by projecting from the wall, it offers a vantage point for watching and listening to whatever happens in the arbour below. The vantage point is secret, because the coloured glazing admits light and sound but conceals the person behind it from a watcher outside. . . . [It] is also capable of being opened (the domestic technology being advanced enough to enable a lady to manage this without difficulty) so as to give a clearer view and make two-way communication possible" (pp. 179-80). Contrast the spying of the steward in lines 283 ff.

94 royall glas. Windows with glass were still a rarity in the fifteenth century and a sign of great wealth, hence "royale" and the extensive description. See explanatory note to line 93.

136-44 What is described in the following lines is not so much a hermit as an amalgamation of hermit and pilgrim. Neither hermit nor pilgrim should wear linen (line 140), but wool (not mentioned); a hermit, not a pilgrim, went barefoot (line 144). The staff (line 139) belongs to the pilgrim, who might of course visit the Holy Land, while the hermit was not supposed to leave his cell and travel (lines 137-38).

141 Ever in travayle. Either "forever in hardship" or "forever traveling" which, considering the way in which the medieval poor had to travel, was no more than a difference in nuance.

148 harowed Hell. After Christ had died on the Cross He went down to Hell (or, more precisely, Limbo) to free the good and the just, like Adam and Abraham, and take them up to Heaven.

174 shone. In his complaint the squire had announced his intention never to wear shoes unless the lady would love him (lines 143-44). Here the lady takes that up by telling him how he may"win his shoes" (i.e., spurs).

198 Rodes. Rhodes (usually called "the Rhodos") was a regular stop on the way to the Holy Land.

203-32 G. Wright, following up on Kiernan's reading of the poem, suggests a "parodic substitution (livery for armor)" that places the squire in the company of Chaucer's Sir Thopas, as a "well-intentioned but foppish pretender" ("Parody, Satire, and Genre," pp. 21-22).

209 In heraldic terminology the field of the shield carried a charge, a decoration which could take the form of a band, a cross, an animal, a plant, etc. Both the field and the charge (if a band) could be powdered with smaller images, as is the case here with the lovers' knots (line 210). A woman's head as a heraldic charge was not uncommon, and here it may be adorned with frets (a kind of network made of jewelry or flowers) as ornaments (line 212). On the other hand, a fret is also a heraldic term, denoting a net of interlacing little bands; this could adorn the field around the head.

215 As Kiernan points out, the order is odd: why not mention the A and M first, and then the O and R? For the rhyme it would make no difference. The letters O and R together form the French word or, indicating the heraldic color "gold," but also the word for "gold, money." Kiernan sees this as "a gibe at the squire's avarice" ("Undo Your Door and the Order of Chivalry," p. 355).

219-20 The cross described here corresponds to the cross worn by the crusaders. The reference to the Trinity, however, is peculiar, as the cross is normally associated with Christ.

225 corenall. A coronal was a circlet or coronet worn over the helm.

226 The ostrich feather already occurs on the shield of peace of the Black Prince.

227-28 As it stands line 225 is certainly too long from a metrical point of view. The syntax of lines 227-28 is possible but awkward and unusual for C. The subject for Shall in line 228 seems to be Your plates (line 227); or, possibly a relative pronoun is understood after plates. The lines would then have to be translated as follows: "Your plates (of armor), [which] will be strapped unto your body, will fit very becomingly around your waist."

229 The cote armoure was a tunic worn over the plates. Here it is embroidered with gold and "semé" (i.e., sprinkled) with ermine spots.

237 feytes. French and Hale (Middle English Metrical Romances, p. 729) speculate that the word ought to be frithes ("woodland meadows"), which suits the sense better than feytes ("fights").

243-44 florences fyve. The five coins are symbolic of the five wounds of Christ by means of which He bought mankind's freedom and (eternal) life.

250 Mead nicely translates "a veteran knight" (p. 61).

251-61 These lines once again make clear that the princess fully supports the idea of a marriage with the squire, and is prepared to invest a large sum of money in that future, provided that he succeeds in winning a shining reputation for himself so that her father will accept him as her husband and his heir.

258 Mead rightly sees here a possible pun on "weal" and "wheel [of Fortune]," and translates: "I hope that the wheel of Fortune may so turn as to grant you victory" (p. 61).

263 welth means both "spiritual well-being, happiness" and "wealth."

267-68 if we may not so come to, / Otherwyse then must we do. G. Wright sees the practical considerations of the princess not as wantonness so much as "a retreat from the idealized romance aether in which she habitually moves," an abrupt (albeit momentary) acknowledgment of "the mundane exigencies of a world outside romance" ("'Other Wyse Then Must We Do,'" p. 28). That she suffers so painfully for so long in that "otherwyse" circumstance moves quite beyond the fabliau qualities of the "undo your door" passage to a poignancy much deeper than the satiric. After her seven pentitential years engrossed with death, her simple lament "Alas, father, why dyd ye so?" (line 1043) articulates a wretched pathos that her father never adequately addresses, except with his resurrection paradigm, that perhaps nullifies the loss, but not the years of grief.

282 gan go. Went; gan (or can, e.g., line 352) has no meaning of its own, it merely signifies that the following verb is in the past tense.

289 The syntax is faulty here, possibly due to haplology, the scribe having written that only once instead of twice: "And that that squyer taken shoulde be."

291 Wrath and slander also go hand in hand in the portrait of Ira in the famous confession scene in Langland's Piers Plowman (B-text, lines 133-85).

306 The wreath is unlikely to be a wreath of flowers, its usual meaning; one should rather think of a headband which was part of the squire's uniform. The same holds for his horn (line 309), which originally was a drinking horn, but here merely has a ceremonial function.

329 in honesté. Literally, "in all decency," but Sand's translation makes more sense here.

330 in theyr degré. A typical stopgap. The meaning of the words is clear enough, less so what the rank of the lords has to do with their love for the squire.

332-38 Apparently the happiness springing from his newfound love is radiated by the squire to the extent that it is perceived by the king and his lords, even though they are not consciously aware of what exactly it is they notice. See G. Wright on the reversal of convention as "the king displaces the squire from the subject (lover) to object (loved), anti-heroically feminizing him in a way that recalls criticism of Sir Thopas," with the implied homoeroticism delivering "an additional joke at the expense of both king and squire" ("'Other Wyse Then Must We Do,'" p. 23).

356 I may not beleve it should be so. See notes to lines 3 and 13-14 above on the domestic composure of the conflict and the king's support of the squire, even against the cost of long established customs and aristocratic social positions. Spearing (Medieval Poet as Voyeur, p. 184) discusses the king's insistence on proclaiming himself narrator of the plot, here as he defends the squire and warns the steward, and later when he specifies the seven-year delay before he permits the squire and his daughter to realize their aspirations. Spearing makes the crucial point that "It is much concerned with social mobility and the contribution of wealth to social status, rather than with the transcendent concepts of knighthood and nobility that tend to govern earlier romances," that is a tale not of satire but of engagement "with the real interests of the period in which it was written" (p. 177).

358 younge. Considering the ages of the king, the lady, and the squire, Wynkyn de Worde's ynge is the better reading. C's modernization has once again spoiled the rhyme.

364 no is a double negative and should be left untranslated.

375-76 The text as it stands is a mix of two constructions: "it is semely that squyer to have my doughter" or "it is semely that the squyer hath (or, sholde have) my doughter."

380 purchace. The term is not restricted to its modern sense, as it includes every way to acquire an estate (and the title going with it) except inheritance.

388 hyde or hewe. Literally, skin and complexion; the changing refers to her turning white and red alternately.

389 for to put is best taken as dependent on "It were great reuth" in line 383 or on "[It were] more ruthe" in line 385.

390 But thou myght take hym with the dede. Spearing observes that "the only acceptable evidence of illicit sexual relations was to catch the culprits in flagrante delicto" (Medieval Poet as Voyeur, p. 183). This fact makes the concealed watcher or listener such a necessary figure in romances.

398 Hanging and quartering was the traditional punishment for those who had been found guilty of high treason. There is, however, no obvious connection with the term of imprisonment preceding it.

432 The word order is peculiar but not impossible: "See to it that you begin no strife with him."

461 The usher was the servant stationed at the door, the panter was in charge of the bread, which was kept in the pantry (both related to French pain, "bread," as is clear from Sir Degrevaunt, lines 1409-10), while the butler (related to French bouteille, "bottle") looked after the drinks. Later the offices of the panter and the butler were subsumed under that of the latter.

472 In the fifteenth century the kingdom of Hungary included modern Croatia, and thus bordered on the Adriatic Sea.

473 Swords were typically held in the right hand.

508 no more. I.e., "no one"; compare line 888.

520 Apparently proverbial though not identified as such by Whiting or Tilley.

534 The dramatic phrase "Undo your door" has given the poem its alternative title; its repetition lends a distinctly ballad-like quality to the passage.

536 I am beset with many a spy. Rivers speculates that the squire is only pretending to be in danger ("Focus of Satire," p. 382). Spearing, on the other hand, suggests that the abruptness of narrative events is ballad-like, the effect being to drive us "into the position of listeners who do not hear all we wish and must struggle to interpret what we do hear" (Medieval Poet as Voyeur, p. 185). Verisimilitude is not a "prime consideration" (p. 186).

537 A common compliment for a courtly lady. See Pearl, line 212, Sir Eglamour, line 1086, Firumbras, line 2429, and the Destruction of Troy, line 3055. See also line 711, below. Whalebone was usually derived from the tusks of walruses or the narwhal.

539 She is his wyfe because they have, albeit secretly, plighted their troth, a vow that had legal status; compare also lines 546 and 556.

549 Go away, thou wicked wyght. Rivers reads her rejection as a terrified retreat from male sexuality as she "attempts to mark her inhibitions behind the stylized posturings of courtly love, accepting her squire as suitor but manipulating the conventions of the code in order to keep him at a respectful distance" ("Focus of Satire," pp. 379-80). Fewster puts the matter this way: "Her role is of generic importance - she encodes the norms of romance as a reader of previous romances, and directs this poem from within to follow those earlier texts" (Traditionality and Genre, p. 142). Glenn Wright points out that the generic parody relies less on exaggerated romance conventions "than on the fact that they receive their fullest treatment in the princess's imagination" ("'Other Wyse Then Must We Do,'" p. 27). See note to lines 267-68.

563 squyer. Here used as a mere term of address.

580 that. The word is either superfluous or part of a slightly elliptical construction: "you are the only one who has loved me."

614 In the following lines the lady recounts episodes from the romance Lybeaus Desconus, but, in Sands' understatement, these "do not match altogether incidents present in the surviving ME [version], where a maiden Elene and a dwarf accompany Libeaus to free a lady of Sinadoune" (S, p. 266). The extant Old French text uses a form for the maiden's name, Helie, which is closer to Ely (line 615), used here. The names of Lybyus and Guy of Warwick have no other relation to this passage than that they evoke the lady's earlier advice in lines 78-82.

618 Lines 614-20 only make sense if That in line 618 is seen as referring back to the still unknown Lybyus, and the line is translated as "The Lybyus who was later to win the lady of Synadowne." There must be a stop after this line, since the dwarf cannot possibly know that the seemingly unpromising Lybyus is to be successful.

626 At the beginning of their journey Elene and the dwarf heaped scorn and disdain on Lybyus, but when he defeated one opponent after another their attitude changed into one of admiration. Compare the analogue in Malory's "Tale of Sir Gareth," another fair unknown who, at first, serves as a kitchen helper.

643-44 The references are a bit confusing: Sands thinks that the first he refers to the steward, the second to the squire, and the he in line 644 to the squire as well. This would result in the following translation: "The steward thought the squire ought to be killed; the squire struck down seven men against the steward alone." But other solutions are plausible.

650 The steward is called a traitor because he had acted against the king's command to apprehend the squire only if he came with an armed force and tried to break into the lady's room, and to kill him if he defended himself (compare lines 425-50). On whose command the steward's followers carried out their cruel act of deceit we are not told. It just appears later (line 737) that the king knows everything.

658 styffe. Meaning "fearless, bold"; a pun with "stiff" may have been intended.

704 to them. Probably refers to the members of the clergy collecting the money offered during services.

711-12 The description of beauty destroyed in these lines is reminiscent of a similar if much more forceful passage in Sir Orfeo (lines 81-88).

739-852 See Spearing's discussion of the king's 114-line speech as "an astonishing demonstration of the power of language to transform reality into the image of desire (and thus too a demonstration of the king's power as a storyteller)" (Medieval Poet as Voyeur, p. 187). But n.b. also the princess' poignant resistance to that transformation. See Fewster's argument on the text's concern with "narrativity" as the emphasis shifts "from actions as actions to action as narrated, and even to narration without action" (Traditionality and Genre, p. 139).

744 dyapred. The modern heraldic term indicates a diamond-like pattern, but according to the MED the sense in Middle English was less restricted: "textile fabric having a repeated pattern of figures or geometrical designs."

750 Trapped. "Covered with a caparison," a long decorated covering for horses.

755 Mountrose. Chateau Montrose, in the Bordeaux area in France, still produces a high-quality claret.

767 tryst. A hunting station at which the hunters awaited the game that was driven towards them.

772 raches. Hounds that hunt by scent.

rechase. To blow the recall, the sign of the return. The rather undetermined "theyr" (line 771) and his (line 772) probably refer to the hunters and the bugler.

786 sicles. An upper garment made of siclatoun, an "expensive cloth" (compare Chaucer's Tale of Sir Thopas [CT VII(B2)734]).

taffetra. As far as can be ascertained this is merely a verbal variant of taffeta.

788 Endent. Ornamented with a zigzag border.

790 MED, s.v. countre 6. Countre note has the following illuminating quotation from c. 1430: "For bi ther grete criyng of song, as deschaunt, countre note and orgene, thei ben lettid [kept] fro studyinge and prechynge of the gospel."

795 pyght. "Hung" (S, p. 270). Tapestries were used to decorate the walls and to provide some protection against the cold; hence Sands' interpretation is no doubt correct.

798 Described are "embroidered figures of parrots with the red color worked in precious stones" (Mead).

804 An alley is a path in a garden, usually bordered with shrubs or trees. This is the first attested use according to the OED.

815 We must assume that the lady's manor is at the sea front to understand this excursion. It would also explain the presence of so many Mediterranean types of ships, and why the squire had to go overseas.

817 towre. Fortified structures were sometimes built on battleships, or in their masts.

818 dromedaryes. Like "carackes" (line 819) and "galyes" (line 821), these are typically Mediterranean vessels.

827 genger. Ginger, dates (line 828), pepper (line 847), cloves (line 848), frankincense, and olibanum (line 849) had all reached England only fairly recently, and were still a sure sign of luxury.

828 you betwene. The use of prepositions is at times bewildering: between whom are the dainties placed? The same holds for the galleys "upon" the harbor (line 821).

841 fustyane. Fustian, according to the MED and OED, is a kind of cloth woven from cotton or flax, sometimes, but not always, coarse and of poor quality. However, the OED describes another kind of fustian that would be more fitting for this context; a "Fustian of Naples" is "a kind of cotton velvet." While the king does not use this specific term, we should imagine blankets of a similar luxurious quality.

847 longe peper. A kind of pepper used as incense.

899 The squire must have returned to Lombardy after his visit to Jerusalem.

914 I shall wete my doughters wyll. See Spearing on the king's almost divine omniscience as he, "right under the chambre window" (line 977), plays "God's deputy on earth" as he enters into her privy counsel to learn what she would never willingly let him know (Medieval Poet as Voyeur, p. 188). Spearing's essay is rich in cross references with Shakespeare, particularly Cymbeline, Twelfth Night, and The Tempest, in his assessment of a proto-Tudor sensibility in this poem. The conclusion that the tale projects is less moral or psychological than aesthetic. "The best storyteller wins, but that does not mean that the moral and psychological questions go away. They are the more haunting because they are never formulated, except as a bewildered 'Why, father?' The king successfully conceals his 'counseyle' from us as well as from the other characters, and his final triumph, like Prospero's, is an act of abdication, writing himself out of his own story" (p. 193).

923 Nor. Editors usually suggest to read for.

955 When a nun made her definitive entry in an order (after a period of probation), "she was formally married to the church" with a bridal costume and a wedding ring (FH 2.750).

957-58 The lady will remain a virgin not so much out of piety but because of her (unfulfilled) love of the squire (compare also lines 959-60). The reference to the other men of Christendom is perhaps because she had always intended to marry a man of this world rather than Christ.

1005 whan. Than would have made better sense.

1008 there is an adverb of time here: "at this point in time."

1016 hym. So C and most editors, but he (Mead) would certainly improve the meaning; after all, it is the squire who is praised (line 1015).

1030 Pallyng. As Sands rightly observes (S, p. 276), the meaning depends on who is thought to be palling, the lady (ye) or the steward (enemy); hence the two alternatives.

1101 yonge. Another of C's "faulty" rhymes (compare note to line 358).

1116 twelfe. The usual number for a king's privy council.


ABBREVIATIONS: See Explanatory Notes.

13 W reads: "And al was for that faire lady." This fourth stressed syllable makes the line metrically more regular.

15 Christenté. C: Chrinstente.

32 chose. W: chese. This is one of the cases where Copland modernized the spelling and by doing so ruined the rhyme, which demands the form chese (as in W).

33 sykamoure. C: lykamoure.

46 W supplies and between the two bird names.

48 sange. C: saynge.

69 golde. C: goldy.

83 it. Supplied by R.

jeoperdé. C: ieopede.

86 doughter. C: goughter.

124 And. C: dan (the lower case d was read as Þ by M and others).

150 closet. C: closed.

158 arbere. C: arbery.

206 W supplies that: In token that ye . . .

207 set. M's emendation; C has yet.

226 oystryche. C: oytryche

227 your body. C: you body shalbe.

228 Shall. C: Sal.

299 wrotherheyle. Emended by M; C: wroth her heyle.

315 W supplies than: he went than at the last.

316 kynge. C: kyuge.

333 the. C: they. W supplies bothe: He served the hall bothe to and fro.

353 here is my hand. W supplies is. Unlike, e.g., FH and S, I have adopted this as it is an improvement both grammatically and metrically.

358 he was. W; C: I was.

371 W supplies wyll: And yf she wyll assent him tyll.

375 that. M; C: that the.

392 envyté. C and W both read enuyte, but in spite of that practically all editors emend to enmite.

398 upon. C: vopn.

404 Grammatically speaking the second that is superfluous; hence M's emendation to: That I have sayd, I wyll stand therby.

425 come. M; C: come not.

430 make. C: made.

431 within. C: win. There is a dot over the w; moreover, in shape w is different from that in, e.g., wemme or wounde in line 436. It therefore probably represents an abbreviated form of within, which I have accordingly expanded.

452 not. C: uot.

456 byddyng. C: bydgdyng.

465 Than they. C: thant hey.

501 yare. C: ayre.

511 be. M; C: bene.

514 kende. Not in C; supplied by R.

523 by. M; C: ne by.

593 ye. FH; C: he.

594 he. Not in C.

627 They. This is the first of several places where C has either the or thy for they (also in lines 654, 661, 784).

victory. C: wictory.

688 vyrgin. C: wyrgin.

690 lockes. C: lackes.

743 damaske. C: damske.

754 ypocrasse. C: ypocraffe.

765 grehound. C: hrehound.

771 begles. M; C: bugles, an error probably caused by the word bugles in the preceding line.

835 curtaines. C: curtianes.

837 tester. M; C: fester.

888 stand. C: stan.

982 mournyng. C: mournyg.

992 your. M; C: her.

1009 ye talked thus. M; C: he talked thys.

1013 baslarde. M; C: bastarde.

1015 bare. C: bate.

1061 it so be. M; C: it be so.

1064 and. C: an.

1085 trewer lover than. C: trewe louer that.

1086 yet of. Supplied by K.

1126 semed. Supplied by FH.



































































































































































































































It was a squyer of lowe degré
That loved the kings doughter of Hungré.
The squir was curteous and hend,
Ech man him loved and was his frend.
He served the kyng her father dere,
Fully the tyme of seven yere
(For he was marshall of his hall,
And set the lords both great and smal).
An hardy man he was and wight,
Both in batayle and in fyght.
But ever he was styll mornyng,
And no man wyste for what thyng;
And all was for that lady,
The kynges doughter of Hungry.
There wyste no wyghte in Christenté
Howe well he loved that lady fre.
He loved her more then seven yere,
Yet was he of her love never the nere.
He was not ryche of golde and fe,
A gentyll man forsoth was he.
To no man durst he make his mone,
But syghed sore hymselfe alone.
And evermore, whan he was wo,
Into his chambre would he goo,
And through the chambre he toke the waye
Into the gardyn that was full gaye.
And in the garden, as I wene,
Was an arber fayre and grene;
And in the arber was a tre,
A fayrer in the world might none be:
The tre it was of cypresse,
The fyrst tre that Jesu chose.
The sother-wood and sykamoure,
The reed rose and the lyly-floure,
The boxe, the beche, and the larel tre,
The date, also the damyse,
The fylbyrdes hangyng to the ground,
The fygge-tre, and the maple round,
And other trees there was mané one,
The pyany, the popler, and the plane,
With brode braunches all aboute,
Within the arbar, and eke withoute.
On every braunche sate byrdes thre,
Syngynge with great melody,
The lavorocke and the nightyngale,
The ruddocke, the woodwale,
The pee and the popinjaye,
The thrustele sange both nyght and daye,
The marlyn, and the wrenne also,
The swalowe whippynge to and fro,
The jaye jangled them amonge,
The larke began that mery songe,
The sparowe spredde her on her spraye,
The mavys songe with notes full gaye,
The nuthake with her notes newe,
The sterlynge set her notes full trewe,
The goldefynche made full mery chere
Whan she was bente upon a brere,
And many other foules mo,
The osyll and the thrusshe also.
And they sange wyth notes clere
In confortynge that squyere.
And evermore, whan he was wo,
Into that arber wolde he go,
And under a bente he layde hym lowe,
Ryght even under her chambre wyndowe,
And lened hys backe to a thorne
And sayd, "Alas, that I was borne!
That I were ryche of golde and fe
That I might wedde that lady fre,
Of golde good, or some treasure,
That I myght wedde that lady floure!
Or elles come of so gentyll kynne
The ladyes love that I myght wynne.
Wolde God that I were a kynges sonne,
That ladyes love that I myght wonne!
Or els so bolde in eche fyght
As was Syr Lybius that gentell knyght,
Or els so bolde in chyvalry
As Syr Gawayne, or Syr Guy;
Or els so doughty of my hande
As was the gyaunte Syr Colbrande,
And it were put in jeoperdé
What man shoulde wynne that lady fre,
Than should no man have her but I,
The kinges doughter of Hungry."
But ever he sayde: "Wayle a waye!
For poverté passeth all my paye!"
And as he made thys rufull chere,
He sowned downe in that arbere.
That lady herde his mournyng all,
Ryght under the chambre wall,
In her oryall there she was,
Closed well with royall glas.
Fulfylled it was with ymagery;
Every wyndowe by and by
On eche syde had there a gynne,
Sperde with many a dyvers pynne.
Anone that lady, fayre and fre,
Undyd a pynne of yveré,
And wyd the windowes she open set,
The sunne shone in at her closet.
In that arber fayre and gaye
She sawe where that squyre lay.
The lady sayd to hym anone:
"Syr, why makest thou that mone?
And whi thou mournest night and day
Now tell me, squyre, I thee pray.
And, as I am a true lady,
Thy counsayl shall I never dyscry.
And, yf it be no reprefe to thee,
Thy bote of bale yet shall I be."
And often was he in wele and wo,
But never so well as he was tho.
The squyer set hym on hys kne,
And sayde: "Lady, it is for thee:
I have thee loved this seven yere,
And bought thy love, lady, full dere.1
Ye are so ryche in youre aray
That one word to you I dare not say,
And come ye be of so hye kynne,
No worde of love durst I begynne.
My wyll to you yf I had sayde,
And ye therwith not well apayde,
Ye might have bewraied me to the kinge,
And brought me sone to my endynge.
Therfore, my lady fayre and fre,
I durst not shewe my harte to thee.
But I am here at your wyll,
Whether ye wyll me save or spyll;
For all the care I have in be,
A worde of you might comfort me.
And, yf ye wyll not do so,
Out of this land I must nedes go;
I wyll forsake both lande and lede,
And become an hermyte in uncouth stede,
In many a lande to begge my bread,
To seke where Christ was quicke and dead.
A staffe I wyll make me of my spere,
Lynen cloth I shall none were;
Ever in travayle I shall wende,
Tyll I come to the worldes ende;
And, lady, but thou be my bote,
There shall no sho come on my fote.
Therfore, lady, I thee praye,
For Hym that dyed on Good Frydaye,
Let me not in daunger dwell,
For His love that harowed Hell."
Than sayd that lady milde of mode,
Ryght in her closet there she stode:
"By Hym that dyed on a tre,
Thou shalt never be deceyved for me;
Though I for thee should be slayne,
Squyer, I shall thee love agayne.
Go forth, and serve my father the kynge,
And let be all thy styll mournynge;
Let no man wete that ye were here,
Thus all alone in my arbere.
If ever ye wyll come to your wyll,
Here and se, and holde you styll.
Beware of the stewarde, I you praye,
He wyll deceyve you and he maye.
For, if he wote of your woyng,
He wyl bewraye you unto the kynge.
Anone for me ye shall be take,
And put in pryson for my sake.
Than must ye nedes abyde the lawe,
Peraventure both hanged and drawe.
That syght on you I would not se,
For all the golde in Christenté.
For and ye my love should wynne
With chyvalry ye must begynne,
And other dedes of armes to done,
Through whiche ye may wynne your shone,
And ryde through many a peryllous place,
As a venterous man to seke your grace,
Over hylles and dales, and hye mountaines,
In wethers wete, both hayle and raynes;
And yf ye may no harbroughe se,
Than must ye lodge under a tre,
Among the beastes wyld and tame;
And ever you wyll gette your name,
And in your armure must ye lye,
Eevery nyght than by and by,
And your meny everychone,
Till seven yere be comen and gone,
And passe by many a peryllous see,
Squyer, for the love of me,
Where any war begynneth to wake,
And many a batayll undertake,
Throughout the land of Lumbardy,
In every cytie by and by.
And be avised, when thou shalt fight,
Loke that ye stand aye in the right.
And, yf ye wyll take good hede,
Yet all the better shall ye spede,
And whan the warre is brought to ende,
To the Rodes then must ye wende.
And, syr, I holde you not to prayes,
But ye there fyght thre Good Frydayes;
And if ye passe the batayles thre,
Than are ye worthy a knyght to be,
And to bere armes than are ye able
Of gold and goules sete with sable;
Then shall ye were a shelde of blewe,
In token ye shall be trewe,
With vines of golde set all aboute
Within your shelde and eke without,
Fulfylled with ymagery,
And poudred with true loves by and by. 2
In the myddes of your sheld ther shal be set
A ladyes head, with many a frete;
Above the head wrytten shall be
A reason for the love of me:
Both O and R shall be therin,
With A and M it shall begynne.
The baudryke, that shall hange therby,
Shall be of white sykerly;
A crosse of reed therin shall be,
In token of the Trynyté.
Your basenette shall be burnysshed bryght,
Your ventall shal be well dyght,
With starres of gold it shall be set,
And covered with good velvet.
A corenall clene corven newe,
And oystryche fethers of dyvers hewe.
Your plates unto your body enbraste
Shall syt full semely in your waste,
Your cote armoure of golde full fyne,
And poudred well with good armyne.
Thus in your warres shall you ryde,
With syxe good yemen by your syde.
And whan your warres are brought to ende,
More ferther behoveth to you to wende,
And over many perellous streme,
Or ye come to Jerusalem,
Through feytes, and feldes, and forestes thicke,
To seke where Christe were dead and quycke.
There must you drawe your swerde of were,
To the sepulchre ye must it bere
And laye it on the stone,
Amonge the lordes everychone,
And offre there florences fyve,
Whyles that ye are man on lyve;
And offre there florences thre,
In tokenyng of the Trynyté.
And whan that ye, syr, thus have done,
Than are ye worthy to were your shone.
Than may ye say, syr, by good ryght,
That you ar proved a venturous knyght.
I shall you geve to your rydinge
A thousande pounde to your spendinge;
I shall you geve hors and armure,
A thousande pounde of my treasure,
Where through that ye may honoure wynn
And be the greatest of your kynne.
I pray to God and Our Lady
Sende you the whele of vyctory,
That my father so fayne may be
That he wyll wede me unto thee,
And make thee king of this countré,
To have and holde in honesté,
Wyth welth and wynne to were the crowne,
And to be lorde of toure and towne,
That we might our dayes endure
In parfyte love that is so pure.
And if we may not so come to,
Otherwyse then must we do.
And therfore, squyer, wende thy way,
And hye thee fast on thy journay,
And take thy leve of kinge and quene,
And so to all the courte bydene.
Ye shall not want at your goyng
Golde, nor sylver, nor other thyng.
This seven yere I shall you abyde,
Betyde of you what so betyde;
Tyll seven yere be comen and gone
I shall be mayde all alone."
The squyer kneled on his kne,
And thanked that lady fayre and fre;
And thryes he kyssed that lady tho,
And toke his leve, and forth he gan go.
The kinges steward stode full nye,
In a chambre fast them bye,
And hearde theyr wordes wonder wele,
And all the woyng every dele.
He made a vowe to heaven kynge
For to bewraye that swete thynge,
And that squyer taken shoulde be,
And hanged hye on a tre.
And that false stewarde full of yre,
Them to betraye was his desyre.
He bethought hym nedely,
Every daye by and by,
How he myght venged be
On that lady fayre and fre,
For he her loved pryvely,
And therfore dyd her great envye.
Alas! It tourned to wrotherheyle
That ever he wyste of theyr counsayle.
But leve we of the stewarde here,
And speke we more of that squyer,
Howe he to his chambre went
Whan he past from that lady gente.
There he araied him in scarlet reed,
And set his chaplet upon his head,
A belte about his sydes two,
With brode barres to and fro;
A horne about his necke he caste,
And forth he went at the last
To do hys office in the hall
Among the lordes both great and small.
He toke a white yeard in his hande,
Before the kynge than gane he stande,
And sone he sat hym on his knee,
And served the kynge ryght royally,
With deynty meates that were dere,
With partryche, pecoke, and plovere,
With byrdes in bread ybake,
The tele, the ducke, and the drake,
The cocke, the curlewe, and the crane,
With fesauntes fayre, theyr were no wane;
Both storkes and snytes ther were also,
And venyson freshe of bucke and do,
And other deyntes many one,
For to set afore the kynge anone.
And when the squyer had done so
He served the hall to and fro.
Eche man hym loved in honesté,
Hye and lowe in theyr degré.
So dyd the kyng full sodenly,
And he wyst not wherfore nor why.
The kynge behelde the squyer wele,
And all his rayment every dele.
He thought he was the semylyest man
That ever in the worlde he sawe or than.
Thus sate the kyng and eate ryght nought,
But on his squyer was all his thought.
Anone the stewarde toke good hede,
And to the kyng full soone he yede.
And soone he tolde unto the kynge
All theyr wordes and theyr woynge,
And how she hyght hym lande and fe,
Golde and sylver great plentyé,
And how he should his leve take,
And become a knight for her sake.
"And thus they talked bothe in fere,
And I drewe me nere and nere.
Had I not come in, verayly,
The squyer had layne her by.
But whan he was ware of me
Full fast away can he fle.
That is sothe: here is my hand
To fight with him while I may stand."
The kyng sayd to the steward tho:
"I may not beleve it should be so.
Hath he be so bonayre and benyngne,
And served me syth he was younge,
And redy with me in every nede,
Bothe true of word, and eke of dede.
I may not beleve, be nyght nor daye,
My doughter dere he wyll betraye,
Nor to come her chambre nye
That fode to longe with no foly.
Though she would to hym consente,
That lovely lady fayre and gente,
I truste hym so well, withouten drede,
That he would never do that dede.
But yf he myght that lady wynne
In wedlocke to welde, withouten synne,
And yf she assent him tyll,
The squyer is worthy to have none yll,
For I have sene that many a page
Have become men by mariage.
Than it is semely that squyer
To have my doughter by this manere,
And eche man in his degré
Become a lorde of ryaltyé,
By fortune and by other grace,
By herytage and by purchace.
Therfore, stewarde, beware hereby,
Defame hym not for no envy.
It were great reuth he should be spylte,
Or put to death withouten gylte,
And more ruthe of my doughter dere
For chaungyng of that ladyes chere
(I woulde not for my crowne so newe
That lady chaunge hyde or hewe),
Or for to put thyselfe in drede,3
But thou myght take hym with the dede.
For yf it may be founde in thee
That thou them fame for envyté,
Thou shalt be taken as a felon,
And put full depe in my pryson,
And fetered fast unto a stone,
Tyl twelfe yere were come and gone,
And drawen wyth hors throughe the cyté,
And soone hanged upon a tre.
And thou may not thy selfe excuse,
This dede thou shalt no wise refuse.
And therfore, steward, take good hed,
How thou wilt answere to this ded."
The stewarde answered with great envy:
"That I have sayd, that I wyll stand therby;
To suffre death and endlesse wo,
Syr kynge, I wyl never go therfro.
For, yf that ye wyll graunt me here
Strength of men and great power,
I shall hym take this same nyght
In the chambre with your doughter bright.
For I shall never be gladde of chere,
Tyll I be venged of that squyer."
Than sayd the kynge full curteysly
Unto the stewarde, that stode hym by:
"Thou shalte have strength ynough with thee,
Men of armes thirty and thre,
To watche that lady muche of pryce,
And her to kepe fro her enemyes.
For there is no knyght in Chrystenté,
That wolde betray that lady fre,
But he should dye under his shelde
And I myght se hym in the feldde. 4
And therfore, stewarde, I thee pray,
Take hede what I shall to thee say.
And if the squiere come to-night,
For to speke with that lady bryght,
Let hym say whatsoever he wyll,
And here and se and holde you styll,
And herken well what he wyll say,
Or thou with him make any fray.
So he come not her chambre within,
No bate on hym loke thou begyn;
Though that he kysse that lady fre,
And take his leave ryght curteysly,
Let hym go, both hole and sounde,
Without wemme or any wounde.
But yf he wyl her chamber breke,
No worde to hym that thou do speke.
But yf he come with company
For to betraye that fayre lady,
Loke he be taken soone anone,
And all his meyné everychone,
And brought with strength to my pryson
As traytour, thefe, and false felon.
And yf he make any defence,
Loke that he never go thence;
But loke thou hew hym also small
As flesshe whan it to the potte shall.
And yf he yelde hym to thee,
Brynge him both saufe and sounde to me.
I shall borowe for seven yere
He shall not wedde my doughter dere.
And therfore, stewarde, I thee praye,
Thou watche that lady nyght and daye."
The stewarde sayde the kynge untyll:
"All your byddyng I shall fulfyll."
The stewarde toke his leave to go,
The squyer came fro chambre tho,
Downe he went into the hall.
The officers sone can he call,
Both ussher, panter, and butler,
And other that in office were.
There he them warned sone anone
To take up the bordes everychone.
Than they dyd his commaundement,
And sythe unto the kyng he went.
Full lowe he set hym on his kne,
And voyded his borde full gentely.
And whan the squyre had done so
Anone he sayde the kynge unto:
"As ye are lorde of chyvalry,
Geve me leve to passe the sea,
To prove my strenthe with my ryght hande
On Godes enemyes in uncouth land,
And to be knowe in chyvalry,
In Gascoyne, Spayne, and Lumbardy,
In eche batayle for to fyght,
To be proved a venterous knyght."
The kyng sayd to the squyer tho:
"Thou shalt have good leve to go.
I shall thee gyve both golde and fe,
And strength of men to wende with thee.
If thou be true in worde and dede,
I shall thee helpe in all thy nede."
The squyer thanked the kyng anone,
And toke his leve and forth can gone,
With joye, and blysse, and muche pryde,
With all his meyny by his syde.
He had not ryden but a whyle,
Not the mountenaunce of a myle,
Or he was ware of a vyllage.
Anone he sayde unto a page:
"Our souper soone loke it be dyght,
Here wyll we lodge all to-nyght."
They toke theyr ynnes in good intente,
And to theyr supper soone they wente.
Whan he was set, and served at meate,
Than he sayd he had forgete
To take leve of that lady fre,
The kynges doughter of Hungré.
Anone the squyer made him yare,
And by hymselfe forth can he fare.
Without strength of his meyné
Unto the castell than went he.
Whan he came to the posterne gate
Anone he entred in thereat,
And his drawen swerd in his hande,
There was no more with him wolde stande.
But it stode with hym full harde,
As ye shall here nowe, of the stewarde.
He wende in the worlde none had be
That had knowen of his pryvité.
Alas, it was not as he wende,
For all his counsayle the stewarde kende.
He had bewrayed him to the kyng
Of all his love and his woyng.
And yet he laye her chambre by,
Armed with a great company,
And beset it one eche syde,
For treason walketh wonder wyde.
The squyer thought on no mystruste,
He wende no man in the worlde had wyste.
But yf he had knowen, by Saynt John,
He had not come theder by his owne;
Or yf that lady had knowen his wyll,
That he should have come her chamber tyll,
She would have taken hym golde and fe,
Strength of men and royalté.
But there ne wyst no man nor grome
Where that squyer was become,
But forth he went hymselfe alone
Amonge his servauntes everychone.
Whan that he came her chambre to,
Anone he sayde: "Your dore undo!
Undo," he sayde, "nowe, fayre lady!
I am beset with many a spy.
Lady as whyte as whales bone,
There are thyrty agaynst me one.
Undo thy dore, my worthy wyfe,
I am besette with many a knyfe.
Undo your dore, my lady swete,
I am beset with enemyes great;
And, lady, but ye wyll aryse,
I shall be dead with myne enemyes.
Undo thy dore, my frely floure,
For ye are myne, and I am your."
That lady with those wordes awoke,
A mantell of golde to her she toke;
She sayde: "Go away, thou wicked wyght,
Thou shalt not come here this nyght;
For I wyll not my dore undo
For no man that cometh therto.
There is but one in Christenté
That ever made that forwarde with me;
There is but one that ever bare lyfe,
That ever I hight to be his wyfe;
He shall me wedde, by Mary bryght,
Whan he is proved a venterous knyght;
For we have loved this seven yere,
There was never love to me so dere.
There lyeth on me both kyng and knyght,
Dukes, erles, of muche might.
Wende forth, squyer, on your waye,
For here ye gette none other praye.
For I ne wote what ye should be,
That thus besecheth love of me."
"I am your owne squyr," he sayde,
"For me, lady, be not dismayde.
Come I am full pryvely
To take my leave of you, lady."
"Welcome," she sayd, "my love so dere,
Myne owne dere heart and my squyer;
I shall you geve kysses thre,
A thousande pounde unto your fe,
And kepe I shall my maydenhede ryght,
Tyll ye be proved a venturous knyght.
For yf ye should me wede anone
My father wolde make slee you soone.
I am the kynges doughter of Hungré,
And ye alone that have loved me.
And though you love me never so sore,
For me ye shall never be lore.
Go forth, and aske me at my kynne,
And loke what graunt you may wynne.
Yf that ye gette graunte, in faye
Myselfe therto shall not say nay.
And yf ye may not do so,
Otherwyse ye shall come to.5
Ye are bothe hardy, stronge, and wight,
Go forth and be a venterous knight.
I pray to God and our Lady,
To send you the whele of victory,
That my father so leve ye be,
That he wyll profer me to thee.
I wote well it is lyghtly sayd,
'Go forth, and be nothyng afrayde.'
A man of worshyp may not do so:
He must have what neds him unto;6
He must have gold, he must have fe,
Strength of men and royalté.
Golde and sylver spare ye nought
Tyll to manhode ye be brought;
To what batayll soever ye go,
Ye shall have an hundreth pounde or two.
And yet to me, syr, ye may saye
That I woulde fayne have you awaye,
That profered you golde and fe
Out of myne eye syght for to be.
Neverthelesse it is not so,
It is for the worshyp of us two.
Though you be come of symple kynne,
Thus my love, syr, may ye wynne,
Yf ye have grace of victory,
As ever had Syr Lybyus (or Syr Guy) -
Whan the dwarfe and mayde Ely
Came to Arthoure kyng so fre
As a kyng of great renowne -
That wan the lady of Synadowne.
Lybius was graunted the batayle tho;
Therfore the dwarfe was full wo,
And sayd: 'Arthur, thou arte to blame.
To bydde this chylde go sucke his dame
Better hym semeth, so mote I thryve,7
Than for to do these batayles fyve
At the chapell of Salebraunce.'
These wordes began great distaunce;
They sawe they had the victory,
They kneled downe and cryed mercy.
And afterward, syr, verament,
They called hym knyght absolent:
Emperours, dukes, knyghtes, and quene,
At his commaundement for to bene.
Suche fortune with grace now to you fall
To wynne the worthyest within the wall,
And thynke on your love alone,
And for to love that ye chaunge none."
Ryght as they talked thus in fere,
Theyr enemyes approched nere and nere,
Foure and thyrty armed bryght;
The steward had arayed hym to fyght.
The steward was ordeyned to spy,
And for to take them utterly.
He wende to death he should have gone,
He felled seven men agaynst hym one.
Whan he had them to grounde brought,
The stewarde at hym full sadly fought.
So harde they smote together tho
The stewardes throte he cut in two,
And sone he fell downe to the grounde,
As a traitour untrewe with many a wound.
The squyer sone in armes they hente,
And of they dyd his good garmente,
And on the stewarde they it dyd,
And sone his body therin they hydde.
And with their swordes his face they share
That she should not know what he ware.
They cast hym at her chambre dore,
The stewarde that was styffe and store.
Whan they had made that great affraye
Full pryvely they stale awaye.
In arme they take that squyer tho,
And to the kynges chambre can they go,
Without wemme or any wounde,
Before the kynge bothe hole and sounde.
As soone as the kynge him spyed with eye,
He sayd, "Welcome, sonne, sykerly!
Thou hast cast thee my sonne to be:
This seven yere I shall let thee."
Leve we here of this squyer wight,
And speake we of that lady bryght,
How she rose, that lady dere,
To take her leve of that squyer.
Also naked as she was borne,
She stod her chambre dore beforne.
"Alas," she sayd, "and weale away!
For all to long now have I lay."
She sayd, "Alas, and all for wo!
Withouten men why came ye so?
Yf that ye wolde have come to me,
Other werninges there might have be.
Now all to dere my love is bought,
But it shall never be lost for nought."
And in her armes she toke hym there,
Into the chamber she dyd hym bere.
His bowels soone she dyd out drawe,
And buryed them in Goddes lawe.
She sered that body with specery,
With vyrgin waxe and commendry;
And closed hym in a maser tre,
And set on hym lockes thre.
She put him in a marble stone,
With quaynt gynnes many one,
And set hym at hir beddes head,
And every day she kyst that dead.
Soone at morne, whan she uprose,
Unto that dead body she gose.
Therfore wold she knele downe on her kne,
And make her prayer to the Trynité,
And kysse that body twyse or thryse,
And fall in a swowne or she myght ryse.
Whan she had so done,
To chyrche than wolde she gone.
Than would she here Masses fyve,
And offre to them whyle she myght lyve:
"There shall none knowe but heven kynge
For whome that I make myne offrynge."
The kyng her father anone he sayde:
"My doughter, wy are you dysmayde,
So feare a lady as ye are one,
And so semely of fleshe and bone?
Ye were whyte as whales bone,
Nowe are ye pale as any stone;
Your ruddy read as any chery,
With browes bent and eyes full mery.
Ye were wont to harpe and syng,
And be the meriest in chambre comyng;
Ye ware both golde and good velvet,
Clothe of damaske with saphyres set;
Ye ware the pery on your head,
With stones full oryent, whyte and read;
Ye ware coronalles of golde,
With diamoundes set many a foulde.
And nowe ye were clothes of blacke,
Tell me, doughter, for whose sake?
If he be so poore of fame
That ye may not be wedded for shame,
Brynge him to me anone ryght,
I shall hym make squyer and knight;
And yf he be so great a lorde
That your love may not accorde,
Let me, doughter, that lordynge se;
He shall have golde ynoughe with thee."
"Gramercy, father, so mote I thryve,
For I mourne for no man alyve.
Ther is no man, by heven kyng,
That shal knowe more of my mournynge."
Her father knewe it every deale,
But he kept it in counsele:
"To-morowe ye shall on hunting fare,
And ryde, my doughter, in a chare,
It shal be covered with velvet reede,
And clothes of fyne golde al about your hed,
With damaske, white and asure blewe,
Wel dyapred with lyllyes newe;
Your pomelles shal be ended with gold,
Your chaynes enameled many a folde,
Your mantel of ryche degré,
Purpyl palle and armyne fre;
Jennettes of Spayne that ben so wyght,
Trapped to the ground with velvet bright.
Ye shall have harpe, sautry, and songe,
And other myrthes you amonge;
Ye shall have rumney and malmesyne,
Both ypocrasse and Vernage wyne,
Mountrose and wyne of Greke,
Both algrade and respice eke,
Antioche and bastarde,
Pyment also and Garnarde,
Wyne of Greke and muscadell,
Both clare, pyment, and Rochell.
The reed your stomake to defye,
And pottes of osey set you by.
You shall have venison ybake,
The best wylde foule that may be take.
A lese of grehound with you to streke,
And hert and hynde and other lyke.
Ye shal be set at such a tryst
That herte and hynde shall come to your fyst,
Your dysease to dryve you fro,
To here the bugles there yblow,
With theyr begles in that place,
And sevenscore raches at his rechase.
Homward thus shall ye ryde,
On haukyng by the ryvers syde,
With goshauke and with gentyll fawcon,
With egle horne and merlyon.
Whan you come home, your men amonge,
Ye shall have revell, daunces, and songe,
Lytle chyldren, great and smale,
Shall syng as doth the nyghtyngale.
Than shall ye go to your evensong,
With tenours and trebles among;
Threscore of copes of damaske bryght,
Full of perles they shal be pyght;
Your aulter clothes of taffata,
And your sicles all of taffetra.
Your sensours shal be of golde,
Endent with asure many a folde.
Your quere nor organ songe shall wante
With countre-note and dyscant,
The other halfe on orgayns playeng,
With yonge chyldren full fayre syngyng.
Than shall ye go to your suppere,
And sytte in tentes in grene arbere,
With clothes of Aras pyght to the grounde,
With saphyres set and dyamonde,
A cloth of golde abought your heade,
With popinjayes pyght, with pery read,
And offycers all at your wyll,
All maner delightes to bryng you tyll.
The nightingale sitting on a thorne
Shall synge you notes both even and morne.
An hundreth knightes truly tolde
Shall play with bowles in alayes colde,
Your disease to drive awaie;
To se the fisshes in poles plaie,
And then walke in arbere up and downe
To se the floures of great renowne.
To a draw-brydge than shall ye,
The one halfe of stone, the other of tre;
A barge shall mete you full ryght
With twenti-thre ores full bryght,
With trompettes and with claryowne,
The fresshe water to rowe up and downe.
Than shall ye go to the salte fome,
Your maner to se or ye come home,
With eighty shyppes of large towre,
With dromedaryes of great honour,
And carackes with sayles two,
The sweftest that on water may goo,
With galyes good upon the haven,
With eighty ores at the fore staven.
Your maryners shall synge arowe
'Hey how and rumbylawe.'
Than shall ye, doughter, aske the wyne,
With spices that be good and fyne,
Gentyll pottes with genger grene,
With dates and deynties you betwene;
Forty torches brenynge bryght,
At your brydges to brynge you lyght.
Into your chambre they shall you brynge
With muche myrthe and more lykyng;
Your costerdes covered with whyte and blewe,
And dyapred with lyles newe,
Your curtaines of camaca all in folde,
Your felyoles all of golde,
Your tester pery at your heed,
Curtaines with popinjayes white and reed,
Your hyllynges with furres of armyne,
Powdred with golde of hew full fyne.
Your blankettes shall be of fustyane,
Your shetes shall be of clothe of Rayne.
Your head shete shall be of pery pyght,
With dyamondes set and rubyes bryght.
Whan you are layde in bedde so softe,
A cage of golde shall hange alofte,
With longe peper fayre burnning,
And cloves that be swete smellyng,
Frankensence and olibanum,
That whan ye slepe the taste may come.
And yf ye no rest may take,
All night minstrelles for you shall wake."
"Gramercy, father, so mote I the,
For all these thinges lyketh not me."
Unto her chambre she is gone,
And fell in sownyng sone anone,
With much sorow and sighing sore;
Yet seven yeare she kept hym thore.
But leve we of that lady here,
And speake we more of that squyer,
That in pryson so was take
For the kinges doughters sake.
The kyng hymselfe upon a daye
Full pryvely he toke the waye.
Unto the pryson sone he came;
The squyer sone out he name,
And anone he made hym swere
His counsayl he should never discure.
The squyer there helde up his hande,
His byddyng never he should withstande.
The kyng him graunted ther to go
Upon his jorney to and fro,
And brefely to passe the sea,
That no man weste but he and he;
And whan he had his jurnay done,
That he wolde come full soone,
"And in my chambre for to be,
The whyles that I do ordayne for thee;
Than shalt thou wedde my doughter dere,
And have my landes both farre and nere."
The squyer was full mery tho,
And thanked the kynge, and forth gan go,
The kyng hym gave both lande and fe.
Anone the squyer passed the se.
In Tuskayne and in Lumbardy,
There he dyd great chyvalry.
In Portyngale nor yet in Spayne,
There myght no man stand hym agayne;
And where that ever that knyght gan fare,
The worshyp with hym away he bare.
And thus he travayled seven yere
In many a land bothe farre and nere,
Tyll on a day he thought hym tho
Unto the sepulture for to go.
And there he made his offerynge soone,
Right as the kinges doughter bad him don.
Than he thought hym on a day
That the kynge to hym dyd saye.
He toke his leve in Lumbardy,
And home he came to Hungry.
Unto the kynge soone he rade,
As he before his covenaunce made.
And to the kyng he tolde full soone
Of batayles bolde that he had done,
And so he did the chyvalry
That he had sene in Lumbardy.
To the kynge it was good tydande;
Anone he toke him by the hande,
And he made him full royall chere,
And sayd, "Welcome, my sonne so dere!
Let none wete of my meyné
That out of prison thou shuldest be,
But in my chamber holde thee styll,
And I shall wete my doughters wyll."
The kynge wente forth hymselfe alone,
For to here his doughters mone,
Right under the chambre window,
There he might her counseyle knowe.
Had she wyst, that lady fre,
That her father there had be,
He shulde not, withouten fayle,
Have knowen so muche of her counsayle.
Nor nothing she knew that he was there,
Whan she began to carke and care.
Unto that body she sayd tho:
"Alas that we should parte in two!"
Twyse or thryse she kyssed that body,
And fell in sownynge by and by.
"Alas!" than sayd that lady dere,
"I have thee kept this seven yere,
And now ye be in powder small,
I may no lenger holde you with all.
My love, to the earth I shall thee brynge,
And preestes for you to reade and synge.
Yf any man aske me what I have here
I wyll say it is my treasure.
Yf any man aske why I do so,
'For no theves shall come therto.'
And, squyer, for the love of thee,
Fy on this worldes vanyté!
Farewell golde pure and fyne;
Farewell velvet and satyne;
Farewell castelles and maners also;
Farewell huntynge and hawkynge to;
Farewell revell, myrthe, and play;
Farewell pleasure and garmentes gay;
Farewell perle and precyous stone;
Farewell my juielles everychone;
Farewell mantell and scarlet reed;
Farewell crowne unto my heed;
Farewell hawkes, and farewell hounde;
Farewell markes and many a pounde;
Farewell huntynge at the hare;
Farewell harte and hynde for evermare.
Nowe wyll I take the mantell and the rynge,
And become an ancresse in my lyvynge.
And yet I am a mayden for thee.
And for all the men in Chrystenté
To Chryst I shall my prayers make,
Squyer, onely for thy sake.
And I shall never no Masse heare
But ye shall have parte in feare:
And every daye whyles I lyve
Ye shall have your Masses fyve,
And I shall offre pence thre,
In tokenynge of the Trynyté."
And whan this lady had this sayde,
In sownyng she fel at a brayde.
The whyle she made this great mornynge
Under the wall stode har father the kynge.
"Doughter," he sayde, "you must not do so,
For all those vowes thou must forgo."
"Alas, father, and wele awaye!
Nowe have ye harde what I dyde saye."
"Doughter, let be all thy mournynge,
Thou shalt be wedede to a kynge."
"Iwys, father, that shall not be
For all the golde in Christenté;
Nor all the golde that ever God made
May not my harte glade."
"My doughter," he sayde, "dere derlynge,
I knowe the cause of your mournyng.
Ye wene this body your love should be,
It is not so, so mote I the.
It was my stewarde, Syr Maradose,
That ye so longe have kept in close."
"Alas! Father, why dyd ye so?"
"For he wrought you all thys wo.
He made revelation unto me
That he knewe all your pryvyté,
And howe the squyer, on a day,
Unto your chambre toke the way,
And ther he should have lyen you bi,
Had he not come with company;
And howe ye hyght hym golde and fe,
Strengthe of men and royalté;
And than he watched your chambre bryght
With men of armes hardy and wyght,
For to take that squyer
That ye have loved this seven yere.
But as the stewarde strong and stout
Beseged your chambre rounde about,
To you your love came full ryght,
All alone about mydnight.
And whan he came your dore unto,
And 'Lady,' he sayde, 'undo.'
And soone ye bade hym wende awaye,
For there he gate none other praye.
And as ye talked thus in fere,
Your enemyes drewe them nere and nere,
They smote to him full soone anone,
There were thyrty agaynst hym one.
But with a baslarde large and longe
The squyer presed in to the thronge,
And so he bare hym in that stounde,
His enemyes gave hym many a wounde.
With egre mode and herte full throwe
The stewardes throte he cut in two.
And than his meyné all in that place
With their swordes they hurte his face,
And than they toke him everichone
And layd him on a marble stone
Before your dore, that ye myght se,
Ryght as your love that he had be.
And sone the squier there they hent,
And they dyd of his good garment,
And did it on the stewarde there
That ye wist not what he were.
Thus ye have kept your enemy here,
Pallyng more than seven yere.
And as the squyer there was take
And done in pryson for your sake.
And therfore, let be your mourning,
Ye shal be wedded to a kyng,
Or els unto an emperoure,
With golde and sylver and great treasure."
"Do awaye, father, that may not be,
For all the golde in Chrystenté.
Alas, father," anone she sayde,
"Why hath this traytour me betraid?
Alas," she sayd, "I have great wrong
That I have kept him here so long.
Alas, father, why dyd ye so?
Ye might have warned me of my fo;
And ye had tolde me who it had be,
My love had never be dead for me."
Anone she tourned her fro the kyng,
And downe she fell in dead sownyng.
The kyng anone gan go,
And hente her in his armes two.
"Lady," he sayd, "be of good chere,
Your love lyveth and is here.
And he hath bene in Lombardy,
And done he hath great chyvalry.
And come agayne he is to me,
In lyfe and health ye shall him se.
He shall you wede, my doughter bryght,
I have hym made squier and knyght;
He shal be a lorde of great renowne,
And after me to were the crowne."
"Father," she sayd, "if it so be,
Let me soone that squyer se."
The squyer forth than dyd he brynge,
Full fayre on lyve and in lykynge.
As sone as she saw him with her eye,
She fell in sownyng by and by.
The squyer her hente in armes two,
And kyssed her an hundreth tymes and mo.
There was myrth and melody
With harpe, getron, and sautry,
With rote, ribible, and clokarde,
With pypes, organs, and bumbarde,
With other mynstrelles them amonge,
With sytolphe and with sautry songe,
With fydle, recorde, and dowcemere,
With trompette and with claryon clere,
With dulcet pipes of many cordes:
In chambre revelyng all the lordes,
Unto morne that it was daye.
The kyng to his doughter began to saye:
"Have here thy love and thy lyking,
To lyve and ende in Gods blessinge.
And he that wyll departe you two,
God geve him sorow and wo!
A trewer lover than ye are one
Was never yet of fleshe ne bone;
And but he be as true to thee
God let him never thryve ne thee."
The kyng in herte he was full blithe,
He kissed his doughter many a sithe,
With melody and muche chere.
Anone he called his messengere,
And commaunded him soone to go
Through his cities to and fro
For to warne his chevalry
That they should come to Hungry
That worthy wedding for to se
And come unto that mangeré.
That messenger full sone he wente,
And did the kinges commaundemente.
Anone he commaunded bothe olde and yonge
For to be at that weddyng,
Both dukes and erles of muche myght,
And ladyes that were fayre and bryght.
As soone as ever they herde the crye,
The lordes were full soone redy.
With myrth and game and muche playe
They wedded them on a solempne daye.
A royall feest there was holde,
With dukes and erles and barons bolde,
And knyghtes and squyers of that countré,
And sith with all the comunalté.
And certaynly, as the story sayes,
The revell lasted forty dayes,
Tyll on a day the kyng himselfe
To hym he toke his lordes twelfe,
And so he dyd the squyer
That wedded his doughter dere,
And even in the myddes of the hall
He made him kyng among them al.
And all the lordes everychone
They made him homage sone anon;
And sithen they revelled all that day,
And toke theyr leve, and went theyr way,
Eche lorde unto his owne countré,
Where that hym semed best to be.
That yong man and the quene his wyfe,
With joy and blysse they led theyr lyfe.
For also farre as I have gone,
Suche two lovers sawe I none.
Therfore blessed may theyr soules be,
Amen, amen, for charyté!

(see note)
(see note)
gracious; polite; (see note)

master of ceremonies
placed [at table]
bold; courageous

secretly mourning
knew what for
(see note); (t-note)

person; Christendom; (t-note)

closer (i.e., to fulfilment)
as regards; property
truly; (see note)
dared; complaint
sorely all by himself
always; sad

very pleasant; (see note)
orchard; (see note)

there could not
(see note)
wormwood; (t-note)
red; (see note)
beech; laurel
damson (kind of plum)
filbert (hazel)

many a one


lark; (see note)
robin; oriole; (see note); (t-note)
magpie; parrot
thrush; (t-note)

spread her [wings]; twig
song-thrush; very merry
nuthatch; tunes
formed; accurately

perched; briar
birds more
pure (fine)

(see note)
grassy slope; down


If only; property; (t-note)
So that; noble
[Rich] of fine gold
paragon of ladies
[had] come; noble family; (see note)
That I might win the lady's love

(see note)
[deeds of] chivalry
(see note)
[be] so valiant
giant; (see note)
If; to the test; (t-note)


Because of; all my pleasure disappears
sorrowful expression
fell down in a swoon

oriel where; (see note)
precious; (see note)
Completely covered; pictures
one after another
Fastened; different

at once

secret; reveal
remedy from misery
had been; happiness
happy; then



descended; high family
[were] not well pleased; (t-note)

I have been in

foreign land; (see note)

visit [the place]; alive

hardship; go; (see note)

unless; help

in [your] disdain remain
(see note)

where; (t-note)

betrayed because of

in return

stop; secret
want to obtain what you desire
Hear; still

destroy you if; can
At once because of; arrested

submit to
Perhaps [be]; drawn
I do not wish to

For if you; wish to

spurs; (see note)


increase; reputation

one after another
followers every one

[you must] pass; sea

[you must] undertake

always do what's right
pay proper attention

Rhodes; (see note)
hold up; praise

coat of arms; qualified; (see note)
red; black
escutcheon; blue
As a sign; faithful; (t-note)

Filled; pictures; (see note)

fret (ornament for the hair)

(see note)

red; (see note)

(metal) headpiece; polished
neckguard; adorned

circlet [of gold] bright carved; (see note)
color; (see note); (t-note)
armor; strapped; (see note); (t-note)
(see note)
sprinkled; ermine

retainers (yeomen)

You need to go even farther
(see note)


In the presence of
gold coins (florins); (see note)
Because; alive

As a symbol of


(see note)
knightly expedition; (see note)
for costs

[To] send; weal/wheel; (see note)
So that; pleased
give me in marriage

wealth; joy; (see note)

achieve that; (see note)
Differently; act

hasten; quickly

one after another

wait for
(i.e., whatever may happen to you)

three times; then
went; (see note)
close to them
quite well

to betray
(see note)

wrath; (see note)

He beat his brains


felt; resentment
misfortune; (t-note)
let us leave

left; noble
headband (worn as a badge of office); (see note)


at last



was; lack

before; at once

genuinely; (see note)
according to their rank; (see note)

(see note)

absolutely nothing

immediately he went

promised; property

moved; closer
would have lain with her
did he flee

(see note)
courteous; considerate
since; (see note); (t-note)
for me
I am not able to

child; crave; wantonness; (see note)
Even if

without any doubt

meet; adversity

fitting; (see note); (t-note)
in this way
in accordance with; rank
in the service of the crown

(see note)
(i.e., draw your conclusion from this)

pity [if]; ruined

As it would change; complexion

grow pale; (see note)
(see note)
Unless; in the act; (see note)
defame out of envy; (t-note)
arrested; criminal

thereupon; (see note); (t-note)
death; escape

Even if I had to
depart from it

avenged on

noble lady


Before; fight; (t-note)
If; (t-note)
strife; see to it [that you do not]; (see note)

Unless; break into

See to it; seized
under security

puts up

cut; as
meat; into; must go

pledge that

wishes; (t-note)

servant in charge of the pantry; (see note)

after that
cleared his place

cross; (see note)
(i.e., in battle); (see note)
known among knights


Before; aware

supper; prepared
we all
lodging with good intentions


prepared himself; (t-note)

through it

no one; (see note)
But he was yet to have a hard time of it
[because] of
thought; been; (t-note)

secret; knew; (t-note)

Even then; close to

surrounded; every
betrayal spreads like wildfire; (see note)
known [it]
would not; there by himself

Force; splendor
What had happened to that squire
Except that
From among

(see note)

surrounded by; (see note)
(see note)
(see note)

unless; get up

put on
creature; (see note)

was alive

are courting me

Go; (see note)


marry [too] soon
have you killed

(see note)
ever so deeply
for my hand from my family
on my word

brave; courageous

[to] my father so dear will you be; (t-note)
offer you my hand; (t-note)


Before; have grown

[I] who

humble descent
In the following way
the good fortune
once; (see note)

(see note)

discord; (see note)


May such fortune

waver not a bit
glittering armed men
lined them up
had prepared himself
thought; (see note)
struck down; alone


(see note)
by force of arms; seized
who he was

fearless; strong; (see note)
completed; assault
secretly; sneaked
Under guard


got it into your head
obstruct you [in this]


warnings; been
too dearly

in accordance with Christian practice
impregnated; aromatic spices
pure wax; dry cumin; (t-note)
[coffin of] maple

ingenious devices

In front of it

(see note)

(see note)

complexion red


very resplendent


Thank you, father, as I may prosper

go; (see note)

adorned; (see note)
knobs [of the litter]

high quality
fine cloth; ermine
Small horses; swift
Caparisoned; (see note)
white Spanish and sweet wine
spiced cordial; Italian white wine; (t-note)
from Greece; (see note)
Cretan wine; raspis (red wine)
wine from Antioch; sweet Spanish wine
Wine with honey; wine from Granada
claret; wine from La Rochelle
red; to help digest
Alsatian wine
leash (i.e., three); run; (t-note)
and the like
place; (see note)

distress; from
hunting horns; blown
beagles; (t-note)
140 hounds; recall; (see note)

(a kind of hawk); merlin

Sixty cloaks
altar cloths; glossy silk fabric
cyclas (see note)
Ornamented; (see note)
choir; lack
contrapuntal singing; descant; (see note)

tapestries; hung; (see note)

parrots decorated; jewelry red; (see note)
tunes; evening; morning
all told
at skittles; paths cooled; (see note)

you will [go]
right there


foam (i.e., sea); (see note)
manor; before
tower; (see note)
dromonds (large ships); (see note)
carracks (galleons)

oars; stem
in a canon

ginger; (see note)
(see note)

bed hangings
adorned; lilies
brocaded silk cloth; folds; (t-note)
bedpost finials
jewelled canopy; head (of bed); (t-note)

coverings; furs of ermine
Ornamented; appearance
fustian; (see note)
pillow cover; jewelry adorned

pleasantly; (see note)

aromatic gum
come [to you]

as I may prosper
But; are not to my liking




secret; reveal

wish; act counter to

here and there
knew [it]; the two of them


At the time; set down


deeds of prowess

withstand him; (t-note)
honor; took

intended; then
sepulcher (of Christ)

asked him to do
(see note)


told about


gave him a royal welcome

know; retinue

remain quietly
know; (see note)


would be

Not at all; (see note)
grieve; lament

be separated

time and again

fine dust

In order that




(see note)
I am still; (see note)

share [it] with me







closed up

Because; contrived


would; lain

promised; property
suitable regalia

brave; courageous


(see note)

at once; asked; to go
at that point; would get; favor; (see note)
together; (t-note)

dagger; (t-note)
hour; (t-note)
(see note)
eager; persistent

(the steward's) followers
cut up
all together

Just as if; been
took off

In order that; knew; who

Languishing (decaying); (see note)
give up

Stop it; cannot

I have been greatly wronged





in good condition; (t-note)


cittern; psaltery
fiddle, rebec; bells
bombard (bass shawm)

flageolet; dulcimer

sweet-sounding; harmonies
with all the lords revelling



nor; (t-note)
Amidst the music

here and there
advise his knights


carried out; order
(see note)



entertainment; amusement
got married

afterwards; common people

called; (see note)

right; middle



as far; traveled

  Thus endeth undo your doore, otherwise called the squyer of lowe degré.
Imprented at London, by me Wyllyam Copland.

Go To The Squier of Low Degree, Percy Folio