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The Historie of ane Nobil and Vailyeand Squyer, William Meldrum, Umquhyle Laird of Cleische and Bynnis

Sir David Lyndsay, THE HISTORIE OF SQUYER MELDRUM: FOOTNOTES


1 “In that case,” said she, “if you will not take a spouse”

2 I couldn’t care less about your loud boasts

3 Where splendid arrangements were made and space cleared

4 They pressed (assailed) boldly to prove their vigor

5 That round jousting area was used to the utmost

6 Lines 535–36: And through the bridle hand [he] bore [it] / And in [his] breast more than a span

7 And said: “This is just the fortunes of war”

8 The Southern (i.e., English) were always five (Englishmen) to one (Scotsman)

9 It was all (i.e., there was nothing else except) capturing and killing

10 Lines 659–60: No man ever gave better support; / There might (be) no shield (able to) withstand his sword

11 Had not the Frenchmen come to separate them

12 At Dieppe he prepared himself for a journey by sea

13 Lines 717–18: And cried: “I see no other option, by God, / But that we must either fight or flee”

14 That many missiles flew over her [i.e., the ship]

15 That none might stay on their feet for the slipperiness

16 They laid on banquets for him from one place to another

17 With excellent sweetmeats, meat (brawn) and jelly

18 Lines 1014–15: “I tell you, I wouldn’t have tired of it / Even if I’d dawdled there until noon”

19 For as long as he had military strength at his command

20 Lines 1164–65: Then the squire resolved, / In preparation for the merry season of May

21 If it [i.e., the dispensation] had come from abroad, he would have enjoyed possession of her [i.e., in marriage]

22 On account of which he fought in many a battle

23 For you have never been so hard-pressed

24 But hand-to-hand, without anyone separating us

25 Lines 1335–36: On the point of raging so [much] / that no man might calm his anger

26 Should he escape, we’ll be dishonored

27 On account of which she cursed her fate daily

28 The cruel men prevailed in their violence

29 Of meat (“brawn”) and jelly there was no lack


Sir David Lyndsay, THE HISTORIE OF SQUYER MELDRUM: EXPLANATORY NOTES


ABBREVIATIONS: A: Edinburgh, Heir of Andrew Anderson, 1683 (Wing L2322); Acts of Council (Public Affairs): Acts of the Lords of Council in Public Affairs; AN: Anglo-Norman; AND: Anglo- Norman Dictionary; Bawcutt and Riddy: Longer Scottish Poems Vol. 1, ed. Bawcutt and Riddy; Bruce: Barbour, The Bruce, ed. McDiarmid and Stevenson; C: Edinburgh: Henrie Charteris, 1594 (STC [2nd ed.] 15679); Cal. State Papers (Venice): Calendar of State Papers and Manuscripts relating to English Affairs; Clariodus: Clariodus; A Metrical Romance, ed. Irving; CT: Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, ed. Benson; DOST: Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue; EETS: Early English Text Society; ER: The Exchequer Rolls of Scotland; Hadley Williams: Lyndsay, Sir David Lyndsay: Selected Poems, ed. Hadley Williams; Hamer: Lyndsay, The Works of Sir David Lindsay, ed. Hamer; Hary’s Wallace: Hary, The Wallace, ed. McDiarmid; L: Edinburgh: Richard Lawson, 1610 (STC [2nd ed.] 15680); LP Henry VIII: Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, of the Reign of Henry VIII; MdnE: Modern English; ME: Middle English; MED: Middle English Dictionary; NIMEV: New Index of Middle English Verse; NLS: Edinburgh, National Library of Scotland; NRS: National Records of Scotland; ODNB: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; OE: Old English; OED: Oxford English Dictionary; OF: Old French; PH: Douglas, Palis of Honoure, ed. Parkinson; Poems: Dunbar, Poems of William Dunbar, ed. Bawcutt; Reg. Mag. Sig.: Registrum Magni Sigilli Regum Scotorum (Register of the Great Seal of Scotland); Reg. Sec. Sig.: Registrum Secreti Sigilli Regum Scotorum (Register of the Privy Seal of Scotland); RPS: Records of the Parliament of Scotland; S: Glasgow: Robert Sanders, 1683 (Wing L2322); STC: A Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England, Scotland and Ireland and English Books Printed Abroad 1473–1640, ed. Pollard and Redgrave; STS: Scottish Text Society; TA: Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland, ed. Dickson and Paul; TC: Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde, ed. Benson; Testament: Testament of Squyer Meldrum; Whiting: Whiting, Proverbs, Sentences and Proverbial Sayings from English Writings Before 1500; Wing: Wing, Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England, Scotland and Ireland, Wales and British America and of English Books Printed in Other Countries 1641–1700.

Textual notes are so few that they have been included here rather than listed separately. All translations are mine unless otherwise specified.


4 Quhilk suld to us be richt mirrouris. The injunction to emulate the noble deeds of ancestors is a common way to open any romance, epic, or chivalry biography which purports to tell of historical personages, as with these lines from Florimond of Albany:
Quha blythlie will of elderris reid
And tak exemple of þair gude deid,
He may greitlie avansit be
Give he will follov þair bounte
(ed. Purdie, lines 5–9, p. 87)
or the more admonitory opening lines of Hary’s Wallace:
Our antecessowris that we suld of reide
And hald in mynde, thar nobille worthi deid
We lat ourslide throw werray sleuthfulnes,
And castis ws euir till vthir besynes.
(1.1–4)
“To make a mirror of the falling of another,” meanwhile, was proverbial (see Whiting M581). “Now maik ȝour merour be me, all maner of man” laments the shamed owl in Richard Holland’s fifteenth-century Scots Buke of the Howlat (line 970). A variant of this sentiment is the injunction to look into one’s own mirror for the self-knowledge that might help to avoid sin, as when the hideous ghost of Guinevere’s mother warns her daughter to “Muse on þi mirrour” in the Awntyrs off Arthure at the Terne Wathelyn (line 167). The use of the phrase by the heroic leader Golagros after he has been defeated by Gawain combines the strength to be derived from self-reflection with the warning example of his own misfortune:
Ilk man my kyth be his cure [“recognise through his study”]
Baith knyght, king, and empriour,
And muse in his myrrour,
And mater maist mine is. [“and mine is the greatest example”]
(lines 1232–35)
Meldrum, too, will eventually suffer a terrible reversal of fortune in battle.

13–22 Sum wryt of . . . . in weirlie weidis. The types of hero are listed in careful order of precedence: conquerors, emperors; kings, champions, and knights; and finally unknighted squires such as Meldrum. Although this might seem to belittle Meldrum’s status, the later Middle Ages saw more than one squire who was greatly respected for his martial prowess but nevertheless remained unknighted, whether to avoid the considerable expense involved or simply because they saw the title of squire as sufficiently prestigious (see Keen, Chivalry, pp. 144–45). Stevenson gives the Scottish example of Patrick Crichton of Cranstonriddel, who became keeper of Edinburgh Castle in 1495, held a number of royal offices, and sat in parliament in 1513 (Chivalry and Knighthood in Scotland, p. 39). Wyntoun’s Original Chronicle, describing the siege of Norham in 1355, notes:
Twa gud sqwyaris, for suyth I heicht,
Off Scottis men deit in þat feicht:
Ane was Iohun of Haliburtone,
A nobil sqwyar of gret ranowne;
Iames Turnbuyl þe toþir wes.
Þar saulis to Paradise mot passe.
(Cotton MS, 6:209, 8.6571–76)
On the other hand, it was still quite common practice for kings or military leaders to knight followers who had performed the kind of exemplary military service that Meldrum apparently did in France. It is also unusual for a romance — the literary paradigm followed in this passage — to have a squire rather than a knight as its hero, although one famous example is the late fifteenth-century English romance The Squire of Low Degree: for later allusions to this romance, see notes to lines 907–26 below.

24–26 As Chauceir wrait . . . . and of Medea. Lyndsay follows in the tradition of Scottish poets such as Henryson, Dunbar, and Douglas with this implicit invitation to compare his poetry to Chaucer’s, which was held up as the gold standard of elegant “Inglis” verse: see Henryson, Testament of Cresseid, line 41; Dunbar, Goldyn Targe, lines 253–61; PH, lines 919–20. Troilus and Criseyde was Chaucer’s most admired work in the late medieval period.

Neither of the pairs of lovers cited here bodes well: Troilus is forsaken by his love Cressida, while Jason abandons Medea after using her to win the golden fleece. Chaucer stops his version of the tale there in his “Legend of Medea” (Legend of Good Women, ed. Benson, lines 1580–1679) but Gower’s more gripping version includes Medea’s terrible revenge of burning Jason’s new wife Creusa to death and murdering the two sons of their own union (Confessio Amantis, ed. Peck, 5.3247–4222).

27 Cleo. Clio is the muse of History and is therefore appropriate here: she was famously invoked by Chaucer in TC (2.8–14). Douglas writes in the Palis of Honoure of “Lady Cleo, quhilk craftely dois set / Historiis ald lyk as thay wer present” (lines 854–55), but Dunbar associates her with the writing of poetry more generally: “My Lady Cleo, that help of makaris bene” (Goldyn Targe, Poems, 1:186, line 77). In another poem roughly contemporary with the Historie, Lyndsay — no longer in playful mode — rejects all classical gods or muses as sources of inspiration in favor of God alone. He promises to write:
Withoute ony vaine inuocatioun
To Minerua or to Melpominee.
Nor ȝitt wyll I mak supplicatioun,
For help, to Cleo nor Caliopee:
Sick marde Musis may mak me no supplee                 [confounded; assistance]

(Ane Dialogue betuix Experience and ane Courteour, ed. Hamer, 1:204, lines 216–20)
28 Minerve. Minerva is the goddess of wisdom. In James I’s Kingis Quair, the narrator is led to her by the personification “Good Hope” after he has visited Venus (lines 778 ff.). In Douglas’ Palis of Honoure, the first procession seen by the narrator is that of Minerva, surrounded by mainly classical and biblical figures of prophecy, learning, and wisdom: “Yone is the Quene of Sapience, but dout, / Lady Minerve” (lines 241–42).

30–34 Quhais douchtines during . . . . did me schaw. Lyndsay’s assurance that he can personally attest to the squire’s levels of valor is combined with the revelation that Meldrum himself has supplied all the details that Lyndsay “did not knaw.” On the one hand, this invokes the great authority of eyewitness testimony. On the other, Lyndsay thereby reveals that, for at least some of this history, there is no authority other than Meldrum’s own word. Meldrum’s tendency to sing his own praises will be vividly dramatized in the Testament.

36 Descryve the deidis and the man. A glancing allusion to the opening phrase of Virgil’s Aeneid, Arma virumque cano (“I sing of arms and the man . . .”), translated by Gavin Douglas in his Eneados of 1513 as “The batalis and the man I wil discrive” (2:19, line 1). This reference to the empire-founding Aeneas (and indirectly also to the brilliance of Virgil’s poetry) makes lines 37–38 something of an anti-climax: Meldrum “spent his youth in love most pleasantly, without [incurring] disgrace,” although Lyndsay does then add that he performed “douchtie deidis” too (line 39). See note to lines 875–80 below for a more direct comparison of Meldrum to Aeneas.

48–64 Sir Lancelote du Lake . . . . cum na gude. The story of Lancelot and Guinevere’s affair was clearly well known in Lyndsay’s Scotland. The Complaynt of Scotland of c. 1550 cites a “lancelot du lac” (ed. Stewart, p. 50 [fol. 50v]) which may or may not refer to the fifteenth-century Older Scots Lancelot of the Laik. This romance, incomplete in its only extant copy, is based on material from the OF non-cyclical Lancelot du Lac and it recounts some of Lancelot’s youthful exploits and the early stages of his affair with Guinevere — appropriately enough for this comparison to the young Meldrum. Although Lancelot is a positive figure in the Older Scots Lancelot, Cooper argues that the relative dearth of Lancelot material in medieval English literature before Malory may indicate a populace for whom “Lancelot, if they had heard of him at all, was merely one of the minor knights; and to whom any ideas of Arthur’s incest and Lancelot’s adultery with Guinevere were either unknown, or else regarded as slanderous French fictions” (“The Lancelot-Grail Cycle in England,” p. 153). Lyndsay’s dig at Lancelot foreshadows Roger Ascham’s famous condemnation of Malory’s Morte Darthur as a danger to the young and the gullible (though an appropriate source of amusement for the wise): “the whole pleasure of which booke standeth in two speciall poyntes, in open mans slaughter, and bold bawdrye: In which booke those be counted the noblest Knightes, that do kill most men without any quarell, and commit fowlest aduoulteries by subtlest shiftes: as Sir Launcelote, with the wife of king Arthure his master . . . This is good stuffe, for wise men to laughe at, or honest men to take pleasure at” (The Scholemaster, ed. Wright, p. 231).

50 sword nor knyfe. See lines 156–60 where Meldrum dispatches his opponent with a dagger once his sword has shattered. The phrase itself is conventional and recurs here at lines 795, 1300, 1363, 1402, 1511. Compare the Bruce: “Yai seruyt yaim on sa gret wane / With scherand swerdis and with knyffis / Yat weile ner all left ye lyvys” (“They served them so plentifully with slicing swords and with knives that almost all lost their lives”; 16.458–60).

67–69 Ane gentilman of . . . . nobilnes lineallie discendit. Hamer notes that “the marriage of Meldrum daughters with nobility was not uncommon throughout their history” (3:189). In his History of Greater Britain of 1521, the Scottish Unionist scholar John Major remarked of the Scots that “they take inordinate pleasure in noble birth, and . . . delight in hearing themselves spoken of as come of noble blood” (p. 45). Nevertheless, while late medieval English society tended to distinguish between nobility and mere gentry, social demarcations in Scotland seem to have been less rigid (see Wormald, “Lords and Lairds in Fifteenth-Century Scotland,” pp. 181–200). See further note to line 1566 below.

75 Cleische and Bynnis. On squire Meldrum’s estates, see the Introduction, “Squire of Cleish and Binns.”

79 Proportionat weill; of mid stature. Compare Barbour’s description of Thomas Randolph, earl of Moray: “He wes off mesurabill [medium] statur / And weile porturat at mesur [fashioned proportionately]” (Bruce, 10.285–86). The Buik of King Alexander the Conquerour attributed to Gilbert Hay includes a lengthy disquisition on “phisnomye,” or how to assess men by the details of their appearance (ed. Cartwright, 3:22–31, lines 10108–483), and it speaks approvingly of the man who “haldis gude mesure in all his proportioun, / Off hede, of body, of lymmes vp and doun” and is “Nor hie nor law, nor fatt nor lene alsua,” because “In mydlin way þe wertew is evir neist [most present]” (ed. Cartwright, 3:29–30, lines 10408–09, 10421, and 10433).

Nevertheless, it is more common for heroes to be described as tall and broad. Hary says of Wallace that “Ix quartaris large he was in lenth indeid. / Thryd part that lenth in schuldrys braid was he” (Hary’s Wallace, 10.1224–25: McDiarmid notes that this would make Wallace about seven feet tall, 2:256n1224).

88 In Ingland first. It is not entirely clear whether this reference to Meldrum’s exercise of prowess “[i]n Ingland first” is meant to refer to the raid on Carrickfergus (an English-held town in Ireland, see lines 91 ff.), or if Lyndsay is alluding to events in Meldrum’s past which are not narrated here. The latter is implied by Meldrum’s extravagant farewell to the “lustie ladies cleir” of London in the Testament, line 216, but Meldrum’s reliability as a “witness” to his own life has been called into question by that point.

90 ff. the kingis greit admirall. James Hamilton, first earl of Arran (1475?–1529) was made commander of the Scottish fleet — thus “the kingis greit admirall” — in July 1513; he is named as the earl of Arran here in line 216 (see ODNB, “Hamilton, James, first earl of Arran (1475?–1529)” for details). The Scottish Navy left Leith on 25 July 1513 to sail for France in order to assist the French against Henry VIII, who had sailed for Calais in June 1513 (Macdougall, James IV, pp. 268–69). They took the longer route counter-clockwise around the island of Britain, apparently stopping in Ireland to bombard the English stronghold of Carrickfergus (“Craigfergus,” line 95). It is not clear whether James IV had intended them to attack Carrickfergus along the way (Pitscottie assumed Arran was disobeying orders in hopes of private gain; Historie and Cronicles, ed. Mackay, 1:256–58, but see discussion in Macdougall, James IV, pp. 268–69), or if they were simply taking the longer route to avoid the English navy, who were lying in wait for them off the coast of Kent. Certainly the English navy had hoped to intercept them: Hall’s Chronicle, a contemporary English chronicle written in the 1530s, records the English admiral Howard’s disappointment that “he hadde soughte the Scottyshe Nauye, then beynge on the sea, but he coulde not mete with theim, because they were fledde into Fraunce, be the coste of Irelande” (p. 558).

102–03 Savit all wemen . . . . all preistis and freiris. A chivalric obligation to protect women is cited in numerous manuals of chivalry, implied in numerous romances, and given explicit expression by Malory in the “Pentecostal oath” sworn by the knights of the Round Table at the end of “The Wedding of King Arthur”: “allwayes to do ladyes, damesels, and jantilwomen and wydowes soccour, strengthe hem in hir ryghtes, and never to enforce them, uppon payne of dethe” (Le Morte Darthur, ed. Field, 1:97, lines 31–33). Malory shows little concern for protecting men of the Church, but the fifteenth-century Scottish translator of various chivalric treatises, Sir Gilbert Hay, is careful to include them in his Buke of the Ordre of Knychthede (a translation of a French version of Ramon Llull’s Llibre de l’orde de cavalleria):
Alssua be vertu of fayth and gude custumes / knychtis defendis the clerkis and kirk men fra wikkit tyrane men / the quhilk agaynis the faith / and for default of faith schapis thame to derob and our’thraw bathe clerkis and kirkmen. (Chapter 7, Prose Works, ed. Glenn, 3:40, lines 32–36)
The immediate model for Lyndsay may be Hary’s Wallace, who similarly refuses to slay “wemen and barnys” or “preystis als that war nocht in the feild [i.e., who did not fight]” when skirmishing in France (Hary’s Wallace, 9.647–52).

109 naikit as scho was borne. The squire’s later demand that the soldiers return her “sark” shows that this is meant literally (see note to line 119 below).

119 sark. This is a “chemise.” That the men have taken her “sark” is proof that she really is naked (line 109), since this is the item worn next to the skin, over top of which would go a “kirtill” (line 121). Compare Henryson’s The Garmont of Gud Ladeis: “Hir sark suld be hir body nixt / Of chestetie so quhyt” (ed. Fox, p. 162, lines 9–10).

120 And tak to yow all uther wark. As Hamer notes, Meldrum here “allows the men their proper share of plunder,” taking “wark” in the sense of “pieces of workmanship,” i.e., the lady’s costly outer clothing and jewelry (see DOST wark (n.), sense 7).

122 ane garland of hir heid. L’s “ane garland on her head” seems at first glance to be the sensible reading here, but the maiden is at this point “naikit as scho was borne” (line 109), so the enameled gold garland “of” (i.e., “from”) her head is evidently amongst the spoils that her attackers have stolen from her.

128 quhyte as milk. The tradition of describing a beautiful woman’s skin as “white as milk” goes back at least as far as Geoffrey of Vinsauf’s influential early thirteenth-century guide to writing elegant poetry, the Poetria Nova (trans. Nims, p. 37). See note to lines 944–49 below.

131 Sanct Fillane. St. Fáelán was an early Scottish confessor-saint whom an early Irish martyrology connects with Strathearn, the area of Perthshire to which Meldrum himself will return in triumph after his career in France. Although his legend became conflated with Irish saints of the same name, St. Fillan’s cult was well established in western Perthshire by the ninth century and his popularity was greatly enhanced in later medieval Scotland through Robert Bruce’s devotion to him: later generations of Scots could evoke the spirit of Robert Bruce by swearing by him. See Taylor, “The Cult of St Fillan in Scotland.” The fact that the maiden’s attackers swear by St. Fillan indicates that they are not, in fact, enemy English soldiers, but Irish or (most probably) some of Meldrum’s fellow Scots.

142 from his harnes flew the fyre. The image of blows so ferocious that they strike sparks from weapons or armor was conventional and presumably also realistic. See line 462 and MED “fir” (n.), sense 4b, for further examples.

195–96 Ane lufe taking, / Ane riche rubie set in ane ring. Rings as love tokens are a staple of medieval romance, often (though not always) magical. In Ywain and Gawain, the Middle English version of Chrétien’s Yvain, Alundyne presents Ywain with a magical ring which he later loses (ed. Braswell, lines 1527–44); in Perceval of Galles the hero helps himself to a ring as love-token from the maiden in the tent (ed. Braswell, lines 471–76); in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Gawain refuses a ruby ring pressed upon him by Bertilak’s amorous wife (ed. Tolkien and Gordon, lines 1817–23). Meldrum himself will accept another ruby ring love-token from the Lady of Gleneagles. See lines 1002–06.

205–06 Suld I not . . . . and my honour. It is hardly necessary to comment on the irony of the lady’s wish to become Meldrum’s lover (to “lufe him paramour”) out of gratitude for his saving her “honour.” The trope of an insistent maiden disappointed in her pursuit of the hero is a commonplace of romance: it will be repeated after the squire's military triumphs in France (lines 685–91) and once again invites comparison of Meldrum to Lancelot, although the unattached Meldrum has no particular reason for refusing these ladies. This creates a build-up for his great affair with the lady of Gleneagles, whose advances he will not refuse, but the implied parallel with Guinevere also hints at her part in his tragic fall. See note to lines 863–65 below.

216 erle of Arrane. See note to line 90 ff.

233 munyeoun. “darling, favourite, lover.” From the French mignon, it is not recorded until the very end of the fifteenth century by DOST or the OED. The term is (though not always) used in a derogatory sense, whence ME “minion.”

234 Meik . . . lyk ane lame. The description of a martial hero as being “meek like a lamb” off of the battlefield, contrasted with the ferocity of a lion on it (as at line 236), is more conventional than it might first appear. In the earlier twelfth century it was applied by St. Bernard of Clairvaux to the fledgling order of the Knights Templar in his In Praise of the New Knighthood (De laude novae militae), addressed to one of the order’s founders, Hugh de Payens:
Thus in a wondrous and unique manner they appear gentler than lambs, yet fiercer than lions. I do not know if it would be more appropriate to refer to them as monks or as soldiers, unless perhaps it would be better to recognize them as being both. (Clairvaux, In Praise of the New Knighthood, p. 48)
243 pruifit. C: pruift. L: proued. Although this word may well have been pronounced as a single syllable as Charteris spells it, the weak participial ending is otherwise spelled -it as if it were syllabic (as in the rhyme-pair “luifit,” line 244) so this is almost certainly a simple error on Charteris’ part.

245–53 Hary the aught . . . . was daylie skirmishing. Henry VIII had landed at Calais on 30 June 1513, but the Scottish fleet only arrived off the French coast in mid-September. Henry celebrated his capture of the town of Thérouanne in late August and Tournai in late September of that year. He apparently received news of the English victory at Flodden while at Tournai before returning to Dover in late October 1513, undisturbed by the Franco-Scottish navy which meant to intercept him. This allows for a window of perhaps a month for Meldrum to have performed the “douchtie deidis” (line 230) that establish his reputation, up to and including his great battle against the English champion Talbart. On Henry’s movements, see Scarisbrick, Henry VIII, pp. 35–38; the diary of John Taylor, clerk of the Parliament (LP Henry VIII, 1:626–27). On Scottish preparations for war, see Macdougall, James IV, pp. 264–76. On the Franco-Scottish navy, see Spont, Letters and Papers, pp. xliv, 185–89.

249 The King of France his greit armie. The king of France is Louis XII (d. 1 Jan 1514/15). For the grammar of this phrase, see DOST he (pron.), sense 3c, his “substituted for the inflection -is.”

265–71 Thair was into . . . . for to avance. Hamer suggests that “Maister Talbart” might be one Sir Humphrey Talbot, eldest son of Sir Gilbert Talbot who was then lieutenant or deputy of Calais, adding that “[h]is eldest son, Sir Humphrey, is not recorded in the State Papers, but he was known as “the Giant.” He died on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.” Hadley Williams, uneasily registering Hamer’s lack of support for this statement, points to the episode’s similarity to the common romance trope of a fight with a giant, as does Kinsley. An outstanding example of giant-slaying on behalf of one’s country is Guy of Warwick’s defeat of the Danish giant Colbrand for the grateful King Athelstan of England. In addition to the Middle English versions of Guy of Warwick, a separate ballad of Guy and Colebrande was in existence by the fifteenth century (see Purdie, Anglicising Romance, pp. 193–94).

Hamer’s unreferenced label of “the giant” for Sir Humphrey Talbot appears to derive from a 1569 visitation of officers of the College of Arms to Worcestershire. The section on “Talbot of Lacock” lists “Sir Gilbart Talbott . . . Lord Deputy of Callis” as having three children, the eldest of whom is listed as “Henrey Talbott fils ob. s.p. [i.e., “died without issue”] (Sir Humphrey Talbott surnamed the Giant died in the Holy Land)” (The Visitation, ed. Phillimore, pp. 133–34). While this must be Hamer’s source, it does not in itself cite any source for the information and there is no other record of this Henry or Humphrey Talbot’s service in France. There are occasional references in LP Henry VIII to a son of Sir Gilbert Talbot serving in France, but they do not give a forename and seem likely to refer instead to his son Sir Gilbert “of Grafton” (see for example no. 1692, LP Henry VIII 1:775–76), who may be the “Sir Gilbert Talbot the younger” listed amongst the captains of the vanguard led by the earl of Shrewsbury (LP Henry VIII, 1:608, no. 4253 [16 June 1513]).

The most famous Talbot fighting in France is of course the earl of Shrewsbury himself, George Talbot. As well as being lieutenant of the vanguard in France in 1513, Shrewsbury was steward or master of the king’s house, and was therefore occasionally referred to as “master Talbot,” as for example in a blackletter pamphlet describing the meeting of Henry VIII with the French king Francis I at the Field of the Cloth of Gold in June 1520 (LP Henry VIII 3:303–06, no. 869 [11 June 1520]). The chivalric prestige of George, and of the Talbot earls of Shrewsbury more generally, is indicated by the Venetian ambassador Andrea Badoer in a letter of 1512 in which he describes him as being “of a noble and ancient family named Talbot, and to this day in France they still their babes by threatening them when they cry with the coming of the Talbots” (Cal. State Papers (Venice), 2:75, no. 185). If either Meldrum or Lyndsay himself wished to exaggerate Meldrum’s record of fighting in France, this “master Talbot” would be an ideal choice.

273–74 And on his bonnet usit to beir / Of silver fyne takinnis of weir. A “bonnet” often referred to a steel hat in this period: see Dunbar’s description of the followers of Ire dressed “In iakkis and stryppis and bonettis of steill” (“in padded leather jerkins, steel splints and steel hats”; “Off Februar the fyiftene nycht,” line 37, Poems, 1:150), or a 1539 certificate of the muster for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, which lists dozens of men equipped with “a steill bonnet,” variously spelled, sometimes along with a “cot of playt” (Welford, History of Newcastle and Gateshead, pp. 174–94 [see pp. 186–92]). But it is difficult to imagine how such a bonnet might have borne silver “takinnis of weir,” and Hadley Williams argues that Talbart is instead wearing “a fashionable bonnet decorated with jewels or Italian-inspired cap badges.” A contemporary portrait of Sir Nicholas Carew in full jousting armor by Hans Holbein the Younger (1532–33) shows him wearing just such an elaborate cloth bonnet, complete with decorative pin (Hans, Younger Holbein, “Portrait”), and it might be noted that Meldrum sets out the next day wearing only “ane velvot cap” (line 377).

It is not clear what the silver “takinnis of weir” themselves are; they may be badges of his own arms and/or of St. George’s cross (on the use of St. George’s cross in the English army, see note to lines 424–45). Hadley Williams suggests they are the “spoils of war, or badges appropriate to his martial calling”; Hamer (3:195n271) notes only that they imply high status.

294 Your crakkis I count thame not ane cute. “I couldn’t care less about your loud boasts.” DOST traces the common expression “not ane cute” to the Middle Dutch cote (“ankle bone”) as used in playing games, and notes that Dutch also uses the phrase niet ene cote.

297 My gude chyld. DOST cites this line under sense 2 of child (n.), “A lad or boy, a young fellow.” The OED entry for child includes a more specific sense of “A young man of noble or gentle birth” (sense 3), and some of the citations from DOST’s sense 2 are listed there. Talbart’s condescension is nevertheless clear from his use of the familiar “thow” where Meldrum had used the formal “ye,” and it is underlined at line 307 when he addresses Meldrum unambiguously as “my barne” (my child).

311–14 David . . . . Golias. The Biblical David’s defeat of the Philistine Goliath (1 Kings 17:4–51) inspired his inclusion in the list of those models of chivalric virtue known collectively as the Nine Worthies. See the Balletis of the Nine Nobles in the present volume, “David slew michti Golias” (line 25), and the Introduction to that poem. The boastful coward “Fynlaw of the Fute Band” in Lyndsay’s “Proclamatioun maid in Cowpar of Fyffe” (a preface to a 1552 performance in Cupar of his Satyre of the Thrie Estaitis, written especially for this local audience) also claims that “War golias in to this steid / I dowt nocht to stryk of his heid” (Hamer 2:30, lines 240–41).

317 Gowmakmorne. Goll mac Morna was one of the fearsome mythical warriors of the Ulster Fenian Cycle, and an enemy of the hero Fionn mac Cumhaill (see MacKillop, Dictionary of Celtic Mythology, pp. 228–29). Both figures were well known in the late medieval Scots-speaking world. In Barbour’s Bruce, when Bruce and his small retinue escape from the superior forces of the Lord of Lorne, the latter resentfully observes, “Rycht as Golmakmorn was wone / To haiff fra [Fyn] all his megne, / Rycht swa all his fra ws has he” (3.68–70: “Just as Goll mac Morna used to get all his retinue away from Finn, so he [Bruce] got his away from us”). The narrator of Gavin Douglas’ c. 1501 Palis of Honoure sees “Gret Gowmakmorne and Fyn Makcoull, and how / Thay suld be goddis in Ireland, as thay say” (lines 1715–16). The boastful Fynlaw of Lyndsay’s Proclamatioun maid in Cowpar of Fyffe” is put to flight by what he believes to be “grit Gowmakmorne” (line 257). See note to lines 311–14 above.

319 Montruill. Kinsley thinks Lyndsay refers to Montreuil-sur-Mer in the Pas-de-Calais; Hamer thinks Montreuil-sur-Seine near Paris, over 200 km to the south (presumably because we are told that Henry’s troops are in Picardie [line 250]). Montreuil-sur-Mer seems the most likely, given its proximity to Calais (see line 246) and the towns of Thérouanne and Tournai, which Henry VIII captured in August and September.

337 See note to line 294 above.

343 Monsour de Obenie. Robert Stewart (c. 1470–1544), latterly “d’Aubigny,” was a younger son of the tenth or first earl of Lennox who served in Louis XII’s army under his Franko-Scottish cousin, the Sir “Barnard Stewart” eulogized by Dunbar (Poems 1:177, and see note to the Testament, line 64). Robert inherited Bernard’s seigneurie of Aubigny upon the latter’s death in 1508, and was made captain of Louis XII’s Scots guards in October 1512 (ODNB).

353 it givis me in my hart. DOST cites this line mistakenly under the basic sense of “give,” but “to have misgivings” is clearly the sense intended, for which the MED offers two examples (y‘ven [v.], sense 26a). Kinsley notes a similar usage in Bruce, 19.97–98: “Myne hart giffis me no mor to be / With ȝow duelland in this cuntre.”

373–74 He lap upon . . . his stirroppis richt. A hero who leaps fully armed into the saddle is a common romance trope: see Bevis of Hampton, “Into the sadel a lippte, / That no stirop he ne drippte” (ed. Herzman et al., lines 1945–46) or, for a Scottish example, Florimond of Albany, “he but sturep on him sprang” (ed. Purdie, p. 102, line 474). Talbart does likewise at line 420: Meldrum will do it again at lines 472–76, explicitly “without support” and to the great delight of the Scottish spectators. It may not be a mere romance exaggeration; the biography of Jean le Maingre, marechal of France (d. 1421), records that as part of Jean’s knightly training he would leap sanz mettre le pié en l’estrief sus un coursier, armé de toutes pieces (“fully armed onto a warhorse, without putting his foot in the stirrup”) (Jehan le Maingre, ed. Lalande, p. 25).

DOST does not record this reflexive sense of the verb richt, “sit/stand up straight,” but see MED righten (v.), sense 1b.

384 Ane otter in ane silver feild. “An otter on a silver background.” Meldrum’s arms are also mentioned at lines 548–51 (when Meldrum and Talbart meet in battle) and — slightly different in detail — in the Testament (line 107). The silver background or “field” described at lines 384 and 548 may also be implied in Talbart’s dream of a large black otter coming “fra the see” (line 403): the late fifteenth-century heraldic manual The Deidis of Armorie describes heraldic silver or white as being “lik to þe wattir, quhilk is ane of þe clerast and quhittast / and mast clene elementis þat is” (ed. Houwen, 1:11). McAndrew notes that the family of Meldrum of Fyvie (Aberdeenshire) are “surprisingly little researched genealogically and agreeably varied heraldically,” and arms are also recorded for a branch of the family from Seggie in Fife (Scotland’s Historic Heraldry, p. 449). All show some variant of a black otter, or otters, on a silver background, sometimes emerging from the sea. Closest to the squire’s arms in the Historie are those of Meldrum of Fyvie: “Argent, a demi-otter sable issuant from a fess wavy azure, or Argent, a demi-otter sable issuant from the waves of the sea” (i.e., a silver background on which a black otter emerges either from a wavy blue bar across the middle of the shield — the “fess wavy azure” — or from blue and white wavy lines representing the sea; Scotland’s Historic Heraldry, p. 449). These arms are recorded for the Meldrums of Fyvie by Sir David Lyndsay himself in the Armorial he compiled in 1542 as Lyon King of Arms (see McAndrew, Scotland's Historic Heraldry, p. 272). Meanwhile, the banner of “Of silver schene, thrie otteris into sabill” that Meldrum describes for himself in the Testament (line 107) is closest to that recorded elsewhere for the Meldrums of Seggie in Fife: “Argent, three otters (2,1) passant sable” (i.e., a silver background with three horizontal black otters, two above one; McAndrew, Scotland’s Historic Heraldry, p. 449).

390 Lyke Mars the god armipotent. I.e., “powerful in arms.” See also the Testament, line 76. The earliest recorded English example of this particular epithet for Mars, the god of war, is in Chaucer’s “Knight’s Tale” (CT 1[A]1982, 2441), but it seems to have been popular amongst Older Scots poets when writing in an aureate style: see Dunbar’s The Goldyn Targe, lines 112 and 152; Gavin Douglas’ description of the kingly figure in the Palis of Honoure, line 1921, and see Parkinson’s note on manuscript variants here; the eponymous hero of the sixteenth-century romance Clariodus is frequently compared to Mars and once described as “armipotent”(ed. Irving, 5.2262). Meldrum will be compared to Mars again at line 1074, and Meldrum associates himself with Mars in the Testament lines 69–70, 94–97, 126, 132, 187.

401–10 This nicht I saw . . . . in sic ane fray. The animal imagery in this prophetic dream echoes King Arthur’s terrifying dream of a dragon defeating a bear on the eve of his battle against the giant of Mont Saint-Michel, although in this case it is the giant-like Talbart himself (see note to lines 311–14) whose dream foretells his defeat by the young Meldrum. The dragon-bear dream occurs in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain and its immediate derivatives (Wace’s Roman de Brut, Layamon’s Brut), as well as in the Middle English Alliterative Morte Arthure (lines 760–806), a text almost certainly known in Scotland. See Purdie, “Search for Scottishness,” p. 99.

420 lap upon his hors. See Meldrum’s parallel feat and note to lines 373–74 above.

424–25 Sanct Georges croce . . . . all his geir. The English army had worn the cross of St. George since the fourteenth century. Richard II’s Ordinances of War of 1385 decreed that everyone of whatever estate should wear a large cross of St. George on their front and back. See Keen, “Richard II’s Ordinances of War of 1385,” pp. 39–41. The sixteenth-century chronicler Edward Hall notes that when Henry VIII was received at Calais in June 1513, “ouer his riuett [light armor] he had a garment of white cloth of gold with a redde cross,” and when the Emperor Maximilian joined Henry’s forces, “Themperour as the kynges soldiours ware a Crosse of sayncte George with a Rose” (Hall’s Chronicle, p. 539).

437–38 The heraldis put thame . . . . within the bordour. By the later Middle Ages, heralds played an important part in both tournaments and genuine battles. They organized the pageantry of tournaments; they had “neutral” status in battle and so performed a vital role as messengers and diplomats, as well as being able to identify opponents by their arms. In both tournament and battle, they judged and recorded feats of prowess. See Keen, Chivalry, pp. 134–42.

444 accowterit. “equipped.” C has accownterit, L accountered and A accounted, all errors for accowterit from the French accoutrer. DOST records a similar spelling error of accomptirit in the 1552 Register of the Privy Council (accouterit [p.p.]).

445 burdounis. The basic meaning of burdoun is “staff,” as in a pilgrim’s staff, or cudgel, but here and at line 531 it is clearly used as a synonym for “lance” or “spear.” See OED bourdon (n.1), sense 2, which cites this line and Douglas’ Eneados, ed. Coldwell, 3:95, lines 69–70: “He with a burdon of ane lang stif tre, / The poynt scharpit and brynt a litill we [a little bit].”

448 God shaw the richt. “May God reveal [who has] the just cause.” The phrase recurs at line 1262. This was part of the ritual of judicial combat, and Kinsley notes its appearance in Alexander Scott’s roughly contemporary comic poem The Justing and Debait up at the Drum: “The harraldis cryd: ‘God schaw the rycht!’” (line 63, ed. Bawcutt and Riddy, pp. 269–78).

472–76 on he lap . . . . hors sa galyeardlie. See note to lines 373–74 above.

483–84 And cryit gif . . . . for his ladies saik. The notion that a knight was improved by fighting in the name of (or in hopes of impressing) his lady was ingrained in the ideology of chivalry, and Talbart has already offered to fight “for his ladies saik” at line 276. For a review of medieval literature on the idea, see Jaeger, Ennobling Love, pp. 198–213. The ultimate model of the knight who performs great feats “for his ladies saik” is Lancelot, on whom see Lyndsay’s disparaging remarks at lines 48–64 and note above. Meldrum will nevertheless promise the Lady of Gleneagles to do at least as much for her as ever Lancelot did for Guinevere (lines 1079–82).

504 Pertlie to preif their pith thay preist. Compare the fifteenth-century Scots romance Ralph the Collier: “Thay preis furth properly thair pithis to prufe” (line 863, Three Middle English Charlemagne Romances, ed. Lupack).

507 He outterit. L: He vttered. A: Vttered. DOST, citing this line, defines “outer” as “to swerve aside or refuse the encounter” (outer [v.1]). The OED is more specific in defining it as “to go out of the lists or course at a tournament” (again citing the line, and identifying it as a rare Scots usage: utter [v.1], sense 4). Both also cite Pitscottie: “Schir Patrickis horse wtterit witht him and wald on nowayis reconter his marrow” (i.e., “Sir Patrick’s horse carried him out of the lists and refused to meet his opponent”; Historie and Cronicles, ed. Mackay, 1:234, lines 26–27). This is clearly what has happened to Talbart, who demands a new mount and tests it carefully before resuming the tournament (lines 515–23): this time, “name of thame thair marrow mist” (line 529).

556 cunnand. C: cunning. L: cunning. A: cuning. Charteris’ cunning is listed in DOST as an error unique to this poem for cunnand, itself a reduced form of convenant, “agreement.” Neither the MED nor OED list this variant at all, so the text has been emended here.

577 This bene bot chance of armes. “This is just the fortunes of war.” Meldrum will repeat a version of this remark to another opponent later. See note to line 832–34.

577–78 armes . . . . armes. A rare example of rime riche in Lyndsay, pairing armes (warfare) with armes (arms, in the literal sense of limbs).

585–88 Sum sayis . . . . never wes sene into Ingland. This description would fit with Hamer’s identification of “Talbart” with the Sir Humphrey Talbot who was reputed to have died in the Holy Land, although see note to lines 265–71 above on the problems with this. Alternatively, it could explain why no one else has heard of this supposedly famous champion. Or again, if George Talbot earl of Shrewsbury were jokingly meant (i.e., if Meldrum has exaggerated his own exploits somewhat), the claim that he “never wes sene into Ingland” would be amusingly ironic for the original Scottish audience: Shrewsbury was later appointed lieutenant-general in the turbulent Scottish borders (ODNB, “Talbot, George”).

589–90 Bot our squyer did still remane / Efter the weir, quhill peice was tane. Lyndsay’s (or Meldrum’s) chronology becomes vague here. Louis XII of France agreed a preliminary truce with Henry VIII in March 1514 (which included his allies the Scots, although they had not actually been consulted), and a formal peace treaty was signed in August 1514 (Scarisbrick, Henry VIII, pp. 50–56; Emond, “Minority of King James V,” pp. 12–13). This would indicate that Meldrum remained in France in 1514, but at lines 599–600 we are told that “the navie of Scotland / Wes still upon the coist lyand.” In October 1513, the combined Franco-Scottish fleet was meant to intercept Henry VIII on his return to England, but they were scattered by storm and most of the Scottish fleet limped home at the beginning of November 1513, leaving only the largest ships behind in French pay (Governor Albany eventually sold the flagship St Michael to Louis XII in April 1514 [see ER 14:cxxxvi]). On 13 November 1513, Lord Dacre reported to Henry that “Th’ Erl of Aren, admirall of Scotland, is commen home with the shippes of Scotland . . . which hath brought writings and credence from the French king and the Duke of Albany . . . The Scottische soldiours which be commen home make ill reaport of the French king, sayng thei were not well entreated there” (Spont, Letters and Papers, pp. 188–89, nos. 95, 96; see also pp. xliv–xlvi). This contrasts markedly with markedly with Meldrum’s reported experience at the French court.

Lyndsay could conceivably have intended the “peice” of line 590 to refer to the lull following Henry’s capture of Tournai and the simultaneous disastrous news from Flodden (i.e., late September until the end of October 1513), but the description of ambassadors crowding the court of Louis XII at lines 614–18 suggests rather the formal peace negotiations of 1514. Lyndsay (or Meldrum) seems thus to be telescoping events from late 1513 and 1514.

591 the kingis gairdis. This refers to Louis XII’s Scots Guards, led by D’Aubigny. See note to line 343 above.

597–600 From Pycardie . . . .the coist lyand. On dating the Scottish fleet’s movements (and therefore Meldrum’s) see note to lines 589–90 above.

608 hakbut, culvering, pik and speir. Hackbuts and culverins were early portable guns, used in early sixteenth-century warfare alongside the pikes and spears listed here.

619 ane ambassadour. None of the candidates for this description are entirely satisfactory, and Lyndsay’s vagueness here may be deliberate. Hamer suggests John Stewart, Duke of Albany, the French-born acting regent of Scotland who was detained by the French crown until 1515 (Hamer, see also note to lines 1380–87 below). The official Scottish ambassador was Andrew Forman, Bishop of Moray, but his later reputation in some quarters as the architect of James IV’s ruin would seem to preclude seeing him as the “man of greit honour” here (line 620, see Macdougall, James IV, pp. 297–98). Yet another candidate is Antoine d’Arces, Seigneur de la Bastie, who would later become acting regent of Scotland. See note to lines 1395–1406 below.

629 lyke wyld lyounis furious. The villainous English setting upon the Scots “lyke wyld lyounis furious” is a caution against seeing Meldrum’s earlier description, “Rampand lyke ane wyld lyoun” (line 236), as an allusion to the lion rampant on the royal arms of Scotland.

633 Sutheroun. The sudden introduction of this term, literally “Southerners,” for the people Lyndsay has so far described merely as “Inglis” (see lines 265, 428, 567, 572), is reminiscent of the diction of Hary’s Wallace, where the term is frequent.

661 sevin quarter lang. A “quarter” was a fourth of an ell: the OED gives a Scottish ell as 37.2 inches (ell [n.1], sense 1.a). This would make Meldrum’s sword about five and half feet long, a substantial weapon. He is later described as wielding a formidable two-handed sword (see note to line 1254 below).

691–98 Thocht Frenche ladies . . . . did thame noy. The lamenting at Meldrum’s departure is vaguely reminiscent of Wallace’s departure from France, where “Lordys and ladyis wepyt wondyr fast” (Hary’s Wallace, 12.319). But where Meldrum departs simply because “he in France wald not remane” (line 689), Wallace is anxious to return and defend his beleaguered country: “Till help his awn he had a mar plesance / Than thar to byd with all the welth off France” (Hary’s Wallace, 12.299–300).

710–848 Ane day . . . . payit thair ransoun. This sea-battle has distinct echoes of the “Red Reiver” episode of Hary’s Wallace, 9.184–391, and fainter ones of Wallace’s second sea-battle with John of Lynn, 11.809–906.

730 monie gunnis out ovir hir flaw. “many missiles flew right over her [i.e., the ship].” DOST does not record examples of gun used in reference to the missiles fired, but the OED lists two, from Chaucer’s Legend of Good Women and the Avowing of King Arthur: see gun (n.) sense 4. The Scottish ship is so much smaller and lower in the water that the English guns are finding it difficult to aim low enough to hit her, whereas the Scottish guns are finding the tall English ship an easy target. In Hary’s Wallace, the ship of the English pirate John of Lynn is far better armed and similarly “mar off hycht” than Wallace’s (11.893–94).

749 halbert. The halberd was a variant of the pole-axe, with an axe-blade and pick on either side of the shaft and a spear-head at the tip. The OED records references to them from the very end of the fifteenth century, but DOST only from the sixteenth, so Lyndsay is describing modern weaponry.

751 Out of the top. The “top” or “top-castle” was a platform at the head of a mast in fighting ships, often used by archers (see OED top [n.], sense 3.9a).

758 Swyith yeild, yow doggis, or ye sall die. Compare the Red Reiver episode in Hary’s Wallace: “On loude he cryit, ‘Stryk, doggis! ȝe sall de!’” (9.263).

762 tratour tavernar. Hamer thought this was intended as a slur on the English captain's social class; Kinsley thought he was calling him a “brawling tippler.” Both are possible, but Hadley Williams’ suggestion that this alludes to a proverb about empty boasts made in a tavern (Whiting T49) is the most convincing. Whiting’s entry is based on the following lines from Richard Coer de Lyon:
Whenne they sytten at the taverne,
There they ben stoute and sterne,                                                  brave and daring
Bostfyl wurdes for to crake,                                                                                 speak
And of here dedes, yelpyng to make.                                                            boasting
Lytyl wurth they are and misprowde;                                        haughty (arrogant)
Fyghte they cunne with wurdes lowde,                                                          are able
And telle no man is here pere;                                                          proclaim; equal
But whene they comen to the mystere,                          time of peril (show-down)
And see men begynne strokes dele,                                                                   deliver
Anon they gynne to turne here hele . . .
(ed. Larkin, lines 3853–62)
776 And sone wes all the Sutheroun slane. Hamer takes “slane” in its usual sense of “killed” and describes this line as “a slight exaggeration, since two hundred men, we are told later [lines 840–41], were put ashore on the coast of Kent.” Hadley Williams objects that “The sense seems to be ‘defeated,’ given following events” and indeed there are men alive and begging for mercy at lines 779–80. DOST offers three examples of sla in this weaker sense of “to strike down” (sla, [v.], sense 1.1) and, although they speculate that these might actually belong to the more usual sense of “kill by striking” (sense 1.3), the MED actually records non-fatal striking as the first, well-evidenced sense for sl‘n (v.). It is possible that Lyndsay is using deliberately archaic terminology here, since the three DOST examples in question are from Barbour’s Bruce (c. 1375) and Wyntoun’s Original Chronicle (c. 1420). Another non-fatal sense of “slay” occurs at line 1134 below, and see line 149 of “The Unicornis Tale” elsewhere in this volume.

781–88 Yit wes . . . . ane thowsand syse. Either Lyndsay (or his informant, Meldrum) forgot that the squire had knocked the captain into “ane deidlie swoun” a moment earlier (line 770), or the squire’s blow was less deadly than originally implied.

790 Thrie thowsand nobillis of the rois. The “rose noble” was the most valuable of the various types of English noble — a gold coin — in circulation. They were introduced by Edward IV in 1464 and stamped with the York rose, hence the name. An act of the Scottish Parliament of 12 October 1467, under James III, ordered the valuation of “the Eduarde with the rose to xxxij s[hillings] of our mone.” In the squire’s own era, an act of Parliament of 20 August 1524 valued the various English nobles thus: “The Ros noble of Weiht for xliiij s the Hary noble of Weiht for xl s, the Angell noble for xxx s.” (Cochran-Patrick, Records of the Coinage of Scotland, 1:32 and 1:54).

803 ran and red. Kinsley refers back to “the redding” (i.e. the physical separation of combatants in a fight) of line 671, which fits the general sense here, but compare the phrase “[h]is erandis for to ryne and red” in Dunbar’s “Complane I wald, wist I quhome till” (Poems 1:68, line 44) where it simply means to “go and do.” Lyndsay might then be paraphrased “then both the captains did so,” i.e., arranged for the fighting to cease, rather than wading back into the thick of it themselves.

832–34 It wes but chance . . . . hapnit siclike adventure. This is similar to what Meldrum says earlier to the defeated Talbart, assuring him it was “bot chance of armes” (line 577), but it is closer still to the words of Wallace to the Red Reiver: “For chans off wer thou suld no murnyng mak. / As werd will wyrk thi fortoun mon thou tak” (Hary’s Wallace, 9.371–72).

844 the Blaknes. The well fortified Blackness Castle, on the south side of the Firth of Forth near Linlithgow, was often used as a prison. Its earliest mention in the Records of the Parliaments of Scotland in this capacity is from 1467 (Judicial Proceedings for 17 October), in reference to an Andro Johnson: “And for the contemption done to the kingis hienes, that his persoune be enterit in ward in the castel of the Blaknes lyk as wes decretit be the lordis of counsale of before” (RPS 1467/10/35).

848 ransoun. It was common practice to ransom such prisoners of war as seemed likely to be able to afford it; presumably this is the basis on which some of the English were “waillit furth” (“picked out,” line 839). See Ambühl, Prisoners of War in the Hundred Years War.

856 Straitherne. Strathearn is a valley in Perthshire (along the river Earn) where it meets northwest Fife. Either Meldrum has traveled overland through Fife or sailed north and into the river Tay, past Dundee — either route is logical enough for a man with lands in Cleish, northwest Fife. In her note to this line, Hadley Williams notes that “Meldrum’s route recalls Wallace’s,” at least as described in Hary’s poem. If so, it makes an interesting contrast: where the squire is feasted everywhere, Wallace must sneak back into the country, evading capture by the English. Strathearn is not specifically named, though he does enter it: “Wallace the land has tane / At Ernys mouth and is till Elchok gane” (i.e., Elcho Castle on the river Tay, near the mouth of the river Earn) (Hary’s Wallace, 12.329–30).

858 ane castell. This is Gleneagles Castle is in southeast Perthshire. The ruins of its grand fifteenth-century tower, just south of the famous modern golf course, are still standing (see https://canmore.org.uk/site/25906/gleneaglescastle).

863–65 Ane lustie ladie . . . . wes the moir. So much effort has gone into establishing who this “ladie” was in real life and what happened between her and Meldrum that it is easy now to miss the fact that Lyndsay himself never names her, nor tells us anything more than that she lives in a castle somewhere in Strathearn (line 856, and compare “Sterne of Stratherne” in the Testament, line 230); she owns another castle somewhere in the Lennox (see note to line 1057); her former husband was a relation of Meldrum’s (line 966); and eventually, that “scho aganis hir will wes maryit” to a man who is likewise unnamed (line 1465). This anonymity helps to highlight instead the literary allusions to Virgil’s Aeneid and the Squire of Low Degree (see notes to lines 875–80 below) as well as to invite the audience to compare and contrast the couple with Lancelot and Guinevere (see note to lines 205–06 above) although she is not married, she will be the unintentional cause of Meldrum’s doom. Perhaps the anonymity was also intended to help Lyndsay avoid accusations of slander, should his poem reach a wider audience than that for which it was originally intended. Identification of the lady and her two husbands was unnecessary for Lyndsay’s original private audience in Fife, who were already familiar with the dramatic story of Meldrum’s affair with Marjorie Lawson, Lady of Gleneagles. See the Introduction, “The Historie and History” for discussion.

875–80 Eneas . . . . put in vers. The squire’s storytelling is likened to that of Aeneas at Carthage in book 2 of Virgil’s Aeneid. Dido, a young widow like Marjorie, falls helplessly in love with Aeneas as he recounts the harrowing story of the fall of Troy and his escape from it. Gavin Douglas completed his translation of the Aeneid into Scots (the Eneados) in 1513, so it was readily accessible to a sixteenth-century Scottish audience. The implicit comparison does not bode well for the squire and the lady: Aeneas resumes his quest to found a new empire while the abandoned Dido commits suicide. In fact, however, Meldrum’s lady will go on to re-marry and indeed outlive the squire, while Meldrum will be permanently crippled in the vicious ambush described (lines 1211–1380). It is difficult to gauge how much irony Lyndsay intends here, or in his aside that the rest of the squire’s tale was, unlike Aeneas’, “langsum for to put in vers.” The parallels with the Aeneid are again hinted at with Meldrum’s otherwise conventional prayer to Venus at lines 906–16. Venus was Aeneas’ mother and the instigator of his disastrous affair with Dido.

900 ff. Bot still did on the ladie think . . . . Bawcutt and Riddy observe: “It is difficult to tell how far this episode is to be taken seriously and how far it contains elements of burlesque.” C. S. Lewis insisted that “the humour is not burlesque,” referring instead to its “wholesome sensuality” and “homely realism” (English Literature in the Sixteenth Century, p. 103). Bawcutt and Riddy point to James I’s Kingis Quair (at lines 274–350, 435–41, 470–97) for examples of the serious deployment of many of the conventions touched on here, including the May setting, the lover’s torments, the lover as the lady’s prisoner and thrall, the lady’s dawn walk, and the elaborate description of her beauty (on which see further note to lines 944–49 below).

901 Cupido with his fyrie dart. Ovid depicts Cupid, the god of Love, as a vengeful youngster who fires arrows tipped with gold or lead — causing love and revulsion respectively — in the tale of Apollo and Daphne (Metamorphoses 1.452–74). But the thirteenth-century French poem The Romance of the Rose by Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun offered probably the most detailed and influential version of this extended metaphor for falling in and out of love: see trans. Dahlberg, pp. 42–44 (lines 865–984), for the arrows and pp. 54–69 (lines 1681–2764) for the narrator and the God of Love, here portrayed as an adult lord (ed. Langlois, lines 865–984 and 1681–2764). Chaucer, who made his own translation of a portion of The Romance of the Rose, imagines Troilus being shot by “the God of Love” in TC 1.206–10. In book 2 of Virgil’s Aeneid, Venus sends her son Cupid to cause Dido to burn with love for Aeneas. See note to lines 875–80 above on other allusions to the Aeneid.

907–26 Ladie . . . . be my paramour. The overheard lover’s complaint is a common trope of medieval courtly poetry. Famous examples include Pandarus overhearing Troilus’ lament (TC 1.547–50 and 2.519–60) or Chaucer’s narrator overhearing the Black Knight in The Book of the Duchess (ed. Benson, lines 458 ff.), but the closest analogue here is the late fifteenth-century English romance The Squire of Low Degree, a semi-comical romance extremely popular throughout the sixteenth century in England and told in the same racy octosyllabic couplets as Lyndsay’s Historie (see further the notes to lines 923–24, 934, and 962 below). The eponymous squire falls in love with a princess of Hungary (neither lover is ever named) but feels unworthy of her: he laments his plight in a beautiful garden (ed. Kooper, lines 68–88), where the princess overhears him from her room and decides to take pity on him (see the suggestively similar lines below, note to lines 923–24). She gives him a list of instructions of how to win her father’s consent, but a jealous steward — compare Lyndsay’s unnamed “cruell knicht” of line 1191 — is determined to keep the couple apart, first by telling the king about their liaison (who, however, is comically unperturbed) and then by ambushing the unarmed squire with a large party of men when he tries to visit the princess. Here the stories diverge: the squire of low degree slays the steward despite the desperate odds and his lack of armor; a series of misunderstandings keeps the squire either in prison or in exile for seven years while the faithful princess mourns his apparent death. Rather gruesomely, she has the mutilated body of what she believes to be the squire embalmed and kept at her bedhead this whole time. Eventually the deception is revealed, the couple are married, and the squire is made the king’s heir. The Hungarian princess’ fierce loyalty to what she believes to be the mutilated body of her squire contrasts with the way the lady of Gleneagles will drop abruptly out of Meldrum’s life after his own disfigurement in the ambush that ends their affair.

The Squire of Low Degree had been printed by Wynkyn de Worde as early as c. 1520 under the title Undo Youre Dore (see STC [2nd ed.] 23111.5). It had certainly found a market in Scotland by 1586, when a Scottish ship homeward bound from London was found to be carrying 50 copies of “Squire of low degre, Eng.,” twice as many as any of the other 26 books listed on the inventory (see Robertson, “A Packet of Books for Scotland,” p. 52).

923–24 Howbeit . . . . agane. Compare Squire of Low Degree: “Though I for thee should be slayne, / Squyer, I shall thee love agayne” (ed. Kooper, lines 153–54).

934, 962 squyeris dure unlok; bar the dure. This focus on the locking and unlocking of the squire’s door is again reminiscent of the Squire of Low Degree, whose alternative title in some prints was Vndo Your Dore (see STC [2nd ed.] 23111.5, “Here begynneth vndo your dore” [London: Wynkyn de Worde, ?1520]). The squire, believing himself to be unobserved, creeps up to the princess’ door: “‘Your dore undo! / Undo,’ he sayde, ‘nowe, fayre lady!’”; “Undo thy dore, my worthy wyfe”; “Undo your dore, my lady swete”; “Undo thy dore, my frely floure” (ed. Kooper, lines 534–35, 539, 541, 545). The lady, not recognizing his voice, retorts: “I wyll not my dore undo / For no man that cometh therto” (lines 551–52). Eventually she realizes who he is and makes a fulsome speech of welcome, but this only serves to give the jealous steward’s men enough time to attack. The squire kills the steward but is hauled away, while the steward’s disfigured body is left for the lady to find (and mistake for the squire’s) when she undoes her door at last. Meldrum’s affair runs in almost inverse parallel to that in the Squire of Low Degree, with the lady creeping up to his door but finding the lock already undone; Meldrum locking the door himself with her on the inside, and finally — tragically — Meldrum himself being horribly mutilated by the “cruell knicht” who wants to separate the lovers (see lines 1215 ff.).

944–49 His goldin traissis . . . . withouttin hois. The early thirteenth-century writer Geoffrey of Vinsauf provided a much imitated (and satirized) model for how to describe a beautiful woman, recommending among other things that a poet should “let the colour of gold give a glow to her hair;” that her skin be so white that “lilies bloom high on her brow;” that “her breast, the image of snow, show side by side its twin virginal gems,” and that “the border of her robe gleam with fine linen” (Poetria Nova, trans. Nims, pp. 36–37).

951 vailye quod vailye. This translates as “come what may” (from Latin valeo, “prevail”), a common expression that Lyndsay assigns elsewhere to a fat, overconfident parrot who is determined to climb to the top of a tree in Testament of the Papyngo: “‘I wyll,’ said scho, ‘ascend, vailye quod vailye’” (line 161; she then falls and is fatally injured). For a more dignified example of the phrase in battle, see Barbour’s Bruce 9.148. This scene evidently made a strong impression on at least one early eighteenth-century reader. George, 1st Earl of Cromartie, wrote to the Earl of Mar in 1707 that if he is forced to wait any longer for his salary, “I will study for as much to borrow as will cary [sic] my old bones up to complain, vale que vale, as Squire Meldrum said”; and again in 1708, to the same correspondent, “I now come to act in another scene, and to intreat for my freends, vale que vale, as old Squire Meldrum did sing in the dayes of yore” (Fraser, The Earls of Cromartie, 2:45 and 2:57, letters of 25 September 1707 and 17 January 1708).

953 courtlyke. C: courlyke. L: curtlike. The OED records adj. courtlike from the later sixteenth century, but no spellings without medial t. DOST cites only this line — likewise emended — for its entry for cour[t]lyk (adj.). A corrects to “courtly.”

955–64 Madame, gude morne . . . . my womanheid to spill. If the squire’s earlier lament recalled serious works in the courtly love tradition, this scene is far more reminiscent of fabliaux such as Chaucer’s Miller’s Tale in which — in a spoof of these same courtly conventions — the crafty young student Nicholas approaches his landlord’s wife Alison:
And prively he caughte hire by the queynte [private parts]
And seyde, “Ywis, but if ich have me wille,
For deerne [secret] love of thee, lemman, I spille [die].
(CT 1[A]3276–78)
After a brief and unconvincing protest — “Do wey youre handes, for youre curteisye!” — Alison “hir love hym graunted atte laste” (CT 1[A]3287–90). Meldrum’s lady is at least widowed when she makes her equally token objection.

963–66 Contemporary canon law imposed an extremely restrictive set of impediments to marriage based on kinship of either consanguinity or affinity, extending both to the fourth degree. This meant that marriage was prohibited, not only to a blood relative to within the fourth degree (i.e., someone with whom one shared a great-great-grandparent), but also to someone within four degrees of relation to one’s former spouse (see Sellar, “The Family,” pp. 98–99). The latter is clearly the case for Meldrum, although his relationship to the lady’s former husband is never spelled out. The solution was to seek a dispensation from the Pope, but this was an expensive business and was often ignored by couples. The Archbishop of St Andrews protested to the Pope in a letter of 1 September 1554 that “such was the connexion between families in Scotland, that it was scarce possible to match two persons of good birth who should not come within the forbidden degrees; and on that account . . . many married without dispensation, promising to obtain it subsequent to marriage; but afterwards instead of doing so, sought for divorce, or put away their wives on the pretext of the want of dispensation and of the expense of procuring one” (Liber Officialis Sancti Andree, ed. Forbes and Innes, pp. xxv–xxvi and 164–65).

No blood connection between the Meldrums and the Haldanes can be traced in the scant surviving historical records, but we do not know the name of William Meldrum’s mother or of his great-grandmother on his father’s side (see the conjectural Meldrum family tree in the Introduction, “Squire of Cleish and Binns”), so there is plenty of scope for the connection to have been a close one, whether with the Haldanes directly, or via the family of Sir John Haldane’s mother, Christian Grahame (named in a 1481 charter by his grandfather John, NRS GD198/16), or that of his grandmother, Agnes of Menteth (named in an instrument of resignation from 1472, NRS GD198/45, and a protest against a precept of chancery of 1473, NRS GD198/49).

987 Cupido. See note to line 901 above.

990–99 Nor ane . . . . I hard sane. Although references to sex are normally more coy than this in romances, such directness is not unknown. In the fifteenth-century Middle English Partonope of Blois, the heroine Melior has — like the lady here — engineered things so that she and her beloved are alone in a bedroom. When he puts an arm around her, she raises only a feeble objection, and:
. . . . a-none ganne he
In hys armes her faste to hym brase.
And fulle softely þen sho sayde: “Allas!”
And her legges sho gan to knytte,
And wyth hys knees he gan hem on-shote.
And þer-wyth-all she sayde: “Syr, mercy!”
He wolde not lefe ne be þer-by;
For of her wordes toke he no hede;
But þys a-way her maydenhede
Haþe he þen rafte and geffe her hys.
(ed. Bödtker, lines 1562–71)
The narrator’s disingenuous claim to be unsure what happened is entirely traditional.

991 wodbind. This can refer to ivy or similar green climbing plants, or to climbing honeysuckle. Either way it is a common metaphor for lovers clinging to each other. See Marie de France’s brief lai of Chievrefoil, telling of a secret tryst between Tristram and Isolde; chievrefoil translates as “goatleaf,” or honeysuckle (Lais, ed. Rychner, pp. 151–54). See also Chaucer’s description of Troilus and Criseyde when they finally get together:
And as aboute a tree, with many a twiste,
Bytrent and writh the swote wodebynde,
Gan ech of hem in armes other wynde.
(TC 3.1230–32)
996 And with hir hair scho dicht hir ene. Hamer, Kinsley: “and with her hair she covered her eyes.” Bawcutt and Riddy object that “there seems to be no parallel for dicht in this sense,” and they translate as “wiped” based on DOST dicht, (v.), sense 3b: “the lady may be wiping away a (false) tear or even feigning surprise by rubbing her eyes.” But compare MED dighten (v.), sense 1b.b, which offers several examples of the sense “clothe, cover”; the exceptionally poor survival rate for Older Scots texts means that many usages attested in ME are likely to apply to Scots also, though they do not happen to be exemplified in the surviving corpus. Either way she is clearly feigning shame, much like the equally unrepentant Melior when she makes the token gestures of sighing “Allace!” and crossing her legs after luring Partonope into bed with her (see note to lines 990–99 above).

1002–06 he gaif her . . . . thir twa dissever. On the ruby ring love-token see note to lines 195–96.

1008 lammer. Although the OE plural form of “lamb” was lambru, lambur, and the description of sleeping maidens as being ‘as sweet as lambs’ would be appropriate (“lambs” is Hadley Williams’, Bawcutt, and Riddy’s preferred gloss), DOST (lam, lamb(e (n.)) notes that “The regular and only plur. forms known to Sc. are in -is, -es, unless we count some place-names in Lammer-.” Lyndsay twice uses the expression “sweiter nor/than the lamber/lammer” elsewhere to describe women, in both cases rhymed with “chalmer” as here (Ane Satyre, line 531 and “Proclamatioun” line 152) and seeming to refer to “ambergris” as used in perfume. The terms amber/lamber/lammer were used interchangeably for ambergris and for the gemstone amber; see OED amber (n.1), sense A.I, and DOST lammer (n.).

1019 be him that deir Jesus sauld. Bawcutt and Riddy quip that “It is appropriate that in glibly lying to her maids the lady should swear by Judas” (i.e., Judas Iscariot).

1048 the futeball. Although not considered a noble pastime, football (or soccer) was enormously popular from the later Middle Ages onwards, not to mention violent (see Reeves, Pleasures and Pastimes, pp. 91–92.) It was banned by successive Scottish kings throughout the fifteenth century, evidently without the slightest success (see RPS James I, 1424/19; James II, 1458/3/7; James III, 1471/5/6; James IV, 1491/4/17). In 1497, students at the University of St Andrews were banned from playing ad pilam pedalem on pain of excommunication (Dunlop, Acta Facultatis, pp. 265–66). Meanwhile, however, the Treasurer’s Accounts for that same year record a payment “to Jame Dog to by fut ballis to the King” (TA 1:330). The footballing students of rival colleges of St Andrews would go on to cause a serious breach of the peace in 1537 (Acta Facultatis, pp. cxxxii, 380–81 [19 February 1537]). I am grateful to Professor Roger Mason for drawing these records to my attention.

1054 the Lennox. See note to line 1057 below.

1055 Makfagon. So C and L. S: Mackfarlon. Bawcutt and Riddy emend to Makfaron to rhyme with baron (line 1066), although they admit that this is not otherwise recorded as a variant of the name otherwise rendered consistently as Makferland or MacFarland at lines 1097, 1108, 1120, 1135, and 1143. (On the MacFarlanes, see note to line 1057 below.) If Makfagon is Charteris’ error, he may — as Hadley Williams notes — have been thinking of Hary’s wicked (albeit fictional) Highlander Makfadȝan in Hary’s Wallace (7.623–868) who led a band of supposedly savage Irish and Hebridean men in a raid on Argyll, to be defeated by the combined forces of Wallace and Lord Campbell of Loch Awe (possibly inspired by the attack of a real Maurice MacFadyane on the bishop of Argyll in 1452). As Boardman remarks: “Hary visualised the confrontation between Wallace and Campbell’s forces and MacFadzan’s men as a straightforward struggle between ‘civilisation’ and ‘savagery’” (The Campbells, p. 212). That the name “MacFadyan” became synonymous with Highland savagery for Lowland audiences is suggested by Dunbar’s inclusion of a Makfadȝane and his “Ersche” (i.e., Gaelic) followers in an infernal dance of the Seven Deadly Sins (Poems 1:152, lines 110, 116).

As for what stood in Lyndsay’s original text, neither Makferlan(d) nor Makfagon rhyme with line 1056’s baron, so it may be that the lines originally rhymed Makferland with brigand or tyran(d), which a distracted later copyist altered to the more common collocation of “bold baron.” Compare lines 1420 and 1493, where tyrane, tyrannis is used in the general sense of “villain.”

1057 Hir castell. This would seem to be Boturich Castle on the southeast bank of Loch Lomond in the Lennox, a region taking in much of present-day Dunbartonshire and west Stirlingshire. The current Boturich Castle is nineteenth-century country house built upon the ruins of the fifteenth-century castle. A charter of January 1508/9 includes “duas le Bothurches” — i.e., Boturich — among the lands consolidated into the barony of Haldane for John Haldane and Marjorie Lawson, who are both named in the charter (Reg. Mag. Sig. 2:702–03, no. 3288). On Haldane’s involvement in the disputed inheritance of the lands and title of the earldom of Lennox, see Napier, History of the Partition of the Lennox, pp. 77–79. Although Fraser describes a raid on Boturich Castle by “the Macfarlanes of Arrochar,” the only source he gives is Lyndsay’s poem (Fraser, Lennox 1:155). James MacFarlane likewise highlights the MacFarlanes’ general reputation as cattle-raiders and allies of the outlawed MacGregors and he likewise mentions this raid on the Haldane property of Boturich, but once again, Lyndsay’s poem is the only cited source (History of Clan MacFarlane, p. 52). Doubts over the truth of this particular episode notwithstanding, the general unruliness of the MacFarlanes is a matter of historical record; Hadley Williams (in her note to line 1143) cites a statement in the Acts of the Lords of Council for 21 July 1518: “‘the lardis of Bucquhannane and McFerlane wer takin and putt in warde for gret misreul maid be thaim in the cuntre,’” and the Council intended to consider how to deal with them so that the whole area including the Lennox “‘may be putt to peax’” (Acts of Council in (Public Affairs), p. 126).

1064 Dunbartane and Argyle. “Dumbarton and Argyll” in the west of Scotland. See note to line 1057 above on the extent of the lady’s lands in the Lennox (which included Dumbarton), and note to line 1055 above on the association of the MakFadyans — here conflated with MacFarlanes — with Argyll.

1076–77 scho gaif him . . . . his basnet bure. On the practice of bearing a lady’s token into tournament or battle, and the inspiration such practices drew from literary romance, see Keen, Chivalry, pp. 212–16.

1077–81 That worthie Lancelot . . . . I sall do. On Lancelot, about whom Lyndsay was earlier quite disparaging, see note to lines 48–64 above.

1088–92 Than . . . . at his command. From tournament and battlefield vows to more personal ones, vowing played a major part in chivalric culture. An influential literary precedent is the Voeux du Paon or “Vows upon the Peacock,” an early fourteenth-century text incorporated into the Old French Alexander cycle which would be translated into Scots twice over the course of the fifteenth century, first as part of the Buik of Alexander and then as part of the Buik of King Alexander the Conquerour, associated with Gilbert Hay. Meldrum’s vow that “he suld never in hart be glaid” recalls one in the Older Scots romance King Orphius (a version of the Middle English Sir Orfeo): when the regent-nephew is told that King Orphius lies dead and unburied somewhere, he exclaims: “I sall never gleid be / Quhill [until] þat body buryit be, / Nor ever ane horss ane [f]it [one foot] to ryd” (ed. Purdie, Laing text, lines 60–62). On the culture of chivalric vows generally, see Keen, Chivalry, pp. 212–15.

1107 culvering, hakbut. See note to line 608 above.

1116 braid arrowis. See DOST brade (adj.), sense 2.b.1, for other examples of this epithet applied to arrows. MacFarlane’s troops do not appear to have any artillery with which to answer the squire’s “hakbute” or “culveryne” fire.

1134 tak and slay. On the sense of “slay” as to “strike down” rather than to kill, see note to line 776 above.

1143 In fre waird . . . . was Makferland seisit. I.e., he is technically Meldrum’s prisoner, but will not actually be imprisoned; see DOST ward (n.1), sense 4b.

1155–58 Gif uther thing . . . . in that art. Lyndsay makes the same claims to ignorance about love (perhaps equally tongue in cheek) in the Answer to the Kingis Flyting, lines 12–13. An influential model is Chaucer’s narrator in TC 1.15–21; 2.12–21 (as well as the narrators of his Book of the Duchess and The Parliament of Fowls).

1162 Ane douchter to the squyer bair. Pitscottie says she bore him two children (Historie and Cronicles, ed. Mackay, 1:299), although it is hard to see how he would know more about it than Lyndsay (Mackay gives Pitscottie’s approximate date of birth as 1532, decades after the events in question). The historical record offers no other hint of any children from the union, but Marjorie did have two sons with her first husband, Sir John Haldane, so it is possible that there is some conflation here. See further discussion in the Introduction, “The Historie and History.”

1167–68 In scarlot fyne . . . . sicht to sene. Bawcutt and Riddy note that “scarlot” was a rich cloth but not necessarily red in color; in this case, it is green. See OED scarlet (n.), sense 1a. On the distribution of green liveries for “Maying” celebrations, see Crane, The Performance of Self, pp. 39–72.

1169–70 The gentilmen . . . . mak ane band. This sounds like the bond of “manrent,” a practice common in late-medieval Scotland in which the bonded man offered life-long service in return for a lord’s protection, without any exchange of land-rights. See Wormald, Lords and Men in Scotland, pp. 14–33.

1178 dispensatioun. See note to lines 966–68 above.

1183–84 Of warldlie joy . . . . the fatall end. A very common proverbial saying. For English examples see Whiting J58; for Older Scots ones, see Whiting, “Proverbs and Proverbial Sayings from Scottish Writings,” Part 1:194–95, “Joy.”

1189–90 Quhairthrow he stude . . . . defendit his honour. This passing allusion to more widespread friction caused by the squire’s liaison with the lady of Gleneagles (leading him to fight in “monie ane stour”) is, unlike some other aspects of Lyndsay’s tale, borne out by the historical record; see Introduction, “The Historie and History.”

1197 not in blude. Although all early prints read thus, Pinkerton (and following him Chalmers and Laing), emended to “neir in blude” in order to align the story more closely with the version recounted by Pitscottie, in which the “cruell knicht” (line 1191) is identified as Sir John Stirling of Keir, and is held to have organized the ambush on behalf of his uncle Luke Stirling (Historie and Cronicles, ed. Mackay, 1:299). Records show that Marjorie Lawson did marry Luke Stirling, but other aspects of both Lyndsay’s and Pitscottie’s account of this ambush are difficult to square with the few historical documents relating to it. See the Introduction, “The Historie and History.”

1221 tuik his licence from his oist. “[O]ist” can be translated either as “armed company” (as Hadley Williams glosses it) or “landlord, host.” But the more domestic scene of paying the bill at their inn seems more likely. Had they felt the need to travel with an armed host in the first place, it seems unlikely that they would dismiss it for the journey home.

1224 ovir the ferrie. There were various ferry-points across the Firth of Forth, but this is almost certainly referring to south Queensferry near Edinburgh. DOST (ferry (n.), sense a) notes that the name Queneferie occurs from c. 1295.

1241 kend. The usual sense of this word is “known,” as Bawcutt and Riddy gloss it; taken thus, she could be reassuring the squire that she is too well known to come to harm if she continues on alone. Another shade of meaning is “guided, shown the way” (see DOST ken (v.), sense 4b), the sense in which Kinsley takes it in order to paraphrase the line as “I shall be helped home.”

1244 no. C is generally a very accurate copy, but in this line the letter u was substituted for n. It has been corrected in L.

1254 ane lang twa-handit sword. The sixteenth-century Italian writer Giacomo de Grassi writes of the powerful two-handed sword:
One may with it, as a Galleon among many Gallies, resist many swords and other weapons . . . And because its weight and bigness require great strength, therefore those only are allotted to the handling thereof which are mighty and big to behold, great and strong in body and of stout and valiant courage (quoted in Oakeshott, European Weapons and Armour, p. 148).
Compare lines 1351–53, where Meldrum is described as “sweipand his sword round about . . . Durst nane approche within his boundis.”

1259 be Goddis corce. This probably means “by the body of God,” although as Bawcutt and Riddy point out, “by God’s cross” (with metathesis of r) is also possible. The latter is certainly what L understood, since he printed “be Gods Croce,” followed by A with “by God his Cross.”

1262 shaw the richt. Meldrum uses the language of judicial combat here (see note to line 448 above) to underscore the injustice of the “cruell knicht[’s]” attack.

1281–82 Gaudefer . . . . At Gadderis Ferrie. Gaudifer is one of the main heroes of one of the branches of the OF Alexander cycle known as the Fuerre de Gadres, or “Foray of Gaza.” It was translated into Scots as part of the early fifteenth-century Buik of Alexander and again in the mid-fifteenth century Buik of King Alexander the Conquerour associated with Gilbert Hay. Gaudifer, fighting against Charlemagne’s men, earned their profound admiration when he defended the retreat of Duke Betys of Gaza’s forces against terrible odds. His name became a by-word for extreme courage and prowess, and Barbour accordingly likens Robert Bruce to him when he defends his own followers’ escape from the far more numerous forces of John of Lorne (Bruce 3.67–92). Hamer, Kinsley, and Bawcutt and Riddy all describe line 1282’s “Gadderis Ferrie” as Lyndsay’s own mistranscription of The Forray of Gadderis, but it seems unlikely that Scotland’s chief herald would not recognize such an element of chivalric vocabulary. If it is an error, it seems more likely to be a scribe’s or printer’s (both L and A retain “Ferrie/Ferry”). Otherwise, it might be noted that the MED records a late-medieval spelling of ferray in the Towneley Plays for “foray” (see forrai (n.)), while Anglo-Norman offers the related term fereis, “attack” (see AND).

1295, 1298 Thome; Thomas Giffard. Thomas Giffard, or Gifford, is named twice here although so many other characters go unnamed, including the “cruell knicht” leading the attack. This may be the “Thomas Giffert,” messenger-atarms, who is listed among several colleagues called to account for fermes [land rents] of barony of Strathavane (Strathaven, Lanarkshire) on 24 May 1530 (ER 16, p. 524); he may or may not be the same “late Thomas Giffert” whose Dalkeith lands are the subject of an instrument of sasine of 28 May 1546 (Cal. Laing Charters, pp. 135–36, no. 517). The messengers-at-arms were official couriers who also acted as “sheriffs in that part” — executing royal summonses and other writs, and issuing (and collecting) fines and other penalties, a potentially dangerous job in early modern Scotland which would have required robust officers. Thomas Giffert was thus exactly the kind of person whom Lyndsay’s “cruell knicht” was likely to have called upon to assist in his ambush of the squire. More importantly, the messengers-at-arms were under the control of the Lyon King of Arms by 1510 at the latest (see DOST messinger (n.), sense 1b). David Lyndsay would not hold this office until later in the 1530s (see Biography of Sir David Lyndsay); he was a herald by 1530 and is thus likely to have known Giffert personally.

1310–12 Tydeus . . . . fyftie knichtis. A hero of the OF Roman de Thèbes (itself based on Statius’ Latin Thebaid), Tydeus was another medieval by-word for displays of courage and prowess against terrible odds. While traveling alone as a messenger for Polynices, he fought his way out of a 50-man ambush arranged by Polynices’ brother and rival Ethiocles (Roman de Thèbes, ed. Petit, lines 1483–1820; Statius, Thebaid, book 2). Barbour engages in a bit of one-upmanship by disingenuously comparing Tydeus’ solo defeat of 50 men to Bruce’s defense of a narrow pass against 200 comers (Bruce, 6.181–270). The “richtis” which Lyndsay describes Tydeus as defending may, as Hadley Williams notes, refer simply to “those of just conditions of combat,” since Tydeus was in fact representing Polynices’ claim to the Theban throne.

1313 Rolland with Brandwell. Roland was the most famous of Charlemagne’s douzeperes — the Frankish equivalent of the knights of the Round Table — alongside Oliver (on whom see note to line 1316 below). In the OF Chanson de Roland of c. 1100, Roland dies fighting the Saracens at Roncevaux, too proud to call for reinforcements until it is too late. When he realizes he is about to die, he addresses a eulogy to his sword Durendal and tries to break it to prevent it from falling into enemy hands, but it slices the rocks instead (ed. Bédier, lines 2300–54 [laisses 171–73]). In the OF Otinel and its ME descendants (Otuel and Roland, Otuel a Knight, and Duke Rowland and Sir Ottuel of Spayne), Roland battles with — and eventually brings about the conversion of — the noble Saracen champion Otinel/Otuel. An uncharacteristically restrained Roland also features in the fifteenth-century Older Scots comic romance Rauf Coilyear.

Roland’s sword is still named Durendal, Durindale, or Durnedale in the ME romances of Otuel a Knight, Roland and Vernagu, and The Sowdone of Babylone respectively, so Lyndsay’s “Brandwell” remains unexplained. In his Additional Notes (Hamer, 3:495–96), Hamer tries to argue that “Brandwell” is instead the name of Roland’s opponent. Finding no one of such a name in the tales of Charlemagne, he suggests rather wildly that it might be a corruption of “Brandelis,” a character who fights Gawain in the entirely unrelated thirteenth-century OF Lancelot-Grail Cycle. In fact Brandelis first appears in the First Continuation of Perceval, which coincidentally supplied the raw material for Golagros and Gawane (on which see note to line 1315 below). “Brandwell” remains unexplained.

1315 Gawin aganis Golibras. This refers to the fifteenth-century Older Scots romance Golagros and Gawane (or The Knightly Tale of Gologras and Gawain in Hahn’s METS edition) in which Arthur sends Gawain into battle against the proudly independent Golagros, who has refused Arthur’s demands for homage. Gawain is victorious, but gallantly feigns defeat so that Golagros can consult his own followers over whether to die (his preference) or submit to Arthur, and whether they would like to be released from his service first if so. His men refuse to either abandon their lord or see him die, and Arthur in turn is so impressed by Golagros’ prowess and nobility of conduct that he releases him from all feudal obligations. Much of the narrative has been culled from the OF First Continuation of Chrétien de Troyes’ Perceval, but the name “Golagros” is unique to the Older Scots romance.

1316 Olyver wyth Pharambras. Oliver was the most famous of Charlemagne’s douzeperes after Roland (see note to line 1313 above). In the OF Fierabras, the AN Fierenbras, and the ME derivatives Sir Firumbras and Sir Ferumbras, Oliver converts the eponymous Saracen champion by defeating him in single combat. That the story was well known in Scotland is demonstrated by the fact that Barbour has Bruce cheer his men up during their flight across Loch Lomond by recounting the tale of “Ferambrace” (Bruce, 3.435–62).

1318 Sir Gryme aganis Graysteille. This refers to the Older Scots romance of Eger and Grime, in which Grime avenges the defeat of his friend Eger by the mysterious and terrifying Graysteill. Some version of it was in existence by 1497, when a payment was recorded in James IV’s Treasurer’s Accounts for two fiddlers “that sang Graysteil to the King” (TA 1:330, 19 April 1497). Its continued popularity in Lyndsay’s day is demonstrated by the inclusion of “syr egeir and syr gryme” in a list of contemporary romances and tales given in the c. 1550 Complaynt of Scotland (p. 50). The earliest extant texts, however, date from the seventeenth century.

1320 As onie knicht of the Round Tabill. Meldrum has of course been compared to (or rather contrasted with) Lancelot, one of the chief knights of Arthur’s Round Table, earlier in the poem. See note to lines 48–64 above.

1325–27 Amang thay knichts . . . . cum no mo. This clearly does not apply to the men attacking the squire, who are presumably not all knights in any case. It seems instead to refer to the knights “of the Round Tabill,” regarding whom Bawcutt and Riddy quote the “Pentecostal oath” described in Malory’s Morte Darthur:
the kynge . . . charged them never to do outerage nothir mourthir, and allwayes to fle treson, and to gyff mercy unto hym that askith mercy, uppon payne of forfiture of theire worship . . . . Also that no man take no batayles in a wrongefull quarell for no love ne for no worldis goodis. (ed. Field, 1:97, lines 27–35)
1347 hochis and theis. Houghs are the “backs of the knees and thighs.” See OED hough (n.), sense 2. To “hoch” someone is to hamstring them. Hamer (thanking earlier editors) notes the similarity to the fate of Wetherington in the sixteenth-century ballad The Hunting of the Cheviot: “For when both his leggis were hewyne in to, / yet he knyled and fought on hys kny” (stanza 54), or the more flippant account in the seventeenth-century Percy Folio ballad of Chevy Chase: “For Witherington needs must I wayle / as one in dolefull dumps, / For when his leggs were smitten of, / he fought vpon his stumpes” (stanza 50). For both texts, see English and Scottish Popular Ballads, ed. Child, 3:303–15 (ballad 162). Another parallel can be found in the brawl-scene of the Older Scots comic poem Chrystis Kirk of the Grene. The miller is a powerful, well-built man whom even ten men fear to take on: nevertheless, “Syne tratourly behind his bak / They hewit him on the howis / behind” (ed. Ritchie, 3:262–68, lines 160–61). See the Introduction, “The Historie and History,” for Pitscottie’s even more graphic description of Meldrum’s injuries.

1375–76 Sall never man . . . . have mair plesour. The real “ladie,” Marjorie Lawson, went on to marry again at least once, possibly twice (see Introduction, “The Historie and History”), although Lyndsay does claim at line 1465 that this was “aganis hir will.”

1381–88 the regent . . . . of all Scotland governour. The regent of Scotland in 1517 was John Stewart, Duke of Albany. Son of Alexander Stewart, the rebellious younger brother of James III, Albany had been brought up in exile in France and built a career serving the French king, but he was sent for by the General Council of Scotland in September 1513 after the loss of James IV at Flodden. Louis XII was reluctant to release him, however, so Albany sent Antoine d’Arces (“Sir Anthonie Darsie”), Seigneur de la Bastie, to the Scottish Council in his stead in October 1513. Albany would not come to Scotland in person until May 1515 (Emond, “Minority of James V,” pp. 4–6). On de la Bastie, see note to lines 1395–1406 below.

1389–90 Our king . . . . wes the outrage. James V was born 10 April 1512 and crowned 21 September 1513, so these events took place during his minority in 1517. See note to lines 1484–85, below, on de la Bastie’s murder that same year, which would have dated Meldrum’s ambush readily for a contemporary audience even without this additional clue. Here, and again at lines 1492–94, Lyndsay is careful to stress that the lawlessness of this period was not the young king James’ fault.

1391 this gude knicht. I.e., Antoine D’Arces, Seigneur de la Bastie.

1395–1406 Wald God . . . . to the ground. Previous editors are divided over whether this is a reference to Meldrum’s rescue of the besieged Scots at Amiens as described at lines 619–79. Hadley Williams assumes it is (p. 293n619–22); Hamer thinks “probably”; Kinsley “perhaps,” while Bawcutt and Riddy state firmly that “the incident to which de la Bastie refers is not included by Lindsay in the earlier part of the poem.” De la Bastie’s reference to the “sutheroun” attackers (line 1406) certainly helps to recall this incident (see note to line 633 above), but there is no mention of the famous de la Bastie or any other Frenchman in that earlier account; see note to line 619, above, on the difficulties of identifying the unnamed “ambassador” with the Scots at Amiens.

If the historical accuracy of this tale cannot be ascertained, the intended effect of this enthusiastic praise for the squire from de la Bastie is clear. Long before he was appointed Albany’s lieutenant regent in Scotland, de la Bastie (as he was most commonly called in Scottish records) was celebrated as an international star of the jousting lists and battlefields of Europe. Sometimes glamorously nicknamed “the White Knight” (see for example the 1514 letter from the Florentine ambassador in France [Cal. State Papers (Venice), 2:157, no. 370]), he was also “the Franch knight” whose lavish jousting contest with “the Lord Hamiltoun” was recorded in the Scottish Treasurer’s Accounts for 26 November 1506 (TA 3:xli–xlii). This “Lord Hamiltoun” is the earl of Arran who was admiral of the Scottish fleet in 1513. De la Bastie is thus the kind of real-life chivalric icon whom Meldrum aspires to be. His status as lieutenant Regent for Albany at the time of Meldrum’s attack makes his involvement in bringing Meldrum’s attackers to justice entirely plausible.

1403 Hercules. This figure was clearly well known in Lyndsay’s Scotland. In The Sex Werkdays and Agis, a brief “universal history” copied into the Asloan manuscript c. 1513–30, there is mentioned “Hercules þat slewe and wencust [vanquished] / þe monyest giandis and cruellest monstouris of ony / þat evir we reid” (ed. Houwen, p. 40, lines 316–18). The c. 1550 Complaynt of Scotland lists “the tayl quhou Hercules sleu the serpent hidra that hed vij heydis” (“the tale [of] how Hercules slew the serpent Hydra that had seven heads”; ed. Stewart, p. 50).

1422 Dumbar. Dunbar Castle was used as prison in this period. More importantly, it was held by de la Bastie on behalf of the Duke of Albany, to whom it had been returned as an inducement to bring him back to Scotland. See Acts of Council (Public Affairs), pp. 27–28, 20 November 1514.

1443–46Bot he . . . . art of medicyne. Bawcutt and Riddy note that “[t]he former knight who gives up combat to become a doctor is familiar in chivalric romance,” and they point to the example of Malory’s Sir Baldwin of Brittany in “The Fair Maiden of Ascolat” (Le Morte Darthur, ed. Field, 1:812–25). For a historical example see the life of John of Arderne, who served with Henry Plantagenet and John of Gaunt in battle, then learned how to repair wounds and wrote medical treatises. See ODNB, “Arderne, John (b. 1307/8, d. in or after 1377)” and Peck, “Gower and Science,” p. 193n54.

1455–62 Yit sum thing . . . . scho did so. See the Introduction, “The Historie and History.” on the disparity between at least one contemporary document and Lyndsay’s description of the lady staying and doting on Meldrum as he recovers, before finally being persuaded by friends to give up.

1471 Penelope for Ulisses. Penelope’s chaste twenty-year wait for Ulysses’ return from the siege of Troy made her one of the medieval ideals of wifehood. The first letter of Ovid’s widely circulated and translated Heroides was from Penelope to Ulysses, begging him to return. Lydgate highlights Penelope’s tears and distress in his Troy Book:
For his absence, bothe eve and morwe,
Was deth to hir and inportable sorwe.                                                     unbearable
And ay in sothe for joie or any game,                             truth in all circumstances
Whan it fel she herd Hectoris name,                                                            happened
In any place anoon she fil aswowne                                               at once; in a faint
And gan hirsilf al in teris drowne . . .
(ed. Edwards, 5.2173–78)
One contemporary reader of a late fifteenth or early sixteenth-century manuscript containing Lydgate’s Troy Book and fragments of the Scottish Troy Book (Cambridge, University Library MS KK.5.30) quotes lines 5–6 from the Heroides 1 in the margin (fol. 274v: see Wingfield, Trojan Legend, p. 117).

1473 Cresseid for trew Troylus. Cresseid, with her famous betrayal of “trew Troylus,” is an ambiguous figure with whom to compare the lady of Gleneagles. On the other hand, both Chaucer and Henryson highlight her distress in Troilus and Criseyde and the Testament of Cresseid, and sympathy for her is implied by the reference to her “saikles slander” in the earlier sixteenth-century Scottish romance of Clariodus, ed. Irving, 5.70. Hadley Williams suggests that “the underlying sense is that the lady’s subsequent actions were not wholly within her own control,” as is also the case for Helen of Troy (p. 305n1477–78; see also note for lines 1475–77 below).

1475 it wes. C: is wes. C’s rare typo is corrected in L.

1477–78 Helene . . . . brocht to Troy. Helen of Troy, the wife of Menelaus whose abduction by (and adultery with) Paris sparked the Trojan war, is another potentially ambiguous comparison, although Bawcutt and Riddy note that Guido delle Colonne’s influential Historia destructionis Troiae portrays her grief as genuine and bitter (ed. Griffin, p. 76). See also the reference to the “teeris of Eleyne” in Chaucer’s Man of Law’s Prologue (CT II[B1]70).

1484–85 Bot he . . . . David Hume of Wedderburne. Antoine d’Arces, Seigneur de la Bastie, was murdered by David Home of Wedderburn on 17 September 1517, an event shocking enough to be noted in the Treasurer’s Accounts with the note “obiit Labastye” (TA 5:149). For a detailed discussion of the murder, Home’s motives, and the aftermath, see Emond, “Minority of King James V,” pp. 172–81 and 192.

1496–99 On Striviling brig . . . . the young squyar. On this allusion to the much later murder of Meldrum’s enemy, and the assumption that he was Sir John Stirling of Keir, see the Introduction, “The Historie and History.”

1504–05 Quha ever straikis . . . . ane sword slane. Compare Matthew 26:52 as quoted from two contemporary English translations: “For all that take the swerde, shal perish with the swerde,” in Miles Coverdale’s Biblia, the Bible, STC (2nd ed.) 2063; or “For all that ley hond on the swearde shall perisshe with the swearde,” in William Tyndale’s New Testament, STC (2nd ed.) 2828a.

1519 ane agit lord. This is Patrick, fourth Lord Lindsay of the Byres, who served as sheriff of Fife from 1514 (see Dickinson, Sheriff Court Book of Fife, p. 205). Upon his death in 1526 he was succeeded by his grandson John, fifth Lord Lindsay of the Byres, for whom Meldrum continued to work. A retour of 8 March 1525–26 confirms “John Lindesay” as heir to his late father “Sir John Lindesay of Pitcruvy,” with frank-tenement of the lands reserved “to Patrick, Lord Lindesay, grandfather of John Lindesay” (Fraser, Memorials of the Earls of Haddington, 2:250); an instrument of sasine of 10 February 1526/27 for lands in Calder is made in favor of “John, Lord Lindsay of the Byres” (NRS GD1/1088/5).

1538 Tchyref depute. Sheriff-deputes were appointed by the county sheriff — in Meldrum’s case, Patrick Lord Lindsay of the Byres — to serve under them and act in their stead in the sheriff courts: Meldrum seems to have been one of two Fife sheriff-deputes in 1522, with Thomas Grundistoun the other (Dickinson, Sheriff Court Book of Fife, pp. 250, 255, 258, etc.) and they were still in post as of March of 1527–28 (Reg. Mag. Sig. 3:125, no. 565 [21 March]). “All schireffs sall have gud and sufficient deputes or baillies, for quhom thay sall answere . . . and generallie it is trew that ilk scheriff and uther ordinar judge salbe halden to answer for their deputes, as themselves,” writes Skene in De Verborum Significatione (quoted in Dickinson, p. lv). Evidently it was a position of trust. Dickinson notes that while some fought for the right to be a sheriff-depute, others complained of the expenses incurred (p. liv note 3). There was no salary attached to the post, so a depute “probably looked to his ‘perquisites’ to bring him in no inconsiderable return.” In other words, his income would be very much dependent on his honesty and decency (pp. lviii–lix). This offers some context for the many comments Lyndsay makes about the squire’s lack of interest in riches or payment (lines 1548–54), and Meldrum’s own insistence on the same in the Testament (lines 38–42) although he goes on to order a fantastically lavish funeral for himself.

1552 regaird. C: regaitd. L, S: regard(e). For the definition, DOST hazards a guess of “? A payment” (regard (n.), sense 7) though it cites only this example and another from the sixteenth-century works of Alexander Scott. In fact, support for DOST’s suggestion can be found in Anglo-Norman usage; the AND offers several examples of the sense “remuneration” or “reward” for regard (n.), sense 9.

1559–60 the Sonday . . . . Asch Wednisday. This is Quinquagesima, the last Sunday before the lean season of Lent begins and a day on which last-minute feasting might be expected.

1562 flaun. C: flam. L, S: flame. A “flaun” is a kind of custard or cheese cake, see OED flawn (n.); see also MED and AND flaun (n.). The dishes of this feast in the lady’s honor recall the supper she laid out for him when he first arrived at her castle (lines 885–87). This line is the only example recorded by DOST (flam (n.2)) of any reference to this item in Older Scots, and they label the prints’ spelling here a “var. of (or error for) ME. flaun.” None of the MED, OED, or AND offer examples of spellings with -m, so it has been treated as a typo and corrected here.

1566 Lordis and lairdis. Both terms derive from OE hl~ford and they were initially interchangeable, but from the earlier fifteenth century in Scotland, “laird” came to refer to “the ‘smaller barons’ or smaller landowners generally, as opposed to the greater or titled barons or ‘lords’” (quoting from DOST lard (n.), sense 3). All lords and lairds were landowners, but over the course of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the titles held by many lords became gradually dissociated from actual territories. The term lord came to denote a peer or a “parliamentary lord” who claimed a status similar to that of a peer and could expect to be personally summoned to parliament (such as Meldrum’s employers, the Lords Lindsay of the Byres). See Grant, “The Development of the Scottish Peerage.” “By contrast,” writes Wormald, “it was still their landed estates which gave the lairds their dignity and title; a laird had to be laird of somewhere” (“Lords and Lairds in Fifteenth-Century Scotland,” p. 187).

1589 the Struther into Fyfe. Struthers castle — “the Struther” or sometimes “Ochterotherstruther” in contemporary documents (see Fraser, Memorials of the Earls of Haddington, 2:261, no. 363) — was in northeast Fife, just west of Ceres and south of Cupar, within five miles of Sir David Lyndsay’s own estate at the Mount.


 






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Compylit be Sir David Lyndesay of the Mont, alias, Lyoun, King of Armes.

Quho that antique stories reidis,
Considder may the famous deidis
Of our nobill progenitouris,
Quhilk suld to us be richt mirrouris,
Thair verteous deidis to ensew,
And vicious leving to eschew.
Sic men bene put in memorie
That deith suld not confound thair glorie.
Howbeit thair bodie bene absent,
Thair verteous deidis bene present.
Poetis, thair honour to avance,
Hes put thame in rememberance.
Sum wryt of preclair conquerouris,
And sum of vailyeand empriouris,
And sum of nobill michtie kingis
That royallie did reull thair ringis;
And sum of campiounis, and of knichtis
That bauldlie did defend thair richtis,
Quhilk vailyeandlie did stand in stour
For the defence of thair honour;
And sum of squyeris douchtie deidis,
That wounders wrocht in weirlie weidis.
Sum wryt of deidis amorous,
As Chauceir wrait of Troilus,
How that he luiffit Cressida;
Of Jason and of Medea.
With help of Cleo I intend —
Sa Minerve wald me sapience send —
Ane nobill squyer to discryfe
Quhais douchtines during his lyfe
I knaw my self: thairof I wryte,
And all his deidis I dar indyte,
And secreitis that I did not knaw,
That nobill squyer did me schaw.
Sa I intend, the best I can,
Descryve the deidis and the man,
Quhais youth did occupie in lufe,
Full plesantlie without reprufe;
Quhilk did as monie douchtie deidis
As monie ane that men of reidis
Quhilkis poetis puttis in memorie
For the exalting of thair glorie.
Quhairfoir I think, sa God me saif,
He suld have place amangis the laif,
That his hie honour suld not smure,
Considering quhat he did indure
Oft times for his ladeis sake.
I wait Sir Lancelote du Lake,
Quhen he did lufe King Arthuris wyfe,
Faucht never better with sword nor knyfe
For his ladie in no battell,
Nor had not half so just querrell.
The veritie, quha list declair,
His lufe was ane adulterair
And durst not cum into hir sicht,
Bot lyke ane houlet on the nicht.
With this squyer it stude not so:
His ladie luifit him and no mo.
Husband nor lemman had scho none,
And so he had hir lufe alone.
I think it is no happie lyfe,
Ane man to jaip his maisteris wyfe
As did Lancelote: this I conclude,
Of sic amour culd cum na gude.

                Now to my purpois will I pas,
And shaw yow how the squyer was
Ane gentilman of Scotland borne;
So was his father him beforne,
Of nobilnes lineallie discendit,
Quhilks thair gude fame hes ever defendit.
Gude Williame Meldrum he was namit
Quhilk in his honour was never defamit,
Stalwart and stout in everie stryfe,
And borne within the schyre of Fyfe;
To Cleische and Bynnis richt heritour,
Quhilk stude for lufe in monie stour
He was bot twentie yeiris of age,
Quhen he began his vassalage:
Proportionat weill; of mid stature;
Feirie and wicht and micht indure;
Ovirset with travell both nicht and day;
Richt hardie baith in ernist and play;
Blyith in countenance; right fair of face;
And stude weill ay in his ladies grace,
For he was wounder amiabill,
And in all deidis honorabill,
And ay his honour did avance,
In Ingland first, and syne in France,
And thair his manheid did assaill,
Under the kingis greit admirall
Quhen the greit navie of Scotland,
Passit to the sey aganis Ingland.
And as thay passit be Ireland coist,
The admirall gart land his oist
And set Craigfergus into fyre,
And saifit nouther barne nor byre.
It was greit pietie for to heir
Of the pepill the bailfull cheir,
And how the land folk wer spuilyeit;
Fair wemen underfute wer fuilyeit.
Bot this young squyer, bauld and wicht,
Savit all wemen quhair he micht;
All preistis and freiris he did save,
Till at the last he did persave
Behind ane garding amiabill
Ane womanis voce richt lamentabill,
And on that voce he followit fast,
Till he did see hir at the last,
Spuilyeit, naikit as scho was borne.
Twa men of weir wer hir beforne
Quhilk wer richt cruell men and kene,
Partand the spuilyie thame betwene.
Ane fairer woman nor scho wes
He had not sene in onie place.
Befoir him on hir kneis scho fell,
Sayand: “For him that heryit Hell,
Help me, sweit Sir — I am ane mayd!”
Than softlie to the men he said:
“I pray yow give againe hir sark,
And tak to yow all uther wark.”
Hir kirtill was of scarlot reid,
Of gold, ane garland of hir heid,
Decorit with enamelyne,
Belt and brochis of silver fyne.
Of yallow taftais wes hir sark,
Begaryit all with browderit wark
Richt craftelie, with gold and silk.
Than said the ladie quhyte as milk,
“Except my sark, no thing I crave:
Let thame go hence with all the lave.”
Quod thay to hir, “Be Sanct Fillane,
Of this ye get nathing agane!”
Than said the squyer courteslie,
“Gude freindis, I pray yow hartfullie,
Gif ye be worthie men of weir,
Restoir to hir agane hir geir
Or, be greit God that all hes wrocht,
That spuilyie sal be ful deir bocht!”
Quod thay to him, “We thee defy!”
And drew thair swordis haistely,
And straik at him with sa greit ire
That from his harnes flew the fyre.
With duntis sa darflie on him dang,
That he was never in sic ane thrang.
Bot he him manfullie defendit,
And with ane bolt on thame he bendit
And hat the ane upon the heid,
That to the ground he fell doun deid,
For to the teith he did him cleif:
Lat him ly thair with ane mischeif.
Than with the uther hand for hand,
He beit him with his birneist brand:
The uther was baith stout and strang,
And on the squyer darflie dang,
And than the squyer wrocht greit wonder,
Ay till his sword did shaik in sunder.
Than drew he furth ane sharp dagair
And did him cleik be the collair,
And evin in at the collerbane,
At the first straik he hes him slane:
He founderit fordward to the ground.
Yit was the squyer haill and sound,
Forquhy he was sa weill enarmit,
He did escaip fra thame unharmit.
And quhen he saw thay wer baith slane,
He to that ladie past agane
Quhair scho stude nakit on the bent,
And said, “Take your abulyement,”
And scho him thankit full humillie,
And put hir claithis on spedilie.
Than kissit he that ladie fair,
And tuik his leif at hir but mair.
Be that the taburne and trumpet blew
And everie man to shipburd drew.
That ladie was dolent in hart
From tyme scho saw he wald depart
That hir relevit from hir harmes,
And hint the squyer in hir armes
And said, “Will ye byde in this land,
I sall yow tak to my husband:
Thocht I be cassin now in cair,
I am,” quod scho, “my fatheris air,
The quhilk may spend of pennies round
Of yeirlie rent ane thowsand pound.”
With that hartlie scho did him kis.
“Are ye,” quod scho, “content of this?”
“Of that,” quod he, “I wald be fane
Gif I micht in this realme remane,
Bot I mon first pas into France.
Sa quhen I cum agane, perchance,
And efter that the peice be maid,
To marie yow I will be glaid.
Fairwell, I may no langer tarie:
I pray God keip yow, and sweit Sanct Marie.”
Than gaif scho him ane lufe taking,
Ane riche rubie set in ane ring.
“I am,” quod scho, “at your command,
With yow to pas into Scotland.”
“I thank yow hartfullie,” quod he,
“Ye are ovir young to saill the see,
And speciallie with men of weir.”
“Of that,” quod scho, “tak ye na feir, 1
I sall me cleith in mennis clais,
And ga with yow quhair evir ye pleis:
Suld I not lufe him paramour,
That saifit my lyfe and my honour?”
“Ladie, I say yow in certane,
Ye sall have lufe for lufe agane,
Trewlie, unto my lyfis end!
Fairweill: to God I yow commend.”
With that into his boit he past,
And to the ship he rowit fast.
Thay weyit thair ankeris and maid saill,
This navie with the admirall,
And landit in bauld Brytane.
This admirall was erle of Arrane,
Quhilk was baith wyse and vailyeand,
Of the blude royall of Scotland,
Accompanyit with monie ane knight
Quhilk wer richt worthie men and wicht.
Amang the laif, this young squyar
Was with him richt familiar,
And throw his verteous diligence,
Of that lord he gat sic credence
That quhen he did his courage ken,
Gaif him cure of fyve hundreth men
Quhilkis wer to him obedient,
Reddie at his commandement.
It wer to lang for to declair
The douchtie deidis that he did thair.
Becaus he was sa courageous,
Ladies of him wes amorous.
He was an munyeoun for ane dame:
Meik in chalmer lyk ane lame,
Bot in the feild ane campioun,
Rampand lyke ane wyld lyoun,
Weill practikit with speir and scheild,
And with the formest in the feild.
No chiftane was amangis thame all
In expensis mair liberall.
In everilk play he wan the pryse,
With that he was verteous and wyse,
And so, becaus he was weill pruifit,
With everie man he was weill luifit.

                Hary the aucht, king of Ingland,
That tyme at Caleis wes lyand
With his trimphant ordinance,
Makand weir on the realme of France.
The King of France his greit armie
Lay neir hand by in Picardie,
Quhair aither uther did assaill,
Howbeit thair was na set battaill,
Bot thair wes daylie skirmishing,
Quhair men of armis brak monie sting.
Quhen to the squyer Meldrum
Wer tauld thir nouellis all and sum,
He thocht he wald vesie the weiris,
And waillit furth ane hundreth speiris,
And futemen quhilk wer bauld and stout,
The maist worthie of all his rout.
                Quhen he come to the king of France,
He wes sone put in ordinance;
Richt so was all his companie
That on him waitit continuallie.
Thair was into the Inglis oist
Ane campioun that blew greit boist.
He was ane stout man and ane strang,
Quhilk oist wald with his conduct gang
Outthrow the greit armie of France,
His valiantnes for to avance,
And Maister Talbart was his name,
Of Scottis and Frenche quhilk spak disdane,
And on his bonnet usit to beir
Of silver fyne takinnis of weir.
And proclamatiounis he gart mak
That he wald, for his ladies saik,
With any gentilman of France
To fecht with him with speir or lance:
Bot no Frenche man in all that land
With him durst batteil hand for hand.
Than, lyke ane weiriour vailyeand,
He enterit in the Scottis band:
And quhen the squyer Meldrum
Hard tell this campioun wes cum,
Richt haistelie he past him till,
Demanding him quhat was his will.
“Forsuith, I can find none,” quod he,
“On hors nor fute dar fecht with me.”
Than said he, “It wer greit schame
Without battell ye suld pas hame:
Thairfoir to God I mak ane vow,
The morne my self sall fecht with yow,
Outher on horsbak or on fute —
Your crakkis I count thame not ane cute. 2
I sall be fund into the feild,
Armit on hors with speir and scheild.”
Maister Talbart said, “My gude chyld,
It wer maist lik that thow wer wyld.
Thow ar to young, and hes no might
To fecht with me that is so wicht.
To speik to me thow suld have feir,
For I have sic practik in weir
That I wald not effeirit be
To mak debait aganis sic thre,
For I have stand in manie stour
And ay defendit my honour.
Thairfoir, my barne, I counsell thee,
Sic interprysis to let be.”
Than said this squyer to the knight:
“I grant ye ar baith greit and wicht.
Young David was far les than I
Quhen he with Golias manfullie
Withouttin outher speir or scheild
He faucht and slew him in the feild.
I traist that God salbe my gyde
And give me grace to stanche thy pryde.
Thocht thow be greit, like Gowmakmorne,
Traist weill I sall yow meit the morne
Beside Montruill, upon the grene,
Befoir ten houris I salbe sene.
And gif ye wyn me in the feild,
Baith hors and geir I sall yow yeild,
Sa that siclyke ye do to me.”
“That I sall do, be God!” quod he,
“And thairto I give thee my hand.”
And swa betwene thame maid an band
That thay suld meit upon the morne.
Bot Talbart maid at him bot scorne,
Lychtlyand him with wordis of pryde,
Syne hamewart to his oist culd ryde,
And shew the brethren of his land
How ane young Scot had tane on hand
To fecht with him beside Montruill,
“Bot I traist he sall prufe the fuill.”
Quod thay: “The morne that sall we ken:
The Scottis ar haldin hardie men.”
Quod he, “I compt thame not ane cute:
He sall returne upon his fute
And leif with me his armour bricht,
For weill I wait he hes no micht
On hors nor fute to fecht with me.
Quod thay: “The morne that sall we se.”
Quhan to Monsour de Obenie
Reportit was the veritie,
How that the squyer had tane on hand
To fecht with Talbart hand for hand,
His greit courage he did commend,
Sine haistelie did for him send.
And quhen he come befoir the lord,
The veritie he did record —
How for the honour of Scotland,
That battell he had tane on hand:
“And sen it givis me in my hart,
Get I ane hors to tak my part,
My traist is sa in Goddis grace,
To leif him lyand in the place.
Howbeit he stalwart be and stout,
My lord, of him I have no dout.”
Than send the lord out throw the land,
And gat ane hundreth hors fra hand:
To his presence he brocht in haist,
And bad the squyer cheis him the best.
Of that the squyer was rejoisit,
And cheisit the best as he suppoisit,
And lap on him delyverlie.
Was never hors ran mair plesantlie
With speir and sword at his command,
And was the best of all the land.
He tuik his leif and went to rest,
Syne airlie in the morne him drest
Wantonlie, in his weirlyke weid,
All weill enarmit saif the heid.
He lap upon his cursour wicht,
And straucht him in his stirroppis richt.
His speir and scheild and helme wes borne
With squyeris that raid him beforne:
Ane velvot cap on heid he bair,
Ane quaif of gold to heild his hair.
This lord of him taik sa greit joy,
That he himself wald him convoy;
With him ane hundreth men of armes,
That thair suld no man do him harmes.
The squyer buir into his scheild
Ane otter in ane silver feild.
His hors was bairdit full richelie,
Coverit with satyne cramesie.
Than fordward raid this campioun,
With sound of trumpet and clarioun,
And spedilie spurrit ovir the bent
Lyke Mars the god armipotent.
Thus leif we rydand our squyar,
And speik of maister Talbart mair,
Quhilk gat up airlie in the morrow,
And no maner of geir to borrow —
Hors, harnes, speir nor scheild —
Bot was ay reddie for the feild,
And had sic practik into weir,
Of our squyer he tuik na feir,
And said unto his companyeoun,
Or he come furth of his pavilyeoun:
“This nicht I saw into my dreame
Quhilk to reheirs I think greit shame.
Me thocht I saw cum fra the see
Ane greit otter rydand to me,
The quhilk was blak with ane lang taill,
And cruellie did me assaill
And bait me till he gart me bleid,
And drew me backwart fra my steid.
Quhat this suld mene I can not say
Bot I was never in sic ane fray.”
His fellow said: “Think ye not schame
For to gif credence till ane dreame?
Ye knaw it is aganis our faith!
Thairfoir go dres yow in your graith,
And think weill throw your hie courage
This day ye sall wyn vassalage.”
Than drest he him into his geir
Wantounlie, like ane man of weir
Quhilk had baith hardines and fors,
And lichtlie lap upon his hors.
His hors was bairdit full bravelie,
And coverit wes richt courtfullie
With browderit wark and velvot grene;
Sanct Georges croce thair micht be sene
On hors, harnes and all his geir.
Than raid he furth withouttin weir,
Convoyit with his capitane,
And with monie ane Inglisman
Arrayit all with armes bricht:
Micht no man see ane fairer sicht.

                Than clariounis and trumpettis blew
And weiriouris monie hither drew.
On everie side come monie man
To behald quha the battell wan.
The feild wes in the medow grene,
Quhair everie man micht weill be sene:
The heraldis put thame sa in ordour
That no man passit within the bordour,
Nor preissit to cum within the grene,
Bot heraldis and the campiounis kene.
The ordour and the circumstance
Wer lang to put in remembrance.
Quhen thir twa nobill men of weir
Weir weill accowterit in thair geir,
And in thair handis strang burdounis,
Than trumpotis blew and clariounis,
And heraldis cryit hie on hicht:
“Now let thame go: God shaw the richt!”
Than spedilie thay spurrit thair hors,
And ran to uther with sic fors
That baith thair speiris in sindrie flaw.
Than said they all that stude on raw,
Ane better cours than they twa ran
Was not sene sen the warld began.
Than baith the parties wer rejoisit;
The campiounis ane quhyle repoisit
Till thay had gottin speiris new.
Than with triumph the trumpettis blew
And they, with all the force they can,
Wounder rudelie at aither ran,
And straik at uther with sa greit ire
That fra thair harnes flew the fyre.
Thair speiris war sa teuch and strang
That aither uther to eirth doun dang,
Baith hors and man with speir and scheild,
That flatlingis lay into the feild.
Than maister Talbart was eschamit:
“Forsuith, forever I am defamit!”
And said this: “I had rather die,
Without that I revengit be.”
Our young squyer, sic was his hap,
Was first on fute, and on he lap
Upon his hors without support.
Of that the Scottis tuke gude comfort
Quhen thay saw him sa feirelie
Loup on his hors sa galyeardlie.
The squyer liftit his visair
Ane lytill space to take the air.
Thay bad him wyne, and he it drank
And humillie he did thame thank.
Be that, Talbart on hors mountit,
And of our squyer lytill countit,
And cryit gif he durst undertak
To ryn anis for his ladies saik.
The squyer answerit hie on hight:
“That sall I do, be Marie bricht!
I am content all day to ryn,
Till ane of us the honour wyn.”
Of that Talbart was weill content,
And ane greit speir in hand he hent.
The squyer in his hand he thrang
His speir, quhilk was baith greit and lang,
With ane sharp heid of grundin steill,
Of quhilk he was appleisit weill.
That plesand feild was lang and braid,
Quhair gay ordour and rowme was maid, 3
And everie man micht have gude sicht,
And thair was monie weirlyke knicht.
Sum man of everie natioun
Was in that congregatioun.
Than trumpettis blew triumphantlie,
And thay twa campiounis egeirlie
Thay spurrit thair hors with speir on breist,
Pertlie to preif their pith thay preist. 4
That round rinkroume wes at utterance, 5
Bot Talbartis hors with ane mischance,
He outterit, and to ryn was laith,
Quhairof Talbart was wonder wraith.
The squyer furth his rink he ran,
Commendit weill with everie man,
And him dischargit of his speir
Honestlie, lyke an man of weir.
Becaus that rink thay ran in vane,
Than Talbart wald not ryn agane
Till he had gottin ane better steid,
Quhilk was brocht to him with gude speid,
Quhairon he lap, and tuik his speir,
As brym as he had bene ane beir,
And bowtit fordwart with ane bend,
And ran on to the rinkis end,
And saw his hors was at command.
Than wes he blyith, I understand,
Traistand na mair to ryn in vane.
Than all the trumpettis blew agane:
Be that, with all the force they can,
Thay richt rudelie at uther ran.
Of that meiting ilk man thocht wounder,
Quhilk soundit lyke ane crak of thunder,
And nane of thame thair marrow mist.
Sir Talbartis speir in sunder brist,
Bot the squyer with his burdoun
Sir Talbart to the eirth dang down.
That straik was with sic micht and fors
That on the ground lay man and hors,
And throw the brydell hand him bair,
And in the breist ane span and mair. 6
Throw curras and throw gluifis of plait,
That Talbart micht mak na debait.
The trencheour of the squyeris speir
Stak still into Sir Talbartis geir.
Than everie man into that steid
Did all beleve that he was deid.
The squyer lap richt haistelie
From his cursour deliverlie,
And to Sir Talbart maid support,
And humillie did him comfort.
Quhen Talbart saw into his scheild,
Ane otter in ane silver feild,
“This race,” said he “I may sair rew,
For I see weill my dreame wes trew.
Me thocht yone otter gart me bleid,
And buir me backwart from my steid.
Bot heir I vow to God soverane,
That I sall never just agane.”
And sweitlie to the squyer said,
“Thow knawis the cunnand that we maid:
Quhilk of us twa suld tyne the feild,
He suld baith hors and armour yeild.
Till him that wan, quhairfoir, I will
My hors and harnes geve thee till.”
Than said the squyer courteouslie:
“Brother, I thank yow hartfullie —
Of yow forsuith nathing I crave,
For I have gottin that I wald have.”
With everie man he was commendit,
Sa vailyeandlie he him defendit.
The capitane of the Inglis band
Tuke the young squyer be the hand
And led him to the pailyeoun,
And gart him mak collatioun.
Quhen Talbartis woundis wes bund up fast,
The Inglis capitane to him past
And prudentlie did him comfort,
Syne said: “Brother, I yow exhort
To tak the squyer be the hand.”
And sa he did at his command,
And said: “This bene bot chance of armes.” 7
With that he braisit him in his armes,
Sayand: “Hartlie I yow forgeve,”
And than the squyer tuik his leve,
Commendit weill with everie man.
Than wichtlie on his hors he wan,
With monie ane nobill man convoyit:
Leve we thair Talbart sair annoyit.
Sum sayis of that discomfitour,
He thocht sic schame and dishonour
That he departit of that land,
And never wes sene into Ingland.
Bot our squyer did still remane
Efter the weir, quhill peice was tane.
All capitanes of the kingis gairdis
Gaif to the squyer riche rewairdis;
Becaus he had sa weill debaitit,
With everie nobill he wes weill traitit.
Efter the weir he tuke licence,
Syne did returne with diligence
From Pycardie to Normandie,
And thair ane space remanit he,
Becaus the navie of Scotland
Wes still upon the coist lyand.

                Quhen he ane quhyle had sojornit,
He to the court of France returnit
For to decore his vassalege,
From Bartanye tuke his veyage
With aucht scoir in his companie
Of waillit wicht men and hardie,
Enarmit weill lyke men of weir
With hakbut, culvering, pik and speir,
And passit up throw Normandie
Till Ambiance in Pycardie,
Quhair nobill Lowes, the king of France,
Wes lyand with his ordinance
With monie ane prince and worthie man.
And in the court of France wes than
Ane mervellous congregatioun
Of monie ane divers natioun;
Of Ingland monie ane prudent lord
Efter the weir makand record.
Thair wes than ane ambassadour,
Ane lord, ane man of greit honour:
With him was monie nobill knicht
Of Scotland, to defend thair richt,
Quhilk guydit thame sa honestlie,
Inglismen had thame at invie
And purposit to mak thame cummer,
Becaus they wer of greiter number.
And sa, quhairever thay with thame met,
Upon the Scottis thay maid onset,
And lyke wyld lyounis furious,
Thay layd ane seige about the hous
Thame to destroy, sa thay intendit.
Our worthie Scottis thame weill defendit:
The Sutheroun wes ay fyve for ane, 8
Sa on ilk syde thair wes men slane.
The Inglismen grew in greit ire,
And cryit, “Swyith — set the hous in fyre!”
Be that the squyer Meldrum
Into the market streit wes cum
With his folkis in gude array,
And saw the toun wes in ane fray.
He did inquyre the occasioun:
Quod thay, “The Scottis are all put doune
Be Inglismen into thair innis.”
Quod he: “I wald gif all the Bynnis,
That I micht cum or thay departit!”
With that he grew sa cruell hartit,
That he was like ane wyld lyoun,
And rudelie ran outthrow the toun
With all his companie weill arrayit,
And with baner ful braid displayit.
And quhen thay saw the Inglis rout,
Thay set upon thame with ane schout;
With reird sa rudelie on thame ruschit,
That fiftie to the eirth thay duschit.
Thair was nocht ellis bot tak and slay. 9
This squyer wounder did that day,
And stoutlie stoppit in the stour,
And dang on thame with dintis dour.
Wes never man buir better hand;
Thair micht na buckler byde his brand, 10
For it was weill sevin quarter lang.
With that sa derflie on thame dang
That, lyke ane worthie campioun,
Ay at ane straik he dang ane doun.
Sum wes evill hurt, and sum wes slane;
Sum fel quhilk rais not yit agane.
Quhen that the Sutheroun saw his micht,
Effrayitlie thay tuke the flicht
And wist not quhair to flie for haist,
Thus throw the toun he hes thame chaist.
Wer not Frenchemen come to the redding, 11
Thair had bene mekill mair blude shedding.
                Of this journey I mak an end,
Quhilk everie nobill did commend.
Quhen to the king the cace wes knawin,
And all the suith unto him shawin,
How this squyer sa manfullie
On Sutheroun wan the victorie,
He put him into ordinance.
And sa he did remane in France
Ane certane tyme for his plesour,
Weill estemit in greit honour,
Quhair he did monie ane nobill deid.
With that, richt wantoun in his weid,
Quhen ladies knew his hie courage,
He was desyrit in mariage
Be ane ladie of greit rent,
Bot youth maid him sa insolent
That he in France wald not remane,
Bot come to Scotland hame agane.
Thocht Frenche ladies did for him murne,
The Scottis wer glaid of his returne.
At everie lord he tuke his leve,
Bot his departing did thame greive,
For he was luifit with all wichtis
Quhilk had him sene defend his richtis.
Scottis capitanes did him convoy,
Thocht his departing did thame noy.
At Deip he maid him for the saill, 12
Quhair he furnischit ane gay veschaill
For his self and his men of weir
With artailyie, hakbut, bow, and speir,
And furneist hir with gude victuaill,
With the best wyne that he culd waill.
And quhen the schip was reddie maid,
He lay bot ane day in the raid
Quhill he gat wind of the southeist.
Than thay thair ankeris weyit on haist,
And syne maid saill, and fordwart past
Ane day at morne, till at the last,
Of ane greit saill thay gat ane sicht,
And Phoebus schew his bemis bricht
Into the morning richt airlie.
Than past the skipper richt spedelie
Up to the top with richt greit feir,
And saw it wes ane man of weir,
And cryit: “I see nocht ellis, perdie,
Bot we mon outher fecht or fle.” 13
The squyer wes in his bed lyand,
Quhen he hard tell this new tydand.
Be this, the Inglis artailye
Lyke hailschot maid on thame assailye,
And sloppit throw thair fechting saillis,
And divers dang out ovir the waillis.
The Scottis agane, with all thair micht
Of gunnis than thay leit fle ane flicht.
Thar thay micht weill see quhair they wair:
Heidis and armes flew in the air.
The Scottis schip scho wes sa law,
That monie gunnis out ovir hir flaw 14
Quhilk far beyond thame lichtit doun,
Bot the Inglis greit galyeoun
Fornent thame stude lyke ane strang castell,
That the Scottis gunnis micht na way faill,
Bot hat hir ay on the richt syde
With monie ane slop, for all hir pryde,
That monie ane beft wer on thair bakkis.
Than rais the reik with uglie crakkis,
Quhilk on the sey maid sic ane sound
That in the air it did redound,
That men micht weill wit on the land,
That shippis wer on the sey fechtand.
Be this thegyder straik the shippis
And ather on uther laid thair clippis,
And than began the strang battell —
Ilk man his marrow did assaill.
Sa rudelie thay did rushe togidder,
That nane micht hald thair feit for slidder, 15
Sum with halbert and sum with speir,
Bot hakbuttis did the greitest deir.
Out of the top the grundin dartis
Did divers peirs out throw the hartis.
Everie man did his diligence
Upon his fo to wirk vengence,
Ruschand on uther routtis rude,
That ovir the waillis ran the blude.
The Inglis capitane cryit hie:
“Swyith yeild, yow doggis, or ye sall die!
And do ye not, I mak ane vow
That Scotland sal be quyte of yow.”
That peirtlie answerit the squyer,
And said, “O tratour tavernar —
I lat thee wit, thow hes na micht
This day to put us to the flight.”
Thay derflie ay at uther dang;
The squyer thristit throw the thrang
And in the Inglis schip he lap,
And hat the capitane sic ane flap
Upon his heid till he fell doun,
Welterand intill ane deidlie swoun.
And quhen the Scottis saw the squyer
Had strikkin doun that rank rever,
They left thair awin schip standand waist
And in the Inglis schip in haist
They followit all thair capitane,
And sone wes all the Sutheroun slane.
Howbeit thay wer of greiter number,
The Scottismen put thame in sic cummer
That thay wer fane to leif the feild,
Cryand mercie, than did thame yeild.
Yit wes the squyer straikand fast
At the capitane, till at the last,
Quhen he persavit no remeid,
Outher to yeild or to be deid,
He said: “O gentill capitane,
Thoill me not for to be slane —
My lyfe to yow sal be mair pryse
Nor sall my deith ane thowsand syse!
For ye may get, as I suppois,
Thrie thowsand nobillis of the rois
Of me, and of my companie.
Thairfoir I cry yow loud mercie.
Except my lyfe, nothing I craif:
Tak yow the schip and all the laif.
I yeild to yow baith sword and knyfe —
Thairfoir, gud maister, save my lyfe!”
The squyer tuik him be the hand,
And on his feit he gart him stand,
And treittit him richt tenderly,
And syne unto his men did cry,
And gaif to thame richt strait command
To straik no moir, bot hald thair hand.
Than baith the capitanes ran and red,
And so thair wes na mair blude shed.
Than all the laif thay did thame yeild,
And to the Scottis gaif sword and scheild.
Ane nobill leiche the squyer had —
Quhairof the Inglismen wes full glaid —
To quhome the squyer gaif command
The woundit men to tak on hand,
And so he did with diligence,
Quhairof he gat gude recompence.
Than quhen the woundit men wer drest,
And all the deand men confest,
And deid men cassin in the see,
Quhilk to behald wes greit pietie,
Thair was slane of Inglis band
Fyve score of men, I understand,
The quhilk wer cruell men and kene,
And of the Scottis wer slane fyftene.
And quhen the Inglis capitane
Saw how his men wer tane and slane,
And how the Scottis, sa few in number,
Had put thame in sa greit ane cummer,
He grew intill ane frenesy,
Sayand, “Fals Fortoun, I the defy!
For I belevit this day at morne,
That he was not in Scotland borne
That durst have met me hand for hand
Within the boundis of my brand.”
The squyer bad him mak gude cheir,
And said, “It wes bot chance of weir:
Greit conquerouris, I yow assure,
Hes hapnit siclike adventure.
Thairfoir mak mirrie and go dyne,
And let us preif the michtie wyne!”
Sum drank wyne and sum drank aill,
Syne put the shippis under saill,
And waillit furth of the Inglis band
Twa hundreth men, and put on land
Quyetlie on the coist of Kent:
The laif in Scotland with him went.
The Inglis capitane, as I ges,
He wairdit him in the Blaknes,
And treitit him richt honestlie,
Togither with his companie,
And held thame in that garnisoun
Till thay had payit thair ransoun.
Out throw the land than sprang the fame
That squyer Meldrum wes cum hame.

                Quhen they hard tell how he debaitit,
With everie man he was sa treitit,
That quhen he travellit throw the land,
Thay bankettit him fra hand to hand 16
With greit solace, till at the last
Out throw Straitherne the squyer past,
And as it did approch the nicht,
Of ane castell he gat ane sicht,
Beside ane montane in ane vaill,
And than, efter his greit travaill,
He purpoisit him to repois
Quhair ilk man did of him rejois.
Of this trimphant plesant place,
Ane lustie ladie wes maistres
Quhais lord was deid schort tyme befoir,
Quhairthrow hir dolour wes the moir.
Bot yit scho tuke sum comforting
To heir the plesant dulce talking
Of this young squyer of his chance,
And how it fortunit him in France.
This squyer and the ladie gent
Did wesche, and then to supper went.
During that nicht thair was nocht ellis
Bot for to heir of his novelis.
Eneas, quhen he fled from Troy,
Did not Quene Dido greiter joy
Quhen he in Carthage did arryve,
And did the seige of Troy discryve.
The wonderis that he did reheirs
Wer langsum for to put in vers,
Of quhilk this ladie did rejois.
Thay drank, and syne went to repois.
He fand his chalmer weill arrayit,
With dornik work on buird displayit.
Of venisoun he had his waill,
Gude aquavite, wyne and aill,
With nobill confeittis, bran and geill, 17
And swa the squyer fuir richt weill.
Sa, to heir mair of his narratioun,
This ladie come to his collatioun,
Sayand he was richt welcum hame.
“Grandmercie than,” quod he, “Madame.”
Thay past the time with ches and tabill,
For he to everie game was abill.
Than unto bed drew everie wicht:
To chalmer went this ladie bricht,
The quhilk this squyer did convoy,
Syne till his bed he went with joy.
That nicht he sleipit never ane wink,
Bot still did on the ladie think.
Cupido with his fyrie dart
Did peirs him so outthrow the hart,
Sa all that nicht he did bot murnit,
Sumtyme sat up, and sumtyme turnit,
Sichand with monie gant and grane,
To fair Venus makand his mane,
Sayand, “Ladie, quhat may this mene?
I was ane fre man lait yistrene,
And now ane cative, bound and thrall,
For ane that I think flour of all.
                I pray God, sen scho knew my mynd,
How for hir saik I am sa pynd
Wald God I had bene yit in France
Or I had hapnit sic mischance:
To be subject or serviture
Till ane quhilk takis of me na cure!”
This ladie ludgit neirhand by,
And hard the squyer prively,
With dreidfull hart makand his mone,
With monie cairfull gant and grone.
Hir hart, fulfillit with pietie,
Thocht scho wald haif of him mercie,
And said: “Howbeit I suld be slane,
He sall have lufe for lufe agane.
Wald God I micht with my honour,
Have him to be my paramour!”
This wes the mirrie tyme of May,
Quhen this fair ladie, freshe and gay,
Start up to take the hailsum air,
With pantonis on hir feit ane pair,
Airlie into ane cleir morning
Befoir fair Phoebus uprysing,
Kirtill alone, withouttin clok,
And saw the squyeris dure unlok.
Scho slippit in or ever he wist,
And fenyeitlie past till ane kist,
And with her keyis oppinnit the lokkis
And maid hir to take furth ane boxe —
Bot that was not hir erand thair.
With that, this lustie young squyar
Saw this ladie so plesantlie
Cum to his chalmer quyetlie,
In kyrtill of fine damais broun,
Hir goldin traissis hingand doun.
Hir pappis wer hard, round and quhyte,
Quhome to behald wes greit delyte.
Lyke the quhyte lyllie wes hir lyre;
Hir hair was like the reid gold wyre,
Hir schankis quhyte, withouttin hois,
Quhairat the squyer did rejois,
And said than, “Now, vailye quod vailye,
Upon the ladie thow mak ane sailye!”
Hir courtlyke kirtill was unlaist,
And sone into his armis hir braist
And said to hir: “Madame, gude morne —
Help me, your man that is forlorne.
Without ye mak me sum remeid,
Withouttin dout, I am bot deid,
Quhairfoir ye mon releif my harmes.”
With that he hint hir in his armes,
And talkit with hir on the flure,
Syne quyetlie did bar the dure.
“Squyer,” quod scho, “quhat is your will?
Think ye my womanheid to spill?
Na, God forbid, it wer greit syn!
My lord and ye wes neir of kyn.
Quhairfoir I mak yow supplicatioun:
Pas and seik ane dispensatioun.
Than sall I wed yow with ane ring;
Than may ye leif at your lyking,
For ye ar young, lustie and fair,
And als ye ar your fatheris air.
Thair is na ladie in all this land
May yow refuse to hir husband.
And gif ye lufe me as ye say,
Haist to dispens the best ye may,
And thair to yow I geve my hand —
I sall yow take to my husband.”
Quod he: “Quhill that I may indure,
I vow to be your serviture,
Bot I think greit vexatioun
To tarie upon dispensation —”
Than in his armis he did hir thrist,
And aither uther sweitlie kist,
And wame for wame thay uther braissit;
With that hir kirtill wes unlaissit.
Than Cupido, with his fyrie dartis,
Inflammit sa thir luiferis hartis,
Thay micht na maner of way dissever,
Nor ane micht not part fra ane uther,
Bot like wodbind thay wer baith wrappit.
Thair tenderlie he hes hir happit
Full softlie up intill his bed —
Judge ye gif he hir schankis shed.
“Allace,” quod scho, “quhat may this mene?”
And with hir hair scho dicht hir ene.
                I can not tell how thay did play,
Bot I beleve scho said not nay.
He pleisit hir sa, as I hard sane,
That he was welcum ay agane.
Scho rais and tendirlie him kist,
And on his hand ane ring scho thrist,
And he gaif hir ane lufe drowrie —
Ane ring set with ane riche rubie,
In takin that thair lufe for ever
Suld never from thir twa dissever.
And than scho passit unto hir chalmer,
And fand hir madinnis sweit as lammer
Sleipand full sound, and nothing wist
How that thair ladie past to the kist.
Quod thay: “Madame, quhair have ye bene?”
Quod scho: “Into my gardine grene,
To heir thir mirrie birdis sang.
I lat yow wit, I thocht not lang,
Thocht I had taryit thair quhill none.” 18
Quod thai: “Quhair wes your hois and schone?
Quhy yeid ye with your bellie bair?”
Quod scho: “The morning wes sa fair,
For be him that deir Jesus sauld,
I felt na wayis ony maner of cauld.”
Quod thay: “Madame, me think ye sweit.”
Quod scho: “Ye see I sufferit heit:
The dew did sa on flouris fleit
That baith my lymmis ar maid weit
Thairfoir ane quhyle I will heir ly,
Till this dulce dew be fra me dry.
Ryse and gar mak our denner reddie.”
“That sal be done,” quod thay, “My ladie.”
Efter that scho had tane hir rest,
Sho rais and in hir chalmer hir drest,
And efter mes to denner went.
Than wes the squyer diligent
To declair monie sindrie storie
Worthie to put in memorie.
                Quhat sall we of thir luiferis say?
Bot all this tyme of lustie May,
They past the tyme with joy and blis,
Full quyetlie with monie ane kis.
Thair was na creature that knew
Yit of thir luiferis chalmer glew,
And sa he levit plesandlie
Ane certane time with his ladie,
Sum time with halking and hunting,
Sum time with wantoun hors rinning,
And sum time, like ane man of weir,
Full galyardlie wald ryn ane speir.
He wan the pryse abone thame all,
Baith at the buttis and the futeball;
Till everie solace he was abill,
At cartis and dyce, at ches and tabill;
And gif ye list, I sall yow tell
How that he seigit ane castell.
Ane messinger come spedilie
From the Lennox to that ladie,
And schew how that Makfagon —
And with him monie bauld baron —
Hir castell had tane perfors
And nouther left hir kow nor hors,
And heryit all that land about,
Quhairof the ladie had greit dout.
Till hir squyer scho passit in haist,
And schew him how scho wes opprest,
And how he waistit monie ane myle
Betwix Dunbartane and Argyle.
And quhen the squyer Meldrum
Had hard thir novellis all and sum,
Intill his hart thair grew sic ire
That all his bodie brint in fyre,
And swoir it suld be full deir sald,
Gif he micht find him in that hald.
He and his men did them addres
Richt haistelie in thair harnes,
Sum with bow and sum with speir,
And he, like Mars the god of weir,
Come to the ladie and tuke his leif,
And scho gaif him hir richt hand gluif,
The quhilk he on his basnet bure
And said: “Madame, I yow assure
That worthie Lancelot du laik,
Did never mair for his ladies saik
Nor I sall do, or ellis de,
Without that ye revengit be.”
Than in hir armes scho him braist,
And he his leif did take in haist,
And raid that day and all the nicht,
Till on the morne he gat ane sicht
Of that castell baith fair and strang.
Than, in the middis his men amang,
To michtie Mars his vow he maid,
That he suld never in hart be glaid,
Nor yit returne furth of that land
Quhill that strenth wer at his command. 19
All the tennentis of that ladie
Come to the squyer haistelie,
And maid aith of fidelitie
That they suld never fra him flie.
Quhen to Makferland, wicht and bauld,
The veritie all haill wes tauld
How the young squyer Meldrum
Wes now into the cuntrie cum,
Purpoisand to seige that place,
Than vittaillit he that fortres
And swoir he suld that place defend
Bauldlie untill his lyfis end.
Be this, the squyer wes arrayit,
With his baner bricht displayit,
With culvering, hakbut, bow and speir.
Of Makfarland he tuke na feir,
And like ane campioun courageous,
He cryit and said, “Gif ovir the hous!”
The capitane answerit heighly
And said: “Tratour, we thee defy!
We sall remane this hous within,
Into despyte of all thy kyn.”
With that the archeris bauld and wicht
Of braid arrowis let fle ane flicht
Amang the squyers companie,
And thay agane richt manfullie
With hakbute, bow and culveryne,
Quhilk put Makferlandis men to pyne,
And on thair colleris laid full sikker,
And thair began ane bailfull bikker.
Thair was bot schot and schot agane,
Till on ilk side thair wes men slane.
Than cryit the squyer couragious:
“Swyith, lay the ledderis to the house!”
And sa thay did, and clam belyfe
As busie beis dois to thair hyfe.
Howbeit thair wes slane monie man,
Yit wichtlie ovir the wallis they wan.
The squyer, formest of them all,
Plantit the baner ovir the wall,
And than began the mortall fray —
Thair wes not ellis bot tak and slay.
Than Makferland, that maid the prais,
From time he saw the squyeris face,
Upon his kneis he did him yeild,
Deliverand him baith speir and scheild.
The squyer hartlie him ressavit,
Commandand that he suld be savit,
And sa did slaik that mortall feid,
Sa that na man wes put to deid.
In fre waird was Makferland seisit,
And leit the laif gang quhair they pleisit.
And sa this squyer amorous
Seigit and wan the ladies hous,
And left thairin ane capitane,
Syne to Stratherne returnit agane,
Quhair that he with his fair ladie
Ressavit wes full plesantlie,
And to tak rest did him convoy.
Judge ye gif thair wes mirth and joy:
Howbeit the chalmer dure wes cloisit,
They did bot kis, as I suppoisit.
Gif uther thing wes them betwene,
Let them discover that luiferis bene,
For I am not in lufe expart
And never studyit in that art.
                Thus they remainit in merines,
Beleifand never to have distres.
In that meine time this ladie fair
Ane douchter to the squyer bair:
Nane fund was fairer of visage.
Than tuke the squyer sic courage,
Agane the mirrie time of May, 20
Threttie he put in his luferay
In scarlot fyne and of hew grene,
Quhilk wes ane semelie sicht to sene.
                The gentilmen in all that land
Wer glaid with him to mak ane band,
And he wald plainelie take thair partis,
And not desyring bot thair hartis.
Thus levit the squyer plesandlie,
With musick and with menstralie.
Of this ladie he wes sa glaid,
Thair micht na sorrow mak him sad.
Ilk ane did uther consolatioun,
Taryand upon dispensatioun.
Had it cum hame, he had hir bruikit, 21
Bot or it come, it wes miscuikit,
And all this game he bocht ful deir,
As ye at lenth sall efter heir.

                Of warldlie joy it wes weill kend
That sorrow bene the fatall end,
For jelousie and fals invie
Did him persew richt cruellie.
I mervell not thocht it be so,
For they wer ever luiferis fo,
Quhairthrow he stude in monie ane stour, 22
And ay defendit his honour.
                Ane cruell knicht dwelt neir hand by
Quhilk at this squyer had invy,
Imaginand intill his hart
How he thir luiferis micht depart,
And wald have had hir maryand
Ane gentilman within his land
The quhilk to him wes not in blude.
Bot finallie, for to conclude,
Thairto scho wald never assent.
Quhairfoir the knicht set his intent
This nobill squyer for to destroy,
And swore he suld never have joy
Intill his hart, without remeid,
Till ane of thame wer left for deid.
This vailyeand squyer manfully
In ernist or play did him defy,
Offerand himself for to assaill
Bodie for bodie in battaill;
The knicht thairto not condiscendit,
Bot to betrais him ay intendit.
                Sa it fell anis upon ane day
In Edinburgh, as I hard say:
This squyer and the ladie trew
Was thair, just matteris to persew.
That cruell knight, full of invy,
Gart hald on them ane secreit spy
Quhen thai suld pas furth of the toun,
For this squyeris confusioun,
Quhilk traistit no man suld him greive
Nor of tressoun had no beleive,
And tuik his licence from his oist
And liberallie did pay his coist
And sa departit blyith and mirrie,
With purpois to pas ovir the ferrie.
He wes bot auchtsum in his rout,
For of danger he had no dout.
The spy come to the knicht anone,
And him informit how they wer gone.
Than gadderit he his men in hy
With thrie scoir in his company,
Accowterit weill in feir of weir,
Sum with bow and sum with speir,
And on the squyer followit fast,
Till thay did see him at the last,
With all his men richt weill arrayit,
With cruell men nathing effrayit.
And quhen the ladie saw the rout,
Got wait gif scho stude in greit dout.
Quod scho: “Your enemeis I see —
Thairfoir, sweit hart, I reid yow fle.
In the cuntrey I will be kend;
Ye ar na partie to defend.
Ye knaw yone knichtis crueltie,
That in his hart hes no mercie:
It is bot ane that thay wald have.
Thairfoir, deir hart, yourself ye save —
Howbeit thay tak me with this trane,
I sal be sone at yow agane —
For ye war never sa hard staid.” 23
“Madame,” quod he, “be ye not raid,
For be the halie Trinitie,
This day ane fute I will not fle!”
And be he had endit this word,
He drew ane lang twa-handit sword,
And put his aucht men in array,
And bad that thay suld take na fray.
Than to the squyer cryit the knicht,
And said: “Send me the ladie bricht!
Do ye not sa, be Goddis corce,
I sall hir tak away perforce!”
The squyer said: “Be thow ane knicht,
Cum furth to me and shaw the richt,
Bot hand for hand, without redding, 24
That thair be na mair blude shedding.
And gif thow winnis me in the feild,
I sall my ladie to the yeild.”
The knicht durst not for all his land
Fecht with this squyer hand for hand.
The squyer than saw no remeid,
Bot outher to fecht or to be deid.
To hevin he liftit up his visage,
Cryand to God with hie courage:
“To thee my querrell I do commend.”
Syne bowtit fordwart with ane bend,
With countenance baith bauld and stout,
He rudelie rushit in that rout,
With him his litill companie,
Quhilk them defendit manfullie.
The squyer with his birneist brand
Amang his famen maid sic hand
That Gaudefer, as sayis the letter,
At Gadderis Ferrie faucht no better.
His sword he swappit sa about,
That he greit round maid in the rout,
And like ane man that was dispairit,
His wapoun sa on thame he wairit,
Quhome ever he hit, as I hard say,
Thay did him na mair deir that day.
Quha ever come within his boundis,
He chaipit not but mortall woundis.
Sum mutilate wer, and sum wer slane,
Sum fled and come not yit agane.
He hat the knicht abone the breis
That he fel fordwart on his kneis:
Wer not Thome Giffard did him save,
The knicht had sone bene in his grave.
Bot than the squyer with his brand
Hat Thomas Giffard on the hand:
From that time furth during his lyfe,
He never weildit sword nor knyfe.
Than come ane sort as brim as beiris,
And in him festnit fyftene speiris
In purpois to have borne him doun,
Bot he, as forcie campioun,
Amang thai wicht men wrocht greit wounder,
For all thai speiris he schure in sunder.
Nane durst com neir him hand for hand,
Within the boundis of his brand.
This worthie squyer courageous
Micht be compairit to Tydeus
Quhilk faucht for to defend his richtis,
And slew of Thebes fyftie knichtis.
Rolland with Brandwell, his bricht brand,
Faucht neuer better hand for hand,
Nor Gawin aganis Golibras,
Nor Olyver with Pharambras.
I wait he faucht that day alse weill
As did Sir Gryme aganis Graysteille,
And I dar say, he was als abill,
As onie knicht of the Round Tabill,
And did his honour mair avance,
Nor onie of thay knichtis perchance,
The quhilk I offer me to preif
Gif that ye pleis, sirs, with your leif.
                Amang thay knichts wes maid ane band
That they suld fecht bot hand for hand,
Assurit that thair suld cum no mo.
With this squyer it stude not so:
His stalwart stour quha wald discryfe,
Aganis ane man thair come ay fyfe.
Quhen that this cruell tyrane knicht
Saw the squyer sa wounder wicht,
And had no micht him to destroy,
Into his hart thair grew sic noy
That he was abill for to rage
That no man micht his ire asswage. 25
“Fy on us,” said he to his men:
“Ay aganis ane sen we ar ten!
Chaip he away, we are eschamit — 26
Like cowertis we sal be defamit.
I had rather be in hellis pane
Or he suld chaip fra us unslane.”
And callit thrie of his companie,
Said: “Pas behind him quyetlie.”
And sa thay did richt secreitlie,
And come behind him cowartlie,
And hackit on his hochis and theis
Till that he fell upon his kneis.
Yit quhen his schankis wer schorne in sunder,
Upon his kneis he wrocht greit wounder,
Sweipand his sword round about,
Not haifand of the deith na dout.
Durst nane approche within his boundis,
Till that his cruell mortall woundis
Bled sa, that he did swap in swoun:
Perforce behuifit him than fall doun.
And quhen he lay upon the ground,
They gaif him monie cruell wound
That men on far micht heir the knokkis,
Like boucheouris hakkand on their stokks.
And finallie, without remeid,
They left him lyand thair for deid
With ma woundis of sword and knyfe
Nor ever had man that keipit lyfe.
Quhat suld I of thir tratouris say?
Quhen they had done they fled away.
Bot than this lustie ladie fair,
With dolent hart scho maid sic cair,
Quhilk wes greit pietie for to reheirs
And langsum for to put in vers.
With teiris scho wuische his bludie face,
Sichand with manie loud “allace.”
“Allace,” quod scho, “that I was borne —
In my querrell thow art forlorne!
Sall never man efter this
Of my bodie have mair plesour,
For thow was gem of gentilnes,
And verie well of worthines.”
That to the eirth scho rushit doun
And lay intill ane deidlie swoun.
Be that the regent of the land
Fra Edinburgh come fast rydand:
Sir Anthonie Darsie wes his name,
Ane knicht of France and man of fame,
Quhilk had the guiding haillilie
Under Johne, Duke of Albanie,
Quhilk wes to our young king tutour,
And of all Scotland governour.
Our king was bot fyve yeiris of age,
That time quhen done wes the outrage.
Quhen this gude knicht the squyer saw
Thus lyand intill his deid thraw,
“Wo is me,” quod he, “to see this sicht
On thee, quhilk worthie wes and wicht!
Wald God that I had bene with thee
As thow in France was anis with me
Into the land of Picardy,
Quhair Inglis men had greit invy
To have me slane, sa they intendit,
Bot manfullie thow me defendit
And vailyeandlie did save my lyfe.
Was never man with sword nor knyfe —
Nocht Hercules, I dar weill say —
That ever faucht better for ane day,
Defendand me within ane stound:
Thow dang seir sutheroun to the ground.
I may thee mak no help, allace,
Bot I sall follow on the chace
Richt spedilie, baith day and nicht,
Till I may get that cruell knicht.
I mak ane vow: gif I may get him,
In till ane presoun I sall set him,
And quhen I heir that thow beis deid,
Than sall my handis straik of his heid.”
With that he gave his hors the spurris,
And spedelie flaw ovir the furris.
He and his gaird with all thair micht
They ran till thai ovirtuik the knicht.
Quhen he approchit, he lichtit doun,
And like ane vailyeand campioun,
He tuik the tyrane presonar,
And send him backward to Dumbar,
And thair remainit in presoun
Ane certane time in that dungeoun.
Let him ly thair with mekill cair,
And speik we of our heynd squyar,
Of quhome we can not speik bot gude.
Quhen he lay bathand in his blude,
His freindis and his ladie fair,
They maid for him sic dule and cair
Quhilk wer greit pietie to deploir:
Of that matter I speik no moir.
Thay send for leiches haistelie,
Syne buir his bodie tenderlie
To ludge into ane fair ludgyne,
Quhair he ressavit medicyne.
The greitest leichis of the land
Come all to him without command,
And all practikis on him provit,
Becaus he was sa weill belovit.
Thay tuik on hand his life to save,
And he thame gaif quhat they wald have.
Bot he sa lang lay into pane,
He turnit to be ane chirurgiane,
And als be his naturall ingyne,
He lernit the art of medicyne.
He saw thame on his bodie wrocht,
Quhairfoir the science wes deir bocht.
Bot efterward quhen he was haill,
He spairit na coist nor yit travaill
To preif his practikis on the pure,
And on thame previt monie ane cure
On his expensis, without rewaird —
Of money he tuik na regaird.

                Yit sum thing will we commoun mair
Of this ladie quhilk maid greit cair,
Quhilk to the squyer wes mair pane
Nor all his woundis, in certane.
And than hir freindis did conclude,
Becaus scho micht to him na gude
That scho suld take hir leif and go
Till hir cuntrie, and scho did so.
Bot thir luiferis met never agane,
Quhilk wes to thame ane lestand pane,
For scho aganis hir will wes maryit,
Quhairthrow hir weird scho daylie waryit. 27
Howbeit hir bodie wes absent,
Hir tender hart wes ay present
Baith nicht and day with hir squyar:
Wes never creature that maid sic cair.
Penelope for Ulisses,
I wait, had never mair distres,
Nor Cresseid for trew Troylus
Wes not tent part sa dolorous.
I wait it wes aganis hir hart
That scho did from hir lufe depart.
Helene had not sa mekill noy
Quhen scho perforce wes brocht to Troy.
I leif hir than with hart full sore,
And speik now of this squyer more.

                Quhen this squyer wes haill and sound,
And softlie micht gang on the ground,
To the regent he did complane.
Bot he, allace, wes richt sone slane
Be David Hume of Wedderburne,
The quhilk gart monie Frenchemen murne,
For thair was nane mair nobill knicht,
Mair vailyeand, mair wys, mair wicht,
And sone efter that crueltie,
The knicht was put to libertie,
The quhilk the squyer had opprest:
Sa wes his matter left undrest
Becaus the king was young of age,
Than tyrannis rang into thair rage, 28
Bot efterward, as I hard say,
On Striviling brig upon ane day,
This knight wes slane with crueltie,
And that day gat na mair mercie
Nor he gaif to the young squyar.
I say na mair, let him ly thair:
For cruell men, ye may weill see,
They end ofttimes with crueltie.
For Christ to Peter said this word:
“Quha ever straikis with ane sword,
That man sal be with ane sword slane.”
That saw is suith, I tell yow plane.
He menis, quha straikis cruellie
Aganis the law without mercie,
Bot this squyer to nane offendit,
Bot manfullie himself defendit.
Wes never man with sword nor knyfe
Micht saif thair honour and thair lyfe
As did the squyer all his dayis,
With monie terribill effrayis.
Wald I at lenth his lyfe declair,
I micht weill writ ane uther quair.
Bot at this time I may not mend it,
Bot shaw yow how the squyer endit.

                Thair dwelt in Fyfe ane agit lord
That of this squyer hard record,
And did desire richt hartfullie
To have him in his companie,
And send for him with diligence,
And he come with obedience,
And lang time did with him remane,
Of quhome this agit lord was fane.
Wyse men desiris commounlie
Wyse men into thair companie,
For he had bene in monie ane land —
In Flanderis, France and in Ingland —
Quhairfoir the lord gaif him the cure
Of his houshald, I yow assure,
And in his hall cheif merschall,
And auditour of his comptis all.
He was ane richt courticiane,
And in the law ane practiciane,
Quhairfoir during this lordis lyfe,
Tchyref depute he wes in Fyfe,
To everie man ane equall judge,
And of the pure he wes refuge,
And with justice did thame support,
And curit thair sairis with greit comfort.
For as I did reheirs before,
Of medicine he tuke the lore
Quhen he saw the chirurgience
Upon him do thair diligence.
Experience maid him perfyte,
And of the science tuke sic delyte
That he did monie thriftie cure,
And speciallie upon the pure,
Without rewaird for his expensis,
Without regaird or recompencis.
To gold, to silver, or to rent,
This nobill squyer tuke litill tent.
Of all this warld na mair he craifit,
Sa that his honour micht be saifit.
And ilk yeir for his ladies saik,
Ane banket royall wald he maik,
And that he maid on the Sonday
Precedand to Asch Wednisday,
With wyld foull, venisoun and wyne;
With tairt, and flaun, and frutage fyne;
Of bran and geill thair wes na skant, 29
And ipocras he wald not want.
I have sene sittand at his tabill
Lordis and lairdis honorabill,
With knichtis and monie ane gay squyar
Quhilk wer to lang for to declair,
With mirth, musick and menstrallie.
All this he did for his ladie,
And for hir saik during his lyfe
Wald never be weddit to ane wyfe.
And quhen he did declyne to age,
He faillit never of his courage.
Of ancient storyis for to tell,
Abone all uther he did precell,
Sa that everilk creature
To heir him speik thay tuke plesure.
Bot all his deidis honorabill,
For to descryve I am not abill.
Of everie man he was commendit,
And as he leivit, sa he endit,
Plesandlie till he micht indure,
Till dolent deith come to his dure,
And cruellie with his mortall dart,
He straik the squyer throw the hart.
His saull with joy angelicall,
Past to the hevin imperiall:
Thus at the Struther into Fyfe,
This nobill squyer loist his lyfe.
I pray to Christ for to convoy
All sic trew luiferis to his joy.
Say ye Amen, for cheritie:
Adew! Ye sall get na mair of me.

FINIS.
 


old-fashioned

ancestors
(see note)
take as a model
living; avoid

cast down
Although


Have
illustrious
valorous emperors

rule; realms
champions
boldly
valiantly; battle

squires’ valiant
warlike attire (i.e., armor); 
(see note)

wrote
loved
(see note)
(see note)
Providing that; (see note)
tell of
Whose valor

venture to write of

(see note)

[To] write of; 
(see note)
[He] whose; spend; love
disgrace
Who
As many a man that people read about
Whom; memorialize (pl.)

God save me
among the rest
be extinguished


I am sure
love
Fought; 
(see note)

cause
to state it plainly
adulteress
[he] did not dare
Except; owl in
was not the case
loved; other
lover


seduce

such love; 
(see note)




before him
nobility directly; 
(see note)
Who (pl.); reputation



shire of Fife
heir; 
(see note)
defended; many battles

displays of prowess
medium height; 
(see note)
Nimble; bold
Oppressed by hardship

Cheerful

attractive

always
(see note)
test
(see note)

sea
coast
had his host land
Carrickfergus on
saved; barn; cow-shed

wretched mourning
robbed
defiled
strong
wherever
priests and friars; 
(see note)
notice
pleasant garden
voice; sorrowful


Robbed; naked; 
(see note)
men of war (i.e., soldiers)
fierce
Dividing the booty
than


ravaged
virgin

chemise; 
(see note)
(see note)
gown
(see note)
enamelling
brooches
yellow taffeta; chemise
Striped; embroidered

white; 
(see note)

rest
Saint Fáelán; 
(see note)


sincerely
If; soldiers
things (i.e., clothes and other possessions)

plunder



sparks; 
(see note)
blows; violently; struck
danger

sudden spring; leapt
hit

teeth; cleave
with a curse
at close quarters
burnished sword

violently struck

shatter to pieces
dagger
catch

killed
collapsed forward

Because; armed (and armored)



grass
clothing
humbly


And took his leave of her without more delay
Then; drum

mournful

rescued; injury
took
If you will stay

fallen; into distress
heir


heartily

delighted

must

peace



love token
(see note)


sincerely
too young


clothe; clothes

take him as a lover
(see note)




boat

weighed their anchors

Brittany
(see note)
valiant


bold
rest


earned such a good name
make known
care





were in love with him
darling; 
(see note)
chamber; lamb; (see note)
champion
Rampaging

foremost

more generous
every fight; was victorious

tried and tested; 
(see note)
By; loved

Henry VIII
Calais; stationed
host

(see note)

each the other
Although
(see note)
many a staff

these tidings
go to see; fighting
chose; spearmen
foot soldiers
armed band
came
marshaled

attended to him
among; armed forces
spoke very arrogantly

Whose company would; leadership
Throughout

(see note)
spoke scornfully

badges of war; 
(see note)
had made


fight

at close quarters



Heard; had come
went to him


who dares to fight




Either
(see note)
found in

(see note)
You seem to be crazy

powerful

professional skill
frightened
contest with
stood; many a battle

child
enterprises

powerful


either
(see note)

quell
(see note)
tomorrow morning
(see note)
ten o’clock
overcome
armor
If; the same


thus; agreement
the next morning
just mocked him
Disdaining
homewards; army; did ride
told; fellow men
taken it upon himself
fight
trust; prove the fool
know
are thought to be
(see note)
on foot

I know full well

Tomorrow morning
(see note)
truth of the matter
taken it upon himself
at close quarters

Then hurriedly

truth

taken
since; 
(see note)
If I could get
trust
lying in the field
Although
fear

immediately

invited; choose
delighted

leapt upon; nimbly



took his leave

Lightheartedly; armor
except
leapt; powerful war-horse
immediately; directly; 
(see note)


velvet
skull-cap; hold
took
escort
fighting men

bore upon
(see note)
caparisoned
crimson satin
champion
(shrill) trumpet
field
mighty in arms; 
(see note)
riding





experience in warfare
had no fear

Before; tent

Something that; rehearse (i.e., say again)
sea

Which

bit; made me bleed


have never been so frightened; 
(see note)



prepare yourself; armor

honor in battle

Jovially

leapt; 
(see note)
caparisoned; splendidly
elegantly
embroidered; velvet
cross
(see note)
without doubt
Escorted by





warriors; many

who
battle ground

organized them so well
boundary; 
(see note)


organization; details

these
equipped; 
(see note)
strong spears; (see note)


May God reveal [who has] the just cause; 
(see note)


shattered into pieces
abreast
charge (on horseback)
since

rested



fiercely; each other

sparks
tough
each the other; struck

prostrate; on
ashamed
Indeed; disgraced

Unless
luck
leapt


nimbly
Leap; gallantly; 
(see note)

For a little while
offered

By that [time]

agree
have one encounter; 
(see note)
loudly

joust


took
gripped

ground (i.e., sharpened) steel
With which; pleased



warlike





(see note)

bad luck
swerved; run; reluctant; (see note)
furious
course



round (of jousting); in vain



leapt
fierce; bear
darted; leap
tournament-ground's
obedient
happy
Trusting


fiercely; each other


neither; opponent
burst into pieces
spear
struck
stroke



cuirass (breastplate); plate gloves
make no defense
point
armor
in that place


lightly


upon

encounter; sorely regret

that; made me
bore



agreement; 
(see note)
Whichever; lose

therefore
give to you

sincerely
in truth





pavilion
had him take refreshment






(see note)
embraced; (see note)
Sincerely


energetically; mounted
escorted
distressed
defeat


(see note)

until peace was agreed; 
(see note)
(see note)

fought

took his leave
Then



lying off the coast; 
(see note)

stayed

embellish his martial reputation
Brittany set out
eight-score (i.e., 160)
selected; brave

(see note)

Amiens
Louis XII
stationed; army





accord
(see note)



conducted themselves
envy
trouble


attacked
(see note)



(see note)


Quick
At that point


uproar

overcome
at their lodgings

If; before


fiercely
armed

crowd

a loud cry; fiercely
battered down


stood firm in battle
struck; heavy blows


seven ells; 
(see note)
hardily; struck
champion
struck one down
badly
did not get up again

In fright; fled
did not know where


much more
day’s performance


truth


military service




extravagant in his clothes
manly spirit

income
disdainful


Although



people

escort
grieve; 
(see note)

ship

artillery; guns
her (i.e., the ship); food
choose

anchorage
Until
in haste



Phoebus Apollo (i.e., the sun) displayed


platform up on mast
man-of-war (i.e., a fighting ship)



news
At that point; artillery
an attack
made holes; fighting
struck; gunwales

let fly; round (of gunfire)


low (in the water)
(see note)
landed

In front of

always hit her
hole
were beaten backwards
rose the smoke
sea
resound
know
fighting at sea
Then together ran
each; grappling hooks

opponent
violently

(see note)
harm
From the top platform; sharpened; 
(see note)
pierce many through the heart
tried his hardest

Inflicting violent blows on others
gunwales

Surrender immediately; 
(see note)
if you do not
rid
unflinchingly
traitorous taverner; 
(see note)
I’ll have you know

boldly
pushed through the crowd
leapt
hit; blow

Tumbling into a deathly faint

foul pirate
standing empty


(see note)
Although
caused them such distress
eager to leave



alternative
Either

Do not allow me to be slain
will be worth more
Than; times; 
(see note)

(see note)


desire
rest



made him stand




(see note)

remainder

physician






dying
cast


(i.e., 100 men)



overcome

Had caused them such great distress
into a frenzy




Within reach of my sword



(see note)

try; potent

Then
picked out


rest

imprisoned; 
(see note)


garrison
ransom; 
(see note)
news


fought
treated


joy
(see note)

(see note)
valley

decided to rest
each

delightful
(see note)
so that; more

gentle speech
fortunes
things went for him

wash
nothing else
news (stories)



describe

tedious; 
(see note)

rest
found; chamber; arranged
fine linen; table
choice
whisky; ale

fared

late supper


tables (a board game)

person

Whom; escort
Then

(see note)
(see note)
pierce; through
just lamented

Sighing; gape; groan
making his complaint

yesterday evening
captive; enslaved

grant that
in such torment

Before I had suffered such misfortune
servant
To one who cares nothing for me
stayed
heard
fearful; complaint
With many an unhappy gape and groan



(see note)

lover; 
(see note)


wholesome
slippers

Phoebus Apollo (i.e., the sun)
Gown
door; 
(see note)
before he was aware of it
pretending; chest



hearty

chamber
patterned silk
tresses hanging
breasts; firm

lily; flesh

legs; hose; 
(see note)

come what may; 
(see note)
advance
elegant; unlaced; 
(see note)
clasped


Unless; remedy

So you must relieve my suffering
took
floor
lock the door; 
(see note)

ruin; 
(see note)

(see note)



live as you wish
lovely
heir



Hurry to arrange things


last
servant

delay for
clasp tightly
each the other
belly to belly; embraced
gown; unlaced
(see note)
these lovers’
in no way separate

woodbine; 
(see note)
tucked

parted her legs

(see note)


said; 
(see note)

rose
pushed
love-token

As a sign
these two separate; 
(see note)

found; ambergris (see note)
unaware



these


hose and shoes
went

sold (i.e., Judas Iscariot); 
(see note)
cold
sweat

flow (collect)
legs

soft
have made; dinner



mass

many different

these lovers
lovely



lit. “bedroom sport”


hawking
spirited; riding

valiantly; i.e., joust
above
archery-targets; 
(see note)
At; pastime
cards; dice; board-games
wish
besieged

(see note)
(see note)

seized by force; 
(see note)
neither; cow
ravaged
was greatly alarmed

explained to him
laid waste

Dumbarton; (see note)

these tidings
Within
burned
very dearly paid for
stronghold
attire
armor



glove
bore on his helmet; 
(see note)



Than; die; 
(see note)
Unless
embraced
leave
rode
gained sight

amidst his men



(see note)


an oath

hardy
The whole truth


Intending; besiege
provisioned

Boldly
armed

(see note)
had no fear

Surrender
haughtily


Despite
bold and brave
broad arrows; 
(see note)


With guns, arrows and gunshot
made; suffer
collars assailed fiercely
dire encounter

each

Quickly; ladders
climbed swiftly
bees; hive
Although
bravely; got
foremost


capture and strike down; 
(see note)
pressed the attack
When


cordially; received

end; enmity
death
(see note)
let the rest go

Besieged

Strathearn

Received
lead

Although; chamber door


lovers

(see note)

Believing
mean
daughter; gave birth; 
(see note)
None found


Thirty; livery

(see note)

(see note)
publicly
And desiring only their hearts [in return]
lived
minstrelsy



Waiting for; 
(see note)

before; mismanaged



known
(see note)


though
lovers’ enemies

(see note)

Who felt malice towards this squire
in
these lovers; separate
marrying

Who; unrelated; 
(see note)





In; relief (cure)





would not assent
betray; ever
once


lawful

Set
out
downfall
believed; harm
treachery; expectation
leave; the landlord; 
(see note)
expenses

(see note)
He was one of only eight men in his band
fear
straight away

in haste
three score (i.e., 60 men)
Well equipped in warlike array



in order
By; not at all alarmed
band [of men]
God knows; fear

suggest; escape
(see note)
You are in no position to defend yourself
that (yonder)
(see note)
just one [person]

Although; trap
with

afraid

i.e., not one foot
And as soon as he had finished this speech
(see note)
eight; battle-formation
not take fright


If you don’t; body; 
(see note)
by force

(see note)


overcome



alternative
either



Then [he] sprang forward with a leap

violently; crowd

themselves
polished sword
Among his enemies he showed such valor
i.e., book
(see note)
whirled
That he cut a great circle in the crowd

waged war

harm

escaped not without
struck down or killed

struck; above; eyebrows
forward
Were it not that; 
(see note)


Struck; 
(see note)


band as fierce as bears
planted

powerful champion
hardy
those; sliced to pieces

reach; sword



(see note)
(see note)

(see note)
(see note)
know
(see note)

(see note)

Than; those
offer myself as witness
permission
agreement
fight only
Confident; 
(see note)

valiant battle; describe
always
wicked
astonishingly hardy

vexation
on the point of


since

cowards; disgraced

Than; escape; unslain




houghs; thighs; 
(see note)

shins


any fear
within his reach

drop; a faint
he was forced to


far away
butchers; blocks
relief
lying
many
Than; remained alive
these

lovely
grieving; such lamentation
repeat
overlong (tedious)
washed
Sighing

ruined

(see note)


tumbled
in a deadly faint
Then






(see note)

(see note)
(see note)
in his death throes

who; hardy

once

desire




(see note)

an instant
struck many; 
(see note)





prison



flew; furrows




villain prisoner
back; 
(see note)



gentle



sorrow and grief
lament

physicians
carried
lodge; lodging

physicians
without being asked
And exercised all [their] skills on him

tried

in
surgeon
innate ability
(see note)

knowledge
healed
effort
exercise; skills; poor
brought about

had no care

discuss


Than


leave
(see note)
these lovers
lasting pain
married

Although



(see note)
I am sure
(see note)
a tenth part
(see note)

distress
(see note)
leave



slowly

i.e., the regent
(see note)
Which caused

valiant



unresolved



Stirling bridge


Than; 
(see note)





(see note)
saying is true; honestly







With many awe-inspiring assaults
Were I to; describe
book
rectify this


elderly; 
(see note)
heard [an] account
sincerely

assiduously


With; delighted




running

marshal
accounts
courtier
practitioner

Sheriff-Depute; 
(see note)

poor

afflictions

learned the art
physicians
practice their art
fully versed

successful
poor

payment; 
(see note)
income
paid little heed
desired
So long as; preserved
every


(see note)

tart; flawn; (see note); fruit

spiced sweetened wine
sitting
(see note)

Which would take too long to describe
minstrelsy






He did surpass all others
every person


set down
By; praised
lived
as long as; go on
distressing; death; door


soul

(see note)

lead
such; lovers

Adieu (Fr. farewell)


 



Go To The Testament of the Nobill and Vailyeand Squyer Williame Meldrum of the Bynnis