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The Life of Saint Katherine: Book 1


1 Honorable on the battlefield, a peacemaker at home

2 Lines 374-75: If it be studied, there is nothing like / Dialectic for teaching one the difference between right and wrong

3 Lines 391-92: I know no more [geometry] than a cart-maker

4 No moss grew on her, I believe, on account of idleness

5 Once we bound [others]; now we must suffer bonds

6 Lines 554-55: I know this well from Athanasius' account of the foundation

7 Which belong to that family, more than nine or ten

8 Where he agrees [with the old chronicles], I follow him

9 The lineage of heathens does God no honor

10 Lines 893-95: [Without a king] there is no regulation of lords nor of justices: / They arrange the shires, sessions, and the assizes (courts) / Just as it pleases them. Self-interest is disguised as reason


53-54 Oute of the harde thorn brymbyl-tree / Growyth the fresch rose. "The rose springs from the brier" was a common expression at the time. It was often used to describe saints born of pagan parents. See B. J. Whiting, Proverbs, Sentences, and Proverbial Phrases from English Writings Mainly Before 1500 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1968), R206.

71 keye. Citing Capgrave's usage, the OED ("key," 5) reads,"a place which from the strategic advantages of its position gives its possessor control over the passage into or from a certain district, territory, inland sea, etc."

79-81 hir fredomys . . . grete repayre. Freedoms were the rights and privileges granted to a city. Capgrave is saying that Amalek prospered because it was a good place to conduct business.

100-05 Seynt Mark . . . for to beleve. Eusebius reports Mark's missionary work in Egypt in Book 2 of his Ecclesiastical History.

107-18 Rede Philo . . . I trow not he may. Philo (20 BC-AD 50) was a Jewish exegete who influenced the Alexandrine school of theology. In his De vita contemplativa (On the Contemplative Life), to which Capgrave is probably alluding, Philo describes a large community of contemplative men and women who settled outside Alexandria and who had some of the earmarks of Christian hermits. Eusebius claims these contemplatives were Mark's Christian converts (Ecclesiastical History 2.16-17) - a view that was widely accepted during the Middle Ages. Regardless of whether Philo's ascetics were Christian, Christian monasticism is generally held to have originated in Egypt, when, during the fourth century, men like Katherine's teacher Adrian retreated to the desert to devote themselves to God and wage war against demons through their asceticism. See the prototypical life of St. Anthony, composed by Katherine's putative biographer Athanasius.

127-33 on Pathenus . . . called Stromatum. Pantaenus is the first known head of what would become, under his successors Clement of Alexandria (author of the Stromateis, or Miscellaneous Studies) and Origen, an influential school of theology.

134-47 Thys same Alysaundre . . . mote thei spede. This passage explains why Katherine is known simply as Queen of Alexandria, though her realm encompasses many other cities and lands.

180 fothyr. According to the OED,"used for an enormous quantity, a 'cart-load' of money" (fother, 1c).

182-89 Zacharye and Elysabethe stode . . . in this degré. Capgrave is following the conventional practice of certifying Katherine's holiness by pointing out that her life conforms to familiar Biblical patterns. His allusion is to Luke 1:5-25, 57-59.

201 rose oute of thorne.See note to lines 1.53-54.

213-15 For of that penaunce . . . ful holy men. Christ's mother, Mary, was held to have escaped the normal agonies of childbirth because she was untainted by original sin.

221 Sarcynrye. By Capgrave's day, this and other terms referring to the Muslim faith had come to signify heathendom generally.

227-36 This chyld for to hylle . . . Thus is it kept. Capgrave's attention to the baby Katherine's nurture reflects a widespread interest in childhood during the fifteenth century, when guides on child rearing and stories about children proliferated. For a discussion of the fifteenth century's "fascination with childhood," see Barbara A. Hanawalt, "Narratives of a Nurturing Culture: Parents and Neighbors in Medieval England," in "Of Good and Ill Repute": Gender and Social Control in Medieval England (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), pp. 158-77 (quote on p. 161); and Seth Lerer, "Reading Like a Child: Advisory Aesthetics and Scribal Revision in the Canterbury Tales," in Chaucer and His Readers: Imagining the Author in Late-Medieval England (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), pp. 85-116. The contents of one of the MSS containing Capgrave's Life of Saint Katherine, British Library MS Arundel 168, evince a particular concern with the education of children. This manuscript includes an alphabet poem, a translation of Benedict Burgh's Distichs of Cato, and two other virgin martyr legends that emphasize the saint's relationship to her parents: William Paris' "Christine" and an anonymous verse life of St. Dorothy. Capgrave evinces his particular interest in nurture in his prose life of St. Augustine, which devotes considerable attention to Monica's troubles raising her unruly son.

246 ff. Thus provyd this princesse. Though more attention was being devoted to women's education in Capgrave's England, the rigorous liberal arts training described below would not have been available to actual women, who were barred from attending such institutions of higher learning as universities. For useful discussions of the education of women in late medieval England, see Nicholas Orme, Education and Society in Medieval and Renaissance England (London: Hambledon, 1989), pp. 153-75; and Caroline M. Barron, "The Education and Training of Girls in Fifteenth-Century London," in Courts, Counties, and the Capital in the Later Middle Ages (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1996), pp. 139-53. For a discussion of St. Katherine as a possible model for medieval English girls, see Lewis, "Model Girls?: Virgin-Martyrs and the Training of Young Women in Late Medieval England."

264 as I seyd ere. See Prol., line 144.

270-73 hir play . . . was hir wylle. The saint's aversion to entertainment is a ubiquitous hagiographical convention.

337-64 The kyng dyd make there for hir alone . . . in hir stody thoo. These lines explain why Katherine is so astounded when the hermit Adrian appears in her study in 3.401-06.

379 tawt. MS: tawter

393 astronomye."Astronomy" was in the Middle Ages more like what we would call astrology. The two disciplines were not distinguished in Capgrave's day.

402-27 All the grete clerkys . . . / . . . that there wore. This encounter foreshadows Katherine's debate with the fifty philosophers in Book 4. The pitting of a young woman's intelligence against the craft of clerks occurs also within romance tradition. Compare John Gower's "Tale of the Three Questions," Confessio Amantis 1.3067-3402 and the Tale of Apollonius of Tyre, 8.271-2008. See note to lines 633-35 below. For more on the broader tradition of "disputing women," see Helen Solterer, The Master and Minerva: Disputing Women in French Medieval Culture (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995).

441-42 He is logged there with lordys of his kyne / Whech deyd withouten feyth. Medieval theologians generally took a dim view of the fate of a pagan like Costus, who, though a good man, lived after the birth of Christ and, hence, could at least in theory have become a Christian. Gordon Whatley provides a useful survey of medieval views of righteous pagans in "Heathens and Saints: St. Erkenwald in its Legendary Context," Speculum 61 (1986), 330-63.

494 Famagost. Capgrave is translating the city's name as"The fame of Costus," where"Costus" is written with a G instead of a C.

518 no man wyst why. Meliades may be trying to pre-empt an organized opposition to her daughter's ascension. To judge from the laments following Costus' death, many citizens of the realm cannot imagine Katherine as their new monarch (1.454-57).

526 ff. for the kynrode of hir. Technically speaking, the antecedent of "hir" is "the qween" (line 512), Katherine's mother. Hence, it is tempting to see in Capgrave's attention to Meliades's genealogy the same deliberate "focus on women as progenitors of the sacred" that is evident in fifteenth-century representations of the Holy Kinship. See Pamela Sheingorn, "Appropriating the Holy Kinship: Gender and Family History," in Interpreting Cultural Symbols: Saint Anne in Late Medieval Society, ed. Kathleen Ashley and Pamela Sheingorn (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1990), pp. 169-98 (quote on p. 173). Yet Capgrave's subsequent account of "the kynrode of hir" ends with Costus (line 681)! This inconsistency raises a number of questions: Did Capgrave intend "hir" to mean Katherine all along? Did he merely forget that he had originally intended to rehearse Meliades's genealogy? Does his inconsistency register the same anxieties about issues of family and gender that Sheingorn finds in representations of the Holy Kinship?

619-21 Antiochus . . . Jewes yet him banne. Antiochus' atrocities and ultimate punishment are recorded in 2 Maccabees 4.7-10.9.

633-35 In Appollony of Tyre ye may rede the storye . . . problemes evyn. To avoid losing his daughter/lover, Seleucus devised a riddle for prospective suitors. The man who solved it would win the daughter; those who failed to solve it were executed. For a popular Middle English version of the romance, see Book 8 of Gower's Confessio Amantis.

663 Fortune. See note to lines 1.868-75.

686-93 In this reknyng . . . ordre and degré. A different version of Katherine's genealogy is given in the popular prose Lyf of Seynt Katerine, which shows Katherine's relation through her father to the emperors of Rome. See The Life and Martyrdom of St. Katherine of Alexandria, ed. Henry Hucks Gibbs (London: Nichols, 1884), or "The Life of St. Katherine," trans. Winstead, in Chaste Passions.

701-04 I answere hereto as do Seynt Jerome . . . that was His wylle. See Jerome's Commentary on Matthew (under Matthew 1:1-17).

734 and in halle. Not in MS.

755 Save summe spoke of love. Earthly love is not to anyone's"behove" (line 756) in a saint's legend.

763 puttyng at the ston. A competition to see who could throw a given stone the farthest. Compare"putting the shot" in modern track and field competitions.

788 wit. MS: wyght.

804-12 So was Cornelius . . . thus seye these clerkys. The story of Cornelius is told in Acts 10.

839-40 He may . . . / Make goddes of men. Katherine explains this point in her debate with the philosophers. See 4.2025-32 and my note to line 2032.

868-75 thu blynd Fortune . . . art thou unstable. Fortune was conventionally represented as a lady turning a great wheel set with people (kings, bishops, nobles, etc.), some happily ascending, others losing their crowns as they tumble down. Following Book 2 of Boethius' influential Consolation of Philosophy (AD 524), Christian moralists used Lady Fortune and her wheel to reflect upon the inevitable transience of all earthly pleasures. For a discussion of this theme in fifteenth-century England, see Rosemary Horrox, Introduction, Fifteenth-Century Attitudes, pp. 6-10.

901 To sette the standard the wengys on the syde. A standard is a pole used to display a military emblem. In this case, the sculpted figure of a bird is presumably mounted on the standard and turned so that the enemy can easily see its wings spread. A loose translation would be"And flaunt your battle emblem in the enemy's face."

931-50 that ye wyll have mercye . . . hertys hayle! It might seem that the lords are addressing Meliades in language more appropriate to a courtly lady than to a queen mother. However, rhetoric used in letters addressed to social superiors is suffused with the language of love, as Diane Watt notes in "'No Writing for Writing's Sake': The Language of Service and Household Rhetoric in the Letters of the Paston Women," in Dear Sister: Medieval Women and the Epistolary Genre, ed. Karen Cherewatuk and Ulrike Wiethaus (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993), pp. 126-29.

976-77 To lyve alone in stody, it was nevyr seyn / That ony lady ony tyme dyd so. Though I know of no English examples, a number of Italian women chose to forgo marriage in favor of a life devoted to scholarship. See Margaret L. King, "Book-Lined Cells: Women and Humanism in the Early Italian Renaissance," Beyond Their Sex: Learned Women of the European Past, ed. Patricia H. Labalme (New York: New York University Press, 1980), pp. 66-90. Many medieval Englishwomen would, however, have appreciated Katherine's reluctance to give up the freedom that a single woman enjoyed. Records from the 1377 poll tax indicate that at least 30% of adult women in England had never been married. See Maryanne Kowaleski, "Singlewomen in Medieval and Early Modern Europe: The Demographic Perspective," in Singlewomen in the European Past, 1250-1800, ed. Judith M. Bennett and Amy M. Froide (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999), p. 46. Moreover, evidence suggests that when working conditions were good for women, they delayed marriage. See P. J. P. Goldberg, Women, Work, and Life Cycle in a Medieval Economy: Women in York and Yorkshire, c. 1300-1520 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), pp. 360-61.

















































































































































































































Chapter 1

Sumetyme there was a grete kyng in Grees,
Of Surré and Cypre bothe lord and syre,
As clerkes tel us in elde storyes.
All thyng was rewlyd at his desyre,
He governed full sadly that ilk empire:
Costus men called this kyng thoo be name.
A losyd lorde was he and of ful grete fame,

A lombe to the meke, a leoun to the prowde,
Thus was he noted, if ye lyst to lere.
He was so wel i-know bothe styll and lowde,
All dede him homage bothe fer and nere:
Kyng, duke, erle, baron, and bachilere,
For her behove to his presens soute
And to his help eke whan hem nedyd oute.

Many yldes longed thoo onto his grete lande
And alle were thei buxum at his request.
The grete see holy had he in his hande
And all the havenes both est and west -
He welded hem alle ryth as him lest.
Were thei marchauntis, were thei marineris,
Alle were thei than to him as omageris.

This kyng in pees regned many yeres,
And because he was fayre and strong of bones
He was wele beloved of all his omageres;
A noble man, thei sayde, he was for the nones,
Gracious in feld, peisible in wones, 1
Fre of his speche, large of his expens,
Ful gladly with peynes wold he dispens.

Was no lorde besyde that him wold do wrake
For what man that dede he shuld it sone wayle
Whan that he gan venjaunce to take -
Preyer as than wold not avayle.
To many a kyngdom made he asayle
And many a castell beet he ryth down
Whan thei to his lawes wold not be bown.

A goode man was he, this is the grounde:
Meke as a mayde, manful at nede,
Stable and stedfast evyrmore i-founde;
Strong man of hand, douty man of dede,
Helper of hem that to him hade nede;
Wrong thinges tho wroute he nevere,
Petous of spiryt and mercyful was he evere.

Pees wold he put debate evyr above;
That vertu cleymyd he only to himselve.
Alle his noble werkys onto pees and love
Were mad as mete as ex onto helve.
Among all the lordes that men dyd thoo delve
He was most worthy and eke most wys.
Synne hated he hertly, harlatrye and vyis.

Ful grete pyté onto oure thowt it is
That swech a trew man schuld hethen be,
But rith thus wrote thei that were ful wys:
Oute of the harde thorn brymbyl-tree
Growyth the fresch rose, as men may see;
So sprong oure Lady oute of the Jewys
And Kateryne of hethen, this tale ful trew is.

Chapter 2

Too cytes had this kyng among all othere
Largest and grettest above hem alle:
The on cost of gold ful many a fothere
Or he had made it with toure and with walle;
The other was made, as bokes sey alle,
A full longe tyme er he was bore,
In whech all kynges thoo crowned wore.

The fyrst hyth Amaleck; in Cypre it stant.
The other hyth Alysaunder; in Egypt it is.
The same lond of Cypre nothyng doth want,
But is ful of plenté and full of blys,
Of gold, sylvyr, frute, and men, iwys;
A grete lond, closyd with the see abowte,
On the northwest syde of Surré, it is no doute.

Therfore this kyng, ryght as for a keye
Of all his kyngdame, set his town there;
Who come to Surré mote come that weye.
There may no shypp this cours forbere,
Were it in pees or ellis in were.
It had a havene ful huge and ful grete,
And castelle strong with turrettis feete,

Open onto marchauntis, to alle that wille come.
Because hir fredomys were large and fayre,
Both oute of hethnes and of Cristyndome,
It was a place of ful grete repayre.
Undir him there the kyng made a mayere
To kepe his lawes; thei shuld not fayle
Too stuf it with men and eke with vytayle.

Thus myght this lord from Alisaunder ryde
(In schyppes I mene) to this grete cité,
And evyr on his owe lordchippe abyde;
For on alle cuntres principale lorde was he,
Were it of felde, of town, or of see,
Whech stode betwyx the grete cytes too.
All was it do there as he bad it doo.

The other cyté, Alysaundre be name,
On the bordyre of Egypt it stant ful fayre;
A gret place, a large, and of hye fame.
Thei of Egypt mote nedys repayre
Onto this cyté, thorow wey and thorow wayre,
If thei to Affryk or to Cartage goo;
And thei of Affryk the same mote alsoo,

If thei in Egypte wyll bye or selle.
Thedyr was Seynt Mark the evangelyste
Sent be Seynt Petyr there for to dwelle,
To preche hem the gospell of oure lord Cryste.
He prechyd so there that hem alle twyst
Fro all her maumentrye and fals beleve;
He mad hem in Cryst for to beleve.

He that wyll know this more plat and pleyn,
Rede Philo, in his book whech he dyd calle
De vita theorica. There schall he seyn
That thorowoute the cyté, in towre and in walle,
It was thoo fulfyllyd with hermytes alle,
Monkys and prestys and swech holy men,
Here thirty, here twenty, here nyne, here ten.

The cuntré all abowte was full of these men,
And ful of martires, ful of confessoures,
Of maydenes, wydowys, and chast women:
Who coude noumbyr all the fayre floures
That growe in the mede aftyr swete schowres,
Than myght he noumbyr hem, I trow not he may.
There were thei putte in ful scharp asay,

These vessells of gold, martires I mene,
With fyre and with yryn i-slayn and i-brent,
In furnes of sorowe were thei mad clene;
Was non that scaped but or that he went
He schuld be dede or turn his entent.
There was the fyrst exercyse of dyvyn scole,
Whech is a scyens that longith to noo fole,

For on Pathenus, as seyth oure book,
Full many a yere red there with besy entent,
And aftyr him Clement the scole up toke;
Orygene was the thirde aftyr that Clement
(Not Clement of Rome but another that us lent
Many a good coment and many a holy exhortacioun,
Most specyali in that book whech is called Stromatum).

Thys same Alysaundre whech I spak of now
Was large, ryche, ful of puple eke,
For that fame every man thedyr drow.
Every knyght and marchaunt gune it than seke;
Thei thowt it was enow, whan thei schuld speke,
A kyng to be lorde ovyr thys alone,
Thow he had not ellys longyng to his trone.

Eke for the grete welth that was in that wonis,
Thei called her kyng none other name:
"Kyng of Alysaundyr," thei seyd, "alone he is.
He is a lord; he is worthy swech fame.
Mote every tunge be doum and every kné lame
That oure noble lord neyther love ne drede;
And thei that do it, well mote thei spede."

Too hundred and fourty yere aftyr Crystys byrth
Was even and no more to these kynges dayes.
He levyth thus in joye and in mekyll myrth,
And honoured swech goddes as longed to his layes.
Or he wan his land he had scharp asayes,
But to othir thing we wyl go now pleyn
To telle forth oure tale as the cronycles seyn.

Chapter 3

Almyty God that althing makyth growe
Doth many more merveyles than we can cast,
For whosoevyr men heryn or ellis sowe,
It is sumtyme fyrst we wene shuld be last.
Oure witte onto His witte is but a gnast;
It mote nede be thus whan He wil have it so -
All His wyll only mote nede be do.

Whan thyng is ferthest from oure opynyon,
Than werkyth He His wondres ryth at his wyll.
Beholde now the spede and the savacyon
Of the chyldryn of Israel; God wold hem not spylle
But to kepe hem in daunger and miserye stille,
In whech thei were falle only for synne.
He halpe hem owte whan that thei cowde blynne;

If He had sonere holp hem, thei myth a went
It had not be Goddes myght but her owne dede.
Therfor chaunged He all her entent:
He wold not help hem tyl that thei had nede.
Whan thei were in dyspeyre and myght noght spede,
Than sent He His help and His socoure.
Thus doth oure Lord; thus doth oure Savyoure.

Ryght in this wyse wrowt oure Lorde here:
He wold send a chyld ful onlych to other
To these elde folk whech lyved all in dwere
To hafe any chyld, most specyaly the modyr.
The kyng had levere than of gold a fothyr
He myght be sekyr of wych a new chaunce.
Zacharye and Elysabethe stode in this traunce.

So dede Abraham with Sarra, his wyff;
Sche conceyvyd not tyll sche was in age.
Joachym and Anne had the same lyff -
Maryes forth-bryngers - and the same wage.
God can ful well make of swech a rage
A ful fayre floode; blessed mote He be.
So Kateryne is not alone in this degré,

For God to Himselfe this mayden had i-chose
As for His owyn spouse and for His wyffe dere.
Of swech speke all Crysten, as I suppose,
"God send us part of hir good prayere!
Of all save on sche is Him most nere;
Sche may, and sche can, and sche wyll alsoo
Pray to oure Lord that we may cume Him too."

Chapter 4

Whan Godd, oure Lord, wold the seson schuld be
That this fayre lady to lyth schuld be born,
He ordeynd and sett it in swech a degré
That of too folkes whech lustes had lorne
Schuld this mayde spryng, as rose oute of thorne.
This world wondred that this thing myght be soo,
How so elde a lady with chyld schuld now goo.

Many a man and woman at this thyng low.
Summe of hem sayd, "It is but a lye.
The kyng is ful febyll, the qween ful eld now.
Schal sche now grone? Schal sche now crye?
Schal sche in this age in chyldebede lye?
This thyng is not lykly!" Thus seyd thei alle,
Ladyes in the chaumbyr and lordys in the halle.

But the tyme is come: Sche begynnyth to grone,
Cryeth, and wayleth, as do alle women,
For of that penaunce was Mary alone
Excused, and no moo, thus oure bokes ken,
Whech that were writyn of ful holy men.
Kateryne thei named that fayre mayd yinge.
Hir fader men called Costus the kyng.

Hir moder, thei seyd, sche hyght Meliades;
The kynges dowter sche was of Ermenye.
Of bewté sche had prys in every prees
Thorowowte the londe of alle Sarcynrye.
Me lyst not in hir preysyng lengere to tarye:
Sche was full fayre and full goode eke;
It is schewyd in hir dowter, that men now seke

To be her help in myschefe and in nede.
But whan thre dayes were pased and i-gon,
This chyld for to hylle, to lulle, and to lede
Too worthy ladyes were ordeynd anon.
And not only thei to travayle there alone,
But of other women a ful grete rowte,
Ryght for this cause: to bere it abowte,

To kepe it, to wasche it, and for to clothe;
To lyft it, to lull it, and to fede it eke;
To bathe it, to wyp it, and to rokke it bothe.
Thei had her labour newly be the weke;
Thus is it kept, it schuld not be seke.
The kyng had of it a comfort ful hye;
The qwen coude not ther-fro kepe now her hye.

Thus was it norched, this nobyl goodly chylde,
This gracious lady, tyll sche cowde goo.
Sche was fro hir byrth bothe meke and mylde.
Mercy fro the tetys grew with hir alsoo
And lested with hir all hir lyffe ther-too.
Sche was ful sone plesyd whan sche made mone;
No wondyr it is: thei hafe but hir alone.

Chapter 5

Thus provyd this princesse evyre more and more.
Sche was set to book and began to lere
All the letteres that were leyd hir before,
For of all the scoleris that are now or were
Sche is hem above; for neyther love ne feere
Mad hir to stynt whan sche began to ken
The lettyres and the wordys that sche spelled then.

Sche had maystyres fro ferre that were full wyse
To teche hir of rethoryk and gramere the scole;
The cases, the noumbres, and swych manere gyse;
The modes, the verbes, wech long to no fole.
Sche lerned hem swetly, withowte any dole,
Bothe the fygures and the consequence,
The declynacyons, the persones, the modes, the tens.

Among all othir, a wyse man there was
And ful sad therto; he was hir chauncelere.
Men called him be name Mayster Athanas.
He was survyoure to all that there were,
And, as I seyd ere, he payed her hyere.
He was an hye clerk and a sovereyne.
All the seven artes coude he ful pleyne,

And ovyre this lady was his most cure
That sche schuld be occupyed all the long day
In doctrine and stodye, save in mesure:
Sumtyme among had sche hir play;
Sumtyme to hir mayster wold sche sey nay -
Whan he bad hir play, sche wold sit stylle.
To stody and goodenes inclined was hir wylle.

Sche lerned the Greke, sche lernyd the Latyn tunge.
Sche lerned of nature the pryvy weys alle
That ony philosophyre be his doctrine had runge.
Sche knew the effectis as thei schuld falle
Of all the bodyes whech we the planetes calle.
This was thorow besynes of Athanas the clerk,
Whech tended onto hir and set hir thus on werk.

God of His grace, as seyth the story,
Agens alle heretykys that reygned thoo there
Wold all His conquest and His victory
Schuld be arered only be hir.
Therfor lern sore, thou yong Goddys scolere:
Thu schall ovyrcome heresye and blaspheme
Thorowowte all Grek, thorowowte all thi reme.

Ryght as be twelve ydyotes, seynt Austyn seith
(He meneth the Aposteles, for thei not lerned were),
Thorowowte the word was sowyn oure feyth
That every man may know and every man lere,
Godd wold not wynn us with wysdam ne fere
But with holy boystysnesse, if I schuld sey soo.
Ryght thus, as me thinkyth, in this caas hath He doo,

For whan that His chyrch was at gret neede
He ordeynd this lady for to geve batayle
Ageyn all the word; thei schall hir not ovyre lede,
Ne alle her argumentis schal not avayle.
Sche schal so be lerned that all her asayle
Schall fayl and falle bothe cunnyng and bost.
Sche schall be myty with strength of Goost.

Chapter 6

Hir fader, that sche schuld lern these artes alle,
This nobyll lady, his owyn douter dere,
Ded mak a paleyse large and ryalle
In whech he wold that sche schuld lere.
Bothe knytes and clerkes, all dwelt thei there
Whech were ordeynd to hir owyn servyse.
Now to make hir rest, now for to make hir ryse,

And eke new norture to tell hir and to teche,
Many maysteres therfore thethyr were fett.
As fer as her cunnyng myght strech and reche,
Thei lerned this lady withowte any lett.
Alle her wyttys were only on hir sett.
Ye may well suppose in youre owne dome,
Evyr as sche grew, the grettere mayster come.

Her stodyes there full craftily were i-pyght
With deskys and chayeres and mech othir gere,
Arayed on the best wyse, and glased full bryght.
Every faculté be himselve, for thei of gramere were
Sett on the west syde, and eke thei that lere
Astronomye on the est, ryght for thei schuld loke
Sumtyme on the hevyn, sumtyme on her boke.

All the other artes betwyx hem stode arowe,
Ryght aftyr her age and aftyr her dygnyté.
Every man that cam there myght well i-knowe
Whech was worthyere and hyer of degré.
Hir fadyr the kyng seldom wold hir se:
Onto these clerkes he hath hir thus take
As thow he had hir only now newly forsake;

For lettyng of hir lernyng dyd he than soo.
Sche wex fast in body and lerned eke sore.
Whan o mayster was goo, anothir cam hir too.
Thus chaungyng of maystirys and eke of lore
Had this noble mayde. Sche lerned mych the more.
Ye may wete nature lovyth variaunce:
Sumtyme men stody; sumtyme thei daunce.

The kyng dyd make there for hir alone
A paleyse wallyd ryght on the sowth syde,
Open to the sune there was hir trone -
There is no swych now in this worde wyde.
It was made for Kateryne there to abyde
Whan sche wold stody be hirselve sole.
In the grete garden was most hir scole.

It was fer awey fro every manere wyght.
It was made and ordeynd at hir owyn devyse.
There wold sche ly sumtyme, stody and wryght.
It was sett full of trees, and that in straunge wyse.
There wold sche sytte, and there wold sche rise;
There was hir walkyng and all hir dysporte.
Solitary lyf to stodyers is comfort.

Sche bare the key of this gardeyn - there had it no moo.
Whan sche went in, sche schett it full fast.
It was speryd ful treuly went sche to or froo,
For of many thynges was sche sore agast
But most of inquietude. Stody may not last
With werdly besynesse, ne with his cure:
The olde wyse sey thus, I yow ensure.

The walles and the toures were made nye so hye,
Ful covertly with arches and sotelly i-cast;
There myght not cume in but foule that doth flye.
The gatis, as I seyd, were schett full fast
And evyr more hirselve wold be the last.
The key eke sche bare, for sche wolde soo.
Thus lyved this lady in hir stody thoo.

Chapter 7

Sche lerned than the liberall artes seven.
Gramere is the fyrst and the most lyth;
He tellyth the weye full fayre and full even,
How men schall speke, and how thei schall wryte.
Retoryk, the secunde, is sett in this plyte:
He doth ny the same, save that he arayeth
His maters with colourys and with termes dysplayeth.

The thyrde sciens calle thei dialetyk:
He lerneth men within a lythyll throwe;
If he be stodied there is non to him lyke
The trewth fro the falshed that techeth for to know.2
Aftyr him than folowyth ryght be rowe
Arsmetryk, in whech the cunnyng so stant
Nowmbres schall thu know, thu schall not want.

Thei tawt hir also the scyens of musyk;
Ful wel grownded was sche in this melodye.
Sche had a maystir - there was none him lyke -
He departyd this scyens in thre, withouten lye:
Into metyr, to ryme, and to armonye
(Armonye is in voyse, in smytyng or wynde;
Symphonye and euphonye arn of his kynde).

In geometrye was this lady lernyd also,
In Euclidis bokys with his portraturys.
That is a sciens mech stody longeth ther-too,
For to know the letterys and the figures.
If I speke therof I schal make forfetures
Ageyn this sciens - I can not of that arte
But swech as he can that makyth a carte!3

In astronomye this lady eke so hye steye
Sche know the strenght and the stondyng stylle
Of alle the planetis that regnen upon hey,
Whech are of goode wyll and whech are of ille,
Whech wyll help a mater and whech will it spille,
And these she lernyd both more and lesse.
Sche mowled not, I trow, in no ydylnes.4

Thus for hir lernyng had sche swech fame
That hir fader dede gader thorowoute the land
All the grete clerkys that were of any name
Ryth to this entent, as I undirstande:
To wete yf his doutir dare take it unhand
To be apposyd of so many wyse men.
Thei were gadred in that place thre hundred and ten:

Eche of hem schall now do all his myght
To schew his cunnyng; if any straunge thyng
Hath he lernyd his lyve, he wyll now ful ryght
Uttyr hit, for his name therby schall spryng.
But there was ryght nowt but Kateryn the yyng
Undyrstod all thyng and answerd ther-too;
Her problemes all sche hath sone ondoo.

"O good Godd," seyd these clerkes thane,
"This mayd hath lerned more thyng in hir lyve
Than we supposyd, for more than we sche can.
We wondyr how sche may oure argumentis dryve
For hir conclusyoun now; in yerys fyve
Cune we not lerne that sche doth in one."
Thus seyd these wysmen be row everychon.

Thei tok than her leve at the kyng alle;
Home to her cuntré, certeyn, will thei goo.
"This mayd, youre doghtyr, lord," thei seyd, "sche schall
Be a wondyr woman, and sche may leve ther-too.
Of us nedyth sche noght; we hafe not here to doo.
Sche can that we can, and therto mech more."
Thus seyd thei, certeyn, the wyse that there wore.

Thys noble kyng hath reward hem full weele,
Gove hem grete gyftys and grete liberté -
Lordes dede so thanne; clerkes had every deel,
All that thei spent, of the liberalyté
And of the bountyfnesse of swech lordes fre.
Thus are thei rewardyd and home everychoone,
And Kateryne in stody is left thus alone.

Chapter 8

Whan all was welle and sekyr, as sche wende,
Than cam deth to hows and dyd his duté.
Of all hir joye he made sone an ende,
For he hath take awey hir owyn fadyr fre
And owte of this world hath ledd him, where he
Is in swech place as longyth onto him.
He is logged there with lordys of his kyne

Whech deyd withouten feyth, withowt Crystendome;
Kateryne is swech on, yet sche schall not be long.
Owte of all Grece the grete lordes come:
But thei had do soo, thei had do grete wrong.
All her grete worchep oonly dyd honge
Upon the noble kyng; he lyght there now ded.
Thei closyd him in clothe and aftyrward in lede.

Thei led him to the temple with solemnité
(If wepyng and waylyng schuld be called soo).
There was noon othir noyse than in that cité
But "Welaway! Alas, what schul we doo?
Oure lord is now gone - we gete him no moo.
Who schall bere the crown now he is deed?
He left us non eyre for to be oure heed

"But a yong mayde. What schal sche doo?
Sche is but a woman! Yet had sche weddyd be
Or tyme that hir fadyr went thus us froo
It had be more sekyrnesse and more felicyté.
There is no more to sey, but sekyrly we
Are likely to be subject onto othir londys.
We bounde sumtyme; now mote we suffyr bondys."5

The noble qween eke, what sorow that sche made
It is pyté to here, to telle, and to rede.
There cowde no solace hir hert that tyme glade;
The teeres fell down evyr as sche yede.
The yung lady Kateryne hath chaunged hir wede,
And hir coloure eke is now full pale.
What schuld I of her sorow make lengere tale?

The kyng was leyd in a toumbe made of golde and stones
Ful ryaly, ye may wete, for he was her kyng,
Anoynted eke with baume, that neythir flesch ne bones
Schuld rote ne stynke - swech was the beryyng
In that tyme to lordes - and mych other thyng
Was seyd and do, whech nedyth not to rehers,
For happyly summe folk myght than be the wers

To here swech maumentrye and swych maner rytes.
The lordes abode there styll in that same place,
Both dukys and erlys, bischoppys and knytes,
Thyrty dayes evyn, for so usage was.
The dayes rone fast and begune to pace.
The lordes that there were, thei seyd that her kyng
Mote hafe a memoryall for any maner thyng,

And that of swech lestyng whech schuld not fayle.
Thus seyd thei all ryght with oon entent.
Peyntyng and wrytyng and graving in entayle,
It wyll wanyse and wast, roten and be brent.
Therfore to this ende are thei all consent:
The grete cyté whech her lord dyd make
Schall chaunge now his name for her lordes sake.

It schall no lengere hyght thus, the gret Amaleck.
His name wyll thei turn thorowoute all the cost.
Whosoevyr thedyr come, with cart or with sek,
Thei mote called it now the citee Famagost.
Thus mad thei crye than thorowoute al the hoost
That all men of Grece mote have it in mowth,
Dwelle he est or west, dwelle he north or sowthe.

And this is her cause: "For that cyté he made.
In the same dwelt he most," thus seyd thei alle,
"In this cyté mych myrth and mych joye he had;
In this cyté to deth eke he down dede falle.
For these same causes his name bere it schalle.
Evyr whyll it on grounde stant, it schall nevyr be lost,
But evyr be in knowlech the cyté of Famagost."

Thus it is called now and evermore schall be,
With a G sett there the C schuld stande:
The grete noble Famagost that stant on the see.
Thus it is named thorowout every lande,
There walkyth many a foote, and werkyth many hande.
Thus schal the name of wordy men sprede,
And schrewes shul sterve nameles, swech is her mede.

Chapter 9

The qween sett a parlement at hir owe coste
Att Alisaundre the Grete, to whech sche wolde
Every lorde that held of hir husbonde Coste
To this parlement nedis goo or ryde shold;
But he come wylfully, he may be ful bold,
He schal be compelled. Sche sent ferre and nye
For alle the lordis, and no man wyst why.

But why that sche sette the parlement in that place
O cause there was, for in that same cité
Alle kynges of that lond, as usage was,
Hadd receyved the crowne wyth solemnyté.
And for a costom long hold may nott brokyn be
But yf it turbel meny men, therfore she held it there.
Many lord and lady att that parlement were.

Anothir cause there was: for the kynrode of hir
Had founded this cité and refounded eke,
Be whom and be whos dayes ye shal sone here
If ye wyl be stylle and no man now speke
But I myselve. Ye schal not nede to seke
Mo cronycles or storyes; ye schal lere of me
Alle the lyne and the lordes aftyr her degré.

Ther was a lord sumtyme that the soudon was
Of Surré and of Egipt: Babel was his name.
He beldyd Alysaundre in that same place:
He called it Babilon, in haunsyng of his fame,
That it schuld not falle ne nevyr be lame.
This was his wyll; and aftyr many a day
It was called Babilon, sothly for to say,

Not Babilon alone, but Babilon the lasse,
For differens of the other that stant in the est.
Who wyll owte Egypt into Affryk passe,
Goo or ryde wheydir he wyll, this wey is the best:
This was anothyr cause why this gret fest
Was hold in that place, for hir ryall kyn
Oute of this Babell cam, bothe the more and the myn;

The third cause was this, as seyth Athanas -
Grettest of hem alle, as semyth onto me -
This same cyté in the londe of Egipt was,
In whech there reygned another kyng than he,
So was he called than for diversyté
Kyng of Alysaundyr alone, ryght for differens
Of the kyng of Egypt, this is the sentens.

Thys wote I well of Athanases resoun
Whech that he makyth of the fundacyoun6
Of this same Alysaundyr, whech oft with tresoun
Was nye disceyvyd of many straunge nacyoun.
But now wyll we leve all that declaracyoun
And tell forthe of Babel and of othir men
Whech long to the kynrod, mo than nyne or ten.7

Chapter 10

Thys same Babell had a sone aftyr him;
Madagdalus he hyght. He was lord alsoo
Of this Babilon many yere. And forth the same kyn
Reygned in that same place mo than on or too,
For his son hyght Antiochus, the story seyth soo
(Not Antiochus the grete, of whech spekyth Machabe,
But another before, as ye schall sone se).

Thys Antiochus had a son men cleped Gorgalus.
A worthi man he was, of Surré lord and syre.
He begate a sone men clepyd Antiochus,
And aftyr Antiochus, reygned in that empyre
His sone Seleucus. He sett ryght in a mire
The cyté men clepe Seleuce for his owyn fame,
And Antyoche he beldyd in his faderes name.

This is the fyrst lyne of this ych Gorgalus,
For we mote turn ageyn, if we truly telle.
This same Gorgale yongere son hyght Mardemius;
A manly man he was and of hert felle.
Gret Alysaundyr sprong of him as strem owt of welle,
For unto this Mardemy wedded was this fayre
Meliore, the noble mayde of Macedonye the ayre,

And of this Mardemye and Meliore the mayde
Cam Kyng Phylyppe, fadyr to Alysaunder the Grete.
Thus went the secund lyne, as oure auctour sayde.
Oute of Gorgales yong son the fyrst have we lete
But for a lytyll whyle, for we wyll now trete
Of the woundres that this Alysaundyr sowte in his lyffe -
All his labure yet in every mouth is ryffe.

He conquered the kyng of Pers whych Dary hyght;
He toke Arabe and Fenice, and eke his owyn cosyne,
Antiochus Gorgalys sone, he ovyrcame be myght.
He wan this Babylon from him with gune and engyne;
There cessed the name of Babylon and forevyr gan lyne,
For he chaungyd it to his, and thus he called it than
Alysaundyr aftyr him because he it wanne.

Ten cytes mad this lord even oute of the grounde.
All ten thei hafe his name, Alysaundyr thei hyght.
Too cytes he chaunged and kept hem hole and sounde:
Alysaundyr he wolde thei schulde hyght be ryght.
In twelve yere he wan this worlde with ful grete myght.
Whan he schuld dey, he partyd his londe on twelve
Whech he had governed alone sumtyme himself.

To his lordes gave he his londes for to holde.
Surry and Alysaundyr, Fenice and Palestyne,
That gafe he to Seleucus, myghty man and bolde.
He was to this Alisaundyr of kyn ryght cosyne
Of Gorgalus bloode, as I seyde, of the fyrst lyne
At whech I than left and now begynne ageyne.
Alle thing may not be seyd at ones, as clerkis seyne.

Chapter 11

Too and thirty yere reigned Seleucus there.
He had an eyre aftyr him, kyng of that place,
A noble man thei called Antiochus Sothere.
Twenty wyntyr evene among hem he was,
And aftyr had the crown, the sceptyr, and the mace
His son, whech thei calle Antiochus Theos.
He reygned fiftene yere and aftyr him than roos

A man thei call be name Seleucus Galericus.
There reygned he twenty wynter, and than Selecus Garanne
Thre yere bare the crown, and efte Antiochus
Whech is called the Grete. He reygned thanne
Sex and thirty wynter. Jewes yet him banne
For the sorow that he dede onto her lond and hem
Whan he robbed the temple at Jherusalem.

The noble book of Machabe wryghtyth his dedys,
His cruelnesse, his ire, and his treson, eke
His feyned repentauns. Therfore his mede is
Sorow for synne, for whan he was seke
He askyd mercy but not worth a leke.
He left a sone nye of that same plyte;
Seleucus Philophator men seyn that he hyght.

He synnyd be his doghtyr ful onkyndely,
Therfore was he brent with the bryght levene.
In Appollony of Tyre ye may rede the storye,
How many lordes were dede be sex and be sevyn
For thei coude not gesse his problemes evyn.
He reygned there eleven yere, withowten any lees.
His son aftyr him hyght Antiochus Epiphanes.

His yeres were eleven and his son hyght thus,
Antiochus Eupatere. He leved yeres too,
And aftyr him sekyrly reygned Demetrius.
Thre yere he bare the crown, the story seyth soo.
Antiochus Sedites kyng was there thoo
Nyne yere evyn, and aftyr him reygned there
Anothir kyng thei calle Demetrius Sothere.

Chapter 12

In his tyme the Romaynes whon fro him
Mech of his londe and eke that gret cyté
Whech that he helde, and so had all his kyn,
I mene Alysaundyr. Thei set there her see -
The Romaynes dyd so. For he was fayn to flee
Forth into Egypt, he held him ryght there.
Thus led he his lyffe in sorow and in feere;

He lost all the londes whych his faderes wonne.
Foure-skore yere even reygned the Romaynes there
And in this servage newly thus begunne
Reygned the same kyng the tyme of twelve yere.
Alysaundyr, his son, than dede the crown bere
Nyne yere evyn, and than Demetrye, his brother.
He reygned foure yere and aftyr him anothir,

Men calle him in bokes Antiochus Griphus.
He governed twelve yere all this forseyd londe.
In these foure kyngis tyme, myne auctour seyth thus,
All this ilke cuntré to the Romaynes was bonde
Tyll that Fortune turned so hir honde
Whan Helyus Adrianus emperour was of Rome,
Whych weddyd his doghtyr to on thei call Phalone.

This Phalon was sone onto the seyd Demetrius.
Be him cam Surry to ryght hold ageyn,
And all her subjeccyoun to Rome cessed thus.
Solaber was the name of the mayd thei seyn;
Ryght soo hyght sche. Thei that hir there seyn
Seyn nevyr swych anothir; thus seyd thei alle.
This same Phalon - summe men so him calle -

Had a ful fayre sone be this same Solabere.
Zozimus he hyght, kyng aftyr his fadyr he was,
And Archenon and Archibelon reygned also there,
Than aftyr Antigonus, and than cam Claudace -
Sune aftyr fadyr, all reygned in that place -
Than aftyr Borus, ryght thus haf I founde,
And thanne ageyn Claudace called the secunde.

This same Claudace Costus fadyr was,
And this same Costus fadyr to Kateryne.
Here may ye se of what men and of what place
Cam this woman, this lady, this virgyne;
Here is it schewyd hooly all the lyne.
Thus I behyte you that I schuld doo.
In this reknyng myne auctour and I are too,

For he acordeth not wyth cronicles that ben olde
But diversyth from hem, and that in many thyngis.
There he acordyth, there I him hold,8
And where he diversyth in ordre of these kyngis
I leve him, and to othir mennys rekenyngis
I geve more credens, whech before him and me
Sette alle these men in ordre and degré.

Butte men wyll sey now and happely replye,
"What menyth this lyne and this rehersayle,
To rekene so many men and to multiplye
Noumbres and yerys whech may not avayle?
And eke, us thynkyth, it doth sumwhat fayle,
For thow thei were men of grete lordschype,
The kynrod of schrewys to God is no worchepe."9

I answere hereto as do Seynt Jerome:
"Crist cam of schrewys," he seyth, "for this skylle
The principall cause why to this world He come
To corect synneris; that was His wylle."
For many men that synfull were and ille
Are in His genelogie, ye may hem there fynde,
My lady Kateryne stante in this same kynde.

Chapter 13

Now to telle forth even as I fyrst sayde:
The lordys are come whech clepyd were.
Agens the parlement the cité is arayd
With plenté of vitayle and all odyr gere.
Men lakked ryth nowt that were logged there;
Gret chepe had thei, all maner vitayle;
It is stuffyd so be resoun it may not fayle.

The reall lordys wyth baroun and bacheler
Are com now thedyr to do her servyse.
Byschopis and clerkys togedyr in fere -
Thei wyll now schew her wyttys wyse;
Thei schall have nede or that thei ryse.
Summe lordys are come eke homage to make,
And ladys many ryth for the qwenys sake.

This mayde is crownyd with all the observawns
Whech servyd that tyme in stede of the Masse.
Thei prayd to Jupiter he schuld hir avauns
And to all the goddys, both more an lasse,
There was no god whech thei lete thoo passe.
The lordys swore all how that thei schuld
Her servyse evyr sewe and her sutes holde.

Thanne begunne the festes, I trow gret inow,
As in that cuntré custome was thane.
To lord and to lady, and to povert low,
Full foyson was there; to every man
Many mo deyntys than I rehers can.
Every man had plenté in hale and in halle;
Thoo men that servyd it nedyd not hem to calle,

Swech rewle and ordinauns was there i-had.
There was no gate warnyd to no maner wyte,
But that every man schuld be ryth glad
Thei were kept opyn both day and nyth.
The bordes evyr cured and the mete dyth,
Whan on had his mele in cam anodyr.
Of sylvyr vessell there was many a fothir.

No place was voyd, neydyr parloure nor chaumbyr,
But all were thei full of women or of men.
The grete paleys that stante at Alisaundyr,
It was full of puple, no man seyd "go hen"
Save reverens was had; lordes - here nyne, here ten -
Thus kept her astate. The cité eke all abowte
Was full of gentylys withinne and withowte.

Lordes and ladyes that were there of hir kynne
Onto that feste come, both on and odyr,
And all were thei loggyd in full riall ine.
Summe were of hir fadyrs syde, summe were of hir modyr.
Of curtesye and gentylnesse, game and non othyr,
Was than her carpyng. Save summe spoke of love,
Every man spak of thing whech was to his behove.

Justys were there, and thoo with the best;
Summe had the bettyr and summe had the werre.
The grete theatyr there had ful lytyll rest:
Evyr was there fytyng, but there was no werre.
Many noble men whech were come fro ferre
In that same place were asayd ychoon,
As well in wrestyllyng as puttyng at the ston.

And aftyr all this is endyd and eke i-don,
Justis, revellis, and festes gune to slake.
Thei toke her leve, homward for to goon,
But yet or thei fully had her leve i-take
Ech lord whech had there any lady and make
Was gove two courseres (of whech the on
Was blak as cole, the other wythe as bon)

With sadyll and brydyll of gold and of sylke.
Many moo rewardes eke than I can now seye:
Summe were gove mantellis wyght as the mylk
On whech were many a broche and many a beye.
Thus ryd thei homwarde foreth in her wey.
There is noght ellys now but farwell and goo,
"I pray God be with yow." Thus is the parlement doo.

Chapter 14

Thys lady, as the story even forth telleth,
Kepyth hir chambyr and holdyth hir thus inne.
With hir modyr the qween as yet sche dwellyth.
Hir bokes for to loke on can sche noght blyne;
Whosoevyr lett hir, he dothe full gret synne.
To offende his lady, what wene ye it is?
There was no man that tyme that durst do thys.

It was oonly hir joye, all hir entent,
For hir hert that tyme was set to nowt elles.
Ful hye honour therby aftyrward sche hente.
Bothe wit and wysdome owte of hir hert welles
Evyn as the streme rennyth fro the welles;
Swych fayre frute in stodye dyd sche fynde
With besy conceytes whech sche had of kynde.

There was no wyght that in hir presence
Durst onys touch of ony ille dede;
And if he dyd, he had hir offens.
Forevyr more he coude not aftyr spede
As for to be hir servaunde, that is no drede.
Sche hated not the persone, but only the synne.
Of vertuous spech coude sche not blynne.

There was nevyr wrong founde in that may.
The cors of hir governauns was evyr so clene,
Bothe pryvy and aperte; at every asay,
Stedfast and stable was evyr this qwene.
Sche was a very seynt, truly as I wene,
Thow sche were not baptized. So was Cornelius:
His prayere was herde - scripture seyth thus -

Of oure Lorde Godd or he baptized were,
And therfore was Petyr sent unto him,
The articles of the feyth him for to lere.
He had feyth befor, but it was dyme.
He was made to Cryst a ful ryght lyme.
His feyth was not cause of his good werkes,
But his werkes causyd feyth, thus seye these clerkys.

Thys same lady eke, thow sche not baptized were,
Sche hauntyd holy werkys be steryng of the spryght
Whech made hir of synne for to hafe fere
And to love vertu bothe day and nyght.
The soule nedyth vertu as mech as yye lyght;
This wote thei well that feel experyens.
This was the cause that hir noble presens

Was noryschere of vertu and qwenchere of vyce,
For whan sche coud aspye any mysdrawte
Of man or of woman, that thei were nyce,
For fere or for lofe wold sche leve nawte,
But soone schuld thei full wysyly be tawte.
"It may not be thus," sche sayd, "it is not honeste.
A man, but he be reulyd, he is but a beste.

"What wene ye now whan ye trespace?
Thow I not aspye yow, I sey yow trulye.
There is oon above that loketh on oure face
And on all the membrys of oure bodye;
If he ony fowle dede may in us aspye,
He deynyth oure servyse. This is my preve.
Sey clerkys what thei wyll, thus I beleve,

"For wele I wote, above Jupiter and alle
Is a maystir-rewler, and eterne He is;
Upon this world whatsoevyr schall befalle,
Falle whan it schall, He is evyr in blysse,
And thei that love vertu schall not want, iwysse,
Nevyr His gode lordschop. He may, as it is skylle,
Make goddes of men whan that evyr He wylle."

Thus wold sche sey, that noble lady dere
Onto hir servauntes and hem all exhorte.
Sche was homly as thow sche were her fere.
The dredfull and sekely wold sche comfort.
Mery and glad was sche at every disport,
Sad eke ther-to whan sche schuld sad be,
Godely of hir spech, of hir expens fre.

Chapter 15

What is a lond whan it hath non hed?
The lawes are not kept, the lond desolate,
The hertes hangyng and hevy as lede,
The comonys grucchyng and evyr at the bate.
There is kept non rewle, kept non astate.
Thus seyde the puple of Surry alle aboute:
"Oure kyng is now ded; oure lyth is nye owte.

"Othir londys spoyle us, and that withoute mercy.
We mote nede suffyr - we may non odyr doo.
Thow we speke and calle and for help cry,
There is no man gladly wyll cum us to.
We have alleway thouth that it schuld be so.
Wythowte a kyng, how schuld a cuntré stand?
We have lost forevyr oure name and oure land.

"We have a qween: sche comyth among no men;
Sche loveth not ellys but bokys and scole.
Late all oure enmyes in lond ryde or ren,
Sche is evyr in stody and evermore sole.
This wille turne us all to wrake and to dole!
But had sche a lord, yet all myth be wele.
O thu blynd Fortune, how turnyst thou thi wheel

"Now hye, now lowe; now he that was above
Lyght low benethe in care and myschef eke,
And he that supposyd to conqwer now his love,
He schall noght haf hir of all this next weke!
Sumtyme be we heyle; sumetyme be we seke.
O very onsikyrnesse! O chaungand and variable,
Thu wordly lyffe, for evyr art thou unstable.

"How schall this londe withoute kyng now stande?
It was nevyr seyn yet that the Sarsynrye
Was left alone unto a womannes hande.
Sche must be weddyd, this mayd - and that in hye -
Onto summe kyng. Oure lond may thus not lye.
Fy upon rychesse, but if thei worchep doo
To man that weldyth hem, for thei are mad ther-too.

"We schall fare ellys as thise negardes doo:
Ley up her gold and evyr wyll thei spare;
In all her lyffe thei may not tend ther-too
To hafe any myrthe or ony welfare.
Ryght evyn thus now are we lyke to fare:
We schul haf rychesse and it schal do noo goode.
Godd forbede eke that this ryall blode

"Of oure noble kyng schuld cesse thus in this mayde.
We wyll require hir on all manere wyse
For to be wedded." Thus the puple sayd:
"There is noo reule in lorde ne in justyse:
Thei sett the schyere, the cessyons, and the cyse
Ryght as hem lyst. Will for reson goth now.10
This governauns is nothyng unto oure prow!

"And if we to batayle schuld us enbrace,
Who schuld lede us? Who schall be oure gyde?
A woman kende nevyr yet able was
To reule a puple that is so grete and wyde,
To sette the standard the wengys on the syde.
And if we chese to capteyn any other lorde
Envye and rancure wyll cause sone dyscorde."

Thys was her lay thorowowte all the londe:
"Why is oure qween thus long withowte a kynge?"
Bothe hye and lowe, all had this on honde.
"Why is sche unweddyd, this yung, this fayre thynge?
Sche is full wyse, sche is full lykyng,
Sche is ful able a husbond for to have:
Sche mote so nedys yf sche wylle us save!"

Upon this matere evene wyth a comon asent,
Thei made a gaderyng wythoute auctorité.
For serteyn lordes ryth sone have thei sent,
That thei shal come the common profyth to se.
Among hem alle this was than her decré:
Upon this matere a lettir wylle thei wryte.
In most goodly wyse, thei wyll that lettir endyte

In whech thei shal onto her lady the qwen
And to hir modir, whech is her lady eke,
Wryte and pray that thei wyl to hem seen,
As thei be ladies both mercyful and meke,
Thei suffyr no more the lordes thus of Greke
Ovyrryde hem so - it was not the old gyse.
The lettir, certeyn, was wrytyn in this wyse.

Chapter 16

"Onto oure ladyes, the elder and the yonge,
Be it now knowe that thorow all Surry-lond
It is seyd and spoke ny of every tunge
That thei were nevyr so lykly to be bonde
To othir londes whech have the hyer hond
As thei are now. Wherfore togyder thei crye
Onto yow, ladyes, that ye wyll have mercye

"Upon youre men, upon youre lordes eke.
Thei may not lyve but thei defended be.
Youre hertys be so petouse and so meke,
Ye wyl not lete this matere slyde, pardé!
What is a lord but yf he have mené?
What is a puple but yf thei have a lord?
Loke every kyngdam thorowout all this world:

"But yf thei have a man that dare wele fyth,
Thei are put undir. It was not sene or now
That Surré and Cipre and that ylde that hite
Candé the rych, whech hath a see ful rowe,
Shuld be thus kyngles. To God we make a vowe:
We may not lyve thus long in rest and pes;
Of clamoure and cry wyll we nevyr i-ses

"But evyr beseke you, as oure ladyes dere,
Ye wyl be governyd and werk be counsayle.
Thynk ye be to us both leef and dere,
And think oure servyse may yet sumwhat avayle.
Lete sum peté owt of youre hertys hayle!
Suffyr youre puple have sum of her desyre.
This was the losse certeyn of men of Tyre:

"Thei had no kyng, therfore thei had no grace.
Whan Appolony was ded, fro hem passed and goo,
Every man as there his owe maystir was.
God forbede forevyr that it were so
In Surré-lond, for than were it undo.
It was nevyr sene, forsoth, ne nevyr schall be,
And if it were, farewele than felicité!

"This we desyre now, schortly for to telle,
And thus desyrith all the lond bedene;
This is conclusioun of all oure gret counselle:
That oure yong lady mote nede weddyd bene.
Late hir have choys; sche is wyse, we wene.
Chois hath sche, for many on wold hir have.
Deliver this matere, so God youre soulys save.

"This thing is all that we wylle sey as now.
We aske a answere, and that in hasty wyse.
We pray to God, to whom we alle mote bowe,
He sette yow soo and lede in swech a gyse
That ryth tomorow or ye owt of bed ryse
And er ye come owte into the halle,
That ye dysyre as we desyre now alle."

Chapter 17

The qwene answeryd and wrot rith thus ageyn.
Sche seyd, "This thyng allgatys moste be do.
To lyve alone in stody, it was nevyr seyn
That ony lady ony tyme dyd so."
Therfor hir wylle is fully sette ther-to
That hir dowtir, qwene of that empyre,
Schall be weddyd hastyly to sum syre.

And upon this hir lettir hath she sent
Ryth in this forme and in this maner stylle:
"The Qween of Surry, of Cypre that was brent,
Of Candy eke lady and of many a myle,
Wyffe onto Costus, whech but a lytyle whyle
Is passyd and ded, onto her puple sche seyth,
She aloweth ful wele her manhode and her feyth;

"Sche wyl as thei wyll, and hath do many a day,
That hir doutir onto sum kyng shuld be
Maryed or wedded. She seyd yet nevyr nay
But evyr hir wylle hath be into this degré,
Loke where ye wyll and whanne, for so wyl sche.
Sche wold ful fayn that this thing were i-doo;
It had be fynyschyd ful long tyme agoo

"Yf it had ley in hir or in hir wylle.
Sche thynkyth, certeyn, reson that thei say
To have a kyng it is ful goode skylle
Because a woman neithir can ne may
Do liche a man ne sey, it is no nay.
Go loke youreselve, for ye be wyse men alle.
My doutir, I trowe, onto youre wyll schal falle;

"She was nevyr yete asayed in no degré
Of you, ne me, ne of no maner with.
As in this matere sche seyd nevyr nay ne yee.
We may not blame hir in no maner plyth:
She doth to us as yet nothyng but ryght,
Ne non she cast, truly, as I suppose.
We wyll ful sone hir of this thing appose.

"Yf she consent, than have we al i-doo.
But this same thing, certeyn, touchith us alle:
It longyth nowth only to on or too,
But all oure reme herto must we calle,
For grete perell ellys therof myth falle.
Yt longyth to the ferthest as wele as to hem
That dwelle here ny. Ye wote ful wele, hir em

"The Duke of Tyre mote nede know this thing,
The Duke of Antioche eke, hir owne cosyn.
If we shul have a lord or ellys a kyng,
Thei mote consent, thei mote make the fyn.
Lete this matere no lenger slepe ne lyne:
We wyll send oute now in all hastly wyse
That every man shal com in his best gyse

"Onto this Alisaundre, there we dwelle as now.
Thei shal sey and here alle that evyr thei wylle.
There shall no man, to God I make a vowe,
Be lettyd for us, speke he loude or stylle."
This was the sentense of the qwenes bille.
The puple red it and was ful wele apayde.
"God save oure lady!" wyth o voys thus thei seyde.

Thus endeth this boke of this clene virgine
In whech hir byrth, hir kynrod, and hir countré
Is declared, so as she wold enclyne
Hir gracious help to send onto me.
Now ferthermore a newe boke begynne wyl we
In whech we schall onto hir worchep wryte,
So as we can in oure langage endyte,

The grete conflicte betwyx the lordes and hir,
Ryth in the parlement whech was ful realy hold
At grete Alysaundre. Many a ful stout syre
Onto that cité at that tyme cam ful bold.
It wyl be long or that this tale be told;
Therfore I counsell that we make here a pause
And eke a rest ryth evene at this clause.

Syria; Cyprus

soberly; same


lamb; meek; lion
desire to learn [about him]


profit; presence; sought

islands belonged
they all obeyed his commands
sea entirely under his control
ruled them all just as he pleased


for the occasion

Well-spoken; generous
dispense with punishments

soon regret
began vengeance




needed him

suited to each other as an axe to its handle

Sin; heartily, harlotry and vice

we think it is

(see note)

i.e., the Virgin Mary


one; a great amount


is called

surrounded by the sea

(see note)

avoid this route
   Either in peace or in war

(see note)

   a popular destination

provision it; also; victuals


without leaving his own realm

   Everything was done as he commanded

   must necessarily go
by road and by river

There; (see note)

heathen practices

Read; (see note)

Monks; other such

meadow; showers
might; them; believe
tested sorely

iron slain and burned
escaped unless before
i.e., renounce his faith

discipline; is mastered by; fool

a certain Pantaenus; (see note)

(see note)
drew every man there
did; seek

no other lands in his realm


of such
May; dumb

i.e., honor him; prosper

lived; great happiness
belonged to his faith
won; vigorous attacks

however; heed; follow
compared to; spark
must necessarily

prosperity; salvation
them; abandon

might have perished

have supposed


despair; prosper

unlike any other

rather; large amount; (see note)
predicament; (see note)


river; must

i.e., the Virgin Mary

had lost their passion
(see note)


(see note)
no others; make known


was called
daughter; Armenia
beauty; stood out in every crowd
Saracens; (see note)
wish; longer in her praise to tarry

daughter; seek

their; trouble

clothe; rock; supervise; (see note)
Two; appointed at once

staff (company)

it (the child)

They had their new duties every week
took great joy
take her eyes off [the child]

lasted all her life
quickly gratified; cried

matured; (see note)

stop; learn

from far away
which can be mastered by no fool
forms; logic
declensions; moods; tenses

serious at that; chancellor

salaries; (see note)
high and distinguished scholar
knew; clearly


but in moderation
   (see note)

all the secrets
wrung [from nature]

through the efforts
supervised her studies

Against; at the time

earnestly; scholar of God

Greece; realm

illiterate men


simplicity (humility)

do battle
Against; world; overcome
mighty; Holy Spirit

so that



taught; impediment

chairs; gear
discipline by itself

in their place
according to

teachers; he turned her over

To avoid hindering
grew; fervently
one scholar went


(see note)

nothing like it; world




no one else had it
shut it securely
fastened securely

worldly occupation; its care
wise ones

artfully; cleverly engineered



can be described thus

discipline; dialectic

in order
Arithmetic; is such that

taught; discipline; (see note)

striking [of musical instruments]

it requires much study


i.e., is so learned; (see note)
reign on high


reputation; (see note)

know; in hand
challenged by


reputation; grow
no one; young

soon solved

she knows more than we do

each one in turn

took leave of

if she lives
nothing to do here
knows what we know
wise men; were


generosity; liberal
everyone goes home

secure; thought
home; duty


is appropriate to
lodged; family; (see note)

such a one

honor; depend
enclosed; lead

heir; head (i.e., ruler)



royally; know; their
the practice of burying

need not be rehearsed
perhaps; be the worse

learn of; idolatry; rites


Must certainly have

all in agreement
ornamental engraving
vanish; waste; burned

its name; their

be called
change; coast
there; sack
must; Famagusta; (see note)
speak of it


stands; i.e., forgotten

Famagusta; sea

wretches; die; reward

was bound to

Unless; rest assured

knew; (see note)

One reason


reason; her kin; (see note)

About them and their times

according to

built Alexandria
to enhance


the lesser
To distinguish it from

the greater and the lesser

   to distinguish between them
to distinguish himself


was called






Alexander (the Great)




Alexander sought

Persia; Darius
Arabia; Phoenicia

cannon and catapult
ceased; went to rest


Two; renamed




i.e., years


(see note)

still curse him

sin; sick
leek (i.e., worthlessly)
nearly of the same condition
was named

against nature (i.e., incestuously)
bright lightning
(see note)
i.e., by the dozen
solve his riddles
i.e., to tell the truth

Although he wanted to


new state of servitude

(see note)

its rightful governors


was Costus' father

Her entire line is shown here
account; are in disagreement; (see note)

agrees; are

other men's accounts


are of no use
is rather pointless

(see note)
heathens; reason



arrayed for the parliament
food; other gear
Lodgers lacked nothing

royal; knight
in company

before they go

were practiced; Mass


follow; claims

believe great enough

the lowly poor
tents and in halls; (see note)
did not need to be called

closed to anyone
so that
tables; tended; food prepared

vessels; a large amount

empty; neither

people; "go away"


i.e., one and all
lodged; royal dwelling

conversation; Except; (see note)

Jousts; those
worse [luck]
tested each one
wrestling; (see note)

began to wind down

before; taken their leave
given; horses
black as coal; white as bone

cloaks white

nothing else

Stays in; keeps to herself



   i.e., study
surges; (see note)

a sharp mind; by nature

   ever allude to
   he offended her


private and public; trial

Cornelius was too; (see note)



practiced; stirring; spirit

eyes need light
who have learned by experience

perceive; misconduct
not hold back for fear or love

What are you thinking of
see; tell

disdains; contention

lack, indeed
proper; (see note)


unpretentious; their equal
frightened and sickly [people]

people complaining; quarreling

light; nearly

must; nothing else

always thought

i.e., keeps to herself

bring us; harm; sorrow
(see note)


healthy; sick
uncertainty; changing

Saracen lands

in a hurry


otherwise; misers

   derive any pleasure or benefit from it


if we go to war

(see note)
as captain



by necessity must do so


attend to


take care of them

Oppress; old way


upper hand

(see note)

unless they be defended
by God

Unless; fight

island; was called
Candia; rough sea


act according to counsel
be helpful
pity flow from your hearts

then it would be ruined


Let; choice
many a one
Act upon

such a way

i.e., Meliades
(see note)



acknowledges; their valor

wishes very much; done
It would have been

very reasonable
very proper

   Do or speak as a man; no doubt

questioned at all
By you; no other person

any way

   she intends none

peril; might arise

conclude the matter



hindered by us; softly
content; letter

   be inclined



is finished
take a break


Go To The Life of Saint Katherine, Book 2