The Life of Saint Katherine: Book 4
JOHN CAPGRAVE, THE LIFE OF SAINT KATHERINE, BOOK 4: FOOTNOTES1 Lines 8-9: From different portions of God's law
2 Worse than one would want a person to do to him
3 Lines 370-71: Because of the indignation / He would incur for not playing his part in the festivities
4 I am not familiar with their religious practices
5 They attribute it (their sickness) to his vengeance
6 Stay quietly in your chambers; there is no alternative
7 That people of all religions shall convert to his religion
8 Lines 493-95: [The memory of her marriage] is so impressed on her heart / That no fickle weathervane of worldly desires will / Blow it away
9 Who will proceed straight from their coffins to heaven
10 Do not blame them for wanting to leave [and thus not escorting you back to the temple]
11 Lines 564-65: Which may neither advance / Your causes nor alleviate your distress
12 Astonished by her beauty [and] partly by what she wanted of him
13 Lines 646-47: If they were themselves created, how can they be gods? / A god is supposed to be eternal
14 Lines 722-24: You might have seen by the end of her speech, / Many people disposed otherwise / Than they were before
15 Lines 738-40: It was an evil hour when I made the mistake of allowing her to speak
16 Lines 760-62: you know / That you should bow down and for your beauty / Thank him if for nothing else
17 All virtue proceeds from Your worthiness
18 Lines 1222-23: They will lose the confidence / With which they used to call upon their gods
19 Just what has our reward got to do with you?
20 Lines 1340-41: I have a teaching (Christianity) to uphold that is truer [than paganism] / And that leads more directly to an understanding of creation
21 Lines 1459-60: I began my disputation here by speaking of my Lord of heaven
22 So that people should proceed through them to a higher devotion
23 Lines 1550-51: No meat is served at your table / Until your god has been given the tongue
24 With rhetorical flourishes and ornaments, as you are accustomed to do
25 Lines 1622-23: If you explored philosophy's secret recesses, / You would find that all the planets were created
26 Lines 1807-10: And if you do not want to believe this thing, / You may believe only [that] you shall never know it, / [Namely] the time and manner of this mysterious occurrence. / Your learning is too inferior to reveal it
27 Lines 1824-27: For indeed those Christians / Who had just rendered service to the idols / Now wail out of deep repentance, / Judging that they deserve a severe penance
28 Lines 2007-08: Since there are so many gods [referred to in Christian books], why cannot Jupiter and Juno, his wife, be counted among them?
29 Lines 2056-58: Read that book (Scripture) more attentively and you will see that those ignorant prophets were damned for their false beliefs, every last one of them
30 Lines 2222-23: Moreover, you say that He (the Father) did this (the Incarnation)
31 Lines 2253-57: It is shown by faith and logic / That the Son was responsible for implementing the Incarnation, / But the grace and providence that conveyed mercy through the Incarnation, / Those were attributable to the Trinity as a whole
32 Lines 2297-2300: There was nothing to do after they failed to perturb her when they spoke of the descent of Christ, whether there were two or one [persons in the flesh], and of the emanation of the Holy Spirit
33 Lines 2327-28: For having supported so long their false religion
JOHN CAPGRAVE, THE LIFE OF SAINT KATHERINE, BOOK 4: NOTES1 ff. These erdely dwellers . . . Are lykened to the bees. Virgil's comparison of human society to a bee-hive in Georgics 4.3 was frequently quoted by medieval political theorists and well known in Capgrave's day.
23 MS: For that thei here thowte they have delectacyoun. I am accepting the reading of MS Arundel 396, which makes more sense.
78-148 In the tyme of Costus . . . in Rome al alone. Capgrave's rather garbled account of events during the late third century - which will not be found in standard history books - can be summarized as follows: Maximinus Galerius, Maximian, and Diocletian were co-rulers of the Roman empire. After Maximian and Diocletian resigned, Maximinus appointed three sub-emperors: Maximinus to rule the East; Severus to rule Lombardy, Tuscany, and Germany; and Constantine to rule Britain. Maximinus Galerius was killed in battle and the Romans chose his sub-emperor Maximinus' son Maxentius (Katherine's nemesis) to be the new Roman emperor. Unhappy with this arrangement, Maximinus set out for Rome but died en route. Equally unhappy, Severus waged war against Maxentius but was eventually killed by his own soldiers. Maxentius remained emperor of Rome until his excesses and iniquities drove the Roman people to rebellion.
119 Salysbury playn. Location of Stonehenge, legendary burial place of King Arthur's father, Uther Pendragon; Arthur's successor, Constantine; and 450 Breton nobles killed by the Saxons in the fifth century.
290 with gunnes and wyth myne."Gunne" refers to a machine used to cast missiles during a siege. A"myne" was a tunnel dug to undermine a fortification.
310 used. Not in MS.
381 There was no matens seyd, servyse, ne pryme. Capgrave is referring to the liturgical offices that were recited daily in religious houses.
389 some. Not in MS.
395-96 Saturne . . . With his sekyll in hand. Saturn was conventionally represented with a sickle because, after settling in Italy (see below, lines 638-40), he taught the Italians how to reap grain with that tool.
406 I owe him non, for maumentrye I despyse. A playful jab at contemporary lovers, who, in the parlance of romances and love lyrics, were still Cupid's servants.
468 All tho myshappys whech were seyd before. An allusion to the dire predictions made by Katherine's lords during the Marriage Parliament of Book 2.
478-79 now is the hour / Whech sche behestyd. See 3.1478-87.
551 With mace. In this context,"mace" refers to a rod of office.
586 With bath of picth and beverych of lede. Methods of torture.
633 Rede in your boke. A possible allusion to the Hierâ Anagraphe (c. 300 B.C.) of Euhemerus of Sicily, which proposed that the gods were men who were only after their deaths reputed to be divine. Augustine of Hippo refers to Euhemerism at several points in his City of God. Most of Katherine's assaults on Maxentius's religion - the scandalous behavior of the gods, their outrageous rituals, and so forth - appear to have derived from the first seven books of the City of God. For a fifteenth-century discussion of Euhemerism, see The Assembly of Gods, lines 1707-08.
636 telle. MS: telles.
676 woundis fyve. A reference to the five wounds the crucified Christ received on his hands, feet, and side.
752 ye. Not in MS.
876-89 He hite hir . . . / . . . now take. Maxentius iterates and elaborates on these promises in 5.372-420. His promises and Katherine's response constitute one of the most memorable scenes in most versions of Katherine's passion.
1063 Why. Crossed out in MS.
1125 chese. Not in MS.
1143 in prison. Not in MS.
1163 And as Thu graunted Thin apostles here. Matt. 10:17-20, Mark 13:9-11, Luke 12:11, 21:12-15.
1185 As Thu graunted Ester to plese hir Assuere. Esther 4-5 relates that, in an attempt to save the Jews from destruction, Esther risked death by approaching her husband, King Ahasuerus, unsummoned in the inner court of his palace.
1195 voutes sevene. Capgrave may be thinking of images in popular prayer books, or Books of Hours, which often represent martyrs standing in multi-vaulted prison cells.
1233-34 a trew messagere / And as no feyned spyryte. Demons were notorious for impersonating angels on their visits to imprisoned saints, as in the legend of the virgin martyr Juliana.
1268 he. Not in MS.
1271 new Ulix. Representations of Ulysses as a crafty, scurrilous deceiver with a golden tongue (in the tradition of Ovid's Metamorphoses) were common in the Middle Ages.
1344 Phylystyoun. Philistion was a physician identified with the Sicilian school of medicine founded by Empedocles in the fifth century BC.
1371 philosophye. MS: philophye.
1499-1512 thei be but figures / Representyng othir manere thing . . . schuld go therby. This scholar is using the same arguments that the Church used to defend images and statues of Christ and the saints from Lollard claims that venerating such representations amounted to idol-worship. For a popular statement of this orthodox Catholic argument, see Thomas Hoccleve's 1415 "Address to Sir John Oldcastle," in Hoccleve's Works: The Minor Poems, ed. Frederick J. Furnivall and I. Gollancz, EETS e.s. 61, 72-73 (London: Oxford University Press, 1892, 1925), vol. I, p. 21, lines 409-24. It is perhaps not surprising that Katherine does not refute this argument but rather changes the subject.
1534 Vulcane was cruell and yet was he cokholde. For a pithy account of how"cruell" Vulcan took vengeance on his wife, Venus, and her lover, Mars, see Book 4 of Ovid's Metamorphoses. This topic is a favorite among medieval vernacular writers.
1587-88 These lines are reversed in the MS with a mark that they should be read in the order in which I have placed them.
1592 The Kyng of Thebes a book had hir sent. Augustine criticizes the allegorization of the Roman Pantheon in his City of God, primarily in Books 6-7. He attributes that allegorization to Marcus Terentius Varro, whose work on theology (The Antiquities) is unfortunately lost. I thank Chris Manion for suggesting Varro as the author of Katherine's book.
1667 ff. In her instruction of the unenlightened through the figure of the Trinity, Katherine alludes to a common doctrinal practice. Compare St. Cecile's instruction of Tiburce in Chaucer's Second Nun's Tale (VIII [G] 333-41). The length and complexity of her exposition, however, is unprecedented in any Middle English saint's life.
1674 creature. MS: creatour.
1723-25 He that reysyde Lazare fro the grave . . . He that Petyr in the see dyd save. See, respectively, John 11 and Matthew 14.
1724 four dayes. Both MSS Rawl. poet. 118 and Arundel 168 read that Lazarus lay in the grave for"fourti [Ar. Fourty] dayes." I have emended"fourti" to"four," an emendation supported by MSS Arundel 396 and Arundel 20 as well as by John 11:39.
1729-31 He that so mervelously onto heven gan glyde . . . mervayles. Mark 16:19.
1748 leke. MS: loke.
1752-57 Sybylle . . . nevyr sey nay. Capgrave is quoting the so-called Tiburtine Sibyl, whose pronouncement is quoted, among other places, in Jacobus de Voragine's Golden Legend, trans. William Granger Ryan, 2.170. For a discussion of the medieval Sibylline tradition, see Bernard McGinn, "Teste David cum Sibylla: The Significance of the Sibylline Tradition in the Middle Ages," in Women of the Medieval World, ed. Julius Kirshner and Suzanne F. Wemple (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1985), pp. 7-35.
1844 Be armes, bones, and be blode. The emperor, ironically, is swearing by Christ.
1871 marred. MS: marreth.
1882 thousandis fyve. The allusion is to the feeding of 5,000 in John 6:1-14.
1951-52 Youre prophete seyde . . . / bete and bynde. Psalms 2:9.
1972 In the tre was joy bore and in the tre woo. An allusion to Christ's cross (redemp-tion) and to the Tree of Knowledge (the fall).
1975 MS has a chapter heading indicated at this line.
1986-88 I red in a Crysten prophete . . . that ye be goddes alle. Psalms 82:6. The Old Testament was considered an integral part of the Christian tradition, its prophets and scholars deemed fundamentally Christian thinkers.
2000 Baal. References to Baal, a Phoenician god worshipped by wayward Israelites, occur frequently in the Old Testament. The"thre hundred prophetis" spoken of in lines 2001-02 may allude to 1 Kings 18:19 and 18:22, which mention 450 (not 300) prophets devoted to Baal.
2024-50 And be nature is He God . . . that auctorité. Jaroslav Pelikan explains the distinction made by various medieval theologians between Jesus, who was God's natural son, and the saints or faithful (called "gods" in Psalms 82:6), who were God's adopted sons, in The Growth of Medieval Theology (600-1300) (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978), pp. 55-56.
2032 And sones of Him that syttith hyest. Katherine is supplying the portion of Psalms 82:6 that the pagan scholar omitted in his allusion (line 1988).
2055-57 Thoo same prophetis . . . thei dampned were. 1 Kings 18:40 relates that, after winning a contest with the prophets of Baal, the prophet Elijah rounded up his 450 rivals and killed every one of them.
2080 comoursly. This word is not attested in the MED, though three of the four Katherine MSS give that reading. Horstmann emended it to"concoursly," but the MED cites only the noun"concours," meaning an agreement or a flocking/ crowding together. MS Arundel 20 reads"anon."
2082 Noys. Bernardus Silvestris develops this concept at length in his Cosmographia.
2158-77 Of oure ladies clennes in hir concepcion / . . . sittith thus hye. In answering Ariot's objection, Katherine affirms the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, namely, that Mary was miraculously conceived without the "original sin" that Adam and Eve passed on to their descendants. That teaching was highly controversial during the later Middle Ages (in part for the reason Ariot puts forward - how could a woman whose parents had inherited original sin be sinless herself?). Mary's Immaculate Conception was endorsed by the 1439 Council of Basle, though the legitimacy of the Council was later contested.
2179-84 His comyng was lich the sune schynyng bryth . . . cam down here. This simile was commonly employed by both poets and theologians to describe Mary's conception of Jesus. See Marina Warner, Alone of All Her Sex (New York: Knopf, 1976), p. 44; and Gail McMurray Gibson, The Theater of Devotion: East Anglian Drama and Society in the Late Middle Ages (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989), p. 146. For an example of the simile in Middle English devotional lyrics, see "Marye, mayde mylde and fre," in Middle English Marian Lyrics, ed. Karen Saupe (Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute Publications, 1998), p. 165, lines 73-76.
2194-96 It is ful hard swech thingis forto ryme . . . to the Incarnacion. Capgrave may be needling conservative clerics who declared that doctrine should not be discussed in the vernacular. He concedes that it is hard to discuss matters like the Incarnation "in langage of oure nacion" (line 2195) - all the more so when one is trying to rhyme - but instead of curtailing his treatment of those topics, he embellishes his putative source with "othir auctouris" (line 2199). See the note to 3.1428.
2235 coude. Not in MS.
2262-68 Davyd . . . whan he thristid sore . . . bare this thing. 1 Chronicles 11:15-19.
2278 dilatacion. MS Rawl. poet. 118 reads"delectacion"; the other MSS read"dilatacion."
2281 That myth it here if that hem list. This reading is significantly different from the readings of Arundel 398 ("That men myght plod in hir, if that hem lyst") and Arundel 20 ("that men myght plode in hyre yff that hyme lyste,") which suggest (rather daringly ) that readers consult Scripture for themselves. Arundel 168 reads"That men myght plede in here, if that hyme list."
2341 It is ful convenient that we shuld do soo. The scribe of MS Arundel 20 apparently disagreed that this would be an appropriate place to end Book 4, for he finishes narrating the philosophers' martyrdom before beginning Book 5.
These erdely dwellers whech lyve now here
Are lykened to bees whech dwell in hyve,
Or ellys to dranes, if that ye lyst to lere.
It faryth with men ryght thus in her lyve:
Summe wyll labour and summe wyll nevyr thryve.
Dyverse conceytes there be, and diverse eke degrees.
The goode laboureres are likened to the bees,
Specyaly thei that oute of Goddys lawe
Of dyvers partyes 1, syttyng on the floures,
Lerne and teche, bothe soke and drawe,
Of goode exaumples of holy predecessoures
Swete conceytes, wel famed savoures:
Alle these be bees whech to the housolde bryng
Alle her stuffe and alle her gaderyng.
Othir there be whech are not profitable:
Thei ete and drynk, devowre eke and wast;
Thei labour noght but if it be at table,
For onto werk have thei no grete hast.
Fylle wele her bely and geve hem goode repast,
Than wyll thei slepe sekyr with the best.
We sey not of hem but "dranes lofe well rest."
Yet to goostly laboure dranes wyll not drawe
For that in her thoughtis thei have noon delectacyoun
In the heryng yet of Goddys lawe.
Thei not encresse ne promote her stacyoun,
For thei hemselve to goostly occupacyoun
Wyll not draw at no mannes reqwest.
Suffyseth hem her full bely and rest.
Thus semeth it to me that Holy Scripture is
In manere of a felde with flowres fayre arayde,
And Holy Kyrk is benethe iwys.
Sche is the hyve with many stormes afrayed;
The vertuous bees in this hyve have portrayed
Her dyverse celles of hony and of wax.
What all this menyth, if ye lyst to axe,
Ye may it lerne. I sey the grete labour
That goode men have to rede exaumples olde,
It is to hem of solace newe socour
Her vertuous levyng stabyly to beholde
And eke to fyght with corage fresch and bolde
Ageyns this wordly deceyvable affluence,
Ageyne the fleschly slulkyd neclygens.
On of these bees was this same qweene,
The mayd Kateryne, whech with besynesse
Of every floure whech was fayre to seene
Sokyd oute hony of gret holynesse,
Bare it to hyve, and there sche gan it dresse -
For it wyll do servyse bothe to God and man.
That same lycoure whech sche gaderyd than,
This hony gadered sche fere and woundyr wyde:
In the lawe of nature laboured sche formest,
Where sche the vyces lerned to ley osyde
And vertues to chese as a clenly nest,
To do to no man, dwelle he est or west,
Werre than he wolde he schuld onto hym do. 2
This ladye gadered in this felde ryght soo:
In the wretyn lawe sche gadered eke mech thing,
The ten comaundmentys to kepe treuly in mynde.
There lerned sche the mervelous begynnyng
Bothe of the world and eke of mankynde;
There lerned sche the lame and eke the blynde
To fostyr and clothe, bothe helde and ying;
This was hir laboure, this was hir gaderyng.
In the lawe of grace soked sche swettere mete
Of ryper floures: feyth, hope, and charyté.
Sche bare hem, and there sche gan hem lete
Into this hyve, to Holy Chyrches secré -
There ly thei yet as tresoure, trost thu me.
Who that wyll laboure may fro that swetnes wryng
Mech bettyr than ony galey can bryng.
And forthe in this swetnesse wyll we now procede,
Whech that sche gadered, this lady, here lyvande.
God send us parte ryght as we have nede
In vertuous lyvyng stably to stande
And for to come to that hevenly lande
Where sche is now, for forthe to hir processe,
Undyr hir socoure, streyt I wyll me dresse.
In the tyme of Costus, as oure bokys telle,
Were thre emperoures in Rome cyté.
The fyrst was a man of hert full felle,
Maximinus Galerius, ryght so hyght he.
The secunde hyght Maximian, the threde, pardé,
Was namede at that tyme Dyocleciane -
He was many a Crysten mannes bane.
The fyrst emperour, Maximinus Galerye,
Dwelt styll at Rome and kept there the pes;
The domes, the sacryfyces, dyd he thoo gye.
The other too men, withouten any lees,
Were sent owte with ful grete prees
To brenne and sle, to take and to save -
This was offyce bothe to knyght and knave.
But these same too, for very werynesse,
Left her honoure and resygned her ryght.
Full grete excuse had thei in sekyrnesse:
Thei seyd her grete labour and her fyght
Avayle hem ryght noght now it myght,
For the more thei dyd the more thei had to doo.
Werfore in sykyrnesse thus thei too
Resygned her ryght onto this same man,
And he undyr him made thre emperoures
To help his empyre al that thei may or can
In all batayles, in all scharp schowres,
To wyne cytes, castelles, town, and towres.
The fyrst hyght Maximinus, as seyth the gest;
He was assygned to governe all the Est.
And to the secunde, whech hyght thoo Severe,
Was eke assygned the kepyng of Lumbardye,
Of Almayn, Tussy, the story seyth so here,
And many othir cuntres in that partye
Undyr his powere were tributarye.
Eke of Brytayn, the londe in whech we dwelle,
Was Constantyne mad lorde, sothe to telle.
This fyrst emperour, Maximinus Galerius,
For pryde and sorow and synfull lyffe
Was kylled in a batayle - the story seyth thus.
He had defowled many a mayde and wyffe,
And therfore, or he deyed oute of this stryffe,
He stank on erde as evyr dyd carayn -
Let him go walk in Salysbury playn!
Thoo toke the Romaynes the yong Maxens,
Sone onto Maximyne that was in Est.
Thei corowned him realy with grete expens,
With mych solemnyté and full grete fest.
The fame went oute to more and to lest
That he was emperour and his fadyr forsake.
This made his fadyr, schort tale to make,
To leve his conqwest and com to Rome there.
But or he cam there his pryde was i-cast:
In Cycile he deyd - ryght so dyde I lere
Of cronycles whech that I sey last.
There blew he owte his endyng blast,
And there lyghte he to abyde his chauns,
Wheythyr it be to wepyng or ellys to dawns.
Thys Severus eke that dwelt in Lumbardye
Gadered up Almayne and all his myght,
For with this eleccyoun had he grete envye;
Therfor bothe be day and eke be nyght
He laboureth be wrong and eke with ryght
To dystroye this Maxence, sothe for to sayn,
That he myght reygne whan he were slayn.
But or he cam fully at this same Rome,
He was slayn of his sowdyoures be the weye.
Than was there no more for to done
But Maxence reygneth, sothe for to seye,
As now alone; every man must obeye
If he wyll kepe his lyffe o lofte -
But if he do so, he slepe noght ellys softe.
Thus regned this Maxence in Rome al alone.
No man speke to him whatevyr he wyll doo:
There was no mayde, no wyffe, ne no matrone,
But whan he sent thei must come him too
To suffyr his lust, to suffyr what he wyll doo.
What husbond lett it, he schuld anoon be dede -
Upon his gate thei schuld sett his heede.
He turned the lawe; all went than be powere.
The pepyll cursyd the wombe that him had born.
Was no man durst in opyn langage there
Onys sey to him, "Lord your lawe is lorn."
Of all the senate sett he but a scorn.
Pryde and powere had enhaunsed him soo
All that he coveyte, he wold haf it doo.
Tho the Romaynes with a comoun consent
Letteres pryvyli of gret sentens ded wryght
And into Bretayn to Constantyn hem sent,
In whech thei prayd him, as he was a knyte,
That he come help hem ageyn this tyraunt to fyght;
Thei wold betray him, thei seyd, he schuld not spede.
This was her ende: "Com help us at oure nede!"
Anon this man ded gader a grete strenght,
Bothe of this londe and of Fraunce there too,
Evyr gan his ost encrese in brede and lenght
Be every cuntré in whech he gan goo.
In Ytayle reyswd he up puple many moo
Than evyr ded Severe, ryth for this tyrannye
Of this fals Maxence and for his leccherye.
He is at Rome. The hostys togedyr mette,
But Maxence trostyth oonly on the cyté there.
He is deceyvyd: alone thei him lette
With his howsholde in mech care and fere.
Be this ensaumple wyse men may well lere
To trost in the puple, for thei wyll fayl at nede,
So ded thei here, so streyt fro him thei yede
To Constantyn, that now came fro Brytayn.
Thus is he fledde, the same Maxencius,
Deceyvyd ryghtfully thus be her trayn -
Ryght for his lyvyng, that was so vicyous.
He fledd to Pers and there as man vyctorous
Dede grete thingis and many strengthes wan.
Soo as for lord, and for he was a man,
Thei crowned him there and called him king of Pers.
Thus hath Constantine wonne the feeld this day,
The othir tyraunt is put al to the wers.
Al this is told to this ende, sooth to say,
To knowe how Maxcens with soo grete aray
Cam to Alisaundre, swech maystries for to make,
Whan he this lady ded arreste and take.
For whan he was thus exalted in Pers,
Thus set in astate, and in his faderes office,
Tho wex he in condiciouns evyre wers and wers,
And more enclined to synne and to vice.
He sente oute letteres onto every justise,
To serche the Cristene, to hange hem and to drawe,
For truly, he seith, he wil destroye that lawe.
These letteres come to Surry al aboute,
And he himself folwed aftir hem sone.
The copy of hem I wil, withouten doute,
Write here in English, me thinkith it is to done:
"The lord of lordis that dwellith undir the mone,
Maxcens, the emperour of Pers, withouten pere,
Greteth weel oure lyges thurghoute oure empere.
"We wil ye wete oure faderes here beforn
That worchiped goddis with her dew servise
Were nevyre in batayle neythir convicte ne lorn,
Sweche was the keepynge of goddis tho ben wise
Ovyr her puple. Therfore, we as justise
And as a preest in religion of Saturne
Wil that ye alle fro alle veyn lawes turne,
"Most special fro Crist, whech heyng on tre,
That no man be soo hardy Him for to name.
What maner God schuld He now be
That was i-brout into swiche fame
To be hanged on a tre with so moche schame?
Therfore, noo man dwellynge now in oure lond
Schal be so hardy, neythir fre ne bond,
"To name Him oones or for to sette
His merke in the forhed, as is the usage
Of alle these Cristen. We wil hem lette
Of alle her cerymonies and her pilgrimage -
If that thei forgete, thei schul have wage
Swech as thei deserve, for to have
Lordschip ne richesse schal hem not save.
"Therfore, what man ony goddis honour
Othir than we doo now in oure sette,
We wil that thei be take with officeris oure
And led to prison withouten ony lette.
We wil ordeyn for hem swech a gette
Thei schul nevyre eft swech maystries make
In all her lyve, and that we undirtake."
This is the sentens of the letteres longe
Whech he sente oute onto al the Est,
Commaundynge lordis and knythes stronge
That thei come in hast, bothe more and leest,
And in most special onto that grete feest
Whech he wil make with ful grete store
That ilke same day whech he was bore.
The messangeres arn goon bothe fer and wide
To bere these copyes into divers londe.
The emperour himself, he wil abide
Onto that tyme, as I undirstonde,
In grete Alisaundre, with ful myty honde,
In whech cité eke this noble qween soo dere
With a pryvy mené leved al in prayere.
To this cité cam king and soo ded qween,
Thedir cam lordis mo than I can telle:
The innes arn ful as hyves of been,
There is now not elles but bye and selle,
In special mete and drynk, for there was nevyre welle
More plenteuous of water than was the cité of mete,
Soo were thei stored there, the marchauntis grete.
Whanne alle were come whech schuld be there,
The Emperour thre poyntis dede tho declare,
Whech poyntis he seyde, withouten dwere,
Even as thei in sentens stoode platt and bare,
He wold every man, what-so-evyre he ware
Or in what party he dwelt of his dominacyoun,
Schuld kepe hem in peyn of dampnacyoun.
The fyrst poynt was that Cristen all and summe
Must leve her feyth and that grete honoure
Whech that thei do to Cryste, Goddys Sunne,
Whom eke thei clepe now her salvatoure:
"His dyscyples into full grete errour
Have browte all men that wyll tend hem too,
Ryght with the feyned miracles that thei doo.
"Therfore wyll we that thei now alle
To oure presence for to see and here
What manere decré that we geve schall.
Onto swech wycchys bothe fer and nere
We think for to mak oure lawe full clere,
And whan all are loked to chese the best,
This is the relygyoun that we hafe keste."
The secunde poynt whech he schewyd thoo
Was this: he seyd thei had rememberauns
How that of Rome not long agoo
He helde the honoure and all the governauns,
But betrayed he was with hem of Bretayn and Frauns,
Whech on Constantyne had browte in fere,
A grete puple and a stately powere.
Thus had this traytour, he seyd, this Constantyne,
As a fals intrusore entred into his lande,
Wonne his cyté with gunnes and wyth myne,
There myght no walle ne noo toure thoo stande.
Thus bare Maxence the lordes on hande
Whech were with him at Alysaundre that tyde.
Wherfore, sekyrly, he seyth, he wyll ryde
Evene to Rome his ryght to conqwere,
To venge him on this tyraunt, on this Constantyne.
Wherfore, he prayed the lordes that be there
That thei schal be redy with bowes and engyne,
For he wyll rewarde hem with gyftis good and fyne,
With rentys, londys, castelles, and toures eke.
If thei wynne Rome, rychesse nede hem not seke.
The thyrd poynt whech that he purposyd there,
Sittyng himself ryght in the parlement,
He seyde he wold renew, withouten dwere,
Alle thoo servyses and all that dew rent
Whech to the goddis was ordeynd be comon assent.
The goddis, he seyd, schuld be more propicious
If that her cerymonyes were renewyd thus.
A byschop stood up thoo, with mytere and with crose,
Swech as thei used thoo in her lawe.
There was cryede every man kepe close
His mouthe and his tunge and herken to his sawe.
Whan he had his brethe a lytyl whyll i-draw,
Thus spake he than, in maner of sermonyng:
"I wyll ye wetyn," he seyth, "that Jupiter that hye kyng
"Hath turned awey his good conservacye
From all oure nacyon. I tell yow schortly why:
We have forsak him and fall in maumentrye.
Many of us here, I drede me, are gyltye
In this same matere. Wherfor, Jupiter allmyghtye
And Saturn his fadyr, be pryvy apparicyon
In slepe, gove warnyng be very revelacyoun.
"Thei bode we schuld the puple teche to renewe
The held cerymonyes and the elde rytes
Whech oure fadres used or we anything knew,
And so used many lordes and many knytes.
Who geveth us helpe in pees or in fytys
But Jupiter alone? Helth evyr upon him,
Honour and servyse to him and to his kyn!
"No man may make so grete maystrye
As Jupiter dothe whan he with hangyr qwakyth.
The grete thundyr whech he maketh flye,
The orrible lytenyngys eke whych he makyth,
Alle these schew to us that what man him forsakyth,
He is ful lykly with venjaunce to be brente.
Turn to him ageyn, therfore, lest ye be not schent;
"Leve all this newe thingys, kepe styll your olde.
What, schall Cryst among goddys put Him in place?
The schepperdys and plowmen in feld and in folde,
Thei wote ful well it stant not in mannys grace
Onto all the world salvacyon to purchase,
As sey this Crysten (for Cryst, as seyth her boke,
With His blode fro the world all synnes toke).
"He must be eterne that schall swech thingys doo,
That schall geve encrese to ilke generacyoun,
For to a godd of ryght this it longyth, loo,
To have in his nature evyrlestyng duracyoun.
Repelleth fro youre counsell this Crysten nacyoun -
This charge I yow in the goddys name -
Save your sowles and your bodyes fro blame."
This was the sentens of this grete sermoun
Whech that the byschopp at that tyme spake,
And this was eke his determinacyoun:
That no man in that londe, but he wyll into the rak
And on that same ly with a broken bak,
Be so hardy in no manere wyse
Speke ageyn the goddys or her servyse.
The cyté of Alysaundre whech is full large,
It is now repleschyd, withoute and withinne,
With lordes and ladyes; there was many a barge
At the princypale porte, for thei lay not thynne.
Welle is he at ese that may cacch an inne,
The puple was so grete, the pres was so strong.
There is now not elles but trumpyng and song,
For the nyte was come of that festful day
In whech Maxence was bore. Therfore he dyd crye
That every man there schall in his best aray
Sercle the cyté with noyse and mynstralsye.
He that schall slepe this nyght must be full slye
That he be not perceyvyd for indygnacyoun
Whech he schall have for he went not his stacyoun. 3
There was noyse of trumpys and noyse of men,
Mech more of bestys that deyd in her bloode,
For all that nyght, sekyrly ye may ful well ken,
The bocheres laboured as thei had be wode.
The waschyng of the carcays down in the flode,
Schewid the grete morder of the bestys slayn -
The water was as blody, saverly dare I sayn.
To the tempill thei goo the next day betyme,
The bischoppis have arayed hem to do the servyse.
There was no matens seyd, servyse, ne pryme,
Thei had anodyr usage than I can devyse. 4
Thus mech can I sey: the emperour as justyse
Was sett upon hye that he myth all see,
Who the puple honoured that solempnité.
Thei knelyd and thei cryed with marred devocioun,
All this beheld the emperour with sad yye,
For evermore hath he a fals suspecioun
That some are there whech will not sacryfye.
The fyrst god of all, whech stod most hye,
Was the bryth sunne with his hors and carte,
Whech was i-grave of full sotyll art.
Next was the mone, whech we clepe Diane,
With hir wellis nyne and the maydenes eke.
Next here was Saturne, with his bittir bane,
With his sekyll in hand. Many men him seke,
For non other cause but whan thei are seke,
Thei wene than it were of his venjaunce, 5
So cruell is his planete in his governaunce.
The auter next him was ful well arayed
On whech that Jubiter stode all on hye
With his wyfe Juno ful well i-porterayed.
Venus the fayre, sche stood next by,
With hir blynd sone Cupide, so wene I.
Thei calle him so that owe him servyse -
I owe him non, for maumentrye I despyse.
Mech more thing was there not to purpos nowe,
But thus mech I telle: there were grete offeryngis.
Thei spared neythir hors, ox, bere, ne kowe,
But sle and sle, these were her cryingis.
The bischoppis and the prestys, thei do her thingis;
The mynstrelles fayl not, for thei schul have wage;
Every man makyth noyse aftir his age.
The elde seyd thei sey nevyr in her dayes
Swech anothir sacryfyce as this emperour
Hath renewed in her tempyll in many maner wayes:
"The grete goddes all, thei send him honour,
Long lyffe and stable, make him a conqwerour."
The yong men daunsed joylyly on the ground -
There was revell among hem; lyghtly and round
Traced thei that tyme at that solempnité.
The noyse is herd aboute a myle on every syde.
Thus leve I hem in myrth these seres stoute;
Thus ar thei occupyed in mechil pryde.
The emperour himselve lokyth on every syde
Who do most reverens to his goddes there.
This made the Crysten to have ful grete fere.
Oure noble mayde, oure holy devoute qwene
To whom this story longyth as now only,
This holy virgine Kateryne, hir I mene,
Was thoo in silens sittyng in hir stody,
All contemplatyff, sperde fro hir meny;
The wordly welthis are nowe fro hir shake,
Aftir that tyme that Cryst hath hir thus take
To wyff or spouse, rede ryth as ye list.
This mayd was there and herd thoo this cry.
"O Jesu," seyd sche, "I wold now that I wist
What that it menyth, the noyse that is so hy."
Knytys were walkyng, thre or foure fast by,
Waytyng upon hir. Thus to hem seyd sche:
"This grete noyse, seres, what may it be?"
"Iwis, madame," thoo seyd a elde servaunt,
"The emperour Maxence this day was he bore;
He hath comaunded to eld man and to faunt
The elde rythes, the servises, to restore,
Whech to the goddes long and have do yore.
This is the cry, if ye will wet algate.
No man of lyve, pore ne of astate,
"Is not so hardy this mater to disobeye -
Thei schal be dede that ageyns it speke.
Kepe stille youre closet; there is no more to sey. 6
It is not oure powere his will for to breke.
Lete hem calle, lady, lete hem cry and creke.
Suffisith you if ye may lyve in pees.
The man is comorous, withouten ony lees,
"For he have made, if ye will leve me,
A strong decré whech he will we kepe,
That all sectes of his sect now shull be. 7
The childe anon as he gynnyth to crepe
Schal be tawth upon the goddes to clepe,
In peyne of deth the faderes shul him teche -
This herde I this day the grete bischop preche.
"Wherfore, madame, now is come that hour
That was thoo drede of youre frendys alle,
Whan that ye wold receyve no concelloure,
For no thing that men myght on you calle.
I am ful sory, for now are lyckly to falle
All tho myshappys whech were seyd before.
Avise you wele what ye wil do therfor."
Whan this mayd had herd these wordys alle,
Sche gan remembyr how oure Lady seyd
Whan sche passed fro hir, what schuld befalle.
Sche spake thus: "To yow I telle, my mayde,
Ye schalle hereaftir be ful sore afrayde
Of a enmy both to my Son and me."
At hir leve takyng swech wordis seyd sche,
Oure blyssyd Lady Mary, to this qwene.
"Therfor," this qwene thought, "now is the hour
Whech sche behestyd, now is it wel i-sene,
Ryth be the boldnes of this emperour
Whech ageyn oure Makere and Creatour
Thus boldly rysyth in destruccioun of His name
Whos wyffe I am and servaunt to His dame."
Thoo sche remembred what covenaunt that she made
Rith in hir baptim, whan she waschid was,
Eke in hir weddyng with behestis ful sadde,
That she schulde nevyr for more ne for las,
Thow sche were throwe in hote caudron of brasse,
Forsake hir love whech she had only chose.
Thoo wex she ruddy and fayre as a rose,
Rith in remembrauns of that swete spousayle
Whech that she caute be ledyng of Adriane.
It is so emprended within hir entrayle
Of wordly lustys there shall no fekill fane
Blow it awey 8; neythir Juno, Venus, ne Diane
Fro in hir hert this love thei shul not race.
Thus walkyd she forth softly than apace,
Ful sore astoyned what is hir best to doo.
If she holde silens than is she not trewe
Of hir behestis, rith so thoute she, loo;
The fayre ryng whech was sumwhat blewe
Whech was eke gove hir at hir weddyng newe
Sche thoo behelde, and seyd thus be hir one:
"Fy on the world, fy on crown and trone!
"I shal kepe that trewth whech that I made
Onto my husbond, thow I shuld be dede.
I shal the soner com to Him that me made,
For in this worlde is nouth but slepe and brede.
Allas that evyr ony lord or hede
Shuld thus boldly men dragge and drawe
Ageyns all treughth, ageyns a rithful lawe!
"Why sufferth my spouse now swech cursyd men
To breke His chirchis, His servauntis for to kyll?
O cause there is only, that wele I ken:
His servauntis here shul not have her will;
Who loveth this world, that love will him spill.
Tribulacion is ordeyned for His servauntis here
Whech to hevyn shul streyt fro the bere." 9
Thus walketh she forth, sobyrly apace,
Thorowe hir pales; she hath forgote all thing.
Thei folowe hir eke, the servauntis of that place,
Not many, but summe, for thei go to the kyng;
Thei wote not eke what she in hir goyng
Purposith to do, for betwix love and fere
Stakere the servauntis all that sche hath there.
The tempill gates so full of puple now be,
So ful repleschid no man may entere there.
And evyr onto the porters thus sayd she,
"Late us enter, late us oure erand bere
Onto the emperour, for and he wist what we were
He wold not suffyr us no while stand without.
We will him lerne sone, withouten doute,
"These solempnites bettir for to make,
Not to no vanité, to no presumpcioun,
But to His worchip that all thing dede make."
This was at that tyme hir peroracion.
Thoo mette she lordes of ful straunge nacioun
Whech had performed her offeryngis and i-doo
Forth to her innes thei dressyd hem to goo.
The emperoures sone cam with these lordis in fere,
But whan thei sey this lady so bryth and shene
Thei turned her jornay and with ful mere chere
Thus spake thei all full godly to the qwene:
"Madame," thei seyde, "the grete puple that ye sene
Are com fro fer with grete devocion.
Blame hem noght, thow thei wold have don. 10
"But we shall, lady, for youre reverence,
Turne with yow onto the tempill agayn.
We shall make space with strenght and resistence,
That ye shall enter, schortly for to seyn."
With mace and manace thei made bare the pleyn,
Till she was entrede rith to the hye autere.
Than seyd she swech wordis lich as ye shull here.
Thus she began and thus she spake to him:
"Both kend and curtesie wold teche us this,
To honour thi crown because of thi kyn,
And yet for thi degré mech more iwis.
Alle these shulde excite us thee for to blys
And for to loute with reverens, ne were o thing
Whech thu hast do agayns the grete kyng,
"Lorde of all lordes, Jesu Crist I mene:
Thu takyst here fro Him His hye honour
And gevest it to maumentis, as is wele sene,
Whech may neythir help thee ne eke socour
In non of thi causes, in no maner dolour. 11
But if thu wold leve this cursid ydolatrye
And know thi God that sitt above ful hye,
"Whech made the sune, sterres, and the mone,
Than wold we honour thee with dew servyse,
Knele down onto thee and oure homage ful sone
For to bryng onto thee as oure justyce.
But because ageyn Cryst thu makyst men to ryse
And worchip swech develles that be in helle,
Therfor, sothly, sire, I will thee telle,
"Oure servise will we for a tyme withdrawe
Rith fro thi persone till thou thee amende.
Turne fro this cursydnes, fro this wickyd lawe,
Knowe nowe thi makere that all thing can send,
Onto His byddyng loke thou condescende,
Than shall thu have more prosperité
Than evyr thou had yete, trost upon me.
"These Cristen men here, whech are i-drawe
To offyr to thin idolis magré her hede,
Agens all reson ageyns all the lawe,
Thu thretist hem with turment and with dede,
With bath of picth and beverych of lede.
I sorow for her sake; thei dare non othir doo.
If thei were stabill, thei shuld not werke so.
"Thi goddes are develes and thi prestis eke,
Deceyvores of the puple, rith for covetyse;
Thei wote as wele as I, thow men hem seke -
These maumentis, I mene - thei can not sitt ne ryse,
Thei ete not, thei drynke not in no maner wyse.
Mouth without spech, fote that may not goo,
Handes eke have thei and may no werke doo.
"Wherfor, turne thin herte fro this illusion,
Knowe thi Godde that made the and all thing for thee,
Be not unkend in thi condicion,
Ageyns thi makere, ageyn the Trinyté.
But if thu be amended, thu shall leve me,
Grete peynes God shall thee send,
Whech peynes shul nevyr have a ende."
The emperour behelde hir wordis and hir chere,
Wondiryng sore how she durst be so bolde,
Befor swech puple, rith in his presens there,
And not consyderyng the fest whech he had holde,
For that same tale whech sche hath now tolde
Durst no man telle but if he wold be dede.
Hir fayre coloure betwix qwite and rede
Whech shone ful bryth he gan to beholde,
Astoyned with hir beuté, party with hir plesauns. 12
Ful sobirly his harmes thoo gan he folde,
And thus he seyd with angry countenauns:
"Beware, good woman, of that grete venjauns
Whech oure goddes on her enmyes hath take.
Many a proude man ful low have thei shake.
"For but her mercy were more than her justice,
Ye shuld sone falle in that sory trappe
Whech thei have ordeynyd to thoo that hem despyce -
A woofull chaunce hafe thei and a sory happe.
Beware, systyr, that thei yow noght clappe
With her venjauns, ryght for youre blaspheme!
Ye speke of helle, ye speke also of hevyne,
"And thei may graunt yow bothe to your wage.
Kepe your tung clos, kepe your lyff on loft.
Ne were the reverens of your grete lynage,
Ye schuld not this nyght slepe, I trow, ryght soft.
Ye were wel worthy to be lyft on lofte
Ryght on a gybbet for your byttyr spech
With whech ye now ageyn oure goddis preche."
Thoo seyd the mayde with ful sad vysage:
"How be thei goddys, these maumentys that we see?
Rede in your boke, loke in her lynage,
Than schall thu know that erdely as we bee
Were thei sumtyme, for your Saturn, pardé,
Was sumtyme kyng, as bokes telle, of Crete,
And so was Jubiter, thus seyth youre poete.
"Because thei myght not bothe in that lond acorde,
Jubiter, the sun, made Saturn, his fader, to fle
Ryght into Ytale, your bokes wyll it recorde,
In whech tyme there thoo regned he
Janus ye call with dobyll face, pardé,
Because he lokyth to the elde yere and the new.
Than is this soth, than is this tale trew,
"That men thei were and are noght eterne.
How schuld thei be goddys whan thei were made?
It longyth to a godde to be sempyterne! 13
Ful falsly the puple ye deceyve and glade.
He is a Godd that may nevyr fayle ne fade,
He is a Godd that mad all thing of nowte,
He is a Godd of whom your goddys were wrowte."
The emperour thouth thoo bysyly in his mynde,
In worchep and strenght of his beleve,
Bothe with ensaumples of craft and of kynde,
His secte wyll he trew and stable preve.
"Mayde," he seyth, "I trow I shall you meve
Fro that ground that ye have newly take.
Lete youre wordis as for a while now slake,
"For I will preve now opynly first of alle
That youre sect, whech ye Cristen clepe,
May not stand, for it must nedis falle
Right for the impossibiles whech therin ye hepe.
Alle that I sey now loke that ye sadly repe.
How shulde a mayde in hir wombe bere
A child and she mayde as she was ere?
"This thing is contrarie, ye may se, to nature;
This thing is impossible onto scoles alle.
Remeveth youre hert, for I you ensure
In swech errour ye may so depe down falle
That thow ye aftir mercy cry and calle
We may not graunt you, because that oure lawe
Will condempne yow to be hange and drawe.
"Therfor chaunge youre feyth, I rede, and forsake
Swech maner opiniones that ilke man o lyve
As for heresies evyr more hath take.
Ye sey a childis blode with woundis fyve
Shuld washe fro every man and every wyve,
From every childe her synnes echon -
These fonned conceytes reson have non."
Unto these wordes whech sempt so wyse
Answerd the qwene with ful grete constauns:
"Sere emperour," sche seyd, "I wolde devyse
To prove onto you with grete circumstauns -
But that the tyme lettith us of swech daliauns -
That youre groundis are no thing trewe
Of youre beleve, neythir the elde ne the newe.
"Ye take the barke, whech is open to the yye,
Then ye fede you ryght in youre dotage.
The swete frute whech withinne doth lye,
Ye desyre it nought. Lo, swech is the wod rage
Of youre customes in all youre age:
The leves ye take, the frute leve ye stille.
More opynly my sentens declare I wille:
"Who sekith roses there no rose growe?
Who sekith grapes oute of the brere?
The hye very God, this may ye wel knowe,
Is not nowe visible among us here;
He is fer above, without any dwere,
Dwellyng in blysse with His servauntis alle.
Therfor, I sey yow, thow ye cry and calle
"Upon these stokkes to send yow good grace,
To send you of myschef relef and socour,
Levyth this wele, ye shal it nevyr purchase
Because ye forsake youre creatour,
Worchip creatures and geve hem honour
To whom ye shulde no swech honour geve.
Be this example I may than wele preve
"The rotyn barke of thingis visible here,
Whech ye se outwarde, this byte ye and knawe;
The swete frute, the solace eke so dere,
Whech schuld be the parfytnes of youre lawe,
Fro that swetnes ye youreselve withdrawe
With ful grete hert of cursyd obstinacy
Whech hath you brought in ful grete heresy.
"And as long as ye thus dullyd be
In this same rudnes of opynyon,
Shul ye nevyr, sekyrly, leve now me,
Of very treuth have the possession.
Therfor repent you of youre transgressioun,
Than are ye able to receyve the feyth.
This is the treuth, what evyr ony man seyth."
Thou myth a seyn at this tales ende
Many man there al othir wyse i-cheryde
Than thei were here 14; summe her browes gune bende
Rigth on thoo ydolis whech he had reryd.
For peyne and deth had hem so i-feryd
Befor this tyme, that in all her observauns
Onto the goddes thei made but feyned plesauns.
But now this lady with hir wordis swete
A newe lyth of grace onto her hertis all,
Whech befor her feyth thus had lete,
Hath brought in, for now thei gun to calle,
"Mercy Jesu, graunt us nomore to falle
Into swech errour, to swech apostasye."
This was her noyse and thus gune thei crye.
This sey the emperour and with ful hevy chere.
He gan to chaunge his coloure and his face.
"In evyl tyme," he thought, "I graunted here
Onto this mayde, whan sche cam to this place,
To sey this sermone with a sory grace. 15
Myn owne men, me thinkith, thei gyne despyse
Alle my goddes and all my sacryfyse.
"The othir seyde, whech thei Crysten calle,
Thei have caute boldnes, and that mervelously,
For in my presens thei have late down falle
Alle her offeryngis, and that sodenly."
Thus thought this man and eke ful besyly.
He than beheld the beuté of this mayde,
And than ryght thus onto hir he seyd:
"Mayde," he seyth, "here have we newly gunne
A blissyd sacryfyce onto oure goddys to make,
And ye ful onreverently ageyn oure god the sunne -
Whech every man for a god hath take -
Spend youre spech. But now I rede ye slake
Till that oure servyse endyd be this tide,
That tyme we will ye drawe you asyde.
"Apollo graunt that ye no venjauns have
For youre blaspheme newly here i-sowe!
He may you dampne and eke he may yow save -
Ye youreselve, I wote wele, this ye knowe.
Right for youre bewté aute ye stoupe ful lowe
To thanke him therof, thow there were not ellis; 16
Now are ye most, I trowe, of his rebellys."
"Whi shuld Apollo bere any deité,"
Seyd the mayd, that all men myth here,
"And is but servaunt to Goddis magesté,
With his bemes schynyng fayre and clere?
He walkith no cors, neythir farre ne nere,
But at the byddyng of his makere above,
Whom we are bownd only to drede and love.
"But traytouris are we the most part, dare I seyn,
And yete He suspendyth His grete venjauns.
A opyn example before yow will I leyn:
Ye be a lord of ful grete pusauns;
Ther is no swech betwix this and Fraunce,
For as I have lernyd of all the oryente,
Youre meny calle you kyng omnypotent.
"I sett caase nowe that ageyn youre regalye
Certeyn of youre men wyth treson wold ryse,
Despite youre degré, youre persone defye.
Shuld ye not than as a trewe justyce
Youre grete powere fully exercyse
To kyll thoo traytouris that thei leve nomore?
But ye dede thus ye shuld repent it sore!
"Right thus it semeth be oure creatour,
God of hevene that all made of nought.
Ye take awey fro Him that dew honour
That He shuld have, whech He ful dere bought
Whan that in erde bysyly oure helth He soughte.
This same honour geve ye to develes ymages,
Whech ye have sett here solemply on stages.
"Loke nowe youreselve in what ye are falle -
Traytouris are ye and as traytouris shuld ye brenne,
For other name will I you non calle
Onto that tyme that ye youre Lord kenne!
Lete all these vanytes fro youre brest renne,
Goode sere emperour, and turne to youre Lorde -
Than shul ye and I ful sone acorde."
Now is the emperour steyned more and more.
All her servyse as for that day is done;
This tormentith him in his hert ful sore,
For neythir to sonne, to Venus, ne to mone
Will no man lowte now and passed is the none.
Wherfor he thinkyth ryth thus in his herte:
"Thow that I ponysh this lady with peynes smert,
"Thow that I sle hir, strangill, or ellis brenne,
Yete shal hir doctrine no thing herby sees;
Wherfor I thinke a slyer wey to renne,
That hir purpos schal not thus encrese.
Ageyn oure goddes is she and ageyn oure pees.
Therfor with resones will we hir oppresse -
This hold I best ageyn hir sotylnes."
Therfor hath he nowe - and that in grete hast -
Clepid his counsell into a pryvy place.
With ful grete sadnes thoo gan he cast
How that he may fro this lady race
Hir newe oppynyon - wheythir with solace
Or ellis with peyne be best to procede.
His counsell seyd rith thus in that stede,
That he shall send aftir grete clerkis,
Lerned in gramer, rethoricke, and philosophie,
Whech have in sciens so sekir merkis
That no man ageyn hem may replye.
Thei shall sonest destroy this heresye
Of this same lady, thus seyd thei all.
Anon the emperour dede forth i-calle
Many messangeres, for letteris wille he sende
Thoroweout the lond of Cipre and Surré.
Alle thoo clerkys that will her lyvelode amende,
Thei must com nowe to this palustré,
Onto this place where this conflicte shal be.
The letteres are wryte nowe and sealed ech on;
The messageres in hast for these men are goon.
The emperour himselve, as of a specialté,
Sealed these letteres with a precious ryng,
Whech was i-grave with ful grete sotilté.
The sentens of the letteres whech that this kyng
Wrote at that tyme, if youre desyryng
Be forto lyst it, ye may here it sone:
"Maxence, the lorde, save sune and mone
"Most grettest in erde whech hath i-be,
Thre tymes consul in Rome, that cité hye,
Fader of the puple and to the deité
Of Jupiter the kyng of kynrod ful nye,
Sendith love and helth to all the clergye
Of Surré and Cipre and othir provincis all
Whech to his lordchip newly are falle.
"We will ye wyte, we send at this tyme
Onto youre Providens counsell to have.
We ax not of you nethir taske ne dyme,
But only oure feyth and oure sect to save,
For these Crysten folke make oure puple to rave
With sotill suasiones whech that thei use,
On whech sotiltees we oureselve muse.
"But most specialy a lady have we new i-caut,
Enforsed with eloquens mervelosly.
Mech of oure puple so hath sche taught
That fro oure feyth fle thei sodenly.
Thus party with witte, party nygromancy,
Sche pervertith oure lond in wondir wyse.
Therfor, we byd ye that are wyse,
"Ye hast now to Alisaundre for this same cause,
To loke if ye may this woman oppresse,
For this I telle you schortly in clause,
But she be ovyrcome with youre besynes,
All shul be Crysten, the more and the lesse,
And if ye convicte hir avaunsed schul ye be
With plenté of ryches, if ye trost me."
Thus are the letteres wretyn and i-goo.
The emperour is walkid forth with the mayd
Onto the pales with lordes many moo,
Whech was at that tyme ful wel arayd.
Many plesaunt wordis to hir he seyde,
And many grete behestis thoo he behyte,
To turne hir opinion yf that he myth.
He hite hir, if she wold to him consent,
To have ful powere of all maner thing,
More than any lord of his parlement,
For all men shuld bowe onto hir byddyng.
She shulde be qwene as he was kyng;
Hir ymage wold he sett in the merket place,
Whech shuld be like hir in bodye and in face,
And alle maner of men shull worchip geve
Onto that ymage as onto a goddesse.
Thei shal not chese, if that thei will leve,
Worchip shull thei hir both more and lesse.
That was his promysse, that with swech worthines
He will hir avaunce only if sche will forsake
Hir Cristen feyth and his feyth now take.
But all these promissis sett sche at nought,
This blessyd lady, ryth for Crystes sake.
This same vers was thoo in hir thought
Whech oure Lady hirselve gan make:
"Thei that are proud, God will hem forsake,
Meke He will lift for her mekenes."
Than seyd she to the emperour with sadnes,
"All this world have I, for my Lordys love,
Jhesu I mene, forsake forevyre more.
There shall no mene of drede ne of love
Put myn hert fro that grete tresore;
It shall ly full stille there as a good store
Till that I dey and yelde up my goost
Onto that Lord whom I love most.
"But sith that thi goddis of swech myth be
As thu hast pronounced here in this place,
Late hem take venjaunce nowe upon me -
If that thei may - late hem my body race.
Her myght is nought, ne nought is her grace;
Therfor I despice hem as thei stand a rowe,
For fendis are thei - ful well that I knowe!
"And, sere, to you I will touch anothir thing:
I wole ye shull encline all youre entente
To herkyne my wordis and my talkyng.
It is not unknowen to all the Orient
That both be descens and be testament
This cité is myn as for heritage
To whech ye have made nowe this pilgrimage.
"Sith ye are kyng and rythwisnes shuld kepe,
Whi make ye swech mastries in otheris mennes londe,
Compell my tenauntis, thow thei sore wepe,
To go with her offeryngis rith in her hondis,
With trumpes and taburs befor you to stonde,
Withoute my leve, withoute my licence?
This is wronge to me and to God offence!
"If yowre goddis teche you for to do thys synne,
Than are they unryghtfull in her comaundment.
If ye ageyn her byddyng thus wil begynne,
Than do ye wronge ageyn her intent.
On what maner wise ye make youre went,
I wyl not tary you with no tales long,
But thus I conclude - that ye do me wrong!"
Than was the emperour ful of malencolye.
He myght no lenger suffyr hir in his presens.
To a knyght he commawnded that stod fast by
He shal take thys lady and lede hir thens,
Put hir in prison for hir offence,
Loke he kepe hir so she go not awey -
For if that she doo full horrybyly shall he dey.
Gladly and jocundly with the knyght she goo,
As a spowse to chambre for hir Lordis love,
Nothyng dismayd, nothyng is she wroth:
Thus can oure Lord the paciens prove
Of hem that are chosyn to dwelle all above
In hevyn in His presens. But thus I lett hir lye,
And forth I shall telle of thys story.
Whyll Kateryne is in prison thus i-closyd
The emperowr is rydyn into the lond
For certeyn causes; as it is supposed,
It was for brekyng of a certen bond
Betwyx too cites. As I undyrstond,
He rode to sesse the sisme that was new begun;
Iche of hem of othyr had spent many a gonne.
But he hath made pece and his jornay is sped.
He is cum home now to Alisaundyr ageyn.
The messangeres that he sent eke thei hafe led
All theys clerkis to Alisaundre eke certeyn.
Thus be they cum both, shortly to seyn,
The emperour and the clerkis thus mete in fere;
A cowncell is sett now of lordis that were there.
The philosopheres are enterd into the same cowncell
To wete why the emperour for hem hath sent.
There was a fayre syght, withowtyn ony fayll,
For owt of the costes of all the Orient
Are theys maystires chose ryght for thys entent:
To conquer thys lady be philosofie.
The nombre of hem, if I shuld not lye,
Myn auctour seyth was fyfty evyn,
Lernyd men in arte and in arsmetrike,
In rethorike, gramer, and all the Sciens Sevyn.
In all the world were non hem lyke:
They had stodyed the grownd of all musike.
The emperour is ful glad now of her cunnyng.
Thus seyd he to hem at her enteryng:
"Maysteres, we sent for yow for thys matere:
We hafe here a mayde whyche with obstinacye
Reneyhithe owre lawes whyche we use here,
For she is falle into that cursyd heresye
Whyche the Crysten clepeth, full of ypocrisye.
Sche eke so depe is into thys errowr falle
That all owre goddis devylles dothe she calle.
"And I suppose veryly ye teche but trewth,
Because that ye be so grete lernyd men.
To sle so yong a lady me thynketh rewthe;
Therfor, the ryght wey I wyll ye hir kene,
To converte hir to owre lawe, ellys I must hir brenne.
Thys is the cause why I sent for yowe.
Go cast yowre wyttes in the best maner now
"How ye wyll procede, for she shall cum anon.
Hir answeres are sly; grete is hir lernyng.
I make yow sekyr, ye shall not hens gon
Onto that tyme that ye hir bryng
Into the same feyth whych hir fadyr the kyng
Lyved all his lyf and hir modyr also:
Thys is the matere whyche I wyll hafe do."
On answerd for all, and thus spake he:
"We wene here is gadered swyche a cumpanye
In all thys world shuld not a man fynd three
So wyse, so studyous in philosofye.
But ovyr all theys maystires Ariott is most worthy.
He nedith not his labowr on a woman spend!
He shall unto hir but his disciples send,
"And if she conclude hem be auctorité,
Or ellys be reson, leve me full wele,
I wyll sey than that a goddes is she
And most worthy to be sett on the whele
Of naturall sciens. But I cannot fele
In no maner that a woman shuld cum therto.
I hafe not hard speke that ony woman dyde so."
Aftyr thys sermonyng untyl the next day,
The emperour comawnded knytes hem to chere,
To lede hem to her innes with full good aray -
In specyall of bokes and swyche othyr gere
As longith onto men that swyche sciens lere.
Thus leve I hem stylle in thowghtfull besynes,
And Kateryne, oure maydyn, in prison and distres.
The othyr day is cum, but the emperour thowght
To assay himselfe with his pryvy councele
For to conquer hir - but it avayleth nowght,
For whan most nede is, his resonys wyll whayle,
So wele can owre mayd hir proporcyons rayle.
Lordes were there many thoo in presence,
Statly, manfull, and of grete exspence.
The Kyng of Ermenye was tho in that place
Where she was opposed of hir beleve;
So was the Kyng of Mede, a fayre man of face;
The Kyng eke of Macedon, whyche made many a preve
Ageyn thys lady but he cowde hir not mend;
The Provoste of Perse was there also,
With bischoppis and lordys many moo.
They made her resones but thei avayled nowght.
Fyrst seyd the emperowr ryght thus to thys may:
"Myn owyn systir, hedyr I hafe yow browte
Befor my specyall frendis thys day
To se whedyr ye wyll stylle in your old lay
Held your perseveraunce or ellys consent to us
And reney for evyr that traytour Jesus,
"To turn to Apollo, Venus, and Minerve,
For your prison shuld cause yow, I suppose,
To chaunge your lyfe, leste that ye sterve,
For of all maydenes, ye be the rose,
And to maydens it longeth to be led with glose.
Lat se now telle how ye avised be."
Onto theys wordis thus answerd she:
"A love hafe I, syr, whyche lykyth me so
That all worldly delyte to me is but peyn
And all worldly joye to me is but wo,
If I very trewthe to yow shuld seyn.
Therfor know thys: for a certen
I wyll nevyr chaunge whyll I hafe lyfe;
I shal be evyr to Him trewe spowse and wyfe."
Thoo seyd the emperour, "Than is all nowt
That we with oure wyttes hafe laboured yow to safe.
Turn yowre wordis, turn eke yowre thowght,
Or ellys swyche ende must ye now hafe
As longeth to traytours that thus wyll raffe.
Avise yow of two thyngis whyche ye wyll take:
Ethyr shall ye dye or yowre lawe forsake."
And eke the grete Kyng of Armenye,
Eem to Kateryne he was, as I wene,
"Cosyn," he seyd, "leve thys heresye.
Thynk of your kynrode, both kyng and qwene:
Was nevyr non of them swych thyng wold susteyn.
Alas! Why, woman, why, dyspyse ye Saturne?
He may and he wyll into a ston yow turn!"
The Kyng of Mede, whyche sat thoo besyd,
In owre Lord Jhesu he put swyche blame:
"Your God Cryst," he seyd, "is know full wyd
That He was a wyche and so was His dame,
And the grettest in wycchecrafte as is the fame.
Fye on swyche wysdam! Fye on swyche feyth!
Thys same recorde all the world seyth."
Anothir thyng was there, and he hir thus reprevyd:
She stode in thys mater, he seyd, but alone.
There is non but she that in Cryst levyd.
"Loke now," he seyd, "whedir o persone
Is more worthy to be levyd than we ichone:
Reson wyll conclude that where multitude is
There is the trewthe - a man may not mys."
The Kyng of Macedoyne, Syr Caspanus,
Onto the lady full sobyrly thus sayd:
"Yowre God, yowre Lord, whyche ye calle Jesus,
As ye sayd He was bore of a mayde,
But why sufferd He to be arayed
Of His owyn servauntis so as He was?
And a wyse lord had stond in that case,
"He wold have hanged hem of very justyce!"
Thus seyd the byschoppis, thus seyd they all,
Onto thys lady in her best wyse,
And with besynes sore on hir they calle
And she fro thys vanité nedis muste falle
And make of hir enmyes hir frendis dere.
Than spake thys lady, ryght as ye shall here:
"Syr Emperour," seyd she, "I hafe or thys
Onto yowre reverens declared ful wele
Why my Lord Jhesu of servauntis His
Wold suffyr all thys peyn every dele,
But of my feyth nothyng ye fele,
So are ye hardyd with obstinacye.
Therfor hold I nowe but a grete folye
"Youre demonstraciounes for to declare.
But thus myche I say to yow everychon:
Yowre mahowude of whyche ye make swyche fare
Shall not save yow whan ye shall gon
Down into peynes, hevy as stone.
He may not deliver himsefe from that peyne
Where he is bownd with many a cheyn.
"But wycche was he nevyr, my Lord,
Ne His blyssed modyr Mary, that may,
He was God and man as bokes record,
And all tho myrakyls were put in asay
Be His mortayll enmes with full gret afray
And evyr were thei fownde trew and stedfast.
Therfor, ley down that orible blaste
"Of your cursyd tungis, ye lordis, I yow praye.
Berke now namore ageyn that holy name,
For ye shall sumtyme se that day
Ye shall for thys berkyng be put onto blame.
Alas that ony wrechys shuld defame
So hyghe a Lord, so grete a dignité,
To Whome mote nede bowe every kne!"
Than spake the Provost of Perse full sone:
"Sende aftir theys clerkis, syr, and let hem sey;
They can owre feythe, they wote what is to done.
Lat hir beleve hem or ellys shall she deye!
She shall chese on, there is non othyr weye.
With thys long clateryng, tyme lese we here.
They wyll oppose hir in othyr manere."
The phylosophers are enterd to the councell.
The emperowr seyd thus: "Thys is the howr
In whyche we shall se if conyng wyll avaylle.
Therfor, maysters, do now yowre labowre,
For ye muste defende us from thys scharp schowre
With whyche we are haylyd now on every syde;
But ife ye spede owre feyth wyll sone slyde."
They answerd ageyn: thei seyd they had skorne
That so many men ageyn a mayden yinge
Shuld now dispute, for he is not borne
In erde as yete that durst stere ony thyng
Ageyn her conclusyones, neythir duke ne kyng.
Swyche grete rowse was made tho in that place:
"Lete hir cum," they seyd, "lete us se hir face."
But whyll they were karpyng in thys matere,
A knyght is gun to hir in prison in haste,
Warnyng hir as a gentyll officere,
In what manere the emperour will hir ataste.
What nedyth now moo wordys for to waste?
The lady seyd that it was glad tydyng;
There cowde no man gladdere to hir bryng.
Thoo fell sche down plat, all in a traunce,
Commendyng hir cause ryght onto Godd alone:
"Graunt me," sche sayde, "Lord, perseveraunce,
To serve Thi Godhed whech syttyth in trone,
Of whech Godhed Thi Sone, the secunde persone,
Deyd in erde for synne of all mankynde,
Whech onto Him ful ofte He fynt onkynde.
"Thou graunt me, Lord, this day eloquens
To safe Thi feyth ryght as Thu best can.
Suffyr not these clerkys to make resistens
Ageyn that doctrine whech Thu, God and man,
Here in this worlde with woundis blew and wan
Confermed thus. Geve me, Lord, that Gost
Whech can put down soone all worldly booste,
"And as Thu grauntyd to Thin apostles here -
Whan thei schuld stande befor prynce or kyng,
Thu sayd to hem thei schuld not be in dwere
What thei schuld speke, neyther to elde ne yyng,
For Thu shuld graunte hem wytt in answeryng
Ageyn whech there schuld no man replye,
Neyther of the secte of hethen ne of heresye -
"Ryght so graunt now to me, Thi servaunt here,
That I hafe strength Thi cause for to defende,
That I may preve be resons scharpe and clere
Thi chyrches feyth, for whech Thu kan descende
Evene fro hevyn, oure maners to amende.
This pray I Thee, put this in my breest,
As Thu art God and man, bothe kyng and preest.
"Thu art my conyng, Thu art my hardynesse,
Thu art all in Whom oonly I trost.
There comth no vertew but of Thi worthinesse. 17
Let not Thi powere as this day be lost.
Thu makyst all thing, bothe the hete and the frost,
Wherfore, I pray, Lord, thow I a woman be,
Yet for Thi worchepe yette so enforce me
"That I may speke wordys to Thi plesaunce,
As Thu graunted Ester to plese hir Assuere,
To leve his stately solemne contenaunce
And spek to hir wordys of goodely chere,
So graunt me now, Lord, Thi servaunt here,
That I may plese and plete in Thi cause:
This is the sentens that I pray, in clause."
Whan that this lady had made hir oryson,
There cam an aungell glydyng down fro hevene,
With mervelous noys cam he that tyme down,
As bryth he semyd, as it were the levene.
Alle the prison, whech had voutes sevene,
Was lyght that tyme ryght of his presence.
The derke corneres coude make noo resistens,
And sche myght not susteyn that vysyoun,
So was sche ravyschyd with that new lyght;
Ryght with his comyng sche fell sone down.
The aungell comforted hir and bad hir be lyght:
"Drede noght," he seyth, "thow that I be bryght.
I am a servaunt bothe onto Godd and to yow,
And for your comforte fro hevyn cam I now.
"My Lord, your spouse, be me greteth yow wele.
For very lofe this message now He sent:
He comaunded yow to drede nevyre a dele
Of theyse clerkys; ye schal not be circumvent.
Ye schall conceyve full clerly her entent
And yet moreovyre thei schul hafe no powere
For to conclude yow now, in noo manere.
"But your powere schal be ovyre hem more large,
For ye schall convycte hem with grete auctorite.
Ye schall lede hem onto the Peteres barge,
Whych fygureth oure feyth, as seyth dyvynyté,
And not only thus, but so devoute schul thei be,
That as martyres for Cryst thei schul deye.
This same prophecye whech I to yow seye
"Is determynde above be Goddis provydens.
These clerkys schul now despyce her bokys alle,
In whech thei hafe had a full grete confidens;
Alle her grete trost now schall fro hem falle
With whech thei hauntyd her goddys for to calle. 18
This schall oure Lorde do, lady, be youre laboure.
Ryse up now and thank youre Savyoure.
"And ye youreself, aftyr that thei be dede,
Schul suffyr for Him mech more thinge
Than I hafe leysere to tell now in this stede.
But of thus mych I geve full warnyng:
Ye schall make the qween for to forsake hir kyng
For Crystys love and dey soo in hir blode;
Ye schul be cause, lady, of all these werkys goode.
"Geve credens to me as to a trew messagere
And as no feyned spyryte with dobylnesse;
My name is Mychael, if ye wyll it here,
Archaungell of hevyn, whech hath that besynesse
That all sowles, the more and eke the lesse,
That schall to blysse, I peyse all be wyght,
Wheythyr in goodeness thei be hevy or lyght.
"This is myn offyce, leve me, lady, wele.
There is a sete ordeyned in hevyn above
For yow, lady, aftyr your scharpe whele
Whech ye schall suffyr for your spouses love.
Was nevyr no mayde to swech sete myght prove,
Safe Mary alone, Crystes modyr dere.
Farewell now, lady, and beth of ryght goode chere."
Thus was sche comforted and left all that nyght
In prison stylle, in swete oryson alone.
The savour abode and sumwhat of the lyght
Aftyr the tyme that the aungell was gone.
He hath made hir hardy and stable as the stone;
There schall noo peyn hir hert now remeve
Fro the feyth ne fro hir beleve.
Now is the cité for to se this mayde
Gadered in fere with noyse and rumour.
Every man there aftyr his cunnyng sayde,
"Now is come the day and eke the houre
In whech there shall fall full grete honoure
On summe party, or ellys full grete schame."
And because this lady was of so grete fame
Every man is bysy to stand that tyme ny,
That he myght here and se all that was doo.
The emperour is sette, the lordes sytt fast by;
The clerkys eke were sette be too and too.
The may is sette in a sete also,
Ryght be hirself, for sche is left alone.
The emperour sittyng all hye in his trone,
Thus exorted he these noble clerkys alle:
"Maysters," he seyth, "here is this concionatrix,
Here is the mayde on whom we dyd so calle,
Here is the new dyvynoure, here is the new Ulix,
Here is sche whos errour is so fix
And so sore glewyd sche wyl not fro it remeve!
Therfore, youre schaftys on hir now must ye preve."
Than made the mayde onto the emperour
A full straunge chalenge, seying on this wyse:
"Onto these clerkys whych are here this hour
Gadered togedyr befor yow as justise
Ye hafe graunted a guerdon of grete apryse
If that thei convicte me; to me graunte ye noon.
Wherfore, me thinkyth all wrong hafe ye goon.
"But wold ye graunt now to my guerdon
That if I spede and convicte hem all o rowe,
That ye schall leve your maumentrye ful sone,
And my Lord Jhesu as for your Godd to know,
Than wold I sey with wordys meke and lowe
That ye were juge, juste man and trewe."
With these wordes the emperour chaunged hewe.
He seyd unto hir with ful stout cuntenaunce:
"What hast thu to do of oure reward now? 19
Defende thi feyth with all the circumstauns
That thu can; think it schall be lytyll enow.
Lett be, damysell, make it not so towe.
Entermet thee where thu hast to done;
If thu hafe wytte it wylle be sene ful sone."
Thoo spake the mayde onto the clerkys alle:
"Syth ye be gadered now into this place,
Upon me only for to crye and calle,
With youre argumentis to loke if ye may chase
My wytt, my mynde, fro that new purchase
Whech I hafe wunne, I mene fro Crysten feyth,
Lette se what ony of yow to me seyth."
Thoo spake a phylosophre of full grete age,
An honourable man, Amphos of Athene:
"We are come," he seyth, "at the emperoures wage,
For a mayde, he wrote, of yerys eytene -
That same is ye, pleynly, as I wene.
But wherfore we come as yet know we not now -
Of that matere the answere lythe in yow.
"Syth ye be causere than of this afray,
Sey ye your growndis and we schull purveye
Answeres therto or we goo hens this day.
We cast us sekyre newly yow to conveye
Onto that feyth whech ye dyd reneye
Be wykkyd counsayle. Therfore, fyrst schall ye
Speke in this matere and than answere we."
The mayde stode up and with full goode chere
Sche crossed hir heed, hir mouth, and hir breeste,
Than spake sche to hem ryght as ye schall here:
"In me it lyghte at the begynnyng of this feest
To pronounce fyrst, thow that I be leest
And most unworthy. But oure Lorde Jhesu,
Blessyd be He, syth tyme that I Him knew,
"I hafe left all my auctoures olde,
I fonde noo frute in hem but eloquens.
My bokes be go, goven or elles solde.
Farwell Arystotyll, for full grete expens
Made my fadyr and had full grete diligens
To lerne me thi sotill bokes alle,
Of dyverse names as thu ded hem calle.
"Of Omere eke hafe I take my leve,
With his fayre termes in vers and eke in prose
Ful erly sat I and eke full late at eve
To lerne the texte and to lern the glose -
I hafe chose bettyr, treuly, I not suppose
But wote full well. Farwell eke Ovyde;
Thou loved full wele blynd Venus and Cupyde.
"I hafe take leve of Esculape and Galyene
And of all her pryvy sergyng of nature.
I hafe a lessoun mech trewere to susteyne
And more directe to know creature. 20
Ye, Plato bokes eke I yow ensure
We hafe do now, we schall nevyr more mete,
Ne him Phylystyoun, bothe phylosophyre and poete.
"Behelde, ye maystrys, alle these mennys werkys
Have I stodyed and lerned full besyly.
Thei were red me of full sotell clerkys;
There lyve noo bettyr at this day hardyly.
And in these bokes no othyr thing fond I
But vanyté or thing that schall not lest.
And evyr me thowte that swech lernyng was best
"That tretyth of thing whech evyr schall endure.
Swech thing lerne I now, turned to Criste Jhesu:
I lerne how Godd is Lord of creature;
I lerne how He the hevyn whyght and blew,
The watyr, the fyyre, the erde or that it grew,
Made all of noght-this is now my lernyng.
I lerne also that He, a chyld full yyng,
"Was bore in erde of Mary, and sche a mayde,
Grew onto manhode to thirti wyntyr and thre,
And than wylfully, as the prophetys sayde,
For synne of man hyng upon a tre.
Many miracles in erde thoo dyd He
Whyll He went here, this I yow ensure;
By dyvers werkys know was sundry nature:
"That He was Godd He schewyd be werkis grete,
For all the elementys obeyd his comaundment.
That He was man ful esy is to trete:
Thei sey and felt Him that with Him were present.
I tell yow pleynly now all myn entent.
This is my scole, this is my philosophye;
Thys is the sciens I hope schall nevyr lye;
"Thys is my feyth; this is my victorye.
What evyr men sey, a Godd must we hafe,
Above all men that evyr reygned erdely,
Most sofren Lord whos powere may all safe.
Loke on your goddys, how thei tumbyll and wafe
Ryght whan men swepe hem, so lytyll is her myght.
Wype ye that blyndenesse whech hath hyllyd your syght,
"For Cryst seyd so whan He the Gospell sew:
'Thei that se,' He seyth, 'schall be blynde,
And thei that nevyr of My vertew knew,
Ful truly wyll thei hafe Me in her mynde.'
But pull we the frute owte of the rynde
To tell yow platly what this sentens is:
The seeyng men betokne yow, iwys,
"For ye can se all thing that to nature
Perteyneth, be crafte whech ye of bokes hafe.
But your savacyon, that I yow ensure,
Consyder ye nowte, ne how ye may be safe.
Youre blasyng scyens make yow so to rafe
That endles treuthe can ye nevyre more fynde.
This same errour is that makyth yow blynde.
"But in His name whom I now rehers,
I schal be strong all materes to conclude.
There schall no man have myght me to reverse,
Thow ye bryng a grettere multitude.
He can make wyttys that be ful dull and rude
To schyne with sciens on the freschest wyse,
My Lord Jhesu, and foles ofte He make wyse."
Whan this mayde of this fayre processe
Had made a hende, there stode up thoo a man
Of fers corage, thow it were wodeness,
Maystir Astenes so thei called him than;
For very angyr of coloure was he wan.
With cryyng voyse, he fyllyd thoo the place.
Thus spak he than: "Alas what is oure grace?
"Ye of Rome, lordes and citeceyns alle,
Ye bloode ryall, ye men of nobylnesse,
What cause schul men hafe yow to calle
Wyse men endewyd with sobyrnesse?
If wysdam were with yow, than wold I gesse
Ye schuld not suffyr these Crysten folke here
Reprove oure goddys with swech veniable manere.
"For we were called be oure emperour,
Fadyr and keper ful gracyous of this londe,
To convicte, he seyd, here a new errour-
Whech is not new ye may well undyrstonde.
Many of hem hafe I brent with bronde
Of these Crysten, ryght for this entent:
That thei call feyth, we calle delyrament.
"Oure goddys may sey that we be onkynde,
For all the benefetis that thei to us sende
We to suffyr the yyngth of womankynde
Thus openly Cryst for to commende
And all His tresoun with coloures to defende,
Oure goddys eke develes for to calle,
This suffyr we, and that is werst of alle.
"Wherfore, syre kyng, beware of here offens -
Suffyr now this lady no lengere for to speke.
These lewyd folk that lysten with gret sylence,
With apparent resons sche schall sone i-cheke
That fro her feyth sche schall sone hem breke.
Thei come nevyr home, thow we wold hem drawe.
To suffyr swech prechouris, it is ageyn oure lawe.
"We cam now hedyr to here summe novelté,
And sche begynnyth with Jhesu Nazareth,
Cryst thei call Him and prophete of Galilé,
Sche callyth him Lorde of wynde and of breth,
Of erde, of watyr, of londe, and of heth.
This elde errour know we well enow:
I hafe myselfe convicte many of yow -
"Of your secte, I mene. How may ye for schame
Reherse of Jhesu that grete dobylnesse?
Summe men seyn that He had a dame
Whech was a mayde in very sothfastenesse
Aftyr the tyme that sche had suffred dystresse
Of chyldbyrth: this know all men a lye -
This lewyd doctrine is not worth a flye!
"Ye magnyfye Him for this cause alsoo:
Ye sey He roos fro deth to lyffe ageyn,
But of His disciples in sekyrnesse were there too
Whech went to the grave, as I herde Jewys seyn.
Thei stole the body ful pryvyly in a reyn,
And than seyd thei her mayster was i-goo
Be very myracle, and thus seyd many moo."
Onto these wordes, onto this blaspheme,
Answerd the mayde, with most goodely chere.
Sche seyd thus: "At my Lord of hevene
Toke I begynnyng of my conflycte here. 21
A makere is there withouten any dwere
Ovyr all this worlde whech was or it began.
For, as I hafe provyd, Jubiter was but a man;
"No more was Saturn, whech his fadyr is.
Than syth thei were men and toke here begynnyng,
Than must we ferther procede now, iwys,
To seke Him whech befor this thing
Was evyr in heven eterne regnyng.
This same is Godd of whom now I preche,
Ageyn all synnys most sovereyn noted leche,
"Spryng of all thing that evyr begynnyng hadde,
So is He called, in whom all thing is eke,
Of whom all good thing and no thing badde
Procedyth newly bothe be day and be weke,
Be whom all creatures be thei wylde or meke
Are conserved, at Him thus I began -
But if I dede, I were no wyse woman.
"Make no comparison betwyx your godd and myn,
For my Godd hath made all thing of nowte,
Eke youre goddis are not so goode as swyn -
Thei can not gruntyn whan hem ayleth owte!
As sore as ye in this matere hafe I sowte;
I fonde no trewth, therfore fro yow I flede.
In trewer weyes ful sykir am I lede."
Thys man was thoo of these resones grete
So troubled, he qwok betwyx ire and drede.
Lett othir men now in this matere trete,
For he hath done, he hath sowe his sede,
A sikyr helpe whan there cometh grete nede.
But God wold hafe him turned in this manere -
His mervelous menes schul we nevyre lere.
Anothyr clerk stode up thoo in hast.
Onto the mayde he made swech evydens:
"All your wordes hafe ye not spent in waste.
I undyrstand full wele your grete eloquens.
Ageyn oure goddis ye make this defens:
Ye sey her ymages whech we worchep here
May not fele, ne hafe no powere.
"Thys wote I wele - thei be but figures
Representyng othir manere thing.
Lych to these fayre rych sepulcures
Whech betokyn in her representyng
That there is byryed duke or ellys kyng,
So are these ymages toknes of goddis oure
To whom we geve with hert gret honoure
"Not for her cause but for significacyoun
Of the worthy whom thei represent.
Therfor I answere to your replicacyoun,
Servyng sumwhat now youre entent:
Thei that made hem nevyr othir wyse ment
To sett hem up but for this cause only -
That to hyere devocyoun men schuld go therby." 22
Than seyde the mayde, "I wold ye schuld now schew
Of all these goddys whech that worthyest be.
For as thei stande in your temple o rewe
I can perceyve in hem no dyvynyté
More in on than othyr, for your Saturn, pardé,
Whyl that he lyved was a fals traytoure -
Homycyde cruell, debatere and robboure.
"His wyffe was a woman nye of that same vyce:
Veniable, dispytous, chydere every tyde,
Of hir condycyon unstable and ful nyce.
There myght no man with hir no whyle abyde -
Hir owyn chyldren kyllyd sche be hir syde.
Jubiter was gelt of his fadyr Saturn, eke,
Banyched his lond, his herborow gan he seke.
"His owyn syster Jubiter defouled thoo.
His fadyr aftyr banychid he owte of londe.
These are the dedys of your goddys, loo!
How may your lawe eternaly thus stonde
Whan it is bylyd on so brytyll bonde?
Pluto was ravyscere of maydenes ful violentt;
Venus was lecherows and also violent.
"Vulcane was cruell and yet was he cokholde;
How schuld swech persones to ony Godhed prove!
Summe are yong, summe of hem are olde.
Cupyde encresyth in men that unclene love.
These grete vylonyes can ye nevyr fro hem schove.
Of wychcraft nooted was your godd Mercurye,
Maystir of charmes and of swech sorcerye.
"Youre godd Apollo, whan he was drunk of wyne
Than wold he jangyll in manere of prophecye,
Ful sotyll lesyngys wold he thoo dyvyne
To hem that knew not his trescerye.
Sumetyme soth sawed, sumetyme dyd he lye.
These are your goddys whech that ye honoure -
Alle to vyces sett was her laboure.
"Youre offeryngis, eke, thei be abhominable:
To summe goddys offyr ye swynys dunge;
There comth noo mete befor yow at the table
Tyll youre godd hath awey the tunge. 23
If all youre harlotrye thus openly were i-runge
It wolde schame yow. Therfor, ye that be wyse
Fle this folye, drede the hye justyse."
Thoo stode the man, afrayd as owte of mynde.
He cowde not speke to hir o word moo.
Oure blessed Lord his hert gan thoo bynde
Onto His servyce; therfore, let him goo
Sitt and rest, as for that tyme with woo.
Thus schull thei stynt whan God wyl sey "pees";
Of all wysdam He can sone make relees.
Anothyr clerke thouth deppere to procede.
He stode up thoo and this was his sentens:
"Of oure goddys ye schew the schamful dede;
Nothyng speke ye of her good provydens.
We hafe in this matere ful mysty intellygens
Whech may not be comyn to every man,
But to yow, lady, so now as I can,
"Wyl I that comown, ryght for this entent:
Because yourselve of wytt sotyll be
And for these lordes eke that be present,
These same motyves at this tyme meve me,
For I wyll tell now the most pryvy secré
Whech that we have in oure philosophye
Towchyng the goddys and her progenye.
"Saturne the fyrst, whom ye so dyspreve,
Him take we for tyme because he is olde,
And tyme, pardé, aftyr oure beleve,
As for a godd amongis us now is holde.
Jubiter the kyng, as the treuth is tolde,
He is take for fyre, and Juno eke his wyffe,
Sche is take for eyre that us gevyth lyffe.
"Thus are oure goddys in manere of allegorye
Resemble to natures whech that be eterne.
Than is oure feyth groundyd on no lye
But on swech thing whech is sempyterne.
Myn owne lady, ye sowt not well this herne
Whan ye blasphemyd oure goddys all o rowe.
I tell yow this; I wold all men it knowe."
The lady answerd with sad avysement.
Sche seyd sche know his circumlocucyoun;
The Kyng of Thebes a book had hir sent
In whech sche fonde swech exposicyoun,
But sche halt it now but for abusyoun.
Yet these resones whech the man had schewyd
Be very resoun sche wyll prove hem lewyd.
For at the tale whech this man had tolde
Gladed the emperour, tremelyng evyn for joye.
To speke than was he wax ful bolde:
"Clerke," he seyd, "Saturne kepe thee fro noye!
I trost this ladye wyll bere hir now more koye.
What sey ye mayde - where is youre answere?
If ye can owte, lete us now it lere."
The mayde seyd onto the mayster sone,
"Your schamful doctrine wold ye ful fayn hyde
With fygure and coloure, as ye are wone to done, 24
But ye must ley these exposicyouns asyde.
Are not these planetys knowyn wondyr wyde?
May we not se hem whan thei schyne so clere -
The sune, the mone, whych schyne onto us here?
"Thys wote we wele that thei be no men -
Why are thei grave thus of ston and of tre?
This errour is ful esy for to ken:
That men are thei not ne nevyr more schal be.
In these figures than full fowle erre ye;
Ye worchep the schadow and leve the substauns.
Here is in yow a full grete varyauns.
"Eke the planetys whech schyne thus above,
Thow thei schuld stand evyr and be eterne
Yet can ye not with youre bokes prove
That thei hafe evyr before be sempiterne.
If phylosophye were loked in his pryvy herne,
Ye schuld fynde there that planetys all be made. 25
What wyl ye ferther in this matere wade?
"If thei be made, than are thei creatures,
And he that made hem, he is Godd alone,
Ley hem in watyr all your mysty figures,
For nowt are thei, neyther the stok ne stone.
Onto that hye God loke ye make youre mone;
Prey Him to send you of errour repentauns,
Than have ye of treuth the very assurauns."
The phylosophres merveylyd of this answere,
Of hir wytt and of hir eloquens.
Thei that now in presens are there
Herd nevyr before swech manere sentens -
Sche can al thing of very experiens.
A mastere stode up and spake thoo to hem alle:
"I wold a supposyd," he seyd, "that the hevyn schuld falle
"Rathere than woman swech sciens schuld atame.
Lete us leve, felawes, now oure elde scole,
Geve entendauns at this tyme to this dame,
For in this worlde in cunnyng stand sche sole.
All oure lernyng wyll turne us to dole
But if we folow as mech as we may
To lerne the treuth whech schall lestyn ay.
"Wherfore lete us lerne now of this mayde
What that God is whech made thus all thing.
With this matere hafe I be oft dysmayde,
For I cowde nevyr with naturall arguyng
Dyvyne so fere, and evyr oure stodyyng
Hath be therto ful directe, as me semeth.
I wyl beleve now as this lady demeth."
Thus is consentyd now all the cumpanye.
Thei wyll lere of hir, thei sey plat and pleyn,
For it is above alle her phylosophye
What Lorde He is that made the wynde and reyne.
That there is swech on can thei wele i-seyne,
But what He is or what is His name
This desyre thei to lerne now of this dame.
The mayde eke was as glad as thei
To enforme hem in this same matere.
Onto these men ful sadly gan sche sey,
"Syth that ye take the forme now of scolere,
Ye are the redyere these mysteries for to lere.
But we wyll leve this Godhed for a tyme
And of the manhode a whyle wyll we ryme.
"Ye schall know fyrst that oo God is in heven,
Distinct in persones, as we beleve, thre:
Fadyr and Sune and Holy Gost ful evene.
These same persones oonly oo God be.
Oure auctoures sey that if Godd had be
Oonly o persone than schuld not His holy blys
Be comounde to other so parfytly as it is,
"For creature non myght receyve no swech:
Therfore He ordeyned be His eterne counsayle
That thre persones in myght and nature lych
In oo Godhed, to us ful gret mervayle,
Schuld be consederyd to mannys grete avayle;
And ech of other His substauns schuld thus take,
Non lesse, non more; thus oure feyth we make.
"Of the thre persones, the secunde, whech is the Sune,
Cam down to erde here; He tok mankynde,
For man had lost all that evyr was done
Whan he to God was fall so unkynde -
He brake the precept with whech he gan him bynde
Amongis the trees in the place of delyce
Whech that we clepe in bokes paradyce.
"And for there was no man able in erde therto
To make unyté betwyx God and man,
This was the cause that that Lorde dede soo.
He lyght to herde and in a yong woman,
A clene maydyn, of flesch and bloode He nam.
Therin He deyd to sle oure synnes alle.
This is the God on whom we Crysten calle."
The mayster principale whech the wordis hadde
For hem alle at that same day and tyme
Of hir doctryne was ful joyful and gladde,
For God hath poyntyd in him a newe pryme.
Oure Lord Jhesu had purged him of his cryme,
Made him dysposed to his conversyoun.
But he mervelyth sore of this informacyoun.
He seyd to the lady in ful fayre manere,
"O thing there is here in youre techyng
Whech I cannot conceyve it yet ful clere:
For God and man in her coupelyng
Be ful diverse, and yet sey ye this thing:
That bothe natures be joyned in oo persone
There was nevyr swych but if it be He alone,
"For if He be God, than must He be eterne,
If He be man, than is He coruptible;
A nature or persone whech is sempiterne
To sey of it that it is passible
Semeth to me a ful grete insolible.
This is the mocyoun, lady, ye must declare,
For in this matere oure wyttys be but bare."
Thus to this mocyoun answerd thoo the mayde,
"Ye must conceyve," sche seyde, "in your mynde
That these too natures in oure Lord Jhesu were layde
And coupled togedyr ageyn used kynde:
Thus we of Him in solempne bokys fynde.
But the very prove of His werkys grete
Is ryght enow this matere for to trete,
"For He that reysyde Lazare fro the grave
Where he had loy four dayes evene,
He that Petyr in the see dyd save
And walkyd there as men do on a grene,
He that comaunded the wynd that was so kene
That he schuld cese and blow no more that tyde,
He that so mervelously onto heven gan glyde
"Body and all, He was more than a man,
For be His Godhede wrowt He these mervayles.
Mech more thing now reherse I kan,
But I pase ovyr, gevyng to your assayles
Tyme and space. I pray God that youre entrayles
He endew with grace that ye may know the treuth;
Of your dampnacyoun have I ful grete reuth.
"But all these werkys whech were so grete
Schew be reson that more than man was He.
Whan He the Jewys met ryght in the strete
There schewyd He than His dyvynyté;
Thei durst not loke but fel down at his kne.
There myght no creature be resone do these werkys
But He were God, thus prove oure clerkys.
"And that He ete His mete, slepe, and went,
Spak and drank, restyd and wery was eke -
This servyth ful pleynly to your argument
In whech ye gan ful sotylly for to seke.
Youre answere hafe ye, if it may yow leke,
That these too natures whech in Him were
Dyverse werkynges had whyll He was here.
"Yet of your auctouris may we take wyttnesse.
Sybylle seyd mervelously in this matere:
'That holy God,' sche seyd, 'evyr be in blesse,
Whech schall be hankyd lech a thefe here
Ryght on a tre and aftyr leyd on bere.'
What wyll ye more what schuld I to yow say?
Onto this auctrix ye may nevyr sey nay,
"For as an auctoure admittede in your lawe
Is sche receyvyd, and pleynly to oure feyth
Beryth sche wyttness in hir mysty sawe,
For these too natures in oure Lord sche leyth:
God He is full byssyd, as sche seyth,
And manhod it is that hyng upon the tre -
Oute of youre lawe cometh this auctoryté."
Anothyr mayster evene ful of eloquens,
Of curtesye eke, and a ful semely man,
Spak to this lady with full grete reverens.
He seyd hir wytt before her wyttes ran
So grete apace it cannot be ovyrtan,
But yet he prayed hir that he myght seye.
In his arguyng ful naturaly he toke the weye,
For nature, he seyd, be swech influens
Was so confermed that it myght not fayle.
Every thing, therfore, that makyth resystens
Ageyn nature ful sone wyll it qwayle.
Withoutyn nature may nothing avayle,
Wherfor he wolde swech thing as sche shall preche
Be naturall resones hir thingis shuld she teche,
For harde it is to constreyn a mannes wil
To trow a thing whech he cannot prove.
Who shal beleve good thing or ellis il,
That same beleve must com of very love
And very trost whech is onto his hond.
Therfor this man desyrith that naturaly
Hir conclusiones she prove now openly.
She seyd she wold with good entent,
So as hir wit wold serve hir for this tyme
And so as God of His grace hath sent
Onto hir knowlech at that day to dyvyne,
Ful fayn wold she now this maystir enclyne,
For she to Cryst cast hir him to drawe;
He shall no more trost now on his lawe.
This same example put she to him tho,
Of body and sowle whech we bere abouth,
How thei are joyned in on thus these too,
And on his hyd, the othir is sene withouth.
She seyd, "To all men it is ful grete douth
How that the sowle, whech that mevere is,
Cam to the body whan he cam fro blys,
"What wey he cam or ellis in what hour
Whan to the body he cam it for to qweke
It is but foly to spend oure labour
Swech prevy thingis for to serge and seke.
Ye may leve this thing if ye like:
That soule and body are joynyd now in fere
In what persone that ye se walke here.
"And if ye list not to beleve this thing,
Ye may leve but ye shall it nevyr i-knowe
The maner or tyme of this pryvy werkyng.
Youre scole therto is yete ovyr lowe; 26
Ye may wele bost of youre conyng and blowe,
But ye shal fayle whan ye com to the poynt -
Oure Lord God hath hyd fro you that joynt.
"Than sith ye may be no naturall weye
Have the knowlech of these creatures here,
How shuld we of you now than sey
That ye shuld know thing above clere?
How schuld ye knowe that Lord that hath powere
Ovyr all thing? How schuld ye to Him gesse
Whan that ye may not know mech thing lesse?"
Whan that this answere was gove thus to this man,
Ech man besyde that stod thoo aboute
Ful mervelosly chaunge thei began,
For thei that Cristen were, withouten doute,
Whech to the maumentis befor tyme dede loute,
Now wayle thei sore with grete repentauns,
Demyng hemselve ful worthy grete penauns. 27
Thei have remembred her God most of myth,
And wher that a woman prechith constantly,
There thei forsake Him. "This thing goth no ryth,
That the freler kynd shall so stabyly
Confesse oure feith, wher that more myty
Held her pees and dare speke rith nought":
Of the Cristen this was both cry and thought.
The othir syde, thoo, that paynemes were,
Thei sey hir resones and hir grete evydens
Whech stoyned the clerkis all that be there.
This put the puple in conceytis ful suspens,
For all her labour and all her grete expens,
For this thing her reward shal be woo.
Grete murmur was there and summe begun to goo.
Ovyr all this the emperour he is now woode.
Onto the clerkis with full angry face
He cryed: "Be armes, bones, and be blode,
It was a shame and a sory grace
That fele clerkis gaderid in a place
Shulde be astoyned sodenly of a mayde!
Coward churles," rith thus to hem he seyde,
"Plucke up youre hertis; lete not oure lawe thus falle!
Lete not oure goddis suffir thus this wronge -
But if ye do, the most part of you shall,
Ere long tyme, by the necke shul be honge!
Speke, men, for shame; the tyme is not longe -
It passith fast and we do no note;
Me thinkith ye stand evene as men that dote!"
Thoo stode up with a new motiffe
A freshe clerke, maystir Apollimas.
So aferde was he nevyr in all his lyffe
Of no matere ne of no dyvers cas
So as of this matere now he fesed was.
But thus sayd he than softly to the mayde:
"In youre declaryng, lady, me thought ye sayde
"Too sundry thingis; if we considre weele,
Contradiccion ful sone in hem shal be founde:
Youre Lord Jhesu, whech is know full weele,
As ye sey, He made this world so rounde.
Adam and Eve He formed fro the ground,
And all othir thing whech that have substauns -
It was made, ye sey, be His ordinauns.
"Ageyn you now thus I will replye,
Provyng ontreuth in youre marred feyth,
I have made rekenyng whech may not lye,
Amongis oure stores what ony man seyth.
The byrth of Jhesu full treuly oure booke leyth,
For He was born undir Octavyane,
At litil Bethlem in a lewde lane;
"It is not fully yete thre hundred yere
Sith that youre Jhesu was of His modir bore.
How dare ye than in swech presens here
Afferme of thing that was so long before
That He this worlde shuld make or restore?
How myth He make thing whech thousandis fyve
Had here duracion er that He toke lyve?
"This is my motiff - an answere I desyre
In pleyn langage, without distinction.
This sympil puple have ye set on fyre
With youre crafty circumlocucion!
Answere in schort to this conclusion;
Than schal I sey that ye be that mayde
Swech anothir no man hath assayde."
Thus spak the lady onto the clerk ageyn:
"Alle youre groundis, sere, in youre arguyng
Have take oo partye and, schortly for to seyn,
Lefte the othir; wherfore the concludyng
Fayleth ful foule now in your rekkenyng:
His manhod counte ye and His birth temporal
And not that birth whech is eternal,
"For this temporal birth, as ye seyde late,
Was now before us not many yeeres goo,
As to comparison of the largere date
It may be counted but for a yeer or too.
But of this mater the mistery wil I ondoo,
For of this same have ye grete mervayle,
As me semeth rith be youre assayle.
"At the gynnynge first schul ye undirstande
That God eternally hath evyre oure Jesu be,
Makere and schapere of all thing that is levande,
Thus is He called and thus beleve we.
But now of late dayes, of His charité,
He took oure kende to oure redempcion,
In whech kende He suffred passion.
"For the manhod was not able to doo this thing
And the Godhed mith not suffre swech desese,
Wherfore of these too He made a coupeling,
The Faderes offens thus for to plese,
The develes power thus for to fese.
In Godhed and manhed He took this batayle,
For manhed alone mith not avayle.
"Thus, for His Godhed hath be eternally,
Therfore sey we that He made al thing
Thurgh power of the same, and eke that body
Whech was conceyved of a mayde yinge,
That same body on the crosse hyng,
That same body at Bethlem was bore,
For the Godhed hath be eternally before."
Whan sche had sayde this glorious vers,
The man stood stoyned and marred in mende.
Noon of hir wordes coude he revers;
Thei passed of his lernyng al the kende.
Resons ageyn hir coude he noon fynde,
But thus seyde he tho openly with cry:
"As ye beleve, lady, soo beleve I."
Anothir maystir made hir this motif:
"Ye preche of Crist," he seith, "and of His dede,
How He for man thus frely lost His lif
For to brynge him to that hevenly mede.
His deth, ye sey, awey tho gan lede
Alle maner synne, the power eke of helle
With His deth that Lord gan than felle.
"Mith not that Lord with His real power
A maistred the devel and putte him soo to flith?
Mith He not a sente an aungell or a messager?
What was the cause that He Himself wolde fith,
Suffre swech passion and lese soo His rith?
If He was myty, why suffred He that wrong?
Answere my tale for it is nowt long!
"If He Himselve mith not redresse this thing,
Than was it foly to take it on hande,
And if He were, as ye seye, soo myty a king,
There mith no powere than ageyn Him stande.
Youre prophete seyde that He with yrn wande
Alle His enemyes schulde bothe bete and bynde.
In swiche sufferaunce me thinkith He was blynde."
"Youre motif, sir," seyde the noble qween,
"Hath grete colour, but yet I voyde it thus:
As I have lerned in bookes that I have seen,
Oure Lord Crist, oure Savyour Jesus,
List for to feyten with the devel for us
And ovyrcome him in swech kende as he toke.
For the synne of Adam, if we wil loke,
"Must been redressed oonly be mankynde,
And because there were amongis men non able -
For in all erde myth He than non fynde
Man so clene, so parfyth, so profithable
As Adam was whil that He was stable
In blessed paradyse or he dede offens -
Therfor oure Lord with His fleshly presens
"Toke this jornay and deyed on a tre,
That evene as synne in the tre was doo,
Rith so on the tre deth suffered He.
It was convenient He shuld fyte so:
In the tre was joy bore and in the tre woo;
Woo be Sathan, joy be oure Lorde Jhesu -
Out of that tre a blyssyd frute grewe!"
Ther stood up than with ful bold face
A grete clerke thei callyd Alfragan -
He thought to have worchip in that place.
His apposayle rith thus he began:
"Youre Jhesu Crist, He is both God and man,
As ye sey, lady, but ley that osyde
As for a space - lete that matere abyde.
"Ye Cristen put evyr in youre posicioun
That there be namoo goddes but on.
But if youre owne booke come to revolucion,
I trow oo God shal not be found there alone.
I red in a Crysten prophete not long agone -
I wot not veryly yet what ye him calle -
Thus spekth he that ye be goddes alle.
"Whom mente he here in this pluralité
But God whech ye singulere confesse?
Betwix these too is no neutralité,
But be thei more goddis or be thei lesse,
Youre owne bokes of hem bere witnesse
That many be there and moo than on -
Lete se what wey that ye will now gon.
"Ye put to us here a grete God of hevene
Whech hath a Son ye sey hith Jhesu,
And in youre bokes fynd we full evene
Of anothir god both juste and trewe -
Thei calle him Baal; I trow ye him knewe.
Thre hundred prophetis onto his servyse
Were endewid there, full sad men and wyse.
"How may ye sey thanne that God is but on?
How may ye forbarre oure opynyon?
If that youre God be regnand thus alone,
Why speke youre bokes of swech divysion?
Whi may not Jupiter make his conjunction
With Juno, his wiff, sith there be goddis fele? 28
Youre resones, lady, avayle not a rake stele."
"Ye must conceyve, sere," seyd the mayde,
"That oure Scripture in his mysty speche
Hath many figures, if thei be assayde.
Oure Lord God is sumtyme callyd a leche,
Sumtyme a justise and full of wreche,
Sumtyme a fader all ful of love.
Swech sundry predicates in him wil prove
"The sundry effectis that in Him be.
Wherfor I telle you, ser, if ye wil here,
Of oure feyth a ful grete verité.
Ye may considre now and ye wil lere,
Goddes are there non ne nevyr more were
But on alone, Whech made erde and hevene,
Hayle, reyne, wynd, thundir, and levene.
"And be nature is He God regnyng thus alone,
But yet of His godnes He hath to him chose
Certeyn personys to dwelle in His wone;
Thoo calleth He goddes, as I suppose.
This that I sey now is no fals glose
But folowith of the texte, if ye take hede,
For there that ye now on this wise gan rede
"'I sey ye be goddis,' there folowith thus,
'And sones of Him that syttith hyest.'
This is a grete distinction, ser, amongis us
Of nature and adopcion, whech is the best:
Adopcion we sey is but as a gest,
For he is chose in rith be fre will;
But naturall regnyng hath a hier skyll,
"For who so regnyth naturaly in ony place,
He may not be put oute but he have wrong,
And he that chosyn is, he comth in be grace.
Myn answere wil I bregge and make not longe,
For catch now this conceyt and in youre wit it fong:
That naturaly God regneth al alone
Whech of His goodnesse hath called to His trone
"Certeyn folkis rith of His good grace,
Whech goddis we calle because thei have blys:
Thus ar thei with Him evyr and se His face,
Regne ther in joy whech may nevyr mysse -
There are thei tretyd rith as childirn His.
This is the entent of that auctorité.
Anothir thing eft alegge ye
"Of Baal, that god, and of his servauntis alle
But no thing to purpos is that ye conclude.
Oure Scripture rehersith thei dede him so calle
Thoo same prophetis of his similitude.
Rede bettir that booke of thoo dyvynouris rude,
For there shal ye fynd that thei dampned were
For her fals beleve all that were there." 29
The maystir avisyd him and than cryed loude,
"This mayde wil evyr lede us, seres, we are caut
In oure artes, be we nevyr so proude.
A newe maystresse, sekirly, have we laut;
All oure lernyng as now avaylith naut.
Therfor I sey, as for me, I geve it up -
This lady hath drunke of a hier cupp
"Of prevyer secres than evyr we coud fynd:
Sche passyth Plato, she passeth philosophie,
Sche spekith of Him that autour is of kynd.
That she seyth, I wote wele, is no lye;
Wherfor of hert enterly thus I crye,
I can nomore - I wil turne to hir feyth
And leve myn elde, what any man seyth.
"Ye shul do so eke, be my consent,
For o God I knowlech and non but Him alone,
Thow I seyd nought, evyr have I so ment.
Lete us submytt us therfore to His trone:
I am converted; I sey for my persone
I schall nevyr berke ageyn that deyté.
In this matere, seres, what sey ye?"
Thei cryed alle comoursly with oo voys
That thei consent to his conclusyoun.
O God confess thei, whech thei calle Noys;
What he comandeth, of nede it must be don.
But yett her conceytes wyll thei uttyr soon
Of othir thinges longyng to this crede.
To telle the rumore, I trow it is no nede,
Whech in the puple is encresyd this tyde.
"Alas!" thei sey, "What lyffe hafe thei ledde,
Oure grete clerkis whech are know so wyde.
It were as good thei had loy in bedde,
Whan thei teche thing whech must be fledde,
Whych thing is holde but for a vanyté!"
The lordes eke there aftyr her degré
Dysputed this mater and beet it up and down:
"No Godd but on?" thei seyd, "What is than Saturn?"
Eche to othir ful pryvyly thus dede rowan:
"Fro these maumentys goode is that we turn,
Lete us despyce hem and with oure fete hem spurn,
For this falshede have we folowyd to longe."
This was the noyse than there hem amonge.
The emperour lokyth, but I trow he is wrothe:
"Fy on feynt harlotys that thus rendyth oure lawe!"
Thus seyd he than, he thowt his lyffe full lothe
That any mayden clerkys schul thus drawe,
That sche schuld be wyser in hir sawe;
This grevyth him sore, but yet in his grevauns
Stod up a clerke whych with his dalyauns
Seyd he wold prove be reson naturale
That mech thing towchyd was full ontrewe:
"O persone eterne and eke mortale:
This doctrine," he seyd, "was come on thee newe."
But the same resones that othir dyd sewe
Rehersyth myn auctour, as he doth ful ofte.
I suffyr thoo levys to lye styll ful softe.
Lete othir men here hem that love nugacyoun,
For othir many materes mote com on hande.
I wyll rehers fyrst the grete disputacyoun
In whych that this lady feythfully gan stande
With mayster Aryot, thorowoute that lande
Most famose man noysed in that tyme.
Of this matere wyll we now ryme.
Thys Ariot was chose be comoun asent
To dyspute with hir, to loke, if that he may,
Dystroy hir feyth and all hir fundament.
On him hafe thei put now all this affray.
Now schal be sene who schal have the day:
If he be convycte, thei wyll yelde hem alle;
If he be victoure, than wyll the revers falle,
For victores be thei than be his conquest.
He stod up full solemply, with sobyr chere,
Commendyng the lady as him thowt best.
Than seyd he to hir in this manere:
"Many thingys hafe be rehersyd here.
I herd all and yet I held my pees.
But now is this matere thus sett douteles.
"It is put in us too all this thing to trete,
Oure Lord Godd send us good spede:
If so befall that I, with argumentis grete
Or ellys with auctoryté, that I may yow leede
From all your feyth and fro your fekyll crede,
Than have we wun, and if that ye lede me,
Than have we do, for victoure thoo are ye."
His fyrst questyoun, as I undyrstande,
Was of too natures whech we in Cryst rede,
Whech matere before have be in hande,
And for that cause me thinkyth it no nede
With swech prolixité oure book ferther to lede.
Turne and rede, ye that wyll it renewe.
Anothyr matere this phylosophre gan pursewe:
Of Crystys Incarnacyoun, how that it myght be,
And how He in Bethlem thus born was.
Eke all this matere, as thinkith me,
Aforn in his werk this man dede it tras.
Wherfore fro all these thus schortly I pas,
Supposyng that this same prolixité
Wolde make men wery of redyng to be.
Yete anothir mater touchid he to the mayde:
Of oure Ladies clennes in hir concepcion.
He had ful grete merveyle, as he seyde,
Sith the synne of Adam in his progression
Was gove to mannys flesshe as possession,
How myth she have clennes and maydenhed
Whan she cam of that corrupt seede?
The mayde answerd rith thus to his tale:
"Thing that is foule oure Lord may make clene;
He is very medecyn ageyn all oure bale.
His wondirful werkis are hard forto sene,
But be ensaumples we may prove, I wene,
That this conjunction of mayde and of man
Withoute ony synne this Lord thus began.
"Fro the seed first of all mankynde,
It was so corrupt, He preservyd this mayd -
It had ellis ful mech be ageyn kynde
But if hir soule had be arayde
With vertues grete and no thing afrayd
With no vyce of synne or velonye.
Thus dede this Lord that sittith thus hye.
"Ferthermore, whan He cam to that herbourgage,
His comyng was lich the sune schynyng bryth;
Lich to the glas I lykne that maydenes cage:
The sune schynyth theron with bemes lyght
And thorow it goth, as we se in syght,
Yet is the glas persed in noo manere.
So ferde that Lord whan He cam down here.
"Thus was she clene in hir concepcion,
Thus hath she receyvyd the Godhed of blys,
Yet was she clenner in His carnacion,
Of whech clennes shall she not mys.
This must ye beleve, sere, if ye wil be His.
Than shul ye know that ye nevyr knewe;
In my behestis ye found me nevyr untrewe."
Anothir qwestion mevyd this man that tyme,
Replying sore ageyn hir declaracion.
It is ful hard swech thingis forto ryme,
To uttir pleynly in langage of oure nacion,
Swech straunge doutes that long to the Incarnacion.
But that myn auctour toke swech thing on hand,
And yete his langage unneth I undirstande,
Wherfor with othir auctouris I enforce him thus,
Whech spoke more pregnantly as in this matere,
For ageyn the byrth of oure Lorde Jesus
And His concepcion argued thoo this sere:
"Youre oppynyon sett ye all in mere,"
Thus seyd this man onto this lady mylde,
"For ye rehers who that God and childe
"Both togedir, coupled in oo persone,
Was youre Jesu, and eke ye thus confesse
That this myracle dede He not alone,
But it was do be all thre, I gesse.
This is youre feyth, to this ye you professe,
That be the Fader, the Goost, and eke the Sune
Wrought was thus this Incarnacion.
"Whi shall we not than of youre wordis conclude
That Fader and Sun and Holy Gost in fere,
Sith that Thei be all of o similitude,
That ech of Hem flesshe and blood tooke here.
Thre sundry men than are Thei, withouten dwere,
And eke o God - how acordith this tale?
All a wrong me thinkith wryhith the male,
"For ye sey eke that but on was incarnat,
On and no mo, and that was Jhesu youre Lorde.
Therto the Fader put ye in that astate
That He did this. 30 How may this acorde?
Sith that He wrout this of youre owne record,
Than was He joyned on that same werke -
That it thus folowyth perceyveth every clerke."
This motif preysid the qween with the best.
Sche seyd onto him, "Sere, ye lacke nothing
That longith of vertu to youre soules rest
But feyth alone. I pray that hevyn kyng
That He may touch you with sum pryvy merkyng
That ye may knowe whech is the very truth,
But if He did it were ellis grete reuth.
"As mech as Nature may, she hath you taught -
She coude no farder in hir wey procede;
But the wisdam of God, that may naught
Because of Nature, lerne this as youre crede.
Yete as I can I will you mekely lede
Onto oure scole and telle of this matere
The exposicion, if ye will it lere.
"Thus seyn oure bokes: To the Faderes astate
Longith powere, whech we belevyn alle,
And to the Sone longith thus a parte
Whech we callen wisdam. The worlde round as a balle
And hevyn eke also whech may not falle
Were made in Him. To the Gost longith goodnes.
This is oure scole withouten more or lesse.
"Than folowith thus that the Fader all thing
Made in His wisdam; it was ful convenient
That be that same grete reformyng
Of all mankynde, whech with synne was shent,
Shuld be redressyd. Lo, this is Her entent.
That provyth be feyth and be demostracion
That most to the Sone perteynyth the Incarnacion
"As in praktyke, but the sond and the provydens
As the menes of mercy whech were there doo,
Tho longen to the Trynyté 31 - o God in existens,
Thre in persones, we discryve Hem soo.
Example, sire, may we put thertoo,
As putten oure clerkys in her bokes wysse,
Whech were wretyn with ful good avysse.
"Davyd, he seyd, whan he thristid sore
He desyred sore to drynke of that well
Whech stood in Bethlem where he was bore.
He sent thre prynces, soth for to telle,
Thorow all the hoost of Philestis so felle.
Thei browth this water with parell to the kyng -
On of hem in a basnet bare this thing.
"All had thei labour egal, as I wene,
And yet on bare the vessell and no moo.
This same figure oure clerks thus remene:
That thowe the Fader and the Goost both too
Wrought this thing and ordeyn it shuld be soo,
Yete was the bordeyn in oure Lorde alone,
Jhesu, I mene, the Sone the secund persone."
Aftir this had thei ful grete comunicacion
Of the synne of Adam and of the serpente,
Enterfered with spechis, but dilatacion
As me thinkith, longith noth to lyffe presente -
It occupieth ny all the Newe Testament,
That myth it here if that hem list.
Wherfor myn entent I wold that ye wist:
I love no long tale, evyr hangyng in on,
Wherfor as of this boke I wil make an ende
Right in this chapter; me thinkith it long agone
Sithen I began this boke for to bende
Onto youre eres and onto youre mende.
Knowith weel first that this noble qwene
Hath concluded these maystires thus bedene,
And in speciall Ariot, for that he coud replye
It avaylith as nouth - his witte is but bost.
He standith amasid and nothing hardy
To spekyn o worde; thus can the good Goost
Gadir to Him all this wisse hoost
And maykyn hem to trowe as the mayden taught,
For all her philosophye thus are thei caught.
For aftir thei had spokyn of the filiacion
Of Cryst oure Lord, wheyther there were too or on,
And eke the Holy Gost with His procession,
Wher that this fayled, answere was non. 32
This same Ariott stod stille as a stone,
For the Holy Trinité she provyde him be kynde,
He coud fro the resones no wey fynde.
Onto his felaws thus full lowd he seyd,
"We have gon wrong evyr into this day.
Blissid be God and this holy mayde
That to us have tauth a trew way.
Sey ye as ye leke, I can not sey nay,
For o God I beleve, whech is in blys.
I leve on Jhesu eke, whech His Son is,
"And I leve on the Gost, knyte of Hem too.
I leve that this Jhesu deyed for my sake;
Thus were oure synnes be Him clensid soo.
Onto His handis my soule I betake,
Prayng Him hertily that fro the fendes blake
He now defend me, that I not dampned be:
This is my crede, felawis, what sey ye?"
Thei answerd all that thei had now found
Thing thei had south all her lyve dayes.
This will thei kepyn as a trew ground,
For thei had walkid many perlous weyes,
With veyne argumentis jangelyng evyr as jayyes.
Now will thei levyn it and to Crist turne;
With Aristotill nen Ovide will thei nomore sojorn,
But put hem in the mercy of oure Lord Jhesu,
Prayng this mayde that sche be mene
To purchas pardon of her feyth untrewe
That thei so long shuld it susteyne. 33
Thei fellen on knees, these clerkys all bedene,
Crying long, with ful grete devocion,
"O Jhesu Crist, for Thi swete passion,
"Have mercy upon us, forgefe us oure trespas.
Deme us not, Lorde, aftir oure mysdede.
As Thu art petous, graunt us of Thi grace,
Of Thi protection have we ful grete nede.
We wil don oure diligens for to lern Youre crede,
To maynten it and susteyne with all oure myth -
There shall nevyr man bryngen us in othir plyght."
Thus are thei convertid; this counsell is i-doo.
Oure boke is at an ende, a new we will begynne.
It is ful convenient that we shuld do soo.
God and Seynt Kateryn, kepe us oute of synne
And send us the hey weyes hevyn blys to wynne,
Wher we may dwellyn and lokyn on that face
Whech gladith all men that ben in that place.
they are in no hurry to work
can only say of them; love
drones will not engage in spiritual toil
like a field
comfort and fresh aid
old and young
while she was alive
without lying, i.e., to tell the truth
cannot do them any good now
i.e., Maximinus Galerius
i.e., To hell with him; (see note)
has forsaken his father
consulted most recently
remains to await judgment
dancing (i.e., hell or heaven)
by whatever means, right or wrong,
killed en route by his own soldiers
Severus (see lines 134-36)
his morals grew ever worse
I think it appropriate
the service entitled them
vanquished nor abandoned
i.e., a cross; forehead
will be punished
i.e., the letters
as they were written
Or where in the empire he lived
i.e., any and all
assembled as a force
listen to his speech
withdrawn his favor
fallen into idolatry
exert such power
so that you not be lost
it pertains of right to a god
lie on the rack; back
they were packed in
find accomodations at an inn
crowd was so dense
parade around; music
butchers worked like madmen
perform the service
very artfully carved
destruction; (see note)
altar beside him
idolatry; (see note)
that I see no point describing
so they will be paid
nimbly and boisterously
apart from her attendants
whichever you prefer
by tradition are owed
if you really want to know
had through Adrian's guidance
said to herself
i.e., on earth
if he knew who we were
prepared to return to their inns
accompanied these lords
clear a path
threats; (see note)
to bless you
venerate; except for one thing
Bow to His will
against their judgment
pitch; beverage; lead; (see note)
unless you reform
folded his arms
misfortune; bad outcome
whichever you deserve
deserved to be hanged
are they gods; idols
by whom; made
of power and of nature
impossibilities you attribute to it
and remain a virgin
Change your mind
prevents such an undertaking
rind; can be plainly seen
in your stupidity you eat it
chunks of wood
began to frown
he (Maxentius); elevated
are marvelously infected with
I advise you to desist
are over for the day
are not punished
newly sown blasphemy
Since he is only a servant
this (i.e., Alexandria)
Suppose that; sovereignty
So it is with our creator
bow; it is past noon
devise a slier plan
will not advance her cause
learning; such expertise
increase their income
to mark the occasion
close in kinship
recently have fallen under his rule
your Wisdoms (polite form of address)
partly by cleverness, partly by magic
he made many great promises
promised; (see note)
They shall have no choice
he will elevate the meek
no strategy involving fear or love
in a row
devote all your attention
by right of descent and of charter
should uphold the law
do you commit such outrages
No matter why you do this
a bride to her wedding chamber
leave her for now
breach of a certain agreement
mend the rift
made war on the other
from all parts of the East
Seven Liberal Arts
To kill; a shame
I assure you
waste his energies on a woman
out-argues them by citing authorities
knights to make them comfortable
set forth her argument
Dignified, manly, and generous
her faith was challenged
made their points
for maidens it is fitting to follow advice
Let it be seen
pleases me so much
racked our brains
Pick one of these two things
hold such beliefs
Everyone says so
fail [to find truth]
If a wise lord had been in his place
as persuasively as they could
diligence; exhorted her
I consider it
to argue with you
false god; display (commotion)
be called to account
know our doctrine
Unless you succeed; fall
black and blue
i.e., the Holy Spirit
Neither heathens nor heretics
for your honor; strengthen
Ahasuerus; (see note)
set aside his somber formality
vaults; (see note)
illuminated by his presence
to be cheerful
i.e., the Church of Rome
weigh them all by weight
[To determine] whether
i.e., after you are tortured
according to his understanding
strains to get close
sitting in pairs
i.e., soothsayer; Ulysses; (see note)
arrows (intellectual ammunition)
as my reward
do not complicate matters
Mind your own business
soon be evident
We are resolved to return you
It falls to me
no substance; only literary skill
commentary on the text
I do not think
But know for certain
searching into nature's secrets
finished with; encounter
blue and white sky
i.e., before it became fertile
by his own choice
his dual nature was known
is easily established
nor how you may be saved
haughty disposition; madness
Why should people call you
entrap with spurious arguments
i.e., return to our faith
secretly during a storm
before the world's creation
had a beginning
every day and week
Unless I did so
grunt; something ails them
presented this argument
said in vain
is buried there
not in themselves
Agreeing with you somewhat
Which of these gods is worthiest
in a row
Vengeful, mean, always complaining
remain for long
was castrator of
he then banished
built from such weak bonds
attain the status of gods
chatter as if he were prophesizing
he spoke truly
their energies were given to vice
unhappily for the time being
a very dim understanding
He represents time
according to our faith
is considered a god
Equated with natural elements
examined; [intellectual] nook; (see note)
what he paraphrased
as this man spoke
they are nothing
her knowledge is peerless
cause us grief
On this subject; frustrated
i.e., their philosophy cannot reveal
Since you take the attitude of pupils
comprehend; (see note)
be seen; benefit
lost all he had
behaved so unnaturally
descended to earth
ordained; new beginning
wonders greatly at
sufficient to settle this matter
lain; (see note)
I would hate to see you damned
if you please; (see note)
manifested themselves differently
Sybil; (see note)
hanged like a thief
as an acknowledged authority
So far ahead; overtaken
the flowing of such a medium
one is hidden
when it (the soul) came from heaven
infuse with life
every living person
in the final analysis
understand heavenly matters
speculate about him
much lesser matters
most powerful God
stronger ones (i.e., men)
confused the people
By; (see note)
problematic; (see note)
an infallible calculation
as you just said
i.e., His existence as God
to judge from your attack (lines 1862-90)
To begin with
Jesus has always been God
Recently, out of charity,
assumed our nature to redeem us
Because; i.e., redeem
atone for the offense to His Father
iron rod; (see note)
He was foolish to suffer so
seems plausible; refute
Desired to fight
no more than one god
you are all gods
These two views cannot be reconciled
which position you will adopt
there is only one God
are not worth a rake-handle
Hail, rain; lightning
live with Him
derives from the text (Scripture)
in this manner
like being a guest
without being wronged
are in heaven
you further allege
your conclusion has no merit
likeness; (see note)
no matter what
in my opinion
I always believed this
Greek: nous/noos mind; (see note)
report the talk
among; resonates at this time
weak knaves; destroy
matter touched upon
arguments that others put forth
I will skip over those pages
the foundation [of her faith]
It is now up to us to settle everything
Then we are through
understand to be
we have covered before
my author covered before
make people tired of reading
dwelling (Mary's body)
mysteries; pertain to
you bungle hopelessly
the Incarnation was effected
how can this make sense?
things turn out (lit., the bag turns)
did; by your own account
Unless He did; pity
Be derived from Nature
at great risk
Full of speeches; amplification; (see note)
is not relevant to this life
Whoever wishes can hear about it; (see note)
no longer daring
i.e., Holy Spirit
hold as truth
bickering like jays
means to earn heaven
i.e., Christ's face
Go To The Life of Saint Katherine, Book 5