|TITLE:||The Worthiness of Chaucer's Worthy Knight|
|SOURCE:||The Chaucer Review 44 no2 115-58 2009|
Hony soyt qui mal pence.(FN1)
Were anyone, therefore, to say that those who are engaged in a career of arms
would not be able to save their souls, they would not know what they were saying,
for in all good, necessary, and traditional professions anyone can lose or save his soul
as he wills.
GEOFFROI DE CHARNY, LE LIVRE DE CHEVALERIE(FN2)
Per pale argent and gules, a bend counterchanged.
King Edward: Upbraidst thou him, because within his face
Time hath engraved deep characters of age?
Know that these grave scholars of experience,
Like stiff-grown oaks, will stand immovable
When whirlwind quickly turns up younger trees.
SHAKESPEARE, KING EDWARD III, III.iii.126-30(FN4)
The Great Age of English Chivalry (1330-1370)
There are classic patterns, both good and bad, of the careers of knights in all ages, and not least in the fourteenth century, the great age of English chivalry. Although this is a period remote from the perceptions of scholars in the twenty-first century, it was not remote to those who lived through it, and hence we must accord a special respect in these matters to Geoffrey Chaucer, who wrote directly from the experience of life in the royal households of Lionel of Antwerp, John of Gaunt (and possibly also their yet more celebrated brother, Edward of Woodstock, the Black Prince), and also their father, the king himself, Edward III (1327-77). A royal household was organized above all for war, and all its male members, from the king and princes, dukes and earls, downwards through barons and bannerets and knights-bachelor, to esquires and valets or grooms, were expected to accompany their lord to war.(FN5) Hence Chaucer, a page (presumably) in the household of Elizabeth de Burgh, Countess of Ulster, in 1357, and then valettus on the merging of her household with that of her husband, Lionel of Antwerp, in 1359,(FN6) found himself on Edward's campaign in France of 1359-60 that ended the first phase of the Hundred Years War with the Treaty of Br6tigny on May 8, 1360. The king was present with his three eldest sons, Edward (Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall, and Earl of Chester), Lionel (Earl of Ulster), and John of Gaunt (Earl of Richmond), and also the famous Henry of Grosmont (Duke of Lancaster and Earl of Derby).(FN7) Thus Chaucer would have seen in the field (as distinct from the royal household)(FN8) all the great knights of that early and (from an English point of view) triumphant phase of the war with France (men such as Sir James Audley, Sir John Chandos,(FN9) Sir Reginald Cobham,(FN10) and Sir Walter Mauny/Manny(FN11)). Chaucer was not present as a reporter or observer but as a participant, and indeed was captured some time after the action at R6thel near Rheims, to which he refers in his deposition at Westminster on October 15, 1386, in favor of Sir Richard (le) Scrope's right to bear the arms Azure, a bend or.(FN12) As a valettus in the household of the Earl of Ulster, Chaucer was significant enough to be ransomed and for the king to be involved in the paying of a contribution of £16 towards his ransom.(FN13) He lacked at this time the stature of Richard Stury, for whom as an esquire of his own household the king contributed a sum of £50 for his ransom on January 12, 1360,(FN14) but he was not the lowest in degree of those ransomed on this occasion. Thus the sum of £16 was paid for Geoffrey Chaucer on March 1, 1360, whereas no more than £10 was paid for George, a valettus in the household of the Countess of Ulster.(FN15) It seems that by the beginning of 1360 Chaucer had already come to the attention of Edward III himself, hardly surprising, perhaps, in the light of his outstanding abilities.
CHAUCER'S CAREER AS SQUIRE AND DIPLOMAT
Chaucer lived out his life at the center of the great royal households of the late fourteenth century in England. The facts are well enough known, but their importance to his view of the world has been too often neglected or ignored in the debate about the Knight and the values he represents. It is not known for how long Chaucer remained in the household of Lionel of Antwerp, but at some point before 1367 he was transferred to the household of Edward III. On June 20, 1367, Edward III granted Chaucer, "dilectus vallettus noster/nostre ame esquier" (our beloved squire), a life annuity of 20 marks at the Exchequer.(FN16) The annuity was paid regularly in two installments from Michaelmas (September 29) 1367 to Easter 1377. It lapsed automatically on the death of Edward III but was duly renewed under Richard II on March 23, 1378.(FN17) To it was added on April 18, 1378, a second Exchequer annuity of 20 marks in lieu of the daily pitcher of wine granted to Chaucer by Edward III on the occasion of the feast of Saint George celebrated at Windsor in 1374.(FN18) These Exchequer annuities were regularly paid from Michaelmas 1377 until they were transferred by Chaucer to John Scally on May 1, 1388.(FN19) Such a transfer is evidence of the soundness of Chaucer's political judgment, for the payment of such annuities was under attack by the Appellants in the Merciless Parliament (February 3 to June 4, 1388). A new Exchequer annuity for life with an increase to £20 was granted to Chaucer by Richard II on February 28, 1394. It was confirmed by Henry IV on October 13, 1399 (the date of his coronation), together with an additional annuity of 40 marks for life.(FN20) In addition, on November 9, 1399, Henry IV made a gift of £10 to cover the arrears on Richard II's grant.(FN21) Thus not only was Chaucer awarded a life annuity, but it was scrupulously honored and even augmented by three monarchs over a period of more than thirty years. Such continuity of service matches that of Sir Richard Stury and is abundant evidence of his value as a member of the royal household. Indeed, Chaucer's membership in the royal household is signified in other ways. There is a series of records from November 28, 1368, onwards relating to grants for robes and allowances for them, wages, and gifts of wine and money.(FN22) Of special interest is the grant of liveries of mourning on September lo, 1385, for Joan, Princess-Dowager of Wales (Joan of Kent), who died in August 1385,(FN23) for here we see Chaucer at the center of the royal household at the very time he was writing Troilus and Criseyde and the Knight's Tale. In other words, he wrote about the deeds of knights and the intrigues of court as a privileged insider.
Chaucer's position at court was further enhanced by his marriage to Philippa, daughter of Sir Paon or Payne Roe(l)t of Hainault, Guienne King of Arms, who had come to England in the household of Philippa of Hainault on her marriage to Edward III, and sister of Katherine Swynford, mistress and later (in 1396) third wife of John of Gaunt. Philippa Chaucer was herself granted an Exchequer annuity of 10 marks for life by Edward III as domicella (damoiselle) of the chamber to Queen Philippa on September 12, 1366 (at this date a joint household with that of the king because of Queen Philippa's extravagance).(FN24) The annuity was paid regularly from 1366 to 1377, confirmed by Richard II on March 26, 1378, and paid regularly from 1378 to 1387, presumably the year of her death.(FN25) Philippa's status in the royal household was throughout that of damoiselle, ranking below the dames and above the south-damoiselles (or damsels of lesser rank) and veilleresses.(FN26) After the death of the Queen in 1369, Philippa Chaucer entered the household of John of Gaunt as a damoiselle of Constance of Castile, whom Gaunt took as his second wife in September 1371.(FN27) Philippa received the grant of an annuity of £10 for services to the Duchess of Lancaster on August 30, 1372, upon whom she seems to have been in immediate attendance, and was in receipt of gifts from John of Gaunt on various occasions between 1373 and 1382.(FN28) Moreover, she was admitted to the fraternity of Lincoln Cathedral on February 19, 1386, at the same time as Henry of Bolingbroke and her nephews, John Beaufort and Thomas Swynford.(FN29) Chaucer thus had made a good marriage for himself, strengthening his ties at court. Indeed, he was himself granted a life annuity of £10 on June 13, 1374, by John of Gaunt for his own services (perhaps including the composition of the Book of the Duchess in commemoration of Gaunt's first wife, Blanche of Lancaster) as well as those of his wife.(FN30) The career of his son Thomas is a further testimony of Chaucer's prosperity at court, for it was extended to the following two generations on an ascending curve. Thomas Chaucer was not only an esquire by 1396 but subsequently a knight, and his daughter Alice became through marriage Duchess of Suffolk.(FN31)
Life at court was not a matter of leisure and the writing of poetry, although at times the one supplied the opportunity for the other. Chaucer's position in the ducal and royal households supplied the solid background for what is by any standards an extensive and impressive career in the military and diplomatic spheres at the highest international level. It is useful here to lay out the main elements of this career in the early part of his life up to 1378, for it is clear that the great poetry of the 1370s and 80s is the product not only of long and disciplined study but also of a long and varied experience of the world of affairs. We may itemize his many journeys as a servant of kings and princes as follows (no doubt it is not a complete list):
1. He was present, as we have seen, on Edward III's campaign in France and Burgundy in 1359-60 leading up to the treaty of Brétigny. By this time he had already come to the attention of the king.
2. He received payment from Lionel of Antwerp for carrying letters from Calais to England in October 1360. Lionel was at Calais from October 13-31 "at the king's command and in his service" in connection with the completion of the peace between England and France drawn up at Brétigny in May and signed at Calais on October 24. There is no special reason to believe that these letters related to Lionel's "private business rather than to affairs of state." After all, Lionel was present in Calais (along with Edward of Woodstock, John of Gaunt, and the Earls of Arundel, Salisbury, and Stafford) precisely because of the importance of affairs of state.(FN32)
3. Nothing is known of Chaucer's whereabouts in the years from 1361 to 1365. There is no reference to him in the retinue rolls of the Ulster household from 1361 to 1364 and hence no compelling reason to believe that he was ever in Ireland.(FN33) Whichever household he may have been in and wherever he may have been, this remains an important and indeed formative period of his life, that is, the transition from youth to early manhood (eighteen to twenty-two). These years are likely to have involved more experience of war and many more missions. We may note that the Squire at the age of twenty has already "been somtyme in chyvachie/In Flaundres, in Artoys, and Pycardie" (GP, 1 85-86), perhaps on the Bishop of Norwich's ill-fated crusade in Flanders in support of Urban VI in 1383.
4. When we next encounter the young Chaucer it is in Spain and not in Ireland and in respect of a safe-conduct from February 22 to May 24, 1366, granted to him and three companions by Charles II (Charles le Mauvais) of Navarre.(FN34) We might like to think of Chaucer as a devout young man on pilgrimage (after all, the Squire of the General Prologue is on pilgrimage), but the pilgrim route from England to Santiago de Compostela was seldom overland but directly by sea from English ports to Corunna in Galicia.(FN35) But in 1366 and 1367 Navarre was at the center of intense military and diplomatic activity between the English, French, Castilians, and Aragonese.(FN36) Thus on February 13, 1366, Charles of Navarre issued a safe-conduct to the Black Prince's squire, John Maynard, "venido en nuestro regno por algunos negocios del dicho princep" (entering our kingdom for certain negotiations on behalf of the said prince).(FN37) Chaucer's presence in Navarre in 1366 is thus consistent with his presence at Calais in October 1360, for in March 1366 an army of mercenaries under Bertrand du Guesclin, Arnoud d'Audrehem, and Hugh Calveley in support of the usurper Henry of Trastámara (backed by France and Aragon) invaded Castile. Henry was proclaimed King of Castile at Calahorra on March 16, 1366 (as Enrique II), and crowned at Burgos on Palm Sunday, March 29, 1366,(FN38) while Pedro I was obliged to flee, first of all to Toledo and Seville, thence to Portugal and Monterrey in Galicia (beginning of June) and finally to Bayonne in Gascony (beginning of August) and the court of the Black Prince in Bordeaux.(FN39) The natural route for an English invasion of Castile from Gascony was through the pass of Roncesvalles, and in the fourteenth century both ends of it lay within the kingdom of Navarre.(FN40) It was indeed the route taken by the vanguard of the English army under Chandos and Gaunt on February 15, 1367, and the main army under the Black Prince, Pedro I, and Charles of Navarre on February 20, 1367, in the campaign leading up to Nijera.(FN41) If Chaucer was active in the king's service at this time, he was likely to have been involved in the political negotiations preceding the campaign of 1367. Indeed, Pedro had sent Martín López de Córdoba as an envoy to Edward III in the late autumn of 1365 to defend his reputation and the legitimacy of his rule, to invoke the Anglo-Castilian alliance of 1362, and to propose a marriage alliance between Castile and England (of a kind that came to fruition in 1371 and 1372 with the marriage of Constance to Gaunt and of Isabel to Edmund of Langley).(FN42)
5. On July 17, 1368, a warrant was issued for a licence for Chaucer to pass at Dover. It seems most likely that he was on royal business, but there is no evidence to that effect, nor of his destination nor of the duration of his journey.(FN43)
6. On June 27, 1369, there is a record of a prest (advance) of £10 in respect of the two-year period to June 27, 1371, made to Chaucer as a member of the king's household on the renewal of the war with France as part of a long list of such advances as wages of war to the Duke of Lancaster (Gaunt) and his followers.(FN44) It seems that Chaucer took part in this expedition.(FN45)
7. On June 20, 1370, letters of protection (that is, in respect of possible lawsuits during his absence) lasting until Michaelmas 1370 were issued to Chaucer for a mission on the king's behalf "ad partes transmarinas" (to foreign parts overseas). The particular mission is unknown, but was possibly in connection with a treaty with Flanders confirmed on August 4, 1370.(FN46)
8. Chaucer's journey to Genoa and Florence "in negociis regis" (on the king's business) took place from December 1, 1372 to May 23, 1373.(FN47)
9. On August 20, 1373, Chaucer was commissioned by the king to deliver a Genoese tarit (large ship of burden), La Seinte Marie et Saint George, under arrest in Dartmouth to her master, John de Nigris, a Genoese merchant.(FN48)
10. On December 23, 1376, payment was made to Chaucer for a mission "in... secretis negociis ipsius domini regis" (on the secret business of his lord the king) in company with Sir John (de) Burley.(FN49)
11. On February 17 to March 25, 1377, Chaucer made a journey overseas in the company of Sir Thomas Percy to Flanders "in secretis negociis domini regis" (on the secret business of his lord the king) and also to Paris and Montreuil.(FN50)
12. On April 11, 1377, the payment of a gift of £20 was made by Edward III to Chaucer "causa diversorum viagiorum... ad diversas partes transmarinas," (for diverse journeys... to diverse parts overseas) although these journeys have not been identified.(FN51)
13. Chaucer made a journey to parts of France on the king's secret business occupying fourteen days between April 30 and June 26, 1377. Such a journey explains Chaucer's absence from court on the death of Edward III on June 21, 1377.(FN52)
14. Chaucer made a journey between June 22 (or 26), 1377, and March 6, 1381, in connection with a proposed marriage between Richard II and a princess of France (Marie, daughter of Charles V).(FN53) Chaucer's itineraries in 1377 and 1378 were complicated and probably at this distance in time impossible satisfactorily to unravel. They were prompted by a flurry of diplomatic activity at the time of Edward III's death and Richard II's accession concerning both peace negotiations between England and France and a proposed marriage alliance between England and France. Jean Froissart gives an account of Chaucer's presence at negotiations at Montreuil-sur-Mer in the company of Sir Guichard dAngle(FN54) and Sir Richard Stury in February to June 1377: "si furent envoiiet à Monstruel sus mer, dou costé des François, li sires de Couci, hi sires de le Rivière, messires Nicolas Brake et Nicolas le Mercier, et dou costé des Englés, messires Guichars d'Angle, messires Richars Sturi et Joffrois Cauchiés" (The French then sent to Montreuil-sur-mer the Lord de Coucy, the Lord de La Rivière, Sir Nicolas Braque and Nicolas Le Mercier, and the English Sir Guichard d'Angle, Sir Richard Stury, and Geoffrey Chaucer; 8:226.8-12; trans. Brereton, 194). It seems that Froissart has conflated the peace negotiations of 1377 and the peace and marriage negotiations of 1378.(FN55)
15. On May 28 to September 19, 1378, Chaucer made a journey to Lombardy in the company of Sir Edward (de) Berkeley(FN56) to Bernabò Visconti, lord of Milan, and his son-in-law, the English mercenary Sir John Hawkwood,(FN57) "pro certis negociis expedicionem guerre tangentibus" (on business concerning the conduct of the war).(FN58)
16. On July 5, 1387, letters of protection were enrolled for Chaucer in respect of a journey to Calais "in obsequium regis" (in the service of the king) in the company of Sir William Beauchamp, later Lord Bergavenny.(FN59) Sir William Beauchamp had been appointed captain of Calais on September 8, 1383, and continued in this appointment by extensions beyond January 8, 1388, but not beyond March 13, 1390, by which time he had been succeeded by Sir Henry Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland.(FN60)
Only a man blessed with the vigor of youth and a sound physical constitution could have undertaken these strenuous journeys with any degree of success. A journey from England to Bruges and return would require at least twelve days in Chaucer's time and that to Lombardy would have necessitated five weeks of travel in each direction.(FN61) The perils of such journeys are sufficient to give point to Dorigenfs fears of "the grisly rokkes blake" (V 859) off the coast of Brittany. Nor should we underestimate the attendant risks indicated by the need for safe-conducts and the company of knights and attendants. On the journey to Lombardy in 1378, Sir Edward Berkeley was accompanied by a party of ten, and Chaucer himself by a party of five.(FN62) The return to England of the mission to Lombardy of Sir John Burley and Sir Michael de la Pole in 1379 was delayed by their capture by bandits and the need for ransoms to obtain their release.(FN63) There was always the possibility of the violent interruption of one's travels, and on two days at the beginning of September 1390, Chaucer himself was subject to violent assault and robbery. On September 3, 1390, at the "Fowle Ok" in the parish of Deptford he was robbed of his horse, other possessions, and £20 of the king's money. On September 6, 1390, at Westminster he was robbed of £10, and on the same day at Hatcham in Surrey of £9.43/44d.(FN64) Perhaps this was just an unlucky series of occurrences (if the records are correct), and perhaps Chaucer was more vulnerable in his later years. But such hazards must always have existed, and he must have taken full account of them in the course of his many diplomatic missions.
The journeys undertaken by Chaucer in his youth were indeed tasks for knights and squires, and if we wish to form some idea of the appearance that Chaucer himself would have made in the world of affairs at this time in his life (in his twenties and thirties) we need to take note of the various portraits that he supplies of squires in his works. The twenty-year-old son of the Knight is "wonderly delyvere, and of greet strengthe" (I 84), and Aurelius, the lovelorn squire, is "Yong, strong, right vertuous, and riche, and wys" (V 933).(FN65) How must he have deplored the waste of his youthful energies in the paralyzing and debilitating love of a woman he knows to be beyond his reach, both socially and morally. Thus, when Chaucer described the rigors of the life of knights on horseback, he knew what he was talking about, and in this shared experience there was surely room for instinctive sympathy rather than distaste for the knightly class. Indeed, he belonged to that class himself and must have had an intimate knowledge of many of the most important actors on this stage, the great and the not so great, the brave and the not so brave. Thus his testimony as "esquier del age de xl ans et plus armeez par xxvii ans" (a squire of forty years of age and more and bearing arms for twenty-seven years) was of value in the celebrated Scrope-Grosvenor trial in which he gave his deposition in favor of the right of Sir Richard (le) Scrope(FN66) to bear the arms Azure, a bend or, for he had seen Sir Richard bearing such arms before Péthel near Rheims in December 1359/January 1360 (and Sir Henry (le) Scrope,(FN67) his cousin, in the same arms differenced with a label, that is, Azure, a bend or and a label of three points argent).(FN68)
It often seems that critics have paid little attention to Chaucer's own status and experience in war and in the high-level negotiations that inevitably accompany war, possibly because few if any of his critics and interpreters can lay claim to any comparable experience. A great imaginative effort is required if we are to see knights and battles in the way that Chaucer saw them. We are more comfortable perhaps with the image of Chaucer as a dumpy figure in his late middle age, "a popet in an arm tenbrace/For any womman" (VII 701-2), like many a modern scholar.(FN69) But we must not confound the famous and celebrated poet in his later years in a fictional setting with the eager young squire at the center of affairs and historic events with his way yet to make in the world. To understand the portrait of the Knight with which the series of portraits begins (I 43-78) we must begin with the world of battles in which a knight lives out his life and by which he is defined. It is a world that Chaucer inhabited in his early years. We are perhaps led to underestimate the importance of these years in the formation of Chaucer's attitudes and beliefs because of our ignorance of his whereabouts and activities in the years from 1360 to 1366. These are vital years in any life, the period from seventeen or so (we cannot be precise) to twenty-three in which we grow from youth to manhood. Our lack of knowledge does not diminish the importance of these years for Chaucer himself. We are liable always to put other things in their place (according to our own predispositions), and in this way we may be led to think of the Knight of the pilgrimage to Canterbury not as a heroic figure at all but as a mercenary.(FN70) It is in the light of such a proposal (and in defiance of historical and textual plausibility) that the career of Sir John Hawkwood has been adduced as a possible model for Chaucer's portrait.
In favor of the claim for Sir John Hawkwood are his dates (ca. 1320-94). He is perhaps a little older than the Knight of the General Prologue, but the dates suit well enough. He remained in the field until the age of seventy-two, an impressive record for a soldier by any standard. His career was that of no ordinary man. He was commended by Froissart as "ung moult vaillant chevalier anglois" (a very valiant English knight 12:99, 17-18), and in 1395 Richard II requested the return of his body to England. His bones and ashes were laid to rest in the church at Sible Hedingham and a chantry was founded there by some of his friends. Nevertheless, Hawkwood's military career was spent in France (he was present at Crécy and Poitiers) and in Italy (from 1362 to his death), and these are places conspicuously absent from Chaucer's catalogue of the Knight's campaigns.(FN71) Further, Sir John Hawkwood is just one in a long list of knightly names known to Chaucer, for Chaucer's service in the royal households brought him again and again into close contact (sometimes for a matter of weeks at a time) with the great names of English chivalry in the great age of English chivalry Thus a Breton knight such as Arveragus chooses "to goon and dwelle a yeer or tweyne/In Engelond, that cleped was eek Briteyne,/To seke in armes worshipe and honour" (V 809-11). Why should Chaucer not also admire the great warriors who have proved themselves repeatedly in such battles as Crécy (almost all of the founder-knights of the Garter), Neville's Cross, Poitiers, and Nájera? No doubt he would have discussed matters of chivalric reputation at length with a John Burley, a Thomas Percy, a Guichard D'Angle, an Edward Berkeley, or a William Beauchamp. Later in life he would be given the responsibility of attending to the needs of warriors of such stature in tournament (Smithfield) and worship (St, George's Chapel, Windsor).(FN72)
THE REPUTATION OF KNIGHTS
The study of Chaucer in recent years has been impeded by the degradation of the Knight and other knights like him: Arveragus of the Franklin's Tale and Gawain of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight -- the one, so we are to believe, indifferent to the well-being of his wife,(FN73) and the other abusive of womankind,(FN74) and the two of them alike preoccupied with personal reputation rather than the exercise of virtue.(FN75) But an experience of battles (or even tournaments) such as Chaucer himself possessed should tell us that knights had to justify reputations in the most public of arenas. Fine words must in battle be accompanied by fine actions. Knights had to be prepared to die, and often they did indeed die. At Bannockburn on June 24, 1314, Sir Giles d'Argentan led the king, Edward II, by the reins to safety when the battle was lost, but turned back to his own death. Even the Scottish chronicler John Barbour in The Bruce (ca. 1372-75) was moved to record the sorrow at the heroic end of so great a knight:
Off hys deid wes rycht gret pité,
He wes the thrid best knycht perfay
That men wyst lyvand in his day,
He did mony a fayr journé.(FN76)
Similarly, Sir Geoffroi de Charny died at Poitiers in 1356 a death befitting the author of Le Livre de chevalerie, holding in his hands to the end the oriflamme of Saint Denis that had been entrusted to him by Jean II, the king of France:
Meanwhile Sir Geoffroy de Charny had been fighting gallantly near the King. The whole of the hunt was upon him, because he was carrying the King's master-banner. He also had his own banner in the field, gules, three in escutcheons argent. The English and Gascons came in such numbers from all sides that they shattered the Kings division. The French were so overwhelmed by their enemies that in places there were five men-at-arms attacking a single knight. Sir Geoffroy de Charny was killed, with the banner of France in his hands.(FN77)
Sir Louis Robessart died an exemplary death as a Knight of the Garter at Conty in 1430, according to the Burgundian chronicler, Ghillebert de Lannoy, in preferring "pour garder l'honneur de saditte ordre et aussi la sienne, ... demourer en laditte place où il morut glorieusement, honnourabtement et à très petite compaignie des siens" (in order to preserve the honor of the said order and also his own, ... to remain in the said place where he died gloriously, honorably, and protected by a very small company of his own men).(FN78) Better such a death for a knight than to die, like the Black Prince, disappointed by the death of his elder son and heir, Edward of Angoulême, in his sixth year in 1370,(FN79) and suffering the physical humiliation of a long and incapacitating illness in the final years of his life from 1367 to his death on June 8, 1376.(FN80) But even such a passing was preferable to that of his father, for the Black Prince's illustrious reputation was still (at the age of forty-five) fresh in the minds of his admiring fellow-countrymen; "his name" not yet "apalled... for age," "his vassellage" not yet "al forgeten" (KnT, I 3053-54). Edward III himself survived into a dotage in which royal authority was compromised by a powerful and greedy mistress, Alice Perrers,(FN81) and an exclusive and untrusted circle of court favorites, presided over by the chamberlain, Lord Latimer,(FN82) and steward, Lord Neville,(FN83) and including among the chamber knights, Sir Alan Buxhill,(FN84) Sir Richard Stury, and Sir Philip la Vache.(FN85) They were famously called to account in the Good Parliament that met at Westminster on April 28 to July 10, 1376, and resulted in the conviction and imprisonment of Latimer and the forfeiture of Alice Perrers (although both were pardoned in the great council summoned by John of Gaunt in October 1376) and also the dismissal of Neville.(FN86) The ignominy of the ending of Edwards long reign is indeed a textbook example of Boccaccio's "dismal old age full of endless troubles" ("oscura/vecchiezza piena d'infiniti guai").(FN87)
In developing Theseus's argument for making a virtue out of the necessity of Arcite's death, that is, by showing a wise acceptance of those things decreed by fate and beyond the wit of human beings to alter, Chaucer draws together in concentrated form the matter on the consolation of fame in a youthful death that is somewhat separated in his source (Teseida, XII.9.1-5, XII.12.1-8) to focus on the death of Arcite (I 3047-56). Further, Chaucer is concerned not with the mere fact of reputation but with the allied questions of honor and virtue, that is, with "a worthy fame" (I 3055). In this respect, the case of Arcite is more fortunate than that of the Black Prince, whose reputation as a chivalrous knight would have been more secure had he died at Poitiers or at Nájera rather than after the sack of Limoges (even Froissait was taken aback by his cruelty on that occasion).(FN88) Chaucer has a better end in view for a knight at the end of Troilus and Criseyde, for the hero goes to meet his death in the flower of his youth at the hands of the great Achilles in a mortal struggle for the survival of his country (V, 1800-1806).
At the end of the Knight's Tale, Chaucer brings to bear the full weight of Aristotle's teaching on honor and virtue, and in so doing gives a more positively emphatic gloss to Arcite's death than Boccaccio does. Arcite dies not merely at the height of his fame but when he has done nothing to tarnish that fame by dishonorable deeds:
And certeinly a man hath moost honour
To dyen in his excellence and flour,
Whan he is siker of his goode name;
Thanne hath he doon his freend, ne hym, no shame.
Here we need to understand the medieval discourse of honor and shame, and it is something more than a public display of honor and an avoidance of the appearance of shame.
Honor in the full Aristotelian meaning of the word is not concern for reputation at the expense of virtue but is the reward that is due to virtue, as is explained in the discussion of the virtue of magnanimity: "for honor is a reward of virtue and is attributed to the virtuous" (Ethics, IV.3 1123b 35).(FN89) Honor is not indeed superior to virtue but simply the best that we can do by way of recognition of virtue (Ethics, IV.31124a 7).(FN90) Honor is to be pursued for the sake of virtue, not virtue for the sake of honor, for it is virtue that is the cause of honor: "So virtue, for whose sake honor is sought, is a better thing than honor" (Commentary, 65). Thus honor is sought incidentally, and from the wise and the good as a testimony of virtue (Ethics, I.5 1095b 26-30, VIII.8 1159a 17-24; Commentary, 65, 642-43). Here we need to distinguish the pursuit of honor in good and bad senses. A man is to be praised who seeks honor out of the love of virtue, but to be blamed if he inordinately desires to be honored.(FN91) The good man acts for the sake of honor and not for his own interest, and this principle means that he must be prepared to sacrifice his own interest if it is necessary to do so: "On the other hand the virtuous man does what is honorable. And the better he is the more he works for the good and for his friend's sake, even overlooking his own interests" (Ethics, IX.8 1168a 33-35).(FN92) For a knight, death in battle was only the most obvious instance. More difficult in a way, perhaps, is the acceptance of unmerited shame.
Sometimes the love of honor requires the acceptance of an appearance of shame that is undeserved. This is the case with Sir Gawain on the evening after the lady's second uninvited visit to his bedroom in the early morning. She gives those present to believe that more passed between the two than it would be entirely proper to put into words. But Sir Gawain maintains an honorable silence to his own disadvantage, preferring to accept the imputation of improper conduct on his own part rather than to contradict a lady in public (lines 1658-63). A more problematic example is the willingness of a knight (Arveragus) to be cuckolded by a squire (Aurelius) in order to preserve the honor of his wife (Dorigen), This sacrifice of honor is noted in the Filocolo as the reason for the husband's superior claim to the virtue of generosity.(FN93) It is not in the knight's and husband's personal interest that his lady and wife be unchaste and unfaithful, for the love and fidelity of a wife adds immeasurably to the honor of a husband (an argument put at length in the Fibcob by Fiammetta).(FN94) The knight's sacrifice of his personal honor comes at a great price, and even Arveragus is unable entirely to conceal his inner anguish of soul (V 1480). But life sometimes asks even (or perhaps especially) of the best these impossible choices.
PRUDENCE AND MORAL VIRTUE
It is in the true, that is, good, sense that Chaucer says of the Knight that "he loved.../honour" (I 45-46). It might once have been thought impossible to detect any strain of irony in the list of the Knight's virtues and the roll-call of the victorious battles in which he has participated. Instead of following Terry Jones in so unproductive an assumption, we might attend rather to the link between prudence and moral virtue that in the case of the worthy Knight makes the assumption of ironic dispraise untenable.
Aristode tells us that we are what we are by what we do, not by what we say, that is, our characters are determined to good or bad by the choices that we make: "Virtue then is a habit that chooses the mean in regard to us, as that mean is determined by reason and understood by a wise man" (Ethics, II.6 1106b 36-1107a 2). This concept is a hard matter in itself, requiring deliberation in the light of the habit of first principles, that is, a certain understanding of the universal principles of action (what Aquinas calls synderesis).(FN95) Deliberation is directed to a judgment as to what is right to do or not to do (the fallible act of conscience) and then to the act of command by which the judgment is put into action.(FN96) This is the virtue of prudence if there is a correct process of reasoning: "It is good to seek the mean only insofar as it is determined by reason, but because reason can be right or erring, we must perform virtue according to right reason" (Commentary, 322). Langland demonstrates this process of reasoning from the infallible knowledge of first principles (Kind Wit) to the fallible act of judgment (Conscience) backed by the unwavering support of right reason or prudence (Reason) in the first vision of Piers Plowman.(FN97) Here we see that Conscience is vindicated in his rejection of Meed as a suitable wife. It seems that Conscience himself, like Chaucer's Knight, is a crusading knight. Thus as Conscience "cam late fro biyonde" (B.3.110), so Chaucer's Knight "was late ycome from his viage" (I 77).(FN98)
Prudence is directed entirely to our conduct in this world, that is, it is a matter not of the speculative but of the practical intellect (Summa theoiogiae, 2a 2ae 47.2). Whereas the speculative intellect is concerned solely with the truth of things, the practical intellect orders what it knows to action (Summa theoiogiae, 1a 2ae 79.11). Hence, the wisdom attributed to a prudent man is not philosophical wisdom but wisdom in the conduct of human affairs: "To explain this he adds 'as understood by a wise man.' 'Wise' here does not refer to one who is wise simply, knowing the ultimate causes of the whole universe, but rather to one who is prudent, that is, wise in human affairs" (Commentary, 323).
In the case of soldiers, this definition refers to prudence in the conduct of war. Indeed, military prudence is one of three species of prudence as Aquinas sets it out in the Summa theoiogiae (2a 2ae 48, and 50.4). Hence, in respect both of the Knight and Theseus, prudence is linked immediately to the exercise of arms and the virtue of courage. A knight who lacks prudence will not long survive the exigencies of war even if blest by good fortune. Thus after the list of the Knight's campaigns extending over a period of some forty years (I 51-66), Chaucer reminds us that "though that he were worthy, he was wys" (I 68). Similarly the Theseus who returns in triumph to Athens at the beginning of the Knight's Tale has achieved his conquest of the land of the Amazons through "his wysdom and his chivalrie" (I 865).
The outward sign of the Knight's prudence is to be found in the simplicity and lack of ostentation of his dress. His gypon (surcoat)(FN99) over his coat of mail (habergeon) is made of fustian (I 75-76),(FN100) a strong serviceable material that will stand up to the rigors of campaigning and hence frequently is found in conjunction with body armor. He lacks the sophisticated finery of dress of the redoubtable (and delicate) Sir Thopas, who wears "next his white leere/Of cloth of lake fyn and deere,/A breech and eek a sherte" (VII 857-59). As in the detailed description of the arming of Sir Gawain (SGGK, lines 570-89), there is no mention of any plate armor between the coat of mail and the surcoat. The reference to the "newe gyse" of the armor of the knights in the company of Palamon (I 2125) suggests that there is an element of fashion in the use of plate armor. Palamon is not after all victorious in the melee against Arcite, and Chaucer's Knight, an experienced fighter, is likely to favor a form of body armor allowing mobility as well as protection that has already proved its worth in many a battle. It is Sir Thopas who wears plate armor in addition to a quilted tunic and coat of mail:
And next his sherte an aketoun,
And over that an haubergeoun
For percynge of his herte;
And over that a fyn hawberk,
Ful strong it was of plate.
(VII 860-63, 865)
Sir Thopas has the full kit and is just the knight to be in the vanguard of contemporary fashion.
In the rust stains on his surcoat from his coat of mail (I 76), there is another reminder that the Knight has spent his life at the sharp end of war, for the presence of rust is a realistic detail that focuses at once on the reality of campaigning. When Sir Gawain prepares to leave Hautdesert for his deadly appointment with the Green Knight, he is pleased to see "þe ryngez rokked of be roust of his riche bruny" (SGGK, line 2018). Such rust had inevitably accumulated in the course of his lonely quest through North Wales and the Wirral in November and December. If we are uncomfortable with details of this kind as suggesting the moral infirmity of Chaucer's Knight, we shall recall the corresponding moral realism of the Gawain-poet. No one, not even the greatest of knights, can exceed the limits of humanity, and hence there will be evidence of moral stain even in the execution of great deeds. Hence, the pentangle, not the circle, is the fitting symbol for the Knight, as it is for Sir Gawain.
But the Knight does not lack dignity, and it accords with his dignity that he is accompanied by his courteous, humble, and obedient son, the Squire (I 99-100) and his well-equipped and efficient bodyguard, the Yeoman. (I 104-8, 111-14) One might normally expect a Knight on serious business to be supported by a company of ten, as was Sir Edward de Berkeley on his mission with Chaucer to Lombardy in 1378. Indeed, Chaucer himself as esquire had a company of five on that occasion.(FN101) But on the pilgrimage to Canterbury (a private not a public occasion), the Knight prefers to ride in less splendid style ("hym liste ride so" [I 102]). In all of this we see a seriousness of purpose that has characterized the Knight's military career (the Prioress, after all, has an entourage of four [I 163-64]).
The group of three fighters, even though it includes the gallant and dashing young Squire, takes its tone from the father rather than the son. There is a modesty and decorum in the group as a whole that is suggestive of military purpose rather than public display. Jones has rightly called attention to the lance formation of knight, page, and archer, as the characteristic English fighting unit of the late fourteenth century.(FN102) Military contracts customarily specified not only individual horsemen but standard units such as the barbuta, consisting of two men, a knight and a page (favored by the Germans); the lance, consisting of three men, knight, squire, and page (favored by the English and later becoming the common practice in Italian armies); and the banner, consisting of twenty to twenty-five knights. By the late fourteenth century archers had been integrated with cavalry units, serving in lances. Longbowmen were integrated within lances either singly, with longbow and horse, or doubly, that is, attended by a page.(FN103)
The Squire is a young lover as young men are wont to be, and dressed to impress his lady in the height of fashion in short embroidered gown with long, wide sleeves (I 89-90, 93).(FN104) But he is passionate and virile (I 80-84, 87-88, 94-98), not effeminate like the Pardoner (also a young man) (I 675-83, 688-91). The Knight can rely upon such a son in battle, and indeed the Squire has already (perhaps at the age of sixteen, like the Black Prince at Crécy) been tried and proven in "Flaundres, in Artoys, and Pycardie" (I 86). These locations possibly refer to the crusade of the bellicose Bishop of Norwich, Henry Despenser, in 1383 in Flanders against the Clementists.(FN105) Although it was a military fiasco (not the kind of thing to be associated with our all-conquering Knight), it was technically a crusade, not a mere "so-called" crusade as it is often termed, as being legitimated by Pope Urban VI (elected April 8, 1378), and it was responded to enthusiastically as such in England in the course of the preparations for the crusade in 1382-83.(FN106) The date fits well the age of the Squire if we assume (not an absolutely necessary assumption) that the Squire was "twenty yeer of age" (182) at the time of the writing of the General Prologue in 1387. On the other hand, in his portrait of the Knight Chaucer is careful to avoid reference to crusades against fellow Christians in Italy, as for example the crusade in the Papal States (1353-57) authorized by Innocent VI (1352-62) and the crusade against Milan (1360, renewed in 1363 and 1368), also authorized by Innocent VI's successor, Urban V (1362-70). Moreover, the crusade of the Bishop of Norwich was limited to attacks on the towns of Gravelines, Dunkirk, Bourbourg, and Ypres -- that is, to Flanders -- and the references to Artois and Picardy make better sense in respect of the chevauchée of Thomas of Woodstock, Earl of Buckingham (later Duke of Gloucester), sixth son of Edward III, in 1380 in support of Jean IV de Montfort, Duke of Brittany and Earl of Richmond (Knight of the Garter, April 1375).(FN107) Whatever expedition or expeditions the Squire had been involved in by the age of twenty, it would clearly be an error of judgment to underestimate his military experience and distinction.
The Yeoman is as well equipped for the battlefield as any archer could hope to be with sword, shield, and dagger "sharp as point of spere" (I 114),(FN108) in addition to his "myghty bowe" (the powerful longbow, perhaps six feet long, used to such deadly effect by English archers at Crécy and Poitiers) and arrows "bright and kene" well fitted with the peacock feathers (from the wing, not the tail) that were superior to goose feathers (I 104-8). If the Yeoman's "bracer" (arm guard) is "gay" (I 111) as his lord is not (174) (a pointed contrast), and his dagger "harneised wel" (I 114),(FN109) this can only be to enhance the dignity of the lord who does not require enhancement by self-assertion. The Yeoman is indeed the quintessential yeoman, and Chaucer goes out of his way to make this fact verbally explicit, for "Wel koude he dresse his takel yemanly" (I 106).(FN110) Thus in the three figures Knight, Squire, Yeoman, we have an impressive group (or perhaps lance) of fighters.
The prudence of the Knight as a fighting man is chiefly signified by the care he takes of his horses. The Old English word cniht loses etymological contact with the notion of an elite warrior on horseback (chevalier). But not even an English knight (though he might have elected to fight on foot, as at Halidon Hill on July 19, 1333, in Edward III's first great victory) was ever unaware of the importance of his horses. On the reysa in Prussia and Lithuania, for example, Chaucer's Knight would have required at least three warhorses and also three packhorses to supply them with feed.(FN111) It takes many years to learn to fight on horseback, and when unhorsed in battle, a Knight is vulnerable to the knives of pillagers and looters. We may note the contrast between the experienced Knight of the General Prologue and the impetuous Chevalier de la Charrete of Chrétien de Troyes's famous romance of that name. The Knight of the Cart (Lancelot) drives his first horse to the point of exhaustion and death (lines 270-73, 279-81, 296-98), and in his impetuosity he does not take care to choose the better of the two horses offered him by Gauvain (lines 290-95).(FN112) The subsequent comparison of the Knight of the Cart to Pyramus (lines 3802-4) is indeed well judged, for Pyramus is the very type of the impetuous lover. Sir Thomas Malory knows only too well that conduct of this kind in a knight is not compatible with one "renomed the moste nobelyst knyght of the worlde" (Morte, 1047/17-18).(FN113) Hence, he reconstructs the story of the Knight of the Cart so as to remove any possible criticism of his own Sir Launcelot for negligence in respect of the care of his horses.(FN114)
The Knight does all things prudently that will help him to achieve success in battle. If he has to fight, he does not do so rashly. Thus Sir John Chandos was admired by Froissart not only for his prowess, loyalty, and courtesy, but also for his moderation (mesure), protecting the Black Prince at Poitiers and John of Gaunt at Najera.(FN115) Thus also Malory's Sir Trystram (the greater knight) urges caution on Sir Palomydes, "for manhode is nat worthe but yf hit be medled with wysdome" (Morte, 700/19-20). One may admire the dash and spirit of the heavy cavalry of the Union Brigade under Sir William Ponsonby and Household Brigade under Lord Edward Somerset in the early afternoon at Waterloo, but one must regret at the same time their impetuosity and lack of discipline in being unable to respond to the rally. Thus Sir William Ponsonby ended his life in the mud during the vain retreat from that gallant assault. Courage untempered by wisdom had degenerated into impetuosity, and the penalty (as so often in war) was death, albeit an honorable death.(FN116) A no less poignant example is the death of the fighter ace, Dickey Lee, in the Battle of Britain. At the height of the battle, on August 18, 1940, Lee was "last seen... thirty miles northeast of Margate, pursuing three German fighters out to sea."(FN117) Impetuosity in battle is understandable, but it is not an attribute of the greatest of knights.
It is easy to set down a warning against impetuosity in battle in cold print, and at the same time impossible entirely to withhold admiration for the exploits of those willing to hazard their lives in the heat of battle. Such were the exploits of the Lincolnshire knight Sir William Marmion, fighting to the point of death against the Scots before Norham Castle in Northumberland in the reign of Edward II to honor his vow to his lady,(FN118) and of Sir William Felton, giving up his life with a magnanimous lack of self-regard against a superior force of Spanish knights in Castile in 1367.(FN119) Since the mean of virtue is a mean of reason, it follows that the mean is not to be thought of as lying exactly intermediate between its extremes of excess and defect. The mean of courage thus lies closer to its excess of rashness than its defect of cowardice, as Aristotle explains: "In some cases it is the defect that is more opposed to the mean but in other cases it is the excess. Thus it is not rashness but cowardice, the defect, that is more opposed to fortitude" (Ethics, II.8 1108b 35-1109a 3). Nothing, indeed, was more indispensable to a knight than physical courage. Hence, the Knight of the General Prologue, albeit prudent, willingly accepts the risks that all soldiers must run in the course of battle. It was part of the high vocation of knighthood to live continuously with the possibility of imminent death. It is for this very reason that Geoffroi de Charny set the order of knighthood above even that of the priesthood:
But of the good knights and good men-at-arms... it might well be considered that they should be of as great or even greater integrity than might be required of a priest, for they are in danger every day, and at the moment when they think themselves to be the most secure, it is then that they may suddenly have to take up arms and often to undertake demanding and dangerous adventures.(FN120)
Thus has the Knight fought in three formal duels to the death and "ay slayn his foo" (I 63). Similarly, Theseus hazards his life in battle. He interrupts his triumph in response to the petition of the company of ladies, and proceeds to Thebes where he fights against the tyrant Creon and "slough hym manly as a knyght/In pleyn bataille" (I 987-88).(FN121) Theseus does not venture his life needlessly or rashly, but out of compassion (I 912-37, 948-58) and in order to right a great wrong (I 938-47, 959-64).
The expression of the Knight's prowess in terms of the cardinal virtue of fortitude is not compatible with the image of an "efficient killer" that Jones seeks to project.(FN122) Objections of this kind are objections to the very idea of knighthood. There is simply no point in having knights as defenders of justice and of the faith if they are incapable of victory in battle.
THE INTERCONNECTION OF VIRTUES
The love of honor includes the love of all the moral virtues, for "honor est cujuslibet virtutis praemium" (recognition is the reward of each and any virtue) (Summa theologiae, 2a 2ae 129.4). It is a fundamental principle of Aristotelian moral philosophy that the virtues are interrelated as being determined by prudence:
In this way we can refute the argument that some use to prove that virtues are separated one from another. We see that the same man is not equally well inclined by nature to all virtues. Wherefore he will be said to acquire the virtue he has known but not any other.
This does happen in regard to the natural virtues but not in regard to those virtues according to which a man is called absolutely good. The reason is that all the virtues are present simultaneously with prudence, a single virtue. (Ethics, VI.13 1144b 32-1145a 2)
Aquinas clarifies this point (if it is not sufficiently clear) in his Commentary as follows: "So when there is prudence, which is a single virtue, all the virtues will be simultaneous with it, and none of them will be present if prudence is not there" (1287; see also 1288). Hence, in loving honor, the Knight also "loved chivalrie/Trouthe... fredom and curteisie" (I 45-46). Prowess and loyalty are at the center of any and every warrior code and are parts respectively of the cardinal virtues of courage and justice. Generosity takes us to the higher forms of justice where there is barely any discernible obligation for moral conduct other than the sheer desire for it (Summa theologiae, 2a 2ae 80). Courtesy is the outward expression of such generosity of spirit and shows the presence in the knight of the cardinal virtue of temperance. Such temperance is emphasized at the end of the portrait in the Knight's humility, gentleness, politeness of speech, and modesty of dress (I 69-74). The description of the Knight's bearing "as meeke as is a mayde" (I 69) is surely extraordinary in so distinguished and experienced a warrior. The gentle and submissive image of a young unmarried woman, a virgin no doubt and in attendance on some great lady,(FN123) seems as far removed from the violence of war as it is possible to be, and no doubt that is Chaucer's suggestion. The violence of war has yet to blunt the Knight's moral sense, Indeed, within a system of moral virtue such as that set out in the Nicomachean Ethics, the virtue of courage implies not merely the absence of rashness and cowardice but also the absence of harshness, cruelty, arrogance, boastfulness, and churlish unpleasantness of manner.
Medieval poets and philosophers were great admirers and lovers of Aristotle (Dante and Chaucer being but two outstanding examples), and it is evident at every point that they absorbed the central lessons of the Nicomachean Ethics. Hence, we encounter these ideas of prudence and the interrelationship of the virtues again and again in our reading of medieval literature. In Troilus and Criseyde Troilus is recommended to Criseyde by Pandarus as a second Hector in whom "alle vertu list habounde,/As alle trouthe and alle gentilesse,/Wisdom, honour, fredom, and worthinesse" (II, 159-61), although the lady herself puts a slightly different gloss on his merits (II, 659-62). For Criseyde, Troilus's merits have primary significance insofar as they alleviate her own fears. There will soon be a parting of the ways when Troilus's heroic virtue and Criseyde's needs fail to coincide. In the Knight's Tale Arcite can lay claim in his death (but only in his death) to such an exalted state of knightly excellence, his virtue no longer undermined by jealousy of a friend's good (perhaps better) fortune (I 2789-91). The supreme example of this interrelation of virtues is the pentangle passage in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (lines 619-65). The moral virtue of courage is specified in the fourth group of five where it is related to the five joys of the Virgin Mary (lines 644-50). The fifth group of five is a set of five moral virtues belonging to justice and temperance:
Þe fyft fyue þat I finde þat þe frek vsed
Watz fraunchyse and felagschyp forbe al þyng,
His clannes and his cortaysye croked were neuer,
And pité, þat passez alle poyntez, þyse pure fyue
Were harder happed on þat haþel ben on any ober.
The Gawain-poet, like Aquinas (and also Chaucer), sees piety as the highest of the moral virtues. Modern commentators remain reluctant to accept the medieval logic, but it is irresistible in logical terms. Among the cardinal virtues, justice stands in the highest place as being directed not to the good of the individual (as are temperance and fortitude) but to the common good (Summa theologiae, 2a 2ae 58.12). And among the virtues of justice, piety stands in the highest place as being directed to the highest object, that is, God (Summa theologiae, 2a 2ae 81.6). Aquinas among others is quite clear on this point, and he is followed by the writers on chivalry, such as Ramon Llull and Geoffroi de Charny.
The modern discussion of knightly inspiration is bedevilled by the critical refusal to take the emphasis on piety at face value and with due seriousness. It is reflected by the confusion that is often found between pity and piety; and the wish to discover compassion (an eminently acceptable emotion) where the medieval writer insists upon piety. The wish is too often the father of the thought. The outstanding example is that of the Gawain-poet's identification of pité as the highest of the moral virtues exemplified by his hero. One scholar after another (without much interest in arguing the matter to a conclusion) opts for pity. But in the context of the pentangle this meaning is impossible. Pity is not a moral virtue at all; it is an emotion or passion, albeit a laudable passion (Summa theologiae, 1a 2ae 24.1, and 4). Hence, it is admired (but within these limits) by medieval poets. Chaucer tells us that "pitee renneth soone in gentil herte" (I 1761). It is to be found and commended in knights who, like Theseus, fight on behalf of widows against a tyrant (I 952-64), and, like Sir Launcelot, who fight against those who seek to "destroy and dystresse ladyes, damesels and jantyllwomen" (Morte, 270/11-12). Pity attains the level of moral virtue when it is directed aright by prudence to a good end. Here it attains the condition of mercy, as when Theseus softens his anger towards the two young Theban knights (I 1762-81). Nevertheless, the moral virtue of mercy or clemency belongs with temperance not with justice (Aquinas, Summa theologiae, 2a 2ae 157.3). It is not the highest of virtues. It is not to be compared to piety or rather it is not to be elevated above piety. Malory is quite clear on this point. Human love, so often as destructive as inspirational in its effects, is not to be set above divine love: "But firste reserve the honoure to God, and secundely thy quarell muste com of thy lady" (Morte, 1119/28-29).
Thus the highest of Sir Gawain's moral virtues is piety, and it is realized time and again throughout the romance in the knight's willingness to submit his human will to the divine will in the scrupulous observance of mass, at Camelot (SGGK, lines 592-93). in the course of his quest (lines 750-62) and during the Christmas celebrations at Hautdesert (lines 930-40, 1309-11, 1558), and (when it becomes necessary) in the sacrament of penance (lines 1876-84), The Gawain-poet is in no way eccentric or idiosyncratic in this emphasis. He is not only at one with Llull and Charny, but also with Chaucer insofar as the Knight is a crusading knight. Spenser in The Faerie Qveene understands this fundamental orientation of Christian chivalry when he makes the first of his questing knights (the Red Cross Knight, or Saint George) the knight of holiness. Spenser's great theme is not the Church of England or the Anglican Communion as opposed to the Church of Rome (although he cannot rewrite history so as to exclude the Reformation). It is holiness. The virtue of holiness is, like the rest, an Aristotelian moral virtue or, perhaps we may say, a virtue characterized in Aristotelian terms in the great tradition of scholastic Aristotelianism (of which Aquinas stands at the head). It is Spenser's equivalent of the "pité that passez alle poyntez" (SGGK, line 654). We may call it "piety," if we will, or "religion" (as Aquinas calls it). But "holiness" is the better word, for it reflects the broader scope of Spenser's moral and philosophical discourse, including not only the elicited virtue of piety but also the commanded virtue of fortitude.(FN124) Here again we see how the knightly virtues of courage and piety are at one and not sundered by the experience of fighting and of conflict.
Thus we encounter an emphasis on piety repeatedly in the great chivalric figures of the fourteenth century. The piety of Edward III is amply testified to in the chronicles of Geoffrey le Baker (1357-60) and Froissart (1369-1400). The man who, fighting under the patronage of Saint George and the Virgin Mary, overcame greatly superior numbers at Halidon Hill on July 19, 1333, and Crécy on August 26, 1346, had a profound sense (like Wellington at Waterloo) of being blessed by the hand of God. Edward himself made many pilgrimages, on an almost annual basis, to the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket at Canterbury.(FN125) The piety of his illustrious eldest son, the Black Prince, is not less evident in the Chandos Herald's La Vie du Prince Noir (1385). The Black Princes devotion to the Holy Trinity is especially marked, both at the beginning of the poem (lines 85-92) and at its end (lines 4176-78). Before the battles of Poitiers (lines 1260-73) and Nájera (lines 3172-87), the Black Prince makes his prayer to God for aid, and after them he attributes the victory not to himself but to God (lines 1427-32, 3502-8). The piety of his fourth son, John of Gaunt, is hardly less in evidence. Although he was a patron of Wyclif in the 1370s, Gaunt's religious orthodoxy is evident in his support of the Carmelites (the confessors both of himself and of his first wife, Blanche of Lancaster, were Carmelites); in his devotion to the Virgin Mary, reflected in his bequest to Lincoln Cathedral, one of her greatest shrines; in the crusading privileges he received from Urban VI for his projected expedition to Castile in 1383; and in the crusade itself in Castile in 1386-87 against the Clementists.(FN126) Gaunt was also a patron of the Hospital of St. Mary Rouncesval at Charing Cross, in whose employ is to be found Chaucer's Pardoner (I 669-70).(FN127) At his death on February 3, 1399, his body remained unburied and unembalmed in accordance with his will for forty days before his burial at St. Paul's Cathedral on Passion Sunday, March 16, 1399.(FN128)
We are dealing in all these cases (that is, with the exception of the hypocritical Pardoner) with no mere external show of piety but with a profound religious conviction. The piety or holiness of the Knight is thus of a piece with the spirit of the age. It is signified by his eagerness to join the pilgrimage to Canterbury, and its importance is signified by the fact that it is reserved for the final lines of the portrait (177-78). There is no reason to suppose that Chaucer himself (for all the ironic gestures of his poetry) is out of sympathy with these great ideals. It is inherently more probable that he shares the convictions of the age in which he lives rather than the convictions (or lack of convictions) of a later age (as it happens, our own age). If this view of the matter is unpalatable, it ought not to be surprising from an historical point of view. And it seems that after a generation or so of scholarly debate we have returned to this age-old view of the Knight as a champion of justice and of the Christian faith.
This view is that of the great Majorcan knight Ramon Lull (ca. 1235-1315) in his seminal work on chivalry, Le Libre De l'Orde De Cavauleria (1275-76). The continuing popularity of Llull's Catalan treatise on chivalry in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries is demonstrated by the translations into French, English, and Scots and by the number of extant manuscripts and printed texts.(FN129) William Caxton in his own translation from the French version, The Book of the Ordre of Chyualry, dedicated to Richard III (ca. 1484), puts the matter as follows:
The offyce of a knyght is to mayntene and deffende the holy feyth catholyque... Thoffyce of a knyght is to mayntene and deffende/his lord worldly or terryen... By the knyztes ouzt to be mayntened & kept justyce... Kniztes ouzt to take coursers to juste & to go to tornoyes/to holde open table/to hunte at hertes/at bores & other wyld bestes/For in doynge these thynges the knyztes excercyse them to armes/for to mayntene thordre of kni3thode...(FN130) Thoffyce of a knyght is to mayntene and deffende wymmen/wydowes and orphanes. (24/9-11, 29/11-12, 30/6-7, 31/3-7, 38/14-15)
In an original epilogue Caxton makes a stirring appeal to the knights of England to fulfill this noble ideal of knighthood, and in so doing to emulate the example of their worthy ancestors. Here such knights as Sir John Chandos and Sir Walter Mauny (and, it must be admitted, Sir Robert Knolles and Sir John Hawkwood) take their place beside Sir Lancelot, Sir Galahad, Sir Tristram, Sir Percival, and Sir Gawain (122/8-123/9).
It is not to be expected that the Knight of Chaucer's portrait, any more than any other knight, can perfectly exemplify in his own life and conduct these moral values. He is, after all, on a pilgrimage to Canterbury himself in explicit (if silent) recognition of his own imperfection. But there ought to be no doubt that his life has been inspired by these values. Thus Chaucer does not say that the Knight was brave, loyal, honorable, generous, and courteous (although he gives us good reason to believe that he was), but that he loved these qualities and acted out of them. As Aquinas explains, following Aristotle, it is not enough to do what the just man does to be just. Virtue is a habit and the just man acts out of the habit of justice, that is to say, promptly and with pleasure: "as Aristotle himself says, it is easy to do what the just man does, but to do it in the way in which the just man does it, that is, with pleasure and promptly, is difficult for someone who does not have the virtue of justice" (Summa theologiae, la 2ae 107.4).(FN131) It is precisely this sense of the conformity between the interior and exterior acts of moral virtue that we understand in respect of the Knight. It was not merely that he was chivalrous (in all the senses of that word) but also that he "loved chivalrie,/Trouthe and honour, fredom and curteisie" (145-46). He is precisely to be distinguished from the hypocrite as first from last.
MORAL GOODNESS AND THE RHETORIC OF PRAISE
In understanding Chaucer's portrait of the Knight, it is necessary to make the case once again for moral goodness, for it is a case that has gone by default in a modern age of spin and cynicism, and in a world in which image can seem more compelling than the inner reality of moral virtue.
The sympathetic presentation of the Knight's military enterprises is artistically realized through the common devices of epideictic rhetoric (and here the rhetoric of praise).(FN132) Hence, moral goodness is poetically and pleasingly represented as handsomeness or beauty. In the case of a great lady such as Blanche of Lancaster, the marks of physical beauty in the Book of the Duchess are interwoven with corresponding moral qualities in a logical and systematic order: thus hair and eyes (855-59), face (895-913), neck (939-47), and body (948-60) on the one hand; and openness (symplesse) and truthfulness (860-94, 914-18), friendliness (919-38), and cheerfulness (961-84) on the other. All social virtues, these virtues are classified by Aristotle in the Ethics (11.7, and IV.6-8) as part of the cardinal virtue of temperance.(FN133) This combination of physical (effictio) and moral (notatio) qualities cannot always have existed on the testing field of battle. Sometimes the physical unattractiveness is quite at odds with the radiance of the inner virtue of courage, as in Sorley Maclean's "Englishman in Egypt" whose "pimply unattractive face" is the "garment of the bravest spirit."(FN134) In the case of a young knight, battle might not yet have had time to dim the handsomeness of early youth. Thus we are gratified to learn as Sir Gawain sets out from Hautdesert on the morning of his appointed meeting with the Green Knight that he is "[þ]e gayest into Grece" (SGGK, line 2023), that is, the most handsome of knights from here into Greece.(FN135) But the rigors of war over a long period of time are bound to exact a physical price, and these will perhaps be evident in disfiguring scars. Chaucer's Knight must have paid such a physical price for his military exertions, as did that great warrior and king, Edward III, in his declining years as he entered his sixties. Hence, it is surely by deliberate omission that Chaucer makes no mention of the Knight's physical qualities. Nothing is to stand in the way of our admiration for so excellent a man.
Thus Chaucer begins by identifying and continues by insisting upon the Knight's excellence: "A Knyght ther was, and that a worthy man," "Ful worthy was he in his lordes were," "This ilke worthy knyght hadde been also," "And though that he were worthy, he was wys" (I 43, 47, 64, 68). The use of the word worthy is precisely what is required in the celebration of knightly virtue, corresponding to the French preu. In Troilus and Criseyde Troilus is the "worthi Ector the secounde" (II, 158), and Ector himself is "of worthynesse welle" (II, 178). In the Knight's Tale Theseus is "this worthy duc" (I 1001, 1742) and "this duc, this worthy knyght" (12190). In the Franklin's Tale Arveragus is "this worthy knyght" (V 1460) and "of chivalrie the flour" (V 1088). This praise is a matter not of mere opinion or reputation, but of deeds done. And when it comes to the exercise of arms, there is no such thing as a small feat of arms: "For I maintain that there are no small feats of arms, but only good and great ones, although some feats of arms are of greater worth than others."(FN136) Charny does not tire of saying "Qui plus (miex) fait, miex vault" (he who does more [best] is of greater worth [most worthy]).(FN137) Thus we may place in ascending order of chivalric excellence those who do well in the joust, and then in tournament, and above all in war, and supremely so in remote and distant places.(FN138) Even though it is contradicted by the words of the traditional song "The Foggy Dew," where we are told that "'Twas better to die 'neath an Irish sky,/Than at Suvla or Sedd el Bahr,"(FN139) we may come to think that no Irishmen are more worthy of honor than those who came ashore on V Beach at Cape Helles on April 25, 1915, with the Dublin and Munster Fusiliers,(FN140) or who fought and died in the Irish (Tenth) Division on the crest of Kiretch Teppe Sirt on August 15 and 16, 1915.(FN141) These men died for their country two thousand miles from home, often unattended by their companions, and deprived of the sight of family and loved ones.
According to Jones, this notion of worthiness was not the leading sense of worthy in the fourteenth century. "A 'worthy man'... did not primarily mean a man 'deserving of honour' or 'of great merit' as it does now."(FN142) Such a statement does not obviously coincide with the lexical evidence, and there is a good deal of special pleading to a predetermined conclusion. The meaning "[d]istinguished by good qualities; entitled to honor or respect on this account; estimable" (OED, s.v. worthy adj. I.2.a) is recorded from the beginning of the fourteenth century, and examples of its use are plentiful. The MED refers the example of Chaucer's Knight to the sense "possessed of noble virtues, estimable; illustrious" (s.v. worthi adj. 3.(b)). The oldest meaning of worthy, recorded by OED (11.7, 8, and 9) and MED (2.(b)) from the beginning of the thirteenth century, is the one that focuses on the relation between "worthiness" and "desert" in senses good and bad. Dante analyzes Latin dignitas in precisely this fashion in the De vulgari eloquentia: "And dignity, then, is the effect or the end of desert: we say that someone has achieved dignity for a good when he has deserved well, and for an evil when he has deserved evil. Someone who has fought well as a knight has the dignity appropriate to victory."(FN143) Chaucer himself is bent on establishing the link between honor and worthiness, for the reverence of honor shown to the Knight is what is due to him by the merit of virtue: "And evere honoured for his worthynesse" (I 50). Indeed, the true merit of his prowess in battle is to be seen in the victories he has helped to win (I 51, 59, 63). The persistence of the link between the Knight's prowess and conquest -- as also in the case of Theseus (I 862, 864, 866, 872, 877, 916, etc., and epigraph from Statius's Thebaid) -- is not a desire to be identified with the winners as distinct from the losers of battles, for many knights fight valiantly in a losing cause. Rather it is to stress the fundamental nature of the link between worthiness and conquest. A knight such as Chaucer's Knight merits victory, not least by his prowess as a knight, but above all by his great virtues as a human being. We may think, for example, that the steadfast endeavor of Wellington on the field of Waterloo made him deserving of victory.
The emphasis on the Knight's worthiness as determining the persuasive impact of the portrait is a classic piece of rhetorical patterning. It is the very purpose of epideictic rhetoric to supply the proper feeling that accompanies (or ought of accompany) the representation of virtue. The rhetorical figure is traductio. The insistence on the Knight's worthiness is by no means inherently suspect, for this is precisely what we expect from the rhetoric of praise and censure. Such emphatic evaluative language is in itself characteristic of the romance way of writing. The excellence of knights and ladies of romance is nothing if not superlative. The Gawain-poet describes the company gathered for Christmas at Camelot as made up of "[P]e most kyd knyztez vnder Krystes seluen" and "Pe louelokkest ladies Pat euer lif haden," and presided over by "Pe comlokest kyng" (lines 51-53). Almost every page of Malory's Morte Darthur yields examples of superlative language of this kind. The most famous example is that of the lament of Ector de Maris over his brother Launcelot (1259/9-21).(FN144) But here is the description of a lesser knight (Sir Pelleas, fifth in Malory's ranking of the Round Table knights):
"A," sayde the knyght, "that is the beste knyght I trow in the worlde and the moste man of prouesse. And hit is the grettyst pyté of hym as of ony knyght lyvynge, for he hath be served so as he was this tyme more than ten tymes. And his name hyght sir Pelleas." (166/8-12)
The use of such an emphatic style is not "typical of Chaucer's satiric portraits."(FN145) Chaucer's ironic effects in the portrait of the Prioress, for example, are not produced by laboring a point, but by the placing of resonant words such as "symple and coy" (I 119) outside of their habitual linguistic field of reference. Such words are reassuring in the case of a courtly heroine such as Blanche of Lancaster (BD, 860-61, 918), but raise an eyebrow in the context of a religious vocation. In the same way we can appreciate the use of the word "worthy" in cases where conspicuous merit is hard to discern, as, for example, in reference to the "worthy lymytour... cleped Huberd" (I 269) and to the Wife of Bath as "a worthy womman al hir lyve" (I 459). But we are on sure ground with the figure of traductio. Geoffrey of Vinsauf, Chaucer's "deere maister soverayn" (NPT, VII 3347),(FN146) in his Poetria nova places it among the figures of diction as being a mode of expression that is "easy and adorned" ("levis pulchrique coloris"[line 1094]). Although it is a simple and straightforward feature of style, nevertheless it possesses a "simplicity that does not shock the ear by its rudeness" ("planities turpis ne terreat aures" [line 1096]). The author of the Rhetorica ad Herennium says of traductio in particular that it makes possible the repetition of a single word "not only without offence to good taste, but even so as to render the style more elegant" ("non modo non offendat animum, sed etiam concinniorem orationem reddat" [IV.xiv.20]).
It is sometimes difficult for a modern reader to sympathize with the moral idealism of the portrait of the Knight, not because of an indifference to honor or magnanimity, but because of a hatred of war in general and of religious wars in particular. Such hostility to the very notion of a crusade is not a modern phenomenon. Gower's Confessor is aware both of the sinfulness of killing heathens and of the inefficacy of the attempt to spread Christianity by the sword (Confessio Amantis, III.2490-2546).(FN147) But even Gower distinguishes between lawful and unlawful motives in a crusader. To fight in a crusade on account of pride or the love of a lady is one thing, but to fight on account of the love of God (as does Chaucer's Knight) is another (Mirour de l'Omme, 23953-64).(FN148) It is an easy matter to stand above the systems of belief or prejudices of an age from which one is entirely remote. But Chaucer has set his portrait of human virtue in the context of chivalry because of the great prestige of the institutions of chivalry at the time at which he was writing (and not least the prestige of Edward III's Order of the Garter at Windsor). What may have been an incidental recommendation of the Knight to Chaucer's English contemporaries may be a source of moral skepticism among modern readers. But the trappings of chivalry are not what is essential in Chaucer's portrait. The Knight is a good and great man who acts out of the best motives in the condition of life in which he has been placed.
Aristotle's first criterion for a character is that he or she should be good (Poetics, 15).(FN149) What is involved here is not merely the avoidance of gratuitous wickedness (Aristotle himself supplies the example of Menelaus's cowardly refusal to aid Orestes in Euripides's Orestes), nor even the nobility of the characters of tragedy as against comedy. What is prized here is goodness itself by the artist who wishes to give a convincing account of reality. The forms of things possess a higher reality than things themselves, and the idea of ideas, as Plato establishes, is the idea of the good. Evil is a dependent principle, not merely the negation of the good, but its privation.(FN150) Thus the young Chaucer is insistent on the goodness of Blanche the Duchess in a general as well as a particular sense (BD, 985-98). The Gawain of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is "gode Gawan" both at the beginning of the romance and at its end (lines 109, 2491) and in many vital places in between. In the General Prologue Chaucer shows us that goodness is realized among all conditions of men and at all levels of society. We look to the love of moral virtue of the scholar in his study (I 307-8), to the good example of the parson preaching in his pulpit (I 524-28), and to the industry of the laborer at the plow (I 531-32). But in the end justice must be fought for and won on the field of battle by those who are willing to lay down their lives in its defense. In our own time, let us say, the suffering of those in the German concentration camps in Poland had to be relieved by the sacrifice of many lives on the Normandy beaches. We must continue to hope that those who fight for justice on our behalf possess the humanity of Chaucer's Knight.
Trinity College Dublin Dublin, Ireland (email@example.com)
1. This is the (perhaps universalized) form of the Garter motto as it appears at the end of the text of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, ed. J. R. R. Tolkien and E. V. Gordon, 2nd edn., rev. Norman Davis (Oxford, 1967), 69. (Quotations from the poem are from this edition, abbreviated SGGK and cited by line number.) The original form of the motto is Honi soit qui mal ypense, that is, "shamed be he who thinks Ill of it"; see Hugh E. L. Collins, The Order of the Garter 1348-1461: Chivalry and Politics in Late Medieval England (Oxford, 2000), 12. An English form of the motto appears in the body of the text of Wynnere and Wastoure (ca. 1350-70), ed. Stephanie Trigg, EETS O.S. 297 (Oxford, 1990), 68: "Hethyng haue the hathell Pat any harme thynkes." This is an accurate but also generalized form of the motto; see MED, s.v. hething n. 3.(b) "degradation, disgrace, dishonor." The twenty-six knights of the Order of the Garter are the most famous knights of their age, and hence attract both admiration and envy in equal proportions. Those who think ill of knights justly honored for their outstanding feats of arms in battle are themselves worthy only of contempt. On the relation of the Garter motto to Edward III's infatuation for (and possible rape of) the Countess of Salisbury, see Francis Ingledew, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and the Order of the Garter (Notre Dame, Ind., 2006), 112-32.
2. Geoffroi de Charny, The Book of Chivalry of Geoffroi de Charny: Text, Context, and Translation, ed. and trans. Richard W Kaeuper and Elspeth Kennedy (Philadelphia, 1996), 162, 165 (35/187-91). Le Livre de chevalerie (ca. 1350-52) was written for the French king, Jean II, and his Company of the Star, founded in 1352.
3. See Boutelrs Heraldry, rev. J. P. Brooke-Little (London, 1973), 35.
4. Reference is to Shakespeare's King Edward III, in The New Cambridge Shakespeare, ed. Giorgio Melchiori (Cambridge, U.K., 1998). Edward III (b. 1312) is defending the military reputation of Sir James Audley, of Stratton Audley, Oxfordshire (d. 1369), represented in the play as an aged man but in historical fact a near contemporary of Edward's eldest son, the Black Prince (b. 1330); see Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison, 60 vols. (Oxford, 2004), 2:934-35 (hereafter cited as ODNB). Audley was a founder-knight of the Order of the Garter (Collins, The Order of the Garter, 289) and is described by Froissart as "sages et vaillans homs durement" (a wise and valiant man assuredly); see Siméon Luce, Gaston Raynaud, Léon Mirot, and Albert Mirot, Chroniques de J. Froissart, 15 vols. (Paris, 1869-1975), 5:33.22-23 (references are to volume, page, and line number of this edition), and in the English translation by Lord Berners (1523-25) as "a right sage and a valyant knyght" (Book I, chap. 162); see Sir John Bourchier, Lord Berners, The Chronicle of Froissart, intro. W P. Ker, 6 vols. (London, 1901-3), 1:371. Audley's conspicuous gallantry in the field at Poitiers (Sept. 19, 1356) is the centerpiece of Froissart's description of the battle (Book I, chaps. 162, 165, 167). Thus we read how he took up his position in the vanguard with four trusty squires in fulfillment of his knightly vow to strike the first blow in the battle. He took no prisoners (being in expectation of death rather than the accumulation of ransoms), but fought on, wounded in the face and body, until he could fight no more. At the end of the battle, he is carried by eight servants in a litter to the Black Prince, who rewards him for his supreme valor with an annuity of 500 marks. With a like magnanimity, Sir James Audley bestows this gift on his four faithful squires. It is a perfect illustration of the ideal of chivalry in its combination of wisdom, courage, loyalty, and generosity.
5. On the nature of service and society in royal and noble households in the second half of the fourteenth century, see the two excellent studies by Chris Given-Wilson, The Royal Household and the King's Affinity: Service, Politics and Finance in England 1360-1413 (New Haven, 1986), and The English Nobility in the Late Middle Ages: The Fourteenth-Century Political Community (London, 1987).
6. See Chaucer Life-Records, ed. Martin M. Crow and Claire C. Olson (Oxford, 1966), 18n6 (hereafter cited as Chaucer Life-Records).
7. Henry of Grosmont (1310-61), Earl of Derby (one of six new earls created by Edward III in the parliament of March 1337), Earl of Lancaster on the death of his father (1345), and a founder-knight of the Order of the Garter (Collins, The Order of the Garter, 288). He was raised to Duke of Lancaster in the parliament of 1351 (a special mark of royal favor as only the second duke after the Black Prince as Duke of Cornwall in 1337). He served on the Scottish campaign of 1334-35 and again in Scotland in 1336. He was the king's lieutenant in Aquitaine in 1345-47, and again in 1349-50. He saved the lives of the Black Prince and John of Gaunt in the naval victory over the Castilian fleet off Winchelsea on Aug. 29, 1350. He was the principal English representative in the negotiations leading to the Treaty of Britigny. He is the author of the devotional treatise Le Livre de Seyntz Medicines, begun and completed in 1354; see E. J. Arnould, ed., Le Livre de Seyntz Medicines: The Unpublished Devotional Treatise of Henry of Lancaster (Oxford, 1940), vii, 244. Holding land in Staffordshire, Derbyshire, and Cheshire, he would have made a suitable model for the Gawain of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; see W. G. Cooke and D'A. J. D. Boulton, "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: A Poem for Henry of Grosmont?" Medium AEvum 68 (1999): 42-54. For a full account of his career, see Kenneth Fowler, The King's Lieutenant: Henry of Grosmont, First Duke of Lancaster 1310-361 (London, 1969); and ODNB, 26:572-76. His younger daughter Blanche was the first wife of John of Gaunt, whom she married on May 20, 1359, and to whom she brought the Lancastrian inheritance on the death of her father in 1361 and her elder sister Maud, Countess of Leicester, in 1362. Her own death on Sept. 12, 1368, is the subject of Chaucer's first original poem with its allusions to the "long castel with walies white,/Be Seynt Johan, on a ryche hil" (BD, 1318-19). All references to Chaucer are to The Riverside Chaucer, ed. Larry D. Benson, 3rd edn. (Boston, 1987). John of Gaunt was Earl of Richmond until 1372, when the earldom was ceded to jean IV de Montfort, Duke of Brittany (1339-99), elected Knight of the Garter in April 1375 (Collins, The Order of the Garter, 290). See Anthony Goodman, John of Gaunt: The Exercise of Princely Power in Fourteenth-Century Europe (New York, 1992), 185.
8. In the household of the Earl and Countess of Ulster, Chaucer would have seen the Duke of Lancaster at the height of his fame, and also his own immediate contemporaries, the Earl of Richmond and Lady Blanche of Lancaster. He would have traveled the length and breadth of England from one royal residence to another, and witnessed the preparations for such festivals as those of Saint George at Windsor and of Pentecost at Woodstock, as well as the tournaments at Smithfield. See Chaucer Life-Records, 16, 18.
9. Sir John Chandos (d. 1370) was the son of Sir Edward Chandos and Isabel, daughter of Sir Robert Twyford, and descended from the Derbyshire branch of the Chandos family. He distinguished himself at the siege of Cambrai in 1339 in single combat with a French squire, and was knighted in the same year. He was at Sluys in 1340 and in the vanguard at Crécy on Aug. 26, 1346, under the command of the Black Prince. He was a founder-knight of the Order of the Garter, but on the king's side (having taken part in tournaments with the king from 1344 onwards). He was at Winchelsea in 1350, and in 1355 with the Black Prince on his first expedition to Aquitaine. He was at the Black Prince's side at Poitiers in 1356 and in his company in the Rheims campaign of 1359-60. In 1361, he was appointed the king's lieutenant for the transfer of lands in Aquitaine. In 1363-64, he was governor of La Rochelle and commander in Saintonge, and constable of Aquitaine. He commanded the vanguard in support of the pro-English Jean IV de Montfort, Duke of Brittany (and Earl of Richmond after 1372) in the victory against the French under Charles, Duke of Blois (who was killed in the battle) at Auray in 1364, and took as prisoner no less a man than Bertrand du Guesclin. He was constable of the Black Prince's army in support of Pedro I of Castile and led the vanguard across the Pyranees in Feb. 1367, using the pass at Roncesvalles on the pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostella. He fought as a banneret for the first time in the victory at Nájera on April 3, 1367, against Henry of Trast;imara and his French allies under du Guesclin and Arnoud d'Audrehem, fighting once again in the vanguard with the Black Prince. He returned to Aquitaine on the resumption of the war with France in 1368-69, becoming seneschal of Poitou on the death of Sir James Audley on Aug. 23, 1369. He met a painful and unlucky death, mortally wounded in the eye in a skirmish at the bridge of Lussac-les-Châteaux on New Year's Eve 1369, and dying without regaining consciousness the following day. See ODNB, 11:9-11.
10. Sir Reginald Cobham (ca. 1295-1361), 1st Lord Cobham of Sterborough (Kent), was a knight of the king's household by 1334. He was at the siege of Tournai (July 26-Sept. 25, 1340), He was one of the three bodyguards of the 16-year-old Black Prince at Crécy at the siege of Calais (1346-47) and at the sea battle off Winchelsea (1350). At Poitiers he was marshal of the Black Prince's army and conducted the captured French king to the English lines. He was raised to the rank of banneret in June 1339 and summoned to Parliament in Nov. 1347 and thereafter for the rest of his life. He was appointed admiral of the Western Fleet in 1344 and 1348, elected Knight of the Garter in Oct. 1352, and appointed captain of Calais in 1353. See ODNB, 12:291; Collins, The Order of the Garter, 62-63, 66, 91-92, 25 on 59, 289; and J. S. Bothwell, Edward III and the English Peerage: Royal Patronage, Social Mobility and Political Control in Fourteenth-Century England (Woodbridge, 2004), 21. The reputation of Cobham is secure from the pages of Froissart's account of Crécy. Before the battle the king orders "his Marshals, the Earl of Warwick and Sir Godfrey of Harcourt, and with them that stout and gallant knight Sir Reginald Cobham" (3:166.11) to ride out to consider the best place for the disposition of the forces; during the battle he is singled out along with Sir John Chandos among "the flower of the English knighthood" (3:182.15) as fighting "in hand-to-hand combat with swords" (3:182.9); and after the battle he is instructed by the king to ride out with Sir Richard Stafford, "two gallant knights" (3:190.9), to examine the dead, accompanied by three heralds to identify the dead and two clerks to write down their names. Translations of Froissart are drawn from Jean Froissart, Chronicles, trans. Geoffrey Brereton, 2nd edn. (Harmondsworth, 1978), 83, 91, 95, 99. Thus are Arcite and Palamon identified among the slain before Thebes, for "by hir cote-armures and by hir gere/The heraudes knewe hem best in special" (KnT, I 1016-17).
11. Sir Walter Mauny (ca. 1310-72), fourth son of Jean le Borgne, lord of Masny, in Hainault, who came to England in December 1327 as a page in the household of Philippa of Hainault. He was knighted in 1331 and retained as a member of Edward III's household. He fought in Scotland at Dupplin Moor (1332), was at the siege of Berwick in 1333, and was present in Edward III's Scottish campaigns of 1334-35, 1335, and 1336 (in the last of which he was Edward's standard-bearer). He was admiral of the North at the outbreak of the war with France in Aug. 1337. He was at the naval battle of Sluys on June 24, 1340, and the subsequent siege of Tournai. He was in command of an unsuccessful force in Brittany in 1342 in support of Jean IV de Montfort against Charles de Blois. He was at the siege of Calais in 1347 with a large retinue (326 men, including 19 knights and 91 squires). He was summoned to parliament from 1348 until his death. In 1353 or 1354, he married as second husband Edward III's cousin Margaret Marshal, daughter of Thomas of Brotherton, 1st Earl of Norfolk (1300-38) and elder of the two sons of Edward I by his second marriage to Margaret of France. He was elected Knight of the Garter in Sept. 1359 (Collins, The Order of the Garter, 289) on the eve of the 1359-60 campaign, accompanying Edward III at the siege of Rheims in Dec. and Jan. and in the chevauchie east and south of Paris that followed, and led the attack on the suburbs of Paris in person on April 12, 1360. He was one of the delegates negotiating the treaty of Britigny and was present at Calais in October 1360 when the treaty was confirmed. In 1361, he made the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. He was founder of the London Charterhouse on March 28, 1371, to which he left a large bequest on his death on Jan. 14/15, 1372. See ODNB, 37:445-48.
12. See Chaucer Life-Records, 27-28, 370-74; and Boutell's Heraldry, 106-7 (Plate II, no.1).
13. See the wardrobe account of William de Farley for the period Jan. 12-July 7, 1360 (Chaucer Life-Records, 24-25).
14. Richard Stur(r)y (ca. 1327-95) was successively yeoman (1349), esquire (1359), and chamber knight (1365) in the household retinues of Edward III, the Black Prince, and Richard II, and remained a chamber knight and trusted diplomat until his death. His date of birth "in the later 1320s" (K. B. McFarlane, Lancastrian Kings and Lollard Knights [Oxford, 1972], 161) makes him an exact contemporary of the GP Knight. He was serving at sea in 1347 and was one of 30 squires knighted before the walls of Paris on April 12, 1360 (Froissart, 5:231.15-16). His courage in a sea battle is noticed by Froissart, and he is still serving in the Breton expedition of 1378. Although a distinguished knight, his talents found their greatest use in the diplomatic sphere. He was in the Low Countries on behalf of Edward III in 1368, and again in 1370-71, was ambassador to Jean IV de Montfort, Duke of Brittany in 1371 (when involved in a naval battle off the Breton coast; see Froissart, 8:25) (being granted a life annuity of £60 by the Duke sometime between 1372 and 1381), and, as Froissart records, was involved in marriage negotiations at the French court in 1377 with Sir Guichard d'Angle and Chaucer (8:226/10-12). He was in France in 1381, 1382, and frequently in 1389-94 in the course of negotiations on Richard II's behalf for a final peace with France. He was a personal friend of Froissart and was present at Eltham in 1395 on the occasion of Froissart's presentation of the book containing "all his writings on love and morality" to Richard II (Chronicles, trans. Brereton, 403, 408). Sir Richard Stury was a member of the lesser nobility or gentry, perhaps connected with the parish of Stury in Kent where he acquired property. He married in 1374 Alice, daughter of Sir John Blount and widow of Sir Richard Stafford (an advantageous match). He died sine prole in 1395. See Given-Wilson, Royal Household, 148-49; and McFarlane, Lancastrian Kings, 148, 161, 163, 163n2, 174-75, 178, 180, 186-88.
15. Chaucer Life-Records, 24.
16. Chaucer Life-Records, 123-24. Chaucer is styled valettus in the records from 1367-72, but armiger thereafter, although the term esquier corresponds in the records to both valettus and armiger (123, 129nm, 514). At the time of the death of Queen Philippa (Aug. 15, 1369), he is listed among the "esquiers de meindre degree" (squires of less degree) (99). On the variable usage of the term valettus (F vadlet, vallet) and its comparability to esquire, see Peter Coss, The Origins of the English Gentry (Cambridge, U.K., 2003), 225-28; and Nigel Saul, Knights and Esquires: The Gloucestershire Gentry in the Fourteenth Century (Oxford, 1981), 6-7. The emergence of squire as a social rank belongs to the 1360s and 70s on the evidence of the sumptuary legislation of 1363, and by 1400 the term valettus is reduced in status to that of ME ye(o)man.
17. See Chaucer Life-Records, 126-27 (Table 1), 132, 303-4, 314-15, 335.
18. Chaucer Life-Records, 112-13, 304-7.
19. Chaucer Life-Records, 307-13, 334-35, 336-39.
20. Chaucer Life-Records, 514-18, 525-29.
21. Chaucer Life-Records, 530, 532.
22. Chaucer Life-Records, 94-105, 106-11, 112-20.
23. Chaucer Life-Records, 103-5.
24. Chaucer Life-Records, 67-69.
25. Chaucer Life-Records, 71-72, 75-76, 77-78, 83-84.
26. Chaucer Life-Records, 85n5.
27. Constance was the second daughter of Pedro I of Castile, that is, Pedro the Cruel, murdered by his rival, Henry of Trastámara, in 1369. Chaucer surely betrays his own English and Lancastrian sympathies in addressing him as "noble.... worthy Petro," and in telling in brief compass of the fall and betrayal of "this worthy kyng" (MkT, VII 2375, 2390). For a modern defense of the character of Pedro as a victim of Trastámaran propaganda, see P. E. Russell, The English Intervention in Spain and Portugal in the Time of Edward III and Richard II (Oxford, 1955), 16-22, and for a further reconsideration of his character, see Kenneth Fowler, Medieval Mercenaries (Oxford, 2001), 160-62.
28. Chaucer Life-Records, 85-91, 272.
29. Chaucer Life-Records, 91-93.
30. Chaucer Life-Records, 271-74.
31. Thomas Chaucer (ca. 1367-1434) had large holdings of land in Oxfordshire, Hampshire, and Buckinghamshire, and was sheriff of Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire and constable of Wallingford. He was chief butler to four successive kings, Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V, and Henry VI. He served (like his father) as envoy to France, was a member of the King's Council, MP and speaker in the parliaments of 1407, 1410, and 1411. He married about 1395 Maud Burghersh (ca. 1379-1437), daughter and co-heir of Sir John Burghersh of Ewelme, who claimed kinship to the great families of Mohun, Despenser, and Plantagenet. See Chaucer Life-Records, 541-44; ODNB, 11:259-60; and Given-Wilson, Royal Household, 112, 137, 189, 253, 314n212.
32. See Chaucer Life-Records, 19-20.
33. See Chaucer Life-Records, 20-21.
34. Chaucer Life-Records, 64-65.
35. See Russell, The English Intervention, 10.
36. See Russell, The English Intervention, 42-45, 59-69, 75-81; and Fowler, Medieval Mercenaries, 171-77, 184, 192-97, 200-201, 205.
37. Qtd. by Fowler, Medieval Mercenaries, 192n4.
38. See Russell, The English Intervention, 35-37, 40-42, 45-51; and Fowler, Medieval Mercenaries, 148-53, 163-71, 177-81, 185-86.
39. See Russell, The English Intervention, 53-59; and Fowler, Medieval Mercenaries, 181-84, 194.
40. See Russell, The English Intervention, 5.
41. Russell, The English Intervention, 83-85; and Fowler, Medieval Mercenaries, 198-200, 205-6.
42. Russell, The English Intervention, 37-39; and Fowler, Medieval Mercenaries, 153-54.
43. Chaucer Life-Records, 29-30. This warrant rules out the possibility of Chaucer's presence at the wedding of Lionel of Antwerp to Violante Visconte, daughter of Galeazzo and niece of Bernabò, at the cathedral of Santa Maria Maggiore in Milan on June 5, 1368, as claimed by Frances Stonor Saunders, Hawkwood: Diabolical Englishman (London, 2004), 119, 126.
44. Chaucer Life-Records, l06-7. The context is Gaunt's expedition to Calais, Artois, Picardy, and Normandy in July to Nov. 1369; see Sydney Armitage-Smith, John of Gaunt (London, 1904), 70-74; and Goodman, John of Gaunt, 229-32.
45. Chaucer Life-Records, 31.
46. Chaucer Life-Records, 31-32.
47. Chaucer Life Records, 32-40. The period from Oct. 1372 to June 1373 is one of intense negotiations on the part of Pope Gregory XI (1370-78) to prevent the outbreak of hostilities between Genoa and Cyprus in the wake of the rioting at the coronation of Peter II of Cyprus (1369-82) as King of Jerusalem at Famagusta on Oct. 10, 1372, which resulted in the killing of Genoese merchants and the destruction of their property. Chaucer is thus in Genoa at the time of the preparation of the great fleet for the invasion of Cyprus. In March 1373, Damian Cattaneo was despatched with seven galleys and by the beginning of May was making raids on the gardens around Famagusta, and at the beginning of Oct., thirty-six galleys under the command of Peter of Campofregoso together with transport vessels and an army of 14,000 arrived off Famagusta. See Peter W. Edbury, The Kingdom of Cyprus and the Crusades, 1191-1374 (Cambridge, U.K., 1991), 199-204.
48. Chaucer Life-Records, 40-42.
49. Chaucer Life-Records, 42-44. Sir John Burley (1332/33-86) of Birley in Herefordshire was a distinguished soldier who fought in Spain, France, and Gascony, serving as a member of the Black Prince's bodyguard; he campaigned with the Teutonic knights in 1363, was captain of Calais in 137 3, was elected as Knight of the Garter in June 1377 (the first election of Richard II's reign), and was constable of Nottingham Castle before 1381. He was a chamber knight by 1360, retained for life by Edward III, and served in the household of Richard II until his death. In 1379, he was on the embassy to Milan with Sir Michael de la Pole to negotiate a marriage alliance between Richard II and Caterina, the daughter of Bernab6 Visconti, as a sequel to the negotiations undertaken by Chaucer and Sir Edward de Berkeley in the previous year, but the negotiations came to nothing and the embassy was diverted from Rome to Prague to initiate the negotiations that were ultimately to lead to the marriage of Richard II and Anne of Bohemia. See Collins, The Order of the Garter, 45, 49, 52, 96-97, 96n30, 97n35, 291, 297; Given-Wilson, Royal Household, 162, 169-70, 217, 219; and Nigel Saul, Richard II (New Haven, 1997), 84-87, 113m8.
50. Chaucer Life-Records, 44-45, 47-49, 51. Sir Thomas Percy (ca. 1343-1403), younger brother of Sir Henry Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland, son of Mary of Lancaster (d. 1362), youngest of the six sisters of Henry of Grosmont, and hence kinsman of Gaunt and Richard II. He fought in France and Gascony with Gaunt in the campaigns of 1369 and 1373 and at the siege of Limoges in 1370; he was seneschal of Poitou (succeeding Chandos) and La Rochelle in 1369, and of Saintonge in 1371, and elected Knight of the Garter in April 1376. He was admiral of the north in 1379 and 1385 (and also in 1399-1401), and at Richard II's side at Mile End on June 14, 1381, for the first meeting with the rebel peasants. He was in Spain with Gaunt in 1386-87, sealing an indenture with him on Feb. 15, 1386, with 80 men-at-arms and 160 archers, and being himself admiral of the fleet that sailed from Plymouth on July 7, 1386. He was one of Gaunt's negotiators with Juan I of Castile (1379-90), son and successor of Henry of Trast;imara in June and July 1387, returning to England in late 1387 or early 1388, and rejoining Gaunt in Gascony in June 1388. He was granted a life annuity of £100 by Gaunt in 1387, and in 1398 was appointed as Gaunt's first executor along with Sir William le Scrope (ca. 1350-99), Earl of Wiltshire. He was chamberlain in the royal household in 1390-93, and steward in 1393-99 (accompanying Richard II to Ireland in 1395 and 1399) and also under Henry IV in 1401-02. He was one of the duketti or "dukelings," elevated in the parliament of 1397 as Earl of Worcester. He kept his earldom after the deposition of Richard II, but lost his life in the rebellion of 1403, being tried and beheaded on July 23, 1403, two days after the battle of Shrewsbury. See ODNB, 43:737-39; Collins, The Order of the Garter, 46n51, 51n73, 63n125, 290, 297; Given-Wilson, The Royal Household, 72-73, 195-96; Given-Wilson, The English Nobility, 51-53; and Goodman, John of Gaunt, 115, 120, 127-29, 176, 189-90, 193, 197, 204, 282-83, 290, 314.
51. Chaucer Life-Records, 45, 52.
52. Chaucer Life-Records, 45-49, 52, 105.
53. Chaucer Life-Records, 49, 52-53.
54. Sir Guichard d'Angle (ca. 1308/15-80), a native of Poitou, was a knight by 1346, and appointed by Philip VI of France seneschal of Saintonge from 1350 to 1361. At Poitiers in 1356, he served under Jean, Count of Poitiers, the king's eldest son, escorting him from the field but returning himself to the battle. He was found wounded after the battle among the heaps of the slain (like Arcite and Palamon), captured, and ransomed. After the treaty of Britigpy he was one of the French commissioners charged with the transfer of La Rochelle to English rule in Dec. 1360, and in Sept. and Oct. of 1361 of the provinces of Poitou, Saintonge, and Angoumois, where all his own lands were situated. Henceforth he was a subject of the king of England. He became marshal of Aquitaine in 1363 and fought with distinction in the vanguard at Nijera in 1367. In September 1369, he took part in the chevauchie of John Hastings, 2nd Earl of Pembroke (Edward III's son-in-law), into the Loire valley. He was present with the Black Prince and Gaunt at the siege and sack of Limoges in 1370, and was elected Knight of the Garter in January 1372. He fought gallantly at the side of Pembroke in the naval defeat off La Rochelle on June 23, 1372, where he was captured and taken as a prisoner to Castile. He remained in prison until late in 1374 when he was transferred into the custody of Olivier de Mauny and then into that of Edward III. He returned to England at the beginning of 1375 a ruined man, but was rewarded by his old patron Gaunt. He was appointed as one of the tutors to Richard of Bordeaux, and on Richard's coronation on July 16, 1377, made a life peer (the first life peer) as Earl of Huntingdon. He died sometime during March 25 to April 4, 1380, probably at Maidenhead, and was buried at the church of the Austin Friars in Bread Street, London, having directed in his will that his heart be buried in the church at Angle. He has earned Froissart's description of him (in the role of tutor to Richard) as "ce gentil et vaillant chevalier monsigneur Guichart d'Angle" (this noble and valiant knight Sir Guichard d'Angle; 8:224.10-11). From such a man Chaucer would have learned all he needed to know about the exercise of knighthood. See ODNB, 2:160-62; Collins, The Order of the Garter, 56-57, 58, 61mi6, 212, 290, 300; and Fowler, Medieval Mercenaries, 199, 214, 281n74.
55. See Chaucer Life-Records, 51n1.
56. Little seems to be known about Sir Edward Berkeley. Presumably he is the son of Sir Maurice de Berkeley of Uley (ca. 1314-47), fifth son of Sir Maurice de Berkeley, 2nd Lord Berkeley (1271-1326). Sir Maurice de Berkeley of Uley was retained by Edward III from 1330 to 1347, fought at Crécy in 1346, and died before the walls of Calais in 1347. His son Edward was on expedition in 1359 (the Rheims campaign of Edward III), 1362, and 1363. See Vicary Gibbs et al., The Complete Peerage, 2nd edn., 13 vols. in 14 (London, 1910-59), repr. in 6 vols. (Stroud, 2000), 2:130; and Saul, Gloucestershire Gentry, 33, 51, 53, 55n78, 58 (Table II), 58n1, 76-77, 276-77.
57. Sir John Hawkwood (ca. 1320/23-94) was the second son (and the second John) of Gilbert de Hawkwood (d. 1340), a minor landowner at Sible Hedingham in Essex and tenant of the de Vere Earls of Oxford whose seat was at Castle Hedingham a mile or so away. He went to France in the retinue of John de Vere, 7th Earl of Oxford (b. 1313), fought at Crécy in 1346 (perhaps in the vanguard under William de Bohun, 1st Earl of Northampton, Knight of the Garter Sept. 1348, d. 1360) and was knighted at Poitiers in 1356, where he fought in the vanguard of Oxford, Warwick, and the Gascon nobleman, Jean de Grailly, Captal de Buch. He remained in France and Burgundy after the treaty of Brétigny as one of the leaders of the Great Company (Magna Societas), known in Italy as the White Company (Societas Alba Anglicorum). He was present at the capture of Pont-Saint-Esprit, a fortress 25 miles north of Avignon, on the night of Dec. 28/29, 1360, and came to Italy in the brigade captained by the German mercenary Albrecht Sterz in the service of the Marquis of Montferrat against the Count of Savoy and Galeazzo Visconti in Piedmont and Lombardy (1361-63). Hawkwood replaced Sterz as its leader in Dec. 1363 and as captain-general of war for Pisa against Florence. Contracts of employment (condotte) were for relatively short periods of three to six months so that the pattern of Hawkwood's shifts of allegiance and loyalties follows a bewildering course. He is in the service of Pisa in 1363, of Galeazzo Visconti in Milan at the time of Lionel of Antwerp's marriage to Violante Visconti in 1368, of Pope Gregory XI and Robert of Geneva (later Clement VII) after 1372 (and hence involved in the massacre at Cesena at the beginning of Feb. 1376), of Bernabò Visconti in April 1377 in command of the antipapal league (when he was offered the hand of Bernabò's illegitimate daughter, Donnina, in marriage as his second wife), and of Florence and its allies after 1379 and (on and off) for the last fourteen years of his life as captain-general of the army of the republic of Florence. He was in the field in the service of Pope Urban VI (1378-89) and Charles of Durazzo (d.1386) against the Duke of Anjou in Naples in 1382-83, and won a victory for Padua against Verona at the battle of Castagnaro on May 11, 1387. His life is thus the life of a true mercenary, and much of it is devoted to negotiating and renegotiating contracts of service. His profits were simply enormous, and in his two best years (1377 and 1381) amounted to 82,600 florins and 67,533 florins, respectively (equivalent to the revenue of a city such as Lucca with a population of 30,000). Even among mercenaries, Hawkwood was indifferent to the religious crusade. Thus after the Milanese-Florentine war in 1392 (in which Hawkwood distinguished himself in his old age), Hawkwood's opponent Jacopo dal Verme went on crusade to Jerusalem with Henry Bolingbroke, Earl of Derby (the future Henry IV), whereas Hawkwood himself retired to Florence to put his affairs in order. But there can be no doubt that Hawkwood was a great man in the midst of the political intrigues and wars between the Italian city states and the papacy in the late fourteenth century. He died in Florence on March 18, 1394, and was buried with the greatest solemnity and splendor on March 20, and to this day is commemorated in the church of Santa Maria del Fiore (the duomo) in the fresco of Uccello of 1436. See Kenneth Fowler, "Sir John Hawkwood and the English condottieri in Trecento Italy," Renaissance Studies 12 (1998): 131-48; and William Caferro, John Hawkwood: An English Mercenary in Fourteenth-Century Italy (Baltimore, 2006).
58. Chaucer Life-Records, 53-61: The details of this mission remain obscure but would seem to include a possible marriage alliance between England and Milan. If we allow five weeks for travel in each direction, then Chaucer was in Lombardy for little more than a month, say, July 1 to Aug. 15, 1378. Hawkwood's company was besieging Verona in the summer of 1378, and his headquarters at this time were at Monzambano, some 16 miles north of Mantua and some 75 miles (or three days' travel) east of Milan. From a letter written by Hawkwood at Monzambano on Aug. 8, 1378, it can be deduced that he was in Milan for some period between July 15 and Aug. 2, 1378, and that negotiations between Berkeley and Chaucer on the one hand and Bernab6 Visconti and Hawkwood on the other took place at that time. See Robert A. Pratt, "Geoffrey Chaucer, Esq., and Sir John Hawkwood," ELH 16 (1949): 188-93. Hawkwood retained his primary allegiance to England so that his Italian contracts explicitly included a clause barring service against opponents allied to the king of England (Caferro, John Hawkwood, 25, 349-50). Thus Hawkwood was appointed by Richard II as ambassador to Urban VI in 1381 and 1382, to Charles of Durazzo in 1382 and 1385, and to Giangaleazzo Visconti in 1385 (Caferro, 223, 234, 257). But there is no evidence that Chaucer met Hawkwood on any occasion other than his mission of 1378, and no grounds for the belief that Hawkwood is "the inspiration for The Knight's Tale" (Saunders, Hawkwood, 40). Indeed, Italy is one of the few places absent from the itinerary of the GP Knight. Chaucer has not left to posterity his opinion of Hawkwood, but he must have encountered in his travels more than one mercenary of such a type (men such as the Cheshire knights Sir Hugh Calveley and Sir Robert Knolles/Knowles, the Breton Bertrand du Guescin, and the Hainaulter, Eustache dAubrhdccourt, in France and Spain); see Fowler, Medieval Mercenaries, 1-23, 323-28 (Appendix B). His opinion of Bernab6 Visconti is unflattering, for he is, by way of contrast with "worthy Petro, glorie of Spayne" and "worthy Petro, kyng of Cipre," the "scourge of Lumbardye" (MkT, VII 2375, 2391, 2400). Bernabò Visconti stands in a long line of "tyraunts of Lumbardye,/That usen wilfulhed and tyrannye" (LGW, G 354-55), and Hawkwood (in 1378 at least) is the instrument of his tyrannical will.
59. William Beauchamp (ca. 1343-1411), 1st Lord Bergavenny, was the fourth son of Thomas Beauchamp, 3rd Earl of Warwick, a founder-companion of the Order of the Garter, and Katherine Mortimer, daughter of Roger, 1st Earl of March, and hence destined for the church. He went to Oxford University in 1358-61, at a time when Wyclif became Master of Balliol (1360), but reentered the lay world on the death of two of his elder brothers in quick succession in 1361. He was a knight by 1365, fought in the vanguard at Nájera in 1367, and later in that year went on crusade to Prussia with his brother Thomas (4th Earl of Warwick in 1369 and one of the appellants in 1386-88). He fought in Gascony in 1370, was on Gaunt's chevauchée in France in 1373, being retained by Gaunt for a fee of 100 marks, and was constable in Edmund of Langley's expedition to Portugal in 1381-82. He was elected as a Knight of the Garter in April 1376. He inherited land in the midlands to the value of 400 marks in his father's will in 1369, became heir in 1372 to John Hastings, and Earl of Pembroke, and (after the death of Hastings's son John, still a minor, in a tournament on Dec. 30/31, 1389) securing in 1390-92 a large share of the Hastings inheritance, becoming Lord Bergavenny and hence from 1392 receiving a personal summons to parliament. He was one of Richard II's earliest chamber knights in 1377, chamberlain in 1378 to 1380 (or 1381), and executor of Joan of Kent in 1385. Chaucer acted as surety or mainpernor for Sir William as custodian of Pembroke Castle and certain of the lands of the Pembroke estate on March 9, 1378, during the minority of John Hastings, and Sir William in his turn stood as a witness on-the release by Cecily Champain to Chaucer on May 1, 1380, of all actions concerning her raptus or rape. Sir William became justiciar of South Wales a month after Henry IV's usurpation in 1399 and had custody of the lands of his nephew, Richard Beauchamp, 5th Earl of Warwick, after his brother's death in 1400. He married, before Feb. 20, 1396, Joan Fitzalan (1375-1435), daughter of the appellant Richard Fitzalan, 6th Earl of Arundel (executed in 1397). See ODNB, 4:607-9; Chaucer Life-Records, 61-62, 279-81, 343-47; Collins, The Order of the Garter, 5m73, 259, 290, 297; Goodman, John of Gaunt, 229, 279-80; Given-Wilson, English Nobility, 102, 141-42, 146-48, 201nn59-62; McFarlane, Lancastrian Kings, 166, 169, 171 183, 189, 201, 209-10, 214-15; and Russell, 7he English Intervention, 302, 321n1, 327, 335n2, 340n3.
60. Chaucer Life-Records, 61-62, 62n6.
61. See Chaucer Life-Records, 30n5.
62. See Chaucer Life-Records, 60-61.
63. Saul, Richard II, 84, 87.
64. See Chaucer Life-Records, 488-89.
65. See MED, s.v. vertuous adj. 6. (a), "Possessing or displaying the qualities befitting a knight; valiant, hardy, courageous, doughty."
66. Sir Richard (le) Scrope (ca. 1327-1403), 1st Lord Scrope of Bolton, third son of Sir Henry Scrope (ca. 1268-1336), fought at Crécy (Aug. 26) and also at Neville's Cross (Oct. 17) in 1346 (whereupon he was knighted) and at the siege of Calais in 1347. He fought in the naval battle off Winchelsea in 1350, campaigned in France in 1355, and was at the relief of Berwick Castle in Jan. 1356. He was in Gaunt's retinue in the campaign of 1359-60, and served under Gaunt in France, Spain, and Scotland in 1367, 1369, 1384, and 1385, being retained by Gaunt after Nijera on Nov. 8, 1367, with an annuity of 640 per annum. He received a personal summons to parliament as Lord Scrope of Bolton on Jan. 8, 13.71. He was treasurer of England from March 27, 1371, to Sept. 25, 1375, steward of the royal household 1377-78 (and as such presiding at the trial of Alice Perrers in the parliament of Oct. 1377), and chancellor from 1378 to 1380 and again from 1381 to 1382. In Nov. 1387, he was spokesman for the Lords Appellant in their dealings with the king. His eldest son William, Earl of Wiltshire, was executed in 1399, but he himself survived into the reign of Henry IV until his death. He is notable for his religious devotion, leaving a bequest of 640 to York Minster and of £20 to his poor tenants of Richmondshire. See ODNB, 49:560-62; Given-Wilson, Royal Household, 74, 142, 158, 173, 302n160; Goodman, John of Gaunt, 288-90, 312; and George Holmes, The Good Parliament (Oxford, 1975), 64-65, 104.
67. Sir Henry (le) Scrope (ca. 1312-92), 1st Lord Scrope of Masham, eldest son of Geoffrey (d. 1340), fought in the Scottish campaign of 1333 at Halidon Hill and was knighted before Berwick, and also in the Scottish campaign of 1335. He fought in the sea battle of Sluys in 1340, and as a banneret at Crécy and Neville's Cross in 1346. He was at the siege of Calais in 1347 and at the sea battle of Winchelsea in 1350. He received a personal summons to parliament in 1350, and as Lord Scrope of Masham after 1371. He was on Edward III's Picard campaign in 1355 and at the siege of Berwick in 1357. He served in the retinue of William de Bohun (ca. 1312-60), Earl of Northampton (from 1337) in the 1330s, 40s, and 50s, and in that of Gaunt in the Rheims campaign of 1359-60 and also at the reopening of the war in 1369. Thus he had a great reputation as a knight in war and tournament (and it is hardly surprising that Chaucer took note of him at Rithel). He was captain of Calais in 1369-70, warden of the marches in Northumberland in 1370, and steward of the royal household for a few months in 1371. But he does not seem to have been on crusade, perhaps because he (like Sir Richard, 1st Lord Scrope of Bolton) was so fully occupied by battles against the French and the Scots in the 1340s and 50s. See ODNB, 49:554-55; and Holmes, The Good Parliament, 154.
68. Chaucer made his deposition in the refectory at Westminster on Oct. 15, 1386, during the period of his attendance at the Wonderful Parliament. The proceedings between Scrope and Grosvenor in the Court of Chivalry began on Aug. 17, 1385, and the final judgment of Richard II himself after appeal was not pronounced until May 27, 1390. The Court confirmed the right of Sir Richard Scrope to bear the arms, Sir Robert Grosvenor finally adopting the arms Azure, a garb or. See Chaucer Life-Records, 372; and Boutel's Heraldry, 107.
69. See MED, s.v. popet n. (a), "A youth, young girl; a babe; also, a small person," and (b), "a doll"; and E. Talbot Donaldson, "Chaucer the Pilgrim," PMLA 69 (1954): 928-36 (repr. in his Speaking of Chaucer [London, 1970], 1-12, at 1-3).
70. According to Terry Jones, Chaucer's Knight: The Portrait of a Medieval Mercenary (London, 1980), the Knight is nothing more than "a shabby mercenary without morals or scruples" (140). The harshness and, indeed, the accuracy of this verdict has been subject to a sustained critical scrutiny from the first appearance of so unsettling an interpretation of Chaucer's Knight. G. A. Lester, "Chaucer's Knight and the Earl of Warwick," Notes and Queries, n.s. 28 (1981): 200-202, asserts the credibility of a non-ironic portrait of the Knight in the light of the career of Richard Beauchamp (1381-1439), 5th Earl of Warwick (1403-39), who was elected Knight of the Garter on July 22, 1403, after the battle of Shrewsbury, and further vindicates the Knight's chivalry in his article "Chaucer's Knight and the Medieval Tournament," Neophilologus 66 (1982): 460-68, in making dear the important distinctions of joust, tournament or melee, and judicial duel. Maurice Keen, "Chaucer's Knight, the English Aristocracy, and the Crusades," in V. J. Scattergood and J. W Sherborne, eds., English Court Culture in the Later Middle Ages (New York, 1983), 45-61, establishes beyond doubt the persistence of crusading idealism among English knights of the late fourteenth century up to and beyond the date of composition of Chaucer's portrait. In "Chaucer's Knight, the Alliterative Morte Arthure, and Medieval Laws of War: A Reconsideration," Nottingham Medieval Studies 27 (1983): 56-78, Elizabeth Porter draws attention to medieval laws of war as permitting the sacking of besieged cities refusing terms of honorable surrender. Derek Brewer, "Chaucer's Knight as Hero, and Machaut's Prise d'Alexandrie," in Leo Carruthers, ed., Heroes and Heroines in Medieval English Literature (Cambridge, U.K., 1994), 81-96, shows that the sacking of Alexandria was indeed regarded in Chaucer's time as an integral part of a glorious victory. The account of Chaucer's Knight by R. R. Raymo as "a model of Christian chivalry" in the manner of "Ramon Llul's Le Libre De l'Orde De Cavalleria (1275-6)" has an air of putting to rest an old controversy that has now outlived its usefulness ("The General Prologue," in Robert M. Correale and Mary Hamel, eds., Sources and Analogues of The Canterbury Tales, 2 vols. [Cambridge, U.K., 2002, 2005], 2:1-85, at 7.
71. Fowler, "Sir John Hawkwood," 131-32.
72. Chaucer was appointed as Clerk of the Works at Westminster and the Tower of London on July 12, 1389 (serving until replaced by John Gedney on June 17, 1391; see Chaucer Life-Records, 402-8, 411). In this capacity he was responsible for the construction of the scaffolds and lists for the jousts at Smithfield in May and Oct. 1390 (Chaucer Life-Records, 472-73). On July 12, 1390, Chaucer was appointed as Clerk of Works for the repair of St. George's Chapel at Windsor (Chaucer Life-Records, 408-10).
73. On his return to Brittany Arveragus is described as "the worthy man of armes" who loves his wife "as his owene hertes lyf" (FranT, V 1092-93).
74. This is the man whose "clannes and... cortaysye croked were neuer" (SGGK, line 653).
75. See, for example, Susan Crane, "The Franklin as Dorigen," Chaucer Review 24 (1990): 236-52, at 249; Angela J. Weisl, Conquering the Reign of Femeny: Gender and Genre in Chaucer's Romance (Cambridge, U.K., 1995), 115; Edward I. Condren, Chaucer and the Energy of Creation: The Design and Organization of the Canterbury Tales (Gainesville, Fla., 1999), 163; Catherine Batt, "Gawain's Antifeminist Rant, the Pentangle, and Narrative Space," Yearbook of English Studies 22 (1992): 117-39, at 136-37; and Derek Pearsall, "Courtesy and Chivalry in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: The Order of Shame and the Invention of Embarrassment," in Derek Brewer and Jonathan Gibson, eds., A Companion to the Gawain-Poet (Cambridge, U.K., 1997), 351-62, at 355.
76. There was great sorrow at his death, [for] in truth he was the third best knight who lived in his time known to men; he achieved many a fine feat of arms. John Barbour, The Bruce, ed. and trans. A. A. M. Duncan (Edinburgh, 1997), 496-97 (13.320-23).
77. Froissart, Chronicles, trans. Brereton, 140 (5:53.30-54.13).
78. Qtd. Collins, The Order of the Garter, 273-74.
79. Richard Barber, Edward, Prince of Wales and Aquitaine: A Biography of the Black Prince (London, 1978), 11, records the death of Edward of Angoulême as 1370 while the Black Prince was on campaign before Limoges in Sept. 1370 (226), and repeats this view in the biographies of Edward of Woodstock (ODNB, 17:800) and Joan of Kent (ODNB, 30:138). Other authorities give the date of death as 1371 or 1372.
80. See Barber, Edward, Prince of Wales, 205-6, 214, 219-20, 224, 227-37; and Barbara Emerson, The Black Prince (London, 1976), 214, 223, 226, 231-32, 237-38, 242-61 ("A Lingering Death").
81. Alice Perrers was the granddaughter of Sir Richard Perrers of Hertfordshire, the wife of William Windsor (a chamber knight and lieutenant [1369-72] and then governor [1373-76] of Ireland), lady-in-waiting to Queen Philippa, and mistress of Edward III from 1364 until his death at Sheen on June 21, 1377 (at which she was present). She was the mother of Edward III's three illegitimate children, John (b. 1364-65), Joan, and Jane. Her son was knighted as Sir John de Sotherey at the Saint George's Day celebrations in 1377 and was present on Edmund of Langley's disastrous campaign in Portugal in 1381. See Given-Wilson, Royal Household, 142-46, 147-48, 159, 261, 304n9; Holmes, The Good Parliament, 68-69, 194; and Chris Given-Wilson and Alice Curteis, The Royal Bastards of Medieval England (London, 1984), 136-42.
82. William Latimer, 4th Lord Latimer of Danby in North Yorkshire (1330-81) fought at Criy, was a banneret of the royal household by 1359, and was elected Knight of the Garter in Oct. 1361. He was Edward III's lieutenant in Brittany in 1360-62, fought at Auray in 1364, and was responsible for the organization of the war effort in England in 1369-75. He was steward of the royal household in 1368-70 and chamberlain 1371-76. He was from 1368 Warden of the Forests and from 1372 constable of Dover. See ODNB, 32:643-44; Collins, The Order of the Garter, 92-93, 290; Given-Wilson, Royal Household, 148; Goodman, John of Gaunt, 289; and Holmes, The Good Parliament, 64, 65-66.
83. John Neville, 3rd Lord Neville of Raby in Durham (ca. 1330-88), campaigned in Gascony with Henry of Grosmont in 1345 and 1349, and with Edward III in the Rheims campaign of 1359-60, when he was knighted before the walls of Paris on April 12, 1360: "Et fist li rois pluiseurs chevaliers nouviaus, desquelz li sires de le Ware en fu li uns.... et messires Jehans de Nuefville et messires Richars Sturi et pluiseur aultre" (And the king made many knights, of whom the Lord Delawar was one.... and Sir John Neville and Sir Richard Stury and many others; Froissart, 5:231.11-12, 15-16). He was connected with John of Gaunt from the mid-1360s and retained by him for life in 1370 for fifty marks in time of peace and five hundred marks in time of war. He was at Nájera in 1367, captured by the Castilians and ransomed by Gaunt. He was elected Knight of the Garter in April 1369 and became a banneret by 1370. He was admiral of the North from May 30, 1370, to Oct. 6, 1371. On Nov. 20, 1371, he was appointed steward of the royal household in succession to Latimer, whose daughter and heir, Elizabeth, he married as his second wife sometime after 1378 but before Latimer's death on May 28, 1381. See ODNB, 40:505-8; Collins, The Order of the Garter, 51n74, 93, 282, 290; and Holmes, The Good Parliament, 64, 66, 67-68.
84. Sir Alan Buxhill (b. 1323) fought in Normandy and France. He was a chamber knight from at least 1358, constable of the Tower of London in 1366, and underchamberlain in 1369-71. He was elected Knight of the Garter as a bachelor-knight in Aug. 1372. See Collins, The Order of the Garter, 45, 52, 93, 282, 290, 297; and Given-Wilson, Royal Household, 71-72, 143, 150.
85. Sir Philip (de) la Vache (b. ca. 1349) was a chamber knight in 1376 and 1392, a king's knight in 1378, and retained for life in the royal household by Richard IL He was entrusted with key military appointments as captain of Calais on May 15, 1388, for three years, renewed in 1391 and 1392, and captain of Guines in 1393. His election as Knight of the Garter as a knight-bachelor in Feb. 1399 was a conspicuous sign of royal favor, coming as it did after the creation and elevation of ten new peers (the duketti) in 1397 and the election of Sir Simon Felbrigg as Knight of the Garter in Sept. 1397. He was the second husband of Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Sir Lewis Clifford (ca. 1330-1404). He is the addressee of the envoy of Chaucer's moral ballade "Truth": "Therfore, thou Vache, leve thyn old wrecchednesse" (22). See ODNB, 12:101-2; Collins, The Order of the Garter, 52 = 78, 103-4, 292, 298; and McFarlane, Lancastrian Kings, 160-61, 182n4.
86. See Holmes, The Good Parliament, 100-58; and Gerald Harriss, Shaping the Nation: England 1360-1461 (Oxford, 2005), 441-44.
87. Teseida, XII.8. 4-5. Giovanni Boccaccio, Teseida, ed. Alberto Limentani, in Tutte le opere di Giovanni Boccaccio, ed. Vittore Branca, 12 vols. incomplete (Milan, 1964-), 2:229-664; trans. William E. Coleman, "The Knight's Tale," in Correale and Hamel, eds., Sources and Analogues, 2:87-247, at 211. Citations in the text are from this edition and translation.
88. Froissart, 7:250.27-32: "There is no man so hard-hearted that, if he had been in Limoges on that day, and had remembered God, he would not have wept bitterly at the fearful slaughter which took place. More than three thousand persons, men, women and children, were dragged out to have their throats cut. May God receive their souls, for they were true martyrs" (Chronicles, trans. Brereton, 178). The Chandos Herald gets round the difficulty of this blot on the reputation of the Prince of Wales by an extreme brevity in his reference to the sack of Limoges. It seems that not even the slaughter of innocents can stain the nobility of his hero: "Mais touz y feurent mortz ou pris/Par le noble Prince de pris" (But all had been killed or taken there by the noble and worthy Prince; lines 4049-50). Reference by line number is to La Vie du Prince Noir by Chandos Herald, ed. Diana B. Tyson (Tübingen, 1975). Perhaps such massacres are the inevitable accompaniments of war and are to be excused by the savagery of war.
89. Citations to the Ethics, noted in the text, are to the edition of Raimondo M. Spiazzi, O.P., Sancti Thomae Aquinatis in decem libros Ethicorum Aristotelis ad Nicomachum expositio, 3rd edn. (Turin, 1964), cited as Ethics, and the translation of C. I. Litzinger, O.P., St. Thomas Aquinas: Commentary on Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics (Notre Dame, Ind., 1993), cited as Comnmentary. See also Aquinas, Commentary: "But really only the good or virtuous man should be honored because honor is the proper reward of virtue" (756).
90. See Aquinas, Summa theologiae, 2a 2ae 103.1 ad 2: "In the same work [Ethics, IV.3 1124a 7] Aristotle also makes the point that honor is not an adequate reward for virtue; there is just no better action or object than honor at our disposal, and its outward marks stand as tokens attesting to superior virtue" Citations to the Summa theologiae, noted in the text, are to Thomas Gilby et al., eds. and trans., St Thomas Aquinas: Summa theologiae, 61 vols. (London and New York, 1964-81).
91. See Aquinas, Commentary: "But we praise the lover of honor according as he is more concerned than the general run of people for the things pertaining to honor. We blame him, however, inasmuch as he desires honors more than is proper" (795).
92. See also Aquinas, Commentary: "However, virtuous men do not act for themselves alone; rather they do what is honorable both for themselves and their friends. For this reason they frequently overlook their own advantages" (1857).
93. "Thus the knight who surrendered his honor was more generous than any of the others. And bear in mind that the kind of honor he gave up is irrecoverable -- which is not the case with such other kinds as derive from battles, trials of strength and other affairs; these if lost on one occasion can always be redeemed on another. And let this be all that we need say about your question" (IV.34.15-16). Giovanni Boccaccio, Filocolo, ed. Antonio Enzo Quaglio, in Tutte le opere di Giovanni Boccaccio, ed. V. Branca, 12 vols. incomplete (Milan, 1964-), 1:45-675, at 410; trans. N. R. Havely, Chaucer's Boccaccio: Sources of Troilus and the Knight's and Franklin's Tales (Woodbridge, 1980), 153-61, at 161.
94. See Filocolo, IV.34. 6-8, at 409.
95. See Aquinas, Summa theologiae, 1a 79.12, 13, and 2a 2ae 47.6.
96. On deliberation, judgment, and command as the three acts of prudence, see Aquinas, Summa theologiae, ia 2ae 13.1 ad 2 (sententia or judicium), ia 2ae 14 (consilium), la 2ae 17 (imperium, and actus imperatus), and 2a 2ae 47.8.
97. See my article, "The Meaning of Kind Wit, Conscience, and Reason in the First Vision of Piers Plowman," Modern Philology 84 (1987): 351-58. All references to Langland are to A. V. C. Schmidt, ed., William Langland, Piers Plowman: A Parallel-Text Edition of the A, B, C and Z Versions, vol. 1 (London, 1995).
98. See MED, s.vv. lat(e adv. 4. (a), "In the near past, of late, recently, lately"; biyonde adv. 2. (a) from ?, "from abroad"; and viage n. (a), "A journey by land or sea; a pilgrimage," and (b) "a military expedition".
99. The meaning of gypon here is uncertain, for it could refer to a "quilted or padded jacket" or aketoun (MED, (a)), worn under the coat of mail as in Thop (VII 860), or a surcoat as in KnT (I 2120). See MED, s.v. jupon n., "A tight tunic of varying length, often emblazoned, worn over (? or under) armor"; and Laura F. Hodges, Chaucer and Costume: The Secular Pilgrims in the General Prologue (Cambridge, U.K., 2000), 22-24, 29, 38-39, 42-45, 52.
100. See MED, s.v. fustian n. (a), "A kind of cloth [apparently made from cotton, flax, or wool; not necessarily coarse or of poor quality]"; and Hodges, Chaucer and Costume, 45-47, 234.
101. See Chaucer Life-Records, 60-61.
102. Jones, Chaucer's Knight, 133, 211.
103. See Caferro, John Hawkwood, 73, 88-91.
104. See Hodges, Chaucer and Costume, 55-74, 228-29. She points out that the Squire's costume "lacks... the costliness of dagging or embroidery with silver and/or gold threads" and also that there is no reference to the use of silk in his gown "in either background fabric or embroidery thread" (63). It seems that the Squire is dressed fashionably but not excessively so.
105. That is, the supporters of the anti-pope, Robert of Geneva, "the executioner of Cesena" in Feb. 1377, elected in opposition to Urban VI on Sept. 20, 1378, as Clement VII with the backing of France, Scotland, Spain, and Naples.
106. See Saul, Richard II, 102-3.
107. See John H. Pratt, Chaucer and War (Lanham, Md., 2000), 157-73; and Saul, Richard II, 52-53.
108. These are "standard required equipment according to the Statute of Winchester of October 1336 for all archers who have two pounds rent or income per year" (Hodges, Chaucer and Costume, 128).
109. See MED, s.vv. gai adj. 2. (b), "of things: sumptuous, showy, rich, ornate;... elegant, fine, beautiful," and (c), "of persons: dressed up, handsomely or richly attired, decked out in finery"; and harneisen v. (b), "to adorn (a weapon, girdle, etc.)."
110. See MED, s.vv. dressen v. 2. (a), "To arrange (sth.), put in order, adjust; straighten; put (a shield, spear, armor) in position"; takel n. 2. (a), "Archery equipment;... an arrow," and (b), "weaponry, arms, weapons; battle gear"; and yemanli adv. "In the manner of a good attendant, skillfully" (apparently an hapax legomenon).
111. See Pratt, Chaucer and War, 111.
112. Reference is by line number to Le Chevalier de la Charrete, ed. Mario Roques (Paris, 1972).
113. Reference is to The Works of Sir Thomas Malory, ed. Eugène Vinaver, 3rd edn., rev. P. J. C. Field, 3 vols. (Oxford, 1990). The Morte Darthur is hereafter abbreviated Morte, and is cited from this edition by page and line number.
114. See Morte, 1125/15-1126/6, 1127/8-20, 1128/18-1129/4, 1129/29-33, 1130/11-18, and 1136/27-33.
115. See John Barnie, War in Medieval English Society: Social Values in the Hundred Years War 1337-99 (Ithaca, N.Y., 1974), 89-91.
116. See Elizabeth Longford, Wellington: The Years of the Sword (London, 1969), 462-64.
117. See Tim Clayton and Phil Craig, Finest Hour (London, 1999), 256, 384.
118. This famous exploit took place during a dismal and dangerous period for the English on the Scottish border after Bannockburn (1314) and more particularly after the capture of Berwick by the Scots on March 28, 1318. It is recounted (in Norman French) by Sir Thomas Gray of Heaton in Northumberland (d. 1369) in his Scalacronica (ca. 1355-69). See The Scalachronica: The Reigns of Edward I, Edward II and Edward III as Recorded by Sir Thomas Grey, trans. Herbert Maxwell (Glasgow, 1907; repr. Lampeter, 2000), 60-63.
119. See La Vie du Prince Noir by Chandos Herald, ed. Tyson, lines 2725-58.
120. Charny, The Book of Chivalry, ed. Kaeuper and Kennedy, 180-83 (42/34-40).
121. It is to be noted that the Knight and Theseus slay their foes in battle; they do not kill them. The verb killen (much less common than slen in Middle English, while the noun killer is exceedingly rare) is reserved by Chaucer for the violent action of the mob: "Certes, he Jakke Straw and his meynee/Ne made nevere shoutes half so shrille/Whan that they wolden any Flemyng kille" (NPT, VII 3394-96; see J. H. Pratt, Chaucer and War, 93-95). There is a dear distinction between honorable conduct in battle (where the possibility of death is an ever-present reality) and the cowardly brutality of a mob on the rampage.
122. Jones, Chaucer's Knight, 76-77, 81-86.
123. See MED, s.vv. maid(e n. 1. (a), "An unmarried woman, usually young," 2. (a), "A virgin," and 3., "A maidservant, female attendant, lady in waiting"; and mek adj. 1. (a), "Gentle, quiet, unaggressive; of a woman: modest," and 2. (a), "Having the virtue of humility, humble, unåssuming." The worthy Breton knight Arveragus wins his lady by his "meke obeysaunce" (FranT, V 739).
124. See my article "Holiness as the First of Spenser's Aristotelian Moral Virtues," Modern Language Review 81 (1986): 817-37, at 826-27.
125. On the piety of Edward III and his pilgrimages in particular, see Ian Mortimer, The Perfect King: The Life of Edward III, Father of the English Nation (London, 2006), 108-13, 133, 176-77, 201, 208, 237, 322, 341-42, 399.
126. See Goodman, John of Gaunt, 241-49.
127. Goodman, John of Gaunt, 253, 268n64.
128. Goodman, John of Gaunt, 169.
129. See William Caxton, The Book of the Ordre of Chyualry, ed. Alfred T. P. Byles, EETS o.s. 168 (London, 1926), xi-xxx (cited in the text by page and line number).
130. Hunting is part of the social compact between the estates of knights and laborers, and is expressed by Piers to the knight as necessary to the protection of his work of plowing and sowing on the half-acre (Piers Plowman, B.6.21-36).
131. See Aristotle, Ethics, V. 1129a 6-11, V.5 1134a 1-3, V.8 1135a 15-23, V.9 1137a 4-9; and Aquinas, Commentary, 888, 889, 994, 1035, 1036, 1074.
132. On the three kinds of rhetorical cause, epideictic (or demonstrative), deliberative (or political), and judicial, see Aristotle, Rhetorica, 1.3, trans. W. Rhys Roberts, in The Works of Aristotle Translated into English, ed. W D. Ross, 12 vols. (Oxford, 1924), vol. ii; and the Rhetorica ad Herennium, ed. Harry Caplan (Cambridge, Mass., 1954), 5, 59, 157, 173-85 (I.ii.2, II.I.1, III.i.1, III. vi.10-III.viii [cited by book and sections]).
133. The. interweaving of physical and moral detail is the work of Chaucer himself, and is one of a number of important modifications of his source (the promotion of beauty itself to first place at BD, 826, being another) in Machaut's description of the young lady in Le Jugement du roy de Behaigne, lines 281-408 (James I. Wimsatt and William W. Kibler, eds., Le Jugement du roy de Behaigne and Remedie de Fortune [Athens, Ga., 1988], 74-81).
134. Sorley Maclean, "Heroes," in The Faber Book of War Poetry, ed. Kenneth Baker (London, 1996), 166.
135. See MED, s.v. gai adj. 3. (a), "Excellent, noble; beautiful"; and Davis's note (SGGK, 124). But see also MED, s.v. gain. (b).
136. Charny, The Book of Chivalry, ed. Kaeuper and Kennedy, 86-87 (3/15-17).
137. See, for example, Charny, The Book of Chivalry, ed. Kaeuper and Kennedy, 86-87, 92-99 (3/17, 4/12-13, 9/30-31, 10/23, 11/9, 12/21, 13/23, 14/11, 15/27).
138. See Charny, The Book of Chivalry, ed. Kaeuper and Kennedy, 84-93, 98-103 (Sections 3-9, 16); and also Malcolm Vale, War and Chivalry: Warfare and Aristocratic Culture in England, France and Burgundy at the End of the Middle Ages (London, 1981), 63-99.
139. See Myles Dungan, Irish Voices from the Great War (Blackrocl, County Dublin, 1995), 32-84.
140. Here died Lieutenant Robert Bernard, Y Company of the 1st Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers, son of John Henry Bernard, Provost of Trinity College Dublin (1919-27). See Colonel H. C. Wylly, C.B., Neill's "Blue Caps," vols. (London, 1924; repr. 1996), 3:5, 10, 15, 25, 36, 40.
141. Twenty young men of Trinity College Dublin died on those two days alone. See my article, "The Dublin Pals" in S. Alyn Stacey, ed., Essays on Heroism in Sport in Ireland and France (Lewiston, N.Y., 2003), 101-35.
142. Jones, Chaucer's Knight, 32.
143. Dante Alighieri, De vulgari eloquentia, ed. Aristide Marigo, 3rd edn. (Florence, 1957), 170-72 (II.ii.3); trans. Robert S. Hailer, Literary Criticism of Dante Alighieri (Lincoln, Neb., 1973), 34.
144. This threnody is not in the French source, and is drawn from the lament for Sir Gawain in the alliterative Morte Arthure, lines 3864-85.
145. Jones, Chaucer's Knight, 31.
146. There is no irony here either if we attend to the importance of rhetoric in medieval poetry, to the authority of Geoffrey of Vinsauf among medieval authorities, and to the appositeness of the figure of exclamatio for the death of a king. See Rhetorica ad Herennium, IV.xv.22, and Poetria nova, 375-76, in Edmond Faral, ed., Les Arts poétiques du xii[supe] et du xiii[supe] siècle (Paris, 1924), 194-262; and Margaret E Nims, trans., Poetria nova of Geoffrey of Vinsauf (Toronto, 1967). The Poetria nova is cited by line number in the text.
147. G. C. Macaulay, ed., The English Works of John Gower, EETS e.s. 81, 82, 2 vols. (London, 1900, 1901), 1:293-95.
148. G. C. Macaulay, ed., The Works of John Gower, 4 vols. (Oxford, 1899-1920), 1:264.
149. De poetica, trans. Ingram Bywater, in W D. Ross, ed., The Works of Aristotle Translated into English, vol. 11 (Oxford, 1924).
150. See Aquinas, Summa theologiae, 1a 48.3.