Gold THE GEOFFREY CHAUCER PAGE


The Earl of Toulous

The text is lightly glossed; see the glossary in the Riverside Chaucer for words not glossed here.
 


















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Jhesu Crist in trinite,
Oonly God and persons thre,
Graunt us well to sped
And give us grace so to do,
That we may come thy blis unto,
On rod as thou can bled!
Leve Lords, I schall you tell
Of a tale some time befell
Far in unkouthe led;
How a lady had gret mischef,
And how she covered of her gref.
I pray you, take hed!

II

Some time there was in Almain
An emperour of muche main
Sir Disoclisan he hight;
He was a bold man and a stout,
All cristendom of him had dout,
So strong he was in fight;
He disherited many a man
And falsely ther londes wan
With maistry and with might,
Till hit befell upon a day,
A war wakened, as I you say,
Betwen him and a knight.

III

The Erl of Tolous, Sir Barnard,
The emperour with him was hard
And gretly was his foo.
He had raft out of his hond
Thre hundred poundes worth of lond,
Therfore his hert was woo.
He was an hardy man and a strong
And saw the emperour and did him wrong
And other men also;
He ordained him for batail,
The emperours lond for to assail;
He began to bren and sloo.

IV

The emperour had a wife,
The fairest oon, that ever bare life,
Save Mary, mekill of might
And therto God, in alle thing,
Of almesded and god bering,
By day and ek by night;
Of her body she was trew,
As ever was lady, that men knew,
And therto moost bright.
To the emperour she can say
"My dere Lord, I you pray,
Deliver the erl his right."

V

"Dame," he seide, "let that be;
That day schalt thou never see,
If I may ride on right,
That he schal have his lond again,
First schall I brek his brain,
As I am trewe knight!
He warres faste in my hond;
I schal be redy at his hond
Within this fourtenight!"
He sent aboute every whare,
That all men schulde make them yare
Again the erl to fight.

VI

He let cry in every side
Throwe his lond, fer and wide,
Both in feld and town;
Alle that might wepon ber,
Sword, alablast, schild or sper,
They schould be redy boun.
The erl on his side also
With fourty thousand and moo
With spers and swordes brown.
A day of batail there was sett;
In feld when they togeder mett,
Was crakedd many a crown.

VII

The emperour had batailes seven,
He spake to them with sterne steven
And said: "So mot I thrive,
Be ye now redy for to fight,
Go and bet hem downe right
And leeve none on live;
Lok that non raumsomed be
Nother for golde ne for fee,
But sle them with sword and knive!"
For all his bost he failed yet,
The erl manly him mett
With strokes good and rive.

VIII

They rered bataile on every side,
Boldly togeder can they ride
With scheld and many a sper;
They laid on faste, as they were wod,
With swerds and axes, that were god:
Ful hideius hit was to her;
There were schildes and schaftes schakedd,
Hedes thorogh helmes crakedd,
And hawberks all toter.
The erl himself an axe drow,
An hundred men that day he slow,
So wight he was in wer!

IX

Many a sted there steken was,
Many a bold baron in that place
Lay burling in his blod.
So moch blod there was spilt,
That the feld was overhilt,
As hit were a flod.
Many a wife may sitt and wep,
That was wont soft to slep,
And now can they no god.
Many a body and many a hedd,
Many a doghty knight there was dedd,
That was wild and wod.

X

The Erl of Tolous wan the feld;
The emperour stod and beheld,
Full faste can he flee
To a castle there beside
(Fain he was his hedd to hide)
And with him erles thre;
No moo forsothe scaped away,
But they were slain and taken that day,
Hit might none other be.
The erl till night folowed the chace,
And sith he thanked God of his grace,
That sits in trinite.


XI

There were slain in that batail
Sixty thousand withoute fail,
On the emperours side,
There were taken thre hundred and fifty
Of grete lordes, sikerliy
With woundes grimly wide;
On the erles side there were slain
But twenty, sothely to sayn,
So boldly they can abide!
Soche grace God him send,
That false quarrel comes to evell end
For oght that may betide.

XII

Now the emperour is ful woo:
He has lost men and lond also,
Sore then sighed hee;
He sware by Him that died on rod,
Met ne drink schuld do him god,
Or he him venged be.
The emperes seide: "Gode Lord,
Hit is better, ye be acord,
By oght that I can see;
Hit is gret perill, soth to tell,
To be again the right quarrell;
By God! thus thinkes me."

XIII

"Dame," seid the emperour,
"I have a gret dishonour,
Therfore mine hert is woo;
Min erls are slain and broght to ded,
Therfore carefull is my red,
Sorow nigh will me sloo,"
Then seide Dame Beulibon:
"Sir, I red, by Seinte John,
Of warre that ye hoo;
Ye have the wrong and he the right,
And that he may see in sight
By this and other moo."

XIV

The emperour was evill paid;
Hit was soth, the lady said;
Therfore him liked ill.
He went away and sighed sore,
Oon word spake he no more,
But held him wonder still,
Leve we now the emperour in thoght
Game ne gle liked him noght,
So gretly can he grill!
And to the erl we turn again,
That thanked God with all his main,
That grace had sent him till.

XV

The Erl Bernard of Tolous
Had fele men chivalrous
Taken to his prisoun;
Moche god of them he hadd;
I can not tell, so God me gladd;
So gret was ther raunsoun!
Among them all he had oon,
Was grettest of them everichoon,
A lord of many a town,
Sir Tralabas of Turky
(The emperour him loved, sikerly,)
A man of gret renown.

XVI

So hit befell upon a day
The erl and he went to play
By a river side.
The erl seid to Tralabas:
"Tell me, Sir, for Goddes grace,
Of a thing, that springes wide:
That your emperour has a wife,
The fairest oon, that is on life,
Of hew and ek of hide.
I swer by boke and ek by bell,
If sche be so feir, as men tell,
Mekill may be his pride."

XVII

Then saide that lord anon right:
"By the ordre I ber of knight,
The soth I schall tell thee:
To seek the worlde more and less,
Cristendom and hethenness,
Is none so bright of blee,
White as snow is her colour,
Her rud redder than the rose flour,
In sight who may her see;
Alle men that ever God wroght,
Might not think nor cast in thoght
A fairer for to be."

XVIII

Then seid the erl: "By Goddes grace,
This word in morning me mas,
Thou seiest, sche is so bright:
Thy raunsom here I thee forgive,
My help, my love, while I live,
Therto my trouth I plight:
So that thou wilt bring me,
In safegard for to be,
Of her to have a sight,
An hundred pound, with gret honour,
To by thee horse and armour,
As I am trewe knight!"

XIX

Than answered Sir Tralabus:
"In that covenaunt in this place
My trouth I plight to thee;
I schall hold thy forward god,
To bringe them with milde mod,
In sight her for to see:
And thero will I kep counsail
And never more, withoute fail,
Again thee to be;
I schall be trew, by Goddes ore,
To lese mine own life therfore;
Hardely trist to me!"

XX

The erl answered with wordes hend:
"I trist to thee, as to ny frend,
Withoute any strife:
Anon we were busked yare,
On our journey for to fare,
For to see that wife;
I swere by God and Seint Andrew,
If hit be so, I find thee trew,
Riches schall be thee rife."
They letted nother for wind nor weder,
But forthe they went both togeder,
Withoute any strif.

XXI

These knightis never stint nor blan,
Till to the citee they wan,
There the quen was in.
The erl himself for more dred
Cladd him in armites wed,
Though he were of riche kin;
For he wold not knowen be.
He dwelled there daies three
And rested him with wyn.
The knight bethoght him on a day,
The gode erl to betray
Falsely can he begin.

XXII

Anon he wente in a res
To chaumber to the emperes
And sett him on his knee;
He saide: "He that harowed hell,
Kepe you fro all perill,
If that his wille be!"
"Madam," he seide, "by Jhesus,
I have the Erl of Tolous,
Our moost enemy is he."
"In what maner," the lady can say
"Is he comen? I thee pray:
Anon tell thou me."

XXIII

"Madam, I was in his prison,
He has forgeven me my raunson,
By God full of might;
And all is for love of thee;
He longes sore, you to see,
Madam, ones in sight!
An hundred poun I have to meed,
Armour and a nobell steed;
For soth I have him hight,
That he schall see you his fill
Right at his owne will;
Therto my trouth I plight

XXIV

Lady, he is to us a foo,
Therfore I red, that we him sloo.
He had done us greet grill
The lady seid: "So mot I goo,
Thy soul is lost, if thou do so,
Thy trouth thou schalt fulfill.

. . .

Sith he forgaf thee thy raunson
And lousedd thee out of preson
Do way thy wicked will!

XXV

To morn, when thou herst the massebell,
Bring him in to my chapell,
And think thou on no slouth;
Ther schall he see me at his will,
Thy covenaunt to fullfill;
I red, thou hold thy trouth!
Certes, if thou him begile,
Thy soule is in gret perail,
Sin thou hast made him oth;
Certes, hit were a traitory,
For to waite him with vilany,
Me thinkes hit were routh!"

XXVI

The knight to the erle went,
In hert he held him foule schent
For his wicked thoght;
He seide: "Sir, so mot I thee,
To morn, thou schalt my lady see,
Therfore dismay thee noght:
When we her the massebell
I schall thee bring to her chapell
Thider sche schall be broght.
By the oriell side stond thou still
Then schalt thou see her at thy will
That is so worthily wroght,"

XXVII

The erl said: "I hold thee trew,
And that schall thee never rew,
As far forth as I may."
In herte he wax gladd;
"Fill the wine," wightly he badd,
"This goes to my pay!"
There he restede that night;
On the morn he can him dight
In armites array;
When they ronge to the mass,
To the chapell can they pass,
To see that lady gay.

XXVIII

They had stonden but a while,
The mountaunce of half a mile
Then came that lady free;
Two erles her ladd;
Wonder richly sche was cladd,
In gold and rich perre
When the erl saw her in sight,
Him thoght sche was as bright,
As blossom on the tree;
Of all the sights that ever he sigh
Raised never non his hert so high
Sche was so bright of blee!

XXIX

Sche stod stille in that place
And schewed openly her face
For love of that knight.
He beheld inly her face
And he swore be Goddes grace,
He saw never none so bright.
Her eyen were gray as any glas,
Mouth and nose schapen was
At all maner right;
Fro the forhedd to the too
Better schapen might none goo,
Nor none semelier in sight.

XXX

Twies sche turned her about
Betwen the erles, that were stout;
For that lord schuld her see.
When sche spake with milde steven,
Sche semed an aungell of heven:
So fair sche was of blee!
Her sides long, her middel small;
Shulders and armes therwithall
Fairer might none be;
Her hondes white as whalles bone,
With longe fingers, that faire schone,
Her nailes bright of blee.

XXXI

When he had behold her well,
The lady went to her chapell,
Masse for to her;
The erl stod on that oder side,
His eyen fro her he might not hide
So lovely sche was of cher!
He seide: "Lord God full of might
Leve I were so worthy a knight
That I might be her fer.
And that sche no husbond hadd;
All the gold that ever God made,
To me were not so der!"

XXXII

Whenne the masse come to end,
The lady, that was feir and hend,
To the chaumber can she fare;
The erl sighed and was full woo,
Out of his sight when sche schuld goo,
His morning was the mare
The erl seid: "So God me save,
Of her almes I wold crave,
If her wille ware
Might I oght get of that fre
Ech a day hit for to see,
Hit wold cover me of care."

XXXIII

The erl kneled down full right
And asked god for God allmight,
That died on the tree.
The emperes called a knight:
"Fourty florins, that ben bright,
Anon bring thou mee!"
To that armite sche had paid,
Of her finger a ring sche laid
Among that gold so free;
He thanked her oft, as I you say.
To the chaumber went that lady gay,
There her was leveste to be.

XXXIV

The erl went home to his inns
And grete joie he begins
When he found the ring;
In his herte he wax blithe
And kissde hit fele sithe
And seid: "My der derling,
On thy finger this was,
Well is me, I have thy grace,
Of thee to have this ring!
If ever I get grace of the quen,
That any love be us betwen,
This may be our tokening."

XXXV

The erl, as soon as hit was day,
Tok his leve and went his way
Into his own cuntree;
Sir Tralabas, he thanked fast:
"Of this ded, thou don me hast,
Well quit schall hit be."
They kissed togeder, as gode frend;
Sir Tralabas can home wend
There evell mot he thee!
A traitory he thoght to doo,
If he mighte win therto
So schrewd in hert was hee!

XXXVI

Anon he callede two knights,
Hardy men at all rights;
Both were of his kin.
"Sirs," he seid, "withoute fail,
If ye wil do by my counsail,
Gret worschip schuld ye win;
Knowe ye the Erl of Tolous?
Moche harm he has done us,
His bost, I red, we blin;
If ye will do after my redd,
This day he schall be dedd,
So God save me fro sin!"

XXXVII

That oon hight Kantres, that oder Kaim
Falser men might none raim,
Certes, then were thoo;
Sir Tralabas was the thridd,
Hit was no mister him to bidd
After the erl to goo.
At a brigge they him met,
With harde strokes they him besett,
As men that were his foo;
The erl was a man of main,
Fast he faght thenm again,
And soone he slew two.

XXXVIII

The thridd fledd and blew out fast,
The erl overtok him at the last,
His hedd he clofe in three.
The cuntrey gederd soon in haste,
And afer him yorn they chast,
An hundred there men might see.
The erl of them was agast;
At the last fro them he past,
Fain he was to flee;
Fro them he went into a wast;
To rest him there, he tok his cast:
A wery man was hee.

XXXIX

All the night in that forest
The gentill erl tok his rest,
He had no noder woon.
When it dawed, he rose up soon,
And thanked God, that sits in trone,
That day he had scaped his foon;
That day he travailed many a mile,
And oft he was in gret perill,
By the way as he can gon
Till he come to a fair castell,
There him was leveste to dwell,
Was made of lime and stone.

XL

Of his coming his men were gladd.
"Be ye mery, my men," he badd,
For nothing ye spare;
The emperour, withoute lees,
I trow, will let us be in pees
And war on us no mare."
Thus dwelled the erl in that place,
With game, mirth and gret solase,
Right as him levest ware.
Let we now the erl alloon,
And speke we of Dame Beuliboon,
How sche was cast in care.

XLI

The emperour loved his wife
As moche, as his owne life,
And more, if he might;
He chose two knights, that were him der,
Wheder that he were fer or ner,
To kep her day and night.
That oon his love on her he cast,
So did the toder at the last:
Sche was so fair and bright!
Nother of other wist right noght,
So derne love on them wroght,
To deth they were ner dight.

XLII

So hit befell upon a day,
That oon can to that other say:
"Sir, as must I thee!
Methinks, thou fadest all away,
As man that is clongen in clay:
So pale waxes thy blee."
Then seid that other: "I make a vow,
Right so, methinkes, farest thou,
Why so ever hit be;
Tell me thy cause, why hit is,
And I schall tell thee mine iwis:
My trouth I plight to thee."

XLIII

"I graunt," he seid, "without fail,
But lok hit be trewe counsail!"
Therto his trouth he plight.
He seid: "My lady the emperes,
For her love I am in gret distress:
To deth hit will me dight."
Then seid that other: "Certenly
Withoute drede, so fare I
For that lady bright;
Sin our love is on her sett,
How might our bale best be bett?
Canst thou rede on right?"

XLIV

Then seid that other: "By Seinte John,
Better counsail can I noon,
Methinkes, then is this:
I rede, that oon of us twoo
Prively he to her goo
And pray her of her blis:
I myself will go her till;
In case I may get her will,
Of mirth schalt thou not mis:
Thou schalt take us with the ded;
Lest thou us wrie, sche will dred
And graunt thy will iwis."

XLV

Thus they were at oon assent.
This false thef forth he went,
To witt the ladyes will;
In chaumber he found her so free,
He sett him downe on his knee,
His purpose to fulfill.
The lady said: "Stond up, my knight:
Who has wrathed thee day or night?
Hit schall like him full ill;
On thee sekenes I may see:
Tell me now thy privitee,
Why thou mornest so still."

XLVI

"Lady," he seid, "that durst I noght
For all the god, that ever was wroght,
By gret God invisibell;
But on a book if ye will swer,
That ye schall me not disker
Then were hit possibell.
Then seid the lady: "How may this be?
That thou darst not trist to mee,
Hit is full oribell.
Here my trouth to thee I plight:
I schall heil hit day and night,
As trew as bok or bell!"

XLVII

"Lady, in you is all my trist,
Inwardly I wold ye wist,
What pain I suffer you fore;
I droup, I dare night and day;
My wel, my wytt is all away,
But ye leve on my lore;
I have you loved many a day,
But to you durst I never say,
My morning is the more;
But ye do after my red,
Certenly, I am but ded:
Of my life is no store.

XLVIII

Than answered that lovely life:
"Sir, well thou wost, I am a wife,
My lord is the emperour;
He chese thee for a trewe knight,
To kepe me both day and night
Under thy sucour;
To do that ded if I assent,
I were worthy to be brent
And broght in gret dolour;
Thou art a traitour in thy saw,
Worthy to be hanged and draw,
By Mary that swete flour!"

XLIX

"A, madam!" seid the knight,
"For the love of God almight
Hereon take no hed;
In me ye may full well traist:
I did nothing but you to fraist,
Also God me sped!
Think, Madam, your trouth is plight,
To hold counsail both day and night
Fully, withoute dred;
I ask mercy for Goddes ore:
Hereof if I carpe more,
Let draw me with a sted."

L

The lady seid, "I thee forgive;
Also longe as I live,
Counsail schall hit be;
Lok, thou be a trewe man
In alle thinge, that thou can,
To my lord so free."
Yes, Lady, elles did I wrong;
For I have served him long,
And well he has quitt mee."
Hereof spake he no mare,
But to his felow can he fare,
There evill must they thee!

LI

Thus to his felow is he gone,
And he him frained soon anon:
"Sir, how hast thou spedd?"
"Righte noght," seid that other.
"Sith I was born, leve brother,
Was I never so adredd;
Certes, hit is a botles bale,
To her to touche soch a tale
At borde or at bedd."
Then said that oder: "Thy witt is thin.
I myselfe schall her win:
I lay my hedd to wedd!"

LII

Thus hit passed over, as I you say,
Til after on the thridde day
This knight him bethoght:
"Certes, spede as I may,
My ladyes will, that is so gay,
Hit schall be thorowly soght."
When he saw her in beste mod,
Sore sighing to her he yode,
Of life as he ne roght.
"Lady," he seid, "withoute fail,
But ye help me with your counsail,
In bale am I broght."

LIII

Sche answered full curtesly:
"My counsail schall be redy.
Tell me, how hit is:
When I wott word and end,
If my counsail may hit mend,
Hit schall, so have I bliss!"
"Lady," he seid, "I understond,
Ye must holde up your hond,
To hold counsail, iwis."
"Yes," seid the lady free,
"Thereto my trouthe here to thee,
And elles I did amis."

LIV

"Madam," he seid, " now I am in trist,
All my life thogh ye wist,
Ye wold me not disker;
For you I am in so gret thoght,
In moch bale I am broght,
Withoute oth I swer;
And ye may ful well see,
How pale I am of blee:
I die ner for der;
Dere Lady, graunt me your love,
For the love of God that sits above,
That stong was with a sper."

LV

"Sir," sche seid, "is that thy will?
If hit were mine, then did I ill.
What woman holdst thou me?
In thy keping I have ben:
What hast thou herd by me or sen,
That touches to vilene,
That thou in herte art so bold,
As I were a hore or a scold?
Nay, that schall never be!
Had I not hight to hold counsail,
Thou schouldst be honged, withoute fail,
Upon a galow-tree."

LVI

The knight was never so sore aferd,
Sith he was born in middelerd,
Certes, as he was thoo.
"Mercy," he seide, "god Madam.
Well I wott, I am to blame,
Therfore mine hert is woo.
Lady, let me not be spilt;
I ask mercy of my gilt,
On live ye let me goo."
The lady seid: "I graunte well,
Hit schall be counseil every del,
But do no more soo."

LVII

Now the knight forthe yede
And seid: "Felow, I may not sped.
What is thy beste redd?
If sche tell my lord of this,
We are but dedd, so have I blis:
With him are we not fedd.
Womans tong is evell to trist;
Certes, and my lord hit wist
Eten were all our bredd.
Felow, so mot I ride or go
Or sche wait us with that woo,
Herselfe schall be dedd!"

LVIII

"How might that be?" that other said:
In hert I wold be well paid,
Might we do that ded."
"Yis, Sir," he seid, "so have I roo,
I schall bring her wel thertoo;
Therof have thou no dred.
Or hit passe daies three,
In mekill sorow schall sche be:
Thus I schall quit her med."
Now are they both at oon assent,
In sorow to bring that lady gent:
The devell mot them sped!

LIX

Sone hit drow toward night,
To soper can they them dight,
The emperes and them all;
The two knightes grete japes made,
For to make the lady glad,
That was both gentill and small;
When the sopertime was done,
To the chaumber they went soon,
Knightes cladd in pall
(They daunsed and reveled, as they noght dredd),
To bring the lady to her bedd;
There foule must them fall!

LX

That oon thef callede a knight
That was carver to that lady bright,
An erles son was hee;
He was a feir child and a bold,
Twenty winter he was oold;
In lond was none so free.
"Sir, wilt thou do, as we thee say?
And we schall ordeign us a play,
That my lady may see.
Thou schalt make her to laghe soo,
Thogh sche were gretly thy foo,
Thy frend schuld sche be."

LXI

The child answered anon right:
"By the order I ber, of knight,
Therof wold I be fain,
And hit wold my lady plese,
Thogh hit wold me disese,
To ren in wind and rain,"
"Sir, make thee naked save thy brek;
Behind yonder curtain thou crep
And do as I schall sayn;
Then schalt thou see a joly play!"
"I graunt," this yong knight can say,
"By God and Seint Jermain."

LII

This child thoghte on no ill:
Of he cast his clothes still,
Behind the curtain he went.
They seid to him: "What so befall,
Come not out till we thee call."
He seid: "Sirs, I assent."
They reveled forth a grete while,
No man wiste of ther gile,
Save they two, verament.
They voided the chaumber soon anon,
The child they left sitting alone
And that lady gent.

LIII

This lady lay in bedd on slep,
Of treson tok sche no kep;
For therof wist sche noght.
This child had wonder ever among,
Why these knightes were so long:
He was in many a thoght
"Lord, mercy! How may this be?
I trow they have forgoten me,
That me hider broght;
If I them call, sche will be adredd,
My lady, lies here in her bedd,
By Him that all has wroght."

LIV

Thus he sat still as any stone;
He durst not stor nor make no mon,
To make the lady afright.
These false men (ay worth hem woo!)
To ther chaumber can they goo
And armed them full right;
Lords of bedde can they call
And badd arm them gret and small,
"Anon that ye were dight
And help to take a false traitour,
That with my lady in her bour
Has playd him all this night."

LV

Soon they were armed everichone,
With these traitoures can they gon
The lordes that there wore
To the emperes chaumber they came right
With swerdes and with torches bright
Brenning them before.
Behind the curtain they went,
The yonge knight, verrament,
Naked found they thore,
That oon thef with a swerd of wer
Thorow the body he can him ber
That word spake he no more.

LVI

The lady woke and was afright,
Whan she saw the grete light
Before her beddes side.
Sche seide, "Benedicite!
Sirs, what men are yee?"
And wonder loud sche cried.
Her enemies answered thore,
"We are here, thou false hore,
Thy dedes we have espied!
Thou hast betrayed my lord,
Thou schalt have wondering in this word,
Thy loos schall springe wide!"

LVII

The lady seid: "By Seinte John,
Hore was I never none
Nor never thoght to be."
"Thou liest," they seid, "thy loos is lorn,"
(The corse they leide her beforn)
"Lo, here is thy lemman fre!
Thus we have for he him hitt,
Thy horedom schall be well quitt
Fro us schalt thou not flee!"
They bond the lady wonder fast
And in a dep prison her cast:
Gret del hit was to see!

LVIII

Leve we now this lady in care,
And to her lord will we fare,
That ferre was her fro.
On a night, without lett,
In his slep a sweven he mett,
The story tells us so,
Him thoght ther come two wilde bers
And his wife all toters
And rofe her body a two;
Himselfe was a witty man,
And by that drem he hoped than,
His lady was in wo.

LXIX

Yerly when the day was cler,
He bad his men all in fer
To busk and make them yare
Sommers he let go before
And chariettes stuffed with store
Wel twelve mile and mare.
He hoped wele in his hert
That his wife was nat in quert
His herte was in care;
He stinted not, till he was dight
With erls, barons and many a knight;
Homward can they fare.

LXX

Night ne day never they blan
Till to that citee they wan
There the lady was in.
Without the citee lords him kept
For wo in herte many oon wept,
Ther teres might not blin;
They hoped well, if he hit wist
That his wife had soch a brist,
His joy wold be full thin;
They ladden stedes to the stall
And the lord into the hall,
To worschip him with wyn.

LXXI

Anon to the chaumber wendes he,
He longed his feire lady to see,
That was so swet a wight.

. . .

He called them, that schuld her kep;
"Where is my wife? Is sche on slep?
How fares that birde bright?"
The two traitors answered anon;
"If ye wist how sche had done,
To deth sche schuld be dight."

LXXII

"A devill!" he seide, "how soo,
To deth that sche is worthy to go?
Tell me, in what maner."
"Sir," they seid, "by Goddes ore,
The yonge knight Sir Antore,
That was her kerver,
By that lady he has lain,
And therfore we have him slain,
We founde them in fer;
Sche is in presoun, verrament,
The lawe will that sche be brent,
By God, that boght us der."

LXXIII

"Allas!" seid the emperour,
"Has sche done me this dishonour?
And I loved her so well!
I wend, for al this worldes god
That sche wold not have turned her mod;
My joy begins to kel."
He hent a knife with all his main,
Had not a knight ben, he had him slain,
For sorow he was unsel,
For bale his armes abrod he spredd,
And fell in swoun upon his bedd,
There might men see gret del!

LXXIV

On the morn by oon assent
On her they sett a parliament,
By all the comin red.
They might not find in ther counsail
By no law, without fail,
To save her from the ded.
Then bespake an olde knight:
"I have wonder, by Goddes might,
That Sir Antore thus was bestedd,
In chaumber thogh he naked were;
They let him give none answer,
But slow him, by my hedd!


LXXV

There was never man, sikerly,
That by her found any vilany,
Save they two, I dare well say;
By som hatred hit may be,
Therfore do after me
For my love, I you pray.
No mo will preve hit but they two;
We may not save her fro wo,
For soth, as I you say,
In her quarrell but we might find
A man, that were god of kind,
Durst fight again them tway."

LXXVI

All they assented to that saw,
They thoght he spak reson and law.
Then answered the king with crown;
"Fair fall thee for thine avise."
He called knights of nobill price
And badd them be redy boun,
For to cry thorow all the lond,
Both by see and by sond
If they finde moun
A man that is so moch of might,
That for that lady dare take the fight,
Schal have his waresoun.

LXXVII

Messangers, I understond,
Cried thorow all the lond
In many a rich citee,
Yif any man durst prove his might,
In trewe quarrell for to fight,
Avaunsed schuld he be!
The Erl of Tolous hard this tell;
What anger the lady befell,
Him thoght hit gret pitee.
Yif he wist, that sche had right,
He wold adventure his life to fight
For that lady free.

LXXVIII

For her he morned night and day,
And to himsef can he say,
He wold adventure his life:
"If I may wytt that sche be trew,
They, that her accused, schall rew,
But they stinte of ther strife,"
The erl seid: "By Seinte John,
Into Almain will I goon
Where I have fomen rife:
I prey to God full of might,
That I have trew quarrell to fight,
Of wo to win that wife."

LXXIX

He rode on hunting on a day,
A marchand mett he by the way
And asked him of whens he was.
"Lord," he seide, "of Almaine."
Anon the erl can him frain
Of that ilke case;
"Wherefore is your emperes
Put in so gret distress?
Tell me for Goddes grace,
Is sche gilty, so mot thou thee?"
"Nay, by Him that dyed on tree,
That schope man after his face."


LXXX

Then seid the erl withoute lett;
"When is the day sett,
Brent that sche shuld be?"
The marchaund seide "Sikerlik,
Even this day three wyk,
And therfore wo is me."
The erl seide: "I schall thee tell,
Good horse I have to sell,
And stedes two or three:
Certes, might I sell them thare
Thider with the wold I fare,
That sight for to see."


LXXXI

The marchand seid with wordes hend:
"Into that lond if ye will wende,
Hit wold be for your prow;
There may ye sell them at your will."
Anon the erl seid him till:
"Sir, herken to me now:
This jurney wilt thou with me dwell,
Twenty pound I schall the tell
To med, I make a vow!"
The marchand grauntede anon;
The erl seid: "By Seinte John,
Thy wylle I alow."

LXXXII

The erl told him in that tide,
Where he schulde him abide,
And homeward wente he.
He busked him, that no man wist;
For mekill on him was his trist.
He seid: "Sir, go with me!"
With them they toke stedes seven,
Were no fairer under heven,
That any man might see.
Into Almain they can ride;
As a coresur of mekill pride
He semed for to be.

LXXXIII

The marchand was a trewe gide;
The erl and he togeder can ride,
Till they came to that place.
A mile beside the castell,
There the emperour can dwel,
A rich abbey there was;
Of the abbot leve they gatt,
To sojourn and make ther horses fatt;
That was a noble cas!
The abbot was the ladyes em,
For her he was in gret wandrem
And moch morning he mas.

LXXXIV

So hit befell upon a day,
To cherche the erl tok the way,
Masse for to her.
He was a feir man and an high,
When the abbot him sigh
He seid: "Sir, com ner."
"Sir, when the mass is done,
I pray you, et with me at noon,
If your wille were."
The erl graunted all with game;
Afore met they wisch in same,
And to met they went in fer.

LXXXV

After met, as I you say,
Into an orchard they tok the way
The abbot and the knight,
The abbot seid and sighed sare
"Certes, Sir, I live in care
For a lady bright;
Sche is accused, min hert is woo;
Therfore sche schall to dethe goo
All again the right;
But sche have helpe, verrament,
In a fire sche schall be brent
This day sevenight."

LXXXVI

The erl seid: "So have I bliss,
Of hir, methinks, gret rewth hit is,
Trew if that sche be!"
The abbot seid: "By Seinte Poul,
For her I dare ley my soul,
That never gilty was sche;
Soche werkes never sche wroght
Neither in dede nor in thoght,
Save a ring so free
To the Erl of Tolous sche gave with wyn,
In ese of him and no sin;
In schrift thus told sche me."

LXXXVII

The erl seid: "Sith hit is soo,
Crist wrek her of her foo,
That boght her with his blood!
Wold ye siker me, withoute fail,
For to holde trew counsail
Hit might be for your god."
The abbot swor by bokes fel
And by his profession, that he wold hel
And elles he were wod.
"I am he sche gave the ring,
For to be our tokening.
Now heil hit for the rod."

LXXXVIII

I am comen, leve Sir,
To take the batail for her
And there to stond with right:
But first myself I woll her schrive,
And if I find her clen of live,
Then will my hert be light.
Let dight me in a monkes wed
To that place that men schuld her led,
To dethe to be dight;
When I have schriven her, withoute fail
For her I will take the batail,
As I am trewe knight!"

LXXXIX

The abbot was never so gladd,
Ner for joye he wax madd,
The erl can he kiss:
They made merry and slew care,
All that sevenight he dwelled thare
In mirth, withoute miss.
That day, the lady schuld be brent,
The erl with the abbot went
In monkes wed, iwis;
To the emperour he kneled blive,
That he might that lady schrive:
Anon resceived he is.

XC

He examined her, witterly,
As hit seys in the story:
Sche was withoute gilt.
Sche seid: "By him that died on tree,
Trespas was never none in me,
Wherfor I schuld be spilt:
Save oones, without lesing,
To the Erl of Tolous I gave a ring:
Assoil me, if thou wilt;
But thus my destany is come to end,
That in this fire I must be brend:
There Goddes wille be fulfillt."

XCI

The erl assoiled her with his hond,
And sithen pertly he can up stond
And seide: "Lordings, pese!
Ye that have accused this lady gent,
Ye ar worhy to be brent."
That oon knight made a rees:
"Thou carle monk, with al thy gyn
Thow your abbot be of her kin
Her sorrow schalt thou not sees;
Right so thou woldest sayn,
Thow all your covent had by hyr layn
So are ye lither and lees!"

XCII

The erl answered with wordes free:
"Sir, that oon, I trow, thou be
This lady accused has.
Thow we be men of religion,
Thou schalt do us but reson.
For all the fare thou mas,
I prove on her thou sayst not right,
Lo here my glove with thee to fight!
I undertake this case;
As false men, I schall you ken,
In redd fire schall ye bren,
Therto God give me grace!"

XCIII

All that stoden in that place,
Thanked God of his grace,
Withoute any fail.
The two knightes were full wroth:
He schuld be dedd, they swere gret oth,
But hit might not avail.
The erl wente there beside
And armed him with mekill pride,
His enemies to assail.
Manly when thy togeder met
They smote thorow helm and basenet
And marred many a mail.

XCIV

They rode togeder withoute lakk,
That his oon spere on him brakk;
That other failed thoo;
The erl smote him with his sper,
Thorow the body he can him ber,
To grounde can he goo.
That saw that oder and fast can flee,
The erl overtoke him under a tree
And wroght him mekill woo;
There this traitor can him yild
As recreaunt in the fild;
He might not fle him froo.

XCV

Before the emperour they went,
And there he made him, verrament,
To telle for the noons.
He seide: "We thoght her to spill
For sche wold not do our will,
That worthy is in wons"
The erl answered him then:
"Therfore, traitours, ye schall bren
In this fir both at ons!"
The erl anon them hent,
And in the fire he them brent,
Flesche, fell and boons.


XCVI

When they were brent bothe twoo,
The erl prively can goo
To that rich abbay.
With joye and processioun
They fett the lady into the town,
With mirth, as I tell may.
The emperour was full gladd;
"Fett me the monk," anon he badd,
"Why went he so away?
A bischoprik I will him give
My help, my love, while I live,
By God that ows this dai!"

XCVII

The abbot kneled on his knee
And seide: "Lord, gonne is he
To his owne lond;
He dwelles with the pope of Rome,
He will be glad of his come,
I do you to understond."
"Sir abbot," quod the emperour,
To me hit were a dishonour;
Soch words, I red, thou wond:
Anon in haste that I him see!
Or thou schalt never have god of me,
And therto here min hond!"

XCVIII

"Lord," he seid, " sith hit is soo,
After him that I must goo,
Ye must make me seurte:
In case he have ben your foo,
Ye schall not do him no woo,
And then, as mot I thee,
After him I will wend,
So that ye will be his frend,
If youre wille be."
"Yes," seid the emperour full fain,
"All my kin thogh he had slain,
He is welcome to me."

IC

Than spake the abbot wordes free:
"Lord, I triste now on thee,
Ye will do, as ye sey;
Hit is Sir Bernard of Tolous,
A nobill knight and a chivalrous,
That has done this jurney."
"Now certes," seid the emperour,
"To me hit is gret dishonour;
Anon, Sir, I thee pray:
After him that thou wend:
We schall kiss and be god frend,
By God, that ows this day!"

C

The abbot seide: "I assent."
After the erl anon he went
And seid: "Sir, go with me.
My lord and ye, by Seinte John,
Schall be made both at oon,
Good frendes for to be."
Therof the erl was full fain:
The emperour came him again
And said: "My frend so free,
My wrath here I thee forgive,
My help my love, while I live,
By Him, that died on tree!"

CI

Togeder lovely can they kiss,
Therof all men had gret bliss,
The romaunse telles so.
He made him steward of his lond
And sesed again into his hond,
That he him raft him fro.
The emperour lived but yeres thre,
By alexion of the lordes free
The erl tok they tho
And made him ther emperour;
For he was stiff in stour
To fight again his foo.

CII

He wedded that lady to his wife;
With joye and mirth they ladd ther life
Twenty yer and three.
Betwen tham childer they had fifteen,
Doghty knightes all beden
And semely on to see.
In Rome this gest croniculed is,
A lay of Bretain called iwis
And ever more schall be.
Jhesu Crist to heven us bring,
There to have our wonning,
Amen, amen, for charite.








cross. . . did bleed
dear

nation

recovered




Germany



fear













siezed







burn and slay





great, much

charity. . . deportment




did say, said







rightly ride (i.e. live)
















cross-bow, shield
prepared









divisions of the army
voice
As I may prosper




neither . . . property



plentiful



reared
did they ride, rode



hideous


torn to pieces


war



stuck, stabbed

wallowing

covered over



know nothing of good










































Ere
empress
you be reconciled










death
sorrowful . . . mind



halt, stop






displeased







he grieved





























hue . . . skin


great, much










complexion








makes me mourn








buy













mercy
lose
trust



courteous


prepared quickly`




plentiful to you
weather





stop nor draw back
arrived


hermit's garment



joy






rush








said










once
as a reward

promised


word I pledged




slay
mischief


pledged word

(six lines missing in MS)


loosed, set free











peril

traitorous act
ambush him





injured

as I may prosper


hear


oriel window










pleasure

prepared himself
hermit's







amount . . . mile-way (20 mins.)



precious stones



saw

complexion





















voice

complexion











hear
other



grant
companion







courteous



mourning . . . greater


if it were her will
in any way . . . noble one

cure me




i.e., begged for alms




hermit




Where she preferred to be



lodgings



many times












country




went home
may he fare miserably
treacherous deed
succeed in it












put an end to his boasting
acording to my advice





other Cain
tell of
than were then

no difficult job

bridge



against them






cleaved
countryfolk gathered
eagerly they chased




deserted land
opportunity






none other dwelling place

throne
foes


as he went









lying
peace
no more

pleasure
were









dear



other

Neither knew of the other
secret love so worked on them






as I may prosper
it seems to me
covered with clay (buried)
complexion
















without doubt


How can our poor state be made better?
can you rightly advise (us)




know








reveal












i.e., he'll pay for it
I can see sickness in you

mournest




goods, riches


reveal, dscover


trust
horrible

conceal





knew


well-being
But = Unless


mourning
Unless . . . according to

there is no hope for my life



dear one





deed


speech








trust
ask
Also = as



mercy
speak
have me dragged apart




As long as
secret






more

May they suffer evil!




asked




evil without remedy
touch upon, mention

other

as a pledge










went
as if he cared not for his life









know beginning and end (everything)



(i.e., swear)









reveal

evil, trouble



pain, harm


pierced







concerning me
villainy



promised






middle-earth




killed



secret . . . every bit




went






if
i.e., our case is hopeless
as I may
Ere







rest


Ere
great, much
pay her back
in agreement






they prepared themselves

jokes














young knight



game, amusing incident







young knight

I would be happy to do that
If

run
britches



said





off














thought nothing of treason

continually












dared not stir . . . moan


they went

out of (their) beds

Get ready quickly







they went
were there





there
war
struck him










there




fame






your reputation is ruined
corpse


whoredom. . . repaid



dole, sorrow





who was far from her

he dreamed a dream
history
bears
tear apart
split

supposed




early
all together
hurry ready
pack animals


supposed
safety



they fared



cease
arrived

awaited

cease





joy







(Three lines missing in MS)



beautiful woman









mercy




together
prison

bought






supposed
mind
grow cold

himself
wretched


dole, sorrow





common opinion (as all agreed)


death





slew





concerning her


according to me






those two



speech


advice
noble worth
prepared
through
sand (shore)
if they might find


reward








advanced
heard tell of this








mourned
he said



But = Unless

Germany
many


To rescue that woman from woe






Germany
asked him




as you may prosper

in his own image




delay


Certainly
Three weeks from today













advantage, profit




count (out) to you
as payment


praise







much . . . trust




rode
courser










got, obtained


uncle
distress
makes much mourning





hear
noble
saw




pleasure
Before dinner they washed togeher
together






sorely





unless . . . truly

a week from today












joy

confession




avenge

assure
i.e., keep secret


monastic vows . . . conceal



conceal. . . cross






hear her confession


Have me taken . . . garment

To be put to death








kissed


trouble


weed, garment
at once





certainly
history



killed
once




may ("There" not translated)




openly . . . stood up
silence!


rush
peasant. . . trickery
although
bring to an end


wretched and filled with lies








fuss you make



prove
burn














face-piece






then



other
next to

yielded
defeated






occasion
intended to kill her

dwelling places





flesh, skin, and bones








fetched






owns







coming
cause you to understand


cease


i.e., I swear it





pledge
may have been





very eagerly










adventure (day's work)
















toward, to him









French book

granted land
That he had taken from him

election
then

strong in battle







children
every one

chronicled



dwelling

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This edition is adapated for beginning readers of Middle English from the edition of Gustav Luedtke, The Erl of Tolous and the Emperes of Almain: eine englischen romanze aus dem Anfange des 15. Jahrhundrets, Berlin, 1881, pp. 238-275.
 

 
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Last modified: May, 12, 2000
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Gold Texts on this page prepared and maintained by L. D. Benson (ldb@wjh.harvard.edu)