[The text is lightly regularized and glossed; see the glossary in The Riverside Chaucer for words not glossed here.]
God in glorye of mightes moost,
That al thinge made in sapience
By vertue of woorde and holy goost,
Gyvinge to man grete excellence,
And alle, that is in erthe, wroght
Subjecte to man and man to thee,
That he shoulde with herte and thought
To love and serve, and noon but thee:
For yif man kepte thy commaundemente
In al thinge and loved thee welle
And hadde synnede in his entente,
Than shulde he fully thy grace feele;
But for the offences to God I-doon
Many vengeaunces have be-falle.
Where-of I wole you telle of oon,
It were too moch to telle of alle.
While that Rome was in excellence
Of alle Realmes in dignite,
And how it felle for his offence,
Listineth a while and ye shal see,
How it was wonnen and brente
Of a Sowdon, that heathen was,
And for synne how it was shente;
As Kinge Lowes witnessith that cas,
As it is wryten in Romaunce
And founden in bokes of Antiquyte
At Seinte Denyse Abbey in Fraunce,
There as Cronycles remembrede be,
How Laban, the kinge of high degre,
And syr and Sowdon of high Babilon,
Conquerede grete parte of Christiante,
That was born in Askalon.
And in the Cite of Agremare
Uppon the Rivere of Flagote
At that time he sojorned ther
Fulle royally, wel I wote,
With kinges twelve and Admyralles fourteen,
With many a Baron and Knightis ful boold,
That royalle were and semly to seene;
Here worthynesse al may not be told.
Hit bifelle by-twyxte March and Maye,
Whan kynde corage begynneth to pryke,
Whan frith and felde wexen gaye,
And every wight desirith his like,
Whan lovers slepen with opyn eye,
As Nightyngalis on grene tre,
And sore desire that thai cowde flye,
That thay myghte with here lovere be:
This worthy Sowdon in this seson
Shope him to grene woode to goon,
To chase the Bore or the Veneson,
The Wolfe, the Bere and the Bawson.
He rode tho uppon a foreste stronde
With grete rowte and royaltee,
The fairest, that was in alle that londe,
With Alauntes, Lymmeris and Racches free.
His huntes to chace he commaunde,
Here Bugles boldely for to blowe,
To fere the beestis in that launde.
The Sowdon woxe wery I-nowe;
He rested him under an holme tree
Sittynge uppon a grene sete
Seynge a Dromonde com sailyng in the see
Anone he charged to bekyn him with honde
To here of him tidinges newe.
The maister sende a man to londe,
Of divers langages was gode and trewe,
And saide, "Lorde, this Dromonde
Fro Babyloyne comen is,
That was worthe thousande poundis,
As is mete with shrewes I-wis,
Charged with perle and precious stones
And riche pelure and spicerye,
With oil and bras qweynte for the nones
To presente yow, my lorde worthy.
A drift of wedir us droffe to Rome,
The Romaynes robbed us anone;
Of us thai slowgh ful many one.
With sorwe and care we be bygone.
Whereof, lorde, remedye
Ye ordeyne by youre Barons boolde,
To wreke thee of this vilanee;
Or certes oure blis is colde."
The Soudon, heringe this tiding,
With egre chere he made a vowe
To Mahounde and to Appolyne,
That thai shulde by it dere I-nowe,
Er that he wente fro theyme.
"Where be ye, my kinges boolde,
My Barons and my Admyral?
Thes tidinges make myn herte coolde
But I be venged, dyen I shalle.
Sire Ferumbras, my sone so dere,
Ye muste me comforte in this case;
My joye is alle in thee nowe here
And in my Doghter Dame Florypas.
Sortybraunce, my Counselere,
Lete clepe him forthe to counsaile me,
And Oliborne, my Chauncelere
And noble Clerke of high degre,
And Espiarde, my messangere,
To goon to Assye and to Aufrike,
To kinges, princes ferr and ner,
Barons, Admyralls and Dukes frike,
Comaundinge hem uppon her legeaunce
To come in al hast unto me,
Wel Armed with shelde and launce,
To Egremoure thon riche Cite."
In shorte time this message was wroghte
An hundred thousande on a rowte
That robbery was righte dere boght,
Was never none derrer withouten doughte.
The kinge of Baldas, sir Lukafer,
Of Aufryke lorde and governoure,
Spake to the Sowdon, that men myghte here,
And saide, "Sir, for thyn honour,
Do sende for shippes both fer and nere."
Carrikes, Galeis and shippes shene,
Seven hundred were gadered al in fere
And a Dromonde for the Sowden kene.
Sir Ferumbras of Alisaundre
In the Dromonde with him was,
Of Assy the kinge of Chaunder,
And his faire doghter Floripas.
Two maistres were in the Dromounde,
Two goddes on highe seten thore
In the maister toppe, with macis rounde,
To manace with the Cristen lore.
The sailes were of rede Sendelle, silk
Embrowdred with riche araye,
With beestes and breddes every dele,
That was right curious and gaye;
The armes displaied of Laban
Of asure and foure lions of goolde.
Of Babiloyne the riche Sowdon,
Moost myghty man he was of moolde.
He made a vowe to Termagaunte,
Whan Rome were distroied and hade myschaunce,
He woolde turne ayen erraunte
And distroye Charles the kinge of Fraunce.
Forth thai sailed on the floode,
Tille thai come to the haven of Rome:
The wynde hem served, it was ful goode.
Ther londed many a grymly gome.
Thai brente and slowen, that Cristen were,
Town, Abbey and holy chirche.
The hethen hade such power there,
That moche woo gan thai there wirch.
Tidinggis came to Rome anone
Unto the Pope, that that time was,
That the hethen came to bren and slone.
This was to hem a sory cas.
He lete call his counsaile to-geder
To wete, what was beste to don.
Anone as thai were come theder,
He asked of hem al ful sone:
"Lordinges, it is unknowne to you,
That this cursed hethen Sowdon
Brennyth and stroyeth oure pepul nowe,
Alive he leveth unneth not one.
Seint Petir be oure governoure
And save this worthi Cite of Rome,
And Seinte Poule be oure gydoure
From this cursed hethen houne!"
Ifrey he bispake him than,
Of Rome he was a Senatoure,
And saide, "Sendith some worthy man
To Charles, kinge of highe honoure.
He wolde you helpe with al his myghte,
That noble kinge of Dowse Fraunce."
"Certes" quod Savaris "that weren no righte,
It were right a foule myschaunce,
To sende to that worthy kinge.
We have oure hedes yet al hole,
Oure sheldes be not broke no-thinge,
Hawberke, spere, nor poleyne, nor pole.
Where-of shul we playn to him,
That no thinge yet have assaide?
Much villanye we myght wynne,
That for noght were so sone afrayed.
Ten thousande men delyvere me tyte
Tomorwe next in-to the feelde,
And I shall prove with al my myghte
To breke there bothe spere and shelde."
Unto the Senatours it semed welle,
His counsaile goode and honurable.
This worthi Duke was armed in stele
In armes goode and profitable;
He bare a Chek of goulis clere,
An Egle of golde abrode displayed;
With him many a bolde Bachelere.
Tho spake Savary with wordes on high
And saide, "My felowes alle,
This daye prove you men worthy,
And faire you al shal befalle.
Thenke that Criste is more myghty
Than here fals goddis alle;
And he shal geve us the victorie,
And foule shal hem this day bifalle."
Forth than rode that faire Ooste
With right goode chere and randon,
Tille than come ful nighe the cooste.
Of the Sowdons Pavylon
Ferumbras was of hem ware
And sprange out as a sparkil of glede;
Of Armes bright a sheelde he bare,
A Doughty man he was of dede.
Fifteen thousande came oute there
With him at that same tyde,
Ayen the Romaynes for to werre,
With bobaunce, booste and grete pride.
The stoure was stronge, enduryng longe:
The Romaynes hade there the feelde;
The Sarysyns thai slough amonge,
Ten thousand and mo with spere and sheelde.
Savariz was wise and ware
And drowe towards that Citee.
His baner displayed with him he bare
To releve with his meyne.
The Pope with his Senatours
Thanked God that time of glorie,
That gafe hem that day grete honours,
Of hethen that day to have the victorie.
Lukafere, kinge of Baldas,
The countrey hade serchid and sought,
Ten thousande maidyns faire of face
Unto the Sowdan hath he broghte.
The Sowdon commanded hem anone,
That thai shulde al be slayn.
Martyres thai were euerychon,
And therof were thai al ful fayne.
He saide, "My peple nowe ne shalle
With hem noughte defouled be,
But I wole distroye over all
The seede over alle Cristiante."
Tho spake Lukefere the kinge,
That hethen hounde Baldas,
And saide, "Sir Sowdan, graunte me one thinge,
Thi doghter Dame Floripas.
The kinge of Fraunce I shal thee bringe
And the twelve dosipers alle in fere."
The Sowdan saide in that tokenyng,
"I graunte thee here, that is so dere."
Tho sayde Floripe, "Sire, noon haste,
He hath not done as he hath saide.
I trowe, he speketh these wordes in waste,
He wole make but an easy brayde.
Whan he bryngith home Charles the kinge
And the twelve dosipers alle,
I graunte to be his derlynge
What so evere therof by-falle."
Than on the morowe the Sowdan
Callid to him Lukafer of Baldas,
To assaile the Cite anone:
"And loke thou tary not in this cas!
Thritty thousande of my menie,
Of Gallopes, Ethiopes and Aufricanes,
Take hem to the walles with thee.
Betith down wallis, towris and stones."
Lukafer blewe his clarion
To assemble the Sarasyns that tide,
Where-of thai knewe right welle the soune,
Thai made hem redy for to ride,
But whan thai come to the yate,
The Dikes were so develye depe,
Thai helde hem selfe chek-mate;
Over cowde thai nothir goo nor crepe.
Lukafer in al the haste
Turned to the Sowdan agayn
And saide, "Sir, it is alle in waste,
We laboure nowe alle in vayne.
Too depe and brode the dikes bene,
The Towres so stronge be with alle,
That by Mahounde I can not seen,
How that we shulde winne ther to the walle."
Who was woode but the Sowdon?
He reneyed his goddis alle.
He clepede his engynour sir Mavone,
To counsaile he did him faste calle.
He tolde him the case of that myschefe,
How it stode at that ilke tyde.
Mavon gafe him counsel in breefe
To fille the dikes that were depe.
Every man to woode shal goon,
Fagotis to hewe and faste bynde,
And fille the dikes faste anoon
With alle that we may ther fynde.
"Gramercy, Mavon," quod Laban than,
"Mahoundis benysone thou shalt have,
Of alle myn ooste the wiseste man,
With counsaile men for to save."
Alle this was done the seconde daye;
Men myght go even to the walle;
On every party the ooste laye,
Thai made assalte then generalle.
The Romaynes ronnen to the towres,
Thai were in ful grete dowte;
Thai had many sharpe shoures,
Thai were assailed sore a-bowte.
Wifis and maidyns stones thai bare
To the walles than ful faste,
Thai were in grete drede and care;
The men over the wallis did caste.
Thai slowen many a Sarasyn,
Ten thousande pepul of hem and moo.
The day passed to the fyne,
The hethen withdrowe hem tho.
Whan these tidinges came to Laban,
His goddes he gan chide.
He waxe both blake, pale and wan,
He was nighe woode that same tyde.
Tho Lukafer comfortede him welle
And saide, "Sir, be not dismayed,
For I have aspied everydele,
How thai shalle alle be betrayede.
Savariz wole to morowe with us fighte,
His baner knowe I ful welle;
I shal have an othere, I you plighte,
Like to this every dele.
Whan he is moste besy in bataile,
Than wole I with banere displayede
Ride in to Rome without faile,
Thus shal thai al be betrayede."
The Sowdan was glad of this tidinge,
Hopinge it shulde be so;
And even as it was in purposynge,
Right so was it aftir I-do.
Wenynge it hade be Savarye,
Relevinge fro the hethen stour,
(Wenynge doth ofte harme withoute lye),
He entred to the maister Towre.
The firste warde thus thay wonne
By this fals contrivede engyne.
Thus was moche sorowe bygon,
Thai slough all, that were ther-Inne.
Whan Savariz saugh this discomfiture
Of the Romaynes in that time,
And how harde than was here aventur,
Of sorowe that myghte he ryme.
Of ten thousande men lefte no moo
But sexty men and twelfe,
And whan he sawe this myschief tho,
He turned homewarde agayn him selve.
By than he founde the gate shit
With Sarisyns that hade it wonne;
And Estragot with him he mette
With bores hede, blake and donne.
For as a bore an hede hadde
And a grete mace stronge as stele.
He smote Savaryz as he were madde,
That dede to grounde he felle.
This Astrogot of Ethiop,
He was a kinge of grete strength;
Ther was none suche in Europe
So stronge and so longe in length.
I trowe, he were a develes sone,
Of Belsabubbis line,
For ever he was thereto I-wone,
To do Cristen men grete pyne.
Whan tidingis came to the Pope,
That Duke Savaryz was dede slayn,
Than to woo turned alle his hope;
He dide calle than to counsaile
Alle the Senatouris of Rome,
What thinge that myght hem most availe,
And what were beste to done.
Tho by-spake a worthy man of counsaile,
An erille of the Senatouris:
"The best counsaile, that I can:
Sending unto Charles the kinge
Certifiynge him by your myssangeris
The myschief that ye are inne,
That he come with his Dosyperys
To rescue Cristiante fro this hethen."
All thai assentede anone therto;
The lettres were made in haste.
Three messageres we ordeyn therto,
That went forthe at the laste.
At a posterne thai wente oute
Prively aboute mydnyght,
And passed through alle the route.
Of hem was war no wight.
But let we nowe the messangeris goon,
And speke we of Laban,
How he dide saile the Cite anoon,
And commaundid, that every man
Shulde with pikeys or with bille
The wallis over throwe,
That he myght the Romaynes kille,
Playnly on a rowe.
By water he ordeynede the shippes goon,
The bootis bownden to the maste,
That thai myght fight with hem anoon,
Honde of honde, that was here caste.
To the Towre a bastile stode,
An engyne was I-throwe,
That was to the Cite ful goode,
And brake down towres both high and lowe.
Tho sorowede alle the citesyns
And were ful hevy than.
Tho wox proude the Sarasyns,
And than bispake sire Laban
And saide, "Yolde you here to me,
Ye may not longe endure,
Or ellis shall ye al slayn be,
By Mahounde I you ensure."
A Romayne drive a darte him to
And smote him on the breste plate,
Ne hadde his hawberke lasted tho,
Mahounde had come too late.
Tho was the Sowdon more than wod,
He cried to Ferumbras,
"For Mahoundes love, that is so good,
Destroye up bothe man and place.
Spare no thinge that is alyve,
Hous, toure, nor walle,
Beest, nor man, childe nor wife,
Brenne, slo and distroye alle."
Tho Ferumbras ordeynede anone.
To bende the Engynes to the town
And bete down both Toure and stoon.
He cleped forth Fortibraunce and Mavon
And saide, "Be youre engynes goode?
Shewe forth here nowe your crafte
For Mahoundis love, that gevith man foode,
That ther be no toure lafte."
Tho the grete gloton Estagote
With his myghty mace sware
On the gatis of Rome he smote
And brake hem alle on three thare.
In he entrid at the gate
The porte-colis on him thai lete falle.
He wende, he hade come too late,
It smote him through herte, liver and galle.
He lay cryande at the grounde
Like a develle of Helle;
Through the Cite wente the sowne,
So loude than gan he yelle.
Gladde were al the Romaynes,
That he was take in the trappe,
And sorye were al the Sarsyns
Of that myschevos happe.
Sory was the Soudon than
And Ferumbras and Lukafer.
Thai drowe hem tille her tentes than,
Thai left him ligginge there.
Mahounde toke his soule to him
And broght it to his blis.
He loved him wel and al his kyn,
Of that myghte he not miss.
Anone the Pope dide somon alle;
The peple of the Cite came,
To Seinte Petris he dide hem calle,
And thidere came every man.
He saide on high, "My Children dere,
Ye wote wel, how it is;
Ayenst the Sarisyns, that now be here,
We mowe not longe endure I-wis.
Thay brekene oure walles, oure towres alle
With caste of his engyne.
Therefore here amonge you alle
Ye shalle here counsaile myne.
Thai bene withdrawe to here oost,
And on-armede thay ben alle.
Therfore, me thenketh, is beste
To-morowe erly on hem to falle.
We have thirti thousande men;
Twenty thousande shal go with me,
And in this Cite leve ten
To governe the comynalte."
The Senatouris assentede sone
And saide, beter myghte no man seyne.
On the morowe this was it done;
God bringe hem wele home agayne.
The Pope did display than
The high baner of Rome,
And he assoiled every man
Through gracious God in Dome.
He praide of helpe and socour
Seinte Petir and Poule also
And oure lady, that swete flowre,
To save the Cite of Rome from woo.
Forth thai riden towarde the oost.
Ferumbras romede a-boute;
He saw the Romaynes comen by the cost,
Thereof he hade grete dowte.
He blewe an horne, of bras it was;
The Sarsyns be-gon to wake.
"Arise up" he saide, "in aras!
We bene elles alle I-take,
And Armes anone, every wight,
To horse with spere and shelde!
Ye may se here a ferefull sighte
Of oure enemyes in the felde.
Astopars, goo ye biforne vs,
For ye be men of myghte;
Ethiopes, Assaynes and Askalous,
Go nexte afore my sighte.
My Fadir and I with Babyloynes,
Who shal kepe the rerewarde.
King Lukafer with Baldeseynes,
To venge alle, shalle have the fowarde."
The Romaynes aspied, that thai were ware
Of here comynge than,
And therfore hade thay moche care.
Natheles on hem thai gon --
Seinte Petir be here socoure! --
And laiden on side, bake and bon.
There bigan a sturdy showre.
Sire Ferumbras of Alisaundre oon,
That bolde man was in dede,
Uppon a steede Cassaundre gaye,
He roode in riche weede.
Sire Bryer of Poyle a Romayne to fraye
He bare through with a spere,
Dede to the grounde ther he lay
Might he no more hem dere!
That sawe Huberte, a worthy man,
How Briere was I-slayn,
Ferumbras to quite than
To him he rode ful even.
With a spere uppone his shelde pan
Stifly ganne he strike;
The shelde he brake I-myddis the feelde;
His Hawberke wolde not breke.
Many goode strokes were delte.
Ferumbras was a-greved tho,
He smote with mayne and myghte
The nekke asonder, the ventayle also,
That dede he sate uprighte.
There was bataile harde and stronge;
Many a steede wente ther a-straye,
And leyen at the grounde I-stonge,
That resyn never aftyr that day,
Nine thousand of the payens pride
That day were slayn,
And eight thousande of the Romaynes side,
That in the feelde dede layne.
Lukafere, that paynym proude,
Slough Romaynes eightene,
Of werre moche sorowe he coude,
His strokes were over alle sene.
Gyndarde, a Senatoure of Rome,
Had slayne Sarsenys ten,
Tille he met with the cursed gome;
Lukifere slough him than.
Tho come the Pope with grete aray,
His baner to-fore him wente.
Ferumbras than gan to assaye,
If he myght that praye entente,
Supposynge in this thoughte,
Ther was the soverayne;
He spared him therfore right noght,
But bare him down ther in the playn.
Anoon he sterte on him all-ane
His ventayle for to onlace,
And saugh his crown newe shafe,
A-shamed thanne he was.
"Fye, preest, God gyfe thee sorowe!
What doist thou armede in the feelde,
That sholdest saye thi matyns on morwe,
What doist thou with spere and shelde?
I hoped, thou hadiste ben an Emperoure,
Or a Cheftayne of this ooste here,
Or some worthy conqueroure.
Go home and kepe thy qwer!
Shame it were to me certayne
To sle thee in this bataile,
Therfore turne thee home agayn!"
The Pope was gladde ther-of certayne,
He wente home to Rome that nyght
With five thousande and no more,
Fifteen thousande lefte in the feelde aplight,
Full grete sorowe was therfore.
Nowe telle we of the messanger,
That wente to Charlemayne,
Certyfyinge him by lettres dere,
How the Romaynes were slayne,
And how the Contrey brente was
Unto the Gate of Rome,
And how the people song "alas,"
Tille socoure from him come.
"Who" quod Charles, that worthy kinge,
"The Sowdon and Ferumbras?
I nyl lette for no thinge,
Till I him oute of Cristendome chace.
Therefore Gy of Burgoyn,
Mynne owen nevewe so trewe,
Take a thousande pounde of Frankis fyne,
To wage wyth the pepul newe.
Take this with thee nowe at this time,
And more I wole sende thee,
Loke that thou spare no hors ne shelde,
But that he dede be;
And faste hie thee thyderwarde,
For I drede thay have grete nede,
And I shalle come aftirwarde
As faste, as I may me spede."
Speke we of Sir Laban
And let Charles and Gy be,
How he ordeyned for hem than
To Distroye Rome Citee.
"Sir Lukafer, thou madiste thi boost
To conquer the Romaynes
And to bringe me the ooste
Of the twelve peeris and Charlemayne.
Uppon a condicion I graunte thee
My doghter, dere Dame Floripas.
Wherefore, I aske nowe of thee
To holde covenaunte in this cas."
"That I saide" quod Lucafere,
"To Mahounde I make a vowe
To done al that I hight thee ther,
Ye, and more than for Florip love."
He ordeyned assaute anone in haste
With ten thousande men and moo;
And Ferumbras at that other side faste
Assailed hem with grete woo.
The saute endured al that daye
From morowe, tille it was nyght,
To throwe and shete by euery waye,
While that hem endured the light.
Tho wente thai home to thair tentys,
Tille it were on the morowe.
Isres in his fals ententes
Purposed treson and sorowe.
He was chief Porter of the Town,
By heritage and fee so he shulde be.
He wente to the Sowdan,
For the riche Cite betraye wolde he,
And saide, "Lorde, gife me grace
For my goodes and for me,
And I wole delyver thee this place
To have and holde for ever in fee.
The keyes of this riche Cite
I have in my bandon."
"That graunte I" quod Laban "thee
To be free withoute raunson."
Ferumbras made him yare,
With twenti thousand men and moo,
With this Isres for to fare,
And to wynne the Cite soo.
As sone as he entred was
The chief gate of alle,
And alle his men in aras.
He lete the Portcolys falle.
He smote off the traitourus hede
And saide, "God gife him care!
Shal he never more ete brede!
All traitours evel mot thai fare!
If he myght live and reigne here,
He wolde betraye me;
For go he west, south or north,
Traitour shalle he never be."
He dide lete bere his hede on a spere
Through-oute this faire Citee.
"Treson, treson" thai cried there,
Pite it was to here and see.
The people fled by every waye,
Thai durst no-where a-bide.
The highe wey ful of dede men laye,
And eke by every lanes side.
Ferumbras to Seinte Petris wente,
And alle the Relekes he seased anoon,
The Crosse, the Crown, the Nailes bente;
He toke hem with him everychone.
He dide dispoile al the Cite
Both of tresoure and of goolde,
And after that brente he
Alle that ever myght be toolde.
And alle the tresoure with hem thai bare
To the Cite of Egremour.
Laban the Sowdon sojourned there
Thre monthes and thre dayes more
In myrth and Joye and grete solas.
And to his goddes offrynge he made,
He and his sone Sir Ferumbras
Here goddis of golde dide fade,
Thai brente Frankensense,
That smoked up so stronge,
The fume in her presence,
It lasted alle alonge.
Thai blewe hornes of bras,
Thai dronke beestes bloode.
Milke and hony ther was,
That was royal and goode.
Serpentes in Oile were fryed
To serve the Sowdon with alle,
"Antrarian, Antrarian" thai lowde cryed
That signyfied "Joye generalle."
Thus thai lived in joye and blis
Two monthes or thre.
Of = By
syr = lord
Ascolon (in Palestine)
here = their
forest and field
boar / deer
bear / badger
tho = then
breeds of hunting dogs
suitable to rascals, indeed
winds of storm
supposed heathen gods
very dearly pay for it
Asia / Afirca
in a company
dearer / doubt
a supposed pagan god
burned and slew
they there caused
burn and slay
nor thigh armor nor shaft
Of what should we complain
checkered bachground of bright red
here and there
douzpers all together
that = you who
Gallopes = from Gallipoli (?)
ditches / devilishly
considered themselves defeated
neither walk nor creep
called his engineer
straight (over the filled ditch)
showers (of arrows)
in every way
(the Romans) supposing
retreating / attack
main tower (keep)
line of defense
pikes / halberd
completely, one after another
to their tents
men from Bagdad
Apulia / terrify
neckpiece (of armour)
capture that prey
will not delay
unless / dead
never = never again
relics / siezed
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