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of the first renown were to take the field in the presence of Prince John himself, who was expected to grace the lists* had attracted universal attention, and an immense confluence of persons of all ranks hastened, upon the appointed morning, to the place of combat.
2. The scene was singularly romantic. The ground, as if fashioned on purpose for the martial display which was intended, sloped gradually down on all sides to a level bottom, which was inclosed for the lists with strong palisades, forming a space of a quarter of a mile in length, and about half as broad.
3. At each of the portals were stationed two heralds, attended by six trumpets, as many pursuivants, and a strong body of men-at-arms, for maintaining order, and ascertaining the quality of the knights who proposed to engage in this martial game.
4. On a platform beyond the southern entrance, formed by a natural elevation of the ground, were pitched five magnificent pavilions, adorned with pennons of russet and black, the chosen color of the five knights challengers. Before each pavilion was suspended the shield of the knight by whom it was occupied, and beside it stood his squire, quaintly disguised as a savage or sylvan man, or in some other fantastic dress, according to the taste of his master, and the character which he was pleased to assume during the game.
5. The central pavilion, as the place of honor, had been assigned to Brian de Bois-Guilbert, whose renown in all games of chivalry, no less than his connection with the knights who had undertaken this passage of arms, had occasioned him to be eagerly received into the company of the challengers, and even adopted as a chief.
6. On one side of his tent were pitched those of Reginald Front-de-Beuf and Richard de Malvoisin, and on the other was the pavilion of Hugh de Grantmesnil, a noble baron in the vicinity, whose ancestor had been Lord High Steward of England in the time of the Conqueror and his son William Rufus. Ralph de Vipont, a Knight of St. John of Jerusalem, occupied the fifth pavilion.
7. The northern access to the lists* terminated in an entrance of thirty feet in breadth, at the extremity of which was a large inclosed space for such knights as might be disposed to enter the lists with the challengers, behind which were placed tents containing refreshments of every kind for their accommodation, with armorers, farriers, and other attendants, in readiness to give their services wherever they might be necessary.
* The lists were lines inclosing or forming the extremity of a piece of ground selected for the combat. To enter the lists is to accept a challenge, or engage in contest. To grace the lists is to be present at the
8. The exterior of the lists was in part occupied by temporary galleries spread with tapestry and carpets, and accommodated with cushions for the convenience of those ladies and nobles who were expected to attend upon the tournament. A narrow space, betwixt these galleries and the lists, gave accommodation for yeomanry and spectators of a better degree than the mere vulgar, and might be compared to the pit of a theater.
9. The promiscuous multitude arranged themselves upon large banks of turf prepared for the purpose, which, aided by the natural elevation of the ground, enabled them to look over the galleries, and obtain a fair view into the lists. Besides
the accommodation which these stations afforded, many hun? dreds had perched themselves on the branches of the trees
which surrounded the meadow, and even the steeple of a country church, at some distance, was crowded with spectators.
10. Spectators of every description thronged forward to occupy their respective stations, — not without many quarrels concerning those which they were entitled to hold. Some of these were settled by the men-at-arms with brief ceremony; the shafts of their battle-axes, and pommels of their swords, being readily employed as arguments to convince the most refractory. Others, which involved the rank of more elevated persons, were determined by the heralds, or by the two marshals of the field.
11. Gradually the galleries became filled with knights and nobles, in their robes of peace, whose long and rich-tinted mantles were contrasted with the gayer and more splendid habits of the ladies, that, in a greater proportion than even the men themselves, thronged to witness a sport which one would have thought too bloody and dangerous to afford them much pleasure.
12. The lower and interior space was soon filled by substantial yeomen and burghers, and such of the lesser gentry as, from modesty, poverty, or dubious title, durst not assume any higher place. It was, of course, amongst these that the most frequent disputes for precedence occurred.
13. Prince John, being surrounded by his followers, gave signal to the heralds to proclaim the laws of the tournament,
which were briefly as follows:- First, the five challengers were to undertake all comers. Secondly, any knight proposing to combat might, if he pleased, select a special antagonist from among the challengers, by touching his shield.*
14. Thirdly, when the knights present had accomplished their vow, by each of them breaking five lances, the prince was to declare the victor in the first day's tourney, who should receive as prize a war-horse of exquisite beauty and matchless strength ; and, in addition to this reward of valor, it was now announced, he should have the peculiar honor of naming the Queen of Love and Beauty, by whom the prize should be given on the ensuing day.
15. Fourthly, it was announced, that, on the second day, there should be a general tournament, in which all the knights present, who were desirous to win praise, might take part; and being divided into two bands of equal numbers, might fight it out manfully, until the signal was given by Prince John to cease the combat.
16. The elected Queen of Love and Beauty was then to crown the knight whom the prince should adjudge to have borne himself best in this second day, with a coronet composed of thin gold plate, cut into the shape of a laurel crown. On this second day, the knightly games ceased. But on that which followed, feats of archery, of bull-baiting, and other popular amusements, were to be practiced, for the more immediate amusement of the populace.
17. The lists now presented a most splendid spectacle. The sloping galleries were crowded with all that was noble, great, wealthy and beautiful, in the northern and midland parts of England; and the contrast of the various dresses of these dignified spectators rendered the view as gay as it was rich.
18. The heralds ceased their proclamation with their usual cry of “Largesse, largesse, gallant knights !” and gold and silver pieces were showered on them from the galleries, it being a high point of chivalry to exhibit liberality towards those whom the age accounted the secretaries, at once, and historians, of honor.
19. The heralds withdrew from the lists in gay and glittering procession, and none remained within them save the marshals of the field, who, armed cap-à-pie,* sat on horseback, motionless as statues, at the opposite ends of the lists. Meantime, the inclosed space at the northern extremity of the lists, large as it was, was now completely crowded with knights, desirous to prove their skill against the challengers, and, when viewed from the galleries, presented the appearance of a sea of waving plumage, intermixed with glistening helmets, and tall•lànces, to the extremities of which were, in many cases, attached small pennons of about a span's breadth, which, fluttering in the air as the breeze caught them, joined with the restless motion of the feathers to add liveliness to the scene.
* If he did so with the reverse of his lance, the trial of skill was made with what were called the arms of courtesy, - that is, lances at whose extremity a piece of round flat board was fixed, so that no danger was encountered, save from the shock of the horses and spears. But if the shield was touched with the sharp end of the lance, the combat was understood to be at outrance, – that is, the knights were to fight with sharp weapons, as in actual battle.
The same subject, continued. 1. At length the barriers were opened, and five knights, chosen by lot, advanced slowly into the area ; a single champion riding in front, and the other four following in pairs. All were splendidly armed, and my Saxon authority records at great length their devices, their colors, and the embroidery of their horse-trappings.
2. The champions advanced through the lists, restraining their fiery steeds, and compelling them to move slowly, while, at the same time, they exhibited their paces, together with the grace and dexterity of the riders. With the eyes of an immense concourse of spectators fixed upon them, they advanced up to the platform upon which the tents of the challengers stood, and there separating themselves, each touched slightly, and with the reverse of his lance, the shield of the antagonist to whom he wished to oppose himself.
3. The lower orders of spectators in general — nay, many of the higher, and it is even said several of the ladies — were rather disappointed at the champions choosing the arms of courtesy. For the same sort of persons who, in the present day, applaud most highly the deepest tragedies, were then interested in a tournament exactly in proportion to the danger incurred by the.champions engaged.
4. Having intimated their more pacific purpose, the champions retreated to the extremity of the lists, where they remained drawn up in a line ; while the challengers, sallying each from his pavilion, mounted their horses, and, headed by
* From head to foot.
Brian de Bois-Guilbert, descended from the platform, and 'opposed themselves individually to the knights who had touched their respective shields.
5. At the flourish of clarions and trumpets, they started out against each other at full gallop; and such was the superior dexterity or good fortune of the challengers, that those opposed to Bois-Guilbert, Malvoisin, and Front-deBæuf, rolled on the ground.
6. The antagonist of Grantmesnil, instead of bearing his lance-point fair against the crest or the shield of his enemy, swerved so much from the direct line as to break his weapon athwart the person of his opponent, — a circumstance which was accounted more disgraceful than being actually unhorsed; because the one might happen from accident, whereas the other evinced awkwardness, and want of management of the weapon and of the horse. The fifth knight alone maintained the honor of his party, and parted fairly with the Knight of St. John, both splintering their lances, without advantage on either side.
7. The shouts of the multitude, together with the acclamations of the heralds, and the clangor of the trumpets, announced the triumph of the victors and the defeat of the vanquished. The former retreated to their pavilions, and the latter, gathering themselves up as they could, withdrew from the lists in disgrace and dejection, to agree with their victors concerning the redemption of their arms and their horses, which, according to the laws of the tournament, they had forfeited.
8. The fifth of their number alone tarried in the lists long enough to be greeted with the applauses of the spectators, amongst which he retreated, to the aggravation, doubtless, of his companions' mortification.
9. A second and third party of knights took the field; and although they had various success, yet, upon the whole, the advantage decidedly remained with the challengers, not one of whom lost his seat or swerved from his charge, - misfortunes which befell one or two of their antagonists, in each encounter. The spirits, therefore, of those opposed to them seemed to be considerably damped by their continued success.
10. Three knights only appeared on the fourth entry, who, avoiding the shields of Bois-Guilbert and Front-de-Bæuf, contented themselves with touching those of the three other knights, who had not altogether manifested the same strength and dexterity.
11. This politic selection did not alter the luck of the field