Manners, Custom and Dress During the Middle Ages and During the Renaissance Period
Paul Lacroix

Part 4 out of 8

Wild Animals and Birds of Prey" (Manuscript, Fifteenth Century, National
Library of Paris)]

[Illustration: Fig. 133.--"How to carry a Cloth to approach
Beasts."--Fac-simile of a Miniature in the Manuscript of Phoebus
(Fifteenth Century).]

The curious miniatures which accompany the text in the original manuscript
of Gaston Phoebus, and which have been reproduced in nearly all the
ancient copies of this celebrated manuscript, give most distinct and
graphic ideas of the various modes of hunting. We find, for instance, that
the use of an artificial cow for approaching wild-fowl was understood at
that time, the only difference being that a model was used more like a
horse than a cow (Fig. 133); we also see sportsmen shooting at bears, wild
boars, stags, and such live animals with arrows having sharp iron points,
intended to enter deep into the flesh, notwithstanding the thickness of
the fur and the creature's hard skin. In the case of the hare, however,
the missile had a heavy, massive end, probably made of lead, which stunned
him without piercing his body (Fig. 134). In other cases the sportsman is
represented with a crossbow seated in a cart, all covered up with boughs,
by which plan he was supposed to approach the prey without alarming it
any more than a swinging branch would do (Fig. 135).

Gaston Phoebus is known to have been one of the bravest knights of his
time; and, after fighting, he considered hunting as his greatest delight.
Somewhat ingenuously he writes of himself as a hunter, "that he doubts
having any superior." Like all his contemporaries, he is eloquent as to
the moral effect of his favourite pastime. "By hunting," he says, "one
avoids the sin of indolence; and, according to our faith, he who avoids
the seven mortal sins will be saved; therefore the good sportsman will be

[Illustration: Fig. 134.--"How to allure the Hare."--Fac-simile of a
Miniature in the Manuscript of Phoebus (Fifteenth Century).]

From the earliest ages sportsmen placed themselves under the protection of
some special deity. Among the Greeks and Romans it was Diana and Phoebe.
The Gauls, who had adopted the greater number of the gods and goddesses of
Rome, invoked the moon when they sallied forth to war or to the chase;
but, as soon as they penetrated the sacred obscurity of the forests, they
appealed more particularly to the goddess _Ardhuina_, whose name, of
unknown origin, has probably since been applied to the immense
well-stocked forests of Ardenne or Ardennes. They erected in the depths of
the woods monstrous stone figures in honour of this goddess, such as the
heads of stags on the bodies of men or women; and, to propitiate her
during the chase, they hung round these idols the feet, the skins, and the
horns of the beasts they killed. Cernunnos, who was always represented
with a human head surmounted by stags' horns, had an altar even in
Lutetia, which was, no doubt, in consequence of the great woods which
skirted the banks of the Seine.

[Illustration: Fig. 135.--"How to take a Cart to allure
Beasts."--Fac-simile of a Miniature in the Manuscript of Phoebus
(Fifteenth Century).]

The Gallic Cernunnos, which we also find among the Romans, since Ovid
mentions the votary stags' horns, continued to be worshipped to a certain
extent after the establishment of the Christian religion. In the fifth
century, Germain, an intrepid hunter, who afterwards became Bishop of
Auxerre, possessed not far from his residence an oak of enormous diameter,
a thorough Cernunnos, which he hung with the skins and other portions of
animals he had killed in the chase. In some countries, where the Cernunnos
remained an object of veneration, everybody bedecked it in the same way.
The largest oak to be found in the district was chosen on which to suspend
the trophies both of warriors and of hunters; and, at a more recent
period, sportsmen used to hang outside their doors stags' heads, boars'
feet, birds of prey, and other trophies, a custom which evidently was a
relic of the one referred to.

On pagan idolatry being abandoned, hunters used to have a presiding
genius or protector, whom they selected from amongst the saints most in
renown. Some chose St. Germain d'Auxerre, who had himself been a
sportsman; others St. Martin, who had been a soldier before he became
Bishop of Tours. Eventually they all agreed to place themselves under the
patronage of St. Hubert, Bishop of Liege, a renowned hunter of the eighth
century. This saint devoted himself to a religious life, after one day
haying encountered a miraculous stag whilst hunting in the woods, which
appeared to him as bearing between his horns a luminous image of our
Saviour. At first the feast of St. Hubert was celebrated four times a
year, namely, at the anniversaries of his conversion and death, and on the
two occasions on which his relics were exhibited. At the celebration of
each of these feasts a large number of sportsmen in "fine apparel" came
from great distances with their horses and dogs. There was, in fact, no
magnificence or pomp deemed too imposing to be displayed, both by the
kings and nobles, in honour of the patron-saint of hunting (Fig. 136).

[Illustration: Fig. 136.--"How to shout and blow Horns."--Fac-simile of a
Miniature in the Manuscript of Phoebus (Fifteenth Century).]

[Illustration: Ladies Hunting

Costumes of the fifteenth century. From a miniature in a ms. copy of
_Ovid's Epistles_ No 7234 _bis._ Bibl. nat'le de Paris.]

[Illustration: Fig. 137.--German Sportsman, drawn and engraved by J.
Amman in the Sixteenth Century.]

Hunters and sportsmen in those days formed brotherhoods, which had their
rank defined at public ceremonials, and especially in processions. In
1455, Gerard, Duke of Cleves and Burgrave of Ravensberg, created the order
of the Knights of St. Hubert, into which those of noble blood only were
admitted. The insignia consisted of a gold or silver chain formed of
hunting horns, to which was hung a small likeness of the patron-saint in
the act of doing homage to our Saviour's image as it shone on the head of
a stag. It was popularly believed that the Knights of St. Hubert had the
power of curing madness, which, for some unknown reason, never showed
itself in a pack of hounds. This, however, was not the only superstitious
belief attached to the noble and adventurous occupations of the followers
of St. Hubert. Amongst a number of old legends, which mostly belong to
Germany (Fig. 137), mention is made of hunters who sold their souls to the
devil in exchange for some enchanted arrow which never missed its aim, and
which reached game at extraordinary distances. Mention is also made in
these legends of various animals which, on being pursued by the hunters,
were miraculously saved by throwing themselves into the arms of some
saint, or by running into some holy sanctuary. There were besides knights
who, having hunted all their lives, believed that they were to continue
the same occupation in another world. An account is given in history of
the apparition of a fiery phantom to Charles IX. in the forest of Lyons,
and also the ominous meeting of Henry IV. with the terrible _grand-veneur_
in the forest of Fontainebleau. We may account for these strange tales
from the fact that hunting formerly constituted a sort of freemasonry,
with its mysterious rites and its secret language. The initiated used
particular signs of recognition amongst themselves, and they also had
lucky and unlucky numbers, emblematical colours, &c.

The more dangerous the sport the more it was indulged in by military men.
The Chronicles of the Monk of Saint-Gall describe an adventure which
befell Charlemagne on the occasion of his setting out with his huntsmen
and hounds in order to chase an enormous bear which was the terror of the
Vosges. The bear, after having disabled numerous dogs and hunters, found
himself face to face with the Emperor, who alone dared to stand up before
him. A fierce combat ensued on the summit of a rock, in which both were
locked together in a fatal embrace. The contest ended by the death of the
bear, Charles striking him with his dagger and hurling him down the
precipice. On this the hills resounded with the cry of "Vive Charles le
Grand!" from the numerous huntsmen and others who had assembled; and it is
said that this was the first occasion on which the companions of the
intrepid monarch gave him the title of _Grand_ (Magnus), so from that time
King Charles became King _Charlemagne_.

This prince was most jealous of his rights of hunting, which he would
waive to no one. For a long time he refused permission to the monks of the
Abbey of St. Denis, whom he nevertheless held in great esteem, to have
some stags killed which were destroying their forests. It was only on
condition that the flesh of these animals would serve as food to the monks
of inferior order, and that their hides should be used for binding the
missals, that he eventually granted them permission to kill the offending
animals (Fig. 138).

If we pass from the ninth to the thirteenth century, we find that Louis
IX., king of France, was as keen a sportsman and as brave a warrior as any
of his ancestors. He was, indeed, as fond of hunting as of war, and during
his first crusade an opportunity occurred to him of hunting the lion. "As
soon as he began to know the country of Cesarea," says Joinville, "the
King set to work with his people to hunt lions, so that they captured
many; but in doing so they incurred great bodily danger. The mode of
taking them was this: They pursued them on the swiftest horses. When they
came near one they shot a bolt or arrow at him, and the animal, feeling
himself wounded, ran at the first person he could see, who immediately
turned his horse's head and fled as fast as he could. During his flight he
dropped a portion of his clothing, which the lion caught up and tore,
thinking it was the person who had injured him; and whilst the lion was
thus engaged the hunters again approached the infuriated animal and shot
more bolts and arrows at him. Soon the lion left the cloth and madly
rushed at some other hunter, who adopted the same strategy as before. This
was repeated until the animal succumbed, becoming exhausted by the wounds
he had received."

[Illustration: Fig. 138.--"Nature and Appearance of Deer, and how they can
be hunted with Dogs."--Fac-simile of a Miniature in the "Livre du Roy
Modus"--Manuscript of the Fourteenth Century (National Library of Paris)]

Notwithstanding the passion which this king had for hunting, he was the
first to grant leave to the bourgeoisie to enjoy the sport. The condition
he made with them was that they should always give a haunch of any animal
killed to the lord of the soil. It is to this that we must trace the
origin of giving the animal's foot to the huntsman or to the person who
has the lead of the hunting party.

Louis XI., however, did not at all act in this liberal manner, and
although it might have been supposed that the incessant wars and political
intrigues in which he was constantly engaged would have given him no time
for amusements of this kind, yet he was, nevertheless, the keenest
sportsman of his day. This tyrant of the Castle of Plessis-les-Tours, who
was always miserly, except in matters of hunting, in which he was most
lavish, forbade even the higher classes to hunt under penalty of hanging.
To ensure the execution of his severe orders, he had all the castles as
well as the cottages searched, and any net, engine, or sporting arm found
was immediately destroyed. His only son, the heir to the throne, was not
exempted from these laws. Shut up in the Castle of Amboise, he had no
permission to leave it, for it was the will of the King that the young
prince should remain ignorant of the noble exercises of chivalry. One day
the Dauphin prayed his governor, M. du Bouchage, with so much earnestness
to give him an idea of hunting, that this noble consented to make an
excursion into the neighbouring wood with him. The King, however, managed
to find it out, and Du Bouchage had great difficulty in keeping his head
on his shoulders.

One of the best ways of pleasing Louis XI. was to offer him some present
relating to his favourite pastime, either pointers, hounds, falcons, or
varlets who were adepts in the art of venery or hawking (Figs. 139 and
140). When the cunning monarch became old and infirm, in order to make his
enemies believe that he was still young and vigorous, he sent messengers
everywhere, even to the most remote countries, to purchase horses, dogs,
and falcons, for which, according to Comines, he paid large sums (Fig.

On his death, the young prince, Charles VIII., succeeded him, and he seems
to have had an innate taste for hunting, and soon made up for lost time
and the privation to which his father had subjected him. He hunted daily,
and generously allowed the nobles to do the same. It is scarcely necessary
to say that these were not slow in indulging in the privilege thus
restored to them, and which was one of their most ancient pastimes and
occupations; for it must be remembered that, in those days of small
intellectual culture, hunting must have been a great, if not at times the
only, resource against idleness and the monotony of country life.

Everything which related to sport again became the fashion amongst the
youth of the nobility, and their chief occupation when not engaged in war.
They continued as formerly to invent every sort of sporting device. For
example, they obtained from other countries traps, engines, and
hunting-weapons; they introduced into France at great expense foreign
animals, which they took great pains in naturalising as game or in
training as auxiliaries in hunting. After having imported the reindeer
from Lapland, which did not succeed in their temperate climate, and the
pheasant from Tartary, with which they stocked the woods, they imported
with greater success the panther and the leopard from Africa, which were
used for furred game as the hawk was for feathered game. The mode of
hunting with these animals was as follows: The sportsmen, preceded by
their dogs, rode across country, each with a leopard sitting behind him on
his saddle. When the dogs had started the game the leopard jumped off the
saddle and sprang after it, and as soon as it was caught the hunters threw
the leopard a piece of raw flesh, for which he gave up the prey and
remounted behind his master (Fig. 142)

Louis XI., Charles VIII., and Louis XII. often hunted thus. The leopards,
which formed a part of the royal venery, were kept in an enclosure of the
Castle of Amboise, which still exists near the gate _des Lions_, so
called, no doubt, on account of these sporting and carnivorous animals
being mistaken for lions by the common people. There, were, however,
always lions in the menageries of the kings of France.

[Illustration: Fig. 139.--"The Way to catch Squirrels on the Ground in the
Woods"--Fac-simile of a Miniature in the Manuscript of the "Livre du Roy
Modus" (Fourteenth Century)]

Francis I. was quite as fond of hunting as any of his predecessors. His
innate taste for sport was increased during his travels in Italy, where he
lived with princes who displayed great splendour in their hunting
equipages. He even acquired the name of the _Father of Sportsmen_. His
_netting_ establishment alone, consisted of one captain, one lieutenant,
twelve mounted huntsmen, six varlets to attend the bloodhounds; six
whips, who had under their charge sixty hounds; and one hundred bowmen on
foot, carrying large stakes for fixing the nets and tents, which were
carried by fifty six-horsed chariots. He was much pleased when ladies
followed the chase; and amongst those who were most inclined to share its
pleasures, its toils, and even its perils, was Catherine de Medicis, then
Dauphine, who was distinguished for her agility and her graceful
appearance on horseback, and who became a thorough sportswoman.

[Illustration: Fig. 140.-"The Way of catching Partridges with an Osier
Net-Work Apparatus"--Fac-simile of a Miniature in "Livre du Roy Modus."]

The taste for hunting having become very general, and the art being
considered as the most noble occupation to which persons could devote
themselves, it is not surprising to find sporting works composed by
writers of the greatest renown and of the highest rank. The learned
William Bude, whom Erasmus called the _wonder of France_, dedicated to the
children of Francis I. the second book of his "Philologie," which contains
a treatise on stag-hunting. This treatise, originally written in Latin,
was afterwards translated into French by order of Charles IX., who was
acknowledged to be one of the boldest and most scientific hunters of his
time. An extraordinary feat, which has never been imitated by any one, is
recorded of him, and that was, that alone, on horseback and without dogs,
he hunted down a stag. The "Chasse Royale," the authorship of which is
attributed to him, is replete with scientific information.
"Wolf-hunting," a work by the celebrated Clamorgan, and "Yenery," by Du
Fouilloux, were dedicated to Charles IX., and a great number of special
treatises on such subjects appeared in his reign.

[Illustration: Fig. 141.--"Kennel in which Dogs should live, and how they
should be kept."--Fac-simile of a Miniature in Manuscript of Phoebus
(Fifteenth Century).]

His brother, the effeminate Henry III., disliked hunting, as he considered
it too fatiguing and too dangerous.

On the other hand, according to Sully, Henry IV., _le Bearnais_, who
learned hunting in early youth in the Pyrenees, "loved all kinds of sport,
and, above all, the most fatiguing and adventurous pursuits, such as those
after wolves, bears, and boars." He never missed a chance of hunting,
"even when in face of an enemy. If he knew a stag to be near, he found
time to hunt it," and we find in the "Memoirs of Sully " that the King
hunted the day after the famous battle of Ivry.

One day, when he was only King of Navarre, he invited the ladies of Pau to
come and see a bear-hunt. Happily they refused, for on that occasion their
nerves would have been put to a serious test. Two bears killed two of the
horses, and several bowmen were hugged to death by the ferocious animals.
Another bear, although pierced in several places, and having six or seven
pike-heads in his body, charged eight men who were stationed on the top of
a rock, and the whole of them with the bear were all dashed to pieces down
the precipice. The only point in which Louis XIII. resembled his father
was his love of the chase, for during his reign hunting continued in
France, as well as in other countries, to be a favourite royal pastime.

We have remarked that St. Germain d'Auxerre, who at a certain period was
the patron of sportsmen, made hunting his habitual relaxation. He devoted
himself to it with great keenness in his youth, before he became bishop,
that is, when he was Duke of Auxerre and general of the troops of the
provinces. Subsequently, when against his will he was raised to the
episcopal dignity, not only did he give up all pleasures, but he devoted
himself to the strictest religious life. Unfortunately, in those days, all
church-men did not understand, as he did, that the duties of their holy
vocation were not consistent with these pastimes, for, in the year 507, we
find that councils and synods forbade priests to hunt. In spite of this,
however, the ancient historians relate that several noble prelates,
yielding to the customs of the times, indulged in hunting the stag and
flying the falcon.

[Illustration: Fig. 142.--Hunting with the Leopard, from a Stamp of Jean
Stradan (Sixteenth Century).]

It is related in history that some of the most illustrious popes were also
great lovers of the chase, namely, Julius II, Leo X., and, previously to
them, Pius II, who, before becoming Pope, amongst other literary and
scientific works, wrote a Latin treatise on venery under his Christian
names, AEneas Silvius. It is easy to understand how it happened that sports
formerly possessed such attractions for ecclesiastical dignitaries. In
early life they acquired the tastes and habits of people of their rank,
and they were accordingly extremely jealous of the rights of chase in
their domains. Although Pope Clement V., in his celebrated "Institutions,"
called "Clementines," had formally forbidden the monks to hunt, there were
few who did not evade the canonical prohibition by pursuing furred game,
and that without considering that they were violating the laws of the
Church. The papal edict permitted the monks and priests to hunt under
certain circumstances, and especially where rabbits or beasts of prey
increased so much as to damage the crops. It can easily be imagined that
such would always be the case at a period when the people were so strictly
forbidden to destroy game; and therefore hunting was practised at all
seasons in the woods and fields in the vicinity of each abbey. The jealous
peasants, not themselves having the right of hunting, and who continually
saw _Master Abbot_ passing on his hunting excursions, said, with malice,
that "the monks never forgot to pray for the success of the litters and
nests (_pro pullis et nidis_), in order that game might always be

[Illustration: Fig. 143.--"How Wolves may be caught with a
Snare."--Fac-simile of a Miniature in the Manuscript of Phoebus (Fifteenth

If venery, as a regular science, dates from a comparatively recent
period, it is not so with falconry, the first traces of which are lost in
obscure antiquity. This kind of sport, which had become a most learned and
complicated art, was the delight of the nobles of the Middle Ages and
during the Renaissance period. It was in such esteem that a nobleman or
his lady never appeared in public without a hawk on the wrist as a mark of
dignity (Fig. 147). Even bishops and abbots entered the churches with
their hunting birds, which they placed on the steps of the altar itself
during the service.

[Illustration: Fig. 144.--"How Bears and other Beasts may be caught with a
Dart."--Fac-simile of a Miniature in the Manuscript of Phoebus (Fifteenth

The bird, like the sword, was a distinctive mark which was inseparable
from the person of gentle birth, who frequently even went to war with the
falcon on his wrist. During the battle he would make his squire hold the
bird, which he replaced on his gauntlet when the fight was over. In fact,
it was forbidden by the laws of chivalry for persons to give up their
birds, even as a ransom, should they be made prisoners; in which case they
had to let the noble birds fly, in order that they might not share their

The falcon to a certain degree partook of his owner's nobility; he was,
moreover, considered a noble bird by the laws of falconry, as were all
birds of prey which could be trained for purposes of sport. All other
birds, without distinction, were declared _ignoble_, and no exception was
made to this rule by the naturalists of the Middle Ages, even in favour of
the strongest and most magnificent, such as the eagle and vulture.
According to this capricious classification, they considered the
sparrow-hawk, which was the smallest of the hunting-birds, to rank higher
than the eagle. The nickname of this diminutive sporting bird was often
applied to a country-gentleman, who, not being able to afford to keep
falcons, used the sparrow-hawk to capture partridges and quail.

[Illustration: Fig. 145.--Olifant, or Hunting-horn, in Ivory (Fourteenth
Century).--From an Original existing in England.]

It was customary for gentlemen of all classes, whether sportsmen or not,
to possess birds of some kind, "to keep up their rank," as the saying then
was. Only the richest nobles, however, were expected to keep a regular
falconry, that is, a collection of birds suited for taking all kinds of
game, such as the hare, the kite, the heron, &c., as each sport not only
required special birds, but a particular and distinctive retinue and

[Illustration: Fig. 146.--Details Hunting-horn of the Fourteenth
Century.--From the Original in an English Collection.]

Besides the cost of falcons, which was often very great (for they were
brought from the most distant countries, such as Sweden, Iceland, Turkey,
and Morocco), their rearing and training involved considerable outlay, as
may be more readily understood from the illustrations (Figs. 148 to 155),
showing some of the principal details of the long and difficult education
which had to be given them.

To succeed in making the falcon obey the whistle, the voice, and the signs
of the falconer was the highest aim of the art, and it was only by the
exercise of much patience that the desired resuit was obtained. All birds
of prey, when used for sport, received the generic name of _falcon_; and
amongst them were to be found the gerfalcon, the saker-hawk, the lanner,
the merlin, and the sparrow-hawk. The male birds were smaller than the
females, and were called _tiercelet_--this name, however, more
particularly applied to the gosshawk or the largest kind of male hawk,
whereas the males of the above mentioned were called _laneret, sacret,
emouchet._ Generally the male birds were used for partridges and quail,
and the female birds for the hare, the heron, and crane. _Oiseaux de
poing_, or _hand-birds,_ was the name given to the gosshawk, common hawk,
the gerfalcon, and the merlin, because they returned to the hand of their
master after having pursued game. The lanner, sparrow-hawk, and saker-hawk
were called _oiseaux de leure_, from the fact that it was always necessary
to entice them back again.

[Illustration: Fig. 147.--A Noble of Provence (Fifteenth
Century).--Bonnart's "Costumes from the Tenth to the Sixteenth Century."]

The lure was an imitation of a bird, made of red cloth, that it might be
more easily seen from a distance. It was stuffed so that the falcon could
settle easily on it, and furnished with the wings of a partridge, duck, or
heron, according to circumstances. The falconer swung his mock bird like a
sling, and whistled as he did so, and the falcon, accustomed to find a
piece of flesh attached to the lure, flew down in order to obtain it, and
was thus secured.

[Illustration: Fig. 148.--King Modus teaching the Art of
Falconry.--Fac-simile of a Miniature in the Manuscript of "Livre du Roy
Modus" (Fourteenth Century).]

The trainers of birds divided them into two kinds, namely, the _niais_ or
simple bird, which had been taken from the nest, and the wild bird
(_hagard_) captured when full-grown. The education of the former was
naturally very much the easier, but they succeeded in taming both classes,
and even the most rebellious were at last subdued by depriving them of
sleep, by keeping away the light from them, by coaxing them with the
voice, by patting them, by giving them choice food, &c.

Regardless of his original habits, the bird was first accustomed to have
no fear of men, horses, and dogs. He was afterwards fastened to a string
by one leg, and, being allowed to fly a short distance, was recalled to
the lure, where he always found a dainty bit of food. After he had been
thus exercised for several months, a wounded partridge was let loose that
he might catch it near the falconer, who immediately took it from him
before he could tear it to pieces. When he appeared sufficiently tame, a
quail or partridge, previously stripped of a few feathers so as to prevent
it flying properly, was put in his way as before. If he was wanted for
hunting hares, a stuffed hare was dragged before him, inside of which was
a live chicken, whose head and liver was his reward if he did his work
well. Then they tried him with a hare whose fore-leg was broken in order
to ensure his being quickly caught. For the kite, they placed two hawks
together on the same perch, so as to accustom them peaceably to live and
hunt together, for if they fought with one another, as strange birds were
apt to do, instead of attacking the kite, the sport would of course have
failed. At first a hen of the colour of a kite was given them to fight
with. When they had mastered this, a real kite was used, which was tied to
a string and his claws and beak were filed so as to prevent him from
wounding the young untrained falcons. The moment they had secured their
prey, they were called off it and given chickens' flesh to eat on the
lure. The same System was adopted for hunting the heron or crane (Fig.

[Illustration: Fig. 149.--Falconers dressing their Birds.--Fac-simile of a
Miniature in the Manuscript of "Livre du Roy Modus" (Fourteenth Century).]

It will be seen that, in order to train birds, it was necessary for a
large number of the various kinds of game to be kept on the premises, and
for each branch of sport a regular establishment was required. In
falconry, as in venery, great care was taken to secure that a bird should
continue at one object of prey until he had secured it, that is to say, it
was most essential to teach it not to leave the game he was after in order
to pursue another which might come in his way.

To establish a falconry, therefore, not only was a very large poultry-yard
required, but also a considerable staff of huntsmen, falconers, and whips,
besides a number of horses and dogs of all sorts, which were either used
for starting the game for the hawks, or for running it down when it was
forced to ground by the birds.

[Illustration: Fig. 150.--Varlets of Falconry.--Fac-simile of a Miniature
in the Manuscript of "Livre du Roy Modus" (Fourteenth Century).]

A well-trained falcon was a bird of great value, and was the finest
present that could be made to a lady, to a nobleman, or to the King
himself, by any one who had received a favour. For instance, the King of
France received six birds from the Abbot of St. Hubert as a token of
gratitude for the protection granted by him to the abbey. The King of
Denmark sent him several as a gracious offering in the month of April; the
Grand Master of Malta in the month of May. At court, in those days, the
reception of falcons either in public or in private was a great business,
and the first trial of any new birds formed a topic of conversation among
the courtiers for some time after.

The arrival at court of a hawk-dealer from some distant country was also a
great event. It is said that Louis XI. gave orders that watch should be
kept night and day to seize any falcons consigned to the Duke of Brittany
from Turkey. The plan succeeded, and the birds thus stolen were brought
to the King, who exclaimed, "By our holy Lady of Clery! what will the Duke
Francis and his Bretons do? They will be very angry at the good trick I
have played them."

European princes vied with each other in extravagance as regards falconry;
but this was nothing in comparison to the magnificence displayed in
oriental establishments. The Count de Nevers, son of Philip the Bold, Duke
of Burgundy, having been made prisoner at the battle of Nicopolis, was
presented to the Sultan Bajazet, who showed him his hunting establishment
consisting of seven thousand falconers and as many huntsmen. The Duke of
Burgundy, on hearing this, sent twelve white hawks, which were very scarce
birds, as a present to Bajazet. The Sultan was so pleased with them that
he sent him back his son in exchange.

[Illustration: Fig. 151.--"How to train a New Falcon."--Fac-simile of a
Miniature in the Manuscript of "Livre du Roy Modus" (Fourteenth Century).]

The "Livre du Roy Modus" gives the most minute and curious details on the
noble science of hawking. For instance, it tells us that the _nobility_ of
the falcon was held in such respect that their utensils, trappings, or
feeding-dishes were never used for other birds. The glove on which they
were accustomed to alight was frequently elaborately embroidered in gold,
and was never used except for birds of their own species. In the private
establishments the leather hoods, which were put on their heads to prevent
them seeing, were embroidered with gold and pearls and surmounted with the
feathers of birds of paradise. Each bird wore on his legs two little bells
with his owner's crest upon them; the noise made by these was very
distinct, and could be heard even when the bird was too high in the air
to be seen, for they were not made to sound in unison; they generally came
from Italy, Milan especially being celebrated for their manufacture.
Straps were also fastened to the falcon's legs, by means of which he was
attached to the perch; at the end of this strap was a brass or gold ring
with the owner's name engraved upon it. In the royal establishments each
ring bore on one side, "I belong to the king," and on the other the name
of the Grand Falconer. This was a necessary precaution, for the birds
frequently strayed, and, if captured, they could thus be recognised and
returned. The ownership of a falcon was considered sacred, and, by an
ancient barbaric law, the stealer of a falcon was condemned to a very
curious punishment. The unfortunate thief was obliged to allow the falcon
to eat six ounces of the flesh of his breast, unless he could pay a heavy
fine to the owner and another to the king.

[Illustration: Fig. 152.--Falconers.--Fac-simile from a Miniature in
Manuscript of the Thirteenth Century, which treats of the "Cour de Jaime,
Roi de Maiorque."]

A man thoroughly acquainted with the mode of training hawks was in high
esteem everywhere. If he was a freeman, the nobles outbid each other as to
who should secure his services; if he was a serf, his master kept him as a
rare treasure, only parted with him as a most magnificent present, or sold
him for a considerable sum. Like the clever huntsman, a good falconer
(Fig. 156) was bound to be a man of varied information on natural history,
the veterinary art, and the chase; but the profession generally ran in
families, and the son added his own experience to the lessons of his
father. There were also special schools of venery and falconry, the most
renowned being of course in the royal household.

The office of Grand Falconer of France, the origin of which dates from
1250, was one of the highest in the kingdom. The Marechal de Fleuranges
says, in his curious "Memoirs"--"The Grand Falconer, whose salary is four
thousand florins" (the golden florin was worth then twelve or fifteen
francs, and this amount must represent upwards of eighty thousand francs
of present currency), "has fifty gentlemen under him, the salary of each
being from five to six thousand livres. He has also fifty assistant
falconers at two hundred livres each, all chosen by himself. His
establishment consists of three hundred birds; he has the right to hunt
wherever he pleases in the kingdom; he levies a tax on all bird-dealers,
who are forbidden, under penalty of the confiscation of their stock, from
selling a single bird in any town or at court without his sanction." The
Grand Falconer was chief at all the hunts or hawking meetings; in public
ceremonies he always appeared with the bird on his wrist, as an emblem of
his rank; and the King, whilst hawking, could not let loose his bird until
after the Grand Falconer had slipped his.

[Illustration: Fig. 153.--"How to bathe a New Falcon."--Fac-simile of a
Miniature in the Manuscript of "Livre du Roy Modus" (Fourteenth Century).]

Falconry, like venery, had a distinctive and professional vocabulary,
which it was necessary for every one who joined in hawking to understand,
unless he wished to be looked upon as an ignorant yeoman. "Flying the hawk
is a royal pastime," says the Jesuit Claude Binet, "and it is to talk
royally to talk of the flight of birds. Every one speaks of it, but few
speak well. Many speak so ignorantly as to excite pity among their
hearers. Sometimes one says the _hand_ of the bird instead of saying the
_talon_, sometimes the _talon_ instead of the _claw_, sometimes the _claw_
instead of the _nail_" &c.

The fourteenth century was the great epoch of falconry. There were then so
many nobles who hawked, that in the rooms of inns there were perches made
under the large mantel-pieces on which to place the birds while the
sportsmen were at dinner. Histories of the period are full of
characteristic anecdotes, which prove the enthusiasm which was created by
hawking in those who devoted themselves to it.

[Illustration: Fig. 154.--"How to make Young Hawks fly."--Fac-simile of a
Miniature in the Manuscript of "Livre du Roy Modus" (Fourteenth Century).]

Emperors and kings were as keen as others for this kind of sport. As early
as the tenth century the Emperor Henry I. had acquired the soubriquet of
"the Bird-catcher," from the fact of his giving much more attention to his
birds than to his subjects. His example was followed by one of his
successors, the Emperor Henry VI., who was reckoned the first falconer of
his time. When his father, the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa (Red-beard),
died in the Holy Land, in 1189, the Archdukes, Electors of the Empire,
went out to meet the prince so as to proclaim him Emperor of Germany. They
found him, surrounded by dogs, horses, and birds, ready to go hunting.
"The day is fine," he said; "allow us to put off serious affairs until

Two centuries later we find at the court of France the same ardour for
hawking and the same admiration for the performances of falcons. The
Constable Bertrand du Guesclin gave two hawks to King Charles VI.; and
the Count de Tancarville, whilst witnessing a combat between these noble
birds and a crane which had been powerful enough to keep two greyhounds at
bay, exclaimed, "I would not give up the pleasure which I feel for a
thousand florins!"

The court-poet, William Cretin, although he was Canon of the holy chapel
of Vincennes, was as passionately fond of hawking as his good master Louis
XII. He thus describes the pleasure he felt in seeing a heron succumb to
the vigorous attack of the falcons:--

"Qui auroit la mort aux dents,
Il revivroit d'avour un tel passe-temps!"

("He who is about to die
Would live again with such amusement.")

[Illustration: Fig. 155.--Lady setting out Hawking.--Fac-simile of a
Miniature in the Manuscript of "Livre du Roy Modus" (Fourteenth.

At a hunting party given by Louis XII. to the Archduke Maximilian, Mary of
Burgundy, the Archduke's wife, was killed by a fall from her horse. The
King presented his best falcons to the Archduke with a view to divert his
mind and to turn his attention from the sad event, and one of the
historians tells us that the bereaved husband was soon consoled: "The
partridges, herons, wild ducks, and quails which he was enabled to take on
his journey home by means of the King's present, materially lessening his

Falconry, after having been in much esteem for centuries, at last became
amenable to the same law which affects all great institutions, and, having
reached the height of its glory, it was destined to decay. Although the
art disappeared completely under Louis the Great, who only liked
stag-kunting, and who, by drawing all the nobility to court, disorganized
country life, no greater adept had ever been known than King Louis XIII.
His first favourite and Grand Falconer was Albert de Luynes, whom he made
prime minister and constable. Even in the Tuileries gardens, on his way to
mass at the convent of the Feuillants, this prince amused himself by
catching linnets and wrens with noisy magpies trained to pursue small

It was during this reign that some ingenious person discovered that the
anagram, ROY TRES-RARE, ESTIME DIEU DE LA FAUCONNERIE. It was also at this
time that Charles d'Arcussia, the last author who wrote a technical work
on falconry, after praising his majesty for devoting himself so thoroughly
to the divine sport, compared the King's birds to domestic angels, and the
carnivorous birds which they destroyed he likened to the devil. From this
he argued that the sport was like the angel Gabriel destroying the demon
Asmodeus. He also added, in his dedication to the King, "As the nature of
angels is above that of men, so is that of these birds above all other

[Illustration: Fig. 156.--Dress of the Falconer (Thirteenth
Century).--Sculpture of the Cathedral of Rouen.]

At that time certain religious or rather superstitious ceremonies were in
use for blessing the water with which the falcons were sprinkled before
hunting, and supplications were addressed to the eagles that they might
not molest them. The following words were used: "I adjure you, O eagles!
by the true God, by the holy God, by the most blessed Virgin Mary, by the
nine orders of angels, by the holy prophets, by the twelve apostles,
&c.... to leave the field clear to our birds, and not to molest them: in
the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." It was at
this time that, in order to recover a lost bird, the Sire de la
Brizardiere, a professional necromancer, proposed beating the owner of the
bird with birch-rods until he bled, and of making a charm with the blood,
which was reckoned infallible.

[Illustration: Fig. 157.--Diseases of Dogs and their Cure.--Fac-simile of
a Miniature in the Manuscript of Phoebus (Fourteenth Century).]

Elzear Blaze expressed his astonishment that the ladies should not have
used their influence to prevent falconry from falling into disuse. The
chase, he considered, gave them an active part in an interesting and
animated scene, which only required easy and graceful movements on their
part, and to which no danger was attached. "The ladies knowing," he says,
"how to fly a bird, how to call him back, and how to encourage him with
their voice, being familiar with him from having continually carried him
on their wrist, and often even from having broken him in themselves, the
honour of hunting belongs to them by right. Besides, it brings out to
advantage their grace and dexterity as they gallop amongst the sportsmen,
followed by their pages and varlets and a whole herd of horses and dogs."

The question of precedence and of superiority had, at every period, been
pretty evenly balanced between venery and falconry, each having its own
staunch supporters. Thus, in the "Livre du Roy Modus," two ladies contend
in verse (for the subject was considered too exalted to be treated of in
simple prose), the one for the superiority of the birds, the other for the
superiority of dogs. Their controversy is at length terminated by a
celebrated huntsman and falconer, who decides in favour of venery, for the
somewhat remarkable reason that those who pursue it enjoy oral and ocular
pleasure at the same time. In an ancient Treatise by Gace de la Vigne, in
which the same question occupies no fewer than ten thousand verses, the
King (unnamed) ends the dispute by ordering that in future they shall be
termed pleasures of dogs and pleasures of birds, so that there may be no
superiority on one side or the other (Fig. 160). The court-poet, William
Cretin, who was in great renown during the reigns of Louis XII. and
Francis I., having asked two ladies to discuss the same subject in verse,
does not hesitate, on the contrary, to place falconry above venery.

[Illustration: Fig. 158.--German Falconer, designed and engraved, in the
Sixteenth Century, by J. Amman.]

It may fairly be asserted that venery and falconry have taken a position
of some importance in history; and in support of this theory it will
suffice to mention a few facts borrowed from the annals of the chase.

The King of Navarre, Charles the Bad, had sworn to be faithful to the
alliance made between himself and King Edward III. of England; but the
English troops having been beaten by Du Guesclin, Charles saw that it was
to his advantage to turn to the side of the King of France. In order not
to appear to break his oath, he managed to be taken prisoner by the French
whilst out hunting, and thus he sacrificed his honour to his personal
interests. It was also due to a hunting party that Henry III., another
King of Navarre, who was afterwards Henry IV., escaped from Paris, on the
3rd February, 1576, and fled to Senlis, where his friends of the Reformed
religion came to join him.

[Illustration: Fig. 159.--Heron-hawking.--Fac-simile of a Miniature in the
Manuscript of the "Livre du Roy Modus" (Fourteenth Century).]

Hunting formed a principal entertainment when public festivals were
celebrated, and it was frequently accompanied with great magnificence. At
the entry of Isabel of Bavaria into Paris, a sort of stag hunt was
performed, when "the streets," according to a popular story of the time,
"were full to profusion of hares, rabbits, and goslings." Again, at the
solemn entry of Louis XI. into Paris, a representation of a doe hunt took
place near the fountain St. Innocent; "after which the queen received a
present of a magnificent stag, made of confectionery, and having the royal
arms hung round its neck." At the memorable festival given at Lille, in
1453, by the Duke of Burgundy, a very curious performance took place. "At
one end of the table," says the historian Mathieu de Coucy, "a heron was
started, which was hunted as if by falconers and sportsmen; and presently
from the other end of the table a falcon was slipped, which hovered over
the heron. In a few minutes another falcon was started from the other side
of the table, which attacked the heron so fiercely that he brought him
down in the middle of the hall. After the performance was over and the
heron was killed, it was served up at the dinner-table."

[Illustration: Fig. 160.--Sport with Dogs.--"How the Wild Boar is hunted
by means of Dogs."--Fac-simile of a Miniature in the Manuscript of the
"Livre du Roy Modus" (Fourteenth Century).]

We shall conclude this chapter with a few words on bird-fowling, a kind of
sport which was almost disdained in the Middle Ages. The anonymous author
of the "Livre du Roy Modus" called it, in the fourteenth century, the
pastime of the poor, "because the poor, who can neither keep hounds nor
falcons to hunt or to fly, take much pleasure in it, particularly as it
serves at the same time as a means of subsistence to many of them."

In this book, which was for a long time the authority in matters of sport
generally, we find that nearly all the methods and contrivances now
employed for bird-fowling were known and in use in the Middle Ages, in
addition to some which have since fallen into disuse. We accordingly read
in the "Roy Modus" a description of the drag-net, the mirror, the
screech-owl, the bird-pipe (Fig. 161), the traps, the springs, &c., the
use of all of which is now well understood. At that time, when falcons
were so much required, it was necessary that people should be employed to
catch them when young; and the author of this book speaks of nets of
various sorts, and the pronged piece of wood in the middle of which a
screech-owl or some other bird was placed in order to attract the falcons
(Fig. 162).

[Illustration: Fig. 161.--Bird-piping.--"The Manner of Catching Birds by
piping."--Fac-simile of Miniature in the Manuscript of the "Livre du Roy
Modus" (Fourteenth Century).]

Two methods were in use in those days for catching the woodcook and
pheasant, which deserve to be mentioned. "The pheasants," says "King
Modus," "are of such a nature that the male bird cannot bear the company
of another." Taking advantage of this weakness, the plan of placing a
mirror, which balanced a sort of wicker cage or coop, was adopted. The
pheasant, thinking he saw his fellow, attacked him, struck against the
glass and brought down the coop, in which he had leisure to reflect on his
jealousy (Fig. 163).

Woodcocks, which are, says the author, "the most silly birds," were caught
in this way. The bird-fowler was covered from head to foot with clothes of
the colour of dead leaves, only having two little holes for his eyes. When
he saw one he knelt down noiselessly, and supported his arms on two
sticks, so as to keep perfectly still. When the bird was not looking
towards him he cautiously approached it on his knees, holding in his hands
two little dry sticks covered with red cloth, which he gently waved so as
to divert the bird's attention from himself. In this way he gradually got
near enough to pass a noose, which he kept ready at the end of a stick,
round the bird's neck (Fig. 164).

However ingenious these tricks may appear, they are eclipsed by one we
find recorded in the "Ixeuticon," a very elegant Latin poem, by Angelis de
Barga, written two centuries later. In order to catch a large number of
starlings, this author assures us, it is only necessary to have two or
three in a cage, and, when a flight of these birds is seen passing, to
liberate them with a very long twine attached to their claws. The twine
must be covered with bird-lime, and, as the released birds instantly join
their friends, all those they come near get glued to the twine and fall
together to the ground.

[Illustration: Fig. 162.--Bird-catching with a Machine like a Long
Arm.--Fac-simile of Miniature in the Manuscript of the "Livre du Roy
Modus" (Fourteenth Century).]

As at the present time, the object of bird-fowling was twofold, namely, to
procure game for food and to capture birds to be kept either for their
voice or for fancy as pets. The trade in the latter was so important, at
least in Paris, that the bird-catchers formed a numerous corporation
having its statutes and privileges.

The Pont au Change (then covered on each side with houses and shops
occupied by goldsmiths and money-changers) was the place where these
people carried on their trade; and they had the privilege of hanging
their cages against the houses, even without the sanction of the
proprietors. This curious right was granted to them by Charles VI. in
1402, in return for which they were bound to "provide four hundred birds"
whenever a king was crowned, "and an equal number when the queen made her
first entry into her good town of Paris." The goldsmiths and
money-changers, however, finding that this became a nuisance, and that it
injured their trade, tried to get it abolished. They applied to the
authorities to protect their rights, urging that the approaches to their
shops, the rents of which they paid regularly, were continually obstructed
by a crowd of purchasers and dealers in birds. The case was brought
several times before parliament, which only confirmed the orders of the
kings of France and the ancient privileges of the bird-catchers. At the
end of the sixteenth century the quarrel became so bitter that the
goldsmiths and changers took to "throwing down the cages and birds and
trampling them under foot," and even assaulted and openly ill-treated the
poor bird-dealers. But a degree of parliament again justified the sale of
birds on the Pont an Change, by condemning the ring-leader,

[Illustration: Fig. 163.--Pheasant Fowling.--"Showing how to catch
Pheasants."--Fac-simile of a Miniature in the Manuscript of the "Livre du
Roy Modus" (Fourteenth Century).]

Pierre Filacier, the master goldsmith who had commenced the proceedings
against the bird-catchers, to pay a double fine, namely, twenty crowns to
the plaintiffs and ten to the King.

[Illustration: Fig. 164.--The Mode of catching a Woodcock.--Fac-simile of
a Miniature in the Manuscript of the "Livre du Roy Modus" (Fourteenth

It is satisfactory to observe that at that period measures were taken to
preserve nests and to prevent bird-fowling from the 15th of March to the
15th of August. Besides this, it was necessary to have an express
permission from the King himself to give persons the right of catching
birds on the King's domains. Before any one could sell birds it was
required for him to have been received as a master bird-catcher. The
recognised bird-catchers, therefore, had no opponents except dealers from
other countries, who brought canary-birds, parrots, and other foreign
specimens into Paris. These dealers were, however, obliged to conform to
strict rules. They were required on their arrival to exhibit their birds
from ten to twelve o'clock on the marble stone in the palace yard on the
days when parliament sat, in order that the masters and governors of the
King's aviary, and, after them, the presidents and councillors, might have
the first choice before other people of anything they wished to buy. They
were, besides, bound to part the male and female birds in separate cages
with tickets on them, so that purchasers might not be deceived; and, in
case of dispute on this point, some sworn inspectors were appointed as

No doubt, emboldened by the victory which they had achieved over the
goldsmiths of the Pont an Change, the bird-dealers of Paris attempted to
forbid any bourgeois of the town from breeding canaries or any sort of
cage birds. The bourgeois resented this, and brought their case before the
Marshals of France. They urged that it was easy for them to breed
canaries, and it was also a pleasure for their wives and daughters to
teach them, whereas those bought on the Pont an Change were old and
difficult to educate. This appeal was favourably received, and an order
from the tribunal of the Marshals of France permitted the bourgeois to
breed canaries, but it forbade the sale of them, which it was considered
would interfere with the trade of the master-fowlers of the town,
faubourgs, and suburbs of Paris.

[Illustration: Fig. 165.--Powder-horn.--Work of the Sixteenth Century
(Artillery Museum of Brussels).]

Games and Pastimes.

Games of the Ancient Greeks and Romans.--Games of the Circus.--Animal
Combats.--Daring of King Pepin.--The King's Lions.--Blind Men's
Fights.--Cockneys of Paris.--Champ de Mars.--Cours Plenieres and Cours
Couronnees.--Jugglers, Tumblers, and
Minstrels.--Rope-dancers.--Fireworks.--Gymnastics.--Cards and
Dice.--Chess, Marbles, and Billiards.--La Soule, La Pirouette,
&c.--Small Games for Private Society.--History of Dancing.--Ballet des
Ardents.--The "Orchesographie" (Art of Dancing) of Thoinot Arbeau.--List
of Dances.

People of all countries and at all periods have been fond of public
amusements, and have indulged in games and pastimes with a view to make
time pass agreeably. These amusements have continually varied, according
to the character of each nation, and according to the capricious changes
of fashion. Since the learned antiquarian, J. Meursius, has devoted a
large volume to describing the games of the ancient Greeks ("De Ludis
Graecorum"), and Rabelais has collected a list of two hundred and twenty
games which were in fashion at different times at the court of his gay
master, it will be easily understood that a description of all the games
and pastimes which have ever been in use by different nations, and
particularly by the French, would form an encyclopaedia of some size.

We shall give a rapid sketch of the different kinds of games and pastimes
which were most in fashion during the Middle Ages and to the end of the
sixteenth century--omitting, however, the religious festivals, which
belong to a different category; the public festivals, which will come
under the chapter on Ceremonials; the tournaments and tilting matches and
other sports of warriors, which belong to Chivalry; and, lastly, the
scenic and literary representations, which specially belong to the history
of the stage.

We shall, therefore, limit ourselves here to giving in a condensed form a
few historical details of certain court amusements, and a short
description of the games of skill and of chance, and also of dancing.

The Romans, especially during the times of the emperors, had a passionate
love for performances in the circus and amphitheatre, as well as for
chariot races, horse races, foot races, combats of animals, and feats of
strength and agility. The daily life of the Roman people may be summed up
as consisting of taking their food and enjoying games in the circus
(_panem et circenses_). A taste for similar amusements was common to the
Gauls as well as to the whole Roman Empire; and, were historians silent on
the subject, we need no further information than that which is to be
gathered from the ruins of the numerous amphitheatres, which are to be
found at every centre of Roman occupation. The circus disappeared on the
establishment of the Christian religion, for the bishops condemned it as a
profane and sanguinary vestige of Paganism, and, no doubt, this led to the
cessation of combats between man and beast. They continued, however, to
pit wild or savage animals against one another, and to train dogs to fight
with lions, tigers, bears, and bulls; otherwise it would be difficult to
explain the restoration by King Chilperic (A.D. 577) of the circuses and
arenas at Paris and Soissons. The remains of one of these circuses was not
long ago discovered in Paris whilst they were engaged in laying the
foundations for a new street, on the west side of the hill of St.
Genevieve, a short distance from the old palace of the Caesars, known by
the name of the Thermes of Julian.

Gregory of Tours states that Chilperic revived the ancient games of the
circus, but that Gaul had ceased to be famous for good athletes and
race-horses, although animal combats continued to take place for the
amusement of the kings. One day King Pepin halted, with the principal
officers of his army, at the Abbey of Ferrieres, and witnessed a fight
between a lion and a bull. The bull was of enormous size and extraordinary
strength, but nevertheless the lion overcame him; whereupon Pepin, who was
surnamed the Short, turned to his officers, who used to joke him about his
short stature, and said to them, "Make the lion loose his hold of the
bull, or kill him." No one dared to undertake so perilous a task, and some
said aloud that the man who would measure his strength with a lion must be
mad. Upon this, Pepin sprang into the arena sword in hand, and with two
blows cut off the heads of the lion and the bull. "What do you think of
that?" he said to his astonished officers. "Am I not fit to be your
master? Size cannot compare with courage. Remember what little David did
to the Giant Goliath."

Eight hundred years later there were occasional animal combats at the
court of Francis I. "A fine lady," says Brantome, "went to see the King's
lions, in company with a gentleman who much admired her. She suddenly let
her glove drop, and it fell into the lions' den. 'I beg of you,' she said,
in the calmest way, to her admirer, 'to go amongst the lions and bring me
back my glove.' The gentleman made no remark, but, without even drawing
his sword, went into the den and gave himself up silently to death to
please the lady. The lions did not move, and he was able to leave their
den without a scratch and return the lady her missing glove. 'Here is your
glove, madam,' he coldly said to her who evidently valued his life at so
small a price; 'see if you can find any one else who would do the same as
I have done for you.' So saying he left her, and never afterwards looked
at or even spoke to her."

It has been imagined that the kings of France only kept lions as living
symbols of royalty. In 1333 Philippe de Valois bought a barn in the Rue
Froidmantel, near the Chateau du Louvre, where he established a menagerie
for his lions, bears, leopards, and other wild beasts. This royal
menagerie still existed in the reigns of Charles VIII. and Francis I.
Charles V. and his successors had an establishment of lions in the
quadrangle of the Grand Hotel de St. Paul, on the very spot which was
subsequently the site of the Rue des Lions St. Paul.

These wild beasts were sometimes employed in the combats, and were pitted
against bulls and dogs in the presence of the King and his court. It was
after one of these combats that Charles IX., excited by the sanguinary
spectacle, wished to enter the arena alone in order to attack a lion which
had torn some of his best dogs to pieces, and it was only with great
difficulty that the audacious sovereign was dissuaded from his foolish
purpose. Henry III. had no disposition to imitate his brother's example;
for dreaming one night that his lions were devouring him, he had them all
killed the next day.

The love for hunting wild animals, such as the wolf, bear, and boar (see
chapter on Hunting), from an early date took the place of the animal
combats as far as the court and the nobles were concerned. The people were
therefore deprived of the spectacle of the combats which had had so much
charm for them; and as they could not resort to the alternative of the
chase, they treated themselves to a feeble imitation of the games of the
circus in such amusements as setting dogs to worry old horses or donkeys,
&c. (Fig. 166). Bull-fights, nevertheless, continued in the southern
provinces of France, as also in Spain.

At village feasts not only did wrestling matches take place, but also
queer kinds of combats with sticks or birch boughs. Two men, blindfolded,
each armed with a stick, and holding in his hand a rope fastened to a
stake, entered the arena, and went round and round trying to strike at a
fat goose or a pig which was also let loose with them. It can easily be
imagined that the greater number of the blows fell like hail on one or
other of the principal actors in this blind combat, amidst shouts of
laughter from the spectators.

[Illustration: Fig. 166.--Fight between a Horse and Dogs.--Fac-simile of a
Manuscript in the British Museum (Thirteenth Century).]

Nothing amused our ancestors more than these blind encounters; even kings
took part at these burlesque representations. At Mid-Lent annually they
attended with their court at the Quinze-Vingts, in Paris, in order to see
blindfold persons, armed from head to foot, fighting with a lance or
stick. This amusement was quite sufficient to attract all Paris. In 1425,
on the last day of August, the inhabitants of the capital crowded their
windows to witness the procession of four blind men, clothed in full
armour, like knights going to a tournament, and preceded by two men, one
playing the hautbois and the other bearing a banner on which a pig was
painted. These four champions on the next day attacked a pig, which was to
become the property of the one who killed it. The lists were situated in
the court of the Hotel d'Armagnac, the present site of the Palais Royal. A
great crowd attended the encounter. The blind men, armed with all sorts of
weapons, belaboured each other so furiously that the game would have ended
fatally to one or more of them had they not been separated and made to
divide the pig which they had all so well earned.

[Illustration: Fig. 167.--Merchants and Lion-keepers at Constantinople.--Fac-simile of
an Engraving on Wood from the "Cosmographie Universelle" of Thevet: folio,

The people of the Middle Ages had an insatiable love of sight-seeing; they
came great distances, from all parts, to witness any amusing exhibition.
They would suffer any amount of privation or fatigue to indulge this
feeling, and they gave themselves up to it so heartily that it became a
solace to them in their greatest sorrows, and they laughed with that
hearty laugh which may be said to be one of their natural characteristics.
In all public processions in the open air the crowd (or rather, as we
might say, the Cockneys of Paris), in their anxiety to see everything that
was to be seen, would frequently obstruct all the public avenues, and so
prevent the procession from passing along. In consequence of this the
Provosts of Paris on these occasions distributed hundreds of stout sticks
amongst the sergeants, who used them freely on the shoulders of the most
obstinate sight-seers (see chapter on Ceremonials). There was no religious
procession, no parish fair, no municipal feast, and no parade or review of
troops, which did not bring together crowds of people, whose ears and eyes
were wide open, if only to hear the sound of the trumpet, or to see a "dog
rush past with a frying-pan tied to his tail."

[Illustration: Fig. 168.--Free Distribution of Bread, Meat, and Wine to the
People.--Reduced Copy of a Woodcut of the Solemn Entry of Charles V and
Pope Clement VII into Bologna, in 1530.]

This curiosity of the French was particularly exhibited when the kings of
the first royal dynasty held their _Champs de Mars_, the kings of the
second dynasty their _Cours Plenieres_, and the kings of the third dynasty
their _Cours Couronnees._ In these assemblies, where the King gathered
together all his principal vassals once or twice a year, to hold personal
communication with them, and to strengthen his power by ensuring their
feudal services, large quantities of food and fermented liquors were
publicly distributed among the people (Fig. 168). The populace were always
most enthusiastic spectators of military displays, of court ceremonies,
and, above all, of the various amusements which royalty provided for them
at great cost in those days: and it was on these state occasions that
jugglers, tumblers, and minstrels displayed their talents. The _Champ de
Mars_ was one of the principal fetes of the year, and was held sometimes
in the centre of some large town, sometimes in a royal domain, and
sometimes in the open country. Bishop Gregory of Tours describes one which
was given in his diocese during the reign of Chilperic, at the Easter
festivals, at which we may be sure that the games of the circus,
re-established by Chilperic, excited the greatest interest. Charlemagne
also held _Champs de Mars_, but called them _Cours Royales,_ at which he
appeared dressed in cloth of gold studded all over with pearls and
precious stones. Under the third dynasty King Robert celebrated court days
with the same magnificence, and the people were admitted to the palace
during the royal banquet to witness the King sitting amongst his great
officers of state. The _Cours Plenieres_, which were always held at
Christmas, Twelfth-day, Easter, and on the day of Pentecost, were not less
brilliant during the reigns of Robert's successors. Louis IX. himself,
notwithstanding his natural shyness and his taste for simplicity, was
noted for the display he made on state occasions. In 1350, Philippe de
Valois wore his crown at the _Cours Plenieres_, and from that time they
were called _Cours Couronnees_. The kings of jugglers were the privileged
performers, and their feats and the other amusements, which continued on
each occasion for several days, were provided for at the sovereign's sole

[Illustration: Fig. 169.--Feats in Balancing.--Fac-simile of a Miniature in a Manuscript
in the Bodleian Library at Oxford (Thirteenth Century).]

These kings of jugglers exercised a supreme authority over the art of
jugglery and over all the members of this jovial fraternity. It must not
be imagined that these jugglers merely recited snatches from tales and
fables in rhyme; this was the least of their talents. The cleverest of
them played all sorts of musical instruments, sung songs, and repeated by
heart a multitude of stories, after the example of their reputed
forefather, King Borgabed, or Bedabie, who, according to these
troubadours, was King of Great Britain at the time that Alexander the
Great was King of Macedonia. The jugglers of a lower order especially
excelled in tumbling and in tricks of legerdemain (Figs. 169 and 170).
They threw wonderful somersaults, they leaped through hoops placed at
certain distances from one another, they played with knives, slings,
baskets, brass balls, and earthenware plates, and they walked on their
hands with their feet in the air or with their heads turned downwards so
as to look through their legs backwards. These acrobatic feats were even
practised by women. According to a legend, the daughter of Herodias was a
renowned acrobat, and on a bas-relief in the Cathedral of Rouen we find
this Jewish dancer turning somersaults before Herod, so as to fascinate
him, and thus obtain the decapitation of John the Baptist.

[Illustration: Fig. 170.--Sword-dance to the sound of the Bagpipe.--Fac-simile of a
Manuscript in the British Museum (Fourteenth Century).]

"The jugglers," adds M. de Labedolliere, in his clever work on "The
Private Life of the French," "often led about bears, monkeys, and other
animals, which they taught to dance or to fight (Figs. 171 and 172). A
manuscript in the National Library represents a banquet, and around the
table, so as to amuse the guests, performances of animals are going on,
such as monkeys riding on horseback, a bear feigning to be dead, a goat
playing the harp, and dogs walking on their hind legs." We find the same
grotesque figures on sculptures, on the capitals of churches, on the
illuminated margins of manuscripts of theology, and on prayer-books, which
seems to indicate that jugglers were the associates of painters and
illuminators, even if they themselves were not the writers and
illuminators of the manuscripts. "Jugglery," M. de Labedolliere goes on to
say, "at that time embraced poetry, music, dancing, sleight of hand,
conjuring, wrestling, boxing, and the training of animals. Its humblest
practitioners were the mimics or grimacers, in many-coloured garments, and
brazen-faced mountebanks, who provoked laughter at the expense of

[Illustration: Fig. 171.--Jugglers exhibiting Monkeys and
Bears.--Fac-simile of a Manuscript in the British Museum (Thirteenth

At first, and down to the thirteenth century, the profession of a juggler
was a most lucrative one. There was no public or private feast of any
importance without the profession being represented. Their mimicry and
acrobatic feats were less thought of than their long poems or lays of wars
and adventures, which they recited in doggerel rhyme to the accompaniment
of a stringed instrument. The doors of the chateaux were always open to
them, and they had a place assigned to them at all feasts. They were the
principal attraction at the _Cours Plenieres_, and, according to the
testimony of one of their poets, they frequently retired from business
loaded with presents, such as riding-horses, carriage-horses, jewels,
cloaks, fur robes, clothing of violet or scarlet cloth, and, above all,
with large sums of money. They loved to recall with pride the heroic
memory of one of their own calling, the brave Norman, Taillefer, who,
before the battle of Hastings, advanced alone on horseback between the two
armies about to commence the engagement, and drew off the attention of the
English by singing them the song of Roland. He then began juggling, and
taking his lance by the hilt, he threw it into the air and caught it by
the point as it fell; then, drawing his sword, he spun it several times
over his head, and caught it in a similar way as it fell. After these
skilful exercises, during which the enemy were gaping in mute
astonishment, he forced his charger through the English ranks, and caused
great havoc before he fell, positively riddled with wounds.

Notwithstanding this noble instance, not to belie the old proverb,
jugglers were never received into the order of knighthood. They were,
after a time, as much abused as they had before been extolled. Their
licentious lives reflected itself in their obscene language. Their
pantomimes, like their songs, showed that they were the votaries of the
lowest vices. The lower orders laughed at their coarseness, and were
amused at their juggleries; but the nobility were disgusted with them, and
they were absolutely excluded from the presence of ladies and girls in the
chateaux and houses of the bourgeoisie. We see in the tale of "Le Jugleor"
that they acquired ill fame everywhere, inasmuch as they were addicted to
every sort of vice. The clergy, and St. Bernard especially, denounced them
and held them up to public contempt. St. Bernard spoke thus of them in one
of his sermons written in the middle of the twelfth century: "A man fond
of jugglers will soon enough possess a wife whose name is Poverty. If it
happens that the tricks of jugglers are forced upon your notice, endeavour
to avoid them, and think of other things. The tricks of jugglers never
please God."

[Illustration: Fig. 172.--Equestrian Performances.--Fac-simile of a Miniature in an
English Manuscript of the Thirteenth Century.]

From this remark we may understand their fall as well as the disrepute in
which they were held at that time, and we are not surprised to find in an
old edition of the "Memoires du Sire de Joinville" this passage, which is,
perhaps, an interpolation from a contemporary document: "St. Louis drove
from his kingdom all tumblers and players of sleight of hand, through whom
many evil habits and tastes had become engendered in the people." A
troubadour's story of this period shows that the jugglers wandered about
the country with their trained animals nearly starved; they were half
naked, and were often without anything on their heads, without coats,
without shoes, and always without money. The lower orders welcomed them,
and continued to admire and idolize them for their clever tricks (Fig.
173), but the bourgeois class, following the example of the nobility,
turned their backs upon them. In 1345 Guillaume de Gourmont, Provost of
Paris, forbad their singing or relating obscene stories, under penalty of
fine and imprisonment.

[Illustration: Fig. 173.--Jugglers performing in public.--From a Miniature
of the Manuscript of "Guarin de Loherane" (Thirteenth Century).--Library
of the Arsenal, Paris.]

Having been associated together as a confraternity since 1331, they lived
huddled together in one street of Paris, which took the name of _Rue des
Jougleurs_. It was at this period that the Church and Hospital of St.
Julian were founded through the exertions of Jacques Goure, a native of
Pistoia, and of Huet le Lorrain, who were both jugglers. The newly formed
brotherhood at once undertook to subscribe to this good work, and each
member did so according to his means. Their aid to the cost of the two
buildings was sixty livres, and they were both erected in the Rue St.
Martin, and placed under the protection of St. Julian the Martyr. The
chapel was consecrated on the last Sunday in September, 1335, and on the
front of it there were three figures, one representing a troubadour, one a
minstrel, and one a juggler, each with his various instruments.

The bad repute into which jugglers had fallen did not prevent the kings of
France from attaching buffoons, or fools, as they were generally called,
to their households, who were often more or less deformed dwarfs, and who,
to all intents and purposes, were jugglers. They were allowed to indulge
in every sort of impertinence and waggery in order to excite the
risibility of their masters (Figs. 174 and 175). These buffoons or fools
were an institution at court until the time of Louis XIV., and several,
such as Caillette, Triboulet, and Brusquet, are better known in history
than many of the statesmen and soldiers who were their contemporaries.

[Illustration: Fig. 174.--Dance of Fools.--Fac-simile of a Miniature in
Manuscript of the Thirteenth Century in the Bodleian Library of Oxford.]

At the end of the fourteenth century the brotherhood of jugglers divided
itself into two distinct classes, the jugglers proper and the tumblers.
The former continued to recite serious or amusing poetry, to sing
love-songs, to play comic interludes, either singly or in concert, in the
streets or in the houses, accompanying themselves or being accompanied by
all sorts of musical instruments. The tumblers, on the other hand, devoted
themselves exclusively to feats of agility or of skill, the exhibition of
trained animals, the making of comic grimaces, and tight-rope dancing.

[Illustration: A Court-Fool, of the 15th Century.

Fac-simile of a miniature from a ms. in the Bibl. de l'Arsenal, Th. lat.,
no 125.]

The art of rope dancing is very ancient; it was patronised by the
Franks, who looked upon it as a marvellous effort of human genius. The
most remarkable rope-dancers of that time were of Indian origin. All
performers in this art came originally from the East, although they
afterwards trained pupils in the countries through which they passed,
recruiting themselves chiefly from the mixed tribe of jugglers. According
to a document quoted by the learned Foncemagne, rope-dancers appeared as
early as 1327 at the entertainments given at state banquets by the kings
of France. But long before that time they are mentioned in the poems of
troubadours as the necessary auxiliaries of any feast given by the
nobility, or even by the monasteries. From the fourteenth to the end of
the sixteenth century they were never absent from any public ceremonial,
and it was at the state entries of kings and queens, princes and
princesses, that they were especially called upon to display their

[Illustration: Fig. 175.--Court Fool.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in the
"Cosmographie Universelle" of Munster: folio (Basle, 1552).]

One of the most extraordinary examples of the daring of these tumblers is
to be found in the records of the entry of Queen Isabel of Bavaria into
Paris, in 1385 (see chapter on Ceremonials); and, indeed, all the
chronicles of the fifteenth century are full of anecdotes of their doings.
Mathieu de Coucy, who wrote a history of the time of Charles VII., relates
some very curious details respecting a show which took place at Milan, and
which astonished the whole of Europe:--"The Duke of Milan ordered a rope
to be stretched across his palace, about one hundred and fifty feet from
the ground, and of equal length. On to this a Portuguese mounted, walked
straight along, going backwards and forwards, and dancing to the sound of
the tambourine. He also hung from the rope with his head downwards, and
went through all sorts of tricks. The ladies who were looking on could not
help hiding their eyes in their handkerchiefs, from fear lest they should
see him overbalance and fall and kill himself." The chronicler of Charles
XII., Jean d'Arton, tells us of a not less remarkable feat, performed on
the occasion of the obsequies of Duke Pierre de Bourbon, which were
celebrated at Moulins, in the month of October, 1503, in the presence of
the king and the court. "Amongst other performances was that of a German
tight-rope dancer, named Georges Menustre, a very young man, who had a
thick rope stretched across from the highest part of the tower of the
Castle of Macon to the windows of the steeple of the Church of the
Jacobites. The height of this from the ground was twenty-five fathoms, and
the distance from the castle to the steeple some two hundred and fifty
paces. On two evenings in succession he walked along this rope, and on the
second occasion when he started from the tower of the castle his feat was
witnessed by the king and upwards of thirty thousand persons. He performed
all sorts of graceful tricks, such as dancing grotesque dances to music
and hanging to the rope by his feet and by his teeth. Although so strange
and marvellous, these feats were nevertheless actually performed, unless
human sight had been deceived by magic. A female dancer also performed in
a novel way, cutting capers, throwing somersaults, and performing graceful
Moorish and other remarkable and peculiar dances." Such was their manner
of celebrating a funeral.

In the sixteenth century these dancers and tumblers became so numerous
that they were to be met with everywhere, in the provinces as well as in
the towns. Many of them were Bohemians or Zingari. They travelled in
companies, sometimes on foot, sometimes on horseback, and sometimes with
some sort of a conveyance containing the accessories of their craft and a
travelling theatre. But people began to tire of these sorts of
entertainments, the more so as they were required to pay for them, and
they naturally preferred the public rejoicings, which cost them nothing.
They were particularly fond of illuminations and fireworks, which are of
much later origin than the invention of gunpowder; although the Saracens,
at the time of the Crusades, used a Greek fire for illuminations, which
considerably alarmed the Crusaders when they first witnessed its effects.
Regular fireworks appear to have been invented in Italy, where the
pyrotechnic art has retained its superiority to this day, and where the
inhabitants are as enthusiastic as ever for this sort of amusement, and
consider it, in fact, inseparable from every religious, private, or public
festival. This Italian invention was first introduced into the Low
Countries by the Spaniards, where it found many admirers, and it made its
appearance in France with the Italian artists who established themselves
in that country in the reigns of Charles VIII., Louis XII., and Francis I.
Fireworks could not fail to be attractive at the Court of the Valois, to
which Catherine de Medicis had introduced the manners and customs of
Italy. The French, who up to that time had only been accustomed to the
illuminations of St. John's Day and of the first Sunday in Lent, received
those fireworks with great enthusiasm, and they soon became a regular part
of the programme for public festivals (Fig. 176).

[Illustration: Fig. 176.--Fireworks on the Water, with an Imitation of a
Naval Combat.--Fac-simile of an Engraving on Copper of the "Pyrotechnie"
of Hanzelet le Lorrain: 4to (Pont-a-Mousson, 1630).]

We have hitherto only described the sports engaged in for the amusement of
the spectators; we have still to describe those in which the actors took
greater pleasure than even the spectators themselves. These were specially
the games of strength and skill as well as dancing, with a notice of which
we shall conclude this chapter. There were, besides, the various games of
chance and the games of fun and humour. Most of the bourgeois and the
villagers played a variety of games of agility, many of which have
descended to our times, and are still to be found at our schools and
colleges. Wrestling, running races, the game of bars, high and wide
jumping, leap-frog, blind-man's buff, games of ball of all sorts,
gymnastics, and all exercises which strengthened the body or added to the
suppleness of the limbs, were long in use among the youth of the nobility
(Figs. 177 and 178). The Lord of Fleuranges, in his memoirs written at the
court of Francis I., recounts numerous exercises to which he devoted
himself during his childhood and youth, and which were then looked upon as
a necessary part of the education of chivalry. The nobles in this way
acquired a taste for physical exercises, and took naturally to combats,
tournaments, and hunting, and subsequently their services in the
battle-field gave them plenty of opportunities to gratify the taste thus
developed in them. These were not, however, sufficient for their
insatiable activity; when they could not do anything else, they played at
tennis and such games at all hours of the day; and these pastimes had so
much attraction for nobles of all ages that they not unfrequently
sacrificed their health in consequence of overtaxing their strength. In
1506 the King of Castile, Philippe le Beau, died of pleurisy, from a
severe cold which he caught while playing tennis.

[Illustration: Fig. 177.--Somersaults.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in
"Exercises in Leaping and Vaulting," by A. Tuccaro: 4to (Paris, 1599).]

Tennis also became the favourite game amongst the bourgeois in the towns,
and tennis-courts were built in all parts, of such spacious proportions
and so well adapted for spectators, that they were often converted into
theatres. Their game of billiards resembled the modern one only in name,
for it was played on a level piece of ground with wooden balls which were
struck with hooked sticks and mallets. It was in great repute in the
fourteenth century, for in 1396 Marshal de Boucicault, who was considered
one of the best players of his time, won at it six hundred francs (or more
than twenty-eight thousand francs of present currency). At the beginning
of the following century the Duke Louis d'Orleans ordered _billes et
billars_ to be bought for the sum of eleven sols six deniers tournois
(about fifteen francs of our money), that he might amuse himself with
them. There were several games of the same sort, which were not less
popular. Skittles; _la Soule_ or _Soulette_, which consisted of a large
ball of hay covered over with leather, the possession of which was
contested for by two opposing sides of players; Football; open Tennis;
Shuttlecock, &c. It was Charles V. who first thought of giving a more
serious and useful character to the games of the people, and who, in a
celebrated edict forbidding games of chance, encouraged the establishment
of companies of archers and bowmen. These companies, to which was
subsequently added that of the arquebusiers, outlived political
revolutions, and are still extant, especially in the northern provinces of

[Illustration: Fig. 178.--The Spring-board.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in
"Exercises in Leaping and Vaulting," by A. Tuccaro: 4to (Paris, 1599).]

At all times and in all countries the games of chance were the most
popular, although they were forbidden both by ecclesiastical and royal
authority. New laws were continually being enacted against them, and
especially against those in which dice were used, though with little
avail. "Dice shall not be made in the kingdom," says the law of 1256; and
"those who are discovered using them, and frequenting taverns and bad
places, will be looked upon as suspicions characters." A law of 1291
repeats, "That games with dice be forbidden." Nevertheless, though these
prohibitions were frequently renewed, people continued to disregard them
and to lose much money at such games. The law of 1396 is aimed
particularly against loaded dice, which must have been contemporary with
the origin of dice themselves, for no games ever gave rise to a greater
amount of roguery than those of this description. They were, however,
publicly sold in spite of all the laws to the contrary; for, in the "Dit
du Mercier," the dealer offers his merchandise thus:--

"J'ay dez de plus, j'ay dez de moins,
De Paris, de Chartres, de Rains."

("I have heavy dice, I have light dice,
From Paris, from Chartres, and from Rains.")

It has been said that the game of dice was at first called the _game of
God_, because the regulation of lottery was one of God's prerogatives; but
this derivation is purely imaginary. What appears more likely is, that
dice were first forbidden by the Church, and then by the civil
authorities, on account of the fearful oaths which were so apt to be
uttered by those players who had a run of ill luck. Nothing was commoner
than for people to ruin themselves at this game. The poems of troubadours
are full of imprecations against the fatal chance of dice; many
troubadours, such as Guillaume Magret and Gaucelm Faydit, lost their
fortunes at it, and their lives in consequence. Rutebeuf exclaims, in one
of his satires, "Dice rob me of all my clothes, dice kill me, dice watch
me, dice track me, dice attack me, and dice defy me." The blasphemies of
the gamblers did not always remain unpunished. "Philip Augustus," says
Bigord, in his Latin history of this king, "carried his aversion for oaths
to such an extent, that if any one, whether knight or of any other rank,
let one slip from his lips in the presence of the sovereign, even by
mistake, he was ordered to be immediately thrown into the river." Louis
XII., who was somewhat less severe, contented himself with having a hole
bored with a hot iron through the blasphemer's tongue.

[Illustration: Figs. 179 and 180.--French Cards for a Game of Piquet,
early Sixteenth Century.--Collection of the National Library of Paris.]

The work "On the Manner of playing with Dice," has handed down to us the
technical terms used in these games, which varied as much in practice as
in name. They sometimes played with three dice, sometimes with six;
different games were also in fashion, and in some the cast of the dice
alone decided. The games of cards were also most numerous, but it is not
our intention to give the origin of them here. It is sufficient to name a
few of the most popular ones in France, which were, Flux, Prime, Sequence,
Triomphe, Piquet, Trente-et-un, Passe-dix, Condemnade, Lansquenet,
Marriage, Gay, or J'ai, Malcontent, Here, &c. (Figs. 179 and 180). All
these games, which were as much forbidden as dice, were played in taverns
as well as at court; and, just as there were loaded dice, so were there
also false cards, prepared by rogues for cheating. The greater number of
the games of cards formerly did not require the least skill on the part of
the players, chance alone deciding. The game of _Tables_, however,
required skill and calculation, for under this head were comprised all the
games which were played on a board, and particularly chess, draughts, and
backgammon. The invention of the game of chess has been attributed to the
Assyrians, and there can be no doubt but that it came from the East, and
reached Gaul about the beginning of the ninth century, although it was not
extensively known till about the twelfth. The annals of chivalry
continually speak of the barons playing at these games, and especially at
chess. Historians also mention chess, and show that it was played with
the same zest in the camp of the Saracens as in that of the Crusaders. We
must not be surprised if chess shared the prohibition laid upon dice, for
those who were ignorant of its ingenious combinations ranked it amongst
games of chance. The Council of Paris, in 1212, therefore condemned chess
for the same reasons as dice, and it was specially forbidden to church
people, who had begun to make it their habitual pastime. The royal edict
of 1254 was equally unjust with regard to this game. "We strictly forbid,"
says Louis IX., "any person to play at dice, tables, or chess." This pious
king set himself against these games, which he looked upon as inventions
of the devil. After the fatal day of Mansorah, in 1249, the King, who was
still in Egypt with the remnants of his army, asked what his brother, the
Comte d'Anjou, was doing. "He was told," says Joinville, "that he was
playing at tables with his Royal Highness Gaultier de Nemours. The King
was highly incensed against his brother, and, though most feeble from the
effects of his illness, went to him, and taking the dice and the tables,
had them thrown into the sea." Nevertheless Louis IX. received as a
present from the _Vieux de la Montagne_, chief of the Ismalians, a
chessboard made of gold and rock crystal, the pieces being of precious
metals beautifully worked. It has been asserted, but incorrectly, that
this chessboard was the one preserved in the Musee de Cluny, after having
long formed part of the treasures of the Kings of France.

Amongst the games comprised under the name of _tables_, it is sufficient
to mention that of draughts, which was formerly played with dice and with
the same men as were used for chess; also the game of _honchet_, or
_jonchees_, that is, bones or spillikins, games which required pieces or
men in the same way as chess, but which required more quickness of hand
than of intelligence; and _epingles_, or push-pin, which was played in a
similar manner to the _honchets_, and was the great amusement of the small
pages in the houses of the nobility. When they had not epingles, honchets,
or draughtsmen to play with, they used their fingers instead, and played a
game which is still most popular amongst the Italian people, called the
_morra_, and which was as much in vogue with the ancient Romans as it is
among the modern Italians. It consisted of suddenly raising as many
fingers as had been shown by one's adversary, and gave rise to a great
amount of amusement among the players and lookers-on. The games played by
girls were, of course, different from those in use among boys. The latter
played at marbles, _luettes_, peg or humming tops, quoits, _fouquet,
merelles_, and a number of other games, many of which are now unknown. The
girls, it is almost needless to say, from the earliest times played with
dolls. _Briche_, a game in which a brick and a small stick was used, were
also a favourite. _Martiaus_, or small quoits, wolf or fox, blind man's
buff, hide and seek, quoits, &c., were all girls' games. The greater part
of these amusements were enlivened by a chorus, which all the girls sang
together, or by dialogues sung or chanted in unison.

[Illustration: Fig. 181.--Allegorical Scene of one of the Courts of Love
in Provence--In the First Compartment, the God of Love, Cupid, is sitting
on the Stump of a Laurel-tree, wounding with his Darts those who do him
homage, the Second Compartment represents the Love Vows of Men and
Women.--From the Cover of a Looking-glass, carved in Ivory, of the end of
the Thirteenth Century.]

[Illustration: The Chess-Players.

After a miniature of "_The Three Ages of Man_", a ms. of the fifteenth
century attributed to Estienne Porchier. (Bibl. of M. Ambroise

The scene is laid in one of the saloons of the castle of
Plessis-les-Tours, the residence of Louis XI; in the player to the right,
the features of the king are recognisable.]

If children had their games, which for many generations continued
comparatively unchanged, so the dames and the young ladies had theirs,
consisting of gallantry and politeness, which only disappeared with those
harmless assemblies in which the two sexes vied with each other in
urbanity, friendly roguishness, and wit. It would require long antiquarian
researches to discover the origin and mode of playing many of these
pastimes, such as _des oes, des trois anes, des accords bigarres, du
jardin madame, de la fricade, du feiseau, de la mick_, and a number of
others which are named but not described in the records of the times. The
game _a l'oreille,_ the invention of which is attributed to the troubadour
Guillaume Adhemar, the _jeu des Valentines,_ or the game of lovers, and
the numerous games of forfeits, which have come down to us from the Courts
of Love of the Middle Ages, we find to be somewhat deprived of their
original simplicity in the way they are now played in country-houses in
the winter and at village festivals in the summer. But the Courts of Love
are no longer in existence gravely to superintend all these diversions
(Fig. 181).

Amongst the amusements which time has not obliterated, but which, on the
contrary, seem destined to be of longer duration than monuments of stone
and brass, we must name dancing, which was certainly one of the principal
amusements of society, and which has come down to us through all
religions, all customs, all people, and all ages, preserving at the same
time much of its original character. Dancing appears, at each period of
the world's history, to have been alternately religions and profane,
lively and solemn, frivolous and severe. Though dancing was as common an
amusement formerly as it is now, there was this essential difference
between the two periods, namely, that certain people, such as the Romans,
were very fond of seeing dancing, but did not join in it themselves.
Tiberius drove the dancers out of Rome, and Domitian dismissed certain
senators from their seats in the senate who had degraded themselves by
dancing; and there seems to be no doubt that the Romans, from the conquest
of Julius Caesar, did not themselves patronise the art. There were a
number of professional dancers in Gaul, as well as in the other provinces
of the Roman Empire, who were hired to dance at feasts, and who
endeavoured to do their best to make their art as popular as possible. The
lightheartedness of the Gauls, their natural gaiety, their love for
violent exercise and for pleasures of all sorts, made them delight in
dancing, and indulge in it with great energy; and thus, notwithstanding
the repugnance of the Roman aristocracy and the prohibitions and anathemas
of councils and synods, dancing has always been one of the favourite
pastimes of the Gauls and the French.

[Illustration: Fig. 182.--Dancers on Christmas Night punished for their
Impiety, and condemned to dance for a whole Year (Legend of the Fifteenth
Century).--Fac-simile of a Woodcut by P. Wohlgemuth, in the "Liber
Chronicorum Mundi:" folio (Nuremberg, 1493).]

Leuce Carin, a writer of doubtful authority, states that in the early
history of Christianity the faithful danced, or rather stamped, in
measured time during religions ceremonials, gesticulating and distorting
themselves. This is, however, a mistake. The only thing approaching to it
was the slight trace of the ancient Pagan dances which remained in the
feast of the first Sunday in Lent, and which probably belonged to the
religious ceremonies of the Druids. At nightfall fires were lighted in
public places, and numbers of people danced madly round them. Rioting and
disorderly conduct often resulted from this popular feast, and the
magistrates were obliged to interfere in order to suppress it. The church,
too, did not close her eyes to the abuses which this feast engendered,
although episcopal admonitions were not always listened to (Fig. 182). We
see, in the records of one of the most recent Councils of Narbonne, that
the custom of dancing in the churches and in the cemeteries on certain
feasts had not been abolished in some parts of the Languedoc at the end of
the sixteenth century.

Dancing was at all times forbidden by the Catholic Church on account of
its tendency to corrupt the morals, and for centuries ecclesiastical
authority was strenuously opposed to it; but, on the other hand, it could
not complain of want of encouragement from the civil power. When King
Childebert, in 554, forbade all dances in his domains, he was only induced
to do so by the influence of the bishops. We have but little information
respecting the dances of this period, and it would be impossible
accurately to determine as to the justice of their being forbidden. They
were certainly no longer those war-dances which the Franks had brought
with them, and which antiquarians have mentioned under the name of
_Pyrrhichienne_ dances. In any case, war-dances reappeared at the
commencement of chivalry; for, when a new knight was elected, all the
knights in full armour performed evolutions, either on foot or on
horseback, to the sound of military music, and the populace danced round
them. It has been said that this was the origin of court ballets, and La
Colombiere, in his "Theatre d'Honneur et de Chevalerie," relates that this
ancient dance of the knights was kept up by the Spaniards, who called it
the _Moresque_.

The Middle Ages was the great epoch for dancing, especially in France.
There were an endless number of dancing festivals, and, from reading the
old poets and romancers, one might imagine that the French had never
anything better to do than to dance, and that at all hours of the day and
night. A curious argument in favour of the practical utility of dancing is
suggested by Jean Tabourot in his "Orchesographie," published at Langres
in 1588, under the name of Thoinot Arbeau. He says, "Dancing is practised
in order to see whether lovers are healthy and suitable for one another:
at the end of a dance the gentlemen are permitted to kiss their
mistresses, in order that they may ascertain if they have an agreeable
breath. In this matter, besides many other good results which follow from
dancing, it becomes necessary for the good governing of society." Such was
the doctrine of the Courts of Love, which stoutly took up the defence of
dancing against the clergy. In those days, as soon as the two sexes were
assembled in sufficient numbers, before or after the feasts, the balls
began, and men and women took each other by the hand and commenced the
performance in regular steps (Fig. 183). The author of the poem of
Provence, called "Flamenca," thus allegorically describes these
amusements: "Youth and Gaiety opened the ball, accompanied by their sister
Bravery; Cowardice, confused, went of her own accord and hid herself." The
troubadours mention a great number of dances, without describing them; no
doubt they were so familiar that they thought a description of them
needless. They often speak of the _danse au virlet_, a kind of round
dance, during the performance of which each person in turn sang a verse,
the chorus being repeated by all. In the code of the Courts of Love,
entitled "Arresta Amorum," that is, the decrees of love, the _pas de
Brabant_ is mentioned, in which each gentleman bent his knee before his
lady; and also the _danse au chapelet_, at the end of which each dancer
kissed his lady. Romances of chivalry frequently mention that knights used
to dance with the dames and young ladies without taking off their helmets
and coats of mail. Although this costume was hardly fitted for the
purpose, we find, in the romance of "Perceforet," that, after a repast,
whilst the tables were being removed, everything was prepared for a ball,
and that although the knights made no change in their accoutrements, yet
the ladies went and made fresh toilettes. "Then," says the old novelist,
"the young knights and the young ladies began to play their instruments
and to have the dance." From this custom may be traced the origin of the
ancient Gallic proverb, "_Apres la panse vient la danse_" ("After the
feast comes the dance"). Sometimes a minstrel sang songs to the
accompaniment of the harp, and the young ladies danced in couples and
repeated at intervals the minstrel's songs. Sometimes the torch-dance was
performed; in this each performer bore in his hand a long lighted taper,
and endeavoured to prevent his neighbours from blowing it out, which each
one tried to do if possible (Fig. 184). This dance, which was in use up to
the end of the sixteenth century at court, was generally reserved for

[Illustration: Fig. 183.--Peasant Dances at the May Feasts.--Fac-simile
of a Miniature in a Prayer-book of the Fifteenth Century, in the National
Library of Paris.]

[Illustration: Fig. 184.--Dance by Torchlight, a Scene at the Court of
Burgundy.--From a Painting on Wood of 1463, belonging to M. H. Casterman,
of Tournai (Belgium).]

Dancing lost much of its simplicity and harmlessness when masquerades were
introduced, these being the first examples of the ballet. These
masquerades, which soon after their introduction became passionately
indulged in at court under Charles VI., were, at first, only allowed
during Carnival, and on particular occasions called _Charivaris_, and they
were usually made the pretext for the practice of the most licentious
follies. These masquerades had a most unfortunate inauguration by the
catastrophe which rendered the madness of Charles VI. incurable, and which
is described in history under the name of the _Burning Ballet_. It was on
the 29th of January, 1393, that this ballet made famous the festival held
in the Royal Palace of St. Paul in Paris, on the occasion of the marriage
of one of the maids of honour of Queen Isabel of Bavaria with a gentleman
of Vermandois. The bride was a widow, and the second nuptials were deemed
a fitting occasion for the Charivaris.

[Illustration: Fig. 185.--The Burning Ballet.--Fac-simile of a Miniature
in the Manuscript of the "Chroniques" of Froissart (Fifteenth Century), in
the National Library of Paris.]

A gentleman from Normandy, named Hugonin de Grensay, thought he could
create a sensation by having a dance of wild men to please the ladies. "He
admitted to his plot," says Froissart, "the king and four of the principal
nobles of the court. These all had themselves sewn up in close-fitting
linen garments covered with resin on which a quantity of tow was glued,
and in this guise they appeared in the middle of the ball. The king was
alone, but the other four were chained together. They jumped about like
madmen, uttered wild cries, and made all sorts of eccentric gestures. No
one knew who these hideous objects were, but the Duke of Orleans
determined to find out, so he took a candle and imprudently approached too
near one of the men. The tow caught fire, and the flames enveloped him
and the other three who were chained to him in a moment." "They were
burning for nearly an hour like torches," says a chronicler. "The king had
the good fortune to escape the peril, because the Duchesse de Berry, his
aunt, recognised him, and had the presence of mind to envelop him in her
train" (Fig. 185). Such a calamity, one would have thought, might have
been sufficient to disgust people with masquerades, but they were none the
less in favour at court for many years afterwards; and, two centuries
later, the author of the "Orchesographie" thus writes on the subject:
"Kings and princes give dances and masquerades for amusement and in order
to afford a joyful welcome to foreign nobles; we also practise the same
amusements on the celebration of marriages." In no country in the world
was dancing practised with more grace and elegance than in France. Foreign
dances of every kind were introduced, and, after being remodelled and
brought to as great perfection as possible, they were often returned to
the countries from which they had been imported under almost a new

[Illustration: Fig. 186.--Musicians accompanying the Dancing.--Fac-simile
of a Wood Engraving in the "Orchesographie" of Thoinot Arbeau (Jehan
Tabourot): 4to (Langres, 1588).]

In 1548, the dances of the Bearnais, which were much admired at the court
of the Comtes de Foix, especially those called the _danse mauresque_ and
the _danse des sauvages_, were introduced at the court of France, and
excited great merriment. So popular did they become, that with a little
modification they soon were considered essentially French. The German
dances, which were distinguished by the rapidity of their movements, were
also thoroughly established at the court of France. Italian, Milanese,
Spanish, and Piedmontese dances were in fashion in France before the
expedition of Charles VIII. into Italy: and when this king, followed by
his youthful nobility, passed over the mountains to march to the conquest
of Naples, he found everywhere in the towns that welcomed him, and in
which balls and masquerades were given in honour of his visit, the dance
_a la mode de France_, which consisted of a sort of medley of the dances
of all countries. Some hundreds of these dances have been enumerated in
the fifth book of the "Pantagruel" of Rabelais, and in various humorous
works of those who succeeded him. They owed their success to the singing
with which they were generally accompanied, or to the postures,
pantomimes, or drolleries with which they were supplemented for the
amusement of the spectators. A few, and amongst others that of the _five
steps_ and that of the _three faces_, are mentioned in the "History of the
Queen of Navarre."

[Illustration: Fig. 187.--The Dance called "La Gaillarde."--Fac-simile of
Wood Engravings from the "Orchesographie" of Thoinot Arbeau (Jehan
Tabourot): 4to (Langres, 1588).]

Dances were divided into two distinct classes--_danses basses_, or common
and regular dances, which did not admit of jumping, violent movements, or
extraordinary contortions--and the _danses par haut_, which were
irregular, and comprised all sorts of antics and buffoonery. The regular
French dance was a _basse_ dance, called the _gaillarde_; it was
accompanied by the sound of the hautbois and tambourine, and originally it
was danced with great form and state. This is the dance which Jean
Tabouret has described; it began with the two performers standing opposite
to each other, advancing, bowing, and retiring. "These advancings and
retirings were done in steps to the time of the music, and continued until
the instrumental accompaniment stopped; then the gentleman made his bow
to the lady, took her by the hand, thanked her, and led her to her seat."
The _tourdion_ was similar to the _gaillarde_, only faster, and was
accompanied with more action. Each province of France had its national
dance, such as the _bourree_ of Auvergne, the _trioris_ of Brittany, the
_branles_ of Poitou, and the _valses_ of Lorraine, which constituted a
very agreeable pastime, and one in which the French excelled all other
nations. This art, "so ancient, so honourable, and so profitable," to use
the words of Jean Tabourot, was long in esteem in the highest social
circles, and the old men liked to display their agility, and the dames and
young ladies to find a temperate exercise calculated to contribute to
their health as well as to their amusement.

The sixteenth century was the great era of dancing in all the courts of
Europe; but under the Valois, the art had more charm and prestige at the
court of France than anywhere else. The Queen-mother, Catherine,
surrounded by a crowd of pretty young ladies, who composed what she called
her _flying squadron_, presided at these exciting dances. A certain
Balthazar de Beaujoyeux was master of her ballets, and they danced at the
Castle of Blois the night before the Duc de Guise was assassinated under
the eyes of Henry III., just as they had danced at the Chateau of the
Tuileries the day after St. Bartholomew's Day.

[Illustration: Fig. 188.--The Game of Bob Apple, or Swinging
Apple.--Manuscript of the Fourteenth Century, in the British Museum.]


State of Commerce after the Fall of the Roman. Empire.--Its Revival
under the Frankish Kings.--Its Prosperity under Charlemagne.--Its
Decline down to the Time of the Crusaders.--The Levant Trade of the
East.--Flourishing State of the Towns of Provence and
Languedoc.--Establishment of Fairs.--Fairs of Landit, Champagne,
Beaucaire, and Lyons.--Weights and Measures.--Commercial Flanders. Laws
of Maritime Commerce.--Consular Laws.--Banks and Bills of
Exchange.--French. Settlements on the Coast of Africa.--Consequences of
the Discovery of America.

"Commerce in the Middle Ages," says M. Charles Grandmaison, "differed but
little from that of a more remote period. It was essentially a local and
limited traffic, rather inland than maritime, for long and perilous sea
voyages only commenced towards the end of the fifteenth century, or about
the time when Columbus discovered America."

On the fall of the Roman Empire, commerce was rendered insecure, and,
indeed, it was almost completely put a stop to by the barbarian invasions,
and all facility of communication between different nations, and even
between towns of the same country, was interrupted. In those times of
social confusion, there were periods of such poverty and distress, that
for want of money commerce was reduced to the simple exchange of the
positive necessaries of life. When order was a little restored, and
society and the minds of people became more composed, we see commerce
recovering its position; and France was, perhaps, the first country in
Europe in which this happy change took place. Those famous cities of Gaul,
which ancient authors describe to us as so rich and so industrious,
quickly recovered their former prosperity, and the friendly relations
which were established between the kings of the Franks and the Eastern
Empire encouraged the Gallic cities in cultivating a commerce, which was
at that time the most important and most extensive in the world.

Marseilles, the ancient Phoenician colony, once the rival and then the
successor to Carthage, was undoubtedly at the head of the commercial
cities of France. Next to her came Arles, which supplied ship-builders and
seamen to the fleet of Provence; and Narbonne, which admitted into its
harbour ships from Spain, Sicily, and Africa, until, in consequence of the
Aude having changed its course, it was obliged to relinquish the greater
part of its maritime commerce in favour of Montpellier.

[Illustration: Fig. 189.--View of Alexandria in Egypt, in the Sixteenth
Century.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in the Travels of P. Belon,
"Observations de Plusieurs Singularitez," &c.: 4to (Paris, 1588).]

Commerce maintained frequent communications with the East; it sought its
supplies on the coast of Syria, and especially at Alexandria, in Egypt,
which was a kind of depot for goods obtained from the rich countries lying
beyond the Red Sea (Figs. 189 and 190). The Frank navigators imported from
these countries, groceries, linen, Egyptian paper, pearls, perfumes, and a
thousand other rare and choice articles. In exchange they offered chiefly
the precious metals in bars rather than coined, and it is probable that at
this period they also exported iron, wines, oil, and wax. The agricultural
produce and manufactures of Gaul had not sufficiently developed to
provide anything more than what was required for the producers themselves.
Industry was as yet, if not purely domestic, confined to monasteries and
to the houses of the nobility; and even the kings employed women or serf
workmen to manufacture the coarse stuffs with which they clothed
themselves and their households. We may add, that the bad state of the
roads, the little security they offered to travellers, the extortions of
all kinds to which foreign merchants were subjected, and above all the
iniquitous System of fines and tolls which each landowner thought right to
exact, before letting merchandise pass through his domains, all created
insuperable obstacles to the development of commerce.

[Illustration: Fig. 190.--Transport of Merchandise on the Backs of
Camels.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in the "Cosmographie Universelle," of
Thevet: folio, 1575.]

The Frank kings on several occasions evinced a desire that communications
favourable to trade should be re-established in their dominions. We find,
for instance, Chilperic making treaties with Eastern emperors in favour
of the merchants of Agde and Marseilles, Queen Brunehaut making viaducts
worthy of the Romans, and which still bear her name, and Dagobert opening
at St. Denis free fairs--that is to say, free, or nearly so, from all
tolls and taxes--to which goods, both agricultural and manufactured, were
sent from every corner of Europe and the known world, to be afterwards
distributed through the towns and provinces by the enterprise of internal

After the reign of Dagobert, commerce again declined without positively
ceasing, for the revolution, which transferred the power of the kings to
the mayors of the palace was not of a nature to exhaust the resources of
public prosperity; and a charter of 710 proves that the merchants of
Saxony, England, Normandy, and even Hungary, still flocked to the fairs of
St. Denis.

Under the powerful and administrative hand of Charlemagne, the roads being
better kept up, and the rivers being made more navigable, commerce became
safe and more general; the coasts were protected from piratical
incursions; lighthouses were erected at dangerous points, to prevent
shipwrecks; and treaties of commerce with foreign nations, including even
the most distant, guaranteed the liberty and security of French traders

Under the weak successors of this monarch, notwithstanding their many
efforts, commerce was again subjected to all sorts of injustice and
extortions, and all its safeguards were rapidly destroyed. The Moors in
the south, and the Normans in the north, appeared to desire to destroy
everything which came in their way, and already Marseilles, in 838, was
taken and pillaged by the Greeks. The constant altercations between the
sons of Louis le Debonnaire and their unfortunate father, their jealousies
amongst themselves, and their fratricidal wars, increased the measure of
public calamity, so that soon, overrun by foreign enemies and destroyed by
her own sons, France became a vast field of disorder and desolation.

The Church, which alone possessed some social influence, never ceased to
use its authority in endeavouring to remedy this miserable state of
things; but episcopal edicts, papal anathemas, and decrees of councils,
had only a partial effect at this unhappy period. At any moment
agricultural and commercial operations were liable to be interrupted, if
not completely ruined, by the violence of a wild and rapacious soldiery;
at every step the roads, often impassable, were intercepted by toll-bars
for some due of a vexatious nature, besides being continually infested by
bands of brigands, who carried off the merchandise and murdered those few
merchants who were so bold as to attempt to continue their business. It
was the Church, occupied as she was with the interests of civilisation,
who again assisted commerce to emerge from the state of annihilation into
which it had fallen; and the "Peace or Truce of God," established in 1041,
endeavoured to stop at least the internal wars of feudalism, and it
succeeded, at any rate for a time, in arresting these disorders. This was
all that could be done at that period, and the Church accomplished it, by
taking the high hand; and with as much unselfishness as energy and
courage, she regulated society, which had been abandoned by the civil
power from sheer impotence and want of administrative capability.

[Illustration: Fig. 191.--Trade on the Seaports of the Levant.--After a
Miniature in a Manuscript of the Travels of Marco Polo (Fifteenth
Century), Library of the Arsenal of Paris.]

At all events, thanks to ecclesiastical foresight, which increased the
number of fairs and markets at the gates of abbeys and convents, the first
step was made towards the general resuscitation of commerce. Indeed, the
Church may be said to have largely contributed to develop the spirit of
progress and liberty, whence were to spring societies and nationalities,
and, in a word, modern organization.

The Eastern commerce furnished the first elements of that trading activity
which showed itself on the borders of the Mediterranean, and we find the
ancient towns of Provence and Languedoc springing up again by the aide of
the republics of Amalfi, Venice, Genoa, and Pisa, which had become the
rich depots of all maritime trade.

At first, as we have already stated, the wares of India came to Europe
through the Greek port of Alexandria, or through Constantinople. The
Crusades, which had facilitated the relations with Eastern countries,
developed a taste in the West for their indigenous productions, gave a
fresh vigour to this foreign commerce, and rendered it more productive by
removing the stumbling blocks which had arrested its progress (Fig. 191).

The conquest of Palestine by the Crusaders had first opened all the towns
and harbours of this wealthy region to Western traders, and many of them
were able permanently to establish themselves there, with all sorts of
privileges and exemptions from taxes, which were gladly offered to them by
the nobles who had transferred feudal power to Mussulman territories.

Ocean commerce assumed from this moment proportions hitherto unknown.
Notwithstanding the papal bulls and decrees, which forbade Christians from
having any connection with infidels, the voice of interest was more
listened to than that of the Church (Fig. 192), and traders did not fear
to disobey the political and religions orders which forbade them to carry
arms and slaves to the enemies of the faith.

It was easy to foretell, from the very first, that the military occupation
of the Holy Land would not be permanent. In consequence of this,
therefore, the nearer the loss of this fine conquest seemed to be, the
greater were the efforts made by the maritime towns of the West to
re-establish, on a more solid and lasting basis, a commercial alliance
with Egypt, the country which they selected to replace Palestine, in a
mercantile point of view. Marseilles was the greatest supporter of this
intercourse with Egypt; and in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries she
reached a very high position, which she owed to her shipowners and
traders. In the fourteenth century, however, the princes of the house of
Anjou ruined her like the rest of Provence, in the great and fruitless
efforts which they made to recover the kingdom of Naples; and it was not
until the reign of Louis XI. that the old Phoenician city recovered its
maritime and commercial prosperity (Fig. 193).

[Illustration: Fig. 192.--Merchant Vessel in a Storm.--Fac-simile of a
Woodcut in the "Grand Kalendrier et Compost des Bergers," in folio:
printed at Troyes, about 1490, by Nicolas de Rouge.[*]

[Footnote *: "Mortal man, living in the world, is compared to a vessel
on perilous seas, bearing rich merchandise, by which, if it can come to
harbour, the merchant will be rendered rich and happy. The ship from the
commencement to the end of its voyage is in great peril of being lost or
taken by an enemy, for the seas are always beset with perils. So is the
body of man during its sojourn in the world. The merchandise he bears is
his soul, his virtues, and his good deeds. The harbour is paradise, and
he who reaches that haven is made supremely rich. The sea is the world,
full of vices and sins, and in which all, during their passage through
life, are in peril and danger of losing body and soul and of being
drowned in the infernal sea, from which God in His grace keep us!

[Illustration: Fig. 193.--View and Plan of Marseilles and its Harbour, in
the Sixteenth Century.--From a Copper-plate in the Collection of G. Bruin,
in folio: "Theatre des Citez du Monde."]

Languedoc, depressed, and for a time nearly ruined in the thirteenth
century by the effect of the wars of the Albigenses, was enabled,
subsequently, to recover itself. Beziers, Agde, Narbonne, and especially
Montpellier, so quickly established important trading connections with all
the ports of the Mediterranean, that at the end of the fourteenth century
consuls were appointed at each of these towns, in order to protect and
direct their transmarine commerce. A traveller of the twelfth century,
Benjamin de Tudele, relates that in these ports, which were afterwards
called the stepping stones to the Levant, every language in the world


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