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VERSES ON THE NINE WORTHIES 

Professor Gollancz' edition of the Parlement of the Thre Ages, 
published in 1915, contains an appendix consisting of early texts 
illustrative of the Nine Worthies theme. These texts, written in 
Latin, French, German, and English, show the wide dispersion of 
the theme in literature. My researches have brought to my atten- 
tion a number of others, dating from the fourteenth and fifteenth 
centuries, some of which afford interesting comparisons with those 
published by Gollancz. 



The first is written in a hand of about 1380 in a manuscript of 
the Vulgate about a century older, prepared for, and doubtless used 
in, Sweetheart Abbey in Kirkcudbright. 1 The lines, which present 
a variant of those numbered as XVII and XVIII in Gollancz' appen- 
dix, and show the same Scotch tradition of Robert Bruce as the tenth 
Worthy that we meet in the Ballet of the Nine Nobles, numbered X 
by Gollancz, run as follows : 

Ector, Alexander, Julius, Josue, David, Machabeus, 
Arthurus, Carulus, et postremus Godofrydus — 
Robertus rex Scotorum denus est in numero meliorum. 



II 

The next is a set of stanzas which accompanies mural paintings of 
the Nine Worthies in the castle of La Manta in Piedmont. 2 The 
paintings were executed between 1411 and 1430. The verses are 
interesting, first, as showing a clear dependence upon the very earliest 
authoritative treatment of the Nine Worthies in literature, the 
passage from the Vaeux du Paon of Jacques de Longuyon, which is 
given by Gollancz as VI; and, in the second place, as showing a 
version in Italianized French of the stanzas on the woodblock of 

1 Bernard Quaritch, Catalogue No. 196, p. 299. 

2 P. D'Ancona, "Gli affreschi del castello di Manta," V Arte, 1905, p. 195. 

211] 19 [Modeen Philology, August, 1917 



20 



Roger Sherman Loomis 



1454-57, given by Gollancz as XIV. 1 The text is given by D'Ancona 

as follows ■? 

Ector Je fui de Troie nee et fis du roy Priam, 

E fuy qant Menelas e la gregoise gans 

Vindrer asegier Troie a cumpagne grant; 

La ocige XXX rois et des autres bien CCC : 

Puis moy ocist Achiles ases vilainemant 

Devant que Diu nasquit XI.CXXX ans. 

Alisandre Jay coquis por ma force les illes d'outramer; 

D'Orient jusques a Ocident fuge ja sire apeles. 
Jay tue roy Daire, Porus, Nicole larmires; 3 
La grant Babiloina fige ver moy encliner; 
E fuy sire du monde; puis fui enarbres: 
Ce fut III.C ans devant que Diu fut nee. 

D Rome fuge jadis enperere et roy; 

Jay conquis tote Spagne, France, e Navaroys; 

Ponpe, Amunsorage, e Casahilion li roy; 

La cite dAlisandra amim somis voloyr: 4 

Mort fui devant que Diu nasquit des ans XL trois. 

Des enfans d'Irael fuge fort ames, 
Qant Diu fist pour miracle li solegl arester, 
Le flin Jordam partir a pasaie la roge mer; 
Le Filistins ne purent contra moy endurer: 
Je ocis XXXII roy: puis moy fenir, 
XIIII.C ans devant que Diu fust nee. 

Roy Davit Je trovay son de harpa e de sauterion; 
Si ay tue Gulias, un grant gehant felon; 
En meintes batagles moy tient-on a prodons: 
Apres li roy Saul tien je la region; 
Et fui vray propheta de lancarnacion : 
Mort fui VIII.C ans devant que Diu devenist hons. 

1 There are certain errors in Gollancz' printing of these stanzas, as may be seen by 
comparing it with Pilinski's reproduction of the woodcuts in his Monuments de la Xylo- 
graphie, Les Neuf Preux. Gollancz' errors are as follows: The title Hector de Troye 
should read Troie; and in the first line following, povoir should read pooir. The second 
title should read Alixandre; and in the fourth line below, pris should read os. The fifth 
title should read Le Roy David. In the sixth stanza, 1. 4, le should read se. In the 
seventh, 1. 3, grant should read grand; and in 1. 5 g{uer)re should read gerre (cf. gerrier in 
the next stanza). The eighth title should read Charle le Grand. 

2 D'Ancona has emended the text, but gives the original reading in his notes. 

» In the margin the painter of the legends supplied glosses describing Daire as li 
Persian and Porus as li Endian. 

* D'Ancona suggests that this is a corruption of soumis a mon voloyr. 

212 



Julius 

Cesar 



Josuee 



Verses on the Nine Worthies 



21 



Judas Je viens en Jerusalem, en la grant regiom, 

Makabeus E la loy Moises metre a defensiom; 

Ceous qui adorent les idoles, mecreants e felons, 
.... mige a destrucion; 

Econtra heus men alay a pou de compagnons; 

E mory VC ans devant licarnacion. 

Roy Artus Je fui roy de Bertagne, d'Escosa e d'Anglatere; 
Cinquanta roy conquis qui de moy tiegnen terre; 
Jay tue VII grans Jehans rustons en mi lour terre; 
Sus le munt Saint Michel un autre nalay conquere; 
Vis le Seint Greal; puis moy fist Mordre goere; 
Qui moy ocist V.C ans puis que Diu vint en tere. 

Charlemaine Je fui roy, emperaire, e fuy nee de France; 
Jay aquis tote Espagne e in us la creance; 
Namont e Agolant ocige sans dotance; 
Le Senes descunfis e l'Armireau de Valence. 
En Jerusalem remige la creance, 
E mors fuy V.C. ans apres Diu sans dotance. 

Godefroy Je fuy Dus de Loraine apres mes ancesours, 

de Bouglon E si tien de Bouglon le palais e le tours; 

Au plain de Romania jay conquis les Mersours: 
Li roy Corbaran ocige a force e a stours; 
Jerusalem conquige au retours, 
E mori XIC ans apres Nostre Segnour. 



Ill 

Another version of these stanzas is found on the fragmentary 
woodcuts of the Hotel de Ville at Metz. 1 These according to 
Pilinski date from before 1460, and they show some dialectal forms 
of Lorraine. 

(Joshua) Des enfans disrael fuge forment ameis 

Quant dieus fit par miracle le solail aresteir 
Le fleune iordan p(ar)tir & passay rouge meir 
Les mescreans ne peurent contre moy dureir 
De XXXII royalmes fige les roys tueir 
XIII C . ans deuant que die- fut- ne- 

» Reproduced by Pilinski, Monuments de la Xylogriphie, Lea Neuf Preuz. 

213 



22 Roger Sherman Loomis 

(David) Ie trouuay son de harpe & de psalteriu- 

Et golias tuay le grant gayant fel- 
En pluseurs grans batailes me tint on- 
Et apres le roy saul ie tins la regio- 
Et si propheti . . . lanuntia- 

(Godfrey) -e fus due de lorraine apres mes ancessours 

-t si tins de boullon les palais & les tours 
-n plain de comeine desconfis lamassour 
-e roy cornemarent occis par fort atour 
-herusalem conquis antijoche au retour 
-s fus .XI C . apres nostre se- 



IV 

The next treatment of the Nine Worthies is a Latin description by 
Antonio d'Asti of the statues of these heroes in the great hall of 
Coucy, written in 1451. : Bertrand du Guesclin here makes a tenth 
Worthy. 

Adde novem veterum fama praestante virorum, 
Nomen apud Gallos clarae probitatis habentum, 
Illic compositas ex petra albente figuras. 
Ex quibus existunt Judea ab origine nati 
Tres domini: Josue, Judas Machabaeus, et ipse 
David; tres autem gentilis sanguinis: Hector 
Trojanus, Caesar Romanus Jullius, atque 
Magnus Alexander; tres vero Regis Olimpi, 
Qui fuit ob nostram passus tormenta salutem, 
Excoluere fidem, certe meliora secuti: 
Arturus rex, et rex Magnus Karolus, atque 
Is qui pro Christo postremus subdidit urbem 
Jerusalem, aeterno Gothofredus nomine dignus. 
Addidit his genitor nostri hujus principis, heros 
Summae virtutis, Lodoycus, munera longe 
Promeritus famae, qui non mediocriter auxit 
Hoe castrum, decimam Gallorum ex gente figuram 
Militis insignis Clasehina, prole Britanna 
Nati, Bertrandi, quo nullus major in armis 
Tempestate sua fuit, aut praestantior omni 
Virtute, et tota fama praeclarior orbe. 

1 Le Roux de Lincy, Paris et ses Historiens, p. 558. 

214 



Verses on the Nine Worthies 
V 



23 



The fifth example occurs on a series of copper engravings, made 
in 1464 by an anonymous artist known as the Meister mit den 
Bandrollen, of which sets are to be found in the British Museum and 
the library of Bamberg. 1 The verses, which reflect rather unfavor- 
ably on the composer's latinity, run as follows: 



Hector 
de 

troya 



Hector de troya priamis filius 
fuit de ix paribus unus 
apud troyam fuit occisus 
ab archille ut legimus 
xic annis lxx uter pars minus 
antequam xps fuit natus 



Rex 

alexander 



Secondus fuit alexander vocatus 
qui de macedonia fuit natus 

in paradiso tributum 

sicut continet historia scriptum 

tre centis annis obiit prius 

in babilonia quam nasceretur xps 



Julius 

cesar 

rex 



Julius cesar tercius vocatur 

per quam terra magna acquiratur 

in babilona & italia 

ipse possedit cum potencia 

de satis fuit vexatus 

xlii annis antequam xps fuit natus 



nobilis 


(Inscription imperfect) 


Iosue 




rex 


Quintus dauid vocabatur 


dauid 


vere illustris rex coronabatur 




golias fuit ab eo interfectus 




a deo fuit dauid electus 




obiit ut legimus mille annis 




ante datum xpi incarnacionis 



' Described by Dodgson, Catalogue of German and Flemish Prints in the British 
Museum, II, 150 ff. 

215 



24 



Roger Sherman Loomis 



Judas 
machabeus 



Artur 
rex 



Karolus 
rex 



gotfridus 
de bulion 



Sextus fuit vero iudeus 

et vocabatur iudas machabeus 

muchonorum ipse necavit 

de hoc seculo migravit 

centum & quadraginta duo annis 

ante datum xpi incarnacionis 

Artur fuit in ordine primus 

christianorum et rex nobilissimus 

draconem ipse occidit 

Et per xpo penas habuit 

post mortem xpi vc et xlv annis 

abiit artur rex illustris 

Karolus rex et imperator 

fuit sanctus et dominator 

per ytaliam & almaneam 

per friseam & hyspaniam 

aquis gracie obiit nobilis 

post mortem xpi viiic et xlv annis 

gotfridus de bulion fuit tercius 
et paganis multum durus 
jhrem subiugauit et locum sanctum 
coronam spineam portauit tantum 
veneno ipse fuit toscicatus 
post mortem xpi xic annis 



VI 

The sixth is found in MS Harley 2259, fol. 39v, at the British 
Museum, and has been published by Furnivall in Notes and Queries. 1 
As this text is so easily accessible, I print here only the first of the 
nine stanzas. 

ix e worthy 

Trogie. 
Ector, miles paganus, & he b(ere) asure ij lyons rampant 

ante incarnacionem. combataunt or, enarmyd goules. 

Ector, that was off alle knyghtes flowre, 
whych euer gate hym' with hys hond honour, 
vnware, of achylles full of envye, 
was slayn': alias, that euer shuld he deye! 

i Series VII, Vol. VIII, p. 22. 

216 



Verses on the Nine Worthies 25 

VII 

In the Coventry Leet Book an account is given of the entertain- 
ment of Queen Margaret, in 1455, and on this occasion the Nine 
Worthies figured among the spectacles, each of them delivering a 
speech of welcome. 1 

Afturward betwix the seyde crosse & the cundit benej>e that were sette 
ix pagentes well arayed & yn every pagent was shewed a speche of the ix 
conqueroures yn the furst was shewed of Hector as foloweth 
hector Most pleasaunt princes recordid l>at may be 

I hector of troy l>at am chefe conquerour 
lowly wyll obey yowe & knele on my kne 
and welcom yowe tendurly to your honoure 
to this conabull citie the princes chaumber 
whome ye bare yn youre bosom joy to J>is lande 
thro whome in prosperite J>is empyre shall stand 

In the secunde pagent was shewed a speche of Alexander as foloweth 
alex I alexander J>at for chyvalry berithe l>e balle 

Most curious in conquest thro J>e world am y named 

Welcum yowe princes as quene principall 

but I hayls you right hendly I wer wurthy to be blamyd 

The noblest prince bat is born whome fortune hath famyd 

is your sovereyn lorde herry emperour & kyng 

unto whom mekely I wyll be obeying 

In the thridde pagent was shewed of Josue as foloweth 
josue I Josue l>at in hebrewe reyn principall 

to whome J>at all egipte was fayne to inclyne 

wyll abey to your plesur princes most riall 

as to the heghest lady bat I can ymagyne 

to the plesure of your persone I wyll put me to pyne 

As a knyght for his lady boldly to fight 

Yf any man of curage wold bid you unright. 

In the fourthe pagent was shewed of david as foloweth 
david I David bat in deyntes have led all my dayes 

That slowe be lyon & goly thorowe goddys myght 
Will obey to you lady youre persone prayse 
And welcum you curtesly as a kynd knyght 
for the love of your lege lorde herry that hight 
And your laudabull lyfe that vertuus ever hath be 
lady most lufly ye be welcum to bis cite 

1 Thomas Sharp, Dissertation on the Pageants or Dramatic Mysteries, p. 147. 

217 



26 Roger Sherman Loomis 

In the fyth pagent was shewed a speche of Judas as foloweth 
Judas I Judas J>at yn Jure am callid the belle 

In knyghthode & conquest have I no pere 

Wyll obey to you prynces elles did I not well 

And tendurly welcum you yn my manere 

Your own soverayn lorde & kynge is present here 

Whome god for his godeness preserve in good helthe 

and ende you with worship to this landys welthe. 

In the sixt pagent was shewed a speche of Arthur as foloweth 
akthde I Arthur kynge crownyd & conquerour 

That yn this land reyned right rially 
With dedes of armes I slowe the Emperour 
The tribute of this ryche reme I made downe to ly 
Ihit unto [you] lady obey I mekely 
as youre sure servande plesur to your highnesse 
for the most plesaunt princes mortal \>&t es. 

In the vij pagent was shewed a speche of Charles as foloweth 
Charles I charles chefe cheftan of J>e reme of fraunce 
And emperour of grete rome made by eleccion 
Which put mony paynyms to pyne & penaunce 
The holy relikes of criste I had in possession 
Jhit lady to your highnes to cause dieu refeccion 
Worshipfully I welcum you after your magnificens 
Yf my service mowe plese you I wyll put to my diligens 

In the viij Pagent was shewed a speche of Julius as foloweth 
Julius I Julius cesar soverayn of knyghthode 

and emperour of mortall men most hegh & myghty 

Welcum you prynces most benynge & gode 

Of quenes >at byn crowned so high non knowe I 

the same blessyd blossom J>at spronge of your body 

Shall succede me in worship I wyll it be so 

all the landis olyve shall obey hym un to. 

In the ix Pagent was shewed a speche of Godfride as foloweth 
godfride I Godfride of Bollayn kynge of Jerusalem 

Weryng J>e thorny crowne yn worshyp of Jhesu 
Which in battayle have no pere under the sone beme 
Yhit lady right lowely I loute unto yowe 
So excellent a princes stedefast & trewe 
knowe I none christened as you in your estate 
Jhesu for hys merci incresse & not abate. 
218 



Verses on the Nine Worthies 27 

VIII 

A tapestry of the third quarter of the fifteenth century in the 
Basel Historical Museum gives us German couplets for five of the 
Worthies. 1 The tapestry, bearing as it does the arms of a Basel 
family, was doubtless of Swiss manufacture. 

David .... kam schlug ich den grossen goliam 

Judas Machebeus ich hab gehabt iudische lant und min opfer zuo gott 
gesant 

Kunig Artus min macht und min miltikeit das ich alle lant erstreit 

Kaisser Karelus weltlich recht han ich gestifft und die bestettiet in 
geschrift 

Goppfrit herr von noch duress fursten adels sitten han ich das heilige grab 
hollant erstritten 

Of the texts on the subject of the Nine Worthies one of those given 
by Gollancz (No. XIII), a mumming play of the time of Edward IV, 
and one of those given above (No. VII), the Coventry pageant, were 
intended for oral recitation, and of course each of the speeches is in 
the first person. It seems to me, therefore, possible that the stanzas 
of which versions are to be found on the Bibliotheque Nationale and 
Metz woodcuts and at La Manta were composed originally for that 
purpose. The commonest method of explanation on wall paintings, 
tapestries, and so forth is the third person. Perhaps, too, the 
German prologue to the prose Alexander (Gollancz No. XV) and the 
couplets for the Basel tapestry, both of which are written in the 
first person, were also intended as the parts of actors in a pageant, and 
came to be used naturally for other purposes. A set of sixteenth 
century tapestries from the district of La Marche, originally dis- 
covered at St. Maixent and now at the Castle of Langeais, also 
bears inscriptions in the first person. 2 Perhaps when further texts 
of this character have been accumulated, we shall have actual proof 
of the occasional adoption of pageant parts by tapicers and other 
decorative artists for explanatory legends on their products. 

Roger Sherman Loomis 
University or Illinois 

1 Julius Lessing, Wandteppiche und Decken des Deutschen Mittelalters, Plate XXVIII. 

2 Bulletin de la Sociit^ Arckiologique et Historique du Limousin, 1894, p. 209. 

219