Page images

sleeve was brought back to the lady in the presence of her husband; who knowing the admirable character of the chevalier, conceived no jealousy on the occasion: "The ruby," said the lady, "shall be given to the knight who was the next in feats of arms to the chevalier; but since he does me so much honour as to ascribe his victory to my sleeve, for the love of him I will keep it all my life."

Another important adjunct to the equipment of a knight was the pennon; an ensign or streamer formed of silk, linen, or stuff, and fixed to the top of the lance. If the expedition of the soldier had for its object the Holy Land, the sacred emblem of the cross was embroidered on the pennon, otherwise it usually bore the owner's crest, or, like the sur coat, an emblematic allusion to some circumstance in the owner's life. Thus, Chaucer, in the " Knighte's Tale," describes that of Duke Theseus:

"And by his banner borne is his penon
Of gold ful riche, in which ther was ybete
The Minotaure which that he slew in Crete."

* The account of the taking of Hotspur's pennon, and his attempt at its recapture, is abridged by Mr. Mills* from Froissart. It is interesting, as displaying the temper of the times about these comparatively trifling matters, and being the record of history, may tend to justify our quotations of a similar nature from romance.

"In the reign of Richard the Second, the Scots commanded by James, Earl of Douglas, taking advantage of the troubles between the King and his Parliament, poured upon the south. When they were sated with plunder and destruction they rested at Newcastle, near the English force which the Earl of Northumberland and other border chieftains had hastily levied.

* Hist. Chivalry.

"The Earl's two sons were young and lusty knights, and ever foremost at the barriers to skirmish. Many proper feats of arms were done and achieved. The fighting was hand to hand. The noblest encounter was that which occurred between the Earl Douglas and Sir Henry Percy, surnamed Hotspur. The Scot won the pennon of his foeman; and in the triumph of his victory he proclaimed that he would carry it to Scotland, and set it on high on his castle of Dalkeith, that it might be seen afar off.

"Percy indignantly replied, that Douglas should not pass the border without being met in a manner which would give him no cause for boasting.

"With equal spirit the Earl Douglas invited him that night to his lodging to seek for his pennon.

"The Scots then retired and kept careful watch, lest the taunts of their leader should urge the Englishmen to make an attack. Percy's spirit burnt to efface his reproach, but he was counselled into calmness.

"The Scots then dislodged, seemingly resolved to return with all haste to their own country. But Otterbourn arrested their steps. The castle resisted the assault; and the capture of it would have been of such little value to them that most of the Scotch knights wished that the enterprise should be abandoned.

"Douglas commanded, however, that the assault

should be persevered in, and he was entirely influenced by his chivalric feelings. He contended that the very difficulty of the enterprise was the reason of undertaking it; and he wished not to be too far from Sir Henry Percy, lest that gallant knight should not be able to do his devoir in redeeming his pledge of winning the pennon of his arms again.

"Hotspur longed to follow Douglas and redeem his badge of honour; but the sage knights of the country, and such as were well expert in arms, spoke against his opinion, and said to him, ' Sir, there fortuneth in war oftentimes many losses. If the Earl Douglas has won your pennon, he bought it dear, for he came to the gate to seek it, and was well beaten: another day you shall win as much of him and more. Sir, we say this because we know well that all the power of Scotland is abroad in the fields; and if we issue forth and are not strong enough to fight with them (and perchance they have made this skirmish with us to draw us out of the town), they may soon enclose us, and do with us what they will. It is better to loose a pennon than two or three hundred knights and squires, and put all the country to adventure.'"

By such words as these, Hotspur and his brother were refrained, but the coveted moment came.

"The hostile banners waved in the night breeze, and the bright moon, which had been more wont to look upon the loves than the wars of chivalry, lighted up the Scottish camp. A battle ensued of as valiant a character as any recorded in the pages of history; for there was neither knight nor squire but what did his devoir and fought hand to hand."

The Scots remained masters of the field: but the Douglas was slain, and this loss could not be recompensed even by the capture of the Percy.

Little did the " gentle Kate" anticipate this catastrophe when her fairy fingers with proud and loving alacrity embroidered on the flowing pennon the inspiring watchword of her chivalric husband and his noble family—Esperance.




The term tapestry or tapistry (from tapisser, to line, from the Latin word tapes, a cover of a wall or bed), is now appropriated solely to woven hangings of wool and silk; but it has been applied to all sorts of hangings, whether wrought entirely with the needle (as originally indeed all were) or in the loom, whether composed of canvass and wool, or of painted cloth, leather, or even paper. This wide application of the term seems to be justified by the derivation quoted above, but its present use is much more limited.

In the thirteenth century the decorative arts had attained a high perfection in England. The palace of Westminster received, under the fostering patronage of Henry III., a series of decorations, the remains of which, though long hidden, have recently excited the wonder and admiration of the curious.* "Near this monastery (says an ancient Itinerary) stands the most famous royal palace of England ; in which is that celebrated chamber, on whose walls all the warlike histories of the whole Bible are painted with inexpressible skill, and explained by a regular and complete series of texts, beautifully written in

* See Smith's History of the Ancient Palace of Westminster.

« PreviousContinue »