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The donjon keep.-P. 23. It is perhaps unnecessary to remind my readers, that the donjon, in its proper signification, means the strongest part of a feudal castle ; a high square tower, with walls of tremendous thickness, situated in the centre of the other buildings, from which, however, it was usually detached. Here, in case of the outward defences being gained, the garrison retreated to make their last stand. The donjon contained the great hall, and principal rooms of state for solemn occasions, and also the prison of the fortress ; from which last circumstance we derive the modern and restricted use of the word dungeon. Ducange (voce Donjo) conjectures, plausibly, that the name is derived from these keeps being usually built upon a hill, which in Celtic is called Dun. Borlase supposes the word came from the darkness of the apartments in these towers, which were thence figuratively called Dungeons; thus deriving the ancient word from the modern application of it.
Well was he armed from head to heel,
In mail, and plate, of Milan steel.-P. 28. The artists of Milan were famous in the middle ages for their skill in armoury, as appears from the following passage, in which Froissart gives an account of the preparations made by Henry, Earl of Hereford, afterwards Henry IV., and Thomas Duke of Norfolk, Earl Marischal, for their proposed combat in the lists at Coventry : “ These two lords made ample provision of all things necessary for the combat; and the Earl of Derby sent off messengers to Lombardy, to have armour from Sir Galeas, Duke of Milan. The duke complied with joy, and gave the knight, called Sir Francis, who had brought the message, the choice of all his armour for the Earl of Derby. When he had selected what he wished for in plated and mail armour, the lord of Milan, out of his abundant love for the Earl, ordered four of the best armourers in Milan to accompany the knight to England, that the Earl of Derby might be more completely armed.”—JOHNES' Froissart, Vol. IV. p. 597.
The golden legend bore, aright,
The crest and motto of Marmion are borrowed from the following story. Sir David de Lindsay; first Earl of Crauford, was, among other gentlemen of quality, attended, during a visit to London, in 1390, by Sir William Dalzell, who was, according to my authority, Bower, not only excelling in wisdom, but also of a lively wit. Chancing to be at the court, he there saw Sir Piers Courtenay, an English knight, famous for skill in tilting, and for the beauty of his person, parading the palace, arrayed in a new mantle, bearing for device an embroidered falcon, with this rhyme,-,
I bear a falcon, fairest of flight,
The Scottish knight, being a wag, appeared next day in a dress exactly similar to that of Courtepay, but bearing a magpie instead of the falcon, with a motto ingeniously contrived to rhyme to the vaunting inscription of Sir Piers :
I bear a pie picking at a piece,
This affront could only be expiated by a just with sharp lan
In the course, Dalzell left his helmet unlaced, so that it gave way at the touch of his antagonist's lance, and he thus avoided the shock of the encounter. This happened twice:in the third encounter, the handsome Courtenay lost two of his front teeth. As the Englishman complained bitterly of Dalzell's fraud in not fastening his helmet, the Scottishman agreed to run six courses more, each champion staking in the hand of the king two hundred pounds, to be forfeited, if, on entering the lists, any unequal advantage should be detected. T being agreed to, the wily Scot demanded, that Sir Piers, in addition to the loss of his teeth, should consent to the extinction of one
of his eyes, he himself having lost an eye in the fight of Otterburn. As Courtenay demurred to this equalization of optical powers, Dalzell demanded the forfeit; which, after much altercation, the king appointed to be paid to him, saying, he surpassed the English both in wit and valgur. This must appear to the reader a singular specimen of the humour of that time. I suspect the Jockey Club would have given a different decision from Henry IV.
Largesse, largesse.—P. 33. This was the cry with which heralds and pursuivants were wont to acknowledge the bounty received from the knights. Stewart of Lorn distinguishes a ballad, in which he satirizes the narrowness of James V., and his courtiers, by the ironical burden
Lerges, lerges, lerges, hay,
Lerges of this new year day.
The heralds, like the minstrels, were a race allowed to have great claims upon the liberality of the knights, of whose feats they kept a record, and proclaimed them aloud, as in the text, upon suitable occasions.
At Berwick, Norham, and other Border fortresses of importance, pursuivants usually resided, whose inviolable character rendered them the only persons that could, with perfect assurance of safety, be sent on necessary embassies into Scotland. This is alluded to in Stanza XXII. p. 12.
They hailed Lord Marmion:
Of Tamworth tower and town.-P. 32. Lord Marmion, the principal character of the present romance, is entirely a fictitious personage. In earlier times, indeed, the family of Marmion, lords of Fontenay, in Normandy, was highly distinguished. Robert de Marmion, Lord of Fontenay, a distinguished follower of the Conqueror, obtained a grant of the castle and town of Tamworth, and also of the manor of Scrivelby, in Lincolnshire. One, or both, of these noble possessions was held by the honourable service of being the royal champion, as the ancestors of Marmion had formerly been to the Dukes of Normandy. But after the castle and demesne of Tamworth had passed through four successive barons from Robert, the family became extinct in the person of Philip de Marmion, who died in 20th Edward I., without issue male. He was succeeded in his castle of Tamworth by Alexander de Freville, who married Mazera, his grand-daughter. Baldwin de Freville, Alexander's descendant, in the reign of Richard I., by