William Morris Archive

Sir Richard


Draft in Fitz, MS 3, (14-1917) in Morris' hand, untitled, follows "Catherine" poem(s). A Froissartian fragment; compare "Sir Peter Harpdon's End." Mentions the Vicomte of Rohane, Sir John Chandos, and Sir Hugh Calverly, all from Froissart’s Chronicles.

Draft in Fitz, MS 3

The good Sir Richard slept right fast
But his damsel waked by his side
And O but she was sore adrad
And twas little but she cried

But whiles she thought it was the wind
Beat on the dormer pane
And while she thought it was the wind
Twisting the golden vane

And whiles when she strained hard to hear
The dogs below howled out
And still this fair dame quok for dread
Till she could never hear that shout

Rise up my Lord Sir Richard she said
They cry from street to street
Town won town won arm quick she said
Go down your foes to meet

Out out Good Squire Giles he said
There are many glories to win
Nay nay my Lord these traitor gascons
Have let the frenchmen in

There is no boot but to stay here
Within our fair great wall. . . .
[line crossed out]
Of the hard haps that us befall

Here is a fair child my lord
Shall do our message well
And these French thieves shall all be caught
Like toads in a dry well"

O hold me up my Squire he said
I doubt that I am slain
I shall never see merry England more
I shall die here in Maine

This steele quarrel grieves me so sore
Many an one shall die in fear
Of these false french if you die
Natheless but I hope better cheer

If you die here in Maine he said
I shall have small joy to live
I shall go among the press
Doughtly strokes for to give

I trow if my head today
Were but a silly eggshell
I should go out among these french
Many a man for to kill

They sound on a trumpet now fair lord
We will [?] crafty wiles
I shall be Sir Richard the good
And you shall be my squire Giles

I will do on your red tabard
And your basnet of gold clean to see
I will show myself little he said
There is none shall know me

We will not let these Frenchmen wit
That you here wounded lie
I shall speak from the wall with a great voice
And Sir Richard I shall well seem to be

I am the Vicount of Rohane
If you are Sir Richard of Corton
Yield up your tower now in haste
For we have the town well won

This is King Charles heritage
If you will not give it to me
I shall mightily brenn it up with fire
And hang you all on ae tree

Thou sayst false Sir Viscount of Rohane
I will not yield it up to you
All Maine longeth to Sir Edward
And so doth all Poictou

See here Sir Viscount of Rohane
If our stone walls were weaten [sic] bread
I would not give up my lords house
Till on the door step I lay dead

You may wish well then weaten [sic] bread
If we build bastides round about you
There will be no rat but you shall eat him
And your sword belts shall schew

My lord of Rohane thou art a false traitor villian
Two times thou hast turned thy coat
Thou deservest well to die
I would we were alone you and I.

I counsel you go back again
You shall be taken I you tell
Sir John Chandos shall catch you all
Like foul toads in a dry well

Then said Sir Reginald du Roy
Thou art a bold knave
But a false squire
So may God me save

Thou art not Sir Richard Corton
Said Sir Reginald du Roy
Lo Sirs Sir Richard now is dead their captain [sic]
Thereof have we great joy

That is false Sir Knight he said
In thy throat I give thee the lie
Thou art a false knave Sir Squire
I hope well to see thee die

I wonder muckle thou art so bold
But thou shalt not endure right long
When we pull this tower down
On a high tree thou shall hang.

Let us no more words said then this good squire
Lo archers pulleth your bows
Whoso is a good man today
Nothing shall he lose.

Who putteth himself in jeopardy
He shall tyne naething I trow [tyne, from Scandinavian, to become lost, perish]

My lord Sir Edward shall make him rich
Who is right good at his bow.

They shot so well together then
These good yeoman [sic] bold
There was no ladder nor eke an axe
That a frenchman might hold

How does my lord Sir Richard Corton
I shall be hole of my hurt
In ae month the good leech saith
But the frenchmen tread us like dirt

But the frenchmen hung us on a tree
I shall be of right merry cheer
I would Sir Hugh Calverly
Or Sir John Chandos were come here

In there came uncle Peter
He was a yeoman bold
My lord these french all go aback
They may nothing hold

In there came uncle Peter
My Lord I fair pennon see
What [are] these bearings
Peter Tell that quick to me

In there came John blackbeard
He was a yeoman strong
My lord these french may do nothing
They will not habyde long

In there came Oliver Gurton
Of his speech he was sweet
My Lord I see a great rout
Fillen up all the street.

In came Gregory Evanton
My lord good news I bring
Our English ranks cometh hither
And right sweetly they sing

That is Hugh Calverly
A good knight of his hands
There is no knight is better
In King Edwards lands

What song sing they Gregory
Said my lord in a voice fine
My Lord they cry ever
Out out the Kentish kine

In there came uncle Peter
My Lord I fair pennon see
What [are] these bearing Peter
Tell that quick to me

My lord to say soothly
It was silver a red stake
That is Sir John Chandos
He is come quick for my sake

We shall hold high feast I trow tonight
In our great hall that is so fair
All the great French captains
Shall eat with us there

Though I may not drink wine
For the heating of my blood
Yet shall I drink sweet posset
And that taste as good

I am so full of joy
that this tower I have holden
That posset shall be better to me now
That wine if I had been yolden

Good sport had the Seneschal
And Sir Hugh Calvery I you tell
All these french were slain or taken
Like toads in a dry well

And those French lords that were taken
Ere they gat them away
Many florins for certain
They did pledge them to pay.

Then I trow Squire Giles
Won well in plain fight
The captain Sir Reginald du Roy
Though he was a good knight

Notes by Peter Wright:
Sir Richard Corton and his followers are likely Morris's invention, though he may possibly have found his name in some list of knights in Froissart.
st. 4 'Town won': the cry [Fr. Ville gagnée"] raised by besiegers when a fortress is captured (and plundering can begin).
st. 5 traitor gascons: most Gascons from the southern parts of Acquitaine were loyal to their Plantagenet overloards, but in the first scene of "Sir Peter Harpdon's End," Sir Peter also shows distrust of them.
st. 8 Maine: the French province, before 1100 an independent country, later usually attached to the county or duchy of Anjou, that lies between Normandy and the Loire valley and is centered on Le Mans. Despite what Morris suggests in st. 10, Maine, unlike Poictou, was not one of the French lorrdships ceded to Edward II [=Sir Edward] by the Treaty of Brétigny in 1360; there may have, hwoever, been some English-held castles in it in the 1360s. (Possibly Morris was thinking of the possession of Maine by Henry II and his sons, Edward's ancestors, in the late 12th century).
st. 9 quarrel: a crossbow bolt
st. 13 basnet: the rather high-pointed helmet typical of the late 14th century
st. 15 the Viscount of Rohane: the house of Rohane was among the leading noble families of Brittany, and remained prominent in the French nobility until the Revolution. In the Hundred Years' War they usually fought on the French side.
st. 16 King Charles: Charles V of France, 1364-80, the subtle king who in 1368-9 began to reconquer from the English the lands ceded at Brétigny, while avoiding pitched battles which the English might win.
Hanging: By the medieval customs of war soldiers taken when a town or fortress was captured by assault, and did not surrender by agreement, could properly be hanged instead of being ransomed; cf. Sir Peter Harpdon's fate. This was occasionally actually done: in the mid 1370s Sir Bertrand du Guesclin, constable of France, hanged some members of a captured English garrison who had insulted him.
st. 19 bastides: a small fortified settlement, often erected in France in the 13th and 14th centuries.
st. 21 Sir John Chandos: one of the Black Prince's chief commanders in the 1350s and 1360s, when he was seneschal of his duchy of Aquitaine (cf. st. 5). Chandos was killed in Jan. 1369 at Lussac, shortly after the war was resumed; but Morris was unlikely to have had a precise date for this siege when writing the poem.
st. 22 Sir Reginald du Roy: Morris found the name of Sir Reginald du Roy in Froissart, among the French champions at a great jousting held between English and French knights at St. Inglevert close to Calais in 1390, shortly after a truce had interrupted fighting in the Anglo-French war, but well after the probable date of such a siege as that in this poem.
st. 30 Sir Hugh Calverl[e]ey: a leading English commander
st. 32 pennon: the ordinary knight's battle flag, bearing his coat of arms and divided at the end, like a swallow tail, into two triangular sections. Chandos and Calverly, being in command of substantial forces, would have had the ends cut off to produce a square 'banner'.
st. 37: Out, out the Kentish kine: presumably Calverly's war cry, based on his punning coat of arms of three calves' heads; though he came from Cheshire, not Kent. Morris introduces him again, with such arms, as a leader of the soldiers opposing the peasants in A Dream of John Ball, chaps. 5-6.
st. 39 silver a red stake: Chandos's coat of arms; in heraldic language Argent, a pile gules. A "pile" is a downward pointing triangle. Morris also mentions this coat in "The Wanderers," lines 487-90, though there making Chandos rather older than he was in 1350.
st. 40 all the great French captains: proably recalling how Edward III, after thwarting a French attempt to recapture Calais in 1350 by bribing the garrison commander to let them in, invited the French knights captured in the ensuing battle to the victory feast that he held in its castle.
st. 44: florins: the gold coinage of the city of Florence, issued from the mid 13th century, one of the most valuable denominations of medieval currency

This poem, and to a lesser extent, no. 31, "The Lady of Havering," are the only poems among the unpublished early drafts showing any serious influence or use of historical background from Froisssart's Chronicles, rather than from the conventional Romantic adventures of knights and ladies with no surnames at unspecified places and times that appear in his other early poems. It is unlcear when Morris first began seriously to study Froissart, though he would have known of him from reading Scott's novels in his boyhood; cf. Claverhouse's priase of the chrnoicler in Old Mortality, chap. 35.