[ocr errors]

especially in request among a fourteenth- | earlier Middle Ages, when hot baths were century rural population.

hourly cried through all the streets of It may be interesting to examine a few Paris. Still in the fourteenth century of the remedies employed. Rheumatism, there was no town at all considerable that special misery of those that work in without at least one établissement de bains. the wiatry fields, was treated externally by We find in the “ Registers of the Châtethe application of a plaster of cordials let” that a hot bath was a somewhat exand gums spread on a thin piece of silk. pensive luxury, costing several sols. The The part affected was also rubbed with an prolonged warm baths in honor at the ointment (costing seven sols) made of four court of Charles VI. were a scandal to ounces of turpentine and two ouaces of the Church, and are denounced in the white wax, one ounce of resin, one ounce famous sermon of Jacques le Grand. of myrrh, two ounces of bol d'Arménie, Besides the remedies we have quoted, and two ounces of oil of roses ;* it was it must be allowed that others more fanthen covered with a sheet of wadding. tastic were occasionally used, especially Complaints of the skin were treated by an at court and in the treatment of great per: unguent composed of a quarter of a pouod sonages. But our agricultural laborers, of mallow, a quarter of a pound of white who thought twice before they changed wax, a quarter of a pound of olive oil, an their silver sou, were not accessible to ounce of incense, and an ounce of turpen- fashionable quackery. In all the ac. tine; as well as by medicated baths. Sul. counts of Bonis, we find only two receipts pbur was also freely used. Aniseed was that are patently unreasonable, and these given as a specific against indigestion, are the most expensive. One of them is with camomile, quassiä amara, camphor, a powder of ground seed-pearls, the other and essence of cinnamon. Coughs and an ointment of honey of roses, olive oil, colds were cured by a sudorific tea of rose white wax, and “half an ounce of mum. and camomile; by a milk of almonds my.” But the cold creams and cosmetics mixed with starch and sugar, almost ex: of the present day are not always conspicactly resembling the delicious looch of uous for science; we might find nostrums modern France; by an infusion of pecto- as inefficacious on the shelves of Madame ral flowers (mallow, violet, etc.), as well as Georgine Champbaron. And indeed it gum arabic and barley sugar.f In severe may be doubted whether the most fantas. cases the physicians of the Middle Ages tic remedies of the Middle Ages were not administered the famous theriac of Nero, sometimes as successful against the ner. the Theriacus Andromachi, composed of vous maladies in which they were most opium powdered with some tapnic bitter often used, as the Lourdes water, the substance, of sulphate of iron, and of two- hypnotizing-mirrors, and the various pa. and-forty active aromatic essences, such tent medicines so capriciously infallible in as turpentine, Cingalese cinnamon, vale- our century. The poor and needy, with rian, citron, rose, etc. A laborer at Blox- their humble, painful, every-day disorders, bam, in Oxfordshire, was treated for knew, then as now, the virtues of friction bronchitis in 1387, with a syrup of oxymel and wadding against lumbago; the pepand squills. Disorders of the intestines permint tea that calms the colic; the plas. were pretty generally combated by starch ter of boiled poppy-heads applied against water, alum, and the astringent bol d'Ar- the raging tooth. The old man, struggling ménie; senna tea was also an ingredient with his asthma, had almost as good an in the humblest medicine.chest. Besides opiate ; the feverish child, tossing under the remedies we have mentioned, cordials its doubled blanket, a potion almost as of ciodamon, camphor, resin, and oil of sudorific as we should find in any country pioks, electuaries of liquorice, dried place to-day. prunes, and honey of roses were

Apart from their special virtues, the staotly employed. Oxide of zinc mixed medicines of the Middle Ages had a very with camphor || was also given, but I do not high hygienic value. They were unusually koow in what especial case. The hot bath powerful prophylactics. In an earlier artiand the vapor bath were highly esteemed, cle on the “Workmen of Paris,” pub though less frequent, perhaps, than in the lished in this review, I have quoted from

the minutes of the institut- pasteura • Bonis, cui. | All these remedies are taken from the Accounts of diac and Meunier establishing the intense

series of experiments made by MM. CaBonis, Loc. cit., et seq.

Henri de Parville, “Revue des Sciences” in the and unrivalled microbicide powers of Journal des Débats, 23rd January, 1890.

Cingalese cinnamon; while the oil of § Thorold Rogers, i. 399. | Bonis.

pinks, the essences of valerian, thyme,



citron, rose, etc., employed in almost every grammar. The ideal of every peasant mediæval recipe, are each and all more was to have a son in the Church hostile to the microbe than the iodoform who might become abbot, bisbop, chantreatment employed against typhoid fever cellor, cardinal. It was their one great in the Paris hospitals to-day. I advance chance of rising in the world. But in this assertion with all due discretion, since every kingdom of the spirit, many are I have never made any single experiment, called, few chosen. Of the dozer, or so and am not in a position to control the boys who went to every village school opinion of experts; but since the vanguard with a dim idea that perhaps by-and-by of science admits so high a value in the they might in their turn become a parish drugs employed by our benighted ances- priest, or enter some religious order, a tors, we may allow that the pleasantries in fair proportion became stewards or labor. vogue on the subject are possibly over. ers.* Some, no doubt, persevered in their stated or misplaced.

original intention; some went to the town, If the fourteenth-century village was or, tiriog of grammar, 'listed for a solless ill off than we are apt to imagine it in dier; but alas, we meet a good many of regard to the medicines of the body, it them in the “ Registers of the Châtelet.” appears that the training of the mind was Perhaps — who knows? — these ne'er-doless absolutely non-existent in the rural wells were the most useful of them all, for class than it has been our habit to assert. their dispositions in the court of justice Many of the laborers on the farms of Bonis give us many curious lights on mediæval could sign their names, though probably education. Thus, for example, one Jehan. their science in writing ended there. But nin de la Montaigne, a wandering mason, every tenant-farmer, in an age when the accused of horse stealing, invokes the accounts of tenant and landlord were pe- privilege of clergy, asserting that he was culiarly complicated, was obliged to know tonsured at the age of eight years old a certain amount of book-keeping; doubt. when he went to school and learned his less the steward was often more learned psalter — "car auparavant qu'il aprenist than his lord. Hedge-schools were com- son dit métier de maçon, il avait esté avec mon;* in every considerable village, if plusieurs enfans d'icelle ville de Château not in every hamlet, there was a school- Regnault à l'escole de la dite ville et avoit master, appointed generally by the patron aprins jusqu'à son 'Donnet'

• Caton of the village living. There was a certain net;' et lors il savait bien lire." + This regulated number of parish schools in “ Donnet “ Donat” was the grammal. every county, and this number might not ical treatise of the famous Ælius Donatus, be exceeded; our ancestors never could who flourished in the fourth century, and be brought to recognize the advantages whose elucubrations were very popular of competition. Certain texts, however, throughout the ten following centuries. prove the existence of unauthorized hedge- Catonnet,"' a schoolbook equally unischools, promptly quasbed as soon as they versal, was one century older; it was a came to the knowledge of the authorities. paraphrase of the distiches of the once

The Great Plague, which so changed the celebrated Dionysius Cato. To-day, as face of Europe, diminished education by you see, we scarcely know his name, carrying off the schoolmasters. The Con- The names of these two guides to tinuator of Guillaume de Nangis remarks knowledge were known to Jehannio de la that, after the epidemic of 1348, there were Montaigne, but his knowledge went no not enough teachers for the requirements further. After a judicious course of torof the houses, hamlets, and castles of his ture, he was taken to the kitchen (as was country. Thus the sons of the men who the custom of that guileful age), placed in fought at Crecy grew up, though richer, a comfortable chair before a cosy fire, more ignorant than their fathers.

with a warm mantle round his shoulders The schools of the fourteenth century and a glass of wine in his band. Many were not entirely free; and as a certain criminals, obstinate to screw and pulley, proportion of their profits went to the succumbed to these more deceiving influpatron, he filled up the gaps as soon as ences, especially as they succeeded the possible. The village priest was often chill and dismal hour of execution (the the schoolmaster, and the instruction was torture of the fourteenth century was far always chiefly religious; but the boys less diabolic than that of ages more re. were also taught the rudiments of Latin

. It will be remembered that in the Third Order of • Joubert, p. 60. But see especially for this subject St. Francis special provision is made for laymen who the masterly passage of M. Léopold Delisle, “L'Agri- can read, evidently a considerable class. culture Normande au Moyen Age," p. 1żs, et seq.

+ Registres du Châtelet, ii 103.



[ocr errors]



fined, but it was uncomfortable and rheu. , ing from the thirteenth century, which are matic pails of icy water being dashed almost always in accordance with the acfrom time to time upon the dislocated tual population, we may suppose that it patient). Well, to return to Jehannin, has not increased by more than half; we whom we choose as an example from a must allow about that proportion, since crowd of fellow-singers - he confessed, mediæval churches, built for sanctuary, as he sat by the kitchen fire, that he was were large enough to shelter all the vil. no more a priest than the cook. “But,” lagers, with the most valuable of their fur. added he, "a tonsure is convenient in niture, in war-time. If, however, such judicial circumstances. Many of my com- villages as have come down to us are not panion masons had tonsures, and it was immensely larger, still it must be admitted they who advised me to get one also, that numerous new communes have arisen wbich they said I could do without preju: on land that was covered then by bog or dice, as I have really been to school and forest. could read and write well enough when I On the other hand many villages called left it. Therefore I went to the village into life by the plenty and peace that foland had myself tonsured par un barbier, lowed the last Crusade of Saint Louis diset non aultrement.That confession was appeared utterly in the long disaster of the end of friend Jehannin, who swung

the Hundred Years' War. The king's forth with from the neighboring gallows. tax-gatherers jolted through the country "Il n'avoit aucuns biens."

collecting the hearth-tax; again and again The courts of the Châtelet were literally they found, beside the ruined steeple, a encumbered with these sham clerks, who few tumbling beams, an empty stockyard impeded the course of justice by assert- still paven; nothing more. Another vil. ing a non-existent benefit of clergy. Not lage had vanished. The ordonnances of one of them when confronted in the courts the kings of France during the first twenty of justice with a psalter and a primer years of Charles V. are painfully eloquent could read, write, spell a Pater, or say by of this continuous depopulation of the heart a Latin prayer. This, however, country. The wars against the English proves nothing against the system of ed. on the frontiers of Normandy and Gas. ucation, which was probably excellent.cony accomplished the same end as the The School Board manager of the present cruel repression of the Peasants' Revolt day, in an age of unexampled science, in the centre, or the sackings and plunder. koows how easily a boy may pass through ings of the captains of adventure round half-a-dozen years of reading, writing, Rheims, round Orleans, and on the borarithmetic, geometry, astronomy, botany, ders of Provence. I have dismissed many physical chemistry, Biblical exegesis, and tragedies in a single phrase; but how in all the other necessities that no modern a few lines shall I indicate the terrible ploughboy is complete without; and yet position of the peasants? Their grandbe emerges as ignorant as he went in. fathers had dweli in little hamlets almost Nota bene, the boys nowadays stay at under shelter of the town, in whose palischool till twelve, or sometimes fourteen; saded suburbs every winter, they, with jo those days they left at eight or ten their families, their harvest and their furIt is probable tható Donnet” and “ Caton- piture, thronged for asylum. Moreover, det did not penetrate deeply into the in that earlier age, ruled by firm principles average inner consciousness. But all still confidently trusted, the peasant was were not as ignorant as the good-for-noth- little less sacred than the priest. All ings who came before the courts of law classes recognized the holiness, the aufor purse-slitting and horse-lifting; these thority of him who sows and reaps the one may probably take as a natural selec. grain that is the life of all. No usurer tion of the unfittest. M. Delisle, in his might take in pledge the ploughshare, the “Agriculture Normande au Moyen Age,” beasts that draw it, nor the corn as yet gives some delicious examples of the unthrashed. Four days a week, in peace demi-Latinity of the learned peasant, time as in war time, from every Wedneswhich unfortunately I have not got by day night till Monday at sunrise, the heart.

" Truce of God” forbade the men at-arms The population of the rural districts of to traverse field or sheep-walk; moreover, fourteenth-century France varied terribly at any time the peasant, threatened by according to the progress of the Hundred marauders, was safe if he fed to his Years' War. It' is difficult to form any plough and laid his hand upon it; whoso very accurate idea of the actual numbers. touched the iron that furroived the earth Bui from the size of the churches remain. I was inviolable and the plough was as sure

a sanctuary as the church.* But in the lodging somewhere; and their habit was thirteenth century the rural populations, to plunder. So east and west, north and overcrowded round their country towns, south, the companies went riding as to pushed further and further into the area a tourney; but chieily they made their of moor and forest, till their clearings, far way to the rich, upravaged centre; there afield, were beyond reach of their earlier they soon took thirteen towns, with many centre. in their new home they clustered fortresses and castles. all year long round the church they raised Readers who remember the terrible and under protection of the manor. And chapters in which Froissart describes the the

years of peace continued and the pop- depredations of the mercenaries throughulation swelled. Thus from each Châtel. out all the centre of France, and down lerie sprang new

off-shoots; distant through Gascony to Provence, must, in hamlets that had forgotten the necessity of perusing this article, very often have disa sword arm to shelter them, paying tribute sented Irom my cheerful picture of the to their lord, but too far from his fortress life of fourteenth-century villagers. They to receive any efficient aid in war-time. remember the despair and the exterminaWhen the great English war broke out tion of the Jacques of Brie; they count and the long years of invasion, these peas- up the villages marked in some ordoance ants learned to feel their loneliness. as disappeared; they recall the ballads of True, their neighbors were little better Eustache Deschamps describing the sack off; for after Crecy, and after Poictiers, of Vertus, and think how inany a flourishthe greater part of the seigneurs of France ing little town and what innumerable vil. were either dead or in the hands of the lages shared its fate : English. The ransom they had to raise

If you wish to see poverty, a ruined country was all their tenants knew of them; bit- side, a deserted town, tottering walls where ter songs and proverbs began to fly from the fire has been, miserable homes, and a mouth to niouth. “ Ten of them will cry more miserable population - go to Vertus! surrender to the sound of an Englishman's The English have left everything in flames. voice a mile away!” cried Hodge, indig. There you can have at your good pleasure a nant. Poor Hodge, other miseries were horse all skin and bone, a broken bed with in store for him. The Great Plague, which foul sheets, and, when you take your walks had emptied the country after Crecy (“la abroad, Che amusement of the ruined house

tops tumbling round your ears. tierce partie du monde mourust”), came

Henceforth the farms round Vertus shall be again, following Poictiers. When at last abandoned; the vineyards are neglected and the epidemic passed away (having doubled no man tends the plants. This first year after the rate of wage in less than ten years), the sack there will be few wages paid and and the farmer prepared himself to face those uncertain. The man who was wont to new economic conditions, he was con. speak loud will learn to speak low. Our town fronted with other dangers. The truce exists no more, and 'twill be long before her that had followed Poictiers had brought a walls are built again. * momentary peace, and hope began to All this is true ; and we shall never know flourish with the primroses. But the in how many villages the sleeping peaspeace that came in the wake of the battles ants awoke one night to the dreaded tramp of the fourteenth century was crueller of armed horsemen, to the blare of trump than war. The engagements were no and fife, to the sheen of moonlit armor, longer fought solely by the armed chivalry and the presence of the redoubtable conof a kingdom; the system of regular armies pany in their midst. was as yet unknown. In this cruel time Bretons, axe in hand, Gascons armed of transition, war was chiefly made by the with_lances, the Genoese crossbowmen, aid of mercenary captains, who led in the the English with their bows and arrows, pay of the highest bidder their troops of the Lombards with their knives; they adventurers.

were all as well known as the French When the war was over the men who all prayed against and watched for had fought in it could not vanish into air. throughout the land of France. The The nobles rode home to their castles, sharpest sighted villager would look out the peasants to their farms; but the bulk for days in the steeple to give the alarm of their army, the bands of mercenaries, to his fellows when the first of the horseremained hovering with the vultures round men rode up from the horizon ; then the battlefield of yesterday. They were women, children, men, would throng to hungry and must eat; they must find a the appointed hiding-place in the brake,

See D. Bessin, Concilia, part i., p. 78, quoted by • Eustache Deschamps, Ballades, edition du Mar Delisle, p. 116.

quis de Queux de St. Hilaire. Ballade 835.

[ocr errors]


brioging with them such treasure as was Y règne en grand autorité. still left unburied. Happy those who

On fait labours en abondance. could thus escape in time, and for whom

Honorés sont les anciens Do crueller fate was in store than to find

Chacun dist que c'est grand pitić.* on the morrow a heap of red ashes where In fact the " Accounts of the Merchant once their village stood !

Yet, how shall we believe it? Though Bonis,” published by M. Forestier, as well ail this was true, although in the north

as the different documents exhumed by especially, the general ruin introduced dis. M. Léopold Delisle, M. Siméon Luce, and astrous habits of mortgage and usury: the invaluable “Registers of the Châte.

the Duke de la Trémoille, together with although taxes, beavier every year, were expected of the very men who had seen

let,” show us everywhere, in the gloomiest their crops burnt in the stockyard and years and the most desolated districts, a their vineyards trampled under foot;

normal state of what we can only call well withstanding the epidemic of misery that

being. raged between the battle of Crecy and the food, drank more freely of wine and cider

The peasants ate more and of better coronation of Charles V., the country-sides a good deal too freely, as M. Delisle reretained their astonishing vitality. True, in districts most of the young men fortable garments, afforded their wives

marks), wore more costly and more commany went off to the wars (“ Nous aymons inieux

and daughters richer ornaments and trinfaire le gallin-gallant que labourer sans rien avoir," as Gerson heard them say) could afford to-day. The "Registers of

kets than, in the same rank and class, they with a natural preference for plundering the Châtelet” are especially precious in over being plundered. They only pushed this respect. But the accounts of Bonis a little further the work begun by the

show us a still more favorable symptom: Great Plague. The wages of the remaining laborers became so high that it was

the amount of saving effected by all easy for them to recover even from total classes, the lands and herds constantly ruin. True, the wattled cottage was razed acquired by farm laborers and domestic to the ground, but the paved yard re

servants. Subject to overwhelming dis. mained. The peasant knew that his treas- asters, decimated by plague and invasion,

the ure was safe in the keeping of some man

poor in those days were at least well of trust

some merchant of the walled paid, well fed, and warmly clad. cits - when it was not buried in some box fered least. The sudden

and unparalleled

Perhaps the poor were those that sufor glove three feet to the west of the wild rise in the price of labor did not affect cherry-tree, far enough from home to remain unsuspected by the company, If

them, or affected them only favorably. most of the harvest was destroyed the the large landed proprietor, left untouched

The Great Plague which, indirectly, ruined remainder sold for an extravagant price; the peasant farmer. He and his kind and the hunger of the poor in town was at least the farmers' gain. Then Charles prospered, laid by their savings, and V., the unparalleled king, sent off the bought, rood by rood, the lands of the

diminished noble. No other circumstance companies to Spain, to Lombardy, well out of the way. In 1375 our poet'takes prepared so insidiously or so absolutely heart and makes an ironical ballad, in the ruin of Feudalism. The long wars which the companies lament the good threadbare; their fall was accomplished

had left the great nobles penniless and order of the kingdom.

by the rise in the rate of wage. They Le plat pays s'en sent déjà bien

could no longer afford to work their im. Car on n'y ose piller rien ;

mense estates, But of their flight to the

towns, of their desperate rivalry with the Nul n'y va courrer sur les champs burghers, and of the slow, continuous Ne n'y rançonne par puissance.

growth of a strong middle class in town L'on n'y prend chevaux ni juments

and country, I have here no time to speak. Linges, draps, robes, ni finance,

In the words of a contemporary – that is Poullaile, moutons . . . violence

another story. Ne s'y fait.

A. MARY F. ROBINSON. ... et le commun bien

(Madame JAMES DARMESTETER.) * In the disastrous years preceding the accession of Charles V., the g rice of corn doubled.

• Eustache Deschamps, ii.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« ElőzőTovább »