This text was taken from Godwin's Life of Chaucer by William Godwin, London: T. Davison, White-Friars; 1804.
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ARCHITECTURE OF THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY - GOTHIC ORDERS OF BUILDING. - ANCIENT CASTLES. - PALACES AND MANOR-HOUSES
In several preceding chapters we have been engaged in considering the various objects, institutions, inventions and practices, which were likely to have presented themselves early to the view of our poet, and essentially to have modified his conceptions and character. A most important branch of this topic must consist in a review, however imperfect, of the state of the fine arts in the fourteenth century. The buildings, the images, the painting and the music of his country could not fail to be continually obtruding themselves upon the senses of Chaucer, and to form an essential part of his education. The present chapter therefore shall be devoted to a sketch of the history of Architecture , and the succeeding one to that of sculpture, painting and music, so far as they are obviously connected with our subject.
There is probably no age in the history of the world in which the art of building was more assiduously and extensively cultivated, than in the period which clapsed from the Norman conquest to the birth of Chaucer. The was owing to two principal causes, the insecurity of social life in general, and the flourishing and prosperous condition of the church. The former of these led to the erection of fortresses, and the latter of churches, convents and abbeys.
Never in any other age or country did so many arguments cooperate to persuade the erection of fortress. The Norman invaders had no sooner obtained possession of the soil, than they spread themselves over the whole surface of the country, and lived separate and insulated from each other, in the midst of a people upon whom they trampled, and by whom they were detested in return. A Norman baron therefore had no security against the superior population of the conquered race, but what essentially depended upon his battlements, his portcullis, his moat and his draw-bridge. No sooner had this expedient been adopted in relation to the subjugated Saxons, than the haughty chieftain of the feudal ages found that it was not less adapted to gratify his passions in defying his equal, and, as occasion mint demand, in resisting the claims or encroachments of his rightful lord. With these obvious motives an incidental consideration strongly concurred. The art of attack had not yet been so improved, as to reach its present superiority over the art of defense. A ditch and a wall, such as the Norman times produced, would be found at present a feeble means of resistance; but in these early centuries they were truly formidable. The consequence of all these considerations was that, under the first princes of the Norman race in England, the whole kingdom is all, such as the Norman times produced, would be found at present a feeble means of resistance; but in these early centuries they were truly formidable. The consequence of all these considerations was that, under the first princes of the Norman race in England, the whole kingdom is represented by their historians to have " been covered with castles and, in the turbulent reign of king Stephen, no fewer than eleven hundred and fifteen castles are said to have been erected from their foundation in the short space of nineteen years.
Nor was the building of monasteries, convents and churches a passion much less universal in these ages, than the building of fortresses. The celibacy of the clergy was a dogma of recent establishment, and this dogma led in a variety of ways to the advancement and extension of the science of architecture. The monks, who had before been indulged at pleasure in the permission to marry, had no sooner universally submitted to the injunction.of celibacy, than they became more holy in the eyes of the laity, and more enthusiastical and devout in their personal habits and feelings. Their superior credit and zeal essentially tended to increase the multitude of votaries in their respective convents, as well as the number of separate monastic establishments in the different countries of Europe. The habitations of the religious were thus rendered at once more numerous and more ample. Their number was calculated to subtilise and improve the science of building in the minds of its professors; and the spaciousness required in the different receptacles of this sort, gave scope for the persons employed in erecting or enlarging them, to exemplify the ideas which their reflections engendered.
Frequent have been the occasions we have had to observe that the policy of the clergy, in those ages when the power of the church was most stupendous, particularly aimed at striking the senses. The task of the leaders of sects and religious denominations in later times has been complicated; it has been necessary to agitate the passions by means of eloquent representations, and to seem at least to convince the understanding: the task of these earlier fathers of the church was perfectly simple. Accordingly, in the darkest period of the middle ages, much attention was paid to the building of cathedrals and places of public devotion; and while, among our Saxon ancestors, persons of the highest rank Were content to gratify their appetites and consume their wealth in a species of hovels, God and his saints, were lodged with comparative magnificence. This magnificence, like every other refinement of civilised life, was greatly improved and exalted under the reign of theNormans. The wealth of the church was immense; and the religious policy of the times required that a great portion of it should be expended in the exercise of beneficence, and the prosecution of apparently disinterested views. Among these religious architecture occupied a foremost place. It afforded to the dignified ecclesiastic an honourable occupation; it enabled him to convince the unlearned and the vulgar of the superiority of his intellect; and it gratified his thirst for contemporary and posthumous fame.
The religious architecture of the middle ages naturally Early Gothic divides itself into two principal classes, which are perhaps best known by the denominations of the early and the latter Gothic. The term Gothic is indeed modern, and was probably first applied by the passionate admirer of classic architecture with a view of expressing their contempt. There seems however to be no sufficient reason for rejecting the appellation. The cultivators of the early Gothic architecture distinguished it by the name of Roman; but it was not the Roman, .such as had been practised in the times of Augustus, but such as had prevailed in the decline of the empire, and particularly after he invasion of the Goths d. This style of building; was brought over into Britain by the priests who converted our Saxon ancestors to the Christian faith: Wilfred bishop of York and afterward of Hexham, and Biscop abbot of Weremouth, both of them luminaries of the seventh century, are celebrated for the zeal and intelligence with which they cultivated it: and several specimens of architecture, by no means contemptible, appear to have been produced in the era of the Saxonse. The complaints which we read of the destruction of monasteries by the Danes are a proof both of the number and importance of these edifices. Alfred however, who checked the progress of the Danes, is said to have introduced some improvements into the architecture previously practised; and, under the early princes of the Norman race, the elder Gothic was carried to the utmost degree of excellence it ever attained.
The characteristic marks of the elder Gothic are the massiveness of its pillars, and the circular form given to its arches. The churches built by Wilfred and Biscop appear to have been of a simple quadrangular form,. Uttle rounded at the eastern end, and composed of a nave, with two side ailes divided from the nave on each side by a line of columns. In the age of Alfred an addition was made to this plan, of a transept, or crossbuilding, intersecting the whole; and of towers, erected for the purpose of receiving the large and ponderous bells which it now first became the custom to affix in places of religious worship The Normans made no essential alteration In this plan but they built their more considerable religious edifices on a much larger scale than the Saxons, and elevated their roofs to a much greater height; so that, while the eminent Saxon churches were usually finished in five or six years, it seldom happened that the Norman prelates were not obliged to bequeath the completion of their designs to the pious care of their successors. A further consequence of the enlarged plan also was, that the walls were made more solid, and the pillars more ponderous; and there can be need of little argument to convince any reflecting observer, that an increase of size, and height, and mass, will as essentially change the impression of any building upon the spectator, as the substitution of a totally different species of architecture. The Normans were incredibly expensive and zealous in their passion for sacred edifices; and accordingly we find that all our cathedrals, and most of our abbey-churches and an innumerable multitude of parochial ones, were either wholly rebuilt or greatly improved within less than a century after the conquest.
Such are the principal facts which offer themselves to our observation in the history of the elder Gothic. The rage for religious architecture however which marked these times, had the further effect of engendering in the minds of those who studied it a totally different species of building, called the latter Gothic. Much dispute has arisen, and many hypotheses have been formed as to the origin of this style; and, while some have derived it from Asia through the medium of the crusaders1, and others from the Morescoes in Spain, there have not been wanting writers who, misled by the ambiguity of the name, have ascribed it to the Gothic conquerors of Rome k, though in reality it did not exist till some centuries after the name of Goth had perished in Europe. But, beside the total want of evidence in support of every one of these hypotheses, it has been well observed that the gradual steps by which we can perceive it to have arisen demonstrate it to have been the genuine offspring of the western world. If it had been imported from any other quarter of the globe, we might reasonably have expected it to have shown itself in full perfection among us at once. The first symptoms of its existence in Europe were in this island; and there seems therefore to be some ground for regarding it as the invention of the Normans, and for adding it as one more feature to that elevated, enterprising and capable character, by which they shone with such distinguished lustre amidst the darkness of the middle ages.
The period of greatest prosperity of the elder Gothic was during the space of a century immediately after the Norman conquest. The latter Gothic took its rise in the middle of the twelfth century, appeared in great splendour during the thirteenth, and continued to be the ruling style, with such variations as are incident to all human designs, to the time of the reformation. The great characteristic of the latter Gothic is the pointed arch: beside which it is distinguished by the slenderness of its pillars, the vaultings of its roofs formed by the successive intersections of curves, and the prominent buttresses on the outside of its walls. An ingenious writer on this subject has ascribed the invention of the pointed arch to Henry of Blois bishop of Winchester, brother to king Stephen. About the same time with the invention of this style of architecture, came into practice the use of painted glass in the windows, producing the happiest and most solemn effect in the inside of their buildings; and of spires and pinnacles, contributing in a high degree to their ornament without0. The greatest improvement which afterward took place, was that, while, in the reign of Henry III. and the commencement of the latter Gothic, the windows were long and narrow, in the reign of Edward II. were introduced those large east and west windows, which, with their transparent representations of apostles, saints and martyrs, form one of the most striking and impressive ornaments of our English collegiate churches and cathedrals. The latter Gothic had always a strong propensity to embellishment; and the longer it continued, (he more glaring did this propensity become: so that in the fifteenth century, its delicate fret-work, and decorations like embroidery, if they did not calm and awe the soul, had at least an obvious operation in astonishing and bewildering the sense. The style of building here described may perhaps with sufficient propriety retain the name of the latter Gothic, since it was engrafted, as a real or supposed improvement, upon that species of architecture which attained its permanent character during the period when the Goths had gained their highest degree of ascendancy in Italy and other portions of Europe.
Such were some of the objects which were so numerous in the time of Chaucer, and were regarded with so high a degree of veneration, that they could not without glaring injustice be omitted in a review of the different appearances by which his youthful mind was modified and impressed. He had an opportunity of contemplating both the orders of architecture here spoken of in the fullest excellence they ever attuned. The generality of English cathedrals were in the elder taste; and the latter Gothic had attained a sufficient degree of attention and popularity, to enable it to present very numerous specimens to the eye of the youthful poet.
Since the time of Chaucer and the period of the re- CHAP.VIIl formation, the study of Grecian architecture has been revived; and it has not failed to excite and engross the commendations of the connoisseurs and the learned. It undoubtedly possesses many advantages over the architecture of our Gothic ancestors. It is infinitely more graceful, beautiful and sweet; its symmetry is more exact, and its simplicity more perfect; it has a more finished character; it is highly congenial to a tasteful, a refined and a polished mind.
But, in spite of these recommendations, the edifices of our ancestors may boldly present themselves, and challenge the comparison. They are more religious. They posses infinitely more power to excite the passions, and generate an enthusiastic spirit. We admire more the Grecian style of building; we feel more from the Gothic. The, Grecian is like the poetry of an Augustan age; it is harmonious, mellowed, uniformly majestic, and gently persuasive. The Gothic is like the poetry of a ruder and more daring period. The artist does not stoop to conform himself to elaborate rules; he yields to the native suggestions of his sublime and untutored fancy; he astonishes the observer and robs him of himself; and the heart of man acknowledges more occasions of sympathy, of affection and feeling in his productions, than in the laboured and accurate performances of a more enlightened age.
The cause of this advantage on the side of the Gothic style is partly the bolder dimensions, of the pillars in the early Gothic, of the height of the roof in the latter Gothic length in both. The uniformity too of the columns and arches produces an artificial infinite in the mind of the spectator. All that the eye can take in at once, however great and magnificent, quickly produces satiety; but, when the sight has wandered along the vast and unterminable extent of the nave of an ancient cathedral, and then discovers two parallel ailes of equal length and magnificence with the nave itself, after which it is gradually led to the cross ailes and other compartments of the stupendous edifice, it is impossible that the mind should not experience a degree of elevation and delight, which scarcely any other production of human art can generate. Add to these causes the solemn gloom which pervades these ve. nerable structures, and the glowing effect, blending with the gloom, which is produced by the rich and transparent colours of the windows; and no one can any longer reasonably wonder that the Gothic style of building should exercise so commanding a power over every pious mind, and every lover of the sublime, the mysterious and the awful, of all that plunges the soul in boundless reverie, and leads us to an inexplicable communication with the invisible, the infinite, and the dead.
Having in some degree compared the Grecian and the fared. Gothic architecture, it is natural for us to' indulge in a brief comparison of the two different classes of the Gothic style. They may most decisively be estimated by an inspection of both; but, as I cannot lead every one of my readers into an old English cathedral of each of these kinds, let us endeavour to visit them in fancy, and by that means to calculate the impression of each. The latter Gothic is undoubtedly a " light, neat, and elegant form of building; but in these qualities it cannot perhaps enter into a strict competition with the Grecian style. Its slender pillars may possess various excellences, but they are certainly not magnificent; and the shafts by which the pillars are frequently surrounded, have an insignificant air, suggesting to us an idea of fragility, and almost reminding us of the humble vehicle through which an English or German rustic inhales the fumes of the Indian weed. The tendency of the latter Gothic, as has been already said, is to excess of ornament; and some of its structures, tombs for example, which belong to the century immediately before the reformation, have rather the appearance of toys to decorate a lady's chamber, than of monuments, the figure of which should excite ideas of duration, and generate in the mind a solemn and an awful sentiment.
The elder Gothic is undoubtedly free from all the faults which have been here pointed out in its immediate successor. The gigantic pillars, the substantial roofs, and the massy walls of a cathedral built in this style, at once strike us with the idea of an edifice coeval with the world. There is a sumptuous and proud magnificence in a cathedral such as that of Durham, which infinitely surpasses the light and pleasant style of the cathedrals of the thirteenth century. The expanded dimension of its parts compels us to shrink into our littleness, and to feel as if we were rather among those grand, fantastic scenes which are produced by the stupendous sports of nature, than among the works of human art. It must have been a cathedral of this sort which the poet had in his mind when he penned that admirable description:
- No, all is hush'd, and still as death --- 'Tis
- dreadful! ---
- How reverend is the face of this tall pile;
- Whose ancient pillars rear their marble heads
- To bear aloft its arch'd and ponderous roof,
- By its own weight made stedfast and immoveable,
- Looking tranquillity!
The latter Gothic however possesses many excellences purely its own. Such are its spires and pinnacles; its painted glass; and its immense windows east and west, adapted to exhibit the full effect of this art. Those buildings in which these advantages should be employed, Without any other deviation from the style of architecture in vogue in the reign of Henry I, would perhaps prove the most perfect specimen of a religious edifice which the mind of man has yet invented.
There is an exquisite passage in the writings of bishop Warburton, in which, if that extraordinary genius has indulged a little too exuberantly the impulse of his fancy, he at least has illustrated with great happiness and beauty the spirit of the modern Gothic style. "Having been ?accustomed," says he, u during the gloom of paganism, to worship the Deity in Groves (a practice common to all nations) When their new Religion required covered edifices, they [the Gothic conquerors of Spain] ingeniously projected to make them resemble Groves, as nearly as the distance of architecture would permit. Hence no attentive observer ever viewed a regular Avenue of wellgrown trees intermixing their branches over head, but it presently put him in mind of the long Visto through a Gothic Cathedral; or ever entered one of the larger and more elegant Edifices of this kind, but it represented to his imagination an Avenue of trees. Under this idea of so extraordinary a species of Architecture, all the irregular transgressions against art, all the monstrous offences against nature, disappear; every thing has its reason, every thing is in order, and an harmonious Whole arises from the studious application of means proper and proportioned to the end. For could the Arches be otherwise than pointed, when the Workman was to imitate that curve which branches make by their intersection with one another? Or could the Columns be otherways than split into distinct shafts, when they were to represent the Stems of a group of Trees? On the same principle was formed the spreading ramification of the stone-work in the windows, and the stained glass in the interstices; the one being to represent the branches, and the other the leaves of an opening Grove; and both concurring to preserve that gloomy light inspiring religious horror. Lastly, we see the reason of their studied aversion to apparent solidity in these stupendous masses, deemed so absurd by men accustomed to the apparent as well as real strength of Grecian Architecture. Had it been only a wanton exercise of the Artist's skill, to shew he could give real strength without the appearance of any, we might indeed admire his superior science, but we must needs condemn his ill judgment. But when one considers, that this surprising lightness was necessary to complete the execution of his idea of a rural place of worship, one cannot sufficiently admire the ingenuity of the contrivance*."
The architecture of the habitations and castles of our antcestors is less calculated to afford instances of any particular order of building, capable of vying in some respects with the orders of ancient Greece, than the architecture of their religious edifices; but it is of the utmost importance as tending to illustrate their modes of living and the temper of their minds. This subject comes even more immediately home to human feelings than the preceding. The sight of a ruin takes a stronger hold upon our fancy, than that of a complete building even of the same age. A ruin suggests to us forcibly the idea of men and scenes passed away, and entirely removed from the theatre of the world, which a complete building does not. The devotion of one age much more nearly resembles the devotion of another, than the habits, the customs and the manners; and therefore can never impress the mind with that notion of individual and contradistinguished existence, which we derive from the private life of other timejs. Add to which; though devotion is a striking and interesting sentiment, it is a sentiment which less forcibly seizes upon our sympathies than some others. In devotion the worshipper endeavours to rise out of himself, and to put off human weaknesses and frailties, and consequently many of the most characteristic marks of our nature; but, when we see the ancient baron in the midst of his family, or surrounded by his dependants, personating the state and munificence of a little sovereign, presiding at the genial board, or leading the exercises of his regiment of followers, it is then that we seem to ourselves completely to understand him, and it is then that we trace all his motions and treasure all his words with the deepest attention, and a perfect recognition of what he is. These are the reasons which invite the enquirer after the life of Chaucer to some consideration of ancient castles.
One of the most conspicuous features of the century immediately succeeding the conquest, was that every considerable baron was anxious to build for himself a residence, formed on ideas of military defence, and capable of resisting the attacks of a besieging army. Such fortresses were rare previously to the accession of William; and it was owing to this among various causes that, when he had struck his decisive blow at the battle of Hastings, the whole kingdom seemed immediately to surrender at discretion. A different policy however was almost instantaneously introduced. William the Conqueror was himself exceedingly partial to the art of fortification, and is described as "vexing and wearying the nation'" with the erection of castles. He first parceled the country into a complete feudal monarchy, of which scheme of policy some essays only had previously existed among us and, as the feudal system was considerably more military in its character than that which had preceded, this circumstance also naturally led to the multiplication of fortresses. Add to this the progress of civilisation ; for men inevitably become more anxious about the means of defence, in proportion as they feel they have a larger property and more valuable possessions to defend. These, combined with the other considerations mentioned in the beginning of the chapter) led to the construction of that surprising number of castles which are related to have sprung up in the reign of Stephen.
Few things can lead more directly to our understanding the notions and modes of life of our ancestors, than a digested survey of that sort of building which they denominated a castle, and under the protection of which the great English barons, for more than a century after the conquest, held their usual residence.
The word Castle, castellum a diminutive from the Latin castrum, originally signified a little camp; and the dimensions and plan of the ancient castles are in sufficient correspondence with this idea. The projector ordinarily chose for the site of his edifice a rising ground in the neighbourhood of a river. Having marked out the limits of his inclosure, he then surrounded it with a wall, ten or twelve feet high, flanked with towers, and with a narrow projection near the top on the inside, where the defenders might place themselves for the convenience of reconnoitring, or of using their weapons. Immediately before this wall on every side a ditch was hollowed, which was filled with water where it could be procured, and formed what we call the moat of the castle. A bridge was built over this ditch, or a draw-bridge set up on the inside, to be let down as occasion required.
Another essential part of an ancient castle was the barbican, or watch-tower, always an outwork, and frequently placed beyond the ditch, at the external foot of the bridge.
In many castles there was a second wall, of considerably smaller circuit than the first, which was in like manner flanked with towers. In this case it was not unusual for various works; barracks, a well, a chapel, an artificial mount, and even sometimes a monastery; to be placed between the first and second walls. A second ditch with its draw-bridge was sometimes introduced.
The most important part however of that species of fortification, called an ancient castle, was the keep, or house of residence, in which the baron of former times held his state. The walls and towers before enumerated were a sort of extrinsic defence, from which, when the first and second walls were taken by the besiegers, the garrison retreated to the mansion, where they made their last stand. The keep, in the sort of fortifications erected in England previously to the conquest, seems to have been generally, if not always, built on the top of an artificial mount, whose summit was nearly of the same dimensions as the plane of the edifice it was destined to receive. From this circumstance it is supposed to have derived its Latin and French appellations, dunjo, donjon, the etymology of which is ascribed by the glossarists to an old Saxon and French word, bun, dune, a hill.
Very soon after the conquest however, great improvements were made in the art of fortification, which are principally ascribed to Gundulph bishop of Rochester, architect of the White Tower in the Tower of London, and of Rochester casde. So long as the artificial mount was retained, the keep was frequently placed in the exterior wall of the fortification; but, when this contrivance was laid aside as operose and unnecessary, the keep was for the most part removed into the centre of the building. In the construction of the artificial mount, particular attention was given to the rendering it steep, and its sum. The portal, except in one point, inaccessible. The portal therefore, in this plan of building, was placed on the ground-floor. The expedient introduced by Gundulph, with the view of superseding the use of the artificial mount, consisted in carrying up the portal to the second or third story, and leaving no place for entrance on the level of the ground; the form of the keep being commonly square, and the walls ten or twelve feet in thickness.
In this plan the entrance was by a spacious stone staircase on the outside of the building. This stair-case frequently went in part round two sides of the keep. After having ascended a certain number of steps, there was a strong gate placed, which must be forced by an enemy before he could proceed further. He then came to what might be called the landing-place, where was an interval, with a draw-bridge to be let down on occasion. This drawbridge being passed, he next encountered a second strong gate, which was usually the entrance of a tower of smaller height and dimensions, forming a vestibule to the principal tower, or keep. This portal, beside its gates, was defended by a herse, or portcullis, a machine precisely in the form of a harrow, composed of beams of wood crossing each other at right angles, with strong iron spikes projecting from their points of intersection. This machine was fixed as a slider in grooves of stone hollowed for that purpose, and was worked up and down by a windlass securely contained within the walls of the keep. It was extremely heavy; and, beside the spikes already mentioned, was furnished with other spikes in a perpendicular direction for the purpose of striking into the ground or floor beneath. The entrance of the keep itself was by a further portal, separating the principal tower from the appendant one, and provided in like manner with strong gates and a portcullis. The grand entrance is variously placed in the castles of this period, in some on the second, and in others on the third story.
The keep usually consisted of five floors: one below the surface, which was commonly the prison; the groundfloor, appropriated for the reception of stores; the second story, for the accommodation of the garrison; the third, state-rooms for the habitation of the lord; and the fourth, bed-chambers.
The accommodations of these times, though stately according to the ideas then prevailing, were such as would appear to a modern observer slender and inconvenient. ? Guildford castle, where king John in one instance celebrated his birth-day, had only one room on a floor. The usual number of principal rooms, in that floor which the possessor of the castle appropriated to his own convenience, did not exceed two. The garrison, who occupied the story immediately beneath, were crowded into a small and able compass, and slept on trusses of straw. The apartments were also very inadequately lighted. Those below the story upon which the state-rooms were placed, received the beams of the sun only through chinks or loops, extremely narrow, and cautiously constructed in such a manner as to afford no advantage to besiegers. In the state-rooms there were windows; but generally small in proportion to the size of the apartments, often but one in a room, broken through the thickness of the wall and protected by an internal arch, and placed at a considerable height from the level of the floor. The state-rooms however, though few in number, were not small; those in Rochester castle, which may be taken as a medium, were fifty feet in length by twenty feet broad. The thickness of the walls, usually amounting to twelve feet, was such as to afford room for various constructions within the substance of them, such as wells, galleries of communication, &c. The wells constructed in the walls, some of them, included circular stair-cases, and others were left open, being destined for the purpose of raising, to the top of the building, in the times of siege, beams and other materials for the making or repairing of military machines. These machines were usually placed upon leads and a platform, contrived for the purpose, above the highest story of the keep. Wells for water were also sunk in some part of the building, but not in the substance of the walls, with conveniences for raising the water to any story of the edifice. Another, almost universal, contrivance, was that of a door, intended as a sally-port, raised several feet above the surface of the ground, but with no external stair leading to it, which was framed to favour unexpected attacks upon the besiegers, yet with every imaginable precaution to prevent the use of it being turned against the besieged. The chimneys were by loops in the walls, similar to those contrived for the admission of light into the lower apartments.
Another artifice frequently introduced in the erection of Subterraneous ancient castles was the formation of a subterraneous passage, the commencement of which was in the keep itself, while the other extremity was at some distance without the walls, being intended, like the door last mentioned, for a sally-port, enabling the garrison to issue forth upon the besiegers by surprise. It was by such a passage that Edward III. surprised his mother and Roger Mortimer her paramour in Nottingham castle. The transaction is thus described by Stow. "There was a parliament holden at Nottingham, where Roger Mortimer was in such glorie and honour, that it was without all comparison. No man durst name him anie other than earle of March: a greater route of men waited at his heeles, than on the kinges person: he would suffer the king to rise to him, and would walke with the king equally, step by step, and cheeke by cheeke, never preferring the king, but would forgoe himself with his officers. Which things troubled much the kings friends, to wit, William Montacute, and other, who for the safegarde of the king, sware themselves to be true to his person, and drew unto them Robert de Holland, who had of long time beene keeper of the castle, unto whom all secret corners of the same were known. Then upon a certain night, the king lying without the castle, both he and his friends were brought by torch-light through a secret way under ground, beginning far off from the sayde castle, till they came even to the queenes chamber, which they by chance found open: they therefore being armed with naked swords in their hands, went forwards, leaving the king also armed without the doore of the chamber, least that his mother shoulde espie him: they which entred in, slew" immediately two of the attendants. ," From thence, they went towarde the queene mother, whom they found with the earle of March readie to have gone to bedde: and having taken the sayde earle, they ledde him out into the hall, after whom the queene followed, crying, Bel filzt bel jtkt ayes pitie de gentil Mortimer, ' Good sonne, good sonne, take pittie upon gentle Mortimerfor she suspected that her sonne was there, though she saw him noty." palaces and In the sort of castles which have just been described the baronage of England held their principal residence for a century after the conquest. The animosity which subsisted between the Saxon inhabitants and their Norman conquerors, and the disputes which continually arose about the succession to the crown, held the country for so long a time in a state of uncertainty and alarm. It was not till the reign of Henry II. that England attained any considerable degree of tranquillity, which, cooperating with the improvement of arts and the increase of knowledge, gradually led to a greater acquaintance with the conveniences of life. This proved the source of two kinds of revolution in the methods of building. In the first place, a nobleman of high rank and great property begata to be desirous of possessing two sorts of habitations of a totally different nature; castles for strength and the support of his independence, and palaces for luxury. The second revolution is of a more curious sort, and derives its character from that principle of association in man, by which the mind almost always shows itself wedded to rooted prejudices and customs of an ancient date. If was thus that, after such castles as those brought to perfection by Gundulph ceased to be requisite for the sake of security, the man of birth, who had been brought up under their roofs from his infancy, yet retained a fond partiality for this style of building, and was led uselessly and discordantly to mix something of the appearance of fortification, in the defenceless and more commodious edifices with which he now adorned his country.
Both these points are illustrated by what we know of the private life of John of Gaunt duke of Lancaster, the principal patron and encourager of Chaucer. One of the dignities vested in this nobleman was that of earl of Lincoln, in virtue of which he held Lincoln castle for one of his residences. He found however the situation of this castle too bleak and inhospitable for the winter season; and, prompted by this motive, built himself a palace of residence for these inclement months in the lower part of the city. The same celebrated personage also, having comfc into possession of Kenelworth castle, the principal seat of the famous Simon Montford earl of Leicester, rebuilt it almost from its foundation, on a more enlarged and commodious plan than that which had characterised it in the time of his predecessors.
Considerable light may be thrown upon the manner of living of our ancestors, from a careful examination of the remains of their once proud places of residence. Their palaces and manor-houses always included one spacious apartment, where the lord was accustomed frequently to dine with his guests and the whole host of his retainers: such was originally Westminster Hall in the old palace of Westminster, and such was the part which is yet standing of the palace of our ancient English sovereigns at Eltham. Many tables were set out in these halls for the reception of a great multitude of guests ; and, instead of the second and third tables maintained at present in the houses of our more opulent nobility in separate apartments, the whole body of those who were fed at the lord's expence sat down at once, in the times we are considering, in the great hall; the servants often dining in the same room, when their superiors had been already supplied and satisfied. Distinctions of a gross sort, but sufficiently adapted to the apprehension of the age, were introduced to distinguish the gradations of rank in this miscellaneous assembly. The whole room was paved with free-stone, or sometimes had for its floor the bare earth, hardened by the continual tread of feet to the consistency of stone. At the upper end was a raised floor of planks, where the lord and his family with his most distinguished guests were seated, called the dais, from the French word ais, or the Latin assis, with the preposition prefixed, signifying, of planks. On some occasions, and in public royal entertainments, there were several of these dais, elevated one above the other. Another mode of distinction was by a large salt-cellar placed in the middle of a long table, while a finer sort of bread and the choicer wines were never circulated below the salt-cellar. Yet in these which may on some accounts be styled ruder times, and with distinctions to our conception so insulting, there was often an affection between the higher and lower parties in the connection, which is now almost forgotten. The dignity of the lord was kind, considerate and fatherly, placing its pride in benefits, and not in oppression; and the submission of the inferior, which had also its pride, the pride of fidelity, the pride of liberal service and inviolate attachment, was a submission less conscious of terror, than of reverence and filial esteem.
At the lower end of the great hall was usually a screen-work, hiding from the persons sitting at the table the door of entrance and the passages to the offices. Over this screen was a gallery for the minstrelsy, and behind it, in front, the passages just mentioned, and on one side the door of entrance. The passages led variously to the buttery, the kitchen, the wine-cellar, and the bedchambers. Annexed to the buttery, at a greater distance* were the bake-house and the brew-house; and in the kitchen, to which the passage was by a continual descent, with a hatchway in the middle, were vast fire-places with irons for a prodigious number of spits, stoves, great double ranges of dressers, large chopping-blocks, a massy table hollowed into a sort of basons to serve as kneading troughs, and every accommodation for preparing food for an army of guests.
These ancient palaces had also a number of other characteristics, which seize the imagination, and have lately been called up with great success by the inventors of fictitious narratives. Such are their trap-doors for descent; their long-protracted galleries; their immense suite of rooms opening one beyond the other; their chapels constituting a part of the mansion, by means of which the solitary explorer of the building unexpectedly descends among the monuments of the dead and the crumbling memorials of departed religion; and their arras hangings, with ill-contrived and rattling doors concealed behind them.