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    Ch. 13 - Les Miracles de Notre Dame

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    Chapter 13
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    Vergine Madre, figlia del tuo figlio,
    Umile ed alta piu che creatura,
    Termine fisso d'eterno consiglio,
    Tu sei colei che l'umana natura
    Nobilitasti si, che il suo fattore
    Non disdegno di farsi sua fattura....
    La tua benignita non pur soccorre
    A chi dimanda, ma molte fiate
    Liberamente al dimandar precorre.
    In te misericordia, in te pietate,
    In te magnificenza, in te s'aduna
    Quantunque in creatura e di bontate.

    Vergine bella, che di sol vestita,
    Coronata di stelle, al sommo sole
    Piacesti si che'n te sua luce ascose;
    Amor mi spinge a dir di te parole;
    Ma non so 'ncominciar senza tu aita,
    E di colui ch'amando in te si pose.
    Invoco lei che ben sempre rispose
    Chi la chiamo con fede.
    Vergine, s'a mercede
    Miseria estrema dell' umane cose
    Giammai ti volse, al mio prego t'inchina!
    Soccorri alia mia guerra,
    Bench'i sia terra, e tu del del regina!

    Dante composed one of these prayers; Petrarch the other. Chaucer
    translated Dante's prayer in the "Second Nonnes Tale." He who will
    may undertake to translate either;--not I! The Virgin, in whom is
    united whatever goodness is in created being, might possibly, in her
    infinite grace, forgive the sacrilege; but her power has limits, if
    not her grace; and the whole Trinity, with the Virgin to aid, had
    not the power to pardon him who should translate Dante and Petrarch.
    The prayers come in here, not merely for their beauty,--although the
    Virgin knows how beautiful they are, whether man knows it or not;
    but chiefly to show the good faith, the depth of feeling, the
    intensity of conviction, with which society adored its ideal of
    human perfection.

    The Virgin filled so enormous a space in the life and thought of the
    time that one stands now helpless before the mass of testimony to
    her direct action and constant presence in every moment and form of
    the illusion which men thought they thought their existence. The
    twelfth and thirteenth centuries believed in the supernatural, and
    might almost be said to have contracted a miracle-habit, as morbid
    as any other form of artificial stimulant; they stood, like
    children, in an attitude of gaping wonder before the miracle of
    miracles which they felt in their own consciousness; but one can see
    in this emotion, which is, after all, not exclusively infantile, no
    special reason why they should have so passionately flung themselves
    at the feet of the Woman rather than of the Man. Dante wrote in
    1300, after the height of this emotion had passed; and Petrarch
    wrote half a century later still; but so slowly did the vision fade,
    and so often did it revive, that, to this day, it remains the
    strongest symbol with which the Church can conjure.

    Men were, after all, not wholly inconsequent; their attachment to
    Mary rested on an instinct of self-preservation. They knew their own
    peril. If there was to be a future life, Mary was their only hope.
    She alone represented Love. The Trinity were, or was, One, and
    could, by the nature of its essence, administer justice alone. Only
    childlike illusion could expect a personal favour from Christ. Turn
    the dogma as one would, to this it must logically come. Call the
    three Godheads by what names one liked, still they must remain One;
    must administer one justice; must admit only one law. In that law,
    no human weakness or error could exist; by its essence it was
    infinite, eternal, immutable. There was no crack and no cranny in
    the system, through which human frailty could hope for escape. One
    was forced from corner to corner by a remorseless logic until one
    fell helpless at Mary's feet.

    Without Mary, man had no hope except in atheism, and for atheism the
    world was not ready. Hemmed back on that side, men rushed like sheep
    to escape the butcher, and were driven to Mary; only too happy in
    finding protection and hope in a being who could understand the
    language they talked, and the excuses they had to offer. How
    passionately they worshipped Mary, the Cathedral of Chartres shows;
    and how this worship elevated the whole sex, all the literature and
    history of the time proclaim. If you need more proof, you can read
    more Petrarch; but still one cannot realize how actual Mary was, to
    the men and women of the Middle Ages, and how she was present, as a
    matter of course, whether by way of miracle or as a habit of life,
    throughout their daily existence. The surest measure of her reality
    is the enormous money value they put on her assistance, and the art
    that was lavished on her gratification, but an almost equally
    certain sign is the casual allusion, the chance reference to her,
    which assumes her presence.

    The earliest prose writer in the French language, who gave a picture
    of actual French life, was Joinville; and although he wrote after
    the death of Saint Louis and of William of Lorris and Adam de la
    Halle, in the full decadence of Philip the Fair, toward 1300, he had
    been a vassal of Thibaut and an intimate friend of Louis, and his
    memories went back to the France of Blanche's regency. Born in 1224,
    he must have seen in his youth the struggles of Thibaut against the
    enemies of Blanche, and in fact his memoirs contain Blanche's
    emphatic letter forbidding Thibaut to marry Yolande of Brittany. He
    knew Pierre de Dreux well, and when they were captured by the
    Saracens at Damietta, and thrown into the hold of a galley, "I had
    my feet right on the face of the Count Pierre de Bretagne, whose
    feet, in turn, were by my face." Joinville is almost twelfth-century
    in feeling. He was neither feminine nor sceptical, but simple. He
    showed no concern for poetry, but he put up a glass window to the
    Virgin. His religion belonged to the "Chanson de Roland." When Saint
    Louis, who had a pleasant sense of humour put to him his favourite
    religious conundrums, Joinville affected not the least hypocrisy.
    "Would you rather be a leper or commit a mortal sin?" asked the
    King. "I would rather commit thirty mortal sins than be a leper,"
    answered Joinville. "Do you wash the feet of the poor on Holy
    Thursday?" asked the King. "God forbid!" replied Joinville; "never
    will I wash the feet of such creatures!" Saint Louis mildly
    corrected his, or rather Thibaut's, seneschal, for these impieties,
    but he was no doubt used to them, for the soldier was never a
    churchman. If one asks Joinville what he thinks of the Virgin, he
    answers with the same frankness:--

    Ung jour moi estant devant le roi lui demanday congie d'aller en
    pelerinage a nostre Dame de Tourtouze [Tortosa in Syria] qui estoit
    ung veage tres fort requis. Et y avoit grant quantite de pelerins
    par chacun jour pour ce que c'est le premier autel qui onques fust
    fait en l'onneur de la Mere de Dieu ainsi qu'on disoit lors. Et y
    faisoit nostre Dame de grans miracles a merveilles. Entre lesquelz
    elle en fist ung d'un pouvre homme qui estoit hors de son sens et
    demoniacle. Car il avoit le maling esperit dedans le corps. Et
    advint par ung jour qu'il fut amene a icelui autel de nostre Dame de
    Tourtouze. Et ainsi que ses amys qui l'avoient la amene prioient a
    nostre Dame qu'elle lui voulsist recouvrer sante et guerison le
    diable que la pouvre creature avoit ou corps respondit: "Nostre Dame
    n'est pas ici; elle est en Egipte pour aider au Roi de France et aux
    Chrestiens qui aujourdhui arrivent en la Terre sainte centre toute
    paiennie qui sont a cheval." Et fut mis en escript le jour que le
    deable profera ces motz et fut apporte au legat qui estoit avecques
    le roi de France; lequel me dist depuis que a celui jour nous estion
    arrivez en la terre d'Egipte. Et suis bien certain que la bonne Dame
    Marie nous y eut bien besoin.

    This happened in Syria, after the total failure of the crusade in
    Egypt. The ordinary man, even if he were a priest or a soldier,
    needed a miraculous faith to persuade him that Our Lady or any other
    divine power, had helped the crusades of Saint Louis. Few of the
    usual fictions on which society rested had ever required such
    defiance of facts; but, at least for a time, society held firm. The
    thirteenth century could not afford to admit a doubt. Society had
    staked its existence, in this world and the next, on the reality and
    power of the Virgin; it had invested in her care nearly its whole
    capital, spiritual, artistic, intellectual, and economical, even to
    the bulk of its real and personal estate; and her overthrow would
    have been the most appalling disaster the Western world had ever
    known. Without her, the Trinity itself could not stand; the Church
    must fall; the future world must dissolve. Not even the collapse of
    the Roman Empire compared with a calamity so serious; for that had
    created, not destroyed, a faith.

    If sceptics there were, they kept silence. Men disputed and doubted
    about the Trinity, but about the Virgin the satirists Rutebeuf and
    Adam de la Halle wrote in the same spirit as Saint Bernard and
    Abelard, Adam de Saint-Victor and the pious monk Gaultier de Coincy.
    In the midst of violent disputes on other points of doctrine, the
    disputants united in devotion to Mary; and it was the single
    redeeming quality about them. The monarchs believed almost more
    implicitly than their subjects, and maintained the belief to the
    last. Doubtless the death of Queen Blanche marked the flood-tide at
    its height; but an authority so established as that of the Virgin,
    founded on instincts so deep, logic so rigorous, and, above all, on
    wealth so vast, declined slowly. Saint Louis died in 1270. Two
    hundred long and dismal years followed, in the midst of wars,
    decline of faith, dissolution of the old ties and interests, until,
    toward 1470, Louis XI succeeded in restoring some semblance of
    solidity to the State; and Louis XI divided his time and his money
    impartially between the Virgin of Chartres and the Virgin of Paris.
    In that respect, one can see no difference between him and Saint
    Louis, nor much between Philippe de Commines and Joinville. After
    Louis XI, another fantastic century passed, filled with the foulest
    horrors of history--religious wars; assassinations; Saint
    Bartholomews; sieges of Chartres; Huguenot leagues and sweeping
    destruction of religious monuments; Catholic leagues and fanatical
    reprisals on friends and foes,--the actual dissolution of society in
    a mass of horrors compared with which even the Albigensian crusade
    was a local accident, all ending in the reign of the last Valois,
    Henry III, the weirdest, most fascinating, most repulsive, most
    pathetic and most pitiable of the whole picturesque series of French
    kings. If you look into the Journal of Pierre de l'Estoile, under
    date of January 26,1582, you can read the entry:--

    The King and the Queen [Louise de Lorraine], separately, and each
    accompanied by a good troop [of companions] went on foot from Paris
    to Chartres on a pilgrimage [voyage] to Notre-Dame-de-dessous-Terre
    [Our Lady of the Crypt], where a neuvaine was celebrated at the last
    mass at which the King and Queen assisted, and offered a silver-gilt
    statue of Notre Dame which weighed a hundred marks [eight hundred
    ounces], with the object of having lineage which might succeed to
    the throne.

    In the dead of winter, in robes of penitents, over the roughest
    roads, on foot, the King and Queen, then seven years married, walked
    fifty miles to Chartres to supplicate the Virgin for children, and
    back again; and this they did year after year until Jacques Clement
    put an end to it with his dagger, in 1589, although the Virgin never
    chose to perform that miracle; but, instead, allowed the House of
    Valois to die out and sat on her throne in patience while the House
    of Bourbon was anointed in their place. The only French King ever
    crowned in the presence of Our Lady of Chartres was Henry IV--a

    The year 1589, which was so decisive for Henry IV in France, marked
    in England the rise of Shakespeare as a sort of stage-monarch. While
    in France the Virgin still held such power that kings and queens
    asked her for favours, almost as instinctively as they had done five
    hundred years before, in England Shakespeare set all human nature
    and all human history on the stage, with hardly an allusion to the
    Virgin's name, unless as an oath. The exceptions are worth noting as
    a matter of curious Shakespearean criticism, for they are but two,
    and both are lines in the "First Part of Henry VI," spoken by the
    Maid of Orleans:--

    Christ's mother helps me, else I were too weak!

    Whether the "First Part of Henry VI" was written by Shakespeare at
    all has been a doubt much discussed, and too deep for tourists; but
    that this line was written by a Roman Catholic is the more likely
    because no such religious thought recurs in all the rest of
    Shakespeare's works, dramatic or lyric, unless it is implied in
    Gaunt's allusion to "the world's ransom, blessed Mary's Son." Thus,
    while three hundred years caused in England the disappearance of the
    great divinity on whom the twelfth and thirteenth centuries had
    lavished all their hopes, and during these three centuries every
    earthly throne had been repeatedly shaken or shattered, the Church
    had been broken in halves, faith had been lost, and philosophies
    overthrown, the Virgin still remained and remains the most intensely
    and the most widely and the most personally felt, of all characters,
    divine or human or imaginary, that ever existed among men. Nothing
    has even remotely taken her place. The only possible exception is
    the Buddha, Sakya Muni; but to the Western mind, a figure like the
    Buddha stood much farther away than the Virgin. That of the Christ
    even to Saint Bernard stood not so near as that of his mother.
    Abelard expressed the fact in its logical necessity even more
    strongly than Saint Bernard did:--

    Te requirunt vota fidelium,
    Ad te corda suspirant omnium,
    Tu spes nostra post Deum unica,
    Advocata nobis es posita.
    Ad judicis matrem confugiunt,
    Qui judicis iram effugiunt,
    Quae praecari pro eis cogitur,
    Quae pro reis mater efficitur.

    "After the Trinity, you are our ONLY hope"; spes nostra unica; "you
    are placed there as our advocate; all of us who fear the wrath of
    the Judge, fly to the Judge's mother, who is logically compelled to
    sue for us, and stands in the place of a mother to the guilty."
    Abelard's logic was always ruthless, and the "cogitur" is a stronger
    word than one would like to use now, with a priest in hearing. We
    need not insist on it; but what one must insist on, is the good
    faith of the whole people,--kings, queens, princes of all sorts,
    philosophers, poets, soldiers, artists, as well as of the commoners
    like ourselves, and the poor,--for the good faith of the priests is
    not important to the understanding, since any class which is
    sufficiently interested in believing will always believe. In order
    to feel Gothic architecture in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries,
    one must feel first and last, around and above and beneath it, the
    good faith of the public, excepting only Jews and atheists,
    permeating every portion of it with the conviction of an immediate
    alternative between heaven and hell, with Mary as the ONLY court in
    equity capable of overruling strict law.

    The Virgin was a real person, whose tastes, wishes, instincts,
    passions, were intimately known. Enough of the Virgin's literature
    survives to show her character, and the course of her daily life. We
    know more about her habits and thoughts than about those of earthly
    queens. The "Miracles de la Vierge" make a large part, and not the
    poorest part, of the enormous literature of these two centuries,
    although the works of Albertus Magnus fill twenty-one folio volumes
    and those of Thomas Aquinas fill more, while the "Chansons de Geste"
    and the "Romans," published or unpublished, are a special branch of
    literature with libraries to themselves. The collection of the
    Virgin's miracles put in verse by Gaultier de Coincy, monk, prior,
    and poet, between 1214 and 1233--the precise moment of the Chartres
    sculpture and glass--contains thirty thousand lines. Another great
    collection, narrating especially the miracles of the Virgin of
    Chartres, was made by a priest of Chartres Cathedral about 1240.
    Separate series, or single tales, have appeared and are appearing
    constantly, but no general collection has ever been made, although
    the whole poetic literature of the Virgin could be printed in the
    space of two or three volumes of scholastic philosophy, and if the
    Church had cared half as truly for the Virgin as it has for Thomas
    Aquinas, every miracle might have been collected and published a
    score of times. The miracles themselves, indeed, are not very
    numerous. In Gaultier de Coincy's collection they number only about
    fifty. The Chartres collection relates chiefly to the horrible
    outbreak of what was called leprosy--the "mal ardent,"--which
    ravaged the north of France during the crusades, and added intensity
    to the feelings which brought all society to the Virgin's feet.
    Recent scholars are cataloguing and classifying the miracles, as far
    as they survive, and have reduced the number within very moderate
    limits. As poetry, Gaultier de Coincy's are the best.

    Of Gaultier de Coincy and his poetry, Gaston Paris has something to
    say which is worth quoting:--

    It is the most curious, and often the most singular monument of the
    infantile piety of the Middle Ages. Devotion to Mary is presented in
    it as a kind of infallible guarantee not only against every sort of
    evil, but also against the most legitimate consequences of sin and
    even of crime. In these stories which have revolted the most
    rational piety, as well as the philosophy of modern times, one must
    still admit a gentle and penetrating charm; a naivete; a tenderness
    and a simplicity of heart, which touch, while they raise a smile.
    There, for instance, one sees a sick monk cured by the milk that Our
    Lady herself comes to invite him to draw from her "douce mamelle"; a
    robber who is in the habit of recommending himself to the Virgin
    whenever he is going to "embler," is held up by her white hands for
    three days on the gibbet where he is hung, until the miracle becomes
    evident, and procures his pardon; an ignorant monk who knows only
    his Ave Maria, and is despised on that account, when dead reveals
    his sanctity by five roses which come out of his mouth in honour of
    the five letters of the name Maria; a nun, who has quitted her
    convent to lead a life of sin, returns after long years, and finds
    that the Holy Virgin, to whom, in spite of all, she has never ceased
    to offer every day her prayer, has, during all this time, filled her
    place as sacristine, so that no one has perceived her absence.

    Gaston Paris inclined to apologize to his "bons bourgeois de Paris"
    for reintroducing to them a character so doubtful as the Virgin
    Mary, but, for our studies, the professor's elementary morality is
    eloquent. Clearly, M. Paris, the highest academic authority in the
    world, thought that the Virgin could hardly, in his time, say the
    year 1900, be received into good society in the Latin Quarter. Our
    own English ancestors, known as Puritans, held the same opinion, and
    excluded her from their society some four hundred years earlier, for
    the same reasons which affected M. Gaston Paris. These reasons were
    just, and showed the respectability of the citizens who held them.
    In no well-regulated community, under a proper system of police,
    could the Virgin feel at home, and the same thing may be said of
    most other saints as well as sinners. Her conduct was at times
    undignified, as M. Paris complained, She condescended to do domestic
    service, in order to help her friends, and she would use her needle,
    if she were in the mood, for the same object. The "Golden Legend"
    relates that:--

    A certain priest, who celebrated every day a mass in honour of the
    Holy Virgin, was brought up before Saint Thomas of Canterbury who
    suspended him from his charge, judging him to be short-witted and
    irresponsible. Now Saint Thomas had occasion to mend his hair-cloth
    shirt, and while waiting for an opportunity to do so, had hidden it
    under his bed; so the Virgin appeared to the priest and said to him:
    "Go find the archbishop and tell him that she, for love of whom you
    celebrated masses, has herself mended his shirt for him which is
    under his bed; and tell him that she sends you to him that he may
    take off the interdict he has imposed on you." And Saint Thomas
    found that his shirt had in fact been mended. He relieved the
    priest, begging him to keep the secret of his wearing a hair-shirt.

    Mary did some exceedingly unconventional things, and among them the
    darning Thomas A'Becket's hair-shirt, and the supporting a robber on
    the gibbet, were not the most singular, yet they seem not to have
    shocked Queen Blanche or Saint Francis or Saint Thomas Aquinas so
    much as they shocked M. Gaston Paris and M. Prudhomme. You have
    still to visit the cathedral at Le Mans for the sake of its twelfth-
    century glass, and there, in the lower panel of the beautiful, and
    very early, window of Saint Protais, you will see the full-length
    figure of a man, lying in bed, under a handsome blanket, watching,
    with staring eyes, the Virgin, in a green tunic, wearing her royal
    crown, who is striking him on the head with a heavy hammer and with
    both hands. The miracle belongs to local history, and is amusing
    only to show how little the Virgin cared for criticism of her
    manners or acts. She was above criticism. She made manners. Her acts
    were laws. No one thought of criticizing, in the style of a normal
    school, the will of such a queen; but one might treat her with a
    degree of familiarity, under great provocation, which would startle
    easier critics than the French, Here is an instance:--

    A widow had an only child whom she tenderly loved. On hearing that
    this son had been taken by the enemy, chained, and put in prison,
    she burst into tears, and addressing herself to the Virgin, to whom
    she was especially devoted, she asked her with obstinacy for the
    release of her son; but when she saw at last that her prayers
    remained unanswered, she went to the church where there was a
    sculptured image of Mary, and there, before the image, she said:
    "Holy Virgin, I have begged you to deliver my son, and you have not
    been willing to help an unhappy mother! I've implored your patronage
    for my son, and you have refused it! Very good! just as my son has
    been taken away from me, so I am going to take away yours, and keep
    him as a hostage!" Saying this, she approached, took the statue
    child on the Virgin's breast, carried it home, wrapped it in
    spotless linen, and locked it up in a box, happy to have such a
    hostage for her son's return. Now, the following night, the Virgin
    appeared to the young man, opened his prison doors, and said: "Tell
    your mother, my child, to return me my Son now that I have returned
    hers!" The young man came home to his mother and told her of his
    miraculous deliverance; and she, overjoyed, hastened to go with the
    little Jesus to the Virgin, saying to her: "I thank you, heavenly
    lady, for restoring me my child, and in return I restore yours!"

    For the exactness of this story in all its details, Bishop James of
    Voragio could not have vouched, nor did it greatly matter. What he
    could vouch for was the relation of intimacy and confidence between
    his people and the Queen of Heaven. The fact, conspicuous above all
    other historical certainties about religion, that the Virgin was by
    essence illogical, unreasonable and feminine, is the only fact of
    any ultimate value worth studying, and starts a number of questions
    that history has shown itself clearly afraid to touch. Protestant
    and Catholic differ little in that respect. No one has ventured to
    explain why the Virgin wielded exclusive power over poor and rich,
    sinners and saints, alike. Why were all the Protestant churches cold
    failures without her help? Why could not the Holy Ghost--the spirit
    of Love and Grace--equally answer their prayers? Why was the Son
    powerless? Why was Chartres Cathedral in the thirteenth century--
    like Lourdes to-day--the expression of what is in substance a
    separate religion? Why did the gentle and gracious Virgin Mother so
    exasperate the Pilgrim Father? Why was the Woman struck out of the
    Church and ignored in the State? These questions are not antiquarian
    or trifling in historical value; they tug at the very heart-strings
    of all that makes whatever order is in the cosmos. If a Unity
    exists, in which and toward which all energies centre, it must
    explain and include Duality, Diversity, Infinity--Sex!

    Although certain to be contradicted by every pious churchman, a
    heretic must insist on thinking that the Mater Dolorosa was the
    logical Virgin of the Church, and that the Trinity would never have
    raised her from the foot of the Cross, had not the Virgin of Majesty
    been imposed, by necessity and public unanimity, on a creed which
    was meant to be complete without her. The true feeling of the Church
    was best expressed by the Virgin herself in one of her attested
    miracles: "A clerk, trusting more in the Mother than in the Son,
    never stopped repeating the angelic salutation for his only prayer.
    Once as he said again the 'Ave Maria,' the Lord appeared to him, and
    said to him: 'My Mother thanks you much for all the Salutations that
    you make her; but still you should not forget to salute me also:
    tamen et me salutare memento.'" The Trinity feared absorption in
    her, but was compelled to accept, and even to invite her aid,
    because the Trinity was a court of strict law, and, as in the old
    customary law, no process of equity could be introduced except by
    direct appeal to a higher power. She was imposed unanimously by all
    classes, because what man wanted most in the Middle Ages was not
    merely law or equity, but also and particularly favour. Strict
    justice, either on earth or in heaven, was the last thing that
    society cared to face. All men were sinners, and had, at least, the
    merit of feeling that, if they got their deserts, not one would
    escape worse than whipping. The instinct of individuality went down
    through all classes, from the count at the top, to the jugleors and
    menestreus at the bottom. The individual rebelled against restraint;
    society wanted to do what it pleased; all disliked the laws which
    Church and State were trying to fasten on them. They longed for a
    power above law,--or above the contorted mass of ignorance and
    absurdity bearing the name of law; but the power which they longed
    for was not human, for humanity they knew to be corrupt and
    incompetent from the day of Adam's creation to the day of the Last
    Judgment. They were all criminals; if not, they would have had no
    use for the Church and very little for the State; but they had at
    least the merit of their faults; they knew what they were, and, like
    children, they yearned for protection, pardon, and love. This was
    what the Trinity, though omnipotent, could not give. Whatever the
    heretic or mystic might try to persuade himself, God could not be
    Love. God was Justice, Order, Unity, Perfection; He could not be
    human and imperfect, nor could the Son or the Holy Ghost be other
    than the Father. The Mother alone was human, imperfect, and could
    love; she alone was Favour, Duality, Diversity. Under any
    conceivable form of religion, this duality must find embodiment
    somewhere, and the Middle Ages logically insisted that, as it could
    not be in the Trinity, either separately or together, it must be in
    the Mother. If the Trinity was in its essence Unity, the Mother
    alone could represent whatever was not Unity; whatever was
    irregular, exceptional, outlawed; and this was the whole human race.
    The saints alone were safe, after they were sainted. Every one else
    was criminal, and men differed so little in degree of sin that, in
    Mary's eyes, all were subjects for her pity and help.

    This general rule of favour, apart from law, or the reverse of law,
    was the mark of Mary's activity in human affairs. Take, for an
    example, an entire class of her miracles, applying to the discipline
    of the Church! A bishop ejected an ignorant and corrupt priest from
    his living, as all bishops constantly had to do. The priest had
    taken the precaution to make himself Mary's MAN; he had devoted
    himself to her service and her worship. Mary instantly interfered,--
    just as Queen Eleanor or Queen Blanche would have done,--most
    unreasonably, and never was a poor bishop more roughly scolded by an
    orthodox queen! "Moult airieement," very airily or angrily, she said
    to him (Bartsch, 1887, p. 363):--

    Ce saches tu certainement
    Se tu li matinet bien main
    Ne rapeles mon chapelain
    A son servise et a s'enor,
    L'ame de toi a desenor
    Ains trente jors departira
    Et es dolors d'infer ira.

    Now know you this for sure and true,
    Unless to-morrow this you do,
    --And do it very early too,--
    Restore my chaplain to his due,
    A much worse fate remains for you!
    Within a month your soul shall go
    To suffer in the flames below.

    The story-teller--himself a priest and prior--caught the lofty trick
    of manner which belonged to the great ladies of the court, and was
    inherited by them, even in England, down to the time of Queen
    Elizabeth, who treated her bishops also like domestic servants;--
    "matinet bien main!" To the public, as to us, the justice of the
    rebuke was nothing to the point; but that a friend should exist on
    earth or in heaven, who dared to browbeat a bishop, caused the
    keenest personal delight. The legends are clearer on this point than
    on any other. The people loved Mary because she trampled on
    conventions; not merely because she could do it, but because she
    liked to do what shocked every well-regulated authority. Her pity
    had no limit.

    One of the Chartres miracles expresses the same motive in language
    almost plainer still. A good-for-nothing clerk, vicious, proud,
    vain, rude, and altogether worthless, but devoted to the Virgin,
    died, and with general approval his body was thrown into a ditch
    (Bartsch, 1887, p. 369):--

    Mais cele ou sort tote pities
    Tote douceurs tote amisties
    Et qui les siens onques n'oublie
    SON PECHEOR n'oblia mie.

    "HER sinner!" Mary would not have been a true queen unless she had
    protected her own. The whole morality of the Middle Ages stood in
    the obligation of every master to protect his dependent. The
    herdsmen of Count Garin of Beaucaire were the superiors of their
    damoiseau Aucassins, while they felt sure of the Count. Mary was the
    highest of all the feudal ladies, and was the example for all in
    loyalty to her own, when she had to humiliate her own Bishop of
    Chartres for the sake of a worthless brute. "Do you suppose it
    doesn't annoy me," she said, "to see my friend buried in a common
    ditch? Take him out at once! I command! tell the clergy it is my
    order, and that I will never forgive them unless to-morrow morning
    without delay, they bury my friend in the best place in the

    Cuidies vos donc qu'il ne m'enuit
    Quant vos l'aves si adosse
    Que mis l'aves en un fosse?
    Metes Ten fors je le comant!
    Di le clergie que je li mant!
    Ne me puet mi repaier
    Se le matin sans delayer
    A grant heneur n'est mis amis
    Ou plus beau leu de l'aitre mis.

    Naturally, her order was instantly obeyed. In the feudal regime,
    disobedience to an order was treason--or even hesitation to obey--
    when the order was serious; very much as in a modern army,
    disobedience is not regarded as conceivable. Mary's wish was
    absolute law, on earth as in heaven. For her, other laws were not
    made. Intensely human, but always Queen, she upset, at her pleasure,
    the decisions of every court and the orders of every authority,
    human or divine; interfered directly in the ordeal; altered the
    processes of nature; abolished space; annihilated time. Like other
    queens, she had many of the failings and prejudices of her humanity.
    In spite of her own origin, she disliked Jews, and rarely neglected
    a chance to maltreat them. She was not in the least a prude. To her,
    sin was simply humanity, and she seemed often on the point of
    defending her arbitrary acts of mercy, by frankly telling the
    Trinity that if the Creator meant to punish man, He should not have
    made him. The people, who always in their hearts protested against
    bearing the responsibility for the Creator's arbitrary creations,
    delighted to see her upset the law, and reverse the rulings of the
    Trinity. They idolized her for being strong, physically and in will,
    so that she feared nothing, and was as helpful to the knight in the
    melee of battle as to the young mother in child-bed. The only
    character in which they seemed slow to recognize Mary was that of
    bourgeoise. The bourgeoisie courted her favour at great expense, but
    she seemed to be at home on the farm, rather than in the shop. She
    had very rudimentary knowledge, indeed, of the principles of
    political economy as we understand them, and her views on the
    subject of money-lending or banking were so feminine as to rouse in
    that powerful class a vindictive enmity which helped to overthrow
    her throne. On the other hand, she showed a marked weakness for
    chivalry, and one of her prettiest and most twelfth-century miracles
    is that of the knight who heard mass while Mary took his place in
    the lists. It is much too charming to lose (Bartsch, 1895, p. 311):--

    Un chevalier courtois et sages,
    Hardis et de grant vasselages,
    Nus mieudres en chevalerie,
    Moult amoit la vierge Marie.
    Pour son barnage demener
    Et son franc cors d'armes pener,
    Aloit a son tournoiement
    Garnis de son contentement.
    Au dieu plaisir ainsi avint
    Que quant le jour du tournoi vint
    Il se hastoit de chevauchier,
    Bien vousist estre en champ premier.
    D'une eglise qui pres estoit
    Oi les sains que l'on sonnoit
    Pour la sainte messe chanter.
    Le chevalier sans arrester
    S'en est ale droit a l'eglise
    Pour escouter le dieu servise.
    L'en chantoit tantost hautement
    Une messe devotement
    De la sainte Vierge Marie;
    Puis a on autre comencie.
    Le chevalier vien l'escouta,
    De bon cuer la dame pria,
    Et quant la messe fut finee
    La tierce fu recomenciee
    Tantost en ce meisme lieu.
    "Sire, pour la sainte char dieu!"
    Ce li a dit son escuier,
    "L'heure passe de tournoier,
    Et vous que demourez ici?
    Venez vous en, je vous en pri!
    Volez vous devenir hermite
    Ou papelart ou ypocrite?
    Alons en a nostre mestier!"

    A knight both courteous and wise
    And brave and bold in enterprise.
    No better knight was ever seen,
    Greatly loved the Virgin Queen.
    Once, to contest the tourney's prize
    And keep his strength in exercise,
    He rode out to the listed field
    Armed at all points with lance and shield;
    But it pleased God that when the day

    Of tourney came, and on his way
    He pressed his charger's speed apace
    To reach, before his friends, the place,
    He saw a church hard by the road
    And heard the church-bells sounding loud
    To celebrate the holy mass.
    Without a thought the church to pass
    The knight drew rein, and entered there
    To seek the aid of God in prayer.

    High and dear they chanted then
    A solemn mass to Mary Queen;
    Then afresh began again.
    Lost in his prayers the good knight stayed;
    With all his heart to Mary prayed;
    And, when the second one was done,
    Straightway the third mass was begun,
    Right there upon the self-same place.
    "Sire, for mercy of God's grace!"
    Whispered his squire in his ear;
    "The hour of tournament is near;
    Why do you want to linger here?
    Is it a hermit to become,
    Or hypocrite, or priest of Rome?
    Come on, at once! despatch your prayer!
    Let us be off to our affair!"

    The accent of truth still lingers in this remonstrance of the
    squire, who must, from all time, have lost his temper on finding his
    chevalier addicted to "papelardie" when he should have been
    fighting; but the priest had the advantage of telling the story and
    pointing the moral. This advantage the priest neglected rarely, but
    in this case he used it with such refinement and so much literary
    skill that even the squire might have been patient. With the
    invariable gentle courtesy of the true knight, the chevalier replied
    only by soft words:--

    "Amis!" ce dist li chevalier,
    "Cil tournoie moult noblement
    Qui le servise dieu entent."

    In one of Milton's sonnets is a famous line which is commonly
    classed among the noblest verses of the English language:--

    "They also serve, who only stand and wait."

    Fine as it is, with the simplicity of the grand style, like the
    "Chanson de Roland" the verse of Milton does not quite destroy the
    charm of thirteenth-century diction:--

    "Friend!" said to him the chevalier,
    "He tourneys very nobly too,
    Who only hears God's service through!"

    No doubt the verses lack the singular power of the eleventh century;
    it is not worth while to pretend that any verse written in the
    thirteenth century wholly holds its own against "Roland":--

    "Sire cumpain! faites le vus de gred?
    Ja est co Rollanz ki tant vos soelt amer!"

    The courtesy of Roland has the serious solidity of the Romanesque
    arch, and that of Lancelot and Aucassins has the grace of a
    legendary window; but one may love it, all the same; and one may
    even love the knight,--papelard though he were,--as he turned back
    to the altar and remained in prayer until the last mass was ended.

    Then they mounted and rode on toward the field, and of course you
    foresee what had happened. In itself the story is bald enough, but
    it is told with such skill that one never tires of it. As the
    chevalier and the squire approached the lists, they met the other
    knights returning, for the jousts were over; but, to the
    astonishment of the chevalier, he was greeted by all who passed him
    with shouts of applause for his marvellous triumph in the lists,
    where he had taken all the prizes and all the prisoners:--

    Les chevaliers ont encontrez,
    Qui du tournois sont retournes,
    Qui du tout en tout est feru.
    S'en avoit tout le pris eu
    Le chevalier qui reperoit
    Des messes qu' oies avoit.
    Les autres qui s'en reperoient
    Le saluent et le conjoient
    Et distrent bien que onques mes
    Nul chevalier ne prist tel fes
    D'armes com il ot fet ce jour;
    A tousjours en avroit l'onnour.
    Moult en i ot qui se rendoient
    A lui prisonier, et disoient
    "Nous somes vostre prisonier,
    Ne nous ne pourrions nier,
    Ne nous aiez par armes pris."
    Lors ne fu plus cil esbahis,
    Car il a entendu tantost
    Que cele fu pour lui en l'ost
    Pour qui il fu en la chapelle.

    His friends, returning from the fight,
    On the way there met the knight,
    For the jousts were wholly run,
    And all the prizes had been won
    By the knight who had not stirred
    From the masses he had heard.
    All the knights, as they came by,
    Saluted him and gave him joy,
    And frankly said that never yet
    Had any knight performed such feat,
    Nor ever honour won so great
    As he had done in arms that day;
    While many of them stopped to say
    That they all his prisoners were:
    "In truth, your prisoners we are:
    We cannot but admit it true:
    Taken we were in arms by you!"
    Then the truth dawned on him there,
    And all at once he saw the light,
    That She, by whom he stood in prayer,
    --The Virgin,--stood by him in fight!

    The moral of the tale belongs to the best feudal times. The knight
    at once recognized that he had become the liege-man of the Queen,
    and henceforth must render his service entirely to her. So he called
    his "barons," or tenants, together, and after telling them what had
    happened, took leave of them and the "siecle":--

    "Moult est ciest tournoiement beaux
    Ou ele a pour moi tournoie;
    Mes trop l'avroit mal emploie
    Se pour lui je ne tournoioie!
    Fox seroie se retournoie
    A la mondaine vanite.
    A dieu promet en verite
    Que james ne tournoierai
    Fors devant le juge verai
    Qui conoit le bon chevalier
    Et selonc le fet set jutgier."
    Lors prent congie piteusement,
    Et maint en plorent tenrement.
    D'euls se part, en une abaie
    Servi puis la vierge Marie.

    "Glorious has the tourney been
    Where for me has fought the Queen;
    But a disgrace for me it were
    If I tourneyed not for her.
    Traitor to her should I be,
    Returned to worldly vanity.
    I promise truly, by God's grace,
    Never again the lists to see,
    Except before that Judge's face,
    Who knows the true knight from the base,
    And gives to each his final place."
    Then piteously he takes his leave
    While in tears his barons grieve.

    So he parts, and in an abbey
    Serves henceforth the Virgin Mary.

    Observe that in this case Mary exacted no service! Usually the
    legends are told, as in this instance, by priests, though they were
    told in the same spirit by laymen, as you can see in the poems of
    Rutebeuf, and they would not have been told very differently by
    soldiers, if one may judge from Joinville; but commonly the Virgin
    herself prescribed the kind of service she wished. Especially to the
    young knight who had, of his own accord, chosen her for his liege,
    she showed herself as exacting as other great ladies showed
    themselves toward their Lancelots and Tristans. When she chose, she
    could even indulge in more or less coquetry, else she could never
    have appealed to the sympathies of the thirteenth-century knight-
    errant. One of her miracles told how she disciplined the young men
    who were too much in the habit of assuming her service in order to
    obtain selfish objects. A youthful chevalier, much given to
    tournaments and the other worldly diversions of the siecle, fell in
    love, after the rigorous obligation of his class, as you know from
    your Dulcinea del Toboso, with a lady who, as was also prescribed by
    the rules of courteous love, declined to listen to him. An abbot of
    his acquaintance, sympathizing with his distress, suggested to him
    the happy idea of appealing for help to the Queen of Heaven. He
    followed the advice, and for an entire year shut himself up, and
    prayed to Mary, in her chapel, that she would soften the heart of
    his beloved, and bring her to listen to his prayer. At the end of
    the twelvemonth, fixed as a natural and sufficient proof of his
    earnestness in devotion, he felt himself entitled to indulge again
    in innocent worldly pleasures, and on the first morning after his
    release, he started out on horseback for a day's hunting. Probably
    thousands of young knights and squires were always doing more or
    less the same thing, and it was quite usual that, as they rode
    through the fields or forests, they should happen on a solitary
    chapel or shrine, as this knight did. He stopped long enough to
    kneel in it and renew his prayer to the Queen:--

    La mere dieu qui maint chetif
    A retrait de chetivete
    Par sa grant debonnairte
    Par sa courtoise courtoisie
    Au las qui tant l'apele et prie
    Ignelement s'est demonstree,
    D'une coronne corronnee
    Plaine de pierres precieuses
    Si flamboianz si precieuses
    Pour pou li euil ne li esluisent.
    Si netement ainsi reluisent
    Et resplendissent com la raie
    Qui en este au matin raie.
    Tant par a bel et cler le vis
    Que buer fu mez, ce li est vis,
    Qui s'i puest assez mirer.
    "Cele qui te fait soupirer
    Et en si grant erreur t'a mis,"
    Fait nostre dame, "biau douz amis,
    Est ele plus bele que moi?"
    Li chevaliers a tel effroi
    De la clarte, ne sai que face;
    Ses mains giete devant sa face;
    Tel hide a et tel freeur
    Chaoir se laisse de freeur;
    Mais cele en qui pitie est toute
    Li dist: "Amis, or n'aies doute!
    Je suis cele, n'en doute mie,
    Qui te doi faire avoir t'amie.
    Or prens garde que tu feras.
    Cele que tu miex ameras
    De nous ii auras a amie."

    God's Mother who to many a wretch
    Has brought relief from wretchedness.
    By her infinite goodness,
    By her courteous courteousness,
    To her suppliant in distress
    Came from heaven quickly down;
    On her head she bore the crown,
    Full of precious stones and gems
    Darting splendour, flashing flames,
    Till the eye near lost its sight
    In the keenness of the light,
    As the summer morning's sun
    Blinds the eyes it shines upon.
    So beautiful and bright her face,
    Only to look on her is grace.

    "She who has caused you thus to sigh,
    And has brought you to this end,"--
    Said Our Lady,--"Tell me, friend,
    Is she handsomer than I?"
    Scared by her brilliancy, the knight
    Knows not what to do for fright;
    He clasps his hands before his face,
    And in his shame and his disgrace
    Falls prostrate on the ground with fear;
    But she with pity ever near
    Tells him:--"Friend, be not afraid!
    Doubt not that I am she whose aid
    Shall surely bring your love to you;
    But take good care what you shall do!
    She you shall love most faithfully
    Of us two, shall your mistress be."

    One is at a loss to imagine what a young gentleman could do, in such
    a situation, except to obey, with the fewest words possible, the
    suggestion so gracefully intended. Queen's favours might be fatal
    gifts, but they were much more fatal to reject than to accept.
    Whatever might be the preferences of the knight, he had invited his
    own fate, and in consequence was fortunate to be allowed the option
    of dying and going to heaven, or dying without going to heaven. Mary
    was not always so gentle with young men who deserted or neglected
    her for an earthly rival;--the offence which irritated her most, and
    occasionally caused her to use language which hardly bears
    translation into modern English. Without meaning to assert that the
    Queen of Heaven was jealous as Queen Blanche herself, one must still
    admit that she was very severe on lovers who showed willingness to
    leave her service, and take service with any other lady. One of her
    admirers, educated for the priesthood but not yet in full orders,
    was obliged by reasons of family interest to quit his career in
    order to marry. An insult like this was more than Mary could endure,
    and she gave the young man a lesson he never forgot:--

    Ireement li prent a dire
    La mere au roi de paradis:
    "Di moi, di moi, tu que jadis
    M'amoies tant de tout ton coeur.
    Pourquoi m'as tu jete puer?
    Di moi, di moi, ou est donc cele
    Qui plus de moi bone est et bele?...
    Pourquoi, pourquoi, las durfeus,
    Las engignez, las deceuz,
    Me lais pour une lasse fame,
    Qui suis du del Royne et Dame?
    Enne fais tu trop mauvais change
    Qui tu por une fame estrange
    Me laisses qui par amors t'amoie
    Et ja ou ciel t'apareilloie
    En mes chambres un riche lit
    Por couchier t'ame a grand delit?
    Trop par as faites grant merveilles
    S'autrement tost ne te conseilles
    Ou ciel serra tes lits deffais
    Et en la flamme d'enfer faiz!"

    With anger flashing in her eyes
    Answers the Queen of Paradise:
    "Tell me, tell me! you of old
    Loved me once with love untold;
    Why now throw me aside?
    Tell me, tell me! where a bride
    Kinder or fairer have you won?...
    Wherefore, wherefore, wretched one,
    Deceived, betrayed, misled, undone,
    Leave me for a creature mean,
    Me, who am of Heaven the Queen?
    Can you make a worse exchange,
    You that for a woman strange,
    Leave me who, with perfect love,
    Waiting you in heaven above,
    Had in my chamber richly dressed
    A bed of bliss your soul to rest?
    Terrible is your mistake!
    Unless you better council take,
    In heaven your bed shall be unmade,
    And in the flames of hell be spread."

    A mistress who loved in this manner was not to be gainsaid. No
    earthly love had a chance of holding its own against this unfair
    combination of heaven and hell, and Mary was as unscrupulous as any
    other great lady in abusing all her advantages in order to save HER
    souls. Frenchmen never found fault with abuses of power for what
    they thought a serious object. The more tyrannical Mary was, the
    more her adorers adored, and they wholly approved, both in love and
    in law, the rule that any man who changed his allegiance without
    permission, did so at his own peril. His life and property were
    forfeit. Mary showed him too much grace in giving him an option.

    Even in anger Mary always remained a great lady, and in the ordinary
    relations of society her manners were exquisite, as they were,
    according to Joinville, in the court of Saint Louis, when tempers
    were not overwrought. The very brutality of the brutal compelled the
    courteous to exaggerate courtesy, and some of the royal family were
    as coarse as the king was delicate in manners. In heaven the manners
    were perfect, and almost as stately as those of Roland and Oliver.
    On one occasion Saint Peter found himself embarrassed by an affair
    which the public opinion of the Court of Heaven, although not by any
    means puritanic, thought more objectionable--in fact, more frankly
    discreditable--than an honest corrupt job ought to be; and even his
    influence, though certainly considerable, wholly failed to carry it
    through the law-court. The case, as reported by Gaultier de Coincy,
    was this: A very worthless creature of Saint Peter's--a monk of
    Cologne--who had led a scandalous life, and "ne cremoit dieu, ordre
    ne roule," died, and in due course of law was tried, convicted, and
    dragged off by the devils to undergo his term of punishment. Saint
    Peter could not desert his sinner, though much ashamed of him, and
    accordingly made formal application to the Trinity for a pardon. The
    Trinity, somewhat severely, refused. Finding his own interest
    insufficient, Saint Peter tried to strengthen it by asking the
    archangels to help him; but the case was too much for them also, and
    they declined. The brother apostles were appealed to, with the same
    result; and finally even the saints, though they had so obvious
    interest in keeping friendly relations with Peter, found public
    opinion too strong to defy. The case was desperate. The Trinity
    were--or was--emphatic, and--what was rare in the Middle Ages--every
    member of the feudal hierarchy sustained its decision. Nothing more
    could be done in the regular way. Saint Peter was obliged to divest
    himself of authority, and place himself and his dignity in the hands
    of the Virgin. Accordingly he asked for an audience, and stated the
    case to Our Lady. With the utmost grace, she instantly responded:--

    "Pierre, Pierre," dit Nostre Dame,
    "En moult grand poine et por ceste ame
    De mon douz filz me fierai
    Tant que pour toi l'en prierai."
    La Mere Dieu lors s'est levee,
    Devant son filz s'en est alee
    Et ses virges toutes apres.
    De lui si tint Pierre pres,
    Quar sanz doutance bien savoit
    Que sa besoigne faite avoit
    Puisque cele l'avoit en prise
    Ou forme humaine avoit prise.

    Quant sa Mere vit li douz Sire
    Qui de son doit daigna escrire
    Qu'en honourant et pere et mere
    En contre lui a chere clere
    Se leva moult festivement
    Et si li dist moult doucement;
    "Bien veigniez vous, ma douce mere,"
    Comme douz filz, comme douz pere.
    Doucement l'a par la main prise
    Et doucement lez lui assise;
    Lors li a dit:--"A douce chiere,
    Que veus ma douce mere chiere,
    Mes amies et mes sereurs?"

    "Pierre, Pierre," our Lady said,
    "With all my heart I'll give you aid,
    And to my gentle Son I'll sue
    Until I beg that soul for you."
    God's Mother then arose straightway,
    And sought her Son without delay;
    All her virgins followed her,
    And Saint Peter kept him near,
    For he knew his task was done
    And his prize already won,
    Since it was hers, in whom began
    The life of God in form of Man.

    When our dear Lord, who deigned to write
    With his own hand that in his sight
    Those in his kingdom held most dear
    Father and mother honoured here,--
    When He saw His Mother's face
    He rose and said with gentle grace:
    "Well are you come, my heart's desire!"
    Like loving son, like gracious sire;
    Took her hand gently in His own;
    Gently placed her on His throne,
    Wishing her graciously good cheer:--
    "What brings my gentle Mother here,
    My sister, and my dearest friend?"

    One can see Queen Blanche going to beg--or command--a favour of her
    son, King Louis, and the stately dignity of their address, while
    Saint Peter and the virgins remain in the antechamber; but, as for
    Saint Peter's lost soul, the request was a mere form, and the doors
    of paradise were instantly opened to it, after such brief
    formalities as should tend to preserve the technical record of the
    law-court. We tread here on very delicate ground. Gaultier de
    Coincy, being a priest and a prior, could take liberties which we
    cannot or ought not to take. The doctrines of the Church are too
    serious and too ancient to be wilfully misstated, and the doctrines
    of what is called Mariolatry were never even doctrines of the
    Church. Yet it is true that, in the hearts of Mary's servants, the
    Church and its doctrines were at the mercy of Mary's will. Gaultier
    de Coincy claimed that Mary exasperated the devils by exercising a
    wholly arbitrary and illegitimate power. Gaultier not merely
    admitted, but frankly asserted, that this was the fact:--

    Font li deables:--"de cest plait,
    Mal por mal, assez miex nous plest
    Que nous aillons au jugement
    Li haut jugeur qui ne ment.
    C'au plait n'au jugement sa mere
    De droit jugier est trop avere;
    Mais dieu nous juge si adroit,
    Plainement nous lest notre droit.
    Sa mere juge en tel maniere
    Qu'elle nous met touz jors arriere
    Quant nous cuidons estre devant.
    . . . . . . .
    En ciel et en terre est plus Dame
    Par un petit que Diex ne soit.
    Il l'aimme tant et tant la croit,
    N'est riens qu'elle face ne die
    Qu'il desveile ne contredie.
    Quant qu'elle veut li fait acroire,
    S'elle disoit la pie est noire
    Et l'eue trouble est toute clere:
    Si diroit il voir dit ma mere!"

    "In this law-suit," say the devils,
    "Since it is a choice of evils,
    We had best appeal on high
    To the Judge Who does not lie.
    What is law to any other,
    'T is no use pleading with His Mother;
    But God judges us so true
    That He leaves us all our due.
    His Mother judges us so short
    That she throws us out of court
    When we ought to win our cause.
    . . . . . . . .
    In heaven and earth she makes more laws
    By far, than God Himself can do,
    He loves her so, and trusts her so,
    There's nothing she can do or say
    That He'll refuse, or say her nay.
    Whatever she may want is right,
    Though she say that black is white,
    And dirty water clear as snow:--
    My Mother says it, and it's so!"

    If the Virgin took the feelings of the Trinity into consideration,
    or recognized its existence except as her Son, the case has not been
    reported, or, at all events, has been somewhat carefully kept out of
    sight by the Virgin's poets. The devils were emphatic in denouncing
    Mary for absorbing the whole Trinity. In one sharply disputed case
    in regard to a villain, or labourer, whose soul the Virgin claimed
    because he had learned the "Ave Maria," the devils became very
    angry, indeed, and protested vehemently:--

    Li lait maufe, li rechinie
    Adonc ont ris et eschinie.
    C'en font il:--"Merveillans merveille!
    Por ce vilain plate oreille
    Aprent vo Dame a saluer,
    Se nous vorro trestous tuer
    Se regarder osons vers s'ame.
    De tout le monde vieut estre Dame!
    Ains nule dame ne fu tiez.
    II est avis qu'ele soit Diex
    Ou qu'ele ait Diex en main bornie.
    Nul besoigne n'est fournie,
    Ne terrienne ne celestre,
    Que toute Dame ne veille estre.
    Il est avis que tout soit suen;
    Dieu ne deable n'i ont rien."

    The ugly demons laugh outright
    And grind their teeth with envious spite;
    Crying:--"Marvel marvellous!
    Because that flat-eared ploughman there
    Learned to make your Dame a prayer,
    She would like to kill us all
    Just for looking toward his soul.
    All the world she wants to rule!
    No such Dame was ever seen!
    She thinks that she is God, I ween,
    Or holds Him in her hollow hand.
    Not a judgment or command
    Or an order can be given
    Here on earth or there in heaven,
    That she does not want control.
    She thinks that she ordains the whole,
    And keeps it all for her own profit.
    God nor Devil share not of it."

    As regards Mary of Chartres, these charges seem to have been
    literally true, except so far as concerned the "laid maufe" Pierre
    de Dreux. Gaultier de Coincy saw no impropriety in accepting, as
    sufficiently exact, the allegations of the devils against the
    Virgin's abuse of power. Down to the death of Queen Blanche, which
    is all that concerns us, the public saw no more impropriety in it
    than Gaultier did. The ugly, envious devils, notorious as students
    of the Latin Quarter, were perpetually making the same charges
    against Queen Blanche and her son, without disturbing her authority.
    No one could conceive that the Virgin held less influence in heaven
    than the queen mother on earth. Nevertheless there were points in
    the royal policy and conduct of Mary which thoughtful men even then
    hesitated to approve. The Church itself never liked to be dragged
    too far under feminine influence, although the moment it discarded
    feminine influence it lost nearly everything of any value to it or
    to the world, except its philosophy. Mary's tastes were too popular;
    some of the uglier devils said they were too low; many ladies and
    gentlemen of the "siecle" thought them disreputable, though they
    dared not say so, or dared say so only by proxy, as in "Aucassins."
    As usual, one must go to the devils for the exact truth, and in
    spite of their outcry, the devils admitted that they had no reason
    to complain of Mary's administration:--

    "Les beles dames de grant pris
    Qui traynant vont ver et gris,
    Roys, roynes, dus et contesses, En enfer vienent a granz presses;
    Mais ou ciel vont pres tout a fait
    Tort et bocu et contrefait.
    Ou ciel va toute la ringaille;
    Le grain avons et diex la paille."

    "All the great dames and ladies fair
    Who costly robes and ermine wear,
    Kings, queens, and countesses and lords
    Come down to hell in endless hordes;
    While up to heaven go the lamed,
    The dwarfs, the humpbacks, and the maimed;
    To heaven goes the whole riff-raff;
    We get the grain and God the chaff."

    True it was, although one should not say it jestingly, that the
    Virgin embarrassed the Trinity; and perhaps this was the reason,
    behind all the other excellent reasons, why men loved and adored her
    with a passion such as no other deity has ever inspired: and why we,
    although utter strangers to her, are not far from getting down on
    our knees and praying to her still. Mary concentrated in herself the
    whole rebellion of man against fate; the whole protest against
    divine law; the whole contempt for human law as its outcome; the
    whole unutterable fury of human nature beating itself against the
    walls of its prison-house, and suddenly seized by a hope that in the
    Virgin man had found a door of escape. She was above law; she took
    feminine pleasure in turning hell into an ornament; she delighted in
    trampling on every social distinction in this world and the next.
    She knew that the universe was as unintelligible to her, on any
    theory of morals, as it was to her worshippers, and she felt, like
    them, no sure conviction that it was any more intelligible to the
    Creator of it. To her, every suppliant was a universe in itself, to
    be judged apart, on his own merits, by his love for her,--by no
    means on his orthodoxy, or his conventional standing in the Church,
    or according to his correctness in defining the nature of the
    Trinity. The convulsive hold which Mary to this day maintains over
    human imagination--as you can see at Lourdes--was due much less to
    her power of saving soul or body than to her sympathy with people
    who suffered under law,--divine or human,--justly or unjustly, by
    accident or design, by decree of God or by guile of Devil. She cared
    not a straw for conventional morality, and she had no notion of
    letting her friends be punished, to the tenth or any other
    generation, for the sins of their ancestors or the peccadilloes of

    So Mary filled heaven with a sort of persons little to the taste of
    any respectable middle-class society, which has trouble enough in
    making this world decent and pay its bills, without having to
    continue the effort in another. Mary stood in a Church of her own,
    so independent that the Trinity might have perished without much
    affecting her position; but, on the other hand, the Trinity could
    look on and see her dethroned with almost a breath of relief.
    Aucassins and the devils of Gaultier de Coincy foresaw her danger.
    Mary's treatment of respectable and law-abiding people who had no
    favours to ask, and were reasonably confident of getting to heaven
    by the regular judgment, without expense, rankled so deeply that
    three hundred years later the Puritan reformers were not satisfied
    with abolishing her, but sought to abolish the woman altogether as
    the cause of all evil in heaven and on earth. The Puritans abandoned
    the New Testament and the Virgin in order to go back to the
    beginning, and renew the quarrel with Eve. This is the Church's
    affair, not ours, and the women are competent to settle it with
    Church or State, without help from outside; but honest tourists are
    seriously interested in putting the feeling back into the dead
    architecture where it belongs.

    Mary was rarely harsh to any suppliant or servant, and she took no
    special interest in humiliating the rich or the learned or the wise.
    For them, law was made; by them, law was administered; and with
    their doings Mary never arbitrarily interfered; but occasionally she
    could not resist the temptation to intimate her opinion of the
    manner in which the Trinity allowed their--the regular--Church to be
    administered. She was a queen, and never for an instant forgot it,
    but she took little thought about her divine rights, if she had
    any,--and in fact Saint Bernard preferred her without them,--while
    she was scandalized at the greed of officials in her Son's Court.
    One day a rich usurer and a very poor old woman happened to be dying
    in the same town. Gaultier de Coincy did not say, as an accurate
    historian should, that he was present, nor did he mention names or
    dates, although it was one of his longest and best stories. Mary
    never loved bankers, and had no reason for taking interest in this
    one, or for doing him injury; but it happened that the parish priest
    was summoned to both death-beds at the same time, and neglected the
    old pauper in the hope of securing a bequest for his church from the
    banker. This was the sort of fault that most annoyed Mary in the
    Church of the Trinity, which, in her opinion, was not cared for as
    it should be, and she felt it her duty to intimate as much.

    Although the priest refused to come at the old woman's summons, his
    young clerk, who seems to have acted as vicar though not in orders,
    took pity on her, and went alone with the sacrament to her hut,
    which was the poorest of poor hovels even for that age:--

    Close de piex et de serciaus
    Comme une viez souz a porciaus.

    Roof of hoops, and wall of logs,
    Like a wretched stye for hogs.

    There the beggar lay, already insensible or at the last gasp, on
    coarse thatch, on the ground, covered by an old hempen sack. The
    picture represented the extremest poverty of the thirteenth century;
    a hovel without even a feather bed or bedstead, as Aucassins'
    ploughman described his mother's want; and the old woman alone,
    dying, as the clerk appeared at the opening:--

    Li clers qui fu moult bien apris
    Le cors Nostre Seigneur a pris
    A l'ostel a la povre fame
    S'en vient touz seus mes n'i treuve ame.
    Si grant clarte y a veue
    Que grant peeur en a eue.
    Ou povre lit a la vieillete
    Qui couvers iert d'une nateite

    Assises voit XII puceles
    Si avenans et si tres beles
    N'est nus tant penser i seust
    Qui raconter le vout peust.
    A coutee voist Nostre Dame
    Sus le chevez la povre fame
    Qui por la mort sue et travaille.
    La Mere Dieu d'une tovaille
    Qui blanche est plus que fleur de lis
    La grant sueur d'entor le vis
    A ses blanches mains li essuie.

    The clerk, well in these duties taught,
    The body of our Saviour brought
    Where she lay upon her bed
    Without a soul to give her aid.
    But such brightness there he saw
    As filled his mind with fear and awe.
    Covered with a mat of straw
    The woman lay; but round and near

    A dozen maidens sat, so fair
    No mortal man could dream such light,
    No mortal tongue describe the sight.
    Then he saw that next the bed,
    By the poor old woman's head,
    As she gasped and strained for breath
    In the agony of death,
    Sat Our Lady,--bending low,--
    While, with napkin white as snow,
    She dried the death-sweat on the brow.

    The clerk, in terror, hesitated whether to turn and run away, but
    Our Lady beckoned him to the bed, while all rose and kneeled
    devoutly to the sacrament. Then she said to the trembling clerk:--

    "Friend, be not afraid!
    But seat yourself, to give us aid,
    Beside these maidens, on the bed."

    And when the clerk had obeyed, she continued--

    "Or tost, amis!" fait Nostre Dame,
    "Confessies ceste bone fame
    Et puis apres tout sans freeur
    Recevra tost son sauveeur
    Qui char et sanc vout en moi prendre."

    "Come quickly, friend!" Our Lady says,
    "This good old woman now confess
    And afterwards without distress
    She will at once receive her God
    Who deigned in me take flesh and blood."

    After the sacrament came a touch of realism that recalls the simple
    death-scenes that Walter Scott described in his grand twelfth-
    century manner. The old woman lingered pitiably in her agony:--

    Lors dit une des demoiselles
    A madame sainte Marie:
    "Encore, dame, n'istra mie
    Si com moi semble du cors l'ame."
    "Bele fille," fait Nostre Dame,
    "Traveiller lais un peu le cors,
    Aincois que l'ame en isse hors,
    Si que puree soil et nete
    Aincois qu'en Paradis la mete.
    N'est or mestier qui soions plus,
    Ralon nous en ou ciel lassus,
    Quant tens en iert bien reviendrons
    En paradis l'ame emmerrons."

    A maiden said to Saint Marie,
    "My lady, still it seems to me
    The soul will not the body fly."
    "Fair child!" Our Lady made reply,
    "Still let awhile the body fight
    Before the soul shall leave it quite.
    So that it pure may be, and cleansed
    When it to Paradise ascends.
    No longer need we here remain;
    We can go back to heaven again;
    We will return before she dies,
    And take the soul to paradise."

    The rest of the story concerned the usurer, whose death-bed was of a
    different character, but Mary's interest in death-beds of that kind
    was small. The fate of the usurer mattered the less because she knew
    too well how easily the banker, in good credit, could arrange with
    the officials of the Trinity to open the doors of paradise for him.
    The administration of heaven was very like the administration of
    France; the Queen Mother saw many things of which she could not
    wholly approve; but her nature was pity, not justice, and she shut
    her eyes to much that she could not change. Her miracles, therefore,
    were for the most part mere evidence of her pity for those who
    needed it most, and these were rarely the well-to-do people of the
    siecle, but more commonly the helpless. Every saint performed
    miracles, and these are standard, not peculiar to any one
    intermediator; and every saint protected his own friends; but beyond
    these exhibitions of power, which are more or less common to the
    whole hierarchy below the Trinity, Mary was the mother of pity and
    the only hope of despair. One might go on for a volume, studying the
    character of Mary and the changes that time made in it, from the
    earliest Byzantine legends down to the daily recorded miracles at
    Lourdes; no character in history has had so long or varied a
    development, and none so sympathetic; but the greatest poets long
    ago plundered that mine of rich motives, and have stolen what was
    most dramatic for popular use. The Virgin's most famous early
    miracle seems to have been that of the monk Theophilus, which was
    what one might call her salvation of Faust. Another Byzantine
    miracle was an original version of Shylock. Shakespeare and his
    fellow dramatists plundered the Church legends as freely as their
    masters plundered the Church treasuries, yet left a mass of dramatic
    material untouched. Let us pray the Virgin that it may remain
    untouched, for, although a good miracle was in its day worth much
    money--so much that the rival shrines stole each other's miracles
    without decency--one does not care to see one's Virgin put to money-
    making for Jew theatre-managers. One's two-hundred and fifty million
    arithmetical ancestors shrink.

    For mere amusement, too, the miracle is worth reading of the little
    Jew child who ignorantly joined in the Christian communion, and was
    thrown into a furnace by his father in consequence; but when the
    furnace was opened, the Virgin appeared seated in the midst of the
    flames, with the little child unharmed in her lap. Better is that
    called the "Tombeor de Notre Dame," only recently printed; told by
    some unknown poet of the thirteenth century, and told as well as any
    of Gaultier de Coincy's. Indeed the "Tombeor de Notre Dame" has had
    more success in our time than it ever had in its own, as far as one
    knows, for it appeals to a quiet sense of humour that pleases modern
    French taste as much as it pleased the Virgin. One fears only to
    spoil it by translation, but if a translation be merely used as a
    glossary or footnote, it need not do fatal harm.

    The story is that of a tumbler--tombeor, street-acrobat--who was
    disgusted with the world, as his class has had a reputation for
    becoming, and who was fortunate enough to obtain admission into the
    famous monastery of Clairvaux, where Saint Bernard may have formerly
    been blessed by the Virgin's presence. Ignorant at best, and
    especially ignorant of letters, music, and the offices of a
    religious society, he found himself unable to join in the services:--

    Car n'ot vescu fors de tumer
    Et d'espringier et de baler.
    Treper, saillir, ice savoit;
    Ne d'autre rien il ne savoit;
    Car ne savoit autre lecon
    Ne "pater noster" ne chancon
    Ne le "credo" ne le salu
    Ne rien qui fust a son salu.

    For he had learned no other thing
    Than to tumble, dance and spring:
    Leaping and vaulting, that he knew,
    But nothing better could he do.
    He could not say his prayers by rote;
    Not "Pater noster", not a note,
    Not "Ave Mary," nor the creed;
    Nothing to help his soul in need.

    Tormented by the sense of his uselessness to the society whose bread
    he ate without giving a return in service, and afraid of being
    expelled as a useless member, one day while the bells were calling
    to mass he hid in the crypt, and in despair began to soliloquize
    before the Virgin's altar, at the same spot, one hopes, where the
    Virgin had shown herself, or might have shown herself, in her
    infinite bounty, to Saint Bernard, a hundred years before:--

    "Hai," fait il, "con suis trais!
    Or dira ja cascuns sa laisse
    Et jo suis ci i hues en laisse
    Qui ne fas ci fors que broster
    Et viandes por nient gaster.
    Si ne dirai ne ne ferai?
    Par la mere deu, si ferai!
    Ja n'en serai ore repris;
    Jo ferai ce que j'ai apris;
    Si servirai de men mestier
    La mere deu en son mostier;
    Li autre servent de canter
    Et jo servirai de tumer."
    Sa cape oste, si se despoille,
    Deles l'autel met sa despoille,
    Mais por sa char que ne soit nue
    Une cotele a retenue
    Qui moult estait tenre et alise,
    Petit vaut miex d'une chemise,
    Si est en pur le cors remes.
    Il s'est bien chains et acesmes,
    Sa cote caint et bien s'atorne,
    Devers l'ymage se retorne
    Mout humblement et si l'esgarde:
    "Dame," fait il, "en vostre garde
    Comant jo et mon cors et m'ame.
    Douce reine, douce dame,
    Ne despisies ce que jo sai
    Car jo me voil metre a l'asai
    De vos servir en bone foi
    Se dex m'ait sans nul desroi.
    Jo ne sai canter ne lire
    Mais certes jo vos voil eslire
    Tos mes biax gieus a eslicon.
    Or soie al fuer de taurecon
    Qui trepe et saut devant sa mere.
    Dame, qui n'estes mie amere
    A cels qui vos servent a droit,
    Quelsque jo soie, por vos soit!"

    Lors li commence a faire saus
    Bas et petits et grans et haus

    Primes deseur et puis desos,
    Puis se remet sor ses genols,
    Devers l'ymage, et si l'encline:
    "He!" fait il, "tres douce reine
    Par vo pitie, par vo francise,
    Ne despisies pas mon servise!"

    "Ha!" said he, "how I am ashamed!
    To sing his part goes now each priest,
    And I stand here, a tethered beast,
    Who nothing do but browse and feed
    And waste the food that others need.
    Shall I say nothing, and stand still?
    No! by God's mother, but I will!
    She shall not think me here for naught;
    At least I'll do what I've been taught!
    At least I'll serve in my own way
    God's mother in her church to-day.
    The others serve to pray and sing;
    I will serve to leap and spring."
    Then he strips him of his gown,
    Lays it on the altar down;
    But for himself he takes good care
    Not to show his body bare,
    But keeps a jacket, soft and thin,
    Almost a shirt, to tumble in.
    Clothed in this supple woof of maille
    His strength and health and form showed well.
    And when his belt is buckled fast,
    Toward the Virgin turns at last:
    Very humbly makes his prayer;
    "Lady!" says he, "to your care
    I commit my soul and frame.
    Gentle Virgin, gentle dame,
    Do not despise what I shall do,
    For I ask only to please you,
    To serve you like an honest man,
    So help me God, the best I can.
    I cannot chant, nor can I read,
    But I can show you here instead,
    All my best tricks to make you laugh,
    And so shall be as though a calf
    Should leap and jump before its dam.
    Lady, who never yet could blame
    Those who serve you well and true,
    All that I am, I am for you."

    Then he begins to jump about,
    High and low, and in and out,

    Straining hard with might and main;
    Then, falling on his knees again,
    Before the image bows his face:
    "By your pity! by your grace!"
    Says he, "Ha! my gentle queen,
    Do not despise my offering!"

    In his earnestness he exerted himself until, at the end of his
    strength, he lay exhausted and unconscious on the altar steps.
    Pleased with his own exhibition, and satisfied that the Virgin was
    equally pleased, he continued these devotions every day, until at
    last his constant and singular absence from the regular services
    attracted the curiosity of a monk, who kept watch on him and
    reported his eccentric exercise to the Abbot.

    The mediaeval monasteries seem to have been gently administered.
    Indeed, this has been made the chief reproach on them, and the
    excuse for robbing them for the benefit of a more energetic crown
    and nobility who tolerated no beggars or idleness but their own; at
    least, it is safe to say that few well-regulated and economically
    administered modern charities would have the patience of the Abbot
    of Clairvaux, who, instead of calling up the weak-minded tombeor and
    sending him back to the world to earn a living by his profession,
    went with his informant to the crypt, to see for himself what the
    strange report meant. We have seen at Chartres what a crypt may be,
    and how easily one might hide in its shadows while mass is said at
    the altars. The Abbot and his informant hid themselves behind a
    column in the shadow, and watched the whole performance to its end
    when the exhausted tumbler dropped unconscious and drenched with
    perspiration on the steps of the altar, with the words:--

    "Dame!" fait il, "ne puis plus ore;
    Mais voire je reviendrai encore."

    "Lady!" says he, "no more I can,
    But truly I'll come back again!"

    You can imagine the dim crypt; the tumbler lying unconscious beneath
    the image of the Virgin; the Abbot peering out from the shadow of
    the column, and wondering what sort of discipline he could inflict
    for this unforeseen infraction of rule; when suddenly, before he
    could decide what next to do, the vault above the altar, of its own
    accord, opened:--

    L'abes esgarde sans atendre
    Et vit de la volte descendre
    Une dame si gloriouse
    Ains nus ne vit si preciouse
    Ni si ricement conreee,
    N'onques tant bele ne fu nee.
    Ses vesteures sont bien chieres
    D'or et de precieuses pieres.

    Avec li estoient li angle
    Del ciel amont, et li arcangle,
    Qui entor le menestrel vienent,
    Si le solacent et sostienent.
    Quant entor lui sont arengie
    S'ot tot son cuer asoagie.
    Dont s'aprestent de lui servir
    Por ce qu'ils volrent deservir
    La servise que fait la dame
    Qui tant est precieuse geme.
    Et la douce reine france
    Tenoit une touaille blance,
    S'en avente son menestrel
    Mout doucement devant l'autel.
    La franc dame debonnaire
    Le col, le cors, et le viaire
    Li avente por refroidier;
    Bien s'entremet de lui aidier;
    La dame bien s'i abandone;
    Li bons hom garde ne s'en done,
    Car il ne voit, si ne set mie
    Qu'il ait si bele compaignie.

    The Abbot strains his eyes to see,
    And, from the vaulting, suddenly,
    A lady steps,--so glorious,--
    Beyond all thought so precious,--
    Her robes so rich, so nobly worn,--
    So rare the gems the robes adorn,--
    As never yet so fair was born.

    Along with her the angels were,
    Archangels stood beside her there;
    Round about the tumbler group
    To give him solace, bring him hope;
    And when round him in ranks they stood,
    His whole heart felt its strength renewed.
    So they haste to give him aid
    Because their wills are only made
    To serve the service of their Queen,
    Most precious gem the earth has seen.
    And the lady, gentle, true,
    Holds in her hand a towel new;
    Fans him with her hand divine
    Where he lies before the shrine.
    The kind lady, full of grace,
    Fans his neck, his breast, his face!
    Fans him herself to give him air!
    Labours, herself, to help him there!
    The lady gives herself to it;
    The poor man takes no heed of it;
    For he knows not and cannot see
    That he has such fair company.

    Beyond this we need not care to go. If you cannot feel the colour
    and quality--the union of naivete and art, the refinement, the
    infinite delicacy and tenderness--of this little poem, then nothing
    will matter much to you; and if you can feel it, you can feel,
    without more assistance, the majesty of Chartres.
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    Chapter 13
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