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Geoffrey de la Tour-Landry fought in the Hundred Years' War at least as early as 1346 and as late as 1383. He wrote in 1371, for the instruction of his daughters, a book which became the most popular educational treatise of the Middle Ages. This "Book of the Knight of the Tower" was translated into German, and at least twice into English; it had passed through seven editions in the three languages before 1550. After Caxton's edition of 1483 there was none in English until it was reprinted in 1868 by T. Wright for the Early English Text Society, from a MS. of Henry VI's reign. It is from this edition that the following extract is taken.

(p. 41.)

Yet will I tell you what befel at the mass of the holy man, St Martin of Tours, and as he said mass there holp him St Brice, the which was his clerk and godson, that after St Martin was Archbishop of Tours, the which Brice took up a great laughing, and St Martin perceived it. And when the mass was done, St Martin asked him why he laughed, and he answered, that he saw the fiend write all the laughings that were between the women at the mass, and it happed that the parchment that he wrote in was short, and he plucked hard to have made it longer with his teeth, and it scaped out of his mouth, and his head had a great stroke against the wall, "and that made me to laugh." And when St Martin heard him, he knew that St Brice was an holy man. And he preached this to the women, and how it was a great peril and sin to speak and counsel of worldly matters at the mass or at God's service, and that it were better not to be there than to have such language and clattering. And yet some clerks sustain that none should not speak no manner thing while they be at mass, and especial at the gospel, nor at the "per omnia" (1); and therefore, daughters, here is an example how ye shall hold you humble and devout in the church, and for no thing have no jangling with nobody while ye are at the mass, nor while ye serve God.

(1) Part of the Canon of the mass, designated by its first words.

(Coulton I, p.189-190)

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Copyright: McMaster University, 2000