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.
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.
of the Canon of the mass, designated by its first words.