| Page, Esquire, and Knight|
|by Marion Florence Lansing|
|Presents the best stories of all periods of chivalry, from the days of the founding of the Round Table to the death of Chevalier Bayard. It sets forth in simple story form the development and progress of knighthood from the time of St. George, who won his spurs by killing the dragon, to the founding, a thousand years later, of the order which bore his name and embodied in its ritual the highest ceremonial of chivalry. With its explanation of the meaning of the degrees of knighthood, its description of quests and tourneys, and its outline of the great events of chivalry, this volume will serve as a good introduction to the later reading of Arthurian and other romances, and of the history of Charlemagne's wars and the crusades. Ages 10-12 |
"Some doubted its historic truth,
But while they doubted, ne'ertheless
Saw in it gleams of truthfulness."
The chronicles, romances, and histories cited below are the sources from which the stories of individual heroes have
been drawn, but these were written for contemporary readers who were familiar with the customs and standards of
knighthood. In order to present clear and vivid pictures of the scenes and ceremonies of a knightly career, it has been
necessary to consult many treatises on chivalric orders which cannot here be mentioned.
Page 5. The Drawing of the Sword.
The story of the miraculous appearance of the sword and of the coming of the boy king is told from the version in
Malory's Morte D'Arthur. The material from which Arthurian legends are drawn is so varied in character, and often so
unsuitable for children, that the writer must do as did the story tellers of old,—treat it as a storehouse out of which
he may draw that which suits his individual need and purpose. In the present tales the symbolism of Malory and Tennyson
has been kept in the background, and King Arthur has been presented in what is his rightful guise as regards the
development of chivalry, as a strong and noble king, divinely appointed, and gladly received by the people, who proved
himself more than worthy of the choice.
Page 15. The Founding of the Round Table.
A combination of Malory and Tennyson which preserves the simplicity of the former and the idealism of the latter.
 Page 21. Perceval.
The stories of Malory and Tennyson, the usual source books for tales of King Arthur's knights, are so closely interwoven
one with another, and all with the Grail legend, that it has seemed best to give the stories of two of the noblest
knights of the Round Table, the tales of Perceval and of Gawain, as they are found in other and simpler Arthurian
romance. The story of Perceval has won for itself a place among the world's great tales. It is the best of a cycle of
romances in which a young hero is brought up in the forest in ignorance of the world and its ways. An English minstrel
tells in quaint verse and simple, direct fashion the story of Syr Percyvelle, and his poem is the basis for our version.
But much is introduced in the way of detail and setting from the more elaborate romances of Chretien de Troyes and
Wolfram von Eschenbach, as well as from Marie de France's Lay of Tyolet. The return of the hero to his mother is a
pleasing feature found only in the original English Perceval legend.
Page 46. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
"Of all the heroes of British Romance," writes Dr. W. II. Schofield, "Gawain is the most admirable and most interesting.
In the early poems of the cycle he is invariably represented as the mirror of courtesy, a truly noble knight, without
fear or reproach." he is "gay, gracious, and good," the beloved of all. Of this cycle of which he is the hero, Dr.
Schofield goes on to say that Sir Gawayne and the Grene Knight, the old English poem of 2500 lines on which our tale is
based, "is incomparably the best of the English romances, and one of the finest in any language." We have followed as
closely as possible the quaint and delightful style of the author, and have found the story especially valuable for use
in this collection because it gives a perfect picture of King Arthur's hall in holiday time, of the way adventures came
to his knights without the seeking, and of a typical quest of the best type. A more charming picture of knightly life it
would be hard to find.
Page 75. The Passing of Arthur.
The causes of the downfall of the Round Table are here lightly touched upon. Verse in this and the other tales of Arthur
is adapted from Tennyson.
 Page 79. Roland, a Knight of France.
Roland is a hero of Italy as well as of France, and it is from Italian literature that we take the tale of his
childhood. His first experience on the battle field comes from the old English romance of Ogier the Dane, and the
incident of his combat with Oliver is found in the French account of the revolt of Guerin de Montglave against
Charlemagne. Together the three chapters give an interesting account of the beginning of his famous knightly career, and
present an opportunity to recount the ceremonies of dubbing a knight and to tell of the friendship between Roland and
Oliver. The Charlemagne cycle is most confused and difficult of access to modern readers.
Page 101. A Steed! A Steed!
From Motherwell's Ancient Minstrelsy.
Page 103. The Battle of Ronceval.
This story is much abridged from the Chanson de Roland; the selections in verse are adapted from the beautiful
translation of John O'Hagan. This is one of the classics of literature as well as of chivalry.
Page 125. Godfrey, a Knight of the Crusades.
Michaud's History of the Crusades and Caxton's reprint of William of Tyre's history of Godfrey de Bouillon are the
sources for the stories of the beginnings of the first Crusade and of its hero Godfrey. The chronicles of that period
are vivid and picturesque.
Page 143. The Troubadour. An old song of crusading days.
Page 144. The Order of St. George.
The story of St. George and the dragon is told in prose in the histories of the seven champions of Christendom, and in
verse in a ballad in Percy's Reliques. The account of the founding of the Order of St. George is given in Froissart and
other chroniclers. This is the period when chivalry as an institution attained its highest perfection.
Page 155. Chevalier Bayard.
Bayard was fortunate in having a "loyal servitor," who set forth the history of his master's life in admiring and
entertaining fashion. There are several modern French and English translations of this ancient book, which gives a good
picture of medieval life in the period when, as Ben Jonson puts it, "every house became an academy of honor,"
 and when the training of page, esquire, and knight was the ideal method of education, for where could he better
"learn to vault, to ride, to fence,
To move his body grace fuller, to speak
His language purer, or to tune his mind
Or manners more to the harmony of nature,
Than in these nurseries of nobility?"
Another picture of ideal chivalry is given in this ballad from the French of Eustace Decamps, a poet of the fourteenth
century. The English version is from Guizot's History of France.
"Amend your lives, ye who would fain
The order of the knights attain;
Devoutly watch, devoutly pray;
From pride and sin, oh, turn away!
Shun all that's base; the Church defend;
Be the widow's and the orphan's friend;
Be good and ideal; take naught by might;
Be bold and guard the people's right;—
This is the rule for the gallant knight.
Be meek of heart; work day by day;
Tread, ever tread, the knightly way;
Make lawful war; long travel dare;
Tourney and joust for lady fair;
To everlasting honor cling,
That none the barbs of blame may fling;
Be never slack in work or fight;
Be ever least in self's own sight;—
This is the rule for the gallant knight.
Love the liege lord; with might and main
His rights above all else maintain;
Be open handed, just and true;
The paths of upright men pursue;
No deaf ear to their precepts turn; T
he prowess of the valiant learn;
That ye may do things great and bright,
As did Great Alexander bight;—
This is the rule for the gallant knight."
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