The Knight's Tale

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From Lydgate's The Siege of Thebes
And his song/ this auctour can yow teche,
Was no thyng / but the crafty speche
Of this kyng / ycalled Amphioun
And thus the wallis made of lym and stoon,
Were Reysed first be syngying of this kyng
Lich as Poetys feyne in her writyng
Passyng Rich and Royal of entaille.

(In The Siege of Thebes, John Lydgate imagines that he joins the Canterbury pilgrims at Canterbury, and he tells the story of the siege of Thebes which precedes the opening to The Knight's Tale.)

"In this aforesaid parliament, and in the twelfth year of King Richard's reign, he let cry and ordain general jousts, that is called a tournament, of lords, knights, and squires. And these jousts and tournaments were held at London in Smithfield, for all manner of strangers, of whatever land and country they were from, and thither they were right welcome; and to them and to all others was held open household and great feasts; and also great gifts were given to all manner of strangers. And they of the king's side were all of one suit: their coats, their armour, shields, and their horses and trappings--all was white harts, with crowns about their necks and chains of gold hanging thereupon, and the crown hanging low before the hart's body; the which hart was the king's livery that he gave to lords and ladies, knights and squires, to know his household from other people. And at this first coming to their jousts, 24 ladies led these 24 lords of the Garter with chains of gold, and all in the same suit of harts as was before said, from the Tower, on horseback through the city of London into Smithfield where the jousts were to be held. And this feast and jousts were held general, and to all those who wished to come, of whatever land or nation that ever they came from, and this was held during 24 days, at the king's own cost, and these 24 lords to answer to all manner of people that would come thither. And thither came the Earl of St. Poule of France, and many other worthy knights with him from diverse parts, full well arrayed. And out of Holland and Heinalt came the Lord Ostrenaunde, that was the Duke of Holland's son and many other worthy knights with him, both from Holland and Heinalt, full well arrayed. And when these feasts and jousts were done and ended, the King thanked these strangers and gave them many great gifts, and then they took their leave of the king and of other lords and ladies and went home again to their own countries, with great love and much thanks."
The Brut, or the Chronicles of England, ed. Friedrich W. D. Brie (London: Kegan Paul, Trench Trubner and Co., Ltd, 1908) E.E.T.S., vol 2, p. 343, translation mine.



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