Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
A Great House in France
By George Cavendish (c. 15001561)
THEN it was determined that the king and my lord should remove out of Amiens, and so they did, to a town or city called Compeigne, which was more than twenty English miles from thence; unto which town I was sent to prepare my lords lodging. And as I rode on my journey, being upon a Friday, my horse chanced to cast a shoe in a little village where stood a fair castle. And as it chanced there dwelt a smith, to whom I commanded my servant to carry my horse to shoe, and standing by him while my horse was a-shoeing, there came to me one of the servants of the castle, perceiving me to be the cardinals servant and an Englishman, who required me to go with him into the castle to my lord his master, whom he thought would be very glad of my coming and company. Whose request I granted, because that I was always desirous to see and be acquainted with strangers, in especial with men in honour and authority, so I went with him; who conducted me unto the castle, and being entered in the first ward, the watchmen of that ward, being very honest tall men, came and saluted me most reverently, and knowing the cause of my coming, desired me to stay a little while until they had advertised my lord their master of my being there; and so I did. And incontinent the lord of the castle came out to me, who was called Monsieur Crequi, a nobleman born, and very nigh of blood to King Louis, the last king that reigned before this King Francis. And at his first coming he embraced me, saying that I was right heartily welcome, and thanked me that I so gently would visit him and his castle, saying furthermore that he was preparing to encounter the king and my lord, to desire them most humbly the next day to take his castle in their way, if he could so intreat them. And true it is that he was ready to ride in a coat of velvet with a pair of velvet arming shoes on his feet, and a pair of gilt spurs on his heels. Then he took me by the hand, and most gently led me into his castle, through another ward. And being once entered into the base court of the castle, I saw all his family and household servants standing in goodly order, in black coats and gowns, like mourners, who led me into the hall, which was hanged with hand-guns, as thick as one could hang by another upon the walls; and in the hall stood an hawks perch, whereon stood three or four fair goshawks. Then went we into the parlour, which was hanged with fine old arras, and being there but a while, communing together of my Lord of Suffolk, how he was there to have besieged the same, his servants brought to him bread and wine of divers sorts, whereof he caused me to drink. And after, I will, quoth he, show you the strength of my house, how hard it would have been for my Lord of Suffolk to have won it. Then led he me upon the walls, which were very strong, more than fifteen foot thick, and well garnished with great battery pieces of ordnance ready charged to be shot off against the king and my lords coming.
When he had showed me all the walls and bulwarks about the castle, he descended from the walls, and came down into a fair inner court, where his genet stood for to mount upon, with twelve other genets, the most fairest and best that I ever saw, and in especial his own, which was a mare genet, he showed me that he might have had for her four hundred crowns. But upon the other twelve genets were mounted twelve goodly young gentlemen, called pages of honour; all bare-headed, in coats of cloth of gold, and black velvet cloaks, and on their legs boots of red Spanish leather, and spurs parcel gilt.
Then he took his leave of me, commanding his steward and other his gentlemen to attend upon me, and conduct me unto my lady his wife to dinner. And that done he mounted upon his genet, and took his journey forth out of his castle. Then the steward, with the rest of the gentlemen, led me up into a tower in the gatehouse, where then my lady their mistress lay, for the time that the king and my lord should tarry there.
I being in a fair great dining chamber, where the table was covered for dinner, and there I attended my ladys coming; and after she came thither out of her own chamber, she received me most gently, like one of noble estate, having a train of twelve gentlewomen. And when she with her train came all out, she said to me, Forasmuch, quoth she, as ye be an Englishman, whose custom is in your country to kiss all ladies and gentlewomen without offence, and although it be not so here in this realm, yet will I be so bold to kiss you, and so shall all my maidens. By means whereof I kissed my lady and all her women. Then went she to her dinner, being as nobly served as I have seen any of her estate here in England, having all the dinner time with me pleasant communication, which was of the usage and behaviour of our gentlewomen and gentlemen of England, and commended much the behaviour of them, right excellently; for she was with the king at Ardres, when the great encounter and meeting was between the French king and the king our sovereign lord: at which time she was, both for her person and goodly haviour, appointed to company with the ladies of England. To be short, after dinner, pausing a little, I took my leave of her, and so departed and rode on my journey.