ADULT LIFE: MEN Florilegium Urbanum

Keywords: medieval occupations standards morality ethics manners society behaviour officers labourers nerchants artisans women smiths scribes lawyers physicians surgeons apothecaries cloth industry taverns inns gambling commerce tolls literacy books Caxton
Subject: The exercise and moral standards of trades and occupations
Original source: 1. Original edition of William Caxton's Dialogues in French and English, Ripon Cathedral Library. 2. 2nd edition of William Caxton's The Game and Playe of the Chesse, British Library.
Transcription in: Henry Bradley, ed. Dialogues in French and English by William Caxton, London: Early English Text Society, 1900, 3-4,25, 31-44, 46. 2. Isaac Pitman, ed., The Game of the Chesse: a moral treatise on the duties of life, Bath, 1872, 29-58.
Original language: Middle English
Location: generalized
Date: 1483


[1. A catalogue of trades and occupations]

He who wishes to learn from this book
May well venture to transport
Merchandize from one country to another
and to familiarize himself with
Wares worth buying,
Or selling, so as to become rich.
Study this book diligently,
For it will literally prove profitable.


So I shall write for you
Of various matters,
All sorts of things,
First one thing, then another;
Which chapter
I will conclude with
The names of men and of women,
Ordered alphabetically,
And the names of crafts
Of which you may hear.


Beatrice the laundress
Shall come here after dinner.
Give her then the linen cloths;
She will wash them clean.


Colard the goldsmith
Has undertaken to make
A girdle for me –
A girdle fastened
With silver, weighing 40 pence –
And a triacle box.

Cyprien the weaver
Has promised to weave
Me a cloth
Tomorrow or the day after.
"When was the thread taken there?"
"Yesterday or the day before."
Yesteryear, or before then,
It would not have been woven
For as much as it costs today,
Nor so quickly.

Colard the fuller
Knows how to full cloth well.
So I wish him to full;
Yet he is very dangerous.

Conrad the sherman,
His task is to shear.
He charges four mites per ell
Since the shermen
Became enfranchised.

Katherine the kempster
Was hired just now for money.
She swore upon her faith
That no-one ever combed
Wool as well as she;
For which she will be well paid.

Cecile the spinster
Accompanied her.
She has much good to say about yarn
That is spun with the distaff.
But yarn
That is spun on the wheel
Has so many lumps
That it is a marvel to behold!

Colombe the halting
Went away from here in bad temper
Because I would have kissed her,
But I couldn't muster the desire;
She cursed me
And I cursed her back.

Clement and his stepdaughter Clemence
Were scolding each other;
She said neither stepfather
Nor stepmother ever treated her well,
He reproved her for having found
Her wrestling with a boy.

Blind Clare
Goes for her bread
To where alms are given out;
In the days when she could see
She was reluctant to ask for it,
So they feel sorry for her.

Clarisse the burler
Knows her craft well
"When did she learn
how to burl cloth?"
"What do you mean?
She learned it from the cradle.
She has to do it well
So that she can earn a lot,
For she is very lecherous."

David the lorimer
Is a good workman
Who makes saddles,
Bridles, spurs,
And related items.

Denis the furbisher
Has from me a sword
That cuts very well,
A knife with a point;
A sword
That he has to furbish for me.

Damian the armourer
Will sell me a breastplate
A bascinet,
A haubergeon,
A gorget,
Gloves of iron.

Donat the doublet maker
Has put together my doublet
And my jacket.

Eustace the tailor
Has so much cutting to do
Because of his diligence
Towards his customers,
(So that he can deliver their clothes
On the date he promised)
That he does not rest
Night or day;
He has plenty of aches,
But then without great pain
He cannot deliver to people
That which he has promised them.

Everard the upholsterer
Knows well how to patch up
A mantle that has holes,
To full again, card again,
Clean again a gown,
And all old cloth.

Elias the painter
Has been re-housed after removing
From where he used to live.
He has delayed so long
In dyeing my cloth
That I shall suffer a loss from it.
What colour will he dye it?
That of brasil, or of galles.
He will stain it presently.
Or I will do it with bark.

Stephen the glazier
Requested that he do a good job.
So thank him
When you see him,
For it is the proper thing to do.

Ermentin lies on his sick-bed;
Speak softly.
They will take some of his urine
To master Alfranke.
See that the urinal
Is clean and clear;
And if it is dirty,
Wipe out the inside.

Francis the draper
Possesses considerable wealth.
He makes good use of it;
He gladly gives some of it for God's sake,
He visits those who are unwell
Or are prisoners,
And he counsels widows
And orphans.

Firmin the taverner
Has two tuns of must
Of which he has offered me
The loan, if I have need of them.
Send to fetch them;
It's easy to swallow.

Frederick the wine crier
Declares that it is well worth
The price for which it is sold;
He knows what he's talking about –
He drinks enough of it!

Fierin the baker
Sells white bread and brown.
Stored in his granary he has
A hundred quarters of corn.
He buys punctually at the allotted hour,
So that he needs nothing
From the dear market.

Forcker the cordwainer
Works more leather
Than do three others,
So many sales he makes
Of shoes and galoshes.

Ferraunt the hosier
Makes hose so misshapen
And so poorly sewn
That I cannot recommend anyone
Buy hose from him.

Philpot the scabby
Stole from her master
A forcer
In which there were
Many orfrayes
And ribbons of silk
And of fustian,
So that he had her arrested
And put in prison.
Consequently she had
Her ear cut off,
Prompting her to threaten
To kill her master.
Whatever may come of it,
Everyone should honour their commitments!

Felicia the silkwoman
Makes very many purses
And pauteners of silk,
For she is a mistress of the craft.

Gilbert the bowyer
Makes the bows and arrows
That the crossbowmen shoot.

Gerard the miller,
If you believe what people say,
Steals half
Of the corn or meal
Of those who
Bring it to him for grinding.
He doesn't steal half –
Just a little from every sack.

Gervase the scrivener
Is skilled at writing charters,
Grants of privileges, [legal] instruments,
[Acknowledgements of] debts and receipts,
Testaments, and making copies.
He is good at calculations
And rendering accounts
Of all rents –
Whether held for life
Or inheritable –
And all farms.
He is a very profitable man
To have at your service.
That which he writes down
He keeps secret.
This is the most noble craft
In all the world;
There is none so exalted
Or so noble
(So as to put it to shame)
To learn or to carry out.
If it were not for writing,
Law and religion would be lost
And all the holy scripture
Would be forgotten.
Therefore all true Christian men
Ought to have it taught
To their children and kin,
And ought themselves to know how.
Or otherwise, without fail,
God shall hold them accountable
And take vengeance on them;
For ignorance
Will be no excuse.
Let every man acquit himself
As he would answer for!

Gombert the butcher
Lives beside the butchery.
He sells meat well enough
To support himself;
For I knew him when so poor
That he had nothing
To put in his mouth.
Therefore it is a good thing
To know a good craft.

Guy the fishmonger
Has done at least as well,
Judging from his house.
He sells all kinds
Of saltwater fish
And freshwater fish
(which have been listed
in another place, below,
In this book).

Gabriel the linen-weaver
Is weaving me a linen cloth
From thread of flax
And of touwe.
I don't have the woof
Or the warp [to do it myself].
Is it completed?
Yes, since Thursday
It has been woven
And ready for bleaching.

Ghislain the basket-maker
Has sold his fans,
His baskets or corffes,
His cleansing sieves.

Guerin the kettle-maker
Has been to a good fair;
There he has sold
Plenty of pots and pans
Worth a penny each, the which
I shall not name,
For they are identified
In another of the chapters.

George the book-seller
Has more books
Than everyone else in the town.
He buys them all,
Such as they be,
Whether stolen, borrowed
Or otherwise purchased.
He has doctrinals, catons,
Hours of Our Lady,
donets, parts, accidences,
Well-illuminated psalters
Bound with silver clasps,
Books of physic,
Seven psalms, calendars,
Ink and parchment,
Swan-quill pens,
Goose-quill pens,
Good breviaries
Which are worth good money.

Gervase the smith
Is much richer.
But still he charges three-ha'ppence
On the loan of a pound.

Gertrude the sister of Gilbert
Is dead and gone;
Pray for her soul.
When did she pass away?
Just now.
God forgive her
Her sins and her trespasses.
We shall attend on her corpse
Tomorrow at the [funeral] service.

Henry the painter
Is painting my shield
In various colours.
With good reason
Am I pleased with him.

John the usurer
Has loaned out so much
That he has lost count
Of all the wealth
He has so vilely amassed.
He charges fourpence
On the loan of a pound.

Kylian and his fellows,
For their merits,
Are saints in paradise
Where there is joy without end.

Lambert the carpenter
Has made a contract with me
To make for my castle
A ground-floor courtyard and a barn,
He is required to construct it
with well-worked timber;
And the stairs,
and all shaped timbers,
Must he supply himself.

Laurence the mason
Has taken on the masonry work
And will bring the workmen;
There have been bought
Good stones of marble,
The windows will be of alabaster,
But the lime has not yet been measured out.

Lewin the brewer
Brews much more ale
Than he can sell;
For he is renowned
For bad-quality drink.
So he often has to
Give it to his pigs.

Lamfrey the tiler
Covered the steeple
With scales – that is, tiles –
As best he knew how;
Nevertheless it has been
Uncovered by the wind.

Leonard the thatcher
Has covered my little house
With straw and with reeds.
The laths that he bought
Are worthless.
He made the walls
And daubed them with earth,
Acting then as a dauber.

Logier the felter
Has many goods hats
Of beaver and of felt.

Lucian the glover
Sits beside me,
Making gloves from deer-skin,
Or that of dog or sheep.

Leon the purse-maker
Has purses and pauteners
That the children buy,
And well-made pouches.

Lucy the bastard
Is a ne'er-do-well,
For she bad-mouths those
Who have tried to help her.

Martin the grocer
Sells many spices,
All kinds of powders
With which to make broths,
And has many decorated boxes
Full of confections,
And many pots
Full of drinks.

Morris the surgeon
Involves himself in healing
Wounds, sores, and apostomes
With ointments
And with plasters;
He can cut out stones
And heal hernias and gravel
With potions.

Maximian the physician
Looks at people's urine.
He knows how to tell
The nature of their illness:
Whether a headache,
Sore eyes,
Ear pain,
Or if they have toothache,
[Pain] in the breast.
He can heal or cure
Dropsy, the bloody flux,
Tesyke, mortmal,
Feet, nails,
Quartan and tertian fever,
And jaundice
(God protect us from such),
And anything
That may make us unwell.
He gives advice about gout
And other sicknesses.
He has many good herbs.

Mable the shepster
Performs her work very well;
She makes surplices,
Shirts, breeches,
Kerchiefs, and all that
Can be made
From linen cloth.

Maud the maker of head-coverings
Operates prudently;
Her headdresses are not sold cheap,
But she sews each with two seams.

Nicholas the mustard-maker
Has good vinegar,
Good verjuice, good mustard,
Galantine sauce,
Black pepper,
Good gauselyn.

Natalie the stewe wife
Keeps a good stewe.
The most satisfying in the city;
All the visitors
Go there to be stewed.
She lives
Beyond the walls of the White Friars.

Oliver the broker
Through brokerage can gain
With a single God's penny
Twenty or thirty pounds.

Oberol the hosteler
Receives all the good guests;
He has the Germans
(Whom people call Easterlings)
Poitevins, Frenchmen,
Englishmen, Brabanters,
Flemings, Lombards,
Spaniards, Portuguese,
Genoese, Scots,
Hainaulters, Dutch,
Danes, and men of Friesland.

Onorée; the keeper of the tower
Is custodian of the prison;
That is where the prisoners are.
There are thieves, murderers,
Counterfeiters of coin, robbers,
Those who rape women,
Some will be hung,
Others drawn,
While some will be broken on wheels;
Those who cut purses
Will have their ears cut off.
Bussin has been named
As hangman of Bruges.
Once evil-doers
Have admitted their evil deeds,
They belong to him.
God protect us
From his ministrations!
Bailiffs, scouts,
Some of the scabins,
Ride in escort
To where they are put to death,
And the sergeants are also in attendance.
Those who escape [death]
Are banished from the land,
Upon pain of being hanged.

Ogier the falconer
Brought falcons,
Gerfalcons from the Ardennes,
That he will sell at Montpellier.

Ogier the poulterer
Has plenty of birds
Which are neither too fat
Nor too lean.

Peter the wool-beater
Is idle at present,
For his dean
Has forbidden him to perform his craft,
upon threat of a fine of 20 shillings,
Until he has
Purchased his franchise.
He will make a complaint
To the burgomeister
And the wardens of the craft,
But nothing will come of it.

Paul the cooper
Makes and repairs tubs,
Barrels, and vessels
That leak or drip.

Paulin the corn-measurer
Has measured so much
Corn and maslin
That he can do it no longer, because of age;
He has gone grey.
He gives to each his measure.
Pierrette his god-daughter
Is the biggest shrew of a girl
That I know of this side of the sea.

Quentin the toll-collector
Has taken from me
A pound of groats
More than he ought to take
For the correct toll.
So I shall go off
To the receiver
To enquire about my rights.

Querin the dice-maker
Sells his dice
To whomever he wishes, for cash.
It is good merchandize.

Robert the messenger
Has been sent to the king
With two pair of letters
Sealed with the king's seal.

Roberta the hecklester
Has run out of hemp
And has lost her heckle;
So she'll sell her flax.

Richard the carter
Will transport dung to my land
Once it is ploughed,
Onto my garden
Once it has been dug,
And into the orchard
[to be spread] Around the trees.

Roland the workman
Will make me a close,
With a hedge around it.

Roger the sexton
Is at Avignon
Trying to get
A benefice: an independent chapel;
We'll see if it pleases God.

Reyner the squire
Is off jousting
At the tourney,
In very renowned company.
He has my courser,
My palfrey, my steed,
And my lances:
He'll win the prize.

Randolph the money-changer
Has stationed himself in the exchange for 30 years
There is so much desire for money
That folk put themselves in peril
Of damnation.
It is great folly
To exchange eternal bliss
For fleeting worldly pleasures.

Walter the paternoster-maker
Sold, at the consecration,
Crystalline beads
En masse, by the dozen,
Of amber, of glass, and of horn.

William the brush-maker
Sells brushes at his leisure.
Oh dear! I wish
He was more professional about it.

Valerian the tawyer
Has a big advantage
Over those who sell leather,
For he does the tawing himself.

Walram the currier
Carries on a foul craft.
He stinks up the house,
Currying his hides
With herring grease.

Vedast the greyworker
Sold milady, some while back,
A pelisse made of grey-work
And some good furs.

Walburga the pelterer
Fixes up a pelisse nicely;
So does her husband.

Xpristrian the collar-maker
Is making me a collar;
Then I shall have two collars
For my plough-horses.
His daughter Xpristina,
Has complained that the locksmith
Denies being
The father of her child.

Ysores the joiner
Made for my love a forcer –
Her chest with a shrine.

Ysaac the vintner
Is to go to the vineyard;
He wants me to have some grapes.
He'll find enough of them
On the vines.

Ysaac the kettle-maker
Has four kettles for sale,
Each of twelve gallons capacity,
For forty groats apiece.
And our good chandler
Is offering four tallow candles
For a penny apiece.

Zachary the proctor
Has brought me a summons,
For I have been summoned in
Jerome the barber's name;
I shall plead against him.

Joss the parchment-maker
Has sold me a membrane of parchment
Which is badly flawed,
And a cover of franchin
Shaved on one side
Which is worthless,
As I could not write on it.
Go fetch me a pumice,
Some of the best paper,
My penknife, and my scissors.
I shall write a love letter
And send it to my love.
I am very weary
Of all these names to identify
So many crafts,
So many occupations, so many services;
I'm going to take a break.

2. Book 3: Concerning the roles of the common people

Chapter 1: the role of labourers and workmen

Since noblemen cannot rule or govern without the service and work of the people, it is necessary to describe the tasks and functions of labourers. So I shall begin with the first pawn set out in the game of chess, which represents a man of the common people, on foot. For they are all called "piétons", which is the same thing as saying footmen. We begin with the pawn which stands in front of the rook on the right-hand side of the king, since this pawn is associated with service to the king's vicar or lieutenant and other officials under him [furnishing him] with victuals and necessaries. This kind of person ought to be envisaged in the form and shape of a man holding a spade or shovel in his right hand and a rod in the left hand. The spade or shovel is for digging and working in the earth, and the rod is for driving and directing animals to their pasture; also he should have in his girdle a sharp or crooked hatchet for trimming vines and trees.

We read in the Bible that the very first labourer was Cain, the elder son of Adam, who was so evil that he killed his brother Abel, because the smoke from his tithes went straight to Heaven, while the smoke and fumes of Cain's tithes headed downward upon the Earth. Regardless of how true this reason was, there was another cause of the envy he had of his brother. For when their father Adam married them off, in order to propagate his line throughout the land, he would not marry or join together pairs that were born at the same time, but gave to Cain she who was born with Abel, and to Abel she who was born with Cain; and this gave rise to Cain's envy of Abel, for his wife was fairer than Cain's. For this reason he killed Abel with the cheekbone of an animal, for at that time there was no kind of iron [implement] that could draw human blood. So Abel was the first martyr of the Old Testament. And this Cain did many other evil things, which I will not relate, for it is not pertinent to my theme. But it is required out of necessity that some should work the earth, consequent to the sin of Adam; because before Adam sinned the earth brought forth fruit without any manual labour, but after he sinned it has to be worked by the hands of men. For the earth is the mother of all things, and we were first formed and had our origin from the earth; and so it is at the last: she is the final destination of all of us and of all things. And God who created us from the earth has ordained that through the labour of men she should provide nourishment to all who live.

So, first, the tiller of the soil ought to acknowledge his God, who made Heaven and Earth out of nothing, ought to be loyal and truthful, and ought to attend to his labours without fear of death. And he ought to give thanks to He who made him and from whom he receives all his earthly goods, which sustain his life. And he has the obligation to pay the dîmes and tithes of all his things – not as Cain did but as Abel did, selecting always from the best to give to God, in order to please Him. For those who begrudge and feel aggrieved for having to surrender and give to God a tenth of their goods should be fearful, lest they fall into poverty, or they are deprived and robbed [of their goods] through war taking place or a great storm occurring in their region. Should that happen we should not be surprised, for that man is disagreeable to God who believes that the increase of his earthly goods comes as a result of the virtues of his own intelligence or decisions, rather than solely by the provision of He who made all, and which can by the same hand be quickly taken away from he who proves disagreeable. It is only fitting that when a man is fortunate enough to have an abundance of goods, but ignores God from whom they come, then he will experience another kind of fortune through which he will need to obtain grace and forgiveness, and to acknowledge his God.

We read of King David, who was at first undistinguished and one of the common people, that when fortune had lifted him up and put him in a high position he forsook and forgot his God, and committed adultery and homicide and other sins. Shortly after which his own son Absalom attacked and began to persecute him. Then, when he saw that fortune had turned against him, he resumed his virtuous behaviour, and returned once more to the God whose pardon he required. We read too of the children of Israel who faced famine in the desert and, in great hunger and thirst, prayed to ask God for relief; He then altered His will and sent them manna and meat. And once they were replenished and full from the fat and meat of animals and from the manna, they made a golden calf and worshipped it. Which was an iniquitous sin, for when they were hungry they acknowledged God, but when their bellies were filled and swelling they forged idols and were idol-worshippers.

This teaches that every labourer should be faithful and true, so that when his master assigns to him the land that he must work, that he take [from it] nothing for himself except that which he ought to have and belongs to him, but labours honestly and performs his duties with care, on behalf of his master, and is more diligent in the work he performs for his master than that he does for himself. For the lives of the greatest and most noble (after God) lie in the hands of the labourers. Thus, all crafts and occupations are designed not only to provide for their own needs, but for the community. And so it is often the case that workers of the land consume the coarser and cruder foodstuffs, and deliver to their masters the more delicate and dainty foods. Valerius relates in his sixth book that there was a wise and a noble master called Antonius who was accused in a case of adultery and, when the case went before the court, his accusers or denouncers brought a labourer who worked his land, saying that when his master went to commit the adultery that same servant carried the lantern. Which greatly dismayed Antonius, because he doubted he could present arguments against that witness. But the labourer, who was named Papirion, said to his master that he should vigorously defend himself before the judges, for even under torture he would never give evidence against him, nor would he say anything which would bring harm or grief to him. And then the labourer was beaten, tortured, and burned on many parts of his body. But he never said anything that caused harm or grief to his master. Those who accused his master were punished, and Papirion was set free from the torture.

Valerius also tells how there was another labourer, named Penapion, who served a master named Themes and was wonderfully faithful to him. For it happened that certain knights came to his master's house to kill him. As soon as Papirion discovered this he went into his master's chamber, and disguised himself in his in his master's gown and put his ring on his finger, and lay on his bed, thus putting himself at risk of death in order to save his master's life. But these days we see many fools who disdain to consume the rough foods of labourers and avoid their coarse clothing and the manners of a servant. Every wise man – a servant who serves his master honestly – is free, not enslaved; but a fool who is excessively proud is a slave. For a feeble and debilitated courage whose good conscience is broken by pride, envy, or covetousness is a true servitude.

Yet they ought not hesitate to labour out of fear or dread of dying; no man should love life too much. For it is a foul thing for a man to be hastened towards death by the desire to be alive. A wise and strong man ought not to flee for his life, but to go forth. For there is no man that lives who will not have to die. Claudian speaks of this, saying that all things that go through the air, all things that are produced out of the earth, all things that are in the sea, all things that the floods bring forth, all things that must eat, and all things under the heavens, shall depart this world. And all shall leave when He commands. That includes kings, princes, and everyone who is part of and moves about the world; all shall pass. So no-one ought to hesitate out of fear of death. For the rich are as subject to death as are the poor. Death is a leveller that brings everyone to the same end. He made a fine poem on the subject two verses of which follow: [ Latin quotation ...] of which the English is "Beauty, lineage, manners, wisdom, things, and honours / Shall be brought to ruin by the abruptness of death, / nothing enduring but one's achievements."

On that matter we find in the Vitas Patrum that there was an earl, a rich and noble man, who had only one son; and when this son was old enough to understand the law, he heard in a sermon that death spares no-one, that the young die as well as the old, and that we should avoid being worried about death for three particular reasons. One being that no man knows when it will come; nor, secondly, in what state a man will be when taken; and thirdly, he never knows where he will go afterwards. Therefore every man should despise and avoid worldliness, but live well, and hold to God. When that young man heard these things, he left his own land and sought refuge in a hermitage in the wilderness. His father felt great sorrow at losing him, and made enquiries and sought him so earnestly that at last he was located in the hermitage. Then his father came there to him and said: "Dear son, come away from here. After my death you will be earl and head of the family; I shall be lost if you do not quit this place." And the other, who wished only to avoid the anger of his father, thought awhile and said: "Dear father, there is in your country and land a very evil custom. If you are willing to annul it, I will gladly leave this place and go with you." The father was glad and rejoiced, and asked him what it was; if he would tell him, he promised to annul it, and it would be abandoned. Then the other said: "Dear father, in your country not only the old, but also young folk die; do away with that, I beg you." When his father heard that he said: "Dear son, that cannot be; no man can ever prevent that, but only God." The son answered the father: "Then I will serve Him and live here with He who can do that." And so the son remained in the hermitage and spent his life on good works.

The next [duty] that pertains to a labourer is to attend to his work and avoid idleness. You should know that in the Psalter David gives much praise to honest labourers, saying: "Thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands, blessed shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee." It is necessary for the labourer to attend to his labour on work-days in order to collect and gather together the fruits of his labour; but he ought to rest on the holy day, both he and his animals. Also, a good labourer should feed and look after his animals; this is signified by the rod he holds, which is for leading and driving them to the pasture. The first herder that ever existed was Abel, who was just and honest, and offered up his animals to God as a sacrifice; him the labourer should imitate in behaviour and manners. But no man who adopts the malice of Cain may follow Abel.

It thus pertains to the labourer to plant and graft trees and vines and also to tend them and cut them down. So did Noah, who was the first to plant vines after the Deluge and Flood. For, as Josephus relates in his book on natural things, Noah was the one who first discovered vines, but he found them bitter and wild. Therefore he took four kinds of blood – that is, the blood of a lion, the blood of a lamb, the blood of a pig, and the blood of an ape – and mixed them all into the earth; and then he cut the vine and spread this [earth] around its roots, with the aim of getting rid of the bitterness and making it sweet. And when he drank the fruit of this vine it was so good and potent that he became so drunk that he became dishevelled in such a fashion that his private parts could be seen, and his youngest son Ham made mock and was scornful of him. Once Noah had awoken and was sober and abstemious, he assembled his sons and explained to them the nature of the vine and its wine; he told them the reason why he had put the blood of animals around the roots of the vine, so that they should understand that sometimes the strength of the wine could make men as brave and as fierce as a lion, and sometimes as simple and shy as a lamb, as lecherous as a pig, or as curious and playful as an ape. For the ape's nature is such that when he sees one do something it encourages him to do the same, and so do many [people] when they are drunk: they will meddle in duties and matters that have nothing to do with them, albeit that when they are abstemious and sober they can scarcely carry out their own tasks. In that regard Valerian relates that in ancient times women drank no wine, since through drunkenness they might succumb to vile or evil behaviours. As Ovid says, wine sometimes bolsters the courageous in such a way that they are susceptible to all sins which counteract the desire to do good. They make the poor, while they have wine in their heads, feel rich, and soon drunkenness becomes the root of all evils, corrupting the body, destroying the soul, and squandering earthly goods. This is enough said of the labourer.

Chapter 2: concerning the form and nature of the second pawn, and of the nature of a smith

The second pawn, which stands in front of the knight on the right-hand side of the king, has the form and figure of a man as a smith, which makes sense. For it is required for knights to have bridles, saddles, spurs and many other things manufactured by smiths. He ought to hold a hammer in his right hand, and in his left hand a square, and he should have a trowel in his girdle; for these signify all kinds of workmen. Goldsmiths, marshals, smiths who work at forges, forgers and makers of money, and all kinds of smiths are symbolized by the martel, or hammer. Carpenters are symbolized by the dolaber or square, and by the trowel we envisage all masons, stone-carvers, tilers, and all those who build castles, houses, and towers. It is required that all these craftsmen be honest, wise, and strong, and it is necessary that they have the traits of fidelity and loyalty. For it falls to the goldsmiths [to work] gold and silver; and to others iron, steel, and all other metals. And to carpenters and masons all edifices in which are put the persons and possessions of people. Men also place in the hands of mariners the persons and possessions of people, committing to such body and soul to look after and safeguard from the peril of the sea. Therefore those to whom men commit such a great charge and such important things, on the basis of faith and trust, ought to be honest. Consequently the philosopher says that "he who loses his faith and belief can lose nothing greater or more important." For Faith is a supreme virtue, stemming from good-will of the heart and of the mind; it will not lead any man astray whatever the temptation, nor be corrupted by any bribe.

Valerius relates that Fabius had received from Hannibal certain Roman prisoners whom he held, for a certain sum of money that he promised to pay Hannibal. But when he came before the senators of Rome and requested to have the money advanced to him, they replied that they would neither pay nor loan. Then Fabius sent his son to Rome and had him sell his inheritance and patrimony, and sent the money received from the same to Hannibal. For he preferred rather to be deprived of material goods in his homeland than of [others'] belief and faith [in him]. These days it is folly to place such trust in most people, unless they have already proven themselves. For often men trust in those who will fail them at their time of need.

It should be understood that these craftsmen and workmen are highly beneficial to the world. For without artificers and workmen the world cannot be governed. And you should know indeed that all those things that have been created on the earth and on the sea are made and shaped to benefit the family of man, for men were designed to be able to produce what could help and benefit each other. In this we should follow the lead of Nature, for she showed us that each should help the other for the benefit of all. And the first principle of justice is that no man should annoy or aggrieve another, but that they should act for the common good; for men say jealously to each other: "That which I see you have, I hope shall someday be mine." But these days who is there that works more towards the common good than to his own? Certainly, none. A man should always be concerned about his own house when he sees his neighbour's house on fire. Therefore men should gladly work towards the benefit of all; for men sometimes do not concern themselves about a small fire (that could be extinguished at that stage) which later turns into a raging inferno. Fortune has no greater satisfaction from anything than from twisting and turning in all directions.

Nature is noble enough that she tries to preserve what she has, but this rule of nature has long since failed. It is well said in the decree that all things that are contrary to the laws of nature should be removed or set aside. And he earlier says, in the eighth distinction, that the rightful law of nature has often been diverged from, through the establishment of customs and statutes. For by the law of nature all things should belong to everyone in common. And such was the law in ancient times; men believe particularly that the Trojans kept this law, and we read that the Trojans were of one heart and one mind. Indeed we find that in times past the philosophers advocated the same. Also, we may suppose that those who hold their goods in common, not individually, are the most acceptable to God; for otherwise religious men, like monks, friars, canons, observants, and other such, would not take an oath and adhere to the voluntary poverty to which they have professed. For indeed I myself have been familiar with a religious community of White Friars at Ghent, which holds all things in common among themselves; not one of them is richer than the others, so that if a man gave 3d. or 4d. to a friar to pray for him at Mass, as soon as Mass was over he would hand it over to his superior or proctor; in this community are many virtuous and devout friars. If that life were not the best and the holiest, Holy Church would never allow it in its religion.

Accordingly we read in Plato that that city is well and justly governed and regulated in which no man may claim by right, by custom, or by ordinance "this is mine"; but I say to you that certainly since there came about the custom to say "this is mine, and this is yours" no man has had the same attachment to communal benefit as he has to his own. All workmen ought to be prudent and self-controlled, so that they have no envy or evil suspicions of one another. For God wishes that it be in their nature for humans to covet only two things: that is, religion, and wisdom. But in this regard some are often deceived, for they adopt wisdom and reject religion. But neither can be pure and steadfast without the other. For it is not appropriate that a wise man do anything of which he should subsequently repent; and he ought to do nothing against his will, but should always act nobly, politely, resolutely, and honourably. Should he envy anyone, that would be folly, for he who is envied is more honourable and better-off than he who is envious. One man cannot envy another unless the latter is more fortunate or better graced than the former; for envy is a harmful sense of deprivation that encourages the disturbance of what benefits another man. Know, indeed, that he who has ample good qualities will never envy another. But the envious man always perceives, or thinks, that every man is more noble and more fortunate than himself, and always says to himself: "that man earns more than I, or my neighbours are better endowed with livestock, and their possessions increase more than mine." Therefore you should know that envy is the most deadly sin there is, for she torments whoever is infected by her, without tormenting or harming he who is envied. An envious man has no virtues, for he corrupts himself, in that he always hates the wealth and virtues of others. So all should take care that no evil suspicions arise in them. For when a man feels suspicious of anyone through imagining what he is doing, it naturally begins to seem to him that the latter is indeed doing it. And it is a terrible thing for a man to have a suspicious nature.

For we read that Dionysius of Sicily, a tyrant, was so suspicious – living in great fear and dread of being hated by everyone – that he expelled his friends from the offices they held, and put in their place strangers to guard his person, choosing those who were cruel and felonious. And out of fear and distrust of barbers he made his daughters learn how to shave and comb; once they had become good at it he would not let them use any iron in that occupation, except to burn and singe his hairs, and he threatened them and dared not place his trust in them. Likewise, they had no sense of loyalty towards him. Another thing he did was to surround the palace where he lived with wide, deep ditches like a castle, and he would enter by a drawbridge which could be closed after him. His knights stayed outside with his guards, who kept a strict watch over this fortress. When Plato saw this Dionysius king of Sicily thus surrounded and with guards and watchmen positioned all around, because of his suspiciousness, he said openly to him, in front of other men: "king, why have you done so much evil and harm that it is necessary for you to be protected by so many people?" This is why I say it is not suitable, for any man who seriously wishes to behave well in all he does, to be suspicious.

In addition, they should be strong and confident in their work, especially those who are masters and mariners on the sea. For if they are nervous and fearful they would communicate that fear to those who are in their ships, who otherwise would not know the perils. So it might come about that out of dread and fear every man would abandon his work; thus dispirited, they might despair and perish. For a ship can be easily destroyed and lost to a minor tempest, when he who has command of it fails, out of fear, to captain his ship, and can give no directions to others; then it is no surprise that those in his charge should be afraid. Therefore such men should be endowed with strength, determination, and courage, and able to anticipate the risks that might arise. The commander in particular should not be prone to doubt and, should it happen that any danger arise, he must instil hope in the others. So it is very appropriate that a man of good, stout heart be put in such a post, so that he has a firm and sure hand when faced by the perils that often arise at sea. Furthermore, mariners should have a good and firm faith and belief in God, and [the commander] should be able to speak reassuringly and encouragingly to those he commands during such dangers. This is enough said about workmen.

Chapter 3: concerning the occupations of notaries, lawyers, scriveners, and of drapers, or cloth-makers

The third pawn, which is placed before the right-hand alphin, ought to be envisaged as a clerk [of the court]. It makes sense that this should be so, insofar as among the common people (of whom we speak in this book) they plead the various cases, contentions, and disputes which the alphins are sometimes required to judge and pass sentence over. It is only reasonable that the alphin, or judge, have his notary, by whom the [legal] process may be recorded. This pawn ought to be made and configured in this fashion: he must be made in the form of a man holding in his right hand a pair of shears or forceps, in the left hand a large knife, in his girdle a pen-case and inkhorn, and tucked behind his ear a pen to write with – these are the instruments with which he performs his duties in producing authentic documents which should go before the judges, such as charges, writs, judgements, and sentences. Such is symbolized by the scripture and the pen. On the other hand, it is their role to cut cloth, shear it, finish it, and dye it, which is symbolized by the forceps or shears, while the other [instrument?] is for shaving beards and combing hair. Others represented by the knife held in the hand are coopers, curriers, tawyers, skinners, butchers, and cordwainers. Some of this [category of] craftsmen are called drapers or cloth-makers, insofar as they work with wool. Notaries, skinners, curriers, and cordwainers work with skins and hides, such as parchment, vellum, peltry, and cordwainery. Tailors, cutters of cloth, weavers, fullers, dyers, and many other crafts are occupied with working wool.

All these craftsmen – along with many others I have not named – ought to perform the craft and mystery for which they have been licensed skilfully and diligently. These craftsmen ought also to have the character traits of being able to work together amicably, and being honest and sincere in their behaviour and speech. It should be known that notaries are very profitable; they should behave well and honestly on behalf of the community, and restrain themselves from appropriating to themselves that which belongs to the community. If they behave well in matters of their own interests, they will do the same in that of others. But if they act with evil intent in regard to their own interests, they will do likewise towards others. The [legal] processes that come before the judges should be recorded [by the notary] and reviewed [by the judge]. It should be known that much benefit may ensue from the recording of the processes, whereas if they write something other than they ought, much harm and damage may be done in the community. Therefore they should take good heed that they do not change or corrupt in any regard the content of the sentence; for in so doing they betray their position of trust, and are obligated to make amends to those they have harmed through their betrayal.

In addition they ought to read, examine, and be familiar with the statutes, ordinances, and laws of the cities of the country in which they live. They should give thought to whether anything contained therein is contrary to right or reason and, if they find any contrary thing, should warn and advise those who govern that such things could be altered into a better condition. For customs that are established contrary to good behaviour or against the Faith, should not rightfully be upheld. For as is said in the decree (as mentioned in the previous chapter), all ordinances made contrary to what is right should be considered null and void. Alas! Where nowadays are the lawyers or notaries, tasked with recording and upholding sentences, who place devotion to communal profit higher than that to their own? All fear of God is pushed aside, and they deceive simple men, enticing them into the courts in inordinate numbers, and persuading them to make and swear inappropriate oaths. By bringing people together in this way they foster conflict in the city more than they promote togetherness, and sometimes they deceive even their sovereigns, when they do such things covertly. For there is nothing nowadays that causes grief in Rome and throughout Italy so much as does the college of notaries and public advocates. They cannot even agree amongst themselves.

And in England, alas, what harm has been done by these advocates, men of law, and attorneys in courts of the common people of the kingdom, both in regard to ecclesiastical law and civil law. How they twist the laws and statutes to their desires! How they feed on the people! How they impoverish the community! I imagine that in all Christendom there are not so many pleaders, attorneys, and lawyers as there are in England alone. For if we counted all who are associated with the courts of Chancery, King's Bench, Common Pleas, Exchequer, Receipts, and 'Hell', together with the bag-bearers of the same, it would amount to a great multitude. How all these can make a living, and off of whom, should it be revealed, would not be believed. For they are intent on their individual benefit and profit, not that of the community, no matter that they ought to be promoting good-will and togetherness, and advising and warning each city in its own right about how they might have peace and friendship with one another.

Tullius says that the friendship and good-will that one ought to have towards another, for the welfare of he who is loved, and for the willing reciprocation by that one, ought to be our priority above all other things. There is nothing that provides such a good illustration of love – nothing that is so appropriate in regard to [their behaviour in circumstances of] prosperity and adversity – as bees who make honey. For through love the bees are content to live in a community, and if any of them injures another, they all attack the offender so as to punish him.

Love that is genuinely true will never fail, in good times or in bad, and the most precious and most comforting thing is to have a friend to whom a man may confide his secrets, instead of keeping them to himself. But truly, amity and friendship are sometimes founded upon something delectable; this friendship arises from the inordinate passion inherent in youth. But at other times friendship is founded upon honesty, and such friendship is virtuous. Concerning which Tullius says that there is a virtuous kind of friendship through which a man should do for a friend everything that he asks, within reason; for to do something dishonest for him would be against the nature of true friendship and amity. Thus, neither for friendship nor for favour should a man do anything unreasonable that is contrary to the common good, or his faith, or his oath. For if all such things asked and demanded by the friends were undertaken and accomplished, it would seem that there was some dishonest conspiracy, and so they might bring about more grief and harm than benefit and help.

Regarding this Seneca says friendship can only perform what a friend wills, and to refuse that which ought to be refused according to reason. Yet he says more than that: that in front of other people a man should indulge and praise his friend, but criticize and correct him when they are in private. Such is the essence of friendship. For a man ought not to ask his friend to do or arrange to be done any evil thing that needs to be kept secret. Valerian says that it is a foul thing and a poor excuse if a man confesses that he has committed any evil out of friendship, against right or reason. And he tells that there was a good man named Tasil who listened to one of his friends asking him to do a dishonest thing; which he refused, and would not do. His friend then said scornfully to him: "What good to me is your friendship and amity, when you will not do something that I ask of you?" Tasil answered him: "What good would your friendship and amity be to me, if I were to be doing dishonest things for you?"

Love is thus sometimes based upon profitable advantage, and this love endures as long as it is seen to be profitable. In which regard the English have a popular proverb that love will last while the money holds out, but when the gold runs out proves unsteadfast. Varro relates in his Summas that rich men are all loved by this kind of love, for their friends are like the storehouse that surrounds the grain. No man can have proof of friendship so well as when he is in trouble, or when he is poor, for a genuinely true friend does not fail one at time of need. Seneca observes that some follow the emperor for enrichment, just as flies follow the honey for sweetness, and the wolf the carrion. And this kind of companionship follows the prey, not the man. Tullius says that Tarquin the Proud had a nephew, his sister's son, named Brutus, and this nephew had banished Tarquin from Rome and sent him into exile. Who then said, first, that he now was aware and knew which friends were true and which false, which he never perceived earlier when he was powerful enough to advantage them, and then rightly said that the love they had for him endured only as long as it proved profitable to them.

Therefore all the rich men in the world – be they kings, princes, or dukes – should pay heed to which people they benefit, and how they could, and ought to, be loved by their people. For Cato says in his book "pay attention to whom you are benefactor." This love founded upon its givers' profit, which fails and does not endure, might better be called merchandize than love; for if we regard this love as being for our own benefit alone, and not at all for the benefit of him whom we love, it is more merchandize than love. For he buys our love with the benefits he provides us. And therefore the poet says in these two verses [Latin quotation ...] which means in English that as long as a man is happy and fortunate he has many friends, but when good fortune reverses or vanishes, not a single friend will stay by him.

This is the kind of love we give meadows, fields, trees, and livestock, for the profit men can obtain from them. But love of other men ought to be charitable, made truly gracious and pure through good faith. Genuinely true friends are discovered when one is in adversity. Piers Alfonse says in says in his book on morality that there was a philosopher in Arabia who had a single son, of whom he asked what friends he had made during his life; and he replied that he had many. And his father said to him: "I am an old man, but I could never find more than one friend during my entire lifetime; I truly believe that it is no small thing to have a friend, so how much better for a man to have many. Yet it is appropriate and necessary for a man to test and prove that friendship before he has need of it." Then the philosopher ordered his son to go and slaughter a pig, put it in a sack, and, pretending it to be a dead man whom he had killed, carry it to his friends for secret burial. When the son had done as his father ordered him, and had made request of his friends, one after another, in the aforementioned way, they turned him down, answering him that he was a villain to ask and desire of them something so risky. Then he returned to his father and told him of the request he had made to all his friends, and how he had not found one who would help him in his hour of need. Then his father told him to go and make the same request of his own and only friend, and ask for his help in his time of need. After he had made this request, [the friend] shortly sent all of his servants out of his house. Once they were out of the way, or asleep, he surreptitiously dug a hole in the ground; but when it was ready and he was about to bury the body, he found it was a hog or pig, not a man. In this fashion the son proved the man to be a genuinely true friend of his father, and showed that his own friends were false, fair-weather friends.

The same Piers Alfonse relates that there were two merchants, one of Bandach and the other of Egypt, who were bound together by so great a friendship that he of Bandach came at one time to visit his friend in Egypt, who welcomed him with great honour. This merchant of Egypt had in his household a fair young maiden whom he intended to take in marriage himself. The merchant of Bandach fell in love with this maiden so ardently that he became so sick that men supposed he would die. The other merchant summoned physicians, who said that what he had was only lovesickness. Then, summoning all the women of his household into his presence, he asked the sick man if there were any woman in his household with whom he was in love. And then he [the sick man] pointed out she who should have become the wife of the other, and said that he was sick from love of her. Then his friend said to him: "Friend, comfort yourself, for truly I give her to you as wife, with all the dowry that was given to me with her." For he preferred to suffer the loss of a wife than the death of a friend. Then he of Bandach married the maiden and returned to his own country with his wife and his new wealth. Not long after this it came about that the merchant of Egypt became so impoverished through misfortune that he was forced to seek out and beg for his bread across the region, and so came to Bandach. When he entered the town it was the dark of night, so that he could not find the house of his friend, but went and lay that night in an old temple. In the morning, when he sought to leave the temple, the town officials arrested him, saying that he was a homicide and had killed a man who lay there dead. And shortly after he confessed to it voluntarily, preferring to be hanged than to die in misery in the life of poverty he was suffering. When he was brought to judgement and sentence should have been passed against him as a homicide, his friend in Bandach came and saw him and soon realized this was his good friend from Egypt. He immediately intervened and said that he himself, not the accused, was guilty of the death of the man. And he urged them to acquit the accused in all regards and set him free. Then when he who had actually committed the deed, killing the man, saw this, he thought to himself that these two men were innocent of the deed; doubtful of divine intervention in the judgement, he in turn came before the judge and confessed to the deed. When the judge heard all the testimony, he appreciated the strong and genuine love that lay between the two friends, and understood the reason why one would sacrifice himself for the other, and the truth behind the homicidal deed. Then he pardoned the deed, wholly and entirely. Thereafter the merchant of Bandach took him of Egypt with him into his house, gave him his sister in marriage, and divided his possessions to give him half, so that both of them were rich. Thus they were both genuinely true and faithful friends.

Furthermore, notaries, lawyers, and craftsmen should love each other, and ought to be continent, chaste, and respectable. This is essential for persons in their occupations, for they must often be in the company of, and converse with, women, and for this reason it is necessary that they behave chastely and respectably, and not induce or entice them to laugh or jest, by giving any improper signals or gestures. Titus Livius relates that the philosopher Demokrion blinded himself because he was unable to look at women without exciting physical desires; no matter that it is previously said that he had certain other reasons, this was one of his chief reasons. And Valerian tells how there was a young man of Rome of very great beauty, but also very chaste. His beauty moved many women to desire him and, because he realized that their parents and friends were suspicious of him, he arranged for his face to be sliced from top to bottom and side to side with a knife and a lancet, to scar his face. For he would rather have an ugly and deformed face than that its beauty should spur others on to sin. We also read that there was a nun, a virgin, who put out both her eyes, because the beauty of those eyes had moved a king to love her; which eyes she sent to the king as a gift. We also read that Plato, that wealthy philosopher, left his own land and country and chose to set up his residence in Achadomye – a town which was not only destroyed but was also full of disease – so that, by fostering and fuelling distressing behaviours permitted there, the passion and opportunity for lechery might be avoided; many of his disciples did likewise.

Helemand relates that Demosthenes, the philosopher, once lay with a very noble woman just for his own pleasure. Flirting with her, he asked her what he should give to persuade her to have sex with him. She answered him, a thousand pence. He said again to her: "I should regret having to buy it at such a high price." But after thinking about it some more, he became so heated with the desire to persuade her to accede to his fleshly desires that he took off all his clothes and, naked, went and lay down in the snow. And Ovid states that this thing is the least help and the most harm to lovers. In the same regard, Saint Augustine relates in his book De Civitate Dei that there was a very noble Roman named Markulian who captured and conquered the noble city of Syracuse, and before he had assaulted or attacked it, before any blood had to be shed, he wept and shed many tears in front of the city. This was because he feared that his forces would lose their honour by despoiling and ruining the chastity of the townsfolk. So he ordered that no man should, on pain of death, be so bold as to take and despoil by force any woman, regardless of her social status.

Next, craftsmen should understand that they ought to be truthful: to speak the truth, and for their actions are in accord with their words. For he who says one thing and does another condemns himself by his own mouth. They should also take great care that they are consistently good – in intentions, in words, and in actions – so that they are not conflicted in any situation, but every man is completely pure in being true to himself. For God Himself is pure verity, and it is commonly said by men that truth seeks no hiding-places nor corners. Truth is a virtue which relieves the need for any deceit or anxiety. Men speak truly when they say what they know, and those who are not accustomed to the truth ought to acquire the habit, and always rely on the truth. For Saint Augustine says that those who think themselves truthful, yet behave evilly and viciously, are fooling themselves, thought they do not know it. He also says, elsewhere, that it is better to suffer pain in the cause of truth than to benefit from deceit or flattery. Man, who is called an animal possessing reason, if his behaviours are not consonant with reason and truth, is more bestial than any brutish beast. Know that in order to arrive at the truth, one must be able to grapple with reason in one's mind, whereas lying derives from outrageous and contrary thoughts in the mind. For he who lies intentionally knows that his thinking is directed against the truth. Saint Bernard speaks of this, saying that the mouth that lies destroys the soul; and Saint Augustine says in another place that to urge one thing and do the contrary casts suspicion on one's advice.

You should be aware, indeed, that to lie is something very dangerous to body and soul. The lie that the ancient enemy made Eve and Adam believe, caused them and all their offspring to be damned until their death everlasting, and to be cast out of their terrestrial Paradise. For he made them believe that God had not forbidden them the fruit; but only so that they should not know what his master knew. How seemingly sincere the devil was in uttering these words, yet he was being duplicitous to them both. For they knew as soon as they tasted the fruit that they were damned to a death everlasting; and God knew it in advance of that. But they had expected to become privy to many things that belonged to His knowledge and science. Therefore Saint Paul says in an epistle that it does not belong [to men] to possess more knowledge than they need to know, but to learn it in a measured and orderly process.

Valerian relates that there was a good Syracusan woman who would not lie to the king of Sicily, who was named Dionysius. This king was so tyrannical and so cruel that everyone cursed him and wished for his death, except, this woman alone, who was so old that she had seen the reigns of three or four kings of this country. Every morning, as soon as she had risen, she prayed to God that he would give the tyrant a good long life, and that she might never see his death. When King Dionysius learned of this he sent for her, and was greatly astonished by it, for he knew well that he was greatly hated. He asked her what it was that inspired her to pray for him, and she answered and said to him: "Sire, when I was a young girl we had a very evil tyrant as our king, who we badly wished would die. When he died there succeeded him a worse, whose death we also much desired; when we were rid of him there came to be our lord yourself, who is the worst of all of them. So now I fear that if we have someone after you he will be even worse than you. Consequently I shall pray for you. When Dionysius appreciated how boldly she spoke the truth, he dared not give her over to torture, out of shame, because she was so old.

Chapter 4: concerning the nature of the fourth pawn, and of the merchants or changers

The fourth pawn is placed in front of the king, and is formed in the shape of a man holding a balance in his right hand and a weight in his left hand, with a table in front of him. At his girdle is a purse full of money, ready to give to those who require it. This figure represents merchants of cloth (linen and woollen) and of all other kinds of merchandize; and the table in front of him symbolizes changers and those who lend money. The balance and the weight signify those who buy and sell by weight. And the purse symbolizes collectors of customs and tolls, rent-collectors and receivers of monies.

You should know that all those represented by this figure should shun avarice and covetousness, avoid failure to meet payment dates, ought to keep their promises, and also ought to return or restore that which is given into their safekeeping. It is for this reason that this figure is placed in front of the king, insofar as it signifies receivers of royal revenues, who always ought to be ready to come to the king, and to answer on his behalf to knights and other persons for their wages and debts. And for this reason have I said that they ought to shun avarice; for avarice is much the same thing as adoring or worshipping false images. On this subject Tullius says that avarice is covetousness to acquire things that are beyond what one needs. It is an excessive love of possessing material goods, and one of the worst things there can be – especially for princes and those who administer the assets of the community. This vice causes a man to do evil, and evil of this kind tends to be prevalent in old men. Of this Seneca says that old men are satiated with, and dead to, all worldly desires, excepting avarice, which always remains with them and dies with them. I do not well understand the root cause of it, nor why it may be. For it is a foul thing and contrary to reason that when a man is at the end of life's journey he should try to lengthen the voyage and provide himself with more food than he needs. We might well compare this to the greedy wolf; for the wolf is never any good until he is dead. And thus is it said in the proverbs of the wise men that an avaricious man does no good until he is dead; he does nothing but strive to live long in this state of sin.

The covetous man is certainly not good for anything, for he does evil to himself, to the rich, and to the poor, finding reasons to frustrate their desires. In this regard Seneca relates that Antigonus was a covetous prince and, when his friend Tynque asked him for a bezant, he replied that he asked for more than he had a right to. Then Tynque, forced to it by great need, asked him for a penny, and he replied that this was no gift suitable for a king to give. Thus he was always ready to find some reason not to give. He could have given him a bezant as a king to a friend, or the penny to a man who was poor, for there is nothing so small that a king, out of human kindness, cannot give.

Avarice fuelled by covetousness is a kind of vice associated with luxury. Josephus tells in his book on ancient history that there was in Rome a very noble lady called Paulina, member of one of the most noble families in Rome, much respected for her chaste character; she got married, in an age when women were admired for chastity, to a young man who was fair, noble, and rich beyond all others, and was much like his wife in many regards. But this Paulina was loved by a knight named Emmeransian, who was so ardently inflamed by his love that he sent her many valuable gifts, and promised her much more. But he could never alter her feelings, which on her side were cold and hard as marble; she preferred to reject his gifts and his promises rather than give in to covetousness and lose her chastity. We also read, in the history of Rome, that there was a noble lady of Rome who lived a solitary life and was chaste and respectable; she had accumulated a large sum of gold and hidden it in the ground, in a pit inside her house. When she died the bishop gave her a proper and dignified burial in the church. Soon afterwards the gold was found and carried to the bishop, and the bishop felt obliged to place it into the grave where she had been buried. For three days afterwards men heard her shrieking and making a great din, saying that she burned in great pain; often they heard her in torment in the church. Those living nearby went to the bishop and told him about it, and the bishop gave them permission to open the sepulchre. When they had opened it they found all the gold had been melted by a sulphurous fire, and it had flowed into her mouth. And they heard a voice say: "you desired this gold out of covetousness; take it and drink it." Then they took the corpse out of the tomb and cast it into an out-of-the-way place.

Seneca states in the book of the cries of women that avarice is the root of all evils, and Valerian says that avarice is a fearful guardian or keeper of riches, since he who has on him, or in his possession, much money or other valuables is constantly afraid of losing it, or of being robbed or even killed for it. He who acquires out of covetousness does not attain contentment or happiness through it. All the evils of this vice of avarice afflicted a man of Rome named Septenul, who was the friend of one named Tarkus. This Septenul was so greatly and cruelly inflamed with this sin of covetousness that he felt no shame at treacherously cutting off the head of his friend. For one Framosian had promised him an amount of pure gold as heavy as the weight of the head. He carried the head upon a staff through the city of Rome, removed the brain from it, and filled it up with lead so that its weight was increased. His was a horrible and cruel avarice. Ptolemy, king of the Egyptians, manifested avarice in a different way. For when Anthony, emperor of Rome, saw that he was very rich in gold and silver, he hated him and tortured him cruelly. And when he faced death because of his riches, he took all his possessions and put them in a ship and carried them out onto the high seas, with the intention of drowning and destroying there the ship and his riches, so that his enemy Anthony should not have them. But when he got there he did not have the courage to destroy it, nor could he find it in his heart to part with it, but turned back and brought it again to his house where, in consequence, he was rewarded with death. Unquestionably, he was not the master of those riches, but the riches were mistress of him.

Therefore it is said in a proverb that a man is intended to be lord of riches, not their servant. If you can use your wealth appropriately, she is your chambermaid; but if you cannot bear to part with it and make proper use of it when you please, she is your mistress. For wealth never satiates the covetous: the more one has, the more one desires. Sallust says that avarice displaces faith, integrity, honour, and all other good virtues, replacing them with pride, cruelty, neglect of God, and the belief that everything has its price.

Accordingly, people should be careful neither to leave too much behind [when they die], nor borrow so much on credit that they fall into poverty. Saint Ambrose says in Tobit that poverty has no rules, for to owe something is shameful, and to owe and not repay is more shameful. If you are poor, beware of borrowing and think how you might repay or return; and if you are rich you have no need to ask for a loan. It is said in Proverbs that it is fraud to take what you will never be able to return or pay back. It is said, as a reproach: "When you are needy I am your friend, but when I come asking I am your enemy." just as one says: "God when lending, and the devil when paying back." Seneca says in his Auctoritas that they who are content to borrow should be content to repay. And [the other party] should be more enthusiastic, loving all the better those who have need of them, and helping them in their need. For favours and good turns done to a man should bring him thanks for it. A man ought to repay much more than is lent him in his time of need. But nowadays many men, by lending their money, have turned their friends into enemies. Domas the philosopher speaks of this, saying: "My friend borrowed money from me, and now I have lost both my friend and my money."

There was once a merchant of Genoa, who was also a changer, whose name was Albert Ganor, and this Albert was a man of great honesty and fidelity. On one occasion a man came to him and asserted that he had deposited into his bank five hundred gold florins for safekeeping; this was not the case, but a lie. Albert had no knowledge of these five hundred florins, nor could he find in all his [account] books any such amount payable. The liar could produce no witnesses [to back up his claim], but began to whine and yell and slander Albert. Then Albert called over this merchant to him, saying: "Dear friend, here are the five hundred florins you claim you deposited with me." And after saying this he turned them over to him. See how this good man had rather lose his goods than his good name and reputation. The other merchant took the florins he had wrongfully received and put them to use in various commercial transactions, with the result that gained with them a profit of fifteen thousand florins. As he saw that he was approaching death, and that he had no children, he appointed Albert his heir of all his goods, and acknowledged that, with the five hundred florins he had falsely obtained from Albert, he had acquired all that he had in the world. And thus by Divine providence he who had been a deceitful thief was subsequently turned into a true procurer and attorney of that Albert. But nowadays there are merchants who undertake commercial ventures with other men's money which is given into their safekeeping and, when they are required to repay it, shamelessly deny it to all and sundry.

In relation to that, it happened that there was a merchant who had a very good reputation and was renowned for keeping safe such things as were delivered to him to look after. But, if he saw the right opportunity, he would retain it, like a thief. So it came about that a foreign merchant heard the good reports of the reputation of this man, and turned over to him a great treasure for safekeeping. This treasure remained in his custody for three years. After the three years the merchant came and requested to have his goods turned back over to him. But this man knew that the other had neither record nor witness to prove that this ought to be done; nor had he any obligation or other document from him on this matter. On that basis he denied the whole arrangement, and said plainly that he did not know him. When that good man heard and understood this, he went away, sorrowfully and in tears, a great distance until he encountered an old woman. She asked him why he wept, and he said to her: "It's none of your business, woman; be on your way." But she entreated him to tell her the cause of his sorrow, for perhaps she might be able to give him some good and useful advice. When the man related to her the account of his misfortune, the old woman (who was wise and crafty) asked him if he had in that city any friend who would be loyal and true to him. He replied that, yes, he had various friends. Then she said: "Go to them and tell them to buy a number of coffers and chests, which they are to fill with old things of no great value; they are to spread about rumours that these are full of gold, silver, jewels, and other great treasures. Then they are to bring them to the [deceitful] merchant and to ask that he to take custody of them, because they had great trust and confidence in him, and had heard that he was very truthful and of good renown, and because they had to go off to a distant country, where they would be a long time before returning. While they are speaking to him about this, you shall come into their midst and demand that he return to you what you took to him. I believe because of those good men who are on the verge of turning over to him their treasure, and because of his coveting the same, he shall hand back to you once more your goods. But be careful not to let him realize in any way that these are friends of yours, or that you know them." This was excellent advice from a woman; and indeed it is often in their nature for women to give impromptu advice, without careful consideration, to matters that are up in the air or posing dangers and need to be hastily resolved. And this man did just what you have heard, following her advice, and came upon them as they were discussing with the merchant the matter of delivering to him the said coffers about which his friends were conducting the pretence, and demanded of him that which he had taken to him for custodianship. Then the merchant shortly after said to him: "I remember you now. After thinking about it, you are such a man, and came to me at such a time, and delivered to me such a thing which I have kept securely." Then he called his clerk and instructed him to go and fetch such a thing, in such a place, and hand it over to that good man, for he delivered it to me. And so the good man received his goods, and went on his way very happily and relieved.

Thus this treacherous and deceitful merchant was defrauded by his own malicious ways, ending up with neither the one thing nor the other that was of value. Therefore it is said in a proverb that to defraud the cheat is no fraud.

For he who behaves well does so by imitating our Lord. Seneca says that charity teaches us that men should pay generously. For a good payment can be [for the soul] like a good confession. That treacherous and deceitful merchant is like a hound who carries a cheese in his mouth when he swims across a lake. When he is in the water he sees the reflection of the cheese in the water and believes it to be another cheese. Out of desire to have it, he opens his mouth to grab it, and then the cheese he is carrying falls into the water; and so he loses both of them. The same thing happened to this deceitful merchant who, in order to obtain the coffers he had not yet seen, handed back that which he intended to keep wrongfully; and thus was deceived by his own covetousness and malice. Therefore it is incumbent on every good and wise man to give some thought to how much he may have received from other men, and under what conditions it was delivered to him. It should be known that this is [particularly] incumbent on receivers and changers, and to all honest merchants and others, whomsoever they may be. They ought to maintain their books of receipts and payments: from whom, and to whom, and what time and date. If you ask what would make them forget such things that are brought to them for safekeeping, my answer is that it is the overwhelming desire to to have those things for themselves, and never to have to part with them. Their every thought and desire is to accumulate all the goods they can lay their hands on. For they believe in no god, but only in their riches, so obdurate are their hearts. And this is enough about merchants.

Chapter 5: concerning physicians, spicers, and apothecaries

The pawn that is placed in front of the queen represent physicians, spicers, and apothecaries, and is formed in the shape of a man seated in a chair, like a master, and holding in his right hand a book, and in his left hand an ampulla or a box with ointments, and at his girdle his instruments of iron or silver for making incisions, examining wounds, and cutting off apostomes. These last symbolize surgeons. The book represents physicians, and all grammarians, logicians, masters of law, of geometry, arithmetic, music, or astronomy. And the ampulla signifies the makers of pigments: spicers and apothecaries, and those who make confections, comfits, and medicines from precious spices. And from the tools and instruments hanging off the girdle can be understood the surgeons and masters [of physic].

you should certainly be aware that a master and physician ought to know the elements of grammar and their relationships, the arguments, conclusions, and sophisms of logic, the gracious forms of speech of rhetoric, the measurement of hours and days, the astronomical bodies, arithmetical calculations, and the joyful songs of music. Of all those I have named, the masters of rhetoric are the principal masters in philosophy, and the last pair of workers or practitioners, called physicians and surgons, are very wise and skilful in those sciences. How safe a man's life is, those times when he is put under the care of a physician or surgeon. But if such did not have, in himself, wisdom and the understanding of various writings [on the subject], and was no expert, yet meddled in the craft of physic, such a one would be better described as a slaughterer than as a physician or surgeon. For he cannot be a master unless he is confident and expert in the craft of physic, so that he does not kill more than he cures and restores to health. Concerning which, Avicenna says in an aphorism: "if you cure the sick man without knowing the cause of the malady that needs to be cured, you have cured him more by chance and good fortune than through any skill."

In all persons of this category there ought to be the merits of good manners, courteous speech, physical cleanliness, and the appearance of good health. They should make repeated visits to those who are sick, and ought to investigate the cause of their sicknesses and the symptoms of their maladies, as is specified in the books by authors very diligent [in these matters], and particularly in the books by Hippocrates, Galen and Avicenna. Once many masters and physicians are gathered in front of the patient, or sick man, they ought not to argue and dispute with one another; rather, they should hold a good, straightforward consultation together, in a fashion that prevents them being seen as disputing with one another, as if concerned with being competitive and enhancing their own reputations, rather than with securing the health of the sick patient. It amazes me why, when they see and know how much the sick man needs to regain his health, they act that much more contrarily, raising objections, for the man's life is put into their hands and under their rule; but it is because he who argues best and raises the most ingenious concerns acquires the reputation of being the wisest of them. This is the fashion of doctors of law, who are not dealing with men's lives, but with temporal matters, in which he whose arguments can best reconcile the contentions and disagreements of other men is considered the wisest and most learned. Therefore physicians and surgeons ought to, when in front of sick men, leave aside all dissenting words and debate, so that it appears they are more concerned with curing the sick man than with disputing with each other.

Consequently the physician is appropriately positioned in front of the queen, so that it is evident he should possess the traits of chastity, and bodily continence. For at times it is necessary for the physician to visit and treat queens, duchesses, countesses, and all other ladies, and to see and behold some private afflictions that occur sometimes through the secret workings of Nature. Therefore it is important for them to be chaste, and to conduct themselves honourably and chastely, so that they may set an example to others of good self-control. Valerian relates that Hippocrates showed wonderful self-restraint, physically. For when he was in the schools at Athens there lived close to him a very attractive woman who was a prostitute. The young scholars and the high-spirited fellows who were students promised the woman a bezant, if she could overcome the resistance of Hippocrates to having sex with her. So she came to him at night and tried all the tricks of her craft as she lay with him in his bed; but as hard as she tried, she could never corrupt his chaste way of life, nor pollute the ideals of his conscience. When the young men learned that she had been with him all night and could not overturn his self-restraint, they began to mock her, and to ask and demand back the bezant they had given her. To which she answered that they had engaged her to do her work on a statue; for because she could not put a dent in his self-control, she called him a statue. In similar vein, Valerian tells of the philosopher Xenocrates that a woman lay with him all night and made great efforts to tempt him, but that highly chaste man showed no semblance [of interest] in her, nor did he ever stray from that firm resolve, so that when she departed she was confused and ashamed.

Cornelius Scipio, who was sent by the Romans to govern Spain, as soon as he took control of the castles and towns of that country, he began to remove all those things that might excite or encourage his men to lechery, so that men said he expelled and evicted more than two thousand brothels from the places where they were installed. For he, being wise, knew well that taking pleasure in lechery corrupts and impairs the courage of those men who give themselves over to that pleasure. Of this it is said in the fables of the poets, in the first book of the Truths of the Philosophers by category, that those who entered into the turbulent waters of the Sirens, or mermaidens, were corrupted, and they [the Sirens] carried them off with them.

You should also know that they ought to attend diligently to curing infirmities through surgery. They ought to make plasters that are suitable for the wounds or sores: if the wound is circular the plaster must be round, and if it is long the plaster must be long. Sometimes it must be cured by its opposite, as pertains to physic; for heat is cured by cold, and cold by heat, joy by sorrow, and sorrow by joy. If often happens that many people place themselves at great risk by indulging in too much joy, losing [control of] their body parts and becoming quite carried away with sudden joyfulness. Joy is an excess of things that give delight, and spread great happiness through all parts of the body. Everyone desires and strives to attain such great happiness, naturally. But they do not appreciate what may come of it. Sometimes such joy derives from virtuous sensibilities. The wise man does not lack for such joy, and at no time is it disrupted or fails him; for it is something natural, and the vagaries of fortune cannot take away what Nature gives. Martial says that joy's fugitives do not stay for long, but soon take flight. And Valerian states that he who has a reasonable degree of vitality has it through the true components of complexion, which derives from love. This kind of joy has as much power to part the soul from the body as has thunder. In regard to which, it was the case that there was a woman named Lyna, whose husband went to war in the Roman navy. She truly supposed he had died there, but it happened that he came home again. As he entered through his gate, his wife encountered him suddenly, not being warned of his return, and she was so happy and joyful that, as she embraced him, she dropped dead. Also, another woman, to whom it was reported by a false messenger that her son was dead, went home to her house sorrowfully. Later, when her son came to see her, as soon as she saw him she was so moved with joy that she died in front of him. But this is not so very surprising of women as it is of men. For women can be likened to soft wax or soft air, and for that reason are called 'mulier', which is the same thing as the Latin 'mollis aer', or in English 'soft air'. It often happens that the nature of those who are soft is more readily impressionable than the nature of men, which is stern and steadfast.

Valerian relates that a Roman knight named Instaulosus, having recently conquered and subjugated the island of Corsica, as he offered sacrifice to his gods he received letters from the Roman Senate which contained various humble petitions. When he was apprised of them, he was so happy and so overcome with joy that he was unable to move. Then a great fume of smoke issued from the fire, which so bewildered him that he fell into the fire, where he shortly died. It is also said that Philomenus laughed so heavily and so excessively that he died of laughter. We read that Hippocrates the physician discovered a remedy for this joy. For after he had long been living outside his own country, in order to learn wisdom and skill, he was about to return to his friends and family. When he approached nearby he sent a messenger ahead to advise them he was coming, instructing him to tell them that he was approaching (for they had not seen him in a long time) and that they should moderate the joy they would feel upon seeing him.

We also read that Titus, the son of Vespasian, after he had conquered Jerusalem and was living in that part of the world, learned that his father Vespasian had been chosen by all the Senate to govern the Roman Empire. As a result of which he was so consumed by joy that he suddenly lost strength in all his limbs and became incapacitated. And when Josephus, who wrote the history of the Romans' war against the Jews and was a very wise physician, investigated the cause of Titus' illness, he enquired of Titus' household whether he held a hatred for any man that was so great he could not speak of him or even look upon him. One of Titus' servants said that there was one person he hated so greatly that no member of his court was bold enough to dare speak his name in Titus' presence. Then Josephus assigned a day for this man to come, and arranged for a table to be laid where Titus could see it, and had it covered with all kinds of dainties. He further arranged for armed men to guard him [the hated man] in such a fashion that no-one might harm him at Titus' command arranged for butlers, cooks, and other officials to serve him with the same respect that would be shown an emperor. When everything was ready, Josephus brought in this man whom Titus hated and sat him at the table in full view of Titus, to be served reverently and courteously by young men. When Titus beheld his enemy seated before him in great honour, be began to become heated by a felonious intent, commanding his men to kill that man. And when he saw that no-one would obey him, but that they continued to serve him reverently, he became so heated and consumed with anger that he, who had lost all the vitality and strength from his body and had become incapacitated in his limbs, recovered his health and had strength restored to his limbs, thanks to the heat that passed through his veins and sinews. And Josephus had done so well that Titus recovered and became whole again, and thereafter no longer held that man as an enemy, but considered him a true friend, and subsequently made him one of his loyal supporters and companions.

Spicers and apothecaries ought to produce honestly such things as ordered them by physicians, filling out prescriptions and following instructions skilfully and with great diligence; for no reason should they engage in anything but honest concoction of medicines or confections. Upon peril of their souls, in order to avoid committing manslaughter, they should not, through absent-mindedness, negligence, or recklessness, issue one medicine in place of another. They are not to put counterfeit ingredients in their spices, in order to dilute them or increase their weight; for, if they do so, they were better called thieves than spicers or apothecaries. Those who are accustomed to make ointments ought to make them properly, of true ingredients and of a pleasant odour, according to the recipes of the ancient doctors, and of the substance that the physicians and surgeons describe to them. They should also beware of putting, for any benefit or gift they may be offered, in their medicines anything poisonous, or of doing any harm or hurt to anyone of whom they have no good or accurate [medical] knowledge, with the result that the recipients of such medicines harm themselves or cause damage to those around them, for which those to whom the medicines are administered receive a share of the blame and condemnation for the sins committed.

Surgeons should also be well-mannered, amiable, and empathize with their patients. They ought also avoid being hasty in lancing or cutting apostomes and sores, or in opening heads, or amputating broken bones, unless there is a clear need. For otherwise they might lose their good reputation, and might better be called butchers than healers (or guérisseurs) of wounds and sores.

It is also necessary for this category of persons, who have the duty of making whole and healing all kinds of maladies and infirmities, that they first look after their own health. They should purge themselves of all apostomes and vices. The purpose being that they seem presentable, creditable, and well-versed in all good manners, and have the appearance of being in good health and pure [in spirit], and in a fit state to heal others. On this Boethius, in the first book of the De Consolatione says that stars that are obscured by clouds can provide no light. So that if any man wishes to see the truth, let him remove himself from the obscurity and darkness of the clouds of ignorance; for when a man's intelligence is expressed through joy or sorrow, his thought process is enveloped in obscurity and is behind the clouds.

Chapter 6: concerning the sixth pawn, which may be likened to taverners, hostelers, and victuallers

The sixth pawn, which stands in front of the alphin on the left side, is in this shape. It is a man who has his right hand extended as if beckoning people, and holds in his left hand a loaf of bread and a cup of wine, while on his girdle hangs a bunch of keys. This depicts taverners, hostelers, and sellers of victuals. It is proper to place such in front of the alphin, as before a judge; for often from their activities there arise quarrels, disturbances, and conflict, which need to be adjudicated and dealt with by the alphin, who is the king's judge and has the duty to search and make enquiries regarding good wines and good victuals to be given or sold to buyers and to those whom they lodge. It is their responsibility to supervise their lodgings and inns properly, along with all things that are brought into their lodgings, which they are to safeguard and keep secure. The first of them is is signified by the left hand in which bread and wine is carried, the second indicated by the right hand which extends to beckon men, and the third is represented by the keys hanging from the girdle.

These types of persons should avoid the sin of gluttony. For many people come into their houses to drink and to eat. Which activities they ought to manage in a fashion moderated by reason, restraining them from too much food or drink; so that they can, with that much more propriety, furnish what things are needed by the people that come to them, and nothing excessive that might cause a physical disorder. It often happens that gluttony results in contentions, conflicts, riots, wrongs, or molestations, as the consequence of which men occasionally lose hands, eyes, or other parts of their body, or sometimes are even killed or mortally injured. In the Vitas Patrum it is written that once upon a time a hermit was going to visit his gossips, when the devil appeared to him en route in the guise of another hermit, intending to tempt him, and said: "You have left your hermitage and are going to visit your gossips. I compel you to do one of three things that I shall tell you; you shall choose whether you will be drunk, or else have carnal relations with your gossip, or else you shall kill her husband, who is also your gossip. The hermit thought he would choose the least evil option, to be drunk. After he reached them he drank so much that he was very drunk. And once he was drunk and fired up with the wine, he wanted to have his way with his gossip; when her husband withstood him, the hermit killed him, and afterwards lay with his gossip and knew her carnally. Thus through the sin of drunkenness he accomplished the other two sins.

From which you should know and understand that when the devil wishes to take one of the castles of Jesus Christ – that is to say, the body of a man or woman – he does so like a prince who sets a siege before a castle that he wants to capture, intending to take the entrance gate. For well he knows that once he has taken the gate, he will shortly be able to do what he wishes with the castle. The devil deals in a similar fashion with men and women; for when he has won their gate – that is, the gateway of the mouth, through gluttony or other sin – he may do with the other functional parts of the body whatever he wants, just as you have already heard. Therefore every man should eat and drink in sober moderation, just as much as enables him to live, rather than live to eat gluttonously and drink himself drunk.

It is commonly seen that a very small pasture can suffice a large bull, or that one wood is sufficient for many elephants. While it is necessary that a man be fed by the earth or by the sea, it is nevertheless no great feat to fill the belly – not as much as the desire that is felt to eat much food. Concerning which Quintilian says that it often happens at great feasts and dinners that our eyes are filled with the sight of excellent and mouth-watering foods, and when it is time to eat we are already satiated and full. And hence the proverb: "It is better to fill the belly than the eye." Lucan says that gluttony is the mother of all vices, especially that of lechery, and is the destroyer of all possessions, and cannot be satisfied with little things: A covetous hunger, what food and victuals do you seek on land and in the sea, your only pleasure to have plentiful dishes, and be well-filled at the table, teaching us how men can demean their lives through petty things. Cato says: in no way become a servant to gluttony, which is a friend to lechery. And the holy doctor, Saint Augustine, says: wine inflames the belly that shortly after succumbs to lechery; the belly and the private parts are neighbours to lechery.

Thus the vice of gluttony arouses lechery, which brings about forgetfulness and robs reason of its vitality and acuity. It causes the loss of wits. What sin is fouler than this one, more malodorous, or more damaging? For this sin deprives a man of his virtue, lets his prowess languish, his virtuous reputation be defamed, and his bodily strength and courage be perverted. Therefore Vasilly le Graunt says let us be heedful of how we serve the belly and the throat through gluttony, as though we were dumb animals and strive to be like whales, whom Nature has made to be always inclined towards the earth, looking there in order to serve their bellies. Of this Boethius, in the fourth book of theDe Consolatione, says that a man who does not have the qualities of a man may never be of good quality. It must be that he has been transformed to have the nature of a beast or of a whale of the sea. How much, in the world of today, high-born men and women, endowed with a wonderful degree of knowledge and respectable decision-making abilities, are maintained and nourished through a gluttony of wine and food, and often observed thus. How do you suppose it would not be a very dangerous thing for a lord or governor of the people and common good, no matter how wise he may be, if, in indulging his desires somewhat, the wine or other drink take him by surprise and overcome his brain, so that his wisdom is lost? For, as Cato says, hot-temperedness impedes good-heartedness, in that it cannot keep a grip on what is real and truthful.

As soon as someone is flushed with drink, lechery is aroused in him in such a way that it makes him engage in various deeds of villainy. For then his wisdom has fallen asleep. In this connection, Ovid says in his book De Remedio Amoris "if you consume many and various wines, they prepare and strengthen a disposition towards lechery." And Tobias in his book asserts that luxury causes the body to decay, one's wealth to diminish, one's soul to be lost, one's strength to be enfeebled, one's sight to be blinded, and makes one's voice hoarse and raw, through the foul and evil sin of drunkenness. Through it is lost one's virginity, which is a sisterhood to angels, possessing all goodness and being an assurance of joys everlasting. Noah was at one time so affected by wine that he revealed and showed to his sons his private parts, in such a fashion that one of his sons mocked him and another covered them up. And Lot, who was a very chaste man, became so inebriated from drinking too much wine that, atop a mountain, he had carnal knowledge of his daughters, and had his way with them as though they had been his own wives. Crete relates that Boece, who was the flower of all men, treasure of riches, extraordinary vessel of intelligence, mirror of the world, fragrance of good renown, and glory of his subjects, lost all these things through [his love of] luxury. We have seen that various persons who, while sober, were joined in great friendship, so that one might put himself at risk of death for another, when they were excited by wine or drunk have attacked each other with murderous intent, and some have even succeeded in killing their friends. Herod Antipas would not have had Saint John the Baptist beheaded, had not his dinner been one of gluttony and drunkenness. Balthazar the king of Babylon would not have been chased out of his kingdom nor slain if he had been sober among his supporters, of whom Cyrus and Darius, finding him drunk, killed him.

Hostelers ought to be well-spoken and courteous in their speech to those whom they receive into their lodgings. For pleasing words, cheerful countenance, and gracious manners prompt men to give a hosteler a good reputation. Thus it is said, in a common proverb "courteous language and fair speech is worth much, but costs little." And elsewhere it is said that courtesy surpasses beauty. Because those who find accommodations in their inns may be facing many dangers and misfortunes on the roads to be travelled, they [i.e. hostelers] ought to accompany them as they depart, to show them the way and advise them about any dangers, with the aim that they undertake their voyage or journey reassured. Also, they ought to safeguard their persons and their possessions [during their stay], and [thereby] the good reputation and renown of their inns. We read that Lot, after he had very graciously welcomed into his house the angels (whom he supposed to be mortal men and strangers) so that they could escape the inordinate and unnatural sin of lechery of the Sodomites, through the virtue of good faith, he set aside the natural love of a father and offered to them his daughters, who were virgins, so that they should be protected and kept from that villainous and horrible sin.

You should certainly know that all those things that are taken and delivered into the custody of the host or hostess should be kept safe and returned again without any damage. For the host ought to know that whoever comes into his house to be lodged adopts it as his own residence for a time. He himself and all such things as he brings with him are rightfully committed into the care and keeping of the host or hosteler, and ought to be as safe as if they were deposited in his very own house. Such hosts also ought to employ in their houses servants that are honest and without avarice, so that they do not covet the possessions of their guests, nor take away from their horses the provender that is given them, so that because of this the horses die, or fail their masters when they have need of them and are at risk of falling into the hands of their enemies. For in such a case the servants should [die?] because of their evil – and their masters should see to it – for without doubt such a thing is worse than theft.

Once upon a time it happened in the region of Lombardy, in the city of Genoa, that a nobleman was lodged in a hostelry, along with his large entourage. After they had given provender to their horses, in the first hour of the night, the servant of the house came secretly to the horses, to steal their provender. But when he came to the lord's horse, it seized his arm in its teeth and held him fast, so that he could not escape. When the thief realized he was so firmly held, he began to cry so loudly from the great pain he was suffering that the nobleman's men came with the host. But in no way, nor for anything they could do, could they extract the thief from the horse's mouth, until the time that the neighbours – who were disturbed by the ruckus – came to see what it was. Then he was known for a thief and arrested and brought before the judge, confessed his act, and by a definitive sentence was hanged and lost his life. Much the same thing happened to another who did likewise; the horse struck him in the face, so that the point of the horseshoe and its nails remained forever embedded.

Another case, villainous and cruel, occurred at Toulouse. It happened that a young man and his father had gone on a pilgrimage to Saint James in Galicia and were lodged in the hostelry of an evil host, consumed by covetousness, in that he desired the possessions of the two pilgrims. After thinking things over, he secretly placed a silver cup in the trunk the young man was carrying. When they departed from the lodging, he followed them and said before the officers of the court that they had stolen and carried off his cup. The young man defended himself and his father, saying they were innocent of the accusation. Then they searched them and the cup was found in the trunk of the young man, who was forthwith condemned to death and hanged as a thief. This act being performed, all the possessions that had belonged to the pilgrim were confiscated and given to the host. Then the father went to complete his pilgrimage and, as he returned, had to pass by the place where his son hung on the gibbet. As he approached, he complained to God and to Saint James how they could allow this misfortune to happen to his son. Shortly his suspended son spoke to his father, saying how Saint James had preserved him from harm, and he instructed his father to go to the judge and tell him of this miracle and how he had not deserved this fate. When this was made public, the son of the pilgrim was taken down from the gibbet and the case was brought before the judge. The host was accused of a treacherous deceit; he confessed his offence, saying he did it because he coveted the possessions. Then the judge condemned him to be hanged on the same gibbet where the young man was hanged.

What I have said about male servants, the same is so of women who are chambermaids or tapsters. For a similar case occurred in Spain at Santa Donna of a chambermaid who likewise placed a cup in the bag of a pilgrim, because he refused to commit the sin of lechery by engaging in sex with her; as a result of which he was hanged. His father and mother, who were there with him, went and completed their pilgrimage. When they returned they found their son still alive. When they went and told the judge, he said he would not believe it until a cock and a hen which were roasting on the fire were restored to life and the cock crowed. Shortly after they began to come back to life and the cock crowed and began to crow and to forage. When the judge saw this miracle he went and took down the son, and had the chambermaid arrested and hanged. Consequently I say that hosts should employ no tapsters or chambermaids unless they are of good character and honest. For much harm may befall or come through the outrageous behaviour of servants.

Chapter 7: concerning wardens of towns, customers, and toll collectors

The wardens and keepers of cities are represented by the seventh pawn, which stands on the left side, in front of the knight. It is shaped in the likeness of a man holding large keys in his left hand, and in his right hand a pot and an ell for measuring; and he ought to have on his girdle a purse that is open. The keys signify those who have the keeping of towns and cities, and of communal offices. The pot and the ell symbolize those who have the duty to weigh and make measurements accurately. And the purse indicates those who receive the customs, tolls, scavage, peage, and duties belonging to the cities and towns. This category of person is rightly placed in front of the knight, for it is appropriate that wardens and officials of the towns be instructed and directed by the knights, and that the latter – who have the responsibility of safeguarding and defending cities and towns – are informed about, and enquire into, how they are governed.

First, it is necessary that keepers of a city be diligent, industrious, clear-sighted, and devoted to the common good and profit, both in times of peace and times of war. They should always go through the city checking up on everything, and reporting to the city governors whatever they find out or discover. In matters that pertain to the city and to its security they should report and declare any defects or dangers that may exist. If it is a time of war, they ought not to open the gates at night to any man. Men that are put in such offices ought to be of good renown and reputation, loyal and conscientious, so that they love the people of the city or town and will not, out of envy, covetousness, or hatred, accuse anyone of any villainy without cause; rather, they should be sorry and sad when they see any man complained of for any reason. For it often happens that various officials fraudulently accuse good people, for the purpose of earning gratitude and praise and holding on to their posts. Truly it is a great and extreme kind of malice to want to defame or do evil to someone else without cause, just to win glory for oneself.

The keepers and officers of cities also ought to be such that they permit no wrong or disgrace to be done without cause, in front of judges or governors of the city, to those who are innocent. But they should keep in mind He who knows the hearts and thoughts of all men, and dread and trust Him without whose grace their watch and ward is futile, and who promises that those that trust in Him will be made happy and content; for by Him all things are accomplished for the good.

It is found in the histories of Rome that the emperor Frederick the Second built a marble gate of marvellous construction and embellishment in the city of Capua, beside the river that runs around the same. Upon this gate he installed an image representing himself sitting in majesty, with two judges, one placed on his right side and the other on his left side. Within a disc above the head of the right-hand judge was the inscription: "Enter securely all those who live purely", in the disc over the left-hand judge was inscribed: "The dishonest man would do best to think twice, about doing things for which prison's the price", and above the emperor was inscribed: "I make them live in misery, whom I see live immorally." Therefore it is the responsibility of a judge to teach the people dread and reluctance to commit crime, the responsibility of the wardens and officers to trust the judges and to loyally perform their tasks and official duties, and the responsibility of a prince to threaten traitors and evil-doers with serious punishments.

In this regard we find in the ancient histories of Sicily that King Dionysius had a brother whom he loved well, but wherever the king went he had a downcast and sad countenance. Once, as they both travelled together in a chariot, there came towards them two poor men with filthy clothes but happy faces. As soon as the king saw them, he sprang out of his chariot and greeted them respectfully, with great reverence. This caused his barons to be not only astonished but also angry in their hearts, although fear and dread prevented them from demanding why he acted so; but they convinced his brother to ask the reason so that they might know for certain. Having heard his brother pose the question, saying that he was blessed and a king who was rich with many delights and people who honoured him, he asked his brother if he wished to try out and experience the good fortune and satisfactions of being a king? His brother answered, yes, that he desired and requested it of him. Then the king commanded all his subjects that they should obey, in all things, only his brother. When the dinner hour arrived and everything was ready, the brother was sat at the king's table. He saw that he was being served by noble butlers and other officials, and he listened to the sounds of melodious music. Then the king asked him if he imagined he was fortunate and contented, and he answered: "I do indeed believe I am truly blessed and fortunate, and that I have found out what it feels like and am expert in the matter". Then the king arranged that there be surreptitiously hung over his [brother's] head a sword with a sharp blade, suspended by a horse-hair or a silk thread so small that no man could see it or from where it hung. When he saw his brother cease to take things from the table, and pay no more attention to his servants, he said to him: "Why do you not eat? Are you not blessed? Say, if you feel anything other than blessed and well." And he answered: "Because I see this sharp sword hanging so tenuously and precariously above my head, I strongly feel that I am not blessed, for I am afraid that it might drop on my head." And then the king revealed to him why he was always so cheerless and serious. For in his position he always had to think about the sword – the hidden vengeance of God – which in his heart he could always perceive, for which reason he was constantly filled with anxiety. And therefore he gladly showed respect to poor people, who had happy looks and a clear conscience. This king provides a good illustration that a man who lives constantly in dread is not always merry or fortunate.

On the same subject Quintilian says that such a dread outweighs all other sorrows and troubles, for the anguish of dread is present night and day. It is truly so that he in whom so many people place their trust must also be able to trust; for the lord who dreads his servants is less than his servants. Indeed, it is a very positive thing to dread nothing but God. Sometimes even the hardiest of men have to live with anxiety. Anxiety causes a man to be attentive and busy looking after the things that are committed to him, so that they are not lost. But to be too bold or too fearful are both vices.

The officers of the community ought to be wise, discreet, and have good judgement, to the end that they not take or demand of people any more than they ought reasonably to have, nor take from sellers or buyers any more than the correct custom or toll; for they bear the title of a representative of the community and therefore they ought to treat all men commonly. Forasmuch as buyers and sellers sometimes have lengthy negotiations, they [the officers] ought to be imbued with the virtues of patience and forbearance, along with dignity, for those who act scornfully towards members of the community may sometimes be looked down upon as a villain. Therefore be careful that you show no disdain towards poor mendicants, if you aspire to higher things; for an injury that is done without cause rebounds to bring disrepute on he who does it.

Once upon a time a minstrel, seeing Socrates, said to him: "You have the look of a corrupter of children, and are no better than a traitor." When his disciples heard this, they wanted to avenge their master. But he reproved them for passing judgement, saying: "Let it pass, my fellows, for I am just such a one as he says, judging from the look of my face; yet I refrain, and keep well out of such things." This same Socrates was himself scolded and very rudely spoken to by his wife, and she inflicted on him innumerable injuries. She was once in a spot above his head and, when she had done with bawling, she made water and poured it onto his head. And again, he made no reply to her, except that, once he had wiped and dried his head, he commented that he had expected that after such wind and thunder would come rain and water. The other philosophers reproached him for not being able to control two women – his wife and his chambermaid – pointing out that one cock could manage to handle fifteen hens. He answered that he was so used and accustomed to the nagging that neither their gripes nor those of strangers caused him any grief or harm.

Put up with him who bawls or complains and, by enduring him with forbearance, you will vanquish him. Cato says: "When you live righteously, no need to care about the words of the malicious." And in that connection it is said in a common proverb "he who behaves well does not care who sees it." Besides, it is not in our power to prevent people from speaking. Prosper says that to good men come all good things, while bad men have no shortage of anxieties, animosities, and recriminations. Patience is a great virtue; as an excellent poet says, patience is a worthy weapon for vanquishing, for he who forbears overcomes. So if you wish to subdue and overcome, learn forbearance.

Neither toll-collectors nor those stationed along travel routes should take any peage or passage money other than the prince or the law have specified, for otherwise they would be highway robbers rather than receivers of peage and passage. It is incumbent on them to avoid any irregular or questionable actions if they want to keep their posts. They should demand toll, from those who are obliged to pay it, without being provocative or argumentative. And they ought to not to care about the common profit so much that they act in a way that goes against their conscience – for that would be a kind of robbery; in relation to this Isaiah says: "Woe to you who rob, for you too will be robbed."

The guards of the city gates (or porters) and those of the community should be good men and true. They ought to be honest of speech and should not take or dip into community revenues that they have in their custody, any more than belongs to them for their wages or fee, so that those who are made treasurers or keepers do not become known as thieves. Whoever takes more than what is his shall never prosper from it, nor keep it long; for the third heir shall not enjoy ill-gotten gains. Enough said.

Chapter 8: concerning ribalds, dice-players, messengers and couriers

The ribalds and dice-players, messengers and couriers should be placed in front of the rook who, as the vicar and lieutenant of the king, needs men capable of running here and there, to investigate and spy out places and cities that may be in opposition to the king. The pawn that represents this category of persons should be formed in the following way: he must have the shape of a man with long black hair, hold in his right hand a few coins, in his left hand three dice, and have around his waist a cord rather than a girdle; he should have a box full of letters. By the first (the money), it is to be understood that they are great wastrels, who dissipate their goods; by the second (the dice) are signified players at dice, ribalds, and boozers; and by the third (the box of letters) are indicated messengers, couriers, and letter-carriers.

You are to understand that the rook, as king's vicar, when he sees before him such persons as spendthrifts and wastrels, is obligated to appoint guardians and trustees to see that they do not dissipate, in such a manner, their possessions or heritage, so that poverty reduces them to stealing. For he who, through custom, has acquired an abundance of money and goods, and spends it foolishly and wastefully, once he comes to poverty, having nothing, has no choice than to beg for his bread or else become a thief. For these kinds of persons, if used to a life of luxury, will not work, for they have not learned how; and if they are of the families of nobility or gentry then they are too ashamed to beg. Thus, once they have dissipated their own goods, in order to survive they are forced to steal and rob goods from others. You must understand that prodigality is a really bad vice, for though it can sometimes do good by bringing profit to others, yet it harms and damages he who is prodigal. Cassiodorus admonishes prodigals to hold onto their possessions, so that they need not be brought to poverty and then obliged to beg or steal from others. For, he says, it is more perspicacious to hang on to your own goods than to go in search of those of strangers, and that it is a greater virtue the keep what you already have than to acquire or earn more. Claudian says likewise in his book, that it is a greater and better thing to hold on to what you have than to get more. Therefore it is said that the poor beg and solicit without feeling [any shame?], and it is also said that he who spends more than he has is smitten to death without a stroke.

There was a noble man named John de Ganazath who was very wealthy. This man had only two daughters, whom he married to noble men. After he had married them off, he became so fond of their husbands, his sons-in-law, that over a period of time he gradually divided between them all his material possessions. While he was giving to them, they were reverential to him and very diligent in pleasing and serving him. But the time came that he had given everything, and had absolutely nothing left. When that happened, those to whom he had given his possessions, whose inclination was to be agreeable and obliging as long as he was giving, once they knew he was poor and had nothing, became unkind, disagreeable, and neglectful. When the father saw that he had been deceived through his good-will and love of his daughters, he felt a great desire to escape his poverty. Finally he went to a merchant that he had known in the past and asked him to lend him ten thousand pounds, which he would repay within three days; and he obtained the loan. When he had brought it into his house, it happened that it was the day of a solemn festival; on which day he gave a splendid dinner for his daughters and their husbands. After dinner he took them into his chamber for privacy, and removed from a coffer, which he had had newly-made and secured with three locks, the money that the merchant had loaned him; this he poured out onto a tapestried cover, so that he daughters and their husbands might see it. After showing it to them, he picked it up again and put it back in the chest, saying that it was all his. After they departed, he took the money back to the house of the merchant from whom he had borrowed it. The following day his daughters and their husbands asked him how much money was in that chest which was shut with three locks, and he put on a pretence, saying that he had inside it twenty-five thousand pounds which he was keeping back for the time he made his testament, intending to leave it to his daughters and sons-in-law, if they behaved towards him as well as they did when they were newly married. When they heard this they were very happy, and they agreed amongst themselves to look after his needs honourably, in regard to clothing, food and drink, and everything else he needed up to the day he died. Later, when his end approached, he summoned his daughters and their husbands and spoke to them in this fashion: "You are to understand that that the money that is in the chest shut up with three locks I will leave to you. Excepting, that I wish you to give, in my living presence, before I die, to the Friars Preacher one hundred pounds, to the Friars Minor one hundred pounds, and to the Augustinian hermits fifty pounds, so that after I am buried and laid in the earth, you may ask them for the keys of the chest containing my treasure, of which keys they have custody. I have attached to each key a bill and document recording these instructions." You should also know that, as he lay on his death-bed, he also arranged to be given to each church and recluse, and to paupers, certain quantities of money, by the hands of his daughters' husbands, which they did gladly, hoping shortly to have the money they supposed to be in the chest. When at last came the day he died, he was carried to the church, his exequies performed, and was buried with solemnity. After the seventh-day service was honourably completed, they went to request the keys from the men of religion who had custody of them. These being handed over, they went and opened the coffer in which they expected to find the money. But there they found nothing except a large club, on whose handle was written "I, John of Ganazath, make this testament. That whoever abandons his own profit and gives it to another is to be killed with this club; for it is unwise for a man to give his possessions to his children and keep none for himself."

You should understand that it is very foolish to spend and waste all you own, in the hopes of getting something back from others, be it son or daughter, or close relatives. For a man ought to keep possession of his wealth, for his own expenditure, before he thinks about spending other men's. He ought not to be considered a good man, who has no great reputation but spends greatly. I believe that such persons would gladly make up tales to annoy and injure lords and stir up wars and contentions against those who have an abundance of wealth and possessions; as well as provoking an outcry attempting extortions, and fomenting troubles against their lords, in order to waste the goods of the people, just as they have wasted their own. Such a waster of goods can never be beneficial to the common profit.

You must also understand that, next after these wasters of goods, we say that dice-players and those who frequent brothels are the worst of all. For when the passion for playing dice, or the covetousness of their filthy lechery, has brought them to poverty, it necessarily follows that they become thieves and robbers; it is the same with drunks and gluttons. All kinds of mischief and evils follow them, and they gladly follow the companies of knights and noblemen when they go to war or to battle, being less interested in a victory than in opportunities for robbery; they do much harm as they go on their way, but contribute little to the prospect of victory.

In connection with which, once upon a time it happened that Saint Bernard was riding on a horse about the countryside when he met with a gambler, or dice-player, who said to him: "You there, man of God, will you play at dice with me? Your horse against my soul." To whom Saint Bernard replied: "If you will put up your soul to me, against my horse, I will dismount and play with you. If you get more points than I on three dice, I promise you shall have my horse." This made the gambler happy and he cast the three dice. Each dice came up a six, which totalled eighteen points. Thereupon he took the horse by the bridle, being sure that he had won, and said that the horse was his. Then Saint Bernard said: "Patience, my son, for there are more than eighteen points on the dice." Then he rolled the dice in such a way that one of the dice broke apart in the middle, and one half showed a six and the other an ace, while each of the others came up a six. Then Saint Bernard declared that he had won his soul, since he had rolled nineteen points on three dice. When the player perceived this miracle, he gave his soul to Saint Bernard, became a monk, and finished his life doing good works.

The couriers and bearers of letters ought to make the journeys commanded them hastily and speedily, without dawdling; for any such delays might annoy or injure those who send them off, or those to whom they are sent, or divert them [i.e. the carriers] to some villainy or damage. For which reason, every nobleman should pay attention to whom he hands over his letters and gives his commands; for sometimes such people are entertainers or drunkards, who go out of their way to seek out employment from abbeys and noblemen. It often happens that, when such messengers or couriers are delayed by any dawdling, other couriers bearing information contrary to his arrive before him, which often results in reverses such as loss of friends, castles, lands, or various other things – as occur in mercantile ventures. Sometimes it even happens that a prince, by the default of such messengers, may fail to win a victory over his enemies.

Furthermore, there are some who, when they enter a city where they have not been before, are more preoccupied with visiting the city and the noblemen living there than they are with completing their journey. Which they ought not to do, unless specifically instructed to do so by those who despatched them. Also, when they are sent off by any lords or merchants, they should be well aware that they should not consume too much food in the morning nor too much wine in the evening, whereby their sinews and veins might be injured, so that for default of self-control they have to delay. Rather they ought to go and to return with haste, to report to their masters any answers as applicable. And this is enough of such matters.


Caxton's manual for language training, untitled when published but later referred to as "Dialogues in English and French", and which was also marketed as "A Book for Travellers", is an adaptation of a fourteenth-century book of dialogues in French and Flemish, very probably written at Bruges. Caxton's version altered this to French and English. The text of the book is laid out in two parallel columns of brief lines of text – that on the left bearing the French text, and that on the right its English equivalent – grouped into sentences, so that readers can see the terms with which they may wish to familiarize themselves in a context of grammatical use. These sentences are often grouped into brief anecdotes or longer conversations. This is a book to be studied, rather than a ready-reference dictionary, for the information is organized thematically rather than alphabetically – although the section on trades and occupations is an exception, organized alphabetically by Christian name of the tradespersons (except that the A's and most of the B's deal with phrases useful in general conversation, for ordering food and drink, and other miscellaneous matters, transitioning subtly into the section on trades).

Caxton is thought to have printed this book around 1483, some three decades after Gutenberg had invented moveable metal type and shown off the new technology by printing the Bible. Neither Caxton's original source, nor the manuscript from which it was adapted, have survived. One adaptation of the manuscript exists in the Bibliothèque nationale de France and, at the initiative of a curator there, Henri Michelant, was published under the title Le Livre des Mestiers in 1875. This version of the original is not identical to that used by Caxton, which Bradley considers generally superior. Caxton's edition has the French and an English translation generated from the (omitted) Flemish; some of the English translations are imperfect. His source was probably fuller than Michelant's, but Caxton's version also seems to have added a small amount of new material.

It is uncommon to see so many occupations dealt with, however shallowly, in one source. In contrast to the rather negative and sometimes harsh portrayals of craftsmen and merchants one tends to find in much medieval literature, this text has not the same purpose of social criticism or moral teaching. It can afford to be more neutral in tone, lighter, mostly matter-of-fact, yet lively and occasionally tongue-in-cheek. Thus we have on one side the diligent tailor and conscientious headdress-maker, the charitable draper, the hard-working cordwainer, the baker who respects market regulations, the fair-minded corn-measurer who is worn out with work, the unjustly criticized miller, and a host of craftspeople who seem to perform satisfactory work; while on the other there are the hosier and brewer who do shoddy work, the brush-maker who lacks drive, the dilatory dyer, the possibly corrupt toll-collector, the thieving servant, and that ubiquitous easy target the money-lender. Yet the characters we encounter are presented with little editorial comment: no real sense of reprehension and only the mildest of censures (as in the case of the wine crier who likes to sample what he is marketing); even the brothel-keeper and money-changer escape any moralizing themselves, although the latter occasions a brief diversion on the effect of money on spiritual values. Thus we avoid any impression of caricature or stereotype, and the various individuals have an air of realism (except that we do not become deeply acquainted with their characters) – for all we know, the original author may have had particular persons in mind when writing.

Michelant suggested that the earliest version was authored by a schoolmaster – based on internal evidence (such as that in the opening verse above) and an attribution in a sixteenth century adaptation – and Werner Hullen ["A Close Reading of William Caxton's Dialogues," in Historical Pragmatics, ed. Andreas Jucker, Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 1995,pp.107-09] describes how it might have been used in a classroom; certainly constructed dialogues, based on questions and answers, had long been a vehicle for education. Be that as it may, it was evidently thought, by Caxton and by the author of the version from which Caxton made his adaptation, that prominent among the travellers who might find such a book useful would be merchants and other men of business; perhaps also the local hosts of such travellers, who might be acting as intermediaries in business transactions. For the contents have a particular focus on matters that could prove helpful to them, such as names of different fish, grains, common drinks, hides and skins, goods of mercery, cloth, and wool, towns and fairs, and suchlike, closing with a list of the names of different coins in circulation and their values. The list of trades and occupations serves this target audience, among others, while also introducing users to a number of personal names, some of which had no English equivalents. The book reminds me rather of a cross between a French-English phrasebook and The Schoolboy's Pocket Book (an invaluable resource of my youth). Caxton made the work more useful by adding a table of contents, lacking in the original.

It is important to keep in mind that the above text extracted from the Dialogues was written for a Flemish context. But Caxton must have felt comfortable that the almost haiku-style anecdotes, their settings, the activities described, and concepts presented in the original work were for the most part not alien, but readily understandable, to English readers of his own time.

William Caxton was a Kentishman – it has been conjectured his was a gentry family based at the manor of Causton, near Hadlow – and was himself a successful merchant for much of his life, having been apprenticed to London mercer Robert Large about 1437, which would suggest he was born in the early 1420s. Large was an important wholesaler, who been a warden of the Mercers' Company in 1427, sheriff of London in 1430, and mayor in 1439. Large died 1441, when Caxton was still one of his apprentices, and Caxton did not himself take out membership in the Mercers' Company until 1451.

It was probably in the years following Large's death that Caxton moved to the great trading centre of Bruges, a meeting-place for merchants from all over Europe; where he would spent a good part of his life, selling English cloth and buying luxury goods (such as furs, silk, saffron) to import into England. It was a natural extension of the training phase for a mercantile career to spend some time familiarizing oneself with foreign markets, making connections, and learning some of the language. By 1462 he was one of the leading English merchants there, important enough to have been made governor of the English mercantile community in Flanders, a post giving him administrative, police, judicial, and ambassadorial duties, and one which he held to at least 1470; fluency in Dutch and French, as well as negotiating skills, were likely factors in electing him to this post. As governor he had to enforce the English Parliament's embargo (1463) on importation of luxury items from Flanders, and the Duchy of Burgundy's restrictions on trade of English cloth, imposed because of concerns that English wool was being sold a excessively high prices, to the detriment of Flemish weavers. Bradley [] suspected that it was in this period that Caxton wrote an English column into his copy of the French-Flemish phrasebook, for his personal use, and only later gave thought to publishing it. It is not universally accepted that Caxton himself produced the English – it might have been some other Flanders-based English mercer of Caxton's acquaintance; but there are a number of characteristics, including some of the additional material in Caxton's version, that support his editorship.

By July 1471 Caxton had moved to the Hanse city of Cologne, perhaps out of concern that his Yorkist connections had put him at risk following the restoration of Henry VI. Even though Edward IV was by now back in power, Caxton had been replaced in the post of governor. Printing had been introduced to Cologne in the 1460s, and the university there bolstered the market for books in what was anyway a major trading centre. He seems to have been at a loose end there, involved (as far as we can see) neither in administration nor commerce, but spent time on translating the Recuyell of the Histories of Troy, and on publishing the encyclopedic De proprietatibus rerum, employing a printer to handle the technical aspects, while doubtless learning much about printing. It may be that the restrictions on commerce between England and France encouraged Caxton to diversify his income by becoming involved in the book-trade, books not being covered under the English embargo on Flemish luxury goods.

Caxton left Cologne in late 1472 and by 1473/74 was back in Bruges. Whether this shift was related to Edward IV's return to the throne or to competition from other printers in Cologne, we do not know. The Duke of Burgundy and his wife, Margaret of York (sister to Edward IV), were patrons of manuscript book production, and the latter had encouraged Caxton's work on the Histories of Troy. He continued in the printing/publishing business, gaining more experience in the trade, and in 1473 was responsible for the first book to be printed in English: his own translation of Recuyell of the Histories of Troy. It was here too that he printed, the following year, another book in English, The Game of Chesse, again his own translation (of a French translation of Jacopo da Cessole's Latin original); his first edition was dedicated to Margaret of York's brother, the Duke of Clarence, though this dedication disappeared from a second edition (c.1483), produced after Clarence's downfall. Caxton was also employed in a diplomatic role by Edward IV, seeking to organize an Anglo-Burgundian alliance to make war on France, but Edward's peace treaty with France in 1475 brought an end to that, and it was probably soon afterwards that Caxton felt it advisable to remove himself from the Duke of Burgundy's Flemish territory and return to England.

In 1476 we find him renting a shop in Westminster. He remained at this new base, in the abbey precincts, the rest of his life. The choice of base may have been related to the fact that much of the bread-and-butter work of a printing business came as small jobs commissioned by churchmen, and perhaps also the royal administration. But Caxon did not want simply to run a printing shop, he planned to be a publisher who would farm out smaller jobs to other printers while himself focusing on translating or editing works whose content revolved around historical or philosophical matters. Beginning with Chaucer's Canterbury Tales – a work whose popularity was already well-established, and so a sound choice for his first printing effort in England – he carried out a successful commerce in producing print books, and importing books printed elsewhere in Europe. He survived the transition from the House of York to the Tudors; although his output was reduced under Henry VII, he continued to handle enough business for the new king, as for his predecessors, that he can be considered a 'king's printer' [on this aspect of his work see, Anne Sutton, "William Caxton, King's Printer c.1480-85: A Plea for History and Chronology in a Merchant's Career," pp.259-82 in C. Barron and A. Sutton, eds. The Medieval Merchant, Harlaxton Medieval Studies, vol.24 (2014). After his death in 1492 one of his employees, Wynkyn de Worde, took over the business.

It is evident enough that William Caxton was a literate man; his parents sent him to school before he was apprenticed. It has been speculated that he was related to Thomas Caxton, who first appears in the records as a resident of Tenterden, Kent, in 1454, and possibly earlier (although a 1439 reference may have been to a like-named father). Thomas evidently obtained some legal education or training, and went on to serve as town clerk for Lydd (1458-67), his good service to the town leading to his later election as jurat and bailiff; he then moved to New Romney for a brief stint as town clerk (1474-76), before moving up to the equivalent post at the most important of the Cinque Ports, Sandwich (1476-82). He also dabbled in commerce it seems, for he was described on one occasion as a chapman. There is no documented connection of the two Caxtons but a Thomas Caxton was witness to a will that became part of an archive related to the property of London mercer William Causton (possibly another family member), which ended up at Westminster Abbey. Another piece of circumstantial evidence is that in 1451 the London Mercer's Company commissioned at Sandwich (where Thomas Caxton already had connections) the production of gowns for servants of the Duchess of Burgundy, near whose court William Caxton was then living. Furthermore, after the Bastard of Fauconberg's rebellion (which had much support in Kent and the Cinque Ports) in 1471, Thomas Caxton felt obliged to take out a general pardon, and William Caxton (despite not even being in England) thought it advisable to do the same – conceivably to avoid being implicated through family connections, although possibly it was more a precaution to protect him from lawsuits in England than from political associations.

As an educated man from, perhaps, an educated family, William Caxton may have been the author of the latter half of the Dialogues section on Gervase the scrivener, which branches out into praise of education and is absent in Michelant; certainly it seems to reflect a personal enthusiasm for the topic. A similar sentiment – this time, not originating with Caxton – is found in The Game of Chess in regard to the notary (who is only one step beyond the scrivener), but greatly tempered by provisos relating to the potential for forgery or other fraud, which broadens into a virtual diatribe, and even Caxton gets into the act with an interpolated complaint about English lawyers; although such comments echo popular opinions of that time (which persist in our own), one suspects Cessole had specific instances in mind, if indeed not a personal axe to grind. The Dialogues never head so far in the direction of social criticism, for that is not the thrust of the work. The possibly lengthened section on George the book-seller (for Michelant does not give a list of types of books), may also have resonated with Caxton, despite George apparently being a dealer in second-hand books rather than a commissioner of copies. Caxton's preparedness to tinker, as he freely admitted, with the original texts he converted into the new medium of print stemmed from his belief in their didactic value, conveying historical knowledge of human experience and timeless advice about human behaviour; his relatively minor interventions aimed at embellishing or modernizing for his contemporary audiences. Although Caxton was likely a genuine believer in, and promoter of, education, we must also allow that the growth of a literate audience would be profitable to the business into which he had chosen to transfer much of his energies.

For William Caxton was first and foremost a businessman – unlike Gutenberg, who was technologically adept but no great businessman, unable to make printing profitable in its new-fangled days. Like most medieval businessmen, Caxton sought to a make a living from a variety of opportunities. The book trade was just one of these, and we should understand his involvement more as an entrepreneur than a pioneer of 'new technology'. The copying of manuscripts by hand was already a thriving business, often entailing translation of works from their original Latin or other languages into the vernacular. The Late Middle Ages had seen a growth in lay literacy and schooling, and an expanding demand for texts – those surviving that were produced in the fifteenth century are easily more than quadruple those from the fourteenth – which served the purposes of recreation, personal development, or pragmatic education; texts related to health or diet, for example, were popular, as were texts that provided spiritual and moral guidance – all partly explicable by the socio-psychological trauma brought about by the Black Death. However, the amount of labour involved in scribal copying made books expensive, and supply could not keep pace with demand. Evolving attitudes towards formal education, and growth of the market for information materials created the preconditions for a successful technological shift; so the introduction of printing cannot be seen as wholly revolutionary in terms of causing significant changes in attitude or demand, any more than it was in terms of displacing the older technology of scribal copying, which only gradually declined to cater to a niche market. As with most new technologies, printing took a while for the benefits to be widely appreciated. It was thus the successors to Gutenberg – men such as Caxton – who took the existing concept of multiple reproduction of texts, saw that an existing need was not being met, applied printing press technology, and made printed books commercially viable, by supplying more readily and more cheaply a recognized demand for reading materials; just as the increasing availability of paper furnished the growth of lay literacy with less expensive writing materials for schooled laymen other than professional scribes to make their own transcripts of, or notes from, existing texts.

Caxton published mainly works in English (some two-thirds of his books were) and Latin – a few in French mainly being during his stay in the Low Countries. Caxton translated some works from French for his English market. His focus on his native tongue was a business choice, as there was little competition here, whereas Latin books by other European printers were in good supply. The gentry was his primary target clientele, although he also had fellow merchants in mind; Latin works were mainly liturgical (commissions from groups belonging to the Church) and Books of Hours intended to guide the devotions of private persons. Although quite a few of his books were dedicated to noble patrons, the businessman knew it was unwise to rely solely on such patronage; he also obtained some financial support from Londoners, particularly after the intrigues following the death of Edward IV. By this period there were even public libraries in existence in London and Bristol. Caxton kept his English translations in a simple language, influenced by the form of the vernacular emerging in London, and in his turn reinforcing that form as the national standard.

Caxton's Dialogues was part of a long tradition of didactic works produced for the purpose of language training. Something in similar vein, and again with an English connection, is exemplified by the Dictionarius of John de Garlandia written around 1220; despite its name (the earliest known application of the term) it is more of a treatise ,or manual, organized thematically, that conveyed the kind of Latin vocabulary useful in daily speech, by placing them within a contextual narrative in the form of descriptions of various subjects – including everyday life in an urban setting – such as trade and craft activities of the occupiers of shops, stalls, and workshops and itinerant hawkers, along with their wares or products, as illustrated by the following extracts [Martha Carlin, "Shops and Shopping in the Early Thirteenth Century: Three Texts" in Money, Markets and Trade in Late Medieval Europe, ed. L. Armstrong et al., Leiden: Brill, 2007, pp.509-11, 513-16]:

"Today one of our neighbors carried a pole of shoes for sale: laced shoes with pointed toes and buckled shoes, boots, and leggings, and the boots worn by women and monks.
Girdlers have before them white, black, and red [leather] belts, well-studded with iron and copper, and girdles of woven silk, well-barred with silver.
Saddlers sell saddles, both bare and painted, and also saddle pads, pillions, canvas, and pack-saddles, and stirrups.
William, our neighbor, has in the market before him the following goods [for sale]: needles and needle-cases, soap, mirrors, razors, whetstones, and fire-irons.
Lorimers are highly esteemed by noble knights for their silvered and gilded spurs, their resonant poitrels, and their well-made bridles.
Today I saw a peddler who had before him table knives and small knives, sheaths great and small, styluses, and grafting knives.
Merchants dwelling on the Grand-Pont sell halters, breech-girdles, straps, and purses made of deerskin, sheepskin, and pigskin.
Glovers bilk the scholars of Paris by selling them unlined gloves, gloves lined with lambskin, rabbit fur, and fox fur, and mittens made of leather.
Hatters make hats of felt and peacock feathers, and caps of cotton, and little caps of wool and fur.
There are lowly cobblers who stitch together old shoes, renewing the patches, the welts, the soles, and the uppers.
Cordwainers are those who make footwear of tawed leather. They benefit the city of Paris by saving lasts for shoes and boots and spatulas. They cut the leather, which has been dyed black, with a cobbler's knife, and sew the footwear with an awl and linen thread and a pig bristle.
Skinners grow rich by their pilches and skins sewn together to make fur linings, some made of lambskin, some of catskin, some of the skins of hares, some of fox skins. Skinners sell delightful pelts of coneys and [?eastern] squirrels, and of [?western] squirrels, which are smaller than [?eastern] squirrels, according to Isidore [of Seville], and of otters and weasels. But they sell more dearly vair and gris, and trimmings of sable and dormouse.
Wine-criers cry, with gaping throat, wine that was broached in the taverns, at fourpence, sixpence, eightpence, and twelvepence, carrying wine poured from a gallon jug into a hanap for sampling.
Drapers, driven by greed, sell false white and black woolen cloths, camelins and blues and imitation burnets, greens, imitation scarlets, striped cloths, and stamforts. They defraud buyers by measuring the cloths badly with a short ell and a false thumb.
Some men usurp for themselves the trades of women by selling table linens and towels, linen sheets, shirts and drawers, finely-pleated chemises, rochets, stamins and linens, wimples and kerchiefs.
Fullers, naked and panting, full woolen and shaggy cloths in a deep trough, in which is white clay) and hot water. After this they dry the cleansed cloths in the sun in clear weather and scrape over them with many sharp teasels so that they will be more salable.
Dyers of woolen cloths dye cloths with woad and red madder, on account of which they have dyed nails, of which some are black, some blue, some red, and so they are spurned by pretty women, unless they are accepted for the sake of cash.
Tanners work hard tanning horsehides and oxhides in hollow tree­trunks, and they scrape the hides with a knife called a scraper. They turn the hides frequently in their tanbark solution so that the raw stench of the hides will dissipate.
On an anvil, with hammers and tongs and the puffing of bellows, smiths make coulters and plowshares, horseshoes, the iron edge for a spade or shovel, or mattocks or hoes, not forgetting scythes for the meadow grasses and sickles for grains.
Women weavers lead their bobbin-sticks or shuttles through the warp-threads with the weft-thread, which is drawn from a spool and spindle. The woman weaver then beats up the weft-thread with her slay or weaver's sword, turns the spool on the windlass and begins [weaving] the web by the pulling of the threads and the balls of thread.
Kembsters sit by the fire, near the privy and the bum-wipers, in old pilches and filthy veils, while they comb coarse wool that they yank through their iron-toothed combs."

John de Garlandia was born in England around 1195 and studied at Oxford before moving to Paris to continue his studies and afterwards become a teacher of grammar at the university there; he lived in a street from which he took his surname. It was to support his teaching that he wrote the Dictionarius – the first of a number of educational and poetical works – using a walk through the streets of Paris as one organizing motif, though drawing on other sources, including his own home, and memories. To the modern reader this gives a slightly confused impression, for the author switches back and forth between topics, as his eye or mind turns to them – a little like FitzStephen's description of London. But this technique was likely aimed at retaining the interest of his readers, young men who, although in clerical orders, would have to interact with the secular world to some extent and must therefore understand its terminology, as well as its underlying ethics and morals – significantly, he concludes with images from Heaven and Hell and comments on the Last Judgement. Garland has been described as "an observant man, curious and well informed" [Barbara Blatt Rubin, The Dictionarius of John de Garlande, Lawrence: Coronado Press, 1981, p.4]. His reputation as a teacher became sufficient for him to be appointed, in 1229, to the faculty of the new university at Toulouse; though, fleeing the resurgent Cathars, he returned to Paris in 1232, dying there before 1272. His various grammatical works were popular in England and some were later printed by Wynkyn de Worde.

Like Caxton's source for the Dialogues, Garland is prepared to diverge, if mostly just in passing, from his objective descriptions to express some opinion of the craftspeople and traders featured in his narrative. While the work of some is declared beneficial to society (e.g. shield-makers, cordwainers) or commendable for its quality (e.g girdlers, lorimers, furbishers), others are just in it for their own financial benefit, some of them defrauding their customers by overcharging or offering sub-standard goods (e.g. glovers, regrators, pasty-sellers, butchers), while money-changers are, as per convention, seen as one step away from usury. Particular targets for condemnation are drapers, who are accused of selling by false measure and passing low-quality cloth off for good, as well as windsters (women who wound silk thread into skeins); the kinds of accusations levelled against the latter – coin-clipping, prostitution, and purse-cutting – might leave us wondering if Garland had a personal axe to grind, though his characterization of kempsters is hardly more appealing. It may be that some of the colourful but derogatory elements of Garland's text were intended to steer his students away from indulging in pleasures of the flesh, rather than voicing his personal distastes, for in his description of the lively streets and the plethora of foodstuffs available there, one senses a similar suppressed enthusiasm that is evident in FitzStephen's feelings about London.

A similar approach to that taken by John de Garlandia is seen in works of earlier and later writers who, as purveyors of vocables and of educational services, were not so far set apart from the traders in material wares they described. For instance, the previous century saw Alexander Neckam produce a discursive treatise teaching vocabulary through descriptions of domestic, urban, rural, and marine settings, among other topics. Neckam (ca. 1157-1217) was also English by birth, hailing from St. Albans and reputedly sharing a wet-nurse (his mother) with Prince Richard, born on the same date. After being educated at the abbey school at St. Albans, he was appointed schoolmaster at the abbey's dependent house at Dunstable. Around 1175 he moved to Paris, became a member of the school of Petit-Pont, and by 1175 was lecturing at the university. He had returned to his schoolmaster duties by 1186, first at Dunstable then at St. Alhans, and then went to Oxford to pursue advanced studies. Having joined the Augustinian canons of Cirencester before the close of the century, from 1213 he served as their abbot for the last years of his life. Besides his theological writings, not especially distinguished, his interest in grammar and the natural world led to a wide range of written works, including the De nominibus utensilium (written ca.1190), and his poetry and translations of Aesop's fables were also published. The De utensilibus (as more commonly known) was doubtless written during his time in Paris and calls heavily on what he saw and experienced there, although also some of his memories of England, using the same peripatetic narrative style subsequently adopted by John de Garlandia; although a far more modest scientific achievement than some of his other works, its great popularity is reflected in the large number of copies that are extant.

Even earlier than Neckam came Adam du Petit-Pont, yet another Englishman – taking his original surname of de Balsham from his birthplace near Cambridge – to move to Paris first to study, and then to teach, at the university, in the mid-twelfth century; he initially taught grammar and logic, but later theology. His life is somewhat obscure, but John of Salisbury, one of his students, has written a little about Adam. Adam acquired a new surname from the neighbourhood of Paris where he ran a private school. After some years there he returned to England; he has been credited with spending his last few years as Bishop of St. Asaph's (1176-80), but this was probably a different Adam, for the grammarian may have already been dead. Little of his written work is known and his main achievement is considered a treatise on logic, but his De utensilibus ad domum, produced around the 1140s, was the most popular, surviving in over a dozen manuscripts. It reflects his interest in teaching vocabulary in the fashion later adopted by Neckam, an admirer of Adam's work, and Garland; it was framed as a tour of Adam's family manor in England, describing its structure and contents, perhaps based on an actual visit home rather than memory. Adam, however, not only confined himself to a rural setting, but was also focused on the objects he observed, whereas Neckam's interest went beyond them to their makers and to the skills and processes they applied [Lisa Cooper, Artisans and Narrative Craft in Late Medieval England, Cambridge: University Press, 2011, pp.26-27.]

The "Treatise" (as so-called) of Walter de Bibbesworth, a Hertfordshire knight and poet, was written in verse in the second half of the thirteenth century, a time when English was well on its way to becoming the pre-eminent mother-tongue, even among members of the upper classes, (though French and Latin were still the languages of record and administration). Spoken French was by now for most native Englishmen (and women) an acquired language. Bibbesworth's work was was intended as a kind of phrase-book, to teach French vocabulary to the children of a particular aristocratic family, also with land in Hertfordshire, probably to help them when they would have estates of their own to manage, although perhaps also to assist with learning Latin any destined for the Church [Tony Hunt, Teaching and Learning Latin in Thirteenth-Century England, Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 1991, vol.1, p.13-14]. Some working knowledge of French (even if only the degenerated Anglo-Norman variant) was a desirable skill for any townsman interested in earning a livelihood from administrative or legal occupations, as well as to traders likely to be active across the Channel or in south-east England and the counties surrounding London, where French-speaking merchants were most likely to be encountered. Not surprising, then, that Bibbesworth's phrase-book was later more widely disseminated and became a popular textbook until the close of the Middle Ages, in its own right and in a version known as Femina reworked by some other writer and aimed at teaching the young good manners in both speech and behaviour in a trilingual society. Given its target audience, it does not venture into an urban setting; some of the themes used to organize the work were the body, clothing, diet, agricultural activities, baking, brewing, and cloth-making, and aspects of domestic life.

If the lexicographical works of Neckam and Garland point to some medieval thinkers giving more attention to the material and everyday world of commerce and industry than to spiritual or moral matters, this trend is more pronounced by the time of Caxton, for whom commerce was of course a perfectly valid and socially beneficial occupation, and the marketplace was the cultural milieu of his target audience. Besides familiarizing its readers with terminology, Caxton's Dialogues might also be seen serving as a guide to how to conduct oneself in dealing with traders and manufacturers in a foreign culture, from both the professional and social perspectives. Behavioural guides, as notes Lisa Cooper [op.cit., p.35], were popular with consumers and Caxton produced a number of printed books in this vein. Another of this genre is The Game and Play of the Chesse, issued in 1474 and again in 1483 – with some editorial adjustments that are mostly minor, and often corrections – when accompanied by woodcuts that provided an illustration for each chapter's theme.

The Game of Chess began life as a treatise authored by Jacopo da Cessole (ca.1250 - ca.1322), Liber de moribus hominum et officiis nobilum ac popularium super ludo scacchorum: The book of the morals of men and the duties of nobles and commoners, in the game of chess. It is generally felt to have been written around 1315. However, it is possible to argue that his views and ideas were forming in conjunction with historical developments of up to two decades earlier, perhaps intentionally avoiding more mainstream metaphors, and their baggage, used to understand and portray socio-political relations; so that composition may well have been rather earlier than 1315.

Cessole, who takes his name from the small northern Italian community where he was born, became a Dominican and was associated with monasteries in Savona and particularly Genoa; a man of that name served (ca.1317/22) as vicar of the papal inquisitor in Lombardy and the Genoese territories. Otherwise we know little about him and the De Ludo Scachorum, as his work is commonly known, is the only writing that can be attributed to him with certainty. Perceptible in his thought is the Genoese context of a great commercial and cultural centre, a city-state experimenting with communal forms of government, but caught up in external wars against other Italian city-states for control over Mediterranean commerce, wracked by internal power-struggles between ambitious families, some with roots in the feudal aristocracy and others nouveaux riches through mercantile activity, complicated by the wider political conflict between Church and State, one manifestation of which was Guelf-Ghibelline factionalism and its resultant evils. The relatively materialistic society of Genoa included the full range of occupational groups, and must have provided ample opportunity to witness instances of the inherent moral dilemmas that were discussed by the great philosophers and theologians to whose works Cessole evidently, and unsurprisingly, had access. It must have been easy for him to imagine the convoluted politics of these various players, and the involvement of the common people as pawns in political machinations, as if some great game, a cutthroat game lacking a moral compass.

Caxton's translation was not made directly from a copy of Cessole's manuscript, but from a French translation of the same. Several such translations are known, and it seems that Caxton had access to two: a mid-fourteenth century translation made by another Dominican, Jean Ferron, and a contemporaneous, and more popular, translation by Jean de Vignay, a Parisian hospitaller of the order of St. John of Jerusalem. When making his English version, Caxton consulted both, or perhaps a single translation already combining the two, produced in Flanders (where he acknowledges coming across the work); it has also been argued that he consulted the Latin text of Cessole, perhaps where uncertain about the meaning of the French translators. It is possible that the woodcuts commissioned by Caxton were inspired by illustrations in his copy of one or other of the French translations. At much the same period that the French translators were working, a Swiss Benedictine, Konrad von Ammenhausen, was producing a German translation that incorporated some new anecdotes and increased the instances of occupations in some categories.

The Game of Chess can operate at several levels. At first glance one might assume it was a guide to playing chess: the opening book dealing with the historical origins of the game, the second with the necessary characteristics or attributes of the principal pieces, the third with those of the pawns, and the fourth with the ways in which each piece can be moved and act upon the other pieces; but this was not its real object. It can also be seen as an interpretation of social structure using the metaphor of the players and procedures involved in the game of chess, the analysis of chess is really only a platform, and the characterization of its pieces as social groups a framework, for moralizing and for providing guidance on appropriate social behaviours. However, it does present a categorization of occupations that is interestingly close to the concepts adopted by modern historians. It also presents a perspective on social theory different to the traditional concept of a tripartite hierocracy, in which everyone outside the nobility or clergy was lumped together as a single group that existed to service the others; and different to the social-body metaphor in which a larger number of social or occupational groups are recognized, and likened to the different parts of the body, all of which had an essential role to play for the whole to function healthily, but still a fixed place in the overall scheme of things. This state-as-body metaphor – which retained the pre-eminence of the monarch, or brain atop and directing the body, and the fixed and immutable roles of the various components – was particularly popular with political philosophers weighing in during an intensification of the State-Church contest, in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. The Policraticus of John of Salisbury had even extended it to suggest that the component parts each had a degree of independence of action, even to the extent of overthrowing, in extreme circumstances, a tyrannical monarch.

Unlike the body theory, the state-as-chess-game metaphor (of which Cessole was not the originator) does not place the same stress on vital interdependence, but there are functional and interactional relationships, shaped by expectations, particularly between pieces adjacent on the board. Cessole's aim is to show that all groups within society have particular qualities that can benefit others, and particular roles to play; further, that these roles are inter-related to at least the point where failure to perform a role to the proper standards will adversely affect the functioning of other entities on the board, potentially leading to catastrophic results in the long run. In other words, each piece, or role-player, has the ability to act independently and self-interestedly, but the greatest benefit – that is, the common good – results when they collaborate according to prescribed principles or standards. Social order was thus not the product solely of a prince or other governor of a community exercising power and upholding the law, but of every individual adhering to the behavioural standards expected, and, more implicitly, having performance monitored by other members of the community who, if nothing else, exercise some control through shaping a performer's reputation – an important concept to most medieval people, impinging on social status and honour.

Cessole is no radical. As a churchman, he has many of the usual biases, such as distaste for usury and a low opinion of women, who are portrayed as unreliable, of lesser capability than and in most regards inferior to men, and even a potential source of corruption – for example, when the devil features in the text, feminine pronouns are sometimes employed. Furthermore, he accepted the demarcation between social orders, and their hierarchical relationship, headed by monarchs, as natural, even though he saw that the various groups were interactive, that moral or immoral behaviour knew no class boundaries, and that the rules of the game allowed for the possibility of social mobility: "no nobleman ought to scorn the common people, for it has often been seen that, through their qualities and intelligence, various of them have risen to positions as high as pope, bishop, emperor, or king... while many noblemen have been brought low by their failings." {Bk.4, ch.7] Cessole's concept of social interdependence does not come associated with any new vision of human rights; rather the emphasis is on the moral duties of people, to some extent as individuals but more so as members of an ideal society, for the effective and harmonious functioning of the whole. At the same time we see in his writing the growing acceptance of the artisanal class as an integral element of society, a trend earlier visible in John de Garlandia's perspective.

Nor should we really think of Cessole as a political theorist, still less as an historian. Just as the Dialogues were not intended as a moral treatise, so the De Ludo Scachorum was primarily just that, and it is of no interest to Cessole (nor his audience) whether the anecdotes he gives of supposed past events are historically accurate, so long as they illustrate his points. Insofar as he presents political ideas, it is largely to endorse the status quo. Although it may be significant that his society, as represented by the roster of chess pieces, has no place for political authority of ecclesiastics, this need not imply a political stance, and it is just as likely Cessole was steering clear of the dogmatic positions being taken by other writers, such as Giles of Rome and Marsilius of Padua. Cessole's chess-board represents only the secular landscape. Which is not to say that Cessole was unaffected by the ideas of such writers. Thomas Aquinas and his student Giles of Rome both emphasized the importance of virtuous behaviour by all members of society, to a common and high standard, if that society were to function for common benefit. This was a period when the mirror of princes genre flourished. It appears that Cessole was familiar with Giles' De Regimine Principum and with John of Salisbury's Policraticus; yet, although it would have served to instruct a prince in the art of government, his work seems aimed at a much broader audience – allowing for the limited degree of literacy in lay Italian society (probably higher than that in England), yet likely inclusive of the preachers who could regurgitate his ideas through their sermons. Indeed, his division of the pawns into a fairly inclusivist set of distinctive occupational categories, each empowered with independent action, suggests a more appreciative conceptualization of civic communities than is found in the writings of most, if not all, of contemporary or earlier theorists.

The chess metaphor did not inspire a school of political thought. Thomas Hoccleve called on it for his poetic adaptation of Giles' De Regimine Principum; in his preface he talked of Cessole's treatise, and implied he might make heavy use of it, but as things turned out he used it only as a source of anecdotes, ignoring the allegorical framework. The large number of surviving manuscript copies of Cessole's book nonetheless indicate it had acquired popularity, and at about the same time that Caxton was making an English translation, the text was also being translated into Dutch and Italian; Latin versions were also still being produced. Certainly the popularity was sufficient for Caxton to see it as an item that would interest English audiences. The dedication of his first edition to Clarence could be interpreted as indicating he was conscious of its association with the "mirror of princes" genre, and initially positioned it to appeal to the nobility (with whom the game itself had long been popular). Yet chess, as a game in which the king is the target of, and vulnerable to, opposing forces may have seemed a little close to the mark after Clarence's fall (1478). The second edition was given increased visual appeal through the woodcuts – illustration being a common feature of vernacular, though not of Latin, versions – although images used in Caxton's publications were never lavish and mainly aimed at helping readers visualize what was addressed in the text. This edition was re-targeted at middle class audiences – perhaps a more reliable market than a nobility that could afford more prestigious hand-copied manuscripts, and themselves quite familiar with chess – as the guide to moral behaviour it was originally intended to be.

Caxton's Dialogues and Game of Chess, along with the originals from which they evolved, are reflections of the growth, and emergence from the shadow of the aristocratic elite, of middle-class culture and sensibilities that would later spawn the descriptor bourgeoisie. A predominantly town-based culture that derived some of its values from aristocratic pretensions and Christian teachings, but others from the pragmatic demands of an incipient-phase commercialized/consumer society that emerged during the second half of what we define as the Middle Ages. This was an occupationally diversified society that opened up to men new avenues for advancement, but some of these were fraught with moral perils that would have alarmed any churchman concerned about the welfare of souls; of the two original authors whose writings are presented above, one is certainly concerned, if not indignant, while the other is more nonchalant and inclined to shrug his shoulders at most human foibles. Yet these two works, along with some of the others Caxton chose to print, were more than just reflections of social changes; they were a contribution to the process of change, by depicting a world in which the merchants, craftspeople, professionals, and administrators who made up the core of urban society could understand themselves as not only participants in that world but empowered to be shapers of it.



"triacle box"
A "triaclier" (as in the French text) was a container for a medicament known as theriac, which was something of a generic name for a pharmaceutical antidote to poisons or panacea for digestive upsets; it might be used as a salve or in a potion. The term survives today in 'treacle', which originated as a kind of pick-me-up.

"taken there"
That is, the customer supplies the thread to the weaver for making the cloth.

Fulling was the initial stage of the finishing process (i.e. post-weaving) for woollen cloth, and involved soaking a piece of cloth in a solution combining fuller's earth and urine, and trampling on it over the course of several days (until water-powered mills – more common in England than in Flanders – mechanized the process). Fulling cleaned grease and dirt off the cloth, made the woollen fibres mat together (felting) for greater cohesion, shrank it into a denser material, and bleached it. The cloth was then dried and stretched on a frame known as a tenter; any defects were removed. Raising and cropping the fabric's nap and, then hot-pressing the cloth, would be the final steps to preparing a product for saleability.

"very dangerous"
It is unclear how such a phrase (which is absent from Michelant) might be useful to someone doing business with the fuller. Perhaps an editorial comment on the proclivity of Flemish textile-workers to be politically activist to the point of rebellion.

One equipped with the skill and right equipment (such as large shears and rubbing tools) to cut and shave cloth, though he did not then (as would a tailor, who was more merchant than craftsman) sell pieces he had cut. Shermen were instead involved in the finishing stage of cloth manufacture, before or after dyeing: trimming loose ends left by brushing with teasles, and straightening out the edges of a cloth, all with the intent of giving a smooth, polished appearance to the product.

A mite was worth half a farthing. I am not aware that any coin of that value existed at this time.

This presumably refers to official sanction of a shermen's gild, which would put it in a position to set prices.

One who combed wool, in preparation for it being spun into thread or yarn; the aim was to remove extraneous material and tangles from the wool, to separate long and short strands of wool and leave the long strands relatively straight parallel. The work called for some skill, as batches of wool were attached to a post or bracket, then dressed with large metal combs, sometimes heated to make the wool more malleable. Note that the female ending "ster" assumes that wool-combers were normally female.

In the English "cnoppes" and in the French "noeuds" (knots). These could result from poor preparation of the wool during carding (whose purposes was to meld together shorter fibres of wool into a tight mass usable by spinners); but such defects could also be introduced by an inexperienced spinner, whose yarn was unevenly spun. Spinning called for consistent body rhythms that had to be learned through practice. Here Cecile is contemptuous of a technological solution to spinning as opposed to acquired manual skills and know-how. Most medieval depictions of spinsters show them working with distaff rather than spinning wheel. This is partly because many are intended to depict Biblical scenes; but at the time the original of the Dialogues was written, spinning wheels were still a relatively new technology in Europe, having been introduced (from the Islamic world) probably in the thirteenth century and taking centuries to entirely displace the more affordable spindle and distaff.

I do not know what occupation this is, if indeed it is an occupation; possibly an attribute associated with haughty?

In the original "nopster" (again note the female form). Someone who repaired small holes in, and removed burs, tufts, knots, or loose threads from the surface of, cloth as it was drying after being fulled.

Unless there is a double-entendre here, lecherous should be taken not in the sense of sexual desire, but of covetous: an excessive wish for the satiation of appetites in general (see note below on luxury.

Despite the fact that the name derives from Latin/French term for a (leather) strap for harness or bridle, the lorimer was primarily a metal-worker specializing in pieces for horse tack. However, he also worked with leather and even cloth.

This craftsman cleaned and polished metal objects in order to restore them to a presentable or serviceable condition.

Plate armour for protecting the throat, often a simple collar-ring, but sometimes made of articulating parts. Not popular until the fifteenth century, when an alternative to the aventail, a chain-mail neck covering attached to a bascinet.

Today upholstery is restricted to work on the covering components of furniture, but in the Middle Ages covered the repair, renovation, or rehabilitation of fabric-based objects. For that reason the medieval upholsterer was often associated with the sale of old clothes.

This would seem here to mean dyer. Dyers were sometimes differentiated based on the type of dye in which they specialized.

A red dye, sourced from what was known as brasilwood.

Oak bark was one native source of dye.

In French, Etienne.

A glass flask in which a urine sample was taken for visual examination by a physician. This was a standard diagnostic procedure of medieval medicine.

"for God's sake"
That is, for charitable purposes. The actions Francis is described as taking represent some of the Corporal Acts of Mercy.

Freshly pressed grape juice to be used in wine-making; just possibly, however, it may be an abbreviation for muscadel wine, which is mentioned in a list of drinks elsewhere in the Dialogues.

"wine crier"
A street-seller of small quantities of wine.

"dear market"
I take this passage to mean (giving consideration to both the French and English versions) that Fierin makes his grain purchases promptly when the market opens, rather than delaying and possibly having to buy from regrators, at the later hour when they were allowed to begin business, at higher cost.

The name derives from a Gaulish boot. In the Middle Ages they were essentially wooden soles with a leather upper into which one could slip a foot already wearing a shoe.

Maker of legwear that extended from the waist down to, and often over, the feet. Also known at an earlier time as chaucer, or caligator, this craftsman was originally a leather-worker, but woollen leggings gradually superseded leather ones, with shoes or boots were worn atop(although leather soles may have continued to be used in some products). This transition made the trade vulnerable to usurpation by tailors, although there survived a small market for leather hose.

"Philpot the scabby"
Philpot was a diminutive version of Philip or, here, Philippa; "the scallyd" refers to a skin disease known as scall because the skin appeared scaly.

A kind of wooden storage chest, produced in various sizes (most quite portable), sometimes reinforced with iron for security, or made more presentable by painting or covering with leather. It was a sufficiently common type that in 1406 the London forcer-makers were organized into a gild and subjected to regulation and supervision by the civic authorities; this was prompted by public complaints that some of the craftsmen were using poor quality wood, then lining the interior with linen to disguise the fact.

According to Bradley, these were borders of gold lace.

"honour their commitments"
The original's "kepe his trowthe" is presumably a reference to the terms of agreement made when Philippa took service with her master, which likely included an assurance on her part not to steal from him; such contracts were, in essence, a form of fealty.

The silkwomen of London were an exceptional case of an occupation in which women were not relegated to subordinate positions, but could become masters of the craft, could and did undertake business contracts in their own right (femme sole), and might have apprentices and/or employees, enabling them to increase productivity. Those who married often took mercers for husbands, since it was a complementary trade, but others pursued the trade as single women or widows. A few became independently wealthy through it, for silk was a luxury textile and the royal household was one of the customers for it, along with the sizable elite of the city. In France gilds of silkwomen are known. There does not seem to have been one in London, but the silkwomen formed a fairly close-knit community and were capable of collective action, such as in 1368, when they complained to both the mayor and the king that a particular Lombard merchant, by forestalling raw silk and silk thread imported by foreign merchants, had virtually monopolized the market and had pushed prices up, cutting into the profits that silkwomen could make; the mayor had the merchant imprisoned and the king imposed a hefty fine. London's silkwomen seem even more firmly established by the latter half of the fifteenth century, but in the next they were supplanted in the industry by men.

Another type of purselike bag. Silkwomen made a variety of other goods, such as ribbons, girdles, laces, book covers.

Caxton, or his source, has omitted mention of the quarrels and crossbows (found in Michelant) which was actually the crossbowman's weapon.

"a little"
Taking a small fixed amount from every sack of grain was the usual way a miller was paid for his services. Doubtless some of his clients resented it, or suspected he was taking more than to what he was entitled.

Possibly cotton – a connection to towel?

"the woof, the warp"
He may mean that he lacks the weaving equipment, but more probably that he lacks the thread, there being a distinction between weft yarn and warp yarn, which had different characteristics for their different uses in the weaving process.

Winnowing fans, a kind of basket that, when shaken, separates chaff from grain.

Presumably some kind of basket.

"pots and pans"
In the original "baterye" (i.e.beaten-ware).

"another of the chapters"
In the section describing the necessary features and furnishings of a house: "Pots of copper, cauldrons, kettles, pans, basins, lavers" [p.7].

"stolen, borrowed"
The French is rendered as "embles ou enprintees" which Caxton translates as "stolen or enprinted", I do not know how he arrives at "stolen" but am prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt; the latter word is doubtless "empruntée" and it might have been Caxton's own bias that led him to read it to mean printed books.

Copies of the Doctrinale Puerorum, a text-book on Latin grammar produced in the early thirteenth century by a French monk.

"catons, Cato"
Catons would seem to be works attributed to Cato, despite being a little out of place in this list. The Roman statesman Cato the Elder was also an historian, although his manual on farming is his only work to come down to us in its entirety, and his history of Italian towns is known only through quotations given in later authors. Collections of proverbs known as Monosticha Catonis were incorrectly attributed to Cato, being written much later, and may be the source to which Cessole refers.

Books of Hours, one of the most common kinds of Christian devotional book (in illuminated manuscript form) in the Middle Ages, a collection of Biblical readings, prayers, psalms etc. Hours of Our Lady was a liturgical devotion performed in honour of the Virgin Mary.

Probably copies of the Ars Grammatica by the fourth-century teacher Donatus. However, so popular was this as a schoolbook in the Middle Ages that 'donet' became a generic term for treatises in general.

"parts, accidences"
Copies of text-books teaching Latin accidence, parts of speech, and syntax.

Collections of psalms, often with additional liturgical material.

That is, the science of medicine, which is concerned with physical health.

"seven psalms"
Probably the Seven Penitential Psalms.

That is, of the liturgical year.

Books containing liturgical rites of the Church, although the term came to be applied to brief treatments of any subject (which may be why Caxton chose a translation suggesting portability of these books).

This could refer to quicklime or to whitewash.

Alternatively, the French "ne valent riens" may mean cost next to nothing. Laths came in different qualities.

The fine, soft under-fur from beaver skins, shaved off the pelt and separated from coarse hairs, could be turned, through an involved process, into a firm felt pliable enough to work into different shapes. Felt-makers also used wool to produce hats of lesser quality.

"purses, pouches"
Purses and pouches worn at the waist had been used since Anglo-Saxon times to carry around valuables such as jewellery or coins, by those who possessed such items. The fashion spread gradually downwards in society and by Chaucer's time was not uncommon with townsmen who were prosperous and inclined to display the fact. Initially, simple cloth bags with drawstrings, they became more fashionable (luxury textiles) or durable (leather), and purses in the fifteenth century were being built around metal frames, might include more than one compartment, and even have metal loops installed to frustrate cutpurses.

More correctly, the French has spicer. Michelant's version has apothecary and a descriptive text a little more in line with that occupation.

Probably meaning sauces for meat. Elsewhere in the book is given a short list spices that might be used in medicines, confectionery, or powders for making sauces; these were ginger, galangal, cubeb, saffron, pepper, cumin, sugar, cinnamon, anise, and grains of paradise (a medieval marketing label for something that could be used instead of black pepper).

According to Bradley these were abscesses; however, based on modern usage, it might refer to removal of endoparasites such as tape-worms or, more likely, ectoparasites on the surface of the skin (e.g. ticks or lice).

Kidney stones.

An unnatural swelling of some part of the body; the term is now archaic and oedema is the modern usage.

"bloody flux"

Bradley identifies this as phthisis, which is itself now an archaic term for a wasting disease, such as tuberculosis, more commonly known in the past as consumption.

Could be applied to a bad sore, a gangrene, or a visible cancer.

"Quartan and tertian fever"
Fevers lasting 72 and 48 hours respectively; these were fevers of the malaria type.

A dressmaker, an occupation sometimes confused with seamstress (the two are related but not synonymous and seamster is found for the latter) Also found as shappester, indicating the etymology as one who cuts out the shapes of the components of garments, which the seamstress then sews into a finished product.

Caxton has "huue or calle", which Bradley identifies as caps and headdresses; the French has "huuetier" as occupational title. A Chaucer Glossary, ed. Norman Davis et al. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979), defines "calle" as a hairnet and "howve" as a hood, and it appears the two could be worn together. Calour has been identified as deriving from a maker of caps or coifs [Richard McKinley, Norfolk and Suffolk Surnames in the Middle Ages, London: Phillimore, 1975, p.44]

Made from unripe (green) grapes or other sour fruit, sometimes with the addition of other ingredients, to use in sauces or as an acidic condiment

A sauce made from the powdered root of galangal, a kind of ginger, sometimes mixed with cinnamon and pepper, and used to flavour dishes of fish, eel, goose, or venison.

A sauce based on garlic.

Ostensibly a bath-house, where a good fire and large tubs of water helped create a sauna-like atmosphere (there is an indirect etymological connection with "stove", which originally meant a heated room and only later a room heater). But more commonly understood as brothels (the bathing facilities perhaps being no more than a front), where prostitutes did business, renting space from the brothel-keeper, but not normally living. Roman bath-houses had also been notorious for doubling as places where sex could be obtained, but it has been posited that the hammams experienced by Crusaders in the Holy Land reignited Western interest; Southwark bath-house/brothels seem to have been in existence shortly after the First Crusade. In 1161 royal regulation of the stews required stew-holders (who seem to have all been men) to be married, prohibited wives of stew-holders from being prostitutes themselves, forbade the sale of food or drink in the stews (suggesting some bordellos developed out of taverns or inns), and provided various protections for the prostitutes. The Dialogues text suggests that the brothel-keeper's wife might be the one who operated the business.

"White Friars"
The Dialogues do not, of course, refer to the Southwark stews, which were located on property owned by the Bishop of Winchester on the southern bank of the Thames; the London Carmelite friary was located in Fleet Street.

Brokers form a distinctive occupational group, with some individuals specializing in that role; but local merchants or innkeepers (or employees of such) who acted as hosts of foreigners might also function as brokers. Brokers do not appear to have specialized in types of merchandize.

"God's penny"
Earnest money, a down-payment to close a deal to which God was invoked as witness. It was not restricted to commercial transactions, but the use of this convention by merchants came to give it the force of a legal contract, which Edward I confirmed in his Carta Mercatoria. According to Pollock and Maitland, it was not so much that the penny symbolized intent to pay the full amount at a later time, but more that it committed the seller so that he could not subsequently try to negotiate a better deal for the same goods with some other buyer. If the buyer backed out on the deal, he forfeited the earnest. If the seller did so, proof of payment of earnest was sufficient evidence in court to convict him, so that he would be subject to a fine: in Bracton, double the amount of earnest, although Fleta says that under merchant law it was much higher: a pound for a penny.

From Poitou in west-central France.

It should be remembered that at the time the Dialogues were written, the kingdom of France was smaller than today, not yet having consolidated its territorial ambitions

Of Brabant, a duchy of the Holy Roman Empire, in the area now the Netherlands.

Of Hainaut, a duchy of the Holy Roman Empire, in the area now Belgium.

Strictly speaking, Hollanders (as distinct from Zeelanders).

"men of Friesland"
Frisians, who lived in an area of what is now the Netherlands. \

Flemish municipal officials involved in the judiciary.

In England officers known as scabins were mainly associated with financial administration of a gild, as assistants to gild alderman. In Flanders, however, these échevins were more widely found in roles similar to aldermen or consuls, having joint-executive, judicial, or conciliar responsibilities in feudal and civic administration.

"pain of being hanged"
Should they return.

In the fourteenth century one of the largest cities in France (although subject to the King of Aragon) and a major commercial centre.

Here intending the executive officer of the craft gild. This was not a title used in England for gild officials, but it was in Bruges.

Mixed grains, particularly wheat with rye).

An ill-tempered and badly-behaved scold.

A groat was a coin worth fourpence.

One of various names used for officials responsible for financial administration.

"good merchandize"
I suspect a little sarcasm here.

Hecklers sold flax and hemp, but were not merely hucksters, for they dressed the raw material using a comb called a heckle, or hackle. It is unclear whether they grew the raw material themselves.

That is, manual labourer.

That is, a promotion from his role as sexton, or sacristan – caretaker of a church, who might be involved in ringing the bell and digging graves – by being appointed by the Pope (there being one at Avignon during time of schism) to a living with better income. There was no papal seat at Avignon by Caxton's time – an indication he made little attempt to update his source text.

"stationed himself in the exchange"
Money-changers tended not to operate from shops, which would rely on customers going in search for them, but daily established themselves in a fixed and visible location, in or close to some area of high traffic or commercial activity, with a bench or stool to sit on and perhaps a chest containing coin.

Bradley suggests the omission of traders whose names begin with S or T (which are found in Michelant, and include Silvester the swineherd, Simon the huntsman, Theobald the pastry-baker, Tybert the town clerk, Thierry the minstrel, and Tideman the cutler) may have been due to a missing leaf in Caxton's copy of the work. Alternatively, if less likely, Caxton may not have felt them germane to his intended audience, and this could also explain the absence of some other of the occupations found in Michelant, such as the clog-maker.

The French has tanner, but the distinction between tanners and tawyers was not so much in what they did as how they did it, and what they did it to: for tanners handled mainly cattle hides, while tawyers worked with skins of deer, sheep and other animals that yielded a finer leather. The general treatment process [as described by Claire Burns, "The Tanning Industry of Medieval Britain", Collegiate Journal of Anthropology, vol.1 (2012),] was to first remove flesh, fat and hair (initially by dousing in a corrosive solution, using lime or urine, and later by scraping); then to clean and soften the hide using further unpleasant solutions (that might incorporate dung, bad beer, or more urine); once clean the hides underwent the actual tanning, in a solution of crushed oak bark and water, over an extended period, followed by a final cleaning, smoothing, and gradual drying. Michelant's version has a William the tanner, who sells his tanned hides to curriers or foreign merchants.

After the tawyer or tanner had completed his involved work, hides were passed along to the currier to stretch, make supple (through the application of grease), and trim, before it was ready to be sold to craftsmen.

A kind of furrier specializing in grey-work, referring to furs of lesser quality; the French uses "vair" which were furs that were mottled, dappled, or of various colours (such as ermine and some squirrels), giving an overall grey appearance, whereas "gris" referred to furs of a purer grey colour. These furs were sourced from colder climes of northern Europe, particularly Scandinavia and Russia.

A fur-lined coat or cloak.

A skinner, but in the sense of one who works with skins of fur-bearing animals, and thus more akin to a modern furrier.

A scrinium, a secret compartment within a chest where precious objects (such as important documents, or relics) might be kept.

The juxtaposition of the chandler and kettle-maker can only be understood by looking at their French titles: chandelliere and chauderlier respectively.

The abbreviated form of procurator, it was a generic title for Church officials serving various purposes but acting as a representative of a higher authority. In ecclesiastical courts proctors acted in the role of attorney or solicitor, but in the present context of serving summonses he performs a task more commonly assigned to the apparitor.

Remaining names in the list must have begun, in the original manuscript, with the letter yogh.

"parchment maker"
Parchment, made mostly from sheep or calf skins, was the normal recipient of writing in the Middle Ages, until the production of paper became cheaper – and even afterwards for important documents, as paper was not so durable. The leather membranes were not produced by tanners or tawyers, since a different process was needed to create fine, supple pieces of parchment with a smooth, whitish surface. The skin was cleaned and dehaired using a caustic solution which included lime, then soaked in water and attached to a frame on which it was progressively stretched while drying. During the stretching both sides were shaved with a knife to remove any remaining extraneous material, reduce it to the desired thickness, and keep it supple; in addition the flesh side was pumiced to smooth it, help it stretch, and create a surface which ink could penetrate, and various compounds were used to remove grease (whose presence would cause ink to run). Chalk or other substances were rubbed into the skin to whiten it.

The actual word in the English is "flued", which Bradley says means causing the ink to run.

A type of parchment; it must have been a heavy kind, if to be used as the cover for a collection of parchments. Possibly sourced from a particular animal, just as vellum (or vellin in French)was originally a distinct type of parchment produced from the skin of a calf (vitellus). Or possibly it was allowed to harden like a board during the drying process.

Volcanic ejecta, a very light, rough kind of stone that was used for scouring and smoothing the surface of parchment (similar to the use, in modern times, of a rubber to remove ink or pencil marks from paper). A small knife might also be used to scrape the parchment surface to erase small areas of ink (e.g. to make corrections).

Caxton took this term, meaning pedestrians, from his French source.

Also known today as the castle. For the purpose of this social theory, the rook represented officials of the king, particularly those acting to govern the parts of a large realm (which was why there needed to be one rook on each side of the board). This figure was described as on horseback (to convey a status comparable to a knight), but wearing, instead of armour, a furred and hooded gown, and holding a staff (of office) in his hand.

"crooked hatchet"
This is interpreted in the woodcut as a chopping knife with a curved point, probably intended to represent a sickle.

"dîmes and tithes"
Tithes were a tax of 10% of the annual produce of an individual's labour (whether agricultural, industrial, or commercial), payable to the Church, formally instituted in the eighth century, confirmed by the king to English churches in 855 and reinforced by the Statute of Westminster (1285). The dîme was the French equivalent, though a voluntary contribution based on land value.

"Valerius, Valerian"
Valerius Maximus, a first century Roman author of a collection of historical anecdotes intended to illustrate issues of ethics and morals; it was used in teaching down into the Middle Ages – that a large number of medieval manuscripts have survived indicates its popularity.

Claudius Claudianus, a fourth century poet of the Western Roman Empire.

"Vitas Patrum"
Gregory of Tours' Lives of the Fathers, a hagiography of selected exemplary figures of the early Church, including those who opted for a life of solitude as hermits in the desert.

"live well"
That is, virtuously, rather than in a material sense.

The Book of Psalms; the quotation is from Psalm 128.

The historian Titus Flavius Josephus, a Romano-Jewish writer of the first century, was an adviser to the emperor Titus, and part of his entourage, though there is no evidence he was a physician, as Cessole suggests. Josephus speaks of Noah's discovery of wine in his Antiquities of the Jews Bk.1, Ch.6, but does not give the interpretation of the blood, and is not known to have written any work on natural history.

During the Middle Ages he was one of the most popular of the Ancient Roman poets, whose Metamorphoses provided many non-Biblical examples of moral issues for medieval writers to cite, while his love poetry was admired and imitated in the Middle Ages. The latter included the poem cited by Sessole, known today by the title Remedia Amoris

Farriers, or blacksmiths.

"martel, dolaber"
Once more, by the inclusion of the French terms for hammer and broad-axe, Caxton betrays the source of his text. We also see here a change between editions, for the original English edition reflected its sources in arming this pawn with hammer and broad-axe (for hewing wood), but for the second edition both woodcut and text have substituted a carpenter's square for the axe, although the text lets the original French term slip in.

The maronerz of the original perhaps here conflates sailors and shipbuilders, two occupations that often went hand-in-hand.

The Decretals of Gratian, whose opening section (divided up into 'distinctions') addressed the general principles underlying canon law.

"I myself"
This might be the French translator or Flemish editor speaking. However, according to Jenny Adams [ed. William Caxton, The Game and Playe of the Chesse, Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 2009,] this passage about communal living is not in any of the surviving French versions, and may have been added by Caxton.

Alternatively, meurli might be translated as well-mannered, good-natured, or even morally.

"we read"
Ostensibly in Plato, who gives his account of the Syracusan tyrant Dionysius mainly in the Seventh Letter, generally believed to be an authentic writing of Plato. However, Cessole may have had a version of events from Plutarch or some other secondary source. The anecdote about Dionysius here conflates elements of the stories of the father and the son.

This piece was called the elephant, but considered for purposes of this social theory to represent "judges sitting in a chair with a book open before their eyes" [Bk.2, ch.3], there being a pair in the game because one presided over civil cases and one over criminal cases; their role was to advise the king and to formulate the sound laws that he desired, as well as to teach the king's subjects virtuous behaviour and pass sentence on those who behaved immorally. In modern chess this piece is called the bishop, though the woodcut in Caxton's edition shows a game piece resembling rather the present-day queen.

In the Middle Ages these were not medical tongs, but scissors.

That is, an account of the accusations made; the term in the original being libelz, which could also refer to charters, deeds, or short books.

It seems that the author envisaged this pawn as having a document before him, or being seated at a writing-desk (scriptoire), or in a scriptorium (writing-office). If so, illustrators of various editions and translations did not really pick up on the idea.

"shaving beards and combing hair"
Either author or translator appears to be becoming mixed up here. The allusion is doubtless to the knife in left hand of this pawn, which is perfectly compatible with tasks performed by cloth-workers such as shermen, burlers, fullers, and drapers. However, the intent here seems to be to group occupations reliant on skill with sharp-bladed tools, and hence the knife can symbolize the work of barbers; "combing" may be interpolative. The association between these kinds of craftsmen and the alphin is a little tenuous, but apparently based on the notion that they furnish alphins, and others of comparable social status, with the fine apparel they wear (whereas the labourer must make do mostly with home-made clothing).

To the modern mind notaries are the odd man out in this grouping, for the others are occupations that manufacture items from leather, whereas the notary is only the user of a leather product (parchment); although it could be argued the notary converts blank parchment into the finished product of a written record.

In the original duly ordeyned, meaning that they have received training and been admitted to the gild representing the craft.

"content of the sentence"
It is not clear here whether 'sentence' refers to texts in general that the notary drafts, or to sentences passed by judges, or possibly to laws.

"in this way"
That is, in situations of unwarranted conflict.

"I imagine"
This appears to be Caxton speaking.

It is not clear whether this seeming nickname applies to an actual royal court (perhaps the courts of Justices Itinerant?), or whether it is perhaps a little joke at the expense of lawyers, stemming from the list of courts proceeding from the Upper Exchequer (Exchequer of Pleas) to the Lower Exchequer (Exchequer of Receipt, or Account), leaving only hell below.

"each city"
We should keep in mind that Cessole is writing in a culture where multiple city-states have, for a century or more, been warring with each other for territory and commercial dominance.

The source here is probably Seneca the Younger's Epistulae morales ad Lucilium, a collection of letters addressing moral issues; I have not located the precise passage to which Cessole refers, but other information in this discussion of friendship indicates he was familiar with the Epistles, which would have been a very useful source for his purposes, and indeed he refers to Seneca a number of times in his work. The reference in chapter four to a book about the cries of women perhaps means one of Seneca's Consolations, but I cannot say what might be the Auctoritas referred to in the same chapter's discussion of usury, unless perhaps a generic reference to Seneca's letters.

This is probably Marcus Terentius Varro, a first century B.C. Roman scholar who wrote a vast number of works, although almost none have survived to us intact.

"the poet"
The couplet is extracted from Ovid's Tristia (Book I, 9, 5-6), written as a lament about his exile imposed by the emperor.

"Piers Alfonse"
A Jew born and raised in Islamic Spain in mid-eleventh century, he later served as physician first to Henry I of England and then to Alfonso I of Aragon, who sponsored his conversion to Christianity (1106), at which time he adopted the name Petrus Alphonsus. He assimilated ideas from Islam, Judaism and Christianity into his writings, which included an anti-Judaist polemic and works on astronomy, and were well received by Christian writers, who often cited him. His most influential work, which is what Cessole refers to, was the Disciplina Clericalis, a collection of moralizing stories drawn from Arabic, Persian, and Sanskrit sources. It was translated into several languages and survives in numerous manuscripts. Caxton appended some of the tales to the end of his translation of Aesop's fables.

"Titus Livius"
The Roman historian Livy, not widely read in the Middle Ages because of the great length of his history, although summaries were available.

"residence in Achadomye"
A reference to Plato having set up a school at the Grove of Academus, where Aristotle was among the students; this name being the derivation of the modern term 'academy'. Sulla destroyed it in 84 B.C. and a much later revival by Neoplatonists was closed down by the Byzantine emperor, as a threat to Christianity (this pre-Christian philosophy, or rather its endorsement of homosexuality, perhaps being the 'disease' mentioned by Cessole).

This is probably Helinand de Froidmont, a minstrel born (ca.1150) of Flemish parents in France, who turned monk, preacher, sermon-writer, and chronicler. His chronicle of the world, of which only parts survive) is his best-known work and likely that referred to by Cessole.

That is, money-changers, so-called because they provided foreign currency exchanges to visiting merchants, but they also provided loans and safekeeping for amounts of cash. Thus they were in essence bankers (a term derived from the benches from which they transacted business). Jews initially served this role in society, for the reasons that it was one of the few occupations not prohibited to them, they were very security-conscious, and in England, as chattels of the king, they could call on royal authority to enforce repayment of loans. By Cessole's time, however, leading families in Italian cities were involved in the banking business.

The term tended to be used in a derogatory sense in the Middle Ages, meaning excessive indulgence of the sensory pleasures, desires, or appetites. There are etymological connections between the terms luxury, lust, and lechery.

The term may have here the connotation of concubine.

The reference is to the first century B.C. historian, (rather than the fourth-century philosopher), and specifically to a passage in his The War with Catiline.

"Saint Ambrose"
Aurelius Ambrosius was one of the influential 'doctors' of law of the Church in the fourth century, serving as Bishop of Milan. He wrote many works on ethics and other subjects; his commentaries on the Old Testament included De Tobia (often referred to as Tobit): sermons extracting illustrative material from the Book of Tobias in order to condemn usury.

The one-time English coin of this name (worth two shillings) had its origins in the coinage of Florence, Italy.

"procurer and attorney"
That is, he had acted as an intermediary in merchandizing with Albert's money – viewed as an investment – for gain. This was a commercial principle well established in Cessole's Italy (through business devices such as the commenda), but only just becoming so in Caxton's England.

A container shaped like a bottle or flask, used by apothecaries to hold their medicinal concoctions (although better-known today in the form of tourist souvenirs acquired by pilgrims at shrines they visited and used to hold small quantities of dust, holy water, or oil taken from the vicinity of those shrines – a kind of poor man's reliquary).

"ought to know"
That is, before proceeding on to the study of advanced subjects such as medicine (or law or theology), university students were expected first to have obtained a Master of Arts degree, which entailed initially the study of the trivium – grammar, logic, and rhetoric – and then the quadrivium of arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music (theory).

In the sense of the basic techniques, or building-blocks, of rhetorical debating; the original is monemenz, which could derive from either of the Latin terms monimen or munimen.

The Latinized name of a Persian scholar who wrote vast numbers of studies of a wide range of subjects, many of them on medicine, such as The Book of Healing and The Canon of Medicine, a standard text for medieval university students taking the subject. It is likely the latter, encyclopedic work from which Cessole cites the aphorism, or proverb.

The so-called 'father of medicine' (at least as far as the western world is concerned) is not known conclusively to have authored any works, but if not, his Greek students and followers produced a large number of works, which were subsequently attributed to Hippocrates himself, and are almost certainly founded on his teachings and ideas.

Of Greek background, Claudius Galenus, physician, surgeon, and philosopher, was one of the most capable medical researchers of the Roman Empire, influenced by the findings of Hippocrates, but going well beyond them. He was prolific in his writings; his staff of scribes wrote out several hundred treatises which he dictated, but this was in Greek. Consequently, although his writings remained available in the Byzantine Empire, and later infiltrated the Islamic world, they were inaccessible to most scholars of the medieval Christian West. Only subsequent to the First Crusade did the knowledge of Galen start to be rediscovered by the West, mainly through Arabic translations, and to a lesser extent the original Greek. Avicenna's Canon was partly an elaboration of Galenic thought. The discoveries and theories of Hippocrates, Galen, and Avicenna were the foundation-stones of late medieval medical science.

In the Middle Ages, the legendary Sirens of the classical world were commonly used to symbolize feminine temptation.

A first-century poet from a Spanish province of the Roman Empire, best-known for his Epigrams.

Not quite in the modern sense. The fundamental principle of the medieval science of physiological health was the theory that the proportions in which the 'four humours' – cold, heat, dryness, and moisture – combined in a living thing defined its nature, helped physicians to diagnose illnesses, and pointed the way to the appropriate cure (which aimed at restoring the proper balance of humours).

A generic term applied to women (though usually not to high-born ladies), and giving rise to an adjectival form meaning feminine. It is here supposed to derive from the Latin term meaning soft.

This would be the modern equivalent of the use here of bills, a general term referring to documents that contained a detailed description or account of something, such as in the case of petitions submitted to authorities.

"in place of another"
Alternatively, the phrase in the original may mean giving one person's medicine to a different person.

"harm themselves or cause damage"
Possibly the implication here is of the concoction of psychotropic drugs.

"opening heads"
This probably refers not simply to cranial incisions, but to the practice of trepanation, a process described by Galen, and evidenced in some medieval skeletal remains.

"apostomes and vices"
In the medieval Christian world-view, physical afflictions (or rather, the imbalance of humours that created them) were often blamed on some underlying moral offence or deficiency. Thus an apostome, for example, might be divine punishment for some sin. So cures might entail a spiritual component.

The sixth-century philosopher and imperial administrator is most famous for writing, possibly while in prison awaiting execution, the De consolatione philosophiae which, partly because of its moral message and emphasis on Divine Providence, became during the Middle Ages one of the most influential secular works read and copied.

"physical disorder"
The original's "noi de bodi" (annoy the body) may refer simply to nausea, but might also imply worse upsets.

Not necessarily in the modern sense of concerted violent or intimidating acts committed by large groups of participants. In the Late Middle Ages, the judicial concept of riot emerged in regard to unlawful acts, disturbing the peace, by groups that might be large or small, or even by individuals. Through the course of the fifteenth century, riotous acts grew more common, to the point where they were becoming a serious problem for law enforcement.

Probably meant in the medieval sense of trespasses.

In the Middle Ages the term, derived from the conjunction of 'god' and 'sibb', referred to the godparents of one's own child, or parent's of one's godchild, and perhaps by extension to a group of persons linked by some birth; in either case it connotes close friends. The term seems to have acquired the derogatory sense, of a tittle-tattler who spreads news or rumours, only in the post-medieval period. Although both senses perhaps imply the sharing of news during a social encounter.

A first-century rhetorician from a Roman province of Spain, whose only surviving work is the Institutio Oratoria. There was a revival of interest in him in the Late Middle Ages, after Petrarch drew attention to his humanistic philosophy.

A first-century poet from one of the Spanish provinces of the empire, who had studied rhetoric in Athens and probably philosophy under his uncle, Seneca the Younger. Most of his works are now lost.

"Vasilly le Graunt"
Saint Basil.of Caesarea (called the Great), a fourth-century Greek bishop and influential theologian and preacher, among whose surviving works are manuals of ethics and moral sermons.

I take this to be the meaning of "belucs of de si".

"Another case"
Cessole's disinclination to credit the sources of these tales may be because they were drawn from the Romance literature popular in the day, such as the Romance of Alexander.

"Saint James in Galicia"
Santiago de Compostela.

Meaning one who draws the wine from the cask, it might be considered the medieval equivalent of today's barmaid, although could also refer to ale-wives or others who retailed ale, whether brewed by themselves or third parties. Note the feminine form of the word, although in illustrations, it is men who are shown drawing wine.

"Santa Donna"
There are several shrines to the Virgin Mary in Spain that are pilgrimage destinations.

"left hand"
This second edition reversed the contents of the hands from the original edition, for no apparent reason. Possibly the woodcut produced in advance for this figure had accidentally made the change and Caxton felt the easiest thing to do was alter the text to correspond. The woodcut omits the pot.

This is not a spelling variant of the toll known as pesage, or that of pavage; it is rather a toll of which I have encountered no occurrence in England under that name, but in France was a toll imposed on merchandize being taken by road, water, or across bridges; it seems the equivalent of the English toll known as passage. It is today simply the generic French term for 'toll'.

"marble gate"
As an expression of his aspirations to emulate the emperors of Ancient Rome, and particularly to assert a superior authority to that of the pope, Frederick II built (1234-39) at Capua, spanning the Volturno River (the border between his territory and that controlled by the papacy), a great triumphal arch in classical Roman style. It incorporated an existing, twin-towered city gate, so that all entering the city, through what later became known as the Capuan Gate, could witness Frederick's power and cultured taste. The decorative elements (some of which survive, though the gateway itself does not) included an enthroned statue of himself.

The record of the original Latin inscriptions indicates that they too were rhymes.

"King Dionysius had a brother"
The tale that follows has come down to us as the legend of the Sword of Damocles (communicated to medieval writers mainly via Cicero) expressing the precarious situation of those in positions of power.

"The officers of the community"
This section has been edited down slightly in the second edition, with some diminution of what I take to be the intended sense; so I have restored missing elements from the original edition.

Saint Prosper of Aquitaine, a fifth century author, wrote several works; most supported or defended Augustinian teachings, but he also produced a chronicle and a book of maxims providing moral lessons, the latter being the likely source of Cessole's citation.

Persons characterized by licentious, lascivious, or lewd behaviour (by the standards of medieval upper classes) and by irreverent, vulgar or foul-mouthed language. Today we do not seem to have a noun form that categorizes such persons (unless it be the slang low-life), although their words or actions would be covered by our legal concept of indecent behaviour.

I am hypothesizing that the original's "buters" ("butters" in the first edition) may be associated with butts of ale or wine and that the word was a medieval slang equivalent to the more current (though now also a little antiquated) derogatory terms of boozer or tippler, meaning someone who drinks alcohol regularly or to excess. William Axon (editor of the 1883 edition of Caxton's original edition) thought "butters" meant freebooters, probably – though he gives no reasons – on the grounds that bute is an old Germanic term for booty, and the derivation of freebooter; however, that interpretation does not seem to me quite so apropos in the context.

Not only in the sense of their inheritance, but also what they have a moral obligation to pass on to their own heirs.

That is, the custom of inheritance; as opposed to money acquired through one's own labour.

A sixth-century statesman serving the Ostrogothic regime of the Empire (replacing the disgraced Boethius), his writings included histories, speeches, and treatises on philosophical themes. He did much to foster the semi-professional reproduction of texts for educational purposes, and so might be thought of as a predecessor to Caxton.

"a six"
Caxton's first edition has the dices coming up fives, but still with a total of eighteen. It seems Cessole or his French translator was no more adept at arithmetic than the original author of the Dialogues! One wonders if it was Caxton who caught the error, or one of the readers of his first edition.

The original's term "jonglers" could be used for various performers, such as itinerant minstrels, conjurers, acrobats, or jugglers.

Michelant's arguments for a date of ca.1340 were widely accepted. Using numismatic evidence, Philip Grierson ["The Dates of the 'Livre des mestiers' and its Derivatives," Revue belge de philologie et d'histoire, vol.35 (1957), pp.778-783.] has argued that a date of ca.1370 is more likely. However, the possible updating of some of the information in the text – as adaptations were made in different editions (Michelant's source having many differences from that of Caxton's) – makes it difficult be certain when the very first version was produced, and even Grierson acknowledges that this might be as far back as the early fourteenth century. He also argues that the version later printed by Caxton dates to1465 or '66, which is consistent with the period Caxton was in Bruges.

"respects market regulations"
On the other hand, James Davis [Medieval Market Morality, Cambridge: University Press, 2012, p.117] points out that we could read into the description of the baker an allusion to hoarding of grain and the purchase of large amounts of grain during the hours when householders were trying to obtain domestic supplies. Whether the author was conscious of, or interested in, these issues remains indeterminate, but there often seems to be a vague ambiguity in the thrust of some of the descriptions.

"escape any moralizing"
Yet there is a curious difference between Michelant's account of the stews and Caxton's; the former has the wealthiest townsmen using its services, whereas Caxton (more diplomatically?) points the finger at outsiders.

"particular persons"
Indeed, some of the otherwise inexplicable digressions or off-topic insertions within the catalogue of occupations – comments about Clemence, Philpot, Kylian, Gertrude, Lucy and Pierrette – might be particularly suggestive of real-life examples.

"the notary"
We should keep in mind that in Cessole's homeland of Italy, notaries played a much more important and ubiquitous role than in England, as scribes, solicitors, and administrative officials employed in every branch of civic government. Although notaries existed in late medieval England, they were relatively few in numbers, and being licensed as a notary public was neither required, nor necessarily advantageous, for a man to pursue a career as a clerk, lawyer, or administrator. However, Italian notaries and English town clerks alike probably played an instrumental role in framing local by-laws.

Scholars tend to talk of Caxton as a printer. However, his market awareness, his searching out of books to print and sometimes sponsors to assist with financing, his attention to translating, editing, and sometimes adding illustrations to improve marketability. and his selling of the final products, all seem more akin to a publisher.

"studded, barred"
Medieval girdles and belts, made of fabric, leather, or metal, served the same practical functions of holding up, or on, items of clothing such as the close-fitting undergarment, or kirtle, worn by a woman, or gowns and cloaks worn by men, or of hanging purses, weapons, or other items. Although some girdles were hidden under outer clothing, increasingly they were worn on the outside; adding metal studs to belts or bars to girdles, while perhaps offering some reinforcement, was mainly a form of ornamentation, providing a display of the owner's wealth (particularly in extreme cases where the studs were of jewels or the bars of precious metal).

Padded seats placed behind the main saddle, sometimes with footrest, so that a passenger (usually a woman) could be carried. Not until the later fourteenth century did sidesaddles, intended to accommodate a female rider (more than simply a passenger, yet not in full control of the horse), begin to appear. Illustrations suggest, however, that some women may have ridden astride horses.

Straps placed around the chest of horses, from which bells or other decorations were hung. Later, war-horses were provided with breastplates, which took on the name poitrel (associated with the pectorals).

Narrow girdles threaded through the hem at the top of men's underpants (breeches) or their hose outerwear, and pulled tight to secure them around the waist. They were usually made of cord or twisted fabric.

Carlin suggests these may have been shoehorns or tools for measuring clients' feet.

"pig bristle"
Carlin [p.495 n.] confirmed from a much later description of shoemaking techniques the use of stiff hog-bristle as a material to assist passing thread through holes punched in the leather with the awl.

A pilch was an outer garment made from a wool-pell, with the wool being left on the hide, as a warm lining. It was used as a simple jacket or something in which to clothe infants. Later the term became expanded to warm wrappings made from textiles.

A type of fine woollen cloth that may have obtained its name by originally being a mixture of camel-hair, wool, and silk, although by Garland's time camel-hair was no longer used.

These were light but coarse woollen cloths, cheap and in widespead use (at least outside England). It would be tempting to associate the name with the English town of Stamford, renowned for its cloth as far away as Venice, but there was a smaller place in Flanders, named Stanfort, which most likely gave the name.

"false thumb"
That is, the width of the thumb as a measure of length (an inch).

"rochets, stamins"
According to Carlin, stamins were undergarments of a coarse cloth: linsey-woolsey (woven with linen warp and woollen weft) or worsted. Such cloth was warm and durable, but had little visual appeal. By contrast, rochet was a fine fabric, sometimes mixing in fibres of silk but more usually a fine linen, and gave its name to a robe worn by the clergy.

Garments worn by women, of linen or sometimes silk, folded in such as way as to envelop head, neck, and chin, leaving only the front of the face visible; a more elaborate form of headdress than the kerchief, which mainly covered the hair.

"white clay"
Fuller's earth was a kind of clay useful for cleansing woollen cloth of various impurities, especially grease, and foreign matter; cloth was soaked in an alkaline solution, then agitated in troughs or vats containing a slurry of the clay; subsequent rinsing in warm water removed the clay and the impurities along with it. The clay's properties also made it useful in laundering grease-stained fabrics.

As with the making of cloth, the conversion of animal hides into leather suitable for the manufacture of clothing, dress accessories, harness, liquid containers, and other items was a lengthy, involved, multi-stage process. Tanning the hides preserved them from decomposition and rendered them stable when exposed to future moisture; this was done through the use of tannins, which drew liquids out of the hides. Tannins occur in a wide variety of plant products, though were principally sourced, during the Middle Ages, from the bark of various trees, such as oak, fir, and chestnut. Tanbark solution was made from ground or crushed bark soaked in water for an extended period. Before being tanned, hides had to be de-haired, generally done through mechanical processes and soaking in an alkaline solution (using lime or urine), then cleaned in water (preferably running) and fermenting materials or animal faeces to remove the alkali. The hides were then divided up into component parts, since these would absorb the tanning solution at different rates and so had to be treated separately. Comparable parts were put in a pit and immersed for some days in a weak tanning solution; during this time the solution was periodically agitated and the hides moved around or turned over, to help ensure even absorption. The aim was to give the hides a particular and uniform colour, without blotches. Once this was achieved, the hides were layered in another pit, with powdered tanbark placed between the layers, and again soaked in tanbark solution for a period that varied according to the thickness of the hide, but typically for a year or more. Once tanned, the hides had to be slowly dried, smoothed, and made softer and more supple; this process came to be the domain of a separate artisan known as a currier. It was part of the quality control aspect of leather-making that the raw material should pass through the hands of different artisans: first the butcher (who skinned dead animals), then the tanner, followed by the currier, and finally the shoemaker or other manufacturer of finished products. Tanners mainly worked with heavier hides, such as those of cattle, while lighter hides (e.g. sheep, goat, deer) were processed by tawyers and treated with different materials.

"been argued"
Christine Knowles, "Caxton and His Two French Sources: The Game and Playe of the Chesse and the Composite Manuscripts of the Two French Translations of the Ludus Scaccorum," The Modern Language Review, vol.49 (1954), p.420.

The dedication to Clarence (possibly more an attempt to cultivate a relationship, rather than an indication of one that existed) gone, Caxton wrote a preface, or prologue, for the new edition which declares his reason for reprinting to be that "this book is full of wholesome wisdom necessary for persons of all classes and kinds."

main menu

Created: November 4, 2013. Last update: August 4, 2016 © Stephen Alsford, 2013-2016