The Online 
Medieval and Classical Library

Confessio Amantis
Tales of the Seven Deadly Sins

Incipit Liber Secundus: Part 1

Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #4

Inuidie culpa magis est attrita dolore,
     Nam sua mens nullo tempore leta manet:
Quo gaudent alii, dolet ille, nec vnus amicus
     Est, cui de puro comoda velle facit.
Proximitatis honor sua corda veretur, et omnis
     Est sibi leticia sic aliena dolor.
Hoc etenim vicium quam sepe repugnat amanti,
     Non sibi, set reliquis, dum fauet ipsa Venus.
Est amor ex proprio motu fantasticus, et que
     Gaudia fert alius, credit obesse sibi.

1     Now after Pride the secounde  
2     Ther is, which many a woful stounde 
3     Towardes othre berth aboute
4     Withinne himself and noght withoute;
5     For in his thoght he brenneth evere,
6     Whan that he wot an other levere 
7     Or more vertuous than he,  
8     Which passeth him in his degre;  
9     Therof he takth his maladie:  
10    That vice is cleped hot Envie.
11    Forthi, my Sone, if it be so  
12    Thou art or hast ben on of tho,  
13    As forto speke in loves cas,  
14    If evere yit thin herte was
15    Sek of an other mannes hele?  
16    So god avance my querele,  
17    Mi fader, ye, a thousend sithe:  
18    Whanne I have sen an other blithe
19    Of love, and hadde a goodly chiere,     
20    Ethna, which brenneth yer be yere,  
21    Was thanne noght so hot as I  
22    Of thilke Sor which prively
23    Min hertes thoght withinne brenneth.
24    The Schip which on the wawes renneth,  
25    And is forstormed and forblowe,  
26    Is noght more peined for a throwe
27    Than I am thanne, whanne I se 
28    An other which that passeth me
29    In that fortune of loves yifte.  
30    Bot, fader, this I telle in schrifte,  
31    That is nowher bot in o place;
32    For who that lese or finde grace 
33    In other stede, it mai noght grieve:
34    Bot this ye mai riht wel believe,
35    Toward mi ladi that I serve,  
36    Thogh that I wiste forto sterve, 
37    Min herte is full of such sotie, 
38    That I myself mai noght chastie. 
39    Whan I the Court se of Cupide 
40    Aproche unto my ladi side  
41    Of hem that lusti ben and freisshe,-
42    Thogh it availe hem noght a reisshe,
43    Bot only that thei ben in speche,-  
44    My sorwe is thanne noght to seche:  
45    Bot whan thei rounen in hire Ere,
46    Than groweth al my moste fere,
47    And namly whan thei talen longe; 
48    My sorwes thanne be so stronge
49    Of that I se hem wel at ese,  
50    I can noght telle my desese.  
51    Bot, Sire, as of my ladi selve,  
52    Thogh sche have wowers ten or twelve,  
53    For no mistrust I have of hire
54    Me grieveth noght, for certes, Sire,
55    I trowe, in al this world to seche, 
56    Nis womman that in dede and speche  
57    Woll betre avise hire what sche doth,      
58    Ne betre, forto seie a soth,  
59    Kepe hire honour ate alle tide,  
60    And yit get hire a thank beside. 
61    Bot natheles I am beknowe, 
62    That whanne I se at eny throwe,  
63    Or elles if I mai it hiere,
64    That sche make eny man good chiere, 
65    Thogh I therof have noght to done,  
66    Mi thought wol entermette him sone. 
67    For thogh I be miselve strange,  
68    Envie makth myn herte change, 
69    That I am sorghfully bestad
70    Of that I se an other glad 
71    With hire; bot of other alle, 
72    Of love what so mai befalle,  
73    Or that he faile or that he spede,  
74    Therof take I bot litel heede.
75    Now have I seid, my fader, al 
76    As of this point in special,  
77    Als ferforthli as I have wist.
78    Now axeth further what you list. 
79    Mi Sone, er I axe eny more,
80    I thenke somdiel for thi lore 
81    Telle an ensample of this matiere
82    Touchende Envie, as thou schalt hiere. 
83    Write in Civile this I finde: 
84    Thogh it be noght the houndes kinde 
85    To ete chaf, yit wol he werne 
86    An Oxe which comth to the berne, 
87    Therof to taken eny fode.  
88    And thus, who that it understode,
89    It stant of love in many place:  
90    Who that is out of loves grace
91    And mai himselven noght availe,  
92    He wolde an other scholde faile; 
93    And if he may put eny lette,  
94    He doth al that he mai to lette.     
95    Wherof I finde, as thou schalt wite,
96    To this pourpos a tale write. 
97    Ther ben of suche mo than twelve,
98    That ben noght able as of hemselve  
99    To gete love, and for Envie
100   Upon alle othre thei aspie;
101   And for hem lacketh that thei wolde,
102   Thei kepte that non other scholde
103   Touchende of love his cause spede:  
104   Wherof a gret ensample I rede,
105   Which unto this matiere acordeth,
106   As Ovide in his bok recordeth,
107   How Poliphemus whilom wroghte,
108   Whan that he Galathee besoghte
109   Of love, which he mai noght lacche. 
110   That made him forto waite and wacche
111   Be alle weies how it ferde,
112   Til ate laste he knew and herde  
113   How that an other hadde leve  
114   To love there as he mot leve, 
115   As forto speke of eny sped:
116   So that he knew non other red,
117   Bot forto wayten upon alle,
118   Til he may se the chance falle
119   That he hire love myhte grieve,  
120   Which he himself mai noght achieve. 
121   This Galathee, seith the Poete,  
122   Above alle othre was unmete
123   Of beaute, that men thanne knewe,
124   And hadde a lusti love and trewe,
125   A Bacheler in his degree,  
126   Riht such an other as was sche,  
127   On whom sche hath hire herte set,
128   So that it myhte noght be let 
129   For yifte ne for no beheste,  
130   That sche ne was al at his heste.    
131   This yonge knyht Acis was hote,  
132   Which hire ayeinward als so hote 
133   Al only loveth and nomo.
134   Hierof was Poliphemus wo
135   Thurgh pure Envie, and evere aspide,
136   And waiteth upon every side,  
137   Whan he togedre myhte se
138   This yonge Acis with Galathe. 
139   So longe he waiteth to and fro,  
140   Til ate laste he fond hem tuo,
141   In prive place wher thei stode
142   To speke and have here wordes goode.
143   The place wher as he hem syh, 
144   It was under a banke nyh
145   The grete See, and he above
146   Stod and behield the lusti love  
147   Which ech of hem to other made
148   With goodly chiere and wordes glade,
149   That al his herte hath set afyre 
150   Of pure Envie: and as a fyre  
151   Which fleth out of a myhti bowe, 
152   Aweie he fledde for a throwe, 
153   As he that was for love wod,  
154   Whan that he sih how that it stod.  
155   This Polipheme a Geant was;
156   And whan he sih the sothe cas,
157   How Galathee him hath forsake 
158   And Acis to hire love take,
159   His herte mai it noght forbere
160   That he ne roreth lich a Bere;
161   And as it were a wilde beste, 
162   The whom no reson mihte areste,  
163   He ran Ethna the hell aboute, 
164   Wher nevere yit the fyr was oute,
165   Fulfild of sorghe and gret desese,  
166   That he syh Acis wel at ese.      
167   Til ate laste he him bethoghte,  
168   As he which al Envie soghte,  
169   And torneth to the banke ayein,  
170   Wher he with Galathee hath seyn  
171   Acis, whom that he thoghte grieve,  
172   Thogh he himself mai noght relieve. 
173   This Geant with his ruide myht
174   Part of the banke he schof doun riht,  
175   The which evene upon Acis fell,  
176   So that with fallinge of this hell  
177   This Poliphemus Acis slowh,
178   Wherof sche made sorwe ynowh. 
179   And as sche fledde fro the londe,
180   Neptunus tok hire into honde  
181   And kept hire in so sauf a place 
182   Fro Polipheme and his manace, 
183   That he with al his false Envie  
184   Ne mihte atteigne hir compaignie.
185   This Galathee of whom I speke,
186   That of hirself mai noght be wreke, 
187   Withouten eny semblant feigned
188   Sche hath hire loves deth compleigned, 
189   And with hire sorwe and with hire wo
190   Sche hath the goddes moeved so,  
191   That thei of pite and of grace
192   Have Acis in the same place,  
193   Ther he lai ded, into a welle 
194   Transformed, as the bokes telle, 
195   With freisshe stremes and with cliere, 
196   As he whilom with lusti chiere
197   Was freissh his love forto qweme.
198   And with this ruide Polipheme 
199   For his Envie and for his hate
200   Thei were wrothe. And thus algate,  
201   Mi Sone, thou myht understonde,  
202   That if thou wolt in grace stonde
203   With love, thou most leve Envie: 
204   And as thou wolt for thi partie      
205   Toward thi love stonde fre,
206   So most thou soffre an other be, 
207   What so befalle upon the chaunce:
208   For it is an unwys vengance,  
209   Which to non other man is lief,  
210   And is unto himselve grief.
211   Mi fader, this ensample is good; 
212   Bot how so evere that it stod 
213   With Poliphemes love as tho,  
214   It schal noght stonde with me so,
215   To worchen eny felonie  
216   In love for no such Envie. 
217   Forthi if ther oght elles be, 
218   Now axeth forth, in what degre
219   It is, and I me schal confesse
220   With schrifte unto youre holinesse. 
221   Mi goode Sone, yit ther is 
222   A vice revers unto this,
223   Which envious takth his gladnesse
224   Of that he seth the hevinesse 
225   Of othre men: for his welfare 
226   Is whanne he wot an other care:  
227   Of that an other hath a fall, 
228   He thenkth himself arist withal. 
229   Such is the gladschipe of Envie  
230   In worldes thing, and in partie  
231   Fulofte times ek also
232   In loves cause it stant riht so.     
233   If thou, my Sone, hast joie had, 
234   Whan thou an other sihe unglad,  
235   Schrif the therof. Mi fader, yis:
236   I am beknowe unto you this.
237   Of these lovers that loven streyte, 
238   And for that point which thei coveite  
239   Ben poursuiantz fro yeer to yere 
240   In loves Court, whan I may hiere 
241   How that thei clymbe upon the whel, 
242   And whan thei wene al schal be wel, 
243   Thei ben doun throwen ate laste, 
244   Thanne am I fedd of that thei faste,
245   And lawhe of that I se hem loure;
246   And thus of that thei brewe soure
247   I drinke swete, and am wel esed  
248   Of that I wot thei ben desesed.  
249   Bot this which I you telle hiere 
250   Is only for my lady diere; 
251   That for non other that I knowe  
252   Me reccheth noght who overthrowe,
253   Ne who that stonde in love upriht:  
254   Bot be he squier, be he knyht,
255   Which to my ladiward poursuieth, 
256   The more he lest of that he suieth, 
257   The mor me thenketh that I winne,
258   And am the more glad withinne 
259   Of that I wot him sorwe endure.  
260   For evere upon such aventure  
261   It is a confort, as men sein, 
262   To him the which is wo besein 
263   To sen an other in his peine, 
264   So that thei bothe mai compleigne.  
265   Wher I miself mai noght availe
266   To sen an other man travaile, 
267   I am riht glad if he be let;  
268   And thogh I fare noght the bet,  
269   His sorwe is to myn herte a game:
270   Whan that I knowe it is the same 
271   Which to mi ladi stant enclined,     
272   And hath his love noght termined,
273   I am riht joifull in my thoght.  
274   If such Envie grieveth oght,  
275   As I beknowe me coupable,  
276   Ye that be wys and resonable, 
277   Mi fader, telleth youre avis. 
278   Mi Sone, Envie into no pris
279   Of such a forme, I understonde,  
280   Ne mihte be no resoun stonde  
281   For this Envie hath such a kinde,
282   That he wole sette himself behinde  
283   To hindre with an othre wyht, 
284   And gladly lese his oghne riht
285   To make an other lesen his.
286   And forto knowe how it so is, 
287   A tale lich to this matiere
288   I thenke telle, if thou wolt hiere, 
289   To schewe proprely the vice
290   Of this Envie and the malice. 
291   Of Jupiter this finde I write,
292   How whilom that he wolde wite 
293   Upon the pleigntes whiche he herde, 
294   Among the men how that it ferde, 
295   As of here wrong condicion 
296   To do justificacion: 
297   And for that cause doun he sente 
298   An Angel, which about wente,  
299   That he the sothe knowe mai.  
300   So it befell upon a dai 
301   This Angel, which him scholde enforme, 
302   Was clothed in a mannes forme,
303   And overtok, I understonde,
304   Tuo men that wenten over londe,  
305   Thurgh whiche he thoghte to aspie
306   His cause, and goth in compaignie.  
307   This Angel with hise wordes wise 
308   Opposeth hem in sondri wise,  
309   Now lowde wordes and now softe,      
310   That mad hem to desputen ofte,
311   And ech of hem his reson hadde.  
312   And thus with tales he hem ladde 
313   With good examinacioun, 
314   Til he knew the condicioun,
315   What men thei were bothe tuo; 
316   And sih wel ate laste tho, 
317   That on of hem was coveitous, 
318   And his fela was envious.  
319   And thus, whan he hath knowlechinge,
320   Anon he feigneth departinge,  
321   And seide he mot algate wende.
322   Bot herkne now what fell at ende:
323   For thanne he made hem understonde  
324   That he was there of goddes sonde,  
325   And seide hem, for the kindeschipe  
326   That thei have don him felaschipe,  
327   He wole hem do som grace ayein,  
328   And bad that on of hem schal sein
329   What thing him is lievest to crave, 
330   And he it schal of yifte have;
331   And over that ek forth withal 
332   He seith that other have schal
333   The double of that his felaw axeth; 
334   And thus to hem his grace he taxeth.
335   The coveitous was wonder glad,
336   And to that other man he bad  
337   And seith that he ferst axe scholde:
338   For he supposeth that he wolde
339   Make his axinge of worldes good; 
340   For thanne he knew wel how it stod, 
341   That he himself be double weyhte 
342   Schal after take, and thus be sleyhte, 
343   Be cause that he wolde winne, 
344   He bad his fela ferst beginne.
345   This Envious, thogh it be late,  
346   Whan that he syh he mot algate    
347   Make his axinge ferst, he thoghte,  
348   If he worschipe or profit soghte,
349   It schal be doubled to his fiere:
350   That wolde he chese in no manere.
351   Bot thanne he scheweth what he was  
352   Toward Envie, and in this cas 
353   Unto this Angel thus he seide 
354   And for his yifte this he preide,
355   To make him blind of his on yhe, 
356   So that his fela nothing syhe.
357   This word was noght so sone spoke,  
358   That his on yhe anon was loke,
359   And his felawh forthwith also 
360   Was blind of bothe his yhen tuo. 
361   Tho was that other glad ynowh,
362   That on wepte, and that other lowh, 
363   He sette his on yhe at no cost,  
364   Wherof that other two hath lost. 
365   Of thilke ensample which fell tho,  
366   Men tellen now fulofte so, 
367   The world empeireth comunly:  
368   And yit wot non the cause why;
369   For it acordeth noght to kinde
370   Min oghne harm to seche and finde
371   Of that I schal my brother grieve;  
372   It myhte nevere wel achieve.  
373   What seist thou, Sone, of this folie?  
374   Mi fader, bot I scholde lie,  
375   Upon the point which ye have seid
376   Yit was myn herte nevere leid,
377   Bot in the wise as I you tolde.  
378   Bot overmore, if that ye wolde
379   Oght elles to my schrifte seie
380   Touchende Envie, I wolde preie.  
381   Mi Sone, that schal wel be do:
382   Now herkne and ley thin Ere to.      
383   Touchende as of Envious brod  
384   I wot noght on of alle good;  
385   Bot natheles, suche as thei be,  
386   Yit is ther on, and that is he
387   Which cleped in Detraccioun.  
388   And to conferme his accioun,  
389   He hath withholde Malebouche, 
390   Whos tunge neither pyl ne crouche
391   Mai hyre, so that he pronounce
392   A plein good word withoute frounce  
393   Awher behinde a mannes bak.
394   For thogh he preise, he fint som lak,  
395   Which of his tale is ay the laste,  
396   That al the pris schal overcaste:
397   And thogh ther be no cause why,  
398   Yit wole he jangle noght forthi, 
399   As he which hath the heraldie 
400   Of hem that usen forto lye.
401   For as the Netle which up renneth
402   The freisshe rede Roses brenneth 
403   And makth hem fade and pale of hewe,
404   Riht so this fals Envious hewe,  
405   In every place wher he duelleth, 
406   With false wordes whiche he telleth 
407   He torneth preisinge into blame  
408   And worschipe into worldes schame.  
409   Of such lesinge as he compasseth,
410   Is non so good that he ne passeth
411   Betwen his teeth and is bacbited,
412   And thurgh his false tunge endited:     
413   Lich to the Scharnebudes kinde,  
414   Of whos nature this I finde,  
415   That in the hoteste of the dai,  
416   Whan comen is the merie Maii, 
417   He sprat his wynge and up he fleth: 
418   And under al aboute he seth
419   The faire lusti floures springe, 
420   Bot therof hath he no likinge;
421   Bot where he seth of eny beste
422   The felthe, ther he makth his feste,
423   And therupon he wole alyhte,  
424   Ther liketh him non other sihte. 
425   Riht so this janglere Envious,
426   Thogh he a man se vertuous 
427   And full of good condicioun,  
428   Therof makth he no mencioun:  
429   Bot elles, be it noght so lyte,  
430   Wherof that he mai sette a wyte, 
431   Ther renneth he with open mouth, 
432   Behinde a man and makth it couth.
433   Bot al the vertu which he can,
434   That wole he hide of every man,  
435   And openly the vice telle, 
436   As he which of the Scole of helle
437   Is tawht, and fostred with Envie 
438   Of houshold and of compaignie,
439   Wher that he hath his propre office 
440   To sette on every man a vice. 
441   How so his mouth be comely,
442   His word sit evermore awry 
443   And seith the worste that he may.
444   And in this wise now a day 
445   In loves Court a man mai hiere
446   Fulofte pleigne of this matiere, 
447   That many envious tale is stered,
448   Wher that it mai noght ben ansuered;
449   Bot yit fulofte it is believed,  
450   And many a worthi love is grieved
451   Thurgh bacbitinge of fals Envie. 
452   If thou have mad such janglerie      
453   In loves Court, mi Sone, er this,
454   Schrif thee therof. Mi fader, yis:  
455   Bot wite ye how? noght openly,
456   Bot otherwhile prively, 
457   Whan I my diere ladi mete, 
458   And thenke how that I am noght mete 
459   Unto hire hihe worthinesse,
460   And ek I se the besinesse  
461   Of al this yonge lusty route, 
462   Whiche alday pressen hire aboute,
463   And ech of hem his time awaiteth,
464   And ech of hem his tale affaiteth,  
465   Al to deceive an innocent, 
466   Which woll noght ben of here assent;
467   And for men sein unknowe unkest, 
468   Hire thombe sche holt in hire fest  
469   So clos withinne hire oghne hond,
470   That there winneth noman lond;
471   Sche lieveth noght al that sche hiereth,  
472   And thus fulofte hirself sche skiereth 
473   And is al war of "hadde I wist":-
474   Bot for al that myn herte arist, 
475   Whanne I thes comun lovers se,
476   That woll noght holden hem to thre, 
477   Bot welnyh loven overal,
478   Min herte is Envious withal,  
479   And evere I am adrad of guile,
480   In aunter if with eny wyle 
481   Thei mihte hire innocence enchaunte.
482   Forthi my wordes ofte I haunte
483   Behynden hem, so as I dar, 
484   Wherof my ladi may be war: 
485   I sai what evere comth to mowthe,
486   And worse I wolde, if that I cowthe;
487   For whanne I come unto hir speche,  
488   Al that I may enquere and seche          
489   Of such deceipte, I telle it al, 
490   And ay the werste in special. 
491   So fayn I wolde that sche wiste  
492   How litel thei ben forto triste, 
493   And what thei wolde and what thei mente,  
494   So as thei be of double entente: 
495   Thus toward hem that wicke mene  
496   My wicked word was evere grene.  
497   And natheles, the soth to telle, 
498   In certain if it so befelle
499   That althertrewest man ybore, 
500   To chese among a thousend score, 
501   Which were alfulli forto triste, 
502   Mi ladi lovede, and I it wiste,  
503   Yit rathere thanne he scholde spede,
504   I wolde swiche tales sprede
505   To my ladi, if that I myhte,  
506   That I scholde al his love unrihte, 
507   And therto wolde I do mi peine.  
508   For certes thogh I scholde feigne,  
509   And telle that was nevere thoght,
510   For al this world I myhte noght  
511   To soffre an othre fully winne,  
512   Ther as I am yit to beginne.  
513   For be thei goode, or be thei badde,
514   I wolde non my ladi hadde; 
515   And that me makth fulofte aspie  
516   And usen wordes of Envie,  
517   Al forto make hem bere a blame.  
518   And that is bot of thilke same,  
519   The whiche unto my ladi drawe,
520   For evere on hem I rounge and gknawe
521   And hindre hem al that evere I mai; 
522   And that is, sothly forto say,
523   Bot only to my lady selve: 
524   I telle it noght to ten ne tuelve,  
525   Therof I wol me wel avise, 
526   To speke or jangle in eny wise
527   That toucheth to my ladi name,    
528   The which in ernest and in game  
529   I wolde save into my deth; 
530   For me were levere lacke breth
531   Than speken of hire name amis.
532   Now have ye herd touchende of this, 
533   Mi fader, in confessioun:  
534   And therfor of Detraccioun 
535   In love, of that I have mispoke, 
536   Tel how ye wole it schal be wroke.  
537   I am al redy forto bere 
538   Mi peine, and also to forbere 
539   What thing that ye wol noght allowe;
540   For who is bounden, he mot bowe. 
541   So wol I bowe unto youre heste,  
542   For I dar make this beheste,  
543   That I to yow have nothing hid,  
544   Bot told riht as it is betid; 
545   And otherwise of no mispeche, 
546   Mi conscience forto seche, 
547   I can noght of Envie finde,
548   That I mispoke have oght behinde 
549   Wherof love owhte be mispaid. 
550   Now have ye herd and I have said;
551   What wol ye, fader, that I do?
552   Mi Sone, do nomore so,  
553   Bot evere kep thi tunge stille,  
554   Thou miht the more have of thi wille.  
555   For as thou saist thiselven here,
556   Thi ladi is of such manere,
557   So wys, so war in alle thinge,
558   It nedeth of no bakbitinge 
559   That thou thi ladi mis enforme:  
560   For whan sche knoweth al the forme, 
561   How that thiself art envious, 
562   Thou schalt noght be so gracious 
563   As thou peraunter scholdest elles.  
564   Ther wol noman drinke of tho welles 
565   Whiche as he wot is puyson inne; 
566   And ofte swich as men beginne     
567   Towardes othre, swich thei finde,
568   That set hem ofte fer behinde,
569   Whan that thei wene be before.
570   Mi goode Sone, and thou therfore 
571   Bewar and lef thi wicke speche,  
572   Wherof hath fallen ofte wreche
573   To many a man befor this time.
574   For who so wole his handes lime, 
575   Thei mosten be the more unclene; 
576   For many a mote schal be sene,
577   That wolde noght cleve elles there; 
578   And that schold every wys man fere: 
579   For who so wol an other blame,
580   He secheth ofte his oghne schame,
581   Which elles myhte be riht stille.
582   Forthi if that it be thi wille
583   To stonde upon amendement, 
584   A tale of gret entendement 
585   I thenke telle for thi sake,  
586   Wherof thou miht ensample take.  
587   A worthi kniht in Cristes lawe
588   Of grete Rome, as is the sawe,
589   The Sceptre hadde forto rihte;
590   Tiberie Constantin he hihte,  
591   Whos wif was cleped Ytalie:
592   Bot thei togedre of progenie  
593   No children hadde bot a Maide;
594   And sche the god so wel apaide,  
595   That al the wide worldes fame 
596   Spak worschipe of hire goode name.  
597   Constance, as the Cronique seith,
598   Sche hihte, and was so ful of feith,
599   That the greteste of Barbarie,
600   Of hem whiche usen marchandie,
601   Sche hath converted, as thei come
602   To hire upon a time in Rome,  
603   To schewen such thing as thei broghte; 
604   Whiche worthili of hem sche boghte,     
605   And over that in such a wise  
606   Sche hath hem with hire wordes wise 
607   Of Cristes feith so full enformed,  
608   That thei therto ben all conformed, 
609   So that baptesme thei receiven
610   And alle here false goddes weyven.  
611   Whan thei ben of the feith certein, 
612   Thei gon to Barbarie ayein,
613   And ther the Souldan for hem sente  
614   And axeth hem to what entente 
615   Thei have here ferste feith forsake.
616   And thei, whiche hadden undertake
617   The rihte feith to kepe and holde,  
618   The matiere of here tale tolde
619   With al the hole circumstance.
620   And whan the Souldan of Constance
621   Upon the point that thei ansuerde
622   The beaute and the grace herde,  
623   As he which thanne was to wedde, 
624   In alle haste his cause spedde
625   To sende for the mariage.  
626   And furthermor with good corage  
627   He seith, be so he mai hire have,
628   That Crist, which cam this world to save, 
629   He woll believe: and this recorded, 
630   Thei ben on either side acorded, 
631   And therupon to make an ende  
632   The Souldan hise hostages sende  
633   To Rome, of Princes Sones tuelve:
634   Wherof the fader in himselve  
635   Was glad, and with the Pope avised  
636   Tuo Cardinals he hath assissed
637   With othre lordes many mo, 
638   That with his doghter scholden go,  
639   To se the Souldan be converted.  
640   Bot that which nevere was wel herted,  
641   Envie, tho began travaile  
642   In destourbance of this spousaile
643   So prively that non was war.      
644   The Moder which this Souldan bar 
645   Was thanne alyve, and thoghte this  
646   Unto hirself: "If it so is 
647   Mi Sone him wedde in this manere,
648   Than have I lost my joies hiere, 
649   For myn astat schal so be lassed."  
650   Thenkende thus sche hath compassed  
651   Be sleihte how that sche may beguile
652   Hire Sone; and fell withinne a while,  
653   Betwen hem two whan that thei were, 
654   Sche feigneth wordes in his Ere, 
655   And in this wise gan to seie: 
656   "Mi Sone, I am be double weie 
657   With al myn herte glad and blithe,  
658   For that miself have ofte sithe  
659   Desired thou wolt, as men seith, 
660   Receive and take a newe feith,
661   Which schal be forthringe of thi lif:  
662   And ek so worschipful a wif,  
663   The doughter of an Emperour,  
664   To wedde it schal be gret honour.
665   Forthi, mi Sone, I you beseche
666   That I such grace mihte areche,  
667   Whan that my doughter come schal,
668   That I mai thanne in special, 
669   So as me thenkth it is honeste,  
670   Be thilke which the ferste feste 
671   Schal make unto hire welcominge."
672   The Souldan granteth hire axinge,
673   And sche therof was glad ynowh:  
674   For under that anon sche drowh
675   With false wordes that sche spak 
676   Covine of deth behinde his bak.  
677   And therupon hire ordinance
678   She made so, that whan Constance 
679   Was come forth with the Romeins, 
680   Of clerkes and of Citezeins,      
681   A riche feste sche hem made:  
682   And most whan that thei weren glade,
683   With fals covine which sche hadde
684   Hire clos Envie tho sche spradde,
685   And alle tho that hadden be
686   Or in apert or in prive 
687   Of conseil to the mariage, 
688   Sche slowh hem in a sodein rage  
689   Endlong the bord as thei be set, 
690   So that it myhte noght be let;
691   Hire oghne Sone was noght quit,  
692   Bot deide upon the same plit. 
693   Bot what the hihe god wol spare  
694   It mai for no peril misfare:  
695   This worthi Maiden which was there  
696   Stod thanne, as who seith, ded for feere, 
697   To se the feste how that it stod,
698   Which al was torned into blod:
699   The Dissh forthwith the Coppe and al
700   Bebled thei weren overal;  
701   Sche sih hem deie on every side; 
702   No wonder thogh sche wepte and cride
703   Makende many a wofull mone.
704   Whan al was slain bot sche al one,  
705   This olde fend, this Sarazine,
706   Let take anon this Constantine
707   With al the good sche thider broghte,  
708   And hath ordeined, as sche thoghte, 
709   A nakid Schip withoute stiere,
710   In which the good and hire in fiere,
711   Vitailed full for yeres fyve, 
712   Wher that the wynd it wolde dryve,  
713   Sche putte upon the wawes wilde. 
714   Bot he which alle thing mai schilde,
715   Thre yer, til that sche cam to londe,  
716   Hire Schip to stiere hath take in honde,  
717   And in Northumberlond aryveth;
718   And happeth thanne that sche dryveth
719   Under a Castel with the flod,     
720   Which upon Humber banke stod  
721   And was the kynges oghne also,
722   The which Allee was cleped tho,  
723   A Saxon and a worthi knyht,
724   Bot he believed noght ariht.  
725   Of this Castell was Chastellein  
726   Elda the kinges Chamberlein,  
727   A knyhtly man after his lawe; 
728   And whan he sih upon the wawe 
729   The Schip drivende al one so, 
730   He bad anon men scholden go
731   To se what it betokne mai. 
732   This was upon a Somer dai, 
733   The Schip was loked and sche founde;
734   Elda withinne a litel stounde 
735   It wiste, and with his wif anon  
736   Toward this yonge ladi gon,
737   Wher that thei founden gret richesse;  
738   Bot sche hire wolde noght confesse, 
739   Whan thei hire axen what sche was.  
740   And natheles upon the cas  
741   Out of the Schip with gret worschipe
742   Thei toke hire into felaschipe,  
743   As thei that weren of hir glade: 
744   Bot sche no maner joie made,  
745   Bot sorweth sore of that sche fond  
746   No cristendom in thilke lond; 
747   Bot elles sche hath al hire wille,  
748   And thus with hem sche duelleth stille.
749   Dame Hermyngheld, which was the wif 
750   Of Elda, lich hire oghne lif  
751   Constance loveth; and fell so,
752   Spekende alday betwen hem two,
753   Thurgh grace of goddes pourveance
754   This maiden tawhte the creance
755   Unto this wif so parfitly, 
756   Upon a dai that faste by
757   In presence of hire housebonde,  
758   Wher thei go walkende on the Stronde,      
759   A blind man, which cam there lad,
760   Unto this wif criende he bad, 
761   With bothe hise hondes up and preide
762   To hire, and in this wise he seide: 
763   "O Hermyngeld, which Cristes feith, 
764   Enformed as Constance seith,  
765   Received hast, yif me my sihte." 
766   Upon his word hire herte afflihte
767   Thenkende what was best to done, 
768   Bot natheles sche herde his bone 
769   And seide, "In trust of Cristes lawe,  
770   Which don was on the crois and slawe,  
771   Thou bysne man, behold and se."  
772   With that to god upon his kne 
773   Thonkende he tok his sihte anon, 
774   Wherof thei merveile everychon,  
775   Bot Elda wondreth most of alle:  
776   This open thing which is befalle 
777   Concludeth him be such a weie,
778   That he the feith mot nede obeie.
779   Now lest what fell upon this thing. 
780   This Elda forth unto the king 
781   A morwe tok his weie and rod, 
782   And Hermyngeld at home abod
783   Forth with Constance wel at ese. 
784   Elda, which thoghte his king to plese, 
785   As he that thanne unwedded was,  
786   Of Constance al the pleine cas
787   Als goodliche as he cowthe tolde.
788   The king was glad and seide he wolde
789   Come thider upon such a wise  
790   That he him mihte of hire avise, 
791   The time apointed forth withal.  
792   This Elda triste in special
793   Upon a knyht, whom fro childhode 
794   He hadde updrawe into manhode:
795   To him he tolde al that he thoghte, 
796   Wherof that after him forthoghte;
797   And natheles at thilke tide    
798   Unto his wif he bad him ride  
799   To make redi alle thing 
800   Ayein the cominge of the king,
801   And seith that he himself tofore 
802   Thenkth forto come, and bad therfore
803   That he him kepe, and told him whanne. 
804   This knyht rod forth his weie thanne;  
805   And soth was that of time passed 
806   He hadde in al his wit compassed 
807   How he Constance myhte winne; 
808   Bot he sih tho no sped therinne, 
809   Wherof his lust began tabate, 
810   And that was love is thanne hate;
811   Of hire honour he hadde Envie,
812   So that upon his tricherie 
813   A lesinge in his herte he caste. 
814   Til he cam home he hieth faste,  
815   And doth his ladi tunderstonde
816   The Message of hire housebonde:  
817   And therupon the longe dai 
818   Thei setten thinges in arrai, 
819   That al was as it scholde be  
820   Of every thing in his degree; 
821   And whan it cam into the nyht,
822   This wif hire hath to bedde dyht,
823   Wher that this Maiden with hire lay.
824   This false knyht upon delay
825   Hath taried til thei were aslepe,
826   As he that wolde his time kepe
827   His dedly werkes to fulfille; 
828   And to the bed he stalketh stille,  
829   Wher that he wiste was the wif,  
830   And in his hond a rasour knif 
831   He bar, with which hire throte he cutte,  
832   And prively the knif he putte 
833   Under that other beddes side,     
834   Wher that Constance lai beside.  
835   Elda cam hom the same nyht,
836   And stille with a prive lyht, 
837   As he that wolde noght awake  
838   His wif, he hath his weie take
839   Into the chambre, and ther liggende 
840   He fond his dede wif bledende,
841   Wher that Constance faste by  
842   Was falle aslepe; and sodeinly
843   He cride alowd, and sche awok,
844   And forth withal sche caste a lok
845   And sih this ladi blede there,
846   Wherof swoundende ded for fere
847   Sche was, and stille as eny Ston 
848   She lay, and Elda therupon 
849   Into the Castell clepeth oute,
850   And up sterte every man aboute,  
851   Into the chambre and forth thei wente. 
852   Bot he, which alle untrouthe mente, 
853   This false knyht, among hem alle 
854   Upon this thing which is befalle 
855   Seith that Constance hath don this dede;  
856   And to the bed with that he yede 
857   After the falshed of his speche, 
858   And made him there forto seche,  
859   And fond the knif, wher he it leide,
860   And thanne he cride and thanne he seide,  
861   "Lo, seth the knif al blody hiere!  
862   What nedeth more in this matiere 
863   To axe?" And thus hire innocence 
864   He sclaundreth there in audience 
865   With false wordes whiche he feigneth.  
866   Bot yit for al that evere he pleigneth,
867   Elda no full credence tok: 
868   And happeth that ther lay a bok, 
869   Upon the which, whan he it sih,  
870   This knyht hath swore and seid on hih, 
871   That alle men it mihte wite,      
872   "Now be this bok, which hier is write, 
873   Constance is gultif, wel I wot." 
874   With that the hond of hevene him smot  
875   In tokne of that he was forswore,
876   That he hath bothe hise yhen lore,  
877   Out of his hed the same stounde  
878   Thei sterte, and so thei weren founde. 
879   A vois was herd, whan that they felle, 
880   Which seide, "O dampned man to helle,  
881   Lo, thus hath god the sclaundre wroke  
882   That thou ayein Constance hast spoke:  
883   Beknow the sothe er that thou dye." 
884   And he told out his felonie,  
885   And starf forth with his tale anon. 
886   Into the ground, wher alle gon,  
887   This dede lady was begrave:
888   Elda, which thoghte his honour save,
889   Al that he mai restreigneth sorwe.  
890   For the seconde day a morwe
891   The king cam, as thei were acorded; 
892   And whan it was to him recorded  
893   What god hath wroght upon this chaunce,
894   He tok it into remembrance 
895   And thoghte more than he seide.  
896   For al his hole herte he leide
897   Upon Constance, and seide he scholde
898   For love of hire, if that sche wolde,  
899   Baptesme take and Cristes feith  
900   Believe, and over that he seith  
901   He wol hire wedde, and upon this 
902   Asseured ech til other is. 
903   And forto make schorte tales, 
904   Ther cam a Bisschop out of Wales 
905   Fro Bangor, and Lucie he hihte,  
906   Which thurgh the grace of god almihte  
907   The king with many an other mo
908   Hath cristned, and betwen hem tuo
909   He hath fulfild the mariage.  
910   Bot for no lust ne for no rage    
911   Sche tolde hem nevere what sche was;
912   And natheles upon the cas  
913   The king was glad, how so it stod,  
914   For wel he wiste and understod
915   Sche was a noble creature. 
916   The hihe makere of nature  
917   Hire hath visited in a throwe,
918   That it was openliche knowe
919   Sche was with childe be the king,
920   Wherof above al other thing
921   He thonketh god and was riht glad.  
922   And fell that time he was bestad 
923   Upon a werre and moste ride;  
924   And whil he scholde there abide, 
925   He lefte at hom to kepe his wif  
926   Suche as he knew of holi lif, 
927   Elda forth with the Bisschop eke;
928   And he with pouer goth to seke
929   Ayein the Scottes forto fonde 
930   The werre which he tok on honde. 
931   The time set of kinde is come,
932   This lady hath hire chambre nome,
933   And of a Sone bore full,
934   Wherof that sche was joiefull,
935   Sche was delivered sauf and sone.
936   The bisshop, as it was to done,  
937   Yaf him baptesme and Moris calleth; 
938   And therupon, as it befalleth,
939   With lettres writen of record 
940   Thei sende unto here liege lord, 
941   That kepers weren of the qweene: 
942   And he that scholde go betwene,  
943   The Messager, to Knaresburgh, 
944   Which toun he scholde passe thurgh, 
945   Ridende cam the ferste day.
946   The kinges Moder there lay,
947   Whos rihte name was Domilde,      
948   Which after al the cause spilde: 
949   For he, which thonk deserve wolde,  
950   Unto this ladi goth and tolde 
951   Of his Message al how it ferde.  
952   And sche with feigned joie it herde 
953   And yaf him yiftes largely,
954   Bot in the nyht al prively 
955   Sche tok the lettres whiche he hadde,  
956   Fro point to point and overradde,
957   As sche that was thurghout untrewe, 
958   And let do wryten othre newe  
959   In stede of hem, and thus thei spieke: 
960   "Oure liege lord, we thee beseke 
961   That thou with ous ne be noght wroth,  
962   Though we such thing as is thee loth
963   Upon oure trowthe certefie.
964   Thi wif, which is of faierie, 
965   Of such a child delivered is  
966   Fro kinde which stant al amis:
967   Bot for it scholde noght be seie,
968   We have it kept out of the weie  
969   For drede of pure worldes schame,
970   A povere child and in the name
971   Of thilke which is so misbore 
972   We toke, and therto we be swore, 
973   That non bot only thou and we 
974   Schal knowen of this privete: 
975   Moris it hatte, and thus men wene
976   That it was boren of the qweene  
977   And of thin oghne bodi gete.  
978   Bot this thing mai noght be foryete,
979   That thou ne sende ous word anon 
980   What is thi wille therupon."  
981   This lettre, as thou hast herd devise, 
982   Was contrefet in such a wise  
983   That noman scholde it aperceive: 
984   And sche, which thoghte to deceive, 
985   It leith wher sche that other tok.      
986   This Messager, whan he awok,  
987   And wiste nothing how it was, 
988   Aros and rod the grete pas 
989   And tok this lettre to the king. 
990   And whan he sih this wonder thing,  
991   He makth the Messager no chiere, 
992   Bot natheles in wys manere 
993   He wrote ayein, and yaf hem charge  
994   That thei ne soffre noght at large  
995   His wif to go, bot kepe hire stille,
996   Til thei have herd mor of his wille.
997   This Messager was yifteles,
998   Bot with this lettre natheles,
999   Or be him lief or be him loth,
1000  In alle haste ayein he goth
1001  Be Knaresburgh, and as he wente, 
1002  Unto the Moder his entente 
1003  Of that he fond toward the king  
1004  He tolde; and sche upon this thing  
1005  Seith that he scholde abide al nyht 
1006  And made him feste and chiere ariht,
1007  Feignende as thogh sche cowthe him thonk. 
1008  Bot he with strong wyn which he dronk  
1009  Forth with the travail of the day
1010  Was drunke, aslepe and while he lay,
1011  Sche hath hise lettres overseie  
1012  And formed in an other weie.  
1013  Ther was a newe lettre write, 
1014  Which seith: "I do you forto wite,  
1015  That thurgh the conseil of you tuo  
1016  I stonde in point to ben undo,
1017  As he which is a king deposed.
1018  For every man it hath supposed,  
1019  How that my wif Constance is faie;  
1020  And if that I, thei sein, delaie 
1021  To put hire out of compaignie,
1022  The worschipe of my Regalie    
1023  Is lore; and over this thei telle,  
1024  Hire child schal noght among hem duelle,  
1025  To cleymen eny heritage.
1026  So can I se non avantage,  
1027  Bot al is lost, if sche abide:
1028  Forthi to loke on every side  
1029  Toward the meschief as it is, 
1030  I charge you and bidde this,  
1031  That ye the same Schip vitaile,  
1032  In which that sche tok arivaile, 
1033  Therinne and putteth bothe tuo,  
1034  Hireself forthwith hire child also, 
1035  And so forth broght unto the depe
1036  Betaketh hire the See to kepe.
1037  Of foure daies time I sette,  
1038  That ye this thing no longer lette, 
1039  So that your lif be noght forsfet." 
1040  And thus this lettre contrefet
1041  The Messager, which was unwar,
1042  Upon the kingeshalve bar,  
1043  And where he scholde it hath betake.
1044  Bot whan that thei have hiede take, 
1045  And rad that writen is withinne, 
1046  So gret a sorwe thei beginne, 
1047  As thei here oghne Moder sihen
1048  Brent in a fyr before here yhen: 
1049  Ther was wepinge and ther was wo,
1050  Bot finaly the thing is do.
1051  Upon the See thei have hire broght, 
1052  Bot sche the cause wiste noght,  
1053  And thus upon the flod thei wone,
1054  This ladi with hire yonge Sone:  
1055  And thanne hire handes to the hevene
1056  Sche strawhte, and with a milde stevene
1057  Knelende upon hire bare kne
1058  Sche seide, "O hihe mageste,  
1059  Which sest the point of every trowthe, 
1060  Tak of thi wofull womman rowthe      
1061  And of this child that I schal kepe."  
1062  And with that word sche gan to wepe,
1063  Swounende as ded, and ther sche lay;
1064  Bot he which alle thinges may 
1065  Conforteth hire, and ate laste
1066  Sche loketh and hire yhen caste  
1067  Upon hire child and seide this:  
1068  "Of me no maner charge it is  
1069  What sorwe I soffre, bot of thee 
1070  Me thenkth it is a gret pite, 
1071  For if I sterve thou schalt deie:
1072  So mot I nedes be that weie
1073  For Moderhed and for tendresse
1074  With al myn hole besinesse 
1075  Ordeigne me for thilke office,
1076  As sche which schal be thi Norrice."
1077  Thus was sche strengthed forto stonde; 
1078  And tho sche tok hire child in honde
1079  And yaf it sowke, and evere among
1080  Sche wepte, and otherwhile song  
1081  To rocke with hire child aslepe: 
1082  And thus hire oghne child to kepe
1083  Sche hath under the goddes cure. 
1084  And so fell upon aventure, 
1085  Whan thilke yer hath mad his ende,  
1086  Hire Schip, so as it moste wende 
1087  Thurgh strengthe of wynd which god hath yive,
1088  Estward was into Spaigne drive
1089  Riht faste under a Castell wall, 
1090  Wher that an hethen Amirall
1091  Was lord, and he a Stieward hadde,  
1092  Oon Thelos, which al was badde,
1093  A fals knyht and a renegat.
1094  He goth to loke in what astat 
1095  The Schip was come, and there he fond  
1096  Forth with a child upon hire hond
1097  This lady, wher sche was al one.     
1098  He tok good hiede of the persone,
1099  And sih sche was a worthi wiht,  
1100  And thoghte he wolde upon the nyht  
1101  Demene hire at his oghne wille,  
1102  And let hire be therinne stille, 
1103  That mo men sih sche noght that dai.
1104  At goddes wille and thus sche lai,  
1105  Unknowe what hire schal betide;  
1106  And fell so that be nyhtes tide  
1107  This knyht withoute felaschipe
1108  Hath take a bot and cam to Schipe,  
1109  And thoghte of hire his lust to take,  
1110  And swor, if sche him daunger make, 
1111  That certeinly sche scholde deie.
1112  Sche sih ther was non other weie,
1113  And seide he scholde hire wel conforte,
1114  That he ferst loke out ate porte,
1115  That noman were nyh the stede,
1116  Which myhte knowe what thei dede,
1117  And thanne he mai do what he wolde. 
1118  He was riht glad that sche so tolde,
1119  And to the porte anon he ferde:  
1120  Sche preide god, and he hire herde, 
1121  And sodeinliche he was out throwe
1122  And dreynt, and tho began to blowe  
1123  A wynd menable fro the lond,  
1124  And thus the myhti goddes hond
1125  Hire hath conveied and defended. 
1126  And whan thre yer be full despended,
1127  Hire Schip was drive upon a dai, 
1128  Wher that a gret Navye lay 
1129  Of Schipes, al the world at ones:
1130  And as god wolde for the nones,  
1131  Hire Schip goth in among hem alle,      
1132  And stinte noght, er it be falle 
1133  And hath the vessell undergete,  
1134  Which Maister was of al the Flete,  
1135  Bot there it resteth and abod.
1136  This grete Schip on Anker rod;
1137  The Lord cam forth, and whan he sih 
1138  That other ligge abord so nyh,
1139  He wondreth what it myhte be, 
1140  And bad men to gon in and se. 
1141  This ladi tho was crope aside,
1142  As sche that wolde hireselven hide, 
1143  For sche ne wiste what thei were:
1144  Thei soghte aboute and founde hir there
1145  And broghten up hire child and hire;
1146  And therupon this lord to spire  
1147  Began, fro whenne that sche cam, 
1148  And what sche was. Quod sche, "I am 
1149  A womman wofully bestad.
1150  I hadde a lord, and thus he bad, 
1151  That I forth with my litel Sone  
1152  Upon the wawes scholden wone, 
1153  Bot why the cause was, I not: 
1154  Bot he which alle thinges wot 
1155  Yit hath, I thonke him, of his miht 
1156  Mi child and me so kept upriht,  
1157  That we be save bothe tuo."
1158  This lord hire axeth overmo
1159  How sche believeth, and sche seith, 
1160  "I lieve and triste in Cristes feith,  
1161  Which deide upon the Rode tree." 
1162  "What is thi name?" tho quod he. 
1163  "Mi name is Couste," sche him seide:
1164  Bot forthermor for noght he preide  
1165  Of hire astat to knowe plein, 
1166  Sche wolde him nothing elles sein
1167  Bot of hir name, which sche feigneth;  
1168  Alle othre thinges sche restreigneth,      
1169  That a word more sche ne tolde.  
1170  This lord thanne axeth if sche wolde
1171  With him abide in compaignie, 
1172  And seide he cam fro Barbarie 
1173  To Romeward, and hom he wente.
1174  Tho sche supposeth what it mente,
1175  And seith sche wolde with him wende 
1176  And duelle unto hire lyves ende, 
1177  Be so it be to his plesance.  
1178  And thus upon here aqueintance
1179  He tolde hire pleinly as it stod,
1180  Of Rome how that the gentil blod 
1181  In Barbarie was betraied,  
1182  And therupon he hath assaied  
1183  Be werre, and taken such vengance,  
1184  That non of al thilke alliance,  
1185  Be whom the tresoun was compassed,  
1186  Is from the swerd alyve passed;  
1187  Bot of Constance hou it was,  
1188  That cowthe he knowe be no cas,  
1189  Wher sche becam, so as he seide. 
1190  Hire Ere unto his word sche leide,  
1191  Bot forther made sche no chiere. 
1192  And natheles in this matiere  
1193  It happeth thilke time so: 
1194  This Lord, with whom sche scholde go,  
1195  Of Rome was the Senatour,  
1196  And of hir fader themperour
1197  His brother doughter hath to wyve,  
1198  Which hath hir fader ek alyve,
1199  And was Salustes cleped tho;  
1200  This wif Heleine hihte also,  
1201  To whom Constance was Cousine.
1202  Thus to the sike a medicine
1203  Hath god ordeined of his grace,  
1204  That forthwith in the same place     
1205  This Senatour his trowthe plihte,
1206  For evere, whil he live mihte,
1207  To kepe in worschipe and in welthe, 
1208  Be so that god wol yive hire helthe,
1209  This ladi, which fortune him sende. 
1210  And thus be Schipe forth sailende
1211  Hire and hir child to Rome he broghte, 
1212  And to his wif tho he besoghte
1213  To take hire into compaignie: 
1214  And sche, which cowthe of courtesie 
1215  Al that a good wif scholde konne,
1216  Was inly glad that sche hath wonne  
1217  The felaschip of so good on.  
1218  Til tuelve yeres were agon,
1219  This Emperoures dowhter Custe 
1220  Forth with the dowhter of Saluste
1221  Was kept, bot noman redily 
1222  Knew what sche was, and noght forthi
1223  Thei thoghten wel sche hadde be  
1224  In hire astat of hih degre,
1225  And every lif hire loveth wel.
1226  Now herke how thilke unstable whel, 
1227  Which evere torneth, wente aboute.  
1228  The king Allee, whil he was oute,
1229  As thou tofore hast herd this cas,  
1230  Deceived thurgh his Moder was:
1231  Bot whan that he cam hom ayein,  
1232  He axeth of his Chamberlein
1233  And of the Bisschop ek also,  
1234  Wher thei the qweene hadden do.  
1235  And thei answerde, there he bad, 
1236  And have him thilke lettre rad,  
1237  Which he hem sende for warant,
1238  And tolde him pleinli as it stant,  
1239  And sein, it thoghte hem gret pite  
1240  To se so worthi on as sche,
1241  With such a child as ther was bore, 
1242  So sodeinly to be forlore.     
1243  He axeth hem what child that were;  
1244  And thei him seiden, that naghere,  
1245  In al the world thogh men it soghte,
1246  Was nevere womman that forth broghte
1247  A fairer child than it was on.
1248  And thanne he axede hem anon, 
1249  Whi thei ne hadden write so:  
1250  Thei tolden, so thei hadden do.  
1251  He seide, "Nay." Thei seiden, "Yis."
1252  The lettre schewed rad it is, 
1253  Which thei forsoken everidel. 
1254  Tho was it understonde wel 
1255  That ther is tresoun in the thing:  
1256  The Messager tofore the king  
1257  Was broght and sodeinliche opposed; 
1258  And he, which nothing hath supposed 
1259  Bot alle wel, began to seie
1260  That he nagher upon the weie  
1261  Abod, bot only in a stede; 
1262  And cause why that he so dede 
1263  Was, as he wente to and fro,  
1264  At Knaresburgh be nyhtes tuo  
1265  The kinges Moder made him duelle.
1266  And whan the king it herde telle,
1267  Withinne his herte he wiste als faste  
1268  The treson which his Moder caste;
1269  And thoghte he wolde noght abide,
1270  Bot forth riht in the same tide  
1271  He tok his hors and rod anon. 
1272  With him ther riden manion,
1273  To Knaresburgh and forth thei wente,
1274  And lich the fyr which tunder hente,
1275  In such a rage, as seith the bok,
1276  His Moder sodeinliche he tok  
1277  And seide unto hir in this wise: 
1278  "O beste of helle, in what juise 
1279  Hast thou deserved forto deie,    
1280  That hast so falsly put aweie 
1281  With tresoun of thi bacbitinge
1282  The treweste at my knowlechinge  
1283  Of wyves and the most honeste?
1284  Bot I wol make this beheste,  
1285  I schal be venged er I go."
1286  And let a fyr do make tho, 
1287  And bad men forto caste hire inne:  
1288  Bot ferst sche tolde out al the sinne, 
1289  And dede hem alle forto wite  
1290  How sche the lettres hadde write,
1291  Fro point to point as it was wroght.
1292  And tho sche was to dethe broght 
1293  And brent tofore hire Sones yhe: 
1294  Wherof these othre, whiche it sihe  
1295  And herden how the cause stod,
1296  Sein that the juggement is good, 
1297  Of that hir Sone hire hath so served;  
1298  For sche it hadde wel deserved
1299  Thurgh tresoun of hire false tunge, 
1300  Which thurgh the lond was after sunge, 
1301  Constance and every wiht compleigneth. 
1302  Bot he, whom alle wo distreigneth,  
1303  This sorghfull king, was so bestad, 
1304  That he schal nevermor be glad,  
1305  He seith, eftsone forto wedde,
1306  Til that he wiste how that sche spedde,
1307  Which hadde ben his ferste wif:  
1308  And thus his yonge unlusti lif
1309  He dryveth forth so as he mai.
1310  Til it befell upon a dai,  
1311  Whan he hise werres hadde achieved, 
1312  And thoghte he wolde be relieved 
1313  Of Soule hele upon the feith  
1314  Which he hath take, thanne he seith 
1315  That he to Rome in pelrinage  
1316  Wol go, wher Pope was Pelage, 
1317  To take his absolucioun.    
1318  And upon this condicioun
1319  He made Edwyn his lieutenant, 
1320  Which heir to him was apparant,  
1321  That he the lond in his absence  
1322  Schal reule: and thus be providence 
1323  Of alle thinges wel begon  
1324  He tok his leve and forth is gon.
1325  Elda, which tho was with him there, 
1326  Er thei fulliche at Rome were,
1327  Was sent tofore to pourveie;  
1328  And he his guide upon the weie,  
1329  In help to ben his herbergour,
1330  Hath axed who was Senatour,
1331  That he his name myhte kenne. 
1332  Of Capadoce, he seide, Arcenne
1333  He hihte, and was a worthi kniht.
1334  To him goth Elda tho forth riht  
1335  And tolde him of his lord tidinge,  
1336  And preide that for his comynge  
1337  He wolde assigne him herbergage; 
1338  And he so dede of good corage.
1339  Whan al is do that was to done,  
1340  The king himself cam after sone. 
1341  This Senatour, whan that he com, 
1342  To Couste and to his wif at hom  
1343  Hath told how such a king Allee  
1344  Of gret array to the Citee 
1345  Was come, and Couste upon his tale  
1346  With herte clos and colour pale  
1347  Aswoune fell, and he merveileth  
1348  So sodeinly what thing hire eyleth, 
1349  And cawhte hire up, and whan sche wok, 
1350  Sche syketh with a pitous lok 
1351  And feigneth seknesse of the See;
1352  Bot it was for the king Allee,
1353  For joie which fell in hire thoght  
1354  That god him hath to toune broght.      
1355  This king hath spoke with the Pope  
1356  And told al that he cowthe agrope,  
1357  What grieveth in his conscience; 
1358  And thanne he thoghte in reverence  
1359  Of his astat, er that he wente,  
1360  To make a feste, and thus he sente  
1361  Unto the Senatour to come  
1362  Upon the morwe and othre some,
1363  To sitte with him at the mete.
1364  This tale hath Couste noght foryete,
1365  Bot to Moris hire Sone tolde  
1366  That he upon the morwe scholde
1367  In al that evere he cowthe and mihte
1368  Be present in the kinges sihte,  
1369  So that the king him ofte sihe.  
1370  Moris tofore the kinges yhe
1371  Upon the morwe, wher he sat,  
1372  Fulofte stod, and upon that
1373  The king his chiere upon him caste, 
1374  And in his face him thoghte als faste  
1375  He sih his oghne wif Constance;  
1376  For nature as in resemblance  
1377  Of face hem liketh so to clothe, 
1378  That thei were of a suite bothe. 
1379  The king was moeved in his thoght
1380  Of that he seth, and knoweth it noght; 
1381  This child he loveth kindely, 
1382  And yit he wot no cause why.  
1383  Bot wel he sih and understod  
1384  That he toward Arcenne stod,  
1385  And axeth him anon riht there,
1386  If that this child his Sone were.
1387  He seide, "Yee, so I him calle,  
1388  And wolde it were so befalle, 
1389  Bot it is al in other wise."  
1390  And tho began he to devise 
1391  How he the childes Moder fond 
1392  Upon the See from every lond      
1393  Withinne a Schip was stiereles,  
1394  And how this ladi helpeles 
1395  Forth with hir child he hath forthdrawe.  
1396  The king hath understonde his sawe, 
1397  The childes name and axeth tho,  
1398  And what the Moder hihte also 
1399  That he him wolde telle he preide.  
1400  "Moris this child is hote," he seide,  
1401  "His Moder hatte Couste, and this
1402  I not what maner name it is." 
1403  But Allee wiste wel ynowh, 
1404  Wherof somdiel smylende he lowh; 
1405  For Couste in Saxoun is to sein  
1406  Constance upon the word Romein.  
1407  Bot who that cowthe specefie  
1408  What tho fell in his fantasie,
1409  And how his wit aboute renneth
1410  Upon the love in which he brenneth, 
1411  It were a wonder forto hiere: 
1412  For he was nouther ther ne hiere,
1413  Bot clene out of himself aweie,  
1414  That he not what to thenke or seie, 
1415  So fain he wolde it were sche.
1416  Wherof his hertes privete  
1417  Began the werre of yee and nay,  
1418  The which in such balance lay,
1419  That contenance for a throwe  
1420  He loste, til he mihte knowe  
1421  The sothe: bot in his memoire 
1422  The man which lith in purgatoire 
1423  Desireth noght the hevene more,  
1424  That he ne longeth al so sore 
1425  To wite what him schal betide.
1426  And whan the bordes were aside
1427  And every man was rise aboute,
1428  The king hath weyved al the route,  
1429  And with the Senatour al one  
1430  He spak and preide him of a bone,
1431  To se this Couste, wher sche duelleth      
1432  At hom with him, so as he telleth.  
1433  The Senatour was wel appaied, 
1434  This thing no lengere is delaied,
1435  To se this Couste goth the king; 
1436  And sche was warned of the thing,
1437  And with Heleine forth sche cam  
1438  Ayein the king, and he tho nam
1439  Good hiede, and whan he sih his wif,
1440  Anon with al his hertes lif
1441  He cawhte hire in his arm and kiste.
1442  Was nevere wiht that sih ne wiste
1443  A man that more joie made, 
1444  Wherof thei weren alle glade  
1445  Whiche herde tellen of this chance. 
1446  This king tho with his wif Constance,  
1447  Which hadde a gret part of his wille,  
1448  In Rome for a time stille  
1449  Abod and made him wel at ese: 
1450  Bot so yit cowthe he nevere plese
1451  His wif, that sche him wolde sein
1452  Of hire astat the trowthe plein, 
1453  Of what contre that sche was bore,  
1454  Ne what sche was, and yit therfore  
1455  With al his wit he hath don sieke.  
1456  Thus as they lihe abedde and spieke,
1457  Sche preide him and conseileth bothe,  
1458  That for the worschipe of hem bothe,
1459  So as hire thoghte it were honeste, 
1460  He wolde an honourable feste  
1461  Make, er he wente, in the Cite,  
1462  Wher themperour himself schal be:
1463  He graunteth al that sche him preide.  
1464  Bot as men in that time seide,
1465  This Emperour fro thilke day  
1466  That ferst his dowhter wente away
1467  He was thanne after nevere glad;         
1468  Bot what that eny man him bad 
1469  Of grace for his dowhter sake,
1470  That grace wolde he noght forsake;  
1471  And thus ful gret almesse he dede,  
1472  Wherof sche hadde many a bede.
1473  This Emperour out of the toun 
1474  Withinne a ten mile enviroun, 
1475  Where as it thoghte him for the beste, 
1476  Hath sondry places forto reste;  
1477  And as fortune wolde tho,  
1478  He was duellende at on of tho.
1479  The king Allee forth with thassent  
1480  Of Couste his wif hath thider sent  
1481  Moris his Sone, as he was taght, 
1482  To themperour and he goth straght,  
1483  And in his fader half besoghte,  
1484  As he which his lordschipe soghte,  
1485  That of his hihe worthinesse  
1486  He wolde do so gret meknesse, 
1487  His oghne toun to come and se,
1488  And yive a time in the cite,  
1489  So that his fader mihte him gete 
1490  That he wolde ones with him ete. 
1491  This lord hath granted his requeste;
1492  And whan the dai was of the feste,  
1493  In worschipe of here Emperour 
1494  The king and ek the Senatour  
1495  Forth with here wyves bothe tuo, 
1496  With many a lord and lady mo, 
1497  On horse riden him ayein;  
1498  Til it befell, upon a plein
1499  Thei sihen wher he was comende.  
1500  With that Constance anon preiende
1501  Spak to hir lord that he abyde,  
1502  So that sche mai tofore ryde, 
1503  To ben upon his bienvenue      
1504  The ferste which schal him salue;
1505  And thus after hire lordes graunt
1506  Upon a Mule whyt amblaunt  
1507  Forth with a fewe rod this qweene.  
1508  Thei wondren what sche wolde mene,  
1509  And riden after softe pas; 
1510  Bot whan this ladi come was
1511  To themperour, in his presence
1512  Sche seide alowd in audience, 
1513  "Mi lord, mi fader, wel you be!  
1514  And of this time that I se 
1515  Youre honour and your goode hele,
1516  Which is the helpe of my querele,
1517  I thonke unto the goddes myht."  
1518  For joie his herte was affliht
1519  Of that sche tolde in remembrance;  
1520  And whanne he wiste it was Constance,  
1521  Was nevere fader half so blithe. 
1522  Wepende he keste hire ofte sithe,
1523  So was his herte al overcome; 
1524  For thogh his Moder were come 
1525  Fro deth to lyve out of the grave,  
1526  He mihte nomor wonder have 
1527  Than he hath whan that he hire sih. 
1528  With that hire oghne lord cam nyh
1529  And is to themperour obeied;  
1530  Bot whan the fortune is bewreied,
1531  How that Constance is come aboute,  
1532  So hard an herte was non oute,
1533  That he for pite tho ne wepte.
1534  Arcennus, which hire fond and kepte,
1535  Was thanne glad of that is falle,
1536  So that with joie among hem alle 
1537  Thei riden in at Rome gate.
1538  This Emperour thoghte al to late,
1539  Til that the Pope were come,  
1540  And of the lordes sende some  
1541  To preie him that he wolde haste:
1542  And he cam forth in alle haste,      
1543  And whan that he the tale herde, 
1544  How wonderly this chance ferde,  
1545  He thonketh god of his miracle,  
1546  To whos miht mai be non obstacle:
1547  The king a noble feste hem made, 
1548  And thus thei weren alle glade.  
1549  A parlement, er that thei wente, 
1550  Thei setten unto this entente,
1551  To puten Rome in full espeir  
1552  That Moris was apparant heir  
1553  And scholde abide with hem stille,  
1554  For such was al the londes wille.
1555  Whan every thing was fulli spoke,
1556  Of sorwe and queint was al the smoke,  
1557  Tho tok his leve Allee the king, 
1558  And with full many a riche thing,
1559  Which themperour him hadde yive, 
1560  He goth a glad lif forto live;
1561  For he Constance hath in his hond,  
1562  Which was the confort of his lond.  
1563  For whan that he cam hom ayein,  
1564  Ther is no tunge it mihte sein
1565  What joie was that ilke stounde  
1566  Of that he hath his qweene founde,  
1567  Which ferst was sent of goddes sonde,  
1568  Whan sche was drive upon the Stronde,  
1569  Be whom the misbelieve of Sinne  
1570  Was left, and Cristes feith cam inne
1571  To hem that whilom were blinde.  
1572  Bot he which hindreth every kinde
1573  And for no gold mai be forboght, 
1574  The deth comende er he be soght, 
1575  Tok with this king such aqueintance,
1576  That he with al his retenance 
1577  Ne mihte noght defende his lif;  
1578  And thus he parteth from his wif,
1579  Which thanne made sorwe ynowh.
1580  And therupon hire herte drowh     
1581  To leven Engelond for evere
1582  And go wher that sche hadde levere, 
1583  To Rome, whenne that sche cam:
1584  And thus of al the lond sche nam 
1585  Hir leve, and goth to Rome ayein.
1586  And after that the bokes sein,
1587  She was noght there bot a throwe,
1588  Whan deth of kinde hath overthrowe  
1589  Hir worthi fader, which men seide
1590  That he betwen hire armes deide. 
1591  And afterward the yer suiende 
1592  The god hath mad of hire an ende,
1593  And fro this worldes faierie  
1594  Hath take hire into compaignie.  
1595  Moris hir Sone was corouned,  
1596  Which so ferforth was abandouned 
1597  To Cristes feith, that men him calle
1598  Moris the cristeneste of alle.
1599  And thus the wel meninge of love 
1600  Was ate laste set above;
1601  And so as thou hast herd tofore, 
1602  The false tunges weren lore,  
1603  Whiche upon love wolden lie.  
1604  Forthi touchende of this Envie
1605  Which longeth unto bacbitinge,
1606  Be war thou make no lesinge
1607  In hindringe of an other wiht:
1608  And if thou wolt be tawht ariht  
1609  What meschief bakbitinge doth 
1610  Be other weie, a tale soth 
1611  Now miht thou hiere next suiende,
1612  Which to this vice is acordende. 
1613  In a Cronique, as thou schalt wite, 
1614  A gret ensample I finde write,
1615  Which I schal telle upon this thing.
1616  Philippe of Macedoyne kyng     
1617  Two Sones hadde be his wif,
1618  Whos fame is yit in Grece rif:
1619  Demetrius the ferste brother  
1620  Was hote, and Perses that other.  
1621  Demetrius men seiden tho
1622  The betre knyht was of the tuo,  
1623  To whom the lond was entendant,  
1624  As he which heir was apparant 
1625  To regne after his fader dai: 
1626  Bot that thing which no water mai
1627  Quenche in this world, bot evere brenneth,
1628  Into his brother herte it renneth,  
1629  The proude Envie of that he sih  
1630  His brother scholde clymbe on hih,  
1631  And he to him mot thanne obeie:  
1632  That may he soffre be no weie.
1633  With strengthe dorst he nothing fonde, 
1634  So tok he lesinge upon honde, 
1635  Whan he sih time and spak therto.
1636  For it befell that time so,
1637  His fader grete werres hadde  
1638  With Rome, whiche he streite ladde  
1639  Thurgh mihty hond of his manhode,
1640  As he which hath ynowh knihthode,
1641  And ofte hem hadde sore grieved. 
1642  Bot er the werre were achieved,  
1643  As he was upon ordinance
1644  At hom in Grece, it fell per chance,
1645  Demetrius, which ofte aboute  
1646  Ridende was, stod that time oute,
1647  So that this Perse in his absence,  
1648  Which bar the tunge of pestilence,  
1649  With false wordes whiche he feigneth
1650  Upon his oghne brother pleigneth 
1651  In privete behinde his bak,
1652  And to his fader thus he spak:
1653  "Mi diere fader, I am holde    
1654  Be weie of kinde, as resoun wolde,  
1655  That I fro yow schal nothing hide,  
1656  Which mihte torne in eny side 
1657  Of youre astat into grevance: 
1658  Forthi myn hertes obeissance  
1659  Towardes you I thenke kepe;
1660  For it is good ye take kepe
1661  Upon a thing which is me told.
1662  Mi brother hath ous alle sold 
1663  To hem of Rome, and you also; 
1664  For thanne they behote him so,
1665  That he with hem schal regne in pes.
1666  Thus hath he cast for his encress
1667  That youre astat schal go to noght; 
1668  And this to proeve schal be broght  
1669  So ferforth, that I undertake 
1670  It schal noght wel mow be forsake." 
1671  The king upon this tale ansuerde 
1672  And seide, if this thing which he herde
1673  Be soth and mai be broght to prove, 
1674  "It schal noght be to his behove,
1675  Which so hath schapen ous the werste,  
1676  For he himself schal be the ferste  
1677  That schal be ded, if that I mai."  
1678  Thus afterward upon a dai, 
1679  Whan that Demetrius was come, 
1680  Anon his fader hath him nome, 
1681  And bad unto his brother Perse
1682  That he his tale schal reherse
1683  Of thilke tresoun which he tolde.
1684  And he, which al untrowthe wolde,
1685  Conseileth that so hih a nede 
1686  Be treted wher as it mai spede,  
1687  In comun place of juggement.  
1688  The king therto yaf his assent,  
1689  Demetrius was put in hold, 
1690  Wherof that Perses was bold.    
1691  Thus stod the trowthe under the charge,
1692  And the falshede goth at large,  
1693  Which thurgh beheste hath overcome  
1694  The greteste of the lordes some, 
1695  That privelich of his acord
1696  Thei stonde as witnesse of record:  
1697  The jugge was mad favorable:  
1698  Thus was the lawe deceivable  
1699  So ferforth that the trowthe fond
1700  Rescousse non, and thus the lond 
1701  Forth with the king deceived were.  
1702  The gulteles was dampned there
1703  And deide upon accusement: 
1704  Bot such a fals conspirement, 
1705  Thogh it be prive for a throwe,  
1706  Godd wolde noght it were unknowe;
1707  And that was afterward wel proved
1708  In him which hath the deth controved.  
1709  Of that his brother was so slain 
1710  This Perses was wonder fain,
1711  As he that tho was apparant,  
1712  Upon the Regne and expectant; 
1713  Wherof he wax so proud and vein, 
1714  That he his fader in desdeign 
1715  Hath take and set of non acompte,
1716  As he which thoghte him to surmonte;
1717  That wher he was ferst debonaire,
1718  He was tho rebell and contraire, 
1719  And noght as heir bot as a king  
1720  He tok upon him alle thing 
1721  Of malice and of tirannie  
1722  In contempt of the Regalie,
1723  Livende his fader, and so wroghte,  
1724  That whan the fader him bethoghte
1725  And sih to whether side it drowh,
1726  Anon he wiste well ynowh
1727  How Perse after his false tunge      
1728  Hath so thenvious belle runge,
1729  That he hath slain his oghne brother.  
1730  Wherof as thanne he knew non other, 
1731  Bot sodeinly the jugge he nom,
1732  Which corrupt sat upon the dom,  
1733  In such a wise and hath him pressed,
1734  That he the sothe him hath confessed
1735  Of al that hath be spoke and do. 
1736  Mor sori than the king was tho
1737  Was nevere man upon this Molde,  
1738  And thoghte in certain that he wolde
1739  Vengance take upon this wrong.
1740  Bot thother parti was so strong, 
1741  That for the lawe of no statut
1742  Ther mai no riht ben execut;  
1743  And upon this division  
1744  The lond was torned up so doun:  
1745  Wherof his herte is so distraght,
1746  That he for pure sorwe hath caght
1747  The maladie of which nature
1748  Is queint in every creature.  
1749  And whan this king was passed thus, 
1750  This false tunged Perses 
1751  The regiment hath underfonge. 
1752  Bot ther mai nothing stonde longe
1753  Which is noght upon trowthe grounded;  
1754  For god, which alle thing hath bounded 
1755  And sih the falshod of his guile,
1756  Hath set him bot a litel while,  
1757  That he schal regne upon depos;  
1758  For sodeinliche as he aros 
1759  So sodeinliche doun he fell.  
1760  In thilke time it so befell,  
1761  This newe king of newe Pride  
1762  With strengthe schop him forto ride,
1763  And seide he wolde Rome waste,
1764  Wherof he made a besi haste,      
1765  And hath assembled him an host
1766  In al that evere he mihte most:  
1767  What man that mihte wepne bere
1768  Of alle he wolde non forbere;
1769  So that it mihte noght be nombred,
1770  The folk which after was encombred
1771  Thurgh him, that god wolde overthrowe.