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moner, that all the
poor who should assemble every day at his gate, to eat the fragments from the tables, might get some money when the fragments were insufficient. Christine de Pisan relates, that the money which King Charles V. devoted to charity was divided into four portions ; one was for the poor, another for churches, another for poor scholars, the fourth for prisoners beyond sea. « Richard Sans Peur," says William of Jumiège, was of a lofty stature ; his visage was noble, his person finely formed. He was a very pious benefactor to the monks; he assisted poor clerks; he despised the proud, and loved the humble; he supported poor orphans and widows, and redeemed captives." Rambaud de Vaqueiras says to the Marquis de Montferrat, “I have seen you enable more than one hundred maidens to marry counts, marquises, and barons of high rank, without your having been guilty of the least dishonour. More than one hundred knights I have seen you establish by gifts of fiefs ; and I have seen you humble one hundred others ; elevating the good, and abasing the false and wicked. I have seen you relieve and console so many unfortunate people, so many widows and orphans, that they will lead you to Paradise, if by alms one could enter there. Never was a man worthy of grace refused by you on his petition." It is told of the Duke of Calabria, whose memory was so dear to the Neapolitans, when the historian Costanzo wrote, that he had. a large bell placed before the outer gate, the sound of which could not fail to reach his ear, lest the domestics should forbid the entrance of the poor.
Alphonzo, count of Poitiers and Toulouse, was remarkable for his alms. On the Monday and Tuesday of Holy Week, in the year 1267, it appears by a memorandum still preserved, that he gave away in charity 895 livres tournois.3 The Enfemian of the Gesta Romanorum was no unprecedented example, a nobleman in the court of the emperor, whose house is crowded with pilgrims, orphans, and widows, for whom three tables were kept every day. “Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, used to send every year 1000 ducats to the Christians of Jerusalem. He alone of the princes of Europe in that age was eager
I Willelmus Gemeticensis, lib. iv. 19.
to assist the Greeks against their cruel enemy.”! Many a knight, with nothing left but his armour and cloak, has, like St. Martin, divided that cloak with a poor man, after cutting it in two with his sword. Herbrant, in the Book of Heroes, being on the walls with his brother and Wolfdietrich, who begged that he would bestow alms on them and the other pilgrims for the souls of his dead friends, lamented his inability to give them money, but threw down a hauberk, and desired them to sell it in the city. From a height within the castle of the counts of Champagne, in Troyes, was a tower whence the whole city was visible. Here Thibault, à la belle lignée, used to receive two monks every day, who were charged to search out the poor and miserable of the city, and bring their report to him. When they had found no object, he used to shew them the vast city below and say,
Are there indeed no tears to wipe away here? Blessed be God, who protects my people. Then he used to sing a Latin hymn with the monks.2 At Florence there is still the “Buonuomini di San Martino ;” a society of twenty gentlemen, which has been for four hundred years collecting and distributing alms among the poor who are ashamed to beg. rank of these philanthropists,” says a modern English traveller, 3
3 « and their objects of relief, induce the rich to contribute, and sometimes to bequeath very considerable
supplies. All bequests are turned directly into cash ; nothing is funded ; nothing belongs to the society except the oratory where they meet. The receipts every year are distributed within the year to hundreds who are starving under a genteel appearance : decayed gentlemen, whose rank deters others from offering relief ; ladies who live in garrets, and, ashamed of their poverty, steal down to mass before daylight; industrious women, whom the failure of the silk manufacture has left without any resource,—such are the objects whom the Buonuomini visit privately every week, and relieve. They were a kind of benevolent spies upon the domestic miseries of Florence.” - The Misericordia” is an institution diffused over Tuscany. At Florence it consists of four hundred men, chosen promis
1 Barente, Hist. des Ducs de Bourgogne, vii.
cuously from every rank: they volunteer their service to the sick, the wounded, and the dead. On the toll of a bell they repair to their chapel, where they disguise themselves in long black vestments, which cover the whole head; and then they set out with a covered litter, to convey the patients to the Hospital of Santa Maria Nuova. There you will find the first noblemen in Florence, with their aprons and ladles, following the soup, which is wheeled along the wards, and dealing it out to the sick, as a check on the administration of the hospital. In the same lugubrious garb, they convey in the evening the corpses of the day to St. Catherine's church. This society has never paused for the last five hundred years, nor desisted from its fatal duties during several plagues. Leopold was a member, and occasionally assisted in bearing on his shoulders con sollecito amor gli egri e feriti. The poor and humble peasants did not hold themselves exempt from the obligation of exercising this virtue as far as their means would enable them. An English officer relates, that he was overtaken by night and tempest two leagues from Estremos, and that he took refuge in a wretched solitary cottage, where a woman received him with the most cordial welcome. “When we rose in the morning to depart, our good hostess was resolute in refusing any remuneration, though the wretched appearance of her hovel, and the rags on her children, bespoke the extreme of poverty. • No,' said she, “the saints guided you to my threshold, and I thank them. My husband, too, was journeying yesterday; perhaps last night, amidst that thunder-storm, he also knocked at some Christian's door, and found shelter.'”1 Seasons of joy or affliction alike called forth the charity of the great. Thus in Amadis de Gaul, when tidings came of the victory, “for joy thereat Brisena gives great alms to the churches and convents, and to those who were in want."
Vinissauf relates how King Richard and the army of crusaders marched from Ascalon towards Jerusalem : they set out on the Sunday in the octave of the Holy Trinity. They suffered much from heat, and were obliged to move slowly; those that were rich, pitying charitably the suffer
| Recollections of the Peninsula.
ings of the inferior classes, with humility gave up their horses and cattle to the weary, and they who were young and hearty walked on foot after them, and this amidst the pomp of floating banners, shining helmets, glittering shields, figures of lions and golden dragons, horses that spurned the ground, and a multitude of warlike youths. Tirante the White, in the space of two days, liberates from the Moors 473 Christian slaves, spending for their ransom all his gold and silver and jewels, and conducts them to Rhodes, where he gives them clothes and entertainment. Returning to real history, it is said of Boucicaut, “Il a telle devotion à faire bien aux pauvres, et telle pitié a de eulx, que il fait enquerir diligemment ou il y ait pauvres mesnaigers, vieulx et impotens, ou chargez d'enfans, ou pauvres pucelles à marier, ou femmes gisans ou veufoes, ou orphelins, et la secretement tres-largement envoye de ses biens. Et ainsi par luy sont soustenus maints pauvres. Et à tout dire, jamais ne fault à nul qui luy demande pour l'amour de Dieu. Et quand il chevauche dehors, volontiers donne l'ausmosne de sa main.” The castles of chivalry had no forbidding or terrible aspect to the poor :
No surly porter stands in guilty state
With many a tale repays the nightly bed. Thibaud, count of Blois, who was a great benefactor to the order of Prémontré, not having been able to persuade St. Bernard to allow some of his monks to reside at his court, chose two monks of Prémontré to visit the poor of his neighbourhood, and to distribute among them provisions from his own table. Henry the First, count of Champagne, besides building many churches, and enriching many religious houses, founded thirteen hospitals for
A poor knight once begging him in the name of God to give him sufficient to get his two daughters married, the Sieur de Nogent, in whom Henry confided, repulsed him, and said that the count had given so much, that he had no more to bestow; which Henry overhearing, he turned in anger, and said, Sire, villain, you have no
I Lib. v. c. 48.
right to say that I have given all, and have no more to bestow.” Henry, mareschal of France, is thus described in the Chronicles of St. Denis :-" Digne homme de louenge par toutes choses en chevalerie, et estoit bon et loyal, et redoubtoit Dieu sur toute.” As he lay on his death-bed, he was told that King Philip had gained a great victory, “dont luy preudhomme eut si grant joye, qu'il donna son destrier sur quoy il souloit chevaucher au messagier qui luy avoit apporte les novelles. Car aultre chose n'avoit plus a donner : car il avoit ja departé quant qu'il avoit pour l'amour de nostre Seigneur et pour le remede de son ame comme celluy qui est certain de sa
James Amiot, the son of a shoemaker at Melun, having run away when a boy from his father's house, mistook his road, and fell sick upon the highway. A gentleman passing by had compassion on him, and setting him on the saddle before him, he conveyed him to Orleans, where he placed him in the hospital. Upon his recovery, which soon followed, he was dismissed with a present of twelve sous.
At a subsequent period, when grand Almoner of France, and Bishop of Auxerre, he settled twelve hundred crowns upon this hospital, in memory of his own fortune. Now here might have been only an act of general charity; but did not the simple form in which it was dispensed, render it also one of particular obedience ? “Go and do thou likewise.”
Knights were taught that the corporal works of mercy were, "to feed the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to redeem the captive, to visit the sick, to harbour pilgrims, to bury the dead ; and that the spiritual were, to correct sinners, to teach the ignorant, to give good counsel to them that are in doubt, to pray to God for the welfare of their neighbour, to comfort the sorrowful, to bear injuries patiently, to forgive offences."
Touching almes," says the persone in Chaucer, “ take kepe that a man hath nede of these thynges generally; he hath nede of food, of clothing, and of herberow; he hath nede of charitable counseilling, and visiting in prison, and in maladie, and sepulture of his ded body. And if thou maiest not visit the nedeful in prison in thy person, visit
1 Hist. des Comtes de Champagne, lib. ii. 38.