The Book of the Knight of Latour-Landry

[Prologue: Love of Knight for his wife; how he came to write this book; method of compilation; why he chose to write in prose.]

The text is lightly glossed; see the glossary in the Riverside Chaucer for words not explained here.

Page 1

In the yere of the incarnacion of oure lord M iijC lxxj, as I
was in a garden, al hevy and full of thought, in the shadow,
about the ende of the monthe of April, but a litell I rejoysed
me of the melodye and song of the wilde birddes; they sang
there in her langages, as the thrustil, the thrusshe, the nightinggale,
and other briddes, the whiche were full of mirthe and
joye; and thaire swete songe made my herte to lighten, and
made me to thinke of the time that is passed of my youthe,
how love in gret distresse had holde me, and how I was
in her service many times full of sorugh and gladnesse, as many
lovers ben. But my sorugh was heled, and my service wel ysette and
quitte, for he gave me a fair wiff, and [one] that was bothe faire
and good, whiche had knowleche of alle honoure, alle good, and
faire mainteninge, and of all good she was bell and the floure;
and I delited me so moche in her that I made for her love songges,
balades, rondelles, viralles, and diverse newe thinges in the best
wise that I couthe. But deth, that on all maketh werre, toke
her from me, the whiche hathe made me have many a sorughfull

Page 2

thought and gret hevinesse. Aud so it is more than.xx. yeere
that I have been for her ful of gret sorugh. For a trewe loveres
hert forgeteth never the woman that he hathe truly loved.
And as I was in the saide garden, thinkinge of these thoughts,
I sawe come towardes me my.iij. doughters, of the whiche
I was joyfull, and had grete desire that they shuld turne to
good and worshipe above all erthely thinges, for they were yonge,
and had but tendir witte; and so atte the begynning a man
ought to lerne his doughters with good ensaumples yevinge,
as did the quene Proues of Hongrie, that faire and goodly
chastised and taught her doughters, as it is contened in her
boke. And whanne my doughters come towardes me, I bethought
me of the time when that I yede and rode with my
felawes in Paytov and other diverse places that I had ben
in. And also I bethought and remembered me that my felawes
comened with ladies and gentil-women, the whiche prayed hem
of love, For there was none of them that might finde, lady
or gentill-woman, but they wolde praye her; and yef that
one wolde not entende to that, other wolde anone praye. And
whethir they had good answere or evell, they raught never, for
they had in hem no shame nor drede for the cause they were
so used. And therto they had faire langage and wordes, for in every
place they wolde have hadd her sportes and they might.
And so they dide bothe deceive ladies and gentilwomen, and
bere forthe diverse langages on hem, som trewe and som fals,
of the whiche there come to diverse gret defames and
sclaundres withoute cause and reason. And there is not this
day no gretter treason thanne a gentill woman to yeve her
selff to a traitour fals churle, blamed with vices, for there is
many of hem deceived by the foule and grete fals othes that the
fals men usen to swere to the women; for I have herd my
felawes swere ofte diverse fals othes, and I asked hem why they
forswore hem, saying that they loved everych woman best that -
they spake to. For I saide unto hem, " Sires, ye shulde love,
nor be aboute, to have but one." But what I saide unto hem,
it was never the better. And therfor because I sawe atte

Page 3

that time the governaunce of hem, the whiche I douted, that
time yet regneth, And ther be suche felawes now or worse,
And therfor I purposed to make a litell boke, in the whiche
I wolde write the good condiciones and dedes of ladies and
gentill-women, that for her goodnesse were worshipped, honoured,
praysed, and renomed the time passed, and ever shall be, for
her weldoinge and goodnes, to that entent that my doughtres
shulde take ensaumple of faire continuaunce and good manere.
And also I wol make write the manere contrary of goodnesse,
the whiche is "called the boke of hurtinge of evell women, that
her hathe used to do evell, and had blames," to that entent that
so luste may kepe hem from harme ther they might erre, as they
that yet be blamed, dishonoured, and shamed. & for these
causes aforesaid, I thought to make this litell boke to my yong
doughtres, wherupon they might rede and studie, to that entent
that they might lerne and see bothe good and evell of the
time passed, and for to kepe hem in good clennesse, and from all
evell in time coming. For there be such men that lifeth
and maketh good visage end countenaunce to women afore hem,
that scorneth and mocketh hem in her absence. And therfor
it is harde to knowe the worlde that is now; and ther, for the
reasones that I have saide you, I parted and yede oute of the
garden, and fonde in my way.ij. prestes and.ij. clerkes that
I had. And I said to hem that I wolde make a boke of
ensaumples, for to teche my doughires, that they might understond
how they shulde governe hem, and know good from evell.
And so I made hem extraie me ensaumples of the Bible and
other bokes that I had, as the gestes of kingges, the cronicles
of Fraunce, Grece, of Inglond, and of many other straunge
londes. And I made hem rede me every boke; And ther that
I fonde a good ensaumple, I made extraie it oute. And thanne
I made this boke. But I wolde not sette it in ryme, but in
prose, forto abregge it, and that it might be better and more
pleinly to be understond. And I made this boke for the gret
love that I had to my said doughtres, the whiche I loved as
fader ought to love his child, having hertely joye to finde wayes

Page 4

to stir and turne hem to goodnesse and worshippe, and to love
and serve her creatoure, and to have love of her neighboures
and of the world. And therfor all faders and moders after
good nature ought to teche her children to leve all wrong and
evell wayes, and shew hem the trewe right weye, as wele for the
salvacion of the soule as for the worshipe of the worldely body.
And therfor I have made .ij. bokes, one for my sones, an other
for my doughtres, forto lerne hem to rede. And in reding, it
may not be but that they shall kepe with hem som good ensaumple
forto flee evell and withholde the good. For it shall
not be posible but sumtime they shall have minde on sum
good ensaumple, sum good doctrine of this boke, whanne they
knowe or here speke here-after, as they fall in the rewe upon
sum spekers of suche matiers.


her = their

healed rewarded

conduct flower

virelays (poems)

communed, conversed

and = if

what = whatever


perseverence (in virtue)




along the way

From The Book of the Knight of La Tour-Landry, EETS o.s. 33, London, ed. Thomas Wright (from MS Harley 1764 and Caxton's Print) rev ed. 1903 [Widener 11472.33.3], corrected in few minor details and a very few glosses added.
Back to Geoffrey Chaucer Page | (Or use your browser's back button to return to the previous page.)