Vrbanitatis; A Handbook of Manners (MS c. 1460)

VRBANITATIS Of Good Manners
Who-so wylle of nurture lere, 
Herken to me & ye shalle here. 
When thou comeste be-fore a lorde When you come
4 In halle, yn bowre, or at the borde,  before a lord
Hoode or kappe thou of tho take off your hat or hood
Ere thou come hym alle un-to, 
Twyse or thryse with-outen dowte and fall on your
8 To that lorde thou moste lowte, or thrice.  right knee twice
With thy right kne lette hit be do, 
Thy worshyp thou mayst save so.  Keep your cap off
Holde of thy cappe & thy hood also  till you're told to
12 Tylle thou be byden hit on to do;  put it on;
Alle the whyle thou spekest with hym, 
Fayr & lovely holde up thy chynn, hold up your chin;
So aftur the nurtur of the book 
16 In his face lovely thou loke;  look in the lord's face;
Foot & hond thou kepe fulle stylle keep hand and
Fro clawyng or tryppyng, hit ys skylle; foot still;
Fro spettyng & snetyng kepe the also; don't spit or snot;
20 Be privy of voydance, & lette hit go. break wind quietly;
And loke thou be wyse & felle, 
And therto also that thow governe the welle. behave well.
In-to the halle when thou dost wende When you go into
24 Amonge the genteles gode & hende,  the hall,
Prece thou not up to hygh for no thing, don't press up too high
Nor for thy hygh blood, nere for thy konnyng, 
Nothur to sytte, nether to lene, 
28 For hit ys neythur good ne clene. 
Lette not thy contynuance also abate, Don't be shamefaced.
For good nurtur wylle save thy state; 
Fadyr & modyr, what evur they be, 
32 Welle ys the chylde that may the: 
In halle, in chambur, ore where thou gon, Wherever you go
Nurtur & good maners maketh man.  good manners make the man.
To the nexte degre loke thou wysely 
36 To do hem reverence by and by: Reverence your betters,
Do hem no reverens, but sette alle in rowe but treat all equally
But yyf thou the bettur do hym knowe.  whom you don't know.
To the mete when thou art sette, 
40 Fayre & honestly thow ete hyt: 
Fyrste loke that thy handes be clene, See that your hands are clean,
And that Thy knyf be sharpe & kene;  and your knife sharp.
And cutte thy breed & alle thy mete 
44 Right even as thou doste hit ete. 
If thou sytte be a worthyor man 
Then thy self thow art on, 
Suffre hym fyrste to towche the mete  Let worthier men help themselves
48 Ere thy self any ther-of gete;  before you eat,
To the beste morselle thou may not stryke Don't clutch at
Thowgh thou nevur so welle hit lyke.  the best bit.
Also kepe thy hondys fayre & welle Keep your hands
52 Fro fylynge of the towelle, from dirtying the cloth,
Ther-on thou shalt not thy nose wype;  and don't wipe your nose on it,
Nothur at thy mete thy toth thou pyke; 
To depe in thy cuppe thou may not synke or dip too deep in your cup.
56 Thowgh thou have good wylle to drynke, 
Leste thy eyen water there-by, 
Then ys hyt no curtesy. 
Loke yn thy mowth be no mete  Have no meat in your mouth when
64 When thou begynneste to drynke or speke; when you drink or speak.
Also when thou sest any man drynkyng and when your
That taketh hede of thy karpyng neighbour is drinking.
Soone a-non thou sece thy tale, stop talking.
64 Whethur he drynke wyne or Ale. 
Loke also thou skorne no mon  Scorn and
In what degre thou so hym gon; 
Nor thou shalte no mon repreve reprove no man.
68 Yyf thou wylt thy owen worshyp save, 
For suche wordys thou myghth out kaste 
Sholde make the to lyve in evelle reste; 
Close thyn honde yn thy feste, Keep your hands from what would
72 And kepe the welle from hadde-y-wyste. bring you to grief.
In chambur among ladyes bryght, Among ladies,
Kepe thy tonge & spende thy syght; look, don't talk.
Lawghe thou not with no grette cry, Don't laugh loud,
76 Ne Rage thou not with Rybawdry. or riot with ribalds.
Pley thou not but with thy peres; 
Ne telle thou not that thou heres, Don't repeat what you hear.
Nor dyskevere thou not thyn owen dede 
80 For no myrth nor for no mede; 
With fayr speche thou may have thy wylle, Words make or
And with thy speche thou may the spylle.  mar you.
3yf thou suwe a wordyer mon If you follow a worthier man,
84 Then thy self thou art on,  let your right shoulder follow
Lette thy Ryght sholdur folow his bakke, his back, and
For nurtur that ys, with-owten lakke. 
When he doth speke, holde the style; don't speak till
88 When he hath don, say thy wylle; he has done.
Loke yn thy speche thou be felle, Be austere in speech;
And what thou sayste a-vyse the welle; 
And be-refe thou no mon his tale, don't stop any man's tale.
92 Nopur at wyne nere at Ale. 
Now, criste of his grette grace
3eve us alle bothe wytte & space Christ give us all
Welle pis to knowe & Rede, wit to know this,
96 And heven to have for our mede! and heaven as our reward. 
Amen, Amen, so moot hit be, Amen!
So saye we alle for charyte! 
EXPLICIT TRACTUS VRBANITATIS. Here ends the tract of good manners


Text (slightly regularized and some small changes in running commentary) from The Babees Book, ed. Frederick J. Furnivall, EETS 32, 1868, pp. 13-15.