Historical Memoranda of John Stowe: The manner of making Knights of the Bath

Three Fifteenth-Century Chronicles with Historical Memoranda by John Stowe. Originally published by Camden Society, London, 1880.

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, 'Historical Memoranda of John Stowe: The manner of making Knights of the Bath', in Three Fifteenth-Century Chronicles with Historical Memoranda by John Stowe, (London, 1880) pp. 106-113. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/camden-record-soc/vol28/pp106-113 [accessed 23 May 2024].

. "Historical Memoranda of John Stowe: The manner of making Knights of the Bath", in Three Fifteenth-Century Chronicles with Historical Memoranda by John Stowe, (London, 1880) 106-113. British History Online, accessed May 23, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/camden-record-soc/vol28/pp106-113.

. "Historical Memoranda of John Stowe: The manner of making Knights of the Bath", Three Fifteenth-Century Chronicles with Historical Memoranda by John Stowe, (London, 1880). 106-113. British History Online. Web. 23 May 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/camden-record-soc/vol28/pp106-113.

The maner of makynge Knyghtes aftar ye custome of England in tyme of peace, and at the cornoacion, that is to say, Knyghtes of the Bathe.

When an esquier commythe in to courte for to receyve ye order of knyghthode in tyme of peace, after ye custome of England, he shalbe worshipfully receyvyd of ye offycers of the cowrte, as of ye stywarde or chamberleyn, yf they be present, and ellys of ye marshall and usshers, in ye absence of ye stwwarde and chamberlyne. And then ther shalbe ordeyned ij worshipffull esquyers, wise and well noryshid in curtesye, and experte in ye dedes of knyghthode, and they shalbe govowrnowrs to hym to serve and ordeyn what shall longe to hym for the tyme. And in case that the esquire come before dyner he shall serve the kynge of water, or of a dyshe onely of the fyrst course. And that is do to take leve of service of esquires. Then his governowrs shall lede hym in to his chamber with owten eny more to be sene that daye; and at even the governowrs shall sende aftar the barbowr, and he shall make redy a bathe in the best wyse that he kan, the fatt with in and with owt wrapped with lynnyn colthe clene and white, and coveryd with thikke carpites for colde of the nyght. Then shall the esquers berd be shave and his hede rounded; which done ye governonwrs shall goo unto ye kynge and to hym say thus: " Moaste myghtye prynce, owr soverayne lorde, lo it wexithe nere unto the eve, and owr maystor is redy unto the bathe when it pleasythe yowr royall majestye. " And uppon that the kynge shall commaund his chamberleyne to go unto the esquiers chamber that is to be made knyght, and to take with hym the moste worthy and wityeste knyghtes that bene then present to thentent that they shall the same esquier trewly councell, enforme, and teache wysely of ye order of knyghthode. And so with that othar yonge esquiers of the howsholde with mynstrells syngynge and daunsyng shall go be fore the chamberleyn and ye sayd knyghtes unto the tyme that they come unto the chambre dore of ye said esquier that is to be made knyght. When the govornowrs herythe noyse of mynstvills. anon they shall make naked theyr master, and all nakyd shalbe put in to the bathe. The mynstrells be fore the entrie of the chamberleyne and other noble knyghtes shall abyde and be styll with owtyn noyse, to gyder with the sayde esquires levynge theyr noyse for the tyme; which thynge done the chamberlyne with ye sayd noble knyghtes shall enter privelye with owten noyse in to the chamber of the seyd esquire; and when they enter everyche to othar shall than do reverence and worshype whiche of them shalbe the fyrst for to counsell ye esquier in the bathe of ye order and ye makynge to performe ye kyngs commaundement. And whan they bene accordyd than shall ye fyrst goo in to the bathe, and there he shall knele be fore ye bathe, sayenge secretely to ye esquier thus: " Ryght dere broder, great worshype be this order unto yow. Allmyghty God gyve yow ye preysynge of knyghthod, lo this that order be ye stronge," &c. (fn. 1) Whan the esquire is councellyd the same knyght counselour shall take in his hond watar of ye bathe, and shall put it uppon ye shulders of ye esquiers and take his leve to go and departe. And the governowrs at all tymes shall keppe ye sydes of ye bathe. In this wyse shall all the orders of knyghtes aforesaye do everiche aftar othar in the best wyse that they can, and this done the knyghtes with owt noyse shall go owte of the chamber for the tyme; then shall theyr govornors take their maister owt of the bathe and laye hym saftlie in his bed to drie. And ye bede shall not be of great valewe, but with owtyn cowlowrs and curtyns. And when ye esquier is well dryed he shall ryse owt of his bed, and shall clothe hym warme for the wache of the nyght. And uppon all his clothes he shall have a cope of blakke russet with longe sleves, and the hode sewyd unto ye coppe in maner of an heremyte. The esquier thus arrayed and made redye, ye barbar shall put awaye ye bathe; and all thynge that is abowt ye bathe, also well with owt as with in, the barbowr shall take all for his fee. And all so he shall have for his shavynge lyke as it foloythe here afftar. That is to wete, yf he be a duke, an erle, as baronne, or a bachelowr, aftar ye custome everiche shall have after his estate, and principally yf judgement be requiryd it shalbe then at ye will of ye kyngs majestie. After this ye governors shall open the dore of ye chamber, and ye knyghtis shall entar in agayne with mynsteryles playnge in ther instrumentes and esquiers before them syngynge and daunsynge shall lede the esquier in to the chapell. Ther shalbe ordenyd spicis and wyne for ye knyghtes and esquiers; whiche thyng done, the governours shall lede thies knyghtes aforne thes squeres (fn. 2) for to take there leve, and he with silence shall thanke them of their labours and worshypes that they have done unto hym. In that wyse they shall goo owt of ye chapell, the governours shall shitte the dore till ye downynge wex clere and ye daye come, and ther shall abyde none in ye chapell, but y esquier governours, and ye wayte his chaplyne chaundeler. In this wyse shal ye esquier all nyght tyll it be day abude ever in his prayers praynge and besechyng Almyghty God and ye blesyd Virgyn Marie his moder that thylke passynge temporall dignyte he may receve to his worshipe and praysynge of God and ye blessyd Virgyn Marie his moder, holy churche and the order of knyghthode. And when ye dawnynge comythe he shall have a prest an be confessyd if it will lyke hym of his synns and trespas; whiche thynge done he shall have his mattyns and masse and be comynt yf he will. After his entre in to ye chapell he shall evar more have a serge or a tapir of wax brenynge afore hyme. And when masse is begonnen, on of ye governours shall holde a taper brenynge afore hym unto the tyme of ye gospell be begonne, and then he shall be take it unto his maister whiche shalle holde it in his hands tyll ye gospell be endyd, allwaye his hede beynge coveryd; and at ye end of ye gospell the governowr shall reseyve the taper agayne and putt it afore his maister unto thend of the masse. And at ye levacion of the sacrament one of ye govornowrs shall put of the hode of his mainster, and aff[t]ar ye syght of ye sacrement he shall do it on agayne tyll In principio be begunne; and then one of his governours shall put of his hode and make hym stonde and holde ye sayd taper in his honde, havynge in ye sayde taper stikynge a peny nye to the light; and when ye priste saythe Verbum caro factum est he shall knele downe and offer ye taper and ye peny to ye worshipe of God, and ye peny to ye worshipe of hym that shall make hym knyght. Thes thynges done, ye govowrnors shall lede hym agayne in to his chamber and lay hym agayne in his bede till it be forthe dayes. And there shall he take ye rest that ye wache of ye nyght made wery. So than ye bedde shall be amendyd and refresshed before ye tyme that his mastar wake, that is to wete with covertwr of clothe of golde callyd seclecon; (fn. 3) and that shall be lynyd with carde. And when they se tyme thay shall goo to ye kynge and sayne to hyme thus: "Most victoriws prince, when that it lykythe unto yowre mayestie, owr maister shall a wake." And ther uppon ye kynge shall commaund ye knyghties squere to wake hym, arraye hym selffe. But before ye comynge of ye knyghts in to ye esquirers chambre ye govowrnors shall ordegne all manar necessaries redie by ordre for to be delyvered unto ye knyghtes. And when thes knyghtes be commen unto theyr chambre they shall enter softlye with owt eny noyse and say to ye esquier, "Ser, good daye, it is tyme to aryse." And with that ye govornowrs shall take and arayse hym uppe by ye armes. Than ye moaste worthy and moste wyse knyght shalk take to hym his sherte, and other next worthye his breche, ye third his dowblett, ye fowrthe shall clothe hym with a gowne of redd tarteryn; othar ij shall lyfte hum owt of his bedd; othar ij shall doo on his hossyn, whiche shall be of blake sylke or blake clothe, wher of ye sowlls shall be of blake lethar sowyd to them; ij shall boten his sleves; one othar shall girde hym with a gyrdle of white ledar with owt hernys of eny mettall and ye brede of an ynche; an othar shall kembe his hedd; an othar shall gyve hym his mantylle, of ye sewite of ye kyrtyll of rede tarteryn fastenyd with a lace of white silke, with a payre of whit gloves hangynge at ye ende of ye lace, but he shall have of the chaundeler of ye howsholde ye corse girdill and ye gloves, and on ytotharsyde ye chaundelar shall take for his fee all yegarments and all ye arraye with all ye necessaries in ye which ye esquyre was arrayd and clothid that day he enteryd into ye courte for to take ye ordre, togedre with ye bedd in ye whiche he laye first after yebathe, as well ye clothe of golde called secleton as ye other necessaries towchnge ye sayd bedd; and, this fully done, this wyse knyghts shall lede this esquiere on horse bake unto ye kynge hall, at all tymes ye mynstrells beynge before, makynge theyre mynstrellsye. Ther horse shall be arrayed in this wyse; he shall have a sadell coveryd with balke leder, ye arsons of whit tree fowre sqware, and blake stiroppes with gylde irons, and his sadell shall have no cropar but a paytryll of gilt patee before, hangynge uppon ye brest of ye horse, his bridle shall be blake lethar plyane, with longe reynes in ye guyse of Spayne, and a crosse patent in ye forhede. And ther shall be ordaynyd a yonge gentyll esquier for to ride before this esquiere that is to be made knyght. And he shall be open hede, and shall bere ye swere of ye esquireye poynt downwarde, with sporrs hangynge uppoon ye swerd, and ye swerd shall have a white scabard and frett with ye gerdle nad scales, with whit ledar, with owt eny herenesse, and ye yonge gentill esquiere shall holde ye swerde by the poynt. In this wyse they shall ride to ye kyngs hall, all tymes ye sayd governors beynge redye to ye maystar as it is fittinge to be. And the forsayd noble and wyse knyghtes shall soberlye lede this esquire as they awen. And when ye esquier commythe before ye hall dore, ye marshalls and usshers shall be redye afore hym in ye moste honest wise that they can, saynge thus, "Come downe." And than he shall come downe. The marshall for his fee shall take ye hors, or CCs This thyng so done, these wise knyghts shall lede ye esquier in to ye hall or in to ye great chambre unto his table, and forthe with he shall be put at the begynynge of ye second table tyll that ye kynge come, the sayd knyghtes abowght his person as one on every syde, and ye yonge squiere swerd berar before hym, standynge with ye swerde betwixt ye ij govournowrs aforesayd. When ye kynge comythe in to ye hall and perseyvythe ye esquer redy to take ye ordre in dwe wyse he askythe for ye swerde and ye spurs. ye kynges chamberleyne shall take ye swerde and ye spurrs owt of ye handes of ye yonge squiere, and shall take and shewe hym unto ye kynge. The kynge shall receyve ye ryght spure and betake it unto one of ye most worthy that standyth abowte, comaoundynge hum that he put it on ye ryght hele ofye esquier, and by ye kyngs commaundement that lorde knelynge on ye one kne shall take ye ryght legg and putte ye foote uppon his kne, and shall putte ye spurr apon his helle, and he shall make a crosse uppon ye kne of ye esquer and shall kysse it. Then shall an othar lorde putt uppon that othar hele an othar spurr on ye same wysse that ye other dyd; then ye kynge of ye mekenese of his hieghe myght takynge ye esquier lyft upp his armys on hieghe, and ye kynge shall putte his armys aboute ye neke of yeesquier, and lyftynge upp his right hand he shall smyte ye esequier in ye in yenekke syange thus, "Be ye a good knyght,"Kyssynge hym. Afterwarde these noble and wyse knyghtes afore seyde this newe knyght shall lede in to ye chapell as it is to fore wnto ye hyghe awtar, and ther he shall unknyte hym and his swerde with prayers and devocions shall offer to God and to Holy Churche moste devowtly, beschynge God that thilke ordre moste worthy dewlie he may kepe unto his ende. Thes thyngs so done he shall take a sope in wyne. And in ye goynge owte of ye chapell ye master coke shall be redy to do of his spwrrs, and shall take them to hym for his fee; and ye reson is this, that in casse that ye knyght do afftar eny thynge that be defame or reproffe unto ye ordre of knyghthode, the master coke then with a gret knyfe, with whiche he dressethe his messes, shall smyt of his spurrs frome his heles; and therefore in remembrunce of this thynge ye spurrs of a new knyght in ordre takynge shall be fee unto ye master coke perteynynge dwely unto his office. Than shall this wyse knyghtes afore sayde lede this newe knyght in to ye hall agayne, the whiche beginynge ye table of knyghtes shall syt ot mete; and ye sayde noble and wyse knyghts shall sett abowte hym at ye table, and ye noble knyghts shall be servyd lyke as other bene; and as for that tyme he shall not ete nor drynke at ye table but yf grete nede be, nor he shall not meve hym, nor loke hidre or thedar more than a wyfe newe weddyd; and evarmore one of his ij govornowrs shall stand by hym with a kerchyffe, of ye whiche, yf eny nede come, he may serve hym. And whan ye kynge arrysythe from ye table and goythe in to ye chamber ye kynge arrysythe from ye table and with greate myltytwde of knyghtes, squires, and mynstrells yonge syngeynge and dawnsynge in to ye entre of his chambre. And there ye knyghtes, esquires, and mynstrills shall take thare leve, and ye newe knyght shall go to eate, the dore shall be closyd, and he shall do of his arraye, whiche shall be gyven to ye kyngs of armes; and also ye sayd kynges nd haurawds shall have thoffice of armes of every duke, erle, baron, and bachiler aftar thayr estates, and at ye leste xxs for theyr honors to shew them in ye kyngs presence and in ye sayd cowrte, ye graye cope shall be unto ye wayte or a noble for it. And aftat this mete this noble new knyght anon shall be arayed with a robe of blewe with streyght sleves, and he shall have uppon ye lefte shwldar a whit lace of sylke hangynge, and that lace he shall kepe in ys wyse above his clothynge with owt forthe frome that daye hensforthe contynewally unto that tyme he gete sum manor of worshype by desrvynge by wytnes of worthye knyghtes and squeres of armes and hereawdes dewlye afftarward reportyd; whiche reporte mouste enter in to ye earys of ye worthy prince whiche hathe made hym knyght, or of some odar, or ellys of some noble lady, for to take awaye ye lace frome ye shulder, sayenge thus: "Ryght dere lorde, I have herde so moche of yowr worshyppe and renowne that ye have done in dyvers partes unto ye grete worshype of knyghthofe to yowr selffe and to hym that made yow knyght, that deserfe and ryght wyll that this lace be put and take awaye." But aftar dynar ye worshipfull and worthy knyghts and esquiers shall come afore ye sayd newe knyght, and hym shall lede to ye kyngs presnece, all tymes beynge before him ye sayd esquirs, govornors. And when ye new knyght comythe in to ye pressence of ye kynge he shall knele before ye kynge and shall say thus: "Moste drede and moste myghty prynce, of my lytyll powre of that that I may I thanke yow of all ye worshypes, curtesies, godenesse, whiche ye have doen unto me;" and this sayde he shall take leve of ye kyngs commaundement we have servyd yow, and that commaundement fulfyllyd and parfwrmyd to owr powe. amd what we have done in yowr service ayene yowr reverence we praye yow of yowr grace for to pardon us of owr neglygence. Fortharmore of ye custome of ye kynges cowrt we aske and reqwere you of robes and fees to the terme of owr lyffe covenable to ye kyngs esquirers, felowes to ye knyghtes of othar lands," &c.


[Note.—This article seems to have been transcribed by Stowe from the Cottonian MS. Nero C. ix. 168b., from which it has already been printed by Anstis in his Observations Introducory, Coll. No. 88, and by Nicolas in his History of the Order of the Bath, pp. 12–26. It is on the whole a very accurate transcript. The speech addressed to the esequire at p. 107 is, however, abbreviated, the passage standing in the original as follows:—

seynge secretly to the squyer thus:—"Right dere brother, greate worshipe be this ordre un to yow; and Almyghty God geve yow the praysynge of all knyghthod. Lo, this is the ordre. Be ye stronge in the feith of Holy Cherche, and wydows and maydones oppressed releve as right commaundith. Yeve ye to everych his owne with all thy mynde above all thynge. Love and drede God. And above all other erthly thinges love the Kynge they soverayn lord, hym and his defende unto thy powere. And be fore all worldly thynges putte hym in worshipp and thynges that be not to be taken beware to begynne." In this wyse or better, &c. And when the knyght is thus counselled (&c. as above, Stowe having corected the word "knyght" here into "esquire.")]


  • 1. See note at the end of this article, p. 113
  • 2. Should be "the squire."
  • 3. Spelled Siglyton here in the Cottonian original, and afterwards Siglaton.