Popular Music Of The Olden Time Vol 1

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that none come unlesse he be desired, and that such as shall come so, holde themselves contented with meate and drynke, and with such curtesie as the maister of the house wyl shewe unto them of his owne good wyll, without their askyng of any thyng. And yf- any one do agaynst this Ordinaunce, at the firste tyme he to lose his Min-strelsie, and at the second tyme to forsweare his craft, and never to be receaved for a Minstrel in any house....Geven at Langley the vi. day of August, in the ix yere of our reigne."—Jlearne's Append, ad Leland Collect., vol. vi., p. 36.
Stow, in his Survey of London, in an estimate of the annual expenses of the Earl of Lancaster about this time, mentions a large disbursement for the liveries of the minstrels. That they received vast quantities of money and costly habiliments from the nobles, we learn from many authorities; and in a poem on the times of Edward II., knights are recommended to adhere to their proper costume lest they be mistaken for minstrels.
" Kny[gh]tes schuld weare clothes               That no man may knowe
I-schape in dewe manere,                        A mynstrel from a knyg[h]t
As his order wo[u] Id aske,                                Well ny :
As wel as schuld a frere [friar] :           So is mekenes[s] fait adown
Now thei beth [are] disgysed,                   And pride aryse an hye."
So diverselych i-digt [bedight],                         Percy Soc, No. 82, p. 23.
That minstrels were usually known by their dress, is shown by the following anecdote', which is related by Stowe:—" When Edward II. this year (1316) solemnized the feast of Pentecost, and sat at tabic in the great hall of "West­minster, attended by the peers of the realm, a certain woman, dressed in the Iwbit of a Minstrel, riding on a great horse, trapped in the Minstrel fashion, entered the hall, and going round the several tables, acting the part of a Minstrel, at length mounted the steps to the royal table, on which she deposited a letter. Having done this, she turned her horse, and, saluting all the company, she departed." The subject of this letter was a remonstrance to the king on the favors heaped by him on his minions to the neglect of his faithful servants. The door-keepers being called, and threatened for admitting such a woman, readily replied, " that it never was the custom of the king's palace to deny admission to Minstrels, especially on such high solemnities and feast days."
On the capital of a column in Beverley Minster, is the inscription, " Thys pillor made the meynstyrls." Five men are thereon represented, four in short coats, reaching to the knee, and one with an overcoat, all having chains round their necks and tolerably large purses. The building is assigned to the reign of Henry VI., 1422 to 1460, when minstrelsy had greatly declined, and it cannot therefore be considered as representing minstrels in the height of their prosperity. They are probably only instrumental performers (with the exception, perhaps, of the lute player) ; but as one holds a pipe and tabor, used only for rustic dances, another a crowd or treble viol, a third what appears to be a bass flute, and a fourth either a treble flute or perhaps that kind of hautboy called a wayght, or wait, and there is no harper among them—I do not suppose any to have been of that class called minstrels of honour, who rode on horseback, with their servants

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III