Popular Music Of The Olden Time Vol 1

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38                                                 ENGLISH MINSTRELSY.
Du Fresne in his Glossary (art. Ministrclli), speaking of the King of the Minstrels, says, "His office and power are defined in a French charter of Henry IV., king of England, in the Monasticon Anglicanum, vol. i., p. 355;" but though I have searched through Dugdale's Monasticon, I find no such charter.
In 1402, we find the before-mentioned statute against the Welsh bards, (4 Henry IV., c. 27) .a As they had excited their countrymen to rebellion against the English government, it is not to be wondered (says Percy) that the Act is conceived in terms of the utmost indignation and contempt against this class of men, who .are described as Eymours, Ministralx, which are apparently here used as only synonymous terms to express the Welsh bards, with the usual exuberance of our Acts of Parliament; for if their Ministralx had been mere musicians, they would not have required the vigilance of the English legislature to suppress them. It was their songs, exciting their countrymen to insurrection, which produced " les diseases 'et mischiefs en la terre de Gales."
At the coronation of Henry V., which took place in Westminster Hall (1413), we are told by Thomas de Elmham, that " the number of harpers was exceedingly great; and that the sweet strings of their harps soothed the souls of the guests by their soft melody." He also speaks of the dulcet sounds of the united music of other instruments, in which no discord interrupted the harmony, as "inviting the royal banqueters to the full enjoyment of the festival." (Vit. et. Gest. Henr. V., c. 12, p. 23.) Minstrelsy seems still to have flourished in England, although it had declined so greatly abroad; the Provencals had ceased writing during the preceding century. When Henry was preparing for his great voyage to France in 1415, an express order was given for his minstrels to attend him.(Rymer, ix., 255.) Monstrelet speaks of the English camp resounding with the national music (170) the day preceding the battle of Agincourt, but this must have been before the king " gave the order for silence, which was afterwards strictly observed."
When he entered the City of London in triumph after the battle, the gates and streets were hung with tapestry representing the histories of ancient heroes; and boys with pleasing voices were placed in artificial turrets, singing verses in his praise. But Henry ordered this part of the pageantry to cease, and commanded that for the future no "ditties should be made and sung by Minstrelsb or others," in praise of the recent victory; " for that he would whollie have the praise and thankes altogether given to God."
Nevertheless, among many others, a minstrel-piece soon appeared on' the Seijge of Earflett (Harfleur), and the Battayle of Agynkourte, " evidently," says Warton, " adapted to the harp," and of which he has printed some portions.
It runs In these terms: '' Item, pour eschuir plusieur* diseases et mischiefs qont advenuz devaunt ces heures en la terre de Gales par plusieurs Westoun Rymours, Minstralx et autres Vacabondes, ordeignez est, et estanliz, que nul "VVestour, Rymour Minstral, ne Vaca-bond soit aucunemeut sustenuz en la terre de Gales pur faite kymorthas ou coillage sur la commune poeple ilioeques."
' Hollinshed. quoting from Thomas de Elmham, whose words are, "Quod cantus de suo triumplio fieri, seu per CithaHstat vel alios quoscunque cantari penitus pro-hibebat." It will be observed that Holllnshed translates Citharistas (literally harpers) minstrels."