Olaus Magnus, A Description of the Northern Peoples, 1555: Volume II 0904180581, 9780904180589

The Swedish scholar and prelate, Olaus Magnus (1490-1557), last Catholic archbishop of Uppsala, lived the latter half of

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Olaus Magnus, A Description of the Northern Peoples, 1555: Volume II
 0904180581, 9780904180589

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Olaus Magnus, A Description of the Northern Peoples, 1555 Volume II

Edited by P.G. Foote

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the publisher. Published by Ashgate Publishing Limited Ashgate Publishing Company Wey Court East Suite 420 Union Road 101 Cherry Street Farnham Burlington Surrey, GU9 7PT VT 05401-4405 England USA www.ashgate.com Founded in 1846, the Hakluyt Society seeks to advance knowledge and education by the publication of scholarly editions of primary records of voyages, travels and other geographical material. In partnership with Ashgate, and using print-on-demand and e-book technology, the Society has made re-available all 290 volumes comprised in Series I and Series II of its publications in both print and digital editions. For a complete listing of titles and more information about these series, visit www.ashgate.com/hakluyt, and for information about the Hakluyt Society visit www.hakluyt.com.

ISBN 978-0-904180-58-9 (hbk) ISBN 978-1-4094-3371-2 (ebk)

Transfered to Digital Printing 2010




NO. 187

HAKLUYT SOCIETY Council and Officers 1997-1998 PRESIDENT Mrs Sarah Tyacke CB VICE PRESIDENTS Professor D. B. Quinn HON. FBA Professor C. E Beckingham FBA Sir Harold Smedley KCMG MBE Lt Cdr A. C. E David M. E Strachan CBE FRSE Professor P. E. H. Hair Professor Glyndwr Williams Professor John B. Hattendorf COUNCIL (with date of election) Professor Robin Law (1993) Dr John Appleby (1995) James McDermott (1996) Peter Barber (1995) Rear Admiral R. O. Morris CB Dr Andrew Cook (1997) (1996) Dr Damaso de Lario (Co-opted) Royal Geographical Society Stephen Easton (Co-opted) (Dr J. H. Hemming CMG) Francis C. Herbert (1996) Mrs Ann Shirley (1994) Bruce Hunter (1997) Dr John Smedley (1996) Professor Wendy James (1995) TRUSTEES Sir Geoffrey Ellerton CMG MBE H. H. L. Smith

G. H. Webb CMG QBE Professor Glyndwr Williams

HONORARY TREASURER David Darbyshire FCA HONORARY SECRETARY Anthony Payne c/o Bernard Quaritch Ltd, 5-8 Lower John Street, Golden Square, London W1R 4AU HONORARY SERIES EDITOR Dr W. F. Ryan Warburg Institute, University of London, Woburn Square, London WC1H OAB INTERNATIONAL REPRESENTATIVES Ms Maura O'Connor, Curator of Maps, National Library of Australia, Canberra, ACT 2601 Dr Joyce Lorimer, Department of History, Wilfred Laurier University, Canada: Waterloo, Ontario, N2L 3C5 New Zealand: J. E. Traue, Department of Librarianship, Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600, Wellington Professor Alexei V. Postnikov, Institute of the History of Science and Russia: Technology, Russian Academy of Sciences, 1/5 Staropanskii per., Moscow 103012 Dr E R. Bradlow, 28/29 Porter House, Belmont Road, Rondebosch, Cape South Africa: 7700 Dr Norman Fiering, The John Carter Brown Library, Box 1894, ProviUSA: dence, Rhode Island Q2912and Professor Norman Thrower, Department of Geography, UCLA, 405 Hilgard Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90024-1698 Western Europe: Paul Putz, 54 rue Albert 1,1117 Luxembourg, Luxembourg


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OLAUS MAGNUS Historia de Gentibus Septentrionallbus Romw 1555

Description of the Northern Peoples Rome 1555 VOLUME II


Edited by PETER FOOTE with Annotation derived from the Commentary by tJOHN GKANLUND

abridged m& augmented


Published by the HaMuyt Society cfo The. Map Library British Library, 96 Euston Road, London NW12BD EDITOR W. P. RYAN

© me HaMuyt Society 19m ISBN 0904180 581 ISSN 0072 §396 British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for f Ms book is amiable from the British Library

T|rpesei by Waveney TJ^esettera, W^cndfcin, Norfolk Printed in Gieat Britain at the University Press, Cambridge


289 312


317 343

Book Eight Notes

349 398

Book Nine

409 463

Note! Book Eleven

475 514 521

573 582 610 Book Thirteen Notes

617 670

Book Fourteen


look Fifteen


716 725





HE hardy, indomitable race of northern warriors who live in the orebearing mountains of Svealand and Gotaland may justifiably be compared to the giants and champions because of their remarkable fierceness of mind and body, their boldness, and also the extremely harsh occupations in which they engage. In a survey of northern matters they deserve to have their place immediately after those giants and champions, but to precede the group who are to be treated next, because of the different kinds of weapons used by these two classes of men. For this reason I shall not keep to the arrangement and plan of other writers, and must introduce something here on the subject of minerals; hence a basis may be obtained which will enable me to set out with greater clarity the conflicts that will follow.1 The mountains, then, are high, but for the most part barren and bare; almost nothing is produced in them for the benefit and preservation of those who dwell there except a limitless supply of valuable metals.2 So these folk are rich enough, well-stocked in all the necessaries of life, and perhaps, if they so wish, even able to obtain from elsewhere commodities over and above their needs, certainly to such an extent that they may offer a united and vigorous defence against any violent attack on these gifts of Nature.3 For they are a fierce race of men who will yield to none of the severities of war, whether these be from any harshness of the elements or from the threats of the foe, as must be described later when I write of wars on land. A foreign witness, Albert Krantz, relates in full how gallantly and spiritedly those men called Dalecarlians, marching in line, are accustomed to menace their enemy, when he tells of the great and marvellous feats accomplished in wars waged against the kings of Denmark, especially Christian I and King Hans.4 Indeed, even King Christian II himself admits with what force and fury he 289


was thrust out of the kingdoms of Sweden and Gotaland when King Gustav led that people in 1521,5 and acknowledges that he had been the victim of the worst possible advice in his ill-fated attempt. The dreadful, monstrous cruelty which was committed during his reign in the lands of the North will be set out with complete accuracy in its proper place below according to my own eye-witness report; for I seem to have been preserved to see such fearful sights among my own people.6


On mines and how they are discovered Mines

Revenue of the treasury Signs by which mines are to be found



HE mines in northern lands are very numerous, big, varied, and rich. Because huge numbers of them are sited in valleys and mountains, many of the tunnels often follow closely adjacent courses. They are large, too, being inexhaustible and spacious, and are found both in Upper Sweden and in Gotaland, and in the parts of Varmland near the Norwegian borders. Again they are varied because they yield silver, copper, steel, and the choicest iron, 1 and they are also rich, as I shall describe later, since a good part of the king's revenue or tribute will be drawn from mines of this kind.2 Although there is a vast number of such mountains and mines in the realms I have mentioned, Nature gives indicative signs whereby fresh mines are always presenting themselves to the prospectors, especially where the mountains are rounded at the summit and in this navel or rounded part are not split or broken up, and where the snow in winter melts because of the sulphurous reek. But if the mountains are struck by lightning at the peak or side or foot, they display veins of silver glittering in the clefts,3 enticing avaricious folk and firing them more and more with an insatiable fever of greed. Regardless of danger, they hollow out the rocks and penetrate into the bowels of the mountain, where the internal veins appear similar to the separate organs in a man's body, some running upwards, some downwards, some to the left, others to the right. The minerals associated with them are the more brilliant, the purer the stone or marble with which they have come into




being. The lines of ore which by nature point towards the west and project Signs of the farther out towards the south and north are very rich and valuable,4 for the best appearance of these veins is exactly like that of men in glittering armour minerals properly drawn up in their ranks. The pleasure this gives, added to its usefulness, affords no little comfort to those who toil at them and to their owners.


Where veins of minerals lie


URTHERMORE, lodes which run together from the east and south towards the north-west are said to be more excellent, but this is not so with those that lead towards other points of the compass. For in the lands beneath the North Pole there is a quicker composition of metals under the influence of the rising and the noonday sun. There are also some veins which are called 'hanging', others 'lying'. The hanging veins form a covering as they run from above. The lying ones are embedded in flat places and gain enlargement and goodness from the way they issue from the earth.1 There are also veins that slant upwards and downwards, deriving from all the others I have mentioned, as Seneca tells us in Bk III of his Investigations of Nature. He says that just as there exist in us not only blood but many kinds of fluids, some indeed that are essential, but others tainted and thick, such as the marrow in bones, the brains in the head, and tears in the eyes, so in the earth there are many liquids which quickly harden. Hence comes all metal-producing earth, from which the greed of men seeks gold and silver. But, just as in our bodies, so also in the earth the fluids often conceive imperfections, when either a blow or some tremor of the ground, old age, cold, or heat has blighted Nature.2 Meanwhile, however, with countless perils and deaths an entrance is provided to the very entrails of the mountains (where Pluto dwells), work, that is, for giants and mighty men, as Pliny reckons in Bk XXXIII. For after driving galleries for long distances they busy themselves by lamplight with their benighted vigils and exertions, all for the sake of riches, and are overcome by a wretched mishap, some by rocks, some by gas and smoke in the middle of their toil, or the cables break and they are smothered amid the caverns. Thus they give proof to others that it would have been less rash for divers to seek pearls among sea-monsters in the depths of the ocean than for these labourers to extract minerals.3 Some miners, too, when the vaulted ceilings or pit props collapse and the rock masses cave in, either perish there and 291

Lodes running from the east

Veins Hanging Lying Slanting veins Seneca Similarity of fluids to minerals Greed

Supposed dwelling of Pluto

They are smothered


then or, if no help is forthcoming, waste away and die, as I shall make clear in a following chapter.


On the excavation of minerals


Riches deep down

Gold is guarded with steel

Wonderful inventions of avarice

Crystal vessels

OWEVER, adapting themselves to these perilous conditions, the miners who search for metals, fearful of such dangers but not routed by them, leave frequent arches to hold up the rock and set up wooden props from the sides of the mountains inwards, to ensure their own safety. They rely on the doubtful stability of these, but they have contrived yet another method: those who intend to hack out metals or select lodes of silver let themselves down on ropes among rocks where they cannot walk; afterwards they apply their skill to these minerals and clear them out with fire and water. 1 When they see that this is a barren quest and wasted labour - since it appears that rarely or never is a profitable search for the richest ore made in the crust or surface layer - they resort to a more substantial device and set up pillars within the mountain sides, with vaulting far stronger than the supports they used earlier.2 They do this in the firm belief that nowhere but inside the deeper hollows of the mountain and at the very lowest depth should one look for wealth, guided by certain clever signs. There, smelted by Nature, the metals, silver especially and copper, are more frequently dug out and in greater plenty. However, according to Strabo, there is a saying, 'Many more people snatch at gold, or silver, or both, if they have been refined, than dig them out in their raw state, even if these metals are caged inside a thousand bars and guarded by griffins or Scythian ants.'3 Again, in another proverb we have: 'Gold that is seized must be guarded with steel.'4 Consequently, according to Pliny, the life of man would be harmless and blessed, not to say luxurious, even if he gained from it only what he desired above ground, and possessed only what is to hand,5 as is seen related above in the passage about the bartering of necessities.6 But so many strange and wonderful inventions were formerly devised by avarice, that the wastage of gold and silver, which were everywhere abundant, was clearly far deeper, higher, and broader than the feeble inclination of the present age could search out or, so far as it wished, imitate in the vanity of individual men. 7Is it not to be condemned as empty folly to invite Nature to the incitement of vices, to engrave lustful pictures on goblets, and drink from obscene shapes? Then, when gold and silver induce disgust, to buy at an even higher price vessels of crystal that will, because they are so brittle, at once be destroyed if they are dropped, and




therefore cost more? Finally to fashion drinking vessels of emerald, in order to become intoxicated and at length to strip men of reason and render them senseless and womanish?7


On the differences among veins of metal


EINS, or shafts, or any ownership of metals is specifically distinguished and apportioned by certain marks put up on the mountains by their finders, either referring to the circumstances, or to their natural situation and character; for they have been found with a wonderful regularity and (whether through the wrath or favour of the Deity is unknown) are still found every day. 1 First by the violence of thunderbolts and of the whirlwinds that consume trees, glittering lumps of silver are revealed; next the summits of mountains, when scraped with spades, expose shining veins of silver below the ground. These the prudent peasant covers there and then with dung, being content with his untroubled farm rather than wanting a silver mine that presents itself to him of its own accord; though he realizes that with this he could improve his own living and that of his offspring. For the peasant is uneasy and fears that the nobleman or the treasury, whoever owns the farm, will, once the silver mine has been detected, wish to remove him from the land for the sake of greater profit, so that there may be no more farming where there is an abundant mine of silver. This is why he prefers the productiveness of his fields, as I have said. Time was when for this reason both the fields and the silver mines which came to light there were abandoned, and today, too, they are concealed as carefully as can be. So much harm has been done by the insatiable greed of our rulers that, where there were once six hundred shafts or mines of iron, copper, or silver, at the present day one sees hardly three hundred left for the benefit of the public. It is superfluous to list here the names of these mines, when the people who live there are notably saddened by the recollection that their fate has come to such a pass that they dare attempt nothing against the force of the powers that be.2 Strabo records as much in Bk IV, about the Salassi, who bordered 293

Divisions of mountains and the reasons for them Finding of materials

Life of peasants safer

Silver mines are concealed

Salassian people

OLAUS MAGNUS: DESCRIPTION OF THE NORTHERN PEOPLES Unity Dissension Liberty more precious than gold Lingones

on the Helvetii. They had gold diggings more productive than they are now, and, when they were sufficiently powerful and united, held these in safety, having the right to control access to them. At length they were weakened by internal dissension and handed over their gold and, what is even more precious, their liberty to the management of greedy Roman officials, whereupon they were plunged into contemptible poverty and slavery.3 Strabo testifies at the end of the same book that the very same thing happened among the Lingones, that is the people of Lorraine, saying that at that time all the gold mines were in the power of the Romans:4 or rather the gold and riches of the whole world fell at a simple word of command into their hands, because of their unfathomable genius and intelligence.5


On wheels, tools, and dangers of the workmen N this last picture can be seen a very high wheel, or hauling machine, being rotated or revolved by men or draught-animals walking round in it. Apart from that, men are seen firmly seated upon ropes and descending into the depths, and in return vessels, or buckets, full of ore or water are being lifted up.1 All this indicates, as everyone knows, the method of procedure which miners of metal adhere to and which is applied to their work through necessity: these draught-animals, horses, that is to say, and huge bears,2 are allotted by turns or side by side to rotate the wheels when greater weights are to be raised or let down, and when the minerals that must be lifted could not be brought out more easily from the cavities at the bottom by means of galleries or ladders. The miners continually undergo such hard, heavy labours, above and below ground, for they are a very tough breed of men and are for the most part fetched together there for certain crimes under a bill of outlawry. They live in that place only through the protection of the sovereign; otherwise, once they had exchanged homeland for exile, they would never regain the right to return to their own possessions.3 However, these workers observe the laws and obligations that obtain in the mountains and through these they are kept in check by very strict regulations from inflicting harm on anyone, even though they are prone to take sudden part in riots, insurrections, manslaughter, and a thousand other outrages. Otherwise there is no peril or catastrophe which they fear to undergo. These may beset them among tumbling fragments of rock, amid the beams set within the sides of the mountains to shore them up, in the deadly vapour and stench of the minerals, or from the oppressiveness of the confined air. As a result they are very


Way to lift ore

Miners Outlaws

Laws of the mountains


many different clauses Workers unfrightened



frequently overcome by horrible deaths. For when they work impulsively, with more speed than caution, if the props break and the rocks fall, they are either battered to pieces at once or, as I said before, in a few days they are suffocated, emitting frightful cries because of the torments of hunger.4 When no aid is forthcoming to drag them out alive, a single burial inscription indicates the cause of the disaster and the number of casualties, whether it be thirty, sixty, a hundred, or more. Nevertheless the other miners retain their unquelled vitality, being hardly daunted at all by these or similar terrifying sights. For, even if they are lightly tapped with hammers, colossal rock-faces of incalculable weight will collapse in ruins.

They are suffocated Memorial to those overwhelmed Vitality unquelled


On the skill and ingenuity of smiths


N many kingdoms and provinces of the North, men generally hold smiths in extraordinary esteem, whether blacksmiths, founders, or metal-turners, particularly among the mountain-dwellers of Dalecarlia, an unconquerable race of fighters; though in the northern part of Halsingland, which was once honoured with the title of kingdom because of its splendid feats, can be found craftsmen so skilled and industrious in the functions of a smith that they hardly have their equals in that entire zone. For by the skilful disposition of waterwheels they know how to draw out raw, shapeless materials to a considerable length owing to the rich substance of these metals. So, by means of the mobility and driving force of such gear, some enormous piece of work is brought to a finish in a short space of time, not to mention ordinary vessels of expanded copper and iron tools. These people frequently gain no small profit from this kind of manufacture, as also from iron doors, window shutters, and trelliswork, which are joined1 together so strongly that they cannot come apart, so that one hardly sees their like in the whole of Europe. The chapel of St Andrew, placed by order of Pope Julius III in the Via Flaminia, has iron gratings, and the splendid building of the Lords Mattei at Rome, over near the public square, contains reticulated ironwork which is beautiful and strong.2 But were the work done according to the fashion of the master295



Usefulness of wheels


OLAUS MAGNUS: DESCRIPTION OF THE NORTHERN PEOPLES smiths of the North, it would be even more amazing and, if it were to be seen, would bring a great many people to marvel at it. Iron instruments such as handcuffs, spiked fetters, etc. for torturing culprits or suspects are never, or very seldom, made here, but together with Detestable merchandise other rather disagreeable goods are brought into the kingdom for profit's sake by German traders. One specimen among these is given the ancient Virgin, name of'the Virgin'. This is attached to the fingers and crushes them so hard bringer of pain that at the first application unbearable anguish results. The name is pretty enough but the instrument, put to the proof, causes severer agony than anything a person must suffer in any kind of disaster. Let magistrates and interpreters of the various laws consider and pronounce the names and nature of Interpreters of the laws offences or suspicions for which this 'Virgin' should be employed, if there is any need, since it is no concern of mine to report the reason for torturing or its methods, when so many distresses and causes of lamentation have arisen among all conditions of men within the kingdoms of the North that it is hardly fitting to set foreign tortures beside them. It is right, however, for me to introduce one instance that deserves compassion: there are some leaders Lutherans of the Lutheran faction on the shore of the Baltic Sea3 who so love and counthe cruellest inventors of tenance men who are skilled in torturing with iron instruments never seen tortures before, that they deplore the fact that they were so long ignorant of the use of such frightful and monstrous torment inflicted on other creatures. When the mind shrinks from picturing what these instruments are like, how much Horror bids more does the hand shrink from describing such revolting tortures, when the author be silent more atrocious torments cannot be invented or displayed in hell itself.


On the different processes in casting metals



N the mountains that are very rich in ore the same metalworkers of the North have another method of smelting and working silver, copper1 and iron, which is notable for the useful and convenient process whereby each metal may be reduced with ease to a mass all of its own kind. When silver is smelted, it needs hollow kilns and clear fires, as being one of the 296


more precious metals; then, once it has melted into a soft fluid and rectangular or round ducts are inserted underneath it, it may be drawn out into the various shapes designated by the workmen. Now the silver which flows out in this way is mostly made into shapes like ordinary tables or square seats, or Shapes of silver else like soldiers' shields, and this is done chiefly with the idea that the king's castings magnificent wealth and that of his realm should be proved both to the natives and to the spokesmen of great princes, to whom such massive pieces of silver are presented.2 But copper is smelted in longish kilns built up of clay and slag, and bound Copper together with iron wire and ropes. These have a great number of bellows suspended on various sides to kindle a hotter fire, and the molten metal is poured out into different shapes, very massy, without the use of ducts but by means of a trench dug in the earth. Yet there is a far easier and quicker way, when the winds blow violently in under the fire; by this means an exceedingly w°nds more great heat is kept up and the metal strewn in the midst of the flames is effesorisbrot, literally 'fractures of the (king's) oath', were offences which, as long as they were unpunished, meant that the king was not abiding by the oath he had sworn on his accession. The section of the laws devoted to them includes rape of virgins but not the other crimes listed by OM; these come under other heads. In the text and marginal rubric OM's form for the Sw. term is 'edzoere'. 2 A Latin translation of Magnus Eriksson's National Law, made by Ragvald Ingemundsson in 1481, has such an arrangement in fifteen books. According to an account published in 1615, St Birgitta's house in Rome (where OM lived) possessed 'duo ... exempla Suecarum Legum', one of them furnished with notes by Hans Brask (1464-1538, bishop of Linkoping 1513, lived in Poland from 1527), who was in Rome, with interruptions, from 1499 to 1504, and in charge of St Birgitta's house in the latter part of his stay. 3 OM may be thinking of Christian II who was supported by his brother-in-law, Emperor Charles V; possibly of Valdemar the Great of Denmark who was forced to do homage to Frederick Barbarossa in 1162; see Saxo, 16, III (tr. Christiansen, p. 606). 4 See OM 2:21. 5 Psalm 18:5 (AV 19:4), also quoted in Romans 10:18. The translation follows the Book of Common Prayer version, which is closer than the AV to the Vulgate. 6 Gregory VII, Registrum, VII11. Cf. further OM 16:39. Vratislav is Wladislaus in OM. OM 14:23

1 This sentence is from Cassiodorus, Var., Ill 36; other phrasing in OM's text is reminiscent of the same source. 2 An allusion to Job 31:13-14. OM 14:24

1 This paragraph is derived with some modification from the so-called 'rules for judges'. The rules, known in various forms, are found as a supplement in a number of medieval Swedish law texts. Cf. KL, XXI, cols 141-3. 2 These oaths correspond to forms known elsewhere, in Latin in a Danish source, for example, and in Swedish in several manuscripts. Cf. KL, III, col. 504; Beckman, Studieri outgivna fomsvenska handskrifter, p. 120. OM 14:25

1 Compurgation was in ancient use among Germanic peoples. In the cases envisaged by OM the compurgation process would follow from an order handed down by the court before which the case had been heard. 2 Weidmestadius must be the German scholar, Johannes Albertus Widmanstadt (born towards 1500, died c. 1558), best known as an orientalist (hence 'expert in three 722


languages', Latin, Greek, Hebrew - the humanist ideal). He came to Italy in 1529 and returned to Germany in the mid-1530s. At the end of the decade he was back on a mission to Rome. We do not know where he met JM. Early in 1538 JM and OM went from Rome to Vicenza and they could conceivably have travelled by way of Perugia, but the fact that the document was found in that city does not necessarily mean it was put into JM's hands there. OM seems to imply that it was written in runes. 3 The source of this article of law is not known. 4 Cf. other 'proofs' in OM 2:24 and 12:12. The words OM refers to are those listed in his Vocabula at the end of the Historia (not included in the present volumes, cf. Introd., p. Ixiv). OM 14:26

The vignette illustrates the chapter. 1 Alluding to Proverbs 30:18-19, where in the text followed by OM the fourth thing too wonderful for the writer to know is 'viam viri in adulescentia'. The preferred Vulgate reading is 'viam viri in adulescentula', correctly rendered in the AV as 'the way of a man with a maid'. 2 Latinplagiarii, 'kidnappers', are presumably the same asplagiatores, primarily used of men who instigated the escape of slaves. OM seems to know it in a developed sense of'corrupter (of youth?, cf. OM 16:2), organizer of crime'. OM 14:27 'Cf. Isaiah 49:15. OM 14:28

1 Verbatim from Franciscus Patricius, De institutione, IV 6 (fol. 66). The verse is Lucretius, De rerum natura, I 936-42. Readings restored here from the original are: 'Labrorum' for 'Laborum', and 'Sed potius tali pacto recreata valescat' for 'Sed potius tali tacturae creata palescat'.


This page has been left blank intentionally



^ ARENTS who want to test the talents of their children and find out the direction in which their natural impulses carry them will very frequently watch to see if they have a propensity for this or that occupation and, while directing them without guile, will ascertain the activities and useful duties they should set them to, so that they may be brought up for the good of the state. As Cicero testifies in Bk V of his work on happiness and distress, the power of human intellect has been engendered by Nature in such a way that it seems created with the faculty of assuming every excellence; so, even at a tender age, children are influenced by the concepts of virtues without being taught, since they bear the seeds of these within them. They therefore wish to make a present to others of what they possess in abundance and for that reason bestow goodness on their peers. They also observe actions carried out in the home, where they carefully try to learn more and make many prudent enquiries. Besides this, they ask the names of those they move among, so that, when they contend with others who are a match for them, they may either win and rejoice in their triumph1 or, if beaten, may feel shame and reinstate themselves by hard work and more assiduous practice. 2In such a contest the best sign of a good aptitude is an appearance of noble modesty rather than of frightened pallor. This is why foresighted parents take care to question their sons about which skills or studies they would prefer to devote themselves to, so that they can foster their professional and natural talents,2 from which a citizen or student may be reared to be of the best use to the powers of heaven, his parents, and his



Tendency of children must be scrutinized

Great power of Nature Concepts of virtues

Winners rejoice Modesty good Both professional and natural talents should be praised


masters. But in the North, since sons see their elders in no occupations except those of the soldier and farmer, the model they follow is more commonly that of arms than of letters.3


On boys' training exercises

Exercises of boys and young men Bread is given only to one who hits the target

Predatory beasts Skill of boys

Arbalest Ten arrows are discharged from bow at once

OW to prevent boys and young men among the Gotar being allowed to become listless through sloth and idleness, or to pass the early years of their adolescence in godforsaken pursuits, it has always been a firm custom to train them from tender years in various exercises, and particularly to keep them engaged in military practices.1 According to the abilities of his age each must devote himself attentively to archery, in such a way, that is, that boys are not even allowed bread unless their arrow has first hit the target which has been carefully set up by the instructors, as Strabo records in a similar instance of slingers among the Spanish in Bk III.2 No penalty is inflicted on older men, because in their rivalry they strive in turn to outdo each other by every means through the perfection of their skill. Their main object is to be able to kill the voracious animals which never cease their fierce attacks upon them and to defend their own and their country's freedom by this art. So you can find boys of little more than twelve years old who have been taught to be such expert archers that, when they are told to transfix with a shaft the head, breast, or feet of tiny birds set up at a great distance, they hit them without fail; and old men who have retained their sharpness of vision can do just as well. An unusual instance of this is quoted by Saxo, the Danish historian, about a certain old man, the bow of whose arbalest had such a huge extension that he could fit ten arrows at a time to the string. These were discharged simultaneously at an enemy with so powerful a shot that they inflicted an equal number of wounds.3 This feat brings to mind Periclymenus,4 the son of Neleus, who had the power, as Ovid says,


granted by Neptune, father of Neleus' line, to take what arrows he wished and put them back.5 726



More on the same topic r * iHAT conscientious writer on German affairs, Franciscus Irenicus, I also cites the peoples of the North as having justly deserved the name JL of bowmen from the earliest times, and says it is their habit to dip the Points points of their arrows in poison. Jordanes also states this, as does Silius Itali- dipped in venom cus: As in the warlike regions of the Getic land, the Dacian delights to whet his darts with his country's venom. Ovid, too, has the same thing in his Tristia: Pierced by barbed arrows, some of them fall in agony, for the stain of poison is on their winged points. With regard to Ovid's statement about barbed arrows, our own age vouches for the same practice, as does Plutarch also in his Life ofMarius, when he explains that the Cimbri used a missile with three points, as I related at greater length above in the chapter concerning different kinds of arms in Bk VII. Moreover Procopius states in Bk II that the Goths and Massagetae are highly skilled archers, and that they always exert a greater force in shooting from a distance, 1 especially when they discharge their arrows high into the air, so that with the weight of the iron missile and its accelerated flight as it falls they inflict more serious wounds.2 But this has been explained more particularly in its own chapter above; the present chapter is merely concerned to demonstrate the early training of boys instructed in this art, by showing some examples of their exercises. Apart from this I must touch on Nazarius Mamertinus, who assured Diocletian that the Bohemians were the best archers,3 and mention that the history of the Scots has a record of King James I, who, when he was on the throne in 1425, ordered his subjects, with strict laws and under severe penalties, to maintain their skill in archery.4 Suetonius also records that the Emperor Domitian was a highly proficient archer. Likewise, as my dearest brother Johannes, archbishop of Uppsala, tells in his History, Stenkil, king of Sweden, was an extremely skilful bowman.5


Cimbri used a threepointed missile Goths and Massagetae

Early training of boys Bohemians the best archers James I, king of Scotland




On unique instances of this art Domitian


Am relies on his triple arrows

Old man of Biarmia


have it on the authority of Suetonius that Domitian, whom I have just mentioned, was such an accomplished shot that sometimes, when a boy stood some way off and offered the extended palm of his right hand as a target, all the arrows passed harmlessly between his fingers.1 Aster was no less eminent in this activity, the citizen commended by Solinus for discharging an arrow from inside the town and with it putting out the right eye of Philip, Alexander the Great's father.2 3There was also a man named Ani nicknamed 'the Archer', who was very swift in dispatching arrows. When he saw an opponent's bow bent and aimed at him, he relied on three successive arrows to anticipate the other's shot. The first cut the top of his foe's bowstring, the following one drove into the middle of his fingers, and the third hit the arrow already fitted to the cord;3 by no means, then, did he come short of Domitian. With his bow taut he knew how to regulate the flight of his arrows just as he pleased. There was also an old man of Biarmia who lived in the farthest land beneath the Arctic Pole. He was so skilled in this art that, when he had drawn that very powerful crossbow of his, he fitted ten arrows to the string and was unerringly able to hit an enemy or anyone he wished.4 Nor has small praise of Darius been left to posterity, for his epitaph shows him to have been an exceedingly good archer and hunter.5




Still more instances of this skill from abroad


HE Gotar have always been very keen in their use of missiles, and no other nation has ever been taught to shoot large, broad arrows with better skill. With the hard points of these bolts they can pierce shields and penetrate helmets and cuirasses in battle just as though they were unarmoured bodies. Nothing else has ever been more destructive to their enemies. 1 There are still many Gotar in this age of ours who are so well versed in the constant practice of archery that if an apple, however small, is set on top of a stick at a certain distance, they hit it with their point at the first venture. 2When a certain Toki, with more boldness than safety, guaranteed that he would do this, the wicked Harald ordered Toki's son to be stood there in place of a stick, with an apple balanced on his head. If the boaster did not strike off the fruit with his arrow at the first attempt, he was to pay the penalty for his vain promise with his own head. In this tight situation Tbki cast about for some expedient to rid his son of fear. He turned the boy's face away from him, not wanting him to be frightened by the sight of the weapon, and warned him to listen to the whine of the approaching arrow with ears held level and without turning his head, maintaining the greatest possible calm lest by a slight movement of his body he should frustrate such a proof of his father's very effective skill. He then drew three arrows from his quiver. The first that he put to his string lodged in the intended target. If fate had allowed the young lad's head to be in the way of this dart, the son's death would doubtless have recoiled to put his father in peril, and the arrow's flight astray would have united in death the shooter with the boy he had shot. When Toki was asked by the king why he had drawn several arrows from his quiver when he had only needed to try the luck of his bow once, he replied, 'So that a miss with the first could be avenged on you with the points of the others, in case my innocence should suffer punishment and your cruel ferocity escape without penalty.'2


Very keen use of missiles Force of arrows

Apple Toki

Face turned away

Three arrows

Frank answer



On the same subject1


AXO records, moreover, that one Einar, a Norwegian, who was endowed with great strength of body and skill as an archer, was accustomed to aim a bolt with such great power from a certain amazing bow that nothing, however hard, could stop the missile in its swift flight from passing right through any object in its path. If it struck a ship's mast, its own impetus made a way for it through the timber. In the same manner, though the king's shield barred its route, it penetrated a plank of the ship and hardly One man reached the end of its momentum even among the waves. So by himself he assails the foe more inflicted more damage on the enemy than did the whole band of his comdamagingly rades; his shot was so accurate that he hit whatever he attacked. The result than the rest Sven, king of was that King Sven, terrified by this marvel of a bow, felt more dread of one Denmark limb of wood than of the whole fleet of the enemy. Since, then, he perceived that his only remedy lay in destroying it, he commanded those who were possessed of that skill to assail not so much the bowman as the instrument with which he plied his facility in archery, for he desired to smash the good fortune of the bow and fight the battle in greater safety. As picked men vied with each other in showering their missiles during the fray, one of their arrows happened to drive into the bow and so robbed the Crack of the master-archer of his talent and the foe of victory. As the crack when it splintaut bow tered sounded far and wide, Olaf, astonished, asked what it was that had Einar been shattered. Einar answered, 'Reckon Norway snapped off from you!' For he thought that more strength lay in his bow than in the whole army, and with the terse wit of his reply implied what the issue of the battle would be. It turned out just as he had foretold, for the breaking of the bow presaged the Norwegian calamity that followed, whereupon Olaf immediately leaped headlong into the deep under the whole weight of his armour. Einar, a Norwegian




On high targets that must be hit with arrows


T is part of the normal way of life among the Northerners and countless other nations, including their neighbours across the sea, 1 that at the beginning of the summer all marksmen, from both city and country, should assemble on high days and holidays upon some level ground especially appointed for the purpose, and display every form of skill in shooting for all to see and appraise.2 They are allowed to do this with metal firearms, crossbows, or longbows, but abiding by the rule that with such weapons and bullets they must hit the targets set up on the plain. Those handling very powerful crossbows fitted with blunt arrows try to dislodge and bring to the ground a target resembling a parrot, perched very high on an iron rod and turning this way and that. When this has been done, the superintendent of the contest joyfully pays respect to the most skilful in that art with a handsome reward and grants him an exceptional privilege which permits him to live alongside the leading citizens. The others, too, they keep together and maintain with fitting generosity, according to each one's excellence in his art.3 The chief reason for this is that, in the event of a siege attack, they may with their exceptional skill and the expenditure of a few arrows kill the enemy leader, and so expediently ward off the ravaging and enslavement of the homeland, as in an earlier chapter we heard that the townsman Aster put out Philip's right eye.4 In a similar way many leaders among the Gotar, and indeed in all other parts of the world, have in the past been removed by arrow-shot during sieges, and quite lately some have quickly died simply by being shot in the head, some with their teeth torn away, some with eyes dug out, and some with their throats cut through; so too, even boys who were knowledgeable in this practice have taken the lives of great princes with bronze cannon. There are memories of this happening in earlier years outside Stockholm in Sweden and recently at Groningen in Frisia.5


Sport of marksmen Firearms and steel bows

Means of raising a siege Aster put out Alexander's father's eye

Stockholm Groningen



On instances from abroad1 Emperor Commodus Parthian archers Circuit of arena

Unerring missile

Kept running with heads shorn off He killed 100 lions

Commodus destroyed by poison

HE prowess in archery of the Emperor Commodus, in war or at public entertainments, is quite clear from Herodian, Bk I; according to this writer, his hand was so sure that he hit whatever he aimed at with a javelin or arrow. He had constantly with him picked Parthian archers and Numidian javelin-throwers, and yet he far excelled all of them in dexterity. At public shows he would run round the circumference of the arena, pursuing and attacking deer, antelope, and other horned creatures (apart from bulls), and, overtaking them as they fled, would lay them low by hitting them unerringly. Lions, certainly, panthers, and other noble beasts of that kind he would so transfix with javelins that no one ever saw him throw a second weapon or inflict a wound that was not fatal. So sure was his hand that any missile he launched never missed. This same individual once shot arrows with filed-down points2 at Mauretanian ostriches, birds which move very swiftly with the speed of their feet and by using their wings as though they were sails, so that his arrows struck at the top of the neck and cut off their heads. Such was the striking power of the missile that, even with their necks severed, they nevertheless kept running for a while as though they were still living. A panther, too, that was about to tear in pieces a man who had been brought into the arena, he finished off with so timely a wound that, by killing the beast, he saved the man's life, checking the bite of those sharp teeth with the very tip of his javelin. He also killed every one of a hundred lions with the same number of javelins, after they had been brought out of their enclosure. The carcases lay in such regular rows that it was quite easy to count them one by one and see that no superfluous missile had hit any of them. None the less this Commodus, commodious to no one, was at last exterminated by poison.3





On the ceremony of driving out winter and welcoming summer


HEN from the beginning of October till the end of April the northern populations have one and all cheerfully undergone very rough winters, extremely long nights, harsh gales, frost, snow, darkness, storms, immeasurable cold, and all the other changes of the cruel elements, as though these were comforts bestowed upon them, then those remote peoples celebrate in various ways. 1 In fact it is their habit, and principally the custom of those who live towards the Arctic Pole, to welcome the returning radiance of the sun with special dances. Dwellers in the higher mountainous regions redouble their revelries by feasting one another, rejoicing because more abundant hunting and more plentiful fishing are again at hand. But the Southern Swedes and the Gotar, who are many provinces distant from the Pole, hold a different ceremony.2 On the first of May, when the sun is passing through Taurus, the magistrates of the cities commission two squadrons, or cohorts, of riders, consisting of tough young men who make a show as if they are about to advance to some hard battle. Of these the one is commanded by a leader appointed by lot; he bears the name and costume of Winter and, clad in various pelts and armed with pokers,3 scattering snowballs and chunks of ice to prolong the cold, he rides about as if he has won a victory. He pretends and acts as if he is all the less yielding because icicles can still be seen hanging outside the heated cabins.4 The leader of the troop of riders on the other side, representing summer, is called Count Floral. He is garbed in the green boughs of trees, together with leaves and flowers, which have been found with difficulty, and wears summery clothes that afford little protection. Like Duke Winter, he comes into the city from the countryside, though each from a different place and with different arrangements. Contesting with their lances, they give a public entertainment to demonstrate that summer overcomes winter.


Nature of seasons in the North

Returning sun is welcomed with dances

Ceremony of Northerners to put winter to flight

Leader Winter

Leader representing summer Count Flora!

Summer the conqueror



On the same subject

Bitter winter wind

Flowers grown artificially

Nature is cheated

Winter yields to Summer

Two statues


INCE, then, each side eagerly desires to conquer, the one which seems to borrow strength from the mildness or harshness of the weather on that day presses upon the other with greater force. If after they have ended their jousting a bitter winter wind is still blowing chill, the person who represents winter takes hot ashes mingled with burning sparks of fire from pots or other containers and rides round flinging them at those who are watching. 1 Similarly, those who follow him in his troop and have the same kind of clothing and equipment gallop about hurling fireballs at the spectators. Now in case the man who personifies summer, along with his cohort of riders, should be deprived of his desired embellishment because green branches or flowers are not to be had, he wears birch leaves or lime twigs which have long before been ingeniously made to grow green by watering them inside warm buildings. These, borne out secretly but carried back openly, he now displays, as though they were brought from the forest. When this happens, the champions of winter attack more violently, because Nature has been cheated and they will not let victory be gained by fraud or a peaceful procession end the affair. However, the favourable opinion of the bystanders, who refuse to tolerate any longer the harsh reign of Winter, confirms the result by a just and proper decision, and to everyone's joy the victory is awarded to Summer. The latter completes his conquest by providing a splendid banquet for his companions, and validates with liquor what he could hardly have gained with lances. Do not think that this ceremony lacks a parallel abroad. Herodotus affirms in Bk II that a certain Rhampsinitus, a king of Egypt, in order to perpetuate his memory, left two statues, twentyfive cubits in height, opposite the western forecourt of the temple of Vulcan. Of these statues the one that looks towards the north the Egyptians call Summer, and the one that faces the south they call Winter, thus putting them back to front.2




On festivals of greenery1


INALLY, when all the forests, meadows, and plains are green and flowering, when the sun is moving through Cancer, that is, on the vigil of the feast of St John the Baptist, a day which in olden times they kept with wonderful celebrations and gave their descendants clear directions to observe with festive reverence, the whole people, of both sexes and all ages, regularly gather in crowds in the public open spaces of cities, or on a flat stretch of ground in the fields, and everywhere light great fires for round dances and skipping dances. They repeatedly sing and simulate in dancing the glorious feats of ancient heroes, performed at home, abroad, or anywhere in the world, and also the deeds which famous women, to gain everlasting praise, accomplished from a desire to preserve their chastity. Moreover, in traditional ballads, to the accompaniment of harps and pipes played alternately, they unfold the actions of idle, degenerate noblemen, cruel oppressors, and crude women who have cast out virtue. Besides this, girls, forewarned by their mothers' instruction, disclose to the sound of stringed instruments all the great vices that married men indulge in: dicing, tavern brawls, gaudy clothes, familiarity with buffoons, and perpetual drunkenness and hangovers. On the other hand, the cleverer young men know how to sing songs about how sluggish, deceitful, uncontrollable, quarrelsome, tattling, trifling, and treacherous women are, so that these may not be alone in having complaints to taunt husbands with.2 Next they expose, with a variety of songs and musical instruments, the tricks perpetrated by faithless citizens, wily craftsmen, roving traders, snoring seamen, untrustworthy country folk, cunning traitors, sweet-tongued flatterers, and the grasping cruelty of district governors. They are chiefly moved to this with the idea that tender youth may realize how exalted and glorious a virtue it is, worthy of unending praise, to follow in the footsteps of good people, to recoil from the wicked, and to be wary through the examples of others.


Midsummer dayofSt John the Baptist

Lays are sung about heroes

Cruel oppressors Husbands' vices Women's vices Common vices

Virtue exalted



On preventing filthy ditties Filthy ditties and gestures are forbidden

Women never expose themselves naked for show Sect of Diogenes

Plato forbids filthy songs Disreputable pictures are forbidden Praiseworthy decision of people of Gdansk

Those dancing naked, of either sex, are flogged and banished Jacob Campen, merchant of Gdansk

UTIFUL parents, however, take particular care to prevent their children learning filthy ditties or displaying lewd bodily gestures which might damage the innocent by means of a thousand temptations. 1 It cannot, of course, be denied that amid such a throng some Hymen may jump up, since it is his custom as the son of Venus and Bacchus to make music as a matter of duty at weddings and by marriage beds and provoke ribald, bawdy thoughts and acts.2 But no woman, disdaining natural modesty through the acclaim of the crowd at her shameful behaviour or in some place of concealment, has ever been seen or heard exposing herself to be stared at.3 The cynic sect of Diogenes is resisted by a sense of decency and has nowhere found a place among the peoples of the North. This school of thought St Augustine and other eminent writers affirm was brought in, with all its impurity and loathsomeness, by the heathenism of the Romans.4 Perottus, too, in his Commentaries, I do not know how prudently, brings several instances of it to the attention of his readers. Plato's criticism, also, in Bk II of his Laws should not have been despised; here, under a set penalty, he forbids filthy songs to be sung and disreputable pictures to be displayed, as I related above in the chapter on maskers and disguisers.5 I shall be allowed, nevertheless, to report here one incident which gives eternal credit to the royal city of Gdansk, which lies in the north of Prussia.6 About the year of Our Lord 1530 certain profligate merchants, seven in number, made audacious by the permissiveness of Lutheranism, with as many harlots, whose sexual parts were uncovered, tried to perform a dance which they called Adam and Eve, introduced by some of the most filthy cavortings. During the very prelude they were arrested by order of the magistrate and, at the statue which had seen so much public degradation, they were flogged with the harshest ropes and the hardest rods. They were stripped of all their goods, expelled from their property, led out of the city gate attended by hangmen, and banished for ever. The house they inhabited was levelled with the ground and an additional law was passed that no one should ever live there at any time. This land and house belonged to a very well-known merchant, named Jacob Campen; he approved the judgment of the magistrate, and I have often looked at that spot with him.





On games of dice and chess


INCE there is nothing more difficult in human affairs than to understand by what judgments men's minds and inclinations are guided, or to discern clearly how one can control the emotions of those who are sunk in every kind of pleasure or misery, it is a custom among the more distinguished Gotar and Swedes, when they are about to give their daughters in honourable marriage, to test the suitors' temperaments for their outstanding characteristics and passions, especially by playing chess. 1 It is a game in which anger, affection, impudence, greed, sloth, and cowardice are generally demonstrated, together with many other dispositions to folly, shifts of mind, the influence of fortune, and personal traits. For instance, the father will discover whether a suitor's nature is uncultivated, because when he gains a sudden advantage he boasts indiscriminately, or whether, if he suffers insults, he knows how to bear them circumspectly or discreetly parry them. As for the pleasure of drinking, people think that there is none more suitable than this as a test for laying bare the hidden secrets of the heart and the vices of their bodies. When someone has been drinking, as Plato confirms in the Laws, he first becomes more cheerful than before; next, the more he takes, the more he is filled with higher, stronger hopes for himself, and, on top of that, with the power to achieve them, or so he thinks. Lastly, as if he knew it all, this man swells with a self-confidence, freedom from restraint, and boldness that allow him to say and do whatever he pleases without fear. In the end he acts in such a way as to give plain and easy indications of how his future life will take its course.2


Probing the human heart most difficult

Minds of men are tested by playing chess Testing of suitors

Stages of drinkers



On the same subject Tokens for joining in matrimony

Evils from perverse gambling

Loss of time

Archbishop of Florence repented Ferdinand, king of Aragon, drove out dicers


HEN they have observed these tokens, wise parents make more careful arrangements concerning their beloved children's proposed marriages, to decide on a suitor's acceptance or rejection. There cannot fail to be some suspicion that from reprehensible gaming of any sort, whether chess, or gambling with cards or dice,1 the way may lead to the wasting of property and livelihood that have taken a long time to acquire, and may even result in the sale of a man's freedom. Cornelius Tacitus and Beroaldus have recorded that dicing is practised with the most unflagging persistence, accompanied by blasphemy and many hundreds of curses.2 Priests of the Church must not flatter themselves that the game of chess has apparently been permitted to them since, while they are playing, excellent time is wasted which should have been put to better profit for the expiation of sins, the relief of the poor, and the good of all.3 Those who do the opposite, even if they are prelates, should follow the advice given in Bk XXV, Ch. 52, of Vincent's Mirror of History, where he tells of a certain archbishop of Florence who, on account of his chess-playing, was persuaded to ensure that by bestowing alms he should remove from his hands what is referred to in the same chapter as their rash and unseemly defilement.4 Valla, too, states that Ferdinand, king of Aragon, loathed dicers like the plague, for he considered that a virtuous man had nothing in common with dicers and blasphemers.5




On the different exercises of young men


INCE a hateful deterioration results from idleness and inertia, especially when it comes to soldiering, provision was made in ancient times, lasting to this day, that in order to win wars young men should be broken in with the curb of military discipline and develop their powers by continued agility, some with spears, others by hurling stones, others by jumping or running. 1 Most important of all is the fact that they will have to carry spears in battle, that is the strong, heavy, and thick soldiers' lances, not hollow inside, and, if they can, thrust them through an enemy wearing a double breastplate. For when their time conies, whether they are going to march into the field heavily or lightly armoured, they must always use big, thick spears, so that, once they are on the attack, they may pierce a foe protected by a double corselet and breastplate, as I related above about wars.2 They will pitch stones or boulders so as to learn by hard throwing how to shift obstacles set in their path, or how to hold up heavy objects, as often happens when men are wounded in a fight. They are then supported by their brave band of comrades to prevent them collapsing to the ground, and must be carried out of the battle so that they can get quicker attention. Jumping, also, they practise vigorously, to check the nuisance of increasing fat or a swelling stomach, for they do not want a plump distended belly, which will possibly stop them being able to help themselves or others when they have to mount or dismount from their steeds during a retreat or attack. Here I can relate one or two instances of this. There was a noble citizen belonging to the royal city of Stockholm in Sweden, a German or Jutlander by birth from Ditmarsken, whose name was Claus Boye. In 1520 he was ordered by the harsh King Christian II of Denmark to be thrust into a prison and there lose his life. Because he was too fat there was no way in which they could shove him through the high, narrow doorway of the prison. His wicked guards were angry because they were in a hurry to torture others, and he was flung apart into a corner, where he had another chance to prolong his life and was saved. Even so, this citizen, in order to reduce his corpulence in future, followed a diet of biscuit bread spiced with cummin and aniseed on 739

Idleness in soldiering very bad

Why they drill with spears

Throwing stones


Claus Boye Man condemned to death released through fatness

OLAUS MAGNUS: DESCRIPTION OF THE NORTHERN PEOPLES Idleness is harmful at every age, especially in youth

the advice of skilled doctors; but he could by no means win the upper hand in this battle with Nature, since in his youth he had been brought up without exercise.3


On examples from abroad Fat actor

Running games Julius Caesar Various activities

What is appropriate to military discipline Daughters of Octavius Caesar wove


BERT Krantz, too, tells us that there was a further scoundrel of an actor, who, because of his excessive girth, would gobble up in one day the food of ten men. To make sure that he did not swallow down the provisions of useful workmen, like a public scourge, he was hanged at the command of another Danish king. 1 Jumping and its advantages have already been mentioned; for instance, by leaping over ditches with amazing agility faithful servants have been able to supply their masters with poles or staffs with which to escape an enemy hard on their heels.2 With great persistence the Northerners also train themselves in running, since the bitter frost exerts a great compulsion to it and turns play into necessity.3 In their spare time they devote themselves to many other earnest activities, as Caesar's soldiers once did. Examples of these are building embankments, dragging along machines, refitting ships, mowing meadows, cutting corn, pulling at the oar, carrying their leader on their shoulders, watering horses, cutting ways through woods, and hardly resting from toil in the night time, just as military discipline demands.4 All these pursuits are to prevent the finest youth and soldiery being vilely tainted by hateful sloth, extravagant living, sluggishness, faintheartedness, apathy, and all other revolting faults and vices. Justin bears witness to this, as indeed does Suetonius in speaking of Octavius Augustus, when he mentions that the emperor never wished his daughters to frolic in useless idleness or come to grief through it.5




On the practice of swordsmanship


the Northerners of old continually applied their skills to practising everything else which would preserve and sharpen their powers, so in an intense form of exercise they accustomed themselves to avoiding the thrusts of swordsmen or to inflicting them on opponents, ^ome of these fencers, who were remarkably expert in the art of combat, frequently grazed their opponent's eyebrow with unerring aim, and if anyone who received such a stroke blinked an eyelid through fear, he was soon discharged of his duties and dismissed from court. 1 So much strength had been implanted by Nature in their minds and glances that, even when they were dealt blows in the face, there was not so much as a slight twitch of their eyebrows, and for all the provocation of the striker they preserved the same even temper, bearing themselves just as firmly as Olympic champions, of whom eminent authors confirm that, when they were given the hardest hits and were pounded by boxing gloves, they uttered not a single groan.2 Certainly one could never at any time have justly spoken this line of Ennius about men of the North:

Exercises of swordsmen Combatants

Unmoving glance Olympic champions Poetry of Ennius

You young fellows have womanish temperaments, nor this one: Spoils of Salmacis, won without blood and sweat.3

Spoils of Salmacis

On the contrary, they were men used to any toil, nor was any ground too Physical rough or too steep for them. No armed foe frightened them, nor could death endurance itself inspire them with terror; in fact their concern for it was so little that sometimes, dying in combat, 4they would relax their mouths in a smile and completely disguise their agony as they gave up the ghost.4




On the same subject, telling how men should not beg for their lives Custom of buying one's life is avoided

Scorners of death

Warlike and brave are born in the North

1 I

1HEY possessed such nobility of mind that, if they were captured in war, they might often have been restored to freedom had they only been willing to offer the very meagrest entreaties, even for life itself. But so great-hearted were they that they did not care a straw for pursuing an existence purchased by request. They spurned life as though it were some trifling favour, and embraced the death sentence of their own free will. Valour little knows how to buy immunity at the price of dishonour or even the appearance of dishonour. Indeed, no man who strives for a name of renown or its rewards is willing to lie dormant in cowardly fear, but prefers to go forward to meet valiant opponents and not to be terrified of cold steel. 1 2Now the fact that the North has a reputation for men who scorn death is determined by a great many factors, for the influence of the climate and the benignity of the stars have healthy effects. This gives them toughness and makes them contemptuous of death. So John of Ashendon says that under the north and far north-west corner of the first triplicity, where Jupiter and Mars hold sway, warlike, noble-minded, and brave men are born, and he repeats the statement in Ch. 5, Sect. 8. Lucan, also, in Bk II, relies on the same belief when he writes:


The peoples whom the Bears look down on are truly happy in their delusion. Unharassed by the greatest of terrors, the fear of death, they are eager to rush upon the sword; their spirits can face extinction and it is thought cowardly to preserve a life that will soon return. Aristotle

Aristotle moreover affirms in his Problems that in warm places men are timorous, but in cold ones courageous.2




On jousts and tournaments


HERE was an ancient custom always observed among northern rulers and still practised in modern times with eager, unremitting enthusiasm. At public assemblies held by kings, princes, or noblemen, at wedding feasts or the investiture of eminent knights, before or after the celebration of triumphs in war, on the commemoration of royal birthdays, or for some other motive or pleasure, various kinds of jousting and tournaments are regularly held. 1 Sometimes complete battle arms and armour are borne, including sharp lances, either to restore a reputation, if it has been outraged, or to add to it. Sometimes they wear only a helmet on the head and a cuirass over the chest, because they have, or wish to have, the gentle favour of distinguished and honourable maidens and married ladies; at other times they have the right or left forearm exposed, with silk fringes hanging down and spread on all sides.2 This last occurs when they wish to decide a contest between noble suitors. For these and other reasons they fiercely struggle with each other in many different ways as their desires draw them on, yet they firmly adhere to the strictest law of arms. None may transgress what is seemly and reputable by clashing with an adversary, armed or unarmed, after the tournament. If he falls and breaks his limbs, he may not abuse his opponent, or if a man's neck is broken, no feud to avenge his death may pass to his heirs.3 Courtiers of lower rank also frequently set aside horses, armour, and no mean amount of gold and silver as a prize for the victor, especially when a duel has to be fought in response to a challenge.


Custom of the Northerners When and how jousts are held

Helmet only

Law of arms

Suit of armour goes to victor



More on the same topic T happened in the time of Magnus, king of the Gotar and Swedes, and the Danish King Erik, that at a public meeting of these princes, held at Skara in the land of the Vastgotar, 12Magnus Dysavald, a man of high birth who had an abundance of speech but rather less strength, leapt into their midst. This fellow, an out-and-out braggart, tried hard to challenge the Swedish nobility to single combat. Appearing to boast the courage of a lion, he wagered as a prize for the contest a horse and one hundred pounds of Prize for victory pure silver if he should come off worse in the fight. From the Swedish ranks Erengisle Plata, a man of few words, flung him far from his mount at the first Erengisle Plata onset and won the bout without much effort. He took away the horse and money as the reward of victory, and was a proof to the Danes that when the Vigorous soldiers fight Swedes went into battle they were better furnished with strength than with strength, not speech. So the Danes, seeing the overthrow of their Achilles, took a long rest speech from tournaments and from bragging.2 Boasting Meanwhile, however, at a public meeting of princes in the royal city of Holsteiner Stockholm during King Kristofer's reign, a Holsteiner of the Rantzau of Rantzau family, intending that some notable joust should be held and imagining he family, a braggart could overthrow the Swedish nobles with greater distinction than had the Danes, did not hesitate to challenge them to single combat one by one, with huge arrogance and scorn. Whereupon he earned the penalty for his haughty shouts, more shamefacedly than he had believed possible. For the Swedes, thinking they would answer his boasting more than his vigour, quickly placed in the spot where that notable swaggerer was, to a blare of trumpets, a monk of the order of St Dominic, having secured the connivance of his prior. This man, who was also a veteran knight now discharged from service, was seated on a stout horse, armoured, with a helmet on his head and equipped with a lance. Brooking no delay, he engaged with Braggart is the Holsteiner and unhorsed him, as he did likewise the rest, who were his overcome by disciples in insolence; however many he saw galloping at him he hurled a monk them from their steeds. When it was clear that no more were left, the illustrious women who were watching from a high gallery ordered him for his own honour to reveal his identity before he left the field. After putting off Monk returns to his helmet, he spurred his horse and made all haste to his monastery, his monastery

Magnus Dysavald, on whom see History of the Goths, p. 636




demonstrating whose soldier he was by the monk's habit he wore and the life he lived.3


On jousting between squinting and one-eyed men


nore attractive sight, however, and a more entertaining one results if two squinting or one-eyed knights are willing to joust with lances, for, as these men look distortedly at each other, even though their horses gallop straight, so too, since the lance on each side is aimed awry, it is thought impossible for either to hit its mark. Yet because the very speed of their horses' meeting brings them to close quarters, they demonstrate very easily that it is not hard even for men with a squint to encounter each other with lances, particularly when the contest takes place on open ground, where no foe should be despised even if he is quite blind, as Cicero records very plainly of Appius Claudius Caecus, and others like him, in his Tusculan Dis­ putations, etc. 1 Yet in the northern kingdoms, although you very seldom run into squinting and one-eyed men, nevertheless, when they do appear and are trained, they engage their enemies with distinction, so much does actual courage strive to remove or alleviate the body's imperfections.2 Now when at the courts of princes retainers with such a disability have turned out more arrogant than others through winning a victory, they will only settle their differences by jousting or tournaments according to military custom. In these the decision is reached by the dreadful death sometimes of one, sometimes of both. Otherwise by their mutual consent the loser, whose life is spared, hands over to the victor his property, arms and armour, horses, and whatever military decorations of gold and silver he displays at the time of the combat.


Spectacle of one-eyed men more attractive

Foe not to be despised One-eyed men rare in the North Courage

Disagreement is removed by jousting



On the humiliation of cowardly soldiers Talkative knights

Courageous woman Female sex eager for glory

True soldiers refrain from chatter

ERY similar to the sight of one-eyed men jousting is the way an opponent is often set against loud-mouthed knights. With their churlish verbosity these individuals borrow pointed darts and strength from their tongues and must be reproved and put publicly to shame, as befits the impudent, brawling, quarrelsome types they are. One special mark of depreciation is employed, that is, for some resolute woman, equipped with armour, helmet, and spear, to ride against one of these tongue-waggers and shatter a lance with him. This sex is not unwilling to seek some small glory of that kind, since, from an early age, they have regularly broken in spirited horses. Therefore, when place and time have been arranged, they engage in combat and the prating fellow is unseated by the woman's lance, though while he was draining his flagons no one could discover a braver champion than him. 1 As a consequence other courtiers, or knights, are never too much inclined to come out with useless chatter as if they were clowns and jesters. Nothing is so essential for a truly brave soldier as to keep his thoughts silently concealed and, at the right time, to introduce some unassuming remark, as the familiar verse has it:


Knowledge of speech is gracious, and so is knowledge of silence. If you encompass both, you will often act wisely.2 Empty bragging

Glory to be hoped for from elsewhere

It is a mark of utter shallowness and an idle mind for a man-at-arms to be loquacious and trifling, to venture into empty bragging about some poor little scrap of glory, and vaunt himself as though he had Fortune at his command and were sure that she could never in time to come turn against him. If this happens, he will be a laughing-stock and an object of mockery for everyone. Any person who praises his own feats is too fond, foolishly fond, of himself; he will go hunting the shadow rather than the substance, where more reputable praise and others' approbation could be hoped for.3 746



On jousting upon the water in rowing-boats


HERE is also another kind of tournament, on the water, presented to view as a public spectacle. In this, sailors armed with shields and lances stand in the stern of boats and are very rapidly propelled to a clash by comrades at the oars. Both however are held by a slack rope tied to their waists, so that, should they fall overboard, they can be pulled out of the water and not drown there and then. If they fall simultaneously from the stern of each boat, they take up their positions again and contend even more stubbornly for the victory they were originally resolved upon. 1 They do not give up until supremacy comes to one of them or, if they both have the same sort of luck, they agree to a draw and break off the contest. Now the reasons for an aquatic tournament of this kind are generally the following, or something similar. Either they do it for the sake of the training it gives, or such men are suffering naval punishments, which are inflicted on water, because it was on water that they were insolent beyond measure in word or deed; or they do it if a capricious wind keeps ships at anchor in harbour; or so that the prince, if he is present and watching, may see how valiant, expert, and spirited sailors are in their tournaments and, if necessary, how practised they are in the skill of diving, should they need to retrieve something that has dropped to the bottom of the sea.2 Those, however, are always bolder in such contests to whom the art of swimming has been, as it were, second nature from boyhood, so that there is no need for them to have a cord tied round them as a safeguard.


Jousting of sailors Those who fall in are hauled back

Reasons for the contest

Skill of diving useful in this event



On the sword-dance or soldiers' morris Dancing with naked swords


Rose of swords

Dancing regulated by song

Mass of armed men arrange themselves at briefest bidding Armed men dancing

OR training their young men the Gotar and Swedes of the North have another game, too, in which they drill themselves by leaping about among naked swords and unprotected thrusting blades. 1 As they grow up they learn this through a certain athletic routine under instruction from experts and a dance leader, while accompanying themselves with singing. They demonstrate this sport chiefly during Shrovetide, the time of masquerade, to use the Italian term.2 Before this particular season young men practise in large numbers for eight days in continual dancing, with their swords raised, but sheathed in their scabbards, circling round three times. Next they draw their swords, raise them in the same way, and presently hold them stretched out. They then revolve at a gentler rate, each taking the point or hilt of another's weapon. Next they change their formation and range themselves in a hexagonal figure, which they call a rose, and almost immediately undo it by withdrawing and lifting their swords, so that in consequence a square rose appears over all their heads. Finally, by violently clashing their swords together sideways and with a swift leap backwards, they bring the game to an end. The rhythm is given by pipes or old songs, or by both together, so that the dancing is slow at first, then more energetic, and lastly quite furious. But unless you see the thing with your own eyes, this presentation of mine scarcely allows you to grasp what a handsome, noble sight it is when, at the briefest bidding of one person, a whole mass of armed men briskly arrange themselves for this sport. Clerics are permitted to practise and take part in this entertainment, since it is all conducted in a most decorous fashion.3 As for dancing by armed men, Strabo declares in Bk X, when he is describing the Curetes who lived in Aetolia, that dancing in armour was first brought in by them, even though it was an object of contempt to the Persians. Nevertheless the Curetes were held to be invincible in battle and a people to be admired, because they were seen to be braver than all others who had spent their lives in arms.4





On the bow-dance r I iHERE is also another exercise for the young men. In accordance with I certain rules they lead a dance out and back again holding bows, cer-K. tainly using other equipment than in the sword dancing, but following much the same routine.1 Enclosing2 their bodies with bows or rings, they are first stimulated by soft singing of heroic feats, or with pipes or drums, and then go forward revolving in a circle; at the single voice of their supervisor, who is called the king, they dance back again. Eventually the bows are freed and, proceeding at rather more speed, the men bend towards each other and make a rose with them, as on other occasions they do with their swords, so that you see them form a hexagonal figure. In order to perform this with more merriment and noise, they tie little, tinkling, copper bells below their knees. There is also a kind of dance, or game, in which men are catapulted through the air by a wooden contraption and spin like wheels;3 4or those who are well known for their nimbleness of body sport in some other way: with poles, for instance, round which they wind themselves; with ropes, also, on which they walk to and fro; with hoops, through which they glide as if they were fish; and with planks, too, from which they hang in the air, holding themselves up by one arm. These games are known generally as vaulting, because the young men leap lightly through the air.4 Cornelius Tacitus, moreover, has an account of this. He maintains that young men fling themselves about naked among swords, in the way their ancestors did, not by any means for pay or profit, but only for the brief glory of audacious frolicking, which is rewarded by the enjoyment of the spectators.5 Games are played in which balls are thrown or struck with a club, and there are countless other kinds of sport according to the cycle of seasons there, involving running, wrestling, jumping, and walking on the hands with legs in the air. There is also dancing in armour, in which men with shields and swords vary their steps, moving more slowly or more quickly as they take their beat from pipers.6 Whoever delights in seeing more types of sport may look at the Commentaries of Perottus, and at Pliny and Livy, who set down more than forty kinds of them, which in no way correspond to or square with northern games, etc. Again, Herodotus, in Bk II, and the blessed Ambrose have a great deal to say about the diversity of sports, if any one should have the leisure to examine these and similar entertainments.7


Rules of the bow-dance

King of the dance Little bells tied to their shins

Various kinds of sport


Naked young men Sports of various kinds Dancing in armour Forty kinds of sport Ambrose



On the dance known as Hormus1 Leader of dance armed

In the dance of Lycurgus discreetness and valour are practised

Catholic doctrine is derived from Rome Modesty Counsels of old men safer, but of young men more attractive Conditions relating to times, places, and people

OLLOWING a very ancient practice men of old preserved, and instructed us to preserve, a similar dance. 2In this the leader was an armed young man exercising the soldierly skill which he would afterwards be able to employ against invading enemies. He was followed by a girl noted for modesty of behaviour, who decorously took the woman's part in the dance. Freely performed both then and now, this is not unlike the sequence which Lycurgus invented and which Lucian called 'hormus'; he wished it to be founded on two virtues, that is, discreetness and valour.2 It is believed that this custom was once upon a time transferred from the Greeks to northern lands, for in early days the heathen Goths, living in the vicinity of the Greeks, learnt and received from them priestly offices and ways of governing their lives, in the same way as our age has derived the teaching of Christianity from Rome.3 4Thus the quality of temperance, the grace of moderation, care for honour, and attention to dignity are sought and observed. The foundation of this is modesty and a gentleness of heart that avoids giving offence, loves abstemiousness, cherishes good character, and exhibits all the proprieties, so that the safer counsels of older men who have been thoroughly tried and tested are preferred, even though those of growing young men may seem more attractive. For, as you enter unknown localities with greater safety by following the advice of skilled and experienced men, so it is more dangerous to try to take possession of such places if you have only the ignorant to guide you. In everything that you do you should try to find out what is apt for various persons, times, and people of different ages, and what fits the nature of each individual, for often something that suits one human being does not agree with another. One thing is appropriate for a young man; one is appropriate when things go well, another when they go badly.4





On the same subject


N adversity a stout courage is roused to seek a glorious death, and by standing fast will meet it, sooner than agree to any alternative and utterly degrading terms; for death pursues us from the rear, while we wisely defend our life facing frontward. Valour in war carries a significant stamp of honour and glory, inasmuch as it prefers death to slavery and disgrace. 1 2You must try to foresee and examine what may happen and what ought to be done in the future, and encountering some difficult perplexity, come to a discriminating decision. Therefore, when any danger threatens, a brave man should not endeavour to pretend it is not there, but have ready courses of action to choose and carry through, so that he may not afterwards have to say: 'I never thought this could happen.' Finally, unless misfortunes are tackled, one's prosperous state is quickly invaded and overthrown: hence in war an unexpected foe can hardly be withstood and easily subdues you if he finds you unprepared.2 Again, what was said above about modesty,3 chiefly that it should be observed among youths and young people, must be insisted upon, so that those of that age may particularly consider their deficiencies, associate properly with each other, and perfect the course of their future lives. If anyone reads of this in Bk I, On proper living, of Cicero's work On Duties, he will easily be taught, provided he is willing to pursue this instruction together with Pomponius Laetus's dictum in Bk II: 'Happy is the man who, having gained victory, knows how to conduct himself with moderation.'4 Here we must also bear in mind how many men, even extremely brave men, have allowed their sense of shame to weaken and have been thrown from honour, glory, and valour into temptations, and after that into derision and contempt, once they were given an opportunity to go astray.


Valour in adversity Valour in war Examination of the future

It is shameful to say, 'I never thought it' Unexpected foe

Sense of shame makes a man successful



On the Pyrrhic dance Crackling of fir-wood fire

Last one is flung into fire

Delightful penalty of a drink

Royal fire

Young recruits are hardened

N front of halls belonging to northern kings and princes it is the custom in the cold season to build massive fires, mainly of fir wood, which is abundant in those parts. 1 When these burn they give off such a sound of crackling that those who are at a distance and cannot see but only hear think that beams and even roofs are collapsing. Now, in case this natural cracking noise should seem to serve no purpose, all the bravest men who have been sitting round the fires are roused as if by drums and turn to dancing in a circle and leaping. They draw themselves so tightly together and dance with such immense vigour that inevitably anyone who is last in line will fall into the fire, as though a strong chain has just snapped. He jumps out at once and, to the applause of the dancers, is set upon a high seat, where, because he has invaded the royal fire, he must swallow down a great big jug of very strong beer, and afterwards a second. When he has finished this health-giving drink, which, however, he drains in a sensible manner, his spirits and strength are restored and he quickly returns to his fellow-dancers as they circle round. These are similarly excited by their movement, by the fire, and by thirst, and are not unwilling to be dragged to the appointed penalty, with the exception of those who have practised this fire-dance on earlier occasions, for they possess such skill and strength that they can no more be forced into the flames. By holding on firmly, they have learnt by experience to be warier and to keep their footing in such a display, and they are consequently awarded a greater measure of drink, even though they have not profaned the royal fire in the slightest. The rest continue dancing with their high spirits undiminished till late in the night, and almost all are whirled in succession headlong into the fire. It is in such a way that by strenuous activity of various kinds, the young recruits chiefly attain a firm endurance, strengthening and steadying their self-discipline through fire, dancing, and rough handling. As a result, when real battle engagements are upon them, they can keep a cool head in melees that are decidedly fierce. Lots are also cast, by throwing small dice, as to who must jump fully dressed over the fire. But if anyone in bold mischief goes




beyond a joke and bangs at the prince's door, he will hardly escape a scorching in the fire. This reminds us of how Caesar, at the end of his Bk I, rejoices that his Gallic guest was not put to death by burning.2 The Tartar custom of dragging the ambassadors of princes to their masters through the middle of fires was related above, when I wrote about Russian counsellors.3 However, a good deal of fine material on the Pyrrhic dance is contained in the life of Hadrian, and much is similarly told in Herodian about the Pyrrhic movement and rhythm of those who speed round in a circle.4

Prince's door not to be knocked at Custom of Tartars Life of Hadrian


On remarkable players of stringed instruments


'ew pieces of evidence will go to show how great at one time was the Northerners' skill in and practice of the wonderful art of music. JThere were many who were so well versed in playing the lute, fiddle, lyre, harp, and all stringed instruments, that by their turns of melody they could move people's moods to whatever emotions they wished. They knew how to make human beings feel joy, sorrow, sympathy, or hatred, and envelop their minds with the delight or dread they experienced through their ears. 1 2Indeed, they demonstrated such power in their strings that when bystanders heard this expressive playing they were unable to maintain any self-control. When a certain man skilled in musical matters had boasted his ability to do this in the presence of King Erik called the Good, the monarch first used entreaties, then threats, to make him play on his harp. Thus compelled, the other produced music of extraordinary gravity, and with his first solo filled those present, as it seemed, with a stunned melancholy. Presently the instrument's livelier tones brought his audience to a more frolicsome state of mind, so that they threw their bodies about with motions expressing their merriment and began to change their woe to clapping. Later, goaded by more piercing notes to the point of heedless rage, they disclosed by their shouts that the spirit of madness had possessed them. That was how changes of measure altered the temper of men's hearts. If people had not appeared 753

Instruments of musical art Influence of music

King Erik, called the Good Grave music Sweet music

Loud music Music fosters madness


King died a penitent

at once to make a brave intervention against their insane fury, their distracted mental condition would have led to a brawl and they would have used their strength to kill each other. The king, however, whose great natural vigour had been increased by frenzy, seized a sword and slaughtered four soldiers who had come rather too close in order to restrain him. Finally, buried under a pile of cushions collected from all sides by the attendants, he was caught, at great risk to everyone, and was finally restored with difficulty to his right mind.2 As he was on his way to Jerusalem to atone for his manslaughters, he died in Cyprus and is entombed there with his wife, as Saxo, the Danish historian, bears witness in Bk XII.3


On similar instances from abroad

'chus. OMETHING not unlike this is written about the music of Father BacWhen he was a boy, Tyrrhenian sailors were supposed to give him J passage and return him to the nymphs who had been his nurses, but ; they intended to destroy him in the hope of booty. When he understood this



Vincent, Mirror of History, Bk IX, Ch. 6 Those used to stringed instruments play best Nero


he ordered his companions to sing as an ensemble, and the story goes that the Tyrrhenian mariners were so diverted by their song that they even began to dance, and in gambolling about too energetically threw themselves into the sea. It is no wonder that music has such power over men, if it is recalled that Arion the lyre-player was carried over the waves on the back of a dolphin because of the sweetness of his melody.1 We can see how Nature has granted music to men as a special boon so that they may undergo their toils more easily, and as she has furnished the labours, so she has generously provided this relief from them for those who reside beneath the wearisome north wind. Hence, northern musicians who are accustomed to stringed instruments play outstandingly well, even those who have never learnt the art from instructors, and have gained such fame and perfection in their skill that they come only a little short of rivalling Emperor Nero, to whom, because of his ability in this art, many crowns of victory were presented by lyre-players,2 or perhaps rather by jesters, buffoons, and actors.3 1 must not leave out the evidence of Procopius, who affirms in Bk IV of The War against the Goths that when Gelimer, the powerful king of the Vandals, was tightly hemmed in by a siege, he asked only for a lyre, a loaf of bread, and a sponge to be sent for his comfort.4 754



On wind-players


HERE are also exponents of the flute, horn, trumpet, and harp everywhere in those lands; organs1 exist, too, whose tone is quite enchanting,2 instruments which, Suetonius asserts, also charmed Nero. However, the more skilled practitioners in such playing are foreigners, and they come into the northern regions in order to earn money by it. They are bountifully paid and warmly received as guests by the inhabitants, especially by princes, who in a cavalry campaign want the shrill blare of the trumpets to rouse men and horses to charge against the foe, the men as if by the fearful warning of a herald, the horses as though incited to ferocity by some natural instigation: 3as Propertius has it,

Objects in the same category Foreign wind-players

A trumpet gathered the ancient citizens to arms; and Virgil, The Tuscan trumpet bellowed through the air. This instrument is said to have been invented by Etruscan robbers, since, when the wind was howling and they had been scattered about the seacoasts, it was difficult to summon them to assemble where the plunder was. Then it was afterwards used for engagements in war in order to give military signals; where a herald could not be properly heard for the uproar, the blast of a resounding trumpet might reach men's ears. Virgil again gives testimony:

Armed men are summoned by trumpet

The trumpet with its terrifying sound. Various calls are blown on this instrument: sometimes signals to join battle, sometimes to pursue those in flight, sometimes to sound retreat.3 4But the allurement of flutes or strings is applied with very little effect in any attempt to moderate the fierce tempers of brave men, even at feasts. Those who embrace a soldier's career exhibit such weighty rigour that they profess to take more delight in Mars than the Muse, in hauberks than holidays, for they maintain on all occasions the same harsh, unyielding disposition. Certainly, flautists who try to refresh fighting-men of this sort with their 755

Orders given by trumpets

Harsh fighting-men


Vitiges, king of the Goths

King a martial warrior

sweet music, if they have not been warned and taken heed in good time, are very often injured through the sudden ruthlessness of their audience. Such soldiers have their ears so blocked and barred that none of them is accessible in the slightest to the delight of delicate airs.4 Yet the musicians are easily restored to favour when they exchange their melodious flutes for the more frightening sound of trumpets and play the notes of tragedy. What the warlike king of the Goths, Vitiges, wrote to all the Goths about trumpets, Cassiodorus testifies faithfully in Bk X: 'Know that it was not in cramped bedrooms that I was chosen to be ruler, nor among the dainty conversation of flatterers, but I was elected to the braying of trumpets on wide-spreading plains. My intention was that, aroused by such din and longing for their native valour, the Gothic people might find themselves a truly martial king.'5


On actors and jesters Number of fools is uncountable Pleasure sought from the notorious Laberius, farce writer Publius Suetonius Isidore Volaterranus Valla Borra made 100,000

doubloons from his profession Rhodopis


T none be surprised that this humble book should even include within its pages this worst of occupations. I mean an account of these types of individual, whose numbers cannot be reckoned and who are so well thought of in the courts and at the tables of high lords. These people believe there is virtually no delight to be had in life, or at any rate very little, other than the unique pleasure that proceeds from such notorious clowns. 1 In all past ages they have hired their own playwrights, as, for instance, Laberius, who composed farces and died ten months after Julius Caesar. Another who penned such sketches was Publius the Syrian. Suetonius may be consulted on this subject, together with Isidore, Bk VIII, Ch. 7 and Bk XVIII, Chs 41 and 49; also Volaterranus, Bk XXVIII, on parasites and other fools.2 Again, Laurentius Valla in his biography of Ferdinand mentions a certain jester, Borra, who pursued his comic art until he reached the age of eighty-four, by which time he had made a hundred thousand doubloons from it.3 Yet the harlot Rhodopis, according to Pliny, by amassing a princely fortune appears even to have surpassed this.4 In Bk IX, Chs 35 and 51, the same author goes on to give particular evidence of actors and 756


their extravagance.5 Trebellius, too, relates how Gallienus felt such extra- Emperor ordinary affection for buffoons, parasites, and all that infamous crew of ras- Gallienus cals that he would seat them with him at the second course. 6 If Suetonius's account had borne any weight, such comedians would have been flogged with rods and scourges under the public gaze and then hounded off to foreign parts.7 Vincent also confirms in Bk XXIX, Ch. 41, of The Mirror of His­ tory that this was true of King Philip of France, who, he maintains, declared King Philip that to give anything to actors was tantamount to sacrificing to demons.8 of France Everything else this author writes in that section is worth the reader's attention.


On foreign parasites, comics, and buffoons


O fools are born among the northern peoples, or very few who are unable to exercise the natural powers of reasoning, I mean fellows who can display their innate stupidity with a certain acquired cunning after the fashion of jesters. 1 It is for this reason that such come to those regions over the sea from Germany in order to make a profit, or through a desire to work some treachery; either they arrive in the company of stranger princes, or are hired with foreign money. However it may be, those sons of Mars, the people of the North, as I said above when writing of flute-players,2 are never in the habit of allowing themselves to be entertained by crafty artists of this kind, because they may help to fill up a camp but never a battle line, being quite useless, and especially because the majority of those who arrive there are criminals, outlaws, debtors, disreputable characters, traitors to their lords and countries, footpads, parricides, thieves, desecrators, heretics, and all such hateful, abhorrent specimens. These individuals, by pretending to be fools or by juggler's tricks, by theft or by acts of treachery, return from there loaded with riches. Thirty-three years ago3 King Christian II of Denmark had a court jester named Svikart, that is, Deceiver, a native of Bremen, who would plot against people with artful cunning.4 He always wore white vestments in the manner of the clergy, and such credence was given to the monstrous lies with which he overturned everyone's reputation and did them injury that if he gave a nod, showed anxiety, and made a report, harmless men, chiefly noblemen of the Danes, were stripped of their possessions or put to death. Hence innocent folk grew frightened, especially the great men of Denmark, and gave large presents, so that by the assistance of this unprincipled buffoon they 757

Foreign jesters A hardy people think nothing of clowns Nature of these comedians Feigned stupidity Christian II, king of Denmark Svikart

Nobles of Denmark redeemed their lives from a fool for money


Buffoon robbed

could buy back their goods and purchase their lives for prayers and a price. At last that king, who had hardly completed the space of two months of a reign racked by sedition, fled out of Svealand and Gotaland back to Denmark.5 This crafty buffoon from Bremen, now well on in years and bursting with the splendid gifts he had received, wanting to flee also through the dark coverts of the forests outside the king's camp, was robbed of all his goods by peasants, thrashed, and barely escaped with his life.


On natural fools and dumb music Some fools very shrewd

Natural fools to be tolerated

Sten and Svante, regents of Sweden Four feet in bed during husband's absence Revealers of thieves

Sleight of hand Dumb music

hope it will not be distasteful for the good reader to look further at the various types of fool, of whom some are so shrewd in gathering up treasures thrown away by others (as I said above1) that the public treasury hardly has as much in ready money as these keep stored away through their detestable methods of gaining pelf. Some, it is true, though there are very few of them, are so praiseworthy and useful that, when their masters and princes are mortally perplexed, they utter some brief remarks in a laconic way, whereby they quietly save these men's lives, country, and all their future offspring. So two renowned individuals, Sten and Svante, when a powerful lord in the Swedish realms had long been devising their death, escaped unharmed by trusting a fool.2 Certain dumb men reveal adulteries by signs, for instance by putting four shoes, two for either sex, on a stool by the bed, so that the husband, when he returns, may see by this strange clue that there has been the scandalous number of four shoes at the foot of the bed while he has been away. Some indicate traitors by changing their clothes, others point to thefts by secreting objects and bringing them to light, and there are many similar examples. 3Certain persons instruct the viewer's gaze through an arrangement of gestures, just as if these were particular letters of the alphabet, characters in which one can read quite clearly the things they denote; they effect what has normally been demonstrated in writing, yet without any writing. These activities are the concern of court jesters and entertainers, when with merry signs and gesticulations they frequently enliven the spirits of princes who are agitated by gnawing cares.3 This part of the science of music our forbears named 'dumb', in other words music which speaks with the hands when the mouth is shut and with certain gestures makes understood what could hardly be declared by a speaking tongue or by written words, as Cassiodorus avouches in Bk I of his Letters.4




However, no payments are made to such guileless simpletons, only to the most cunning and offensive characters. These are given costly garments by princes, golden collars, and brilliant jewels, so that, with a few flattering panegyrics, or rather disgraceful verses, they may magnify their deeds, which could be immortalized over the whole globe with far more distinction by serious historians, in loyalty and esteem, at less expense, with nobler parallels and with sounder judgments.

Princes purchase praise from entertainers with showers of presents Serious historians are scarcely looked at


On servile commendation by jesters and useful commendation from the wise


UT it is also generally known to everyone how degrading it is for princes, or for those who are greedy of praise, to be commended by those whose chief business it is to knock about with disreputable fellows, and to corrupt someone's good character by evil conversation, rendering it effeminate, lecherous, and extravagant. l Moreover in the role of comedians they perform or sing about adultery and debauchery, from which arises a congenial habit of watching them and a ruinous licence to enact all the foulest deeds; in the end, however, they fall silent at the criticism and argument of any serious man. Evidence of this was given by that Messalian prostitute who was exposing herself in a public performance. She was taking off her clothes when she saw the austere Cato coming down into the theatre. She stopped her activities at once and to others who were astonished said: A strict man is nearby.' By these words she demonstrated that the appearance of one very severe man meant far more than the applause of the entire crowd. 1 Therefore, even if everyone craves praise, princes most of all, they should be deeply cautious of obtaining it from or letting it be given by actors and court jesters, unless they wish to be considered like them, or even perhaps counted among them. For true praise should proceed from a man who is himself praised, since it springs from one who is endowed with virtues and lives a praiseworthy life. Yet that commendation is judged altogether more genuine which stems from deeds well done and just deserts, and when esteem from the mass of the people consorts with it. Otherwise they go seeking merely the shifting wind of popular favour or the cosmetics applied by buffoons, and nothing can be found less constant or more loathsome than that. 759

Aims of jesters Subjects for comedy

Prostitute Cato, an austere man

Similarity of behaviour

True praise


Therefore each and every man, especially a prince set in high office, must see to it that in his short span he does not take such pleasure in the shows put on by clowns, comedians, actors, parasites, and court fools that, oblivious of salvation, wasting his time, honour, glory, and good reputation, he is snatched away in a single second to everlasting torments, which he will suffer from foul spirits, perhaps appearing in the shades and shapes of jesters and ruthlessly flogging him. Then he will realize that he must weep for ever among demons as in his life of a moment's duration he heedlessly laughed among fools. Here it would be right and proper to cry out against certain men of ancient name, placed in exalted positions, who think it is the highest pleasure to watch and listen to buffoons, and to look at pictures of naked women, find them delightful, and exhibit them for others to see; as though his own flesh, the world, and the devil were not enough to make a fool of a man created in the image of God, without also bringing on his own irremediable damnation by zealously encouraging all these churlish foes. Such people are unaware of the blessed Gregory's words, when he said: 'The picture you have in front of your eyes is the one you reveal that you love in your heart.'2


On baths, cupping, and letting blood Use of baths indispensable in the North Private baths

No natural baths


N a great many parts of the world we generally find that baths are taken for pleasure, especially in Italy, as the ruins of the luxurious warm baths at Rome and in the country round about Pozzuoli testify. 1 Yet nowhere on earth is the practice as indispensable as in the northern kingdoms, where both private and public baths are found in various places, well distributed and with all the necessary utensils. The private baths of notable personages are built near running water and pleasant gardens, while there are as many public baths as are needed in the cities and villages, according to the number and standing of the inhabitants.2 However, Nature does not furnish any baths in those parts, in other words, gushing springs of sulphurous water, nor do the people of those kingdoms travel to use them, whatever pressing reasons there may be, since they have learnt from persons who 760


know by experience that water such as this seeps gently into the marrow of the bones and eats it away, and in any case gives very little relief from familiar maladies.3 For this reason they make use of large bath-houses in their homes, which although under one roof are divided by a screen of boards to preserve the modesty of either sex.4 It is not as Poggio states in a letter to Leonardo Aretino, namely that the sexes meet each other naked without any suspicion of indecency, unless, that is, he wishes to be understood to be referring to the folk of Upper Germany, specifically those of Baden, who are over-inclined to brazen licentiousness.5 Among these, certain effeminate men are to be found who squander their good reputation and are accustomed to drink and sleep at the hot baths and display or perform other foolish behaviour. Now if such saucy customers were seen up to their tricks in the northern baths, they would shortly be dragged out and, should it be wintertime, pitched into the deepest snowdrifts, with the danger of being suffocated. If it were summer they would be tossed into ice-cold water and deprived of food for some while. I must however admit that nuptial baths are a very frequent ceremony in the North.6 Whenever a new bride is to be handed over to her husband, girls and decent married women walk ahead of her with gentle steps in a long procession, grouped according to age.

Hot sulphurous water harms the marrow

Poggio's representation is too licentious

Squandering their reputation Shameless fellows are punished Nuptial baths


More on the ritual of virgins processing to the baths1 the front go those carrying large flagons of better-quality beer or wine, so that if the fiery heat becomes excessive, after adding cinnamon, sugar, and toasted bread to the drink, any participants may take it to recuperate themselves from languid fatigue. When they emerge, they wear garlands or coronets woven from rue.2 Then all or most of the girls have a meal, and afterwards sleep alongside the bride, as one who is now going to dedicate her virginity to the powers above. None of the local women apply any body creams to their persons either in the baths or anywhere else. This is only done by a few wives married to strangers in those regions, and the prettier and more pleasing they imagine the make-up renders them, the more unappealing they seem and are mocked by everyone as frights.3 Both sexes use cupping or blood-letting to dispel scabies, which is caused by the cold, and to rid themselves of irritation beneath the skin; nevertheless bleeding is commoner, though better and safer when carried out in barbers' shops.4 Stout women, also, make use of many remedies to rid



Carriers of flagons precede

Bridal custom Cosmetics not usual

Cupping common Bloodletting



Grimoald, king of the Lombards Thorismund killed by a slave

themselves of fat, such as nibbling aniseed and cummin, and drinking a solution of wormwood.5 But they never do what Poppaea, the wife of Nero, did. Pliny tells us in Bk XI, Ch, 40, that to make her body trim and her skin fine she bathed in milk that had been carefully taken from five hundred sheasses.6 Jackasses are very seldom seen in northern lands, she-asses or mules never, because of the long distance they would have to travel and the harshness of the cold, which these beasts cannot bear.7 Furthermore, I think that this should be added by way of a useful warning: Paul the Deacon, in his His­ tory of the Lombards, Bk V, Ch. 30, affirms that Grimoald died from being let blood in his bath (where also pretty girls are gazed at, as the same author testifies in Ch. 37).8 Thorismund, too, king of the Visigoths, was killed by a slave when he was having one of his veins opened.9 END OF BOOK FIFTEEN



NOTES OM 15: Preface

1-1 Largely verbatim from Franciscus Patricius, De institutione, IV 6 (fol. 66B). The Cicero reference is loDefinibus, V 15, 43. 2~2 Derived from bits in Franciscus Patricius, De institutione, IV 6. 3 Cf.OM 8:7-1 1,13:1^. OM 15:1 The vignette illustrates the chapter. Cf. OM 7:1. The crossbows are held as in the pictures in OM 15:6, 19:22; for a different method see the vignette to OM 7:14. 'Cf.OM 8:8, 15:4. 2 Cf. OM 4:11 (on the Lapps); Strabo, III 5, 1. 3 Derived, in part verbatim, from Saxo, 1, VIII 16 (tr. Fisher, p. 31). The 'certain old man' was Odin. Whether Saxo conceived his bow as a crossbow or a longbow is open to question; OM takes it to be the former (ballista) at the end of OM 15:3. 4 OM's form is Periclymenes. 5 Metamorphoses, XII 556-8. OM has 'sagittas' for Ovid's 'figures'. Properly read, the line has nothing to do with archery but says 'to assume what shapes he wished and put them off (as it happens, a power also attributed to Odin). OM 15:2

1 The preceding is a rehash of Franciscus Irenicus, IV 25, with a cross-reference introduced by OM. Poisoned arrows are not known from early Scandinavia, cf. OM 7:2. The references are to Jordanes, V 43; Silius Italicus, Punica, 1 324-5 (reading the source's 'ut armiferis' for OM's 'in armiferis'); Ovid, Tristia, III 10, 63-4; Plutarch, Life of Marias, 25 (the Greek has 6u3oXicc, 'two-pointed'); the Procopius matter, abridged to the point of obscurity, is from V 27, 27-8, cf. VI 1, 9-10. 2 Cf.OM7:14. 3 OM repeats an error in Franciscus Irenicus, IV 25. Nazarius and Mamertinus (Mamortinus in OM) were different men, the one a panegyrist of Emperor Constantine, the other of Emperor Julian. 4 From John Major, Historia, fol. 131B. 5 Based onJMGSH, XVIII 9. The reference is to Suetonius, Domitian, 19. OM 15:3 The vignette goes with the story of Toki in OM 15:4. Toki is oddly dressed; the arrowretrieving dog is an extra. 1 From Suetonius, Domitian, 19, with minor variants. Domitian reigned AD 81-96. 2 Solinus, 8,7. Solinus does not specify which eye Aster hit. 3-3 From Saxo, 6, IV 9 (tr. Fisher, p. 168); the name is miswritten Auo' in OM. Cf. Saxo, II, p. 97, n. 23. 4 See OM 15:1 and n. 3 there. 5 Based on Strabo, XV 3, 8. The epitaph is also cited in Franciscus Patricius, De regno, III 6. OM 15:4 See the vignette to OM 15:3. ., 2-2 Largely verbatim from Saxo, 10, VII 1-3 (tr. Christiansen, pp. 10-12). Saxo's is


OLAUS MAGNUS: DESCRIPTION OF THE NORTHERN PEOPLES one of the oldest versions known of the widespread Tell legend. There are several parallels in Norse sources, see e. g. Christiansen's translation, pp. 172-3, n. 43. OM 15:5 1 The chapter is lifted with slight variations from Saxo, 10, XII4-5 (tr. Christiansen, pp. 24-5). The episode is from the battle of Svolder (Svol 6) when King 6lafr Tryggvason of Norway was defeated and lost his life, AD 999/1000. Cf. Christiansen's translation, p. 184, n. 80. OM 15:6

The vignette illustrates the chapter. 1 Particularly in towns of N. Germany and Holland, where shooting guilds were organized at an early date. 2 Cf. KL, XIII, cols 104-6. An edict of 1489 appointed Whit Monday as the day for a popinjay meet in Stockholm in a field especially prepared for it. 3 City guilds were involved in the organization of the Stockholm popinjay shooting match. On the blunt-headed arrows cf. the vignette above and those before OM 15:1 and 7:1. Retriever dogs are pictured in OM 15:1 and 3. 4 See OM 15:3. 5 See OM 7:15,9:28 and 37,15:3. OM 15:7

1 The chapter is from Herodian, I 15, 5-6, with some compression and omission. 2 So OM's Latin, 'sagittas limatae cuspidis', but Herodian has utivoeidag 'crescentshaped'. 3 Commodus, emperor AD 180-192, was poisoned, then strangled for good measure. OM 15:8

The vignette illustrates the latter part of the chapter. 1 Cf. Ziegler, Schondia, 1532, fol. 95v; Procopius, VI15,13-14. 2 1 May was the date of the 'May Lord' celebrations in the Hanse towns and generally elsewhere, though in Sweden they might also be associated with St Erik's day, 18 May. OM appears to be independent and arbitrary in going on to combine the May Day festivities and the battle of Winter and Summer. In 1519 and 1520 the symbolic battle in Aalborg in Denmark, for example, took place on the day after Ash Wednesday (10 March and 23 February respectively), with the 'May Lord' ceremonies on 1 May as usual; and it seems likely that the original notion was to help summer to an early start rather than merely to celebrate its arrival. The battle itself has been associated with the springtime arms muster of the local inhabitants. Cf. KL, XI, cols 251-52. 3 OM's 'hastisque focalibus' might well cover spits, toasting forks and suchlike. 4 Icicles in May in Stockholm and S. Sweden are unlikely. JG suggests that the Summer-Winter contest was perhaps only organized after exceptionally long winters, and was then substituted for May Day festivities. On 'heated cabins' cf. OM 1:21, n. 4. OM 15:9

1 This seems to represent a Shrovetide custom known from later times, in both Denmark and Sweden for example. 2 Mostly verbatim from Herodotus, II 121. Some of the matter associated with Rhampsinitus is probably to be referred to Rameses III, c. 1200 BC. Since the Egyptians had a year of three seasons, the symbolism attributed to the statues is dubious. OM 15:10

The vignette illustrates the chapter; the model adapted by OM was a print by Hans Sebald Beham, see Waldmann, Die Niirnberger Kleinmeister, pi. 14, nr 67. The cap of the man bottom right is part of the dress of commoners, pictured also in the vignettes to OM 11:38,14:9. 764


1 OM is describing midsummer festivals (cf. OM 13:4) and the adjective in his title, 'De Maialibus festis', is in line with the connotation of foliage and green boughs which the Sw. word maj can have. Maypoles (nowhere specifically mentioned by OM) were frequently left standing all the year round, decked with greenery on various festive occasions. Cf. KL, XI, cols 253-5. 2 The men and women probably formed separate chains for the ring-dance. OM 15:11

1 Cf. Franciscus Patricius, De regno, II 7 and 9. 2 Cf. Perottus, col. 953.

3 Running naked is known as a Shrovetide exuberance on the Continent but, not surprisingly, there is no trace of it in northern countries. 4 Cf. OM 13:42. The Augustine reference is to Civ. Dei, XIV 20. 5 See OM 13:42. OM's recollection of Plato, Laws, II654-6, is imperfect. 6 On OM in Gdansk see Introd., pp. xxx-xxxi. No other source seems to report the incident he describes. OM 15:12

The vignette illustrates the chapter, but the pair of players are not those we would expect from the first sentence. ' In 'in ludo Latrunculorum, seu Schacorum' OM appears to use no more than doublet terms, here rendered by the one word, 'chess'; cf. OM 6:18, n. 5,21:29. 2 Plato, Laws, 1649, A-B. OM 15:13

1 Chess could be played for money but it was not counted a game of hazard in the same way as cards and dice; cf. OM 14:26. Playing cards are first mentioned in European use in 1299. Sweden imported them in large numbers in the sixteenth century. Cf. KL, IX, cols 224-6 (on cards), XIX, cols 199-201 (on dice). 2 Based on Franciscus Irenicus, II 27. The references are to Tacitus, Germania, ch. 24, and P. Beroaldus (sen.), Opuscula, fols 138-45. 3 Clergy were not supposed to gamble but usually it was only games decided by dice that were specifically forbidden them. 4 Inaccurately from Vincent, Spec, hist., XXVI52. 5 Valla, III 15,10. Cf.OM 8:4. OM 15:14

The vignette illustrates the chapter in a schematic way. 1 Cf. OM 8:19,5:26. 2 On lances cf. OM 8:13, 15 and 23. The double breastplate probably refers to a cuirass worn over chain-mail. 3 Claus Boye was mayor of Stockholm 1521-3, Le. during the time OM was in the besieged city as priest in charge of Storkyrkan, cf. Introd., p. xxviii. He belonged to the Corpus Christi guild, of which OM acted as chaplain for three months in 1521 and became a member in 1522. The two men must have been well acquainted. On Ditmarsken cf. OM 9:27, n. 1. On the events of 1520 see OM 8:39-40; Introd., pp. xxi-xxii. OM 15:15

1 The anecdote was told in OM 13:40. It has not been traced in Krantz's work. 2 What OM is referring to is obscure. 3 Cf. OM 1:25. 4 OM is totting up examples, not quoting. Carrying a commander about as a military exercise can hardly be exemplified from Caesar. * The Justin reference is probably XX1,1-2. Cf. Suetonius, Augustus, 64,2. 765


The vignette illustrates the chapter in a general way. M Verbatim from Saxo, 7, X 11 (tr. Fisher, p. 228). 2 Cf.OM5:26. 3 OM almost certainly took the verse lines from Cicero, De officiis, 118, 61, though Ennius is not mentioned there. The latter line is in Ennius,Ajax, Frag. 22. Anyone who bathed in the spring of Salmacis became completely enervated; cf. Ovid, Metamor­ phoses, IV 285-7. *** Verbatim from Saxo, 2, VI10 (tr. Fisher, p. 55). OM 15:17

The vignette is made up of elements in the engravings before Cantos 1, 24 and 33 in 1549 prints of Orlando furioso. The picture here bears little relation to the following text. M Based on Saxo, 9, IV 30 (tr. Fisher, pp. 288-9), telling of the death of Hvitserk; partly verbatim. 2-2 With minor omissions from Franciscus Irenicus, IV 16. On influence of climate and stars cf. OM 19:23,20:25; OM 9: Pref. and 16:51. A 'triplicity' was a term for three signs of the zodiac taken together, i.e. a quarter of the heavens. The first reference is probably to 12,8 and 13,8 in the Summa astrologiaejudicialis, written in 1348 by John of Ashendon (Joannes Eschuid; loannes Eschendensis in OM). Lucan's lines are Pharsalia, I (not II as in OM) 458-62 (with the original's 'populi' read for OM's 'populos'). See Pseudo-Aristotle, Problems, XIV16. OM 15:18

The vignette is clearly derivative but its model has not been identified. It illustrates the chapter. 1 Tournaments known to have been held in the late medieval period in Sweden were in association with royal weddings, coronations and other state occasions (cf. OM 15:19). 2 Some of this is obscure. Cf. OM 5:26. Whether the silk fringes were trappings of the jouster or his horse is hard to say. 3 These tournament rules were universal. OM 15:19

The picture in the text is from an unidentified source. It is not directly related to the duels described in the chapter. 1 The meeting took place in 1277 or 1278. No other source says it was held at Skara. 2~2 With minor additions fromJMGSH, XX 5. The source was Erikskronikan, lines 1094-1125. 3 No source is known for this episode. OM probably heard it in Stockholm. OM 15:20

The vignette relates to the latter part of the chapter. The pointed lances show it is a serious fight, not a joust (cf. the tri-cuspid lances used for the latter in the vignette to OM 15:8). 1 No precise parallel to OM's description can be adduced. The reference is to Tusculan Disputations, V 38,112. 2 In ON sources Egill, a champion at the battle of Bravellir (cf. OM 5:8), has the nickname skjalgi, 'crooked; squinting'. In Saxo, 8, III 1 (tr. Fisher, p. 239), he is called 'luscus', 'one-eyed'. OM 15:21

The picture was used inJMGSH, I 27 and 32, and before OM 5:29. It is not directly relevant to the chapter. 1 No specific instance to account for this passage is known.



2 This is a widely attested tag, cf. Walther, Proverbia sententiaeque, IV, pp. 733-4 (nr 27621). 3 Cf.OM7:19. OM 15:22 The vignette illustrates the chapter. 1 This water-sport is not otherwise known in Sweden but is familiar from Germany, Denmark, and England (where in the fourteenth century it was said to have come from France). 2 On diving cf. OM 10:27,12:16. OM 15:23 The foreground of the vignette illustrates this chapter; the background illustrates OM 15:24. 1 OM writes 'inter nudos enses, & infestos gladios, seu frameas'. It is doubtful whether he made any distinction between these terms for sword; onframea cf. OM 14:4, n. 7. 2 OM's Latin is 'tempore ... Maschararum'. 3 Elements of OM's description are reflected in various features of European and British sword-dancing as known in later times. Cf. KL, XVII, cols 597-8. JG was convinced that the precision of the account showed that OM had been a sword-dancer himself, as the last sentence may also suggest. 4 From Strabo, X 3, 8, but derived from the Latin translation, whose text here departs considerably from the Greek; see e.g. the Latin ed. of 1549, p. 448. The Persians' contempt for the Curetes was on account of their beautifully combed hair, not their dancing. OM 15:24 1 See the vignette to OM 15:23. The bow-dance is comparatively widespread in Germanic countries, best known from Austria; KL, II, cols 456-7. 2 Reading 'inclusi' for 'inclusis' in OM. 3 This seems to describe some sort of pivoted contrivance of a see-saw kind. Acrobatics were usually classed with dancing in OM's time. 4-4 More or less unaltered from Perottus, col. 750. 'Vaulting' is for OM's 'ludus Petauristicus'. The noun petaurista is glossed variously as 'tumbler, vaulter, rope-dancer'. 5 A free rendering of a much discussed passage in Tacitus, Germania, ch. 24. 6 What dance OM meant is uncertain. In 'bellicrepae ... saltationes', 'dancing in armour', he makes use of a technical expression for a Roman weapon-dance, 'instituted by Romulus' according to Perottus, col. 525. 7 It is not known what led OM to his forty kinds of sport. The Herodotus reference may be to II60; the others are too vague to be helpful. OM 15:25 The vignette is an attempt to illustrate the chapter, though the principal does not appear to be armed (cf. the second sentence). 1 Latin 'De chorea hormica'. JG surmises that OM combined his reading of Ambrose, De officiis, I 47, § 227 (cf. n. 4 below), where he found the word OQUTJ, 'onrush, attack', with what he found in Perottus (cf. n. 2 below). He then arrived at a dance which he recognized as a Swedish sword-dance with a female role in it. 2-2 From Perottus, col. 517, referring to Lucian, V, The Dance, 12; Souog, 'necklace', clearly refers to the dance formation - Lucian says it reminds one of stringing beads. 3 Cf. OM 8:2,16:1. OM naturally thought of missions to the heathen as emanating 'a Latio', from Rome. *-* Pieced together from Ambrose, De officiis, 143, §§ 209-12. In the last sentence Ambrose says, 'One thing is appropriate for a youth, another for an old man ...' OM's omission of the latter phrase was probably inadvertent. 767


w Rather free from Ambrose, De officiis, 1 41, §§ 199, 201. 2-2 From Ambrose, De officiis, 138, §§ 188-9; with 'definire' (so Ambrose) read for OM's 'diffiniri'. 3 In OM 15:25. 4 Cicero, De officiis, 1 27. The quotation from Giulio Pomponio Leto (cf. OM 1:29, n. 12) has not been located in his works. OM 15:27 The picture, possibly modelled on one by the artist responsible for e. g. the vignette to OM 11:41, is intended to illustrate the chapter. 1 The 'Pyrrhic dance', performed in armour, is mentioned by various classical writers. OM appears to connect it specifically with dancing round fires, presumably because he linked the adjective with Greek JIUQ, 'fire'; etymologists regard this as a plausible ultimate derivation. From OM's following description it appears that it was not technically a ring-dance, but the dancers formed a mazy chain winding its way at speed round the watch-fires. 2 Caesar, Bell. Gall., 153. 3 See OM 11:10. 4 See a single sentence in SHA, Hadrian, 19,8, and not much more in Herodian, IV 2,9. OM 15:28 The vignette illustrates the instruments mentioned in the text. w From Saxo, 3, II1 (tr. Fisher, p. 69). 2-2 Mostly direct quotation of Saxo, 12, VI1-2 (tr. Christiansen, pp. 98-100), but with some abridgment and rearrangement. On the episode, 'which bears the marks of Saxo's invention', see Christiansen's translation, pp. 272-3, n. 26. 3 Cf. Saxo, 12, VII6 (tr. Christiansen, p. 104). King Erik died in Cyprus in July 1103. OM reads the queen's interment with him out of Saxo's statement that she died on the same pilgrimage. In fact she completed the journey to the Holy Land and died there. OM 15:29

1-1 From Perottus, col. 569. 2 This sentence is partly paraphrased from Vincent, Spec. hist., X 6 (cf. OM's marginal rubric; his Bk. IX is our Bk. X). The source was Suetonius, Nero, 22,3. 3 On these cf. OM 5:3 and 6. 4 Procopius, IV 6,29-30. OM 15:30

The vignette, from an unidentified source, illustrates the chapter. 1 OM writes 'organa hydraulica', 'water organs', but it is not safe to be specific because the expression continued to be used of the bellows organs that superseded them. 2 Reading 'amoenior' for 'amoenio' in OM. 3-3 From Isidore, Etym., XVIII 4, 1-4, with some rearrangement and omission. In the Propertius line, Elegies, IV1A, 13, OM changes 'ad verba' to 'ad arma'. The Virgil lines areAeneid, VIII 526, IX 503; OM's version of the latter is only approximate. 4-4 A generalization based on the episode in Saxo, 6, VIII 11 (tr. Fisher, p. 186). 5 From Cassiodorus, Var., X 31, 2. OM writes 'Gothicus' for 'Geticus' in the source. King Vitiges' letter was addressed to the Ostrogoths in AD 536. OM 15:31

The vignette illustrates this and the following chapter. 1 OM shares Saxo's scorn for players and jesters, cf. OM 5:3 and 6,15:29-30. 2 Cf. Suetonius, ed. Roth, p. 295 (among the Deperditorum librorum reliquiae), who 768

BOOK FIFTEEN must be the ultimate source. Both Decimus Laberius and Publius were patronized by Julius Caesar. See also Suetonius, The Deified Julius, 39, 2. The second Isidore reference should be toEtym., XVIII 42 and 49; he does not refer to Laberius and Publius. The Volaterranus reference is to pp. 671-2. 3 Valla, II 6, 2. Borra was the court jester of King Martin of Aragon (reigned 1395-1410). 4 Pliny, Nat. hist., XXXVI17, 82. 5 Pliny, Nat. hist., IX 59,122, answers to OM's first reference; his second, to Ch. 51, has not been traced. 6 This has been told before in OM 1:23. OM has Galerus for Gallienus. What Trebellius Pollio actually says is that the emperor always provided a second table near his own for actors and suchlike; see SHA, The Two Gallieni, 17,7. 7 Cf. Suetonius, Domitian, 10. 8 Vincent, Spec, hist., XXX 41, with reference to Philip II August of France (died 1223); Vincent's 'immolare' is read for 'immolari' in OM. Cf. OM 16:5. OM 15:32 1 On this paragraph cf. OM 5:3 and 6. 2 See OM 15:30. 3 Cf. OM 16:35. If the reference is accurate, OM must have written this in 1553. 4 Nothing else is known about this court jester. His name could be derived from an early German name like Suitger (> Schwicker) with the suffix -en (< -fhjart) substituted for final -er (commonly done, not least in Middle Dutch). OM willingly associated it with common Scandinavian svik, 'deceit, treachery'; svikare, 'deceiver, traitor'. 5 OM counts from Christian's coronation, 4 November 1520, to his departure from Sweden in mid-January 1521. OM 15:33 1 See OM 15:31-32. 2 The incidents referred to are unknown from other sources. Sten Sture was regent 1471-97 and 1501-3, succeeded by Svante Nilsson 1504-11. 3-3 Part paraphrased, part verbatim from Cassiodorus, Var., IV 51,9-10. 4 The sentence is from Cassiodorus, Var., 120,4. OM 15:34 1-1 Derived from Franciscus Patricius, De institutione, II 6 (fol. 29B). The ultimate source seems to be Valerius Maximus, II10,8, on Cato the Younger attending the festival of the Floralia in Rome in 55 BC. There is no warrant for 'Messalian' in the sources; it presumably results from corruption of some kind. It may be noted that the name of the aedile putting on the festival was Messius. 2 On offensive pictures cf. OM 6:3, 13:42 and 50. The reference to Gregory the Great is probably to hisEpistolae, App. X, lines 170-71. OM 15:35 The vignette illustrates the present chapter and in part OM 15:36. 1 Partly derived from Franciscus Irenicus, VIII43. 2 On bath-houses see KL, I, cols 384-7; Talve, 'Bastu och bastugor'. The city council of Stockholm had a certain monopoly in providing public baths with a charge for admission, but guilds ran baths of their own. We have no other evidence of baths in collective ownership in the countryside but there is no reason to doubt OM's report. 3 Cf.OM2:l. 4 The sauna of the Corpus Christi guild in Stockholm was divided as OM says, but it was not rural custom to separate the sexes, though they might take it in turns to use the bath-house. 5 From Franciscus Irenicus, VIII 43, whose source was Poggio Bracciolini, Letters, 1, nr 46. Poggio refers to Baden in Aargau in Switzerland, not to Baden-Baden.


OLAUS MAGNUS: DESCRIPTION OF THE NORTHERN PEOPLES 6 This seems to have been a ceremonial observed both in town and country, despite attempts to suppress it. The custom existed in Germany, and was widespread in E. Europe in later times. OM 15:36

1 OM is probably describing an upper-class occasion. 2 Rue, Rutagraveolens, was much used as a medicinal plant, in Sweden as elsewhere. It was also known as an ingredient in philtres. 3 Cf.OM14:14. 4 The existence of the scabies parasite was not known in OM's time. The man on the right of the vignette to OM 15:35 has cupping horns on his back. Cupping and bloodletting were common practice in the medieval world, governed by many calendar and medical rules. Barbers acted as the everyday surgeons of the time. Cf. KL, 1, cols 375-6, XX, cols 438-41. 5 Cf. the regime described in OM 15:14, ad fin. 6 Drawn from Pliny, Nat. hist., XI 96, 238. For the correct Poppaea OM has Pompeia. 7 With this solemn aside on asses and mules cf. OM 1:19. 8 Paulus Diaconus, V 33, says that Grimoald died in AD 671 when a bloodletting incision re-opened and he was then poisoned by his physicians. The generalization in parenthesis is based on Paulus Diaconus, V 37. 9 Derived from Jordanes, XLIH 228. Thorismund died in AD 453. Cf.JMGSH, XV 22.