Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sir Thomas de Longueville (2)


Sir Thomas appears in a number of histories, but in all but the Barra legend he is said to be a native of France. The name is associated with the lands of Kinfauns in Perthshire, where a Sir Thomas uses the name of Charteris. Some accounts give this as his real family name, but others say he married the heiress to Kinfauns, and took her family name.
If the Barra legend refers to the same Sir Thomas he did in fact survive the battle (if he were actually there), and went on to serve Robert I well. One story has him as the first man to follow Robert into the moat of Perth castle, when they took it by stealth, in 1313. It was for this action that Robert is said to have granted him the lands of Kinfauns.


Barbour describes the events at Perth thus:


And when the king thaim hard nocht ster
He was blyth on gert maner,
And his ledder in hand gan ta
Ensample till his men to ma,
Arayit weill in all his ger
Schot in the dik and with his sper
Taistyt till he it our-woud,
Bot till his throt the watyr stud.
That tyme wes in his company
A knycht off France wycht and hardy,
And quhen he in the watyr sua
Saw the king pas and with him ta
His ledder unabasytly,
He saynyt him for the ferly
And said, ‘A, lord, quaht sall we say
Off our lordie of Fraunce that thai
With gud morsellis fayrcis thar pawnce
And will bot ete and drink and dawnce
Quhen sic a knycht and sa worthy
As this throu his chevalry
Into sic perell has him set
‘To win a wrechyt hamillet.’
With that word to the dik he ran
And our efter the king he wan,
And quhen the king’s menye saw
Thar lord out-our intill a thraw
Thai passyt the dik and but mar let
Ther leddrys to the wall thai set
And to clymb up fast pressyt thai,
Bot the gud king as I herd say
Was the secund man tuk the wall
And bad thar till his mengye all
War cummyn up in full gert hy.

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And when the king heard them not stirring
he was extremely pleased,
and took his ladder in his hand,
to show an example to his men.
Well armed in all his gear,
he plunged into the ditch,
and with his spear
tested as he waded over
but the water reached up to his throat.
At that time there was in his company
a knight of France, a strong and bold [man];
and when he saw the king go into the water thus,
and take his ladder with him without hesitation,
he crossed himself in wonder,
and said, ‘Ah, Lord what shall we say
of our French lords,
always stuffing their bellies with good food,
willing only to eat drink and dance,
when such a knight, so noble as this one,
by his chivalry,
has put himself in danger,
to win a wretched hamlet.’
With that he ran to the ditch,
and made it over after the king
and when the kings company saw
their lord cross over,
in a crowd they crossed the ditch,
and without more hindrance set their ladders to the wall,
and hastened to climb up fast.
But the good king, as I heard tell,
was the second manwho took the wall,
and waited there till his company
had come over with all speed


Barbour’s The Brus – Lines 387 – 419
From the Canongate 1997 Edition: Edited by A.A.M. Duncan

So if the French knight was in fact Sir Thomas, he may well have, like Mark Twain commented :

“The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated”

I will conclude the story of Sir Thomas, with the assistance of one of Scotland’s (and arguably, the world’s) literary geniuses, in the next post.

2 comments:

Aniela said...

What a delightfully rich tale you are sharing with us. The blog is a top notch history lesson, dear brother. Will you publish it in bound cover?
Love to you,
Aniela
PS The Mark Twain comment is so apropos.

Alastair Langwell said...

I'm fairly certain that this French Knight, Sir Thomas de Longueville is my ancestor. I still have his name - Langwell