A Defense of My Deeds While Wrongly Imprisoned in Maxstoke Castle

A Defense of My Deeds While Wrongly Imprisoned in Maxstoke Castle

By Sir Guy of Warwickshire

To Edward of Woodstock, Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall, Prince of Aquitaine,

 The Greatest of the Black Boars, does your lowly servant Sir Guy of Warwickshire

Sendeth his most humble of greetings,

When I was of late (Most Gracious of Princes) for a while conversant with you at the Monastery at Glastonbury Abbey, we conferred together of divers things concerning Chivalry, Honor and the Arts of Warfare.  I took great pleasure in our conversation, and the many revelations your speech bestowed upon me concerning the Noble and Gentle Arts that evening.

It is my humble and most gracious wish that you recall this fine evening of conversation that we shared, as we sat across from each other at the chess table, and matched wits with pawns, bishops, King and Queen.  For that evening, Your Highness did grace my ears with the words, “Good Sir Guy of Warwickshire, never before have I met a Knight whose Chivalry and Grace did exceed your own.”  It is with these words that I wish you to recall my nature, and it is precisely these words that I wish you to hold close to your heart as I relate my tale of wrongful persecution.

I seek your aid My Prince.   I have been the subject of a most vile and dreadful court.   I have been imprisoned against my will, and for following the very code of Chivalry that we discussed long into the night that evening.   I wish for you to hear the Defense of my Deeds which led to me being so wrongfully imprisoned in Maxstoke Castle.

I  –  Concerning the Theft  of the Mayor of Norwich’s Prize Horse

It was a cold September morning, no more than seven autumns past, when I found myself traveling south for the Michaelmas Tourney in the lovely town of Norwich.  I was accompanied by my most ardent Squire, Symon of Ipswitch.   You may recall that Symon did charge valiantly into the French lines at that little skirmish at Najera, only to take an arrow to his left eye not five feet from clashing into the enemy and skewering one of their foot soldiers as he toppled from his steed, to lie dead on the ground for the rest of the day.   It was this fine lad who did ride with me to the Michaelmas Tourney.

“Symon, I wonder if you would be so kind as to pass me that fine bottle of spiced wine which we picked up at the market just yesterday,” I asked my faithful squire.

“Sir Guy, it would be my pleasure to hand you the wine, for I have it close at hand, but I would like to remind you that my name is Jeremy,” replied Symon.

“Thank you Symon,” I replied.   The spiced wine was exactly what I needed for so cold and blustery a morning.   The cool refreshment of the drink was precisely the cure for the headache and curdled stomach which the previous evening of drinking had left me with.

“Sir, do you think it wise to begin drinking wine so early in the day?” queried my ardent squire.

“Symon,” I began.

“Jeremy Sir,” he interrupted.

“Symon, you will please me much if you would  stop with this, Jeremy, foolishness,” I said.

“Yes Sir,” he replied.

“Now then, as I was saying, a man held in thrall to the King of England as I myself am, being a Knight of said King, must ever be vigilant to his cause.   I find myself most wrung out due to the excessive amount of ale that Sir Barrowstone forced upon my person last evening.   I have it on good authority that the cure for being most wrung out due to excessive drinking of ale is to follow up the next morning with a judicious amount of spiced wine.   Why do you think I bought the spiced wine in the first place Symon?   Really.  You need to think these things through.”

“Yes Sir.  Sorry Sir,”  replied Symon.

The country road to Norwich was a hard packed dirt affair, with two shallow ditches on either side to divert rain water.   Vast fields of grasses and flowers stretched off to the East, and an old forest stretched off to the west.   Ancient oaks reached out their limbs to each other, stifling off undergrowth due to the shade from their leafy canopy.   Somewhere in the distance the echo  of birdsong could be heard.

I finished the bottle of wine and tossed the empty vessel out amongst the trees.  It clattered across the roots and dried leaves until it found a resting place against a moss covered boulder.   No doubt some poor forest dweller would discover it and find some use for it.  My largesse truly knows no bounds.

At this point in my tale, I find myself at a loss for words.   My true and valiant steed, Saint George, chose this very instant to tumble down upon the road, and give his ghost back to the Holy Father.  Being the able horseman that I am, I landed surefooted to the side of my noble steed, and watched sorrowfully at him gasp out his last few breaths.   A noble war horse, it breathed its last.

“I told you to feed her Sir,” said Symon.

“Symon!  Enough of this!  Saint George was fasting in an effort to purge his soul of foul humors,” I said. “I have told you this some twenty times at least this past week.   The Lord Almighty obviously saw the goodness in his heart and called him forth to heaven.”

“Sir, you can’t expect a horse to fast for a week and survive,” said Symon.

“Symon, I have need of your horse,” I said.

“What?  I’ve had good old Polly for five years.   We’re pals we are,” said Symon.

“Enough of this foolishness Symon.  Please remove yourself from my trusted steed,”  I said.

Symon looked around for a moment.   I had the slightest of thoughts that he may try to ride off and steal my horse, but he bowed his head and removed himself from my saddle.

“That’s a good lad.   Please if you would, remove the riding accoutrements from that carcass and follow along with them please,” I said.

My new horse was quite a valiant beast.   It was black, with a thick mane that somebody had braided into many long plaits.

“You shall be Saint John,” I said.

“Her name is Polly,” said Symon.

“Nonsense.   Anyone can tell that his name is Saint John,” I replied.

“Polly is a girl,” said Symon.

“You have so much to learn my young charge,” I replied.

While it may seem like I digress, the truth of the matter is that I most certainly do not digress.  The aforementioned description of the passing of my most valiant steed is intended to show the certain malease I was under upon entering the town of Norwich.   My heart was torn by the death of Saint George, a most noble beast indeed.   Yet, even though I was greatly warmed at heart by the gait of my new horse, Saint John ,  I still found myself riding though the southern gates of Norwich on an example of the equine species which was most unfit for the tilting of lances.  I began to ponder ways to rectify the situation whilst my worthy squire Symon of Ipswitch did erect our Pavilion upon the list field.

“Symon, given the state of Saint John, what would you suggest as an answer to my current dilemma?” I asked.

“Sir?” responded Symon as he looked up from hammering steel bars into the ground.

“It is a test Symon.   You must give a real answer,” I replied.

“Well, Polly, uh, I mean Saint John is no horse fit for the joust,”  said Symon.

“Yes, yes.   I am aware of Saint John’s shortcomings Symon.   But how do we solve the problem presented before us?”

Symon looked about the fairgrounds which were laid out beyond the southern gates of Norwich.   He was a bit hesitant about his answer, which, seemed so against his nature.   If you had seen him charge headlong into the fray at Najera as I did, you would not think the man capable of naught but impulsive actions.

“I suppose Sir, that I could search out a stable master in Norwich and purchase you a new Horse,” replied Symon.

“Excellent Symon!  Yes.  A quest indeed!  I must place my faith in the Lord and go forth upon a quest to find a beast most worthy.  I must say Symon, you are indeed progressing well along the path,” I said.

“Thank you Sir,” replied Symon.

Knowing that I must cleanse myself physically and spiritually in order to begin such a quest, I removed my chain hauberk and gambeson, as well as my weaponry and underclothes, and placed them all in Symon’s worthy care.   The fall afternoon was brisk.

“Sir,” said Symon. “If I may be so bold to ask, why are standing in the campsite naked?”

“Symon, you know better.   I must cleanse myself in yonder pond.   I must wash away my sin if I am to begin a quest to find a noble steed.”

“Sir,” said Symon. “The ladies in yonder field are all looking over in this direction with gazes most astonished.”

“Of course Symon,” I responded.  “I am an astonishing man.”

At this point I strolled over to the pond which lay some thirty feet from the camp and stepped in the waters.   It was most cold.   I bore the pain of the icy water and did not even grimace as I waded deep within its murky depths.  As my chest slipped under the water I exalted the Lord God,  his Majesty the King of England, the current Pope, whoever he may be, and I plunged my head within the waters seven times in total.  Finally, I felt purged of sin, and returned to the pavilion.

“Sir, you have some sort of pond reeds in your hair, Sir,”  said Symon.

“Symon, retrieve my white linen tunic and drape it upon my person,” I said.  “I must not be disturbed as I begin my quest.”

“Yes Sir,” said Symon.

Symon did bedeck me in my fine white tunic.   Dressed in so virginal a garment I set forth barefoot upon my journey.  If the Lord God did see fit to pierce my feet with barbs and sharp rocks, I would stare down these challenges with a face most fierce.  For my face was set in a fierce way.

I must take a moment and comment upon humility.   You must understand that if it was not for my unfortunate imprisonment within Maxstoke Castle, I would never be setting this tale to paper.  It is not my intent to brag about my most noble and pious ways.   I merely wish to show that the charges which were laid against me are most false, and those that would lay said charges against one of your most worthy and gentle Knights are base and churlish individuals.   I face churlishness.   I face it, and in facing it, I must put my humility aside to press my defense, for no Lawyer of Maxstroke did so for your most humble servant.

On my knees.  I made judgment that in order to satisfy the Lord God Almighty, I must partake of my quest while on my knees.   The fact that my feet were cut and scraped from the most horrid terrain of Norwich had no bearing upon my decision.   So, upon hands and knees I crossed not only the fairgrounds, but an adjoining apple orchard.   I crossed almost half a league on my quest.  By the time I reached a split rail corral on the opposite side of said orchard, I knew not if I recalled the way back home, nor how many hours, nay, months I had been at my deed.

All my struggles were not for naught.   Upon reaching the corral, I spied the most noble of beasts.  Standing a good twenty five hands in height was the most glorious of horses my eyes have ever espied in the many years I have graced the world with my presence.  The Stallion was pure white in color with a mane of long flowing locks which trailed behind it as it trotted around the corral.   I found that the Lord took notice of my pain and suffering and decided my quest was over.  He graced me with this fine steed.

I approached the valiant war horse and whispered in its ear, “You my fine friend, are Saint Benedict Joseph Labre, are you not?”

I rode Saint Benedict Joseph Labre back to my pavilion.   When I arrived, I leapt from his back, and fed him one of the apples from the apple orchard which we passed though on the way back to the camp.

“Sir,” said Symon. “That appears to be Rocinante, the Mayor of Norwich’s horse.”

“Nonsense Symon,” I said. “This fine steed is Saint Benedict Joseph Labre.   He was gifted to me by God.  My quest was quite successful.”

“I see,” replied Symon.

The joust proceeded upon the following daybreak.  While I did not win the tourney, I managed to unseat many a fine man at arms that day, and did win their most excellent steeds and coat armour.   Symon and I led a veritable pack mule train of horses loaded with arms and armour from Norwich the following Sunday.  I must say, that I am astonished that the Mayor of Norwich claims I stole his horse.  I never even met the man upon our stay in his fine town, but I did notice the evil glares the man sent in my direction during my tilts at the list.  I fear he is a most vile specimen, and none of his words should be given weight.

In service to England,

Your most humble servant,

Sir Guy of Warwickshire

(Story by Lord Dante della Luna (Matt Broadway) with permission to post it here.


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