Coucy’s rabbits

 

St. Lewis [King Louis IX (1214-1270)] being returned to his kingdom applied himself to reform the disorders caused in it by his absence; and particularly in the administration of justice. He also took great pains to repress the injustice of the grandees, and the violences they exercised over their dependents.

The first act of justice done by him, was upon Jugeramus or Engueran de Coucy, one of the greatest lords of Flanders.

Three children of quality in Flanders, that were brought up in the abby [sic] of St. Nicholas, went to hunt rabbits in a wood belonging to the sieur de Coucy. The keepers having catched [sic] them, they put them in prison, and then informed their master of what they had done; who without having any regard to their rank, their age, of the innocence of the action, cased them all to be hang’d.

The abbot of St Nicholas complained of this to the king, and demanded justice of him. The king sent for the sieur de Coucy, who being come into his presence, refused to answer to the accusation, and demanded in quality of baron to be tried by the peers of France, who were his natural judges.

The king ordered examination to be made whether he had the title of baron; and it was found that he had not: his ancestors having borne it, not as lords of Coucy, but of Gourmay, of which Eungeran de Coucy was not now in possession, having given it to his brother: whereupon the king ordered him to be imprisoned in the castle of the Louvre, and directed him to be tried by the ordinary judges, He also signified his desire to have him judged with all severity and even condemned to death; but he at last relented at the prayers of the other barons, who besought him to spare the life of Coucy, and subject him only to an amerciament, the payment of which deprived him of the greater part of his estate.

The king employed this money in building and endowing two chapels, in which mass was to be performed to ever for the souls of the three children: besides which, he also built several hospitals with it, and the churches and monasteries of Cordeliers and Dominicans at Paris.

 

In “The Normal Opportunity of the Provençal Troubadour,” a fragment for the unfinished project Gironde, Pound states:

"There are three ways of ‘going back,’ of feeling as well as knowing about the troubadours, first, by way of the music, second, by way of the land, third, by way of the books themselves, for a manuscript on vellum has a sort of life and personality which no work of the press attains. The Ambrosian library possesses a MS (R71 superiores), a thoroughbred, with clearly written words and music, which contains the extant tunes of Arnaut Daniel. Another MS (Fonds fr. 20050) in the Bibliothèque Nationale at Paris, a small quarto with music, is so very old that it might have been carried by some late singer on the road; while Ms fr. 856 is fat, like a dictionary and was certainly made for reading. And there is Ms. Fr 844, the courtly book in which the authors are arranged by rank and precedence: Anjou, Navarre, the Canon, the Chastelaine, Sire Morisses de Creon, Gilles de Beaumont with his hand on his heart – for they are all pictured in the capitals with their arms and blazons- Jehans de Louvois with his lance, Couci with rabbits in the margin, Mesire Bouchers de Malli, proper nights [sic] all, and Tiebaus de Blason. It is a book to set young girls thinking, for surely we have all this array to show us that a tempting singer need not lack of necessity goods lands and houses. Ms. Fr 854 is among the most clearly written and contains the razos, or notes of biography and explanation. From it I quote or abridge the great part of what follows.” (A Walking Tour 84)

 

Reference

Chalons, Manuel. The History of France: From the Establishment of that Monarchy Under Pharamond, to the Death of Lewis XIII. London: Dodsley, 1752. Google Books, n.d. Web. 15 August 2015.

Pound, Ezra. A Walking Tour of Southern France. Ed. Richard Sieburth. New York: New Directions, 1992.