chapter  2
9 Pages

LIFE AMONGST THE ARISTOCRACY

LOVE of show and magnificence was a feeling which pervaded society in the Middle Ages, and manifested itself in all kinds of ways. It may be seen in the pageants which graced civic rejoicings, and in the rites and ceremonies of various orders of knighthood. It can even be traced in the elaborate ritual of the Church, enhanced by music and singing. Perpendicular architecture, the most showy of all Gothic styles, is an embodiment of it. Chroniclers reflect the spirit of the Age in the evident pleasure they take in describing feasts and tournaments: they often pay more attention to them than to subjects which later historians might consider far more important. The Aristocracy, perhaps, exhibited this characteristic more fully than other classes, because they had more opportunity for display. A funeral does not suggest itself to us as a suitable occasion for show, but it was solemnized with great pomp in those days. No less than one hundred and sixty persons (apparently members of Sir John lIoward's household) went into mourning for Catherine, Lady Howard, and the quantity of food which was provided for the guests at the funeral was enormous. It included two great boars, twelve great oxen, forty sheep, twelve hogs,

twelve swans, eighty geese, and many other items. There were, in addition, three pipes of wine and thirtytwo barrels of beer. Nobles kept up great state and would not do anything which detracted from their dignity-the Duke of Suffolk was summoned to London by a letter of Privy Seal-a message which we should have expected him to think very urgent, but it happened that he had very few of his servants with him at the moment, and he would not go, because he thought it would not be " to his worship" to appear in London with a small retinue.