The Squire of Low Degree


STC 23111.5
Brown and Robbins 1644, Ringler 23111.5 and TP 979. Sigs. A1-2, A 7-8 only. Ptd. W. E. Mead, _The Squyr of Lowe Degre_ (Boston, 1904), 2-6, 16-22. Complete text from STC 23112 ptd. Joseph Ritson, _Ancient English Metrical Romances_, 3 (1802), 145-92; Mead, 3-46; Donald B. Sands, _Middle English Verse Romances_ (New York, 1966), 249-78; _Middle English Metrical Romances_, ed. W.H. French and C.B. Hale, 2 vols. (New York, 1964), II, 721-55. No MS. extant (Brown and Robbins). UMI microfilm reel 483

Here begynneth vndo your dore
London: W. de Worde,[1520?].

Composition Date: ante 1500 [Ringler, MED].

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¶Here begynneth vndo your dore.

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IT was a squyre of lowe degre
Yt loued the kynges doughter of hungre
Yt squyre was curtes and kynd
Eche man hi loued and was his frende
5 He serued the kynge her fader dere
Fully the tyme of seuen yere
For he was marshall of his hall
And set the lordes bothe grete and small
An hardy man he was and wyght
10 Bothe in batayll and in fyght
But euer he was styll mournynge
And no man wyst for what thynge
And all was for that fayre lady
The kynges doughter of hungry
15 There wyst no wyght in crystente
How well he loued that lady free
He loued her more than seuen yere
Yet was he of loue neuer the nere
He was not ryche of golde and fe
20 A gentylman borne for sothe was he
To no man durst he make his mone
But syghed sore hym_self alone
And euer_more whan he was wo
Into his chambre wolde he go
25 And throughe the chambre he toke the way
In_to a garden that was full gaye
And in that gardyn as I wene
Was an arbor fayre and grene
And in that arbor was a tree
30 A fayrer in the worlde myght none be
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The tree it was of cypresse
The fyrste tree that Ihesu chese
The soeherne-wode and the sykamoure
The rede rose and the lely floure
35 The boxe the beche and the laurell tree
The date and also the damyse
The fylberdes hangynge to the grounde
The fygge-tree and the mapyll rounde
And other trees there were many one
40 The pyany the popeler and the playne
With brode bra[u]nches all aboute
Within the erber and eke withoute
On euery braunche satte byrdes thre
Syngynge with grete melodye
45 The laueroke and the nyghtyngale
The ruddocke and the woodwhale
The pye and t[he p]opyngaye copytext damaged here and in two lines following
The throstell [san]ge bothe nyght an daye
The martele[n an]d the wrenne also
50 The swalowe wyppynge to and fro
The Iaye Iangled them amonge
The larke began that mery songe
The sparowe spredde her in the spraye
The mauys sange with notes full gaye
55 The nothawke with her notes nuwe
The sterlynge set her notes full trewe
The goldefynche made full mery chere
Whan she was bente vpon a breer
And many other foulces mo
60 The osyll and the thrushe also
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But leue of that stewarde here
And speke we more of that squyere
How he to his chambre wente
Whan he past fro that lady gente
65 There he arayed him in scarlet reed
And set his chapelet on his heed
A belte aboute his sydes two
With brode barres to and fro
A horne aboute his necke he caste
70 And forthe he wente than at the laste
To do his offyce in the hall
Amo[n]ge the lordes grete and small
He toke a whyte yerde in his hande
Before the kynge than he gan stande
75 And soone he set him on his kne
And serued the kynge full ryally
With deynte metes that were dere
With partryche pecocke and plouer
With byrdes in the brede ybake
80 The tell the ducke and the drake
The cocke the curlue and the crane
With fesauntes fayre there where no wane
Bothe storkes and turtes there were also
And venyson feesse of bucke and do
85 And other deyntes many one
For to sette afore the kynge anone
And whan the squyer had doone so
He serued the hall bothe to and fro
Eche man hym loued in honeste
90 Hye and lowe in theyr degre
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So dyde the kynge full sodenly
And he wyst not wherfore nor why
The kynge behelde the squyer well
And all his reymente euery dele
95 Hym_thought he was the semelyest man
That euer in the worlde he sawe of than
Thus sate the kynge and ete ryght nought
But on his squyer was all his thought
Anone the stewarde toke good hede
100 And to the kynge full soone he yede
And soone he tolde vnto the kynge
All theyr wordes and theyr wowynge
And how she hyght hym lande and fe
Golde and syluer gete plente
105 And how she sholde his leue take
And become a knyght for her sake
And thus they talked bothe in fere
And I drewe me nere and nere
Had I not come in veryly
110 The squyer had layen her by
But whan he was ware of me
Full fast a_waye gan he fle
That is southe lo here is my hande
To fyght with hym whyles I maye stande
115 The kynge sayd to the stewarde tho
I maye not be_leue it sholde be so
Hath he be so bonayre and benynge
And serued me syth he was y[o]nge
And redy with me in euery nede
120 Bothe trewe in worde and eke in de[d]e dede] deee 1560
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I maye not leue by nyght nor daye
My doughter dere he wyll betraye
Nor not to come her chambre nye
That fode to fonde with no folye
125 Toughe she wolde to hym consente
That louely lady fayre and gente
I trowe hym so well withouten drede
That he wolde neuer do that dede
But yf he myght that lady wynne
130 In weddelocke to welde withouten synne
And yf she wyll assente hym tyll
That squyere is worthy to haue none yll
For I haue seen that many a page
Haue become men by maryage
135 Then it is semly to that squyer
To haue my doughter by this manere
And eche man in his degree
Become a lorde of ryaltee
By fortune and by other grace
140 By herytage and by purchase
Ther_fore stewa[r]de beware here_by stewarde] stewade 1560
Dyffame hym not for none enuy
It were grete ruthe he sholde be spylte
Or put to dethe withouten gylte
145 And more reuth of my doughter dere
For chaungynge of that ladyes chere
I wolde not for my crowne so newe
That lady chaunged hyde or hewe
Or for to put thy solle in drede
150 But thou myght take theym with that dede
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For yf it maye be founde in the
That thou them fame for enuyte
Thou shalte be taken as a felon
And put full depe in my pryson
155 And fetered fast vnto a stone
Tyll xii. yeres be comen and gone
And drawen with hors throught this cyte
And soone hanged vpon a tree
And yf thou may thy_selfe excuse
160 This dede thou shalte no waye refuse
And therfore Steward take good hede
How thou wylte answere to this dede
The stewarde answered with grete enuy
That I haue sayd I wyll stande therby
165 To suffre dethe and endlesse wo
Syr kynge I wyll neuer go therfro
For yf that ye wyll graunt me here
Strength of men and grete powere
I shall hym take this same nyght
170 In chambre with your doughter bryght
For I shall neuer be gladde of chere
Tyll I be venged of that squyere
Than sayd the kynge full curteysly
Unto the stewarde that stode hym by
175 Thou shalte haue strength ynough with the
Men of arm[e]s .xxx. and thre armes] armrs 1560
To watche that lady moche of pryce
And her to kepe frome her enmyes
For there is no knyght in crystente
180 That wolde betraye that lady fre fragment ends here