The Boy Vivien Is Whipped for Exchanging 100 Bales of Merchandise for Hounds and a Hawk

September 26, 2019

Vivien was the son of Garni d’Anseüne: the grandson of Amieri de Narbonne, and the nephew of the great William of Orange. But the poor Vivien, alas, was as a child handed over and delivered to the Saracens in order to preserve his father’s life, and the King Gormond, a Danish pirate, one day took possession of him, and sold him for a hundred marks to the wife of a merchant named Godfrey. This woman passed him off as her son, and attempted to give him a good education to fit him for a tradesman and a merchant.

But the old blood was in his veins—the old blood was there—the vocation was there, and the son, the grandson, the nephew of chivalrous heroes, Vivien, had only the tastes and appetites of the knight. The merchant said to him—

“I am about to teach you how to buy and sell!”

“No,” replied the youth, who was eight years old. “I do not want anything but a horse, two hounds, and a hawk!”

Photo by Magnus Manske.

He was so very anxious to possess them, and so determined, that on one occasion, when entrusted by the merchant with some negotiation in business, one fine morning he exchanged one hundred bales of merchandise for the much desired hounds and hawk. We need scarcely ask whether he was not beaten, but the blows could effect nothing, and with a simplicity worthy of a better cause, the child said to his patron who had beaten him—

“I assure you, my father, that these harriers are excellent animals!” That was the feudal youth all over!

León Gautier, Chivalry, trans. Henry Frith (London: George Routledge and Sons, Ltd., 1891), 144–5.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 693


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