Monday, 13 December 2010

Wild service wood lances

In the Tornoiement de l’antechrist, a poem written in the 13th century in Old French by Norman writer  Huon de Mery there is a passage referring to lances made from the wood of the wild service tree, Sorbus torminalis (alisier in both Old and Modern French):

Lances orent fors et fretées/Qu’Aliance fist d’alisier:/ Et ot chascune fait lier/Le blanc penoncel de sa lance/A .IIII. freisiaus d’Aliance.

My Old French is virtually non-existent, but I have had a shot at translating this thus:

They had decorated lances which the Alliance had made of wild service wood: each one had tied the white pennant to his lance and the four Alliance ribbons.

If anyone can come up with a better version, I would be grateful.

This use of the wood for lances once again reinforces its shatter-proof qualities and also that there must have been a fair amount available for the manufacture of these weapons.

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