Wednesday, 6 May 2009

with the hair hanging down to the girdle

"Now approached the day when, on November 17, the tournament was to be held. … About twelve o'clock the Queen with her ladies placed themselves at the windows in a long room of weithol [Whitehall] palace, near Westminster, opposite the barrier, where the tournament was to be held. From this room a broad staircase led downwards, and round the barrier stands were arranged by boards above the ground, so that everybody by paying 12d. could get a stand and see the play. … Many thousand spectators, men, women and girls, got places, not to speak of those who were within the barrier and paid nothing. During the whole time of the tournament all who wished to fight entered the list by pairs, the trumpets being blown at the time and other musical instruments. The combatants had their servants clad in different colours; they, however, did not enter the barrier, but arranged themselves on both sides. Some of the servants were disguised like savages, or like Irishmen, with the hair hanging down to the girdle like women; others had horse manes on their heads; some came driving in a carriage, the horses being equipped like elephants; some carriages were drawn by men, others appeared to move by themselves; altogether the carriages were of very odd appearance. Some gentlemen had their horses with them, and mounted in full armour directly from the carriage. There were some who showed very good horsemanship and were also in fine attire. The manner of the combat each had settled before entering the lists. The costs amounted to several thousand pounds each. When a gentleman with his servant approached the barrier, on horseback or in a carriage, he stopped at the foot of the staircase leading to the Queen's room, while one of his servants in pompous attire of a special pattern mounted the steps and addressed the Queen in well-composed verses or with a ludicrous speech, making her and her ladies laugh.

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