Tales from Froissart

edited by Steve Muhlberger, Nipissing University

A feat of strength

Sir Espaign du Lyon tells Froissart another story of the impressive man-at-arms, Ernauton d'Espaign.

Book III, ch. 7 (Johnes, v. 2, p. 87).  "Holy Mary !" said I to the knight, "this bourg d'Espaign, is he so strong a man as you tell me?"

"Yes, that he is, by my troth," said he, " and you will not find his equal in all Gascony for vigour of body: it is for thus the count de Foix esteems him as his brother in arms.

"Three years ago, I saw him play a ridiculous trick, which I will relate to you. On Christmas-day, when the count
de Foix was celebrating the feast with numbers of knights and squires, as is customary, the weather was piercing cold, and the
count had dined, with many lords, in the hall. After dinner he rose and went into a gallery, which has a large staircase of
twenty-four steps: in this gallery is a chimney where there is a fire kept when the count inhabits it, otherwise not; and the fire is
never great, for he does not like it: it is not for want of blocks of wood, for Béarn is covered with wood in plenty to warm him if
he had chosen it, but he has accustomed himself to a small fire.

"When in the gallery he thought the fire too small, for it was freezing and the weather very sharp; and said to the knights around him, 'Here is but a small fire for this weather.' Ernauton d'Espaign instantly ran down stairs; for from the windows of the gallery, which looked into the court, he had seen a number of asses laden with billets of wood for the use of the house, and seizing the largest of these asses, with his load, threw him over his shoulders, and carried him up stairs, pushing through the crowd of knights and squires who were around the chimney, and flung ass and load, with his feet upwards, on the dogs of the hearth, to the delight of the count, and the astonishment of all, at the strength of the squire, who had carried, with such ease, so great a load up so many steps."

This feat of strength did I hear; and all the histories of sir Espaign du Lyon gave me such satisfaction and delight, I thought the
road was much too short.

The tales of Espaign du Lyon continue.

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