_The second story, related by Duke Philip, is of a young girl who had
piles, who put out the only eye he had of a Cordelier monk who was
healing her, and of the lawsuit that followed thereon._
In the chief town of England, called London, which is much resorted to
by many folks, there lived, not long ago, a rich and powerful man who
was a merchant and citizen, who
beside his great wealth and treasures,
was enriched by the possession of a fair daughter, whom God had given
him over and above his substance, and who for goodness, prettiness,
and gentleness, surpassed all others of her time, and who when she was
fifteen was renowned for her virtue and beauty.
God knows that many folk of good position desired and sought for her
good grace by all the divers manners used by lovers,--which was no
small pleasure to her father and mother, and increased their ardent and
paternal affection for their beloved daughter.
But it happened that, either by the permission of God, or that Fortune
willed and ordered it so, being envious and discontented at the
prosperity of this beautiful girl, or of her parents, or all of
them,--or may be from some secret and natural cause that I leave to
doctors and philosophers to determine, that she was afflicted with an
unpleasant and dangerous disease which is commonly called piles.
The worthy family was greatly troubled when they found the fawn they so
dearly loved, set on by the sleuth-hounds and beagles of this unpleasant
disease, which had, moreover, attacked its prey in a dangerous place.
The poor girl--utterly cast down by this great misfortune,--could do
naught else than weep and sigh. Her grief-stricken mother was much
troubled; and her father, greatly vexed, wrung his hands, and tore his
hair in his rage at this fresh misfortune.
Need I say that all the pride of that household was suddenly cast down
to the ground, and in one moment converted into bitter and great grief.
The relations, friends, and neighbours of the much-enduring family came
to visit and comfort the damsel; but little or nothing might they profit
her, for the poor girl was more and more attacked and oppressed by that
Then came a matron who had much studied that disease, and she turned and
re-turned the suffering patient, this way, and that way, to her great
pain and grief, God knows, and made a medicine of a hundred thousand
sorts of herbs, but it was no good; the disease continued to get worse,
so there was no help but to send for all the doctors of the city and
round about, and for the poor girl to discover unto them her most
There came Master Peter, Master John, Master This, Master That--as many
doctors as you would, who all wished to see the patient together, and
uncover that portion of her body where this cursed disease, the piles
had, alas, long time concealed itself.
The poor girl, as much cast down and grieved as though she were
condemned to die, would in no wise agree or permit that her affliction
should be known; and would rather have died than shown such a secret
place to the eyes of any man.
This obstinacy though endured not long, for her father and her mother
came unto her, and remonstrated with her many times,--saying that she
might be the cause of her own death, which was no small sin; and many
other matters too long to relate here.
Finally, rather to obey her father and mother than from fear of death,
the poor girl allowed herself to be bound and laid on a couch, head
downwards, and her body so uncovered that the physicians might see
clearly the seat of the disease which troubled her.
They gave orders what was to be done, and sent apothecaries with
clysters, powders, ointments, and whatsoever else seemed good unto them;
and she took all that they sent, in order that she might recover her
But all was of no avail, for no remedy that the said physicians could
apply helped to heal the distressing malady from which she suffered, nor
could they find aught in their books, until at last the poor girl, what
with grief and pain was more dead than alive, and this grief and great
weakness lasted many days.
And whilst the father and mother, relations, and neighbours sought for
aught that might alleviate their daughter's sufferings, they met with
an old Cordelier monk, who was blind of one eye, and who in his time
had seen many things, and had dabbled much in medicine, therefore his
presence was agreeable to the relations of the patient, and he having
gazed at the diseased part at his leisure, boasted much that he could
You may fancy that he was most willingly heard, and that all the
grief-stricken assembly, from whose hearts all joy had been banished,
hoped that the result would prove as he had promised.
Then he left, and promised that he would return the next day, provided
and furnished with a drug of such virtue, that it would at once remove
the great pain and martyrdom which tortured and annoyed the poor
The night seemed over-long, whilst waiting for the wished-for morrow;
nevertheless, the long hours passed, and our worthy Cordelier kept his
promise, and came to the patient at the hour appointed. You may guess
that he was well and joyously received; and when the time came when he
was to heal the patient, they placed her as before on a couch, with her
backside covered with a fair white cloth of embroidered damask, having,
where her malady was, a hole pierced in it through which the Cordelier
might arrive at the said place.
He gazed at the seat of the disease, first from one side, then from the
other: and anon he would touch it gently with his finger, or inspect the
tube by which he meant to blow in the powder which was to heal her, or
anon would step back and inspect the diseased parts, and it seemed as
though he could never gaze enough.
At last he took the powder in his left hand, poured upon a small flat
dish, and in the other hand the tube, which he filled with the said
powder, and as he gazed most attentively and closely through the opening
at the seat of the painful malady of the poor girl, she could not
contain herself, seeing the strange manner in which the Cordelier gazed
at her with his one eye, but a desire to burst out laughing came upon
her, though she restrained herself as long as she could.
But it came to pass, alas! that the laugh thus held back was converted
into a f--t, the wind of which caught the powder, so that the greater
part of it was blown into the face and into the eye of the good
Cordelier, who, feeling the pain, dropped quickly both plate and tube,
and almost fell backwards, so much was he frightened. And when he came
to himself, he quickly put his hand to his eye, complaining loudly, and
saying that he was undone, and in danger to lose the only good eye he
Nor did he lie, for in a few days, the powder which was of a corrosive
nature, destroyed and ate away his eye, so that he became, and remained,
Then he caused himself to be led one day to the house where he had met
with this sad mischance, and spoke to the master of the house, to whom
he related his pitiful case, demanding, as was his right, that there
should be granted to him such amends as his condition deserved, in order
that he might live honourably.
The merchant replied that though the misadventure greatly vexed him, he
was in nowise the cause of it, nor could he in any way be charged with
it, but that he would, out of pity and charity, give him some money, and
though the Cordelier had undertaken to cure his daughter and had not
so done, would give him as much as he would if she had been restored to
health, though not forced to do so.
The Cordelier was not content with this offer, but required that he
should be kept for the rest of his life, seeing that the merchant's
daughter had blinded him, and that in the presence of many people, and
thereby he was deprived from ever again performing Mass or any of the
services of the Holy Church, or studying what learned men had written
concerning the Holy Scriptures, and thus could no longer serve as a
preacher; which would be his destruction, for he would be a beggar and
without means, save alms, and these he could no longer obtain.
But all that he could say was of no avail, and he could get no other
answer than that given. So he cited the merchant before the Parliament
of the said city of London, which called upon the aforesaid merchant to
appear. When the day came, the Cordelier's case was stated by a lawyer
well-advised as to what he should say, and God knows that many came to
the Court to hear this strange trial, which much pleased the lords of
the said Parliament, as much for the strangeness of the case as for the
allegations and arguments of the parties debating therein, which were
not only curious but amusing.
To many folk was this strange and amusing case known, and was often
adjourned and left undecided by the judges, as is their custom. And
so she, who before this was renowned for her beauty, goodness, and
gentleness, became notorious through this cursed disease of piles, but
was in the end cured, as I have been since told.