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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).>br>Volume I. From the Beginnings to the Cycles of Romance.

XVII. Later Transition English

§ 7. The Turnament of Totenham

The literary needs of those who were familiar with the “romances of prys” in which deeds of chivalry were enshrined, and who, with the author of Sir Thopas, could enjoy parodies of them, were met by such salutary tales as The Turnament of Totenham. A countryside wedding, preceded by the mysteries of a medieval tournament, is described by Gilbert Pilkington, or by the author whose work he transcribes, in language that would be well understood and keenly appreciated by those of lower rank than “knight and lady free.” It is an admirable burlesque; rustic laddies contend not only for Tibbe the daughter of Rondill the refe, but for other prizes thrown in by the father:

  • He shalle have my gray mare [on which Tibbe “was sett”],
  • And my spottyd sowe:
  • and, therefore, Hawkyn and Dawkyn and Tomkyn and other noble youths “ffro Hissiltoun to Haknay,” “leid on stifly,” “til theyre hors swett,” with much “clenkyng of cart sadils” and many “brokyn hedis,” and
  • Woo was Hawkyn, woo was Herry,
  • Woo was Tomkyn, woo was Terry
  • when they sat down to the marriage feast of the winner. The Tale of Thopas exercises its useful office with a rapier; if The Turnament of Totenham performs its duty with a cudgel, the result, so far as the victim is concerned, is none the less effective.