Be patient, husband, and feel this no slight

Another trouvère song, short enough that I’m going to do it in both languages…

Soufrés, maris, et si ne vous anuit,
Demain m’arés et mes amis anuit.
Je vous deffenc k’un seul mot n’en parlés.
— Soufrés, maris, et si ne vous mouvés. —
La nuis est courte, aparmains me rarés,
Quant mes amis ara fait sen deduit.
Soufrés, maris, et si ne vous anuit,
Demain m’arés et mes amis anuit.

Be patient, husband, and feel this no slight
T’morrow I’ll love you, my lover tonight
I’ll not hear one word more of your lost face
— Be patient, husband, move not from this place —
So brief’s the night and soon we shall embrace
When my love’s had his good fill of my grace
Be patient, husband, and feel this no slight
T’morrow I’ll love you, my lover tonight

-Rondeau from Songs of the Women Trouvères, No.50, pp 184-186
English poetic translation written by Cobflaith ingen Sitriucca meic Ímair
©2018 Robin Lea Fritche

DOSS-QUINBY, E., GRIMBERT, J., PFEFFER, W., & AUBREY, E. (Eds.). (2001). Songs of the Women Trouvères. Yale University Press. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1npsv4

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Northshield Turns

I started this song in 2016 or 2017 (I think the former, maybe at Pennsic), but I stopped one line short of finishing and just rediscovered and finished the song today! My first fighty Northshield song.

What will you do
To defend what is yours
Will you fight first with words
Follow through with the sword
Show your foes the sharp teeth
In your strong iron jaw
That your power is terrible
And your truth is the law

The time is now
Your sovereigns are calling you
Northshield warriors, hold this ground
Let this battle be a fearsome example
How Northshield turns the story around

What will you give
To keep your kin safe
Will you offer your life
To the twistings of fate
Will you muster your soldiers
To fight Kingdom’s cause
Will you join with your sovereigns
To give your foes pause

The time is now
Your sovereigns are calling you
Northshield warriors, hold this ground
Let this battle be a fearsome example
How Northshield turns the story around

What will you learn
From impossible odds
If you are a Northshielder
All is not lost
You will trust in the courage
Your countrymen share
Fill your heart with the urgency
As the Griffon takes air

The time is now
Your sovereigns are calling you
Northshield warriors, hold this ground
Let this battle be a fearsome example
How Northshield turns the story around

What will you find
On the battlefield here
Your brothers and sisters
Of bow, sword, and spear
Together, this army
This people, this land
Will show all the Known World
The strength of our stand

The time is now
Your sovereigns are calling you
Northshield warriors, hold this ground
Let this battle be a fearsome example
How Northshield turns the story around

©2018 Robin Lea Fritche

For my own heart’s sake I will sing

This is my version of a trouvère song I rather like. I rewrote the English translation to fit the music and poetic form of the original. Trouvères were poet-composers in northern France in the 12th-13th centuries. This particular song is thought by some to have been composed by a woman. 

For my own heart’s sake I will sing
To inspire comfort inside
In midst of my great suffering
Death or madness shan’t abide
When I see no soul returning
From that barbarous divide
He whose name my heart calm will bring
Where is he and what betide?

Oh God, when they cry out, “Charge, charge!”
Help the pilgrim ‘neath your rule
My fear for him grows so large
And the Saracen are cruel

I will suffer in this sad state
Until I see him return
For this pilgrimage is his fate
As is mine for him to burn
All my kin urge me not to wait
Though I do not wish to spurn
My sweet love for a new life mate
Fools, always so slow to learn

Oh God, when they cry out, “Charge, charge!”
Help the pilgrim ‘neath your rule
My fear for him grows so large
And the Saracen are cruel

What gives my heart most grievous pain
Is his absence from this land
He, the one for whom my heart strains
How much more shall I withstand?
He is handsome; I am not plain
Lord God, why, with your own hand
Have you parted us? For what gain
When desire we share so grand?

Oh God, when they cry out, “Charge, charge!”
Help the pilgrim ‘neath your rule
My fear for him grows so large
And the Saracen are cruel

What remains to give me some hope
Is the homage I recieved
From my love, and when the wind blows
From that sweet land, I perceive
His footprints on some distant slope
I turn toward him and believe
I can feel him ‘neath my grey cloak
And his kiss I can retrieve

Oh God, when they cry out, “Charge, charge!”
Help the pilgrim ‘neath your rule
My fear for him grows so large
And the Saracen are cruel

That I could not bid him farewell
When he left, was my dismay
But the shirt he wore bears his smell
My love sent it me that day
And when with me love does not dwell
When bereft of him, I lay
His shirt down beside me a spell
‘Gainst my naked skin, and pray

Oh God, when they cry out, “Charge, charge!”
Help the pilgrim ‘neath your rule
My fear for him grows so large
And the Saracen are cruel

-Chanson de croisade (“Chanterai por mon corage”) from Songs of the Women Trouvères, No.27, pp 141-146
English poetic translation written by Cobflaith ingen Sitriucca meic Ímair ©2018 Robin Lea Fritche

DOSS-QUINBY, E., GRIMBERT, J., PFEFFER, W., & AUBREY, E. (Eds.). (2001). Songs of the Women Trouvères. Yale University Press. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1npsv4

Bastard William the Bold

It is often said that history is written by the victors, but concerning the Norman conquest of England, this has not been the case. I rectify that now.

Who is this man who came to conquer England?
What right has he to that country and crown?
Clearly he’s strong and his will cannot be altered
Clearly he’s bold, by his ruthless renown

Commonly born to an undertaker’s daughter
Bastard and only son of Robert fair
In Norman society this was no great hindrance
William was raised up as Normandy’s heir

Edward was childless and Edward was kin
Edward had promised succession to him
Harold had sworn in a church to uphold
William as heir – Bastard William the Bold

William was raised with his royal exile cousins
While their own mother served as Cnut’s queen
Alfred and Edward (the future Confessor)
Sheltered by Normandy, life in between

At seven years, William assumed his father’s station
Subjects and kin thought to seize their own power
All his protectors were picked off around him
New regents were self-appointed that hour

Edward was childless and Edward was kin
Edward had promised succession to him
Harold had sworn in a church to uphold
William as heir – Bastard William the Bold

Though in his youth he conceded to his regents
A decisive warrior he was at fifteen
With loyal half brothers as closest companions
William constructed his martial machine

Often at odds with the grasping Count of Anjou
And the French King, who feared William’s great might
Anjou had seized Alençon near the border
Hands and feet lost for rebellion that night

Edward was childless and Edward was kin
Edward had promised succession to him
Harold had sworn in a church to uphold
William as heir – Bastard William the Bold

Meanwhile, the exiles had met with differing fortunes
Alfred was murdered and Edward enthroned
Controlled by Godwin and his extended family
The king wished his heir be blood kin of his own

Promises, oaths, were given to Duke William
Perhaps under duress in Harold’s case
Not being English, to William an election
Cannot trump blood kin and oaths and God’s grace

Edward was childless and Edward was kin
Edward had promised succession to him
Harold had sworn in a church to uphold
William as heir – Bastard William the Bold

The Godwins said on his deathbed the King chose Harold
Thus he was chose by the power in the land
The Pope gave his banner out in support of William
A clashing of cultures essentially planned

One fateful day two armies came together
And by the end Harold had lost his life
Whether by arrow or cold assassination
William took England piece by piece, night by night

Edward was childless and Edward was kin
Edward had promised succession to him
Harold had sworn in a church to uphold
William as heir – Bastard William the Bold

The maiming in Alençon was no act of passion
Rather the work of a devious brain
Make an example and all will fall before you
Could this have ended any other way?

©2018 Robin Lea Fritche

Inspiration

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Inspired by King Rhys and Queen Gwenhwyvar, Sovereigns of Northshield, and presented at Northshield Pennsic court, August 11, 2016, AS LI.

This was my first attempt at writing in a mode (Phrygian).

At War, the kings gather to discuss strategy
Some think queens on the battlefield inspire only
There are kingdoms with sovereigns who in all aspects rule
In collaboration, as my queen and I do

My queen is a warrior – we fight side by side
Our generals respect her fierceness and pride
But none more than I – she is more than my heart
And these words I spoke to her from our reign’s very start

Our next reign, my love, we will win by your arm
I’ll be your inspiration, as you’ve been mine thus far
As the seasons turn, love, we’ll see our kingdom grow
Let the Known World discover what we already know

We are both more than martial – we create and we serve
There’s no one definition that reflects all our work
We find similarities in subjects and kin
And when we achieve unity, as a kingdom, we win

Before we were sovereign, we were partners in all
These crowns alter not the shape of our call
When my queen wins Crown Tournament, nothing will change
We’ll rule with the same fire that unites us today

Our next reign, my love, we will win by your arm
I’ll be your inspiration, as you’ve been mine thus far
As the seasons turn, love, we’ll see our kingdom grow
Let the Known World discover what we already know

Inspiration can be more than an ideal held high
And apart from the people – inspiration unites
What we accomplish together strengthens every bond
And we’ll lead by example – let the Known World respond

Our next reign, my love, we will win by your arm
I’ll be your inspiration, as you’ve been mine thus far
As the seasons turn, love, we’ll see our kingdom grow
Let the Known World discover what we already know

©2016 Robin Lea Fritche

King’s Daughter, King’s Sister, King’s Mother

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This song is based upon the lives of St. Adela of Normandy (daughter of William the Conqueror and sister of Henry I) and her husband, Stephen II, Count of Blois. Their son, Stephen, succeeded Henry I as King, usurping the right of Henry’s daughter, Matilda. Matilda’s son, Henry II, succeeded Stephen. Just to give you a little context. 😉 Also, details about these two are fuzzy, so I did the best I could!

The King’s daughter, she married me
As was her duty
Fifteen and still blooming, in the flow’r of her youth
Twenty years senior, I
Was heir to my father’s line
And in his name already ruling our lands
The Princess was Countess ere ten years had passed

The King’s sister she was then
Her father had met his end
Our fam’ly grew richer with daughters and sons
The Holy Land called my name
For glory, faith, wealth, and fame
For four years, I led men to die in the sands
I feared the siege fruitless – I returned to France

The King’s sister felt my disgrace
Desired that I save my face
My dear wife, so hon’rable, pious, and wise
I could not bear to shame her so
To Palestine I did go
That Crusade was won ere my comp’ny arrived
I remained for the Battle of Ramla and died

The King’s sister, my Lady
I prayed she forgave me
My last thoughts were for her and the child in her womb
In this strange land, far from home
A life at last worth a poem
My eyes lost the light and I called forth her voice
If only to scold me – lament not my choice

The King’s mother was canonized
Some years after her demise
After many moons ruling all I left behind
My children and my lands
All prospered in her hands
She saw our son crowned ere she went to our Lord
A saint and an angel

King’s daughter
King’s sister
King’s mother

No more

©2016 Robin Lea Fritche

Power

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This song is about the Battle of Hastings and the events that led up to it. The “disturbance in the sky” mentioned in this song is Halley’s Comet, thought by some to be a warning sign regarding the expected succession. It had appeared earlier that year.

The disturbance in the sky portended trouble 
The Confessor left the land without an heir
So much blood was savage-spilled
Between these men who all were kin
Deeper than the bond of blood runs power

In the absence of a clear successor
Harold Godwinson was chosen to be king
His brother Tostig cried dissent
And with Norway’s monarch went
To slaughter Englishmen at Fulford
(Let us sing)

CHO:

In five days more at Stamford Bridge, another battle
Harold’s Saxons triumphed and his foes were slain
With only William left to fight
King Harold marched south with his might
Gathering forces as he went
(Join the refrain)

CHO:

It’s said at 9 a.m. the Hastings battle started
Between two hills, a land blessed well with trees
The English shield wall on high ground
Duke William’s archers did confound
The Normans failed to break through
(Sing with me)

CHO:

When the Normans turned to flee, the English followed
Their arrogance rewarded swiftly when they turned
The English died in the their pursuit
Not once, but twice they thought it truth
Shot through the eye, King Harold died
(What have we learned?)

CHO:

The Conquerer is what we call King William
Who invaded English soil to slay his kin
With untold thousands’ lives he paid
For the throne he won that day
We feel his power yet in our lives
(Sing again)

CHO:

Deeper than the bond of blood runs power

©2015 Robin Lea Fritche 

Matilda, 1140

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The throne is mine
My living brothers are all bastards
The throne is mine
The nobles swore to it twice
If Stephen the Oath-breaker thinks he’s safe, he’s not
For the throne is mine, the throne is mine

At eight years old a queen, I made Germany my home
With twenty thousand silver marks to help Heinrich subdue Rome
The Pope made him Emperor with unwilling hands
In four years, we were wed; in fifteen, Heinrich was dead

My brother, William, five years earlier, King Henry’s chosen heir
Had drowned crossing the channel; too much wine the culprit there
I went home a widow; Father’s new wife bore no sons
And all the nobles fought to be the first to swear I was the one

CHO:

To strengthen our border to the south of Normandy
I must wed the heir to Anjou, my Royal Father had decreed
A fifteen-year-old peacock was never my choice
I’m a woman who has ruled, yet I seem to have to have no voice

After years of estrangement and Father’s maneuvering
The nobles swore again support for my right to succeed the King
I rejoined my husband and bore two healthy sons
Yet Father still refused to give my husband castles he had won

CHO:

I was far away in Anjou when I heard the King was dead
My cousin Stephen seized the treasury, put the crown upon his head
I took the castles denied us, but had to stop to bear a son
By the time I had recovered, Stephen’s treachery was done

I got a foothold in my country; my brother Robert joined my quest
After five years of battle, the pretender we did best
The Lady of England was the title given me
As Stephen rotted in his chains, I proclaimed my sovereignty

CHO:

In two years’ time, my mother, the great Matilda, was betrayed
She fled to safety with her knights, and Stephen once more King was made
But she never gave up and she fought anew for me
And she raised me up a warrior to defeat our enemy

We claimed Normandy as ours and closed in on Stephen’s men
Stephen feared our might, so a treaty we did pen
He remained King until death, as we allowed
Then, after nineteen years of bloodshed, King of England I was crowned

The throne is mine
My mother fought for our birthright
The throne is mine
That is why I shall be known
As Henry FitzEmpress, son of the great Matilda
The throne is mine, the throne is mine
The throne is mine, the throne is mine

©2014 Robin Lea Fritche

I Have to Believe

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I am no maiden waiting for her soldier to return
I am older, though no wiser, and I still have worlds to learn
I spend much of my time alone and I’ve been often spurned

But I have to believe there’s a place for me
There’s a place for me, I have to believe

I am no high-born Lady; in no arts have I been trained
I stumble through each detail and my smiles are sometimes strained
I often don’t know what to say and I feel my lack is plain

But I have to believe there’s a place for me
There’s a place for me, I have to believe

I am no singer worthy of the accolades of all
I can only write my feelings, though my life be very small
The words I choose may not please you; they may not please the Hall

But I have to believe there’s a place for me
There’s a place for me, I have to believe
Yes, I have to believe there’s a place for me
There’s a place for me, I have to believe
I have to believe
I have to believe
I have to believe

©2013 Robin Lea Fritche

Lusche’s Song (Hedge Knight)

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Some would call him King
And deem his justice swift and fair
Some would call him Knight
And proclaim his prowess rare
I might call him Poet
For the words he doles with care
But in truth I call him Love
His love is with me everywhere

“I am but a hedge knight”
Said my lord when we first met
And were he still a simple hedge knight
He’d ensnare me in his net
A hedge knight might have little more
Than honor, some would say
Well, in his heart he’s still that hedge knight
And he honors me every day

My lord is sweet to look upon
My lord is made of smiles
When he is pleased, he radiates
And all the world beguiles
My lord is true and mighty
The strongest fighter on the field
But with me my lord is gentle
And I cannot help but yield

“I am but a hedge knight”
Said my lord when we first met
And were he still a simple hedge knight
He’d ensnare me in his net
A hedge knight might have little more
Than honor, some would say
Well, in his heart he’s still that hedge knight
And he honors me every day

My lord recognizes
All the work his subjects do
His attention might be subtle
But be assured he does see you
He sings for the unsung
And praises with a giving heart
Whether in court or on battlefield
Or ’round the fire after dark

“I am but a hedge knight”
Said my lord when we first met
And were he still a simple hedge knight
He’d ensnare me in his net
A hedge knight might have little more
Than honor, some would say
Well, in his heart he’s still that hedge knight
And he honors me every day

Yes, a hedge knight might have little more
Than honor, some would say
Well, in my heart he’s still that hedge night
And he honors me every day

©2013 Robin Lea Fritche