Christmas message from Kynge Richard (relayed by Sir John Mandeville)
O, gentils, yt hath been a long monthe or so. After I was in Whitby on the kinges privee businesse I was y-called north into Scottelond for to deliver a secree diplomatic bagge unto on of kynge Richardes operatives. Thys operacioun was much en secret, and fro New Castle unto the Scottish Sea and til myn retourn ynto Carlisle I was sworn to verray silence.
Nathelesse, I have retourned fro beyond the borders of Yngelonde, and I am now in Grassington, a smal toun in Yorkshirre, a moost pleasaunt litel toun yn whych to celebrate our hooly saviour's birth. Grassington hath a moost charmaunt lytel Christmas fair, at whych place I bought a handy compas and some tall bootes.
And I certaynly neede bootes. What I was in Scotteland Englelonde received muchel rain, so much so that woodpyles the kyngedom over became sothly soaked, and there be but lytel dry wood to burn. The Englyssh people beeth nat happy, and verray cold.
Thysse being Christmas, Kynge Richard addressed the kyngedom, hys royal address being delivered unto every shires ende by his cryers, oon of whom came unto Grassington. The rayn lette uppe two dayes ago (angels of grace be thonked!), so I was oute-syde, shewing a tapster I have be-frynded the use of the compas when the cryer y-came into toun. Promptly he shewed to alle of us there assembled a true and verray ymage of Kynge Richard--but Kynge Richard was depicted some mannere of odd doublet all y-made and y-stuffed wyth wool, and he was wearing lytel mittens two.
"Heere ye, heere ye," sayde the cryer. "Thys is the true and verray ymage of your kynge, Richard, secound since the conquest!" And the following be hys wordes, as far as I can recall:
RICHARD, by the grace of God of Engelonde and Fraunce kynge, prince of Wales, and lord of Ireland, to alle, greetynges. Faythful lieges, I knowe thatte we have been tested by our lorde God in heaven as of late--the greet raynes, and the lakke of fire-wood, the wych is winteres fuel. Until yowr stores of woode have dried outte I beseech yow alle to emulate me, to weare the thickestte and moost warme doublets and smockes that yow have and to ration whatte wood yow have. Eeche of us can do a parte for the kingedomes good through conservacioun.
I knowe that there beeth unrest yn the kingdom. Myne reportours fro alle the shires end have y-told me so. The people are coold, they saye, and yowre kynge hath heard yow. Be nat afrayd namoore.
Litle by litle we can and we moost rebuild our confidence. We can spend until we empty our cofres, and we may summon all the powre of our armies. But we can succeed only if we tap our greatest resources -- Engelondes people, Engelondes values, and Engelondes confidence. Feere nat, stay hoome, and dress warmly. Happy Christmas from yowre kynge, Richard, atte Eltham.
This was nat exactly whatte we wanted to heere, but we beeth loyal to oure kynge, and we dyde nat burn no woode thys evening. Instead we uncorked the laste of the summer wyne and made mury as best we could.
Happy Christmas alle, and to bed wyth me.