Chalngs-Boasts-art - 12/3/00
"Challenges and Boasts: A Compendium and Guide" by Michael and Elizabeth Labbe-Webb.
This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set
of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.
These files are available on the Internet at:
Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author.
While the author will likely give permission for this work to be
reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first
or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.
Mark S. Harris
AKA: Stefan li Rous
stefan at florilegium.org
Challenges and Boasts: A Compendium and Guide
By Michael and Elizabeth Labbe-Webb
"Now a courtier should understand about seeking restitution and the conduct of disputes, and he should be skilled in seizing the advantage, and in all this he must show both courage and prudence. Nor should he be too anxious for these engagements, save when his honour demands it; for, as well as the considerable danger that an uncertain outcome brings with it, whoever rushes into these things precipitately and without urgent cause deserves to be gravely censured, even if he is successful. However, when a man has committed himself so far that he cannot withdraw without reproach then both in the preliminaries and in the duel itself he should be very deliberate. He should always show readiness and courage; he should not behave like those who are always quibbling and arguing over points of honour, and when they have the choice of weapons, select those which can neither cut nor prick, arm themselves as it they had to face a cannonade, and thinking it enough if they are not defeated, retreat all the time and keep on the defensive, giving proof of utter cowardice, and in this way making themselves the sport of children." - Baldesar Castiglione, April 1528
Some time ago, my Lady and Myself were asked to judge a challenge competition. Two things in particular were blatantly obvious during this contest. The first was that most of the participants were reluctant to perform this particular task and the second was that a large number of people apparently think that the only way to issue a challenge is to be extremely insulting ("You have dishonored my sister, etc, etc. Prepare to die!)
While challenges by their very nature are at least somewhat insulting, they need not be openly degrading and they certainly don't need to be repetitious or boring. They can be very direct ("Meet me behind the Luxemborg at one o'clock and bring a long box.) or they can be subtle ("Come, Sirrah, let me open you up and see if you have any 'inner qualities' worth revealing to the world"). Remember also that boasts can be challenges as well.
There are many examples set for us in the literature of the period and not a few excellent examples from more modern times. I have chosen a few from various sources to use as a template for the fighter in the current Middle Ages. I hope you enjoy them and that they prove to be of use.
Lord Mikal Isernfocar called IronHawk and Lady Lisette de Labbe St. Tronde.
Michael and Elizabeth Labbe-Webb
6726 Axtel Dr.
Canal Winchester, OH 43110
mlabbewebb at yahoo.com
CHALLENGES and BOASTS
NOTE: Many of the texts have been modified from the original in order to clarify the challenge language.
SHAKESPEARE - Author's note: I have not tried to get all of Shakespeare's works into this collection but have instead tried to include passages from the more famous ones plus some excellent examples from a few of the more obscure works.
As You Like It
Orlando - "The spirit of my father grows strong in me and I will no longer endure it: therefore allow me such exercises as may become a gentleman. Draw your sword."
Orlando - "I beseech you, punish me not with your hard thoughts: Wherein I confess me much guilty, to deny so fair and excellent ladies anything. But let your fair eyes and gentle wishes go with me to my trial; wherein if I be foil'd there is but one shamed that was never gracious; if kill'd, but one dead that is willing to be so; I shall do my friends no wrong, for I have none to lament me; the world no injury, for in it I have nothing; only in the world I fill up a place, which may be better supplied when I have made it empty if I cannot best this braggart I now challenge."
Orlando - "An you mean to mock me after, you should not have mockt me before, but come on your ways and draw your sword."
Jacgues - "Provide that you weed your better judgements of all opinion that grows rank in them. I must have liberty withal, as large a charter as the wind,to blow on whom I please; and they that are most galled with my folly, they most must laugh. Give me leave to speak my mind and I will through and through cleanse the foul body of the infected world, if they will patiently receive my medicine. And if you will not, sir, then draw your blade."
Orlando - "You touched my vein at first: the thorny point of bare distress hath ta'en from me the show of smooth civility; yet am I inland bred, and know some nurture. But forbear, I say: He dies that touches any of this fruit (gesture with sword) til I and my affairs are answered."
Phebe - "I would not be thy executioner: I fly thee, for I would not injure thee. Thou tell'st me there is murder in mine eye: Tis pretty, sure, and very probable, that eyes - that are frail'st and softest things, who shut their coward gates - should be call'd tyrants, butchers, murderers! Now I do frown on thee with all my heart; and if mine eyes can wound, now let them kill thee: or else shall I with my sword."
Phebe - "Who might be your mother, that you insult, exalt, and all at once, over the wretched? Must you be therefore proud and pitiless? Nay, 'tis instead my blade which shall be pitiless."
Touchstone - "God ild you, sir; I desire of you the like. I press in here, sir, amongst the rest of the country copulatives, to swear and to forswear; and with blood to break all bonds."
Hamlet - "A man worth the name ought greatly to find quarrel in a straw when honour's at the stake."
Hamlet - "Thou pray'st not well. I prithee take thy fingers from my throat, for though I am not splenitive and rash, yet I have in me something dangerous, which let thy wisdom fear. Hold off thy hand."
Hamlet - "Why, I will fight with him upon this theme until my eyelids will no longer wag."
Hamlet - "What is the reason that you use me thus? I loved you ever - but it is no matter. Let Hercules himself do what he may, the cat will mew and the dog will have his day."
Hamlet - "'Tis dangerous when the baser nature comes between the pass and fell incensed points of mighty opposites."
Hamlet - "You have popped in between th'election and my hopes, thrown out your angle for my proper life, and with such cozenage - is't not perfect conscience to quit you with this arm?"
Horatio - "Your purse is empty already, all your golden words are spent. So, draw and lay on."
Hamlet - "If it please you, it is the breathing time of day with me; let blades be brought, if you are willing. I will win an I can, if not, I will gain nothing but my shame and the odd hits."
Hamlet - "I am constant to my purposes. If your fitness speaks, mine is ready; now or whensoever, provided I am as able as now."
Laertes - "I am satisfied in nature, whose motive in this case should stir me most to my revenge; but in my terms of honour I stand aloof, and will no reconcilment till by some elder masters of known honour I have a voice and precedent of peace, to keep my name ungored. But till that time I do receive your offered love like love and will not wrong it."
Hamlet - "I will embrace you freely, and will this brother's wager frankly play. Give us the blades. Come on."
Hamlet - "Come, you do but dally. I pray you pass with your best violence; I am afeard you make a wanton of me."
2nd Citizen - "Be not out with me, sir: but if you be out, sir, I can mend you. With my blade as an awl shall I be surgeon to recover you."
Cassius - "I do observe you now of late: I have not from your eyes that gentleness and show of love as I was wont to have: You bear too stubborn and too strange a hand and do offend me."
Cassius - "I have much mistook your passion: By means whereof this breast of mine hath buried thoughts of great value, worthy cogitations and so shall I bury my blade; in your breast."
Brutus - "What a blunt fellow are you grown to be! You were quick to mettle when you went to school."
Cassuis - "Cassuis from bondage will deliver Cassius: Therein, ye gods, you make the weak most strong; Therein, ye gods, you tyrants do defeat; nor strony towers, nor walls of beaten brass, nor airless dungeon, nor strong links of iron, can be retentive to the strength of spirit; but life, being weary of these worldly bars, never lacks power to dismiss itself. If I know this, know all the world besides, that part of tyranny that I do bear I can shake off at pleasure."
Casca - "Be facetious for redress of all these griefs; and I will set this foot of mine as far as who goes farthest."
Caesar - "I must prevent thee these couchings and these lowly courtesies, sweet words, low-crooked curt'sies and base spaniel-fawning. If thou does bend, and pray and fawn, I spurn thee like a cur out of my way. Know, Caesar doth no wrong; not without cause will he be satisfied."
Brutus - "Let us bathe our hands in blood up to the elbows and besmear our swords: Then walk we forth, even to the market-place and, waving our red weapons o'er our heads, Let's all cry, 'Peace, freedom, and liberty!'"
Brutus - "Fret till your proud heart break; Go show your slaves how choleric you are, and make your bondsmen tremble. Must I budge? Must I observe you? must I stand and crouch under your testy humour? By the gods, you shall digest the venom of your spleen, though it do split you; for, from this day forth, I'll use you for my mirth, yea, for my laughter, when you are waspish."
Brutus - "You say you are a better soldier: Let it appear so; make your vaunting true, and it shall please me well: for mine own part, I shall be glad to learn of noble men."
Cassius - "Do not presume too much upon my love; I may do that I shall be sorry for."
Octavius - "Come, away! Defiance we hurl in your teeth; If you dare fight today, come to the field; If not, when you have stomach."
KING HENRY IV, Part II
Servant - "I pray you , sir, then set your knighthood and your soldiership aside; and give me leave to tell you, you lie in your throat, if you say I am any other than an honest man."
Falstaff - "You scullion! You rampallian! You fustilarian! I'll tickle your catastrophe."
Lord Chief Justice - "You speak as having power to do wrong; but answer in the effect of your reputation, and satisfy my wrong."
Falstaff - "You are no swaggerer. A tame cheater, in faith, I may stroke you as gentle as a puppy greyhound and you'll not swagger with a Barbary hen whose feathers turn back in any show of resistance."
Doll Tearsheet - "You cut-purse rascal! You filthy bung, by this wine, I'll thrust my knife in your mouldy chaps an you play the saucy cuttle with me. Away, you bottle-ale rascal! You basket-hilt stale juggler, you!"
Shallow - "By cock and pie, sir, you shall not be excused. I will not excuse you; excuses shall not be admitted; there is no excuse shall serve; you shall not be excused, so draw!"
KING HENRY V
"O for a Muse of Fire, that would ascend the brightest heaven of invention, - A kingdom for a stage, princes to act, and monarchs to behold the swelling scene! Then should we warlike assume the port of Mars; and at our heels should honor, sword and fire crouch for employment."
King Henry - "We are glad the Dauphin is so pleasant with us; His present and your pains we thank you for: When we have matcht our racquets to these balls, We will, in France, by God's grace, play a set. Shall strike his father's crown into the hazard. Tell him he hath made a match with such a wrangler That all the courts of France will be disturb'd with chases. .... tell the Dauphin, I will keep my state, be like a King and show my sail of greatness .... tell the pleasant prince, this mock of his hath turn'd his balls to gun-stones and his soul shall stand sore charged for the wasteful vengence that shall fly with them ... tell the Dauphin, I am coming on, To venge me as I may and to put forth My rightful hand in a well-hallow'd cause."
Nym - "I am not a Barbason (name of a demon), you cannot conjure me. I have an humour to knock you indifferently well. If you grow foul with me, I will scour you with my rapier, as I may, in fair terms: if you would walk off, I would prick your guts a little, in good terms, as I may: and that's the humor of it."
Pistol - "O braggart vile and damned furious wight. The grave doth gape and doting death is near: Therefore exhale." (i.e. draw your last breath)
Nym - I will cut thy throat, one time or another, in fair terms: that is the humour of it."
Duke of Exeter - "For the Dauphin, Scorn and defiance; slight regard, contempt, and anything that may not misbecome the sender. For your bitter mock, he'll call you to so hot an answer of it, That caves and hollow vaultages of France shall chide your trespass and return your mock."
King Henry - "... In peace there's nothing so becomes a man as modest stillness and humility: But when the blast of war blows in our ears, then imitate the action of the tiger; Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood, disquise fair nature with hard-favor'd rage; then lend the eye a terrible aspect.... Dishonour not your mothers; now attest that those whom you call father did beget you! Be copy now to men of grosser blood and teach them how to war!"
Fluellen - "When there is a more better opportunity to be required, look you, I will be so bold as to show you I know the disciplines of war, and there is an end."
King Henry - "Go, bid thy master well advise himself: If we may pass, we will; if we be hindered, We shall your tawny ground with your red bloood discolour: and so, fare you well. The sum of our answer is but this. We would not seek a battle, as we are: Nor, as we are, we say, we will not shun it."
King Henry - "I should be angry with you, if the time were convenient.
Michael - "Let it be a quarrel between us, if you live."
Henry - "Give me any gage of thine, and I will wear it in my bonnet: then if ever thou darest acknowledge it, I will make it my quarrel."
Michael - "Here's my glove; give me another of thine. This will I also wear in my cap; if ever thou come to me and say, after tomorrow, "This is my glove," by this hand, I will take thee a box on the ear."
Young Siward - "Thou Liest, abhorred tyrant! With my sword I'll prove the lie though speak'st."
Macbeth - "Thou wast born of woman. But swords I smile at, weapons laugh to scorn, brandished by man that's of a woman born."
Macbeth - "Why should I play the Roman fool and die on mine own sword? Whilst I live, the gashes do better upon thee."
MacDuff - "I have no words; my voice is in my sword."
Macbeth - "As easy mayest thou the intrenchant air with thy keen sword impress as make me bleed. Let fall thy blade on vulnerable crests. I bear a charmed life, which must not yield."
Macbeth - "I will not yield, to kiss the ground before your feet and to be baited with the rabble's curse. I will try to the last. Lay on, and damned be him that first cries, 'Hold, Enough.'"
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING
Don Pedro - "You are come to meet you trouble: the fashion of the world is to avoid cost, and you encounter it."
Benedict - "Nay, mock not, mock not. The body of your discourse is sometime guarded with fragments, and the guards are but slightly basted on neither: ere you flout old ends any further, examine your conscience and look to your guard."
Don John - "I cannot hide what I am: I must be sad when I have cause, and smile at no man's jests; eat when I have stomach, and wait for no man's leisure; sleep when I am drowsy, and tend no man's business; laugh when I am merry, and claw no man in his humour."
Don John - "If I had my mouth, I would bite; if I had my liberty, I would do my liking: in the meantime, let me be that I am, and seek not to alter me."
Beatrice - "Why, you are the prince's jester: a very dull fool; your only gift is in devising impossible slanders: none but libertines delight in you; and the commendation is not in your wit, but in your villany; for you both please men and anger them, and they laugh at you and beat you, as I shall."
Beatrice - "Art thou not approved in the height a villan, that hath slandered, scorned, dishonoured my kinswoman? What! bear her in hand until you come to take hands, and then, with public accusation, uncovered slander, unmitigated rancour. I shall eat your heart in the market-place."
Benedict - "Enough! I am engaged, I will challenge him. I will kiss your hand, and so leave you. By this hand, Claudio shall render me a dear account."
Leonato - "Tush, tush, man! never fleer and jest at me: I speak not like a dotard nor a fool, as, under priviledge of age, to brag what I have done being young, or what would do, were I not old. Know Claudio, to thy head, thou hast so wrong'd mine innocent child and me that I am forc'd to lay my reverence by, and, with grey hairs and bruise of many days, do challenge thee to trial of a man."
Benedict - "You are a villian; I jest not: I will make it good how you dare, with what you dare, and when you dare. Do me right, or I will protest your cowardice. You have killed a sweet lady and her death shall fall heavy on you. Let me hear from you."
Iago - "Your sword is very handsome. Are you a gentleman or do you never show any part of your sword but the hilts?"
Iago - "Do thou meet me presently at the harbour. Come hither; if thou be'st valiant - as, they say, base men being in love have then a nobility in their natures more than is native to them."
Cassio - "A knave teach me my duty! I'll beat the knave into a wicker bottle."
Cassio - "Let me go, sir, or I'll knock you o'er the mazzard."
Iago - "Reputation is an idle and most false imposition, oft got without merit and lost without deserving. You have lost no reputation at all, unless you repute yourself such a loser. What man, there are ways to recover your reputation. Draw your sword."
Iago - "Good name in man and woman's dear, my lord, is the immediate jewel of our souls: Who steals my purse steals trash, 'twas something, 'tis nothing, Twas mine, tis his, and has been slave to thousands; but he that filches from me my good name robs me of that which not enriches him and makes me poor indeed. Would you rob me of my name, sir?"
Iago - "O, beware, my lord, of jealousy; It is the green-eyed monster, which doth mock that meat it feeds on: that cuckold lives in bliss who, certain of his fate, loves not his wronger; But, O, what damned minutes tells he o'er who dotes, yet doubts, suspects, yet strongly loves!"
Iago - "I see, sir, you are eaten up with passion. I do repent me I put it to you. You would be satisfied?"
Othello - "By yond marble heaven, in the due reverence of a sacred vow, I here engage my words and my sword."
Iago - "Here, at thy hand, be bold, and take thy sword."
Roderigo - "I have no great devotion to the deed; and yet you have given me satisfying reasons; 'Tis but a man gone. Forth, my sword, you die."
Cassio - "That thrust had been mine enemy indeed, but that my coat is better than thou thinkest; I will make a proof of thine."
Othello - "She must die, else she'll betray more men."
RICHARD THE SECOND
Bolingbroke - "Now, sir, do I turn to thee, and mark my greeting well; for what I speak my body shall make good upon this earth, or my divine soul will answer it in heaven. Thou art a traitor and a miscreant, too good to be so and to bad to live - since the more fair and crystal is the sky, the uglier seem the clouds that in it fly. Once more, the more aggravate the note, with a foul traitor's name stuff I thy throat; and wish, - so please my sovereign, - ere I move, what my tongue speaks, my right-drawn sword may prove."
Bolingbroke - "Pale, trembling coward, there throw I my gage. If guilty dread have left thee so much strength as to take up mine honour's pawn, then stoop; by that and all the rites of knighthood else, will I make good against thee, arm to arm, what I have spoke, or thou cans't worse devise."
Norfolk - "I take it up; and by that sword I swear, which gently laid my knighthood on my shoulder, I'll answer thee in any fair degree, or chivalrous design of knightly trial: And when I mount, alive may I not light, if I be traitor or unjustly fight!"
Norfolk - "I boldly will defend; and interchangeably hurl down my gage upon this overweening traitors foot, to prove myself a loyal gentleman even in the best blood chamber'd in his bosom."
Norfolk - "I am disgraced, impeacht and baffled here; pierced to the soul with slander's venom'd spear, the which no balm can cure but his heartblood which breathed this poison."
Norfolk - "My name is Thomas Mowbray, duke of Norfolk; Who hither come engaged by my oath, which God defend a knight should violate! Both to defend my loyalty and truth to God, my king and my succeeding issue, against the Duke of Hereford that appeals me; and by the Grace of God and this mine arm, to prove him, in defending of myself, a traitor to my God, my king and me; And as I truly fight, defend me heaven!"
Bolingbroke - "Harry of Hereford, Lancaster and Derby am I; who ready here do stand in arms, to prove, by God's grace and my body's valour, in lists, on Thomas Mowbray, duke of Norfolk, that he is a traitor, foul and dangerous, to God of heaven, King Richard and to me; and as I truly fight, defend me heaven."
Bolingbroke - "Since presently your souls must part your bodies - with too much urging your pernicious lives, for 'twere no charity; yet, to wash your blood from off my hands, here, in the view of men, I will unfold some causes of your deaths. You have misled a prince, a royal king, a happy gentleman in blood and lineaments, by you unhappied and disfigured clean."
Surrey - "Dishonourable boy! That lie shall lie so heavy on my sword, that it shall render vengenance and revenge till thou the lie-giver and that lie do lie in earth as quiet as thy father's skull: In proof whereof, there is my honour's pawn; Engage it to the trial, if thou darest."
Queen - "The lion dying thrusteth forth his paw, and wounds the earth, if nothing else, with rage, to be o'erpower'd and wilt thou, pupil-like, take thy correction mildly, kiss the rod, and fawn on rage with base humility?"
ROMEO AND JULIET
Sampson & Gregory - "O' my word, I'll not carry coals, for then I should be a collier but being in a choler, I'll draw and strike quickly, being moved."
Gregory - "To move is to stir; and to be valient is to stand: therefore, if thou art moved, thou runn'st away."
Sampson - "My naked weapon is out: Quarrel; I will back thee."
Gregory - "'Tis well thou art not a fish; if thou hadst, thou hadst been Poor-John. Draw thy tool."
Sampson - "Draw if you be a man."
Tybalt - "What, art thou drawn amoung these heartless hinds? Turn thee, Benvolio, look upon thy death."
Tybalt - "What, drawn, and talk of peace! I hate the word, as I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee: Have at thee, coward!"
Capulet - "What noise is this? Give me my long sword, ho!"
Capulet - "My sword, I say! Old Montague is come, and flourishes his blade in spite of me."
Benvolio - " One fire burns out another's burning, One pain is lessen'd by another's anguish; Turn giddy, and be holp by backward turning; One desparate grief cures with another's languish: Take some new infection to thy eye, and the rank poison of the old will die."
Tybalt - "Fetch me my rapier, boy: What, dares the slave come hither, cover'd with an antic face, to fleer and scorn at our solemnity? Now, by the stock and honour of my kin, to strike him dead I hold it not a sin."
Peter - "I dare draw as soon as another man, if I see occasion in a good quarrel, and the law on my side."
Mercutio - "Thou art like on of those fellows that, when he enters the confines of a tavern, claps me his sword upon the table and says 'God send me no need of thee!' and by the operation of the second cup, draws it on the drawer, when, indeed, there is no need."
Mercutio - "Come, come, thou art as hot a Jack in thy mood as any in Italy; and as soon moved to be moody, and as soon moody to be moved."
Mercutio - "Dost thou make us minstrels? an thou make minstrels of us, look to hear nothing but discords: here's my fiddlestick; here's that shall make you dance."
Tybalt - "This shall not excuse the injuries that thou hast done me; therefore turn and draw."
Mercutio - "O calm, dishonourable, vile submission! Alla stocatto carries it away. Tybalt, you rat-catcher, will you walk?"
Mercutio - "Good king of cats, nothing but one of your nine lives will I have ov thee; that I mean to make bold withal, and as you shall use me hereafter, dry-beat the rest of the eight. Will you pluck your sword out of his pilcher by the ears? make haste, lest mine be about your ears ere it be out."
Romeo - "Tell me, in what vile part of your anatomy doth my name lodge? tell me, that I may sack the hateful mansion."
Peter - " I will lay the serving-creature's dagger on your pate. I will carry no crotchets but have at you with my wit! I will dry-beat you with an iron wit and put up my iron dagger in your flesh."
Romeo - "Will thou provoke me? then have at thee, boy!"
THE TAMING OF THE SHREW
Katharina - "I pray you, sir, is it your will To make a stale (laughingstock) of me? I'faith, sir, you shall never need fear: My care of you should be to comb your noodle (head) with a three-legged stool, and paint your face and use you like a fool."
Petruchio -"Villain, I say, take and rap me well or I'll knock your knave's pate."
Grumio - "You have grown quarrelsome. I should knock you first, and then I know after who comes by the worst.
Petruchio.- "Will it not be? Faith, sirrah, an you'll not knock, I'll wring it; I'll try how you can sol, fa (note of the scale) and sing it."
Tranio - "Sir, I shall not be slack; in sign whereof, Please ye we may contrive this afternoon, And quaff carouses to our mistress' health; And do as adversaries in law, - Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends."
Baptista - "Why, how now! Whence grows this insolence? For shame, thou wretch of a devilish spirit, Why dost thou wrong me that ne'er did wrong thee? When did I cross thee with a bitter word?"
Katharina - "Her silence flouts me and I'll be revenged."
Petruchio - "Here stands my lady, touch her whoever dare; I'll bring mine action on the proudest. Grumio, draw forth thy weapon, lest we be beset by thieves; Rescue thy mistress, if thou be a man. - Fear not, sweet lady, they shall not touch thee. I'll buckler thee against a million."
Grumio - "Face me not: thou hast braved many men; brave not me; I will neither be faced not braved."
Antonio - "Here you stand, no better than the earth you stand upon, Whom I with this obedient steel, three inches of it, can lay to bed forever."
Antonio - "Draw thy sword. One stroke shall free thee from all tribute which thou payest. Draw together and when I rear my hand, do you the like and fall on."
"Tis best we stand our guard, or that we quit this place. Leave or draw your weapon and fall on."
Stephano - "For it hath been said, as proper a man as ever went on two legs cannot make him give ground, and so shall be said again, while Stephano breath's at's nostrils."
Stephano - "Run no further into danger. Advance more and I'll turn my mercy out of doors and make a stock fish of thee."
Caliban - "Shall I brain thee or with a log batter your skull or paunch you with a stake or cut you wesand with my knife?"
Ariel - "You fool! I am the minister of fate. The elements of whom your sword is tempered may as well wound the loud winds or the bemock'd-at stabs kill the still closing waters as diminish one dowl of my plumes."
Malvolio - "Are you mad? or what are you? Have you no wit, manners nor honesty, but to gabble like tinkers? Do you make an ale-house of my lady's house, that ye squeak out your coziers' catches without any mitigation or remorse of voice? Is there no respect of place, persons nor time in you? Get you gone or draw your sword!"
Malvolio- "If you prized my lady's favour at any thing more than contempt, you would not give means for this uncivil rule. She shall have justice by this hand."
Maria - "Thou art anything constantly but a time-pleaser, an affection'd ass, that cons state without book, and utters it by great swaths: the best persuaded of yourself, so cramm'd, as you think, with excellencies, that it is your grounds of faith that all look on you love you; and on that vice in you will my revenge find notable cause to work."
Sebastian - "I would not by my will have troubled you, but since you take pleasure in pains, let me chide you further."
Sir Toby - "That defence thou hast, betake thee to't: Of what nature the wrongs are thou imagine I have done thee, I know not, but thy interceptor, full of despite, bloody as the hunter, attends thee. Dismount thy tuck, be yare in thy preparations, for I am quick, skillful and deadly."
Sir Toby - "If you value your life at any price, betake your guard."
Viola - "I have heard of some kind of men that put quarrels purposely on others, to taste their valour. Belike you are of this quirk and so shall I indulge you."
Sir Toby - "Strip your sword stark naked or forswear to wear iron about you."
Sebastian - "I prithee, foolish Greek, depart from me: There's money for thee: if you tarry longer, I shall give worse payment."
Sebastian - "I will be free from thee. What woulds't thou now? If thou dar'st tempt me further, draw thy sword."
"The Book of the Courtier" - Baldesar Castiglione
"Fortune has not changed her ways: she is still as fickle as she ever was. Today may she shine on me and frown on you."
"If we cannot acheive perfection, then the one who comes nearest to it will be the most perfect, in the same way that when a number of archers shoot at a target, though no one hits the bull's eye, the one who gets closest is certainly better than the rest. Pray Fortune that I be the closest this day."
"Therefore if men are to be found anywhere who deserve to be called good fencers... , one must reasonably accept that they are with us now. So to teach a lesson to the those who, in their presumption think they are entitled to be called good fencers, I issue challenge."
"Once the reputation of a gentleman-at-arms has been stained through cowardice or some other reproachful behavior, even if only once, it always remains defiled in the eyes of the world and covered with ignominy. Would you so stain your name, sirrah or would you take up arms?"
"You make a great show of being so fierce that you are always blustering and bragging, declaring that you are married to your cuirass and glowering with haughty looks that we know only too well. Let us see if you may live up to your bluster. Otherwise we shall think that since you aren't at war at the moment and you are not engaged in fighting, it would be a good thing if you were to have yourself well greased and stowed away in a cupboard with all your fighting equipment so that you avoid getting rustier than you already are."
"I censure those who praise themselves extravagantly and brashly. Now I certainly agree that it would be wrong to take exception when a worthy man indulges in some modest self-praise; indeed it is more convincing than if it comes from someone else. But, shall we see if you are a braggart or a modest man?"
"A man who has to acheive great things must have the courage to do them and must have confidence in himself. He should not be cowardly or abject, though he should be modest in his words, presuming less of himself than he acheives and being careful, too, that his presumption does not turn to rashness. I pray you sir, put away your sword and do not be rash now."
"Certainly it's no lie to say that you possess the grace of countenance for undoubtedly we can see that your appearance is very agreeable and pleasing to all, even if your features are not very delicate, though then again you manage to appear both manly and graceful. This is a quality found in many different kinds of faces. If you would wish to continue to present this pleasant face to the world it were best you withdraw now."
"How much more agreeable and admired is a warrior when he is modest, saying little and boasting hardly ever, than one who is forever singing his own praises and threatening all and sundry with his swearing and bragging! This is simply the affectation of wanting to appear a bold fellow. And so in modesty, I draw my sword."
"In everything, the courtier should always be diffident and reserved rather than forward, and he should be on his guard against assuming that he knows what he does not know. Let us see if you know how to defend yourself."
"We are instinctively all too greedy for praise, and there is no sound or song that comes sweeter to our ears; praise like the Siren's voices, is the kind of music that causes shipwreck to the man who does not stop his ears to its deceptive harmony. I fear you have not stopped your ears soon enough."
"Socrates was very right when he wonders why Aesop did not write a fable pretending that, since He had never been able to unite them, God had joined pain and pleasure end to end, so that the beginning of one should be the end of the other. However, in this case it shall be that the beginning of one is the beginning of the other. That is that the beginning of your pain shall be the beginning of my pleasure."
"We should stop condemning the world as full of vices, since if we removed the vices we would have to let the virtues go with them. Then I would not have the virtue of running your vice through."
"I believe that in fencing with you, sir, that I will be following the example of the merchant who will risk a little to gain a great deal, but will not risk a great deal merely to gain a little."
"I believe that you should change you clothes, sir, since external appearances often bear witness to what is within. I would not have your reputation diminished for who of us when he sees a gentleman passing by wearing a gown quartered in various colours or covered with strings and ribbons and bows, and cross-lacings, does not take him for a fool or a clown?"
"It does not seem to me that it is either right for people of quality to judge a man's character by his dress rather than by his words or actions, for in that case there may be many mistakes; and there is good reason for the proverb which says that the habit does not make the monk. Therefore, let me give you a lesson in manners."
"To be sure, it cannot be denied that first impressions carry great force and that we should pay considerable attention to them. Therefore, draw your blade and let me make a great impression upon you."
"In the case of two men who are fencing, would you not say that the one who defeats the other is deceiving him when he does so because he has more skill than his partner? Come then and let me deceive you."
"My lord, pleasantries and witticisms are the gift and favour of Nature rather than of art; but in this certain people are quicker than others and in this your wit has outrun your sense. Therefore, draw."
"As for quips, what place is there for art? For in this case, a pungent remark must be uttered and must hit the target before the speaker seems to have time to think, as my blade will do to your breast."
"There is no one here to whom I do not yield in the matter of facetiousness or as in your case, sir, where pure silliness (which often makes people laugh more than clever sayings)is also accepted as wit. But I shall not yeild in the matter of blades, so pray draw yours so that we may commence the real conversation."
"To cause laughter is not always fitting for a courtier, nor should he do so after the manner of fools and drunkards, clowns or buffoons. Since you have chosen to present yourself in such a way, a lesson in manners is called for. Draw so that I may teach you."
"The courtier should guard against mocking those who are universally favoured and loved by all and who are powerful, because by doing so he can sometimes stir up dangerous emnities. So rather than mock you, I challenge you."
"As courtiers, we must be prudent and pay considerable attention to the place and timing and the kind of people with whom we speak, and not descend into buffoonery or go beyond bounds. One must also eschew satire that is too cruel for to be too savage in doing this is the work not only of a clown but of an enemy. Before you make yourself an enemy, sir, withdraw or stay your course and draw."
"Those who counterfeit coins are in the habit of gilding them so well that they seem to the eye far more beautiful than the good ones. So if there were counterfeit men as there are counterfeit coins, one might rightly suspect that you were one of them, seeing that you are made of finer and brighter metal than any of these others."
"All that men possess is their property, their body and their soul. Our property is fought over by lawyers, our souls by theologians and our bodies by doctors. All three will soon be fighting over yours sir, if you do not withdraw."
"Those whose speech is obscene and foul, who show no respect for the presence of ladies, and who are constantly searching for witticisms and quips merely for the pleasure of making them blush for shame should be driven out of society. This shall I do to you if you will be so kind as to draw your blade."
"You couldn't make me laugh if you tickled me. Therefore, I believe I shall tickle you with my blade."
"Ask pardon of the pigs, for you certainly do me no harm. However, I believe that I shall now do you some harm with my blade."
"Sir, if I may ever hope for a favour from you, do me the goodness to allow me not to believe what you say."
"I do not know you, except that I have heard you spoken of as an expeditious soldier. I hear that you are so expeditious that you run off from the battle before you ask leave."
"I have some advise for you, if you would live. Dress like a lord and keep your mouth shut."
"Don't trouble yourself any further, even without your protestation I can well believe you have no faith in your blade."
"Today you shall be the button hole and my blade shall be the button."
"How agreeable it would be for us to have the right kind of exercise for a fine man and a good soldier. Shall we lay on?"
"If a courtier, in his witticisms and pleasantries, has regard for time and person and his own rank, and does not indulge in them too frequently, then he may be called an amuzing man. You have ceased to be amusing, therefore I shall amuze myself at your expense."
"You are doing wrong not only to women but also to the men who respect them. I shall therefore embark on the difficult enterprise of the defence of women against so mighty a warrior as yourself."
"Now you shall see whether I care whether evil things are said about me!"
"I think that you went a little too far when you said that women are most imperfect creatures and incapable of any virtuous act and of little or no dignity in comparison with men. You have been led astray in claiming that wise men have no respect for women since this is completely false. I am ready to defend my claim and the honor of women, if need be."
"There is no Court, however great, that can possess adornment or splendour or gaiety without the presence of women, and no courtier, no matter how graceful, pleasing or bold, who can ever perform gallant deeds of chivalry unless inspired by the loving and delightful company of women. I stand ready to fight, inspired by my Lady to feats of grandeur."
"You are trying hard to make me say something that would hurt the feelings of these ladies, in order to make them my enemies, just as you are seeking to win their favor by deceitful flattery. However, they are much more sensible than that in that they love the truth and this I will defend."
"I say that my natural qualities make me more perfect that you, since you are cold in temperment and I am hot. For warmeth is far nobler and more perfect than cold, since it is active and productive and as you know, the heavens shed warmeth on the earth rather than coldness, which plays no part in the work of Nature. I believe that your coldness makes you cowardly and timid."
"Very often you will find men who have no fear of death or of anything else and yet cannot be called courageous, since they fail to recognise danger and rush headlong without another thought along the path they have chosen. Take care you do not rush any further down the path you have started on."
"Where there's obstinancy, of course you sometimes find those who never abandon their purpose. Kindly draw your sword so that I might provide an end to your obstinancy."
"Will you flee like a coward and hide yourself away inside of the woman you came out of or will you draw and fight?"
"If you compare the merits of women with those of men in any age whatsoever you will find that they have never been, not are they now, the slightest bit inferior. If you care to dispute this, draw your sword and lay on."
"I think it only proper to punish harshly those who defame women with their lies; and I consider that every noble is bound when it is necessary to take up arms in defence of the truth, and especially when he hears a woman falsely accused of being unchaste."
"I shall consider myself greatly privileged to have the chance of sharing in the duty of a worthy knight, namely, to defend the truth."
"People of that sort, who make a vile boast, whether true or not, of having some lady's favours, deserve the severest punishment, even torture; and if this is what they sometimes incur, then no praise is too great for those who have the duty of inflicting it. As I look for praise from worthy souls, draw your blade."
"I wager, friend, I would rather that you lay like a corpse all night till dinner-time the next day, drowned in wine than to lie as a corpse, but if you must continue, draw your sword."
"I would have you know that Troy held out for ten years against the Greeks for no other reason than that a few lovers, before they went to fight, armed themselves in the presence of their women; and often the women helped them put on their armour, and when they left spoke some words that inflamed them and made them more than men. Beware, for so my Lady has spoke to me this day."
"I take my leave and before my Lady's eyes, for to challenge the enemy with proud courage that springs from love and the ambition to let the woman I love see that she is served by a man of valour."
"Cursed and devilish dissension plants its evil seed to produce anger, suspicion and the sharp thorns of hatred which torture our unhappy souls, cruelly bound together till death by an indissoluble bond."
"For such good qualities as everyone once thought were mine, together with the sincerest love that ever existed, have not had as much power to make me loved as you have had to make me hated. For this, draw your weapon."
"I fear I must challenge you since as far as I can see I am as fated to be disbelieved when I speak the truth as you are to be believed when you tell lies."
"Men often do stupid things when they are in love such as rushing into mortal danger and risking losing their love forever when they should want to live the most. You run that risk just now."
"I hope to be able to instil virtue into your mind, to teach you continence, fortitude, justice and temperance and enable you to relish the sweet fruit which lies under the slight bitterness first tasted by one who is struggling against his vices, which are always as harmful, offensive and notorious as the virtues are beneficial, agreeable and universally praised. Therefore, draw your blade and let the lesson begin."
"It is necessary to have a master who by his teaching and precepts stirs and awakens the moral virtues whose seed is enclosed and buried in our souls and who, like a good farmer, cultivates and clears the way for them by removing the thorns and tares of our appetites which often so darken and choke our minds as to not let them flower or produce those splendid fruits which alone we should wish to see born in the human heart. Therefore, let me begin to clear your mind."
"There are many who fully understand that they are doing evil, and still do it; and this is because they are more concious of the pleasures of the moment than of hte punishment they fear in the future. In your case, the future has arrived."
"Who would you think the more admirable: a commander who runs the risk of open confrontation with the enemy and yet conquers him, or one who uses his skill and knowledge to sap the enemy's strength and render him powerless and so conquers without risk or bloodshed? I for one would prefer the latter, but if you must prefer the former then draw you sword."
"It is wrong to be always at war and not seek to attain peace as the objestive. However, sometimes one must make war in order to obtain peace. So that I may make peace, you may draw your sword."
"I should like to know if you, as a courtier, been encouraged and confirmed in the art of the sword through argument and theory, or through practice?"
"Let me possess good judgement here, take care to understand others actions, to cut short disputes and to act as a peacemeker. Otherwise, I shall be terrible in battle, a raging justice cleansing the past with blood."
"There are many who perform worthy acts in order to win the favour of the women whom they love, and though these acts are no directed to a good end, they are food in themselves. To this end, it shall be good when I kill you."
"Sirrah, if you return to giving us insults, I promise you will not be forgiven."
"Sir, to settle the arguement between us, let us come with our swords as judges."
"Sir, if you want to criticize women and slander them in your usual manner, you must draw your sword as bond and prepar to stand trial, for I arraign you as a fugitive from justice."
"Sir, I shall outshine you as Hortalus was outshone by Cicero."
"Sir, your fortune depends on using this word or that, or extending your hand in this direction or that depending upon the words and whether your hand has a sword in it."
"As with Aristippus, the chief thing I have learned from philosophy is the ability to meet all men with confidence."
"Cicero states that the two essential forces of the soul are appetite, which impels a man this way or that and reason, which teaches and explains what should be done and what should be left undone. My reason teaches me that it is time to put an end to your appetite."
"Laughter is most agreeable to everyone but most so to the living. Live and laugh - or die."
"You would do good to imitate the prudent rather than the frivilous. Therefore, if you wish to live - withdraw."
"I hear you paid a large sum for your horse. Could it be because he flees the very sound of weapons?"
The Three Musketeers - Alexander Dumas
"I do not often laugh, sir, as you may perceive by the expression of my countenance; but nevertheless I retain the privilege of laughing when I please."
"I allow no man to laugh when it displeases me."
"This insolent boy chastens others and I hope that he whom he ought to chastise will not escape him."
"Ah, you take that tone do you? Well, I will teach you how to behave yourself."
"Draw, if you please, and instantly."
"At two o'clock I shall have the honour of expecting you at the hotel of M. de Treville."
"I will take the left hand - it is my custom in such circumstances. Do not fancy that I do you a favour; I use either hand easily. And it will be even a disadvantage to you; a left-handed man is very troublesome to people who are not prepared for it."
"I assure you I shall always view with regret the blood of so brave a gentleman, especially when drawn by myself."
"Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes, 'Beware of the enemy who makes you presents'. My present to you shall be the point of my blade."
"People jest with death and people are wrong, for death is the door which leads to perdition or to salvation. Shall I open that door for you?"
"Madame, will you permit me to offer you my services? It appears to me that this cavalier has made you very angry. Speak one word, Madame, and I take upon myself to punish him for his want of courtesy."
"Pick your longest sword and come and show it to me this evening behind the Luxemborg; that's a charming spot for such amuzements as the one I propose to you."
Cyrano de Bererac - Edmond Rostand
"With grace I cast my hat away.
Slowly my great cloak I let fall;
and forth I shine in grand array,
Upon my trusty sword, I call.
It shines as bright as Caledon.
My feet move as fast as Scaramouche.
Your fate is sealed dear Myrmidon,
For at the envoi's end I touch.
Take back you jibe, your life to save.
Continue to fight, and your bird I'll cook.
I threaten your flank, you smell the grave,
Defend your heart; to your ribbons look.
My point comes buzzing like a fly,
The coquilles ring like bells in church.
You must decide to live or die,
For at envoi's end, I touch.
Parry, riposte - I search for a rhyme,
You break, you cower as white as whey.
You wretched man atone your crime.
Tac - and I parry your last essay,
Disarm and I take your weapon away.
I cast it back, you weep too much,
take your knitting needle and fight I pray.
At the end of the envoi, I touch.
Prince demand of God pardon,
To ask for life would be too much,
Coupe - Beat - Eh Lah! You're gone,
At envoi's end - I touch."
LES LIAISONS DANGEREUSES - Chanderlos de Laclos
The Chevalier Danceny to the Vicomte de Valmont - "I am informed, Monsieur, of your conduct towards me. I know as well that, not content with basely duping me, you have not feared to boast of it, to congratulate yourself on it. I have seen the proof of your betrayal written by your own hand. I confess it broke my heart and that I felt some shame at having contributed so much myself to your odious abuse of my blind confidence; yet I do not envy you this shameful advantge; I am only curious to know if you will keep all other advantages over me. I shall learn of this if, as I hope, you will be good enough to meet me tomorrow morning, between eight and nine o'clock, at the Bois de Vincennes gate; Village of Saint-Mande'. I shall take care to bring there everything necessary for the explanations I yet have to make with you."
"The King has forbid the duel to the death so if I obey the laws of honour and kill you, I perish on the scaffold but if I obey the laws of the state, I am banished forever from the society of men." 'Alice in Wonderland'- Lewis Carroll
"Shame is the greatest of all evils, what avail laws when Death only attends the breach of them and Shame obedience to them." 'The Spectator' - Richard Steele, 1711
"The great independence of gentles in our Society make personal honour and fidelity the chief tie amoung us, while the solemnities of single combat lend decorum to our contests. Let gallantry and point of honour maintain their influence and remain the genuine offspring of these ancient affectations." C. Moore Hume
"A man may strike down the man who invades his character, as he may strike down him who attempts to break into his house." Boswell, 1783
"Let us tear each others throats like wild beasts - since we are no longer men." Alexander Herzen
"Honour ... that enigmatic mixture of conscience and egoism ... compatible with selfishness and great vices ... and astonishing illusions ... has become, in a far wider sense than is commonly believed, a decisive test of conduct in the minds of the cultivated. Shall we conduct a test of our honour?" 'The Civilization of the Renaissance' - Burkhardt, 1860
"Proud and insolent youth, have at thee." Peter Dan J.M. Barrie 1911
"Dueling is an idiotical and totally absurd practice. An honest savage has more sense than to practice it. He takes his bow or his gun and shoots his enemy from behind a bush. But as you must 'feel like a gentleman' and obliged to give or claim the satisfaction expected on occasion of differences amoung gentlemen, let us be on with it." 'St. Ronan's Well' - Sir Walter Scott
"With lion look, with alert attitude, side foremost, right foot advanced, florishing and thrusting, stoccado and passado, tierce and quarte; by intent I will skewer you" 'The French Revolution' - Carlyle
"It is essential, not only to the character of a hero but of a gentleman, to fight a duel." Harry Ormonde
"We may quarrel all day like cat and dog, yet lest we draw our blades, no fatal consequences may ensue." Charles Lever, 1843
"You may challenge a man for treading on your corn in a crowd or for pushing you up to the wall or for taking your seat in the theatre - but not for a 'pure nothing'." - Sir Walter Scott
"Cowardice is a moral blight, not simply a frailty of nerves, and one that nothing else can atone for." - V.G. Kiernan
"Life is nothing in itself; only death can fix the proper value." 'The Defense of Plevna' - F.W. von Herbert- 1911
"White feather!" (This is an insult alluding to the belief in the Middle Ages that cocks with white feathers made poor fighters.)
"I dare thee, coward, to maintain this wrong at dint of rapier, single in the field." 'Frair Bacon and Frair Bungay' - Robert Geese - 1594
"Death in itself is not tragic. Every man dies but not every man really lives. Come let us truly live for a few moments before one of us dies." 'Orontea' - Cesti, 1649
"I desire the honour of your company, sir, tomorrow morning at the Barn Elms, sir. Please, name your weapon, sir." 'Sir Courtly Nice' - John Croone, 1660
"No more words! To the field, to arms! I intend to rid myself of pain even if I end up dying for it. Should my complaints be read out? - after all it is you who proviked me. But why quarrel about precedence? I can consider myself challenged, or I can challenge you - it's all the same. You choose the site or choose the weapons, and leave the other choice to me or if you want to , you decide everything. I'll extract the living heart from your breat bravely with my own hands just as I'll rip out from its roots that falsely lying tongue that wounds me." exerpt from 'Veronica Franco's Challenge' 1589
"Remember where you came from, where you are going and why you created the mess you got yourself into in the first place. You are going to die a horrible death, remember. It's all good training and you'll enjoy it more if you keep the facts in mind." - Richard Bach. Illusions
"Take your dying with some seriousness. Laughing on the way to your execution is not generally understood by the populous and they'll call you crazy." - Richard Bach, Illusions
Over the course of years, I have heard a number of challenges and boasts on the SCA lists which are excellent examples of what should be said on the field. Here are a few of them.
"I am Duke Sir Comar gyr Mirand and I have set the Throne of the MidRealm twice. I have the right to say that I am the best man on the field today but since every man should be the best on his wedding day, I say that I am the second best man on the field this day."
"Now listen well and hear me boy, before you draw your blade. If we should dance the dance of death, the piper must be paid."
"I know life is never pretty and no fight is ever fair, and the power and the glory go to those with strength and flair. Those who cross me never prosper, those who fight me end up dead. I don't get mad, I don't get even. I make sure I get ahead." Duke Moonwulf
"A tankard to the winner and slops to the defeated?"
"What would you lose first? Name the body part. Your leg? (while thrusting at the head).
"Forsooth, thou dost give new and truly wondrous meaning to the term Wire Weenie."
"What art thou? The spawn of a batracian that dwelt 'ere til now in a swill pit? Defend thyself, for Honor shall be mine... and Now! (lunge).
To these I would like to add some musings of my own.
"There are but three reasons to fight for the Crown. For Love of the Land, for Love of the People and for the Love of a Lady. I have proved my love of the land and of the people by twenty years of service to the Middle Kingdom and now the Love of a Lady inspires me to fight to make her Queen."
"I hope to have the pleasure of besting you in this contest. Please do not treat me badly by depriving myself and this audience of that pleasure."
"The kings of the ancient world, the Roman, the Athenian and many others, in order to secure the good will of the people and to feed the eyes of the multitude, provided great spectacles in the arena. Likewise will I make a spectacle of your death."
"Fortune oft amuses herself by exalting whomever she pleases and by hurling down whom she will. Today, sir, may she smile on me and frown on you."
"I understand that you have put a great deal of study into the art of defense. Would you care to demonstrate what you have learned?"
"Some say that jousting as we practice it is too much if done in play and too little if done in earnest, but gentlemen from their childhood are taught to behave nobly and it is for this that they are praised. Will you now be praised?"
"I have been a stag of seven tines. I have been a grain of sand upon the shore. I have been the hawk flying overhead. I have been the salmon in the brook. I have been the wind over the plains. I have fought in twenty Pennsic Wars. I shall now be the rock upon which you break your sword."
"Affliction, like the iron-smith, shapes as it smites. So shall I shape you, if you draw your blade."
"The anvil fears not the blow of the hammer, not I of your sword."
"Since you are an anvil, hold you still, that I as the hammer may strike my fill."
"Asses die and wolves bury them."
"Every ass loves to hear himself bray."
"As the hawk kisses the hen, right up to the last feather, so shall my blade kiss you."
"Milord, you have failed to honor my Lady by even a tip of your hat. Shall I nail it to your head for good?"
"Are you a scholar then? Come let me plant a sword in your learned brain."
"Shall we seek our deaths in the spirit of delirious chivalry?"
"My card, sir. Do we agree to have a battle?"
"Shall we go forth to prove our honour and our skill in battle?"
"You are the sort of fellow who is ready to fight with anyone. Therefore, draw your blade and fight with me."
"If you trouble me anymore, by this blade, I will supplant some of your flesh."
Copyright 2000 by Michael and Elizabeth Labbe-Webb, 6726 Axtel Dr., Canal Winchester, OH 43110. <mlabbewebb at yahoo.com>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited and receives a copy.
If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in
the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also
appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being
reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.