#NationalUnicornDay Medieval Style

unicorn shield edIn Scotland it is National Unicorn Day, the day they celebrate the national beast. With the lockdown and everyone staying indoors, they have become plentiful again, so I hear. Thus from medieval Scots history I offer you a tale told by a unicorn (on good authority!) from The Talis of Fyve Bestes (beasts that is, not besties). The executive summary:

“The Unicornis Tale” recounts how, in his youth, a boy named Gundulfus threw a stone and broke a cockerel’s thigh bone. He leaves home to study and returns on the night before he is due to travel to Kent to receive a benefice. His family and friends convince him to stay rather than travel that night, promising that the cock’s crows will wake him in the morning. The cock refuses to crow as an act of revenge and Gundulfus loses his position.

Be kind to animals. Or the unicorn and her friends will smite you.

The Unicornis Tale

Befor this tyme in Kentschire it befell
A bonde thar was, his name I can nocht tell;
Gundulfus was his sonis name I ges,
Of tender age of nyne yeris ald he wes,
And wele he usit for to rys at mornys
To kepe the grange and his faderis cornis
Fra cokis, crawis and uther foulis wyld.
So on a day this litill prety child
Seand thir birdis lukand our the wall,
Toward the grange Gundulfus gois withall,
And with the casting of a litill stone
Of ane litill bird the theis bone
Brokin he has in sounder at a cast,
And sone the fowlis flokit about him fast.
Quhat will ye mar? He was bot slane or schent.
Sore for him wepit all the hennis of Kent…

Read the rest here. From the conclusion (a rough translation):

Nowe be this tale ye sall wele understand,
Gif ye be lord and rewlar of this land,
Ye schape you nocht for till oppres the pure,
For, and ye do, forsuth I you assure
The tyme may cum that your aventour standis
Paraventur in to sic mennis handis.

Now should this tale you shall well understand
If you be lord and ruler of this land
You take care not to oppress the poor,
For if you do truly I shall you assure
The time may come that your fate stands
To be delivered into such men’s hands.