The place of the poor

‘”Tell me Lord, if you please, by what right or title does a villein eat beef … And goose, of which they have plenty” And this troubles God. God suffers from it and I do too. For they are a sorry lot, these villeins who eat fat goose! Should they eat fish? Rather let them eat thistles and briars, thorns and straw and hay on Sunday and peapods on weekdays. They should keep watch without sleep and have trouble always; that is how villeins should live. Yet each day they are full and drunk on the best wines, and in fine clothes. The great expenditures of villeins comes at a high cost, for it is this that destroys and ruins the world. It is they who spoil the common welfare. From the villein comes all unhappiness. Should they eat meat? Rather should they chew grass on the heath with the horned cattle and go naked on all fours …”

[from a tale which was] addressed to an upper-class audience. Was this what they wanted to hear, or was it a satire on their attitude?’

-Barbara Tuchman in “ADistant Mirror” quoting from “Le Despit au Villein” (medieval chronicle)

(recorded 12/8/81)

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