We owe the news below to the kindness of one of our subscribers,
taken from the chronicles of Froissard, demonstrating that the
spirits are not a modern discovery. We ask our readers to allow us to report
it in the style of those days (XIV century). It would lose originality if
transcribed into our modern language.
The battle of Juberoth is a famous one among the chronicles of the
old days. It happened during the war between John, king of Castela, and
Diniz, king of Portugal, in the fight to conquer the latter’s kingdom. The
Castelans and the Bearneses were broken into pieces. The fact reported
by Froissard on that occasion is most interesting. One reads in the Chap.
XVI, Book III of his chronicles, that on the very next day after the battle,
Count Foix was informed about the event, a fact that was inconceivable
those days, given the distances between the places. It is Count Foix’s
squire that tells Froissard the fact in question:
“During the whole Sunday, and the whole Monday and Tuesday,
Count Foix, in his Ortais castle, showed such a tough, hard expression
on his face that nobody heard a word from him; during those three days
he would not leave his quarters either, or even speak to his knight or his
squire, however close they might be. Even those who did speak to him,
he sent them away, not addressing them with even a single word in those three days. Tuesday evening he called his brother, Arnold-William, and
told him in a low voice:
• Our people had a battle that made me mad because they
were attacked on their journey, like I told them when they
Arnold-William, a very sensible man and shrewd knight, who
knew his brother’s ways and condition, remained silent, and the
Count who wanted to try his courage for he had put up with his
boredom for a long time, spoke again and said in a louder voice
than the first time:
• For God’s sake, Sir Arnold, that is how I tell you, and we
shall soon have news, but the country of Béarn has never lost
so much, since a hundred years up to now, as it has lost this
time in Portugal.
The many knights and squires who were present and who saw
and heard the Count, dared not to speak.
Then, ten days later, the truth was known through those who
had been there at work and who were told first and then to everyone
who wanted to listen, all things, in the shape and form as
they had happened in Juberoth. That reinforced the Count’s and
the country’s sorrow, for those who had already lost their brothers,
fathers, sons and friends.
• Holy Mary! I said to the squire who told me that story, and
how come Count Foix knew all that on the very next day,
• By his faith, he said, he can feel things well, as he demonstrated.
• Then he is a fortuneteller, I said; or he has squires who ride
the winds or he must have some sort of art.
The squire laughed and said:
• He needs to know it through some sort of necromancy. We
know nothing in this land how he uses it, but through his
imagination (by supposition).
• Then, I told the squire, the imagination that you mentioned,
kindly let me know about it and I will be grateful to you. If it
is something to go quiet about then I will shut up and nobody
under any circumstance will ever hear that from me.
• I beg you, the squire said, since I would not want others to
know that I told you.
• He then took me to a corner of the Ortais castle and started
his report, by saying:
• Some twenty years back a Baron by the name Raymond
reined over this country as the Lord of Corasse. Corasse,
which is a town seven leagues away from this city of Ortais,
as you know. The Lord of Corasse, in the days I refer to,
had a lawsuit in Avignon, before the Pope, about the church’s
tithe in his city, against a priest from Catalonia who was really
wealthy and claimed to have rights over those tithes from
Corasse, well worth an annual income of a hundred florins
and the so called rights he proved and demonstrated. By a
definite sentence, Pope Urban V condemned the baron in
general council, passing judgment in favor of the priest. With
the latest sentence of the Pope, the baron rode his horse for
many days until he got to Bearn to show his seal and letters
to take possession to his right to the tithe.
The Lord of Corasse came forward and told the vicar: Master
Peter or Master Martin, such was his name, do you think that I
must lose my inheritance because of your letters? I don’t see you
so smart to take it or to take things which are mine because if
you do so you risk your life. Go somewhere else to claim benefits because you shall have nothing from my inheritance. I forbid you
once and for all. The priest suspected the baron who was cruel
and no longer dared to persevere. Thus, he decided to return to
Avignon as he did. However, when he was preparing to leave he
came to the presence of the Lord of Corasse and said: Through
your power and not rights, you subtract me from my church’s
dues and knowingly you are making a huge mistake. I am not
as strong in this country as you are but know this, before I go, I
shall send you a measure that you shall fear more than me. The
Lord of Corasse gave no importance to the threats and said: Go
to God, go, do as you will; I have no fear, dead or alive; as from
your words I shall not lose my inheritance. The priest then left
and returned, God knows where to, Catalonia or Avignon, and
did not forget what he had said to the Lord of Corasse when he
was about to leave, because when the baron least expected, asleep
in his bed with his wife in his castle, about three months later,
invisible messengers came and started to scramble everything in
their path and seemed that they would destroy everything hitting
very hard and making so much noise in the Lord’s bedroom
that his lady who was present was terrified. The baron heard all
that very well but said nothing because he did not want to give
away the courage of a scared man; thus, he was smart enough to
face all events. The violent noise and turmoil in several parts of
the castle lasted a long time, and then stopped. In the morning
everybody came to the master when he woke up and asked: Sir,
have you heard what we heard last night? The Lord of Corasse
was touched by that but said no. What have you heard, he asked.
Then they mentioned the violent turmoil in the castle that turned
down and broke the china in the kitchen. He laughed and said
that they were dreaming and what happened was caused by the
wind. For God’s sake, the lady said, I also heard that very well.
Then night came again and the violent turmoil was back and the
noise was such and the knocks so hard on the walls and windows of the bedroom that it seemed that everything was about to be
brought to the ground. The baron left his bed and could not find
what he wanted. He then asked: Who is knocking like that on
my bedroom’s door? He then got the answer: It is me. Who sent
you, asked the night? It was the vicar of Catalonia, to whom you
caused great harm because you subtracted him from his rights to
your benefits. I shall not leave you in peace until you pay his dues
and he is satisfied. The baron then asked: what is your name,
since you are such a good messenger. My name is Orthon. The
baron replied, Orthon, the service of a vicar does no good to you.
He shall make you suffer. If you can believe me I beg you to leave
me alone and do me service and I will be very grateful to you.
Orthon responded promptly, approaching the baron and saying:
Would you like that? Yes, replied the baron, but do no harm to
anyone. Nobody, said Orthon, my only power is to wake you up
and keep the others awake. Do as I say, said the baron, and we
shall come to an agreement, and forget that naughty vicar, who
bears no good, but pity on you; thus, be at my service. Since it is
your wishes, said Orthon, it is also my wishes.
Then that Orthon was so much connected to the Lord of
Corasse that he came to see him often at night; and in his sleep
his pillow was pulled or knocks were heard on the walls and windows
of his room that kept him awake. The baron would tell him:
Orthon, allow me to sleep. I shall not do that before giving you
the news. The baron’s lady was so afraid that her hair was bristled
and she hid under the blankets. Then the baron asked, what is the
news? I came from England, Hungary or another country said
Orthon. I left yesterday and these things happened.
The Lord of Corasse then knew what was going on around
the world through Orthon; and he kept that messenger for five
years; and he could not go quiet and he would say to Count Foix
in a manner, by the way I am going to tell you. In the first year
the Lord of Corasse came several times to the Count in Ortais and he would say: Sir, such a thing happened in England, or in
Germany or in another country; and the Count would be impressed
after having verified that it was all true, and how he could
have known such things. And the Count insisted so much that
one day the Lord of Corasse told him how and through whom he
would receive the news. Once the Count learned the truth he was
happy and said: Lord of Corasse, do your best to please him; I
wish I had such a messenger. That costs you nothing and by such
a means you really do know what goes around the world.
The baron responded: Yes, Sir, I will do that.
That is how Orton served the Lord of Corasse for a long time.
I don’t know if that Orthon had more than one Lord but every
week he would come to visit the Lord of Corasse two or three
times, and would tell him of the events he had learned about
other countries that he had been visiting, and the Lord of Corasse
would report them to Count Foix, who was immensely pleased.
One time the Lord of Corasse and the Count exchanged ideas
about this when the Count asked:
• Lord of Corasse, haven’t you ever seen your messenger?
• By my faith, not even once.
• It is wonderful, said the Count; if he were so close to me as
he is to you I would have asked him to appear to me; and I
ask you to take on that task and let me know of his looks and
ways. You said that he speaks Gascon as well as you and I do.
• By my faith, said the Lord of Corasse, it is true. He speaks as
well and nice as we both do. And by my faith I will try to see
him, since this is your advice.
It then happened that the Lord of Corasse, as other nights,
was in bed with his wife, who was used to hearing Orthon and
was no longer scared. Then Orthon arrived and pulled the Lord of Corasse’s pillow, while he was profoundly asleep. The Lord of
Corasse woke up and asked:
• Who is that?
• It is I, answered Orthon.
• Where did you come from?
• I come from Prague, in the Bohemia.
• It is a long time since I have heard from you. How are you?
• Sixty days, replied Orthon.
• And you came back so soon?
• Yes, by God; I move as fast as the wind, or faster.
• You then have wings?
• No, he said.
• Then, how can you fly so fast?
• Never mind, responded Orthon.
• I would be more pleased if I could see you.
• It is enough that I bring you certain news when you hear me.
• For God’s sake, said the Lord of Corasse, I would like you
better if I could see you.
• Since you wish to see me that will be the first thing you will
see tomorrow morning, as soon as you are out of bed.
• That is enough, said the Lord of Corasse. Off you go now,
you are dismissed tonight.
• When the morning broke the Lord of Corasse got up. The
lady was so scared that she fell sick and said that she would
not get up but the Lord insisted that she should.
• My Lord, she said, I would see Orthon and I don’t want to see
him, God willing.
• I want to see him, said the Lord. He then left his bed gracefully
but saw nothing that would make him say: I saw Orthon. The
day passed and the night came. When the Lord of Corasse was
in bed again Orthon came and started speaking again, as usual.
• Leave, said the Lord of Corasse, since you are a liar; you
should have shown yourself to me and you did not do it.
• Yes I did.
• No you didn’t.
• Haven’t you seen anything when you left your bed, asked
• The Lord of Corasse stopped and gave some thought to that
• Yes, he said, when I got up I saw two pieces of straw moving
around on the floor.
• It was I, said Orthon; it was the form I took.
• That is not good enough to me; I wish you can take another
form so that I can see and recognize you.
• You ask so much that I shall leave and you shall loose me
because you ask too much.
• You will not leave me; if I had seen you once I would not ask
to see you again.
• Well then, you shall see me tomorrow and be aware of the
first thing that you see after leaving your room.
The next day came and at the third hour the Lord of Corasse
got up, got dressed and as soon as he left the bedroom he went to a
place from which he could see the castle’s patio; he looked around
and the first thing he saw was a gilt, the largest female pig he had
ever seen; however, it seemed so skinny that it was only skin and
bones; it had long, fallen, stained ears and a long, sharp and pointed
nose. The Lord of Corasse was spellbound by that pig. As he did
not have a good impression, he immediately called for his servants:
• Hurry, let the dogs out; I want to see that gilt killed and
The servants rushed to release the dogs and send them onto
the gilt that screamed gazing at the Lord of Corasse, who was
leaning over the balcony but could no longer see her since she
disappeared; nobody knew what had become of her. The Lord of
Corasse returned to his room, thinking of Orthon. I supposed I
have just seen Orthon, my messenger. I regret to have let the dogs
out onto him. It will be a pity if I no longer see him for he told
me several times that I would lose him as soon as I recognized
him. He told the truth. He never returned to the castle since the
incident and the baron died the following year.
• Is it true, I asked the squire, that Count Foix had been served
by such a messenger?
• Truth be said, the opinion of several people from Béarn is
that it is so because nothing happens in the region and beyond,
if it is not his wishes or endeavor unless he is not aware
or had not taken care. Thus, it was with good knights and
squires of this country that he was in Portugal. His grace
and celebrity were of his great advantage for he did not lose
the value of a golden or silver spoon at home or anything else
without taking notice.”