Shame to the Duke of Burgundy and thee!
I vow’d, base knight, when I did meet thee next,
To tear the Garter from thy craven’s leg,
Which I have done, because (unworthily)
Thou wast installed in that high degree.
Pardon me, princely Henry, and the rest.
This dastard, at the battle of Poictiers,
When (but in all) I was six thousand strong
And that the French were almost ten to one,
Before we met, or that a stroke was given,
Like to a trusty squire did run away;
In which assault we lost twelve hundred men;
Myself and divers gentlemen beside
Were there surpris’d and taken prisoners.
Then judge, great lords, if I have done amiss;
Or whether that such cowards ought to wear
This ornament of knighthood, yea or no?
When first this order was ordain’d, my lords,
Knights of the Garter were of noble birth,
Valiant and virtuous, full of haughty courage,
Such as were grown to credit by the wars;
Not fearing death, nor shrinking for distress,
But always resolute in most extremes.
He then, that is not furnish’d in this sort,
Doth but usurp the sacred name of knight,
Profaning this most honorable order,
And should (if I were worthy to be judge)
Be quite degraded, like a hedge-born swain
That doth presume to boast of gentle blood.