Monday, August 25, 2008

The Role of the Oatcake in Medieval Warfare

(“The Scots are able to make longer marches than other men because they carry and make cakes of oats to eat and comfort their stomachs”: Jean Froissart)

It’s a fact:
These oatcake crumbs in your pocket
are scions of a noble race,
the mighty oatcake,
paste of the Gods.
The English gave them to their horses
but it was oatcakes won freedom
for the Scots and French,
not Wallace, Bruce or Joan of Arc.
What did Archibald Douglas have in his bloody mitt
when he stove in the Duke of Clarence’s head at Bauge?
A rough oatcake.
“What think ye of the mutton guzzlers and winos now?”
asked the Dauphin of his effete courtiers
when the Scots had swept the field.
He saw the power of the oatcake.
The Maid entering Orleans victorious in 1429 was
flanked , they say, by Scottish guardsmen,
warrior giants with twice fired oatcakes,
their banner three oatcakes rampant
on a sable field.


Frances said...

Three oatcakes rampant on a banner? Goodness I didn't realise the humble oatcake had heraldic usage. I eat packets of the things I love them.

shug said...

That's the domesticated oatcake you're talking about, started befriending farmers in the Neolithic Era. Wild oatcakes are a different breed altogether.

Jane Holland said...

I love oatcakes.

I nearly wrote oakcakes then. Imagine that. Pretty tough eating, oakcakes.

By the way, I'm suspicious that it should be 'a field Sable' (sic, with capital S), not a 'sable field'. And actually, that seems to scan rather better.

Just a thought.

McGuire said...

Makes my pancake poem positively homosexual compared to the 'chivalrous' and hardhitting rough outcake.

Excellent oatcake of a poem, Shug.