Master Huon's Biography

I was born a few years before the Great Pestilence came to England. I have no memory of that terrible event which took both of my parent's lives. We were living in London at the time, a city sorely affected by the plague. My brother is a member of the Cistercian Order and he placed me in his monastery to be raised & educated by his brother monks. Thus I had a happy & secure childhood, free from the sins of the outside world.

When I was fourteen my brother & I both decided that I would benefit from an extended leave from the monks, in order to gain a better understanding of God's universe & the natural world. I made arrangements to accompany a group of pilgrims to the Holy City Jerusalem, and while there, was hired by a group of English merchants to aid them in their trade with the Saracens. Since I could read & write, I was a valuable assistant to them. I learned many things during this time of my life: the ways of the Infidels, the qualities of herbs & spices, & the wisdom of God's mercy throughout the world. I eventually became the cook for my merchant friends as we traveled back to England with our goods of spices, silks, and exotic plants; this skill would benefit me greatly in my later life.

On my return to England, I chose not to return to the Cistercian Order but instead worked as a merchant in London for many years, selling diverse wares obtained from other lands: bolts of cloth, fine peppers, rosewater, and a host of spices drawn from the River Nile. By 1377 my cooking abilities had improved to the point where I was hired to be one of the cooks for our Lord King Richard's coronation. Having excelled well & good, I was chosen by my Lord to stay on in his household, for which I am truly grateful.

I now live in Southwerk, just across the Thames, where I have the opportunity to meet the pilgrims on their way to St. Thomas' shrine in Canterbury. I work throughout the week, making the many loaves of manchet and cakes that my Lord Richard requires for his table. My Lord is a good & gracious Lord and it is a pleasure to provide his mete. In the evenings I enjoy the many inns & taverns that inhabit Southwerk, though I avoid the bawds of the stewehouses as if they were the plague. No leman have I and I shall probably die fruitless with no children, but that is the way of the world. My origins in the Order resonate with me still deeply, and one day when I am no longer able to serve King Richard I shall return to the monastery to spend my final days in quiet contemplation & reverence.

Our merciful Lord God has sent us the miracle of His son Emmanuel, a gift which must not be squandered  or abused, for fear of His righteous judgment at the end time. Pax vobiscum, all & sundry!

      In the year of our Lord 1391,
                                                                                   Master Huon Damebrigge





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