Open main menu
This page needs to be proofread.

prince or feudal superior, for the purpose, primarily, of education, goes back to early feudal times, and is parallel with the sending of boys to act as pages and squires to the feudal castles. The regular establishment of maids of 'honour (filles ¢l'honneur) appears first in the royal court of France. This has usually been attributed to Anne of Brittany, wife of Charles VIII.; she had a group of unmarried girls of high rank at her court as part of her household, in whom she took a lively and parental interest, educating them and bestowing a dowry upon them on their marriage. A slightly earlier instance, however, has been found. When the young Margaret of Austria came to France on her espousal to Charles VIII., broken by his marriage to Anne of Brittany, there were in her train several Jilles d'honnenr, whose names appear in the Comptes d'argenterie de la reine Marguerite d'Autriche, from 1484-.1485 and 1488'148Q (Archives de Vempire K.K. 80 and 81 quoted by A. ]al, Dictionnaire critique de biographies et d'histoire). It is from the days of Francis I. that the chroniques scandalenses begin which circle round the maids of honour of the French court. The maids of Catherine de Medici, celebrated as the “ flying squadron, ” l'escadron aolant, are familiar from the pages of Pierre de l'Estoil*e (1574-1611) and Brantome. Among those whose beauty Catherine used in her political intrigues, the most famous were Isabelle de Limeuil, Mlle de Montmorency-Fosseux, known as la belle F ossense, and Charlotte de Baune. Thejilles d' honneur, as an institution, were suppressed in the reign of Louis XIV., at the instigation of Mme de Montespan-who had been one of them—and their place was taken by the darnes de palais. In the English court, this custom of attaching “ maids of honour ” to the queen's person was no doubt adopted from France. At the present day a queen regnant has eight maids of honour, a queen consort four. They take precedence next after the daughters of barons, and where they have not by right or courtesy a title of their own, they are styled “ Honourable.”

TH1=: Scorrrsn MAIDEN was an instrument of capital punishment formerly in use in Scotland. It is said to have been invented by the earl of Morton, who is also said to have been its first victim. This, however, could not have been the case, as the maiden was first used at the execution of the inferior agents in the assassination of Rizzio (1561) and Morton was not beheaded till 1581. The maiden was practically an early form of guillotine. A loaded blade or axe moving in grooves was fixed in a frame about ten feet high. The axe was raised to the full height of the frame and then released, severing the victim's head from his body. At least 120, suffered death by the maiden, including the regent Morton, Sir John Gordon of Haddo, President Spottiswood, the marquis and earl of Argyll. In 1710 it ceased to be used; it is now preserved in the museum of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, in Edinburgh.

MAIDENHAIR, in botany, the common name for a fern, Adiantum Capillus- Veneris, characterized by the spreading hairlike branches of the frond, the ultimate pinnules of which are é to 1 in. long with a rounded crenate outer edge and repeatedly forked veins; the sori (or masses of spore-capsules) are in the creatures of the pinnules, andare protected by a kidney-shaped involucre. The plant is widely distributed in temperate and tropical regions, and is occasionally found in the western counties of England, the Isle of Man, and west Ireland, growing on damp rocks or walls especially near the sea. The genus Adiantnm is a large one containing many handsome species both tropical and temperate, well known in greenhouse and hothouse cultivation.

MAIDENHAIR-TREE is a popular name for Ginkgo bilnba, a remarkable and handsome gymnospermous tree, the fan-shaped leaves of which with their forked veins recall those of the maidenhair (see GYMNOSPERMS). .

MAIDENHEAD, a market town and municipal borough in the Wokingham parliamentary division of Berkshire, England; 24% m. W. of London by the Great Western railway. Pop. (1901), 12,980. Area, 2125 acres. It is pleasantly situated on and above the west (right) bank of the Thames, and is much in favour as a residential town and a resort of boating parties. Though of high antiquity it is wholly modern in appearance, and a large number of handsome houses have been built in its vicinity. A beautiful timbered house of the 1 5th century, how-MAIDSTONE ever, survives in Ockwells,

The stone bridge carrying

dates from 1772; but the

Maidenhead has trade in

a short distance south of the town.

the London road over the Thames

crossing is of ancient importance.

malt and grain. The borough is

under a mayor, 4 aldermen and 12 councillors. The history of Maidenhead (Maydenhutt, Maydenhith) is bound up with that of the ancient bridge. It is not mentioned in Domesday. Edward I. (1297) gave a grant of pontage in aid of the bridge, which was almost broken down; similar grants to the “ bailiffs and good men of Maydenhithe ” were made by succeeding sovereigns. In 1451 Henry VI. incorporated the gild of the Brethren and Sisters of Maydenhith to provide certain necessaries for the celebration of Mass and to keep the bridge in order: the gild, dissolved at the Reformation, was revived by Elizabeth, who, however, later (1581) substituted for it a corporation consisting of a warden, bridge master, burgesses and commonalty: the governing charter until the 19th century was that of James I. (1685) incorporating the town under the title of the mayor, bridge master and burgesses. In 1400 Thomas Holand, earl of Kent, held the bridge in the interests of the deposed Richard II., but was eventually forced to retire. In 1643 a meeting took place in the town between Charles I. and three of his children. In the 18th century a considerable trade was done in carrying malt, meal and timber in barges to London: at that time three fairs were held which have now practically disappeared. The Wednesday market is held under a charter of Elizabeth (1582).

MAID MARIAN, a personage incorporated in the English legend of Robin Hood. There is no evidence that she had originally any connexion with the Robin Hood cycle. She seems to have been an essential feature of the morris dance, and in the may-game was paired sometimes with Robin-Hood, but oftener with Friar Tuck. The well-known pastoral play of Adam de la Hale, Jeu de Robin et M arion, and the many French songs on the subject, account for the association of the names. In the ballads on Robin Hood her name is twice casually mentioned, but there is a late ballad, by a certain S. G. (F. ]. Child, English and Scottish Ballads, i. 219), which tells how Maid Marian sought Robin in the forest disguised as a page, and fought with him for an hour before she recognized him by his voice. S. G. was perhaps acquainted with the two plays, written in 1598, of The Downfall and The Death of Robert Earl of Huntingdon, by Anthony Munday and Harry Chettle. In The Downfall Matilda Fitz Walter escapes from the persecution of King John by following her lover to Sherwood Forest, where they took the names of Robin Hood and Maid Marian, and lived apart until they could be legally united. Perhaps this tale has some connexion with the romance of the outlaw Fulk Fitz Warin. Matilda or Mahaud, widow of Theobald Walter, escaped from John's solicitations by marrying the outlawed Fulk and following him to the forest. There were in semi-historical legends three Matildas pursued by King John, of whom particulars are given by H. L. D. Ward in his Catalogue of Romances (i. 502). Their several histories were fused by the Elizabethan dramatists, and associated with the Maid Marian of the morris dance, who up to that time had probably only a vague connexion with Robin Hood.

MAIDSTONE, a market town and municipal and parliamentary borough, and the county town of Kent, England, 41 m. E.S.E. of London by the South Eastern & Chatham railway. Pop. (1901), 33,516; area, 4008 acres. It lies principally on the eastern bank of the river Medway, the modern part 'spreading over the western slopes of a picturesque valley, which is intersected and environ ed by orchards and hop gardens, this being the richest agricultural district of Kent. The hop grounds form the socalled middle growth of Kent, and the town has the principal grain market in the county. Archbishop Boniface in 1260 established a hospital here (Newark hospital) for poor pilgrims, the chapel of which, with modern additions, is now St Peter's Church. The parish church of St Mary, which had existed from Norman times, was demolished in 1395 by Archbishop Courtenay. who erected on the site the present church of All