Chapter 2

2. An English romance of chivalry
 What was the deciding factor for the Faculty of Leiden to coach me with my doctoral research? Without doubt the existence of a French game name jeu de dames about 1380. Finding this source had not cost me much trouble: Murray mentioned it in 1952 in a footnote at page 75.
Chess and draughts have things in common: the checkered board, pieces that can only move in forward direction and can be promoted on the last row. In French, draughts is called jeu de dames and the chess queen dame, and therefore it was appropriate that Murray searched for a connection. Because he claimed that the name dame was older than the name (jeu de) dames, he asserted that chess had influenced draughts. But… did he believe that indeed?: as a leading chess historian he knew, of course, perfectly well that the game name (jeu de dames) was older than the name dame of the chess queen.
In any case, the game name (jeu de) dames is at least one age older than the name dame of the chess queen, and therefore I shall consider in chapters 4 and 5 the reverse relation: have chess players in some way been influenced by draughts players?
The 1380 source has got such a moment by now that I feel obliged to quote the relevant text.
An unknown English poet recounts in his romance of chivalry “Sir Ferumbras” a visit of confidents of Charlemagne to a Mohammedan sovereign. “Tell me about the way knights from the West spend their days”, the sovereign asks. “In some time of the year the landlords go hawking and hunt for deer, fox of hare, or, even more often, they engage in tournaments”, the knights answer him. “And at home they are playing chess, draughts or tables”. In the 14th c. text: “Tho that willieth to leue at hame: pleyeth to the eschekkere & summe of hem to iew-de-dame: and summe to tablere”.
riddertoernooi modern
In romances of this kind knights invariably play chess and tables. Why does the author deviate from this pattern? Because of the rhyme. He chose a complicated rhyme scheme with middle rhyme: a word in the middle of a line rhymes with a word in the middle of a previous or following line. He was in urgent need for a rhyme on the English word hame (the present word home), and he chose French iew-de-dame. He reveals his familiarity with French, as the game iew-de-dame is his spelling of the French game name jeu de dames.

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