"Ye Jades?" What is that supposed to mean? (Early modern English)

In the Wikipedia entry on Sir William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke, it says this:

Could someone shed some light on the meanings of some of these words? What’s “ye jades” supposed to mean? What is “crying peccavi?” And what exactly is being described in this anecdote?

It reads to me like he had a low opinion of nuns. Peccavi looks like latin for sin. Maybe he was calling the nuns, “Sinners!”? The last line seems pretty clear. Jades is some sort of derogatory term for women? nuns? and he’s saying go do something useful, like spinning.

Sounds like he was basically calling the nuns “old nags.”

‘Peccavi’ is, I believe, ‘you have sinned’ in Latin.

And yes, jades are horses – specifically worthless old horses that are well past their usefulness.

Probably its best known use is in Marlowe’s Tamburlaine, when that character addresses the conquered monarchs who are yoked and pulling his cart.

*“Holla, ye pampered jades of Asia. What, can ye draw but twenty miles a day?”

“Jade” was a term of abuse for a woman.

Peccavi is Latin for “I have sinned”. Presumably the Earl of Pembroke was staging a show of penitence when the nuns returned to their abbey and Catholicism was back in favour. Once the religious climate switched back to Protestantism, he reverted to abusing the nuns again.

Peccavi is Latin. It means “I have sinned”.

Wilton Abbey was a Benedictine convent, dissolved in 1539 during Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries. The abbey building and estates were granted to Sir William Herbert, who adapted and extended the building as his own home and renamed it Wilton House.

When Mary ascended to the throne and sought to reconcile the English church with Rome, the nuns who had been turned out came back to Wilton. Herbert was either required, or found it politically convenient, to hand the property – or at lesst the house – back to them. It is on this occasion, according to this story, that he cried peccavi – presumably an admission that he should never have accepted the monastic property in the first place. But when Mary died his attitude changed, and he returned to Wilton to turn the nuns out again, abusing them in terms that amount to “useless nags”.

Herbert had better luck the second time he took over the property. Wilton House is still the home of the Herbert family.

That reminds me of the message that General Napier reportedly sent back to headquarters after conquering the Indian province of Sindh. It was short and sweet, “Peccavi.” I have Sindh, in other words.

You know, in Saudi Arabia they would stone you for that.

That’s what comes from listening to too many Bob Dylan songs.

(“So I would not feel so all alone…”)

More than that; in taking Sindh he also went against his orders, so he was also saying ‘I have sinned’, or disobeyed my orders.

But with the vital caveat that the entire story is almost certainly bogus. There is no other evidence that the nuns ever tried to reclaim the abbey.

It would have been extraordinary if they had done. With a handful of (important) exceptions, reversing the dissolution of the monasteries was the one policy Mary I found herself unable to push through.

In the “old horse” sense of the word, it’s also in Shakespeare’s Richard II, Act III: “Down, down I come; like glistering Phaeton / Wanting the manage of unruly jades.”

Unfortunately not true, according to this reviewof Saul David’s “Victoria’s Wars” - the pun was invented by a 17 year old schoolgirl, and sent in to Punch where it gained its lasting fame.

My edition of Brewer’s also denies the Napier/peccavi link, stating that the pun was actually the work of:

Pity. It’s a good story.

“Jades” were horses before the term was applied to women. Appropriate for a steed (horse or woman) who has been too much ridden.

Peccavi is “I (not you) have sinned.”

Napier was under orders NOT to capture any new territory; therefore his message had the double meaning of “I have Sind” (He captured the kingdom) and “I have sinned” (He had disobeyed orders).
Sind (sometimes spelled Sindh) was the home of the famous Sailor Sindbad (originally Sindabad), and is now a province of Pakistan.

Napier beat Caesar by two words.

Sindhis had a reputation in the medieval Middle East as sailors and pirates, because Sindhi pirates preyed on Arabian shipping in the Indian Ocean.

If you flog a dead horse, does it lurch around looking for brains?

Whereas Barbie pirates were most active in the Mediterranean…