With Valentines Day fast approaching I thought I’d offer a refresher on the manners of chivalry. As before we turn to De Amore (1184-86), a poem with a list of rules for what we commonly know as chivalry and what literary scholars call courtly love. The English translation of the title is A Treatise on Courtly Love.
From the Infogalactic page on De Amore:
Courtly love is reserved for the middle and upper classes in De Amore. Attractive peasant girls are to be shunned or, failing this, “embraced by force”:
If you should, by some chance, fall in love with a peasant woman, be careful to puff her up with lots of praise and then, when you find a convenient opportunity, do not hold back but take your pleasure and embrace her by force. For you can hardly soften their outward inflexibility so far that they will grant you their embraces quietly or permit you to have the solaces you desire unless you first use a little compulsion as a convenient cure for their shyness. We do not say these things, however, because we want to persuade you to love such women, but only so that, if through lack of caution you should be driven to love them, you may know, in brief compass, what to do. (Parry, p. 150, adapted).
In a similar vein, Andreas describes nuns as easy to seduce, although he condemns anyone who does so as a “disgusting animal.” (This caution does not apply to monks or priests.)
The logic here is obvious. Courtly love (what we call chivalry) was created by powerful noblewomen to upend Christian teaching on men, women, and sexual morality. What it does is justify noble women going feral sexually by claiming that women’s sexual desire is virtuous, even sanctifying. That noble women would prefer to maximize their own sexual opportunity while restricting their competition isn’t surprising in the least. I can think of no more effective way for the Countess of Champagne and her clique to keep those common bitches in their place than to declare them open season for noblemen to rape.
What should surprise us is that over 800 years later nearly all modern Christians mistake this for something virtuous, the lens to look through when interpreting Scripture.
See Also: Fifty shades of Lancelot.