In several posts and on various other blogger’s comment threads I’ve debated that the social paradigms of chivalry and feminism are cultural engineerings of the feminine imperative. I delved into the history of chivalry in The Feminine Imperative – Circa 1300 and made my best attempt to outline the history of chivalry, the feminine bastardization of it and how it was the cultural parallel and precursor to feminism. Naturally the more romantic leaning of my critics chose to keep their noses in their holy books and epic poems rather than take the time to consider the historical underpinnings of what we now consider chivalry and monogamous romantic love.
A search phrase I was recently using came back with this imbedded in the result:
“Cultural historians believe that romantic love was created sometime in the 14th century”.
The link stated that the idea of “Romantic Love” was created by troubadours in verses by the idea of “Courtly Love” that arose in its beginnings the the end of the 12th century. So I started going back,back,back,back, back (-Chris Berman) and I found this: The Art of Courtly Love
The book is important. The foreword by John Jay Perry was written in 1941. The title of this book is “The Art of Courtly Love” but it is actually a Victorian Era title imposed on the work that has several other different titles as a function of the era when the translation was performed, country where the translator lived, and particular social attitudes prevalent when and where the translator produced the translation. I think the “Romantic Era” was when these ideas of “courtly love” finally percolated up into mainstream thought, well, actually women’s mainstream thought, and defined love as we believe it be today, or at least defined it as women wish that definition to be imposed on men.
The title I generally use is “Treatise on Love”. Andreas Capellenus was the Chaplain of Countess Marie, and the preface goes into all of this history and I don’t want to get it into it. Read it.
It is the seminal work on the subject and there is no earlier work by a European. There is reference to Ibn Hazm, an Islamic writer from Spain, who began to define the idea of “love” in Islamic cultures. It went through a series of other writers in the 13th century and orally communicated through verse and song during the 14th century and made its way into the consciousness of western thought from the 14th century on.
The key thing is that these Troubadours were not some “traveling band” singing for their supper. Maybe later, but at this time, they were major nobles, from both the nobility and the higher noble classes. The first major one referenced was Duke William of Aquitaine, who was Marie’s grandfather. These were important people of the time. This would maybe be like, God forbid, Senator Harry Reid, breaking into a song after dinner about the importance of passing spending bills to ease the particular issues about the “sequester” that are key issues to Democrats or Ben Bernake letting loose about the Quantitative Easing. Ok, maybe not exactly.
The issue at the time, was that, as the historians state, that “Love as we know it did not exist. Marriage was as much as about land and politics as anything else”. It was said you “Married a fiefdom and a wife got thrown in the bargain”. Imagine a time where firelight and sunlight were practically the only light, when people rarely traveled more than 12 miles from their place of birth, when nothing, and I mean nothing, changed. The major cathedral built in Nimes took 38 generations to complete. The skyline never changed, towns remained the same. There were no books. None. All knowledge was conveyed orally and generally died with a person. The only cultural conditioning was what you got by watching the people you saw. And you saw very few people. Even at the peasant level, most marriages were the tossing together of two available young people, and that was that. But particularly at the noble level, all marriages were entirely based on practical considerations and nothing to do with “love” as we know it.
And the major church writers the time, just skewered women. The preface named several, and while I can’t find actual text of the writers specific to women, Bernard de Morlaix, John of Salisbury, I can find overall references to what they said about morality in general. They were a group that very much about self control. And it was thought that due to the “wickedness” of women, it was probably superior to remain a virgin. And thus the idea of the “celibate” priest was born. He could not be “godly”, and should be suspect, if he allowed himself to come under the temptation of women.These guys were definitely the “Red Pill” writers of the time. The general idea was not so much that sex was bad, but women were so bad, and sex was lure, the hook, so they damned sex as a means to keep men from getting ensnared in the traps and wickedness that women lay for men. And the thought has a little bit of merit, I must say.
So, think about this. The men in power at the time, saw some of the stuff we see, and they gave a huge “thumbs down” on women. Huge.
Now, heading into the second 500 years of Christianity, throw a “rubbing elbows” with Moslems in Spain, and this idea of “love” starts to percolate about, sort of this “counter-culture” idea of the time. It did not exist at all before in European culture, this idea of “soul mates” and “intertwined” spirits and “the ennobling qualities of love”, love as the be all and end all, the very reason to live.
And it was made up.
By women. Duh?
So there were moments, during this period 1170-1250 were in certain places the women got control. It the case of this Marie, she got control of this region “Troyes” in southern France when her son was named to be noble over the region and he was 11 years old. So she accompanied him down there and was the defacto “regent” during his “minority”. Her husband became King while she was down there. So this was a woman of major influence. And her sister was married to someone that also became King of someplace else. Their mother had been both Queen of France and then Queen of England after she divorced the King of France. This was a powerful woman who got what she wanted. And two of the chief architects of “love” were her two daughters, who married extremely high status men.
The same thing happened at the same time in about 3 other major places in the area, and these women, began to “flirt: with idea of “Courtly Love”. Flirt maybe is a little weak of word. But the general idea of most writers about the theme is that they “Proposed it as countervailing religion or thought to Christianity.” Christianity had so vilified women during the past 200 years, and this “love” stuff was really one of the first “feminisms”.
And near I am can tell, it was literally the birth of the Feminine Imperative. At least, the birth of the version that we know today.
The general idea was this.
“Women are the love. Women give praise to men and the power of that praise is the driving motivator of men. All good things that men do are only done in the true spirit of love to earn the right to the love that the woman confers to the men. Women define what is good. Women confer status on men by allowing them to receive the love they receive from women as a result of high character and accomplishment”.
So that was why some “Sir Goodguy” white knight would tie the scarf of the woman around his neck during some contest. It was his sign to her that he was doing this brave dead for her love and his recognition that she saw him as good and worthy.
They actually created these things called “The Court of Love”. And these men and women, and you can imagine the men in those courts were the 12th or 13th century equivalents of Manginas, would literally “rule” on love. They would debate questions, actions, and then determine is an act was good or bad and then that further defined “love”. Remember again, this was not idle chit chat after dinner. These were the major movers and shakers of the time. This was the court that would go on to exert cultural and intellectual control over Europe until 1914. And really even later than that. For nearly 1000 years, the French held sway in everything and Paris was the center of the world. Except at this time, this part of France, the south was the big deal.
One example I saw was letter written by a man that said, he and a woman were having heated discussion of two points, (1) Can true love exists in a marriage. (2) Can there be jealousy between the married partners. The Countess, the Queen of Love, at that time wrote back and said “No, love cannot exist in a marriage. Love is freely given and asks for nothing in return. Marriage is a contract of duties. So there is no love in a marriage. And Jealousy is a prerequisite of love and since only lovers could be jealous and since married people were not lovers, then their could be no jealousy in a marriage. ” And that was that. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Love had issued a ruling. And its weight was everything.
And needless to say, it was a mighty convenient development for women that were traded off into marriage as pawns attached to land. So it conferred the key power of social definition and the final say of what is good in men, and good in society, and that women should and will be the definers, and the arbiters, and the judges of all of that.
The translators, and this particular author John Jay Parry, mention that was nothing particularly distinguishing about Andreas Capellanus that would make it seem like he was the person to end up as this great literary figure that wrote a work that is “One of those capital works that explain the thought of a great epoch, which explain the secret of a civilization”. Parry said often, some of the prose was different in style and “meter”, such that it seemed “dictated” to him.
And frankly I am sure the whole book was “dictated” to him. That he was, in fact, as chaplain, the mouthpiece of these women, and his position as Chaplain allowed the viewpoints expressed to be accepted in a way that a work created and made public by women, given what it expresses, would have viewed more critically by readers. Keep in mind that it was written in Latin, and only those who were either Clerics or the nobility could read the thing. What wasn’t literally dictated, was more or less, transcribed thought, and he knew that Marie was final “editor” in the content. And his position, both as Chaplain, and his very livelihood, depending on her being happy with the finished product.
So let me make an analogy, and step just a little bit in time. Things are little muddled today cultural to make a similar one from a very current example.
Consider Hugh Hefner. And consider his show called Playboy After Dark. This was a time of much “friction”, the early 60s. Civil rights and racism are extreme issues. Sexual “freedom” is coming about. The “rights” of just about everyone are much talked about. The setting which was sort of this contrived “salon” from Paris. The set looked like a large living room in a swanky spiffy Playboy bachelor pad. All these “cool”, meaning avante guarde, “open minded”, intellectually superior, artistically superior, liberal people are just hanging out, having a spiffy party. Hef does more for civil rights in a minute than 50 writers do in 10 years by having Sammy Davis Jr on the show. Hef did more for women’s liberation by having a “guest” on the show to talk about it and the camera sees Hef nodding approval, than 50 screeching female professors could ever do.
So then that “cool” boy, that wants to be like Hef, all through the 60s and the 70s, the “cool boy” believes in Equal Rights, Racism, Feminism and this idea of “gender” and “race” being a culturally imposed concept. And that “cool” boy does it exactly because it is “artistically and culturally superior” than the conservative ideas of the time. So then imagine how pervasive both of those viewpoints on Racism and Sexism are today and how “religious” both have become in such a short time, historically. All of us have experienced the reaction of people to our Red Pill beliefs that border on religious arguments. And some of the biggest fighters of what we propose are men. So a philosophy can quickly move from the fringe and become core if the “right” people get behind it and push it.
So then imagine the same thing back in 1200, the “cool” boy, the son of the nobles, that reads latin, has a little bit of education, he thinks the Catholic church is a bunch of sticks in the mud. He is literally built, wired, for sex, to want women. And this idea of “love” makes absolute sense to him, or at least he wants it to make sense, because the top of line, highest status women, those noble women in that area between Barcelona and maybe, Bologna, were all giving approval to those men that bought into it. So by saying “I believe in Love” or “I am in Love’s army”, or “I am a soldier of love”, what he is saying is “I’m cool, man. Please like me.”
And just like today, any guy that goes against Feminism or attacks the behavior of women is shunned. I hurl some attack on women in comments to an article, and some woman comes back with “Oh, I be you just get you tons”. So in 1200, It is “No ‘Love”, then no ‘love’”, you were ostracized by women, at least the cool French Chicks who were the celebs of the day.
And so it takes hold, and as Feminism has co-opted the church, today’s women have imposed their viewpoint on church acceptance of divorce, premarital sex, with the whole idea of the “magic vagina” of women compelling those men into better behavior and better performance, and the woman has the right and the duty to punish him for failure to live up to the love that the woman has given him as a gift that he must continue to earn, the same thing happens with “love”. It co-opts the Catholic church of the day, and throughout the 13th and 14th centuries, “love” creeps into the morality and consciousness of the people at the time. The “love” thing is dominating the “court” and is leaks into the church in the relationship of accomplices that they first and second estate have which each other. It catches on and becomes the dominant aspect of the culture and women are “rehabilited”, seize control, and never let go. They have the “authority” because they have the “morality”, and they drive the course of society by controlling what is “moral” and what is “honorable”. And what constitutes both, from that point forward, are generally what is in the best interest of women, given their situation, given the time.
So why is this important to us?
First, the whole idea of “Courtly Love” was entirely hypergamistic. Entirely. The Capellanus book has as the heart of the second part, 9 dialogues. These dialogues define the Feminine Imperative.
Keep in mind, at this time, there might have been maybe 500 books floating around in total. And this is the only one on this topic available for a 100 years. The only other referenced work before this was Ovid “The Art of Love” and most scholars really see Ovid as more of a satire on the “treatises” written during his day, and not as a REFERENCE MANUAL that people today, including myself (pre-Red Pill) , see it.
I took it as “how to” book. And what it should be titled is “How to be a AFC Beta”. Also keep in mind that books were so rare, that everything thing was relayed as an oral tradition. Even as late at 1513, Luther said he had been a priest for 3 years before he ever even saw a Bible. And that’s the effing bible.
So here you are somewhere in 1200, and this major Noble dude guy, or high status babe, gets up and starts talking or singing about this new “love” thing, and everyone is nodding and agreeing. And if they don’t nod and agree, then they don’t get to be in the group, they’re fired. The High Status women turn on them, and they are ostracized.
So in the 9 dialogues, there are a series of conversations that men of one of three statuses would have with a women of one of the same three statuses. Those statuses being “commoner, noble, high noble”. And these dialogues set the ground work, the rules, of what both men and women of all three classes should, do, feel, and think about “love”. And “love” is only between those classes. Peasants don’t love. They need to stay on the farm and work it. They have no time for “love”. And love is only between people that aren’t married.
And there you go right there, with anachronistic thought. You probably thought, single people. No. Single people weren’t dating and marrying. No way. That was decided by someone else. You were probably going to be part of some arranged marriage. “Love” was between married people, at least married women and a man, but not married to each other. You can already see the way hypergamy is influencing the idea of “love”. Girl gets pawned off as a 14 year old or 15 year old as part of some arrangement between older family members. She probably didn’t like her husband very much, given what we know about women today. And he probably didn’t like her much either. I am sure there were just as many men when they first saw there “betrothed” thought, “Oh fuck, you have got to be shitting me. I have to marry this bitch?”
And in these dialogues, pure hypergamy is enforced and codified. The dialogues enforced class, at least enforced it for men. Men could try and love “up”, but most likely they couldn’t unless they displayed such extreme good character that their character was better than all of the available men in the class of the woman he was “hitting on”. But it also set a nice set of rules for women “move up”. But the women were the ones, in every case, to judge the men, the determine that even though the women were “moving” up, they still were to ones to say “OK, I’ll take you You are worthy of my love”.
And then it also codified acceptance for women to be able to “cheat” on their husbands. “Courtly Love” was only between people that were not married. They got around the 10 commandments, by stipulating that the true lover never asks for sex in return for his love. He loves merely for the purity of his love. And that the whole endeavor was supposed to remain entirely secret. That if it became public, then the “love” was dead. Over. At best he got a kiss, maybe an embrace. Gentlemen in the army of “love” never tell. And Gentlemen never demand sex. Which of course, all of this was bullshit. But since “Courtly Love” was “love” for “love”‘s sake then those husbands couldn’t get jealous, and nobody loves their husband anyway. So it gave a socially acceptable way for this woman that had this beta forced on her by marriage, then get out their and have exposure to the alphas that she truly wanted. And it gave her a social means to circumvent the church. And since everyone, at least everyone who mattered, was married to someone they didn’t like, then it was an early version of “Don’t ask; don’t tell”.
This also forms the basis of monogamy, as we know it, codified by women, in that the definition of it truly benefits women. “The true lover that truly loves only loves the one. He cannot love two. The sight of other women do not affect him because he has true love for his true love.” Notice that there are a lot of “he” and ‘his” words used. The book asserts that those men that would want sex with lots of women and have passion for someone other than “the one” under the guise of love is an an “ass”, mule, dressed up in the finest livery, but still an “ass”.
Schopenhauer said “Love! If you would have thought it up, your fellows would have thought you daft. The mere idea that because a woman allows you her favors, that you should support her for life.”
Well, it was thought up, by these women in the south of France, and it curled around and snaked its way into the current consciousness of people like it was something that people have done since the dawn of men. And it wasn’t.
When you read Capellanus’ statement of what “love” is, it is the seminal definition, the very “jump street”, the Genesis of the codification of “OneItis”. And when you read the dialogues, and then this list of the “Rules of Love” which is the part of the book that is most public, you see the fingerprint of the Feminine Imperative.
I think at some point in my reading, someone had described Capellanus as being very “Copernican”,as in Copernicus, and astrology, threatening the religion and the concept of the world.
I say we use him again in a Copernican manner, as the very argument that the Feminine Imperative is an entirely contrived ideal.
And we reject “love”, as in the definition of it by Capellanus. We see it as the social manipulation that it was to orchestrate the emotions of men, and actions from those emotions, entirely for the benefit of women.
Churchill said “In England, it is permitted unless it is not permitted. In Germany, it is permitted only if it is permitted. In Russia, it is not permitted even if it is permitted. And in France, it is permitted, even when it is not permitted.”
To some degree that combination of all four “permitteds” describes the Feminine Imperative. It is permitted when they want it to be permitted and not permitted when they do not. Even if it is not permitted then it is permitted, if it is in the benefit of women. And especially, it is not permitted even when it is permitted, in the case where it might benefit men at the expense of women.
They only way to put a brunt on the Feminine Imperative is make them pay a cost for their behavior. And the best way for men to do that is the rejection of “love”.
In the words of YaReally, “The manosphere is the new counter-culture”.
We are the new “cool boys”. We are the new “rebels”.
And you need to read Capellanus, and as you read it, to see the manipulation in the pages. Maybe it was adopted because it had social value to blunt the negative behavior or the men of the time and turn it in a constructive direction.
But today it is only something that is used to provide advantage for women. And that advantage is often used at the expense of men, and furthermore, for the punishment of men, the social shaming of men, when women deem the men’s behavior or actions to be at the detriment of women. And they are allowed to be judge, jury, and executioner of their verdict. And no one ever challenges them.
And we begin by rejecting unilaterally, out of hand, “love” for the pack of lies it is.
So I say we use our position as influence peddlers, taste makers, of our day and time, and shame men, Mangina men, and White Knights as fools; toadies for women and their “love”. And make no mistake, that whole White Knight shit comes exactly from this book. We all should read “Treatise on Love”, deconstruct it, and expose it for the bullshit sham it is.
I have ranted this in the past. It is time for men to gain an entirely new consciousness, a new awareness, a entirely new set of constructivism abstracts on which to frame their thinking.
The constant whine, complaint, criticism of the manosphere is that is attacks “love”, it makes “love” impossible, it kills “love”.
And I say, no it doesn’t. It exposes the reality of the impossibility of “love” because “love” is entirely a manufactured ideal. And modern Feminism has brought about the recognition of the impossibility of it and rubbed it in the face of men. If you pine for it, it you whine about it, the end of it, the lack of it, then you deny the truth of it.
Modern life is entirely developed as a means to blunt the natural advantages that men have. This “love” is a further handicap, a weight on your shoulders, that limits your ability to use your advantage, physically, mentally, by women exploiting the emotional advantage that women have over men. She only has this advantage if you allow her to have it.
So discard it. It is religion in you that does not work to your advantage.
So yes, “They have a right to do anything that we can’t stop them from doing”.
But we have the capacity and the ability to make them pay for it.
In the end, and my life right now is living proof of this, they need us more than we need them. We want them; they need us. And the things that most women want, they get from us. And without the handicap of “love”, you can make them pay, and pay, and pay, until they fucking cry uncle.
A lot of shit got slung at me last week about making comparisons of chivalry being an antiquated social extension of the Feminine Imperative. I’ve written about the concept of chivalry and its impact on the intergender landscape of today, but as I read through certain select comments in Sanitizing the Imperative and after reading the misconception about chivalry on other blogs I felt the idea of chivalry deserved a bit more attention.
Over the course of my travails in the manosphere one common misperception I read a lot coming from well meaning red pill men, as well as the predictable blue pill white knight is this broken and romanticized notion of what chivalry means to them and should mean for everyone else expected to “play by the rules.” I originally touched upon the convenient use the modern Feminine Imperative has made in making appeals to anachronistic idealisms like chivalry and honor in The Honor System. I then revisited this in a bit more detail after the Concordia shipwreck with the women and children first debate even staunch jezebelers couldn’t resist in Chivalry vs. Altruism:
Chivalry is simply one of many ideologies that was subsumed by westernized romanticism. Chivalry also applied toward things such as not hitting a man while he wasn’t looking or attacking a blatantly undefendable, inferior or even a respected foe. It was originally intended as a code of etheics determined by the Roman Catholic church to control the otherwise lawless and violent natures of soldiers and knights who, understandably, had a tendency for brigandism in the middle ages. What passes for most people’s understanding of chivalry is actually a classic interpretation and bastardization of western romanticisim and the ideologies of ‘courtly love’, which ironically enough was also an effort by the women of the period intended to better control the men of the early and high Renaissance. Essentially it amounted to a taming of the over-dominating masculine influence of the time by laying out a system of prescribed appropriate conditions necessary to satisfy a womans access to her intimacy.
You’ll have to forgive me for indulging in a history lesson for today’s post, but it is necessary. What I find most common in men’s interpretation of chivalry is an almost Disneyesque mental return to knightly virtues of the past that only ever existed in films like Excalibur. My first amazement is that concept of romanticized chivalry have endured as long as they have. This is not due to some provable merit, but rather that the expectations of the more useful aspects of chivalry have benefitted the Feminine Imperative for so long that they’ve become ubiquitous expectations of men – even while coexisting beside a feminism that actively derides them.
So bear with me while we return to the foggy days of medieval Western Europe to search for the true roots of chivalry.
Origins of Chivalry
The year is around 1060 and over the last 100 years or so (i.e. the ‘dark ages’) a feudal system of moneyed landowners and their personal militias have made a mess of things. In spite of the best efforts of containment and control by the Holy Roman Empire, constant violence and sporadic wars amongst these small states have led to a breakdown in the fabric of society. Brigandism and outright barbarism are common amongst these militias – what they lacked was a common enemy, and what the church lacked was resources.
The Holy Roman Empire would provide that common enemy in the form of the Muslim (Moors) infidels to the south and a series of bloody crusades ensued. The Moors of course possessed the resources the church was desirous of, but the church lacked a cohesive social / religious order under which to unite the various militias they needed to process their crusades. Thus was born the code of chivalry.
This code appealed well to the martial pride of the evolving noble class, but further cemented the ideology into the commoners by pairing it with the religious doctrine of the era. The code was thus described as the Ten Commandments of chivalry:
- Believe the Church’s teachings and observe all the Church’s directions.
- Defend the Church.
- Respect and defend all weaknesses.
- Love your country.
- Do not recoil before an enemy.
- Show no mercy to the Infidel. Do not hesitate to make war with them.
- Perform all duties that agree with the laws of God.
- Never lie or go back on one’s word.
- Be generous to everyone.
- Always and everywhere be right and good against evil and injustice.
Not a bad code of ethics under which to unite factions who previously had little better to do than smash each other with maces and steal each other’s resources. It’s a difficult task to get a man to die for another man, but give him an ideology, and that he’ll die for.
The chivalric code worked surprisingly well for over three centuries and was instrumental in consolidating most of the countries that evolved into the Western Europe we know today. However, as with most ‘well intentioned’ social contracts, what originated as a simplistic set of absolute rules was progressively distorted by countervailing influences as time, affluence and imperatives shifted and jockeyed for control.
For all of the influence that the church exerted in using chivalry as a social contract, it was primarily a contract played out amongst men. With the notable exceptions of a few select Queens and Jeanne d’Arc, it was only men who had any true social input either publicly or privately during this time. It wasn’t until the mid-thirteenth century that (noble) women would insert their own imperative into the concept of chivalry.
At the time, chivalry was a mans’ club, and unless she was a widow, women were more or less insignificant in the scope of chivalry. A nobleman might take a wife, but rarely were these marriages romantic in nature. Rather they served as political alliances between states (and often consolidating church control) and a man’s romantic and sexual interests were served by mistresses or the spoils of his conquests. In fidelity was expected in noble marriages.
Enter the French noblewomen Eleanor of Aquitaine and Marie de Champagne. Both of these Ladys were instrumental in attaching the concept of courtly love and romance to the chivalric code that we (somewhat) know today. The wealth and affluence that Western Europe enjoyed from the late medieval to the high renaissance provided the perfect environment into which high-born women were feeling more comfortable inserting their imperative.
Both of these noble women had a love for the traveling troubadours of the time, espousing acts of love and devotion as merits for a new aristocracy. Originally courtly love was a much more pagan ideal, but like the church had done centuries before, when ideologically fused to the chivalric code it gradually proved to be an amazingly effective source of social control over men.
In it’s earliest form, courtly love was much more salacious than the socially controlling device it evolved into:
Properly applied, the phrase l’amour courtois identified an extravagantly artificial and stylized relationship–a forbidden affair that was characterized by five main attributes. In essence, the relationship was
- Aristocratic. As its name implies, courtly love was practiced by noble lords and ladies; its proper milieu was the royal palace or court.
- Ritualistic. Couples engaged in a courtly relationship conventionally exchanged gifts and tokens of their affair. The lady was wooed according to elaborate conventions of etiquette (cf. “courtship” and “courtesy”) and was the constant recipient of songs, poems, bouquets, sweet favors, and ceremonial gestures. For all these gentle and painstaking attentions on the part of her lover, she need only return a short hint of approval, a mere shadow of affection. After all, she was the exalted domina–the commanding “mistress” of the affair; he was but her servus–a lowly but faithful servant.
- Secret. Courtly lovers were pledged to strict secrecy. The foundation for their affair–indeed the source of its special aura and electricity–was that the rest of the world (except for a few confidantes or go-betweens) was excluded. In effect, the lovers composed a universe unto themselves–a special world with its own places (e.g., the secret rendezvous), rules, codes, and commandments.
- Adulterous. ”Fine love”–almost by definition–was extramarital. Indeed one of its principle attractions was that it offered an escape from the dull routines and boring confinements of noble marriage (which was typically little more than a political or economic alliance for the purpose of producing royal offspring). The troubadours themselves scoffed at marriage, regarding it as a glorified religious swindle. In its place they exalted their own ideal of a disciplined and decorous carnal relationship whose ultimate objective was not crude physical satisfaction, but a sublime and sensual intimacy.
- Literary. Before it established itself as a popular real-life activity, courtly love first gained attention as a subject and theme in imaginative literature. Ardent knights, that is to say, and their passionately adored ladies were already popular figures in song and fable before they began spawning a host of real-life imitators in the palace halls and boudoirs of medieval Europe. (Note: Even the word “romance”–from Old French romanz–began life as the name for a narrative poem about chivalric heroes. Only later was the term applied to the distinctive love relationship commonly featured in such poems.)
Last week Dalrock had an outstanding summation of romantic love – Feral Love – that got lost amongst his other posts. This is unfortunate because virtually every thing he brings to light here finds its roots in exactly the romanticized courtly love rituals outlined above. What we consider acts of romance today, what we consider our chivalric duties to uphold in their regard, are all the results of a 13th century feminine imperative’s attempts to better effect women’s innate (and socially repressed) hypergamy. When we think of noble acts of self-sacrifice for women this is where the origins are. One of the more cruel acts of devotion a ‘lover’ may ask of her paramours was to bleed themselves for her; capturing the blood in a vessel after slicing his foram and comparing the amount therein.
In the doldrums of a well provided-for existence, women will actively create the elusive indignation they need to feel alive. The women of the early courts were effectively perfecting the art of maintaining a bullpen of beta orbiters willing to address all of her unmet emotionalism while being fucked raw by their badboy knights to sire royal Alpha children when they returned from campaigns. The courtly love practices of the 13th century served the same purpose for women as Facebook does today –attention – balancing the Alpha seed with the beta need.
As I wrote in last week’s installment, while the Feminine Imperative remains the same, its social extensions for exerting itself change with conditions and environment it finds itself in. There’s been some recent discussion in the manosphere that feminism can only exist in an affluent society that provides sufficient internal social controls to protect the extensions of the Feminine Imperative. For instance, while Slut Walks may be encouraged in Sweden, there are very few in Egypt at the moment. One socioeconomic environment supports the expresion of the imperative, the other does not.
The concept of chivalry, in its original, intent was the result of a social control in an otherwise lawless environment. Later, when affluence accumulated and an upper class evolved, so too do the social extensions of the Feminine Imperative.
Fusing the philosophy and rituals of courtly love with the chivalric code was one such extension of the time – and a more enduring one I’ll add. The major failing most White Knights and moralistically leaning red pill men have today is understanding that the modern concept of chivalry, and all their feel-good Arthurian idealism bastardized for the last millennia, sprang from the want of a more exercisable hypergamy for the women of the era.
It should then come as no shock that the old model of romanticized chivalry would conflict with the more overt social extension of today’s feminism. A want for that old, socially coerced, masculine devotion clashes with the ‘do-it-yourself’ feminism of today.
The Rise of Courtly Love: Courtly Love and Cultural Influence
By Brandy Stark
History and origin:
The term amour courtois (courtly love) was given its original definition by Gaston Paris in 1883. In an article on Medieval behaviors, he proposed that the “lover” accepts the independence of his mistress and tries to make himself worthy of her by acting bravely and honorably and by doing whatever deeds she might desire. Sexual satisfaction was not necessarily the goal or even end result, though sexual attraction could be a part of courtly love.
●Given that practices similar to courtly love were already prevalent in the Islamicate world, it is very likely that Islamicate practices influenced the Christian Europeans.
●In 11th-century Spain, a group of wandering poets appeared who would go from court to court, and sometimes travel to Christian courts in southern France.
Courtly love was the study of the bonds of humankind. It brought the elements of theological study into the secular mindset as the emotion of love combined with rational, critical thought. The eleventh century foundations of courtly love were, at first, a conception of love that defined friendship; love was seen as recognizing the virtue in another human being. It was also an ethical behavior, grace, and thought which aimed at the cultivation of virtue in the whole of mankind (Jaeger, 1994).
It found expression through the troubadours such as William IX, Duke of Aquitaine, in the 11th century. Sample of his writing:
chivalry and pride;
and since it pleases God, I accept it all,
that He may keep me by Him.
I enjoin my friends, upon my death,
all to come and do me great honour,
since I have held joy and delight
far and near, and in my abode.
Thus I give up joy and delight,
and squirrel and grey and sable furs.
Similar to a cult of friendship, writings document concern for the wellness of the reputation and standing among women. They also encourage men to forgo arrogance and to continue the study of how to win virtue.
One of its most important contributions was the elevation of the status of women. Eventually, courtly love evolved to the literature of leisure, directed to a largely female audience for the first time in European history.
How it worked: Poets declared themselves the servant/vassal of the lady and addressing her as midons (my lord), thus not revealing her name, and flattering her at the same time. The troubadour’s model of the ideal lady was the wife of his employer or lord, a lady of higher status, usually the rich and powerful female head of the castle. The poet gave voice to the aspirations of the courtier class, for only those who were noble could engage in courtly love (or could be engaged with higher education).
Other behaviors included:
●Worship of the lady from afar
●Declaration of passionate devotion
●Virtuous rejection by the lady
●Renewed wooing with oaths of virtue and eternal fealty
●Moans of approaching death from unsatisfied desire (and other physical manifestations of lovesickness)
●Heroic deeds of valor which win the lady’s heart
●(Literarily speaking): Consummation of the secret love
●(Literarily speaking): Endless adventures and subterfuges avoiding detection
Courtly love saw a woman as an ennobling spiritual and moral force, a view that was in opposition to ecclesiastical sexual attitudes. Rather than being critical of romantic and sexual love as sinful, the poets praised it as the highest good. Marriage had been declared a sacrament of the Church at the Fourth Lateran Council (1215). Within Christian marriage the only purpose of sex was for procreation; the ideal state was celibacy, even in marriage. This may not have been hard to maintain as most marriages were arrainged as part of the business/guild/and feudal system. This, then, allowed a man who was interested in a woman to aspire for her under chaste circumstances, seeking her first for her virtue. She was the unattainable ideal (a role that we also see with the Virgin Mary, who was also heavily promoted at this time).
Some of the finest writing can be found in the old French love lyrics from the early twelfth century. Women were portrayed as teachers of love offering instruction in virtue, and men were their students. The women of these poems taught that a lover must show generosity through acts of charity, particularly to impoverished nobles. He must be humble to all and ready to serve all. He must never speak ill of anyone, but where he sees evil men, he should discreetly reprove their bad behavior. He should never mock someone in distress. He should not be prone to quarrels and arguments, but rather should strive to reconcile disputes and arguments. Lastly, showing the depth of his cultivation, he should moderate his laughter, especially in the presence of women. These poems show the core of courtly learning: humility, generosity, gentleness, deference, and kindness. Virtually none of the lessons would have been out of place n the moral discipline of the schools, as passed from school master to student. The emphasis in these writings remains the aspect of manifesting virtue through behavior in order to make it visible (Jaeger, 1994).
As an example, read: DE ARTE HONESTE AMANDI [The Art of Courtly Love], Book Two: On the Rules of Love By: Andreas Capellanus: The Art of Courtly Love, (btw. 1174-1186) (exerted through the Medieval Sourcebook, url below):
1. Marriage is no real excuse for not loving.
2. He who is not jealous cannot love.
3. No one can be bound by a double love.
4. It is well known that love is always increasing or decreasing.
5. That which a lover takes against his will of his beloved has no relish.
6. Boys do not love until they arrive at the age of maturity.
7. When one lover dies, a widowhood of two years is required of the survivor.
8. No one should be deprived of love without the very best of reasons.
9. No one can love unless he is impelled by the persuasion of love.
10. Love is always a stranger in the home of avarice.
11. It is not proper to love any woman whom one should be ashamed to seek to marry.
12. A true lover does not desire to embrace in love anyone except his beloved.
13. When made public love rarely endures.
14. The easy attainment of love makes it of little value; difficulty of attainment makes it prized.
15. Every lover regularly turns pale in the presence of his beloved.
16. When a lover suddenly catches sight of his beloved his heart palpitates.
17. A new love puts to flight an old one.
18. Good character alone makes any man worthy of love.
19. If love diminishes, it quickly fails and rarely revives.
20. A man in love is always apprehensive.
21. Real jealousy always increases the feeling of love.
22. Jealousy, and therefore love, are increased when one suspects his beloved.
23. He whom the thought of love vexes, eats and sleeps very little.
24. Every act of a lover ends with in the thought of his beloved.
25. A true lover considers nothing good except what he thinks will please his beloved.
26. Love can deny nothing to love.
27. A lover can never have enough of the solaces of his beloved.
28. A slight presumption causes a lover to suspect his beloved.
29. A man who is vexed by too much passion usually does not love.
30. A true lover is constantly and without intermission possessed by the thought of his beloved.
31. Nothing forbids one woman being loved by two men or one man by two women.
◙Delahoyde, M. “Courtly Love” http://www.wsu.edu/~delahoyd/medieval/love.html, as retrieved July 7, 2007.
◙Halsall, P. (1997) “Medieval Sourcebook: Andreas Capellanus: The Art of Courtly Love, (btw. 1174 – 1186)”http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/capellanus.html, as retrieved July 7, 2007.
◙Jaeger, S. (1994). The Envy of angels: Cathedral schools and social ideals in Medieval Europe, 950 – 1200. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.
◙Schwartz, D. (2002) “Medieval Literature,” http://cla.calpoly.edu/~dschwart/engl203/margery203.htmlas retrieved July 7, 2007.
Editor’s note: Author email for article above could not be located. If the author has any concerns about this reprint please feel free to contact me.
The religion of love
Courtly love was not just a literary convention. It was (at least theoretically) a way of life, designed to create a courtier who was a model of wit, passion, and purity.
The long tradition of medieval courtly love was revitalized in the Renaissance by Baldassare Castiglione (1478-1529), who served at the court of the Duke of Urbino in Italy — a court famed for its support of art and learning. His influential handbook of ideal courtly behaviour, Il Cortegiano (The Courtier) was translated into English by Sir Thomas Hoby, one of several fine English translations which made classical and continental works accessible to readers of English.
The ladder of love
In The Courtier, there is an impassioned discussion of the nature of love, in which one of the characters, Peter Bembo, describes the way that earthly love can become elevated to heavenly love through a platonic process of stages, or steps on a ladder, beginning with the love of an unattainable, virtuous woman, and leading to love of God and all humanity.
In typical Renaissance fashion, Bembo associates these steps with the hierarchy of created nature:
And here after they had laughed a while, M. Peter proceeded. I say therefore that according as it is defined of the wise men of old time, Love is nothing else but a certain coveting to enjoy beauty. . . And because in our soul there be three manner ways to know [perceive], namely, by sense, reason, and understanding; of sense there ariseth appetite or longing, which is common to us with brute beasts; of reason ariseth election or choice, which is proper [appropriate] to man; of understanding, by the which man may be partner with Angels, ariseth will. . . .
Man, of nature endowed with reason, placed (as it were) in the middle between these two extremities, may through his choice–inclining to sense, or reaching to understanding–come nigh to the coveting sometime of the one, sometime of the other part. . .
As courtly love culture developed, a class of self-styled and avant-garde poets arose called the troubadours. Like the knights of the period they sought to devote themselves to the love and adoration of women, though unlike the knights many of the troubadours practiced a chaste kind of devotion to Ladies that did not involve sexual intercourse. The following excerpt is from the 1913 classic volume titled The Troubadours, by Rev. H.J. Chaytor, M.A.
THE THEORY OF COURTLY LOVE
Troubador poetry dealt with war, politics, personal satire and other subjects: but the theme which is predominant and in which real originality was shown, is love. The troubadours were the first lyric poets in mediaeval Europe to deal exhaustively with this subject, and as their attitude was imitated with certain modifications by French, Italian, Portuguese and German poets, the nature of its treatment is a matter of considerable importance.
Of the many ladies whose praises were sung or whose favours were desired by troubadours, the majority were married. Troubadours who made their songs to a maiden, as did Gui d’Ussel or Gausbert de Puegsibot, are quite exceptional. Love in troubadour poetry was essentially a conventional relationship, and marriage was not its object. This conventional character was derived from the fact that troubadour love was constituted upon the analogy of feudal relationship. If chivalry was the outcome of the Germanic theory of knighthood as modified by the influence of Christianity, it may be said that troubadour love is the outcome of the same theory under the influence of mariolatry. In the eleventh century the worship of the Virgin Mary became widely popular; the reverence bestowed upon the Virgin was extended to the female sex in general, and as a vassal owed obedience to his feudal overlord, so did he owe service and devotion to his lady. Moreover, under the feudal system, the lady might often be called upon to represent her husband’s suzerainty to his vassals, when she was left in charge of affairs during his absence in time of war. Unmarried women were inconspicuous figures in the society of the age.
“Thus there was a service of love as there was a service
of vassalage, and the lover stood to his lady in a position
analogous to that of the vassal to his overlord”
Thus there was a service of love as there was a service of vassalage, and the lover stood to his lady in a position analogous to that of the vassal to his overlord. He attained this position only by stages; “there are four stages in love: the first is that of aspirant (fegnedor), the second that of suppliant (precador), the third that of recognised suitor (entendedor) and the fourth that of accepted lover (drut).” The lover was formally installed as such by the lady, took an oath of fidelity to her and received a kiss to seal it, a ring or some other personal possession. For practical purposes the contract merely implied that the lady was prepared to receive the troubadour’s homage in poetry and to be the subject of his song. As secrecy was a duty incumbent upon the troubadour, he usually referred to the lady by a pseudonym (senhal); naturally, the lady’s reputation was increased if her attraction for a famous troubadour was known, and the senhal was no doubt an open secret at times. How far or how often the bounds of his formal and conventional relationship were transgressed is impossible to say; “en somme, assez immoral” is the judgment of Gaston Paris upon the society of the age, and is confirmed by expressions of desire occurring from time to time in various troubadours, which cannot be interpreted as the outcome of a merely conventional or “platonic” devotion. In the troubadour biographies the substratum of historical truth is so overlaid by fiction, that little reliable evidence upon the point can be drawn from this source.
However, transgression was probably exceptional. The idea of troubadour love was intellectual rather than emotional; love was an art, restricted, like poetry, by formal rules; the terms “love” and “poetry” were identified, and the fourteenth century treatise which summarises the principles of grammar and metre bore the title Leys d’Amors, the Laws of Love. The pathology of the emotion was studied; it was treated from a psychological standpoint and a technical vocabulary came into use, for which it is often impossible to find English equivalents. The first effect of love is to produce a mental exaltation, a desire to live a life worthy of the beloved lady and redounding to her praise, an inspiring stimulus known as joi or joi d’amor (amor in Provencal is usually feminine). Other virtues are produced by the influence of this affection: the lover must have valor, that is, he must be worthy of his lady; this worth implies the possession of cortesia, pleasure in the pleasure of another and the desire to please; this quality is acquired by the observance of mesura, wisdom and self-restraint in word and deed.
The poetry which expresses such a state of mind is usually idealised and pictures the relationship rather as it might have been than as it was. The troubadour who knew his business would begin with praises of his beloved; she is physically and morally perfect, her beauty illuminates the night, her presence heals the sick, cheers the sad, makes the boor courteous and so forth. For her the singer’s love and devotion is infinite: separation from her would be worse than death; her death would leave the world cheerless, and to her he owes any thoughts of good or beauty that he may have. It is only because he loves her that he can sing. Hence he would rather suffer any pain or punishment at her hands than receive the highest favours from another. The effects of this love are obvious in his person. His voice quavers with supreme delight or breaks in dark despair; he sighs and weeps and wakes at night to think of the one subject of contemplation. Waves of heat and cold pass over him, and even when he prays, her image is before his eyes. This passion has transformed his nature: he is a better and stronger man than ever before, ready to forgive his enemies and to undergo any physical privations; winter is to him as the cheerful spring, ice and snow as soft lawns and flowery meads. Yet, if unrequited, his passion may destroy him; he loses his self-control, does not hear when he is addressed, cannot eat or sleep, grows thin and feeble, and is sinking slowly to an early tomb. Even so, he does not regret his love, though it lead to suffering and death; his passion grows ever stronger, for it is ever supported by hope. But if his hopes are realised, he will owe everything to the gracious favour of his lady, for his own merits can avail nothing. Sometimes he is not prepared for such complete self-renunciation; he reproaches his lady for her coldness, complains that she has led him on by a show of kindness, has deceived him and will be the cause of his death; or his patience is at an end, he will live in spite of her and try his fortune elsewhere.
Source: Full-text of the book is available here; The Troubadours, by H.J. Chaytor
In what we call the Middle Ages there was invented, by the stress of circumstances, elaborated by half-conscious effort and bequeathed as an unalienable habit, a new manner of loving.
To describe mediaeval love is a difficult matter, and to describe it except in negations is next to impossibility. I conceive it to consist in a certain sentimental, romantic, idealistic attitude towards women, not by any means incompatible however with the grossest animalism; an attitude presupposing a complete moral, aesthetical, and social superiority on the part of the whole female sex, inspiring the very highest respect and admiration independently of the individual’s qualities; and reaching the point of actual worship, varying from the adoration of a queen by a courtier to the adoration of a shrine by a pilgrim, in the case of the one particular lady who happens to be the beloved; an attitude in the relations of the sexes which results in love becoming an indispensable part of a noble life, and the devoted attachment to one individual woman, a necessary requisite of a gentlemanly training.
Mediaeval love is not merely a passion, a desire, an affection, a habit; it is a perfect occupation. It absorbs, or is supposed to absorb, the Individual; it permeates his life like a religion. It is not one of the interests of life, or, rather, one of life’s phases; it is the whole of life, all other interests and actions either sinking into an unsingable region below it, or merely embroidering a variegated pattern upon its golden background. Mediaeval love, therefore, never obtains its object, however much it may obtain the woman; for the object of mediaeval love, as of mediaeval religious mysticism, is not one particular act or series of acts, but is its own exercise, of which the various incidents of the drama between man and woman are merely so many results. It has not its definite stages, like the love of the men of classical Antiquity or the heroic time of the North: its stages of seeking, obtaining, cherishing, guarding; it is always at the same point, always in the same condition of half-religious, half-courtier-like adoration, whether it be triumphantly successful or sighingly despairing.
The man and the woman or rather, I should say, the knight and the lady, for mediaeval love is an aristocratic privilege, and the love of lower folk is not a theme for song the knight and the lady, therefore, seem always, however knit together by habit, nay, by inextricable meshes of guilt, somehow at the same distance from one another. Once they have seen and loved each other, their passion burns on always evenly, burns on (at least theoretically) to all eternity. It seems almost as if the woman were a mere shrine, a mysterious receptacle of the ineffable, a grail cup, a consecrated wafer, but not the ineffable itself. For there is always in mediaeval love, however fleshly the incidents which it produces, a certain Platonic element; that is to say, a craving for, a pursuit of, something which is an abstraction; an abstraction impossible to define in its constant shifting and shimmering, and which seems at one moment a social standard, a religious ideal, or both, and which merges for ever in the dazzling, vague sheen of the Eternal Feminine.
Hence, one of the most distinctive features of mediaeval love, an extraordinary sameness of intonation, making it difficult to distinguish between the bona fide passion for which a man risks life and honour, and the mere conventional gallantry of the knight who sticks a lady’s glove on his helmet as a compliment to her rank; nay, between the impure adoration of an adulterous lamia like Yseult, and the mystical adoration of a glorified Mother of God; for both are women, both are ladies, and therefore the greatest poet of the early Middle Ages, Gottfried von Strassburg, sings them both with the same religious respect, and the same hysterical rapture. This mediaeval love is furthermore a deliberately expected, sought-for, and received necessity in a man’s life; it is not an accident, much less an incidental occurrence to be lightly taken or possibly avoided: it is absolutely indispensable to man’s social training, to his moral and aesthetical self-improvement; it is part and parcel of manhood and knighthood… Frowendienst, “lady’s service,” is the name given by Ulrich von Liechtenstein, a mediaeval Quixote, outshining by far the mad Provencals Rudel and Vidal, to the memoirs very delightfully done into modern German by Ludwig Tieck; and “lady’s service” is the highest occupation of knightly leisure, the subject of the immense bulk of mediaeval poetry.
“Lady’s service” in deeds of arms and song, in constant praise and defence of the beloved, in heroic enterprise and madcap mummery, in submission and terror to the wondrous creature whom the humble servant, the lover, never calls by her sacred name, speaking of her in words unknown to Antiquity, dompna, dame, frowe, madonna words of which the original sense has almost been forgotten, although there cleave to them even now ideas higher than those associated with the puella of the ancients, the wib of the heroic days lady, mistress the titles of the Mother of God, who is, after all, only the mystical Soul’s Paramour of the mediaeval world. “Lady’s service” the almost technical word, expressing the position, half-serf-like, half-religious, the bonds of complete humility and never-ending faithfulness, the hopes of reward, the patience under displeasure, the pride in the livery of servitude, the utter absorption of the life of one individual in the life of another; which constitute in Provence, in France, in Germany, in England, in Italy, in the fabulous kingdoms of Arthur and Charlemagne, the strange new thing which I have named Mediaeval Love.
Has such a thing really existed? Are not these mediaeval poets leagued together in a huge conspiracy to deceive us? Is it possible that strong men have wept and fainted at a mere woman’s name, like the Count of Nevers in “Flamenca,” or that their mind has swooned away in months of reverie like that of Parzifal in Eschenbach’s poem; that worldly wise and witty men have shipped off and died on sea for love of an unseen woman like Jaufre Rudel; or dressed in wolf’s hide and lurked and fled before the huntsmen-like Peire Vidal; or mangled their face and cut off their finger, and, clothing themselves in rags more frightful than Nessus’ robe, mixed in the untouchable band of lepers like Ulrich von Liechtenstein? Is it possible to believe that the insane enterprises of the Amadises, Lisvarts and Felixmartes of late mediaeval romance, that the behaviour of Don Quixote in the Sierra Morena, ever had any serious models in reality? Nay, more difficult still to believe because the whole madness of individuals is more credible than the half-madness of the whole world is it possible to believe that, as the poems of innumerable trouvères and troubadours, minnesingers and Italian poets, as the legion of mediaeval romances of the cycles of Charlemagne, Arthur, and Amadis would have it, that during so long a period of time society could have been enthralled by this hysterical, visionary, artificial, incredible religion of mediaeval love? It is at once too grotesque and too beautiful, too high and too low, to be credible; and our first impulse, on closing the catechisms and breviaries, the legendaries and hymn-books of this strange new creed, is to protest that the love poems must be allegories, the love romances solar myths, the Courts of Love historical bungles; that all this mediaeval world of love is a figment, a misinterpretation, a falsehood.
But if we seek more than a mere casual impression; if, instead of feeling sceptical over one or two fragments of evidence, we attempt to collect the largest possible number of facts together; if we read not one mediaeval love story, but twenty not half a dozen mediaeval love poems, but several scores; if we really investigate into the origin of the apparent myth, the case speedily alters. Little by little this which had been inconceivable becomes not merely intelligible, but inevitable; the myth becomes an historical phenomenon of the most obvious and necessary sort. Mediaeval love, which had seemed to us a poetic fiction, is turned into a reality; and a reality, alas, which is prosaic. Let us look at it.
Mediaeval love is first revealed in the sudden and almost simultaneous burst of song which, like the twitter and trill so dear to trouvères, troubadours, and minnesingers, fills the woods that yesterday were silent and dead, and greeted the earliest sunshine, the earliest faint green after the long winter numbness of the dark ages, after the boisterous gales of the earliest Crusade. The French and Provencals sang first, the Germans later, the Sicilians last; but although we may say after deliberate analysis, such or such a form, or such or such a story, was known in this country before it appeared in that one, such imitation or suggestion was so rapid that with regard to the French, the Provencals, and the Germans at least, the impression is simultaneous; only the Sicilians beginning distinctly later, forerunners of the new love lyric, wholly different from that of trouvères, troubadours, and minnesingers, of the Italians of the latter thirteenth century… Such is the moment when we first hear the almost universal song of mediaeval love.