In 1991 Naomi Wolf wrote The Beauty Myth where she claimed women are oppressed by cultural pressure to be beautiful. What she failed to tell us is where this habit originated, and how it is essentially used to gain power over the male sex.
In human beings, various compulsions and desires come into conflict with one another, each jostling for momentary supremacy where one imperative will usurp the claims of another. That game has reached a problematical impasse during the last 800 years because, during that relatively short time span, human culture has thrown its patronage into developing, intensifying and enforcing sexual gamesmanship to the degree that our sexual compulsions appear pumped up on steroids and taken to extremes never before seen in human society (myths about widespread Roman orgies notwithstanding). The obsession with female beauty forms a significant part of the problem.
If we lived back in Ancient Greece, Rome or anywhere else we would view sexual intercourse as little more than a bodily function akin to eating, defecating and sleeping – a basic bodily function without the hype. After the Middle Ages, however, it developed into a commodity to pimp and trade, and the new cult of sexualized romance that arose from it resulted in a frustration of our more basic attachment needs – a frustration aided and abetted by social institutions placing sexual manipulation at the center of human interactions. This development entrenched a new belief that beauty was the native possession of women, and only women, and conversely that the desire to possess beauty was the lot of males alone, thus creating a division between the sexes that remains in place today.
Compare this division with the beliefs of older cultures – India, Rome, Greece etc – and we see a stark contrast, with classical cultures equally apportioning beauty to males and sexual desire to females. In ancient Greece for example males used to grow their hair long and comb it adoringly, rub olive oil on their skin and pay devoted attention to attire -the colors of the toga, the materials it was woven from, the way it was draped on the body- and there is perhaps no modern culture on earth where male beauty is more marvelously celebrated in the arts than it was in Greece.
Another example comes from the Biblical Song of Solomon, in which the appreciation of beauty and associated longing flows both ways between the man and women, whereas in romantic love beauty is ascribed only to the female, and desire only to the male – the roles are radically split. Moreover, in the Song of Songs there is no hint of the gynocentric arrangement; no appearance of man as a vassal towards women who are both Lord and deity. For the lovers in Song of Songs there already exists a God and so there is no worshipping of the woman as a quasi divinity who can redeem the man’s pathetic existence – as in “romantic” love.
According to Robert Solomon, romantic love required a dramatic change in the self-conception of women. He recounts;
They too were freed from an identity that depended wholly on their social roles, that is, their blood and legal ties with men, as daughters, wives and mothers. It is in this period in Christian history that looks become of primary importance, that being beautiful now counts for possibly everything, not just an attractive feature in a daughter or wife (which probably counted very little anyway) but as itself a mark of character, style, personality. Good grooming, as opposed to propriety, came to define the individual woman, and her worth, no longer dependent on the social roles and positions of her father, husband or children, now turned on her looks. The premium was placed on youth and beauty, and though some women even then may have condemned this emphasis as unjust, it at least formed the first breach with a society that, hitherto, had left little room for personal initiative or individual advancement. The prototype of the Playboy playmate, we might say, was already established eight hundred years ago, and did not require, as some people have argued recently, Hugh Hefner’s slick centerfolds to make youth, beauty and a certain practiced vacuity into a highly esteemed personal virtue. The problem is why we still find it difficult to move beyond this without, like some Platonists, distaining beauty altogether – the opposite error. 
Modesta Pozzo penned a book in the 1500’s entitled The Worth of Women: their Nobility and Superiority to Men. The work purportedly records a conversation among seven Venetian noblewomen that explores nearly every aspect of women’s experience. One of the topics explored is women’s use of cosmetics and clothing to enhance beauty, including mention of hair tinting for which there is twenty-six different recipes. The following is the voice of Cornelia who explains that men’s sexual desire of women (and women’s control of that process via beauty) is the only reason men can love:
“Thinking about it straight, what more worthy and what lovelier subject can one find than the beauty, grace and virtues of women?… I’d say that a perfectly composed outer corporeal form is something most worthy of our esteem, for it is this visible outer form that is the first to present itself to our eye and our understanding: we see it and instantly love and desire it, prompted by an instinct embedded in us by nature. “It’s not because men love us that they go in for all these displays of love and undying devotion, rather, it’s because they desire us. So that in this case love is the offspring, desire the parent, or, in other words, love is the effect and desire the cause. And since taking away the cause means taking away the effect, that means that men love us for just as long as they desire us and once desire, which is the cause of their vain love, has died in them (either because they have got what they wanted or because they have realized that they are not going to be able to get it), the love that is the effect of that cause dies at exactly the same time.” [written 1592]
What I find interesting is that since the Middle Ages, as evidenced in Cornelia’s words, we have collectively conflated male love with sexual desire as if they are inseparable, and to women’s ability to control that male “love” through a skillful cultivation of beauty. One might be forgiven for refusing to believe this is love at all, that it is instead the creation of an intense desire for sexual pleasure due to the call of beauty. Observation shows that sex-generated “love” does not necessarily lead to compatibility for partners across a broad range of interests, and may occur between people who are, aside from sexual attraction, totally incompatible, with little in common, which is why the relationship often goes so badly when there occur gaps in the sexual game.
This raises the alternative notion of love based on compatibility, on what we might term ‘friendship-love’ which is not based solely on sexual desire – in fact sexual desire is not even essential to it though often present. Friendship love is about interests the partners share in common, a meeting of compatible souls and a getting to know each other on a level playing field. However aiming for friendship-love means women are no longer required to pull the strings of sexual desire as is practiced with beauty-based allure, which ultimately frees men and women to meet as equals in power and, with luck, find much in common to sustain a durable relationship.
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.
The main ingredient in the spirit of Chivalry, second in force only to the religious zeal of its professors, and frequently predominating over it, was a devotion to the female sex, and particularly to her whom each knight selected as the chief object of his affection, of a nature so extravagant and unbounded as to approach to a sort of idolatry. The original source of this sentiment is to be found, like that of Chivalry itself, in the Customs and habits of the northern tribes who possessed, even in their rudest state, so many honourable and manly distinctions, over all the other nations in the same stage of society. The chaste and temperate habits of these youth, and the opinion that it was dishonourable to hold sexual intercourse until the twentieth year was attained, was in the highest degree favourable not only to the morals and health of the ancient Germans, but must have contributed greatly to place their females in that dignified and respectable rank which they held in society.
Amid the various duties of knighthood, that of protecting the female sex, respecting their persons, and redressing their wrongs, becoming the champion of their cause, and the chastiser of those by whom they were injured, was represented as one of the principal objects of the institution. Their oath bound the new-made knights to defend the cause of all women without exception ; and the most pressing way of conjuring them to grant a boon was to implore it in the name of God and the ladies. The cause of a distressed lady was, in many instances, preferable to that even of the country to which the knight belonged. Thus, the Captal de Buche, though an English subject, did not hesitate to unite his troops with those of the Comte de Foix, to relieve the ladies in a French town, where they were besieged and threatened with violence by the insurgent peasantry. The looks, the words, the sign of a lady, were accounted to- make knights at time of need perform double their usual deeds of strength and valour. At tournaments and in combats, the voices of the ladies were heard like those of the German females in former battles, calling on the knights to remember their fame, and exert themselves to the uttermost. “Think, gentle knights,” was their cry, “upon the wool of your breasts, the nerve of your arms, the love you cherish in your hearts, and do valiantly for ladies behold you.” The corresponding shouts of the combatants were, “Love of ladies! Death of warriors! On, valiant knights, for you fight under fair eyes? Where the honour or love of a lady was at stake, the fairest prize was held out to the victorious knight, and champion from every quarter were sure to hasten to combat in a cause so popular. Chaucer, when he describes the assembly of the knights who came with Arcite and Palemon to fight for the love of the fair Emilie, describes the manners of his age in the following lines;
“For every knight that loved chivalry,
And would his thankes have a passant name,
Hath pray’d that he might ben of that game,
And well was him that thereto chusen was.
For if there fell to-morrow such a case,
Ye knowen well that every lusty knight
That loveth par amour, and hath his might,
Were it in Engellande, or elleswhere,
They wold hir thanked willen to be there.
To fight for a lady! Ah! Benedicite,
It were a lusty sight for to see.”
It is needless to multiply quotations on a subject so trite and well known. The defence of the female sex in general, the regard due to their honour, the subservience paid to their commands, the reverent awe and courtesy, which, in their presence, forbear all unseemly words and actions, were so blended with the institution of Chivalry as to form its very essence. But it was not enough that the “very perfect, gentle knight,” should reverence the fair sex in general. It was essential to his character that he should select, as his proper choice, “a lady and a love,” to be the polar star of his thoughts, the mistress of his affections, and the directress of his actions. In her service, he was to observe the duties of loyalty, faith, secrecy, and reverence. Without such an empress of his heart, a knight, in the phrase of the times, was a ship without a rudder, a horse without a bridle, a sword without a hilt ; a being, in short, devoid of that ruling guidance and intelligence, which ought to inspire his bravery, and direct his actions. The least dishonest thought or action was, according to her doctrine, sufficient to forfeit the chivalrous lover the favour of his lady. It seems, however, that the greater part of her charge concerning incontinence is levelled against such as haunted the receptacles of open vice ; and that she reserved an exception (of which, in the course of the history, she made liberal use) in favour of the intercourse which, in all love, honour, and secrecy, might take place, when the favoured and faithful knight had obtained, by long service, the boon of amorous mercy from the lady whom he loved par amours.
In these extracts are painted the actual manners of the age of Chivalry. The necessity of the perfect knight having a mistress, whom he loved par amours, the duty of dedicating his time to obey her commands, however capricious, and his strength to execute extravagant feats of valour, which might redound to her praise, –for all that was done for her sake, and under her auspices, was counted her merit, as the victories of their generals were ascribed to the Roman Emperors— was not a whit less necessary to complete the character of a good knight.
On such occasions, the favoured knight, as he wore the colours and badge of the lady of his affections, usually exerted his ingenuity in inventing some device or cognisance which might express their love, either openly, as boasting of it in the eye of the world, or in such mysterious mode of indication as should only be understood by the beloved person if circumstances did not permit an avowal of his passion. The ladies, bound as they were in honour to requite the passion of their knights, were wont, on such occasions, to dignify them by the present of a scarf, ribbon, or glove, which was to be worn in the press of battle and tournament. These marks of favour they displayed on their helmets, and they were accounted the best incentives to deeds of valour. The custom appears to have prevailed in France to a late period, though polluted with the grossness so often mixed with the affected refinement and gallantry of that nation. Sometimes the ladies, in conferring these tokens of their favour, saddled the knights with the most extravagant and severe conditions. But the lover had his advantage in such cases, that if he ventured to vencounter the hazard imposed, and chanced to survive it, he had, according to the fashion of the age, the right of exacting, from the lady, favours corresponding in importance. The annals of Chivalry abound with stories of cruel and cold fair ones, who subjected their lovers to extremes of danger, in hopes that they might get rid of their addresses, but were, upon their unexpected success, caught in their own snare, and, as ladies who would not have their name made the theme of reproach by every minstrel, were compelled to recompense the deeds which their champion had achieved in their name. There are instances in which the lover used his right of reprisals with some rigour, as in the well-known fabliau of the three knights and the shift; in which a lady proposes to her three lovers, successively, the task of entering, unarmed, into the mêlée of a tournament, arrayed only in one of her shift. The perilous proposal is declined by two of the knights and accepted by the third, who thrusts himself, in the unprotected state required, into all the hazards of the tournament, sustains many wounds, and carries off the prize of the day. On the next day the husband of the lady (for she was married) was to give a superb banquet to the knights and nobles who had attended the tourney. The wounded victor sends the shift back to its owner, with his request, that she would wear it over her rich dress on this solemn occasion, soiled and torn as it was, and stained all over with the blood of its late wearer. The lady did not hesitate to comply, declaring, that she regarded this shift, stained with the blood of her “fair friend, as more precious than if it were of the most costly materials.” Jaques de Basin, the minstrel who relates this curious tale, is at a loss to say whether the palm of true love should be given to the knight or to the lady on this remarkable occasion. The husband, he assures us, had the good sense to seem to perceive nothing uncommon in the singular vestment with which his lady was attired, and the rest of the good company highly admired her courageous requital of the knight’s gallantry.
It was the especial pride of each distinguished champion, to maintain, against all others, the superior worth, beauty, and accomplishments of his lady; to bear her picture from court to court, and support, with lance and sword, her superiority to all other dames, abroad or at home. To break a spear for the love of their ladies, was a challenge courteously given, and gently accepted, among all true followers of Chivalry, and history and romance are alike filled with the tilts and tournaments which took place upon this argument, which was ever ready and ever acceptable. Indeed, whatever the subject of the tournament had been, the lists were never closed until a solemn course had been made in honour of the ladies. There were knights yet more adventurous, who sought to distinguish themselves by singular and uncommon feats of arms in honour of their mistresses; and such was usually the cause of the whimsical and extravagant vows of arms which we have subsequently to notice. To combat against extravagant odds, to fight amid the press of armed knights without some essential part of their armour, to do some deed of audacious valour in face of friend and foe, were the services by which the knights strove to recommend themselves, or which their mistresses (very justly so called) imposed on them as proofs of their affection.
Sometimes the patience of the lover was worn out by the cold-hearted vanity which thrust him on such perilous enterprises. At the court of one of the German emperors, while some ladies and gallants of the court were looking into a den where two lions were confined, one of them purposely let her glove fall within the palisade which enclosed the animals, and commanded her lover, as a true knight, to fetch it out to her. He did not hesitate to obey, jumped over the enclosure ; threw his mantle towards the animals as they sprung at him; snatched up the glove, and regained the outside of the palisade. But when in safety, he proclaimed aloud, that what he had achieved was done for the sake of his own reputation, and not for that of a false lady, who could, for her sport and cold-blooded vanity, force a brave man on a duel so desperate. And, with the applause of all that were present, renounced her love for ever. This, however, was an uncommon circumstance. In general, the lady was supposed to have her lover’s character as much at heart as her own, and to mean by pushing him upon enterprises of hazard give him an opportunity of meriting her good graces, which she could not with honour confer upon one undistinguished by deeds of chivalry.
“At the ideal coronation of king Arthur, just mentioned, a tournament is described as exhibited in its highest splendor.
‘Many knights, says our Armoric fabler, famous for feats of chivalry, were present, with apparel and arms of the same colour and fashion. They formed a species of diversion, in imitation of a fight on horseback, and the ladies being placed on the walls of the castles, darted amorous glances on the combatants. None of these ladies esteemed any knight worthy of her love unless he had given proof of his gallantry in three fevered encounters. Thus the valour of the men encouraged chastity in the women, and the attention of the women proved an incentive to the soldier’s bravery’
Here is the practice of chivalry under the combined ideas of love and military prowess, as they seem to have subsisted after the feudal constitution had acquired greater degrees not only of stability but of splendor and refinement.
“And hence, even in time of peace, they had no conception of any diversions or public ceremonies, except of the military kind. Yet, as the courts of these petty princes were thronged with ladies of the most eminent distinction and quality, the ruling passion for war was tempered with courtesy.
The prize of contending champions was adjudged by the ladies; who did not think it inconsistent to be present or to preside at the bloody spectacles of the times ; and who, themselves, seem to have contracted an unnatural and unbecoming ferocity, while they softened the manners of those valorous knights who fought for their approbation.
The high notions of a noble descent, which arose from the condition of the feudal constitution, and the ambition of forming an alliance with powerful and opulent families, cherished this romantic system. It was hard to obtain the fair feudatary, who was the object of universal adoration. Not only the splendor of birth, but the magnificent castle surrounded with embattled walls, guarded with massive towers, and crowned with lofty pinnacles, served to inflame the imagination, and to create an attachment to some illustrious heiress, whose point of honour it was to be chaste and inaccessible.
And the difficulty of success on these occasions, seems in great measure to have given rife to that sentimental love of romance, which acquiesced in a distant respectful admiration, and did not aspire to possession… Chivalry by degrees was consecrated by religion, whose authority tinctured every passion, and was engrafted into every institution, of the superstitious ages ; and at length composed that familiar picture of manners, in which the love of a god and of the ladies were reconciled, the saint and the hero were blended, and charity and revenge, zeal and gallantry, devotion and valour, were united.
“But the principal subject of the poems, dictated in great measure by the spirit of chivalry, was love: especially among the troubadours of rank and distinction, whose castles being crowded with ladies, presented perpetual scenes of the most splendid gallantry. This passion they spiritualifed into various metaphysical refinements, and filled it with abstracted notions of visionary perfection and felicity.
Middle Ages Europe is widely considered the birthplace of ‘protofeminism’ – the forerunner to modern feminism. At that time a chaplain named Andreas Capellanus, whom we might consider the first antifeminist and ‘MGTOW’ of the period, wrote a book describing the escalating problem of female avarice, manipulativeness, narcissism, underserved sense of entitlement, and hypergamy. Interestingly, Andreas links all these problems with the birth of courtly love – the subject of his book – and recommends all men learn to reject romantic relationships with women and “trample under your foot all of its rules.”
While the piece is written in anger at the emerging gynocentric culture, it contains truths that echo much of what MGTOW are reacting to today – in particular the world’s encouragement, protection and enforcement of female hypergamy. The following is an excerpt from Capellanus’ amazing work. PW
The Art of Courtly Love By Andreas Capellanus (1174)
The mutual love which you seek in women you cannot find, for no woman ever loved a man or could bind herself to a lover in the mutual bonds of love. For a woman’s desire is to get rich through love, but not to give her lover the solaces that please him. Nobody ought to wonder at this, because it is natural. According to the nature of their sex all women are spotted with the vice of a grasping and avaricious disposition, and they are always alert and devoted to the search for money or profit. I have travelled through a great many parts of the world, and although I made careful inquiries I could never find a man who would say that he had discovered a woman who, if a thing was not offered to her, would not demand it insistently and would not hold off from falling in love unless she got rich gifts in one way or another. But even though you have given a woman innumerable presents, if she discovers that you are less attentive about giving her things than you used to be, or if she learns that you have lost your money, she will treat like a perfect stranger who has come from some other country, and everything you do will bore her or annoy her. You cannot find a woman who will love you so much or be so constant to you that if somebody else comes to her and offers her presents she will be faithful to her love.
Women have so much avarice that generous gifts break down all the barriers of their virtue. If you come with open hands, no women will let you go away without that which you seek; while if you don’t promise to give them a great deal, you needn’t come to them and ask for anything. Even if you are distinguished by royal honors, but bring no gifts with you, you will get absolutely nothing from them; you will be turned away from their doors in shame. Because of their avarice all women are thieves, and we say they carry purses. You cannot find a woman of such lofty station or blessed with such honor or wealth that an offer of money will not break down her virtue, and there is no man, no matter how disgraced and low-born he is, who cannot seduce her if he has great wealth. This is so because no woman ever has enough money – just as no drunkard ever thinks he has had enough to drink. Even if the whole earth and sea were turned to gold, they could hardly satisfy that avarice of a woman.
Furthermore, not only is every woman by nature a miser, but she is also envious and a slanderer of other women, greedy, a slave to her belly, inconstant, fickle in her speech, disobedient and impatient of restraint, spotted with the sin of pride and desirous of vainglory, a liar, a drunkard, a babbler, no keeper of secrets, too much given to wantonness, prone to every evil, and never loving any man in her heart.
Now woman is a miser, because there isn’t a wickedness in the world that men can think of that she will not boldly indulge in for the sake of money, and, even if she has an abundance she will not help anyone who is in need. You can more easily scratch a diamond with your fingernail than you can by any human ingenuity get a woman to consent to giving you any of her savings. Just as Epicurus believed that the highest good lay in serving the belly, so a woman thinks that the only things worth while in this world are riches and holding on to what she has. You can’t find any woman so simple and foolish that she is unable to look out for her own property with a greedy tenacity, and with great mental subtlety get hold of the possessions of someone else. Indeed, even a simple woman is more careful about selling a single hen than the wisest lawyer is in deeding away a great castle. Furthermore, no woman is ever so violently in love with a man that she will not devote all her efforts to using up his property. You will find that this rule never fails and admits of no exceptions.
That every woman is envious is also found to be a general rule, because a woman is always consumed with jealousy over another woman’s beauty, and she loses all her pleasure in what she has. Even if she knows that it is the beauty of her own daughter that is being praised, she can hardly avoid being tortured by hidden envy. Even the neediness and the great poverty of the neighbour women seem to her abundant in wealth and riches, so that we think of the old proverb which says, “the crop in the neighbour’s field is always more fertile, and your neighbour’s cow has a larger udder,” seems to refer to the female sex without question. It can hardly come to pass that one woman will praise the good character or the beauty of another, and if she should happen to do so, the next minute she adds some qualification that undoes all she has said in her praise.
And so it follows that woman is a slanderer, because slander can only spring from envy and hate. That is a rule that women do not want to break; she prefers to keep it unbroken. It is not easy to find a woman whose tongue can ever spare anybody or who can keep from words of detraction. Every woman thinks that by running down others she adds to her own praise and increases her own reputation – a fact which shows very clearly to everybody that women have very little sense. For all men agree to hold it as a general rule that words of dispraise only hurt the person who utters them, and they detract from the esteem in which he is held; but no woman on this account keeps from speaking evil and attacking the reputation of good people, and so I think we can insist that no woman is really wise. Qualities that a wise man has are wholly foreign to a woman, because she believes, without thinking, everything she hears, and she is very free about insisting on being praised, and she does a great many other unwise things which it would be tedious for me to enumerate.
The feminine sex is also commonly tainted by arrogance, for a woman, when incited by that, cannot keep her keep her tongue or her hands from crimes or abuse, but in her anger she commits all sorts of outrages. Moreover, if anybody tries to restrain an angry woman, he will tire himself out with a vain labor, for you cannot keep her from her evil designs or soften her arrogance of soul. Any woman is incited to wrath by a mild enough remark of little significance and indeed at times by nothing at all; and her arrogance grows to tremendous proportions; and as far as I can recall no one ever saw a woman who could restrain it.
Furthermore every woman seems to despise all other women – a thing which we know comes from pride. No person could despise another unless he looked down upon him because of pride. Besides, every woman, not only a young one but even the old and decrepit, strives with all her might to exalt her own beauty; this can come only from pride, as the wise man said very clearly when he said, “There is arrogance in everybody and pride follows beauty.” Therefore it is perfectly clear that women can never have perfectly good characters, because, as they say, “A remarkable character is soiled by an admixture of pride.”
Every woman is also loud-mouthed, since no one of them can keep her tongue from abuses, and even if she loses a single egg she will keep up a clamor all day like a barking dog, and she will disturb the whole neighbourhood over a trifle. When she is with other women, no one of them will give the others a chance to speak, but each always tries to be the one to say whatever is to be said and to keep on talking longer than the rest; and neither her tongue nor her spirit ever gets tired of talking. A woman will boldly contradict everything you say, and she can never agree with anything, but she always tries to give her opinion on every subject.
No woman is attached to her lover or bound to her husband with such pure devotion that she will not accept another lover, especially if a rich one comes along, which shows the wantonness as well as the great avarice of a woman. There isn’t a woman in this world so constant and so bound by pledges that, if a lover of pleasures comes along and with skill and persistence invites her to the joys of love, she will reject his entreaties – at any rate if he does a good deal of urging. No woman is an exception to this rule either. So you can see what we ought to think of a woman who is in fortunate circumstances and is blessed with an honourable lover or the finest of husbands, and yet lusts after some other man. But that is precisely what women do who are too much troubled with wantonness.
Indeed, a woman does not love a man with her whole heart, because there is not one of them who keeps faith with her husband or her lover; when another man comes along, you will find that her faithfulness wavers. For a woman cannot refuse gold or silver or any other gifts that are offered her, nor can she on that account deny the solaces of her body when they are asked for. But since the woman knows that nothing so distresses her lover as to have her grant these to some other man, you can see how much affection she has for a man when, out of greed for gold or silver, she will give herself to a stranger or a foreigner and has no shame about upsetting her lover so completely and shattering the jewel of her own good faith. Moreover, no woman has such strong bond of affection for a lover that if he ceases to woo her with presents she will not become luke-warm about her customary solaces and quickly become like a stranger to him.
Avoid love and trample under foot all of its rules:
It doesn’t seem proper, therefore, for any prudent man to fall in love with any woman, because she never keeps faith with any man. Everybody knows that she ought to be spurned for the innumerable weighty reasons already given. Therefore it is not advisable, my respected friend, for you to waste your days on love, which for all the reasons already given we agree ought to be condemned. For if it deprives you of the grace of the Heavenly King, and costs you every real friend, and it takes away all the honors of this world as well as every breath of praiseworthy reputation, and greedily swallows up all your wealth, and is followed by every sort of evil. As has already been said, why should you, like a fool, seek for love, or what good can you get from it that will repay you for all these disadvantages? That which above all you seek in love – the joy of having your love returned – you can never obtain, as we have already shown, no matter how hard you try, because no woman ever returns a man’s love. Therefore if you will examine carefully all the things that go to make up love, you will see clearly that there are conclusive reasons why a man is bound to avoid it with all his might and to trample under foot all its rules.
If you will study carefully this little treatise of ours and understand it completely and practice what it teaches, you will see clearly that no man ought to mis-spend his days in the pleasures of love. If you abstain from it, the Heavenly King will be more favorably disposed toward you in every respect, and you will be worthy to have all prosperous success in this world and to fulfill all praiseworthy deeds and the honorable desires of your heart, and in the world to come to have glory and life everlasting.
The Art of Courtly Love, by Andreas Capellanus, written in 1174, Translated by John Parry in 1941; Excerpt is from pp. 200-211
? The image above shows a golden casket from the Middle Ages depicting scenes of servile male behaviour typical of the emerging culture of courtly love. Such objects were given to women as gifts by men seeking to impress. (Note the woman standing with hands on hips in a position of authority, and the man in blue being led around by a yoke or leash in a position of subservience).
These are but a few of the many paths that might’ve brought you to this red door, and many wounds and diseases can be treated with the red pill, but your recovery will take conscious effort and patience on all of our parts – I know, because mine sure did, and I still struggle with it every day.
An AVfM Commenter suggested recently that a 12 Step program for recovering feminists might be necessary. I’ve been kicking around a similar idea for a while now, but my version is for any blue or purple pill person interested in taking the red pill.
What are the red, blue, and purple pills? They are metaphors for your worldview. I’ll be using a lot of MHRM buzzwords in this article, and part of your recovery will center around your taking responsibility for researching them for yourself.
Now, 12 Step Programs have been around for a while (I even helped found one back in the mid 1980’s) and have mixed records of success, but since they are well-known they can serve as a helpful framework to map out what you can expect once you start breaking the chains of gynocentrism. So, stealing shamelessly from those who have blazed the trail, I give you an overview of:
The 12 Steps of Liberation from Gynocentrism
Step 1: Honesty
After many years of denial, recovery can begin with one simple realization – that whether from feminism or traditionalism, Gynocentrism means more than equal rights: it is about securing unearned and undeserved comforts, security, money and power for women and women alone, at the expense and often destruction of men, their lives, and their families.
Step 3: Self-liberation A lifetime of deference to the whims of whining women will come to a screeching halt, and change forever, by making a simple decision to turn it all over to a higher power – one’s own good judgment that men’s needs matter, too. The only true liberation is self-liberation – a slave forced into freedom by others will remain enslaved until he embraces his freedom as his own.
Step 4: Soul-searching
Change is a process, not just an event. Recognizing how our previous attachment to gynocentrism damaged ourselves, the men around us, and yes, the women, too, requires a lot of thought into often unpleasant memories and past experiences. This soul-searching, though painful, will build our strengths and understandings for when we face future conflicts with those still committed to pedestalizing women.
Step 6: Acceptance of our Defects
Everyone has personal character faults but such faults are no reason for us to accept unjust treatment. A man with flaws can still be a good father, a hard worker, and a worthy person. No one has the right to shame us for our sexual desires, the choices or flaws in our physical appearance, our accomplishments, our failures, or our infirmities.
Step 8: Willingness to make amends
Making a list of those we harmed before coming into recovery from gynocentrism can be daunting – long-term feminists in particular may find they have numerous abortions, falsely accused boyfriends, amputated foreskins and penises, stolen job opportunities, and massive shoe collections hanging over their newly heightened consciences. Becoming willing to actually start the struggle to make amends to those we have wronged can be the most difficult part of recovery and many falter on this step.
Step 9: Forgiveness
Being willing to forgive others as well as asking for forgiveness for ourselves may seem like a bitter red pill to swallow, but for those serious about recovery it can be great medicine for the spirit and soul. Even the failure of gynocentrists to embrace forgiveness will help us in that it will throw their sociopathy into sharper relief.
Step 10: Maintenance
Nobody likes to dwell on past wrongs but continuing study into men’s human rights issues is necessary to maintain progress and vigilance in recovery from gynocentrism, lest we fall back into old habits and long-held, toxic beliefs about men.
Step 11: Making Contact
There is value and strength in contacting others in recovery to share our stories and plan our futures, whether as a group or on our own. In recovering from gynocentrism, the insights of one man or woman can and do enrich all our lives. Additionally, building a community of men who recognize the value in each other is a rare and powerful weapon against gynocentrism. Men don’t bond (in general) as quickly or seamlessly as women do, and whenever men build a space for themselves, women try to bully their way in.
Step 12: Service to Humankind
It is not uncommon for those in gynocentrism recovery programs to experience anger over the pain of our long enslavement to the Golden Uterus. Male anger is a good thing – it is how we heal; it is how we grieve; it is the motivation the drives us to help others. Reaching out to others caught in the violent abattoirs of gynocentric privilege can provide the rare gift of saving and enriching men’s lives rather than gratuitously destroying them. Even a lone MGTOW like me can add to the fight by cutting back and resisting the forces that feed gynocentrism’s ever growing need for power, money, and resources.
This is not the end but the beginning. I’ve got a lot more to say, but this article in overdue and overlong already. My warmest regards to you all.
Author’s note: although based loosely on (and sometimes in contradiction to) The Twelve Steps of AA, this article is intended as neither a criticism nor endorsement of AA or any other Multi-Step-based program.
 Yes, we are aware that the website for the Traditional Woman’s Rights Activists, or, more aptly named, We-Only-Submit-To-The-Men-Who-Obey-Us knitting circle and coffee clutch assembly no longer exists. Thank God and/or the Spaghetti Monster.
Courtly love as a literary phenomenon reflects one of the most far-reaching revolutions in social sensibility in Western culture — the dramatic change in attitude towards women that began in the late eleventh century, spread throughout western and northern Europe during the twelfth century, and lingered through the Renaissance and on into the modern world where elements can still be found. In its essential nature, courtly love, or fin’ amors, as the Provencal poets called it, was the expression of the knightly worship of a refining ideal embodied in the person of the beloved. Only a truly noble nature could generate and nurture such a love; only a woman of magnanimity of spirit was a worthy object. The act of loving was in itself ennobling and refining, the means to the fullest expression of what was potentially fine and elevated in human nature.
More often than not, such a love expressed itself in terms that were feudal and religious. Thus, just as a vassal was expected to honor and serve his lord, so a lover was expected to serve his lady, to obey her commands, and to gratify her merest whims. Absolute obedience and unswerving loyalty were critical. To incur the displeasure of one’s lady was to be cast into the void, beyond all light, warmth, and possibility of life. And just as the feudal lord stood above and beyond his vassal, so the lady occupied a more celestial sphere than that of her lover. Customarily she seemed remote and haughty, imperious and difficult to please. She expected to be served and wooed, minutely and at great length. If gratified by the ardors of her lover-servant, she might at length grant him her special notice; in exceptional circumstances, she might even grant him that last, longed-for favor. Physical consummation of love, however, was not obligatory. What was important was the prolonged and exalting experience of being in love.
It was usually one of the assumptions of courtly love that the lady in question was married, thus establishing the triangular pattern of lover-lady-jealous husband. This meant that the affair was at least potentially adulterous, and had to be conducted in an atmosphere of secrecy and danger. The absolute discretion of the lover was therefore indispensable if the honor of the lady were to be preserved. Though the convention did not stipulate adultery as a sine qua non, it is nevertheless true that the two great patterns of courtly love in the Middle Ages–Tristan and Isolt and Lancelot and Guenevere–both involved women who deceived their husbands.
Implications of Courtly Love
It is possible to discern two long range effects of courtly love on western civilization. For one thing, it provided Europe with a refined and elevated language with which to describe the phenomenology of love. For another, it was a significant factor in the augmented social role of women. Life sometimes has a way of imitating art, and there is little doubt that the aristocratic men and women of the Middle Ages began to act out in their own loves the pattern of courtly behavior they read about in the fictional romances and love lyrics of the period. The social effect was to accord women preeminence in the great, central, human activity of courtship and marriage. Thus women became more than just beloved objects–haughty, demanding, mysterious; they became, in a very real sense, what they have remained ever since, the chief arbiters of the game of love and the impresarios of refined passion.
Toward the end of the Middle Ages, in the work of Dante and other poets of the fourteenth century, the distinction between amor and caritas became blurred. Chaucer’s Prioress ironically wears a brooch on which is inscribed, “Amor Vincit Omnia” (“Love Conquers All”). The secular imagery of courtly love was used in religious poems in praise of the Virgin Mary. The lover with “a gentle heart,” as in a poem by Guido Guinizelli, could be led through a vision of feminine beauty to a vision of heavenly grace. One of Dante’s greatest achievements was to turn his beloved, seen primarily in physical, worldly, courtly love terms in his early work, La Vita Nuova, into the abstract, spiritualized, religious figure of Beatrice in The Divine Comedy.
“I’m not cut from the same mold. I don’t read from the same old story” – Pennywise
My readers must understand that the concerns which Gynocentrism Theory addresses are not limited to feminism. Feminism is still fairly new on the scene, while Gynocentrism has been around for as long as recorded history. The Men’s Rights Movement seeks to address problems associated with feminism, but does not limit its attention to these problems. Many of these problems existed prior to the emergence of feminism proper in the late 19th century, although they have been expanded and exacerbated since. Feminism is only the modern packaging of Gynocentrism, an ancient product, made possible in its present form by the extensive public welfare arrangements of the post-war period.
In spite of its radical rhetoric, the content of feminism, or one could say, its essence, is remarkably traditional; so traditional, in fact, that its core ideas are simply taken for granted, as unquestioned and unquestionable dogma, enjoying uniform assent across the political spectrum. Feminism is distinguishable only because it takes a certain traditional idea – the deference of men to women – to an unsustainable extreme. Political extremism, a product of modernity, shall fittingly put an end to the traditional idea itself; that is, in the aftermath of its astounding, all-singing, all-dancing final act.
Allow me to clarify. The traditional idea under discussion is male sacrifice for the benefit of women, which we term Gynocentrism. This is the historical norm, and it was the way of the world long before anything called ‘feminism’ made itself known. There is an enormous amount of continuity between the chivalric class code which arose in the Middle Ages and modern feminism, for instance. That the two are distinguishable is clear enough, but the latter is simply a progressive extension of the former over several centuries, having retained its essence over a long period of transition. One could say that they are the same entity, which now exists in a more mature form – certainly, we are not dealing with two separate creatures… It is an idea that has outlived nearly every other, and endures to this day in our American Empire. That men should sacrifice themselves utterly – their very essence, their being and their identity, to save women that they do not even know – is neatly encapsulated in that popular phrase, ‘women and children first.’ (And if you’re paying special attention, you will notice that it is never uttered as ‘children and women first.’ The very thought is absurd! This is because what is really meant by the phrase is ‘women first, children second.’)
The endurance of these social and class codes owes nothing to totalitarian control. Even when staging bloody revolts against tyrannous monarchs and landed elites, men aspiring to power left the Gynocentric code well alone. The self-sacrifice of men is a sexual constant which has survived all regime change. Gynocentrism, it seems, was not entirely without benefit to men; in peacetime, a man could be fairly assured of a stable familial structure and of his own paternity for the children he helped to raise. Regardless, what was offered to men was essentially compensatory. For most of history, men apparently considered this compensation to be reasonable enough – or perhaps, Gynocentrism was so deeply ingrained that they simply did not consider it at all. Through their actions, they affirmed (and renewed) Gynocentrism, and whether it went by the name honor, nobility, chivalry, or feminism, its essence has gone unchanged. It remains a peculiarly male duty to help the women onto the lifeboats, while the men themselves face a certain and icy death.
It is only now, with the political and social developments of the 20th century that have driven a wedge between the sexes, that the kind of thoughts found on this weblog can emerge. Late modernity provides us with new conceptual resources – new ways of thinking, which can be traced back to the Enlightenment of the 17th-18th centuries. Out of this intellectual melting-pot eventually crawled feminism, a vindictive blend of classic Gynocentrism, victim fetishization, radical utopianism and liberal presuppositions.
It would be an oversimplification to say that feminists set out to make gains. On the contrary, they made demands for both gains and losses. They wanted to gain men’s rights, but lose their traditional female responsibilities. This, it seemed, would put women in a social position equal to that of men. It was an argument rooted in the liberal tendencies of individualism, civic equality and self-definition. In rhetoric if not in reality, feminism asserted its points of concurrence with the most admirable aspects of traditional liberalism: equality before the law, the abnegation of arbitrary rule, and so on. Extending rights to all women appeared, logically enough, to be the successive phase of human liberation following the extension of rights to all men.
It was assumed – more fool us – that once granted equal rights, women would voluntarily adopt the accompanying responsibilities that men had always fulfilled. This did not come to be. Feminists were happy to gain men’s rights, and lose women’s responsibilities, but they were horrified by the suggestion that they should adopt men’s responsibilities as a corollary. Rather than men and women sharing the burdens of the world, we got the White Feather Campaign:
This campaign began in the early days of the First World War in Great Britain, where women were encouraged to pin white feathers on young men who were not in military uniform. The hope was that this mark of cowardice would shame them into ‘doing their bit’ in the war. The practice soon spread to Canada, where patriotic women, in response to declining voluntary recruitment figures, organized committees to issue white feathers to men in civilian clothes and publicly denounced the ‘slackers’ and ‘shirkers’.
It is surely worth remarking that many of these women were suffragettes; and thus, even as they campaigned for equal rights with men, they used shame as a tool for ensuring that men, and only men, fulfilled traditionally male obligations. Particularly, duty to give up their own lives, because they were men, for the sake of women. Whatever disadvantages women may have faced at the time, there is surely no greater coercion than death.
Much has changed since the First World War, and the feminist project to slack and shirk on women’s responsibilities while extending their license to act however they damn well please has met with wild success. And it is precisely this state of affairs which begs certain questions, made possible by the conceptual resources we have inherited from the Enlightenment: what if a man doesn’t want to live this way? Why should men continue to fulfill or perform their traditional obligations, when women will not live up to theirs, but neither will they adopt the responsibilities corresponding to their rights at present? The questions arise: were men wrong, all this time, to sacrifice for the sake of women? Should we, in fact, have no obligations to women whatsoever?
The reason why the Men’s Rights Movement arouses such hostility, from both the left and right, is because it is the first attempt in history for a sex to attempt to break out of its traditional role. Feminism is not this; it is the entrenchment of the power that women already held. The Men’s Rights Movement today goes far beyond simple accusations of feminist wrongdoing. Its adherents labor at historical analysis and social criticism, and with the benefit of two-and-a-half centuries of imagination and innovation stemming from the Enlightenment, can easily conceive of a world in which men, for the first time in history, are not required to self-sacrifice for women.
This is surely the future, and it is an inevitable reaction against – thus, an unintended consequence of – feminism itself. In times past, when men could claim compensation for their self-sacrifice, they accepted that this was simply the way of the world. In the absence of compensation, and with the screws being turned ever tighter on men in every sphere of life, they are provoked into questioning the new arbitrary rule, and into formulating their very own liberation project in response.
My statement above – that political extremism, the product of modernity, shall put an end to the traditional idea – should now be clear. Feminism, which is the extreme form of Gynocentrism, shall put an end to Gynocentrism altogether through the reaction which it creates. We are fifty years into the tremendous final act; a grand, orchestral performance, a theatrical display making unprecedented use of sound and light to confuse and cast illusion. But if all the world truly is a stage, then all men and women are actors – with roles of our own choosing, now free to toss aside the scripts we have been handed and create a new story in place of the old.
And when the curtain finally falls, I do believe that there shall be no encores.
The following article is an extract from Ernst Belfort Bax’ famous book ‘The Fraud of Feminism’ published in 1913. It is a fascinating article that describes the reduction of ancient chivalry to a mere function of gynocentric culture. Perhaps most remarkable about it is that as you read, you will not find yourself so much transformed back to a different age with different modes of thought. But rather you will read observations and conclusions that will, word by word and line by line, be largely indistinguishable from what what you would see today from any critical thinker when offering a candid review of the essence of feminism. You will see repeated references to the same shaming tactics and methods of manipulating the masses we find ourselves discussing today.
The “Chivalry” Fake
Ernest B. Bax – 1913
It is plain then that chivalry as understood in the present day really spells sex privilege and sex favouritism pure and simple, and that any attempts to define the term on a larger basis, or to give it a colourable rationality founded on fact, are simply subterfuges, conscious or unconscious, on the part of those who put them forward. The etymology of the word chivalry is well known and obvious enough.
The term meant originally the virtues associated with knighthood considered as a whole, bravery even to the extent of reckless daring, loyalty to the chief or feudal superior, generosity to a fallen foe, general open-handedness, and open-heartedness, including, of course, the succour of the weak and the oppressed generally, inter alia, the female sex when in difficulties.
It would be idle, of course, to insist upon the historical definition of the term.
Language develops and words in course of time depart widely from their original connotation, so that etymology alone is seldom of much value in practically determining the definition of words in their application at the present day. But the fact is none the less worthy of note that only a fragment of the original connotation of the word chivalry is covered by the term as used in our time, and that even that fragment is torn from its original connection and is made to serve as a scarecrow in the field of public opinion to intimidate all who refuse to act upon, or who protest against, the privileges and immunities of the female sex. 
I have said that even that subsidiary element in the old original notion of chivalry which is now well-nigh the only surviving remnant of its original connotation is torn from its connection and hence has necessarily become radically changed in its meaning. From being part of a general code of manners enjoined upon a particular guild or profession it has been degraded to mean the exclusive right in one sex guaranteed by law and custom to certain advantages and exemptions without any corresponding responsibility.
Let us make no mistake about this. When the limelight of a little plain but critical common-sense is turned upon this notion of chivalry hitherto regarded as so sacrosanct, it is seen to be but a poor thing after all; and when men have acquired the habit of habitually turning the light of such criticism upon it, the accusation, so terrible in the present state of public opinion, of being “unchivalrous” will lose its terrors for them.
In the so-called ages of chivalry themselves it never meant, as it does to-day, the woman right or wrong. It never meant as it does to-day the general legal and social privilege of sex. It never meant a social defence or a legal exoneration for the bad and even the criminal woman, simply because she is a woman. It meant none of these things. All it meant was a voluntary or gratuitous personal service to the forlorn women which the members of the Knights’ guild among other such services, many of them taking precedence of this one, were supposed to perform.
So far as courage is concerned, which was perhaps the first of the chivalric virtues in the old days, it certainly requires more courage in our days to deal severely with a woman when she deserves it (as a man would be dealt with in like circumstances) than it does to back up a woman against her wicked male opponent.
It is a cheap thing, for example, in the case of a man and woman quarrelling in the street, to play out the stage rôle of the bold and gallant Englishman “who won’t see a woman maltreated and put upon, not he!” and this, of course, without any inquiry into the merits of the quarrel. To swim with the stream, to make a pretence of boldness and bravery, when all the time you know you have the backing of conventional public opinion and mob-force behind you, is the cheapest of mock heroics.
Chivalry today means the woman, right or wrong, just as patriotism today means “my country right or wrong.” In other words, chivalry today is only another name for Sentimental Feminism. Every outrageous pretension of Sentimental Feminism can be justified by the appeal to chivalry, which amounts (to use the German expression) to an appeal from Pontius to Pilate. This Sentimental Feminism commonly called chivalry is sometimes impudently dubbed by its votaries, “manliness.”
It will presumably continue in its practical effects until a sufficient minority of sensible men will have the moral courage to beard a Feminist in public opinion and shed a little of this sort of “manliness.” The plucky Welshmen at Llandystwmdwy in their dealings with the suffragette rowdies on memorable occasion showed themselves capable of doing this. In fact one good effect generally of militant suffragetteism seems to be the weakening of the notion of chivalry – i.e. in its modern sense of Sentimental Feminism – amongst the populace of this country.
The combination of Sentimental Feminism with its invocation of the old-world sentiment of chivalry which was based essentially on the assumption of the mental, moral and physical inferiority of woman to man, for its justification, with the pretensions of modern Political Feminism, is simply grotesque in its inconsistent absurdity. In this way Modern Feminism would fain achieve the feat of eating its cake and having it too. When political and economic rights are in question, bien entendu, such as involve gain and social standing, the assumption of inferiority magically disappears before the strident assertion of the dogma of the equality of woman with man – her mental and moral equality certainly!
When, however, the question is of a different character – for example, for the relieving of some vile female criminal of the penalty of her misdeeds – then Sentimental Feminism comes into play, then the whole plaidoyer is based on the chivalric sentiment of deference and consideration for poor, weak woman. I may point out that here, if it be in the least degree logical, the plea for mercy or immunity can hardly be based on any other consideration than that of an intrinsic moral weakness in view of which the offence is to be condoned.
The plea of physical weakness, if such be entertained, is here in most cases purely irrelevant. Thus, as regards the commutation of the death sentence, the question of the muscular strength or weakness of the condemned person does not come in at all. The same applies, mutatis mutandis, to many other forms of criminal punishment. But it must not be forgotten that there are two aspects of physical strength or weakness. There is, as we have already pointed out, the muscular aspect and the constitutional aspect.
If we concede the female sex as essentially and inherently weaker in muscular power and development than the male, this by no means involves the assumption that woman is constitutionally weaker than man. On the contrary, it is a known fact attested, as far as I am aware, by all physiologists, no less than by common observation, that the constitutional toughness and power of endurance of woman in general far exceeds that of man, as explained in an earlier chapter.
Be this as it may, however, the existence of this greater constitutional strength or resistant power in the female than in the male organic system – as crucially instanced by the markedly greater death-rate of boys than of girls in infancy and early childhood – should, in respect of severity of punishment, prison treatment, etc., be a strong counter-argument against the plea for leniency, or immunity in the case of female criminals, made by the advocates of Sentimental Feminism.
But these considerations afford only one more illustration of the utter irrationality of the whole movement of Sentimental Feminism identified with the notion of “chivalry.” For the rest, we may find illustrations of this galore. A very flagrant case is that infamous “rule of the sea” which came so much into prominence at the time of the Titanic disaster. According to this preposterous “chivalric” Feminism, in the case of a ship foundering, it is the unwritten law of the seas, not that the passengers shall leave the ship and be rescued in their order as they come, but that the whole female portion shall have the right of being rescued before any man is allowed to leave the ship. Now this abominable piece of sex favouritism, on the face of it, cries aloud in its irrational injustice.
Here is no question of bodily strength or weakness, either muscular or constitutional. In this respect, for the nonce, all are on a level. But it is a case of life itself. A number of poor wretches are doomed to a watery grave, simply and solely because they have not had the luck to be born of the privileged female sex.
Such is “chivalry” as understood to-day – the deprivation, the robbery from men of the most elementary personal rights in order to endow women with privileges at the expense of men. During the ages of chivalry and for long after it was not so. Law and custom then was the same for men as for women in its incidence. To quote the familiar proverb in a slightly altered form, then – “what was sauce for the gander was sauce for the goose.” Not until the nineteenth century did this state of things change. Then for the first time the law began to respect persons and to distinguish in favour of sex.
Even taking the matter on the conventional ground of weakness and granting, for the sake of argument, the relative muscular weakness of the female as ground for her being allowed the immunity claimed by Modern Feminists of the sentimental school, the distinction is altogether lost sight of between weakness as such and aggressive weakness. Now I submit there is a very considerable difference between what is due to weakness that is harmless and unprovocative, and weakness that is aggressive, still more when this aggressive weakness presumes on itself as weakness, and on the consideration extended to it, in order to become tyrannical and oppressive.
Weakness as such assuredly deserves all consideration, but aggressive weakness deserves none save to be crushed beneath the iron heel of strength. Woman at the present day has been encouraged by a Feminist public opinion to become meanly aggressive under the protection of her weakness. She has been encouraged to forge her gift of weakness into a weapon of tyranny against man, unwitting that in so doing she has deprived her weakness of all just claim to consideration or even to toleration.
1. One among many apposite cases, which has occurred recently, was protested against in a letter to The Daily Telegraph, 21st March 1913, in which it was pointed out that while a suffragette got a few months’ imprisonment in the second division for wilfully setting fire to the pavilion in Kew Gardens, a few days previously, at the Lewes Assizes, a man had been sentenced to five years’ penal servitude for burning a rick!!
ANDREAS CAPELLANUS furnishes in his Tractatus2 the principal source of our notions, which are scanty enough, of the institution known as the ‘courts of love’ in the twelfth century. In his work we come as near as possible to the original character of the courts before their ideas and practices became a stereotyped element in the chivalric convention, a part of a shaping influence in the social customs and the literary traditions of the Renaissance. The Tractatus (published 1190 AD) is based closely in theme and substance on Ovid’s Ars Amatoria (published 1 BC). In both works the conception of love is that of illicit passion; but there is a significant difference. Whereas in Ovid man is the master employing his arts to seduce women for his pleasure, in Andreas woman is the mistress, man her pupil in homage, her vassal in service.
What operated to change men’s attitude toward women from one of gross cynicism in Ovid to one of homage and deference in Andreas? What was the significance of the cult of women propounded in the Tractatus to the society in which it flourished? Furthermore there are internal evidences that Andreas, in spite of being ‘sapientissimus’ (wisest) was unable, in his redaction of Ovid, to make the free doctrines of the classical poet lie down comfortably in his clerical mind.
The Tractatus, in dealing with the theme of love, is so full of this conflict between pagan naturalism and Christian restraint, that one is tempted to imagine that Andreas did his redacting under some compelling influence. What was that influence? To recapture at this date the quality the court of love had for those who elaborated it, is doubtless impossible. There are, however, such puzzling incongruities between the bald erotic precepts of Ovid and the mystical transformation of these precepts in Andreas that curiosity reverts again and again to attempts to divine what, in the twelfth century, gave impetus to those alterations of doctrine before they passed into the social and literary conventions of the chivalric order.
Andreas reports, where lovers actually brought dilemmas before highborn ladies for judgment, but have been disposed to see in accounts of them mere literary redactions of the sophistical discussions of coteries of precieux, or attempts to reduce such discussions to juridical form. Some reflections of contemporary life – dramatized elements of feudal relationships, the hairspun scholasticism of the day, the formalism of ritual – are indeed discovered in the chivalric code as set forth by Andreas and as elaborated in the chivalric romances following the middle of the century. But the actual enactment of the little drama of the court of love in the feudal castle has seemed too fantastic to be taken literally. Without for the moment questioning these interpretations, it is suggestive to approach the inquiry as to what was the early character and significance of the courts and their code by studying in other connections the personages alleged to have presided in them, the circumstances affecting these personages in the third quarter of the twelfth century, and the atmosphere in which they lived. The contemporary materials for such study are fragmentary, but such bits as can be pieced together lead to speculation as to whether there are not other important elements than those suggested above in the grand assizes of the ladies known as the courts of love.
What we think of the actual courts of love depends ultimately upon what we make of the background of the work of Andreas Capellanus, recently assigned to the period between 1174 and 1182, and in modern studies attributed to Andreas, a chaplain of Louis vii associated at some time with the court of Louis’s daughter, Marie, Countess of Champagne. The Tractatus, which purports to be a guide to one Walter, a young man seeking to equip himself for admission to elect society, discourses with the precision of dialectic on the science of love in all its branches, defines the principles of love, its effect upon lovers, its disciplines, its code, its etiquette. It records twenty-one cases in which lovers (as litigants might appear at a feudal assize) present their dilemmas for judgment by a court of ladies. In these courts preside as judges Eleanor of Aquitaine, her daughter Marie of Champagne, her niece Isabelle of Flanders, and Ermengarde, Countess of Narbonne.
The only specific clue in the Tractatus to the date of the assemblies is the dating of a letter by Marie de Champagne to two petitioners, as of May, 1174. This date, as an approximation for establishing the period in which the courts flourished, is supported by historical circumstances which will presently be related. Presumably, though Andreas does not so state, the place of assembly is Poitiers, where from about 1170-74 Eleanor of Aquitaine was maintaining her independent court in the interests of her son, the youthful Coeur de Lion, who was in 1169 recognized by the treaty of Montmirail as hereditary Count of Poitou and Duke of Aquitaine. That Marie and Eleanor presided together in the same court is intimated by the fact that they are associated as judges in the Tractatus, at least once in one and the same case. Nothing that we know of Marie’s life precludes the assumption that she was in Poitiers in the period in question. Though in the work of Andreas, Marie de Champagne appears more conspicuously than Eleanor as presiding genius of the courts of love, the queen herself is certainly the more dominant figure in Poitiers, the sustainer and patron of the society which gave substance to the chivalric ideal.
And as Andreas mentions the queen’s juries as including as many as sixty ladies upon occasion, it may be presumed that the revival of the ducal court brought to Poitiers the negotiable heirs and heiresses of the great counts’ fiefs of the south. The heirs of Poitou and Aquitaine who came to the queen’s high place for their vassals’ homage, their squires’ training, and their courtiers’ service were truculent youths, boisterous young men from the baronial strongholds of the South, without the Norman or Frankish sense of nationality, bred on feuds and violence, men with rich fiefs and proud lineage, but with little solidarity and no business but guerilla warfare and daredevil escapade. These wild young men were a deep anxiety not only to the heads of their houses, but to the kings of France and England and to the Pope in Rome. They were the stuff of which rebellion and schism are made. For two generations the church had done what it could with the problem of their unemployment, marching hordes out of Europe on crusade and rounding other hordes into the cloister.
The biographer of Guillaume le Marechal gives an idea of how this rabble of courtly routiers amused itself on the jousting fields of western Europe. To the tournaments, occurring in a brisk season about twice a month from Pentecost to the feast of St John, flocked the young bloods, sometimes three thousand strong, taking possession of the nearest town. Thither also flocked horse dealers from Lombardy and Spain, from Brittany and the Low Countries, as well as armorers, haberdashers for man and beast, usurers, mimes and story-tellers, acrobats, necromancers, and other gentlemen of the lists, the field, the road. Entertainers of every stripe found liberal patronage; troubadours singing of love and war and the ‘bel saison’ in the south country, story tellers out of Brittany, goliards from the Paris streets. The gossip of palace and fief and school, of shrine and cloister, of synod and assize, flew in the street. There were feasts in upper chambers, and forges rang in the smithies all night long. Brawls with grisly incidents – a cracked skull, a gouged eye – occurred as the betting progressed and the dice flew. To cry up their champions in the field came ladies of fair name and others of no name at all. There was dancing below the pavilions on the greensward, with heralds and knights clapping the measures and calling out the changes.
We do not suspect either Queen Eleanor or the Countess Marie of having invented the courts of love. But it seems possible that Marie, who knew not only her Ovid, but the poetical traditions of her Provengal forebears as well, appropriated its little drama, so apt for her purpose of dramatizing the disciplines of the renascent court of Poitiers. She made this familiar framework the vehicle for her woman’s doctrine of civility, and in converting it, she transformed the gross and cynical pagan doctrines of Ovid to something more ideal, the woman’s canon, the chivalric code of manners. For manners, she plainly saw, are after all the fine residuum of philosophies, the very flower of ethics.
So Marie began her academic program in the queen’s palace not with philosophies, but with a theory of conduct developing the ultimate refinements of the mind and heart. The lesson, if formal, was not dry. With Ovid for a model, she drew up, and her chaplain Andreas recorded for her, then or subsequently, the constitution of a society to be impelled not by force nor by casual impulse, but by an inner disciplined sense of propriety. What progress could be made in dialectic by untutored squires who rode hacks into mess halls, and by hoydens who diverted eyes from psalters in the very midst of mass? And upon what could one ground a code of chivalry save on the classic and universal theme of love?
‘How passing wonderful is love,’ exclaims Andreas, ‘which makes men to be effulgent in virtue, and teaches everyone to abound in good manners.’ And finally, to support the rather threadbare dicta of Ovid, who was after all in that court the passion of the elder generation, Marie’s code professed to derive from the authentic practice of chivalry in the court of King Arthur in Caerleon on Usk, than which nothing could afford a more unexceptionable pattern for chivalry. It elucidated for aspiring knights the true inwardness of Gawain, the sustaining principles of Arthur himself.
There is something ghoulish in exposing Andreas’s book, which is also Marie’s, to the callous scrutiny of an age hostile to sentiment. A faint odor of cloistral mould and feudal decay clings to it. But the soil in which it grew was valiant. The ideal of l’amour courtois which grew up in Poitiers had, as Mr Loomis has suggested, more than a little to do with freeing woman from the millstone which the church in the first millenium hung about her neck as the author of man’s fall and the facile instrument of the devil in the world. The court of Poitiers gave its high sanction to ideals which spread so rapidly throughout Europe that ‘the doctrine of the inferiority of woman has never had the same standing since.’
The code of Andreas gives glimpses of a woman’s notions of a society different in essential respects from the prevailing feudal scheme, which was certainly man-made. In the Poitevin code, man is the property, the very thing of woman; whereas a precisely contrary state of things existed in the adjacent realms of the two kings from whom the reigning duchess of Aquitaine was estranged. Incidentally, there is something to explain the puzzling conflict in the Tractatus between the secular and the ecclesiastical views of love in the fact that the clerk whom Marie employed to organize her code was earning his living by flattering feminine majesty.
There is reason to think that Andreas, sensing the perversive nature of the document upon which he was engaged, made good Latin of it only under a certain pressure from his sovereign ladies; and the Countess’s other servant, Chretien de Troyes, quite openly revolted from the too liberal implications of her scheme. As critics we may make what we please of this upside-down philosophy of women. There it is in the first two books of Andreas. There have always been two schools of thought about it.
With this anatomy of the whole corpus of love in hand, Marie organized the rabble of soldiers, fighting-cocks, jousters, springers, riding masters, troubadours, Poitevin nobles and debutantes, young chatelaines, adolescent princes, and infant princesses in the great hall of Poitiers. Of this pandemonium the countess fashioned a seemly and elegant society, the fame of which spread to the world. Here was a woman’s assize to draw men from the excitements of the tilt and the hunt, from dice and games, to feminine society, an assize to outlaw boorishness and compel the tribute of adulation to female majesty. The book, together with the poetry of the troubadours, enables us to catch a glimpse of those famous assemblies in the queen’s new hall to which lovers brought their complaints for the judgment of the ladies.
The female portion of the academy, disciplined by the fashionable example of the countess and the queen to a noble grace of bearing, a flattering condescension, mount the dais, an areopagus something sixty strong. They gather round the queen, and among them shine, besides Marie, Isabelle Countess of Flanders, who is the queen’s niece; Ermengarde Countess of Narbonne, doubtless familiar with some such proceedings in the South; probably also Henry’s sister, the lovely Emma of Anjou, perhaps also, if she was actually another sister of the king, Marie de France – all except Ermengarde, who was more nearly the queen’s contemporary, women from twenty-five to thirty, the notable high priestesses of art and beauty in the day.
The chronicle of Geoffrey of Vigeois leads us to conclude that the standards of the court impressed themselves upon Poitou and the Limousin. ‘Time was,’ he says, ‘when even the Bishop of Limoges and the Viscount of Comborn were content to go in sheep and fox skins. But today [the queen’s day] the humblest would blush to be seen in such poor things. Now they have clothes fashioned of rich and precious stuffs, in colors to suit their humor. They snip out the cloth in rings and longish slashes to show the lining through, so that they look like the devils that we see in paintings. They slash their mantles, and their sleeves flow like those of hermits. Youths affect long hair and shoes with pointed toes.’ As for women, he adds, ‘You might think them adders, if you judged by the tails they drag after them.’ The price of fur and cloth had doubled within the period of the chronicler’s observation.
While the ladies, well-accoutred, sit above, the sterner portion of society, purged (according to the code) of the odors of the kennels and the road, and free for a time from spurs and falcons, range themselves about the stone benches that line the walls, stirring the fragrant rushes with neatly pointed shoe. There are doubtless preludes of music luring the last reluctant knight from the gaming table, tensons or pastourelles, the plucking of rotes, the ‘voicing of a fair song and sweet,’ perhaps even some of the more complicated musical harmonies so ill-received by the clerical critics of London; a Breton lai adding an episode to Arthurian romance, or a chapter in the tale of sad-man Tristan, bringing a gush of tears from the tender audience clustered about the queen and the countess of Champagne.
After the romance of the evening in the queen’s court, the jury comes to attention upon petition of a young knight in the hall. He bespeaks the judgment of the queen and her ladies upon a point of conduct, through an advocate of course, so that he may remain anonymous. A certain knight, so the advocate deposes, has sworn to his lady, as the hard condition of obtaining her love, that he will upon no provocation boast of her merits in company. But one day he overhears detractors heaping his mistress with calumnies. Forgetting his vow in the heat of his passion, he warms to eloquence in defence of his lady. This coming to her ear, she repudiates her champion. Does the lover, who admits he has broken his pledge to his mistress, deserve in this instance to be driven from her presence?
The Countess of Champagne, subduing suggestions from the floor and the buzz of conference upon the dais, renders the judgment of the areopagus. The lady in the case, anonymous of course, is at fault, declares the Countess Marie. She has laid upon her lover a vow too impossibly difficult. The lover has been remiss, no doubt, in neglecting his vow to his mistress, no matter what cruel hardship it involves; but he deserves leniency for the merit of his ardor and his constancy. The jury recommends that the stern lady reinstate the plaintiff. The court takes down the judgment. It constitutes a precedent. Does anyone guess the identity of the young pair whose estrangement is thus delicately knit up by the countess? As a bit of suspense it is delicious. As a theme for talk, how loosening to the tongue!
A disappointed petitioner brings forward a case, through an advocate of course, involving the question as to whether love survives marriage. The countess applying her mind to the code, which says that marriage is no proper obstacle to lovers (‘Causa coniugii ab amore non est excusatio recta’) and after gravely deliberating with her ladies, creates a sensation in her court by expressing doubt whether love in the ideal sense can exist between spouses. This is so arresting a proposition that the observations of the countess are referred to the queen for corroboration, and all bend upon the opinion of this deeply experienced judge.
The queen with dignity affirms that she cannot gainsay the Countess of Champagne, though she finds it admirable that a wife should find love and marriage consonant. Eleanor, queen of France and then of England, had learned at fifty-two that, as another mediaeval lady put it, ‘mortal love is but the licking of honey from thorns.’ Of course they rationalize a conduct that has outburst the rigid feudal scheme for women; but disillusion speaks also in these noble ladies, who, though they divine some unattainable ideal value in life, know that actually they remain feudal property, but part and parcel of their fiefs. It is plain that each and every one of the judgments in the queen’s court is an arrant feudal heresy. Taken together they undermine all the primary sanctions, and are subversive of the social order.
1. Amy Kelly, ‘Eleanor of Aquitaine and Her Courts of Love’ Source: Speculum, Vol. 12, No. 1 (Jan., 1937), pp. 3-19 Published by: Medieval Academy of America