Love without fear and contact
Love without fear and contact

No one sees a woman as a comrade in the fight anymore, and, in the opinion of many, she has even more rights at her disposal than men.

No matter how we feel about the women's holiday invented by Clara Zetkin (Clara Zetkin, 1857-1933), the great German revolutionary just tied a bow on a cake that cultural Europe had been baking for about a thousand years. Solidarity with women in their struggle for equal rights - to elect and be elected or to take part in cultural and professional life - has become a natural continuation of respect for them and recognition of their ability to adequately use these rights. And the first to respect a woman - and even worship her - were by no means the socialist revolutionaries, but the medieval knights. True, their worship had slightly different motives.

Years have passed, an incomprehensible XXI century has come, and women's holiday in our country is striving for its origins: no one sees a woman as a comrade in the struggle anymore, and, in the opinion of many, she has even more rights at her disposal than men. But she is entitled to flowers and sweets only for the very fact of being a woman, that is, by nature, the direct opposite of a soldier.

And it all began on the Mediterranean coast, in the rich cultural layers Provincia Nostra (the former Roman "our province"), trustingly nestled on the Italian lands on the blessed land of today's southeastern France. In Provence and in the neighborhood - in Aquitaine, Champagne and Burgundy. It was there, in the not so refined courts of princes and dukes, divided by the needs of wars and crusades into two yearning camps - knights rattling with weapons and women waiting for them at home - and the need arose for what would much later be called the unpleasant word "sublimation" - in the replacement of real love with fictional love.

Secret longings, ritually repeated repeated rejection, humiliated service to the chosen lady, anorexia amorosa, repressed sexuality - these are the conspicuous features of courtly love, sung in the lyrics of Provence, especially through the mouth of the 12th century troubadours Bernard de Ventadorn (Bernat / Bernard de Ventaentadorn /. 1125 - c. 1195) and Rigo de Barbezieux (Rigaut de Barbezieux). The principles that began to form naturally during the first crusade (1099) were brought to the absolute by the second quarter of the 12th century at the court of Mary of Champagne.

The path of the warrior of love

The laws of courtly (from the French word la court - "court") love were firmly attached to the knightly code of honor. If in the Japanese bushido (the way of the warrior), the most important thing was loyalty to the master, and women did not appear at all, then the European knight, in addition to God and the master, should never forget about his ladies - the Virgin Mary and the Lady of the Heart. The latter is very important: the ideal knight was obliged to possess a number of virtues - in addition to loyalty and honor, valor, piety, respect for parents, courtesy and … chastity were attached to him.

Yes, and a beautiful lady could not be attainable, on the contrary, she had to encourage purity in the knight: the female ideal sought to get as close as possible to the Virgin Mary. By the XIV-XV centuries, the knightly code gradually left the sphere of rational practice and acquired the features of what would now be called a lifestyle: campaigns were replaced by tournaments, when ladies decorated their clothes with flowers of dedicated knights, not in imprisonment of castles, but on the stands of the stadiums.

The fate of the first singer of unrequited love perfectly exemplifies courtly principles. Bernard of Ventadorn (Bernart de Ventadorn; c. 1150-1180), the son of a servant and a baker and a poet-nugget, close and trained by his patron, the Viscount Ebl III of Ventadorn, had the noble imprudence to fall in love with the master's wife, Margaret of Turenne. He dedicated the first poems to her, and then, in full accordance with the later legalized courtly requirements, left his home court and joined one of the greatest knightly queens - Eleanor of Aquitaine, reaching with her to the Plantagenet court in England. But even there the troubadour, who inevitably became a wandering, did not stay, he appeared at the court of the Count of Toulouse, then to the Dordogne, then to a monastery, and died there.

2009 Carolina Revival Festival in Huntersville, North Carolina
2009 Carolina Revival Festival in Huntersville, North Carolina

2009 Carolina Revival Festival in Huntersville, North Carolina. The minstrel plays the harp and sings about love for a beautiful lady. Almost everything we know about courtly love is from the troubadours, meistersangers and minstrels. And yet fin'amour is more than just an invention of poets. Photo (Creative Commons license): anoldent

“True love doesn’t come easy

With fear and doubt

How not to be afraid that nothing will come of it?

So I dare not say a word, "wrote Bernard.

Or here's another:

When I look like a lark of the field

Flies to the sun, beside himself with love, When I watch the lark of the field

Drunk with delight, forgets about the wings

And falls from the heights of heaven

I envy the fate of birds.

These artless verses already contain everything that will soon result in a rigidly structured code of courtly love.

The second troubadour, who was honored to be considered the ancestor of the courtly idea, did not lag behind - a contemporary of Bernard Rigaud de Barbezier. Unlike his fellow commoner, Rigo came from a poor knightly family in Cognac. They describe him as a shy person and not a particularly outstanding performer, strong only in writing poetry. Then the unrequited love for the wife of Baron Joffrey de Tonet arrived in time, and the courtly puzzle came together again. The woman, named by Rigo "The Best of Ladies" (Miellz-de-Domna), encouraged the poet's feelings, but only platonically, hungering for songs, not treason.

Probably, it was precisely from Christian righteousness that the demands made by the courts of viscounts and barons to courtly love followed: husband and wife were not constrained by these bonds, they were supposed to love each other quite physically and give birth to heirs, but the knights of a younger rank did what was appropriate to do to all young people - they fell in love, wrote poetry and sang songs (perhaps not with a guitar). Considering that betrayal and promiscuity were not encouraged by medieval morality, sublimation poured into these activities in full, the necessary relaxation was achieved by the medieval analogue of chopping wood - knightly deeds and oral songwriting; the lord's honor did not suffer. The lady's honor too.

Round table. Love triangle

Let us ask ourselves a question: did the troubadours, knights and their beautiful ladies themselves know that what they practice is courtly love? Of course not. Romantic feelings for a lady pranced in some armor with a knightly code of honor, and they began to isolate and analyze them not so long ago, just at the end of the inquisitive 19th century.

In 1883, Gaston Paris (Bruno Paulin Gaston Paris, 1839-1903) wrote an article "Exploring the Romances of the Round Table:" Lancelot of the Lake II, Knight of the Cart "". Analyzing the work of Chretien de Troyes (c. 1135 - c. 1185) in 1177, put in the title of the article, the author came to the conclusion that amour courtois was an idolization of an object and a kind of exercise in discipline and humility.

The analysis of the phenomenon and the term Paris selected for it quickly took root, and in 1936 Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963), an Oxford linguist and author of The Chronicle of Narnia, supported the calculations of his French predecessor with his work Allegory of Love, defining courtly love as "love of a highly special kind, among the characteristics of which there are humility, courtesy, adultery and the religion of love." But where did adultery come from?

For example, the most famous corpus of knightly legends, the first real European novels, will tell us about this. So, the most impeccable of the knights Lancelot of the Lake lived in the world and he had feelings for the queen of his overlord, King Arthur - Guinevere. Arthur, oddly enough, also loved his wife. As, however, and other women from whom he sometimes had children - for example, the infamous Mordred - the fruit of the illegal carnal love of the king and his half-sister Morgause.

The courteous love of Lancelot and Guinevere was so strong that it culminated in an intimacy, which, as usual, gradually became known to everyone except the king, whose most trusted knight was the knight of the lake. Love for Guinevere was indirectly the reason that Lancelot gave birth to an illegitimate son - Galahad, when, enchanted by Lady Elaine, the daughter of the Fisher King, he took her for his queen. The shock of the exposure was so great that Lancelot was temporarily insane. But this is not the biggest drama in our history.

2004 Medieval Festival in Portugal
2004 Medieval Festival in Portugal

2004 Medieval Festival in Portugal. According to legend, the death of the ideal kingdom of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round was the result of the love between his wife Guinevere and the knight Lancelot - first courtly, and then came to its logical ending. Photo (Creative Commons license): Randen Pederson

The Arthurian cycle cold-bloodedly demonstrates how courtesy, brought to the physical completion that is natural for love, destroys the world of the Round Table, ruins the country. Upon learning of the betrayal of his friend and wife, Arthur wants revenge. Lancelot flees, Arthur plans to burn the unfaithful wife at the stake. Lancelot returns, saves his beloved, while destroying former friends in exploits in battle, and those who remain in a rage provoke the king into a full-scale war with the impeccable Lancelot.

Arthur leaves his wife under the supervision of Mordred, but he plans to seize the throne of his fathers, and at the same time his wife. Guinevere flees and hides in the Tower of London. Upon learning of another betrayal, Arthur returns and enters the last battle for his honor and crown - on the Camlanns field, he kills Mordred, but is mortally wounded and goes to the island of Avalon - the last refuge of the king of knights. Guinevere and Lancelot meet once more, after which the queen retires to the monastery. So is Lancelot.

The legends about this trinity and their entourage have dozens of variations. Not only the variants of the names of the queen and knights, the family ties of the heroes, but also the twists of the plot change. In some versions of the legend, Guinevere yields to the insistence of Mordred and even gives birth to two sons. In others, she is depicted as an impeccable lady of impeccable knights, who did not bear the weight of the fatal feeling. The bottom line remains: the canon of courtly love is no less far from practice, even in literature, than the "Moral Code of the Young Builder of Communism" is from the mores of factory dormitories. What actually happened?

Courtly reality

And in reality, medievalists have not been able to find practically a single factual confirmation that the knights and ladies observed the covenants of the troubadours. We cannot put our finger on any historical source, which would say that the real knight X worshiped lady Y all his life, and she acted according to the written word, as if both were moving with small steps along the ladder of love, holding on to such handrails:

The emergence of a penchant for a lady, arising when looking at her;

Adoration of a lady from afar;

Declaration of passion and dedication;

Virtuous rejection of a lady;

New assurances of passion and vows of valor and eternal fidelity;

Moans about impending death from unsatisfied desire (and other physical manifestations of love fever);

Heroic deeds for the glory of the lady of the heart;

Suddenly: secret intercourse;

Endless adventures and tricks to avoid exposure.

What was behind all this? Much more than what is seen by the gaze of a contemporary, spoiled by a poorly digested Freud. The worship of a lady was even terminologically likened to the knight of devotion to the lord and - as in the case of Lancelot - to God himself. Hence the perseverance in the pursuit of possession, an endless polysyllabic quest, akin to the search for the Grail.

Miniature from the late medieval edition of the treatise "On Love" by Andrea Capellan
Miniature from the late medieval edition of the treatise "On Love" by Andrea Capellan

Miniature from the late medieval edition of the treatise "On Love" by Andrea Capellan.

In the Beatleman seventies, historians questioned the very existence of courtly love, calling it a myth that was not confirmed by medieval texts. However, as it turns out, even the term cortez amors appears once in the surviving 12th-century Provençal text of the troubadour Peyre of Auverne, and it is closely associated with the term fin'amor (that is, "beautiful love"), which often appears in Provencal and French. So is it really, as in the well-known anecdote: there is a word, but there is no love?

The mirror had to reflect something. But what? A number of historians believe that our subject was a humanistic reaction to the harsh early medieval customs, cruelly regulated by Catholicism. Then it turns out that courtly love is an ennobling, highly spiritual force that has balanced the iron-bound male chauvinism of previous centuries. Accordingly, the church's condemnation of courtly love in the 13th century as heretical looks like an attempt to suppress the "sexual revolution."

From another point of view, our subject looks, on the contrary, as an attempt by the church to civilize the crude Germanic feudal customs of the eleventh century. There is also a consideration: the conspiracy marriages that prevailed in that era required some kind of outlet for romantic feelings, and courtly love could arise completely independently of church politics, simply as a reaction to the overorganization of matrimonial practices.

Sadly, there is practically no evidence of courtesy outside the fantasies of trouvers, troubadours, minstrels, minnesingers and authors of the novels of the Arturian cycle - neither in laws, nor in palace documents, nor in chronicles.

There are, however, non-Romanic written sources - the so-called "Court Books", or "Books of Manners", which spread in the 13th century in Germany and Italy and reached their peak of popularity during the Renaissance, when Baldassare Castiglione (1478-1529) wrote his "The courtier" (Il Cortegiano). The English translation of Il Cortegiano (The Courtyer) by Thomas Hobie influenced the writings of Spencer, Ben Johnson and Shakespeare, and through the latter, probably on all of us. In 1622 the Englishman Henry Peacham (1546-1634) composed his own opus on the theme of courtesy - the treatise The Complete Gentleman.

The very existence of the "Court Books" is in some way a confirmation of the fact that not only sang about courtly love. And in one such book called "The Book of Three Virtues" (c. 1405), where courtly love is condemned, it is indicated that forbidden relations were settled and covered by special agreements. Well, and completely real, and not fictitious were the elections and crowning of Queens of love and beauty at tournaments, awarding loyal knights with insignia, colors of scarves that reflected devotion, love longing, etc.? And in 1454, Philip the Good, who was going on a crusade against the Turks, used the parables of courtly love to bring his vassals under his banners. In the 15th century, as in the 11th century, the knightly dictionaries of loyalty to the suzerain and the idea coincided with the code of courtly honor.

A 14th century drawing showing how a knight should deal with a Lady of the Heart
A 14th century drawing showing how a knight should deal with a Lady of the Heart

A 14th century drawing showing how a knight should deal with a Lady of the Heart.

I envy the fate of birds "

Here are the rules of courtly love, compiled in the XII century by Andreas Capellanus (second half of the XII century), the author of the most popular treatise "On Love" (De Amore), which absorbed the ancient lessons of Ovid and made the text drunk with Andalusian-Saracenic influence, which came from Avicenna (Ibn Sina, Abu Ali al-Husain ibn Abdullah ibn Sina, 980-1037):

Marriage is not a reason not to love.

He who is not jealous does not love.

You can't love two at the same time.

It is known that love either increases or decreases.

What is received by a lover against the will of the beloved has no value.

Boys don't like until they reach the right age.

When one of the lovers dies, the remaining one must widow him for two years.

You cannot be deprived of love without the most weighty of reasons.

You cannot love, if love itself does not compel you.

Love is always a stranger in the house of stinginess.

It is not worthy to love a woman you would not marry.

A true lover does not want to merge in an embrace with anyone other than the beloved.

Unhidden love rarely lasts long.

The easy achievement of love devalues it; hard-won love is highly prized.

The lover periodically turns pale in the presence of the beloved.

When a lover suddenly sees his beloved, his heart flutters.

New love drives away the previous one.

A noble disposition is enough for a man to be worthy of love.

If love diminishes, it will quickly disappear and is unlikely to be reborn.

The lover is always full of forebodings.

True jealousy always increases the feeling of love.

Jealousy and, therefore, love, increase when a person suspects a beloved.

Irritated by the thought of love, he eats and sleeps very little.

Whatever the lover does, he thinks of the beloved.

A true lover thinks of nothing else but pleasing his beloved.

Love cannot deny love anything.

The lover is always ready to hear the consolations of the beloved.

The slightest reason makes the lover suspicious of the beloved.

A person who is irritated by an excess of passion usually does not love.

A true lover is constantly and without interruption obsessed with thoughts of his beloved.

There is no prohibition against one woman being loved by two men or one man - two women.

It is clear that these rules inevitably led to all kinds of difficulties in court life. It seems that the story of King Arthur and his wife should have served as a warning to lovers. And, perhaps, the last and most important rule of courtly love was formulated by our compatriot Alexander Blok, who declared with the recklessness of all true troubadours that “only a lover has the right to the title of man”. Author: Dinara Dubrovskaya

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