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tribunals at that period, were denominated arrêts d'amour (decrees of love) and they are represented as being submitted to without a murmur, even by the warlike knights, who were wont to settle all their other quarrels sword in hand. But a few examples of the cases submitted to the cours d'amour, together with the judgments pronounced, extracted from the work of Maître André, will, better than any words of ours, shew the character of these tribunals.
Question. Is it between lovers, or between husband and wife, that the greatest affection, the liveliest attachment, exists ?
' Judgment. The attachment existing between husband and wife, and the tender affection existing between lovers, are sentiments of a very different nature: a just comparison cannot be established between matters which bear no mutual resemblance or relation to each other.
• Question. A knight was in love with a lady who was already engaged, but she promised him her favour in case she should ever happen to lose the love of him who was then her lover. A short time subsequent to this the lady and her adorer were married. The knight then laid claim to the love of the young bride, who resisted the claim, maintaining that she had not lost the love of him who had become her husband.'
In the judgment passed on this question, and which is said to have been pronounced by Eleanor of Aquitaine, subsequently the wife of Henry II. of England, reference is made to a previous judgment, which is here considered as a precedent having force of law. It says: 'We venture not to contradict the decree of the Countess of Champagne, who, by a solemn judgment, has pronounced that true love cannot exist between a married couple. We therefore approve that the lady in question bestow the love which she has promised.'
. Question. A lady had imposed upon her lover the strict condition that he was never to praise her in public. One day he found himself in a society of ladies and knights, who spoke slightingly of the beauty to whom he had devoted himself. At first he refrained from answering; but at length he could no longer resist the desire to revenge the honour and to defend the reputation of the object of his love. The latter pretends that he has justly lost her good graces, because he has violated the condition imposed upon him.
* Judgment. The commands of the lady were too severe; the condition imposed was illicit : no one can justly reproach a lover for yielding to the necessity of repelling the accusations levelled against his lady.
Question. The lover of a lady had been absent for a very long time on an expedition beyond the seas. She did not flatter herself that he would soon return, and indeed his return was generally despaired of. She therefore sought to gain a new lover. A secretary of the absent knight opposed this step, and accused the lady of being unfaithful. The defence of the lady was pleaded as follows:—“As, according to the laws of love, a woman who has lost her lover by death may after two years enter into new engagements, it is still more reasonable that she should be at liberty after many years of separation to replace an absent lover, who, neither by letter nor message, has consoled nor rejoiced his lady, particularly when opportunities were so frequent and so easy."'
This affair, we are told, gave rise to long debates, and was ultimately
submitted to the cours d'amour, held by the Countess of Champagne, who passed the following judgment :
'A lady has not the right to renounce her lover under pretence of his protracted absence, unless she be in possession of certain proofs that he has violated his faith and forgotten his duties; but the absence of a lover from necessity, or from an honourable motive, is not a legitimate reason. Nothing ought to be more gratifying to the feelings of a lady than to learn from afar that her lover is acquiring glory, and is considered in the assemblies of great men. The circumstance of his having sent neither message nor letter may be accounted for by extreme prudence : he may not have liked to confide his secret to a stranger, or he may have feared that, if he sent letters without initiating the bearer into his secret, the mysteries of love might be revealed, either through want of faith in the bearer, or by the occurrence of his death on the voyage.'
Question. A knight sought in love a lady, who, however, persisted in rejecting him. He sent some polite presents, which the lady accepted readily, and with much good grace, but nevertheless in noway changed her conduct towards the knight, who complained of having been deceived, as the lady had raised false hopes by accepting of his presents.
Judgment. A woman must either refuse the presents which are offered her in token of love, or she must reward the giver; if not, she must patiently submit to being placed on a level with venal courtesans.
'Question. A lover having already entered into one honourable engagement, sought the love of a lady, as if he had not previously pledged his faith to another. He was accepted; but, tired of the happiness he enjoyed, he returned to his first love, and picked a quarrel with the second. How is he to be punished ?
'Judgment. This bad man must be deprived of the favour of both ladies ; no honourable woman can hereafter accord to him her love.
Question. A troubadour having loved a young lady still in her childhood, as soon as she attained a more advanced age declared his love, and received from her the promise of a kiss when he should come to see her. Nevertheless she subsequently refused to fulfil her promise, on pretence that when she made it she was not of an age to understand its consequence.
Judgment. The troubadour shall be at liberty to take the kiss, but upon condition that he immediately restore it.'
In spite of the learned evidence of Maître André, and the earnest endeavours of M. Reynouard, and many other writers of distinguished talent and profound erudition, it is, however, still more than doubtful whether serious tribunals, invested with the functions and authority, and proceeding according to the forms attributed to the cours d'amour, ever did exist. * Yet the numerous tensons turning upon questions of love, incontestably prove that such debates were one of the favourite pastimes of the period, and render it probable, that ladies may sometimes, in social meetings, have
Professor Dietz of Bonn, whose authority in matters relative to the history and literature of the middle ages is not second even to that of Reynouard, has written a small work upon the subject of the cours d'amour, in refutation of the theory of Reynouard and others, who maintain their existence.
playfully formed themselves into a kind of court, and have sat in judgment on fictitious cases of the kind alluded to.
Another institution of the times, the existence of which has never been doubted, were the Puys d'Amour, or literary societies, which held their festive assemblies on certain days in the year, to give judgment on the various compositions of an erotic nature, sent in or presented by the author in person, and to award prizes to such as should be deemed worthy of the honour. These assemblies—which originated in the north of France, where the supposed cours d'amour have never, even in theory, been located-generally took place on St Valentine's Day: the person who presided was called Prince of the Puys, and a crown was placed on the brow of the successful competitor, who received the prize, and who adopted the title of king, which was ever after attached to his name. d'amour were most common in the north of France and in Flanders ; and those of Amiens, Arras, and Valenciennes stood highest in repute. There is still extant a partial collection of the poems to which prizes were awarded in these poetic assemblies, gathered by the Flemish trouvère, Jean Bertaut, towards the close of the thirteenth century, and classed by him under six heads. The first comprises poems, which he denominates Grants Chants, among which are several religious poems ; the second Estampies, seemingly poems descriptive of some event or locality; the third comprises the Jeux Partis, or Tensons, as they were called
among the Provençals; the fourth, pastorals; the fifth, ballads; and the sixth a class of poems emphatically denominated Sottes Chansons contre Amour (Foolish Songs against Love.) The origin of the puys d'amour is unknown: by some writers it is attributed to the spirit of association, which always characterised the northern provinces of France and the neighbouring populations of Flanders; others believe that these poetic entertainments may have originated in similar institutions known to have existed among the Celts, and which continued in full vigour among those of Wales as late as the fifteenth century.
As the Foolish Songs against Love' imply, not all troubadours or trouvères bent their knee before the altars of the dieu-roi,' as one of his worshippers has denominated him. There were of course among these poets, as among every other class of men, individuals, whose minds, made of a coarser stuff
, treated love and every other subject which they handled in a grosser and more unworthy manner, and who, in spite of the chivalrous devotion to the fair sex, considered so essential a quality in every man of polite education, ventured to make the latter also objects of their biting satires. As an example, we quote a tenson, the composition of a troubadour, known only under the name of the · Monk of Montaudon,' who lived during the latter part of the twelfth century, and whose history likewise affords a curious insight into the manners of the times. Though his name has not been recorded, he is known to have descended from a noble family of Auvergne, to have entered holy orders from choice, and to have been first a monk in the convent of Orlac, and afterwards prior of the abbey of Montaudon. Here he occupied himself much with poetry; and his satirical songs, in which he freely expressed his opinions upon all the events and occurrences in the neighbourhood, soon in so great a measure attracted
the notice of the knights and barons residing in the vicinity, that they persuaded him to leave the convent and become a man of the world. He then assumed the character of an itinerant poet, retaining, however, the garb of a monk and the title of prior, and made a rich harvest of worldly goods, which he bestowed upon the convent. After having led this kind of life for some time, he presented himself before the abbot, his ecclesiastical superior, and representing to him the improvements he had made in the priory, asked his permission to repair to the court of Aragon, and to place himself under the command of the King Alfonso. The prayer was granted, and the monk introduced himself to the king, and was by him ordered to eat meat, to make love, and to sing and write poetry.* The love-songs of the friar, however, always retained a certain flavour of the scholastic training which he had undergone in the cloister. His satirical poems, on the contrary, were noted for their humorous boldness and unsparing wit, which frequently degenerated into cynicism. To this class of his compositions belongs the tenson above alluded to, in which the monks appear before the Divinity to accuse women of having taken possession of the art of painting invented by the monks, and of having, by the brightness of the paint applied to their cheeks, thrown into the shade the votive paintings on the walls of the chapels. The women, in rejoinder, contend that they were acquainted with the art of painting before the invention of votive paintings by the monks; and one of their number observes, that she cannot see that the monks are any the worse for her sex being able, in spite of scoffers, to cover over with paint the wrinkles under their eyes. Here the Supreme Judge interferes, and proposes to the monks to allow those women who are not above twenty, thirty years to paint in; but the monks demur, and will not allow more than ten years. At length, however, St Peter and St Lawrence succeed in bringing matters to a conclusion by inducing the parties to split the difference, and fifteen years is fixed as the longest term; but, says the poet, the contract was soon broken by the women: they lay on more red and white than was ever used for a votive painting, and have in consequence raised the price of saffron and other dye-stuffs : he thinks three hundred pots would hardly suffice to contain all their different cosmetics.
That the ladies were not quite guiltless of the offences here imputed to them, we may infer from the poems of other troubadours also, which, though less caustic in their tone, nevertheless do battle against the rouge-pot.
In general we are not left to gle a knowledge of the times and of the principles which ruled society from casual allusions to them in its poetical monuments. There are, on the contrary, among the works of trouvères and troubadours, compositions which, taking the form of didactic poems, give the most explicit information on various subjects. Thus the troubadour Arnaut de Marsans makes as acquainted with the qualities essential in a cavalier who would please the fair sex.
At the opening of the poem the troubadour, a lord of high repute, represents himself and his companions as upon the point of issuing from his castle to enjoy a morning's sport. 'It was a morning in the beginning of the month of October. I had ordered two of my pages to take two falcons, and to a third I had given a vulture. My dogs and my greyhounds were with me, and we were preparing—ten well-mounted cavaliers we were—to enjoy the pleasure of a hunt with a falcon which I had selected expressly for the purpose, when we were unexpectedly retained by the arrival of a cavalier who had the look of a penitent. Here the author gives a description of the stranger knight, whom he represents as possessing all those perfections which were then considered to constitute the beauty of a man, and then continues :— The handsome but melancholy cavalier approached slowly, with his head bent down, as if he were overcome with fatigue, saluted no one, and, without uttering a word, took my horse by the bridle, and drew me aside. Suffering was depicted in his face, and without delay he made me acquainted with its cause. “For the love of God, have compassion on me, my lord,” said he. “ I come to you, knowing you to be the knight of all others best able to give counsel in matters of love. I come from a country very far from this solely to learn from you what is to become of me, and what I am to do. I love a lady as perfect in goodness as she is in beauty ; but however much I endeavour to please her, I cannot succeed. I am obliged to confess it; I wish to love, but I know not how to behave. Tell it me then. Be my master, you who are so able a man. How must I behave in order that she may not always say no to what I ask, and that she may at last deign to love me?"
* Diez-Leben u, Werke d. Troub,
At these words I sent back all my attendants, to whom I gave orders to return home with the dogs, to shut up my falcons and my vulture, and to take great care of them until the next morning, when I would resume the sport. Then, being left alone with my new guest, I took him by the hand (literally, by the glove), I begged him to give me time until the next morning to speak of his affairs, and to reflect upon what I had to say to him; and
2 having asked him to condescend to tell me of what lineage he was, all that I learned of his family and his sentiinents inspired me with a still greater interest in him personally. Having entered my room together, and being still alone, we sat down to play at chess and at draughts, and to sing songs, and to tell tales until sunset, when they came to apprise us that supper was on the table. We went into the great hall, where several persons were already assembled: the repast over, we went to bed, for the stranger knight being fatigued, stood much in need of rest. At daybreak we rose, we attended mass, and thence we went to breakfast, for Bibeaux, my connétable, had had it served up. When we had done eating I rose, and leaving all the company in the hall, I walked down the steps with the unhappy young man, whom I led into my orchard, and whom I seated opposite to me under the shade of a laurel bush. Then I commenced by telling him that I would speak to him neither of riches nor of understanding, as means calculated to give success in love, and that I reduced the essential qualifications to being lively and good-humoured, polite and enterprising. But, I continued, before I began to love, I would first of all learn to know the history of all the celebrated gallants who had made the most numerous conquests, who had felt and inspired the most violent passions. Happily, I have learned to know them from a master very learned in love, and I will repeat to you all that I heard from him.' Then follows a long list of