Page images


CHIVALRY, KNIGHTHOOD), AND to a more regular form and discipline. THE COURTS OF LOVE.+ The great barons wishing to draw closer

the bonds of fendality, added to the cere.

mony of homage that of conferring arms CHIVALRY, viewed as a distinct order in on their young vassals, when they took' the social state, was the offspring of fell

out for the first time on their expeditions. dality. The epoch of its origin is not They afterwards granted a similar investic! clearly ascertained, but it does not appear

tare to volunteers, who, without bolding to ascend earlier than the eleventh cen- any tenure of them, offered their services tạry: knighthood, however, may be said through desire of glory. The honour of to have existed previously as a mere cere- receiving arms in presence of a namerous" mony, in which young men intended for and noble assembly, the distributiou of the military profession received their first dresses, pelisses, cloaks, swords, and arm, and Tacirus mencions its existence jewels, beside gold aud silver, which were among the ancient German nations. It lavished on those occasions, and the pride was to them, as the assuming the toga to

of appearing worthy of the honour of the young Romaus, after which they were knighthood, were powerful attractions to considered as effective members of the young men, especially of narrow fortunes.' republic. The Romans themselves bor. Many youths of gentle lineage, but orphan rowed the custom, and solemnly invested or destitute, were likewise brought up at their young patricians with the rank of the court of some great lord, or in some of knight. The young Cæsars, who were ad- the hospices which were supported for the niitted to this hugonr, were styled so Prin- purpose by baronial inunificence, and" cipes juventirtis," and Gajus Cæsar, adopt- where they received their first instroced by Angustus, was the first to attain tions, to enter afterwards their patron's this iille." Among the Longobards, the service as varlets or pages. This was the şons of their kings were not allowed to sit only resource in those turbulent ages, at their father's table unless they had re- when the power and the wealth of the Crived the sword froin the elief of another crown, circumscribcd within nation. In subsequent ages we find fre- bounds, could not afford nobler or more gnent mention of a he cingulum militaire, or advantageous employment to those who sword-belt, and the young men invested wished to devote themselves to the service with it were called milites, by which ap-' of the state. It was not then cousidered a pellation the cavalry was distinguished. degradation for a young gentleman to But chivalry, considered as an association

enter the service of a baron, it was but an bestowing liigh rauk and privilege in the exchange of personal services for past care state and in the militia, having its degrees and future patronage. The honseholds of af noviciate and of preferment, subject to the great lords were composed like those fixed regulations, and bound by oath to of kings, having corresponding officers. certain duties, the chivalry in short of the The tirst situation given to youths just middle ages, which atfords an inexhausti- emerged from infancy was that of curlet, ble theme to romance and poetry, begins or domicellus, Italicé donzello ; as such, to appear in lustory as a dignity, and is they served their masters and mistresses, recorded in public acts only about the end carried their messages, attended them in of the second or Carlovingian dynasty, their journeys, visits, and hunting parties, The chivalric institutions were by degrees and sometimes waited on them at table. carried to a singular degree of refineineat The first lessons they received (and the and exaltation, and patronized by nio

task of instructing them devolveu chiefly narchs from a political view of binding the

on the ladie) were of piety to God and will and checking the power of the no

devotion to the fair. Their religion was bility,

of course encumbered with superstition, “When France (the cradle and seat of but their catechisın of love was siugularly chivalry),” says Ferrario, who himself refined, and in order to strengthen their quotes from ihe learned' Saint-Palaye, principles, and to guard against the aber. 4 emerged out of the chaos of troubles rations of yonth, they were made to select which accompanied the extinction of the early a lady among the most noble and second dynasty, the royal anthority made virtuous at court, to whom they devoted itself beiter respected; things assomed a

all their sentiments and all their actions. new aspect, laws were enacted, and com- They were at the same time exercised in munes formed, freedoms were granted to gynınastic and martial games, and taught towns, and feudal tenure became subject to venerate above all the august character

of chivalry.”

The next step in a young man's career # Abridged from the Foreign Quarterly Review. No. XII., f, Ferrario's History of Chivalry, &.

was that of squire, which was attainable

at fourteen years of age. This promotion Vol. VI.


[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

was accompanied by a religions ceremony. neck of the candidate, accompanied by
The officiating clergyman took from the the words :-" In the name of God, of
altar a belt and a sword, blessed them, St. Michael and St. George, I make theç
and girded them on the candidate. This a knight; be valiant, courageous, and
ceremony was similar to the ancient in- loyal!" Then lie received his helmet, hiş.
stallation of knight. The squires were shield, and spear, and thus the investiture
classed according to the offices they held; ended.".
there were the squire of the chumber, or The three blows were, like most other
chamberlain , the curcing squire, the squire ceremonies of chivalry, syınbolic, and
Qellurer, the groom of the stables, and the meant as a warning to the young kniglit
squire of honour, whose special office it was, to be prepared for hardships and dangers
to attend the person of the knight or lady; in the fulálnient of his vocation. A double
others took care of their master's arms, coat of mail, sword proof, a stont lance, a
and armour, and went their rounds at şurcoat emblazoned with arınorial de
night, and visited the ramparts of the vices, these were exclusively worn by
castle. When the lord went to combat, knights ; 'squires bad only a slight hauberi,
he was attended by some of his chosen a shield, and a sword. The cloaks of
squires, who carried bis arms, led his war knights werc scarlet lined withi fur; their
liorse, and then fell back behind their vizors, their spurs, and the bridles of their
master when in actual engagement, ready horses were ornamenied with gold; silver
to assist him if wounded, or to supply him was the distinction of squires. To the
with fresi horses and weapons. The names of the former were prefixed the
conrts of the barons afforded a good school titles of Sire, Messire, Don, and Dume and
of courloisųe ; becoming manners, a modest Madame to those of their ladies, wliilst
yet manly bearing, and a graceful address, the squires were styled Monsieur and Du-
were qualities requisite in a synire. The moiseuu, and their wives Demoiselles,
society of the ladies and of their damsels Kniglits alove had a right to use seals en:
was calculated to inspire him with that graved with arms, In short, no man,
respectful attention to the sex which by however high might be his birtii

, was condegrees became, and long continued, a sidered as a free agent and an effeetive pational teature of the French character. member of the state, until he was ad:

The age in which a squire was admissi- mitted to knighthood. Other solid ad. ble to the order of knighthood was fixed vantages pertained to the order. A knight, at twenty-one years, except for princes of like the old Roman soldier, was free of the blood, and in cases of young men of taxes on provisions, and tolls on the road; extraordinary merit. The ceremony of all barriers were thrown open before hini. admission was peculiarly solemn.

His appearance and dress sufficiently pro“ After undergoing a severe fast, and claimed bis rank.' If he fell into the hands spending whole vights in prayer in the of the enemy, he was exempted from fet company of a clergyman, and of his god. ters or chains, and allowed a certain fathers, the caudidate confessed and re. liberty within the precincts of the place ceived the sacrament; he then tuok a of his confinement. Tue aide-chevels or bath, consipg out of which he clothed chivalry tax was levied on four occasions liimself in snow-white garments, symbolię on the vassals of a knight: 1st, on the inof the purity required by the order he was stallation of his eldest son : 2nd, on the going to enter, and thus accontred, he marriage of his daughters: 3dly, on the repaired to the church or the hall where occasion of his crossing the sea to the the ceremony was to take place, bearing Holy Land: 4thly, to defray his ransom. a knightly sword suspended froin his neck, Rausomis, which were valned generally at which the clergymnan took and blessedone year's revenue of the captive, fornied and then returned to him. The candidate an occasional item in the revenue of a then proceeded with folded hands and knight. The custom of prisoners paying knelt before the presiding knight, who, a ransom was continued as late as the sixafter some questions about his motives teenth century among Christian nations, and purposes in requesting admission, ad, and in the East it prevails to this day, ministered to him the oaths, and granted As it often happened that a kuight underbis request. Some of the knights present, took the defence of the person and prosometinęs even ladies and damsels, liando perty of an heiress or widow who was ated to him in succession the spars, the coattacked or threatened by some violeut of mail, the lauberk, the armlet and peighbour, whilst her natural protectors gauntlet, and lastly he girded the sword. were perhaps dead or far away, it also He then knult again before the president, followed not anfrequently that the de who rising from his seat gave him the fender married his fair protegće, and thus colaile, which consisted of ihrec strukes acquired wealth and power. with the day of a sword ou the shoulder or Ay esseutial prerogative of a kuigut was

that of conferring knighthood on another. and the improved tactics of the infantry, Wheu cited to appear before a court of which has always been the populur arm, justice, a knight was treated with pecu- diminished the importance of a cavalry of liar regard ; if he obtained a favourable knights, who had constituted formerly the sentence, lie was entitled to double costs only effective force of tlie state. And from his adversaries, and for the same latterly, the introduction of tire arms, reason, when condemned, he also paid a which changed the whole method of wardouble tine. Upon the same principle, we fare; pot combatants on a footing of equareas that at the siege of Dan-la-Roy in lity; and rendered armour, and spears, and 1411, knights had to carry eight fascines, shields, useless incumbrances, gave the while squires carried only four.

finishing blow to the institution of chia As knights had been originally the heads valry, at least as a fendal order, the forms and distributors of jnstice, so they re- and the nante still remaining as an ho. tained for a long time the privilege of fillo nourable distinction bestowed by soves ing some of the higher offices in the ma- reigos on persons of distinguished meritor gistracy. "They sat in the council of the exalted rank. king, and were likewise employed in ne- The abuses and excesses by which old gociations and embassies, together with chivalry was disgraced in the persons of an equal number of ecclesiastics. By de- many of its adepts, have been recorded by grees, lowever, and with a view to check the chronicles and historians of the middle their power, a third order was instituted ages. When we read of a Count of Mont. for the professors of law and of letters, morency plundering the abbey of Saint which innovation sorely wounded the Denis, of other knighted barons turning pride of the old military knights, who, de- highwaymen and stopping travellers--kpising the lawyers and the learned, ah. when we peruse the details of the horrors šented themselves altogether from the committed by De Montfort and his ac parliaments and courts of justice, and complices against the unfortunate Albis thas left the field of legislation and admi- genses, we know not what to think of their nistration open to the plebeians, or tiers loyalty and piety. With regard to their état. This was a fatal blow to the feidal gallantry, we shall presently see, in speak. power and served to accelerate its fall. ing of the courts of love, that it was often

But as it happens in general that great neither purer por more honourable. political changes are the result of many Those, however, who associate iuvariacanses, so we find that the decay of chia bly the ideas of chivalry with that of effe. valry was brouglit about gradually and minate gallantry, mistake the chivalry of through various symptoms. The ruinous one epoch and country for the whole hiswars of the Crusades, which impoverished tory of the order. Chivalry, like all other the nobles, the expensive pageants of tbe widely diffused institutions, was modified tournaments, which, though interdicted in its character by that of the people who by the church, became more and more adopted it; in Spain it was religious, hofreqnent, the numerous creation of kniglits nourable, and stern; in northern France, who had not been previously trained up gallant, romantic, but turbulent; in Proby a preparatory discipline, but were mere vence, amorons, lady-serving, and dissolawless adventurers, their broils anyong tute. themselves, tlieir insubordination towards We have mentioned the courts of love. the crown now become more jealous of its These singular tribunals, a branch of the power, their oppression on the commons, institution of chivalry, originated in Proall these tended to degrade knighthood. vence and Languedoc. They consisted of During the disturbed reign of Charles IV., an indefinite number of married ladies, knights took an active part in the various presided by a princess, or wife of a sove factions that desolated the kingdum. reign baron. The Countess of Champagne Charles VII., by ivstituting the gendara assembled one of sixty ladies. Nostramerie, a permanent and regularly em- damns mentions ten ladies as sitting in the bodied and well-disciplined militia, gave court of Signa in Provence, twelve in that another blow to chivalry. The young of Romanin, fourteen in Avignon. Knights nobility, attracted by novelty and by the also sometimes sat in them. Queen Eleanor, prospect of promotion, enrolled themselves consort of Louis VII., and afterwards of readily in the new corps. By degrees, Henry II. of England, held a Court of the custom of creating knights on the field Love. Her

daughter Mary, wife of Henry of battle fell into disuse. Francis I. was Connt of Champagne, presided likewise one of the last that underwent this cere. over several Coarts of Love, as well as mony' at thie battle of Marignano. Tour- Sybilla of Anjou, Conntess of Flanders, naments were also discontinued after that also jo the twelfth century, and Ermenfatal one in which Henry Il. received his garde, Viscountess of Narbonne. death blow. The increasing employment The Troubadours had invented, among other species of compositions, one which of Champagne, whether love can exist they called Tenson, probably from the between busband and wite? The CounLatin contentio, which was a sort of dia- tess, afier prefacing that she and her logne in verse between two poets, who other ladies were always ready to give questioned each other on some refined advice to those who might otherwise err points of love's casuistry; such as : " oue in the articles of love,decided that there Iover is jealous and feels alarmed at a can be no love in the state of matsiuiony, straw, another is so confident of his mis- because, unlike free lovers, who act from tress's faith, that he does not perceive their own will and favour, married people evcu just motives of suspicion; it is asked, are boud to accede to their wiutual which of the two feels most love? &c.” wishes, and deny one another. There can The answers were eqnally ingenions, and be no jealousy between them, and, accordthe debate was often referred to the ing to rules, without jealousy there can be courts of love for a final decision. These no love; ergo, &c." And this precious decisions were registered and fufmed a decision from a lady of the highest rank, sort of statute book of the “gay science.” herself married, is dated A. D. 1164 KaThese tensons were also called joulx lend. Maii. d'umour, and the decisions Lousui rets A young lady, after being in love with d'amours.

a knight, has married another; is she But others and less hypothetical matters obliged to keep away her first lover, and were also brought before the courts of refuse her favour to him? The answer of love for final jndgment. Lovers complain- Ermengarde, Viscountess of Narbonne, is, ing of the infidelity of their mistresses, that the marriage bond does not exclude ladies complaining of their lovers' neglect, by right the former attachment, uoless the or wishing to have an authorization to freé tady declare that she meant to abjure love themselves from their chains, these ap- for ever, pealed often in person to the courts of love Again : a knight fell in love with a lady with as much earnestness and gravity as already engaged to another; she however an injured husband would sue betore our promised him, that if she ever ceased to coprts for a separation or divorce. The love liis rival, she should take him into court, it appears, summoned the accused, favour. After a short time the lady who submitted to its authority, although it married her first layer. The knight BUW was supported only by opiniou. One knight required the fulfilment of her promise ; brought a charge of venälity against a lady the lady refused, saying, that although for having accepted costly presents from niarried, she still loved ber husband. This him without making him any returns in was referred as a knotty point to Queen kindness. Queen Eleanor's decision was Eleanor, who replied thus: “ We do not that, a lady ought either not to accept pre- presume to contradiet the sentence of the sents, or make a due return for them. The Countess of Chanıpagne, who has solemnly influence of Provençal manners on chi- pronounced that there can be no true love valry is remarkable in as much as instead in wedlock. We therefore are of opinion of combats and other romantic ftats, dis- that the lady in question should grant her putes of jealousy and rivalry between love to the wooing knight.”. knights were often quietly submitted to We shall give no more of this wretched the decision of a female tribunal.

jnrisprudence, observing only that it bears The morality, if we may use such a mise throughout the stanıp of female mind; nomer, of the Courts of Love, was a code and we are far from saying this invidiously, of licentiousness and adultery, mixed with for we are persuaded that such was the an affected display of refined sentimenta- general corruption of the time, that had lity. It strictly corresponds with the the judgments been left to men, they would practice of cicisbeism, which has so have been still more gross and imunoral. long prevailed in the South of Europe, Besides, we are of opinion that men give only still less veiled than in its modern the tone to the females of a country, and times. The unblushing effrontery with that where the latter are corrupt it is which ladies expressed their sentiments on originally the fault of the former. 'Indeed the subject is astonishing, even to us who we find ihat it was disreputable for a lady have witnessed the familiarity of the ca- to have a great baron for her lover, as the ralieri serventi and cortejos of the two upper classes of nobles were considered southern peninsulas. A few extracts from too debauched and too careless of their the questions brought before the Courts of own and their mistresses' reputations to Love, and of the judginents passed there- deserve the affections of a teniale. But on, will bear us out fully in our expression we allude to certain provisos devised not of unqualificd reprobation of the whole unskilfully in favour of the sex : for insystem.

stance, we find that a knight who had A question was laid before the Countess contrived to keep in favour with two ladies tinknown to each other, is sentenced by the bed-room, where they retired together, Countess of Flanders to be deprived of This occurrence was reported about, and both, and inadmissible to the love of any soon reached the ears of Si. Didier, who, other womail, ou account of his selfishi- after the first moments of anger, consolid ness.

himself by choosiug another mistress. As It might be urged, however, by some for the husband, he was either deaf as simple-minded persons, that all ihis meant well as blind, or did not believe or did uut platonic love, a sort of spiritual affection, care, as no further mentiou is made of for such indeed was the jargon of the him.” Troubadours ; and we have heard this What can we think of the manners and alleged also in favour of the cicisbeism of tlie state of society in a country, when the South. The answer is short: that it such scenes as this were rehearsed openly, might be so in some instances is very in presence of kvights and damsels, in the possible; but then the parties were virtis house of a nobleman, with the convivance ous in spite of those connexions and of of his servants? And ihis is not a solitary the danger they incurred through them. tale of which we might donbt the veracity; Ibat this was far from being geiterally the it is only one of a thonsand. case, however, we have abundant iesti- There was a code of love, by which the mony in the records of the Troubadours decisions of the courts were chiefly guided. theniselves.

A fabulous legend was related of its being " William of St. Didier a rich and found by a knight of King Arthur's court, valiant knight, and an accomplished snspended by a gold chain from a tree. Troubadour, attached himself to the This code contained thirty-one articles ; Marquise Polignac, a beautiful woman, we shall qnote some in the Latin of Maistre in whose praise he wrote several ballads, André : “ Causa conjugii ab amore non addressed to ber under a feigned name. excusatio recta-Qui non celat, adiare The marquis was a bon-homme, fond of non potest Nemo duplici potest amore music, and who often sang the ballads of ligari- Non est sapidum qnod amans aby St. Didier. The marchioness, to satisfy invito sumit amante - Biennalis viduitas sone scruples, wanted the consent of her pro amante defuncto superstiti præown consort before she granted favour to scribitur amanti Amor

nihil putest St. Didier. The latter then composed a amori denegare-Amans coamantis solaballad, in which he introduces a hasband liis satiari non potest Verus amans algranting to his wife a similar permission. terius nisi suæ coamantis ex affectu non At the same time St. Didier told his good cupit amplexus-Masculus non solet vist friend the marguis, that this was a strata. in plena pubertate amare-Novus amor gein which he employed in order to obtain veterem compellit abire-Unam fæminam the favours of a lady. Polignac laughed nihil prohibet a duobus amari, et a duabus heartily at the scheme, learned the song nalieribus unum.” After this we suppose by heart, repeated it to his wife, and told we need not attach much credit to the the latter that the lady for whom the assertions of Maistre Audré and other ballad was made ought to refuse nothing Troubadours, that their love was not to the Troubadour. The marquise fol. sensual, that “ those who sought sensual lowed bis advice to the letter. But this gratification onght to keep away from is not all. In order to screen his inti- courts of love, that honour alone was to macy, St. Didier affected to have another be sought in love," and other well-soundmistress; and be dissembled so well that ing sentences. In all times meu bave eno the marquise became jealous, and de- deavoured to deceive themselves as well termined to take revenge accordingly, as others on these subjects. after the manner then prevailing. In her Discretion, however, was strongly in. intimacy with St. Didier she had en. culcated to the favoured lover, and one of ployed a confidant, a handsome young the articles of the code of love says: inan, and she now fixed her eyes on hin, amor raro consuevit durare vulgatus.' A pilgrimage was arranged, another con. Violence was also reprobated. In short, venient fashion of those times. The things had been contrived so as to constimarquise set off, accompani+d by her tnte an easy system of retined profligacy. new lover, and followed by dansels and And many of these Troubadours went knights. They stopped at the castle of over 10 Palestine, singing pious themes St. Didier, who was absent; but his and erotic lays on the sanie biaip. servants received the lady and her suite with all due honours. A splendid banquet was spread, after which, the apartments being prepared for the night, the lady look her young favourite to St, Didier's

« PreviousContinue »