Courtoisie in Anglo-Norman Literature

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Courtoisie in Anglo-Norman Literature

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TRENT UNIVERSITY LIBRARY

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Courtoisie in Anglo-Norman Literature C. B. WEST, M.Litt., Ph.D.

HASKELL

HOUSE

Publishers of Scholarly Books NEW YORK

1966

?Pv^5

published by

HASKELL HOUSE Publishers of Scholarly Books 30 East 10th Street • New York, N, Y. 10003

PRINTED IN UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Chapter I Introduction

In considering the influence on Anglo-Norman literature of the French ideas of courtoisie, it is of primary importance to make clear in what sense that term is to be understood. The word as it is used in Old French may be, as in the modern language, the equivalent of ‘politesse recherchee’. Both courtoisie and courtois, however, have a much richer connotation in med¬ iaeval than in modern French, as appears from the terms with which they are found connected in the older language. The far-reaching associations of courtoisie and of the words related to it appear in a number of examples collected by M. Dupin from various Old French texts.1 Courtois, for example, frequently occurs in conjunction with the adjectives fidele and loyal, while again in many texts courtoisie is almost equivalent to sympathetic insight, and is associated with bonte and pitie. It is a common accompaniment of largesse or liberality, especially the kind of liberality that seeks to glorify the man who shows it, and which results in part from that exuberant vitality, or joie, characteristic of the courtois man or woman. All these qualities are to be seasoned with mesure, which implies a sense of proportion and of the fitness of things.2 Finally, and most important of all, cour¬ toisie cannot reach its full development without love, and con¬ versely, if a man is to love worthily, he must have the qualities already enumerated as being those of the courtois character. It is the wide range of associations with courtois and courtoisie that is responsible for the particular use of these terms in modern times with reference to certain branches of Old French literature. Courtoisie, in its modern literary sense, may be taken as denoting the literary expression of an attitude to life. What that attitude is becomes apparent if we compare the outlook of the romans courtois with that of the chansons de geste. From this point of view, an essential feature in the romans courtois is the important part played in them by social life, and especially court life, in which, almost inevitably, and at whatever period of history, the relations of men and women are of 1 H. Dupin La courtoisie au tnoyen age. 2 Cf. Jessie Crosland: ‘The conception of “mesure” in some mediaeval poets’ Modern Language Review XXI (1926) 380-384. B

2

Courtoisie in Anglo-Norman Literature

predominating interest. Thus the fundamental topics of courtois literature are the relations of the sexes and the problems, especially the emotional problems, of individuals. The social setting is always more or less in evidence. The characters of the heroes and heroines of the romances are thrown into relief against a background of contemporary society; they are presented to the reader as they appear to the eyes of their acquaintance, the mem¬ bers of their own courts or households or of their parents’. Their virtues are essentially social virtues, such as courtesy and liberality, and the social arts and graces are an extremely impor¬ tant part of their equipment. From another aspect, however, the individual, as distinct from his social setting, is of supreme importance in courtly literature. In the chansons de geste the group is dominant; Roland and Oliver may and do stand out as distinct personalities, but they are first of all members of Charlemagne’s ‘maisnie’, of the French ‘barnage’, and of the Christian Church in the service of which they are ready to die against the infidels. The outlook of the 0 courtly hero is very different. The sentiment of feudal loyalty, while not altogether absent, is often very much in abeyance. The hero’s real interest is in his own exploits, in the acquiring of ‘los et pris,’ the winning of individual renown. He has an ideal— in many respects a high one—but its attainment concerns few beside himself and the lady whose favour he is striving to win, c and it is for himself, in the pursuit of his own private ideal, that he spends his energies.1 It is natural that in courtois literature, dealing as it does with social and personal relations, the problem of love should be of supreme interest, of such vital interest indeed that the particular ideal of love which forms the basis of courtoisie can only be described by the distinctive term ‘amour courtois’ or ‘courtly love’. Amour courtois is of a particular if not a unique type, to find the earliest example of which in western literature we must turn to the poetry of the troubadours. It is true that Provencal literature is almost entirely lyrical, while in Old French, cour¬ toisie finds expression equally in the romances, which contain many elements obviously not derived from Provencal sources. However, the great importance of Provencal literature for our 1 ‘Ce qui caracterise . . . le roman . . . en regard de l’epopee, c’est. . . que celle-ci subordonne les heros particuliers k l’ensemble dont ils font partie, et que celui-la met les individus au premier plan et se plait au developpement nuance de leur caractere et de leur fa$on de sentir.’ Gaston Paris ‘Le roman d’aventure’ Cosmopolis XI (Sept. 1898) 768-9.

Introduction

3

subject lies in the fact that it expresses for the first time, at least in the West, the doctrine of courtly love, thus laying the founda¬ tion of the courtois system. The lyrics of the troubadours mark a new departure in European literature:1 ‘Everything that is commonly called poetry in the modern tongues’, wrote Professor Ker, ‘may in some way or other trace its pedigree back to William of Poitiers.’2 The problem of the origin of the Provencal school of poetry, which apparently arises without warning at the end of the eleventh century, still remains unsolved.3 Apart from more or less doubtful literary influences, such as those of the mediaeval Latin lyric4 and of Arabic and Spanish poetry,5 perhaps the chief factor in the development of the new type of literature, in which psychological analysis and the rela¬ tions of men and women have the first place, is the greater refine¬ ment of social fife6 and especially the change in the position of women7 which is accomplished in the twelfth century. From that time women play a considerable part in social life, not merely as the wives of their husbands but as individuals, and this change in their status is reflected in literature; Provei^al poetry is in great measure love-poetry, and treats women as intrinsically interesting apart from, if not indeed in spite of their connection with their male relatives. If it is to a great extent in the changed conditions of women’s life in the twelfth century that troubadour poetry has its origin, it is also largely through the influence of women, and of certain great ladies in particular, that courtly literature spreads to the north. The marriages of Eleanor of Aquitaine herself, first with 1 Cf. Christopher Dawson ‘The Origins of the Romantic Tradition’ Criterion XI (1931-32) 222-248. 2 The Dark Ages (1904) p. 6. 8 The position was reviewed by M. Jeanroy (La poesie lyrique des troubadours) in 1934; cf. more recently C. S. Lewis The Allegory of Love (Oxford 1936) which unfortunately I was unable to see until after the present study had been written. 4 Cf. H. Waddell The Wandering Scholars (1927), S. Gaselee The Transition from the Late Latin Lyric to the Medieval Love Poem (Cambridge 1931), O. A. Dobiash-Rozhdestvenskaya Les poesies des Goliards (1931). 6 The examination of the problem, tempting as it is, of the possible connection between Arabic and Provencal poetry (Cf. in the Legacy of Islam by Sir T. Arnold and A. Guillaume (Oxford 1931) the chapter on Literature byH. A. R. Gibb, esp.p99. 182 ff.)still suffers front the lack of that collaboration between Orientalists and Romance scholars postulated by Diez in 1883 as the first step towards a solution of the question (cf. Jeanroy Poesie Lyrique I 70, II 366). 8 This is probably partly due to the contact of the crusading barons with Constantinople: and the East (Jeanroy Poesie Lyrique I 82-83). 7 Jeanroy Histoire de la nation franfaise (ed. G. Hanotaux) XII 250.

Courtoisie ]N Anglo-Norman Literature

4

Louis VII and then with Henry Plantagenet, and of her daughters Marie and Alis, who carried their mother’s influence to the courts of Champagne and Blois, probably contributed as much as any single cause to the development of courtly poetry in northern France.1 According to Chretien de Troyes, it was at the suggestion of Marie de Champagne that he wrote the Roman de la Charrette, which of all his romances most perfectly expresses the spirit of courtoisie. It was probably at her court that Andre le Chapelain wrote his De Amoved' which appeared to Gaston Paris as the theoretical counterpart of the Roman de la Charrette.3 It is to be noted, however, that though the De Amore is regularly taken as the work of all others in which the theory of courtly love is set forth, its tone, especially in the third part, which is a Remedia Amoris, is often more in keeping with the cynicism of Ovid than with the seriousness of courtly love. To see in what measure the ideas of courtoisie spread yet further north and influenced Anglo-Norman literature is the object of the present study. Without trying to distinguish clearly between the courtoisie of Provence and that of northern France, it may be well to consider briefly what are the chief characteristics of courtoisie, whether in the south or in the north, before trying to discover how far Anglo-Norman writers seem to possess a knowledge of courtois conventions. •









If the doctrine of courtly love is the foundation of courtoisie, the essential element in courtly love is the mfermrity of thejover in relation to his lady. He behaves to her’asto'aTfeudTTIord^t’o whom he owes respect and obedience, or as to a goddess, for whom, symbol of perfection as she is, he shows an almost religious reverence. It is probably a mistake to overlook the physical element in amour courtois; the lover’s perception of beauty, in the face and form no less than in the heart and mind of his beloved, is the deter¬ mining cause of his passion, and courtly love is not necessarily platonic. Far from being purely or even mainly physical, however, it is associated with other moods. It is conceived of as necessary 1

Cf. R. Bossuat Drouart la Vache, traducteur d’ Andre le Chapelain, ^290 (Paris 1926) p. viii. 2ed. Trojel.

5 ... ‘on retrouve dans ces regies [the thirty-one rules of love given by Andre in ch. 8 of his second book, on how love may be retained] la theorie dont le poeme de Chretien nous montre la pratique.’ (Romania XII (1883) 532.) 1 Cf. E. Wechssler ‘Frauendienst und Vassalitat’ Zeitschrift filr fran?6sische Sbraebe und ILiteratur XXIX 159 ff.

Introduction

5

to the perfection of the individual, as quickening his vitality and so furthering his mental and moral development; correcting his faults and developing his good qualities: ‘Amour rend les hommes vils vertueux, donne Fesprit aux sots, rend les avares prodigues, donne la loyaute aux fourbes, la sagesse aux fous, la science aux ignorants et la douceur aux orgueilleux.’1 One of its, most important results or accompaniments is the state of ‘joF, that ‘exaltation qui eleve une ame bien nee au-dessus des senti¬ ments vulgaires et la livre en proie a toutes les inspirations genereuses’.2 It is a state3 as much above mere pleasure as courtly love is above animal passion. Consequently, since love is able thus to quicken and trans¬ form, it must if necessary be deliberately cultivated.4 From some points of view, it is, as M. Faral describes it, a ‘passion disciplinee’,6 developing along certain definite lines and showing itself in recognized fashion, according to the principles laid down by Andre le Chapelain. Love in the abstract is thus on the whole in harmony with reason, and far removed from the love of the Greeks6 or the love of Catullus, but this does not alter the fact that in individual cases 1 Aimeric de Peguillan (Mahn Gedichte der Troubadours, no. 344) quoted by Anglade Les Troubadours p. 85. “Jeanroy: Poesie lyrique II 100 and note. On the expansive tendency of joy, cf. W. R. Boyce Gibson (on A. F. Shand Foundations of Character) in Mind, New Series XXV 37-8, and the definition of its results given by Fouillee, to whom Boyce Gibson refers: ‘. . . les fonctions cerebrales s’accomplissent avec plus de rapidite et d’aisance; l’intelligence est plus animee, la sensibilite plus expansive, la volonte plus bienveillante. En un mot, l’expression de la joie est une expression generale de liberte et, par cela meme, de liberalite’ (La psychologie des idlesforces (1893) I 155). * It must be admitted that such a state seems hardly to find expression in Anglo-Norman literature. On the question of the equivalent of ‘joi’, not so much in Anglo-Norman as in Middle English poetry, cf. J. Audiau Les troubadours et VAngleterre, p. 63 n. and Chaytor The Troubadours and England p. 118. 4 ‘L’obligation d’aimer s’impose & tout jeune homme bien ne (la chanson est cens6e n’etre faite que pour ceux-la).’ Jeanroy Poesie lyrique II 95. 4 ‘C’est bien la passion que chantent nos poetes, mais la passion disciplinee, et ils ne la chantent qu’autant quela raison l’avoue.’ Faral La poesie lyrique (Bedier et Hazard Hist, de la litt.franQaise I 45). * Cf. Jeanroy, defining courtly love by a series of negations: ‘Ce n’est pas l’amour fatal des anciens, qui ravit l’homme a lui-m£me et le livre sans defense au plus puissant des dieux: redoutable maladie qui consume son corps et paralyse sa volonte, delire de ses sens, qui se traduit par de tels cris de fureur que l’on ne sait parfois si l’amant s’adresse au plus chdri des dtres ou au plus abhorre des ennemis.’ (Poesielyrique II95-6.) Considered in its most important function, that of developing the lover’s personality, it would seem more akin to that love of man for man which ‘some of the best of the Greeks set . . . far above that of man for woman’, the one being ‘primarily of the spirit, the other primarily of the flesh; the one bent upon shaping to the type of all manly excellence both the body and soul of the beloved, the other upon a passing pleasure of the senses.’ (Lowes Dickinson The Greek View of Life ed. 7, (1909) p. 182.) Since, however, the direct knowledge of Plato in the Middle Ages did not extend beyond the Timaeus, the attempt to establish a direct influence of Platonism on courtoisie appears both difficult and ha2ardous.

Courtoisie in Anglo-Norman Literature

6

love may hold sway regardless of, or even in opposition to reason. The heroes and heroines of the romances, being more or less clearly aware that only through exercising the power of love can they attain their full development, are commonly in a state that predisposes them to it, but the actual onset of love occurs normally as a coup defoudre, independently of reason or of the will. The fair image of a woman, or of a man, enters the lover’s heart through the eyes, and he or she presently falls a victim to love’s sickness. It is here, as M. Faral1 has shown in the case of the Eneas, that the authors of the romans courtois, as distinct from the troubadours, owe a considerable debt to Ovid, from whom are taken in great measure the accounts, abounding in the romans courtois, of lovers fallen a prey to the malady of Hereos.2 Such is the name by which the disease of love is known in the Middle Ages.3 It is a significant title, resulting from a confusion of eros and heros, a confusion surely reflecting that aristocratic exclusive¬ ness which is one of the leading characteristics of the courtois standpoint.4 The feeling of £an insuperable difference between gentle and simple’ is indeed one of the chief differences between the spirit of tfie romans courtois and that of the chansons de geste, and, according to W. P. Ker,5 between an epic or heroic, and a romantic age. Thus, amour courtois is beyond the range of the ‘vilain’, to whom, as in the Roman de la Rose, the entrance of the Garden of Love is strictly forbidden. Side by side with the idea that love is necessary to the development of the individual is the insistence on a certain degree of moral and intellectual, and especially social excellence as a qualification for the would-be lover. ‘A1 cor gentil ripara sempre amore’, which raises the question, more discussed, however, in Italy than in France, of what is to be taken as the criterion of ‘gentleness’. While the troubadours’ acquaintance with Ovid appears to be superficial,6 his influence on courtois writers, such as the author of the Eneas and Chretien de Troyes, is undoubted. The idea of writing about an ‘art of love’ at all may be traced to some extent to the author of the Ars amatoria,7 whom the Middle Ages 1 Kecherches sur les sources latines des contes et romans courtois. 2 Cf. Faral Les romans courtois (Bedier et Hazard Hist, de la litt.fr. I 17). 3 For the origin and history of this word and what it represents, cf. J. L. Lowes ‘The Loveres Maladye of Hereos ’ Mod. Philology XI (1913-1914) 491-546. 4 La Chatelaine de Vergy ed. Bedier (1927) p. xiv. Epic and Komance (1897) p. 7. 6 D. Scheludko'Ovidund dieTrobadors’ Zeitschrift fur romanische Philologie LIV (1934) 129-174. ' Cf. G. Paris Korn. XII 519.

6

Introduction

7

treated on the whole with reverence, as a fount of wisdom and solid principles.1 Fundamentally, however, the attitude of the courtly lover is probably more in harmony with contemporary religious feeling than with the spirit of Ovid. The cynical advice of the Ars amatoria reveals a conception of love so far removed from the seriousness of amour courtois, which both requires and confers nobility of heart and mind, that it is difficult to believe that the actual doctrine of courtly love owes much to Ovid. His influence may no doubt to be traced to some extent in the analysis, characteristic of courtly literature, of mental and emotional states, as well as in the conventional descriptions of lovers’ symptoms, but the habit of analysis and introspection, though much older than Christianity and independent of it, is in accordance with the Church’s teaching as to the duty of self-examination and with the mode of thought of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, that is to say, with scholasticism. The relation of courtoisie to certain other aspects of mediaeval life, and especially the relation, just touched upon, of the courtois and the Christian standpoints, presents a problem as difficult as it is interesting. In an appendix to his book on St. Bernard,2 M. Gilson discusses the question with particular reference to Wechssler’s Kulturproblem des Minnesangs. He admits a relation, of a somewhat general kind, between Christian thought and the doctrine of amour courtois: Tamour source de vertus, la fecondite de la souffrance, bien d’autres traits encore, attestent l’influence du christianisme sur cette maniere de sentir.’3 But the possible connection of courtly love and Christian mysticism—he is thinking specially of Cistercian mysticism—is another and distinct problem. The love of the Cistercian mystic, reaching up towards God, and that of the courtly lover, yearning after his lady, are as widely separated as are their respective objects. Saint Bernard conceives of love as a progression from the carnal to the spiritual. God alone can satisfy the craving that drives man on from one form of experience to another until at last he finds rest where alone it is to be sought, in the love of God. It is man’s sense of need which compels him to seek help 1 On the remarkable popularity of Ovid in the Middle Ages, cf. Faral Recberches . . . p. 4 and n.; Haskins The Renaissance of the Twelfth Century (Cambridge, Mass. 1927); E. K. Rand

Ovid and his influence (1926). . 2 La theologie mystique de Saint Bernard Appendix IV ‘Saint Bernard et 1 amour courtois . 3 P. 206 n.

Courtoisie in Anglo-Norman Literature

8

from God: going beyond the circle of his own personality, in which at first his love is centred, he grows to love God from necessity, because of his own helplessness. The love of God brings with it the love of our fellow-man, the one implying the other, as St. John has said, and so man’s love, originally directed towards himself (carnal love, ‘by which before all things man loves himself for his own sake’),1 becomes ‘extended for the good of others.’ Thus for Saint Bernard (since the love of his neighbour follows of necessity on a man’s love towards God) the creature is rightly an object of love, but not—and this is an essential point—for its own sake, but for the sake of the Creator, without whom true love of the creature is impossible.2 It is only in God that a man can love his neighbour worthily. ‘In order that a man may love his neighbour perfectly it is necessary that God be the cause of his love.’3 The love of his fellow-creature is thus an expression of man’s love for God, and a step on the way to that highest stage of love, hardly to be attained in this mortal life, when man not only loves God with disinterested love, ‘for His very self’, but ‘loves not even himself except for the sake of God’.4 Love such as this is its own reward: ‘Amo, quia amo; amo ut amem’.6 The courtly lover in his attitude towards his lady is also in some degree disinterested, delighting in her beauty and excellence in themselves, not merely considering them in relation to him¬ self; ‘dans les deux doctrines, [of amour courtois and Cistercian mysticism] l’amour beatifiant se porte sur l’objet beatifiant luimeme, pour lui-meme, plutot que sur la joie qu’il donne. S’il ne la donne pas, comme il arrive a l’amour courtois, l’amour persiste; s’il la donne, comme il arrive toujours en fin de compte & l’amour mystique, l’amour pur se porte encore sur lui pour lui, et non pas propter aliquid ipsius’.6 It is indeed in this disinterestedness that M. Gilson sees the most important element common to the Cistercian and the courtly conceptions of love. Such a measure of resemblance between the two lines of thought points, however, not to the influence of one upon the other, but to a common

1 De diligendo Deo VIII (Migne Patrologia Darina CLXXXII 988). 2 ‘Oportet ergo Deum diligi prius, ut in Deo diligi possit et proximus.’ (Migne P.L. CLXXXII 989)* 3 De diligendo Deo VIII, 25, quoted by Watkin Williams The Mysticism of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1931) p. 69. 4 Migne P.L. CLXXXII 990. Serm in Cant. LXXXIII (Migne P.L. CLXXXIII 1183). * Gilson op. cit. p. 205.

5

Introduction

9

source, namely Cicero and the theory of disinterested love expounded in the De Amicitia> In spite of apparent similarities, the positions of the courtly lover and the Cistercian mystic are fundamentally different. For though, in certain moods, the courtly lover may feel his lady’s beauty as a type of the eternal, he tends for the most part to rest in his love of the creature instead of being led on to adoration of the Creator. The mystic and the courtly lover alike are moved by the desire to escape the limitations of the finite, but they take different directions. The ecstasy of the mystic is defined by Wechssler as Teffort de Fame pour sortir du fini et son passage dans l’infini par la force de l’amour extatique’.2 The courtly lover is equally concerned to transcend the limits of human person¬ ality, but he seeks his solution in the love of man instead of the love of God, in cun effort de Fame pour s’absorber dans le fini par la force de l’amour humain’.3 Love, whether amour courtois or the ardour of the mystic, may be, as Gilson admits,4 the same affectus, but its quality is ultimately determined by the nature of its object, and so, between the feelings of the mystic and the courtly lover there is all the difference between love and desire. The mystic’s love is sure of being returned; it cannot be otherwise, since it is a response to a movement originating with God: ‘ipse prior dilexit nos’, and it is the consciousness that his own love is not sufficiently great that haunts the mystic, not the possibility of that love being un¬ rewarded.5 Amour courtois, on the other hand, is perpetually coloured by fear, not so much the fear of proving inadequate, unworthy of its object, as the dread of forfeiting the good opin¬ ion of the beloved. In contrast to Saint John’s caritas, which casts out fear, it dwells forever in a state of insecurity, and the courtly lover is tormented—even though the torment be sweet— by unsatisfied desire.6 It is indeed obvious that in a sense the 1 ‘L’influence de Ciceron sur la conception courtoise de 1’amour au Xlle siecle n’a pas

6t6 suffisamment prise en consideration par les historiens de la litterature fran$aise. Sa doctrine de Famine desinteressee, nee de l’amour de lavertu, fixee sur la vertu, source de valeur et de noblesse morale, qui trouve en soi sa propre recompense, n’etait certes pas inconnue des poetes de ce temps.’ Gilson op. cit. p. 20, and cf. pp. 23 and 205, and Appendix II pp. 183-9, on the combined influence of Cicero and Heloise on the formation of Abe¬ lard’s theory of disinterested love, developed in his Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans. 2 Gilson op. cit. p. 208. 3 Ibid. p. 209. 4 Ibid. p. 210. 6 Ibid. p. 202. * Ibid. pp. 203-4. With the attitude of Thibaut de Champagne, exasperated by hopeless love into wishing for his freedom, Gilson contrasts that of Saint Bernard: ‘On n’a jamais entendu Saint Bernard souhaiter d’etre debarrasse de l’amour de Dieu. Ceci n’est pas une boutade, c’est du fond des choses qu’il s’agit. . . .’ (p. 202).

IO

Courtoisie in Anglo-Norman Literature

attitude of the courtly lover is fundamentally opposed to that of the mystic, and that his devotion, in as far as it is lavished on a finite being, may even be regarded as a perversion of religious feeling. For courtly love bestows upon the creature a degree of adoration that seems to border on sacrilege. The works of Chretien de Troyes offer abundant examples of this glorification of the beloved which puts the lady on a level with the saints, if not with the Deity itself. Lancelot, having wrenched from their sockets the bars defending the Queen’s window, and fought his way into Guenevere’s chamber, bends in worship before her bed: Si Taore et si li ancline; Car an nnl cors saint ne croit tantS He treats the room as a holy place and as he takes his departure bows himself reverently once more: Au departir a soploiie A la chambre etfet tot autel Con s’ilfust dev ant un autel} So, too, Alexandre, had he known what a precious relic he held when he received the shirt with a hair of Soredamor’s woven into it, would have been lost in ceaseless adoration: ... an eschange n’an pre'ist Tot le monde, einfois an feist Saint tie ire, si con je cuit, Si I’aorast et jor et nuitd The courtois standpoint is further differentiated from that of Christianity by its attitude towards the individual. It is not simply that in the courtois ideal the importance of the individual is strongly emphasized; for Christianity, after all, stresses the importance of the individual soul. But courtoisie seems to rest upon the assumption that the individual is the supreme reality. The lover’s self-realization is more important than the glory of God, or rather, the glory of God does not come into it at all. This comparative neglect of the religious ideal is, indeed, one of the characteristic marks of the romans courtois as compared

1

Charrette 11. 4670-1. -Ibid. 11. 4734-6.

3

Cliges 11. 1193-6. Cf. also the sentiments expressed in the poem ‘D’amour et de jalousie, complainte d’amour du XIIIes.’ Rom. LIX (1933) 333-330, 11. 188-191: De vos veoir me faites aise Tant que mi oeil saoule soient De vos, que plus volentiers voient Que ne verroient Dame De.

Introduction

ii

with the chansons de geste. The religious beliefs of the heroes of the chansons de geste may sometimes find expression in obedi¬ ence to the letter rather than to the spirit of the Church’s com¬ mands, but at least the religious ideal is constantly present. It is religious fervour as much as feudal loyalty that inspires the rear¬ guard at Roncevaux, and it is hardly an exaggeration to say that a great part of the fighting in the chansons de geste is an expression of the crusading spirit. In the romans courtois, on the other hand, the heroes fight largely for their own ends, in search, not so much of material gain (certainly not personal gain) as of the approval and the love of the lady to whose service their lives are devoted and through whom they are enabled to reach their highest development. It is true that courtoisie and the Church are in agreement, although from different points of view, in condemning certain vices and insisting on certain virtues.1 Both condemn avarice and urge liberality or largesse. While the Church reckons tristitia and accidia among the seven deadly sins, the troubadours praise the vitalizing power of joy: ‘la joie et l’allegresse fortifient le cceur, nourrissent le corps, conservent l’exercice des cinq sens corporels, et aussi la raison, l’entendement et la memoire’.2 But it is a ques¬ tion whether the agreement is more than superficial, since each side considers the problems of human conduct from a different angle.3 Where the Church thinks of the glory of God, courtoisie emphasizes the development of the individual, for his own sake directly or indirectly. While, for example, the Church teaches the duty of liberality as fulfilling the law of Christian charity, the largesse of the courtois hero springs as much from the desire of self-glorification as from generosity. It becomes a point of hon¬ our to give whatever may be required of one, even if the request concerns other people’s possessions.4 In spite of this fundamental opposition, however, it is still true to speak, in connection with courtoisie, of a transposition of Christian theory: ‘elle reproduit et transpose,’ writes M. Faral of the courtly doctrine in its purest form, ‘la theorie chretienne de 1 Cf. W. G. Dodd Courtly Lore itt Chaucer and Gower (Boston and London. 1913) p. 742 So the effect of joy is described in the much later Leys d’Amor (quoted by Anichkov Joachim de Flore et les milieux courtois (Rome 1931) p. 102). 3 Cf. Gilson Theol. mystique p. 215: ‘quant a ce qui est de comparer le troubadour qui implore merci de sa dame au chretien qui demande a Dieu sa grace, c’est s’engager,dans une equivoque a peine moins grave que celle qui consiste a comparer la vertu chretienne de patience avec celle dont les troubadours etaient bien obliges de s’armer.’ « Cf. Charrette 11. 2794-2954. The ‘pucele’ asks Lancelot for the head of the vanquished knight, and he finally listens to her, his'pity being overcome by the claims of‘largesce’.

12

COURTOISIE IN ANGLO-NORMAN LITERATURE

Famour que l’on doit a Dieu: pour le poete courtois, comme pour le chretien, l’amour ne s’adresse qu’au bien; Feffet de Famour est de conduire au bien par les rudes voies de la souffrance joyeusement acceptee.’1 The preceding remark is not simply the statement in modern terms of problems of which the Middle Ages themselves were hardly conscious. On the contrary, among the questions that most exercised mediaeval thought, that of the nature and the proper direction of love, in particular of love towards God, is not the least important. To the Christian thinker, for whom God is the supreme good, the problem presents itself in the following form: ‘savoir ce qu’il faut aimer ne lui est guere difficile, mais il se demande constamment et non sans angoisse, si l’aimer est chose possible, et ce que c’est que de Faimer—la nature meme de Famour.’2 On this question, two main lines of thought, repre¬ sented by Saint Thomas and Saint Bernard respectively, pursue two more or less rival conceptions of love. The first of these, ‘l’amour physique,’ may be described as Greco-thomist, since it is based to some extent on Aristotle, and expounded by Saint Thomas; it is founded on the instinctive tendency of the creature to seek its own good, ‘la necessaire propension qu’ont les etres de la nature a rechercher leur propre bien’.3 The other conception of love, which finds perhaps its highest expression in the writings of Saint Bernard and the Cistercian mystics, involves the absorp¬ tion of the lover in the object of his love, ‘la destruction du sujet qui aime, par son absorption dans l’objet aime’.4 It is true that the eslf-surrender implied in this type of love—‘amour extatique’, as Rousselot and Gilson call it—appears at first sight to be in direct contradiction to the more or less self-seeking element in ‘amour physique’. Actually, as M. Gilson has shown, the opposition between the two conceptions is more apparent than real.5 In a 1 Bedier et Hazard, Hist, de la litt.fr. I 46. 2 Gilson: Hesprit de la philosophic medievale II; E’ amour et son objet, p. 74. Cf. also P. Rousselot: Pour I’histoire du probl'eme de 1’amour au moyen age (C. Baeumker: Beitrage zur Geschichte der Philosophic des Mittelalters. Bd. 6. Munster 1909). 3 Rousselot op. cit. p. 3, quoted by Gilson op. cit. p. 86. 1 Rousselot op. cit. p. 4. 3 The argument turns on the fact that man is an image of God—et haec hominis est per¬ fects, similitudo Dei (Guillaume de Saint-Thierry: Epist. ad fratres de Monte Dei, II, iii, 16; Patr. lat. CLXXXIV 348, quoted by Gilson); ‘si l’homme est une image de Dieu, plus il se rendra semblable a Dieu, plus il accomplira sa propre essence’.. . . ‘Aimer Dieu d’un amour desinteresse [as God loves himself, p. 75] est pour l’homme la vraie maniere de s’aimer soi-mfime’ . . . ‘Image, moins l’homme ressemble, moins il est; plus il ressemble, plus il est lui-meme: etre consiste done pour lui a se distinguer le moins possible, s’aimer a s’oublier le plus possible’. Gilson op. cit. p. 85.

Introduction

13

sense, courtly love affords an example of a reconciliation between them. For while on the one hand the idea of the ennobling effect of love, by which a man may seek and attain his highest good, is in harmony with the idea of ‘amour physique’, the ‘extatique’ element is also present in courtly love. The true courtly lover lives and moves in his beloved; his whole being is absorbed in hers, and the significance of anything connected with her, even to a stray hair of her head, is such as to make the lover oblivious of everything else.1 Suffering itself is welcome, provided that it comes from the beloved, or is endured for her sake, offering a means of closer union with her. The courtly lover rejoices in his pains as does the Christian mystic, and hardly less fervently.2 It is not surprising that courtly literature (which, in contrast to the chansons de geste, expresses an ideal of life based on the relation of the sexes and on the importance of the individual) should set up a new ideal for both men and women, or should at least present them from a different point of view. Whereas the chanson de geste hero is chiefly renowned for his physical strength (with which beauty is taken as practically synonymous) and for his loyalty to the group to which he belongs, the courtly hero has other excellences. He is bound to show prowess; it is indeed the standard by which his worth is primarily to be judged (for the ‘valiant’ man is the man who is admittedly worth some¬ thing), but bravery is not the only qualification required. The knights of the romances are possessed of beauty apart from strength, nor is their education wholly confined to instruction in the bearing of arms and in knightly exercises. From this point of view the debates on the theme of clerk versus knight, as to which is the more desirable lover, are of considerable interest; though the arguments are not of a high order, at least the debates show a 1 Cf. the emotion of Lancelot when he finds the comb with some of the Queen’s hair in it; hearing whose hair it is . . . n’ot tant de vertu Que tot nel covenist plotter: Par force Vestut apoiier Devant a Par [on de la sele. (Charrette, 11. 1436-9). 2 ‘La religion d’amour a eu, elle aussi, ses mystiques, appelant sur eux-mtoes la souffrance, defiant leur idole de les frapper assez rudement pour les decourager.’ Jeanrov Poesie lyrique II 98, and note: ‘On trouvera ces idees exprimees avec une nettete particuliere chez les lyriques du Nord, qui, a cet egard, ont rencheri sur leurs modeles.’ Cf. Jeanrov De nostratibus medii aevipoelis qui primum lyrica Aquiianiae carmina imitati sint (1889) p. 29 and note.

14

Courtoisie in Anglo-Norman Literature

recognition of an alternative to the ideal of physical prowess, and an admission that the scholar may be as good a lover as the soldier; it is in fact in favour of the scholar that the question is commonly resolved. In the case of the women the change is hardly less marked. It is true that already in the chansons de geste the women have more learning1 than the men, but the most typically courtly romances show a considerable softening of their activities and behaviour. Many courtly heroines would no doubt be capable of the vigorous action so common among their sisters of the chan¬ sons de geste, but as an ideal mode of life, as envisaged by the ladies of the romans courtois, the programme drawn up for herself by Fresne, in Galeran, is probably typical: ‘Mon cuer, Madame,’ she tells the abbess who has brought her up, ... si m’aprent Que je ne face aultrs me stier Le jour fors lire mon saultier Et faire euvre d’or ou de soie, Ojr de Thebes ou de Troje, Et en ma herpe lays noter, Et aux esche^ autruy mater, Ou mon oisel sur mon poign pestre: Souvent ouy dire a mon maistre Que tel us vient de gentillessedIt is in their attitude towards the other sex that the change from the women of the chansons de geste to those of the romans courtois is most apparent: instead of what Gautier called the ‘agressivite’ of the epic heroines, who, ‘candidement impudiques’, follow their instincts and demand the love of any knight who inflames their passions, the courtly ladies wait to be wooed, modesty combining with the fear that their love may be refused to make them hesitate about declaring their feelings.3 The changed relation of the sexes, as it appears in the romans courtois, affords a clear expression of that individualism already shown to be one of the distinctive marks of courtly literature and of the courtois hero, and which is apparent more than anywhere else in the treatment of love. For the troubadours, and for 1 Cf. H. Jacobius ‘Die Erziehung des Edelfrauleins im alten Frankreich’ Zeitschrift fur romanische Philologie, Beiheft 16 (1908). Galeran de Bretagne, ed. Foulet (C.F.M.A.) 1925 11. 3878-87. 8 Cf. as one example among many, Soredamor’s sense of the impossibility of asking Alexandre for his love without utterly disgracing herself. Cliges, 11. 997-1001.

Introduction

15

Chretien de Troyes, at least in the Roman de la Charrette, love is oblivious of all but itself, and the lovers feel no sense of respon¬ sibility to anyone else. M. Faral has hown1 that the definition of courtly love as almost necessarily unlawful does not always hold good,2 but certainly for courtoisie in its purest form, love is an end in itself, and quite independent of marriage, with the obligations which that entails. Indeed, it is one of the chief doctrines of Andre le Chapelain that love and marriage are mutually exclusive. One reason for this is that love should be given freely and not as a duty.3 The other reason is that love cannot thrive without jealousy, and jealousy, according to Andre, cannot exist between married persons, since they have security of possession.4 It may be that such a doctrine is to some extent a reflection of contemporary life and based on the fact that in feudal marriages love was not necessarily the chief consideration.5 M. Jeanroy, however, has shown the difficulty, if not the impossibility, of gauging with any degree of accuracy the extent of the reciprocal influence of life and literature, and in any case the courtly position seems to depend on other than historical considerations. The essence of courtly love is that it should be free from external constraint, and to this ideal of freedom marriage is repugnant. For not only does marriage involve an appeal to society to sanc¬ tion a bond which is primarily the concern of the individuals, but it kills the spontaneity of love, turning into a moral and legal obligation what should be a free gift—as Heloise pointed out when she was urging Abelard not to marry her.6 According to the courtois ideal, the relation of the lover and his lady belongs merely to the category of love relations, ‘rela¬ tions of people whose highest and sole desire is to please one another’.7 It is here that the contrast between the ideals of love in the romans courtois and the chansons de geste is perhaps most striking. In the chansons de geste, love not only leads to marriage as a matter of course (though marriage does not always pre1 Cf. Bedier et Hazard Hist, de la litt.fr. I 45. 2 It is a definition often given and among other people by Gaston Paris, cf. Rom. XII (1S83) 518. De Amore p. 153. Ibid. p. 154; cf. also the ninth of the judgments of love; it is one given by Ermengarde de Narbonne on the question of which is the greater, married or unmarried love, to which she answers that they are not comparable. Ibid. pp. 280-1. 6 Cf. Lavisse Histoire de France II 11 22. Historiccalamitatum quoted by H. O. Taylor Medieval Minded. 4 II xxvi 34. Vernon Lee Medieval Love (Euphorion p. 373).

3 1

6 7

i6

Courtoisie in Anglo-Norman Literature

suppose love), but man and woman are more important as husband and wife than as lovers. Family feeling is strong, and it is as the companion of her husband (though generally speaking in an inferior position) working together with him in the interests of the family and of a feudal overlord, that the woman of t he chansons de geste reaches her highest development. The relation of courtly lovers, on the other hand, is an ideal one, far removed from domestic responsibilities, since marriage either does not enter into it or else is kept in the background and represented from the point of view of the individuals whose life it crowns, with little or no thought of their possible descendants and of the social significance of marriage. As will be seen, it is in their attitude to marriage that Anglo-Norman writers, even when they are clearly familiar with the courtois tradition, show that awareness of practical realities which prevents their outlook from being fundamentally courtois.

I

Chapter

II

Historical Background of Anglo-Norman Literature

account for the character of Anglo-Norman literature, it' is necessary to bear in mind the relations of mediaeval England with the rest of Europe (especially as regards learning and literature) and to see what were the circumstances likely to favour or to hinder the influence of courtoisie on Anglo-Norman writers. It would be more accurate, perhaps, until the time of the Conquest, ro oppose, not England and the rest of Europe, but simply England and Europe. It is true that pre-Conquest Eng¬ land had not been entirely cut off from France and southern Europe, for the Normans had had a firm foothold in the country from the time of Edward the Confessor,1 whose father Ethelred had married Emma, sister of Duke Richard the Good. On the whole, however, England remained detached, and the signifi¬ cance of the year 1066 lies largely, or partly, in the fact that her isolation, though it might subsequently become splendid, could never again be of the same kind as before. Through the Conquest, England was introduced ‘into the family of European nations’,2 and became ‘an integral part of western civilization, receiving and responding to every great movement that radiated through France over all the west’.3 Just as William’s army contained many elements other than Norman, so it was not merely with Normandy that England was brought into relation at the time of the Conquest, but with France as a whole, and with the rest of Christendom. ‘The union with Normandy turned England southward and brought it at once into the full current of European affairs—political entanglements, ecclesiastical con¬ nections, cultural influences. England became a part of France and thus entered fully into the life of the world to which France belonged’.4 There was, henceforth, constant intercourse between England To

1 Cf. Petit-DutaiUis La Monarchie feodale en Franceet en Angleterre^^-XIIF sikle (1933) p. 60. 2 Stubbs: Introduction to Roger of Hoveden’s Chronicle, Rolls Series (1868) p. lxxiii. 3 Tout: France and England: their relations in the Middle Ages and now (Manchester 1922) p. 53* Haskins The Normans in European Hisfoty (1916) p 82. C

17

i8

Courtoisie in Anglo-Norman Literature

and the Continent,1 especially on the part of clergy and scholars. In the period immediately following the Conquest, Lanfranc brought with him, or encouraged the arrival of many foreign clergy;2 he was later to be followed by his pupil. Saint Anselm, also Italian by birth and Norman by adoption, and who, like many of the ecclesiastics who came to England, had been at Bee. In the twelfth century, English scholars are continually crossing the Channel; men such as Adelard of Bath, ‘the greatest name in English science before Robert Grosseteste and Roger Bacon’,3 Peter of Blois, the friend both of William of Sicily and of Henry II (and who, though not himself an Englishman, is important in English history)4 and John of Salisbury,5 who studied in France for twelve years, and became Bishop of Chartres, a town which had a considerable English colony.6 In the thirteenth century, the influx of foreigners into England is so great as to cause an awak¬ ening of national consciousness and a corresponding outburst of anti-foreign feeling. For up till that time, people in England, and in Christendom as a whole, are less conscious of national than of social distinctions, and there is probably as much solidarity be¬ tween members of the same class of society, irrespective of their nationality, as between people of the same country but belonging ■ o different social levels.7 Such a feeling is particularly natural in the case of scholars, united as they are by the additional bond of the Latin language, that ‘Esperanto ready made and natural in growth’, possessed by the Middle Ages.8 It is not only ecclesiastics who come and go between England and the Continent. The king and the members of his household are constantly travelling backwards and forwards; from the itinerary of Henry II, it appears that he spent more than half his reign abroad,9 while Richard Coeur de Lion hardly did more than 1 Cf. Stubbs Learning and literature at the court of Henry II {Seventeen Lectures on the Study of Medieval and Modern History ed. 3 (Oxford 1900) pp. 142 ff). 2 J. Calmette: Le mondefeodal (1934) p. 354. 3 Haskins ‘Adelard of Bath’ English Historical Review XXVI (1911). 4 Haskins Henry II as a Patron of Literature in Essays in Mediceval History presented to T. F. Tout (ed. A. G. Little and F. M. Powicke (Manchester 1925). ) p. 75; cf. also M. M. Davy Un traite del’ amour du xiie silcle. Pierre de Blois: De Amicitia Christiana, etc. ed. with a transla¬ tion (1932.) 6 R. Lane Poole ‘The Masters of the Schools at Paris and Chartres in John of Salisbury’s time.’ E.H.R. XXXV (1920) 321-2, and cf. Haskins and Lockwood ‘The Sicilian Trans¬ lators of tne Twelfth Century ’ Harvard Studies in Classical Philology XXI 97. 6 On English connections with Chartres, and on John of Salisbury and Pierre de Blois, cf. A. Clerval Les ecoles de Chartres au moyen age (1895). 7 Cf. Tout op. cit. pp. 31-2. 8 A. F. Pollard Factors in Modern History ed. 3 (1932) p. 18. D. M. Stenton {Cambridge Mediceval History V 534).

8

Historical Background

12

pay occasional visits to England. So that, whether it is a case of foreigners coming to England or of Englishmen going abroad and on their return introducing their fellow-countrymen to the ideas of other nations, it is clear that English intellectual life is closely linked up with that of the Continent. Moreover, the literary interests of Henry II’s predecessors, as well as his own, would seem to have been fairly wide. If Geoffrey of Monmouth’s well-known description of the court of King Arthur is based on that of Henry I as it actually existed, condi¬ tions at that time cannot have been wholly unfavourable to the cultivation of the arts.1 Anyhow, Matilda, Henry Fs queen, is said by William of Malmesbury to have had a fondness for listening to the performance of foreign minstrels,2 and there are records of the literary interests of other royal ladies, the greatest of th m being Eleanor of Aquitaine. Not much is heard of her in this connection during her time in England, but it is unlikely that she should have left behind her in France her interest in poetry, and we may assume with Bishop Stubbs that during her imprison¬ ment ‘she had something else to amuse herself with besides needlework’.3 From the description of the court by which, in later life, she was surrounded in Aquitaine, where she was. superintending the government of her son Richard, it would appear that literature was an interest to her throughout her life.4 Richard had himself a certain facility in the writing of verse, besides being a patron of the troubadours,5 among others of Bertran de Born, whose disastrous friendship with the sons of Henry II gave him a place in the Inferno. Though, as Professor Haskins has shown,6 the questions of Henry II’s share in the intellectual life of his realm, and of the relative importance of the curia as compared with local centres of culture require further investigation, it seems clear that the court 1 ‘For at that time was Britain exalted unto so high a pitch of dignity as that it did. surpass all other kingdoms in plenty of riches, in luxury of adornment, and in the courteous wit of them that dwelt therein.’ Historia Regum Britonum, tr. S. Evans, IX xiii. Cf. Gaston Paris (Rom. XII 5 20) and Schofield English "Literature from the Norman Conquest to Chaucer p. 170; also the account of Henry I’s court given by Walter Map: ‘Hence this king’s court was a school of virtue and wisdom all the morning, of courtesy and decorous mirth all the afternoon.’ De Nugis Curialium, tr. Tupper and Ogle (1924) p. 274. Cf. Gaimar: Estorie des Engleis (Rolls Series) 11. 6502-5. 2 Gesta Regum Anglorum (Rolls Series) v para. 418. Cf. Chaytor Troubadours and England! P- 343 Stubbs Seventeen Lectures p. 139. 4 Cf. A. Richard Histoire des Comtes de Poitou, 778-1204 2 vols. (1903). 3 Chaytor op. cit. p. 5 8. 9 Essays in medieval history presented to T. F. Tout (1925) p. 72.

20

Courtoisie in Anglo-Norman Literature

of Henry II was ‘an important centre of international relations both intellectual and political’. Peter of Blois, in a letter to the Archbishop of Palermo, compares his scholarship with that of the King of Sicily: ‘Your king is a good scholar,’ he writes, ‘but ours is far better. . . . with the King of England there is school every day, constant conversation of the best scholars and discussion of questions’.1 No doubt Henry’s interests inclined him rather towards legal and historical works, but he seems to have had a taste for less serious literature as well, and also for music. ‘With no polite accomplishment was he unacquainted,’ writes Walter Map; ‘he had skill of letters as far as was fitting or practically u efiil, and had a knowledge of all the tongues used from the French sea to the Jordan, but spoke only Latin and French’.2 Professor Haskins notes the mention of ‘Maurice jabulator’ in the Pipe Roll for 1166, and of ‘Henry cytbarista each year after 1176, while an argument in favour of his interest in troubadours, or at least in Bernard de Ventadour, is supplied by a song of Bernard’s, from which it appears that he visited Eng¬ land in the king’s train.3 The works so far known to be dedicated to Henry are mainly historical, but probably include the lais of Marie de France. Apart from the royal family, several nobles, notably Robert of Gloucester,4 who was partly responsible for the education of Henry II, appear as patrons of literature in the twelfth century. Gaimar records his indebtedness to Dame Custance, wife of Ralph fitzGilbert, who founded the Cistercian abbey of Kirkstead in Lincolnshire; his lady borrowed for him from Walter Espec, the founder of Rievaulx, a translation (from the Welsh) of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain.5 There was thus a considerable interest in secular literature in royal and noble households, and it would not be surprising if the courtois spirit had found expression in Anglo-Norman literature to the same extent to which it is represented in the literature of northern France. The somewhat modified form in which it actually appears is probably to be explained on several grounds. It is likely, in the first place, that the interest in literature on the part of kings and nobles was superficial. Walter Map hints that 1 Stubbs Seventeen Lectures p. 137. 2 De Nugis Curialium tr. M. R. James

(1923)

3 Chaytor. cit. II 373.

4 5

1831) p. 48; Radet Alexandre le Grand (1931)

74

Courtoisie in Anglo-Norman Literature

be a fundamental difference between the largesse of the courtly hero, who is conscious of, if not actually aiming at, the popularity which his gesture will bring him, and that of the epic or feudal hero, whose generosity is, as it were, more objective, not spring¬ ing from the desire of approval, but based on the recognition of his followers’ deserts. There is perhaps a hint of the former attitude in the account of Alexander’s largesse on the occasion of his being knighted: gifts were freely bestowed: N’i out nul Men volsist Men donast yolentiers. Par ceo se fist amer e loer tut premers Kar em poet los conquerre par doner ses deners Surketut se li hom est larges vianders.1

,

,

But ‘vianders’ is a word commonly used to describe the feudal lords of the chansons de geste, and Alexander’s standpoint is more akin to that of the epic than to that of the courtly hero. After the defeat of Darius, the distribution of the spoil is men¬ tioned as part of the business naturally following on victory; it is not a mark of particular generosity and does not expect or call for special praise:

,

D(?)es princes e les barons jet Alisandre enterrer E partir Vavoir e largement doner E ceus Mil ad pris jet il enprisoner\ Ea mere au rei Darie, e sa femme au vis cler, E ses deus filles Jet ouoec lui mener\ Nuit e jur en sa curt servir les jet e honurer.2

,

The last lines, describing his treatment of the Persian captives, raise the question of Alexander’s attitude towards women. As represented by his biographers,3 it would appear to have been in actual fact the reverse of courtois. He may have had that desire to escape from ordinary life which later characterizes the courtly lover, but when he fled from reality it was not by the way of romantic love but by making himself almost a god. It seems that his mother was the only woman for whom he cared, and that policy rather than love was the basis of his marriages.4

1

Cf. Meyer op. cit. I 218. MS. B.N. 11. 581-4. 2 F. 12 a.

i Cf. W. W. Tarn: Cambridge Ancient History (tr. G. C. Richards 1932) pp. 54, 105. * Ibid.

VI

424; U. Wilcken Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great

75

There is nothing to suggest that his treatment of Darius’ family was prompted by anything warmer than the chivalrous feeling towards captive women which is common among the heroes of the chansons de geste (though certainly in the chansons de geste such feeling not seldom turns to love and the Christian warriors end by marrying the Saracen girls whom they have captured.) If Alexander’s remark, recorded by Plutarch, that the Persian captives were ‘painful to the eyes’, is to be interpreted as meaning that he regarded women as a possible danger to that dominion over himself which he valued so highly, then he went beyond mere indifference, and took the view of love to which courtoisie was to be diametrically opposed—that it was a demoralizing influence. This is the view supported by Eustace de Kent in the Roman, as he relates the story of Alexander’s love for Candace. The rubric at the beginning: ‘De coe ke amant est avoegle en sei’,1 illustrates his attitude. Love is all-powerful—an idea familiar enough to courtoisie, but it is not the effects of amour courtois that are here described; Alexander’s love is of the kind that deprives a man of will and reason: Mervaille en est d’amur; nuls ne garde reison, Me sure, ne honur quant vient a la sei son. N’i ad si sage al mond, s'ele le tient en son la$on. Quel talent Mil ait, nel face estre hr icon.2 The relations of Candace and Alexander become progressively less courtois. At the beginning, the initiative comes from him, since it is he that opens the correspondence between them;3 already she responds eagerly, however, for after his first letter she sends him rich presents and messages of friendship, and when he writes again, declaring his love, replies with an offer of mar¬ riage: ‘ . .Sire reis dreiturier, Nule rien ne coveit tant en mon desirer Com tvs prendre a seignor e tvs moi a moiller. Sor tus.^ hommes n>s aim, et par amur requier Ke par aveir pusse I’amiste de tvs aver.’4 For love is not to be its own reward; she holds out before him, as an inducement to marry her, gifts of gold and precious stones, Ethiopian soldiers, a menagerie of animals to include six hundred IF. 36 a.

2 F. 36 a i.

3 F. 30 b i.

*F. 30 b ii.

7^

Courtoisie in Anglo-Norman Literature

rhinoceroses and two hundred unicorns, and finally, the whole of her kingdom, but all these things he refuses.1 So far they have not met, but Alexander wins the gratitude of her son Candeule, whose wife he rescues, and whom he per¬ suades to take him, disguised as Antigonus, to visit his mother. She recognizes him, and reproaches him with his refusal of her offer of marriage, which now, less confidently than before, she makes a second time: ‘SacieAlisandre, de quer ws desireie, E verraie atnie e drue ws serreie. Si joe dame del mond par ivs estre poeie, Mut par fusse lee si Pespeir en avoie. Quant ke ai al mond en vostre honur mettroieA To this Alexander gives no reply, his chief concern being how to get away as soon as possible, for Candace’s other son, married to Porus’ daughter, is threatening to avenge Porus’ death upon him. Candace, however, keeping his secret, protects him from her son and, for as long as she can persuade him to remain at her court, treats him as her lover,3 and honours him with gifts at his departure. On the whole, then, Candace is represented, like so many of the ladies of the chansons de geste, as trying to force her love upon someone who offers either passive or active resistance, and when she manages to keep Alexander, at considerable risk to himself, dallying at her court, her triumphant remarks furnish Eustace with the text of a discourse on the wiles of women which is entirely uncourtois in its tone and which might, as Meyer pointed out, be taken as evidence of Eustace’s clerical status, were it not for his own remarks, which seem to point to a different conclusion.4 When first Candace sees through Alexander’s disguise, she cannot refrain from exulting over him, in a passage which seems to be Eustace’s own: ‘Ore ws tienc en prison e de ws frai com del men; N’aie-Q foe dist, ‘vergonde, sire reis souereins, Si par aventure estes cheet en mes meins. N’estes le plus vaillanpremers ne dereins, Ke femme ad enginne, de foe soie% certeinsA 1 F. 36 b ii.

2 F. 37 b ii.

* F. 38 a i.

‘ See above, p. 72.

“ F. 37 a i.

Alexander the Great

77

Both Adam and Samson, as she tells him, were deceived by women, and it is no disgrace to Alexander that he should have been caught in the same toils: ‘Encore est li mond de lur engin tut pleins\ Si deceu n>s ai, de foe nen vale^ meins? Eustace enlarges on the subject of women, taking the noncourtois view of them as the undoing of man, creatures endlessly cunning in the pursuit of their desires: De quai poet Pen a femme fere compareison? Plus est simple, quant veut, ke aignel ou colom, Plus cointe ke serpent, ardant come dragon, IZe^pie come gopil, cruele come leon, Pleine d’engin come diables, e mut a quor felon? It is not altogether woman’s fault, for she has a bad inheritance: fa nul nen deitparler s’ele fet tra'ison Ou deceit son vassal ou meine ? son baron, Cbivaler ou vallet, damaisel ou clergon. De nature lur vient, de Eve ? ont le don, Por ki Adam perdi tute sa discrecion, Le delit e la foie, la Deu promission, Ke ja ne fust perdue, ne fust le soen sermon', Humanite en out enfernal mansion.2 Against Eve must be set the Virgin, in whom after all, woman was the instrument of our salvation: Ales par femme eumes, merci Deu, rancun, Quant de la seinte Virgne prist incarnaciun. Si out humanite d'enfern salvaciun. Eve, however, is clearly uppermost in Eustace’s mind: Nequedent ki en femme met sa entenciun, Sovent deit en son quer estre en suspeciun? and he adds to the list of those beguiled by women’s wiles the usual examples of ‘Joseph li beaus’, David and Absalom. The Candace episode is not, however, altogether lacking in courtly elements. Candace’s relation to Alexander is in the epic rather than the courtly tradition, and Eustace’s treatment of love 1 F. 36 a i.

2 ibid.

3 F. 36 a ii.

78

Courtoisie in Anglo-Norman Literature

and women is of the anti-feminist type. But while Alexander’s character has an epic rather than a romantic colouring, he is shown for one moment at least as the conventional lover. He has fallen in love with Candace merely on hearsay,1 and though this is not necessarily a courtois trait,2 the account of his second letter to her contains an unmistakable suggestion of the courtly lover, who will die of love unless his lady has pity on him: Mande a la dame com s’amur l'enlace. Si plus tost nel socurt, de vivere n’ad espaced This is courtly phraseology; and further, his love, or at least his curiosity, are strong enough to bring him to her court at the risk of being discovered and killed as the slayer of Porus. Candace, too, though her behaviour is not that of a courtly lady, is described in a way that suggests the courtly ideal: N’out si riche reine en tut le mond d’aveir, De heaute, de curteisie, d’onur e de saveird The description of her personal appearance as Alexander finds her on his arrival is of the slightest: Mut fut gente de cors, hele out la jagond The detailed account of her clothing, however, is more in the style of the romans courtois: En son chef out un cercle d’or al ouere frison, D’ un samit esteit covert son hermin peligon, Un mantel enveise d’un vert cyclatond Especially there is a romantic if not a courtly tone in the descrip¬ tion of her listening on this same occasion to a song about the loves of Dido and Eneas: E se fist vieller e harper un nouel son, Coment dan^ Eneas ama dame Didon, E coment s’ en ala par mer od son dromon, Com ele s’'em pleint sus as estres en som, E com au derain se arst en sa meison. Pensive en est Candace del soen de la changon,7

1 Ne fut plus bele femme de cors tie de face-, Sul de sa retiomee trova vers lui tel grace Ke taut la paraime k’il tie set ke face. (F. 30 b i). 2 See above, pp. 37. 3 F. 30 b i. 4 F. 30 b i. F. 36 a ii. 4 Ibid. 7 F. 36 a ii.

6

Alexander the Great

79

almost as though Eustace de Kent saw in Candace, and her vain attempt to keep Alexander’s love, a kind of prototype of the history of Dido, with which the Eneas, if not Virgil, must have made him familiar. It is thus only incidentally that the courtois point of view is expressed in the Roman de toute chevalerie, but it does appear now and then, and the poem is, moreover, important as the earliest form in which the romance of Alexander was introduced into England, besides offering an example of the mediaeval attitude towards classical history and literature described by Pauphilet in connection with the Eneas: ‘Refaire un ouvrage ancien selon l’impression qu’on en a ressentie; composer de traits qui plaisent a l’imagination une figure ideale de l’antiquite, et a la faveur de ces imitations et conventions exprimer sa propre conception de l’homme; refleter sa propre image dans le miroir antique, cela definit presque, deja, l’usage que les lettres fran^aises, par la suite, ne cesseront de faire de l’anti quite.’1 1 Rom. LV (1929) 213.

Chapter

VI

The Romances of Hue de Rotelande ; Am ad as et Ydoine I.

Ipomedon and Protheselaus

The roman d’aventure, as distinct from stories with some faintly historical colouring, is represented in Anglo-Norman literature by the two romances of Hue de Rotelande and the romance of Amadas et Ydoine. All three are concerned with love and adventure, but the two elements are variously combined. In Hue de Rotelande’s work, adventure has a very important if not the chief place, while in Amadas, particularly in the early part, which is all that remains of the Anglo-Norman version, the love interest predominates. All three romances, especially the last, are to some extent courtois in tone, though in all of them courtoisie is modified in a greater or less degree by a spirit of realism. More is known about Hue de Rotelande than about many authors of mediaeval romances. He lived, so he states in Ipomedonp at Credehulle (i.e. Credenhill, near Hereford)2 and his patron was Gilbert Fitz-Baderon, at whose command he wrote his second romance, Protheselaus.3 Since Gilbert Fitz-Baderon was no longer alive in 1190-1191, Protheselaus, which concludes with a pane¬ gyric on him,4 must have been written before that date, while Ipomedon, which precedes it, contains a reference to the siege of Rouen in 1174, so that Hue’s work necessarily falls between those two dates. His statements about his Latin sources5 are probably not to be taken seriously. The question of his indebtedness to contempor¬ ary works6 is, however, of considerable interest, especially from the point of view of a study of the influence of courtoisie. For though his use of classical names for his characters seems some¬ what indiscriminate and the fact that the scene is laid in Apulia and Calabria—‘which might as well have been Illyria or Bohe¬ mia’7—has no special significance, his work shows the influence 1 Ed. Kolbing and Koschwitz. 2 Ward Catalogue of Romances in the Department of MSS. in the British Museum (3 vols. 1883-1910) I 728 ff.; Ipom. ed. Kolbing, intr. * Ed. F. Kluckow, (1924). 4 11. 12698 ff. 6 Protheselaus 11. 12707 ff. 6 Protheselaus, ed. Kluckow, intr., pp. 19 ff. ' W. P. Ker in C.H.E.L. I 286.

80

The Romances* of

Hue de

Rotelande

8i

of the romans antiques, and notably of the Eneas, especially in the descriptions of love-symptoms. It is also clear that Hue was familiar with the Tristan story, particularly in the version of Thomas. In the case of Tristan he is dealing with a curious mix¬ ture of elements, and his borrowing has the heterogeneous character of the original, being sometimes concerned with the more primitive elements in the story, sometimes with the more or less courtly transformation of those elements effected by Thomas. Ipomedon has been described, rather too favourably, perhaps, as ‘an excellent specimen of what may be called the secondary order of romance as cultivated by the best practitioners’.1 Ipomedon, the son of Hermogenes, king of Apulia, while still a boy at his father’s court, hears of the beauty and charm of the young duchess of Calabria, known for her haughty disposition as La Fiere, and decides to go and offer her his services. He remains at her court, concealing his identity, for three years, at the end of which time he and La Fiere both suddenly become aware of the love that has been growing up between them. But she has sworn to marry none but the bravest knight in Christendom, and Ipomedon has apparently no interest in deeds of prowess, choos¬ ing rather to spend his time in hunting. Accordingly La Fiere, afraid to let herself love him, dismisses him while there is still time. Ipomedon soon has the opportunity of proving that his supposed lack of physical courage is only apparent. La Fiere’s barons insist that she shall marry, and it is finally agreed, thanks to her uncle Meleager, king of Sicily, that a three days’ tourna¬ ment shall be held, of which the victor shall take her as his wife. Ipomedon, wearing each day a different suit of armour, wins the tournament, but goes away without claiming La Fiere, who is left disconsolate, only learning after his departure who the victor was. After some long time he again appears, and rescues her from a strange knight, Leonin, who is besieging her city and threatening to carry her off, but once more he does not claim her. Instead he gives himself out as the knight whom he has defeated, so that La Fiere prepares to flee, and only at the last minute is it discovered who he is. The story ends happily with the marriage of Ipomedon and La Fiere. Like most Anglo-Norman works that are in any degree courtois, jIpomedon shows a mixture of the courtly and the non1 W. P. Ker in C.H.E.L. I 285.

G

82

Courtoisie in Anglo-Norman Literature

courtly. It is primarily a love-story, in that love, at any rate to begin with, is the chief interest in the hero’s life; it is for the sake of it that he embarks on adventures for which, in the early part of the story, he seems to have little natural inclination, in order to prove to La Fiere that he is the bravest of knights and therefore worthy of her. A further courtly characteristic (or at least romantic as opposed to epic) is the emphasis in the poem on the individual: Hue is concerned with Ipomedon as an indivi¬ dual and not as a member of a family or other group. The relation of Ipomedon and his brother Capaneus, whose existence is revealed to him by their mother as she is dying, has a certain importance in the story, but otherwise family feeling is in abey¬ ance. Ipomedon’s grief at his mother’s illness and death is only briefly described, and when he returns home after his father’s death he soon leaves again to seek for further adventures, un¬ troubled by a sense of his obligations towards the people of Apulia. While the courtly element is thus very important, at the same time the story shows various non-courtly traits. In the first place, the relations of the sexes other than those of Ipomedon and La Fiere are treated far more in the style of the chansons de geste than of the romans courtois. The behaviour of La Fiere’s damsel Ismeine, who offers her love to Ipomedon and begs him to marry her, is typical of many of the heroines of the chansons de geste.1 Ismeine has gone to the court of La Fiere’s uncle Meleager to ask for a champion to defend her mistress against the attack of Leonin, but the only one she can bring back is (apparently) a fool, in reality Ipomedon, who with his mania for concealment has assumed this disguise. She begins by feeling an intense scorn for such a poor defender, but on their journey to Calabria he delivers her from three knights—cousins of Leonin—and her love thereupon becoming as fierce as had previously been her scorn,2 she ends by offering herself as his wife, and regardless of the plight of La Fiere, waiting meanwhile for the arrival of her defender, suggests that he should go straight back with her to her father, the Duke of Burgundy. While Ismeine is in some respects typical of the violent and 1 Cf. note to p. 45. - As Hue rather bitterly remarks: Celui, ke femme plus harra, Quant sun quer li rechangera, Pus ert cil de li ame% plus.

(11. 8655-7).

The Romances of Hue de Rotelande

8*

impulsive heroines of the chansons de geste, the brutality towards, women characteristic of some of the epic heroes is found in Leonin and his relatives. Leonin is described as ‘un orgeillus’1 who, without regard for the possible feelings of La Fiere, has simply announced his intention of marrying her.2 Even the relations between Ipomedon and La Fiere go through various stages. In the beginning she dismisses him, thinking he is not good enough for her, but he has hardly left her presence before she repents of her pride, and in the course of a sleepless night decides, with that practical sense characteristic of so much Anglo-Norman literature, to make her feelings plain to him as soon as possible:



‘Meu% vaut un “tient qe deus “avra^’,’ she reflects, ‘Si ja mes le pu\ ver de l’oil, Ne mostrerei pas tel orgoil. Com bier seir fis, ain^ferai tant Q’il verra bien a mon semblant E as regars, ke jeo ferai, Qe mult voluntiers Pamerai!’3 Though at first the love is stronger on his side than on hers, it is not long before they are shown on a footing of equality. For instance, the description of La Fiere’s sleepless night has a pendant in that of Ipomedon’s insomnia. During his absence, each of them remains faithful to the other, and when at last they meet, it is not as lady and vassal but as a pair of lovers, each as tongue-tied as the other:

,

Ea Fiere est el chastel venue Ipomedon tost la salue Od voi tremblante, il ne pot mes. Sis quers volette e li faut pres, Ear c’est la custume entre aman Ki sunt esluigne plusurs an Quant une fei venent ensemble, Eur quer tressaut,fremit e tremble, E lur pensers venent e vunt, A. grant peine sevent, kill funt. Ea Fiere esteit si esba'ie, K’a un sul mot ne respundie,

^

^

11.7674.

^

i

11.7685-90.

a 11.1092-8.

84

Courtoisie in Anglo-Norman Literature

Ain^ I’esgarda pitusement\ Mut s’entrebesent dulcement; Fur quer al beser perdu ourent, Grant pece apres parler ne pourent> After their marriage they are described as ‘amanz’, and they live happily, if not for ever after, at least ‘par plusurs ans’, for there is no trace of the courtly separation of love and marriage: on the contrary, love implies marriage. It is of a piece with Hue’s sense of the realities of life that though he is writing in some sense a love-story he does not idealize women. Indeed, he makes frequent thrusts at them, some¬ times uttering his criticisms through the mouths of his female characters themselves. They are the criticisms commonly levelled against women by mediaeval misogynists. Women are creatures of impulse, swayed by instinct rather than reason.2 Their likings are determined largely by a spirit of contradiction which makes the unattainable appear supremely desirable, while what might be had for the asking is rejected with scorn; as La Fiere herself says: 'Femme n’ert ja mes del tut sage, Nus tutes avum tel cur age, Ke, certes, tucgjur\ cuveitum

Et si ne I’ave^ pas ot vus; Ain^ est perdi si entre nus: Vus ne Vaves,z ne jo ne I’aiA 1 V. 11. 362-4. 2

Kar go est de amur la nature A descuverir en cuverture, En cuverant par raisun cuverte, Descuverir parole auverte, Kar nul ne pot estre savant De amur, se il ne set en cuverant Tut sun curage descuverir E ben en descuverant cuverir.

(V. 11. 577- 84). • Cf. Thomas Tristan 11. 1061-2, 2474-82, 2712; cf. Cross and Nitze Lancelot and Guenevere p. 87 n., and A. Hilka ‘Der Tristanroman des Thomasund die Disciplina Clencahs Zeitschrift fur franapsische Sprache und Ldteratur XLV (1917) 38—46, suggesting as the ultimate source the Disciplina Clericalis. * V. 11. 799-801. 6 U. 802-7.

118

Courtoisie in Anglo-Norman Literature

If, however, the physical effects of love are detrimental, it is morally stimulating, as the knights of the court imply when, at the opening of the story they blame Amadas half-mockingly for his neglect of love, which is the only defect to be found in his otherwise, from the social point of view, perfect character. They remind him of the increase of vitality conferred by love, and of the moral and physical development which thereby results. If, they say of him, he were to love some ‘dame de valur’ or some ‘gentille pucele’: . . . de tus bens en amenderait, Plus curtais, plus francs serait, Plus pruplus ardi, plus vaillant, De tutes rens plus enpernant.1 Implied in their attitude is the view that if he chose to love, he could—that is, the courtly idea of ‘amour voulu’, love dependent on the will. In the same way, when Ydoine is first presented to the reader, her insensibility is shown as a moral blemish which she could remove if she liked. Love, however, considered now rather from the human than the courtois point of view, may be stronger than the will. Amadas loves in spite of himself.2 Love is irresistible, and can transform all ordinary values: D’estrange manere ovre Amur, Quant ben se paine en sun labur: De fine amertume fait mef E de dugur savur de fel, De chaudfrait, de frait chaut, De haut bas et de bas haut, De mal ben, de ben maf De grant desir ire mortal? The contradiction in the treatment of love, which becomes evident as the story proceeds, runs through the poem as a whole, for though Amadas et Ydoine expresses in many ways the courtois attitude, there is another element in it which is in some measure the reverse of courtois. The early phases of Amadas’ love are described with a good deal of courtly embellishment, but once his love is returned by Ydoine, the story changes its character, and deals henceforth with the various impediments to their 1

V. 11.

119-22.

2

V. 11.

323-6, 422-3.

3

V. 11.

381-388.

The Romances of Hue de Rotelande

119

marriage; even in the early part of the story, with which we are here concerned, there are signs of a spirit that is opposed to courtoisie. Marriage, far from being regarded as incompatible with love, is taken as a matter of course. It is true that Ydoine, as she sends Amadas away to win renown, does not actually promise to marry him on his return, but it is clearly understood that she means to do so. And Amadas’ madness, brought on by the news of her approaching marriage with the Count of Nevers, shows that he regards her as lost to himself once she is the wife of another man. Already in the prologue the relation of the lovers is described as one of equality, with ‘grant leaute de ambes pars’; the story is one of mutual love between equals who remain faithful to each other throughout their lives. The disparity between them has already disappeared before we reach the point where the last AngloNorman manuscript breaks off. Ydoine has come to feel not only pity but a sense of responsibility, a consciousness that Amadas’ sufferings have given him a claim upon her and established an equality between her and himself. It is in the character of Amadas himself, and his conflicting feelings, that the opposition between the courtois and the noncourtois standpoints is most evident. Already in the account of the origin of his love there is a certain discrepancy. After the more or less conventional description of his falling in love, and a prophecy in the courtois manner of the mingled pleasure and pain which love has in store for him,1 the author comments in a completely different style on the unaccountable nature of love and on how, after years of familiar intercourse, it may suddenly spring up between two people who all at once, in a flash of illumination, see one another with new eyes. There is no courtly phraseology in the passage;2 it is a plain account of what may happen between any pair of people, irrespective of any particular 1 V. U. 270-98. 2

D’amer est estrange cose, Mervailes fait en poi de pose. Ki ben vudra esgarder, Mainte mervaile i pot noter; Quo il avint quo bom a vetie Une dame et cuneiie E ses murs et ses element E ses faisances et ses talent, E une feme aver at veil Un bom et tant le aver at cunu

Quo ben saver at ses qualite % Et ses tecbes et ses bunte De ammes par^ se entrecunuistrunt _ Hante ensemble assess averunt Quo nul d’eus ne ait autre requis Ne a de certes ne a giu ne ris, E pois apres, tut sait a cart, D’un sul semblant, d’un regart, S'entre amerunt desquo la mort Quo I’un sen% Vautre n’at confort

(V. 11. 297-318).

120

COURTOISIE IN ANGLO-NORMAN LITERATURE

time or setting, an account of human rather than courtois rela¬ tions. The human element in Amadas’ love is seen more clearly as the story goes on. He begins, in the courtly manner, by loving Ydoine to the exclusion of all other interests and acquiescing if not rejoicing in his sufferings. But almost from the start, he has misgivings about the wisdom of his conduct, and his submissive¬ ness is qualified by a growing feeling of protest against the igno¬ miny of loving with no hope of being loved in return: (Mut me est mm fol curage maistre, Quo tant me trait a nunsavance E turne a si foie fesance Et desirer paine mortel, Sen?£ conjort ire cruel Quo tant me anguisse et tant me argue; Sen% estre dru tirer a drue, Sen\ amie estre ami: Mut ad ci mal giu parti P As time passes, the conflict in his mind grows more intense and reaches its crisis after he has been lying sick of love for the greater part of two years. A tournament is being held at the Duke’s court, and Amadas, as he lies in bed, hears the voices of the knights and squires going by beneath his window to take part in the sport. They are regretting his absence and the fact that he is sick and unable to display his prowess.2 As he listens to their words he sees his position in a new light and is seized with a doubt as to whether after all he is not behaving like a fool.3 The analysis of his feelings shows an interesting mixture of courtois and non-courtois elements. On the one hand, the fact that his state of mind is analysed at all is characteristic of courtoisie, as is also the use of the monologue form4 to expose the dilemma in which he finds himself; on the other hand, his revolt against the tyranny of unrequited love, with his attempt to escape from its ‘prison lene’, is in direct opposition to the courtois spirit. The debate5 is engaged between his youth and natural vigour on the one hand and his foolish love on the other. The natural vitality of youth impels him to leave his sick-bed and cease from tormenting himself, but not only is he now physically weak but 1 V. 11. 454-62.

2 V. 11. 1013-22.

* V. 11. 1024 ff.

6 Cf. the analysis of Tristan’s feelings at the time of his marriage with mains.

4 V. 11. 1065-1110* Iseult aux blanches

The Romances of Hue de Rotelande

121

his vitality is held in check by his £fol volair’, which robs life of all its savour as long as Ydoine remains inexorable: Sa juvence vout qu’il se leve Et quo il de ren ne se greve; Safeblesce lui defent, Et sun fol volair ensement Quo il ne desirt fors la mort Si de sa amie Fat confortS

,

,

As the knights return at the end of the long summer’s day which Amadas has spent in taking stock of his position, they again lament over him; as he listens, his distress once more becomes acute and he is driven to seek some way out of a situation that is not only painful but ludicrous. He deplores the moral weakness and cowardice that prevent him from forcing an issue and either curing himself of his passion or prevailing upon Ydoine to return his love:

,

‘A mal ure fui engendre Quant jo sui de si feble sens Si lasche de si fol purpens Quo jo ne mi puis castier Ne mun enrage justiser De la rage dunt jo me mor Ne vivre ne puis a nulforA

,

,

,

,

As things are, death is the only solution,3 but even that is not so easily found, for if he takes his own life it will be at the peril of his soul.4 The only way of courting death is to make a last attempt to move Ydoine, who, if that attempt fails, will have him beaten so severely that being already weak he will die on the spot, after which, he exclaims, his patience suddenly at an end and the courtois attitude abandoned, she may love whom she likes for all he cares: ‘Jo n’i vai autre guarisun, Fors ?nurir par rest achaisun. Puis aint ma da?ne u bas u haut Apres mes jur ren ne me ehautp

^

,

than which it would be hard to find a less courtois remark. There is thus, as in the work of Hue de Rotelande, an opposi1 V. 11. 1037-42. 3 V. 11. 1082-j. 6 V. 11. 1107-10.

2 V. 11. 1066-72. * V. 11. 1086-91.

122

Courtoisie in Anglo-Norman Literature

tion between the courtly and the non-courtly attitude, though the opposition shows itself differently in the two cases. In Ipomedon and Protheselaus there is a juxtaposition of varied or opposing elements; the two themes of love and adventure run through both poems, now one theme predominating, now the other, while the treatment of love itself approximates to the courtois type in some cases and departs from it in others. With Amadas et Ydoine, however, the different standpoints are not so much in juxtaposition as in actual conflict, and the interesting thing is that the main conflict takes place in the mind of Amadas himself, coming to a climax when his common sense rebels against his position as a victim of love. It is a striking example of the way in which the doctrines and the outlook of courtoisie are interpreted in Anglo-Norman literature. The writers are well enough acquainted with courtois ideas and phraseology, so much is clear from a study of the romances which have just been analysed,but they cannot, or do not, accept whole-heartedly the courtois outlook.

Chapter

VII

Lyric Poetry

The degree to which courtoisie is present in the AngloNorman lyric is difficult to determine. The whole question of Provencal influence on lyric poetry in England is one of consider¬ able difficulty. It has been investigated, as far as English literature is concerned, by Dr. Chaytor1 and by the late J. Audiau,2 whose chief concern is with Middle English but who deal incidentally with indications of troubadour influence on Anglo-Norman lyric poetry. It might have been expected that Anglo-Norman literature would be comparatively rich in lyric poetry going back to a fairly early date and showing the influence of the Proven9al or Northern French schools, since, as we have seen, literary contacts between England and France, both north and south, were estab¬ lished in the reign of Henry II, if not earlier. Such, however, is not the case. It may be that those lyrics which have been preserved represent only a small proportion of the total number, though the didactic and utilitarian spirit characteristic of Anglo-Norman works can hardly have been favourable to the lighter forms of literary composition;3 the fact remains that, as Vising points out, ‘lyric poetry, other than religious, hardly exists inAnglo-Norman literature.’4 Two groups of songs have been edited by Paul Meyer in the Romania, and one or two poems have been published in other collections, but the total volume is very small and the literary value of the poems for the most part slight. Both the volume and the value would be increased if Gower’s Cinkante Balades were to be included in Anglo-Norman poetry, but Gower, even when he is using the French language, belongs rather to English literature, and is conscious of writing French as a foreigner.5 Not only is Anglo-Norman lyric poetry extremely scanty; it is also very late in its appearance, since none of the poems which remain are earlier in date than the thirteenth 1 H. J. Chaytor

2

The Troubadours and England. Ees Troubadours et TAngleterre. Schofield English Eiterature from the Norman Conquest to Chaucer p. 133. Anglo-Norman Language and Literature pp. 37-8. Cf. Traitie . . . pour essampler les amant^ marietxviii, 24-7 {Works,

3 4 5 Macaulay I 391).

123

ed. G. C.

124

Courtoisie in Anglo-Norman Literature

century. In such poems as show courtly influence, it is thus not easy to be sure whence it derives. So many of the ideas and images originating in Provencal poetry find their way into the work of the Northern French poets that parallels between the thought or imagery of an Anglo-Norman and a Provencal poet are not necessarily a proof of direct influence, for the AngloNorman poet may have had a Northern writer as his model. However, the exact source of courtois influence, when its existence can be shown, is not perhaps of much importance. There is another and more serious difficulty arising from the late appearance of Anglo-Norman lyric poetry. It is already hard enough in the work of the earliest courtois writers to isolate what is distinctively courtois from what is of more general provenance. This difficulty becomes greater as the original exponents of the courtois standpoint are left further behind, and in reading AngloNorman lyrics it is impossible to say how far the writers are consciously influenced by the courtois tradition, either as regards ideas or expressions. By the latter part of the thirteenth century, the ideas and the language of courtoisie had been in circulation for so long as to have lost much of their original freshness and passed into the common stock of literary cliches. Accordingly, even where a poet—if the authors of Anglo-Norman lyric verse may be dignified by that name—makes use of the exaggerated terms employed by Provencal or Northern French courtois poets, it by no means follows that he is trying to express the same thoughts or feelings. The mere use of particular terms is not in itself a sufficient proof of a courtois turn of mind. Little of the language of the troubadours or trouveres themselves is of their own invention; it is the spirit in which they use it which is characteristic, and in the case of the Anglo-Norman writers, even when they show an acquaintance with courtly phraseology, much of the spirit of courtoisie would seem to have evaporated. With these reservations in mind we may now examine such affinities with the chanson courtoise as appear in Anglo-Norman lyric poetry, looking out particularly for similarities of thought and feeling. The Anglo-Norman lyric, as far as it represents the courtois attitude, expresses first of all the relation of the lover and his lady, a relation involving humble devotion on his side and a mixture of condescension and harshness on hers. This attitude on her part is to some extent justified, in the writers’ opinion, by the fact that she seems in many respects to embody

Lyric Poetry

125

the courtly ideal of woman, both as regards moral and physical qualities. The other main theme is the complex nature of love, its blending of good and evil, or rather of pleasure and pain, and especially the joy of love which more than compensates the lover for the sufferings he has to endure. The idea of the lover as the faithful servant of his lady is expressed in the following lines, the opening of one of a set of seven songs: Jeo m’en voys, dame [et\ a Deu vous comaund, Que vous honur et vostre compaignie. Ensi me dont [i]ceo que jeo demaund Cum je vous ai servi san^ tricherie E serviray tu^ les jours de ma vie.1 The idea of entire devotion on the lover’s part appears in two poems from another group of songs. In one of them,2 the lover declares that whether he is rewarded or not there is nothing he will not undertake in his lady’s service: Ne pur peines ne pur travaus Unke de ren ne me feinsd She holds him prisoner, and in mingled worship and supplica¬ tion he begs her to have pity on him: . . . tujur a joynte meins Ea pri cum amy certeins K’ele pense de sun pri sun d Another writer reminds his lady that she holds his heart in her keeping and that only she can heal the wound which her eyes have inflicted: Duqg dame, des ore vus pri Pur cil ke dit est sire, Ke deu mal aie% merci Ke tant mun quer empire: Mien est il past tu Pas seisi, Si en see% le mire!'0 The author of Eongement me suipene professes himself willing to

1 Rom. IV (1875) 378; Meyer comments on the regularity of the form—‘une chanson k trois couplets rimant abab baabbb’—and suggests that it may have been written in France. 2 Rongement me sui pene, Rom. XV (1886) 252. 3 11. 17-18. 411. 19-21. 6 De ma dame vuil chanter, Rom. IV 575; Chaytor op. cit. pp. 148-9.

126

Courtoisie in Anglo-Norman Literature

die for his mistress: he is hers, body and soul, to dispose of as she pleases: A cele pur ki me moer Cors e alme e tut mun quer Comand tut a sun pleisir} The poets comment without bitterness on their ladies’ harsh treatment of them. Even though it is undeserved, they do not complain, but accept it as something that cannot be altered. They are content to suffer for the lady’s sake, and there is also the feeling that her superior worth gives her a certain right to be arrogant. For by her moral and physical excellence, her beauty of mind and form, and her perfect poise, the lady approximates to the courtly ideal of woman. Her physical appearance, though it is described in detail by at least one poet, is not of particular importance in this connection. It reflects an ideal in accordance, certainly, with mediaeval taste, but not distinctively courtois, and indeed, not exclusively mediaeval. In colouring, the lady is fair, with brilliant complexion.2 This is the type portrayed, rather unexpectedly, by the poets of southern France, in as far as they give any detailed descriptions of the ladies they write about.3 But the literary predilection for fairness as a criterion of beauty is much older than the trouba¬ dours, and goes back at least to classical times.4 The insistence *n. 49-51. 2

Tant ad bele chevelure, Menue la recercelure. Tut en resplent un manoir. Si les flurs d[el\ albespine Fuissent a roses as sis, N’en ferunt colur plus fine Ke n’ad ma dame au cler vis;

{Quant le tens se renovele, U. 54-6; Rom. XV 253).

{Ibid. 11. 73-6).

La char blanche plus ke cyne. {Ibid. 1. 79). 3 Cf. Jeanroy: ‘Etudes sur l’ancienne poesie provensale’ III. Neuphilologische Mitteilungen XXIX 221-2. Cf. also R. Renier II tipo estetico della donna nel medio evo (Ancona 1885) pp. 2-11. 4 For examples from classical poets cf. A. Baschet and F. S. Feuillet de Conches Les femmes blondes selon lespeintres de I’Ecole de Venise (1865) pp. 25-28; Ugo Foscolo Commento alia ‘Chioma di Berenice’, poema di Callimaco tradotto da Valerio Catullo—Considerations decimaseconda: chiome bionde {Prose, a cura di V. Cian (Scrittori d’ltalia, Bari 1913), II 319-27.

On the practice, apparently widespread among mediaeval ladies, of dyeing the hair if Nature has made it dark, cf. Renier, op. cit., pp. 130-1, J. Houdoy La beaute des femmes dans la literature et dans Part, du Xlle au XVIe sihle (1876) p. 16. Both these writers quote in this connection St. Anselm’s De contemptu mundi (Migne P.L. CLVIII 696). The influence of the Song of Songs, so extraordinarily popular in the Middle Ages and which sets up a different ideal of beauty, seems less apparent in vernacular than in mediaeval Latin literature, notably the writings of the Cistercian school (and, to go to the other extreme, the poems of the Goliards).

Lyric Poetry

127

on grace and slenderness, which recurs constantly in Old French writers,1 may be taken as more characteristically mediaeval, but not necessarily as more courtois.2 In any case, it is not emphasized and indeed barely mentioned, by the writers of Anglo-Norman lyric verse. More important as an expression of the courtois ideal is the account given by one poet of his lady’s appearance in as far as it expresses her disposition: Tant ad noble contenance Cele pur ki fa% rest chanty Sage di^ e poi parlance, Duy regard e bel semblant. Mat est simple e poi riant. . . ,3 The courtly quality of cmesure’ is implied in the description just quoted, and the writer goes on to mention the other virtues which she exemplifies, such as 'franchise’ and 'largesce’. Not only, however, is she beautiful and good in herself; her natural disposition has been developed by her courtly training, and her excellence is most clearly seen when she is considered not so much in herself as in her relations with other people. Courtoisie, inseparable as it is from a social background, is the ruling principle of her conduct: Deal tant est de bonte pleine Ma dame al cors lunge e gent, E de parole certeine Beaus respunt \a\ tute gent. Bon mestre a ki ben aprent, Ear curtesie la meine, Franchise al cuer dreit Taseine, Largesce sun cors i prent; Meint hom pur lui joie enprent, Tant la trove sage e seyned Jeanroy emphasizes the social consciousness which determines, in great measure, the troubadours’ conception of the ideal woman. It is in her social relations that she appears to full advantage: 'sage en sa conduite et mesuree en ses projets, on la 1 ltenier op. cit. p. 39; Jeanroy op. cit. p. 222, n. 2; Houdoy op. cit. p 56. Fliigel Psychology of Clothes (1930) p. 160.) 2 It is found commonly in the chansons de geste\ cf. Jeanroy lot. cit. 8Quant le tens se renovele (Rom. XV 253), U. 13—174 Quant le tens se renovele, 11. 25-34.

(Cf. also J. C.

128

Courtoisie in Anglo-Norman Literature

voit, en temps et lieu, plaisanter et rire, sourire avec grace, accueillir noblement, traiter chacun suivant son rang et ses merites. . . . Ce sont en somme les qualites de la parfaite femme du monde; et rien ne prouve mieux que la poesie dite courtoise fut bien reellement une poesie de salon.’1 The excellence of the lady seems, as it were, to make the poet’s sufferings worth while, unless indeed the relation of the lover and his mistress ought not rather to be considered from a differ¬ ent angle. It may be that the picture of the lady, with her surpass¬ ing beauty of face and form and still more of mind and heart, is in some measure a projection of the poet’s own feeling, an attempt to find a worthy object for his adoration. As Mme. Lot-Borodine expresses it, ‘au “fin cceur” en qu6te de la perfec¬ tion et qui veut s’agenouiller, il faut une divinite ou du moins une idole. On ne brule l’encens que dans un temple.’2 For it is his own feeling in which the lover is primarily inter¬ ested. In his professions of willingness to serve his lady to the uttermost, there is something besides disinterested devotion. It is not only for his lady’s sake but for his own that the poet is ready to suffer, and to endure the ‘duce maladie’. The pains of love are not without their sweetness:3 . ... It mal m’est si pleisant Ke ja n’en f\e\rai semblant; Tut le preng par enveysure.4 In spite of his sufferings, the poet cannot separate himself from love: Ne puys, tant ke mort me fere, Amur guerpir, tant m’est chere, Kar deden^ mun quer Tai joynt.h For whatever pain it may cause, it is better to have love, with its heightened sensibility, than to lead the placid but bovine exist¬ ence of the loveless: Ore deit ben chescun entendre Cum amur est cher tresor; Ki la pert sa joie est mendre, Kar meu^ li vausit estre mortfi 1 2 3 4

Jeanroy op. cit. pp. 222-3. Sur les origines et les fins du service d’amour pp. 227-8. Longement me sui pene, 11. 13-16. Tant cum plus ai mis ma cure (Rom XV 2^0), 1. 1 j. 6 Ibid., II.58-60. * Quant le tens se renovele, 11. 97-100.

Lyric Poetry

129

The effect of love on a man’s moral nature, with the demands it makes on him and the benefits it confers, is such as to outweigh the suffering it entails. The stimulus to moral and physical excellence provided by love is the main theme of a short poem published by F. Michel.1 The writer imagines himself walking in a flowery orchard, thinking sadly of his ‘amye’ and wondering if she will ever accept his love, when he finds a paper giving a brief description of the power of the god of love: ... Li Deu de amur a bele seignurie Kant tons fin% aman^ ad en sa baillie, E les fau% amans si des liens lie Oe a sei les tire de ben arner en partie. The last four lines of the poem are especially significant as being a concise statement of the ideal of courtly love. It is dependent on, and at the same time develops, nobility of character. It helps a man to fulfil the possibilities of his nature, strengthening his native qualities, correcting his faults, and enabling him to live with the utmost intensity of which he is capable: Amur se joint a dreite naturesse; Kar leaute norist e dome pruesse, Curteisie voet, chastete e largesse, E a ces soges tout udivete e peresse. It is impossible from such a meagre collection of poems to draw any far-reaching conclusions on the subject of courtoisie in Anglo-Norman lyric poetry. As already suggested, the most significant fact is that such poetry is very scarce, for it is difficult not to see in the apparent neglect of secular lyric poetry a further illustration of the seriousness and the utilitarian bias which seem to be characteristic of the Anglo-Norman temperament. 1 Rapports . . . sur les aneiens monuments de I’histoire et de la litterature de la ¥ ranee p.113.

Chapter

VIII

Doctrinal Literature

It is not easy to find a term which will describe all the works to be considered in this chapter. Some of them are included by Vising under the heading of didactic literature, while two are classed somewhat oddly as satirical or humorous pieces. The adjective ‘doctrinal’ may perhaps be used as an inclusive term, however, since they all deal, directly or indirectly, with the doctrine of love, with questions as to the type of the ideal lover, the relation between the lover and his lady, and the compati¬ bility of love and marriage. Anglo-Norman doctrinal works seem to fall more or less into two groups, those in which the precepts of love are shown in action, as it were, by means of concrete examples, and those of a more theoretical character. It is difficult, however, to draw a hard and fast line between the two, for in several cases example and theory illustrate and explain one another, as in the work of all others belonging to this category and which has been des¬ cribed as a kind of text-book of courtly love, the De Amore of Andre le Chapelain. Written probably at the end of the twelfth century, and under the influence of Marie de Champagne, it expounds, as we saw, the theory of which Chretien de Troyes’ Charrette supplies an illustration,1 but actually it shows such a peculiar blending of different points of view, including in some degree those of Ovid and of the mediaeval misogynist, that such a description of it is only partially true. In particular, the idea of love-service, the central conception of the Charrette as of the doctrine of courtly love, is not an essential part of Andre le Chapelain’s scheme,2 according to which love, whatever its effects, is primarily ‘mentis insania’. It is certainly, however, a text-book of love, and extremely interesting for the light it throws on the conventions of medieval society.3 Anglo-Norman literature, unlike that of France, hardly bears traces of a direct influence of the De Amore, but it includes several works whose subject is the theory or the conduct of a love in some degree courtois. In some of these, the author expresses 1 Gaston Paris (Rom. XII (1883) 532). 2 Langdon-Davies A Short History of Women (1928) p. 244. 3 Bossuat Drouart la Vache (1926) p. viii. 130

Doctrinal Literature

131

his own standpoint through the mouths of his characters, as in the Donnei des Aman^ and the poems of Blancheflour et Florence and Melior et Ydoine,1 2 which raise the problem of the relative merits, as lovers, of the clerk and the knight. Besides a Fetter to a Lady, giving advice as to the choice of a lover and how to behave towards him, there exist in Anglo-Norman two definitions of love—a short trilingual poem of three verses,3 and a longer definition in prose4—and finally an allegorical poem5 by an unknown author of the fourteenth century. The earliest of the writings in which the principles of courtly love are illustrated rather than described is the Donnei6 des Amanwhich is also the oldest specimen of this whole class of literature. Gaston Paris is inclined to place it at the end of the twelfth century. The author’s name does not appear, but from his erudition and from his desire to instruct his readers it seems safe to conclude that he is a clerk; he has the mediaeval (and not only mediaeval) distrust of literature which cannot be shown to have some didactic value, though it need not be of a very obvious kind.7 The poem consists mainly of the conversation of two lovers, which the poet is supposed to overhear; the lover assures the lady of his love and asks for her favour, to which she replies that the circumstances are not propitious, meaning, according to Gaston Paris, that she will be able to indulge her love more freely when she has a husband. To illustrate their arguments, the lovers tell three stories, not altogether to the point: the Aesopic fable of the man and the serpent, and the Indian tale of the man and the bird, for both of which the author has drawn largely on the Disciplina Clericalis of Petrus Alphonsus, and finally, the story of Iseut stealing out by night from Mark’s bed to meet Tristan.8 There are certain obviously courtois elements in the poem, of which perhaps the most important is the exclusiveness which makes the poet refuse to recognize any but the aristocratic and 1 Ed. G. Paris (Rom. XXV 497 ff.). 2 Ed. P. Meyer (Rom. XXXVII (1908) 221 ff., 236 ff.). 3 Ed. P. Meyer (Rom. IV 383). 4 Ed. P. Studer (Melanges . . . Thomas p. 434). 6 MS. Arundel 14, College of Arms. 6 ‘Ce mot a ete emprunte vers le milieu du Xlle siecle au prov. domnei, tire du verbe domtieiar, “faire la cour aux dames, faire 1’amour”. Les sens de donnei se sont varies et etendus:' le plus habituel, comme le plus ancien, est celui qu’il a dans notre texte de “con¬ versation amoureuse, entretien galant”.’ Rom. XXV 523. 7 G. Paris, Rom. XXV 525. 8 Cf. chapter iii.

132

Courtoisie in Anglo-Norman Literature

somewhat artificial world in which he moves and to which the realities of ordinary life, as symbolized by the ‘vilain’, are not to be admitted. Early on a spring day, the poet is walking barefoot in the dew listening to the songs of the birds. Going towards an enclosed garden, and looking at the apple trees in blossom, he shares in the general gladness and thinks of the goodness of God as reflected in the joy of His creatures, when all at once his happiness is spoilt by the thought of the ‘vilain’. For the ‘vilain’ stands for a way of life entirely opposed to the ideals of cour¬ toisie, a way of life about which the courtly lover would rather not have to think, and which is incompatible, in particular, with the courtly virtue of joy: . . . mut est fel quer de vilein, E la sue vie est maudite, Quant en joie ne se delite. Li suens delig n’est for s grucer, Pendre surety batre e tencer, Aver tugjorg morne semblant, Hair deduig,joie et chant. Contraire est mut la sue vie A la celeste armonie E as angeles de parais Ki devant Deu chantent tut dig} Grumbling is as natural to the vilain as growling is to a dog: Li vilein n’ ad de joie cure, Kar f o ne li cheut de nature. Vilein oblie sun grucer Quant chen ne set mes rechiner.2 Further, the lover’s relation towards the lady is that of a humble servant, begging for pity. The sufferings which his love causes him have become so acute that he can no longer conceal them, and his passion must be disclosed: ‘Issi nd'en vait changant tut dis Ceste dolur de mal en pig. Bel\e\ amie, nel quer celer, Ear tnaugre men Pestut mustrerA She is the cause of his distraught condition, of the Ml. 26-36.

211. 63-6.

311. 239-42.

Doctrinal Literature

*

i35

grant travail, je suspir, pens e tresail, E perd memerie a essientl1

If she would, she could offer the remedy for his sickness; not only his peace of mind, but his happiness, his health, his fortune and his very life depend upon her, indifferent to them as she is: c Vus qui tene^ el poin enclos E men travail e men repos, Tote ma joie e ma tristur, Mai e ben, mun ris [