This has been a difficult year. I celebrated Valentine’s Day discretly and failed to write a post on the subject of love. However, if one clicks on Posts on Love Celebrated, a page, not a post, one will find discussion on this subject.
At any rate, I am wishing you, belatedly, a Happy Valentine’s Day.
In Gilles Durant’s poem, the first song, a lover invites his Lady to enjoy the pleasures of love, as life is much too brief. Carpe diem.
Despite the use of the word “for” (pour), it would appear that Jean-Antoine Watteau‘s (10 October 1684 – 18 July 1721) The Embarkation for Cythera (Louvre version) depicts “a departure” from the island of Cythera, the birthplace of Venus. According to Wikipedia, whose sites dealing with our subject have just been maintained, it symbolises “the temporary nature of human happiness.” (See Fêtes galantes, Wikipedia).
Consequently, the characters portrayed in The Embarkation for Cythera are not leaving our imperfect world to travel to the land of love, a land resembling Madeleine de Scudéry‘s (15 November 1607 – 2 June 1701), famous carte de Tendre, or map of Tendre. They are returning from Cythera.
The Embarkation for Cythera is a painting rather than a text. After Watteau, however, Fêtes galantes re-entered literary works and music. The best-known literary Fêtes galantes is a collection of poems by Paul Verlaine, published in 1869. The theme also suffuses Pierre Louÿs’Les Chansons de Bilitis.
The term Fêtes galantes has roots in both 17th-century honnêteté and préciosité. As mentioned above, there was, on the one hand, a galant homme. He was an honnête homme and at times a précieux. On the other hand, there was un homme galant or a womanizer. The homme galant, was unlikely to be invited to salons, with the possible exception of persons such as Giacomo Casanova (2 April 1725 – 4 June 1798).
The préciosité Molière mocked in his Précieuses ridicules (1659) developed in salons and promoted Platonic love. In Les Précieuses ridicules, Cathos expresses disdain for a man’s body. She tells her uncle Gorgibus:
Comment est-ce qu’on peut souffrir la pensée de coucher contre un homme vraiment nu ? (Les Précieuses ridicules, I, 4)
(How can one suffer the thought of sleeping next to a truly naked man?)
pastoral and heroic romances
la carte de Tendre
In early salons, the main activity of salonniers and salonnières was literature, witty literature. Salonniers and salonnièresengaged in “word games,” or the creation of ingenuous little poems. For instance, they would be given the end of lines of poetry to which they had to attach a beginning. These bouts-rimés (rhymed ends), as they were called, demanded inventiveness and substantial linguistic skills. A main characteristic of salon literature, poems mainly, is the use of the conceit (la pointe).
In fact, to be understood, galanterie must be contextualized. Paul Verlaine’s poems were hedonistic, but they were poems and therefore fictional. There is a Cythera, but Venus is a mythological figure. Madeleine de Scudéry‘s (15 November 1607 – 2 June 1701), carte de Tendre, or map of Tendre,published in Clélie, histoireromaine, is a product of the imagination. Yet, préciosité is a moment in the history of love. Précieuses were real women.
La Guirlande de Julie
One instance of précieux love is the fourteen-year courtship Julie d’Angennes FR (1607 – 15 novembre 1671), Madame de Rambouillet‘s daughter, imposed on the Charles de Saint-Maure, duc de Montausier. Here, however, one senses genuine apprehensions: pregnancy, childbirth, and infant mortality. On her 35th birthday, Montausier gave Julie the exquisite Guirlande de Julie a collection of 62 madrigals,but Julie made the Duke wait five more years. This is how “precious” and perhaps frightened she was. They married on 15 July 1645 and, although the Duc de Montausier was an honnête homme and a galant homme, he was un homme. Julie got pregnant and gave birth to a daughter.
Préciosité, as mocked in Molière’s Précieuses ridicules (1659), was short-lived. However, as noted above, préciosité or disembodied loveis a milestone in the history of love. It belongs to thequerelle des femmes, the woman question. It therefore differs from chivalry and the Roman de la Rose, which promoted courtly love without rejecting sexual intimacy.
Catherine de Vivonne, Marquise de Rambouillet(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
La Chambre bleue d’Arthénice
Italian-born Catherine de Vivonne, Marquise de Rambouillet (1588 – 2 December 1665) opened the first salon: L’Hôtel de Rambouillet, rue Saint-Thomas-du-Louvre. Its Catherine de Vivonne called herself Arthénice, an anagram of Catherine. Hôtels were private residences (un hôtel particulier) and salon hostesses received once or twice a week. The hostess usually sat in bed and her guests were in a ruelle, literally and alley way, on a side ofthe bed. Madame de Rambouillet received in her blue room, la chambre bleue. Occasionally, salonniers and salonnières went on a picnic. That outing was called un cadeau, a gift. When the Marquise closed her salon,Madeleine de Scudéry (15 November 1607 – 2 June 1701) opened hers. Mademoiselle de Scudéry never married.
Let us return to Watteau’s 18th-century Fêtes galantes, Jean-Antoine Watteau’s paintings depicting “courtship parties.” (See Fêtes galantes, Wikipedia).
In Fêtes galantes personal sentiment is masked by delicately clever evocations of scenes and characters from the Italian commedia dell’arte and from the sophisticated pastorals of 18th-century painters, such as Watteau and Nicolas Lancret, and perhaps also from the contemporary mood-evoking paintings of Adolphe Monticelli.
Fêtes galantes are associated with the commedia dell’arte. Actors were, as in ‘to be,’ “masks.” As well, the sad clown is an archetype. Masquerade balls have survived. Balls go back to the ballet de cour. They are courtly and have a counterpart in festivals and carnavals.
Charles Sorel, who was named the historiographer of France in 1635, wrote Les Loix de la galanterie, first published in 1644, but galants met and discussed the rules of gallantry.
We have several e-copies of Sorel’s Loix or lois de la galanterie. However, despite repeated attempts, I have not found a translation into English of Charles Sorel‘s (c. 1602 – 7 March 1674) Loix de la galanterie. I presume there is a translation, but it is not on the internet. In my next post, I will therefore provide not a translation, but a summary of Les Loix de la galanterie, using Ludovic Lalanne’s text.
The terms honnête homme and galant homme are no longer used, nor is the term gentilhomme. The honnête homme is now called a gentleman in both French and English. The word gallant has survived and is used to describe men who still open the door of a car to help a woman out or hold a heavy door when a fragile individual enters or leaves a building or are very polite. The term “grande dame” is used to describe particularly accomplished women, including women who had a salon.
Fêtes galantes now belong to the discourse on love refined or “galant,” but love as depicted in Watteau’s ethereal Fêtes galantes.
____________________  Another version is housed at theCharlottenburg, in Berlin. Calligraphy by Nicolas Jaret. Paintings byNicolas Robert.  A madrigal could be either a song and a poem.  “Paul Verlaine”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2016. Web. 22 Apr. 2016 <http://www.britannica.com/biography/Verlaine-Paul>.
In Baroque music, galanteries were also suites of dances (see Galanteries). For instance, most ‘suites’ included a minuet, which is a dance. J. S. Bach composed French Suites, English Suites, and Partitas. Baroque music, however, was considered rather complex: intricate counterpoint, etc. The galant style would advocate simpler and more sentimental music. Bach’s sons composed music in the “galant” style. (See Fêtes galantes: Watteau & Verlaine in RELATED ARTICLES.)
But galanterie, as we know it, is not music. It is polite behaviour and, in particular, polite behaviour on the part of men courting women. In 17th-century France, l’honnête homme was quietly galant and préciosité demanded galanterie on the part of men. However, galanterie was not a synonym of honnêteté.
La Vraye Histoire comique de Francion, illustration by Martin van Maële (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Nicolas Faret’s L’Honnête Homme, ou l’Art de plaire à la cour
Antoine Gombaud, chevalier de Méré’s letters and L’Honnête Homme et De la Vraie Honnêteté
In 1644, Charles Sorel (c. 1602 – 7 March 1674) published LesLoix de la galanterie, a short book. Sorel’s Loix de la galanterie is a book about the requirements of galanterie: money, fashionable clothes, acceptable manners, cleanliness, and étiquette in general. “Propreté, Civilité, Politesse, Éloquence, Adresse, Accortise, et Prudence mondaine [.]” (See Les Loix de la galanterie.)
The Chevalier de Méré, an aristocrat, contributed to the development of the salon,the birthplace of honnêteté and préciosité. Literature was the main activity of salonniers and salonnières but Mademoiselle de Scudéry‘s Clélie, histoire romaine, which contains the map of Tendre, a map of the country of love, has affinities with galanterie. I rather like Petits Soins (tender loving care) (seeCarte du Tendre).
L‘honnête homme avoided extreme views and he had a good jugement; he was not vain nor boastful, he was insightful, and he was polite, which at times precluded frankness. According to François de la Rochefoucauld, the moralist, “l’honnête homme ne se pique de rien[.]” L’honnête homme never boasts.
Among the dramatis personæ of Molière’s comedies are honnête gens (plural for honnête homme): such as Cléante in Le Tartuffe (1664 – 1669) and Philinte in Le Misanthrope.
In Molière’s Misanthrope, Philinte, who is an honnête homme, would not tell an aging Émilie, la vieille Émilie, that she uses makeup (le blanc) and behaves (faire la jolie) in a manner that does not suit an aging woman (I. i):
Quoi ! vous iriez dire à la vieille Émilie Qu’à son âge il sied mal de faire la jolie, Et que le blanc qu’elle a scandalise chacun ? (I. i)
What! would you tell old Emilie
that ’tis unbecoming at her age to play the pretty girl;
or that the paint she wears shocks every one? Le Misanthrope (I. 1)
The truth would hurt Émilie, which neither galanterie nor honnêteté would allow. If at all possible, one does not offend others in the name of frankness or “truth.”
In scene two, Oronte walks in with a copy of a poem he wishes to read to Alceste, the misanthrope. The poem is mediocre and, although he hesitates for the longest time, Alceste ends up saying that “Franchement, il [le poème] est bon à mettre au cabinet.” Frankly, it’s good for the garbage.) Cabinet is an ambiguous word. It can mean a drawer (cabinet making), but can also mean a toilet. Alceste is franc, but he is not civil. He is acting offensively in the name of sincerity or “honnêteté” in its literal sense.
The above are examples of the polemical nature of many of Molière’s plays. They could lead to debates. When it was first staged, in 1664, Le Tartuffe, whose protagonist feigns devotion and nearly ruins Orgon’s family, was not seen as falsely devout by Orgon and, given its subject matter, the play was banned. It took Molière five years to make Le Tartuffe acceptable.
L’École des femmes, 1719 edition (Wikipedia)
L’École des femmes (Google images)
Les Précieuses ridicules by Moreau le Jeune (Wikipedia)
Les Précieuses ridicules (Google images)
Similarly, Les Précieuses ridicules (18 November 1661; Petit-Bourbon) was not a depiction of préciosité, except for allusions, such as the use of a purer language. Magdelon and Cathos, who have just arrived in Paris, are besotted by préciosité and salons, but they have yet to set foot in a salon. Real précieuses and salonnières would know that Mascarille and Jodelet are not salonniers. They would not let themselves be courted and amused by the valets of Du Croisy and La Grange, the two suitable young men Magdelon and Cathos rejected. The Précieuses ridicules has the plot of a farce: le trompeur trompé (the deceiver deceived). The tables are turned on Magdelon and Cathos.
Yet, Molière was criticized for portraying Les Précieuses ridicules. In the Preface to Les Précieuses ridicules, he wrote that Magdelon and Cathos were false précieuses and that “Les plusexcellentes choses sont sujettes à être copiées par de mauvaissinges.” (The most excellent things are apt to be copied by bad monkeys.) Besides, comedies of manners are “miroirs publics.”
Molière wrote comédies-ballets, but he also wrote comedies featuring gentilshommes, aristocrats and gods: Dom Garcie de Navarre (comédie héroïque; 1661), La Princesse d’Élide (1664), Dom Juan (1665), Amphitryon(1668)… Moreover, as an actor, Molière was fond of playing roles in comédies-héroïques. Critic Paul Bénichou dispelled the commonly held view that Molière advocated bourgeois common sense.
Molière was a human being and humans dream of worlds that are or seem better than the world they inhabit. Aristocrats were privileged individuals. So Molière featured aristocrats in a few of his comedies. For Molière, theatre was at times the goal of theatre. He created a comforting spectacle, an illusion.
Molière neither served nor disserved the “querelle des femmes,” feminists. Moreover, if there is a galant in the comedies of Molière, it is the young man who courts a woman who loves him, but whose marriage to her is threatened by a blocking character. Molière’s honnête homme is Philinte (Le Misanthrope), Cléante (Le Tartuffe) and other figures often called the raisonneur. L’honnête homme does not vilify women.
In L’École des femmes (1662) (The School for Wives), Agnès, who has been raised by Arnolphe to be his faithful wife, falls in love with Horace, whom she sees through her window. She rejects Arnolphe saying that the way Arnolphe’s speaks of marriage makes it sound terrible. Horace, on the other hand, presents marriage as pleasurable, which makes her feel like marrying:
Chez vous le mariage est fâcheux et pénible, Et vos discours en font une image terrible; Mais, las ! il le fait, lui, si rempli de plaisirs, Que de se marier il donne des désirs. (V. iv)
With you, marriage is a trouble and a pain,
and your descriptions give a terrible picture of it;
but there — he makes it seem so full of joy
that I long to marry. (V. 4) The School for Wives (V. 4)
Horace is galant and earns Agnès’ love. In comedy, galanterie is conventional, the goal of comedy being the marriage of young lovers, which would not be possible if the young man were not galant (love). But, as noted above, it is not honnêteté, at least not altogether.
I apologize for the long delay. I couldn’t concentrate due to a bout of mental fatigue and difficulties in gathering recent articles and books. I require these to write my book on Molière. All is not lost. I have contacted a number of sources and have used Jstor for several years, as a private scholar. Would that I still lived across the street from a library. However, when I quote 17th-century authors whose work I do not own, I use Internet Archives, the Project Gutenberg, and Google e-books. These e-books are seldom edited or annotated, but they are immensely useful tools.
 Charles Sorel wrote La Vraie Histoire comique de Francion, in the hope of dealing a blow to Honoré d’Urfé‘s pastoral romances. La Vraie Histoire comique de Francion (1623) was a success, but Honoré d’Urfé’s L’Astrée remained popular. However, Le Berger extravagant (1627-1628) did tarnish pastoral romances, or very long novels featuring shepherds and shepherdesses. (See Charles Sorel, Wikipedia.)
 Paul Bénichou, Morales du Grand Siècle (Paris : Gallimard, 1948), p. 263.
I hope the list above will prove helpful. It resembles a dramatis personae, the names of characters in a play. But battles and treaties have been included.
The Assassination of Louis I, duke of Orleans (1407)
There is history and behind it, behind the official record, stories or rumours. Such is the case with the central event of the Hundred Years’ War: the Treaty of Troyes, signed at Troyes, France, by Charles VI, the “Mad,” in the presence of his wife, Isabeau of Bavaria.
Les Très Riches Heures de Jean de France, duc de Berry, le 1er mai, featuring Charles d’Orléans (Photo credit: Google Images)
A few years later, in 1393, Charles VI lost stature when he became mentally. A mad king is a weak king. During Charles VI’s bouts of madness, Charles VI’s wife, Isabeau of Bavaria, sat on the regency council, but Louis I, duc d’Orléans, Charles VI’s brother, was gaining ascendancy, which undermined the Burgundians’ attempt to rule France.
There are times when rumours are history, or when stories are history. Our historical fact is that under the terms of the Treaty of Troyes, signed in 1420, French King Charles VI, the “mad” King, disinherited his son, Charles VII, and bequeathed his kingdom, the kingdom of France, to Philip V, King of England. Charles VI also agreed to a marriage between Philip V and his daughter Catherine de Valois. Catherine gave birth to a son on 6 December 1421.
Philip V died in 1422, during a campaign in France. He never saw his son, but his son, would be Philip VI, King of England and, if he survived childhood, he would also be king of France. As it happens, Philip VI survived childhood.
The rumour makes sense. Charles VI was mad, Louis, duke of Orleans, a philanderer, and Isabeau, vulnerable. So it could be that Louis, duke of Orleans, fathered Charles VII. In other words, there may be truth to the rumour, in which case Charles, duke of Orleans was Charles VII‘s first cousin and half-brother.
Charles VII by Jean Fouquet (Google)
Charles of Orléans as Magi by Jean Fouquet (Google)
Jean de Dunois
In fact, Charles, duke of Orleans had another half-brother, Jean de Dunois (23 November 1402 – 24 November 1468). Jean de Dunois was born to Marguerite d’Enghien, Louis I, duke of Orleans’ mistress. He was called the “bastard of Orleans” which was not a pejorative designation as it suggested that everyone knew he was Louis d’Orleans’ son.
Jean de Dunois was loyal to his half-brother, Charles d’Orleans. During Charles of Orleans’ lengthy detention in England, Jean de Dunois looked after his half-brother’s interests in France and, particularly at Orléans. When Joan of Arc entered the war, then at a low point, Jean de Dunois and La Hire were her main generals. Joan of Arc so inspired them that they lifted the Siege of Orleans, allowing her to complete the task assigned to her by the archangel Michael, God’s warrior. She took Charles VII to Reims, where he was crowned King of France on 17 July 1429. On 6 November 1429, Henry VI was crowned King of England at Westminster Abbey and, on 26 December 1429, King of France, at Notre-Dame de Paris.
The French victory at Orleans changed the course of the war and the rightful heir was crowned on July 17 at Reims, the cathedral where French Kings were crowned. The Hundred Years’ War lingered, but Joan had defeated the English, as was requested of her by the archangel Michael. France had a French King, not an English King.
One could say that Joan had undone the Treaty of Troyes, which is true to a very large extent. The French House of Valois ruled France, not the English House of Plantagenet. However, Philip VI could claim the throne of France and, as noted above, Philip VI was crowned King of France on 26 December 1429, at Notre-Dame de Paris.
However, there was a war within a war. In 1410, Bernard VII, Count of Armagnac and constable of France married his daughter Bonne d’Armagnac (19 February 1339 – 1430/35) to Charles, duke of Orleans. The wedding of Charles, duke of Orleans and Bonne d’Armagnac, depicted in the Très Riches Heures de Jean de France, duc deBerry, strengthened the crown of France. The Armagnacs were a powerful family. Bonne was 11 years old and her spouse, 16, when the two married. They were very young. The marriage however was first and foremost a contract or alliance. It may never have been consummated as Bonne died childless in 1430 or 1435. Yet, despite his age, Charles was marrying for the second time.
Charles’ first wife, Isabelle de Valois, died in childbirth in 1409. As for Bonne, she would die childless when Charles was in captivity. She was 16 when her husband was captured at the Battle of Agincourt, in 1415.She died in 1430 or 1435, before her husband’s release, which did not occur until 1440. When he returned to France, Charles d’Orléans married 16-year-old Maria of Cleves (19 September 1426 – 23 August 1487) who was 35 years younger than her husband. They had three children, one of whom would be King of France, Louis XII of France.
It has been said that Bonne d’Armagnac’s marriage to Charles d’Orléans triggered the Armagnac-Burgundian Civil War, which lasted until 1435. The wedding did empower the House of Valois. Charles VII was the rightful heir, according to the French. And despite the death of Louis of Orleans, the House of Orleans had a ruler, which benefited Charles VI, King of France. But by the same token, the marriage weakened the Dukes of Burgundy.
During the Armagnac-Burgundian Civil War,
the Burgundians entered into an alliance with England;
Joan of Arc was captured by the Burgundians; handed over to the English, and burned at the stake.
In other words, the Burgundian reaction to the marriage of Charles Orléans led to a harmful alliance between France and England. Moreover, it is rumoured that the Treaty of Troyes was orchestrated by the Burgundians. If it was, they did not realize they would have to fight the English in order to rule France. The Armagnac’s King, Charles VII, ascended the throne of France in 1429, so France had two kings, one of whom the French could not consider their king. The Treaty of Troyes is the great pity that had befallen France. The House of Plantagenet coveted the French throne, but the Burgundians had become English and, in 1415, England had won a major victory at Agincourt and captured Charles, duke of Orleans. France’s decisive victory at the Siege of Orleans angered the Burgundians.
After England’s defeat at the Siege of Orleans, the Burgundians captured Joan of Arc and handed her over to the English. She was burned at the stake on 30 May 1431 and Charles VII did not save her.
Yet, if the French victory, Joan of Arc’s victory, at the Siege of Orleans caused the English to unravel, the same is true of the Burgundians. The English loss at the Siege of Orleans ended the Armagnac-Burgundian Civil War and it ended the Hundred Years’ War. A French King had been crowned.
Poetically speaking, the rumour according to which Charles VII was Louis of Orleans‘ son is very helpful. The Treaty of Troyes remains senseless, as does a Burgundian alliance with England, but Charles VI’ unprofitable decision is now more understandable. If given a choice, I believe I would combine the story and history, because the story explains history, all the more since a humble girl heard voices and did as an archangel directed her to do. It seems a legend.
Captured in 1415, Charles, duke of Orleans was released in 1440 and, meanwhile, a poet was born who wrote Ballades, Rondeaux and Chansons, often mentioning Valentine’s Day. I have now read all of his poetry. It is listed as medieval and is ‘courtly,’ as in “courtly love.”
Charles d’Orléans often wrote several poems that used the same first line, or a variation of that line. Also, the first half of that line often contradicted the second half. Antithetical lines are a rhetorical device, but most of Charles’ antithetical lines reflect the human condition. The best-known and my favourite is:
« Je meurs de soif auprès de la fontaine. »
(I die of thirst next to a fountain.)
My favourite line reminds me of Charles’ statement to Marie de Clèves, his third wife, who was 35 years younger than her husband. The difference was ‘poetically’ correct:
« Car pour moi fustes trop tart née, Et moy pour vous fus trop tost né. »
“ ’cause you for me were born too late.
And I for you was born too soon.”
(I believe my computer is recovering, but it is unstable. It didn’t have cookies. It logs me out when it shouldn’t.)
It would be difficult to understand some of the plays of William Shakespeare and other works of English or French literature without taking into account such significant events as the Conquest of England, by William, Duke of Normandy, at the Battle of Hastings (1066), and the Hundred Years’ War. In the 12th century, at least two authors, Marie de France and Walter of England wrote in Anglo-Norman, and French would be used at court, and perhaps elsewhere, until the conclusion of the Hundred Years’ War.
Let us go back to the literature that followed the Battle of Hastings, fought on 4 October 1066. On that day, William, Duke of Normandy, defeated England’s King Harold (Harold Godwinson), who was killed in battle. The throne of England had been promised to William, Duke of Normandy, hence the battle. Following the Battle of Hastings, many Normans settled in England, two of whom, discussed later in this post, are important writers who penned their work in Anglo-Norman, a transitional language.
William, Duke of Normandy, defeated Harold, King of England, and became William I, King of England. But England, as a territory, remained as it was. The Normans who settled in England would soon speak a form of English.
Yet Latin and French words had been introduced into English. The word ‘curfew’ is an anglicised form of couvre-feu and jeopardy, an anglicised form of jeu parti a term used in a game resembling chess. It probably meant ‘checkmate’ or ‘échec et mat,’ from the Arabic « al cheikh mat » (see D’où vient …).
The Bayeux Tapestry depicting the Battle of Hastings (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Marie de France
Walter of England
The best-known Anglo-Norman author is Marie de France, a 12th-century writer whose portrait, an illumination, is featured above. The second is Walter of England (Gualterus Anglicus). His French name would have been Gaut(h)ier d’Angleterre.
Marie de France, who lived in England but was born in France, is famous for her collection of lais: the lais of Guigemar, Chevrefoil (honeysuckle), Lanval, Yonec, Laustic, and other lais. Marie also wrote a book of Æsopic fables. Her fables were ‘Æsopic,’ but as we have seen in earlier posts, Æsop’s fables originate in the SanskritPanchatantra(3rd century BCE); its Arabic retelling, Kalīlah wa Dimnah, by Ibn al-Muqaffa (750 CE), and other sources.
The Lais of Marie de France
The Lais of Marie de France are rooted in the Breton lai, and their themes are love (early courtly love), and chivalry. Breton lais reflect the literature of Ireland and countries where Gaelic is or was spoken. The origin of the word lai has not been ascertained, but whatever the meaning of lai, Marie’s works are examples of courtly love and chivalric literature. Marie de France could well be France’s first major author.
Marie’s lais can be associated with the songs of the troubadours whose native land was Provence and whose subject matter, was chivalry and courtly love. Troubadours (langue d’oc) flourished until the Black Death (1346 – 1353), the plague. In northern France, they were called trouvères and spoke langued’oil.
Walter of England also lived in England in the 12th century, following the Battle of Hastings. He wrote Æsopic fables in Anglo-Norman. The history of fables is shrouded in mystery, so Walter has been considered the ‘anonymous Neveleti,’ the 17th-century fabulist whose collection of fables, the Mythologia Æsopica, in Latin, was used by French fabulist Jean de La Fontaine. However, the attribution to an anonymous ‘Neveleti’ has been ruled false. La Fontaine used Isaac Nicholas Nevelet’s Mythologia Æsopica.
Nevertheless, Walter of England would be the author of a collection of 62 fables in verse. The “62 fables is more accurately called the verseRomulus.” (See Walter of England [Gualterus Anglicus], Wikipedia). However, this seems to be anotherfalse attribution. There was no Romulus. The medieval Æsop originated in Walter of England’s fables and elsewhere. Could it be that ‘Romulus’ meant Latin, from Rome?
John Lydgate and Robert Henryson
When English fabulist John Lydgate produced his Isopes Fabules, the first fable collection written in English, his source was long believed to be the verse Romulus, which it isn’t. As mentioned above, there was no Romulus. Lydgate’s source would probably be Walter of England’s collection of Æsop’s fables. In other words, John Lydgate’s English-language fables adapted Walter of England’s verse fables. Walter’s “The Cock and the Jewel” was used by Robert Henryson in his 15th-century Morall Fabillis, written in Scots. (See Walter of England [Gualterus Anglicus], Wikipedia).
In short, after the Battle of Hastings, Normandy or France was briefly remembered by Marie de France and Walter of England. In the 12th century, ‘Æsopic’ fables were told in Anglo-Norman, a transitional language but one that has survived in literature.
Gone are knights in shining armour and short fables. From literature written in the Anglo-Norman period, we will glimpse the literary legacy of the Hundred Years’ War, Geoffrey Chaucer. An amused public is reading the lengthy anthropomorphicRoman de Renart, while Chaucer translates at least part of the 22,000-line Roman de la Rose, an allegoricalpoem epitomising courtly love.
Sources and Resources
Four of Marie’s lais are a Project Gutenberg [EBook #46234] EN publication
Marie’s Medieval Romances and some lais are a Project Gutenberg [EBook #11417]
I was hoping to discuss Richard de Fournival’s Bestiaire d’amourFR (1201- ?1260) a medieval philosopher and trouvère (Northern French: langue d’oïl). Trouvères (from trouveur: finder) were Northern France‘s counterparts for troubadours, who spoke in langue d’oc, from old Occitane French. The trouvères and troubadours composed and sang songs associated with chivalry and the code of conduct of Knights, surprisingly consistent with the rules of courtly love. They traveled from court to court but disappeared at the time the Black Death, but not necessarily because of the plague.
Although I will attempt to show a few illuminations from the Bestiaire d’amour, images are difficult to find. Moreover, having reread the text, I believe we need a broader starting-point. Richard de Fournival wrote a Bestiary, but it is a bestiary of love, courtly love. Moreover, Master Richard’s Bestiary is allegorical as is the Roman de la Rose.Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1343 – 25 October 1400) who transformed Saint Valentine’s Day into the romantic feast it has become, translated part the Roman de la Rose as the Romaunt of the Rose and included his translation in his Legend of Good Women, a poem.
It would be difficult to trace the origins of courtly love. I should think it constitutes a permanent feature of love, but a feature that finds pinnacles at certain points in history. For instance, Roman poet Ovid, Publius Ovidius Naso (43 BCE – 18 CE), known mainly for his Metamorphoses, wrote:
The very title of Remedia Amoris suggests that once the lover is wounded by Cupid‘s arrow, he is possessed by love. Love is viewed as a disease. Such is the case with Tristan and Yseult (or Yseut, Iseult, Isolde…). Tristan has to take Iseult to Cornwall where she will marry his uncle Mark. As they are sailing from Ireland to Cornwall, she and Tristan mistakenly drink the love potion Yseult was to drink with Mark on their wedding night. Tristan and Yseult are now inescapably “in love” (l’amour fatal). Yseult marries Mark, but on their wedding night, her maid, a virgin, sleeps with Mark. As for Yseult, she spends the night with Tristan and sneaks back to her husband’s room in the morning.
The Celtic legend of Tristan and Yseult (EN) Tristan et Iseut (FR), was written in France, in a Norman language, by 12th-century Norman poet Béroul, and in Old French, by 12th-century British poet Thomas of Britain. The story of Tristan and Yseult has exerted considerable influence on Western art. Among other works, it inspired:
However, the quest of chivalric epic poems is a quest for the Holy Grail. As for courtly love, its Holy Grail is the heart of a woman who has not swallowed a magical love potion and whose love her suitor must earn by following rules of conduct, as in chivalry.
The lady stands with one hand touching the unicorn’s horn, and the other holding up the pennant. The lion sits to the side and looks on.
The lady is taking sweets from a dish held by a maidservant. Her eyes are on a parakeet on her upheld left hand. The lion and the unicorn are both standing on their hind legs reaching up to pennants that frame the lady on either side. The monkey is at her feet, eating one of the sweetmeats.
The lady stands, making a wreath of flowers. Her maidservant holds a basket of flowers within her easy reach. Again, the lion and unicorn frame the lady while holding on to the pennants. The monkey has stolen a flower which he is smelling, providing the key to the allegory.
The lady plays a portative organ on top of a table covered with an Oriental rug. Her maidservant stands to the opposite side and operates the bellows. The lion and unicorn once again frame the scene holding up the pennants. Just as on all the other tapestries, the unicorn is to the lady’s left and the lion to her right – a common denominator to all the tapestries.
The lady is seated, holding a mirror up in her right hand. The unicorn kneels on the ground, with his front legs in the lady’s lap, from which he gazes at his reflection in the mirror. The lion on the left holds up a pennant.
À mon seul désir
This tapestry is wider than the others, and has a somewhat different style. The lady stands in front of a tent, across the top of which is written “À mon seul désir”, an obscure motto, variously interpretable as “my one/sole desire”, “according to my desire alone”; “by my will alone”, “love desires only beauty of soul”, “to calm passion”. Her maidservant stands to the right, holding open a chest. The lady is placing the necklace she wears in the other tapestries into the chest. To her left is a low bench with bags of coins on it. The unicorn and the lion stand in their normal spots framing the lady while holding onto the pennants.
This tapestry has elicited a number of interpretations. One interpretation sees the lady putting the necklace into the chest as a renunciation of the passions aroused by the other senses, and as an assertion of her free will. Another sees the tapestry as representing a sixth sense of understanding (derived from the sermons of Jean Gerson of the University of Paris, c. 1420). Various other interpretations see the tapestry as representing love or virginity. It is also debated whether the lady in “À mon seul désir” is picking up or setting aside the necklace.
Also notable is the mille-fleurs (thousand flowers) design which exerted an influence on further tapestries and rugs. Flowers and animals are also featured on oriental rugs.