French Chivalry: Chivalric Ideas and Practices in Mediaeval France

By Sidney Painter | Go to book overview

III
RELIGIOUS CHIVALRY

WHILE the conditions of life in their natural habitat, the feudal court and the field of battle, were encouraging the nobles of France to develop the ethical ideas discussed in the last chapter, two alien environments, the cloister and the bedroom, were forcing other points of view on their attention. Churchmen and ladies were creating, and propagating their own distinct and rather contradictory conceptions of the perfect nobleman. The first of these, the chivalric ideas propounded by ecclesiastics, will be the subject of this chapter. Since one of the chief functions of the church was to teach the Christian mode of life, there had, of course, been no time since the evangelization of the Teutonic barbarians when the clergy was not attempting to modify the ethical ideas and practices of the warriors of western Europe. They had tried to confine the robust lust of the Frankish aristocrats within the bounds of permanent monogamic marriage and had sought to curb their pride, avarice, and gluttony. Even more important from the point of view of society were the church's persistent efforts to reduce the aristocratic propensity to homicide and rapine or at least to mitigate its results. Although as early as the time of St. Augustine the church had modified its original abhorrence of all homicide to permit the killing of enemies and the execution of criminals at the com

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French Chivalry: Chivalric Ideas and Practices in Mediaeval France
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • I - The Nobles of France 1
  • II - Feudal Chivalry 28
  • III - Religious Chivalry 65
  • IV - Courtly Love 95
  • V - Criticisms and Compromises 149
  • Index 173
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