The Medieval Pastourelle
As a Satirical Genre
THE INEVITABLE ASSOCIATION of the word "pastourelle" with scenes of country life and the innocent pleasures of the dance has not been without its effect on the criticism of the pastourelle as a literary genre. Even a critic such as Jeanroy, 1 who clearly recognizes the essentially aristocratic nature of the genre, is reluctant to give up altogether the idea of an origin in folk-poetry and the rustic dance. The present study proposes to deal only incidentally with the question of the origin of the pastourelle. Much more interesting for the study of the courtly lyric in general is the development of the pastourelle type as a poem stressing the social inequalities of contemporary society and making use of these inequalities to produce a type of realistic love poem which should act as a counterblast to the more idealistic poetry of the troubadours and Minnesinger. The satirical element develops gradually but its method is basically simple. It held up to ridicule the knight who was prepared to consort with the members of a despised class to gratify sensual desires and whose love passages are therefore as far from the spiritual ecstasies of the writers of the courtly lyric as it is possible to imagine. The study of the extant examples of the pastourelle which follows lays stress on those aspects which may be regarded as satirical. That there were other elements cannot be doubted but, as the following analysis will show, there can be little doubt of the satirical intent of the vast majority of the poems.
The development of the genre has been studied in some detail in several works, of which the most recent is that by Piguet. 2 Brinkmann, both in Entstehungsgeschichte des Minnesangs and in Lateinische Liebesdichtung desMittelalters