French Chivalry: Chivalric Ideas and Practices in Mediaeval France

By Sidney Painter | Go to book overview

V
CRITICISMS AND COMPROMISES

THE reader who has perused the last three chapters must realize that mediaeval France knew neither a single ideal of knighthood nor a universally accepted code of chivalry. The three types of chivalry were to some extent at least irreconcilable. Léon Gautier performed to his own satisfaction the rather astonishing feat of fitting Raoul de Cambrai and Roland, feudal and religious chivalry, into one pattern, but he was forced to consign Lancelot and the courtly ideal to the outer darkness. The fact that these three sets of chivalric ideas were mutually exclusive was fully realized during the Middle Ages. Churchmen and trouvères paused now and then in the midst of propagating their own theories to take a shot at those of their rivals, and knightly writers did not hesitate to criticize both the religious and the courtly ideals. But while the three sets of chivalric ideas were irreconcilable as a whole, one could easily choose elements from each to form a consistent composite ideal. When trouvères described the heroes of their tales or didactic writers propounded codes of conduct for young nobles, they constructed perfect knights to suit their own tastes. My object in this chapter is to glance at some of the criticisms which churchmen, and protagonists, of courtly love made of each other's theories and of those of feudal chivalry

-149-

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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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