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Cortois and vilain; a study of the distinctions made between them by the French and Provencal poets of the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries online

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acquired from his training and traditions a courtliness of bearing
that was entirely foreign to the peasant, reared outside the castle
walls and deprived of social intercourse on equal terms with its
inmates. 1 This distinction is made the most of by the courtly poets,
though its original significance with respect to social caste is often
overlooked: e.g. Du Prestre et d' Alison, Fabliaux ii 31, vv. 23-25:

Fille estoit a une Borgoise,

Ainz nule n'en vi plus cortoise,

Certes, ne de meillor maniere.

(a) THE CORTOIS HAS POLISHED MANNERS.

Courteous treatment of ladies was. an essential part of the code
of manners of the cortois. Chretien de Troies in Cliges, vv. 1349-
51, says that Alixandres, as an act of cortoisie, gave into the queen's
charge the first prisoner he took as a knight :

Alixandres par corteisie

Sa premiere chevalerie

Done et presante la re'ine.

In vv. 8429-32 of Perceval, Chretien commends Gawain as debonair e
et cortois for assisting a maiden to mount her palfrey. In vv.
3169-73 of Perceval, he terms Perceval's gentle reception of his
hostess, who came to him in the night to implore his aid, cortoisie.
In vv. 11687-99 of Perceval we are told how "the king, who was
very cortois toward everyone," sent an abundance of provisions to
the besieged maidens in whose behalf his aid had been solicited. In

^ee Schultz, Das Hofische Leben, vol. i, pp. 155-6.



CORTOIS AND V 1 LAIN. 17

vv. 11784-98 of Perceval a similar act is ascribed to Kay and termed
grant cortoisie. La Clef d' Amors, vv. 1037-43, says that one should
praise his lady cortoisenient, i.e. as the cortois does, for even if she
is not beautiful she will believe the praise and rejoice at it. The
-attitude of the cortois toward his lady is summed up in the words
of the lady Ydoine in her regret for her absent lover, the cortois
Count Garsiles; Bartsch, A. R. u. P., i 57, vv. 36-7:

tant estes dous et frans, cortois et debonaire,

c'onques riens envers moi ne vousistes mesfaire.
The cortois showed his breeding in his salutation. The Roman
de Thebes, vv. 3897-8, refers to a salutation made in the manner
>of the cortois:

Vers lei en vait isnelement,

Salua la corteisement.
So also Flamenca, vv. 6451-3:

Flamenca fon mout plasentiera

Et aculli los volontiera

E cortesamenz los saluda. 1

The cortois, when in the presence of a royal person, saluted him
>r her first, and then the rest of the assembly. Thebes, vv. 1267-70:

Tydeiis fu proz et corteis:

A cheval vint devant le deis,

Le rei salue et son barnage,

Et en apres dist son message. -

When no royal person was present the code of cortois behaviour
required that the person of highest rank should be first saluted,
then the others present. Du prestre et du chevalier, Fabliaux ii 34,
vv. 264-5 :

Si saluent courtoisement

Le chevalier et se maisnie.

Vv. 3698-3700 of L'Atre Peril Ions mention the obligation resting
upon the cortois to make a salutation first before otherwise address-
ing the person whom he encounters :

Mesire Gavains li demande,
Mais qu'il Tot salue ancois
Come debonnaire et cortois.

^ee also Le Chevalier d I'Epee, vv. 274-5; Blancandin, vv. 885-6; Bartsch,
A. R. u. P., i 70, v. 21, and ii 50, vv. 9-10.

2 See also Perceval, vv. 30936-8; Flamenca, vv. 818-21.



1 8 CORTOIS AND VI LAIN.

Cf. also Thebes \ vv. 1267-1270, quoted above. It was the duty of
a cortois person, when saluted, to make a salutation in return,
Perceval, vv. 33065-71 :

Quant Gau wains 1'a bien esgardee,

Moult hautement l'a saluee

De Dieu le pere omnipotent ;

Le damoisele n'i atent

Ne tant ne quant, ains se leva

Et moult biel le resalua

Com cele qui moult ert cortoise. 1

As the cortois saluted when meeting another person, so he took
formal leave when quitting another's presence. Chretien de Troies
mentions a cortois leave-taking in Lancelot, vv. 595-9 :

Li chevalier congie ont pris

Come cortois et bien apris

A la dameisele, et si Font

Saluee, puis si s'an vont

Si con la rote aler an virent. 2

Andre le Chapelain, De Amove, p. 309, refers to this custom in the
words, et abeundi curialiter accepta licentia.

When approached by a stranger, or when so concealed by armour
that his identity was in doubt, the cortois was bound by courtly
etiquette to give his name when asked for it. In vv. 1932-9 of
Lancelot Chretien defines the giving of one's name when it is re-
quired as cortoisie:

Et dist : "Sire, or ai grant anvie

Que je seiisse vostre non ;

Diriiez le me vos?" "Je non,"

Fet li chevaliers, "par ma foi."

"Certes," fet il, "ce poise moi ;

Mes se vos le me disiiez,

Grant corteisie feriiez,

S'i porriiez avoir grant preu."

The remaining passages which illustrate this point appear in those
portions of Perceval which were written by Chretien's successors :

a See also Perceval, vv. 40799-40801 ; Tydorel, vv. 55-7.
2 See also Perceval, vv. 44841-2; Du prestre teint, Fabliaux vi 139, vv..
278-9; Du prestre et du chevalier, Fabliaux ii 34, vv. 978-9.



CORTOIS AND VILAIN. 19

vv. 12075-7, 23526-8, 23769-71, 24899-24904, 28248-53, 33012-15,
34322-5. The reason why it was considered cortoisie for a man to
make known his identity is explained in vv. 6174-7 of L'Atre Peril-
lous, where it is shown that unwillingness to fight with one who
was unworthy prompted a man to find out the name of his opponent
before beginning a combat :

Car ice m'ensegna mon mestre

Ca home ne me conbatisse,

Que son non ne li enqueisse,

Si n'iere pas faus ne vilain.

The same reasons naturally applied to ordinary intercourse also;
ibid., vv. 5038-47.

The cortois displayed his courtesy in all his actions. When
walking with a lady he went upon her right hand. Lc Chevalier
a I'Epee, vv. 263-5 :

Li ostes, qui n'ert pas vilain,

L'a prise par la destre main,

Si 1'a en la sale amenee.
Du prestre et du chevalier, Fabliaux ii 34, v. 678 :

Biel et courtoisement Padestre.

The manner in which he seated himself beside his lady showed his
breeding. Fabliaux iv 108, vv. 58-59:

Lez li s'asist cortoisement,

Et la damoisele lez lui.
He accepted a favor graciously. Perceval, vv. 41614-6:

De la reube li font present,

Et cil moult gentement le prist

Cui sens et cortoisie aprist.

It was an act of cortoisie for a maiden to give her champion a gage
to wear in the combat. Perceval, vv. 6794-7 :

Je vos comanc et abandon,

For c,ou que sera courtoisie,

Que vous aucune druerie

Li envoies, u mance, u gimple.

Cortoisie required the recipient of the gage to treat it with respect.
"Flamenca, vv. 7792-4:

Guillems pren la marga corren,

Desplega la cortesamen,

Dedins 1'escut la fes pausar.



20 CORTOIS AND VILAIN.

Even the most commonplace action might be performed in a way
to indicate breeding. Vv. 2225-7 of Flamenca say that Guillem
washed, then laced his sleeves mout cortesamen, an expression which
Paul Meyer translates elegamnient.

(b) THE VILAIN HAS RUDE MANNERS.

An unpolished and rude manner is attributed to the vilain, espe-
cially in his relations with women. In Perceval, vv. 6737-9, Gawain
says that he would be vilain if he refused his aid to the petite fille
(v. 6711):

"Certes, fait mesire Gauwains,

Dont seroie-jou trop vilains

Se sa volente ne faisoie.

Crossing a woman's will is also the theme of vv. 38636-42 of Perce-
val, in which Gorgaris is represented as laying his hand upon the
reins of Lady Damelehaut's palfrey to detain her against her wish.
She says to him in remonstrance, vv. 38639-42 :

. . . "Biaus sire, avoi ! avoi !

N'a mon frain n'a mon palefroi

Ne metes a mon pois la main ;

Car moult feries que vilain."

In vv. 2150-4 of Perceval, King Arthur tells Perceval of the gross
discourtesy of the Red Knight to the queen, and terms is oevre . .
vilaine. In vv. 5210-11 of Lancelot, news which causes the queen
to grieve is said not to be cortoise, i.e. vilaine. Ga wain's bride,
deserted by him, refers to his unceremonious departure as grant
vilenie in vv. 1154-7 of Le Chevalier a l'pee. Personal violence
to women, or permitting such violence in one's presence, was con-
sidered vilenie. Erec, vv. 4827-31 :

"Ostez, sire!" font il au conte.

"Mout devriiez avoir grant honte,

Qui ceste dame avez ferue

Por ce que ele ne manjue.

Trop grant vilenie avez feite."
Ibid., vv. 198-200 :

Mout est li chevaliers vilains,

Quant il sofri que teus feiture

Feri si bele creature. 1

a See also Chevalier a I'fLpee, vv. 923-5 ; Du chevalier qui fist les c. parler,
Fabliaux vi 147, vv. 152-5.



CORTO1S AND VILAIN. 21

We have seen above that the cortois gave his name when asked
for it. Refusal to name himself rendered a man liable to the charge
of vilenie. Perceval, vv. 32968-9:

Je ne vos quier mon nom celer,

Que jou feroie vilounie.
L'Atre Perillous, vv. 5738-40:

Aniex seroie et vilains

Se jou a vous ni a autrui

Celoie jamais, qui je sui.

Vv. 32936-45 of Perceval relate how Gawain came up to Perce-
val, who was meditating upon the drops of blood on the snow and
mentally comparing the contrasted colors with those of his lady's
face, and shook him. Perceval, rudely startled from his reverie,
terms Gawain's discourtesy vilonie (vv. 32938-41) :

"Vassal, fait-il, trop grant posnee

Faites issi quant me boutes

Et desacies et dehurtes ;

Sachies que c'est grant vilonie."

The Roman de la Rose, i p. 123, gives the details of the uncouth
actions of an angry zvlain :

Lors leva li vilains la hure,

Frote ses iex et ses behure,

Fronce le nes, les iex rooille,

Et fu plains d'ire et de rooille,

Quant il s'oi si mal mener.

Vv. 49-54 of Du vilain an buffet, Fabliaux iii 80, describe the glut-
tony of a vilain :

Et li vilains, comme porciaus,

S'encressoit, et plains ses bouciaus

Bevoit de vin en larrecin,

Maint eras chapon et maint pucin

Menja toz seus en sa despensse ;

A autre honor fere ne pensse.

La Clef d'Atnors, vv. 3241-4, warns against the eating of garlic
alone, remarking that it is a vilaine thing for one to corrupt his
breath.



22 CORTOIS AND VILAIN.

IV.

THE CORTOIS IS GENTLE AND COURTEOUS IN SPEECH; THE VILAIN IS
ROUGH IN SPEECH.i

(a) THE CORTOIS IS GENTLE AND COURTEOUS IN SPEECH.

Mediaeval poetry, both French and Provengal, is full of evidence
that there was a manner of speech distinctly cortois. As early as
the Chanson de Roland we find references to this fact. Vv. 1164
and 3823 :

Si lur ad dit im mot curteisement :

Curteisement a 1'empereor dit.

In the I2th century similar expressions appear in Thebes, v. 989;
Alexandre (io-syll., Arsenal Ms.), Meyer i p. 45, vv. 456-7; Erec,
v. 1207; Lancelot, v. 242; Guillaume D'Angleterre, v. 2242; Perce-
val, vv. 2792, and 9343-4; Bertrand de Born, Rayn. Choix iv, p. 171 :

Lo sors Enrics dis paraula corteza.

In the 1 3th century references to a cortois fashion of speech are
found in the Chevalier a I'Spee, vv. 300-303 ; LAtre Perillous, vv.
1273, 3073, 5505. and 6426-7; Perceval, vv. 15746, 10746, and
43082; Flamenca, vv. 6885-6, 7341-3, and 3602; Le Roman de la
Rose, i p. 109; Le Jugement des c., Fabliaux v 122, v. 32; the
Romans de un chivaler, etc., Fabliaux ii 50, vv. 275, 325-6, and 484;
Du prestre et du chevalier, Fabliaux ii 34, vv. 797 and 1285; La
Clef d' Amors, v. 509; Le Breviari d'Amor, vv. 29159-60, 30017,
and 30967; Blancandin, vv. 587-8, 2716, and 3505-7.

Indirect evidence of the existence of a form of speech peculiar
to cortoisie, and of its superiority, is found in the following pas-
sages. Lancelot, vv. 40-2 :

Si ot avuec Ii, ce me sanble,

Mainte bele dame cortoise,

Bien parlant an langue frangoise.
Bernard de Ventadour, Rayn. Choix iii, p. 87 :

Cum es ben faitz, e ben chauzitz

De cortezia e de bels ditz.

Tydorel, vv. 397-8; Le sentier batu, Fabliaux iii 85, vv. 33-4.
Bartsch, A. R. u. P., ii 72, v. 4.



^his section is logically a subdivision of the preceding one.



CORTOIS AND VILAIN. 23

That gentleness was a characteristic of cortois speech is indicated
by the following passages. Pel. de Charlemagne, v. 710:

Purquant si fut curteise, gente parole at dite.
Erec, vv. 4077-81 :

Biaus nies Gauvains, ce dist li rois,

S'onques fustes frans ne cortois,

Alez apres isnelemant,

Demandez amiablemant

De son estre et de son afeire.
Breinari d'Amor, quoting from Garis lo Brus, vv. 32240-1 :

Cortezia es d'amar

Et es de gent parlar. 1

An illustration of this gentleness of speech is found in passages
which represent the cortois man as first calling down God's blessing
upon the one whom he addresses, and sometimes also upon the
others present. Perceval, vv. 12044-6:

Cortoisement et biau li dist :

"Cil Diex vos saut et gart, pucele,

Qui vos fist issi gente et biele !" 2
Dn mantel mautaillic, Fabliaux iii 55, vv. 138-141 :

Quant en la sale fu entre,

Cortoisement et biau parla :

"Gel Diex," fet il, "qui tout forma,

Saut et gart ceste compaignie."

In his ordinary conversation, also, the cortois man was polite and
courteous. Pel. de Charlemagne, vv. 716-717:

La fille fu bien cointe, e il dist que curteis :

"Dame, mult estes bele, estes fille de rei . . "
Perceval, vv. 594-8:

Li sire est contre lui venus,

Si li a dit courtoisement :

"Biaus amis, se Dex vous ament,

De vos noveles nos contes,

Des plus voires que vous saves." 3

'See also Perceval, vv. 3085-90; Roman de la Rose, i p. 41.
2 See also Perceval, vv. 12037-9; ibid., vv. 41373-7.
8 See also Perceval, vv. 2109-13 ; ibid., vv. 12624-7.



24 CORTOIS AND V 1 LAIN.

Jaufre, Appel, Prov. direst, St. 3, vv. 212-5 :

e respondet cortesamens :

"Franc cavallier, per Dieu non sia ;

vailla mi ta cavallaria,

ton pretz e ton enseinament.
Blancandin, vv. 1707-1710:

L'enfes respont par cortoisie :

"Dame, QOU ne refus jou mie.

For vostre amiste a conquerre

Vous aiderai de ceste guerre."

There is a considerable number of didactic passages which have
reference to the manner of speech of the cortois. The Roman de la-
Rose ', i p. 70, directs, the man who would be cortois to be clean in
his speech:

Apres, garde que tu ne dies

Ces ors moz ne ces ribaudies ;

Ja por nomer vilaine chose

Ne doit ta botiche estre desclose :

Je ne tiens pas a cortois homme

Qui orde chose et lede nomme.

Vv. 65-70, 79-80, of De Courtoisie advise him not to talk overmuch,
and when he does open his mouth not to speak slander or in
controversy. Vv. 30180-4 of the Breviari d'Amor warn the cortois
lover against garrulity:

E si per lor parlairias

Perdol gaug de lor amias,

Mot grans dretz e grans rasos es,

Pueis qu'elhs so ta mal cortes

Que lor dona lor mostra orguelh.

Andre le Chapelain, De Amore, p. 65, states that slander is foreign
to cortoisie : Hominum nulli debet suis dictis detrahere, quia male-
did intra curialitatis non possunt limina permanere. The same idea
is implied in Li Fablel dou Dieu d' Amours, p. 18:

Trestout se teurent, li loussignos parla :

"Signour, dist-il, cius ki bien amera,

Ja de nului, s'il puet, mesdira ;

Mais preus, et sages, et cortois estera."

De Courtoisie, vv. 234-6, 240-1, instructs the cortois not to swear
at all. Vv. 223-233 of De Courtoisie give him minute directions as-



CORTOIS AND VILAIN. 25

to his bearing when addressing another, and add that his speech
should be without laughter and without oaths.

The advantages of speaking cortoisement, i.e. as the cortois
does, are referred to by Blondel de Neele, ed. Tarbe p. 43, and in
Blancandin, vv. 2403-6:

Penses de vos barons amer,

Et de cortoisement parler.

Si ne vous laisseront jamais,

Ains vous tenront la terre en pais.

The cortois answered when spoken to. Not to do so is charac-
terized in Flamenca, vv. 6834-5, as a lack of cortoisie :

Es cortezia ques estez

Que vos ab mi ar nom paries?
Cf . Perceval, vv. 23040-3 :

Se fuscies plains de cortoisie,

Quant devant moi ci trespastes

Et onques . i . mot ne parlastes,

Ce fu outrages et orgious.

(b) THE VILAIN IS ROUGH IN SPEECH.

The vilain, according to the ideals of the mediaeval poets, had
a manner of speech as peculiarly his own as that of the man versed
in the arts of cortoisie. Le Comte de Poitiers, Rayn. Choix v, p.
118:

E que s guart en cort de parlar

Vilanamens.
Perceval, v. 2455 :

Et sa langue fole et vilaine. 1

The vilain s speech was rough and abusive. Guillaume d'Angleterrc,.
vv. 1519-22:

Li vilains tot li reprocha

Come cil qui male boche a

Et dit et fet au pis qu'il puet

Si con de nature li muet.
Perceval, vv. 17961-3:

Lors dist mesire Brandelis

Que vilains, mais il ert maris;

L'enfant fil a putain clama.

1 See also Blancandin, v. 1471 ; Doctrinal le Sauvage, stanza 19.



.26 CORTOIS AND VILAIN.

Fergus,, vv. 478-483:

Lors commenche ses felons dis

Itels con a vilain convient.

"Fius a putain, dont vos cou vient

D'armes requerre et demander?

Bues et vaches deves garder

Comme vostre autre frere font." 1

When the object of the zrilain's displeasure was not present to be
abused, he was slandered to others. Marie de France, Lais, Le
Praisne, vv. 477-479:

Jadis par ma grant vileinie

de ma veisine dis folie.

De ses dous enfanz mesparlai.
Raimond de Miravals, Rayn. Choix iii, p. 358 :

Q'uns malapres, vilas, cobes, avars,

Outracuiatz parliers de mals parlars,

Es aculhitz enans que nos.
Perceval, vv. 19741-2 :

Ne dites pas de lui folie,

Car QOU seroit grans vilonie.
Le Roman de la Rose, i p. 92-93 :

Mes uns vilains qui grant honte ait,

Pres d'ilecques repost s'estoit.

Ne fu mie seus li gaignons,

Aingois avoit a compaignons

Male-Bouche le gengleor,

Et avec lui Honte et Paor. 2

The Dauphin d'Auvergne, Rayn. Choix iv, p. 259, extends vilenie
to include also the truth spoken of another, providing it be of an
unpleasant nature:

L'evesques me dis mal segon sa fellonia,

Et ieu li port ades honor e cortesia ;

Mas s'ieu dir en volgues so qu'ieu dir en sabria,

El perdria Fevescat et ieu ma cortesia.

1 See also Roman de la Rose, i pp. 95-6; De Florance et de Blanche Flor,
vv. 113-9; Claris, vv. 26570-3; La Clef d' Amors, vv. 2649-2656.

2 See also Lai d'lgnaures, vv. 421, 424-6; Doctrinal le Sauvage, stanza 15:
-Claris, vv. 24362-3; Le Breiiari d'Amor, vv. 33656-8; Lai d'Aristote, Fabliaux
v 137, vv. 20-22.



CORTOIS AND VILAIN. 27

Slander seemed to the poets to be so characteristic of the vilain
that they termed it vilenie. I lie et Galeron, vv. 1606-1610:

Illes n'ot onques jour loisir

De dire a nului vilonie

Ne ramprosne ne felonie ;

N'ert mie vilains chevaliers,

N'apres les armes malparliers.
Marie de France, Lais, Guigemar, vv. 7-11:

Mais quant il a en un pais

hume ne femme de grant pris,

cil ki de sun bien unt envie

sovent en die'nt vileinie,

sun pris li vuelent abaissier.
Lancelot, vv. 412-413:

S'ot li chevaliers mout de lui

Vilenies et despiz dire. 1

A man was looked upon as vilain, not only when he slandered others,
but also when he allowed another to be slandered in his presence
without remonstrance. Perceval, vv. 14965-7:

Car n'est pas courtois qui il plaist

Oir celui ki conte et dit

Qui de france dame mesdit.
L'Atre Perillons, vv. 3731-6:

J'amai tant mon segnor Gavain,

Ke je feroie que vilain,

Se je soufroie qiril eust

Reproce la u mes cors fust.

Ne se il a mort u a vie

Estoit jetes de vilenie. 2

To threaten too much was looked upon as characteristic of the
vilain. Li Fablel dou Dieu d' Amours, p. 33 :

Sire, fist-il, trop poes manechier.

Vilonie est d'omme qui tant manache.

^ee also Yvain, pp. 2212-3; Gaucelm Faidit, Rayn. Choi.v iii, p. 294;
Dolopathos, vv. 10167-9; Le Breznari d'Amor, vv. 30102-5.
2 See also Gorra, Le Cowrt d'Amor, p. 295.



2 8 CORTOIS AND VILAIN.

The vilain was apt to talk too much. Perceval, vv. 4384-9:

Que del casti li souvenoit

Celui ki chevalier le fist,

Ki li ensegna et aprist

Que de trop parler se gardast ;

Et crient, se il le demandast,

C'on le tenist a vilounie.

Gaberie (raillery, mockery) is implied to be characteristic of
the vilain in the fabliaux. Du Prestre et d' Alison, Fabl. ii 31, vv.

153-5:

Fait Alizon ; "C'est vilenie

De povre meschine de vie
Gaber, qui a petit avoir." 1



V.

THE CORTOIS HAS MESURE; THE VILAIN LACKS MESURE.
(a) THE CORTOIS HAS MESURE.

The troubadour Marcabrus defines cortezia as the observance
of me sura, Rayn. Choir iii, p. 373 :

De cortezia s pot vanar

Qui ben sap mezura gardar;

E qui tot vol auzir quant es,

Ni tot quant es cuida amassar,

Del tot Tes ops a mezurar,

O ja non sera trop cortes.

The obligation resting upon the cortois to conduct himself with
moderation is thus expressed in De Courtoisie, vv. 85-88:

Seietz de beau contienement,

Si vous portetz meienement,

Ne trop haut ne trop bas,

Ke nul ne pusse fere ses gas !

*See also Du mantel mautaillie, Fabl. iii 55, vv. 664-5 '> Du vallet qui d'aise
d malaise se met, Fabl. ii 44, vv. 39-40.

2 See Professor H. R. Lang's note on page 165 of the Cancioneiro Gallego-
Castelhano, in which he quotes from Las Siete Partidas of Alphonse X of
Castile a passage in which mesure is mentioned as one of four cardinal virtues.
He also quotes, p. 166, from a French Doctrinal of 1287 the words : Mesure
est precious tesmoing de san et de courtoisie.



CORTOIS AND VILAIN. 29

The ideas of cortoisie and me sure are associated in the Breviari
d'Amor, v. 30588:

E cortes et amezuratz,
and in L'Atre Perillous, vv. 4997-9:

K'il avoit fait cortois et sage,

Sans vilonnie et sans outrage,

Sans orguel et sans desmesure.

The earliest example I have found of the application of the term
cortois to those who practice moderation appears in the Chanson dc
Roland, v. 3796 ff. The statement is made, v. 3796, that Icil
d'Ahrerne i snnt li plus curteis; the reason, given in the lines which
follow, is that they counselled moderation in the treatment of Gane-
lon, because Roland was dead and the traitor's punishment, however
severe, could not bring him to life. In Chretien's Perceval, vv.
9497-9504, Gawain's moderate statement of his own worth is char-
acterized by his interlocutor as grant court oisie:

"Dame, dit-il, jou n'oseroie

Dire que des plus prisies soie ;

Ne me fac mie des mellors*,.-

Ne ne quic estre des pfiipuVs."

Et ele li respont : '".I>iaus sire,

Grant courtoisi& vos oc dire

Que en vous ne metes le pris

Del mius ne del blasme le pis.

In vv. 1002-8 of Le Chevalier a I'fcpee, Gawain is termed cortois
and resnable because he exercises self-control under the influence
of strong emotion :

Quant mes sire Gauvains ce voit,

Sachiez qu'il en fu mout marri

Qu'ele Tot de son gre guerpi ;

Mes tant estoit et preu et sage,

Et si cortois et si resnable,

Que onques mot ne li sona,

Ja soit ce que mout li pesa.

The Breviari d'Amor, vv. 33836-7, ascribes cortezia to all who are
patient. Excess in drink is warned against in De Courtoisie, vv.
254-9. Contentment with one's lot is recommended in vv. 242-250
of the same work. Vv. 93-95 of De Courtoisie advise one to be



30 CORTOIS AND VILAIN.

slow to anger when evil is spoken of him. The cortois gained his
end by peaceful means when possible; Erec, vv. 4414-6.

The cortois is ready to pardon his enemies when they ask for
mercy. Yvain, vv. 5784-5794:

Merci et pes li vont requerre

Totes les janz qui dit li orent

Tant de honte com il plus porent,

Si le vont einsi convoiant ;

Et il dit qu'il n'an set neant.

"Je ne sai," fet il, "que vos dites,

Et si vos an claim trestoz quites ;

Qu'onques chose que j'a mal taingne

Ne de'istes, don moi sovaingne."

Cil sont mout lie de ce qu'il oent

Et sa corteisie mout loent.
Doctrinal Le Sauvage, strophe 48 :

Et si soit si cortois s'il en vient au deseure,

S'on li crie merci, qu'il pardoinst en pou d'eure. 1
In vv. 1357-62 of Cliges, Alixandres is termed cortois because of
his merciful treatment of his prisoners. The quality of mercy was
a commonplace in the love poetry of the troubadours, and in the
following passages is mentioned together with cortezia. Arnaud de
Marueil, Rayn. Choix iii, p. 212:

E doncs, domna, valha m vostre secors,

E vensa vos merces e cortezia.
La Comtesse de Die, Rayn. Choix iii, p. 22 :

Quar ieu 1'am mais que nulha res que sia :

Vas lui no m val merces ni cortezia.

(b) THE VILAIN LACKS MESURE.

In two passages the vilairis lack of moderation is referred to
as demesure. Erec, vv. 1793-5, places vilenie and desmesure in the
same category :

Je suis rois, ne doi pas mantir,

Ne vilenie consantir,

Ne faussete ne desmesure.

^ee also Perceval, vv. 41057-60; Bartsch, A. R. u. P., ii 35, vv. 19-20.



CORTOIS AND VILAIN. 3*

A similar association of ideas is found in the Breviari d'Amor, vv,


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