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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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Fleur de lis ou rose novele,
Quant primes nest el tans d'este,
Trespassoit ele de biaute.

Less direct evidence of the mediaeval poets' conception of the
beauty of the cortois is found in passages, of which there is a large
number, in which the ideas of cortoisie and beauty are closely
associated. E.g. Wace, Ron, vv. 235-7:

El pais out une pucele,

Gunnor out nun, mult par fu bele,

Bien afattie e bien curteise.



76 CORTOIS AND VILAIN.

Erec, w. 127-8:

Lez li Eric et sa pucele,

Qui mout estoit cortoise et bele. 1

(b) THE VILAIN IS UGLY.

Chretien de Troies in Yvain, vv. 288-302, describes at length
the repulsive appearance of a vilain whom the chevalier au lion
met in the forest when on his way to the fountain :

Un vilain qui ressanbloit mor,

Grant et hideus a desmesure,

(Einsi tres leide creature,

Qu'an ne porroit dire de boche),

Vi je seoir sor une goche,

Une grant mague an sa main.

Je m'aprochai vers le vilain,

Si vi qu'il ot grosse la teste

Plus que roncins ne autre beste,

Chevos meslez et front pele,

S'ot plus de deus espanz de le,

Oroilles mossues et granz,

Auteus com a uns olifanz,

Les sorciz granz et le vis platy

Danz de choete et nes de chat.

La Mule sanz Frain, v. 506, describes a vilain as being trestot
herupe. We have noticed above the charming picture of Cortoisie
given in the Roman de la Rose, i p. 41. Compare with it the fol-
lowing description of Vilonie, i p. 6:

Une ymage qui Vilonie

Avoit non, revi devers destre.



*A similar association of ideas is found in the following passages:
Erec, vv. 823, 1504-6, 3326-7; Lancelot, v. 2542; Yvain, vv. 703-4; Marie de
France, Lais, Equitan, vv. 55-7; ibid., Le Fraisne, vv. 243-4; ibid., Les Dons
Amanz, vv. 21-22; ibid., Milun, vv. 23-24; ibid., Yonec, vv. 21-22, 101-2; Marie
de France, Fables, Ixxiv, v. 1 1 ; Bernart de Ventadour, Rayn. Choix iii, p. 73 ;
Blondel de Neele, p. 69; Perceval, vv. 14147-8, 14258, 14281-2, 20105, 30855-6;
L'Atre Perillous, vv. 885-6. 6505-7; Aimeric de Belenoi, Appel, Prov. Chrest.,
St. 30, v. 34; Flamenca, vv 1785-7, 2215-8, 4137-9, 5848-51; Blancandin, vv.
2161-3, 2509-10, 3689-90; Fabliaux i n, vv. 279-280; ibid., iii 74, vv. 15-18;
ibid., iii 55, vv. 20-23; ibid., v 122, vv. 89-90; Le Breviari d'Amor, v. 29772;
Bartsch, A. R. u. P., ii 16, vv. 23-4.



CORTOIS AND VILAIN. 77

Bien sembloit male creature,

Et despiteuse et orguilleuse,

Et mesdisant et ramponeuse.

Moult sot bien paindre et bien portraire

Cil qui tiex ymages sot faire ;

Car bien sembloit chose vilaine,

De dolor et de despit plaine.

Ibid., i p. 95, there is a description of the vilcdn Dangiers. He was
tall and black and bristling, and had eyes red as fire; his nose was
wrinkled and his countenance hideous. In Bartsch, A. R. u. P., i 35,
v. 25, a vilain. is described as bossus et malestrus. Vv. 56-7 of
De Constant du Hamel, Fabliaux iv 106, add to the characterization
gros et malostrus a description of the unkempt and unwashed con-
dition of a vilain:

II n'est sovent rez ne tondus,
Ainz est et ors et deslavez.

Vv. 84-91 of Du irilain m buffet, Fabliaux iii 80, give a similar
description :

Atan tez .i. vilain Raoul,

Un bouvier qui vient de charrue;

Li seneschaus cele part rue

Ses iex, s'a choisi le vilain

Qui mout estoit de lait pelain :

Deslavez ert, s'ot chief locu ;

II ot bien .L. anz vescu,

Qu'il n'avoit eii coiffe en teste.

Vv. 109-113 of Du prestre et du chevalier, Fabliaux ii 34, charac-
terize vilains as "hideous as wolves or leopards."

An indirect reference to the ugliness of the vilain is found itv
Yvain, vv. 796-9:

Mes plus de gant foiz se seigna
De la mervoille que il ot,
Comant Nature feire sot
Oevre se leide et si vilainne.



78 CORTOIS AND VILAIN.

XVII.

THE CORTOIS IS INTELLIGENT; THE VILAIN IS STUPID,
(a) THE CORTOIS IS INTELLIGENT.

The superior intelligence of the cortois was much insisted upon
by the mediaeval writers in France and Provence. De Court oisie,
vv. 37-43, recommends to one who would be cortois, wise judgment:

Apres estut, qe soietz sage,

Qe ja ne facetz outrage;

Mes de tute rien qe fere deuetz

Premerement vous purpensetz,

A quel chef vous purretz trere !

S'il est bon, bien est a fere,

S'il est mal, se le lessetz !

Vv. 1357-64 of Guillaume d'Angleterre mention the superior intelli-
gence of two cortois children :

Quant li aufant batisie furent,

Tant amanderent e't tant crurent,

Quant ce vint au chief de dis anz,

N'ot el monde plus biaus anfanz,

Plus cortois ne plus afeitiez;

Qu'apris les ot et anseigniez

Bone nature qui tant vaut

Que por norreture ne faut.

In Perceval, vv. 7195-7201, we read of a girl who was so cortoise
and so well instructed that she did not fear being tricked by Gawain.
Ibid., vv. 12093-12108 describe the artistic skill of a Saracen maiden
who moult fu cortoise and moult fu sage. Vv. 376-387 of Le
Chevalier a I'Epee give an instance of the quick- wittedness of
cortois Gawain :

Endementres Gauvain apele

Et li a dit et conmanda

Qu'il ne s'en aut jusqu'il venra,

Et conmanda a un serjant

Que se il fait de rien sanblant,

Que il lou preignent demanois.

Gauvains, qui preuz ert et cortois,

Voit bien que remanoir 1'estuet

Et q'autrement estre ne puet ;

Si li avoit dit erranment

Que il n'avoit d'errer talent,

Por qu'il lo voille herbergier.



CORTOIS AND VILAIN. 79

The author of De la dame qui se venja du chevalier, Fabliaux vi
140, v. 227, expressed the relation between intelligence and cortoisie
in the words,

Car grant sens gist en cortoisie.

The Breviari d'Amor, vv. 32564-7, says that anyone might be
cortois who had wit enough to apply his criticisms of Others to
himself. In Le Court d } Amour, Gorra, p. 296, is found the fol-
lowing passage in which a cortois churchman is represented as
being so wise that he charmed his hearers by his fine reasoning:

Apres vi jou qui se leva

Un cortois canoisne rieule,

Si sage et si bien avise

Que le baillieu et ses barons

Fist liec par ses beles raisons.

The Roman de la Rose, i p. 41, defines the wisdom of Cortoisie as
modest and not overweening:

El ne fu ne nice n'umbrage,

Mes sages auques, sans outrage.

Matfre Ermengaud, in vv. 28669-74 of the Breviari d'Amor, ap-
proves Aimeric de Pegulhan's praise of folly, saying he has read
that a wise and cortois man knows how to be foolish at the proper
time:

E nous ne meravilhes ges

Si N'Aimeric lauzet foles,

Quar autre savi o an dig,

Et en mans luocx o trop escrig

Que eel es savis e cortes

Que sab foleja quan luocx es. 1

In the following passages cleverness and cunning are ascribed
to the cortois. Cliges, vv. 3270-6:

Thessala qui servir le voit

Panse que son servise pert,

Ou'a son deseritemant sert,

Si Tan enuie mout et poise,

Puis s'apanse come cortoise

Que del boivre servir fera

Celui cui joie et preuz sera.

*Cf. the well-known line of Horace (Odes iv, 12, v. 28) : Duke est
de sip ere in loco.



8o CORTOIS AND VILAIN.

De Constant du Hamel, Fabliaux iv 106, vv. 512-514:

La dame, qui n'ert pas vilaine,

Le sot tant de ses diz lober

Qu'el le fist enz el baing entrer.
Des braies au cordelier, Fabliaux iii 88, vv. 6-9 :

II avint, si com j'oi dire

Cuns clers amoit une borjoise

Qui moult estoit sage et cortoise;

Mout savoit d'enging et d'aguet.
Arnaud de Marueil, Rayn. Choix iii, p. 199:

No sai messatge tan cortes

Ni que mielhs seles totas res.

The inference to be drawn from the foregoing passages as to
the view of the mediaeval poets upon the subject of the superior
intelligence of the cortois is supported by a still larger number of
passages in which the ideas of wisdom and cortoisie are associated.
E.g. Le Couronnement de Louis, v. 379 :

Dist Tapostoiles, qui fu corteis et sages.
Wace, Brut, vv. 8689-90:

Gornois un quens Cornvalois

Mult prous et saiges et cortois.
Erec, vv. 1484-5 :

Qu'amie ot bele a desmesure,

Sage et cortoise et deboneire. 1

(b) THE VILAIN IS STUPID.

When the mediaeval poets mention the intelligence of the vilain
as a rule they characterize him as stupid. Thus v. i of De la
Sorisete des Estopes, Fabliaux iv 105 :

*For other examples of this association see the following passages:
Erec, v. 3315; Cliges, v. 2458; Lancelot, vv. 140-1 and 3214-5; Yvain, vv. 98,
1006-8, 2125, 5144, 5967; Perceval, vv. 508-9, 8010-3, 19866, 30290, 33246, 34798,
36116-7, 38271, 43140, 45014; Guillaume d'Angleterre, v. 1925; Marie de France,
Lais, Eliduc, vv. 134, 423; Guingamor, v. 10; Tyolet, vv. 535-6; Doon, v. 32;
L'Atre Perillous, vv. 87, 1670, 3846, 4490-1, 5713; Flamenca, vv. 1362, 2819,
6849-50; Le Roman de la Rose, i p. 21 ; Blancandin, vv. 22, 126, 5824 (cf. v.
5829) ; Fabliaux i 20, v. 105; ibid., ii 34, v. 906; ibid., ii 52, vv. 211-2; ibid.,
iii 70, v. 91; ibid., v no, v. 8; Le Breviari d'Amor, vv. 31334-7, 32052-3; De
Courtoisie, vv. 1-3; Bartsch, A. R. u. P., iii n, v. 9.



CORTOIS AND VILAIN. Si

Apres vos cont d'un vilain sot.
Bartsch, A. R. u. P., ii 23, v. 20:

si laissiez eel vilain sot.
Ibid., i 41, vv. 39-40:

Mes maris n'estes vos mie,

mauvais vilains rasoutes.
Le Roman de la Rose, i p. 74 :

Que cil vilains entule et sot :
Ibid., i p. 63 :

Onques tel response n'issi

D'omme vilain rnal enseignie :
Beroul in Tristan i p. 62 calls stupid story-tellers vilain:

Li contor dient que Yvain

Firent tuer, que sont vilain ;

N'en sevent mie bien 1'estoire.

Vv. 320-2 of Perceval refer to the stupidity of spoiling a good
story in the telling as grans vilonie :

Grans vilonie est et grans honte

De si bon conte desmenbrer,

Fors ensi com il doit aler.

N'Arnaut Guilhem de Marsan in his Ensenhamen, Appel, Prov.
direst., St. 112, vv. 55-62, directs that one should keep his eyes
and hands from seeming zrilas; and the way to do this, he says, is
to keep the eyes from looking stupid and to see to it that the hands
have understanding. 1

An important class of exceptions is to be noticed in this con-
nection, however. The mediaeval poet might say what he liked con-
cerning the lack of intelligence of the vilain, but he could not deny
him the shrewdness and homely wit always present among the
lower classes and expressed in their proverbial sayings. When
these popular sayings are quoted by the poets due credit is often
given to their originators. E.g. Philipe de Thaiin, Ciimpos, vv.
131-8:

1 Less direct evidence to the same effect is found in the following pas-
sages: Yvain, vv. 635-6; Guiraut de Calanso, Appel, Prov. Chrest., St. 34, v.
30. An exception is the fablel Du vilain qui conquist paradis par plait, Fab-
liaux iii Si ; see especially vv. 148-153.



82 CORTOIS AND V 1 LAIN.

(Jo dit en repruvier

Li vilains al buvier:

La pire ruelete

Criet de la charete;

Mult est la pume dure

Ki unkes ne maiire;

La verge est a preisier

Ki se laisset pleier.
Wace, Brut, vv. 4505-10:

Mai ferai por pis remanoir,

Ce tient li vilains a savoir,

Et un mal doit Fen bien sofrir

Por son corps de pojor garir,

Et por son anemi plaissier

Se doit Ton alcuns damagier.

Thebes, vv. 9057-8 :

Li vilains dit: "Qui glaive fait

Senz dotance a glaive revait." 1

XVIII.

THE CORTOIS IS RELIGIOUS; THE VILAIN IS NOT RELIGIOUS,
(a) THE CORTOIS IS RELIGIOUS.

The didactic poem De Courtoisie, vv. 45-50, recommends Chris-
tian behaviour, love of one's neighbor, and love of the church:
Seietz tut jour bon crestien,
Ametz deu sur tute rien
E vostre preome, come vous,
Tut soit il busoignous,
Et si ametz saint' Eglise
Leaument e le seruise !

1 Proverbs of the vilain thus incorporated into mediaeval texts are fre-
quently met with. The following is a list of examples : Troie, vv. 3787-8,
10331-2; Floire et Blanceflor, vv. 1425-6; Erec, vv. 1-3; Roman du Comte
de Poitiers, vv. 1616-7; Rou, vv. 1311-2; Eracle, vv. 3579-82; Cliges, vv.
4571-4; Lancelot, vv. 6976-9; Marie de France, Lais, Eliduc, vv. 61-3; Tydorel,
vv. 165-8; La Destruction de Rome, vv. 151-4; Rambaud de Vaqueiras, Rayn.
Choix v 420; Aliscans, p. 47; Le Chevalier a I'fLpee, vv. 416-9, 1184-5;
Perceval, vv. 26559-66, 33110-3. See also Li Proverbe au Vilain, hgg. von
Adolf Tobler, Leipzig 1895.



CORTOIS AND VILAIN. 83

Chretien de Troies in Lancelot, vv. 1852-4, declares that a knight
who entered a monastery to pray was not acting like a vilain, i.e.
was acting 1 the part of a cortois knight :

Ne fist que vilains ne que fos

Li chevaliers qui el mostier

Antra a pie por Deu proiier.
A like statement is found in vv. 1582-4 of Blancandin:

Et lendemain vont au mostier

Li chevalier et li provos

Qui ne fus pas vilain ne sos.

Vv. 5-13 of the Romans de un chivaler, etc., Fabliaux ii 50, tell of
the deeply religious life of a woman who never was blamed for
vilainie, but was very corteise :

Sa femme estoit mult bone dame,

De< vilainie n'out unkes blame;

Seinte Esglise mult amoit,

A mushter chascun jor aloit;

Par matin il i voleit estre

Bien sovent ainz ke li prestre.

Mult fu de grant religion;

A nului ne vout si bien noun.

La dame fu corteise e bele.

Vv. 6-10 of Du Segretain ou du Moine, Fabliaux v 123, speak
of a woman who was cortoise, and gladly went to church:

Femme avoit tele qu'en .c. mile

Ne trouvast on si avenant,

Si courtoise ne si vaillant,

Si sage ne si bien aprise ;

Volentiers aloit a 1'eglise.

Vv. 19-25 of Le Dit dou Soucretain, Fabliaux vi 150, tell of a
cortoise woman who went to the church to pray each day and
stayed to hear the entire service :

ot fame prise

Sage, cortoise et bien aprise,

Bien ansaigniee, preuz et sage.

Chaucun jour avoit un usage

D'aler pricr a sainte eglise,

Et d'escouter tot le servise

Que li couvens si biau fasoit.



84 CORTOIS AND VILAIN.

(a) THE VILAIN IS NOT RELIGIOUS.

The national epic furnishes us with an assertion of the exclusion
of the vilain from monastic life. La Chevalerie Ogier de Dane-
marche, w. 10632-4:

Chains n'a moigne, bien le puis tesmoigner,

Qui ne soit filz a gentil chevalier;

Fils de vilain n'estra ja mes cloistriers.

Le Donnei des Amants, vv. 37-40, says that the vilain has nothing
to do with God and the angels :

Vilein qui est a Deu contrarie

Mustre qu'il n'ad illuec que fere;

Od les angeles lez e joius

N'ad que fere vilain grosus.

In vv. 19, 24-29 of the fablel Du Vilain qui conquist Paradis par
Plait, Fabliaux iii 81, Saint Peter is represented as excluding a
vilain from paradise and making the general statement that no vilain
is ever admitted there:

Seinz Pierres, qui gardoit la porte,

Demanda qui la conduisoit :

"(Jaienz n'a nus herbergement,

Se il ne l'a par jugement:

Ensorquetot, par seint Alain,

Nos n'avons cure de vilain,

Car vilains ne vient en cest estre."

An exception, however, is made in the case of this particular vilain,
who is allowed to enter after he has proved that he can bien confer
sa parole by reproaching Peter, Thomas and Paul for the sins they
committed on earth and proving to God that he has himself led a
good life. Vv. 8-22 of Le Pet au Vilain, Fabliaux iii 68, state
that the vilain, excluded from paradise, is also shut out from hell:

Ce di je por la gent vilaine,

C'onques n'amerent clerc ne prestre,

Si ne cuit pas que Diex lor preste

En Paradis ne leu ne place.

Onques a Jhesu Crist ne place

Que vilainz ait herbergerie

Avec le Fil Sainte Marie;

Car il n'est raison ne droiture,

Ce trovons nous en Escriture;



CORTOIS AND VILAIN. 85

Paradis ne pueent avoir

For deniers ne por autre avoir;

Et a Enfer ront il failli,

Dont li maufe sont maubailli;

Si orrez par quel mesprison

II perdirent celle prison.

The fablel goes on to tell how the vilain, mistaking the place of exit
of the soul from the body, commits a piece of coarseness which is
resented' by the damned, who hold a council and decide that there-
after no soul of vilain shall be received in hell. Vilains' souls are
thereafter obliged to go and croak with the frogs in the kingdom
of Audigier's father, Turgibus. Vv. 75-6 of the fablel Du Bouchier
d'Abeville, Fabliaux iii 84, show that the vilain, being denied the
privileges of religion, was also not received hospitably at the dwelling
of a priest:

Ne ce n'est pas coustume a prestre
Que vilains horn gise en son estre.



XIX (a).

MISCELLANEOUS ATTRIBUTES OF THE CORTOIS (FAVORABLE).

In addition to those qualities in which he is specifically at vari-
ance with the vilain, still others are assigned to the cortois by
mediaeval writers, and these are also favorable. Of these the quality
most often assigned to the cortois is that of general excellence im-
plied in the adjective prenx (brave, valiant, excellent). The gen-
eral and favorable meaning of this term caused; it to be frequently
used beside the still more general term cortois in personal descrip-
tion. It is to be noticed, also, that when used with cortois the ad-
jective preux almost always precedes it, as if to prepare the auditor
or reader for the fuller connotation of the broader term. Excep-
tions to this usage are comparatively few; e.g., Cliges, v 899, v.
2985; Perceval, vv. 9546-7, v. 16206. The association of the ad-
jectives preux and cortois occurs as early as the Chanson de Roland,

v. 575 '

E Oliviers li proz et li curteis.

Ibid., v. 3755, repeats the line with the change to the objective case.



86 CORTOIS AND VILAIN.

In Provengal we find this association in Giraud le Roux (fl. 1140),
Rayn. Choix iii, p. 13 :

, dompna corteza e pros. 1

Franchise (nobility of character) is ascribed to the cortois by
both French and Provengal writers. Chretien de Troies contrasts
the terms vilains and frans in Yvain, vv. 1816-7:

Par foi, cist n'est mie vilains,
Ainz est mout frans, je le sai bien.

In Lancelot, v. 3966, he associates the ideas of franchise and
cortoisie :

Qui mout estoit frans et cortois. 2

In the Roman de la Rose, i p. 31, one of the five gold-tipped arrows
carried by Dous-Regars is called Franchise, and is thus described:

; cele iert empenee

De Valor et de Cortoisie.

The cortois is described as being debonair e (genteel, of good
character). The didactic poem De Courtoisie makes this quality
a prime requisite (vv. 5-7) :

II couent al primor

Qe vous soietz plein de docour

E de grant deboneretez.

The Roman de la Rose, i p. 26, terms Cortoisie

La vaillant et la debonnaire.
The adjectives cortois and debonaire and the corresponding abstract

Examples of the association of preux and cortois in the order given are
found in the following passages: Ille et Galeron, v. 1622; Erec, v. 687;
Yvain, v. 3 and v. 6230; Marie de France, Fabeln Ixii, v. 2; Marie de
France, Lais, Prolog, v. 44 ; Guiot de Provins, Wackernagle p. 31 ; Girart de
Rossillon, Appel, Prov. Chrest., St. I, v. 174; Tristan \ p. 62; Tydorel, v.
139; Perceval, w. 9533, 15425, 15655, 17666, 20326, 29287, 35000; Le Roman
de la Rose, i p. 84; Fabliaux iv 94, v. 2; ibid., iii 77, v. 23; ibid., v 155, v. 24;
Le Breviari d'Amor, v. 30509, v. 31732; Blancandin, v. 1443.

2 A similar association is found in the following passages: Rambaud
d'Orange, Rayn. Choix v, p. 413; Marie de France, Lais, Guigemar, v. 212;
Tristan, i p. 9; Guiraut de Bornelh, Kolsen p. 90, v. 37; Peyrols, Rayn.
Choix v, p. 286.



CORTOIS AND VILAIN. 87

terms are placed side by side in several passages : E.g. Yvain,
v. 1307:

Come cortoise et deboneire. 1

Great prowess is attributed to the cortois. E.g. Yvain, vv.
4020-3 ;

Qu'eles 1'avoient ja mout chier,

Et cine ganz tanz plus chier Teussent

Se la corteisie seiissent

Et la grant proesce de lui. 2



XIX (b).

MISCELLANEOUS ATTRIBUTES OF THE VILAIN (UNFAVORABLE).

Slowness is attributed to the vilain. Erec, vv. 474-6 :

La pucele ne tarda plus,

Ou'ele n'estoit mie vilainne ;

Par le main contre mont Tan mainne.
Marie de France, Lais, Lactic, v. 148 :

mes ne fu pas vileins ne lenz.
Lai de Doon, vv. 245-8 :

"Mostre ga tost," fet il, "tes mains."

Li vallez ne fu pas vilains,

Ses ganz oste hastivement,

Andeus ses mains li mostre et tent.

The vilain is fol (mad, foolish). Guillaume d'Angleterre, v.
3249, characterizes the vilain as mout fole beste. In Thebes, v.
5810, the ideas of folie and vilenie are associated :

N'en i a un fol ne vilain. 3

The vilain is pautoniers (vagabond, good-for-nothing). Du
Provost a I'aumuche, Fabliaux i 7, v. 14 :

Vilains et pautonniers estoit.
Du Bouchier d'Abeville, Fabliaux iii 84, v. 96:

Pautoniers estes et vilains.

'See also Perceval, vv. 25581-3, 27328; Roman de la Rose, i pp. 134 and

155-

2 See also Cliges, vv. 152-3; Perceval, vv. 12067-9; Melion, vv. 11-14.

3 See also Yvain, vv. 5119, 6570; Perceval } vv. 14395, 19002; Claris et
Lam, v. 8580; Blancandin, vv. 1315, 5055.



88 CORTOIS AND VILAIN.

i

The vilain is felon (villainous, wicked). In the Roman de la
Rose, i p. 32, one of the five black arrows, ledes a devise, carried
by Dous Regars

Fu apelee Vilenie;

Icele fu de felonie

Toute tainte et envenimee.

V. 24 of a chanson de toile by Maistre Gilles Li Viniers, Bartsch,
A. R. u. P., i 67, thus characterizes the vilain :

tant felon vilain le truis.

V. 451 of Du prestre et du chevalier, Fabliaux ii 34, associates the
adjectives felon and vilain.

The vilain is low-minded. Marie de France in the Prolog to
her fables, ed. Warnke, pp. 4-5, asks the reader's pardon for re-
producing faithfully her original, since in doing so she may be
obliged to write words of indelicate meaning and may be con-
sidered vilaine by some for so doing (v. 36). Vv. 280-3 of Guil-
laume de Dole contain a similar implication:

Par ceste ochoison si ont mises

Lor mains a mainte blanche cuisse :

Je ne di mie que cil puisse

Estre cortois qui plus demande.



XX.

THE CORTOIS IS LOVED AND ESTEEMED; THE VILAIN IS NOT LOVED,
BUT IS DETESTED AND EXCLUDED.

(a) THE CORTOIS IS LOVED AND ESTEEMED.

The mediaeval French and Provencal poets represented the
cortois as possessing all admirable qualities and entirely free from
any objectionable ones. Being thus the perfect knight and polished
gentleman he was irresistible to the opposite sex. A number of
passages may be quoted which represent a person possessed of
the attributes of cortoisie as the object of the love of another. One
or more of these attributes is usually mentioned with the general
term cortois which includes them all. Vv^ 533-6 of Eliduc, Marie
de France, Lais, represent a maiden as yielding herself without
reserve to one who is sages e curteis:



CORTOIS AND VILAIN. 89

Tant estes sages e curteis,
bien avrez purveii anceis
que vus voldrez faire de mei.
Sur tute rien vus aim e crei.

In vv. 71-79 of the lay of Guingamor, the queen's love is offered
to the cortois hero in the following terms :

"Guingamor, molt estes vaillans,
Preuz et cortois et avenans :
Riche aventure vos atent;
Amer pouez molt hautement.
Amie avez cortoise et bele :
Je ne sai dame ne danzele
El roiaume de sa valor
Si vos aimme de grant amor :
Bien la tenez por vostre drue."

In vv. 1491-3 of Blancandin, L'Orgilleuse d' Amors tells the provost
that the knight would not take his daughter,

Car mult a plus cortoise amie
Arrier en son pais laissie.

In L'Atre Perillous, vv. 4811-3, we read that the knight Cadres
loved a girl who was bele et cortoise:

Or a Cadres joie trop grant;

Car s'amie qu'il aime tant,

Et qui tant est bele et cortoise,

In vv. 3053-7 of the same poem are quoted the words of a man
who in his youth loved a maiden,

La plus cortoise et la plus bele,
Qui soit de si a Carlion.

Not only do we find passages like the foregoing which depict
a cortois man or cortoise lady as loved, but a number of examples
may be cited in which is mentioned the fact that he or she is loved
on account of his or her cortoisie. Eliduc, Marie de France, Lais,
vv. 348-350.

Tant par est sages e curteis,

que, s'il ne m'aime par amur,

murir m'estuet a grant dolur.



90 CORTOIS AND VILAIN.

Les Dous Amanz, M. de France, Lais, vv. 67-70:

Pur ceo que pruz fu e curteis

E que mult le preisot li reis,

li otria sa druerie,

e cil humblement Ten mercie.
Le Chevalier a I'fLpee, vv. 314-7:

Tant Tot cortoisement parler

Et tant lo voit de bones mors,

Que ele 1'amast par amors

S'ele descovrir li osast. 1

In several didactic passages cortoisie is named as a prime re-
quisite for one who would be loved. Vv. 2189-2200 of La Clef
d" Amors direct a maiden who wishes to be loved to be very careful
to be

avisee,

plesante, de bele maniere,

sage, courtoise et) biau parliere,

and that in her there should be no vilanie, thus making cortoisie
and some of its most important manifestations prerequisites for


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