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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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gaining man's love. The Breviari d' Amor names similar qualities
which a lady should require in, a man whom she would love. Vv.

30583-9:

Dona que enten en amar

Deu tal entendedor triar

Que sia savis a cortes

Car nul autra causa non es

On convenha* mielhs horns senatz

E cortes e amezuratz

Quo fai en los ditz faits d'amors :

Vv. 30749-5 2 :

Dona done qu'enten en amor
Deu cauzir per entendedor
Home savi, pros e cortes
Ez avinen e ben apres.

*See also Marie de France, Lais, Lanval, vv. 113-6; Blondel de Neele, p.
42; Bartsch, A. R. u. P., i 4, vv. 21-3; Le Chevalier a l'pee, vv. 571-4;
Perceval, vv. 32813-9; Flamenca, vv. 2960-4, 5872-5; Blancandin, vv. 549-53,
1997-9; La Clef d' Amors, vv. 617-32.



CORTOIS AND VI LAIN. 91

Vv. 241-4 of La Clef d' Amors, whose purpose was to guide a man
in the choice of his lady-love, closes the list of adjectives describing
the qualities she should possess with the verse,

Sage, courtoise et henorable.

Beside being loved, we find that the cortois was held in high
esteem by those with whom he was thrown into contact. An ex-
pression of this sentiment is found in the Roman de la Rose, i p. 41 :

Apres se tenoit Cortoisie,

Qui moult estoit de tous prisie,

Si n'ere orgueilleuse ne fole.

In v. 155 of Le Lai de I'Oiselet the Deity's preference for cortoisie
is stated :

Dieus aime onor et cortoisie.

Garis lo Brus, quoted in the Breviari d' Amor, vv. 32222-5, states
that cortoisie is knowing how to speak and act in such a manner
that one's friends are compelled to love him:

Cortezia es tals,

Si voletz saber cals,

Qui be sap dir e far

Per qu'om lo dei' amar. 1

An important indication of the favorable attitude of the courtly
poets toward the cortois is found in those passages in which the
cortois is represented as being admitted to some especially desirable
place, while the vilain is excluded. It appears that the poets did
not think it necessary always to mention the admission of the cortois,
but they never lose an opportunity of getting in a thrust at the
vilain by mentioning his exclusion. The only example of the
specific admission of the cortois that I am able to cite is found in
Li Fablel dou Dieu d } Amours, p. 16:

Et s'uns cortois vausist laiens aler,

En eel vergie por son cors deporter,

Trovast la porte ouverte por entrer,

Que ja li pons n'eust soing de lever.

(b) THE VILAIN IS NOT LOVED, BUT IS DETESTED AND EXCLUDED.

As the cortois was the one eminently worthy of love, so the
vilain was unworthy of it, and was loathed and excluded. In vv.

'See also* Bartsch, A. R. u. P., i 2, vv. 20-1; Melion, vv. 7-8; Perceval^
vv 28672-5; Le Breviari d'Amor, vv. 30546-54; Lecheor, vv. 55-60.



^2 CORTOIS AND VILAIN.

i-n of Le Chevalier a I'fLpee, the author invites those who love
pleasure to listen to an adventure which happened to Gawain
. qui n'ama onques nul jor

Home coart, faus ne vilain.

In vv. 745-7 of Blancandin, 1'Orgilleuse d' Amors, who has been
kissed by Blancandin and does not know who he is, grieves at the
thought that he may not be cortois :

Que sai jou or s'il est vilains?

Trop est mes cuers de dolor plains ;

Trop est cis baisiers pris en grief.

In a chanson de toile, Bartsch, A. R. u. P., i 48, vv. 15-16, we find
a lady de grant biaute saying that

james n'amera vilain,

car trop sont mauves. 1

Hatred toward the vilain is such a commonplace in courtly
poetry, and is so manifest in everything that is said concerning
him, that it hardly needs special emphasis here. A verse from the
fablel De sire Hain et de Dame Anieuse, Fabliaux i 6, is particularly
outspoken and direct; in v. 174 Anieuse thus addresses her husband:

Vilains, dist-ele, je te haz.

Vv. 29-32, Bartsch, A. R. u. P., i 27, express the loathing of the
nightingale for the vilain who has been listening to her song:

Li rosignolez disoit :

par un pou qu'il n'enrajoit

du grant duel que il avoit,

que vilains 1'avoit oi.

In a chanson de toile by Maistre Gilles Li Viniers, Bartsch, A. R.
u. P., i 67, there is a very virulent attack upon the vilain, in this
case the husband of the woman who speaks, vv. 37-45 :

Compaignete, or vos kerrai:

ja d'amors ne partirai.

et se li vilains en gronce,

saves vous ke je ferai?

jamais n'ere vers li douce

mais si bien le baterai,

^See also Bartsch, A. R. u. P., i 72, vv. 15-16; ibid., ii 57, vv. 72-84;
Fabliaux i n, vv. 26-7.



CORTOIS AND VILAIN. 93

jamais ne mangera de pain :

chi le me foule, foule, foule,

chi le me foule le vilain.

Le Donnei des Amants, vv. 41-46, says that when the birds sing-
most sweetly they are but trying to provoke the vilain :

Li oiselet, men essient,

Quant il chantent plus doucement,

S'esforcent plus e seir e mein

Pur tarie'r le fel vilein,

E les gelus ensurquetut,

Ke joie e chant heent de but. 1

Detested as he was, the vilain is represented as being excluded
from desirable places to which the cortois is admitted, such as
enchanted parks and palaces. In Li Fablel don Dieu d' Amours, p.
15, such a park is described, the drawbridge over whose moat
always closed of its own accord whenever a vilain stepped upon it :

Ains ne fust cure se vilains i venist,

Et ce fust cose que ens entrer volsist,

Oustre son gre, qant sor le pont venist,

Levast li pons, et li porte closist.

Ibid., p. 1 6, we are told that entrance to this park is refused to
vilains because it belongs to the God of Love :

Chius vregies ert as vilains en defors,

Car c'ert celi ki d'amors estoit rois.

Beginning with v. 13328 of Perceval a magic tent is described,
which (vv. 13361-4) the vilain is prevented from entering by an
image at one side of the entrance:

L'autre ymage del autre part

Ens en sa main tenoit un dart,

Ja n'i veist entrer vilain

Ne le ferist trestout a plain.

Vv. 189-191, 202-4, of De Florance et de Blanche Flor speak of
the palace of the God of Love, entrance to which for the vilain is
accompanied by an impossible condition :

*See also Bartsch, A. R. u. P., i 25, vv. 9-10, 15-18; ibid., i 41, vv. 21-27;
ibid., i 48, vv. 29-36.



-94 CORTOIS AND VILAIN.

La tor virent et le palais
Qui ne fu pas de pierre fais,
La ou li Diex d'amors estoit.

Ja sera vilain si os

Qu'il past le postiz de la porte,

Se le seel d'amors n'i porte.

Thebes, vv. 2947-50, in a description of the king's tent, mentions
the golden eagle upon its summit at which no vilain dares to look :

Li aigles d'or est a neel,

Qui est assis sor le pomel ;

Onques nus hon ne vit tant cler,

Vilains ne 1'ose regarder.

The courtly poets in the introductory verses of their poems often
stated that they were not going to treat of the vilain, or of vilenie.
For instance, the author of Thebes, vv. 17-19, says:

Ne parlerai de peletiers,

Ne de vilains, ne de berchiers ;

Mais de dous freres vos dirai, . . .

The author of Le Lai d'Aristote, Fabliaux v 137, vv. 42-46, says he
is going to tell a story

Qui bien doit estre desploie

Et dite par rime et retraite

Sanz vilonie et sanz retraite,

Quar oevre ou vilonie cort

Ne doit estre noncie a cort ;

Then he goes on, vv. 47 ff., to make the general statement that he
will never put any vilenie into his writings, and gives as his reason,
w. 52-53 :

Quar vilonie si defface

Tote riens et tolt sa savor.

The author of Guillaume de Dole states, vv. 10-15, tnat ms work
will be unintelligible to the vilcdn :

Einsi a il chans et sons mis

En cestui romans de la Rose,

Qui est une novele chose,

Et s'est des autres si divers

Et brodez par lieus de biaus vers,

Que vilains nel porroit savoir.



CORTOIS AND VILAIN. 95

One reason given by the poets why the vilain was thus detested
is that he was enuieus (importunate, disagreeable, vexatious). In
a chanson de toile, Bartsch, A. R. u. P., i 48, v. 32, the vilain is said
to be plain d'annui. Enid and vilenie are often associated. E.g.
Rambaud d'Orange, Rayn. Choix v, p. 408 :

Enuios, vilans, mals parliers

Yvain, v. 90:

Enuieus estes et vilains.
Eracle, vv. 2183-4:

Li mains aprise est mout courtoise,

Sanz vilonie et sanz anui. 1

Enuieus is contrasted with cortois in Du Prestre et d' Alison, Fab-
liaux ii 31, vv. 338-9:

Gardez ennuieus n'i soiez,

Mais soiez sages et cortois.
The cortois is warned against enui in De Courtoisie, v. 91 :

Ne seietz mie enuious.



XXI.

CONCLUSIONS.

The results of the present investigation are, briefly, as follows.
The cortois and vilain are represented as possessing opposite per-
sonal characteristics in French and Provengal texts at least as early
as the first third of the twelfth century, and they continue to be thus
represented as late as the middle of the fourteenth century. The
cortois is pictured as being of polished manners, gentle and 1 courte-
ous in speech, always taking the middle course, humble, considerate
in his relations with his fellows and helpful to others, upright in
character, loyal, generous, wearing fine garments, courageous,
a perfect lover, of a merry disposition, of fine personal
appearance, possessing a high order of intelligence, and of a religious
turn of mind ; wherefore he was an object of admiration to the

*See also Bernard de Ventadour, Rayn. Choix iii, p. 43 and p. 65 ; Bertrand
de Born, Rayn. Choix iii, p. 136 ; Raimbaut de Vaqueiras, Appel, Prov. Chrest.,
St. 90, vv. 28-9; Perceval, v. 16474; L'Atre Perillous, v. 5972; Le Breviari
d'Amor, v. 10340.



96 CORTOIS AND VI LAIN.

opposite sex and was held in high esteem by his friends. His
morals might be either loose or strict. The vilain, on the other
hand, is represented as being of rude manners, rough in speech,
apt to go to extremes, unduly proud and haughty, devoid of con-
sideration for his fellows and unwilling to help them, wicked and
untrustworthy, stingy, cowardly, ignorant of the art of courtly love,
of a gloomy temperament, ugly and uncouth in personal appearance,
stupid in general, though possessing a shrewd mother-wit, and
destitute of religious feeling; wherefore he was an object of loathing
to the opposite sex and was held in contempt by all. His morals
were universally bad. In addition to the foregoing list of traits, of
which those assigned to the cortois are almost without exception ad-
mirable and paralleled by their exact opposites attributed to the vilain,
other miscellaneous characteristics of each are mentioned, and these
are also commendable in the case of the cortois and reprehensible in
the case of the vilain. The evident fact that to the cortois and
vilain were consistently assigned opposite characteristics in mediaeval
French and Provengal poetry shows plainly that the writers of that
period were conscious of a tendency to radically distinguish between
them.



BIBLIOGRAPHY. 9;



BIBLIOGRAPHY.



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98 CORTOIS AND VILAIN.

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La Vita Nuova di Dante Alighieri, T. Casini, 2nd ed., Florence 1891.
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Dr. E. Moore, Oxford 1894.
La Destruction de Rome, Romania ii, 1-48.
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2 vols. vol. ii, pp. 50-57.
Un Dist que on damme Respon; Jubinal, Nouveau Recueil, vol. i,

pp. 173-180.
Dit sur les Vilains, par Matazone de Calignano, pub. by P. Meyer

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Doctrinal le Sauvage, Jubinal, Nouveau Recueil, vol. ii, pp. 150-161.
Li Romans de Dolo pathos, p. p. Brunet et Montaiglon, Paris 1856.
Le Donnei des Amants, pub. by G. Paris in Romania xxv, pp. 500-

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Lai de Doon, p. p. G. Paris, Romania viii, pp. 61-64.
Du Cange, Glossarium Mediae et Infimae Latinitatis, Editio Nova a

Leopold Favre, Niort 1883-1887.
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1873. Bibliothek des litt. Vereins in Stuttgart.
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ioo CORTOIS AND VILA1N.

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INDEX OF CITATIONS. 101



INDEX OF CITATIONS.



Aimeric de Belenoi ; 70, 7611.

Aimeric de Pegulhan ; 79.

Alexandre; 22.

Alfabeto del villano; 15.

Aliscans; 8211.

Amadas et Ydoine ; 54, 64.

Andre le Chapelain, De Amore; 18, 24, 48, 52, 60, 62, 67.

Appel, Pro?/. Chrest. (anonymous citation) ; 73n.

Arnaud de Marueil ; 30, 80.

N'Arnaut Guilhem de Marsan, Ensenhamen; 52, 81.

L'Atre Perillous; nn, 12, 15, 17, 19, 21, 22, 27, 29, 31, 32, 33, 39,

4on, 41, 43 & n, 46, 49, 53, 61, 62, 76n, Son, 89, 95n.
Bartsch, A. R. u. P.; 17 & N, 22, 3on, 31 & n, 38n, 44, 46, son, 51,

58, 61, 63 & n, 64, 69, 72 & n, 73, 74, 76n, 77, Son, 81, 88, oxin,

pin, 92 & n, 93n, 95.
Bel Inconnu; 36n.

Bernart de Ventadour; 22, 45, 65, 76n, 95n.
Bertrand d'Allamanon ler; 42n.
Bertrand de Born ; 14, 22, 95n.
Bertrand de Pujet; 5on.
Blacas ; 58.
Blancandin; I7n, 22, 24, 25 & n, 36n, 43 & n, 45, 62n, 71, 76n, Son,

83, 86n, 87n, 89, 9on, 92.
Blondel de Neele; 10, 15, 25, 76n, 9on.
Breviari d'Amor (Matfre Ermengaud) ; 15, 22, 23, 24, 26n, 27n,

29, 3i, 3 2 , 33. 42n, 45, 5, 55 n > 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 73, 76n,

79, Son, 86n, 90, 91 & n, 95n.

Brut (Wace) : 7, 9, 11, 48, 49, 50, 54, 55, 56, 80, 82.
Cadenet; 65.

Cancioneiro Gallego-Castelhano; 28n, 48.
Cercamon 513.
Chastelaine de Vergi; 71.
Chevalerie Ogier; 84.
Chevalier a l'pee; i?n, 19, 20 & n, 22, 29, 36n, 42, 45, 53, 66, 70,

71, 74, 78, 82n, 90 & n, 92.
Chretien de Troies (see also Cliges, Erec, Lancelot, Perceval,

Yvain) ; 59-60, 66.
Claris et Lam; 26n, 31, 38n, 87n.

Clef d' Amors; 15, 17, 21, 22, 26n, 44, 60, 63, 65, 70, 90 & n, 91.
Cleomades; 57,



102 CORTOIS AND VILAIN.

Cliges (Chretien) ; 16, 30, 42n, 50, 51, 66, 72, 79, Son, 8211, 85, 8711.

Comte de Poitiers; 8211.

Comtesse de Die; 30.

Couronnement de Louis; 46, 80.

Court d' Amour (Mahius li Poriiers) ; 270, 79.

De Courtoisie; 15, 24, 28, 29, 31, 32, 41, 45, 49, 61, 78, Son, 82, 86,

95-

Dante, Convito; 9, 48.
Dante, Vita Nuova; 38, 48.
Dauphin d'Auvergne; 26.
Destruction de Rome; 82n.
Dist que on damme Respon; 72n.
Dit de Gentillece; u.

Doctrinal le Sauvage; 2$n, 26n, 30, 45n, 55.
Dolopathos; 2711.

Donnei des Amants; 47, 73, 74, 84, 93.
Do on; Son, 87.
Durmart le Galois; 54.
Elie de Saint Gille; 56.
Zneas; 53, 56, 63, 66.
Enfances Ogier; 47.
Eracle; 82n, 95.
ra: (Chretien) ; nn, 20, 22, 23, 30, 31, 33, 44, 45 & n, 47, 49, 50,

55n, 56, 65, 72n, 76 & n, So & n, 82n, 86n, 87.
L'Escoufte; 39, 46.

Fablel dou Dieu d' Amours; 24, 27, 65, 66, 91, 93.
Fabliaux; 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, i8n, 19, 2on, 21, 22, 23, 26n, 28 & n, 32,

34, 36, 41, 43 & n, 45n, 47, son, 51 & n, 57, 62, 63n, 67, 68, 69,

70, 72n, 75, 76n, 77, 79, So & n, 8m, 83, 84, 85, 86n, 87, 88, 92

& n, 94, 95-
Fergus; 26.
Flamenca; 15, 17 & n, 19, 20, 22, 25, 34, 4on, 41, 42n, 44, 49, son,

62, 64, 76n, Son, ox>n.
Floire et Blancenor; 82n.

De Florance et de Blanche Flor; nn, 26n, 63, 93.
Folquet de Marseille ; 48.
Garis lo Bras; 23, 52, 58, 91.
Gaucelm Faidit ; 27n.
Gaufrey; 55n.
Gaydon; 49.

Geffrei Gaimar, see Lestorie des Engles.
Giacomino Pulgliese ; 39.
Girart de Rossillon; 86n.
Giraud le Roux ; 42, 86.
Grant mal fist Adam; 13.
Guilhem, comte de Peitieu; 10, 13, 25, 62, 66.
Guillaume d'Angleterre ; 22, 25, 37, 38, 51, 78, Son, 87.
Guillaume de Cabestaing; 62n.



INDEX OF CITATIONS. 103

Guillaume de Dole; 10, 88, 94.

Guillaume de Saint-Didier ; 44.

Guillaume Magret; 59.

Guingamor; 7, Son, 89.

Guiot de Provins ; 86n.

Guiraut de Bornelh; 15, 86n.

Guiraut de Calanso; 8 in.

Guiraut de Quentinhac; 57.

Horace; 79n.

Hugues Brunet; 58.

Hugues Capet; 4on, 55.

Hugues de Saint-Cyr; 15.

Ignaures, Lai d' ; 26n, 54, 70.

Ille et Galeron; 8, 27, 64, 66, 86n.

Jacques de Cambrai ; 42.

Jaufre; 7, 24.

Jaufre Rudel ; 13.

Jean de Conde, Des Vilains et des Courtois; 8, 9, n, 15.

Lamberti de Bonanel ; 43n.

Lancelot (Chretien) ; 18, 20, 22, 27, 40, 43, 47, 58, 66, 68, 76n, Son,

82n, 83, 86.
Lanfranc Cigala; 60.
Lecheor; 9 in.

Lestorie des Engles (GefTrei Gaimar) ; 6, n.
Leys d' Amors, Las ; 60.
Marcabrus ; 28, 58, 59.
Marie de France, Fables ; 8, 76n, 86n, 88.
Marie de France, Lais; 26, 27, 38n, 4on, 43n, 47, 49, 50, 53, 55n, 61,

72n, 76n, Son, 82n, 86n, 87, 88, 89, 90 & n.
Matfre Ermengaud, see Breviari d'Amor.
Melion; Sfn, 9in.
Miraval; 61.
Mule sanz Frain; 76.
Oiselet, Lai de I'; 44, 52, 91.
P art ono pens de Blois; 14, 47.
Peire Raimon de Toulouse; 58.
Pelerinage de Charlemagne; 23.
Perceval; n & n, 14, 15, 16, 17 & n, 18 & n, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23 & n, 25,

26, 27, 28, 29, 3on, 31, 32, 34, 35, 36 & n, 38 & n, 39, 41, 42,

43 & n, 45, 46, 47, 510, 52, 54, 57, 59, 66, 69, 71, 72 & n, 75, 76n,

78, Son, 81, 82n, 85, 86n, 87n, ox>n, 93, 95n.
Petrarch ; 48.
Peyrols; 86n.

Philippe de Thaiin, Bestiaire; 50, 81.
Pierre Rogiers ; 59.
Pons de Capdueil ; 14, 62n.
Raimond de Miravals; 26.
Rambaud de Vaqueiras ; 14, 82n, 95n.



104 CORTOIS AND VILAIN.

Rambaud d'Orange; 86n, 95.
Rayn. Choix (anonymous citation) ; 73n.
Respit del c. et del v.; n, 15, 51, 72n.
Robert le Diable; ?n.
Roland, Chanson de; 22, 29, 31 & n, 85.

Rose, Roman de la; 8, 10, 12, 15, 21, 22, 23n, 24, 26 & n, 32, 34, 40,
41, 51, 58, 60, 62, 65, 73, 74, 75, 76, 79, Son, Si, 86 & n, 87n, 88,

Rou (Wace) ; 9, 14, 56, 75, 82n.
Sept Sages; 9n, nn.

Thebes; 7, 9, 17, 18, 22, 35, 37, 40, 56, 82, 87, 94.
Tristan; 37, 38n, 71, 72n, 81, 86n.
Troie (Benoit de Sainte-More) ; 14, 56, 72, 73, 82n.
Trot; 53.

Tydorel; i8n, 22, 5 in, 82n, 86n.
Tyolet; 9n, 57, 75, Son.
N'Uc Brunet de Rodes ; 14, 32.


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