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Shaping Courtliness in Medieval France

Shaping Courtliness in Medieval France: Essays in Honor of Matilda Tomaryn Bruckner

Daniel E. O’Sullivan
Laurie Shepard
Series: Gallica
Volume: 28
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 312
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  • Book Info
    Shaping Courtliness in Medieval France
    Book Description:

    The concept of courtliness forms the theme of this collection of essays. Focused on works written in the Francophone world between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries, they examine courtliness as both an historical privilege and a literary ideal, and as a concept that operated on and was informed by complex social and economic realities. Several essays reveal how courtliness is subject to satire or is the subject of exhortation in works intended for noblemen and women, not to mention ambitious bourgeois. Others, more strictly literary in their focus, explore the witty, thoughtful and innovative responses of writers engaged in the conscious process of elevating the new vernacular culture through the articulation of its complexities and contradictions. The volume as a whole, uniting philosophical, theoretical, philological, and cultural approaches, demonstrates that medieval 'courtliness' is an ideal that fascinates us to this day. It is thus a fitting tribute to the scholarship of Matilda Tomaryn Bruckner, in its exploration of the prrofound and wide-ranging ideas that define her contribution to the field. Daniel E. O'Sullivan is Associate Professor of French at the University of Mississippi; Laurie Shepard is Associate Professor of Italian at Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. Contributors: Peter Haidu, Donald Maddox, Michel-André Bossy, Kristin Burr, Joan Tasker Grimbert, David Hult, Virgine Greene, Logan Whalen, Evelyn Birge Vitz, Elizabeth W. Poe, Daniel E. O'Sullivan, William Schenck, Nadia Margolis, Laine Doggett, E. Jane Burns, Nancy Freeman Regalado, Laurie Shephard, Sarah White.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-071-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)
    Daniel E. O’Sullivan and Laurie Shepard

    The term “courtliness,” derived from Latin curialitas and curia meaning “senate” or “meeting,” pervades discussions of medieval literature, so much so that scholars may take it for granted. Against the medieval social landscape of daily violence, courtliness denotes a civilizing concept whereby behavior in a potentially explosive center of political and social ambition – the court – becomes ritualized. Courtliness aimed to sublimate a warrior’s violent impulses and channel them in both speech and deed to a series of socially sanctioned behaviors. When one knight believed himself to possess superior martial skill, proving it at a tournament was preferred to...

  6. Matilda Tomaryn Bruckner: A Bibliography
    (pp. 15-22)
  7. Part I. Shaping Real and Fictive Courts

    • A Perfume of Reality? Desublimating the Courtly
      (pp. 25-46)
      Peter Haidu

      The advent of “the courtly” marks a turning point in European literary history – a “beginning” in culture or civilization, rightly celebrated. Yet, as long recognized, something about it isn’t quite kosher.²

      Expressions like “courtliness,” “courtly literature,” “courtly love,” or the shamed, self-annulling citational periphrasis “the literature once called ‘courtly,’” have currency in both medievalist and modernist discourses. They purportedly ground the sublimity of literary representations by referring to a historical institution that guarantees the historical existence of the substance designated – manners, literature, love – by connecting representations and a historical institution – standing in for “reality.” The verbal...

    • Shaping the Case: the Olim and the Parlement de Paris under King Louis IX
      (pp. 47-60)
      Donald Maddox

      Matilda Bruckner’s Narrative Invention in Twelfth-Century Romance figures among several important recent studies that have shown the extent to which Old French verse romances, while normally culminating in an unmistakable “sense of an ending,” may also illustrate significant socio-cultural tensions and conflicts within the fictive universe without bringing them to any clear resolution.¹ In its conclusion, Bruckner notes in passing that the absence of closure in many twelfth-century French romances is comparable to André Jolles’s theoretical conceptualization of the Case, which is one of nine “elementary forms” he defines in his Einfache Formen (Fr. Formes simples).² In essence, the Case...

    • Charles d’Orléans and the Wars of the Roses: Yorkist and Tudor Implications of British Library MS Royal 16 F ii
      (pp. 61-80)
      Michel-André Bossy

      The British Library’s Royal Manuscript 16 F ii was composed in the late fifteenth century to instruct a young English prince in the courtly repertories of love and, for finale, to offer him some simple ethical advice on how to govern.¹ The question implicitly raised by the book’s design is whether the emotional and rhetorical exploration of love will hinder or, on the contrary, assist the youthful Plantagenet reader to become an astute and just ruler. The dominant figure in the anthology is, curiously enough, Charles d’Orléans, a Valois enemy seized in 1415 at the Battle of Agincourt and only...

  8. Part II. Shaping Courtly Narrative

    • Meraugis de Portlesguez and the Limits of Courtliness
      (pp. 83-94)
      Kristin Burr

      Identifying the courtly heroine in an Old French romance often requires only a glance: her remarkable beauty makes her easy to recognize. Lengthy enumerations of a lady’s perfect physical traits – from her long blond hair to her slim hips – further underscore the importance of her visible attractiveness.¹ While intangible traits are essential, too, composers typically pay them less heed. Such is not the case, however, in Raoul de Houdenc’s thirteenth-century Meraugis de Portlesguez. From the opening episode, the tale’s heroine, Lidoine, stands out from her peers not only for her extraordinary loveliness, but also for her exceptional courtliness....

    • The Art of “Transmutation” in the Burgundian Prose Cligés (1454): Bringing the Siege of Windsor Castle to Life for the Court of Philip the Good
      (pp. 95-106)
      Joan Tasker Grimbert

      “Transmutation” is the term used by the anonymous authors of two mid-fifteenth- century Burgundian prose romances to designate the process by which they transform two of Chrétien de Troyes’s romances, Erec et Enide and Cligés.¹ The author of the prose Cligés, noting his contemporaries’ willingness to pass their time reading and listening to romances and histories, proposes to better serve them by transposing – the verb is transmuer – Alixandre’s and Cligés’s adventures from Old French verse to Middle French prose. But transmutation is not just translation. The prose redactors appropriate Chrétien’s texts and modify them to such an extent...

    • Thomas’s Raisun: Désir, Vouloir, Pouvoir
      (pp. 107-122)
      David F. Hult

      In an important contribution to the interpretation of Thomas’s version of the Tristan romance, Matilda Bruckner built on previous critics’ discussions of structural patterns in the romance, in particular the obsessive recourse to doubling and the continual oscillation between images of unity and duality, one and two, coupling and separation – neatly encompassed, for instance, in the repeated use of the verb partir, and its nominal derivates, which can mean either “to leave, to separate, to divide” or its opposite, “to share” – but extended the framework decisively by including the gestures of the narrator figure in the mix.¹ The...

    • Humanimals: The Future of Courtliness in the Conte du Papegau
      (pp. 123-138)
      Virginie Greene

      When I chose the Conte du Papegau as the focus of my essay for this volume, I did not realize I was following a tradition. The Papegau figures among the studies given to Hans-Erich Keller in 1993, Douglas Kelly in 1994, and Karl Uitti in 2000. Since the authors of these dedicatory essays are Norris Lacy, Jane Taylor, and Lori Walters, I feel that I am in excellent company. Something in this atypical Arthurian romance may make it particularly fit for celebrating the works and career of a colleague, mentor, and friend. I therefore propose to transform an unspoken nascent...

    • A Matter of Life or Death: Fecundity and Sterility in Marie de France’s Guigemar
      (pp. 139-150)
      Logan E. Whalen

      I have argued extensively elsewhere that memory represents the most prevalent theme in all the works attributed to the late-twelfth-century poet, Marie de France.¹ However, other themes appear with notable frequency in the twelve tales that she assembles in her first work, the Lais. Adventure, the marvelous, love, and the juxtaposition of fecundity and sterility all enjoy special status in this collection, and in one way or another structure the narratives contained in it. For example, from the first lai, Guigemar, to Eliduc, the final lai, all of these brief, courtly stories are shaped around the subject of love, often...

    • “Le Roman de la Rose, Performed in Court”
      (pp. 151-162)
      Evelyn Birge Vitz

      What a pleasure to be honoring Matilda, whom I have known for a very long time, and to be thinking – with her decades-long interests in mind – both about medieval court culture and about performance. I loved the piece she did for Cultural Performances in Medieval France, the Festschrift for Nancy Freeman Regalado: “The Pitfalls and Promise of Classroom Performance.”

      So here’s to you, Matilda!

      For us today, The Romance of the Rose is a book, as it was for many people in the Middle Ages as well.¹ It is likely that a wide variety of reading and reception...

  9. III. Shaping Women’s Voices in Medieval France

    • Lombarda’s Mirrors: Reflections on PC 288,1 as a Response to PC 54,1
      (pp. 165-182)
      Elizabeth W. Poe

      I have chosen in this essay to accept Matilda Bruckner’s open invitation to enter the “hall of mirrors” that reflect the various images of the trobairitz and to “follow the intricacies and echoes of its play.” Specifically, I shall look at the “precious”² (in the best sense of that term) verses left to us by Na Lombarda, which, with their thematization of the mirror, lend themselves even better than the works of other trobairitz to scrutiny and ultimately to speculation.

      I am of course not the first to examine the two coblas that constitute the small but rich poetic legacy...

    • Na Maria: Shaping Marian Devotion in Old Occitan Song
      (pp. 183-200)
      Daniel E. O’Sullivan

      When I undertook a doctoral dissertation under the direction of Matilda Tomaryn Bruckner, a work that would become my first book, I had observed that the mere mention of the Virgin Mary or of Marian song elicited flat responses from critics, both alive and long gone.¹ According to them, it was a foregone conclusion and therefore the end of analysis to say that Marian song in Old French was merely the product of substituting the Virgin Mary for the Lady of secular courtly song. Bruckner herself took on a similar problem of “flattening out” in her 1986 article, “Jaufré Rudel...

    • From Convent to Court: Ermengarde d’Anjou’s Decision to Reenter the World
      (pp. 201-212)
      William Schenck

      At first glance, Ermengarde of Anjou, the countess of Brittany who died in 1146, does not seem especially suitable for a study of the role of women in the emergence of secular literature in the aristocratic court. She is not named as a patroness in any roman courtois, and only one extant lyric celebrates her beauty, not the work of a troubadour or trouvère, but a Latin poem written by Marbode, the bishop of Rennes.¹ Nonetheless, in La femme au temps des cathédrales, Régine Pernoud uses Ermengarde as an example of how women could inspire an attitude of “courtliness,” of...

    • From Chrétien to Christine: Translating Twelfth-Century Literature to Reform the French Court during the Hundred Years War
      (pp. 213-226)
      Nadia Margolis

      Throughout her entire œuvre, comprising over forty titles, the Venetian-born poet and moralist Christine de Pizan (1364/5–ca. 1430) attempts to shape courtly ideals in some way or other as part of her larger program to enlighten her adoptive country of France during one of the darkest phases in its history. In attempting literally to educate her compatriots out of their crisis, her incorporation of classical-antique and Italian-humanistic wisdom – mostly through contemporary translations, including her own, from Latin or Italian into French – has benefited from abundant scholarly investigation in recent years. Such findings also confirm her ability to...

  10. IV. Shaping the Courtly Other

    • The Favorable Reception of Outsiders at Court: Medieval Versions of Cultural Exchange
      (pp. 229-240)
      Laine E. Doggett

      Matilda Bruckner’s work on hospitality in romance inspired me to reflect on the related topic of the favorable reception of strangers at court. If hospitality is one side of the coin, a convention that requires hosts to respond favorably to those who request lodging and sustenance, the other side is what the stranger at court does, especially those behaviors that lead to court admiration, appreciation, and a warm reception. In such cases the outsider does not threaten or alienate, as one might imagine, but enhances the court by increasing its courtliness and, in turn, its prestige.

      Bruckner distinguishes commercial hospitality...

    • Shaping Saladin: Courtly Men Dressed in Silk
      (pp. 241-254)
      E. Jane Burns

      Chrétien de Troyes’s twelfth-century romance Perceval ou le Conte du Graal stages a telling encounter between the naïve and bumbling Perceval and his newfound chivalric mentor, Gornemont de Gort, in which the mentor asks, “Et de vos armes, biax amis, / Me redites que savez faire?” (1391–2), [Tell me again, my friend, what can you do with your arms/armor?]. Perceval responds curiously:

      Jes sai bien vestir et retraire,

      Si com li vallés m’en arma

      Qui devant moi en desarma

      Le chevalier qu’avoie mort. (1392–5)¹

      [I can put them on and remove them, just like the squire who armed...

    • Force de parole: Shaping Courtliness in Richard de Fournival’s Bestiaire d’amours, Copied in Metz about 1312 (Oxford, Bodl. MS Douce 308)
      (pp. 255-270)
      Nancy Freeman Regalado

      It is a pleasure to offer Matilda Bruckner this article on Richard de Fournival’s delightful Bestiaire d’amours, to honor our forty-year friendship, and to reflect her own interest in animal/human connections expressed in her “Of Men and Beasts in Bisclavret” (1991), continued with her piece on “Beasts” for the 2005 Boston College exhibit Secular/Sacred, and most recently made manifest in the series of events that she organized at Boston College in the fall of 2011 under the rubric, “Animals and the Medieval Imagination.”

      Courtliness is a style defined initially in the latter part of the twelfth and first half of...

    • The Poetic Legacy of Charles d’Anjou in Italy: The Poetics of Nobility in the Comune
      (pp. 271-284)
      Laurie Shepard

      Charles of Anjou (1226–85), the youngest brother of King Louis IX, entered Italy in 1265 on a crusade: offered the Kingdom of Sicily by the French Pope Urban IV, he had first to extirpate the Hohenstaufen “race of vipers.”¹ In June 1265, another French pope, Clement IV, crowned Charles. The king’s military success transformed the political, economic, and social landscape in Italy; it promoted an enduring alliance of the church, French military power, and Florentine capital.² Initiatives by Charles and the empowered papacy led to changes in the composition of the nobility and intensified debates about the legitimacy of...

    • Envoi
      (pp. 285-286)
      Sarah White
  11. List of Contributors
    (pp. 287-290)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 291-296)
    (pp. 297-298)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 299-301)