Saturday, December 06, 2014

Tiro Lo Blanc

A different post today:- Some quotes from the book Tiro Lo Blanc, published in Catalan in 1490 but written over several decades before that. A tale of knightly conquest, of both enemies and ladies.

Thank-God the attitudes betrayed in these quotes died out long ago . . .

Tirant:The queen's beauty is unsurpassed, as she is courteous, friendly, chaste, and more generous than any lady alive, for generally women incline to avarice.

Tirant: I shall try to keep from responding to your slanderous lies, which cannot harm me, for everyone knows that a woman's strength is all in her tongue.

Stephanie: I shall now tell you of the three articles of faith, for God graced women with such natures that, if men understood us, they would have far less trouble inducing us to do their bidding. We all possess three inborn qualities which, as I have them myself, I can recognise on others; first, we are greedy; second, we love sweets; and third, we are lustful. The first article is that any man who courts a woman should discover which quality governs her. If she is greedy, for example,and has another lover, you must give her money, for only thus will she forsake your rival, and once you have her you can get yours back and hers too. If she has a sweet tooth, send her candy, exotic fruits, or whatever she prefers, and if she is lustful, just tell her how much you need what she likes best. There is something still better, however, which is that when married women fall in love, it is always with men who are lower than her husband, though every woman is born with the word 'Chastity' engraved on her brow in gold.

Tirant: I once read that faith and truth are united, faith being the trust in things unseen, which concern God and should be believed as the Church believes them, since reason is insufficient to explain Christianity's divine mysteries. We can only be saved through the Holy Scriptures, and as God is truth, everything that issues from his lips must be obeyed. Thus are faith and truth linked.

The Friar: "Now I shall speak of the qualities damsels need: first, they should learn to read: second, they should be devout and prayerful; third, they should observe all fast days; fourth, they should be chaste and modest; fifth, they should speak little and calmly; sixth, all their behaviour should be founded on honour; seventh, they should be humble; eighth, they should be moderate in eating and drinking; ninth, they should be meek and obedient; tenth, they should spurn laziness; eleventh, they should not be haughty; twelfth, they should be simple and humble; and thirteenth, they should cultivate womanly skills and abhor sloth. This is how they should be but they are quite the opposite, as may be seen from their virtues, which I shall now enumerate: first, they are wilful; second, they chatter and stroll about too much; and third, they are fickle in both love and judgement. [For men] The following virtues proceed from love: frankness; ardour; courtesy; humility; genteel eloquence; gaiety; self-control; modesty; prowess; patience; wisdom; discretion; good judgement; and bold spirit. A knight's virtues should be these: first, to be truthful; second to be loyal; third, to be bold; fourth, to be generous; and fifth, to love justice.

Pleasure-of-my-life: (On a deceiving fellow maid): I pray God to punish her. My only wish is to see her dragged naked through the town, while they beat her ribs, eyes and face with cow's lungs.

The Albanian: A knight who does not help, a priest who does not give, a Jew who does not lend and a peasant who does not serve are worthless.

Tirant: My Lord, though I know but little, I shall share what I learned as a boy: Christian doctrine tells us to believe not by reason but by faith, for these matters are so lofty that the more you delve into them, the less you understand. Though I bear arms I know something of spiritual matters, but even if I were learned enough to discuss the Holy Trinity, you would still have to elevate your understanding to fathom it.

The Author: Valencia is a blessed and most noble Spanish port endowed with valiant knights and abundant in everything but spices. It exports more merchandise than any other port and is inhabited by virtuous, peaceful and well-spoken men. Though its women are not very fair, they are wittier than elsewhere and captivate men's fancies with their charming ways and sweet discourse. In the future, Valencia's wickedness will be the cause of its downfall, for it will be populated by people of cursed seed and men will come to distrust their own father. According to Elias, it will have to bear three scourges: Jews, Saracens and Moorish converts.

[Valencian women are pretty nice looking these days. Presumably, they got fairer after the infusion of Jewish, Saracen and Morisco genes.]

The Author: The Easygoing Widow spent the whole night imagining things and battling within herself, uncertain of what to do and whom to ask for advice, but finally she acted in the manner of most women, whose fickleness makes them err when their need is greatest. She decided to poison herself so subtly that no one would detect her deed. 

Finally . . . A recognition of the principle of conflict of interest, still absent in Spanish professions even now.

KnightI shall gladly arrange the terms, though I cannot be the judge, for no knight, king-of-arms, or herald who gives advice can also judge. Not even the King of England.

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