Page 1

an Incomplete History of Wooing

prologue disclaimers and warnings

This book does not attempt to cover the entire history of love, sex and marriage, but rather the essentials and, of course, the fun parts. Please note that some aspects of this book may be speculations, guesstimations or lies (due to inadequate research) of what really went down. While this may prevent the use of this book as a trusted source on a research paper, please do not let such things detract from any conversation that might be started by it merely sitting on the coffee table.




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Courtship T hrough the Ages: 1000–1900 ad













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a {somewhat} brief overview

an idealized and often illicit form of love celebrated in the middle ages and the renaissance in which a knight or courtier devotes himself to a noblewoman who is usually married and feigns indifference to preserve her reputation


Until medieval times, courtship was not exactly the romantic rituals we picture today. In ancient times, marriages were matters of property, political agendas, or capture. It wasn’t until the 11th century that courtly love came into practice through the support of Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine, who was one of the wealthiest and most powerful women in Western Europe during the Middle Ages. troubadour poetry popularized these ideas and was an impetus in making courtly love standard practice. The importance of love in a relationship eventually emerged as a reaction to arranged marriages in later Medieval times. Chivalry was expected from men while honor and chastity were highly regarded virtues in women. During the Renaissance (1300–1500), the wealthy married to better their families social standings, but everyone else began to consider love as a basis of marriage. The Church fought the practice of courtly love, but through the Enlightenment, people began to reject their strict policies on sex and later started to associate sex with love. In the 16th and 17th centuries, Puritans held both sex and love in high regard within the confines of marriage while simultaneously developing the stifling prudishness that carried through the Victorian Era. By the

a class of lyric poets and poetmusicians often of knightly rank whose major theme was courtly love


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1800s, the gap between the classes began to close with the rise of the industrial revolution. Love became both a mighty force and a noble goal and men began to back away from sexuality in an effort to obtain the love of a shy, virginal woman. Women were glorified and idealized, but also preferred to be helpless and constrained, unable to even allude to bathroom functions let alone sex. Lasting practices and rules of etiquette for courtship were developed enmass during this time. 4

courtly love 1100–1300

The term amour courtois (“courtly love”) was given its original definition by Gaston Paris in his 1883 article, “Études sur les romans de la Table Ronde: Lancelot du Lac, II: Le conte de la charrette,” a treatise inspecting Chretien de Troyes’s Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart (1177). Paris defined amour courtois as involving both idolization and an ennobling discipline. The lover (idolizer) accepts the independence of his mistress and tries to make himself worthy of her by acting bravely and honorably and by doing whatever deeds she might desire. Sexual satisfaction may not have been either a goal or the end result. However, courtly love was not always entirely Platonic either, as it was based on attraction, which sometimes involved strong sexual feelings. Both the term and Paris’s definition of it were soon widely accepted and adopted. In 1936, C.S. Lewis wrote the influential book, The Allegory of Love, further solidifying courtly love as “love of a highly specialized sort, whose characteristics may be enumerated as Humility, Courtesy, Adultery, and the Religion of Love.” Later, historians such as D.W. Robertson in the 1960s, and John C. Moore and E. Talbot Donaldson in the 1970s, were critical of the term as being a modern invention. 5

by channeling their unrequited passions, knights were able to gain the energy for various spiritual and physical quests while being rewarded with various tokens of gratitude. pretty sweet deal.

just as a vassal was expected to honor and serve his lord, so a lover was expected to serve his lady, to obey her commands, and to gratify her merest whims. even then, women had all the power in the relationship.




WORSHIP from afar declaration

Stages of Courtly Love




keep it


of approaching

DEATH lovesickness

*try riding a white horse

These stages were identified by scholar Barbara Tuchman from her studies of medieval literature.


cathars preferred to refer to themselves as bons hommes et bonnes femmes, meaning good men and good women

Fana was the theme of mystical Arab love poetry and song developed in the first century that resulted in the widely popular, doomed, and surprisingly influential Cathar movement. The cathars were passionate purists who regarded themselves as the true Christians. They believed in the “Good God,” Sophia, Queen of Heaven and claimed that their principles predated those of the Catholics (who believed in the “other” God, who had imprisoned mankind in matter). Cathars did not kill, were vegetarian, and chaste. The Divine Feminine (the Lady, or Sophia, Queen of Heaven) was a key figure in their cosmology, and women could be clerics in their order. Unlike the Catholics they did not favor physical procreation, choosing instead to place their focus on their spiritual lives beyond the material world. One of the Cathars’ basic beliefs was that ‘true love’ was not the ordinary human love between husband and wife but rather the worship of a feminine savior (the Lady), a mediator between God and man, who waited in the sky to welcome the pure with a holy kiss and lead them into the Realm of Light. By contrast with this pure love, ordinary human sexuality and marriage were bestial and unspiritual. Cathars believed that the love of man and woman should be an earthly allegory of their spiritual love for the Queen of Heaven.


realm of light

God sky holy kiss



True Love




With this, I thee wed


When did we start this tradition of wedding/engagement rings and why?

asians / arabs egyptians Puzzle rings were a complex type The now-famous wedding of jewelry that were once popular band is thought to have originated in Ancient Egypt, in Asia, and these jewels had the charming knack of being able to fall where it is said that plant apart and put back together again sections were fashioned in - if you knew how to do this, of to circles to signify nevercourse. Wealthy Middle Eastern ending and immortal love. men then began to use these rings It was thought that the as wedding bands for their wives, fourth finger (which we now know as the ring finger) who were often forced to wear a contained a special vein that puzzle ring when their husband was away. The husband would know was connected directly to the heart, and therefore this upon his return whether any of his became the official finger for wives had been disloyal by removing the ring whilst he was away, because the wedding band. the ring was designed to collapse upon removal and could only be put together again if you had the skill and knowledge required.

europeans americans Several centuries ago, the During Colonial times, Europeans became rather all items of jewelry in taken with what we would America were prohibited class as an engagement ring, due to their apparent moral but was then called a Poesy worthlessness. Instead, a Ring. This ring was given more practical thimble was to a loved one as a form given as a token of love of promise, and signified and as a pledge of eternal fidelity and love. The Poesy togetherness. However, Ring was offered as a pledge after they were married, of eternal togetherness, the women tended to much as today’s engagement remove the bottom of their rings are offered as a promise “engagement thimble� to of eternal marriage. form a type of ring.

greeks The ancient Greeks are thought to have been the forerunners in the rising of the traditional engagement ring. Given as a token of care and affection, the rings used by the Greeks were known as betrothal rings and were given before marriage. However, the giving of these rings was not always a pre-requisite to marriage and was often given in the same way as a friendship ring might be given today.

romans As seen by their use of the wedding ring, ancient Romans weren’t the most sentimental of people, and the early version of their “engagement ring” were thought to have carved keys on them. It has been debated that this could have been to symbolise the woman’s right to access and own half of everything following marriage. However, the more sentimental like to think that the key may have been a key to her husband’s heart.

royalty and the affluent Engagement rings as we know them today - stunning gems encased in precious metals - became popular in around the fourteenth or fifteenth century, when the affluent and the royals began to exchange and wear these jewels. However, these items were so expensive that nobody other than the royals and the rich could afford to exchange them. It was to be many centuries before these engagement rings would become more popular or traditional.



This was developed further in Aquitaine in France in the 12th century and spread to other European countries. The art of courtly love was practised in English courts from the 1300’s to the 1500’s. During this period of time marriages were arranged and had little to do with love. A successful marriage was perceived as one that brought material advantages to the participants and their families. As love was clearly unrelated to marriage the requirement for romance could be gained outside marriage – as long according to as the rules relating to chastity and fidelity were strictly adhered to. documented in the song of roland, the code described qualities idealized by knighthood, such as bravery, courtesy, honor, and gallantry toward women

The romance of Courtly Love practised during the Middle Ages was combined with the Code of Chivalry. There were strict rules of courtly love and the art of courtly love was practised by the members of the courts across Europe during the Middle Ages. The romance, rules and art of courtly love allowed knights and ladies to show their admiration regardless of their marital state. It was a common occurrence for a married lady to give a token to a knight of her choice to be worn during a Medieval tournament. There were rules which governed courtly love but sometimes the parties, who started their relationship with such elements of courtly love, would become deeply involved. A famous example of a relationship which was stirred by romantic courtly love and romance is described in the Legend of King Arthur, where his Queen,

modern myth the chastity belt was used as an anti-temptation device during the crusades, that when the knight was away from his young wife, he would force her to wear the belt day and night


the ritual of

Dance 1000–1900




a song written by an anonymous troubadour

In orchard where the leaves of hawthorn hide, A lady holds a lover by her side, Until the watcher in the dawning cried. Ah God, ah God, the dawn! It comes how soon.

Sweet lover come, renew our lovemaking Within the garden where the light birds sing, Until the watcher sound the severing. Ah God, ah God, the dawn! It comes how soon.

“Ah, would to God that never night must end, Nor this my lover far from me should wend, Nor watcher day nor dawning ever send! Ah God, ah God, the dawn! It comes how soon.

Through the soft breezes that are blown from there, From my own lover, courteous, noble and fair, From his breath have I drunk a draught most rare.� Ah God, ah God, the dawn! It comes how soon.

Come let us kiss, dear lover, you and I, Within the meads where pretty song-birds fly; We will do all despite the jealous eye: Ah God, ah God, the dawn! It comes how soon.

Gracious the lady is, and debonaire, For her beauty a many look at her. And in her heart is loyal love astir. Ah God, ah God, the dawn! It comes how soon.

Guinevere fell in love with Sir Lancelot. Many illicit court romances were fuelled by the practise and art of courtly love. The ideals of courtly love was publicized in the poems, ballads, writings and literary works of various authors of the Middle Ages. Geoffrey Chaucer, the most famous author of the Middle Ages, wrote stories about courtly love in his book Canterbury Tales. The Miller’s Tale describes the art of courtly love. Geoffrey Chaucer exhibited courtly love for the beautiful Blanche, the wife of John of Gaunt, whereas his marriage to Phillippa de Roet was seen as a good but practical match. The wandering minstrels and troubadours of the Middle Ages sang ballads about courtly love and were expected to memorize the words of long poems describing the valour and the code of chivalry followed by the Medieval knights. The Dark Age myths of Arthurian Legends featuring King Arthur, Camelot and the Knights of the Round Table further strengthen the idea of a Knights Code of Chivalry and Courtly Love.


avoid avarice

do what she says

mind your

don’t be a

Be Modest


speak no evil


P’s Q’s and

keep it secret



actions ≤



woo if you wouldn’t




desires chastity

The Art of Courtly Love by Andreas Capellanus, 1174



the word love appears 281 times in the old and new testaments of the bible combined.

renaissance 1300–1500

if a couple who was already betrothed had sexual intercourse, then they were generally considered married. no need for a wedding!

Clasped hands; couples in facing profile; garlands of myrtle; the words fede (faith) and volo (I wish to): these are graphic declarations of love and fidelity that grace Renaissance art. Conjuring up elements of contemporary marriage ritual and tokens of amorous exchange, they afford an unparalleled insight into private life in Renaissance Italy. Marriage itself in this period was not uniform, without clear boundaries or legal consistency. Indeed, before the edicts of the Council of Trent systematized the requirements of a proper wedding in 1563, only mutual consent was an absolute necessity for marriage. People did not need to be married in church or by priests; they did not need to post banns or to appear before a notary; they did not need to exchange rings; nor were witnesses required (although most weddings were public acts). Clandestine marriages, undertaken to outwit disapproving parents, were common. It was the very fluidity of the marriage vows that made the traditional rituals and their public manifestations so important for weddings sanctioned by society. This was true at all social levels but was especially vital for the wealthy. Indeed, public wedding ceremonies 22

and the material objects generated for them provided the physical demonstration of the marriage’s legitimacy. The gifts and paraphernalia that formed the cornerstones of wedding celebrations were discussed at length and in great specificity in the abundant contemporary texts that recorded particular weddings and inventoried couples’ belongings, as well as in more generalized writings on marriage.

because there was much confusion about betrothal ceremonies and wedding ceremonies, the custom of betrothals began fading during the 1500’s. as a result, a great deal more emphasis was placed on the wedding


Marco Antonio Altieri’s treatise Li nuptiali (Nuptials), written in Rome between 1506 and 1513 and prompted by a wedding that took place in 1504, maps out a lengthy and lavish series of ceremonies that began with an agreement including a ratified list of the dote, or dowry. Each of the following rituals involved an exchange of particular gifts. The most legally binding ritual was the so-called arraglia, during which the bride and groom were asked to pledge themselves to each other while a sword was held over their heads. The bride was then presented with three rings, one of which bore the arms of the groom’s family. Other gifts exchanged during the arraglia were a silver dish and a boccale, or jug, displaying the arms of both families. A Mass was usually planned as one of the final group of elaborate ceremonies that concluded with the bride’s arrival in her new home, where her husband’s family


Bianca Coldiroli d’Annono

Francesco Melzi


Leonardo Da Vinci

Jacopo Saltarelli

Leonardo Tornabuoni

Bartolomeo di Pasquino

Lust Connections: Leonardo D a V inci

Feb 14

No one knows the true story of how Valentine’s Day came to be. Here are some vague speculations of its history.

saint valentine #1

saint valentine #2

christian lupercalia

birds mating

One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

According to one legend, Valentine actually sent the first ‘valentine’ greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl, who may have been his jailor’s daughter, who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed ‘From your Valentine,’ an expression that is still in use today.

Some claim that the Christian church may have decided to celebrate Valentine’s feast day in the middle of February in an effort to ‘christianize’ celebrations of the pagan Lupercalia festival. In ancient Rome, February was the official beginning of spring and was considered a time for purification. Lupercalia, which began February 15, was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.

During the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France and England that February 14 was the beginning of birds’ mating season, which added to the idea that the middle of February, Valentine’s Day, should be a day for romance.

the dress was most likely not white because that color was not in vogue until queen victoria in the 1800s

lived. In the days leading up to the Mass, feasts were arranged and the bride’s home was decorated with tapestries and sideboards laden with plates and glassware. The bridegroom, accompanied by music, presented the bride with her clothes and ornaments, which included a chain and a diadem. On the Sunday morning of the Mass, she wore these along with earrings and a necklace with a jeweled pendant, as well as a belt her father placed around her waist over her dress. She then rode astride a white horse to church, where myrtle hung and incense burned. Following the Mass, the bridegroom led his bride home to another great feast; grain and vegetables were thrown from the windows and guests shouted out lascivious jibes. During this banquet and on the following days, epithalamia (marriage orations and poems) might be read and comedies and dances were performed. In a culminating moment, on the third day, the bride’s mother visited and opened the cassoni, or bridal chests, to confirm that they held the linen and other items that had been agreed upon. And then there were the weddings of the ruling families throughout Italy. These were spectacles that are almost impossible for us to imagine, lasting for days and for which innumerable artifacts, many of them ephemeral, were created. When Annibale Bentivoglio, the eldest son of Giovanni Bentivoglio II, ruler of Bologna, married 26

Lucrezia d’Este (the natural daughter of Duke Ercole d’Este of Ferrara) in 1487, it was necessary to destroy houses and shops along the path of the triumphal procession through the streets to accommodate the crowds of spectators. At the Palazzo Bentivoglio, theatrical events were held in the sala maggiore, whose decorations inspired the awe of contemporaries: benches topped by spalliere, tapestries, great fronds of myrtle and juniper, and a grand credenza covered with precious vessels of silver and gold. Following the festivities came the serious concerns of marriage and the establishment of a family, which were, of course, fundamental to the continuation of civic society. Many authors wrote in praise of the state of marriage, and a stream of literature defined the nature of a good wife and a properly run household. One of the earliest of these texts is the Venetian Francesco Barbaro’s De re uxoria (On Wifely Duties) of about 1415–16. At about the same time, at least six other books were published in Venice dealing specifically with issues of marriage, the duties of wives, and the raising of children. Most of these maintained that marriage was valuable in that it created a “perpetual union of man and woman for the procreation of children [that] is natural, socially useful, and, if well ordered, emotionally satisfying.” 27

The primary functions of the institution of marriage centered on the family and society, and love rarely entered into the equation. Yet the subjects of love, beauty, and attraction mesmerized Renaissance men and women. They were discussed—even dissected—endlessly in poems, dialogues, and treatises from perspectives ranging from the most base to the most elevated. The pleasures and pain of love could be weighed against each other, even within a single poem. The same dichotomy was rehearsed in prose. The great Renaissance paintings on the themes of love and marriage owe their rich complexity, and often ambiguity, of meaning to the coexistence of this broad range of contemporary thought on the subject. Love can bring pleasure or pain; beauty can inspire lascivious thoughts or bring us closer to the divine; marriage makes it impossible to live a spiritual life or provides us with an ideal companion who brings us harmony. In the 15th through the early 17th centuries, music began to be printed and sold. Musical themes spread rapidly throughout Europe, particularly those developed by the troubadours of Provence in earlier centuries. With the coming of the Renaissance, the Church lost some of its power to control ideas. The notion of courtly love, so 28


possibly written by king henry vii

Alas my love, you do me wrong To cast me off discourteously: And I have loved you so long, Delighting in your company. Refrain: Greensleeves was all my joy Greensleeves was my delight: Greensleeves was my heart of gold, And who but my Lady Greensleeves. I have been ready at your command, To grant whatever you would crave I have wagered my life and land, Your love and goodwill for to have. 29

Refrain Thou couldst desire no earthly thing, But still thou hadst it most readily, Thy music still to play and sing, And yet thou wouldst not love me. Refrain Greensleeves now farewell, adieu God I pray to prosper thee, For I am still thy lover true Come once again and love me. Refrain

distasteful to the clergy, was widely celebrated in the cultural centers of Europe. It was only occasionally taken seriously in the courts and castles of the elite, but its imagery was inviting and it sounded good. There is a long standing debate over whether England’s King Henry VIII did, in fact, write “Greensleeves,” one of the most celebrated, and certainly most frequently performed, love songs ever written. It’s doubtful whether we can ever know for sure. This much we do know: Henry VIII was well educated and thought of himself as quite the Renaissance man. He played several instruments including organ, harp, and virginals, so he certainly could have picked out the melody. We have a love letter written by him to Anne Boleyn which displays an eloquence (and impatience) that leads one to believe he could have written the song’s lyrics. Lines from this letter such as “struck by the dart of love” sound a bit trite, but it shows he probably knew a decent metaphor when he heard one. Most likely the tune already existed and Henry simply added his own lyrics since this was a perfectly acceptable practice in those days. Henry no doubt thought of himself as a latter day troubadour wooing his lady love. But, as Anne was to find out, like some other troubadours of olde, Henry was a fickle lover and quickly moved on to the next muse. 30

barley-break (bahr-lee breyk) 1. Renaissance-speak for ‘a roll in the hay’. 2. A popular chasing game, mentioned often in literary sources of the 16th to 18th centuries, played either by children or young people of both sexes. The game reconstructed by the Opies involved three mixed-sex pairs of players. One pair stood in the middle of the playing area (called hell), and one pair stood at each end. The two end pairs had to change partners, without being caught by the middle pair, and the latter had to hold hands throughout. An alternative name was Last Couple in Hell.

hell 31

Punning sexual allusions and bawdy language were quite common in the love songs of this period. The Renaissance delighted in images of outdoor lovemaking and thinly disguised it by employing the metaphor of dancing as in Thomas Morley’s song, “Now Is the Month of Maying” The Spring, clad all in gladness, Doth laugh at Winter’s sadness, fa la, And to the bagpipe’s sound The nymphs tread out their ground, fa la. Fie then, why sit we musing, Youth’s sweet delight refusing, fa la. Say, dainty nymphs, and speak, Shall we play at barley-break? fa la. During the reign of Elizabeth I, Shakespeare, like other playwrights, sprinkled songs throughout his stage plays. We don’t have the original melodies but, like Greensleeves, they were probably sung to well-known tunes of the day, whichever ones the actors 32

shall i compare thee to a summer’s day? thou art more lovely and more temperate: rough winds do shake the darling buds of may, and summer’s lease hath all too short a date: sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, and often is his gold complexion dimm’d; and every fair from fair sometime declines, by chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimm’d; but thy eternal summer shall not fade, nor lose possession of that fair thou owest; nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade, when in eternal lines to time thou growest; so long as men can breathe, or eyes can see, so long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

happened to know. Although Shakespeare’s love sonnets are deeply moving, the love songs in his plays tend to be more for laughs. Slow ballads probably didn’t go over well with a rambunctious live audience just waiting for an excuse to throw rotten vegetables!


puritans 1500–1700

Puritans were not anti-sex. Quite to the contrary, they were value-oriented about love and sex, even romantically sentimental. The Protestant Reformation combined the enlightened Renaissance (marital sex was held as good and wholesome) with the malevolent Christian position that continued to burn women as witches. Martin Luther (1483-1546) was a German monk, theologian, university professor, priest, father of Protestantism, and church reformer whose ideas started the Protestant Reformation and changed the course of Western civilization. He battled against Catholic asceticism in advocating the enjoyment of every pleasure that was not sinful. He claimed that celibacy was invented by the Devil and that priests could marry. He asserted marriage was not a sacrament at all, but a civil matter. In 1532, he held that Christ probably had sexual intercourse with Mary Magdalene and other women so as to fully experience the nature of man. Luther asserted that sexual impulses were both normal and irrepressible. He cheerfully loved his wife and held sex in marriage as good. For Luther, marriage was the institution established by God for the expression of human sexuality: no other form 34

during this time prostitution was not just for those who had no other choice, but was a quick way to make cash, even for married women.


of sexual relation was permissible. As the Biblical phrase so often quoted by the reformers put it, adulterers and fornicators should not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. When Lutheran reformers began to put pressure on secular authorities to make society more godly, one of their first objects of attack was the public brothel, the most conspicuous example of society’s toleration of what reformers regarded as the sin of fornication. Official brothels existed in many towns, sometimes even owned by the city Council, and the brothel-keeper was frequently a salaried civic official. Civic brothels were a civic possession, an amenity: thus in the fifteenth century, when the Emperor Sigismund and his retinue visited several towns of the Empire, they were feasted and entertained in the brothels as part of their civic welcome. In Ulm, there are reports of boys aged twelve spending time in the brothel and though the Council thought this a little too young, it considered boys of fifteen quite old enough to visit prostitutes. Brothels were centres of amusement, not just of sexual commerce, where dice, cards and other games were played. City authorities sometimes set the fees prostitutes could charge, deliberately restricting the women’s earnings so that journeymen could afford to pay their prices. For the parties of young men who went there, visits to the brothel were part of the progress to male adulthood. Society sanctioned and legitimated male

bundling This custom was practised in many parts of 16th and 17th century Europe and America. Courting couples were allowed to share a bed, fully clothed and often with a “bundling board” between them or a bolster cover tied over the girls legs. The idea was to allow the couple to talk and get to know each other but in the safe confines of the girl’s house.

young boys would often rape women without much consequence and could masturbate as a sexual outlet. womenwere not allowed to touch themselves.

sexual drive as energy which could and should be given expression: sexual experience was part of growing up. Yet paradoxically, although sixteenth-century people regarded women as the more sexual sex, less able to control their lusts, no such ‘outlet’ was permitted them. To some extent, pre-Reformation churchmen had tended to tolerate the existence of brothels, arguing that although they were sinful, they pre vented yet greater sin. In one metaphor, brothels were a kind of sewer which kept the rest of society clean: prostitutes ensured the purity of ‘respectable’ women. Luther turned this argument on its head. Brothels, he argued, actually imperil ‘honourable’ wives and daughters, because they encourage young men to behave promiscuously: “For it is frivolous to say that [if brothels existed] less seduction and adulterywould occur. For a youth who has been intimate with whores and has first overcome his shame will not keep away from married women or virgins if he gets the opportunity.” For Luther, public brothels simply legitimated sexual rapaciousness in men; in his view, young men should marry. Ordering and channelling male sexuality into marriage was the solution, not encouraging anarchic male desire. In much of what Luther wrote on


marriage, sexuality and the household, he was developing and repeating sentiments common in the pre-Reformation era. But what was new was his insistence that these ideals apply to all Christians, men and women, clergy and lay. For Luther, natural womanhood meant desiring marriage and motherhood; manliness was inseparable from the exercise authority over wife and children; and God’s own ordinance hallowed these roles. the synod of dort concluded that 5 of his teachings were true, making up the acronym t.u.l.i.p. meaning total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints.

John Calvin (1509-1564) was the opposite of Martin Luther. Calvin was cheerless and had a viciously malevolent theology based on total human depravity and the wrath of God. An unhappy and unhealthy ascetic, he had ulcers, tuberculosis, and migraine headaches. He considered life of little value and God as a harsh tyrant. Calvin set up a brutal political theocracy in Geneva. No dancing, fancy clothes, or jewelry were allowed. Death penalty for adultery. Even legitimate love was stringently regulated. Solemn weddings with no revelry. The Calvin marriage had two functions: (1) to produce offspring, (2) to eliminate incontinence. Most Puritans thoroughly rejected the inhuman joylessness of Calvinism, except for a vocal minority such as John Knox in the United States. His Blue Laws of the 1650’s 38

nathaniel hawthorne, author of the scarlet letter, descends from both witchcraft judge john hathorne and also of sadistic puritan magistrate william hathorne. his guilt of these relations was one of the inspirations for the novel.


were against Sunday amusements, smoking, drinking, gambling, fancy clothing. He also promoted public whippings, scarlet letters, execution for adulterers, and the Salem “witch” executions (executed 26 women and two dogs in 1692). Stern puritan traits were mainly expressions that masked moods of mischief and romance. Church trial records show that much sexual “sinning” existed. But only sex outside of marriage was attacked. Puritans greatly enjoyed sex inside marriage and condemned the “popish” concept of the virtue of virginity. Most Puritans were tenderly romantic and good lovers. The image of the sexless and stony heart Puritan is false. Consider the 17th Century Puritan, John Milton (Paradise Lost); he was virtuous, but experienced a healthy view of sex. He displayed idealistic and romantic views about marriage. Milton sent tracts to Parliament urging modern-day, easy divorce (“with one gentle stroke to wipe away 10,000 tears out of the life of man”). Milton’s Paradise Lost projects a benevolent view of Adam and Eve in a romantic love context. Milton entirely rejected St. Augustine’s malevolent views of women, sex and life.

these “wily temptresses� paid the price They were hanged on Gallows Hill in 1692 june 10 Bridget Bishop july 19 Rebecca Nurse Sarah Good Susannah Martin Elizabeth Howe Sarah Wildes

september 22 Martha Corey Mary Eastey Ann Pudeator Alice Parker Mary Parker Wilmott Redd Margaret Scott

august 19 Martha Carrier


16th Century Puritans tried to combine the ideals of love with the normality of sex in marriage. Woman’s status improved under puritanism (e.g., a woman could separate, even divorce, if beaten). Property rights and inheritance laws improved. Marriage became a civil contract. 17th Century Puritans were pious and severe, but also strongly sexed and somewhat romantic. 18th Century Puritans developed the stifling prudishness of the Victorians.



How did plants become a method of communicating emotions?

florigraphy During the 1800’s, there were books and dictionaries on florigraphy - the science of sweet things. These books were compiled of drawings of flowers and their meanings. The arrangements and compositions of flowers and herbs were as significant as the meanings. For example, a marigold alone meant grief; however, if it were brought together with a rose, it expressed the bittersweets or pleasant pains of love. There were, too, basic grammar rules of florigraphy as explained in a book that was written in the 1800’s called The Language of Flowers. Depending on how the flower was drawn it could have several different meanings.

tussie mussie In Colonial times, nosegays or tussie mussies as they were called, were given as gifts. Here too, the different herbs and flowers symbolized different things. Imagine receiving a small bouquet of violets and knowing that the person giving them to you was pledging their loyalty without uttering a word. It was common practise at the beginning of a courtship in the Victorian era for suitors to give their intended a tussie mussie. The types of flowers often changed as the relationship grew allowing the gentleman to say volumes without speaking a word! Today’s society is no different than those of a few hundred years ago. Flowers still hold significant a meaning.

deviate from roses Honeysuckle - devoted love - said to protect your garden from evil. It is known as the ‘love bind’ - symbolizing a lover’s embrace in its clinging growing habits. The heady fragrance of the flowers was believed to induce dreams of love and passion. If the bloom is brought into the house a wedding is said to follow within the year. Forget-me-nots - true love and remembrance - mythology describes this as the flower chosen by a brave knight as a posy for his sweetheart before going to battle, as he knelt to gather the tiny blue flowers he fell into a river and was swept away, calling to his love to ‘forget me not’.



the age of reason 1700–1800

people who wanted to speak to the king could not knock on his door. using the left little finger, they had to gently scratch on the door, until they were granted permission. many grew that fingernail longer than the others

By mid-18th Century, emotional love had fallen out of favor among the upper classes and intellectuals (rationalists). They wanted anew approach that would be more stable and productive. They turned from emotion to reason. Theology and metaphysics yielded to mathematics and physics. They scorned enslavement to emotion. Emotionalism became intolerable to men in the Age or Reason. They wanted women of intellect. They separated or dichotomized the mind from the body. The epitome of rational gallantry was Louis XIV, the sun king of France. All Europe saw him as the ideal of the aristocracy and a model for all lesser men. He established elaborate rules of etiquette that served to suppress all evidence of emotion. Nobility concealed feelings with the aid of detached reason and carefully rehearsed manners. In between the gallant rakes and the subdued Puritans arose an upper-middle-class man (as described in Samuel Pepys’ diary, 1683). The age of enlightenment had arrived. New scientific and rational outlooks replaced mystical and intuitive ones of the past. A humane and tolerant view of man that saw him as basically good, worthy and admirable replaced the Christian theology that saw man as besotted and laden with guilt and sin. 44

Never before had such emphasis been placed on manners. An artificial code of formal behavior was consciously and deliberately applied in order to control one’s emotions. The emotional life of humans disappeared behind the facade of elegant manners and icy self-control. Almost any behavior was acceptable as long as emotions were concealed. Even private intimate conversations were stilted with remote and detached words. In line with the interest in etiquette of the time, Benjamin Franklin sought to develop his character by a plan of thirteen virtues, which he developed in 1726 at the age of 20 and continued to practice in some form for the rest of his life. His autobiography lists his thirteen virtues as: 1. TEMPERANCE. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation. 2. SILENCE. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation. 3. ORDER. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time. 4. RESOLUTION. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve. 5. FRUGALITY. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing. 6. INDUSTRY. Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions. 7. SINCERITY. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly. 8. JUSTICE. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.



What’s with all the plants having connections to love and courtship?

mistletoe magic From the earliest times mistletoe has been one of the most magical, mysterious, and sacred plants of European folklore. It was considered to bestow life and fertility; a protection against poison; and an aphrodisiac. The mistletoe of the sacred oak was especially sacred to the ancient Celtic Druids. On the sixth night of the moon white-robed Druid priests would cut the oak mistletoe with a golden sickle. Two white bulls would be sacrificed amid prayers that the recipients of the mistletoe would prosper.

Later, the ritual of cutting the mistletoe from the oak came to symbolize the emasculation of the old King by his successor. Mistletoe was long regarded as both a sexual symbol and the “soul� of the oak. It was gathered at both mid-summer and winter solstices, and the custom of using mistletoe to decorate houses at Christmas is a survival of the Druid and other preChristian traditions.

kissing under the mistletoe Kissing under the mistletoe is first found associated with the Greek festival of Saturnalia and later with primitive marriage rites. They probably originated from two beliefs. One belief was that it has power to bestow fertility. In Scandinavia, mistletoe was considered a plant of peace, under which enemies could declare a truce or warring spouses kiss and make-up. Later, the eighteenth-century English credited with a certain magical appeal called a kissing ball. At Christmas time a young lady standing under a ball of

mistletoe, brightly trimmed with evergreens, ribbons, and ornaments, cannot refuse to be kissed. Such a kiss could mean deep romance or lasting friendship and goodwill. If the girl remained unkissed, she cannot expect not to marry the following year. In some parts of England the Christmas mistletoe is burned on the twelfth night lest all the boys and girls who have kissed under it never marry. Whether we believe it or not, it always makes for fun and frolic at Christmas celebrations.


World’s Greatest Lover: giacomo girolamo casanova de seingalt

Born April 2nd, 1725 , Venice, Republic of Venice & Died June 14th, 1793, Duchcov, Bohemia

his game

advice to other guys

Act I – discover an attractive woman in trouble with a brutish or jealous lover Act II – ameliorate her difficulty Act III – she shows her gratitude; then seduce her for a short exciting affair Act IV – boredom sets in, so plead unworthiness and arrange for her marriage or pairing with a worthy man, exit scene “there is no honest woman with an uncorrupted heart whom a man is not sure of conquering by dint of gratitude. It is one of the surest and shortest means. “Alcohol and violence, for Casanova, were not proper tools of seduction. Instead, attentiveness and small favors should be employed to soften a woman’s heart, but “a man who makes known his love by words is a fool”. Verbal communication is essential; “without speech, the pleasure of love is diminished by at least two-thirds”, but words of love must be implied not boldly proclaimed.

9. MODERATION. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve. 10. CLEANLINESS. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation. 11. TRANQUILITY. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable. 12. CHASTITY. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation. 13. HUMILITY. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

The rationalists scorned the gloom of Christianity. They scrapped the church’s concept of women as evil, but they often viewed women as ornaments, toys or unreasonable nitwits and still held women as subservient. By mid 18th Century, flirtation and romance were no longer an exclusive part of aristocratic tradition, but were common in the bourgeois or middle class. 18th Century love idealized the mythical Don Juan who was impeccably mannered, lustful, haughty, and false. Love was often reduced to malicious sport with the motive to seduce. casanova was an adventurer who had a brilliant mind. He wrote two dozen books covering math, history, astronomy, and philosophy.


victorian 1800–1900

During 19th Century Victorianism, the ideas of nobility and birthright were declining with the rise of capitalism and the industrial revolution. Newly rich entrepreneurs were growing wealthy and tried to copy ways of the upper class with lower class customs. Urbane control of one’s emotions was losing popularity to “sensibility”. A maudlin “sensitivity” became the ideal. Love now became a mighty force and noble goal. Men grew shy, inhibited and fearful of rebuff as they began backing away from sexuality. They sought not the dazzling flirtatious woman, but the shy, virginal one. Victorianism stood for high “moral” standards, close-knit families and glorified views of women. At the same time, prostitution was widespread and the structure of marriage was crumbling as women began revolting against their oppressive “glorified” status. The Victorians romanticized love as well as tragedy. They revered courtship and love, despite their strict moral code and rules of etiquette. To gatherings, young women were chaperoned, usually by their mothers or some other married woman, to ensure 50

nothing ‘improper’ occurred. Various books dictated proper etiquette; Godey’s Lady’s Book and Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management were popular. Balls and dances were the means by which a young girl was introduced into Society. She was expected to stay close to her chaperone until someone asked her to dance and was quickly returned to the chaperone after each dance. To dance more than three times with the same partner was considered forward and improper. ‘The delight of the average hostess’s heart is the well-bred man, unspoiled by conceit, who can always be depended upon to do his duty. He arrives in good time, fills his card before very long, and can be asked to dance with a plain, neglected wallflower or two without resenting it. He takes his partner duly to the refreshment-room after each dance, if she wishes to go, and provides her with whatever she wishes. Before leaving her, he sees her safe at her chaperone’s side.’ –Mrs. Humphry Manners for Men (1897) Under this strict code of etiquette, the Victorians invented new ways to play courtship. Items of apparel such as fans, gloves, and handkerchiefs were given meaning as were 51

better yourself




think before

pda =

don’t chew


unacceptable you speak

be positive

study etiquette

no public primping

never have

private conversations in public




give compliments

to the

men don’t curse

Rules for Ladies


support her

wear your jacket

she Curtsies you Bow

remove your


stand up always say

excuse me if you bump into

a lady

when she enters


Rules for Gentlemen

open doors

walk on the


objects given as gift called ‘love tokens’ such as flowers, painted miniatures, or jewelry set with gemstones of particular significance. The diamond ring which symbolizes innocence became popular as the engagement stone during this era. Love letters and cards allowed expression of deep emotion which society dictated was improper to be expressed otherwise. Valentine’s Day was the day which allowed complete written freedom. Valentines varied from paper hearts to intricate designs of gilded lace, powdered glass, and parchment art. Books were sold containing verse to copy into customized cards for those not poetically inclined. Queen Victoria and her family were role models in Victorian society. Subsequently, the ‘perfect marriage’ became the socially acceptable goal of courtship. Jean Jacques Rousseau was one of the most influential forces in forming a new, viciously oppressive political “liberalism” that was combined with slobbering sentimentality. He often displayed sick sentimental tears. He hungered for cruelty and beatings and lived with women vastly inferior to him in order to boost his low confidence and weak self-esteem. He gave away his own children. He wrote with maudlin sentimentality. Europe was deeply under Rousseau’s influence. Rousseau 54

the art of



key Fanning Fast – Independance Fanning Slow – Engaged Fan Snapped Open/Shut – Kiss me Wide Open Fan – Love Half Open Fan – Friends Closed Fan – Hate Fan Rested on Right Cheek – Yes Fan Placed To Left Ear – Leave me alone Fanning Face With Right Hand – Come on Fanning Face With Left Hand – Leave me Fan Placed To Lips – Kiss Me Resting Closed Fan To Right Eye – When can I see you? Open Fan Pressed To Left Ear – Do not betray our secret Pulling Fan Across The Eyes – I apologize Fan Twirling – We are being watched Presenting The Fan Closed – Do you love me?


when middle–class women began to wear drawers in the early 1800s, they were feminised by fabric, ornamentation and an open crotch. during this time, many women made a switch towards closed crotched underwear


appealed to the seriousness of the middle class. Laughter and wit went out of style. Emphasis began to focus on female modesty. Open displays of sentimentality, melancholy, and tearfulness became chic. For example, the Irish poet, Tom Moore, got sentimental even for the stones in a road. The clinging-vine personality in women developed: women should be modest, virtuous and sweet. They should be weak and anxious to lean on and be dominated by strong men. With rising prosperity and development of public school systems made possible by the industrial revolution, children began to move outside of the home, depriving women of many of their functions. The reasonably affluent man no longer needed an all-work woman. He could now concentrate more on a woman’s value as a love partner. Togetherness concepts developed. With his sweet home-making wife, a new style of home-life patriarch arose. The stay-at-home husband was to spend every available hour with his good wife. (e.g., Corbett’s book, Advice To A Young Man, frowns on social activities with others in stating, “If they are not company enough for each other, it is but a sad affair”.) Women had to be “morally” spotless. This led to excessive prudishness in word and actions. Prudishness then spread from sex to bathroom

SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Decent women may feel no pleasure, sexual or otherwise, during intercourse. Only prostitutes may feel pleasure. functions. Encyclopaedia Britannica of 1842 stated that the female had no privileges except to barely consent or refuse a man. A woman being courted was permitted to summon up a “timid blush” or the “faintest of smiles” to convey her feelings. The Brownings supposedly never saw each other entirely naked. Unites States Surgeon General, William Hammond, stated that decent women felt not the slightest pleasure during intercourse. Many doctors considered sexual desire in women to be pathological and warned that female passion could cause sterility. Many thought only prostitutes could enjoy sex. The woman’s role was glorified and idealized, but this was only a new pretext for their continued subjugation by men. Women literally made themselves helpless through fashion. They immobilized themselves in laces and stays. 58


Victorian men were patriarchal and stern, but they played this role at their own sexual expense. Out of this Victorian repression arose a great hunger for a fantasy sex life. Flagellation, pornography, and prostitution rose dramatically (e.g., 50,000 prostitutes in London in 1850 and over 300,000 copies of the pornographic book, A Monk’s Awful Disclosures, were sold before the Civil War.) Nearly all written work about the private lives of Victorians, on the other hand, were “purified” by omitting all references to sex and love. Emancipation started in 1792 with Mary Wallstonecraft and her attacks on marriage and the subjugation of women. Her work was undermined by her badly misguided condemnation of masturbation and her advocation of government force to stop prostitution. In 1833, Oberlin was the first college to admit women. In 1837, Mt. Holyoke became the first women’s college. With the rise of capitalism, women gained economic rights never before enjoyed. Capitalism broke up autocratic church power and the feudal nobility pattern. During the 1840s, the new middle class began growing rapidly. Capitalistic economics were accelerating the dissolution of class differences 60

along with ancient social ties and repressive customs. The rigid Victorian home was threatened by female suffrage, divorce reforms and free love. Victorianism was a desperate delaying action against inevitable changes made by capitalism and the industrial revolution. Victorianism and religion tried to fight change and to retain the subjugated position of women by government force and police activities.




The Incomplete History of Wooing  

I researched and compiled information from various sources about the rituals and practices of courtship from 1000-1900. This 70 page pubicat...