This morning I came across this article, which suggested the 8 acts of chivalry which should be brought back into modern society. I come across these articles rather frequently, and they usually make similar points: open doors, pull out chairs, etc.
Reading Andreas Capellanus’ “The Art of Courtly Love”, I was struck by how much love is defined in the age of courtly love. Much of the book is spent on discussing how if someone is a lover then he MUST do x. An example is at one point when the book states “Love causes a rough and uncouth man to be distinguished for his handsomeness”. To me, that means if you can’t not brush your teeth and claim to be in love.
Love in the Chivalrous era claimed to be about being captured, about humility, about serving that whom you loved. Yet it rather seems to me that instead, it was about serving this ideal of love. For if one were to read to this, and attempt to follow the commands laid out for a lover, one would be consumed with following every step laid out within the book. Why? Because by following every step, one could be labeled a “lover”.
I think it is interesting that we carry today this definition of love and of good manners. We say “holding the door open” is chivalrous – when perhaps it is just good manners. Not every one who doesn’t hold open a door for me is an uncouth person, and not everyone who holds open the door for me is a prince.