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PART FIVE— THE SHIFT TO ABSOLUTISM
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PART FIVE—
THE SHIFT TO ABSOLUTISM


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Chapter Eleven—
From Courtly Knights to Noble Courtiers

The Model Consolidates

Whereas the feudal lord could rely on his privileged position by birth alone, Castiglione's courtier fashioned a code for a new nobility which, being mostly of middle class origin, needed distinguishing traits in its outward appearance and behavior. The medieval nobleman had a use for manners only when he had to prove himself at court; the Renaissance nobleman needed them in all circumstances, since he often derived his power and status solely from having held office or having officeholders among his forebears. This gave rise to a relatively fixed political class—a phenomenon that had started in Venice early in the fourteenth century. Historians have pointed out that in the middle of the sixteenth century politics in Italy came to be formally associated with noble lineage.[1] Although it was only in the relative stability of the years 1550–1560 that this situation became crystallized, Castiglione's portrait of the courtier reflects this incipient shift where it prescribes nobility and the imitation of the feudal knight by acquiring the martial arts (e.g., 1.14).[2]

Since the new nobility no longer lived through feudal grants, the ethic of feudal rewards had outlived its function. Absolutist centralization tended to reserve land and fiscal rights for the state: the rewards for service were now offices, favor, and influence. Accordingly, traditional “liberality” acquired the bright new function of making the prince shine through a splendid theatrical display of wealth and power


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which wrapped the whole court within its glow. Through the ancien régime, this life of conspicuous consumption became the trademark of princes and their acolytes, while courtiers looked on that style of life as a flattering backdrop for their own social preferment. Recent scholarship has stressed the element of “play” in the life of Castiglione's courts,[3] but it might be more appropriate to speak of “theatricality.” The courtier sees himself as constantly on stage. Since he is what he seems to be, his social status is based on appearance.[4] Shakespeare's generalization “the world's a stage” was clearly inspired by the spectacle of the court, and the baroque insistence on “the theater of the world” was motivated likewise. Recent critical focusing on the “mystification of power” and the process of “self-fashioning” implied in the court life of Elizabethan England and its literature points to a phenomenon that had common roots beyond those confines.[5] The courtier had to be able to use his public image to his advantage, almost “pushing it ahead of his true self”: “whenever he has to go where he is not yet known, he must send there first, before his own person, a good image of himself, making it known that in other places, at the courts of other lords, ladies, and knights, he enjoys good esteem.”[6]

The progress toward absolutism altered the nature of the courtierprince relationship: the excellence of the courtier as Castiglione describes it was of great value in laying a solid foundation for the deification of the prince, whose authority owed much to the convenient services of such public “educators.” Ottaviano Fregoso put it eloquently: “Helped by the instruction, education, and artfulness of such courtiers and formed by them to such prudence and goodness,  . . . the prince will be glorious and most dear to men and God, acquiring by God's grace that heroic virtue that will enable him to exceed the boundaries of humankind, so that he will be regarded more as a demigod than a mortal man.”[7] The court becomes a functional backdrop for absolutism, preparing the ground for the transition to the state of an Elizabeth I or a Louis XIV, where the courtiers' relationship with the monarch will be the carefully managed stage for the monarch's exalted status. This assumed role of the new sort of princes will make them objects of “more than love, quasi-adoration” not only for the courtiers but for the citizenry as a whole, out of gratitude for a pattern of remuneration that by principle exceeds personal merit. Even while the rulers are expected to observe impartiality, equality, and merit in distributing justice and basic freedoms, their quasi-divine favors will be received as though imparted in ways that transcend objective merit.[8] This special role also applied to


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monarchs who, like Elizabeth, were effectively restrained by the aristocratic constitutionalism that was typical of England.

The new circumstances forced a process of adaptation for the traditional mix of courtly qualities. “Modesty,” for example, became the acknowledgment of the gratuitous nature of princely reward, whereas the feudal vassal's contractual relationship with his lord had once put him in a position to insist on such reward as a right—a right constantly proclaimed in troubadour poetry.

This fateful turning point in the conception of state power was grounded in the doctrine of the king as lex animata, law in form of a person possessing summa legibus soluta potestas, hence a supreme authority unbounded by law. Jean Bodin theorized as much, although he somewhat duplicitously yet diplomatically disapproved of Machiavelli's alleged agreeing with the doctrine—which, however, went back to medieval theology and institutional jurisprudence. The prince's arbitrary power was thus explicitly justified by the principle of the transcendence of sovereignty, according to the doctrine of “the king's two bodies” illustrated in a famous study by Ernst Kantorowicz (1957). Even in our time the principle can be invoked in relevant contexts, and not only for the most radical applications (like Hitler's theory of the Führerprinzip, declaring the person of the leader the only true source of right and law), but in democratic societies too (as when President Nixon's counsels invoked the principle of inherent power and executive privilege in the Watergate controversy).[9]

The courtier does not claim the right to influence the prince by personal merit: he only relies on the prince's unpredictable pleasure and arbitrary, uncensurable choice. Castiglione was clear on the matter. The power relationships at court had grown beyond the encounter of competing personal rights of feudal times, when the king's attempts to establish himself as true sovereign had to overcome the feudal lords' resistance in the name of customary rights and privileges. The doctrine of the rex legibus solutus had to override the feudal notion of the king as simply suzerain, just enforcer of customs and laws. Lex facit regem, “the king issues from the law,” had been the rule, and the king who betrayed his mandate deserved his subjects' rebellion.[10] We have seen that the doctrine of absolutism was potentially implied in the kings' thrust against feudalism, and I pointed to Giles of Rome's De regimine principum as exemplary in this respect (end of chap. 3).

At a time when authoritarian regimes were on the verge of crowding out the last surviving forms of representative government, Castiglione


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attempted to map out a morally defensible type of princely state that was based on a well-groomed court of administrators and advisors. His formula might have satisfied the popular longing for justice, order, and peace by bracketing tensions and personal struggles within the enclosures of the courts and keeping in check the despots' irresponsible arbitrariness. Still, the people would have been excluded from any direct form of participation.[11] Machiavelli's sympathies for effective republicanism were already discounted in Castiglione's experience, which corresponded to the patterns prevailing outside Florence and Venice.

Thus, around the middle of the sixteenth century the new sociopolitical situation forced a major shift in the self-image of the nobleman/gentleman. The ideals of courtliness and chivalry underwent a momentous reduction that centered the new idea of nobility on personal “honor,” with an accent on the duel as the definitive test of truth and merit. This produced a flowering of treatises on a new “science of chivalry,” dealing specifically with honor and duels. There had been a pioneer essay in the Neapolitan Paride dal Pozzo's (Paris a Puteo) Libellus de re militari ubi est tota materia duelli (ca. 1471, most successful in the often printed Italian version, ll duello ). Then came such often-reprinted works as Andrea Alciato's De singulari certamine (Paris, 1541; Lugduni: Antonius Vincentius, 1543); Girolamo Muzio's Il duello and Risposte cavalleresche (1550), II cavalier (Rome, 1569) as well as Il gentilhuomo, trattato della nobiltà (1571);[12] Sebastiano Fausto da Longiano's Il duello regolato a Ie leggi dell'honore (Venice: Vincenzo Valgrisi, 1551); the Eversiones singularis certaminis by Antonio Bernardi della Mirandola (1503–1565, Averroist philosopher at Bologna and then bishop of Caserta); Giambattista Possevino's (Mantua, 1520-Rome, 1549, brother of the Jesuit polymath and diplomat Antonio, and a participant at Bernardi's lectures) Dialogo dell'honore  . . . nel quale si tratta a pieno del duello (Venice: Gabriel Giolito de' Ferrari, 1553); Pompeo della Barba's Due  . . . dialoghi  . . . dei segreti della natura  . . . sull'armi e Ie lettere (Venice, 1558); Annibale Romei's Discorsi divisi in sette giornate,  . . . quinta della nobiltà, . . . settima della precedenza dell'arme e delle lettere  . . . (1585; ed. Marco Antonio Palazzolo, Verona: Gerolamo Discepoli, 1586; Venice, 1594); and finally, in the next century, Camillo Baldi's ponderous and somewhat conclusive tome on challenges (mentite, 1633).[13] In book three of his Risposte cavalleresche, Muzio, official advisor on matters of chivalry to the successive governors of Milan, the Marquis of Vasto and don Ferrante Gonzaga, defined the laws of chivalry by the key principle that honor


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supersedes all other values, including loyalty to the prince and the laws of the country.[14]

I have mentioned (in chap. 1) the letras de batalla and pasos de armas, to wit, the endemic challenges and duels among Catalan and Aragonese noblemen. A similar study for Italy is still lacking: it would reveal no less obsession there with such practices of latter-day chivalry, despite widespread proscription by various authorities attempting to stem the tide of fashion.[15] After a spate of severe edicts against duels in the 1540s, a series of duels took place publicly in the 1550s with much fanfare through various parts of Italy, including Milan and Rome. One eloquent example of related documentary material of the kind studied by Martín de Riquer should suffice here, namely the Cartelli e manifesti passati tra M. Perseo Boninsegni e M. Francesco Baldinaccio detto il Mancino d' Agubbio published in 1560.[16] New restrictions came in the 1560s, aiming at least at superficial peace, not to mention conformity with Christian morality as demanded by the Counter-Reformation.

After 1560 definitions of nobility began to appear that were inspired by those of the humanists but were technically dependent on the newly published works of Jerónimo Osorio, professor of Sacred Scriptures at Coimbra and future bishop, André Tiraqueau (d. 1558), a member of the parlement of Paris, and Barthélemy de Chasseneux (d. 1541), president of the parlement of Aix-en-Provence.[17] The two French authorities were interested in putting forward the viewpoint of the noblesse de robe, the new nobility that was playing an increasingly important role as representative of the high bourgeoisie and ally of the monarchy against the ancient nobility of the sword (but reserving the right to oppose the monarch when he infringed the privileges of this new corporate group).[18] The Portuguese author submitted an impressive Christian codification of nobility with clear political overtones: nobility is based on the inheritance or direct exercise of qualities that serve the common good in public life. Though we are all born free, we still owe obedience to the power of the best, optimatum potestas, or their descendants, no matter how unworthy (and the progeny is often sadly unworthy of its ancestors), since social order and man's desire for peace demand it, while popular governments spell the ruin of their cities.[19] Similarly in Muzio's 1571 II gentilhuomo, after the first book's generic definitions based on ancient and humanistic authorities (the Stoics, Seneca, Boethius, Dante, etc.), the second book faced the tricky problem of nobility not by virtue but by social position, and concluded that de facto nobility comes from having held important political office: this entails


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the progeny's right to continue exercising such honorable social functions. Political power has become the prerogative of noble status—a notion implying a return to Bartolo da Sassoferrato's still authoritative equivalence between officium and nobilitas.[20]

All this went hand in hand with a new surge of sumptuary laws that completed the separation of nobles and commoners. The 1560s witnessed a formal legitimization of nobility as an officially identifiable, separate physical entity: widespread decrees institutionalized specific orders of knighthood and prescribed their ways of dressing in public.[21] One example should suffice. In 1562 Cosimo I instituted the Order of Santo Stefano, whose nobles were to be the new ruling class of Florence and Tuscany, personally issuing from the duke's will and dependent upon him. Only families of officeholders and members of the new nobility, not the members of the older nobility, were exempted from the restrictions of new sumptuary laws of the same year, which were meant to regulate dress and conspicuous consumption.[22] All other states had or would soon have similar provisions.

Francesco Sansovino's 1566 Origine de' cavalieri, appropriately dedicated to Cosimo I, was a brave attempt to trace the growing multitude of precepts governing the religious orders of knighthood, starting with the Hospitallers of Saint John of Jerusalem, who had become the Knights of Malta, down to Cosimo's Order of Santo Stefano. The rules of Malta became particularly rigorous in 1599, sanctioning the will to increase cloture of the new aristocracies. New Italian postulants had to prove two hundred years of nobility, with no involvement in either commerce, agriculture, or professional trades, including the notarial art, for a period of four generations, and without having held a public office of the sort that was also accessible to commoners. Such rules were particularly out of step with past social reality in Italy, and exceptions were made for four cities only: Genoa, Florence, Siena, and Lucca. Although restrictions applied to all members, special attempts were made to enforce them for the highest of the three grades of knighthood, starting with that of knight proper, with some leniency for the lower ones of chaplains and servants or sergeants at arms.[23] This intended separation of the higher classes affected the style of the man of court, whose behavior was now meant to seal the prince's distance from his subjects. It has been noted that the new concepts of majesty and decorum definitively chased the quotidian, the lowly, and the popular from the courts, together with all once accepted forms of benevolent mixing with the populace.[24]


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It is not my purpose to survey the large body of literature on the concept of nobility: at least for Italy we possess an excellent such study by Claudio Donati (L'idea di nobiltà in Italia, 1988). But it seems fitting to close these notes on the Late Renaissance with a mention of Giovanni Botero (1543/4–1617), the Piedmontese political theorist, former Jesuit, and secretary to Archbishop Carlo Borromeo of Milan, whose late years were largely spent at the court of the Savoy Duke Emanuel Philibert. In a discorso published in 1607 and written for the instruction of the duke's third son, the paramount virtues as foundation of true nobility were declared to be, in order: religious piety, military fortitude, justice, and civil prudence, together with mastery of humane letters and liberal arts.[25]

The ethos of curiality and courtliness had come about originally through an interpretation of the classical cardinal virtues with the addition of Cicero's decorum: this peculiar formula had become a prop for the image of true nobility. As we approach the end of the Renaissance, we observe that this heritage was adapted to a theatrical show of Castiglionesque gracefulness as the foundation of a new nobility, whose chief function was to serve the prince in his public display of splendor. After having become a courtier, the medieval knight had turned into a docile servant of princes in a hothouse where the court had replaced nature.

New Orientations in France (and England)

One of the first influential figures in French Renaissance poetry, Clément Marot (1496–1544), was a court poet, “valet de chambre” to Marguerite d'Alenç and close to the royal entourage. The “school” of his followers kept close to him as well as to Francis I's court, starting with Mellin de Saint-Gelais, king's “aumonier” and “garde de la librairie,” first French practicing Petrarchist, and critic of the Pléïade. In his Amye de court, an episode among many in the lively querelle des femmes, Bertrand de la Borderie, Marot's and Saint-Gelais's friend, contrasted the habits of court ladies with the noble love that was then to be located in the Platonic mysticism of a Bembo rather than in the earlier tradition of courtly love. It started a parrying of pros and cons, with Antoine Héroët (1492–1568) coming down on the side of pure love as supreme good (La parfaicte amye, 1532). Héroët was in the entourage of Marguerite de Navarre, who imbued her own Heptaméron with Pla-


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tonic love according to the fashion of the day, in and outside the courts. It was a way to turn courtly love into a philosophical experience.

Although I have paid particular attention to literature that grew in and around the courts, the ideas that concern us had become ubiquitous. In Rabelais, Frère Jean's Utopian Abbey of Thélème welcomes guests who fit a courtierly description rather well. They must be “genslibères, bien néz, bien instruictz, conversans en compaignies honnestes,” conditioned by what had traditionally been regarded as the prerogative of the nobility: they were guided by instinctual dispositions to act nobly and honorably through ancestral example—“par nature un instinct et aguillon, qui tousjours les poulse à faitz vertueux et retirés de vice, lequel ilz nomment honneur” (1.57.159).[26] Occasionally acting as the king's unofficial publicist, Rabelais was the protégé of such highly located personages as Jean and Guillaume du Bellay and Marguerite de Navarre. In the creation of his Pantagruel (1532) he respected the traditional plot structures of the heroes of such chansons de geste as Fierabras, Huon de Bordeaux, and Les quatre filz Aymon. It bears mentioning that Mikhail Bakhtin singled out the Thélème episode as a reflection of the utopian climate of the humanistic feast at court rather than the popular feast, since it owed more to the aristocratic spirit of the Renaissance than to that popular sense of utopia that nevertheless invests the bulk of Rabelais's masterpiece.[27]

The impact of the Italian treatises on conduct was felt as far as England, from Thomas Elyot's The Boke named the Governour (1531) to Roger Ascham's The Scholemaster (1570) and on to John Milton's celebrated essay “Of Education” (1644), even while in Italy Castiglione's treatise ceased being reprinted in 1562.[28] Each country had its popular manuals, one of the most successful being Baltasar Gracián's Oráculo manual y arte de prudencia (Portable Oracle on the Art of Prudence, 1647), a collection of maxims that Norbert Elias labeled “the first handbook of courtly psychology.”[29] It was also often reprinted in Nicolas Amelot de la Houssaie's French version L'homme de cour (Paris, 1684).

Hoby's successful translation of II Cortegiano as The Book of the Courtier (1561) provided the basis for the future ideal of the English “gentleman,” well-versed in both arms and letters, “tam Marti quam Mercurio,” and accustomed to disguise his knowledge with elegant sprezzatura (hence, e.g., the still current objection to “talking shop” in social conversation). Soon thereafter (1576) Robert Patterson Anglicized Della Casa's Galateo. The French term honnête-homme that re-


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placed cortegiano at the time English was replacing “courtier” with “gentleman,” cortegiania with “civility,” and courtly with “courteous,” combined the implication of a superior élitist model with the traditional Ciceronian honestas that we have seen associated with the ideal of curialitas from the beginning.

The New Historicists have called attention to the nonliterary motives of some Elizabethan literature that grew around the court of Elizabeth I, just as in his masterful study of Petrarchism (The Icy Fire, 1969; 1978) Leonard Forster had pointed out how Queen Elizabeth could exploit the political and diplomatic dimensions of the cult of Petrarca. Since this rich field lies outside the geographic area of our investigation, I shall limit myself to some brief remarks on fundamental aspects that have recently attracted attention. It seems clear that until at least the 1580s court poetry under Elizabeth I was also a way to seek preferment by displaying “a rhetorical virtuosity specifically identifiable with the sophisticated manners of the courtly elite” (Javitch 1982: 225 f.). Puttenham's Arte of English Poesie (1589) explicitly drew “affinities between poetic style and court conduct” (ibid.), while George Gascoigne (ca. 1539–1577) provided an outstanding example of a knight-poet who skillfully used the pen as well as the lance to promote his courtly ambitions. Both Puttenham and Gascoigne make clear reference to the art of dissimulation (“cunningly to be able to dissemble”) as a means of survival and advancement at court, in an interesting analogy with the literary use of allegoria (Puttenham's term).[30] Puttenham also called allegory “the figure of faire semblant,” essential to the courtier because “in any matter of importance his wordes and his meaning very seldom meete.” He included the political extension by explicitly associating dissimulation with the art of government: “qui nescit dissimulare nescit regnare.”[31] A variant was offered by Sir Philip Sidney, who advocated what Castiglione had styled sprezzatura as a sign of true art as well as true aristocratic breeding, concealing artifice in both poetry and conduct: see “so smooth an ease” in Astrophil and Stella, sonnet 74 verse 9. Sprezzatura thus set off the high courtier's social superiority as against the mannerisms of would-be courtiers who were unable to hide their (for Sidney, misplaced) ambitions in speech or deed. It was also the appropriate personal marker whereby the former could keep the latter in their place, as they well deserved.[32]

The shift from the medieval knight's individualistic ethos—analogous to Castiglione's ideal of a self-sufficient courtier—toward a docile and diplomatically adroit servant of princes found a clear statement in the


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preface to Jean du Peyrat's translation of the Galateo (1562). The very title stressed the generalizing bent of this reading (  . . . comme le gentilhomme se doit gouverner en toute compagnie ), and these generalized social manners were expressly yet contrastively tied to the habits of the knight: “the entire virtue and perfection of a gentleman  . . . does not consist [merely] in correctly spurring a horse, hauling a lance, sitting straight in one's armor  . . .,” including the correct ways of loving ladies, but also in serving kings and princes at the table, performing the chores of court, talking and gesturing appropriately, and so on. The knight had thus accomplished his transformation into a courtier to princes, but the standard had also extended to all who wanted to be gentlefolk. Courtierly and chivalric manners had been a social and cultural distinguishing trait, a sign of belonging to privileged groups, and of superior prerogatives when deployed toward inferiors. Now they amounted to pleasing the powerful, the new lords, to fit elegantly at their courts as embellishments of the palace, or to impose on the populace with a public show. The restraints and compulsions of good conduct were extended to the inferiors who must keep their place and not offend their squeamish superiors with coarse manners.[33] In other words, the knight/courtier had become a model for both his social superiors and his inferiors.

The new courtly ideology was bound to provoke further reactions, both subtle and strong, either deviously masked or frontally direct. We have seen the willfully radical rejection by Guevara, whose oeuvre's deep reverberations in England favored his Marco Aurelio also as an exercise in style. A provocative case is that of Philibert de Vienne's Le philosophe de cour (Lyons, 1547; Paris, 1548), a perceptive, tongue-in-cheek satire of court behavior which, curiously yet not too surprisingly, seems to have been read in England (in George North's translation: London, 1575) as a normative manual.[34]

Philibert was pointing to a chronic irreconcilability between court ethic and classical ethic, which he identified with the Socratic tradition. “Socrates forbids such masking and general disguising, because we should not appear to be others than we are; and we also allow the same . . . . But Socrates letteth us not, that having no desire to show ourselves contrary to that we would be esteemed, notwithstanding we dissemble, and accommodate ourselves to the imperfections of everyone.” The satirical garb of the presentation turns the problem around by pretending that Socrates was wrong and we are right, since this is the wise way to live in the real world. Indeed, overlooking the exempla-


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riness of his execution as a martyr of straightforwardness, Philibert declares Socrates himself a master dissembler through the deceptive maieutical method of his philosophical pedagogy: “Himself doeth serve us for example, for although he was ever like unto himself, yet was he the greatest dissembler in the world” (North's trans.: 97 f.).[35]

By a brilliant stroke of psychological observation, Philibert makes us face the paradoxical opposition between private and public morality by exposing the pragmatic coincidence of the theoretically incompatible criteria of being and seeming (the fundamental dilemma of classical ontology and metaphysics), hence sincerity and insincerity, knowing and pretending, meaning and dissimulating. Even the most formidable symbol of the knight's status and power, the sword, had become little more than an ornament, since it was used mostly for duels in matters of personal honor. Success rested no longer on bravery and military prowess, but on playing the courtly game gracefully and cleverly. Molière's Misanthrope would present the dilemma in the very midst of the most organized exercise in dissembling in western history, Louis XIV's court.[36] Like Molière's Alceste, Philibert's gentleman is taught that “the virtue of man consisteth not in that which is only good of itself, following the opinion of Philosophy: but in that which seemeth to them good” (12). “In so doing he shall be accounted wise, win honor, and be free of reprehension everywhere: which Proteus knew very well, to whom his diverse Metamorphosis and oft transfiguration was very commodious” (101).

Philibert was familiar with the ethical background of his “new philosophy of court” and brought Cicero's De officiis into the argument: from the adoption of the virtues and attitudes of courtiers “proceedeth the decorum generale, general comelinesse, that Cicero speaketh so much of in his Offices” (15). The Philosophe de cour was divided according to Cicero's categories of cardinal virtues: Prudence, Justice, Magnanimity, and Temperance, culminating, however, in a broadly treated new category that carried no Ciceronian flavor but clearly a Castiglionesque one, to wit, Good Grace, to which all other virtues are subordinated.[37] Thus the new courtly “vertue  . . . differeth from the Philosophy of the Auncientes, in that their vertue  . . . is to live according to the instinct of Nature; and ours is to lyve according to the manner of the Courte” (17). The ancients “would have us, without any hope of honour to embrace and follow vertue for the love of hir selfe,” whereas the new philosophy of court teaches us “to live vertuously to the ende to obtayne honour and reputation” (20).


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The critical reading of Castiglione is clear in the mock eulogy of a man who has “some pretie sprinckled iudgement in the common places and practizes of all the liberall sciences, chopt up in hotchpot togither,” just for the sake of spicing social conversation “and no more,” and so that “with the more assured cunning to couche our credite, it shall not be amisse to interlace our discourses with certeine suddaine lyes and inventions of our owne forging.” Similarly for “the knowledge of fence, of vaulting, of tennis, of dauncing, and other sportes of exercise: and some understanding of the state and affayres of the Realme, as of warres, of practizes, of merchandize, and howe we maye honestly robbe, deceyve, and make our best profite” (30 f.). It was a program, one can see, of unashamed dilettantism for the sake of mere make-be-lieve. In the same chapter the treatment of Prudence bends the traditional norm of measure into counseling the avoidance of excess even in knowing too much of these arts or taking them too seriously. Dealing with Justice, the next chapter intimates “that it is tollerable to beguile, filch, and cogge, and do the worst we can, so that neither lawe, judge, nor iustice may touch or catch hold of us for it.”[38] In other words, laws, private or public, are of no consequence as long as we manage to get away with mischief and succeed in our endeavor, that is to curry favor of the powerful and be esteemed by society. This is a sort of Machiavellian courtliness or, more precisely, an indictment of Machiavellianism if the text is, as appears inevitable from its very brashness, a Lucianic satirical encomium.[39]

Such acute sensibility to deep moral questions reflects the climate of religious crisis that would lead France into the wars of religion, while the apparent unawareness of the true meaning of this text in Tudor England is due to the climate of compromise and acceptance of Elizabeth's glorious image as the Virgin Mother of a new nation at peace with itself.[40] The Elizabethan acceptance of these moral games of court, however, must not blind us to the fact that it was precisely in England that the feudal spirit lived on and, indeed, prevailed against the temporary experiment in authoritarianism by imposing the constitutional parliamentary solution.[41] Neither in England nor in France was the aristocracy yet facing the sort of neutralization that characterized the Italian nobility at court. Long ago J. H. Hexter authoritatively rectified the notion of a “monstrous nobility” turned “half court insect, half bucolic vegetable” by the Renaissance despots, but his corrections threw light on the contrast between the Italian situation and that of other lands where, as in France and England, the sons of the gentry were still eagerly


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sent to school to be instructed in the arts of serving the commonwealth rather than the prince.[42] Montaigne, for one, urged the nobleman to give his scion a tutor who “shall frame his charge's will to be a most loyal servitor of his prince, very well affected and courageous, but he will dampen in him any desire to attach himself to the court except out of a sense of public obligation.” The boy will thus retain that sense of liberty that is impossible in “a man waged and bought,  . . . a courtier who can have neither the right nor the will to speak or think otherwise than favorably of a master who has chosen to foster and raise him up from among so many other subjects. Such favor and usage dazzle a man's eyes and corrupt his freedom.”[43] In a famous letter of advice on education of the nobility Queen Elizabeth's great councilor Francis Walsingham spoke repeatedly of the duty to serve the commonwealth, but not of serving the prince.[44] Much as the feudal lords could withdraw their loyalty when their interests were not preserved, so was obedience to the prince reconsidered at the time of the revolt of the Netherlands, the French civil war, and the English Puritan revolution. But few courtiers were in such a position in Italy.

Prose novels of chivalry remained highly popular, and a principal source of revenue to French printers: about eighty adaptations of romances and chansons de geste (only three of them Carolingian) saw the light between 1478 and 1549 in France, some of them enjoying several printings. In the enthusiasm for things Italian that sparked the French Renaissance, even such a genuinely French genre made use of Italian ingredients, and courtly themes were also drawn from Italy, as in the Treize élégantes demandes d'amour (1523), a translation of the episode of the court of love in Boccaccio's Filocolo. I have mentioned Antonio Possevino's blanket indictment of the romance, on the basis of the Aristotelian criteria of unity and verisimilitude. His attack was in tune with the classicistic critics who felt uneasy with the Orlando Furioso. In France an early expression of such concerns combined with the new Catholic rigorism was the preface to the translation of L'histoire éthiopique d'Héliodore (1547) by the courtier and clergyman, later bishop, Jacques Amyot.[45] By setting the norms for a Counter-Reformation literature that satisfied the classical prerequisites of unity and verisimilitude while being entertaining, that is, aesthetically pleasing, Amyot, followed by Bishop Jean-Pierre Camus and then Bishop Huet, started a new phase of clerical intervention in the education of court audiences and the setting of literary and humane standards. I have also noted (chap. 10, end of section on “Novels of Chivalry”) the dissenting voice


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of the learned poet-theorist Jacques Peletier du Mans, coming in 1555 to the defense of interlaced narratives. Since neither an extended discussion of the epic or narrative genres nor the mention of interlacing or other ordering techniques appear as part of the poetic arts of the time, such as Thomas Sébillet's and Joachim Du Bellay's, it is tempting to hypothesize that Peletier's introduction of a defense of the romans and specifically of Ariosto's narrative mode may have been prompted by Amyot's critique of the romances.

Between Amyot's influential preface and Possevino's text the specific butt of the new moralistic condemnation was the fashionable tale of Amadis of Gaul, which had invaded France in the form of a Spanish imitation of an older French tale, and had also been Italianized by Bernardo Tasso (Torquato's father). The popularity of the Amadis was also due to a new element vis-à-vis the older chivalric matter: an erotic taste for voluptuous and sentimental love scenes. These elegant affairs of the heart, immediately frowned upon by concerned moralists, were to develop into the literature of galanterie which also had an impact in other countries. Amyot's Histoire, a version of Heliodorus's Theagenes and Chariclea, was an attempt to replace the fantastic tales of the medieval romances with the matter of Hellenistic and Byzantine novels that Amyot, in his humanistic orientation, considered closer to nature and truth. What the new models lacked, however, was the heroic mold of the tales of knights errant, so that the translators and elaborators of the huge Amadis cycle, though shaken by Amyot's censures, were not subdued to the point of giving up. The French versions had started with Nicholas Herberay des Essarts, who expanded the Spanish original by Garci Ordóñez Montalvo (four books in one volume, ca. 1508) into eight successive books (1540–1546). Further elaborations continued to appear, with book nine by Claude Colet (1553) and books ten, thirteen, and fourteen by Jacques Gohory (1555, 1571, 1575).[46] The prefaces pointed out, apologetically, that the frivolity of the subject matter was offset by the need to cater to audiences that demanded light entertainment as well as an uplifting spectacle of heroic grandeur, fit for noble warriors.

While in Italy Torquato Tasso bypassed the new objections by offering a serious poem on crusading Christian chivalry, in France the whole group of the Pléïade poets came to the aid of the continuing translators of the Amadis. Jacques Gohory prefaced his translation of book 13 (Paris, 1571) with a reminder that Francis I had rightly appreciated the very similar Girone il Cortese by the Italian poet Luigi Alamanni: the


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beautiful veil of poetic lies hid “good moral instruction for the nobility.” It did so “by exalting virtuous deeds and condemning vicious ones, always recommending the adoration and reverence of God and the defence of good justice, principally of pitiful persons, such as maidens, widows, and orphans.”[47] We do know how traditional these arguments were. As to the open-ended, multiple narrative plots, they had advantages over the greater tightness of the Hellenistic models: Ariosto had proved how delightful and instructive such techniques could be to the reader.

We cannot engage here in a detailed examination of the complex question of Cervantes's attitudes toward chivalry and the chivalric novel or romance, but when all is said and done concerning that rich and puzzling masterpiece, it is relevant to bear in mind that Don Quixote (first part 1605) was “still, for the general public of the period, one of the manifestations of the Catholic Reformation applied to literature.”[48] As to the general perception of the courtier's role, such symptomatic observations as those by Philibert of Vienne show how the courtier's dignity vis-à-vis a potentially tyrannical prince could be preserved only by remaining true, in the new surroundings, to the time-honored aristocratic view of reciprocal obligations between sovereign and feudal lords. This “resistance” that Castiglione had so subtly and poignantly represented won out only in post-Tudor England. The courtier who started to seem clearly hypocritical was the one who had given in to absolutism.

The School of Courtly Manners in the Age of Louis XIII

Historians have long recognized in the romances of the French Renaissance a “school of civility.”[49] Contemporaneous readers appeared to appreciate the psychological and social nourishment of what Étienne Pasquier referred to as “vraye courtizanerie.” A learned critic, Pasquier was determined not to allow the new humanistic standards to chase into oblivion the glorious past of medieval French literature, including the troubadours and the romances. The old chivalric romances (though no further back than the prose Lancelot ) went on being read, always as a favorite genre of the higher and lower aristocracy and their imitators among the high bourgeoisie. Jean Chapelain countered the Aristotelian classicists' theoretical objections by suggesting that Aristotle himself, had he been confronted with such texts as the Lancelot, would have


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adjusted his principles to accommodate the new works alongside the IIiad and the Odyssey. Yet, the romance decayed into a genre of mere entertainment to be enjoyed as pure fantasy, in full consciousness of its being divorced from present reality: at the height of the “classic” period, Louis XIV's court nobles knew full well that they were no longer Gawains and Lancelots.

In the meantime, France had acted as a mediator in the Renaissance fashioning of the ideal gentleman as social canon. Italian definitions were transmitted almost literally within a broadened context that made the ideals once developed for the knight and the courtier universally valid for all educated people, all honnêtes gens. This last term appeared in the programmatic title of a text that remained crucial throughout its century, Nicolas Faret's L'honeste homme ou l'art de plaire à la Cour (1630).[50] There the art of the courtier seemed to become, in essence, the art “to please,” specifically to please at court. For the remainder, Faret leaned heavily on the Galatea, the Civil conversatione, and of course Castiglione's Cortegiano, whose key term sprezzatura he rendered with negligence (as in Guazzo's negligenza o sprezzamento ): one must above all avoid l'affectation and use “une certaine negligence qui cache l'artifice, et tesmoigne que I'on ne fait rien que comme sans y penser, et sans aucune sorte de peine” (1970 ed.: 20).[51]

The change from courtois to honnête and civile was more than a matter of linguistic fashion. It reflected a gradual change from the image of a knight who drew his authority and legitimacy from a court but acted as a relatively independent agent in his adventurous endeavors, to that of the man of court who saw himself and was seen by the whole society as the acme of civilized living, regardless of his having become completely dependent on that same court, to the point of seeing his nobility practically equated with the status of successful bourgeois courtiers. This process spanned the twelfth through the seventeenth century, the moment of transition coming at the time of Henry IV of France (1594–1610), who, as Henry of Bourbon, Prince of Navarre, had been one of the last heroes of the chivalrous ideal of resistance to monarchic centralization, but upon becoming king felt compelled to execute “those who resisted, those who did not understand that from free lords and knights they were to become dependent servants of the king.”[52]

Later on, the school of politesse mondaine that the romances had become kept attracting readers to the otherwise hardly readable tomes of such popular heroico-sentimental novels as Madeleine de Scudéry's Le Grand Cyrus (1649–1653, 10 volumes). The most popular of its


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century, Honoré d'Urfé's (1567–1625) pastoral novel Astrée (1607–1628, including Baro's edition of the posthumous fourth part in 1627 and “conclusion” in 1628) was eagerly received as a civilizing manual of manners and polite conversation, especially among the courtiers—and the ladies, who delighted in finding themselves so flatteringly idolized, as the ladies of courtly love had once been. Critics have recognized the book's practical civilizing impact, reflecting a new taste for noble sentiments and refined behavior.[53]

Elias offers a rewarding analysis of the Astrée as an expression of the mentality of the lower, noncourtly nobility vis-à-vis the higher nobility that had yielded to royal pressures and become a court aristocracy.[54] Belonging to a leading group of rural provincial noblemen, d'Urfé had been a militant member of the Catholic League against the Protestant armies led by Henry of Navarre, to whom, in a gracious gesture of surrender, he dedicated the second part of his novel after Henry became king. D'Urfé's personal background, from a prosperous and prominent southern family close to the Savoy house and to the high clergy, had exposed him to a refined courtly education without making him an active courtier. The Astrée is the imaginative work of a nobility that recognizes its defeat without joining the victors in adopting the ways of the ruling court, hence it remains cut off from the rewarding yet humiliating conformism of the courtly aristocracy dominated by the absolute monarch. Despite lingering resistance, the new court represented an irreversible new situation. The price of heeding Montaigne's demurrers was too high for most.

In the Nibelungenlied Kriemhild had sought revenge not because Siegfried was the most lovable man, even though he was the perfect warrior hero, but because her man had been taken away from her in an act of personal injury to her honor. Both in the Middle Ages and at the time of Louis XIII “romantic” troubadourlike devotion in a framework of absolute fidelity was not the modus operandi of the higher but of the middle nobility. By taking this sublimated posture the “poor nobles” made up for their inferiority to the true masters, who could afford to love freely (as the first troubadour, William IX, had done, and as the court nobility of eighteenth-century France would continue to do). Reflecting the ideal standpoint of this middle nobility, the sentimental novel of which the Astrée was the most successful example extolled a pure, chaste, marriage-oriented love of constancy, fidelity, and reasonableness. Compare the titles of some of the most popular sentimental novels of the time: Chastes amours d'Eros et de Kalisti; Le triomphe de


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la constance où sont décrites les amours de Cloridons et de Melliflore; and so on. D'Urfé explicitly opposed the love of Céladon for the shepherdess Astrée to the libertine mores of the high nobility and the “nymphs.” “The simple, good, free life of the lower-ranking shepherds and shepherdesses is contrasted again and again to the customs and morals of the higher-ranking lords and ladies of the court, the actual wielders of power in this world.”[55] It was d'Urfé's way of carrying on the struggle at the vicarious level of imagination by nostalgically romanticizing a feudal nobility which thought it could go on living on the land, away from the central court, even while it depended on the central government for its survival. This pattern of absolute romantic fidelity recalled not only the chivalrous manners of old, but also their most radical interpretation, Dante's love for Beatrice.

The general orientation of d'Urfé's meandering narrative comes forth in the letter to Céladon at the beginning of the second part, which praises the traditional (read: feudal) moral values of sincerity, loyalty, honor, and purity of mores still to be found (in the book) among the bergers of the land of Forez. The perfect love of the shepherds, which was the feudal love of twelfth-century knights, is called l'honnête amitié since its radical sublimation leaves little room for sex. It does involve, however, a lot of sensitive casuistic conversation. The formula also contains an interesting echo of the Ciceronian term honestum, that d'Urfé, the pupil of a Jesuit school, had learned to apply to his honnêtes gens— courtly though not of The Court. “Amour,” that is, sensual love, the novel avers, has disturbed the peace of Forez by introducing rivalry and dissension, just as ambition had done at court.

The revealing formula of the preface, “vivre plus doucement et sans contrainte,” refers to the ethic of a “dual-front class”: the freedom of a romantic, utopian, idyllically rustic life—at the country homes of the feudal nobility. This meant freedom from the humiliating constraints and high etiquette of the centralized court, while accepting the exhilarating constraints of a romantic, constant, and refined Petrarchan love that placed its upholders above the coarse lower classes of foul-smelling real rustics (remember the medieval vilains ).[56]

The consciousness of rank is peculiarly acute in this seemingly abstract pastoral world, because it addresses a specific audience. These shepherds and nymphs are understood for what they really are on the basis of their line of descent: “Only if one knows the social origin and thus the social rank of a person does one know who and what this person really is . . . . For descent and social rank are keystones of the social existence of the nobility. Astrée is


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an aristocratic novel that puts variously disguised aristocrats on the stage for an aristocratic audience. That was—and is—the first question that interests nobles when they meet another noble: “From what house, from what family does he or she come?” Then he can be classified.

(Elias 1983: 255)

We are reminded of Farinata's arrogant question to Dante: “Who were your ancestors?” (“Chi fuor li maggior tui?” Inferno 10.42). The firm sentiment for keeping one's place and holding inferiors to theirs was not to be challenged until the French Revolution. In one of Goldoni's masterpieces, La locandiera (1753), the progressive and democratically inclined yet firmly bourgeois Venetian playwright has his charming protagonist Mirandolina, a paragon of adroitness, wit, and solid common sense, vigorously wooed by a count, a marquis, and a knight, only to turn them all down elegantly and decide to “keep her place” by marrying her valet, Fabrizio.

The theory of love embedded in the “Douze tables des lois d'amour” read by Silvandre and contested by Hylas (book 2 of second part) is a Petrarchist/Neo-Platonic summation of the medieval code of courtly love, just as the behavior of both the shepherds on the one hand and the princes and knights on the other (bergers, princes, chevaliers —namely, the lower and higher nobility, respectively), including the warriors at Mérovée's court, is said to be constantly informed by courtoisie.[57] Playing the role of advisors and educators, the high priests (les druides ), for their part, signally among them Adamas, interject long disquisitions on the ideology of love and virtuous living that supplement those tables. The obverse of this is conveniently supplied, in a nice dialectical counterpoint, by the libertine Hylas: he manages to counterfeit the text of the tables, declaring in his new version that, in love as elsewhere, extrème and infini are signs not of fidelité but of imprudence, and raison is the supreme criterion for a wisely selfish, practical use of love for pleasure rather than mere honneur. It is an echo of the troubadours' and Minnesingers' occasional moments of revolt against the frustrating constraints of the code of love.

The critique of monarchic absolutism comes to the fore in the case of Childéric.[58] Before being finally deposed by the unanimous assembly of the Celts and Franks, he not only had planned to take a married noblewoman by force, as he had done with others, but had allowed himself to be persuaded by flattering courtiers that “toutes choses étaient permises au roi; que les rois faisaient les lois pour leurs sujets, et non pas pour eux, et que, puisque la mort et la vie de ses vassaux étaient


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en sa puissance, il en pouvait faire de même pour tout ce qu'ils possédaient.” It sounds like a clever exposure of the doctrine of inherent power and of the king as lex animata.

The intriguing prefaces to the novel's first three parts contain precious insights into the author's attitudes. The first one (“Épître de l'auteur à la bergère Astrée”) recalls Tasso's Aminta for the convention, that d'Urfé is carrying out, of introducing refined characters (his peers and Tasso's courtiers) in the garb of shepherds. But he makes sure to remind his readers that they are not real shepherds. In the second one, in the form of a letter “au betger Céladon” the author warns his character that his way of loving is “aimer à la vieille Gauloise,” as the knights of the Round Table did, a way no longer appreciated in an age when lovers, like Hylas in the novel, want concrete reward rather than mere obedience, constancy, fidelity, honor, sacrifice, and suffering: “aimer et jouir de la chose aimée sont des accidents inséparables.” The author is conscious of going somehow against current, in a state of nostalgic retreat. The third preface (to the river Lignon) recalls the scholastic dictum, of Ficinian ring we might say, that “the lover's soul is more inside the beloved than inside the lover to whom it gives life,” “magis est ubi amat quam ubi animat,” as, d'Urfé claims, the etymology indicates: “aimer que nos vieux et très sages pères disaient amer, qu'est-ce autre chose qu'abréger le mot d'animer, c'est-à-dire, faire la propre action de l'âme. Aussi les plus savants ont dit, il y a longtemps, qu'elle vit plutôt dans le corps qu'elle aime, que dans celui qu'elle anime.”[59] We know that this had been a favorite topos among troubadours, trouvères, and Minnesingers.

Imitation and Transformation in Germany

France and England are notable for the close connections with the standards that were set in the Italian Cinquecento. For Germany I shall extend my rapid survey of the literature of chivalry, courtliness, and courtesy up to roughly 1700 in order to reflect delayed echoes of Italian and French developments.

In the fifteenth century the first imports from Italian humanism joined the Flamboyant Gothic romanesque coming out of Burgundy in the literature patronized at the courts of two latter-day emulators of Alienor of Aquitaine and Marie de Champagne, that is, the Countess of the Palatinate Mechthild von Vorderösterreich (co-founder of the humanistic Universities of Freiburg, 1455, and Tübingen, 1477) at Rotten-


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burg on the Neckar, and the Duchess Eleonore of Austria at Innsbruck (whose husband Duke Sigmund of Tyrol had befriended Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini in his youth). The chivalric revival that characterized this literature mixed ancient and modern elements in the works of the Swabian knight Hermann von Sachsenheim (1365–1458: see his Des Spiegels Abenteuer, 1451, and Die Mörin, 1453,[60] love allegories dedicated to Mechthild), Der Elende Knabe, and perhaps Elbelin von Eselberg (or Elblin von Eselsberg, dates uncertain). Eleonore, herself perhaps the author of a prose romance adapted from the French, Pontus und Sidonia,[61] sponsored such works as the Reisen nach der Ritterschaft (after 1450) by the adventurous crusading knight Georg von Ehingen, and Melusine (1456, also from the French) by the Swiss Thüring von Ringoltingen (d. 1483).[62]Melusine is the story of a knight who unknowingly marries a sea-fairie and, somewhat as in the story of Psyche, loses her by breaking the injunction not to watch her bathing. Ulrich Füetrer,[63] mostly active at the court of Duke Albrecht IV the Wise of Bavaria in Munich, was also in touch with both Mechthild's and Eleonore's courts.

The medieval romance continued its desiccated life. The prolific Georg or Jörg Wickram (1505-ca. 1561), founder of a school of Meistersingers in his native Colmar in Alsace, is best remembered as the author of sundry romances. If his Ritter Galmy (1539) and Gabriotto und Reinhart (1551) still echoed the courtly romance closely enough, in Der Jungen Knaben Spiegel (1554) and Der Goldtfaden (1554, published 1557) the new social reality pierced through by pitching the merchant class against the old nobility.[64]Der Jungen Knaben Spiegel unfavorably sets a prodigal young nobleman against the virtuous son of a burgher. In Der Goldtfaden, sometimes regarded as the beginning of the German novel, Leufried, a shepherd's son adopted by a merchant, finds menial employment in a count's castle. Having fallen in love with the count's daughter Angleana, he embarks on a series of adventures for which he is knighted and rewarded with Angleana's hand. One can readily see how, despite the willful drift toward recognition of moral superiority for the lower classes, the life pattern remains that of the medieval knight: the class gap is bridged only by emulation of the traditionally ideal modus vivendi of the nobility. One wins by joining them, not by fighting them or by asserting substantive differences.

The Amadis de Gaule was highly popular in Germany, too. It saw the light in successive German renderings based on the French versions and published by the trendy publisher and bookseller Sigmund Feyer-


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abend, starting in 1569 and soon reaching thirteen books in 1583, finally twenty-four in 1595.[65] Public demand prolonged the life of this extravagant mélange of heroic adventurism and gallant eroticism replete with Greek, Byzantine, and medieval sources, inspiring Christoph Martin Wieland to put forth his longish Der neue Amadis as late as 1771. The taste for this type of high-class exotic sentimentality was akin to the taste for the “gallant literature” (galante Dichtung and galanter Roman ) that leaned on the refined stylized eroticism flourishing in the second half of the seventeenth century in the French aristocratic salons. It was merely an imitative literary phenomenon, since Germany lacked the social environments where such a way of life could thrive. Nonetheless, the Amadis ran strong as part of the modified survival of medieval romances.

Andreas Heinrich Buchholtz (or Bucholtz, 1607–1671) is often considered the author of the first original höfischer Roman or court novel with his Des christlichen teutschen Grobfürsten Herkules und des böhmischen königlichen Fräulein Valiska Wundergeschichte (1659), which had a sequel in 1665.[66] These works were meant to entertain court nobility and gentry while instructing them through the edifying discourses that studded the narrative plot. It was a new twist in the narrative pattern that meant to supersede the vogue of the gallant—and the Amadis itself in what it contained of gallant willfulness.

The shattering experiences of the Thirty-Years War (1618–1648) enabled Germany to develop further than any other region the dramatic potential of ascetic reflection on human destiny. As indicated earlier (at beginning of chap. 10), the baroque theme of the topsy-turvy world, where values are the opposite of what they seem, fed fruitfully on the long tradition of court critique, signally on Guevara's recent authority, and turned the fate of the courtier into a symbol of the human predicament. The lesson it taught was: the shinier, the shallower; the higher they rise, the harder they fall. This realization was made to invest the whole of mankind: Guazzo, for one, had contributed to the generalization from courtier to gentleman by extending the idea beyond the court.

The lyric flowering of the German baroque was closely related to the life of numerous learned societies, which largely thrived around various princely courts and under the patronage of ruling princes. From the beginning of their existence the “academies,” which started in Italy with the Platonic Academy of Marsilio Ficino under the aegis of the Medici in Florence, and then spread to other countries in imitation of the Italian models, were extensions and at times even instruments of


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aristocratic governments. This was particularly true in Germany, starting with the most important German academy, the Fruchtbringende Gesellschaft. Prince Ludwig of Anhalt-Köthen (Dessau 1579—Köthen 1650), who became its president until his death, founded it in 1617 in Weimar in direct imitation of the Florentine Academy of the Crusca (1583, sponsored by the Medici dukes), of which he had been a member while in Florence (1610–1612).[67] Gueintz, Harsdörffer, Schottel, Stieler, Kramer, Leibniz, and Steinbach became members of it.

Literary historians have used the expression Hofpoeten, “court poets,” for poets who, while participating in the varied lyrical and narrative forms of their age, also produced verse that was specifically aimed at entertaining and flattering princes and high courtiers. Such poets were, for example, the Berliner Friedrich Rudolf von Canitz (1654–1699), diplomat and state functionary in Prussia; the Courlander Johann von Besser (1654–1729), son of a country clergyman who in 1690 became a courtier, diplomat, and master of ceremonies (Zeremonienmeister) at the Prussian and then the Saxon courts; the Silesian Benjamin Neukirch (1665–1729); and the Saxon Johann Ulrich König (1688–1744), who in 1729 succeeded Besser in Dresden as court poet to Augustus II, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland. Their works remained popular and somewhat influential at least through the middle of the eighteenth century.

Anton Ulrich, Duke of Braunschweig-Lüneburg (1633–1714), was a great prince who by long family tradition exerted a remarkable personal influence on literary activities around his court and himself authored important works of a courtly nature. His five-volume Die durchleuchtige Syrerinn Aramena (1669–1673) and six-volume Die römische Octavia (1677–1707) were literature for nobles, declared manifestos for an aristocratic mission painstakingly set in a massive structure of quasi-mathematical hierarchies, which attracted Leibniz, the duke's librarian at Wolfenbüttel.[68] In Anton Ulrich's Aramena the Stoic virtues of constancy and faithfulness, Standhaftigkeit and Treue, triumph in a large web of characters paired by love and centered around the prince and his court. The attending ministers and state functionaries are arranged in cooperating groups or power centers to be controlled or conquered. As in the medieval romances, the love stories do not develop alongside the social and political power game but are an integral part of it. The setting is ancient, Oriental and Roman, but the issues are transparently modern. The novel as a genre has become a noble school for the court, Hof- and Adelsschule. The classicism in the choice of


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forms and plot material bequeathed by humanism to the heroic novel combines with the chivalric heritage to produce a grand design, all meant to present the high issues of the day from the perspective of a nobility that feels destined to rule the world and set it right.

In the century of absolutism, lyric, drama, novel, sermon, epistle, pamphlet, and sundry tractates were all full of concepts of nobility and its accompaniment of grandeur or Grobmütigkeit ( = magnanimitas ), heroes (Helden ), courage (Tapferkeit ), and every other chivalric virtue. These by now traditional qualities show the tenacity of a terminology that had been imposed by medieval usage: mâze, for example, was the ideal of the poet from Memel/Königsberg Simon Dach (1605–1659). Such virtues were said to establish the noble hero as the divinely appointed leader by setting him above and apart from the common humanity of the subjects. H. J. C. von Grimmelshausen's (1622?–1676) 1666 Der keuscher Joseph[69] and Casper von Lohenstein's (1635–1683) 1683 Arminius[70] are, among others by less eminent writers, some exemplary texts of this attitude that spanned literature and social behavior.[71]

As to the literature of conduct, Castiglione's work was translated by Lorenz Kratzer in 1565/1566 as Der Hofmann, and again with the same title by Johann Engelbert Noyse of Augsburg in 1593.[72] In 1578 in Rostock, Nathan Chytraeus published his often reprinted Latin translation of Della Casa: Galateus, seu de morum honestate et elegantia, followed in 1597 and 1607 by Chytraeus's own German version, Galateus: Das ist das Büchlein von erbarn höflichen und holdseligen Sitten.[73] In 1582 the printer Bernard Jobin of Frankfurt, who also published the Latin Cortegiano, brought out Wolfgang Unger's first German version of Antonio de Guevara's Aviso de privados with the title Aviso de privados: Der Hofleut Wecker. Starting with a preface to the second edition of the Latin Galateus (1579), Johannes Caselius (1533–1613) presented a positive use of manners and courtesy as key to the art of prudentia politica, the secret of success in ethical matters.[74] In a version of the metaphorical “sugar-coated pill,” the courtier advises the power holder through the pleasant entertainment of games (joci, ludi ) in order to hide the bitter truth of duties and hard tasks. The Cortegiano had indeed spoken of court games as the flower whose fruit is the education of the prince (“quasi il fiore  . . . il vero frutto della cortegiania,” 4.5).

It is remarkable that all fourteen Latin editions of Guazzo's text were published in Germany, between 1585 (Köln) and 1673.[75] The German public was accustomed to looking for treatments of this genre in Latin,


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starting at least with Erasmus's De civilitate morum puerilium. A special development and a valuable document for the history of manners is Grobianus sive de morum simplicitate libri duo (Frankfurt, 1549) by Friedrich Dedekind (1525–1598, after 1551 a Protestant pastor in Neustadt and then Lüneburg). In this classic satire of bad manners in Latin distichs, Dedekind ridiculed coarse, vulgar, and self-centered behavior in social intercourse and especially at table by ironically praising boorishness. It became popular in Caspar Scheidt's 1551 rendering in German rhymed verse (Grobianus, von groben sitten und unhöflichen gebärden ), and Dedekind felt encouraged to give it a sequel in a third book dealing with feminine behavior under the name of the character Grobiana.[76] His late Der christliche Ritter (1590) drew inspiration from Erasmus.

It was particularly in Germany that speculation on the conduct and function of the courtier was extended to the formulation of proper ethico-economic attitudes in running the household in what is called Hausväterliteratur— a literature that began in the late sixteenth century and developed briskly in the seventeenth.[77]

Despite the numerous translations from Italian and French, however, original speculation was late in coming to Germany: the poet Georg Philipp Harsdörffer (Nürnberg 1607–1658) as well as the philosopher Christian Thomasius (Leipzig 1655–1728) in his Discours of 1687, are known for having lamented the lack of manners among their fellow countrymen despite the rich literature available on the subject and the fashion of French imitation. In addition to his translation of Eustache Du Refuge's (d. 1617) Traité de la cour (1616) as Kluger Hofmann (1655),[78] Harsdörffer made an early contribution with his series of Frawenzimmer Gesprächspiele (1641–1649),[79] dialogues on intellectual divertissements and parlor games addressed to high society, followed by a Discurs von der Höflichkeit appended to his Mercurius Historicus of 1657.[80] Thomasius keenly theorized on the divergences between absolute values and the moral compromises that seem necessary to make them acceptable to society under the rubrics of courtesy, politesse, affability, friendliness, pleasant disposition, the Italian categories of the galantuomo giudizioso, prudente, discreto, and the Spanish ones of Baltasar Gracián's Discreto and Oráculo manual y arte de prudencia —the latter work being also available in Germany in Nicolas Amelot de la Houssaie's translation of 1684.[81]Klugheit became a key word covering both prudence and discretion, and Ton rendered both “style” and “manner” (as in French bon ton ). Being witty—having


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esprit, as the French put it—was essential for survival, and worldly-wisdom was a surer secret of success than stern Stoic virtues.

It was at this time that Germans developed a lively literature on “ceremonial” (Zeremonial ), that is, on ways to fit our behavior and our style of life, manners, gesture, speaking habits, and even feeling and thinking to social circumstances, according to the French insistence on bienséances. All this came specifically from the imitation of the ways of nobility at court. It was, so to speak, a new universal knighthood, and it led to the development of an interesting terminology of elegant verbal “compliments” denoting urbanity and civility. German Kompliment was analogically related to a peculiar German neologism Complement, referring to the polished outer “complement” to our inner civility, and harking back to the poet Georg Greflinger (Regensburg, ca. 1620–ca. 1680, settled in Hamburg as a notary) in his Ethica complementoria (1645).

Etiquette books in the vernacular continued their course, and they would culminate in the Über den Umgang mit Menschen (1788), about the only work by which one still remembers Adolf F. F. Freiherr von Knigge (1752–1796), a prolific author of satirical novels and travel stories. The proverbial phrase “nach Knigge” can still be heard in Germany when people discuss proper social conduct. While readable as a prescriptive text on manners and etiquette, Über den Umgang displayed broad humanity and practical common sense according to the principles of the golden mean in a series of such essays as “Über den Umgang mit sich selbst,” “Von dem Umgange mit Eheleuten,” “Über den Umgang mit Gelehrten und Künstlern,” and so forth. Knigge's observation that to live well in the world one must adjust and be governed by the others' customs, feelings, and manners—which was in line with the long tradition of cortegiania —elicited a lively reaction in the age of Romantic emphasis on the honest individual who must stay away from the crowd in order to preserve his or her purity as well as intellectual and moral superiority.[82]

Indeed, the new Romantic hero was to be an anticourtier who rejected rules and conventions even to the point of being unwilling or unable to adjust to social realities; he was ready to go under rather than compromise with the rules for power and worldly success. Goethe's Werther was the first symbol of this uncompromising attitude toward the principles put forward by the tradition we have been following: he was an adversary of those who had succeeded by adopting the ways of the world even in the form of being chivalrous, courtois, and courtly.


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