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p-favors-art - 9/21/94


Article on period favors by Ray Lischner.


NOTE: See also the files: favors-msg, On-Favors-art, gloves-msg, belts-msg, beads-msg, aphrodisiacs-msg, SCA-romance-msg, households-msg, beyond-favors-msg.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I  have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I  have done  a limited amount  of  editing. Messages having to do  with separate topics  were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the  message IDs  were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make  no claims  as  to the accuracy  of  the information  given by the individual authors.


Please  respect the time  and  efforts of  those who have written  these messages. The  copyright status  of these messages  is  unclear at this time. If  information  is  published  from  these  messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                          Stefan at florilegium.org



From: mittle at panix.com (Arval d'Espas Nord)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: documentation for a favour

Date: 30 Aug 1994 17:01:12 -0400

Organization: PANIX Public Access Internet and Unix, NYC


Cary Anderson wrote:


> I need some documentation for a favour I would like to enter into an

> arts compition.


The following article appeared on the Rialto on 5 Jan 1992, written by Ray

Lischner.  It is copyright by Ray Lischner.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


From: lisch at dsd.mentorg.COM (Ray Lischner)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Favors

Date: 5 Jan 92 20:26:00 GMT


The historical evidence for the use of favors in tournaments is not always

clear.  Most historical sources do not mention favors at all, leaving the

modern researcher in a quandary.  In general, it seems that favors were

occasionally used since the early days of the tournament, but were never

very popular.  Gifts and largesse, given as a token of esteem and respect,

rather than love, appear to have been more common.


There are three kinds of historical evidence one can examine: the

chronicles, the romances, and the sermons, each presenting a different

point of view.


The earliest source seems to be the romances of Chretien de Troyes, such as

the following mention in Erec et Enide, written in the mid-twelfth century:


    Many an ensign of red, blue, and white, many a veil and

    many a sleeve were bestowed as tokens of love. [Troyes, p. 28]


Soon after this, knights were clearly wearing favors because Jacques de

Vitry found it necessary to condemn the wearing of signs in battle to

please lewd women:


    Non carent 7 mortali peccato quod dicitur luxuria, cum

    placere volunt mulieribus impudicis, si probi habeantur

    in armis, et etiam quedam earum insignia quasi pro vexillo

    portare consuererunt. [de Vitry, CLXI, p. 63]


Robert of Brunne has a similar opinion, as he wrote in 1303:


    Many tymes, for wymmen sake,

    knyghteys tournamentys make;

    And whan he wendyth to the tournament

    She senyth hym sum pryvy present,

    And byt hym do for hys lemman

    Yn vasselage all that he kan; [Brunne, ll. 4605-4610]


Brunne does not explicitly state that the "pryvy present" is to be

worn, but it is not a stretch to imagine so.


In a similar vein, Christine de Pisan offers some advice

to ladies of high estate:


    Since it is the established custom that knights and squires

    and all men (especially certain men) who associate with women

    have a habit of pleading for love tokens from them and trying

    to seduce them, the wise princess will so enforce her regulations

    that there will be no visitor to her court so fool hardy as to

    dare to whisper privately with any of her women or give the

    appearance of seduction. [Pisan, p. 75]


We don't know what kinds of "love tokens" were given, but we do know

that such favors are distinguished from other, more respectable gifts,

that a lady can offer a knight:


    If this lady sees any gentleman, be he knight or squire, of

    good courage who has a desire to increase his honor but does

    not have much money to outfit himself properly, and if she

    sees that it is worth while to help him, the gentle lady will

    do so, for she has within her all good impulses for honor and

    gentility and for always encouraging noble and valiant actions.

    And thus in various situations that may arise this lady will

    extend wise and well-considered largesse. [Pisan, p. 78]


This clearly is different from the use of favors as love tokens.  Most of

the romances, however, typically refer to tokens from lovers, not gifts as



Guy of Warwick, in a story written in the thirteenth century, is given a

gold ring by his wife and lover, but no other token. [Warwick, l. 7449]


The lays of Marie de France contain numerous examples of chivalry,

jousting, and courtly love, but few examples of tokens and favors [Lais].

For example, Lanval, in the lay of the same name, receives from his lover

everything he could ever want, but no token or favor is ever mentioned.  We

are more fortunate in Chaitivel, where the lady grants a token to each of

her four lovers:


    She gave them all tokens of love [l. 57]


    . . .


    At the assembly of knights,

    each one wanted to be first,

    to do well, if he could,

    in order to please the lady.

    They all considered her their love,

    all carried her token,

    a ring, or sleeve, or banner [ll. 63-69]


In Eliduc, the lady sends a ring and a belt to her lover, by means of a



In turning to the chronicles of actual jousts and tournaments, there is

almost no mention at all of favors or other presents or tokens.  One of the

earliest is the story of William the Marshal, and there does not seem to be

any mention of favors [HGM].


In the mid-thirteenth century, Ulrich von Liechtenstein undertook his Venus

journey in honor of his lady, but he does not bear any token of hers. No

mention is made of favors for any of this opponents, although they are keen

to gain gold rings by breaking spears against Ulrich, ostensibly to be

given to their ladies [Liechtenstein].


In the fifteenth century, Don Pero Nino prepares to join a pas d'armes, and

his lover, Jeannette de Bellengues, sends him a horse, a helm and a letter,

but no favor [Nino].  The French treatises of the fifteenth century do not

mention favors, either.


In 1520, at the Field of Cloth of Gold, we learn that "Francis [I of

France] and his partners wore sleeves on their head pieces[Russell, p.

128]." No mention is made of King Henry doing the same, so one is forced to

conclude that, although not unknown, the practice was not widespread.


There are two kinds of favors: love tokens and largesse. The former are

popular in the romances, and appear less frequently in history.  The latter

appear in both fiction and fact.  Various kinds of love tokens are

mentions, including sleeves, belts, rings, and banners. For largesse, the

gifts tend to be more practical, such as arms, armor, and horses.  To use a

20th century context, imagine a modern athlete: some certainly wear or

carry tokens of their lovers and/or spouses, but most probably do not.

They do, however, solicit and accept "largesse" from corporations and

sponsors, which are the modern counterparts to the great medieval patrons.



Primary References


[Brunne] Robert of Brunne. Handlyng Synne. F. J. Furnivall, ed.

    London: Early English Text Society, 1901.


[de Vitry] Jacques de Vitry. The Exempla. Thomas F. Crane, trans.

    London: Folk-lore Society, 1890.


[HGM] Paul Meyer, ed. L'histoire de Guillaume le Marechal. Paris:

    Librairie Renouard, 1891-1901.


[Lais] Robert Hanning and Joan Ferrante, trans. The Lais of Marie de

    France. Durham, NC: Labyrinth Press, 1978. ISBN 0-939464-02-0.


[Liechtenstein] Ulrich von Liechtenstein. Service of ladies. J. W.

    Thomas, trans. and ed. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina

    Press, 1969.


[Nino] Gutierre Diaz de Gamez. The unconquered knight: A chronicle of

    the deeds of Don Pero Nino. Joan Evans, trans. and ed. New York:

    Harcourt, Brace, and Co., 1928.


[Pisan] Christine de Pisan. The treasure of the city of ladies. Sarah

    Lawson, trans. New York: Penguin, 1985.


[Troyes] Chretien de Troyes. Les Roman de Chretien de Troyes. Vol. 1,

    Erec et Enide. Mario Roques, ed. Paris: Librarie Honore Champion,

    1970. English translation by W. W. Comfort, in Arthur romances.

    London: Dent, 1914, reprinted 1970. ISBN 0-460-00698-3.


[Warwick] Julius Zupita, ed. The romance of Guy of Warwick. London:

    EETS, 1966.



Secondary References


[Russell] Jocelyne G. Russell. Field of cloth of gold. New York:

    Barnes and Noble, 1969.



<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org