Here is a rough guide to seducing a paragon of chivalry, bringing him to your feet – and to your bed – resulting in displays of chivalry by day and nights of exhausting pleasure. Caution: only a truly mighty night can endure this routine for long. But then, nothing prevents a damsel from abandoning the exhausted hero in favour of the next prey.
The formula is time-proven and recorded in at least two medieval romances, that of Sir Lanval (originally a lay by Mary de France; translated into Middle English and variously known as Sir Launfal and Sir Landevale), which contains a formula of successful seduction, and of Sir Perceval (the Lancelot-Graal cycle version entitled La Queste del saint graal), which offers a cautionary tale of failed seduction.
Here is a brief outline:
- Find a knight in distress (yes, there are nights in distress, not only damsels in distress!)
- Invite the knight to one’s tent/meet him ‘accidentally’ in the forest.
- Offer the knight something he’s missing sorely: e.g., Lanval is poor, Perceval needs a horse. So, offer a great big horse to both, and to Lanval, money and a servant in addition. NB: Choose a white destrier; a coal-black destrier would be mighty suspicious.
- Ask the knight to join you for a dinner/supper/late breakfast. Serve lots of wine, spiced wine, wine with honey (claré and pyment work best). NB: the knight should be hungry. NBB: choose a hot day, so there is a pretext to unlace the kirtle suggestively or even undo it entirely up to the waist, as Lanval’s fairy does.
- After the meal, when the knight is slightly – or considerably – inebriated, suggest a bed to him, meaning a bed together. Even if the damsel is less beautiful than Lanval’s absolutely stunning fairy, even if she has horns, hoofs and a long, tasseled tail, the knight is sure to find his host absolutely irresistible. NB: make sure there are no crosses, cross-shaped sword hills and other objects likely to remind the knight of his Christian duty.
Now, you already see the outlines of failure and success. Lanval’s fairy obviously did the right things, and Perceval’s ‘damsels’ in disguise didn’t. In the next two posts, I will give the main lines of both stories and explain why horses, rather than other valuables, are crucial in this transaction.