Were women ever sacred?
Updated: Oct 14, 2018
Some medieval and modern men would like us to think so.
When white women invented chivalry and courtly love, did white men really decide it was better for knights to spend their time protecting women rather than raping them? Here is my response to this question, published with the great folks at medievalists.net.
What we may safely say is that the code of conduct for courtly love implied that knights become more refined, strive hard, physically, morally, and culturally, to be deserving of a lady whom they stylized as the paragon of perfection. However, the choice for them was never between raping or protecting the women of noble families who surrounded them at a medieval court. In fact, in most courtly romances the woman at the receiving end of their courtly attention was the highest-ranking lady at the court, the woman married to their own overlord. And this overlord had every interest to control and channel the otherwise uncontainable sexual energy of his young knights towards codified practices that would enhance the reputation of his court while at the same time safeguarding his own superior status.