Friendzoned in the Middle Ages

February 21, 2012

Exactly when you assumed that you’ve seen or experienced all the possible scripts in which you’re firendzoned, seemingly the romantic horror of our century, here comes the Middle Ages feminist and patented poet, French-Italian Christine de Pizan (1363 – c. 1430) with a brand new formula of expelling her male suitors: if poems, she mused, are chief means of expressing borderless love to one’s own sweetheart, why not turn them into torture tools by sending through them messages like “I’d rather we remained pals” ? According to my humble judgment, coincidentally elaborated by historians too, sounds legit.

manuscript

Here’s the juicy example I found browsing an old manuscript available on internet courtesy to my favorite digital library, Gallica:

Long temps a que je perdi
Tout mon soulas et ma joye,
Par la mort que je maudi
Souvent; car mis m'a en voye
De jamais nul bien avoir;
Si m'en doy par droit blasmer;
N'oncques puis je n'oz vouloir
De faire ami, ne d'amer.  

Ne sçay qu'en deux ne fendi
Mon cuer, du dueil que j'avoye
Trop plus grant que je ne di,
Ne que dire ne sçaroye,
Encor mettre en nonchaloir
Ne puis mon corroux amer;
N'oncques puis je n'oz vouloir
De faire ami, ne d'amer.  

Depuis lors je n'entendi
A mener soulas ne joye;
Si en est tout arudi
Le sentement que j'avoye.
Car je perdi tout l'espoir
Ou me souloie affermer.
N'oncques puis je n'oz vouloir
De faire ami, ne d'amer.

And, as I bet you haven’t been able to comprehend much, let me enlighten you with the approximate translation: I was hurt and men trifled with my poor, feeble heart so you, dear, loyal buddy, you, who bear for me these strong, steady feelings… have no chance but remain my platonic friend. The repeating syntagm “de faire ami, ne d’amer” (make friends, not lovers”) gives both the tone and the title of the composition and were doubtlessly a delight for the unfortunate guy to whom she had addressed them.

These are the lyrical words with which gracious Christine shuddered all her admirer’s hopes like the merciless widow she was, excusing her insensibility by the contrary, too much sentiment engaged in previous affairs that, ending disastrously due to unrecorded factors, traumatized the poor woman to such extent she refused to adventure walking once more on the risky wire of love. You’d be tactless to insist proclaiming your adoration after being dedicated this, right?

Smart woman.

christine de pizan

Don’t you consider it a great example of friendzoned in the Middle Ages?

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3 Responses to “Friendzoned in the Middle Ages”

  1. bennythomas Says:

    Once bitten twice shy it is said:
    what two ears have often heard
    Makes sense in one way
    Whether in love or jest said.
    A trifled woman has no way
    But place a caveat on what is said
    Better spared than in the end
    Her sense so lightly blown away.


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