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extraordinary. John, duke de Bourbonnois, published a declaration, that
he would go over to England, with sixteen knights, and there fight it
out, in order to avoid idleness, and merit the good graces of his
James IV. of Scotland, having, in all tournaments, professed himself
knight to queen Anne of France, she summoned him to prove himself her
true and valorous champion, by taking the field in her defence, against
his brother-in-law, Henry VIII. of England. He obeyed the romantic
mandate; and the two nations bled to feed the vanity of a woman.
Warriors, when ready to engage, invoked the aid of their mistresses, as
poets do that of the Muses. If they fought valiantly, it reflected honor
on the Dulcineas they adored; but if they turned their backs on their
enemies, the poor ladies were dishonored forever.
Love, was at that time, the most prevailing motive to fighting. The
famous Gaston de Foix, who commanded the French troops at the battle of
Ravenna, took advantage of this foible of his army. He rode from rank to
rank, calling his officers by name, and even some of his private men,
recommending to them their country, their honor, and, above all, to shew
what they could do for their mistresses.
The women of those ages, the reader may imagine, were certainly more
completely happy than in any other period of the world. This, however,
was not in reality the case.
Custom, which governs all things with the most absolute sway, had,
through a long succession of years, given her sanction to such combats
as were undertaken, either to defend the innocence, or display the
beauty of women. Custom, therefore, either obliged a man to fight for a
woman who desired him, or marked the refusal with infamy and disgrace.
But custom did not oblige him, in every other part of his conduct, to
behave to this woman, or to the sex in general, with that respect and
politeness which have happily distinguished the character of more modern
The same man who would have encountered giants, or gigantic
difficulties, "when a lady was in the case," had but little idea of
adding to her happiness, by supplying her with the comforts and
elegancies of life. And, had she asked him to stoop, and ease her of a
part of that domestic slavery which, almost in every country, falls to
the lot of women, he would have thought himself quite affronted.
But besides, men had nothing else, in those ages, than that kind of
romantic gallantry to recommend them. Ignorant of letters, arts, and
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