The Book of the Heart Seized by Love
(Le Livre du Coeur d’Amour Épris)
Part VI: Lady Courtesy and Lady Pity
Translated by A. S. Kline © Copyright 2023 All Rights Reserved.
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- Chapter CXIII: The tombs of the poets of love.
- Chapter CXIII: The epitaph displayed above Ovid’s tomb.
- Chapter CXIV: The tomb of Guillaume de Machaut.
- Chapter CXV: The tomb of Giovanni Boccacchio.
- Chapter CXVI: The tomb of Jean de Meung.
- Chapter CXVII: The tomb of Petrarch.
- Chapter CXVIII: The tomb of Alain Chartier.
- Chapter CXIX: Lady Courtesy shows Coeur the rest of the cemetery, and beyond.
- Chapter CXIX: She warns him to be faithful and true in love.
- Chapter CXX: Lady Courtesy tells Desire about an unfortunate pair of lovers.
- Chapter CXXI: The sacred relics on Love’s high altar.
- Chapter CXXI: Lady Pity insists that Coeur swear loyalty to Amor.
- Chapter CXXII: She counsels them regarding their quest.
- Chapter CXXIII: The companions pledge to avenge Fair-Welcome’s imprisonment.
- Chapter CXXIV: Coeur and company set out for the Castle of Pleasure, Pity for the House of Rebellion.
- Chapter CXXV: Lady Pity seeks out Sweet Mercy.
- Chapter CXXV: And tells her of Coeur and his quest.
- Chapter CXXVI: Sweet Mercy blushes on hearing of Coeur.
- Chapter CXXVII: She urges Lady Pity to hasten Coeur’s arrival.
- Chapter CXXVIII: Coeur and his companions reach the Castle of Pleasure.
- Chapter CXXIX: A description of the Chateau.
- Chapter CXXX: The three companions reach the main portal.
- Chapter CXXXI: Fair-Welcome greets the three companions.
Chapter CXIII: The tombs of the poets of love
When Coeur had sufficiently examined the aforesaid shield of the seigneur de Beauvau, he no longer wished to remain there, fearing lest he annoy Lady Pity, who had already summoned him a number of times; though he would willingly have stayed there all day without food or drink, so occupied was he with inspecting the aforementioned coats-of-arms. He passed through the gate without more delay and entered a vast cemetery, filled with raised tombs made of alabaster and porphyry, but also of marble, gold, silver, and other metals; and wrought with such artistry as was astonishing to behold. But the companions had not advanced a bowshot within the interior of the cemetery when they perceived, amidst the others, a number of tombs, not far from the rest yet set apart, surrounded by a wall, and conspicuous by their excellence and singularity: they were exactly six in number and no more.
Of these six, one, the largest, of pure gold, was set beneath a baldachin of silver in the form of a little chapel, open on all four sides, and adorned with medallions wrought with marvellous artistry and skill. On this tomb was the statue of a ‘philosopher’ with a long beard, who upon his cap bore a crown of gold in the form of a laurel-wreath, nobly enriched with pearls and precious stones, including sapphires, balas-rubies, emeralds, topazes and diamonds, while his form was clad in, and covered by, a robe falling to his feet. Around the tomb, all the art of rhetoric was personified by figures in enamelling, and at the head of the tomb a scroll bearing an epitaph was held aloft by a cherub. On the scroll was written:
Chapter CXIII: The epitaph displayed above Ovid’s tomb
‘Ovid my name, here I was laid to rest;
Born in Sulmona, and a self-confessed
Friend of the god of Love, I did rehearse
The Art of Love, for all to read, in verse,
And, through my work, that art was exalted.
Thus, you lovers, by passion assaulted,
Recall my words and you will discover
The fair paradise of the noble lover,
And will know how one should ever behave
Towards one’s lady, your side of the grave.
Wisely, that is, and well, your lady court;
Reflect on love fully, now, and fail in naught.’
Chapter CXIV: The tomb of Guillaume de Machaut
Next to this raised tomb, wondrously fine, magnificent and beautiful, and wrought of noble materials, was that of Guillaume de Machaut, the renowned poet and composer. It lacked a baldachin, but was nonetheless made entirely of pure silver, surrounded by inscriptions in blue, green and violet enamel, engraved with the scores of various chansons, virelays, sirventes, lays, and motets, written and composed in diverse forms; and an epitaph in a dozen lines as follows:
‘Guillaume de Machaut, such had I for name,
Born in Champagne, and since known to fame
As one who was so fired with ardent thought,
For love of a maid, I found joy in naught
Till I could see her, and keep her in view.
Yet, nonetheless, this truth I’ll tell to you,
To forge sweet songs and verse was all my aim,
While my life lasted, ever to please that same,
And I gave body and soul, all my days,
To making ballads, plaints, and virelays,
And in that passion rendered to God my soul,
My body resting here in this tomb, its goal.’
Chapter CXV: The tomb of Giovanni Boccacchio
There was another sepulchre within this enclosure, nobly decorated and ornamented, wrought of silver and gilded, without an epitaph displayed above, for the verse was inscribed instead on the tomb itself, the surround to which was girded by wreaths of laurel in plique-à-jour enamelling, without any other decoration, except that within each laurel-crown was written the name Boccaccio, alone, in antique lettering, surrounded by little flamelets, signifying his lady, Fiammetta, while the words on the tomb read:
‘Boccaccio the poet, am I, laid here,
My body entombed next many a peer,
To show that Fiammetta was my love,
Who my heart to many a sigh did move,
I so scorched with flame and fond desire,
To many a verse, and text, I did aspire,
More in my day than did any other,
Such that my work outlives me; moreover,
I was so enslaved to the god of Love,
That, amidst those of whom he did approve,
He set me, at the last; I mean those whom
Beside Love’s Hospital, here, found a tomb.’
‘Petrarch appearing to Boccaccio’
Boccaccio, Des cas de nobles hommes et femmes,
translated from the Latin, ‘De casibus virorum illustrium’ by Laurent de Premierfait
France; 3rd quarter of the 15th century
British Library Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts
Chapter CXVI: The tomb of Jean de Meung
Next to this tomb, was a like tomb of silver though not covered with like inscriptions, nor in the same style, except in its grandeur, belonging to one who lived in the same epoch, though not precisely at the same time or place. The silver was gilded in a like manner, but where in places there were carved sprigs of laurel, they were not woven into wreaths but were accompanied by rose bushes, each lacking flowers except for a single bud, crimson and well-formed. Between the laurel branches were little scrolls on which was written ‘Jean Clopinel’, alone, though on the lid of the tomb were writ the following lines:
'Jean Clopinel, oft called de Meung, am I,
Who would claim that, midst all those, on high,
Reigning among the poets, I sang of love
More fully than they, for true Love did move
Me, as his slave, to hearten every lover;
Which is why my body he did order
To be brought here, to its final rest.
And here, on my tomb’s lid, at his behest
Is written, that every lover might know,
That to this place, at last, all lovers go,
To lie in the Hospital, where I now lie;
No other dwelling will they win, thereby.’
Chapter CXVII: The tomb of Petrarch
Upon another tomb of silver, more elevated than any except that of Ovid, and without a baldachin, stood the statue of one dressed as a learned man, with a crown woven only of laurel leaves held over his head, by two young girls equipped with wings, while their heads, inclined towards a shoulder, were crowned with gold diadems set with gems; and the statues of these young girls were so excellently fashioned that none, viewing them from a little distance, would have thought them anything but living, the colouring of the enamelwork being so well-done that its hue evoked that of the human body to perfection. And at the head of the tomb a panel was affixed to a column of green jasper flecked with red; on this panel the following epitaph was inscribed:
‘Petrarch am I, the famous Florentine,
Servant of Love, who for that love of mine,
Fair Laura, my blonde and noble lady,
Composed many a sonnet, and full many
A little book, writ in Florentine script,
Such lovely verse as none less well-equipped
Could write, nor had since the Crucifixion;
In that new style, I had no competition.
None was my equal, I believe that true,
Such that I had this tomb made, that you view,
Neath which I lie, destined, ere the grave,
To be Love’s secretary, and his true slave.’
Chapter CXVIII: The tomb of Alain Chartier
At the end of the row of five tombs mentioned previously, there was found another, or to speak more precisely a coffin, for it was made of wood, though it was covered in a large thick gilded drape, as magnificent as it was beautiful: it was not brocaded, but made of layer on layer of velvet, thicker than three fur coats, of fine cramoisy cloth, and the gold motifs were enhanced with gold, strengthened and thickened; onto this gilded cloth was sewn a large white cross, richly ornate, extending the length and width of the drape, which was a good span across or more. At the head of the tomb, a satin cushion, pure azure in colour, rested on the gilded drape. On this, an epitaph was embroidered in pure Cypriot gold, which read, if translated from the French:
‘Charles the Seventh’s secretary was I,
Alain Chartier, a man made to sigh,
Taken by surprise by Love so strongly,
That, when ill Fate wounded me severely,
Through my lady’s death, I spent my days
In languor and in wretchedness always,
Composing chansons, ballads, in sweet verse,
Such as I think none other did rehearse,
Nor wrought so fine, according to my case.
Such that, upon my death, of his true grace,
The god of Love his slave did not forget,
And midst these other poets I was set.’
‘The poet encounters the four ladies’
Alain Chartier (b. 1385, d. c.1433), Le Livre des Quatre Dames; France, W. (Brittany); c. 1425
British Library Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts
Chapter CXIX: Lady Courtesy shows Coeur the rest of the cemetery, and beyond
Once he had read all these epitaphs, and viewed the aforesaid tombs in detail, Coeur set himself to pray for the dead, though Lady Courtesy told him that she was of the firm conviction that he need not do so, for their souls were enjoying endless joy and eternal repose in Love’s Paradise. He continued to view the cemetery, and its many fine sepulchres and epitaphs, asking Lady Courtesy the names of several; to which she replied that if he wished to be instructed in the matter, he must not fail to read the book entitled L’Hopital d’Amour, composed by a young clerk, Achille Caulier, born in Tournai, which would provide sufficient answer.
Then she led him, walking a little in advance, outside the Hospital enclosure, and showed him a host of corpses, left all naked in the mud and rain, without tomb or epitaph, some of which were rotten and decayed, nothing but skeletons, others partially decayed, their entrails on display. While others, but newly deceased, lay indecently revealed amide the slime. Then Courtesy spoke to Coeur, as follows:
Chapter CXIX: She warns him to be faithful and true in love
‘Within the cemetery you viewed,
I know not if your thoughts pursued
The fact that only true lovers
Are buried there, not these others;
For those who’ve loved most faithfully,
Are thus interred, most honourably.
But in this field, beyond the wall,
We find the very worst of all,
Those Love excommunicated;
For their disloyalty, thus fated.
Those who, in this world, lived so
And naught but faithlessness did show.
Lie here, therefore, exposed to sight,
So other folk know what is right,
And in praise of those constant yet
Whom the Love-God will ne’er forget;
While, whether he be known or not,
Shame shall prove the traitor’s lot.
Seek then to be true forever,
And, thus, prove disloyal never.’
Chapter CXX: Lady Courtesy tells Desire about an unfortunate pair of lovers
Then Coeur bowed his head, and meditated for a time on the wonders he had seen, and had been informed about by Lady Courtesy. After a while he raised his head once more, and thanked her profusely for all she had been kind enough to reveal to him. Then she took him by the hand, and led all three of the companions to the rooms of the prioress, Lady Pity, whom they found already risen and quite ready, and they went, all together, to attend Mass, and participate in the service celebrated that day for a pair of lovers, who had been led to their deaths in Germany, after a pitiful affair they had recently engaged in. Desire could not refrain from asking Lady Courtesy for the truth concerning that affair, and she replied that she would tell them willingly, and began to speak in the following terms:
‘In truth, it was not long ago:
That the young man had wished to go
One night, to see his fair lady,
One whom he loved most faithfully.
Their bodies not their souls lie here.
Vile slanderers that oft appear
Speaking ill, whose lies we fear,
Rogues that irk us many a year,
Spied upon the pair, secretly,
Exposing them to Jealousy,
Who took their lives; for a blade,
With one fell blow, the two unmade.’
Chapter CXXI: The sacred relics on Love’s high altar
With these words, Courtesy raised the drape with which the corpses were covered, and revealed them still entwined in an embrace, the sword-blade traversing their two bodies. The three companions marvelled at that remarkable sight before their eyes. They listened to the Mass, most reverently, and then went forward to kiss the relics on the high altar: that is to say firstly, a large and sumptuous crystal vessel, round in shape like a pot, adorned with gold and gems, and full of water from the Hellespont, in which Leander drowned, while swimming that strait so he might see the beautiful Hero whom he loved; and then further relics, as follows:
Item: the sword of the Greek who killed Coroebus, the son of Mygdon, King of Phrygia, as he defended Cassandra whom he loved, which sword by some miracle was still covered with blood and could not be cleaned without the blood reappearing each time, as fresh as the day on which Coroebus was slain.
Item: another sword of ancient manufacture, magnificently adorned with gold and gems, being the sword with which Turnus was slain as he sought to prevent the capture of Lavinia, the daughter of King Latinus.
Item: a goblet of wondrous beauty, which Coeur kissed, marvellously wrought in gold, and garnished with gems, the very goblet from which Ghismonda, the daughter of Tancred, prince of Salerno, drank the mortal potion that killed her, her corpse being interred in the grave of her spouse, Guiscardo, who loved her tenderly, and had been slain by her father on account of that love.
There were many other relics there, of which the tale says naught, since neither Coeur nor his companions chose to kiss them as they had those previously mentioned. And when the Mass had been said and the service was over, they sought Lady Pity so as to obtain her response, as to the counsel she might give, that they had requested the previous eve. Lady Pity summoned Courtesy, and spoke to the companions as follows:
‘The God of Love presenting a ‘royal letter’ to a messenger’
Christine de Pizan, Various works (also known as ‘The Book of the Queen’)
France, Central (Paris); c. 1410-c. 1414
British Library Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts
Chapter CXXI: Lady Pity insists that Coeur swear loyalty to Amor
‘My children, you shall now receive
The thoughts I mused on yestereve:
You asked that I might counsel you,
So, you might fruitfully pursue
Your present aim; first Coeur must swear,
And never from this true path err,
To serve Amor, most loyally,
Now and ever, where’er he be.
Such is right, be you assured,
For Amor is my sovereign lord,
Who founded this same Hospital;
So, think no ill, but promise all.’
Chapter CXXII: She counsels them regarding their quest
With these words, Lady Pity took a book and made Coeur take on oath on it and swear to serve the god of Love, Amor, well and faithfully and to observe the commands which Amor would give him when he spoke to him. And Coeur promised, most willingly, since he was wholly desirous of serving the god of Love, and so achieving his aim in quest of Sweet Mercy. One he had so sworn, lady Pity spoke once more, as follows:
‘Be not concerned, my friends, that I
Have made Coeur take an oath; thereby,
I remain loyal to Amor,
For I have sworn the same before,
Promising him my fealty,
Fidelity, and loyalty.
My counsel I shall give you now,
As best I can, such is my vow.
Just as you seek to realise
A most marvellous enterprise,
So many another likewise sought,
And found reward at Love’s fair court.
But leave that thought now where it lies –
Tis, ever the outcome makes us wise –
And let us turn to the matter here,
How to win Sweet Mercy; draw near,
And list to my counsel to achieve
What you desire, for I believe
Two things you must pursue; in short,
The first: go swiftly to Love’s court.
At the Castle of Pleasure, he
Resides; ask of him, most humbly,
Permission to depart that day,
To win Sweet Mercy, without delay;
That would be best, it seems to me,
Since he is the lord of that country.
The second point you must pursue
Is to make a swift journey to
The evil House of Rebellion,
There, Refusal and Rejection
Reside, who, saddening many,
Hold captive the fair Sweet Mercy,
That most gracious young lady,
Whom, imprisoned, they savagely
Abuse; whom you must ask sweetly,
To win a single kiss, only;
Though if you do all will be well.
Yet first you must fight for a spell,
For Refusal will challenge you,
To battle, and Rejection, too.
They would rather suffer death
Than permit that kiss, in a breath;
Unless they are bribed secretly,
Naught else will serve to set her free.
Also, the slanderers dwell there,
Who speak ill of every affair,
For if you think that they are true
You should know that they speak of you
Not openly, but on the sly.
So agile are their tongues, say I,
And so many lies do they tell
That none of them, though they are well
Endowed with bribes, can ever cease
From speaking ill, just as they please.
Though knowing naught of the matter,
Thus, they go about their chatter,
Ever displeased with some lover,
Envying joy in another.
But for the moment let them be,
The Devil may have them, for free!
Hearken, now, and do as I say,
And never any distance stray
From your companion Largesse.
And adhere to Promise, no less,
Whom you will find has no equal
That dwells in the Love-God’s castle.
For a small fee, Promise will do
As well as a scythe in August dew.
To give little, yet promise much,
Doth scarcely one’s true master touch,
But guard your own self, above all,
From faithlessness, whate’er befall,
For once your promise is given
You must do as you were bidden.
As for Refusal, Rejection,
Deceive them, without compunction.
And when you are before Amor,
I will aid you, you may be sure:
I go now to seek Sweet Mercy,
And to speak to her privately,
On your behalf, for oft I call
On her, despite sour Refusal,
Who troubles her with grief, that same,
Yet he dares not deny my claim,
Nor stop me speaking to her there,
Whene’er I wish sweet speech to share,
Because that villain knows Amor
Will not suffer it, tis his law,
Who gives me full authority
To visit all his company,
All those folk whom he doth approve.
Refusal, Jealousy may move,
Yet with the aid of God on high
Mercy will not your suit deny,
Whom, I shall greet, as I say,
Though he thinks me far away.
Shame and Fear – God curse that pair –
I must plead with, in this affair,
For Refusal sends them ahead,
Such that they oft to those are led,
Wretched lovers, love makes so ill,
That, with ballads, whole sheets they fill,
And songs expressing their affection.
He, and his ally Rejection,
Thus, lay waste the whole country,
All Love’s realm, as does Jealousy,
Who seeks to counter our defence,
Though she comes I know not from whence,
And has wrought Love ill; a mortal
Blow she deals to this Hospital,
For so many lovers she sends here,
I can scarcely house them, I fear,
Though twice the revenue I’d earn
If none of them I sought to spurn.
Also, she was the first to tell
(That hypocrite, I know so well!)
Refusal the news that there came
To this place, one, Coeur by name,
Who possessed a great desire
To win Sweet Mercy; news full dire.
Upon which, her two slanderers
Confirmed those very words of hers,
Without a hint of confusion.
Which brings me to my conclusion:
Come and breakfast, be not slow,
For, upon your quest, you must go.’
Chapter CXXIII: The companions pledge to avenge Fair-Welcome’s imprisonment
Listening to the speech that Lady Pity, the prioress, had addressed to them, Coeur and Desire were astonished to hear her speak of that hypocritical old dwarf Jealousy, whom they had left behind, some time ago, at the hermitage where she held Fair-Welcome captive, as the tale has told. Coeur could not prevent himself from asking Lady Pity whether Jealousy had recently arrived, and she replied that it must have been a week ago that Jealousy had re-joined Refusal’s company.
Coeur and Desire ended the conversation with Lady Pity and talking between themselves agreed that, if they could find Jealousy, they would take revenge for her treacherous imprisonment of Fair-Welcome.
Chapter CXXIV: Coeur and company set out for the Castle of Pleasure, Pity for the House of Rebellion
Pity now took Coeur by the hand and led him to breakfast; and when they had eaten and drunk enough, they took leave of Lady Pity, the prioress, and the Hospital’s matron, Courtesy, thanking them for providing such excellent lodgings, as well as the good counsel that Lady Pity had given them. In departing, they passed through the Hospital, taking leave of the poor, sick lovers, several of whom they recognised, then took to the road, heading straight in the direction of the fair Castle of Pleasure, as Lady Pity had advised, in order to pay homage and reverence to the god of Love, and ask permission to win Sweet Mercy.
But for the moment the tale ceases to speak of them, and tells of Lady Pity, the prioress, so as to relate how, in order to aid Coeur, she went to the House of Refusal and Rejection, in order to speak to Sweet Mercy. At this point, the story says that, once the three companions, Coeur, Desire, and Largesse had taken leave of Lady Pity, the prioress, as you have heard, little time went by ere she took the road straight to that House of Rebellion, where she found Refusal at the door. He regarded her askance, spitefully, but she did not hesitate to enter nonetheless, for Amor had conferred on her the power and authority to visit all those who were members of his company. But not without him protesting, for Refusal could not resist saying a few words in the following tone:
‘Where is this old woman going?
The Devil grant her what’s owing!
Though Sweet Mercy should trust in her,
By God, no good will it offer.’
Chapter CXXV: Lady Pity seeks out Sweet Mercy
Yet, for all that the false and rebellious villain, Refusal, could say, or rather mutter between his teeth, Lady pity entered nonetheless, and went straight to Sweet Mercy’s chamber, where she found Shame and Fear, who kept that chamber under surveillance. Also present were the two slanderers whom Ill-Talk had previously sent there, as the story explained. Beside them was Jealousy, telling tales of the trouble and ruin that in times past had come upon lovers, while the two slanderers hung upon her every word.
When they saw Lady Pity entering the room, their voices dropped, though they continued to mutter and chatter together, saying that the Devil must have led the old woman there. But Lady Pity, who had heard the gist of it, gave no sign, for she knew their evil manners well enough. Rather, she greeted Sweet Mercy, sat down beside her, and spoke to her in as hushed a tone as she could, such that Jealousy and the slanderers strained to hear her, and spoke to Sweet Mercy as follows:
Chapter CXXV: And tells her of Coeur and his quest
‘My most sweet and lovely daughter,
Sensible and noble ever,
I am much troubled and dismayed,
That you to prison are betrayed,
By Refusal, that false rebel,
And those who without a quibble
Support him, Fear and Jealousy,
And these slanderers, whom I see
With you; ten years in their presence,
And you’ll not hear a word of sense;
Yet you a fair and lovely maid,
Sweet, kind, and not meant for the shade,
Are worthy to have, and not by chance,
The greatest lord that dwells in France.
Thus, it is, my fair maid, you see,
On account of your rare beauty,
A fine young lord has ventured here,
Whose name is Coeur, it would appear,
Who’s suffered many an ill for you,
In private, and in public too,
For he has entered on a quest,
At his dear friend Desire’s behest,
Seeking to win you, my maid,
Crossing the sea, all unafraid,
Though many a torment he met there,
I’ll not deny, in this affair;
Many another brave feat too,
He has wrought, in battle for you.
Much has he suffered, that I know,
Scarce able to escape death’s blow,
But he’s a noble lad and true,
In form and face, both, fair to view,
Which shall serve his cause well here.
So do not hold your love so dear
That you would seek to send him hence;
He’s well-deserved fair recompense.
And he has gone to seek Amor,
So as to gain his leave, what’s more,
To try and win you, if he can,
Despite all those who’d thwart his plan.
Think then on what to him you’ll say,
And how you’ll answer him this day,
And to him be not ungracious,
Or harsh, or coy, or capricious,
For he’ll not linger on the way,
But hasten here, and bring, I say,
With him, to keep him company
His noble friends, as you will see.’
Chapter CXXVI: Sweet Mercy blushes on hearing of Coeur
As the lovely Sweet Mercy listened to Lady Pity’s words, she changed colour, seeming redder about the face than she was accustomed to appear, but this suited her so well that none on seeing her could have denied that she was the fairest being in all the world. And she thought, moreover, that he of whom Lady Pity spoke was that Coeur of whom Jealousy and the slanderers had talked: truly it must be him, for they had often spoken ill of him, mocking this Coeur and the pains he had endured on his quest for her, saying that he was quite mad in seeking to come there.
Chapter CXXVII: She urges Lady Pity to hasten Coeur’s arrival
Hence, Sweet Mercy began to feel affection for Coeur in her thoughts, since Lady Pity had touched her heart in speaking of the pain and torment he had suffered on her behalf. But she did not dare speak in reply, for fear of Jealousy and the slanderers who were present. So, she took Pity by the hand and, pressing it hard, thereby signalled to the former to have Coeur hasten there as quickly as he could. Lady Pity then took her leave, preparing to quit that place, but not without inciting murmurs and scornful comments from the slanderers, regarding her lengthy meeting with Sweet Mercy.
But now the author ceases to speak of Pity and Sweet Mercy, along with Refusal and his accomplices, and renews the tale of the three companions, Coeur, Desire and Largesse, in order to relate a part of their adventures.
Chapter CXXVIII: Coeur and his companions reach the Castle of Pleasure
The tale tells that when the three companions, Coeur, Desire, and Largesse had taken leave of Lady Pity, and departed from Love’s Hospital, as related previously, they took to the road on foot, lacking mounts if you recall, since they had given them to their servants when they embarked on their sea-crossing. They marched on until they reached the foot of the rock upon which sat the Castle of Pleasure.
The day was fine and clear, and the sun had reached that height corresponding to the hour of Tierce. The three companions raised their heads and gazed at the beautiful castle but they were so dazzled by the light reflected from the castle, struck as it was by the rays of the sun, that they were quite confounded. It was hardly surprising, given the great beauty of that splendid fortress, which seemed rather a celestial or spiritual thing than a terrestrial one. And though no tongue could describe the great riches, marvels and beauties of that lovely place, the tale, nonetheless prepares to describe something of them, though by no means all, it being beyond the author’s capability, but a part at least.
Book of Hours, Use of Paris (‘The Hours of René d'Anjou')
France, Central (Paris); c. 1410-c. 1414
British Library Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts
Chapter CXXIX: A description of the Chateau
The noble castle was sited upon a rock made of emerald, which was traversed by veins of natural diamond in such vast quantity that it seemed as much formed of diamond as emerald. The surface of the four walls of this lovely chateau were of crystal, and at each corner was a great tower made of pure, gleaming rubies, the least of which was larger than the whole of a man’s body: and these towers were covered with large sheets of mother-of-pearl, the size of a hand, and the battlements between the aforesaid towers were covered with plates of pure gold, nobly enamelled with the Love-God’s device, that is to say: ‘With winged heart’. This device each one bears that is a faithful lover and a servant of Amor, wearing it beneath the left breast, and by this one ever recognises them.
Moreover, each tower was surmounted by a great garnet shaped like an apple, and the portal of the aforementioned lovely castle was formed of lozenge-shaped chalcedonies and agates, while at the highest point of the portal, adorning the summit, was a most splendid oriental pearl, as large as a cannonball, such that a man could not have clasped it in his arms.
This fair chateau was completely surrounded by a forward defensive wall made of sapphire, and to give a clearer idea of the place, it resembled, one might say, that of Saumur in Anjou, sited beside the Loire, except that in size and grandeur it was half as large and as spacious again. It was therefore no wonder, given the description relayed by the tale, that it shone brightly when the sunlight fell upon it. Although not half the beauty of the castle has been conveyed, the tale ceases to tell of it here, being unable to do so fully, and returns to our subject, that is, the fate of the three companions.
Chapter CXXX: The three companions reach the main portal
The tale now relates that Coeur, Desire and Largesse, after remaining in a state of stupefaction a moment, being dazed by the shining beauty of the chateau as indicated, came to themselves. And when their sight returned, they began to climb the rock by way of one of the veins of diamond, though with a deal of suffering for the jagged surface pierced their shoes, and their feet beneath. They dared not look at the chateau above them because of its dazzling aspect, but persevered, so that in no great time they surmounted the rock and came to the first gateway, which was made of cypress and cedar wood, inlaid with ivory.
Since the gate was not closed, they passed beyond to the drawbridge, which was cloaked in shadow since the sunlight fell upon the gateway behind them, but it was a pleasing shade for the sun’s rays played over the crystal of which the castle walls were made in such a manner that they escaped the previous dazzlement they had experienced. All three raised their eyes at once for they were desirous of viewing the wondrous beauty of the chateau.
They gazed at the splendour of the portal, which they had not viewed before, and saw, above the doorway, two large statues of yellow amber, adorned with alchemical gold derived in turn from the fifth element, the quintessence, and with precious stones, richly cut in relief. These statues each held a mirror, made from a large sheet of diamond, six feet in diameter, in which the gateway they had passed through was reflected. The names of these two statues were written at their foot: the one was Fantasy, and the other Imagination, and together, as mistresses of the work in hand, they had conceived and overseen the construction of the aforesaid chateau. And above each of their heads in large engraved letters was written:
Who e’er gazes in my mirror,
Yet is not a faithful lover,
The god of Love would have him know
He’ll repent in an hour or so:
For ire, and grief, he’ll have shortly,
That, in loving, deals but falsely,
And, openly revealed, he’ll see
His lies and his deceptions here,
All his deceit and trickery.
Beware, if such a fate you fear!
Chapter CXXXI: Fair-Welcome greets the three companions
When the three companions, having reached the drawbridge before the Castle of Pleasure, had viewed the magnificent portal and the two statues above the gate, and read the statues’ names, and the verses above their heads, they crossed the bridge, which was lowered, and gazed at the closed doors, wrought of ivory, which had been studded with gold, with consummate artistry. There they halted; Coeur could not refrain from reading the verse above the portal, nor could he remove his eyes from the two lovely statues. Desire then said to himself that Coeur was well caught, and had no means of escape from Amor.
Now, while they were giving their close attention to the two statues, and the mirrors the statues held, behold a handsome young man emerged from the wicket-gate in the ivory portal, bearing a white sparrowhawk on his fist. And if you ask me who he was, I reply that this was Fair-Welcome, the same whom Jealousy had held prisoner in the hermitage, and whom Lady Hope had since freed, as the tale previously related, and who had exited the gate to exercise and feed his hawk.
Desire recognised him on sight, having known him before, and he, in turn, recognised Desire. So, they embraced, congratulated each other, and were joyful. Then Desire presented Fair Welcome to Coeur, who was delighted to meet him. After this greeting from Fair-Welcome, Desire drew him aside a little and told him of their quest and the reason for their being there, begging him also to go to Amor and seek an audience for them, that Coeur might pay homage to the god, for he possessed the fervent wish to become Amor’s servant, and remain in his service for evermore.
The end of Part VI of ‘Le Livre du Coeur d’Amour Épris’