from my step son
a joke sent to G-man, that I had to post...it's funny.
A cowboy named Bud was overseeing his herd in a remote mountainous pasture inCalifornia when suddenly a brand-new BMW advanced out of a dust cloud towards him.
The driver, a young man in a Brioni suit, Gucci shoes, RayBan sunglasses and YSL tie, leans out the window and asks the cowboy, 'If I tell you exactly how many cows and calves you have in your herd, Will you give me a calf?'
Bud looks at the man, obviously a yuppie, then looks at his peacefully grazing herd and calmly answers, 'Sure, Why not?'
The yuppie parks his car, whips out his Dell notebook computer,connects it to his Cingular RAZR V3 cell phone, and surfs to a NASA page on the Internet, where he calls up a GPS satellite to get an exact fix on his location which he then feeds to another NASA satellite that scans the area in an ultra-high-resolution photo.
The young man then opens the digital photo in Adobe Photoshop and exports it to an image processing facility in Hamburg , Germany .
Within seconds, he receives an email on his Palm Pilot that the image has been processed and the data stored. He then accesses a MS-SQL database through an ODBC connected Excel spreadsheet with email on his Blackberry and, after a few minutes, receives a response.
Finally,he prints out a full-color, 150-page report on his hi-Tech Miniaturized HP LaserJet printer and finally turns to the cowboy and says, 'You have exactly 1,586 cows and calves.'
'That's right. Well, I guess you can take one of my calves,' says Bud.
He watches the young man select one of the animals and looks on amused as the young man stuffs it into the trunk of his car.
Then Bud says to the young man, 'Hey, if I can tell you exactly what your business is, will you give me back my calf?'
The young man thinks about it for a second and then says, 'Okay, why not?'
'You're a Congressman for the U.S. Government', says Bud.
'Wow! That's correct,' says the yuppie, 'but how did you guess that?'
'No guessing _ required.' answered the cowboy. 'You showed up here even though nobody called you; you want to get paid for an answer I already knew, to a question I never asked. You tried to show me how much smarter than me you are;
and you don't know a thing about cows...
this is a herd of sheep. . . .
Now give me back my dog.
Famous Medieval Couples
Throughout history, men and women have joined together in partnerships both romantic and practical. Kings and their queens, writers and their muses, warriors and their lady-loves have at times had an impact on their world and on future events. The same could be said for some fictional couples, whose often-tragic romances have served to inspire both literature and true-life romantic adventures.
Below are some famous (and not-so-famous) couples in Medieval and Renaissance history and fiction.
Arthur & Guinevere: The legendary King Arthur and his queen are at the center of a huge corpus of medieval and post-medieval literature. In most stories, Guinevere had real affection for her older husband, but her heart belonged to Lancelot.
Boccaccio & Fiammetta: Giovanni Boccaccio was an important 14th-century author. His muse was the lovely Fiammetta, whose true identity is undetermined but who appeared in some of his early works.
Charles Brandon & Mary Tudor: Henry VIII arranged for his sister Mary to wed King Louis XII of France, but she already loved Charles, the 1st Duke of Suffolk. She agreed to wed the much-older Louis on condition that she be allowed to choose her next husband herself. When Louis died shortly after the marriage, Mary secretly wed Suffolk before Henry could embroil her in another political marriage. Henry was furious, but he forgave them after Suffolk paid a hefty fine.
El Cid & Ximena: Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar was a notable military leader and the national hero of Spain. He acquired the title "the Cid" ("sir" or "lord") during his lifetime. He really did marry Ximena (or Jimena), the king's niece, but the exact nature of their relationship is obscured in the mists of time and epic.
Clovis & Clotilda: Clovis was the founder of the Merovingian dynasty of Frankish kings. His pious wife Clotilda convinced him to convert to Catholicism, which would prove significant in the future development of France.
Dante & Beatrice: Dante Alighieri is often considered the finest poet of the Middle Ages. His devotion in his poetry to Beatrice made her one of the most celebrated figures in western literature.
Edward IV & Elizabeth Woodville: Fair Edward was attractive and popular with the ladies, and he surprised quite a few people when he married the widowed mother of two boys. Edward's bestowal of court favors on Elizabeth's relatives disrupted his court.
Erec & Enid: The poem Erec et Enid is the earliest extant Arthurian romance by 12th-century poet Chrétien de Troyes. In it, Erec wins a tournament to defend the assertion that his lady is the most beautiful. Later, the two go on a quest to prove to each other their noble qualities.
Etienne de Castel & Christine de Pizan: The time Christine had with her husband was a mere ten years. His death left her in financial straits, and she turned to writing to support herself. Her works included love ballads dedicated to the late Etienne.
Ferdinand & Isabella: The "Catholic Monarchs" of Spain united Castile and Aragon when they married. Together, they overcame civil war, completed the reconquista by defeating the last Moorish holdout of Granada, and sponsored the voyages of Columbus. They also expelled the Jews and began the Spanish Inquisition.
Gareth & Lynette: In the Arthurian tale of Gareth & Lynette, first told by Malory, Gareth proves himself to be chivalrous, even though Lynette heaps scorn upon him.
Sir Gawain & Dame Ragnelle: The story of the "loathly lady" is told in many versions. The most famous involves Gawain, one of Arthur's greatest knights, whom the ugly Dame Ragnelle chooses for her husband, and is told in The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnelle.
More couples on page two.
Think you know your famous couples?
Try the Medieval Couples Quiz.
In 1168, Eleanor of Aquitaine left the court of her husband Henry II and took up residence in her ancestral lands of Poitou. Having served as viceregent for the king in England, she had no difficulty pursuing her duties as a ruling duchess, and she wielded the power of a feudal lord and accepted the responsibilities that went with it. With a deft hand and a discerning eye, she turned a district that had been on the outskirts of events for forty years into the center of economic and social life.
As a result of this sudden burst of activity, Eleanor's court in the city of Poitiers drew vassals paying homage, squires training to be knights, young ladies acquiring their education, and visiting future kings and queens related by blood or marriage to the duchess. Because she was a woman of renowned beauty, charm and style as well as extraordinary wit and iron will, the poets, chroniclers, musicians, philosophers, artists, and literati who always flocked around her also congregated at Poitiers.
It was out of this heady mix of royalty and romance that the movement of courtly love emerged.
There was very little that was new about courtly love (amour courtois). Poetry devoted with great ardor to a beloved lady had flourished in the Arab culture for centuries. The "courts of love," where suitors would seek advice on matters of the heart from the queen while the king ruled over his courts of law, had also been around for quite some time. Manners were already on the rise among the elite, though they were the source of much amusement and scorn from the rugged fighting men of the nobility. The cult of the Virgin was rising in popularity. And tales of Arthur and his knights, so inextricably woven into the fabric of chivalry and courtly love, had been circulating for years.
Nevertheless, this point in history was the defining moment of courtly love -- its time to blossom -- thanks to the vision of one woman and the literary work of one man.
The woman was Eleanor's daughter (from her previous marriage to King Louis VII of France), Marie de Champagne, and she had come to Poitiers to take charge of the education and training of the young people at the palace. She had her work cut out for her. The Poitevins had not been accustomed to the ways of court life for generations: the young men were boisterous, bragging warriors; the young women had led isolated lives and were free at last from the confines of the family estate. Religious study had not taught these pubescent pupils how to behave. Marie realized that a subject that could hold their interest was necessary to use as a vehicle through which they could be taught manners and respect. One subject sprang immediately to mind.
The man was a clerk known as André the Chaplain (André le Chapelain or Andreas Cappellanus), who had worked at the king's court and may have accompanied Marie to Poitiers in her employ. Marie set him to work writing a handbook on a code of behavior concerning love. André took as his model, perhaps at her suggestion, Ovid's Ars Amatoria ("the Art of Loving"). Ovid's work concerns how to seduce a woman, and among its rules are appropriate forms of dress, approach, conversation, and toying with a lady's affections, all designed to amuse. In the Ars Amatoria, the man is in control, and the woman is simply his prey.
But André (very likely at the behest of Marie) turned the Ars Amatoria upside-down. In his Liber de arte honeste amandi et reprobatione inhonesti amoris ("Book of the Art of Loving Nobly and the Reprobation of Dishonourable Love"), the woman becomes the mistress of the game. It is she who sets the rules and passes judgment on the hopeful suitor. In Ovid's work the lover sighs with passion for his pursuit, but in le Chapelain's Liber the passion is pure and entirely for the love of a lady.
The rules outlined in André's work are in many ways far from the reality of the times. In the medieval world, women rarely had any power to speak of (Eleanor was a notable exception). The nobility were warriors, and the arts of war, leadership and politics occupied their minds. More often than not, a noblemen thought of his wife (or future wife) as a breeder, a servant, and a source of sexual gratification (his, not hers). Fidelity on her part was absolutely necessary to ensure the validity of the bloodline. Fidelity on his part wasn't an issue.
Under any other circumstances, le Chapelain's Liber might have remained an interesting literary exercise (as Ovid's Ars Amatoria was intended to be); or it might have been ignored or laughed out of serious literary circles. But with the historical background at precisely the right stage of development, in the court of Eleanor and under the guidance of Marie, André's "Art of Loving Nobly" was literature to be lived.
Please visit the second part of this feature, Literature to be Lived.
Guide's Note: This feature was originally posted in February of 1998, and was updated in March of 2007.
Sources and Suggested Reading
The links below will take you to a site where you can compare prices at booksellers across the web. More in-depth info about the book may be found by clicking on to the book's page at one of the online merchants.
The Art of Courtly Loveby Andreas Capellanus; translated by John Jay Parry
Eleanor of Aquitaine and the Four Kingsby Amy Ruth Kelly
The Civilization of the Middle Agesby Norman F. Cantor
Life in Medieval Timesby Marjorie Rowling