Steven Pinker: sex, violence, and failure of enlightenment

Brezhnev in the Era of Stagnation

Harvard professor Steven Pinker is a superstar scholar and a champion of science and truth-seeking. His book, The Better Angels of our Nature: Why Violence has Declined, is an international best-seller. Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, who each are probably more influential world-wide than any politician, lauded Pinker’s book.[1] Pinker’s book explains that prior to the eighteenth century, or perhaps prior to the past few decades, women had no rights, men held women as property, and men could rape and beat women with impunity. But much more work remains for men to do to protect women:

At the top, a consensus has formed within the international {elite} community that violence against women is the most pressing human rights problem remaining in the world. [2]

Elite discourse tends to describe males throughout history, except for a few enlightened fellows speaking today, as brutally demonic in relation to women. Primate behavior in general doesn’t support that peculiar view of humans. Neither does the broad historical mass of data on human behavior. Enlightenment values of reason and truth-seeking, at least among elites, are astonishingly absent in addressing sex and violence.

Recognizing enlightenment’s failure with respect to sex and violence doesn’t require special gifts of intellect or laborious scholarship. High-quality data freely available online makes clear that, in the U.S., four times more men than women die from violence. Much higher levels of violence in medieval Europe were even more disproportionately directed against men. Loss of men’s lives through suicides, workplace fatalities, and battlefield casualties vastly outnumber the corresponding loss of women’s lives. These gender inequalities in lives lost attract remarkably little public attention even in our time of intense concern about gender equality. Evolutionary psychologists might explain that, because of sex differences in reproductive potential, men’s lives are socially less valued than women’s lives. But Steven Pinker and most elite thinkers declare that women’s lives have been socially devalued throughout most of history. To ordinary persons not thoroughly indoctrinated, that elite view is obviously, egregiously false.

Public discourse about sex and domestic violence is an appalling spectacle of bad reason. Pinker dismisses evidence of women and men perpetuating domestic violence in roughly equal measure against each other by directing attention to severe violence. That’s misleading with respect to criminal punishment. Domestic violence laws now encompass acts that cause only minor or no physical injury. With respect to injuries severe enough to send a person to a hospital emergency department, men suffer about 40% of the incidence of such injuries. Nonetheless, domestic violence against men has largely been ignored. Men victims of domestic violence receive much inferior services to those available to women. In medieval Europe, domestic violence against women generated punishment of men, and domestic violence against men generated ridicule of men. In The Better Angels of Our Nature, Pinker wrote:

The argument that women should not be assaulted by the men in their lives is irrefutable, and as Victor Hugo noted, “There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” [3]

That’s hollow rhetoric. The argument that men shouldn’t assault women largely hasn’t been necessary to make. The corresponding argument that women shouldn’t assault men mainly generates laughter and derision. Pinker’s tagged-on quote from Victor Hugo adds only pretentious puffery to the intellectual debacle.

Rhetorical posing about domestic violence has probably increased violence. In the U.S. over the past three decades, new laws and policies targeting domestic violence against women have created a frequently invoke regime of emergency law. Those laws have been central to the rise of U.S. mass incarceration. In the U.S., an extraordinary number of persons per capita now live in highly violent places: jails and prisons.

Generating emotions from deep within, a woman claiming to be raped is a potent means for inciting violence against men. Being accused of raping a woman is enough to get a man lynched by a large mob. Leading newspaper now headline sensational statistics such as the claim that nearly a quarter of Asian-Pacific men admit to being rapists. Pinker describes rape as “one of the prime atrocities in the human repertoire.”[4] Should nearly a quarter of Asian-Pacific men be executed or least incarcerated for many years? Or are those elite claims about rape incredible and hateful? Rape throughout history has generally been treated seriously and sanctioned more severely than other forms of interpersonal violence. Given the seriousness of rape claims, false accusations of rape have also, not surprisingly, been a matter of serious concern, except in recent years. Historically, men seducing women has been broadly criminalized. Today U.S. college campuses are experiencing a reign of terror about sexual assault. That reign of terror is teaching students contempt for truth and justice.

Pinker and other elites treat women raping men as not real rape. Pinker forthrightly declared in The Better Angels of Our Nature that “rapists are men.”[5] Until 2013, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation defined rape such that only women could be raped. That reflects lengthy historical lack of concern about men being raped. Official crime victimization surveys such as the U.S. National Crime Victimization Survey now obscure the definition of rape in complicated administrative judgments. Leading rape surveys have redefined rape to increase greatly the number of reported rapes. Yet men being made to penetrate another person sexually remains excluded by definition from rape. If that form of sexual violence is counted as rape, incidents of women raping men would outnumber incidents of men raping women in the leading U.S. survey of sexual victimization. U.S. judges have uniformly upheld men being forced to pay child support to women who have raped them and had children by their acts of rape. Those celebrating our enlightened times selectively close their eyes to narratively unpropitious facts about rape.

Enlightenment reason’s failures in addressing sex and violence undermine the broad social trust crucial to civilization. Ordinary person through experience and readily accessible facts can easily recognize elite lies about sex and violence. In discussing The Better Angels of Our Nature, Mark Zuckerberg wrote to Steven Pinker:

One question I have is whether there is any data that suggests the internet has led to or will lead to a decrease in violence? Are there any things we should consider while developing internet services that could help further decrease violence?

Pinker responded:

At a bird’s-eye view, one would certainly expect technologies that enhance cosmopolitanism to reduce violence. They can expand our circle of empathy, by seeing the world through the eyes of other people; they can enhance the spread of good ideas and expose bad ideas; and they can empower separated people to act together. In the past, the rise of printing and literacy, and then TV (“the global village”) seem to have led to greater tolerance, and forces against war and prejudice … But what none of us yet understands, I think, is how to prevent a new form of insularity – self-selected, mutually reinforcing ideologues finding each other on the Web and reinforcing their own conspiracy theories. I wish I was smarter and wiser on how to deal with this, and I hope that the geniuses at Facebook are thinking about this!

From the perspective of many ordinary persons considering women’s rights, men’s rights, rape, and domestic violence, Steven Pinker, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and other international elites are no better than mutually re-enforcing ideologues. Although commonly smeared as hate sites, marginal deliberative fora such as the Men’s Rights Reddit and A Voice for Men are more inspiring examples of concern for truth and justice. If enlightened civilization ultimately rests on reason, truth, and justice, rather than status, power, and money, a new revolution of minds is desperately needed.

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[1] Zuckerberg, multi-billionaire founder and CEO of Facebook, selected The Better Angels of Our Nature to discuss in his 2015 Year of Books on his personal Facebook page. Zuckerberg described Pinker’s book as a “timely book” that he “really enjoyed.” Zuckerberg further noted, “A few people I trust have told me this is the best book they’ve ever read.”

Bill Gates, multi-billionare founder and CEO of Microsoft and guiding mind of the influential Gates Foundation, in 2012 declared:

People often ask me what is the best book I’ve read in the last year. Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined stands out as one of the most important books I’ve read – not just this year, but ever.

I’m a dogged advocate for innovations that have brought us longer life spans, better nutrition and more freedom. But I’m also concerned about the things innovation can’t always change, like how we look at justice and violence. Is there a positive trend there, and if so, what are the lessons? How can we make sure the trend continues? How can we broaden it – and maybe even speed it up?

The U.S. criminal justice system is widely regarded as being disastrously unjust. The Gates Foundation should address the grossly malfunctioning U.S. criminal justice system.

[2] Pinker (2011) p. 414. With respect to women’s rights, Pinker states:

it was also during that era, the age of Enlightenment {18th century}, that women’s rights began to be acknowledged, pretty much for the first time in history.

Id. p. 399. Women throughout recorded history have long held key rights: rights to property and rights to custody of children. Roman women held in their own right large estates. Under English common law, women, but not men, were recognized to have a natural right to custody of children born out of wedlock.

Pinker reproduced claims from Wilson and Daly’s influential, fallacious, and misandristic article:

In their article, “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Chattel,” Margo Wilson and Martin Daly have documented that traditional laws all over the world treat women as the property of their fathers and husbands. Property laws entitle owners to sell, exchange, and dispose of their property without encumbrance, and to expect the community to recognize their right to redress if the property is stolen or damaged by others.

Id. p. 197. On Wilson and Daly’s rhetoric, see note [4] and associated text in my post on primatology. See also the Roman-era story of Perpetua, the story of Aseneth (probably fourth-century Syria), and Boccaccio’s story of Madonna Filippa (fourteenth-century Italy). Consider as well bureaucratic management difficulties in a fourteenth-century French household.

Pinker quotes with approval the highly celebrated and deeply misandristic scholar Andrea Dworkin. She tendentiously declared, “a man wants what a woman has — sex.” Id. p. 395. Do men not have sex? Do women not want sex? Pinker declares:

The history of rape, then, is one in which the interests of women had been zeroed out in the implicit negotiations that shaped customs, moral codes, and laws.

Id. p. 398. Inconsistent with history reality, that ridiculous claim uncannily complements Pinker’s zeroing out of men as victims of rape. For further sensational History Channel history, Pinker declares, “The oppression of women used to include laws that allowed husbands to rape, beat, and confine their wives.” Id. p. 382. That seems to be a grotesquely distorted interpretation of laws of coverture.

[3] Id. p. 415. Pinker offers an ideological understanding of domestic violence:

Domestic violence is the backstop of a set of tactics by which men control the freedom, especially the sexual freedom, of their partners.

Id. p. 407. Such tactics, according to Pinker, have included “chastity belts.” Id. Maintaining belief in this domestic-violence ideology requires trivializing domestic violence against men and ignoring contemporary laws that deny men sexual freedom and impose on men forced financial fatherhood. To avoid any misunderstanding, Pinker explains that, with respect to domestic violence, “feminism has been very good for men.” Moreover, “we are all feminists now.” Id. pp. 404, 412.

[4] Id. p. 394. Apparently to emphasize that he is a good man, Pinker also declares that “rape is always an atrocity”; it is a “heinous crime against the woman.” Id. p. 398. Parroting dominant, mythic, women-were-men’s-property history, Pinker declares:

Rape was seen as an offense not against the woman but against a man — the woman’s father, her husband, or in the case of a slave, her owner. … Rape is the theft of a woman’s virginity from her father, or her fidelity from her husband. … When medieval European governments began to nationalize criminal justice, rape shifted from a tort against a husband or father to a crime against the state, which ostensibly represented the interests of women and society but in practice tilted the scales well toward the side of the accused.

Id. p. 395. For reality-based understanding of rape, see, e.g. historical literature about rape claims, the story of the nun of Watton, the Arabic poem ““If only al-Barrāq had an eye to see,”, and the criminalization of seduction.

[5] Id. p. 405. Pinker heads a section “Women’s Rights and the Decline of Rape and Battering.” That heading underscores Pinker’s unsubstantiated belief that enlightenment reduced men’s violence against women. That heading also underscores Pinker’s need to ignore men victims of rape and domestic violence. If men victims of rape and domestic violence (battering) actually exist in numbers similar to those of women victims, that would imply the urgency of further enlightenment and men’s rights. Celebration of current enlightenment and no concern for men’s rights characterize Pinker’s highly honored and best-selling book.

Pinker’s approach to violence is representative of the global elites’ approaches to violence in recent decades:

For the last few decades, the prevailing approach to sexual violence in international human rights instruments has focused virtually exclusively on the abuse of women and girls. … There are well over one hundred uses of the term “violence against women” — defined to include sexual violence — in U.N. resolutions, treaties, general comments, and consensus documents. No human rights instruments explicitly address violence against men. … another term employed in human rights instruments dozens of times, “gender-based violence,” might reasonably be thought to include both males and females. … {however, } “gender-based violence” is used only to describe female victimization, thereby leaving no room for much-needed gender analysis of male rape.

Stemple (2009) pp. 605, 619.

[image] Leonid Brezhnev, leader of the Soviet Union, at a Communist Party Congress in Berlin in 1967. Brezhnev presided over a period in Soviet history known at the Era of Stagnation (Zastoy). Detail from photo with source attribution: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-F0418-0001-020 / Gahlbeck, Friedrich / CC-BY-SA.


Pinker, Steven. 2011. The better angels of our nature: why violence has declined. New York: Viking.

Stemple, Lara. 2009. “Male Rape and Human Rights.” Hastings Law Journal. 60 (3): 605-646.

Le Ménagier de Paris on bureaucratic reality in medieval marriage

child praying for parents

In Christian biblical teaching, the husband is the Christ-following head of the two made one in marriage. This two-person corporation is the smallest possible multi-person organization. The Householder of Paris {Le Ménagier de Paris}, a medieval household book written in French about 1393, makes clear that even Christian marriage had bureaucratic characteristics. A husband’s authority mattered less than his wife’s good will.

In modern bureaucracies, workers learn that they should do their assigned job and not ask questions. Medieval marriages formally were similar. A wife’s job was to do whatever her husband told her to do:

A wife must obey her husband and carry out his orders, whatever they may be, great or small or even really minor. Furthermore, it is not fitting that your husband tell you his reason or the motive behind his order, for that would seem to be a signal to you to do or not do his bidding based on whether or not you found the rationale to be valid. … With regard to his orders, you should never hesitate or refuse to carry out his instructions or in any way slow down or delay their execution. Also, never do anything that he has forbidden or in any way modify, exaggerate, diminish, broaden, or narrow his prohibitions. In and for all things — good or bad — that you have done, you are free and clear of blame when you say, “My husband ordered me to do it.” [1]

For modern bureaucratic workers, what has always been done in a particular job is similarly an all-encompassing justification. “I did what we have always done.” A bureaucrat does her job, and nothing more, and nothing less.

Ideal workers in bureaucracies do whatever their bosses tell them to do. The guiding maxim for an ambitious bureaucrat: you say, “Jump,” and I respond, “How high?” The ideal medieval wife behaved like the modern ambitious bureaucrat:

They all entered the squire’s house together, and the young woman came immediately to meet them. The squire set the stick on the ground and said: “Madam, jump over this.” She jumped right way. He told her, “Jump again.” She jumped again. “Again!” She jumped three times, without saying a single word besides “Willingly!” [2]

Over the subsequent seven centuries, ambitious bureaucrats learned to say in addition, “How high?” But the basic principle of mindless obedience hasn’t changed.

In reality, many bureaucrats are not merely mindless drones. Many bureaucrats push back against being given idiotic tasks. For example, when medieval husbands set a metric for household performance and competed in outcomes, some of their wives responded with mockery:

In front of all the husbands, Robin asked her {his wife}, “Marie, repeat after me what I say.” “Willingly, sir.” “Marie, say: ‘One’.” “One.” “And ‘two’.” “And two.” “And ‘three’.” To which Marie, a bit peevishly, replied,  “And one, and 12, and 13! Come now! Are you making fun of me?” In this way, Marie’s husband lost. Next, the husbands all went to Jean’s house, whose wife Agnes was one to put on airs. Jean told her, “Repeat after me what I say: ‘One’.” Agnes answered disdainfully, “And two.” And thus he lost. Tassin said to the lady Tassine, “One.” With pride, Tassine responded aloud, “This is something new!” Or she said, “I am not a child learning how to count,” or she said, “Come now, by God! Have you become a musician?” and the like. And so he too lost. [3]

In such situations, the appropriate procedure is to set up a meeting to discuss job assignments and responsibilities. With respect to idiotic tasks, that generally isn’t worthwhile. Hence mockery can be a potent internal bureaucratic tactic.

Smart bureaucrats manage up. Medieval wives knew how to manage up:

When such a woman finds herself alone with her husband and they discuss their business matters and amusements, the woman by hinting around subtly investigates and realizes that her husband intends to handle this matter otherwise than she would prefer. The woman briskly changes the topic of their conversation, before he has the chance to say, “In this matter, do thus.” Cunningly she maneuvers out of the touchy situation and turns her husband to another subject and concludes their conversation on a topic distant from the one on her mind. As soon as she sees the opportunity, she has the initial matter accomplished according to her own wishes and does not concern herself about her husband’s viewpoint, which she ignores and having a ready excuse will say, “You said nothing about it to me!” [4]

Another tactic is to contrive to get desired advice from another authority, such as the husband’s respected cousin or a management consultant. That advice then provides cover for doing what you want to do. Another general principle: “Don’t ask for permission. Act first, then ask for forgiveness.”[5]

If all else fails, working to rule can easily overthrow authority.  For example, a medieval wife insisted that all her rights and obligations to her husband be explicitly listed in a document. One day, traveling on a pilgrimage, they had to cross over a ditch on a narrow plank. The wife hesitated behind, afraid to cross. The husband went back and helped his wife to cross. Holding her hand, talking to her, and walking backwards, he accidentally fell into the water. He asked his wife to help him get out of the water:

She responded, “No, no, indeed not! First I will look in my charter to see if it says that I must do so; if it does, I will do it, but otherwise I will not.” She looked, and since her document did not mention the current situation, she told her husband that she would do nothing, and left him and went on her way. [6]

Her husband nearly drowned. If workers do only and exactly what they are instructed to do, without any use of their own good judgment, their organization is dead in the water. Authority is no substitute for good will. Authority that destroys good will destroys itself.[7]

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[1] The Householder of Paris {Le Ménagier de Paris} 1.6.24, from Old French trans. Greco & Rose (2009) p. 123. Here’s an Old French text of Le Ménagier de ParisCurrent views on Christian household headship tend to be much different. Le Ménagier de Paris 1.6.8 includes Petrarch’s version of the Griselda story. Le Ménagier comments on the Griselda story:

I have placed the tale here as instruction, not to apply it to you, or because I expect the same obedience from you, since I am not worthy. I am no marquis, nor were you a shepherdess, and I am not so foolish, presumptuous, or immature as to fail to recognize the inappropriateness of my abusing or testing you in such ways. God keep me from trying you in this or any other manner, under any false pretenses! … And I apologize if the story contains excessive accounts of cruelty, in my opinion more than is fitting, and I don’t believe it was ever true.

From 1.6.10, trans. id. pp. 118-9. The hugely popular story “A Message to Garcia” (first published in the U.S. in 1899) similarly taught men to carry out orders without asking questions. Men, however, were to take the initiative to figure out how to fulfill the order.

The Book of Information for the Daughters of the Knight of the Tour Landry {Livre pour l’enseignement de ses filles du Chevalier de La Tour Landry}, written 1371-2, tells a similar story in its Chapter 19. For a modern English translation, Barnhouse (2006) pp. 93-4. Here’s more on the book of the Knight of the Tour Landry. William Caxton published in 1483 a Middle English translation of that book, titled The Book of the Knight of the Tower. This or similar stories may have been a source for the wager about wives’ obedience in William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, Act 5, Scene 2.

[2] Le Ménagier de Paris 1.6.40, trans. Greco & Rose (2009) p. 129.

[3] Le Ménagier de Paris 1.6.27, id. p. 125.

[4] Le Ménagier de Paris 1.6.47, id. p. 132.

[5] On seeking covering advice from a respected cousin, Le Ménagier de Paris 1.6.46. On acting first, id. 1.6.48-59. In the latter story, the woman’s mother advised her to “shit test” her husband before committing adultery. Asking forgiveness worked well twice, but on the third instance the husband responded to his wife’s bad blood.

[6] Le Ménagier de Paris 1.6.12, id. pp. 119-20. An early example of working to rule is the servant Aesop’s responses to his master Xanthus’s commands in the Life of Aesop 38-50. Written in French about 1500, the farce Le Cuvier (La farce du cuvier) centers on the husband working to rule. Johannes Pauli’s Schimpf und Ernst (Strasbourg, 1522) includes a story of working to rule similar to that in Le Ménagier de Paris. But in Pauli’s story, the wife by working to rule and allowing her husband nearly to drown gains the right to do whatever she wants. Schnell (1998) p. 781. On other pre-modern versions, Centres Sandhu (1980). Some modern actions of working to rule themselves establish complicated rules.

[7] Greco & Rose (2009) offer a brutal interpretation of Le Ménagier de Paris:

This manual naturalizes the brutality of men while blaming women for it and disallows women’s anger.

Id. p. 41. Similar, but more sophisticated interpretations have been put forward for Aucassin et Nicolette.

[image] Elizabeth Cary, daughter of Sir Lawrence Tanfield (ca. 1551-1625) and Elizabeth Tanfield (ca. 1560 -1629), praying at foot of the Tanfield tomb, Burford Church, Oxfordshire, Great Britain.  Detail from image © Copyright Julian P. Guffogg and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons By-SA License.


Barnhouse, Rebecca, trans. 2006. Geoffrey de La Tour Landry. The Book of the Knight of the Tower: manners for young medieval women. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Centres Sandhu, Marcelle. 1980. “La Farce du Cuvier: Origines du thème.” Romance Philology 34:2: 209-216.

Greco, Gina L., and Christine M. Rose, ed. and trans. 2009. The good wife’s guide; Le ménagier de Paris: a medieval household book. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Schnell, Rüdiger. 1998. “The Discourse on Marriage in the Middle Ages.” Speculum. 73 (3): 771-786.

Melibee reversed women’s incitement of violence against men

women and medieval violence against men

Now what shall we say of the sharpness of feminine malice? The minds of women are keener and quicker than are men’s both to do and speak evil, and they are much hotter partisans. In better times they would have reproved their husbands, but today they encourage them to fight for their factions. For this reason much evil has come from women in this world, and much more will come, unless God in His providence disposes their minds to better things than can be expected at present.

{ Ora che diremo dello ingegno della malizia feminina? Piú aguto hanno l’intelletto, e piú subito e a fare e a dire il male, e piú assai che gli uomeni sono fatte parziali; che al buon tempo elle averebbono ripresi e’ mariti loro, oggi li confortono a combattere per parte. E per questo da loro è disceso assai male nel mondo, e discenderanne, se Dio per sua providenza non dispone gli animi a meglio che vedere si possa. } [1]

In the Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer tells the ridiculous chivalric verse romance of Sir Thopas. Sir Thopas was a knight errant longing for the love of an elf queen. “For love and pleasure,” Sir Thopas prepared to battle the three-headed giant Sir Elephant. The Host stopped this nonsense and asked for a different story. Chaucer responded with the Tale of Melibee, an English version of Albertanus of Brescia’s Latin work Liber consolationis et consilii. That work reversed women’s incitement of men to do violence against men. Lessening women’s promotion of violence against men is crucial to reducing violence.

Steve Pinker, a Sir Thopas of our time, credits feminization of civilization for contributing to the long-run historical decline in violence. Pinker declares “the most fundamental empirical generalization about violence” is that “it is mainly committed by men.”[2] That’s half right in a tendentiously biased way. Pinker approvingly observes:

At the top, a consensus has formed within the international {elite} community that violence against women in the most pressing human rights problem remaining in the world.

That makes the gender bias obvious. In the U.S. today, four times more men than women die from violence. Around the world, violence overwhelmingly occurs against men. Whether a man’s immediate killer was a man or a woman doesn’t change the reality of the man being dead. Violence against men is much greater than violence against women and of much less social concern. Belief that the most pressing human rights problem today is violence against women is a modern version of ridiculous chivalric behavior.

Violence against men was much more prevalent in medieval Europe. Homicide per capita was roughly thirty times higher in medieval Europe than in high-income countries today. Because men are vastly disproportionately victims of homicide and casualties in war, medieval men’s life expectancy was about nine years less than women’s. Medieval men also experienced considerable non-fatal violence such as castration and vicious beatings.

Violence against men, along with all other evils, tends today to be blamed on men, or among the more sophisticated, blamed on patriarchy. But in the more liberal political circumstances of medieval Europe, thinkers had more respect for women’s agency. Medieval literature of men’s sexed protest emphatically declared that women promoted violence against men:

She sets friends against one another,
Turning brother against brother;
She cleaves the father from the son,
She robs the mother’s nest of one.

Woman fosters strife and wars,
And exiles men from ruined shores;
Castles she burns, cities defeats,
Destroys the towers and the keeps.
Women’s the reason tourneys are born,
Woman’s the reason swords are worn,
Enmity she instigates,
And combat she perpetuates;
The schemes she quickly engineers
Can drown a countryside in tears.

{ Femme fet descuerer les amis,
De deuz freres fet enemis;
Femme depart les fiz del pere,
A lui se treit, tout lui sa mere.

Femme engendre bataille e guere,
Exile gent de gaste tere;
Femme ard chasteus e prent citez,
Enfudre tours e fermetez.
Femme fet fere les turneez,
Femme fet trere les espees,
Femme commence les estreez,
E meintent les melleez;
Femme engine un poi d’ure
Dount une terre tout ploure. } [3]

Sefer Shaashuim, a Hebrew book from early-thirteenth-century Spain, described how women caused wars between families. In early-fifteenth-century Spain, the Archpriest of Talavera documented that women’s tears can prompt violence against men. Across world cultures, the classical Arabic poetic laments known as marthiya provide perhaps the most pointed and poignant representation of women’s role in inciting violence against men.

In contrast to literature describing women inciting violence against men, Albertanus of Brescia’s Liber consolationis et consilii described a woman named Prudence acting as a peacemaker. Prudence’s husband Melibee, a young, strong, and rich man, returned home to find that ancient foes had assaulted his wife and grievously injured their daughter. Albertanus made clear his work of gender reversal in depicting the initial interaction of Melibee and Prudence:

But when Melibee returned to his home, he saw what happened and began to weep greatly and tear his hair and rend his clothes like a madman. His wife then began to say, so as to quiet him, that he had wept enough. But he continually cried more. And she, being disturbed a little, remembered the words of Ovid in The Remedy of Love, who said:

Who’d stop a mother weeping, unless he’s mad,
at her son’s grave? That’s not the place to admonish her.
When tears are over, and the sorrowful spirit’s done,
then grief can be given expression in words.

{ Melibeus vero post modum reversus, hoc videns coepit magno planctu flendo comas sibi dilaniare vestesque suas quasi more furiosi dilacerare. Uxor autem jam dicta, ut taceret, coepit illum instanter ammonere. Ille vero semper plus clamabat; at illa distulit aliquantulum recordata de verbo Ovidii, De Remedio Amoris, qui dixit:

Quis matrem, nisi mentis inops, in funere nati
Flere vetat? non hoc illa monenda loco est.
Cum dederit lacrimas animumque impleverit aegrum,
Ille dolor verbis emoderandus erit. } [4]

When Melibee finally stopped weeping, he gathered around him “a huge multitude of men {multitudo hominum copiosus}” and “showed his strong desire to carry out a vendetta {magnam voluntatem de vindicta in continenti facienda demonstravit}.”[5] Prudence didn’t incite her husband and the other men to violence against men. Drawing upon classical wisdom, Prudence urged her husband to take time to carefully consider the best course of action.[6] Like the initially weepy Melibee and the philosophical Prudence, the rashly violent Melibee and the calm, peace-seeking Prudence reversed long-established gender stereotypes.

In writing his English version of Liber consolationis et consilii, Chaucer understood Albertanus’s theoretical-didactic gender reversal. Immediately following the Tale of Melibee, Chaucer presented in the prologue to the Monk’s Tale medieval folk wisdom on women and violence:

When ended was my tale of Melibee,
And of Prudence and her goodness,
Our Host said, “On my faith,
And by that precious body of Madrian,
{I swear that} I had rather than have a barrel of ale
That Goodelief, my wife, had heard this tale!
For she is in no way of such patience
As was this Melibeus’ wife Prudence.
By God’s bones, when I beat my knaves,
She brings me forth the great knobby clubs,
And cries, ‘Slay the dogs every one
And break them, both back and every bone!’
And if any neighbor of mine
Will not in church bow to my wife,
Or be so bold as to offend her,
When she comes home she shakes her fists in my face,
And cries, ‘False coward, avenge thy wife!
By God’s bones, I will have thy knife,
And thou shalt have my spinning staff and go spin!’
From daybreak to nightfall right thus she will begin.
‘Alas,’ she says, ‘that ever I was created
To wed a milksop, or a coward ape,
That will be browbeaten by every body!
Thou darest not defend thy wife’s right!’
This is my life, unless I will fight;
And out at door immediately I must hasten myself,
Or else I am as good as lost, unless I
Be like a wild lion, fool-hardy.
I know well some day she will make me slay
Some neighbor, and then be on the run;
For I am perilous with knife in hand,
Albeit that I dare not stand up to her,
For she is strong in fighting, by my faith:
That shall he find that does or says something amiss to her —
But let us pass away from this matter.” [7]

Neither Albertanus’s Liber consolationis et consilii nor Chaucer’s Tale of Melibee can be adequately appreciated without recognizing women’s important role in inciting violence against men.

Medieval readers widely understood and valued Albertanus’s Liber consolationis et consilii. Judging from manuscripts and influence, Liber consolationis et consilii was among the most popular medieval works. Renaut de Louhans translated Liber consolationis et consilii into French about 1337. He did so apparently to promote peace in war-torn Burgundy. In the fourteenth century. Liber consolationis et consilii and its many vernacular translations became recognized as “an edifying treatise for women.”[8] The need for such edification is scarcely appreciated today.

Violence has always been highly disproportionately violence against men. International elites today seem to be benighted within ridiculous chivalric romances like that of Chaucer’s Sir Thopas. Even worse, many of them seem to have the character of Shakespeare’s Malvolio.[9] They deserve to be mocked.

Reducing violence, which worldwide is predominately violence against men, depends on both women and men. Women should stop inciting men to violence against men. Men should stand up to women’s social power and start valuing men’s lives more highly.

*  *  *  *  *

Read more:


[1] Franco Sacchetti, Il Trecentenovelle 179, Italian text from Faccioli (1970), English translation (modified insubstantially) from Steegmann (1908). Sacchetti wrote Il Trecentenovelle about 1395 in Florence.

[2] Pinker (2011) p. 684. On feminization, id. pp. 684-9. The subsequent quote is from id., p. 414. On women’s responsibility for violence against men, Pinker states that women “frequently egg their men into battle.” But he declares, “over the long sweep of history, women have been, and will be, a pacifying force.” Id. pp. 526-7. Over the long sweep of history, the evidence for that claim is very weak.

[3] Le Blasme des Fames ll. 41-44, 53-62, Old French (Anglo-Norman) text and English trans. from Fiero, Pfeffer & Allain (1989) pp. 122-5. The text is probably from the late-thirteenth century. In the Lancelot romance of the Vulgate cycle, Bors carries the white banner of the Lady of Hungerford Castle into battle and joyfully returns with it stained red with the blood of her enemies.

[4] Albertanus of Brescia, Liber consolationis et consilii Ch. 1, from Latin my translation. The quote from Ovid’s Remedia Amoris ll. 127-130 is from A.S. Kline’s translation. Melibee is an English form of the Latin name Melibeus.

Albertanus wrote Liber consolationis et consilii in 1246. He dedicated that work to his son John. Albertanus had at least three sons. He probably didn’t want to see his sons die early, violent deaths.

Arabic literature could have reached Brescia from Sicily or Spain. Albertanus was familiar with the work of the Spanish Jewish convert Petrus Alfonsi (lived c. 1026-1110). Albertanus referred to Petrus Alfonsi 17 times in Liber consolationis et consilii (16 references to Disciplina Clericalis, 1 reference to Dialogus). Petrus Alfonsi was well-versed in Arabic literature.

Prudence tends to be seen as a recasting of Boethius’s Lady Philosophy. While there are some parallels, Liber consolationis et consilii has only one direct citation from Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy. The motivation for Prudence much more probably came from immediate experience and the contemporary literature of men’s sexed protest. That literature is well-represented in Petrus Alfonsi’s Disciplina Clericalis.

Although Albertanus wrote in Latin, he was a layman. He worked as a judge, a notary, and a professional legal counselor (causidici). He was also the author of at least three treatises and five sermons. A primary concern in his writings is to “find means to resolve both public and private disputes in accordance with legal principles rather than knives, swords, spears, clubs, and rocks.” Powell (1992) p. 31. In his Genovese sermon of 1243, Albertanus declared:

The sweetest of legal precepts are these: to live honorably, to do no harm to another, to give to each his own. … Nothing, however, is more unsuitable than to be feared. As a matter of fact, men clearly hate the person they fear because everyone seeks the destruction of the person he fears.

Nuccio, Brannan & Felice (2004) pp. 13-14.

[5] Liber consolationis et consilii, ch. 2, from Latin trans. Powell (1992) pp. 80-1. Wars and vendettas were common within tumultuous, factious northern Italy early in the thirteenth century. In 1238, the army of Emperor Frederick II successfully besieged Brescia. Albertanus, whom the Brescians had put in command of a fortress at Gavardo, was taken prisoner of war.

[6] Prudence successfully led the hostile parties of men to repentance, forgiveness, and a “kiss of peace.” Powell (1992) p. 86. Powell declares:

Prudence, the wife of Melibeus, is more than the personification of an abstract virtue: she stands for the female principle.

Id. p. 116. Mann (1991), p. 98, similarly describes patience as a “womanly quality” and declares:

Melibee submits himself to his wife and to patience in one and the same process; his patience must match hers.

In assigning this tale to himself, Chaucer identifies himself with the values it embodies, and with the centrality of women’s role.

These interpretations ignore Liber consolationis et consilii’s gender reversal and implicitly blame men for violence against men. Prudence, like great women writers of the Middle Ages, had more loving appreciation for men.

Prudence herself opposed gender stereotyping. In her response to Melibee’s argument that “women are wicked and no good one may be found” and therefore he shouldn’t listen to Prudence’s counsel, Prudence responded:

I reply (with due respect to you) that you ought not to despise women in such general terms … there are a great many good women.

Liber consolationis et consilii, Ch. 3 & Ch. 4.2, from Latin trans. Blamires, Pratt & Marx (1992) pp. 237-8. For an alternate approach to affirming “not all women are like that” (NAWALT), see the story of the farmer, his wife, and the fish in the field in Sindibad.

[7] Chaucer, The Monk’s Prologue ll. 1889-1923, close modern English translation from Benson (2002). The wife’s name Goodelief literally means “good dear one.”

[8] From the thirteenth to the sixteenth century, Albertanus’s Latin writings were translated into Italian, French, English, German, Spanish, Dutch, and Czech. They  survive in hundreds of Latin and vernacular manuscripts. Many printed editions were produced in the fifteenth and early-sixteenth centuries. Powell (1992) pp. 5, 121.

Renaut de Louhans (Renaud de Louens) was a Dominican friar. Renaut’s French translation of Albertanus’s Liber consolationis et consilii was “more a paraphrase and a somewhat shortened version.” On Renaut’s translation, id. p. 124-5. Chaucer’s Tale of Melibee is a very close translation of Renaut’s French version, but in minor differences “draws more attention to the limits of human knowledge, to the difficulty of interpreting.” Grace (2004) p. 396. Le Ménagier de Paris (The Parisian Householder), compiled about 1392-94, includes at sec. 1.9 Renaut’s French translation of Liber consolationis et consilii. Le Ménagier de Paris apparently drew upon a slightly different text than that which Chaucer used. Greco & Rose (2009) p. 41. Greco & Rose, apparently oblivious to the literary context, irascibly interpret the text:

Since every man want to “rule as lord” in his home, the narrator demonstrates that the prudent wife must subdue her anger or grief in order to reform her husband’s foolish and dangerous impulses which would destroy the peace of that home.

Id. p. 147. The literature of men’s sexed protest provides considerable insight into that interpretation.

The description of Liber consolationis et consilii becoming “an edifying treatise for women” is from Mario Roques, cited in Powell (1992) p. 125.

[9] Apparently seeking to flatter international elites and dominant interests in academia and media, Pinker declares, “We are all feminists now” and “rapists are men.” Ignoring forced financial fatherhood, he emphasizes the importance of “women’s control over their own reproduction.” Pinker (2011) pp. 404, 405, 688.

[image] Man killing another man while women watch and applaud. Illustration from Codex Manesse, Zurich, between 1305 and 1315. UB Heidelberg, Cod. Pal. germ. 848, fol. 321v. Thanks to University of Hiedelberg and Wikimedia Commons.


Benson, Larry, trans. 2002. Geoffrey Chaucer. The Monk’s Prologue and Tale. The Geoffrey Chaucer Page, Harvard University.

Blamires, Alcuin, Karen Pratt, and C. William Marx. 1992. Men Impugned, Woman Defamed and Woman Defended: an anthology of medieval texts. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Faccioli, Emilio, ed. 1970. Franco Sacchetti. Il Trecentonovelle. Torino: Giulio Einaudi.

Fiero, Gloria, Wendy Pfeffer, and Mathé Allain. 1989. Three medieval views of women: La contenance des fames, Le bien des fames, Le blasme des fames. New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press.

Grace, Dominick. 2004. “Telling Differences: Chaucer’s Tale of Melibee and Renaud de Louens’ Livre de Mellibee et Prudence.” Philological Quarterly. 83 (4): 367-400.

Greco, Gina L., and Christine M. Rose, ed. and trans. 2009. The good wife’s guide; Le ménagier de Paris: a medieval household book. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Mann, Jill. 1991. Geoffrey Chaucer. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press International. Republished in 2002 as Feminizing Chaucer. Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK: D.S. Brewer.

Nuccio, Oscar, Patrick T. Brannan, and Flavio Felice. 2004. “Genovese Sermon: Albertanus of Brescia.” Journal of Markets & Morality 7(2): 599-638.

Pinker, Steven. 2011. The better angels of our nature: why violence has declined. New York: Viking.

Powell, James M. 1992. Albertanus of Brescia: the pursuit of happiness in the early thirteenth century. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Steegmann, Mary G., trans. 1908. Franco Sacchetti. Tales from Sacchetti. London: J.M. Dent & Co.

De coniuge non ducenda: angels save Gawain from marriage

Gawain tempted by wife of Bercilak de Hautedesert: De coniuge non ducenda!

Sometimes your friends really aren’t looking out for your best interests. Especially if they’re married, and they’re urging you to marry. About not getting married {De coniuge non ducenda}, a Latin work of men’s sex protest written between 1225 and 1250, tells how three angels saved Gawain from marriage.

The married men who were Gawain’s friends didn’t act like angels. They instead sought company to the end of their miserable days. Gawain easily could have joined them:

And all these made wild,
by women that they used.
though I be now beguiled,
I think I might be excused.

{ And alle þay were biwyled
⁠With wymmen þat þay vsed.
⁠Þaȝ I be now bigyled,
⁠Me þink me burde be excused. }[1]

Gawain explained:

I once had planned to take a wife
(to follow others’ wretched life),
a tender, juicy, winsome maid —
by her alone my heart was swayed.

Some friends advised me on the spot
to run and tie the nuptial knot
(“The married life’s the way for you!”),
to join me in their woeful crew.

My hasty wedding they did press
to cheer their gloom by my distress,
but through three angels all was well:
God snatched me from the gates of hell.

{ Uxorem ducere quondam volueram,
ut vitam sequerer multorum miseram,
decoram virginem, pinguem, et teneram,
quam inter alias solam dilexeram.

Hinc quidam socii dabant consilium
ut cito currerem ad matrimonium.
vitam conjugii laudabant nimium,
ut in miseriis haberent socium.

Tam cito nuptias volebam fieri,
ut de me misero gauderent miseri,
sed per tres angelos quos missos repperi
me Deus eruit a porta inferi. }[2]

Gawain’s vigorous, celebrated knightly life could have ended with a lament like that of Matheolus in a Latin work of the late-thirteenth century:

Just as I, though sad, am less disturbed in marriage
Because my fellow husbands provide solace in their misery.
Oh, single life! Be sad that single life ends in sadness
Increased only because it is allowed to end.

{ Sicut ego, tristis, minus hinc conturbor in istis;
Ut socios habeant solacia sunt miserorum.
Ve solis! doleant, quia solis puncta dolorum
Augmentatur eo quod eam soli paciuntur. }[3]

What made all the difference was the appearance of three angels. Just as three angels appeared to Abraham at Mamre, so too three angels came to Gawain at Mamre.[4] Is anything too wonderful for the Lord?

One angel was Peter of Corbeil, elevated to archbishop of Sens in 1200. Courtly poets described abstractly men’s love servitude to women. Peter of Corbeil described the life of the ordinary, married working man:

Who takes a wife a millstone ties
around his neck until he dies.
The wife commands, the man obeys;
he once was free, but slave he stays.

His work piles up in rows and rows;
where one job ends, another grows.
The man’s an ass pricked on by spur
to feed the brats produced by her.

{ Qui ducit conjugem se ipsum onerat,
a cujus onere mors sola liberat.
vir servit conjugi, et uxor imperat;
et servus factus est qui liber fuerat.

Semper laboribus labores cumulat,
et labor preterit, et labor pululat.
ipse est asinus quem uxor stimulat,
ut pascat filios quos ipsa bajulat. }[5]

Patriarchy is a hateful fiction beguiling foolish students. Husbands have long lacked equal opportunities with wives to withdraw from paid work. The angel Peter proclaims, “Let Gawain shun having a wife {Gauinus igitur uxorem fugiat}!”

The second angel was Lawrence. He was probably the poet Lawrence, prior of Durham, who died in 1154. Lawrence explained how biological inequality in parental knowledge works to oppress men:

So rancour grips the married male
who keeps a wife who’s up for sale.
He names as heir another’s brat
and feeds what someone else begat.

Thus bitter grief and shame begin —
the child that’s been conceived in sin.
Its mother knows its bastard line,
the foolish husband says, “It’s mine.”

{ Qui ducit conjugem rancorem induit;
pascit adulteram qui se prostituit.
partum alterius heredem statuit,
et nutrit filium quem alter genuit.

Hic dolor maximus est et opprobrium,
conceptus filius per adulterium.
quem uxor propria scit esse spurium,
maritus fatuus appellat filium. }

Under English common law, a child born within a marriage is indisputably presumed to be the husband’s responsibility. Thus a New York court in 1975 ruled that a prisoner was the father of four children his wife had while he was securely locked away from her in prison. The angel Lawrence proclaims, “Let Gawain therefore wife eschew {desistat igitur Gauinus nubere}!”

The third angel was John Chrysostom. Known in the ancient world as the golden-mouthed, with God’s grace he spoke harsh truth to men:

A married man’s a slave for sure,
His flesh and spirit pain endure —
Like ox from market homeward led
To work the plough until he’s dead.

Who takes a wife accepts a yoke;
Not knowing pain, with pain he’ll choke.
Who takes a wife, himself is caught
And to eternal serfdom brought.

A wife’s demands are always met;
If not, she’ll quarrel, rage and fret.
The noise defeats the patient spouse;
He yields to her and quits the house.

{ Vere conjugium est summa servitus,
duplex angustia carnis et spiritus.
sic homo trahitur sicut bos venditus
ut sit perpetuo labori subditus.

Qui ducit conjugem ad jugum ducitur,
et penam nesciens ad penam nascitur.
uxorem capiens plus ipse capitur,
nam semper serviens servus efficitur.

Voluntas conjugis semper efficitur;
sin autem, litigat, flet et irascitur.
maritus paciens clamore vincitur,
et cedens conjugi domum egreditur. }

Is it any wonder that men’s lifespan is on average shorter than women’s? Some say that’s because men prefer to die than remain married. In truth, the matter hasn’t been seriously investigated. International authorities don’t care about gender inequality in lifespan that shortchanges men. The angel John advises, “If wise, then marriage you’ll forbear {uxorem igitur, si sapias, fugias}!”

Marriage is a foolish game in which a wife is entitled to swing a legal axe at her husband’s neck. There is no equal exchange under gynocentric law. When the axe strikes the husband’s neck, his head will be severed from his body. It will never re-attach. Gawain had magic that Merlin lacked. But magic didn’t save Gawain’s neck. Against the selfish advice of his married friends, the Holy Trinity of angels Peter, Lawrence, and John interceded on Gawain’s behalf. Give thanks and glory to them!

*  *  *  *  *

Read more:

[1] Sir Gawain and the Green Knight ll. 2425-8, close translation from Middle English by Benson (2012) p. 179. Like the knight Gawain, the bookish scholar learned from experience of the superior wiles of women. The verse romance Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was probably written in the latter half of the fourteenth century. Surviving only in one manuscript (British Library MS Cotton Nero A.x.), it’s written in an English dialect associated with Cheshire (northwestern England). On Gawain’s relation to the literature of men’s sexed protest, Dove (1972).

[2] About not getting married {De coniuge non ducenda} I2-I4, Latin text (modified to classical orthography) and English translation from Rigg (1986) pp. 67-9. A Latin text is freely available online in Wright (1841) pp. 77-85. Another version of the Latin text is titled Golias on not getting married {Golias de conjuge non ducenda}. Golias was a common name for an imaginary rogue bishop. The poem allows for swapping the names Golias, Gawain, or perhaps another man getting married.

De coniuge non ducenda is also known by the title About the best marriage {De optimo matrimonio}. The best marriage from a medieval clerical perspective was spiritual marriage to Mary, the mother of God.

De coniuge non ducenda probably was written in northern France or England between 1222 and 1250. It survives in at least 55 Latin manuscripts. Some manuscripts cite its author as Peter of Corbeil {Petrus de Corbolio}. Peter of Corbeil was a canon of Notre-Dame in Paris and archbishop of Sens from 1200 to 1222. A conductus for the Feast of the Ass is attributed to Peter of Corbeil.

Considerable variation among manuscripts suggests transmission through scribal memory. Rigg’s text is based mainly on the manuscript Cambridge, Corpus Christi College MS 450, dating from about 1310. Rigg chose it to represent the best-known and earliest form of the work. Rigg (1986) pp. 1, 61. Like Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, De coniuge non ducenda encompasses realistic descriptions of mundane, non-bookish activities.

Various versons of De coniuge non ducenda exist. For a version from a French manuscript, Hanne (2010). A French-language version of De coniuge non ducenda exists in the Harley 2253 manuscript as Article 83, De Mal Mariage (Against Marriage). Fein (2014). The Harley version, which is less sophisticated than Andreas Capellenus’s De amore, inserts qualifiers limiting claims to “bad women” and “bad marriages.” Another French-language version, Douce 210, lacks those qualifiers. Dove (2000) p. 341. There’s also a Middle English version of De coniurge non ducenda attributed to John Lydgate and entitled Payne and Sorowe of Evyll Maryage. Salisbury (2002).

De coniuge non ducenda is part of the Latin tradition of men’s sex protest that encompasses Juvenal’s Satire 6, Jerome’s Golden Book on Marriage attributed to Theophrastus, Walter Map’s Dissuasio Valerii ad Rufinum, and Lamentationes Matheoluli. Rigg (1986), pp. 101-2, outlines parallels between De coniuge non ducenda and Lamentationes Matheoluli. He argues that the former, written in the second quarter of the thirteenth century, influenced the the latter, written about 1290.

[3] Lamentationes Matheoluli ll. 326-9, my translation from the Latin text of Van Hamel (1892) vol. 1, p. 23.

[4] On the three angels appearing to Abraham at Mamre, Genesis 18:1-15.

[5] De coniuge non ducenda P2-P3, trans. Rigg (1986) p. 73. The subsequent quotes are from id. L6-7, J2-3, J14. The text emphasizes the reality of the husband’s continual, pressing work for money for his family:

He pursues labor for money,
so that hunger doesn’t burden his family’s bellies.
He works constantly and without rest,
and tomorrow he begins again what he did today.,

Indeed, always serving, he is made a slave.

{ Instat laboribus causa pecunie,
Ne fames urgeat ventres familie.
Laborat iugiter et sine requie,
Et cras incipiet, ut fecit hodie.

Nam semper seruiens servus efficitur. }

De coniuge non ducenda P9, J3.4, Latin text of Rigg (1986), my English translation. The fourteenth-century French allegory The Way of Poverty and Riches {Le Chemin de Povreté et de Richesse} similarly depicts a husband’s anxieties to earn money for his family.

The burdens husbands endure, including gross anti-men bias in family law, have long been trivialized. Kuczynski (2000) reports:

one nineteenth-century reader of De conjuge non ducenda (no. 83), one of Harley’s antifeminist diatribes, spoke for many when he scrawled above the title of the Latin text in a book at the Tulane University Library, “A brutal piece of Monkish foulness, worse than any Classical smuttishness. Luther is here justified.”

Id. p. 141. Rigg (1986), in contrast, observes that De coniuge {conjuge} non ducenda is “a cheerful poem and not very serious.” The poem’s assertions:

stress not the obstacles that marriage poses to the scholar or cleric but the disadvantages for the ordinary working man. … the context is an ordinary working man’s household, beset above all by financial worries.

Id. preface, p. 4. Men’s burdens historically have tended to be disparaged and depreciated.

[image] Wife of Bercilak de Hautedesert attempts to seduce Gawain in bed. Illumination detail from f. 125/129 recto from British Library MS Cotton Nero A.x, the only surviving manuscript of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Thanks to the Cotton Nero A.x. Project.


Benson, Larry Dean, trans. 2012. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: a close verse translation. Morgantown: West Virginia University Press.

Dove, Mary. 1972. “Gawain and the Blasme des Femmes Tradition.” Medium Aevum 41: 20-26.

Dove, Mary. 2000. “Evading textual intimacy: the French secular verse.” Pp. 329 – 349 in Fein, Susanna Greer. 2000. Studies in the Harley manuscript: the scribes, contents, and social contexts of British Library MS Harley 2253. Kalamazoo, Mich: Published for TEAMS in association with the University of Rochester by Medieval Institute Publications, Western Michigan University.

Fein, Susanna, ed. with David B. Raybin, and Jan M. Ziolkowski, trans. 2014. The complete Harley 2253 Manuscript (vol. 1, vol. 2, vol. 3). Medieval Institute Publications, Western Michigan University. Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Hanne, Olivier. 2010. “De optimo matrimonio: Edition et traduction de la satire sur le mariage attribuée à Pierre de Corbeil (d’après le manuscrit Paris, BNF, Lat. 3343).” Online. HAL Id: halshs-00769219, version 1.

Kuczynski, Michael P. 2000. “An ‘electric stream’: the religious contents.” Pp. 123-161 in Fein, Susanna Greer. 2000. Studies in the Harley manuscript.

Rigg, A. G. 1986. Gawain on Marriage: the textual tradition of the De coniuge non ducenda with critical edition and translation. Toronto, Ont., Canada: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies.

Salisbury, Eve. 2002. The trials and joys of marriage. Kalamazoo, Mich: Published for TEAMS in association with the University of Rochester by Medieval Institute Publications, Western Michigan University.

Van Hamel, Anton Gerard, ed. 1892. Mathéolus, Jean Le Fèvre. Les lamentations de Mathéolus et le livre de leesce de Jehan Le Fèvre, de Ressons: poèmes français du XIVe siècle. Paris: Bouillon.

Wright, Thomas, ed. 1841. The Latin poems commonly attributed to Walter Mapes. London: Printed for the Camden Society, by J.B. Nichols and Son.