considering suicide, Felice feared for her husband Guy of Warwick

Penal systems vastly disproportionately punish persons with penises. Awareness of that grotesque social injustice deterred the medieval heroine Felice from committing suicide in the romance Guy of Warwick {Gui de Warewic}. As that romance makes clear, meninist consciousness saves lives.

Felice’s husband was Guy of Warwick. He fell into gyno-idolatry for her. She spurred him into the men-killing folly of chivalry. He eventually repented of that grave sin. He then decided to leave his pregnant wife Felice in order to seek his own godly salvation. In short, he was clueless about true love and acted like a complete jerk toward his wife Felice.

Felice, in contrast, loved her husband Guy despite his egregious behavior. Perhaps she appreciated that she had done grave wrong to him. In any case, she was extremely distraught at him leaving her:

“God,” she said, “what will I do,
since I’ll lose my husband,
the person I have most loved in the world?
And how will I be able to live?”
Then she fell swooning to the ground.
Such sorrow you never saw a woman make —
tearing her clothes and pulling out her hair.
There was large doubt about her continuing to live.
She wrung her hands, which were white,
such that she broke the rings on her fingers
and in her fingers blood appeared.
Enduring tenuous life that night,
she never stopped swooning and weeping.
She continuously lamented her good husband.

{ “Deu!,” fait ele, “que ferai,
Quant mun seignur perderai,
La ren del mund qu plus amai?
E jo coment vivre purrai?”
Atant chet pasmé a la tere,
Tel duel ne veistes femmes faire:
Ses dras depecer, ses crins detraire,
De sa vie ert grant arveire;
Ses mains detort, qui blanches erent,
Que les anels des deiz depecerent,
Par sum de deiz le sanc parut,
Dure vie demena la nuit;
De pasmer e plurer ne fina,
Sun bon seignur tutdis regretta. }

In leaving his pregnant wife, Guy of Warwick wasn’t a good husband. Felice, however, loved him till death do them part:

Now she took a sword
and pulled it out from its scabbard.
Then she said that she would kill herself
since she had lost her husband.
She put the sword close to her heart.
Thereupon she thought
that she was doing great folly.
Was she not pregnant with a child?
She could not kill herself
without the child having to die.

{ Atant ad pris une espee,
De l’eschalberc l’ad sachee;
Puis ad dit qu’ele se ocirad,
Quant sun seignur perdu ad.
Endré sun quor l’espee mis ad,
Quant ele dunc se purpensad
Qu’ele fesit folie grant:
Dune ert ele enceinte d’enfant?
Oscire pas ne se purreit,
Que l’enfant morir n’estovereit. }

The famous Queen Dido of Carthage killed herself and the child in her womb. Felice was more compassionate. Medieval Christians regarded suicide as a grave sin. Felice, in contrast, didn’t kill herself for the sake of the child in her womb.

She also didn’t kill herself for the sake of her husband Guy of Warwick. She astutely reasoned:

If she killed herself in that way
when the count, her father,
and her mother and her friends
and all the people of the country knew of it,
at once they would think that her husband
had killed her in madness,
and for this cause he had fled.

{ S’ele se oscie en tel manere,
Quant le savera le cunte, sun pere,
E sa mere e ses amis
E la gent de tut le pais,
Tost quidereient que sun seignur
Oscise l’avreit par folur,
E pur ço fui s’en serreit }

Men are vastly gender-disproportionately accused of crimes. Unlike so many persons today, Felice recognized criminal gender injustice. She didn’t want another man, her husband Guy of Warwick, to be wrongly criminalized. Men’s lives mattered to her.

Felice and Guy of Warwick in hermitage in which they died

Women’s lives are vitally important to men. That’s reason for any woman not to commit suicide. Many other reasons exist for women not to commit suicide. In the righteous medieval romance Gui de Warewic, the heroine Felice realized that men tend to get blamed for crimes. She didn’t want her husband Guy of Warwick to be blamed for murder if she committed suicide. Such praiseworthy meninist consciousness truly can save women’s lives.

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The Anglo-Norman verse romance Guy of Warwick {Gui de Warewic}, which might be regarded as a proto-meninist work, is dated to (shortly) “before 1204.” Weiss (2008) p. 14. For a modern English translation of a fifteenth-century Middle English Guy of Warwick, Scott-Robinson (2019).

Immediately after describing Felice’s concern that Guy would be accused of murder if she committed suicide, the narrator declares: “Otherwise for sure she would have killed herself {Altrement pur veir s’oscireit}.” Gui de Warewic, v. 7770.

The quotes from Gui de Warewic show the Old French (Anglo-Norman) edition of Ewert (1933) and my English translation, benefiting from that of Weiss (2008). The online Anglo-Norman Dictionary and atilf’s Dictionnaire du Moyen Français (1330-1500) are helpful for translating the text. The quotes in the main text are vv. 7739-52 (“God,” she said…), 7753-62 (Now she took a sword…), and 7763-9 (If she killed herself in that way…).

[image] Felice and Guy of Warwick in hermitage in which they died. Woodblock print from Rowland (1701) p. 30.


Ewert, Alfred, ed. 1933. Gui de Warewic, Roman du XIIIe Siècle. 2 vols. Les classiques français du Moyen Âge, 74-75. Paris: Champion.

Rowland, Samuel. 1701. The Famous History of Guy of Warwick. London: printed for G. Conyers, at the Golden-Ring in Little-Britain. Originally published in 1690.

Scott-Robinson, Richard. 2019. Guy of Warwick translated and retold in modern English prose. Story from Cambridge University Library MS Ff. 2.38, the fifteenth century version (retold from the Middle English of Zupitza, J., 1875 and 1876, reprinted as one volume 1966, Early English Text Society). Eleusinianm.

Weiss, Judith, trans. 2008. Boeve de Haumtone and Gui de Warewic: Two Anglo-Norman Romances. Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 332; The French of England Translation Series, 3. Tempe, AZ: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.

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