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Gallantry in France

Updated: Jun 19, 2020

What is gallantry?

Gallantry refers to a French art of living, a form of politeness and manners.

It is a code of conduct around women, in the form of various ways to make their lives easier, between attention and seduction.

Gallantry in history

Gallantry has a double origin.

A first appearance was made in the 12th century, in the form of Amour Courtois in the Courts of Queens of France such as Eleanor of Aquitaine.

In opposition to the brutal practices of the time, such as kidnappings or forced marriages, poets and troubadours wrote for high-ranking women.

It was also one of the first steps towards respect for women.

The second influence started in the 17th century in the salons.

In this context, gallantry strictly speaking develops, notably with the famous hand kiss.

The gallant man is thus the one who perfectly masters the customs of the Court.

This became a real social order in Versailles under Louis XIV.

Gallantry nowadays

Gallantry has spread until now, what was reserved for a very coded aristocratic elite, is today accessible to everyone by simple gestures or attentions.

But then, in what forms does gallantry exist?

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