Women in Ywain by Chrétien de Troyes
In Chrétien de Troyes' Ywain, women represent the moral virtue and arch of all mid-evil civilization. Women of this time had to be an object of love, which meant they had to have beauty, goodness, and be truthful. They had to be a representative of all chivalrous ideals. They also act as civilizing influences throughout the story. Women are put in the story to give men a reason for acting brave and noble. Men become knights in order to demonstrate to women that they are strong and capable of defending themselves against danger. This, they hope, will win the women's heart.
In medieval times, the first-born son of a landowner is entitled to his father's estate, while other sons and daughters are not given anything. Knights are usually not the first-born son, and thusly do not receive any grants of land from their father. If a landowner only has a daughter, she becomes an heiress, and inherits her fathers land but has to find a husband to take over this land. A knight's dream is to marry a wealthy heiress, and become a landowner. People become knights in order to battle other knights, to show their courage, and win the respect of these heiresses, so they will be able to gain an estate of their own and move up the social scale. Chrétien tells a story that would entertain the desires of knights and give the hope that they to would be able to find a damsel just like Ywain did.
Early in the story, Ywain battles and defeats a knight, who, mortally wounded, flees to his castle. Ywain pursues him, but upon reaching the castle, he is trapped by the portcullis, which crashes down upon him, killing his horse. He is rescued by Lunette, the companion of the dead knight's wife. He then falls in love with the grieving widow of the knight, Alundyne, whom he has just slain; subsequently, he marries her and becomes the protector of her property. In doing this, Ywain has just done what every knight dreams of, marring a wealthy damsel and taking over her land.
Women in the story all seem to be described as beautiful, which leads me believe that this was indeed...