A friend of mine knows of my preoccupation with chivalry, just went to a used book store nearby. Well, I now have in my hot little hands a gem of a book. Its entitled: The Age of Chivalry, and it was written in 1963 by Sir Arthur Bryant. The author is a controversial British historian, who seems to have had some personal baggage; however, the passage from his work cited below is consistent with everything I have ever read on Marian devotion in Medieval England. It is also very much supportive of one of my basic contentions, namely, that the spirit of chivalry is in its origin essentially Marian.
Most loved of all who interceded for man was the Virgin. The Gabriel bell rang at evening to call Christians to recite Ave Maria, and the pilgrims flocked to see the replica of her house in the Augustinian priory at Walsingham, believing that the heavenly galaxy, the Milky Way, had been set to guide them there. The cult of supplicating Mary to intercede for human weaknesses which only a woman could be expected to forgive was then first reaching the height of its immense popularity. The great events of her life, the Annunciation, Purification, Visitation and Assumption, had taken their place among the feasts of the Christian year; at the Purification in February, known as Candlemas, everyone walked through the streets carrying candles blessed at the altar in her honour. She was thought of as the embodiment of every womanly virtue; tender, pure and loving and so pitiful that even the most abandoned could hope for forgiveness through her aid. “A woman clothed in the sun with the moon under her feet and upon her head a crown of twelve stars,” a preacher called her: “this great sign and token stretched down into the depths of Hell, for all the devils there dread the name of this glorious Virgin.” Continue reading