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Saturday, August 6, 2016

Knights of the Old West - Living the Code by @JacquieRogers #HeartsOfOwyhee

Knights of the Old West
by Jacquie Rogers

A certain mythos of romance holds a strong place in my heart. And of course, when I talk about romance, I’m gonna talk about men. As a woman, and as a romance writer, men fascinate me. They’re so incredibly complicated but at the same time so basic. Women are complicated and basic in other ways, leaving the man/woman relationship mystifying as to how or why it ever works. The romance genre delves into this complexity in every book.

When a woman looks for a mate, and finding a mate is what romance is all about, she’s hardwired to look for the three Ps in a prospective candidate: Provide, Protect, and Procreate. Now, nearly all men are ready at any time for the third P (although we ladies are a bit picky about who fathers our children), but quite a few men aren’t all that keen about the first two.

And that’s why we women love the whole idea of knights and cowboys. Yes, I lumped them into the same sentence. Take a look at the Texas Rangers oath for deputy rangers:

  • Be Alert
  • Be Obedient
  • Defend the Weak
  • Never Desert a Friend
  • Never Take Unfair Advantage
  • Be Neat
  • Be Truthful
  • Uphold Justice
  • Live Cleanly
  • Have Faith in God

You'd probably guess that was the Texas Rangers oath even if I hadn't told you simply because its the crux of what an American cowboy is even now.

Now here’s the Knights Code of Chivalry described in the Song of Roland:

  • To fear God and maintain His Church
  • To serve the liege lord in valour and faith
  • To protect the weak and defenceless
  • To give succour to widows and orphans
  • To refrain from the wanton giving of offence
  • To live by honour and for glory
  • To despise pecuniary reward
  • To fight for the welfare of all
  • To obey those placed in authority
  • To guard the honour of fellow knights
  • To eschew unfairness, meanness and deceit
  • To keep faith
  • At all times to speak the truth
  • To persevere to the end in any enterprise begun
  • To respect the honour of women
  • Never to refuse a challenge from an equal
  • Never to turn the back upon a foe

 That’s just a longwinded way of saying the same thing as the Texas Rangers did.

Truth is, people haven’t changed much, if ever. Our idea of the US Navy SEAL, the 19th Century cowboy, or the 13th Century knight all bring to a woman’s mind the perfect man to give us children, provide for them, and to protect them from harm so they can thrive into adulthood.

Our ideal romance hero is intelligent, loyal, honest, brave, and oh-so-sexy. My hero in Much Ado About Marshals is placed in a situation that tests him, because if he is loyal, he can’t be honest, and if he’s honest, he will betray his best friend. What a dilemma for a man who lives by the Knight’s Code of Chivalry, even if he’d never heard of such a code, because that’s the way of the good guys in the Old West.

This same situation could have played out in Medieval England as well as in the American Old West. It was Sir Lancelot’s dilemma in the days of King Arthur and the glorious Round Table, and now it’s Cole Richards’ dilemma in Much Ado About Marshals, set in the dusty desert of Owyhee County, Idaho. The cowboy’s word is his bond. Honor is everything.

Men are men. They’re warriors, hunters, and protectors. It’s through that tough exterior that women find his core of loyalty, honor, and most of all, love. The sweetest of women can tame the hearts of the toughest of men. This is our fantasy--this is what we’ve dreamed about since we were little girls.

And that’s why men in chaps and spurs melt the ladies' hearts.


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  1. Sigh. You are so right, Jacquie. I love men of the old west and knights of the medieval times. My two favorite romance periods! This is a wonderful post. Makes sense to me!

    1. My favorites, too! I've written a couple medieval stories. Would like to write more, but too busy with westerns right now.

  2. Amen to all the above. I guess since I write both, I would agree 100% with you on this. Of course, being me, in my stories, he'd have to be strong enough to let the heroine have their strength without losing himself, and the reverse is true, at least it seems to be in my stories.

    Enjoyed your thought process and of course I love your stories. Doris

    1. Same with my heroes and heroines. To be honest, I can't abide the contrived conflict when the hero and heroine aren't equals, because then the same one always has the upper hand. Just doesn't work for me.

  3. Jacquie,

    As I read your article, the book/movie 'The Quick and the Dead' by Louis L'Amour came to mind (the Sam Elliott/Kate Capshaw movie).

    It's a story in which the 3 Ps are at the heart of the plot.

    The husband, Duncan, has fallen short in the 3 Ps. He is inept in Providing and Protecting his wife (Susanna) and his son.

    Another man, a seasoned man of the west, Con Vallian, helps the family and, in doing so, makes Duncan appear even less of a provider and protector. Con is not only skilled at Providing and Protecting, he's ready, willing, and able to take care of the Procreating, too.

    Duncan is so inept that I was embarrassed for him and for his wife and son. I even rooted for Susanna to leave him, even though I knew she wouldn't leave him for Sam... I mean, Con. *grin* But I sure wanted her to. Even though Duncan grew and changed by the end of the story and he earned his Provide and Protect badges, he still wasn't "man enough" in my book.

    Two other westerns that incorporate the 3 Ps are "Shane" and "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance".

    1. Good examples! And in real life, the same. It's a lot easier to find a man willing to do the third P than the first two. LOL.

  4. Great post. Something to keep pinned to the bulletin board under "My here is...."