Thursday, August 18, 2011

Cowboys: Knights of the Old West

by Jacquie Rogers
Copyright © 2011 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 that’s 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:

Karl Urban
Commanche Moon

  • 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 cowboy 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 Author 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.

First printed in Wendy Laharnar's Calico Corner

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  1. Excellent post, Jacquie. I've always had a soft spot for the cowboy. Rugged men who stop at nothing to champion against evil. And a busy marshall? On top of protecting his territory AND the people in it, NOW you're demanding that he fall in love?????!!! Such torment.

    Write faster , please. ☺

    Cindy Nord

  2. Great article. We all too often get caught up in the bank robbers, and villains, and gamblers. There indeed were Cowboy Knights.

  3. Good topic to discuss. There are enough similarities between Cowboys and Knights that I think you could say that Cowboys were cowboys of the Old West. Medieval times were violent and so was the Old West. This topic is going to keep me and my cousin talking all day. :)

  4. oops - forgot my emai addy.

  5. Great post and I think that Cowboys and Knights are one and the same. They are both loyal, steadfast, honorable, and sexy. Plus, true love will melt them faster than butter.

  6. You've definitely hit the nail on the head - and I am lucky enough to have a hubby who fits into the mode of both a knight and a cowboy. We often tell him he was born at least 100 years too late because he could so easily have lived all those years ago.

    Great post. I wish you well with lots and lots of sales, Jacquie.

  7. Cindy, thanks. And I do need to get to writing--have been doing way to much non-writing stuff lately and my characters are getting a little antsy for their stories to be told. Best of luck to you and your books!

  8. Norm, you're right. We often concentrate on the external events without regard to the mythos behind it. I'll be anxious to read your post on shamanism here at RTW next month!

  9. Jacki, I think it's a fascinating topic, too. Nothing like a contrast and compare to make both cowboys and knights that much more fascinating. :)

  10. Harlie, ain't that the truth!!! Warriors through the ages have always sparked our imaginations. Nothing like a brave, hearty soul to inspire true love.

  11. Paisley, you certainly are lucky! I'm lucky, too, in that regard. Best of luck to you, too. I'm ready to buy your books. :)

  12. Jacquie,

    As usual this was a great post. Please don't include me in the contest for I have this wonderful book already.

    I think we as women love the ideal of the Strong Protector, the dark & sexy men who are the Alpha and who is no nonsense and believe in taking care of the ones they love and there responsible for. When he loves he loves with all his heart and soul. And the woman he falls in love with is his world and he will stop at nothing to protect her and love her and cherish her.

    He's tough on the outside but when it comes to his woman on the inside and behind clothes doors anything goes, if you know what I mean.

    Teresa K.

  13. Teresa, thanks for the compliment! I hope you enjoy Much Ado About Madams, too.

    I love writing the strong protector, but I don't have a lot of patience for too much angst. It's okay for reading material, but writing...well, I really have to have a hero I can live with for six months. Maybe that's why I always put my macho cowboys in ridiculous situations. Poor guys. Ah, but they're up to the task. :)

  14. Jacquie, I agree. For instance, "to serve the liefe lord ...." translatew to "ride for the brand."

  15. Yes, there's a cowboy code but I couldn't find an attribution so didn't include it:
    Live each day with courage.
    Take pride in your work.
    Always finish what you start.
    Do what has to be done.
    Be tough, but fair.
    When you make a promise, keep it.
    Ride for the brand.
    Talk less and say more.
    Remember that some things aren't for sale.
    Know where to draw the line.

  16. One icon you can't neglect when speaking of the cowboy is John Wayne, he epitomized what the American Cowboy was. He stood for honor, honesty, loyalty, bravery, and integrityy.

    My husband, bless his heart used to be jealous of John Wayne, I never could get him to understand that I didn't think he was a hunk, exactly, although he was, it was the way he presented himself. What he stood for, who he was. John Wayne was handsome in his younger days, but he wasn't the most handsome man in the world. John Wayne learned to be a cowboy from Paul Fix, the old guy that played in most of the westerns, and was the sheriff on The Rifleman. Paul taught Wayne that he had to have a certain swagger to his walk. John developed that swagger. He taught him that he had to stand for something, truth, loyalty, what a man should be. John Wayne became that man. What I was in love with was the things John Wayne stood for. The things John Wayne learned to be in his lifetiime.

    Cowboys have always had a code of ethics. My Travers Brothers series echoes that code of honor. The word Cowboy is pure romance if you think about it.

    Let's hope it alway will be.
    Love and blessings
    Rita Hestand

  17. Rita, so true. John Wayne was by far and away the most popular cowboy when I did my Flirting With Cowboys article for a blog tour. Probably half of the over 200 comments mentioned his name.

  18. that would be a big old yes!YES! KNIGHTS ARE COWBOYS!

  19. Great post, Jacquie. The character Cheyenne Bodie comes to my mind when cowboy is mentioned. All the good qualities we want to find in our knights and cowboys.

  20. Gerri, Clint Walker was my first love. I was four years old and absolutely convinced I'd marry him when I grew up.


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