Robert of Blois, a thirteenth-century poet, wrote of the correct behavior for women “of the gentle class”.
En route to church or elsewhere, a lady must walk straight and not trot or run, or idle either. She must salute even the poor.
She must let no one touch her on the breast except her husband. For that reason, she must not let anyone put a pin or a brooch on her bosom.
No one should kiss her on the mouth except her husband. If she disobeys this injunction, neither loyalty, faith nor noble birth will avert the consequences.
Women are criticized for the way they look at people, like a sparrowhawk ready to pounce on a swallow. Take care: glances are messengers of love; men are prompt to deceive themselves by them…
A lady does not accept gifts. For gifts which are given you in secret cost dear; one buys them with ones honor. There are, however, honest gifts which it is proper to thank people for.
Above all, a lady does not scold. Anger and high words are enough to distinguish a low woman from a lady. The man who injures you shames himself and not you; if it is a woman who scolds you, you will break her heart by refusing to answer her.
Women must not swear, drink too much or eat too much…
Ladies with pale complexions should dine early. Good wine colors the face. If your breath is bad, hold it in church when you receive the blessing…
Cut your fingernails frequently, down to the quick, for cleanliness’ sake. Cleanliness is better than beauty.