For hundreds of years people in England and all over the world have been fascinated with courtly love. Many of the world´s most famous English poets used this Petrarchan concept and wrote poems, songs and sonnets about this Petrarchan concept. Although writers rarely use the concept of courtly love these days, we can say that it had a great influence on poetry (cf. O´Donoghue 1) and particularly on English poets and their masterpieces. But how can we really prove that? This work will help us to understand the characteristics of courtly love and to prove to what extend this concept influenced English poetry. In the first part (2.) I will give a short description of the concept of courtly love. After that I will reconstruct the development of the most used medium for this, the sonnet (3.). A final analysis (4.) and comparison of two sonnets (5.) will prove my thesis that the concept of courtly love was indeed reflected in English poetry generations beyond its courtly era.
2. The Concept of ‘Courtly Love‘
Courtly love has always been a frequently used theme in poetry. It came into being between the 11th, 12th century at the courts of the nobility. It originated with the Troubadours, in Provence/France, “but soon spread into the neighboring countries […]” (Capellanus 3), and became an effective and important tradition, lasting over 500 years (cf. Hühn 24). A key figure concerning the spread of courtly love convention was the Italian scholar and poet Francesco Petrarcha (1304-1374). He wrote the famous Canzoniere with about 300 Italian sonnets using the convention, mostly addressed to a idealized women called Laura, whom loved with, but who did not respond to his love (cf. Roche 1). The name courtly love describes a love convention, where a man courts a woman, who is in a higher social position . This love always remains unfulfilled and because of this unfulfilled relationship, the lover is in an inner conflict. On the one hand he feels love...
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