Courtly Love

Topics: Middle Ages, Courtly love, Eleanor of Aquitaine Pages: 3 (984 words) Published: February 9, 2007
The idea of courtly love, as we understand it, began during the Romantic revival of the nineteenth century, when there was "a period of general mythologizing about the Middle Ages" (Jordan 134). According to the Romantics, courtly love describes an ideal of adulterous love between medieval aristocratic men and women, and relationships of this nature being more genuine than the common arranged marriage. Scholars believed this idea of love was characteristic of aristocratic culture in the Middle Ages because a great many texts of the period expressed a longing for fin'amors. Fin'amors, according to William Chester Jordan, is "the closest medieval term to courtly love" and "means something like ‘unblemished love' – love which, because it cannot or should not be fulfilled, achieves a certain purity and poignancy" (Jordan 134).

The doctrine of courtly love was designed to teach courtiers how to be lovely, charming and delightful. Its basic premise was that being in love would teach you how to be loveable and pleasing; so love taught courtesy. This kind of love is a social phenomenon, designed for communal living at a wealthy court where people had plentiful leisure and desired to entertain and be entertained delightfully. When properly applied, courtly love refers to "an extravagantly artificial and stylized relationship – a forbidden affair that was characterized by five main attributes" () being: vAdulterous,

vRitualistic, and
Courtly love began in the late eleventh century with William IX of Aquitaine. William was a well-known troubadour in southern France, and his influence on granddaughter Eleanor (and in turn, her influence on her daughter, Marie) led to the Courts of Love. The Courts of Love were presided over by Marie de Champagne and Eleanor D'Aquitaine. With many scholars and theologians present, the Courts of Love gave women a new standing and brought a note of elegance into the stark medieval picture....

Bibliography: Lewis, C. S. The Allegory of Love: A Study In Medieval Tradition. London: Oxford University Press, 1936.
Jordan, William Chester. Europe In the High Middle Ages. New York: Penguin Group, 2003.
Schwartz, Debora B. "Backgrounds to Romance" March 2001. 7 Oct. 2004 .
Simpson, David L. "Chivalry and Courtly Love" 1998. 7 Oct. 2004
Thompson, Diane "Courtly Love" 6 Jan. 2003. 7 Oct. 2004
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