The reality
Of courtly
The term "Courtly Love":
Negative Feedback (skepticism)
The Term "Courtly Love":
Positive Feedback (optimism)
PP. 7-15
"The study of love in the Middle ages,
would be far easier if it were not impeded by a
term which now inevitably confused the Issue"
(pg 7).

J.J Willhem proposed replacing the term "Courtly Love Poetry"
with "Christian Secular Poetry" (pg7)
"Equally groundbreaking was the confidence in the love-poets and their work reflected in the simultaneous development of a criticism and contextualization of the poetry in the rationalizing razos and vidas of the troubadours and their counterparts to the European language" (pg11)
"Before arguing for an explicit recuperation of courtly love as
an essential concept, we should note that this condemnation of it as an impediment is peculiar to the English critical tradition." (pg 8)

"Tatlock twice uses the phrase “medieval romantic love,” clearly believing that there was in the Middle Ages as in other ages a “normal” kind of love, which was not to be confused with the “silly outgrowth” of courtly love" (pg 8)

“the whole matter of love” in the Middle Ages (to borrow Guillaume de Lorris’s term) 10 is a hugely complex and confused issue, in religious, social, and erotic terms." (pp. 8-9)

"What I [Cooney] want to argue here then is that, far from being an impediment to understanding medieval texts, familiarity with the terms and assumptions of courtly love is often a corrective prerequisite to understanding medieval love texts at all, including those in Middle English literature." (pg 9)
PP. 16-22
"The remaining question is, why has courtly love been so unpopular in the recent English tradition? Why has there been an impatient scepticism about the very existence and nature of courtly love, ever since Cross and Nitze voiced it in— of all things— their study of Lancelot and Guinevere in 1930? 42 The scepticism culminates side by side with one of the great insights into Middle English literature, Burrow’s Ricardian Poetry" (pg 21).
“passion and society.” For example, when John Donne’s love-poems draw on “the religion of love,” as they commonly do, he is clearly writing within that world in which Lewis made this idea one of his four definitive features of courtly love." (pg. 16)
Focus: Medieval courtly love writings, far from being an impediment to the understanding of medieval literature, are indispensable for the understanding of Middle English love poetry, as well as to the interpretation of large parts of the later English poetic tradition from Wyatt and Donne to Housman and Yeats. Without some knowledge of that system, we miss an important part of what those poets believed themselves to be writing. Active discussion of the concepts and terminology of courtly love survives strongly in French criticism, especially in the hugely influential school of psychoanalytic interpretation founded by Jacques Lacan.

Implication: To maintain an understanding of medieval courtly love literature, one must be mindful on the times it was written in, The term "courtly love's" negative feedback my be a result of the author's misinterpreation of the times the writing. The survival of the troubadours' writing can be credited to interpreter's understanding of the traditions of mideival literature.

O'Donoghue, Bernard."The Reality of Courtly Love".Writing on Love in the English Middle Age. Jack Tarver Library. Ed. Helen Cooney. Palgrave Macmillan, Sept. 2006. Web. 20 Apr. 2011.Chapter One 8-22. <>.

The Meaning Of Courtly Love

By:Herbert Moller

Focus: While is had nothing to do with marriage , it greatly influenced the standard behavior of the upper classes, especially their conduct in the presence of ladies. "Women of his time were recognized as judges of behavior...[there was a] compulsive fusion in the men's mind of socially elevated and "high minded" ladies with a mother image of infantile origins" (49). She has all the aspects of a maternal figure, The child's fear of loss of love, if he does not com;y with maternal demands, has become the adult's anxiety over rejection by the lady who is the guardian of the cultural demands of noble society" (46). She was seen as sovereign, and God could be seen as a "source of temptation, and to the lady of repository of morality" (48)"Purification mean to cleanse, or get rid of objectionable elements, that would keep the Lovers from becoming one of the courtly people.

The Meaning of Courtly Love
Aspects of Courtly love

"While it had originally nothing to do with married life or its customarypreliminaries, it greatly influenced the standard behavior of the upper classes..."(39).
"Troubadours strained themselves to produce what their audience
wanted to hear.."(39)

"Joy" in the assuriance of personal exellence, individuality, by being singled out and favored over others, and socially, by being accepted as a member of a superior social class. It was demanded by courtly society" (47).

Denomy suggested that "joy" was to courtly love, as "grace" is to Christianity. "Joy and pride, virtues in the court system, in their thought, there is no feeling of sin or a need for salvation. This is the opposite of Christianity. Grace comes from a supernatural gift, outside of man (God).

" I do not knowingly want to do anything that could provoke her to anger, even if God would make me a king (in return for it)," a statement which refers to God the Father as the soure of possible temptation, and to the lady as the repository [storehouse] of morality" (48). (Benard de Ventadour's unorthodox aspect)

Apart from literary and musical creativity, the most conspicuous changes in overt behavior occurred in the area of etiquette [and cleanliness, which became a mark of distinction]" (48)

the commandment: be cheerful and pleasant[appealing], and you will be accepted (49)
"The central aspect of these lyrics is the poet's preocccupation with the amorous cult of a lady who is venerated as the soveriegn of all his thoughts, feelings,
and actions"(40).

According to Denomy, true love was not platonic, it was carnal in its despite the fact that it remained ideally unfulfilled. Thoughts of kissing, caressing, laying beside the beloved's nude body seems to cease in the lover's thoughts.

Classical form has two obvious paradoxical aspects: "First, the female love object is the wife of another man; and yet this relationship is celebrated as the source of a higher morality, not withstanding the prevailing religious and social sanctions of monogamy. Second, the loveer is represented as overwhelmed by an intense yearning should never allayed (alleviated) by possession in reality" (40)

There is a role reversal of normal roles. The lover takes on a childlike or feminine attitude-"which has occasioned some of the tenderest poems of European Literature", while the beloved takes on a motherly or "infantile origin".

Anxiety of not receiving any love could lead in feeling states of sleepiness, loss of appetite, and general bewilderment, paleness, trembling, illness, mental derangement, and death. These statements were hyperbolic.

The characteristic of the woman was that of a mother, and at the same time, cold in heart,"cruel in her ungiving passivity; her very greatness contains a terrifying element, because her displeasure must lead to helpless despair"(45).

the commandment: suppress coarseness and tolerate frustration (49)

Implication: The troubadours or lovers quest seemed to be pertained to social achievement. The beloved of choice was picked based off the social achievement that she could provide for the Lover more that, if even at all, her beauty. The devotion that the lover gives to his beloved, resembles that of one a Christian would give to God. The devotion and fervency was the same, but the motive was quite different. In the court system, purification came through images, etiquette, and social status-being accepted. It was based of the man's ability. Some of the emotional states resemble those of Christian on a fast. Even though aspects of courtly love ( fin amour, amour Purus) shared commonalities with Christianity, it's goal were toward things that were more sensual and carnal.
Final paper.docx
“Romantic Expressions” or ideas of love did not begin in the 19th century. Scholars have provided endless amounts of literature and other evidences that prove that ideas of love where present during the middle ages, a time where Christianity was the leading force. Courtly love’s literature and life style was influenced by Roman Catholic Church. Courtly love’s sensuality, passion, and social aspirations made it carnal, and its religion was seen as a parody of the Church.
The term “Courtly love” came from Gaston Parris’ 1883 journal Romania. The term “courtly love” was referred to as “amour courtois”, "Amour Honestus" (Honest Love) and "Fin Amor" (Refined Love). Some scholars have theorized that courtly love was first expressed in Southern France during the end of the eleventh century by French troubadours. Denomy theorized that”… the troubadours took their morality of love from the Arabs and were able to maintain it alongside the norms of Christian morality.” (Denomy, 45) The troubadours created styles of poetry that celebrated human love, mainly the love of the poet (always a man) for an older, sociably established, and extraordinary lady.
“Carnal–adjective1.pertaining to or characterized by the flesh or the body, its passions and appetites; sensual: carnal pleasures.2.not spiritual; merely human; temporal; worldly: a man of secular, rather carnal, leanings.”(Dictionary, 2011)
Before this time, expressions of love did not occur outside of the church. The church put much emphasis on the agape love, the love of all human, and platonic love, which is brotherly or sisterly love. Courtly love, according to Alexander Denomy, “…was not Platonic but carnal in its intent despite the fact that it remained ideally unfulfilled” (Moller, 40). Courtly love was full of passion, which was forbidden by the Church. The literature of the Church was anti-feminist, while the Courtly Love’s Literature was devoted to the glorification of women. “In religion, the sinner is penitent and asks that Mary intercede on his behalf with Christ, who is Love. In courtly love, the sinner (against the laws of love) asks the mother of the love god, Cupid's mother Venus, to intercede on his behalf with Cupid or Eros, who is the god of love. So this new love religion seems to parody real religion” (Delahoyde, Courtly Love).
For years scholars have argued the intent of Courtly Love or Fin Amor. Some argue that courtly love is nothing more but spiritual connection, with use of sensual metaphor. While some scholars believe that some relationships exceeded past the boundaries, there is little evidence to prove consummation was a common act. While participation in sex is questionable, the fact that lustful acts were fantasized about is evident it the writing of the troubadours. “Merely to see her is enough for some of them; other will be contented with a tuft of fur from her mantle or a few threads from her glove. Others, it is true, speak of undressing their lady, of gazing at her naked body, of caressing it, or clasping it to them, but scarcely ever do they suggest complete possession. Says one: "He knows nothing of 'donnoi' who wants fully to possess his lady” (Fauriel, 1849).
Not only were lustful thoughts evident, some troubadours seem to have a mother fixation on their beloved. Making child like references were common in works Betran de Born who compares his love relationship with a cradle, like Heinrich von Veldeke who,”...fears his beloved like a child who fears his punishing mother: “ I am afraid of the good one as a child of the birch”(Moller, 43). It also a good idea to mention that several poets also connected their relationships to recollections of spanking. Some scholars have argued that the mother fixation of the troubadour supported the nonsexual intentions of the troubadours, out of fear of incest. Others argued the fixation has no effect on their sinful desires, which keeps fin amour as Denomy states-carnal. The troubadours’ devotion and obsession to females and motherly figures, literally, is similar to devotion Christians have to Jesus, who was referred to, figuratively, as the “mother”. Did the troubadours replace the motherly image of Jesus with real women? Was this another great reason for the Church to oppose the ideas of court
Herbert Muller also argued that courtly love was not just about love. The troubadours understood that their adored females had the power to take them to their desired social status. They understood that the incentive for their devotion was entrance into “courtly circles” or social elevation. (Moller, 47) Muller mentions that feelings of “joy” were associated with the confidence of being accepted by their beloved and being accepted into a superior social class.” Joy as an expression of the ideal feeling state of the courtly person, “high mindedness”…active, self-assertive, and invigorated by the feeling of pride befitting a member of noble or knightly society” (Moller, 47) Again we see Christian words associated with secular meaning. The word “joy” that is often associated with the spiritual and supernatural things is seen here expressed carnally. Joy came from achieving high accolades, being well groomed, being courteous, having great manners-being a gentle. This was their idea of purification. Through the process of courtly love, their school of learning where their beloved was the teacher, they were able to get rid of the things that did not fit into the mold of noble men. All these concepts are against the beliefs of the Church.
There were some common influences that seemed to unite the troubadours with the Cathars. They both coexisted in the same Occitan Regions for two centuries and lived in the same societies. They both had similar beliefs about marriage and seen women as superior beings. Both groups were matrists. “Their heresy which the Church was fighting was matrism=the only thing which offers an absolutely fundamental threat to pratism.” (Muller, 13) According to Muller, the Cathar’s and troubadour’s involvement with death, worship of chastity, were not normal to the Church. The growth of matrism within the patrist culture contributed to Cathar’s and Troubadours “borrowings from Christianity. To gain back control over a wide spreading “heresy”, the Church got on defense and began a war against heresy. (Muller, 14). Courtly love became its on religion. Its ideology was a parody to the Catholic Church. In the 13th century, the Albigensian Crusade wiped out Troubadours and Cathars.
There is no doubt that the Troubadours ideas of courtly love had a major influence of Southern France and other regions in the medieval times. From the later 11th century to the 13th century, courtly love evolved from mystic and spiritual aspect to a sensual and social-political aspect. It’s influences from, and its influences on the Church has been evident it several writings. It influence along with those of the Cathars became so popular that a crusade was needed to stop effects of courtly love.

Work Cited:
Carnal | Define Carnal at" | Free Online Dictionary for English Definitions. Web. 30 Apr. 2011. <>.
"Carnal | Define Carnal at" | Free Online Dictionary for English Definitions. Web. 30 Apr. 2011. <>
Delahoyde, Michael. "Courtly Love." Washington State University - Pullman, Washington.
Fauriel, C. Histoire de la Poesie provencale. Paris, 1846.
Moller, Herbert. "The Meaning of Courtly Love." American Folklore (1960): 39-52. Print.
Washington State University. Web. 26 Apr. 2011.