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The Art of Courtly Love

Disclaimer: This is an essay on Courtly love that i wrote for school in the winter of 2016 for my philosophy class. 

Courtly love comes from the troubadours, who’s hearts were often stolen by the ladies of the court. They would sing about their lady loves and the pain that they would cause them from not being close to them. They would dream of their embrace but stay far enough away that they could feel a slow burn anguish of love whenever they were near. These noblemen lived passionate lives for the medieval times, living by a code, lusting over married women and writing songs  in their honor for the love that they made them feel.

Courtly love is more of a longing from a distance. For the troubadours loving their lady from afar and feeling those feelings of intense desire is what makes courtly love so important to them. They were the romantics of the medieval times, writing poems and songs to pronounce their love for the women that they desired. “I marvel how I can endure not to reveal to her my longing. When I see my lady and behold her, her lovely eyes so well become her that I can scarce hold back from running towards her.” (De Ventadour.81)The Troubadours often longed over one woman in their court and wrote songs and poems to her, they would use them to try and capture her attention.

If the troubadours were lucky enough their lady love would notice them back, sometimes they would secretly meet. Many times though the lady that they had their sights set upon was married already. They would refer to the Husband of the lady they adored as “The Jealous one”(Redekopp lecture). Not all troubadours thought it was appropriate to try and court a married lady, but some thought that it was an okay thing to do.

There was a code that many of the troubadours lived by. Many of these codes were written down by the author Andreas Capellanus in his book The Art of Courtly Love. The book captures the do’s and don’ts of courtly love in Capellanus’ opinion along with his ideas of love in each level of the hierarchy. For example his take on love is that it is “Love is a certain inborn suffering derived from the sight of and excessive meditation upon the beauty of the opposite sex, which causes each one to wish above all things the embraces of the other and by common desire to carry out all of love’s precepts in the other’s embrace” (Capellanus.1). His ideals of what love is in the quote shown can be easily agreed with from a modern standpoint for some (although there are those who do love the same sex) the ideas its self of the mediation of your desired one’s beauty can be agreed with. Although this may be agreeable his standpoints on love/ courtly love are defiantly from an aristocrat’s standpoint, as you can see from his lowly thoughts of the love of peasant viewing them as lesser human beings. His books say to in the case of loving a peasant to “not be hesitate  to take what you seek and to embrace her by force” (Capellanus.2).  This is completely frowned upon in today’s society, but back in the days of courtly love, it was a very selfish one sided desire.

In my own opinion of courtly love is that it is very selfish. It is not the kind of love that I would like another person to feel for me. It seems to be all about the troubadour and his feelings and very little about what ever woman he seems to be lusting over. He does not care if she is married, single or even remotely interested in him. She has become the object of his desire, nothing much more than a “well-fleshed Body” (De Blaye.37) for him to feast his eyes upon. A strange thing  about troubadours and their courtly love is that  they adore the idea of love. They love longing after women, writing them poems and songs and doing everything and nothing to get their attention. They feel such intense emotions and  want their lady to know how much they care for them and how they  make them want to be better men but, they don’t care for marriage. And I know that during those times marriage was not something people did for love. It was something people did for form alliances and create strategic bonds. But if  they had married the lady  ( the single ones that is ) that they were swooning after they would have been able to keep her love for as long as they lived. The troubadours in my own opinion seem very dramatic, and over the top. Although I do think that one of the best things about courtly love is that it was during a very religious time and women had been traditionally seen as scandalous temptresses, but the troubadours countered that. They surprisingly also had much nicer views of women, they were seen as angelic and pure beings that made these men want to better themselves.

In conclusion courtly love was an overpowering passion for the troubadours that had for (married) women of the court. Their love followed a code of how they ought to act and behave around the lady of their affections. They were new highly romantic thinkers for the medieval times, and spent their time expressing their love though song, some of which still live on today. These men were in love with the idea of love and passion, Marriage for them was an alliance between two people that would join families, it was not about love. That’s why so many of them were against marriage, because their existence was all about love.

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