Courtly Love

This week, Dr. Comber divided our class into five groups. My group’s subject was about courtly love. I especially found this topic interesting because of two factors. One being that it had quite a bit to do with my specialty area, which is the progression of music from the Anglo-Saxon period to the High Middle Ages. The other being that I think it’s interesting to think about how much the concept of love, and how one can love, has changed so much from the Middle Ages to today’s society. 

First, I’d like to talk about how courtly love is related to my specialty area. A major part of courtly love involved the role that troubadours played. They were generally rich young men, who were originally travelling musicians. They originated from Provence, France. The early Troubadours travelled from one village to the next and many also travelled abroad. The troubadours would play for royalty nobles. Their songs provide some insight into the lives and courts of the noblemen. The courtly duties of these poet-musicians were both literary and musical as they wrote music to portray the issues, feelings and characteristics in the castles and courts of the wealthy. The themes of the songs that they sung also dealt with chivalry and stories of far away lands. Courtly love was publicized in the poems, ballads, writings and literary works of various authors of the Middle Ages and sung by Troubadours. They sang ballads about courtly love and were expected to memorize the words of long poems that described the valor and the code of chivalry that the Medieval knights followed. The Troubadours sang about the Dark Age myths of Arthurian Legends featuring King Arthur, Camelot and the Knights of the Round Table. The Troubadours of the Middle Ages therefore strengthened the idea of a Knights Code of Chivalry and Courtly Love. There were several different forms of poetry that the troubadours followed including the ballade, the virelai, and the rondeau. They all had very different structures.  

The other thing I found interesting was how people would view courtly love today. Courtly love allowed a woman or man to love another who was not his or her wife or husband, as long as he or she followed a strict set of rules. (A lot of rules.) Marriage during the Medieval times was very material based and was always arranged. It rarely had anything to do with love and passion. Through courtly love, one could find a love outside their marriage. This, today would be extremely looked down on. Marriage today is based on a shared love between two people. Looking for a relationship outside of your marriage, while still married, is considered a very terrible act to do. Because courtly love had so many rules, It seems to me that they would have defined everything the relationship could be. In today’s society, there are so many different types of love. People create their own love by their own interests and characteristics.

However, I feel that some of the rules that are included in courtly love are still applicable in today. For example, “Thought of the beloved never leaves the true lover,” and “The sight of one’s beloved causes palpations of the heart,” could be described by many couples. So even though I disagree with the main concept of courtly love and most of its rules, I can still see a some aspects of it that are still here today.

Learning about courtly love was really beneficial to me because it gave me a deeper understanding about my specialty area, taught me about how people during the Middle Ages viewed love, and gave me more contextual information about Canterbury Tales. It was a very interesting week for me, and I’m looking forward to discussing and learning more about “The Canterbury Tales,” next week. 


Work cited

Delahoyde, Michael. “Courtly Love.” Washington State University, Washington State University. 1 May 2013. Web. 19 Sept. 2013.

Alchin, L. K. “Medieval Courtly Love.” Medieval Life and Times. n.p. 16 Jan. 2011. Web. 19 Sept. 2013.



One comment

  1. I thought this was really good. Before your group spoke about Courtly love, I had no idea that it had a strict set of rules. In those days you could almost consider Marriage polyamorous . Multiple lovers in todays standards, naturally sounds dishonest and looked down upon but during this time it wasn’t. Nowadays in Marriage you can think of it as a monogamous relationship. I find it interesting the progression of this topic throughout time.

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