Term Paper: Courtly Love Your Purchase

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[. . .] It was important for them to love without expecting anything in return. This intense devotion was basically devoid of any expectations of rewards and males were supposed to love without concern for consequences. "Well may that love prosper through which one hopes to have the joy of successful love and serving loyally!" Gace Brule declared. "But I expect nothing from mine except death, since I ask for love in such a lofty place. And so I see nothing in it but my own end, if my lady does not take pity on me or if Devotion and Love do not ask it from her. . . . In Love there is such great nobility, that it has the power to make the poor rich; so I look for its mercy and help. . . . Loyal love (of which I have a great abundance) will kill me." (O'Donoughue, 181-185) Devotion to a woman was to be shown without any selfish regard for rewards as Heinrich von Morungen informed: "Great is his misery, whoever puts heartfelt love in such a high place that his service is entirely unpleasing." (O'Donoughue, 225)

Medieval literature is simply plagued with examples of courtly love:

"Damsel, come forth! For I will make boast to defend it if anyone is so bold as to intervene. For no woman excels you in beauty or worth, in grace or honour any more than the moon outshines the sun." (Troyes, "Eric et Enide," p. 11.)

Larry Benson in his paper "Courtly Love and Chivalry in the Later Middle Ages" examines the true nature of courtly love and its presence in medieval literature. The author argues that courtly love was not just expression of romantic feelings but was used as the primary mode of interaction with the opposite sex. Women were revered and thus they were to be addressed in a particular manner and style. The language was almost always plagued with hints of devotion and obsession due to women's exalted status. The author first informs the readers that while courtly love was indeed alive in culture and literature of middle ages, it was not concerned with adulterous behavior as many modern readers assume. Benson asserts that, "Insofar as "courtly love" is used as a label for a code of courtly adultery, the whole idea is indeed a critical myth that never had much real existence in life or literature." (Benson, 239)

Courtly love was thus chivalrous in nature. It was noble, lofty and simply admirable in its sincerity and purity. Benson explains that "this sort of love is admirable - that love is not only virtuous in itself but is the source and cause of all other virtues, that indeed one cannot be virtuous unless he is a lover ... The idea that love was the source of chivalric virtue becomes a commonplace not only in courtly romances and lyrics but even in the "nonfiction" of the time - in handbooks of conduct ..." (Benson, 240)

Benson also adds that courtly love was the tradition that gave birth to courtly language. Decency in language was observed since women had suddenly attained a higher status than men and they were to be venerated and won with language that was not vulgar or indecent in any sense.

... It is not often recognized that so far as out culture is concerned, this is the period [the late middle ages] in which the distinction between polite speech and vulgar, shocking words was first established. (Benson, 242)

Medieval European literature has more than its fair share of example of courtly love from Aeneas and Dido, Troilus and Criseyde to Dante and Beatrice, Petrarch and Laura. We find countless ways in which medieval literature spoke of courtly love and sang praises of the Lady. In this period, it was the male figure that was important for he was the one showing love and devotion while woman remained a passive, usually disinterested object of affection.

Important works in connection with courtly love emerged between 11th and 13th centuries. All Arthurian legends had elements of courtly love embedded in them. Chretein's name would always remain synonymous with Arthurian legends. His works include Erec and Enide (1170), Cliges (1176), Yvain and Lancelot etc. Yvain and Lancelot plays an important role in popularizing the courtly love tradition in literature since it creates the essential love triangle that marked most courtly love legends. In this poem, there is Arthur, married to Guinevere, and Lancelot, acting as his wife's lover. His love for Guinevere is intense and enduring. It withstands the test of time and undergoes suffering yet remains steadfast in its devotion.

Dante turned courtly love into a profound literary force when he expressed his real feelings for a woman in his autobiographical poetry La Vita Nuova. The poet actually suffered from deep feelings of obsession and intense sickness when he met one woman. It may… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Courtly Love Your Purchase.  (2005, May 28).  Retrieved July 22, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/courtly-love-purchase/193316

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"Courtly Love Your Purchase."  28 May 2005.  Web.  22 July 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/courtly-love-purchase/193316>.

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"Courtly Love Your Purchase."  Essaytown.com.  May 28, 2005.  Accessed July 22, 2019.