Sunday, February 14, 2010

Courtly Love – Love in the Middle Ages

When we think of marriage, we first think of love. Two sides of the same coin.

But this was not the same way of thinking back in the Middle Ages.

Women had no choice in who they married. Oftentimes, they married a total stranger, a man they had never met before they walked down the aisle.

The idea of arranged marriages is foreign to some of us today, even though it is still common practice in some parts of the world today.

I already mentioned that women had no choice; however (typical male-dominated society), there were some cases in which the man could decide his bride.

Sometimes, love found the couple after they were married as backward as that sounds to us. Many times, even if they did not grow to love each other, lasting friendships bloomed.

Marriage was done at a young age – the girls as young as 12, the boys 17 – and for financial, practical, or dynastic reasons.

The feudal relationship between a knight and his liege lord was the model for courtly love as well as the code of chivalry. The knight swears the same obedience and loyalty to his courtly lady that he would his liege lord. This ideal is taken from bards’ songs and hardly ever practiced. After all, most knights would not be submissive to their lady! However, his love for her was a source for inspiration, for courage, and power, to do great deeds, in order to win her favor, to be good enough for her.

Oftentimes, the knight fell in love with a married lady. Remember, most marriages were not born out of love. Courtly love was a means for the knights to show their affection despite the marital state of the lady. The most famous instance of this occurrence is Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere.

Now for some of the more defined rules of courtly love.

The Twelve Chief Rules in Love

From The Art of Courtly Love by Andreas Capellanus, a 12th century Frenchman

1. Thou shalt avoid avarice like the deadly pestilence and shalt embrace its opposite.
2. Thou shalt keep thyself chaste for the sake of her whom thou lovest.
3. Thou shalt not knowingly strive to break up a correct love affair that someone else is engaged in.
4. Thou shalt not chose for thy love anyone whom a natural sense of shame forbids thee to marry.
5. Be mindful completely to avoid falsehood.
6. Thou shalt not have many who know of thy love affair.
7. Being obedient in all things to the commands of ladies, thou shalt ever strive to ally thyself to the service of Love.
8. In giving and receiving love's solaces let modesty be ever present.
9. Thou shalt speak no evil.
10. Thou shalt not be a revealer of love affairs.
11. Thou shalt be in all things polite and courteous.
12. In practising the solaces of love thou shalt not exceed the desires of thy lover.

The Art of Courtly Love

Also from The Art of Courtly Love by Andreas Capellanus

1. Marriage is no real excuse for not loving.
2. He who is not jealous cannot love.
3. No one can be bound by a double love.
4. It is well known that love is always increasing or decreasing.
5. That which a lover takes against the will of his beloved has no relish.
6. Boys do not love until they reach the age of maturity.
7. When one lover dies, a widowhood of two years is required of the survivor.
8. No one should be deprived of love without the very best of reasons.
9. No one can love unless he is propelled by the persuasion of love.
10. Love is always a stranger in the home of avarice.
11. It is not proper to love any woman whom one would be ashamed to seek to marry.
12. A true lover does not desire to embrace in love anyone except his beloved.
13. When made public love rarely endures.
14. The easy attainment of love makes it of little value: difficulty of attainment makes it prized.
15. Every lover regularly turns pale in the presence of his beloved.
16. When a lover suddenly catches sight of his beloved his heart palpitates.
17. A new love puts an old one to flight.
18. Good character alone makes any man worthy of love.
19. If love diminishes, it quickly fails and rarely revives.
20. A man in love is always apprehensive.
21. Real jealousy always increases the feeling of love.
22. Jealousy increases when one suspects his beloved.
23. He whom the thought of love vexes eats and sleeps very little.
24. Every act of a lover ends in the thought of his beloved.
25. A true lover considers nothing good except what he thinks will please his beloved.
26. Love can deny nothing to love.
27. A lover can never have enough of the solaces of his beloved.
28. A slight presumption causes a lover to suspect his beloved.
29. A man who is vexed by too much passion usually does not love.
30. A true lover is constantly and without intermission possessed by the thought of his beloved.
31. Nothing forbids one woman being loved by two men or one man by two women.

Now for some prizes. First, my individual prize: an ARC of Knight of Glory. All you have to do is comment here on this blog. For an extra entry, hop on over to my website, http://www.NicoleZoltack.com and sign up for the newsletter.

Because this blog post is in conjunction with Classic Romance Revival blog carnival, there is a grand prize - a 5-ARC package from Classic Romance Revival authors – which will be drawn from visitors commenting on the most blogs. To qualify for the grand prize, you need to register for the contest. Please visit the Classic Romance Revival blog to find details of all the blogs and to register:

http://www.classicromancerevival.com/blog/?p=1671

Good luck!

18 comments:

Aubrie said...

Your post made me think about the movie "Ever After"! Have you seen it? There's one scene where the prince is walking down the asile with his future bride and its an arranged marriage, and she's wailing and sniffing all the way down. It's very funny.

Andrea said...

Hope you have a wonderfully blessed day.
Andrea

StephB said...

Nicole, I love historical stuff like this, thanks so much for blogging about it. You do bring up a good point about the arranged marriages and I can't help but think of how Edward IV DARED to defy that and marry a woman he fell in love with. (Elizabeth Woodville) It's a very romantic story for the times.

Again, I am enjoying Book 1 of your Arnhem series and while I haven't gotten far, I really like what I've read. (Aislinn is still a page and has just turned 8)

History Rocks
Steph

LuAnn said...

Aren't you glad to be living today, rather than back when your life was predicted for you?

booklover0226 said...

I liked #16!

Thanks,
Tracey D

Meandi's corner said...

man I'm glad I didn't live back then whew I feel like I dodged a bullet on that thought

-----jennifer

Jo Ann said...

i'm not sure I could have lived during those times! I just can'r imagine an arranged marriage

Nicole Zoltack said...

Thanks, everyone, for the wonderful comments.

I love the movie, Ever After, Aubrie! That scene is a perfect example of an arranged marriage not based on love.

You too, Andrea!

Steph, that was definitely against the norm. And I'm so glad to hear that you're enjoying Woman of Honor so far!

#16 really is a great one, isn't it, Tracey?

As much as I romanticize the time period, I don't think I could live back then either, Jennifer and Jo Ann. I can't imagine being forced into marriage. I love my husband and can't imagine not being with him.

LK Hunsaker said...

Interesting post, Nicole! Funny how they emphasized keeping love secret. I think we'd do well to follow that just a bit better in current times. ;-)

Cherry said...

Can't live in the middle ages. Won't survive.

Re-posted your contest at: http://contests-freebies.blogspot.com/2010/02/nicole-zoltack-courtly-love-at-classic.html

Cherry Mischievous
www.cherrymischievous.com
mischivusfairy-warrior [at] yahoo [dot] com

Lexie said...

lol Courtly Love doesn't sound all that rewarding--I mean adultery (on the wife's part at least) was considered a high sin, i can't imagine that a husband seeking to get a new wife wouldn't use her 'courtly love' as an excuse to claim adultery and have her (and the Knight) killed.

Then again, I'm a big believer in loving the one you're with.

Lexie

EVA SB said...

Love and Chivalry from the Middle Ages sounds so romantic just as long as I am reading about it from the comfort of the 21st century.
All that discretion and courtesy sounds fantastic but arranged marriages Yuk!

We have a couple of friends with arranged marriages but both girl and boy did have the option to say 'No!'

susan said...

I am so glad we have a chance to decide who we want to marry. If it fails we can't blame some one else. ha Hope to be entered in the contest and I am requesting your newsletter soon as I leave here. susan Leech

SJR said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SJR said...

Hi Nicole,
I never did get that “chaste love” idea ~ seems to leave out some good parts! LOL. However, I wouldn’t mind having a little more chivalry and well, romance, in modern times.
As far as the ‘Rules’ go ~ No to 2, 7, 13, 15, 19, 21, 22, 25 + 30; Don’t Know to 3, 4, 6, 9, 14, 23, 26 + 28; Yes to 1, 8, 11, 12, 16, 17, 18, 24, 27 + 31. A Big Yes to 5, 10 + 20. The Chief 12 Rules are cool for the most part.
You might be interested in Elaine Cantrell’s blog, “Hope.Dreams.Life...Love” [http://www.elainepcantrell.blogspot.com/]. She’s been blogging about Medieval Marriages.
I'm heading over to your site. Thanks!
Sara J. ~ : - ], sjr1groups@yahoo.com

SJR said...

Hi Nicole,
I never did get that “chaste love” idea ~ seems to leave out some good parts! LOL. However, I wouldn’t mind having a little more chivalry and well, romance, in modern times.
As far as the ‘Rules’ go ~ No to 2, 7, 13, 15, 19, 21, 22, 25 + 30; Don’t Know to 3, 4, 6, 9, 14, 23, 26 + 28; Yes to 1, 8, 11, 12, 16, 17, 18, 24, 27 + 31. A Big Yes to 5, 10 + 20. The Chief 12 Rules are cool for the most part.
You might be interested in Elaine Cantrell’s blog, “Hope.Dreams.Life...Love” [http://www.elainepcantrell.blogspot.com/]. She’s been blogging about Medieval Marriages.
I'm heading over to your site. Thanks!
Sara J. ~ : - ], sjr1groups@yahoo.com

PhyllisC said...

Historical romances are my favorite so I found all these "rules" interesting to read. Thanks for the information. I don't think that I would have liked to be part of an arranged marriage.

Elaine Cantrell said...

Hi, Nicole,

I've done a whole series of posts on love and marriage in the middle ages. I'd love for you to check it out at http://www.elainepcantrell.blogspot.com