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.
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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: