Medieval Love Poetry is greatly influenced by courtly love culture

Medieval Love Poetry puts us on very familiar terrain dear reader. My page on this site,poetry courtly love, introduced us to the rules, conventions and poetry of courtly love, which introduced the culture of romantic love to the European middle ages.

Courtly love and its tenets were spread all over Europe within a decade of its emergence by the poetry and songs of the Troubadours, and it created a paradigm shift in the love literature and social mores of Western Europe.

Modern Western ideas about romantic love originates mainly from the culture of the European Middle Ages. One can trace the concepts which dominated Western thinking until recently to the mid-12th Century. Before that time, European literature rarely mentioned love, and women seldom figured prominently. After that time, within a decade or two, all had changed. Passionate love stories replaced epic combat tales and women were exalted to almost god-like status. Simultaneously, the cult of the Virgin Mary (Mariolatry) became much more prominent in Catholic devotions, and emotionalism became rampant in religion.

The pioneers of this shift in sensibility seem to have been the troubadours, the poets of Provence (now Southern France). Provençal is a language related to French, Italian and Spanish, and seems to have facilitated the flow of ideas across the often ill-defined borders of 12th-Century Europe.

Once the basic themes were laid down by the troubadours, they were subsequently imitated by the French trouvères, the German Minnesingers (love poets) and others. Thus, even though the disastrous 13th-Century Albigensian crusade put an end of the golden age of the troubadours, many of their ideas and themes persisted in European literature for centuries afterward.

Medieval Love Poetry owes its origins to the advent of courtly love culture, and we shall examine this phenomena shortly, but my focus on this page is how courtly love principles informed Medieval Love Poetry generally thereafter.

I have great examples of medieval love poetry for you from the songs or chansons of Guirault de Bornelh ("Attal Chansonet Plana" (Such a Simple Little Song), the 14th century troubadour Guillame de Machaut ("Foy porter" ( I want to stay faithful ) and the troubaritz (female troubadour)La Comtesse de Dia ("I must Sing of That")

We shall see how the early romantic narrative epics based on courtly love, like Lancelot and Guinevere, Tristan and Iseult, Troilus and Chriseyde were used as the template for much of the love poetry of medieval poets like Chaucer, Chretien de Troyes, William of Lorris and John of Meun, Boccaccio and others in their medieval love poetry. ("The Knight's Tale", " Lancelot of the Cart" "The Romance of the Rose" and "The Filostrato.")

Medieval Love poetry was also dominated by the greatest Italian poets. Dante, Petrarch and Boccaccio were the main ones. They were actually the progenitors of the renaissance period that followed on the middle ages and are also known as the humanist poets.

Their love poetry was greatly influenced by troubadour and courtly love poetry, and we will explore their examples of great medieval love poetry such as "La Vita Nuova" (The New Life) "Rime Sparse" (Scattered Rhymes) and "The Filostrato."

To set the tone for all these, let us take a look at how courtly love culture revolutionised medieval love poetry when it exploded on 12th century Europe:

Examples 1

de Machaut 1

Dante 1

Petrarch 1

If you like Medieval Love Poetry and would like to receive more information directly in your inbox, subscribe to my Love Poetry of The World newsletter

Return from Medieval Love Poetry to Love Poetry of The World