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Valentine's Day-Courtly Love-Idealized Romances

Updated on March 5, 2014

Courtly Love Comes in a Basket

Subtitle is Original Name of the  Artwork
Subtitle is Original Name of the Artwork | Source

Courtly Love Medieval Origin

Initially, Saint Valentine's Day was conjoined with romantic love when courtly love was in vogue. It originated during the 11th century appearing in the royal courts in Aquitaine and Provence.

These were idealized romances that involved chivalrous acts and attitudes. The usual royal marriages were not contracted for love, but for political alliances and other practical purposes. It was in this milieu that courtly love arose.

Amour Courtois

Amour Courtois is French for courtly love. It was a spiritual and erotic romance. The knight chose a lady, if married not his wife, to glorify.

Its code specified the comportment of the ladies and their lovers. He lived to help his lady. The knight made promises to be fervid, secretive, and gracious. Being unfaithful was the worst fault the lover could exhibit.

If he gave her a ring, she wore it on her little finger of her left hand, turning it to hid the stone inside her palm.

The lady usually acted indifferent to protect her reputation. She couldn't afford to boast of the relationship, while the knight could. Married women in particular, had to be careful. If a wife was caught in adultery, the husband was considered a cockold, which was a man scorned. The wife could be thrown out, and or disgraced by the husband.

Her husband could have her lover executed, or castrated. Her father could be banished and his land taken.

Courtly Love Explained

Courtly Love Poetry

The English poet Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400) and Francesco Petrarch (1304-1374) an Italian poet influenced this trend by writing courtly love poetry. Chaucer's poem Parliament of Fowles composed with rhyme royal stanza applauded the engagement of King Richard the II to Anne of Bohemia. He suggested Saint Valentine's Day was a unique day for sweethearts; it seems Nature assembled the birds to pick their mates. This is the initial known coupling of courtly love with Valentine's Day.

Petrarch's sonnets put Laura on a pedestal using the conventions of courtly love poetry. His group of poems Rime Sparse are mostly concerned with courtly love.

John Donne in his poem Epithalamion wrote praising concerning the marriage of James the First's daughter to Frederick the Fifth. They were married on Valentine's Day. French poets wrote in the form rondeau expressing their be my valentine ideas. Charles the Duke of Orleans, also known as Charles Valois composed the poems Bonne d'Armagnac to his wife during his imprisonment in The Tower of London. This 15th century example is supposed to be the earliest valentine. The character of Ophelia in Shakespeare's Hamlet mentions a valentine.

Valentine's Day Cards

In the 18th century, people began to fashion cards with lace, cupids, ribbons, and hearts to give to express their love for a mate. The colonists exported this tradition to the Americas. Valentines were initially produced mechanically in Great Britain in the late 18th century. In England Valentine cards made with paper became the convention in 19th century. Esther Howland began the commercial Valentines card business in the U.S.A. in Worcester, Massachusetts. She got her supplies from England via her father's stationary shop.

Card and gift giving is still faddy on Valentine's Day and romance is still in vogue, thanks to courtly love.


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