Courtly Love Essay

1067 words - 5 pages

During the Middle Ages, Courtly love was a code which prescribed the conduct between a lady and her lover (Britannica). The relationship of courtly love was very much like the feudal relationship between a knight and his liege. The lover serves his beloved, in the manner a servant would. He owes his devotion and allegiance to her, and she inspires him to perform noble acts of valor (Schwartz). Capellanus writes, in The Art of Courtly Love, “A true lover considers nothing good except what he thinks will please his beloved”. The stories of Marie de France and Chrétien de Troyes illustrate the conventions of courtly love.

According to Capellanus, “Good character alone makes any man worthy ...view middle of the document...

When the maiden at King Arthur’s court is struck by Kay, Perceval pledges that “she will be well avenged” before he dies (Lawall 1340). When the maiden Belrepeire comes to him at night, pleading for protection, Perceval comforts her and promises to “restore peace to all [her] land” (Lawall 1348). Perceval sees the maiden’s request as “an opportunity for [him] to win fame” (Lawall 1347). His love for inspires her to do bold, daring deeds. He therefore boldly defends the castle against the besiegers, winning the love and heart of the maiden. Perceval is kind to every maiden he meets. When he encounters a maiden weeping over a dead knight, he inquires after the matter. When he meets the maiden whose lover has forced her into penance, he seeks to comfort her.

A good lover also treats his beloved with respect. Perceval’s mother tells him that the man “who wins a kiss from a maiden receives much” (Lawall 1334). She advises Perceval not to take more than a kiss from a maiden. Perceval takes her advice too literally when he kisses the first maiden he meets “willy-nilly twenty times without stopping” (Lawall 1335). However, when the maiden at Belrepeire comes to him in the night partially unclothed, Perceval does nothing more than kiss her.

Capellanus further states that “every act of a lover ends with in the thought of his beloved”. Perceval’s mind is often on his lady love. When he sees the three drops of blood on the snow, he is reminded of “the fresh hues of his lady’s face” (Lawall 1366). The gazes at the snow in deep reverie, because “the sight pleased him so much that he seemed to behold the fresh color of his fair lady” (1366). Lanval cannot cease to think of his fairy lover. He is always “impatient to hold his beloved, to kiss, embrace and touch her” (Lawall 1320). When he is at the king’s house and sees all the beautiful damsels, he finds no pleasure in them, for he thinks of his fairy lover. Lanval is so disinterested in other women that people...

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