Courtly Love

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Definition

Courtly Love (Amour Courtois) refers to an innovative literary genre of poetry of the High Middle Ages (1000-1300 CE) which elevated the position of women in society and established the motifs of the romance genre recognizable in the present day. Courtly love poetry featured a lady, usually married but always in some way inaccessible, who became the object of a noble knight's devotion, service, and self-sacrifice. Prior to the development of this genre, women appear in medieval literature as secondary characters and their husbands' or fathers' possessions; afterward, women feature prominently in literary works as clearly defined individuals in the works of authors such as Chretien de Troyes, Marie de France, John Gower, Geoffrey Chaucer, Christine de Pizan, Dante Alighieri, Giovanni Boccaccio, and Thomas Malory.

More about: Courtly Love

Timeline

  • 1000 - 1300
    Courtly Love poetry develops in Southern France during the High Middle Ages.
  • c. 1130 - c. 1229
    Courtly Love poetry flourishes in Southern France through the works of the Provencal poets.
  • c. 1160 - c. 1190
    Chretien de Troyes writes his chivalric romances in southern France.
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