Courtly Love in the High Middle Ages

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Kelly Macquire
published on 13 February 2022

Courtly Love is a literary genre of poetry that began in the south of France in the 12th century during the period known as the High Middle Ages. In this new genre of poetry, motifs were established that are still commonly used today in the romance genre and it also elevated the position of women in society during this time. The historicity of this genre of literature is still hotly debated as to whether it was simply a fanciful metaphor or if it actually reflected the relationships of the upper class at the time. Scholars have also suggested the genre was a religious allegory relating to the heresy of Catharism whilst others claim that it simply represented the superficial games of the medieval French court.

As one of the most powerful women of the Middle Ages, Eleanor of Aquitaine’s role in developing the genre of courtly love is still controversial. Throughout her life, she lived as she wanted, regardless that she was first queen of France and then queen of England, and during her life she was an avid patron of the arts - a pursuit that most of her children would follow. One of the main controversies surrounding Eleanor of Aquitaine are the Courts of Love which may have occurred at her court at Poitiers between circa 1170 and 1174.



0:00​ Introduction
0:58 What is Courtly Love?
4:42 Eleanor of Aquitaine — The Queen of Courtly Love
6:06 Eleanor's Courts of Love
7:47 The Four Rules of Courtly Love
9:45 The Cathar Analogy
11:11 Courtly Love as a Game
13:14 Outro

Courtly Love
Medieval Literature
Medieval Chivalry
Eleanor of Aquitaine
Chretien de Troyes
Women in the Middle Ages

Eleanor of Aquitaine: the Medieval Queen of England and France in the High Middle Ages
The History of Valentines Day: From the Lupercalia to Cupid
King Arthur: The History and Story of King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table
The World's Oldest Love Poem: The Love Song of Shu-Sin

You can find all attribution and credits for images, animations, graphics and music here -

Tale of Two Sisters
Greg Joy (SOCAN)!details?id=23208305

Frank Bernard Dicksee / user: Grendelkhan
Public Domain US / faithful reproductions of two-dimensional public domain works of art are public domain
Codex Manesse, UB Heidelberg, Cod. Pal. germ. 848, fol. 252r: Herr Hug von Werbenwag
Public Domain US -

World History Encyclopedia

#courtlylove #courtsoflove #middleages

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About the Author

Kelly Macquire
Kelly is a graduate from Monash University who has completed her BA (Honours) in Ancient History and Archaeology, focussing on iconography and status in Pylos burials. She has a passion for mythology and the Aegean Bronze Age.

Cite This Work

APA Style

Macquire, K. (2022, February 13). Courtly Love in the High Middle Ages. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

Chicago Style

Macquire, Kelly. "Courtly Love in the High Middle Ages." World History Encyclopedia. Last modified February 13, 2022.

MLA Style

Macquire, Kelly. "Courtly Love in the High Middle Ages." World History Encyclopedia. World History Encyclopedia, 13 Feb 2022. Web. 18 Jul 2024.