TV Tropes Monday: Courtly Love

Tweet of the Day: Cazotte: The Fantastique Writer Who Say Death


February is around the corner. That means lots of little hearts and cupids flying around allowing the greeting card companies to cash in on the holiday spirit for another fourteen days. All the mush and fake emotional obligations you can handle.


Who am I kidding? Anyone whose read this blog knows I filled it with enough saccharine wishes and dotted hearts dreams to kill a million diabetics.  Yes, call me a hypocrite why don’t you? I deserve it. Thus, in the spirit of the “season” (such as it is) I’ll be posting about several “love/romance” tropes. First on the list: Courtly Love.

You, yes you, are probably familiar with the concept. A noble knight chooses a lady of high birth to be his source of inspiration. He invest his emotion upon her, writes her poetry, composes ballads, and does everything to show his devotion, except, you know, show her his actual devotion, if you know what I mean. The lady in question may be single or married, which is fine since nothing more than words are exchanged. The knight is inspired to do great deeds, the woman is appreciated and all is well.

Yeah, right.

If he is any good as what he is doing, then well, just ask Lancelot du Lac.  Even his creator could not help but give him what he wanted, even if the object of his desire was the Queen of the Britons. Thus while courtly love may be platonic (and it is invariably linked to that ideal), the real deal is anything but. The other subversion is the rejection of the lover by her love interest for whatever reason. It is also important to remember that courtly love was reserved for the upper classes. Said upper classes also operated through arranged marriages, so more often than not both (would be) lovers are married. Add the fact that adultery was a (literal) deadly sin and you can see where this is all going.

Still many of our concepts of romance come from this tradition and resonate throughout our culture both for good and for ill.


2 comments on “TV Tropes Monday: Courtly Love

  1. These stories will always draw people in due to the intense emotions involved. We’re lucky to live in a time (and most of us probably take it for granted) that we can see who we want, and we are also free to end relationships.


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