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The Art of Courtly Love by Andreas…

The Art of Courtly Love

by Andreas Capellanus

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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485531,675 (3.59)13
  1. 00
    Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart by Chretien De Troyes (lisanicholas)
    lisanicholas: Like Andreas Capellanus's Art of Courtly Love, Chretien's romance satirizes the 12th century literary fad of stories glorifying adulterous love.

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» See also 13 mentions

Showing 5 of 5
It's pretty shocking I haven't read this already, since I've done so many modules on King Arthur, modules that otherwise involve "courtly love", etc. It's a highly stylised account of love, including a brief Arthurian romance, and shouldn't probably be taken too seriously as a historical document. Still, it is useful to reflect on for the literature and thought of the period, and as one of the influences on later courtly love romances, and the introduction with this edition is pretty useful too.

The translation is easy to read, although sometimes oddly colloquial. I don't know how accurate it is -- but you're probably stuck with it, I've never found a different edition. ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 28, 2013 |
I once gave a copy of this little book to a young lady whose boyfriend was being ungracious to her. What do you know? It worked! ( )
  jburlinson | Jan 17, 2013 |
The Art of Courtly Love(or The Treatise of Love) was written between 1184- 86 and takes the form of an instructional manual to a young courtier. According to C S Lewis courtly love was based on four basic premise: humility, courtesy, adultery and the religion of love. It went hand in hand with the concept of chivalry. Knights with their codes of honour were expected to follow the tenets of courtly love in the Romances at least and probably in some societies in real courtly life if this manual is anything to go by.

It has been accredited to Andreas Capellanus; a chaplain at the court of the Countess Marie de Champagne. This was the same Countess who had instructed Chretien de Troyes to write his "Knight of the Cart (Lancelot)" one of the earliest of the Arthurian Romances. Chretien and Andreas were contemporaries and friends at court, but it would appear that Chretien might not have been wholly comfortable with the idea of adulterous love, as he did not complete his tale of Lancelot; that most famous of adulterers. Andreas treatise was written in Latin as would be appropriate for educated men and women at court, Chretien's Romances were in the vernacular and so would have been aimed at a wider audience. Andreas Treatise did become extremely popular; there are many surviving manuscripts and it was soon translated into the vernacular. Subsequent authors of the Arthurian Romances would have been familiar with the Treatise and there is evidence of this from their use of its basic concepts.

Andreas Capellanus was not the inventor of courtly love, he was more of a chronicler. The ideas of adulterous love was taken from the poems of Ovid, which were very popular in the 12th century. These ideas were enhanced by lyrics from the troubadours and further influenced by Arabic manuscripts coming from Moslem Spain. Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine condoned these new ideas in her court at Poitiers and her descendants Countess Marie at Troyes and Thibault the great king of Navarre enthusiastically carried the torch. It was Countess Marie who instructed her chaplain Andreas to write these rules of engagement. Little is known of Andreas but it is evident that spiritual concerns were not his first consideration: look at what he says in a short chapter on "The Love of Nuns"

"And although we consider ourselves very expert in the art of love and well instructed in its cure, we were barely able to avoid her (a nun) pestilential snares and escape without contamination of the flesh"

The manual was written only for the courtly circle of nobles, knights, their ladies and those of the middle class who had access to the court. In the short section on "Love of the Peasants" the advice is to leave the farmers alone so that they can get on with the important work of cultivating the land, and so:

"And if you should by some chance fall in love with some of their women, be careful to pump them up with lots of praise and when you find a convenient place, do not hesitate to take what you need and embrace them by force"

Andreas imagines that he is writing his manual for a certain Walter, who is an apprentice in the art of courtly love. Book 1 is an introduction to the treatise of love and is by far the longest of the books. It takes the form of dialogues between men and women of the same and different ranks. There are eight dialogues in all between representatives of the middle class, the nobility and higher nobility. Each dialogue is introduced by advice on how the potential lover should address the object of his affection; how he should insist that he deserves the love of his chosen woman. In each case the woman answers back resisting the approach and the dialogue continues as a sort of instruction manual as to how to overcome likely resistance. Throughout theses dialogues the main threads of Andreas arguments emerge: a man should be obedient in all things to the commands of the lady, good qualities are the prerequisite of the nobility, good deeds performed by men should be rewarded by the woman's love, a woman's love will assist a man to do good works, love can only exist outside of marriage and lovers should expect to suffer with jealousy. These dialogues can be repetitive and can outstay their welcome.They can also be pretty puerile, take this as an example and guess which sex is doing the talking:

"..... since everybody knows that love can have no place between husband and wife. They may be bound to each other by a great and moderate affection, but their feelings cannot take the place of love, because it cannot fit under the true definition of love. For what is love but an inordinate desire to receive passionate a furtive and hidden embrace. But what embrace between husband and wife can be furtive"

Book one says almost as much about people's rank in society as it does about courtly love and so is fascinating reading.

Book 2 is entitled "How love might be retained" and reads like a more advanced course in love for the apprentice Walter. There are sections headed "If one of the lovers is unfaithful", How love may come to an end", "How love once consummated can be increased" There then follows a series of lovers questions on the more tricky aspects of courtly love and these are answered by experts such as Queen Eleanore or the Countess Marie. The book ends with a short tale about King Arthur and the knights of the round table in which the centre piece is a parchment containing the 31 rules for courtly lovers.

Book 3 the shortest of the books; "The Rejection of Love" is a typical medieval retraction on all that has gone before. It can of course be read ironically but its main purpose would have been for Andreas to appease his ecclesiastical superiors. It serves as a warning to Young Walter not to be tempted by courtly love and soon turns into a prolonged attack on the evils of women. The misogyny of book 3 is unpleasant reading, but modern readers should be aware that this is a medieval text and would have been perfectly acceptable to its audience.

John Jay Parry points out in his introduction (written in 1941) that Andreas is not a great literary figure like his friend Chretien de Troyes, but for that very reason he brings us closer to the actual life of the times, especially at court. It is not a Romance but more of a manual of behaviour and so there is less opportunity for scintillating prose, however it does have its high spots and the short tale of Arthur's round table is one of them. I found this a fascinating document and well worth the time for anyone interested in courtly love or Arthurian Romances. ( )
7 vote baswood | Nov 6, 2011 |
A classic, if somewhat abridged. Fun reading and historical. Don't think it too relevant today, since I don't know of any royal courts left to be in. ( )
  EThorelli | Mar 15, 2011 |
Had I known this was abridged, I would never have bought it.
1 vote | Kathleen828 | Jan 21, 2008 |
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» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Andreas Capellanusprimary authorall editionscalculated
Locke, Frederick W.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Parry, John JayTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Parry, John JayIntroduction & Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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