I’ve always been fascinated with the ideas of courtly love. I remember being in my middle school library looking for more stories about knights or King Arthur’s round table while others were reading the latest hit from the young adult section. I was a romantic before I knew what a romantic was.
That is probably why I was so attached to “The Rules of Courtly Love” by Andreas Capellanus. It give a sense of guidelines to the cultural mores of the time period. Here is how they are translated within the text (I’ll give an interpretation of each one as we progress):
- Marriage is no real excuse for not loving.
Marriages of the time period were often pre-arranged which meant marriage was more of a business contract then it was a venture of love. Men had mistresses because those were the people with whom they experienced the passion and the ecstasy of love.
- He who is not Jealous cannot love.
I enjoy this rule because it makes sense to me. Jealousy is often viewed as a negative emotion in modern relationships and I think people overlook an intrinsic quality of jealous. At the very heart of it is a person who just wanted to spend time with another person. Looking at it from a medieval perspective, it seems it would be commonplace to be jealous of the husband or wife of your lover because they got to spend much more time with them.
- No one can be bound by a double love.
I’m not exactly sure on the phrasing, but I interpret this as commenting on the true nature of love. There can be only one person who can overwhelm your emotions and desires. While you can have feelings for two people, there is one person you’re meant to be with.
- It is well known that love is always increasing or decreasing.
Love goes in cycles, even if it isn’t as robust as it was in the past it doesn’t mean that it isn’t there any longer. It doesn’t mean that it would get back up to that level.
- That which a lover takes against the will of his lover has no relish.
If you do something that your lover is against it doesn’t have the same amount of pleasure that it would had your lover accepted it or participated alongside you.
- Boys do not love until they reach the age of maturity.
It’s fairly self-explanatory but does say a lot. While infatuation can feel like love it can’t cross the gaps that love can easily traverse.
- When one lover dies, a widowhood of two years is required.
It’s interesting that even in the middle ages people were receptive to the notions of grieving. Even so that they put a two-year marker on grieving, forcing people to go find love after a passing.
- No one should be deprived of love without the very best of reasons.
Another self-explanatory rule. It accounts for the notion of circumstance that I alluded to earlier.
- No one can love unless he is impelled by the persuasion of love.
I love Capellanus’ choice of words by saying “impelled.” I had to look it up. To impel is to urge through action by a moral argument. I love how the argument for love, or being persuaded by love, is rooted in moral circumstances. It’s essentially saying you cannot love unless love is tugging at the very core of your moral being. I dig that.
- Love is always a stranger in the home of avarice.
Love cannot exist in a relationship where someone is consistently pushing for material wealth or desires to benefit the individual.
Next up are rules 11-20 and 21-31. Check back later for more updates in the book series.