Courtly Love, code of behavior that defined the relationship between aristocratic lovers in Western Europe during the Middle Ages. The Idea of courtly love developed among the higher classes of Europe during the late-1100s. The idea of courtly love was that a man passionately devoted himself to a lady who was married or engaged to another man. Because medieval marriges were made up of little more than business contracts, courtly love was dubed as the only true romance in the lives of many Europeans. Knights used courtly love as a way to rember their home land and to give them a reson to get back to there land. Knights were not the only ones that believed in courtly love. Medieval artists, troubadors, and authors used courtly love as a bas or a theme in much of their work. Influenced by contemporary chivalric ideals (see Chivalry) and feudalism, courtly love required adherence to certain rules elaborated in the songs of the troubadours (see Troubadours and Trouvres) between the 11th and the 13th centuries and stemming originally from the Ars Amatoria (The Art of Loving) of the Roman poet Ovid.
According to these conventions, a nobleman, usually a knight, in love with a married woman of equally high birthor, often, higher rankhad to prove his devotion by heroic deeds and by amorous writings presented anonymously to his beloved. Once the lovers had pledged themselves to each other and consummated their passion, complete secrecy had to be maintained. Because most noble marriages in the Middle Ages were little more than business contracts, courtly love was a form of sanctioned adultery, sanctioned because it threatened neither the contract nor the religious sacrament of marriage. In fact, faithlessness of the lovers toward each other was considered more sinful than the adultery of this extramarital relationship.
Literature in the courtly love tradition includes such works as Lancelot, by Chrtien de Troyes; Tristan und Isolt (1210), by Gottfried von Strassburg; Le Roman de la Rose, by Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun; and the Arthurian romances (see Arthurian Legend). The theme of courtly love was developed in Dante Alighieri’s La vita nuova (The New Life) and La divina commedia (The Divine Comedy), and in the sonnets of the Italian poet Petrarch. Troubadours and Trouvres (Provenal trobar,”to find” or “to invent”), lyric poets and poet-musicians who flourished in France from the end of the 11th century to the end of the 13th century. The troubadours, who were active in Provence in southern France, took their inspiration from the ancient Greek conception of the lyric poem as a vocal composition (see Lyric). Written in the Provenal language (see Occitan), the lyrics of the troubadours were among the first to use native language rather than Latin, the literary language of the Middle Ages. These poems incorporated new forms, melodies, and rhythms, either original or borrowed, from the informal music of the people. The earliest troubadour whose works have been preserved was Guillaume IX of Aquitaine (1071-1127). Of the more than 400 troubadours known to have lived, the majority were nobles and some were kings; for them, composing and performing songs was a manifestation of the ideal of chivalry. Troubadour music gradually disappeared during the 13th century as the courts of southern France were destroyed in the religious wars that ended in the defeat of the Albigenses by the papal power.
Originally, the troubadours sang their own poems to their assembled courts and often held competitions, or so-called tournaments of song; later, they engaged itinerant musicians, called jongleurs, to perform their works. The subjects included love, chivalry, religion, politics, war, funerals, and nature. The verse forms included the canso (stanza song), tenso (dialogue or debate), sirvente (political or satirical canso), planh (complaint or dirge), alba (morning song), and serena (evening song). The musical accompaniments were generally played on stringed instruments such as viele (medieval fiddle) or the lute. The notation of the songs indicated pitch but not time value or rhythm. About 300 melodies and about 2600 poems of the troubadours have been preserved. The music of the troubadours is considered one of the major influences in the development of medieval secular music (see Music, Western).
The trouvres were court poet-musicians of northern France. Their songs were strongly influenced by those of the troubadours, a group first brought to northern France about 1137 by Eleanor of Aquitaine, granddaughter of Guillaume de Poitiers. Eleanor came to the court of France, at Paris, as the queen of King Louis VII, bringing with her a number of poets and musicians whose work was characteristic of her homeland in southern France. The northern poet-musicians copied and adapted the works of the troubadours, finally developing their own genre, which although similar in subject and musical form to that of the troubadours, placed more emphasis on heroic epics. The trouvres wrote in the northern French language (also called langue d’ol). About 1400 melodies and 4000 poems by them have survived. The most famous trouvre was Adam de la Halle.
See also Minnesinger; Provenal Language; Provenal Literature. IINTRODUCTION Lyric, short poem that conveys intense feeling or profound thought. In ancient Greece, lyrics were sung or recited to the accompaniment of the lyre. Elegies and odes were popular forms of the lyric in classical times. The lyric poets of ancient Greece included Sappho, Alcaeus, and Pindar; the major Roman lyric poets included Horace, Ovid, and Catullus. Lyrical poetry was also written in ancient India and China; and the Japanese verse called haiku is a lyric.
The troubadours and trouvres of medieval France developed lyric forms such as the canzone and rondeau for singing. In Germany the earliest lyricists were the minnesingers. Although most medieval lyrics were written anonymously, two names are notable. The 15th-century poet Franois Villon was the greatest French lyric poet after the troubadours; the earliest English lyrics were by the 14th-century master Geoffrey Chaucer. Ballads, often classed as narrative poems, are considered lyrics by some scholars because they are sung.
By the beginning of the Renaissance (14th century to 17th century) the term lyric also was applied to verse that was not sung. The sung lyric, including the madrigal, may be found in poetry of the Elizabethan era (16th century)for example, in the work of the English musicians Thomas Campion and John Dowlandas well as in the songs in the plays of the English writer William Shakespeare. Italian poets such as Petrarch developed the sonnet, a lyric form that became popular for the treatment of both secular and religious themes in late Renaissance and early 17th-century Europe. Notable sonnet writers of the time in France included Pierre de Ronsard and Joachim du Bellay. The great sonneteers of England included Sir Thomas Wyatt, Samuel Daniel, Michael Drayton, Shakespeare, Sir Philip Sidney, and John Donne; lyrics in other forms were contributed by John Skelton, Ben Jonson, and Robert Herrick. The shorter poems of John Milton and the odes of John Dryden were important additions to the lyric mode in the 17th century.
III18TH- AND 19TH-CENTURY LYRIC POETRY
The most important German lyric poets of the 18th and early 19th centuries included Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich von Schiller, and Heinrich Heine. In the mid-18th century in England Thomas Gray and William Collins wrote important odes and elegies; at the end of the century the Scottish poet Robert Burns wrote lyrics in his native dialect. English lyric poetry flourished in the romantic period (18th century and 19th century). Songs of Innocence (1789) and Songs of Experience (1794) by William Blake, Lyrical Ballads (1798) by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and numerous short poems by John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Lord Byron include outstanding lyrics.
Later in the 19th century Alfred, Lord Tennyson and A. E. Housman produced a variety of lyrical poems. During the same period Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote sonnets with innovative rhythms, and Christina Rossetti, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning also wrote fine sonnets. In 1859Edward FitzGerald produced a famous volume of translations from the Persian collection of verse Rubiyt of Omar Khayym (12th century). The chief French lyric poets of this period included Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud, and Stphane Mallarm. In the United States the outstanding lyricists included Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson. Giacomo Leopardi was the leading Italian lyricist of the time.
IVTHE MODERN LYRIC The lyric mode is still almost universally popular in modern times. Notable lyrics have been written by the Americans Robert Frost, Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, and E. E. Cummings; the Irish poet and playwright William Butler Yeats; W. H. Auden and Stephen Spender of England; the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas; German poets Stefan George and Rainer Maria Rilke, and Austrian poet Hugo von Hofmannsthal; Paul Valry and Guillaume Apollinaire of France; playwright and poet Federico Garca Lorca of Spain; the Mexican poet Octavio Paz; and the Alexandrian-born Greek poet Constantine Cavafy.
code of behavior that medieval knights followed. Chivalry was a feature of the High and later Middle Ages in western Europe. While its roots stretch back to the 9th and 10th centuries, the system of chivalry flourished most vigorously in the 12th and 13th centuries before deteriorating at the end of the Middle Ages. However, the ideals of chivalry continued to influence models of behavior for gentlemen and the nobility during the Renaissance in the 16th century.