The term courtly love

Anthony H. Harrison, Professor of English, North Carolina State University


Note 1 to Chapter 1 of the author's Swinburne's Medievalism, which xx University Press published in a 19xx. It has been included in the Victorian web with the kind permission of the author, who of course retains copyright.

See especially McGann, Swinburne, 210-20 passim. The term courtly love (amour courtois) is one that Swinburne himself is very unlikely, even late in his life, to have known. It is, as Francis X. Newman observes, a descriptive and heuristic term, one medievalists invented for themselves. It was introduced by Gaston Paris in a famous article that appeared during 1883 in Romania. Still, the existence of a code of behavior and values connected with an idolatrous passion (D. W. Robertson's term) and its frequent expression in medieval literature is undeniable. The best discussions of the phenomenon and the controversy that still fairly rages among scholars appear in The Meaning of Courtly Love, ed. F. X. Newman (Albany, 1968). Newman's words are taken from page x.


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Last updated: June 2000