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Troubadours& The Beloved:

    The Religion of 
    Love / Amor

      page One 

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Troubadours & The Beloved: Fin' amor ("Courtly Love"); the Troubadour devotees of "The Religion of Love/Amor" (or the Fedeli d'Amore) in Andalusia, Occitania (South of France), and Italy, the "Twelfth-century Renaissance," the "Rebirth of  Eros" in Western culture, and the Beloved as "Rose-Woman."

"The subject tonight is love, and for tomorrow night as well. As a matter of fact, I know of no better topic for us to discuss until we die." -Hafiz

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Fin 'amor

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Troubadours and  Trobairitz

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Chant d'Amour (Burne-Jones).jpg

"Chant d'Amour" (The Love Song) 

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"Music" (Burne-Jones)

The Song of Love.jpg
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The Song of Love (Oudera).jpg
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A Song of Love (Theaker).jpg
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"A Love Song of Love" (Theaker) 

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The joy of woman is the Death of her most best beloved
Who dies for Love of her
In torments of fierce jealousy & pangs of adoration.
The Lovers night bears on my song
And the nine Spheres rejoice beneath my powerful controll

They sing unceasing to the notes of my immortal hand
The solemn silent moon
Reverberates the living harmony upon my limbs
The birds & beasts rejoice & play
And every one seeks for his mate to prove his inmost joy

Furious & terrible they sport & rend the nether deeps
The deep lifts up his rugged head
And lost in infinite hum[m]ing wings vanishes with a cry
The fading cry is ever dying
The living voice is ever living in its inmost joy

-William Blake, Vala or the Four Zoas: Night of the Second

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The Troubadours and Trobaritizes,

Courtly Love (Cortezia), and Chivalry 

"O tender yearning, sweet hoping!

The golden time of first love!

The eye sees the open heaven,

The heart is intoxicated with bliss;

O that the beautiful time of young love

Could remain green forever."

               ~ Friedrich Schiller, “The Song of the Bell”

"Ultimately, it is the desire, not the desired, that we love."

               ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

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The twelfth-century troubadours (Southern France: Occitania) and trobaritzes (women troubadours), trouveres (Northern France), and minnesingers (Germany) composed a variety of different song styles about love, politics, life, and death (some of them were by turn heroic, ironic, satirical, and bawdy), which they carried from town to town and from court to court with their jongleurs, who accompanied them on a variety of instruments, mostly stringed. About half the poems/songs the troubadours composed were love songs written in praise of their idealized "Lady" (domna or midons). This kind of love was called "fin'amor" (the Provençal term for "refined love" or "pure love"), but generally known (since the 19th century) as "amour courtois" or "courtly love." Fin' amor(s) was  basically an adulterous love. Yet, fin'amor was in itself refining and ennobling to the lover, the means to the fullest expression of what was potentially beautiful and elevated in human nature. This developed into a the "code of chivalry." The decades between 1150 and 1250 are known as the classic age of the troubadours . The pan-European troubadour culture (France, Germany, Italy, and Spain) is commonly known as the "courtly love tradition” of the "Twelfth-century Renaissance." 

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Troubadour Sings of the Legend of Tristan and Iseult

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Tristan and Isolde (Leighton)

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Troubadour in Court of Eleanor of Aquitaine

Troubadours in Court

of  Court of Alfonso X

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Troubadours in Court

of  Court of Alfonso X

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Trobairitz in Court

of  Court of Alfonso X

Trobairitz in Court

of  Court of Alfonso X

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The Troubadour (Moitiroux).jpg
troubadours singing glories of crusades
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Troubadour tapestry.jpg
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Courtly Lovers 2.jpg
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The Troubadour (Franquelin).jpg
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The Troubadour (Brunery).jpg
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Art and the Jade (Draper).jpg
Duet (Dicksee).jpg
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La gamme d'amour (The Love Song)_ (Watteau).jpg
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The Troubadours, Chivalry, 

and The Quest of the Holy Grail

---"Down By Avalon"

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"The Accolade"

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"Rose Thrown as Token"



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Courtly love (cortezia) was a concept of nobility and chivalry expressing love, admiration, and “love's service.” Chivalry, or the “code of chivalry,” was an informal, varying code of conduct developed between 1170 and 1220. It was designed to govern the medieval institution of knighthood. A knight’s and a lady’s behavior were governed by chivalrous social codes. This relationship was based on the premise of the feudal relationship between a knight and his love. The knight serves his courtly “lady” (domna or midons), who was customarily a married woman, with the same obedience and loyalty which he owed to his lord. The lady is in complete control of the adulterous relationship, while the knight owes her obedience and submission. Absolute obedience and unswerving loyalty were critical. Customarily, she seemed remote and haughty, imperious and difficult to please. She expected to be served and wooed, at great length. To incur the displeasure of one’s lady was to be cast into the void, beyond all light, warmth, and possibility of life. However, physical consummation of love was not obligatory. (And the long-standing scholarly debate continues as to whether or not this love was actually consummated.) The importance of courtly love was the prolonged and exalting experience of being “in love.” The knight’s love for his lady influenced him to be a better servant, to be worthy of her love and to win her favor. In its essential nature, courtly love, or fin’ amor(s), was the expression of the knightly worship of a refining ideal embodied in the person of the beloved. Only a truly noble nature could generate and nurture such a love; only a woman of nobility of spirit was a worthy object. Thus, courtly love, although by definition an “illicit love,” was an ennobling force whether the relationship was consummated or not and even whether or not the lady knew about the knight’s love or love him in return.

The courtly love and the ideals of chivalry influenced literature through expression in lyric poetry and romance narratives (either of verse or prose), especially the Arthurian romances of the Grail-quest cycle. (Other  chivalric romances  influenced included the “Matter of Rome,” the “Matter of France,” “Matter of Britain,” and “Tristan Isolde.”) This  medieval romance literature  tells stories (which contain supernatural elements; magical figures and enchanted forests and vales) about noble knights embarking on dangerous missions while engaging with alluring women along the way. These stories present the idea of courtly love in a way that demonstrate the knight's devotion to an unapproachable lady, who ennobles and elevates his character through quests in which he must surmount a series of ordeals in order to win her heart. This was known as “the knighthood of love.”



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Victory a Knight Crowned with Laurel-wre
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The Vigil (Pettie).jpg
The End of the Quest (Dicksee).jpg
La Belle Dame Sans Merci (Fishman).jpg
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My Fair Lady (Blair-Leighton).jpg
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Aucassin and Nicolette (Stokes).jpg
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La Belle Dame sans merci (Hughes).jpg
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Heraldic Chivalry (Mucha).jpg
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Sir Tristram & La beale Isoude (Evelyn Paul).jpg
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Guinevere and Lancelot (Harrison).jpg
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A knight kneeling in front of an altar with a young woman (Burne-Jones).jpg
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Chivalry Dying of Love for the Goddesses
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"Chivalry Dying of Love for the Goddesses" (Brickdale)

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With the “code of chivalry,” the rough masculine element of knighthood was greatly diminished, and in its place was put the ideal of the knight as a “gentle man” in service to his “Lady.” (Eleanor of Aquitaine and her daughter Marie de Champagne supposedly held “courts of love” that greatly influenced the courtly love idea of chivalry during the 12th and 13th centuries.) The troubadour ideals of chivalry were popularized in medieval literature, especially in Arthurian romances of the Grail-quest cycle. 


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"Chivalry "(Dicksee)

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"The Dedication " (Leighton)


Concerning the early influences of the Arthurian romances (written by Chrétien de Troyes, the late-12th-century French poet and trouvère who served at the court of  his patroness Marie of France, Countess of Champagne, daughter of  Eleanor of Aquitaine), recent scholarship has come up with considerable evidence to support a borrowing from Celtic mythology, such as the Grail cup coming from the archetypal Celtic cauldron and the magical elements in the stories coming from the Celtic Otherworld. As for the Grail tradition itself, there's the legend (recently popularized in books and movies) that the Grail-quest was initiated by Mary Magdalene, who is believed to have brought the Grail chalice to the South of France.


The Quest for the Holy Grail


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Grail Maiden

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"The Holy Grail"

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Grail Maiden

Grail Maiden

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"Saint Grail Legend" (Hendrich)

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"The Grail King Titurel" (Stassen)

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"King Arthur and the Grail" (Godwin)

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"In Search of the Holy Grail" (Burne-Jones)

"Quest for the Holy Grail" (Burne-Jones)

Vision of the Holy Grail tapestry 1 (Bur

"Vision of the Holy Grail" (Burne-Jones)

Vision of the Holy Grail tapestry 2 (Bur

"Vision of the Holy Grail" (Burne-Jones)

 The Attainment of Holy Grail by Sir Gal

 "The Attainment of Holy Grail by Sir Gallahad and Sir Percival" (Burne-Jones)

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"Quest of the Holy Grail - Sir Lancelot and

Sir Bors outfit Galahad" (Abbey)

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"Quest and Achievement of the Holy Grail" (Abbey)

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"Quest for the Holy Gail - Castle of the Maidens" (Abbey)

The Quest for the Holy Grail - Knights o

"Quest for the Holy Grail - Knights of Round Table set forth" (Abbey)

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"Three Angels Bear the Grail"

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"The Knight of the Holy Grail" (Waugh)

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"Angel of the Grail"

Sir Galahad and Quest for Holy Grail (Hu

"Sir Galahad and Quest for the Holy Grail" (Hughes)

Sir Galahad, Bors, Percival Fed with San

"Sir Galahad, Bors, Percival Fed with Sanct Grael" (Rossetti)

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Angel rowed Sir Galahad across dern mere

"Angel rowed Sir Galahad across dern mere" (Joesph)

"Sir Galahad" (Paton)

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"Sir Galahad and His Angel" (Paton)

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"Galahad Kneeled" (Frith)

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"Galahad Sees Holy Grail"

The Temptation of Sir Percival (Hacker).

"The Temptation of Sir Percival" (Hacker)

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"Percival and the Holy Grail"

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"The Earthly Paradise / Sir Lancelot

at Chapel of Holy Grail "(Burne-Jones)

Sir Lancelot at Chapel of the Grail

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"The Apparition of the Grail"

Parsifal and Knights of Holy Grail (Marc

"Parsifal and Knights of Holy Grail" (Marcius-Simons)

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"Quest for the Holy Grail" (Burne-Jones)


Arthur's Court at Camelot


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"Arthur and Excalibar" (Wyeth)

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"Romance of King Arthur" (Flint)

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Kights of the Round Table (Burne-Jones).

Knights of the Round Table

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Knights of the Round Table

"Knights of the Round Table" (Burne-Jones)

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"Tournament of Knights of the Round Table"

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"Tournament at Camelot"

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"Sir Galahad" (Watts)

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"Queen Guinevre's Maying" (Collier)

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"Sir Gawain" Burne-Jones)

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"Parsifal" (Delville) with Avalon (Glastonbury Tor) in the distance

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Guinevre and Lancelot

Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere (Archer

"Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere" (Archer)

First Kiss between Lancelot and Guinever

"The First Kiss between Lancelot and Guinevere"

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Lancelot and Guinevere

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"Lancelot and Guinevere" (Draper)

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Tennyson's Lancelot and Guinevere

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"Guinevere" (Guay)

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"Lancelot" (Chretien de Troyes)

"The Ladies of Camelot" (Burne-Jones)

"Departure of the Knights" (Burne-Jones)

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King Arthur, Merlin, Lady of Lake

Merlin and Nimue from-le-morte-darthur (
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"Merlin and Nimue" (Burne-Jones)

"The Beguiling of Merlin" (Burne-Jones)

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"King Arthur's Merlin" (Roberts)

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"Merlin and Fairy Queen" (Duncan)

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"Last Sleep of Arthur" (Burne-Jones)

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Morte d'Arthur (Tennyson)

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Grail and Alchemical Marriage


". . .the month of May was come, when every lusty heart beginneth to blossom, and to bring forth fruit; for like as herbs and trees bring forth fruit and flourish in May, in likewise every lusty heart that is in any manner a lover, springeth and flourisheth in lusty deeds.  For it giveth unto all lovers courage, that lusty month of May." 

                                                      –Sir Thomas Malory, Le Morte d'Arthur  


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Legend of King Arthur tapestry

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Camelot Castle

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"Dreams of Camelot"

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Avalon Isle (Cavalon/Camalot)

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Avalon Isle and Glastonbury Tor

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Avalon and the Enchanted Vale

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Avalon and the Enchanted Vale

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Oh the Holy Grail
Baby behind the sun
Oh the Holy Grail
Down by Avalon

Well I came upon
The enchanted veil
Down by the viaducts of my dreams
Down by Camelot, hangs the tale
In the ancient vale.

(Van Morrison, 'Avalon of the Heart')

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The Troubadours' Courtly Love: 

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The Temple of Love (Burne-Jones).jpg

"The Temple of Love"

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"Love" (Eros/Cupid)

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Cupid's Hunting Fields (Burne-Jones).jpg

"Cupid's Hunting Fields"

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Cupid and Psyche (Burne-Jones).jpg

"Cupid & Psyche"

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"Cupid & Psyche"

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The troubadour phenomenon in Occitania was the

rebirth of eros  in the "Twelfth-century Renaissance."


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"Romance" (Brickdale)

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"Love's Passing"

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Love (Clifton).jpg


"The True Love"

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"A Masque of Love" (Duncan)

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"Love and Time" (Rovelli)


Troubadour Garden of Love tapestry

"Love and His Counterfeits"


The Troubadour "Book Love"

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The Troubadour "Book Love"

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Tristan & Isolde :

Tristan & Isolde (Meteyard).jpg
Tristram and Isolde.jpg
Tristan & Isolde Sharing the Potion (Joh
Madness of Sir Tristan (Burne-Jones).jpg
Tristan & Iseult (Nisbet).jpg
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Tristan and Isolde (Draper).jpg
The Lovers (Rossetti).jpg

"The Lovers" (Rossetti)

Lovers in Woods (Craft).jpg
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Andalusian Lovers

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The Meeting on the Turret Stairs (Burton

"The Meeting on the Turret Stairs" (Burton)

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Young Lovers (Archibalt).jpg

"Young Lovers" (Archibalt)

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Amor Reunites Sacred & Profane Love


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Sacred and Profane Love (Titian).jpg

"Sacred and Profane Love" (Titian)

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The Gypsy Scholar asks the question about sacred or profane love with the troubadours: Was it the saints or the lovers who kept the doors of paradise open in the Middle Ages?  In other words, was the impulse of the Catholic mystics behind the troubadours (as the religious historians say), or was it the other way around—the troubadour impulse behind the Catholic mystics (as the poets say)? Of course, conventional wisdom goes with the mystics. However, the GS would go against this conventional wisdom and answer the question this way: Although it is partly true that some troubadours took the religious devotion directed to the heavenly Virgin Mary (in Mariology) and secularized it, redirecting it to their earthly Beloved, other troudabours (even before the popularity of the Marian cult) provided the devotional cult of the Virgin with erotic metaphors and troupes and, thus, provided in turn high Catholic mysticism with its erotic  meatphors and troupes about divine love—language that described the soul's relationship to the Christ in erotic terms. (The great Catholic mystics, from the 13th to the 16th centuries, such a St. Francis, St. Catherine, and St. Teresa, were much enamored with courtly love literature in their youth. This use of erotic metaphors for the soul’s relationship to Christ persisted into the late 15th century with St. John of the Cross.) 

All Christian theologians, from the Church fathers on, rank agape (divine love) over eros (erotic love), an inferior kind of love. However the GS dares to challenge this value system by inverting it—turning it upside down. Indeed, one renegade scholar of the Judeo-Christian tradition has recently aided the GS in re-visioning the entire relationship between sacred and profane love by re-contextualizing the biblical creation story into a cosmic love story: “Genesis is a conversation between two Lovers (‘the Eloheim’) resulting in the world coming into being.” Thus, the upshot of this is that Creation itself is the result of the divine “intercourse” between male and female deities (as in the Hindhu creation story of Siva and Shakti). 

However, for over a century now scholars of  so-called "courtly love" see the love of the troubadours as either exclusively  chaste (never consummated) or exclusively sexual.

Therefore, when coming to terms about the nature of the troubadour’s conception of amor (fin’amor), we have “To think about the possibility of the profound and the profane existing all at once.” In other words, we have to think both spiritual love and erotic love, because the troubadours eroticized spiritual love and, conversely, spiritualized erotic love. 


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