Representation of Romantic and Erotic Love in Medieval Art

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Courtly love was one type of representation of the concept of romanceduring the high middle ages. Initially, the content revolved around aknight performing services for his lady. As such, it was appealing tothe nobles. However, as time passed, the concept of courtly love waswidely embraced across all socio- economic classes. Therepresentation of courtly love reveals that the people in this eraupheld the concept of loving nobly. Thanks to artisticrepresentations of courtly love, many people began to embrace it.


Courtly love was a concept that many artists of the Middle Ages putemphasis on. French artists are notable in their contribution towardsthe representation of romantic love in the middle ages. They coinedthe term ‘Amour Courtois’ to mean courtly love (McFarland, 2012).A famous piece of art that was a representation of romantic love was‘Lancelot, the Knight of the cart’ in 1197. The practice emanatedfrom castle life of four regions- Champagne, Provence, Aquitaine andDucal Burgundy. Later on, the concept spread to the French court andthen to England. The primary method of expressing the concept wasthrough poetry. The storyline revolved around a young man trying towoe the wife of a noble. The poet uses sweet words to make her feelspecial. It moved away from the idea that only the rich and the noblecould love. It affected the masses in that different groups of peopledeveloped different opinions


Attitudes regarding the artistic representation of erotic love variedfrom one group to another. The nobles and knights liked the conceptof courtly love and other artistic representations of erotic love.Women loved it because it changed the idea of love towards them. Forinstance, courtly love changed how men viewed their women (More &ampElizabeth, 2010). The act of loving a woman and fulfilling herdesires was considered the epitome of nobility. On the other hand,religious leaders thought of it as immoral. During Medieval ages, theview of passionate love was evil in itself, regardless of whether ithappened between married couples. They disliked the images of nakedwomen passing off as art. They also opposed the concept of courtlylove because it revolved around the subject of a poor young mancoveting the wife of his master.


Due to the conflict of interest with religious leaders regarding therepresentation of romantic love, there came up an opposing movementcalled the religion of love of the god Amor (Love poetry, 2015). Thereligion was built on the concept of transference of emotion held bya knight for his mistress to his better half at home. The newreligion was a parody of the prevailing religion that condemned theacts of romantic love. More artists began to represent romantic lovein their artifacts and after some time, the masses were in love withsuch pieces.


The solution was to keep pressing despite resistance from religiousleaders. The solution worked and more people were inclined towardsthe artistic representation of romantic love than they were opposedto it. As years passed by, many artists added new features to theconcept therefore making it more interesting. The concept was nolonger immoral and people were free to be lovers as long as theintention was to create an offspring.


Love poetry, (2015). Poetry Courtly Love is governed by a uniqueset of Conventions. Retrieved from&lt December, 2015

McFarland, E., (2012). Dissecting la Rose: A look at the thornyview of courtly love presented in Guillaume’s Romance of the Rose.University of Utah, Retrieved From,&lt December, 2015

More, A., Estrange, E., (2011). Representing Medieval Genders andSexualities in Europe: Construction. New York: Routledge.

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