Courtly Literature

Courtly Literature


the courtly chivalrous school in European literature during the 12th through 14th centuries, centered in Provence, northern France, and Germany and later in England, Spain, and Italy.

The themes of courtly literature are the ideals of class honor and valor but not in the name of family or country as in the heroic epos, rather for personal glory and moral perfection. The courtly lyrics of the troubadors, French trouvères, and German minnesingers enriched poetry with new themes, genre forms, verse measures, and rhyme. The chivalrous novel and narrative poem (lay) treated classical and Byzantine subjects, the Arthurian legends, and the love story of Tristan and Yseult. In contrast to the collective and anonymous epic, the author’s persona stands out in chivalrous lyrics and novels, accompanied by a glorification of individual virtues, greater depth of psychological description, subtler appreciation of nature, concentration on the reader’s interest, adventurism, and individualistic manner.

Courtly literature brought such major writers into prominence as the Provençal troubadors Jaufré Rudel, Bernard de Ventadour, Bertran de Born; the French trouvères Conon de Béthune, Bérulle, Thomas, Chrétien de Troyes, Marie de France, and P. de Beaumanoir; and the German minnesingers Walther von der Vogelweide, Hartmann von Aue, and Wolfram von Eschenbach. Courtly literature exerted an influence on the heroic epic and on secular and religious literature.

In the Middle East, courtly literature became widespread but had a different character, closer to the epic and to urban literature (as in the “romantic epics” of Nizami Giandzhevi and Gurgani). A unique example of the courtly novel in the Far East is Genji Monogatari.


Shishmarev, V. Lirika i liriki pozdnego srednevekov’ia. Paris, 1911.
Aubry, P. Trubadury i truvery. Moscow, 1932. (Translated from French.)
Daix, P. Sem’ vekov romana. Moscow, 1962. (Translated from French.)
References in periodicals archive ?
The author argues that appropriation of classical forms and ideas was inevitably seen through the lens of contemporary Italian experience, itself often elaborated by other cultural influences, such as the courtly literature of late medieval France.
The many love stories in The Arabian Nights are situated at court as well, but that does not mean that we can speak of them as courtly literature.
The result is the courtly literature that has given birth to many of our legendary characters as a mirror of human spiritual aspiration.
This is not to suggest that the pastourelle in any way undermines notions of courtoisie, but rather that it complements courtly literature.
Selfish Gifts: The Politics of Exchange and English Courtly Literature 1580-1628.
Selfish gifts; the politics of exchange and English courtly literature, 1580-1628.
He claims that courtly literature blossomed in the second half of the 12th century as a result of new ideals of courtliness (1985: 14), but it also helped to propagate these ideals.
However, they also obscure the distinctively medieval nature of the poem's 'moral' and misrepresent its relationship to the tradition of courtly literature.
The trouble is and was, said Miller, what people like Hadewijch and Teresa of Avila did with courtly literature.
The same is true of her critical discussion of courtly literature and chivalry in chapter 4.
Per Nykrog argues that the fabliau was "essentially derived partly from the courtly literature of the preceding age [most fabliaux were written in the thirteenth century] and partly from whatever had remained in the writers' minds from their carefree days in and around the schools" (64).
with reference to representations of romance in courtly literature.