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 ?
My understanding of the Eneasroman's role as a courtly romance is guided by the work of Stephen Jaeger, who sees courtly literature as an educational tool used by learned clerics to tame the warrior nobles who ruled the medieval West.
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.
Monica Wright presents an analysis of the uses of textiles and clothing in twelfth-century courtly literature, suggesting they provide a fundamental role in the construction of the texts: they are used to develop and elaborate character; to advance or stall the plot; and to provide an overall structure.
Yet they also show that the romanz Psalter maintained a very close and active engagement with secular and courtly literature.
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 application of modern theoretical approaches to courtly literature is less novel than he suggests; for example, he overlooks Sarah Kay's Courtly Contradictions: The Emergence of the Literary Object in the Twelfth Century (Stanford, Calif.
Selfish Gifts: The Politics of Exchange and English Courtly Literature, 1580-1628.
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.
The Court Reconvenes: Courtly Literature Across the Disciplines.
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.