• Tracy Adams
Part of the Studies in Arthurian and Courtly Cultures book series (SACC)


Nearly forty years ago, John C. Moore observed that it was strange that twelfth-century French writers had not synthesized their notions of love into a treatise on married love, bearing a title like De amore conjugali or De gradibus amoris conjugalis. All the elements needed for such a synthesis existed, writes Moore:

In the minds of most, then, love was the source of goodness, the effect of goodness, and goodness itself. It was the free act of the rational person—or rather of persons, for in its fullness it was reciprocal, the mutual recognition of goodness and beauty. Its goal was the union of the lovers, perhaps physical, but first of all the union of wills or hearts.1

More recent critics have echoed Moore’s observation. Bruno Roy writes that “il ne manquait pas, dans la vision cléricale du monde, de points d’ancrage pour une étude positive de l’amour humain. Il aurait été facile pour les clercs de bâtir une philosophie complète de l’éros, en combinant plusieurs sources éparpillées dans leur propre baggage philosophico-théologique” (In the clerical vision of the world material for a positive study of human love was not lacking. It would have been easy for clerics to construct a complete philosophy of eros by combining several of the sources scattered throughout their own philosophical-theological baggage).2 Why did the synthesis not occur? Moore blamed the intellectual and social milieu of the day. “The failure was not overcome thereafter partly because two of the traditions, the scholastic and courtly traditions, had been in their formative period in the twelfth century and the forms they adopted then were soon canonized by usage,” he hypothesized.3


Sexual Desire Twelfth Century Human Love Medieval Literature Courtly Tradition 
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  1. 1.
    John C. Moore,“Love in Twelfth-Century France,” Traditio 24 (1968): 434.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bruno Roy, Une culture de l’équivoque (Montreal: University of Montreal Press; Paris: Champion-Slatkine, 1992), p. 62.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    Gerald Morgan, “The Conflict of Love and Chivalry in Le Chevalier de la Charrette,” Romania 102 (1981): 177.Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    A.R. Press, “The Adulterous Nature of Fin’Amors: A Re-Examination of the Theory,” Forum for Language Studies 6 (1970): 328.Google Scholar
  5. 10.
    Michel Zink, The Invention of Literary Subjectivity, trans. David Sices (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999), p. 37.Google Scholar
  6. 11.
    Eugene Vinaver, “Landmarks in Arthurian Romance,” The Expansion and Transformation of Courtly Literature, ed. Nathaniel B. Smith and Joseph T. Snow (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1980), p. 24.Google Scholar

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© Tracy Adams 2005

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  • Tracy Adams

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