Anglo-Norman Poetry and the Concept of Courtly Love

Anglo-Norman Poetry
and the Concept of
Courtly Love
England started being invaded by the Germanic
Anglo-Saxons in the 5th century. Anglo-Saxons
themselves were invaded by the Danes in the
10th century.
Thus for nearly a thousand years, England had
no national unity, but was a country of many
small kingdoms, and recurrent battles. But in
1066, a final and decisive conquest put an end to
all that.
In 1066, a nobleman from
Normandy in the north of
France, conquered Britain,
united it under one kingdom,
and replaced the Anglo-Saxon
rulers with his own men.
 To better know and control his
new acquisition, England,
William the Conqueror made a
vast inventory of all property in
England called the Doomsday
The famous Bayeux Tapestry narrating the
Battle of Hastings and William’s Conquest of
The Anglo-Normans spoke a variety of French.
In arts, literature and architecture, they were
more advanced than the Anglo-Saxons they
invaded. They brought their culture with them.
Unlike the Anglo-Saxons who built wooden
the Anglo-Norman built stone castles,
and cathedrals...
William the Conqueror took the lands of most
Anglo-Saxon kings and thegns, and he gave
them to Norman noble warriors who helped
him in his conquest. Thus feudalism came to
Thus the ordinary Anglo-Saxon people, the
ceorls, villagers, became villeins subjected to a
lord who had every right over them.
The Norman lords built manors (castles) and
lived in them.
The Anglo-Norman brought with them
 the concept of courtly life style and
 “romance” literature,
 the concept of chivalry,
 courtly love.
“Romance” meant:
1. The French vernacular language of the
middle ages.
2. Poetry in this language.
3. Narratives about adventure and love.
Stages of Courtly Love according to Capellanus’s
The Art of Courtly Love (12th century):
Attraction to the lady, usually via eyes/glance
Worship of the lady from afar
Declaration of passionate devotion
Virtuous rejection by the lady
Renewed wooing with oaths of virtue and eternal fealty
Moans of approaching death from unsatisfied desire
(and other physical manifestations of lovesickness)
Heroic deeds of valor which win the lady's heart
Consummation of the secret love
Endless adventures and subterfuges avoiding detection