This week's Links list is dedicated to those who would know more about Valentine's Day and how our Medieval Counterparts celebrated not only that holiday but also how LOVE with a capital L effected their lives. So red onward to find songs, stories, legends, works written on the subject by medieval scholars, information on the attitudes regarding weddings of the time, and much more.
As always, please feel free to forward this list wherever it will find a ready and interested audience.
Dame Aoife Finn of Ynos Mon Riverouge Aethelmearc
History Channel: The History of Valentines Day
(Site Excerpt) So, who was Saint Valentine and how did he become associated with this ancient rite? Today, the Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men -- his crop of potential soldiers. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret.
The true History of Valentines Day
by Mani Niall
Mid February was traditionally the time of the Lupercian festival, an ode to the God of fertility and a celebration of sensual pleasure, a time to meet and court a prospective mate. In AD 496, Pope Gelasius outlawed the pagan festival. But he was clever to replace it with a similar celebration, although one deemed morally suitable. He needed a "lovers" saint to replace the pagan deity Lupercus. The martyred Bishop Valentine was chosen as the patron saint of the new festival. Saint Valentine had been beheaded for helping young lovers marry against the wishes of the mad emperor Claudius. Before execution, Valentine himself had fallen in love with his jailer's daughter. He signed his final note to her, "From Your Valentine", a phrase that has lasted through the centuries.
History of The Valentine
(Site Excerpt) A young Frenchman, Charles, Duke of Orleans, was one of the earliest creators of valentines, called "poetical or amorous addresses." From his confinement in the Tower of London after the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, he sent several poems or rhymed love letters or "valentines" to his wife in France. During the fifteenth century, one valentine showed a drawing of a knight and a lady, with Cupid in the act of sending an arrow to pierce the knight's heart.
How Cupid Became "THE" Symbol for Valentine's Day
(Note: Turn volume down to avoid cheesy music. Site Excerpt:)Cupid has always played a role in the celebrations of love and lovers. He is known as a mischievous, winged child, whose arrows who would pierce the hearts of his victims causing them to fall deeply in love. In ancient Greece he was known as Eros the young son of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty. To the Roman's he was Cupid, and his mother Venus. One legend tells the story of Cupid and the mortal maiden, Psyche. Venus was jealous of the beauty of Psyche, and ordered Cupid to punish the mortal. But instead, Cupid fell deeply in love with her. He took her as his wife, but as a mortal she was forbidden to look at him. Psyche was happy until her sisters convinced her to look at Cupid. Cupid punished her by departing. Their lovely castle and gardens vanished with him and Psyche found herself alone in an open field.
Medieval Holidays: Valentines Day
(Site Excerpt) The foods of love included a wide range of delicacies. Rare roast beef in golden pastry, roasted chestnuts and cream were holiday favorites. The meats and fruits were also considered "foods of love." Decorations in the castle hall included light hangings called "love lanterns." Costumes worn during this time fashioned love ornaments called "love-knot" jewelry and "love sleeves." Entertainment was also an important activity of the festivals. One such "game" was when people were paired with one another for ritual courtship. Games such as "Lady Anne and King William" required selecting a partner who represented a mate for marrying. Love poems, love letters, and love plays honoring St. Valentine were also read and/or performed.
A List of links to stories of medieval romance and tradition.
Chaucer and the Cult of Saint Valentine (Davis Medieval Texts and Studies) by Henry Ansgar Kelly
Valentine and Orson: A Study in Late Medieval Romance by Arthur Dickson
The Book of the Heart from the Middle Ages to the Twenty-First Century by Eric Jager
Sing a Valentine Love Song:
A Bard's Celtic Lyric Directory
91 Popular Lyrics, Chords, MP3s, with Background & some Tab
A List of links to the sheet music and/or lyrics of hundreds of traditional Celtic songs, many of which are very romantic or tragic.
The Medieval Art of Love
by Michael Camille (A Book for Sale)
(Site Excerpt) Medieval lovers and the artists who depicted them viewed love frankly and the art in this book expresses both chaste affection and erotic desire. This is a smaller coffee-table art book published by Abrams (which means excellent color reproduction).
A Medieval Love Story
True-life romance in the 12th-century
(Site Excerpt) He was a brilliant scholar at the University of Paris, charismatic, engaging, and handsome. He drew students like moths to his flame, challenging his masters as well as his peers with scintillating displays of logic. His seemingly unshakable core of self-confidence was justified by his talents for dialectic, teaching, and poetry. His name was Pierre Abelard.She was a rare apparition in the cloister of the Paris cathedral: a young woman, still in her teens, pursuing philosophical studies with no evident desire to take the veil. Though undoubtedly lovely, she was renowned more for her keen mind and her thirst for knowledge than for her beauty. Her name was Heloise.
Andreas Capellanus: The Art of Courtly Love, (btw. 1174-1186)
(Site Excerpt) Marriage is no real excuse for not loving. He who is not jealous cannot love.
No one can be bound by a double love.
It is well known that love is always increasing or decreasing.
That which a lover takes against his will of his beloved has no relish.
Boys do not love until they arrive at the age of maturity.
When one lover dies, a widowhood of two years is required of the survivor.
No one should be deprived of love without the very best of reasons.
Study Guide for Medieval Love Songs
(Site Excerpt) Although modern Western ideas about romantic love owe a certain amount to the classical Greek and Roman past, they were filtered through the very different culture of the European Middle Ages. One can trace the concepts which dominated Western thinking until recently to the mid-12th Century. Before that time, European literature rarely mentions love, and women seldom figure prominently. After that time, within a decade or two, all has changed. Passionate love stories replace epic combat tales and women are exalted to almost god-like status. Simultaneously, the Virgin Mary becomes much more prominent in Catholic devotions, and emotionalism is rampant in religion.
The Enduring Popularity of Courtly Love
(Site Excerpt) Not long after the turn of the first millennium, C.E., a phenomenon known as "courtly love" emerged in medieval Europe. Andreas Capellanus, chaplain to Marie de France and author of the classic The Art of Courtly Love, defined Love as ". . . a certain inborn suffering derived from the sight of and excessive meditation upon the beauty of the opposite sex, which causes each one to wish above all things the embraces of the other and by common desire to carry out all of love's precepts in the other's embrace." Lauded by nobility and idolized by troubadours, the ideal of "pure" love (which included strongly self-deprecating behavior and servitude by a man for a distant, unattainable woman) was a driving force throughout the high period of medieval love literature. From 1100 to 1300 (most intensely in the quarter-centuries before and after 1200), the language of lady love prevailed in the courts of England and Europe.
Romantic Love as Fiction and as Life
By Brother Anthony of Taize (An Sonjae)
Sogang University, Seoul
(Site Excerpt) The Troubadours, poets in the southern part of France, first began to write poems in which the man humbles himself before a woman that he loves with an intense admiration. In these poems, the man offers to become the Lady's servant, to live only for her, if she will only recognize his feelings. There is no question of marriage, often the lady is already married. The main Troubadours are:
Guilhem IX Count of Poitiers and Duke of Aquitaine (1071- 1127) Cercamon (fl. 1135-45)
Bernart de Ventadorn (fl. 1150-1180)
Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine was first queen of France then, after a divorce, became queen of England. Guilhem IX was her grandfather. She encouraged the writing of narrative poems about the problems of intense love in northern France and England. These narratives are called in French 'Romans' - romances. Love is here a unique union and an immense problem at the same time.
Medieval Love LITERATURE
(Site Excerpt) Courtly love (amour courtois or in Proven�l fin'amors) is thought to have developed in the twelfth century in France. Its origins are obscure but it seems to have been influenced both by the Latin love poetry of the clerical schools of the period and by the Arab love songs and poetry which were popular in the courts of Spain where bilingual minstrels flourished. Their work was also known in the courts of southern France where Proven�l was used and where the troubadours flourished throughout the twelfth century. Guillaume IX de Poitou was the first troubadour whose poetry survives. From the troubadours came the concepts of mesure (mezura), prouesse (proezia), courtoisie (cortezia) and jeunesse (joven) which lead to joie (joia)
The Seven Degrees of Love
"The Fifth Degree" Beatrice of Nazareth. (1200-1268)
(Site Excerpt) At times love throws off all restraint, it surges forth with such power and sets the heart beating so fast and furious that it feels wounded through and through, and those wounds are constantly reopened, each day more searing and painful than the last. The veins seem to open, the blood to run out, the marrow to wither.
Rules of Love and Marriage in Medieval and Celtic Culture
(Site excerpt) When someone says the word marriage today we think about two people who are in love and who want to spend the rest of their lives with each other. Marriage is a serious commitment, one that isn't taken lightly for most people. One wouldn't likely marry a stranger they just met for instance. In the Medieval Times, however, marriage was quite different. Women didn't have a choice as to who they would marry. Most of the time they didn't even know the man before they were married. Marriage was different in other ways back then too. There were many reasons a marriage could not take place, and strict rules for whether or not a divorce was allowed. Despite the differences in various aspects of marriage, the marriage ceremony has stayed rather similar over the years. We also carry on some of the same traditions in today's society.
The religion of love: courtly love
(Site Excerpt) Courtly love was not just a literary convention. It was (at least theoretically) a way of life, designed to create a courtier who was a model of wit, passion, and purity. The long tradition of medieval courtly love was revitalized in the Renaissance by Baldassare Castiglione (1478-1529), who served at the court of the Duke of Urbino in Italy -- a court famed for its support of art and learning. His influential handbook of ideal courtly behaviour, Il Cortegiano (The Courtier) was translated into English by Sir Thomas Hoby, one of several fine English translations which made classical and continental works accessible to readers of English.