RE103 Lecture Notes - Lecture 11: Courtly Love, Sir Kay, Thomas Malory

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2 Aug 2016
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Lesson Eleven: Courtly Love
1. Dfdsf
Lancelot and Guinevere: The Love Affair Through The Ages
any work of literature result from many different influences and inspirations, but all
pieces of literature are produced b y two distinct sources
author himself
society in which the author lives
author and route is intuitive, but role of society in the crafting of a piece of literature is
less obvious
premise: no person who has ever lived in a society is completely independent of its
influences
influence varies but trends, philosophies, technologies and moralities of any historical
period all have significant impact on the way in which people live during that period
sometimes influence encourages divergence from norm or adherence
break free and think independently
or.. strict sameness in it’s citizens
Therefore, some aspect of Author’s society will be in the story
Christien de Troyes “The Knight of the Cart”
write around year 1170
subject was not on his own choosing but rather of his patroness
“subject matter and meaning are furnished and given him by the counties”
Marie de Champagne of France was the daughter of Eleanor of Aquitaine
(Queen of France during early 12th century)
Eleanor and Louis VII divorced, so she married Henry Plantagenet (later, King
Henry II)
Eleanor had a lot of power and influence because she was 2 different queens in
her lifetime, she was able to react the artistic works that were written in her court
fond of works of traveling minstrels (called troubadours) because they
romanticized and glorified women, waxing poetic on their beauty and
charms
Eleanor was responsible for creation of medieval romance
Marie, followed her mother’s example, supporting her own legion of courtly
writers and courtly lovers at her home in Champagne
Christien was one of the writers
Christien’s Knight of the Cart begins with challenge form mysterious and evil knight from distant
lands
challenges Arthur to send best knight for a joust
If strange is victorious, he claims Guinevere, but if he loses, he’ll return hostages safely
to Camelot
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Sir Kay begs king for this honour to be granted Queen’s champion, but he loses,
therefore losing the queen
Sir Gawain heard the news and immediately offers to go save her
mysterious knight joins Sir Gawai who turns out to be Lancelot
Lancelot rides his horse to death on the way to the Queen and Gawai overtakes him on
a cart driven by a dwarf
riding in back of cart was punishment for criminals
Lancelot hesitates a few seconds, but accepts Dwarfs offer in the end
Dwarf knows where Queen has been taken and presents the two with two paths
One path is under water bridge (Gawain takes this path)
2nd path is sword bridge path (lancelot)
Lancelot is in love with Guinevere
Lancelot bests Melegant (mysterious knight who stole her) and Guinevere rejects
Lancelot because of the 2 seconds he hesitated before boarding the cart
in the end they reunite, cause they thought one of them died and then without
each other they would rather die
Guinevere is returned to the court, but the wicked Meleagant still wishes for a final battle
with Lancelot
Battle was set to take place in Arthur’s court, requires both jousters to be present on an
appointed day, lest they forfeit
Melegant plots to capture Lancelot and wall him up in a tower so he can’t make it but
Elegant’s sister (enraged), rescues returns Lancelot to court.
Lancelot beats Melegant and Melegant dies
Notes on this ver
12th century was age of courtly lovers, especially powerful ladies
Lancelot proves to be greatest courtly lover in this story
eg: Lancelot finds his token on the way to the sword bridge (comb with strands of
Guinevere's golden hair) and he gives the comb to maiden he rides, but the hair
he keeps, carrying it under his armor against his heart
happy with this token ; he wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world
Idea of adulterous relationship between Lancelot and Guinevere comes from courtly love
Adreas Capellanus’s Art of Courtly Love (written for Marie de Champagne_, a series of
love trials bring a case before in which she is asked whether love can exist between
married people
marie; no true love can exist in that case; meaning courtly lovers had to engage in
adulterous relationships if they ever wished to enjoy the fruits of love
idea of a relationship between Lancelot and Guinevere (which Marie invented
herself) reflects the opinion of 12th century courtly love society; an adulterous
relationship is normal by their standards
Critics argue that Troyes was quite displeased with Patronesses choice of subjects for
this piece
● evidence:
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Christien didn’t finish work himself; handed it to another writer in his blessings
Throughout piece, Lancelot constantly gets tricked and bested by his antagonists
made to believe Guinevere is dead
trapped in stone tower before final fight
intro of piece is almost an apology
says patroness, not the writer is the source of the story’s subject
Troyes may have been displeased by adulterous relationship Marie had envisioned
therefore didn’t want to write the piece
may be because of the church
church is not pleased with infidelity between people in the 12th century
marriage was failing, to save it, church took action (made it out to be a sin)
added marriage to list of sacraments; when people marry it’s not just a legal
bond, it’s a contract written before the lord
Sir Thomas Malory’s Morte d’Arthur
Most important version of Arthurian legends ever to be written
published in 1485, survived as one of the most complete versions of Arthurian legend
Affair between Guinevere and Lancelot is one of the driving forces towards Arthur's
decline and fall at the end of the piece
Author is unknown, but at the end of the work he says he’s Thomas Malory, Knight
completed at end of ninth year of the reign of King Edward IV of England, therefore
piece is either 1469 or 1470
Edward IV
head of the house of York
came into throne after War of Roses
married a commoner
displeased with nobles at his court, and attempted to replace them with more
commoners, recently raised to noble positions
angered nobles, overthrown in 1470, came back into power in 1471 until 1483
Socially, days of feudalism drew to a close (no more master and servant classes, lines were not
as extreme)
knights still existed, but after Hundred Years War (1453) they started to fade away
archers could kill them by the hundreds which ended their title as most powerful and elite
soldiers in Kingdom’s arsenal
by 15th century, nobles were pushing for earlier noble days
peasants slowly paved way for the bourgeoisie to form in the following centuries
only power that remained constant was the church (until Protestant Reformation)
Story
Lancelot performs many chivalrous deeds in Guinevere’s name
weaves in and out of favour with her throughout - the story
Lancelot was not only a lover, he was a fighter
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