Andreas Capellanus fl. 12th century-
(Also known as André le Chapelain; Andreas the Chaplain) French prose writer.
Capellanus is best known for his Liber de arte honeste amandi et reprobatione inhonesti amoris (c. 1185; Book of the Art of Loving Nobly and the Reprobation of Dishonorable Love), a Latin treatise on the practice of courtly love. Commonly referred to as De Amore, or The Art of Courtly Love, the work explicitly lays down the rules to be followed while engaged in this adulterous romantic pursuit. Since the book was written at a time when society's attitudes towards women and love were undergoing rapid transformation, it is an important historical document on changing mores. When its logic and rationality are read as satire, as some modern readers have done, the book also constitutes an amusing entertainment.
Virtually nothing is known of Capellanus. While prevailing thought is that he served as chaplain to Countess Marie of Champagne, there is no factual evidence to support the assertion. Some assumptions about his life can be made based on reading De Amore, but even that may lead to faulty conclusions if the book was, in fact, intended to be satirical. Capellanus was certainly well versed in Ovid's writings and critics have demonstrated that he used the Ars Amatoria and the Remedia Amoris as models for his book.
De Amore consists of some two hundred pages and takes the form of a letter of advice from Capellanus to his friend Walter, who is most likely a fictitious creation. The treatise, divided into three parts, sets down the principles of courtly love promoted by Marie and her mother, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine. In the first volume Capellanus explains what love is, its effect, and how to acquire it. He also provides examples of several dialogues between men and women of various classes—for instance between a man and a woman both of the middle class; a man of the higher nobility and a woman of the simple nobility; a man and a woman both of the higher nobility; and other combinations. The examples are intended to provide instruction about how to act suitably in certain social situations. In the second book Capellanus explains how to keep love once one has gained it, how to nourish it, how it can decrease; and how it can end. He addresses the matter of unfaithfulness, and writes about various romantic decisions made by Marie in her legendary Court of Love. Finally he lists thirty-one rules of love. Among them: “He who is not jealous cannot love”; “When made public love rarely endures”; “The easy attainment of love makes it of little value; difficulty of attainment makes it prized”; and, “A new love puts flight to an old one.” In the third book Capellanus explains why everything he has said about love so far should not actually be practiced. He stresses that the point of the previous two volumes was simply to explain the theory of love so that, in refraining from following it, one may gain in God's eyes: “For God is more pleased with a man who is able to sin and does not, than with a man who has no opportunity to sin.”
Barbara Nelson Sargent has studied contemporaneous response to Capellanus's treatise, particularly that of Drouart la Veche, who translated the original Latin prose into vernacular French verse. She contends that Drouart enjoyed the message of the first two books but that critics err when they believe that Drouart found the treatise funny. Not everyone enjoyed the message: the work was condemned in 1277 by Bishop Stephan Tempier on the grounds that it claimed something could be philosophically valid, but conflict with religious principles. Modern scholars disagree on whether the Christian message of the third book is meant to be taken seriously: some believe Capellanus sincerely attempted to harmonize courtly and religious love. Much of the focus of Capellanus studies is on reconciling the third book with the first two. Some critics choose to believe that Capellanus was sincere in the first two books and cynically appended the third book to try to avoid having the preceding ones banned. Ohers think that Capellanus was sincere in the final book; still others posit that he was being ironic; and one group advocates viewing all three books an elaborate humorous exercise. Modern thought regarding this issue leans toward viewing the work ironically. Don A. Monson specifically addresses the issue of irony and how what is meant by that term has changed considerably over the centuries. Catherine Brown embraces De Amore 's contradictory messages and contends that they are teaching devices used by Capellanus to promote intellectual and spiritual development. Besides Capellanus's huge debt to Ovid, critics have traced ideas found in the treatise to Plato and to Ibn Hazm. Andreas's influence on works by Geoffrey Chaucer and Juan Ruiz has been examined by critics Thomas Jay Garbáty and Dorothy Clotelle Clarke, respectively. Scholars including Richard A. Koenigsberg study the treatise for what it reveals about the Court of Love, an institution which continues to fascinate the general public even though the Court may have been no more than a literary creation.
SOURCE: “Andreas Capellanus,” in Three Chapters on Courtly Love in Arthurian France and Germany, The University of North Carolina Press, 1956, pp. 18-25.
[In the following excerpt, Weigand explains how, in De Amore, religious proscriptions against sex yield to the seductive ways of sensual love.]
The Latin treatise,1 composed at the end of the 12th century, is the work of Andreas, a cleric, who refers to himself as the French royal chaplain. Inner evidence shows that he set himself the task of systematizing the conception of Courtly Love championed by Countess Marie of Champagne and her mother, Queen Eleanor. The treatise—some 200 pages in length—takes the form of a letter to his friend Walter, at whose importunings Andreas, putting on a show of reluctance, proceeds to instruct him in all matters concerning love. He goes about his task systematically, beginning with a definition of love and following it up with some further preliminaries. Andreas clearly has a three-part scheme in mind: 1) How to acquire love. 2) How to retain love. 3) Why love should be rejected. But the book did not work out fully according to plan. It spends most of its creative impulse on the first topic, how to acquire love. On the second, how to retain love, Andreas has very little to say. He soon runs out of material and turns to other highly interesting matters which would have called for a major...
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SOURCE: “Some Rational Considerations of Andreas Capellanus,” in Romance Notes, Vol. VIII, No. 1, Autumn, 1966, pp.121-27.
[In the following essay, Frank focuses on the central position of rationality among matters of love debated by Capellanus in De Amore.]
The De Amore of Andreas Capellanus, a middle or later twelfth century document, was probably written under the supervision of Countess Marie of Champagne and the influence of her mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, patroness of the troubadours.1 The De Amore is a primer on the whole of the courtly love relationship. It sets forth twelve and then thirty-one rules of chivalric love. It enumerates various decisions achieved by the ‘courts of love’ and, in a series of dialogues, it presents the necessary modes of entreaty to be used by the suitor.2
Andreas' work pictures the suitor and his lady as desirous of sensual pleasure and impelled by love and the instinct of nature to hold converse.3 Yet within it the mundane or natural is wedded to a host of rational considerations. The rules of love, inherent in nature, can be discovered and interpreted through man's faculty of reason and reason establishes a framework of precept within which the lover and his lady operate. Moreover, in the dialogues of the De Amore the suitor and his lady speak in a generally evaluative and...
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SOURCE: “Culture and Unconscious Fantasy: Observations on Courtly Love,” in The Psychoanalytic Review , Vol. 54, No. 1, Spring, 1967, pp.36-50.
[In the following essay, Koenigsberg analyzes Capellanus’s De Amore in psychological terms, attempting to uncover unconscious conflicts and their effects on the practice of courtly love.]
It is not uncommon nowadays for the literary critic, as he becomes aware that his role as cultural authority is being usurped by the psychiatrist, to embrace the conceptual language of psychoanalysis in his interpretations of literary and historical documents, attempting as it were to integrate the humanistic and the scientific, and in so doing to achieve a richer, more balanced view of man's nature. The result, more often than not, reflects a partial understanding of unconscious dynamics which serves only to distort the non-analytic critical function.
An earlier article in this Journal, Courtly Love: Neurosis as Institution,1 is a case in point. When analytic concepts are used, they are used unsystematically and inappropriately. More to the point, weak sociological explanations are used where dynamic psychological ones are called for. For example, to note only a few instances of this method, the necessity that Courtly Love be adulterous is explained in terms of the fact that, “There were not enough...
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SOURCE: “Andreas Capellanus and the Gate in the Parlement of Foules,” in Romance Notes, Vol. IX, No. 2, Spring, 1968, pp.325-30.
[In the following essay, Garbáty explains how the meaning of a portion of Chaucer's poem Parlement of Foules can be clarified by examining analogous passages by Capellanus. ]
One of the few critical points, in Chaucer's Parlement of Foules, about which all scholars seem to agree is the fact that the poem deals with some aspect of the theme of love. Thereafter historians go one way, the critics another. The interpretation by Charles O. McDonald is among the most interesting and valid of the latter group. The conflict in the Parlement, according to McDonald, is between natural love and courtly love, and this division, which runs through the whole work, is already basically structured by the gate with the two inscriptions before which Geoffrey stands in indecision. “This gate seems to symbolize two distinct kinds of love to be found in the garden; love according to Nature, which promises ever-green joy, and love of a more courtly kind which leads to barren sorrow and despair.”1
Although in general the reasoning in McDonald's theory seems sound, it is unfortunate that this rather essential statement about the gate strikes one as dubious and problematic. Why is it that, if Chaucer gets “shoved” into that...
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SOURCE: “Juan Ruiz and Andreas Capellanus,” in Hispanic Review, Vol. 40, No. 4, Autumn, 1972, pp.390-411.
[In the following essay, Clarke describes how Ruiz's Libro de buen amor satirizes De Amore.]
Two works important in early Romance literature and known by virtually identical titles that mask similar but opposite deceits are the Archpriest Juan Ruiz's Libro de buen amor1 of the early half of the fourteenth century, and Andreas Capellanus's breviary on courtly love now commonly referred to as De arte honeste amandi,2 of approximately a century-and-a-half earlier. Although Juan Ruiz selects his title professedly to honor his bawd (st. 933), his title, like the work itself, has several layers of meaning: on the surface having to do with the troubadours' fin' amor, an idealized type of love constantly refined by unconsummated physical desire, and opposed to fol' amor ( loco amor), lust; below the surface containing other meanings, among them travestied fin' amor, suggested in the prologue as one of the possible uses of the book (that is, to use the precepts of buen amor in order to gain access to opportunity to indulge in loco amor); and beneath this meaning others—and the ultimate lesson to be derived from the reading of the book: that the evil-minded are doomed to frustration, that buen amor emerges...
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SOURCE: “Andreas Capellanus: A Reading of the Tractatus,” in MLN, Vol 88, No. 6, December, 1973, pp.1288-1315.
[In the following essay, Singer contends that Capellanus's rejection of courtly love in the third book of De Amore is made reluctantly, after he has tried and failed to reconcile it with religious love.]
In the modern world many writers have been fascinated by the image of courtly love as a doctrine originating in 12th-century France. If one looks for major texts in that period, however, one finds that they are very few in number. The troubadours of Provence mainly wrote poetry; and though their verse is often philosophical, they made no efforts to codify their views. Theirs is a conglomeration of scattered expressions, diverse ideas. Only in its northern version does French courtly love receive a doctrinal formulation. Even then, there is only one great text: the Tractatus amoris & de amoris remedio, written by Andreas Capellanus around 1185 and condemned by the Bishop of Paris almost a hundred years later.
Andreas' Tractatus is divided into three books: the first, concerned with the nature of love and its acquisition; the second, with the retaining of love; the third, with its elimination and rejection. That Andreas should have ended his treatise by condemning the very ideas that he himself expounds in the earlier books has caused much...
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SOURCE: “A Medieval Commentary on Andreas Capellanus,” in Romania, Vol. 94, 1973, pp.528-41.
[In the following essay, Sargent explores contemporaneous reaction to De Amore, particularly that of Drouart la Vache.]
Modern discussions of the intent and significance of the De amore of Andreas Capellanus are plentiful, as are the interpretations advanced1. Appeals to the testimony of other medieval texts, and to the Church's attitude toward love in general and fin'amors in particular, are not lacking. One cannot, however, read much of this critical literature without noticing that the same works, and indeed the same passages, of the identical authorities are frequently cited to support widely differing interpretations. One notes, too, that many writers called upon to clarify the meaning of this twelfth-century treatise are very distant, either in time or in space, from Andreas, whereas in the case of this contemporaries (or near-contemporaries) and compatriots—those most likely to have read the treatise as its author intended—few allude to his work. Yet there are traces of the response of some medieval French readers to the De amore; and they are at least as deserving of attention as the teachings of the Church Fathers and the lyrics of the troubadours.
It is clear that a number of people in the generation following that of Andreas...
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SOURCE: “The Literary Comedy of Andreas Capellanus,” in Modern Philology, Vol. 72, No. 3, February, 1975, pp.223-37.
[In the following essay, Cherniss explains why De Amore can be interpreted as an ironic response to traditional literary treatments of love and women.]
The earliest recorded information about Andreas Capellanus's De amore indicates that only a century after its composition it elicited widely divergent responses from its readers, and to this day, criticism has failed to produce a harmonious climate of opinion about the work.1 In the thirteenth century, Bishop Stephan Tempier formally condemned it,2 while Drouart la Vache was delighted and amused by it.3 In our century, it has been read as a serious attempt to codify the sociological phenomenon known as “courtly love,” as a philosophical treatise which may or may not be heretical, as a handbook of practical advice for amorous courtiers, as an ironic attack upon the sins of the flesh, and as a clever, distasteful piece of Manichean antifeminism.4 Moreover, in recent years the foundations of hitherto accepted views of its intellectual and social milieu, its audience, and its author have begun to crumble, making it no longer feasible to treat the De amore as a reliable historical or sociological source book—at least, not until one has satisfactorily determined its...
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SOURCE: “Boccaccio and Capellanus: Tradition and Innovation in Arcipreste de Talavera,” in Revista de Estudios Hispánicos, Vol. 12, No. 2, May, 1978, pp.255-74.
[In the following essay, Gerli outlines the indebtedness of Alfonso Martínez de Toledo's Arcipreste de Talavera to Capellanus's De Amore. ]
The principal sources of Arcipreste de Talavera have been identified through the diligence of Erich Von Richthofen.1 However, the importance of the Corbacho, lies not in its literary and folkloric antecedents, but almost exclusively in the original tone, style, and artistry of Alfonso Martínez de Toledo. For over thirty years the German scholar's erudite study has been considered the definitive statement on the work, rather than as it should be, the learned basis upon which new investigations be carried out. Von Richthofen thoroughly established the intellectual and artistic inheritance of Arcipreste de Talavera, describing its place in the didactic literary tradition of the Middle Ages. Nevertheless, as Pedro Salinas wisely points out, “la tradición es la forma más plena de libertad que le cabe a un escritor. Su materia, las obras maestras del pasado, despliegan ante el hombre una pluralidad de actitudes espirituales, de procedimientos de objectivación, de triunfos sobre lo inanimado, de vías de acceso a la realización de la obra, ofrecido...
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SOURCE: “Andreas Capellanus and the Problem of Irony,” in Speculum, Vol. 63, No. 3, July, 1988, pp.539-72.
[In the following essay, Monson critiques assorted ironic interpretations of De Amore and concludes that none of them satisfactorily deals with the work in all of its aspects.]
Among the various controversies surrounding the treatise on love attributed to Andreas Capellanus, none is more vexed than the question of the work's tone. Is the De amore to be taken as a serious, straightforward treatment of its subject, or should it be interpreted, in whole or in part, as humorous or ironic? This question is of crucial importance to our understanding of the work and of its place in medieval literature—hence the considerable interest and passion it has aroused.
A generation ago most scholars were in agreement in taking the work seriously and in viewing it as the earliest and best codification of the love themes of vernacular poetry. Over the last thirty-five years, however, ironic interpretations of the treatise have steadily gained ground, though not without resistance and opposition. Those of us who continue to use the De amore as a ready reference guide to courtly love do so, I suspect, with ever increasing uneasiness, and there must be many others who are simply perplexed.
The situation is further complicated by the fact that there is not...
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SOURCE: “Love as Unlikeness: Andreas Capellanus, Chrétien de Troyes,” in The Literature of Unlikeness , University Press of New England, 1988, pp.73–97.
[In the following excerpt, Dahlberg analyzes the structure of parodic scenes in Capellanus's work, contrasting them with those by twelfth-century French poet Chrétien de Troyes.]
The twelfth century brought not only widespread interest in Dionysian thought and the topic of the land of unlikeness, but also, among many of the same people—particularly the Cistercians and Victorines—a remarkable growth of interest in the subject of love. We find this interest not only among the theologians but also in the vernacular lyric poetry of the troubadours and trouvères, in Andreas Capellanus's Latin prose treatise on love (De amore), and in the newly developing French narrative poetry called roman, “romance,” particularly Arthurian.
The link between love and unlikeness is perhaps obvious enough, but may bear a little detail. In his treatise On the Nature and Dignity of Love, Guillaume de Saint-Thierry emphasizes the natural origin of love from the Author of nature (3; 1953:72), and he describes the two directions that the will may take from this natural state at the junction of the Pythagorean c (cf. Isidore, Etymologiarum … libri XX 1:3:7): toward its origin in the love of God (charity) or, without...
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SOURCE: “Andreas Capellanus's De Amore,,” in The Explicator, Vol.49, No. 4, Summer, 1991, p.198.
[In the following essay, Poole briefly explains why he finds a variant reading of a passage from De Amore more fitting than the traditional reading of that passage.]
In Trojel's variorum edition of Andreas,1 followed by Battaglia2 and Ruffini,3 the eighth of the twelve precepts of love reads: “In amoris praestando et recipiendo solatia omnis debet verecundiae pudor adesse” (Trojel I, VI, D*, p. 106) [Modest bashfulness must be present when love's solaces are given and received]. According to this reading, lovers are exhorted by Andreas to be shamefaced.
Three manuscript texts, however, have the variant abesse [to be absent] instead of adesse [to be present], (v. Trojel's textual notes to the passage), and this is perhaps the correct reading. The manuscripts in which lovers are exhorted not to be bashful are C (Codex Vaticanus), written in Italy, probably in the thirteenth century; E (although possibly the oldest manuscript of De Amore, Trojel found it full of errors and hard to decipher [Trojel 24-25; 49]) and T.
The reading abesse is borne out by two fourteenth-century Italian translations, the “Ricciardiniano 2318” and the “Barberinia-no-Latino 4086,”...
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SOURCE: “Ovid and the Female Voice in the De Amore and the Letters of Abelard and Heloise,” in Modern Philology, Vol. 95, No. 1, August, 1997, pp..1-17.
[In the following essay, Calabrese comments on the female characters in Ovid's works, in Capellanus's De Amore , and in the letters of the lovers Abelard and Heloise, arguing that a true expression of the female voice is absent in De Amore.]
Two twelfth-century Latin works about love, the De Amore of Andreas Capellanus and the Letters of Abelard and Heloise, seem on the surface incomparable. The De Amore offers a parodic, scholastic attack on love, driven by stylized dialogues of seduction and repulse, culminating in a virulent attack on male desire and on women. The correspondence of Abelard and Heloise, by contrast, offers a love story, an epistolary narrative of happiness achieved but then violently torn from the lovers, who are thrown into social scandal and spiritual chaos.1 Despite such gross differences, we may call these two documents of amatory fiction medieval “arts of love,” for they both reflect the tensions that arise when an author becomes a “medieval Ovid” by trying to provide instruction in love.2 Both these works reveal, furthermore, the pressures and strictures put on the female voice and on female identity in a medieval love text. And each of these texts...
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SOURCE: “Sophisticated Teaching: The Double-Talk of Andreas Capellanus,” in Contrary Things: Exegesis, Dialectic, and the Poetics of Didacticism., Stanford University Press, 1998, pp.91–115.
[In the following excerpt, Brown contends that the self-contradictory theme found in De Amore is deliberately used by Capellanus to facilitate the lessons he wishes to teach.]
Safety in numbers!—Fight on, add up the sum of my precepts; Pile up the numerous grains, mountains of counsel arise. But since the ways we react seem to differ as much as our features, Do not trust me too far.
—Ovid, Remedia amoris
Medieval writers learned much of what they knew about the literary doctrina of love from Ovid, a situation that the Roman poet's narrator does everything possible to encourage. The narrator of Ovid's Ars amatoria and Remedia amoris dubs himself quite literally the Master of his subject: “I am Cupid's preceptor” (Ego sum praeceptor Amoris), he boasts, not three breaths into his first book ( Ars 1.17). He says that he can teach anything about love between men and women to both men and women: how to find a woman, how to get her, how to keep her; how to find a man, get a man, keep a man; how to dump him or her and get over it quickly.
Ovid's Ars and Remedia were core texts of the...
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Parry, John Jay. Introduction to The Art of Courtly Love, by Andreas Capellanus, pp. 4-24. New York: Columbia University Press, 1990.
Emphasizes the value of Capellanus’s work for the student of medieval manners.
Zaddy, Z. P. “Definition of Sleep in Andreas Capellanus.” Medium Aevum XXXIV, No. 2 (1965): 129-30.
Explains Capellanus's mistaken attribution of a particular definition of sleep.
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