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The Penn Press list for spring 2021 includes hardcover releases, first-time paperbacks, and ebook editions intended for scholars, students, and serious general readers worldwide. Click here to explore our forthcoming books, grouped by subject area.

Love in Twelfth-Century France

John C. Moore

176 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
Ebook 2016 | ISBN 9781512804669 | Buy from De Gruyter $79.95 | €69.95 | £70.50
This book is available under special arrangement from our European publishing partner De Gruyter.
An Anniversary Collection volume

"Gives us a view of the pulsating life of twelfth-century France by a perceptive study of one of the topics that absorbed the most energy of that age, and of our own—love."—Cistercian Studies
"Great is the force of love, wondrous is its strength. Many are the degrees of love . . . and who can worthily distinguish among them?" cried the twelfth-century cleric, Richard of St. Victor. What relationships, human and divine, are appropriate to this protean creature, man with his great gifts and imperative appetites? The different answers given this question by the monks and scholars, the courtly poets and bawdy ballad writers of medieval France form the substance of hits graceful and perceptive book, written for student and general reader alike. And while the conventions of love among twelfth-century Frenchmen differ from our own, their efforts to comprehend its true meaning and nature have a very contemporary relevance.

France in the twelfth century was a bustling country of expanding economic and social horizons, with a thirst for knowledge that stimulated far-ranging intellectual inquiry. The great classical writers, the Greek and Roman Fathers of the early Church, the Old and New Testaments: such were the sources upon which French scholars drew.

For the great monastic writers, love was a spiritual value, achieved through unending effort and discipline. The poets of the courts, on the other hand, celebrated erotic love in a setting of elaborate romance. Only the scholars of the new urban universities sought to integrate love into a coherent explanation of man and the universe. The writings of all these—Abelard and Bernard of Clairvaux, William of Poitiers and Andreas Capellanus—have in one way or another greatly enriched our Western traditions.

Drawing upon a wealth of original sources and an abundant scholarly literature, John C. Moore has provided, in his own words, "a pleasant meeting-place' for twelfth-century men and women and for modern readers, who share a common humanity and a common interest in love.

John C. Moore is Professor Emeritus of History at Hofstra University.

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