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Michael Bryson; Arpi Movsesian

Published On


Page Range

pp. 215-294

Print Length

79 pages

6. The Albigensian Crusade and the Death of <i>Fin’amor</i> in Medieval French and English Poetry

This chapter deals with the history of the Albigensian Crusade, especially the siege and slaughter at Béziers in 1209, and the almost immediate turn in the subject matter of poetry that resulted. Beginning with the work of Guilhem Montanhagol, Occitan poetry switched its focus from human love to divine love, redirecting the person-to-person passions of fin’amor to a sublimated and spiritualized eros directed toward the heavens. At the same time, the fashion for highly allegorical treatments of love comes to the fore, most notably in La Roman de la Rose, a 13th-century French poem by two different authors which provides some fascinating insight into the changed dynamics of the post-Crusade environment. From thirteenth-century France, the chapter moves to thirteenth-century England with a consideration of two Romances of the period—Havelok the Dane, and King Horn, arguing that in these works, passionate human love is redirected less toward the heavens and more toward the developing concept of the English nation itself. Finally, the chapter concludes with fourteenth-century England, where Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale and Miller’s Tale are analyzed as a kind of satirical pair, with the Knight’s Tale serving as the ‘courtly’ and allegorical take on love that the Miller’s Tale mocks with merciless hilarity.


Arpi Movsesian