Dean of the School: Sir Tristram Langswerd
The School of Courtly Love bases its learning upon ‘The Art of Courtly Love’, penned in the early twelfth century by Andreas Cappelanus (referred to in the following as the A.C.L.)
There are two separate veins of study within the School, the noble art of the Courtly Lover, and the villainous abominations of the Vile Seducers. Progressing through the ranks of the Courtly Lover is a matter of earnest study and performing the tasks as detailed below; to suffer the stigma of being branded a Villain of Courtly Love or worse requires that the miscreant knowingly abuses their knowledge of courtly love and is found guilty of doing so by the Court of Love. It is possible for those so inclined to gain both distinction and detestation by undertaking studies in both criteria.
This document is divided up into sections, as follows:
The Ranks of Courtly Love - an overview of the accomplishments necessary for advancement
The Rules of Curtly Love - the Twelve Great Laws of Courtly Love
The Encounter - an explanation of Encounters within Courtly Love
The Book of Love - an explanation of the Book of Love for the School
The Vile Seducer - revealing the evils of crimes of Courtly Love
The Ranks of Vile Seduction - an overview of the crimes and punishments of Courtly Love
The Court of Love - the procedures of trials of Courtly Love
The person must declare an interest in the art of courtly love and join the school.
The Student of Courtly Love must:
- Be able to recite the twelve Great Laws of Courtly Love from memory before a Master or the Dean of the School.
- Have read the introduction of A.C.L.
The Student may wear the mark of a single white heart.
The Journeyman of Courtly Love must:
- Have completed an Encounter to the School’s satisfaction.
- Have read all the Dialogues in A.C.L.
- Have written a 500+ word essay explaining one of the Dialogues
The Journeyman may wear the mark of two white hearts.
The Master of Courtly Love must:
- Have completed two additional Encounters to the School’s satisfaction
- Have read all of A.C.L.
- Have written a 1000+ word essay on an aspect of Courtly Love
The Master may wear the mark of three white hearts.
- Avoid avarice and embrace its opposite.
- Keep thyself chaste for the sake of your beloved.
- Do not knowingly break up the correct love affair of another.
- Choose no-one for thy love whom a natural sense of shame forbids thee to marry.
- Be mindful to avoid falsehood.
- Keep thy love affair secret.
- Ever strive to ally thyself to the commands and service of Love.
- In giving and receiving love’s solaces let modesty be ever present.
- Speak no evil.
- Thou shalt not be a revealer of love affairs.
- Thou shalt be in all things polite and courteous.
- In practicing the solaces of love thou shalt not exceed the desires of thy lover.
The practical application of the art of courtly love is the Encounter, the discourse between two persons, at least one of whom is practising the Art upon the other. Encounters are recorded in the Book of Love, which is held by the Dean of the School.
All encounters take place between personae, not between real persons! The school holds no responsibility nor encourages romances in the real world.
An Encounter proceeds thus. Both participants, the Lover (the courtly lover) and their Paramour (the object of their desire) sign an agreement (the Tryst) stating that they are both willing for an Encounter to take place. Subsequent to this Tryst being signed, if either wish for the Encounter to cease, they have merely to make this formally known to the Dean of the School, who will annul the Tryst and end the Encounter. If both participants are Lovers, they may consider each other as their Paramour and each perform Tasks to claim the Encounter as their own.
Each Lover must perform at least three Tasks to the satisfaction of the School and their Paramour Once sufficient Tasks have been successfully performed to consider the encounter complete, it is ended at the participants’ discretion in one of the prescribed manners (see later)
The three Tasks that a Courtly Lover must successfully complete for their Paramour must each be performed at a Far Isles event; only one task may be performed by any Lover at any one event. Unless specifically stated, Tasks need not (and indeed in most cases should not) be publicly displayed. In order for a task to be successful, it must be accepted by the Paramour. This is the truest and greatest test of any Task!
Tasks are chosen from the following selection, although other Tasks of merit may be allowed at the Dean’s discretion:
- Write and declare a poem or song of at least eight lines to your Paramour. This may or may not be performed in public; if so, it is customary to keep the identity of the intended recipient secret (unless the Paramour chooses otherwise)
- Compose and send a letter to your Paramour which contains a declaration of love (saying that the Paramour is the object of the lover’s admiration), a declaration of intent (which states the ultimate desires of the Lover towards his Paramour and must be in keeping with the ideals of Courtly Love), and a comparison of praise (praising the Paramour by comparing them to something of great worth, virtue or beauty).
- Wear a favour given by a Paramour into combat in a tourney or duel, or give such a favour to a fighter so that they may do so. It should be noted that if the fighter wins the combat, all honour and titles won are passed to this Paramour. Similarly, if the combat is lost, the dishonour is likewise shared. Therefore, if the fighter loses the combat, the Paramour is likely to view this as a failed Task and there may be repercussions for all concerned!
- Complete a difficult deed given by the Paramour to their satisfaction. This deed should display some worthy quality of the Lover, e.g. honour, humility, self-sacrifice.
- Give a gift suitable to the rank of the Paramour, which must be accepted. Suitable gifts are:
Any desired item; a handmade article; a kiss
Jewellery of common material, e.g. carved wood, bronze; a garment or bolt of common cloth; a plot of arable land or dwelling, spices
Jewellery of a precious metal, a fine garment or bolt of expensive cloth; livestock, servants, expensive spices.
Expensive jewellery, a garment or bolt of very expensive and fine cloth, a pedigree pet suitable to the Paramour’s rank, e.g. a fine horse or hawking bird; a village.
Exquisite jewellery, the finest garments or bolts of rare cloth; fabulous animals, a manor, rare and precious items.
All Tasks must be made known to the Dean of the School to qualify.
The Book of Love is a record of all matters of the School of Courtly Love. It is divided into four sections; the Pillars of Love, the Souls of Love, the Works of Love and the Fate of Love.
The Pillars of Love includes the rules of the School, as well as copies of all essays and articles written by the School.
The Souls of Love contains a separate section for each member of the School, known as their Record. Within this is noted the history of the person’s ranks, including a list of all deeds and Tasks that they performed to complete each rank, and a copy of each of their completed Encounters.
The Works of Love contains sections for each outstanding Encounter, including the Tryst and all deeds and Tasks completed or failed. Similarly, each trial of the Court of Love is stored here with all ‘evidence’, i.e. all tasks and deeds pertaining.
The Fate of Love is where all completed Encounters are stored. It is sub-divided into four sections, Love in Heaven, Love in Hell, Love in Purgatory and the Crimes of Love
- ‘Love in Heaven’ contains all Encounters that ended ‘successfully’, i.e. in marriage or other happy conclusion.
- ‘Love in Hell’ contains all Encounters that failed to be completed. If an Encounter was ended by virtue of the desire of a person out of character, they may ask for the Encounter to be thrown away rather than kept.
- ‘Love in Purgatory’ contains all Encounters that ended ‘unsuccessfully’, i.e. not in marriage or some similar happy conclusion. The majority of Encounters will end here, as marriage is invariably the end to a person’s career in the School.
- ‘The Crimes of Love’ contains all Trials of the Court of Love that led to a ‘conviction’, including all evidence and relevant Encounters.
When a person joins the School, a Record is created for them and placed within the Souls of Love. When they acquire a rank these details, along with all written material completed for the task, are kept here.
When a student begins an Encounter, the Tryst is copied and the copy kept with their Record while the original goes into the Works of Love. As the Encounter progresses, these are updated.
When the Encounter is completed or failed, the original is moved from the Works of Love into the relevant section of the Fate of Love.
If the encounter is completed in an unbecoming fashion, it is declared to be ‘in abhorrence of the School’ and forms evidence for a Trial.
When a Trial is completed, the details are kept in the Crimes of Love subsection.
The purposes of the Courtly Lover are to reach a purified form of love free from all earthly taints. Such aims are admirable and excellent, but there are those who would wish to sully this path and use it as a means to further their licentious and ungodly appetites. Those contemptible few are known as Vile Seducers, and when discovered they are swiftly brought to trial before the Court of Love and their crimes made public for the vilification of these blackguards and the protection of the innocent.
Within the School, one may pursue an alternative path, that of the Vile Seducer. This is an approach that underscores the qualities of courtly love by means of negative comparison. Where the Courtly Lover seeks to worship their beloved from afar with a pure and unsullied adoration, the Vile Seducer tries to gain as much personal pleasure from his victim as possible under the assumed guise of courtly love.
The Ranks of Vile Seduction
Technically, there are no Apprentices within the Vile Seducers, but in order to acquire higher ranks, the person must have joined the School. Therefore, the person must join the school as an Apprentice of Courtly Love.
The Villain of Courtly Love must:
- Be able to recite a corruption of the twelve Commandments of Courtly Love from memory before a Master or the Dean of the School. These corruptions should show more imagination that, for instance, simply inserting the word ‘not’ into each sentence.
- Have read the introduction of A.C.L.
A Villain must wear the mark of a single black heart
The Seducer of Courtly Love must:
- Have completed an Encounter to the abhorrence of the School and the Court of Love.
- Have read all the Dialogues in A.C.L.
- Have written a 500+ word essay declaring the invalidity one of the Dialogues and suggesting a plausibly seditious alternative
The Seducer must wear the mark of two black hearts
Vile Seducer/Seductress (Master):
The Vile Seducer must:
- Have completed 2 further Encounters to the abhorrence of the School and the Court of Love
- Have read all of A.C.L and publicly denounced it.
- Have written a 1000+ word essay on seduction in Courtly Love
The Vile Seducer must wear the mark of three black hearts
The Court of Love is the jury by which a Courtly Lover is judged should they be accused of actions contrary to the purposes of the School – the Trial. It is the means for advancement within the ranks of the Vile Seducers.
The Court is made up of a jury of worthies from the Society, at least three and not more than seven, such persons being chosen from amongst the most upstanding, noble and wise present. They do not have to be members of the School, although this would be a favourable qualification.
If a member of the School is accused of actions against the principles of the School of Courtly Love, they are brought to public trial before this Court and the judgement of the Court of Love determines their fate within the School.
Procedures for the Trial are as follows:
The jury of the Court assemble and are seated in a line. The accused is brought in to stand facing the jury, and the charges against them are read out by a Master or the Dean of the School, acting as the arbiter of the court. The Arbiter then presents the evidence – the deeds and Tasks completed to gain the next rank of Vile Seduction. The Accused is then given a chance to defend themselves against the charges. Witnesses may be called by either the accused or the jury.
Once all witnesses have been called and the jury is satisfied that they have heard enough evidence by which to judge the case, they signal the Arbiter and the court is silenced. The jury is given a few minutes to confer, if necessary in private, during which time the court may be adjourned if so desired.
The jury then gives its judgement as to whether the Accused is Guilty or Not Guilty. If guilty, they are denounced before the Court, and given a title according to the ranks of Vile Seduction (see previous) and a ‘mark of dishonour’ given. This procedure represents the equivalent of an award ceremony for gaining rank within the other Far Isles subgroups.
This proclamation is then repeated by the Heralds before the populace at the next Far Isles court.
If the Trial results in a ‘conviction’, the record is kept along with all evidence for record, and is placed in the Book of Love in the Crimes of Love section.