Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Courtly love, an ideal whereby a man of impeccable taste and behavior could love an unattainable lady of equal impeccability -- chastely, passionately, truly -- developed in France in the 12th century, particularly under the patronage of the indefatigable Eleanor of Aquitane (queen to two kings, mother of two kings). 

Courtly love was expressed most strongly in the love songs of the troubadors and minnesangers.  The Manesse Codex, written 1300-1315  in Zurich and housed in Heidelberg University, is the most famous collection of these songs.  It is a representation of work by 140 poets writing in the Middle High German lyric tradition.  Its reknown is based largely on the 138 colored illuminations which show the songs' authors doing courtly activities.

You can see all 138 of these pictures on the first web page listed below.  Go to the button that says "Table of Contents" to access them.  The second site describes an upcoming exhibition in Heidelberg of the manuscript.

Manesse: Die Mansesseche Liederhandschrift, 1300-1315

The Codex Manesse and the Discovery of Love - Communications and Marketing - H

(You can see, on the second web page, the original of my adaptation above which shows the minnesanger Konrad von Altstetten.)

The illustrations have a slightly cartoonish feel to them which has made it interesting to adapt them to cross-stitch patterns.  I have done this with 4 of the pictures, adding some Latin and creating, for the most part, my own color schemes, although the originals use primary colors, too.