Lancelot: Or, the Knight of the Cart

Courtly love

Courtly love was coined by the medievalist Gaston Paris in 1883 to help understand the relationship between Lancelot and Guinevere in Lancelot, The Knight of the Cart. Alexander J. Denomy describes courtly love as, “…a type of sensual love and what distinguishes it from other forms of sexual love, from mere passion… is its purpose or motive, its formal object, namely, the lover's progress and growth in natural goodness, merit, and worth”(44).[2] In the Knight of the Cart, Lancelot has become entranced by Guinevere and in more ways than [3] one, is ruled by her. As the queen, Guinevere maintains power over the kingdom as well as Lancelot. When Meleagant questions their love and her adultery to the king, Lancelot challenges Meleagant to a battle to protect Guinevere’s honor. Lancelot has no shame in showing his affair with the queen, “Lancelot’s love explodes into romance without any beginning revealed or end foretold, fully formed and symbolized by the extraordinary fullness of his heart” (Lacy). This introduction of the love affair between Guinevere and Lancelot appears in many other stories after this poem was written.

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