Antonio Canova, birds mating on February 14th, courtly love, Ellesmere Chaucer, Geoffrey Chaucer, Huntington Library, Roman de la Rose, Valentine's Day
Antonio Canova (1 November 1757 – 13 October 1822)
More on Valentine’s Day
You will find below, among related articles, a post that tells about the origin of Saint Valentine’s Day. It’s the final and rather amusing post in a short series of posts on St Valentine’s Day. We’ve discussed the Lupercalia, pastorals, préciosité, pancakes, etc., and all these posts are related to Valentine’s Day.
For Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1343 – 25 October 1400), the 14th of February was the day when birds mated. It’s a lovely legend. Othon III de Grandson devoted a third of his poems on stories surrounding St Valentine’s Day.
Moreover, Chaucer was familiar with the French courtly love tradition as he had translated, but not in its entirety, the Roman de la Rose, by Guillaume de Lorris, who wrote the first 4058 lines circa 1230.The poem was completed by Jean de Meun who composed an additional 17,724 lines. Chaucer’s Romaunt of the Rose is included in his Legend of Good Women, a poem.
The six tapestries of The Lady and the Unicorn are also associated with Valentine’s day and Chaucer. They were commissioned by Jean le Viste, described as a “powerful nobleman at the court of Charles VII” (22 February 1403 – 22 July 1461). (See The Lady and the Unicorn, Wikipedia.) The tapestries belong, in part, to the courtly love tradition. Only a virgin could capture a unicorn, which suggests platonic love. However, the horn of the unicorn is a phallic symbol.
As for cards, the first was written by a saint and martyr. According to Britannica, “[f]ormal messages, or valentines, appeared in the 1500s, and by the late 1700s commercially printed cards were being used.”[i] They became popular in the 19th century.
Concerning Charles d’Orléans, he was taken prisoner at the Battle of Agincourt, on 25 October 1415, and spent twenty-five years in England. After he returned to France, he helped disseminate Othon III de Grandson’s Valentine stories in courtly circles.
We have several incunables (books printed between 1450 and 1501) combining the printed text and illuminations. They cannot be shown in this blog if it is to posted on or near 14 February 2013. Chaucer’s Tales of Canterbury is an incunable printed by William Caxton, a fascinating gentleman. But the Ellesmere Chaucer is a famous illuminated manuscript, housed in the Huntington Library, in San Marino, California. (See Ellesmere Chaucer, Wikipedia.)
- The Golden Legend Revisited
- Chaucer & Valentine’s Day (michelinewalker.com)
- Valentine’s Day: Martyrs and Birds (michelinewalker.com)
- Charles d’Orléans: Portrait of an Unlikely Poet (michelinewalker.com)
- The Lady and the Unicorn: the Six Senses (michelinewalker.com)
- The Lady and the Unicorn: a Tapestry (michelinewalker.com)
[i] “Valentine’s Day.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2013. Web. 14 Feb. 2013.
It’s great to read how everything links together, as if in another new tapestry. Just for fun here is a link to an exhibition that is on in our city at the moment http://christchurchartgallery.org.nz/exhibitions/a-caxton-miscellany-the-caxton-press-193358/ It features the name of Caxton!
I had no idea about Chaucer and the birds mating! Another wonderful romp round Valentine lore!
It’s probably a very old story, but it was in an oral tradition. Chaucer wrote the story down and it at that moment that people started to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Chaucer is extraordinary. Thank you Kate and best regards, Micheline