Does “chivalric love” have relevance in today’s world regarding romantic relationships? Perhaps the best way to answer the question is to describe chivalric love by stating what it is not. Chivalric love is hardly consigned to the notion of a pre-Renaissance abstraction about brave knights fighting dragons, competing in tournaments, and reciting poetry to beautiful damsels in distress who await their champion to rescue them from evil-doers. It is not about a man’s blind servitude and obsequious obedience to a lady in-waiting; for fear that his failure in succumbing to her whims would destroy the aim of perpetuating a dangerous romance, complicated by the intrigues of courtly-love and its triangular implications.
I view chivalric love as if it were a lens having two sides in which to perceive “love”. Looking through one side has the power to focus on “amore” and the other on “caritas”; the former is associated with worldly manifestations of love; whereas the latter deals with the essence of spiritualized love. Amore trades in the materiality of success; measured by the accumulation of possessions, wealth, power, sex, and money that ignites the passions of men and women to align their interests to attain these ephemeral objects. Caritas on the other hand deals with the ethereality of significance; measured by one’s charity, purpose, consciousness, and awareness that work’s to inflame the souls of men and women in order to align themselves with God, mankind, and one’s self for the achievement of an everlasting spiritual legacy. A successful relationship between a man and a woman is predicated on a just proportion of amore and caritas; and when that occurs chivalric love comes into being.
Many men and women are incessantly encouraged to pursue the path of amore with every intention of pursuing the ideal self, by way of caritas, once material success is attained. However; without caritas, in other words without charity in the chivalric sense, a life can never be perfected because the frenetic pursuit of material success precludes a life from obtaining humanistic significance. Ask yourself, will your material legacy outlast even a generation; or by your chivalric charity, will the significance of your life have an everlasting spiritual legacy? Chivalric love leads with caritas and with it comes amore; and there is no greater opportunity to give expression to chivalric love than with the one you love, your chivalric soul-mate. The purpose of life is not to live it with the precept that when I am successful my life will be significant; rather, when I lead a significant life I will be successful.
In the words of Don Quixote, “Therein lied the virtue and the excellence of my enterprise, for a knight errant deserves neither glory nor thanks if he goes mad for a reason. The great achievement is to lose one’s reason for no reason, and to let my lady know that if I can do this without cause, what would I do if there were a cause?” — Cervantes