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Müller, Jan-Dirk (2015): Wie christlich ist das Mittelalter oder: Wie ist das Mittelalter christlich? Zum ›Herzmaere‹ Konrads von Würzburg. In: Beiträge zur Geschichte der Deutschen Sprache und Literatur, Vol. 137, No. 3: pp. 396-419


The courtly culture of the Middle Ages integrates Christian values into the ethics of a feudal warrior society. It establishes a hierarchy of norms of behaviour with caritas in the top. Courtly love challenges this harmonious order: On the one hand it is the highest ideal for a courtly knight ennobling him in the service of his lady and discipling his sexual desire, on the other hand it is still dangerous passion, out of the institution of marriage and threatened by corruption and death. The ›Herzmaere‹ of Konrad von Würzburg stresses these contradictory tendencies in a story of an ideal love the symbolic consummation of which is approached to the eucharist and simultaneously denounced it as an act of anthrophagy leading to death. Love even if proved inferior to the Christian order is at the same time affirmed as summum bonum in the courtly world.