De AmoreDe Amore (The Art of Courtly Love) was a guide written for use at court.  It laid out the social system of “courtly love”. Some scholars believe it may have alluded to non-ejaculatory intercourse/intimacy. Translation and commentary below original text.


De Amore by Andreas Capellanus 

Car en cest monde puet avoir
Double amour, ce dois tu savoir
La premiere est pure apelee
Et la seconde amour mellee.
Cil qui s’entraiment d’amour pure
Dou delit de la char n’ont cure
Ains wellent sanz plus acoler
Et baisier sanz outre couler.
Et tele amour est vertueuse,
Ne n’est a son proime greveuse.
De tele amour vient grant proece
Et Diex gaires ne s’en courece.
Et tele amour puet maintenir,
Sans li por grevee tenir,
Pucele et fame mariee,
Et nonnain a Dieu dediee

English translation

For in this world there may exist
a double form of love,
and this you must know.
The first is called ‘pure love’
and the second ‘mixed love’.
Those who share ‘pure love’
pay no heed to the work of the flesh
but want merely to embrace and to kiss
each other without going any further.
And such a form of love is virtuous
and is not harmful to one’s neighbour.
From such a form of love springs great prowess
and God is hardly angered at it.
And such a form of love can be practised,
without the woman feeling afflicted,
by virgin and married woman,
and nun devoted to God.


Scholars Danielle Jacquart, Claude Thomasset and Matthew Adamson explain:

We have deliberately given a literal translation. There is another way of understanding the line ‘Et baisier sanz outre couler’: one can, of course, read ‘Make love without ejaculating’ or more exactly ‘without shedding anything more than the secretion of the prostatic humour’.

In the line ‘Ne n’est a son proime greveuse’, the adjective greveuse has been interpreted as meaning ‘harmful’, but it must have the meaning ‘capable of causing pregnancy’. ‘Being pregnant’ is a well-known meaning of the past participle.

It can now easily be understood why virgins, married women and nuns can indulge in this form of love without considering themselves to be ‘grevée’ — harmed, or made pregnant. The meaning of this passage appears to us to be most explicit. (emphasis added).

[See p. 5 of this excerpt from  Sexuality and Medicine in the Middle Ages]

Mexican poet Octavio Paz wrote in his book Conjunctions and Disjunctions that:

Asang was one of the degrees of “courtly love” in which the lovers went to bed together naked, but did not consummate the sexual act. (Cf. L’Erotique des troubadours, by René Nelli [Toulouse, 1963]. Nelli sees this as a transposition and a purification of the chivalrous “proof of love.”

Also see