“Dame Amour” – French personification of courtly love

“Dame Amour” was a personification of courtly love in medieval texts, especially by the French troubadours and trouvères, who were poets and singers who celebrated love. They often addressed their beloved or the concept of love as Dame Amour, a female figure who represented the ideal of courtly love. She was sometimes associated with the Virgin Mary, who was seen as the model of love and grace.

William IX, Duke of Aquitaine, who was the first known troubadour and the creator of courtly love, was the first person to use the phrase Dame Amour.  He used this term to refer to his mistress, who was also his son’s wife. He wrote many poems dedicated to her, praising her beauty and grace.

One example of the personification of Dame Amour appears in the poem “Lanquan li jorn” by the troubadour Jaufre Rudel (1140), who expresses his longing for a distant lady whom he has never seen. He says:

Lanquan li jorn son lonc en mai m’es belhs dous chans d’auzelhs de lonh, e quan mi sui partitz de lai oblit mon chan e mon solonh; e quan mi sui partitz de vos no’m laissetz ges de chant ni de ris, que ja mais no’m chantet d’Amors ni de sa belha cortesia.

When the days are long in May I love the sweet song of the birds from afar, and when I have left there I forget my song and my joy; and when I have left you you leave me no song or laughter, for never again will d’Amors sing to me or of her beautiful courtesy3

Here, “Amors” is a feminine noun that refers to both the emotion of love and the personification of “Dame Amour”, who is the source of the poet’s inspiration and happiness. He laments that he has lost her favor and her song, which implies that she is a musical and divine being who can communicate with him.

Religious scholar Joseph Campbell tells that Dame Amor was also worshipped as a goddess in neighbouring Germany under the name Minne:

The minnesingers of Germany received the tradition of love from the troubadours. They are of a slightly later generation, but as always in the German sphere they found a depth in these themes that the French had failed to recognize. They recognized that this power of amor was indeed divine. It wasn’t simply a secular thing but contained the compulsion of the goddess. The word Minne in German is a reference to this kind of love, and minnesinger means “singer of love.” The greatest of all these poets was Walter von der Vogelweide, a delightful figure whose poetry is simply delicious. Walter speaks of the goddess Minne in her power, in her majesty, and so here you’re on the brink of a religion of love. This religion of love was actually rendered most powerfully, I would say, in the Tristan of Gottfried von Strassburg. Gottfried’s poem was left incomplete when he died in 1210. In this story, the potion that Tristan and Iseult drink represents the breakthrough of compulsive love.4


[1]: God and the Goddesses: Vision, Poetry, and Belief in the Middle Ages
[2]: The Mirror of Simple Souls: The Ethics of Margaret Porette [2013]
[3]: Lanquan li jorn son lonc en mai | Robbins Library Digital Projects : Jaufre Rudel | Detailed Pedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libeaus_Desconus
[4]: Romance Of The Grail: Magic And Mystery Of Arthurian Legend

Note: Dame Amour (French) and Lady Love (English) represent the equivalent of the German Frau Minne, with each being the same personification and “goddess” of courtly love, but under a different title. This kind of love is a medieval invention which has no counterparts in the classical and ancient world.