Bella Domna - The medieval woman: Lover, poet, patroness & saint

Bella Domna - The medieval woman: Lover, poet, patroness & saint



The Provençal Domna (courtly lady) was worshipped as an unobtainable lover or noble patroness. She had all the virtues of beauty and fine courtesy as well as being from a higher social sphere than her humble, lovelorn knight. In reality women suffered extreme discrimination. For St Jerome she was the gate of the devil; for Aquinas a necessary object needed to preserve the species and to provide food and drink. Her elevated status in the poetry of courtly love was a result of the artistic sophistication cultivated during the later twelfth century—a time when, in Occitania, women obtained increased territorial and governing powers. Eleanor of Aquitaine ruled from 1170 at Poitiers, where she established her court as an influential centre for Troubadour song and, together with other patrons such as Marie de Ventadorn, began to play a crucial role in its development and diffusion. The prevailing sentiments of l’amour courtois are encapsulated within the single surviving stanza of the dansa Domna, pos vos ay chausida.

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