Widely popular in Europe throughout the Middle Ages, the phenomenon of courtly love is said to have had its origins with the troubadours of the eleventh century. In its true sense it referred to a stylised and idealistic
relationship between a knight and his lady, which was motivated by the aims of chivalry and required by convention to be unrequited, the real reward of the knight's devoted service being an educational one. Such courtly liaisons became a powerful force in shaping the literature of the day, in particular through their significant contribution to the ever popular tales of romance and chivalry. Courtly Love in Medieval Manuscripts describes this phenomenon against a backdrop of the romantic interests and " real life " relationships of medieval society. It is illustrated throughout with images of romantic love, knights in shining armour and other scences of chivalry from illuminated manuscripts in the collections of The British Library.