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Courtly love found its expression in the lyric poems written by troubadours, such as William IX, Duke of Aquitaine (1071–1126), one of the first troubadour poets.

Poets adopted the terminology of feudalism, declaring themselves the vassal of the lady and addressing her as midons (my lord), which had the dual benefits of both allowing the poet to use a code name (so as to avoid having to reveal the lady's name) and at the same time be flattering by addressing her as his lord.

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Sexual satisfaction, Paris said, may not have been a goal or even end result, but the love was not entirely Platonic either, as it was based on sexual attraction. Lewis wrote The Allegory of Love further solidifying courtly love as a "love of a highly specialized sort, whose characteristics may be enumerated as Humility, Courtesy, Adultery, and the Religion of Love".

The term and Paris's definition were soon widely accepted and adopted. in the 1970s, were critical of the term as being a modern invention, Donaldson calling it "The Myth of Courtly Love", because it is not supported in medieval texts.

Its interpretation, origins and influences continue to be a matter of critical debate.

in his 1883 article "Études sur les romans de la Table Ronde: Lancelot du Lac, II: Le conte de la charrette", a treatise inspecting Chretien de Troyes's Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart (1177).

Paris said amour courtois was an idolization and ennobling discipline.

The lover (idolizer) accepts the independence of his mistress and tries to make himself worthy of her by acting bravely and honorably (nobly) and by doing whatever deeds she might desire, subjecting himself to a series of tests (ordeals) to prove to her his ardor and commitment.

Even though Paris used a term with little support in the contemporaneous literature, it was not a neologism and does usefully describe a particular conception of love and focuses on the courtliness that was at its essence.

Richard Trachsler says that "the concept of courtly literature is linked to the idea of the existence of courtly texts, texts produced and read by men and women sharing some kind of elaborate culture they all have in common".

This kind of love is originally a literary fiction created for the entertainment of the nobility, but as time passed, these ideas about love changed and attracted a larger audience.

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