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SHOW ME THE LOVE: Chivalric Love

Pamela Jaye Smith and Monty Hayes McMillan gives tips on writing chivalric love to deeply engage your audience in the kind of romance that changes lives.

From the book SHOW ME THE LOVE! All Kinds of Love for All Kinds of Stories by Pamela Jaye Smith & Monty Hayes McMillan.

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Got Love? Got enough Love? Got the right kind of Love?

No matter your writing genre or style, a good story needs some kind of Love to engage us emotionally.

Too often people think Love is just the romantic or sexual kind. But wait – there’s more.

Love of adventure, land, community, family, friends, warrior bonding, love of pets, love of learning, love of death and destruction, interspecies love, transformative chivalric love….

These articles explore the mythical and psychological aspects of different types of love, plus suggestions for the Shining Moment, Cinematic Techniques, and Symbols.

Lancelot + Guinevere

Join us for a journey through many different kinds of love that can enrich your characters, compel your plots, and move your audience. The last article was on Love of Adventure; this one is about Chivalric Love.


“Chivalric Love”

A true lover would rather be deprived of all his money and of everything
that the human mind can imagine as indispensable to life rather than
be without love, either hoped for or obtained.
The Art of Courtly Love - Andreas Cappellanus

Aspiring to something one cannot have often results in great works of art and humanitarianism. The chosen beloved cannot be had, but that yearning can become fuel for creativity. It’s the Muse factor. Yes, sometimes the lovers do actually have sex, but often the “pure love” is more powerful than if the energy were drained away in a regular relationship.

This type of love is slaying dragons and saving virgins. It is about being all that you can be, and more.

Its steps include yearning, surrender, and redemption – all with passionate, pure, unconditional love.

The Psychology

Some systems propose that human consciousness evolves through three levels: 1) tribal, 2) individual, and 3) group. Non-thinking reactionaries bound to restrictive codes and bent on destroying or being isolated from any others are examples of 1) and you can see plenty of them in the conflicts around the globe today.

America, like Periclean Greece, Minoan Crete, and other advanced cultures where individuals had rights are given as examples of 2). The downside of American individualism is lack of community, caring, and service to others in the interest of the self.

Level 3) is the ideal put forth in many utopian stories. It is about community, collaboration, and a benign interdependence. Chivalric Love inspires and trains people for this level as well as affording them a fantastic romantic experience.

Examples in Myth and Legend

Aphrodite/Venus – the Greco-Roman goddess of higher love, true beauty, and passionate romance. As opposed to her son Eros/Cupid, the childish, fun, saucy god of sex and light romance.

Hindu deity king Rama crowns his queen Sita with flowers.

Hindu deity king Rama crowns his queen Sita with flowers.

Aphrodite embodied the ideals of femininity beauty and passion. This laughter-loving goddess was irresistible and inspired lovers of all sorts...gods, demi-gods, and mortals.

Living up to the standards of the goddess Aphrodite required strength, passion, and the effort to better yourself in order to be worthy of her.

Camelot and the Knights of the Round Table. The love triangle of King Arthur, Guinevere, and Lancelot. Unfortunately, Lancelot and Guinevere did not uphold the laws of chivalry. They dropped from Aspirational Solar Plexus to the Sacral chakra. They should not have had sex, but because they did, the whole kingdom fell apart. It’s a great example of what happens when Chivalric Love fails to live up to its own demands.

Examples in History and Current Events

The Troubadour movement in Provencal France around the 11th century was supported by royalty, especially Eleanor of Aquitaine, who commissioned much of the poetry, art, and music. Chivalry flourished as knights were encouraged to improve and prove themselves for the love of a lady they could never possess, often a queen or the Virgin Mary.

People who go into battle in service to family, a beloved, a regent, a country, a way of life.

Rick in Casablanca

Rick in Casablanca

Kids with crushes who try to impress their chosen one. Sometimes it’s a teacher, like in the 1950s TV series Leave it to Beaver. Also see Summer of ‘42 and My Life as a Dog.

Examples in Media

In The Fifth Element, Leeloo is the perfect woman and Korben Dallas [Bruce Willis] tries to become worthy of her. But she informs him she’s there to protect him...what’s a guy to do? Clean up his act and become the man she needs. It is a fun film with lots of mythic elements in play.

In Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code everyone seems to respect and admire Sophie Neveu, yet no one has sex with her. Others are there to serve her and it is not until the end of the story that her elevated sense of destiny is revealed to be real...she is a direct descendant of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. The Priory de Zion swears fealty to her in an example of Aspirational Chivalric Love.

The Pleides

The Pleides


  • hearts
  • uplifted hands, arms, eyes
  • stars, constellations

The Shining Moment

Stepping up into the higher mode. If you can actually make it a physical stepping-up, all the better.

Cinematic Techniques

The upward shot from the one being inspired up-angle to the object of affection, the Muse.

Raising the light level. And typically also using smoke so the light is diffused to give a more ethereal look.


You want your character who yearns with Chivalric Love to ultimately be transformed and to say or live some version of the quote, “I have decided to become the person you think I am.”

The power of story is amazing and as story-tellers you can help raise our vision and our actions as we learn from and are inspired by your characters.

As the saying goes – “Onward and Upward!”


Exercise #1 – Awareness

What is an example of love noticeably and lastingly changing someone for the better - in myth, history, media, current reality.


Exercise #2 – Writing

Write a scene where the character deals with another in a regular non-aspirational, individually or tribally-based consciousness.


© 2015 Pamela Jaye Smith & Monty Hayes McMillan

Pamela Jaye’s BOOKS & SEMINARS can be found at The Writers Store and on MYTHWORKS, where you can also learn more about her consulting, writing, and pitching services. Mythic ChallengesAlpha Babe Academy

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