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De amore lists such rules as "Marriage is no real excuse for not loving", "He who is not jealous cannot love", "No one can be bound by a double love", and "When made public love rarely endures".
Hispano-Arabic literature, as well as Arabic influence on Sicily, provided a further source, in parallel with Ovid, for the early troubadours of Provence—overlooked though this sometimes is in accounts of courtly love.
The historic analysis of courtly love varies between different schools of historians.
That sort of history which views the early Middle Ages dominated by a prudish and patriarcal theocracy, views courtly love as a "humanist" reaction to the puritanical views of the Catholic Church.
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.
In the high Middle Ages, a "game of love" developed around these ideas as a set of social practices.
When her husband was away on Crusade or other business she dominated the household and cultural affairs; sometimes this was the case even when the husband was at home.
"Loving nobly" was considered to be an enriching and improving practice. In essence, courtly love was an experience between erotic desire and spiritual attainment, "a love at once illicit and morally elevating, passionate and disciplined, humiliating and exalting, human and transcendent".
The term "courtly love" was first popularized by Gaston Paris and has since come under a wide variety of definitions and uses.
The final element of courtly love, the concept of "love as desire never to be fulfilled", was at times implicit in Arabic poetry, but was first developed into a doctrine in European literature, in which all four elements of courtly love were present.
According to an argument outlined by Maria Rosa Menocal in The Arabic Role in Medieval Literary History, in 11th-century Spain, a group of wandering poets appeared who would go from court to court, and sometimes travel to Christian courts in southern France, a situation closely mirroring what would happen in southern France about a century later.