Court of Love: Valentine's Day, 1400
From crowds, whom at your feet you see,
Oh, pity and distinguish me!
As I from thousand beauties more
Distinguish you, and only you adore.
(John Dryden [1631–1700], Love’s Petition)
Founded “principally upon the two virtues of humility and loyalty, to honor, praise and commend all ladies and damsels,” the Court of Love is the first known official celebration in honour of Saint Valentine’s Day. Its charter highlights many observances, echoes of which can be seen in modern celebrations: “on the day of My Lord St. Valentine…there will be sung at the church…a mass of this blessed martyr….On this feastday, each of his subjects is to compose an amorous balade on a theme of his own choosing….” (Henry Ansgar Kelly, Chaucer and the Cult of Saint Valentine, Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1986, p.131)
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