chapter  Chapter 3
12 Pages

Love and Love Affairs in the Sixteenth Century

WithJean-Louis Flandrin

In the sixteenth century the plural form was found as often as the singular: in the thirteen thousand titles from Lyons catalogued by H. Baudrier, the singular form is used one hundred and nine times and the plural eighty-nine times. Profane love was considered — at least in one part of society at the end of the Middle Ages — as insane behaviour in comparison with celestial love. The use of the plural form perhaps underlined how unstable and ephemeral love of man is, for, whereas human beings are many, there is only one Creator. Divine love gathers people together, whereas profane love affairs cause division. In French, the word "amour" can be used in the singular or the plural. In actual fact it is found much more often in the singular: in the twenty-two thousand titles of books published in 1961, the singular is used one hundred and five times and the plural sixteen times.