The Secularization of Love
A fundamentally different conception of the nature of love becomes palpably evident in the period of the Minnesanger. This would set the date in the eleventh century, which marked the beginning of the secularization of love. The change in the conceptions of love and love relations was in the beginning, of course, an internal process. The annals of gallantry in the eighteenth century reveal the close relations between illicit love and the tax farming system. When free love becomes established in society beside institutionalized love, the women serving the new cult are either seduced daughters of respectable families, adulteresses, or prostitutes. Women, in the growing cities, began to live like ladies of the court. This condition produced the courtesans who had nothing to do with the court. The ability of a woman to be womanly, beautiful, and lovable can neither gain nor lose an iota of its penetrating power by any manmade social institution such as marriage.