The Book of the Love-Smitten Heart


Written in 1457, Le livre du Coeur d'amour épris (The book of the love-smitten heart) is an allegorical romance by King René of Anjou (1409−80). The text in verse and prose recounts the quest for love of the knight Heart who, in a dream, leaves with Desire in search of his lady, Mercy. This amorous journey combines the knight’s studies and his personal memories. The tone is that of a disenchanted man at the end of his life, for whom courtly love and desire both amount to obstacles and suffering. The work combines features of the Arthurian novels in prose and allegorical poems in the style of the Roman de la Rose. The poem may have been written for someone within René’s inner circle. The 71 miniatures might not have been created when the manuscript was written. This copy, from the National Library of France, is one of only six extant manuscripts of the work.

Last updated: August 28, 2015