Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Modern Foreign Languages

Major Professor

Gregory B. Kaplan

Committee Members

Thomas Burman, Salvatore Dimaria, Laura Howes


The objective of this study is to explore the Hispano-Arabic theory of origin of courtly love, discuss and define its characteristic features, and ultimately suggest that the eleventh century discourse on love, Tawq al-Hamamah (The Ring of the Dove) written in 1022 by Ibn Hazm al-Andalusi, functioned as a major influence in the formation of courtly love, particularly in the Iberian Peninsula. For over a century and a half, scholars have suggested that this unique code of behavior was codified in The Art of Courtly Love, a treatise on love written by Andreas Capellanus. These scholars submit that Andreas received his inspiration not only from the troubadours but also classical authors such as Ovid; however, few advocate links to Arab Spain. In this study, I will further the notion that many differentiating elements of courtly love originated from the Hispano-Arabic tradition, as epitomized by Ibn Hazm and The Ring of the Dove. A trivial amount of research exists on the Hispano-Arabic foundation of courtly love, most of which has been discredited or is no longer accepted by the scholarly community.

Throughout the course of this study, I will explore the hypothesis that Ibn Hazm, his treatise on love, his worldview, and the culture and society in which he lived had a lasting and significant impact on courtly love. The combination of Ibn Hazm and the Islamic ideological contribution collectively provided direct and indirect inspiration and is evident in Peninsular examples of courtly love literature. Based on the parallels identified in this study, textual analyses of Spanish works, and explorations of various genres, I will determine that Ibn Hazm’s treatise on love provided a noteworthy influence on the literary convention that developed into the distinctive code of behavior for lovers known as courtly love.

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