This Valentine’s Day, you might be swooning at your loved-one’s efforts at romance. Or you might be sitting there wondering who is to blame for all this soppiness. Either way, we thought you might appreciate a brief history lesson in romance and whose bright idea it was.

In Early Medieval Europe the written word was used sparingly and for official purposes only. These documents were written in Latin – the language of science and law. In medieval France, when verses started to emerge that were written in Old French – the language spoken by ordinary people – the word ‘romance’ was used to describe them, meaning ‘in the Roman style’.

These verses recounted the adventures of knights – gallant, chivalrous and chasing the affections of a lady by proving how wonderful they were. The ideal knight recognized his mistress as an independent individual and tried to be worthy of her attention by acting valiantly and honourably. This idea of ‘noble love’ developed in the Norman world and made its way to Ireland via the Anglo Normans.

So there you have it, either raise a glass to the Normans for encouraging the male of the species to ‘up his game’, or curse them for starting all this nonsense.