The Knight and Chivalry

The Knight and Chivalry

Book - 1995
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Blackwell North Amer
The concept of chivalry is one of the central ideas of the medieval world, linking the practicalities of warfare to the highest levels of literary creation and to religious idealism. To understand it, it is necessary to look at both history and literature, and to give equal weight to the worlds of reality and imagination, in order to examine the complex interaction between the two which produces chivalry.
The first part of the book looks at the prehistory of chivalry, the warriors and knights of early medieval Europe, their social function and status. It considers the ceremonies which began to set off the knight from other men, their place at princely courts, and the complex reaction of the Church to this new order of society. From this, the quest for chivalry leads to the literary world of the chansons de geste and the early romances, and to the biographies and handbooks which served as examples to the aspiring knight.
The great festival of chivalry, the tournament, is considered in the next part, showing how it developed from training for warfare into a spectacular pageant, while retaining the exhilaration and danger of war; and this in turn leads us to the knight on the battlefield, chivalry in action in the incessant warfare of the middle ages. Warfare is also the topic of the opening chapter of the section on chivalry and religion, in which the church's attitude to warfare, as reflected in the crusades, is discussed. The emergence of the military orders, and their subsequent history in the Near East, Spain and the Baltic, shows religious chivalry in action.
The final part, on chivalry in the realm of politics, concerns the use of the ideals of chivalry by the princes of western Europe, and the development of the secular orders. We return to the relationship between chivalry and the court, and look at the chivalric displays which characterised fifteenth- and sixteenth-century court life, and the revival in chivalric literature, before the knight is gradually transformed into the renaissance courtier.

Publisher: Woodbridge, Suffolk ; Rochester, NY, USA : Boydell Press, 1995
Edition: Revised edition
ISBN: 9780851156637
Branch Call Number: 940.17 BARBE
Characteristics: 415 pages, 40 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color), maps ; 26 cm


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