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Medieval Chivalry


Part of Cambridge Medieval Textbooks

  • Date Published: May 2016
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521137959

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About the Authors
  • Emerging in the medieval period, chivalry embodied ideals that elite warriors cherished and practices that formed their profession. In this major new overview, Richard Kaeuper examines how chivalry made sense of violence and war, making it tolerable for elite fighters rather than non-knightly or sub-knightly populations. He discusses how chivalry buttressed status and profession, shaped active piety, and fostered intense warrior attachments and heterosexual relationships. Though showing regional and chronological variations, chivalry at its core enshrined the practice of prowess in securing honor, with this process significantly blessed by religion. Both kingship and church authority sought to direct the great force of chivalry and, despite tensions, finally came to terms with rising knightly status and a burgeoning military role. Kaeuper engages with a wide range of evidence in his analysis, drawing on the chivalric literature, manuscript illumination, and sermon exempla and moral tales.

    • A new analysis that reinterprets chivalry as a fundamental aspect of medieval society
    • Frees chivalry from romantic views, instead placing it firmly in the medieval context and eliminating common distortions about early European history
    • Draws broadly on a wide range of evidence, including chronicles, treatises and imaginative literature, governmental records and chivalric self-representation through authenticating seals, brasses, and tomb monuments
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Professor Kaeuper is one of the foremost experts on medieval chivalry, equally at home with the evidence provided by literature and the sources normally used by historians. This new textbook draws together the important insights that he has offered on violence and religion within medieval chivalric culture, to provide a clear and exciting vision of this complex field.' Craig Taylor, University of York

    'Richard Kaeuper's new book is a tour de force. It presents chivalry as one of the great defining forces of medieval culture. Anyone wishing to grasp medieval chivalry and indeed the middle ages as a whole will have to read this book or run the risk of seriously misunderstanding the topic.' Christoph T. Maier, University of Zurich

    'Medieval Chivalry is a deeply erudite and multilayered analysis of a complicated and much misunderstood subject. Professor Kaeuper, the leading scholar in the field, examines chivalry in its political, social, economic and literary contexts. It is a tour de force that will set the terms for future discussion.' William Caferro, Vanderbilt University, Tennessee

    'In what is destined to become the standard work on the subject, Richard Kaeuper's Medieval Chivalry explores the historical evolution of this aristocratic military ethos from the ninth through the fifteenth century. Guided by his unrivalled mastery of chivalric literature, Kaeuper strips away the varnish of nineteenth-century romanticism to reveal a contested ideology that at its heart valorized the practice of violence by a social elite.' Richard Abels, United States Naval Academy, Maryland

    'In this masterly new study of the nature and development of European chivalry from the eleventh to the fifteenth century. Kaeuper takes us into the thought world of the medieval warrior aristocracy with verve and rare perception. He probes the essence of chivalric values and their expression in war and peace, elucidating with freshness and clarity chivalry's complex and subtly evolving interaction with religion, nobility, courtliness and the state. Impressive in its range and skilful synthesis, this valuable and thought-provoking study will be essential reading for specialists and students alike.' Matthew Strickland, University of Glasgow

    'Even though the medieval institutions of chivalry and knighthood have been the object of countless investigations, there is always the need for further analysis because we face a highly complex and often changing phenomenon. Richard W. Kaeuper accepted this challenge and here presents an extensive study of medieval chivalry, offering in-depth historical perspectives, cultural and literary reflections on chivalry, and he views chivalry even in light of the history of emotions.' Albrecht Classen, Mediaevistik

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2016
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521137959
    • length: 447 pages
    • dimensions: 215 x 138 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.6kg
    • contains: 13 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. An Approach to Chivalry: Was It Real and Practical?:
    1. The reality of medieval chivalry
    2. Models of medieval chivalry
    Part II. Three Broad Chronological Phases:
    3. Phase one: knighthood becoming chivalry
    4. Phase two: knighthood and chivalry fuse
    5. Phase three: chivalry beyond formal knighthood
    Part III. The Privileged Practice of Violence:
    6. Chivalry and war
    7. Tournament
    Part IV. Chivalry, Governing Institutions and Ideals:
    8. Kings and knights
    9. Chivalry in dialogue with religious ideals
    Part V. The World of Chivalric Emotions:
    10. Love and amity, men and women
    11. Anger, wrath, fear, thirst for vengeance

  • Author

    Richard W. Kaeuper, University of Rochester, New York
    Richard W. Kaeuper is Professor of History at the University of Rochester and Donald Bullough Fellow at the Medieval Institute, University of St Andrews. His previous positions include R. Stanton Avery Distinguished Fellow at the Huntington Library (1999–2000), R. T. French Professor at the University of Oxford (1980–1) and Visiting Professorial Fellow at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth (1982). His previous publications include Holy Warriors (2009), Chivalry and Violence (1999), The Book of Chivalry of Geoffroi de Charny (with Elspeth Kennedy, 1996) and War, Justice and Public Order (1989).

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