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Courses / Modules / HIST2069 The Knightly World: Ideals and Reality

The Knightly World: Ideals and Reality

When you'll study it
Semester 2
CATS points
ECTS points
Level 5
Module lead
Eleanor Quince
Academic year

Module overview

The knight is one of the most emblematic figures of the Middle Ages, a rich and multifaceted character: from the warrior whose privileged social status was justified by the exercise of violence to the gentleman who embraced a sophisticated aristocratic court culture. In this module, we will examine what shaped the ethics of these knights, what influenced their conduct and their state of mind, paying particular attention to the gap between the ideals of the knights' code of conduct and the reality of their lives (1100-1500). This exploration of elite culture will focus not only on the harsh realities of the battlefield in local wars and in more distant lands where knights pursued the crusading ideals, but also on aristocratic displays in tournaments, ceremonies, (extravagant) banquets and acts of devotion. This module is also a journey into gender identity (virility) and the social order dominated by the image of the preudhomme ('worthy man'). To carry out this investigation, we will use a wide variety of sources and media such as treatises on chivalry, chronicles, Arthurian novels, biographies, legal proceedings, statutes of the orders of chivalry, contracts of brotherhood in arms, books of tournaments and, of course, a Round Table.