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The University of Southampton

HIST2228 Chivalry, c. 1250-1500

Module Overview

Today, chivalry is readily associated with gentle(man) behaviour, and more specifically with sportsmanship, gallantry and courtesy. While indisputably there has always been a ‘civilising’ component to chivalry, it is fascinating to see how our modern society has shifted the focus away from what once formed its core elements: war and violence. This module investigates the roots and development of a martial ethos, which came to be fully assimilated by the aristocracy between the 11th and the 15th century, and infused its culture.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • The multiple facets of chivalry, as an order of knights, an ethos, a status and a concept
  • Court culture in the late middle ages
  • King Arthur's myth and Arthurian Romances
  • Late medieval political, economic and social changes which impacted on chivalry
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Reflect on different definitions of honour
  • Discuss confidently the didactic, normative, prescriptive nature of medieval chivalric treatises or romances and the idealistic nature of so-called chivalric chronicles and make a critical use of these primary sources
  • Engage with the concept of laws and ethics of war
  • Communicate accurately and clearly a range of knowledge and critical reflection in response to exam questions and essay topics
  • Make well-supported judgments about the value of particular interpretations of the evidence.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Gather information and organise it into an accurate and coherent essay
  • Demonstrate your ability to communicate effectively in the context of a timed exam
  • Engage critically with primary sources


Chivalry was mainly secular but it also embraced religious beliefs and crusading ideals. Chivalry dictated behaviours at war, but it also shaped court culture, drawing on Arthurian myth and romances and giving rise to elaborate forms of pageantry in tournaments, banquets, chivalric orders and ceremonies. Chivalry influenced as well the life, death and remembrance of the humble knight as it inspired good kingship. These are among the main themes that we will be investigating in this module, using a wide variety of sources such as chivalric treatises, chronicles, romances, manuscript illuminations, and also material culture (including the Winchester Round Table).

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Two lectures and one seminar per week

Guided independent study262
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

Keen, M. (1984). Chivalry. 

Saul, N. (2011). For Honour and Fame: Chivalry in England, 1066-1500. 

Kaeuper, R.W. (2016). Medieval Chivalry. 



Abstract and Presentation


MethodPercentage contribution
Analytical essay  (4400 words) 50%
Exam  (2 hours) 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Analytical essay 50%
Exam 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Assessment tasks 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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