Home » Medieval Books

Category: Medieval Books

Otto the great Kissing the feet of Christ

Medieval Rules and Rituals

How was power exibited? And what role did rules, regulations and rituals play. Gert Althoff is known as one of the medieval historians, who has explored these questions in detail. New book provides translations into English of his more recent contributions. 

Read more

ALFONSO X (1221-1284). King of Castile, Leon, and Galicia, 1252-1284.

Alfonso X – Justinian of His Age

Alfonso X is on of the great rulers of Medieval Iberia. Known for his collections of Marian Folk Songs, he was also responsible for numerous works of history, philosophy, science and the laws known as Siete Partidas. New book introduces this law code

Read more

Chapelle de st Radegonde Chinon

The Chivalric Turn

The Chivalric Turn explores the shift at the end of the 12thcentury when the pursuit of knightly excellence and social eminence gave rise to a new code of conduct: chivalry

Read more

St. George Slaying the dragon. In Storkyrkan in Stockholm. Souce: wikipedia

Companion to Chivalry

Unpacking chivalry is necessary for anyone trying to grasp the history of Europe 1000 – 1500. And to come to grips with many ways in which the Middle Ages return in the 21st century. New handbook offfer a solid introduction

A Companion to Chivalry
Edited by Robert W. Jones, Peter Coss
Boydell & Brewer 2019

REVIEW:

A Companion to Chivalry - CoverIn the Middle Ages, the idea of the warrior as one of the linchpins in society came to rule the minds of people. Following this, chivalry – the cultural code of conduct ruling these warriors – turned into a pregnant concept combining the ideas of military service, physical skills, horsemanship, and courteous behaviour. Rooted in various ideas about chivalry, the elite came to embody a certain habitus and mentalité – a way of life. Embodied by glorious knights and pretty damsels in distress, chivalry conquered not only the minds of poets, readers and artists but also the European elite from one end to the other. As such, chivalry did not just rule the day-to-day way of life among the privileged; chivalry also governed the politics of the day. Whether in diplomatic negotiations or warfare, chivalry was fundamentally another way of conducting “politics”.

Thus – as a way of life or habitus, a life style, and a code of conduct – chivalry set its mark on landscapes, clothes and armour, artefacts, gestures and legends, daily life and feasts, language, poetry and visual arts. Huizinga famously called it “an aesthetic ideal assuming the appearance of ethical ideal” (1919, p. 58). To reduce the idea of chivalry in this way, however, is to reduce its very real and bloody impact on the lives of people from the 11th century, and onwards until it petered out in the 16th century, when it was finally turned into a laughing matter, marked out by the novel of Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (published 1605). And yet, it lingered on as a bottomless well of inspiration to be reinvented whenever politics became too messy and bloody. Ivanhoe created by Walter Scott in 1820 is an excellent example of such a reinvention of the chivalric tradition. From our day and age, the exploits of Jamie Lannister in ‘Game of Thrones’ is another such timely invention. In a world ruled by fear and terror, it seems we once more need armoured knights coming to our rescue.

Such media events partly explain why the last decade has once again seen a handful of major introductions to the proper medieval history of chivalry. Interest was reignited in 1999, when Richard Kaeuper published his introduction, Chivalry and Violence in Medieval Europe. In 2009, the same historian followed up with his book on “Holy warriors: the religious ideology of chivalry”, and again in 2016, Cambridge University Press published a textbook on Medieval Chivalry by the same author. Interspersed, we find such introductions as The Knight: The Warrior and World of Chivalry, which Robert W. Jones published in 2011. Mixed up are numerous monographs and scholarly studies of chivalry as it unfolded at specific times, in special locations and among particular groups of people.

According to Keuper, chivalry is foremost a tough and pragmatic warrior code with which the elite made sense of violence and cruelty in a world of constant feuds and wars. At seen through this lens, we are able to pinpoint a special way of life and how it helped the knights to deal with piety, women, victimhood, friendship, and not least power involving who would live and who would die; and how. Through Keuper’s work we are nearly able to listen in on the chivalric small-talk exchanged over a mug of beer in a soldier’s tavern. Thus Keuper offers a well-wrought thesis positioned to explain and convince.

However, chivalry was performative. As such it existed not just as word-play, but as a continued stage play, where the constant reworking of the ‘text’ supplied the audience with further inspiration as to their own reenactment. As such, the idea of chivalry was always practical and hands-on. Chivalry was constantly reworked, rethought, represented in new ways, while creating complexity and countless nuances.

The new handbook edited by Robert W. Jones and Peter Coss aims to tackle this set of challeges by providing an “accessible and more holistic survey of the subject”. Its chapters, by leading experts in the field, cover a wide range of areas: the tournament, arms and armour, the chivalric society’s organisation in peace and war, its literature and its landscape. They also consider the gendered nature of chivalry, its propensity for violence, and its post-medieval decline and reinvention in the early modern and modern periods. In short: this book aims to offer a synopsis of the diverging scholarship governing the field.

Each contributor has been asked to draw on their own areas of expertise, outlining the many diverging viewpoints and offering a guide through the perplexities. For instance one of the editors, Peter Coss opens the volume with a well-argued explanation of the difference between the Anglophone and Francophone historiographies, essential for anyone who grew up on a diet of Duby and the Annales School. And thus, the book proceeds, offering nuances in a much disputed scholarly field.

Chivalry is a debated and contested field. It eludes a formal definition, and yet it is central to our popular ideas of what the Middle Ages were all about. We need to be able to teach this complexity to secure a more nuanced attitude towards the history of these past times.

The past is a foreign country. We need robust and comprehensive travel-guides. This book will indeed be invaluable to the student and the scholar of chivalry alike.

Karen Schousboe

TABLE OF CONTENT:

  • Introduction – Robert W. Jones
  • The Origins and Diffusion of Chivalry – Peter Coss
  • The Organisation of Chivalric Society – David Simpkin
  • The Secular Orders: Chivalry in the Service of the State – David Green
  • The Military Orders – Helen J Nicholson
  • Marshalling the Chivalric Elite for War – Robert W. Jones
  • Chivalric Violence – Samuel A. Claussen and Peter Sposato
  • Chivalry in the Tournament and Pas d’Armes – Richard W Barber
  • Heraldry and Heralds – Robert W. Jones
  • Arms and Armour – Ralph Moffat
  • Constructing Chivalric Landscapes: Aristocratic Spaces Between Image and Reality – Oliver H. Creighton
  • Gendered Chivalry – Louise J. Wilkinson
  • Chivalric Literature – Joanna Bellis and Megan G. Leitch
  • Manuals of Warfare and Chivalry – Matthew Bennett
  • The End of Chivalry? Survivals and Revivals of the Tudor Age – Matthew Woodcock
  • Chivalric Medievalism – Clare A Simmons
  • Bibliography

ABOUT THE EDITORS AND AUTHORS:

Robert W. Jones is a Visiting Scholar in History, Franklin and Marshall College
Peter Coss is Emeritus Professor of Medieval History, Cardiff University

Contributors: Richard Barber, Joanna Bellis, Matthew Bennett, Sam Claussen, Peter Coss, Oliver Creighton, David Green, Robert W. Jones, Megan G. Leitch, Ralph Moffat, Helen J. Nicholson, Clare Simmons, David Simpkin, Peter Sposato, Louise J. Wilkinson, Matthew Woodcock

READ ALSO:

READ MORE:

Medieval Londoners. Collage of portraits from © British Library, Liber benefactorum of St Albans Abbey, MS. Cotton Nero D. VII

Medieval Londoners

Medieval Londoners is a generous gift. Not only to Caroline Barron, long-time emeritus professor of Medieval History at the occasion of her 80th birthday. But also to her numerous students teaching the history of London to new generations. In this spirit the book is offered as open-source.

Medieval Londoners. Essays to mark the eightieth birthday of Caroline Barron
Edited by Elizabeth A New and Christian SteerSeries: IHR Conference Papers
University of London Press and Institute for Historical Research 2019

ABSTRACT

Caroline Barron at the 2019 Harlaxton Medieval Symposium © Catherine Rendon
Caroline Barron at the 2019 Harlaxton Medieval Symposium © Catherine Rendon

Medieval Londoners were a diverse group, some born in the city, and others drawn to the capital from across the realm and from overseas. For some, London became the sole focus of their lives, while others retained or developed networks and loyalties that spread far and wide. The rich evidence for the medieval city, including archaeological and documentary evidence, means that the study of London and its inhabitants remains an active field. Medieval Londoners brings together archaeologists, historians, art historians and literary scholars whose essays provide glimpses of medieval Londoners in all their variety.

This volume is offered to Caroline M. Barron, Emeritus Professor of the History of London at Royal Holloway, University of London, on the occasion of her 80th birthday. Her remarkable career – over some fifty years – has revitalized the way in which we consider London and its people. This volume is a tribute to her scholarship and her friendship and encouragement to others. It is thanks to Caroline M. Barron that the study of medieval London remains as vibrant today as it has ever been.

Table of Content:Medieval Londoners 2019

  1. Introduction: medieval Londoners
    Elizabeth A. New
  2. Families in later medieval London: sex, marriage and mortality
    Vanessa Harding
  3. A portrait of a late medieval London pub: the Star inn, Bridge Street
    Justin Colson
  4. Huntington Library MS. HM 140: household reading for Londoners?
    Julia Boffey
  5. Palaeography and forgery: Thomas D.’s Book of the Hartshorn in Southwark
    Martha Carlin
  6. ‘Go to hyr neybors wher she dwelte before’: reputation and mobility at the London consistory court in the early sixteenth century
    Charlotte Berry
  7. Aliens, crafts and guilds in late medieval London
    Matthew Davies
  8. William Styfford (fl. 1437‒66): citizen and scrivener of London and notary imperial
    L. Bolton
  9. Bankers and booksellers: evidence of the late fifteenth century English book trade in the ledgers of the Bardi bank
    T. W. Payne
  10. Nicholas Alwyn, mayor of London: a man of two loyalties, London and Spalding
    Anne F. Sutton
  11. Charity and the city: London Bridge, c. 1176‒1275
    John A. McEwan
  12. John Reynewell and St. Botolph Billingsgate
    Stephen Freeth and John Schofield
  13. The testament of Joan FitzLewes: a source for the history of the abbey of Franciscan nuns without Aldgate
    Julian Luxford
  14. Souls of benefactors at Grey Friars church London
    Christian Steer
  15. Afterword: The transformative effect: Caroline Barron as teacher and colleague
    Clive Burgess

FEATURED PHOTO:

Detail from collage of portraits from © British Library, Liber benefactorum of St Albans Abbey, MS. Cotton Nero D. VII