Chivalry is a concept that was crucial to medieval culture and continues to fuel modern scholarly debate. Academic analyses of chivalry as an idea and an ethos are strikingly disparate, which reflects the fact that the expectations and the realities of knightly behaviour themselves were highly varied. In turn, medieval source materials ranging from literature to historiography to theological commentaries provide a complex view of how contemporaries perceived chivalric culture. Today, countless films, books, and university course syllabi alike testify to the enduring appeal of chivalry in the popular imagination. However, those who study the topic at any level must break through the romanticisms, anachronisms, and political biases that surround the history of chivalry to come to a more complete, nuanced understanding of the idea’s status within medieval culture and politics. Through a collection of essays that spans the disciplinary spectrum, this volume examines the idea of chivalry in theory and in practice, within both original medieval contexts and modern portrayals. From medieval law and literature to current university pedagogy and social-political controversy, the volume’s authors offer a multifaceted perspective that will help to shed new light on the meaning and implications of chivalry.
Jon-Mark Grussenmeyer, University of Kent, Canterbury, UK, and
Geoffrey W. Gust, Stockton University, Bala Cynwys, PA, USA.