About this course
The knight in shining armour charging across the battlefield is an iconic figure of the medieval period. Yet behind the popular image lies a world more complex and fascinating. This seminar explores knighthood and chivalry through a variety of sources: visual, textual and archaeological. We begin with the origins of the knightly caste in the warrior cultures of the post-Roman period, progressing through its development as the social elite of the Middle Ages to its decline or reinvention in the Renaissance and Modern eras.
Students will have the opportunity to address key historiographical debates and write on a variety of topics. We will study arms, armour, and combat; look at the roles played by wider medieval society in shaping the culture and life of the knight; examine the place of women within this apparently masculine society; and consider the contradictions in a code of behaviour that seeks to limit violence whilst lauding the execution of violent skills. We will also explore nineteenth-century notions of chivalry, and ask how the term has been used (and abused) in modern debates about gender and race.
Check with your home institution for specific information on fulfillment of major / course requirements.