Chivalry: An Annotated Bibliography for Teachers

Daniel Franke

Introduction

Teaching chivalry in the classroom can be challenging for several reasons. First, it is a vast topic, with a vast amount of literature (medieval and modern) already written on the subject. Where does one begin? Chivalry encompassed more than a short code of rules for behavior; it also described an entire social group, a group which had origins, status, and functions, as well as an ideology. Scholars still debate many characteristics of chivalry, and attempting to navigate the scholarly field while still keeping in touch with one’s students can be frustrating, to say the least. Second, within the literature on chivalry there exists a huge gradation of quality and complexity, with the two often directly connected—the less complex the book, the more likely it is to distort some crucial aspect of chivalry. Third, and directly following from that, the best literature on the subject is often not designed for students. This might not present such a problem for high school, but renders teaching the earlier grades particularly problematic. Fourth and last, “historical” chivalry often involved a lot of brutal violence and casual sex (racy folk, those medievals). While in the age of computer games this might not make much difference, the level of violence is at least worth considering. In short, chivalry was bloody, complex, and very different from what is normally portrayed in juvenile literature.

The following bibliography does not seek to provide an exhaustive or even fully comprehensive list of resources for the teacher—that is simply too large a task in the space available. Rather, it attempts to give the instructor some resources to get started, and to point the classroom toward useful texts and helpful databases. Two further considerations have guided what follows: to recommend books and studies which are most representative of chivalry’s historical development, and to present materials with some attention to their level of violence and complexity. I have divided what follows into Primary Sources, Modern Interpretations, Juvenile Literature, Websites, Filmography, and Background Studies. Often there are ten and more versions of each medieval literary work; the ones that appear below represent an intersection of scholarly achievement, critical support, reader-friendliness, and availability. Hopefully, this bibliography will be of some assistance to teachers in challenging their students and introducing them to the bloody and complex social phenomenon that was medieval chivalry.

I. Primary Source Materials

This section presents a variety of medieval literature on chivalry and knights, including biographies, memoirs, and treatises. Most, if not all of them, are suitable only for high school students, since they were not published with K-12 in mind.

Barber, Richard, ed. and trans. The Life and Campaigns of the Black Prince, from contemporary letters, diaries and chronicles, including Chandos Herald’s Life of the Black Prince. Woodbridge and Rochester: The Boydell Press, 1979; reprinted 2002.

Edward of Woodstock, better known as “The Black Prince,” was the son of Edward III of England, and was renowned as a great warrior, commander and knight. Barber’s collection and translation of sources is an outstanding resource for Edward’s life during the Hundred Years War; the best of these is the famous chivalric poem of Sir John Chandos’ herald. Unfortunately, this title is listed as “print on demand” on Boydell and Brewer’s website, and is most readily available from booksellers’ websites, such as Amazon.com and Bookfinder.com.

Beowulf: A Verse Translation. Translated by Seamus Heaney. Edited by Daniel Donoghue. Norton Critical Editions. New York: W. W. Norton, 2001.

While not “chivalric” per se, the Old English poem Beowulf is a good example of the war band and its commemoration—elements which heavily influenced later chivalric tales and values. Heaney’s translation has long been a mainstay of college courses, and the scholarly essays in this Norton Critical Edition are of high quality. More recently, Heaney has produced a new verse translation of the poem, and Howell Chickering Jr.’s facing-page translation edition has been republished; these may be worth considering as alternative texts.

Cervantes Saavedra, Miguel de. Don Quixote.

  1. Edited and translated by John Rutherford, with an introduction by Roberto Gonzalez Echevarria. New York: Penguin Classics, 2003.
  2. Translated by Walter Starkie, with an introduction by Edward H. Friedman. New York: Signet Classic, 2001.
  3. Translated by Tobias Smollett, with an introduction by Carlos Fuentes. The Modern Library Classics. New York: Modern Library, 2001Many people have heard of Don Quixote without actually having read more than a smattering of Cervantes’ large work. It is far more than tales of a crazy old man fighting windmills, for Don Quixote is the greatest critical satire of chivalry ever written; time after time, the hero (and society) comes to grief by applying chivalric literature to “real” life. Each of the above translations renders something of the vitality of the original, with Starkie’s and Smollett’s receiving the most critical acclaim. Signet Classic also has an abridged version of Starkie, and since the unabridged work is so large, this might be worth using.

Charny, Geoffroi de. The Book of Chivalry of Geoffroi de Charny: Text, Context, and Translation. Edited Richard W. Kaeuper and Elspeth Kennedy, translated by Elspeth Kennedy. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996.
——–. A Knight’s Own Book of Chivalry. Edited Richard W. Kaeuper and Elspeth Kennedy, translated by Elspeth Kennedy. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005.

Charny was renowned as one of the greatest knights of the fourteenth century, and was killed in action at the Battle of Poitiers in 1356, with the sacred French war banner in his hand. His most famous work, the passionate and rambling Book of Chivalry, is available in two editions, one with the original French text, and one without (the latter being A Knight’s Own Book of Chivalry). Kennedy’s translation and Kaeuper’s introduction provide an excellent window into a knight’s opinions on how knights should behave, how kings should rule, and why knights should be honored above all other social groups.

Chrétien de Troyes. Arthurian Romances. Translated by Carleton W. Carroll, introduced by William W. Kibler. New York: Penguin Classics, 1991.

Chrétien is often credited with creating the basic Arthurian corpus; it is more-or-less to Chrétien, for instance, that we owe the figure of Lancelot, the foundation of the Arthur-Lancelot-Guinevere triangle, and the great, unfinished tale of Perceval (which many later authors attempted to complete, often badly). Carroll’s translation is both readable and faithful, and allows the stories to come to life. Chrétien’s romances, written by the 1180s, were popular at the courts of France and made a deep impression in Germany as well. Yvaine, or The Knight with the Lion and Perceval are perhaps the most accessible stories, though Lancelot, or the Knight of the Cart should seem familiar—and either theatrical or deeply moving, depending on one’s taste.

Diaz de Gámez, Gutierre. The Unconquered Knight: A Chronicle of the Deeds of Don Pero Niño, Count of Buelna. Translated and selected from El Vitorial by Joan Evans. Routledge and Sons, 1928. Reprinted Woodbridge and Rochester: The Boydell Press, 2004.

The Deeds of Don Pero Niño is that rare item, a chivalric memoir from medieval Spain which has actually been translated into English. Joan Evans’ translation has proved durable for many good reasons: the prose is generally crisp, the action brisk. As a chronicle of the count’s constant wars and service to the king of Castile in the fifteenth century, Diaz de Gámez’s work is remarkably full and detailed. The early chapters of the book, which describe the count’s training and first adventures in combat, put the intersection between chivalric lessons and actual warfare into sharp focus. The ideology behind knighthood has rarely emerged more clearly from a memoir.

Froissart, Jean. Chronicles. Selected, translated, and edited by Geoffrey Brereton. New York: Penguin Books, 1978.

Jean Froissart’s career was a richly varied one, and allowed him to see many of the political and military doings of fourteenth-century Europe, either personally or via eyewitnesses (of course, his storyteller’s instinct occasionally got the best of him!). His great passion, one to which he explicitly devotes his chronicles, is deeds of arms, combat, and chivalry. Geoffrey Brereton has judiciously selected key passages from this huge work, whose reputation has varied among historians of late, but whose usefulness in examining knightly warfare still remains high. His account of the battle of Poitiers is especially vivid and illustrative of the violence and rough “civility” of knightly warfare.

Gawain and the Green Knight.

  1. Translated and with an introduction by Burton Raffel. New York: Signet Classic, 2001
  2. Translated by Marie Borroff. New York: W. W. Norton, 2001. [Also includes the poems Patience and Pearl]

Arguably the most popular book among undergraduates who appreciate Arthurian tales, Gawain and the Green Knight is a (probably fourteenth-century) poem about an incident at King Arthur’s court, which puts Gawain’s courage to the test in an extreme fashion. The Raffel edition, like the Tolkien one, is old and while still serviceable has been largely superceded by Borroff’s edition. Borroff’s also has the advantage of including two excellent but less famous medieval poems, and, as usual, Norton delivers high-quality critical scholarship.

Geoffrey of Monmouth. The History of the Kings of Britain. Translated with an introduction by Lewis Thorpe. New York: Penguin Classics, 1966.

As a work of “history,” which Geoffrey’s book purports to be, The History of the Kings of Britain is less than stellar—something of which his twelfth-century contemporaries complained. Yet Geoffrey lends a different voice to chivalry, for he celebrates at great length the deeds of King Arthur, particularly his battles and his reputation as a warrior king. Scholars have long debated whether or not there is any historical evidence for Geoffrey’s story, with a heavy majority going against the idea. Regardless, as a popular book the History would have influenced a fair number of medieval opinions on chivalry and kings, and it remains a great introduction to the Arthurian literary corpus.

Joinville, Jean de. The Life of Saint Louis. From Joinville and Villehardouin: Chronicles of the Crusades. Translated by M.R.B. Shaw. New York: Penguin Classics, 1980.

Joinville’s memoir is one of the most vivid accounts of chivalry, kingship, and warfare to survive from the Middle Ages, and Shaw’s prose enhances this vitality. Students can gain a great deal of insight into how thirteenth-century knights made war, what a medieval battle was like, and what sort of ideology crusading knights possessed, if they peruse Joinville’s recollections of Louis IX’s reign and crusade. The first part of the book, Villehardouin’s eye-witness account of the Fourth Crusade (1202-1204), is also of high quality; it deals somewhat more with politics and intrigue than with chivalry, but illustrates the complex social and political world inhabited by knights.

The Lancelot-Grail/Vulgate Cycle

Lancelot of the Lake. New edition. Translated by Corin Corley, with an introduction by Elspeth Kennedy. Oxford World’s Classics. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.
The Quest of the Holy Grail. Translated by Pauline M. Matarasso. New York: Penguin Classics, 1969.
The Death of King Arthur. New edition. Translated by James Cable. New York: Penguin Classics, 1971.

The Lancelot/Grail Cycle is a series of French romances from the early thirteenth century, which form the core of Arthurian literature. The cycle was expanded over the years, mostly by way of back story (particularly Merlin’s story and the history of the Grail), and the entire work is massive, both in physical size and range of themes. The volumes above are the three major parts of the series, with the Grail Quest and the finale (Arthur’s death) being presented entire, while the first volume, that of Lancelot’s youthful adventures, is a selection from the extremely long first part. The translations are superb, the critical approaches stellar, and the possibilities for classroom use are virtually endless. The Grail Quest in particular, with its forceful symbolism of “good” and “bad” chivalry, should give students food for thought.

Lull, Ramon. Book of Knighthood and the anonymous Ordene de Chevalerie. Translated by William Caxton; modern English by Brian R. Price. Union Way: Chivalry Bookshelf, 2001.

Brian Price presents a readable and affordable edition of two very popular medieval treatises: the thirteenth-century knight and mystic Ramon Lull’s Book of Knighthood, and the Ordene, which tells the story of a knight captured by the great sultan Saladin, who asks the knight to explain western chivalry to him. Lull’s work should be easily recognizable as the “code” with which we are generally familiar, and Caxton’s original fifteenth-century edition lays out the knight’s behavior, equipment, and training with admirable clarity.

Malory, Sir Thomas. Le Morte Darthur. Edited by Stephen H. A. Shepherd. Norton Critical Editions. New York: W. W. Norton, 2003.
——–. Le Mort d’Arthur. New illustrated edition. Edited by John Matthews, illustrated by Anna-Marie Ferguson. London: Cassell, 2000.
——–. Works. Second edition. Edited by Eugène Vinaver. New York: Oxford University Press, 1977.

Malory’s is the last great medieval reinterpretation of the Arthurian stories, and is one of the most studied versions. Each of the editions listed above offers something to the classroom, depending on the disposition of the instructor. Vinaver’s edition has long been the standard one, and keeps the contemporary spelling as well as the language. The new Norton critical edition does likewise, and has a critical footnote system as well. The Norton edition is also valuable in the wealth of background literature and document selections which are included as bonuses, although the critical essays are not quite so useful for illuminating Malory’s portrayal of chivalry (ironic in a book which revels in the subject). Matthews’ edition modernizes the spelling, but not really the language—this might be useful if one wishes to avoid “scaring off” potential Malory converts! On the other hand, Matthews’ is the largest and most physically awkward of the three, and even though it possesses some evocative illustrations, it includes hardly any critical apparatus besides a glossary.

The Perlesvaus. The High Book of the Grail: A Translation of the thirteenth century romance of Perlesvaus. Translated by Nigel Bryant. Ipswich/Totowa: Brewer/Rowman and Littlefield, 1978.

I have included this book, less for its availability or classroom usefulness than to alert instructors that there was more than one medieval “take” on the Grail legend, and some proved popular into the early twentieth century. This particular version is the brooding, violent, and simply mysterious Perlesvaus, translated here in fine fashion by Nigel Bryant. The three heroes, Perceval, Lancelot, and Gawain, go on many bloody adventures, and Perceval eventually achieves the Grail. There are duels, murders, demon knights, vats of blood, armies maneuvering in the field, and even an early version of Gawain and the Green Knight (except with Lancelot as the protagonist). Scholars have never quite known what to make of the Perlesvaus, but it is worth knowing of its existence. Bryant’s introduction provides an excellent overview of the book (it was written in prose, not as a poem), and its attendant scholarship.

Poem of the Cid.

  1. Translated by Lesley Byrd Simpson. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006.
  2. Translated by Paul Blackburn. Edited by George Economou. Introduction by Luis Cortest. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1998.
  3. Translated by Rita Hamilton and Janet Perry. New York: Penguin Classics, 1985.

The Cid, famous today from Charlton Heston’s epic film, was an enigmatic figure in the late eleventh century, fighting both for and against the various Spanish and Moorish kings of the Iberian peninsula. His exile, capture of Valencia, battles and combats quickly became the stuff of legend, and the poem is periodically republished. Each of the above editions is a fine translation, but for those curious about the medieval Spanish text, Hamilton and Perry’s parallel-text version would be ideal.

The Song of Roland

  1. Translated by Dorothy L. Sayers. New York: Penguin Classics, 1957.
  2. Translated by Glyn S. Burgess. New York: Penguin Classics, 1990.
  3. Translated by Frederick Goldin. New York: W. W. Norton, 1976.

The Song of Roland, written in the twelfth century, is a chanson de geste (a song of deeds). Among its themes are extreme violence, Christian-Muslim relations, loyalty, and, above all, honor. It enjoyed iconic status in its own era, and its popularity continued through the 1950s, when it could still be found in “boys’ adventure books.” The editions above all commend themselves in various ways. Goldin’s translation is perhaps the most reader-friendly; Sayers’s introduction is excellent, while her translation is often regarded as stilted. Burgess offers a happy medium, and includes selections from the original Old French for comparison.

TEAMS volumes, published through Medieval Institute Publications.

The Consortium for the Teaching of the Middle Ages, Inc. (TEAMS) produces scholarly, inexpensive critical editions of many medieval texts. The majority of these are in Middle English (Chaucer’s language), and those listed below have some measure of chivalric content. Recommended, especially for high school students. Instructors may examine individual texts at the Camelot Project site, http://www.lib.rochester.edu/camelot/teams/tmsmenu.htm. The TEAMS publications webpage, http://www.wmich.edu/medieval/mip/books/teams.htm, provides summaries of each volume.

  1. Four Middle English Romances: Sir Isumbras, Octavian, Sir Eglamour of Artois, Sir Tryamour. Second Edition. Edited by Harriet Hudson. 2006.
  2. King Arthur’s Death: The Middle English Stanzaic Morte Arthur and Alliterative Morte Arthure. Edited by Larry D. Benson, revised by Edward E. Foster. 1994.
  3. Lancelot of the Laik and Sir Tristrem. Edited by Alan Lupack. 1994.
  4. The Middle English Breton Lays. Edited by Anne Laskaya and Eve Salisbury. 1995.
  5. Robin Hood and Other Outlaw Tales. Edited by Stephen Knight and Thomas Ohlgren. 1997.
  6. Sir Gawain: Eleven Romances and Tales. Edited by Thomas Hahn. 1995.
  7. Sir Perceval of Galles and Ywain and Gawain. Edited by Mary Flowers Braswell. 1995.
  8. Stanzaic Guy of Warwick. Edited by Alison Wiggins. 2004.
  9. Three Middle English Charlemagne Romances. Edited by Alan Lupack. 1990.

Ulrich von Liechtenstein. The Service of Ladies. Translated by J. W. Thomas. Introduction by Kelly DeVries. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1969. Reprinted Woodbridge and Rochester: The Boydell Press, 2004.

Readers familiar with the film A Knight’s Tale will doubtless recognize the name of this work’s author; Ulrich was renowned on the tournament circuit in the thirteenth century, and his poem The Service of Ladies is the tale of his jousts and attempts to woo a noblewoman who would not have him. Part autobiography, part burlesque comedy, part tall tale, Service makes for humorous reading, and Thomas’ translation is done with an eye to such readability.

William, Count of Orange: Four Old French Epics. Edited by Glanville Price. Translated by Glanville Price et. al. Totowa: Rowman and Littlefield, 1975.

If one wishes to depart from the usual chivalric literature, the William of Orange epic cycle is not a bad place to start. In many respects these stories resemble the Song of Roland, not least in the amount of violence they contain, and the intolerance they often exhibit towards non-Europeans. As fascinating cross-sections of medieval attitudes, however, these have few rivals—in their own way they were as popular as Roland or the Arthurian cycle. “The Coronation of Louis” is probably the best story of the four, and contains many layers of chivalric attitudes, prejudices, and beliefs.

Wolfram von Eschenbach. Parzival.

  1. Translated by Helen M. Mustard and Charles E. Passage. New York: Vintage Books, 1961.
  2. Translated by A. T. Hatto. New York: Penguin Classics, 1980.

Written some time between 1200 and 1220, Parzival has proved the most popular and enduring of the medieval German legends of the Holy Grail. The book is long, and its themes many and complex, but the story of a simple knight on a sacred quest holds the 800+ stanzas together. Above are the two major English translations of the massive poem, originally in Middle High German. Hatto’s has found a wider acceptance, and he translated with an eye to style and effect. Mustard and Passage’s edition tends to be more literal and less imaginative, but preserves a stanzaic paragraph structure (as in the original manuscripts), making it comparatively easier to read.

II. Modern Interpretations of Chivalry

This section includes some of the classic modern chivalric stories, such as those by Howard Pyle and Sir Walter Scott. I have not included modern medieval-fantasy epics, such as Lord of the Rings or George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, since, while they are “medieval,” their treatment of medieval chivalry is often indirect or absent.

Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan. Sir Nigel. Illustrated by the Kinneys. New York: P. F. Collier and Sons, 1906.
——–. The White Company. Illustrated by N. C. Wyeth. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, 1922. Reprinted New York: Books of Wonder, William Morrow and Company, 1988.

Best known for creating the detective Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle also had a passionate love for the Middle Ages. This is reflected in his two full-scale medieval novels; of all his works, The White Company was supposedly his favorite. Chivalry is one of many aspects represented in these tales, and Doyle’s overall attention to detail is of a high order. Readers are treated to a rich (and largely accurate) portrayal of life in fourteenth-century England. Reprints of the original edition, with illustrations by N. C. Wyeth (as The White Company, above), might prove the most reader-friendly and popular with students. Quality reprints of Sir Nigel, however, are harder to find than reprints of The White Company. Teachers should also be aware that, as products of their time, Doyle’s novels carry certain pronounced attitudes towards nationalities, ethnicities, and religions which differed from Victorian Protestant Great Britain.

Lanier, Sidney. The Boy’s King Arthur. Dover Storybooks for Children. Illustrated by N. C. Wyeth. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, 2006.

Lanier edited Malory for an earlier age (the first edition was published in 1880), and Wyeth later contributed his usual quality illustrations (in 1917). The result is an Arthurian tale which can appeal to a much younger audience than usually reaches for Le Morte d’Arthur.

Pyle, Howard. Men of Iron. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, 2003.
——–. The Story of King Arthur and His Knights. Afterward by John F. Plummer. New York: Signet Classic, 2006.

Besides Doyle’s novels, Pyle’s works have also proven enduringly popular with general audiences. While in general they do not possess the same level of historical research and polish which mark Doyle’s writings, they make up for that by faster-moving plots. Men of Iron, which is the story of a young boy coming of age and achieving knighthood in the aftermath of Henry IV’s usurpation in 1399, contains an excellent portrayal of a later medieval boy’s training for knighthood—page, squire, etc. Pyle’s Arthurian book is also an excellent and easily accessible rendition of Malory, assisted of course by his extraordinary abilities as an illustrator. Originally published in 1903, King Arthur is, as shown here, still in print.

Scott, Sir Walter. Ivanhoe. Edited and introduced by Ian Duncan. Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

In many respects, Sir Walter Scott can be blamed for the phenomenon of historical fiction (though perhaps that development was inevitable in the course of things). Ivanhoe has proven the most durable of his medieval offerings, providing a fine blend of romance, adventure, intrigue, tragedy, and comedy. Various aspects of Scott’s plot are distorted (the Saxon-Norman divide, for instance, was a non-factor in the 1190s), and even his heraldry has been accused of “falseness.” Yet as an evocation of a chivalric world, with tournaments, combats, feasts, and “courtly” love, Ivanhoe still ranks high in the realms of literature. Students may find Scott’s pacing a tad slow, as long passages of description are interspersed with sudden hectic action sequences. Scott continued to develop his vision of chivalry and the crusades with the rather less popular The Talisman.

Stevenson, Robert Louis. The Black Arrow: A Tale of the Two Roses. New York: Penguin Books, new ed. 2007.

Stevenson, better known for Treasure Island, delves here into that perennially popular topic, the so-called Wars of the Roses. The main character, Dick, starts life as a Lancastrian (Red Rose) crossbowman, gradually changes sides to York, becomes a knight, rescues his lady love, and engages in many adventures. As is common with such historical fiction, Stevenson’s chronology is condensed, and various liberties are taken with historical circumstance, but on the whole this is a darker, somewhat earthier adventure tale, peopled with contradictory, more complex characters than, say, Men of Iron.

Tennyson, Alfred. Idylls of the King. New York: Penguin Classics, 1989.

Tennyson’s is perhaps the most influential reinterpretation of Malory, and the richness of the verse, allied to its specific interpretation of Camelot, has kept readers returning for generations. Nineteenth-century conceptions of chivalry form the core of the book, as Arthur’s knights engage in (Victorian) feats of derring-do and romance. Guinevere is perhaps the most complex character in the story, and her portrayal tells us much about Tennyson’s own moral prejudices and outlook.

Twain, Mark. A Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur’s Court. Edited and introduced by M. Thomas Inge. Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.

Perhaps the only chivalric satire worthy of being compared with Don Quixote, Twain’s Connecticut Yankee is a masterpiece of rapier-like wit. By accidental time travel, the Yankee finds himself at Camelot, and the Dark Ages meet the Victorian Age head-on. The results are actually anything but predictable. The Yankee exposes Merlin as a fraud, introduces education and newspapers to Arthur and his Knights, and makes the Round Table a Wall Street-like entity. The final breaking of the Round Table and the destruction of Arthurian chivalry is accomplished with trench warfare and modern weaponry. Perennially popular with undergraduates, Twain’s tall tale bears repeated reading.

III. Juvenile Literature

This category is admittedly very broad, and what I have presented here is only a sample of the multitude of “chivalry” books available to the educator—though hopefully a superior sample. I have given the age and grade brackets for each work, as listed in the publisher’s description on Books in Print; teachers might want to check these figures against editorial reviews on Amazon.com, where they are occasionally different.

Adkins, Jan. What if You Met a Knight? New York: Roaring Book Press, 2006. Ages 6-9, Grades 1-4.

This volume is a definite departure from most juvenile literature on knights and chivalry. Adkins presents knights as administrators, bullies, warriors, and general tough guys, and exposes the famous Knights of the Round Table as a fiercely dysfunctional group. Some of the content (for example, a beheading scene) is on the rougher side, as might be expected with this “realistic” approach to chivalry. Worth comparing with Fiona MacDonald’s more humorous You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Medieval Knight: Armor You’d Rather Not Wear (Brighton: Salariya Book Company, 2004), which takes the same approach, but in a lighthearted, more playful manner.

Carlson, Laurie. Days of Knights and Damsels: An Activity Guide. New edition. A Kid’s Guide series. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 1998. Ages 5-12, Grades Kindergarten-7.

In general, Carlson’s book is highly recommended by educators, and indeed she packs a considerable amount of material between the book covers. Some simplification and a few inaccuracies are bound to creep into a project of this nature, but on the whole her presentation and class activities are of a high quality, and can really help young students explore medieval life and experience. Making a sun dial, a Robin Hood Hat, constructing armor, exploring heraldry and medieval games—these are only a few of the activities which this excellent book offers.

Daly-Weir, Catherine. Coat of Arms. Illustrated by Jeff Crosby. New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 2000. Ages 7-11, Grades 2-6.

Daly-Weir’s presentation is colorful and informative. Most important from the classroom perspective, she includes a plastic stencil in order that students may create their own coats of arms—hopefully with some reference to the rules of heraldry!! For a more involved, but still brief, look at heraldry, instructors might consider Terence Wise’s Medieval Heraldry, from Osprey Publishing; this might especially suit older students.

Dover Coloring Books:

  • Adam, Winky. Knights Activity Book, 1998.
  • Chorzempa, Rosemary A. Design Your Own Coat of Arms: An Introduction to Heraldry, 1987.
  • Crawford, Thomas. King Arthur Coloring Book, 1996.
  • Green, John. Life in a Medieval Castle and Village, 1990.
  • ——–. Medieval Jousts and Tournaments, 1998.
  • Noble, Marty. Medieval Tapestries Coloring Book, 2004.
  • Smith, A. G. Castles of the World Coloring Book, 1986
  • ——–. Knights and Armor Coloring Book, 1985.
  • ——–. The Medieval Castle (Pictorial Archive), 2002.
  • Tierney, Tom. Medieval Fashions Coloring Book, 1998.

It is hard to go wrong with Dover coloring books, which are justly renowned for being both inexpensive and of high quality. A. G. Smith’s Knights and Armor, and John Green’s Medieval Jousts and Tournaments are especially good, not only in the amount of accurate detail which they present, but also in demonstrating the development of arms and armor over time.

Gravett, Christopher. Knight. Eyewitness Books. New York: Dorling Kindersley, 2007. Ages 9-12, Grades 4-7.

Gravett has done several volumes for the Osprey military series, and his production for Dorling Kindersley preserves the same high quality. As might be expected in this volume, Gravett focuses on the actual physical artifacts encountered in everyday life by knights and their world. Students should find the colorful and thematic content very helpful in developing an understanding of the period—especially after reading adaptations of chivalric literature, which understandably focus on the fanciful rather than the factual. An earlier edition of Knight was published in 2000, and teachers may find Medieval Life, from this same Eyewitness series, also worth considering. Compare with Gravett’s Castle and Knight, from Dorling Kindersley’s Eye Wonder series—this relies less on text and more on image to tell a simplified story of medieval chivalry.

MacDonald, Fiona, and David Salariya. How Would You Survive in the Middle Ages? How Would You Survive Series. London: Franklin Watts, 1997. Ages 10-13, Grades 5-8.

MacDonald and Salariya handsomely depict the glorious and squalid complexities of medieval life in colorful yet simple style. The book is especially useful because it is organized around the kinds of questions students might ask concerning the Middle Ages, such as “where would you live,” “what would you wear,” “who were your enemies,” and so on. Listed as “Out of Print (Available for Order).”

Milbourne, Anna, et. al. Stories of Knights and Castles. Stories for Young Children. London: Usborne Books, 2007. Alan Marks, illustrator. Ages 6-, Juvenile.

This volume is a handsome re-telling of tales from Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur. Great feats of derring-do are somewhat muted by the pastel illustrations, but the tales of Gareth, Lancelot and Meleagant, and so on are well done and will probably appeal to youngsters who have not been previously exposed to the (often weighty) richness of Malory.

Moseley, Keith (author), and M. P. Robinson (illustrator). Dragons: A Pop-Up Book of Fantastic Adventures. New York: Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2006. Ages 4-12, Grades Pre School-7.

This colorful volume contains, among other stories, dramatic retellings of Beowulf, and St. George and the Dragon, which are rather uncommon for these early grades (especially the St. George tale). Recommended for exploring the fantastic elements of medieval chivalric literature.

Osprey Publishing Military History Books. [Listed as “general adult”]

In the English-speaking world, Osprey is the premier popular military history series, and their offerings on all aspects of medieval military history have grown tremendously in the last decade. Whether one’s class wishes to know about William the Conqueror’s army in 1066, English knights during the Wars of the Roses, the Knights Templar, or the crusades, Osprey can answer the call, with well-written, lavishly illustrated accounts, often by prominent historians (the Templars, for instance, are treated by Helen Nicholson). The only drawback is the price tag for the average Osprey paperback. More recently, however, they have begun combining several smaller paperbacks into one larger hard-cover volume, which is far more cost-effective. Knight: Noble Warrior of England 1200-1600, and The Normans: Warrior Knights and Their Castles are especially recommended.

Steer, Dugald. Knight: A Noble Guide for Young Squires, by Sir Geoffrey de Lance. Cambridge: Candlewick Press, 2006. Ages 4-8, Grades Pre School to 3.

This pop-up and fold-out book is a remarkably comprehensive look at the medieval knight, with illustrations both serious and comical. Indeed, Steer’s range within so few pages is remarkable—he manages to cover warfare, heraldry, and literature, among other subjects. His text is clear, if somewhat idealistic. It is refreshing to find a book which explains very simply that war horses were used for war, and that knights generally rode palfreys. Recommended, and likely to appeal to a wide range of student.

Williams, Marcia, ed. and ill. Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. London: Walker Books, 2007. Ages 8-12, Grades 3-7.

Williams’ eye for the dramatic (and comic) makes this volume an excellent introduction to the world of Chaucer. A certain number of the stories (aside from the obvious “Knight’s Tale”) have some sort of chivalric content, and the rest convey some of the richness of late medieval life. Williams’ cartoon-like illustrations might not appeal to everyone, but the medium seems to retain much of the message—while rendering Chaucer suitable for young folk (no small feat in itself)!

IV. Web Sites

There are many websites currently available which have some manner of chivalric content. Those which I have included below are among the most useful and reliable, especially the Camelot Project and the ORB. Other sites worth considering for general (and some chivalric) content are Andrew Holt’s outstanding Crusades-Encyclopedia, at http://crusades-encyclopedia.com/, and the Labyrinth, from Georgetown, at http://labyrinth.georgetown.edu/.

The Camelot Project at the University of Rochester: Arthurian Texts, Images, Bibliographies and Basic Information. General editors Alan Lupack and Barbara Tepa Lupack. University of Rochester, Rochester, NY. http://www.lib.rochester.edu/CAMELOT.

The Camelot Project is the best online resource available to those who wish to become better acquainted with that most popular of chivalric themes, the world of Arthur and the Round Table. In particular, Alan Lupack’s “Sources for the Study of the Arthurian Legends, at http://www.lib.rochester.edu/camelot/acpbibs/genbib.htm, should prove extremely helpful in highlighting major Arthurian studies. In addition to bibliographies and collections of Arthurian literature, the home page contains links to other sites of possible interest to teachers looking for resources on chivalry in particular or the Middle Ages in general, most notably the Robin Hood Project.

Castles of Britain. Edited by Lise Hull. http://www.castles-of-britain.com/index.htm.

This is an excellent resource, especially useful for younger students. It is simply written, yet informative. Students should find the pictures and illustrations of castles and their components especially helpful. As an added bonus, and one sure to please, Hull has included an entertaining section on famous castle ghosts.

The Code of Chivalry. Edited by James Marshal. http://www.astro.umd.edu/~marshall/chivalry.html

This site is composed of Marshal’s culling from Gautier, Capellanus, and others (mostly) medieval. Most links do not work, but the site might be useful as basis of discussion. I have included it because, from my experience, it is often quickly discovered by undergraduates when they search “chivalry” on Google.

De Re Militari. http://www.deremilitari.org.

This is the website of the Society for Medieval Military History, and is a gold mine of primary sources and scholarly articles on just about any aspect of medieval warfare one can imagine. It is also consistently updated. Recommended in particular for high school students.

Internet Medieval Sourcebook. Edited by Paul Halsall. http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/sbook.html.

This website was (and is) the standard online medieval source reference, although due to increasing copyright issues a portion of the entrees are bibliographic citations, rather than links. Nevertheless, between the IMS and ORB (see below), instructors should be able to provide students with sources on just about any aspect of medieval history—very useful in general, and in particular for contextualizing chivalry.

The Knighthood, Chivalry, and Tournaments Resource Library. Edited by Brian Price. http://www.chronique.com/

Some links need to be updated, but most of the articles are written in a simple, direct style. Attempts to create a modern version of chivalry, reinterpreted and it seems heavily involved with the SCA (the Society for Creative Anachronism). Used in conjunction with medieval texts and authors, it might assist in examining the impact of chivalry and knighthood on today’s society, and why so many people continue to be fascinated by the knightly ethos.

The ORB: On-line Reference Book for Medieval Studies. http://www.the-orb.net/.

Over the last few years, the ORB has developed into a truly valuable resource for teachers and scholars. Its primary source holdings have expanded, and its encyclopedia entries and lesson plans/lecture notes sections are extensive and well-developed. Some of its holdings are unique. For instance, the ORB possesses the only (current) translation, to my knowledge, of the Rule of the Teutonic Knights. As a resource for the K-12 classroom, the ORB is definitely worth a close look.

V. Filmography

Most medieval films (even documentaries) are bound to raise some scholarly hackles. That being said, film can be an extremely powerful medium of instruction and exposure to historical situations. This is doubly so for chivalry, since it has always thriven on successive generations’ cultural imagination. The films below are a fair representation of Hollywood’s offerings in the realm of chivalry and knighthood. Some notable films which have been omitted from this list, but which instructors may wish to investigate for themselves, include Alan Ladd’s The Black Knight (1954), Tony Curtis’ Black Shield of Falworth from 1954 (based on Pyle’s Men of Iron), Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V (1989), Terry Jones’ Erik the Viking (1989), Antoine Fuqua’s King Arthur (2004), and Anthony Mann’s epic El Cid (1961).

Boorman, John, dir. Excalibur (1981). Orion Pictures.

This film has maintained a cult following, and at the time it was innovative in cinematography and special effects. It adheres tolerably well to the “classic” storyline of the Arthurian tales (and better than later imaginings, such as First Knight or King Arthur). Much of the action is quite campy (though that is a subjective judgment), and is allied with strong violence and sexual content (the Lancelot-Guinevere scenes are not platonic). The magical element of the Arthurian world is fully exploited, and the issues of knightly violence, honor, and feuding are handled in a fairly direct way.

Helgeland, Brian, dir. Knight’s Tale (2001), PG-13. Columbia Pictures.

One of the classic spoofs of chivalry, this film tells the tale of a low-born squire (Heath Ledger) who determines to “change his stars” and gain glory in the lists. Underneath all the laughs, gimmicks, and hokum lies some solid research, including details of tournament organization, rules, and medieval life in general—though the climactic sequence is a bit over the top. A bonus is Paul Bettany as (a chronologically misplaced) Chaucer. In general, even with Queen’s “We Will Rock You” and the crowd performing the Wave in the opening tournament, this is a strong evocation of the excitement and atmosphere of the late medieval tournament circuit.

Ivanhoe

Thorpe, Richard, dir. Ivanhoe (1952). MGM.
Orme, Stuart, dir. Ivanhoe—A&E (1997) UK: 12. A&E Television Networks.

These are the two most easily accessible film versions of Scott’s Ivanhoe—though the 1980s version, with James Mason, is excellent as well. Thorpe’s Ivanhoe was made in the heyday of Hollywood cinema, and benefits from a famous cast (Elizabeth Taylor as Rebecca, for instance) and meaty action sequences. The tournament is remarkably well done, as is the trial-by-combat. Perhaps the largest distortion is that Bois Gilbert is not a Templar knight, which changes the dynamic of his relationship with Rebecca considerably. “Chivalry” as such is also accepted as a set convention, which was not precisely the case in the 1190s. But such carping aside, the film remains an excellent and generally “family-friendly” version of the tale.

Orme’s edition is much darker, bleaker, and closer to the book’s story. It is also more graphically violent. Performances are excellent all around, and an added bonus is the tourney scene, omitted from Thorpe’s version. On the whole, Orme’s film delivers a more complex view of medieval society; there is less talk about chivalry, and more focus on the mechanics of combat and conducting dangerous intrigue.

Jones, Terry, dir. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1974, 2003). Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment.
What Connecticut Yankee and Don Quixote did in literature, Holy Grail does on film. It spoofs Malory’s world perfectly, as only Terry Jones can do, and the film generally proves popular with undergraduates after a semester of hard reading on chivalry. It also tends to be a film with which students are more-or-less already familiar. At the same time, the satire is not for the faint of heart; the iconic Black Knight scene, for instance, while capturing the bombastic goriness of chanson de geste, does involve a lot of blood and severed limbs. Lancelot’s wild rampage, hilarious as it is, captures chivalry’s destructive force to a tee. Recommended as lighter fare; might work well with the satires mentioned above.

McTiernan, John, dir. Thirteenth Warrior (1999). R. Touchstone Pictures.

This imaginative retelling of Beowulf benefits from a strong cast (led by Antonio Banderas), together with a spare and direct style. Since it is Beowulf, after all, there is no direct reference to “chivalry,” but themes such as martial skill and a certain “brotherhood of arms” stand out clearly. The fight scenes are quite violent—which is not surprising, since the heroes are facing a brutal and mysterious enemy.

Reynolds, Kevin, dir. Tristan and Isolde (2006). PG-13. Twentieth Century Fox.

Reynolds’ brooding retelling of the famous story is stripped of its Arthurian content, and, like Fuqua’s King Arthur, is set firmly in post-Roman Britain. Unlike King Arthur, however, Tristan and Isolde does not anachronistically speak of “knights,” but keeps to a more Beowulf-like social setting. There is an “early medieval” version of a tournament, but on the whole the film is a fair depiction of pre-chivalric warrior culture—regardless of what one thinks of the seventeenth-century poetry which Isolde reads at various intervals.

Scott, Ridley, dir. Kingdom of Heaven (2005) R. Twentieth Century Fox.

Scott’s (bloody) interpretation of the fall of Jerusalem in 1187, and the adventures of its (fictionalized) defender, Balian of Ibelin. Much of Balian’s quest for redemption centers on his attempts to be “the perfect knight.” Consequently, there is much discussion of what constitutes knighthood, what is expected of a knight, and how a knight should behave—all from a twenty-first century perspective. There are innumerable historical inaccuracies, a number deliberate (for the story line), and some doubtless inadvertent: regarding knighthood, there were many and varied opinions being aired in the late twelfth century. The dubbing ceremony as portrayed was not a universal formula (within a century that would be rather different). Most chivalry-related material is in the theatrical release, but the director’s cut, while much longer, makes a far better film overall.

Spielberg, Steven, dir. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) [PG?] Lucas Film/Paramount Pictures.

Spielberg’s modern casting of the Grail Quest might prove useful (and very entertaining) in discussing the appeal, role, and interpretation of medieval chivalric literature for modern audiences. Harrison Ford and Sean Connery need no introduction, and the emphasis on knights throughout the story, including an improvised joust during one of the chase sequences, enhances the film as a neo-“chivalric” tale.

Thorpe, Richard, dir. Knights of the Round Table (1953) MGM

In addition to Ivanhoe, Thorpe also directed one of the earlier Arthurian chivalric extravaganzas—in this case with Robert Taylor and Ava Gardner in the main roles. Great liberties were taken with the story line, of course—for instance, Galahad is only seen as a baby, Perceval alone achieves the Grail (though Galahad is promised the privilege), Mordred’s climactic battle is with Lancelot (guess who wins…), and Merlin is a wise councilor but no magician. Nevertheless, it remains a fun romp with much talk of chivalry, and many wandering knights, tournaments, quests, and, as Malory puts it, “deeds full actual.” All with 1950s Hollywood’s generally conservative approach to violence and sex.

Zucker, Jerry, dir. First Knight (1995) [PG-13]. Columbia Pictures.

This is probably one of the more reviled film versions of the Arthurian chivalric stories, but it explores the “meaning” of Camelot and chivalry in a way which few other films do, and for that it might make an interesting addition to classroom activities. The fight scenes are stylish and exciting (and slightly gimmicky), and the story revolves around the original Chrétien theme of Guinevere’s abduction by the evil Maleagant. Other than this theme, there is little that resembles Arthurian literature, except Arthur’s portrayal as the wise, conquering king of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s dubious history.

VI. Background Historiography and Scholarship

The studies below are some of the finest in the field of knighthood and chivalry; judicious use of their bibliographies and readings will guide the curious reader to further excellent studies. Unlike the previous sections, this one has no cognizance of availability or expense: Matthew Strickland’s book, for example, is very costly, while Keen’s is very cheap. Several of these volumes, especially Elizabeth Hallam’s and Andrea Hopkins’, can appeal to both the scholar and the enthusiast, and may work very well in the classroom.

Barber, Richard. The Knight and Chivalry. Revised edition. Woodbridge and Rochester: The Boydell Press, 2000.

Richard Barber is an independent scholar, and a very fine one. His survey of chivalry is, together with Keen’s book (discussed below), the best introduction to chivalry currently on the market. While not “ground-breaking” in the sense that Keen’s was, Barber’s study (originally published in 1970 and revised since) is more accessible, more colorful, and contains an excellent guide to further reading at the end. Both students and teachers should enjoy his stylish prose and clear enthusiasm for his subject.

Barber, Richard, and Barker, Juliet. Tournaments: Jousts, Chivalry and Pageants in the Middle Ages. New York: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1989.

While David Crouch’s excellent book on tournaments provides information on current scholarship. Barber and Barker’s book remains a perennial favorite—colorful, scholarly, and very accessible. They take a geographic approach to tournament, before delving into specific aspects of the event: chapter 6, on “Spiritual Condemnation and Public Disorder” is particularly noteworthy, as are the sections on late medieval tournaments, and tournaments as social events and occasions.

Broughton, Bradford B. Dictionary of Medieval Knighthood and Chivalry: Concepts and Terms. Illustrations by Megan Broughton Blumbergs. New York: Greenwood Press, 1986.
——-. Dictionary of Medieval Knighthood and Chivalry: People, Places, and Events. Illustrations by Megan Broughton Blumbergs. New York: Greenwood Press, 1988.

These two volumes are out of print and uncommon, but they are virtual goldmines of information, and among the very best of their kind. The only drawbacks, aside from being uncommon, are their dates of publication. Nearly all entries are linked to a scholarly source in the bibliography, but those bibliographies, although excellent, are now twenty years out of date.

Crouch, David. William Marshal. Second edition. Harlow: Longman, 2002.

There have been several studies of William Marshal’s career, and David Crouch, professor of history at the University of Hull, provides the most comprehensive, readable, and up-to-date of these in this excellent book. Scholarship and readability go hand in hand as Crouch provides important analysis of the Marshal’s life, giving us new insights into this remarkable knight’s world. The chapters on his household and on his tournaments are especially interesting for revealing the reality, as opposed to the glamorous Hollywood image, of knightly life in the twelfth century.

Girouard, Mark. The Return to Camelot: Chivalry and the English Gentleman. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981.

Girouard’s readable and copiously illustrated volume illuminates the number of ways in which nineteenth-century English culture re-imagined medieval chivalry. Among the subjects covered are sports, architecture, literature, art, empire, and the First World War. An excellent book for those curious about the origins of our modern conceptions of chivalry.

Hallam, Elizabeth, ed. Chronicles of the Age of Chivalry. London: Guild Publishing, 1987.

This volume is a well-illustrated, information-packed portrayal of the Plantagenet kings of England, from 1216 to 1377. Filled with passages from primary sources, some otherwise untranslated, the book is cast towards a popular audience, and might make a good reference tool for the class room.

Hopkins, Andrea. A Chronicle History of Knights. New York: Barnes and Noble Books, 2004.

Andrea Hopkins is a fine scholar, and her short, colorful book is a remarkably complete introduction to chivalry and knighthood. She crafts an excellent narrative while still managing to engage details through side bars and two-page summaries, and she gives one of the clearest, most concise descriptions of how chivalry came to be revived in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Recommended, for both the classroom and personal study.

Kaeuper, Richard W. Chivalry and Violence in Medieval Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Kaeuper is one of the current leading historians of chivalry, and has devoted much of his time to investigating the effect which chivalry, with its overtly violent ideology, had on public order and disturbances of the peace during the Middle Ages. Chivalry and Violence paints a picture of contradictions, disquiet, and vociferous demands that those called “knights” should behave better—the knights, meanwhile, were determined to have the best of both worlds, and claim both the right to exercise violence and their privileged place in the social order. Central to Kaeuper’s approach is the use and integration of chivalric literature with chronicles and other surviving historical documents.

Keen, Maurice. Chivalry. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1984.

In many respects, Keen’s study remains the seminal work on the subject, since it propounded the strong thesis that as an ideology chivalry did not “decline” in importance or relevance in the Middle Ages—at least, not as many historians (and more than one textbook) understood it. Keen focuses on chivalry as a concept, and its manifestation in various aspects of medieval culture. So, as opposed to Barber’s study, which discusses heraldry in passing throughout the text, Keen devotes an entire chapter to the science. Again, where Barber begins with the rise of the knight as mounted warrior with his own literature and emphasis on warfare, Keen begins with the “Idea of Chivalry,” moving to the secular and religious origins of the idea. Warfare, while implicit in much of what he is discussing, is treated concretely only in the last chapter. Keen’s book is also somewhat more ponderous to read, and more thickly detailed in notes and bibliography, than Barber’s. Together, they form an excellent two-volume set.

Painter, Sidney. French Chivalry; Chivalric Ideas and Practices in Mediaeval France. Ithaca: Great Seal Books, 1961.

Painter’s study, while old, remains a classic in the field. His classification of chivalry into three neat types—religious, feudal, and courtly chivalry—is questionable on various levels and grounds, but for such a short book Painter covers an enormous amount of ground with this schema. Ironically, although embracing chivalry as a concept, Painter was forced to conclude that there had never been a “golden age” of chivalry, and that knights seldom acted as Ramon Lull, discussed above, would have approved. Often popular with undergraduates.

Rogers, Clifford. The Middle Ages. Soldiers’ Lives through History. Westport: Greenwood Press, 2007.

Clifford Rogers, professor of military history at West Point, is one of the outstanding scholars of the Hundred Years War, and a noted expert on Edward III’s campaigns. His latest offering to the public is this comprehensive and eminently readable study of the medieval soldier—on both horse and foot, as archer and engineer. While it does not spend a great deal of time discussing chivalry per se, Rogers’ study can be of outstanding value in helping the student understand the full context of knights and the manner in which they waged war.

Strickland, Matthew. War and Chivalry: The Conduct and Perception of War in England and Normandy, 1066-1217. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

One of the most important studies on chivalry in the past decade, Strickland’s War and Chivalry takes a different approach to the subject. This well-written study attempts to trace the origins of the “laws of war” in chivalric conventions of combat, and Strickland makes an excellent case—and he certainly bridges the (largely artificial) gap between chivalry and warfare better than most other scholars. Highly recommended.

Uden, Grant. A Dictionary of Chivalry. Illustrated by Pauline Baynes. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1968.

Grant’s dictionary is considerably more dated and less scholarly than Broughton’s volumes, but has the advantage of being far more readily available on Amazon. The information contained within the covers is largely solid, and the illustrations lend the book added value for younger students.

Woodcock, Thomas, and John Martin Robinson. The Oxford Guide to Heraldry. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Two of the foremost authorities on heraldry unite to present this readable and eminently informative work. John Martin Robinson is the former Fitzalan Pursuivant of Arms Extraordinary, and Thomas Woodcock is the former Somerset Herald. The text is readable without being simple, and is copiously illustrated.

Verbruggen, Jan. The Art of Warfare in Western Europe during the Middle Ages : from the eighth century to 1340. Second edition. Translated by Sumner Willard and Mrs. R.W. Southern. Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 1997.

Verbruggen’s study has been superceded in its parts, but not in its entirety, by later work. Verbruggen, with Hans Delbruck (and perhaps one might add Charles Oman), largely founded medieval military history as a field, and his arguments that medieval military science was as developed and profound as that of modern warfare still convince. Verbruggen examines nearly all aspects of medieval warfare, and is also one of the first to propound the “rise of infantry” thesis—the idea that at some point infantry re-emerged to challenge knightly supremacy on the battlefield. The largest debate now among scholars is not if this phenomenon occurred, but when. The question of the knight’s dominance on the battlefield has not been completely settled, but Verbruggen’s analysis of knights and chivalry remains well worth reading.

Daniel P. Franke is a PhD candidate in History at the University of Rochester. He has contributed to The Camelot Project, and recently created an exhibit for The Rossell Hope Robbins Library entitled “Chivalry: Knights and the Knightly Ethos.”


Original Citation: The Once and Future Classroom , Volume VI, Issue 1, Spring 2008
http://www.teamsmedieval.org/ofc/SP08/chivbib.php

NOTE: Links have been corrected and/or deleted.  The original “look and feel”  of the journal has been preserved as much as possible, but the original logos have also been removed.  No editing to the actual texts has been done since their original publication.

TEAMS: Teaching Association for Medieval Studies