All the king's men : chivalry and knighthood in England, 1327-77
Thesis or dissertation
- © 2014 Matthew Thompson. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.
The reign of Edward III oversaw something of a formative period in the history of England. In the early years of the reign, the military community was engaged in the Scottish wars, and from 1337 England embarked on her greatest military endeavour to date, a conflict we have come to know as the Hundred Years War against France, the greatest military power in Europe. It was Edward’s reign that saw the first ravages of the great plague, the rise of the English language, and what has been termed a medieval military revolution that changed the way wars were fought forever.
Chivalry is a complex subject, yet for many, it is central to the way in which knights interacted with one another and conducted themselves in war and peace. It is the aim of this thesis to gain an understanding of what chivalry meant to English knights in this most tumultuous, glorious and tragic of times, where knights were simultaneously at the height of their powers, and critically under threat as a dominant class socially and militarily. Thorough an examination of a sample of the military community, the focus will fall upon on what can be learned of their motivations and attitudes, in an attempt to evaluate how these observable characteristics relate to chivalry as described in didactic and romantic works.
Methodologically, the approach adopted is influenced by the work of historians such as Andrew Ayton, examining the characteristics and relationships of the military community. Yet chivalry is a cultural phenomenon, and cannot be understood through an empirical approach alone. A socio-cultural position must also be adopted if we are to understand what chivalry meant in England in the reign of Edward III, encompassing many aspects of knightly culture and identity. This blend in approach will provide a fresh perspective on some old issues, and enable us to get closer to the chivalry of the English.
- Department of History, The University of Hull
- Sponsor (Organisation)
- University of Hull
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