Modern Mythologies of Medieval Chivalry

Authored by: Dominique Barthélemy

The Medieval World

Print publication date:  October  2001
Online publication date:  September  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415181518
eBook ISBN: 9781315016207
Adobe ISBN: 9781136500053

10.4324/9781315016207.ch12

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Abstract

Our history-books tell the reassuring and happy story of civilisation’s progress in the twelfth century. That period saw the rough habits of a warrior class becoming gentler and more courtly: if they still resorted to fighting, they did so for causes that were just, in crusades or in royal service, or as a game or sport in tournaments. They became knights, that is, members of an ‘order’, and they entered this through the ritual of dubbing which was at once a great celebration and almost a sacrament. Plenty of noble families still pride themselves on being descended from these people. And even a bourgeoisie as confident and proud of itself as that of the nineteenth century liked to say that it had recovered the model conduct of the chivalrous society that had come before it. Even today, western man yearns to have the courage of the knight, while western woman dreams of the knight as an ideal lover! And the ideal chevalier is of course a Frenchman by definition.

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