Etymology[ edit ] The word knight, from Old English cniht "boy" or "servant" is a cognate of the German word Knecht "servant, bondsman, vassal". Swithun describes a mounted retainer as a cniht. While cnihtas might have fought alongside their lords, their role as household servants features more prominently in the Anglo-Saxon texts. In several Anglo-Saxon wills cnihtas are left either money or lands.
How often have you muttered this phrase when thinking of something and wished that things could just be like they used to be. A common sentiment, it is actually responsible for distorting the realities of our collective past because it makes us think that everything "then" was a lot nicer, a lot simpler, and maybe just plain better than how things are now.
Yet in point of fact, the idealistic history we imagine is almost always entirely false and it is the job of historians to sift through that illusory past and figure out where romanticism ends and actual history begins. In Chivalry in Medieval England, Nigel Saul aspires to these aims as he discusses one of the most distorted topics in medieval history: Although not without its minor faults, Saul delivers on his promise to separate the common impression of chivalry as a fantastical code of conduct for brave and heroic knights from the reality that it was an aristocratic lifestyle with frequent internal contradictions which were often openly acknowledged and accepted by the contemporaries who practiced it.
Chivalry as a concept emerged around the 10th century AD in France when the Christian church began attempting to regulate the violence endemic to Frankish society. The term comes from the French word chevalier, or "knight", who derives his name from cheval, or horse.
Although the exact origins of the term "knight" are unknown—as cniht in Old English and knecht in German both refer to a "servant" or "bondsman"—the fact remains that the concept of a servant-soldier fighting on horseback is the central concept of chivalry; peasants need not apply.
Then over time, because the Frankish clan structure combined with Western Christian practices, a martial elite arose which came to view violence as its primary and hereditary profession.
It was this violence that the church attempted to regulate, giving rise to a code meant for those horse-bound "knights" which later became known as chivalry.
Before that time, there is no indication that chivalry as a concept existed in England as there was no strong tradition of horse-bound elite warfare.
Although there were exceptions, the Anglo-Saxons as a rule fought on foot while the victorious Normans came with horses, moderately heavy armor, lances, and comparatively organized battle tactics. It was therefore the Norman elite with their social, cultural, economic, and political practices who would develop and perpetuate the chivalric lifestyle in England.
As Saul notes in his introduction, his primary aim is to discuss this English aristocracy of the Middle Ages who put chivalry center-stage. In his 18 chapters plus a rather brief introduction and conclusion his discussion ranges broadly across chivalric practice and experience to illuminate the relationship between chivalry and the main political, military, social, and artistic currents of the day.
Intertwined with these topical discussions is a loose chronological narrative of its aforementioned origins through its practice and eventual decline in medieval England from the 11th to 16th centuries.
Through the very creative and effective use of historical accounts, government records, paintings, and epic poems, Saul does an excellent job of covering each topic he chooses to discuss. His narrative and most of his topical discussions though, while well-researched and excellently presented, are not groundbreaking in terms of historical conclusions.
In Chapter 14, for example, he agrees with the current opinion that chivalry rendered the position of aristocratic women in society rather ambiguous. This is because, while they were made objects of reverence and therefore could wield power over men desirous of their companythey were at the same time relegated to the position of appendages to men in a hyper-masculine martial society.
Moreover, as chivalry became more stylized, women were increasingly restricted in their behavior because any deviation from the chivalric ideal of the passive, beautiful female was gradually more unacceptable.
The higher the pedestal, it seems, the harder the fall. Similarly, in Chapter 11 he discusses the extremely ambiguous relationship between Christianity and chivalry. Chivalry was itself a vocation of secular figures—knights being feudal vassals of political leaders—and yet religion and religious practice were endemic to the lifestyle.May 05, · The shields of the medieval period have a rich history.
The different types of shields can tell us much about the events and developments of the medieval period. Their construction and decoration reveal much about the Middle Ages and the people who populated leslutinsduphoenix.coms: A History of Juvenile Execution in the United States.
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The first, he calls “knighthood before chivalry”—the beginnings of the military profession in the period before kings and other noblemen would have called themselves knights. In the second period, such high-born men begin to cultivate an identity as knights.
Evident also is the notion that knighthood started out as a lower level of aristocracy. However, by the mid-eleventh century, the knights were seen as a part of a distinct class, a hereditary caste, a true nobility. This viewpoint is a newer model and states history represents continual progress and advancement of the human race.
(evolution). Generations build on progress of former generations to reach a . This lushly produced minute History Channel documentary does a pretty admirable job of covering some major figures and events of the Early Middle Ages or "Dark Ages," i.e. the period of European history between the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century that represented the end of classical antiquity and the First Crusade in the 11th /5().