The Knight Without the Sword: A Social Landscape of Malorian Chivalry

Boydell & Brewer, 2000 - 155 sider
The chivalrous society portrayed in Malory's 'Morte Darthur' is apparently very different from the actual fifteenth-century world in which the author lived. While many critics of earlier generations considered Malory's romance a work of anachronistic escapism, some recent scholars propose that his romanticized world of chivalry and the hard-nosed gentry community described in contemporary letter collections represent two complementary but irreconcilable aspects of fifteenth-century aristocratic life. This book challenges both assumptions by reading behind the chivalrous façade of Malory's work the anxieties and aspirations of the real fifteenth-century aristocracy - especially squirearchical landowners such as the author himself - who faced the world around them armed with practical wisdom, charisma, and instinct for survival, as well as with the glistening sword and courtly rhetoric. As the title, 'The Knight without the Sword' suggests, it is yet another study of the Malorian knight and chivalry, but the study of the knight without his sword and chivalrous outfit. In three main chapters are presented three distinct pictures of the Malorian knight - the portrait of the knight as a landowner, as an active member of political society, and as a representative of a social group earnestly preoccupied with its self-image and place in society. These three portraits, set behind the strong silhouettes of the archetypal knight-errant covering the foreground of Malory's chivalric narrative, create a composite picture not only of Malorian chivalry but of the mentality of the late medieval aristocracy in general.

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