Comparative Studies of Knighthood?

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Comparative Studies of Knighthood?

Postby Lyceum » 29 Oct 2014 14:35

I hope this is in the right section. I figured I'd ask here since people seem to know their medieval history. I'm fully aware that "knight" and "knighthood" is an amorphous term and that Europe is a pretty big place, so generally I'm thinking in terms of...do let's say aristocratic males brought up in a tradition of warfare.

Normally I'd play the game of "pick a related book and follow the bibliography" but that has not been fruitful outside of bringing me to B. Arnold's "German Knighthood: 1050-1300" which I've enjoyed and Cowell on arisocratic ethos which has been interesting but not *quite* what I'm looking for and very literary based from what I've read so far.

I've tried going the other route and looking at the development of "knighthood", trusting that I'd find a serious discussion of societal development but so far all I've came across are some head shakingly logically untenable statements made about Rome. But, anyway, since I've no formal training in this discipline I'm very much stumbling in the dark. I get that it's a big topic but someone must have tried some comparative work?
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Re: Comparative Studies of Knighthood?

Postby the underground man » 29 Oct 2014 19:43

I've never really been a medievalist (primarily an early modernist now training as an archivist!) but I do know of some places to start.

Richard Kaeuper's work on the subject should still be relatively good for this. Across a number of books he addresses the relationship between chivalry, violence, law and religion. (Such as in Chivalry and Violence in Medieval Europe 1999 I think) Moreover, his work will be a good launching off point for further study. Another work that is more recent and, if memory serves, quite broad, is Maurice Keen's Chivalry from 2012. A former colleague of mine, that was training to as a medievalist, found it to be a good survey of the subject, so it could be the best place to start. Might have better luck following the footnotes in these books too, as some of these studies are quite recent. A heads up, however, as many still lean heavily on the literature, as they give us a lot of information in regards to the ideals behind chivalry.

Searching for works exploring medieval masculinity may also help, as knighthood and chivalric honor were central to the identity of an entire class/order of men (I think, iirc my some of my colleague's books, Ruth Karras wrote From Boys to Men on this subject. Could be worth a look).

For more legal developments associated with the development of knighthood, I think you'd be better off looking into histories concerning the general social/constitutional structures of the medieval Europe. This is where I get a bit hazy though, as I'm not too familiar with this stuff beyond the broader, classics about medieval law/religion/social structure that I read to get a basis for early modern topics.

If you don't mind essay collections (and something which faces later than the Middle Ages), Spierenberg's Men and Violence which focuses notions of martial identity, violence, the importance of being armed, and masculinity. Hopefully this wall of text gives you some ideas! Good luck with your book hunt.
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Re: Comparative Studies of Knighthood?

Postby MugginsToadwort » 29 Oct 2014 21:18

From a military point of view, Delbruck tracks the rise of the mounted warrior, and Verbruggen looks at tactics and costs.
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Re: Comparative Studies of Knighthood?

Postby Martin Greywolf » 30 Oct 2014 09:26

One way to go about it would be to pick up a book dealing with a specific knight aimed at academical readers. They often have chapters detailing how nobility looked like, and how it wanted to look like. That's essentially making your own comparative study, sadly, but I don't think we really have one of those yet.

An interesting book is "A knight and his king" (Rytier a jeho kráľ), dealing with Stibor of Stiboricz and emperor Sigismund, but as far as I know, it is available only in slovak. A good read mainly because it explains how feudalism and knighthood worked in Hungary, especially the familiares system and temporary holdings.
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Re: Comparative Studies of Knighthood?

Postby Sean M » 30 Oct 2014 16:46

Lyceum wrote:I hope this is in the right section. I figured I'd ask here since people seem to know their medieval history. I'm fully aware that "knight" and "knighthood" is an amorphous term and that Europe is a pretty big place, so generally I'm thinking in terms of...do let's say aristocratic males brought up in a tradition of warfare.

Normally I'd play the game of "pick a related book and follow the bibliography" but that has not been fruitful outside of bringing me to B. Arnold's "German Knighthood: 1050-1300" which I've enjoyed and Cowell on arisocratic ethos which has been interesting but not *quite* what I'm looking for and very literary based from what I've read so far.

I've tried going the other route and looking at the development of "knighthood", trusting that I'd find a serious discussion of societal development but so far all I've came across are some head shakingly logically untenable statements made about Rome. But, anyway, since I've no formal training in this discipline I'm very much stumbling in the dark. I get that it's a big topic but someone must have tried some comparative work?

You might like Sue Reynolds' "Fiefs and Vassals." Guy Halsall has criticized a lot of theories on early medieval warfare on archaeological grounds. Maybe Conor Kostick's "The Social Structure of the First Crusade" which I have not yet read?

There is a lot of work on knights and chivalry in the HYW by eg. Steven Muhlberger, but it tends to focus on England and France.
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Re: Comparative Studies of Knighthood?

Postby George S. » 31 Oct 2014 13:08

I could provide you with some interesting facts about knights and knightly investiture in medieval kingdom of Serbia, if you like. It's not much but...
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Re: Comparative Studies of Knighthood?

Postby Lyceum » 03 Nov 2014 17:15

Unfortunately my Slavic is literally limited to some Old Church Slavonic from a philology lecture or two and some very basic Croatian. I guess adding "dobro" to everything doesn't count lol. :lol:

Thanks guys, this has been helpful. I think pursuing socio-economic work more generally might have been helpful but that really is massively outside of my purview. Kaeupter ("Chivalry") was especially helpful.
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Re: Comparative Studies of Knighthood?

Postby George S. » 03 Nov 2014 21:39

Lyceum wrote:Unfortunately my Slavic is literally limited to some Old Church Slavonic from a philology lecture or two and some very basic Croatian. I guess adding "dobro" to everything doesn't count lol. :lol:

It's on English, no need to know any Slavonic language, but ok :wink:
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Re: Comparative Studies of Knighthood?

Postby Chiron » 04 Nov 2014 10:30

Good to see you back!

Not quite medieval but a good look at the psychology, "Renaissance military memoirs" by Yuval Noah Harari gives a good comparative study of motivations and self identification. Carl Stephenson's medieval Feudalism is a good overview and touches on the conflicting schools arguing for latin and germanic origin. I would however definitely suggest both Delbrück and Verbruggen although they, on a military level, put far too much focus on field engagements in my view.
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Re: Comparative Studies of Knighthood?

Postby Lyceum » 21 Dec 2014 14:18

Thanks! And you were right that stepping back a bit and just diving into feudalism might be helpful. I've read most of the suggestions in the thread by now and while my lack of being a medievalist has definitely hampered my critical engagement it has all been rather enlightening. :) I think this is end of this current research bender for now though. :lol:
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