TIMELINE FOR CHIVALRY
Compiled by Dr. Richard Abels
for HH315: Age of Chivalry and Faith at the United States Naval Academy.
(Feel free to use this document for academic purposes, but please provide proper citation)
1130 Chivalry: tournaments banned by the Council of Clermont, canon 9: “We
completely forbid those detestable fairs or festivals where knights customarily
gather by agreement and heedlessly fight among themselves to make show of their
strength and bravery, whence often result men's deaths and souls' peril. Should
any knight die on such an occasion he should not be denied penance and the last
rights if he asks for them; yet let him not enjoy Church burial.” This provides
evidence for the growing popularity of tournaments in
Marshal, the “flower of English
chivalry.” William was the fourth son of John fitz Gilbert, royal marshal
to the kings of
Emergence and development of
French chivalric literature and courtly society. The second half of the
twelfth century witnessed the flowering of French vernacular courtly
literature: romances, chansons
de geste, and troubadour
love poetry. The French poet Chrétien
de Troyes (flourished c.1160-x.1190) recast Welsh traditions about King Arthur and Geoffrey of Monmouth’s imaginative History of the Kings of Britain (see above 1138) as chivalric Arthurian Romances.
Chrétien’s contributions to the Arthurian legend include Lancelot, the love
affair between Lancelot and Guinevere (Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart,
dedicated to Countess Marie de Champagne), the stories of Eric and Enide and of Cligès and Fenice, and the
quest for the Holy Grail, introduced in his last work, Perceval, the Story of the Grail,
an unfinished poem written c.1190 for Philip of Alsace, count of Flanders.
(Several continuations of Chrétien’s Perceval
were written in the first half of the thirteenth century.) Chrétien was the
first writer to advance the idea of romantic love within marriage (e.g. in his
poem Yvain, The Knight with the Lion).
Thomas of Britain (c.1160) and Beroul (c.1190) wrote early treatments of the
story of Tristan and Iseult. Their contemporary Marie de France, writing in
Courtliness and chivalric romances were products of French courtly society; one might almost call them a design for living within a court. By the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries feudal society revolved around the courts of kings, counts, and other barons. These courts moved with the lord as he peregrinated through his various estates and castles (a necessity for 1) keeping order and control, and 2) for feeding a household that could number in the hundreds). A lord's court included his close kin (wife, children, brothers--those who slept in the chambers of the castle), other members of his household (bachelor knights, chaplains, domestic servants), and landed vassals whom he had summoned to escort or serve him. Courts were supposed to reflect the power and glory of a lord; the honor of a lord was reflected by the size and magnificence of his household. Those who entered a noble's household came within the sphere of his protection. To injure one under a lord's protection was to insult that lord. The problem faced by lords was how to maintain peace and order within large households, filled with belligerent young men competing with one another for favor. One solution was to punish harshly those who broke the peace. Another was to foster a code of behavior that was conducive to the maintenance of peace. Courtliness was a set of behaviors that permitted constant competition among young knights while restraining them from killing each other. It moderated the ethos of revenge. It served to domesticate the knights while preserving their martial values.
illuminated manuscripts of Chrétien de Troyes Perceval
and Yvain. Perceval: opening of poem (BNF fr.
12577, fol. 1, c.1340); Perceval
arrives at the Graal Castle, BNF fr. 12577; Chretien de
Troyes' Perceval: Arthur and
Guinevere welcome Perceval’s return (BNF
fr. 1453, fol. 27); early
13th-century manuscript of Perceval;
Calogrenant fights d'Esclados le Rouxr, from Yvain, BNF, fr. 1433 (c.1340) ; Scenes from Yvain: Yvain fights two demon brothers;
Yvain and Gawain unknowingly fight, BNF. fr. 1433 (c.1340); Yvain: Lunette reconciles Yvain with the
Lady Laudine, BNF, fr. 1433,(c.1340). “In Parenthesis,” an online collection
of texts maintained by
1177-1179 Chivalry: William Marshal is on the tournament circuit as partner to another “bachelor” (i.e. landless knight} in Henry's household, Roger de Gaugie; for two years they go from tourney to tourney. According to list kept by Wigain, the young king's clerk, they captured 103 knights in the course of 10 months.
were a staple of chivalric literature. All of the Arthurian romances depict their heroes as champions at tourneys
(e.g., YWAIN). Although there were probably similar sorts of war games in the
10th century, tournaments as such seem to have arisen toward the end of the
11th or beginning of the 12th century.
By 1125 the growing popularity of tournaments in France (especially
c.1185 Chivalry. Composition of existing rhyming section of the chanson de geste Raoul de Cambrai. Raoul de Cambrai, an epic poem about honor and revenge in which the courtly attribute of mesure, self restraint and moderation, is represented as a necessary complement to qualities of prowess, honor, and loyalty.
c. 1200-c.1220 Chivalry: Gottfried von Strassburg and Wolfram von Eschenbach. German chivalric literature, which drew upon French models, came into its own in the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. The three most important German romances were the anonymous Nibelungenlied (c.1190) (translation online in the Medieval German Series on “In Parenthesis”), Gottfried von Stassburg’s Tristan (c.1210) and Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Pazifal (before 1220). Gottfried’s and Wolfram’s contemporary, Walther von der Vogelweide, was the greatest of the German minnesingers (composers of courtly love poetry). The most interesting—and weirdest—minnesinger of the next generation was undoubtedly the Bavarian knight and royal minister Ulrich von Liechtenstein (c.1200-1278), who wrote a pseudo-autobiography “The Service of Ladies” (1255) in which he described his Venusfahrt (a jousting tour that he undertook in drag) (1226) and his Artusfahrt (another jousting tour, but this time dressed as King Arthur) (1240). For Ulrich, see under 1226 and 1255. Walther von der Vogelweide from the Codex Manesse, c.1304.
1223 Chivalry: on the Crusader state
Ulrich von Liechtenstein’s “Venus tour”
(Venusfahrt). In his poetic
autobiography (see under 1255), the Bavarian knight Ulrich von Liechtenstein
describes his undertaking of a tourneying journey in honor of "Frau
Venus" and his lady love. Dressed in full armor covered by a plus size
woman's dress and wearing a blond woman's wig, Ulrich rode from
Ulrich von Liechtenstein writes his autobiographical poem “Frauendienst” (“The Service of
Ladies”) describing two
tourneying journeys that he undertook, the Venusfahrt
(Venus tour) (1226) and the Artusfahrt
(King Arthur tour) (1240). For the former, he dressed up as "Frau
Venus", donning a plus plus size woman’s dress over his armor and wearing
a blond woman's wig. He travelled from
c.1280 Chivalry. Catalan knight turned Franciscan missionary, philosopher, and mystic Ramon Lull (1232-1315) composes Libre de ordre de cavayleria (Book of the Order of Chivalry), an account of the origins of Christian chivalry and the qualifications, qualities and training required of a chivalric knight, emphasizing wisdom, charity, loyalty, courage, generosity, humility, honor, and prowess. The right reason to become a knight, Lull writes, is to do right; the wrong reason is for advantage and rank.
Qualities of a chivalric knight (Lull). A proper chivalric knight MUST be 1.able-bodied; 2. of good lineage; 3. sufficiently wealthy to support his rank; 4. wise (to judge his inferiors and supervise their labors; to advise his lord); 5. generous (holds open house within the limits of his means); 6. loyal; 7. courageous; 8. honorable.
Ethical duties of the knight (Lull): 1. to defend the Christian faith, 2. to defend his lord, 3. to protect the weak (women, children); 4. to exercise constantly by hunting and jousting in tournaments; 5. to judge the people and supervise their work (the knight acts here as a royal agent and servant); 6. to pursue robbers and evil-doers. A chivalrous knight must avoid 1) pride, 2) lechery, 3) false oaths, 4) and especially treachery (=betraying one's lord, sleeping with his wife, or surrendering his castle).
Lull’s Libre de ordre de cavayleria became one of the most popular handbooks of chivalry of the later medieval and Renaissance periods, and was often incorporated into other handbooks and romances.
1304 Chivalry: Codex Manesse. The Codex Manesse or Große Heidelberger Liederhandschrift is an illuminated manuscript collection of the songs of the German minnesänger, compiled for the Manesse family of Zürich. The main section was completed in 1304, with an additional material added c.1340. The manuscript contains not only the fullest collection of love poetry in Middle High German, it also has 137 portraits of the poets, each in a representative pose. (Ulrich von Liechenstein, for example, is shown dressed as “Frau Venus,” see above 1226.)
1348 Chivalry: Order of the Garter. Probable date for King Edward III of England’s foundation of the Order of the Garter. The Order of the Garter was either the second or third of the secular orders of chivalry that various European kings instituted in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Although characterized by elaborate ritual, ceremony, and pageantry consciously drawn from Arthurian romance, the chivalric societies had also practical political puproses: the “recruitment and consolidation of political loyalty; the quest for diplomatic alliance and advantage; the maintenance of legal and social status and privilege; the promotion of activities such as tourneying which had strong tones of upper-class exclusiveness” (Maurice Keen, Chivalry 190). (Manuscript illustration of Edward III granting the duchy of Aquitaine to his son Edward the Black Prince. Sir Geoffrey Lutrell on horseback assisted by his wife and daughter, from the Lutrell Psalter, c.1330)
c.1350 The French knight Geoffrey de Charny composes the Livre de chevelarie (The Book of Chivalry), a treatise on chivalry, the guiding principle of which is “he who achieves more, the more worthy.” Geoffrey de Charny’s focus is the quest for earthly honor achieved through deeds of arms, though the entire work is infused with Christian religious feeling.