Presents a broad picture of the chivalric world of the medieval period. Profusely illustrated, it looks at the knight as the centre of chivalry; and his relation to literature, especially the vast cycle of Arthurian romances; the chivalric code towards women (an adoring, respectful attitude); and chivalry's influence on the Renaissance and later cultures.
Profusely illustrated and redesigned for a new generation of readers, Richard Barber's classic The Reign of Chivalry presents a broad picture of the chivalric world, and shows how chivalry affected or was affected by great social movements, great writers and great events, and analyses the legacy it passed down to later ages. The opening chapter looks at the central figure of the whole chivalric world, the knight, and asks why he is such a different figure from other fighting men. Following sections deal with chivalry in relation to the main themes of medieval literature, especially the vast cycle of Arthurian romances, and discuss the attitudes towards chivalry of writers such as Jean Froissart, whose pages cast a golden glow over the harsh realities of war. Later sections look at chivalry's influence on the Renaissance and later culture, beginning with the knight's transition to gentleman. The element by which chivalry is now most remembered, its respectful, even adoring, attitude towards women, is the subject of a wide-ranging discussion, covering both medieval reality and modern ideals. Richard Barber, author of Holy Grail: History of a Legend, Myths and Legends of the British Isles and King Arthur: Hero and Legend, has written an engaging and intriguing book on one of the most original concepts of the medieval mind.