Medieval Europe was a rapidly developing society with a problem of violent disorder. Professor Kaeuper's original and authoritative study reveals that chivalry was not simply part of the solution. Chivalry praised heroic violence by knights, and fused such displays of prowess with honour, piety, high status, and attractiveness to women. Though the vast body of chivalric literature, here examined, praises chivalry as necessary to civilization, most texts also worry over knightly violence, criticize all ideals and practices of chivalry, and often propose reforms. The knights themselves joined the debate, absorbing some reforms, ignoring others, sometimes proposing their own. Complexity likewise characterized the interaction of chivalry with major governing
institutions ("church" and "state") emerging at the same time: kings and clerics both needed and feared the force of knighthood. This fascinating book lays bare the conflicts and paradoxes surrounding the concept of chivalry in medieval Europe.
Readership: General reader interested in medieval history; scholars and students of medieval history.
Richard Kaeuper, Professor of History, University of Rochester, New York State
"The ambiguities of the chivalry and the tensions that it creates in a civil society are fruitfully explored in Richard W. Kaeuper's Chivalry and Violence in Medieval Europe" - Years Work in English Studies
"Kaeuper's argument is not only convincing, but his presentation of the tensions throughout is quite captivating" - The Medieval Review
"The book is fun to read, full of ideas and thought provoking" - Jonathan Riley-Smith, Times Literary Supplement