Gallant medieval knights

A sobering account for those in search of knighthood

In today’s excerpt – the knights of the Middle Ages were anything but gallant, often bastard sons of minor nobility, unable to inherit, and joined to roving bands of thugs. And jousting tournaments were in no small part a way of keeping them out of trouble:
“It was … at the height of the fairs of Champagne and the Italian mer?chant empires, between 1160 and 1172, that the term ‘adventure’ be?gan to take on its contemporary meaning. The man most responsible for it was the French poet Chretien de Troyes, author of the famous Arthurian romances — most famous, perhaps, for being the first to tell the story of Sir Percival and the Holy Grail. The romances were a new sort of literature featuring a new sort of hero, the ‘knight-errant,’ a warrior who roamed the world in search of, precisely, ‘adventure’ — in the contemporary sense of the word: perilous challenges, love, trea?sure, and renown. Stories of knightly adventure quickly became enor?mously popular, Chretein was followed by innumerable imitators, and the central characters in the stories — Arthur and Guinevere, Lance?lot, Gawain, Percival, and the rest — became known to everyone, as they are still. This courtly ideal of the gallant knight, the quest, the joust, romance and adventure, remains central to our image of the Middle Ages. Continue reading “Gallant medieval knights”