Interpreting Warfare and Knighthood in Late Medieval France: Writers and Their Sources in the Reign of King Charles VI (1380-1422)

Interpreting Warfare and Knighthood in Late Medieval France: Writers and Their Sources in the Reign of King Charles VI (1380-1422)

By Zeynep Kocabiyikoglu Cecen i

PhD Dissertation, Bilkent University (2012)

Detail of a miniature of Charles VI of France leaving with his army on expedition to Calais.- British Library MS

Abstract: This thesis makes an analysis of different views on warfare and knighthood focusing on the late Middle Ages, though looking back to what came before, with an argument that a ‘new view’ was held by certain authors during the reign of Charles VI in France. This coincided with a certain phase of the Hundred Years’ War where the French were very conscious of their military failures.

Medieval views on warfare and knighthood are examined under two basic categories: the view promoted through the romances to a lay audience, and the view developed by ecclesiastical authors, i.e. theologians, academics and canon-lawyers meant for a highly educated audience. While thesis shows that the ‘romance view’ perseveres into the early fifteenth century, it suggests a growing vogue for a ‘new view’ that is also adressed to a lay audience, but is closer to the ‘ecclesiastical view’ in many of its approaches.

The new view is nevertheless different from the latter in certain respects, including the way it uses Ancient Roman sources on warfare, though these are also used to an extent in the ‘ecclesiastical view.’ It will illustrate this new view in the works of three authors residing in France at the time: Honoré Bouvet, Philippe de Mézières and Christine de Pizan. While evaluating these authors’ ideas on warfare and knighthood from the point of view of the contemporary military situation, the thesis will also briefly address their relevance to humanism.

Click here to read this thesis from Bilkent University

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