Meet the Real Ulrich von Liechtenstein

Ulrich von Liechtenstein in the Codex Manesse

If you’ve ever seen A Knight’s Tale, you’ll know that the titular knight takes on the name of Ulrich von Liechtenstein in order to joust on the tournament circuit and win the hand of his lady fair. What you may not have known is that there seems to have been a real thirteenth-century knight named Ulrich von Liechtenstein, who spent his youth jousting to win the heart (and body) of a capricious lady, and then wrote a book about it.

Henry V, Flower of Chivalry

Henry V depicted in A Chronicle of England: B.C. 55 – A.D. 1485 (1864)

Kingship and chivalry were not separate constructs in late medieval didactic works, chronicles and biographies which praised ideal qualities like loyalty largesse, honour and above all prudence that were essential for both kings and knights.

Five Medieval Minutes with Steven Muhlberger

combat of the thirty

Formal deeds of arms were an opportunity for one group of people to show off their skills – particularly their horsemanship – and for other people to appreciate how bold and daring they were.

Genre Medievalisms: Geek Goes Chic!

Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in HBO's, 'Game of Thrones'. Photo courtesy of (TV Guide)

Is Cersei a collection of bad medieval stereotypes? Have nerds gone mainstream? Were American cowboys a modern retelling of the medieval knight? Put down that comic, put away your bag of dice, and indulge your inner nerd.

Conflicting Perspectives: Chivalry in Twelfth-Century Historiography

Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des Manuscrits, Division occidentale, Français 226, fol. 256v, Bataille de Tinchebray (1106)

Historians have found the task of defining medieval chivalry to be an elusive task.

The Anglo-Saxon War-Culture and The Lord of the Rings: Legacy and Reappraisal

The Lord of the Rings - Aragorn

The literature of war in English claims its origin from the Homeric epics, and the medieval accounts of chivalry and the crusades.

Medieval Books for Christmas

The Middle Ages - Johannes Fried

It’s that time of year again – the mad scramble for the perfect Christmas gift for the historian, nerd, avid reader on your list. Here are a few suggestions for you – new releases for December and January!

Extralegal and English: the Robin Hood Legend and Increasing National Identity in the Middling Sorts of Late Medieval England

Robin Hood statue outside of Nottingham Castle - Photograph by Mike Peel

The legend was clearly not the only work of popular culture in what I propose as the long fifteenth century, but it does serve as a very useful representation for examining the growth of Englishness.

Nicolette : action transvestite, or, who and what is the heroine of Aucassin et Nicolette?

Aucassin and Nicolette, 19th-century oil-on-canvas by Marianne Stokes

In this paper, I will show how Nicolette is constantly, deliberately, changing, in appearance and identity, from the beginning of the story, and how she is thus Izzard’s action transvestite.

Medieval Misogyny and Gawain’s Outburst against Women in “‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight - from original manuscript, date unknown.

The view has been gaining ground of late that the Gawain of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, a knight renowned as ‘Pat fyne fader of nurture’ (1. 919) and as ‘so cortays and coynt’ of his ‘hetes’ (1. I525), degenerates at the moment of leave-taking from the Green Knight, his erstwhile host, to the level of a churl capable of abusing the ladies of that knight’s household (11.2411 -28).

Caught in Love’s Grip: Passion and Moral Agency in French Courtly Romance

The art of courtly love

French royal courts in the late twelfth century were absolutely smitten with love. Troubadaours traveled from place to place reciting stories of knights and the ladies they wooed.

The Physicality of Service in German Ideas of Knighthood, c.1200-1500

German Knight - Jörg (Georg) von Ehingen

Jörg’s memoir is a particularly informative example of how one knight understood his own calling to knighthood and his practice of it. The medieval knight had a voice, and although precious few memoirs like Jörg’s exist, knightly perspectives inform a considerable breadth of primary materials.

A Kiss Is Just a Kiss: Heterosexuality and Its Consolations in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight - Tolkien

The famous line from that modern romance- “A kiss is just a kiss”- is the message the Gawain-poet gave his listeners six centuries ago.

The American Dark Ages and the Terrorist Witch in Season of the Witch


In this article we argue that medieval films are not to be analyzed according to their faithfulness to the known historical sources, but that they can only be fully analyzed by understanding medievalist codes, traditions and (filmic) intertextuality.

Chivalry comes to the Getty Museum

A Royal Wedding Feast; An Unsuitably Dressed Guest  Cast into Darkness, 1469. Follower of Hans Schilling  (German, active 1459 - 1467) and from the Workshop of  Diebold Lauber (German, active 1427 - 1467).The J. Paul  Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Ms. Ludwig XV 9, fol. 88v

The J. Paul Getty Museum’s newest exhibition Chivalry in the Middle Ages, which begins on July 8, 2014 at the Getty Center in Los Angeles, demonstrates how manuscripts of a variety of genres, ranging from romances to hunting treatises, played a central role in promoting the tenets of chivalry.

‘Protecting the non-combatant’: Chivalry, Codes and the Just War Theory

Medieval War - Royal 16 G VI f. 427v Civil war in England - image courtesy British Library

The concept of chivalry, a traditional code of conduct idealised by the knightly class relating to times of both peace and war, dominated the medieval period and many of the scholars who contributed to the principle of jus in bello were in fact writing about chivalry.

Stains on shining armour: Perceptions of chivalry during the reign of Edward III, 1327-1377

Harley 4379 f. 99 Knights

How did chivalry influence the life of a knight in the fourteenth century and how were the ideals of chivalry reflected in practice?

Knightly Bird Vows: A Case Study in Late Medieval Courtly Culture

Medieval Birds

In the late Middle Ages, there was a series of instances wherein knights vowed upon birds.

Crusading as a knightly deed

Battle of Mansura

How far do the works of Jean of Joinville and James I of Aragon depict crusading as an integral part of chivalry in the thirteenth century?

The “Discrete Occupational Identity” of Chaucer’s Knyght

Chaucer’s Knyght - knights

Popular critical opinion favors reading the pilgrim Knyght of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales as the representative of the idealized chivalric knight; however, the pilgrim Knyght bears the hallmark of the early professional soldier that began to evolve as early as the eleventh century.

The Knights in the Middle Ages of England

Knights Templar on a tomb

Chivalry was a special phenomenon in the Middle Ages of Europe, and was also a part of the military system in the Middle Ages of Europe.

Parzival, the perfect Medieval hero?


When we now think of knights, we automatically think of knights in shining armours, saving damsels in distress while killing dragons and other mythical creatures. But is this image we have of these heroes correct? Was the Medieval hero really just a tough guy who saved beautiful ladies and killed the ´bad guys´. In this paper I will try to give a standard description of what a Medieval hero really was. After which I will try to determine if Parzival really was a medieval hero, compared to the standards that I have tried to set.

Christian warriors and the enslavement of fellow Christians

Detail of a miniature of a battle during the Civil War in England.  -   Click on the image for the maximum size view. Royal 16 G VI   f. 427v  British Library

In this paper I shall argue that this most striking innovation was fundamental to the emergence of an effective notion of non-combatant immunity, itself widely regarded as the key norm in modern discussions of ius in bello.

Chaucer’s reading list: Sir Thopas, Auchinleck, and Middle English romances in translation

Geneviève Receiving King Mark’s Letter, by the Master of the Vienna Mamerot. Romance of Tristan; France, Bourges? dated 1468. Pierpont Morgan Library, MS M.41, f. 24v (detail).

One frustration of engaging in any branch of European medieval studies as an academic pursuit is that few claim expertise about the ancient or Roman worlds, but seemingly everyone on an internet discussion forum believes him or herself knowledgeable about the medieval period, usually based on patently false beliefs.

The Unicorn, St Andrew and the Thistle: Was there an Order of Chivalry in Late Medieval Scotland?

Scotland - chivalric crests

A common expression of kingship throughout Europe in the fifteenth century was the founding of orders of chivalry. Whether the Scottish crown also attempted to appropriate the ideologies of chivalry in this way is important to establish.

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