Leonardo Bruni’s aim in the De militia (ca. 1420) was to co-opt the most glamorous of medieval ideals, the ideal of chivalry, and to reinterpret it in terms of Greco-Roman ideals of military service.
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.
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).