After many years at the margins of historical investigation, the late medieval English gentry are widely regarded as an important and worthy subject for academic research. This book aims to explore the culture of the wide range of people whom we might include within the late medieval gentry, taking in all of landed society below the peerage, from knights down to gentlemen, and including those aspirants to gentility who might under traditional socio-economic terms be excluded from the group. It begins by exploring the origins of, and influences on, the culture of the late medieval gentry, thus contributing to the ongoing debate on defining the membership of this group. The book considers the gentry's emergence as a group distinct from the nobility, and looks at the various available routes to gentility. Through surveys of the gentry's military background, administrative and political roles, social behaviour, and education, it seeks to provide an overview of how the group's culture evolved, and how it was disseminated. The book offers a broad view of late medieval gentry culture, which explores, reassesses and indeed sometimes even challenges the idea that members of the gentry cultivated their own distinctive cultural identity. The evolution of the gentleman as a peer-assessed phenomenon, gentlemanly behaviour within the chivalric tradition, the education received by gentle children, and the surviving gentry correspondence are also discussed. Although the Church had an ambivalent attitude toward artistic expression, much of the gentry's involvement with the visual arts was religious in focus.
Even when the cavalry dismounted to fight, as at Poitiers in 1356 or
Agincourt in 1415, it proved an inadequate tactic. Despite this,
however, the Hundred Years War saw medieval rulers cling to the
now outdated use of heavy cavalry. Old habits died hard amongst
conservative aristocratic élites, whilst the chivalrictradition acted
as a reminder of past notions of single combat. The old view that a
hundred knights were worth a thousand infantrymen persisted.
Even so, mounted knights continued to fulfil an invaluable
military role. As Malcolm Vale has written
Ralph Knevet's Supplement of the Faery Queene (1635) is a narrative and allegorical work, which weaves together a complex collection of tales and episodes, featuring knights, ladies, sorcerers, monsters, vertiginous fortresses and deadly battles – a chivalric romp in Spenser's cod medieval style. The poem shadows recent English history, and the major military and political events of the Thirty Years War. But the Supplement is also an ambitiously intertextual poem, weaving together materials from mythic, literary, historical, scientific, theological, and many other kinds of written sources. Its encyclopaedic ambitions combine with Knevet's historical focus to produce an allegorical epic poem of considerable interest and power. This new edition of Knevet's Supplement, the first scholarly text of the poem ever published, situates it in its literary, historical, biographical, and intellectual contexts. An extensive introduction and copious critical commentary, positioned at the back of the book, will enable students and scholars alike to access Knevet's complicated and enigmatic meanings, structures, and allusions.
unable to do so, from the rude outlaws who had seized her. Love between the grateful damsel and her valiant champion duly follows in the chivalrictradition.
Given Shakespeare’s translation of love into something far more complex, and here profoundly positive, the name of Alinda might have threatened to cast shadows of a kind inconsistent with a universe, and an outcome, promised by his new title. On this point, then, the playwright may have chosen to intervene because, since 1590, when Lodge published his romance, the name had become problematically mythicised
available to the gentry for demonstrating
their gentle status, and shows the considerable effort necessary to
maintain that status.
In Chapter 2 , Keen locates
gentlemanly behaviour within the chivalrictradition, concentrating on
exploring the routes to gentility through service. He emphasises how
military activity gradually gave way to civilian service, with law and
the influence of the romance as a mode. What may
have made the romance so attractive to playwrights from a poetological point of view could well have been its association with unusual
and unexpected elements.57 Edward Howard’s The Six Days Adventure
(1671) implies that his new play promises to be successful ‘If this our
Comedy more strange things shew / Than all Romantick Tales y’ve
heard of old’.58 Just as seventeenth-century romances set out to move
beyond the chivalrictraditions of medieval works, plays also hoped to
develop new forms.
Newness was not, however
global contest between good and evil. The Spanish, of course, embody
the evil: their ‘damned Nauie’ destroying the Englishman in
a one-sided encounter which should cause ‘ Englands weeping
ioy, and Spaynes disgrace’. 26
Yet another Markham work which badges
itself explicitly as a reinvention of the Elizabethan chivalrictradition is The English Arcadia , Markham’s continuation of
Arthurian romance, for example, is reflected in his passionate
description of the Burgundian court. 34 John III’s career at the court enabled him
(and others like him) to travel to Europe and thus also to familiarise
himself with the chivalrictraditions circulating on the Continent.
In another romance, Sir Isumbras , gentry readers
could find all the attributes necessary for a happy life
of his own stupidity’.5 Within the
chivalrictradition of courtly love the man places himself in ritual submission
to the woman and the anxiety thus generated is conventionally resolved by
the woman reciprocating the man’s love and entering marriage, thus restoring the societal norms of male hegemony. However, the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries see a marked development in narratives of rejection and
denial, in which there is no resolution of the man’s anxiety and he has four
basic courses of action open to him. He can turn his back on love altogether,
specifically single out for criticism this entry and its
participants. They comment unfavourably on the quack entry’s
snobbish satirising of middle-class hairstyles and fashions, cynical
mocking of noble chivalrictraditions, not least by the Don Quixote
performances of its professional quack troupe, and the extreme bad
luck they attribute to the winning of tournament prizes by the