The Chivalric Woman

Wilkinson, Louise J. (2020) The Chivalric Woman. In: Knighthood and Society in the High Middle Ages. Mediaevalia Lovaniensia (XLVIII). Leuven University Press, Leuven (Belgium), pp. 169-201. ISBN 9789462701700, 97861662750

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In view of chivalry’s strong connection with the masculine cult of knighthood, it is perhaps unsurprising that relatively little has been written about its appeal for women. Yet, as this chapter argues, aristocratic ladies in the Middle Ages readily became immersed in the chivalric culture of their husbands and male kin. So intimately, in fact, was chivalry entwined with ideals of noble conduct and lifestyle that it offered women potent ideals of feminine appearance, behaviour and virtue, so that a lady might be regarded as chivalrous if she embraced moral superiority. The social and moral values assumed by the landed elite of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries were closely aligned with the obligations that aristocratic women shared with their fathers, brothers or husbands in managing great households, in preserving family lineages, in exercising lordship and in shaping dynastic identities. Ladies readily adopted heraldry, with its martial associations, and actively employed it on their seals and in architectural schemes, to promote their noble status and connections. They also espoused chivalrous qualities by battling, figuratively, in the spiritual realm for their own souls and those of their kin, through their personal religious observances, benefactions and charitable giving.

Keywords:chivalry, medieval women, medieval aristocracy, great households, elite culture, virtues, lordship
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V130 Medieval History
Divisions:College of Arts > School of History & Heritage > School of History & Heritage (History)
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ID Code:42646
Deposited On:11 Nov 2020 15:29

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