The Book of Chivalry of Geoffroi de Charny: Text, Context, and Translation

The Book of Chivalry of Geoffroi de Charny: Text, Context, and Translation

The Book of Chivalry of Geoffroi de Charny: Text, Context, and Translation

The Book of Chivalry of Geoffroi de Charny: Text, Context, and Translation

Synopsis

The Book of Chivalry is the most pragmatic of all surviving chivalric manuals. Written at the height of the Hundred Years War, it includes the essential commonplaces of knighthood in the mid-fourteenth century and gives a close-up view of what one knight in particular absorbed of the medieval world of ideas around him, what he rejected or ignored, and what he added from his experience in camp, court, and campaign.

Geoffroi de Charny was one of the quintessential figures of his age, with honors and praise bestowed upon him from both sides of the English Channel. He prepared the Book of Chivalry as a guide for members of the Company of the Star, a new but short-lived order of knights created by Jean II of France in 1352 to rival the English Order of the Garter.

Elspeth Kennedy here edits the original French text of Charny and provides a facing-page translation for the modern reader. Richard. W. Kaeuper's historical study places both man and his work in full context. In the formal themes that give Charny's book structure, and in his many tangential comments and asides, this work proves a rich source for investigating questions about the political, military, religious, and social history of the later Middle Ages. With this translation, the prowess and piety of knights, their capacity to express themselves, their common assumptions, their views on masculine virtue, women, and love once more come vividly to life.

Excerpt

The life and the books of Geoffroi de Charny have much to tell anyone interested in the Middle Ages. Charny is an important witness on all matters relating to chivalry, in particular, because he lived the life of knighthood in a manner thought ideal by his contemporaries. He played out this role in nearly two decades of Anglo-French warfare, dying appropriately in the swirl of battle at Poitiers (1356), one of the most famous fields of the Hundred Years War. He was the bearer of the sacred banner of the kings of France, the owner of the Shroud of Turin. His several books discuss chivalry not from the perspective of a clerical outsider, but out of the experience of a practicing knight of intense piety.

Yet even his longest, most thorough, and most informative work, the Livre de chevalerie, reproduced here, has been known only to specialists; the text has been accessible only in the original Middle French, rather inadequately edited, as an appendix to a set of volumes available only in the most specialized libraries.

The goal of our book is to present Charny to a wide range of readers. In the formal themes that give his Book of Chivalry structure and in his many tangential comments and asides, Charny proves a rich source for investigating questions about the political, military, religious, and social history of the later Middle Ages. He can tell us about the prowess and piety of knights, their capacity to express themselves, their common assumptions, their views on masculine virtue, women, and love. For students of the French language and Medieval French literature, of course, the text and translation will provide yet another range of benefits. Readers fascinated by the Shroud of Turin will have their own interests in Charny, the first historically documented owner of the Shroud.

Part One of this book establishes what we might call, in the broadest sense, the cultural context for Charny. It provides a career biography and analyzes the main themes of Charny's book in comparison with other major examples of medieval writing about chivalry. Part Two establishes . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.