HAD not my colleagues persuaded me that the term essay is no longer used in the sense of an exploration into a wide and complicated field, I would have entitled this book An essay on chivalric ideas and practices in mediaeval France. Chivalry has long interested me as a subject for both social history and the history of ideas. I have attempted to deal with it from these two points of view.
The nature of the subject and the material used has made it impracticable to follow the established methodology of historical scholarship. The foot-notes are for the most part simply references to enable the reader to find the sources of direct and indirect quotations. They are intended to provide illustrations rather than proofs. Thus when I state that a certain idea was frequently found in troubadour poetry, I furnish an illustration of its use, but make no attempt to cite all the places where I have found it.
The first chapter entitled The nobles of France is not an integral part of the book. It is intended to provide for the reader who is not familiar with mediaeval history the background required for understanding the chapters on chivalry. The mediaeval historian would do well to start with the second chapter.
In general the foot-notes indicate my obligations to fellow scholars, but in three cases the recognition is most inadequate. The first chapter owes much to M. Marc Bloch's highly important work Les caractères originaux de l'histoire rurale française which contains an invalu-