The influence of medieval notions of chivalry in eighteenth-century historical texts
15 Nov 2017, 17:30 to 15 Nov 2017, 19:30
IHR Wolfson Room NB02, Basement, IHR, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU
Alexandra Anderson, Leeds
This paper will examine how eighteenth-century French and British historians wrote accounts of warfare that were influenced by medieval notions of chivalry. During this period, many historians wrote in the neo-classical manner, organising their texts around the lives of key historical figures, and presenting them as models of behaviour, especially as exemplars of vice and virtue. Historians combined medieval ideals of chivalry, especially the qualities of heroism and bravery, with contemporary notions of eighteenth-century masculinity, such as reason and equanimity, as they reflected on the ideal qualities of a king during conflicts. This paper will analyse depictions of kings at war written by French and British historians of English history, with detailed case studies of conflicts involving Edward III (1312-1377), Edward the Black Prince (1330-1376), and Henry V (1386-1422). The analysis of these historical accounts will shed light on the influence of medieval behavioural archetypes in history writing, and the continued place of medieval chivalric qualities within eighteenth-century ideals of masculinity and monarchy.
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