Knighthood and Society in the High Middle Ages

Edited by David Crouch and Jeroen Deploige

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Chivalry and elite conduct in medieval Europe
In popular imagination few phenomena are as strongly associated with medieval society as knighthood and chivalry. At the same time, and due to a long tradition of differing national perspectives and ideological assumptions, few phenomena have continued to be the object of so much academic debate. In this volume leading scholars explore various aspects of knightly identity, taking into account both commonalities and particularities across Western Europe. Knighthood and Society in the High Middle Ages addresses how, between the eleventh and the early thirteenth centuries, knighthood evolved from a set of skills and a lifestyle that was typical of an emerging elite habitus, into the basis of a consciously expressed and idealised chivalric code of conduct. Chivalry, then, appears in this volume as the result of a process of noble identity formation, in which some five key factors are distinguished: knightly practices, lineage, crusading memories, gender roles, and chivalric didactics.

This publication is GPRC-labeled (Guaranteed Peer-Reviewed Content).

Dominique Barthélemy (Sorbonne and EPHE, Paris), David Crouch (University of Hull), Jeroen Deploige (Ghent University), John D. Hosler (U.S. Army Command and General Staff College), Sara McDougall (City University of New York), Jean-François Nieus (University of Namur), Eljas Oksanen (University of Helsinki), Nicholas L. Paul (Fordham University), Jörg Peltzer (Heidelberg University), Nicolas Ruffini-Ronzani (University of Namur), Louise J. Wilkinson (University of Lincoln), Claudia Wittig (Ghent University)



David Crouch and Jeroen Deploige
Taking the Field: Knighthood and Society in the High Middle Ages 

Part I—Noble Warriors, Warring Nobles

Dominique Barthélemy
Chivalry in Feudal Society According to French Evidence 

Jörg Peltzer
Knighthood in the Empire

Eljas Oksanen
Knights, Mercenaries and Paid Soldiers: Military Identities in the Anglo-Norman Regnum

Part II—Knighthood and Lineage 

Sara McDougall
The Chivalric Family 

Jean-François Nieus
Sigard’s Belt: The Family of Chocques and the Borders of Knighthood (ca. 980‒1100)

Part III—Martial Ideals in Crusading Memories

John D. Hosler
Knightly Ideals at the Siege of Acre, 1189‒1191 

Nicholas L. Paul
Writing the Knight, Staging the Crusader : Manasses of Hierges and the Monks of Brogne 

Part IV—Women in Chivalric Representations

Louise J. Wilkinson
The Chivalric Woman 

Nicolas Ruffini-Rozani
The Knight, the Lady, and the Poet : Understanding Huon of Oisy’s Tournoiement des Dames (ca. 1185‒1189)

Part V—Didactics of Chivalry

Claudia Wittig
Teaching Chivalry in the Empire (ca. 1150‒1250) 

David Crouch
When Was Chivalry? Evolution of a Code

Notes on Contributors

Format: Edited volume - ebook - PDF

330 pages

11 colour images, 10 b&w

ISBN: 9789461662750

Publication: November 26, 2020

Series: Mediaevalia Lovaniensia - Series 1-Studia 48

Languages: English

David Crouch is former Professor of Medieval History at the University of Hull and a Fellow of the British Academy.
Jeroen Deploige is Professor of Medieval History at Ghent University and member of the Belgian Royal Historical Commission.

Les forces du volume sont nombreuses. On retiendra la variété des angles d’analyse : la synthèse érudite, l’histoire des femmes, les croisades et l’histoire littéraire se rencontrent ici, souvent au sein de la même contribution. Il en ressort une sensibilité sémantique très fine, chaque auteur reprenant et définissant les termes clés de miles, chevalier, cavalier, chivalry, knighthood, pour les distinguer, les préciser, et parfois mieux les entrechoquer. On perçoit ainsi « sur le terrain » comment la chevalerie a émergé en Europe aux XIe et XIIe siècles, à la fois comme phénomène social, construction littéraire et morale et réflexe identitaire soigneusement cultivé ; l’on aimerait que soit désormais décortiquée avec la même rigueur et érudition le pourquoi de cette genèse, ainsi qu’y invitent les conclusions du volume.
Amicie Pélissié du Rausas, Le Moyen Âge, 3-4/2022 (vol. 128)


This is a collection of essays that will repay both specialists and a general audience interested in medieval knighthood and chivalry. Richard Abels, TSEG Vol. 20 No. 1 (2023),


This excellent volume brings together scholars from different national backgrounds and methodological approaches in order to work toward a better understanding of chivalric identity. It includes an introduction by the editors and eleven essays divided across five thematic sections. While some of the contributors are well-known specialists in the field of chivalry and knighthood studies, others are not scholars one would necessarily expect to find in a volume dedicated to these topics. It is precisely this mix of insider and outsider perspectives that makes the volume compelling. Many of the essays address different questions—with different sources—than more traditional studies of knighthood and chivalry. The knight is examined through the lens of some of the most recent developments in economic history, military history, family history, Crusades studies, and women’s studies (to name only a few) in order to situate chivalry and knighthood more firmly in current historiographical trends.

Jonathan R. Lyon, Speculum, Volume 98, Number 2,

Dit soort bijdragen zorgt ervoor dat dit boek niet enkel interessant is voor specialisten. Het hoofdstuk van McDougall faciliteert bijvoorbeeld niet alleen vergelijkingen tussen verschillende Europese regio’s, maar biedt ook een comparatief kader op langere termijn. Haar ruimere begrip van de ridderlijke familie problematiseert impliciet het idee van de ‘uitstervingsgraad’, een pijler van de meeste historische onderzoeken naar de (laatmiddeleeuwse) adel. Het is dit soort prikkelende insteken die helpen om het enigszins logge onderzoeksveld in nieuwe richtingen te duwen. En door het traditionele letterlijk met het nieuwe te bundelen, levert het boek van Deploige en Crouch daar een bijdrage aan.
Jim van der Meulen, Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis, Volume 135, Issue 1, Dec 2022, p. 128 - 129, DOI:

Avec une profondeur historiographique louable, David Crouch et Jeroen Deploige proposent un état de la recherche sur la chevalerie. [...] Mais au-delà même de l’intérêt thématique spécifique de chacun des chapitres, 'Knighthood and Society in the High Middle Ages' a le mérite d’inviter à repenser la manière dont les médiévistes conceptualisent la chevalerie et conçoivent son rapport avec la société médiévale.
Arnaud Montreuil, Memini [En ligne], 28 | 2022, mis en ligne le 27 décembre. URL : ; DOI :

David Crouch and Jeroen Deploige’s invaluable collection, Knighthood and Society in the High Middle Ages, offers a rich and rewarding survey of just such questions. Offering a range of perspectives informing readers of the current state of chivalric studies, this well-organized and consistently engaging collection features historians focusing on late-medieval Western Europe, primarily in French, Provencal, German, Flemish, English, and Crusading contexts. With excellent essays thinking generally about chivalry balanced with richly sourced local studies, and with each essay framed by effective abstracts and conclusions, this insightful and thought-provoking volume should be on the shelf of any medievalist working on materials related to knightly culture.
Randy P. Schiff, The Medieval Review, April 2022,


The volume itself is handsomely produced by Leuven University Press and contains numerous illustrations. All of the contributions have something important to offer. Specialists in their respective regions will need to read the most relevant chapters, and historians of the Iberian Peninsula, Italy and central Europe will wish to test the ideas contained here on their own patches of ground. But the editors have also managed to forge a volume which is more valuable than the sum of its collective parts. It achieves two particularly important aims. Firstly, it forces numerous national historiographies to talk to one another, which is extremely beneficial if sometimes intellectually uncomfortable. The Anglophone reader (and reviewer) in particular will find much new here, not least in the frequent use of literary evidence rather than administrative or legal material. Secondly, our understanding of the key theme of the nobilisation of the knight is greatly enhanced by the conceptual richness and sound scholarship of this volume.
Matt Raven, Virtus. Journal of Nobility Studies 2021

Über zahlreiche neue Erkenntnisse zu Teilaspekten und Texten hinaus, zeigen die Autoren eindrücklich auf, wie gewinnbringend es ist, auch die alten strukturgeschichtlichen Forschungsmustermuster, die von vielfach starren Voraussetzungen und Formen ausgingen, zu hinterfragen. Die Autor:innen erläutern damit, wie sich zwischen dem 11. und 13. Jahrhundert ein Normen- und Wertegeflecht einwickelte, welches für die laikale Elite habituell prägend wurde. Dadurch leisten sie einen wertvollen Beitrag dazu, die Vorbedingungen von „knighthood“ und „chivalry“ aus verschiedenen Perspektiven besser zu verstehen. Das Werden des Rittertums ist als langwieriger gesellschaftlicher Prozess zu begreifen. Seine Erforschung ist, wie auch Jörg Pelzer in seinem Beitrag schreibt (S. 69), eine gesamteuropäische – und möglicherweise auch darüberhinausgehende – Aufgabe.
Sebastian Schaarschmidt, H-Soz-Kult, 20.10.2021, <>.