MEDV3610 The Age of Chivalry: The Idea of Knighthood in Medieval Europe, 1050-1450

Reading List
  • Taught: Semester 1
  • Credits: 20
  • Class Size: 14
  • Module Manager: Dr Alan V Murray
  • Email:
  • Pre-Requisite Qualifications: Open to all level 2 and level 3 students
  • This Module is approved as a Discovery Module

Discovery module overview

Module Summary

Module Summary

In the course of the mid-11th to 14th centuries knighthood developed from being a purely military institution into a social ethos with its own lifestyle, ideology and culture which can conveniently be described as chivalry, and which found expression in a vast range of literary and artistic works.
This is a thematic module, drawing on material from France, Germany, the Low Countries and the British Isles, which will explore a broad range of themes associated with knighthood and its values. These will be based on three thematic clusters:
a) Knighthood as a military institution, including study of warfare, arms and armour, and tournaments.
b) Knights as a social group, including study of social status, terminology, customs, food and clothing, relations between the sexes, and heraldry.
c) Chivalry as a code of behaviour, including study of ideologies and criticism of chivalry.
Students will be introduced to a range of primary evidence comprising military artefacts, medieval historical and literary texts dealing with chivalry, and artistic evidence such as heraldry. Texts will be read in English translation. No knowledge of foreign languages is required for this module, but students who can read occasional articles in French and/or German will have a greater choice of secondary background literature.
Age of Chivalry is open to all level 2 and 3 students in the University. The module will be taught through two one-hour classes per week and assessment is by two assessed essays. The module carries 20 credits.
The Age of Chivalry module co-ordinator is Dr Alan Murray, Institute for Medieval Studies, Parkinson Building room 103. For further information please contact


On completion of this module, students should be able to:

  • 1. understand the salient features of the international chivalric culture of the period 1050-1400.
  • 2. understand the significance of literary texts as a source for social history and culture.
  • 3. develop the ability to present arguments based on the reading of original historical, literary and artistic sources and the understanding of artefacts.


The module will cover the following topics:

  • - Sources and Definitions
  • - Knights as a Social Group
  • - Arms and Armour
  • - Ideology of Chivalry
  • - Tournaments
  • - Courts and Literary Production
  • - Arthurian Literature
  • - Chivalry in Art
  • - Warfare and the Hundred Years? War
  • - Heraldry and Chivalric Display
  • - Transformations in the Chivalric Life.

Skills Outcomes

Independent research, group discussion, bibliographic research, formal writing, analysis of texts and artefacts.

Assessment and teaching

Assessment and teaching


Assesment type Notes % of formal assesment
Essay 2,000 words to be submitted on Monday of week 8 50
Essay 2,000 words to be submitted on Monday of exam week 1 50
Total percentages (Assessment Coursework) 100

Private Study

  • - 2 hours preparation for 10 x workshops (no preparation for introductory workshop) = 20 hours
  • - 8 hours preparation for 11 seminars = 88 hours
  • - 35 hours preparation for 2 assessed essays = 70 hours.

Progress Monitoring

Two assessed essays, each of 2,000 words.

Teaching methods

Delivery type Number Length hours Student hours
Workshop 11 1 11
Seminar 11 1 11
Private Study Hours 178
Total Contact Hours 22
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits) 200

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