Session Title

The Knightly Lifecycle

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Cardiff School of History, Archaeology and Religion, Cardiff Univ.

Organizer Name

Helen J. Nicholson

Organizer Affiliation

Cardiff Univ.

Presider Name

Helen J. Nicholson

Paper Title 1

Exercises in Arms: The Physical and Mental Combat Training of Knights in the Late Middle Ages

Presenter 1 Name

Pierre Gaite

Presenter 1 Affiliation

Cardiff Univ.

Paper Title 2

The Knights Hospitaller on Rhodes and Malta: The Pious Knight's Slave

Presenter 2 Name

Nicholas McDermott

Presenter 2 Affiliation

Cardiff Univ.

Paper Title 3

William Marshal and Don Pedro de Granada Venegas Compared: The "Flower" of English Chivalry and a Morisco Knight of Alcántara (d. 1643)

Presenter 3 Name

Elizabeth Ashcroft Terry

Presenter 3 Affiliation

Austin College

Start Date

14-5-2017 8:30 AM

Session Location

Bernhard 208

Description

These three papers explore different aspects of the knightly lifecycle, exploring what it meant to be a knight at different times in the medieval and early modern period.

The first paper considers a key question of knighthood: how knights developed the military skills that made them knights. The notion of knights sparring leisurely against each other in the middle of a castle courtyard has long been taken for granted in modern fiction, yet the historical veracity of how knights trained has remained a curious and elusive topic. A relative lack of direct evidence has led some scholars to dismiss the idea that men-at-arms engaged in any regular practice beyond their boyhood training, a conclusion which others have found counter-intuitive. The first paper aims to demonstrate that by closely inspecting a broad range of evidence, from literature and biography to fight manuals, illustrations and knightly treatises, we may not only gain a greater appreciation for the importance of fighting skill in a knight’s life, but also piece together some of the ways in which knights would have trained, both physically and mentally, for combat in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

The second paper will consider the development of the military religious Order of the Hospital of St John while it was in control of Rhodes and then Malta. During this period the Order successfully converted to primarily naval warfare and the brothers became far more directly involved in the economic development of their lands, making political alliances to ensure their survival. This paper will discuss how this change in situation affected the brothers’ involvement with slavery.

The knights’ involvement with slavery distances the Order from the perception of pious knights. Violence was pervasive in the Hospitaller slave system and the Hospitallers enslaved men and women through raiding and naval battle. The men were put to work rowing the Order’s ships and any others were sold. While this system was not unusual for the time it is interesting that the Order started it on Rhodes, replacing the system of conscription of rowers that had been in place prior to the Order’s arrival; the Order was actively encouraging the use of slaves. Additionally the issues that arose as a result of the Order’s involvement with slaves provide further insight to the brothers’ views and attitudes, whether they were trading slaves to the Ottomans or having disputes with the Inquisition over claims of enslaving the wrong people. This paper will discuss the Order’s slave holding as an example of how the changing situation changed the Order and the brothers’ ethics.

The third paper continues the themes of changing chivalric culture and the military religious orders’ piety, considering a knight who became an associate of the Templars in the early thirteenth century, and another who joined the Order of Alcántara. Both men studied in this paper considered knighthood key to their identity--one at the beginning of the development of 'chivalry' and the other living at the court of Philip IV in seventeenth century Madrid. Studying the lifecycle of an extraordinary historical individual like William Marshal allows us an insight into the reality that lay behind the literary chivalric world of Chrétien de Troyes and his contemporaries. Don Pedro de Granada Venegas (d. 1643) was a Morisco nobleman who successfully applied in 1607 to enter the Order of Alcántara and later became a Marqués, This paper will compare the life and career of these two men, one very famous, one less so, to explain the ways in which chivalric culture extended well into the early modern period, even as it transformed to align with the rise of the early modern state.

Helen J. Nicholson

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May 14th, 8:30 AM

The Knightly Lifecycle

Bernhard 208

These three papers explore different aspects of the knightly lifecycle, exploring what it meant to be a knight at different times in the medieval and early modern period.

The first paper considers a key question of knighthood: how knights developed the military skills that made them knights. The notion of knights sparring leisurely against each other in the middle of a castle courtyard has long been taken for granted in modern fiction, yet the historical veracity of how knights trained has remained a curious and elusive topic. A relative lack of direct evidence has led some scholars to dismiss the idea that men-at-arms engaged in any regular practice beyond their boyhood training, a conclusion which others have found counter-intuitive. The first paper aims to demonstrate that by closely inspecting a broad range of evidence, from literature and biography to fight manuals, illustrations and knightly treatises, we may not only gain a greater appreciation for the importance of fighting skill in a knight’s life, but also piece together some of the ways in which knights would have trained, both physically and mentally, for combat in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

The second paper will consider the development of the military religious Order of the Hospital of St John while it was in control of Rhodes and then Malta. During this period the Order successfully converted to primarily naval warfare and the brothers became far more directly involved in the economic development of their lands, making political alliances to ensure their survival. This paper will discuss how this change in situation affected the brothers’ involvement with slavery.

The knights’ involvement with slavery distances the Order from the perception of pious knights. Violence was pervasive in the Hospitaller slave system and the Hospitallers enslaved men and women through raiding and naval battle. The men were put to work rowing the Order’s ships and any others were sold. While this system was not unusual for the time it is interesting that the Order started it on Rhodes, replacing the system of conscription of rowers that had been in place prior to the Order’s arrival; the Order was actively encouraging the use of slaves. Additionally the issues that arose as a result of the Order’s involvement with slaves provide further insight to the brothers’ views and attitudes, whether they were trading slaves to the Ottomans or having disputes with the Inquisition over claims of enslaving the wrong people. This paper will discuss the Order’s slave holding as an example of how the changing situation changed the Order and the brothers’ ethics.

The third paper continues the themes of changing chivalric culture and the military religious orders’ piety, considering a knight who became an associate of the Templars in the early thirteenth century, and another who joined the Order of Alcántara. Both men studied in this paper considered knighthood key to their identity--one at the beginning of the development of 'chivalry' and the other living at the court of Philip IV in seventeenth century Madrid. Studying the lifecycle of an extraordinary historical individual like William Marshal allows us an insight into the reality that lay behind the literary chivalric world of Chrétien de Troyes and his contemporaries. Don Pedro de Granada Venegas (d. 1643) was a Morisco nobleman who successfully applied in 1607 to enter the Order of Alcántara and later became a Marqués, This paper will compare the life and career of these two men, one very famous, one less so, to explain the ways in which chivalric culture extended well into the early modern period, even as it transformed to align with the rise of the early modern state.

Helen J. Nicholson