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  on Tuesday, May 6, 2008 at 16:00 p.m.

Practical Chivalry in England, France and Burgundy c. 1350 – c. 1475

Faculty Tower, Room #409


Matthew Bennett

Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, United Kingdom

Military history as it is conceived today, tends to focus on the last couple of hundred years, essentially since the French Revolution. Some practitioners are prepared to study the precedents to modern warfare in the eighteenth and even seventeenth centuries, but few consider there is anything useful to be learnt prior to 1500. In fact, the there is a great deal of valuable information and understanding to be gained by studying the discourse on war carried out even prior to the printing revolution (although this radically expanded the possibilities of debate as in so many other areas of human behaviour). Military historians can be particularly dismissive of the ‘chivalric era’ as producing little of intellectual merit; but it is possible to investigate the texts of that time to explore how war was conducted in both theory and practice. In the long century under discussion the reception of Classical texts and their interpretation in the context of the warfare of the later middle ages, combined with chivalric concepts of how war should be managed and warriors behave is a rich field of enquiry. This paper will examine four key texts in the sphere of Anglo-French chivalric writings in order demonstrate how war was conceived at the ideological, strategic, operational and tactical level: The Book of Chivalry of Geoffrey de Charny, The Tree of Battles of Honore Bonet, The Book of Deeds of Arms and Chivalry by Christine de Pizan and The Book of Noblesse of English authorship.

Matthew Bennett MA, FSA, FRHistS, is a Senior Lecturer at The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, where he has taught for twenty-five years. A military historian with a particular interest in pre-modern war he specializes in medieval warfare. His publications include the Cambridge Atlas of Medieval Warfare, The Dictionary of Ancient and Medieval Warfare, Campaigns of the Norman Conquest, and Agincourt 1415. He is the author of some two-dozen academic articles on the ethos and practice of warfare with a focus on chivalry and the crusades. He is also the General Editor of 'Warfare in History' series of monographs for The Boydell Press, which has published twenty-five volumes since its inception in 1996.

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