"This is a crucially important study of a moment in the formation of modern Western civil society. It is destined to go a long way toward redefining our notion of what constitutes 'medieval' and to pushing back significantly the beginnings of early modernity to the first half of the fourteenth century."—E. Michael Gerli, University of VirginiaKnighthood and chivalry are commonly associated with courtly aristocracy and military prowess. Instead of focusing on the relationship between chivalry and nobility, Jesús D. Rodríguez-Velasco asks different questions. Does chivalry have anything to do with the emergence of an urban bourgeoisie? If so, how? And in a more general sense, what is the importance of chivalry in inventing and modifying a social class?
"Order and Chivalry makes a substantial contribution to current debates. Rodríguez-Velasco compares texts related to the foundation of the chivalric/monarchical Order of the Sash with texts related to the creation of confraternities of non-noble knights. This book is of great interest to historians of medieval Spain and scholars in Romance literature. It proposes a new way of looking at the confluence of social history and literary studies."—Rita Costa-Gomes, Towson University
In Order and Chivalry, Rodríguez-Velasco explores the role of chivalry in the emergence of the middle class in an increasingly urbanized fourteenth-century Castile. The book considers how secular, urban knighthood organizations came to life and created their own rules, which differed from martial and religiously oriented ideas of chivalry and knighthood. It delves into the cultural and legal processes that created orders of society as well as orders of knights. The first of these chivalric orders was the exclusively noble Castilian Orden de la Banda, or Order of the Sash, established by King Alfonso XI. Soon after that order was created, others appeared that drew membership from city-dwelling, bourgeois commoners. City institutions with ties to monarchy—including the Brotherhood of Knights and the Confraternities of Santa María de Gamonal and Santiago de Burgos—produced chivalric rules and statutes that redefined the privileges and political structures of urban society. By analyzing these foundational documents, such as Libro de la Banda, Order and Chivalry reveals how the poetics of order operated within the medieval Iberian world and beyond to transform the idea of the city and the practice of citizenship.
Jesús D. Rodríguez-Velasco is Professor in the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures at Columbia University.