The Book of Chivalry of Geoffroi de Charny
Text, Context, and Translation
Richard W. Kaeuper and Elspeth Kennedy, Editors
"This book is a pleasure: its matter is essential. . . . The Livre de chevalerie will now assume its rightful, central place in studies of fourteenth-century history and literature and in the history of chivalry."—Speculum
The Book of Chivalry is the most pragmatic of all surviving chivalric manuals. Written at the height of the Hundred Years War, it includes the essential commonplaces of knighthood in the mid-fourteenth century and gives a close-up view of what one knight in particular absorbed of the medieval world of ideas around him, what he rejected or ignored, and what he added from his experience in camp, court, and campaign.
Geoffroi de Charny was one of the quintessential figures of his age, with honors and praise bestowed upon him from both sides of the English Channel. He prepared the Book of Chivalry as a guide for members of the Company of the Star, a new but short-lived order of knights created by Jean II of France in 1352 to rival the English Order of the Garter.
Elspeth Kennedy here edits the original French text of Charny and provides a facing-page translation for the modern reader. Richard. W. Kaeuper's historical study places both man and his work in full context. In the formal themes that give Charny's book structure, and in his many tangential comments and asides, this work proves a rich source for investigating questions about the political, military, religious, and social history of the later Middle Ages. With this translation, the prowess and piety of knights, their capacity to express themselves, their common assumptions, their views on masculine virtue, women, and love once more come vividly to life.
Richard W. Kaeuper is Professor of History at the University of Rochester. Elspeth Kennedy is Sometime Fellow at St. Hilda's College, Oxford University.