HS1CHI-Chivalry: the Emergence and Impact of a Medieval Ethos

Module Provider: History
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2020/1

Module Convenor: Dr Elizabeth Matthew
Email: e.a.e.matthew@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

Chivalry emerged in the eleventh to twelfth centuries as the code and culture of the warrior elite, the second of the ‘three orders’ of medieval society. This module investigates the development of the theory and practice of chivalry across the high and later middle ages, assessing both male and female roles in chivalric culture, and chivalry’s post-medieval survival and legacy. This module is optional for SINGLE HONOURS STUDENTS ONLY.

Chivalry aims to familiarize students with the character and impact of a key ethos of the middle ages. Besides giving students some direct insights into life and culture in medieval Europe from the eleventh to fifteenth centuries, a key objective is to reflect on some of the ways in which the legacy of this period still shapes aspects of our world today.

Assessable learning outcomes:

Assessable outcomes By the end of the module it is expected that students will be able to:

  • identify the sources of the topic in question •

  • trace its historical development

  • be aware of differing historiographical interpretations of the pattern and causes of this development

  • understand how ideas and events are shaped by their historical contexts

  • organise material and articulate arguments effect ively in writing, both under timed conditions and in assessed coursework 

  • demonstrate familiarity with bibliographical conventions and mastery of library skills.

Additional outcomes:
The module also aims:
•to encourage students to think independently
•to help students develop good oral and written communication skills
•to develop the effectiveness of students in group situations
•to develop IT skills through the use of relevant resources.

Outline content:

We shall start by exploring modern connotations of chivalry and historians’ definitions of medieval chivalry. We shall then investigate the theory and practice of medieval chivalry, and the roles of men and women in chivalric culture, looking at a wide variety of visual and written primary sources ranging from the eleventh-century Bayeux Tapestry to a private letter sent by a son in Bruges to his mother in Norfolk in the 1460s. The ‘Theory of Chivalry’ will be explored throu gh books of instruction for knights and their families, and by sampling some of the romance literature which entertained and inspired them with stories of knightly adventure. Seminars on ‘Chivalry in Practice’ will then focus on the emergence of chivalry, and the development of tournaments, heraldry and secular chivalric orders such as the Order of the Garter. How chivalric was medieval warfare? Did chivalry ‘decline’ at the end of the medieval era or did it become more s ocially inclusive? In conclusion, we shall assess chivalry’s legacy in the modern world. What traces of it still survive today?

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Teaching is by eight two-hour seminars over one term. Students are reminded to email their tutors for help and advice whenever needed and to note office hours.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 17
Guided independent study: 83
Total hours by term 0 0
Total hours for module 100

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 50
Written assignment including essay 50

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Written exam 50% 

one 1-hour unseen paper requiring 1 answer

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Written assignment 50%:

1 written assignment of c. 1,250 words, to be submitted once via Blackboard on Turnitin, by 12 noon on the submission deadline in Week 11 specified on the module site on Blackboard.

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:

Assessment requirements for a pass:
A mark of 40% overall.

Reassessment arrangements:

Where a re-sit is permitted, students will be assessed on the failed element(s) only in August. Any element(s) already passed will be carried forward if it bears a confirmed mark of 40% or more. Any element which is re-sat in August is capped at 40%. Failed coursework must be re-submitted by 12 noon on the third Friday of August.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

1) Required text books: None

2) Specialist equipment or materials: None

3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear: None

4) Printing and binding: None

5) Computers and devices with a particular specification: None

6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence: None

Last updated: 15 July 2021


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