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Chivalry, Identity and Love, 1350-1450 - HIS00153I

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  • Department: History
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Craig Taylor
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25
    • See module specification for other years: 2023-24

Module summary

This module examines aristocratic culture and chivalry in England and France during the age of the Hundred Years War (1337-1453). This period has traditionally been regarded as the ‘autumn’ of chivalry, a time when the extravagance of tournaments, knightly orders and court culture contrasted with the horrors of warfare and rapid changes to the role of the knight on the battlefield. We will look closely at the impact of the literary ideals of chivalry and courtly love upon aristocratic society, thinking carefully about how rituals and games shaped identity and culture. We will then consider how profound changes in both warfare and society reshaped the very nature and significance of chivalry, asking what role developments in strategy and tactics such as the ‘infantry’ and ‘artillery revolutions’ had upon the role of the aristocratic warrior. Why did the chivalric ideology not serve to protect civilians and non-combatants from the horrors of warfare? Did the development of national feeling undercut the sense of international brotherhood that was supposedly a hallmark of chivalric culture?

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To provide students with the opportunity to study particular historical topics in depth
  • To develop students’ ability to examine a topic from a range of perspectives and to strengthen their ability to work critically and reflectively with secondary and primary material

Module learning outcomes

Students who complete this module successfully will:

  • Have acquired a deep knowledge of the specific topic studied
  • Have developed their ability to use and synthesise a range of primary and secondary sources
  • Be able to evaluate the arguments that historians have made about the topic studied
  • Have developed their ability to study independently through seminar-based teaching

Module content

Students will attend a 1-hour briefing in week 1. Students will then attend a 1-hour plenary/lecture and a 2-hour seminar in weeks 2-4, 6-8 and 10-11 of semester 1. Weeks 5 & 9 are Reading and Writing Weeks (RAW) during which there are no seminars. Students prepare for and participate in eight 1-hour plenaries/lectures and eight 2-hour seminars in all.

Seminar topics are subject to variation, but are likely to include the following:

  1. Learning to be Chivalrous
  2. Brothers-in-Arms: Chivalric Societies and Orders
  3. Court Culture, Tournaments & Feasts
  4. Chivalry and the Battlefield in the 14th Century
  5. The Legacy of Crusading
  6. Artillery and Conquest in the 15th Century
  7. Chivalry and Violence
  8. The Death of Chivalry?

Indicative assessment

Task Length % of module mark
Assessed Essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

For formative assessment, students will complete a referenced 1200 to 1500-word essay relating to the themes and issues of the module. This will be submitted in either the Week 5 or Week 9 RAW week (on the day of the weekly seminar).

For summative assessment, students will complete an Assessed Essay (2000 words, footnoted). This will comprise 100% of the overall module mark.

Summative assessments will be due in the assessment period.

Indicative reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
Assessed Essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Following their formative assessment task, students will typically receive written feedback that will include comments and a mark within 10 working days of submission.

Work will be returned to students in their seminars and may be supplemented by the tutor giving some oral feedback to the whole group. All students are encouraged, if they wish, to discuss the feedback on their formative work during their tutor’s student hours. For more information, see the Statement on Feedback.

For the summative assessment task, students will receive their provisional mark and written feedback within 25 working days of the submission deadline. The tutor will then be available during student hours for follow-up guidance if required. For more information, see the Statement of Assessment.

Indicative reading

For term time reading, please refer to the module VLE site. Before the course starts, we encourage you to look at the following items of preliminary reading:

  • Jones , Robert W. and Peter Coss (eds.), A Companion to Chivalry. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2019.
  • Wollock, Jennifer G., Rethinking Chivalry and Courtly Love. Santa Barbara: Praeger, 2011.
  • Allmand, Christopher T. The Hundred Years War. England and France at war c.1300 - c.1450. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University constantly explores ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary. In some instances it may be appropriate for the University to notify and consult with affected students about module changes in accordance with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.