WEMSK25:Feudalism and Knighthood


                             Feudalism and Knighthood

For WEMSK25, it seemed copacetic to combine Feudalism and
Knighthood, though there is a good deal of discussion about the
propriety of both terms.


1. To get an idea of what feudalism is:

a. Carl Stephenson, Medieval Feudalism (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1942).
A good quick read.

b. F. L. Ganshof, Feudalism, tr. Philip Grierson. Harper Torchbook
TB 1058 (NY: Harper, 1961). Based on the 3d ed. (1957) of Qu'est-ce
la feodalite?, with revisions. You can quickly read through
Stephenson, but if you are interested in feudalism, keep Ganshof at
your side.  Easily available.

2. For more thorough treatments:

a. Marc L. B. Bloch, Feudal Society, tr. L. A. Manyon (Chicago:
CUP, 1963).  This has come to be the standard work.

b. Robert Boutruche, Seigneurie et Feodalite, 2 vols. 2d ed.
Collection Historique (Paris: Aubier, 1968-70). My favorite, though
occasionally tendentious.

c. James Westfall Thompson, Feudal Germany (Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, 1928).  Still worth reading, though occasionally a
trifle anti-German (e.g. p. 337: "as cheap as a German baron" was
an addage as far baack as the twelfth century).

3. Readers:

a. Heide Wunder, ed., Feudalismus. Nymphenburger Texte zur
Wissenschaft 17 (Munich: Nymphenburg, 1974). 10 articles.

b. Feudalism in History, ed. R. Coulborn (Princeton: PUP, 1956). A
collection of articles.

c. Feudalismus, Entstehung und Wesen, ed. Eckhard Mueller-Mertens.
Studienbibliothek DDR-Geschichtswissenschaft 4 (Berlin: Akademie-
Verlag, 1985).

d. Curialitas. Studien zu Grundfragen der hoefisch-ritterlichen
Kultur, ed. Josef Fleckenstein. Veroeffentlichungen der Max-Planck-
Instituts fuer Geschichte 100 (Goettingen: Vandenhoeck und
Ruprecht, 1990).
4. For a general overview of the discussion on what feudalism
means, etc., see:

a. Heide Wunder, "Einleitung: Der Feudalismus-Begriff.
Ueberlegungen zu Moeglichkeiten der historischen Begriffsbildung,"
in Heide Wunder, ed., Feudalismus. Nymphenburger Texte zur
Wissenschaft 17 (Munich: Nymphenburg, 1974), 10-76 (328 endnotes!).
The volume contains a number of articles on the concept.

b. If you are German challenged or cannot obtain Wunder easily, you
might look at Susan Reynolds, Fiefs and Vassals. The Medieval
Evidence Reinterpreted (Oxford: Clarendon, 1994), section 1.2 "The
Historiography of Feudalism," pp. 3-14.

c. The standard encyclopedias will have an article on "feudalism,"
e.g. Encyclopaedie des Mittelalters, Encyclopedia of the Middle
Ages, both useful.


a. Dennis H. Green, The Carolingian Lord (Cambridge: CUP, 1965).
An approach through the vocabulary, e.g. Chapter V: "Merovingian
Feudalism and its Vocabulary."

b. Lynn White, Jr., Medieval Technology and Social Change (Oxford:
OUP, 1952), particularly Chapter I, "Stirrup, Mounted Shock Combat,
Feudalism, and Chivalry," pp. 1-38. Points to the importance of the
invention of the stirrup for the `man on horseback'. If you are
interested in this point, see the review of the literature by B. S.
Bachrach, "Charles Martel, Mounted Shock Combat, the Stirrup and
Feudalism," Studies in Medieval and Renaissancce History 7 (1970),


1. Places to start:

a. A good short book: Norbert Elias, The Court Society, tr. Edmund
Jephcott (Oxford: Blackwell, 1983). Adopts a general sociologic
approach to court societies.

b. Joachim Bumke, The Concept of Knighthood in the Middle Ages, tr.
W. T. H. and Erika Jackson (NY: AMS Press, 1982). A good survey
with useful bibliography; leans toward Germany. Not easy.

2. Readers:

a. Chivalry: A Series of Studies to Illustrate its Historical
Significancee and Civilizing Inlfuence, ed. Edgar Prestage (London,

d. Das Rittertum im Mittelalter, ed. Arno Borst. Wege der
Forschung, 349 (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft,
1976). You always look for a WdF volume if you can find one: TOC:
Huizinga, J. Die politische und militaerische Bedeutung des
Rittergedankens am Ausgang des Mittelalters -- Painter, S. Die
Ideen des Rittertums. -- Erdmann, C. Fortbildung des populaeren
Kreuzzugsgedankens -- Sandberger, D. Die Aufnahme in den
Ritterstand in England -- Otto, E. Von der Abschliessung des
Ritterstandes -- Ganshof, F. L. Was ist das Rittertum? -- Brunner,
O. Die ritterlich-hoefische Kultur -- Kuhn, H. Soziale Realitaet
und dichterische Fiktion am Beispiel der hoefischen Ritterdichtung
Deutschlands -- Fasoli, G. Grundzuege einer Geschichte des
Rittertums -- Borst, A. Das Rittertum im Hochmittelalter -- Mor, C.
G. Das Rittertum -- Bumke, J. Der adlige Ritter -- Koehler, E. Die
Rolle des niederen Rittertums bei der Entstehung der Trobadorlyrik
-- Wohlfeil, R. Ritter, Soeldnerfuehrer, Offizier -- Duby, G. Die
Urspruenge des Rittertums -- Winter, J. M. van. Die
mittelalterliche Ritterschaft als "classe sociale" -- Fleckenstein,
J. Friedrich Barbarossa und das Rittertum -- Johrendt, J. 'Milites'
und 'Militia' im 11. Jahrhundert in Deutschland.  Bibliography,
437-482.  These are, as usual, mostly previously published works.

3. Conference proceedings:

a. Knighthood in Medieval Literature, ed. W. H. Jackson
(Woodbridge, Suffolk: D. S. Brewer, 1981). First published as vol.
XVII, no. 2 of Forum for Modern Language Studies, 1981. Contains an
excellent survey by Tony Hunt, "The Emergence of the Knight in
France and England," 1-22.

b. The Medieval Court in Europe, ed. Edward Haymes. Houston German
Studies 6 (Munich: Wilhelm Fink, 1986). Conference proceedings.

c. Court and Poet: Selected Proceedings of the International
Courtly Literature Society_.  Ed. Glyn S. Burgess, _et al_.  Arca:
Classical and Medieval Texts, Papers and Monographs 5 (Liverpool:
Francis Cairns, 1981).

d. The Ideals and Practice of Medieval Knighthood II: Papers from
the Third Strawberry Hill Conference, 1986, ed. Christopher Harper-
Bill and Ruth Harvey (Wolfeboro, NH: Boydell, 1988).

e. Strawberry Hill Conference, 5th, 1990, ed. Christopher Harper-
Bill and Ruth Harvery (Woodbridge: Boydell, 1992).

f. Strawberry Hill Conference, 6th, 1994, ed. Stephen Church and
Ruth Harvery (Woodbridge: Boydell, 1995).

4. Encyclopedia: Bradford B. Broughton, Dictionary of Medieval
Knighthood and Chivalry. Concepts and Terms (Westport, CN:
Greenwood Press, 1986).  With bibliography.  Leans strongly towards
English terms (some French).

4. Studies:

a. Aldo Scaglione, Knights at Court: Courtliness, Chivalry and
Courtesy from Ottonian Germany to the Italian Renaissance
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991).

b. Joachim Bumke, Courtly Culture, tr. Thomas Dunlap (Berkeley:
UCaliforniaP, 1991).  A survey of particular problems, with
bibliography.  770 pp.! The German original has translations of the
sources.  I have not seen the English translation; one supposes
that it has also.

c. Johann Jorendt, "`Miles' und `Militia' im 11. Jahrhundert,"
Diss. Erlangen-Nuernberg, 1971. Adopts an approach through
terminology. His chapter on "Militia Christi" (pp. 216-228, 354-59)
is worth reading.

d. Adolf von Harnack, Militia Christi (Tuebingen, 1905; repr.
Darmstadt, 1963). On the development of the concept in the first
three centuries. Basic.

e. Stephen C. Jaeger, The Origins of Courtliness: Civilizing Trends
and the Formation of Courtly Ideals, 923-1210 (Philadelphia:
University of Pennsylvania Press, 1985). A seminal work.