IMC 2008: Sessions

Session 1110: Concepts of Courtesy and Chivalry

Wednesday 9 July 2008, 11.15-12.45

Moderator/Chair:Jeff Rider, Department of Romance Languages & Literatures, Wesleyan University, Connecticut
Paper 1110-aCorteisie in the History of William Marshal
(Language: English)
Glyn Burgess, School of Cultures, Languages & Area Studies, University of Liverpool
Index terms: Language and Literature - French or Occitan, Medievalism and Antiquarianism
Paper 1110-bThe Concept of Courtesy in the Íslendingasögur and its Limits
(Language: English)
Liliane Irlenbusch-Reynard, Abteilung für Skandinavische Sprachen und Literaturen, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
Index terms: Language and Literature - Comparative, Language and Literature - French or Occitan, Language and Literature - Scandinavian, Mentalities
Paper 1110-cHow to Be a Good Knight?: Literary Evidence in the 13th Century
(Language: English)
Iris Rau, School of History, University of Leeds
Index terms: Military History, Social History

Paper -a:
The terms ‘corteis’ and ‘corteisie’ are attested in French in the first half of the 12th century (the adjective before the noun) and they convey a range of military and social virtues. In the second half of the 12th century they are fundamentally linked to what we call ‘courtly’ literature and are used in a wide variety of social and ethical contexts relating to life at court, and with reference to both men and women. But how are these terms used in the thirteenth century? This paper explores their use in the lengthy History of William Marshal, composed in the 1220s. Are the terms ued in a traditional or an innovative way? Have there been any changes in the values to which they refer?
Paper -b:
In the sagas in general and in the Íslendingasögur in particular, the heroes are willingly qualified as ‘courteous’ (kurteisligr) and their manners – and even their trappings – as bearing the mark of ‘courtesy’ (kurteisi). But what was really meant by these attributions? Were there more than ‘up to date’ appreciations reflecting the influence of Old French medieval literature on the sagas? Which significance was indeed given to the concept of courtesy in the North?

This is what this paper intends to examine by considering the different uses of the words ‘courtesy’ and ‘courteous’ in several Íslendingasögur and by comparing them to the use made of them in Old French medieval literature where they were loaned from.
Paper -c:
The purpose of this paper is to explore the idea of ‘good knights’ by looking into key passages of some 13th-century material associated to the conduct of a knightly life. An ideal knight had to combine various qualities for his existence in courts, in wars, and in love-affairs. The requirement was not only limited to good manners and loyal service; physical beauty and military prowess were as important. These 13th-century texts also show that the understanding of chevalerie was drawing on a more systematic discussion and intellectual phase than before.