IMC 2013: Sessions

Session 233: The Knight, the Priest, and the Physician: Perspectives on Military History

Monday 1 July 2013, 14.15-15.45

Moderator/Chair:Steven A. Walton, Department of Social Sciences, Michigan Technological University
Paper 233-aThe Logistical Challenges of Gawain's Pilgrimage
(Language: English)
Timothy J. Nelson, Department of English, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
Index terms: Geography and Settlement Studies, Language and Literature - Middle English, Military History
Paper 233-bCould Anglo-Norman Clergy Be Chivalrous?
(Language: English)
Daniel Gerrard, Centre for Medieval & Renaissance Studies, Oxford University
Index terms: Canon Law, Military History, Monasticism, Social History
Paper 233-c'Arma virumque cano' and of the Ensuing Battle Injuries
(Language: English)
Ilana Krug, Department of History & Political Science, York College of Pennsylvania
Index terms: Medicine, Military History

Paper -a:
This paper builds off existing scholarship surrounding Sir Gawain’s journey through Wales in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight but focuses on the logistical challenges that Sir Gawain overcomes in completing his quest. While this journey is physically possible, it is highly implausible given the realistic complications of such a journey. The expedition’s feasibility will be examined by extrapolating the realistic distances that Sir Gawain could travel per day as dictated by his arms and armament, the topography, season, and the available locations to seek food and shelter. Ultimately, the logistics of this excursion offer insights into the difficulties of a medieval Christian pilgrimage through hostile territory.

Between 1066 and 1200, English and Norman clergy often wielded military power in royal campaigns or rebellions, to protect their flocks from external invasions or to stamp their authority on unruly subordinates. This paper addresses how such activities were accommodated by chroniclers and authors of chansons de geste in light of the development of chivalry as an ideal for knights. It will show how fighting clergy could be understood not merely as a product of land tenure or as a distasteful aberration, but as fully-fledged chivalrous figures in their own right.

Paper -c:
This paper builds on ongoing research into the procurement and retention of honey for particular use in medieval battlefield medicine. In the paper, I discuss the nature of injuries sustained in late medieval war, such as lacerations and puncture wounds caused by arrows and crossbow bolts, and the manner of treatment often employed by medical practitioners, such as the use of honey. I argue that honey, as a common ingredient in many battlefield remedies, had especial importance in this context, and, when the wound was treated, could minimize infection and promote the healing demonstrated in documentary and forensic evidence.