Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Knighthood and Chivalry in high medieval England, 1066-1300
Academic Year
Semester 1
Mutually Exclusive
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 2 Hours   50%
Semester Assessment Written Essay  (2500 words)  50%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   50%
Supplementary Assessment Written Essay  (2500 words)  50%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. ​Demonstrate an understanding of the main developments in English history from 1066-c.1250.

2. Construct coherent historical arguments about the extent to which elite warrior culture changed in England across the high medieval period.

3. Identify the main ideas which shaped contemporary concepts of ideal elite conduct in high medieval England.

4. Demonstrate an understanding of some of the problems historians face when attempting to define cultural models and ideas.

Brief description

Chivalry and knighthood are two of the concepts most strongly associated with medieval England. Despite this, medieval historians have not reached a consensus on how to define these cultural models. There is still much debate regarding not only the point at which the ideology of chivalry and knighthood became established in medieval England, but also why these ideologies were adopted so fully by the medieval elite. In this course, students will explore these decades-long debates and consider how the identity of noble warriors changed across the course of the medieval period. Our investigations will begin in 1066, when an invading Norman force brought new ideas of exemplary conduct to the Anglo-Saxon realm. They will continue into the twelfth century and follow the career of the greatest knight of this age, William Marshal. The course will end by considering whether historians have been correct in their suggestions that there was a decline in chivalry at the end of the thirteenth century.


Introduction: The culture of the elite in high medieval England

Norms and ideals as markers of social status

1066 – A turning point?

Knighthood 1: Problems and definitions

Knighthood 2: An aristocratic knighthood

Chivalry: Problems and definitions

The education of the elite: youth, tournaments and technological developments

Elite behavioural ideals and norms: War and honour

Elite behavioural ideals and norms: The court

Elite behavioural ideals and norms: Emotions

Elite behavioural ideals and norms: Conflict and reconciliation

Elite warriors in Anglo-Norman historical narratives

Knightly behaviour during civil war: King Stephen and the ‘Anarchy’

King John and his barons

The greatest knight?: William Marshal

Elite culture in the reign of Henry III

The Decline of Chivalry? Evesham and its aftermath

Conclusion: What was chivalry?


Knighthood in historical narratives

Chivalry in historical narratives

Representations of behaviour in historical narratives

L'Histoire de Guillaume le Maréchal 

The Battle of Evesham

What was chivalry?

Revision seminar

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Students will be introduced to data in the form of tables and figures and a range of quantitative data, which will require some degree of interpretation and understanding.
Communication Written communication skills will be developed through the coursework; skills in oral presentation will be developed in seminars but are not formally assessed.
Improving own Learning and Performance Students will be advised on how to improve research and communication skills through the individual tutorial providing feedback on submitted coursework.
Information Technology Students will be encouraged to locate suitable material on the web and to apply it appropriately to their own work. Students will also be expected to word-process their work and make use of Blackboard. These skills will not be formally assessed.
Personal Development and Career planning Students will develop a range of transferable skills, including time management and communication skills, which may help them identify their personal strengths as they consider potential career paths.
Problem solving Students are expected to note and respond to historical problems which arise as part of the study of this subject area and to undertake suitable research for seminars and essays.
Research skills Students will develop their research skills by reading a range of texts and evaluating their usefulness in preparation for the coursework and the written examination.
Subject Specific Skills Students will develop their analytical skills by engaging with primary source material from the period under study. They will increase their knowledge of historical approaches and methodologies as well as their ability to debate and critique existing historical arguments.
Team work Students will be expected to play an active part in group activities (e.g. short group presentations in seminars) and to learn to evaluate their own contribution to such activities.


This module is at CQFW Level 5