chapter  5
Military Masculinity in England and Northern France c.1050–c.1225
ByM. Bennett
Pages 18

The figure of the mounted knight is still, to many people, the most potent image of the medieval period. He is often portrayed, in both medieval literature and in manuscript illuminations, in front of ‘his’ castle, at once both a representative of the military ideals of the Middle Ages and an oppressor of the peasants whose labour provided the upkeep of the knightly class. Although there is much that is wrong with this stereotype of the knight, it does contain elements that would have been recognized by his contemporaries. This chapter explores the image of the male military figure in texts of the period c.1050-c.1225. What physical and sartorial attributes were required by men of the aristocracy in order to fulfil social expectations of the warrior? How did they learn how to be knights? How were knights expected to behave? How far were the images presented in epic and romance literature challenged in other sources? Were the images of knightly behaviour socially acceptable? What happened to knights who failed to fulfil the expectations placed on them?