Chivalric Identity of Medieval Knighthood

Chivalric Identity of Medieval Knighthood

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Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’arthur, T.H. White’s Once and Future King, and George Romero’s Knightriders encompass the evolution of the Arthurian tale from Malory’s time to the 1980s. Through this time many things have changed and these changes can be seen within the differences between each work. While there are many prominent differences chivalry or the knightly code is one of the main forces that tie these tales together. Malory reworks many of his sources to bring attention to the grand fellowship of Arthur’s Round Table and the chivalry that holds the knights together. Malory idealizes the power of chivalry and gives a great importance to it throughout his text. Unlike Malory, White does not idealize chivalry, but he does see the good and honorable aspects of chivalry. From Sprague Kurth’s article, “Conclusion,” it is clear to see that White gives his text an anti-war stance and shows chivalry and the controlling moral compass of Arthur’s knights. Chivalry is once again idealized in George Romero’s Knightriders the situations within the film are modernized but the emotions and illusions remain the same. T.H. White is directly referenced within the film and Malory’s idealization of the glory of chivalry can once again be seen. In my essay, I will show how chivalry is used in all the texts above as a bonding agent between all Arthurian knights. As Arthur’s knights honor and respect chivalry they remain as one cohesive group, but once they begin to abandon chivalry the Round Table begins to crumble and chaos ensues.

Annotated Bibliography

Sprague, Kurth “Conclusion.” Arthuriana 16.3 (2006): 129-152. Web. 14 November 2013.
In “Conclusion” Sprague writes about T.H. White’s anti-war stance throughout The Once and Future King. White lived in the era of World War I and began to hate war. While White’s hatred of war is clear throughout his text his take on chivalry is more positive. In White’s work chivalry can be seen as the substance that pulls knights away from the ugly violence they possess within themselves. In my essay, I will use this source as an Example to show the positive perspective of chivalry within an anti-war society.

Archibald, Elizabeth “Malory’s Ideal of Fellowship.” Arthuriana 43.171 (1992): 311-328. Web. 14 November 2013.
In “Malory’s Ideal of Fellowship”, Archibald writes about the bond between the Arthurian knights. She specifically focuses on the changes Thomas Malory made from his sources to bring attention to the strong connection between the knights and the importiance of that connection.

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In particular, she calls attention to Malory’s added attention to Arthur’s distress over the destruction of the Round Table. She also brings attention to Malory’s original section of the healing of Sir Urry. Lastly, she also brings attention to Malory’s use of the word fellowship as a replacement for the French word for company. I will use Archibald’s article as a Method source (Along with Tiller’s article) to analyze Kelly’s reading of Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’arthur.

Tiller, Kenneth “En-graving Chivalry: Tombs, Burial, and the Ideology of Knighthood in Malory's "Tale of King Arthur".” Arthuriana 14.2 (2004): 37-53. Web. 14 November 2013.
In “En-graving Chivalry: Tombs, Burial, and the Ideology of Knighthood in Malory's "Tale of King Arthur”,” Kenneth describes the connection between the use of tombs and the message of knighthood in Malory’s Le Morte D’arthur. The connection between knightly ideals and tombs can best be seen in the tale “The Knight with the Two Swords.” Those who exemplified aspects of chivalry were given tombs and their tombs were also engraved. The engravings on the tombs speak of the good that the individuals did in their life time. More specifically they highlight the elements of chivalry within them. Some of the engravings are prophecies written and told by Merlin. These prophecies connect the knightly ideals of the past to the future. I will use I will use Tiller’s article as a Method source (along with Archibald’s article) to analyze Kelly’s reading of Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’arthur.

Kelly, Robert L. “Royal Policy and Malory’s Round Table.” Arthuriana 14.1 (2004): 129-152. Web. 13 November 2013
In “Royal Policy and Malory’s Round Table,” Kelly writes about the separation between Arthur and his knights and the use of the Pentecostal Oath. Kelly discusses the Arthur’s patronage over the knights. He also compares King Arthur to King Edward IV stating that both kings focused on revolutions early within their kingship. With the great deal of war in Malory’s Le Morte D'arthur Kelly states the connection between rules of war and the promises made within the Pentecostal Oath. Kelly acknowledges the existence of chivalry within the Pentecostal Oath, but he states that it is of less importance than the focus on the feudal system that connects the knights to their king. In my paper I will use this source for an Argument. I will go against Kelly’s assumption at the lack of emphasis placed on chivalry in Malory’s Round Table. I will use Archibald’s and Tiller’s articles to specify different instances where chivalry is central within Le Morte D'arthur.

Blanch, Robert J. “George Romero’s “Knightriders”: A Contemporary Arthurian Romance.” Arthuriana 1.4 (1991): 61-69. Web. 11 November 2013
In “George Romero’s “Knightriders”: A Contemporary Arthurian Romance,” Blanch talks about the connections between the 1981 movie, Knightriders, and classical Arthurian Romances. He specifically writes about the unity of the group through their knightly code. In particular, Lancelot saves his king, Billy, a multitude of time from being dethroned by Morgan. Lastly, Morgan returns to Billy’s court after his adventure in the corrupt modern world longing for the elements of the knightly code. In my essay I will use Blanch as a Background source to examine the connection between Romero’s film, Malory’s Le Morte D'arthur, and T.H. White’s The Once and Future King.

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