Chivalry in Elizabethan Poetry

2157 Words5 Pages

The reign of Elizabeth I is considered to be the “Golden Age” of English history. During her reign, arts and literature flourished and became more diverse, which can clearly be seen in some of the greatest poets’ works, such as Sir Thomas Wyatt, Sir Philip Sydney, Edmund Spenser and William Shakespeare. Poetry in the Elizabethan age went through many changes and developments, in terms of form, imagery, subjects and themes. Most poets of this age tried to explore new genres and themes, however Queen Elizabeth I remained one of the poets’ main influences. In other words, with a few exceptions, chivalry was indeed the hallmark of Elizabethan poetry.
Chivalry and Courtly Love
Chivalry, according to Dr. Richard Abels, is defined as “an aristocratic ethos that prescribed what qualities and attributes a knight ought to possess, and which helped distinguish the military aristocracy of Western Europe in the twelfth through fifteenth centuries from rich commoners and identify them as a social elite.” This definition explains that chivalry initially described noblemen and aristocrats, differentiating them from the poor and unfortunate. Chivalry in poetry is also defined as “transforming the frigid and worthless compositions which had been painfully produced by the knight of chivalry into fluent and ready verses”, in Amy Cruse's opinion as she states in her book The Elizabethan Lyrists and Poetry. It is also perceived as “exaggerated flattery” as the poets portrayed their love to the Queen, according to Cruse. This portrays the image of chivalry as a powerful tool that poets used to accentuate their strength and “flattery” in the readers' minds.
A common misconception is that courtly love and chivalry are the same. On one hand,...

... middle of paper ...

...yningen, Christina Van. "THE POETS' POET." Theoria: A Journal of Social and Political Theory 3 (1950): 96. JSTOR. Web. 2 Dec. 2013.
Kinsella, Thomas. "Two Sonnets by William Shakespeare." The Poetry Ireland Review 82 (2005): 95-98. JSTOR. Web. 2 Dec. 2013.
Odabashian, Barbara. "Wyatt's Hevyn and Erth and All That Here Me Plain." The Explicator 52.1 (1993): 8-12. Web. 3 Dec. 2013.
Schulze, Ivan L. "Notes on Elizabethan Chivalry and "The Faerie Queene"" Studies in Philology 30.2 (1933): 148. JSTOR. Web. 1 Dec. 2013.
---. "Reflections of Elizabethan Tournaments in the Faerie Queene, 4.4 and 5.3." ELH 5.4 (1938): 282. JSTOR. Web. 1 Dec. 2013.
Warton, Thomas. "SECT. II. Of Spenser's Imitations from Old Romances." Observations on the Faerie Queene of Spenser By Thomas Warton ... London: Oxford University, 1754. 13+. Google Books. Web. 30 Nov. 2013.

Open Document