The Illusion of Chivalry

February 18, 2008

John A Lynn in his excellent book “Battle” speaks of what he calls the illusion of chivalry. One the one hand is the medieval concept of chivalry and on the other is the brutal reality of war. I think our perception of this so called illusion derives from how we see the makeup  medieval armies. Dr. Lynn describes the army of Edward III as composed of “2,700 knights and squires, men of aristocratic and landed backgrounds.” Serving along with them are 12,000 commoners including 7,000 peasant longbowmen. The problem with this description is the assumption that medieval mounted warriors were composed of aristocrats, knights and squires.


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