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The Knight in History by Frances Gies

The Knight in History (1984)

by Frances Gies

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This is obviously very well researched. And it is equally obvious that Gies knows what he is talking about. The knight is a very broad topic and spans over a long period of time and over many countries and cultures. So the information is pretty dense. Gies looks into the beginnings of knighthood and how the institution changed over time. From how the equipment and how they were funded and paid changed to how their function changed and they turned to poetry and song or how they ended up fighting for the church. It is impossible, of course, to pull the knight out of the history that he took part in and also impossible to go in-depth into all of that history but Gies strikes a pretty good balance. There were times when a lot of names were mentioned that didn't get much of an introduction and a history buff would probably have no trouble with that but some of the names ended up meaning nothing to me. But he also takes a close look at a couple of particular knights that gives the reader a better idea of the life of a knight more than an overview could do. It isn't the most readable history book I've ever read but that doesn't mean it wasn't interesting. You just have to have a true, and I would say, slightly more than casual interest to make it worth your time. ( )
  bedda | Jul 8, 2012 |
Za one kojima vitez ili viteštvo znače više od istorijskog podatka, korisna i zanimljiva biće knjiga američke autorke Fransis Džajs "Vitezovi kroz istoriju".

Čovek na konju, sa štitom, oklopom i kacigom, sa mačem oko pasa i kopljem u ruci pojavio se na istorijskoj sceni u Francuskoj, u 8. veku i tu je ostao, pretrpevši razne promene, sve do pojave vatrenog oružja i nacionalnih država. Dakle, čitav srednji vek. Pratio ga je specifičan kodeks ponašanja poznat kao "kavaljerstvo". Prvo ga imenuje latinska reč miles (vojnik), u anglosaksonskoj jezičkoj verziji cniht, srodna reč, knight.

Pošto je uvek jahao konja, u drugim jezicima reč vojnik zamenjena je rečju sa značenjem konjanik: u francuskom to je chevalier, u nemačkom ritter, italijasnkom cavalier, u španskom caballero. I to je bio početak mita koji i dalje traje.
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To Paul "a verray, parfit gentil knight"
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Of all the many types of soldier that have appeared on the military stage in the course of time, from the Greek hoplite, the Roman legionary, and the Ottoman janissary to members of the specialized branches of modern armed forces, none has had a longer career than the knight of the European Middle Ages, and none has had an equal impact on history, social and cultural as well as political.
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(from the back of the book) For six centuries the medieval knight dominated the battlefields and stirred the imagination of the Western world.  Born out of the chaos of the early Middle Ages, the armored, mounted warrior revolutionized warfare and became the keystone of the new political structure of feudalism.  Alarmed by his excesses, the Church first attempted to tame him, then enlisted him in its own enterprises - above all, the First Crusade of 1095.  The Church's efforts to Christianize the knight gave him a status sought even by kings and princes, and he was celebrated by the troubadours, trouveres, and their successors, including the fabricators of the legend of King Arthur and the Round Table.

In the end, the knight was anachronistically stranded in the age of gunpowder and the national state, but memory of him proved durable.  In a long "Indian summer," which stretched into modern times, knighthood was revived and recalled with affectionate myopia - its faults forgotten, its virtues exaggerated.  Here, at last, is the real picture of knighthood.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060914130, Paperback)

A magisterial history of the origins, reality, and legend of the knight

Born out of the chaos of the early Middle Ages, the armored and highly mobile knight revolutionized warfare and quickly became a mythic figure in history. From the Knights Templars and English knighthood to the crusades and chivalry, The Knight in History, by acclaimed medievalist Frances Gies, bestselling coauthor of Life in a Medieval Castle, paints a remarkable true picture of knighthood—exploring the knight’s earliest appearance as an agent of lawless violence, his reemergence as a dynamic social entity, his eventual disappearance from the European stage, and his transformation into Western culture’s most iconic hero.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:04:02 -0400)

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