Making Knighthood: The Construction of Masculinity in the Ordene de chevalerie, the Livre de chevalerie de Geoffroi de Charny and the Espejo de verdadera nobleza
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This dissertation applies the concept of hegemonic masculinity. as first proposed by R.W Connell in her book Masculinities, to three works of medieval chivalric conduct literature. This dissertation asserts that the authors of the Ordene de chevalerie, the Livre de chevalerie of Geoffroi de Charny and the Espejo de verdadera nobleza create an image of knightly masculinity that demonstrates its superiority over other forms of medieval masculinity. At the same time, each text serves a secondary purpose; in elucidating the values and political aims of its author. The Ordene de chevalerie demonstrates the hegemonic nature of knighthood by means of its frame story while at the same time trying to show how the knighthood is intimately linked to the Christian faith by means of the ritual of initiation into the knighthood. The Livre de chevalerie provides guidance on how to obtain honor and prowess, while at the same showing how the knighthood is superior to the clerical class, another powerful mode of medieval masculinity. The Espejo de verdadera nobleza demonstrates that the hegemonic form of masculinity embodied in the knighthood was open to those who showed the necessary characteristics and won the approval of the sovereign. The Espejo acts as means of institutionalizing the knighthood and shows the first imaginings of how the knighthood would change with the advent of the Renaissance. By using a theoretical framework more common to the fields of sociology and management studies to explore these texts, this dissertation demonstrates how theories that are accepted in these fields may be applied to literary and medieval studies. This dissertation also seeks to bring greater attention to the genre of chivalric conduct literature, a genre that does not receive as much attention from scholars as other medieval genres such as epic and romance. This dissertation seeks to show that chivalric conduct literature is a fruitful field of study and that these three lesser known works in this genre provide valuable medieval perspectives on the concepts of knightly masculinity. Although these authors define knighthood differently, they all agree that knighthood plays a defining role in constructing and modeling a superior form of masculinity.