This thesis analyzes the ways in which chivalry is defined and imagined in a variety of fifteenth-century Iberian literary discourses. My primary argument is that these works codify an understanding of chivalry that emphasizes the violence and physicality of knights at the cost of courtesy and idealized virtue. The characters who attempt to abstain from violent acts—the men who try to wage war with words and displays of their rhetorical skills—fare poorly in many contemporary romances, facing harsh consequences such as death and exile. Whereas idealized men may brandish the sword and take what they want, the ability to successfully demonstrate one's level of learning is the mark of those who have no other recourse in society, such as women and effeminate men.
My work establishes that this fifteenth-century representation of idealized chivalry marks a significant departure from the representation of chivalry in previous centuries, in which authors such as Alfonso X and Ramon Llull emphasized cultural refinement and virtuous acts as justifications for the privileges of knights as a social group. In the fifteenth century, I examine the theoretical discussions of chivalry by Alfonso de Cartagena and Alfonso de Palencia and the idealized representation of knights in romances such as Curial e Güelfa and those by Juan de Flores to reveal a consistent emphasis on aggressive knighthood that moves away from associations of chivalry with courtesy, piety, or gentility.
This study suggests that the glorification of belligerent chivalry has important implications for social relations among Christians and marginal groups during this period. I argue that legitimization of nobility through violence includes a coded religious dimension that attacks the members of Iberian society who were assumed to abstain from aggressive behavior, particularly Jews and conversos. By contextualizing the representation of chivalry in romances within a historicized discussion, this dissertation reveals a consistent emphasis on authority legitimized through violence and a reflection of veiled forms of discrimination and prejudice that serve to further glorify the image of idealized heroism in contemporary society.
|Advisor:||Grieve, Patricia E.|
|School Location:||United States -- New York|
|Source:||DAI-A 69/05, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Literature, Middle Ages, Romance literature|
|Keywords:||Alfonso X, King of Castile and Leon, Cartagena, Alfonso de, Chivalry, Flores, Juan de, Gender, Iberian, Llull, Ramon, Palencia, Alfonso Fernandez de, Spain|
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