Knights, those larger-than-life figures who dominated the medieval world, have inspired writers and artists through the centuries. What emerges from their portrayals, and from historians as well, is a contradictory figure who still fascinates and intrigues. Were knights, for instance, all spotless heroes of a glorious age of chivalry and romance? Or were they unscrupulous opportunists, who on occasion, were little better than bandits in their lust for land and loot?
In this highly original and intriguing study, Andrea Hopkins examines the way in which writers and chroniclers of the times portrayed knighthood, contrasting this with the way real-life knights lived. One of her more surprising and exciting revelations is just how deeply real kmghts were influenced by their fictional counterparts (such as Sir Lancelot), and how their ambitions and achievements were shaped by their idea of virtuous knightly behavior.
What emerges is an absorbing adventure story, which starts with the origin of knighthood, explaining why and where the notion of the knightly class came about. Andrea Hopkins examines the role of knights in peace and war, with gripping accounts of the battles they fought, how they exerted their power, and of their frequent clashes with authority in the form of the medieval monarchs and the church which many of them J had sworn to defend.
Throughout, vivid illustrations, many in full color, help to create the authentic atmosphere of the age. In addition, special features focus on such key topics as heraldry, the tournament, knightly orders, the castle, and the development of armor. The careers of celebrated individual knights are also examined. Finally, Andrea Hopkins charts the decline of knights as the dominant political and military force, and assesses their lasting contributions to our cultural heritage. The result is a highly informative and readable study of a fascinating and very different age and the elite group of men that shaped it.