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Book Review / A Knight's Own Book of Chivalry

"And they are dressed in such an indecent way that that which everyone ought to be most ashamed to show is what they show all the time to those who want to look, for they cannot refrain from showing their backsides to whoever wants to see them."

This is not a Big 5 published handbook for modern day lifestyle tosh. This is a direct view into the mind of a 14th century knight. A real, fucking knight. Proper, hardcore, walking or riding about with a sword and dagger in real bloody shining armour knight. And he's talking about big, muscly, burly men men showing their arses about. It cannot get much better.


Now that's out of my system, this small and entirely worthwhile read is an absolute must if you are interested in any tiny way about how the knightly class genuinely aspired to be. Now, it's important to remember that de Charny lived in an era quite different to our own, and he was chosen to produce this work because he (presumably) lived up to practically every minute standard he lays in this work. He's the epitome of ideal, and so actually how most knights behaved on a daily basis was probably quite different, and how much they revered themselves was probably far less subtle. However, de Charny seems to be very on board with how unknightly many of the men around him acted, because he calls out all their wanton behaviour, just as much as how incredibly noble many others were, because he highlights all the good stuff. He goes into great detail describing exactly what you should be doing to achieve glory through the chivalric code, and the honour of God's approval.

In all honesty, this guy sounds bloody awesome. If there was a time travel fiction adventure where Geoffroi de Charny was brought into the 21st century he'd probably piss every feminist in the world off for being so damn gentlemanly, but if my time machine took me back to the 1300s, if it wasn't the alternate universe where I got to be a knight myself, which is the ideal scenario, he'd be the shoot/shag/marry option (well at least in the alternate universe where I wasn't already wedded to The Black Prince (before his dysentery), or John of Gaunt (before his possible venereal disease), or Roger Mortimer (before his mental breakdown)). In the gruesome and gruelling Middle Ages you'd be wallowing in goods and glory with this guy's gold about your middle finger. I'd happily live in his castle and shoot off to all my friends about how amazing my knightly husband was. Then wallow more in our collective awesome when he gets stabbed to death at the Battle of Poitiers (it's GLORY alright?!). I'd be forever Lady de Charny and live out my life as a proper powerful widow, using all his glory to remin the world just how fucking ace my dead husband was, and as such, myself. If I didn't die cruelly in childbirth first. But, you know, nuance.

See, if a book written 700 years ago can't inspire that kind of dreaming, then there is no hope in the world, is there?

As an aside, there's actually a really nice little bio before the text proper. I could see poor Sir Geoffroi's face vividly in the story when he possibly used guerilla (ignoble) tactics to attack Edward III's troops in France one day; subsequently, Edward III made a complete mockery of him in public (gasp!) by calling him out of his underhand tactics. Aw, poor Geoffroi. :(


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