Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index

Article of the Month

Indexers select an article or essay at the beginning of each month that is outstanding in its line of argument, wealth of significances, and writing style. We particularly look for pieces that will be useful as course readings.

Spetember 2014

Geoffrey Luttrell, lord of Irnham Manor, is armed by his wife and his daughter-in-law
Geoffrey Luttrell, lord of Irnham Manor, is armed by his wife and his daughter-in-law (c.1325-1335). London, British Library, Add. MS 42130, fol. 202v.
Source: Wikimedia Commons

McVitty, E. Amanda. "False Knights and True Men: Contesting Chivalric Masculinity in English Treason Trials, 1388–1415." Journal of Medieval History 40, 4 (2014): 458-477.

Abstract: The treatment of high-status traitors in later medieval England intrigues historians, who have sought explanations for increasingly brutal penalties and analysed degrading punishments that undid the traitor's knighthood. Recent scholarship incorporates gender into this analysis, suggesting rituals of degradation feminised the traitor and thereby preserved the coherence and integrity of elite masculine identity. This article uses the framework of homosociality to expand the analysis of gender in politically motivated cases of treason where traitors were characterised as "false" knights. In these cases, treason was conceived of as the corruption of knightly manhood because the potential for treason was intrinsic to chivalric values of love and loyalty through which knightly masculinity was performed. The knight and the traitor were mutually constitutive rather than oppositional gendered identities, which meant the traitor's punishment could destabilise rather than reinforce elite masculinity as embodied in the knight. [Reproduced from the journal's page on the Taykor and Francis website: tandfonline.com/