• L.E. Mearman

Episode 5 - The Myth of the Mounted Knight

Updated: Apr 4, 2020

Did you know that most of what we think about medieval knights is highly romanticized and inaccurate? Learn the truth about the “myth of the medieval mounted knight” in this special episode of Author Advice.

What images are conjured in your mind when you hear “medieval”? Armor glinting, swords swinging, knights charging on horseback? I’d imagine one or all of these crossed your mind. But none seems to embody the “age of chivalry” better than the image of the mounted knight in our modern minds. But, this idea is highly romanticized and inaccurate.

In today's episode, you will learn:

  • How the "myth of the mounted knight" has shaped our view of medieval warfare.

  • How this myth is, indeed, a myth.

  • The truth about how medieval knights trained, fought, lived, and died.

Parker states that, “There was a romantic time not long ago when it was generally believed that medieval warfare consisted of undisciplined fief-holding warriors, irrationally driven by their chivalric ethic, fighting any individualistic style of combat dominated by battles between single knights who engaged in mounted shock combat. This view is false."

Episode Highlights

1:09 - Romantic, False Views of Knights

4:35 - What’s the Truth?

5:13 - Training

5:47 - Dominating the Battlefield?

8:42 - Romanticized in Their Own Time

10:25 - How to Defeat a Mounted Knight

*Times are approximate

"In William of Tyre’s manuscript History of the crusading kingdoms (c. 1280), mounted troops are shown attacking a fortified city. What’s interesting about this particular piece of medieval art (and in many other examples like it) is that both the space and grandeur used to highlight the knights is grossly overdone. The artist, following typical western tradition to this point, illustrates the importance of the mounted knights by showing them larger than they would realistically be. This is a trend in medieval art, where importance is shown by size and attention paid to detail, not so much to realism."
Medieval depiction of the Siege of Tyre

Sources & Sundries

  • Parker, Geoffrey. Cambridge Illustrated History: Warfare.

  • Patterson, James G. “The Myth of the Mounted Knight.” https://www.arlima.net/the-orb/non_spec/missteps/ch3.html

A great selection of Primary Sources pertaining to Knights that you might want to peruse:

  • Charny, Geoffroi de. The Book of Chivalry of Geoffroi de Charny: Text, Context, and Translation. Edited Richard W. Kaeuper and Elspeth Kennedy, translated by Elspeth Kennedy. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996.

  • A Knight’s Own Book of Chivalry. Edited Richard W. Kaeuper and Elspeth Kennedy, translated by Elspeth Kennedy. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005.

  • Chrétien de Troyes. Arthurian Romances. Translated by Carleton W. Carroll, introduced by William W. Kibler. New York: Penguin Classics, 1991.

  • Froissart, Jean. Chronicles. Selected, translated, and edited by Geoffrey Brereton. New York: Penguin Books, 1978.

“A tale is but half told when only one person tells it.” - The Saga of Grettir the Strong,

What other historical people or events have you found to be romanticized? What do you know and think about the truth? Please share below. You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest @authoringadvice.


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