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Pueri Sunt Pueri

Machismo, Chivalry, and the Aggressive Pastimes of the Medieval Male Youth

Sean McGlynn

This article draws on research into medieval childhood to argue that the violence of male youth activities was not simply a result of their age and hormones—“boys will be boys”—but was positively encouraged by society and the state as training for their potential roles in conflicts, for war was all pervasive and all important. The violent games and pastimes of male youths are discussed in light of their relevance to war, as they progress into sports that served as military training. The focus here is on the chivalric tournament, the apogee of such entertainments and a form of medieval war games within a violent sports spectacle. A primary intention of such training was to foster combat primary group cohesion among the male youths preparing to engage in war with its codes of chivalry.