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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.

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Becoming a Gentleman

Adolescence, Chivalry, and Turn-of-the-Century Youth Movements

Kent Baxter

This article traces the intellectual and cultural history of the concept of chivalry, paying particular attention to its relationship with coming-of-age narratives, boyology, and theories of adolescent development. The concept of chivalry was central to the texts surrounding turn-of-the-twentieth-century youth movements, such as the Boy Scouts and the Knights of King Arthur. Chivalry, as it was constructed in these texts, became a way to contain cultural anxieties associated with a fear of modernity and, as a code of behavior, provided a path for youths to come of age, therefore containing concerns about the newly conceived and characteristically unstable developmental stage of adolescence.

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Not Forgotten

Eliza Fenning, Frankenstein, and Victorian Chivalry

Tim Marshall

On 18 July 1867, Charles Dickens’s weekly journal All the Year Round went back into history and told the story of a young woman who met her death on the gallows in London in 1815. ‘Old Stories Re-Told’, sub-titled ‘Eliza Fenning (The Danger of Condemning to Death on Circumstantial Evidence Alone)’, reminded its readers of a mis-carriage of justice. Speaking through one of his journalists, Walter Thornbury, Dickens performed an act of chivalry directed at the person and memory of a wronged woman. Eliza Fenning, a servant in a wealthy London household, worked for a Mr Turner, a law-stationer.

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'He Was Low But Was He Honest?'

On Roy Campbell's Fascist Poetry

John E. Coombes

The immediate impression is of a figure outrageously Quixotic, albeit bereft of the elaborate structure of chivalric belief which sustained that earlier hero; of a figure of catholic fideistic absurdity which approaches the ‘endearing’. Later, post-war photos of Campbell show a figure bearing an uncanny resemblance to W.C. Fields though – it has to be said – without the charm. The Campbell of the anecdote – simultaneously, as we are told, author of the longest fascist poem in English (apart from Ezra Pound’s) – would moreover seem to have stepped out of one of Chesterton’s Father Brown stories. Their author had, it will be remembered, moved, under the influence of his friend Belloc, from a position of amiable if ineffectual liberalism to increasingly pronounced anti-Semitism. Yet the play of paradox in the earlier Father Brown stories shows little of this: its function is in general to demonstrate the resolvability of paradox through the operations of grace and the intimations of the enquiring subject, a kind of functional accommodation of deism and liberal individualism.