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Re: What would bring a knight shame?

Poster: clevin@ripco.com (Craig Levin)

> Poster: Bob & Diana Cosby <cosby@erols.com>


>      I have another question please.  What would bring a knight great
> shame, one he'd want to keep hidden?  Thank you very much in advance for
> your replies.  I sincerely thank you all for your tremendous support in
> my research.

The list I'm going to give below ought to be littered with a lot
of caveats and credits. On this subject, I especially recommend
Keen's Chivalry and Barber and Barker's Tournaments as secondary
sources that ought to be on one's bookshelf.

Physical unfitness-anyone unable to perform on the field would
naturally have come in for his share of upbraiding and abuse.
Lull, in his Book of Chivalry and Knighthood, even taught that
the physically unfit, despite his birth, didn't deserve

"Born on the wrong side of the tracks"-any hint of being attached
to trade or to the manual arts like carpentry or farming normally
got one bounced from high society. For example, Rodrigo Diaz de
Bivar, the Cid, was taunted by his enemies because one of his
fiefs was a grist mill which he had been known to supervise. In
some places, the "taint" of ignoble parentage was not washed out
for generations, rendering even one's son ineligible for
participation in some tournaments and membership in some orders of
chivalry. Depending upon when and where and from whom, bastardy
_could_ be a taint, though Froissart and other later medieval
chroniclers certainly record the lives of gently born bastards
who lived as naturally in aristocratic circles as a legitimate
child would. 

High crimes and misdemeanors-Naturally, committing an act of
treason would have been a deed which anyone would seek to cover
up. Treason included, fwiw, adultery with one's lord's wife or
daughter, hence the tragedy of Tristram and Isoud. Also, earning
one's keep as a bandit might get one flogged out of a tournament.
Cruelty to _ladies_ (as opposed to any other sort of woman)
generally was a faux pas, too. Excommunication wasn't as bad as
one might think-it was often used as a political tool which made
life burdensome, but not shameful. On the other hand, raiding
church properties was a problem, since it did lead to
excommunication, and because it ticked off the powerful patrons
of wherever one raided, be it the city of the cathedral you
looted, or the long-established sponsors and protectors of a
nunnery or monastery in the countryside.

Craig Levin
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