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Title: Knighthood, chivalry and the Crown in fifteenth-century Scotland, 1424-1513
Author: Stevenson, Katherine Christie
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2003
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Knighthood was not only a military status which members of the nobility could attain, but also a powerful social and political tool for the crown. James I, James II, James III and James IV all used knighthood as a way of controlling members of the nobility. The honour was usually bestowed to signify a man’s commencement in royal service, or to reward him for service which he had already provided. Over the course of the century the need for knights in a military capacity declined, and knighthood changed from a career which esteemed heroics on the battlefield to one which demanded equal parts of martial skill and administrative, political and diplomatic abilities. However, while warfare was changing so dramatically, the ideals of chivalry underwent a revival. This was manifested through ideas promoted in literature, but also through traditional chivalric displays. These displays, namely tournaments, were held infrequently throughout the century, until the reign of James IV, who adopted a programme of chivalric reform, which included numerous crown-sponsored tournaments and jousts. Whilst knights were important in everyday court life, there was a steady decline of interest in chivalric knighthood from the start of the century. James I returned to Scotland with ideas for reform based on what he had witnessed during his years at the English court, and he focused more on using his knights in political and administrative posts. James II had a keen interest in chivalry, but his time was spent predominantly on waging military campaigns of a type which increasingly rendered the knight’s traditional role futile. James III showed less interest in chivalry than his predecessors, and although scholars have often credited him with founding a chivalric order of knighthood in the 1470s, these assertions are ill-founded. In fact, James III all but ignored the common ideology which was shared by an important section of his nobility. There was, however, a revival of chivalry in the reign of James IV, when the king attempted to promote himself as a chivalric patron and encourage his knights to pay tribute to the ideals of the mythical Arthurian court.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available