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Strong of Body, Brave and Noble: Chivalry and Society in Medieval France Paperback – 2 Apr 1998

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press (2 April 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780801485480
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801485480
  • ASIN: 0801485487
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 1.3 x 22.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,023,577 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


"In straightforward narrative, Bouchard introduces the reader to a fascinating and often complex subject. . . . Written with clarity and wit, it is unencumbered with lengthy and obscure footnotes, and contains a useful bibliography of primary and secondary sources, many of which are available in English translation. A refreshing monograph, indeed. General readers; undergraduates."--Choice

"This excellent little book . . . introduces undergraduates to the nobility of high medieval France, A.D. 1000-1250, but it can also be read with profit by other medievalists, and its clear and direct style will appeal to the general reader. . . . This book is highly readable throughout, while at the same time deeply informed by the most up-to-date findings made by recent researchers. . . . Its coverage and emphasis are just right for its subject."--Arthuriana

"With Strong of Body, Brave and Noble, Constance Bouchard has produced a book that merits an enthusiastic reception from all medievalists. As the author of numerous works on the medieval aristocracy, Bouchard is ideally qualified to produce this general study of the aristocracy during the High Middle Ages. Although her primary focus is on France north of the Loire between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries, Bouchard incorporates recent scholarship on the aristocracy in England, Germany, and the Midi to provide a more balanced and complete picture of the richness and diversity of aristocratic society. This work offers the same clear, readable prose and thorough grasp of the sources and current state of scholarly debates that have distinguished Bouchard's other writing."--History

"By no means meant for specialists, Strong of Body serves as an introduction for students, with brief and well-balanced discussions of historiographical issues for teachers and more casual readers. this is her task, and she succeeds admirably. Indeed, it will become the standard text in my own medieval courses. . . . By the intelligent blending of both primary sources and secondary studies, and creative admission of the inconsistencies, ironies, and fluidities that complicate any simple attempts to characterize or define the nature and culture of medieval French nobility, Bouchard has presented an honest and very practical introduction to that world."--Joseph P. Byrne, Belmont University, Church History. March, 2000.

"In this book, the author skillfully synthesizes the results of a generation of research on the french nobility in the high Middle Ages. . . .Strong of Body, Brave and Noble offers both general readers and scholars a valuable discussion of the social history of the high Middle Ages. Bouchard's clear exposition leads the reader to a sophisticated understanding of many complex topics, while her valuable annotated bibliography outlines further reading."--Mary Alberi. The Historian

"The focus of this compelling work by a University of Akron faculty member is on the nobles of these centuries, who are shown to make up a complex and fluctuating social group that defies simple definition. Teachers and scholars of the Middle Ages will especially appreciate this work for its deft, careful, and well researched handling of these complexities, but one not need be a specialist to appreciate and understand Bouchard's fastidiously constructed and clearly presented ideas."--Roberta Millikin, Ohioana Quarterly. Summer, 2000.

"'Strong of Body, Brave and Noble' is an original and interesting synthesis of a generation's worth of scholarship on the medieval aristocracy and chivalry in France. Bouchard has a thorough command of the sources, methodology, and secondary literature. The book is well organized and a real pleasure to read."--Theodore Evergates, author of Feudal Society in the Bailliage of Troyes under the Counts of Champagne


Mediaeval society was dominated by its knights and nobles. The literature created in mediaeval Europe was primarily a literature of knightly deeds, and the modern imagination has also been captured by these leaders and warriors. This book explores the nature of the nobility, focusing on France in the High Middle Ages (11th-13th centuries). Constance Brittain Bouchard examines their families; their relationships with peasants, townspeople and clerics; and the images of them fashioned in mediaeval literary texts. She incorporates throughout a consideration of noble women and the nobility's attitude toward women. Research in the last two generations has modified and expanded modern understanding of who knights and nobles were; how they used authority, war and law; and what position they held within the broader society. Even the concepts of feudalism, courtly love and chivalry, once thought to be self-evident aspects of mediaeval society, have been seriously questioned. Bouchard presents bold new interpretations of mediaeval literature as both reflecting and criticizing the role of the nobility and their behaviour.

She offers the first synthesis of this scholarship in accessible form, inviting general readers as well as students and professional scholars to a new understanding of aristocratic role and function.

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9 February 1999
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Most helpful customer reviews on 3.7 out of 5 stars 5 reviews
3.0 out of 5 starsUseful but flawed study
17 November 2009 - Published on
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23 people found this helpful.
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3.0 out of 5 starsThree Stars
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jim rice
4.0 out of 5 starsI kind of remember why I like history...
22 August 2013 - Published on
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Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 starsStrong of fact, noble writing!
9 February 1999 - Published on
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12 people found this helpful.
Kathryn Harris
5.0 out of 5 starsread it now!
21 October 2006 - Published on
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7 people found this helpful.

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