Knightly Codes And Piety

Juliet and Malcolm Vale trace through the web of secular status and religious instincts that made up the codes of conduct of English chivalry.

Edward the Black Prince (d.1376), eldest son of Edward III, might be held in many ways to epitomise the ideal of English chivalry. Distinguished in individual feats of arms at an early age, he went on to achieve equal renown as a commander, notably at the battles of Poitiers (1356) and Najera (1376); Froissart called him 'the flower of the world's knighthood at that time and the most successful soldier of his age'. Looking at his tomb in Canterbury Cathedral with the effigy of the prince in armour, the chest emblazoned with his coat of arms, badges, mottoes and devices; the helm, crest and surcoat magnificently embroidered with his coat of arms placed triumphantly above it – a rare survival of standard practice – we are struck by the full force of what appears to be the worldly display of secular values.

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