Podcast 62: Public Understanding of Chivalry

In the podcast’s final episode, Prof. Paul Sturtevant, founder of the Society for the Public Understanding of the Middle Ages, joins Scott to talk about the organization and how modern understanding of chivalry is built, colored, and reflected by real historical studies, as well as video games, movies, Renaissance faires, and the historical reenactors who work in the heritage industry. Also: A farewell to the Chivalry Today podcast as we announce our final episode — with thanks to the people who’ve made the show possible, and some final thoughts and reflections.

Quicklinks: Use the links below to learn more about the books, programs, and products mentioned in this episode of the podcast:

How Do We Understand the Code of Chivalry?

Prof. Paul Sturtevant is founder of the Society for the Public Understanding of the Middle Ages.

From movies (Lord of the Rings) and television shows (Games of Thrones), to Renaissance Faires, political speeches, and social movements, our view of what is truly “medieval” is constantly being affected and re-formed by images of “medieval-ism” we see all around us – including the historical interpretative events and demonstrations put on by Chivalry Today. (The image above shows just such a thing occurring as demonstrators in the Occupy Wall Street movement protest supposed corporate greed by donning costumes of the medieval outlaw-hero Robin Hood.)

What does our perception of the Age Of Chivalry tell us about who we are, and who we want to be as individuals, and as a society? And how do our own cultural and social assumptions frame, color, and distort our view of medieval history and the code of chivalry? Is it even possible to have such a thing as an “unbiased view of history,” or does our cultural baggage always travel with us as we venture into studies of the world of the past?

Scott’s guest in this episode of the podcast is Prof. Paul Sturtevant, visiting lecturer at the University of Leeds and Leeds Trinity College, and founder of the Society for the Public Understanding of the Middle Ages (PUMA). In this final episode of the podcast, Prof. Sturtevant provides some interesting thoughts on how we see ourselves reflected in studies and depictions of medieval history and the code of chivalry.