The Rusted Hauberk:
Feudal Ideals of Order and Their Decline

Edited by Liam O. Purdon and Cindy L. Vitto

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"Presents fundamental truths about Western self-consciousness. . . . The Rusted Hauberk will become a starting point for anyone seriously interested in feudalism as a social force and as a key to understanding many of the themes central to the major and minor texts of medieval literature."--William F. Pollard, Kentucky State University


The metaphor of the hauberk, a tunic of chain mail that rusts over time, shapes and unifies this investigation of medieval culture. These essays question the very rubric of the feudal ideal, demonstrating that in historical and legal practice, and in imaginative and didactic writing, a breach often exists between ideal and practice. The authors challenge the notion of a fixed historical construct, emphasizing instead that all constructs must be elastic to allow historical perspectives to enlarge.

Contents
Part I: Resisting Dissolution: Validating Feudal Ideals of Order
Feudal Relations and Reason in Cleanness, by Cindy L. Vitto
Imagining Feudalism in Piers Plowman: Attempts to Restore an Order, by Daniel F. Pigg

Part II: Containing Change: Modifying Feudal Ideals of Order
Potency and Power: Chaucer's Aristocrats and Their Linguistic Superiority, by Jean E. Jost
Chivalry and Feudal Obligation in Barbour's Bruce, by Liam O. Purdon and Julian N. Wasserman

Part III: Disenfranchising Women: Limiting Feudal Ideals of Order
As Good as Her Word: Women's Language in The Knight of the Tour d'Landry, by Cynthia Ho
Men's Theory and Women's Reality: Rape Prosecutions in the English Royal Courts of Justice, 1194-1222, by Patricia Orr

Part IV: Experiencing Feudal Realities: Enduring Feudal Ideals of Order
Par amur et par feid: Keeping Faith and the Varieties of Feudalism in La Chanson de Roland, by William T. Cotton
When Feudal Ideals Failed: Conflicts between Lords and Vassals in the Low Countries, 1127-1296, by Karen Nicholas

Part V: Rejecting Chivalry: Reinscribing Feudal Ideals of Order
Feudal Chivalry in Popular Medieval Battle Poems, by John W. Schwetman
The Roman de Jaufre and the Illusions of Romance, by Ross G. Arthur

Part VI: Surveying Ruins: Considering the Absence of Feudal Ideals of Order
Chaucer Subjectivizes the Oath: Depicting the Fall from Feudalism into Individualism in the Canterbury Tales, by Lois Roney
John Rastell and the Norman Conquest: Tudor Theories about the Feudal Age, by Amos Lee Laine

Afterword
Chivalry and the Other, by Jane Chance

Liam O. Purdon is professor of English at Doane College in Crete, Nebraska. He has published articles in English Language Notes, Philological Quarterly, Studies in Philology, and Medievalia et Humanistica. Cindy L. Vitto is associate professor of English at Rowan College of New Jersey in Glassboro. She is the author of The Virtuous Pagan in Middle English Literature.

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