Levitt, Emma (2016) The construction of high status masculinity through the tournament and martial activity in the later Middle Ages. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This thesis employs a gendered reading of contemporary accounts in order to explore how men’s expert performances in tournaments enabled them to achieve high status manhood during the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century when England witnessed a resurgence of chivalry. In applying medieval concepts of masculinity to ideals of both kingship and nobility in the early modern period, it argues for continuity across a period of history that has often been treated as two distinct stages. The aim is to shed light on how tournaments were a fundamental aspect of Edward IV, Henry VII and Henry VIII’s kingship and masculinity, but also on other nobles and gentry men at these courts who also took this martial display seriously. By examining how men’s performances in the joust were used as a means to evaluate their suitability for royal matches, service in warfare and attendance in the privy chamber, I uncover how those few men who dominated the tiltyard were able to achieve an unrivalled masculine status and close friendship with Edward IV and Henry VIII. The emphasis on a chivalrous version of masculinity as a prevalent model for men of high status during the late medieval and early modern period has brought to the forefront of this study a new group of courtiers, who have largely been missing from the historiography.

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