A surprising look at how medieval etiquette can improve our lives today, from the author of the popular How to Live Like a Monk
Medieval people are often portrayed as having poor hygiene and table manners—licking their knives or throwing chicken bones on the floor. In the Middle Ages, however, such behavior was not tolerated. Medieval society cherished order in nearly every facet of life, from regular handwashing to daily prayer. There were consequences if you didn’t adhere to the rules of good behavior: you wouldn’t be invited to the lord’s next dinner, you wouldn’t win the battle, and you wouldn’t win the lady.
Author Daniele Cybulskie explores the world of medieval etiquette, encompassing table manners and interpersonal relationships as well as running a household and ruling a kingdom. With wit and insight, Cybulskie draws on a wide variety of primary sources, from handbooks for young knights to romantic poems. Though we may no longer need best practices for things like dueling or ordering about our servants, the principles of generosity, kindness, and respect still apply today. After all, it’s a good reminder to “not talk when you have food in your mouth” and “anything you say should be entertaining, polite, and sophisticated.”
Illustrated with original drawings by Anna Lobanova as well as eighty medieval artworks, Chivalry and Courtesy is full of good advice for everyone, whether you are a peasant or a knight, a student or a CEO, a king or a queen.
About the Author
Daniele Cybulskie is the author of How to Live Like a Monk (Abbeville), Life in Medieval Europe, and The Five-Minute Medievalist. She is the creator and host of The Medieval Podcast and ExtraMedieval, and is a contributor to Medievalists.net.
Playful, learned, and bursting with golden nuggets of information—a joyful book that shows us how medieval history still matters in surprising ways.
— Dan Jones, New York Times best-selling author and presenter of Netflix’s Secrets of Great British Castles
A must read for anyone who wants to brush up on the finer points of etiquette, or who just wants to be a better human being.
— Eleanor Janega, author of The Once and Future Sex: Going Medieval on Women’s Roles in Society and creator of the blog Going Medieval
Danièle Cybulskie has done it again: no one is better at bringing the medieval world to life. . . . There’s so much to learn from the Middle Ages, and this wonderful book—supremely elegant, witty, expert, and wise—is the ideal guide.
— Helen Castor, medieval historian, broadcaster, and author of She-Wolves and Joan of Arc