Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name




Degree Program

History, MA

Committee Chair

Beattie, Blake

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Westerfeld, Jennifer

Committee Member

Westerfeld, Jennifer

Committee Member

Beattie, Pamela

Author's Keywords

medieval; Arthurian romance; joust; tournament; chivalry; courtly love


It is a common belief among historians that the tournament was the ultimate expression of chivalry, as a place where knights could openly display their prowess, courtoisie, and largesse. A knight’s relationship with ladies was also crucial to measuring his chivalrousness. Despite the importance of both within chivalric knighthood, little has been done to explore their interrelation. With romance literature being the most tangible source for understanding both the tournament and a lady’s role in it, this thesis explores the relationship between the two. I begin with a brief introductory history of the tournament, establishing its war-centric foundations and touching on its prohibitions. In Chapter Two, I construct the literary tournament by presenting its common descriptions in popular medieval literature, often comparing them with historical reality. I conclude my analysis focusing on the female presence within these literary tournaments, giving special attention to their roles in constructing a knight’s identity.