Date of Thesis

Spring 2019


In this thesis, I have examined the notion of the gradual demise of chivalric ideals throughout the late-Middle Ages and culminating in the sixteenth century, analyzing how and why the developments of the sixteenth century both enabled and required the English monarchy and the aristocracy to redefine social identities and values, public responsibilities, political duties, and national and religious power. This thesis addresses why the Tudor monarchs appear to have disregarded the examples of chivalric behavior championed by late-medieval writers like Sir Thomas Malory and Jean Froissart, and instead, relied on new works of literature that were more relevant forms of guidance, and could serve as national propaganda. Unlike late-medieval monarchs such as Edward III or Henry V, who lived in accordance to the social doctrine of chivalry, the Tudor monarchs employed a new variant of chivalry that acted as nothing more than a façade to mask political ambitions and to enhance the image of royal authority and national power. This thesis examines how the transformations of religion, the evolving social identities, and responsibilities of the aristocracy and the monarchy, coupled with developments in European politics and warfare during the Tudor period, exposed the vulnerability and rigidity of late-medieval chivalry, enabled the Tudor monarchs to employ a façade of chivalry to suit the motives of England as a Renaissance state.


History, Medieval, the Tudors, Chivalry, literature, Shakespeare

Access Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Type

Bachelor of Arts



Second Major

Art History

Minor, Emphasis, or Concentration


First Advisor

James Goodale