Medieval Europe was a rapidly developing society with a problem of violent disorder. Professor Kaeuper's original and authoritative study reveals that chivalry was just as much a part of this problem as it was its solution. Chivalry praised heroic violence by knights, and fused such displays of prowess with honour, piety, high-status, and attractiveness to women. Though the vast body of chivalric literature praised chivalry as necessary to civilization, most textsalso worried over knightly violence, criticized the ideals and practices of chivalry, and often proposed reforms. The knights themselves joined the debate, absorbing some reforms, ignoring others, sometimes proposing their own. The interaction of chivalry with major governing institutions ("church"and "state") emerging at that time was similarly complex: kings and clerics both needed and feared the force of the knighthood. This fascinating book lays bare these conflicts and paradoxes which surrounded the concept of chivalry in medieval Europe.