Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Bad good men at arms and a Good Duke

The phrase "good men-at-arms" was a military cliche in the Hundred Years War.  It identified the notional standard for well-equipped, capable cavalrymen.  Most of us would look at a man-at-arms and think, "knight."

As time went on, the adjective "good" merged with the rest of the phrase so that the "goodness" of the good man-at-arms was simply a matter of definition.  Some years back I noticed this while reading the chronicler Froissart, who had one of his characters scornfully tell their opponents, "You are not good good men-at-arms." I'll bet that stung!

So were there any bad good men-at-arms?

Well, if there were, they are probably in the book I just sent off to the publisher, Murder, Rape and Treason, volume 5 of the Deeds of Arms Series.  Like other books in this series,it combines a short history of one kind of "deed" with translated accounts of medieval examples; in this case, descriptions of some of the flashiest judicial combats,  in which one warrior accused another of a treacherous, secret crime and the other said the first lied.  Under some circumstances, this led to the two men fighting to death.

One of them had to be a bad liar, right?

Murder etc. being done, I get to move on to the Chronicle of the Good Duke, whom I have discussed before.  The question now is, if Louis of Bourbon was good, were his contemporaries bad?  He lived in the generation before the Maid (=Jeanne Darc) so maybe so, even though no one gets the label "bad."

Here's the Good Duke, coming to a book-seller near you, if  not immediately:

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