The fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans in 1453 inspired a reawakening of interest in crusading narratives describing the events and success of the First Crusade. This essay focuses on one example: William Caxton’s life of Godfrey of Bouillon, a Middle English translation of the Eracles, which was itself a French translation of William of Tyre’s Latin chronicle. Caxton published this work in 1481, dedicating it to Edward IV and his two sons, in the hope that they would organise an armed response to the Ottoman threat. This analysis of Caxton’s account of Godfrey focuses on its socio-cultural function, examining what it can tell us about contemporary perceptions of the interrelationship between ideals of masculinity, chivalry, and kingship. The significance of physical prowess being identified as Godfrey’s signature trait is highlighted in particular. Moreover, Caxton used his translation of Eracles (among other works) as a vehicle for promulgating exemplary chivalric conduct, which he believed was lacking in contemporary high-status youths. He claimed that this entailed potentially disastrous results for England’s standing and security as a nation. Thus, in addition to encouraging Edward to go on crusade, he also offered Godfrey’s model as an antidote to this failing of national manhood.
|Title of host publication
|Crusading and Masculinities
|Natasha Hodgson, Matthew Mesley, Katherine Lewis
|Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group
|Number of pages
|Published - 14 Mar 2019
|Crusades - Subsidia