Cox, Darrin Books

Dr. Darrin Cox earned his Ph.D. in Late Medieval/Early Modern History from Purdue University in 2008. He is currently an Assistant Professor of History at West Liberty University where he continues his research into masculinity, Viking history, and material culture.

Aristocratic Masculinity in France (1450-1550): From Knight to Courtier
2012 0-7734-2927-1
This book looks at how masculinity is depicted in knightly memoirs in 15th century France. The meaning of male and female sexuality was constructed on a hierarchical scale of one single gender, and not a binary opposition of two biologically distinct bodies. The author shows numerous examples of this trend in the knightly memoirs that support this understanding.

This project investigates how the French warrior aristocracy from the end of the Hundred Years War to the beginning of the French Wars of Religion (roughly 1450 to 1550) adopted, resisted, or integrated new perceptions of masculinity, brought on by the rising social and political influence of the rival masculinity of the courtier, with their warrior heritage. During these years the French knightly elite came under increasing ridicule from critics who eschewed the gruff demeanor of soldiers and taught instead that education and bearing were more appropriate signs of privileged status rather than martial prowess.

Indeed, King Francis I (1515-1547), widely known to contemporaries and to historians as a patron of Renaissance thought, art, architecture, and manners, espoused courtliness and implicitly devalued traditional martial values. Yet this repudiation thinly concealed a paradox for it was precisely through violence that the king was able to maintain power and authority and knights were expected to use to defend their rights as men.

Thus, conceptions of masculinity during Francis’ reign were conflicted: the behavioral requirements of a knightly aristocrat were now simultaneously, if incongruously, violent and erudite, murderous yet courtly, masculine and feminine. By the end of the sixteenth century, it is evident that a gender crisis did not occur among noble warriors, since men who styled themselves knights merely adopted many of the outward forms of the courtier while retaining a right to violence as both a mark of nobility and signifier of manhood.