Cover image for Bloody good : chivalry, sacrifice, and the Great War
Bloody good : chivalry, sacrifice, and the Great War
Frantzen, Allen J., 1947-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Chicago : University of Chicago Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
xv, 335 pages, 14 unnumbered pages of color plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
Chivalry and sacrifice -- Violence and abjection -- The making of a knight: St. Edmund, virgin and martyr -- A chronicle of scales: chivalry and sacrifice -- Antisacrifice: the hidden cost of chivalry -- "Modest stillness and humility": the nineteenth century and the chivalry of duty -- "Teach them how to war": postcards, chivalry, and sacrifice -- "Greater love than this": Memorials of the Great War -- Circles of grief: chivalry and the heart of sacrifice.
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Item Holds
D523 .F722 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In the popular imagination, World War I stands for the horror of all wars. The unprecedented scale of the war and the mechanized weaponry it introduced to battle brought an abrupt end to the romantic idea that soldiers were somehow knights in shining armor who always vanquished their foes and saved the day. Yet the concept of chivalry still played a crucial role in how soldiers saw themselves in the conflict.

Here for the first time, Allen J. Frantzen traces these chivalric ideals from the Great War back to their origins in the Middle Ages and shows how they resulted in highly influential models of behavior for men in combat. Drawing on a wide selection of literature and images from the medieval period, along with photographs, memorials, postcards, war posters, and film from both sides of the front, Frantzen shows how such media shaped a chivalric ideal of male sacrifice based on the Passion of Jesus Christ. He demonstrates, for instance, how the wounded body of Christ became the inspiration for heroic male suffering in battle. For some men, the Crucifixion inspired a culture of revenge, one in which Christ's bleeding wounds were venerated as badges of valor and honor. For others, Christ's sacrifice inspired action more in line with his teachings--a daring stay of hands or reason not to visit death upon one's enemies.

Lavishly illustrated and eloquently written, Bloody Good will be must reading for anyone interested in World War I and the influence of Christian ideas on modern life.

Author Notes

Allen J. Frantzen is a professor of English at Loyola University Chicago. He is the author of Before the Closet: Same-Sex Love from "Beowulf" to "Angels in America ."

Reviews 1

Choice Review

In this fascinating work, Frantzen (English, Loyola Univ.) analyzes the links between the medieval concept of chivalry and the symbolism surrounding WW I. Providing numerous examples, he demonstrates that the idea of the soldier as noble knight endured even in the face of the carnage of the trenches. Popular images of the soldier continued to depict him as engaged in a noble cause, willing to sacrifice his life to preserve Christian civilization. This can be seen not only in propaganda posters and postcards from the years 1914-18, but even more so in the memorials constructed to commemorate those who died in battle. Arguably, the two most important images used to link soldiers, especially those killed in battle, with the medieval past were the crucified Christ laying down his life for others and the victorious St. George slaying the dragon. In this extensively researched book, which provides copious examples from all of the major participants in the war, Frantzen reminds readers of how much 20th-century Europeans had in common with their preindustrial ancestors. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. R. W. Lemmons Jacksonville State University

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Introduction: Bloody Good 1
Part 1 Chivalry and Sacrifice in the Middle Ages
Chapter 1 Chivalry and Sacrifice
Chapter 2 Violence and Abjection
Chapter 3 The Making of a Knight: St. Edmund, Virgin and Martyr
Chapter 4 Chivalry and Sacrifice: A Chronicle of Scales
Chapter 5 Antisacrifice: The Hidden Cost of Chivalry
Part 2 Chivalry and the Great War
Chapter 6 "Modest stillness and humility": The Nineteenth Century and the Chivalry of Duty
Chapter 7 "Teach them how to war": Postcards, Chivalry, and Sacrifice
Chapter 8 "Greater love than this": Memorials of the Great War
Chapter 9 Circles of Grief: Chivalry and the Heart of Sacrifice