Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A second question on war from Charny

I'm posting for fun and comment questions posed by the French knight Geoffroi de Charny in the early 1350s, for the consideration of his peers. For more background see this earlier post, or my book, Jousts and Tournaments (sidebar on this blog).

Here is "question on war":

87. Charny asks:

Fifty knights have taken it upon themselves to fight against a hundred on a certain named day; and the day of the battle comes. The fifty defeat the hundred and many deeds of arms are done by either party. Which would you prefer: to be considered the best knight of the hundred or the worst of the fifty in respect of this day?

Riddle me that!


Blogger Will McLean said...

This is a topic that I have often raised when doing first person medieval recreation. It makes excellent fodder for debate in that sort of setting.

From what I know of deeds of arms, I think it is almost certain that the best knight of the 100 was more brave, valiant and skillfull than the worst of the fifty. However, the worst of the fifty will almost certainly have more fame and renown, not to mention chance of gain from the spoil of the battle. So the question comes down to whether it is better to be or to seem to be.

This question seems similar in that way to another: would you rather have a wife who was faithful, but who all others believed to be unfaithful, or would you rather have the reverse?

Or like the question in the Wife of Bath's tale: would you rather have a wife who was beautiful by day but hideous at night, or the reverse?

9:41 PM  
Blogger alice said...

If I am understanding our class correctly I would rather be the best Knight of the hundred. At least from my understanding it is not dishonorable to lose if you do it well. I would think that it was more of a dishonor to receive undue praise being the worst of the fifty.

7:02 AM  
Blogger Steve Muhlberger said...

From Ken Mondschein:

For the second: I would rather be the most valiant of the losing side, since it is better to be the best out of 100 than the least of 50. In war, fortune does not always favor the strong, and to fight a losing battle is no shame.

2:36 PM  
Blogger Steve Muhlberger said...

Someone else once told me in reference to this:

"I wouldn't want to be known as the worst of anything."

2:37 PM  
Blogger Will McLean said...

I could live with being the worst of the Nine Worthies....

10:15 AM  

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