The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640

The aim of the site is to make available to scholars, researchers, local historians and genealogists the records of the Court of Chivalry during its heyday between 1634 and 1640. Over this period the court dealt with well over a thousand cases of which it has been possible to recover details of 738. These cover a wide variety of topics relating to the social, political and cultural history of the period, from ship money and the Bishops’ Wars to pew disputes and duelling, from heralds visitations and grants of arms to brawls in the street and quarrels at race meetings. The majority of cases relate to defamation and slanderous words against gentlemen or noblemen, and they provide a rich source for the contemporary vocabulary of insult. But they also offer insights into gender relations, processes of litigation and dispute settlement, and contemporary understandings of what it meant to be a gentleman, as well as a wealth of biographical detail on plaintiffs, defendants and witnesses.

The court’s records for this period have been reconstructed on a case by case basis from the archives at the College of Arms and Arundel Castle. Each case begins with an abstract summarising the main details, followed by a calendar of all the surviving documents, either summarising these or, where they are of particular interest, transcribing them in full. The aim is to provide a calendar which is sufficiently full to satisfy the needs of most researchers. The search facilities make it possible to investigate the case material by name, place or county, and subject.