The Golden Age of Chivalry in the Iron Age of Gunpowder
Part II, “Arms or the Man,” turns its sights to gunpowder technology in the long sixteenth century. This chapter tackles the almost desperate elision of that technology in two traditions: the popular romance (both as printed narrative and performed chivalric tournament); and the humanist tract, with its incapacity to relinquish classical combat. Nayar begins by delineating just how pervasive gunpowder warfare was in the period, in order to make patent the extent to which certain genres were censoring its presence and, hence, marking and defending a martial territory that had existed prior to that technology’s onslaught. This proves especially the case vis-à-vis the noble classes, which were straining to hold onto pre-gunpowder means of self-definition.