Single Combat and Warfare in German Literature of the High Middle Ages

Rachel E. Kellett
28 July 2008
285 pp
Hardback: 978-1-905981-48-9

Combat is one of the central themes of Middle High German narrative literature, and of significant interest to medievalists in general. Nevertheless, few studies to date have attempted a detailed analysis of the depiction of combat in literary texts.
Kellett uses an inclusive approach to the details of combat descriptions in order to analyse minutely the scenes of single combat and battle presented in two major narrative works by Der Stricker, the epic Karl der Große and the Arthurian romance Daniel von dem Blühenden Tal, written between 1220 and 1250. The author compares these works with a wide range of other texts, both French and German, and investigates the relationship between Stricker’s depiction of combat and that found in the works of Hartmann von Aue and Wolfram von Eschenbach among others. She also draws on historical research into medieval warfare, tournament and the tradition of the judicial combat, which adds valuable depth to her analysis of literary texts.
Overall, this study provides new insights into the depiction of combat in Middle High German literature as a whole, while at the same time highlighting hitherto unnoticed aspects of the writings of Der Stricker as an individual author, and bringing a new perspective on the ambiguous role played by combat in the equally ambiguous Daniel von dem Blühenden Tal.