University of Rochester

History Professor Awarded Research Fellowship

June 29, 1999

Richard Kaeuper, professor of history at the University of Rochester, has been named the R. Stanton Avery Distinguished Fellow at the Huntington Library and will spend the 1999-2000 academic year doing research at the institution.

The Huntington Library, located in San Marino, Calif., is one of the major private research libraries in the country and is known for the depth of its collections in American and British history, literature, and art history. The fellowship was first awarded in 1992 and is named for the former head of the Huntington's board of trustees.

Kaeuper will study how knights used religion in forming and legitimizing their code of conduct. The topic grew out of earlier research for his edition of The Book of Chivalry of Geoffroi de Charny: Text, Context, and Translation. Charny, a 14th century French knight, wrote about chivalry as a Christian way of life. Kaeuper found, however, that though he was extremely pious, Charny was also extremely violent.

In fact, chivalry legitimized and glorified certain violent acts to establish order, says Kaeuper, and exhibited religious overtones as knights credited God for their strength in fighting and ecclesiastics condoned violence used to attain just causes. Last year Kaeuper hosted an international conference, "Violence in Medieval Society," at the University, and has a book coming out this fall, Chivalry and Violence in Medieval Europe.

As part of his fellowship, Kaeuper will give a public lecture at the end of the academic year. He also has been invited to be the keynote speaker at a conference on "Law and the State" at Exeter University in England next spring. In addition, he received the Student Association's Award for Undergraduate Teaching Excellence in Social Sciences this year.