The Service of Ladies: An Autobiography (First Person Singular)
Ulrich von Liechtenstein's extraordinary account of his adventures as a knight-errant is one of the most vivid images of chivalric life to have come down to us. His knightly autobiography was written in the mid-thirteenth century, and gives an account of the "journey of Venus" which he undertook in 1226 in honour of his lady, in which he claimed to have broken 307 spears in jousts against all comers in the space of a month. Some of it is obviously quietly exaggerated, written for his friends' entertainment many years later, and he is not above a sly dig at the conventions of courtly love, but he completely accepts its basic ideas. It is full of lively episodes and good stories, as well as verses in honour of his lady; if the tale has been polished up for effect, it is nonetheless a thoroughly entertaining account of how a knight saw his ideal career in the jousting field. If the name is unexpectedly familiar to modern readers, it is because it was borrowed by the hero of the film A Knight's Tale; Ulrich would have certainly approved of his exploits. Introduction by KELLY DEVRIES.
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