Bloody Constraint: War and Chivalry in Shakespeare

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Chivalry, one of Shakespeare's central themes, retains its pertinence and topicality in our rules for international humanitarian law and the conduct of war. Against a background of Medieval and Renaissance sour ces as well as Shakespeare's historical and dramatic realms, Professor Meron considers the ways in which law, chivalry, morality, conscience , and state necessity are deployed in Shakespeare to promote a society in which soldiers behave humanely and leaders are held to high standa rds of civilized behavior. In doing so, he illustrates the literary ge nealogy of such contemporary international humanitarian concerns as th e treatment of prisoners and of women and accountability for war crime s.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Meron, a scholar of international law who has published books on human rights and international law as well as Henry's Wars and Shakespeare's Laws Oxford Univ., 1994, explores the broader significance of chivalry and the literary origins of modern humanitarian concerns like the Hague and Geneva Conventions. Meron uses Shakespeare's plays to illustrate 16th-century attitudes toward war, the treatment of women and prisoners, and the necessity of just war, arguing that the chivalric code moderated the behavior of the combatants. Meron's language is clear and accessible, and he provides background information that places his ideas in context. Organization of the text is loose; chapters function as essays examining one idea related to the central theme. A useful supplement to larger public and academic libraries with Shakespeare and military history collections.--Shana C. Fair, Ohio Univ. Lib., Zanesville
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195123838
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 12/28/1998
  • Pages: 256
  • Lexile: 1480L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Theodor Meron is a prominent scholar of international law. He is also the author of Henry's Wars and Shakespeare's Laws (OUP, 1994), among many other books.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 3
1 Chivalry's Legacy 11
2 War and Peace 16
3 A Pagan Knight?: Shakespeare's Ancient Wars 47
4 The Homeric Wars through Shakespeare 63
5 The Brave or the Wise?: Two Conflicting Conceptions of Chivalric Honour 97
6 Chivalry as a Normative Ideal 108
7 Debunking Chivalry's Myth: Commoners, Fools, and Cynics 119
8 Principle under Stress 132
9 Crimes and Accountability 150
Epilogue 203
Index 231
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