Shame and Honor: A Vulgar History of the Order of the Garter
Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012. Pp. viii, 322. $55.00. ISBN-13: 9780812243918.
Reviewed in The Medieval Review: TMR 13.03.21
Since at least Congenial Souls (2002), Stephanie Trigg has demonstrated a serious interest in the reception of the medieval across the centuries in both academic and popular culture, an interest that in this work addresses the Order of the Garter, which, she claims, can “reshape our understanding of both the Middle Ages and modernity” (29). Eschewing the view from nowhere, Trigg situates herself among Garter historians as a medievalist interested in medievalism, of which the Order’s history is an outstanding and unique example. Her historiographical method is “vulgar,” in that her coverage is “neither continuous nor comprehensive” (15) and in its fascination with how the Order, with its fantastic plumage and base origins, “threatens to seem laughable” (7). Those humble beginnings lie in the putative story of the dropped garter, the confusion of the undone lady (possibly the Countess of Salisbury), the titters of courtiers, and King Edward III’s shaming of the shamers with the now- famous declaration: “honi soit qui mal y pense” (shame on whoever thinks badly of it). …
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