Pious Captains: Religion, Masculinity, and Combat in Sixteenth-Century France

Upcoming Events Login

Friday, February 22nd, 2019

Friday, February 22, 20193:00PM - 5:00PM108N, North House, Munk School of Global Affairs
1 Devonshire Place
M5S 3K7
+ Register for this Event Print this Event Bookmark this Event


The sixteenth century witnessed a proliferation of military texts written by French noblemen who were veterans of the Italian Wars and religious wars. In these texts, authors developed a new masculine standard through how they represented noblemen in combat. They abandoned the medieval trope of the knight and replaced it with that of the captain. Religious piety was an essential aspect of this change as the authors incorporated a renewed emphasis on crusade in their idealised representation of nobility. In the beginning of the period, authors’ religious ideals conflicted with political realities as they placed crusader imagery alongside gleeful descriptions of France waging war against Popes and allying with Protestants and Muslims against Catholics. These inherent contradictions did not resolve themselves until the latter half of the century when authors’ glorification of holy war dissipated as France plunged into its vicious cycle of religious conflict that shattered the social fabric of the nobility. The bloodshed between Frenchmen over religion meant that representations of noblemen as imagined crusaders ceased to be a favourable trope in military literature. Religious fanaticism was no longer glorified, and thus noblemen needed to present themselves as secular actors devoid of aggressive religious motivations. Authors continued to utilise the trope of the pious captain but without its original crusader rhetoric.

Benjamin (Benji) Lukas is a PhD candidate in the Department of History at the University of Toronto. His dissertation, “From Knights to Captains: The construction of nobility through masculinity and warfare in sixteenth-century France,” examines the changes in the representation of nobility in sixteen-century military literature. His research interests include the study of masculinity, warfare, religious conflict, and sexual violence.


Benjamin Lukas
University of Toronto

Main Sponsor

Centre for the Study of France and the Francophone World (CEFMF)


Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies

Glendon College

If you are attending a Munk School event and require accommodation(s), please email the event contact listed above to make appropriate arrangements.

Disclaimer: Please note that events posted on this website are considered to be public events – unless otherwise stated – and you are choosing to enter a space where your image and/or voice may be captured as part of event proceedings that may be made public as part of a broadcast, webcast, or publication (online and in print). We make every effort to ensure your personal information is kept and used in compliance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). If you have any questions please get in touch with our office at munkschool@utoronto.ca or 416-946-8900.

Latest Features

Upcoming Events

Check back soon for more events.

Newsletter Signup Sign up for the Munk School Newsletter

× Strict NO SPAM policy. We value your privacy, and will never share your contact info.