Our popular understanding of the Middle Ages—with visions of damsels in distress and knights in shining armor—is dominated by the romantic ideals associated with chivalry.

Chivalry first developed as a code of honor that emphasized bravery, loyalty, and generosity for knights at war in the 11th and 12th centuries. By the later Middle Ages illuminated manuscripts had helped establish chivalry as a system of values that permeated almost every aspect of aristocratic culture.

This exhibition, which is drawn from the Museum's permanent collection, traces chivalry through its many manifestations—from courtship to hunting to jousting to war. With lavish illustrations celebrating the visual splendor of elite life, these manuscripts played a central role in promoting the tenets of chivalry, many of which have shaped the values of our own culture.

This exhibition is presented in two parts. The pages of the manuscripts will be turned to reveal further treasures on September 22, 2014.