Research Paper II working draft - Balloga, 1 Abram Balloga...

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Balloga, 1 Abram Balloga LING 1109 Research Project II 4/22/2009 Nothingness of a Knight Without His Shield Today the “shield” is only a word spoken in metaphoric reference to its medieval ghost. For medieval English knights, a shield carried much more significance than just a stylishly decorated protective piece. The important physical necessities and symbolic attributes of this unique piece of armour continue in legacy beyond practicality into modern times. The 21 st century world preserves and honors these objects which our ancestors held closest to their hearts during their most dangerous encounters. So intimately was the shield associated with a finite and purposeful barrier of safety that it began to carry meaning with respect to other parts of our lives. However technological advancements in weaponry and tactics of war have made obsolete the most culturally significant definition of “shield” as it was in medieval times. This essay characterizes the evolution of the shields meaning with particular emphasis on the particular definition that is now extinct. After laying out these individual principles it becomes readily apparent that a modern shield equal in concept is very different from what it was in medieval Europe. Comparing these differences allows us to see more clearly the cultural differences between now and then. Our analysis includes a surprising re-allocation of the shields meaning in modernity, raising questions of love, war, and chivalry. In its historical knightly sense, deploying the shield was an immediate defensive reaction in protection of one’s life, family, and spirit, which quickly evolved to serve other practical purposes derived from the original. As the first and possibly last confrontational act posed to an enemy, this hand held guardian angel became well known as the primary obstacle between he and victory or defeat on the battlefield. Shields were the surest method of self preservation and
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Balloga, 2 thus instinctually presented between individuals in a suspicious world. It may be postulated that familiares came to recognize each other in encounters first by identifying marks (much as pigs are identified on a farm by the notches in their ears), inflicted intentionally or non, on the shields of their peers. Realizing this tendency, warriors individualized their shields both for reasons of communication and personal style, the latter concept visible in contemporary ideas of fashion, be it clothing or otherwise. These two priorities of shield decoration were carried forth with increasing vigor from the dark ages through the enlightenment Europe and beyond. Having established the historical reasons for the shields rise to the literal forefront of
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Research Paper II working draft - Balloga, 1 Abram Balloga...

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