Caxton’s translation of “The Book of the Knight in the Towers” was completed and published on 1st June 1483. The Book of the Knight in the Towers was authored initially by Geoffrey IV de la Tour Landry in the 14th century. It was one of the first books to be printed in England.
Geoffrey was a noble from Anjou who fought in the Hundred Years Wars and frequented court. Caxton’s translation, which states that he completed the work on 1st June 1483, is important because it is one of the earliest books printed using his press.
The Book of the Knight in the Towers
It is also a significant choice of book as its focus is the correct etiquette for young ladies who are visiting the court and warnings about the ease at which courtiers may manipulate young ladies and bring a noble house into disrepute. The book was written originally as a guide for Landry’s own daughter’s, so was in effect a guide for their wellbeing when visiting court.
It is an intriguing book on the period’s courtly lifestyle and acts in a sense as a feminine version of a chivalric guide.
Landry’s original work had been penned in the early 1370s. So whilst it is medieval, society changed between its actual authoring and printing by Caxton. The Hundred Years War, Wars of the Roses, economic depression and diplomatic shifts meant that life at court in the 1480s was possibly quite different from the 1370s: the nature of service to the crown had started to change, for example.