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What Ever Happen To Chivalry?

Updated on March 2, 2012

Chivalry: A Knights Protection

Chivalry by starduste
Chivalry by starduste

What Ever Happen To Chivalry?

The Age of Chivalry is commonly associated with the horse age. Knights clothed in pieces of elaborate armor and horses very well dressed are important props making up the term of chivalry, dated back to the 14th century. The French word chevalier is translated to mean, a man on horseback, traditionally a knight. Knights used horses not only for transportation but also for battle and jousting.

Riding on a horse is not however an example of chivalry. The term is specifically used for a good knight. Traditionally such a label was given for service and faithfulness to God, kindness to Christians, protection of the weak and of course, courtly love.

Courtly love has often been confused with adulterous love found in medieval stores like Lancelot and Guinevere or Isolde and Tristan. Adultery however, had little to do with chivalry or courtly love. Appreciation and gentleness towards a woman were aspects of chivalry as well as championship to a woman who happened to require rescue or defense and a whole proper code of behavior for correctly speaking to a woman. When chivalry was involved in courtly love it often hinted the beginning of romantic love but not all flirtations or romances went much further than that.

How To Be Chivalrous

Her Champion

Men and women could play at courtly love since marriage was an obligation entered into with contract, true love was often not involved. Elaborate praise and gentle behavior often satisfied a woman's desire to be appreciated and admired, things that were rarely ever obtainable through her husband.

Additionally, a young knight often acted as a champion for a female involved with an older husband who may not be well enough or strong enough to be involved in jousting tournaments and bear her colors. This part of chivalry was to offer the woman the attention she deserved, not to gain her sexually.

Every aspect of chivalry was guided by the knight acting honorable. Personal worth was often measured by chivalry and went beyond only being chivalrous when people were around to bear witness to it. Chivalry guided a knight's decisions in all aspects of his life, even when he was all alone and it gave him the chance to act to save his soul as well as for the salvation of those around him.

Chivalry: A Knight And His Lady

Medieval romance - aw! By ElaineMacintyre
Medieval romance - aw! By ElaineMacintyre

History Of Chivalry

Knights were trained in fighting with armor, lances, shields, swords, and horse. They were taught to be courageous, gallant, loyal, and greatly excel in arms.

Chivalric knights usually resided in fortified houses or castles, when they were not busy fighting however, there were some knights that lived in courts of dukes, lords and even kings. They could use their acquired skills not only in war but also in tournament and the hunt.

Christianity played a part on the virtues involving chivalry. There were many limits placed on knights to honor and protect any weak members of society and help the church to maintain peace. During this time, the church was more tolerant of war used to defend faith. The religious chivalry concepts became much more elaborate during the Crusades era.

The knights and nobility relationship varied based on religion. Being dubbed a knight in France also bestowed noble status. However, in countries like Germany and England, nobility and knights were two very distinctive different classes.

Wealthy merchants in the Middle Ages aimed to adopt chivalric attitudes and some were even educated in knightly manners at aristocratic courts. This lead to the courtesy book, a new guide to the proper behavior of a true gentleman. This resulted in the post-medieval code for man's honor, concern for the less fortunate and respect for women.

The Knights Code Of Chivalry

Courtly Love

This was a medieval European meaning of chivalrously and nobly expressing admiration and love. It was generally a secret among the nobility and was not practiced between a husband and his wife. In actuality, it was an experience between spiritual attainment and erotic desire. However, its origins, interpretations, and influences are still a matter of debate.

The analysis of this form of chivalry varies between historians and schools. Courtly love is often cherished for its recognition of femininity as a spiritual and moral force to contrast the ironclad chauvinism that was so commonly found before.

It is also suggested that because of arranged marriages, there was a much needed outlet to express a personal occurrence of actual romantic love.


Chivalry By SunriseSongbird
Chivalry By SunriseSongbird

Courtly And Beyond

Courtly love was not purely platonic, as most was erotic to a point. Many scholars actually identify courtly love as being the purest form of love. Many knights even wore the colors of his lady and the etiquette involved in courtly love often became complicated.

There were many stages of courtly love, usually beginning with a shared glance and attraction which lead to the knight worshiping from afar. Soon came a declaration of devotion and of course, virtuous rejection from the lady. Heroic deeds of valor were performed which eventually won the lady's heart and often lead to a secret love, adventure and constant avoidance of detection.

In modern sense, chivalry is a general term applied to courtesy that a man may pay a lady, such as offering a woman his seat, opening a door or carrying her bags. These small actions help to keep the knight's code of behavior living on from the Middle Ages.


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    • tlmcgaa70 profile image

      tlmcgaa70 6 years ago from south dakota, usa

      Great Hub. it really is to bad that what is the core or heart of chivalry...honor and integrity, is slipping away more with each generation. i dont know anyone, personally, except myself and my mother, who mean it when they give their word on something. i really enjoyed reading this, thanks for sharingit. voted up, useful and interesting.