W L Knightly Biography & Facts
Chivalry, or the chivalric code, is an informal and varying code of conduct developed between 1170 and 1220. It was associated with the medieval Christian institution of knighthood; knights' and gentlemen's behaviours were governed by chivalrous social codes. The ideals of chivalry were popularized in medieval literature, particularly the literary cycles known as the Matter of France, relating to the legendary companions of Charlemagne and his men-at-arms, the paladins, and the Matter of Britain, informed by Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae, written in the 1130s, which popularized the legend of King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table. All of these were taken as historically accurate until the beginnings of modern scholarship in the 19th century.
The code of chivalry that developed in medieval Europe had its roots in earlier centuries. It arose in the Carolingian Empire from the idealisation of the cavalryman—involving military bravery, individual training, and service to others—especially in Francia, among horse soldiers in Charlemagne's cavalry. The term "chivalry" derives from the Old French term chevalerie, which can be translated as "horse soldiery". Originally, the term referred only to horse-mounted men, from the French word for horse, cheval, but later it became associated with knightly ideals.Over time, its meaning in Europe has been refined to emphasize more general social and moral virtues. The code of chivalry, as it stood by the Late Middle Ages, was a moral system which combined a warrior ethos, knightly piety, and courtly manners, all combining to establish a notion of honour and nobility.
Terminology and definitions
In origin, the term chivalry means "horsemanship", formed in Old French, in the 11th century, from chevalerie (horsemen, knights), itself from the Medieval Latin caballarii, the nominative plural form of the term caballārius. The French word chevalier originally meant "a man of aristocratic standing, and probably of noble ancestry, who is capable, if called upon, of equipping himself with a war horse and the arms of heavy cavalryman and who has been through certain rituals that make him what he is". Therefore, during the Middle Ages, the plural chevalerie (transformed in English into the word "chivalry") originally denoted the body of heavy cavalry upon formation in the field. In English, the term appears from 1292 (note that cavalry is from the Italian form of the same word).The meaning of the term evolved over time into a broader sense, because in the Middle Ages the meaning of chevalier changed from the original concrete military meaning "status or fee associated with a military follower owning a war horse" or "a group of mounted knights" to the ideal of the Christian warrior ethos propagated in the romance genre, which was becoming popular during the 12th century, and the ideal of courtly love propagated in the contemporary Minnesang and related genres.The ideas of chivalry are summarized in three medieval works: the anonymous poem Ordene de chevalerie, which tells the story of how Hugh II of Tiberias was captured and released upon his agreement to show Saladin (1138–1193) the ritual of Christian knighthood; the Libre del ordre de cavayleria, written by Ramon Llull (1232–1315), from Majorca, whose subject is knighthood; and the Livre de Chevalerie of Geoffroi de Charny (1300–1356), which examines the qualities of knighthood, emphasizing prowess. None of the authors of these three texts knew the other two texts, and the three combine to depict a general concept of chivalry which is not precisely in harmony with any of them. To different degrees and with different details, they speak of chivalry as a way of life in which the military, the nobility, and religion combine.The "code of chivalry" is thus a product of the Late Middle Ages, evolving after the end of the crusades partly from an idealization of the historical knights fighting in the Holy Land and from ideals of courtly love.
10 Commandments of Chivalry
Historian Léon Gautier compiled the medieval Ten Commandments of chivalry in 1891:
Thou shalt believe all that the Church teaches and thou shalt observe all its directions.
Thou shalt defend the Church.
Thou shalt respect all weaknesses, and shalt constitute thyself the defender of them.
Thou shalt love the country in which thou wast born.
Thou shalt not recoil before thine enemy.
Thou shalt make war against the infidel without cessation and without mercy.
Thou shalt perform scrupulously thy feudal duties, if they be not contrary to the laws of God.
Thou shalt never lie, and shalt remain faithful to thy pledged word.
Thou shalt be generous, and give largesse to everyone.
Thou shalt be everywhere and always the champion of the Right and the Good against Injustice and Evil.Literary chivalry and historical reality
Supporters of chivalry have assumed since the late medieval period that there was a time in the past when chivalry was a living institution, when men acted chivalrically, when chivalry was alive and not dead, the imitation of which period would much improve the present.
With the birth of modern historical and literary research, scholars have found that however far back in time "The Age of Chivalry" is searched for, it is always further in the past, even back to the Roman Empire. From Jean Charles Léonard de Sismondi:
We must not confound chivalry with the feudal system. The feudal system may be called the real life of the period of which we are treating, possessing its advantages and inconveniences, its virtues and its vices. Chivalry, on the contrary, is the ideal world, such as it existed in the imaginations of the romance writers. Its essential character is devotion to woman and to honour.: I, 76–77
Sismondi alludes to the fictitious Arthurian romances about the imaginary Court of King Arthur, which were usually taken as factual presentations of a historical age of chivalry. He continues:
The more closely we look into history, the more clearly shall we perceive that the system of chivalry is an invention almost entirely poetical. It is impossible to distinguish the countries in which it is said to have prevailed. It is always represented as distant from us both in time and place, and whilst the contemporary historians give us a clear, detailed, and complete account of the vices of the court and the great, of the ferocity or corruption of the nobles, and of the servility of the people, we are astonished to find the poets, after a long lapse of time, adorning the very same ages with the most splendid fictions of grace, virtue, and loyalty. The romance writers of the twelfth century placed the age of chivalry in the time of Charlemagne. The period when these writers existed, is the time pointed out by Francis I. At the present day [about 1810], we imagine we can still see chivalry flourishing in the persons of Du Guesclin and Bayard, under Charles V and Francis I. But wh.... Discover the W L Knightly popular books. Find the top 100 most popular W L Knightly books.