Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Good Knight, and Dangerous

A short while ago I was writing about Robert E. Lee. I don't remember whether or not I posted that writing, but i do know that it got me thinking about chivalry. Lee lived through the time of what might be called a romantic revival of chivalry. After the fall of the South chivalry was still a racial and cultural memory and a literary heritage. Good men continued to practice courage, loyalty, courtesy, and expendability.

In order to understand chivalry it is helpful to understand feudalism. I'm not going to spend time on feudalism now, but will say that it it is a political and economic system which was practiced in Europe, especially Spain and France, from the 9th century to the 15th century.To last for over 500 years in western Europe it had to be a fairly effective system. The Southern plantation system in the first 250 or so years or so of North American settlement could well be called feudalistic.

The cowboy, the mounted man of the range bore, if not swore, 'allegiance to the brand' much as a knight gave allegiances to his liege. The great early cattle ranches were very like feudal estates.

I'll try to remember to continue this later.

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