Saturday, June 06, 2009

Chivalry Continued from: "A Good Knight"

You have some memory of what a knight was. He was a mounted warrior. The knight was central to chivalry. Chivalry was a glorious practice, but it was also the way the ruling class controlled the mounted warrior during the time of his greatest power. Knighthood was also a way of entering the ruling class or a way for an impoverished nobleman to regain some wealth. Within chivalry can still be found some worthy ideas about how to treat a fighting man, mounted or not.

"Chivalry" is related to cavalry, caballus, chiv, cavalier. Etymologically chivalry is the practice of horsemanship. It comes to English from the Old French 'chivalerie' and medieval Latin 'caballarius.'

Chivalry was practiced in Europe from about AD 800 to about AD 1600. The high days of chivalry were from about AD 1100 to about perhaps 1400. The word 'chivalry' may not have been used until about AD 1300. Modern chivalry began about AD 800 but many of the practice of the principles may go back 10s of thousands of years. Just to take a baby step back, consider King Arthur and Camelot. The knights who sat at The Round Table were certainly Chivalrous. The time of Arthur dates from around AD 450. Also chivalry, by other names, was practice in the east for centuries.

Chivalry, the principal practices of a cavalier or knight, included in more or less this order of importance:
~ horsemanship
~ military skill
~ loyalty
~ courage, valor
Other attributes of a chivalrous man were thought to include in more or less the following order:
~ honor
~ generosity
~ courtesy
~ piety
~ respect for women
~ knowledge of courtly love, dance, and poetry
~ chastity

Although knightly chivalry was a way to have a powerful warrior give obedient loyalty to his god, his sovereign, and to his lady, who may well have been his lords lady. A man today, consciously or unconsciously understands that he is to risk his life for women and children, and perhaps for god and country. His life is expendable for cause.
Still the other principles of chivalry mentioned above have long been honored and a man who is courteous, generous, courageous, loyal, and practices a courtly art or two is considered a pretty good man.

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