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Chivalry Essay Research Paper Chivalry as defined

Chivalry Essay, Research Paper Chivalry, as defined by Encyclopedia Americana is a system of values and ideals of conduct held by knights in medieval Europe. In its institutional form, chivalry was an informal, international order to which many, but not all, of the ruling class (nobility) belonged. The word is derived from the Latin caballus (horse) through the French chevalier ( horseman or knight).

Chivalry Essay, Research Paper

Chivalry, as defined by Encyclopedia Americana is a system of values and ideals of conduct held by knights in medieval Europe. In its institutional form, chivalry was an informal, international order to which many, but not all, of the ruling class (nobility) belonged. The word is derived from the Latin caballus (horse) through the French chevalier ( horseman or knight).

Chivalry was born from Feudalism in the late middle ages introducing a new, feminine point of view stressing virtue and ethics. It was a time of renewal and need. There were new towns and cities of trade everywhere, thus creating the need to travel. However, in order to travel there must be someone left behind to tend to the work that must be done. From this a Feudal Court was developed. The Feudal Lords (landowners or people of nobility), who later were granted Knighthood, split their land between vassals who pledged their allegiance to said lord. The land was not theirs to own, but theirs to tend and feed their family as well as the family of the presiding lord. Food provisions were not the only things pledged to these lords. They were also given an annual sum of money as well as additional funds should they be needed. Women played a large role during this time. Often, they were left to run the household and make decisions pertaining to domestic matters of the manor while the men were away. This brought etiquette and rules of conduct to society. Chivalry grew during the time of the Crusades. The Crusades were holy expeditions by Christian Knights to regain ownership of holy places under Muslim control. Most knights genuinely believed in the religious aspect of these Crusades while some viewed them merely as a means of financial gain and power. During this time Courtly Love was also established, setting standards for courtship. A knight was to be devoted to a lady, usually married or betrothed, and did everything in his power to gain her favor.

One of the most influential women of medieval times was Eleanor of Aquitane. She greatly contributed to the growth of Chivalry and Courtly Love. She was married several times, first to King Louis VII of France and then to King Henry II of England. Her travels allowed her to be influential to both countries. Even before her marriages she owned great amounts of land, making her very powerful. This was a rarity for a woman in her time and she was not afraid to use her power to gain advantage. She at one time accompanied her first husband, Louis VII, on his second Crusade contrary to what the church (ruling government at the time) said. Poets received encouragement from Eleanor to write poems and sonnets from a womans point of view, this was also unheard of before the late Middle Ages. During her marriages, there were rumors of affairs had by the Great Queen . Along with her plans to lead her sons in a rebellion against their father, these rumors were enough to cause Henry II to lock Eleanor away as a punishment until the time of his death. During the reign of her son King Richard, Eleanor started the Courts of Love which contributed to giving women a higher standing in society. The Courts of Love were a gathering of enthusiastic young women who debated and ridiculed the ideals of love presented to them by poets and knights of the court. Throughout her life Eleanor was committed to furthering the ideals and standards of Chivalry and Courtly love. She died at the age of eighty after spending a few years at Fontevrault, an abbey where she chose to rest several times during the course of her life.

The origins of the code of chivalry came from the laws of feudalism. The knights were expected to fight bravely and be loyal to their lords. Bravery and loyalty became the vanguard of the code of chivalry. The strong influence of Christianity and courtly love expanded this code to include religious devotion and refined social graces. Chivalry began to soften the harsh edges of feudal warfare and knights were expected to treat their fellow knights and inferiors with respect and good will. The new code, which was established in the eleventh century, during the Crusades, prohibited knights from attacking the unarmed, and stressed that the good knight fought for glory and Christian purposes instead of mere profit and gain. Following, are the ten commandments (Gautier 9) of chivalry as stated by Leon Gautier in his book La Chevalerie:

I. Thou shalt believe all that the Church teaches, and shalt observe all its directions.

II. Thou shalt defend the Church.

III. Thou shalt respect all weaknesses, and shalt constitute thyself the defender of them.

IV. Thou shalt love the country in the which thou wast born.

V. Thou shalt not recoil before thine enemy.

VI. Thou shalt make war against the Infidel without cessation, and without mercy.

VII. Thou shalt perform scrupulously thy feudal duties, if they be not contrary to the laws of God.

VIII. Thou shalt never lie, and shall remain faithful to thy pledged word.

IX. Thou shalt be generous, and give largess to everyone.

X. Thou shalt be everywhere and always the champion of the Right and the Good against Injustice and Evil. (10)

The early Middle Ages were chaotic times in European history. However, the age of chivalry brought a period of renewed stability to the continent. During this peaceful time the church tried to curb the warlike nature of feudalism by adopting programs know as the Peace of God and the Truce of God. The Peace of God made it forbidden for knights to attack peasants, women, priests and merchants. While the Truce of God prohibited battle on Sundays and holy days. Although the Church lacked the power to enforce these rules, they displayed a set of new values emerging in contrast to the brutal warfare that had been part of living in feudal Europe in the ninth and tenth centuries.

Another major influence on the evolution of chivalry was courtly love. It defined the relationships between knights and ladies of the court and was a written code of rules that outlined the proper behavior of relationship between aristocratic lovers in Western Europe during the Middle Ages. There are twelve chief rules of courtly love, as stated by Andreas Capellanus in De Arte Honeste Amandi:

I. Thou shalt avoid avarice like the deadly pestilence and shalt embrace its opposite.

II. Thou shalt keep thyself chaste for the sake of her whom thou lovest.

III. Thou shalt not knowingly strive to break up a correct love affair that someone else is engaged in.

IV. Thou shalt not choose for thy love anyone whom a natural sense of shame forbids thee to marry.

V. Be mindful completely to avoid falsehood.

VI. Thou shalt not have many who know of thy love affair.

VII. Being obedient in all things to the commands of ladies, thou shalt ever strive to ally thyself to the service of Love.

VIII. In giving and receiving love’s solaces let modesty be ever present.

IX. Thou shalt speak no evil.

X. Thou shalt not reveal love affairs.

XI. Thou shalt be in all things polite and courteous.

XII. In practising the solaces of love, thou shalt not exceed the desires of thy lover .(qtd. in Barber 136)

In addition to the twelve, there is another set of thirty-one rules for engaging in the Art of Courtly Love (qtd. in Barber 133). According to these conventions, a knight, in love with a married woman, who was of the same station or higher, had to prove his devotion to her through heroic deeds and anonymous writings of his love for her. Once the lovers had consummated their passions, complete secrecy had to be maintained. Since most noble marriages in the Middle Ages were mainly business contracts, courtly love was a form of permitted adultery. It was allowed because it did not threaten the marriage contract or the religious bond of marriage. In fact it was considered more sinful to be unfaithful to your lover than to your marriage partner.

During medieval times the term knight referred to a mounted warrior of secondary rank. This new class was formed to provide a means of advancement for men who were not born into a noble family and was probably developed with the barbarian tribes of northern Europe. The term knight was derived from the old English cinht , meaning youth. Most knights began their training as young boys at the age of about seven under the service of an overlord. At the age of fifteen or sixteen they were raised in rank to a squire and began training in knighthood. They learned the use of arms and horsemanship. They also engaged in endless physical activities such as swimming and wrestling. When and if their overlord considered them worthy, the knights would receive their accolade, which usually consisted of a tap on the shoulder with a sword. This ceremony proclaimed them a knight, and they usually would gain the title of sir. As feudalism developed, the rank of a knight became a land holding rank. In return for land, the knights were expected to serve in the military for their overlord.

The principal weapons used by knights were the lance and sword. Because knights battled against each other, they needed to have sturdy outfits for protection. For years, knights wore some type of body armor, in the early days it was just quilted leather or cloth. Later, knights began to wear mail , a mesh made of metal, and it soon became commonplace. With this suit of armor the knight usually carried a shield, which also served as a stretcher to carry them off the field if they were wounded in battle. Later, in the fourteenth century armor with deflecting surfaces became necessary to protect against the crossbow. Metal plates were fastened to the mail uniforms over the chest and back, shoulders, and the outside of the arms and legs. Since armor usually hid the faces of knights it was necessary to engrave them with identifying insignia to prevent them from battling with their allies.

Knights would often develop their skills as a warrior by participating in tournaments that occurred at court. Tournaments began in the early middle ages when warrior kings trained their men for battle by arranging lethal combats among their knights. Later, when the knights role as a warrior grew less important, tournaments were transformed into a form of entertainment for the court. Honorary knighthood still exists today and practices vary from country to country. Chivalry, in both its ideals and practices, declined in the later Middle Ages along with feudalism. The reason was clear: the forms of warfare had changed. In 1347 the bubonic plague appeared in Europe, the plague killed large amounts of the population, which helped to hasten the disintegration of the feudal order. At the same time the ways of warfare had changed in ways that made horse-mounted knights outdated. Traditionally knights fought for honor and glory, not ransom or wages. Combat was basically on a small scale, where as conflicts like the Hundred Year war , was much larger and required more men than the armies of a king s knights could provide. Wars became longer, larger, and more impersonal, new arms and artillery such as gun -powder were introduced.

Like most declining institutions chivalry grew more rigid and formalized as it lost its usefulness. By the end of the middle ages, chivalry survived only as a code of behavior and a set of beliefs and rituals because the society for which it was designed was rapidly disappearing. As a sign of Chivalry s importance to society, the medieval orders were formed by rulers to inspire loyalty in their nobles, which encouraged patriotism. One of these was the order of Garter, which quickly became an exclusive social distinction and was copied in France, Bourgogne, and as well as the Spanish kingdoms. Knights of the Garter would receive a gift of land after there ceremonial initiation. Shortly following was the order of the Star, but the most famous order was The Golden Fleece . These rules formalized the etiquette of chivalry, even as it was becoming outdated. Luxury of dress, heraldry and tournaments were designed to keep chivalry from fading into the background. Tournaments soon became harmless acts of showmanship, with padded armor, blunted lances, and dull edge swords.

The legacy of medieval chivalry was very significant, for the knight was the ancestor of the modern gentlemen. Thanks to chivalry s courtly, military, and religious ethic, we derived our concept of the absolute gentlemen.

The Arthurian Romances are a group of tales that developed during the Middle Ages. Their main focus was on Arthur, King of the Britons and his knights. The legend is a combination of ancient Celtic mythology and possible historical truth.

The earliest references to Arthur can be found in Welsh sources such as the poem, Y Gododdin (circa 600), the Welsh story collection, The Mabinogion (circa 1100) and various Latin histories written in the ninth and tenth centuries. In one of these tales Guinevere, Arthur’s wife, and his knights Kay, Bedivere, and Gawain make their first known appearance. Historia Regum Britanniae (circa 1139) by the English writer, Geoffrey of Monmouth is the earliest known Latin, Arthurian narrative. Here, Arthur is identified as the son of the British king Uther Pendragon and Merlin his counselor is introduced. Geoffrey’s Historia describes the isle of Avalon, where Arthur went to recover from the injuries he suffered in his last battle. This story also tells of Guinevere’s unfaithfulness and the revolt started by Arthur’s nephew Modred.

Later developments of the Arthurian Legends are based on Geoffrey of Monmouth’s work. The Brut (1205), which is based on Geoffrey s Historia is the first English Arthurian story written by poet Layamon. In this tale, Arthur is portrayed as an epic warrior. It is also the first known account of the magic sword Excalibur, which only Arthur could remove from the stone, proving his rightful place on the throne.

In a French version of the Arthurian romance by Chretien de Troyes, Lancelot, Arthur’s chief knight and rival for Guinevere’s love is introduced. Chretien also introduces Percivil, another knight of Arthur’s, and the search for the Holy Grail. These early works had a great influence on later German versions of the romances, such as Erec and Iwein, by the twelfth century poet Hartmann von Aue, and the epic Parzifal, by Wolfram won Eshenbach. By the early thirteenth century the story of Tristan and Isolde was also added to the Arthurian legends, which describes the conflict between passion and duty.

English Arthurian romances, dating from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, were based on the stories of individual knights. Percival and Galahad, the knights of the Grail and especially Gawain were the subjects of these tales. An anonymous story of these tales is written in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, which involves the moral testing of a young knight.

Le Morte Darthur, by Sir Thomas Malory, was compiled in 1469 or 1470, and printed in 1485, by William Caxton. It is consider to be the first work of prose fiction in English and perhaps one of the greatest. Malory was believed to be an English knight of Warwickshire that had served for the military in France. It is also believed that he wrote Le Morte Darthur while serving time in prison for political crimes. The epic is composed of translations from old French sources and Malory’s own writings. It is divided into 21 books and tells the tales of Arthur and his knights and is said to have given new life to all of the characters. The prose has been noted for its color, dignity and graceful qualities.

The importance of the Arthurian romances consisted largely of keeping the memory of the knight’s traditions alive. Europe began to utilize the code of chivalry to serve as a model for gentlemen of the court. In Renaissance Italy Baldassare Castiglione used his Book of the Courtier (1528) to give advice to men and women while at court. This was based on the etiquette of the knights. In the next two centuries many writers compiled similar advice for both courtiers and worldly gentlemen. By the beginning of the nineteenth century the figure of the knight had become romanticized. Romantic authors like Sir Walter Scott began to attribute modern manners to medieval knights. All of these works show the ongoing adaptation of the concepts of chivalry, a concept that has continued to live on long after the age of the medieval knight.

There are many ways in which Chivalry is still present in our society today. Many Chivalrous functions are performed without a second thought. Men opening doors for women, for example, or a man offering up the last seat so that a woman can sit down. These functions are considered standard in today s society. It is a sign of respect for a woman as well as a sign of a courteous man. These are some of the ethics of Chivalry. Many of the ways that people act at the start of a love relationship are derived from Chivalry. The idea that a woman must be wooed by her potential mate and that is a mans job to fight for her virtue, or that it is a mans duty to stand between his woman and danger has been carried down through society from the Middle Ages. Chivalry is also apparent in the way a woman will respond to a mans advances, acting somewhat shy and withdrawn. A woman is always supposed to be submissive to her man. At the time Chivalry was present a woman could never outwardly express her desires for a man. Women are still taught that wanting of the flesh is only for men to succumb to. When a woman yields to her desires she is wrong and punished. Today s punishment however is not quite as harsh as it was in medieval times. Instead of being put to death, women are merely shamed by society. You will also find traces of Chivalry in todays marriages. A man will give all household responsibilities to his wife: checkbook/finances, cooking, raising children, etc., and still claim to be the head of his household.

In today s society however, there is much controversy over the act of Chivalry. Since the actual time of Chivalry and Courtly Love we expierenced a movement called Women s Liberation. During this time it was established that the rights of women are to be equal to that of men. There are people who will argue that because of this movement Chivalry is dead or no longer needed. Chivalry employs some of the tactics that were defeated by Women s Lib., such as mens superiority over women. Some even say that the tables should be turned, expecting women to do the same things for men as men do for women, i.e., open doors, actively pursue men, give up the last seat for a man, and soon. For the most part, Chivalry can still be seen on a daily basis and has become part of our culture. In many other countries this type of behavior is unheard of and we are considered strange for it. Women are not treated with any kind of respect nor do they have any rights. For example, in some middle-eastern countries it is still required that women walk behind the men and avoid all eye contact with men. Because of Chivalry this behavior is considered strange to us.Due to the fact that Chivalry has become so embedded in our culture and society, traces of it will remain until the ends of time.

5038

Barber, Richard. The Knight and Chivalry

New York: Charles Scribner s Sons 1970

National Geographic Society. The Age of Chivalry.

Washington D.C.: National Geographic Society 1969

Gautier, Leon. Chivalry

London: A Phoenix House publication 1965

Online posting. Encyclopedia Americana

http://www.ea.grolier.com, Jan.1998

James Marshall. Chivalry

http://www.astro.umd.edu, Jan.1999

Chivalry, as defined by Encyclopedia Americana is a system of values and ideals of conduct held by knights in medieval Europe. In its institutional form, chivalry was an informal, international order to which many, but not all, of the ruling class (nobility) belonged. The word is derived from the Latin caballus (horse) through the French chevalier ( horseman or knight).

Chivalry was born from Feudalism in the late middle ages introducing a new, feminine point of view stressing virtue and ethics. It was a time of renewal and need. There were new towns and cities of trade everywhere, thus creating the need to travel. However, in order to travel there must be someone left behind to tend to the work that must be done. From this a Feudal Court was developed. The Feudal Lords (landowners or people of nobility), who later were granted Knighthood, split their land between vassals who pledged their allegiance to said lord. The land was not theirs to own, but theirs to tend and feed their family as well as the family of the presiding lord. Food provisions were not the only things pledged to these lords. They were also given an annual sum of money as well as additional funds should they be needed. Women played a large role during this time. Often, they were left to run the household and make decisions pertaining to domestic matters of the manor while the men were away. This brought etiquette and rules of conduct to society. Chivalry grew during the time of the Crusades. The Crusades were holy expeditions by Christian Knights to regain ownership of holy places under Muslim control. Most knights genuinely believed in the religious aspect of these Crusades while some viewed them merely as a means of financial gain and power. During this time Courtly Love was also established, setting standards for courtship. A knight was to be devoted to a lady, usually married or betrothed, and did everything in his power to gain her favor.

One of the most influential women of medieval times was Eleanor of Aquitane. She greatly contributed to the growth of Chivalry and Courtly Love. She was married several times, first to King Louis VII of France and then to King Henry II of England. Her travels allowed her to be influential to both countries. Even before her marriages she owned great amounts of land, making her very powerful. This was a rarity for a woman in her time and she was not afraid to use her power to gain advantage. She at one time accompanied her first husband, Louis VII, on his second Crusade contrary to what the church (ruling government at the time) said. Poets received encouragement from Eleanor to write poems and sonnets from a womans point of view, this was also unheard of before the late Middle Ages. During her marriages, there were rumors of affairs had by the Great Queen . Along with her plans to lead her sons in a rebellion against their father, these rumors were enough to cause Henry II to lock Eleanor away as a punishment until the time of his death. During the reign of her son King Richard, Eleanor started the Courts of Love which contributed to giving women a higher standing in society. The Courts of Love were a gathering of enthusiastic young women who debated and ridiculed the ideals of love presented to them by poets and knights of the court. Throughout her life Eleanor was committed to furthering the ideals and standards of Chivalry and Courtly love. She died at the age of eighty after spending a few years at Fontevrault, an abbey where she chose to rest several times during the course of her life.

The origins of the code of chivalry came from the laws of feudalism. The knights were expected to fight bravely and be loyal to their lords. Bravery and loyalty became the vanguard of the code of chivalry. The strong influence of Christianity and courtly love expanded this code to include religious devotion and refined social graces. Chivalry began to soften the harsh edges of feudal warfare and knights were expected to treat their fellow knights and inferiors with respect and good will. The new code, which was established in the eleventh century, during the Crusades, prohibited knights from attacking the unarmed, and stressed that the good knight fought for glory and Christian purposes instead of mere profit and gain. Following, are the ten commandments (Gautier 9) of chivalry as stated by Leon Gautier in his book La Chevalerie:

I. Thou shalt believe all that the Church teaches, and shalt observe all its directions.

II. Thou shalt defend the Church.

III. Thou shalt respect all weaknesses, and shalt constitute thyself the defender of them.

IV. Thou shalt love the country in the which thou wast born.

V. Thou shalt not recoil before thine enemy.

VI. Thou shalt make war against the Infidel without cessation, and without mercy.

VII. Thou shalt perform scrupulously thy feudal duties, if they be not contrary to the laws of God.

VIII. Thou shalt never lie, and shall remain faithful to thy pledged word.

IX. Thou shalt be generous, and give largess to everyone.

X. Thou shalt be everywhere and always the champion of the Right and the Good against Injustice and Evil. (10)

The early Middle Ages were chaotic times in European history. However, the age of chivalry brought a period of renewed stability to the continent. During this peaceful time the church tried to curb the warlike nature of feudalism by adopting programs know as the Peace of God and the Truce of God. The Peace of God made it forbidden for knights to attack peasants, women, priests and merchants. While the Truce of God prohibited battle on Sundays and holy days. Although the Church lacked the power to enforce these rules, they displayed a set of new values emerging in contrast to the brutal warfare that had been part of living in feudal Europe in the ninth and tenth centuries.

Another major influence on the evolution of chivalry was courtly love. It defined the relationships between knights and ladies of the court and was a written code of rules that outlined the proper behavior of relationship between aristocratic lovers in Western Europe during the Middle Ages. There are twelve chief rules of courtly love, as stated by Andreas Capellanus in De Arte Honeste Amandi:

I. Thou shalt avoid avarice like the deadly pestilence and shalt embrace its opposite.

II. Thou shalt keep thyself chaste for the sake of her whom thou lovest.

III. Thou shalt not knowingly strive to break up a correct love affair that someone else is engaged in.

IV. Thou shalt not choose for thy love anyone whom a natural sense of shame forbids thee to marry.

V. Be mindful completely to avoid falsehood.

VI. Thou shalt not have many who know of thy love affair.

VII. Being obedient in all things to the commands of ladies, thou shalt ever strive to ally thyself to the service of Love.

VIII. In giving and receiving love’s solaces let modesty be ever present.

IX. Thou shalt speak no evil.

X. Thou shalt not reveal love affairs.

XI. Thou shalt be in all things polite and courteous.

XII. In practising the solaces of love, thou shalt not exceed the desires of thy lover .(qtd. in Barber 136)

In addition to the twelve, there is another set of thirty-one rules for engaging in the Art of Courtly Love (qtd. in Barber 133). According to these conventions, a knight, in love with a married woman, who was of the same station or higher, had to prove his devotion to her through heroic deeds and anonymous writings of his love for her. Once the lovers had consummated their passions, complete secrecy had to be maintained. Since most noble marriages in the Middle Ages were mainly business contracts, courtly love was a form of permitted adultery. It was allowed because it did not threaten the marriage contract or the religious bond of marriage. In fact it was considered more sinful to be unfaithful to your lover than to your marriage partner.

During medieval times the term knight referred to a mounted warrior of secondary rank. This new class was formed to provide a means of advancement for men who were not born into a noble family and was probably developed with the barbarian tribes of northern Europe. The term knight was derived from the old English cinht , meaning youth. Most knights began their training as young boys at the age of about seven under the service of an overlord. At the age of fifteen or sixteen they were raised in rank to a squire and began training in knighthood. They learned the use of arms and horsemanship. They also engaged in endless physical activities such as swimming and wrestling. When and if their overlord considered them worthy, the knights would receive their accolade, which usually consisted of a tap on the shoulder with a sword. This ceremony proclaimed them a knight, and they usually would gain the title of sir. As feudalism developed, the rank of a knight became a land holding rank. In return for land, the knights were expected to serve in the military for their overlord.

The principal weapons used by knights were the lance and sword. Because knights battled against each other, they needed to have sturdy outfits for protection. For years, knights wore some type of body armor, in the early days it was just quilted leather or cloth. Later, knights began to wear mail , a mesh made of metal, and it soon became commonplace. With this suit of armor the knight usually carried a shield, which also served as a stretcher to carry them off the field if they were wounded in battle. Later, in the fourteenth century armor with deflecting surfaces became necessary to protect against the crossbow. Metal plates were fastened to the mail uniforms over the chest and back, shoulders, and the outside of the arms and legs. Since armor usually hid the faces of knights it was necessary to engrave them with identifying insignia to prevent them from battling with their allies.

Knights would often develop their skills as a warrior by participating in tournaments that occurred at court. Tournaments began in the early middle ages when warrior kings trained their men for battle by arranging lethal combats among their knights. Later, when the knights role as a warrior grew less important, tournaments were transformed into a form of entertainment for the court. Honorary knighthood still exists today and practices vary from country to country. Chivalry, in both its ideals and practices, declined in the later Middle Ages along with feudalism. The reason was clear: the forms of warfare had changed. In 1347 the bubonic plague appeared in Europe, the plague killed large amounts of the population, which helped to hasten the disintegration of the feudal order. At the same time the ways of warfare had changed in ways that made horse-mounted knights outdated. Traditionally knights fought for honor and glory, not ransom or wages. Combat was basically on a small scale, where as conflicts like the Hundred Year war , was much larger and required more men than the armies of a king s knights could provide. Wars became longer, larger, and more impersonal, new arms and artillery such as gun -powder were introduced.

Like most declining institutions chivalry grew more rigid and formalized as it lost its usefulness. By the end of the middle ages, chivalry survived only as a code of behavior and a set of beliefs and rituals because the society for which it was designed was rapidly disappearing. As a sign of Chivalry s importance to society, the medieval orders were formed by rulers to inspire loyalty in their nobles, which encouraged patriotism. One of these was the order of Garter, which quickly became an exclusive social distinction and was copied in France, Bourgogne, and as well as the Spanish kingdoms. Knights of the Garter would receive a gift of land after there ceremonial initiation. Shortly following was the order of the Star, but the most famous order was The Golden Fleece . These rules formalized the etiquette of chivalry, even as it was becoming outdated. Luxury of dress, heraldry and tournaments were designed to keep chivalry from fading into the background. Tournaments soon became harmless acts of showmanship, with padded armor, blunted lances, and dull edge swords.

The legacy of medieval chivalry was very significant, for the knight was the ancestor of the modern gentlemen. Thanks to chivalry s courtly, military, and religious ethic, we derived our concept of the absolute gentlemen.

The Arthurian Romances are a group of tales that developed during the Middle Ages. Their main focus was on Arthur, King of the Britons and his knights. The legend is a combination of ancient Celtic mythology and possible historical truth.

The earliest references to Arthur can be found in Welsh sources such as the poem, Y Gododdin (circa 600), the Welsh story collection, The Mabinogion (circa 1100) and various Latin histories written in the ninth and tenth centuries. In one of these tales Guinevere, Arthur’s wife, and his knights Kay, Bedivere, and Gawain make their first known appearance. Historia Regum Britanniae (circa 1139) by the English writer, Geoffrey of Monmouth is the earliest known Latin, Arthurian narrative. Here, Arthur is identified as the son of the British king Uther Pendragon and Merlin his counselor is introduced. Geoffrey’s Historia describes the isle of Avalon, where Arthur went to recover from the injuries he suffered in his last battle. This story also tells of Guinevere’s unfaithfulness and the revolt started by Arthur’s nephew Modred.

Later developments of the Arthurian Legends are based on Geoffrey of Monmouth’s work. The Brut (1205), which is based on Geoffrey s Historia is the first English Arthurian story written by poet Layamon. In this tale, Arthur is portrayed as an epic warrior. It is also the first known account of the magic sword Excalibur, which only Arthur could remove from the stone, proving his rightful place on the throne.

In a French version of the Arthurian romance by Chretien de Troyes, Lancelot, Arthur’s chief knight and rival for Guinevere’s love is introduced. Chretien also introduces Percivil, another knight of Arthur’s, and the search for the Holy Grail. These early works had a great influence on later German versions of the romances, such as Erec and Iwein, by the twelfth century poet Hartmann von Aue, and the epic Parzifal, by Wolfram won Eshenbach. By the early thirteenth century the story of Tristan and Isolde was also added to the Arthurian legends, which describes the conflict between passion and duty.

English Arthurian romances, dating from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, were based on the stories of individual knights. Percival and Galahad, the knights of the Grail and especially Gawain were the subjects of these tales. An anonymous story of these tales is written in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, which involves the moral testing of a young knight.

Le Morte Darthur, by Sir Thomas Malory, was compiled in 1469 or 1470, and printed in 1485, by William Caxton. It is consider to be the first work of prose fiction in English and perhaps one of the greatest. Malory was believed to be an English knight of Warwickshire that had served for the military in France. It is also believed that he wrote Le Morte Darthur while serving time in prison for political crimes. The epic is composed of translations from old French sources and Malory’s own writings. It is divided into 21 books and tells the tales of Arthur and his knights and is said to have given new life to all of the characters. The prose has been noted for its color, dignity and graceful qualities.

The importance of the Arthurian romances consisted largely of keeping the memory of the knight’s traditions alive. Europe began to utilize the code of chivalry to serve as a model for gentlemen of the court. In Renaissance Italy Baldassare Castiglione used his Book of the Courtier (1528) to give advice to men and women while at court. This was based on the etiquette of the knights. In the next two centuries many writers compiled similar advice for both courtiers and worldly gentlemen. By the beginning of the nineteenth century the figure of the knight had become romanticized. Romantic authors like Sir Walter Scott began to attribute modern manners to medieval knights. All of these works show the ongoing adaptation of the concepts of chivalry, a concept that has continued to live on long after the age of the medieval knight.

There are many ways in which Chivalry is still present in our society today. Many Chivalrous functions are performed without a second thought. Men opening doors for women, for example, or a man offering up the last seat so that a woman can sit down. These functions are considered standard in today s society. It is a sign of respect for a woman as well as a sign of a courteous man. These are some of the ethics of Chivalry. Many of the ways that people act at the start of a love relationship are derived from Chivalry. The idea that a woman must be wooed by her potential mate and that is a mans job to fight for her virtue, or that it is a mans duty to stand between his woman and danger has been carried down through society from the Middle Ages. Chivalry is also apparent in the way a woman will respond to a mans advances, acting somewhat shy and withdrawn. A woman is always supposed to be submissive to her man. At the time Chivalry was present a woman could never outwardly express her desires for a man. Women are still taught that wanting of the flesh is only for men to succumb to. When a woman yields to her desires she is wrong and punished. Today s punishment however is not quite as harsh as it was in medieval times. Instead of being put to death, women are merely shamed by society. You will also find traces of Chivalry in todays marriages. A man will give all household responsibilities to his wife: checkbook/finances, cooking, raising children, etc., and still claim to be the head of his household.

In today s society however, there is much controversy over the act of Chivalry. Since the actual time of Chivalry and Courtly Love we expierenced a movement called Women s Liberation. During this time it was established that the rights of women are to be equal to that of men. There are people who will argue that because of this movement Chivalry is dead or no longer needed. Chivalry employs some of the tactics that were defeated by Women s Lib., such as mens superiority over women. Some even say that the tables should be turned, expecting women to do the same things for men as men do for women, i.e., open doors, actively pursue men, give up the last seat for a man, and soon. For the most part, Chivalry can still be seen on a daily basis and has become part of our culture. In many other countries this type of behavior is unheard of and we are considered strange for it. Women are not treated with any kind of respect nor do they have any rights. For example, in some middle-eastern countries it is still required that women walk behind the men and avoid all eye contact with men. Because of Chivalry this behavior is considered strange to us.Due to the fact that Chivalry has become so embedded in our culture and society, traces of it will remain until the ends of time.

Works Cited

Barber, Richard. The Knight and Chivalry

New York: Charles Scribner s Sons 1970

National Geographic Society. The Age of Chivalry.

Washington D.C.: National Geographic Society 1969

Gautier, Leon. Chivalry

London: A Phoenix House publication 1965

Online posting. Encyclopedia Americana

http://www.ea.grolier.com, Jan.1998

James Marshall. Chivalry

http://www.astro.umd.edu, Jan.1999

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