January 1, 1170 - Chivalry

By: Davis Cawfield

Chivalry can be described as “ a complex set of ideals, demanded that a knight fight bravely in defense of three masters”. The code of chivalry is that a knight must devote himself to three different people, the earthly feudal lord, his Heavenly lord or God, and his chosen lady. The chivalric code stated that the ideal knight must be loyal, courageous and courteous. The code also demands that a knight must protect and care for the weak and the poor. Chivalry really became present in the late 12th century to early 13th. During this time period, Chivalric literature glorified chivalry and many epic poems and songs were made about the code. Many epic poems were created about figures such as King Arthur and the Knights of the round table. Overall, while the code emphasized bravery, honor and generosity, many of the knights did not follow this code.

Overall, chivalry was used by the church as a way to regulate the actions of knights. By promoting morals and qualities that the knights should have, the church created the idea of caring for a chosen lady, God and your feudal lord. Since knights during this time were often very violent and this code was an attempt to make the knights well-mannered. Chivalry also served the purpose during the time as an effective way to sort the nobility from the common people. You had to go to school to become a knight and it gave off a greater sense of wealth and family lineage. Chivalry through the church promoted the idea of heroism and virtue, and the church even set rules for the knights to follow. The church produced the Peace and Truce of God, with limits placed on knights to protect and honor the weak and help the church maintain peace. The church also produced other similar rules stating that knights can only fight on certain days and have to listen to their chosen lady.

Chivalry is a very important to World History as many of the values and morals taught are still in practice today. Chivalry has even received 10 Commandments, in 1891 stating the virtues of chivalry and how one who practices this should act. This was also immensely important during the time period when it thrived, as much of the literature and everyday life revolved around these ideas. Chivalry was also very important because of the fact that it emphasized honor, courage and romance. Especially through romance, and the chosen lady, there is this idea that a man should protect and listen to his chosen, which is directly derived from the chivalric code. During the time, chivalry also provided the idealized life and gave people a set of laws to abide by, to better society. While chivalry is not quite as intense in this day and age, it is most certainly still, around. Acts such as simply being courteous to a lady and having bravery and honor are considered chivalric.





World History: Patterns of Interactions

Chapter 13 Notes from class


Chivalry in the Middle Ages