Medieval Chivalry

All about the medieval chivalry. Medieval knights, chivalry code and principles. Accolade-chivalry rites. Life and duties of the medieval knight.

Chivalry is a generic term was used in the middle ages for the knightly system.  This word has evolved from three words Chevalier (French), Cavaliere (Italian) and Caballero (Spanish) which all meant the same i.e. a warrior who fights on the horseback.

The orders for Chivalry first were given during the military activities against the non-Christian countries. The Western Europe wanted to expand its control in the medieval times.  The orders were quite similar to the monastic orders however it required the members to fight in order to protect the religious pilgrims. They were required to take vows too.

There was no specific knight code of chivalry however there was a moral system that was more than just the rules of combat and it hence introduce the chivalrous conduct.  This conduct was basically about the qualities that an ideal knight should possess like courtesy, bravery, honor, generosity towards the maidens and ladies.

Although some of the knights were on the battlefields, there were some who were required to spend years as squires. This was their training session in which they had to practice the art of war by serving his master.

Chivalry code
During the period of William, a formal code of chivalry was documented in “The Song Of Roland”.  It describes the knights of the Dark Age and the challenges faced by the Emperors during the battles. There were certain codes of the chivalry which were described in the song of Roland. They included:
– Fearing God and maintaining the churches.
– Protecting the weak and defenseless people.
– Fight for everyone’s welfare.
– Keep faith.
– Honor the fellow knights.
– Respect the honor of women.
– Speak the truth all the time.
– Never turn back on the enemy.
– Obey the ones who are in authority.

The knight code of chivalry described by Duke of Burgundy in the 14th century had chivalric virtues. The knight code of chivalry was based on the virtues of faith, charity, justice, truth, hope, valor, temperance, resolution and similar other codes.

Knight accolade-Knighting ceremony
Squires were usually invested as knights during one of the great feasts or holidays or during wedding of a nobles or royal family members.
In times of war, a squire who had demonstrated exceptional bravery in battle could be knighted on the battlefield by another knight.
Master of the ceremony would dub the new knight on the shoulders with a sword. The knight would then dress in armor, receive his sword, mount his horse and participate in some martial games to demonstrate his skills as part of the celebration.

In times of war, knights were called to arms by their lords or by the king. They led foot soldiers and archers into battle, much like modern officers do with enlisted men. During peacetime, knights managed their estates, dispensed justice, trained for battle and participated in tournaments. We’ll learn about tournaments on the next page.

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