Chivalry was a system of ethical ideals developed among the knights of medieval Europe. Arising out of the feudalism of the period, it combined military virtues with those of Christianity, as epitomized by he Arthurian legend in England and the chansons de geste of medieval France. The word chivalry is derived from the French chevalier, meaning horseman or knight. Chivalry was the code of conduct by which knights were supposedly guided. In addition to military prowess and valor and loyalty to God and the knight's feudal lord, it called for courtesy toward enemies and generosity toward the sick and oppressed, widows, and other disadvantaged people.
Also incorporated in the ideal was courtly love, romantic devotion for a sexually unattainable woman, usually another man's wife. Veneration for the Virgin Mary played a part in this concept. Chivalric ideals influenced the founding of religious military orders during the period of the Crusades, among them the Templars and the Hospitalers, the Teutonic Knights, and the Spanish orders of Alcannot
ara, Calatrava, and Santiago. In the late Middle Ages, rulers formed secular orders of chivalry such as the English Order of the Garter and the Burgundian Order of the Golden Fleece. By this time, however, chivalry had become largely a system of etiquette. Tournaments, in which knights had originally risked their lives in jousting combat before the ladies, became simply elaborate, stylized, and harmless entertainments. Moreover, the expense of this and other trappings of knighthood led many nobles who were eligible for knighthood, having served the customary apprenticeship of 7 years as a page at a noble court and another 7 as a squire, or attendant, to a knight, not to become knights at all. From chivalry, always larger in literature than in life, comes the modern concept of the gentleman.
The Knight tells a tale of ideal love and chivalry. This type of tale might seem...