Medieval Chivalry

Topics: Knight, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Romance Pages: 8 (2868 words) Published: April 11, 2000
Western Civilization

Medieval Chivalry and Knighthood

During medieval times knighthood was a class culture, cherished and jealousy guarded by the knightly caste. Knight had the honor of defending the king as well as their country. On the bloody fields of battle a code of chivalry evolved that tempered anger and fury with mercy. It created ways of turning the grim business of fighting into something tolerable, perhaps even acceptable. Chivalry was not only looked upon as a code for war; it was looked upon as a setting for stories of love and romance. Chivalry meant a higher social status as well as recognition. Chivalry as we know it denotes the ideals and practices considered suitable to be a noble. Over time chivalry has been used as the primal word to describe the attitude and actions of men towards women. "The word itself is reminiscent of the milieu in which the ideas connected with it took shape-the aristocratic society of mediaeval France dominated by mounted warriors or chevaliers." From as early as the eleventh century several different sets of ideas represented different standards of chivalric behavior. Over the next four hundred years the concepts of Hanuka, 2

The ideal nobleman developed by and for the feudal class under the influence of changing environments, ideas, political views and economies. The concept of being born into a certain class in society was a great part of medieval life. This concept of the class system was based on the land ownership and duties that were owed to other people. The knights were the military supporters of the feudal lords. The knight fought for his lord and if necessary died for him. However, the feudal inheritance was provided only for the eldest son. Younger sons therefore tended to the church or joined groups of knight lacking land. They worked and did their jobs waiting for the opportunity to marry into an estate. There were three methods of becoming a knight. "The most common involved the King or tenant-in-chief conferring the title, known as 'dubbing'. The second method involved religion, the soon to be knight kept a night vigil with his arms on the altar in front of him. He then took a purifying bath, heard Mass and had his spurs put on it. The dubbing then followed with a formal sermon and a sword. The third method involved the readings of a service Benedictio Novi Militis. Hanuka, 3

A certain type of apprenticeship exited for knighthood. It was served through being a squire. This involved acting like a servant in the household while being instructed in manners, humility and various skills. Servants were taught exactly what it meant to be a knight. They were tight the responsibilities of knighthood and what their duties exactly were in defending their lord. Aside from the military training of a knight there was a certain set of manners and customs that developed which is known as 'chivalry'. Part of this was the cultivation of manners that should be used in the courts. It furthered the idea of the social service as well as the ideas of loyalty, virtue and generosity. It was the idea of noblesse oblige- privileges, which came along with responsibilities. Along with the courtly manners came the idea of romantic love and the chivalrous devotion of a knight to his lady. In the early history of knighthood there were two types of knights and two types of ceremonies to convey honor. One of these knights was known as a knight of the sword; a knight who had only been given an accolade. The other type was a knight who had been given a religious ceremony before the accolade, these were known as knights of the bath. There were also two ranks in dignity of knighthood. The first were youngsters aspiring to be knights. They had to work for a prince or somebody f a high rank. The second rank was known as the esquires. These men were

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He was responsible for carrying the shield of the knight. The esquire was considered a...

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Davis, William Stearns, Life on a Mediaeval Barony. New York and London: Harper and Brothers, 1923.
Harper-Bill and Harvey, Christopher and Ruth. Medieval Knighthood IV. Rochester: The Boydell Press, 1992.
Lang, Lloyd and Jennifer. Medieval Britain: The Age of Chivalry. New York: St. Martin 's Press, 1996.
Morgan, Gwendolyn A. Medieval Ballads. New York: Peter Lang, 1996.
Painter, Sydney. French Chivalry: Chivalry Ideas and Practices and Mediaeval France. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1985.
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Wood, Charles T. The Age of Chivalry. New York: Universe Books, 1970.
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