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Chilvary In The Middle Ages Essay

1595 words - 6 pages

When we think of the word "chivalry," we automatically visualize images of the mythical King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table and images of heavily armored knights rescuing damsels in distress. However, what most people often seem to overlook is that chivalry was a code of conduct specifically designed to accommodate the harsh lifestyle and hierarchical order of society during the Middle Ages. In the minds of medieval aristocrats, chivalry was the most logical explanation in ensuring the preservation of their state of power and control that was in jeopardy in such a disorganized society. Nonetheless, chivalry was much more than just a means of controlling a chaotic environment; it was a code that became a way of life for the knight, who would become a figure to be admired for all time. One must often wonder if chivalry, which characterized a time period that has captured the heart of so many people across the world, would have any usefulness in modern society. Unfortunately, chivalry would not be applicable in our society, which has so drastically revolutionized both socially and culturally from the Middle Ages.In medieval Europe power was extremely decentralized, so the aristocrats had to develop a means of controlling their inferiors. Over hundreds of years a system called feudalism evolved as the easiest way for the nobles to protect themselves and their land holdings. Feudalism was a hierarchical system that controlled the social, political, and economic systems of medieval life. The hierarchy was based on mutual obligations, which allowed the nobles to control large areas of land. The lord would give parts of his land to knights in exchange for military service and loyalty. This obligation of military service and loyalty would become deeply rooted in the code of chivalry.Chivalry mainly pertained to the social elite of Medieval Europe. At the time a young man, aspiring to be a knight, reached early manhood his life would become centered around the strict set of laws and regulation that constituted the code of chivalry. On pages 86 and 87 of William Marshall The Flower of Chivalry, Georges Duby states the three main constraints of the ethic of chivalry. "First of all, knights were to be loyal. The second duty of these warriors was to be courageous and triumphant men in battle but always conforming to certain laws. Finally, the last of the necessary virtues was generosity." Duby states, "This is what truly made the gentleman and established social distinction." Any monetary and material possessions that a knight acquired were expected to be distributed out among people in greater need than the knight. Also, knights were supposed to lend their homes whenever there was a person in need of shelter. Duby believes that loyalty was probably the most important component of chivalry. Loyalty was so crucial because it was the foundation of the feudal system-the building block of the entire social structure. The courageous attitude in battle...

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