Chivalry Essay

1735 words - 7 pages

Chivalry: A lost code Chivalry. A term not widely used during the modern times. What exactly is chivalry? According to Webster's New World Dictionary, it is "the medieval system of knighthood," and also "courtesy and fairness." Chivalry is almost nonexistent in today's society. It lives on in the form of good manners and "courtly love." Chivalry originated in the 9th and 10th centuries, at which time Western Europe was under siege by invading groups of Vikings, Magyars, Muslims, and other tribes. These invaders were usually experts at waging war on horseback. The armies of the European nobles had no such advantage; they were mainly composed of mere foot soldiers that had great difficulty combating the mounted cavalry. As a result of this, the nobles began to employ cavalry training and tactics in order to counter the threats of invaders. The first knights were simple armed warriors who fought on horseback with lances and swords. Horse maintenance was expensive, and cavalry training was a long and difficult process. To make up for the expenses of cavalry training, the nobles started to grant land to their knights for the duration of their services. This land provided the necessary income to support the knight.Cline 2 Chivalry can be divided into three main viewpoints: the military, the social, and the religious. The Military Standard Knights were expected to defend their lords as well as the innocent. The knight was known as the professional soldier of the time. Usually only men of noble birth had the honor of being knighted. Each year a knight was expected to perform a specific number of days of military service in exchange for his lands and the lord's protection. A knight was also expected to fight valiantly for his lord, and show unquestioning loyalty to him. Bravery and loyalty were the foundation of what was to become the code of chivalry. A would-be knight began his training at an early age, serving as a page in a knight's household. In his teenage years, he graduated to the status of squire, where he gained more responsibilities. He now tended his knight's horses, of which every knight had three, the battle horse, a second horse, and a packhorse for the luggage. The squire also tended to his knight's armor. The squire also gained his first battle experience. Usually several squires were apprenticed to a knight at the same time. Generally there were four: one to manage the horses, one to carry the heaviest weapons, such as a shield, one to aid his master in mounting his horse and raise him if he was dismounted, and finally a fourth to guard any prisoners the knight might take, especially if a high ransom was placed upon them. Having attendants was a good thing for the knight, for when on the battlefield they might Cline 3 band together as a small infantry unit to fight around their master. It was at this time that they learned the many skills in arms that were essential for their profession. When the squire...

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