The Chivalric Code Of Medieval Knights

1183 words - 5 pages

Today when people hear, “chivalry,” the modern idea connected with the word is romance. Many would picture a man holding a door open for a woman, or think of the phrase, “Chivalry is dead!” In reality, chivalry was a more so of a code of conduct, and the concept of it only being tied to romance is actually a very small part of it. This conduct was a mix between where the individuals social status was, how knights dealt with treaties, and the glory, freedom, and respect that came with it. Two French rulers began this around the late eighth and early ninth century. History analysts saw this “as a code of moral behavior of upper-class men that showed ‘their romantic ideas of justice; their ...view middle of the document...

Since a majority of the people had this dream of honor and being looked up to with respect, it pushed many of the the lower social status classes to be more ambitious. Due to the fact that glory was, and still is, connected to the word chivalry, there were unnecessary crusades and raids. Rulers who had became hungry for more power, desired everything they could reach, whether it was land, power, or resources. Many rulers and dictators prided themselves on holding to the code, and with the thought of power, began to abandon the the Renaissance way of life moving towards the code of conduct.
What does chivalry truly embody? “The root of the word comes from the phrase chevalerie et clergie, a concept of justice, courage, and right conduct, as espoused by Chrétien and his many imitators” (Chivalry 1). The way the code was developed was based on how the medieval knights were so victorious in war and the way of life in the city of Rome. Before chivalry was the key to success and what drove the lower class to becoming more civil, knights were nothing more than “riff raff” with armor on who used the title to try and get prestige. Some of the main goals in chivalry were to always to be honest, to be noble in war, to respect some of the ways of Christianity (“such as mercy and charity for the poor”) and have to attain valor (Chivalry 4). Yes, there were acts of love in the name of chivalry, giving no advantage politically, but most of everyday knights did not carry out each expectation in the code. Tournaments, such as jousting, became a way for knights to establish one another and show off their skills and agility. Originally this started out as just a brawl, one knight versus another, but sprouted off into organized events, jousting, melees and others. When wars became centralized to bigger groups of troops, the concept of nobility became less important, and there were less positions of higher rankings. This meant more knights shared a lower level of status in within the group.
Now what everyone has been waiting for, chivalry expressed through love. This was more into a medieval and dark ages era in respect to chivalry. Poems later started to show chivalric actions through noble and gentle behaviors of male characters. France had originally developed this new “courtly love,” which became widely accepted throughout to be a part of the code as a whole. Chivalric love was typically about a knight expressing his love, lust, and...

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