Knights and Chivalry


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 Alcantara, 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 somewhat strange to todays readers, but this tale would be very
popular in the time of Chaucer. The story of the Knight fits his character
perfectly. We would expect this from the Knight because he is a very loyal and
honorable person. The Knight\'s tale is filled with love, honor, chivalry, and
lots of adventure. Furthermore, fitting the Knights character, there are no
stories bordering on the vulgar and no coarseness. The love is an ideal love in
which there is no hint of sensuality. The love exists on a high, ideal,
platonic plane. The emphasis in the Knight\'s tale is upon the rules of honor
and proper conduct. These qualities fit the Knight good because he would bring
his opponent armor before they began to fight. The sense of honor is central to
the story and the purity of the love each knight feels for Emelye tends to
ennoble the character.

The Knight is the perfect and genteel man who loved truth, freedom,
chivalry and honor. He was truly a distinguished man, He has ridden into
battle in both Christian and heathen lands and in every instance served his king
well. Despite his brave add dangerous deeds, the Knight never boasted of what
he did nor did he tell his followers and listeners of his defeats.

The Knight is the most socially prominent person on the journey and certain
debts are paid to him throughout the journey. He tells the first story and many
pilgrims offer him many good compliments. All the battles that the Knight
fought in, none of them were in the King\'s secular wars. They were all
religious wars of some nature.

It is also typical of the Knight that he would love to describe the
richness of the banquet and the elaborate decorations of the stadium and the
rituals connected with the funeral. This type of richness and greatness would
appeal to a man of such distinction as the Knight. Furthermore, the extreme
emphasis on form, ritual, and code of behavior are all element of knighthood.
He is a distinguished soldier, gentlemen and an idealist. Todays readers might
find it strange that so many elements of chivalry come into the story. The
Knight in the Canterbury Tales is compared to the modern day police office. We
would not think that the Knight would be such a perfect and gentle man who loved
truth, freedom chivalry and honor. Since he is compared to police officer we
would not think he would be as perfect as he is. Even though there are a lot of
good police officers we still can\'t comparethe Knight to the police offices.
The Knight is perfect in ever way.

Today people are not as