What does Chivalry mean today and does it even exist any longer? We’d like to think it does, but it does seem to have gotten a bit lost along the way. Today we feel holding a door open, putting a jacket over a puddle, helping an old lady across the street or simply thinking of others is pretty darn chivalric in nature. Sadly we often don’t go farther than that. Truth is, it was deep and meaningful on many levels at one time and frankly, it should be again.
There was an author from the 13th century which may have stated the aims and ideals best. Raymond Lull’s work, translated into English hundreds of years later, may still embody the foundation of chivalry, what it is and should be best. Below I sum up 12 main points a Knight was responsible for in behavior and belief.
- A Knight is Defender of the Faith
- The office of the Knight is to maintain and defend his Lord and must uphold the authority of their Lord.
- The Knight ought to maintain Justice.
- A Knight must exercise himself in Arms, but must not neglect the virtues that embellish the soul.
- A Knight must always display courage, which is superior to bodily strength because it is a spiritual and therefore limitless.
- Courage should be tempered by discretion.
- A Knight is to defend women, widows and orphans, those who are sick or no longer strong.
- He upholds Justice and must undertake to punish ‘wicked’ individuals.
- A Knight should not lie.
- A Knight should be humble in bearing, such that his pride and humility do not cross
- A Knight ought to fear Dishonor more than Death.
- A Knight should not be Vain.
There are a few other points he makes, especially pertaining to the virtues of squire, but they echo, as you can imagine the knightly ideals. Lofty values to be sure, too lofty for today though? We don’t think so. It’s simply giving selflessly gives to others when ever possible and in turn becomes better for it. A true Knight’s strength lies in his character, not his sword arm (although that helps).
Be honest, are you a Knight in your daily adventures? What Lull lists is easy to understand and has stood the test of time because we relate to it regardless of nation or era; it’s in all of us already. Find it and you’ll be living the life of a modern day knight.by Robin Chaudhuri, Senior Writer Museum Replicas*Source material taken from the Book of the Ordre of Chyvalry by Raymond Lull.