What is Chivalry? And is it Dead?
The Warrior Code of the Middle Ages
As the Roman Empire was being torn apart by barbarians in the fifth century A.D., the barbarian culture began to merge with the culture of the Romans as these tribes began to adopt Christianity. As the unbridled barbarian ferocity began to be tempered with Christian teachings, the idea of knighthood began to develop. The term, chivalry, comes from the medieval French word, cheval, meaning “horse.” In the High Middle Ages, this Code of Chivalry was a guideline for knightly behavior both on and off of the battlefield.
The Values of Chivalry
Leon Gautier, a nineteenth century literary historian and scholar of chivalry, laid out ten “commandments” of chivalry to illustrate the values of a chivalrous knight:
Sir Bors' Dilemma
Today, chivalry lives on not only in gentlemen who hold doors for women and pay for dinner, but also in popular entertainment. Batman is often referred to as the “Dark Knight.” While Batman does not have a reputation for being a nice guy, he commits himself to protecting the weak and when Batman does harm, it is to those who have done harm to those who are weak and defenseless.
I am a history teacher who creates YouTube videos and instructional materials. I use this blog to publish lecture notes, book reviews, and personal reflections inspired by history, politics, and literature.