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chivalry

chivalry (shĬv´əlrē), system of ethical ideals that arose from feudalism and had its highest development in the 12th and 13th cent.

Chivalric ethics originated chiefly in France and Spain and spread rapidly to the rest of the Continent and to England. They represented a fusion of Christian and military concepts of morality and still form the basis of gentlemanly conduct. Noble youths became pages in the castles of other nobles at the age of 7; at 14 they trained as squires in the service of knights, learning horsemanship and military techniques, and were themselves knighted, usually at 21.

The chief chivalric virtues were piety, honor, valor, courtesy, chastity, and loyalty. The knight's loyalty was due to the spiritual master, God; to the temporal master, the suzerain; and to the mistress of the heart, his sworn love. Love, in the chivalrous sense, was largely platonic; as a rule, only a virgin or another man's wife could be the chosen object of chivalrous love. With the cult of the Virgin Mary, the relegation of noblewomen to a pedestal reached its highest expression.

The ideal of militant knighthood was greatly enhanced by the Crusades. The monastic orders of knighthood, the Knights Templars and the Knights Hospitalers, produced soldiers sworn to uphold the Christian ideal. Besides the battlefield, the tournament was the chief arena in which the virtues of chivalry could be proved. The code of chivalrous conduct was worked out with great subtlety in the courts of love that flourished in France and in Flanders. There the most arduous questions of love and honor were argued before the noble ladies who presided (see courtly love). The French military hero Pierre Terrail, seigneur de Bayard, was said to be the last embodiment of the ideals of chivalry.

In practice, chivalric conduct was never free from corruption, increasingly evident in the later Middle Ages. Courtly love often deteriorated into promiscuity and adultery and pious militance into barbarous warfare. Moreover, the chivalric duties were not owed to those outside the bounds of feudal obligation. The outward trappings of chivalry and knighthood declined in the 15th cent., by which time wars were fought for victory and individual valor was irrelevant. Artificial orders of chivalry, such as the Order of the Golden Fleece (1423), were created by rulers to promote loyalty; tournaments became ritualized, costly, and comparatively bloodless; the traditions of knighthood became obsolete.

Medieval secular literature was primarily concerned with knighthood and chivalry. Two masterpieces of this literature are the Chanson de Roland (c.1098; see Roland) and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (see Pearl, The). Arthurian legend and the chansons de geste furnished bases for many later romances and epics. The work of Chrétien de Troyes and the Roman de la Rose also had tremendous influence on European literature. The endless chivalrous and pastoral romances, still widely read in the 16th cent., were satirized by Cervantes in Don Quixote. In the 19th cent., however, the romantic movement brought about a revival of chivalrous ideals and literature.

For the lyric poetry of the age of chivalry, see troubadours; trouvères; minnesinger.

See B. E. Broughton, Dictionary of Medieval Knighthood and Chivalry (1986); M. Keen, Chivalry (1984); H. Chickering and T. H. Seiler, ed., The Study of Chivalry (1988).

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Chivalry

108. Chivalry

  1. Amadis of Gaul personification of chivalric ideals: valor, purity, fidelity. [Span. Lit.: Benét, 27]
  2. Arthur, King king of England; head of the Round Table. [Br. Lit.: Le Morte dArthur ]
  3. Bevis chivalrous medieval knight, righting wrongs in Europe. [Br. Lit.: Bevis of Hampton ]
  4. Book of the Courtier Castigliones discussion of the manners of the perfect courtier (1528). [Ital. Lit.: EB, II: 622]
  5. Calidore, Sir personification of courtesy and chivalrous actions. [Br. Lit.: Faerie Queene ]
  6. Camelot capital of King Arthurs realm, evokes the romance of knightly activity. [Br. Legend: Colliers IV, 224]
  7. Cid, El Spanish military leader who becomes a national hero through chivalrous exploits. [Span. Lit.: Song of the Cid ]
  8. Courtenay, Miles dashing and chivalrous Irishman. [Br. Lit.: King Noanett, Walsh Modern, 108]
  9. Coverley, Sir Roger de ideal, early 18th-century squire. [Br. Lit.: Spectator in Wheeler, 85]
  10. DArtagnan Dumass ever-popular chivalrous character. [Fr. Lit.: The Three Musketeers ]
  11. Dantes, Edmond chivalrous adventurer. [Fr. Lit.: Count of Monte-Cristo ]
  12. Edward III, King when a countess dropped her garter, he put it on to reproach the sniggering courtiers, and instituted the Order of the Garter. [Br. Legend: Benét, 383]
  13. Eglamour, Sir a knight well-spoken, neat, and fine. [Br. Lit.: Two Gentlemen of Verona ]
  14. Galahad, Sir gallant, chivalrous knight of the Round Table. [Br. Lit.: Le Morte dArthur ]
  15. Gareth knight who, though Lynette scorns him as only a kitchen hand, successfully accomplishes rescuing her sister. [Br. Poetry: Tennyson Idylls of the King ]
  16. Gawain, Sir King Arthurs nephew; model of knightly perfection and chivalry. [Br. Lit.: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight ]
  17. Ivanhoe the epitome of chivalric novels. [Br. Lit.: Ivanhoe ]
  18. Knights Templars protected pilgrims to the Holy Land and fought the Saracens. [Medieval Hist.: NCE, 1490]
  19. Knights of the Round Table chivalrous knights in King Arthurs reign. [Br. Lit.: Le Morte dArthur ]
  20. Lancelot, Sir knight in King Arthurs realm; model of chivalry. [Br. Lit.: Le Morte dArthur ]
  21. Morte dArthur, Le monumental work of chivalric romance. [Br. Lit.: Le Morte dArthur ]
  22. Orlando gallant and steadfast hero of medieval romance. [Ital. Lit.: Orlando Furioso; Orlando Inammorato; Morgante Maggiore ]
  23. Quixote, Don knight-errant ready to rescue distressed damsels. [Span. Lit.: Don Quixote ]
  24. Raleigh, Sir Walter drops his cloak over a puddle to save Queen Elizabeth from wetting her feet. [Br. Lit.: Scott Kenilworth in Magill I, 469]
  25. Richard the Lion-Hearted (11591199) king known for his gallantry and prowess. [Br. Hist.: EB, 15: 827]
  26. Roland paragon of chivalry; unyielding warrior in Charlemagne legends. [Fr. Lit.: Song of Roland ]
  27. sweet william symbolizes chivalry. [Flower Symbolism: Flora Symbolica, 181]
  28. Valiant, Prince comic strip character epitomizes chivalry. [Comics: Horn, 565]

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"Chivalry." Allusions--Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. . Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Chivalry." Allusions--Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 27, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/chivalry

"Chivalry." Allusions--Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. . Retrieved June 27, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/chivalry

chivalry

chivalry. The French precursor of this term, chevalerie, indicates that this code of behaviour, to which the noble and gentle classes subscribed throughout the Middle Ages and beyond, derived initially from the special status and function of the mounted warrior. Developments in warfare c.800–1100 elevated this type of soldier in both a military and social context. The training was long, the costs of equipment high; the need for considered behaviour in the field and the praise attached to worthy actions spilled over into life in general. Thus was generated a moral, religious, and social code, which over the centuries became more closely defined and controlled through the conduct of tournaments, laws of war, orders of chivalry, and heraldry. The church, too, was keen to encourage the proper conduct of the warrior élite, and the crusades helped to shape ‘the distinctive Christian strand in chivalry’, even if its origins must still be sought in a secular context. Much of the early evidence derives from literary sources, such as the chansons de geste. Historians of chivalry debate whether art and literature reflected realities of life or were intended to shape them. This is particularly relevant in the English context where Edward III's plans for a chivalric order, finally bearing fruit in the Garter (c.1348), were much influenced by contemporary perceptions of the Arthurian romance tradition. Although chivalry was to some degree institutionalized in the later Middle Ages through the military orders and through the writing of treatises, it remained a nebulous yet all-embracing concept. It was important in creating a social bond between the crown, nobility, and gentry, and in generating the code of behaviour expected of a gentleman, demanding personal honour, generosity, loyalty, and courage. Thus it survived well beyond the era of the mounted knight.

Anne Curry

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"chivalry." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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chivalry

chivalry (Fr. chevalerie, knighthood) Code of ethics and behaviour of the knightly class that developed from the feudal system. A combination of Christian ethics and military codes of conduct, the main chivalric virtues were piety, honour, valour, chastity, and loyalty. A knight swore loyalty to God, king and his love. Love was strictly platonic. The Crusades saw the emergence of monastic knighthoods, such as the Knights Hospitallers and Knights Templar. Chivalry was always prone to corruption, and the traditions died out in the 15th century. Chivalric ideals permeate much of medieval literature.

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chivalry

chiv·al·ry / ˈshivəlrē/ • n. the medieval knightly system with its religious, moral, and social code. ∎ hist. knights, noblemen, and horsemen collectively. ∎  the combination of qualities expected of an ideal knight, esp. courage, honor, courtesy, justice, and a readiness to help the weak. ∎  courteous behavior, esp. that of a man toward women. DERIVATIVES: chi·val·ric / shəˈvalrik/ adj.

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chivalry

chivalry the medieval knightly system with its religious, moral, and social code; knights, noblemen, and horsemen of that system collectively. Recorded from Middle English, the word comes, via Old French chevalerie and medieval Latin, from late Latin caballarius ‘horseman’ (see chevalier).

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chivalry

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