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Knights And Chivalry Essay, Research Paper

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 chivalrous as the people back then, such as the

Knight, he is a good example of chivalry. Today most people are corrupt and try

not to act as they should. The Knight was an honest and a just person. He

would have fair fights, treat people with respect, and he would not brag about

what he accomplished, he was a very modest person. Most people today are rude

and ignorant, you’ll be lucky if a person holds the door for you. The way the

Knight lived is better than the way most people live today. You have to be

careful in who you trust because people today only try to cheat or to hurt

people. If we were living back then we would not have to worry about trusting

the Knight he was chivalrous, he could not even hurt a fly. Back then it was a

better time to live because were more chivalrous like the Knight, they did

things in honorably ways not like today.

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