Chivalry

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Chivalry is a term related to the medieval (middle ages) institution of knighthood which has an aristocratic military origin of individual training and service to others. It is usually associated with ideals of knightly virtues, honor and courtly love: "the source of the chivalrous idea," remarked Johan Huizinga, who devoted several chapters of The Waning of the Middle Ages to chivalry and its effects on the medieval character, "is pride aspiring to beauty, and formalized pride gives rise to a conception of honour, which is the pole of noble life."[1]

Contents

Etymology

In English, the word is first attested in 1292, as a loan from Old French chevalerie "knighthood", an abstract noun formed in the 11th century based on chevalier "knight", ultimately from Medieval Latin caballarius "horseman"; cavalry is from the Italian form of the same word, loaned via Middle French into English around 1540.

Between the 11th century and 15th centuries medieval writers often used the word chivalry, in meanings that changed over time, generally moving from the concrete meaning of "status or fee associated with military follower owning a war horse" towards the moral ideal of the Christian warrior ethos propagated in the Romance genre which became popular in the 12th century, and the ideal of courtly love propagated in the contemporary Minnesang and related genres. By the 15th century, the term had become mostly detached from its military origins, not least because the rise of infantry in the 14th century had essentially confined knightly horsemanship to the tournament grounds, and essentially expressed a literary ideal of moral and courteous behaviour.

History

Origins in military ethos

Regardless of the diverse written definitions of chivalry, the medieval knightly class was adept at the art of war, trained in fighting in armor, with horses, lances, swords and shields. Knights were taught to excel in the arms, to show courage, to be gallant, loyal and to swear off cowardice and baseness.[2]

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