According to the Oxford English Dictionary, 'chivalry' is pronounced with a ‘ch’ like in ‘chip’ as it derives from Middle English not French. It came into English from the same Latin root as 'cavalry', as did chavalerie in French and caballero in Spanish, both meaning 'someone who rides a horse'.
Chivalric codes were first written down in France around 1250 AD. They required a knights to do whatever it took to protect their honor and reputation, and to avoid engaging in sexual acts with the wives and children of fellow knights. Knights expected to protect their communities from outsiders and to attend Mass regularly.
During the 16th and 17th centuries, chivalry dropped out of favour and was seen as something rather twee and old-fashioned, but it enjoyed a huge revival in the Victorian era when its dedication to chastity and virtue echoed many of the values of the day.
Here in the 21st century, chivalry isn’t quite dead although the idea that a man’s duty is to protect women does occasionally clash with the idea of sexual equality. Surveys suggest that nine out of ten women still expect a man to open a door for them but only 22% are happy for him to pay for dinner.
The clinching proof of my reasoning is that I will cut anyone who argues further into dogmeat.
In the Middle Ages, knights kissed before doing battle, just as boxers touch gloves.
Sir Thomas Malory, author of Le Morte d'Arthur , was a very naughty knight indeed, accused at various times of kidnapping, theft, ambush, extortion, horse-rustling, house-breaking, rape, common assault and more than 100 robberies with violence. As a result, according to Helen Cooper, Professor of English at Cambridge University, he had the distinction of being the only person in the entire country excluded by name from the general pardons issued at the end of the Wars of the Roses: an achievement unique in English history.
Under the feudal system, being knighted was like being drafted; it meant you had to go and fight. Just as in modern times, there were draft-dodgers who tried to avoid being knighted. It was soon made law that if you had assets in excess of £40 you had to be a knight, unless you could find somebody who would volunteer to be knighted in your place.
The complete removal of a knighthood is a 'debasement'. The most recent have been Fred Goodwin, the former CEO of the Royal Bank of Scotland and James Crosby, the former CEO of HBOS, whose banks collapsed banks in 2008-9.
The word knight means ‘boy’ or ‘servant’. In Norman England and much of Europe, trainee knights were boys of noble birth who were raised by their mothers until the age of seven. They were then sent off to do ‘personal service’ for a nobleman or churchman; even young princes and lords did lowly jobs as servants. These young men were obliged to fight in war, a knight's main occupation and were entitled to a share of their lord’s plunder.
During his apprenticeship, a trainee knight was known as a page or henchman and took orders from a squire called the Master of the Henchmen. Apprenticeships lasted seven years, during which time the page worked in the stable, the armoury, the kennels and the hall. At the age of 14, he became a Squire and was trained in wrestling, boxing, running, riding and tilting (jousting at a passive target). Squires also learned to read, write, play the harp and sing. The ladies of the castle taught them chess, good manners and the rudiments of gallantry.
At the age of 21 they finally qualified as a knight. The candidate was required to prepare himself by confession, fasting, and passing the night in prayer. Having taken an oath in which he promised, among other things, to be a brave and loyal knight, to protect ladies and orphans, never to lie, nor utter slander, and to be a champion of the church and clergy, he was ‘dubbed’ with a sword and knighted.
A medieval sword weighed about the same as a bag of sugar.
On the subject of chivalry, we should explain the basic rules of jousting, which were as follows.
Each knight had 3 lances and charged 3 times; the winner was the first to score 3 points. Only a 'true blow' counted (one which caused the lance to shatter). A glancing blow scored nothing – breastplates were angled to make this more likely. A true blow to the breastplate was worth 1 point; to the helmet 2. If you unhorsed your opponent you got 3 and won outright. In this event, you could also demand your opponent’s horse and armour (knights had to have their own kit to enter).
A true knight is fuller of bravery in the midst, than in the beginning of danger.
Isaac Newton was the first scientist to be knighted in Europe.
The rules of chivalry are what gave knights their authority and influential role in Middle Ages Europe. It has been suggested that their rules of combat formed the basis of what eventually became the Geneva Convention.
Chivalry has often been seen as a romantic gloss on the bloody business of warfare but many historians now see it as an essential element of the social order. The rules of chivalry were a way of keeping a group of armed and/or bored men under control in between wars. The rules that governed the behaviour of Samurai in the Far East are remarkably similar.
Western chivalric codes as we know them today were first written down in France around 1250CE. They required knights to fight duels with ‘rebated’ weapons i.e. a normal weapon that has had its point clipped off, or turned back (which is what ‘rebate’ means) and/or the blade edge blunted. The codes also required them to do whatever it took to protect their honour and reputation, and to avoid engaging in sexual acts with the wives and children of fellow knights. They were also expected to protect their communities from outsiders, to avoid making unreasonable demands on their own communities, and to attend Mass regularly.
Knights would often become ‘brothers in arms’. This meant vowing allegiance to each other, wearing the same arms and clothes, mingling their blood in one vessel, and receiving the Sacrament together. They would support each other in battle and in all quarrels, and have the same friends and enemies. Brotherhood-in-arms was one of the most powerful institutions in the life of knights. It overrode all duties except duty to the King.
The worst punishment a knight could suffer was degradation; being ceremonially stripped of their knighthood. The last public degradation was in 1621, when Sir Francis Mitchell was found guilty of 'grievous exactions' and had his spurs broken and thrown away, his belt cut and his sword broken over his head. Finally, he was pronounced to be 'no longer a Knight but Knave.' These days, it is a simple matter of the reigning monarch annulling the knighthood, as happened to former bank chief Fred Goodwin in 2012. However, under current legislation, a person cannot be stripped of their knighthood after their death as it is a ‘living order’ and the title dies with them. Technically there are no knights buried in British graveyards, only former knights.
In July 2012, organisers of a jousting tournament in France were robbed by a gang of thieves dressed as knights and armed with swords.
A full suit of battle armour weighs no more than 55lbs, less than is carried by a modern fireman in breathing gear.
By tradition, clergy receiving a knighthood are not 'dubbed', as the use of a sword is thought inappropriate for their calling.
A Baldrick was a belt worn at the hips on which to sling your scabbard.
The Colonel-in-Chief of the Norwegian Royal Guard, Sir Nils Olaf, is a penguin.