The Chivalric Code

King Arthur by Charles Ernest Butler

The medieval code of chivalry is something that was developed and followed by royal knights and kings during the middle ages.   There were several tenets of the code of chivalry.

The code of chivalry as listed on medieval-life-and-times.info is as listed below:

  • To fear God and maintain His Church
  • To serve the liege lord in valour and faith
  • To protect the weak and defenceless
  • To give succour to widows and orphans
  • To refrain from the wanton giving of offence
  • To live by honour and for glory
  • To despise pecuniary reward
  • To fight for the welfare of all
  • To obey those placed in authority
  • To guard the honour of fellow knights
  • To eschew unfairness, meanness and deceit
  • To keep faith
  • At all times to speak the truth
  • To persevere to the end in any enterprise begun
  • To respect the honour of women
  • Never to refuse a challenge from an equal
  • Never to turn the back upon a foe

This particular code of chivalry was detailed in The Song of Roland.    I have directly quoted this from the website listed above!   The code of chivalry was incredibly important to the Knights of the Round Table in the Arthurian legends.   In the medieval period the chivalric code became something important to royals and their courts.   Just as the tenets of courtly love were used in actual royal courts, the chivalric code was used by actual royals for their knights!

It is important to remember just how influential medieval literature was on the ruling classes of societies.   They would grow up reading these books and would mirror their lives on the morals and rules found in these tales!   

Kings like Edward IV and his grandson Henry VIII utilized the chivalric code in how they presented themselves.   Both of them were inspired by and used the Arthurian legends to show their power.   Similarly Henry VII used a claim of descent from King Arthur to solidify his claim to the throne of England!   He and his queen even named their first born Arthur, but he would die at 15 and his brother would become Henry VIII!

I hope that you enjoyed this post on the Medieval Code of Chivalry. Let me know your thoughts on The Chivalric Code in the comments!

Note on Image: The image at the top of the post is King Arthur by Charles Ernest Butler.   I found the image on wikimedia.org.  

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