Chivalry’s origins come from afar medieval. In dark times of the Middle Ages when people had to survive in multiple civil wars followed by hunger and plague, they needed something that could bring their spirit up. That was the moment when the institution of knighthood appeared. The main principles of chivalry included honor, dignity, courage, and necessity to serve own fatherland with loyalty and devotion. Some people think that ideology of chivalry has died with metal armor and fighting on swords a long time ago. But there are many cases that prove the opposite point of view. Even in modern society principles of chivalry have found their own place. Let’s try to define what ideas came to us from the Middle Ages and how they are presented in our time.
“Chivalry is only a name for that general spirit or state of mind which disposes men to heroic actions, and keeps them conversant with all that is beautiful and sublime in the intellectual and moral world” (Digby 26). To my mind, this definition describes chivalry very precisely. From this perspective we could apply the ideas of chivalry to modern society. A knight is not necessarily a warrior in shiny armor. An ordinary office clerk could be a knight in sense of his inner qualities and his deeds. A modern knight is a generous and honest man who respects himself and the others and is always ready to help someone in need. I believe this kind of people still exists in our days and such words like dignity and honor are not just some meaningless sounds.
Chivalry, in a more classic way of meaning, found its expression in modern role-playing games. People all around the world entertain themselves gathering a few times a year for some special occasion referred to medieval and institution of knighthood. These meetings include such activities as fighting on swords, knight tournaments and wide range of different contests, related to medieval legends and lifestyle. But these games are not only entertainment. Players try to represent the ideology of chivalry treating its principles very seriously and want to prove that honor and dignity are not just meaningless words in modern society. Many of these people act like true knights not only in role-playing games, but in their private lives too. Some of them prove their dignity trying to get their own Excalibur and some fight for honor to love their Emily.
Everyone knows at least one legend about a noble knight King Arthur and the Knights of Round Table. Most of the early legends of King Arthur come from Welsh sources, between the 8th and 10th century. The earliest mention of this famous character may be in “Y Gododdin” by Aneirin, a collection of elegies commemorating the fallen heroes of a battle at Catraeth. Though many historical facts prove that King Arthur was just a fiction character and not a real person, I truly believe that this kind of man could exist even if he does not carry a sword with him. “Knights were taught to excel in the arms, to show courage, to be gallant and loyal and to swear off cowardice and baseness” (Jones 73). According to “The Song of Roland”, a true knight must follow such rules as to protect the weak and defenseless, to live by honor and for glory, to eschew unfairness, meanness and deceit, to respect the honor of women. It is just a few entries of the Knights Code of Chivalry. I am sure that even in our cruel world full of greediness and unfairness there are such men who are able to follow such simple but at the same time very important rules as presented in the Knights Code of Chivalry.
Unfortunately, nowadays we could see a lot of suffering and injustice around us and there is not much that we can do about it. But as long as the chivalry exists in people’s minds there is a chance that things could be different. Helping an orphaned child or telling the truth instead of covering the undignified person with lies is a brave deed that is worth a true knight. That is how chivalry reveals itself in our time. The knighthood will not die while it lives in people’s hearts. The truth is that all of us perform their own little feats every day of our lives and it proves once again that chivalry is not dead yet and its principles could function successfully in modern world.
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