The 'Song of Roland' describes the 8th century Knights and battles of the Emperor Charlemagne and has been described as Charlemagne's Code of Chivalry. The idea of the Code of Chivalry were emphasised by the oaths that were sworn in Knighthood ceremonies. These sacred oaths were combined with the ideals of chivalry and with strict rules of etiquette and conduct. The idea and ideals of a Medieval Code of Chivalry was publicised in the poems, ballads, writings and literary works of Medieval authors. The myths of Arthurian Legends featuring King Arthur, Camelot and the Knights of the Round Table further strengthen the idea of a Medieval Code of Chivalry. The Arthurian legend revolves around the Code of Chivalry followed by the Knights of the Round Table - Honour, Honesty, Valour and Loyalty.
Medieval Code of Chivalry - the Oaths made during the Knighthood Ceremony
The entry into Knighthood was highly ritualised which started with a Night Vigil in the Chapel of the Castle
- The Knight swore an oath of allegiance to the lord and swore the following oaths:
- Never traffic with traitors
- Never give evil counsel to a lady, whether married or not; he must treat her with great respect and defend her against all
- To observe fasts and abstinences, and every day hear Mass and make an offering in Church
The Public ceremony of Knighthood followed a deeply religious ceremony with blessings from the Church to go forward and protect the church by the use of arms.
Medieval Code of Chivalry - the Crusades
The Church sanctified wars fought on behalf of the Church which were called Crusades. Every Crusader had to swear "to defend to his uttermost the weak, the orphan, the widow and the oppressed; he should be courteous, and women should receive his especial care". This further enhanced the ideals of the Code of Chivalry.
The Song of Roland - Charlemagne's Code of Chivalry
A Code of Chivalry was documented in 'The Song of Roland' in the early 11th Century Medieval period of William the Conqueror. The 'Song of Roland' describes the 8th Century Knights and battles of the Emperor Charlemagne and has been described as Charlemagne's Code of Chivalry. The duties of a Knight were described as follows:
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.