Medieval Code of Chivalry

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Medieval Code of Chivalry

  • The Medieval Code of Chivalry
  • The Oaths of the Knighthood ceremony
  • The Song of Roland - Charlemagne's Code of Chivalry
  • The Rules of Courtly Love in practice
  • Chivalry - a system of morals

Medieval Code of Chivalry

 
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The Medieval Code of Chivalry
There was not an authentic Medieval Code of Chivalry as such - it was a moral system which went beyond rules of combat and introduced the concept of Chivalrous conduct - qualities idealized by knighthood, such as bravery, courtesy, honor, and gallantry toward women. The Medieval Code of Chivalry was understood by all but a Code of Chivalry was documented in 'The Song of Roland' in the early 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 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.

Medieval Code of Chivalry - the Rules of Courtly Love
The following rules of Courtly Love were written by the 12th Century Frenchman, Andreas Capellanus. These 31 rules describe the pure romance of love but also describe love for another man's wife. This 'Courtly Love' is illustrated in the fictional story of Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere. But these rules of Courtly Love led to the downfall and execution of Queen Anne Boleyn, the wife of King Henry VIII - who lived his entire life putting in to practise the 'Rules of Courtly Love'.

I. Marriage is no real excuse for not loving.
II. He who is not jealous cannot love.
III. No one can be bound by a double love.
IV. It is well known that love is always increasing or decreasing.
V. That which a lover takes against the will of his beloved has no relish.
VI. Boys do not love until they arrive at the age of maturity.
VII. When one lover dies, a widowhood of two years is required of the survivor.
VIII. No one should be deprived of love without the very best of reasons.
IX. No one can love unless he is impelled by the persuasion of love.
X. Love is always a stranger in the home of avarice.
XI. It is not proper to love any woman whom one would be ashamed to seek to marry.
XII. A true lover does not desire to embrace in love anyone except his beloved.
XIII. When made public love rarely endures.
XIV. The easy attainment of love makes it of little value; difficulty of attainment makes it prized.
XV. Every lover regularly turns pale in the presence of his beloved.
XVI. When a lover suddenly catches sight of his beloved, his heart palpitates.
XVII. A new love puts to flight an old one.
XVIII. Good character alone makes any man worthy of love.
XIX. If love diminishes, it quickly fails and rarely revives.
XX. A man in love is always apprehensive.
XXI. Real jealousy always increases the feeling of love.
XXII. Jealousy, and therefore love, are increased when one suspects his beloved.
XXIII. He whom the thought of love vexes eats and sleeps very little.
XXIV. Every act of a lover ends in the thought of his beloved.
XXV. A true lover considers nothing good except what he thinks will please his beloved.
XXVI. Love can deny nothing to love.
XXVII. A lover can never have enough of the solaces of his beloved.
XXVIII. A slight presumption causes a lover to suspect his beloved.
XXIX. A man who is vexed by too much passion usually does not love.
XXX. A true lover is constantly and without intermission possessed by the thought of his beloved.
XXXI. Nothing forbids one woman being loved by two men or one man by two women.

Medieval Code of Chivalry
The chivalric virtues of the Medieval Code of Chivalry were described in the 14th Century by the Duke of Burgandy as faith, charity, justice, sagacity, prudence, temperance, resolution, truth, liberality, diligence, hope and valour. The Medieval Code of Chivalry.

Medieval Code of Chivalry

Medieval Code of Chivalry

  • The Medieval Code of Chivalry
  • The Oaths of the Knighthood ceremony
  • The Song of Roland - Charlemagne's Code of Chivalry
  • The Rules of Courtly Love

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