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The Code of Chivalry

My good blade carves the casques of men,
My tough lance thrusteth sure,
My strength is as the strength of ten,
Because my heart is pure.

Therefor I vow:
  • 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 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


 

The virtues of chivalry offer more than pleasantries and politeness. They give purpose and meaning to male strength, and therefore support the overall workings of society. They remind us that Camelot is an ideal worth striving for, the reflection of who we are when we are at our best.

Here is a short summary:

Truth provides the foundation of chivalry. A man who lies cannot be trusted. His strength and ambitions cannot be esteemed. Truth should always remain our greatest concern.

Loyalty denotes a relationship that is based on truth and commitment. If we are fortunate, we have companions who are loyal to us—but we must be loyal to others as well. Remember, loyalty is a virtue to cultivate, even when it is not reciprocated.

Courtesy provides the means for cordial and meaningful relationships. A society cannot be healthy without courteous interaction. We sometimes admire people who trample on courtesy to get what they want—unfortunately, the contentious world they create is very disappointing, and we all have to live in it.

Chivalry calls men to honor women, and to serve as their helpmates. This precept merely states the natural order of things. Men should honor women first as indiviudals, but also as the conduits and nurturers of life. That certain men commit violence against women, or treat them with disrespect, is an outrage against nature, and a slight against manhood.

Justice involves little more than treating people fairly. It also calls for mercy. We all make mistakes. We admire men who are strong, but if their strength is not directed to uphold what is good, what value does it have? We are called to use our strength to defend those who cannot defend themselves, and commit ourselves to just causes.

Nothing is more unmanly and corruptive to society than delighting in scandal and gossip. Not only do you harm those who are victims of gossip, you harm yourself as well. How? By becoming a creature who is unloving. It is wrong to delight in the guilt or suffering of others, or to feed the flames of scandal, a major occupation of nightly television. No one is perfect. That fact in itself unites us all.

Chivalry also speaks about romantic love. People today often find romantic love disappointing. It promises more than it delivers, especially in regards to permanence. Why? Because we perceive romantic love as something spontaneous, something that does not demand work and a strong moral base. Medieval literature tells us quite the opposite. The very essence of romantic love is commitment. This is where chivalry provides a vital ingredient. Love relationships provide the laboratory where the virtues of chivalry are tested to their fullest, and manliness is proved. An added bonus shows that proper love encourages us to do our best in all things.


Prowess:
To seek excellence in all endeavors expected of a knight, martial and otherwise, seeking strength to be used in the service of justice, rather than in personal aggrandizement.

Justice:
Seek always the path of 'right', unencumbered by bias or personal interest. Recognize that the sword of justice can be a terrible thing, so it must be tempered by humanity and mercy. If the 'right' you see rings agrees with others, and you seek it out without bending to the temptation for expediency, then you will earn renown beyond measure.

Loyalty:
Be known for unwavering commitment to the people and ideals you choose to live by. There are many places where compromise is expected; loyalty is not amongst them.

Defense:
The ideal knight was sworn by oath to defend his liege lord and those who depended upon him. Seek always to defend your nation, your family, and those to whom you believe worthy of loyalty.

Courage:
Being a knight often means choosing the more difficult path, the personally expensive one. Be prepared to make personal sacrifices in service of the precepts and people you value. At the same time, a knight should seek wisdom to see that stupidity and courage are cousins. Courage also means taking the side of truth in all matters, rather than seeking the expedient lie. Seek the truth whenever possible, but remember to temper justice with mercy, or the pure truth can bring grief.

Faith:
A knight must have faith in his beliefs, for faith roots him and gives hope against the despair that human failings create.

Humility:
Value first the contributions of others; do not boast of your own accomplishments, let others do this for you. Tell the deeds of others before your own, according them the renown rightfully earned through virtuous deeds. In this way the office of knighthood is well done and glorified, helping not only the gentle spoken of but also all who call themselves knights.

Largesse:
Be generous in so far as your resources allow; largesse used in this way counters gluttony. It also makes the path of mercy easier to discern when a difficult decision of justice is required.

Nobility:
Seek great stature of character by holding to the virtues and duties of a knight, realizing that though the ideals cannot be reached, the quality of striving towards them ennobles the spirit, growing the character from dust towards the heavens. Nobility also has the tendency to influence others, offering a compelling example of what can be done in the service of rightness.

Franchise:
Seek to emulate everything I have spoken of as sincerely as possible, not for the reason of personal gain but because it is right. Do not restrict your exploration to a small world, but seek to infuse every aspect of your life with these qualities. Should you succeed in even a tiny measure then you will be well remembered for your quality and virtue.

 

  1. Thou shalt avoid avarice like the deadly pestilence and shalt embrace its opposite.
  2. Thou shalt keep thyself chaste for the sake of her whom thou lovest.
  3. Thou shalt not knowingly strive to break up a correct love affair that someone else is engaged in.
  4. Thou shalt not chose for thy love anyone whom a natural sense of shame forbids thee to marry.
  5. Be mindful completely to avoid falsehood.
  6. Thou shalt not have many who know of thy love affair.
  7. Being obedient in all things to the commands of ladies, thou shalt ever strive to ally thyself to the service of Love.
  8. In giving and receiving love's solaces let modesty be ever present.
  9. Thou shalt speak no evil.
  10. Thou shalt not be a revealer of love affairs.
  11. Thou shalt be in all things polite and courteous.
  12. In practising the solaces of love thou shalt not exceed the desires of thy lover.
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