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Knights of the Ring - Many modern people think of chivalry as referring to a man’s gallant treatment of women, and although that sense is deri

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Knights of the Ring

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Many modern people think of chivalry as referring to a man’s gallant treatment of women, and although that sense is derived from the medieval chivalric ideal, chivalry includes more than that. Broadly speaking, chivalry, derived from the old French term for a soldier mounted on horseback, was a knight’s code of conduct. There was no single set of chivalric rules, but the existence of popular medieval chivalric handbooks (two of the most famous are by Geffroi de Charny and Ramon Llull) testifies that chivalry was a well-known concept. Knights formed a distinct segment of medieval society, which was often thought of as being composed of three classes: those who pray (the clergy), those who fight (the nobility), and those who work (the peasants). Most knights belonged to the nobility, if only because a knight’s equipment—horses, weapons, armor—required considerable resources to fund. Violence, often bloody and horrific violence, was at the heart of what knights did. As highly skilled and well-armed fighting men, knights could be a force either for creating social chaos or for maintaining public order. The ideals of chivalry were an attempt to channel the knight’s potential for unrestrained mayhem into socially acceptable channels.

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