Tuesday, August 3, 2010

My Knight In Shining Armour

My Knight In Shining Armour

How often has that term been used as the epitome of the perfect man? It conjures up an image of the knight on horseback racing to the rescue of a damsel in distress, and with one foul swoop defeats all foes before him, assails the castle walls and rescues his queen to a life of happy ever after. Wow!

In Medieval times, Chivalry was the code by which all noble knights were governed. Only those of honourable birth and standing could take up the office.

13th Century conventions of chivalry directed that men should honor, serve, and do nothing to displease ladies and maidens. Knights were members of the noble class socially as bearers of arms, economically as owners of horse and armor, and officially through religious-oriented ceremony.

More than a code of manners in war and love, Chivalry was a moral system, governing the whole of noble life...—Barbara W. Tuchman, A Distant Mirror

Whilst I recognize that times have changed, some for the good and some for the bad, I can’t help but feel society as a whole has become far too familiar with itself. The pursuit of equality and parity has robbed us of innocence and honour. Not so long ago I kept the door held open whilst leaving a store for the following customer, (which happened to be a female). She cursed at me and was clearly livid at the prospect of a male treating her as inferior. I was doing what I always do, using my manners. Are we so full of our plight, that any offer of humanity is perceived as being superior?

The institution of chivalry forms one of the most remarkable features in the history of the middle Ages. Horatio Alger

I wonder whether our society has changed so much that the difference between the sexes is now seen purely as one of superiority or inferiority. There is a great quote “No one can make you feel inferior without your permission”. Inferiority is never overcome by imposing ones superiority on another. Chivalry, gallantry, honour, respect, defender, protector, are those virtues really so bad? Do females no longer dream of having someone to provide honour and treat them with respect as a fair maiden?

Some say that the age of chivalry is past, that the spirit of romance is dead. The age of chivalry is never past, so long as there is a wrong left un-redressed on earth. Charles Kingsley

You who long for the Knightly Order,
It is fitting you should lead a new life;
Devoutly keeping watch in prayer,
Fleeing from sin, pride and villainy;
The Church defending,
The Widows and Orphans succouring.
Be bold and protect the people,
Be loyal and valiant, taking nothing from others.
Thus should a Knight rule himself.

He should be humble of heart and always work,
And follow Deeds of Chivalry.;
Be loyal in war and travel greatly;
He should frequent tourneys and joust for his Lady Love;
He must keep honor with all,
So that he cannot be held to blame.
No cowardice should be found in his doings,
Above all, he should uphold the weak,
Thus should a Knight rule himself.
— Eustace Deschamps

I can’t help but feel that most men have in-built within them, the desire to protect and provide. Perhaps this is the reason for their pursuit of knightly orders and contact sports. Since all the dragons are slew and maidens no longer desire (or would tolerate) being rescued, gallantry is no longer a code to live by, but fuel to be used in defense of how more enlightened we are today. No knights, no damsels, no dragons, no heroes, no vanquished foe, no chivalry.

The age of chivalry has gone; the age of humanity has come. - Charles Sumner