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8-08-2015, 14:25

The Code of Chivalry

The Church attempted to regulate this rather violent society, and eventually a code of honor evolved known as the code of chivalry. (The word chivalry comes from the Latin word for horse, caballus, as does the word cavalry.) Those who aspired to be knights had to have aristocratic ancestors and wealth enough to own warhorses and armor and to provide for a team of supporters. After years of training, a young man became a knight—his status as a noble, mounted warrior confirmed by a ritual that included solemn oaths and vigils. The knight swore to live by a Christian code of conduct, to honor and protect the Church, the weak and elderly, and especially women. He was expected to behave courteously, generously, and graciously. Knights displayed their athletic and military skills in tournaments, which were in effect mock battles. Favorite forms of recreation were hunting with horses, hounds, and falcons and board games like chess, which was part of the warrior’s training in strategy. Eventually knights—encouraged by royal and noble ladies like Eleanor of Aquitaine—became courtiers, attendants at the royal court, well versed in the civilian arts of music, poetry, and polite conversation.