I have always been fascinated by the image of the "knight in shining armor," and I'm sure I'm not alone. Who hasn't wondered what it was really like to live the life of a knight? Just what was a knight? What did it take to become one, and what were his duties and responsibilities? What forces influenced his behavior and steered the course of his life? I chose this topic because, as knighthood grew, a Christian ideal of knightly behavior came to be recognized, involving reverence for the church, protection of the poor and vulnerable, devotion to one's feudal or military superiors, and maintenance of personal honor, all of which are virtues I cherish. I was always fascinated by knights simply because they were famed for their mastery of horses. Mercy, humility, honor, sacrifice, fidelity, courage, greatest graciousness, and courtesy toward ladies were all part of a knight's code of behavior. Naturally, as commanders of armies, knights were responsible for some of the most important conflicts of the Middle Ages, both winning and losing. They did, however, make history in other ways. Many held key religious and military posts. More than bravado or bluster, a knight must have the fortitude of the heart to perform tough, tedious, or unglamorous jobs, and to gracefully accept the sacrifices entailed, which is something we should all remember in our daily lives. I appreciate the Middle Ages because it demonstrates how we become who we are as people of European origin. Everything from food to religion to anti-religion is covered. We were mediaeval for a lot longer than we are now, but we prefer to see it as a humiliating past, or a great grandpa with a neckbeard, while forgetting that it was a more successful culture in terms of durability than ours is. What made the Middle Ages so significant was that population increase, the blossoming of cities and farms, the creation of merchant classes, and the development of administrative bureaucracies were all part of the period's cultural and economic rebirth. Meanwhile, hundreds more knights responded to the church's invitation to join the Crusades.
In this paper, I will analyze the origins, significance, and decline of chivalry. The ancient Knights were a highly revered elite in mediaeval culture. Because of their sense of honor and duty, they were looked up to by serfs and peasants and admired by aristocrats. They were the Church's soldiers, and they battled to maintain the law. Knights guarded God, the Church, and the sick, elderly, and disabled. They struggled to protect their people's and Lord's honor. Knights fought in battles to protect the honor of the people and their master. Knights were subjected to rigorous training beginning at an early age and frequently continuing into maturity. They were united by chivalry, a rigid code of honor. Eventually rather than hail to a lord knights formed their own orders. Shortly after knighthood declined.
Chivalry is a theological, moral, and social code that helped separate the upper classes from those below them and offered a mechanism for knights to gain a favorable reputation in order to advance in their employment and personal relationships.
The term knight is derived from the ancient English word cnight, which meant a household retainer. The English used this term to designate the French cavalry that arrived in England following the Norman invasions of 1066. At the time, knights were just warriors trained to battle on horseback. They had little social standing at the time, and anybody who wanted to may become a knight. During times of peace, a knight would frequently do household services for his lord.
When a squire was promoted to knighthood, one of the pledges he took was to defend the code of chivalry, a moral code that knights were required to obey. Many parts of a knight's life were regulated by its norms, which included etiquette, loyalty, honor, and courtly love. The High Middle Ages were known as the Age of Chivalry. Unfortunately, not all knights were decent men, and many are documented in history as being dishonorable, harsh, or cowardly.
A squire is generally made a knight at the age of twenty. Either he or his lord would have shown himself in war. Would have determined that he was worthy of knighthood. After an elaborate ceremony, a squire would be elevated to the rank of knight. He would begin by cleansing himself for a day and a night via prayer and fasting. He would then confess his faults to a priest, bathe, and put on a white garment to symbolize his purity. He would drape a robe over this tunic to indicate his willingness to shed blood for God and his king. His shoes and hose, or tights, were also black, representing death.
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