chivalry

is it dead?

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Let me give you a little history on chivalry and the chivalric code.

Chivalry, or the chivalric code, is the traditional code of conduct associated with the medieval institution of knighthood. Chivalry arose from an idealized German custom. Over time its meaning has been refined to emphasize more ideals such as the knightly virtues of honor, courtly love, courtesy, and less martial aspects of the tradition.

The Knight’s Code of Chivalry was a moral system that stated all knights should protect others who can not protect themselves, such as widows, children, and elders. All knights needed to have the strength and skills to fight wars in the Middle Ages; they not only had to be strong but they were also extremely disciplined and were expected to use their power to protect the weak and defenseless.

Knights vowed to be loyal, generous, and “of noble bearing”. Knights were required to tell the truth at all times and always respect the honor of women. Knights not only vowed to protect the weak but also vowed to guard the honor of all fellow knights. They always had to obey those who were placed in authority and were never allowed to refuse a challenge from an equal. Knights lived by honor and for glory. Knights were to fear God and maintain His Church. Knights always kept their faith and never turned their back on a foe.

Now we describe chivalry as:

having the qualities of chivalry, as courage, courtesy, and loyalty; valiant.
considerate and courteous to women; gallant.
gracious; generous, esp. toward the less fortunate.

I would argue that most people think the days of gentleman, knights in shining armor and chivalry are dead; however, I don’t think that’s the case at all. Sure I believe in equal rights, but it’s not about that (which is usually the argument). If you are going out on a date (with a new person or your current one) there still needs to be respect. There should still be excitement. “Woo-ing” should still happen. A few of my friends are back in the dating game, and they think it is absolutely preposterous that I tell them the man should pay on the first date. In my opinion, of course he should. He should be trying to impress you and most of all he should be a gentleman. You get the first one and I will pay for the one after that.

I was brought up to expect “gentlemanly” behaviors and manners: Men open doors for women, men walk on the street-side of the sidewalk, and men always pay for dates. Now let me tell you, I have snatched up a fellow who does all (and more) of these things. Ladies, there is still hope–they’re out there. When a check comes, I always offer to pay which he takes me up on every once in a blue moon, but more often than not declines politely.

As our modern lives may have changed and so has chivalry. With that it has also changed what we expect, and know we deserve. Chivalry is not dead. The definition has simply changed. Maybe I am a hopeless romantic, because I uphold men to the “good ol’ boy” standards of generations past.

What are your thoughts? Is it dead? How has it changed? What makes it different now?