Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Can Chivalry Return?

From Charles Coulombe:
Knighthood was the state of being an armored warrior on horseback, in the days when cannon and rifles had not yet banished those worthies from the battlefield. Chivalry was the code by which they attempted to live. Both were the result of marrying the Catholic Faith to Roman civilisation and the Germanic martial ardour that conquered that civilisation. To put it another way, it was the Christianisation of war. As Leon Gautier put it in his masterful work, Chivalry: “Chivalry is the Christian form of the military profession: the knight is the Christian soldier.” The Crusades had the effect of crystallising the chivalric institution, as did such practices as the Truce and the Peace of God, the knighting ceremony (a version of which found its way into the Roman Pontificale), and membership in the military orders. These latter — the Templars (later dissolved, but whose Portuguese and Aragonese branches survived), Knights Hospitaller (later of Malta), and Teutonic Order, to name a few — were regular religious orders whose vocation was to the battlefield, as others are to contemplation, teaching, or missionary work. Impressed by their work and loyalty to the Faith, late medieval kings gathered their own royal orders of knights around their persons. Moreover, as the centuries wound on, knighthood — which had been open to any proficient in arms and willing to observe the code of chivalry, and which could be conferred by any other knight, bishop, or sovereign — became ever more exclusive. More and ever more, it was conferred solely on those of noble or gentle birth by a monarch. The latter came to be sole fons honorum for his country, and many coronation rites symbolised this role by the conferring of spurs upon the new King. This was of course one of the many symptoms of the transformation of feudal Europe intonation-states. A parallel development was the arrival of gunpowder that drove the knight off the battlefield. (Read more.)

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