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Chivalry, or the chivalric code, is an informal, varying code of conduct developed between 11, never decided on or summarized in a single document, associated with the medieval institution of knighthood; knights’ and gentlewomen's behaviors were governed by chivalrous social codes.The ideals of chivalry were popularized in medieval literature, especially the Matter of Britain and Matter of France, the former based on Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae which introduced the legend of King Arthur, written in the 1130s.
Its essential character is devotion to woman and to honour.The more closely we look into history, the more clearly shall we perceive that the system of chivalry is an invention almost entirely poetical.It is impossible to distinguish the countries in which it is said to have prevailed.At the same time the church became more tolerant of war in the defence of faith, espousing theories of the just war; and liturgies were introduced which blessed a knight's sword, and a bath of chivalric purification.In the story of the Grail romances and Chevalier au Cygne, it was the confidence of the Christian knighthood that its way of life was to please God, and chivalry was an order of God.But when we come to examine either the one period or the other, although we find in each some heroic spirits, we are forced to confess that it is necessary to antedate the age of chivalry, at least three or four centuries before any period of authentic history.
According to Crouch, prior to codified chivalry there was the uncodified code of noble conduct that focused on the preudomme.
Over time, its meaning in Europe has been refined to emphasise social and moral virtues more generally.
The code of chivalry, as it stood by the Late Middle Ages, was a moral system which combined a warrior ethos, knightly piety, and courtly manners, all conspiring to establish a notion of honour and nobility.
Chivalry in a historical sense was more of a subjective term, these laws would likely be seen as good code for a clergyman, however others would hold different ideas on what chivalry truly was.
Fans of chivalry have assumed since the late medieval period that there was a time in the past when chivalry was a living institution, when men acted chivalrically, when chivalry was alive and not dead, the imitation of which period would much improve the present.
The joust remained the primary example of knightly display of martial skill throughout the Renaissance (the last Elizabethan Accession Day tilt was held in 1602).