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Heroes And Heroines Of Chivalry

by William Patten

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The word chivalry is taken form the French cheval, a horse. A knight was young man, the son of a good family, who was allowed to wear arms. In the story “How the Child of the Sea was Made Knight,” we are told how a boy of twelve became a page to the queen, and in the opening pages of the story “The Adventures of Sir Gareth,” we get a glimpse of a young man growing up at the court of King Arthur. It was not an easy life, that of a boy who wished to become a knight, but it made a man of him.

To become a knight was almost as solemn an affair as it was to become a priest. Before the day of the ceremony he fasted, spent the night in prayer, confessed his sins, and received the Holy Sacrament. When morning came, clothed in white, to the church or hall, with a knight’s sword suspended from his neck. This the priest blessed and returned to him. Upon receiving back the sword he went and knelt before the presiding knight and took the oath of knighthood.

The knight’s real work, and greatest joy, was fighting for someone who needed his help. Tournaments and jousts gave them chances to show off their skill in public.

The same qualities that made a manful fighter then, makes one now: to speak the truth, to perform a promise to the utmost, to reverence all women, to be constant in love, to despise luxury, to be simple and modest and gentle in heart, to help the weak and take no unfair advantage of an inferior. This was the ideal of the age, and chivalry is the word that expresses that ideal.



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