is for Knights… And most of us have a mental image of a knight and what we believe he looks like. Dressed in beautiful armour and often with a splendidly plumed helmet…he roams the country (on his silvery maned and tailed white stallion of course) rescuing damsels…(who are usually tied to huge oak trees) from the fire-breathing dragon.
The typical knight Sans Peur Et Sans Reproche
Frankly, I’d like to see the dragon win sometimes and run off with said drippy damsel. But that would not be in the romantic tradition of these stories; and so, after Sir Knight has killed the poor dragon and untied the maiden from the tree, she’ll throw herself at his booted and spurred feet in gratitude.
He’ll throw her across his saddle and off they’ll ride into a glorious sun set to live happily ever after…..or not.
While Miss Drippy sat at her embroidery frame or sat on a window seat singing and accompanying herself on a beribboned lute, Mr Knight would be off with his mates to help rid Jerusalem (or The Land of Christ) of Islam and return it to Christian sovereignty. In other words….he was off on a crusade or Holy War.
The Pope bestowed the title of Christian Warriors on these crusaders and in so doing he had begun the evolution of the code of conduct that all knights were supposed to follow. The Chivalric Code.
To protect the poor, women, children and the defence of the church were just some of the chivalry codes that our knight was supposed to always obey. He was also damned lucky if he was captured in battle or during a siege. Nobles and knights who were taken prisoner were often held for ransom in reasonably comfortable quarters. However, non-knights, archers, foot soldiers and peasants were usually slaughtered as the same code of conduct did not apply to them.
But….however well intended the chivalric code was, most knights remained unaffected by it and they plundered, slaughtered and looted when the chance arose. Most probably, our knight joined in with gusto, and ravaged a few dusky maidens as well.
Our modern notion of knights is based on the idea of chivalry, and the romantic writings from long ago which do tend to represent knights as the chivalrous ideal. It’s how we like to think of and imagine the medieval knight.
So…good night Sir Knight.