The Featued Image of Knights Code of Chivalry

Knights Code of Chivalry: A Medieval Guide to Honour, Loyalty, and Courage

The Knight’s Code of Chivalry is a fascinating and ageless notion that has captivated people’s minds throughout history. It is a collection of norms and principles that controlled knightly behaviour in medieval Europe, stressing values like honour, loyalty, courage, and humility. The code served as both a guide for soldiers and a way of life that mirrored the aspirations of a noble and equitable society.

What is Chivalry?

Chivalry is a collection of beliefs and activities connected with medieval knights. The name “chivalry” is derived from the Old French phrase “chevalerie,” which translates as “knighthood.” It was created in the 12th century as a code of behaviour for knights to follow daily.

What is the Knights’s Code of Chivalry

Around the 12th century, medieval Europe saw the birth of the Knights Code of Chivalry. Knights were the top fighters in their society at the time, and they were critical in protecting the feudal system and maintaining law and order. But, as knights’ authority and influence expanded, so did the need for a code of conduct to control their actions.
Knights were required to exhibit the attributes of courage, loyalty, and honour, as well as to maintain the Christian faith’s principles. The Knight’s Code of Chivalry also included a significant romantic component, with knights supposed to be courteous and gallant in their interactions with ladies. Many stories of courtly love and chivalric romance have been inspired by this feature of chivalry.

Code of Chivalry in the Dark Ages

The Dark Ages were a period of enormous upheaval and instability in Europe, lasting from the fall of the Roman Empire in the fifth century until the beginning of the High Middle Ages in the eleventh century. The practice of chivalry was not completely evolved during this period, and the notion of knighthood was still in its early beginnings.
Even throughout the Dark Ages, though, fighters were still expected to preserve certain beliefs and standards. Ideals like courage, loyalty, and honour were among them. Warriors were required to protect the weak and defenceless while defending their people and territory.

Code of Chivalry – The Song of Roland

Knights Code of Chivalry
Knights Code of Chivalry, by Hans Splinter is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

The Song of Roland is one of the most famous literary works documenting the Knight’s Code of Chivalry. The Song of Roland is an epic poem that relates the narrative of Roland, a renowned French warrior who died in the Battle of Roncevaux Pass. The poem, written in Old French in the 11th or 12th centuries, is regarded as a classic of medieval literature.
The Song of Roland depicts the virtues and ideals of chivalry in graphic detail. Roland is presented as the perfect knight, a warrior eager to give his life for his king’s and nation’s sake.
The Song of Roland also depicts women’s roles in chivalry. Women are shown as a source of inspiration for knights, and their beauty and elegance are emphasised as important aspects of the chivalric ideal. The poem depicts Roland’s love and devotion to his lover, Alda, as a noble and pure manifestation of chivalric romance.

Knights Code of Chivalry and Vows of Knighthood

The particular vows of the Knight’s Code of Chivalry varied according to period and place. Still, they typically contained the following:

  • Loyalty: Knights were required to be faithful to their masters and carry out their responsibilities with honour and honesty.
  • Courage: In combat, knights were supposed to be courageous and confront danger and hardship with strength and resolve.
  • Justice: It was demanded that knights obey the law and defend the poor and defenceless against injustice and oppression.
  • Courtesy: Knights were supposed to treat others with respect and attention, particularly ladies and those of inferior status.
  • Piety: Knights were supposed to be devoted Christians who followed the Church’s precepts.

The pledges of the Knight’s Code of Chivalry are embodied in the character of Roland, the hero of the narrative, in the Song of Roland, a medieval epic poem. Roland makes the following commitments:

  • To be faithful to his lord, King Charlemagne, and to serve him honourably and honestly.
  • To be courageous and bold in combat and to face death with dignity and courage.
  • To defend the poor and defenceless against injustice and to maintain justice.
  • To be kind and respectful to others, particularly ladies and those of lower positions.
  • To uphold his honour and reputation and to always behave with integrity and honesty.
  • Being a sincere Christian and adhering to the Church’s doctrines.

Knights Code of Chivalry Described By The Duke of Burgandy

In the late 15th century, the Duke of Burgundy characterised the Knight’s Code of Chivalry as having 10 qualities. Each of these characteristics was represented in the life of a medieval knight and influenced their behaviour in war and daily life:

  • Faith
  • Charity
  • Justice
  • Sagacity
  • Prudence
  • Temperance
  • Resolution
  • Truth
  • Liberality
  • Diligence

Chivalry and Christianity

The Church wielded considerable authority and influence over society during the medieval period, especially the nobles and knights.
Knighthood rituals were frequently held in the presence of clerics, and knights were compelled to take pledges of devotion and service to their ruler and the Church. Because it was considered that a knight’s standing as a warrior should be accompanied by a sense of religious devotion and piety, the Church played an important part in bestowing knighthood.
Knights were also obliged to attend religious events and festivals throughout the year, and they frequently contributed large sums of money and property to the Church.
In return, the Church imparted spiritual instructions, support, and blessings to knights, establishing that chivalry was more than a civil status.

End of Chivalry

When social and political conditions in Europe began to deteriorate, the practice of chivalry began to diminish in the late medieval period. During the Hundred Years’ War, the introduction of gunpowder weapons and changes in warfare had a crucial influence in weakening the code of chivalry, as knights found themselves increasingly unable to combat on the battlefield against soldiers equipped with cannons.
The emergence of the mercenary system and the demise of feudalism aided in the decline of chivalry. Mercenaries were frequently hired to fight instead of knights, considered too expensive and inefficient to be the dominant military force. As a result, the knight’s position in society began to wane, as did his or her rank and influence.
The Renaissance also contributed to the demise of chivalry since the humanist movement emphasised individualism and secularism above the communal and spiritual virtues of chivalry.
In addition to these considerations, political unrest and instability in Europe during this period aided in the decline of chivalry. The Hundred Years’ War and earlier battles had a catastrophic influence on European countries’ social and economic institutions. The feudal structure collapsed as a result, as did the authority and influence of the nobles, especially knights.


In medieval Europe, the Knight’s Code of Chivalry was a set of standards and principles governing knightly behaviour. The code stressed principles like honour, loyalty, courage, and humility, and it functioned as a guide for troops as well as a way of life that reflected the ambitions of a noble and egalitarian society. The code demanded knights demonstrate courage, loyalty, and honour, as well as adhere to the values of the Christian religion.
Although, as Europe headed towards the Renaissance, Knights and their Knights Code of Chivalry almost became irrelevant. But, even today, those codes are something to live by to be a better person.

Leave a Reply