The Spirit of Chivalry Is a Way of Being

December 17, 2015

By Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

William Skeoch Cumming - Drummer James Roddick of the 92nd Gordon Highlanders Defending Lieutenant Menzies during hand-to-hand fighting in the Battle of Kandahar, 1880.

Drummer James Roddick of the 92nd Gordon Highlanders defending Lieutenant Menzies during hand-to-hand fighting in the Battle of Kandahar, 1880. Painting by William Skeoch Cumming.

What is chivalry precisely? Is it only courage during battle? Or is it something beyond that?

The spirit of chivalry is first of all a way of being, a mentality which is manifested mainly in combat but also throughout a man’s life and outlook, in everything.

The Grey Drawing Room 1917 by Albert Chevallier Tayler.

The Grey Drawing Room 1917 by Albert Chevallier Tayler.

For example, today when someone wants to say that a man has very distinguished and elevated manners, one may call him a perfect gentleman. Why so? What do distinguished and elevated manners have to do with being a gentleman? A man who behaves very well in a drawing room conversation is called a gentleman. Yet a drawing room appears to be the opposite of a battlefield.

Baron Thomas Babington Macaulay, painted by Edward Matthew Ward. Photo by © National Portrait Gallery, London.

Baron Thomas Babington Macaulay, painted by Edward Matthew Ward. Photo by © National Portrait Gallery, London.

Why is a man called a perfect gentleman in a drawing-room and a knight on the battlefield? When one wants to say that a man has a piety proper to a knight, one means a certain kind of piety rather than another.

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(Excerpt from a Chá of Tuesday, October 3, 1989.)

(Nobility.org translation.)

 

 

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