Here begins the Table of Contents of
this Present Book Entitled
The Book of the Order of Chivalry or Knighthood
By Ramon Llull
Unto the praise and divine glory of God, who is Lord and Sovereign King above and over all things, both celestial and worldly, we begin
this Book of the Order of Chivalry. We write
it in order to show that, just as God the Prince Almighty rules above the seven planets comprising the heavenly concourse — which, in turn, have control over earthly bodies — so in similar fashion ought kings, princes and great lords to have power and authority over Knights, and Knights, by analogy, ought to have power over the common people.
This Book Contains Eight Chapters
Chapter I tells how a Knight, who was also a hermit, described to a squire the rule and Order of Chivalry.
Chapter II tells about the beginning of chivalry. Chapter III concerns the duty of chivalry.
Chapter IV treats the examination that ought to be given a squire when he wishes to enter the Order of Chivalry.
Chapter V describes the manner in which a squire ought to receive chivalry.
Chapter VI discusses, in proper order, the meaning of all the arms belonging to a Knight.
Chapter VII recounts the customs that pertain to a Knight.
Chapter VIII discusses the honor that ought to be given to a Knight.
Hereafter there follows the matter and theme of the aforementioned Book.
The Knight Hermit and the Squire
There was a country in which it happened that there lived a wise Knight who had long maintained the Order of Chivalry and who, by the strength and nobility of his great courage and wisdom, had ventured his body in various wars, jousts and tournaments. Because he thought in his heart that he would not live much longer — as one who, by the course of nature, had long been near his end — he chose a hermitage for himself For age had weakened the natural strength within him so that he no longer had any power nor strength to wield arms as he was accustomed to do. Therefore, he left all his inheritance and riches to his children and made his dwelling place in a great forest abundantly provided with water, large trees and fruit-bearing bushes of various kinds.
He fled the world because of the weakness of his body — he was fallen into old age — and so that he would not dishonor the calling to which he had long paid tribute with his meritorious deeds and adventures. This same Knight, thinking about death, remembered the need to leave this world for the next and also thought of that solemn sentence that our Lord will decree on the Day of Judgment.
In one part of the same forest was a fair meadow where there stood a tree laden with seasonable fruit; by eating this fruit the Knight managed to survive. And beneath this same tree was a fair, clear fountain that watered the entire meadow.
To that place the Knight was accustomed to come each day in order to pray and adore Almighty God, whom he thanked for all the honors He had shown him throughout his life. In that time it happened at the beginning of a harsh winter that a very wise and virtuous king sent for many nobles in order to hold his great Court. Because of the widespread fame of this Court, a squire decided to go there in order to be made a Knight. Thus, as he went riding all alone on his horse, on account of all the travail he had sustained in riding, he fell asleep on his horse. Meanwhile, as he rode on asleep, his horse strayed from the proper path and entered the forest where the Knight Hermit lived. And he went on so far that he arrived at the fountain at the same time that the Knight who lived in the forest had come there to do his penance — to pray to God and to practice rejection of this world's vanities — just as he was in the habit of doing every day. When he saw the squire coming, he left his prayers and sat down in the meadow in the shadow of a tree and began to read a little Book that he held in his lap. When the horse had come to the fountain, he began to drink and the squire — who had been sleeping — immediately sensed that the horse was no longer moving and quickly awoke. The Knight, who was quite old and had a long beard and a gown that was threadbare from overuse, then came to him. He was lean and his skin considerably discolored on account of the penance that he did daily. His eyes showed all the appearances of a holy life and seemed sunken from the many tears that he had wept. Each of them marvelled at having encountered the other. For the Knight, who had been long in his hermitage, had seen no other man since he had left the public world, and the squire, for his part, was quite astonished as to how he had gotten to that place. Then the squire descended from his horse and greeted the Knight and the Knight received him very wisely.
Afterwards they sat upon the grass close by each other; and, before either of them spoke, each of them gazed on the other's face. The Knight, who knew that the squire would not speak first because he wished to show reverence, spoke up and said, "Fair friend, what is your intention, and where are you going? Why have you come here?" "Sir," said he, "the news has spread into far countries that a very wise and noble king has called for a general court; he intends to have himself made a Knight and afterwards he will dub other new Knights. Therefore, I am going to this court to be dubbed a Knight. But, while I was asleep, because of the labor from the great journey that I have made, my horse departed from the right path and he has brought me into this place." When the Knight heard chivalry and knighthood mentioned, and remembered the Order of Chivalry, and that which properly belonged to the duty of a Knight, he let out a great sigh and pondered a while, recalling the honor in which chivalry had long been upheld.
While the Knight thus pondered, the squire asked of him the reason why he was so pensive. And the Knight replied, "Fair son, my thought is of the Order of Knighthood or Chivalry, and of the greatness with which a Knight is regarded who defends the honor of chivalry." Then the squire begged the Knight that he would tell him of the Order and manner by which men ought to honor and keep chivalry in high esteem, as it ought to be according to God's ordinance. "What, son," said the Knight, "do you not know about the rule and Order of Knighthood? I marvel that you dare demand to be knighted before you know the rules. For no Knight may love the Order nor that which pertains to the Order unless he knows the faults he commits against the law of chivalry. Nor should any Knight dub other Knights unless he himself knows the Order. For he who dubs another, yet cannot teach him the Order and customs of chivalry, is disorderly."
When the Knight had said these words to the squire who had asked for chivalry without knowing what it was, the squire answered and said to the Knight, "Sire, if it be your pleasure, I beseech you that you tell me of the Order of Chivalry; for it seems very necessary and fitting to me that I should learn about it on account of the great desire that I have to follow that course of life. And I shall follow it to the limits of my power if it please you to show and teach me it."
"Friend, " said the Knight, "the rule and Order of Chivalry is written in this little Book that I hold in my hands here; I read and meditate sometimes on it in order to recall and savor the grace and favor that God has given me in this world as a reward for my having honored and defended with all my strength the Order of Chivalry. For just as chivalry lends to a Knight his entire identity, so ought he to give all of his strength for the honor of chivalry."
Then the Knight handed over to the squire the little Book. And when he had read therein, the squire understood that a Knight is chosen from among a thousand persons as being worthier than all the rest. He also understood from the little Book the rule and Order of Chivalry. A little afterwards he remembered and said, "Ah, sire, blessed may you be for bringing me at the proper place and time to have a true knowledge of chivalry, which I have long desired without fully realizing the nobility of the Order nor the honor in which our Lord God has given to those who are members of the Order of Chivalry."
To this the Knight said, "Fair son, I am an old and feeble man and cannot live much longer; therefore, you shall carry with you this little Book written to describe the loyalty, devotion and proper behavior of a Knight. Take it to the court where you are going to show to all of those who are about to be dubbed Knights. And when you have been freshly dubbed yourself and set out to return to your own country, come again to this place and bring me news regarding those who have been newly made Knights and who intend to obey the teachings of chivalry." Then the Knight gave the squire his blessing and took his leave of him; the squire took the Book very devoutly and mounted his horse and went forth hastily to the Court. When he arrived, he presented the Book with great dignity to the noble king. Furthermore, he offered to provide every noble man who wished to join the Order of Chivalry with a copy of the aforementioned Book so that each one might see and learn about true knighthood.
The Origins of Chivalry
When charity, loyalty, integrity, justice and truth grew weak in the world, then there began cruelty, injury, disloyalty and falseness. Thus error and trouble came into the very world where God had planned for man to know, love, serve, fear and honor Him. Fortunately, however, no sooner had laxness in enforcing the law first arisen than fear in turn caused justice to be restored to the honor in which she was formerly held. Therefore, all the people were divided by thousands. Out of each thousand there was chosen a man more notable than all the rest for his loyalty, his strength, his noble courage, his breeding and his manners. Afterwards they sought out the beast that was most suitable — strongest to sustain labor, heartiest, and best able to serve the man. It was found that the horse was the most fitting creature; because they chose the horse from among all the beasts and gave him to this same man who had been picked from among a thousand, and because the horse is called in French cheval, therefore the man who rides him is called a chevalier, which in English is a Knight. Thus to the most noble man was given the most noble beast.
It was necessary after this to choose all the armor appropriate for battle in order to defend the man from death. The armor was then given to the Knight and accepted by him.
Next, he who would enter the Order of Chivalry had to consider well the noble beginnings of chivalry and ask himself whether the excellence of his manliness and good behavior accorded properly with the principles of the Order. For if they did not, he would be contrary to his Order and to his origins. Thus it is not suitable for the Order of Chivalry to receive its enemies with honor, nor them who are out of harmony with its origins.
Love and reverence are always opposed
to hate and injustice; consequently it is
necessary that the Knight — on account of his high courage, good demeanor, generosity and honor — be loved and feared by the people. Likewise it is required that — by love — he restore charity and instruction to the world and — by fear — that he recover justice and truth. Just as a man has more wit and understanding and is stronger by nature than a woman, so much may he surpass a woman in honor. For if he were not more powerful and fearless, so as to stand out beyond a woman, it would mean that abundance of natural strength would be in conflict with abundance of natural courage and good works. Nevertheless, although a man is then equipped by his nature for noble courage and superiority to a woman, in the same way he is much more likely to be vicious than is a woman. If it were not thus, he would not deserve the greater position than a woman's that he gains by being good.
You squires who wish to enter the Order of Chivalry, beware what you do. For if you are a Knight, you are receiving the honor and service due to true friends of chivalry. Just as you have more noteworthy roots and greater honor than others, by that same token you are more bound to be good and pleasing to God and also to the people. And if you act wickedly, you make yourself into an enemy of chivalry and behave contrary to its laws and rites.
So high and noble is the Order of Chivalry that it is not sufficient simply that Knights should be made from the worthiest persons, or that they should be given the best animals and the finest armor. Rather, the Knight must also be made the lord of many men, for in command there is much reverence and in servitude there is an equal portion of subordination. Then if you, being a vile and wicked man, take upon yourself the Order of Knighthood, you will be doing a great injury to all of your subordinates and to those of your peers who are worthy. For on account of the vileness into which you have thrown yourself if you are wicked, you deserve to be placed under a serf or a bondman. And compared to the excellence of good Knights, you are unworthy even to be called a Knight.
Neither horse, nor armor, nor even being chosen by others is sufficient to show forth the high honor that pertains to a Knight. Instead he must be given a squire and a servant to look after his horse. Likewise, the common people must be required to work the lands to bring forth the fruits and goods by which the Knight and his beasts may live. This arrangement is necessary to permit the Knight to rest and reside according to the customary requirements of his station, as well as to allow him opportunities for hunting and other sports upon his horse and, in general, to provide him with ease and pleasure in matters which shall cost his men some pain and labor.
*Scholars study theology and science in order to learn about God and love Him and His works so that they may better instruct the ignorant and simple people concerning the knowledge, love, service and worship of God our Glorious Lord. In order to do these things properly, they take courses of instruction in schools. Just as these scholars, then, by their honest lives, good examples and knowledge have received the responsibility to urge the people to devotion and good life, so in similar fashion Knights have received a comparable order, the Order of Chivalry, on account of their excellence of courage and strength of arms. Their purpose is to inspire the lower classes with reverential awe, by which each of them will fear the consequences of harming his neighbor.
The science and the school of the Order of Chivalry is that the Knight should make his son, while he is young, learn to ride. For if he does not learn in his youth, he will never learn in his old age. And it is essential that the son of a Knight, while he is a squire, learn how to care for horses. It is likewise necessary for him that he learn how to serve and that he should first be a subordinate before he becomes a lord. Otherwise he would not appreciate the excellence of lordship whenever he should become a Knight. Therefore, every man who wishes to progress to knighthood is required to learn in his youth how to carve at the table, to serve, to dress and array a Knight in his arms. For just as a man who would be a tailor must learn to sew and one who would be a carpenter must learn to cut — and both require a master who already knows how to sew or cut — it likewise behooves a nobleman, who loves the Order of Chivalry and wishes to become a Knight, first to have a master who is a Knight. It would indeed be a strange thing that a man who wished to learn sewing should learn it from a carpenter. Similarly, it would be most odd for a squire to learn the rites and excellence of chivalry from any man other than a Knight.
So exalted and honored is the Order of Chivalry that it is not sufficient for a squire merely to take care of a horse and learn to serve a Knight and go with him to tournaments and battles; it is also necessary that he enroll in a school of the Order of Knighthood and that the science of the Order be written down in books so that the art can be demonstrated and read about in the same way as other disciplines are studied. Thus the sons of Knights should first learn the principles of the Order of Chivalry and later, after they have become squires, they should travel through various realms with their Knights.
If scholars and Knights maintain themselves free of error, then there will be no error among the common people. For the scholars will have provided them with devotion and love for God, and on account of the Knights they should fear to do wrong, or betray and berate one another. Then since scholars have masters and a curriculum which they must go to school to learn — and there are so many different academic disciplines that they are written out and developed into fixed bodies of knowledge — it is a great harm to the Order of Knighthood that this discipline is not also written and read about in schools like other specialties. And, therefore, he that wrote this Book implores the noble King, and all the excellent company of fine Knights that are assembled in this Court, to pay homage to chivalry that this wrong that has been done to knighthood may soon be amended.
The Responsibilities that Pertain toa Knight
The responsibilities of a Knight constitute both the source and purpose of the Order of Chivalry. If a Knight does not perform his duties, he is contrary to his Order and to the entire origin of chivalry. As a result of such a contradiction, he is not a true Knight, even if he continues to bear the name— for such a Knight is more vile than the blacksmith or carpenter who does his duty properly and has truly learned it.
The duty of a Knight is to support and defend the Holy Catholic Faith, according to which God the Father sent his Son into the world to take on human flesh in the Glorious Virgin, our Lady Saint Mary. To honor and spread the Faith in this world, our Lord suffered many tribulations, wrongs and a painful death.
Then, just as our Lord has chosen scholars and priests to support the Holy Catholic Faith with scripture and reason against heretics and infidels, similarly God in His glory has chosen Knights so that by force of arms they may conquer the heretics who daily labor to destroy the Holy Church. Knights who follow this course God considers His honored friends in this world and the next — if they themselves hold and defend the Faith by which we hope to be saved.
The Knight who has no faith and practices no faith and opposes them who defend it is like a man to whom God has given reason but who pursues foolishness. On the other hand, the Knight who has faith, but who still acts against its requirements while, nevertheless, expecting to be saved, is acting against himself. For his will tends to heresy, which is contrary to faith and to salvation. On account of such heresy or false belief, a man is condemned to infinite and everlasting torments.
There are many who occupy positions of responsibility in this world which God has given them so that He can be served and honored by them, but the highest and most excellent positions are those of the clerks (scholars and/ or priests) and Knights. Therefore, the greatest friendship possible ought to exist between Knights and clerks. And just as clerks are not ordained in their clerical orders for the purpose of opposing the Order of Chivalry, Knights also should not use the office of chivalry to support those who oppose these same clerks who are bound to maintain and love the Order of Chivalry. An order or status is not given to a man for the purpose of urging him to love his own order exclusively, but so that he might love all the orders. For to love one status and hate another is not to love order itself at all. God has created no order that is in conflict with any other. Just as we would not say that a religious person truly loved his clerical order if this love led him to be an enemy to other clerical orders — nor would we say that he was properly following the rules of his own order—so likewise with a Knight: a Knight does not genuinely love the status of knighthood if he is so fond of his own Order and praises it so much that he ends up hating other orders and slandering them. For if a Knight loved the Order of Chivalry and yet destroyed some other social order, it would appear that order itself was contrary to God, which is impossible since He Himself established order.
So excellent is chivalry that every Knight ought in a certain sense to be ruler of a great country or land. But there are so many Knights that the earth is too small to signify properly that each one ought to be lord of all. The emperor ought to be a Knight and a master of all other Knights, but because the emperor may not govern all other Knights by himself, it is necessary that he have under him various kings who are Knights in order to aid and help support the Order of Chivalry. And the kings in turn ought to have under them dukes, earls, viscounts and other lords. And under the various barons ought to be Knights who rule themselves according to the wishes of the barons, who maintain themselves in the high status of chivalry aforementioned. All of these degrees of status exist to display clearly the excellence, majesty, power and wisdom of our Glorious Lord God. He is one God in Trinity and rules over all things. Thus, it is not fitting that any single Knight by himself alone should govern all the people of this world; for if one Knight alone might do so, it would appear to undermine the uniqueness of God's power and wisdom. Consequently, in order to rule all the earth's peoples, it has pleased God that there should be many Knights — of whom He is sole ruler in turn, as was said in the beginning.
If all of this is true, then kings and princes who choose their provosts and bailiffs from other groups of people than Knights are acting against the principles ofchivalry, for the Knight is more worthy to have authority over other people than any other man; also the intrinsic prestige of his office requires that greater respect should be shown to him than to anyone who has not received such high responsibilities. Because of the innate prestige of his status, he possesses nobility of heart, and, because of the excellence of his conscience, he is less inclined to do a villainous deed than another man.
The duty of a Knight is to support and defend his earthly lord, for neither a king nor any high baron has the power to uphold righteousness among his people without aid and help. Then, if anyone should act against the commandments of his king or prince, it is essential that the Knights aid their lord, who is, after all, only a man like other men. Hence the evil Knight that would rather help another man who wishes to depose his lord from his rightful authority is not following the duty to which he was called as a Knight. Justice ought to be upheld and supported by all Knights, for just as judges have the duty to judge so Knights have the responsibility to protect judges from violence while they carry out the deeds ofjustice. If it might be that scholarship and chivalry could merge themselves in such a way that Knights might become learned so that their knowledge would be sufficient to qualify them as judges, no status would be more suitable for staffing judgeships than that of chivalry, for he who may properly be judged the best person is more fitting as a judge than any other.
Knights ought to take horses to jousts and attend tournaments; they ought to hold great feasts open to all; they should hunt harts (male deer), boars and other wild beasts, for in doing these things Knights exercise themselves in their profession of arms in order to maintain the readiness of the Order of Knighthood.
To administer justice badly or to neglect the customs that are most essential to his knightly duty is simply to despise the Order itself; therefore, as all these things aforementioned concern a Knight's physical preparedness, so justice, wisdom, charity, loyalty, truth, humility, strength, hope, promptness and all other similar virtues pertain to the preparedness of the Knight's soul. Thus the Knight that practices all of the endeavors that concern his physical preparedness for chivalry but who, nevertheless, has none of these virtues in his soul is not a true friend to the Order of Chivalry. For if he tried to rationalize his neglect by separating these virtues, saying that such matters of the soul are not compatible with chivalry, it would simply signify that the body and chivalry together were contrary to both the soul and these virtues — and that is clearly false.
The duty of a Knight is to support his land, for the whole reason why the common people labor and plow the ground is that they fear the Knights and are terrified lest they should be destroyed. And since they fear the Knights, they also revere the kings, princes and lords from whom the Knights derive their legitimate power. But the wicked Knight who will not aid his earthly lord and native country against an alien prince is a Knight without a legitimate role; he is similar to faith without works, or to heresy — which is contrary to true faith. If such a Knight, then, pursues the practice of knight hood while turning away from his lord and refusing to aid him, he and his behavior will be wronging other Knights who fight to the death to preserve justice and to defend their lord. Any human duty or role that is often performed can be frustrated and defeated on occasion. For if that which is part of creation could not be defeated occasionally, it would be a thing rivaling God, Who can never be defeated nor destroyed.
The role, then, of chivalry is one ordained by God and maintained by those who love its law. If a wicked Knight who does not love the Order defeats a true Knight, he merely defeats another man. But the evil king or prince who has overthrown the laws of chivalry in himself defeats the Order not only in himself but in all the Knights who serve under him, who commit deeds unfitting for a Knight on account of the wicked example of their lord. They do this in order to win his love through disloyal flattery. Therefore, wicked princes are not only contrary to the duties and principles of chivalry in their own persons, but also in them who are their subordinates, through whom they defeat the Order of Chivalry. Consequently, if it is cruel and shameful to lure a single Knight from the Order of Chivalry, much greater guilt lies in causing the departure of many.
When any noble prince or high baron has in his court or company wicked, false, traitorous Knights that never cease to urge him toward evil deeds — toward bribery, betrayal and extortion with regard to his true subjects — the good prince ought, by the strength of his courage and on account of his great love for chivalry, to overcome and vanquish such men so that he will not allow chivalry to be subverted. Such a lord has great courage and nobility within himself, and when he takes vengeance on this sort of enemy that would snatch away from him the prestige and honor of knighthood and corrupt his conscience, he shows himself to be the friend of true chivalry.
If the practice of knighthood were, in fact, more a matter of physical strength than of inward resolve, the Order of Chivalry would be concerned much more with the body than with the soul. And if that were so, the body would be more excellent than the soul, but that is obviously false. Thus inner courage cannot, when it is functioning properly, ever be vanquished or overcome by any mere man. One can see clearly, on those occasions when one man's body is easily conquered by another, that bravery itself is obviously stronger and nobler than the body that it animates.
A Knight who goes into battle at the side of his lord, and for lack of courage flees from the battle when he should stand fast and aid him, shows that he fears more the torment or peril ofhis body than the shaming ofhis courage and is failing to practice the proper role of chivalry; nor is he performing his obligatory role as an obedient servant but is undermining the Order of Knighthood itself, which was founded on the excellence of bravery. If indeed it were fitting to the Order to act with less courage rather than more, one could infer that the authentic attributes of chivalry were sloth and cowardice rather than strength and bravery.
And if it were so, then sloth and cowardice would be the job of a Knight and strength and bravery would be completely out of the question. But of course in truth it is the very reverse.
Therefore, the less help from his fellows that is available to a noble Knight who truly loves chivalry, and the less impressive his arms, so much the more does it behoove him to assume the proper role of chivalry by means of a steadfast courage and a hearty bearing against those who would act unchivalrously. And if he should die in the act of defending chivalry, then he acquires its attributes permanently and securely so as to better love and serve it. For chivalry lives nowhere so agreeably as in inner courage, and no one can show his love for knighthood more than by dying for the love and honor of the Order.
Chivalry and bravery are not compatible with each other unless they are joined by intelligence and judgment. And if it were that folly and ignorance could take part in chivalry, then intelligence and judgment would be entirely contrary to the Order - and that is impossible. By this is signified openly to the Knight that he has great love for the Order: that just as chivalry has prompted him — a result of inner courage — to show outward bravery, so that he fears neither peril nor death, so also in order to honor chivalry it behooves him to love wisdom. By this means he may love and honor knighthood and refute the example of disorderly and faulty behavior seen in those who imagine themselves to be following the Order of Chivalry in their folly and ignorance and lack of knowledge.
The duty of a Knight is to support and defend women, widows and orphans, and sick or enfeebled men. For just as it is both reasonable and customary that the greatest and mightiest should help the lesser and the feeble, and that the latter should feel free to seek redress from the great, so the Order of Chivalry - which is great, honorable and powerful — should succor and help those that are in lower orders, who are less powerful and honored. Hence, to do wrong and violate the rights of women, of widows who need help, or of orphans who need custody — or to rob and destroy weak men who lack strength, and to take away that which belongs to them — these things may not possibly accord with the laws of chivalry. This is mere wickedness, cruelty and tyranny. The Knight who, instead of these vices, is full of virtues is worthy to hold the proper office of chivalry.
Just as God has given eyes to the workman to see his work, so he has given eyes to the sinner for the purpose of bewailing his sins. In the same way: that God has given him a heart in order to be courageous in his behavior, so ought the Knight to have mercy in his heart and incline his courage to the works of mercy and pity. That is to say, he ought to help and succor them that approach in tears and require the aid and mercy of Knights, and who have placed all their hope in them. When that happens, Knights who have no eyes with which to see the feeble, nor heart nor power to make note of the needs of the unfortunate are not worthy to be members of the Order of Chivalry. If chivalry, which is such an honorable calling, were, in fact, comprised of such deeds as robbing and destroying the poor and wronging good women — widows who have nothing wherewith to defend themselves — then that calling would not be virtuous but vicious.
The duty of a Knight is to have a castle and horse, to guard the highways and to protect those who work the land. Moreover, he ought to establish towns and cities in order to guarantee justice to the people and to assemble in a single place men of the various crafts that are necessary to the proper functioning of life in this world. Knights, therefore, are praised and rewarded so highly for their calling that they are made lords of castles, towns, cities and great populations; but if they then act as though they believed that destroying castles, cities and towns, burning houses and hewing down trees, slaying beasts and robbing folk along the highways were their proper calling, it would be a direct affront to true chivalry. For if it were thus, chivalry would not have been well planned, and good order and its opposite would be one and the same — which is impossible.
The duty of a Knight is also to search for thieves, robbers and other wicked folk in order to punish them. For just as the axe is designed for the job of cutting down and destroying worthless trees, so the office of a Knight is established to punish evildoers and delinquents.
And because God and chivalry go together, it is necessary that there be no false
oaths or swearing among those who uphold the Order of Chivalry. Furthermore, if lechery and justice were compatible with each other, then chivalry, which certainly goes with justice, would be compatible with lechery. And if chivalry and lechery were compatible with each other, chastity, which is contrary to lechery, would be against the honor of chivalry — which is absurd. Likewise, if a Knight is consumed with pride and seeks by that means to uphold l the Order of Chivalry, he is in fact corrupting it, for his Order was founded on justice and humility with a view to protecting the humble against the proud. If these ideals were actually followed, many of the Knights who are now Knights should not be members of that Order into which they were first initiated. Indeed, none of these proud, injurious Knights who are full of wickedness are worthy of chivalry. They ought to be regarded as good for nothing.
Where, then, are justice and humility? What purpose do they serve? What good are they? If justice and peace were opposed to each other, chivalry, which is involved essentially with justice, would be contrary to peace. And thus those who love wars, theft and robbery would be the only proper Knights. And those who make peace and bring good people to accord with each other, who flee the tribulations and wickedness of this world, would be regarded as evil Knights.
However, God the High Emperor who sees and knows all things, knows well that things are not like that. For the felons and malefactors are altogether contrary to chivalry and to true honor. I ask you then, who were the first Knights who conformed themselves to justice and peace and created peace through justice by the strength of their arms? For certainly in the time when chivalry began, the job of the Knight was to pacify people and bring them to agreement by force of arms. Those wicked Knights and warriors, who now thrive,
are both upholding and destroying the Order of Chivalry at the same time.
The Knight ought to pursue his calling in many different ways, but because we have to speak of a wide variety of concerns, we are passing over these matters as quickly as possible. At the request of that very courteous, loyal and well-instructed squire, who has long desired to know about the rule and Order of Chivalry, we have begun this Book. We intend to speak briefly in this Book because he shall soon be dubbed a new Knight.
Examination of the Squire
It is quite fitting that a squire who wishes to enter the Order of Knighthood should be examined. His examiner ought to be a Knight who loves God first and knighthood above all else. For there are some who better love to be a part of a great number of Knights — even if they are evil or wicked — than to be part of a small company of good men. Chivalry itself, however, has no regard for the multitude but loves only those who are filled with the excellence of courage and good behavior, as was said before. Therefore, if the examiner loves, the size of his group more than the honor of knighthood, he is not suitable to be an examiner, but rather is in need of being examined himself and reproved for the wrong that he has perpetrated against the high reputation of chivalry.
First it behooves an examiner to ask of the squire who wishes to be a Knight whether he loves and fears God. No man is worthy to enter the Order of Chivalry without these
attributes. His fear of God will also cause him to avoid the mistakes by which discredit is brought on his knighthood. When it happens that a squire who has no fear of God is, nevertheless, made a Knight, he accepts the honor of receiving chivalry, but also accepts dishonor in that he receives the rites of his Order without honoring or reverencing God, from whom chivalry inherits all of its rightful honor. Therefore a squire who is irreverent toward God is not worthy to be a Knight and take upon himself the duty of destroying and punishing wicked men.
Ifa Knight happens to be a wicked robber and traitor, and if it is true that thieves and robbers ought to be arrested and executed by Knights, then let the Knight who has been so stained by his own evil circumstances execute justice upon himself and apply his office as he ought to do if others were involved. And if he will not apply his principles to himself as he would to others, it would follow logically that he would be loving the Order of Chivalry more in others than in himself Even so, it is not lawful that a man should slay himself, and therefore a Knight who knows himself to be a robber and thief ought to be taken and delivered to death by other Knights.
Any Knight who allows another to be a thief, or who supports such a one, is failing to do his proper duty. Thus false men and traitors, which are mere counterfeit Knights, ought to be destroyed. If you, Knight, should have any malady or sore spot in your hand, that sore or pain is more relevant to you than to me or any other man. Hence every Knight who has betrayed the Order of Chivalry should be a greater concern to you, who are also a Knight, than to me, who am none. He is what he is because of your default in executing your duty; and if his evil more grieves you than me, how is it that you manage to excuse yourself from the task of punishing such a one, who is a flagrant enemy to true knighthood? And yet, somehow, you get around to rebuking those who are not Knights for their faults.
A Knight who is a thief steals more from the high honor of chivalry by taking away the reputation of knighthood than does he who steals money or other things. For to steal honor is to impute ill fame and slander and to blame that very thing which is worthy to have recognition and praise. Honor is worth more than gold or silver beyond all comparison. If things were not like this, it would follow that money and such material substances would be of more value than honor. Also, if any traitor who had slain his lord or lain with his wife or betrayed his castle could still call himself a Knight, what name should we give to that man who for the sake of honor, and in order to defend his lord, dies in the exploits of arms? Moreover, if a Knight who is a traitor should have his fault overlooked, what misdeed may he then commit for which he should be reproved and punished, since his lord has not punished him for treason? And if his lord fails to uphold the standards of chivalry by punishing such a treasonable Knight, against whom shall he ever uphold those standards? If he omits to destroy such a traitor, whom shall he ever destroy? A man who fails to take revenge on a traitor — why was he ever made a lord, or a man of power? The duty of a true Knight is to accuse a traitor and to fight against him; on the other hand, the job of a traitorous Knight is to allow truth to be seen by defying the one who has challenged his treason and by fighting against him, and these two principles are direct opposites.
So infected with evil is the courage of a traitorous Knight that he will be unable to vanquish or overcome the excellent bravery of a good Knight, although his overweening pride may cause him to imagine that he can triumph; for the true Knight who fights for justice may not be overcome. If a real friend of chivalry were to be defeated, that should be a pity and completely against the honor of the Order.
If robbing were the proper job of a Knight, then giving would be contrary to the Order's principles. If a Knight took away from good people that which God had given them and wished to retain it as his own, who would be left to defend the rights of good men? He who commends his sheep to the care of the wolf is a fool -- as is he who puts his fair wife in the care of a deceitful Knight or who delivers responsibility for his castle to a greedy Knight. And if such a man should foolishly yield up control of his things, how would he be able to claim the right to protect the things of others?
The job of a Knight is to know himself well and to maintain good armor and a horse. That is to say, a Knight ought to know well how to behave as a good master so that he can reprove the misdeeds - if necessary -- of his colleagues. If the job of a Knight were merely to have armor, but no horse, the whole role would involve a silly contradiction in terms. To be and not be a thing simultaneously is impossible. Thus, a Knight who does not own armor is impossible and such a person ought not to be named a Knight.
There is a commandment in our religion that no Christian man should perjure himself. Similarly, a false oath should be rebuked within the law of chivalry. He who perjures himself is not worthy to be in the Order. Likewise, if a squire is lacking in courage, and still wishes to be a Knight, he wishes, in essence, to destroy the Order that he is seeking to join. Why then does he demand initiation into an Order that he does not properly love and which he intends to destroy through his evil nature? So also he who initiates such a spineless Knight, on account of favoritism or after he has clearly seen that the initiate is a coward, is acting against his Order and burdening his own conscience. Do not look for excellence of bravery in the mouth, for not every mouth speaks the truth. Nor look for it in impressive clothing, for under many a fair garment one can find cowardice full of bullying behavior and wickedness. Nor should you look for excellence of courage in the horse, for he cannot speak a word. Nor should you seek it in the armor, for within beautiful armor is often a wicked and fearful heart. Therefore, if you want to find true bravery, look for it where you see faith, hope, charity, justice, strength, loyalty and other noble virtues. By these qualities the heart of a noble Knight is guarded from wickedness, treachery and from the enemies of chivalry.
A new Knight must be of a suitable age, for if the squire seeking to become a Knight is overly young he is not worthy; he may not yet be wise enough to have learned the things that are proper for a squire before he moves on to being a Knight. And if he becomes a Knight in his youth, he may not well remember the promises that he has made to the Order of Chivalry when it becomes necessary to recall them to mind.
If a squire who seeks to become a Knight has been cowardly beforehand, he inflicts villainy and injury on the Order in attempting to enter it, because it is upheld by strong men and fighters and is debased by the presence of the timid, the faint of heart, the weak and those who flee. Just as virtue and moderation exist between two extremes — that is, arrogance and viciousness — just so a Knight ought to be dubbed and nourished at a competent age and guided by moderation. For if it were not thus, chivalry and moderation would be at war with each other. And if that were so, virtue and chivalry would be mutual enemies. And if virtue and chivalry were at odds in you, a mere squire who is negligent and sluggardly in becoming a Knight, why then would you even wish to be a Knight?
If being fashionably beautiful, or having a well-built and turned-out body, or fair hair, or being able to admire oneself in a mirror qualified a squire to be dubbed a Knight, then you could make Knights out of people of the lowest and vilest birth. And if you did so, you would be dishonoring and mistaking your lineage. Furthermore, the excellence that God has endowed men with to a greater degree than women would be diminished and brought to shame. For by the standards mentioned above, you might well dub women, who oft have mirrors in their hands, to be Knights by which you would be demeaning the Order of Chivalry.
High birth and chivalry belong together, for high birth is nothing else but honor anciently awarded, while chivalry is a way of life that has endured from the time of its founding long ago until the present. And since nobility of family and knighthood belong together, if you make a Knight out of someone not of high parentage, you set chivalry at odds with lineage. By the same token, such a person, if you make him a Knight, is still incompatible with lineage and chivalry. Nor may you possibly dispose of enough power to enable you to make a Knight out of a vile coward, provided you wish to do justice to the Order. Nature is much honored in the physical bodies of trees and beasts, but is more honored among human beings by the excellence of the rational soul. In the same way, the Order of Chivalry is more compatible with a gentle heart replenished with all virtues than with a man of vile and evil life. And if it were otherwise, it would follow that chivalry would have more to do with the body than with the virtue of the soul — and that is false, for it belongs more to the soul than to the body. Nobility of heart_ clearly is an essential part of chivalry.
To examine a squire who wishes to become a Knight requires that one ask about his customs and manners, for providing evil examples is the cause for which wicked Knights are expelled from the Order. It is, therefore, completely unsuitable that a squire who is wicked should be made into a Knight and that he should enter into the Order — out of which he must be expelled later for evil deeds and disgusting behavior. For chivalry casts out of its fellowship all enemies of honor and receives instead those who show valor and uphold decency. And if it were not so, it would follow that chivalry would be destroyed in vileness and might never be restored to its proper nobility — and that is false. Therefore, you Knight, who
are charged with the duty of examining a squire, are bound more strongly to seek out high qualities and valor in a squire than in any other person. Also, you who have the job of inspecting the squire who aims to enter the Order, you ought to find out whether he wishes merely an opportunity to travel and receive honors without doing honor to chivalry and to those who honor it. And if it appears to you that he seeks to become a Knight for that reason, you should realize that he is not worthy to be made a Knight nor to have the Order. Just as a proper intention is lacking in clerics when simony (bribery) is a factor — by which they aim to be elevated into prelates — even so an evil squire subverts his own will and intention when he
thus wishes to become a Knight against the principles of chivalry. If a cleric practices simony, he actually undercuts all right he may have to prelacy; just so a squire whose intentions toward the duties of chivalry are not honorable subverts the Order itself, whatever it is that he does.
A squire who desires chivalry should be well informed about the great responsibility
and the dangers that go with those who would obtain chivalry and uphold it. A Knight ought more to fear the rebuke of the people and his own dishonor than the perils of death itself. He ought to devote more of his thoughts to maintaining his courage than to the pains that hunger and thirst, heat and cold may inflict on
his body. And therefore all of the dangers ought to be explained and manifested to the squire before he is dubbed or made into a Knight.
Chivalry may not be upheld without the armor suitable to a Knight nor without the
accompanying honorable expenditures. A squire who has neither armor nor money for his expenses — if he should be dubbed a Knight — may, on account of his need, be driven to become a traitor, robber, thief, liar, beggar or indulge some other vices that are incompatible with chivalry.
A lame man, or one who is overweight or who has some other physical handicap that prevents him from carrying out the duties of chivalry, is not adequate to be a Knight. For it would not be fitting for the Order of Chivalry to receive a man who is stained with corruption or weakness. So high and noble is chivalry in its honor that a squire who is lame in any bodily member — even if he is virtuous and wealthy and born of high lineage — is not worthy to be received into knighthood.
It also ought to be inquired of a squire seeking entry into chivalry whether he ever performed any falseness or treachery against the principles of the Order. For he may have done such a deed and yet be so little concerned about it that he is thereby disqualified from receiving the rites of the Order and from the corrupts good intentions. That corruption in turn destroys the excellence of a Knight's courage. In sum, any squire who is proud, badly instructed, full of villainous words and little courage, greedy, deceitful, lazy, gluttonous, perjured or who is infected by any other similar vices has nothing to offer chivalry.
A Squire Receives Chivalry
Before a squire enters the Order of Chivalry, it behooves him to confess himself of all the sins he has committed against God; likewise. he should have a firm intention to serve our Lord God, Who is glorious, in the Order. Then. after he has been absolved of all sin, he should receive communion. For the dubbing of a Knight belongs properly to one of the great feast days, such as Christmas, Easter, Pentecost or some other solemn day. The reason for this practice is that the honor of the feast causes large crowds of people to assemble in the place where the squire is to be Knighted. When all are gathered, God ought to be adored and requested to give the candidate grace to live well according to the laws of chivalry. On the vigil of the feast day, when he is to be dubbed, the squire ought to fast in honor of the saint whose feast is celebrated that day. Also. • he ought to go to church in order to seek God's aid and ought to keep a vigil all night long in his prayers. Likewise, he-should heed the word of God concerning chivalry, for if, instead, he spends his vigil listening to ribald storytellers, he will have already begun dishonoring chivalry.
On the morning after the feast at which he has been dubbed a Knight, it behooves the new Knight to sponsor a solemn mass. Then he ought to come before the altar and offer honor to the priest -- who holds the place of our Lord --- obliging and submitting himself to keep the reverence of chivalry safe with all his power. On the same day, there should be a sermon in which should be recounted and declared the twelve articles on which the Holy Catholic Faith is founded, the ten commandments and the seven sacraments of Holy Church, and other things that belong to the Faith. The squire ought diligently take heed of these things and retain them in his memory so that he may keep in mind the duty of chivalry with reference to the things of faith.
The twelve articles include believing that there is one God only, and that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one God in three Persons, without beginning or end. These are the first four articles. The fifth is to believe that God is the creator and maker of all things. The sixth is to believe that God is the redeemer — that is to say, that He has redeemed or bought back the human race from the pains of Hell to which it had been condemned by the sin of Adam and Eve, our first father and mother. The seventh is to believe that God has given glory to those who have gone on to Heaven. These seven articles concern God; the rest pertain to the humanity that the Son of God took on Himself in Our Lady Saint Mary. The first of these is to believe that Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit when Saint Gabriel the Archangel saluted Our Lady. The second and third involve believing that He was crucified and died to save us. The fourth is to believe that His soul descended into Hell in order to deliver His friends — that is, Adam, Abraham and other prophets who believed in His Holy Coming. The fifth is to believe that He was raised from death to life. The sixth is to believe that, on Ascension Day, He rose up into Heaven. The seventh is to believe that Jesus Christ shall come at the Day of Judgment when all shall arise and shall judge the good and evil and render to all the pain or glory that they have deserved in this transitory world. It behooves all Christian men to believe these articles, which truly witness to God and His works. For without a belief in these articles, no man can be saved.
The commandments of God that were given to Moses on the Mount of Sinai are ten in number. The first is that thou shalt adore, love and serve one God only. Thou shalt not perjure thyself. Hallow and sanctify Sunday. Honor thy father and mother. Do not be a murderer. Commit no theft nor fornication. Do not bear false witness. Do not covet thy neighbor's wife nor any of his property. It is necessary for all Knights to know the ten commandments that God has given.
The sacraments of the Holy Church are seven, including baptism, confirmation, the Eucharist, holy orders, marriage, penance and extreme unction. By means of these seven sacraments we all hope to be saved. A Knight is bound by his oath to honor and observe these seven sacraments. Therefore, it behooves every Knight to know his responsibilities thoroughly since he has received the Order of Knighthood.
The preacher who delivers the dubbing sermon ought to make mention of these duties in the presence of the squire, and he, in turn, ought to pray devoutly that God will give him grace and blessing in order to become a good Knight all the days of his life.
The prince or baron who intends to conduct the dubbing likewise ought to possess in himself the virtue and Order of Chivalry, forif the Knight who makes Knights is not virtuous, how may he give to others what he does not have himself? Such a Knight is worse than the plants, for they, at least, have the power to pass 1 on their medicinal virtues. Such a Knight is evil and false who will, without regard to propriety, multiply his Order. He is wronging chivalry itself Then, if it should happen sometime that the squire who has received chivalry from such an evil lord is not so much strengthened by the grace of Our Lord as he would have been had he been suitably initiated, the squire will be no better than a fool. And the same will be true of all others who have received the Order of Chivalry from this kind of foul Knight.
The squire then ought to kneel before the altar and lift up his bodily and spiritual eyes and his hands to Heaven, and the presiding Knight should gird him with his sword, in the sign of chastity, justice and charity. The Knight ought to kiss the squire and lay his palm on him so that the squire may remember what he has received and promised and the great obligation to which he is bound by the honor of the Order of Chivalry. Afterwards, when the spiritual Knight — that is, the priest — and the earthly Knight have done their duties with regards to the dubbing of a new Knight, the new Knight ought to ride through the town and show himself to the people so that all will know and see his new circumstances. When all have seen that he is obliged to uphold and defend the high honor of chivalry, he will have an even greater reason for shunning evil, for he will be ashamed for the people to know that he has broken such vows.
On the same day, it behooves the new Knight to hold a great feast and to give fair gifts and to joust and sport and do other things that pertain to the Order of Chivalry. Also, he should endow heralds and kings of arms with gifts, as has long been customary. Similarly, the lord who has sponsored him ought to present him with a gift, which should be reciprocated by the new Knight. For whoever has received such a noble gift as is the Order of Chivalry does not suitably acknowledge his Order unless he reciprocates according to his ability.
The Significance of the Arms of a Knight
Just as every vestment, when the priest sings a mass, has some spiritual meaning appropriate to his office, so also, because priesthood and chivalry bear many resemblances, the Order of Chivalry demands that every article pertaining to the exercise of its duties has some symbolic meaning by which the nobility of chivalry is proclaimed.
Unto a Knight is given a sword, which resembles a cross in order to signify that Our Lord conquered on the Cross the death to which humanity was condemned for the sin of our first father, Adam. Similarly, a Knight ought to destroy and utterly vanquish the enemies of the Cross by the sword; for chivalry exists to maintain justice. For that reason, the sword is made with two cutting edges, to signify that the Knight ought to use it to uphold chivalry and justice.
A Knight is also given a spear, which represents truth. For truth is something straight and even and ought to take precedence over falseness. The iron head of the spear signifies strength, which truth ought to have far more than falseness. And the banner of the spear indicates that truth is faithful to all and has no fear of falseness or treachery. The spear likewise symbolizes that truth sustains hope.
The helmet of steel or iron is given to a Knight to signify fear of shame, for a Knight who lacks this fear may not properly obey the Order of Chivalry. Just as a sense of guilt causes a man to be ashamed and to cast his eyes down toward the earth, so the helmet of iron prevents a man from exalting his head upwards; rather, it causes him to look toward the ground and is thus a mediator between things above and those below. For it covers a man's head, which is the highest and foremost member of his body. Similarly, a sense of shame protects the Knight, who has the highest and most noble duties, except for those of the clerk or priest, so that he will not bow his head to villainous and horrible deeds nor abandon the excellence of his courage to bribery and other wickedness.
The hauberk (a long tunic made of chain mail) symbolizes a castle and fortress against vices and weaknesses. For just as a castle or fort is all walled in, so a hauberk is firm and closed on all sides to remind a noble Knight that he should not enter with his courage into treason nor any other vice.
Leg harnesses of iron are provided for a Knight to protect his legs and feet from peril and to signify spiritually that a Knight ought to hold to the high ways with iron, that is with sword, spear and mace, in order to arrest malefactors and punish them.
Spurs are given to a Knight to signify diligence and swiftness since a Knight must have these two qualities in order to maintain his Order in the high honor that it deserves. For just as he pricks his horse with spurs in order to cause it to run, so diligence pricks the Knight himself and hastens him to procure the gear and necessities that a Knight requires if he is to avoid being taken by surprise.
The gorget (a piece of armor protecting the throat) is given to a Knight to symbolize obedience. For every Knight that is not obedient to his lord nor to the Order of Chivalry dishonors his lord and abandons his Order. So just as the gorget surrounds the neck of the Knight to protect it from deadly blows and wounds, in similar fashion obedience causes a Knight to remain within the commandments of his sovereign and within the Order of Chivalry so that treason, pride and other vices cannot corrupt the oaths that the Knight has taken.
The mace is given to the Knight to signify strength of courage. For just as a mace or poleaxe is strong against all arms and strikes at all angles, so the force of courage defends a Knight from all vices and upholds the virtues and good customs by which Knights protect chivalry and ensure that it receives the esteem due to it.
The misericord (a narrow dagger used to deliver the death stroke to a seriously wounded knight) is given to the Knight so that, if his other armor should fail him, he may have recourse to this last weapon. Or so that, if he is so close to his enemy that he may not strike or injure him with spear or sword, he may still overcome him by strength of his dagger. And this weapon, called the misericord, shows a Knight that he ought not to place too much trust in his weapons or his strength, but rather ought to trust God and join himself to God by good works and sincere hope, so that, with God's help, he may vanquish his enemies and all those who oppose the Order of Chivalry.
The shield is given to the Knight to represent the duty of a Knight. For just as the Knight puts his shield between himself and his enemy, so the Knight is the intermediary between the prince and the people. And just as the stroke falls upon the shield and saves the Knight, in the same way the Knight ought to array himself and present his body before his lord when that lord is in peril, hurt or captured.
Gauntlets are given to a Knight so that he may put his hands in them and thus protect them from strokes if the rest of his armor should fail him. The Knight wearing his gauntlets handles his spear or sword more securely than he could otherwise. Just as he lifts them up when he raises his hand in victory, so ought he to raise them up in thanking God for that same victory. The gauntlets also should remind him that he should never raise up his hand in swearing a false oath, nor should he handle any evil, foul or dishonest thing with his hands.
The saddle in which the Knight sits when he rides signifies security of courage, the obligation and great burden of chivalry. For just as the saddle enables the Knight to be secure on his horse, so security of courage makes a Knight seek out the front line of battle. By means of this security, adventure, the friend of chivalry, aids him. By this security are captured many cowards and vain boasters who merely seem hardy and strong of courage. The saddle also signifies the responsibilities of knighthood, for, as we have said, the saddle holds the Knight firmly and surely upon his
horse so that he may not fall nor slip. And therefore the saddle, which is so heavy,
symbolizes the weight of chivalry, and that the Knight ought by no means to move on account of slight matters. And if it is necessary for him to move, he ought to show great courage against his enemy in order to uphold chivalry.
A horse is given to a Knight to signify the nobility of courage. He is to be well-horsed in order that he may be seen from afar. This signifies that he ought to be readier than other men to do what is required by chivalry. To the horse is given a bridle, and the reins of the bridle are placed in the hands of the Knight so that the Knight may make his horse obey his will and restrain him. This suggests that a Knight ought also to restrain his tongue and watch himself so that he speak neither foul words nor false ones. It also signifies that he ought to restrain his hands and not give so much to others that he becomes needy himself Nor should he be so aggressive that his courage lacks all measure and reason. Likewise the reins signify that the Knight ought to allow himself to be led wherever chivalry needs for him to go. And when the time for generosity arrives, his hands must give and spend according to the honor of his station.
And if a Knight acts contrary to these rules, his horse keeps the law of chivalry better than he does. The horse is provided with a testiere (armor for the forehead of a horse) on his head to symbolize that the Knight ought never to fight without reason. For just as the head of his horse goes before the Knight, so ought reason to precede all that a Knight does. For anything done unreasonably is considered a vice in him. Thus, just as the testiere protects the head of the horse, so reason guards and keeps a Knight from blame and from shame.
The horse's body armor is given to defend the horse from injury, and these items signify that a Knight ought to protect his wealth and goods since they are what allow him to pursue the duties of chivalry. For just as the horse is protected from blows or injuries by his body armor and without it is in peril of death, so a Knight without wealth may not uphold the honor of chivalry nor defend himself against dangers. For poverty causes a man to think of bribery and treason and therefore the Scriptures say, "On account of need, many have been lost." For the sake of poverty, many have manufactured falsehoods.
A coat is given to a Knight to symbolize the great ordeals that he must suffer in order to honor chivalry. For just as the coat is worn above the other garments of iron, and faces the rain, and receives blows before they reach the hauberk or other armor, so a Knight is chosen to sustain larger burdens than another man. And all the men who serve under him and are in his care ought, whenever necessary, to seek him out for help; and the Knight should defend them to the extent of his power. Knights ought to be captured themselves, or wounded or killed, rather than allow the men who are in their care to suffer these fates. Similarly, princes and barons ought to exert themselves, at the higher levels of chivalry, in order to protect their lands and their people.
A heraldic emblem is given to the Knight on his shield and his coat so that he may be known in battle and so that, if he is brave and does fair deeds of arms, he may be praised by name. If he is a faulty and recreant coward, the same token allows him to be properly blamed and reproved. The heraldic emblem is also given to the Knight so that he may be identified as a friend or enemy of chivalry. Hence every Knight ought to honor his token and see to it that it is never associated with blame.
The banner is given to a king, a prince, a baron and to a Knight Bannerer (one who has under him many Knights). It signifies that a Knight ought to maintain the honor of his lord and of his land. For a Knight is loved, honored and praised by the respectable folk of his kingdom. And if they dishonor their native land, or lord, such Knights are far more to blame than other men.
The Virtues and Good Habits of a Knight
The exceptional nature of his courage has caused a Knight to be picked out from among all other men, who are beneath him in service. Therefore, exceptional habits and upbringing are also appropriate to a Knight. For extraordinary bravery may not achieve the high honor of chivalry without selection also based on virtues and good habits. Thus it behooves a Knight to be well-stocked with good habits and manners. Every Knight ought to know the seven virtues which are the source and root of all good habits and are the path to everlasting heavenly glory. Of these seven virtues, three are called "theological" or "divine" while the remaining four are "cardinal." The "theological" ones are faith, hope and charity. The "cardinal" ones are justice, prudence, temperance and fortitude.
A Knight without faith may not possess good habits of life, for by faith a man sees God and His works spiritually and believes in the invisible things. By faith, a man is enabled to have hope, charity and loyalty and becomes a servant of honesty and truth. Lacking faith, a man will not believe in God's Incarnation, nor in His works or the things that he cannot directly see -- which a man without faith may not understand nor know. Knights whose habits are shaped by faith often go into the land beyond the sea on pilgrimage and there prove their strength and chivalry against the enemies of the Cross and become martyrs if they die. For they fight to uphold the Holy Catholic Faith. Also, on account of faith, clerics are defended by Knights from wicked men who, through fraud, rob and disinherit them insofar as possible.
Hope is a virtue that plays a very important part in the job of a Knight. By the hope that he places in God, he believes that he will emerge victorious in combat. By reason of the faith that he has in God, a faith greater than trust in his body or armor, he overcomes his enemies. The courage of a Knight is given its power by hope, and through that same virtue conquers laziness and cowardice. Hope urges Knights on to endure tribulations and to risk themselves in perilous undertakings in which they often place themselves. Also, hope makes them willing to suffer hunger and thirst while guarding castles, cities and fortresses. If no hope were left, a Knight would be powerless to do his job. Hope is the principal instrument of a Knight's occupation in the same way that the hand of a carpenter is the chief tool of carpentry.
A Knight without charity will inevitably be afflicted with cruelty and an evil will. Cruelty and an evil will necessarily conflict with the essence of chivalry. If a Knight fails to have charity toward God and his neighbor, in what way can he love God? And if he fails to have pity for poor men, the weak and the diseased, how can he possibly show mercy to men who have been vanquished and captured who plead for mercy precisely because they are unable to escape and lack the monetary resources to offer ransom for themselves? If a Knight were not charitable, how could he be in the Order of Chivalry? Charity is a virtue above all others, for she conquers every vice. Charity is a kind of love that every Knight must have in order to fulfill his duty. Charity makes a man bear lightly the heavy burdens of chivalry, for just as a horse without feet may not carry a Knight, so a Knight without charity may not sustain the great responsibility and burden of his office. By charity, chivalry is both honored and enhanced.
If a man without a body were indeed a man, then man would be something invisible.
And if he were invisible, he would not be man nor that which he is. Similarly, ifa man without justice were a Knight, it would follow that justice would not be in that place where in fact it is, and that chivalry would be something altogether different from what it is. Nor is it relevant that a Knight may have a smattering of justice and believes himself to be in the Order of Chivalry — if he is, in truth, injurious, he doesn't belong at all. For chivalry and justice are so intimately intertwined that chivalry cannot survive without justice. An injurious Knight is an enemy to justice and defeats and expels himself from the Order.
The virtue of prudence is that by which a man has knowledge of good and evil and by which he receives the grace to be a friend to the good and an enemy to the evil. For prudence is a type of science by which a man has knowledge of the things that are to happen in the future — by comparing them with the things of the present. By prudence, a man is enabled to foresee and avoid physical and spiritual harms. And since Knights were first ordained in order to arrest and destroy evil —for no men place their bodies in so many perils as they — what could possibly be more essential to a Knight than the virtue of prudence?
It is necessary to the occupation of a Knight that he arm himself and fight. But these things are not so essential to the office of a Knight as the use of reason and understanding and a well-regulated will. For many battles are won more by intellectual mastery — wit and industry — than by the size of one's cavalry units or the quality of their armor. And in addressing this very point, that valiant Knight of long ago, Judas Maccabeus, said to his people when he saw that his enemies outnumbered him by sixfold: "0 my brethren, be ye not in doubt but that God will help us at this time. For I assure you that victory does not lie in a great multitude — for therein is great confusion."
And by the intelligence and prudence of the aforementioned Judas Maccabeus, the forces of his enemies were vanquished and he obtained a glorious victory.
Therefore, if you, Knight, wish to habituate your son to the duties of a Knight in order to uphold the noble Order, first accustom him to the use of reason and understanding. Also, make him exert all his power to become a friend to goodness and an enemy to evil. For by such habits, prudence and chivalry gather themselves together to honor the Order.
Fortitude is a virtue that dwells in a noble heart and resists the seven deadly sins by which men go to Hell to suffer endless torments. These seven sins include gluttony, lechery, avarice, pride, sloth, envy and wrath. A Knight who follows any of these paths cannot enter the house of nobleness ofheart nor make his abiding place there. Gluttony engenders weakness of body by excessive eating and drinking. For with excessive drinking, gluttony causes the body to become bloated and engenders sloth and a physical lassitude that grieves the soul. Hence all of the vices are enemies to chivalry.
Therefore the hardy courage of a Knight — aided by abstinence, prudence and temperance — struggles fiercely against gluttony. Lechery and chastity also combat against each other. The arms with which lechery fights against chastity include youth, beauty, excessive drink, too much food, flashy clothing and seductive lies, betrayal, injury and the despising of God and His glory. Chastity and strength, on the other hand, war against lechery — because they fear the pains of Hell which are infinite — by recalling to mind God's commandments and the many benefits and glory that He has provided for those who love, honor and serve Him. They also remember the evil and pain that is the portion of those who despise Him and do not believe in Him. By these means chastity, who will not submit to evil nor foul thoughts nor allow herself to be abased from her place of high honor, conquers lechery with excellence of heart. As a Knight is called chevalier because he ought to fight against the vices and ought to overcome them by the strength of a noble courage, if he should lack these qualities, then he is no Knight at all.
Avarice is a vice that causes noble courage to sink and submit itself to vile and foul purposes. Because they lack strength and courage to defend themselves against avarice, many are overcome by it and become covetous and avaricious. On account of their greed, they do many wrongs and become slaves to the goods —goods that God has given — of the persons to whom they have abandoned themselves. Fortitude is of such a nature that it never comes to the aid of its enemy nor shall it ever aid a man who refuses to call for help. For this inner strength is so high and excellent in its very essence, and of such great esteem, that when we are in need or peril we ought to call upon it and ask it for help. Therefore, when a Knight is tempted by avarice to bend and submit his heart to greed, which is the mother and root of all evils and of treason, he ought to seek recourse from this inner strength or fortitude, in which he shall never find cowardice nor laziness nor weakness nor lack of aid or succor. For with this inner strength, a noble heart may vanquish all vices. You, sir greedy Knight, why do you lack the excellent bravery of the most excellent and powerful King Alexander, who, in despising avarice, always held his hands stretched forth to give generously to his Knights? Indeed, so well known was his generosity that the very soldiers of the covetous king who made war against him deserted and pledged themselves to Alexander and thus brought down his enemy who had been their master. Therefore you ought not to allow yourself to be forced by avarice to become a slave to villainous thoughts and deeds that have no part in true chivalry. For if greed had any legitimate role to play in the chivalrous life, who could then deny that lechery ought also to be part of it?
Sloth or despair is a vice by which a man becomes a lover of wickedness and evil and a hater of goodness. The presence of this vice denotes more clearly than any other that a man is on the way to damnation. On the other hand, the presence of fortitude denotes better than any other virtue that a man is on his way to salvation. And therefore, whoever wishes to overcome and conquer the vice of spiritual lassitude requires the strength or fortitude of heart by which he may vanquish the nature of the body which is inclined to do evil because of the sin of Adam. A man afflicted with despair or sloth is full of sorrow and anger when he hears that another man is doing well. And when a man harms himself, the one suffering from despair or sloth is heavy and sorrowful only because the victim has not hurt himself more grievously still. Therefore such a person is made unhappy both by good and by bad news concerning other people. For anger and displeasure arouse one's emotions and give pain to both body and soul. Therefore, you Knight, who would overcome this same vice, must pray for fortitude to strengthen your courage against despair.
Remember, if God has done good to any man, does it not follow that He will also do good to you? For He has not given to others all that He has nor can give, nor does the fact that He has given to others take away any of His capacity to give to you. To teach us that very lesson, God has provided a parable in the gospel concerning those who labored in a vineyard. He rebuked those who had worked all day when they complained because of His generosity to others — He had given as great a wage to those who only worked during the late afternoon as to those who had worked all day. He told the complainers that his generosity to the others had done them no harm and that He might do with His own goods as He pleased.
Pride is a vice that loves inequality and desires to be unlike all other men. A proud man will have no peer nor equal but better loves to be alone. To the contrary, humility and fortitude are two virtues that love equality and in this fact are set against pride. If you, proud Knight, would conquer your pride, gather within yourself your courage, fortitude and humility. For humility without fortitude is nothing nor may it hold its own against pride. And pride can only be vanquished when you are armed and mounted on your great horse. This position itself might, perhaps, make you proud were it not that the strength of your humility causes you to remember the reason and purpose of your knighthood. Wizen you do that, you will never give in to pride. And if you are proud, your courage will lack all the strength needed to cast out proud thoughts. But if you are knocked off your horse in battle — taken and conquered -- then you shall not be so proud as you were before. For the strength of someone else's body has overcome the pride of your haughty heart. But if bodily strength may vanquish your spiritual pride, how is it that nobility itself is not a physical thing? Far better for you if your own fortitude and humility — which are spiritual entities — should expunge pride from your noble heart.
Envy is a vice at war with the justice, charity and generosity that are essential to true chivalry. Often it happens that a Knight of slothful heart and failing courage may not uphold nor properly follow the Order of Chivalry on account of his lack of inner fortitude. Nor does he have within himself the virtues of justice, charity and generosity. Because of this fact, such a Knight is envious of the good fortune of others, and is slow to achieve the aforementioned benefits by strength of arms. Rather, he is full of ill will, eager to take away other men's things which never belonged to him. For this reason he begins to ponder how he might offer bribes or lies to obtain riches, by which the Order of Chivalry is sometimes dishonored.
Anger is a troubling of the heart and results from the recollections of a wicked will. Because the heart of an angry man is troubled, he forgets his obligations. And since remembrance and understanding are the means to illuminate the pathway of true chivalry, whoever wishes to cast out of his heart the things that bring a troubling of the understanding and the spirit must recover inner strength, charity, temperance and patience. All of these virtues rule and control anger and give rest and deliverance from the sufferings and passions that anger brings. By just so much as wrath is powerful, to that very extent one who wishes to conquer it must be strong in heart and join to his strength the virtues of benevolence, abstinence, charity, patience and humility. Thus shall anger be overcome and evil will, wrath, impatience and other vices diminished. When the vices are diminished, the virtues, such as justice and wisdom, are increased. And, by the greatness of justice and wisdom, the Order of Chivalry is enhanced.
Heretofore we have described how a Knight's fortitude ought to be used against the seven deadly sins, and now we shall discuss the virtue of temperance. Temperance is a virtue that has its dwelling place between two vices. The first of these vices is excess, the sin of "too much." The other is niggardliness, the sin of "too little." Temperance is defined, therefore, as the virtue that comprises a reasonable quantity or mean between these two extremes. If there were no virtue between these two extremes, there would be no such concept as a "middle" and that is impossible. A well-taught Knight with good habits ought to be temperate in bravery, in eating, in drinking, in speech and expenditures, and in all other ways as well. Without such moderation, a Knight cannot uphold the Order of Chivalry nor may he dwell with virtue.
The habits and customs of a Knight ought to include hearing mass and sermon, adoring and praying to God, and loving and fearing Him. By such good habits a Knight may remember the corruption of this world and the inescapable fact of death and will then ask God to grant him the heavenly glory and spare him the pains of Hell. Thus he will accustom himself to the exercise of virtues and other habits that pertain to the Order of Chivalry. But any Knight who follows the contrary course and believes in divination and in soothsaying based on the flights of birds is acting against God. Such a one has greater faith and hope in the vain winds of his own flighty mind, and in the deeds of birds and diviners, than in God and His works. Consequently, such a Knight is displeasing to God and a failure for the Order of Chivalry. Neither the carpenter nor the tailor nor other 2n of similar craft. ' ave the power to do their jobs unless they have warned the art and procedures appropriate to their trade. For that same reason God has given to a Knight the discretion and judgment to fulfill his role. If, then, he fails 9 fulfill his proper role, he injures both discretion and judgment. For a Knight, who abandons his reason in order to follow those who prophesy by interpreting bird-flight, is utterly throwing away the excellence of his heart. He is like a village idiot, who has no wit or reason but instead does everything by chance. Such a Knight is a rebel against God. He deserves to be overcome by an enemy who continues to use reason and discretion against him and who has hope in God. If things were not like this, it would follow logically that crackpot prophets and their practices lacking the reason and Order of Chivalry, would have more harmony amongst themselves than God, reason, discretion, hope, faith and noble courage. And that is obviously false. I am speaking of the Knight who has faith in fortune-tellers, who says that it is bad luck to see a woman with her head uncovered in the morning and that he may not risk a good deed at arms on a day when he has seen the head of his wife or any other woman bare.
Just as a judge follows the customs of his office when discharging his judicial responsibilities, so does a Knight when he employs reason and judgment, which are the proper habits of chivalry. And like a judge who, after hearing evidence, gives false judgment based on the flight of birds or the barking of dogs or such things, so would a Knight act against the integrity of his office if he fails to do that to which reason and discretion advise him but instead believes in what the birds do by natural necessity. And since they go flying through the air haphazardly, so will be his behavior. Thus he ought to follow reason and discretion and behave according to the high honor of his heraldic symbols and pay no attention to things that happen by chance.
A Knight must be a lover of the common good, for by the whole of society was chivalry founded and established. And the common good is greater and more essential than the good of any particular group.
It belongs to a Knight to speak nobly and courteously, to have fair armor and be well clad, and to maintain a good and honest household. All of these things are necessary to - the honor of chivalry.
Courtesy and chivalry belong together, for villainous and foul words are against the rule of the Order. Loyalty, truth, hardiness, generosity, decency, humility, mercy and other similar virtues are also essential to chivalry.
The training and maintenance that a Knight provides for his horse is not as important to sustaining true chivalry as are the training and habits that he promulgates for himself and his children. For chivalry is not the having of a horse or armor; rather it is an inward possession of the Knight who properly trains his horse, himself and his son with good teachings and virtuous works. And so a wicked Knight who trains himself and his son according to evil counsels makes beasts of himself and his son and makes a Knight of his horse.
The Honor that Ought be Given a Knight
God has honored the Knight, and all the people honor him, as is recounted in this Book. And chivalry is an honorable office above all offices, orders and estates of the world— except for the order of priesthood, which pertains to the holy sacrifice of the altar. The Order of Chivalry is quite necessary with regards to the government of the world, just as we have discussed before. And therefore on this account, as well as for many other reasons, chivalry ought to be honored by the people. If a king or a prince did not incorporate chivalry into his person, because they lacked the virtues requisite to the Order, he would not be worthy to be a king, nor a prince, nor a lord of countries. For in such persons chivalry should be honored. The Knights ought then to be honored by the kings and great barons, for just as the Knights honor the high barons above ordinary people, so likewise ought the king and high barons to revere the Knights above others. Chivalry and generosity accord together. And to the generosity and lordship of the king or prince the Knights should accord. The Knight must be openhanded and generous because the king is his lord. The Knight should be loved for his goodness and bounty and feared and dreaded for his strength. He should be prayed for because he is the counselor to a king or prince or other high baron.
To hold a baron in low esteem merely because he is of the same mortal nature as every other man is, therefore, to despise all of the aforementioned qualities for which a Knight ought to be prized. Every noble baron and high lord that honors a Knight in his Court and at his table is simply honoring himself The lord who makes a wise Knight his messenger or ambassador is entrusting his honor to the excellence of the Knight's courage.
To seduce the wife of a Knight, or to lead her to wickedness, is not a way of honoring knighthood. And the wife of a Knight, who has bastard children whose fathers are lower class, is not honoring knighthood but destroying it and bringing it to nothing as well as subverting her husband's lineage. Likewise, a Knight who has children with a lower-class woman is not honoring chivalry or nobility.
If men who are not Knights are obliged to honor knighthood, much more is a Knight bound to honor his own person by being well clad and well mounted, by having fair armor and being served and honored by good people. He dishonors himselfwhen he allows wickedness or treason or evil thoughts to take control of him. The Knight who dishonors himself or his brother Knight is not worthy to receive honor from others.
In this Book here we have spoken briefly of the Order of Chivalry. Therefore we now make an end here — to the honor and praise of God our Glorious Lord and Our Lady Saint Mary, world without end. Amen.
Here ends the Book of the Order of Chivalry, which has been translated out of French into English at the request of a gentle and noble squire by me, William Caxton, dwelling at Westminster near London. This Book is not necessary for every common man to have but properly belongs to noble gentlemen who intend to enter the Order of Chivalry. That Order previously was practiced according to the instructions contained in this Book, but more recently has fallen into neglect and is not exercised as in ancient times when the noble acts of English Knights were renowned throughout the whole world. Before the incarnation of Jesus Christ, where were there ever any to be compared with Brenius and Belinus of Great Britain? They conquered Rome and many other lands far beyond, and their noble acts remain in the histories of the Romans.
And since the incarnation of Our Lord, behold that noble King of Britain named Arthur with all the noble Knights of the Round Table, whose excellent acts and chivalry occupy so many large volumes. 0 ye Knights of England, where is now the practice of noble chivalry that was used in those days? What do you do now but go to the public baths and play at dice? Leave all of this and instead read the noble volumes of Sir Lancelot and the Holy Grail, of Sir Galahad, of Tristram, of Perceval, of Gawain and many others. There will you see manhood, courtesy and nobility. Also look, in later times, at the noble deeds performed since the conquest, as in the days of King Richard the Lionheart, Edward I and Edward III, Sir Robert Knollys, Sir John Hawkwood, Sir John Chandos and Sir Walter Manny. Read Froissart and also behold the victorious and noble King Henry V and his noble brothers the Earl of Salisbury, Montague and many others whose names shine gloriously on account of the deeds that they achieved to the credit of chivalry.
Alas! What do you do, by contrast, but sleep and take your ease and stray from true chivalry. I would ask a question if it would not displease you: "How many Knights are there now in England that actually practice knighthood; that is, that know their horses and are ready to perform deeds of valor?"I suppose ifa due search were made it would be found that many are lacking. I wish it pleased our Sovereign Lord the King that twice or thrice in a year, at least, he would hold ajoust so that every Knight would be required to appear with horse and harness in order to tourney against one another — or two against two. The best would receive a prize — a diamond or jewel such as would please the prince. This would cause gentlemen to revert to the ancient customs of chivalry in order to enlarge their fame and always be ready to serve their prince whenever he should call upon them or have need of them.
Then let every man of noble blood who intends to enter that noble Order of Chivalry read this little Book and follow its instructions, keeping the commandments comprised therein. If he does, I do not fear but that he shall attain to the Order of Chivalry.
And thus I present this little Book to my most feared and dread natural sovereign lord, King Richard, King of England and of France, so that he may command this Book be owned and read by all the young gentlemen and Knights within this realm. The noble Order of Chivalry will then be better practiced and honored than it has been in recent times. By doing this, he will be doing a noble and virtuous deed; I shall pray almighty God for his long life and prosperity and that he may have victory -.over all of his enemies and that after this short and transitory life he will obtain everlasting life in heaven, where there is joy and bliss, world without end.
Sigillum Militum Xpisti
The Chancellor of the Order