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What Is Chivalry? The Real Meaning, The Knights Code & Modern Men

What is chivalry? What is its real meaning? How can a man learn how to be chivalrous, and learn from the real knights code of yore? Find out here!

meaning of chivalry

What is chivalry? Does anyone even know the meaning of chivalry these days? True chivalry may be dying, but it’s still something many men need to understand and use to become better men.

There’s a real history about how it all began, and how we can learn from it and use it in real life.

Before you understand how to be chivalrous in these modern times, you need to know what a woman expects from a man and what you can do to be that man. Reflecting back on medieval times, can a man really be that chivalrous today or would that just be considered stupid? Or worse, would they call him a SIMP?

[Read: What is a SIMP? Meet the Gen Z’s version of the Nice Guy]

What is chivalry?

Chivalry is derived from the French word cheval from the Latin word caballus, and was to be considered primarily from three points, the military, the social, and the religious.

It is best known as the belief and practices of the knights of medieval times, and this code of ethics or conduct was upheld by the knights of yore. These codes were written many centuries ago, and a man who was to be called a knight had to abide by all of the several rules that summed up the “knight’s code.”

Hundreds of manuscripts on chivalry have been found over the years and there is no definite proof that any one of them is the accurate one, but all the manuscripts mention similar codes using different words.

What is chivalry in medieval times?

Chivalry meant that a knight was loyal, courteous, protective, honorable, and gentle. They sought love and glory, for his king and his lady. A few other traits were courage, being humble, obedient, and chaste. They lived to serve their king and country and to defend the crown.

Knights who live by the code of chivalry were to show self-control, respect to authority and to women, protect the innocent or those weaker or unarmed, they were never to attack an unarmed foe, attack from behind, or use a weapon on an opponent that was not equal to the attack. They were to administer justice, avoid cheating, lying and torture, and were expected to avenge the wronged.

They would never abandon a friend or noble cause or betray them. They were to exhibit manners, avoid deception, keep one’s word of honor and die with valor.

The knight’s code of chivalry in love

Literature on the codes of knights was written in medieval times, and is followed to an extent, even to this day. But what concerns us are the traits of a chivalrous knight when it came to his love life in a manner that women would appreciate. Andreas Capellanus, a twelfth-century author and courtier wrote the twelve chief rules of chivalrous courtly love.

These days, it may seem out of its elements but if you’re a man who craves to know the real beginning of modern chivalry, here’s your answer.

The knightly code of chivalrous love

1. Thou shalt avoid avarice like the deadly pestilence and shalt embrace its opposite.

2. Thou shalt keep thyself chaste for the sake of her whom thou lovest.

3. Thou shalt not knowingly strive to break up a correct love affair that someone else is engaged in.

4. Thou shalt not choose for thy love anyone whom a natural sense of shame forbids thee to marry.

5. Be mindful completely to avoid falsehood.

6. Thou shalt not have many who know of thy love affair.

7. Being obedient in all things to the commands of ladies, thou shalt ever strive to ally thyself to the service of love.

8. In giving and receiving love’s solaces let modesty be ever present.

9. Thou shalt speak no evil.

10. Thou shalt not be a revealer of love affairs.

11. Thou shalt be in all things polite and courteous.

12. In practicing the solaces of love, thou shalt not exceed the desires of thy lover.

[Read: 25 must-follow relationship rules for a perfect love life]

The knight without the horse

To be honest, it’s not easy to follow most of the ancient rules of chivalry. And those rules don’t really teach the knight to throw his cloak down for his lady to step on either. In today’s time, chivalry is more about giving flowers, holding open doors, ensuring that a woman is feeling safe, respecting a woman, assisting her in her time of need, and the works.

In those medieval days too, the code of chivalry in love was a set of codes to behave with women, but when it comes to wooing a lady, they were wooed with kindness, care, and respect. [Read: How to woo a woman – 17 secrets to sweep a girl off her feet]

And to this day, a lady craves for the same bearing that drew her to the medieval knights. She just wants to be respected, loved, and taken care of.

Knowing what chivalry is, isn’t just about opening doors and pulling back a chair. Really now, if you’re out on a date by a lonely beach or at a park, you obviously can’t pull back imaginary chairs or open doors out of thin air. And if it hasn’t rained in a while, you can’t just take your jacket off and drop it on the ground that she treads on.

But you can still do other things that show you care. And that’s what chivalry is all about. Just because a situation doesn’t pop out in front of you when you want to show your concern, don’t assume chivalry is dead on your date.

You don’t really need to save your date from the fire breath of a dragon or from a speeding truck to prove your undying affections. [Read: 14 small gestures to make your woman feel loved and special]

Understanding chivalry in love

When you place your woman’s feelings and opinions above all others in every aspect when she’s around you, it’s nothing but following the modern code of chivalry.

Hold her hands or guide her by placing your palm on her back while crossing the street, allow her to walk on the curb side of the street, listen to her smallest needs and help her or assist her the way she would like. These are just a few knightly ways by which you can let her know how much she means to you.

A feminine woman wants to be reassured about your love and wants to be taken care of when she’s around you. As long as you can give your lady love, comfort and security, she would fall more in love with you and your chivalrous nature, even if she isn’t really into chivalry in the first place.

Now, who needs a horse and shining armor when you can be just as chivalrous without it? [Read: How to be a man the way he really should be]

Chivalry in the modern day

Many centuries ago, when the kings ruled, knights of valor and honor tread the earth. They left behind a legacy of chivalry and love. Women still want that. Unfortunately, the men of today don’t know what that legacy was all about, and most men have no idea about the revered Code of the Knights.

But then again, haven’t women changed too?

On one hand, they swoon over men who show the slightest bit of chivalry, and on the other, women seem to be killing chivalry slowly! To be quite realistic, chivalry is indeed dead. [Read: An opinion on why chivalry is dead – Because men are lazy!]

Back in the days of yore, men knew how to be chivalrous. Knights used to take off their cloak and drop it over a puddle so their lady wouldn’t dirty her feet. They used to pick up a damsel’s scarf when she dropped it on the ground in a trice. Can men really do that today without being called a SIMP? [Read: What is Simping? A guide to the “Suckas who Idolize Mediocre P*ssies”]

Learning how to be chivalrous through experiences

The last time I actually helped a pretty girl pick up an entire bag of grocery she dropped all over the supermarket floor, all she did was give me one smug glance and walk away, like I was her blooming man-servant or something.

And I remember a friend of mine who gave his date his overcoat because it was drizzling one cold evening. At first, he told me that she was all smiles and giggles while walking down the street. When they finally rushed into a restaurant down the street, the drizzle had turned into a downpour. They walked into the restaurant and his date took off his overcoat to reveal a clean dress, whereas, he on the other hand, was sodden and wet. And the worst part of it all, was that his date was quite uncomfortable to get close to him or acknowledge the fact that he was drenched to the bone because he gave his coat to her.

Instead of being thankful, she was actually miffed and sarcastically ridiculed him for being drenched and embarrassing her at the restaurant. Dry wit, right? That day, he gave up on figuring out how to be chivalrous and made up his mind never to try being the knight in shining armor. [Read: The mean girl – 25 traits to recognize her and stay away]

So who do we blame for the death of chivalry, us men, or the women who always seems to have a problem with the lack of a chivalrous streak in men? Well, all I can say here is, “don’t hate the game, hate the damn rules!”

Women and their confusing stance on chivalry

Strangely, women can be really weird at times. And it’s quite hard to please them when we just don’t know whether they’re looking for a guy with a chivalrous streak in them or not.

We have those damsels-in-distress that just can’t imagine their life without a chivalrous man. And they are usually the ones that get pissed off if you don’t wipe their seat before they park their backsides, or get totally upset and act aloof if you don’t pull a chair back for them or hold the door open. [Read: The damsel in distress and why men find them so irresistible]

Now I appreciate this kind of woman. As demanding as she seems, she would acknowledge your gesture, or at least know deep inside that you care *hopefully?*. If she doesn’t seem to care, then just cut down your chivalrous moves. Blame your lack of chivalry on her, which is the real truth anyways, because she didn’t give a damn when you were being nice, or worse, she thinks you’re simping, so why care.

The women who hate chivalry

On the other hand, we have the bra-burning extreme side of feminism, the woman who takes offense for anything a man does for her, because she can do it herself. She’s usually the one who would walk right up ahead of you at a restaurant and open the door herself while you try catching up, or the one who just can’t digest the fact that you’re stepping aside so she can enter the elevator first. [Read: Misconceptions about dating a feminist woman all men must know]

She’d just assume that you want to check her ass as she walks ahead! She’s also the one who gives you a disdainful stare and scoffs when you hold the door open for her. Of course, she thinks you think that she’s just too weak to open the door herself! [Read: 19 inspiring male feminist ideas from men around the world]

So how the hell do you figure out how to be chivalrous and show that you respect a woman? Well, it’s pretty simple really. Just be really nice to her however she behaves. Just like the masculine energy has a streak of chivalry in us, the feminine energy too has a streak of I-want-to-be-pampered in them.

So irrespective of whether she thinks you’re checking her ass or not, be courteous. So what if you’re checking her ass, let her know it’s hot! But if she’s the damsel-who-loves-chivalry, be your true chivalrous self. She’ll love you for it, and you’ll feel really good about it too. [Read: Things girls like to hear from me to feel special and loved]

Chivalry and a woman’s friends

So you want to date a woman and impress her? The first thing you need to know is how to be chivalrous, and the second thing you need to know is that women always need reassurance. Women need their friends’ opinion before they step out in a new dress. They need to have a majority vote before deciding the place to have a quick lunch. And about whether the lunch has to be quick or not, well, now that too needs a vote too.

So what makes you think you’re any different?! Now let’s try figuring out what happens in your date’s life after your first coffee date. She hops, skips and jumps back to her place and calls or texts her friend/s. All her friends want to know all the details. So it’s either a video call or a long to and fro of group texting. And everything is discussed in intricate detail.

This is when your chivalry comes into the picture. Irrespective of whether your damsel has noticed it or not, her friends will.

I remember one time when I had a first date. I was being exceptionally nice to her, but she just didn’t acknowledge it one bit. I didn’t give up though. I kept up with the nice me in everything I did with her. I dropped her back to her place, headed back to mine and wondered if I made any impact on her.

I don’t know how it happened, but she actually texted me that very night, and soon we started going out. I later found out that her friends had convinced her that I was a nice guy and asked her to call me back. Apparently, they thought I was the damn definition of a chivalrous knight! [Read: How to charm a girl and flatter her into liking youl]

I mean, how hard can it be to dust her seat, pull a chair back, give her your coat, and hold the door open for her? But you see, doing that made all the difference. The moral of this? Even if she doesn’t show her appreciation, don’t give up on being chivalrous. Her friends might see your chivalrous nature as a sign of gentlemanly behavior. [Read: How to attract women at first sight with the smallest effort]

Chivalry, women and your daily life

Chivalry is a way of life, and one that can help you show the woman with you that you care for her, respect her and appreciate her company. Understanding how to be chivalrous isn’t just a way to impress women. It makes you a man of principle and can make you a better man who’s appreciated and trusted by the people around you.

A few women may think you’re being ridiculous by being chivalrous or by trying to please them with chivalry. But truth be told, they’ll regret having walked out of your life someday. [Read: 14 things women actually want in a man they want to date]

Knowing how to be chivalrous isn’t an art to please women, it’s a way of life to appreciate the people around you. And if a woman you’ve dated prefers to lead an unhappy life with a man who doesn’t appreciate her or respect her for what she’s worth, it’s something she’ll come to regret eventually.

So if anyone ever tells you that chivalry is dead, don’t think twice about it. Chivalry may be dying all around you, but one chivalrous knight is all it takes to make falling in love a fairytale experience for that special woman in your life.

After all, a true understanding of the meaning of chivalry in love can make any guy a more accomplished and better man in more ways than one.

[Read: 18 qualities of a good man that sets him apart from the lesser men]

So what is the meaning of chivalry today? It’s really nothing but a way to show your lady in little ways that you respect her and love her. Do you think you have what it takes to be chivalrous?

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Vinod Srinivas Serai
Vin Serai
Vin Serai is the founder of LovePanky.com, and has delved deep into the working of love and relationships for almost two decades. Having dipped his feet in almo...