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Chivalry is a subject which has attracted the attention of writers from its earliest days to the present time. Modern historians hold very different opinions as to its origin and influence, and even as to its meaning. One calls it a feudal dignity, another a military institution, a third says it was less an institution than an ideal, and a fourth describes it as a view of life. Contemporary authorities also give it varied meanings. Monstrelet explains that a victory gained by the Duke of Burgundy over the Liegeois was won by the superior training of the chivalry and nobility, and that the people were over-confident and not so well armed : here it clearly means fighting-men of a higher class. When Joinville says that the second part of his Memoirs of St Louis will speak of his gallant chivalry and deeds of arms, it stands for the qualities considered characteristic of chivalry as a class. Froissart, describing how one of a batch of knights made before an attack on the enemy encouraged his fellows by urging them to shew their new chivalry, uses it as the equivalent of knighthood. Caxton, in his translation of the Ordre de Chevalerie, speaks of the rule of the Order, and of gentlemen that intend to enter chivalry, as if it were an institution, and also mentions its exercises and usages. Passages could be quoted to illustrate other interpretations, but enough have been given to shew its many-sided character.

The old French word chevalerie and the English “chivalry” are derived from the Latin caballarius, from caballus a horse, originally a pack-horse and afterwards a war-horse, and the chevalier was literally the man on the horse. In the Latin then in use he was called miles, but in the period which elapsed between the reign of Charles the Great and the Crusades horse-soldiers became the superior branch of the army, and grades appeared amongst them. By the later twelfth century the name was, strictly speaking, confined to the upper ranks of this class and was only applied to those who had been invested with the insignia of knighthood. The English word knight (A.-S. cniht) acquired the same meaning.

It seems reasonable therefore to assume that the Knight, regarded as the gentleman who served on horseback, developed out of the mounted soldier, but it is not easy to see how the system of knighthood arose. Several theories have been advanced as to its origin, and it has even been suggested that it was inspired by the Romans or the Saracens; but the view most widely accepted now is that it grew out of the custom of the Germanic tribes of solemnly investing their young men with arms when they reached the age of adolescence. In the council of the tribe, says Tacitus, one of the chiefs, usually his father or some other near rekition, presented the youth with a lance and shield, and from that timeme was recognised as a man and a warrior, and considered to belong to the republic, whereas before he had been regarded as a child, belonging only to his home. Selden and Du Cange saw in the adoption of a son by arms, practised by the Goths, a contributory cause of the development of chivalry. When Theodoric adopted the King of the Heruli in this manner, he wrote to him with a gift of horses and arms declaring him his son, but in some cases the adopted was personally arrayed with arms by the adopter. This ceremony was therefore somewhat similar to the Germanic rite, but it was not universally observed.

Some writers think that feudalism was in a large measure responsible for the growth of chivalry, and find a great similarity between feudal and chivalric ceremonies of investiture. Feudalism provided a very suitable environment for chivalry, and life in a feudal castle afforded opportunities for knightly training. Feudal fealty may also have encouraged the growth of chivalric troth, but the two were quite different; one was based on an hereditary system of land tenure, the other was a voluntary obligation, and the vassal should not be confused with the knight. Professor Bury has drawn attention to the interesting fact that generations of frontier warfare between the Greeks and the Saracens developed a type of warrior very similar to the feudal baron, and a chivalrous ideal analogous to, but quite independent of, Latin chivalry.

It is not possible to say exactly when chivalry took definite shape, but the ceremony by which knighthood was conferred in the eleventh century was of a very simple description. William of Malmesbury says that William the Conqueror, when Duke of Normandy, received from the King of France militiae insignia (the insignia of knighthood), and that Henry I sumpsit arma (assumed arms). Roger of Wendover states that William Henricum ... cingulo militari donavit, which gives the impression that girding with the baldrick was the typical feature. In the Empire, the swertleide, the ceremonial girding on the sword, was the important point, as seen in the knighting of Frederick Barbarossa’s sons. In France, at the end of the twelfth century, after the sword, spurs, and other arms had been put on the new knight, he was given a vigorous blow on the neck or the ear with the palm of the hand, usually accompanied by the admonition, sois preux. The blow was called the colée; its meaning is not clear, but it has been suggested that it represents the last injury a knight could honourably endure, or that it was to remind him of the buffet given to Christ when He was before Caiaphas, or was merely to impress the occasion on his memory. It was introduced into Germany at a somewhat later date, but in England a light blow with the flatof the sword took its place.

Far more elaborate was the method of initiation employed in the creation of the Knights of the Bath which is described in De Studio militari by Nicholas Upton, who wrote in the reign of Henry VI. The squill served the king with one course at dinner, and after he had himself dined, retired to the chamber assigned to him. His head was shaved by the king’s barber, and he then went to his bath which was covered with a linen cloth. While he was in it, lords and knights appointed by the king came and gave him his charge, and declared certain points belonging to the Order: he must love God, be steadfast in the faith, uphold the Church, and be true to his sovereign and his word. He must also uphold widows in their rights, and succour them and maidens with his goods if required. He must not sit in any place where judgment is wrongfully given, but must as far as is in his power bring all murderers and extortioners to justice. They thereupon took up some water from the bath, and made the sign of the cross on his left shoulder and kissed it, wishing him worshipe” in the name of God. After his bath the squire was laid in a bed very grandly arrayed, and when he arose was clad in hermit’s garments of Colchester russet, and kept vigil in the chapel all night. In the morning he confessed, heard mass, and offered a taper with a penny in it, He returned to his chamber, and was reclothed in a red coat and mantle, with a white coif and girdle, with a white lace on his breast, and white gloves. He mounted his horse, and, after he had alighted, entered the king’s presence, two knights put on his spurs and sword, and the king kissed him and commanded him to be a good knight.

It is not known when the “Order” of the Bath was recognised as a distinct subdivision of the Order of Knighthood. The Wardrobe Accounts record gifts of beds and robes to knights by Henry III and Edward I, and Selden quotes an entry on a Close Roll of the sixth year of King John ordering the sheriff of Southampton to allow Thomas Esturmy a scarlet robe, another of green or brown, and a pair of linen sheets, and other articles, as he was to be made a knight. These were things which Knights of the Bath would need, so it seems possible that we have here some of those creations which ended in the emergence of the “Order.”

A little French poem called L'Ordene de Chevalerie, written in the thirteenth century, describes similar rites. It purports to be the reply of a prisoner, Hugh of Tabarie (Tiberias), to a question put to him by his captor, Saladin: How is a knight made? It explains the mystical significance of what was done. The squire ought to come from the bath as free from sin as a babe from the font, and by knighthood should be led to win a bed in Paradise. The scarlet gown showed that he must give his blood in the service of God and the Church, the white belt that he must keep his body pure. His other garments, and his sword and spurs, all had their meaning according to the poem.

Knighthood was generally conferred by the sovereign or by some person delegated by him, such as the commander of his army, but this was not always the case; ecclesiastics could most certainly bestow knighthood. When it was given by a priest, a religious service of consecration was used, which made it almost a sacrament. The first example of this in France was the knighting of Amaury, son of Simon de Montfort, in 1213 by two bishops. The chronicler who narrates it thought it very unusual, but it may have been in use earlier elsewhere, as M. Leon Gautier tells us that there is a manuscript giving the prayers for the ceremony which is not later than 1050, and probably earlier. In the Empire also dignitaries of the Church sometimes conferred knighthood.

The ceremony was generally reserved for some important occasion, one of the great festivals of the Church, or a public function, such as a coronation or a royal wedding. Knighting on the battlefield was always in fashion; it was as simple as possible, and consisted merely of the accolade and a few words pronouncing the squire a knight in the name of God. This method was also sometimes used in time of peace; it was thus that the Duke of Burgundy knighted Jacques de Lalain before his feat of arms with a Sicilian.

The usual age for knighthood was twenty-one, the legal majority, but it was sometimes bestowed on younger persons for special reasons. St Louis knighted the Prince of Antioch when he was only sixteen, but he was very “discreet.”

Noble birth was a necessary qualification for knighthood, and was only dispensed with under exceptional circumstances. Chivalry was an extremely aristocratic institution when thoroughly developed, and this tended to foster pride of birth, and a determination to uphold the honour of the Order. In this sense it was very exclusive, but in another it was quite the reverse; it was diffused throughout the whole of Christendom, and its laws were the same in all countries. Consequently difference of nationality was no bar to intercourse among knights, and they formed something very like an international brotherhood. It was by no means unusual for them to visit foreign countries to perform feats of arms, and there was a feeling of comradeship even among enemies. In 1387 the English were fighting on the side of the Portuguese, and the French were assisting their adversaries, the Spaniards, but the French commander made good company with the English, as noble men of arms would, said Froissart, and an Englishman and a Frenchman jousted together before the King and Queen of Portugal and the Duke of Lancaster.

Just as the ceremony of initiation was at first very simple and afterwards became more elaborate, so too the Order itself developed greatly in the course of time. This change was partly due to the growth of civilisation, but there were also special causes for it, and among these we must place the Crusades. They created a demand for an increased number of knights, and the leaders of the expeditions took hired soldiers with them, knights serving for money, but on an honourable footing. Joinville had nine knights in his pay in the Holy Land, and he himself was in the service of St Louis. Failure to pay their wages was inevitably followed by defection, and liberality was a necessary quality in their employers, so perhaps for this reason it ranked high as a knightly virtue. Richard I, who was considered the crown of chivalry, was continually bestowing largesse and gifts, and inciting his young men by promises of reward; he thought the day lost on which he gave nothing.

The Holy Wars afforded a great incentive to courage, the fundamental virtue of chivalry; the desire to win Heaven by conquering the infidel enhanced the knights' natural love of fighting, and rivalry between crusaders of different nations stirred up a spirit of emulation. In active warfare their bravery was magnificent, sometimes almost superhuman, but they lacked sell-control, and failed in passive endurance; during the terrible siege of Antioch in 1098 many deserted.

The Crusades should have afforded the Christians good military training, as the Turks were splendid fighters, but few of them learnt much, as they were satisfied with their own methods of fighting and despised strategy as unworthy of knights.

The difference between foot-soldiers and knights was very marked during the Crusades; when Richard I intended to attack the Sicilians he said that if a footman ran away he was to lose his foot, if a knight fled his belt was to be taken from him. Joinville relates that a sergeant who had pushed a knight had to kneel before him in his shirt, crave for mercy, and offer a sword so that the knight might cut off his hand if it pleased, him.

The influence of the Crusades upon the ideals of chivalry was quite as important as their effect on its practical development. The crusaders were soldiers of the Cross fighting for the Christian faith, and the knights as leaders of the host were pre-eminently Christian warriors, and henceforth Christianity and chivalry were inseparably connected, at least in theory. When John of Burgundy, the duke’s heir, proposed to lead an army against the Turks who were menacing Hungary, Sir Guy of Tremouille and others said that it was time he entered upon the Order of knighthood, and that he could not enter upon it more nobly than by going against the enemies of Holy Church.

In some ways the Crusades were detrimental to the ideals of chivalry; crusaders were taught that it was a sin to show pity to an infidel; so mercy to the fallen, unless it were profitable, did not become one of its characteristic virtues. The Church must not, however, be held wholly to blame for this, for it was not only the Saracens who were the victims of the crusaders: at Constantinople in 1204, of killed and wounded there was neither end nor measure, says Villehardouin. Nor were the crusaders the only soldiers who indulged in slaughter: when the French were helping the Duke of Burgundy against the rebellious Flemings in 1382, they spared no more to slay them than if they had been dogs.

The doctrines that the Church could absolve men from their vows, and that it was not necessary to keep faith with infidels, were very pernicious, and frequently the Christians broke their promises. Nevertheless, a strong feeling grew up that it was incumbent upon a knight to keep his word, and the Saracens themselves were perfectly satisfied, to take the word of St Louis that his ransom and that of his fellow-prisoners would be paid, and required no pledges. The Black Prince would not break his promise even when urged by his council to revoke a covenant, and Egas Moniz, tutor to Affonso Henriques of Portugal, offered his life in atonement when his pupil refused to keep an engagement he had made for him.

The literature of the period had considerable influence on the development of chivalry; itself the outcome of chivalry, it fostered the growth of the force that gave it birth, a process of action and reaction. The chansons de geste were epics, and by extolling the great deeds of heroes incited their hearers to perform similar acts. The noblest of them, those which centred round the person of Charlemagne, held up a lofty idea of honour, of sacrifice in the service of God and the Emperor, and a high sense of the value of an oath of fealty. The Chanson de Roland also gave a beautiful picture of the devotion of brothers-in-arms. The romances of the Round Table, based on Breton lays of King Arthur and his knights, which became so popular not only in France but throughout Western Europe, were of a different type. Marvellous adventures, undertaken to satisfy mere caprice or a restless longing for change, replaced serious enterprises, and romantic love, especially love par amours, became a theme of absorbing interest. These features were reflected in the knight-errantry and gallantry of chivalry.

Devotion to ladies was one of the paramount duties of a knight; it was held that he ought to help them all to the utmost of his power, especially if they had been deprived of their rights, or were in distress of any kind. It was this spirit which made Sir John of Hainault offer himself as the champion of Queen Isabel, the ill-used wife of Edward II. In addition to the service which he owed to all ladies, a knight was expected to choose one as the special object of his affection. He exalted her as the most perfect of all creatures, and delighted to obey her commands however hard. To win her grace, or to enhance her reputation, he sought adventures, and fought for her both in war and tournaments. He frequently sent challenges to other knights for love of her, and Sir John de Vechin in 1402 announced that he had vowed to make a trial of arms, with the help of God and the lady of his affection. Sometimes the lover was content to worship his lady at a distance, but more often be tried to win her love in return for his, with a persistence which made it difficult for her to resist even if she were married. In any case the matter was kept secret if possible, and if he were honourable, he only saw her when a meeting could be arranged without blame falling on her. It was held that love made a man more hardy in deeds of arms, that it drove away fear and made him forget pain, and as a proof the examples of Lancelot and Trisfan were quoted. It was a great incentive to courage and to courtesy, but it disregarded marriage ties, it led to much deceit, even if not, as in many instances, to infidelity, and at its best it was a very artificial sentiment. It was, perhaps, an unconscious protest against the material view of marriage set forth by feudalism and the law. It seems to have been carried to the greatest lengths in the south of France and in Germany, and found literary expression in the poems of the troubadours and minnesingers. An extreme example was given in the exploits of Ulrich von Lichtenstein, who even, according to his own account, disguised himself in rags and ate with lepers in order to gain an interview with his lady.

Some writers are of the opinion that in the last half of the twelfth century there were in Languedoc and elsewhere cours d'amours, tribunals of ladies, which judged questions of chivalric love submitted to them by some third person on behalf of lovers whose names were carefully kept secret, and laid down rules to govern the art of love. This opinion is based on the writings of the troubadours, and on a book called De Arte honeste amandi, by a certain Andrew the Chaplain, who served Innocent IV from 1243 to 1254. Andrew quotes twenty judgments by various ladies, among whom is the famous Eleanor of Aquitaine, wife successively to Louis VII of France and Henry II of England. But it is very unlikely that there was anything in the nature of a permanent court of arbitration, and Andrew’s book is so conventional that it has not the value of historical testimony; the judgments do not refer to actual cases judged by cours d'amours, but were merely the outcome of society amusements, analogous to the tençons provençales, a form of debate very popular at that time, and they ought not to be taken, seriously.

A boy destined for knighthood had to undergo a long and careful training. At the age of seven he was taken from his mother’s keeping, and sent to the castle of one of the great nobles to be educated with the lord’s own children and other high-born boys and girls. Here the duty of loving God and the ladies was at once impressed upon him by the women of the household, whom he served as a page. Masters taught him such book-learning as was considered suitable to his station, and as a rule it included Latin and foreign languages. French, Dr Emil Michael tells us, was greatly spread abroad in court circles in Germany in the twelfth century; no doubt both French and Latin formed good mediums of communication between knights of different nationalities. Some nobles could not write, although they spoke two or three languages; the young Jacques de Lalain spoke, understood, and wrote both Latin and French, but he was particularly well educated. Knowledge of music, singing, and the art of making rhymes was thought very necessary, and great value was placed upon good manners, as courtesy was one of the most essential characteristics of a knight. Lighter accomplishments, such as dancing and playing at chess, tables, and other games, were not despised; a boy who was clever at them could do much to amuse the ladies and the guests entertained by his lord.

Physical culture was, however, the most important part of his training. From the age of fourteen, when he was promoted to the rank of a squire, it became harder and harder. He was gradually taught to use knightly weapons, to bear the weight of knightly armour, to ride, to jump, to wrestle, to swim, to hunt, to hawk, to joust, and to endure the utmost fatigue of all kinds. Marshal Boucicault as a youth accustomed himself to walking and running long distances, and to dancing in a coat of mail. He could spring from the ground on to the shoulders of a man on horseback, and ride astride there holding on by one hand. He could also, in full armour, climb up the under side of a long ladder by means of his hands only, and perform other acrobatic feats.

Duties of many kinds fell to the lot of squires: some attended their lord in his chamber, some served in the hall, tasted his food or bore his cup, and others had charge of his horse and arms. These services were not considered beneath the dignity of nobles; Joinville was carver to the King of Navarre. When squires were quite expert they attended their lords in battle, and took charge of his prisoners. Pages were also allowed in the field, although they did not fight. Froissart relates that at Crecy the life of Johan de Fussels was saved by his page, who followed him all through the battle and “relyved” him when he fell into a ditch; otherwise he would probably have been slain by rascals with knives, who went about killing Frenchmen as they lay on the ground. In some cases young men completed their chivalric education by travelling, going to tournaments, and studying customs in other lands.

Some squires, from motives of economy or other reasons, preferred not to take knighthood upon them, but if they were men of experience and valour they were treated with great respect, and put into positions of trust. Sir James Audley distinguished himself by his courage at the battle of Poitiers, and as a reward the Black Prince gave him five hundred marks of yearly revenues; this gift he immediately handed over to the four squires who had fought with him, saying that it was through their means and by their valour that he had gained honour.

Du Cange and Menestrier draw a distinction between a knight-bachelor and a banneret. The latter, according to them, must be a knight, and must have sufficient revenues to enable him to take a number of men into the field under his banner; but authorities differ as to the exact number required—some say fifty men-at-arms, some only twenty-five. The knight-bachelor carried a pennon; the ceremony of raising the banner, which transformed him into a banneret, took place before a battle, and Froissart gives examples of it. In 1380, when the English w ere drawn up in battle array before Troyes, Sir Thomas Tryvet brought his banner rolled up to the commander, the Earl of Buckingham, and said that if it pleased him he would that day display it, as he had revenues sufficient to Maintain it. The Earl took the banner, said that it pleased him very well, tod delivered it to Sir Thomas, praying that God would give him grace to do nobly that day and always. Sir Thomas then displayed the banner. Olivier de la Marche, who describes how Louis de Vieuville raised his banner at Rupelmonde, says that the Duke of Burgundy cut the tail off his pennon before returning it, thus transforming it into the square banner to which the banneret had a right. He adds that the herald stated in support of Louis’ claim that he “ysse de ancienne banniere,” and holds a “seigneurie” which was “anciennement terre de banniere;” so apparently the right to a banner was sometimes hereditary and attached to certain lands.

Men whose chief business was fighting needed good weapons and armour, and knights who could afford it had the best that could be obtained. The weapons commonly used were the lance, the sword, the battle-axe, and the misericord. Joinville, praising the gallantry shown by the Christians at Mansurah, says that none made use of the bow, crossbow, or other artillery, but the conflict consisted of blows by battle-axes, swords, and butts of spears. The French despised bows and artillery, and thought their employment unworthy of gentlemen. The lance was generally made of ash with an iron head, and a pennon was attached to the top of the wooden part. The sword was the usual weapon for the melée; the Germans and Normans liked long swords, and the French short ones. Spain was famous for the manufacture of them, and the best came from Saragossa. The battle-axe was valuable for fighting at close quarters; Richard I did fearful execution with it.

A definite sequence of various kinds of armour developed during the Middle Ages: mail, plate and mail combined, and finally complete plate armour. Improvements were always being introduced, and when it reached perfection in the fifteenth century every part of the wearer was protected, the head, arms, body, legs, even the fingers and the toes. In addition, he had a large shield to ward off blows. Milanese armour was the best, but some came from Germany in the fifteenth century; the Germans borrowed the ideas and then produced a cheaper article; so they obtained the greater part of the industry, which was carried on at Nuremberg and Augsburg. It was very difficult to penetrate medieval plate-armour before the introduction of fire-arms, and a knight was fairly safe unless he fell; then his heavy covering made him helpless, and he could be easily trampled to death, or a dagger inserted between the plates. Under normal circumstances he was not killed, because it was much more profitable to obtain a ransom for him. Large sums of money could be made in this way: the Duke of Anjou computed an adventure he had at Bergerac in 1377 as worth more than three hundred thousand francs, as all the chivalry of Gascony was taken. It was unchivalrous to treat noble prisoners harshly; Froissart praises the English for their generosity in this respect, but the Spaniards, he says, bound their prisoners in chains of iron, and in this lack of courtesy they were like the Almaynes. The hauberk, which covered the body, was by some considered a mark of knighthood, like the baldrick and gold spurs; Joinville says that in 1241 he had not put it on, meaning that he had not been knighted. Over the hauberk a knight wore a surcoat or tabard, and upon it and upon his shield his arms were displayed, so that it was easy to identify him. When the French rode out to meet the Turks under Bayazid near Nicopolis in 1396, the lords were all so richly dressed in their “cote armure” that they looked like little kings, which served them in very good stead when they were defeated, as the Turks saved them alive because they thought they would get such great ransoms.

If a knight disgraced himself he was degraded from the Order of chivalry; his spurs were hacked off, his sword broken, his arms reversed, and all his armour and insignia taken from him. In France, in the twelfth century, the proceedings were simple, but at a later date they became quite theatrical; the vigils for the dead were sung while the knight’s arms were taken off, and he was afterwards borne on a hearse to church, where the office for the dead was finished.

The Military or Crusading Orders were the outcome of two very different, almost conflicting, forces, chivalry and monasticism, brought together by zeal for combating the in fidel; and the knights of these Orders, as long as they were true to their inspiration, embodied the ideal of a Christian soldier as it presented itself to the men of those days. The Templars and the Hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem developed into a permanent force for the defence of the Christian kingdom of Jerusalem. In both, the knights, whose duty it was to fight, became a superior class with distinctive clothing and higher rank. True to the rules of chivalry, they were an aristocratic body; no knight was admitted unless he could prove that he was of noble birth. As soldiers they were invaluable; on many a hard-fought field they showed true knightly courage, and their discipline was superior to any thing the medieval world saw until Charles VII of France formed his gendarmerie. Any knight who armed, or disarmed, or left the ranks without leave, was severely punished. In a small affray between the Turks and the French at Bait-Nubah, in the Third Crusade, a Hospitaller charged the enemy before his companions came up, and he was only pardoned through the intercession of many influential persons. These Orders were not long in becoming wealthy and powerful, and far removed from their earlier austerity. The loss of the Holy Land forced them to leave Palestine; the Templars came to a tragic end, but the Hospitallers continued their war against infidels elsewhere, at Rhodes and then at Malta.

The Teutonic Order first came into prominence at the siege of Acre in 1189 when it succoured wounded Germans. It took its statutes from the Templars, with the addition of a few from the Hospitallers. It suffered from the jealousy of the older Orders, and had some difficulty in asserting its independence, but in 1210 Herman of Salza obtained for it all the privileges they enjoyed. It is best known, however, by its crusade against the heathen in the Baltic Provinces. After a fearful war, which lasted fifty years, it succeeded, with the help of the Order of the Sword and various bands of adventurers, in conquering Prussia and setting up a strong government.

Spain and Portugal had military Orders of their own, engaged in the continual war they waged against the Moors. The most important in Spain were the Order of St James (Santiago) of Compostela, whose work in safeguarding the passages to the shrine of that saint developed into the general defence of the kingdom, and the Order of the Knights of Calatrava, who undertook the defence of the fortress of Calatrava, the key to Toledo. There was a branch of the Order of Santiago in Portugal, and other Orders which were also renowned for valour. The Order of St Benedict of Avis took charge at first of Evora, and afterwards of the fortress whose name it bore. The Order of Christ defended the fortress of Castro Marino, and made war against the Moors by land and sea.

Very different from these were the Orders of chivalry; they took their origin later, and did not grow up spontaneously in answer to a pressing need, but were deliberately founded by kings or other grandees, ostensibly from love of chivalry, but really in most cases with ulterior motives. Reserved for men of noble birth and irreproachable character, membership became a coveted honour, and was bestowed by the sovereigns, with great political skill, upon those whom they wished to reward or to attach to their interests. One of the most famous of these Orders was that of the Knights of the Garter, instituted by Edward III. There are many stories as to the origin of its name, hut no credence can be attached to them. Some writers, following Froissart, give the date of its foundation as 1344; others on the evidence of payments for garters in the wardrobe accounts place it some years later, and the first feast in 1350. Edward sent heralds to publish it in France, Scotland, Burgundy, Hainault, Flanders, Brabant, and the Empire, and offered safe-conducts to any knights who cared to come and take part in the jousts and tourneys which accompanied it. His object was, probably, as Ashmole suggests, to gather round him the most active spirits from abroad and draw them to his party, as he was engaged in war with France. The number of the original knights was twenty-six, including the sovereign, who was the King of England. There were also twenty-six priests, and twenty-six poor knights. Unfortunately the original statutes have perished, and the earliest transcript of them dates from the reign of Henry V. The greater number of the ordinances deal with the election, installation, and clothing of the knights, but one lays down the rule that no knight may go out of the kingdom without the knowledge and licence of the sovereign, a very wise stipulation if he wished to retain them for his own service. Great care was taken to make sure that the knights were worthy of the Order, and Monstrelet relates that Sir John Fastolf was deprived of his Garter because he fled from the battle of Pataye, but it was afterwards restored to him as he made excuses which were considered reasonable. It was bestowed not only upon Englishmen but also upon foreigners of high position; the Count of Ostrevant won a prize at some jousts at Smithfield in 1390, and was afterwards made a knight, which caused great dissatisfaction in France, as it was reported that by taking the Garter he had become the King of England’s man, and that none could enter into the Order unless he made oath never to bear arms against the Crown of England.

It was perhaps to counteract the influence of the Order of the Garter that the King of France instituted the Order of the Star in 1351. The knights swore not to accept any other Order without his leave, nor to go on distant journeys without giving him warning. The Order was initiated with great splendour, but the disaster to the French nobility at Poitiers put a stop to its fetes. It lasted, however, until King Louis XI founded the Order of St Michael to counterbalance the new prestige of the Order of the Golden Fleece.

This celebrated Order, by far the most interesting of the many of a similar nature which were established in many countries in the century which followed the foundation of the Order of the Garter, was created in 1429 by Philip the Good of Burgundy, on his marriage with Isabella of Portugal and Lancaster. He stated that his object was to honour worthy knights and to encourage feats of chivalry, for the reverence of God, the maintenance of the Christian faith, and the honour of knighthood. Some of the rules of the Order were well calculated to excite knightly ardour, but some clearly inculcated loyalty to the duke and his house. Each knight swore on his election to render personal service if any one tried to damage the duke or his successors, to submit all quarrels between himself and other members of the Order to the arbitration of the duke or his deputy, and not to undertake wars or long journeys without his licence. To keep up a standard of conduct worthy of the Order, a stringent examination into the behaviour of each knight was made at meetings of the chapter, and they were all required to give information about their fellows. Any knight guilty of heresy, treason, or flight from the battlefield, was expelled from the Order; for less serious offences lighter punishments were inflicted.

Tournaments formed one of the favourite amusements of knights, and in earlier days played an important part in their education, by giving them practice in mimic warfare. It is impossible to trace their beginning; some late writers say that one was held by Henry the Fowler in the tenth century, while a chronicle of St Martin of Tours ascribes their invention to Geoffrey of Preuilly, who died in 1066. They are mentioned in chronicles of the eleventh century, and probably arose out of the sports and games engaged in by the young men of those days. The name conflictus Gallici given to them by Matthew Paris shows that they were believed to have been of French origin. Some rules attributed to Henry the Fowler, but certainly of much more recent date, shew the views held about these matters when chivalry had become mature. No one who had injured the Church, been false to his lord, fled without cause from the field of battle, made a false oath, committed an outrage on a woman, or engaged in trade, was to be allowed to take part in a tournament, and anyone who could not prove his descent from four noble families was to be chased from the lists.

They were at first very rough and dangerous; the Church was horrified at the waste of men, money, and horses, and Pope after Pope issued bulls excommunicating those who took part in them. The Lateran Council of 1179 even denied Christian burial to those killed in tournaments. Secular authorities also disapproved of them because disorders often arose when so many armed men gathered together, and many monarchs forbade them, but neither ecclesiastical nor lay censures seem to have had much effect. Stephen was greatly blamed for allowing them in England, and Henry II put a stop to them. Richard I reintroduced them into this country, because he did not wish French knights to think the English awkward and unpractised in arms, and also, perhaps, because they were a source of revenue, as he exacted payments for tourneying which were graduated according to rank and were payable in advance. They were soon controlled by royal ordinances, and infractions of rules were punished by forfeiture of arms and horses and by imprisonment. After this, although they were sometimes forbidden in troublous times, they were encouraged by the Crown under normal conditions. On the marriage of Edward III great jousts and tourneys were held which lasted three weeks; and John Tiptoft, Earl of Worcester, the Constable of England, by order of Edward IV drew up a list of rules as to the manner of gaining prizes.

From the time of Philip Augustus they were extremely popular in France, especially in the north-east and in the districts bordering on it. John I of Brabant, who was knighted in 1294, is said to have fought in no less than seventy, and to have been mortally wounded in the last. Many brilliant tournaments were held by the Dukes of Burgundy, and after the death of Charles the Bold the traditions of his house passed to the Empire with Maximilian I, who married his daughter Mary. The Germans had always been addicted to tournaments, but in earlier days they were somewhat rough; in the time of Maximilian they became very elaborate, and of almost weekly occurrence.

As civilisation advanced, devices for rendering tournaments less dangerous were introduced. Special weapons were used; a thirteenth-century ordinance directs that the lance should be blunted, and in the fourteenth century it was tipped with a coronal, which could catch on the armour but not pierce it. The swords were pointless, and not too heavy. René of Anjou even suggests that short spurs would be better than long, as they would do less harm in the press. Armour was padded to ward off blows and prevent jarring. A cushion over the chest of the horse acted as a buffer; he was carefully trained and often blindfolded and his ears stopped with wool, so that he might not take fright, swerve, and unhorse his rider.

The tourney proper was an encounter between two bodies of combatants, the joust was a single combat; generally both took place at tournaments in early days. At Chauvency in 1285 eighty couples met in the first two days, and a melee began late in the afternoon so that darkness might separate the fighters. By the fifteenth century the joust tended to supersede the melée, and when it was fought on horseback in the lists, a banner was put up to prevent collisions between the horses; at first this was merely a rope hung with cloth, but from about 1430 planks were used. Jousters sometimes fought on foot, and during the last half of the fifteenth century barriers were put up even between them. Jousting at the tilt prevailed in England, but abroad other varieties were practised. Both in England and on the Continent meetings called Round Tables were held, at which the challengers met all comers, and also kept open house for them. A pas d'armes was similar, but some particular place was defended. Ladies were always present at tournaments, and were treated with great deference. When prizes came into fashion in the latter part of the thirteenth century, they presented them. These were often of considerable value, a precious stone, a falcon, a horse, or even the hand of an heiress. In addition to this, the conqueror was entitled to the horse and arms of the vanquished, and could also demand a ransom for his person; so tournaments were profitable to those who were highly skilled.

Besides the jousts of peace, as these friendly encounters were called, there were jousts a l'outrance; in those, ordinary weapons were used, and one or other of the combatants was often seriously hurt, or even killed. The opponents were not necessarily enemies; they often fought for the honour of their ladies or their country, or to gain renown in arms for themselves. There were also judicial combats, which were a matter of life and death, but they belong to the domain of law rather than to that of chivalry.

Tournaments reached their highest development in the first half of the fifteenth century; by the middle of the century it became customary to combine mummeries and pageants with them, and they began to decline. Mechanical contrivances and humorous devices on the trappings of the horses took all dignity from them, and in the sixteenth century more attention was paid to the pageantry than to the jousts. In spite of their faults they had served some useful purposes: they had done something to inculcate an idea of fair play, for nothing annoyed the spectators more than a foul stroke, and, by encouraging courtesy between knights from many different countries, they had softened national prejudices.

Heraldry was an important adjunct of chivalry; it fostered pride of birth, and acted as a spur to the desire for honour. As signs of nobility heraldic emblems were highly prized, and they were of practical value in enabling a knight to be recognised; on the battlefield his banner and his cri d'armes formed rallying points for his followers. Heralds of all countries worked under the same rules, and went freely from one land to another. The use of coats of arms came into existence about the middle of the twelfth century; the science of heraldry was fully developed by the end of the thirteenth, but by the latter part of the fourteenth it had become very elaborate and overburdened with detail. Finally, it was subjected to royal authority, lost all. initiative, and became merely pictorial.

The Court of Chivalry had jurisdiction in all quarrels concerning coat­armour, pedigrees, personal affronts, and other matters touching the honour of gentlemen of which the Common Law did not take cognisance. It had power to authorise combat for the judgment of these affairs, but frequently settled them by arbitration. Its most severe punishment was degradation from knighthood. It was most active in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries; after that it sank into the position of an heraldic office, and by 1600 it was an anachronism.

All the ceremonies and adjuncts of chivalry were, as we have seen, simple in their early stages, grew more and more elaborate, and at last deteriorated; chivalry itself passed through the same phases. M. Gautier considers that it readied its apogee in the twelfth century and began to decline at the beginning of the thirteenth, but some writers do not detect any signs of deterioration until the end of that century or even later. Something may be due to the taste of the critic; in the twelfth, century chivalry was more virile, but it was also ruder; in the thirteenth it was more refined, but more artificial and less serious. Its decline did not progress simultaneously in all countries. In Italy this started very early because the growth of commerce in the towns was not favourable to it. As we have seen, the Emperor Maximilian I tried to revive it in his dominions but without much success. In Spain there was an increase in the practice of chivalry in the fourteenth century, inspired, perhaps,by the visits of the Black Prince and Hu Guesclin. In Portugal, after the decline of the Military Orders, its traditions were carried on by individuals, the most famous of whom were Don Nuno Alvares Pereira, the Constable, and the sons of King John I—men who combined knightly daring and accomplishments with fervent religious faith. Affonso V won the title of the Knightly King in his expeditions against the Moors in Africa. He attracted to his court distinguished foreigners bent on deeds of arms, and many of his subjects visited other lands for the same purpose. Some of the causes of the decline of chivalry were inherent in its nature—its artificiality inevitably ended in lifelessness, the custom of giving largesse led to extravagance which ruined many knights, and the suicidal civil wars in England and France depleted the nobility and lowered their standards of conduct. Other causes were due to extraneous circumstances— the invention of fire-arms rendered medieval armour useless, cavalry ceased to be the dominant arm, and the development of the art of war made chivalric methods of fighting ineffective. The changes which took place in the later Middle Ages, the growth of trade, the rise of the middle class, the spread of education, all tended to produce conditions unsuited to the continuance of chivalry. In the broader sense, as a spirit inspiring men to fight for the right and protect the weak, it is still alive, but as an Order with distinctive characteristics, demanding special training and qualifications, it passed away with the age that gave it birth, leaving behind it, indeed, imperishable monuments of literature, real and fanciful, such works as Froissart’s Chronicles, the Mort d'Arthur and Amadis de Gaul, and the mingled satire and ideal of Don Quixote.