Knighthood in the Modern Age

My first question received under the “Ask Medieval” feature came from Gaharet and concerns how knighthood can be carried into the modern age.  To paraphrase, what are the essential features of knighthood and how might one be a modern knight?  The first quality of a knight is to be able to fight.  All other qualities of a knight surround the central fact of the knight being a warrior.  A knight may hesitate to strike a blow, but will not hit weakly when his hand is forced.  To that end in modern times, knowledge of how to shoot and martial arts are eminently desirable.  Next there comes keeping fit and healthy for action.  Thirdly, a knowledge of Historical European Martial Arts, though archaic, help in staying fit and better imagining what combat was like from a medieval knight’s perspective.

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The central virtue of the knight is courage.  The word courage derives from the French word for heart.  The knight must take care to keep his heart pure lest the taint of sin lead him to use force wantonly.  To which end, the virtues of faith, charity, chastity, honesty, magnanimity, obedience, loyalty, and good cheer are necessary.  To perfect his character still more, the knight ought to take on the mantle of meekness, not vaunting his own achievements but giving the glory to God.  The knight par excellence is a Christian gentleman.

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Medieval Tome for October

About a week ago, I finished reading Edward: the Prince of Wales and Aquitaine by Richard Barber.  In researching its author, I discovered that he differs from newer medievalists in having fallen in love with the period through Arthurian romances rather than The Lord of the Rings.  (Yours truly has a children’s book of Erik the Red’s adventures as the cause.)  His vast bibliography reflected this as one can find numerous books on chivalry and King Arthur therein.  The way he brought Edward the Black Prince and the personages of his times to life within the pages of this work is the happy product of his enthusiasm.  At any rate, I am pleased that this enjoyable and accessible volume also happens to be the seminal biography of this English hero of the Hundred Years’ War.

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Fans of Braveheart will be intrigued to learn that this book relates the events following the death of King Edward the Longshanks, who, despite the portrayal in the film, was actually a good king.  The wife of Edward II, Isabella of France, and her lover, Roger Mortimer, deposed the king and cruelly assassinated him.  As for how cruelly, in imitation of his supposed sin of sodomy and trying to hide the unnatural cause of his death, they had a red hot iron thrust into his rectum.  (Now, you know the most horrible death ever to have been inflicted on an English king.  Quiz your friends!)  This led to a brief period when Isabella and Mortimer held sway in England, though Edward III, son of Edward II, had been crowned in 1327.  Two years later, Mortimer had angered enough noblemen with his corrupt favoritism that he himself and the queen were deposed by band of angry knights, Edward III among their party.  And England could boast of a real king once more.

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