The Code of a Medieval Knight by Alexa Aston

Alexa Aston here. I’m in the middle of writing my Knights of Honor English medieval romance series, so I’ve been doing tons of research about knights—their training, their oath of knighthood ceremony, and what they are responsible for once they’ve become a knight of the realm.

 

Various sources report about the vows every knight took. French literary historian Leon Gautier publishedLa Chevalerie in 1883, where he tried to summarize many of the vows knights took into what he termed the Ten Commandments of Chivalry. They included:

  • Thou shalt believe all that the Church teaches and thou shalt observe all its directions
  • Thou shalt defend the Church.
  • Thou shalt respect all weaknesses, and shalt constitute thyself the defender of them.
  • Thou shalt love the country in which thou wast born.
  • Thou shalt not recoil before thine enemy.
  • Thou shalt make war against the infidel without cessation and without mercy.
  • Thou shalt perform scrupulously thy feudal duties, if they be not contrary to the laws of God.
  • Thou shalt never lie, and shalt remain faithful to thy pledged word.
  • Thou shalt be generous, and give largesse to everyone.
  • Thou shalt be everywhere and always the champion of the Right and the Good against Injustice and Evil

In The Song of Roland (La Chanson de Roland), an epic poem based upon 778’s Battle of Roncevaux, Charlemagne’s knights adhered to this code of honor:

  • To fear God and maintain His Church
  • To serve the liege lord in valour and faith
  • To protect the weak and defenceless
  • To give succour to widows and orphans
  • To refrain from the wanton giving of offence
  • To live by honour and for glory
  • To despise pecuniary reward
  • To fight for the welfare of all
  • To obey those placed in authority
  • To guard the honour of fellow knights
  • To eschew unfairness, meanness and deceit
  • To keep faith
  • At all times to speak the truth
  • To persevere to the end in any enterprise begun
  • To respect the honour of women
  • Never refuse a challenge from an equal
  • Never turn the back upon a foe

Taking all of these vows into account, I began crafting my different heroes and their stories. In my first Knights of Honor tale, Word of Honor, I combined a few of these ideas and had my hero Geoffrey de Montfort remain true to the word he had pledged to another and living a life of honor by keeping a sacred promise—even though it almost costs him the woman he loves, his wife, Merryn.

In Book 2, Marked by Honor, my knight Raynor Le Roux must protect weak and defenseless (or is she?) heroine Beatrice Bordel. He also must persevere to the end and remain true to his commitment to deliver Beatrice to her betrothed, although his heart breaks in doing so, for he has fallen in love with this lady.

Book 3, Code of Honor, has knight Michael Devereux valiantly serving his liege lord, Geoffrey de Montfort—and falling in love with Geoffrey’s niece—as well as keeping his faith in God and restoring his mother to her rightful, honorable position.

As I continue writing this series, I will weave in as many of these knightly tenets as I can!

If you’re interested in my series, read the blurbs for the first four books at: https://alexaaston.wordpress.com/knights-of-honor/

 

 

One Response

  1. I love your Knights of Honor series and this is a great article on chivalry!