The Middle Ages of Europe were governed by a system which is referred to as feudalist. The people of this system flow together well; society in these times require noble people to set the example for the younger. The ranks of the noble include counts, lords, knights, kings, queens, etc. These noblemen can be compared to as dueling politicians; they watch over their communities, keeping everything orderly, and they fend off any attackers trying to besiege land. The peace keeper of the society is the knight. The knight has been appointed the position of knight by a king because his traits and characteristic best fit the standards of a good warrior and protector of the civilization. A knight is truthful, honest, capable, educated, physically fit, noble, sincere, and subservient to the king.
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In “Arthurian Romances” the knight has a duty to protect his country. When he approaches a situation he does not attack the other party until he has warned them. His place in the feudalist system involves other workers (vassals) to do his bidding. They suit him up in his armor and ready his horse and weapons. The knight in the first story is named Erec, son of the King Lac. He marries a girl named Enide, who is at his side throughout the story. Together they adventure through the countryside and Erec fights his battles as they go on. The knight will give up on nothing ever, it is his duty to serve his King and God to the best of his ability. “Sire, I have no wound from which I am suffering so much that I want to interrupt my journey. No one could detain me; tomorrow- I shall tarry no more- I want to leave in the morning, when I see the day is dawning.” (1) He is extremely fair when dealing with other knights, that is he doesn’t take cheap shots or kill the other off; he is polite and courteous. To his wife he has total respect and love to give, but he isn’t hesitant when telling her to stay put. The story puts the knight in a high class because he is extremely helpful to the community.
(1) Chretien De Troyes, Arthurian Romances, Trans. William W. Kibler (New York: Penguin Books, 1991) p. 89
The knight prays constantly to his God for protection. He fights others in battles with an extremely high risk of death, so he likes to profess a faith. Erec of Lac is honored by his community of Christians for his heroics and courage. His faith is necessary to keep his beautiful wife. They use religion to establish trust in their relationship to ensure happiness together.
Knighthood is only developed for the man because women are only seen as maid servants. Authority feel that a woman cannot possess all the qualities of a knight so they put them to work as maids. The only women who have high ranks in the feudalist system are those who are married to the noble ranks. Otherwise, women will marry into poverty where they will remain for the rest of their time.
In the “Story of the Grail,” Chretien De Troyes takes knighthood from a beginning perspective of a young boy. Perceval is a young boy with a dream of becoming a knight. In his own way he becomes one. He learns the techniques and attitudes of a knight greatly influence his performance. Perceval wants to obtain all the qualities of a good knight, also known as chivalry. “Perceval, the story relates, had lost his memory so totally that he no longer remembered God. April and May passed five times- that was five full years- without his having entered a church or adored God or His Cross. Five years he remained like this, yet inspite of everything he never ceased to pursue deeds of chivalry: he sought out the most difficult, treacherous and unusual adventures, and found enough to test his valour, never undertaking any venture that he was unable to accomplish.” (2) The knight had a good heart because of his religion and that was what kept Perceval going.
These stories illuminate the noble of authority as strong, as well as responsible and faithful to his God and his King. Knights were the figures that helped a community stay safe and strong. Through the feudalist system they stayed the leaders and the people who lived by learning. They had little aristocracy in their blood and more in the fight for justice. The knights played an important role in determining right from wrong.
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