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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Knights, Warriors and Chivalry

The news of yesterday brought that 'English Spirit' to the fore, with the yoemenry, damsels, gentlemen and wenches of Britain sticking out their tongues at the hoi poloi, the 'elites' in both Europe and Britain and telling them to shove it. 

Many of those modern elites were modern 'knights' like Sir Alan Sugar, Sir Elton John and a host of faux knights whose claims to fame rested on a shore far distant from Honour and Virtue.

Not that the yoemen disliked Knights as such. They had always retained a strong respect for real Knights and the call to Arms that the Unofficial English National Anthem spells out.  A call to serve God and country, in that order. By fighting evil.
Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!

I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand
There is a yearning to recapture those Virtues and Honour which seem sunk under the weight of wet and slimey forces we find outside of the Tavern in Hilary's Village. There is a yearning to find Grace and the source of Goodness. And defend them. Yet we spend so much time in this temporal world bowing to dark forces instead of rising up against them, sword in hand.

So it was that my Lady of the Tavern sat and sipped her Southern Comfort and tasted her dish of Trifle and took the listening customers back in time for some comparisons. She is married to a Knight of today and knows Honour and Virtue. It is 'meet and just' to have a woman's view held up to regard.

The Knight we see in history was a 'God's Man'. First and foremost. He was a Catholic. Despite the good and the bad spoken of Popes and prelates, the Knight owed his allegiences first to God, his Heavenly King, and the Church established by that King of Kings, and then to his earthy King. In those days he considered Kingship to be conferred by God. It was a Divine Office.

And he was a Warrior. A man of Virtue (from the latin, 'manly')

We have few Kings today. We are ruled by one another: 'Representatives'. There is little or no Divine Will in sight. Our political leaders can barely raise an eye to the Cross at the best of occasion and times. Few are even 'manly'.

Socrates viewed the many Virtues as seperable in circumstance, and war was one such circumstance in which a man's 'Virtue' was shown in battle. Courage and Mercy and Justice were paramount on the field, while care and gentleness, kindness and protection of the weak and defenceless were to be exhibited and refined in quite different circumstances. The Knight could display all in the appropriate time and place.  

Let us hear what M'Lady had to say:
"Be strong, and let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. The Lord will do what is good in his sight."   2 Samuel 10:12 

"Blessed be the LORD, my rock,who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle;"  Psalm 144:1
Much has been spoken on many forums about the meaning of knighthood and chivalry.  Its original purpose has been perverted over the years.  The modern use of the word ‘chivalry’ is a pale reflection of what the term once meant. 
 It was something that was never meant for just the supposed  “fairer” or “weaker” sex as it is spoken of so often in our modern culture. 
True Chivalry is gone, no one living now has ever experienced or seen such an ideal.  We only get small glimpses and images of such through stories and books. And from the very minute few who Live It on the battlefield in this modern era (I will give an example on such men later).

During the Middle Ages and in its broadest use it meant the body of knights themselves, and anything concerning them and their role in society.  It was a complex and seemingly contradictory code of behavior to which a knight adhered, and the criteria by which they measured themselves.   
Its was not only a code meant for the battle field but it became an ideal to strive for in all areas on one’s life.  It was a male-only ideology.   
It was a masculine ideal men measured other men by.   
Not all could be a knight: it was something earned and reserved only for the fewest of men.  And these men exhibited wisdom, restraint and justice where it was needed. 
Many knights were believers in our Creator and understood the broader role they were called to in life.  
I had to point out, as some faces turned to me behind the bar in order to see if there was still a vestige of that virtue to be seen etched in my old face, that many were and all were, but of course not all were or are very good at it.  There were bad knights, poorly formed knights; Knights and indeed Kings who made gross errors. There were greedy and avaricious ones too. Much like today ! Thank goodness I have a beard and they do not see my past shames!
To be a warrior for righteous justice is the highest masculine calling.   
A knight understands that war, at times, is necessary,  and evil must be faced head on.  Warriors don’t use what is supposedly “modern” as a justification for an immoral life. They do not seek identity from the mob and they do not make excuses. Warriors are not sheep, such men are set apart.


King Baldwin shows Balian the responsibility he has for his own actions. 

The writing of the fourth century theologian Saint Augustine of Hippo on the subject had a huge impact of the medieval conceptions of the limits of war.  And how chivalry manifested itself on the battlefield.   
He recognized that peace was impossible on earth and that even within Christianity, it was necessary to make a place reserved for war (even within the church).   
Wars were acceptable if they were ‘just’.   
What was considered “just’ to Augustine was war that was acceptable so long as it was primarily a fight for justice and the tranquility of order. To preserve righteousness and preservation of those who could not defend themselves ( the disabled, the weak or those who didn’t have the ability to defend themselves). 
Wars were ‘just’ if one was to right wrongs, or to recover stolen goods.   
If a master or “Lord” declared a war that was unjust then the sin was his. He alone held the responsibility for taking up arms.   
A war that showed needless cruelty to the enemy was a sign that the war was waged for the love of violence rather than one fought for justice.  Beyond the Knight's master he ultimately showed penance to God.  A knight faced evil, he did not flee from it. 
BECOMING A KNIGHT

The modern 21C phrase “white-knighting” is thrown around too loosely in this day and age (especially in men’s forums).  Knights are men who fight injustice, and are very few in number in this modern age.  We need to have a proper understanding of the word and what it truly means to be a knight and to imploy a chivalric code of life before we just start throwing it on those who defend stupidity. 
Defending irresponsible behavior has nothing to do with being a knight or chivalry.   
It is borderline idiotic to even put the two within the same context. Stupidity has nothing to do with “knightly” behavior. 

The three main strands of chivalric ethos - warrior, courtier and Christian – might as we have seen, throw up some contradictions, but the knight was able to ignore these things,  adapting courtly behavior and Christian teaching to fit within the martial ethic.  The one thing all these venues have in common is the strong attraction to knighthood and chivalry, for men especially.
Attractive to men ! Oh, come along now, M'Lady. You know that you just love Knights too ! Hahaha. Your husband-Knight bathes in your warm gaze. And I appreciate your occasional modest glance  too. I have seen you admiring my old Black armour (with all the Kingly gold and silver bits) hanging on the wall. 
Both the title and the rite-of-passage it represents a core need that today's society no longer meets, despite its technological wealth and myriad distractions.. 

What is that need?

It focuses on self-identity. Generally speaking, men inherently need to be recognized as people of value and accomplishment by their community. 
The title of knight provides just this kind of recognition. In most cultures, and throughout history, the passage from boy-to-man meant more than just a matter of age and physical development. It meant earning the status of being a "man," someone who represents the very best values of one's community. 
A knights oath went much deeper than women, it had very little to do with women at all.  So why are people perverting the meaning of chivalry and knighthood?   
What did it ever have to do with defending stupidity or leftism? 
A knight defends truth, a warrior defends what is honorable.  Defending the weak was only a very small part of a knight’s oath.   To a certain degree it is acted out  in this scene that I can show you.  We see it here being passed down from father to son.  But even this only gives us a small glimpse of what it truly entailed.
What knighthood and chivalry ultimately represents is FREEDOM. While a knight may live his life to a higher purpose or calling or seek to preserve the welfare of others he is by no means anyone’s  slave.  A true warrior knight seeks out truth and goodness and to preserve such things during his lifetime.  He bows to no one but God but advises and listens to all.  

As you can see I am a fan of the movie “Kingdom of Heaven”.  
A fine Hollywood depiction which gives little regard to historical accuracy and indeed occasionally disregards the basics of chivalry itself. But quite a spectacle as a film. 
King Baldwin in particular fascinated me.   
How could a man so young be so wise?  He was a humble warrior king. From what is written about him many say he was a spiritual man, he was a leader and a student. Willing to lead and willing to learn and listen.   Such leaders are scarce nowadays.  Many say he was steadfast in battle, strong, brave and also just and fair.
The age was included in the long, long time described as violent, nasty, brutish and short', by Hobbes.  Most of human history in fact. We seem to have forgotten not only that age but how recent it was that it ended. We only need to look over our shoulder at the 18c and 19C. Admiral Lord Nelson was a mere boy of 14 when he commanded a ship that had been captured and sailed it back to port. We do not challenge boys to grow up these days. We wrap them in slime and denigrate them. 

Baldwin was 12 when he ascended to the Throne of Jerusalem. He was a 'minor' King under alliegence to Richard of England. He fought a major battle, well, at 16.  Who would put a 16 year old in charge of an army these days? Kings led from the front back then. Princes too. Today the only Princes we see in battle-gear are the British ones. Tradition demands!  Baldwin is rightly acknowledged here as Heroic.
Modern society obsessively avoids suffering, risk and danger. It secures everything with seatbelts and safety rails, air conditions the summer heat, prints warnings on coffee cups and advises that that safety glasses should be used while working with hammers. Certainly such precautions have prevented misfortune.   
On the other hand it has made a society that has become much too comfortable and complacent.   
Freedom is not preserved by safety nets. Heroism and excellence are not born out of such comfort, they are from confronting rather than avoiding suffering and peril. The mania for safeguards has also diminished the notion of these qualities. 
This is unfortunate since only those intrepid souls who confront danger, endure suffering and overcome obstacles merit mention in the annals of history. A shining example is the leper king, Baldwin IV of Jerusalem.  He did not allow his illness to cripple him.  Maybe his illness gave him a stronger drive to reach excellence as he knew his time on earth would be cut short.  

Intellectually and physically gifted as a boy, he was well equipped to inherit the Crusader kingdom. This is how chronicler and royal tutor William of Tyre described his childhood:
And here we read a prime presage of a Mandy Rice Davies moment*.
He made good progress in his studies and as time passed he grew up full of hope and developed his natural abilities. He was a good-looking child for his age and more skilled than men who were older than himself in controlling horses and in riding them at a gallop. He had an excellent memory and he loved listening to stories.” 
* (Well he would say that, wouldn't he). 
Although this king's life was cut short by a life crippling disease.  History has a way of remembering men like Baldwin. And the knights who come after him will continue to be remembered.  Such men always are remembered. 
The earth takes their bodies, but their spirits and legacy is never forgotten and still live on today.   
A knight's life is not one of insignificance


Knighthood is a title of honor to be cherished not mocked. 
 It is a title not easily given, it is battle tested and EARNED. It is challenging, something to protect and not bequeathed lightly. The candidate must be a self-liberated soul, dedicated to truth, compassionate toward others and loyal to his Companions.   
So why does this title get thrown around so loosely?  Save this honor for those who have earned it and exhibit such behavior.  It should not be used as a perverted form of mockery as it was never intended to be so.  To participate in such behavior is to discredit the freedom fighters who have given their lives in defense of honor, justice and truth.

The modern knight still wears armor (though it looks much different now than it did many years ago). He still fights for justice, truth, and honor.  He still holds these principles true to himself and his heart even if the modern society doesn’t see value in them.  The culture does not deter him from fighting for his principles. 
His purpose is to respond to life as life presents itself to him. 
And he responds morally. 
He acts. He speaks out. He is courteous but truthful to everyone. He presents an appropriate image of knighthood, that others might be inspired by his integrity.  He is not perfect, but when he makes mistakes he takes responsibility for them and LEARNS from them. True knighthood will always see value in these things.   
We see small glimpses of him from time to time in this modern age.  These knights and warriors inspire other men. They  faced evil and have defeated it.  Men such as these, we would do well to listen and learn from.  This knight sees the world as it is rather than catering to an illusion.


This warrior, Jocko Willink, eschews the idea of 'converting the infidel'. 

That is someone else's job. 

A Knight may parlay, he might meet his enemy on the field before battle and state his terms, but he is not there as a diplomat.  


A Knight's job on the battlefield is to kill.

This is what puts some less knowledgable people off. They just do not understand.

A King and Knight can serve Grace in the Tavern. You need have no fear of him.

Love your enemy is an instruction given to us directly by Christ, the Son of God, the Second Person of the Divine Trinity.  We must acknowledge our enemy as being made in the Image and Likeness of God. But in so many cases our enemy has been possessed by Evil and we must use all human ingenuity and power as well as Divine Grace to defeat him. 

It is a tough balancing act.

Pray for your enemy's soul; over his dead body, as needed.
Ephesians 6:13

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

Luke 22:36

He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one".
Psalm 18:39
For you equipped me with strength for the battle; you made those who rise against me sink under me.
2 Timothy 2:4
No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.
A Catholic Knight is enlisted at Confirmation as a Warrior of Christ.

I keep my sword behind the bar.

Now join her in raising a tankard to Knights and their return.

I mentioned Hollywood's peculiar slants earlier. The film that Southern Gal likes so much is quite enjoyable for an action movie with benefits but as I said it has its good and bad aspects.

You might like to take a little time to look at an Historian's view. He clearly dislkes the film on a number of grounds but some of his points have merit. I will pour some drinks while you shout at him as he presents his case. 

So, some points to ponder.

There was another more 'modern' (in fact yet to happen) scenario of invasion and the repulse by brave Knights of the Sky. 'Independence Day - Resurgence'. A very jaundiced eye was cast over it showing just how far Hollywood can sink - in its attempts to strip all virtue from the hero. And 'strip' seems to be the word!

I shall leave you with the virtuous lady's views above to keep in mind.


Pax





10 comments:

  1. Good words here, as usual.
    Although I am a direct descendant of English knights and legendary Viking warrior kings, I myself am not formally trained in the art of war. I am the blacksmith, the cooper, a man of skilled labor. But on my mantle and near my bed are the tools of war I keep to protect my home and family and if the enemy appears at the gate, I will, without hesitation, drop my tools of production for those of destruction and stand beside the knight. I would rather die on my feet than live on my knees.
    Cheers, my brother
    Dean Coupland

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    1. A Noble account of yourself, Dean, and a tankard of fine ale (with a hot poker at hand) awaits you. A Knight without a skilled blacksmith soon has a blunt sword.

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  2. Thanks for giving me some time at the bar today:)

    The southern girl:)

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    1. Time, graciousness and Grace always here for you, m'Lady. There are many here who appreciate you and your words. I drink to your Health.

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  3. I have been privileged to know many knights and serve them. These days knights have metallic steeds.

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    1. Ahh, my original comment has appeared from the mystic ether. I thought I had forgotten to click 'publish'!

      :-)

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  4. Over the years I have been privileged to meet many modern knights with their metal steeds and help them in their quest...

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    1. I am pretty sure that some carried your token too :)

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  5. Re-reading this, yes, it applied not just to women but across the board. Without such a class, society is in trouble.

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    1. Behind almsot every Knight (other than a 'Free Lance' )was a small army of sound Yoemen. Britain still has a goodly few.

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Ne meias in stragulo aut pueros circummittam.

Our Bouncer is a gentleman of muscle and guile. His patience has limits. He will check you at the door.

The Tavern gets rowdy visitors from time to time. Some are brain dead and some soul dead. They attack customers and the bar staff and piss on the carpets. Those people will not be allowed in anymore. So... Be Nice..