What is the Best Definition of Chivalry?

Discover the true meaning of chivalry and how it shaped medieval society. Explore examples of chivalrous behavior and the virtues it demanded from knights, landowners, nobles, and subjects.

The Behavior and Conduct Expected of Medieval Knights

Chivalry, as commonly understood, refers to the code of behavior followed by medieval knights. This code dictated how knights were expected to conduct themselves both on and off the battlefield. It encompassed qualities such as honor, bravery, loyalty, and courtesy.

Examples of Chivalrous Behavior

  • Rescuing damsels in distress
  • Defending the weak and helpless
  • Showing respect for opponents in battle

Case Study: Knights Templar

The Knights Templar were an example of an order that epitomized chivalry. They followed a strict code of conduct that emphasized loyalty, humility, and self-sacrifice. Their actions on the battlefield and in their daily lives exemplified the ideals of chivalry.

The Compassion Expected of Medieval Landowners

While chivalry is often associated with knights, it also encompassed the behavior expected of medieval landowners. This included showing compassion and generosity towards those under their care, such as serfs and peasants.

Intellect Demanded of Medieval Nobles

Chivalry also demanded a certain level of intellect from medieval nobles. They were expected to be well-educated, well-spoken, and capable of engaging in intellectual pursuits such as poetry, music, and philosophy.

The Humility Demanded of Medieval Subjects

Finally, chivalry demanded humility from all members of medieval society, including subjects. Humility was seen as a virtue that helped maintain order and harmony within society.


Ultimately, chivalry can be best defined as the behavior and conduct expected of medieval knights. It encompassed qualities such as honor, bravery, loyalty, and courtesy, and was a code to which all members of society were expected to adhere.

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