This article was first published on August 12, 2017
I saw an article on Friday about the most chivalrous men in history. A medievalist, and lover of anything Arthurian, I think anyone who knows me would almost automatically come up with the first person on my list: Arthur.
- Judas Maccabeus
- Julius Caesar
- Godfrey of Bouillon
I disagree with the first three. David was not a man of chivalry. His great-grandfather was just that. Boaz was not required to protect the woman from Moab, but he did. It was probably the most chivalrous act in the entire Bible. Chivalry did not exist until the post-Roman world. It is the product of a world torn apart and being rebuilt, literally, in the image of Christ. This brings me to my list – in order:
- Richard Coeur de Lion
- Wolfram von Eschenbach
- Wyatt Earp
- George Washington
- Arthur Wellington
- Jesus of Nazareth
My last entry shocked even me. It dawned on me my last entry should be the first entry, but that’s okay. I wanted it where it is – for shock value. Think about it. Chivalry was about a code of conduct. The perfect embodiment of it was Jesus of Nazareth. You cannot have the concept of chivalry without Christ. It is impossible. He created the standard.
- Helping the weak
Most importantly though was gallantry and treatment of women. Jesus was the first feminist. He was one of the first men in history to treat women as equals. He was generous to them, and treated them with honor. He defended Mary Magdalene, the Woman at the Well. Every knight, every Christian man of nobility who followed was required to have the same attributes.
Sure, Richard was a total bastard, but he embodied courtly chivalry. The reason for listing each of the men I did was historic, perspective, and the fact that their attributes eventually embodied their culture, well into the future.
As for Wyatt Earp – well…