Love and Chivalry



Knights going into battle for the pure love of a woman—that's one of the enduring images of the medieval era. Chivalric orders first appeared with military activities against non-Christian states. Through the Renaissance, Europeans aggressively sought to expand their areas of control. Crusades were fought for a variety of motives, but they were, for the most part, wars over religion. The Catholic Church sought to harness both the knight's energy and martial skills-and found a role for him in the church's structure of society as protector. Rules were formulated under which a "just war" could be fought and enlisted the knights to fight for them in the Crusades.

Chivalry's virtues were piety, honor, valor, courtesy, chastity, and loyalty. The first orders of chivalry were very similar to the monastic orders of the era. Both sought the sanctification of their members through combat against "infidels" and protection of religious pilgrims, and both had commitments that involved the taking of vows and submitting to a regulation of activities. Three of the most well-known orders, the Templars, Hospitallars and Teutonic knights, tried to add components of piety, faith, humility and chastity