Tuesday, 10 November 2015
Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table.
Before you read on any farther I want you to have a quick go at naming as many of King Arthur's knights as you can......
First Knight, 1995
How many did you name?
If you reached ten or more then I would be impressed. The number of Knights Arthur had depends on what you read. But there is roughly 150. No small number...he must have had a really big table.
Right, lets think about the ones that roll off the tongue, so to speak. Lancelot being the most obvious I guess. Then we have the likes of Galahad and Gawain (my youngest should be very thankful, he almost got called Gawain...he is one of my favourite knights), Tristan, Bors, Percival, Kay, Bedivere the list goes on, but these are the ones that seem to be remembered.
What did you have to do to become a knight?
I have no idea. But, in the Middle Ages that question needed a definite answer. Let me introduce you to Sir Thomas Malory an English writer. Malory wrote Le Morte d'Arthur and in this book he introduced Malory the code of chivalry.
This is what he said.
To be a knight one must -
1. Never do outrage nor murder.
That is pretty self explanatory. I don't think I need to explain that.
2. Always to flee treason.
Do not commit treason.
3.To by no means be cruel but to give mercy unto him who asks for mercy.
Always be merciful and to grant mercy to those who ask for it. No mindless killing on the battlefield if the enemy is surrendering
4. To always do ladies, gentlewomen and widows succor.
In other words a knight must help a high born woman if they need it - I hope that applies to women born in the peasantry as well.
5. To never force ladies, gentlewomen or widows.
I am getting really concerned about lowly birthed women now.
6. Not to take up battles in wrongful quarrels for love or worldly goods.
Unless it is for God or for your King, forget it, you are not fighting.
God Speed, Edmund Leighton 1900
That all sounds rather chivalrous but remember, this code was written in the Middle Ages. I like to think that the knights had a code, but whether they did or not, I guess we will never know. The logical thing to do next would be to look at some of these knights in more detail. I shall pick a handful and talk about them over the next few blogs.
See you soon.