The Knight’s tale reveals some practical truths about the code of Chivalry

There was a knight, a most differentiated man …

So begins the summary of the knight in Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. Chaucer wrote around this unnamed items in 1386, when he started work ~ above what numerous scholars think about to it is in the first “novel” ever before written. The summary of the article (and all the pilgrims that tell their story in his book) comes from the Prologue.

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Chaucer lived and wrote in ~ a time as soon as there to be still actual knights in glowing armor riding right into battle and also jousting in tournaments. Due to the fact that of this, his concept of knighthood and chivalry is far much more realistic than later on authors that were looking earlier to the Middle ages with a romantic feeling of whimsy. Just how does a medieval writer characterize knighthood? Chaucer’s contemporary description the this items sheds light on the true spirit of chivalry:

There was a knight, a most differentiated manWho from the day on which he very first beganTo ride abroad had adhered to chivalry,Truth, honor, generousness and also courtesy.He had done nobly in his sovereign’s warAnd ridden into battle, no guy more,As well in Christian together in heathen places,And ever before honored because that his noble graces …He to be of sovereign value in all eyes.And though so much distinguished, he was wiseAnd in his bearing modest together a maidHe never yet a boorish thing had actually saidIn all his life to any, come what might;He to be a true, a perfect gentle-knight.Speaking the his equipment, the possessedFine horses, however he was no gaily dressed.He wore a fustian tunic stained and also darkWith smudges wherein his armour had left mark;Just residence from service, he had joined our ranksTo do his pilgrimage and also render thanks. ((Taken from: The Canterbury Tales, trans. Nevill Coghill; new York, Penguin Books, 1951.))

In this quick description, Chaucer uses an check of the worths that, in his mind at least, comprise the code of Chivalry. When called upon to offer his kingdom, the article performed his duty bravely and valiantly. Yet regardless that his successes and also renown, the knight isn’t a braggart. He no flaunt his wealth to the people he is travel with, and instead is generous and honest. And, having returned indigenous arduous international service, he determined not come bask in his glory, however to do a pious journey together a show of gratitude.

Read a historical novel now — choose James Patterson’s bestseller The Jester or young name Cornwell’s Heretic — and also you’ll get a very different photo of a knight: gritty, callous, self-serving and often brutal. Lock are an excellent books, based upon real historical incidents, but contemporary authors compose stories for readers that identify with “underdog” personalities who go against the bonds of social custom.

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Chaucer reminds united state that not all knights to be hypocritical louts. The perfect gentle-knight that The Canterbury Tales is a fine instance of Chivalry Today.