CHIVALRY

Chivalry is the idea that binds the SSG together, and we grapple with the complexity of the idea in its historical and modern context. Chivalry is more than courtesy, it is a spectrum of virtues--courage, loyalty, prowess, humility, fidelity, generosity and the duty to protect--that encompasses traditional "Western" values yet updates itself in each successive period. It's roots extend into the traditions of ancient Greece and Rome, but it crystallized during the eleventh and twelfth centuries, expressed in a variety of "teaching" literature in the form of romance tales, chronicles, princely handbooks, and treatises. Historically, the vastly different points of view about chivalry was expressed in a literary "dialogue" of competing arguments, but it remained recognizable as the beliefs of the "chivalric" culture--knights, lords, ladies, esquires--who practiced the profession of arms. These were the professionals, those born or accepted into the chivalric community. Within this community, the idea of renown was paramount--renown won resulted in honor attached to one's name and social prestige; and renown could be won in jousts, tournaments and in war, and off the field as well. 

 

This chivalric culture was consciously evoked by the earliest fighting treatise authors, including Fiore dei Liberi and Johannes Lichtenauer, though the treatises themselves were products of urban civic culture, not the military one. 

By the time of the Hundred Years' War, (~1337-1451), the long, on/off again war between England and France, the social environment of Europe was changing. Urban society gained considerable wealth, and with it, prestige. The world into which the fighting treatises were born was one were military activity increasingly mixed foot soldiers from cities and towns with the chivalric equestrian professionals. The result was a new fusion of techniques, tactics, and ideas. The fechtbuchs came out of this fusion. The Schola strives to research, understand and educate others about the practices and ideals of the later Middle Ages--not just out of historical curiosity, but because, like their Eastern martial art coursins, the "chivalric" martial arts used the challenges in arms to exercise the spirit and character. Success in the chivalric world was thought to come from strength--of the arm and of the heart. And we believe the modern world could use a little more strength of character; not in the hokey, doomed manner of Cervantes but as an influence on our day to day, MODERN lives. It's a celebration of European heritage and a connection to a set of ideals forged over thousands of years.  

For the Schola, chivalric conduct is expected; conduct that reflects the highest standards of personal conduct, respect, and an appreciation for the history connected to the combative arts, physical culture, and social world in which the "chivalric arts" were practiced. Because of this, SSG students not only study the fighting treatises, but also a number of surviving primary sources, such as the works of Ramon Lull, Geoffrey de Charny and Jean Froissart. We study the historical forms of the tournament, seeking to exercise those values upon the tournament field. 

We intend to add more content here, since the study of chivalry is as important to the SSG as is the study of swordsmanship and late medieval history. The page for members will include primary and secondary sources, reading lists, the "chivalry" essays written by students, and more. 

 

Company of Saint George - Philosophy and
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A 501(c).3 Federal Non-Profit researching, interpreting, training and competing to better understand the chivalric culture of the later Middle Ages

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