Posted by Laird Glenalmond on February 01, 1998 at 12:36:13:
In Reply to: Glimpses posted by Sir Randal of Elstow on January 29, 1998 at 05:42:47:
O come, Sir!
There must have been one or two bad eggs amongst their numbers.
I do believe that history rather supports your first description rather than your idealised version.
However, a new Camelot close to the Tower of Winds, with your good self oversseing which applicants of knight errantry should be admitted, is a cheerful vision.
Which reminds me of some lines
"A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw..."
Farewell for know, honourable Knight!
: Human exemplars of the god-like virtues of faith,
: courage, gallantry, compassion, and aid to the weak
: and oppressed. There are those who believe that knights
: were only smelly brutal men in rusty armour, superstitious
: and greedy, who lived upon the labour of the peasants and
: went on wars of conquest on the excuse that they were obey-
: ing their kings.
: The reality was quite different. The orders and rituals
: of knighthood were clearly established and the great brother-
: hood would never have accepted such unsuitable members. A man
: could not even become a knight unless he was a youth of noble
: blood, and he had to beg an established knight to take him into
: service. Acceptance was by no means certain, because a knight's
: squire had to combine youthful beauty with the promise of superb
: manhood. He had to entertain the knight by singing sweetly to
: the lute, act as messenger between the knight and suitable ladies,
: serve him gracefully at dinner, and generally act as body servant,
: confidant, and admirer, always prepared to heap lavish praise
: upon his master for some deed of gallantry.
: Sometimes this apprenticeship was cut short when a knight
: was captured in battle. It was appropriate for the squire to
: offer himself for ransom, and stay in captivity while the knight
: rode off and tried to raise the ransom.
: If all went well, the time would come for the squire to win
: his spurs. The armourers fitted him with his first armour and
: made his lance, sword, and poignard, while the heralds worked
: out an appropriate device for his shield. If the squire
: could afford it he bought various magic charms to protect himself
: against evil.
: The young knight practised ardently in the tiltyard in order
: to grow accustomed to his armour and weapons, until it was time
: for his first tournament. The ladies in the audience assessed him
: carefully as he took his place in the lists, and tittered mock-
: ingly if his opponent unseated him with a great clangour of armour.
: After the first tests of skill in courage the knight rode forth
: in search of noble deeds. If he was fortunate there would be a war
: against enemies of the kingdom, but if not then he had to sally
: forth alone. By that time he would have fallen in love with some
: demure virgin, and she gave him a glove or scarf to wear on his
: helmet. Some older knights wore ladies' stockings streaming from
: their helms, but a young knight was so pure in heart that such a
: sight made him blush with embarrassment.
: On this first knightly journey he had no need of a squire or
: other retainers. His armour shone brightly without polishing and
: the light of beckoning glory sustained him without food or sleep.
: As the hooves of his charger beat along the forest paths he looked
: eagerly for some fitting opponent.
: When he entered a village he listened eagerly for news of a
: dragon or wicked lord in the neighbourhood, preferably the abductor
: of a fair damsel. He would not be averse to tackling sorcerers,
: magical beasts who destroyed cattle by breathing on them, or even
: giants who ate the children of widows. It was, however, preferable
: to return home with a dragon's head slung behind him and a rescued
: damsel upon his saddlebow.
: Any acceptable feat won him the golden spurs of true knighthood,
: and after that he could spend the time enjoyably in hunting, hawking,
: fighting in tournaments, feasting, or defending his king against
: Unfortunately a young knight's purity of heart gave him many
: uncomfortable moments. Every knight had to have his lady and he
: treated her stricly in accordance with the rules. He sent troubadours
: to serenade her, presented her with the mailed gloves of opponents
: killed in the lists, and sighed beneath her castle windows on moonlit
: nights. But the time would come when a lady expected more ardent
: attentions. A knight would hardly dare to drink his wine for fear
: that it contained a love potion, and he might be obliged to kill a
: friend if the impatient lady looked kindly upon him.
: It was even worse when the wife of a great lord, or even the queen
: herself, began to languish for the attentions of a young knight. The
: only rememdy was another knightly journey, on the excuse that he found
: himself unfitted for love of women and must devote himself to the
: pursuit of honour. It was always a relief when the king summoned his
: knights for a battle with some neiboring enemey, and they could enjoy
: the sport without being distracted by ladies.
: The time would come, however, when a knight found his joints
: creaking as loudly as his armour and his head growing bald from the
: pressure of his helmet. There was no more need to resist the blandish-
: ments of womankind and he could settle down with his mulled wine by
: the the hearth. He exchanged stories of dragon hunts with other super-
: annuated knights and showed the scars won in battle with the king's
: enemies. They all agreed that modern squires and knights behaved
: disgracefully. When a lady let down a silken ladder, so that a knight
: might climb up into her chamber, he would actually use it. The age of
: knighthood was doomed when knights began to pay more attention to women
: than to damsels in distress.
: Perhaps those ancient knights did not die out, perhaps they are
: still with us. Perhaps they were just away on some long and distant
: journey or quest. Maybe they have now returned to aid another kingdom.
: Perhaps in a remote Nortic Kingdom known as Ladonia.
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