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Chivalry was the medieval code of behavior for knights. It mandated loyalty to one's lord and to God, and women were to be honored as the equivalent of the Virgin Mary. The Code of chivalry was not only intended to create good warriors, but also to endow knights with strong morals and faiths. The word itself comes from the French word for "knight", chevalier.
Chivalric romances, books which recounted the deeds of heroic knights such as King Arthur and Amadís de Gaula, were a popular genre of fiction in 16th century Europe. They were satirised (and immortalised) in Don Quixote, where an aging aristrocrat attempts to apply anachronistic chivalric values to his own t|me, with disastrous results.
In modern terms, chivalry consists of the following behavior:
- treating women with flattering respect, such as holding a door or standing when a woman gets up from a table or visits it
- refraining from degrading or profane speech in the presence of women
- recognizing that certain tasks should be done by men, such as carrying heavy boxes
- supporting, and treating, women graciously, and adopting a work ethic to make that possible
- honesty and fidelity in business dealings
- avoiding of gossip
- courtesy and humility in everyday life
- protecting of the weaker elements of society
- in religious terms, it can be the devotion and defense of one's belief
- maintaining a posture and demeanor that is respectful to others and to oneself
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