Gawain And The Code Of Chivalry

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The Chivalric Code was the rules that governed the lives of medieval knights. These ideals first appeared in an Eleventh century manuscript titles “The Song of Roland” which described the battles of Charlemagne against the Moors in Spain. From this manuscript, the ideals of Chivalry were garnered and over the centuries came to be known as Charlemagne’s code of chivalry. This code was combined with the oaths that knights swore during their elevation ceremonies and the ideals were strengthened by the Arthurian myths. These ideals were meant to guide a knight in combat and in his daily life. They involved strict obedience to the laws of the Church, faithful service to one’s liege, protection and defense of the weaker as well as honesty. Seven of these rules which played a major part in the story “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” are: “To serve the liege lord in valour and faith. To live by honour and for glory. To eschew unfairness, meanness and deceit. At all times to speak the truth. To persevere to the end in any enterprise began. Never refuse a challenge of an equal. Never turn the back upon a foe. (Unknown). In the story, The Green Knight enters Arthur’s hall, during a New Years feast and lays a challenge for the “commander of this crowd” (Wilhelm), not for combat but simply one axe stroke for one axe stroke. He offers his battle axe as prize if Arthur or one of his knights bests him. Initially, Arthur is prepared to take up the challenge, but Gawain requests that he be allowed to answer the challenge in place of the king. This fulfills two of the points of chivalry, serving his liege lord with faith and valour and never refusing a challenge of an equal. Arthur permits this and Gawain answers the challenge in keeping with his code. He agrees to the Green Knight’s challenge, one axe stroke given by Gawain now in exchange for one
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