Chivalry as an deal of conduct includes the ideas of courtesy, courage, magnanimity and honour. Chivalrous act is the sort of conduct we expect from a true gentleman. As one writer puts it: “The only chivalry worth having is that which is the readiest to pay deference to the old, protect the feeble and serve the woman kind regardless of age, rank or color.” It is a noble ideal of character and conduct which all should keep before them.
For every man desires to be brave, but he should use his bravery being merciful and courteous to all, even the lowest and honorable and truthful in all walks of life. He should scorn all dishonorable mean and cruel actions. Chivalry is actually the result of moral courage. It is an innate quality that comes with great difficulty. A person may be physically brave, but if he lacks moral strength he cannot be chivalrous. Chivalry requires sacrifice on the part of a person because doing good to mankind he must put his personal comforts aside. This is the true spirit of chivalry.
There is an interesting history behind the word chivalry. The word had origin from the word cavalry. Cavalry in Latin means a horse. Cavalry of course means horse soldiers or mounted men. In the Middle Ages in Europe the cavalry was composed of knights (men of noble birth); for the common men formed infantry. The whole company of the knights of a country was called its ‘Chivalry’. In this way the word chivalry came to mean the character and conduct of an ideal knight.
Fighting was the chief occupation of nobles in the Middle Ages. So there arose a class of soldiers who had to subjugate themselves to a code of conduct. In order to be knight it was necessary that a person must have a noble birth and he must have done noble deeds of bravery. After becoming a knight he had to take a solemn vow to be true to God and kind to is creation. He had to be loyal to the king and his country.
In this modern age the concept of chivalry has undergone a drastic change. As the age of knighthood is over now and any soldier worthy and capable can be enlisted in cavalry. Chivalry is at present attributed to nobility, generosity and kindness. It is the virtues of a man that make him chivalrous! Bravery can be displayed in war, but chivalry is the true spirit of sportsmanship possessed by a soldier even in a battle-field. A chivalrous soldier faces the foe with a true code of conduct laid down for a battle-field. He does not play tricks or do actions of cunningness to win the battle.
In peace a chivalrous person is of great use to his fellow being. He saves a drowning child by risking his own life. He jumps into the flames to bring out an entrapped and helpless person. He shares the joys and sorrows of his fellow beings. He is considerate to the helpless and the needy. This is the real spirit of chivalry. A true knight in ancient times practiced all these qualities and he always carried a cross with him as a symbol of being a true Christian and in possession of all these good qualities and human values.