|In a sense, a gentleman is someone who allows the woman to have her own opinion, listens to her voice, and displays genuine affection toward her / Photo by: Antonio Guillem via Shutterstock|
Today, to be ladylike or a gentleman is a concept that is constantly challenged and even declared dead. Women are no longer expected to act prim and proper to be considered a “lady,” with their ever-expanding role in society and a changing reputation that they can be as good as men, even better.
Of course, despite the success of the so-called women’s liberation, it doesn’t hurt that they are still afforded the courtesy and respect that they deserve. Treating a woman right will never go out of style, which is one of the hallmarks of being a gentleman.
In a sense, a gentleman is someone who allows the woman to have her own opinion, listens to her voice, and displays genuine affection toward her. A chivalrous man or a gentleman (the two terms are definitely interchangeable) of today can be likened to a knight from the Middle Ages but he doesn’t have to go on adventures or quests to prove his worth. Merely showing simple gestures such as helping with the household chores or surprising her with flowers and gifts even when there’s no special occasion demonstrate his care and appreciation of his woman. These are considered classic touches of man’s genuine expression of his feelings. As such, chivalry is defined as “very polite, honest, and kind behavior by men toward women.”
Roots and Facts of Chivalry
Chivalry pertains to a code of ethics observed by knights during the Middle Ages in Europe, where duty and honor were the primary traits valued and admired. During this era of chaos darkness, bands of soldiers, later known as knights, pledged their allegiance to the king. Their strong morals and strict code of behavior became legendary and by the 12th century, the knights exemplified a sense of duty and honor and strict ethics known as chivalry. The word originated from “chevalarie,” a French word meaning “what the horse soldiers did.” The chivalric code included piety and virtues like honor, courage, service, and courtesy in dealing with women.
Chivalry was an informal code adhered to by all knights containing the following vows: fear God and His Church, serve the sovereign lord in courage and loyalty, protect the weak, live by principle, honor, and for glory, and respect the honor of women.
French literary historian Léon Gautier cited the 10 Commandments of Chivalry:
1. Believe and observe the Church’s teachings
2. Protect and guard the Church
3. Respect and protect the weak
4. Love your country
5. Do not fear your enemy
6. Show no mercy and be resolute to make war with the infidel
7. Carry out all feudal duties not against the laws of God
8. Never lie or regress on a promise
9. Be generous
10. Be at all times decent and upright against evil and injustice
The chivalric code was strongly influenced by Christianity. Servitude to God and the church became a key element of chivalry.
A Roman Catholic order of chivalry was founded by Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy in 1430 known as the Order of Golden Fleece containing 12 chivalric virtues: faith, charity, justice, sagacity, prudence, temperance, resolution, truth, liberality, diligence, hope, and valor. There are two ways of being knighted: holding land under a knight’s fee or being inducted into an order of knighthood. Both men and women can be knights.
By 1415, when King Henry V executed knight prisoners, he rendered obsolete the chivalric code that stated that a knight captured in war must be taken a hostage and ransomed. The king ended the centuries-old practice of chivalry in war.
How to Be Chivalrous Today
In this era of equality and women empowerment, the word gentleman might be seen as an anachronism. However, chivalry does work in whatever time and place we may be. Its genuine charm is a delightful means to make people feel appreciated. Although some cynical people brand chivalry as manipulative, misogynistic, and hypocrisy, there remain true modern gentlemen steadily practicing the virtues of chivalry. Small courtesies like opening and holding doors, paying for lunch or dinner, sending someone home, and saying “thank you” are just some of the simplest chivalrous deeds that one can do. These are acts of respect that can be observed at the home or office or out in the streets. Chivalry is hard work and takes practice to become second nature but it’s definitely rewarding.
Today, anyone can be chivalrous regardless of gender. All it takes is a little commitment.
- Do what you say you’ll do. This is a simple concept also known as integrity. It is a rarity today for someone to admit it when they screw up or to call when they say they’ll call. If you make a mistake, admit it and face the consequences. This is an opportunity for growth.
- Be generous with compliments. Do not let ego rule relationships. If someone does a fine job, commend them sincerely even if it has overshadowed your own accomplishments.
- Common courtesy works. In fact, it is a best practice that anyone appreciates. Offering a seat, opening the car door, walking someone home, calling a taxi for them, and not cutting in on someone are simple and gratifying feats that bring positive effects anytime, anywhere.
|In this era of equality and women empowerment, the word gentleman might be seen as an anachronism. However, chivalry does work in whatever time and place we may be / Photo by: Roman Samborskyi via Shutterstock|
- Being honest brings satisfying personal interactions. A connection between integrity and honesty is worth cultivating. Learn to master honesty and intimacy will be a guarantee.
- Be helpful but do not be patronizing. Protect the weak and positively respond to issues like homelessness, poverty, mental illness, substance abuse, or animal protection. Stand up for friends being bullied.
- Never make someone regret the trust they put in you.
In closing, remember that nothing in life is guaranteed. Adapt a modern form of social chivalry to progress and prosper. Follow these three simple rules: 1. Be considerate to disadvantaged people; 2. Learn to respect people who don’t agree with you; and 3. Do not expect others to share or understand your chivalry.
Yes, long live the chivalrous person! You will surely be valued.