Early notions of chivalry entailed loyalty to one’s liege lord and bravery in battle, similar to the values of the Heroic Age.
There is a famous medieval song called ‘Song of Roland’ which describes the perfect knight who follows the ideals of chivalry – This ‘perfect knight‘ is described as having military
prowess, social fellowship and ‘unwavering loyalty’ in his conduct.
For example when Knights were taken prisoner ‘chivalry’ rules dictated that they were well looked after during their time in captivity. knights were never harmed or killed but exchanged for a ransom which was usually a very reasonable negotiation.
Unlike lower level ‘ordinary soldiers’ who were usually killed and seen as an annoyance to many medieval knights! From this standpoint it appears that knights totally respected one another, a respect that they did not hold for other lower warrior classes.
Another important rule of the medieval knight was to ‘never strike a defenseless opponent during a battle’.
As the medieval period progress chivalry became more specific and rigid and definite rules were introduced as how a knight should ride his horse, attend tournaments and perform in
Jousting competitions were established.
By around the 13th century chivalry had become a mixture of military rules, religious duties, courtly love and Virtues of “faith, hope, charity, justice, strength, moderation and loyalty!
An excellent book about Chivalry is ‘The Book of the Courtier’ which gives a good understanding of chivalry and the medieval knight of this medieval period.
Martial exercise and military virtue continued to be an integral to the concept of chivalry right until the final days of the Medieval Period
Improved weapons and armor of medieval infantry such as archers and other foot-soldiers would make the ‘medieval knight’ less important and there was simply no longer the opportunity for the medieval knight to show his ‘skill’, ‘bravery’ and ‘Chivalry’ on the battle field.
As other advanced weapons were invented and introduced to the battlefield the influence of the medieval knight declined – when ‘gunpowder weapons’ were introduced this was the final nail in the coffin for the knight and ‘the age of chivalry’.
‘The end of the Middle Ages was also the end of Chivalry’