Chivalry started as a set of ‘ideals’ for medieval warriors ‘knights’ in the early medieval period.
Historians consider that the beginnings of ‘chivalry’ occurred around the middle of the 12th century. Chivalry was practiced in some form right until the end of the Middle Ages, around the end of the 15th century.
It went from being a few simple ‘ideals’ of medieval warriors into being a long list of more rigid rules.
Chivalry rules and focus changed according to the times and situation, for example during the Crusades it took on a more spiritual and religious form, with a strong focus on a higher power ‘God’, and served a more specific purpose than before.
Chivalry was also constantly changing in different countries and even differed from one local area to another and this contributed to its demise.
In the late 15th century, Sir Thomas Malory wrote an excellent book called ‘Le Morte d’Arthur’ which describes the decline of ‘Chivalry’ and the Medieval Knight’.
The War of the Roses also divided knights and led to bad feelings amongst them during early Tudor times in England.
Many knights started to ignore the ‘rules of chivalry’ and this led to its continued down-fall – although there were still some good knights who followed its ethos – the writing was on the wall.
As the weaponry and armor of archers and other medieval foot-soldiers improved the impact of the knight became lessened – the introduction of ‘gun powder weapons‘ was the final nail in the coffin for the medieval knight, and with the knight went medieval chivalry!
Some historians consider Sir Edward Woodville to be the last medieval knight – he died in 1488 in Britanny, France – Woodville experienced the fall of the Age of Chivalry and the beginnings of modern European warfare.
Knights and Knighthood never totally disappeared but Queen Elizabeth made creating a knight the exclusive right of the monarch, taking the ability to create a knight out of the hands of other knights!
The end of the medieval period and the traditional medieval knight finally brought an end to ‘the age of chivalry’