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If Chivalry be considered only as a simple cere* mony, by which the noble youths who were destined for war received their sirst arms, the custom was known among the ancient Germans, and was established in France in the reign of Charlemagne, at the commencement of the ninth century. That emperor sent to Aquitain for his son Louis, and presented him with a sword, and all the equipage of a warrior. "William of Malmeibury mentions that about the fame time, king Alfred presented his grandson Athelstan with a sword, and a rich belt with a crimson robe, as the ensigns of knighthood. But if we look upon chivalry as a dignity, which gave the sirst military rank, and which was conferred by a particular kind of investiture, attended with appropriate ceremonies, and ratisied by a solemn oath, it would be difficult to trace it to a more remote period than the eleventh century.
France claims the honour of giving this institution its specisic character at the time when that kingdom was recovering from the disorders, which followed the extinction of the second race of its monarchs. The royal authority began again tQ be respected, law* were enacted, corporations were founded, and the numerous siefs held by the greajt barons under the crown, were governed with greater regularity. In this state of affairs, the sovereigns and great barons were desirous of strengthening the feudal ties by adding to the ceremony of doing homage, that of giving arms to their young vassals, previous to their sirst military expeditions. It is highly probable, that by conferring the fame distinction upon other persons, who did not hold any lands under them, but who offered their services from motives of esteem, or the desire of military renown, the sovereigns and great barons availed themselves of this expedient to secure the co-operation of new warriors, who were ready to follow their standard upon all occasions, when they could only rely upon their own dependants to serve them in certain districts for a limited time. They received with joy these brave volunteers, who, by increasing their forces, gave additional strength, to their government; and as every knight could create other knights, the sovereign exercised his privilege without exciting jealousy. Every gentleman, who was designed for the profession of arms, was trained by a long preparatory course of discipline and service in some noble family, and was during his youth the companion of some warrior of renown. The ceremonies which attended his knighthood were solemn and impressive. They combined the rites of religion with the forms of feudal duty; and resembled the mode of admitting a proselyte into the church by baptism, as well as that of a vassal doing homage for a sief. The candidate for this distin6tion, accompanied by his sponsors and his priest, passed the night previous to his initiation in watching his arms, and in prayer. The next nforning he repaired to the bath, the water of which was intended to serve as an emblem of the purity of his profession. He then walked to the nearest church,
clothed in white garments, and presented his sword to the minister officiating at the altar, who returned it to him with his blessing. After taking the accustomed oaths to his sovereign, or feudal chief, he was invested by the attendant knights and ladies with certain parts of his armour. He was sirst presented with gilt spursc, a coat of mail, and gauntlets; and lastly he was begirt with a sword. The sovereign then, rising from the throne, conferred upon him, •whilst kneeling, the honour of knighthood, by giving him three strokes with the flat part of a drawn sword upon his shoulders or neck. He then saluted the young warrior, and pronounced these words: "In the name of God, of St. Michael, and St. George, I make thee a knight: be brave, bold, and loyal." His horse and the remaining part of his armour were 'afterwards presented to him, and the ceremony was concluded with a costly banquet .
Important and numerous were the privileges attached to this profession of arms, and its duties were at once arduous and indispensable. To protect the ladies was an essential part of them. Incapable of taking arms, they would frequently in such uncivilized times have feen their lands become a prey to some tyrannical neighbour, or have had tjieir reputation blasted by the breath of calumny, if some knight had not come forward in their defence. To the succour of the distressed, the protection of orphans, the deliverance of captives, and the chastisement of oppressors, he likewise dedicated his sword and his life. If he failed in a scrupulous attention to these duties, he was looked upon as deserting the most solemn obligations, and was degraded with public marks of disgrace. If he performed them, he was regarded as an honour to his profession, and his renown was spread over every part of Europe.
c " Esquires were not allowed to wear any gold in their dress, although knights were from hence, as well as from wearing gilt spurs, distinguished by the name of Equitcs Auratl."
Lord Lyttelton, Hen. II. v. 2. g. 236.. .
In the character of a true knight during the golden age of chivalry, we behold an assemblage of virtues, which command our esteem and admiration, and confer honour upon human nature. His deportment was noble, and his manners condescending and gracious to all. His promise was inviolable and sacred; his love of arms was softened by the ressinements of courtesy, the fair offspring of that noble society, which he enjoyed in. the castles of the great. His professions of attachment and service were invariably sincere; he was as ambitious to render his name illustrious by affability, probity, and generosity, as by the number of his expeditions, trophies, and victories. By such conduct were those signalized knights, whom their contemporaries regarded as the fairest ornaments of chivalry, and whose renown has been transmitted through all succeeding ages. Such
were Edward the black prince, the Chevalier Bayard, and Sir Philip Sidney.
Edward the Black Prince, so called from the colour of his armour, was the eldest son of king Edward the III. the great conqueror of France. At the age of seventeen, he commanded the sirst line of the English army, at the memorable battle of Crecy. When the sight raged with the greatest heat, the Earl of Warwick solicited the king to send succours to his son. "Tell my son, said he, that I reserve the honour of the day for him. I am consident that he will shew himself worthy of the honour of knighthood, which I so lately conferred upon him. He will be able, without my assistance, to repel the enemy." The event justisied this expectation; the victory of the English was complete, and the king, on his return to the camp, flew into the arms of the prince, and exclaimed, "My brave son, persevere in your honourable course; you are my son, for valiantly iiave you acquitted yourself to-day; you have shown yourself worthy of empire."
At the battle os Poictiers, sought ten years after, the Black Prince commanded the small army of the English, and obtained a decisive victory over the great multitudes of the French and their allies. John, king of France, was taken prisoner; and the behaviour he experienced, showed the admirable heroism of the conqueror. Edward was 27 years
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