Above: The Dedication, Edmund Blair Leighton (1908)
The concepts of chivalry grew out of an idealized image of the medieval knight as a noble warrior who was not only fair in his dealings on the battlefield but also with women and with God.
Chivalry is an informal code; there is no set list of chivalrous rules. However, one commonly accepted list of chivalric virtues was drawn up in Bruges in 1430 by the Duke of Burgundy, Philip the Good, who established the knightly Order of the Golden Fleece to celebrate his marriage to the Portuguese Princess Isabella.
The Duke defined 12 chivalric virtues:
Although originally generally associated with manly values, as early as 1149 there were also grades of knighthood available to women. Over time, the meaning of chivalry has been refined to emphasize more general social and moral virtues upheld with honour, fortitude and dignity by both gentlemen and ladies.
Today’s Knights and Dames of the Order of St. George seek, in a modest way, to live by chivalry’s timeless social virtues of integrity, compassion, charity, faithfulness and courage.