Recovering the Lost Art of Chivalry

They say that chivalry is dead, that the medieval ideal of the humble knight is laid low in the dust. They were saying the same in C.S. Lewis's day. And Lewis, rather than lamenting the loss of chivalry, sought to do something about it. Lewis loved chivalry, at one point even referring to it as "the one hope of the world." Lewis deeply appreciated the double demand that the chivalric ideal makes on human nature.

The knight is a man of blood and iron, a man familiar with the sight of smashed faces and the ragged stumps of lopped-off limbs; he is also a demure, almost a maidenlike, guest in hall, a gentle, modest, unobtrusive man. He is not a compromise or happy mean between ferocity and meekness; he is fierce to the nth and meek to the nth. ("The Necessity of Chivalry" in Present Concerns, 13)

Ferocious Wolves and Meek Lambs

This combination of ferocity and meekness, restricted to the appropriate occasions and situations, is necessary because humanity is otherwise prone to fall into two main groups: bloodthirsty wolves and cowardly lambs. History, according to Lewis, is a cyclical progression in which cruel barbarians rape, pillage, and destroy a civilization, only to settle in to become soft and decadent, unable to resist the onslaught of the next barbarian hordes. Chivalry, with its dual demand on men, sought to break this cycle by creating lion-like lambs and lamb-like lions.

[Read the rest at Desiring God.]