Discussion So How In 19th Century America Did A 15th Century Concept Find A Place? Chivalry, Chivalrous And The Chivalry

JPK Huson 1863

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chivalry.JPG

" In Days Of Old When Knights.... ". image encompasses old ( old ) concept of knighthood complete with non-Christian foes at one's feet and fair maiden rescued, medieval oath of honor upheld. Chivalry. You couldn't be one and carry off that fair maiden ( fainting or no ) unless you happened to be born into a certain social class, however.

Some topics are tougher to poke around in than others. BOY is this one- what and who in blazes were meant by ' chivalry ' and ' the chivalry ', frequently in caps? AND why is it important? It's not snark, it's awfully confusing.

Members here will have their own take and please be nice. ' Chivalry ' wasn't just an active term, it was a noun- as in the chivalry. a group of people.

How on earth a code apparently centered on honor and kinda-sorta adhered to by clanking, helmeted, gauntleted members of the peerage through centuries of medieval, European rule made it ( sans armor ) to American shores and all the way into our ' civil ' war is still something that defeats me.And honest, been digging hard. There are books galore, some 200 years old some more recent that still fail to connect the dots with any degree of satisfaction. Since the Middle Ages lasted from the 5th to the 15th centuries there's a lot to draw on..

" The history of chivalry is not merely the history of a noble caste, though the usages and honours belonged to none but gentlemen born, and those enjoyed who them disdained to admit their inferiors to any share in them. Chivalry also held up an example to men of low degree, and raised the courage, softened the manners and relaxed the morals of the common people. The standard of honour, honesty, decency, and sobriety, which is conformed to by the ruling classes, is to some extent a standard set for those below them in rank."

You can tell by how ' honour ' is spelled, this book is in public access.

" The whole duty of a gentleman was included in the idea of chivalry ; and his Hfe from his early childhood was regulated by it. The principle of service to God, his lord, and his lady underlay everything The word 'miilitare ' which, in low Latin, meant ' feudal service,' explains to the knight the spirit which is to guide all his actions. He can never escape, nor can he wish to escape, from the rule of service imposed upon him alike by religion, military duty, and love; "

' The making of a Knight '- I have a feeling some of this hung in there, in a few secret societies later. My great grandfather's Masonic Knights ceremonial sword has awfully baffling etching on the blade.
chiv make a knight.JPG


Some of what made it's way to our shores begins to dawn on you- one book makes the sweeping claim ' chivalry ' transplanted itself whole as it were straight from England to The New World, that the idea spawned by Feudalism took root here, as in directly which means a genuine democracy may have been a difficult concept at inception. But we did it anyway.

Remember Buster Kilrain, whose grave will be forever sought? Buster's character was created for this exact reason in my opinion- " It's the Chivalry I'm after ". I've always taken that to mean not that a kind of ruling class sprang up as a result of wealth in the South but that the whole thing was never really erased, which would it be here in America, an aristocracy still operating under feudal systems or were we indeed equal members of a democracy?

Some of the more absurd notions mankind has had a tough time shaking off stem from the idea some men are more equal than others. Tough time shaking off? When it was thought actually divine- as in God said so- that someone be crowned king, it's inevitable we'd go down a few dead-end paths. France's first king, for instance- I mean, really? OK, it was 1190 but we hung on to the idea for quite awhile. Angels at the post coronation buffet? Must have been a buffet after all the crowning.
chiv france 1st king.JPG


From 1855- just a snip by an era travel writer. He's waxing lyrical at Cape Fear, on that history, " where high toned honor and chivalrous courage... ". " ..cynosure of refinement.." It's tied in with ' generous wealth '.
chivalrous cape fear 1855.JPG


Duels were fought over one's honor, although that was certainly not exclusive to one portion of the country, ' The Chivalry ' still referred to and with a straight face in newspapers- in all states, we're all familiar with cavaliers, plumed hats and delicate damsels ( the latter largely mythical but it must have made someone feel better ). Post war, Knights vanish behind secret society codes and brotherhoods but during the war this single, uber romanticized concept which seems to have been also part of a social structure was very much alive- if not well.

I can't use portions of books not in public access or various web sites. Some state ' chivarly ' really was a direct transplant, some, that the concept was re-adopted. I DO realize there's a tendency to romanticize the whole ' cavalier ' imagery, the thing is, what I'm seeing is that what's referred to as The Chivalry seems to have been what passed for a kind of aristocracy. Not that money-privilege-'class' wasn't rampant elsewhere 150 years ago, ( please do not side track the thread, we all know it was ) this whole chivalry thing was peculiar to the southern states.

One era ( meaning 150 years ago ) author hilariously condemns the idea of ' chivalry ' then goes on to explain its 15th century downfall. Those pesky peasants kept getting better at warfare, insisted on buying horses and riding to war with those born of er,' finer stock ' and ruined the whole thing. With democracy. Author doesn't sound happy about the democracy part.

arthur knights.JPG


Not convinced it was all transplanted but just can't find an argument either way. From 15th century feudal Europe to the first settlements here there's a heck of a gap.
 

lupaglupa

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Apr 18, 2019
I'm not sure there was that long of a gap. I think the concept of a superior class with superior manners has been a persistent one - though the terms used and the actual specifics of which manners were prioritized would change. But it seems to me that every generation of Western society had some version of the ideals of chivalry - most often tied to the nobility. After all, one has to justify one's position somehow, doesn't one? No one wants to admit that they are rich and (en)titled because of the happy accident of birth and that their moves to protect wealth and stature are simply done to perpetuate that good luck. If instead one can show that one is superior in thought, word, and deed, one need not feel guilty.
 

leftyhunter

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Joined
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Location
los angeles ca
View attachment 362232
" In Days Of Old When Knights.... ". image encompasses old ( old ) concept of knighthood complete with non-Christian foes at one's feet and fair maiden rescued, medieval oath of honor upheld. Chivalry. You couldn't be one and carry off that fair maiden ( fainting or no ) unless you happened to be born into a certain social class, however.

Some topics are tougher to poke around in than others. BOY is this one- what and who in blazes were meant by ' chivalry ' and ' the chivalry ', frequently in caps? AND why is it important? It's not snark, it's awfully confusing.

Members here will have their own take and please be nice. ' Chivalry ' wasn't just an active term, it was a noun- as in the chivalry. a group of people.

How on earth a code apparently centered on honor and kinda-sorta adhered to by clanking, helmeted, gauntleted members of the peerage through centuries of medieval, European rule made it ( sans armor ) to American shores and all the way into our ' civil ' war is still something that defeats me.And honest, been digging hard. There are books galore, some 200 years old some more recent that still fail to connect the dots with any degree of satisfaction. Since the Middle Ages lasted from the 5th to the 15th centuries there's a lot to draw on..

" The history of chivalry is not merely the history of a noble caste, though the usages and honours belonged to none but gentlemen born, and those enjoyed who them disdained to admit their inferiors to any share in them. Chivalry also held up an example to men of low degree, and raised the courage, softened the manners and relaxed the morals of the common people. The standard of honour, honesty, decency, and sobriety, which is conformed to by the ruling classes, is to some extent a standard set for those below them in rank."

You can tell by how ' honour ' is spelled, this book is in public access.

" The whole duty of a gentleman was included in the idea of chivalry ; and his Hfe from his early childhood was regulated by it. The principle of service to God, his lord, and his lady underlay everything The word 'miilitare ' which, in low Latin, meant ' feudal service,' explains to the knight the spirit which is to guide all his actions. He can never escape, nor can he wish to escape, from the rule of service imposed upon him alike by religion, military duty, and love; "

' The making of a Knight '- I have a feeling some of this hung in there, in a few secret societies later. My great grandfather's Masonic Knights ceremonial sword has awfully baffling etching on the blade.
View attachment 362231

Some of what made it's way to our shores begins to dawn on you- one book makes the sweeping claim ' chivalry ' transplanted itself whole as it were straight from England to The New World, that the idea spawned by Feudalism took root here, as in directly which means a genuine democracy may have been a difficult concept at inception. But we did it anyway.

Remember Buster Kilrain, whose grave will be forever sought? Buster's character was created for this exact reason in my opinion- " It's the Chivalry I'm after ". I've always taken that to mean not that a kind of ruling class sprang up as a result of wealth in the South but that the whole thing was never really erased, which would it be here in America, an aristocracy still operating under feudal systems or were we indeed equal members of a democracy?

Some of the more absurd notions mankind has had a tough time shaking off stem from the idea some men are more equal than others. Tough time shaking off? When it was thought actually divine- as in God said so- that someone be crowned king, it's inevitable we'd go down a few dead-end paths. France's first king, for instance- I mean, really? OK, it was 1190 but we hung on to the idea for quite awhile. Angels at the post coronation buffet? Must have been a buffet after all the crowning.
View attachment 362233

From 1855- just a snip by an era travel writer. He's waxing lyrical at Cape Fear, on that history, " where high toned honor and chivalrous courage... ". " ..cynosure of refinement.." It's tied in with ' generous wealth '.
View attachment 362230

Duels were fought over one's honor, although that was certainly not exclusive to one portion of the country, ' The Chivalry ' still referred to and with a straight face in newspapers- in all states, we're all familiar with cavaliers, plumed hats and delicate damsels ( the latter largely mythical but it must have made someone feel better ). Post war, Knights vanish behind secret society codes and brotherhoods but during the war this single, uber romanticized concept which seems to have been also part of a social structure was very much alive- if not well.

I can't use portions of books not in public access or various web sites. Some state ' chivarly ' really was a direct transplant, some, that the concept was re-adopted. I DO realize there's a tendency to romanticize the whole ' cavalier ' imagery, the thing is, what I'm seeing is that what's referred to as The Chivalry seems to have been what passed for a kind of aristocracy. Not that money-privilege-'class' wasn't rampant elsewhere 150 years ago, ( please do not side track the thread, we all know it was ) this whole chivalry thing was peculiar to the southern states.

One era ( meaning 150 years ago ) author hilariously condemns the idea of ' chivalry ' then goes on to explain its 15th century downfall. Those pesky peasants kept getting better at warfare, insisted on buying horses and riding to war with those born of er,' finer stock ' and ruined the whole thing. With democracy. Author doesn't sound happy about the democracy part.

View attachment 362237

Not convinced it was all transplanted but just can't find an argument either way. From 15th century feudal Europe to the first settlements here there's a heck of a gap.
Chivilary is just a myth. During the Crusades Christian Knights massacred Jewish and Moslem civilians when they conquered Jersulem. Ask the Scott's and Irish about the chivilary of British Knights or the various Peasent Rebellions.
During the ACW sometimes POWs or enemy wounded would be treated humanely but sometimes not.
Leftyhunter
 
Joined
Mar 6, 2011
Great OP ! This has piqued my curiosity. I'll need to do some research
Chivalry is an ideal rather than a myth, to me. If my memory serves correctly, the first city the First Crusade sacked was a Christian one.
To some historians the Age of Chivalry ended at the Battle of Agincourt (1415). There England's Henry V found it prudent to kill some 1500 French knight prisoners rather than hold them for ransom, as was the custom.
Look forward to learning more about this topic..
 

Scott1967

Sergeant
Joined
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Location
England
Chivilary is just a myth. During the Crusades Christian Knights massacred Jewish and Moslem civilians when they conquered Jersulem. Ask the Scott's and Irish about the chivilary of British Knights or the various Peasent Rebellions.
During the ACW sometimes POWs or enemy wounded would be treated humanely but sometimes not.
Leftyhunter

Sorry Lefty Britain is a modern concept you might mean English Knights if that's the case and ignore Hollywood , Scots , Irish , English , Welsh were all brutal and committed atrocities.

The concept of Chivalry did exist but it was confined to its social class , Chivalry ended in my view at the battle of Agincourt when a large number of French noblemen were executed on the orders of Henry V by low born peasant Yeomen archers.

As for the ACW well Chivalry got a revival in the Victorian era so that might have a lot to do with attitudes in the South which was considered more English than the North.
 

David Knight

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Location
Pontefract, Yorkshire.
Chivalry on the battlefield only ever applied to rich nobles who had a price worth a ransom. For the rest of us.. tough. By the 16th Century it was a way of the Court showing how good they were to each other in rituals. Sort of an elite thinking it was better than everyone else and stuff them. Charles I discovered that absolute monarchy was no long acceptable and paid with his Kingdom and head.

After the 16th Century it was really play acting and showing off......
 

DaveBrt

2nd Lieutenant
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Location
Charlotte, NC
The South went wild over the novels of Sir Walter Scott, especially Ivanhoe. His version of the Middle Ages in England became one of the half dozen best selling titles in the South. Published in 1819, in 3 volumes, the story is weak, but the descriptions of events, people and scenes were greatly admired and in many ways are still with us (Robin Hood "of Loxlie" was a Scott addition to RH's story). The reading public of the South saw itself as upholding the fine virtues of the English knights against the low-life Northern factory man. There were several books on the effects of the Scots on the South about 20 years ago.
 

leftyhunter

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Location
los angeles ca
Sorry Lefty Britain is a modern concept you might mean English Knights if that's the case and ignore Hollywood , Scots , Irish , English , Welsh were all brutal and committed atrocities.

The concept of Chivalry did exist but it was confined to its social class , Chivalry ended in my view at the battle of Agincourt when a large number of French noblemen were executed on the orders of Henry V by low born peasant Yeomen archers.

As for the ACW well Chivalry got a revival in the Victorian era so that might have a lot to do with attitudes in the South which was considered more English than the North.
Not sure about the whole concept of Yeoman archers massacring French Knights. As I recall the archers were just serving God and Country and used their Longbows vs a charging horse with a heavily armed Knight that could spear the poor Archer with a Lance or take his head off with a sword.
As far as the Celtics are concerned they were conquered by the English nation and the Knights took undue liberties with their woman folk.
The ACW had more then it's fair share of Guerrilla Warfare and chivilary was not exactly practiced by either side. The men of the USCT certainly didn't experience Chivilary if captured and they often returned the favor.
The people of the Levant during the Middle Ages didn't experience chivilary on a consistent basis from Christian Knights .
Leftyhunter
 

DaveBrt

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Location
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Chivalry ended in my view at the battle of Agincourt when a large number of French noblemen were executed on the orders of Henry V by low born peasant Yeomen archers.
Myth, not fact. The English had captured so many knights that the knights began to make noises about revolting. Since the French army still greatly outnumbered the English, the uprising would have been a serious problem. It appears that some of the revolt leaders were killed in order to prevent the revolt taking place. The idea of killing many prisoners was protested by the English who wanted the ransom money and did not take place.
 

leftyhunter

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I
Sorry Lefty Britain is a modern concept you might mean English Knights if that's the case and ignore Hollywood , Scots , Irish , English , Welsh were all brutal and committed atrocities.

The concept of Chivalry did exist but it was confined to its social class , Chivalry ended in my view at the battle of Agincourt when a large number of French noblemen were executed on the orders of Henry V by low born peasant Yeomen archers.

As for the ACW well Chivalry got a revival in the Victorian era so that might have a lot to do with attitudes in the South which was considered more English than the North.
Just read the Cliff Notes version of the Battle of Angiecourt and yes the English did massacre French POWs. On the other hand as mentioned Knights during the Crusades killed unarmed civilians in the Middle East and even Christian Bulgaria. Chivilary is just a concept and not always a reality.
Leftyhunter
 

David Knight

First Sergeant
Joined
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Location
Pontefract, Yorkshire.
The South went wild over the novels of Sir Walter Scott, especially Ivanhoe. His version of the Middle Ages in England became one of the half dozen best selling titles in the South. Published in 1819, in 3 volumes, the story is weak, but the descriptions of events, people and scenes were greatly admired and in many ways are still with us (Robin Hood "of Loxlie" was a Scott addition to RH's story). The reading public of the South saw itself as upholding the fine virtues of the English knights against the low-life Northern factory man. There were several books on the effects of the Scots on the South about 20 years ago.
Walter Scott was responsible for a lot of historical myth and distortion but he appeal to the early 19th Century audience. My office at work in Nottingham is called Loxley House. Nobody until Walter Scott had heard of the 'Wars of the Roses' it was called the Cousin's War but tosh about picking white and red roses in a garden is better than a civil war between rivals for the throne.

Walter Scott has done a lot of damage to popular history.
 

Scott1967

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Location
England
Not sure about the whole concept of Yeoman archers massacring French Knights. As I recall the archers were just serving God and Country and used their Longbows vs a charging horse with a heavily armed Knight that could spear the poor Archer with a Lance or take his head off with a sword.
As far as the Celtics are concerned they were conquered by the English nation and the Knights took undue liberties with their woman folk.
The ACW had more then it's fair share of Guerrilla Warfare and chivilary was not exactly practiced by either side. The men of the USCT certainly didn't experience Chivilary if captured and they often returned the favor.
The people of the Levant during the Middle Ages didn't experience chivilary on a consistent basis from Christian Knights .
Leftyhunter

The archers were serving themselves not country and deffo not god , They were enlisted as professional soldiers some of the first in the medieval ages , They were after booty in fact they would have been hugely disappointed to slaughter so many nobles as they didn't received their cut in the ransom.

I think you have watched to many Hollywood films Lefty , Robert the Bruce slaughtered thousands of Irish in his campaign in Ireland in fact it was mainly the Irish who sided with the English against the Scots but in those time allegiances changed like the wind.

The Irish were raiding England and Wales for century's mainly for slaves , St Patrick himself was not Irish but more likely Welsh or Roman British he was taken in an Irish slave raid.

The Welsh has also been raiding for century's along the English border mainly in Cheshire and Shropshire and Herefordshire they were excellent Guerrilla fighters.

The Scots were originally Irish they took the lands from the Picts in conquest and from affiliation they launched numerous invasions of England , The Town of Berwick changed hands some 17 times I think over the course of 400 years.

The idea the Celtic nations were oppressed is sort of like the lost cause idea in truth they gave as good as they got the difference being they lost more than they won and so the English are viewed as stereo typical bad guys.

As for the Levant both Christian and Muslims committed atrocities the biggest being when Antioch was retaken in the late 13th Century the massacre was over 50,000 Christians however both Muslim and Christian nobility expected to be ransomed if captured according to the acts of Chivalry.

It is ironic really a Scotsman and Englishmen will still have great banter that vary rarely turns into fisticuffs after all those years of war and brutality and while the rivalry still exists their is a mutual respect for each other , You more likely to be racially abused by some plastic 5th generation Irishmen from New York than an actual Irishmen as I was back in 2004 on my visit to NY.

North Wales on the other hand is a different beast they speak Welsh and my wife is from Conway and speaks Welsh herself so when we visit she can tell me everything they say and lets put it this way they are not to found of the English to say the least sometimes old wounds can be hard to heal.
 
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leftyhunter

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The archers were serving themselves not country and deffo not god , They were enlisted as professional soldiers some of the first in the medieval ages , They were after booty in fact they would have been hugely disappointed to slaughter so many nobles as they didn't received their cut in the ransom.

I think you have watched to many Hollywood films Lefty , Robert the Bruce slaughtered thousands of Irish in his campaign in Ireland in fact it was mainly the Irish who sided with the English against the Scots but in those time allegiances changed like the wind.

The Irish were raiding England and Wales for century's mainly for slaves , St Patrick himself was not Irish but more likely Welsh or English he was taken in an Irish slave raid.

The Welsh has also been raiding for century's along the English border mainly in Cheshire and Shropshire and Herefordshire they were excellent Guerrilla fighters.

The Scots were originally Irish they took the lands from the Picts in conquest and from affiliation they launched numerous invasions of England , The Town of Berwick changed hands some 17 times I think over the course of 400 years.

The idea the Celtic nations were oppressed is sort of like the lost cause idea in truth they gave as good as they got the difference being they lost more than they won and so the English are viewed as stereo typical bad guys.

As for the Levant both Christian and Muslims committed atrocities the biggest being when Antioch was retaken in the late 13th Century the massacre was over 50,000 Christians however both Muslim and Christian nobility expected to be ransomed if captured according to the acts of Chivalry.

It is ironic really a Scotsman and Englishmen will still have great banter that vary rarely turns into fisticuffs after all those years of war and brutality and while the rivalry still exists their is a mutual respect for each other , You more likely to be racially abused by some plastic 5th generation Irishmen from New York than an actual Irishmen as I was back in 2004 on my visit to NY.

North Wales on the other hand is a different beast they speak Welsh and my wife is from Conway and speaks Welsh herself so when we visit she can tell me everything they say and lets put it this way they are not to found of the English to say the least sometimes old wounds can be hard to heal.
As far who the good guys vs bad guys are in the old conflicts between the English vs Celtics that would be like in all conflicts a case of perception equals reality.
My main point stands that chivilary at best is a concept not a reality. There may have been some chivilarous acts back in the day but overall war back then and now is not always warm and fuzzy as far as treating POWs and civilians go.
Leftyhunter
 

Scott1967

Sergeant
Joined
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Location
England
Myth, not fact. The English had captured so many knights that the knights began to make noises about revolting. Since the French army still greatly outnumbered the English, the uprising would have been a serious problem. It appears that some of the revolt leaders were killed in order to prevent the revolt taking place. The idea of killing many prisoners was protested by the English who wanted the ransom money and did not take place.

I wouldn't call 2000 or so French dead some Dave but I do agree their is evidence the English knights protested so Henry got his archers to do it they had no qualms about killing anything to be fair in todays society they would be classed as Thugs or highly skilled murderers for hire.
 

privateflemming

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Location
California, USA
I wouldn't call 2000 or so French dead some Dave but I do agree their is evidence the English knights protested so Henry got his archers to do it they had no qualms about killing anything to be fair in todays society they would be classed as Thugs or highly skilled murderers for hire.

Before Agincourt the French had sacked the town of Soissons that was loyal to England (or really the Plantagenet dynasty) and massacred the citizenry and English archers garrisoned there. From Wikipedia:

"During the Hundred Years' War, French forces committed a notorious massacre of English archers stationed at the town's garrison, in which many of the French townsfolk were themselves raped and killed.[4] The massacre of French citizens by French soldiers shocked Europe; Henry V of England, noting that the town of Soissons was dedicated to the saints Crispin and Crispinian, claimed to avenge the honour of the saints when he met the French forces at the Battle of Agincourt on Saint Crispin's Day 1415."

Chivalry was a complete joke other than as a formalized way the nobility were supposed to treat other nobility when captured and ransomed but it didn't apply to peasants and common soldiers who weren't worth much in ransom anyway. The massacre at Agincourt seems to have attracted special attention at least partly just because they killed knights along with common soldiers.

Even ignoring the crusades in the Middle East, here is another famous example of a total lack of "chivalry" in the Middle Ages when the papal legate ordered the massacre of the entire city of Beziers in Southern France in 1209, saying to let God sort them out since some were considered heretics:

.
 
Joined
Mar 6, 2011
Maybe we're saying the same thing in different ways...
History teaches me it's always about power & money. Archers weren't to receive any ransom, so had little qualms about killing French noble prisoners. English nobles did not get the wealth expected from ransoms. Henry V feared an uprising in his rear and removed the threat.
Nothing in the Medieval period was warm and fuzzy.
Privateflemming posted as I was writing. Chevauchee or Chevaunche was practiced during parts of the Hundred Years War. This is terrorizing the civilian population all possible ways. The common people on all sides suffered greatly. To paraphrase somebody's quote..In the 14 century the lucky ones died young.
 

Scott1967

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 11, 2016
Location
England
Maybe we're saying the same thing in different ways...
History teaches me it's always about power & money. Archers weren't to receive any ransom, so had little qualms about killing French noble prisoners. English nobles did not get the wealth expected from ransoms. Henry V feared an uprising in his rear and removed the threat.
Nothing in the Medieval period was warm and fuzzy.
Privateflemming posted as I was writing. Chevauchee or Chevaunche was practiced during parts of the Hundred Years War. This is terrorizing the civilian population all possible ways. The common people on all sides suffered greatly. To paraphrase somebody's quote..In the 14 century the lucky ones died young.

Your somewhat right , Ransoms would be paid to a noble who captured a noble however if the noble was captured by a man at arms or archer of the said nobles retinue he would also receive a cut.

At Harlfluer Davy Gam a Welsh man at arms captured the French captain of the garrison who was paroled for x amount of coin a large sum to the King but also to Davy Gam under the condition the Frenchman turned himself in after the conflict.

One of the most notable acts of late Chivalry was James IV of Scotland who announced his invasion of England 4 weeks before he invaded in 1513 by sending a letter to Henry VIII , At the battle of Flodden it would cost James his life and his army with and estimated death toll of 6000 to 17000 Scottish dead including 80% of the Nobility.
 
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