Categorized | History, Society

In the defense of Chivalry

A number of men’s right’s activists have made it a point to decry “chivalry” in modern society.  Among their grievances are the social obligation to hold doors open for women, or to carry out certain tasks which are considered tasteful among polite society.  Such men’s rights activists reason that, since women in modern times believe themselves to be equal to men, their function and obligations should be the same.

This, however suggests an incorrect idea of the traditional chilvaric code.  Chivalry is not merely a set of mannerisms intended to be “polite,” but rather a complete way of life governing a specific caste.  While the knights of the middle ages were indeed expected to adhere to certain standards when dealing with women, it this is not all that it encompassed.  Chivalry was originally conceived of as an aristocratic warrior code, and as such was paralleled in the East by bushido (the way of the Warrior).  Over time, this warrior code encompassed the way of life both on and off the battlefield.  Away from the battlefield, a knight was still a knight, necessitating the non-martial and civil aspects of the tradition.

As a philosophy of war, its roots are deeper though.  In the Middle Ages, the exemplification included the Nine Worthies, six of whom predate Christianity.  Hector, Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar, represented the Pagan tradition, Joshua, David and Judas Maccabeus represented the Hebrew Tradition, and the King Arthur, Charlemagne and Godfrey of Bouillon represented the Christian civilization.  Thus, the practice and theory of chivalry was considered something esoteric and in many ways, supra-religious.  Metaphysically, the it has its roots in the primordial sacral-royal Tradition associated with the Biblical order of Melchizedek, while embracing the Aryan worldview of the kshatriya; Evola outlines this concept in the following ways, saying that chivalry expresses itself as such:

  1. upholding the ideal of the hero rather than of the saint, and of the conqueror rather than of the martyr;
  2. regarding faithfulness and honor, rather than caritas and humbleness, as the highest virtues;
  3. regarding cowardice and dishonor, rather than sin, as the worst possible evil;
  4. ignoring…the evangelical precepts of not opposing evil and not retaliating against offenses, but rather, methodically punishing unfairness and evil;
  5. excluding from its ranks those who followed the Christian precept ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill’ to the letter; and
  6. refusing to love one’s enemy and instead fighting him and being magnanimous only.
As stated in the beginning, a knight’s attitudes and conduct towards women were only a small portion of his expectations.  There were certain circumscribed bounds of fidelity, and the obligation for a knight to protect his lady, but these too was reciprocated by an entirely different function on the part of the woman.  In this case, the woman achieves a certain transcendence in the loyal service towards the virile character of a knight.  The function of women was thus one which was complementary — yet separate — from that of a man.  A previous essay deals with such concepts, so they will not be repeated here.  Evola himself articulates the following:
“To realise oneself in an increasingly resolute way according to these two distinct and unmistakable directions; to reduce in a woman all that is masculine and in a man everything that is feminine; and to strive to implement the archetypes of the ‘absolute man’ and of the ‘absolute woman’ – this was the traditional law concerning the sexes according to their different planes of existence.” Revolt Against the Modern World (p. 159)
Modern men’s rights activists are perhaps correct when they say chivalry is dead.  They are also correct when they say that feminism killed chivalry.  Yet, it is quite possible to be an admirer of authentic chivalry, while decrying the so-called “advancements” of feminism, and it is necessary to repeat such a fact.  In fact, the very fact that an ideology of feminism can be allowed to exist is the root of the problem.  The fact that men must now hold doors for women, is but an inconsequential secondary symptom of the entire “illness” of  modern, gyneocratic society.  This is to say that while perhaps the peculiar social expectations of behavior may seem excessive to some, chivalry is not the problem.
Instead of calling to eliminate chivalry, we must eliminate feminism.  We must eliminate the idea that women should imitate men and vice versa,  and we must not give into the false doctrine of equality (which, it should be noted, modern feminists do not want), but revive true chivalry and true relations between the sexes.
Deus Vult!

About William van Nostrand

William van Nostrand is a native of Chicago, Illinois and is currently the Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of He holds a B.A. in Economics as well as a minor in cultural anthropology. His interests are highly varied and include late medieval European architecture, German romantic classical music, and travel.
  • Mustafa H.E.

    Actually, chivalry started to die with the invention of firearms and other modern weaponry and military strategies and tactics, but those are structural and technological changes, the inventors of new weapons intended to make better weapons, with a higher killing power and range, they had no intention to destroy chivalry….however, modern feminists and social movements always have the intent on getting rid of ideas; be it chivalry or even guns, nuclear power, pesticides, oil, etc without proposing technological solutions and advancements to make up for the shortcomings of their ideology.

    • Frank

       I agree in part, Mustafa, but the ideal of the gentleman persisted until the end of World War II.  Though it persists in other areas like the Middle East and Central Asia, it is but a crude vestige of what the archetype once was.

  • Angolmois

    Chivalric conducts exist today in a sublimated form, yet I do agree that they are a mere vestige of true chivalry. Feminism, as noted, is a cancer of the highest degree, yet the root of the problem of feminism lies in the patriarchal and chauvinistic conceptions of exoteric Christianity; lets not forget that feminism as an ideology started in the 17th century because women were not considered even as human beings. When after this women claimed themselves “the right to work”, it was, if not the start, then the very spread of both the capitalistic and bolshevistic, materialistic conceptions of man and woman.

  • Ray Wilson

    The probably here is that “men’s rights” is something different entirely from traditionalist thought or even paleoconservativism or something run of the mill of that sort- the politics of playing victim and playing up ones “rights” are playing by the rules and board designed by secular humanists and liberal democrats who only discuss politics of victimhood and demands for more “rights”. All of this is rather effeminate.