The Art of Manliness Podcast Episode #17: The Code of Chivalry with Scott Farrell

by Brett on February 15, 2010 · 12 comments

in Podcast

Welcome back to another edition of the Art of Manliness podcast! In this week’s episode we talk to Scott Farrell, director of Chivalry Today. We discuss the history of chivalry and how modern men can apply the code of chivalry to improve their lives. For more information about chivalry, check out Scott’s site, Chivalry Today. Tons of interesting and useful information there.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Phillip S. February 15, 2010 at 11:57 pm

I don’t understand this author…
To start: Where did chivalry start? Answer: He won’t say/doesn’t know…
The real question: Why did we need chivalry in the first place? As in: Why did we need a code or an ethic for being men? Were we not men in the first place? When or at what point did men stop being men?…etc etc…
Next: Individuals in the Middle Ages? – Not in the common sense. Not before the so-called Enlightenment when man declared himself free from God and adopted reason as his sole compass and fore-went the entire cosmology and philosophy related to Him and instead put Man as first and foremost…
Next: Placing chivalry (as an origin) in 10-11th cantury? How about the story of the Spartan crowd of soldiers who all stood up, when no one else would in the crowded stadium, to allow an old man to sit and watch the Olympic games? Oh…
Next: Gender equality? Women chivarley? Um…
And finally: Men cannot be chivalrous because they are no longer allowed to be men! To be chivalrous is, in turn, to be repsected as a man…From women, children, et al…and there is no such thing. In such a indivualistic society, everyone is out for their own – To do what is needed, we need a community of men and this is disappearing.
Chivarly Means: Don’t worry ABOUT YOURSELF; JUST DO WHAT’S RIGHT!

2 Mark February 16, 2010 at 8:11 am

Oh so killing, raping, pillaging, and even turning on your allies in battle and killing them is something to emulate right?

3 Greg February 16, 2010 at 8:19 am

I feel scepticle about a moral code that it’s inventors never obeyed, or at least cherry picked who they deemed worthy of this code.
Societys and especially warlike ones have had moral codes for millenia.
Certainly if you actually follow this creed instead of just proclaiming it, then you will be a better man.
But as for chivalry in many peoples modern interpretation of the word, as being kind to women, is more impracticle because of women actually seeing this as demeaning and chavinist.
As Phillip S stated “Men cannot be chivalrous because they are no longer allowed to be men!”, the postcast wasn’t that bad but I have gripes with the subject of chivalry in general.

4 Dan February 16, 2010 at 10:43 am

Chivalry is dead. Are you kidding?! With what a man has to face in today’s feminized and female privileged class, men are clearly on the losing side. Chivalry is a four letter word and an anathema to men and their freedom. It is a taboo, archaic word not used in circles of men’s philosophical discussions. Chivalry is a set of norms and customs that bind men to obligations no longer appropriate, disparagingly inequitable, and an enslavement to them.
I think a more appropriate and formidable word to use is integrity.

5 Jim February 16, 2010 at 11:22 am

I enjoyed Scott’s podcast and went to his site to read more. I know that when I look back on those days it seems very brutal. It was a brutal time. Scott is pulling out good characteristics that would make our communities better if we followed them.

The knightly virtues:


The definitions may be different than what you think.

Thank you for the podcast.

6 Scott Farrell February 16, 2010 at 8:17 pm

Greetings Art of Manliness fans!
Clearly the topic of chivalry still stirs up some passionate responses today! And I wish that Brett and I had had enough time to get into the origins and history of chivalry (or, more correctly in the medieval parlance, “chevalerie” – the way of the mounted warrior, from the same Latin word “cabal” that gives us “cavalry”). The conceptual roots of chivalry can be found as early as the 8th century with the Carolingian Renaissance, although the term, as such, was not used until the 12th or 13th centuries. (The Spartans may have been noble and fraternal guys – but their culture was long, long gone by the time anyone coined the word “chivalry.”)
And of course, chivalry IS an idealistic and high-minded concept – and the more you look into the real history of the Middle Ages, the more you see chivalry defined more by its lack than its practice. But falling short of an ideal does not make a culture or a society morally bankrupt – at least, I hope not, because if you measure modern, 21st century society (as a whole!) by the ethical and moral principles we’ve set for ourselves … (pause for dramatic effect) Hmmm …
But writers of the Middle Ages, like Geoffroi de Charny and Ramon Llull, clearly took the concept of chivalry seriously, and in their own way embraced and espoused the ideals of chivalry passionately and sincerely. Like us, they saw that not everyone lived up to the ideals of chivalry – Llull said that only one in 1,000 was suited for the title of knight, and Charny recognized that many who call themselves “knight” are unworthy of the title, while many “poor men” have more nobility in their hearts than the knightly class. Just because ideals are hard to live by doesn’t make them invalid or worthless – and they recognized this much the same as we do today. (I hope.)
But … a lecture in medieval history isn’t what I thought listeners of Art of Manliness were really interested in. Chivalry, as a concept, has proved remarkably resilient throughout the ages – and in today’s world, I think it has much to offer as a guide for ethical and moral principles in many realms. As I said, chivalry IS dead … if we try to define it in terms that would have been appropriate 50 or 100 years ago. (But chivlary wasn’t created 50 or 100 years ago – it was around for 800+ years before that!) But if we allow the concept of a “knightly code of honor” to be updated and applicable in modern society, it has a lot to teach us about respectful, courteous and responsible ways to treat each other – such as conversing in a respectful and dignified manner in an on-line forum like the Art of Manliness. ;-)
I hope you’ll visit to learn more – and listen to the March Chivalry Today podcast when Brett will be my guest to talk about about whether chivalry has a place in the Art of Manliness! – Scott Farrell, Director of the Chivalry Today Educational Program

7 Alessandro February 16, 2010 at 9:58 pm

Ah… At long last… Two of my favorite web sites and podcasts merge. Long live the AoM and Chivalry Today!

8 boomer babe February 24, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Chivarly isn’t dead but most silly women ALMOST killed it: im hoping that the generation born after 1990 brings it back(I love it when men open the door for me)

9 boomer babe February 24, 2010 at 5:24 pm

Since chivalry ‘seems’ to be dead, you have males acting badly–I believe that is how men become stronger ‘in a sense’ . I believe that is why we have so much filth and porn in music especially ‘rap’ you can thank our generation for destroying the balancing act between male and female–girls look sad today…

10 Dave February 28, 2010 at 1:09 pm

How interesting! Great podcast.
Much of the revulsion of chivalry, and the attacks upon it, from the women’s libbers has disappeared. I suspect that some women began to catch on that it wasn’t such a bad thing the first time a door was let fly right into their faces, rather than the male just ahead holding it for them. That was always a curious notion, as an example of chivalry, or to me just good manners, made more so by the fact that in the military I would hold the door for my commander or a private in the same manner as for a lady, and my commander would do the same for me.

Who was it that said something like there being no better sign of a person’s character than how he or she treats others when they don’t have to?

Men are the first to hold responsible for the loss of civil behavior today. But women are no less to blame; one of Scott’s most important points was this: “Women were the arbiters of chivalry.” Indeed. Sadly, men – today’s fathers – are failing to teach their daughters how they should expect to be treated by other men. The consequences of this failure are tragic.

I have several sets of codes that are mutually supportive, each building on the other. And, for the record, I’m in my 60′s. They are:
The Ten Commandments
The Scout Oath
The Scout Law
The Scout Motto
The Scout Slogan.

Maybe Mr. Baden-Powell was on to something, do you think?

11 Dave February 28, 2010 at 1:12 pm

…And having just posted that, I realized that I left out something really important: Just as men are failing to teach their daughters how they should expect to be treated, so are fathers failing to teach their sons how women are to be treated. This is every bit as critical as the rest.

12 Valerie March 26, 2010 at 1:05 pm

As a lover of medieval literature, true chivalry is something that interests me greatly! Originally, it was a code of honor for knights to follow involving protection of the weak (including women), and using their assets (education, money, and even sword) to this end, and not for their own gains. To see the real meaning of chivalry in action, read the Grail stories, particularly Gawain and the Green Knight.

If you were to translate the old meaning of chivalry as closely as possible to modern terms, it would be about standing up for the down-trodden. Volunteering time at a homeless shelter or donating goods/money/services to a battered women’s shelter, or even just standing up for someone being bullied. Embody the code of a true knight – that of protector of the people! Opening doors and standing up when a woman sits at your table are all very polite and gentlemanly, but missing the mark on true chivalry.

Chivalry (protecting the weak) being mixed up with gentlemanly treatment of women (opening the door, etc.) is why some women see opening the door as treating them as week. Breaking that stereotype will end that misconception. Opening the door or carrying her bags is NOT chivalry and is not something you do because a woman is weak. It’s because she deserves to be treated with courtesy, as all people do. If you’re clear on the difference and adhere to both, you can promote both ideals and at the same time prove that you don’t think women are weak – brownie points all around. :-D

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