Chivalry Facts
Chivalry Facts

32 Interesting Facts about Chivalry

Karin Lehnardt
By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published January 28, 2017
  • A 2013 MSN survey found that while nearly two-thirds of women 35 and younger say they offer to pay for dates, 39% hope the guy will turn down the offer and 44% get annoyed if he lets her pay.[12]
  • One sociologist reports that, overall, 16% of men believe a woman owes him sexual favors in return for paying for dates. This number climbs the younger a man is. Approximately 21% of men under the age of 25 believe this. Additionally, the less a man earns, the more likely he expects sex as payment for a date.[12]
  • Roughly one-third of women say that helping pay for a date lessons the pressure they feel to have sex with a man. However, only 22% of women under the age of 25 feel that way.[12]
  • While European chivalry has its roots in feudalism in France and Spain, some scholars believe it is nothing more than the continuation of al-furusiyya al-arabia, or Arabian chivalry, which was imported to Europe during the early Crusades. The knight-errantry, the riding on horseback to find adventure, the rescue of a maiden in need, the nobility of women, and the connection of honorable conduct with the horse rider are all traceable to Arabia.[4]
  • Reaching its highest development in Europe during the 12th and 13th century, chivalry represents a fusion of Christianity and military concepts of the early medieval warrior class. It encompasses such ideas as morality, religion, and social codes such as courage, honor, and service.[4]
  • Little Known Chivalry Fact
    In the 19th century, Europeans considered Saladin as a generous and chivalrous knight
  • The Crusades were seen as a chivalrous enterprise. Ironically, the Muslim leader Saladin (1137/38–1193) achieved great reputation in Europe as the quintessential chivalrous knight.[7]
  • Miguel de Cervantes (1547–1616), in his novel Don Quixote, effectively satirized chivalric romances that were still being read in 16th-century Spain. The central character of the novel, Don Quixote, interprets his experiences according to his reading of the chivalry romances of the time—which, in turn, leads him to outrageous adventures, such as battling windmills.[4]
  • In the later Middle Ages, wealthy merchants adopted chivalric attitudes which were initially practiced by knights. This move helped democratize chivalry, which led to a new genre called “courtesy books.” These books were guides of behavior for “gentlemen,” which included respect for women and concern for those less fortunate.[4]
  • Medieval chivalry includes three basic and overlapping areas for a knight: 1) duties to countrymen and fellow Christians, 2) duties to his lord and, 3) duties to women.[4]
  • More than three-fourths of men in a 2013 study reported feeling guilty about taking a woman’s money when she offers to chip in for a date. However, half of women think the man should pay if his income is higher, and only one-third think they should pay if her income is higher.[12]
  • Chivalry isn't dead. It's just no longer gender-based.

    - Letitia Baldrige

  • In a survey of roughly 1,000 straight people who had been dating their partners for six months or more found that 77% of them believe men should pay the bill on the first date. The findings of a similar 1985 poll show very little have changed, even though more and more women have become the breadwinners in the United States.[6]
  • A 2014 study in the journal Social Influence found that holding doors for men threatens their masculinity and can make them “unhappy.” This study refers to the “chivalrous” type of door holding, where the holder opens the door first and allows the other person to enter and not the generic type, in which the holder goes inside first but doesn’t allow the door to slam behind him or her.[11]
  • A 2010 Esquire Internet survey of 9,617 women found that 72% expected men to open the door for them, 23% expected a man to help her with her chair, 33% expected a man to help her with her jacket, 42% expected him to get the check, and 10% expected him to stand up when she leaves the table.[10]
  • The term “chivalry” is from the Latin word caballus, meaning “nag, pack-horse,” and is related to the word “cavalier.”[4]
  • Interesting History of Chivalry Fact
    The word "chivalry" is related to the word "horseman" because a knight had the ability to call upon his warhorse to defend that which is noble and honourable

  • The LGBT community doesn’t have a traditional “code of chivalry” to fall back on. Steven Petrow, a LGBT advice columnist, suggests this rule: “You invite, you pay.”[6]
  • In a 2010 Esquire Internet survey of 9,617 women, 51% said they offer to pay on the first date, 32% offer to pay on the 2nd or 3rd date, 7% between 4–6 dates, 2% after 6 dates, and 7% believed that man should always pay.[10]
  • According to a 2010 Harris poll, 80% of Americans say that women are treated with less chivalry today than in the past.[5]
  • Many feminist scholars dismiss chivalry as a type of benevolent sexism because it relies on the assumption that women are weak and in need of protection while men are strong. They argue that chivalry perpetuates gender inequality.[3]
  • Since 2009, women at Arizona State University have devoted themselves to bringing back chivalry on a campus that is increasingly defined by partying, frat life, and casual sex. They hold a “Gentleman’s Showcase” that honors men who have acted chivalrously, such as opening a woman’s door. Its goal is to spread mutual respect between the sexes.[8]
  • Interesting Chivalry Fact
    The status quo is that men pay for the first date
  • One study found that while most men believe they are “supposed” to pay for dates, and a fair number of women let them, nearly half of men say they’d dump a woman who never offered to help pay.[12]
  • In the Middle Ages, chivalry was a means to salvation for a man. Specifically, any man who took up arms for a just purpose would save his soul. Just purposes included God’s cause, defense of the weak, saving his own honor, or fighting “against the infidel.”[4]
  • According to chivalric tradition, a man should walk on the right side of a lady. The custom dates from the Middle Ages when knights wore their sword on the left side, keeping the right side (the fighting arm) free. Men were also encouraged to walk curbside to protect women from splashing carriages and the contents of the chamber pots being thrown into the street.[9]
  • The tradition of carrying the bride across the threshold began in Medieval Europe when many people believed that a bride was extra vulnerable to evil spirits through the soles of her feet. To protect the bride from evil spirits, the chivalric groom carried the bride into their new home.[1]
  • Little Known Chivalry Facts
    Women are more likely to be chivalrous than men
  • A 2013 survey found that women were actually more chivalrous than men. Women were more likely to give up their seats to the elderly or expecting mothers. They are also more likely to say hello to a complete stranger and more likely to hold the door open for someone. The survey suggests that men have abandoned chivalry for fear of “getting it wrong.”[2]
  • The chivalric tradition of tipping one’s hat is rooted in the Middle Ages. In medieval times, knights often wore a full body of armor, making it difficult to identify friend or foe. As a sign of friendliness, knights would lift their helmet visors to show their faces to one another. The modern military salute also shares this origin.[4]
  • Scholars point to the superstar status of chivalrous knights who performed in front of adoring crowds in tournaments as the origin of the modern cult of celebrity.[4]
  • Feminist scholars note that the notion of virginity has always been deeply entrenched in male ownership in the same way that chivalry is tied to ideas of ownership and gendered expectations of behavior. Men paid for everything because women were considered property, just as a woman’s virginity was considered a husband’s right to “take” and “own.”[5]
  • Chivalry toward women derived from the admiration of the Virgin Mary. However, women who were outside the noble class were often viewed as much lesser beings than men, and even as a source of sin. This paradox led Freud to coin the term “Madonna/whore complex,” which is when a man will lust for a beautiful woman but will never respect her as “wife” material.[5]
  • Interesting Chivalry Statistic
    Shaking hands was a way to show that you were not wielding a weapon
  • The handshake is derived from the chivalric display of extending the empty right hand, thus showing the other knight that he was not wielding or concealing a weapon.[4]
  • The practice of expressing chivalrous love was called “courtly love.” Courtly love was usually kept a secret and its purpose was both spiritual enlightenment and erotic desire. The rules of courtly love were laid out in Andreas Capellanus’ influential 12th-century work, De Amore (Concerning Love). Modern scholars debate whether his work is a serious treatment of courtly love or a satire on the superficial lives of court nobles.[4]
  • The “damsel in distress” is a central archetypical character in the history of chivalry, particularly during the Middle Ages. This archetype continues in various forms in the modern world, such as in stage magic, where typically a woman is threatened with disappearing or being cut in half. It can also be seen in modern films such as with Ann Darrow in King Kong and Princess Zelda in the famous video game. The figure of the damsel in distress is also a type of fetish within BDSM.[5]
  • Modern scholars note that chivalry during the Middle Ages was not an attempt to end violence but to channel it. By doing so, chivalry actually legitimized violence.[5]

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