Many of you I am sure have heard the word Chivalry used in numerous situations generally revolving around favourable conduct of men towards women such as opening doors for them or putting them first in general. Well if it is not obvious by now but this is a common misnomer and the words origins started well, a little less romantic and a bit more dark. It originally relates to the medieval period in Europe and more specifically to knights, Chivalrous conduct was a militaristic value held by knights and was a corner stone to the way they would carry themselves. Although the rules were not official and varied from region to region they largely governed the knights conduct in battle and more importantly to others of their stature.
The medieval period was full of ruthlessness with morals shaky at there best with this code not really being what would be considered honourable by modern day standards as commonly knights would look down on others below their station and in battle mercilessly slaughter warring countries peasants without a second thought but with the opposing knight the story was always different. They would always engage in fair combat so not attempting to get a quick edge by sneaking up on them or looking for a time when there guard was down. They showed mutual respect for one another allowing an even footing to test their skills and prove who was actually better in fair combat. This is quite admirable as in most combat the edge acquired plays a vital role in the situation so this true testament to skill is quite interesting though the admiration can only go so far as they showed no respect for common footmen or anyone below their rank and in several cases just slaughtered them even after surrender, showing the real level of honour. Though the real clincher is that an apposing knight where to surrender to another knight the knight would be bound by the code of chivalry to spare their life as they admit they have been bested by that knight and therefore it would be in poor taste to kill a man who has surrendered to them, making a very clear divide in the classes and well, the Medieval time was all about the class divide so it is not surprise really.
So where has the romanticist idea of chivalry came from? Well this is a later adaptation of the name which occurred in the late Medieval period from rich merchants who strove to learn chivalric attitudes as they were aristocracy they learnt the manners of the knightly classes in a much more civilian way. The main thing that is still translated is the conduct towards women known as courtly love which is about the total dedication towards a women and hence where the most common uses for it stems.
It is strange to see how an idea has been corrupted and changed to bend to the needs of people, this is not to say knights did not respect women but initially this was not really the purpose of chivalry and that came later as the term changed and well it is a good thing in many respect that chivalry is indeed dead, at least in its truest form, although many of the values are solid virtues and still applicable in the modern world the Medieval era was quite bloodthirsty and ruthless the use of chivalry in the modern setting is still not entirely well placed and is one of thoughts common misnomers that continues to be applied to many situations.