This week’s word is chivalry and it comes with thanks to a friend who treated me to more Edmund Crispin novels for my birthday. If you enjoy classic British detective fiction, I can heartily recommend his Gervase Fen mysteries featuring a witty, quotation-dropping Oxford professor as amateur sleuth.
Professor Fen points out in “The Case of the Gilded Fly” that chivalry originally denoted an affection for horses and it caught my eye. I’d learned about the code of courtly love in English class long ago so this was a shock to me. But he’s right. Chivalry comes from chevalier (horseman or knight) in 11th century Old French or callabarius in Latin. The word cavalry comes from the Italian of the same word.
So while the knightly code encompassed gallantry, honour towards ones enemies, and kindness to the vulnerable in society, I guess that first of all a knight always loved his horse.
Until next time, happy reading, writing, and wordfooling,