Sunday, May 24, 2009

Thoughts on Honor

In ancient times up through the Middle Ages, the only contract was a person's word. Giving your word amounted to a binding contract. Taking an oath meant something and bound you to your utterance. Fealty was taken seriously and a breach of that fealty made you a "felon" (criminal).  The law governed the way people behave and if you chose to live outside the law, you lived outside the community of people as an "outlaw".

Beginning in the late 11th Century, the concept of honor was codified under a social contract for a certain class of warrior/landlord as chivalry. Chivalry required adherence to a moral code that emphasized courage, honor and service. Cowardice was unthinkable, and that very concept led to many needless deaths in combat where men at arms were obliged by their class and their code to prove their courage. Chivalry required duty to country, fairness, valor and protecting the weak and poor. It also required duty to God even above the feudal lord and duty to women requiring gracious conduct. [The Broad Stone of Honour: Rules for the Gentleman of England (Digby)]

The same concepts of chivalry that permeated European society was mirrored in the Muslim world. Moorish knights were expected to exhibit skill in the martial arts, be pious, courteous, and poetic in writing.

Whether Christian or Muslim, the requirement of a knight was HONOR above all. It was a standard set for behavior and though it might surprise those of the present day, the concept was deeply held. Today there is not much honor in government and there is no knightly class to protect the poor or champion the proper treatment of women. 

It's left to each of us to hold the value of honor within our own hearts and to act accordingly.


WoFat said...

Honor is a good thing. Too bad politicians don't believe in it.

Anonymous said...

Good post. Sadly we don't see much of this no and days. Nor do we see virtue, principals, and values much anymore either.

Lessons on the English Longsword said...

Sad but true.

Btw, LL, I'm glad to hear your granddaughter is well.


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