10 rules of chivalry

The 10 Cardinal Rules of Chivalry Every Knight Followed

Chivalry is an honorable code of conduct that guided the behavior of knights in medieval times. It emphasized virtues such as honorloyalty, and courage, which were expected of every individual who aspired to be a true knight. The chivalric code became the foundation of knightly conduct and was followed rigorously by every knight in their daily lives.

Key Takeaways:

  • The 10 rules of chivalry guided the behavior of knights in medieval times.
  • Chivalry emphasized values such as honorloyalty, and courage.
  • These rules were the foundation of knightly conduct and were followed rigorously by every knight.

Rule 1: Honor and Loyalty

The first and perhaps most important rule of the knightly code of chivalry is the commitment to honor and loyalty. Knights were expected to be true to their word and to uphold their promises, even at great personal cost. This rule governed all aspects of their behavior, from personal relationships to their role as protectors of the realm.

In medieval times, honor was a highly prized virtue, and a knight’s reputation for honor and loyalty was central to his identity. A knight who acted with honor and loyalty was respected and admired, while one who broke his word would be shamed and disgraced.

Knights were bound by oaths of loyalty to their liege lords and to the king. They pledged to serve and protect them, even at the cost of their own lives. This loyalty was considered an essential part of their duty as knights, and they took their commitments very seriously.

Indeed, a knight’s honor was often tied to his loyalty to his lord, and breaking this oath was considered one of the worst offenses a knight could commit. A knight who betrayed his lord might be stripped of his title and lands, and would be forever viewed as dishonorable and untrustworthy.

Thus, the rule of honor and loyalty was central to the knight’s code of chivalry, and governed every aspect of their conduct and behavior. It embodied the highest ideals of knighthood and was a cornerstone of medieval society.

Rule 2: Courage and Valor

Courage and valor were essential components of a knight’s character. In battle, knights were expected to exhibit bravery and fearlessness, charging into the fray without hesitation. But courage was not just reserved for the battlefield. Knights were also expected to display bravery in their daily lives, standing up for what was right and just.

The concept of valor went beyond mere physical courage. It also encompassed the idea of moral courage, where knights were expected to do what was honorable and right, even in the face of adversity. A knight’s commitment to courage and valor set them apart from common soldiers and earned them respect and admiration.

There are many examples of knights displaying extraordinary courage and valor. One of the most famous is the story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. When the Green Knight challenges the knights of King Arthur’s court, Sir Gawain steps forward to accept the challenge. Despite knowing that it could result in his death, Gawain accepts the challenge, displaying his courage and valor.

“Be thou ready, Gawain, to get thee the blow, and let see Whether thou flinchest before it, I flinch not from thee.”

The knightly virtues of courage and valor continue to inspire us today, reminding us that true strength comes from within. By embodying these qualities, we can overcome our fears and face life’s challenges with confidence and resilience.

Rule 3: Courtesy and Respect

The third rule of chivalry emphasizes the utmost importance of courtesy and respect in the knight’s code of conduct. Knights were trained to uphold impeccable manners and display respect towards all people, regardless of their social status.

Knightly manners were characterized by courteous behavior, polite conversation, and respectful gestures towards others. Knights were expected to hold doors open, give up their seats, and stand when speaking to women and elders. They were also expected to show reverence towards religious figures and places of worship.

Respect for others was a core principle of chivalry, and knights were trained to avoid insulting or belittling others. This included refraining from using coarse language, engaging in physical altercations, or speaking ill of others behind their backs.

The rule of courtesy and respect was particularly important in the knight’s interactions with women. Knights were taught to treat women with the utmost respect, displaying chivalrous behavior such as offering their arm for support, escorting them to events, and defending their honor.

In conclusion, the rule of courtesy and respect played a significant role in the knight’s code of chivalry. It emphasized the importance of displaying impeccable manners and showing respect towards all people, regardless of their social status. By adhering to this rule, knights were able to uphold the ideals of chivalry and demonstrate their commitment to honor and loyalty.

Rule 4: Honesty and Truthfulness

Honesty and truthfulness form the fourth rule of chivalry, embodying the knightly virtues of integrity, loyalty, and honor. Knights were expected to uphold the highest standards of honesty in their words and actions, striving to maintain their reputation as trustworthy and reliable members of society.

These virtues were particularly important in the knight’s role as a protector of the weak and vulnerable, as well as his duty to uphold justice and fairness. Without honesty and truthfulness, the knight would be unable to fulfill his responsibilities and would lose the trust and respect of those around him.

While adherence to the rule of honesty was sometimes seen as a challenge, knights understood the importance of this virtue, recognizing that falsehoods and deceit could have serious consequences for themselves and those around them. A commitment to truthful speech and honest dealings was a hallmark of the chivalric code, setting knights apart as individuals of integrity and honor.

Rule 5: Justice and Fairness

Justice and fairness were important knightly ideals that guided the conduct of medieval knights. As protectors of the realm, knights were expected to maintain law and order and ensure that justice was served. They were also expected to treat everyone fairly, regardless of their social status or background.

Knights adhered to a strict code of conduct, which required them to act with integrity and uphold the law. They were expected to be honest and truthful in their dealings with others, and to avoid taking advantage of those who were weaker or less fortunate.

When disputes arose, knights were often called upon to act as judges or mediators, using their wisdom and knowledge to resolve conflicts fairly and impartially. They also played a key role in protecting the rights and freedoms of ordinary people, ensuring that they were not oppressed by those in power.

Even in their personal lives, knights were expected to act with fairness and integrity. They were forbidden from cheating or deceiving others, and were required to treat everyone with respect and dignity.

The ideals of justice and fairness continue to be important today, and the legacy of chivalry can still be seen in the modern world. By embracing these timeless values, we can all strive to become better people and build a more just and equitable society.

Rule 6: Generosity and Charity

One of the most cherished qualities in the knightly code of chivalry is the virtue of generosity and charity. Knights were expected to be kind and compassionate towards those in need, and share their wealth and resources without hesitation. This rule of chivalry is a testament to the ideal of noblesse oblige, or the responsibility of those in a position of privilege to give back to society.

A knight’s generosity was not limited to mere financial contributions, but also extended to acts of kindness and compassion. Knights were expected to be chivalrous towards all – especially women and those of lower social status – and show respect and courtesy in their interactions. They were also expected to undertake good deeds, such as giving alms to the poor, providing shelter to the homeless, or aiding the sick and injured. These acts of charity and kindness were considered as a way of expressing one’s faith and devotion, and were an integral part of the knightly virtues.

This rule of chivalry also served as a means of fostering goodwill and strengthening relationships with one’s peers. Generosity and charity were viewed as a way of building trust and respect, as well as showing appreciation for others. Knights who were known for their generosity and charitable acts were highly regarded and respected, both within their own circles and by the wider public.

The legacy of this rule of chivalry is still evident in modern society. The concept of philanthropy, or the act of donating time, money, and resources to charitable causes, is a direct descendant of the knightly virtue of generosity and charity. The importance of giving back and helping those in need, without expecting anything in return, is a value that continues to be celebrated today.

Rule 7: Piety and Faith

In addition to their commitment to honor and valor, knights were also recognized for their strong devotion to religion. This rule of chivalry emphasized the importance of piety and faith in a knight’s character, as they were expected to exhibit religious devotion in all aspects of their lives.

As defenders of the faith, knights were often called upon to fight in holy wars, such as the Crusades, to protect their fellow Christians and reclaim holy lands. They were also expected to attend church regularly and live according to the teachings of the Bible.

The knight’s religious devotion was also reflected in their interactions with others. Knights were expected to exhibit kindness, respect, and compassion towards those of different faiths, as well as their fellow Christians.

Overall, the rule of piety and faith in chivalry emphasized the importance of religious devotion and its role in shaping a knight’s character. This rule has enduring relevance in the modern world, as people continue to value faith and spirituality as important aspects of their lives.

Rule 8: Humility and Modesty

In addition to the virtues of honor, courage, and justice, humility and modesty were also essential to a knight’s character. Unlike the proud, boastful nobles of medieval times, knights were expected to maintain a humble and modest demeanor.

The ideal knight was not defined by his own accomplishments or wealth, but rather by his deeds of service to others. Knights were taught to be grateful for their blessings and to avoid arrogance and conceit. They were to be respectful and courteous to all, regardless of their social status or background.

Humility and modesty were also important in battle, as knights were expected to show compassion and mercy towards their defeated opponents. A knight who acted with arrogance and cruelty was seen as a disgrace to his order.

Overall, humility and modesty remain important virtues in today’s society. They remind us to be grateful for what we have, to treat others with respect and kindness, and to avoid allowing our own achievements to cloud our judgment and perspective. This is a timeless lesson that we can continue to learn from the code of chivalry.

Rule 9: Protection and Defense

The duty of a knight was to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. It was a noble duty that they took seriously, and they used their skills to ensure the safety of others. They were guardians of justice and were expected to act with honor and integrity in all their actions.

Knights were trained to fight and were often called upon to protect their lords and the realm. They had to be skilled in battle, armed with the latest weapons and armor. However, their duty to protect went beyond the battlefield. They were also responsible for keeping law and order, protecting merchants, and ensuring the safety of travelers on the road.

One of the most famous examples of a knight’s duty to protect was the story of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. The knights were sworn to defend the land and its people, and they did so with great courage and valor. They were also expected to follow a strict code of conduct, which included the rule of protection and defense.

The rule of protection and defense still holds relevance in modern times. We can see it in the work of our police and military, who dedicate their lives to protecting our communities and our nation. It is also present in the work of humanitarians and aid workers who travel to war-torn and disaster-stricken regions to help those in need.

The rule of protection and defense is a testament to the noble spirit of the knights who followed it. It is a reminder that we can all contribute to creating a safer and more just world by using our skills and resources to protect and defend those around us.

Rule 10: Loyalty to the Crown

The final rule of chivalry is perhaps the most well-known: loyalty to the crown. Knights were expected to be unwavering in their dedication to the monarchy, pledging their allegiance to their ruler and their kingdom above all else.

For knights, loyalty to the crown was not just a matter of political obligation. It was a deeply ingrained part of their identity and their sense of honor. Knights saw themselves as defenders of the realm, tasked with protecting their sovereign and ensuring the safety and prosperity of their fellow citizens.

While the idea of feudal loyalty may seem outdated in our modern world, the principle of allegiance to one’s country and its leaders remains as important as ever. Whether it’s serving in the military, participating in civic life, or simply upholding the values of democracy and freedom, the spirit of knightly allegiance lives on in our shared commitment to a better society.


Chivalry may be an ancient code, but its values remain as relevant today as they were in medieval times. By adhering to the 10 cardinal rules of chivalry, knights upheld honor, courage, and justice, embodying the virtues that are universally admired.

The knightly code of chivalry may seem like a relic of the past, but its principles endure. In our modern world, we can all strive to adopt the tenets of chivalry, treating others with courtesy and respect, protecting the vulnerable, and upholding justice and fairness. By embracing the knightly virtues of honesty, generosity, and loyalty, we can make the world a better place.

So let us take inspiration from the knights of old and commit ourselves to living a chivalrous life. By doing so, we can honor the past and shape a better future.


Q: What is chivalry?

A: Chivalry refers to the code of conduct followed by knights during medieval times. It encompassed values such as honor, loyalty, courage, and courtesy.

Q: How many rules of chivalry were there?

A: There were 10 cardinal rules of chivalry that knights followed.

Q: What were the main rules of chivalry?

A: The main rules of chivalry included honor and loyalty, courage and valor, courtesy and respect, honesty and truthfulness, justice and fairness, generosity and charity, piety and faith, humility and modesty, protection and defense, and loyalty to the crown.

Q: Why were knights expected to follow the rules of chivalry?

A: Knights were expected to follow the rules of chivalry as it ensured their behavior and actions aligned with the ideals of knighthood. It promoted a sense of honor, integrity, and service to others.

Q: Is chivalry still relevant today?

A: While the context of chivalry has evolved, the values it represents such as honor, respect, and courage are still considered relevant today. Chivalry can serve as a guide for individuals to live with integrity and kindness.