Unlike Feudalism, Perfect Chivalry Is Not Contractual

April 28, 2016

By Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

Francisco Javier Parcerisa's Castle Belmonte, Spain

Francisco Javier Parcerisa’s Castle Belmonte, Spain

It appears that in some kingdoms of Europe, maybe the one of the Cid in the north of Spain, there was a contract between the king and his vassal so that if the king broke the contract, allegiance was extinguished. This is easy to understand because of the feudal bond. In other words, he could have been a very good vassal but the king broke the contract, and so he was unfortunately freed. But he could not play the role of an idiot and keep following a lord that had done him wrong. Don’t you think this is reasonable?

Medieval Life

But perfect chivalry should not be contractual. Contractual chivalry is not chivalry; it is the feudal bond. In the feudal bond, the king would give a man a piece of land and the man would in turn be obliged to assist the king in some ways; and for his part, the king also owed him assistance. This feudal bond was undone as long as one of the parties broke the contract. This is very just because a region has the right to defend itself against an abusive central power; and the fiefdom was a region. Lest we should fall into royal absolutism, we must recognize that the regional feudal lord has a right to break with the king if the king wants to decimate the region.

knights by Paul Hector Mair

Chivalry is another matter altogether: it is a personal bond. Even more: it is not just a personal bond but a personal bond in the Order of chivalry. It is different with a knight. In the Order of chivalry, without ceasing to be a knight, the knight gives up his person to a certain end; and then it is like a religious Order in which the inferior cannot depose the superior because he is bad. He has to subject himself to the cross of the superior’s evil. (Excerpt from a Chá, Wednesday, Nov. 1, 1989 – Nobility.org translation)

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