Is Chivalry Dead?

By Liz Kalfayan
Staff Reporter

What does chivalry mean to you?  

For sophomore Carla Pereira, it means following forms of either codes or guidelines that are able to make you a better person and strive to achieve certain things.  

On Feb. 27 a presentation called “Love, Honor, Shame and Violence: The World of Medieval Chivalry” took place in the Martire Theater. The presentation was given by Dr. Kate McGrath, a professor of History at Central Connecticut State University.  

The presentation was a part of a History Lecture series that happens annually and was brought to Sacred Heart to provide a world history lecture and not just a United States history presentation.  

Sophomore Kaitlynn Castro’s definition of chivalry changed during her time viewing the presentation. Chivalry can have few different definitions, and Castro believed that it was something very simple like someone holding a door open for you.  

“However, at the end of the lecture, my definition of chivalry did change,” said Castro. “I now think that the definition of chivalry is the multiple qualities that the ideal medieval knight possesses.”  

According to McGrath, chivalry is a term that has lost its original definition. McGrath had opened her presentation by describing how people think of chivalry now as something that comes out of a Disney movie.  

Throughout McGrath’s presentation, she detailed how the origin of chivalry dealt with aristocracy and knights fighting at war. These are things that are opposite of what many would consider having come out of a Disney movie.

“We misuse it, and it is now acting like a gentleman,” said McGrath.  

The term chivalry actually originated more in terms of knights, war and being considered a nobleman. McGrath mentioned in her presentation that if you were a knight, then you were considered to be chivalrous.  

There is a sense of being a gentleman in the word chivalry, but it has a much deeper meaning than just holding the door open for someone and being courteous. There are multiple different aspects to the term.  

According to the presentation, there is courtly romance, but there is also love, shame and honor — all of which are also important in relationships, even today.  

“It is important to establish early on a sense of mutual respect, commitment, and love,” said Pereira. “The two people in the relationship have to abide by those ‘rules’ if they truly want to see the relationship work.”  

The presentation was informative for everyone in attendance, including professors as well as students.  

Dr. Kelly Marino, a professor in the history department, arranged for McGrath to come give the presentation and was also in attendance for the lecture. Marino didn’t specifically study Medieval Chivalry, so she was very interested to learn more about the topic.  

“I really enjoyed it and I learned a lot,” said Marino.  

For Marino, her definition of chivalry entails the notions of having respect and being courteous.  

“People are more chivalrous in 2020 and more socially aware,” said Marino.  

The students also had a positive reaction to the presentation because it gave them a better understanding of the history and it was something they had never thought of before.  

“I thought the presentation was very insightful,” said Castro. “I think it was nice to learn that a lot of values during the Medieval Chivalry Age were based off of religious virtues and beliefs.”  

Pereira is majoring in History and found the presentation to be especially interesting since it had been a long time since studying the Medieval part of History.  

“Dr. McGrath had a great way of keeping the audience engaged,” said Pereira.


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