…i’m called out for having interests.
ok so look here’s the deal, i never used to care much about knights until i read spenser’s the faerie queene and encountered peak disaster boi redcrosse knight, who barely manages to stumble his way through a series of quests with the help of his fed-up lady, una. it is an extremely charming little tale imo, and has some interesting takes on mental health and recovery from the late 16th century. so now i just uh…like knights a lot.
this is very much a lawful good appreciation post, btw. strange, i know.
here are some things i like about knights, literary and historical:
- rituals of respect, even in the midst of chaos, are cool. idk. i blame aragorn in the lotr movies (who is not exactly a knight but whatever) for making me feel some type of way about this, but like, raising your sword and giving a small bow to your opponent while looking them in the eye before trying to kill them? absolutely tasty! the whole chivalric code is honestly just great; i love how simultaneously high-minded, crucial, rigid, and ambiguous it is.
- dubbing ceremonies are also cool; who doesn’t love watching a cute person kneel to be ceremoniously bopped with a sword?
- singleminded dedication to anything, prioritized above your own life, is a curio worth prodding at. how did you decide that what you should care about? did you decide, or did someone else decide for you, and are you able to reevaluate? how much will you be punished for failing, or for defecting? how much will it break you to fail? how much will it break you to have to reconsider your singular priority if it turns out to be bad? this is a website full of people who used to be “gifted” and are now sad adults, and people who have had to depart from social norms in a multitude of ways - the difficulties of expectation and devotion are familiar to many, surely.
- just…it’s interesting how much pomp goes on around a phenomenon that ultimately trashed the value of the lives of these young, strong, presumably upstanding people? you cultivate gentle mannerisms and skills, you put on the armor, you put on the colors, you arm yourself, you present yourself with utmost respect to your king and your lady, and then you go out there and get the shit beaten out of you for the amusement of spectators, or to get some stupid little task done? what? like i know this has been a huge staple of most human societies almost everywhere forever so knights aren’t ~*speshul*~ in this regard but they do certainly show this phenomenon off in a particularly metallic, high-contrast sort of light, don’t they? it’s so high-minded but you’re just some dude with a kind-of-ok bloodline trying not to have people laugh at you as you die in the mud after being knocked off your horse in front of a lot of drunken idiots. seems like a very silly way to gain social credit, but it’s so sincere, too.
- many a knight will have a lady to whom he is trying to prove his worth. she is meant to be his moral compass, pointing his sword in the direction of wrongs that need to be righted (what if she sucks at it? there’s a fun thought…). the knight will strive to impress the lady by demonstrating his proficiency in various forms of art as well as by questing on her behalf, and if he manages to please her, depending on the kind of story, she might agree to marry him. that’s all cute; the amount of dedication that can go on in these stories is fabulous, and the conflation of romantic/sexual desire with religious goodness is SO interesting (that is a topic i can and will happily talk about all day but will refrain from going into now).
- however! that is not the only way for a successful relationship between a lady and her knight to end! she might be already married, or perhaps too good for him, in which case they have two options: 1) they carry on a secret love affair behind her husband’s back, which encourages excitement and ensures they’ll never get bored of each other (see andreas capellanus’s tips on courtly love for a fun time), or 2) they maintain a chaste romantic relationship outside of the lady’s marriage in which there is ongoing admiration and pining, and the relationship takes on an even more spiritual tone. which is so weird?? especially the second option?? there’s a post somewhere on this website that i tried and failed to find that’s about how queer people can relate to knights because of the forbiddenness of physical contact that leads to turning romantic love into a religious experience, which seems absolutely right. we all love to go on about victorian repression but there’s not enough about chivalric chastity.
- every person looks good in armor. even if the armor is bad. even if the armor is silly. armor is a hot look. it just is.
- basically knights are interesting intersections of various conflicting concepts and the whole mythos surrounding them is very sexy if you too are a person just trying to do your best by performing humiliating and/or dangerous stunts with great sincerity in the hopes of finding some beauty in your weird little life.
thanks for giving me an opportunity to rant, anon. i’m not sure if this is quite what you were hoping i’d talk about, but i had fun, so i hope you did too :D