Chivalry will be on display at city council with two knights now at the horse shoe.

By Pepper Parr

On Sunday “The Queen” will create two new Knights of the Realm and we will see Sir Paul of Sherwood and Sir Rick of Aldershot made knights as part of a visit the “Queen” is making to Ireland House on Sunday  -Mother’s Day.

The event is part of a day of fun during which Ireland House will pay all kinds of attention to the Queen and the Monarchy – not that there is any relationship whatsoever between the Farm at Oakridge or the Royal Family for that matter, but it will be a nice day to have some fun in an ideal setting.

This is how a "knighting" takes place today and each year the Queen knights a number of people.

The event is one of those that the Museums of Burlington hold through the year.  Joseph Brant did have a connection to Royalty, quite a strong one base on the evidence at the Brant Museum, but he is apparently not going to make an appearance with the impersonator filling in for “Queen Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God Queen of this Realm and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.”

There will be “tea with the Queen” at Ireland House in the afternoon and at some point there will be a ceremony that ‘knights’ Councillors Paul Sharman and Rick Craven.  There is an excellent opportunity for those participating to learn more about the heraldry that surrounds Knights, and Lords, and Barons and Viscounts and Dukes.

Knights of the medieval era were asked to “Protect the weak, defenseless, helpless, and fight for the general welfare of all.” These few guidelines were the main duties of a medieval knight, but they were very hard to accomplish fully. Knights trained in hunting, fighting, and riding, amongst other things. They were also trained to practice courteous, honorable behaviour, which was considered extremely important. Chivalry (derived from the French word chevalier implying “skills to handle a horse”) was the main principle guiding a knight’s life style. The code of chivalry dealt with three main areas: the military, social life, and religion.

When given a title the recipient has the right to create a "coat of arms". What would Paul Sharman and Rick Craven have chosen for their coat of arms.

The military side of life was very important to knighthood. Along with the fighting elements of war, there were many customs and rules to be followed as well. A way of demonstrating military chivalry was to own expensive, heavy weaponry. Weapons were not the only crucial instruments for a knight. Horses were also extremely important, and each knight often owned several horses for distinct purposes. One of the greatest signs of chivalry was the flying of coloured banners, to display power and to distinguish knights in battle and in tournaments.  Warriors were not only required to own all these belongings to prove their allegiance: they were expected to act with military courtesy as well. In combat when nobles and knights were taken prisoner, their lives were spared and were often held for ransom in somewhat comfortable surroundings. This same code of conduct did not apply to non-knights (archers, peasants, foot-soldiers, etc.) who were often slaughtered after capture, and who were viewed during battle as mere impediments to knights’ getting to other knights to fight them.

Probably not attire that we will see on either Councillor Craven or Sharman Sunday afternoon at Ireland House. Certainly not for Craven - but with Sharman - you never know.

Becoming a knight was not a widely attainable goal in the medieval era. Sons of knights were eligible for the ranks of knighthood.  While other young men could become knights, in theory, it was nearly impossible for them to achieve that goal, especially for those from the lowest class. Those who were destined to become knights were singled out: in boyhood, these future warriors were sent off to a castle as pages, later becoming squires. Commonly around the age of 20, knights would be admitted to their rank in a ceremony called either “dubbing” (from the French adoubement), or the “Accolade”. Although these strong young men had proved their eligibility, their social status would be permanently controlled. They were expected to obey the code of chivalry at all times, and no failure was accepted.[citation needed]

Chivalry and religion were mutually influenced. The early Crusades helped to clarify the moral code of chivalry as it related to religion. As a result, Christian armies began to devote their efforts to sacred purposes. As time passed, clergy instituted religious vows which required knights to use their weapons chiefly for the protection of the weak and defenceless, especially women and orphans, and of churches.

Some of this could well apply to our Council members and Burlington society in general but for this Sunday afternoon it will be a day of fun and game playing as someone impersonating the queen will tap Sharman and Craven on the shoulder with a sword and declare: “Arise Sir Paul”.

The Code of Chivalry continued to influence social behaviour long after the actual knighthood ceased to exist, influencing for example 19th century Victorian perceptions of how a “gentleman” ought to behave up to today.

Hopefully neither will take the statement all that seriously.

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