Knightly class of feudal Europe, and especially the gallantry and honor expected of medieval knights. The ideal of courteous knightly conduct developed in the 12th–13th century. It arose out of feudal obligation (see feudalism) and stressed loyalty and obeisance by a knight to his God, his lord, and his lady, thus melding Christian and military virtues. Chivalry was greatly strengthened by the Crusades, a military endeavor on behalf of Christianity, which led to the founding of the earliest orders of chivalry, the Knights of Malta and the Templars. In addition to loyalty and honor, the chivalric virtues included valor, piety, courtesy, and chastity. Questions of love and honor were combined in the ethos of courtly love. The knight's lady was meant to be unobtainable, ensuring chastity; the feminine ideal thus became melded with the Virgin Mary. In the 14th–15th century, chivalry came to be associated increasingly with aristocratic display and public ceremony, particularly in jousting tournaments, rather than with service in the field.
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