Sunday, April 18, 2010

Chivalry and Albert I

Above, we see Ilya Yefimovich Repin's famous, idealized portrait of Albert I, King of the Belgians, during the First World War. The painting epitomizes the legend of the fearless "Knight-King." Today, many mock this title- Albert, they say, was only a mediocre horseman. At heart, he was a man of peace, not a warrior. Albert himself did not like the title. He was often wearied and embarrassed by the adulation showered upon him by the Allied peoples.

Yet, Albert really was a knight. He was a member of many chivalric orders, including the Order of the Garter and the Order of the Golden Fleece. At the end of the First World War, after the fall of the Habsburgs, he even requested to be granted the sovereignty of the Austrian Order of the Golden Fleece! That will be the topic of a future post...

Here are some codes of chivalry attributed to the Emperor Charlemagne. (Via Elena Maria Vidal).
  • To fear God and maintain His Church. 
  • To serve the liege lord in valor and faith. 
  • To protect the weak and defenseless. 
  • To give succor to widows and orphans. 
  • To refrain from the wanton giving of offense. 
  • To live by honor and for glory. 
  • To despise pecuniary reward. 
  • To fight for the welfare of all. 
  • To obey those placed in authority. 
  • To guard the honor of fellow knights. 
  • To eschew unfairness, meanness and deceit. 
  • To keep faith. 
  • At all times to speak the truth. 
  • To persevere to the end in any enterprise begun.
  • To respect the honor of women. 
  • Never to refuse a challenge from an equal. 
  • Never to turn the back upon a foe.
Here is a code issued in 800 AD, at the beginning of Charlemagne's reign:
  • Love God Almighty with all your heart and all your powers
  • Love your neighbour as yourself
  • Give alms to the poor as ye are able
  • Entertain strangers
  • Visit the sick
  • Be merciful to prisoners
  • Do ill to no man, nor consent unto such as do, for the receiver is as bad as the thief
  • Forgive as ye hope to be forgiven
  • Redeem the captive
  • Help the oppressed
  • Defend the cause of the widow and orphan
  • Render righteous judgement
  • Do not consent to any wrong
  • Persevere not in wrath
  • Shun excess in eating and drinking
  • Be humble and kind
  • Serve your liege lord faithfully
  • Do not steal
  • Do not perjure yourself, nor let others do so
  • Envy, hatred and violence separate men from the Kingdom of God
  • Defend the Church and promote her cause.
In the 15th century, the Duke of Burgundy defined the virtues of the Order of the Golden Fleece as follows:
  • Faith
  • Charity
  • Justice
  • Sagacity
  • Prudence
  • Temperance
  • Resolution
  • Truth
  • Liberality
  • Diligence
  • Hope
  • Valour
I do think some of these maxims and qualities describe Albert I...

1 comment:

MadMonarchist said...

I always liked that picture. It may not convey the literal truth, but conveys the 'spirit' of events truly enough. As I often say, the King would have been blamed if all had been lost, so in all fairness he should be given the credit for the government and army surviving, hanging on and eventually coming back victorious.