ETYM French chevalerie, from chevalier knight, Old Fren., horseman. Related to Chevalier, Cavalry.
1. Courtesy towards women; SYN. gallantry, politesse.
2. The medieval principles of knighthood.
Code of gallantry and honor that medieval knights were pledged to observe. Its principal virtues were piety, honor, valor, courtesy, chastity, and loyalty. The word originally meant the knightly class of the feudal Middle Ages.
Chivalry originated in feudal France and Spain, spreading rapidly to the rest of Europe and reaching its height in the 12th and 13th centuries. It was strengthened by the Crusades. The earliest orders of chivalry were the Knights Hospitallers and Knights Templars, founded to serve pilgrims to the Holy Land. Secular literature of the period takes knighthood and chivalry as its theme.