Chivalry, the code of behaviour practised in the Middle Ages, especially in the 12th and 13th centuries, by the mounted soldier or knight. The chivalric ethic represented the fusion of Christian and military concepts of conduct. A knight was to be brave, loyal to his lord, and the protector of women (See A Knight's Code). The songs of the troubadours celebrated these virtues.

It was a system of apprenticeship: as boys, knights' sons became pages in the castles of other knights; from the age of 14 they learnt horsemanship and military skills, and were themselves knighted at the age of 21. The Crusades saw the apogee of the chivalric ideal, as new Christian orders of knights (Knights Templars, Knights Hospitallers), waged war in Palestine against the Muslims. During times of peace, the tournament was the setting for displays of military and equestrian skill. The 15th century saw a decline in the real value of chivalry, and though new orders, such as the Order of the Golden Fleece(Burgundy) were created, tournaments survived merely as ritualized ceremonies.