There are few concepts today more dismissed—and yet more necessary—than chivalry. During the Middle Ages chivalry was a moral system that combined a warrior ethos, knightly piety, and courtly manners. As C.S. Lewis writes in “The Necessity of Chivalry“—my favorite essay of his—the medieval ideal brought together fierceness and meekness, “two things which have no natural tendency to gravitate towards one another.”
“It brought them together for that very reason,” says Lewis. “It taught humility and forbearance to the great warrior because everyone knew by experience how much he usually needed that lesson. It demanded valour of the urbane and modest man because everyone knew that he was as likely as not to be a milksop.”
This video illustrates the essay Lewis published in 1940 during the Battle of Britain, and three days before Churchill’s famous “Never was so much owed by so many to so few” speech (20 August 1940) concerning heroic British fighter pilots who saved the country from the Nazis.