Chivalry refers to the medieval institution of knighthood, and especially the ideals that were associated with it, or have become associated with it through literature. It was often also associated with ideals of honour and of courtly love.
The word comes from the Latin cabellerius, or "cavalry". The French chevalier and the English cavalier derive their names from the same word. The intention, in all these cases, is to distinguish the aristocratic knight on horseback from the peasant infantryman walking with his pike and the artilleryman dragging his vulgar machinery.
The basic virtues included:
- Mercy (towards the poor and oppressed. They were supposed to be harsh with evil-doers.)
- Fear of God (Faith)
- Utmost graciousness and courtesy to ladies