For all of its masculinity and focus on physical force the knightly culture would have never existed in the shape we know it without the essential feminine aspect.The central role of women in the development of codes of chivalry is still percieveable in modern understanding of the term, seen mainly as correct behavior, and respect towards the fairer sex. Although the modern popular image of medieval chivalry, hugely influenced by 19th c. sensibilities, is rather remote from reality, there is historical proof that ladies played a vital part in knightly culture. Geoffroi de Charny, a renowned French knight from the 14th c., was convinced ladies were absolutely instrumental in inspiring great feats of martial prowess. This belief was probably widely shared as is evidenced by the General Prologue to Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales wherein one can read that the Knight's son took part in a couple of military campaigns and conducted himself well "in hope to stonden in his lady grace" (in hope to stand in his lady's good graces). In the following Knight's Tale the core of the barrative is military rivalry for a lady's affection. Ladies also played an important in knightly tournaments. Medieval romances and chronicle entries show numerous instances of knights challenging other competitors in their lady's name, as well as adorning their armors with tokens of love and devotion given to them by said ladies. Fighting for a lady's honor or to win her affection was a recurrent motif of medieval narratives and a very real motivation for many a young knight. The ladies themselves were apparently well aware of their power and enjoyed serving as their knights' inspiration as Charny noticed that "All of this makes the noble lady rejoice greatly within herself at the fact that she has set her mind and heart on loving and helping to make such a good knight". The lovely model in the picture, this knight's inspiration and the love of his life: @__galazka__
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