What constitutes Knighthood?
Is it only a reigning monarch in a sovereign country who presides over an Order of Chivalry can make any such appointments?
Or can it be a series of actions guided by an inner character that be nothing less than kind, considerate, honorable and a protector of the weak and voiceless?
The nobility of Knighthood seems to be a forgotten trait to aspire to. Look around at the news and day to day, events that bombard us that chivalry is a lost art. The only actions that seem to be newsworthy are motivated by sex, greed, lust, fame, vanity, or monetary gain, especially if it is at the expense of others.
I have never reconciled the image of Knights with shining armor. Poetic imagery of shining armor is not as beautiful as solid actions and deeds.
As we all too human souls venture in this odyssey of self-identification, we have to admit we never really know what we or anyone else is capable of. Bad or good, until we get to a moment of truth, we can only ponder what we are capable of.
So should we not have a lodestar to aspire to?
For both the sexes?
Enter Jehanne d´Arc (or Joan as we have come to know her) was a illiterate 15th century peasant girl, youngest daughter of indentured farmers , whom later became a Catholic saint, and national heroine of France. She had no noble name, lands or title, cared not for appearances nor sought fame: “I am a poor girl; I do not know how to ride or fight. It is God who commands it.”
Dauphin of France in Bourges, Charles VII de Valois was impressed she had picked him out of a crowd, despite being lied to who was the Dauphin and granted her an army to pursue her visions. Be it a perverse amusement to watch a girl be killed on a battlefield or a genuine believe in her words, she was set off to win great battles for France.
When Joan was captured and sold to the English, who turned their great victor back over to France, it was not a fortuitous victory for her. There was pressure from other monarchs within Europe on France, to prove King Charles did not obtained his throne and crown by witch and heretic. The French church set trial to Joan in claims to protect the newly minted monarch. Her claims to the persecutors at the French Inquisition in Place du Vieux-Marche that she spoke with Angels did not help the The Maid of Orléans.
Mere mortals are not capable of such, for it was only priests have the direct line to God.
Her trial was before ecclesiastical authorities in France, the very country she was set upon to save. Her charges were that of heresy: her crime was rejectioning of church being the only authority of God.
Like the pagans Martin Luther could not covert Catholicism because they did not believe they needed a priest to receive direct inspiration from God, Joan of Arc “listened to her better angels”. She raped, tortured and was burned at the stake, only to be canonized by the very organization that killed her and called a “Daughter of God”
Enter Gilles de Rais, companion-in-arms of Joan of Arc. The early life of Gilles de Rais was marked by tragedy: father died in a gruesome hunting accident, his mother died shortly thereafter. Rear by his grandfather, de Rais quick to anger, an apparent characteristic that served him well in the battlefield. When Joan of Arc came to court in 1429, Charles VII de Valois asked de Rais to watch over her in battle. In an attempt to not insult one of the wealthiest men of noble standing by asking him to watch over an illiterate peasant girl in the heat of battle, the dauphin granted de Rais the title of marshal of France, the highest military distinction.
Was it all the credit for victories given to Joan and not to de Rais that lead to her captured? No one can say, nor are there any records to prove such. Yet de Rais was not there, protecting Joan and she befell a horrible fate at the hands of her own countrymen. Yet de Rais was in step with Joan's part in history, and he needed a victory without Joan’s looming shadow to prove his worth. In 1431, it came in a lesser known battle known as Loire campaign and this was used by the French court to prove that the France could beat the English without Joan. Gilles de Rais receded from the military Charles VII de Valois, and retired from public life to his title and lands.
During his retirement, there was a legal action sought by de Rais's family members that barred him from selling or mortgaging anymore of his lands to get liquid capital continue his lifestyle. This should have been the initial flag, though de Rais brushed it off due to the monies were needed to seek a higher calling.
Gilles de Rais began construction of a church to increase to which he explained it was to increase the “bliss of his soul". He financed the Chapel of the Holy Innocents, its name stemming from biblical teachings of Herod's massacre of the babies to find the Christ child. Though Joan's memory had been disgraced, charges of heresy against her had failed to be believed and was widely regarded a saint in France. Is this why de Rais was so determined to build this chapel?
Or was this a form of payment to the church for their part in the spectacular demise of Joan, to absolve the Crown and de Rais of associating with a witch or an admission for de Rais part in Joan's capture to the English?
Yet there was a new and intriguing reward for taking on such an endeavor. Gilles de Rais got to pick the choir boys who would sing in chapel. As far back as the tenth century, it was common to preform castration on boys to prevent them from changing their voices and developing lower tones in their voices upon puberty. Perhaps de Rais, having learned of the ways of the castrati while choosing his Chapel of the Holy Innocents choir that lead to darker things in his life.
In 1440, the impetuous de Rais fought with cleric at the Church of Saint-Étienne-de-Mer-Morte, and shortly after this encounter, the cleric disappeared. This lead to official church investigation to find the cleric's whereabouts and lead secular law men down a path of years of behaviors that where claimed to have been witnessed; de Rais supervising his servants of burying the bodies of dozens of children on the castle’s grounds. Some witness accounts claimed he squandered his money in occult practices such as Satanism, hoping to gain back his some of his lost riches by invoking the devil himself.
Gilles de Rais, companion-in-arms to Joan of Arc , born in wealth and privilege was accused forty-seven charges by both ecclesiastical and civil courts. Charges included the ‘the conjuration of demons’ and sexual perversions, torture and murder of 100 children, mostly boys. Of course, he confessed to all this under threat of torture which always bring forth the truth in confessions, right?
FUN FACT : In 1992 a French wing of Freemasonry organized a court of former French ministers, parliament members, and UNESCO experts to reopen the trial and retry de Rais based on the evidence from his original trial. The verdict? Not guilty
There is a blog dedicated to the innocence of ed Rais here, with some interesting parallels to the family motivation to have him burn at the stake like Joan did and collect on his Title and Lands.
So what does it take to be a knight, and do we have the courage to do such in our day to day lives?
True war tested armor is not shiny, but beaten, battered and blood stained. It is not perfect, and has weaknesses. Even noble knights find it hard to do the right thing in every circumstance, and can not right all the injustices alone. Heresy was a word used to condemn people, just like the word racism is used today. Both terms were used to silence those they do not want speaking. Funny how the tricks of yesterday are still being used today.
Thus we must all aspire to be better knights, all of use should appeal to our better angels,
especially in the dark days to come.
This was an original written document for steemit by me.