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A painting depicting a knighting

10 Rules of Chivalry Everyone Should Consider


The institution of knighthood remains a source of inspiration for contemporary warriors (and the rest of us, too).

Legend has it that in 1483, on the eve of his death, Sir Thomas Lemuel Hawke of Cornwall wrote a letter called “Rules of Knighthood” to his four children. In the 1970s, one of his descendants, Ethan Hawke (an actor you’ll remember from movies like Boyhood, Before Sunrise and Dead Poets Society) discovered the letter in the basement of his grandmother. Or so the legend goes.

Actually it was thus that one day he began to talk to his wife about things they’d like to teach their children, in terms of values for life and beliefs. So he assembled the sayings of people like Muhammad Ali, Emily Dickinson and Mother Teresa into a compendium of pop wisdom, a true chivalric manual for the knights and ladies of the future, the fiction book Rules of a Knight (2015).

Here are some of them:


Never announce that you are a knight, simply behave as one. You are better than no one, and no one is better than you.


The only intelligent response to the ongoing gift of life is gratitude. For all that has been, a knight says, “Thank you.” For all that is to come, a knight says, “Yes!”


Anything that gives light must endure burning.


There is only one thing for which a knight has no patience: injustice. Every true knight fights for human dignity at all times.


You were born owning nothing and with nothing you will pass out of this life. Be frugal and you can be generous.


In the field of battle, as in all things, you will perform as you practice. With practice, you build the road to accomplish your goals. Excellence lives in attention to detail. Give your all, all the time. Don’t save anything for the walk home. The better a knight prepares, the less willing he will be to surrender.


Sometimes to understand more, you need to know less.


Every knight holds human equality as an unwavering truth. A knight is never present when men or women are being degraded or compromised in any way, because if a knight were present, those committing the hurtful acts or words would be made to stop.


Love is the end goal. It is the music of our lives. There is no obstacle that enough love cannot move.


Life is a long series of farewells; only the circumstances should surprise us. A knight concerns himself with gratitude for the life he has been given. He does not fear death, for the work one knight begins, others may finish.


* Image from Poems and Romaces ca. 1445. British Library’s Royal Manuscripts Collection 15 E VI f. 405.

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