The History of Manners, and the Origin of Chivalry

This being a style and etiquette magazine, it is only natural to feature a heavy dose of advice on modern manners.  Manners, in their contemporary sense, have come a long way.  What we now perceive and perpetuate as all-encompassing rules of acceptable behavior were once, not too long ago, rare and unusual.  After all, how did it come to pass that forks replaced fingers, and nose-picking in public was the ultimate faux pa?


YouTube channel The School of Life endeavors to explain, in depth, the origin and evolution of manners as we know them today.  The overall gist of the video explores the gradual civilization of mankind over time, and the specific expectations and values belonging to certain trends in various time periods.



One such trend to note that came as a relative surprise: chivalry was originally created by a woman.  It probably shouldn’t come as such a surprise though, it’s doubtful men of the age would be interested in curbing their own masculinity.  In an attempt to civilize her husband and the men around him French queen Eleanor of Aquitaine employed a poet to compose songs of love for the royal couple.  The songs are not in fact a romantic gesture but part of Eleanor’s subtle attempt to influence how a good man should treat his lady. Talk about passive aggressive.


All kidding aside, if it wasn’t for Eleanor where would we be today?  There would be no ‘knight in shining armor’ stories, nor its cliché.  Perhaps no Romeo & Juliet, and definitely no A Knight’s Tale. God that’s such a good movie!  Good on Eleanor, though, for having such a novel idea catch on.  She and her ladies in waiting used poetry to set expectations of how military men should act around women.


“Slowly, thanks in part to Eleanor, an attitude known as chivalry develops in the courts of Europe.  An idea that men need to moderate their force and sexual impulses to protect what is termed the honor and dignity of women.”  Then and now, men will do anything for the love of a woman.

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