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I Found My Lance — Chivalry Part 3

Waverly Plantation, Mississippi (Southern Hosp...

Waverly Plantation, Mississippi (Southern Hospitality) (Photo credit: Jody McNary Photography)

Southern Chivalry? Yes, Southern chivalry, or as Vic Dye defines it Southern hospitality (read my interview with Vic Dye here, use the password “vic”. This interview is available only through this article). Chivalry truly is about respect, something that is instilled in Southerners from the time they are learning how to crawl, and swipe all the breakables off the coffee table.

English: The southern United States, as define...

English: The southern United States, as defined by the United States Census Bureau. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A map of the modern definition of the Southern...

A map of the modern definition of the Southern United States, Oklahoma red. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I grew up in the South respect was a universal thing, more so than to previous generations of Southerners. You showed respect to everyone, and people who did not, were frowned upon. What you did in your home was one thing, but in public (particularly in front of children), that was another. I can remember my father being upset with something someone said in public, even though I had heard him say the same thing at home. I grew up poor, and school busing in Florida did not start until I was entering third grade, before that you went to the nearest school. Until third grade, I went to Browning Pearce Elementary School Campus Two, where as a white boy I was in the minority. When northerners talk about racism in the South I reply, “I never saw a lot of that when I was growing up, all the other kids treated me just like everyone else, and they didn’t seem to mind that I was white.” Northerners think I am trying to make a not-so-funny joke, but I am not and this was how I grew up. Every adult (black or white) knew that if I was not behaving myself they were to paddle me, and then tell my dad, where upon he would paddle me again.

So, what are some of the ways that Southerners are chivalrous? Here are just some of the things I remember from my childhood:

  • “Please” and “Thank You”, every single time no matter what, no matter who. If you do not get what you want you say, “Well, thank you anyway.” If someone does something for you, “Thank you very much, I really appreciate that.” Also, “May I?”, “Your welcome.”, “Excuse me.” or “Pardon me.” If you don’t say these things, Southerners will silently question your upbringing (upbringing: Southern speak for how you were raised and what you family is like), thinking you do not know better and were not raised properly.
  • You always act with humility, putting others first. In the South the “golden rule” is still gold. Many shortcomings in a person’s personality will be overlooked if they know how to behave in public around other people.
  • If you are going to make a mistake, err on the side of being too nice.
  • Be friendly! Southerners wave to strangers with a heartfelt smile, and they mean it. Greet the people you come into contact with. If they respond with a few comments, then you answer them. Example: “Hi.” “Hi, beautiful day isn’t it?” “It sure is. You have a nice day.” “Thank you. You too.” “Thank you.”
  • Men always take their hats off when entering a building, during prayers, the national anthem, and when the flag passes in a procession (like a parade).
  • When walking on the sidewalk with women, men ALWAYS walk to the street side with women on the inside. This is a safety issue, though walking on the sidewalk today is safer than in years past, though from time to time we still hear of someone losing control of a car and hitting people on a sidewalk. This is also done in Europe, though for a different reason, in years past people threw their trash into the street through open windows and a pedestrian being hit near the street was not uncommon.
  • All females are referred to as “ladies”, whether you think that particular one is or not.
  • You always hold the door open for others.
  • Always conduct “small talk” with others, whether you know them or not.
  • Do not interrupt.
  • Always offer guests to you home food and drink.
  • Always respect elders.
  • Always look people in the eye when they say something to you, or you say something to them.
  • Always shake hands with a firm grip, not an overbearing painful one (men and women both).
  • When a major event happens to a family (death in the family, new baby, home from the hospital), you visit them and bring food, even if you stay just long enough to give them the food and convey your feelings on what has happened.
  • Stand by your family and friends.
  • Always welcome new neighbors. Yup, they are not being nosey, in the South this is polite and shows “good upbringing.”
  • When in doubt treat others the way you would want yourself and your loved ones to be treated.

A friend posted this on my wall at facebook. If you know who originally did this, please contact me.

In the South men always treat women with respect, carry heavy packages for them, pull out chairs for them, open doors for them. When a lady is in need of assistance you always offer her your hand. If the chairs or seats are all taken and a lady is standing, you stand. Even if the lady refuses your generosity you stand. In the South, a gentlemen never sits while a lady is standing. Also, when a lady enters or leaves a room, a gentleman stands. The things I said in my earlier article about women’s high-heeled shoes apply. Never speak bad about a lady to others, particularly in public. Yes, there are gossips in the South, but you will be held in high regard for refraining from talking bad about others or repeating disparaging rumors. When women are talking you give them your attention, maintain eye contact, do not interrupt, and listen attentively. All of the many gestures of chivalry most certainly apply these and more.

A chivalrous Southern woman does not yell in public and keeps her composure. Women who can say more, with fewer words are viewed as very intelligent and held in high regard (concise is good). Men and women who appear to use more words than are necessary are treated politely, but never enthusiastically (wordy is never good). There is wordy, about right, and concise, men get no points for concise or about right, and like women are avoided (when possible) if known to be wordy in their conversations with others.

Something “outsiders” always seem to miss is the understanding of  the phrase, “Well bless your/his/her heart …”. When a Southern woman starts a sentence with “Well, bless your heart …”, despite what it sounds like you are not about to empathized with, you are about to be, politely, told you are stupid. It may sound like a compliment, but make no doubt about it, that Southern lady just told you, you are “too stupid to pour pee out of a boot with the directions written on the bottom.” (This is not to be confused with the two expressions “Well bless you …” or “Well, bless my heart …”)

A Southern lady is a wonder to behold, they are far more capable, intelligent, cunning, loyal, and above all subtle, than most people realize, and certainly more so than Southern men. Poise, graciousness, subty, good manners, calm, these are the hallmarks of a Southern chivalrous lady. Chivalry for women in the South is not a matter of “do the same stuff men do for women, only you do it for men,” no. A chivalrous lady in the South truly does have the upper hand to all other people in any forum.

It is not possible to do this subject justice in under 1500 words, but you have an introduction. My best advice is to travel to a small or medium sized city in the South, find a good location and observe locals. You will learn more about Southerners in thirty minutes on a street corner than you ever could in a book.

One last thing. As a visitor to the South, you will not be held to the same standard Southerners hold each other too, “it just wouldn’t be polite.” Southerners know you are not a Southerner, but as long as you try to behave in a “Southern manner”, you will highly thought of and respected.

Part four will be on chivalry and feminism, and I hope you are surprised as I am.

Have a great day, and be chivalrous.


To learn more about the South and Southerners read the interview with Vic Dye and my Cup-O-Joe articles, particularly the article, “The Lesson.”

“Has Anyone Seen My Lance — Chivalry Part 1”

“Who Made This Lance Anyway? — Chivalry Part 2”


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Sunday’s Article … “I Found My Lance Chivalry Part 3”

English: A Palmetto Glade Near Palatka, Florida.

English: A Palmetto Glade Near Palatka, Florida. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This Sunday’s article will be from a Southern perspective. Mine. I am a Southerner who has spent 20 years in self-imposed exile. The first thing I learned about living in the north, is that there are plenty of people who treat you like you are stupid as soon as they find out you are a Southerner (not all northerners, just some). It does not matter how smart you are (my IQ is over 160) they still treat you like you are stupid. The first thing I did was work hard on losing the Southern accent (I didn’t know I had one until I moved north). Then I started to pull back on everything my family, neighbors, teachers, and other adults in Palatka, Florida taught me as a child growing up in the South, just so I would “fit in” with northerners.

There is a bible verse that says something to the effect “raise your child right and they will return to it when they are older.”

Official seal of Palatka, Florida

Official seal of Palatka, Florida (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That is just what Palatka did, and I am returning too it. Of course, “you can take the Southerner out of the South, but you can never take ALL of the South out of the Southerner.” So, I didn’t hide from everything, and it will be easier for me to get back to who I am.

This Sunday’s article will be what that little Southern town taught me about being a man, and what my responsibilities are as man. In other words this Sunday’s article will be about Southern Chivalry.

Sunday Morning

Sunday Morning (Photo credit: jspaw)

So, until we meet Sunday, have a chivalrous day.



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Who Made This Lance Anyway? — Chivalry Part 2


Chivalry (Photo credit: aperture_lag)

I intended the article on chivalry last week was to be one article. I did enough research to write a book, but quickly boiled it down to my self-imposed word limit. Then I had such a response I decided to write a second article, which has now grown to four. So, here is the second installment, “Who Made This Lance Anyway –Chivalry Part 2”.

When we think of chivalry we think of Camelot and King Arthur, knights and ladies. We also think of men opening doors for women and pulling out their chairs for them. So, where did chivalry begin and what did it mean.

God Speed! by Edmund Blair Leighton, 1900: a l...

God Speed! by Edmund Blair Leighton, 1900: a late Victorian view of a lady giving a favor to a knight about to do battle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since most of us think of medieval, European knights we will start there. Chivalry began in France. It is much older, but we will get to that later. Before knights and the round table, men owned the lands they could hold, and they employed warriors to insure their rule of that land. Though, quite often these nobles or landowners found themselves damaged by the same warriors they employed, equally by the warriors actions and inactions. These warriors were an undisciplined lot. This led to the Knight’s Code of Chivalry. It was a moral code to live by, a code that sought a higher standard of accountability of those who lived by the code. Being a chivalrous knight was the only way men had of improving their station in life. As the Muslims united under one warrior leader and spread their influence throughout Arabia, North Africa and then into Southern Europe the knights were united under a common cause, a religious war against the Muslims. The code changed to incorporate this religious war. This part is not important to our discussion of chivalry, but there is much that has been written on the subject if you wish to examine this more.

There are many different warrior codes which are very similar. I have tried to consolidate these into one universal code, which explains the warrior code of conduct. The original warrior code these European knights became disciplined by was:

1 Honor: Always act honorably, always show honor to others (peers, subordinates, seniors, God, Country and self). This included other knights, men, women, poor, nobility, royalty, God, and country.

2 Respect: Respect goes with honor, all are to be respected, including self, though the most respected knights, honored and respected their enemies as well, while doing all within their power to defeat their enemies.

3 Loyalty and faithfulness: loyalty and faithfulness to God, country, king (or whoever employed the knight) and peers (other knights). Loyalty and faithfulness go hand-in-hand, one cannot exist without the other

4 Courage: Never show cowardice, death is better than retreat.

5 Mercy: Be merciful to the weaker, less fortunate, and your defeated enemies (though make sure your enemies cannot attack you again).

6 Fairness: Always act justly and do what is right to all and with all.

7 Protection for those in need: Protect and defend those who cannot protect and defend themselves.

8 Honesty: Never lie, not in word deed or by omission.

9 Wisdom: A knight should be wise, to always distinguish the honorable and just words and deeds in every situation, and to know how to enact each part of the code in every situation.

10 Humility: This is the keystone of all the rest. Without humility a knight becomes an arrogant boor, a mere caricature of what he would otherwise become.

"Chivalry," 1885 by Sir Frank Dicksee

“Chivalry,” 1885 by Sir Frank Dicksee (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The codes placed emphasis on action in combat, but were to be a moral code to live by. A noble or landowner gained nothing if a knight pillaged the lord’s peasants or stood-by while others raped, pillaged, and plundered the peasants, land and property of the lord. This chivalric code was intended to govern all of a knight’s actions, words, and deeds. All other forms of chivalry are rooted in the Knight’s Chivalric Warrior Code.

Domnei (or courtly love) was a medieval European conception of chivalry in love. It was never expressed between husband and wife (marriages at this time were arranged). Domnei was secret and between members of the nobility. Courtly love was “… a love at once illicit and morally elevating, passionate and disciplined, humiliating and exalting, human and transcendent.” Courtly love was secret and never consummated. Though this was in accordance of the chivalric code, I am sure the code was bent quite often if not broken completely on this last part.

The intent was for domnei to be chaste and the story of King Arthur teaches us of the consequences of  unchaste domnei. Though seldom recognized as such, unchaste domnei is a central point of the story. Do you remember what happened to Camelot after Queen Guinevere and Sir Lancelot consummated their love? King Arthur died and the paradise of Camelot was forever lost as well.

Camelot was paradise on earth. A perfect example of the code of chivalry in action. The peasants love and honored their king and queen. No knights were as chivalrous as the knights of Camelot. Even the round table advanced the principles of chivalry. When Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere engaged in their courtly love, all was still as it should be in the kingdom of Camelot. However, when that love was consummated, all was lost.

Though it is now believed that King Arthur was an historical figure, much of what we know about King Arthur is not historical fact. The story of King Arthur and Camelot very well may have been a parable meant to teach us what is possible under the code of chivalry, and what happens when we violate the code of chivalry.

Though we often think of medieval Europe when we think of chivalry, chivalry is as old as man, and as wide spread. Remember the knightly chivalric code of conduct? Now we go across oceans and time, centuries before medieval Europe to an island off the coast of Asia.


Samurai (Photo credit: kennabee)


Translated Bushido means, “the way of the warrior.” Confused? Where is Sir Lancelot and Sir Galahad? Ah. Let us look at the ten virtues of Bushido.

1 Rectitude

2 Courage

3 Benevolence

4 Respect

5 Honesty

6 Honor

7 Loyalty

8 Filial piety

9 Wisdom

10 Care for the aged

Look familiar? It should. But a warrior code as a moral code to live by does not end there.

Now we go further west, to China itself. The Youxia or “wandering force”. These knights wandered the land using force if need be, to right the wrongs done to the common people and the emperor, if need be. How did they know when and where to act, or what to do? That’s right, they had a warrior code, a moral code, a chivalric code they lived by. One last stop in our journey.

Now we go to the south shore of the Baltic Sea in the 10th century to the stronghold of Jomsborg. Vikings. These warriors too had a strict code that they lived by and guided every aspect of their lives. Membership was open to any man between 18 and 50. Any violation of the code was punished by expulsion from the order. Vikings as chivalrous knights … who would have thought?


Vikings-Clash (Photo credit: Tancread)

Every culture and time period has a warrior class with a code, a moral code, a chivalric code, that seeks to instill honor and discipline. A code to live by. Even the modern United States military has The Uniform Code of Military Justice. A code that seeks to control the conduct of its warriors both on and off the field of battle.

You see chivalry is as old as mankind. Often the code these warriors live by is many pages long, sometimes only a few short sentences, and sometimes not written down at all. No matter the language, no matter the country or time, each code of chivalry has one unifying principle.

Put others first.

Has Anyone Seen My Lance? — Chivalry Part 1


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Sunday’s Article

I always listen to you (though sometimes some of you may think otherwise). So, I am postponing my intended article on a personal hero of mine to do a second article on chivalry. I have gotten some great comments and e-mails (along with quite a few views), so I am taking the lance up again. Sunday part two on chivalry.

Have a great week!



People in the Bus for Public Transportation

People in the Bus for Public Transportation (Photo credit: epSos.de) (I wonder if that young man standing gave up his seat to the young woman sitting? I’d like to think so. Joe)

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