Inspired by medieval manuscripts, a new virtual rulebook collects contemporary do’s and don’ts to paint a collective portrait of what chivalry means to us today
Is chivalry dead? Should it be?
Inspired by the new manuscripts exhibition Chivalry in the Middle Ages, the newly launched website TheChivalryProject.org offers a guidebook to chivalry in 2014—written entirely by you.
Created by L.A. artist Becca Lofchie, the Chivalry Project seeks to uncover what chivalry means in our digital age. What social rules of today overlap with the rules of “knights in shining armor”? What about medieval chivalry seems wrong to us today? What can we learn from it?
What Is Chivalry?
Chivalry was the code of conduct that governed the religious, moral, and civic behavior of noblemen in medieval Europe. In the Middle Ages, demonstrations of chivalry included “swearing military oaths to a lord, undertaking feats of heroism, making declarations of undying love, and displaying good manners and taste in dress,” in the words of Melanie Sympson, curator of Chivalry in the Middle Ages.
Using manuscripts from the Getty Museum’s permanent collection, the exhibition illustrates the notion of chivalry among the elite during its heyday.
While much has changed since the time of medieval lords and ladies, the term chivalry is still used today—but often in a vastly different context. The Chivalry Project aims to explore the many different ways chivalry manifests itself today.
Remake the Rules
You can add your voice to the Chivalry Project in two ways: digitally and in person at the Getty Center.
To make your mark on history digitally, visit The Chivalry Project online, where you can share your own rule of 21st-century chivalry for everyone to see. Write a rule you love—or one you love to hate. Browse through the submissions to the digital “rulebook,” which will grow over the course of the summer. The site will also host a growing compendium of medieval chivalrous rules, illustrated by manuscripts on view in the exhibition.
If you’re in Los Angeles, visit the Getty Center to see the manuscripts and participate in a free Chivalry Project workshop led by Becca. Participants of all ages are invited to illustrate their contemporary rule in the style of a medieval manuscript. The pages will be scanned on-site (so you can take your original home) and added to the digital Chivalry Project archive. Here’s a list of all workshop dates.
No matter how you choose to participate, be sure to check back in October, when we’ll report back on emerging themes in this collective “book.”
The exhibition—and submissions to the digital rulebook—close November 30.
Great idea!!! In fact, the revival and understanding of chivalry is such a good idea, that we here at Chivalry Today (www.chivalrytoday.com) have been embarked on this quest for more than 10 years. I hope Iris readers will check out our interview with the Getty’s curator of manuscripts, Dr. Beth Morrison, on our podcast page – as well as more than 300 articles about chivalry in history and the modern world by many of today’s top authors and experts.