Chivalry in The Kingdom of Acre

Amidst the warfare and bloodshed of the Middle Ages, a certain code of behavior served as a civilizing influence: the code of chivalry. In our recreation of medieval combat, chivalry is still important and appropriate. Although we have Rules Of The List to control safety aspects of our foot combat, many of the elements of a fighter's conduct on and off the field of combat are subject to his/her own personal sense of honor. Chivalrous behavior presents a better show for our spectators, and helps to keep the competition on a friendly level.

Chivalry is very much a subjective concept, but it does consist of certain definite elements. For our purposes, the most important of these are courteous behavior, good judgement, and ordinary common sense. These should be displayed at all times and under all circumstances.

The situtation where a judgement call is most commonly necessary is the question of striking from behind in a melee. The rules specify that you must wait until you are in your opponent's field of vision before striking. This means that he can see you; it does not mean he does see you. The most chivalrous action is to wait until you have both made eye contact. It is very difficult to determine the extent of your opponent's field of vision, and although you may kill a few more people by striking at what you believe to be the first legal instant, the times when your error will cause an unhealthy resentment. It is far better to give your opponent the benefit of the doubt, and insure a fair fight.

The next question is that of "ganging up" on an opponent during a melee. While it is not actually unchivalrous to deny a lone fighter single combat, and one of the major tools in melee combat is gaining numerical superiority, it is always a chivalrous gesture to grant single combat when the numbers are in your favor. Furthermore, when two or three fighters are already surrounding an opponent, the advisability of joining in the slaughter is questionable from both a chivalric and a safety viewpoint.

Questions of calibration should be kept open and friendly. If you think that you delivered a valid blow which your opponent did not accept, discuss the matter with him after the bout. Don't assume that his ignoring what you considered a good blow was intentional. If someone questions your calibration, think about it and keep it in mind the next time you fight. Calibration is an ongoing process and must constantly be refined. If the situtation warrants it, ask the opinion of the marshal running the list. If a fighter is calibrating too high (i.e. not accepting blows which you feel are of legal strength) and is not responding to your comments, bring the matter to the Marshallate's attention.

Never lose your temper in the lists! Any problem should be discussed outside the list area. Likewise, the authority of the marshal is ultimate; never argue with a marshal when you are in the lists.

Common sense and good judgement should be especially apparent whenever a combat is taking place before the public. In such instances a questionable blow should either be taken or ignored; all discussion to be reserved for after the public is gone. Within safety limitations, accept any opportunity to make theatrically chivalrous gestures during such bouts: when an opponent looses an arm, feel free to fight one-armed yourself as a gesture of chivalry. If he drops his sword, allow him to retrieve it. Recognize this as the perfect opportunity for granting single combat to an out-numbered opponent during melee.

Finally, any problems regarding safety, rules or opponents should be brought to the immediate attention of the Marshallate.