Slaying dragons, fighting for honor, rescuing damsels "surely, these must make a knight. Georges Duby, in his work William Marshal: The Flower of Chivalry, challenges this stereotypical fairytale presumption by examining the demands and intricacy of the knight's code of chivalry. This code, which played such an influential part in the choices made by the knights of old, still echoes in current customs.
Completely immersed in the idea of chivalry from the earliest days of childhood, the demands of chivalry lived and breathed within each knight. Each story he heard, every song he sang emanated the rules of the ethic (86). Loyalty stood foremost among the requirements. A man was expected to keep his word, never betraying his "sworn faith- (86). But such an expectation was not always the truth, as the knight measured his loyalty "according to a strict hierarchical framework- (86). Should loyalties conflict, the knight first remained loyal to those closet to him politically. Faith owed to more distant allies proved rather flexible when eclipsed by stronger ties (86). With this hierarchical loyalty, no one could take offense at being displaced by a closer commitment (86).
Stepping 800 years into the future, relations continue to emphasize the importance of loyalty. Siblings stand up and fight for each other. Husbands and wives take vows to remain loyal to each other. Sports players bond both on and off the practice field. All kinds of clubs, groups, and even gangs not only count on, but also depend on the loyalty of their members for survival. In addition to forming such personal loyalties, we as Americans weave ties to intangible elements. We swear allegiance to the American principle, rather than to an individual such as the President. We remain loyal to religious ideas instead of a particular priest or pastor. Through the adoption of these loyalties, our present society steps beyond the knight's characterization of fidelity to include both tangible and intangible loyalty.