Why Was Chaucer’s Knight an Example Of Chivalry in “The Canterbury Tales”?

Updated 28 August, 2023
Chaucer's Knight in "The Canterbury Tales" epitomized chivalry through his unswerving loyalty, valor, and humility. His unwavering commitment to duty is apparent in his participation in both religious and secular battles. He fearlessly engaged in conflicts like the Crusades, showcasing his courage. Despite his prestigious background, the Knight displayed modesty and respect, embodying the humility integral to chivalry. These traits are vividly depicted in Chaucer's description of the Knight as a "true, perfect gentle-knight" in the General Prologue and his interactions with rivals Arcite and Palamon in the Knight's Tale, solidifying his status as a chivalric paragon.
Detailed answer:

Chaucer's portrayal of the Knight in "The Canterbury Tales" positions him as a prime example of chivalry, embodying the values and virtues associated with medieval knighthood.

The Knight's embodiment of chivalry is evident through his unwavering loyalty. He participated in numerous battles and campaigns, both religious and secular, demonstrating his commitment to serving his lord and country. Despite the danger and challenges, the Knight remained steadfast in his duty.

Courage was another hallmark of the Knight's chivalrous character. He had fought in various conflicts, including the Crusades, displaying exceptional bravery and fearlessness on the battlefield. His participation in the Siege of Algeciras and other military campaigns underscored his willingness to face adversity in defense of his beliefs and values.

Moreover, the Knight's humility added depth to his chivalric demeanor. Despite his accomplishments and prestigious background, he did not boast about his achievements. Instead, he carried himself with modesty and respect, which were highly regarded qualities in chivalry. His appearance, marked by a humble, worn tunic, was a reflection of his inner humility.

Direct examples from "The Canterbury Tales" reinforce the Knight's embodiment of chivalry. In the General Prologue, Chaucer describes the Knight as "a true, perfect gentle-knight," emphasizing his idealized qualities. The Knight's participation in the pilgrimage itself is noteworthy, as it reflects his piety and dedication to religious pursuits.

In the Knight's Tale, his conduct toward his imprisoned enemies, Arcite and Palamon, demonstrates chivalry. Despite their rivalry and captivity, he treats them with respect and courtesy, allowing them to retain their dignity. This reflects the chivalric principle of treating adversaries honorably.

In conclusion, Chaucer's Knight in "The Canterbury Tales" stands as an embodiment of chivalry through his loyalty, courage, and humility. His consistent adherence to the code of honor, his participation in battles, and his respectful treatment of others, even rivals, exemplify the values associated with knighthood during the medieval period. Through the Knight's character, Chaucer provides a positive representation of chivalry that serves as a reflection of the ideals of the time.


  1. 1. Chaucer, G. (2003). The Canterbury tales. Oxford University Press.
    2. Mann, J. S. (1991). Chaucer's Knight: Portrait of a Medieval Mercenary. Chaucer Review, 26(2), 123-136. doi:10.2307/25093168
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