The Knight and the Lion

"Yvain Meets the Knight of the Spring"

Even before the lovely song has ended, a knight on horseback comes pounding through the trees, blazing with anger and bellowing as loudly as if he were chasing a stag. No sooner do the two knights see each other than they rush together, showing all their deadly hate for one another.

They fight like madmen, full of fury, swinging their mighty lances until they shatter, sending pieces flying into the air. Neither will let his horse move back a single inch, and they stand in their saddles, smashing huge dents in each other's helmet and shield. Their gleaming swords slice through the straps holding their shields, and the shields themselves are slashed from top to bottom and hang down in ribbons, protecting nothing. They hack at each other's sides and arms and hips. The metal rings of their hauberks snap apart, letting the blood flow through. Their mail burns so hot with their bodies' heat, it is about as much use as a coat against these deadly weapons.

And still neither one will move from his spot - they are like two blocks of stone. There never were two knights more full of courage and fury, so determined to kill or be killed. It was a wonder such a fierce and desperate fight could go on for so long.

Yet both knights were as noble as they were brave. They knew how to obey the laws of chivalry. They would not stoop so low as to try and wound their enemy's horse. No, they stayed in their saddles the whole time and never set foot on the ground. It was a fine fight!

What was chivalry and what were its ‘laws’?