THE NOBLES OF FRANCE
CHIVALRY as we use the term denotes the ideals and practices considered suitable for a noble. The word itself is reminiscent of the milieu in which the ideas connected with it took shape--the aristocratic society of mediaeval France dominated by mounted warriors or chevaliers. As early as the eleventh century several sets of ideas appeared which represented different views of chivalric standards and behavior. During the next four hundred years these conceptions of the ideal nobleman were developed by and for the feudal class under the influence of a changing environment, intellectual, political, and economic. Hence it is necessary first of all to state very briefly the position of the noble class in the eleventh century and review the most important changes made in its status during the remainder of the Middle Ages.
Inheritance and environment had combined to give the nobles of eleventh-century France the personal characteristics of fierce, undisciplined, warrior chieftains. The Frankish aristocrats and the Saxon and Viking raiders had passed on to their descendants the pride, war- likeness, scorn of peaceful pursuits, impatience with restraint, and extreme individualism which had marked the wild Teutonic barbarian. These qualities in the noble strain had been strengthened by the events of the