CHIVALRY, n. 1. Knighthood; a military dignity, founded on the service of soldiers on horseback, called knights; a service formerly deemed more honorable than service in infantry.2. The qualifications of a knight, as valor and dexterity in arms.3. The system of knighthood; the privileges, characteristics or manners of knights; the practice of knight-errantry, or the heroic defense of life and honor.4. An adventure or exploit, as of a knight.5. The body or order of knights.6. In English law, a tenure of lands by knights service; that is, by the condition of performing service on horseback, or of performing some noble or military service to his lord. This was general or special; general, when the tenant held per servitium militare, without specification of the particular service; special, when the particular service was designated. When the tenant held only of the king, the tenure was regal; when he held of a common person, it was called common. This service was also grand sergeantry, as when the tenant was bound to perform service to the king in his own person; and petit sergeantry, when he was bound to yield to the king annually some small thing, as a sword or dagger. Chivalry that might be held of a common person, was called escuage, scutagium, or shield service.Court of chivalry, a court formerly held before the Lord High Constable and Earl Marshal of England, having cognizance of contracts and other matters relating to deeds of arms and war. It had jurisdiction both of civil and criminal causes, but no power to enforce its decisions by fine or imprisonment, not being a court of record. It is now nearly extinct.
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